Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Setting The Record Straight

As you all know, I am supporting Barack Obama's campaign to be president. I have given his campaign money, I am volunteering my time, and I am telling everyone I know in every way I can that they should vote for him as I have (Illinois is a Super Tuesday state, but we have early voting of which I availed myself yesterday. I love voting, even in years when I don't have a strong opinion about the candidates, but I digress). I encourage anyone who is reading this who supports Barack Obama to do the same--every dollar helps, every vote counts, and even an hour of phone banking can help win delegates.

So as I talk to people, I have encountered a number of arguments against Barack Obama's candidacy. People who struck me as intelligent and well-informed, yet they seem to be swayed by sound bites and lies. My friends and family members have told me that they have encountered the same in their efforts. I have been emailing articles one by one to respond to the arguments. Then it occurred to me that some people who stumble upon this blog--not my six regular readers who, I hope, would feel comfortable emailing me with their concerns, but strangers who find this blog when doing google searches for "dipsy and sophie eat tubby custard"--who might choose to read what I write, but don't feel free to comment, may also be laboring under some misconceptions which I could clear up. Or rather, I could link you to articles written by people far smarter than myself which would help clear things up.

So, you say , stop babbling and get to the list.

1) Experience. For some reason, people have really bought into the notion that Barack Obama is inexperienced as compared with his other competitors in the democratic race. As detailed by Slate in this article and The New York Times in this article, this is not quite the case.

From the Slate article
Edwards served a single term in the Senate. Obama served eight years in the Illinois state Senate and is halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate. Clinton is about to begin her eighth year in the U.S. Senate. Going by years spent as an elective official, Obama's 11 years exceeds Clinton's seven, which in turn exceeds Edwards' six. But it's a silly calculus. They all come out about the same, even when you factor in Clinton's youthful work on the House judiciary committee's impeachment inquiry, her membership on the board of the Legal Services Corp., her chairmanship of the Arkansas Educational Standards committee, her crafting of an unsuccessful national health-care bill, and her sharing Bill Clinton's bed most nights while he was Arkansas governor and president of the United States.
From the New York Times article
Those are the meaningful distinctions in the Democratic field, not Mrs. Clinton’s spurious claim to “35 years of experience.” The Democrats with the greatest Washington expertise — Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson — have already been driven from the race. And the presidential candidate left standing with the greatest experience by far is Mr. McCain; if Mrs. Clinton believes that’s the criterion for selecting the next president, she might consider backing him.

To put it another way, think which politician is most experienced today in the classic sense, and thus — according to the “experience” camp — best qualified to become the next president.

That’s Dick Cheney. And I rest my case.

2) Rezko. While one of his opponents famously has some questionable relationships with shady characters and real estate shenanigans to live down, I agree that Barack Obama, by setting himself up as a different sort of politician, needs to be clean and better than the rest. So what is the deal with Rezko? I encourage you to go read this post on Daily Kos which details and debunks the myth surrounding Barack Obama's ties to Tony Rezko and the factcheck.org post regarding this topic.

From the Daily Kos post

Obama has been honest about the mistake he made, and the fact that Rezko was trying to buy future influence with him. Obama declared, "I am the first one to acknowledge that it was a boneheaded move for me to purchase this 10-foot strip from Rezko, given that he was already under a cloud of concern. I will also acknowledge that from his perspective, he no doubt believed that by buying the piece of property next to me that he would, if not be doing me a favor, it would help strengthen our relationship." Obama’s mistake was in allowing the appearance of impropriety. He never actually did anything wrong. And that’s the key issue here.

Despite all of these rumors about Obama and Rezko, none of the evidence indicates any actual wrongdoing. Conservative Republican Tom Bevan called the evidence against Obama "pretty darn weak." Conor Clarke of the New Republic reported that Obama’s real estate deal with Rezko was a "nonscandal." According to Clarke, "journalists have followed the smoke and haven’t found the fire. At that point, accusing someone of something that looks wrong stops making sense."

