Sunday, March 30, 2003

The Imperialism of Language

I got some interesting email responses to my post yesterday, "The Language of Imperialism" that got me thinking. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, or making me look at any issue from a different point of view -- Tom from Denver wrote:

> [After kindly mentioning he likes reading my blog and often agrees with my views, he begins:]
> "I have to comment though on your latest entry "The
> Language of Imperialism". I grew up in England
> (I've been in Denver now for 22 years), and have
> many relatives there and in France. There are some
> extremely practical reasons for many other countries
> to teach English as a second language, which is
> exactly WHY they do. Being an Engineer, one of the
> most obvious reasons is technical communication.
> The majority of technical publications and
> proceedings are published around the world in
> English because re-creating the complex terms and
> ideas in such things in some other languages is a
> complicated waste of time as many technical people
> use English terminology anyway. Also, communicating
> these ideas via computer and other electronic media
> requires the use of a keyboard. If you are
> Japanese, for instance, this rapidly becomes and
> impossibility since you would need a keyboard with
> thousands of characters just to be able to generate
> the average document. They get around this by using
> either a Japanese shorthand, which in itself is a
> separate skill to learn, or English, which make
> communicating to your target audience (i.e. Western
> Consumers) much easier anyway.
> Don't get me wrong though, I agree with you that
> everyone should be open to learning a new language
> and making the effort to "do as the Romans do" as it
> were. I break out my rusty French when I go to
> France, but inevitably, the people I speak to take
> pity on me (and themselves) and speak English. With
> the world getting smaller all the time, English may
> become more dominant, but the mindset needed to
> grasp the ideas of a foreign land will always be a
> valuable asset. It is in fact the kind of thing
> that could prevent wars. Given that our current
> leader in this country can barely speak English, it
> isn't surprising that diplomacy failed when you
> think about it in these terms.
> If you haven't already read it, you might find Bill
> Bryson's book "The Mother Tongue" a fascinating and
> funny read about the history of the English
> language. Recently I have been very interested in
> language history along with word etymology, so this
> book was well worth the read for me. Considering
> where English comes from (Celtic, Latin, German,
> French, and others) it really doesn't surprise me
> that it has become such an international language."

Thanks Tom, food for thought. I'll check out the book too.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

The Language of Imperialism

I am finding it fascinating to learn the Dutch language. Especially fascinating is how perfectly bi-lingual so many Dutch people are. And amazingly, there are so many Americans who seem to think than's just fine and why shouldn't they be? And these same folks would figure, why should we learn any other languages anyway? And why should we bother funding language programs in our schools? What's the point? Everyone learns English anyway. Let them do the hard work of learning another language. And I cringe when I run into this attitude. When we speak English with this attitude we are speaking a language of imperialism. We could learn a lot from the Dutch -- they were once imperialistic like us and and now have a much less brutish and overbearing attitude. Their history and all the lessons learned there are in that beautiful language of theirs.

I am in awe of the mastery of languages most Europeans have. I took a helluva long, grueling time to learn French. Learning a language is just sheer uphill work unless you're three years old. And so next time you speak with someone bi-lingual, I invite you to KISS THEIR ASS, because they are handing you a gift that took as much as 10 to 20 years to make. They had the courage to fall on their faces repeatedly learning your language -- that's the only way anyone ever DOES learn a language. They had the perseverance to keep enlarging their vocabulary, their accuracy, their present, past and future verb tenses, the whole ball of wax. They had the gigantic respect and humility to study YOUR WAY OF THINKING, because nothing helps you understand someone else's thinking like learning their language. I learned that in French and I happen to love the French language and in an unpopular time, also love the French.

And now, as I learn Dutch, I am enthralled to hear the echos in the language of the way the Dutch think -- it's so interesting -- and the way the Dutch language still holds so many French and German words in it -- like a delicious haute cuisine six-course meal with delicacies from the other languages that once lived within their now modern borders, but the remnants of old visitors marching through those lowlands and leaving some of their tasty words behind. <

First Baseball of The Season

I love hanging out with my 7-year-old son. He has more fun than anyone I know -- expect his friends Bryan and Martin. I picked him up at school last night -- a simple Friday night -- one of the first Friday nights of Spring after this miserably long winter and after this miserably long week, and he says casually, "I think Bryan and Martin are out playing soccer on the field," which meant the field in front of the school. It was a long walk from where we were to the front where the athletic fields stretch out to the road and on the other side of the road, there's actually a farm with horses. On a slightly darkening Spring night, it would be a lovely place to walk to even if his friends had gone off to dinner which I suspected they had as it was already after six.

But I was wrong. There were there. And he was wrong -- they weren't playing soccer -- but even better they were playing baseball. Yes, on a lovely spring evening -- still light after 6:00pm -- they were playing the first baseball of the season.

It was surely an impromtu game, as there were only about 8 kids and there was a dad pitching. We were still far from them as we approached, kicking a soccer ball we had found on the way. I didn't recognize the dad at first or the pick-up team -- but what was I thinking?! If Bryan and Martin are playing, there's a good likelihood the rest of their family is out in full force and this is a really full force family. The dad I'd seen pitching was their dad of course. And the whole clan was playing ball with him. Bryan and Martin are in second grade with my son and are twins, then they have two brothers in fourth grade -- twins again! And then there's also the oldest brother in sixth grade. Five boys with two sets of twins. So when they play a pick-up game of ANYTHING, they almost start with a full team. You can say most decidedly everyone in town with one or no siblings has serious brother lust for this crew. My only child is crazy for them, because wherever they go, fun and crazy trouble are sure to be there too.

They have five times more fun than anyone we know. The evening was so much fun. First baseball and even I took a turn at bat with predictably humiliating results, still, it wasn't exactly the major leagues, even the ball had a piece of ripped off leather hanging off the side of it, which my kid, as he squatted to play catcher finally suggested he tear off, since it was so silly looking.

The spring evening was cooling off fast as the sun went down, but that didn't quiet our rowdy fun. We finally came up with a dinner plan and off to their house we went to eat pizza, tell stories and have the perfect evening this side of Fenway.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Doing Business In Wartime -- Harvard Conference

I'm really excited about our upcoming conference "Burning Questions" in NYC on April 30-May 1, especially since we've added a dinner discussion called "Changes and Challenges in Business During and After the Iraq Conflict"

Tom Stewart, the Editor of The Harvard Business Review, will be hosting Bob Hormatz, Vice Chairman, of Goldman Sachs, and Jeffrey Garten, Dean of the Yale School of Management to talk about doing business in wartime.

There are so many sides to the issue, even the simple concern of business travel during this time. There's more on our website about it. Drop me email if you have any questions. It's a very small, very senior level event, btw.

Make Your Bed

Had a terrific conversation yesterday at lunch with a new friend, about how easy it is to get out of balance. It got me thinking. Here's a typical balance problem I can have. For instance, you can decide to spend a little time inside over the weekend,not seeing friends, not going out because you're so tired from working hard during the week, or maybe for some dumb reason like you're hair looks crappy and you figure, well, I'll just stay in bed a little longer Saturday morning, next thing you know, it's Saturday afternoon, you're not even dressed, there are 5 magazines, 2 newspapers and three books scattered around your messy bed and you feel a bit depressed. And since you feel kind of shitty anyway, the phone rings -- someone asking you to go out and do something with them, your sister, a guy, your bowling pal, whatever -- and you figure, "well, why bother answering the phone" and then you roll over and take a nap. Why not, it's Saturday afternoon, why not take a nap.

And then you wake up about 4:00 and not answering the phone seemed a good idea, so you expand on that concept and unplug it entirely. BTW, you know the mailman has delivered the mail, but you haven't actually opened your mailbox for a week anyway, so the idea that you might check the mail turns into, why bother. Of course, you look at the clock and notice the dry cleaner is about to close -- now it's about 5:00 on Saturday and you really did need to go there and drop stuff and get the new stuff for next week for work, but you figure, what the hell.

You decide boldly to get out of bed, but with much self-loathing to say the least, because you're noticing you're a person who spent the whole of Saturday in bed and can't answer the phone and can't get the mail and have a big messy bedroom with a bed that looks more like a newstand than a bed. You figure you'll eat something. There must be something in your house. Of course, much to your dismay, there's almost nothing in your house, but a box of Frosted Flakes your nephew left behind one time. You eat these.

