Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Last week, the San Jose Mercury News ran an article called "Green maverick possible spoiler to Davis' bid" about Green Gubernatorial candidate Peter Miguel Camejo. The Merc, while complimentary of Camejo, took the usual point-of-view that the best a Green candidate can do is spoil the chances of the Democrat winning. The assumption being that liberals and progressives who would vote for Camejo would actually be harming their own cause by forcing the election of the Republican.

I, of course, was not happy about that. I don't believe progressives should automatically line up behind anybody bearing the Democrat banner, regardless of their record. In the case of Gray Davis, we've got a do-nothing Governor (when we're lucky - Lord help us when he actually does anything) who's sold out every key constituency that brought him to power.

Today's Merc has an article called "Permit OK'd after donation to Davis" which outlines how the Tosco refinery had tried, unsuccessfully, to fight pollution rules in the Bay Area for seven years. Then, days after giving Governor Davis $70,000, they finally got their exemption. What a friggin' coincidence!

So, tell me, oh great Mercury News, who is the spoiler? The candidate that stands behind his principles and offers voters a legitimate alternative or the candidate who sells the right to poison Californians in exchange for enlarging his campaign war chest?

I'd suggest California voters check out
Peter Miguel Camejo for the health of their future.

Monday, July 29, 2002

You can close your eyes to reality but not to memories.
- Stanislaw J. Lec (1909-1966) Unkempt Thoughts

I just stumbled across this author and web site as a result of the above quote. It had appeared on a different site, and I went to Google to research just who this Lec character was. Apparently, this book of aphorisms ("Unkept Thoughts") may be all that's been translated to English. Here are some more:

Only the dead can be resurrected. It's more difficult with the living.

I know why Jews are considered wealthy - they pay for everything.

One has to multiply thoughts to the point where there aren't enough policemen to control them.

There are grammatical errors even in his silence.

Even his ignorance is encyclopedic.

I wanted to tell the world just one word. Unable to do it, I became a writer.

Human flesh cannot contain alcohol and anti-Semitism simultaneously. Pour in a little alcohol and out pours anti-Semitism.

Is it a progress if a cannibal uses knife and fork?

The fact that he died does not prove that he lived.

In his modesty he thought he was just a hack writer; he was in fact an informer.

Not every Abel can afford his own Cain. Some have to rely on collective ones.

Some like to understand what they believe in. Others like to believe in what they understand.

Don't loose your mind unless you have paid for it.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

My story earned "Runner Up" status in the "Forgotten Key" writers challenge from ACW (Adult Creative Writers Club).

Doesn't that just make you want to order a couple of copies of my book right now?

Well, it's silly really, but it is nice to get a little recognition from ones peers like this from time to time. Of course, I'd prefer to have won outright...

Friday, July 26, 2002

A friend passed on a very interesting market to submit stories to; Story House Coffee. From their web site:
"Coffee that makes you go 'hm.' Every bean has a story. And we travel the world, looking for the right ones. Small estate growers. Organics. Beans you won't find on your own. And we won't roast 'till we ship. (Or you can order them raw, and roast them yourself.) But here's the kicker: our labels are as good as our coffees. Stories, poems, art and non-fiction. A lot of folks love what they read as much as what they brew. Tasty stuff, all around."
Each can holds about 1,000 words. Longer stories or essays can be serialized onto two or more cans. It's certainly a different venue to try to write for. I'm going to think about this a bit and see if I can come up with something appropriate to send them.

Meanwhile, this has got to hurt!

Thursday, July 25, 2002

'In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.'
- Raymond Chandler (birthday, July 23)

That's not a bad idea, really, and I can see how it worked in Chandler's writing. Thinking back over several of his stories, it's now clear where he got hung up on the plot.

There's a story about the making of the (original) movie of The Big Sleep, with Humphrey Bogart. About halfway through the film makers were confused about who had killed a certain character. They called Chandler to the set to explain the scene.

