Saturday, September 30, 2006


Just had to pass along this op-ed piece from the New York Times by Robert Harris:

IN the autumn of 68 B.C. the world’s only military superpower was dealt a profound psychological blow by a daring terrorist attack on its very heart. Rome’s port at Ostia was set on fire, the consular war fleet destroyed, and two prominent senators, together with their bodyguards and staff, kidnapped.

The incident, dramatic though it was, has not attracted much attention from modern historians. But history is mutable. An event that was merely a footnote five years ago has now, in our post-9/11 world, assumed a fresh and ominous significance. For in the panicky aftermath of the attack, the Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty. One cannot help wondering if history is repeating itself.


Nevertheless, at a tumultuous mass meeting in the center of Rome, Pompey’s opponents were cowed into submission, the Lex Gabinia passed (illegally), and he was given his power. In the end, once he put to sea, it took less than three months to sweep the pirates from the entire Mediterranean. Even allowing for Pompey’s genius as a military strategist, the suspicion arises that if the pirates could be defeated so swiftly, they could hardly have been such a grievous threat in the first place.

But it was too late to raise such questions. By the oldest trick in the political book — the whipping up of a panic, in which any dissenting voice could be dismissed as “soft” or even “traitorous” — powers had been ceded by the people that would never be returned. Pompey stayed in the Middle East for six years, establishing puppet regimes throughout the region, and turning himself into the richest man in the empire.


Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11. The vote by the Senate on Thursday to suspend the right of habeas corpus for terrorism detainees, denying them their right to challenge their detention in court; the careful wording about torture, which forbids only the inducement of “serious” physical and mental suffering to obtain information; the admissibility of evidence obtained in the United States without a search warrant; the licensing of the president to declare a legal resident of the United States an enemy combatant — all this represents an historic shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the executive.

Friday, September 29, 2006

In Memoriam

My Prissy passed away tonight. She was the most opinionated, beautiful, and ridiculous animal I ever knew. May she somewhere tuck herself into blankets, drink directly from faucets, eat yogurt, and be cuddled (but only when she's in the right mood). Love you, Tub. And miss you already. Rest in peace.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Because the Inquisition was so enlightened...

This is ridiculous.

I'll just quote from the NYT editorial:

Rushing Off a Cliff

Published: September 28, 2006

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation ... so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.


They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Anyone else a tad bit worried that this bumbling administration now has overturned laws which were hundreds of years in the making? And could claim pretty much any leftist group/person was suspected of "terrorism"? Dear God, they were claiming Ned Lamont was supporting the terrorists by running against Lieberman.

Terror really is the artificial exaggeration of an unrealistic fear. Americans are more likely to be hit by lightning than killed in a terrorist attack. Hell, we're more likely to go bankrupt after a medical emergency -- millions of us don't have health insurance. But somehow we're investing all these resources into a war on terror that, thus far, seems to be only increasing the danger of terrorism, rather than diminishing it. I'm all for better intelligence agencies and targeting actual terrorist groups, but not for elective warfare. Trillions of dollars of debt, so that we're now LESS SAFE by experts' standards?

If we'd used that money to invest in education, music and arts programs, anti-dangerous drug programs (ie, I'm talking meth, not marijuana), health insurance programs, more jobs, more help for those in poverty, national parks, efforts to develop viable alternative energy resources, etc., wouldn't we be better off than we are after years in Iraq? And after watching Afghanistan sink back toward Taliban-esque policies? Why is big government lauded in elective wars, but not in domestic policies that make life better rather than worse for its citizens?

I think we'd have been more successful by being the "city upon the hill."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Daily Show Quote

So I jotted this down from a few nights ago, which is hilarious... it's about Bush's attempts to defend his still being in office:

"George W. Bush is the right man to lead us in the era POST whatever horrible calamity he leads us into next." - John Oliver, Daily Show

Bush vs. Reality

Bush has this really (not so) clever and obvious "trick" of simply repeating himself over, and over, and over again, until he thinks everyone MUST believe him, 'cause gosh darn it, he's said he, hasn't he? The DECIDER has weighed in on the situation, and he'll be damned if reality doesn't bend to his will.

