Monday, July 31, 2006

Why did Bush address the NAACP this month?

Cartoonist Drew Sheneman has the answer to that question in his cartoon that I see today in Raleigh's News & Observer, in which he has Bush saying:
The Republican Party has written off the African-American vote for too long, and now that white people don't like us, it's time for that to change.
Mr. Sheneman's drawing admirably captures Bush's stolidly dumb demeanor.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Rove takes shot at the media"

That's the headline that the News & Observer in Raleigh puts on an AP story today that quotes Karl Rove's charge that journalists and columnists "want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their coverage has played [in] focusing attention on process and not substance."

This self-styled "political professional" (taught at Lee Atwater's knee, right along with George W. Bush) has long been an expert in the Stalinist art of the big lie. While it is true that the media at large generally avoid substance in favor of the more marketable "process" of political punch and counterpunch, they haven't paid nearly enough attention to the process by which the Busheviks stole the 2000 election in Florida and the 2004 election in Ohio. Rove's big lie is to imply not only that the media have paid enough attention to that process, but that they've even "focused attention" on it.

Rove no doubt hopes that his jab in the media's face will keep it that way. It's worked before. He's a professional.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Blogspot of the Day

Media Needle Theater Presents...A photographic essay on George W. Bush.

Excerpt of the caption to one photo: "Insecurity, a lack of confidence, a feeling of inferiority...Why?"

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Today's Quote(s)

"The U.N. reported last week that in May and June no less [sic] than 5,818 Iraqi civilians were killed."

From "The Immutable President," by op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd in yesterday's New York Times [by subscription only, I'm sorry]

"In the past two weeks, more Iraqi civilians have been killed than have died in Lebanon and Israel.”

From "Battle for Baghdad Boils Down to Neighborhoods," by reporter Michael Gordon in yesterday's New York Times

"If a Democratic president had pursued exactly the same policies, and achieved exactly the same tragic results as George W. Bush, that president would have been the target of a ferocious drive for impeachment by the G.O.P."

From "Failure Upon Failure," by op-ed columnist Bob Herbert in today's New York Times [by subscription only, I'm sorry]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quote of the Day

"When the president trusts his guts, we should know by now what's about to hit the fan."

– Paul Waldman, from his article "Bush Gut Check" published today by TomPaine.com

nin•com•poop

Pronunciation Key (nnkm-pp, nng-m-pp)
n. A silly, foolish, or stupid person.

[Grateful acknowledgment to dictionary.com]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

California on My Mind

On reading a novel set in San Francisco—
All the talk of Golden Gate, Marina,
Presidio, the Park, Mission District,
Point Reyes, Muir Beach, Tamalpais,
The blue Pacific, the great gray whales
Serenely going south from their summer
Habitation down to Mexico—

I get California on my mind, my
Native home, my birthplace, the Valley
I’ve disparaged for its open expanses
Not so congenial as the close-in
Embracing Piedmont forest of Carolina

But a home once, a child’s habitat,
A teenager's world, and the ocean beaches,
Unreally beautiful as an artist’s canvas dreamworld

And I know, despite many years’ denial to
All who ask, that I miss California more
Than the forty-three minutes I last time
Claimed since I came to this place where
I write this poem and reminisce and, perhaps,
Really, for the first time since my
Gain of Carolina, feel my loss of California

Monday, July 24, 2006

I Knew Who He Was

It was December and the thin young man had no coat.
I tried to step around him, but he pushed into my path
and forced me to look him in the eyes.

"Do you have a dollar for me to get something to eat?"

It isn't easy to say no when they catch your eye.
Their eye is like your eye, a man's eye.
"I'm sorry, but no I don't have it."

"You don't have it?"
His voice and his eyes said he knew it wasn't true.

I turned and walked away from his disappointment,
away from his want,
whether of food as he said, or of drink, or of drugs.

But the man's eyes.

By the time I reached my car I realized who he was.
I knew whose asking I was walking away from.

As I left the parking lot I rolled down my window,
and he took the dollar.
Our eyes once again were the same eye.

And he was thinking,
I am you asking for the gift of grace,
and you are whoever of Whom you ask it.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Thanks be to God?

This morning I linked to an old friend's church website and read his most recent "letter from the pastor." It ended with the words, "The wisdom of God surrounds us. Thanks be to God!"

I share the belief that we are surrounded by and can participate in something we might call "God's wisdom," and I believe that gratitude (not taking good things for granted, but accounting them blessings) is a valuable attitude and makes a significant difference in the tone of a person's life.