Chandler couldn't answer the question immediately, but went back home to pore over his notes and re-read the chapters in his own book. He returned to the movie set later to admit that he'd lost track of that character himself. The fictional murder of this minor character remains unsolved. About all we know is that it was two guys coming through the door with guns.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Sorry there's been no postings the last few days, but I've been very busy. Sunday we were down in Los Angeles for a post-wedding reception for my brother who eloped a couple of months back. It was a lovely party, and it was great to meet all the new in-laws who came out from Utah for the event.

Since getting back, I've just been working. Wish I could say I've been up to something really incredible, but it's just been work keeping me from writing or posting anything.

Now, today, it's my birthday, and, yes, I'm writing this at work. I got to work late, as I had a medical appointment this morning. It was my first ever ultrasound. Yes, the same procedure they'd do if I were pregnant and wanted a picture of the baby. In my case, they were checking out the gall bladder and liver for stones or other damage. I don't think they'll find anything terribly wrong, it's mostly just a follow-up because of other problems I've had. Why was it scheduled for my birthday? Because it was the only date they had available during July.

Considering the many angst-filled posts that appeared here a year ago surrounding my fortieth birthday, this year is passing by with barely a glance. When I got to the office and was greeted with birthday wishes from my staff it took me by surprise. Not because I didn't they were nice enough to remember, but because I'd forgotten myself. Forty-one is no big deal.

Correction: The birthday is no big deal. The year was pretty good. Two major goals accomplished during age 40: 1) Found a good job, damn it 2) Published my book! (Have you ordered it yet? It makes a great gift!). Now I've got to come up with a good goal or two for age 41...

Here's the news:

In case you missed it, Ralph Nader wrote a column for the Washington Post (July 18) called “Corporate Socialism” - “The relentless expansion of corporate control over our political economy has proven nearly immune to daily reporting by the mainstream media,” writes Nader. “Corporate crime, fraud and abuse have become like the weather; everyone is talking about the storm but no one seems able to do anything about it. This is largely because expected accountability mechanisms -- including boards of directors, outside accounting and law firms, bankers and brokers, state and federal regulatory agencies and legislatures -- are inert or complicit.”

Nader's organization, Citizen Works, has compiled a guide to corporate scandals to help you keep track of the growing corporate crime wave, and all the corporate financial scandals of the last several months. Don't know who's going to jail without a program! Citizen Works has also compiled a list of reforms that could protect workers, investors, and stakeholders from future corporate abuses.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Be afraid. Be very afraid. You're not paranoid; they will be watching you.

The Terrorism Information and Prevention System (Operation TIPS), is scheduled to begin in August. This plan of Dubya's will turn 1,000,000 Americans into civilian spies against other Americans in the 10 largest U.S. cities. And that's just in the pilot program.

The ratio of spies to spied upon will be the greatest of any known civilian spying system. Greater, even, than the infamous East German Stasi secret police (and, yes, greater than the former Soviet Union).

Don't you agree that this goes against some of our basic Constitutional concepts of civil liberties, freedom of thought, and due process? Not to mention that throughout history, these sorts of programs have been notorious for their abuses of power and lack of accuracy.

Read all about it (while you still can):

* US planning to recruit one in 24 Americans as citizen spies - The Sydney Morning Herald
* The Spy Who Reads Your Meter - TomPaine.com
* The TIPS Web site - From your government, and mine

Friday, July 19, 2002

Quite often the media will work up a good scare about the evils of the Internet. Millions of evil-doers are supposedly lurking in the wires, waiting to reach through your monitor and grab your child.

It is true that there have been a number of child abductions since 1995 that began with an approach in a chat room. But it is also true that that number is fairly small. There have also been a similar small number of adults who've met with foul play when trying to meet their email pal in person. Of course, a much greater number have found wonderful mates through the Internet (including one friend who reads this regularly, and one of my brothers).

What this says is that we should all use caution online, but don't need to live in fear. Monitor your child's use of chat rooms, but don't raise them to fear technology. If you ever choose to set up a meeting with somebody you met online, do it in a public spot and never give your home address, and don't let your children meet strangers from chat rooms.

Even so, the media will continue to have slow news days, and they'll fill those days with recycled horror stories to grab our attention and try to scare the Hell out of us. And they'll perpetuate the Evil Internet myth.