And, the NIE report is pretty damning:

The war in Iraq has become a “cause célèbre” for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S. that probably will get worse before it gets better, federal intelligence analysts conclude in a report at odds with President Bush’s contention of a world growing safer.

In the bleak report, declassified and released Tuesday on Bush’s orders, the nation’s most veteran analysts conclude that despite serious damage to the leadership of al-Qaida, the threat from Islamic extremists has spread both in numbers and in geographic reach.

Bush and his top advisers have said the formerly classified assessment of global terrorism supported their arguments that the world is safer because of the war. But more than three pages of stark judgments warning about the spread of terrorism contrasted with the administration’s glass-half-full declarations.

Yeah... I think I'm gonna go with the "most veteran analysts" in the nation over the C-average shoulda-been-a-cowboy who got us into this mess (and hence has every reason in the world to try to cover up just how badly things are going).

Check out the whole thing at MSNBC

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Last weekend pre-classes...

It's been eventful...

Yesterday I talked to Sarah for a while, and she was incredibly helpful. She invited me into the city, and I thought, yes, I'll go. We hung out with Lee & Heather at a coffee/wine bar, got tacos in the Mission, and saw Heather's beautiful new apartment. Hayes St., wood floors, afternoon sun in the kitchen... perfect place.

Today I had laundry duty, and then headed onto campus... saw the remains of the brunch feast for the incoming first years, and sat in the terrace rooms with books and outlining materials. I've now got a timeline to help me conceptualize events with publishing dates, and an idea map to think about connections. Tomorrow will keep working on it.

This past evening I went with James and his roommate to see Little Miss Sunshine, which was HILARIOUS. I haven't laughed so hard since Josh Blue.

The only sad part of the day, was realizing that I didn't get to go on the hiking trip. Reminded me of last year, and realizing that a group was going hiking. The funny thing was, James had told me about going (possibly on Sunday), and I had been completely excited. But then, I didn't hear anything else, and wasn't sure if there was interest or not. So I finally have signed up for the outing club's mailing list. Maybe I can tag along at some point.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Meatrix

This is awesome.

"The Meatrix" is what we tell ourselves about the meat/dairy products we buy...

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's the cows, stupid.

So when I first heard about this spinach e coli thing, I thought: "Huh. How ridiculous. E coli comes from cow sh*t which not so mysteriously ends up in cow meat that people then eat. How funny that people are going to continue feeling safe eating (US) beef (I'll just quote Fast Food Nation: "There's sh*t in the meat"), but are now going to AVOID eating one of the healthiest things we could possibly consume: spinach." I didn't think much more about it, until I came across this article:

Indeed, this epidemic, which has infected more than 100 people and resulted in at least one death, probably has little do with the folks who grow and package your greens. The detective trail ultimately leads back to a seemingly unrelated food industry — beef and dairy cattle.


Where does this particularly virulent strain come from? It’s not found in the intestinal tracts of cattle raised on their natural diet of grass, hay and other fibrous forage. No, O157 thrives in a new — that is, recent in the history of animal diets — biological niche: the unnaturally acidic stomachs of beef and dairy cattle fed on grain, the typical ration on most industrial farms. It’s the infected manure from these grain-fed cattle that contaminates the groundwater and spreads the bacteria to produce, like spinach, growing on neighboring farms.

...When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold.

This is good news. In a week, we could choke O157 from its favorite home — even if beef cattle were switched to a forage diet just seven days before slaughter, it would greatly reduce cross-contamination by manure of, say, hamburger in meat-packing plants. Such a measure might have prevented the E. coli outbreak that plagued the Jack in the Box fast food chain in 1993.

Unfortunately, it would take more than a week to reduce the contamination of ground water, flood water and rivers — all irrigation sources on spinach farms — by the E-coli-infected manure from cattle farms.

...There remains only one long-term remedy, and it’s still the simplest one: stop feeding grain to cattle.

California’s spinach industry is now the financial victim of an outbreak it probably did not cause, and meanwhile, thousands of acres of other produce are still downstream from these lakes of E. coli-ridden cattle manure. So give the spinach growers a break, and direct your attention to the people in our agricultural community who just might be able to solve this deadly problem: the beef and dairy farmers.

Nina Planck is the author of “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.’’

Almost done. And another year begins.

