Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not That Change

Yet more Thursday, 31 January 2008.

"She [Clinton] hasn't run a corner store. She hasn't run a state. She hasn't run a city," Romney says in the ad. "I have spent my life running things. I've learned how to run a business. I've learned how to run a state. I ran the Olympics. In each case I've brought change."

Of course, Mitt might have mentioned, to be fair, that, as a devout Mormon, and therefore until age 38 a devout white supremacist, he still is working the Mormon concept that he's on the ladder to become a god of his own planet.

Not that change on my planent.

More Concentration

Today remains Thursday, 31 January 2008.

Our tax dollars remain at work: here's the State of the Union in Iraq:

Overthrow the Bush-Cheney junta.




Today is Thursday, 31 January 2008.

O, those long ago poisonous days of The Cold War, when all was literally and metaphorically US and THEM, and we basked in the sunlight of Empire.

Comes the news of the death at 92 of Bertram Arthur "Jimmy" James, Flight Lieutenant RAF, an inspiration for the film The Great Escape, former concentration camp inmate:

Herewith, the music by the great Elmer Bernstein:

Also, and that's a viciously ironic "also", all Native Americans were ordered to move onto concentration reservations on this date in 1876.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One For the Road

Today remains Wednesday, 30 January 2008.

Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places, but I don't seem to see much recognition that Gandhi was murdered on this date, 60 years ago.

Sic transit gloria.

More To Come

Today is Wednesday, 30 January 2008.

The following just in; more comment to come.

LONDON (Reuters) - More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain's leading polling groups.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.

The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.

ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.

The research covered 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Those that not covered included two of Iraq's more volatile regions -- Kerbala and Anbar -- and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work.

Estimates of deaths in Iraq have been highly controversial in the past.

Medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed report in 2004 stating that there had been 100,000 more deaths than would normally be expected since the March 2003 invasion, kicking off a storm of protest.

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by U.S. authorities and others.

ORB, a non-government-funded group founded in 1994, conducts research for the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The director of the group, Allan Hyde, said it had no objective other than to record as accurately as possible the number of deaths among the Iraqi population as a result of the invasion and ensuing conflict.

(Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Andrew Roche)

So far as is known, no members of the households of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Rove, Powell, and other members of the American High Command, have died.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

For Your Listening Pleasure

Today is Tuesday, 29 January 2008.

The HHs have returned from tour.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The First Ambrose Bierce Memorial Tour

Today is 23 January 2008.

Tomorrow, the HH's depart for a foreign land for the wedding of our niece. So, off the air for a while, unless said land supports blogging.

Soldier on:

As always, HH will carry a tattered copy of Immortal Poems of the English Language, which is not a slur upon all the world's poetry, but just how he restrictedly grew up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just One More for Martin

Today continues to remain Monday, 21 2008.

One More for Martin

Today remains Monday, 21 January 2008.

One more for MLK, Jr.:

In Memory: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Monday, 21 January 2008.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In Memory: Jan Palach

Today is Saturday, 19 January 2008.

On this date in 1969, died Jan Palach, 21, a Czech student who had set himself on fire on 16 January in desparing protest over the Soviet invasion of his country the previous August.

Here at MoB, we think of him often.

Herewith, in his honour, a tune from two of my favorite singers:

Friday, January 18, 2008

A New York Memory

Today is Friday, 18 January 2008.

Once upon a time, shall we say 1993?, when your author was the fierce pacifist executive director of a peace group in New York City, his office was in the “Godbox”, the building at 120th Street and Riverside in NYC, owned by the National Council of Churches.

Neatly proximate to Grant’s Tomb.

Yes, I know, who’s buried …

It was a block away, and a lovely piece of ground overlooking the Hudson River one could not for ask.

I would exit the subway at 110th Street, collect a lox-cream-cheese bagel at Columbia Bagels (the best bagelry in the world), and amble up the ten blocks to my office. Often, I would ramble past an odd platform near the water. Thereupon, a couple, which I say advisedly, since I never spoke to them, a female and a male, always in lovely tweed suits, played the bagpipes.

