Get Over Yourself

October 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm (By Donna B.)

This rant is not aimed at anyone who posts or comments on Ambiance. This is the place where I feel comfortable ranting about those who read my site, but probably don’t click links on my blogroll.

Everything is NOT about YOU. Your “sensitivity” is driving me nuts. There are so many topics where “comments are off. This isn’t up for discussion” with you that I’m almost afraid to discuss laundry soap preferences.

(scented v. unscented can get ugly.)

What has happened is that someone I love dearly has become over the last ten years a moonbat leftist unwilling to listen to any idea not already incorporated in her worldview. This worldview has become more and more restricted over the years.

While the comment that set off this rant is rather mild, it is just the latest among many that I have felt I must “swallow” while trying to explain myself in an unoffensive way to someone who finds almost everything offensive.

What can I do? And don’t worry about offending me, because most of the time that fairly hard to do. I’m open to hearing all advice even if I don’t take it.

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Creative Destruction

October 17, 2009 at 11:04 am (By Amba)

It’s all very well to approve of it, to cheer it on in principle, but the thing is, you can’t pick and choose what it’s going to destroy.

There’s a fairy-tale quality to it — turning loose the baby dragon, then having to live with the unintended consequences.

Print media, for instance (one of which I work for, a lot like being a deckhand on the Titanic).  Natural History is a good thing.  A physically beautiful little magazine that keeps science mindful of its roots, that maintains a bridge across time, with constant traffic back and forth, between the 18th-century cabinet of curiosities and the postmodern particle accelerator and PCR machine, and between science and the arts.  It has a venerable tradition:  counting its first 18 years as The American Museum Journal, it’s been publishing since 1900.  And it has one of the most fiercely loyal subscriber bases I’ve ever heard of:  even now, when everyone’s online, the renewal rate is around 85 percent.  You get the feeling that a lot of its subscribers have been reading it since childhood.

But it’s a print medium — an endangered species.  (You knew Gourmet is folding, right?)  Like the newspaper, that’s one of the things creative destruction is destroying.  Never mind your childhood, your history, your tradition, your comfortable habit of anticipating some beautifully wrapped mind candy in the mail every month.  That’s all dispensable.  It’s all paper in fire.

Conservatism is a curious and contradictory thing.  To love tradition and also celebrate unfettered capitalism seems like a recipe for heartbreak.  You can try to let God rule your moral life and Darwin rule your economic life, but really, how can you separate them?  How can you tout values when creative destruction is value-free?  Creative destruction has a mind of its own.  It’s driven by appetite and effectiveness, not by sentiment or principle.  It’s sort of like a hurricane of Buddhism.  Attach at your own grief.  Evolve beyond natural affections.  Become as ruthless as that which created you and will destroy you.  Learn to love nothing but the twisting dragon of change.  Or be destroyed on the lathe of heaven.

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Sure Enough . . .

October 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm (By Amba)

. . . I got the distant early warning from the nurse today that they may not be able to keep us on hospice.

J just isn’t sick enough. He communicates.  He has a good appetite.  He still gets out of the house (albeit not under his own power).  He doesn’t have pain.

(And I’m not broken down enough.  Not all used up yet, not by a long shot.  I could take care of him alone again if I had to.  After all, I was doing it just a month ago.)

They want to keep us.  They’re going to try.  They think we need and deserve the help.  But they have legal guidelines they have to follow, and we’re in a gray area at best.  Or should I say, at worst.

This is one of those silly situations where good news is bad news and bad news is good news.

Of course, the irony is that the hospice people usually see him at his best — because he’s so happy to see someone other than me.  He comes to life.  He puts on his “company face.”  He flirts, he kisses hands (I swear to God), he makes ’em laugh.  He loves the sociality and attention.  He comes from a village where there are people, neighbors and family members, around all the time.  This is a tiny step closer to that.

I’ve been prepared for this possibility; I was the one who never thought he’d qualify for hospice in the first place (especially since starting Namenda, the drug that has made him more present and calm if no less confused).  I swore that I would make the most of it while it lasted, and store some reserves.  It hasn’t been a huge change, anyway.  I’m still taking care of him alone most of the time.    There are just three things I will miss if we get kicked out:

  • Having someone else do some of the heavy lifting just three times a week.  It has reduced the repetitive stress to my shoulders, in particular, and I’ve felt the difference.
  • Free incontinence supplies.  This I will mourn.
  • Hardest of all will be returning to isolation.

