samedi 29 août 2009

Les Nubiens à Seattle

Les Nubiens, je les aime bien. Les Nubiens, c’est Hélène et Célia, deux chanteuses franco-camerounaises. Hier soir, elles nous ont chanté quelques unes de leurs chansons—connues et moins connues. Temperature rising, très connue comme chanson. Que le mot soit perle, pareil, mais comme beaucoup j’ai pensé tout de suite à Henri Salvador, car elles ont interprété cette chanson avec lui. Il est mort à 91 ans il y a un an. Il chantait jusqu’au dernier souffle. Ce que j'aimais chez lui le plus était sa façon de rire. Essayez de le trouver par youtube.

J’étais un peu déçue quand Hélène a décidé de nous parler politique. Non pas parce que je ne suis pas d’accord avec elle – je le suis pour l’essentiel – mais simplement parce que là, au Triple Door de Seattle, elle prêchait aux convertis. Sauf la dame avec qui nous partagions notre table, qui est du parti politique de George W. Bush. Mais elle n’écoutait pas les propos de la Belle Hélène. Elle rêvait de son deuxième « date » avec quelqu’un qu’elle a rencontré par C’est au moins ce qu’elle nous a dit.

Il parait que Les Nubiens ont assisté à une « convention » d’Obama (je pense que LN voulait dire « caucus » mais peu import) et sont devenues les fans purs et durs de lui. D'accord, elles en sont fières et ont raison de l’être. Mais de là à nous casser les oreilles avec une monoloque sur la réforme de notre système de santé pendant dix minutes.... Franchement, j’aurais préféré une chanson de plus.

Mais bon, ce n’était pas grave et la soirée n’était pas gâchée pour autant. Les Nubiens sont très agréables à voir sur scène. Elles sont douces,décontractées, naturelles. Hélène est une belle femme bien enrobée, et elle assume sa volupté totalement. Elle ne se cache pas derrière des robes fluides ; elle porte des vêtements moulants et très colorés. Célia, plus petite et avec un corps plus sec, a un sourire très apaisant et rêveur. Je me demandais comment elle faisait pour danser avec ses talons et comme si elle m’entendait, elle les a enlevé pour finir la soirée pieds nus. Quant à nous, on a fini la soirée à Palace Kitchen, un de nos restaurants préférés. Une assiette de chicken wings et la salade « Beacon Hill » (roquette, betteraves, pignons, un peu de fromage de chèvre, sauce citronnée) pour moi.

vendredi 28 août 2009

Cat Power warms up the crowd for Queen Chrissie

It was one of those perfect summer days yesterday, in Seattle that is. Temperature in the mid-80's, not a cloud in the sky. It stands to reason that it was a perfect night for an outdoor concert; and it was. Our friend Dahli had the terrific idea of buying reserved seats (20 dollars more than general admission at Marymoor and worth every penny), so we had the bizarre, wonderful, slightly strange experience of having Cat Power wander into our row as she wailed and grimaced and communed with inner voices. Cat Power is known for her quirky stage presence. Before she stopped drinking, she was known to wander into the audience and then right out the door. The drunk red-haired woman in the row in front of ours, when she wasn't lap-dancing for her boyfriend, was taking photos. She made me look at every single one and then promised to send all of them to me by email. She added that she was really drunk, which was totally unnecessary because totally obvious. I'm still waiting for those photos, damn it. In the meantime, here's what Cat Power wailing and grabbing her head with her hands and looking forlorn yet mischevious reminded me of: Edvard Munch, The Scream.

Then along came Chrissie Hynde and goddamn that bitch kicks ass. It is hard to believe she is 57 going on 58. I guess that militant vegan lifestyle keeps you lean and mean. She said "fuck" more times in one night than I do in one month. Well, in one week then. And she sang Angel of the Morning, the old Merilee Rush song written by Chip Taylor. Merilee is a Seattle native, and Dahli said she thinks she married some rich old guy and raises horses somewhere on the eastside. Maybe she was in the audience last night.

More on Chrissie later, but here she is. Don't take her photo or she'll stomp on you, chew you up and then spit you out. - PETA, rock and roll star protest at Salt Lake City McDonald's - PETA, rock and roll star protest at Salt Lake City McDonald's

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mercredi 26 août 2009

From nuts to sluts

This is really just a pretext to mention one of my favorite online resources:

It was mentioned in the NY Times because of a recent entry on normal eating, but the website - as its name suggests - treats every subject related to human behavior and psychology under the sun. From nuts to sluts, so to speak. The articles are mostly written by mental health professionals, and deal with topics ranging from social networking (Facebook) to finding love in the modern world ( and coping with aging parents or loved ones with eating disorders. Having realized that everyone in the world is battle-scarred and yet somehow still game, the editors have wisely chosen and editorial slant that I would describe as no-nonsense, non-judgemental, solutions-oriented pragmatism.

