Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I'm clueless about the financial situation of this country. If things are truly as desperate as they sound, OK, fine, bailout. It does make me nervous that the only stock that went up yesterday was Campbell's soup and I worry about the world financial structure. And as some have noted, years from now the government could make money on the deal. TheCSO mentioned yesterday that when Sweden had to bail out, they cancelled all of the bank stock and thus made the bank stockholders bail first. Seems reasonable.
But I can certainly understand the concerns behind giving a guy who was denying that there was a crisis a mere two weeks ago 700 billion dollars and expecting him to price all those securities accurately. And this whole bailout thing worked none-too-well in Japan fifteen years ago, and continues to work none-too-well as the bailing out on the domestic side is still going on. And I don't like it that smart friends of mine who said "Hmm... Sure mortgages are cheap, but we're not READY to buy a house yet" are going to have to pay the bill for people who made less reasonable choices.
It's interesting to me that most of the liberals I know view libertarians of being puppydogs to big business, but most of the libertarians I read are against the bailout. Here's an example.
So, basically, I have no idea.
Hey! Look! A kitty!
Monday, September 29, 2008
A Chalicesseur writes:
Rumor has it that many people think that the current XKCD is sufficiently cool that it merits a link on the Chaliceblog. Would it be possible for you to intercede with the ChaliceChick?
My response: I don't think that comic, as awesome as it is, will fit on this blog. Or would be readable if I were to shrink it enough to fit. So, I'm going to have to just Link to it and encourage people to go look it it.
Go! Look! Go and look!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Ok, the movie that "Ghost Town" reminded me of most was "As Good As It Gets," and I'm not sure there's a kiss there either.
But I'm a dumb, happy-ending-loving American, and I was still kinda hoping for one.
I was feeling a litle blue yesterday, for a variety of CSO and non-CSO related reasons. When I'm feeling blue, I usually go to the movies. I'd read that "Ghost Town" was supposed to be good, so Jana-who-Creates and I caught the late show. During the previews, which by the way, I swear to God, began with a preview where Robert Downey. Jr. had a bicycle accident and messed up the side of his face*, I saw several previews for dramas that looked well-made and well-acted and I had no desire to see.
JwC and I did admit that we were probably going to see that Reese Whitherspoon/Vince Vaugh Christmas movie, though. I guess in a deep sense I go to the movies to be entertained, and my taste runs to the sugary. This is doubly odd in that Boston Legal aside, I watch almost exclusively mysteries on TV.
From the "Smart Person who just wants to be entertained" perspective, "Ghost Town" was just about perfect. Ricky Gervais is brilliant as a misanthropic dentist who finds putting cotton in people's mouths and thus making them shut up one of the true perks of his job. Tea Leoni gives spark to a leading lady role that could well have come off as Gervais' good behavior prize, but doesn't. Greg Kinnear plays the same guy Greg Kinnear usually plays, as in, he's basically well-meaning, but kind of a tool.
It's a comment on the way moviemaking works that a movie that a movie so patently ridiculous could feel so real. Even the one-liners are perfectly on-the-mark:
Hospital Nurse: [after Bertram's colonoscopy] Come back soon.
Bertram Pincus: What a terrible thing to say in a hospital
Making this sort of movie has to be hard to do. It's mean, but it doesn't go over the top. It's sweet and goofy without being cheesy. It's smart but not taxing to a girl who hasn't gotten a lot of sleep this week. There's a fair amount of the sort of social awkwardness comedy that the CSO really hates, but the comedy is pretty much all character-driven and feels natural. I have minor plot point quibbles, but they all seem to pale when I consider how rarely it is that a "feel-good comedy" actually makes one feel good.
And the last two lines of dialogue are understated romantic genius that really make up for the lack of kiss.
After all, life doesn't always end with the big, happy kiss. Personalities get in the way. People get torn apart by circumstance, or because they let themselves.
A little bit of connection is sometimes the best we can do in this world.
*Jana grabbed my hand and said something like "Oh, honey" but for whatever reason I was OK. Partially because, and I know this is weird, Robert Downey junior messed up the left side of his face while theCSO messed up the RIGHT side of his face. It doesn't seem logical to me that this distinction was helpful, but it was.
OK, I'm kidding about the cultural misappropriation, though I suppose an argument could be made. Mostly I just want you to watch the video because it is awesome.
IMHO, the last minute is the best part.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
9:02 Katie Couric reported the McCain's favorite pre-debate food is ribs and that he had them tonight. Hee.
9:04 Obama gets that "How is this going to effect ME?" is everybody's question. He doesn't sound as polished as I'm used to hearing, but a damn sight better than Palin did in the Couric interview.
9:06 McCain has Ted Kennedy in his thoughts and prayers. Good job.
9:07 McCain says people are going to lose their "credits." Other than that he's sounding really good.
9:08 Lehrer invites them to "negotiate a deal right here." AWESOME. Let's do that.
9:09 Obama said we didn't set up a "21st century regulatory framework." One could draw a parallel to the way we fought this war, BTW, but Obama doesn't go there.
9:11 McCain wants people responsible for economic crises to resign. Ahem.
9:13 NEWSFLASH McCain believes in the American worker!
9:15 McCain admits that the Republicans in power have been spending crazily and that the crazy spending is the Rs fault. Very interesting inchon landing there, Senator.
9:16 Do not make jokes. Do not make jokes about bears. ABSOLUTELY don't make jokes about bears when nobody's allowed to laugh.