So now it's Saturday night, so why not watch TV and you switch it on and it's really really depressing, so you switch it off. And you figure, well, I'll check my email. So you check your email and you find next to nothing and lots of spam and you get the feeling that everyone is having a lot more fun than you, which really may not be far from the truth, but instead of reaching out and talking to someone, you decide it makes more sense to hate them and not talk to them.

You open the paper to look at the movies. You're having one good instict -- get the door and go see a movie -- but then you figure, Saturday night, date night, everyone's in a couple at the movies -- I can't go to the movies alone. So you give up on that idea. Probably wandering through the aisles of Target is a better idea and spending money on stuff you don't need. You think about this for a while and then realize you'd have to actually take a shower and get dressed to go to Target and this seems like just too much work.

Okay, I'm sure you've had enough. This is just my little way of saying that we all have these kinds of days but what happens is we just don't know how to intervene early on and head a day like this off at the pass, so to speak. The conversation we had was about why a day can turn into the Titantic going down, when you could have added the smallest counterweight early on and put the whole thing back in balance before it went completely down the drain.

For instance, I know you've seen these folks at your local McDonalds or Burger King -- senior citizens who have a standing date for morning coffee with one another to get their old butts out of bed, get cleaned up and have some place to go and people that care about them -- and we could all take a page from that book. So with my scenario above, and people have always teased me about this, I'm a big proponent of MAKING YOUR BED. Get up, make your goddamned bed and you'd be surprised how this can get your day in balance right off. And do have people you meet for coffee at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts or McDonalds -- wherever.

Big secret -- lots of us are out of work -- and another big secret -- if this wasnt' the most depressing economy before 9/11 and then turned into a terrifying world with a depressing economy after 9/11 and THEN with the war has turned into a nervewracking, terrifying world with the absolute worst economy in years and years -- well, the big secret is, all of us are a lot more depressed than we let on. If you're not working, you 're worrying and depressed. If you are working, chances are you are also depressed because you know you could be let go or downsized at any moment and no one wants to hear people who are working whining. And even if you are a trust fund kid and never think about work, you're busy pricing gas masks and not having an easy day. So admit it. Life is tough lately. Put some balance in.

We were joking at lunch that you need an early warning system to keep you on alert -- DEF CON 3 -- yes, confidence is high, you just missed garbage and recycle day tor the 2nd week in a row, your life is falling apart, MAKE YOUR BED, TAKE A SHOWER, GET THE MAIL, ANSWER THE PHONE, meet anyone who's the least bit optimistic and upbeat for coffee. And do it BEFORE you go to into complete melt-down. And those of you on the receiving end of the call from your old friend who's really down and out of work, try to make time for them. Chances are you don't have time since if you have a job, it's probably the remnants of three people's jobs in 2000 that turned into two colleagues being vaporized and you getting all their work load. So try to see the other person, if only for coffee and they might even let you bitch a bit about your life.

Of course, the funny thing about the conversation was how we were shocked at having gone through the same thrings in our lives and thought it was a big coincidence, but then I thought of all of my friends and how hard it is to even make it through a day these days, and I just wanted to tell you, MAKE YOUR BED!

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Casual Day

Having managed to get over Hump Day, we're headed straight for Casual Day at the office. It's just so easy to make the wrong choice on Friday Casual Day. You don't want to look too scruffy. You don't want to look too fancy -- otherwise looks like you're interviewing for a new job or going to a funeral. I tried this outfit last week and I thought it hit just the right tone, but maybe it was just a little too casual.

Spreek jij Nederlands?

Spreek jij Nederlands? En werk je bij of dichtbij Harvard? Ik heb iemand nodig voor een lunch ontmoeting, zodat ik mijn beginnend Nederlands kan oefenen en mijn uitspraak kan verbeteren. Stuur mij een emailtje. Alvast bedankt.

Just When I Thought ...

Just when I thought I'd had enough
All my tears were shed...
No promise left unbroken,
There were no painful words unsaid.
You came along and showed me
How to leave it all behind....
You opened up my heart again and then much to my surprise.

I found love, Love in the Nick of Time.

-- Bonnie Raitt

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I Found A Grenade Under My Bed

I found a plastic grenade under my bed the other morning. And right outside my bedroom door there's a sentry parked in a desert camo jeep -- an African American with a broad chest and silver dog tags around his neck showing off his gorgeous brown skin. His broad chest must measure almost 3 inches across. He's my son's G.I. Joe. We call him Carter. On the passenger seat next to him is a big rubber band ball my son made for him to play with, except it's about half his size.

This G.I.Joe doll we call Carter is a marine from the Vietnam War, or he was when we bought him and came with a chainsaw and a bunch of guns -- the former for cutting through bamboo and the later for shooting Vietnamese snipers. But we bought him a beach outfit on a card in case he was feeling retro and wanted to go to Iwo Jima for the weekend. My son at 7 years old is proud of his fighting force -- a Marine from Vietnam and a Radio Control Man who broadcast the first alert at Pearl Harbor. They both get along fine, hardly notice they aren't from the same wars -- they even share outfits and boots, although the Pearl Harbor man is reluctant to let me, my son, or the Vietname Marine named Carter touch his radioset.

Anyway when I foudn this plastic grenade under my bed early the other morning, it was a little shocking now that we're really at war. I started to think about whether I had erred as a mom, letting my son even buy military toys and guns. We live in a fairly liberal community and they are very anti-gun around here. We live in the hotbed of the Revolutionary War -- Lexington and Concord Mass area -- and they called me last year to come get a gun my son had brought to school -- I thought "Geez, has my kid turned into some rap artist or something?" Well, not to worry, it was a musket. He'd turned into a patriot, you could say.

It's hard to know what to think now in a time of war. Hard to tell our kids what to think. Hard to know anything anymore, except I took the grenade out from under my bed and put it back in the toy box. It made me nervous.

Now This Is A Real Warblogger

Check it out -- straight "from the sandbox." Real bloggers right in the middle of the conflict.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Building A House -- Come Over And Help Me

I was standing in the grocery store line
The one they marked express
When this woman came though with about 25 things
And I said don't you know that more is less
She said this world is moving so fast
I just get more behind everyday
And every mornin' when I make my coffee
I can't believe my life's turned out this way
All I could say was

Love's the only house big enough for all the pain in the world
Love's the only house big enough for all the pain

He was walking by the other day and I said
Hey you been?
Yeah, I got me a little girl now and she's 4 years old
And she's got her daddy's little grin
You only wanted what you can't have
And baby you can't have me now
I gave my heart to another
Yeah I'm a mother
And he's a father and we're a family and we got each other
And I found out the hard way that

Love's the only house big enough for all the pain in the world
Love's the only house big enough for all the pain

You drive three miles from all this prosperity
Down across the river and you see a ghetto there
An' we got children walking around with guns
And they got knives and drugs and pain to spare
And here I am in my clean, white shirt,
With a little money in my pocket and a nice warm home
And we got teenagers walking around in a culture of darkness
Living together alone...all I could say is

Love's the only house big enough for all the pain in the world
Love's the only house big enough for all the pain

And I can't explain it, and I can't understand
But I'll come down and get my hands dirty and together we'll make a stand

Somewhere 'cross the parking lot, some bands playin' out of tune
City streets are gonna burn if we don't do something soon
Senorita can't quit crying, baby's due now any day
Don juan left, got sick of one there to show him the way
She came down to the grocery store and
She said i, I wanna buy a little carton of milk, but I don't have any money
I said hey I'll cover you honey, cause the pain's gotta go somewhere
Yeah the pains gotta go someplace...
So come on down to my house
Don't ya know that

Love's the only house big enough for all the pain in the world
Love's the only house big enough for all the pain

-- Martina McBride

Monday, March 24, 2003

Wondering Who I've Been Sleeping With?

Okay, I'll fess up. I've been sleeping with my friend's husband Jim -- we were together on Friday night -- at the Children's Museum in the Hall of Toys -- pretty hot, eh? No, really, I spent the whole night in the museum with Jim, his son and my son, both 2nd graders. And boy was it fun.