Who knows how early they got there, but they were piping their lungs out at ca. 7.30am. They would pipe until 8 sharp, and then do an entire Scot Army routine, twlirling and stamping their feet, totally ignoring their audience, which consisted of me, and heading off to whom knows where.

Often, they played "The Black Watch":

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In Memory: Patrice Lumumba

Today is Thursday, 17 January 2008.

On this date in 1961, the first elected prime minister of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was murdered by a combination of local forces backed by the USA, Belgian secret service, and the CIA. Look it up! Our tax dollars at work!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Voice, The Lie, The Just

Today is Wednesday, 16 January 2008.

The cocker spaniel is much better; the vet allows her to move about the house a bit, so long as she doesn't get too wack; after last night on the floor next to her kennel cage, Dad is a bit wack.

So, herewith, the lit:

September 1, 1939
by W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

I'm put in mind of this because, on this date in 1991, George H. W. Bush launched the First Gulf War, or howsome-ever one wishes to title it.

The HHs weren't exactly in a dive in Manhattan. We were at the Arby's at Bay Street (the main drag along Staten Island's east side) and Prospect Street, enjoying dinner ca. 7.21 pm, when a lad from the kitchen, knowing my penchant for current events, rushed out: "They're bombing Baghdad!"

In Memory: King and Rosa

Today is Tuesday, 15 January 2008.

On this date in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born.

On this date in 1973, American terror bombing of Vietnam theoretically ended.

On this date in 1919, your author’s favourite Marxist, the great activist and theoretician, Rosa Luxembourg, was assassinated in Berlin.

That’s all folks.

The bronchitis recovery continues to run rampant in the HH family, and the cocker is back home, way cranky cause she has to be in a kennel cage in the family room, while her aged leg reheals, and HH spent the night on dog pillows next to the cage, holding her paw.

And let’s not even get into 3.30am this morning, when everyone woke up simultaneously, HH last of all, and demanded breakfasts (dog food, cat food, oatmeal for Mrs. HH).

However … we’re all still alive, we can make slight differences, soon enough our entire civilization will be dust.

But, we will still recall the immortal Piaf:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Early MLK Day

Today remains Monday, 14 January 2008.

In my heart, and in reality, sorrow beyond belief about this Obama/Clinton MLK/LBJ thing.

Hundreds of thousands of Blacks had died, in the crusade for freedom. Gained inchs, because of white supremacy.

It wasn’t just MLK, and he knew that, and honoured his comrades, that moved the Cause forward.

The Chemistry needed The Cause and The Politics.

Then, there was a bright, shining moment, with the suffering and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Civil Rights activists, and the intervention of a few white politicians like LBJ, who sacrificed almost nothing when The Movement and The Politics came together, and, “without each which not”, meaning, they were both necessary elements, and a New World, however imperfect, was born.

The Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act.

Let’s go back to the mountaintop, look over, and cross over.


In Memory: Bogart

Today is Monday, 14 January 2008.

Humphrey Bogart died this day, 1957.

So, let's stay with the recent theme, as your author continues to recover:

Friday, January 11, 2008

Orange for Justice

Today is Friday, 11 January 2008.

On this date in 2002, the first “batch” of prisoners arrived at USA/USE concentration camp Guantanamo Bay.

The ACLU and others, including MoB, ask that folks wear orange, that universal jumpsuit colour, in protest of the systematic denial of basic human and legal rights to the inmates of CC Guantanamo.

Before anyone takes me to task for the use of the term: modern concentration camps were invented by the Brits during the Boer War. Even in Nazi Germany, concentration camps were different from extermination camps. In the former, death was “accidental”; in the latter, intentional.

Not that there’s any ethical difference.

Abolish all kidnapping and torture.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In Memory: Paul Henreid

Today is Thursday, 10 January 2008.

Before the blog, there was begat the far-right-wing newsletter.

We're still under the weather here at MoB (I forgot to mention that our cocker spaniel, Ms. Emma Goldman, who, like her namesake, and is dog aged converted to human age 64, persists in acting like a puppy, has bruised a ligament in her right hind leg, and is thus enduring confinement to limited motion and a course of anti-inflammatory meds).