But it seems to me that thanking GOD for things that make us glad implies reproaching God for things that make us mad...such as the fact that we have in our country today a pretend president who makes statements like
My desire [is] to promote institutional change in parts of the world like Iraq—where there is a free press and free religion—and I told [Russian President Vladimir Putin] that a lot of people in our country would hope Russia would do the same thing.

Bush's "good friend" Putin, into whose soul Bush imagines he can look, responded that he didn't think Russians would want to promote what's going on in Iraq. And more and more Americans are coming to agree with him.

While I am grateful for this, I don't thank God for it, anymore than I blame God that Bush supporters seem to vote for political leaders for much the same reason they select country club members: "What will this person do for me or my interests? Is this person 'one of us'?" (Thanks to a friend of fifty years, a high school classmate, for this formulation of Bush voter values.)

So, whether God has anything to do with Bush's dwindling support, or with the growing numbers who realize that the man's a nincompoop, I don't know. But I'm still grateful.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

You do not know what wish I treasure

What you’ve been told by learned friars
.     Is a lie, to chain up your thought.
But you invoke those jailing liars
.     To catch me up and have me brought

To your low bed for your own pleasure.
.     As for your wishing, “you and I,”
You do not know what wish I treasure:
.     That you would leave me now. Good-bye!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Chocolate

To eat my chocolate or not to eat her,
That is the question. Whether 'tis sweeter
.     To enjoy the ravishing thrill
.     Of moral victory of will
Than the palpable thrum of chocolate
On tongue and lips and teeth and palate.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

After William Blake

O girl, thou'd be wise
.   To fly away south,
Decline the smooth words
.   In his lying mouth.

He lusts for thy bed
.   Of crimson delight,
And his dark secret love
.   Would thy virtue blight.

[Grateful acknowledgment to William Blake for the inspiration afforded by his poem, "The Sick Rose"]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A.F. Flogger Refrocked [Bush is listening]

Yesterday I wrote a short article titled "A.F. Flogger Unfrocked" (now deleted) in which I thanked the friend who alerted me that he visited A.F. Flogger's site and found it wasn't political flogging that the man was promoting. (In case you missed it, I had, for a few days, displayed "aka flogger.com" on my masthead.)

An embarrassed A.F. Flogger wishes to make a statement:

Whoa! Hold on a minute. Flogger.com is not my website. I do not promote whipping or any other unspeakable sexual practices. The whole thing is a mistake. I mistyped the name of my registered domain when I first approached Moristotle about leaving blogger.com and coming with me. He simply passed along what I typed. I didn't notice it. You know how people tend to see what they think is there anyway.

Besides, I had told Moristotle that my website hadn't been launched yet. That's undoubtedly why he didn't check flogger.com out. My website name will be pflogger.com. "P" is for "political," of course. Or, I suppose it could stand for "‘president’" or "pissant," since the main object of my brand of political flogging is George W. Bush.

Speak of unspeakable practices, what's with that guy and his toady Alberto Gonzales (and others), the way they're treating detainees (not to mention how they're treating us)? Even got a University of California–Berkeley law professor says what they're doing at Gitmo is okay...[Moristotle intervened here to try to get Mr. Flogger to wrap it up].

Okay, okay. Just one final point, then: When you're talking on the phone, remember:









[A.F. Flogger gratefully acknowledges whoever designed this trenchant reminder.]

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Three Years Ago Today

[On July 18, 2003, using the then new White House e-mail system, I wrote to "President" Bush, choosing "Education" from a very limited list of topic choices and clicking "In support of." The following subject line was automatically generated by the system.]

Subject: Write a Supporting Comment on Education

Dear President Bush:

The subject is misleading. I chose the "Education" category because none of the categories provided fits my concern. Also, I don't know what "a supporting comment on education" is supposed to mean. Of course, I support "education." Do I support your policies? That's another question altogether.

Actually, what I support is the U.S. Constitution's provision for an executive branch of government. However, I do not approve of your being the head of that branch.

One of the many, many reasons that I disapprove of your holding the office of President of the United States is that you don't really care what my views, suggestions, and concerns might be, whatever assurance might be given by the second sentence on your new "user-friendly" website.

Another way of saying this is that you are not a democratic president (whether Democrat or Republican). Your way (and the way of the modern Republican Party) is the way of the juggernaut rather than the way of free and open debate.

