“There is one thing rarer than genius. That is radium. Mme. Curie illustrates the combination of both.” ~ Dr. William Lyon Phelps of Yale

                   

English: Marie Curie‘s birthplace in Warsaw, P...A non-traditional July 4th post (reblogged from Brain Pickings):

On July 4, 1934, legendary Polish-born physicist and chemist Marie Curiesage of science, reconstructionist, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to date to win a Nobel in two different sciences — took her last breath. The following day, The New York Times published a lengthy obituary for Curie, which began on the front page and spilled over into the interior of the paper — a rare outlier in mainstream media’s recently bemoaned severe gender bias in notable deaths, amidst the travesty of opening a remembrance for a female rocket scientist with her Beef Stroganoff recipe. Curie’s obituary, however, was a true masterpiece of the genre, celebrating Curie’s spirit and legacy in a beautifully dimensional way:

PARIS, July 4. — Mme. Marie Curie, whose work alone and with her husband on radium and radiology has been one of the greatest glories of modern science, died at 6 o’clock this morning in a sanitarium near Sallanches in Upper Savoy. Her death, which was caused by a form of pernicious anemia, was hastened by what her physicians termed “a long accumulation of radiations” which affected the bones and prevented her from reacting normally to the disease.

                            

Power

Living in the earth-depositis of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

~ Adrienne Rich

“Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs.” ~ Andrea Ayres

The following is not an easy read; it’s not meant to be. But if you are still under the mistaken illusion that we are not living in a rape culture, then you need to become better informed.

Photographs by Laurie Anderson

Anderson photographed men who called to her or whistled her on the street.  In her artist statement she writes about one experience,

“As I walked along Houston Street with my fully automated Nikon.  I felt armed, ready. I passed a man who muttered ‘Wanna fuck?’  This was standard technique: the female passes and the male strikes at the last possible moment forcing the woman to backtrack if she should dare to object.  I wheeled around, furious. ‘Did you say that?’ He looked around surprised, then defiant ‘Yeah, so what the fuck if I did?’ I raised my Nikon, took aim began to focus.  His eyes darted back and forth, an undercover cop? CLICK.”

Anderson takes the power from her male pursuers, allowing them nothing more than the momentary fear that their depravity has just been captured in a picture.

                  

For a thorough discussion on our society’s rape culture along with related links, read the following from Policymic:

Steubenville Rape Case: Does America Have an Unadmitted Rape Culture Problem?

by Andrea Ayres

In December, millions of Americans expressed outrage over the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India. American journalists bristled over the number of Indian lawmakers who themselves, face charges of rape. Articles rightfully, criticized India’s government and rape culture. As this story unfolded so too did another.

The New York Times wrote a piece on a 16-year-old girl in Ohio who was allegedly raped and urinated on by multiple individuals while unconscious at a party back in August of 2012. Since the article was published on December 16th, much has happened. A subgroup of Anonymous —known as KnightSec, worked with the blog Localleaks to disseminate a 12-minute long video of a Steubenville High School baseball player discussing the girl and her assault. KnightSec continues to release information regarding involved parties.

On January 3rd, a California appeals court ruled that the case involving Julio Morales raping a sleeping woman, would have to be retried due to an archaic 1872 law. The law essentially states that the woman had not been raped because she was unmarried and therefore was not protected from rape by imposters.

The list of recent news stories involving American cases of rape goes on. But unlike the story involving the 23-year-old Indian woman, American media has been slow to paint a realistic picture of our own rape culture and institutionalized misogyny.

Instead, what we see are instances like that in the Times piece that focuses the blame on “hero worship” in a small football town. But aside from some feminist bloggers, not once have we heard a mention of rape culture uttered as a contributing factor. When we hear stories of rape in America we focus on the individual or, at best, a group.

When the word rape is used, what do we think of? Do we think of the person we know, the ones who we trust? No. We think of the masked offender, the violent offender. But this is not how the majority of people experience (see below) rape or sexual assault.

In America:

Illinois is the only state that recognizes the right of an individual to rescind consent during the sex.

— Only in 1993 did marital rape become illegal.

