My poetry instruction book,
which I bought at an outdoor stall along the river,
contains many rules
about what to avoid and what to follow.
More than two people in a poem
is a crowd, is one.
Mention what clothes you are wearing
as you compose, is another.
Avoid the word vortex,
the word velvety, and the word cicada.
When at a loss for an ending,
have some brown hens standing in the rain.
Never admit that you revise.
And—always keep your poem in one season.
I try to be mindful,
but in these last days of summer
whenever I look up from my page
and see a burn-mark of yellow leaves,
I think of the icy winds
that will soon be knifing through my jacket.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
"The Student," a poem by Billy Collins, from The Trouble With Poetry:
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
From The Onion, "'New York Times' Moves All Content You Won't Give A S**t About Unless You Make At Least $200K A Year Into One Convenient Section":
"From now on, people looking for helpful hints on renovating a $4 million Manhattan townhouse won't have to waste time sifting through articles on the crisis of public education," Times executive editor Bill Keller said of the new section, which will be printed in smudge-proof ink so it doesn't soil the soft, pink hands of its readers.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
As I’ve been saying, I hope this revolt produces true freedom and human rights for the Egyptian people. But no one has taken the time or thought to ask: Is that what THEY want? That is a serious question. Because so far, it looks like the Egypt that will emerge will be not the one that came to Lara Logan’s rescue, but the one that attacked her.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
TARP is somewhat old news now, but this thought from Arthur Laffer is worth remembering:
When Secretary Paulson went to Congress with a one-page piece of legislation allocating to him and him alone $700 billion, to spend as he chose, without any hearings, without any oversight whatsoever, I knew the government had lost its senses.
Andrew Bolt on the death of privacy: "Never before have we seen journalists from almost every big media organisation in Australia parked outside a man’s bedroom listening for groans." Side note: This is the second Liz-Hurley-related item I've posted in the past few months. That's two more than I'd have predicted, had I given it any thought. (Here's the previous mention.)
Saturday, February 12, 2011
A note on writing:
According to David Niven’s book Bring on the Empty Horses, when screenwriter Charles MacArthur asked Charlie Chaplin for some advice, it went something like this:“How, for example, could I make a fat lady, walking down Fifth Avenue, slip on a banana peel and still get a laugh?” he asked. “It’s been done a million times. …What’s the best way to get a laugh? Do I show first the banana peel, then the fat lady approaching, then she slips? Or do I show the fat lady first, then the banana peel, then she slips?”
“Neither,” Chaplin responded. “You show the fat lady approaching, then you show the banana peel, then you show the fat lady and the banana peel together. Then she steps over the banana peel and disappears down a manhole.”
Friday, February 11, 2011
I'm always glad when someone I respect feels as I do. Jonah Goldberg on the obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the tendency to fault Israel alone:
As one very prominent Israeli here explains, the international community is like the man who only wants to look for his wallet where the light is good. The real problems in the region are just too hard, particularly when any effort to take attention off the Palestinians is greeted with outrage from an anti-Israel industry that singles out Israel as the worst human-rights abuser in the neighborhood. Israel puts Arab critics in the Knesset. Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia put them in jail — or in an unmarked grave.
All of this would be just as true if Israel retreated to the 1949 armistice lines tomorrow.
Mark Steyn on some recent abortion stories and their implications:
This is a remarkable moment in American life: A man is killing actual living, gurgling, bouncing babies on an industrial scale - and it barely makes the papers. . . .
With Planned Parenthood aiding and abetting child prostitution, my friend Rich Lowry argued that the back alley is back:Legal abortion was supposed to end “back-alley abortions,” both their dangers and their entanglements with shady characters. But the practice and the mores of the back alley are with us still, tolerated by people for whom the ready provision of abortion trumps all else.. . . A government back alley, licensed and supposedly regulated, is worse than the old kind, because it implies the approval of the state, and of society. That's what [Philadelphia abortionist Kermit] Gosnell thought he had, when he murdered those babies and mutilated those teenage girls. That's what Planned Parenthood think they have, when they facilitate the sexual exploitation of Third World children. And, given the silence of the PC media, maybe they're right.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
"40 Ways to Download FREE Music Legally – An Ultimate Guide." Looks like a great (and legit) list, with more suggestions in the comments.
Astonishing comments on this article by John Tierney, about informal evidence of anti-conservative bias among psychologists. It's the NY Times, so probably I shouldn't be surprised, but many of the comments by leftists (who greatly outnumber conservatives among the commenters) read as though the authors were foaming at the mouth as they typed. Which I suppose is impressive in a way. What consistently amazes me about such people is that they consider themselves thoughtful and broadminded. They simply can't be reached by reason; the unbridgeable divide in action.
(On the other hand, this book, by one of the non-hydrophobic commenters, looks interesting.)
