TBogg - "...a somewhat popular blogger"

Faithful husband, soccer dad, basset owner, and former cowboy
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  • Thursday, April 24, 2003


    A lovely letter from lovely Zurich

    One of the benefits to all the time that I put into blogging is getting to "meet" people through the blog, many of whom are alternately brilliant or entertaining or just fun to hear from. Thought I would share a very nice e-mail from Andrew in Zurich:


    Dear Tom

    I cycle to work -- 45 minutes each way. (And since it's Switzerland, there is a bike lane the whole way, and nobody ever honks, yells, flips me the bird, etc. for riding my silly little bike on their road.) It was lovely this morning -- sunny, just slightly cool, flowers blooming; a pleasant spring morning. I'm listening to the new Lucinda Williams CD while riding and it was great -- the sublime pleasure of hearing new music that is destined to become a good friend.

    Then I get to work and -- as is my habit -- read the papers and skim the blogs. And experience the range of emotions that the news brings these days -- disbelief, anger, confusion, despair ... and so on and so on.

    How did this happen? I've only been out of the country for two-and-a-half years and the US today just seems so completely unfathomable.

    Anyway, I think that Mario Cocco has a good take on the Euro reaction.

    From Tuesday's TSC:

    Europeans Are Baffled by Bush's America

    I also sense the beginnings of a change in attitudes here about the US. That is, the Euros used to make a distinction between the Administration and the people. In the recent period, the headline for this was: dislike/distrust the Prez and his Administration, (generally) admire/respect the US -- or least the idea of the US (liberty, energy, tolerance, etc.). Gross generalizations, of course, and there is a much longer and more nuanced discussion around the general topic of "Euro attitudes," but I don't have the time or skill to develop it further than this.

    I sense that the second part of the headline may be changing. Or at least is being scrutinized. I sense that many Europeans are asking themselves, "Remind me again what it was that I admired about the US? And its people?" The papers here report the poll results, i.e., that 70% of Americans now" support" the war in Iraq and that equivalent numbers "approve" of the Prez's actions and performance. They also watch CNN and, as others have noted, are shocked by the propaganda quality of the reporting. As I talk about "stuff" with my colleagues (mixed group from several different countries), they are very perplexed by all this. And it appears that the distinction between the Administration and the country is beginning to blur. While they recognize that Administrations -- and policies – come and go, they have perhaps clung to the belief that there are certain fundamentals about the US and its people that don't change. Or that don't change much. Now, the comments I hear suggest a concern that the US – as a collection of ideas, values, aspirations, etc. -- is turning into something quite new and different. And something that is very, very scary. There is an apprehension and wariness about the US -- not just the Administration -- that I hadn't seen before.

    Yes, the "PACE" flags are ubiquitous in Italy (and are becoming more common here in Switzerland). But I suspect that more and more the message is not directed just at the cabal in Washington, but more generally at the American people.

    Early days and this, too, could pass. But it IS starting to feel different.

    I don't know if my ramblings are interesting to you .... but I really like your blog and just wanted to, you know, share these thoughts with you.

    One other thing: I liked your comment awhile back about your daughter's reading To Kill A Mockingbird. You wrote: Told in the voice of a wise child, it is the tale of being an adult. How we lose things as we grow older and have to find lesser things to fill up the space. This really resonated with me because at the same time my daughter (turns 10 next week) was reading (and re-reading) The Diary of Ann Frank. I was a little concerned that she wouldn't have the emotional maturity for this quite yet, but we've talked about it a lot and she seems to have a pretty good sense of the sorrow -- and joy -- of the story. I mention this because we're leaving tonight for a long weekend in Amsterdam. I'm very much looking forward to taking her to Ann Frank's house, which, if you have not been there, truly is a living bit of history. Incredibly moving. I suspect the experience of fixing the story with the actual spaces in which it took place will be very .... uh, profound? meaningful? the words all seem so banal ... for her. (And later in the spring we hope to make a trip to Verdun so my son can have a similar complement to his recent reading of All Quiet on the Western Front.)

    So, yeah, as we grow older, we do have to find lesser things to fill the space. Especially in these crazy times. Like the pleasure of watching my kids learn about -- and hopefully learn from -- history in a very intimate way. And good new CDs. And Manchester United's masterful 4-3 defeat of Real Madrid in last night's Champions League match. (Totally brilliant. If you can catch it on cable or get a copy, highly recommended. Ronaldo is awesome early on, then Beckham comes in late and steals the show.) And my great good fortune to be living in a small, affluent, heavily armed, widely bike-laned and staunchly neutral land.

    Sorry again for the rambling. Quiet at work and probably drank too much coffee.

    Best regards,


    posted by tbogg at 12:04 PM



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