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Friday, August 15, 2003
The lights went out at about 4:10 PMand then they were back on again. They flickered again: two banks of fluorescent lights were on, but another was out. My PC rebooted. I was at the College and I was on the phone with one of my faculty, in the Albany area, and the line went dead. I called him back while my PC restarted and he said that his power was out in Saratoga. That is strange, I said, because the power went out here, too, but was now back on. We hung up and then my PC rebooted again. A maintenance man came in to ask if he could turn off my AC window unit because the power was fluctuating and turning it off would keep the unit from burning up. As he left my office, the lights flickered again and then all the power was off. The hallways were lit only by emergency lights on battery power. This was about 4:20 PM. Ten minutes later I decided to head for home. At the bottom of the hill, workman who were renovating new student housing were outside the building on scaffolding, staring at silent Skilsaws. The traffic lights worked in Herkimer, but I took the Higby Road route through rural landscape and didn't reach traffic again until Utica. No traffic lights worked there, but we all approached the intersections like 4-way stops and that seemed to work without incident. I pulled up at home and the neighbors were outside talking about the power outage. I stayed in the car a few minutes with air-conditioning and the only radio station still in operation; Lara came down to sit in the car with me. The power was out all over the northeast US, they said, from Ottawa to New York City, New Jersey and out to Ohio, Michigan, and including Toronto, Detroit, and Cleveland in the wide path of darkness. There was no reason to think that terrorists had anything to do with it.
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
There is something very exciting about the recall election underway in California. It is not the outrageous cost (estimated at $66 million) or the chance that Gov. Gray Davis might really be recalled: it is the extraordinary number of candidates on the ballot. With 131 already confirmed for the October 7 ballot, this election highlights the wide plurality of interest groups vying for political position. Alas, I predict, it will also underscore the failure of our election system to accommodate anything other than a ho-hum two-party slate of candidates.
Monday, August 11, 2003
There is a difference between genuine redemptionbeing freed from sin and the consequences of sinand the mere feeling of redemption, a sensation of freedom achieved by purchasing one's self-worth through something other than Christ. Perhaps it is a Western cultural phenomenon that one can be "redeemed" (i.e., feel redeemed) through art, literature, odd sexual expression, a successful career, wealthI guess the list is very long. Is this not unlike the Western obsession for taste? The food is appealing, and it smells and tastes good, but it might not be healthy for you. It can have all the feeling of healthy food, even though it is not at all nutritious.
Sunday, August 10, 2003
We value many things. Some things we value because they are useful to usthey increase our property, fill our barns, satisfy our prospects, or serve as means to ends. We value houses because they shelter us; we value clothes because they cover our nakedness; we value automobiles because they get us to and from work, labor from which we derive money to buy homes, clothes, and food for our bodies and families. Some things we value simply because they excite in us an "aesthetic attitude." Some such things, exciting in us an aesthetic attitude, attract us or cause us to flee. What is beautiful we are attracted to; what is ugly is repugnant to us and repels us.