Okay, so, that said, I'm going to paste in a forwarded email that I hope you'll pay attention to. It's not a story of a child abducted through the Internet; it's a story about a father trying to use the power of the Internet to find his abducted child.

Sabrina went for a weekend visit with her non-custodial mother on April 19, 2002. She never returned, and the mother is also now missing. There is a federal arrest warrant out for the mother, who was also last seen on Friday, April 19, 2002. The mother is considered mentally unstable, and Sabrina may be in danger.

I've verified that this is not a hoax. For the fully story of Sabrina visit http://findsabrina.org/.

Please read the forwarded email and do what you can to help find Sabrina. Most importantly, of course, is to return a child to her rightful guardian. But also, wouldn't it be nice if the media had to report a positive story about the Internet for a change?

>> I need your help!
>> http://www.feelgoodpages.com/images/sabrina.jpg
>> Sabrina Fair Allen
>> You can't imagine what it's like to have a little girl get abducted. And I
>> hope you never know the feeling. But if you have any compassion in your
>> heart, please help find this missing little girl. She disappeared a few
>> months ago and still hasn't been found. She's just 5 years old!
>> The Internet is huge and covers the whole world. If you pass this photo to
>> just 5 friends, and they each pass it on to 5 of their friends, maybe this
>> picture will reach someone who knows little Sabrina and can help find her.
>> Please, please help me find this little girl.
>> If you've seen her, please call (512)-424-2812 or 1-(800)-346-3243.
>> If you haven't seen her, please pass this message on to others
>> who might have information.
>> Sabrina's picture and case description are from the nonprofit National
>> Center for Missing & Exploited Children. We hope you help.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

I've entered a writing contest with the ACW Club (Adult Creative Writing) on Yahoo! groups. The challenge of the contest was to write a story (or poem) with the title "The Forgotten Key" in under 2,500 words.

Read all the entries here - Mine is #11, the one that begins with, "I no longer predict the future, and with the way things have worked out, I'm beginning to doubt I ever did."

As posted right now, they're all anonymous while the judges make their decisions. In a few days, once the Big Prize has been awarded, they'll post the names of the authors, and (hopefully) links to our home pages.

Next month's challenge: "The Fortune Cookie."

Monday, July 15, 2002

Last night was very difficult, and leaves me depressed, even today. And I expect to be depressed about it for quite a while.

Something I've not talked about here, in order to preserve the privacy of other family members, is that my brother (the one who lives nearby, in San Jose) is going through a divorce. This started with a separation a little over a year ago, but is now getting into the final stages.

Later this week, my soon-to-be-former sister-in-law will be moving, with their children, back to Connecticut to be with her mother. As you are probably aware, Leslie and I do not have any children - our nephews are "our kids." These boys (ages eight and eleven, after their birthdays in the next few weeks) are extremely important figures in our lives.

And last night, we had to say goodbye to them. The eleven-year-old kept reassuring me that it wasn't "goodbye" but that we'd see each other over holidays, in just a few months, but I could see that he was having as difficult a time as I was holding back the tears.

When we tried to go back to the car to leave, the eight-year-old grabbed my hand and started saying, jokingly at first, "I'm not moving!" As he kept repeating it, his tone turned from laughing to a very serious shout.

I'm only the damn uncle, I don't get any say in what happens between them, and I've got no right to be mad at my soon-to-be-former sister-in-law for taking the kids away from me - it's my brother, the boys' father, who she's taking them away from - but I'm angry and depressed anyway.

Saturday, July 13, 2002

I came up with what I think is a great opening line for a story yesterday, on the way home from work. The problem is, I just don't know if anybody else will think it's as good as I think it is. Well, here we go...
"The problem with opening sentences is that they've got to grab you in a way that this one never could."
Will only writers get it? Will they think it's too self-conscious and hate whatever story comes after it? I'm going to have to think this over for a bit before going too far... although I see that the story has to take place in writing workshop... and not from the point-of-view of the teacher, as these things usually are, but from a student...

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to finish up the draft of a different story this weekend, "The Forgotten Key." It's for a contest sponsored by a writers club I recently joined. It's the "Adult Creative Writing Club", but despite the "Adult" in their name, it's not for writing erotica - it's just to keep out annoying kids.

