Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Back Again

Returned from Philadelphia with my psyche largely intact. Three of the four interviews went well, I think, though the party line on these things is that "you never know." An interview can appear to go brilliantly and one never hears from those people again, and an interview can go disastrously--vulgarity, arson, gunplay--and you find yourself getting asked for a campus visit. So now all I can do is, in the words of a mentor, "twiddle my thumbs." Oh joy. Nothing like doing nothing to make one feel productive and worth-while. So, time to suck it up and concentrate on my teaching and the fact that my paycheck has become tiny again thanks to my reduced courseload (overworked and adequately paid or lots of free time and a pittance--wow, whatta choice.)

Not a lot on which to pontificate. I'm glad, really, that the U.S. is ponying up the $350 million for disaster relief following the South Asian tsunami. I'm less glad that we stumbled out of the starting gate by trying to low-ball the situation by initially pledging $35 million. At which point, one suspects, all the other nations who were pitching in gave us the look that you get when you state that you think the fact that the homeless are freezing to death is really going to be good for property values. And, seeing this, we said, "Oh! Did we say '35'? Ooops! Silly us! Dropped a digit! We never were good at math! We meant '350'!!! Ha ha ha! Is that better?" Yes, yes it is. And might I suggest that this cataclysm represents one of the best opportunities we have as a nation to do something to recover our shattered public image? That if we go in with our good old American 'can-do' efficiency and selflessness and just pitch in and make it all better and then ride out of town, Lone Ranger-like, before anyone has a chance to thank us, that that will do worlds to make us look less like the lying, brutal a--holes we appear to be in the wake of the Iraq debacle? (On that topic, briefly, let me just say--I would not want to be an Iraqi policeman. Seems like every explosion that goes off in that troubled reigion kills more of them than anyone else. And the fact that people keep signing up for that job, despite the fact that it gives you the life expectancy of a baby duck in an alligator pit, tells you just how desperate the employment situation is over there.) So let's roll up our sleeves and give 'til it hurts and generally Be The Good Guys we tell ourselves we are. Just a thought.


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