3) His middle name is Hussein and the question of religion. Well, even if he were a Muslim, I don't consider that a reason not to vote for him. However, he is a Christian, he pledges allegiance to the flag, and he took his oath of office on a Bible like most other senators. The ridiculous email which says otherwise that is floating around has been debunked time and time again. I am shocked that so many people who would never dream of following up on the unsolicited stock tips or pleas for money from Nigerian royalty which appear in their bulk mail folder still believe this crap. Of course, when people who should know better fan the flames in insidious ways, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

4) Feminism. This is so much an argument against Barack Obama as it is an argument for another candidate. I don't disagree that the time is long past due for a female president. However, I cannot buy the argument that we should vote for a candidate solely because she happens to be female. It isn't as if we don't currently have women in positions of political power (Governors in a number of states and the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, to name a few). I don't think this is our last chance to vote for a woman for President and, for that reason, I am unwilling to throw away my vote this year. Because I feel we have a rare opportunity in Barack Obama, that he is a candidate who transcends gender and race. And I would say all that if he happened to be a she. It seems as petty to reduce one's reasons for voting to matters of gender as people who would reduce it to matters of race. which brings me to

5) Race. No one has actually suggested to me that they aren't supporting Barack Obama because of his skin color. However, I sometimes suspect this is the underlying (perhaps even subconscious) reason for some people's desire to latch on to one of the above reasons. And really, I have no response. All I can do is ask the person to go to his website and learn about him.

6) The issues. Some people tell me they support another candidate based on the issues. I can't argue with that. However, I do encourage people to go to Barack Obama's website and learn where he stands on the issues. Because it isn't easy to get all the policy details in a speech or a debate and you certainly won't get them in a soundbite.

If anyone is still reading, I thank you for your indulgence. I hope I convinced you to vote for Barack Obama or that you may be able to use the links I provided to help convince someone you know to vote for him. Because I really mean it when I say that every single vote counts.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Caroline Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

Over the years, I have met many people, both Democrats and Republicans, who have told me that they would have voted for John F. Kennedy if they had been alive (or of voting age) in 1960. In light of how close the presidential election of 1960 was, I can only suggest that this belief, especially on the part of the Republicans, may in part be a function of hindsight being 20/20 (John F. Kennedy is an icon and Richard Nixon is not the president with whom any Republican wants to be identified). However, I also think this is because of the enthusiasm that we have been told John F. Kennedy inspired in the young people of his day. We envy a time when people voted for a candidate because they believed in him, as opposed to voting for someone because you perceive them to be the lesser of two evils. We wish a person would come along who would inspire us in the same way, but we worry that such a thing isn't possible in our day and age, with the 24 hour news cycle, the increasing division between the right and the left, and the politics of personal destruction. If such a politician did come along, we know what the establishment would do to him or her--I mean, we all saw Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

I won't lie to you, it has been really hard being a supporter of Barack Obama. It has been frustrating having intelligent women tell me they are supporting someone else simply because of gender, but that they would be happy with whoever gets the nomination because I do care who wins the nomination and I am voting based on the person as a whole, not their gender or skin color. It has been hard seeing the misrepresentations, the distortions, and the outright lies which have been put forth because Democrats have been railing against dirty politics for the past eight years, and now, this is the sort of politics to which some of the candidates feel they must resort? But really, the biggest problem has been that I can't understand why people can't see what I can see and I find it difficult to articulate; like trying to describe a Monet painting to someone who has never seen a haystack or water lily, it is impossible to describe the beauty, the complexity, or the importance of what is right in front of us.

So, in light of all this, I am so grateful to Caroline Kennedy for writing this beautiful op-ed piece entitled A President Like My Father

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.


No matter what your political affiliation., all you people who have said you would vote for a candidate like John F. Kennedy if only you had a chance, you've got your chance. Please don't waste it.