One of Egon Schiele's self-portraits. Just because...

Sorry, for some reason my insert link feature only works in my titles. I've got my best technical people working round the clock on a fix.

dimanche 23 août 2009

Hurricane Bill?

What's with that? Bill? Seriously? Not even William, or Guillermo or Guillaume or Wilhelm or Wilhelmina...

Photo credit: Anthony Smedile/The Press of Atlantic City via Associated Press

Actually, if you click on the title you will know why. And if you're too lazy to do that, all you need to know is that this is the full list of approved hurricane names for this season:
• Ana
• Bill
• Claudette
• Danny
• Erika
• Fred
• Grace
• Henri
• Ida
• Joaquin
• Kate
• Larry
• Mindy
• Nicholas
• Odette
• Peter
• Rose
• Sam
• Teresa
• Victor
• Wanda

Astute readers will note the alphabetical order, the choice of one name from nearly every letter of the alphabet and the fact that these names are generally short. You may also have noticed the alternance between typically male and female names. I can't help but notice that these names are pretty - um - not fashionable. I get the distinct feeling that the organization responsible for The Names is not at all interested in recent child naming trends. Two of my favorite girl names are on the list, and they are very old-fashioned names. Rose and Grace. But they'll come back into fashion, just you wait. All it may take is a hurricane or two.

In the comments section to an article about Hurricane Bill, a poster named jiminy cricket made this comment: "Can you lengthen the name to Hurricane Bill O'Reilly? You know, lots of noise and commotion, huffing and puffing, with its greatest influence being in the South with waning impact as its influence moves north."

vendredi 21 août 2009

Facebook mon amour


What kind of Facebook bore are you? What kind of Facebook bores really get your goat? There are at least 12 types to choose from. In my opinion and empirical experience, multiple answers are not only possible, they are likely (link to cnn article by clicking on the title):

1. Let me tell you every detail of my day bore
2. Self Promoter
3. Friend Padder
4. Town Crier
5. TMIer
6. Bad Grammarian (or Speller)
7. Sympathy Baiter
8. Lurker
9. Crank
10. Paparazzo
11. Maddening Obscurist
12. Chronic Inviter

My personal pet peeve is number 10, which describes people who post photos of me that I haven't authorized or even seen. How about a brief email or phone call of the "do you mind if I post this photo of you" type? I have learned to stop grinding my teeth over the examples of bad grammar and spelling, on Facebook and elsewhere. I was afraid of wearing my teeth down into stubs and then being forced to eat through a straw. TMIers bug me too, and I see them as a version of the let me tell you every detail of my day bores. Does the world really need to know that you are looking forward to your workout? Or that you just had a tall soy latte? One exception for me is my cousin Susie. She is a recent Facebook user and posts these wonderful photos of where she is, always with her feet visible in the photo. I love that. And no comments, just the photos with her feet in them. Showing rather than telling. She gets it.

But truly, the most annoying Facebook bores are the ones who spend all day taking STUPID quizzes, playing STUPID games, and sending STUPID presents that just clutter up my Facebook page. I have been told that this problem can be fixed by changing some settings (asking for less information about so-and-so), but I haven't been able to figure out how to do this yet. Sometimes I find myself avoiding my own Facebook home page because I can't stand the clutter left by these STUPID quizzes, presents and games. Stop asking me to engage in food fights! Stop sending me magic Easter eggs! I generally ignore Facebook requests of any kind.

It's a bit like telephone solicitation. A couple of years ago, I signed up via a website to put an end to it. And this has mostly worked. The only problem is that the person who had our phone number before we did seems to have skipped town, leaving a number of creditors in the lurch. And now, three years later, we routinely field calls for Jim and Susan Lxxxxxxxx. (Why am I being so nice to them and not revealing their name? After all, they thought nothing of leaving behind a mountain of debt that I am now routinely pestered about.)