This afternoon I had my quals exam. Unfortunately, I didn't think very well on my feet. I got over my nervousness, but in the process I lost sight of the "big picture." Missed the opportunity to think about and answer some good questions... afterwards, of course, I came up with all sorts of answers. Of course. But, I'm going to have something of a second chance, as I "pass conditionally," on having a talk with one of the profs. in my area, and asking myself questions. I was upset -- it's been a hell of a long summer, and I knew all sorts of facts and pieces of info and quotes, but hadn't really processed and distilled everything. So I think I'm going to make an "idea diagram," and get to the point of feeling like I've taken a step back from the micro- to the macroscopic. Jill, who is incredibly rational and helpful, gave me a pep talk. About my trying to work on speaking confidently all last year, and the benefits of getting some one-on-one help with that. She's right, of course, and I'm trying to internalize that. But I still feel rather dumb. I wanted more of what I DID know to come across, and I wasn't aggressive enough to interrupt and redirect questions. And I should have had more pre-thought ideas on hand.

So after wandering blindly (rather like the fallen angels in Paradise Lost, post-climbing-out-of-the-burning-lake) and thinking (which can make a hell of heaven, and a heaven of hell), I found myself waiting at the bus stop. I went food shopping. Two trips. Carried back yogurt, wheat crisps, feta cheese, ice cream, soap, dried mango, feta cheese, 100% cocoa powder, plastic wrap, italian plums, etc. It was soothing. Reminded me of White Noise -- looking at labels, smelling soaps, considering the sodium contents.

And then I came home and had my not-so-good TJ's sushi, while watching Grey's Anatomy & that new show on after it (which is the title I am giving it).

Monday, September 11, 2006

What I did this summer

So today I turned in my quals list -- the list of poems, plays, essays, novels, etc. that I can be examined on (my test is the 21st).

Here's what I read this summer:

Beowulf (ca. 700-1000)

Geoffrey Chaucer
Canterbury Tales (ca. 1386-1395)
“The General Prologue”
“The Miller”
“The Reeve”
“The Wife of Bath”
“The Clerk”
“The Pardoner”
“The Nun’s Priest”
“The Retraction”

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (ca. 1350-1400)

Sir Philip Sidney
The Defense of Poesy (ca. 1579)

Francis Bacon
“Of Negotiating” (1597)
“Of Marriage and Single Life” (1612)
“Of Superstition” (1612)
“Of Truth” (1625)
“Of Studies” (1625)

John Milton
Areopagitica (1644)

Christopher Marlowe
The Jew of Malta (ca. 1592)

John Webster
The Duchess of Malfi (1613/1623)

William Shakespeare:
Merchant of Venice (Q 1600)
Hamlet (Q2 1604-5; F 1623)
Twelfth Night (F 1623)
Othello (F 1623)
King Lear (Q 1608; F 1623)
Tempest (F 1623)

Sir Thomas Wyatt
“The long love that in my thought doth harbor” (1557)
“Whoso list to hunt” (1557)
“Farewell, Love” (1557)
“My Galley” (1557)
“Divers doth use” (1557)

Sir Philip Sidney (From Astrophil and Stella, 1591, 1598)
#1: “Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show”
#7: “When Nature made her chief work, Stella’s eyes”
#31: “With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb’st the skies”
#49: “I on my horse, and Love on me doth try”

William Shakespeare
#1: “From fairest creatures we desire increase” (1609)
# 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (1609)
#55: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments” (1609)
#116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” (1609)
#130: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (1609)
#138: “When my love swears that she is made of truth” (1599)

John Milton
Paradise Lost (1674)
Books I, II, III, IV, IX

John Donne
From Songs and Sonnets (1633)
“The Sun Rising”
“A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”
“The Flea”
“Song: Go and catch a falling star”
“Song: Sweetest love, I do not go”
“Elegy 19. To His Mistress Going to Bed”
“The Relic
From Holy Sonnets (1633)
#14: “Batter my heart, three-personed God”

Andrew Marvell
“Bermudas” (1681)
“To His Coy Mistress” (1681)

Queen Elizabeth
“The doubt of future foes” (1568, 1589)
“On Monsieur’s Departure” (1582)
“To Sir Amyas Paulet” (1586)
“To Henry III, King of France” (1587)
“Speech to the Troops at Tilbury” (1588)
“The ‘Golden Speech’” (1601)