The Children's Museum sponsors overnight a few times a year and this one had a bunch of kids from his class, so it was really cool.

We got to build musical instruments, do African Dance and eat lots of treats.

At the end of the evening, we lay our sleeping bags out in the Hall of Toys, next to two big doll houses with tiny figures staring down at us from the small doors and windows in the house. I think they were wondering who the giants on their front lawn were and we were wondering who the tiny peeping toms were, looking right at us all night. It was actually an enormously fun adventure. I lay in the dark on the floor thinking of soldiers trying to sleep in the hard dirt. Of course, my son slept like he was on a feather mattress. How do they do that, these kids?

Ecoutez, Meneer

Nothing beats the Beatles seems to me. They have a song for every occasion, for every day of the week. Niek, don't you think this one is the best? I do. Listen ...
Do You Want To Know A Secret

You'll never know how much I really love you.
You'll never know how much I really care.

Do you want to know a secret,
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh.

Let me whisper in your ear,
Say the words you long to hear,
I'm in love with you.

Do you want to know a secret,
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh.

Let me whisper in your ear,
Say the words you long to hear,
I'm in love with you.

I've known the secret for a week or two,
Nobody knows, just we two.

Do you want to know a secret,
Do you promise not to tell, whoa oh, oh.

Let me whisper in your ear,
Say the words you long to hear,
I'm in love with you

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Coffee Robots

Wow, weird link. I found this picture of a coffee robot when I did the search on "Danger Will Robinson" and it's so nifty. Can you imagine having a coffee robot that makes coffee and keeps you out of danger and walks into your bedroom in the morning with a head full of coffee and wakes you up softly, stroking your cheek with five delicate tin fingers ... that's the life.

I owe my friend Dave Winer a housewarming gift. A coffee robot would surely warm his house.

Winer Sans Tivo -- Danger Will Robinson

Dave Winer is getting cozy in Cambridge and Harvard. Sending a big Halley's Comment Welcome today. But ut oh -- trouble on the radar -- no Tivo -- could be serious international ramifications. Dave Winer sans Tivo on Academy Awards night, oh no!

Remember this great piece he did on how a house is a form of outliner. Amazing to realize that house which he describes in that post, a house in Woodside, CA , which was a lovely, lively, well organized house a few months ago, is no longer standing. It will be fun to watch Dave organize his new place and see where it comes together and where it falls down, so to speak. No Tivo sucks. And since he'll be so busy with new projects, new friends, new everything, on would be tempted to say, well, he won't be watching TV anyway, but that's just the point -- you need Tivo watching for you even more.

BTW, Dave is doing incredibly cool stuff at Harvard building the blog infrastructure. We're all glad he's there. Harvard will never be the same -- and it's about time.

Got Your Seat All Picked Out?

I'll be there sitting next to Nicole and Harrison, they asked me to bring some Tic-Tac breathe mints just in case they have to do any public speaking. I hope Calista eats a Hungry Man frozen dinner before the Awards, she's just too damned skinny. Party, party, party tonight!

Divine or Divinyl?

Okay, guys, is this song what I think it's about? Some love letter to a friend. Wow.

I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me

I don't want anybody else
When I think about you
I touch myself
I don't want anybody else
Oh no, oh no, oh no

You're the one who makes me happy honey
You're the sun who makes me shine
When you're around I'm always laughing
I want to make you mine

I close my eyes
And see you before me
Think I would die
If you were to ignore me
A fool could see
Just how much I adore you
I get down on my knees
I'd do anything for you


I love myself
I want you to love me
When I'm feelin' down
I want you above me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I forget myself
I want you to remind me


I want you
I don't want anybody else
And when I think about you
I touch myself
Ooh, oooh, oooooh, aaaaaah


Thinking about getting all the good men I know into my son's life so he can see the many ways of being a man. His Dad's an excellent dad and excellent man, but it's good to have him know many ways of living. When I was growing up, I wished I'd known more women of my mom's age who were taking a path like my mom, but also taking a path completely unlike my mom, would have given me a richness I didn't have.

I remember a friend of my mom's who was an artist and actually was very physically fit, very beautiful in a bohemian way and one time when we all went on a sailboat trip and set up a picnic on a beach on a beautiful day, the men all had a beer and this woman, Marge, drank one too and I was really shocked by this, since my mom never drank. I thought this beer-drinking physically fit woman artist was really cool. It gave me something to imagine as a life ... and maybe is not that far from mine now. She also had four kids and wasn't as invested in them as my mom. She had a life and a husband and kids, but they all balanced out better than my mom's life -- no outside outlets, just us and a not-so-happy marriage. Later today, I'll have a beer, just to toast this woman Marge and thank her for showing me another way to be.

Friday, March 21, 2003

Be True To Your School

Killing myself on a project at Harvard today. I totally dropped the ball on this and I deserve to be scrambling. Listening to the Beach Boys and loving this song. See, this happens all the time to me when I say I work at Harvard -- No one's ever heard of my school.

When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
"Now what's the matter buddy
Ain't you heard of my school
It's number one in the state"

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

I got a letterman's sweater
With a letter in front
I got for footbal and track
I'm proud to where it now
When I cruise around
The other parts of the town
I got a decal in back

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

On Friday we'll be jacked up on the football game
And I'll be ready to fight
We're gonna smash 'em now
My girl will be working on her pom-poms now
And she'll be yelling tonight

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school
Rah rah rah Be true to your school

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Dark Day

That's all I really can say about this war.

Ut Oh! Rageboy's Got Visitors

It was only a matter of time that they sent the FBI in to visit Rageboy's Truth Factory.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

How To Have Fun On War Week -- Buy Some Toys

Get your butt to Toys R Us, and even if you don't have kids, buy yourself some toys. Or buy some frazzled parents you know some toys for their kids. Or buy some frazzled parents you know a slick shiny cool gift card for $25.00, they'll appreciate it.

Of course you can also enjoy war week by shopping online for these kinds of toys.

How To Have Fun On War Week -- Get An HIV Test

Talk about a fun thing to do -- and the perfect time to do it. It's easy, it's fast and the blood is a pretty color of red. And here's the real beauty of it. Most weeks you might actually sweat the days between when they take your blood and when they give you the results -- but not this week! Hell, what do you care if you're HIV positive, you'll probably be dead by the end of the week anyway!

How To Have Fun On War Week -- Suppertime

Everyone is so down! Come on guys, let's get happy -- very unhealthy to be so worried all the time. Especially if terrorists are going to take you out NEXT week, might as well have fun THIS week.

First of all, start eating only comfort foods that you love. May I suggest a menu for tonight:

Appetizer: Purple Marshmellow Peeps or Kosher Macaroons (my favorite Easter and Passover foods)
Entree: Meatloaf with Gravy or Turkey A La King *Tommy Tucker Plate" from Howard Johnson's) or Filet Mignon or Tacos
Veggies: We actually eat a lot of frozen spinach at our house and call it "Green Ice" This would be perfect for tonight, but you must sing the Popeye Song while serving.
Dessert: Every now and then my mom would slip and let us START with dessert -- this is perfectly okay for a week like this week. Dessert should be an assortment of food you can buy at the movies -- Jujubees, Raisinets, Junior Mints, Ice Cream Bonbons, or more tacos.

Important Detail: the person serving dessert, like the 1940's cigarette girl, should rig up a little exhibition shelf that they wear at their midriff with red ribbon straps that go from the shelf to their shoulders and go from person to person at the table offering the dessert like they used to do in old time movie theatres If this is an adult household only, a special War Week treat, of course is that the server should be stark naked, however a thong and high heels is acceptable for those who prefer to dispense dessert partially clad. Now is that about the best dinner menu you've had in a long while or what?

Stress Test

Everyone's so damned stressed out and rightly so. Come back later for Halley's Helpful Hints on Harmony, Happiness and How to keep it together in these tough times. Featuring favorite comfort food recipes today and the occasional pretty picture links to nice young ladies scantily clad but with the best intentions.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Some Things Never Change

We awaken to a new world this morning -- and I can't say a better one -- but some things never change. I still love these frilly panties. I still love taking bubble baths with candles and flowers. And I still love you. Thanks for reading.

