Areas of Unrest
25 March 2001 - There's Always More to the Story
QOTD: "From the largest to the smallest, happiness and usefulness are largely found in the same souls, and the joy of life is won in its deepest and truest sense only by those who have not shirked life's burdens." - Theodore Roosevelt
Reading: Georges Duby (editor), A History of Private Life, Volume II: Revelations of the Medieval World
Listening to: nothing at the moment
Everybody is busily congratulating the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for holding on to its own generating capacity, making it a net producer of electricity, able to sell power to the rest of the state and keeping those of us within city limits free from fears of rolling blackouts. The truth of the matter, though, is that the DWP didn't really plan this. They're just so inefficient that they hadn't managed to get themselves deregulated. They're the bureaucratic equivalent of a guy I knew at M.I.T. who put off taking a dreaded required course until his senior year, in hopes that the requirement would go away. The problem with that as a strategy for life is that most of the time, you end up having to face the requirement anyway. The DWP may have lucked out but my friend did have to take the class.
While I'm still talking about the news, there was an interesting editorial in the L.A. Times a week or two ago about school shootings. The author pointed out that "if the U.S.'s overall murder rate was as low as that in high schools, America would be safer from homicide than Sweden." That is only part of the picture, though. What is the homicide rate in high schools in Sweden? The author's other point was stronger. Namely, the current spate of school shootings isn't as new as people are making it sound. He cites several cases in the 1970's, that allegedly idyllic era when I was in high school. I do perceive guns as being more available now, but that's largely because I wouldn't have had a clue as to where to get a gun when I was a teenager.
Moving on to the personal, my genealogical dabbling continued in force. I've had a nice chatty email exchange with one of my new-found Atlanta cousins, ordered some records from Poland (the project that puts up the vital records database also translates the records request into Polish for you, which is pretty incredible), found out who my father lived with when he was in high school (not who I'd thought but I'm not sure of the connection yet), and gotten a phone number for my grandfather's first cousin. Most of this has come about because of the generosity of people on the Internet. For example, a guy I don't know in Detroit looked up an address for me in a reverse directory to find out who my father lived with. I wish people realized that this was the real story of what the Internet is about, rather than focusing on all the failed companies that would have failed in the same way in the so-called traditional economy.
Along the same lines, I got email this week from two people I hadn't spoken to in over twenty years. I was talking about this with the Bards and Barry suggested I consider doing a series of Internet stories, making a full evening out of them. It's an interesting idea, but I have to file it in the long-term projects category.
Finally, I went to see "QED" today, at the Taper downtown. The play had originally been titled "Tuva or Bust" and was based, in part, on Ralph Leighton's book of that name. They made it more general, though, and I'm not sure it was entirely successful. Alan Alda was very good as Richard Feynman and the play was interesting and entertaining, but it wasn't entirely focused. I came away thinking that they weren't entirely sure what story it was they were trying to tell.
Copyright 2001 Miriam H. Nadel
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