9:18 Obama just compared the 18 billion in pork to the 300 billion McCain wants to cut from rich people's taxes. Nicely done, Senator. His words are coming much more naturally now. He seems to have warmed up.
9:20 McCain doesn't mean to go back and forth. We know. He tried not to attend the debate at all. Ba-dum-ching! McCain is back on pork barrel, I assume because that is what he was prepared for.
9:21 Nobody's talking about "change". I should have said I would drink when people said "Main Street." McCain says that the business taxes in America are the highest in the world.
9:22 Obama points out that due to deductions and loopholes, American businesses pay one of the LOWEST tax rates. Nice job, Senator.
9:23 I had not know about this health care tax stuff. I look forward to reading up.
9:24 I think McCain just almost called Obama "Captain".
9:25 TheCSO says McCain's doing a bad job with this facial expressions.
9:26 Jim Lehrer is asking Obama what he plans to give up as a result of the expenses of a slowing economy. Very good question. Obama nicely dances past the question and talks about biodiesel and stuff. He also favors hopes, dreams, etc.
9:28 How is it that Kerry had the most liberal record in the senate four years ago and Obama has it now?
9:29 Remind me to ask my local naval engineers about that boat he's talking about.
9:31 Lehrer called them both out on dodging the question. Obama's still dancing. But he talked about working with Tom Coburn.
9:32 McCain wants a spending freeze on everything but stuff Republicans like.
9:33 Obama favors scalpels, not hammers.
9:34 McCain believes in nuclear power. Actually, so do I.
9:35 Jim Lehrer is just not giving up on this question. Neither of them seems willing to admit that the economy will effect their administration.
9:36 Heh. Obama said "orgy"
9:37 John McCain just said he's not Miss Congeniality for the second time.
9:38 Jim Lehrer has officially given up trying to get them to answer the question.Now wants to know about Iraq.
9:39 McCain says we're going to win in Iraq
9:41 Has Obama mentioned that he was initially against the war? He's mentioning the surplus in the Iraqi economy again.
9:43 McCain sensibly points out that the ship has sailed on the decision of going in.
9:46 McCain sure spends a lot of time in Iraq. Think he pays for those trips?
9:49 Obama voted against troop funding before he was for it, or vice versa. My attention is wandering.
9:51 McCain is snarking on Obama for not predicting that the surge would succeed. I'm still pissed that the R's couldn't predict that the insurgents would fight the way the PLO does. I'm still pretty sure that *I* could have come up with that.
9:53 McCain has also been to parts of Pakistan that I can't spell.
9:54 Obama may be threatening Pakistan, but McCain once threated SPAIN. I'm totally getting a Ross Perot vibe from McCain tonight.
9:57 McCain has supported every damn war ever.
9:58 I know telling personal stories is a shopworn political tactic, but it REALLY makes McCain come off as Grandpa.
9:59 Obama says "No U.S. Soldier ever dies in vain." a nice comeback to McCain, but hmm...
10:01 McCain just snarked on Obama and Obama smiled. Come on, Obama, bait McCain some more. Make him lose it.
10:03 On to Iran. McCain is AGAINST additional holocausts. Wants "League of Democracies" which makes me think superheroes would be involved.
10:05 Point of personal privilege: I have long wondered if Iraq did have WMDs at some point but snuck them into Iran before we could get them. Nobody addresses this.
10:07 I forgive McCain for fucking up the pronunciation of "Ahmadenijad," but mispronouncing "Perestroika" was just sad.
10:08 Everyone's talking about how great diplomacy is. Sigh. To bad neither of the candidates is a badass awesome diplomat who WENT TO DARFUR AND GOT THE SIDES TO TALK Ahem.
10:11 Obama confirms that Spain is indeed our friend.
10:12 McCain should really stop trying to make jokes.
10:13 Is it just me or does McCain have some kind of Jack Nicholson thing going on with his voice?
10:14 When Obama gets annoyed, he gets BETTER. I think this is the law professor in him.
10:15 When McCain gets annoyed, his jokes improve, but he gets more incoherent. Also, the man who is standing on a box tonight is saying that North Koreans are short because they live in an oppressive regime.
10:16 Why are we asking OBAMA about Russia. He can't even see it from his house?
10:18 McCain has looked into Putin's eyes. Probably on another trip. Also, am I on glue, or didn't Georgia actually move its troops first?
10:20 McCain says "I've been to Georgia," and CC's brain starts going And California, and...anywhere I could run, took the hand of a preacher man and we...made love in the sun Thanks a lot, Senator
10:25 Obama brought it back around to Energy independence
10:26 McCain says that "Offshore drilling is a bridge." Yeah, we know what kind of bridges you people support.
10:27 McCain says "No one is opposed to alternate sources of energy" though one guy up there didn't bother to show up for the last big vote on them, and that guy was not Obama.
10:28 Eww... Does Obama actually think that airport security is making us safer?
10:29 Obama brings up how other countries not hating us is also a form of defense. Even I wasn't thinking of that, but he's right. Also, he answered Lehrer's question.
10:30 SDI is so fucking stupid. Nobody's going to shoot missiles at us. We don't need to fear missiles. We need to fear a crazy guy putting a big bomb in his rowboat and sailing into New York harbor.
10:32 McCain just compared Obama to Bush in an admittedly interesting inchon landing.
10:34 Next Thursday, the Vice Presidential Candidates will be debating. CC will be drinking every time somebody says "Alaska." Might as well call in sick for Friday now.