My Son

My son could sleep through anything -- an earthquake for instance -- and has, several times. So medical science gained little new insight as I tried to wake him and check for concussion last night since he bonked his head on the pavement yesterday morning. Good news, he's much better, bad news, I look half alive after trying to wake him up all night. What the heck, he's well.

A Cold Day In Hell

I'm wondering what my parents did to make us feel safe when we were kids and things like wars were raging. I can't remember, but do remember the Kennedy assassination, being in school and going home early that day and knowing something very bad had happened. But I don't remember anyone actually explaining it to me or what my parents said. I remember a feeling of cold, a frozen icy feeling that the world was going to hell.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Thin Ice

Well, I suppose I have to just bend low and kiss my lovely son -- that 7-year-old wonder who I can no longer lift -- kiss him on the head and thank him for giving me something else to worry about today. As we walked out the front of my apartment this morning ... wait, we had gone out and it was so warm (later as warm as 69 degrees F or 20 degrees C) my son had begged me to ride his bike a bit before school and I had agreed even though we really didn't have the time. So he puts on his helmet and jumps on his bike and is so excited to be riding and it's a weird scene all around since there are still massive piles of newsprint -colored snow and here it is such a warm day, so he's riding his bike, loving it and finally it's getting late and I talk him into putting his bike away, taking his helmet off, which he does and we start out the door again ... and some how, he slips on the only ice left in Boston -- all three square inches of it and lands not on his butt, not on his back, but on his head almost, WITH HIS BIKE HELMET IN HIS HAND, and gives his head a mighty whack and so my day goes ass over tin cup. I am only a few feet behind him and run to him and scoop this big kid up, sitting in my black suit and black heels in a pile of melted snow, sand, mud and salt, letting him cry in my arms.

The doctor prescribes both mom and son staying home and watching for signs of concussion -- vomiting, irregular gait, sleepiness, odd sized pupils -- and I have to spend the day worrying about him instead of what everyone else is worrying about -- hurray! . And tonight I have to wake him every two hours to be sure he's alert, so if there's a war, tell me all about it one of these days because I've got better things to worry about. I'm busy staying up all night waking up my kid and hoping he's okay.

And I tell you, this kid who I love so much, baffles the mind in terms of parenting, defies the imagination and how he found ice to slip on today ... I'll never know. But all I can say is one big thanks.

Who Would Not Blog After A Day Like Today?

Not me, but first the kid into the bath and into bed. Back soon. So much to write about. Unless I'm dead ... and then I'll see you in heaven.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Did I Say Thank YOU?

Have I even bothered to say thank you to YOU for reading my blog? Well, if I haven't lately, then I'm a complete bum and so I just wanted to say thank you so much for reading my blog I really, really appreciate it. You are the best, all of you guys who keep reading and sending me email and talking about what I write about and also writing about it. It's a big deal, so thanks, thanks, thanks.

Sick Kid Day

Talk about germ warfare. What do these kids do at school all day, inject test viruses and swap throat samples? My son's sick again which makes any life you were planning on living or activities you were planning on doing come to a grinding halt. All you want for them is to be well, but man, is it frustrating. We had a lot of fun stuff planned this weekend and now -- whoosh -- nearly all of it is out the window.

Ladies and Jellymen

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. This is just a test. I can't get to my site so I figure Blogger's up to its old tricks. Let me try to post this.

Friday, March 14, 2003

River of Love

At first, the surface of the river
throws your face right back at you
and your sky and your clouds
it tosses back your way,
as if to tease and say, go away
it will seem shallow at first regard
silly and fun and free and flirting
the surface of this river

but you might follow it down
and it might bend and play with you
and light will slice it
and show you parts of fish
and rocks and things
and the surface opens slightly

and you might follow it further
and the sun will cut holes in its watery silk
to reveal sunshine below, melting like butter
at the river bed and how cozy a bed it is
in its welcoming depths
and the surface is now inviting

and you might have turned away
but instead chased it and
even walked in, just to feel
its current and wetness
and rushing power and now
the surface is no longer shy

and you are in the river
and in awe of it
and bow to its depths
and its undercurrents
and its history
and its darkness
and its shining light
and its silent love
of you and trees and sky and rocks
and the surface pulls you in
and you go to it,
gather it up like thick silver silk around you
wrap yourself in it, a shiny mantle of deep care.

Tulip Time

I still can't get over this excellent post from Niek Hockx site, Shutterclog. Gives you a real feeling for how Europe experiences war. Feels a little different over there, eh? (Thanks to David Weinberger for posting this last week and reminding me how good it was.)

Thursday, March 13, 2003

How To Become An Alpha Male -- Lesson 13: The Real Alpha Male

Lucky 13. Great. Let's talk about death.

When I write these essays about Alpha Males, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know why I’m writing. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I don’t know anything. I just know I have to write them.

I know my dad was an Alpha Male, the classic 1960’s Madison Avenue slick handsome ad man type Alpha Male.

I know I grew up wanting to be him, have his exciting life and not be my mom, the stuck-at-home babymaker. Maybe a weird thing for a woman to say, but yes, in my family I was my dad’s number one son in some ways. You could rename these essays Confessions of an Alpha Male Wannabe.

I know today I’m about two weeks out from the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death. And I know I had to be by his bedside those torturous months last year, his last six months alive, I had to be there to watch the death of a salesman. The death of an Alpha Male. I had to watch, so I could report back and tell you it was not a pretty thing to see.

For whatever reasons and in his generation of men, there were many good reasons, my dad had a lot of trouble connecting emotionally with us. The result was feeling abandoned by him, even in his presence. Worse still, it was a charming, seductive presence, loved and adored by clients and other women and strangers, but not fertile ground for roots to grow between him, my mom, my other three sisters and god forbid, he have any connection to his real only son, my brother.

One time on a dreadfully cold night in New York up on that windy canyon Riverside Drive, my older sister, in her twenties at the time, slipped on an icy street corner, fell down and cut her knee and instead of soothing her or asking her is she was okay, he whipped out a $20 bill and put it on her knee like a bandaid and said, “Buy yourself a new pair of stockings.”

Money was the coin of the realm. If you had money, you were the big guy. You were safe, people had to do what you said. People had to listen. People could be told what to do if you were the guy with the money. The guy with the expense account. The guy who picked up the check at the fancy business lunch in town, the day before Thanksgiving when the wives were home making the big family meal for the next day. Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving, you had time to fuck your girlfriend and take the late train to Greenwich for the lovely family weekend.

Where did that come from? Well, wherever. I told you I don’t know where any of it comes from. I just write it down.

He did have girl friends – we all knew and all pretended it wasn’t happening – the delightful double whammy of childhood abandonment and simultaneously having your head fucked over with all the lies, all the pretending, having your pristine core knowledge, your gut feelings contradicted by adult words. Your innocent knowing and intuition betrayed. Everyone pretending they can’t hear the deafening noise of my mother’s anger and frustration, completely silent but louder than murderous thunder. She’s making stuffing.

So you pick. You want to be the guy downtown with the fancy car and the fun life and the pretty babe? Or do you want to be home at the stove burning stuffing? Stuffing it. And that’s all we got to see up close, all of us kids figuring these two parents knew something we didn’t know. Surely they must know how to live a life. What were they doing there otherwise? Weren’t they trying to show us something. Something about how the world worked? Something about how we would live in the world when we were their age?

But really they were so young and they didn’t know what the hell they were doing. And even now, I’m NOT that young and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. So let me get back to it. What I saw at my father’s deathbed. I saw a guy who FINALLY at the end of his life nearly “got it” and realized the only people still there for him were not some guys he wined and dined at the 21 Club. And not some babe he was fucking at his pied-a-terre in Greenwich Village. Those folks were nowhere to be found at the nursing home when his urine bag filled with piss and blood and an infection loomed large – one of the early disasters he endured on the long, slow painful six month road out of life.

We were there. My sisters, my brother, my brothers-in-law, my husband, my son. We were there remembering silently at times all the times he WASN’T there for us, or if physically present, often wasn’t able to be there emotionally for us. We were there. I was there to see who this man had become, without an expense account, without receipts (“Always get your receipts, kids for those bastards at the IRS.”) without expensive loafers. He was a wreck, he was a pile of bones, no more glad-handing as his hand lay flat on the hospital bed, purple and bruised with IV’s taped down onto his wilting skin. He was still flirting with the nurses. They are taking his shit away in a silver bedpan or diaper and he’s still flirting with them.

