July 4th, 2009

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Happy 4th of July!

Today I am reminded that just the fact America exists is an accomplishment:

Remarks of President Barack Obama's Weekly Address
Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born - we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible. We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known - a government of, by, and for the people.


Among the things I love about President Obama:
* He knows history and can use it to illustrate his points.
* He speaks in an uplifting manner, even in the face of great challenges, without denying that the challenges are indeed great. He makes overcoming those challenges feel possible.
* He doesn't just claim that America is great; he reminds us of what made America great, so that we may do more of it.

We have come a long way, through events bitter and sweet, shameful and glorious. It is a mighty accomplishment. America is not perfect, but that's understandable, because our country is a grand experiment and always has been. Even when we make mistakes, there is always another chance to do better, always the hope that next time we'll get it right. After all, the Universe is a patient teacher who keeps presenting tests until they are passed. The process may be frustrating but in the end it makes for stronger people and nations. Just the fact that America is still here is something to celebrate.

As a bard, part of my duty is to serve as a watchdog. I relay information; I point out important matters that are being ignored; I mock the arrogant and criticize the incompetent. I also praise the clever, the dutiful, and the industrious. Although there are times when America disappoints, angers, or embarrasses me there are still many times when it makes me proud. It is good to be reminded of the latter.

My country, right or wrong:
If right, to be kept right.
If wrong, to be made right.
-- Carl Schurz


I would also like to thank all the veterans, living and dead, who helped make it possible for America to manifest and to survive. All hail!

Today it is raining here, so our planned trip to see the local fireworks show has been abandoned. (Sitting on wet grass would not be fun, and parking the car on wet lawn would be downright risky.) So here's a bit of red, white, and blue from my yard instead:

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Results of Fishbowl Topic Poll

Thank you all for participating. The most popular choices in the recent topic poll were:
Stages of Life
Cultures of the World
Folk Tales
Horror (Shapeshifters)
Languages

I have slated them into the upcoming months thusly:
August: Stages of Life
September: Folk Tales
October: Horror (Shapeshifters)
November: Languages
December: Cultures of the World

The original proposal for languages suggested setting a variant subtopic (having been inspired by last year's "Languages, Linguists & Linguistics" topic) but didn't include any ideas for subtopics. What kind of subtopics under the very broad umbrella of "languages" might appeal to you?
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Poem: Time's Keeper

This poem came from the June 9, 2009 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from jolantru and sponsored by janetmiles.


Time’s Keeper


Dust motes dance down the sunbeams
to settle softly on the floor,
collecting a fine film in the corners.

Dust speckles on the pale page-edges of books
were once paper themselves,
frayed into freedom.

Dust flecks on cabinets
have perhaps blown in through open windows
and settled somewhere welcoming.

Dust blankets on old furniture
lie thick as gray velvet,
protecting impressions of years gone by.

Dust streaks on a white car tell the tale
of where it has been, the colors of beach sand
and the earth by the sides of the roads.

Dust is time’s keeper,
accountant of hours unspent at labor:
apply to assistant, Memory,
for those records.