Friday, October 31, 2008

"Curiousity Did Not Kill This Cat"

RIP Studs Terkel

The debt we, as a nation, owe Studs Terkel, for documenting our stories is enormous. His work as an interviewer and oral historian gave voice to the voiceless, spoke truth to power, and kept our collective history alive. He will be missed.

Go read Hard Times and The Good War.

Where Will I Go? What Will I Do?

As previously noted, the presidential campaigns begin to resemble the Olympics, except that they last so much longer and the outcomes have a substantial effect on our lives. Of course, if you are anything like me, you are probably feeling somewhat bipolar about it all, simultaneously wishing the election would just be over already because you are so bored with it all, but then obsessively keeping track of every new plot twist. In this way, it is not unlike Highlander, with one screaming at the television set, "Yes, I get it, There Can Be Only One, get on with it," but unable to change the channel or look away.

Many weeks ago, while Maria and I were talking about the election, I said something along the lines of, "How is Britney Spears doing these days?" and proceeded to jokingly bemoan the way in which politics had captivated all of us and how saturated our media had become with all manner of news, great and small, regarding the upcoming election. How, I asked her and myself, could I keep track of all the utterly useless information about people in whom I am not even interested without Yahoo bombarding me with headlines about their lives when I log on to check my email?

What I hadn't even considered is that there may be news out there about people in whom I am interested that I may miss. Seriously, people, if I were not suffering from insomnia and hadn't just seen a trailer for Casanova on channel 11, I would never have found this piece of information.

I know this only happened a day or two ago, but still, what if I had missed this because I was too busy obsessing over the polling data at FiveThirtyEight? How can I even worry about the election when confronted with this news? Who will the producers of Doctor Who get to replace David Tennant? How will I cope with a new Doctor (keep in mind, I hate change and this is my favorite Doctor, the one who reintroduced me to the series) and will I get to see David Tennant act ever again (I know, YouTube, but what if he decides to only do theatre)? What if it all goes to crap? In fact, screw everything else that has been discussed about Iraq, health care, and the economy, I want to know where the candidates stand on this issue and what they plan to do about it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Perfect Blue

"I guess I`m a fool at least I`m not innocent." Lloyd Cole

I was looking at the map over at, as is my way these days, and I thought something like, "Indiana is kind of blue" and that made me start singing Lloyd Cole and the Commotions in my head.

Of course, this song has absolutely nothing to do with politics and everything to do with heartache.

When I was thirteen and I first listened to the record Easy Pieces, I felt like I was being given a glimpse into real life and grown up relationships. I knew nothing of love and breakups, but when I listened to Why I Love Country Music, I got a sense of what it felt like to still be in love after a relationship had passed its expiration date.

Now that I think of it, I should blame Lloyd Cole for my behavior in relationships as I seemed to fall for men who were engaged in complicated breakups with ex-girlfriends and I was always so understanding of their predicament, of their feelings, of the complex nature of emotions. I believed that if I behaved in a kind and respectful manner, just as soon as they resolved their issues with their pasts, the men (well, boys really) would realize they loved me, that my patience and goodness would be rewarded. Of course it never happened. I wonder, what might I have been like if I had not heard the song Rich on the radio and been inspired to buy the album? Maybe I would not have found men who were wrapped up emotionally in their own pasts with people they idealized to be appealing. Maybe I would have broken a few eggshells and been less interested in being good. Maybe I would have been a different person entirely.

Of course, if I were a completely different person with a totally different relationship history, maybe Fred and I wouldn't have gotten together. So maybe I should be thanking Lloyd Cole for the last fifteen years instead of blaming him for the awkward five that came before. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So, This Is How They Spend Their Money

Just imagine how McCain/Palin would spend our tax dollars. Maybe on her kids? After all, the state of Alaska has been doing it since she became governor, why not the rest of the country?

All snark aside, this is really depressing. How are we supposed to take Sarah Palin seriously as a candidate when her very party doesn't seem to view her as anything more than Caribou Barbie? Do they really think that all it takes for a woman to be taken seriously is the right designer wardrobe and an ability to read from a teleprompter and/or memorize lines? Is this all a woman needs to do to be taken seriously?

Please Don't Undue Everything They Fought For

This made me cry. Not the eyes welling up discreetly sort of crying, but the uncontrollable, shoulder shaking variety which happens when I am angry.