But it wasn’t that dark. He finally was getting it. He finally realized all there is love – not Catwoman in her cat suit sharing cocktails with him – but real love. A family’s faithful love and endurance in the face of painful illness and hopeless and inevitable death. No one missed the REAL ALPHA MALE IN THE ROOM. The Grim Reaper. Oh, yes, he was the big guy in that hospital room and we fought him off every god-damned day, day after day.

And my dad really finally got it – so damned late – but better late than never – that he was nothing. Just a “nothing ball” as he used to call people he considered inferior to him, what most would call “losers”. He was nothing except for the love and connection he had to his family and to my mom, though she was now gone and spared the final scenes of his life. He got that you can’t do anything but love one another. You can’t walk through this life without caring for other people and that care and love will eventually come back your direction. And of course, there were times when he did care and love us in the only ways he could. He worked hard for us. He sweated the money part. He put us through college and helped us move into dorms. He drove us and our friends places. He told us stories. He was there in the ways that he could be there. And in the end, we found, surprisingly, there was enough love and forgiveness to go around. Even for him. And that’s why we were there for him, even though he was not always there for us. That’s what he finally figured out. And I guess we learned that it’s never over til it’s over.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Our House

I'll light the fire
You put the flowers in the vase
That you bought today

Staring at the fire
For hours and hours
While I listen to you
Play your love songs
All night long for me
Only for me

Come to me now
And rest your head for just five minutes
Everything is good
Such a cosy room
The windows are illuminated
By the sunshine through them
Fiery gems for you
Only for you

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you
And our la,la,la, la,la, la, la, la, la, la, la.....

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard
Life used to be so hard
Now everything is easy
'Cause of you

I'll light the fire
And you place the flowers in the jar
That you bought today

-- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

What's Going On?

Father, father, we don't need to escalate
War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

-- Marvin Gaye

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Neo-Macho Man In The Nation

Big thanks to Brian for the link to an amazing piece in The Nation (Andrew Sullivan's favorite, I'm sure). If you think my Alpha Male pieces are just silly, they're not. Don't miss this consideration of Alpha Males run amuck who are taking us to the brink of mass destruction. Listen guys, give me a president who just wants a blow job any day, over one who wants to BLOW US ALL TO KINGDOM COME. Seriously, check out the piece by Richard Goldstein in The Nation which starts with these first two paragraphs befow and ends with the other two.

Say what you will about oil and hegemony, but the pending invasion of Iraq is more than just a geopolitical act. It's also the manifestation of a cultural attitude. To understand how this war is being packaged and sold, you have to look at the fantasies Americans consume as they graze through the vast terrain of TV, radio, movies and the Internet. In this charged environment, pop culture and politics swirl around each other like strands of DNA. The product of this interplay is the current crisis.

From Colin Powell dissing the French as cowards to Donald Rumsfeld raising his fists at the podium, the Bush Administration bristles with an almost cartoonish macho. It's a little like watching pro wrestling in a global arena. Why is this smackdown style acceptable to many Americans now? Bill Clinton has an explanation. "When people feel uncertain," he said after the Democratic Party's recent electoral rout, "they'd rather have somebody who's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right."


What will it take for the best and brightest Democrats to address the relationship between male dominance and the current crisis? Don't count on courage. Politicians usually arrive when the coast is cleared by culture. It remains for artists to challenge the backlash and for critics to criticize it.

It's time to create a new vocabulary of dissent, one that makes a clear connection between war fever and thug power. There's no more urgent task. The dawgs of war are about to be unleashed. Thousands will die, billions will be spent and most of us will have to do with less. These are the wages of following a leader who is strong but wrong. He's the man; we're his bitches.

The Sideways World

Seems like nobody in Washington see the Sideways World. They have too many old maps hanging around in war rooms. It's time to take the maps down.

People keep thinking the USA has borders, that cute little top part by Maine, that luscious string of beads in Florida ending in Key West, that California slice of cantaloupe, sexy and sweet and even funny Alaska -- a craggy faced old miner about ten times the size of any other country in the world, the skipping stones of the Hawaiian Islands tossed like black lava rocks into the Pacific Ocean, this is all nice in geography class, a big old map taped up on a big old wall, but it has nothing to do with what's really going on. Nothing.

America doesn't have those borders anymore. Did you notice?

Didn't anyone notice we all went sideways and when I talk to Denise in LA and Doc in Santa Barbara and Cheyenne in SF and Chris in Boulder and Jeneane in Atlanta and David in Boston and Gary and Euan, both Scots in the UK and Brian and JP and Jack, all Brits in the UK and Niek in Holland and Jean-Yves in France an Golby in South Africa and other friends in Germany and Japan and China and New Zealand and Australia and yes, the MIDDLE EAST that I'm making a new world with new borders? I've already made a new world with NO borders. I've made a Sideways World thanks to the Net. I'm living in a Sideways World.

And would someone please ask me, like George Bush and his friends, WHY THE FUCK I'D LIKE TO KILL ALL MY FRIENDS IN MY SIDEWAYS WORLD? That's the last thing I want to do. I'm a mom. I want my friends to have fun and eat and grow up and make more kids. I'm not really wanting to nuke them into non-existence.

So when they ask me to think I live in the USA and there are borders here and I should say, "Yeah, sure, let's kill those STRANGERS in that pink country and that green country and that orange country, up there on the map, let's not actually sit down and LISTEN TO THEM." they have it all wrong. I don't see those borders anymore. I just want to talk to those folks. I might find out there are a lot of other mothers living there trying to make dinner for their kids. And when you're just trying to make dinner for your kids, don't you deserve NOT to be annihilated? Call me crazy.

How To Become An Alpha Male -- Lesson 12: The Post-Alpha Male

The Post-Alpha Male should not be confused with Post Alpha-Bits, although both are similarly sweet. Both have a tendency to spell things out and this directness is one of their many virtues.

It’s now clear to me that the Alpha Male is a dinosaur, dragging his hopeless old carcass across a desolate desert and finding no water, no sustenance and is almost history. I worry this may seem shocking, as I’ve entitled this series of essays, “How To Become An Alpha Male in 18 Easy Lessons, “ but after in-depth academic research – actually no research at all – but a lot of shooting the shit with men over beer, wine and the occasional Gatorade, it’s clear that men are evolving into Post-Alpha Males and it’s a terrific improvement over the Alpha Male. It's a big deal, you're just gonna love it.

So the good news is, I’m beginning to define an animal worth becoming. And the bad news is, The Alpha Male is all washed up.

But, truth be told, it wasn’t possible to find this Post-Alpha Male, dust him off and examine him until I got this far down the path..

The Post-Alpha Male if he is anything, is finally sensitive to the needs of others and especially the needs of women. This does not make him pussyfied. Not by a long shot, in fact, it makes him all the more manly.

The Post-Alpha Male has been through hell and back and doesn’t necessarily need to tell you that. His relaxed and calm attitude spell REAL confidence – not the phony con game of the Alpha Male.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Sunless Tanning -- Let's Talk Girls

So I understand from friends, Estee Lauder's Sunless Tanning with Tint is the way to go. The tint means when you put it on, you can SEE WHERE YOU PUT IT. Some of the untinted creams lead you to paint yourself here, there but not everywhere and can have some unusual effects. You need to exfoliate first -- a loofa will do. And then as the woman in this site says, "blend, blend, blend." She begins: "I am corpse white as my husband so charmingly points out and I simply don't tan so I tried this "self-tanner" by Estee Lauder in Medium over the weekend ...

Four hours later, you're tan. But I don't get it, how long are you tan for? Four hours? Four days? Four weeks? Nine and 1/2 weeks?

Now Don't Go Crazy

There's been a sociological shift in women's consciousness I've written about before. The lyrics of Destiny's Child pop hit, "Independent Woman" from the movie, Charlies' Angels, gives us all the clues we need. Women are taking their own lives back and living in radically independent ways. They are taking their bodies back. They are deciding their bodies are terrific, even if they don't necessarily look like Barbie. And they are about to hit the beaches this summer in a whole new way. Bare-breasted. I'll put money on it.