John Locke
“An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” (1690, 1700) (Norton excerpts)

Jonathan Swift
“An Essay on Modern Education” (1728)
“A Modest Proposal” (1729)

Samuel Johnson
Preface to Shakespeare (1765)

William Wycherley
The Country Wife (1672)

William Congreve
The Way of the World (1700)

Alexander Pope
“Essay on Criticism” (1711)
“Rape of the Lock” (1717)
“Eloisa to Abelard” (1717)

Thomas Gray
“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751)

William Blake
Songs of Innocence (1789)
“The Little Black Boy”
“The Chimney Sweeper”
“Little Lamb”
Songs of Experience (1794)
“The Chimney Sweeper”
“The Tyger”

Daniel Defoe
Robinson Crusoe (1719)

Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels (1726, 1735)

Samuel Richardson
Pamela (1740)

Laurence Sterne
A Sentimental Journey (1768)

Aphra Behn
Oroonoko (1688)

Mary Wollstonecraft
Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792)
(Excerpts in the Norton)

William Wordsworth
“Preface to Lyrical Ballads” (1802)

John Ruskin
Modern Painters and The Stones of Venice
(Excerpts in the Norton)

Matthew Arnold
Culture and Anarchy (1868, 1869)
(Excerpts in the Norton)

George Eliot
“Margaret Fuller and Mary Wollstonecraft” (1855)
“Silly Novels by Lady Novelists”

William Wordsworth
“Strange fits of passion have I known” (1800)
“Lucy Gray” (1800)
“I wandered lonely as a cloud” (1807)
“My heart leaps up” (1807)
“The world is too much with us” (1807)
“Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” (1807)
John Keats
“On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer” (1816)
“On Seeing the Elgin Marbles” (1817)
“On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again” (1838)
“Ode on a Grecian Urn” (1820)
“Ode on Melancholy” (1820)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
“Mariana” (1830)
“The Lady of Shalott” (1832, 1842)
“Ulysses” (1842)
In Memoriam (1850)
54: “O, yet we trust that somehow good”
55: “The wish, that of the living whole”
56: “ ‘So careful of the type?’ but no”
57: “Peace; come away; the song of woe”
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1854)

Robert Browning
“Porphyria’s Lover” (1836, 1842)
“My Last Duchess” (1842)
“Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” (1842)
“Fra Lippo Lippi” (1855)
“Caliban upon Setebos” (1864)

Christina Rossetti
“After Death” (1862)
“An Apple-Gathering” (1862)
“Winter: My Secret” (1862)
“Goblin Market” (1862)
“In an Artist’s Studio” (1896)

Gerard Manley Hopkins
“God’s Grandeur” (1918)
“As Kingfishers Catch Fire” (1918)
“The Windhover” (1918)
“Pied Beauty” (1918)
“Spring” (1918)

Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility (1811)

Mary Shelley
Frankenstein (1818)

Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre (1847)

Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights (1848)

Elizabeth Gaskell
North and South (1855)

Charles Dickens
Our Mutual Friend (1864-5)

D. H. Lawrence
Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)
T.S. Eliot
“Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1919)
“The Metaphysical Poets” (1921)

Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest (1895/1899)

Tom Stoppard
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966, 1967)

T.S. Eliot
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915)
“The Waste Land” (1922)
“Journey of the Magi” (1927)

William Butler Yeats
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” (1890)
“Easter 1916” (1916)
“The Second Coming” (1920)
“Leda and the Swan” (1924)
“Sailing to Byzantium” (1927)
“Byzantium” (1930)

W.H. Auden
“Musée des Beaux Arts” (1940)
“Lullaby” (1940)
“In Memory of W.B. Yeats” (1940)
“The Unknown Citizen” (1940)
“The Shield of Achilles” (1955)

Philip Larkin
“Church Going” (1955)
“Talking in Bed” (1964)
“Sad Steps” (1974)
“High Windows” (1974)
“Aubade” (1977)

Seamus Heaney
“Digging” (1966)
“Death of a Naturalist” (1966)
“Blackberry Picking” (1966)
“Punishment” (1975)
“The Skunk” (1979)

Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness (1902)

James Joyce
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

D.H. Lawrence
Women in Love (1920)

Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur
Letters from an American Farmer (1782) Excerpts from the Norton:
Letter III: “What Is an American”
Letter IV: “Description of the Island of Nantucket, with the Manners, Customs, Policy, and Trade of the Inhabitants”
Letter IX: “Description of Charles-Town; Thoughts on Slavery; on Physical Evil; A Melancholy Scene”
Letter X: “On Snakes; and on the Hummingbird”
Letter XII: “Distresses of a Frontier Man”

Washington Irving
“Rip Van Winkle” (1819)
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

Edgar Allen Poe
“The Imp of the Perverse” (1842)
“The Philosophy of Composition” (1846)
“The Poetic Principle” (1850) (Excerpts from the Norton)

Henry David Thoreau
Walden, or Life in the Woods (1846, 1850) Selections:
“Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

Herman Melville
Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866)
“The Portent”
“The March Into Virginia”
“A Utilitarian View of the Monitor’s Flight”
“The House-top”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“A Psalm of Life” (1838)
“The Slave’s Dream” (1842)
“The Fire of Driftwood” (1849)
“The Jewish Cemetery at Newport” (1854)
“My Lost Youth” (1855)

Charles Brockden Brown
Wieland (1798)

Edgar Allen Poe
“The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
“The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843)
“The Purloined Letter” (1844)

Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Herman Melville
Moby Dick (1851)

Walt Whitman
“Preface to Leaves of Grass” (1855)

Henry James
“The Art of Fiction” (1884)

Mark Twain
“How to Tell a Story” (1897)

Emily Dickinson
#324: “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church⎯” (1864)
#448: “This was a Poet⎯It is That” (1929)
#465: “I heard a Fly buzz⎯when I died⎯” (1896)
#709: “Publication⎯is the Auction” (1929)
#712: “Because I could not stop for Death⎯” (1890)
#754: “My Life had stood⎯a Loaded Gun⎯” (1929)
#1129: “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant⎯” (1945)

Robert Frost
“Mending Wall” (1914)
“Home Burial” (1914)
“After Apple-Picking” (1914)
“The Wood-Pile” (1914)
“Birches” (1916)

Wallace Stevens
“The Emperor of Ice Cream” (1923)
“Disillusionment of 10 o’clock” (1931)
“Sunday Morning” (1915, 1923)
“Anecdote of the Jar” (1923)
“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1931)

William Carlos Williams
“Portrait of a Lady” (1920, 1934)
“Queen-Anne’s-Lace” (1921)
“Spring and All” (1923)
“The Red Wheelbarrow” (1923)
“This is Just to Say” (1934)
“Lear” (1948)
“Landscape of the Fall of Icarus” (1962)

Stephen Crane
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)

Kate Chopin
The Awakening (1899)

William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying (1930)

Zora Neale Hurston
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

Ralph Ellison
“Twentieth-Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity” (1953)
“Change the Joke and Slip the Yoke” (1958)
“Stephen Crane and the Mainstream of American Fiction” (1960)

Tom Wolfe
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

Elizabeth Bishop
“The Map” (1935, 1946)
“The Fish” (1940, 1946)
“The Armadillo” (1957, 1965)
“Crusoe in England” (1971, 1976)
“One Art” (1976)

Sylvia Plath
“Metaphors” (1960)
“Mirror” (1961, 1971)
“Blackberrying” (1962, 1965)
“Daddy” (1963)
“Lady Lazarus” (1965)
“Morning Song” (1965)

Sandra Cisneros
“Preface” to My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1987)
“My Wicked Wicked Ways” (1987)
“Love Poem for a Non-Believer” (1994)
“I am So Depressed I Feel Like Jumping in the River Behind My House But Won’t Because I’m 38 and Not 18”
“You Bring Out the Mexican in Me” (1994)
“Loose Woman” (1994)

Ken Kesey
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)

Sandra Cisneros
House on Mango Street (1984)

Don DeLillo
White Noise (1985)

Eudora Welty
“Death of a Traveling Salesman” (1936)
“A Piece of News” (1941)
“Why I Live at the P.O.” (1941)
“A Worn Path” (1941)

Tennessee Williams
A Streetcar Named Desire (1947)

Wendy Wasserstein
Uncommon Women and Others (1977)

J.M. Coetzee
Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life (1997)

Derek Walcott
In a Green Night (1962)
“A Far Cry from Africa”
“Ruins of a Great House”
The Castaway and Other Poems (1965)
“The Castaway”
“Crusoe’s Island”
“Crusoe’s Journal”
Sea Grapes (1976)
“Sea Grapes”
“New World”
“Adam’s Song”

Chinua Achebe
Things Fall Apart (1958)

J. M. Coetze
Foe (1987)

Ahh, Mt. Hood!