Analysis: I think they both did really well. Given that this was McCain's strong suit, Obama probably won because he didn't lose. But I wouldn't say either one got his ass handed to him.
I don't know. I thought it was cute. It makes me want to start working "thrive" into my casual communications.
If even for a second you find yourself thinking "Well, she's not doing THAT badly," please recall that:
1. Why should we spend 700 billion to bail out rich guys who made stupid choices and profited from them when that money could do a lot of good other places?
2. How again does being Governor of Alaska give you foreign policy experience?
are COMPLETELY OBVIOUS QUESTIONS that the campaign has to have prepared her for extensively because there was just no way they weren't being asked.
Watch CBS Videos Online
She's a lot better here, at least partially due to editing, but not, you know, good, and the last 45 seconds or so is kinda hilarious:
who recalls that Bush senior ran with a guy whom everyone thought was a moron and won, so it's not over yet.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Will someone please tell me how Joel is wrong about this? I've got the sense that there's a really, good succinct counterargument but it's not coming to mind, perhaps because I am very tired and stressed still.
My theory has always been that well-done socialized medicine would feel like Everybody having Kaiser Permanente*. It sounds like I'm pretty optimistic.
I like my SmartCar, but my next car may be an audi.
I thought this was pretty fascinating. I feel prepared for the next person who tells me that immigrants should all just do the paperwork and immigrate legally.
hat tip to Cranky Cindy for the Letterman clip
*If you've never had Kaiser, this requires a bit of explanation. Kaiser runs its own little "health centers" that are basically a cross between an urgent care and a hospital. When you're sick enough to go to the doctor, you go there. You don't typically have the same doctors, though if you really want a specific doctor you can make that happen with effort. You order your eyeglasses from one room and get a pap smear in another room in the same building and grab your medication from the pharmacy on the way out that also sells discount vitamins. It's convenient, reasonably inexpensive and once you get the routine, preventative care is a lot easier to do and you find yourself doing it more often since with a little planning you can take half a day off from work and get your yearly physical and your eyes checked and your birth control prescription all in one morning.
Kaiser is AWESOME at simple things. That said, if you have a condition that is at all weird, or at all complicated, you usually have to fight your way through a fuckton of paperwork and bureaucracy before they will give you the treatment you need, even if your doctors agree that you need it. One of the really wonderful things about theCSO is that he "speaks bureaucrat" and is AMAZING at getting what he wants out of bureaucracies. So I never worried about having Kaiser. But not everyone knows someone with that skill.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Are you people going to jump on me if I say "Eww"?
Guess I will find out.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
As emails about my twitter feed keep coming in and I keep responding, an increasing number of you know that my husband was in a bike accident on Sunday night and has been in the hospital ever since.
He was wearing a helmet, thank goodness, because the significant injuries are to his face and head. He's alive, mentally OK and unparalyzed, but not entirely undamaged.
We're talking to plastic surgeons and researching exactly what a small subdural hemmorhage means. (What a big subdural hemmhorage means is well-known and extremely scary, and that subdural hemmhorages can be so tiny as to be insignificant is also true. We're in the middle, leaning toward the tiny but not completely there.)
We know he's off his bike for the season. What else it means is something we're still working on. The hours between midnight and noon today will represent the first twelve-hour period that I haven't spent hours by his side, but a girl has to bill a few hours occaisionally.
Suffice to say, our lives have been significantly upended.
And just about everyone who has heard has reached out. I have friends in a lot of different areas of my life that group easily by where I met them. I have work friends, law school friends, college friends and ex-coworker friends. I have blog friends, too, of course, but their scattered nature has meant that offers of prayers and someone to talk to have been about all they can do. Which is totally fine and to be expected, it's not like I could fly to Utah or Massachusetts or Georgia to make them cupcakes either and besides, theCSO has really enjoyed it when I've read him emails from people.
But my church friends have been like no other group in their speed, commitment and teamwork. I don't know what it is about church friends, maybe it's just that we're used to finding out that something needs to be done and working together to do it, but invitations to dinner, visits and roasted chickens have been marching my way with an organized precision that I would not necessarily have thought our somewhat disorganized faith was capable of.
I got the call from a minister, of course, and as theCSO doesn't know either of the ministers at my church well, we begged off on the visit. I'm sure the pastoral care committee assigned to do this stuff would be happy to join in with the chicken-cooking and the cheerleading. But has really amazed and impressed me as how smoothly and quickly my regular church friends have jumped up to help, the people I gossip with on Sundays and maybe eat dinner with a few times a year. My impression is that many facebook messages have been exchanged about what I might need and who might do what. We really haven't even needed the official resources of the church because the regular congregants have been so awesome.
One could assume that a whole bunch of people who happen to be especially useful in a crisis all happen to go to church with me and happen to be the people at church I've gotten to know well, but I think that's a few too many assumptions. And I don't discount the importance of committee work when it comes to building relationships where people work together to get things done. But then, other groups of my friends have worked together to achieve goals, too.
I think a big part of it is that my friends who have done the really superior job stepping up and working together are the ones who come together with me every week to focus on that which is greater than themselves, and that the spiritual aspect of our coming together makes it a natural thing for them to anticipate my needs and meet them while I'm still focused on theCSO.
At the same time, I probably am a project in some sense, but I don't feel like one. My family was an occiasional project for the Presby church I went to when I was a kid, and thinking of those times always brings to mind snarky C.S. Lewis quotes like ""She's the sort of woman who lives for others—you can always tell the others by their hunted expression."