Friday, July 12, 2002

What was your most memorable summer, and what made it so memorable?

Summers growing up back east were all idyllic, but have now melted into one big, sticky memory of going to camp (swimming in polluted lakes and being bitten by mosquitoes in New Hampshire) and visiting with family (swimming off of polluted beaches and being bitten by hermit crabs in Massachusetts). Every summer day of youth was appreciated as one more day that we weren’t obligated to be in school.

I suppose the last truly memorable and special summer would be 1979, following high school graduation in Los Angeles. Every day of that summer was appreciated as our last taste of freedom before having to start behaving like adults (although, in reality, my friends and I all managed to put off acting like adults for several more years after that). Highlights included the “Rally to Stop Diablo!” in San Luis Obispo, where we put an end to nuclear power in California (you can thank me later), spending some time down in San Diego where my brothers were each living, and following The Kinks back up the coast with concerts in SD, LA, and Santa Barbara.

The summer of 1979 was also when President Carter reinstated Selective Service Registration, for a possible draft for a possible war (we were expecting to invade El Salvador or Nicaragua any day). As I drove from work to the Post Office to get my Registration form, KMET provided the perfect soundtrack of Alice Cooper singing “I’m Eighteen.” Later that week I started attending meetings with my parents to learn the new rules on filing for Conscientious Objector status. My file was started, but luckily it never needed to be used.

It’s amazing what you can remember about a single three-month period. Especially when they all said that the drugs would destroy any long-term memory. Ah, but that’s another story.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

House Divided Over Interfaith - Lutheran minister suspended a.k.a Stupid Story of the Week...
A high-ranking Lutheran pastor in Brooklyn has been suspended from his duties and ordered to apologize to all Christians for participating with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and Hindus in an interfaith service in Yankee Stadium after Sept. 11.
"To participate with pagans in an interfaith service and, additionally, to give the impression that there might be more than one God, is an extremely serious offense," the Rev. Wallace Schulz, the synod's national second vice president, wrote in the suspension letter.
The charges included "unionism" - mixing the beliefs of various Christian denominations - as well as "syncretism" - mixing Christian and non-Christian views. The synod constitution bars both.
from New York Newsday

All of which proves that no one religion has the monopoly on intolerance or stupidity. Like that really needed proving!?

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Have I ever told you my MCI story? I'll give you a brief summary... Years ago, MCI (now WorldCom) was my long distance carrier. One month I received a long distance bill of about $0.21. At the time, stamps were running in the area of $0.28 - a few pennies more than the check I'd be mailing to them.

So, I called customer service. I said I was willing to pay if not paying would screw up my credit with them, but that I'd rather just wait till the following month when it might be over a buck. They told me not to worry about it. Their computer was smart enough not to take a bill of less than a dollar as a missed payment. Besides, they said, it takes 90 days for them to send a serious second notice letter. So I didn't pay the $0.21.

Three weeks later I received a letter from MCI telling me that my account was seriously in arrears, and that if I did not pay at once my phone service would be discontinued. I paid, and I switched. I've been with AT&T ever since.

During the fifteen or so years since then, MCI has called or written me on a weekly basis to tell me about their wonderful service. Be it the Friends and Family campaign, or the issuance of 5,000 miles to my frequent flyer program if I switch back, or whatever the current offer was, they've never given up on getting me back. This, despite the fact that each time they've called or written I've asked them to put me on their Do Not Contact list.

So, when walking through the mall the other day, when I saw the MCI/WorldCom store closed, with lease violation notices posted all over their door, I admit that I smiled.

Of course, I then felt guilty for smiling when 17,000 people lost their jobs, and millions more had their retirement accounts severely screwed by the crash of the WorldCom stock. I'm angry as hell about the people who've been hurt by this, and the criminal activity that led to it. But I'm glad to have MCI out of my life.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

A phone call from my mother yesterday brought the news that my Uncle Sam had died of a heart attack on Friday. He was eighty-nine.

Uncle Sam, actually my great uncle, was my grandfather's youngest brother, and the last of that generation of Goldsteins. Since my grandfather had died when I was not quite five years old, I'd often thought of Sam as my surrogate grandfather.

