A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Monthly Archives: October 2006

Freddy and Fredericka (a short review)

I’ve just finished Mark Helprin’s picaresque novel Freddy and Fredericka. It’s a good book that could have been a great book–or, perhaps, a pretty good book that could have been a good book–with better editing. It’s conceit is wonderfully ludicrous: Freddy and Fredericka, the Prince and Princess of Wales, (based on Charles and Diana) are set the quest to reacquire the United States for the British Empire. They are parachuted into New Jersey under cover of darkness and face a number of American perils and adventures: fighting off a biker gang, traveling down Twain’s Mississippi, burgling modern art from the nouveau riche, tramping on freight trains. At its best, it’s a modern take on the human cost of the royal quest, reminding me of White’s Once and Future King. At its worst, it has too many “Who’s on first” routines (My father, who’s sane… You say your father’s Hussein?, etc.) and funny names (Lord Psnake, Dewey Knott, Lady Boylinghotte, etc.). Helprin has that storyteller’s way which can convert the impossibility of the plot into an advantage. Most (not all) of their adventures, and the overall quest itself, makes sense in the world Helprin creates. If there were a divine right of kings, this is the sort of adventure that might befall them.
Worth a read, now available in a Penguin trade cover edition.

Seth's fun with lasers

Check out Seth’s fun with lasers post, and be sure to click on the pictures. Maybe not the coolest thing ever (that would be recursion), but pretty cool none the less.

Stand-up defeat

Dick Cheney: Keep in mind that — I think, Gen. Casey made this point this morning in his briefing — we’ve never been defeated in a stand-up fight in Iraq in over three years.

Wikipedia: Cheney was of military age and a supporter of the Vietnam War but he did not serve in the war, applying for and receiving five draft deferments.

Internet search: “winning battles” “losing the war” Vietnam

Commentary: Those in power who cannot remember the past condemn others to repeat it. (with apologies to Santayana)

Sarah Vowell at Dogwood

Sarah Vowell spoke at the Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival tonight. She read from her books for about half the time, and took questions the other half–about 45 minutes each. I enjoyed her most when she was slightly off script while reading–making side comments of various sorts about the topic at hand. I’d just finished reading Assassination Vacation on the plane back from vacation (her generally delightful book about the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley as well as their assassinators).

One point she made that I want to ponder: the president makes an oath “to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,” but Bush has been gutting various Constitutional notions in the name of safety.

The trees on the way to Dowagiac were beautiful. Dowagiac itself seems like a thriving small town; its middle school (where the talk was held) is very fine. And Dowagiac has its own soil series (but so does Kalamazoo).

The Child of Grace at the Infinite Café

This is a sermon I preached at the Church of the Sojourners, October 15, 2006, with kind thanks to the Linda, Mark, Carolyn and Katie for singing with The Child of Grace with me.

HTML format; text format.

The Powerset Blogstorm

We way cool. We
loved school. We

Work late. We
Code straight. We

Plugged in. We
Bloggin. We

Balloon. We
Show soon.

(with apologies to G. Brooks).

White and nerdy

You are 52% white and nerdy.
How White and Nerdy Are You?

(At least I only took a white and nerdy quiz; didn’t make it up.)

A visit up north

Bess and I made a quickie visit “up north” to see two of my brothers and their families. Here are a few pictures from our visit to Ed’s house.

Ed and new chipper

Ed just bought a pretty cool chipper–he does a lot of part time work cutting down trees, and chipping them.

Davie on firetruck

Even cooler, Ed bought an old firetruck from the Baldwin fire department. He hopes to put a pick on it to get up higher in the trees. That’s my nephew Davie on top.
Eddie looking down from truck

A closer view on Davie (click on image for a larger view)–he’s as cute as Ed was when he was a little boy.

It was a glorious fall day. Ed cut up the last watermelon from the garden. We had good conversations with family–Ed, Amy, Davie; Dave and Joanie. (I forgot to get any pictures at Dave and Joanie’s house). The fall colors were nice, and the Tigers beat the Yankees to win the AL division series.

Sadists who torture, and those who command them

Fred Clark has a provocative article, Dirty work, that makes an interesting point about people who do the ‘dirty work’ of torture, such as our American agents who engage in tortuous activities such as waterboarding. First, he notes that these people, at the end of the day, must enjoy their work, and thus are worthy of being called sadists, sociopaths, sexual perverts or worse. (This reminds me of Miss Hardcastle in Lewis’s That Hideous Strength).

But he also notes that their superiors have to either wretchedly compartmentalize their beliefs and actions, or actually share in the sadistic pleasures of torture–and he names names, and makes suggestions.

Because we have (theoretically) a military under elected, civilian control, I must note that the final supervisors of U.S. torturers are the people of the U.S.–that is, Fred Clark, you, me.

Upgrading from buggy iTunes 7.0.x to a working iTunes 6.0.5 on the Mac

ITunes 7.0.x for the Mac, at least, is very, very buggy. Here are instructions for reverting to iTunes 6.0.5, based on instructions found in various places on the web. ITunes 7.0.x hasn’t worked for me at all for more than 10 minutes since I installed it. The 7.0.1 release did not fix any of the problems that I was having.
Note that these instructions will lose any changes you’ve made since upgrading to iTunes 7.0.x. Use these instructions at your own risk.

  1. Deauthorize iTunes 7 for any purchases made
  2. Download iTunes 6.0.5 installer. I got mine from Apple’s download center, but it appears to be gone now. FileHippo seems to have it: http://www.filehippo.com/download_itunes/?1249
  3. Place iTunes 7 application in the Trash
  4. Place the file  /Library/Receipts/iTunesX.pkg in the Trash. (there’s another file there, iTunes.pkg. You can (should?) leave it alone).
  5. Run the iTunes 6 installer.
  6. Place the file Music/iTunes/iTunes Library file in the Trash
  7. Duplicate the most recent copy of backed up iTunes Library files in Music/iTunes/Previous iTunes Libraries (it will be something like ‘iTunes Library 2006-09-14’).
  8. Rename this file ‘iTunes Library’ and put it in the Music/iTunes folder
  9. Run iTunes 6, reauthorize any purchases.
  10. Vow never to buy anything more from the iTunes store–it’s ridiculous that Apple’s buggy software could result in one’s not being able to play music one’s purchased from Apple.

Can you tell which step I did not do?