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07/19/2003 Archived Entry: "Washington Times on NCFM seminar"

The Washington Times did a fair job of writing up last week's seminar held by the National Coalition of Free Men at which I spoke. It opens, "Eliminate affirmative-action programs. Do the same with the sexual-harassment industry. Refuse to accept bias against boys in public schools. Those don't sound like the talking points of your typical feminist, but while Wendy McElroy isn't typical, she is a feminist." The article misreported my position by saying I advocated allowing men to renege on their parental responsibilities but, then, it quoted a section of my presentation that made my actual point a bit clearer.

From WorldNetDaily, yet another reason *NOT* to fly..."Passengers who fly Southeast Airlines will be under the constant eye of digital video cameras providing a live feed and recordings of their faces and activities for security purposes. Wired News said the Florida-based charter airline plans to store the video for up to 10 years and could use face-recognition software to match faces to names and personal records." Ironically, government seems more sensitive to privacy concerns than the private sector. This...from the Washington Post: "A Senate vote to cut off funding is the latest setback for a controversial computer surveillance program the Pentagon wants, to enable authorities to search vast networks of personal records to look for possible terrorist activity. The vote late Thursday to deny any funds being spent on what is now called the Terrorism Information Awareness program was part of a $369 billion military spending bill that passed unanimously....A provision in the House defense appropriations bill that passed last week left room for further work on the program, though it prohibited use of the program's technology on U.S. citizens without congressional permission. The House and Senate will meet in conference to discuss the differences between the bills."

On Thursday, Brad and I spent a perfect day at Stratford, attending two plays by Jean Paul Sartre: The Flies and No Exit. It was rendered no less perfect by the first play being such a disappointment that we left at intermission, not to return. (Scott Wentworth, who played the king, was wonderful -- we've followed his career for years now -- but even his commanding presence could not save a badly-written, badly-directed play.) Instead of inflicting bad Sartre on ourselves, Brad and I went back to riverside at which we had lunched...some 300 feet away...and opened a bottle of rather nice white wine. We still had the wicker basket I'd packed to the hilt with ham and montreal smoked meat sandwiches, cold chicken, potato salad, pizza bread, pickles, chocolate. But we kept the basket shut... The reason: there were about a dozen swans, several of whom lumbered up the riverbank onto the grass siding to assess their chances of mooching food, not only from us but also from a family who had claimed a picnic table some several yards away. Those unfamiliar with swans might imagine this circumstance to be picturesque. The image would shatter quickly enough the first time a 50-lb swan in full pursuit of food, hissing meanly at dogs and small children in its path, strutted up to *your* basket and started pecking with its blunt beak at your food, your feet, your ankles, your elbows...anything it could reach. (Brad's strategy has evolved with time and experience: he brings a large hardcover book that he can swing in the vicinity of the swans to keep them at bay.) Within minutes the proximate family was under attack. The small child huddled in the middle of the table, head between his knees, knees drawn up to his head, yelling for help from his mother. The mother grabbed the food and led the swans away, tho' this may not have been her conscious intent; the predators really had no interest in the child; they were after consumables. The family retreated to a bench farther from the riverbank and sat, backs pointedly to the swans, eating the rest of their lunch. We spread the picnic tablecloth over the grass, and slept. Or, rather, I slept. Brad read the hardcover book (on Linux and ShareWare) that he'd brought along for self-protection. It was one of those deep, sunbathed naps from which you awaken far more refreshed than can be explained by the amount of time you were unconscious. During my 15 minutes of sleep, Brad assured me that he had protected my naked toes from a swan who seemed unduly interested in their culinary value. But, then, he also told me that I snored...so we *know* the man lies.

I suppose we pack one hellaciously mean picnic basket because passing pedestrians kept making comments. One couple -- part of a foursome -- stopped in their tracks to stare. The woman demanded: "Who packed that for you? Where did you get that?" I indicated myself as the source whereupon she turned to her husband, rather hostilely I thought, and declared, "Why don't you do *that* for me?" He replied, rather hostilely I thought, "You don't understand. *She* [meaning me] did it for *him* [meaning Brad]." At this point, I commented to B. "We've sown discord. Our work here is done." The accompanying and otherwise silent couple laughed but I don't think the squabblers were amused. Oh well...when people drop into my life uninvited, they take their chances.

No Exit was brilliant and we enjoyed it tremendously, sitting through the 1 1/2 hour drama that seemed only 20 minutes long. The play was performed in a "black box" theatre -- a rather small venue in which the stage projects like a finger with steeply-rising seats on three sides and black curtains (or walls) defining the outer limits of everything. I like black box theatres because they are unpretentious and because you get so close to the actors that they come close to stumbling over your feet at times. Our long drive home was consumed by conversation that ranged from existentialism (of course!) to bioengineering, from the war in Iraq to plans for my vegetable garden next year. It was a relaxed, relaxed, relaxed day and there are far too few of those.

My best to all,

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