Brief Vocabulary Lesson

24 May 2001

Ahh, the sweet sounds of spring. Tims are chirping, Heathers are seems a shame to stay inside on such a day. And yet some of us seem to be in need of a lesson. Today we're going to learn a new vocabulary word: independent. Can everybody say "independent?" If you can, you are evidently not a member of the Associated Press.

For those of you who don't follow the politics in the American Senate, one of the Republicans has switched his affiliation to independent, giving the Democrats one more Senator than the Republicans. But from the way it's been reported, you would think that the Democrats now have two more Senators than the Republicans. "Jeffords, a moderate, would vote with the Democrats from now on," says our front-page article. Then why did he switch to independent instead of to Democrat? And when did voting stop being a matter of choice and start being a matter of affiliation?

I know that the political parties control a large part of our political system. But think it through. Independent. There are lots of ways to look at any political question. And if you're an independent, you don't automatically have to filter it through party lines. Senator Jeffords has not committed to any kind of partisan stance at all.

Hey, wait! If you're not an independent, you still don't have to filter it through party lines! You can still vote as you see fit!

This may mean that life is not a sporting event--that you do not pick one team and cheer for them, right or wrong, because They're Your Team. Amazing.

Radical notions like these, heaven only knows what they could do.

Well. I don't have any theories today (mark it on the calendar!), but I do have a helpful hint that I've used for years, thanks to Rachel. The hint is: if you have a song stuck in your head, sing it in the manner of Bob Dylan, at least in your head. If it's a Bob Dylan song, William Shatner's voice should do the trick. I've been having a problem today. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles are warring with The Four Tops for possession of my mental soundtrack. This is not good. I just get one song out of my head and another one takes its place. The Bob Dylan trick is only working one at a time. If you have any tricks to suggest, I'd appreciate hearing them. In the meantime, I'm going to try putting on some Ben Folds Five and see if that helps.

I'm feeling better than I was yesterday, but I'm still shaky and weak. So me and J. G. Ballard are going to curl up on the couch, I think, and I'm going to work on novels in little bits, because I have some scenes that need writing. I love that feeling. Have a good Thursday.

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