Monday, February 7, 2011
A couple of days ago Michael Ledeen pointed to this frightening article, by journalist Terrence Aym, about "an unstoppable magnetic pole shift that has sped up and is causing life-threatening havoc with the world's weather." Geologist Jonathan DuHamel is having none of it:
(DuHamel explains the magnetic-pole shift here.)
Aym’s story is nothing but science fiction. . . . He then goes on to predict all manner of disasters. Sheer nonsense.Phew. But it's Aym's article, not DuHamel's, that'll get optioned.
. . . Aym’s story has the attributes of a B-grade disaster movie on the Syfy channel, scientific fact be damned.
(DuHamel explains the magnetic-pole shift here.)
Friday, February 4, 2011
We’re fighting a war against jihadists in an atmosphere of staggering popular, media, academic, and governmental ignorance. We constantly hear authoritative statements that any given military action “recruits terrorists” or that poverty “breeds terrorism” or that terrorism gives voice to the voiceless . . . statements that betray fundamental ignorance of the actual way that terrorists join movements, the relative prosperity of many contemporary terrorists, and the presence of multiple, viable political alternatives to terror. In conversation after conversation, I find myself rebutting casual observations even by educated and informed citizens about, for example, the role of martyrdom in the al-Qaeda mindset, the commitment of the terrorist foot soldier to the cause, and even the religious and ideological purity of many real-life terrorists.
Perhaps this is yet another symptom of a military that is increasingly walled-off from the civilian population, but it is striking that our nation lives in such ignorance even as hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens have had direct, personal contact with terrorist violence and with jihadist cultures.
The conditions that have resulted in 200-odd years of relative peace and prosperity for the American people are not normal. The normal state of mankind of a lot more like Mubarak’s Egypt than Reagan’s America, or Obama’s. Institutions matter, and one of the institutions that matters is sober, responsible government. Drawing a line forward from 2011 into the future, which does the American government more closely resemble? The one that helped make this nation great by allowing liberty to thrive, or one of the ones that used to be a punchline until such jokes stopped being very funny?
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Caroline had no feeling about the outdoors. The land was just a vast flatness that had no special shape or character or meaning for her. For their whole marriage she had spent as much time in cities as possible—San Francisco at least once a week, New York maybe four times a year, London and Paris and Rome whenever she could get any of her friends to go with her. He had never been able to understand how a woman who was so devoted to enjoying beauty could ignore what was in front of her nose, above her head and under her feet. She didn't dislike nature or find it frightening. It didn't exist for her. Color was the shade of a paint or a fabric.Thomas Perry, Fidelity
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
America’s role, as the champion of liberty, should be to usher Mubarak out of power as quickly and painlessly as possible in order to avert further bloodshed and to make it harder for malign elements to take advantage of the disorder for their own nefarious purposes. We did not do enough to aid democrats in Russia in 1917 or in Iran in 1979; in both cases, we stuck with a discredited ancien regime until it was too late and reacted too slowly to revolutionary upheavals. Let us not repeat that mistake in Egypt.
In a recent discussion of the anticipated Palestinian state, Mahmoud Abbas, leader in the territory, said he "would not tolerate one single Jew in his new country, Palestine." Speaking before journalists in Ramallah, he clearly noted, "We have already said, completely openly, and it will stay that way: 'If there is a Palestinian country with Jerusalem as its capital, we will not accept that even one single Jew will live there.'"
Abbas rejected any suggestion that Jews in Judea and Samaria, who have lived in their homes for decades, could remain under Palestinian rule. Meanwhile, in all negotiations, the Palestinian position is that "Palestinian refugees" have the right of return to Israel. According to the Abbas proposition, therefore, Israel should open its borders for Arabs while Palestine closes its borders for Jews.
. . .
If this Palestinian state is created, Israelis should not have any illusions about what it will mean. Further isolation, increased hostility, border tension and suicide bombings.
One football game, three amazing plays:
The 2007 Fiesta Bowl won the 2007 Best Game ESPY Award, and the game's final play won the 2007 Best Play ESPY Award. It also took the #1 spot on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Games of 2007. . . . Sports Illustrated rated it "The game of the decade" for college football.(Via Steve Bass.)
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
It is very wrong of me, no doubt, but I have been rather enjoying the Berlusconi sex-scandal. Of course, by British standards it is all rather tame, being merely a matter of orgies with scores of nubile young women; we prefer our politicians or prominent people to be flogged by a dominatrix dressed as a concentration camp guard, or as a very minimum to indulge in autoerotic asphyxia. Poor old Silvio seems sadly lacking in imagination.
I must admit that I find it rather difficult (and not altogether pleasant) to imagine him in any kind of sexual activity whatever. Recent photographs of him make him look like something out of Madame Tussaud’s, most likely an escapee from the Chamber of Horrors, with his implanted hair and waxy visage. He could have a new career playing Dracula.