As you can see, the snail is running in place. At least I know I can maintain.
Friday: Worked late, came home, did some stuff; watched more Hex, and I think we've completed Season One; a little more Six Feet Under, getting us well into the middle of Season Three. Did a few other things that I don't remember now.
Saturday: A few errands, haircuts, and then Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix. I know I'm in the minority, but I think they cut out TOO much. Yes, OotP needed some serious trimming, but man, there were some things chopped out that were future plot-important (of course, they've been doing that since Prisoner of Azkaban. Who besides those of us who read the book know how it was Professor Lupin knew the blank piece of parchment was a map?). I'm geekily looking forward to Friday night, when I shall head over to Borders to wait for midnight with my fellow geeks. Anyway, in general, it was a pretty good movie. Fred & George still rock.
Sunday: Not a lot. Got a new wireless keyboard so my old wired one could become the "emergency keyboard" for when problems ensue - we foolishly got rid of previous old ones and too late realized how useful it is to have a spare around the house. I like this one overall, but I don't like the change of layout of the "home, end, delete, page up, page down" keys. I keep hitting "delete" when I want "end" or "home" (because the delete is twice as large). I suppose I'll get used to it eventually, but the old style of keyboard is at work, so...
Because of all the overtime, I expect a decent paycheck (which will come in handy, since I have more expenses this month than I'd wanted), but it also means I haven't been to the gym since last Monday.
I have gotten very little writing done. Haven't gotten a package ready for submission. I don't suck anymore, but I am not yet made of awesome. I need an ending for a short story. No one has yet explained to me how to keep one's work under 4500 words and yet still have a theme, beginning, middle, and end; as well as that all-important plot. I know I've written short stories in the past, but rarely did I need to keep to a strict word count. I'm at 4213 words, but I expect I need at least two or three paragraphs to wrap things up. I plod on.
Why, oh why, don't they teach anchor people how to pronounce words anymore? Yesterday the woman at the main desk read a story about how the "SAM-a-tran" tiger attacked a zookeeper at the San Antonio zoo and just now they told me about storms in "Tucson and CataLINEa." *sigh*
The New Hippocratic Oath
By MICHAEL FELDMAN
Published: July 13, 2007
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday ... that he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. — The Times, July 11
I SWEAR by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and President Bush and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my and President Bush’s ability and judgment this oath and covenant:
To hold President Bush who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art — if they desire to learn it — without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to President Bush and to the sons and/or daughters of President Bush who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.
I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment and that of President Bush; I will keep him from harm and injustice.
Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of President Bush, remaining free of all intentional injustice, mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons.
What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to President Bush, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself.
If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may President Bush grant to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may President Bush’s be my lot.
— MICHAEL FELDMAN, host of the PRI radio program “Whad’Ya Know?”
Who’s Sorry Now?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: July 15, 2007
There’s not much lately that we’d like to import from China.
Certainly not the yummy steamed buns stuffed with shredded cardboard soaked in a caustic agent used to make soap. Or the tasty toothpaste laced with an antifreeze ingredient. Or the scrumptious seafood with a chemical kick. Or those pet foods with kibbles and bits of poison.
But there is one thing made in China we could use: mea culpas of high officials.
Zheng Xiaoyu, a top regulator who helped create China’s Food and Drug Administration, accepted $850,000 in bribes from drug companies and became enmeshed in the mistakes that flooded the market with dangerous drugs. Before he was executed Tuesday, he wrote a short confession titled “How I Look on My Mistakes.”
“Thinking back on what has happened these years, I start to see the problems clearly,” he wrote in prison. “Why are the friends who gave me money all the bosses of pharmaceutical companies? Obviously because I was in charge of drug administration.
“I am confessing here that I loosened self-discipline, ignored the bottom line,” he said, adding that he had to confess his mistakes “as an act of saving my soul.”
We would skip the execution — although perhaps there should be ranch arrest for W., and Cheney could do community service passing out condoms at Gay Pride festivals.
But it is time for the lethally inept duo running the country to do some painstaking self-examination and confession. Just as the Communist Party helped the late Mr. Zheng compose his thoughts, I volunteer to ghost-write our leaders’ self-scrutiny:
“How I Look on My Mistakes,” by George W. Bush
The people trusted me with an important position. I didn’t live up to expectations. I let Dick supersize the executive branch and cast Democrats as whiners and traitors. Why did I not suspect that Dick might be power-hungry when he appointed himself vice president? Why did I let him take over my presidency and fill it up with warmongers? I was so afraid to be called a wimp, as my father once was, I allowed Dick and Rummy to turn me into a wimp. I should never have allowed Dick to conspire with energy lobbyists and steer contracts to Halliburton. A tip-off should have been when Dick kept giving himself all the same powers that I had. Or when he outed that pretty lady spy.
If only I had kept my promise to go after the thugs who attacked us on 9/11, because now I’ve made Osama and Al Qaeda stronger. I know my false claim about Al Qaeda’s ties with Iraq led to Iraq’s being tied down by Al Qaeda. I see now that my bungled war on terror has created more terror, empowered Iran and made America less secure. Oh, yeah, and I’m sorry I broke the military.
I stained the family honor when I ignored the elders of the Iraq Study Group. I should not have worried that I would be seen as kowtowing to my dad’s friends. The Oval Office is not the right place for a teenage rebellion.