Of course, we may see a bit more of our busy friends again, whom we’re now seeing somewhat less of because they assume we’re all right, they don’t have to worry about us, we’re being taken care of! And maybe we’ll make more of an effort to get out and see them if the alternative is hours and hours of four walls and each other.  Plus, the nurse said she’ll come visit us as a friend.  The volunteer might, too.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; it ain’t over till it’s over.

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William Safire May Be Dead…

October 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm (By Maxwell James)

…but his spirit lives on.

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A Shakespeare Challenge

October 12, 2009 at 10:54 am (By Rodjean)

A recent thread touched on the question of the Obama Presidency as an opera. If the election and Presidency of Mr. Obama was a Shakespeare play, we would probably be at the end of the First Act. Which Shakespeare character would Mr. Obama be?

He doesn’t have to be the protagonist (although it is hard to imagine him in any other role.)

A hint about my tentative choice. He rises to power based on an eloquent speech in one play, then is brought to ruin by a disastrous foreign war in another.

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“I look at the world through my ears.”

October 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm (By Amba)

See, Theobald Boehm is here even when he isn’t here:

When there’s some high drama, political or otherwise, I think of it in terms of opera. When some public figure is speaking, I’m thinking what musical instrument he or she reminds me of. When there is news of something involving a group of people, from Congress to the Tour de France, I’m always thinking of what kind of orchestra or other musical group they would be.


Read on, and you’ll see — I should say, hear — Theo illustrate his statement that “the overtone series is music’s rainbow.”  You’ll also meet Hot Lips, a sexy jazz alphornist (“Riiiiiicolaaa!!”) whose lung power is far more impressive than the purported talent of the protagonist of Deep Throat.  (I know:  sad story, not funny.  Turns out alphorns, too, are less of a joke than you thought.)

Theo’s blog A Quiet Evening is an oasis in an alkali desert of political and religious recrimination.  And he’s vowed to keep it that way.

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The Holy and the Empirical

October 6, 2009 at 10:02 pm (By Amba)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, best known for his searing critiques of the great minds of Wall Street:

I make a divide between the holy, the sacred, the mysterious, the unexplainable, the implicit, the aesthetic, the moral, and the ethical on one hand, and the empirical, the functional, the explainable, the logical, the true, and the proven on the other. In short, the Holy and the Empirical. Literature belongs to the holy. You can do fiction, nonfiction, a mixture, who cares. Literature is above the distinction. It is sacred.

Clearly, there’s a lot more to the man than high finance.  A fascinating thrilling mind.  More links here.

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Meeting Karen’s Cows [UPDATED]

October 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm (By Randy)

An update for those following recent comments to this post about our trip to New England:

Just got off the telephone with Karen.We’re looking forward to meeting Karen, her husband, and their herd of cows tomorrow! Updates on the adventure will be posted to Rambling Around. Who knows, we may even get as far as the Canadian border. (Anyone needing Canadian contraband may apply within.)

Without knowing it, we were half-way to Karen’s farm while driving the back way to Stowe, Vermont today. On our way, we passed dairy farms and stopped at the Cabot Creamery, a cooperative famous for its cheeses. I happened to mention to my mom that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn afterwards that Karen lived in the area. Imagine my surprise at finding her comments today.

I laughed when I read Karen mentioning going to the Wal-Mart and Home Depot in Littleton, the town we were staying in until today. Our hotel (the tres chic Hampton Inn) overlooks both. Actually, the hotel was very nice, and in the New England “Washington slept here” tradition, proudly lets its guests know that “Obama slept here – not once but twice!” (And they have photographic evidence to prove it.)

It is too late to make a long story short, so I’ll say that while New Hampshire was beautiful, once in Vermont the unique colors stretching for miles providing ample evidence that there’s a good reason that everyone talks about Vermont Maple Syrup not New England maple syrup. We weren’t prepared to find acres and acres of corn, though.

(Note: It seems that wireless service is erratic at this hotel – public areas only – so my posts may be erratic for the next few days. Lost much of this one a couple of times.)


Pictures of our visit with Karen can be found here.

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The Case for Civility

October 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm (By Rodjean)

I am appalled by the thread entitled, “The Case for God,” I believe it is time for us to define this site. I for one, do not want to waste my time participating in ping-pong matches of insults. Free expression will choke and die without the oxygen of respect.

We do not have to agree on everything to be civil, but we have to be civil if we want to meaningfully explore our disagreements.

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Death of a Business Model

October 5, 2009 at 3:02 pm (By Maxwell James)

Ezra Klein notes the passing of an old media icon, Gourmet, first by acknowledging that he’s “been meaning” to get a subscription, then by posting links to some of their best articles and a video from their YouTube channel.

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