Mer already posted the photo of us looking at the mountain, so here we are, looking back at the camera.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bush: Bad for the Land

I'm so glad Tennessee Guerilla Women posted this. 1) Because it sums up all the ways in which Bush has screwed over wilderness areas & 2) because the author clearly is familiar with the West's beauty: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail & spending time on Mt. Hood.

People like Bush have been born into so much money, they can't seem to comprehend that most Americans don't own huge tracts of land (a condition which his policies seem to delight in, as agribusiness kills the family farm). So wilderness areas and national parks seem increasingly important. Especially since, as studies have shown, kids who don't spend time in nature/big backyards grow up to be adults who don't give a damn about protecting it. But the concept of land that isn't used for private use or big business, is, apparently, incomprehensible for people like Bush.

Which is why Bush's dream wilderness policy involves, well, not having wilderness. Just more logging and oil fields. Because God knows, we don't have enough developed land yet! Manifest Destiny of Big Business & Suburbs hits the forests.

My comments are in the bold brackets.

Stained Land
By Nicholas D. Kristof

A highlight of my summers is the annual backpacking trips with my children. This year I took my youngest, who is 8, through 65 miles of the Oregon Cascades, giving her the chance to suffer mosquito bites, slip on snowfields, cross raging streams on rickety logs and enjoy other wilderness thrills.

She is now a confirmed backpacker, and we’ve decided that we’re going to hike together from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail — when we’re both grown up.

This wilderness and trail system is a legacy of past presidents, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt. There aren’t many ways in which our lives today are shaped by a president who governed more than a century ago — or in which President Bush will affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren in the 22nd century — but wilderness policy is one.

Until now, the pattern has been for presidents of both parties to expand protections of natural areas, with a bipartisan record of adding to national forests and other protected areas.

... [But Bush is changing that]...

“There have been systematic efforts to weaken protections for wilderness-quality lands across the public lands estate, and to make it harder to protect these places in the future,” notes Peter Rafle of the Wilderness Society. Last month, a federal judge blocked an administration scheme to harvest timber in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument, criticizing it as “incomprehensible.” ...

[Um, yeah, it is incomprehensible.]

A few examples:

¶Last year, Mr. Bush formally repealed President Clinton’s “Roadless Area Conservation Rule,” which had provided broad protections for 58 million acres of national forest lands without roads.

[Because we need snow mobiles EVERYWHERE! No where shall you enjoy quiet! Must use as much gasoline as possible! Drive off road vehicles, shun hiking!]

¶Mr. Bush has also used his “healthy forest” initiative as a way to promote logging over wilderness. He is right that forests are too vulnerable to fires today, but dispatching commercial logging crews is not the solution for most areas.

[This is brilliant. Let's protect the trees from fire... by CUTTING DOWN THE TREES. Whaaa...? I agree, there are better ways around this. I can see it now, a bill to promote Smokey the Bear protection policies, and realize that sometimes wildfires happen, naturally.]

¶In some parts of the country, Mr. Bush in effect has adopted a “no more wilderness” policy. In 2003, the administration announced that millions of acres of land in Utah and elsewhere in the West would never again be considered for designation as wilderness.

¶The administration has offered oil and gas leases on 70,000 acres of proposed wilderness in Colorado and 190,000 acres in Utah. Once oil or gas development occurs, the land is lost — no longer eligible to be included in the wilderness system.

¶Mr. Bush is trying to turn vast, pristine parts of Alaska into oil wells; some oil and mineral development is essential, but the past bipartisan sense of balance is lost. Mr. Bush is pushing to drill in many Alaskan lands that had been protected by past Republican presidents.

