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If you're reading this, I'm thankful for your presence in my life.

And [livejournal.com profile] sylvan? I love you, too.
karlht: (Default)
With deepest thanks to our veterans

R. Scott Collins
Timothy Collins
Cheryl Collins Near
Thomas Chase
Mark Chase
John Hampson

Richard Hall
Theodore Ellis
Robert S. Toland

James Macdonald
Terry Karney
Bruce Cohen
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga

Thank you for your service, and for your continuing commitment to making the world a better place.
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The euphoria at feeling like we've finally gotten out from under the oppression of the last eight years of being ashamed of ourselves and our country. The outrage in the midst of that victory, that so-called 'Christians' could spend millions of dollars to 'protect' their institutions by denying recognition to a whole segment of society. My first physical exam in over a decade, and the growing realisation that not only am I not immortal, I have entered into middle age.

This has been what I used to euphemistically call 'an experientially-dense week.'

I have kept my head down for the past year and change for many reasons -- my creative energy has been at a low ebb, I have been wary of speaking out politically in a society that seems obsessed with wiretapping and privacy invasion, and I have felt that I didn't have much to add to a world in which every dingbat with an opinion has a blog. I'm also wrestling with the question of how much of my writing/data to keep on other people's servers (my mail has lived on Google's servers for over a year now, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that), and how much time I have to devote to my own personal computing infrastructure. Being my own sysadmin used to be fun; now it feels entirely too much like work.

There's also some perfectionism involved -- I didn't want to clutter my livejournal with memes and LOLcats and 'trivia,' but I'm beginning to realise that writing for livejournal is a very, very different thing from writing for publication, even when it's self-publication. It seemed obvious to me at one time that there are some things I write that should be hosted on my own hardware, and some that belonged out where my friends could see it easily, and I think I had some vain hope that RSS/Atom aggregation was going to save the day. But re-inventing infrastructure is so very 1990. And perhaps most important of all, it doesn't matter what you're using to publish if there isn't any content.

So I am punting the infrastructure question by the simple expedient of copy-and-paste, and folks who read me on LJ can comment there, and folks who have subscribed to Dragons and Elegance can comment there, and we'll take it as it comes. Because, after all, if I'm the only one reading this stuff, it makes no difference whatsoever. But if you have an opinion, please, share it and be welcome.

Every period of writing activity starts with a single post. This one may not be polished, or even particularly coherent, but it means I showed up to the page. Or at least to the Emacs buffer.

Be excellent and loving to one another, my friends. We've got a lot of work in front of us, but we don't have to do it alone.

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... since Riverbend has posted.

Does anyone on my flist know if she's all right? Or at least still alive?

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... I think I can safely say that I have read the most beautiful use of rhetoric that we will see in this presidential campaign, and possibly the best use of political oratory this decade.

If you only read one political speech in this interminable presidential campaign, please, please, read this one. )

Hat tip to Mark Kleiman.
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[livejournal.com profile] charlotte_buff asked:

1. What are three of your favorite things about where you live?

2. What's worse - 2 full weeks of constant crowds and people talking to you nonstop or 2 full years of absolutely no interaction with another person.

3. I can't believe that I don't know this about you but... do you have any pets? If so, describe them to me. If not, why?

4. Do you remember the first book that you bought with your own money? What was the title and why did you choose it?

5. When was the last time that you laughed so hard your sides hurt?

And I answered ... )
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1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. Update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

[livejournal.com profile] arliss asked me:

1. You suddenly acquire an income more than adequate to meet your needs. Liberated from the need to earn a living, what profession or avocation do you pursue?

2. You spent part of your childhood in the south. What makes you nostalgic? What are you glad you escaped?

3. You're having a celebration. How large a party is it, and who do you invite? Do you include people from work and the neighborhood and the grocer from the corner store? I don't need a guest list, just an idea of how large or small your celebration would be.

4. If you could change one national government policy, what would it be?

5. One week with unlimited funds; what do you do?

And I answered:

1. The answer to this one terrifies me with how easily it slipped into my mind: I start a church. I turn no one away: no denominational requirements. I invite pastors, priests, rabbis, imams, bodhisattvas, anyone who will help. And we preach love, forgiveness, love, resistance to evil, love, mindfulness, love, tolerance, and a bit more love. Until they came to take us away.

2. What makes me nostalgic: The sounds of thunder in the summertime (rare out here, but much more common there). The sound of a young black waitress asking an older white man in a wheelchair, "What can I get you, baby?" (I do not know whether they were previously acquainted -- I've been away too long to differentiate the 'baby' one uses with strangers from the one used with friends and family.) Talking to you; hearing the softness of those North Carolina vowels, coupled with the natural warmth of your voice. The sight of fireflies, so common in the east Tennessee summers, unheard of in my portion of California.

