Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I grew up liberal in the 60's, which meant I grew up antiwar. The war was Vietnam. I marched with my parents in the streets of San Francisco, an event I remember as exhilarating rather than solemn. All my life, I've believed without questioning -- in that learned-it-in-church way -- that everything about our involvement in Vietnam was 100% wrong.

As we on the home front keep fighting about the Iraq war, it's been quite disconcerting to find myself wondering whether my views on Vietnam have been oversimplified, or worse. I doubt I'll come around to thinking it was an appropriate war to fight with draftees. But if we'd had an all-volunteer military. . . well, I won't list all the questions I'm finally asking, because they're pretty easy to guess.

One thing I don't know is whether the horrors of post-war Cambodia followed more from the war itself (that is, the American phase of a longer war), or from our manner of disengaging, or both equally, or neither.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Movie day

We recently signed up for Blockbuster Online, similar to Netflix. I think we'll be watching more movies as a family now. On Sunday we watched Art School Confidential, which my artist daughter (age 15) wanted to see. Younger Daughter still wanted to see a movie in a theater, so later the same day, the two of us went to We Are Marshall.

Neither is Art for the Ages, and each is predictable in its own way. I preferred We Are Marshall. Though it's based on real events, there are still stock characters -- but most of them are well acted and some well written. The movie tries to do justice to, and quite obviously believes in, such qualities as courage, determination, perseverance, and generosity. Art School Confidential wouldn't dream of messing with such stuff. There is nothing whatever redeeming about either the school, or the artist's life to which its pupils aspire. It's sophomorically cynical. Emotionally and philosophically, it's a one-note song.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cloning isn't Enough

My husband of the ever-active intellect (aka Hoosier Gadfly) pointed out something that was obvious once he came up with it -- but I've never heard it discussed before. If you want to make an exact genetic replica of someone, start with the same biochemical building blocks that that person started with, it isn't enough just to clone 'em. You need identical mitochondrial DNA. He suggested inserting the regular (I forget what to call it) DNA in an egg from the person's mother's female line.

That could make it more difficult to clone people who've been gone a while, even if their DNA is somehow preserved. I guess one has to plan ahead and preserve an appropriate egg as well. . . .

stories, books, songs that helped shape me/you/anyone

Here's a meme, if anyone wants it: What stories, books, or songs had such an influence on you that they helped form who you are?

One story that made such a difference for me: well, I can't remember the title or author. Great. I'll update if I figure out either. The story was science fiction. The main character was a man who was mildly obsessed with the notion of being able to live in one's ideal world. He'd seen an ad claiming that such a process existed. He kept thinking about checking it out -- but the wife would give him a chore, or the boy had a ball game, or -- and so on.

The story ends when he wakes up -- from that life -- and is asked if his time in his ideal world was satisfactory. He answers that it was, very -- and asks to be notified if it becomes possible to make the transfer permanent. Then he hands over his payment -- a salami and some wire, I think -- and goes out to pick his way through the post-apocalyptic rubblescape to his bit of shelter, hoping to get there before dark.

The idea that ordinary life is good enough to be someone's dreamt-of ideal has never left me. I was quite tickled when a fairly recent country song -- "Another Day in Paradise" -- took up the same theme. (If an annoying pop-up ad with audio pops up, my apologies -- it did once,but not the second time I tried the link.)