kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This War

Our President and maximum leader generates a lot of reaction, from unadulterated love to unadulterated hostility. I know some people who think he--virtually by definition--can do no wrong, and others who blame him for everything from childhood obesity to avian flu.

The reaction he generates from me is anger and scorn. This is an administration that chose to invade Iraq with the intent of deposing Sadaam Hussein, imposing democracy, and providing an example to the other Middle East countries (presumably these never include Israel) of the joys of elections, the democratic process, and freedom.

Sadaam Hussein was deposed, and I know few who weep because of it. Is he the most monstrous leader on earth? Probably not. Did he deserve to be taken out? Probably. The question is this: at what cost?

It is starting to look more and more as if "democracy" is not going to be the result of the US invasion, regardless of how one construes that very ambiguous word (although ambiguous, it can somehow be regarded as univocally referring in Administration soundbites). It looks more and more likely that the result will be the metamorphosis of a low-level civil war, which is what is presently occurring, into a full-blown civil war, between Sunnis and Shi'ites. The Kurds may well try to sit this one out, and everything I've read, heard, or seen, is that it is simply a matter of time until the Kurds declare an independent Kurdistan. This gets Turkey and Syria involved, with whatever destabilizing effects one might imagine.

The Sunnis have economic and military support in the region, of course, and dominate the central part of the country; the Shi'ia have the majority of the population, evidently dominate the security forces that are being developed and trained by the US, and have economic, military, and political support next door in Iran. This is a recipe for bloodshed, vindictiveness, and payback that we may shudder at, although--as I suggest below--Americans will hear relatively little about it.

The anger I have for this admininstration comes from it having placed the US in an intractable dilemma. We can't leave and we can't stay, and we certainly can't do both or neither. Thus we can't finesse our way through the horns of this dilemma, and seizing either horn is neither politically nor militarily viable. The current attempt to speed up training and responsibility of the domestic Iraqi security forces and work with an (unstated but genuine) timetable for withdrawal seems to be the best of a range of fundamentally miserable options. Miserable for American troops, miserable for Bush's political support (and for those who depend upon him, the numbers of which are decreasing rapidly), but especially miserable for the Iraqis. When one hears Iraqis say they were better off under Sadaam, that may be hyperbole, sour grapes, or 20-20 hindsight; but it says something about how Iraqis view the US presence and what it has accomplished. But the current report of Shi'ites--whether officially part of the Iraq security forces, or "rogue elements"--executing (and torturing) hundreds of Sunnis (and reports of white phosphorus being used in this war against civilians)--don't inspire much confidence about what happens in Iraq when the US forces are gone.

Shi'ite Death Squads?

White Phosphorus

A standard trope that has been employed over the last year or so is to compare the Iraqi invasion with the Viet Nam war. Critics talk about a "quagmire," while supporters of the invasion go to great lengths to point out differences. Ann Coulter, mystic historian and anorexic fantasist, compares the death toll in Iraq to that of the American Civil War (or War Between the States), WWII, and Viet Nam. The US lost 60,000 men and women in Viet Nam for what, even according to its architects, was a failed idea followed by a failed plan. Since we've only lost 2,000+ in Iraq, the current war is not like Viet Nam. I wonder if she remembers that this originally was part of a Global War on Terror?

More telling, perhaps, is that the journalistic coverage and official administration responses sound almost verbatim as if they were coming out of the Columbus Dispatch and Nixon White House of the late '60s, although the word "traitor" is thrown about with even more aplomb than before. I've been told any number of times that critics of the war are traitors--"gutless traitors," according to La Coultera's current diatribe--and that the media are to blame for failures to acheive victory. The inimitable Loofah king, Bill O'Reilly, in a fascinating tete-á-tete with Newt Gingrich last night, also declared that anyone who dared suggest that the war was going badly, that we should get out, and that invading in the first place wasn't a boffo idea, was guilty not just of treason, but also of hating Bush so much that he or she desired an American defeat (and, by implication, more American deaths).

La Coultera and the Nospinmeister thus make it clear: support the President, or be a traitor. Even Gingrich was willing to make room still for the First Amendment, particularly given that treason is a capital crime. Healthy debate and all, huff huff.

Finally, the parallel comes home when we see that the Bush administration is going to adopt precisely the Nixonian strategy: declare victory and get out. I think there is simply no way sufficient political will--or moral will--exists for the US occupation to continue as is, or even for the US to dominate Iraq for more than another 18 months or so. Nor should it. We will be told, of course, that our mission was indeed accomplished, that the Iraqis are better off than before, and we will hear less and less about what is going on within Iraq; that information will be available, but one will have to look harder to find it (when was the last time you heard a detailed report on conditions in Afghanistan?). Those who insist on letting us know what shape Iraq is in, of course, especially if the pessimistic scenarios are correct, will be accused of being reprehensible fifth-columnists, trying to undermine the tremendous accomplishments of the Bush administration.

As was clear in Viet Nam, we aren't making things better so we better see how we can minimize (or minify) the damage and then start to develop a strategy whereby the problems we inflicted on the Iraqis can be addressed and ameliorated. And we better start doing it pretty fucking soon.

Are things getting better?

Sadly, if Seymour Hersh is right, the President is not only convinced that he is right, he refuses to listen to anyone who disagrees or even challenges his worldview. (Do we really have to wait for Bob Woodward to redeem himself in 2009 with his book Bush the Bubble Boy: Mom, Intellectual Courage, and the Dangers of Political Solipsism, where we get the anecdotes, á la The Final Days, about temper tantrums, religious weirdness, and inexplicably intransigient dogmatism?)

Oct. 11, 2000, in the second debate of the election campaign, Bush criticized the invasion of Somalia (Mogadishu, specifically) because Clinton's original mission had "changed into a nation-building mission, and that's where the mission went wrong." "The mission was changed, and as a result, our nation paid a price," Bush continued. "And so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building."

If he's right--your call--I think he might go a little farther now, and say this:

I don't think our troops ought to be used for carrying out an ill-conceived plan, based not just on faulty intelligence but contrary to that intelligence in many cases, and from sources the US intelligence community (and others) regarded as fundamentally flawed, with no particularly clear idea of what will constitute success, and generating more problems than are solved. As my Daddy might say, the first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.

Mr. Bush: stop digging.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Honorable Allan Bloom

In spite of all her objections to various things I've said, or been alleged to have said or implied, our friend and fellow llama devotée Ms. Cokesbury suggested I say some things about my dealings with Allan Bloom, famous for his book The Closing of the American Mind. So today's entry is about that. This may also satisfy another reader (who also never leaves comments), an old high school friend we can call "Frodo," who has all sorts of half-baked ideas about the deeper meanings of these entries.

At least he knows good barbecue.

Anyway, an entry that fails to meet my exacting once a week schedule. I'll be in Detroit next Tuesday, so this will have to do. Have a nice Thanksgiving.

When I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I was only certain about a couple of things: Chicago was a hell of a lot colder than Dallas, and I was ignorant and approaching stupid. The philosophy department was a scary place, so while most of my classes were taken there, I looked around for other things, including the Committee on Social Thought, the Committee on Ideas and Methods, and even took a couple of courses in Greek, thinking I might try a degree in Classics. (The whole scam I attempted, to transfer to UT Austin for a year to do lots of Greek, and then come back to Chicago for the PhD, is a whole 'nother story.) In any case, this landed me in Bloom's class on "Literature and Political Philosophy." To be perfectly honest, at this point in my intellectual career I was at least as interested in sex, baseball, drinking beer, and playing basketball, as I was in understanding either the new theory of reference or Aristotle's theory of the mind. But I really like Jonathan Swift, and Bloom was reading Gulliver's Travels, so I signed up. (The cool thing at Chicago was that it was easy to take all sorts of classes outside of one's degree, which is how I ended up in a course on Kant's Critique of Judgement taught by the incandescently brilliant Charles Wegener, and in a couple of courses of Paul Ricoeur's on narratology, and even one on Greek taught by James Redfield.)

I thought this was a class that would be full of insight; I'd sort of heard about Bloom, and the reading list was great. I even attended regularly.

Here's how it would go. Bloom would walk in, sputter and stutter and say some stuff that wasn't either terribly articulate or coherent, and which seemed to have very little to do with the text or its issues, regardless of how broadly one wishes to construe the word "interpret." There were cynics like me, who thought this was kind of a waste of time, and then there were the Bloom acolytes, who just ate this shit up with a spoon. They were convinced they were in the presence of genius, and somehow thought it might rub off on them (cognitive osmosis, as it were.)

I talked to one of these "geniuses" later, who found out I was taking a course on Rawls' A Theory of Justice with Christine Korsgaard (who is cool, by the way). His entire comment, full of erudition and wisdom, was to dismiss this text as "a big green book, not worth reading or even wondering about." This guy is probably pulling down 6 figures telling Richard Mellon Scaife that he is just huge.

Anyway, so this doesn't go on too long, I'd just about had it with this poseur, who didn't seem to understand his own lectures, and didn't seem to have much to say in any case. Then one day, just as I was about ready to drop the course, Bloom pointed out that "no interesting political literature is being published in the Western Hemisphere today." (This would have been around 1982.) While I'm pretty timid in such settings, this little bit of ludicrous foolishness forced me to raise my hand and ask about Borges and Neruda (and one--if one weren't big Al--could immediately name 500 authors in the Western Hemisphere writing interesting political (black, Hispanic, feminist, Asian-American, magical realism, queer, etc. etc.) literature). Bloom--the great intellect, the mind with an unquenchable thirst for wisdom, etc.--said he'd never read Neruda, and that the very point of Borges was to be apolitical. Now one can argue about the latter, even though later I learned that this was simply a classic Straussian bit of logical legerdemain (and is wholly question begging, anyway); the former was something he should have been embarrassed to admit in public. That was when I realized I was wasting my time listening to this overrated pompous ass, and took off for good. He also had informed us that we weren't going to have time to get to the Swift text anyway.

I took one more course with him, in a weird sort of way. He and Saul Bellow were teaching a very secret course on Proust's A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, only for those who were let in on the secret (a friend in the Divinity School hipped me to it). There were about eight of us in there, and Bellow would read a passage--en Français, sans doute--and then Bloom would comment. Bellow seemed to spend most of his time making fun of what Bloom said, which I (again) found to be mere sound, signifying nothing. This went on for a few weeks; then one day after class I was talking to one of the more erudite members of the class, who told me the only reason he was there was to see if they were going to discuss the passage where Marcel discovers his mentor Baron de Charlus enjoying a bit of the ol' S & M, being tied up to a bed and beaten by a servant.

I thought that while this might be a sufficient reason for that guy, it wasn't for me. So I never went back to that class.

Anyway, this is going on far too long for something that no one reads. Suffice it to say that I was never impressed by Bloom's intellect (and found Bellow's Ravelstein almost unreadable; while I have my issues with Bellow, that particular one was unique with this text), I thought his translation of Émile was okay (especially given the competition), but all his notes were in the Pléiade edition, and his edition made it seem to me that he was passing them off as his own.

Ryle has a nice review of Bloom's translation of The Republic in The New York Review of Books. You have to pay $3.00 for it, but here's a link to Bloom's response, and if you want to go the original, this will also work:


You don't have to be a particularly good reader to see Bloom's typical strategy in this piece; a couple of droll witticisms (that are mostly beside the point), a few ad hominem attacks on Gilbert Ryle, and a couple of remarks of substance that are really quite minor but which clearly offended the saintly Professor Bloom, who seems almost to soil himself at the possibility that his humble offering to the Temple of Wisdom may itself not be perfect. If I were to respond following Bloom's strategy, I might say something a bit smarmy and small-minded, such as
Perhaps Professor Bloom is offended by the possiblity that everyone knows Ryle's characterization of Cartesian res cogitans as the "ghost in the machine," and is simply envious of the fact that when no one remembers Bloom, they will remember Ryle. To draw a distinction--something always near and dear to the analytic philosopher's heart--perhaps Bloom should recognize the salient difference between being smart and affecting the trappings (club tie, nervous tic, polyglot but jejune erudition) of being smart. In a philosophical pissing match between Bloom and Ryle, Ryle wins before Bloom gets unzipped.

