Wednesday, February 5 2003
Writing is a tricky business and occasionally, when writing the way I drive through flat Midwestern states, I manage to stick my foot in my mouth. I usually don't know this until someone quotes me something I wrote and I'm horrified by the callous emotions or lack of social finesse. Nonetheless, it's a lot easier to be tactful when writing than it is when speaking. This is a good thing, since any missteps made while speaking disperse immediately into the winds, sometimes having only been heard by strangers.
Today I caught myself making a subtle verbal misstep when dealing with a client. He was telling me how he'd slipped and fallen on the ice. He's a big man and it must have hurt him. But the question I immediately asked was "Were you alright?" Instead, of course, I should have used the more empathetic present tense and asked "Are you alright?" This is something that would have come effortlessly to someone as socially skilled as Gretchen. To me, though, sometimes socializing is a struggle. Indeed, I think my social skills have deteriorated since 1998, when I entered into monogamy and a profession of computer programming, both of which set low premiums on social skills.
I try not to link too much to Salon, since if you don't read Salon it's probably because you can't. While I'm on the subject of intellectual superiority, pump your smart head up by reading a Salon article about how terribly confused Americans are with this whole terrorism thing. Oh dear me, Saddam, Osama, evil? It's ever so complicated and I'm really confused! But that new George Bush, why he's such a straight-talking uniter/non-divider, I'm sure everything is under control with him!
This leads me to a point I need to make about press coverage of Colin Powell's "case" as presented to the UN Security Counsel today. It wasn't the most interesting thing in the world to listen to, but at the time I was spackling and then waiting for the goopy stuff to dry. First of all, if you believe that those supposed "intercepted Iraqi CB broadcasts" weren't actually made in a Washington studio using the voices of taxi drivers, you might also be interested in a pile of scrap metal I have on Staten Island. Then there's the supposed "tie" Saddam's regime has to the al Qaida fugitive going by the name Abu Musab Zarqawi. But Colin Powell and few in the press bother to mention that Zarqawi's base of operations, though in Iraq, is in a part that Saddam does not actually control. This is like saying Fidel Castro has a "tie" to the American military because of the presence of the Guantanamo naval base on the southern coast of Cuba. But, as already implied, it's not to the administration's advantage to make anything clear. If the truth falls to its death and Americans stay ignorant enough to support an invasion of Iraq, Karl Rove's mission is accomplished. What's depressing is what a poor truth-saving safety net the media has turned out to be.
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