So, herewith, through the good offices of The New Republic and Mr. James Kirchuck:

Paste this puppy into your browser and find out the ugly truth about Ron Paul, merchant of hate.

Like many professional white-supremacist-far-right types (who can forget the immortal Dan Smoot?), Mr. Paul, oops, Dr. Paul, as his groupies insist, has for years peddled hate through a series of newsletters.

Mr., oops, Dr., Ron thinks he's clever: while his bigotry is published under his banner, most articles, even when written in the first person, are unbylined, thus giving him "plausible deniability".

As in, and quoting from the article:

"Take, for instance, a special issue of the Ron Paul Political Report, published in June 1992, dedicated to explaining the Los Angeles riots of that year. "Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began," read one typical passage."

Well, enough of the vile Paul.

Today is the birthday in 1908 of the great actor, Paul Henreid.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thank You, Gloria

Today is Wednesday, 9 January 2008.

Mrs. HH has pneumonia; Mr. HH has chronic bronchitis, so here's a fine moment in American political history.

Women Are Never Front-Runners


The woman in question became a lawyer after some years as a community organizer, married a corporate lawyer and is the mother of two little girls, ages 9 and 6. Herself the daughter of a white American mother and a black African father — in this race-conscious country, she is considered black — she served as a state legislator for eight years, and became an inspirational voice for national unity.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After less than one term there, do you believe she could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

If you answered no to either question, you’re not alone. Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.

That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

If the lawyer described above had been just as charismatic but named, say, Achola Obama instead of Barack Obama, her goose would have been cooked long ago. Indeed, neither she nor Hillary Clinton could have used Mr. Obama’s public style — or Bill Clinton’s either — without being considered too emotional by Washington pundits.

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule. I’m not opposing Mr. Obama; if he’s the nominee, I’ll volunteer. Indeed, if you look at votes during their two-year overlap in the Senate, they were the same more than 90 percent of the time. Besides, to clean up the mess left by President Bush, we may need two terms of President Clinton and two of President Obama.

But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age.

This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”

Gloria Steinem is a co-founder of the Women’s Media Center.

Monday, January 07, 2008

In Memory: Tesla

Today is Monday, 7 January 2008.

Nikola Tesla died this date in 1943.

Unlike that self-promoting dim bulb (pun intended) T. A. “DC” Edison, Tesla died impoverished.

Tesla was, however, the greatest electrical engineer who ever lived. The fact you can read this, the fact of that astonishing power that comes out of that little socket in your house, is due to Tesla’s discovery of alternating current.

Tesla died in The New Yorker Hotel, at Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, ironically a block away from HH’s first NYC residence at Ninth Avenue and 34th Street. I always thought a good thought of Tesla when I walked by on my way to the subway to university in Greenwich Village. Super ironically, at the time, the hotel was owned by the Moonies, and I would see them loading vans with flowers to sell to suckers.

My guess: the ghost of Tesla was laughing.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

In Memory: Jacobo Timerman

Today is Sunday, 6 January 2008.

Jacobo Timerman was born on this day in 1923.

If you haven’t read his memoir of torture and imprisonment, Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number, run, don’t walk, to a bookstore near you.

Herewith, the sainted Molly Ivins on Timerman’s death in 1999:

One of the great heroes is gone. Jacobo Timerman, the Argentine journalist and great warrior for human rights, has died.

With awe and reverence, I report that Timerman at one time or another ticked off practically everybody. He was of the Saul Alinsky school when it came to popularity — Alinsky, the great Chicago radical, was once given some award and afterward said to his organizers, "Don't worry, boys, we'll weather this storm of approval and come out as hated as ever."

I would call Timerman a fearless man, but he wasn't fearless. He was brave.

His book "Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number" — the account of his 30-month imprisonment and torture by the Argentine military in the late 1970s — is one of the most poignant testimonies ever written by a political prisoner and will remain a classic of world literature. In it, he never poses as a hero but instead writes frankly about the terror and loneliness he experienced, weeping silently in his cell as his captors passed and spat the word "Jew!" at him.

His memoirs, on which he was working at the end of his life, reportedly deal extensively with his fears. But courage is not the absence of fear — it is the ability to fight despite fear. And Timerman always did.