I do not accept that you are legitimately the President of the United States. Your major opponent got more votes, and Florida's electoral votes should have been thrown out, whatever the ruling of the narrow majority on the United States Supreme Court.

I do not approve of your huge tax cuts. It amazes me that so many people (many of whom even vote) seem to believe your repeated (and repeated, "on message") assurances that such cuts are necessary to jump-start or stimulate the economy.

I did not approve of your ignoring the United Nations and concocting a highly misleading set of allegations to take us to war in Iraq.

I did not approve of your editing the EPA's recent environmental report to remove the parts that disagreed with your own contentions about global warming and related matters.

I do not approve of having a Texas National Guard lieutenant who went AWOL for over a year as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States.

I do not approve of your employing the dirty trickster Karl Rove (however much of a "genius" your "Turd Blossom" may be) to manipulate political discourse and smear opponents to get you into office. But I understand why you do it. Someone like you couldn't have gotten into office any other way. You probably couldn't have gotten into Yale either if your father and his father hadn't been Yalies. You give legacy admissions policies a bad name.

I do not approve of what I label your "Soviet style" of lying, where you simply say that you believe the exact opposite of what you really seem to believe. There are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of examples of this that I might cite if I had bothered to record them. But I have already cited one perfect example, the statement in the first paragraph of the introduction: "President Bush welcomes your views, suggestions, and concerns."

But you don't care what I think.

Sincerely,

[As a result of my "supporting comment on education," within two days I received a late-night telephone call from a Republican rundraising group. And, oh yes, a "signed" letter from Bush thanking me for my support of his education policies.]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Vote! You might win $1,000,000!

A.F. Flogger predicts that Arizona's voter lottery will provoke a Republican backlash.

Arizona proposes to give everyone who votes a lottery ticket for a $1,000,000 prize. Since lotteries appeal to poor people more than to rich ones, and poor people are less likely to vote Republican than rich ones, such a lottery will likely not be popular among the Busheviks.

Can't you see it now? Poor voters in Ohio hardly turned a hair at being disenfranchised. But what if they'd been prevented from getting a lottery ticket?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

"What [evening] bores we are..."

A couple of months ago I stepped on the scales at a doctor's office and was shocked to see, for the first time in my life that I was aware of, that I had reached 180 pounds. That unprecedented number ending in zero got my attention, somehow confirming that the difficulty I'd been having buttoning my pants and bending over to tie my shoestrings had a physiological basis.

I reported the new weight to my wife that evening. As usual she gave me some good advice, all the more attractive because of the indirect way she put it to me—in the form of an anecdote about the obese woman who lived down the street when she was a child. This woman's doctor told her that she really had to lose some weight, and the way to do it was very simple. "You don't have to give up any of the food you like. Just eat half as much."

As though startled by a flash of lightning, I instantly saw that what I needed to do was to stop eating "as much as possible [without making myself sick]" and begin eating "as little as possible." Today, less than two months after the eye-opening experience on the scales, I weigh about my ideal weight (163). I feel better, more supple, even occasionally lithe. And I don't even much want ice cream, cookies, cake, or pie (or a combination of the above) after dinner anymore. I don't even much want second helpings of anything. And I prefer the lean, hungry feeling of mental acuity to the stuffed, dull feeling of satiety. But I still tire early of an evening and frequently fall asleep while watching a taped episode of, say, "Mystery," which—even at nine o'clock—starts too late for either my wife or me to stay awake to watch the broadcast.

I reported this to an old friend, and he wrote:

"Boy, are you in good condition. I don't really try to lose the weight, and now stay around 193 to 185. Would like to be about 180 to 185. I also get exhausted in the early evening. What bores we are."

I wrote back:

"We may be bores in the evening, but we're hot at 6:30 a.m. (after we've been up for a while and our blood has started flowing again and our joints moving). I may be at my 'ideal weight,' but I'm not sure how good my condition is....Anyway, during the 'daylight hours,' when my blood IS flowing and my joints ARE moving, I usually do feel fairly alive and energetic."

As I (finally) do now...after feeling so sluggish upon first arising this morning that I doubted I could do today's post....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

And aren't you, citizen...? (a poem)

And aren't you, citizen, shook and thrown to ground
.   That Florida voters
.   And Ohio voters
Got dirty-tricked the last two times around?

And weren't you, citizen, angry, edgy, sick,
.   When Al Gore went along
.   And John Kerry went along
And didn't stand to fight the Busheviks?