Choose or Lose

Of course, in a case like this, it is probably not difficult to determine what the lesser of two evils would be.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Six Squared

This is what thirty-six looks like (disclaimer: that's with no makeup and I have a slight head cold,).

It is already 2:30 and I have not yet had any pie today. Worse still, I am beginning to suspect that I will not, in fact, have any pie today at all.

The problem with National Pie Day is that we do not yet have the technology to teleport pies into people's homes so that the pie is available for them to eat. No, we live in a world where people are expected to procure their own pies in advance of National Pie Day, which means that people must make plans in advance. Because few people have the luxury to just get up and pie a buy when the urge strikes them; even if you have the time and freedom to do so, it is the dead of winter so it is unlikely that you will have the inclination to brave the elements unless you really have to. Of course, one could always bake a pie, but that means one must have the necessary ingredients, which brings us back to the prior planning and inclination.

But you would think that it being both National Pie Day and my birthday that someone would have randomly given me a pie (even if only a slapstick pie in the face). Sadly, no pies have been sent in my direction. Other than that, the birthday has been alright. This morning, Julian tried to convince me that since it was my birthday, a special day, he should get to stay home from school. This was not a compelling or successful argument. Had he suggested that we get some pie, he may have had more luck.

Maria posted this in her birthday greetings. I think it describes me quite well (though, oddly enough, pie, or lack of it, is never mentioned).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And Now, A Word From My Mother

On the eve of my birthday, I would like to allow a guest blogger to address you all.

My mom has been emailing everyone she knows as of late, encouraging them to vote for Barack Obama in their upcoming primaries. This is from the email she sent out last night.

And now, without further ado, I present, my mom:

As this day of commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. draws to a close, I recall again the August of 1963, 2 weeks after this jungli arrived in the US, when I watched the March on Washington together with my very progressive home stay family - a Presbyterian Minister and his family, in a very white suburb in NJ. I didn't understand what it was that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the people in Washington were protesting - from what little I had seen of America, life seemed pretty good for everyone.

In the summer of 1964 I accompanied several of my classmates to Clifton Forge, Virginia, to teach CCD. The housekeeper of the rectory where we were staying for the summer had been hospitalized. The hospital had a wing for white patients and a separate wing for "coloreds". My classmates insisted I enter the hospital through the "whites only" entrance. When it came time to use the restrooms my classmates insisted I go with them into the "whites only" restrooms and drink from the "whites only" water fountains. All this much to the chagrin of many of the white employees and visitors and to great amusement of my classmates and me still pretty clueless about what this all meant.

Fortunately, the college I attended in Washington confronted these issues head on - from class discussions to participation in demonstrations to volunteering with others to make the changes, very small in comparison, that we are now reaping the fruits of.

In September 1964, I met my future husband. A few weeks after we met, we tried to get into a nightclub and were refused admission - I was not white. There were other incidences over the years, too. After we were married in 1967, and came to Chicago, there were several times when we were refused rentals of apartments because the landlords rented to whites only (illegal in Illinois, but practiced nonetheless). There were other instances where we were ignored in restaurants and had to ask for service; and numerous times where unknown passer byes would taunt and insult us. Mixed marriages were not common in the late 60s and early 70s

I often recall the hierarchy that existed in Zanzibar and even in our church. I am especially reminded of the velvet lined benches (kneelers and seats) for the "expatriates", upfront near the altar (I recall we would tease our friends that they wanted to be Zungus, if we saw them in these benches at week day morning mass when the Wazungus weren't there); the Goans sat in the pews where the altar view was unobstructed - "boyside" on the left, "girlside" on the right; all Africans sat in the side pews where the view of the altar was either partially or completely obstructed. No one was assigned to these pews - people just understood where their place was.

