inessential by Brent Simmons


Note the small changes to this site -- the date format above each day and the archive link are different from other Manila sites.

This is a result of two changes recently made. One is that you can choose a date format from a pop-up menu. The other, just released today, is that you can specify your own image or text to be used as the archive link. Taken together, these two small features do add some nice design flexibility to one's home page.

Hint: I was able to make the date text lower-case by using CSS, the text-transform attribute. Do a View Source on this page if you want to see how I did it.


Flag flying from my garage.

Don't tread on me.

My kitten's been a great comfort. I haven't really told him too much about what's happened. In part because English is at best his second language, but also because I know what my kitten -- so sweet and nice, so loving, so soft and simple and pure -- would say about the terrorists: chase them, kill them, and eat them.

One envies predators their clarity.

People aren't predators. Or, we are, but we're so many other things too.

What to do is way too confusing. I've read and heard lots of opinions, and I have opinions too about what to do, but they're nothing new or interesting, so I'll spare you for now.

One thing I hope we remember is that there are countries nearer to home that need help. We have the opportunity to help lift poorer countries up -- we're so strong and wealthy, we can do this. I'm thinking especially of Mexico and Cuba. These nations, so rich in people and heritage and culture, are on a terrible slope. If we can help them without dominating them, we have to do it.

I'm a peaceful person, a liberal democrat, anti-death-penalty, a dove.

I think about Gandhi and his lessons.

And one thing haunts me. Gandhi was fighting opression with civil disobedience, with peaceful means. But his enemy was the 20th century British. They could be shamed into being their better selves.

I don't honestly believe that there's a universal human lesson.

Not to diminish Gandhi, who is surely one of the greatest men of all history, but he was lucky.

Chamberlain: Peace in our time.

One of my favorite books is Kafka's The Trial.

In it, K. is charged with a crime. Everyone's convinced he's guilty -- even K.

He's never told the details of the crime. So, naturally, he searches and searches for what it is, for there must be something or he wouldn't have been accused.

Basic psychology.

This can happen to groups and nations too.

It makes me think of an American scene like this:

A young boy comes home from school with a bloody nose. His shirt is torn and his pants dirty. Some kids punched him and pushed him on the ground.

His mom, in the kitchen peeling potatoes for dinner, takes one look at him and says, "What did you do to make them so mad at you?"

The boy says, "Nothing." But he doesn't believe it -- he spends days and weeks searching himself for the answer.

Then the kids beat him up again. This time the boy is almost glad, because he deserves it. He knows he's guilty of something, he's just not sure what. But the what doesn't really matter, he'll find it, it's there somewhere.

(No, this didn't happen to me.)

I think terrorists are not only aware of what might be called K.'s Syndrome -- they count on it. It's one of their goals.