It's been coming for a while. Ask the folks at Victoria's Secret who make bikinis if I'm wrong. Bikinis with easy to pull open cups on top -- the simple triangle kind -- will sell out this summer, because they let you "open the curtains" and do this. American women will take a clue from their European sisters and let their breasts go free this summer. Notice the word "THEIR" breasts. When you decide your body belongs to you and it's beautiful, you can decide that your breasts are a beautiful part of you and they should be naturally free at the beach. This is what women will do, wade out into the water, turn their backs perhaps to the beach (or not) and let their bosoms hang out in the summer sun. It's not as free as Europe, but it has to start somewhere.

Thanks to Steph in Alaska, via Shutterclog, who sends along this post from The Onion, which seems to be serious, not joking for once. Or if they are, they don't realize how they've touched on a trend and it is about to happen. I'd say to the author of this piece, if he'll get rid of his Beatles hairdo, I'll go topless at the beach.

If you're not convinced, ask Estee Lauder -- they have the best self-tanning lotion and all my girlfriends are buying it so when they aren't going bare-breasted at the beach, they can at least keep their tits from that weird white triangle disease, which looks just silly. Wanna buy some stock -- you'll see Victoria's Secret (ticker: LTD) and Estee Lauder (ticker: EL) laughing all the way to the bank this summer.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

More Martina McBride

Another Martina song that I love. It's not Valentine's Day but I can't help posting it. Actually the trick with having a valentine is loving them every OTHER day of the year.


If there were no words
no way to speak
I would still hear you
If there were no tears
no way to feel inside
I'd still feel for you

And even if the sun refused to shine
Even if romance ran out of rhyme
You would still have my heart
Until the end of time
You're all I need,
My love, my valentine

All of my life
I have been waiting
for all you give to me
You've opened my eyes
And shown me how to love unselfishly

I've dreamed of this
a thousand times before
But in my dreams
I couldn't love you more

I will give you my heart
Until the end of time
You're all I need,
My love, my valentine

Austin's Hot

A bunch of our bloggerati will be in Austin for the SXSW event this weekend. I know David Weinberger's winging his way there. And here's Dan Gillmor on the subject. Have a terrific time. Dan mentions a Bruce Sterling party -- oh Jesus! Bruce Sterling is so much fun, so smart and such a good writer and speaker -- that will be one helluva party.

The World of Ends

Here's the text of The World of Ends. David and Doc said I can copy this. In case the link goes dead again because of monster traffic like yesterday, here's the whole document. . Chances are all the traffic will be manageable today. But I thought that yesterday and, that sure was NOT the case.

The World of Ends

What the Internet Is and
How to Stop Mistaking It
for Something Else.

Doc Searls and
David Weinberger

Last update: 3.7.03

There are mistakes and there are mistakes.

Some mistakes we learn from. For example: Thinking that selling toys for pets on the Web is a great way to get rich. We're not going to do that again.

Other mistakes we insist on making over and over. For example, thinking that:

...the Web, like television, is a way to hold eyeballs still while advertisers spray them with messages.
...the Net is something that telcos and cable companies should filter, control and otherwise "improve."
... it's a bad thing for users to communicate between different kinds of instant messaging systems on the Net.
...the Net suffers from a lack of regulation to protect industries that feel threatened by it.
When it comes to the Net, a lot of us suffer from Repetitive Mistake Syndrome. This is especially true for magazine and newspaper publishing, broadcasting, cable television, the record industry, the movie industry, and the telephone industry, to name just six.

Thanks to the enormous influence of those industries in Washington, Repetitive Mistake Syndrome also afflicts lawmakers, regulators and even the courts. Last year Internet radio, a promising new industry that threatened to give listeners choices far exceeding anything on the increasingly variety-less (and technologically stone-age) AM and FM bands, was shot in its cradle. Guns, ammo and the occasional "Yee-Haw!" were provided by the recording industry and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which embodies all the fears felt by Hollywood's alpha dinosaurs when they lobbied the Act through Congress in 1998.

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it," John Gilmore famously said. And it's true. In the long run, Internet radio will succeed. Instant messaging systems will interoperate. Dumb companies will get smart or die. Stupid laws will be killed or replaced. But then, as John Maynard Keynes also famously said, "In the long run, we're all dead."

We'd like to avoid the wait.

All we need to do is pay attention to what the Internet really is. It's not hard. The Net isn't rocket science. It isn't even 6th grade science fair, when you get right down to it. We can end the tragedy of Repetitive Mistake Syndrome in our lifetimes — and save a few trillion dollars’ worth of dumb decisions — if we can just remember one simple fact: the Net is a world of ends. You're at one end, and everybody and everything else are at the other ends.

Sure, that’s a feel-good statement about everyone having value on the Net, etc. But it’s also the basic rock-solid fact about the Net's technical architecture. And the Internet’s value is founded in its technical architecture.

Fortunately, the true nature of Internet isn’t hard to understand. In fact, just a fistful of statements stands between Repetitive Mistake Syndrome and Enlightenment…

The Nutshell

1. The Internet isn't complicated
2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already

1. The Internet isn't complicated.

The idea behind the Internet in the first place was to harness the awesome power of simplicity — as simple as gravity in the real world. Except instead of holding little rocks tight against the big round rock, the Internet was designed to hold smaller networks together, turning them into one big network.

The way to do that is to make it easy easy easy for the networks to send and receive data from one another. Thus, the Internet was designed to be the simplest conceivable way to get bits from any A to any B.

2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.

When we look at utility poles, we see networks as wires. And we see those wires as parts of systems: The phone system, the electric power system, the cable TV system.

When we listen to radio or watch TV, we're told during every break that networks are sources of programming being beamed through the air or through cables.

But the Internet is different. It isn't wiring. It isn't a system. And it isn't a source of programming.

The Internet is a way for all the things that call themselves networks to coexist and work together. It's an inter-network. Literally.

What makes the Net inter is the fact that it's just a protocol — the Internet Protocol, to be exact. A protocol is an agreement about how things work together.

This protocol doesn’t specify what people can do with the network, what they can build on its edges, what they can say, who gets to talk. The protocol simply says: If you want to swap bits with others, here’s how. If you want to put a computer – or a cell phone or a refrigerator – on the network, you have to agree to the agreement that is the Internet.

3. The Internet is stupid.

The telephone system, which is not the Internet (at least not yet), is damn smart. It knows who's calling whom, where they're located, whether it's a voice or data call, how far the call reaches, how much the call costs, etc. And it provides services that only a phone network cares about: call waiting, caller ID, *69 and lots of other stuff that phone companies like to sell.

The Internet, on the other hand, is stupid.1 On purpose. Its designers made sure the biggest, most inclusive network of them all was dumb as a box of rocks.

The Internet doesn’t know lots of things a smart network like the phone system knows: Identities, permissions, priorities, etc. The Internet only knows one thing: this bunch of bits needs to move from one end of the Net to another.

There are technical reasons why stupidity is a good design. Stupid is sturdy. If a router fails, packets route around it, meaning that the Net stays up. Thanks to its stupidity, the Net welcomes new devices and people, so it grows quickly and in all directions. It's also easy for architects to incorporate Net access into all kinds of smart devices — camcorders, telephones, sprinkler systems — that live at the Net's ends.

That's because the most important reason Stupid is Good has less to do with technology and everything to do with value...

4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.

Sounds screwy, but it's true. If you optimize a network for one type of application, you de-optimize it for others. For example, if you let the network give priority to voice or video data on the grounds that they need to arrive faster, you are telling other applications that they will have to wait. And as soon as you do that, you have turned the Net from something simple for everybody into something complicated for just one purpose. It isn't the Internet anymore.

5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.

If the Internet were a smart network, its designers would have anticipated the importance of a good search engine and would have built searching into the network itself. But because its designers were smart, they made the Net too stupid for that. So searching is a service that can be built at one of the million ends of the Internet. Because people can offer any services they want from their end, search engines have competed, which means choice for users and astounding innovation.

Search engines are just an example. Because all the Internet does is throw bits from one end to another, innovators can build whatever they can imagine, counting on the Internet to move data for them. You don’t have to get permission from the Internet’s owner or systems administrator or the Vice President of Service Prioritization. You have an idea? Do it. And every time you do, the value of the Internet goes up.

