Silence at dawn.

Still here; still waiting.  Conventional wisdom, conventional as always, suggested – repeatedly – that second babies come early.  Yesterday was the due date; now the sayers of conventional wisdom are hedging; well, the due date, it could be off by a few days.  How convenient. 


No music today:Dayofsilence_white

Hi, it’s Tim from Pandora,

I’m sorry to say that today Pandora, along with most Internet radio sites, is going off the air in observance of a Day Of Silence. We are doing this to bring to your attention a disastrous turn of events that threatens the existence of Pandora and all of internet radio. We need your help.

Ignoring all rationality and responding only to the lobbying of the RIAA, an arbitration committee in Washington DC has drastically increased the licensing fees Internet radio sites must pay to stream songs. Pandora’s fees will triple, and are retroactive for eighteen months! Left unchanged by Congress, every day will be like today as internet radio sites start shutting down and the music dies.

A bill called the "Internet Radio Equality Act" has already been introduced in both the Senate (S. 1353) and House of Representatives (H.R. 2060) to fix the problem and save Internet radio–and Pandora–from obliteration.

I’d like to ask you to call your Congressional representatives today and ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill. It will only take a few minutes and you can find your Congresspersons and their phone numbers by entering your zip code here.

Your opinion matters to your representatives – so please take just a minute to call.

Visit to continue following the fight to Save Internet Radio.


I know you’d like to know more about David Mitchell’s forthcoming novel


I’d been saving this post – part three – at the bottom of my Reader list for a time when I’d be able to write at length about it, and about the related Silverblatt piece, but kids, that time is not coming anytime soon, so I’m just going to link to them and drop a couple of excerpts, the first from the first link:

The phrase “charmed existence” was coined to describe the childhood of the average suburbanite, i.e., me; all my basic needs were met and most non-basic needs as well.  So it was all the more difficult to put my finger on what was wrong, all those years.  I looked around my middle-class Long Island town and I thought I was just odd.  I didn’t realize I belonged to an entire tribe of people, people who read furiously and deeply, passionate about ideas and their expression. And, like Sontag, I can look back now, and see that it is because there were no models.  Despite the fact that my parents are both highly literate, intelligent people who took me to the ballet, the theatre, to concerts and museums, the zone outside my parents’ jurisdiction was deadening to original thought.  In my high school, as I’m sure is true in every other mediocre high school across the country, you were commended for playing by the rules, reading what you were told to; anyone thinking (or reading) outside the box was left outside the box. We read a little Shakespeare, and that was interesting, and otherwise—Holden Caulfield, The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Miller, Ibsen.  Good stuff but it was like receiving echoes from outer space:  I had no idea what it was all connected to or where it was coming from.  I had never heard of Woolf except through the Edward Albee play, much less Beauvoir, Proust, Pynchon, Nabokov, all the greats of the 20th century. Forget about Adorno.  Benjamin who? Hannah who? I didn’t find out until I went to Barnard: and that was when I first began to exist.

Nadine Gordimer describes a similar coming of age, in a 1983 interview with The Paris Review:

In the town where I lived, there was no mental food of this kind at all. I’m often amazed to think how they live, those people, and what an oppressed life it must be, because human beings must live in the world of ideas. This dimension in the human psyche is very important. It was there, but they didn’t know how to express it. Conversation consisted of trivialities. For women, household matters, problems with children. The men would talk about golf or business or horse racing or whatever their practical interests were. Nobody ever talked about, or even around, the big things: life and death. The whole existential aspect of life was never discussed. I, of course, approached it through books. Thought about it on my own. It was as secret as it would have been to discuss my parents’ sex life. It was something so private, because I felt that there was nobody with whom I could talk about these things, just nobody. But then, of course, when I was moving around at university, my life changed.

I was lucky enough to have the courage to stick it out, to deal with being different, and to make it to Barnard. To this day, I chafe when people tell me to take it easy, to take things less seriously.  Elias Canetti once said, “Imagine telling Shakespeare to relax.” Just because we’re not Shakespeare, or Sontag or Canetti, doesn’t mean we should relax, tune out, follow the crowd.  We should take things more seriously than we do.  We should take ideas more seriously.  We should dare to listen before formulating our opinions.  We should take time to consider our thoughts on a given subject, instead of running with whatever thought is at the top of our minds.  We should value less the attempt for its own sake, and start valuing excellence.  We should drop the self-deprecating attitude and try taking ourselves seriously again.  If we come up short of our own or other peoples’ expectations, so be it. 

But that would mean we would no longer be living out our lives through a protective veil. 

And, from Silverblatt:

In 1962, poet-critic Randall Jarrell published his essay "The Schools of Yesteryear." In it, he examines the Appleton Readers, once the most popular school readers used in American public schools, and he found that in 1880, the fifth-grade reader contained works by Byron, Coleridge, Cervantes, Dickens, Emerson, Jefferson, Shakespeare , Shelley, Thoreau, Mark Twain and "simpler writers such as Scott, Burns, Longfellow, Cooper, Audubon, Poe, Benjamin Franklin and Washington Irving."

Fourth-graders were reading Gray’s "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" and poems by Wordsworth. If you’re thinking to yourself, "How could that be? I didn’t encounter anything like this until college," well, that’s exactly Jarrell’s point.

A decision was made about how to teach reading that, by the 1950’s, ensured Americans would not know their own (or any other) culture. We’re all consequences of that decision.

Remember second grade? We opened our class readers and read something like:

See the dog run!

Go, dog. Go!

Go, go, go.

And in case you missed the point, this was accompanied by a bright picture of a dog . . . going. We were given more and more of this, readers and workbooks and special projects, and the sure thing is that these words were not written by a writer but by a committee, a committee of reading specialists whose assignment was to create a program to guarantee that everyone would be able to read by the fourth grade.

"Able to read" means, of course, able to recognize simple words, a skill of sorts but not to be confused with reading. We were taught to recognize words but not to enjoy reading, and we weren’t given anything of value to read. So we learned not to read, but to respond to a reading technology.


2 Replies to “Silence at dawn.”

  1. Dude, I had a friend who was overdue by two weeks, had to be put on bed rest, and then induced. 😉

  2. The Pandora situation is pretty dire… Those of who don’t live in the U.S. have already lost access. is saving my skin, but I dearly hope they’re not next on the chopping block (!).

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