Many years ago, Tracy and I were walking around campus while a social was going on. We were talking and we walked past a couple who were standing on the very edge of the path. I was so wrapped up in our conversation that I didn't really notice, but Tracy did. She stopped, turned around, and walked up to the woman and asked if she needed and help. It was at that point I noticed that the woman was being backed into the bushes, that the man had been browbeating her, that he literally towered over her, and that he was someone who, it was rumored, was a rapist (by rumored I mean that he had been anonymously accused of rape on a bathroom wall and, we were told, he sued the school to have his name removed from the bathroom walls. This meant that the school kept repainting the bathroom walls in the library and people kept putting his name up there as a protest. I should, perhaps note that at our school, though I am sure this happened at other small liberal arts colleges as well, there had been a tradition of women writing on bathroom walls "X is a rapist" and there was constant discussion, on the walls and in the school paper, about whether anonymous accusations should be deemed acceptable.) The woman said that, no, she was fine. Tracy asked if she was sure and she said yes, so we walked away. At which point, the man walked after us and yelled at Tracy for butting in to their discussion. Tracy stood her ground and told him that, from her perspective, the situation looked like someone needed help and if he had a problem with it, she would be happy to get campus security involved. He went away, probably aware of how the situation looked and how, given his reputation, security would not view him kindly.

It has been fifteen years, but I still feel an enormous amount of admiration for Tracy because she noticed what was happening and stopped to address the situation. I also feel a certain amount of shame for my self-absorption and what is perhaps a tendency of mine to ignore other people, to consider their interactions as none of my business. Sure, I participated in Take Back The Night marches and escorted women through Operation Rescues, but that night, I walked by a woman being intimidated by a man who was alleged to be a rapist and I failed to act. It didn't even register in my mind until Tracy went back.

Madeleine Albright said, "There's a special place reserved in Hell for women who don't help other women." We can all argue about what our responsibilities are to female politicians, about how much of a role their gender should play in determinations to vote for them and how their gender should influence their policies. But I think we can agree that we need to look out for each other.

In my life thus far, I have been blessed with tremendous opportunities and I have been enormously lucky. I was born and raised in America. My parents always encouraged me and never suggested expected less of me than my brother. I went to good schools and got good grades. I met the love of my life in early adulthood. I have never had an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. I have never been the victim of domestic violence. I have never been raped. As I said, I have been incredibly lucky.

I am angry that there are women and girls who have not been so lucky and I am angry that, ultimately, it is all a matter of luck.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The View From The Carseat

We were driving in the car today, Julian and I. Exhuming McCarthy by REM was on the radio, but I wasn't really paying attention to the music. Julian, however, was listening. Right after Michael Stipe sang "buy America," Julian piped up, "Mommy, that guy said my America. What is he talking about, it is everyone's America."

Black Dress Revisited

Our friend, Eric, stayed with us for a day last week and I took the opportunity to show him some of the sights (Myopic and Reckless) and talk his ear off. Seriously, I don't think the poor man got a word in. Among the many topics I touched upon in my unending monologue was my black dress project, something of which he was unaware and which he found intriguing as a writing project and I didn't get around to explaining how it evolved from a writing project into photography. So, this, coupled with my having stumbled upon some mushrooms up at the lake a couple weeks ago, has led me to tossing some lovely clothes against twigs and dried leaves once more. I am starting to worry this project will never end because, as you know, I always have stuff to say about clothing and my collection of black dresses keeps growing. While I am not sure it is a bad thing if this project goes on forever, I realize that, at some point, I will run out of closet space (I know it sounds ridiculous, but I really don't know how many black dresses I own, but I can tell you that it is more than when I last touched this project). It struck me, as I was taking pictures over the weekend, that this project is a great metaphor for my life and how it has been changed by the demands of motherhood, how I am no nature girl, yet Julian demands we spend abundant amounts of time outdoors, how I am forced to steal small blocks of time to create art while Julian plays nearby, how I have all these black dresses which I never have an opportunity to wear anymore (even the somewhat casual ones are more work than jeans and a t-shirt), and how hard it is for all of us to integrate the person you think you are with the world in which you live.

So, without further ado, I invite you to follow the resurrected black dress project here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Convergence of Favorite Things

Julian loves to climb. He also loves grabbing things off of trees and eating them. And he absolutely loves apples.

So, it goes without saying that this weekend's trip to an apple orchard to pick our own was a great success.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who Loves The Sun?

Pa pa pa pa
Not everyone

As many people in my life will attest, I am not generally a fan of the sun. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge that the sun is responsible for all life on earth and I prefer warm weather to cold weather. But, I generally consider a cloudless day to be WAY too bright. I seek out shade and don hats in the summer. I wear sunblock even when it rains.

All that being said, I can't look at all these beautiful pictures without squealing a little bit. That's our star, people, look how gorgeous it is!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Accident Waiting To Happen

The parallels which can be drawn between our current political climate and a classic Billy Bragg song become more obvious with each passing day.
I've always been impressed with a girl who could sing for her supper

He said, "We don't like peace campaigners 'round here," as he nailed another one to the wall

Your life has lost its dignity, its beauty, and its passion. You're an accident waiting to happen
It appears I was mistaken in my earlier post about John McCain.