— Out of every 100 rapes only 5 lead to felony convictions.

What victims of assault are more likely to experience in terms of reaction to coming forward about their assault is articulated by this account of rape by a former Amherst College student.

I challenge you to ask your friends what they do to “protect” themselves at night. Women are socialized to protect themselves. We pass dark allies with trepidation, we have our friends watch our drinks, and we walk in pairs. Ways to protect ourselves from would-be attackers are virtually everywhere.

In 2011 we saw the GOP introduce anti-abortion legislation that would also redefine rape. We also saw dangerous, misguided statements on rape and abortion at least eight other times by leaders of the Republican Party.

After a 2012 report from the DOD released numbers saying that since 2006 there had been a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults, Fox News analyst Liz Trotta stated that women should “expect” to be raped working in such close proximity.

The expectation of rape.

That is what survivors must deal with our peers/media telling us.” They should have known something like that would happen.” They deal with critique of clothing, character, past sexual history, and forced to relive the trauma.

But it is only “bad men” who rape, right?

No.

Reject that argument and its assertion.

The article “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too”  (link no longer available) posted on the Good Men Project has come under fire in recent weeks. The article readily admits that a friend slept with a woman while she was sleeping, but the article defends him because the woman had been flirting and giving him “mixed signals.”

After a backlash by bloggers, GMP defended their articles and published additional accounts by rapists.

The arguments on GMP that these aren’t “bad men” only men who have made mistakes, learned their lesson, and after all look at what the women did. Shouldn’t she be to blame? Doesn’t she hold at least some accountability? She had flirted with him for weeks…

But these arguments do nothing to help victims/survivors of sexual assault or rape. Instead, it plays into the notion that rape happens to people because they were doing something wrong. We didn’t take enough precautions. But when we do, when we tell the world why we view men with trepidation, we are also criticized.

That is what rape culture does.

It perpetuates a society that asks victims to be accountable for their actions, but offer forgiveness for rapists.

It’s a society that believes rapes are made-up at much higher instances than they actually are.

It’s a society that is so quick to judge an Eastern culture for its egregious laws and treatment of women, but overlooks its own.

                   

The Rapist isn’t a Masked Stranger

Rapist Victim Acquaintance

Approximately 2/3 of rapes were committed by someone known to the victim.1
73% of sexual assaults were perpetrated by a non-stranger.1
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.1
28% are an intimate.1
7% are a relative.1

He’s not Hiding in the Bushes

More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occured within 1 mile of their home or at their home.2

  • 4 in 10 take place at the victim’s home.
  • 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.
  • 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage.43% of rapes occur between 6:00pm and midnight.2
    • 24% occur between midnight and 6:00am.
    • The other 33% take place between 6:00am and 6:00pm.

    The Criminal

    • The average age of a rapist is 31 years old.2
    • 52% are white.2
    • 22% of imprisoned rapists report that they are married.2
    • Juveniles accounted for 16% of forcible rape arrestees in 1995 and 17% of those arrested for other sex offenses.2
    • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated — 30% with alcohol, 4% with drugs.3
    • In 2001, 11% of rapes involved the use of a weapon — 3% used a gun, 6% used a knife, and 2 % used another form of weapon.2
    • 84% of victims reported the use of physical force only.2
    Rapists are more likely to be a serial criminal than a serial rapist.

    46% of rapists who were released from prison were re-arrested within 3 years of their release for another crime.4

    • 18.6% for a violent offense.
    • 14.8% for a property offense.
    • 11.2% for a drug offense.
    • 20.5% for a public-order offense.

    References
    1. U.S. Department of Justice. 2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005.
    2. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1997 Sex Offenses and Offenders Study. 1997.
    3. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Statistics. 1998 Alcohol and Crime Study. 1998.
    4. 2002 Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 Study. 2002.
                   
Late edition (with thanks to Furious Buddha): Reported sexual assault at Notre Dame campus leaves more questions than answers

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” ~ Joan Didiion

Joan Didion, photographed by Brigitte Lancombe in Vogue

                   

Ever since I found out that this was available in a PDF, I have wanted to share it with you, so here is the first part of Joan Didion’s essay on why she writes. To read the complete essay, click on the link.