I should not have picked that dimwit Brownie, and I should have trusted the gut of anyone besides that goof-off Chertoff to keep the nation safe. And what was I thinking when I said Harriet Miers should be a Supreme Court justice? That was loony. I’m sorry I made the surgeon general mention my name three times on every page of his speeches. That was childish.
How could I have let Dick bring in his best friend, Rummy, my dad’s old nemesis? Dummy Rummy let Osama escape at Tora Bora, messed up the Iraq occupation and aborted a mission to wipe out top Al Qaeda leaders because he was protecting Musharraf, who was protecting Al Qaeda in the tribal areas. Even though I promised to get rid of dictators who helped terrorists, I ended up embracing a Pakistani dictator who helps terrorists.
I’m embarrassed that the Iraqi Parliament is taking a monthlong vacation in the middle of my surge. Could I have set a bad example when I rode my bike in Crawford while New Orleans drowned?
I’m sorry I keep pretending Iraq will get better if we stay longer. It wasn’t very nice of me to push the surge when I knew it couldn’t work. I just wanted to dump the defeat on my successor. I wish Hillary the best of luck.
If I had left the gym long enough to read about Algeria or even one of T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, then I might have not gotten bogged down in Iraq and let North Korea, China and Russia slide.
Being the Decider is so confusing. I regret stealing the presidency and wish I could give it back.
“How I Look on My Mistakes,” by Dick Cheney
Sushi for Two
By TREVOR CORSON
Published: July 15, 2007
WITH the depletion of bluefin tuna in our oceans now front-page news, people around the country have been sharing with me their confusions and fears about eating sushi. I think that we — and our fish — would benefit from a new deal for American sushi: a grand pact between chefs and customers to change the way we eat.
Lobbyists for the sushi and fishing industries insist that tuna is essential to sushi, and that controls on harvesting the fish would threaten traditional Japanese culture. But that’s nonsense. Traditionally, the Japanese considered tuna unfit for sushi — especially the fatty parts. Boiled shellfish, pickled mackerel and lean, light-fleshed snappers and flounders were most popular. Not until the Western diet influenced Japan in the 20th century did the Japanese start to value the red meat of tuna and fatty cuts of fish.
But the Japanese still value tradition. When I lived in Tokyo, eating sushi generally involved a trip to a tiny neighborhood sushi bar. The chef, like a good bartender, knew everyone by name and bantered with his customers while he worked. Instead of tables and menus, people sat at the bar and asked what was seasonal and most flavorful. The chef delivered a delightful variety — unpretentious little fish with great character, crunchy clams, surprisingly tender octopus.
When sushi took root in the United States in the 1970s, a few Japanese chefs tried to educate Americans about the variety of seafood eaten in traditional sushi, and a few made the effort to recreate the neighborhood sushi bar, with its cheerful chatter, trusting relationships, lack of menus and reasonable prices.
But the dirty little secret of American sushi is that from the beginning, many Japanese chefs assumed that we could never appreciate the wide-ranging experience the way their Japanese customers did, so they didn’t bother to educate us. Simple sushi took over, featuring the usual suspects: tuna, salmon, boiled shrimp.
Today, most Americans remain wary of the stern-faced sushi chef, and dare not sit at the bar — we wouldn’t know how to order or to control the bill. Many chefs, in turn, tell me that they’re fed up with the way we Americans mishandle our sushi, so they don’t bother to serve us the fun, flavorful and more peculiar toppings.
So Americans are stuck between chef-driven omakase meals at elite restaurants that cost a fortune and the cheap, predictable fare at our neighborhood places. Both extremes have deepened our dependence on tuna — at the high end, on super-fatty cuts of rare bluefin; and at the low end, on tasteless red flesh that has often been frozen for months and treated with chemicals to preserve its color.
What we need isn’t more tuna, but a renaissance in American sushi; to discover for ourselves — and perhaps to remind the Japanese — what sushi is all about. A trip to the neighborhood sushi bar should be a social exchange that celebrates, with a sense of balance and moderation, the wondrous variety of the sea.
I suggest that customers refuse to sit at a table or look at a menu. We should sit at the bar and ask the chef questions about everything — what he wants to make us and how we should eat it. We should agree to turn our backs on our American addictions to tuna (for starters, try mackerel), globs of fake wasabi (let the chef add the appropriate amount), gallons of soy sauce (let the chef season the sushi if it needs seasoning) and chopsticks (use your fingers so the chef can pack the sushi loosely, as he would in Japan). Diners will be amazed at how following these simple rules can make a sushi chef your friend, and take you on new adventures in taste.
In return, the chefs, be they Japanese or not, must honor the sushi tradition and make the effort to educate us — no more stoicism. They must also be willing to have a candid conversation about the budget before the meal; it’s the only way American diners will be willing to surrender to the chef’s suggestions. Sushi should never be cheap, but it also should never be exorbitant, because that makes it impossible to create a clientele of regulars.
Fraternizing with the chef may be a tough habit for Americans to take up. But we’ve had sushi here now for four decades, and it’s time for a change — both for our sake, and for the sake of the embattled tuna. Let the conversation across the sushi bar begin.
Trevor Corson is the author of “The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, From Samurai to Supermarket.”