Jacobo Timerman was born in 1923 in Bar, Ukraine, in a Jewish family that fled the pogroms when he was 5 and settled in the Jewish quarter of Buenos Aires. He grew up in poverty and all his life fought for powerless people. He was a radical in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, Jack London, Erich Maria Remarque and Henri Barbusse.

As a teen-ager, he became a passionate Zionist, but he was never a man of party. He had studied engineering, but in 1950 he joined a Buenos Aires newspaper and soon became a respected political reporter.

He and some other young journalists started a weekly newsmagazine in the manner of Time. He later sold it and started the newspaper La Opinion, another successful progressive publication.

In 1976, a military junta overthrew President Isabel Peron and began the infamous "dirty war" against the leftist terrorists called Montoneros and anyone else who opposed the junta. Timerman often received death threats from both the right and the left; he sometimes published defiant responses on his front page. The Montoneros bombed his home; the junta finally had him arrested.

The military charged Timerman with being part of an alleged conspiracy to set up a Jewish state in southern Argentina; Jews make up 1 percent of the population of Argentina but accounted for 10 percent of the victims of the "dirty war." Officially Argentina now claims that more than 9,000 people "disappeared" during that war, but most human-rights groups place the figure closer to 30,000.

After two and a half years of torture, during which three judicial proceedings found no evidence against Timerman, the Argentine Supreme Court ordered his release.
The junta finally illegally stripped Timerman of his citizenship, took all his property and deported him to Israel.

Timerman arrived shortly before Israel's war against Lebanon, which culminated in the hideous massacres of civilians at Sabra and Shatila. Of course, Timerman spoke out against the atrocities and wrote a scathing book, "The Longest War." He also wrote, with his usual piercing vigor, against the Israeli torture of Palestinians.
Naturally, this made Timerman, the lifelong Zionist, highly unpopular in Israel. He left the country.

Timerman also had a cameo role in American politics. The pro-Israeli magazine The New Republic attacked him for "The Longest War," and even before he went to Israel, the neo-conservative intellectuals, in a most despicable episode, tried to destroy his reputation.

Christopher Hitchens of The Nation once heard Irving Kristol, editor of the right-wing Commentary, say that Timerman had made up the entire story of his imprisonment and torture — that it had never happened. This was after Timerman's testimony had destroyed the nomination of Ernest Lefever to be President Reagan's point man on human rights. Lefever so patently did not care about human rights that the nomination was offensive to the point of being obscene.

At the time, the Reaganites, who disliked Carter's policy of emphasizing human rights, were advancing a peculiar theory that torture and oppression by left-wing or "totalitarian" regimes were evil but that torture and oppression by right-wing or "authoritarian" regimes were somehow forgivable. It was not known at the time, but the Argentine junta had a contract to train the Nicaraguan contras being supported by the Reagan administration. In a memorable appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Timerman quietly noted that when you are being tortured, it really doesn't make much difference to you what the politics of your torturers are.

Timerman's devotion to human rights, unlike that of some Americans, was never swayed by his political perspective. He often attacked the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro. His book "Cuba: A Journey" contains, among other things, a brilliant attack on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the respected left-wing writer who has been notably uncritical of Castro.

What a record, what a life. Go with God, brave fighter.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

J'adore respirer l'odeur du Napalm le matin.

Today is Saturday, 5 January 2007.

And, oui, J'adore respirer l'odeur du Napalm le matin. ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning.")

That gasoline smell.

It's the birthday (1931) of Robert Duval.

Today is also the birthday of the great pianist, Alfred Brendel.

Herewith, Brendel playing the Third Movement of Beethoven's Appassionate Sonata:

And Diane Keaton was born on this date in 1946:

Which brings HH to one of his favorite topics, the last and greatest of cities, Manhattan:

Friday, January 04, 2008

In Memory: Albert Camus

Today is Friday, 4 January 2008.

On this date in 1960, Albert Camus died in a tragic car accident. He was only 46.