Enjoy.

Why I Write
By Joan Didion

Of course I stole the title for this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:

I
I
I

In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.

I stole the title not only because the words sounded right but because they seemed to sum up, in a no-nonsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers I have only this one “subject,” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front. I may have other interests: I am “interested,” for example, in marine biology, but I don’t flatter myself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I am not in the least an intellectual, which is not to say that when I hear the word “intellectual” I reach for my gun, but only to say that I do not think in abstracts. During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with the abstract.

In short I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron up the hill. When I say that I was wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron you might immediately suspect, if you deal in ideas at all, that I was registering the bevatron as a political symbol, thinking in shorthand about the military-industrial complex and its role in the university community, but you would be wrong. I was only wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron, and how they looked. A physical fact.

I had trouble graduating from Berkeley, not because of this inability to deal with ideas—I was majoring in English, and I could locate the house-and-garden imagery in The Portrait of a Lady as well as the next person, “imagery” being by definition the kind of specific that got my attention—but simply because I had neglected to take a course in Milton. I did this. For reasons which now sound baroque I needed a degree by the end of that summer, and the English department finally agreed, if I would come down from Sacramento every Friday and talk about the cosmology of Paradise Lost, to certify me proficient in Milton. I did this. Some Fridays I took the Greyhound bus, other Fridays I caught the Southern Pacific’s City of San Francisco on the last leg of its transcontinental trip. I can no longer tell you whether Milton put the sun or the earth at the center of his universe in Paradise Lost, the central question of at least one century and a topic about which I wrote 10,000 words that summer, but I can still recall the exact rancidity of the butter in the City of San Francisco’s dining car, and the way the tinted windows on the Greyhound bus cast the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits into a grayed and obscurely sinister light. In short my attention was always on the periphery, on what I could see and taste and touch, on the butter, and the Greyhound bus. During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was.

Which was a writer.

By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about images that shimmer around the edges. There used to be an illustration in every elementary psychology book showing a cat drawn by a patient in varying stages of schizophrenia. This cat had a shimmer around it. You could see the molecular structure breaking down at the very edges of the cat: the cat became the background and the background the cat, everything interacting, exchanging ions. People on hallucinogens describe the same perception of objects. I’m not a schizophrenic, nor do I take hallucinogens, but certain images do shimmer for me. Look hard enough, and you can’t miss the shimmer. It’s there. You can’t think too much about these pictures that shimmer. You just lie low and let them develop. You stay quiet. You don’t talk to many people and you keep your nervous system from shorting out and you try to locate the cat in the shimmer, the grammar in the picture.

Just as I meant “shimmer” literally I mean “grammar” literally. Grammar is a piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were mentioned. All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind. The picture dictates the arrangement. The picture dictates whether this will be a sentence with or without clauses, a sentence that ends hard or a dying-fall sentence, long or short, active or passive. The picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of the words tells you, or tells me, what’s going on in the picture. Nota bene.*

It tells you.

You don’t tell it.

* “Note well”

First published in the New York Times Book Review, 5 December 1976.

“Psychological death is worse than physical death.” ~ Egyptian Protestor (1/28/11)

Egyptian Protestors Praying in front of Military Vehicles in Tahrir Square, downtown Cairo, by  Scott Nelson of The New York Times

If you know anyone in Egypt, please pass this on to them. To bypass government blocking of websites, use numerical IP addresses: Twitter: “128.242.240.52,” Facebook:Fb “69.63.189.34,” Google: “172.14.204.99.” A French ISP offers free dial up internet access: +33 1 72 89 01 50 Login password: toto. Please pass this on and share.

