All's fine in Napistan. Yes, I've waited a year to snap this photo and a chance to use that pun. Napoleon our feral cat decided to become Napoleon our fifth indoor cat and spent the night inside, made buddies with Stanley. Napoleon is the Kind older brother Stanley, runt of his litter, always wanted. We lucked out - never lost power, basement didn't flood. Hey, Thudner has a proposal for you! You vote for Jill Stein in your safe blue state, he votes
- Democrats and SCOTUS.
- The pie of sacrifice: Obama doesn't have to sacrifice Social Security. It doesn't contribute to the deficit; there's no fiscal necessity to cut the program. As with the pre-emptive tax cuts in his 2009 stimulus bill, Obama offered cuts in social programs to the Republicans during the debt-ceiling fight without their having to demand them. He's not obligated to accept Simpson and Bowles recommendations, since they aren't binding -- but he did appoint those two deficit hawks to his deficit-reduction commission, knowing in advance that they are advocates of cutting Social Security and Medicare. Nor is there support in the general population for cutting Social Security and Medicare; they are both very popular, which is why Social Security has long been called the Third Rail of American politics. Only Obama's wealthy campaign donors support his intentions, but as both his left critics and his right-wing supporters have been saying, once he's re-elected he'll be beholden to no one. He doesn't have to cut Social Security and Medicare -- he wants to. And he's always wanted to.
- The cynicism of calling it a Great Bargain.
- When Frankenstorms are normal.
- Of course they are.
- Update on fuckers (plus other stuff).
- I want to believe.
- She doesn't live in North Bethesda, she lives in Rockville. THERE IS NO NORTH BETHESDA!
- A.R. Ammons.
- Silliman's always generous litlinks.
- Once upon a time I would have been morally indignant that Penguin and Random House merge. Now? Fuck it.
- BTW, stay-tuned for Birchville Cat Motel and other Campbell Kneale projects. Thanks, Helen, for the CDs! I'm hooked.
THE POEM OF THE LITTLE HOUSE AT THE CORNER OF MISAPPREHENSION AND MARVEL
“He was mortared to death.”
A pity, how we misspeak and mishear.
—Or “martyred”? Not that/coin-flip/either
makes a difference to the increasingly cooler
downtick of a corpse’s cells. “We heard the crazy mating joy
of the loon across the water.” Yes, but what
do we know, amateurs that we are? Loon, shmoon.
It might have been dying, announcing
its pain in those trilling pennants. It might
have been the girl who was lost in these woods last week
and never found by the volunteer searchers,
it might have been her ghost
with an admonishment. The truth is,
even among ourselves we often can’t distinguish pain
from pleasure, not in our beds, our hearts, the tone
of a poem on the final exam (a coin-toss). A pity, because
we know the urgency of some utterance;
and the intended goodwill of our listening; and
the marvelous basic mechanics of speech,
of lung: 300 million alveoli that, “if spread out flat,”
as my eighth-grade science teacher preened, “would come to
750 square feet, the entire floor space of an average house,”
and she added that tired magic about how atoms
of Julius Caesar and Napoleon and Beethoven did
their fleet anachronistic dance in every inhalation
of ours, although at thirteen I preferred to think
that the atoms of Cleopatra’s body—my Cleopatra,
inflating her see-through empresswear
with husky breaths—commingled with my blood, and also
realized in my own dim way it wasn’t only Einstein,
Shakespeare, Madame Curie populating my oxygen,
but also the smelly and scabby old man
from across the street who’d died last year
when the late-shift ward nurse heard (as she said in her testimony)
“med injection” instead of (as the outgoing
ward nurse told her) “bed inspection”—altogether
an unfortunate example of my theme . . . although
exempla abound, misapprehension
also dancing inside us at the atomic level.
Someone thought the gate was locked, she always locked
the gate in the late afternoon when the haze set down
and the sun for a moment seemed to carmelize the lake top,
so the gate was locked; except that it wasn’t,
and seven days into it nobody’s found the girl
or a scraggle of hair or a single ribbon. I tell you
we’re amateurs, we’re sometimes bungling amateurs,
of the minutiae of our own lives. When I heard the sounds
that gurgled from my chest as my wife was leaving
into the dense, conspiratorial Austin, Texas night,
I couldn’t have said if it was defeat
or relief. She couldn’t have said which one
she’d have been happiest to cause. We only knew
that I’d been wrong at times, and she’d been wrong at times,
and that our total errors, if spread out flat,
become the house we live in. They’re another system
inside us, along with the cardiac and the pulmonary,
they’re moving us toward the horizon line. And when
enough errors accumulate there, that’s what
we call the future. Even now, as you read this,
someone in that unknowable distance
is breathing you in.