31 May 2006

Suu Kyi on the road, August 2000 (that long ago?)

She's out again, that woman
and without a speck of humour,
a fingerpinch of om.
She hangs her tarnished prize around our necks
and it stinks;
a carcass of a cause
dead to our enthusiasms
because, well you know
that was sort of ten years ago and we've passed on.
Fun, she isn't.
Smiling, she lectures us
and we don't like it.

"Less talk and more action"
she has the effrontery to say.
It rankles because we cared
we really did.

But she's still singing the same old tune
without even a sexy little ring to it.
Pragmatically speaking,
we have grown and she has not.
That must be why she's doomed
to sweat in that car,
holding on as long as she can,
and then when she cannot,
reaching for the potty.

At least something has improved. We don't see and hear her any more, especially now.

As much as we’d like to pretend that actors’ real lives don’t matter, we know it’s not true. We care. - Paige Ferrari, in a headline story today in MSNBC, Brad vs. Vince, Who's the Money

05 May 2006

Have you seen the Circus of the Spineless?

If you haven't, then only death should stop you. Is that in bad taste? Not at all, to the earthy performers in this circus, some of whom would find you very tasty indeed.
Go to the Circus

That memento mori: The big picture and little things

JP commented on the memento mori I posted a few days ago, so perhaps you want to see the full picture, as the first picture was cropped from this.

Although I'm quite taken with the neo-Mannerist Lady of the Tripod, my own taste favours the spider, and only a touch of the shell and the watch. There is yet another spider that attached itself to the cord and died, but it is so small that I don't know if you can see it. A pity.

From small things, big things grow, the saying goes.

Yet the big thing, I think, is the small. The world's greatest wonders and most powerful forces are so small that they can't be seen with the naked eye. Everything big is composed of small, and without them, that big thing would be a nothing.

You're most likely to be killed by something that needs an electron microscope to view it, not a telescope.

Michelle Richmond, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, talks about her son, Oscar, in an essay that is extraordinarily beautiful and funny — and fragile. I want to cheer for his parents who, like their son, look at things with an abnormal perspective. They see dignity where others would crush it underfoot.

At 8 1/2 months, he pays no mind to horses and windmills, fire trucks and Ferris wheels, gigantic cartoon characters of the sort one finds in low-rent pizza joints. He does not care for anything of stature, excepting his father, who, at 6 feet and change, registers on Oscar's line of vision only when sitting down. What my son notices are those things small enough to be contained in multiple in a matchbox . . . perhaps he will be a great miniaturist, or a microbiologist or entomologist, destined to champion the dignity of small things.

Hopefully, Oscar will never grow out of this fascination with the small. I suspect that he will be short-sighted, and that if he is lucky, he'll have abnormally fine close-up power of sight. I did, till a few years ago, and what I could see with this vision has always been precious to me. Lichen flowers, the hairs on a piece of lawn-grass, parrots' eyelashes, the mites on a dung beetle's fur. Normal sight, however, was never something I possessed, and so, possibly like this baby will, I wore glasses for most of my life. Next week, I'll be getting my eyeballs' lenses replaced in a supposedly common procedure in which the eye's lens is removed and replaced by one of polymer. The reason for me is cataracts. The result, supposedly, is great though not perfect sight. Normally, the result is tuned for better far vision than close, and reading glasses are needed. I've wanted to keep the short-sightedness and don't give a damn for the far.

I've fretted about this result so much that I'm a pain to be around. Will the short-sightedness I still possess be lost? It used to be fine as a jeweller's loupe (almost eyelash close), though I couldn't see to the end of a ruler.

Last night I dreamt my fantasy — two different lenses inserted, and a black patch to wear. The left eye gets 'normal' vision, with even the beautiful shattered glass of astigmatism eliminated. When I wear the patch over that eye, though, I can see like an electron microscope.

I wonder what Oscar will dream of when he grows big.

04 May 2006

Argument with the mechanic

"Poor dear," he clucked to the tractor while he gave her a rejuvenation treatment. He has only just given us the bill for that, and it looks right. But only a while ago I had quite a time with this mechanic, arguing with him over the bill for our car.

It looks like just a car that is older than most in any car park, though not older in any romantic way. She needed her annual check-up for registration, and a service.

The car is a 'she' to him, the mechanic. If she were a human, I'd get a rundown on the state of every twist in the gastro tract. Since she's a car and I'm clearly more interested in biologicals than mechanicals, he teaches me patiently that she's alive, too. He's actually made 'her' interesting, and I have begun to think of this machine as something more friendly than the one I'm using now (Can any computer be a 'dear'?).

This car service was overdue, as problems had added up. Quite a bit of work was needed to keep the car going — and parts needed to be replaced. The parts added up in cost (no profit there to the mechanic) to about $200. He was quite upset that they came to so much. So he discounted his own work to keep the bill down, till his work was almost nothing. "Don't cheat yourself," I said. "I can't accept this."

"I can't charge you any more," he said. "I can never expect to make money. After all, I only work with my hands."

Generosity abounds when adjective nixed

Mexico Interested in Buying Bolivia Gas announces the Associated Press today, in the Houston Chronicle and Business Week.

Bolivia already has gas, but it would love some water, and how Mexico obtains it wouldn't matter to Bolivia. Mexico could steal it from the USA, contract to a company of naked mole rats who'd tunnel from Wales to Bolivia for the cost of roots, or Mexico could go conventional and just buy the stuff from Mars. Whatever, it certainly would make a story if they bought or gave Bolivia something Bolivians needed. But even if the story did say Water, countries are forever expressing interest in doing good. It's only a story when it happens.

More headlines from today's nooz:

Chavez offers Bolivia gas, cash - Al Jazeera

Bolivia gas under state control - BBC

Bolivia gas nationalization weighs on energy firms - Reuters

Brazil calls Bolivian gas nationalization 'unfriendly' act - Pravda

Under US Pressure, Mexico President Seeks Review of Drug Law - New York Times

Russia Officials Investigate Plane Crash - ABC News

Chinese, Russian officials discuss sister city cooperation
- China Daily

01 May 2006

As olde school as Presto Whip and Wonderbra

In The Way We Eat: Olde School, chef Heston Blumenthal gets a great write-up today in the New York Times,
"I had came across a manuscript of Le Viander de Taillevent. He was the chef to the Palais Royal in Paris. I think it was the 14th century.. . .And in there was this wonderful — wonderful? fascinating as opposed to wonderful; it's not the right word — recipe for how to roast a chicken. You take the chicken, and you pluck the chicken while it's still alive, and you baste the skin with a mixture of soya, wheat germ and dripping, I think it was . . ."
Soya? Wheat germ? I think it was as likely that the recipe called for

Strynge that lampraye and splaye that cooke.

Blumenthal continued his story of the sadistic recipe, but this is one you can trust, as you can with all the recipes posted in Gode Cookery.

James L. Matterer, who runs Gode Cookery, respects history as much as taste (not unusual for a genuine history-oriented foodie). Now, he's worth a column in the New York Times.

btw 1 — Le Viander de Taillevent's recipes have been translated into English and can be found in many publications, and online, in addition to:
Le Viander de Taillevent: 14th century cookery, based on the Vatican Library manuscript. 2nd ed. Translated into English by James Prescott. Eugene, OR, Alfarhaugr Pub. Society, 1989. 129 p.
btw 2 — The Presto Whip monument photo is courtesy of the delightful online Museum of Soy.

O, o, o!

Read: Teresa Nielsen Hayden's O dere ghod in Making Light.