That could have been a personality-of-the-congregation thing, but I have my doubts.
So anyway, I need to get back to work as I head back toward theCSO at 1:00. I'm always happy to be a UU and I'm always happy to be a member of my church. But I'm feeling both of those doubly today.
And I'm doubly committed to being there for the next friend who has a crisis.
The night of the accident, I updated my twitter feed repeatedly with tweets expressing my fear and frustration. Twitter, as it always does, put those tweets in the box at the top right of my blog. The morning after, I pulled most of the scared-sounding tweets down as they felt like I was oversharing, though I kept them up on Facebook where people I've friended could see them.
In the twelve hours or so that they were up, lots of Chalicesseurs saw those tweets and emailed me, which was very welcome. Due to the fact that they were up from late Sunday night to sometime Monday morning, lots of Chalicesseurs also didn't see those tweets, which is also fine. I know they would have reached out had they seen them.
It might well have been that I wanted to be able to look at my blog without seeing them myself.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Again, I love this.
who has always liked the Christian Science Monitor. She has obvious disagreements, but the writing is always top-notch.
Ps. Here's the Freakonomics blog on what the hell is going on with the economy.
PPs. If you must have an insulting nickname for Sarah Palin, I vote for "Moosealini."
PPPs. Get your daily dose of irony right here.
(((However, I don't hew to the theory that THERE IS NO WHITE PRIVILEGE AT WORK HERE AT ALL.)))
Well, I can't speak for Joel, but I don't hew to that either.
As I wrote many responses ago, "I didn't say that it wasn't a factor, I just (a) don't think it's the deciding factor people keep claiming and (b) think it's a pretty defeatist thing to be focusing on at a time when defeatism is a really bad idea."
I wrote my post in response to Joel's response to two different posts:
This one, and this one, both of which focus heavily on the mistakes and drawbacks of the Republican ticket and come to the conclusion that Obama is so utterly lacking in flaws by comparison that his lack of clear victory must the the result of white privilege or racism, the first article going so far as to snot that the article is "For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege.*"
What they are missing is that many of those "drawbacks" aren't drawbacks at all when they are viewed in the light of Republican voters' clear and often-stated preference for candidates who aren't too eggheaded and have "lived it" in some sense or another. I'm sorry, people who think "If only John McCain had been an Ivy League constitutional scholar he would be doing SO MUCH BETTER in the polls" have no freaking clue how electoral politics works in this country.
Obama isn't just "not like me" because he's black. Yes, that's a part of it and you won't see me ever denying it. But it's not the whole story and in my view to say that the entire election turns on white privilege or racism (as the above-mentioned articles at least strongly imply) is first of all incorrect and secondly insane from a strategy perspective.
I do think that there are stupid people who won't vote for Obama straight up because he's black. I don't think there are very many people like that and I don't think that the stupid racist vote is a vote Democrats have often had in the past anyway, so I'm confused that all the sudden people appear to have been counting on it and are stressed about the fact that we won't have it.
Also, Bill Barr has a bit of a point in that I think that there are a lot of people who like the fact that Obama is black. I voted for Gore and Kerry and was basically pleased to do it, but when I vote for Obama, there's going to be a special thrill there because I know I'm going to be voting for the guy that I still think will be the first black president. I'm going to know that I'm doing my tiny part to make history**. That's pretty cool.
For the record, I don't think "making history" is a deciding factor either. If, say, Condoleeza Rice were running, the fact that she's black and a woman wouldn't be enough to get me to vote for her by any means***. But I do think Barr is right that the "making history" factor is in the mix, though he didn't put it the way I just did.
But anyway, I really think these articles focusing on the white privilege and racism elements are a bad idea even if they are correct.
I think doing anything that looks like either whining or justifying why we lost is, ahem, THE WORST THING WE COULD POSSIBLY BE DOING at this point when we need to be focused on energizing people and making people want to vote for our guy.
After all, if the election is already lost because of something our candidate can't change, we might as well all stay home, right?
Nobody likes a loser, so we need to stop talking about Obama like he's destined to be one.
We're ahead in the polls, kids. Let's not blow it now by talking like noble losers. Say what you will about the Republicans, they do not talk like losers. They play to win. Let's do that.
I don't want a moral victory. I want an actual one.
*WHERE did liberals get the idea that talking to people who disagree like they are stupid is sound electoral strategy, and HOW can I disabuse them of this notion?
** And I don't know that many Republicans will be thrilled to tell their grandchildren that they voted AGAINST the first black president because they didn't like his stand on taxation. But that's just me talking.
*** But oh, goodness that election would be fun to watch. Condi vs. Hillary is still my dream matchup from an entertainment standpoint.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Anthony Salinas, 18, tacked on the gasoline surcharge when he sold a confidential police source coke on two occasions in June. While arranging one buy, Salinas told the source that a quarter-ounce of cocaine would cost $240--$215 for the drug itself and "$25.00 for gas money to deliver the cocaine," according to the court affidavit, a copy of which you'll find below.
Hat tip to My favorite libertarian blog.
While I appreciate the compliment, I didn't do it to be nice, I did it because I know that once a dead cat gets under the porch, the stench tends to linger and that lies work the same way.
I got another waft of that particular dead cat today on someone else's blog.
So, if you've recently heard about a shocking thing that somebody says I said that doesn't really sound like something any reasonable person, particularly a UU, would say, please click here.
*Or what the not-terribly-bright person thinks I said, if you want to be charitable.
And I substantially agree with what Joel has written here about the claims the McCain is winning through "White Privilege," with "white privilege" being defined as "being a flawed human being who uses dirty, but effective political tactics."
Of course the Obama campaign fights dirty, too. But that's not "playing the race card" or anything, I take it.
I'm not voting for McCain, but I'm pretty offended by the entire "If my candidate isn't winning, it must be because people voting for the other guy are racists" line of thinking and not just because it's so incredibly illogical given the voting record of the country over the past couple of decades, though that is the primary reason*.
That said, I think what bothers me most is how defeatist it is.
Obama's not getting whiter before November, kids. If racism is going to decide this election, it's over.
Of course, it's not over, we're even ahead as of this writing, and I, for one, would like an ACTUAL VICTORY more than a MORAL VICTORY for once, despite my maschochistic habit of voting for Democrats.
So can we quit talking like we've already lost?
* Also because I have a fundamental objection to the entire "Anybody can be called a racist at any time. A racist is a horrible, inexcusable thing to be and there's no defense from the charge at all, no matter how you've lived your life, what you've done for other people and who your friends are" way charges of racism are generally leveled. Around the time that I was called a "self-hating reverse racist" and a regular "racist" within the same month I kinda got over it personally, but it still violates my sense of justice. Of course, lots of things do.
Monday, September 15, 2008
In searching for readings for the technology lay service that I'm helping out with, I looked those lyrics up, thinking they might be a cool reading.
Actually, no, the lyrics are pretty much garbage, it's just that the actress who played Maureen did such a great job with them that she completely snowed me ten years ago.
Summertime. (And the livin' is easy.)
A standard of both American Idol contestants and New Orleans street musicians, this jazz classic was written by George Gershwin, a New York Jew, who based it on a Russian lullaby, for Porgy and Bess, a musical/opera where it was sung by African Americans. Either Ella Fitgerald's or Billie Holiday's version is probably the most famous, but it has been sung by artists as diverse as Kenney Chesney, Sublime, Bobby McFerrin and New Kids on the Block. It has been covered 4000 times in dozens of languages.
The opera it was written for is based on a novel by a southern white guy who wrote it about southern blacks. Presumably the song would not exist had the novel not come first.
A few questions:
Did Gershwin misappropriate the lullaby in the first place?
Well, given that his dad was Moishe Gershowitz from St. Petersburg, one could certainly argue that Russian culture was his to dip into. But Gershwin himself was an American and the lullaby was from a different part of Russia.
If Gershwin had appropriated it, can the product of an appropriation have such great artistic merit as to make the appropriation excusable?
Does this song belong to:
Southern white people?
New York Jewish people?
I submit that it belongs to us all and that truly great works of art and literature and music become so because they speak to universal truths.
A white guy sung "Ol' Man River."
A black friend of mine was furious saying that song was his culture's music.
I thought, "Ummm, it's from Showboat. I think that was written by white people."
But I didn't want to start anything with someone who was already so annoyed.
And I sort of saw how it's a song about the struggles of African-Americans. So maybe it was functionally the African-American culture's property.
But at the same time, I knew how deeply the words "Tired of living and scared of dying" resonated with me, and the idea that no matter what, the river just kept rolling along. I might have been privileged, but I knew how that felt.
And I decided that I was never figuring that one out.
And I'm sure singing another culture's song to prove how liberal you are is wrong.
And I couldn't accept that singing another culture's song because it resonated with you and you understood it and you felt what it wanted you to feel was anything but right.
But I never got any farther with the issue.
CORRECTION: I initially wrote that the song was from "Porgy and Bess." I thank RLC for his quick email setting me straight.
I'm working on a lay service on technology. The specific topic I'm going to be speaking on is the ways technology brings us together and connects us. Yes, I know some people isolate themselves with technology*. I plan to sort of address that, yet I have been repeatedly struck by how the computer and the cell phone have been two of the most revolutionary technologies in recent memory and they are both fundamentally about bringing people together.
When I was a kid, the Chalicemom casually mentioned that once you got out of high school, you pretty much never saw your high school friends again. The inconvenience of mail and the cost of long distance made that simply the way things were when she was a young adult. By the time I was in high school, everybody had e-mail and I did keep in touch with a fair number of people. Now Facebook has brought me back in touch with even more of them. And calling plans abound where you pay a flat amount per month and can use all the long distance you want. How has it changed us that losing people when we move is now a choice we make rather than a reality we are forced to face?
A good friend of mine is in contact with his Mom every single day on Yahoo messenger. He keeps it on pretty much all day and she can message him, one assumes, anytime she needs something or even if she's just lonely. (Though I'm sure he says "can't chat now Mom, gotta work" if she messages at a bad time.) He genuinely thinks it's great to be in such constant contact with his mother. That said, not all of us would be unreservedly delighted to be in that situation.
How about being able to find people who believe or enjoy the same things you do with a few keystrokes on google? How about being able to blog and kick ideas around just as I'm doing here? What's the personal and spiritual upshot of all of this connection?
Mostly, I think it's all about having more choices and I think it's great.
But I'm still thinking through this stuff and fleshing it out.
Any ideas? Any questions for me on these topics? Any thoughts on the spiritual dimension of these connections?
*I tend to think those folks would isolate themselves anyway, just another way, though. The world didn't lack for isolated people before technology, after all. If anything, it's better for isolated folks to be having suboptimal contact on the internet than to be reading books or working on model trains or something all day and have none at all.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I'm in one of those periods of contentment that always makes me worry that the other shoe is about to drop. Little things could be improved about my life. I need to get more billable hours, spend more time in front of the WiiFit, go visit Linguistfriend and get a little more one-on-one time with my husband, but on the whole, things are good.
I'm a total nerd for this but I love tax law. It's just so delightfully straightforward. All the laws can be conveniently examined. The cases make sense. It's great! I sometimes have trouble remembering that most people don't love tax law, and y'all were only barely spared a post on Sarah Palin's commuting in light of the Flowers case.
I don't love corporations. But I feel like I should understand them, so I'm taking the class.
ZombieKid was joining the school band this year and was thinking about playing the clarinet or flute. As far as I can tell a skinny boy carrying a clarinet or flute around junior high might as well be wearing a sign that says "Please kick my ass," so I was delighted when he ended up going with the saxaphone.
Due to the questionable influence of Jana-who-creates and Joe-the-Math-guy, I started reading comic books this summer. I'm mostly through Preacher's trade paperbacks now, though the last few are on order and am about to start Fables. I read V for Vendetta but failed to see what the fuss was all about. I had read Sandman in college and much preferred it. I've got Watchmen sitting on my shelf awaiting my attention. Edie-who-sells-books also sells comic books and has been delighted by this turn of events because she knows how fast I read.
Also, at the suggestion of Katy-the-Wise, this summer I started reading Harry Kemelman's detective series about Rabbi David Small. I really like it and look forward to finishing it. I've had some nice conversations with Katy-the-Wise recently. I am constantly amazed at the number of smart and awesome friends I have.
Jana-who-Creates is in charge of making sure I don't turn evil. (I know, I know, she's behind.) and ZombieKid is in charge of making sure I remain fun. It disturbed Jana that she went on two retreats with me in two weeks and I only brought homework to read. So I'm trying to keep things in balance.
YRUU starts again tomorrow. We have a ton of new yutes and I look forward to getting to know them, though I seriously miss some of the ones who went to college this year. I'm writing the script for the Murder Mystery Dinner again.
Oh, and I'M GOING TO SEE SANDRA BERNHARD tonight with Jana-who-Creates!
So that's me.
What's up with you?
Friday, September 12, 2008
I was a big fan of the Coburn Amendment and even took the time to include a link where you could check and see how your senator voted on it. (It's in a footnote to that story.)
LA-Melani wrote me last night asking about this whole "Bridge to Nowhere" fuss as she didn't recall having heard about it a few years ago. In researching my explanation, I looked up what I'd written about it and followed my own old link.
Obama and Biden both voted to keep the Bridge to Nowhere rather than using the money to rebuild bridges in Louisiana. (McCain didn't vote, but then, he rarely does.*)
In fairness to the ticket I'm still planning to vote for, this amendment did fail 86-15. It was not a popular amendment at all. Also, neither of them has made cutting pork a centerpiece of their campaigns, so they are less accountable on the issue than the McCain-Palin ticket, that has.
But I still thought that needed to be said.
*MoveOn.org: If you're reading this, I'd like to request that you PLEASE do an attack ad talking about all the issues McCain talked about at the convention, but didn't bother to vote on when he had the chance. Start here, given that McCain made such a fuss about energy independence at the campaign and his vote would have been DECISIVE there. Basically, McCain killed an attempt at energy independence mearly by not showing up.
Of course Obama has missed a lot of votes, too. But McCain has missed more.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Because I was WAY less cool in high school than Peacebang was and I totally see Hillary and I as pals.
FWIW this is dorky young Hillary. She so would have fit in with my group of smartypants, yet terribly earnest friends.
Hill and I would have walked around the track in gym class, talking about European history as the popular kids raced past each other. We would have snuck off campus for lunch, thinking we were super daring for doing so, then gone home after school to study chemistry together. She'd be bummed about her B plusses and I'd be psyched to get a B, but I never was very good academically.
She would TOTALLY have gotten me cutting Latin class to work on an investigative peice for the school paper on coaches who use chewing tobacco in violation of county law, and she would have slipped me her notes after class. When a cute boy asked me to write a paper for him and I did, and this didn't cause him to fall in love and ask me to the homecoming dance, Hill would have been there with me to analyze the situation. We would have gone to lock-ins with one another's respective protestant church youth groups and I would have managed her campaign for student body president, though been super careful that my stories about the election in the school paper were fair to both sides. Because she and I would totally agree on how important journalistic ethics were.
Senior year, we would have driven out near the airport to drink cokes and watch the planes land, talking about how I was going to be a reporter and she was going to be an astronaut, but whatever we did, we were getting OUT of this crummy town. We would have heard the rumor that Sarah shoplifted some boots for Vicki and been completely shocked. Don't they know that shoplifting is WRONG? Besides, they could have gotten CAUGHT! Do they want to RUIN THEIR FUTURES? Some of us are GOING PLACES!
And I'm sure we would have been crazy with envy when all the cute guys wanted to date Sarah and Vicki. But that's ok. The prom was too close to AP tests for our comfort anyway. Though there was Robert, that guy from the math team. He's got a big nose and weird hair, but I hear he got into Brown. And doesn't he have an older brother at Swarthmore?
who does NOT see this as a reason to vote for Hillary, but finds the contrast with PB interesting.
My favorite part?
Meanwhile, work is under way on a three-mile road on Gravina Island, originally meant to connect the airport and the new bridge. State officials said last year they were going ahead with the $25 million road because the money would otherwise have to be returned to the federal government.
Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...
52% Intrigue, 80% Civilization, 63% Humanity, 69% Urbanization.
As Mister Spock would say: Fascinating. It seems you've managed to hit the edge of the curve on all metrics. An extraordinary life is almost certain.
According to your answers, you want it all, you want a lot of it, and you're willing to do what it takes to get it! Adventure! Romance! Technology! Challenge! You love civilization. You like people. You love the complications and joys of a big, weird crowd of humans plus lots of other beings wandering into dangerous and complicated corners of the galaxy.
There is an ideal place for you, and you are ideal for it: Welcome to the crew of the starship Enterprise. Captain Kirk would have welcomed you aboard himself, but his head was too big to fit in the landing bay.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
PG has pointed me to a test case where the Alliance Defense Fund, basically a conservative ACLU, is encouraging ministers to endorse political candidates on Sunday, September 28, 2008.
I'm pretty extreme on church state issues partially as a moral thing and partially for strategic reasons in that I'm a liberal and I think conservatives are just plain better at using religion in the ways that currently endanger one's tax exempt status. (At least partially because some liberals have moral issues with it.)
As it stands, lay services get out of hand sometimes, but mostly ministers are reduced to hinting that there's a party of decent folks and a party of greedy bastards and leaving the congregation to figure out which one is which. (I've been in the pews when this was said. I'm paraphrasing, but not much.)
A few reasons why I hate this: I don't want to hear any more about politics in church than I have to. I don't want the candidates to have to pander to religion any more than they have to. I don't want candidates feeling that they need to suck up to ministers and I don't want ministers tempted with the sort of earthly power that asskissing politicians would be offering.
It's comforting that I really don't think the ADL's attempt is going to survive the courts. As recently as 2000, three Reagan appointees on a federal appeals court shot down a New York church's attempt to buy advertising against a candidate.
To me, the answer is simple. If churches want to preach about politics, they should just suck it up and pay taxes. (And if my church did that, I would find a different church much as I would if my minister started endorsing a brand of sneakers or anything else.)
This also gives a good test. The question I am most commonly asked about this stance is "Is it possible for there to be a moral issue or candidate so crucial to people of faith that it is worth the violation of church and state to speak out for/against it?"
The tax question provides a simple answer. If the issue is so crucial that it is worth giving up your 501(c)3 status, then give it up and you won't hear one word of complaint from me, except as the door hits me in the ass on the way out if this happens at my congregation.
If the issue isn't worth giving up a chunk of money for, well, you have your answer on how truly crucial it is, don't you?
CLARIFICATION: I'm 90 percent sure that this is obvious and Robin is teasing me in the comments but just in case: I am only interested in endorsements FROM THE PULPIT. Ministers may endorse whatever brands of sneaker and politician they like in their own private lives.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Palin's running mate, John McCain, and the GOP platform say children should be taught that abstinence until marriage is the only safe way to avoid pregnancy and disease. Palin's position is less clear....
In July of , she completed a candidate questionnaire that asked, would she support funding for abstinence-until-marriage programs instead of "explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?"
Palin wrote, "Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support."
But in August of that year, Palin was asked during a KTOO radio debate if "explicit" programs include those that discuss condoms. Palin said no and called discussions of condoms "relatively benign."
"Explicit means explicit," she said. "No, I'm pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues. So I am not anti-contraception. But, yeah, abstinence is another alternative that should be discussed with kids. I don't have a problem with that. That doesn't scare me, so it's something I would support also."
Does "explicit" include homosexuality? Probably.
That said, my guess is that it's mostly referring to the idea that sex ed classes are instructing kids on how to do it, like it's Driver's Ed or something. I've heard conservatives espouse this, though I don't really understand it.
And, as I've mentioned, Governor Palin has never done anything to promote abstinance-only education.
Yet another reason why leaving Bristol alone is both the right and the pragmatic thing to do.
But hey, Palin is a backwoods Christian and we all know what they are like. So maybe y'all can just jump to some more conclusions and keep going. Why let the facts get in the way?
And it rained. Boy hidey, did it rain. It looked like someone had just put a hose on the downspout. The kids seemed evenly divided between the ones who wanted to go play in the mud and the ones who preferred the indoor messes that come with arts an crafts.
There were, as I mentioned, conversations about God and workshops about spirituality as well as lots of arts and crafts, and a few attempted marshmellow roasts that were rained out. I lead a journaling workshop that is secular in title, though the journaling often ends up with a reverent and religious tone as the prompts tend to focus on values and that tends to bring people's thoughts to that which is greater than themselves.
Now this will sound immensely cheesy to those of you who are unchurched, and maybe some of you that aren't, but we have a dance we do every year on a large field after Saturday night vespers. We all hold hands and sing a simple song over and over again while someone who knows how to lead the dance leads the line of people in this spiral pattern that turns in on itself in such a way that everybody gets to be in the center at some point and then loops along back out of the spiral. When there are 300+ people dancing, this is a pretty big event.
It feels really spiritual and cool, even as people sometimes drop hands and one part of the spiral has to go chasing after the part that is leaving it behind.
Anyway, on Saturday afternoon as I led my journaling workshop while Hannah raged, I found myself thinking about this hokey, awesome dance and how weird it was going to feel to simply go back to summer-camp-esque activities after an indoor Vespers. I was bummed.
