Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

What Good Management Looks Like

Everybody's already blogged about the leaked Rumsfeld memo, but here's my two cents. This memo is nothing to be ashamed of. It is exactly the kind of thing a good executive sends out to his people every once in a while. Amazingly enough, if you want to keep getting good ideas and focus from folks, you might want to ask the basic questions more than once and see if better answers have emerged. It's the management version of an examination of conscience. Are we really doing the job? The best way we can? What aren't we doing that we should? As long as people know the management really wants to hear the answers to those questions and will act upon them, it's entirely healthy and helpful to ask.

The memo has been spun as damaging, but actually is highly reassuring -- one more piece of proof that TPTB know what they're doing and are good at it. Typically, the media don't see it that way -- which is one more proof that the media are out of touch with normal life. Ignore 'em.

"De Vermis"

There's a new sonnet by John Ford (the sf writer) over on Electrolite. Check it out.

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days --
Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke.
The universe winds down. That's how it's made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you'll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

(Though to be totally nitpicky, the Lovecraft imaginary book title they're referencing was "De Vermiis", IIRC.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Terri Lives!

I'll admit I didn't have enough faith on this one. I kept praying, but frankly, I was sure the bill wouldn't pass the Florida Senate. I didn't turn on the computer last night after my tutoring was done, because I didn't want to know.

The bill passed last afternoon! Terri was moved to a hospital. Initially her food and water were obstructed by Mr. Schiavo's threats of a lawsuit, but the wily Florida legislature had anticipated that and given everyone involved in putting the stay into place a free pass on getting sued. Terri is bound to be a very sick puppy right now, with all the kidney and system damage from being starved, cut off from water, and drugged. But keep praying. God has already performed one miracle through Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida House and Senate, and He's kept Terri alive for thirteen years. I'm betting He's not going to take Terri just yet. She's got more work to do.

Mark Shea suggested we write Mr. Bush and thank him. I did so. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Governor,

Not to clog your email boxes or anything, but I just _had_ to drop you a line. You did the right thing! I appreciate the problem you had with not using your power in a way which would put the government's nose into the tent and establish a bad precedent. But you and the Florida legislature came through, balancing a bad judicial decision in exactly the way our founding fathers intended. It was a textbook in civics, practical politics and compassion, and a class act by all. You rock.

Today I feel just that little bit safer. If I should get knocked on the head tomorrow (God forbid), maybe people will put a little thought into not killing me for not being my old self. Maybe they'll take a moment to see what I can do and how I can live instead of just thinking of what I'm not. And as a person with many disabled friends and acquaintances -- some physically, some mentally, some both -- I feel a little more confident that some perceived lack of "quality of life" will not become their death sentence.

Obviously, this is not the end of Terri's road; and equally obviously, we all have a long way to go in fighting the culture of death that is sapping the strength of our country. But this was a truly important step, particularly for Terri and her family. She is alive today because of what you and your honorable colleagues did yesterday. You have done what government is supposed to do -- protect life and liberty.

You are like the old story of the man walking along the beach after a storm, putting live seashells back into the sea. Somebody told him what he was doing was silly, since he couldn't save every creature out there. The man stopped, looked at the little shell in his hand, tossed it into the ocean, and said, "I saved this one."

I'm sure you'll get a lot of criticism for this, but frankly, it'll be mostly from the kinds of folks you'd rather have as enemies than friends. (Especially friends at your bedside when you're helpless. Yuugh.) Keep you chin up and know you have earned the respect of decent people throughout Florida, the US
and the world. We will not forget this in the years to come.

God bless and keep you, and your staff (who probably did a lot of work over this!) too.

Maureen O'Brien
Dayton, Ohio

Democracy works. God answers prayers. What a wonderful world this is.