At Christmastime or Eastertime, the Africans (and only the Africans) - from town and the shambas - had to go to the rectory where the priest would check the baptismal records before issuing them a ticket which they had to display when they went up to the altar rails for communion at Christmas and Easter masses. The ticket cost 2 shillings - a lot of money at that time . The ticket had to be held between the thumbs and the hands joined in prayer. I remember that several who didn't have their ticket (either because they lost it, or forgot it, or couldn't afford it) were bypassed by the priest and received no communion and were very obviously embarrassed and distressed. Yet no one complained or protested.

We have come a long way in the past 40-some years both in Zanzibar and the US. In Zanzibar the political situation changed these practices. In the US it took people like Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and others to effect the change and Congress and Presidents like Lyndon B. Johnson to sign it into law. It is a testament to those who fought and died for this cause that we can look at what their legacy has brought us here in America. As Lewis said "we have many immigrants in key positions in the government and corporate America" This year Bobby Jindal, a son of Indian immigrants, was sworn in as Governor of Louisiana. He is the first non-white governor ever, in any state. And for the first time ever, we are on the threshold of perhaps having a biracial Barack Obama (son of a black Kenyan and white Kansasan) become a standard bearer for the Democratic Party for President of the USA.

For those of you Democrats who live in South Carolina - appreciate your civil rights and celebrate your love of freedom and opportunity by voting in your primary on Sat. 26th and then again in November; and those in Florida, the 29th is your day to make your vote count; and the rest of many of us on the forum - February 5th is a big day - 42 states will be holding primaries to narrow down the selection of who will be on the ballot for President in November. And this time next year (Jan. 20, 2009), we will have sworn in our new President.

We all have been very fortunate in this country which continues to be a beacon of hope to the rest of world (yes, despite our foreign policy,people are dying to get into our country) and a land of opportunity where everyone with tenacity and hard work can achieve their version of the American Dream. Let us not take things for granted. Let us exercise the right that we have gained as citizens - get involved and help make a difference and hopefully we will achieve a place where people will be judged "not by the color of their skin but the content of their character".

You have the power!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Try To Stay Calm

Are you sitting down? You need to be sitting down when I tell you this. I'll wait. Alright. So, please don't scream or squeal or do anything strange which will cause your coworkers or children to consider taking away your internet privileges. Take a deep breath.

My birthday, January 23rd, is National Pie Day.

Did you know that already? Did I know that already? Although my first reaction was to get very excited, in part because it is a pie day and in part because nothing actually happens on my birthday, for some reason, it isn't a terribly eventful day, the more I think about it, the more familiar it seems. As if someone told me this and I forgot about it.

But how great is this, it is pie day and my birthday? Which means I can spend the entire day eating pie. Of course, I will have to make sure I have enough to feed the ninjas (because ninjas like pies too).

find your inner PIE @ quizmeme.com

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Fabric of Our Lives

Tesco bans cotton picked by children
A Tesco spokesperson told SmartPlanet: "We realise that child labour is a complex issue with many causes, which we acknowledge are hard to effect individually. However, the use of organised and forced child labour is completely unacceptable and leads us to conclude that while these practices persist in Uzbekistan, we cannot support the use of cotton from Uzbekistan in our clothing."
One of the low points on our recent Christmas vacation was an argument my dad, my brother, and I had regarding corporate responsibility. My mom was driving the minivan and Fred, Julian, and I were stuck in the back. My brother (in part to needle my dad) took the "all corporations our evil" position while my dad (in part to needle my brother) took the "we must leave these things up to the market" position, while I, stuck in the way back of the minivan where no one could hear me, had a temper tantrum so that I could get a word in edgewise. Then, after we had the obligatory discussion about how inappropriate my tantrum was and aren't I getting a bit old for that sort of behavior, I delivered an impassioned monologue wherein I discussed the complexities involved when using phrases like "corporate responsibility" because different people want different things, so what one group may consider to be a highly responsible act which helps society, others may consider to be exploitative and damaging to society. At which point, we arrived at my brother's house and the subject changed to what we planned to do for the rest of the evening. Later on, both my dad and brother said they agreed with me and were just taking a slightly more extreme position for the sake of argument.

