Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas is in charge

Good! The best way to erode a leader's popularity is to put him in charge. Do you think they'll be able to keep their poll numbers up when they're actually trying to run the whole territory?

If they try any terrorist bullshit, it becomes an official act of war, not just an infuriating act of crime. They put all their people at risk. How committed is the entire Palestinian population to the concept of joyous martyrdom?

Hamas will find out it's a lot easier to be the good guy when you don't have to worry about all the details of governing. They'll find out now that you can't fool all the people all the time. They'll discover whether the ones who do support them all the time are enough to make a workable majority.

Winning the election may be the biggest misfortune they ever suffered.

Welcome to the hot seat, boys.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Climate Short-change

April is such a popular month we like to have an extra dose of it at just about any time of year. Don't ask why. April is the most bleak and desolate time up here.

Real estate booms start in New England because of July and foliage season. They end because of April.

I have to give a nod to November as even grimmer than April, because there's almost no daylight, and all of winter, and April, still lie ahead. But where December can act like a second November, April can begin in early January and last with no interruption well into May. If there is a break it will be a sudden bout of deep winter some time in March, after everyone has given up on it and turned their hopes toward spring.

We never learn. We always turn our hopes toward spring. We always get slapped in the face by the icy, wet hand of late winter.

People from away who believe the broad smiles of the well-dressed land pimps will throw down for that dream cottage or classic farmhouse with visions of cozy fires and hearty meals, fesh air and outdoor fun. They might even get a day or two of it.

The smart ones don't buy anything here until they can afford to make it a second home. They can crash in for the pleasant parts of the year, creating a frenzied gridlock of vacationers and the business people who exploit them, and then go away while the gray mantle of unending NovApril settles back on the landscape.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Zoom Zoom

What do car ads say about the national psyche? Or do they just say something about Madison Avenue's notion of the national psyche?

According to the advertising, some automobiles cause hallucinations so addictive that pedestrians chase the cars through the streets just to get the chance to lay hands on one and experience the trip. Others generate destructive force fields that either cause the competitors vehicles to crumble into dust and rust or make objects fly out of control as the car passes by. That's appealing. When I saw the latest Hyundai cause a woman to lose the ice cream from the top of her cone I knew that driver vanity had gone completely out of control. Nothing should cause the death of innocent ice cream. And this was just part of a trail of destruction that was supposed to make the viewer want to go out and purchase the car immediately.

What happens when two of these cars meet each other on the highway? The destruction of all matter? The end of the world?

Buy one today! Find out what the inside of a black hole looks like tomorrow!

How's the gas mileage? Who cares? Causes 37 catastrophes per gallon!

Actually, selfish pricks in cars leaving a swath of destruction is probably more symbolic of the truth than the advertising industry ever intended. Or maybe it's their mission statement. It's very hard to know for sure.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Be Counted

We were just out for a walk. It's a winter day, but the snow is too thin and crunchy to ski, and we didn't feel like gearing up with snowshoes. So we walked along the road. And it occurred (not to say hit) me, that everything you do in the modern world becomes a political statement.

Drivers use this particular country road as a throughway. It's a major commuter and commercial artery. The area isn't particularly built up, but this road happens make a connection where people need it. So they drive like maniacs. Many of them ARE Maineaics, since the border is just a few miles away. That's how useful this road is. It connects the scattered residents of parts of two states. But it's also just part of our neighborhood, a strip of two-lane blacktop crumbled by frost heaves and bleached gray by road salt and summer sun.

While some people do walk along the road, it's hardly a regular thing. Drivers grow accustomed to piloting their missiles along ballistic trajectories at whatever speed their vehicles can handle. I remarked on this as we walked this morning.

"Take back the streets," my wife said. "We have to get out here and be seen doing this."

Our walk became a public demonstration. Indeed, walking is a public spectacle on many roads, because of its rarity. We've trained outrselves out of walking most places. It's safer and less conspicuous to take the armored vehicle a few hundred yards than it is to walk the same distance. People unfortunate or foolish enough to park in the far reaches of a mall parking lot and walk to the building have to deal with the jostling dinosaurs jockeying for the sweet spot right next to the last crosswalk before the door.

This line of thought led me to consider how everything we do contributes in some way to a politicized movement. I walk in the woods and have to witness the actions of loggers and developers, hunters, ATV drivers, litterbugs, acid rain and invasive species. By wanting woods in which to walk I become a member of a faction.

Biking on the road I represent cycling to those who pass. I become one element in a larger pattern of cyclists interacting with an even larger pattern of humans in motion generally. I am counted.

If I sit at home and do nothing, I am counted. If enough people sit at home and do nothing, somone will come up with a use for that statistic and try to motivate the home-sitters either to keep sitting and acquire some accessories to make our sitting more satisfying, or to mobilize and move outward once we've all been properly indoctrinated.

I don't say this is good or bad, I merely point it out. Even if you withdraw, you still relate to that from which you withdrew. You can drop out. If you want to, you should. But no one really abstains, even by choosing not to choose. You add up to something, all the time, even if it's just a body count. You make a difference whether you like it or not.