The Enron executive who came in from the cold

It’s time for me to refocus back on the RDF Poetry Finder, and to that end I made a trip to my favorite place tonight — my local library. Among the prizes brought home are Folk Poetics: A Sociosemiotic Study of Yoruba Trickster Tales by Ropo Sekoni; Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, and John Le Carré’s newest (for me that is), The Constant Gardener

I used to buy all the new Le Carré book’s for my father, who is a huge fan of his. I’d then borrow the books from my Dad to read, though this type of political suspense/thriller isn’t necessarily my favorite type of book. Still, I can admire a way with the written word, which Le Carré definitely has.

When I spotted The Constant Gardener, I checked the flyleaf to see what it was about. I was curious as to who could possibly be the new type of villain since so many of Le Carré’s stock and trade antagonists have turned out to be paper tigers. According to the cover:


A master chronicler of the deceptions and betrayals of ordinary people caught in political conflict, Le Carré portrays, in The Constant Gardener, the dark side of unbridled capitalism.


Oh my. Le Carré’s finally found a villain he can sink his teeth into and hold on for the rest of his career — western capitalism. Of course I had to bring the book home.

The Folk Poetics book covers Trickster from an African perspective and looks to be an effective blend of story and analysis, thorough but possibly a bit dry. As I was checking it out, I found that it also isn’t a popular book — it’s been in the St. Louis library system since 1994, but I’m the first person to have checked it out. It’s an old new book, with crispy, limp, dusty, fresh, bright, faded pages.

Anyway, back to RDF and the Poetry Finder now that the technician’s been silent, and the poets have had a chance to chat in my comments.


Trackback for the non-trackback enabled

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I created a Trackback form for pinging my weblog posts for those people who aren’t using Movable Type or some other Trackback enabled weblog tool (or don’t have a Trackback stand alone server) but who want to send a ping to the post.

In the main page, next to the Trackback counter is the link for the form — just click it and in the form page that opens, fill in your post’s information and push the submit button. In the individual pages, the Trackback form is next to the Trackback title in the appropriate section of the page.

Hopefully other Trackback enabled weblogs will provide this type of form for their own posts, as a courtesy not only for those who are kind enough to reference our posts in their own weblogs (or in an email list, wiki, or web site), but also for our readers so they can see everyone who is talking about the post.

A text version of my form page is here. All that you need is to change the look. If you don’t have PHP at your site, you’ll also need to change the process that pulls the Trackback identifier from the URL when the form is accessed.

Simple technical change. Lots of payback. Hopefully a minimum of abuse, but feel free to play with it a bit — I can delete test trackbacks today.



For Willow

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Girt with a boyish garb for boyish task,
Eager she wields her spade; yet loves as well
Rest on a friendly knee, intent to ask
The tale he loves to tell.

Rude spirits of the seething outer strife,
Unmeet to read her pure and simple spright,
Deem, if you list, such hours a waste of life,
Empty of all delight!

Chat on, sweet Maid, and rescue from annoy
Hearts that by wiser talk are unbeguiled.
Ah, happy he who owns that tenderest joy,
The heart-love of a child!

excerpt from Lewis Carroll’s, Dedication from “Hunting of the Snark”

Congratulations, Garth and Zoë, and a warm welcome to little Willow!


Just Shelley

Hide the sparkle

I was surprised when I wrote the post You are how you write? that no one seemed to notice the irony in the page. In particular the paragraph:

Of course, once I wrote this, I thought of Jonathon’s previous writing on Linguistic Imperialism, and the impact that political correctness is having on what we say.

This all followed my quoting Stavros and Jonathon’s strongly expressed disdain for the new book by William Hannas, where he states that perhaps there is a correlation between character-based written languages as compared to abstract alphabets and scientific achievement. I went along with calling “fie” on Mr. Hannas because it seemed like the thing to do, politically.

Lots of comments on this topic, but my favorite was Mark’s rather quiet comment :

Should I read Hannas, or is the poor man already in the outer darkness?

Of course, this is where the irony enters — without fully reading the book, we’re all ready to jump on Hannas and his politically incorrect words, directly after chatting about how political correctness is damaging the English language.

Not picking on Stavros, or Jonathon. Well, yes I am. But there’s a point to it.

When I wrote the posting Outside even among the Outsiders, there was no greater opportunity to get to know me, the ‘real’ me than with this weblog posting. After all, I was talking about some of my deepest insecurities, particularly as they relate to my experiences in my field. However, rather than using an abstract example to talk about my feelings of alienation among technical discussion groups, I used an actual group; one in which many of you also participate in — or not. Worse, I brought up that ugly “male/female” thing again, which seems to be one of the most taboo subjects I know of in weblogging.

This “male/female” thing in technology is very real, should be discussed rather than hidden, and is something I’ve had to deal with, personally and painfully, for over 20 years. It’s not only just a facet of my life, it’s one of the bigger ones. I could have picked a more ‘politically correct’ way of discussing it, but I don’t think I could have picked a more honest approach. Whether my perceptions are true or not, no matter how uncomfortable, they were and are very real. Should I have kept silent?

This reminds me of Jonathon’s Alibis and consistent lies, which generated so much discomfort in local reading/writing circles. Here Jonathon was, sharing a very real facet of himself by exposing how he writes, and there is this incredible push back because people are perceiving the lies being told to them rather than seeing this as an abstract concept that really doesn’t touch them.

And isn’t this the exact same push back that occurred with Dorothea’s Academic Ivory Tower take down? D wasn’t talking about some abstract field, she was talking about academia and academics in the midst of, well, academics. Academics who pushed back, with more than a hint of “Are you talking about me?”

Are you talking about me?

Frank Paynter (that’s PayntEr), talked strongly about his views on postmodernism recently, which triggered some push back from AKMA. Frank pulled the post, which AKMA regreted because, as he wrote:

Frank pulled his post on this topic, which is a shame. I’m sorry he felt obliged to; I hope he didn’t think I was fishing for that. The topic of postmodernism evokes strong responses across the board, and if a strong disagreement between Frank and me helps clarify what’s at stake in postmodern thought and the responses it engenders.

Do you know, I think AKMA’s got it.

Passionately, eloquently, hurtfully, angrily, scathingly, regretfully, we will break the boundaries of political correctness with each other. Sometimes this will be done deliberately and there will be consequences. There should be. However, most of the time these violations of political correctness are really nothing more than an exposure of yet another facet of ourselves, one that people may not like.

At times we’re going to say things that are going to have our readers, our friends, say, “Are you talking about me?” And the answer could be, you know, I just might be — should I stop? I can turn myself around, hide that facet. After all, I don’t want to hurt or offend people or make them uncomfortable. I don’t want to push people away.

As for the Outsider posting, I apologize to Liz for putting her, unfairly, on the spot. And I apologize to Marius for lumping him in with “stereotypical males”, and appreciate his honest response about this. The same apology extends to other men who felt unfairly classified with my writing. Or the women who felt I unfairly classified them.

And the “male/female” thing? Well, we’ll just turn me about a bit and hide that facet of me. Of course, there’s always the risk that if I turn around enough, there won’t be much left of me to show someday. But then, that’s a bit of okay, too. No sharp edges to get caught on.

The smartest weblogger I know is Happy Tutor. He holds up a mask and says, “Love the mask. Hate the mask.”

Archived with comments at Wayback Machine