I was reminded of this incident when I heard the news today that Tesco was boycotting all cotton from Uzbekistan.

I am aware that this decision on Tesco's part may well lead to higher priced goods in their stores and it is easy for me to say that this is a worthy trade off considering I live in America and am not affected (at least not directly). While concern for the lives and rights of the people who harvest the cotton and make the clothing is all well and good, especially if we are talking about children and forced labor, this may resulti n higher priced goods and there are people who live in poverty who can't afford to pay extra for a t-shirt. However, taking that into consideration, I think this is a good thing and I wish American retailers would follow suit. Maybe Tesco's decision, as well as reports like this, will serve as inspiration. Because I would be even more excited about this story if it were Wal-Mart banning products which relied on child labor from their stores (I say that and I think it could never happen. But then, I google some more and find out that it already has happened, albeit to a much smaller degree. Still, it is progress.)

Note: I found the photo on this website. Go visit to see more beautiful pictures.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My New Motto

Or maybe I should say, "what I have been trying to tell you people all these years."

Thanks to Lauren for saying it in a discussion and then creating the graphic.

I predict, it will save us all a whole lot of heartache in the future.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not Quite What One Thinks When One Hears The Phrase "A Life In Retail"

A comedian in New York will be living in a bedroom display at his local Ikea.

As amusing as I find this story, I'll admit, I would be more impressed if Ikea were opening up its bedroom displays to people who really needed a place to live because they had nowhere else to go (as opposed to someone whose apartment is off limits while the exterminators are there). I mean, it is cool of them to give this guy a place to crash and the huge shot of publicity that will probably get him a deal of some sort with a production company somewhere down the road, but wouldn't you feel even warmer and fuzzier if they were, say, offering their store displays to homeless women with children. I know, I know, Ikea letting some middle class guy with a credit card (which you know they have on file for security purposes, in case he breaks anything) is not really risky and it is petty of me, perhaps, to suggest this little piece of performance art should be turned into something more meaningful.

This story, however, reminded me of a far more interesting story which I heard on the radio program The Story.
In downtown Providence, R.I., a massive shopping mall dominates the skyline. City officials have praised the mall for bringing new life to an old industrial city, but some residents and local artists like Michael Townsend have been grumbling since the mall was first built in 1999.

In 2003, Michael and a few friends decided to challenge their own critical perspective on the mall with an experiment - for one week, they vowed to never leave the mall. They would eat, bathe, and find a place to sleep there, in an effort to better understand the satisfactions of shopping. The experiment ended up lasting 4 years.

By the time Michael was busted, he and his wife Adriana Yoto, as well as some friends, had furnished an adequately-functioning apartment inside the mall.

How cool is that? After listening to this show, I had a profound urge to find an unused, unknown room somewhere out in the world and make it my own. For weeks afterward, I would glance at random doors and corners in public spaces and wonder, "Where does that lead? Does anyone even know that space exists?" I know that I am a materialist and really like my stuff, but the idea is still so appealing to me. It's probably related to all the thrift shopping.

You can listen to the radio show here and read more about the whole enterprise (as well as view pictures and videos of the apartment at the mall) here.

And I can't help but think, if we turned all the unused spaces that exist in the world into small homes, we could let people sleep there instead of on the street. It's just an idea. I mean, if no one is using the space anyway, why not?

The Floodgates Are Now Open

Hillary Clinton cried the other day.

People are suggesting that this display of humanity helped her eke out a win in New Hampshire, either by winning over voters who felt they finally saw the "real" Hillary Clinton and liked what they saw, or by women who felt an affinity for her because they, too, know what it is like to face insurmountable odds in a man's world, or by people who don't like to see a woman cry and blamed her opponents for her outburst.