And aren't you, citizen, raging, ready now
.   To take the White House back
.   And take the Congress back—
Steady and ready now to take your country back?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Some, they were beguiled...(a limerick)

Some, they were beguiled by his wanton lies,
His clumsy words shaped for political prize,
.     His Karl Rovian prose,
.     His "compassionate" pose,
His vision fit for his pissant poor eyes.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Bush Earned Trouble"

[That was the title under which the Raleigh News & Observer ran this my letter to the editor on November 13, 2005]

The Q question, “Why do second terms go wrong?” strikes me as fundamentally misleading. It presupposes that Bush's second term can be compared to other presidents' second terms. Not so. Bush's presidency was ill-fated from Day One.

First, his selection by the Supreme Court reeked of illegitimacy.

Second, his path to the White House was already strewn with the bodies of political opponents savaged according to the Karl Rove playbook (former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and Arizona Sen. John McCain), so that Bush was already set up, ethically, to be the victim of “what goes around comes around.”

Third, look at what has happened since Bush obtained the power of the presidency: the deception of Congress and the country into a tragic, unnecessary war in Iraq, the use of taxpayers' money to plant administration stooges as journalists, the holding up of Fox “News” (essentially a propaganda arm of the administration) as an objective source of information, the ascension of unqualified cronies to important government posts, the dismantling of federal regulations hard won over years to protect consumers, employees, and citizens generally from greed and powerful self-interest...the list goes on and on.

Bush is only getting, at last, what he has long deserved. Unfortunately, we the people are suffering from his downfall, too, but not so much as we have already suffered from the man himself, and not so much as we would suffer if he could continue to control public opinion through deception and distraction. It's all coming home to roost for Bush, Cheney and cronies. About time!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

“I’ll want you to slant your poetry...”

A.F. Flogger wrote again:

“You know, if you come with me at flogger.com, I’ll want you to slant your poetry along political lines. For example:

“There is a throw-up word—it rhymes with ‘whoosh’—
That I want never ever hear...so shush!
    The throw-up word—first letter ‘B’
    Followed by a different three—
That I want never ever hear is ‘----’.

“I titled that ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ and submitted it to Carl Kasell by way of Peter Sagal. He didn’t use it, so it’s okay if you do. I’m still looking for some fellow floggers.”

George W. B--- does bring up the verst in some people.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Homage to Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) (a poem)

The world's just motley enough
.     —in its many-colored coat of ideological representations—
.                 to have been made

By a committee of the beings
.     —Allah, Brahma, Ishvara, Khuda, Yahweh,
.     Mazda, Theos, Chaos, Deus, Zeus, Mind—
.                 whose beings into being prayed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

And are you, woman, trembly too? (a poem)

And are you, woman, trembly too,
And are you out of breath,
And do your limbs feel heavy too,
.     Our blood confused by scent of no-ing death?

And do my eyes look strickened too,
And do I seem to gasp,
And has my voice now quickened too,
.     Afraid what I might say or dare to ask?

And is your hearing muffled too,
And do you want me much,
And is your heart unwilling too
.     To leave me now and go that we not touch?

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Comment from "a Fellow Flogger"

I found a comment here this morning from a man (he said) who identified himself only as "a fellow flogger" and the creator of a website (not yet launched) whose domain address he has registered as flogger.com. Frankly, he admitted, he wanted me to quit blogger.com and come with him. He'd give me a "flogspot," he said.

To show his goodwill, he gave me his most recent political joke and said I was free to use it (anyway, he could use the publicity), so long as I would consider his proposal.

Okay, I'll consider it.
"What's the difference between a Texas pissant and 'President' George W. Bush?...A pissant doesn't need quotation marks."

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Will and Testament (a sonnet)

Time was, we carved the cello’s Venus mound,
Composed the music for the melody,
And aged the ocher wood to free the sound
To sing the cello’s heart from memory.

And now with your two sons and mine we breathe
The honey’s forest fragrance tongued by bees
From flowers’ lips, and to our sons bequeath
The living golden sweet of our heartsease.

Let’s share the sun-ripe orange of our mind,
And show our boys to bite as we have done
The dulcet fruit within its gilded rind,
To taste the world our friendly knowing won.

Music, when soft our honeyed voices die,
Will vibrate in their liquid memory’s eye.

