How to successfully further the aims of your critics…

It is a week after it was exposed that the White House had advance warning and details of a possible plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into buildings before 9/11. The Democrats are calling for a full inquiry and the White House looks like they’re in a real bad position no matter how you slice it. Now the White House is pumping out daily headlines with vauge information that they may again be up to something, while at the same time criticizing the Democrats for questioning their authority.

It is a week after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba and called for lifting of the 40 year old trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba. Jimmy says that the Cubans are definitley not developing weapons of mass destruction and, being the first current or former President of the United States to do so, has delivered a public and uncensored speech to the people of Cuba extolling the benefits of democracy. And now George Dubyah is in Florida with his brother, Gov’nah Jeb, hyping up his demands for Cuban reforms and shoring up his position on refusing to lift the embargo.

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the White House is a bit too interested right now in domestic PR campaigns to cover their collective butts. Would it not be better to keep a more reserved and conservative profile and move forward with working on resolutions rather than embarking on these somewhat tasteless campaigns to enhance their own political image? (Which in turn has quite the opposite effect, IMO…)

When someone tries to bait you into an argument, if you react and lash back out at them, then they have already won. It makes you look like a fool, or an ogre, and the more noise you make, the more foolish or ogre-ish you appear. If you remain focused and stay on the path, you have a better chance of coming out on top. Engage in constructive dialogue, but don’t engage in public tit-for-tat speeches about who should be doing what. That just serves to polarize the opposite parties rather than bring them together.

If it were me, I would have made one clear public statement regarding the advance warnings and left it at that. I think it is pretty obvious to any reasonable person that there are simply thousands of these kinds of reports that come along and while it is possible to prevent many incidents as many have been so already, it is quite probable that things can slip through the cracks of such a complex world. In hindsight a lot more could have been done, but we could say the same thing about Pearl Harbor, right? The bottom line is that going on the defensive sends a signal that you have something to hide.

If it were me, I would have invited Mr. Carter to come to the White House and provide a full report. My only public statement would have been “we are evaluating Mr. Carter’s report in detail and we thank him for his sincere patriotism and proactive sense of diplomacy”, and left it at that. Who cares if you really think he’s a naive and reckless idealist, at least you remain neutral and allow both parties to save face. Again, going on the defensive only serves to make you look worse than you may already, rather than seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the situation in a more diplomatic fasion.

But hey, that’s just me…

Trauermusik

I am listening to this pice by Paul Hindemith called Trauermusik right now. Actually, I have the one track set to loop over and over, this is about the 5th time this session, and I listened to it this morning a few times too. I’m not sure what it is about this particular pice with me, but sometimes I get in a mood and this is the soundtrack for it. (It’s raining right now, maybe that’s it…)

In January of 1936, Paul Hindemith was in London preparing to perform his new viola concerto in the Queen’s Hall. But the day before the performance, Kinge George V died. The entire nation was in mourning. As a tribute to the late king, Hindemith composed this piece “Trauermusik” for Viola and String Orchestra in the space of six hours and performed it in a studio concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra the following day.

This piece is sublime, haunting, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. It is a piece that for me conjures up feelings of nostalgia, of sorrow, of pristine beauty. It is said that during the BBC performance, many of the musicians were openly weeping. The performance I am listening to by soloist Geraldine Walther and the San Francisco Symphony is one of the finer recordings I’ve heard of this piece. She really makes the viola cry and mourn with sorrow and anger.

To me there are three things that are amazing about this piece of music. One is that Hindemith accomplished this feat of composing the music quickly for a tragic occasion and performing it a day later. The next thing is that this piece has far outlived the occasion for which it is written – being one of the finest continuing pieces of standard repertoire for both the symphony orchestra and for the solo viola alike. Lastly, the sheer haunting, organic beauty of this piece itself is what amazes me the most.

AppleScripting

I finally broke down and taught myself some AppleScript today. The motivation was that Adobe neglected to include a way to save your panel layouts, and I, being a PowerBook G4 user, often switch between a dual monitor config at work, a dual monitor config at home, and remote “laptop style” (I know what you’re thinking and you should be ashamed!) *grin*

So what I discovered is, once you get used to it’s literal nature, syntax, and way of doing things, it is actually quite easy to write fairly useful scripts.

After reading a few semi-useful tutorial/primer pages from Apple and O’Reilly, I opened up the Script Editor, a few sample scripts, and started hacking away. Eventually I got it so that I could back up my preferences file for whatever local configuration I was at, restore them based on what location I was in (and lauch Illustrator after restoring), and initialize the preferences file for use with going through the tutorials in the Adobe Illustrator 10 Classroom in a Book.

Well take my skates off and call me shorty! It works! After adding the AppleScript Menu to my toolbar and creating a Illustrator directory in my Example Scripts file, I have solved my location problem with Illustrator. Now to create sets for InDesign…

If anybody wants these scripts, contact me. If there’s enough demand, I’ll post them with some instructions on how to install.

The First Amendment

This is the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am posting this here because someone just asked me what it was.

Amendment I (1791)
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

What does that mean?

First of all, this is the seperation of church and state. The U.S. Government does not have the right to introduce, impose, encourage, enforce, discourage, or restrict any type of religion. It is of the idea that with such power in government comes a great responsibility to protect people of any religious background, as all too often this power has been abused by those in power that would disagree with a religion whose ideas conflicted with their own.

So my rant here is, if you are a citizen of the United States, be aware of this constitutional amendment and what it means, and resist the tendency towards complacency and acceptance when these basic rights are infringed upon. If you live in another country with similar rights, understand those rights and act upon them if necessary. If you live in a country without those rights, consider demanding it.

That 1 Guy

Mike, and old friend of mine gave, me a CD of his after one of his performances, billed under the name “That One Guy”. The title of the disc is “Songs in the Key of Beotch”. I recently rediscovered this item in an old suitcase of mine and decided to rip it and add it to my playlist.

Now, Mike and I go way back. We used to play in jazz bands and orchestras together, at Los Medanos College and did a substantial amount of mountain biking up Mt. Diablo. There was a day where we would both easily make it to the summit.

I can remember at least one instance where we were playing together in my last performance with the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, and in a moment of pure mischief, I advised Mike that we were going to give the conductor John Maltester a razz and spin our basses during a few bars of rest before the end of the finale. My god I thought John was really going to kill me right then and there, backstage after the performance. He was so pissed – I do beleive he was purple.

Anyway, go check him out.