The Internet has created a free market for innovation. That’s the key to the Internet's value. By the same token...

6. Money moves to the suburbs.

If all of the Internet’s value is at its edges, Internet connectivity itself wants to become a commodity. It should be allowed to do so.

There’s good business in providing commodities, but every attempt to add value to the Internet itself must be resisted. To be specific: Those who provide Internet connectivity inevitably will want to provide content and services also because the connectivity itself will be too low-priced. By keeping the two functions separate, we will enable the market to set prices that will maximize access and to maximize content/service innovation.2

7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.

When Craig Burton describes the Net's stupid architecture as a hollow sphere comprised entirely of ends3, he’s painting a picture that gets at what’s most remarkable about the Internet’s architecture: Take the value out of the center and you enable an insane flowering of value among the connected end points. Because, of course, when every end is connected, each to each and each to all, the ends aren’t endpoints at all.

And what do we ends do? Anything that can be done by anyone who wants to move bits around.

Notice the pride in our voice when we say “anything” and “anyone”? That comes directly from the Internet’s simple, stupid technical architecture.

Because the Internet is an agreement, it doesn’t belong to any one person or group. Not the incumbent companies that provide the backbone. Not the ISPs that provide our connections. Not the hosting companies that rent us servers. Not the industry associations that believe their existence is threatened by what the rest of us do on the Net. Not any government, no matter how sincerely it believes that it's just trying to keep its people secure and complacent.

To connect to the Internet is to agree to grow value on its edges. And then something really interesting happens. We are all connected equally. Distance doesn’t matter. The obstacles fall away and for the first time the human need to connect can be realized without artificial barriers.

The Internet gives us the means to become a world of ends for the first time.

8. The Internet’s three virtues

So, those are the facts about the Internet. See, we told you they were simple.

But what do they mean for our behavior … and more importantly, the behavior of the mega-corps and governments that until now have acted as if the Internet were theirs?

Here are three basic rules of behavior that are tied directly to the factual nature of the Internet:

No one owns it.
Everyone can use it.
Anyone can improve it.

Let's look a little more closely at each...

8.a Nobody owns it

It can't be owned, even by the companies whose "pipes" it passes through, because it is an agreement, not a thing. The Internet not only is in the public domain, it is a public domain.

And that’s a good thing:

The Internet is a reliable resource. We can build businesses without having to worry that Internet, Inc. is going to force us to upgrade, double its price once we have bought in, or get taken over by one of our competitors.
We don't have to worry that some parts of it are going to work with one provider and others will work with some other provider, like we have with the cell phone business in the U. S. today.
We don't have to worry that its basic functions are only going to work with Microsoft's, Apple's or AOL's "platform" — because it sits beneath all of them, outside their proprietary control.
Maintaining the Internet is distributed among all users, not concentrated in the hands of a provider that might go out of business, and all of us are a more resilient resource than any centralized group of us could be.

8.b Everyone can use it

The Internet was built to include everyone on the planet.

True, only a tenth of the world – a mere 600,000,000+ people – currently connects to the Internet. So "can" in the phrase "Everybody can use it" is subject to the miserable inequities of fortune. But, if you're lucky enough to possess sufficient material wealth for a connection and a connective device, the network itself imposes no obstacles to participation. You don't need a system administrator to deign to let you participate. The Internet purposefully leaves permissions out of the system.

That's also why the Internet feels to so many of us like a natural resource. We have flocked to it as if it were a part of human nature just waiting to happen — just as speaking and writing now feel like a part of what it means to be human.

8.c Anybody can improve it

Anyone can make the Internet a better place to live, work and raise up kids. It takes a real blockhead with a will of iron to make it worse.

There are two ways to make it better. First, you can build a service on the edge of the Net that’s available to anyone who wants. Make it free, make people pay for it, put out a tin cup, whatever.

Second, you can do something more important: enable a whole new set of end-of-Net services by coming up with a new agreement. That’s how email was created. And newsgroups. And even the Web. The creators of these services didn’t simply come up with end-based applications, and they sure didn’t tinker with the Internet protocol itself. Instead, they came up with new protocols that use the Internet as it exists, the way the agreement about how to encode images on paper enabled fax machines to use telephone lines without requiring any changes to the phone system itself.

Remember, though, that if you come up with a new agreement, for it to generate value as quickly as the Internet itself did, it needs to be open, unowned, and for everyone. That’s exactly why Instant Messaging has failed to achieve its potential: The leading IM systems of today — AOL's AIM and ICQ and Microsoft's MSN Messenger — are private territories that may run on the Net, but they are not part of the Net. When AOL and Microsoft decide they should run their IM systems using a stupid protocol that nobody owns and everybody can use, they will have improved the Net enormously. Until then, they're just being stupid, and not in the good sense.

9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?

Could it be because the three Internet virtues are the antithesis of how governments and businesses view the world?

Nobody owns it: Businesses are defined by what they own, as governments are defined by what they control.

Everybody can use it: In business, selling goods means transferring exclusive rights of use from the vendor to the buyer; in government, making laws means imposing restrictions on people.

Anybody can improve it: Business and government cherish authorized roles. It's the job of only certain people to do certain things, to make the right changes.

Business and government by their natures are predisposed to misunderstand the Internet's nature.

There's another reason the Internet hasn't done a great job explaining itself: The Big Money would prefer to keep telling us the Net is just slow TV.

The Internet has been too much like that other Walt who wrote in "Song of Myself": I do not trouble myself to be understood. I see that the elementary laws never apologize.

On the other hand, the Internet’s elementary laws never figured people would build careers on not understanding them.

10. Some mistakes we can stop making already.

The companies whose value came from distributing content in ways the market no longer wants – can you hear us Recording Industry? – can stop thinking that bits are like really lightweight atoms. You are never going to prevent us from copying the bits we want. Instead, why not give us some reasons to prefer buying music from you? Hell, we might even help you sell your stuff if you asked us to.

The government types who have confused the value of the Internet with the value of its contents could realize that in tinkering with the Internet's core, they're actually driving down its value. In fact, they maybe could see that having a system that transports all bits equally, without government or industry censorship, is the single most powerful force for democracy and open markets in history.

The incumbent providers of networking services — Hint: It begins with "tele" and ends with "com" — could accept that the stupid network is going to swallow their smart network. They could bite the bullet now rather than running up hundreds of billions of dollars in costs delaying and fighting the inevitable.

The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet.

Those who would censor ideas might realize that the Internet couldn't tell a good bit from a bad bit if it bit it on its naughty bits. Whatever censorship is going to occur will have to occur on the Net's ends – and it's not going to work very well.

Perhaps companies that think they can force us to listen to their messages — their banners, their interruptive graphic crawls over the pages we're trying to read — will realize that our ability to flit from site to site is built into the Web’s architecture. They might as well just put up banners that say "Hi! We don't understand the Internet. Oh, and, by the way, we hate you."

Enough already. Let's stop banging our heads against the facts of the Internet life.

We have nothing to lose but our stupidity.

1. See End-to-End Arguments in System Design (J.H. Saltzer, D.P. Reed and D.D. Clark. Also see David Isenberg's Rise of the Stupid Network.
2. See The Paradox of the Best Network by Isenberg and Weinberger
3. Doc's interview with Craig Burton.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Don't Miss It -- World of Ends

David and Doc have been cluetraining around again, I think. If you haven't read this new document ... YOU BETTER. Here's a tasty slice from the end, but do take the time to read the whole thing.
Perhaps companies that think they can force us to listen to their messages — their banners, their interruptive graphic crawls over the pages we're trying to read — will realize that our ability to flit from site to site is built into the Web’s architecture. They might as well just put up banners that say "Hi! We don't understand the Internet. Oh, and, by the way, we hate you."


There's just not much bad you can say about Friday. I remember my mom would make beef stew and homemade whole wheat bread for us on Friday winter afternoons after ballet class and it made Friday so much fun.

You can feel people start to slow down and get a little more playful, a little more hopeful, a little more relaxed by Friday afternoon at work. Then there are Friday afternoons in the summer, especially in Boston, there's a mass exodus to the Cape. It just cheers everyone up. If someone does something stupid to you or crosses you on Monday at work, you might feel like taking them out with a swift uppercut. On Friday, well, what the heck, they didn't mean anything by it, right?