Here's to Uncle Sam: family patriarch, a brilliant man, and one of the nicest people you could have ever met. We'll miss you.

And I won't even get into the symbolism of my Uncle Sam dying over this particular Fourth of July holiday.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

Well, it's more than 48 hours later, and officials are still "puzzled" about the motives of the LAX gunman. I've talked to a few friends and relatives about it, and it turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks the LAPD-FBI-CIA-Governor-President are a being a little less than forthcoming when they hesitate to call July 4th's public murders terrorism, or even a hate crime.

As Lyndon Johnson put it, "I may not know much, but I know the difference between chicken salad and chicken shit."

We're supposed to assume that, although he obviously set out to commit mass murder, that it's only a coincidence that this devout Muslim decided to do his killing at El Al, the Israeli airline.

* He held two ID's under two names with two different birth dates
* His wife and kids went off to Egypt a few days earlier
* He shows up at the 3rd busiest airport on a national holiday
* He leaves his two ID's behind but takes two guns and a knife
* He wanders up to the ticket counter of the most heavily guarded airline in the world
* And then suddenly something snaps and he accidentally starts shooting

It's all just a misunderstanding, of course. I shouldn't assume terrorist motives, or even an anti-Semitic hate crime. I'm being overly touchy. After all, he didn't kill any Americans. Only two Israeli Jews. What's the big deal? He was probably just upset about the results of a soccer match.

Let me make one quick clarification on that last paragraph...

That bit about "I'm being overly touchy. After all, he didn't kill any Americans. Only two Israeli Jews." This was not meant in a literal sense. I'm not accusing the LAPD/FBI/etc. of anti-Semitic bias in there handling of this case.

I should have pointed out that I understand that they're simply being overly-cautious about offending our good friends and allies the Egyptians. We wouldn't want them to think we were rushing to judgement. And, of course, we don't want word to get out that any terrorist activity took place on July Fourth - it might hurt the stock market. It's better to take the safe road, and just hope this goes away.

Unfortunately, their over-cautious attitude comes off as writing off these killings as "no big deal" - whether that's how they intended it or not - and that leads to my facetious accusation of it being "only two Israeli Jews."

And so, I apologize to the LAPD, the FBI, the CIA, Interpol, Governor Davis, President Bush, the nation of Egypt, and the murdering son-of-a-bitch who screwed up air traffic on July Fourth. No offense was meant. Next time I'll wait for official word that an act of terrorism or hate has taken place instead of rushing to judgement.

Here's how my friend, Bill, interprets the "official" story: "This schmoo’s wife left him, so he went to the airport and started killing people, most likely an extreme version of suicide by cop. Plus, he got to kill strangers whose politics he assumed were different from his, thus insuring a ticket to heaven."

Let's take an honest look at this for a second (repeat above apologies). If this guy "just wanted to kill somebody" and didn't care if they were Jews, why pick El Al? And don't tell me it was an accident. If you want a good shot at killing random strangers at the airport, you go to the Southwest terminal. You don't go to the airline that's been known for several decades for having the most heavily armed security on the planet.

The guy obviously had it in for Jews and/or Israelis. So, excuse me for being rude, but at the very least, this was a hate crime. Guess what? Even if it was because he was despondent over his wife's absence, he took it out on a specific group of people he didn't care for: Hate crime.

So, now we get to the terrorism question. My dictionary tells me that terrorism is violence, or the threat of violence, designed to make a political statement. It doesn't say that the terrorists have to be in the same club as Osama Bin Laden, they don't have to be in any club at all.

Did the LAX gunman have reason to believe that his action would be taken as part of "the larger struggle"? Yes. Did he have reason to believe that he'd make international headlines and screw up air traffic? Yes. Did he have reason to believe that he'd "be martyred" while in the act of killing his enemies? Yes. Hell, that's part of the alternative explanation already! All that, to me, spells terrorism.

Only one politician so far has had the balls to publicly use the "T" word. In response to all this semantic BS that's been going on, the mayor of Los Angeles, James Hahn, said, "To the victims it really doesn't matter. It's an act of terrorism any time someone takes a gun into an airport."