Wouldn't it be nice if, on Facebook, you could sign up for a service that would block these mindless requests for/information about quizzes, presents and games? It would be even better if any old ninny was not encouraged - yes, encouraged! - to make your own quizzes and inflict them on the world. No wonder there are so many quizzes in broken English! The Japanese are making half of them. The application of choice is called “Make Your Own Quizz” (the key word is spelled wrong, of course). This is from the Facebook app page. Read it and weep:

“Making a Quiz has never been easier! Making a Facebook app has never been so fast! Make your own quizzes and turn them into your own real Facebook applications!”

I hope the global recession ends very soon and people go back to at least looking busy at work.

I am so lazy. I finally checked out the little tab that says "hide" on the side of each news feed post and discovered I can rid myself forever of feeds about food fights, Easter eggs and jewels. Quizzies? Gone! Testes? Too!

lundi 17 août 2009

Lance who?

Evelyn Stevens left Wall Street and investment banking for Italy and a run at a career in cycling

MSN reposted an article that appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal, about Evelyn Stevens, age 26, who recently discovered that she has a talent for riding a bicycle and who just may become the next sensation in the less flashy world of women's cycling (click on blog entry title for link to WSJ article). Female professional athletes often do not get the attention that their male counterparts command, and tend to toil away in obscurity while the men get the endorsements and television time.

Stevens worked in investment banking until recently, when she decided to devote herself to cycling full-time. She was working for Lehmann Brothers, which famously collapsed last September. It sounds like she chose the right time to shift gears. A graduate of Dartmouth, she is no stranger to competition and excelled there on the women's tennis team.

Stevens even looks like she would be a natural at cycling. When I looked at her photo, I immediately thought of the Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo, arguably the greatest female cyclist in the history of the sport. At 50, Longo is still kicking asses and taking names. Like Stevens, Jeannie Longo has the perfect body type for high-performance cycling. Also like Stevens, she was an accomplished athlete in another sport before she turned to cycling. In the case of Longo, it was skiing. Not surprising, since she was born in the French Alps. Her longevity as a professional athlete is truly amazing, however. Why all the fuss about Lance Armstrong, who is a mere 37 years old? Jeannie won her first world title in 1984, before her most recent rivals were even born! She has won 69 national and international titles. So far.

La Reine Jeannie is almost 51 years old

samedi 15 août 2009

Neko meets her match

The law of series is alive and well. Since Neko joined us in February of 2008 and until last Monday, we had never come across another shiz-tsu/pug. But as we were leaving Le Pichet restaurant on 1st and Virginia with an out-of-town visitor last Monday, a woman stopped us to ask what kind of dog ours was. She thought Neko looked like her 17-month old rescue dog and showed us a photo. Hers was clearly a Putz like ours. She took Neko's photo and went away happy in the knowledge that a mystery had been solved.

Today I took Neko on her favorite walk on Alki. It's a long one, from the water taxi parking lot to Duke's and back. But there are three spots with water and dog bowls, and lots of cool grass on the non-waterfront side. So we love it and show our love at least three times a week. Today we met Lily, a 10-month old Putz. I saw her from a distance and knew it had to be. She and her owner are from Normandy Park. Luckily I had my exploding iPhone, so I got a couple of photos. I tried to get one of Neko and Lily side by side, but they refused to cooperate. But Neko had an extra bounce in her step when we left. She knew Lily was kin.

Neko at ten months

vendredi 14 août 2009

Baez en Ville

We drove to the Woodland Park Zoo under thunderclouds, pouring rain and even lightning. It didn't look promising for an outdoor concert. But as we rushed through Woodland Park with our Chinese footstools and borrowed umbrellas, the sky began to brighten and the rain turned to mist. We heard Joan Baez before we saw her; her voice has mellowed with age but is still power and purity. And she still does that vibrato thing.

She was relaxed and funny on-stage, telling anecdotes between songs and even one dirty joke about the benefits of charm school ("I learned to say 'that's nice instead of fuck you'" is the punchline). She did a solo, acoustic guitar version of Diamonds and Rust that was haunting and lovely. She doesn't get enough credit for her guitar-playing, in my opinion. Dylan is one of the few who has noted that she is the most gifted of her peers in this department. She did a couple Dylan songs (Forever Young and Don't Think Twice), and even delighted the crowd with her nasally Dylan imitation. Like Joan, the crowd was grey-haired for the most part. There were noticeably fewer small children in attendance than for the previous Zoo Tunes show I went to (Cowboy Junkies on July 22), probably because of the inclement weather.

The concert ended with Baez's cover of The Band's The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down.

Her most recent album was produced by Steve Earle, one of my favorite songwriters and also a great guitarist and singer. She did a couple of Earle's songs, including the one where he begs Woody Guthrie to come back (Christmas in Washington).