[1986]

Friday, July 7, 2006

A Chinese View of Our "Bush Business"

A Chinese friend (a post-doc in Physics in North Carolina from Beijing) visited my blog yesterday and sent me an e-mail. I'd like to share his comment on American politics, which he introduces with the observation that I am "a very nice and kind person"--despite the vitriol, I guess, that I am capable of pouring on George W. Bush....

He continues: "As to the politics, it is very complicated for you, for me, and for common people like us. So, politicians deal with it for us. Actually, they make a living on this. I feel most American people are well-educated and open-minded. They know what is right and what is wrong. So, let's hope for the best. Anyway, the United States is a democratic society."

I'd like to be encouraged by my friend's assurance, but under the Busheviks it's a lot more than politicians who are making a living off politics. And I'm not sure that the Busheviks are dealing with things "for us" (the People). In fact, its obvious that, for the most part, they are not.

And I question whether enough American people are "well-educated and open-minded," since a large number of the people who voted for Bush in 2000 seem to have made the ill-informed decision to do so again in 2004¹. (I suspect they might have watched too much Fox Noise programming.)

Finally, are we still a "democratic society"? Is your vote equal to that of a person who will save millions of dollars in taxes if the Bushevik Party succeeds in killing the estate tax? Or equal to the vote that is not deleted through election tampering?

It isn't clear that "hoping for the best" can yet ensure an untroubled sleep.
___________________
1. Not that their voting for him in 2000 had been well-informed either. They certainly hadn't heeded Molly Ivins and Lou Dubose's Shrub: The Short [sic] but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, published early enough in 2000 for them to have read.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Distress over "the Bush Business"

Isn't it just like a friend who has known you for many years? He or she can sometimes tell better than you can that you're distressed. One of my Yale roommates wrote yesterday, "I am a little worried that you are taking the Bush business so much to heart, because it seems to me to be making you very unhappy." I thought of that this morning while reading a few more pages of Toni Morrison's Beloved and became aware that I was comparing myself to the character Sethe, who carried a huge burden of suffering out of her past as a slave.

I'm embarrassed to have compared my suffering (and the suffering of other Americans through these intolerable "Bush years") to the terrible suffering of American slaves in the nineteenth century. But who knows? Maybe the total amount of suffering now even surpasses that of those slaves. Think of the millions of Americans trying to live today on the minimum wage that the Bushevik Party resists increasing while fighting to free the wealthy from the estate tax. Think of the thousands of American servicemen and women who have died or been seriously injured in Iraq....

My roommate went on: "Obviously, the country made a mistake in electing Bush the first time¹ and even more so the second time² in light of the track record of the first term. The good thing about all this, I think, is that at this point Bush is relatively powerless and will have even less power as time goes on."

While I hope that this "good thing" is true, Bush is still in place, soiling our White House, worsening the terrorist situation, channeling contracts to greedy incompetents, favoring wealthy campaign contributors, perhaps putting another anti-progressive justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, not to mention the relatively minor matter of embarrassing us almost every time he opens his mouth and tries to remember just how it was Karl told him to word what he was supposed to say...For two and a half more years he can (and surely will to the extent that he has any power at all) exacerbate the mess that we already have to clean up after him.
___________________
1. But did the country elect Bush in 2000? If the Bushevik Party hadn't disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters in Florida, then Bush, instead of defeating Al Gore by 5 electoral votes, would have lost by 45.
2. And in 2004, if the Bushevik Party hadn't disenfranchised even more voters in Ohio (possibly 350,000, according to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in his article, "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" in a recent issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, including stealing thousands of votes by electronic tampering), Bush would not have defeated John Kerry by 34 electoral votes, but would have lost by 6.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Voice on the Phone (a poem)

The hoarse, close breathiness
.             of your voice on the phone

.     Makes me long to hear
.     your voice in my ear

.                     When we're alone.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Happy 230st Anniversary of American Independence

I've been dwelling lately on the fact that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson lived long enough to celebrate the 50th, dying on the same day, July 4, 1826. My longing for leaders of their caliber might be a reaction to today's reality that our government has fallen into the hands of the party of a man who is able to pretend that he is the legitimate President of the United States only because enough Americans have been cowed and self-deluded into pretending the same thing. So help us God.

Monday, July 3, 2006

We Slept with Windows Open (a poem)

We slept with windows open all the night
The day I sold or gave my books away.

Was it the sound of the lusty tree frogs
Or the lightening of the burden of all
Those books never to read again (or read at all)
That made me lie awake, compose these lines,
And bade my body hum the song “Alive, Alive”?