Friday you can do totally stupid stuff and still have two days to recover -- like drink way too much and dance way too much or stay up all night. Friday is forgiving. Friday if fun. Friday starts with "F" and I know a lot of things that are great that start with "F"











Fast Food



Frogs' Legs




Fat Cat

Fly Boy










French Fries




Forever ...

Thursday, March 06, 2003

McBride is Hot

I forgot how much I like Martina McBride. She actually reminds me of Bruce Springsteen in some ways -- a kickass band -- a wonderful ballad singer -- lots of the songs are great narratives. I am loving this song -- not a new one but a great one.

I Love You

The sun is shinin’ everyday
Clouds never get in the way for you and me
I’ve known you just a week or two
But baby I’m so into you
Can hardly breathe

Chorus 1:
And I’m in so totally
Wrapped up emotionally
Attracted so physically
Actin’ so recklessly
I need you so desperately
Sure as the sky is blue
Baby, I love you, I love you

I never knew that I could feel like this
Can hardly wait till our next kiss
You’re so cool
If I’m dreaming please don’t wake me up
Cause baby I can’t get enough
Of what you do

Chorus 2:
And I’m in so electrically
Charged up kinetically
Actin’ erratically
Need you fanatically
You get to me magically
Sure as the sky is blue
Baby, I love you

I can’t believe that this is real,
the way I feel
Baby I’m gone head over heals

And I’m in so totally
Wrapped up emotionally
Attracted so physically
Actin’ so recklessly
I need you so desperately
Sure as the sky is blue

And I’m in so electrically
Charged up kinetically
Actin’ eratically
Need you fanatically
You get to me magically
Sure as the sky is blue

Baby, I love you
Baby, I love you
Do you love me too
Baby, I love you

Oh No, SNOW!

Doesn't seem possible -- yikes! Ugh! Please, say it ain't so! We're in the middle of a big storm again. Oh no, no more snow!

Donner Party of Seven, Your Table Is Ready

Doc is up to his usual insanely funny stuff over at his blog. The Donner Party, a group of pioneers caught at Donner Pass in horrific winter storms, tells the story of how they nearly starved to death, until they resorted to human cannibalism. It seems from everyone I ever knew who grew up in California, that this was only interesting story they ever learned in mandatory California History class. Rather like getting stuck in a class on The Complete Works of John Milton and finding they gave you a Stephen King novel to read all of a sudden. Whoa!

Don't miss Doc's suggestion -- talk about reality tv! Get your TV dinners heated up and settle in for a delicious night of viewing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Got To Get You Into My Life

I was alone, I took a ride
I didn't know what I would find, there
Another road, where may be I ?
Could see another kind of mind, there

Oh, And I suddenly see you
Oh, Did I tell you I need you ?
Every single day of my life ?

You didn't run, you didn't lie
You knew I wanted just to hold you
And had you gone, you knew in time
We'd meet again for I had told you

Oh, you were meant to be near me
Oh, and I want you to hear me
Say we'll be together every day
Got to get you into my life

What can I do, what can I be ?
When I'm with you I want to stay, there
If I am true, I'll never leave
And If I do, I know the way, there

Oh, and I suddenly see you
Oh, did I tell you I need you
Every single day of my life
Got to get you into my life.
Got to get you into my life .


When I don't blog, people really check up on me. So thanks for checking up on me, but here's my day yesterday. I go outside and it's something frightening like 12 degrees and the day before it had been warm enough to rain, so now there are big pools of solid ice all over and it's disheartening to say the least.

We'd spent Sunday feeling like Spring might be around the corner and at church, talking about Lent and thinking about Ash Wednesday and also singing "Heaven Hop" from the 1930's tapdancing musical "Anything Goes", but that's another story. (A friend in choir is trying to get me to join and was tempting me by saying we could do "Gabriel" and "Heaven Hop" from that show ... I think she was kidding.) Also I served communion and overfilled the wine glasses, a number of people mentioned that to me after the service, but net net, the day felt hopeful and spring-like and I was feeling good. And Bob Beckwith said the kindest thing to me and I could have kissed him. He looked handsome as hell in those terrific preppy Nantucket red khaki trousers on and a nice navy blue jacket. All of it was making me feel like New England could come out from under this nuclear winter.

So then Monday morning -- like the goddamned day you have to get up and go back to work, that "Monday" -- I go out and it's so freezing, it looks like a tacky movie set for some B movie about another planet called "Ice 51". And on top of it ...

I try to open the car door and it's FROZEN SOLID.

And I mean, FROZEN SHUT like they've used crazy glue to seal it. And is it too much to ask on a day when you'd much rather stay in bed and you've made all the requisite effort to get to work -- you've washed your face, you've given your kid a snack for school, you've even checked your email before leaving the house, you're wearing something you actually bothered to pay money to have drycleaned -- is it too much to ask that you might be able to OPEN THE GODDAMNED DOOR TO YOUR GODDAMNED CAR?

And how about the other doors ... now you're thinking "I really don't want to get in the back door and crawl into the front, but I will if I must."

So you go around to the other doors and THEY ARE ALL FROZEN SHUT.

And you can't even warm the car up, because you can't get IN the car. It's rough. It's just rough. I mean as a friend said the other day, that first snow storm was lovely, the second was quaint, but the last 53 I can do without.

I wonder if we're going to have some weird mass New England-ish hallucination and when it gets warm we'll all be so psychologically impaired we'll refuse to take off our winter coats -- like bag ladies and bag men on the boulevard, wandering aimlessly with heavy wool coats and sheepskin sherpa hats on, the ones with the ear flaps. Maybe we'll all lose it and never come back from this winter.

I'd like to end the story with panache and visual drama, by saying I just trotted back in my house on my high heels -- not designed for ice navigation, btw, got my acetylene torch and welding helmet and melted a hole in the door with blue and gold fire, but actually, I used a ballpoint pen to pry the door open, only needed another 20 minutes to warm up the car, and finally got to work.

So on the off chance that Blogger was iced over and I couldn't get in the logon screen because it was covered with a sheet of insidious ice, I did not attempt blogging yesterday. I just could not stand the potential disappointment.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

First Episode At Hienton

I was one
as you were one
And we were two
so much in love forever
I loved the white socks that you wore
But you don't wear white socks no more,
now you're a woman.

And the candle burned low as we talked of the future
Underneath the ceiling
There were tears in the sky
And the clouds in your eyes were just cover
For your thighs were the cushions
Of my love and yours for each other

-- Bernie Taupin / Elton John

Ask Me Why

More Beatles. Just can't get enough. This is an old one, but a good one. Here's the Beatles' Lyrics test too.
Ask me why Beatles

I love you, ‘cause you tell me things I want to know.
And it’s true that it really only goes to show,
That I know,
That I, I, I, I should never, never, never be blue.

Now you’re mine, my happiness still makes me cry.
And in time, you’ll understand the reason why,
If I cry,
It’s not because I’m sad, but you’re the only love that I’ve ever had.

I can’t believe it’s happened to me
I can’t conceive of any more misery.

Ask me why, I’ll say I love you,
And I’m always thinking of you.

I love you, ‘cause you tell me things I want to know.
And it’s true that it really only goes to show,
That I know,
That I, I, I, I should never, never, never be blue.

Ask me why, I’ll say I love you,
And I’m always thinking of you.

I can’t believe it’s happened to me.
I can’t conceive of any more misery.

Ask me why, I’ll say I love you,
And I’m always thinking of you.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Is A Blog A Start-up?

I was thinking about how many people who were involved in start-ups and dot coms are bloggers. I know there's no big surprise there as the technology under many of the dot com start-ups was the same network technology that spawned blogs, but I wonder if there is more going on there. For instance, I feel like a blog is a perfect medium for trying out new things and failing and trying again. That's what the spirit of 1990 - 2000 was in start-ups. A blog is a slate and chalk -- a drawing board for innovation. A wonderfully forgiving, fluid, networked place to think and collaborate with colleagues. Is it any surprise so many entrepreneurs and entrepreneuses are using this interface to create new ways of working and thinking and sharing information?