What I'm glad I escaped: The almost-ritualised homophobia, and the air of casual menace that Southern males project towards people they see as interlopers. The deep mistrust of intellectual pursuits, although there's quite a bit of that out here in supposedly-enlightened California as well. The 95F/95% humidity summers. The American exceptionalism, the feeling that somehow the landed white males are superior to everyone else by God's grace.

3. The door is open, and all are welcome. But I've only invited about a dozen people. If the grocer happens by, we'll greet her from the porch and invite her and her kids in for a bite. I live in a household of five, so we can switch off the hosting duties -- I can go hide in the back room as it's necessary, without fear that people will feel unwelcomed.

4. Universal health care. Right bloody now. Emphatically including medical and psychiatric care for the veterans and victims of this clusterfuck of a war. As important as it is to end the war, and as much as I'd like to do it, this trumps it by a long way.

5. Unlimited? Pay off a staggering number of bills. Contribute another staggering amount to the bank accounts of various charities and associates (friends in the fannish community, Buffistas, etc.) anonymously if possible. Rent a truly silly minivan and drive my entire household and their mates up to Harbin Hot Springs and laze around for a week. Wire money to any of my far-flung family-by-choice (Buffistas and otherwise) who want to join us. Give my mother enough money that she can retire comfortably.

Go nuts, y'all.
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Why I don't code in Java:

         String hp = isa.getHostName() + ":" + isa.getPort();
         String s = "service:jmx:rim://" + hp + "/jndi/rmi://" + hp + "/jmxrmi";
         JMXServiceURL url = new JMXServiceURL(s);
         String login = getJMXUsername(isa);
         String password = getJMXPassword(isa);
         Map<String,Object> env = new HashMap<String,Object>(1);
         String[] creds = new String[] { login, password };
         env.put(JMXConnector.CREDENTIALS, creds);
         JMXConnector jmxc = JMXConnectorFactory.connect(url, env);

         // jmxc = new RMIJMXConnector(host, port, login, password); /* sigh */

(No, it's not my code. But I will have to test it, eventually. And I really feel for the fellow who has to write this stuff.)
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(Had my first experience with LJ eating posts earlier. Bleah. And as always, I'm convinced that post was more articulate and sense-making than this one will be.)

Briefly, I've been a bit of a hermit lately. If I owe you correpondence of some sort, typed or otherwise, I apologise. I'm moving around in a bit of a fog, and I don't have much idea of when it will lift.

I'm information-grazing, which is a good thing except when it isn't. Everyone has their ideal balance between reading and writing; mine has been tilted way over to the "reading" end of the scale for months now. I've been trying my best to "show up to the page," but it feels like I've spent weeks staring at empty editor buffers and browser text boxes. Coding isn't any easier than writing prose; my brain just seems sluggish in general.

About the state of the world, I have only two things to say: Canada is looking more like the U.S. every day, and not in a good way. And Venezuela, for which I had such high hopes, is showing distinct signs of authoritarianism. We get entirely enough of that tendency here in the land of the nominally free; if Mr Chavez is determined to be an alternative to American-hegemony-as-usual, couldn't he find a better way to show the contrast than by vigourously suppressing dissenting views? People will start to think that politicians everywhere are just out to keep power for as long as they can, and that way lies complacency and ruin.

About computers, software, and their ilk: Do I stick with the old tools (Tcl, Expect, OpenACS, text-only Web browsing, awk, sed, Emacs, C when absolutely necessary for speed, Lisp when dealing with large systems) because my brain is old and calcified, or because the new tools (Ruby, Rails, Python, Twisted, Zope, C++ as a 'system language,' ubiquitous JavaScript, and the behemoths: Java and Eclipse) are all part of the endless recapitulation of an industry that feels compelled to re-invent itself every decade at the very least? Every time I learn a new language, it feels like I'm going over and over the same old already-solved problems.

About people and relationships: Why is it that so many people seem to think that the surest way to make themselves feel better is to make someone else feel worse? I've been pondering that one for at least thirty years, and I'm quite sure I'm no closer to an answer.

If you're reading this, the odds are good that I love you. Please be so good as to treat yourself accordingly.
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I can't begin to thank you enough for the comments on the last entry. I've been feeling a little self-conscious, a little unseen and unheard, a little hermity.

Reading kind words from people I care about is truly a wondrous thing. Thank you so much.
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As seen in a couple places on my FL:

We all have things about our friends that make us slightly envious.

Not in a bad way, but in a 'Wow! I wish I had that person's hair/eyes/money/relationship/toenails/whatever.'

