They say Cancerians are procrastinators, and that certainly fits me. Iíve been intending to start posting short pieces for the last couple of years, gently nudged from time to time by master Webmistress Bowness, who designed my Website. But the argument for not posting is the same as the argument for avoiding writing in general Ė thereís too much verbiage out there already. Who needs more? And, perhaps more to the point, who needs more distractions? There are a million ways to kill time, and eventually you can find them all, without even trying very hard.
Two weeks ago, for instance, they began selling The New York Times
at the local grocery store. Heathcote is not even a small town; itís two hours to the nearest big city, and we canít get high-speed. So of course I signed up immediately. Then, being of Scottish descent, I wondered how I could justify spending a buck fifty a day for the thing, not to mention the time reading it and trying to work through the crossword each day. But justifying the expense turned out to be easy: for a buck fifty, you get access to millions of bucks worth of not too shabby reporting and writing. Sure, they occasionally screw up: one Times reporter turned out to be a conduit for disinformation from Washington, another made his stories up, but neither of them is working there any more. And sure,there is a ton of stuff Iíd never read.
But weíre living in a world where everything is connected to everything else, eventually, and itís worth a buck fifty a day for the illusion, at least, of being connected. Iíve been happy to pass a couple of hours a day reading about the seamier side of life along Indiaís interstate highways, or learning how proceeds from the illegal sale of Iraqís looted antiquities go to finance terrorism, or reading about Bill Clinton in Montreal, skating down the middle of the global warming controversy. Iíve enjoyed the acid rants of Maureen Dowd, back from her book tour, and the musings of Verlyn Klinkenborg, whose first book immortalized a pub in Buffalo. Iíve learned that "Hollywoodís first black superstar," Stepin Fetchit, was more than just a 20th-century Uncle Tom. And what a thrill to read that our gal in New York, Louise Arbour, in her capacity as the UN high commissioner for human rights, had the guts to point out the obvious, that some governments are "watering down the definition of torture, claiming that terrorism means established rules do not apply any more." She went on to say that "an illegal interrogation technique [read Ďtortureí] remains illegal whatever new description a government might wish to give it." The US ambassador to the UN, John R. Bolton, blasted her and said she ought to concentrate on "human rights problems that exist in the world today," but Kofi Annan stood behind her. As far as I know, the little dust-up went unremarked in the Canadian newspapers.
So far, then, Iím getting my moneyís worth.