SMART Letter #60
From a Clear Blue Sky
September 24, 2001

!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*() ------------------------------------------------------------ SMART Letter #60 -- September 24, 2001 Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg -- "army of one" -- -- 1-888-isen-com ------------------------------------------------------------ !@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*()!@#$%^&*() CONTENTS > From a Clear Blue Sky > Quote of Note: What a Wonderful World > Conferences on my Calendar > Copyright Notice, Administrivia ------- From a Clear Blue Sky by David S. Isenberg September 24, 2001 Nominally, I was going fishing. That is, my fishing rod was in the boat, my sweet, fast, tippy little cold-molded rowboat. I named her Nod when I bought her from her builder in 1981. I could row her effortlessly at 3 knots all day. When I say 'could' I'm talking about twenty years ago when I could still pretend I was an innocent, irresponsible, carefree kid. It was August 2001. I was not 32 anymore. As I rowed Nod out of Little Harbor, I could feel a twinge in a wrist and a dull ache in an elbow. But these small discomforts gave perspective to the northerly wind and the blue August day. Zephyrs spilled textures onto the water of the harbor. I was not hungry. I was not lonely. I was not cold or hot. I was exactly where I wanted to be. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I was aware. I was content. It was perfect. A friend came by in his outboard motorboat. It floated alongside Nod in Little Harbor. We had no arrangement, no email, no voice mail, no cell phone homing, no appointment. We had time. We smiled. "Let's go to Lackeys," said my friend. I pulled Nod up onto the beach and waded to his boat. We skitted across the water like a finger riffles a deck of cards. In Lackeys Bay the Southwest Gutter connects Vineyard Sound with Buzzards Bay. 'Gutter' is a misnomer; the narrow channel is sheltered; its clean, clear salt water rips a fast vee of deep blue current. We shut off the engine and drifted in the back eddy, watching the current move the eelgrass on the sandbar beneath us. There's a little wooden bridge at the narrowest part of the Gutter. A dozen children were swimming, splashing, laughing. They were jumping off the bridge, hanging on a rope in the current, clambering up the rocks with bare feet. An osprey landed on a tree branch low by the water. Thick sunshine clung to each moment as if it were a ripe berry suspended in a glass jar. The children's voices streamed away on the north wind. It was so perfect, too perfect. I thought of war. I do not know why I thought of war. Maybe it was the way the water, moved by the moon and held by the land, coursed under the bridge to meet itself with such turbulence. Maybe it was the way the laughter of the children rose into the same sky that hangs over suffering that is very far away. Maybe it was the late summer blue. I do not know why I remembered a Wall Street talk by a Harvard professor(1) about why the undeveloped world had no economic growth. I recalled how his story spun out, how half the world had flat-lined for two centuries despite steam engine, electricity, antibiotic and fertilizer. The cause, he said, was weak institutions. The prognosis: gated nations guarded by rent-a-cop soldiers -- not globalization, but isolated, idyllic islands of so-called world trade surrounded by oceans of dystopia, disease and despair. The crystalline days of late summer are perfect for flying. From an airplane on such days Planet Earth looks like a model train set. In the air over New England on such a day you can see the mountains to your right, the islands to your left, every building in every city. September 11, 2001 was such a day. Airplanes leaving Boston that morning had such a view. The perpetrators of the terrible crimes that morning had spotted their towers eighty miles out. The horrifying acts of September 11, 2001 were years in the making, but the United States government did not see them coming. How can I trust when the same government names a cocksure culprit within hours? Certainly there is an instinctive need to strike back when wounded, and a strike demands a target. Perhaps rumblings of pending deeper crises give the government impetus. But how can I trust that war -- *war* -- against an uncertain surrogate for a sparse, stateless, widely distributed and ill-defined foe will not make a bad situation irretrievably worse? Indeed, how can I trust? The innocent irresponsibility of a blue summer day is gone -- gone, gone, forever gone. --- (1) The Harvard professor was Bruce R. Scott. ------- QUOTE OF NOTE: What a Wonderful World(2) by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1968 "I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I think to myself what a wonderful world. "I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself what a wonderful world. "The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of people going by I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do They're really saying I love you. "I hear babies crying, I watch them grow They'll learn much more than I'll never know And I think to myself what a wonderful world Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world." --- (2) Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" was on the list of songs that Clear Channel Communications, owner of over 1170 United States radio stations, suggested might be "inappropriate" for airplay following the September 11, 2001 tragedy. ------- CONFERENCES ON MY CALENDAR October 1-2, 2001. Washington DC. Jeff Pulver's Telecom Policy Summit. I will be making a plea for radical simplicity on a panel called "Elements of the New Network" on Monday, October 1. For more detail see RESCHEDULED -- NEW DATE: November 4-6, 2001. Lake Tahoe, CA. Telecosm. Latest word is that I will be moderating a panel on the morning of November 6. Telecosm will be much different than last year, probably quieter, perhaps more thoughtful, and certainly different. For information, see POSTPONED -- NEW DATE TBD: October 18-20, 2001. Sarasota FL. Gilder Fellers technology investor's conference. Gilder and other notables will be there. I'll be Moderator. In other words, I'll be trying to get the participants to hold down the hype, jargon, positioning and techno-babble so the individual investors in the audience will understand. Some might argue that this'd be like the pot calling the kettle . . . For information, contact Joel Srodes []. ------- COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Redistribution of this document, or any part of it, is permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided that the two lines below are reproduced with it: Copyright 2001 by David S. Isenberg -- -- 1-888-isen-com ------- [There are two ways to join the SMART List, which gets you the SMART Letter by email, weeks before it goes up on the web site. The PREFERRED METHOD is to click on and supply the info as indicated. The alternative method is to send a brief, PERSONAL statement to (put "SMART" in the Subject field) saying who you are, what you do, maybe who you work for, maybe how you see your work connecting to mine, and why you are interested in joining the SMART List.] [to quit the SMART List, send a brief "unsubscribe" message to] [for past SMART Letters, see] [Policy on reader contributions: Write to me. I won't quote you without your explicitly stated permission. If you're writing to me for inclusion in the SMART Letter, *please* say so. I'll probably edit your writing for brevity and clarity. If you ask for anonymity, you'll get it. ] ** David S. Isenberg, inc. 888-isen-com 908-654-0772 ** -- The brains behind the Stupid Network -- **