Case closed.

Friday, July 05, 2002

The Who at the Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA, July 3, 2002 - Second show past the death of John Entwistle

Great fucking show! Counting Crows did a very good set (when they weren't speaking, or, rather, trying to speak) and had the decency to go on right at 7:30 and get out of the way right at 8:15.

Between sets there was a short video about the Who, with band and crew interviews (including John). Unfortunately, it was still too light out to really see or appreciate this properly. We thought it would lead into the opening of the Who's set, but it ended at least ten full minutes before the real show began.

The Who came out at 8:45, just as the sun was setting. Every last person in the audience rose to their feet, and not a single one of them even thought about sitting down again till the show was over at 11:00. It was loud, and it was powerful, and it was exciting for over two full hours. It wasn't quite Live at Leeds, but put just about any other rock show to shame.

The set list:
I Can't Explain
Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
Who Are You?
Another Tricky Day
Baba O'Riley
Eminence Front
Sea and Sand
Love Reign O'er Me
Behind Blue Eyes
You Better, You Bet
The Kids Are Alright
My Generation
Won't Get Fooled Again

Encore: Tommy Medley
- Pinball Wizard/Amazing Journey/Sparks/We're Not Gonna Take It (finale)

Highlights for me included the Quadrophenia set, each of the numbers from Who's Next, Kids are Alright (also a highlight of the Bridge School show here two years ago), and My Generation. The excitement at some points was so great, I thought I'd have a heart attack. After the synth solo in the middle of Baba O'Riley, when Pete comes back in with those power chords, was one of the greatest moments of my concert going life.

The only song I could have truly done without was You Better, You Bet. Relay also didn't wow me. In fact, we'd all so forgotten about that song that during the show we were asking each other, "Is this new or what?" Steve would have also cut out Eminence Front and Another Tricky Day (in other words, anything post Keith Moon). Personally, I dug Eminence Front; screw Steve.

I will agree with him, however, that it would have been nice if they'd pulled out a few surprises from the back catalog, B-sides, or maybe even one of Pete's early solo albums. This was a brilliant show, but we could have guessed 90% of the set list (almost down to the order) before going in. I loved every moment of this concert, but it was a little too safe in the preparation.

The band: Pete and Roger, supported by Zak Starkey, "Rabbit" Bundrick, Pino Palladino, Simon Townshend, and the ghost of John Entwistle causing a bit of feedback, tuning problems other "gremlins" as Pete put it.

Pino still needs a few more rehearsals to be fully comfortable with all the material. But with less than a week to step into some might huge shoes, he did quite well where it counted. He came through beautifully in the bass solo in My Generation and the Quadrophenia mini-set.

It was interesting to look at Rabbit and realize how long he's been playing with the Who, and that he was on the original recordings of nearly a third of the material. Simon, of course, has been around the band a long time as well. Still, it was only Half-Who, and as great as the show was, it was never quite The Who.

Zak continues to amaze with the power of his drumming (this ain't his father's drum kit). Nobody will ever replace Keith, but this kid certainly fills in where it counts. It's interesting, but where we'd kind of gotten used to Moon's absence, the added loss of Entwistle brings back the focus on the whole rhythm section.

Maybe I shouldn't be pointing out what was missing so much. Believe me, this was a hell of a lot closer to a Who show than to a Pete solo show with special guest Roger. But there's no getting around the fact that in addition to being a kick-ass rock and roll concert, it was also a wake.

The guitars: All Strats (Red, Gold, & Beige) for the electrics, and a variety of acoustics for Roger and Simon. A bit of trouble keeping them tuned, but that's typical of this venue. They do all the set-up when it's a dry 90+ degree California day. Then the show starts, and there's a 65 degree fog coming in off the bay, and all the guitars change shape.

There was no intentional smashing of equipment. There were, however, a couple of accidents... Mid-way through My Generation Pete lost his balance and stumbled backwards into a stack of amps. He hit them with his shoulder sending them flying backwards, and bouncing him back to the front of the stage. Pete never missed a note, and the crew got the amps re-set within 15 seconds.