Except, it wasn't much of an outburst, was it? I mean, she got a bit quiet, she got a bit choked up, I don't think any actual tears formed. It was a very subtle display of emotion. Anything more and people would be suggesting she wasn't mentally tough enough for the job. But this was, well, a perfectly calibrated break in one's defenses.

Many are suggesting that she faked it. Even the woman who asked the original question which caused the tears felt she recovered a little too quickly and too well. However, for the sake of argument, let's just assume, for a moment, she did not. Let's assume that, as she claimed in her victory speech on Tuesday night, that the people of New Hampshire for helping her, "find her voice." How? Or rather, why now? What has happened to Hillary Clinton in the last week that would cause her to publicly cry when someone asks her "how she manages to stay wonderful" when her stoicism has previously prevented her from publicly crying over things like the public humiliation her husband put her through while he was president or the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in her home state?

Maureen Dowd pointed out in her op-ed entitled Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back To The White House?
What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing.
So the prospect of losing is what caused her to cry? Even the most rabid Clinton haters may suggest that that displays a level of narcissism they had not previously considered. Was that really it?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Let's consider what she said. She got choked up as she was telling us how much she cares about this country and how she knows what is best for us and it just breaks her heart that we don't appreciate all she's done for us. Frankly, I'm not surprised it worked on so many of New Hampshire's voters. I mean, mothers have been laying guilt trips on their children ever since humans began walking upright and, you would think, this sort of manipulation has remained a part of the human repertoire precisely because it is so effective. Except that while Hillary Clinton may see us all as her children in need of her guidance, she is running for the office of president, not the position of our mom.

So do I think the tears were real? Yeah, sure, but that doesn't make them any less manipulative. Do I think it was wise of Hillary Clinton to cry? Well, it remains to be seen how successful that display turns out to be, but I feel a bit of resentment about it because regardless of how she does, I feel it makes things rougher for future women who run for political office; just watch, in the future, if a female politician shows emotions in a key moment, she will be accused of "pulling a Hillary" (much as Bill Clinton was accused of "wagging the dog" when he launched missile strikes at Al Quaida camps in the Sudan and Afghanistan during the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal). So while Hillary Clinton's campaign may well be groundbreaking, I don't know that she is changing the way the public views women or making it easier by blazing a trail for the next woman who runs for President.

However, I should thank her for one thing. I have been wondering what I would do if Hillary Clinton ends up being the Democratic nominee. I had thought I might look at the Green Party, but now, I am thinking I may just write-in my mom's name.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Guess I'm Not a "Real" Feminist

Because Gloria Steinem is telling me I have to vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. Funny, I thought being unable to see past a person's gender was sexism. Margaret Thatcher was a woman too, so does that mean Gloria Steinem would have voted for her?

I agree with her closing paragraph
This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”
However, part of being able to look past sex, race, money, powerful fathers, and paper degrees means that we also have to be able to say: "I'm not supporting her because she won't be a great president, her gender is immaterial to that assessment."

Personally, I don't think voting for a woman who achieved her political position due entirely to her role as someone's wife and claims that role (as the wife to a President) as experience which makes her more qualified than others to be forwarding the cause of women's rights.

Where was Gloria Steinem when Elizabeth Dole was running for President? Maybe if Gloria Steinem, and all the woman who so desperately want a woman in the White House they are willing to overlook her political baggage, had gotten behind Dole's bid, she would have been able to make a real run for the position. Can you imagine how different our world would be if we had had a woman president for the last eight years? Or would it not count because Elizabeth Dole is a Republican? In gender politics, as in all other politics, is it all just about the team with which you align yourself?

So, I guess I am not a "real" feminist. Thankfully, I am not alone.

Andrew Sullivan on The Colbert Report

"We have a chance to win those people over and to make the world love America again."

Go read his article on Barack Obama in The Atlantic Monthly.

