53 Brentwood Blog

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Talk the talk, swim the swim

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- A 7-year-old boy has become one of the youngest persons to swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco's Aquatic Park.

Braxton Bilbrey is a second-grader from Glendale, Arizona, who has completed several short-scale youth triathlons.

Bilbrey was accompanied on the estimated 1.4-mile swim by his coach, two other swimmers and a Coast Guard boat.

As he reached shore, Braxton was besieged by reporters. He told them he considered his accomplishment "pretty cool."

Asked what the hardest part was, he replied: "The swimming."

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Condoleezza Rice at Boston College? I quit.

By Steve Almond | May 12, 2006

An open letter to William P. Leahy, SJ, president of Boston College.

DEAR Father Leahy,

I am writing to resign my post as an adjunct professor of English at Boston College.

I am doing so -- after five years at BC, and with tremendous regret -- as a direct result of your decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the commencement speaker at this year's graduation.

Many members of the faculty and student body already have voiced their objection to the invitation, arguing that Rice's actions as secretary of state are inconsistent with the broader humanistic values of the university and the Catholic and Jesuit traditions from which those values derive.

But I am not writing this letter simply because of an objection to the war against Iraq. My concern is more fundamental. Simply put, Rice is a liar.

She has lied to the American people knowingly, repeatedly, often
extravagantly over the past five years, in an effort to justify a
pathologically misguided foreign policy.

The public record of her deceits is extensive. During the ramp-up to the Iraq war, she made 29 false or misleading public statements
concerning Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda, according to a congressional investigation by the House Committee on Government Reform.

To cite one example:

In an effort to build the case for war, then-National Security Adviser Rice repeatedly asserted that Iraq was pursuing a nuclear weapon, and specifically seeking uranium in Africa.

In July of 2003, after these claims were disproved, Rice said: ''Now
if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence . . . those
doubts were not communicated to the president, the vice president, or to me."

Rice's own deputy, Stephen Hadley, later admitted that the CIA had sent her a memo eight months earlier warning against the use of this claim.

In the three years since the war began, Rice has continued to
misrepresent or simply ignore the truth about our deadly adventure in Iraq.

Like the president whom she serves so faithfully, she refuses to
recognize her errors or the tragic consequences of those errors to the young soldiers and civilians dying in Iraq. She is a diplomat whose
central allegiance is not to the democratic cause of this nation, but absolute power.

This is the woman to whom you will be bestowing an honorary degree, along with the privilege of addressing the graduating class of 2006.

It is this last notion I find most reprehensible: that Boston College
would entrust to Rice the role of moral exemplar.

To be clear: I am not questioning her intellectual gifts or academic
accomplishments. Nor her potentially inspiring role as a powerful
woman of color.

But these are not the factors by which a commencement speaker should
be judged. It is the content of one's character that matters here --
the reverence for truth and knowledge that Boston College purports to

Rice does not personify these values; she repudiates them. Whatever
inspiring rhetoric she might present to the graduating class, her
actions as a citizen and politician tell a different story.

Honestly, Father Leahy, what lessons do you expect her to impart to
impressionable seniors?

That hard work in the corporate sector might gain them a spot on the board of Chevron? That they, too, might someday have an oil tanker named after them? That it is acceptable to lie to the American people for political gain?

Given the widespread objection to inviting Rice, I would like to think you will rescind the offer. But that is clearly not going to happen.

Like the administration in Washington, you appear too proud to admit to your mistake. Instead, you will mouth a bunch of platitudes, all of which boil down to: You don't want to lose face.

In this sense, you leave me no choice.

I cannot, in good conscience, exhort my students to pursue truth and knowledge, then collect a paycheck from an institution that displays such flagrant disregard for both.

I would like to apologize to my students and prospective students. I would also urge them to investigate the words and actions of Rice, and to exercise their own First Amendment rights at her speech.

Steve Almond is the author of the story collections ''The Evil B. B.
Chow" and ''My Life in Heavy Metal."

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Talk the talk, walk the walk.

FatManWalking is at the end of his journey.

He's now in NYC.

If you want to show your support of Steve by walking into New York city with him, then please meet at the George Washington Bridge pedestrian walkway, today, May 9th, at 5:30 pm.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I don't want to be world's richest man

In news that will either gladden or enrage non-billionaires everywhere, Bill Gates has revealed that he would rather not be the world's richest man. "I wish I wasn't ... There's nothing good that comes out of that," the co-founder of Microsoft told a conference of online advertising executives in Redmond, Washington, where the software company has its headquarters. "You get more visibility as a result of it."

Because of the scale of his wealth, it has been said that it would not be worth his while to bend down to pick up $10,000 lying in the street, though the claim does not stand up to much mathematical scrutiny. He appeared to be objecting to being number one on the list, rather than being well-off.

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Friday May 5, 2006
The Guardian

Monday, May 01, 2006

An athletic body with muscles I could never love.

Let me add something about my dad that I can say only now that he's dead. He was fat. In my family, this fact was always diplomatically diminished with: "He's not fat, he's robust."
[...] for a long time I believed he was pregnant.

I liked him just as he was, fat or robust, whatever one wants to call it. People who talked to him about dieting irritated me - I didn't want less of him. He was soft to embrace, and there was a lot of him. I wanted him a lot, and I wanted all of him.

Most of all, I remember my dad in bed - he loved being in bed. He stayed in bed all day long; he didn't want to waste energy. You can call him lazy, but I still connect physical laziness to the kind of spiritual and intellectual wisdom my father possessed. If someone strikes me as lazy, my first reaction is to listen carefully to what he says for some possible great truth. As an adult, I like a "lazy body" look in bed. An athletic body with muscles I could never love.

In the Name of the Father; the Daughter and the Holy Spirits: Remembering Roberto Rossellini by Isabella Rossellini.