Camus always denied he was an existentialist, but, I’m an existentialist, and we existentialists believe that existence precedes essence, that is, that (I’ll spare you the intermediate steps of analysis) human beings are not as rocks, acted upon, but independent actors (subjects, not objects), and, when we act as if we were rocks, and refuse to choose responsibly our actions and their consequences … well, we can pretend we are rocks, but we are not, and the full weight of moral responsibility nevertheless falls eternally upon us.

"If nothing had any meaning, you would be right. But there is something that still has a meaning." Second Letter to a German Friend, December 1943.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Today is Thursday, 3 January 2008.

On this date in 1918, the great phyciscist Ernest Rutherford announces he has split the atom.

And look where that got us.

On this date in 1909, the Great Dane, Victor Borge, a good friend of one of HH's college teachers, was born.

Herewith, the Great Dane and the Great Dean, on one of HH's favourite subjects, punctuation:

And just for the hell of it, today is the birthday of Victoria Principal, a star on Dallas:

Let's talk triangulation.

Note that the first image in the Dallas trailer is of the late Barbara Bel Geddes, one of the greatest of the American stage, who created the role of "Maggie "The Cat"" in Cat on A Hot Tin Roof, back in the 1956 day when acting meant before people, not lenses.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

In Memory: Isaac Asimov

Today is Wednesday, 2 January 2008.

Writer and biochemist Isaac Asimov was born on this date in 1920. He died in 1992.

Today's column in his memory is written by HH's old friend, Preem Palver.

If you don’t know Asimov's work, read The Foundation Trilogy, which I read in the early ‘60s in elementary school, and which has had a profound effect on me.

He posited a discipline called “psychohistory”, a combination of sociology, anthropology, history, political economy, and probabilistic mathematics, among others things, which could analyze the dynamics of large human societies, thus introducing the possibility of positive intervention.

On September 25, 1987, Asimov gave an interview to Terry Gross on her National Public Radio program, Fresh Air.

In it, Gross asked him about psychohistory:

Gross: "What did you have in mind when you coined the term and the concept?"

Asimov: "Well, I wanted to write a short story about the fall of the Galactic Empire. I had just finished reading the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire [for] the second time, and I thought I might as well adapt it on a much larger scale to the Galactic Empire and get a story out of it. And my editor John Campbell was much taken with the idea, and said he didn't want it wasted on a short story. He wanted an open-ended series so it lasts forever, perhaps. And so I started doing that. In order to keep the story going from story to story, I was essentially writing future history, and I had to make it sufficiently different from modern history to give it that science fictional touch. And so I assumed that the time would come when there would be a science in which things could be predicted on a probabilistic or statistical basis."

Gross: "Do you think that would be good if there really was such a science?"

Asimov: "Well, I can't help but think it would be good, except that in my stories, I always have opposing views. In other words, people argue all possible... all possible... ways of looking at psychohistory and deciding whether it is good or bad. So you can't really tell. I happen to feel sort of on the optimistic side. I think if we can somehow get across some of the problems that face us now, humanity has a glorious future, and that if we could use the tenets of psychohistory to guide ourselves we might avoid a great many troubles. But on the other hand, it might create troubles. It's impossible to tell in advance."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy Universe New Year !!! Take 2

Today is Tuesday, 1 January 2008.

Someone once said that, on the first day of the year, one should tell another a secret about oneself one had never told anyone.

Well, I’m sure someone once said that, but I can’t furnish a citation, since I probably just made it up as an artistic conceit.


For more than four decades, barring a few days of sickness and super-hungoverness, I rise early, 4 or 5 Alpha Mike, go outside, and groove down on the sight of a planet or star, e.g., Mars or Sirius.

Thoughts to therewith ponder:

One: It’s a big universe – HH, don’t fuck up your small part of it.

Two: Maybe it’s a big universe and Earth has the only pathetic sentient beings, and therefore it’s sort of a small universe, so, HH, don’t fuck it up.

Three: Do some good today, or, at the very least, do no harm.

Today, the sky features: waning moon, Venus, Orion.

Check back later, when we’ll be featuring Neil Young (Ms. HH is asleep and we can’t start blastin’ yet). It’s gonna be a year when we need Real Neil to survive.

MoB prediction: 2008 will suck.

“Fasten your seatbelts, kids, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride”.

Glad to have ya along.

Here's some Neil: