A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 24 September 2001

No post today.

Thought for the day:

The really idle man gets nowhere. The perpetually busy man does not get much further.

Sir Heneage Ogilvie


Tuesday 25 September 2001

Today is exactly a year since I started my daily writing on this website. In that time there have been almost 25,000 page reads, rather more than I expected. It started as an exercise to get back into the routine of writing -- preparation for my book about The House of Steel, but has become almost a compulsion. On days that I fail to write, I feel a loss. Sharing my thoughts has brought a variety of responses: some of you have felt uplifted, some insulted, some amused... Whatever brings you here, I hope you find more of whatever it is that does during the next twelve months. Thank you readers.


Found in my Inbox:

Published on Saturday, September 22, 2001

Bush's Orwellian Address 
Happy New Year: It's 1984

by Jacob Levich

Seventeen years later than expected, 1984 has arrived. In his address to Congress Thursday, George Bush effectively declared permanent war -- war without temporal or geographic limits; war without clear goals; war against a vaguely defined and constantly shifting enemy. Today it's Al-Qaida; tomorrow it may be Afghanistan; next year, it could be Iraq or Cuba or Chechnya.

No one who was forced to read 1984 in high school could fail to hear a faint bell tinkling. In George Orwell's dreary classic, the totalitarian state of Oceania is perpetually at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia. Although the enemy changes periodically, the war is permanent; its true purpose is to control dissent and sustain dictatorship by nurturing popular fear and hatred. The permanent war undergirds every aspect of Big Brother's authoritarian program, excusing censorship, propaganda, secret police, and privation. In other words, it's terribly convenient.

And conveniently terrible Bush's alarming speech pointed to a shadowy enemy that lurks in more 60 countries, including the US. He announced a policy of using maximum force against any individuals or nations he designates as our enemies, without color of international law, due process, or democratic debate.

He explicitly warned that much of the war will be conducted in secret. He rejected negotiation as a tool of diplomacy. He announced starkly that any country that doesn't knuckle under to US demands will be regarded as an enemy. He heralded the creation of a powerful new cabinet-level police agency called the "Office of Homeland Security." Orwell couldn't have named it better. By turns folksy ("Ya know what?") and chillingly bellicose ("Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists"), Bush stepped comfortably into the role of Big Brother, who needs to be loved as well as feared.

Meanwhile, his administration acted swiftly to realize the governing principles of Oceania: WAR IS PEACE. A reckless war that will likely bring about a deadly cycle of retaliation is being sold to us as the means to guarantee our safety. Meanwhile, we've been instructed to accept the permanent war as a fact of daily life. As the inevitable slaughter of innocents unfolds overseas, we are to "live our lives and hug our children."

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. "Freedom itself is under attack," Bush said, and he's right. Americans are about to lose many of their most cherished liberties in a frenzy of paranoid legislation. The government proposes to tap our phones, read our email and seize our credit card records without court order. It seeks authority to detain and deport immigrants without cause or trial.

It proposes to use foreign agents to spy on American citizens. To save freedom, the warmongers intend to destroy it. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. America's "new war" against terrorism will be fought with unprecedented secrecy, including heavy press restrictions not seen for years, the Pentagon has advised.

Meanwhile, the sorry history of American imperialism - collaboration with terrorists, bloody proxy wars against civilians, forcible replacement of democratic governments with corrupt dictatorships -- is strictly off-limits to mainstream media. Lest it weaken our resolve, we are not to be allowed to understand the reasons underlying the horrifying crimes of September 11.

The defining speech of Bush's presidency points toward an Orwellian future of endless war, expedient lies, and ubiquitous social control. But unlike 1984's doomed protagonist, we've still got plenty of space to maneuver and plenty of ways to resist. It's time to speak and to act. It falls on us now to take to the streets, bearing a clear message for the warmongers: We don't love Big Brother.

Jacob Levich (jlevich@earthlink.net) is a writer, editor, and activist living in Queens, New York.


Thought for the day:

The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.

Samuel Johnson


Wednesday 26 September 2001

Was eaten by snakes...

Thought for the day:



Thursday 27 September 2001

The plumber finally turned up to work on The House of Steel! We are on the home stretch now... about four weeks to go until we move in.

Thought for the day:

Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.

Victor Hugo


Friday 28 September 2001

Another busy day in paradise...

Thought for the day:



Saturday 29 September 2001

The replacement Seagate hard drive I installed last Sunday has died! I am giving up on Seagate. Jerry Pournelle seems to prefer Maxtor. To obtain one of them, I will need to find another dealer. Some of my colleagues in the industry swear by IBM and some swear at them. Thinking there might be heat issues with my hard drives, I installed a chip fan to blow air between them. The Seagate was running at 29C and the IBM runs at 31C, so I don't think heat was the issue.

After four weeks, NEC declare my Spirit cell phone requires me to pay $130 (on top of the $38 diagnosis fee) for it to be fixed. Everybody I talk to is saying there are three choices in reliable cell phones, Nokia, Nokia and Nokia.

Good things are happening though. We have succeeded in obtaining a mortgage on The House of Steel! No need to wait on the little luxuries (like granite bench tops) that will make for a perfect home.

To celebrate, we went to The Republic for a meal and stayed to listen to the music afterward. Phil Manning played an hour long acoustic set of his favourite American Negro blues songs. Then he played his old Fender Strat to accompany Leo De Castro and The Warriors in a rollicking electric blues set. The music was beyond excellent. I have only been to two concerts that were this good, B B King and Eric Clapton, both in 1974.

Thought for the day:

Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid.

Orson Welles


Sunday 30 September 2001

The daffodils are all but gone, the tulips are in full bloom, I'm thinning the apple blossoms, the buds are bursting on the grapevines and the grass I cut earlier in the week has grown 75 mm (3 inches). Yes, it's full-on spring around these parts. Windy, sunny, cloudy, warm and cold by turns. There is precious little in the garden apart from peas, broad beans, garlic, onions and weeds.

The completion of The House of Steel is in sight and already I am feeling the restlessness that accompanies yet another change in this hand-made life of mine. There are plans afoot, but one never knows quite how they will pan out -- we plan for the expected, but the unexpected always comes along to give us pleasant/unpleasant [delete whichever is inapplicable] surprises.

It's easier to be a result of the past than a cause of the future

Thought for the day:

Pressure and stress is the common cold of the psyche.

Andrew Denton


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Jonathan Sturm 2001


Jonathan Sturm 2001