Roger destroyed at least one microphone by giving it a little too much slack while whipping it around. The thud of mike hitting the stage was a bit of a distraction, but again, not a beat was missed.

Roger was more distracted, and more obviously depressed, than Pete was. He got better as the night went on, but it was obvious that he was in pain. At the end, when he and Pete came out to take their final bows, Roger held out both arms, as if expecting band mates to join him from each side. Pete put his arm around Roger, while Roger whispered in Pete's ear and pointed to the empty space to his right.

As they left the stage for the last time, a slide show came on with images of John Entwistle. Some of him alone, some of John and Keith, and some of the whole original band, ending back on an image of John alone. All in all, the show was a fitting tribute, as well as a great concert, and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

Wednesday night I was full of the excitement of the show. Yesterday I was too exhausted to think about it much, and distracted by the mid-day terrorism.

This morning, as I'm typing this up, I'm actually tearing up over the loss of this great musician who died one week ago. I don't know what Pete and Roger will decide to do about the future of the Who, but there's obviously still magic, power, and emotion in that partnership, and between the Who and the audience.

"Rock is dead they said, Long Live Rock!"

Thursday, July 04, 2002

This is not the posting I expected to make today, nor is it one I wanted to. I had thought I'd have something to say about it being the Fourth - my favorite holiday - or perhaps about the Who concert last night - which was incredible, by the way - but instead there's more terrorism.

As I was starting up the computer to write my post, Leslie turned on the TV. Before I was even connected to the Internet, she was calling me down to see what was on the screen. It was a shooting at the El Al desk at Los Angeles International Airport. In the latest word, there were two killed (including the shooter) and at least two wounded.

We were warned, and we all feared in the backs of our minds, that this July Fourth would be a target for terror. But most of us decided not to let the terrorists spoil our day, and were going about our lives (at least I did, and the people I see going out to the park, or onto the highway to the beach).

My brother, Steve, was up last night for the Who show, and our other brother, Miles, had just dropped him off at the San Jose Airport to get his flight back to L.A. It now looks like he may be delayed a bit.

Not much is known yet about the shooting - I'll return to the TV in a moment, news junkie that I occasionally still am. My guess is that his target wasn't simply the clerk at the ticket counter, but that he was trying to board the El Al plane for other purposes. How wonderful for the terrorists to hit an Israeli target and an American target in one action, and to do it on the Fourth. How dare he.

I suppose the questions now would be, was he alone? Where are his accomplices? Did he have any baggage that's already been checked somewhere? Are there terrorists boarding other El Al jets in other American cities?

In other words: Is this it? Is it over for the day? Or is it just beginning? Have a happy Fourth. And God bless America!

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Remember my rant the other day about the court decision on the Pledge of Allegiance? How I thought there were other things far more worth getting excited about? Well here's a court decision to get excited about:

Judge Finds Federal Executions Unconstitutional (Yahoo! News)

The story begins, A U.S. trial judge on Monday declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional, calling it tantamount to "state-sponsored murder of innocent human beings."

I am extremely pleased and excited about this decision, and have agreed with the above quote for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, I don't think this decision will hold up, but it's an important part step in the fight to end these ritual killings.

Yes, I said "ritual killings." We, as a society, are scared. We fear what we can't control, and the possibility of murder - of ourselves, of our families - is high on the list. There's absolutely no proof that the death penalty prevents crime, and plenty of proof that it has been applied unevenly and unfairly, yet people gather outside prisons to cheer on the final moments of a condemned convict's life. Why? It's a human sacrifice.

The activity surrounding most executions is no different than a ritual sacrifice, like throwing virgins into the volcano, to appease some higher power and hopefully gain some protection from the great unknown. Guess what? It doesn't work.

You can't educate young people that murder is no way to solve your problems by murdering more people, no matter what they've done. The sacrifices have got to stop, and this ruling is another major step along the way.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Pardon this commercial interruption, but Barnes & Noble (.com) is having a sale on Aaron's Intifada and Other Short Stories (my book, remember).

They've got it listed right now for $7.66, which is 30% off the regular price of $10.95. Click to buy it now... (I don't know how long they'll have it at this price)

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