You realize that I don’t know the names of different kinds of plants and birds and rocks and things. So when I say I saw a hawk this morning flying off with something in its talons, and settle on a roof, and I could see that it had caught a chickadee, what I mean to say is that I saw a larger bird with a hook-shaped beak catch a smaller bird. I found this really interesting and so I stopped and stared up at the hawk, to better see what was going on. The hawk felt a little awkward about my staring. It was just trying to eat breakfast . . . was the hairless bipedal ape going to try to disrupt its meal? No. The smaller birds had become very quiet, because one of their own had just been snatched away for someone else’s meal. I admired the hawk for catching its breakfast, which seems more appropriate than the way I get my meat.
(In my dream) Tim Gunn referred to two separate folks with the N word. Not in a hostile manner, just as if n*gg*r were just another perfectly acceptable word for referring to someone. The whole world was upset. In my mind I worked to conjure a sufficiently witty rejoinder around the F word. Really, Tim, you should know better!
So, we were all of us walking down a mosaic-tiled road, as if towards the city of Oz, where we expected to learn from an all-knowing wise man why it was that Tim Gunn had become a racist potty-mouth. The mosaic-tiled road began to break up in to sand dunes, finally coming to an end. I looked around the desert and saw mushroom clouds blooming behind us in a regular pattern like a planted forest. The Earth was being carpet-bombed with nuclear weapons and I briefly wondered to myself if that was possible and practical: why would you carpet-bomb a desert?
I knew the end of everything was at hand, so as the bombs drew near I wrapped my arms around my lover and smothered her fall to the ground. As the heat arrived and I woke from my dream I wasn’t sure if I was holding my sweetheart or a large sack of cat food. I think my brain was trying to plan ahead, because I often feed the cats after I wake up.
Anyway, Tim Gunn, if you ever read this, please don’t ever start to use the N word, especially if Sarah Palin gets elected president.
Inspired by Anil Dash:
If Facebook built Gmail, only you could see your Inbox.
Six months later, your friends could see your Inbox.
Six months later, friends of your friends could read your Inbox.
Six months later, the Internet could read your Inbox.
Because, although you don’t know it, you really want to share yourself with the world.
Of course, each time the defaults change, you would be able to reconfigure the defaults, but you would have to find the new and improved settings pages and learn how they work.
From the August, 2010 issue of The Sun Magazine:
Cook: You’ve said that if executions were made public, people would realize the brutality of this system and work to end it. Yet, in our past, crowds would show up for public executions, some with picnic lunches. In our age of violent media, what makes you so sure average citizens wouldn’t applaud the execution of a killer they were certain was guilty?
Prejean: There would be some, no doubt, who would pull out a beer and cheer that this terrible murderer had been killed. But for most people who see it up close, capital punishment is very unsettling. The head of the Department of Corrections in Louisiana has to arrange the protocol for executions, and part of that is gathering witnesses. At first he thought he’d have a line of people stretching across the Mississippi River waiting to get in, but soon he realized that no one who witnessed an execution asked to come back. When you’re in the death chamber, you see when they have to jab the needle eighteen times into the arm of the condemned. You hear the stumbling last words of those who are killed: “Mama, I love you,” or “I’m so sorry.” Imagine an ordinary American family having their evening meal, and the news comes on, and the kids ask their parents, “Isn’t that murder too?” and, “Why are they putting antiseptic on his arm if they’re going to kill him?” It would not take long for people to cry out against this, and that’s why it will never be public. You have to keep it from the eyes of the people.
Cook: You have served as spiritual advisor to six men who were executed. What were their last days, their last hours, like — for them and for you?
Prejean: Being with someone who is about to die is surreal. When you’re with someone in the hospital who is dying, it’s at least a natural process; you can see them leaving you. When someone is fully alive, and you’re talking to him in the way you and I are talking, you can not get your mind around the fact that in two hours, now one hour, now forty-five minutes, he’s going to be killed.
The death itself is almost scripted: Now they’re walking in. Now I’m telling him goodbye and kissing him on the back. I’m praying for him and asking him to remember me to God. Now the guards have me by my arms. They are sitting me down in a witness chair. There’s the big clock on the wall. There’s the exhaust fan, already turned on, that will suck from the room the stench of the human body burning. There’s the blank glass with the executioner on the other side. They’ve already tested the chair. It’s run on a seperate generator, so nobody can prevent the execution by throwing the main switch. The lights are bright floursecents. There are two red telephones on the wall: If one rings, it is the court issuing a stay of execution. If the other rings, it’s a pardon from the governor. Neither phone rings. The victim’s family is sitting in the front row to watch. The other witnesses and I are sitting behind them. There are two newspaper reporters writing vigorously on narrow spiral pads. And the condemned man is looking at me. And I put my hand out. And he can see my face. And they put the leather mask over his face, so tight I worry he can’t breathe. How quickly they strap him in the chair and step away. It’s an oak chair. They put a cloth soaked with saline solution on his shaved head and then the metal cap. A thick, curled wire runs from the cap to the generator. And then the strap goes across his chest.
I didn’t look the first time, because with the mask I knew he couldn’t see me anymore. With lethal injection he can see me, but not with the electric chair. I closed my eyes and heard the sound of it. The huge, rushing, powerful sound of the fire being shot through his body. Three times. They run 1,900 volts, then let the body cool, and then 500 volts, and then 1,900 volts again. What’s terrifying is that they’ve done autopsies of people who have been electrocuted, and the brain is mainly intact. We don’t know what they feel. We really don’t know, when we kill a human being, what’s going on inside, the pain of it.
Cook: You believe that the days leading up to an execution amount to torture.
Prejean: I don’t say this lightly. According to Amnesty International, torture is “an extreme mental or physical assault on someone who’s been rendered defenseless.” Just imagine if somebody took you hostage in a room and said that in twenty-four hours they were coming to kill you. And, when the time comes, they put the gun to your head and pull the trigger. It clicks. It is an empty chamber. They laugh and walk out and say, Not today. Maybe tomorrow. That’s torture.
Everybody I’ve known on death row has had the same nightmare: they dream it is their time, and the guards come and drag them out, and they are screaming and sweating, and then they wake up and realize they are still in their cell. Just think about when you have to go to the dentist for a root canal. If the appointment is for Friday, all week you are living in dread. That’s just for a root canal.
You can read a longer excerpt at the Sun’s web site.
In case you have ever wondered what I think of Google’s Blogger:
Seriously, Blogger has all the glitz and glamor of Geocities: it is the Internet’s tacky trailer park where people end up because they figure Google (or, in the old days, Yahoo!) must know something about managing blogs, but in reality it is just a neglected, wayward, red-headed stepchild from a former acquisition that one night that Larry Page got drunk after the company ski trip and woke up in Reno . . .
This from the “Blogger” forum after I had an issue posting a comment on one of their blogs.
I like to think they have gotten better over the years, but right now it looks like the way they handle errors is that they have replaced a vague, general error message with a series of codes, and if you feel really enterprising you may eventually learn that there’s a form somewhere where you can paste in details regarding the error code you encountered in to a Google spreadsheet. But no, linking the error display to the part where you describe how you provoked the error . . . that would be too obvious . . .