[What if we lessened our dependence on Middle Eastern oil by not just drilling up a temporary reserve of our own (which, let's face it, couldn't meet our energy needs for even a few years, let alone for the forseeable future), but by actually investing seriously in new technology?]

One of my greatest outdoor memories is of spotting a herd of caribou in the Alaskan Arctic, and then creeping up on them. Finally, they spotted me — and then they rushed up for a closer look at a genuine human. Drilling would change this land forever.

Many of these efforts took shape under Gale Norton when she was interior secretary. Now that Ms. Norton has been replaced by Dirk Kempthorne, we have a chance to pause and take a deep breath. Mr. Kempthorne seems more measured than Ms. Norton, and let’s hope he’ll take as his model Gifford Pinchot, the legendary Republican politician who founded our system of national forests and coined the word “conservation” as it applies to wilderness.

A week ago, I took my 12-year-old son out on his third trip around Mount Hood this summer. The weather was glorious as we started, but by nightfall a cold rain was pounding down on our tarp shelter. The next morning, we found ourselves stumbling through driving snow — and wishing we were on a couch watching TV instead. But that’s the wonder of the wilderness, an essential part of America’s greatness: time in the wild is the best way to tame our arrogance, to remind ourselves that we are temporary intruders upon a larger canvas. It puts us in our place, at times by freezing our toes.

So that’s why I mourn for our wild lands. In 100 years, Mr. Bush’s mistakes in Iraq may not matter anymore, but our wilderness heritage lost on his watch can never be restored.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Post-UP Update

I never did write much about the last couple weeks in Madison, so I'm going to do so now...

Friday after we got back, we saw a Talking Heads cover band. Surprisingly good. I'd definitely see them again.

Tuesday a group of us went to see Through a Scanner Darkly. Which was excellent. And we were all rather boggled by the end, I think.

Weds: One last Devil's Lake trip... We finally did some hiking there, had only seen two trails, and those the previous summer. Went throug the Devil's Gateway (Very Paradise Lost, right?) and saw Balance Rock (not that impressive). Beautiful views though of the lake and surrounding hills and countryside.

Then we went out for dinner, at this vegetarian place called The Cheese Factory. Very '50's-cutesy. Amazing to see a menu of ONLY vegetarian food. In fact, I don't think I've seen such a thing before, ever. So they had various meat-flavored tofus/seitans, etc., and a surprising range of ethnic plates. I had "El paso al cielo" (the path to heaven), which was cornbread with creamy corn salsa and cheese and peppers, a fried banana & pineapple & salsa on the side. Andrew had veggie goulash. And since this place is all about the desserts, we had the most decadent chocolate layer cake I've ever tasted for dessert (which we saved for the drive-in). Fluffy & light and moist cake and whipped chocolate centers... ahh.

The drive-in was awesome. We saw Talladega Nights w/ Will Ferrell & Snakes on a Plane. Hilarious combination. Stuffed myself with popcorn & cake. And an apple to make me feel better.

I ended up staying in Madison 3 extra days since the airlines didn't charge... Living on borrowed time. Monday we made a brief appearance at friends' bbq, ran some errands, and had pizza... Watched Weeds, the newest show I'm addicted to.

Tues... sadness, last day in Madison. Did some errands on State St., read A Streetcar Named Desire, and had dinner at The Weary Traveler. Packing took a while... brownie & ice cream for dessert... sleep. Melancholy, with the combination of the end of summer, leaving Andrew, and coming back to CA for the quals test. Kills me.

On the bright side, I'm staying at Adam & Amanda's place... which gives me some time to not live out of boxes (after those boxes somehow get from storage to my apartment on campus). It's an adorable, sunny place, with wood floors. I love how they've decorated. But then of course, that would make me sad too, because my dream apt. for living a while in Madison w/ Andrew is on similar lines... floor of a Victorian house, w/ wood floors, a bay window w/ window seat, and, of course, a west-facing porch.

I forgot that the clouds burn off here... I woke up this morning to overcast skies, and was reading in bed since it has the best morning light, and gradually the sun came out and the sky darkened to blue.

And I bought a pound of organic figs at Trader Joe's for 3$. The only cheap thing in CA.