But it is the intellectual support he provided to some folks I find pretty obnoxious that is both politically unappetizing and somewhat peculiar, given Bloom's sexual orientation and his political supporters' views of what Mr. Smithers calls his "alternate lifestyle." In short, many of those on the right seem to hate queers, and Bloom was a queer; so why is he offering them cover? And if you've gotten this far, you deserve to know this little story: I used to work at the faculty club at the University of Chicago--lots of stories there--and one of my best friends (a gay deadhead lawyer now in Los Angeles) also worked there, on the 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift. One night Bloom came in with a young (and my friend said young) man, and they proceeded upstairs. Shortly thereafter, the young man came sprinting down the stairs, hair ruffled, shirt unbuttoned, and seeming to be in a general disarray physically and psychologically. Bloom came puffing down a bit later, also in a hurry, and headed out the doors, evidently after him. Neither was seen the rest of the night. Perhaps the young man objected to Bloom's views on Machievelli's Discorsi?

If you want to read something about how politics makes strange bedfellows, as well as a bit of an overview of Bellow's Doktorvater Leo Strauss, try this:


If you can track down Robert Paul Wolff's review of The Closing of the American Mind (published in Academe, and republished in some anthologies), that is also highly recommended. I couldn't find a link to it.

In short, there is a reason an old girlfriend of mine referred to him as "Swamp Thing."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Logorrheic or laconic?

Ms. Cokesbury--there's an entry about her below--has returned to my e-mail folder, after a brief absence. (I may have offended her; one never knows.) For those who didn't read the other entry, or who want to know, or who are here to read about llamas, Ms. Cokesbury is a former student of mine--smart, "interesting," paranoid, provocative, funny, combative, a bit weird, and feisty: all good things, to my way of thinking.

We have had an on-going e-mail correspondence for a year or so. Here's an exemplary exchange:

Me: Hi.
Ms. C.: Do you believe in God? Why or why not?
Me: Well, it's a complicated issue.
Ms. C.: You have to answer in 10 words or less. Do you think toothbrushes are more important than shoes?
Me: Well, it's a complicated issue.
Ms. C.: Why do you have to make things difficult? You philosophers always make things so complicated. If you had to choose to let one of your children be kidnapped, who would you choose, and why? Answer with a name, a reason, and no more than 12 words.

So it's difficult, you see. She has a unique perspective on things, which I like to hear about, but usually she raises points that are, well, complicated. The easiest thing would be to have lunch or a beer (or both: inclusive disjunction) and an actual conversation, but she prefers to remain disembodied and wholly a cybercipher. That's ok with me, but it is a bit off-putting then to be told that I have to answer questions within a medium that is wholly unsuited for answering such questions.

I have, of course, actually seen Ms. Cokesbury in person, since she was a student of mine and helped me run a course at UD called "The First Year Experience." (If you translate the name of the course into Latin, and then google it, the first hit is a dictionary entry for "bureaucratic waste of everyone's time except for bored administrators who should really have something better to do than torture the faculty." The second hit is worse.)

I have other friends, however, who I have never seen before; a couple of people who used to post at Ann.coulter.com, and a Norwegian philosopher named Lars--imagine that, a Norwegian named "Lars"!

He's a philosopher, and wrote a good book on the philosophy of boredom called "The Philosophy of Boredom." He is a good philosopher, shows up--I've heard--on Norwegian TV, was in a band called "Chromosome Damage," and knows a hell of a lot about Kant, Wittgenstein, and the philosophy of language (he's for it, I think). You should buy his book, if only because of the length of this link:


There are a few others, from random Kant and music list-servs, but the more general thing is that such relationships, I find, can be both very satisfying and yet a little odd. I'm not used to knowing someone well whom I've never seen or talked to in person (although I did seduce a woman once, thousands of years ago, almost entirely through the mail; that probably is a story better left untold). Yet one obviously enough can get to know another extremely well in such circumstances, even though a) the person may be a gargoyle or b) the person may be lying about any and all personal details. (Of course, the person also knows these caveats apply to me, as well.)

In any case, I enjoy the friendship with Ms. Cokesbury, as fundamentally bizarre as it is, and in spite of whatever bizarre things she likes to attribute to me or my belief set.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


There are a variety of statements of "The Peter Principle"; Wikpedia's is as good as any (with links!):

The Peter Principle is a theory originated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter. It states that successful members of a hierarchical organization are eventually promoted to their highest level of competence, after which further promotion raises them to a level just beyond their highest level of competence. The term is a pun on Sigmund Freud's theory of the pleasure principle.

My current question is whether our President, George W. Bush, is an exemplar or a counterexample of this principle.

Clearly, he keeps getting promoted, particularly if one considers "promotion" an extension of opportunities, wealth, connections, and choices. (Hence, on this view, a mediocre high school student who gets into Yale qualifies as having been "promoted.")

There are a number of biographies available on W., short and long. One might think the Ivins and Dubose Bushwhacked! is a bit tendentious, although both followed W.'s career closely, and understand Texas politics and history, which is important in this context. Be that as it may, certain aspects of W.'s biography are clear enough:

a) academic career: mediocre student at all levels (Yale, Harvard MBA; he was denied admission to the University of Texas law school)

b) military career: . . . well, let's say it threatens the reputations of neither Blackjack Pershing nor Smedley Butler

c) business career: let's see, there's Arbusto, and Harken, and the Texas Rangers. The first was a failure, bought out by the latter--feel free to consider SEC filings and stock sales in all of this--and somehow W. comes out with enough money to buy into the Rangers, then sell that share at a generous profit. The Rangers went from a bad team to an adequate team back to a bad team while W. was running the show; perhaps the highlight was trading Alex Rodgriguez. The Rangers now feature prominently as one of the teams that has waited the longest of any franchise in the MLB for a championship. (They used to get sort of close, until the Yankees invariably polished them off, with ease. Call it "Sherman's Revenge.")

d) political career, Texas: lost a Congressional race, then won one; became Governor of Texas (and in Texas, the governor isn't exactly the most powerful person around) by beating Ann Richards in a pretty dirty campaign, aided by lots of connections, lots of dough, and the Texas political scene in general. It may not have hurt that Grandpa was a U.S. Senator, and that Dad was President, although one may wish to dismiss such things as standard advantages.

e) political career, US: became President by a slim margin (5-4 in the Supreme Court is a pretty small margin), in an election that was marked by a remarkably inept Democratic candidate, serious irregularities in Florida, and some rather dubious coverage by the "liberal" media that most accounts indicate favored W. (there are a number of studies quantifying "favorable" and "unfavorable" things said about W. and Gore; W. is ahead on every one I've seen). The most damning account of the Court's decision I've read is Vincent Bugliosi's The Betrayal of America; all told, obviously enough a "mandate."

W. then became President again, by a less slim margin--although it wasn't exactly Johnson v. Goldwater or Reagan v. Mondale, and it isn't hard to beat a 5-4 margin--based on a campaign grounded in a war on terrorism, which is a war sort of like the War on Poverty, with an opponent that is difficult to identify. This allowed a campaign to take someone who actually went to Viet Nam and make him a Jane Fonda-lovin', medal-throwin', Purple Heart fakin' liberal commie fifth-columnist, while the guy who was drunk and avoiding onerous medical exams to be the genuine martial hero, sort of like Audie Murphy with an MBA and a smirk.

This is quite a curriculum vitae; as far as I can tell, W. has been promoted at every level, in spite of having accomplished virtually nothing (you'll have to ask those better informed than I what W. did in Texas, other than lie about his support for a patient bill of rights. But make sure, if talking with a W. supporter, to ask about his bold initiatives on immigration!), beyond some tax cuts--and we can argue about the wisdom of those some other time--and the overthrow of Sadaam Hussein.

I'd like to think that one of the corollaries of the Peter Principle is that incompetence is exposed, whether through lies, obfuscations, and confusions, or by making embarrassing appointments (FEMA? SCOTUS?) or having high-ranking officials indicted, or saying something kind of, well, stupid. Just in the last week, W. has told us

1) Were he to encounter Hugo Chavez (on the worse than Hitler! list, with a bullet), he would be polite, because the American people expect their President to be a "polite person"

2) The CIA should be exempt from laws prohibiting torture--even though "we don't engage in torture"--because such things "make it possible for us to do our job . . . more possible."

I know they teach logic at Yale; maybe W. needs a refresher? It is unclear to me why, if we don't engage in torture, we need to have an agency exempt from being prohibited to engage in torture. It is also entirely unclear to me what metaphysical conceit underlies the modal distinction between "possible" and "more possible."

The Bush administration seems to me to finally have been exposed as thoroughly incompetent; not venal, or evil, but incompetent. The problem is, of course, that incompetence may well lead to results that are, objectively, venal or evil; do you really care if you starve to death whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally?