He has had numerous opportunities to speak out against the hate expressed at his rallies. Instead, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and their minions keep telling lies about Barack Obama and emphasizing his middle name. Instead, he just agrees when someone tells him how the "socialists" are trying to take over our country. Instead, he considers criticism of racism and calls for political assassination to be an attack on "hardworking Americans."

You know, John McCain is not the first politician who, in the face of economic collapse, scapegoated ethnic and religious minorities for the country's problems and set himself up as the opponent to both communists and financiers. However, one would think John McCain would not want such comparisons to be drawn. One would think. But with each passing day, John McCain goes further down a road one would think he would not want to go down and his motto Country First begins to sound increasingly ominous.

So it has come to this. I am past the point of accepting that other people have different views on this, but deep down, we are all good at heart. I now think any vote for John McCain is an endorsement of his divisive tactics. A vote for John McCain demonstrates that one is in agreement with the hatred, as expressed by his more vocal supporters at rallies, towards people whose skin color, religion, or political point of view is different from their own. I realize that sounds harsh, but how else can one view a person rewarding this behavior with their vote? At a certain point, people have to stand up and say, "This is wrong."

I am not the only person who feels this way. Many prominent conservative politicians and ideologues are registering their disgust with McCain.

Note, I am not saying you must vote for Barack "Who's Sane" Obama. There are other people running for president who deserve your consideration. Unfortunately, John McCain is no longer one of them.

I am heartened to see that John McCain has finally rediscovered his conscience (albeit after a day of escalating rhetoric on his part), but I am afraid this is not enough. It is going to take a lot of positive and sincere talk about Senator Obama on John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the campaign's part to walk people back from the brink they were led to by these very same people.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dear John McCain

I know that you may view this video clip as simple left wing propaganda, designed to make Republicans look bad. Or you will suggest that people on the left are too quick to judge Republicans harshly, that we judge the many based on the actions of a few. And I'll admit that, given the recent rhetoric of your campaign, I feel it is no surprise that some people (including the blogger who filmed this) may think that this crowd's reaction is logical and fear that it won't take much for violence to erupt.


I know many Republicans who have never expressed anything but acceptance for people of other religions and races. They are good people who give back to their communities and do not tolerate the injustices they see around them. They would not approve of the views expressed by these people. For this reason, in addition to feeling disgust, rage, and fear while watching this, I also feel shame for them. The Republicans I know are not like this and I don't like that they may be found guilty by association, simply because they plan to vote for you in the fall.

I know that most Republicans are good people who believe in smaller government, lower taxes, and making the world a better place. We may disagree on the methods, but ultimately, we want the same things for our children and our country. I know that this behavior isn't representative of the party of Abraham Lincoln. What I can't understand is why you are not denouncing this sort of thing. I know that you know it is wrong and does not represent your views, but I really wish you would speak out so that everyone else knows this as well. Tell these people that they are wrong.

Please. I have a four year old son. I want him to grow up in a country where people do not judge others based upon their name, their ethnic background, their religion, their geography, or their political viewpoints. I want him to grow up in a country where people do not feel pride to express their bigotry and ignorance. I want him to grow up in a country which values knowledge, education, and achievement. This is the country that I want for him and I know that this is the country that my Republican loved ones want for him as well.

The Republican Party is better than this. You are better than this.

A Message From The Adler Planetarium

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation.

Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

And, perhaps more importantly given what was said last night

[T]he Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama's efforts.
This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in the reports that accompany appropriations bills.

Read the entire statement here.

As a mother, I want my child to grow up in a country whose leader values science and education, not one who sneers at it or thinks that dinosaurs roamed the earth (along with humans) six thousand years ago. I want my son to learn to think for himself, to have his own beliefs, and to be able to defend those beliefs with facts and information, not to whine that his opinion is valid simply because it is his opinion. I want my son to read books, not burn them.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Company You Keep or Who's The Terrorist Here?

Sarah Palin has, quite famously, been talking about Barack Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers (they served on a charitable foundation's board of directors together along with a number of Republicans) and suggests that he is guilty of terrorism by this association.

As many have wondered, does Sarah Palin really want to go there? After all, she and her husband have a long relationship with the Alaskan Independence Party, a secessionist group whose founder enlisted the Iranian government to sponsor his anti-American agenda and died while attempting to buy plastic explosives. If people are known by the company they keep, what do we know about Sarah Palin and who she has chosen to "pal around with" over the years?

So, when Sarah Palin suggests that Barack Obama doesn't see America as she does, she is right. Barack Obama doesn't view America and it's taxpayers as unwitting dupes who can be sucked dry to fund their "self-sufficient" state. Barack Obama doesn't view America as a country which must be either seceded from or overthrown. Barack Obama doesn't think that America is a country where only those people who are the correct religion or race or political affiliation deserve respect. So, yes, Sarah Palin is right, Barack Obama doesn't view America as she does, but then, a lot of Americans don't. You have to wonder which country Sarah Palin is pledging to put first and what motivates those who would vote to put Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from becoming president.