Among her musicians were a talented guy who played everything from the piano to the violin, and her son Gabriel, who is her percussionist.

May you stay Forever Young, Joan.

Note: The title of the blog entry refers to a headline in Libération that was published when Joan Baez came to Paris years ago to give a concert. The term "baise-en-ville" is slang for a small overnight bag that contains everything one might need to spend the night away from home. Here's an example of its use that is given in Cellard-Rey, 1980: "Avec salle de bains? me demande la dame de la réception. Il n'y a plus qu'en France qu'une telle alternative est offerte! (...) Elle me file le 12. Un groom me monte mon petit baise-en-ville avec une mine dégoûtée" (SAN ANTONIO, Passez-moi la Joconde, 1954).
Baiser means to kiss in French, but is also a vulgar term that means to fuck. There is a huge and critical difference between "donner un baiser" et "baiser".

mercredi 12 août 2009

Exploding apples

Ten days ago, the Times reported that the Apple iPod suddenly blew up in the hands of its owner, in response to which Apple tried to buy her silence. According to the young woman, the device starting heating up in her hand and, after about 30 seconds of this, it began emitting smoke and then exploded in the air!

Now an 18-year old kid in France (click on blog entry title for link to the article in Le Monde) has apparently experienced something similar with his girlfriend's iPhone, the screen of which exploded, hitting him in the eye. They boy's mom is considering filing a formal complaint against Apple.

According to Marie-Dominique Kolega, the mother, who is a physician, the eye injury was not serious. But the explosion was scary. The iPhone started crackling, like it was frying bacon or something. Then, the screen cracked, sending tiny shards into the air.

Mom, understandably shaken up by this incident, contacted the customer service department of Apple in France. The initial reaction was incredulity. Mom had this to say: "Que Apple fasse celui qui n'est au courant de rien, qui lave plus blanc que blanc parce qu'ils sont Apple, ça me dépasse, je trouve cela inadmissible !" a-t-elle protesté. "Quel fabricant peut prétendre avoir des appareils au-dessus de tout souci mécanique ? Pour Apple, non, ça n'arrive pas, ça n'est pas possible chez eux (...) c'est une honte !" [The fact that Apple pretends not to know a thing about it, and that they're pure as the driven snow just because they're Apple is just totally beyond me. I find that unacceptable... What manufacturer in the world can seriously claim that the malfunction of any of its products is outside the realm of possibility? According to Apple, this never happens, it's not possible at Apple... that's shameful!]

Apple has declined to comment on this latest incident.

Okay, I'm recharging the battery on mine right now. It is sitting two feet away from me. What do I do? Unplug it, turn it off, walk away? I use it to listen to music when I take my walks. It's in a plastic cover. Would that protect me if it exploded? Would I smell the burning plastic before it exploded? Are these incidents related to intensive use? If so, I should be okay. My iPod has never blown up, but it sure acts weird sometimes. Refuses to turn off, makes funny noises. Should iDevices be banned from use in flight until Apple deals with the problem? I don't want to be sitting in the nearest seat when someone's iPhone explodes in midair.

Imagine the lawsuits. Within a week, the major airlines will ban their use or (more likely) issue a disclaimer to the effect that they are not responsible for any third party damage due to exploding hand-held devices used in-flight.

vendredi 7 août 2009

Plus ça change...

Bison futé is seeing red this weekend, which means that lots of people in France are starting their summer holiday and taking to the road. This is one of the many grand départ weekends in France. Yet another day rated "rouge", meaning filled with bouchons (traffic jams) as kilometer after kilometer of drivers from France and elsewhere wait in line, in stop and go traffic, for the privilege of inching along in accordian fashion until they finally reach their holiday destination.

This ritual is such an integral part of getting away (for vacations and long weekends - the so-called ponts) that I wonder if relaxation is even possible unless preceded by it. So excruciating and yet so necessary: hours and hours stuck inside an automobile, with plenty of time to decompress and leave behind the stress of working or not not working, the density of the urban setting, the slow death of the métro-boulot-dodo routine... Rest stops (Aires de repos), restaurants (La Courte Paille!) and service stations filled with people just like you, weary travelers stuck in traffic, paying too much for food eaten out of boredom to break up the sheer monotony of car travel.

