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chew on this
February 2012
Sun, Feb. 26th, 2012 05:05 pm
I am but a ghost on LiveJournal now . . .

If you have any interest in adding me on Facebook, I am Neel Lane (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=754606411&ref=profile).


Fri, Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:49 am

Your International Spy Name is Dr. Whisper

Your Code Name: Clam Chowder

You Reside in: Amsterdam

Why You're a Good Spy: You a master at disguise


Sun, Jan. 18th, 2009 07:13 pm

We were still reading for ideas back then, for style.  We hadn't figured out what literature was for, actually, that it was mostly about loss, that without hope there was no risk and without risk there was no danger and that every story, in the end, is about danger.  We still believed literature could be reasoned with, I mean.

. . . .

. . . .  We never read a book for its deepest human lesson, not in summer.

Instead, we close our eyes and let our lovers step toward us, through the fading hydrangeas, the impenetrable dusk.  And when their hands tremble, we take them in ours and pledge never to leave them, not now, not ever.  Even as the summer ends and the books take on their true, cruel weight, this is the story we tell ourselves, and I would trade every word in the English language for the chance, right now, once again, to believe.


Wed, Nov. 5th, 2008 07:23 pm

In June 2007, I met Barack Obama at a home in San Antonio.  A Harvard Law School classmate of his hosted the fundraiser, which raised only a modest amount by his later standards.  My wife and I waited in line with Bruce Bowen (a three-time champion Spur) and local politicos for our turn at a photograph and a few words with Barack.  Our time with him was brief, but he was charming and genuine.  He noted that we were both at Columbia at the same time.  Later, he took questions from a small crowd in the blazing South Texas sun.  He was affable and good-humored.  Everyone adored him.

Truth be told, I thought he had no chance of winning, but I supported him because I wanted to live in a country where someone like Barack Obama did have a chance.

Yesterday, I learned that I do live in that country.


Tue, Oct. 14th, 2008 07:25 pm

from "Iran: The Threat," by Thomas Powers

At a moment of serious challenge, battered by two wars, ballooning debt, and a faltering economy [even worse now than when this was written], the United States appears to have lost its capacity to think clearly. Consider what passes for national discussion on the matter of Iran. The open question is whether the United States should or will attack Iran if it continues to reject American demands to give up uranium enrichment. Ignore for the moment whether the United States has any legal or moral justification for attacking Iran. Set aside the question whether Iran, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently claimed in a speech at West Point, "is hellbent on acquiring nuclear weapons." Focus instead on purely practical questions. By any standards Iran is a tough nut to crack: it is nearly three times the size of Texas, with a population of 70 million and a big income from oil which the world cannot afford to lose. Iran is believed to have the ability to block the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf through which much of the world's oil must pass on its way to market.

Keep in mind that the rising price of oil already threatens the world's economy. Iran also has a large army and deep ties to the population of Shiite coreligionists next door in Iraq. The American military already has its hands full with a hard-to-manage war in Iraq, and is proposing to send additional combat brigades to deal with a growing insurgency in Afghanistan. And yet with all these sound reasons for avoiding war with Iran, the United States for five years has repeatedly threatened it with military attack. These threats have lately acquired a new edge.

*      *     *

Read the entire article in the July 17, 2008 New York Review of Books:  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21592


Fri, Aug. 29th, 2008 03:07 pm

Fellow democrats, in the words of David Bowie, let's dance.

Until about seven this morning, I had never heard of Palin, even though I am sort of a political junkie.  Apparently I need to up my fix.  I'm falling behind.

Just to put this pick in perspective, the city of San Antonio--just the city and no surrounding communities--has 200,000 more residents than the entire state of Alaska.

I'm guessing the Alaska legislature conducts budget sessions every other year (as many small states do), so she has probably gone through one budget cycle.  (Correct me if I'm mistaken!)

Finally, I am a big fan of Lyndon Johnson's (his social vision, not his handling of that little Vietnam thing), but one unattractive personality trait he had was his maniacal desire not to let the press know what he was doing in advance, unless of course he wanted them to know in advance.  In fact, it is said he changed several important decisions after the press leaked what his decision was going to be, just so the press would get it wrong.  In this case, it seems like a bit of the same behavior from McCain.  He was so eager to keep his pick a secret that most people knew nothing about her when she was announced.  At least he established that, on this decision, he was the Decider and no one can tell him otherwise.

When Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro--an unknown female with limited relevant experience--it was seen less as a bold move, than as an act of desperation.  But Mondale was running against an incumbent Ronald Reagan, who was phenomenally popular (except with me), during a time of prosperity.  Mondale would not have won if he'd picked Jesus Christ as his running mate.  So, it was a wild shot, but you could understand it.  On the other hand, McCain has been tied in national polls as recently as two days ago.  This just looks like really bad judgment.

EDIT:  Actually, someone pointed out to me that San Antonio has nearly twice as many residents as the state of Alaska:

Alaska:  683,478

San Antonio:  1,296,682


Tue, Jul. 1st, 2008 12:48 am
Emotionalism, by the Avett Brothers

This is suddenly my favorite album.  I want to share this band with you and feel really good when you tell me how much you love them and how grateful you are that I shared them with you.

You are most likely to enjoy the Avett Brothers if you like Gram Parsons, old Whiskeytown (when Caitlin Cary was with them), and Uncle Tupelo.


Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008 11:33 am
An action, however innocent it may be, does not die off in solitude.  It provokes, as effect, another action, and sets in motion a whole chain of events.  Where does a person's responsibility end for an act that stretches endlessly into some incalculable, monstrous transformation?   In his great speech at the end of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus curses the people who long ago salvaged his infant body when his parents tried to discard it; he curses that blind kindness that set off an unspeakable evil; he curses that chain of actions in which the decency of an intention does not matter; he curses that infinite chain that binds all humans together and makes them into a single tragic humanity.

-- Milan Kundera, The Curtain


Fri, May. 23rd, 2008 06:16 pm

It was 99 degrees today. Ugh.


Fri, May. 9th, 2008 06:39 pm

. . . History, with its agitations, its wars, its revolutions and counter-revolutions, its national humiliations, does not interest the novelist for itself--as a subject to paint, to denounce, to interpret.  The novelist is not a valet to historians; History may fascinate him, but because it is a kind of searchlight circling around human existence and throwing light onto it, onto its unexpected possibilities, which, in peaceable times, when History stands still, do not come to the fore but remain unseen and unknown.