Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My readers' top 10 are a complete puzzle

Who are these people reading my blog? A look at my stats shows that the top pageviews went to essentially humorous and (to my mind) largely trivial posts. I realize that to bloggers who get thousands of hits a day and tend or even hundreds of comments, my numbers are puny. But, still, they provide a sense of priorities.

Here they are, as follows:
  1. But She's a Commoner!, Nov 17, 2010: 3 comments; a whopping 5,838 page views!
  2. Dulce et Decorum Est?, Sept 11, 2005: 854 page views.
  3. The Elephant in the Blog, Sep 21, 2007: 115 comments; 502 page views.
  4. Who is an Anglo?, Aug 15, 2007: 11 comments; 480 page views.
  5. Why do the heathen rage, July 5, 2009: 4 comments; 346 page views.
  6. Felicitous? -- A True Fable, Sep 17, 2007: 254 comments, 293 page views.
  7. Values vs. Ethics, Sep 7, 2007: 9 comments; 215 page views.
  8. The Burqa and the Thong, Feb 12, 2010, 7 comments;182 page views.
  9. Predatory Men, Predatory Women, May 31, 2007: 15 comments; 155 page views.
  10. Goodbye, Uptown Cathay, Jul 9, 2010: 1 comment; 90 page views.
All right, I get no. 1: everybody was tuned into the royal wedding.

And no. 3 is the sequel to no. 6, both precipitated by an invading swarm of British trolls, scallawags and sundry other nether creatures (note the high number of comments).

No. 2 is one of my personal favorites (see under "Favorite Posts," left), yet it didn't garner any comment. I had no idea that many people were drawn to it.

But no. 4 got hits mostly from Britain before the horde. I guess Brits were experiencing an identity crisis that day.

Then no. 5 was a whimsical think piece that meandered through religion, literature, psychology and I tagged philosophy to cover them all. Didn't expect this.

Nos. 8 and 9: obvious.

No. 7 got many hits from India and the Middle East. Soul searching in distant lands?

Then there's no. 10, about a neighborhood restaurant. Who knew so many people cared?

You people are strange.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why are people so insincere in email?

I mean, there's signatures such as "In Christ," "Peace" and "Cheers" (and now someone has sent me an email from "[sender]lovesyou@[isp].com") after put downs and insults. Then there's the sarky oblique comment by someone who think's he's being veddy, veddy clever.

One person I have known for 37 years claims she was "offering an olive branch" after unfriending me on Facebook without the slightest leavetaking. Another claims not to be calling me obtuse in the phrase "I won't insult your intelligence by accepting that you're actually as obtuse as you pretend to be"

"This information could make you a celebrity among Biblical theologians; you will be in demand everywhere; and it will be a privilege I will remember all my life to say I was one of the first to hear it," writes another put-down artist, a clergyman I believe. He signs his missive, "In Christ," obviously because when one is "in Christ" one just loves to have a good laugh at other people's expense.

And, oh, if I had a nickle for every time I've received a furious, enraged rant, signed with the irenic (not "ironic," look it up), "Peace."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hard to forgive: those who will not apologize, even for the other September 11

It was a week or two after the event many people are fixated on today, that I witnessed an Irish priest, a visitor at what was then my parish, state from the pulpit that forgiveness was fine and dandy (my words), but that what had happened demanded retribution (his word).

No turning the other cheek for that allegedly Christian clergyman.

I understand this because, to tell the truth, I find it very difficult to forgive. The problem is that the people who injure me, mostly with haughtiness and a refusal to listen, don't do me the favor of abjectly recognizing they are at fault.

Surely, Osama bin Laden died with the certainty that he was right and that the United States had aggrieved the Muslim world in a way that deserved what happened and more.

Similarly, I doubt that any of the ITT executives who provided covert funds, the Nixon White House operatives and the CIA men have lost much sleep over aiding and abetting the destruction of democracy on another September 11, the one in Chile in 1973 that ended with an elected president dead and thousands of Chilean citizens from all walks of life kidnapped, tortured and killed.

The initial toll (people killed at the stadium in Santiago in the immediate aftermath of the violent overthrow of Salvador Allende) was similar in Chile to that on Manhattan island 28 years later: 3,000 people killed.

Gen. Augusto Cesar Pinochet had laid out in the military journal Estrategia in 1965 his plans for a "national security state" to struggle in defense of what the military regimes of South America came to call "Christian, Western civilization." He died without ever apologizing for his crimes.

Nor for the US$250 million paid to the Anaconda Copper Mining Company by the Pinochet regime to offset the loss of two-thirds of its copper production under Allende. Anaconda, ruled a major polluter by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1980s, was bought by the Atlantic Richfield Company in 1997, which was in turn purchased by BP, the former British Petroleum, and the source of the recent environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

What a tangled web some weave ...

Still, today's gospel speaks of forgiving "seventy times seven," biblical talk for many, many times. I can sympathize with the silly Irish priest when I think of Sept. 11, 1973.

As for the one ten years ago, I wish that instead of talk of retribution there had been more room for understanding those who witnessed the pillage in their countries by U.S. and other Western interests with which most of us  feel no commonality whatsoever -- and how misdirected, grief-stricken rage was the real pilot of the four crashed planes.

Then they might have come to forgive us for unwittingly enjoying the living standard sustained by our society's plunder. And we could forgive them back.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Obama could have done better, but he could have done worse

I won't go into the economics, which I cover professionally. Nonetheless, after a few days I feel that politically the speech was brilliant; it threw the gauntlet to Republicans: "Come on, be obstructionist and make my day." They have to pass Obama's bill or get blamed for a double dip.

The numbers, which the White House took its sweet time to release (a clever idea: don't let the opposition nickel and dime you to death before you negotiate), look good in the aggregate. I still want to see details.

This demonstrates to me that Obama's political genius is still there. The Saturday previous to the speech, on the very humorous NPR radio program "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" one guest predicted we would all learn from Obama's jobs speech how he is planning to hold onto his own.

My guess is that he still has a few rabbits in that hat.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Help! I'm surrounded by assholes!

"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes." -William Gibson
 The quote was passed on this morning and it summarizes my life perfectly. Upon conducting a mental census of the people I have known most of my life, I realize I omitted observing the Gibsonian rule before commending myself to antidepressants to help me swim up to the surface of occasional joy or even a pleasing numbness.

What was I thinking?

I can't go through the names and memories of anyone I knew from the ages of 1 to 10 without finding preening self-centeredness, projections of absurd ambitions onto me, bossiness, meanness, trickery.

If they weren't bad then, time has taken care of that: the silence when it became clear I wouldn't play banker says it all. If their idiocy wasn't evident then, it is now, by God.

If they weren't uncaring, the way they peeled off in stormy times has spoken volumes. If their occasional contacts out of the blue to ask for a favor didn't broadcast it, my silent telephone in grief would. If their busy-ness didn't always work to exclude me, I might see their true character in my presence.

It wasn't me, after all. I was surrounded by assholes for so long that I didn't realize they were assholes.

Stunning. How could I have been such a fool!