September 15, 2003

Job Opportunity

Maybe I should rethink my career goals. Here's a job description that I found on the Stony Brook University Student Job Opportunities system:

Handles recyclables. Assist drivers on collection route,Develop and mantain website and outreach material.

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September 11, 2003

Basic therapy

While I waited to park the car this morning, WQXR played Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder (Four Last Songs). And you don't need a prescription.

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I had resolved to avoid media this morning. Not because I feel we need to "move on" from September 11, but because I felt the personal need for a more individual, less collective and more meditative reflection.

But real life interceded with impeccable timing. Our block was visited at memorial time by 4 (count 'em, four) NYFD companies, two engines and two ladders. Twenty minutes later, the same 4 companies returned. As I went out to move my car, I looked back as the big rig of the NYPD ESU arrived in front of my building. Finally, an ambulance and 3 police cruisers blocked our street and escorted someone to the hospital. The reasons for all these various runs remain mysterious, but ... of all days to be visited by New York's greatest.

Looking down on the fire crew in their turnout gear generated the usual lump in the throat. From the fifth floor, they looked at once so tough and so fragile, both larger and smaller than life itself. I imagine how they must have looked from 100 stories up two years ago, even smaller, even greater.

Today, on the FDNY web site there is a tribute by the Fire Commissioner that is worth reading:

For as long as there is a New York City Fire Department, September 11th will be a time to honor truly great people. Individuals, who confronted thousands of people at their moment of greatest need, looked into their own souls, risked the gravest danger, and went to the aid of those people. Theirs was the purest form of courage, the purest demonstration of love for oneís fellow man. In our nationís darkest hour, it made our Department a ray of light that cut through the darkness. That is why the FDNY has become a symbol for the world: not because so many were lost, but because so many were inspired. And so for as long as there is a New York City Fire Department, September 11th of every year will be a day to stop and remember.

{Here's the NYPD heroes page. And the Port Authority Police Department.}

I flash back to one early morning that September, when the city was still shut down to most traffic. I was driving up the West Side Highway on an errand. Ahead of me: a lone motorcyclist on a Harley. As I slowly overtook him, I spotted his NYFD jacket and I recognized that awful gray dust blowing off his boots. Just a guy, going home after a long night on the pile, the blue sky, the river, that intense loneliness ...

I'll remember.

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September 10, 2003

Edward Teller 1908-2003

Dr. Teller has died. Certainly one of the most controversial scientists ever, he also inspired this excellent piece of poetry by another physicist:

Perils of Modern Living
Harold P. Furth

Well up above the tropostrata
There is a region stark and stellar
Where, on a streak of anti-matter
Lived Dr. Edward Anti-Teller.

Remote from Fusion's origin,
He lived unguessed and unawares
With all his antikith and kin,
And kept macassars on his chairs.

One morning, idling by the sea,
He spied a tin of monstrous girth
That bore three letters: A. E. C.
Out stepped a visitor from Earth.

Then, shouting gladly o'er the sands,
Met two who in their alien ways
Were like as gentils. Their right hands
Clasped, and the rest was gamma rays.

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September 02, 2003

Oh yeah? What about the Famous "Battling Wonkas of Belgium" Regiment

Who says the State Department is angry at Europeans? Apparently, they regard them as a sweet treat, welcome at any gathering:

The United States on Tuesday sneered at plans by four European countries to create an autonomous European military command headquarters near Brussels separate from NATO, referring to the idea's proponents as "chocolate makers."

Conspiracy theorists might note the reference on Mary Chocolatier home page to a visit by President Bush in 2001. Even worse are the rumors that George H. W. Bush had a standing order for Mary's chocolate from any staffer passing through Brussels.

I owe Paul a hazelnut truffle for the tip.

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Body Politic Fluids

So, they removed the Ten Commandments statue from the Alabama Courthouse. The Constitution has been spared. The Union remains strong. I can sleep soundly at night. Praise the Lord! Oops, sorry. Wrong cheer.

I enjoy a thoroughly pointless dust-up as much as anyone, but it did seem to me that Judge Roy Moore went about this thing the wrong way. Now, if he had placed elephant feces [Chris Ofili The Holy Virgin Mary] on the Commandments, or maybe suspended them in urine [Andres Serrano Piss Christ]...

Then he would have had battalions of National Public Radio listeners throwing their bodies in front of the statue and screaming to their congressmen to make sure THEIR constitutional rights were protected.

Instead, we just get to witness another "My Amendment can beat up Your Amendment", nyah-nyah, contest.

As a practicing atheist myself, I suspect that some in the more hallowed NPR precincts believe that the Constitution guarantees us "Freedom FROM Religion".

We can only hope that there is an outcry against some NEA-sponsored art show soon so the judge can cite the removal of this artwork (tedious as it was) as precedent.

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September 01, 2003

Labor Day 2003

Citarella's East Hampton: .25 miles
Manhattan: 108 miles

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