[October 2001]

Youie Summer

[Youie Summer came along two years after I wrote the sonnet posted yesterday.]

During weeks of manic inspiration in the summer of 1989, I received spiritual revelations so striking that I began to keep a journal to record them. Their significance seemed to demand that I share them with others. But a sad technical job at a large corporation felt at odds with that calling, leaving me only an hour or two out of each day at home with my wife to inscribe my insights.

Early in July, I entered the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and regularly chanted affirmations that I would win. Something told me that my entry number contained a sign that the prize money would be mine, so I translated the number according to a pairing of digits and consonants that I used as a mnemonic device, and indeed it turned out that the entry number signified that the ten million dollars would be a grant-in-aid for me to write full-time for Youie.

Youie. A couple of weeks earlier I had been playing around with Einstein’s E=mc² to try to find a similar formula for spiritual energy, which I abbreviated UIE, for Universal Intelligent Energy. Pronounced as a word, UIE sounded like “Youie,” which I soon noticed contained not only “you,” but also “I” (Spanish “yo), “we” (the sound of French “oui”—also “wee”) and “yes” (literal “oui”). The name was thus revealed to me to be a mystical invitation to affirm joyously that we are one. My son had already pointed out the name’s similarity to “Yahweh,” the name revealed in the passage in The Second Book of Moses where the burning bush tells Moses that he will lead his people out of bondage in Egypt, and Moses asks who he should say told him so, if the people should ask. (I thought that I may even have discovered the secret pronunciation of Yahweh’s name.)

Unfortunately, simply winning the sweepstakes wouldn’t guarantee that everybody was going to read about these wondrous revelations. But what if I could prove that I had known in advance? Then I would no doubt appear on Oprah and people would flock to bookstores to own the story.

On July 26, one week before the winner would be announced on television, I had the manuscript notarized and I posted it to myself by certified mail. Earlier that same day, I had seen a neurologist about recent dizziness and muscular fatigue. The neurologist seemed to be someone I could talk to, so I told him about my journal and of a fantasy I’d had about needing surgery and being excused from my job for a few weeks. He asked me whether I might be “trying to do too much” and whether my “thoughts seemed to race.” He told me that my symptoms probably stemmed from “all that was going on” and would clear up by themselves “after this gets resolved.”

The manuscript arrived in the mail on Tuesday, August 1. On Thursday, the day of the announcement on The NBC Nightly News, I packed up all of my personal belongings at work so I could flee quickly after quitting my job the next day. My wife didn’t know about my entering the sweepstakes—it wasn’t something I could tell her about until after I had won. Later that night, I could at least be glad that she hadn’t been in the room to see my reaction to the revelation that there would be nothing to tell her.

The following summer I fell asleep on Interstate-40 while driving home from work and spent the next five and a half months on medical leave with chronic fatigue syndrome. In January 1996, during a hard freeze, I fell down twice playing in the forest with Ruffy, our golden retriever. That evening, about to go for a walk with Ruffy, I slipped and sat down hard on an icy step. I got up and we went for our walk, but I returned to the house speaking incoherently. The neurosurgeon later surmised that the jolt to my spine had caused an ancient, slow-growing tumor in my pineal gland to start bleeding. After a six-month leave for brain surgery and rehabilitation, I was informed by my manager that I hadn’t been very productive during that time, and he advised me to take early retirement to avoid an unfavorable performance evaluation.

I felt relieved but also angry that it had taken something stronger than my own volition to deliver me out of the land of Egypt.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Vocational Change (a sonnet)

Last year I voided the business blather,
Let go what the company calls profession:
The grind for promotion, the schizo stress on
The rotten rungs of the corporate ladder.

They flung my human skills like cannon fodder
Into product wars for market conquest and
I gave them free my overtime, no question,
Even brought their work home, for my own slaughter.

When people ask me now, What do you do?
I tell them that I loafe, invite my soul,
Court wind and sun, and in the garden woo
The muse that sings my child of Adam whole.
Now the only business that I pursue
Is to keep my number on the payroll.

[1987]

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Third Reply from Yale (June 29, 2006)

You write well. And the bite of your passion comes through. I understand and admire the fierceness of your belief, and the gumption that doesn't allow you to quit. I think you know that I will not take the action you ask. But I have registered the depth of your feeling, and I won't forget it.

.             Sincerely yours,
.             [signed]
.             [The President of Yale University]