So tell me what about me makes you envy me. . . then if you feel like it, post this in your LJ and see what makes me envious of you.
karlht: (Default)
I was given T by [livejournal.com profile] cindywrites. Thus, in alphabetical order:

Talmud: Thank you to the old Hebrews for realising that it's important for interpretation to evolve while parts of the text stay fixed.

tenderness: One form of the principle by which I try to live my life: Don't be mean. Pretend that other people are just as vulnerable in their soft spots as you are.

throat: My uvula is swollen this morning, and it's a spooky feeling, like I'm going to choke on part of my own body. Truly weird and discomfiting.

toenails: As much as Bull Durham is filled with cliches, the toenail-painting scene is a wonderful and mischievous look at sensual love and gratification delayed and redirected.

together: I fear that our society is going to have to rediscover what the word 'solidarity' means, before we can make any more progress.

touch: So important, so twisted by people who want to turn it all into sex or all into sin. Comfort and safety.

travel: I'm getting to be too old to tour Europe for a month with nothing but a backpack. But I still want to do it.

treasure: Too much of the noun, not enough of the verb.

Turkey: o/~ Istanbul, was Constantinople, now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople ... o/~

turtle: Sometimes I want to pull my head in and just wait until it's all over. But turtles also always remind me of [livejournal.com profile] alterjess, and joy from unexpected places.
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I never knew how he did it. Maybe just his manner: all the good bits of Southern gentility, without the racism or pomposity. There were always at least four girls sitting with him at lunch, loudly razzing him, vying for his attention, or just soaking up his kindness. He didn't date much that year -- his sweetheart was a year older, already at college. But oh, how they loved him. And for one sweet, blessed year, I sat with them, trying like hell not to make a fool of myself as I learned what it was to be a gentleman.
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Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] jmhm in this post: When you see this, post an anti-war song in your journal.

Save The Country
(words and music by Laura Nyro, as performed by The 5th Dimension)

Come on, people! Come on, children!
Come on down to the glory river.
Gonna wash you up, and wash you down.
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down.
Come on, people! Come on, children!
There's a king at the glory river.
And the precious king, he loved the people to sing;
Babes in the blinkin' sun
Sang We Shall Overcome.
I got fury in my soul,
Fury's gonna take me to the glory goal.
In my mind I can't study war no more.
Save the people!
Save the children!
Save the country, save the country ...

Come on, people! Come on, children!
Come on down to the glory river.
Gonna wash you up and wash you down.
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down.
Come on people! Sons and mothers!
Keep the dream of the two young brothers.
Take that dream, and ride that dove.
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love, I know,
We could build the dream with love ...
I got fury in my soul,
Fury's gonna take me to the glory goal.
In my mind I can't study war no more.
Save the people!
Save the children!
Save the country, save the country, save the country ...
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Yesterday, I sent Jon Carroll a fan letter about his column.

Today, I got a very short and sweet response thanking me for my note. Very definitely not a form letter. How cool is that?

Radical thought for the day: If feminism is the radical notion that women are people, then one could make a case that humanism is the equally radical notion that all humans are people, regardless of place or time of birth, upbringing, gender, creed, colour, or any of those other pesky distinctions that we seem to like to use to divide ourselves against one another.

So, I invite you, go forth with a twinkle in your eye and a song in your heart, and watch the folks who have nothing better to do than pick our pockets and spy in our bedrooms wonder what the heck we're up to.

Subversive in its simplicity, I tell you. Because really, rolling over for them hasn't done us a lick of good.
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Jon Carroll knocks one out of the park today:

The reality is the mirror image of the stereotype. The real keepers of the American flame, the real practitioners of daily love and a life of the spirit, are gay and lesbian parents. They are, gosh darn it, what made this country great. Someone get a damn fife and drum.

The people who hate America are the members of American Family Association and its ideological fellow travelers. They're the ones who do not believe that all people are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They're the ones who believe that this country was founded on hate and fear; they're the ones who want the hate and fear to continue.

As the saying has it, read the whole thing.
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(Sung to the tune Ode to Joy, from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9)

Build the road of peace before us
Build it wide and deep and long.
Speed the slow, remind the eager
Help the weak and guide the strong.

None shall push aside another
None shall let another fall.
Join, join, sisters and brothers,
All for one and one for all.

(You know, singing this one out loud got Pete Seeger labelled a Communist in the McCarthy years. Then as now, Republicans get nervous when the riff-raff start singing about working together. Myself, I think the Republicans need to be a damned sight more nervous than they are currently.)
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Where is the love that will save us, now?
Be still and listen, for it beats within you.
Find a Muslim, a Jew, a young Christian and an old sceptic,
Take them by the hands and look deeply into their eyes.
Say the words: "You are my sister, my uncle, my grandma, my beloved.
You wear the face of the angels, of all that is good in the world."
And dare in your heart to make it true.
"What is love?" you ask me, and I have but one answer:
"The only hope we have, and the gift we must not forget."
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Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia Butler, quoting from her novel Parable of the Sower on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman on 11 November 2005.

Thank you, Ms. Butler, for sharing your shining gift with us. I am perversely thankful that you won't have to see the nightmare of Parable come true. For we are surely led by cowards, fools, thieves, and tyrants.

June 2015

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