Here's a snippet:

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

So not only is Barack Obama one of the most inspiring candidates we have ever seen and represents a multi-cultural America of the future, but he offers us an opportunity to send the most self-absorbed generation packing. Because aren't you getting a bit bored by all the retrospectives that come out every five years or so which are meant to remind all of us that 1968 was, like, the most important year EVER? I don't know about you, but I wasn't even born then and I am old. Don't you think it is about time the next generation had a chance to try to change the world?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thank You Iowa Caucus Goers

Last night was amazing.


What I am feeling right now.

My mom is from Zanzibar. She came here as student, she won a scholarship which was awarded to one student from the island each year. My dad met my mom about a month before he dropped out of Georgetown law school and left for Afghanistan with the Peace Corps. Somehow, they ended up getting married, moving to Chicago, and having a life together (and having me and my brother).

When I was four, I remember my parents talking at the dinner table about the candidates and who they liked. The next morning, my mom took me with her and as we walked through the school auditorium to the voting booth, I shouted, "Mommy, you're going to vote for Jimmy Carter, right?" She shushed me and then, later, she and my dad explained to me that voting is a private matter. I didn't really understand why. I mean, if you supported a person to be President, why wouldn't you want to tell everyone?

As I grew up, that idealism didn't exactly fade, but a cynicism with politics and politicians did manage to drown it out.

Back in early March, 2004, I remember sitting with some friends of mine at a cafe. One of my friends got up and started talking about Barack Obama (who, at the time, was running for Senator) to the cafe workers and convinced them to put a poster up in their window. When he ran out to his car to get the poster, his wife actually apologized to us for him being somewhat anti-social and I said, that it was alright, that "Barack needs him."

If you had told me then that Barack Obama would have won the Iowa Democratic Caucus and might be in a position to win the presidency in November before my then only recently conceived child turned four, I would have laughed at you and called you nuts. Heck, I remember pouring out so much of my pregnancy anxiety into an internet debate board and I remember people saying how they could imagine him as a nominee in 2008 and I, who was one of the few on the board who actually had an opportunity to vote for him, told them they were being premature.

But here we are now. Fred and I have spent this evening talking to Julian about Barack Obama and we can envision a world where he looks back with the same amount of innocence that I once felt about politics, but none of the cynicism.

And I think that, wow, here is this guy whose father was from East Africa (as is my mother) and whose mother was from the US (as is my dad) and for him to achieve this much so quickly (especially right after a political blow in 2000)...well. it is really inspiring for me, personally.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

First Post of the Year: Quiz and the Resolutions

70% Geek

I am only slightly surprised by the outcome of this test.

My resolutions for the year are (in no particular order):

Make more vegetarian dinners
Try to do yoga every day
Spend less time mindlessly surfing the web
Write more and submit more for publication
Eat less cheese

I also thought I should update everyone on the tale of tiny sized skirt. While in California, I tried on a pair of jeans at Banana Republic in a size in which I always fit (I mean, I have pants from BR in smaller sizes than these jeans claimed to be) and I couldn't even get those jeans up over my butt. I thought the whole point of vanity sizing was to manipulate us into buying clothing because it tells us a story about ourselves which we desperately want to believe to be true, which would mean that any 2007/2008 new clothes in stores should not be smaller (measurement wise) than the clothes manufactured in 2002. Seriously, it makes no sense. And the sad thing is that I am more inclined to believe the story the jeans in the store told me about my body than the story the skirt is telling me. Why? Well, the jeans may or may not be truthful, but they are saying something about myself that I have believed to be true for over two decades, so no random skirt will convince me, especially when it is so obvious that the skirt, cute as it may be, is lying. But the good news is that with my less cheese/more yoga resolutions, I will be mentally evolved enough not to care that my butt has gotten smaller. Because that is the worst part of all this, that so many of us care about this stuff and let a number (be it on a piece of clothing, a scale, a birthday card) define how we think of ourselves.

However, given my result on another online quiz, one might think I should add "drink less" to that list of plans for the year.


However, we all know that my success on a test like this has less to do with the amount I drink and more to do with the amount of geek I am.