Saturday, July 08, 2006

on life, death, and prose

I know of three bloggers who are extraordinary wordsmiths. By that I mean that when I read them I'm always thinking, "I wish I could put together sentences like that," or "That was an inspired word choice," or, more commonly, given my relative lack of perception, "Why is this post so easy and enjoyable to read?" The three bloggers are James Lileks, Andrew Sullivan and Dean Barnett (the Dean of Soxblog, not Dean's World).

I don't read Lileks any more because he and I just don't share many interests. I'm sure the peculiarities of 1950's post-modern agrarian neo-colonial wicker footwear are endless and fascinating to those of the proper outlook, and Lileks's young daughter, Gnat, is surely one of the most adorable children ever to grace the surface of this or any other planet, but ... well ... YA-A-AWN.

As to Andrew Sullivan, he was once one of the best political bloggers on the Internet. This was during a period in Sullivan's life when apparently he was able to step outside of his own narrow interests and view the world from a grander perspective. Some of his polemics on the War on Terror were great works of journalism. Unfortunately, this admirable period of Sullivan's self-centered life was fleeting. He has returned to his mire of narcissistic self-indulgence to such an extent that he has actually been working to undermine America's prosecution of the War on Terror in order to punish George Bush for being insufficiently accommodating to men who, like Sullivan, enjoy sodomizing one another for entertainment. Sullivan's once-mighty blog has evaporated away, leaving behind nothing but a brackish puddle of whiny self-indulgent waste featuring posts about his minor health problems along with grousing about how mean Republicans are to gays and how mean American soldiers are to terrorists. I don't read Andrew Sullivan any more.

The one I still read is Dean Barnet. Most of what Barnett writes is political or social commentary (with the occasional insufferably partisan sports column. Barnett is a citizen of Boston so of course nothing he has to say about sports is worth reading, but the rest of it is good). On rare occasions, Barnett too writes about his health, but unlike Sullivan, Barnett actually has something worthwhile to say on this subject. You see, Dean Barnett has Cystic Fibrosis. He is 39 now and wasn't expected to live to that ripe old age.

Perhaps the best post that Dean Barnett has ever written was one about his health. You can trust me; I'm not into maudlin sentimentality and this post was one of the most profound and emotionally draining things I have ever read. It expresses the thoughts of a young man who has faced the prospect of an early death. The post is really about hope, but such an abbreviated hope that it almost hurt to read. Barnett's outlook made me regret the wasted time of my own life. I was left almost envious of the man who has spent his entire life knowing that he had not long to live it and made his decisions with such in mind. I wish that I had made better decisions. So seriously … click here and read it.

After you read that post, be sure to read his latest. It is very good news.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

please be rude

My trip to Flagstaff and back were my first real road trips in California in decades (I'm not counting the time I drove out here in a U Haul with my car on a trailer). I'm taking back a lot of the nice things I've said about California drivers. I've been saying that California drivers know how to drive on a freeway better than Arizona drivers; they know where the gas pedal is and they know to stay out of the freaking fast lane if they aren't going freaking fast.

But now I'm thinking that this favorable impression was just because I've been driving on city freeways. On the highway, California drivers are just as annoying as Arizona drivers, if in a different way. In Arizona, you have people who just drive in the left lane, with no idea that the lane is for passing. In California, people know that the left lane is for passing, but they camp out in it anyway because they intend to pass that truck up there in the next twenty minutes or so and they don't want to get caught in the wrong lane. Arizona drivers tend not to think about getting caught in the wrong lane, so if random circumstances find them in the right lane, they tend to stay there.

The problem with California drivers is that they know you aren't supposed to pass on the right and they get upset if you do it. They see you coming and accelerate to keep you from passing. So you have long lines of ten or twenty cars camping out in the left lane because there is a truck way up ahead somewhere, and there is no one in the right lane because if anyone tries to fill out the right lane, they get frozen out. So there is no opportunity to sort out the cars by speed and the entire line is held to the speed of the slowest idiot, and huge traffic jams form on highways that don't really have much traffic.

By contrast, the randomness of the Arizona idiocy keeps the size of the blockades down to a smaller size, but it's not better because you are a lot more likely to have two people driving side by side at exactly the same speed for miles.

UPDATE: I just realized that the post title doesn't make sense because I left something out... The point is that if the faster drivers would be rude enough to pass the slower drivers on the right, these huge traffic jams wouldn't develop. OK?

Monday, July 03, 2006

back from the missing

Sorry for not responding to comments lately. I've been on vacation in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona with my extended family. I had a great time with everyone; hated to leave, but I had hotel reservations in Las Vegas for the way back and they weren't refundable. Besides, if I stopped in Vegas, it was a 4-hour drive one day and a 10-hour drive the next. If I didn't stop, it was a 14-hour drive. I wasn't up for a 14-hour drive.

But since I was gone a week, I missed the Storyblogging Carnival deadline. That was good because it gave Jeremiah a record-breaking Carnival. So go visit The Shortest Storyblogging Carnival of All Time. It won't take long to read...