W. will, soon enough, go his merry way; I'm predicting his post-presidency career will resemble that of Gerald Ford's, with lots of vacation time and lots of remuneration from sitting on corporate boards.

The tragedy about all of this is that the US may well not be able to afford to elect another candidate who so strongly confirms the Peter Principle, or elect another candidate who is such a salient counterexample. And I don't see any particular reason to be optimistic that the current US political system is providing an alternative to such a scenario.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sex with Harriet Miers

Just kidding. Really.

One of the great things--to my mind, one of the two greatest things (the other being the enhanced ability to avoid talking on the telephone)--about the Internet is tracking down former acquaintances, girlfriends (and/or boyfriends), lovers, enemies, fishing buddies, priests, or whoever. I've had pretty good success at finding former roommates from graduate school; one guy teaches in New York, one guy teaches in Florida, one is a liaison between the gay community and the healthcare community in Los Angeles; one is a PR flack in NYC, one is some kind of consultant, also in NYC.

I've missed finding a few; there was a woman in college that I almost literally lost my mind over; we actually had two dates, then she told me she couldn't see me anymore because it was clear she made me too nervous. So I got really drunk one night and called her to apologize for thinking she was too good looking. Needless to say, she's hiding from me, somewhere in Texas I think; as is another woman, who I guess got married and changed her name. There is also my old junior high girlfriend, who I did find and e-mailed a very innocuous note (to wit: "I just wrote to say 'hi.' Hi."). She, I'm pretty sure, thinks I'm still a maniac, and didn't write back. Little does she know that I am a maniac, but a much different kind than I used to be. Given the big fat loser she married, I think maybe this is part of a consistent pattern on her part of lacking curiosity and/or being willing to challenge, even minimally, our bourgeois notions of decorum.

I just like to find out what happened to them, really. This isn't a midlife crisis; anyway, if I have one of those, I figure it will involve a new banjo. (I believe, however, that my wife--who doesn't seem to read this [but if she does, hi honey!] thinks the last guitar I bought--yes, a Collings D2H that completely kicks ass--was my midlife crisis, and so thinks we're all done with that.)

One of the most gratifying reunions was with a woman who was a year ahead of me in high school, who I shall call "Fumiko" for no particularly good reason. She was really quite beautiful, very smart, and very, well, interesting. (Yes, I know--because I tell my students--that the least interesting word in the English language is "interesting.") She just had a different approach to things, seemed curious in ways that few of our fellow students were, and was an artist (she's turned out to be a fine artist, by the way.) Needless to say, I was madly in love with her, but so unbelievably timid and intimidated by her that I could barely talk to her, let alone ask her out; possibly it was the age difference, which between jr. and sr. in high school can seem vast. On the other hand, I did end up going out for a fairly longish time with another woman a year ahead of me, who we can call the Lutheran. The Lutheran was also kind of good looking, and definitely smart as hell; but the whole conservative Missouri Synod religious nonsense kind of interfered, plus she also thought I was kind of a maniac. While being a maniac was what attracted her to me, it also prevented us from ever being all that serious about each other. The sex stuff wasn't happening either; perhaps I was saving myself for Harriet Miers?

In any case, to wrap up this boring entry, which is really written almost solely for myself (and Fumiko, who will probably read this), she turns out to be married with kids, 50, and--according to her--weighs more than she wishes and has wrinkles. Of course, the image I have of her remains a gorgeous 17 year old, ready to take on the world (if not, necessarily, St. Louis). We have talked a fair amount over the last couple of months; she is very wise, and although she denies it, seems very grounded. Her life sounds quite fascinating; she lives in a very cool part of the US, she's lived in other places around the world, including Sri Lanka, and she still follows (although probably not with sufficient intensity) the University of Kansas basketball team. The poignant moment was when she told me that if I had asked her out in high school, I would have been--her words--the "main event." Personally, the whole thing reminds me of quantum mechanics.

The moral of the story, for my non-readers, is that it is fun to go Googling for old acquaintances and see--as Robert Frost might put it--how they have lived without you. Some may blow you off, and some may write and say "You still owe me $12.73, you bastard"; but some might, with the passing of the years, find the whole relationship/friendship worth pursuing and, with that perspective, of remarkable value.