But shortly before Vespers, the storm broke. We opened the doors of the dining hall where we'd been having our service, and we started to sing our song. Soon I was looping in toward the middle of the spiral, watching the happy faces and muddly clothes of my fellow congregants go by, old ladies and little boys alike. I wish I'd been able to stop dancing long enough to get a picture of the clouds breaking apart above the trees as we spiraled around, some people kicking their shoes off and feeling the mud between their toes.
Now, I can't say that all 299 other people will be with me on this one, but it made me want to dance every year, in the rain if necessary.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
But Joe Biden took office immediately after his wife and infant daughter were killed in a traffic accident, and the other two kids hospitalised. He took the oath in their hospital room. I'm not criticizing him for that decision, I'm just asking how one can criticize Palin for running when her kids need her after praising Biden.
I recall having somewhat similar thoughts about John Edwards when I wrote:
I get an asshole vibe from the guy. At the same time, I don't know that I want a man whose wife is dying running the country. Maybe I'm a bitch for that, but I'd rather not be speculating which role is getting short shrift, president or husband/father. And I'm going to be speculating that everytime there's a fuckup in the Edwards presidency while his first lady is dying. Again, maybe I'm a bitch for that.
Now, Elizabeth Edwards is an adult and can consent to John being at work all the time, but my understanding is that given the stage of her cancer there is an excellent chance that she will die in the next eight years, which would have left his kids with a president father and no mother. And I heard NOT ONE WORD from any of y'all on that point when Edwards was a candidate and I doubt you complained much when Biden was taking the oath either. But then, neither John Edwards nor Joe Biden has a vagina.
IMNERHO, this is another reason we should quit criticizing Palin's parental choices and focus on her record.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The big thing Palin is bringing to the ticket policy-wise is her experience as a reformer and an enemy of government waste. Too bad for McCain that it doesn't seem to be true.
I'll leave the conclusions to Radley:
Which means that Palin either wasn’t vetted at all, or McCain’s staff did vet her and didn’t see a problem with any of this.
Neither scenario inspires much confidence in McCain or his staff.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
(1995–2007) Trying to control the faith, sexuality, reproduction, drug use, and national allegiance of every single American. (2007–) Aw, Fuck it.
As President, He Pledges To:
Use his platform to apologize for things he supported as a Republican
And I'm really, really appalled.
Guys, Bristol is seventeen. Bristol is pregnant. And Bristol probably feels like the whole country is making fun of her. And Bristol's momma is being attacked over and over by half the nation because Bristol was stupid enough to get knocked up*.
Imagine the damage we are doing to this kid. How much therapy is it going to take to fix the humiliation we're inflicting on her?
And keep in mind that while the age of consent is 16 in Alaska, she's still below the age of consent in several US states**.
Haffner's argument was that Palin had used her family as a positive example, so we should be able to use them as a negative one.
Not because Palin asked us not to. But because treating a minor like this is wrong.
*As a former teenage girl, I think I can safely assert that this is the way she is thinking of it.
**Though the father is too. I'm not saying she was raped, I'm saying that the legislatures of several states (including McCain's home state of Arizona and Biden's home state of Delaware) think she isn't mature enough to make the decision to have sex. This is a minor we're talking about, and likely a quite sheltered one. Let's not take out our anger on her.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Now, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no principles, so this is entirely me the lay person who doesn't like the principles much in the first place.
That having been said:
1. It's really weird that at a time when the UUA is doing a lot of obnoxious things in the name of "Strengthening the congregations" that the new edit of the principles bumps all references to congregations into the explanation parts beneath them.
2. There's a lot of excess verbiage there. The UUA principles always struck me as halfway between a corporate mission statement and the UDHR, so in a sense verbose is ok. But do we really need "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part" explained to us in such dull language. If the poetry of the 7 principles is doomed anyway, then we might as well go with Dan's version.
3. Can we go back to putting "Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant or bond of union used by any society unless such is used as a creedal test" at the bottom everytime we write the principles? Katy-the-Wise did an awesome sermon once about how the disclaimer defined us better than the principles do.
4. I really like the "Identity" section
The Unitarian Universalist Association is composed of congregations rooted in the heritage of two religious faiths: the Unitarian heritage ever questioning and ever seeking the unity in all things, and the Universalist heritage ever affirming the power of hope and God’s infinite love. Both traditions have been shaped by heretics, choice-makers who in every age have summoned individuals and communities to maintain their beliefs in spite of persecution and to struggle for religious freedom.
OK, that's my initial take.
My guess is that the explanation, to the extent that there can be one, is:
1. Teenage kids can be very stupid when the hormones take over.
2. There's not a lot to do in rural Alaska.
Though I remain mildly curious on the whole "let's fly back to Alaska while I'm in labor" issue, I'd be OK if we could all stop talking about the Palin family's vaginas about now.
Gotta say, Obama's being a real class act about this, between his public threat to fire any of his staffers who push the story and his bringing up that his own mother was 18 when she got pregnant with him.
Let's follow his example.
being off on a pedestal someplace in a dedicated space of its own.
This sculpture is in your space and right on the floor, indeed it
invites you to come right up to it and hang around within its area.
When you do, you realize that not only is it made of hot rolled steel,
but it isn't welded together. It's leaning together in what looks like a delicate balance. And about then you
realize that this sculpture could concievably kill you right where you
stand and your curiosity has placed your life in the hands of the
Some people say that modern art is really dull and impossible to
understand. I don't get those people.
class is something we're trying to move past, but at the same time
there's something completely awesome about sitting in a museum
watching a documentary and realizing that the expert who is talking on
the screen brought green beans to your last church potluck.
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