But here's a funny thing: I love the monotony of car travel. Which is to say I don't find it monotonous at all. I love to watch the odomotor turn; I love to mentally calculate the speed of the vehicle by reference to the road signage instead of the speedomotor; I love to trace out the route on detailed maps; I love to imagine the lives of the people who live in the small towns off in the distance, away from the freeway. In France, I had a favorite tree. It is still there, I'm sure. It stands alone, majestic, in a field that lies just next to the A10 autoroute. No matter what was going on in my head, I always managed to look out the window just as the car was going past this tree. I always wanted to stop and take a picture of it, but I never did. The next time we go to France, I'm going to get a photo of that tree. I bet there are many people who know exactly which tree I'm talking about.

mardi 4 août 2009

No Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I decided not to display comments on my blog and also to subject them to moderation. I came to this decision after some Nasty Anon (which is practically redundant) left a mean-spirited and ill-tempered comment on my blog entry about the Alliance française. The comment had nothing to do with my blog entry. It was about my supposed "activism" in the alleged "witch hunt" campaign whose aim is to "lynch" Amanda Knox. The comment can only have been made by a very small number of individuals, so Nasty Anon was not being quite as anon as she imagined.

This comment came on the heels of another comment that was sent on to me by a friend. My friend had seen it on the Seattle PI Reader blog run by Candace Dempsey, who is writing a book on the Meredith Kercher murder case. I don't read Candace Dempsey's blog, so I would have missed the comment. The person commenting, who goes by the screen name To Turn To Turn, made a perfectly ludicrous statement about the psychology of people following this case from a colpevisti angle - bolstered by some obviously made-up statistics - and noted that one of the local "activists" in the "anti-Amanda" campaign was someone she had known in graduate school at the University of Washington. There was that word again: activist. Worse, she went on to make an oblique comparison (if I understood correctly - when people make cryptic comments dressed up not to look like idle gossip it is hard to tell) between me and Ann Coulter, which convinced me that she really did not know me in graduate school, a period during which I had spiky short hair and was a Marxist. I started thinking about who in my very small, very male department (1) might have a festering grudge against me and (2) could have morphed into a bitter Catholic who never left Seattle. I came up with (2) after checking out some of her other posts on the Seattle PI. She's really worked up about the Jesuits and the seeming inability of some of their members to keep their members to themselves. I sensed a fervid Catholic behind the rather pompous comments, many of them mean-spirited but dressed up in fancy though rather dull formulations.

I came away convinced that whoever she is, this person did not go to graduate school with me. For one thing, it is really hard to imagine a life so devoid of movement that a grudge from 25 years ago could keep burning. For another, like I said, I was no Ann Coulter. Not by a long shot. However, Catholics do tend to hold grudges for, like, ever, and do tend to become bitter with age, especially if they have not managed to step outside the Church for a bit of fresh air. (So sue me, all you Catholics out there. That's what I think.) Catholicism does not encourage largesse. Catholics tend to be terribly judgemental and terribly concerned about appearances, in spite of their denials. Speaking of denial....

There is also a possible tie-in with the murder case. Seattle suspect Amanda Knox, though she is not Catholic, attended Seattle Prep -- a Catholic high school founded by the Jesuits. It is really no longer a school where one gets a Jesuit education, however, since the faculty is not comprised of priests, let alone those of the Jesuit persuasion. Check out the website; I think there might be a total of two priests teaching there. Knox has been in jail for almost two years now, suspected of playing a role in the brutal murder of her roommate. I gotta believe that for Seattle Prep and for the local Catholic community, this is a big blemish. Seattle Prep has played a significant, but largely behind-the-scenes, role in the effort to get public opinion behind Amanda Knox, mainly by painting the Italian prosecutor as an evil, deluded maniac who hates Americans. It has mostly backfired in America and is viewed as a joke in Italy, the UK and the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, the official arm of the movement (the FOA or Friends of Amanda)has been somewhat successful in shifting the focus from the evidence against Knox to the prosecutor and, as needed, the corrupt and backwards country that they believe Italy to be. This is partly because the FOA is staffed by some influential and media-savvy people: Doug Preston, a best-selling novelist; Anne Bremner, a lawyer for King County cops who has gained some notoriety and a part-time slot as a television legal pundit through her involvement in some high-profile cases (Mary Kay Le Tourneau, anyone? Michael Jackson?); Tom Wright, a former Hollywood director turned producer. They are interested in imposing a particular meta-story on this case and have the media access needed to pull it off. I don't know what drives them.

