Friday, January 16, 2009

A Sea Change

Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change

On Tuesday I put a first coat of polyurethane on the stairs. On Wednesday I filled the cracks and holes in the wood. As usual, Willow is micro-managing the project to let me know who is boss.

You want to put on polyurethane before filling the holes so that the finish is absorbed evenly into the wood (filler gets into the pores of the wood). You can buy tinted filler at Home Depot, but it's never the right color. So while sanding earlier this week I saved the sawdust, and yesterday I mixed this with glue to make some custom filler that would be exactly the right color. Smart, right? Not exactly. I underestimated how hard the filler would become (rock hard, it turned out) and how much time (a very long time) it would take to sand it down.

As I sanded and sanded, I looked at the poor, pockmarked wood and considered ripping out the steps with some violence and replacing them with new ones. A few days ago I would never have considered such a thing. What happened, I wondered, to my way of thinking in such a short time?

During the coming months we may see a special prosecutor attempt to see if the Bush administration broke the law by authorizing the use of torture. We might also see such hearings in Congress. While this may seem unlikely today, we are years removed from the Clinton impeachment. Can we really predict what the new Congress, one filled with power and momentum, might be willing to do a few months from now?

We can see some hints of what's to come. Yesterday Obama's pick for attorney general, Eric Holder, said that waterboarding is torture and illegal. The current attorney general has no opinion on the matter and refuses to look into it. In a recent interview, Cheney admitted that he and others approved the use of waterboarding. He and others will argue that waterboarding was necessary and (though the practice has been officially discontinued by the U.S.) still necessary in certain situations. If hearings take place, episodes of "24" may well be shown as defence testimony.

And you might wonder why, with all the economic and other troubles, Congress would pursue such a thing. Here's why: The financial problems are complicated. Even economists don't seem to understand them and journalists don't know how to explain them. But torture is one of those emotional issues (like abortion) that generates endless passion and argument in a narrative that everyone can understand.

Expect to hear more stories like this:

1 comment:

  1. The stairs look great. And on the other well we only have 3 days! WOO HOO!