I have no horse in this race and no role to play. I do not stand to gain financially from it in any way. I am not an activist. And I am neither an "innocentisti" nor a "colpevisti" -- in spite of blogosphere rumors to the contrary. Why do these people bother with me at all? I co-moderate a message board devoted to a discussion of the evidence and the media coverage. I am doing it as a favor to a friend, a very talented true crime blogger named Steve Huff ( He asked me to do it because, for personal and professional reasons, he could no longer do it himself. He chose me because he found me skeptical, aloof, not turned on by the grisly aspects of crime, fair-minded, objective, etc. And I said yes. That's when the trouble began. The board was quickly joined by Amanda Knox's stepfather and a couple of his friends, who proceeded in a rather clumsy way to try and dismantle it in order to put a stop to all discussion. I ended up banning them, for reasons that anyone who is really interested can find out by googling a bit. They discovered my real name, again for reasons that anyone can discover, and quickly began to focus on me: comments about my appearance, my personal life, even my friends. My life was and is an open book. I have a little blog, where I mostly write about subjects that interest me, but occasionally about things that happen in my life. I set it to private when they took a photo from it, blew it up and posted it on the PI website. Then I set it back to public because it is my blog, damn it. I set my facebook page to private when one of them posted an anonymous comment about the breasts of one of my facebook friends. I have left it set to private because my friends deserve no less. Had they stopped there, things would have been fine. But they didn't. Soon I began to see comments about where I live, who I am married to, who I am divorced from, what I smell like, where I shop, my status as a childless woman (they came up with a cute name for me: Barren Shrew), etc. No fact about me was too trivial for twisting and use out of context.

To make a long story short, I filed a complaint with the Seattle Police when my requests for decency were ignored and in fact only served to up the ante. For reasons that anyone who is curious can read on the Internet, I had a good idea who was behind the harassment and the attempts to intimidate. I did some research of my own, aided by some pretty smart people with Internet sleuthing skills I don't have, and my harassers were sloppy on occasion. They left tracks. I gave their names to the investigating officer. The case is ongoing, though I am not holding my breath for a conviction. I just wanted the focus on me to stop. I am not the person I have been painted to be by these morons. Excuse me, but they are hotheaded morons. I am not an activist in some campaign to lynch innocent people. I only moderate a board and my aim is to keep the discussion civil and productive. I don't like falsehoods, whether they are deliberate or not. I believe that the investigation conducted in Italy was in good faith -- though mistakes were made -- and also that there are some troubling questions that must be answered by Knox and her defense team. I believe that if those questions are answered, then she will be cleared of wrongdoing. But I also believe that the trial underway is being conducted transparently and fairly.

So far, most of the questions have not been answered to anyone's satisfaction. Knox's defense team has not done a good job, and her defenders in Seattle have done an even worse job of winning over hearts and minds. Hiring a PR firm so early on was a huge mistake. The PR firm in question has done a horrible job, but then again it has not been helped by members of the family. Chris Mellas seems out of control and angry (see my earlier comments about the blogosphere harassment). He has been a huge liability. Going after people in Seattle because they beg to differ with the strategy of sliming the prosecutor and his country of origin; loudly proclaiming that there is not a shred of evidence instead of patiently rebutting it; calling people who ask legitimate questions retards, shitheads, fucktards, etc. Please pardon me for not wanting to be associated with these tactics or those who employ them. And yes, I know there are one or two people who post on my board who do not mince words and whose statements about the defendent and her family make me wince. I don't agree with them, and I try behind the scenes to temper the tone. But these comments are so few and far between and, more importantly, they are protected under the First Amendment.

I think that what the Knox and Mellas families are going through must be just horrible. It is draining them, financially and emotionally, and it shows. I would not want to be in their shoes and I have no antipathy toward them. No long-standing grudge, no ill will. I don't even know them. But I feel that I am facing an "if you aren't with us you're against us" mindset, and that nothing I might say to introduce nuance will be heard. Nonetheless, I wanted to say it. And I wanted to say that in this magical age of instant communication, people can and apparently do say whatever they want. It is so easy, so easy to be mean, to tell lies, to gossip behind other people's backs, to keep old grudges alive, to give license to your nastiest self. It is so much harder to be fair, to be kind, to see good in others, to debate ideas instead of trashing people.

I think people take the low road and go for the jugular for one simple reason: because it is the easy way. It is so much easier than taking the time to do a self-examination and recognize that what drives judgements and idle gossip about others is resentment --that and insecurity. In this day and age, anyone can vent their anger on the page and hit send. It takes a bit more intelligence and humanity to refrain from doing so.