“The uneven division of power and wealth, the wide differences of health and comfort among nations of mankind, are the sources of discord in the modern world, its major challenge and, unrelieved, its moral doom.”~ Patrick M. S. Blackett

Perspective

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” ~ Plutarch

Following is my personal state of the union post. You didn’t hear about most of these things last night because, well, that just wouldn’t play well in Peoria. Keep in mind that I’m only touching on just a few of our country’s ails tonight. I mean, very little of what I have included would be considered applause-worthy; I’ll leave that to the politicians.  Lest you think that I am berating the President (I’m not, although I’m still pretty pissed over the acquiescence over the tax-cut extension), I would prefer to think of this SoU post as more of a reality check, bearing in mind that the foundations for the current morass in which this country finds itself were laid well before Obama, three decades or so ago, to be more precise.

Instead of my usual ranting and raving, I am simply going to supply some statistics and facts regarding the brutal realities of life in this country for a large part of the citizenry. Links are provided for my sources.

According to an article in USNews.com based on a Legatum Institute “prosperity index,” the United States is fairing poorly among advanced nations in several categories. Here are just a few:

  • Poverty. The U.S. poverty rate, about 17 percent, is third worst among the advanced nations tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In that sample, only Turkey and Mexico are worse.
  • Education. American 15-year-olds score below the average for advanced nations on math and science literacy. But don’t worry, our nation’s future leaders are still ahead of their peers in Mexico, Turkey, Greece, and a few other places.
  • Competitiveness. In the latest global competitiveness report from the World Economic Forum, the United States fell from No. 1 to No. 2. Sure, let’s console ourselves that the No. 1 country, Switzerland, is a tiny outlier nation and that getting bumped from the top spot doesn’t really mean anything. Add an asterisk, and we’re still No. 1.
  • Prosperity. The most prosperous nations, according to the Legatum report, are Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. These fairly homogenous European countries are the teachers’ pets of global rankings, often appearing near the top because of right-sized economies and a relatively small underclass. For a huge economy like America’s, a No. 9 ranking is still respectable. And part of the drop from last year’s No. 4 spot is a change in methodology that puts more emphasis on the health and safety of citizens. Still, in the index’s subrankings, the United States isn’t even in the top 10 for economic fundamentals, safety and security, or governance. We should do better.
  • Health. In the Legatum study, the United States ranks 27th for the health of its citizens. Life expectancy in America is below the average for 30 advanced countries measured by the OECD, and the obesity rate in America is the worst among those 30 countries, by far. And, of course, we spend far more on healthcare per person than anybody else—but get no bang for the extra buck.

“When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money his or her boss makes in one day.” ~ Senator Jim Webb

Nationally, the unemployment rate for people ages 16 to 24 climbed to 19.1 percent in July, up from 10.8 percent in July 2007.

According to a December 2010 article in USA Today, the unemployment rate for college graduates is at its highest since 1970:

“The jobless rate for Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree rose to 5.1%, the highest since 1970 when records were first kept, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. October’s 4.7% rate was up from 4.4% in September. Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate last month rose to 9.8% from 9.6%.”

And according to an article in The New York Times, college graduates with bachelor’s degrees are still facing lower starting salaries, that’s if they can find jobs at all. Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University, used federal labor statistics to assess the job market for college grads. Sum concludes that “many college graduates are finding jobs that do not require bachelor’s degrees, like retail clerk, office assistant or barista, he said. Using federal labor statistics, he has found that only 51 percent of college graduates under age 25 were working in jobs that require college educations, down from 59 percent in 2000.”

“From a spiritual point of view, it cannot be true that the work of the CEOs of some companies is worth a thousand times that of some other of their employees, just as it cannot be true that because you can get people to work full time for minimum wage they are justly compensated.” ~ Gregory F. A. Pierce

A September 2010 article in The Huffington Post reports on a 2010 report by the Institute for Policy Studies on CEO pay, “Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession”:

“The CEOs who laid off the most employees during the recession are also the CEOs who took home the biggest pay checks . . . The study (PDF) also found that 36 of the 50 layoff leaders “announced their mass layoffs at a time of positive earnings reports,” suggesting a trend of “squeezing workers to boost profits and maintain high CEO pay.”

  • The $598 million combined compensation of the top 50 CEOs in our layoff leader survey could cover the cost of average unemployment benefits to 37,759 workers for an entire year— or provide nearly a month of insurance for each of the 531,363 workers their companies laid off.
  • Golden Parachuter: Fred Hassan of Schering-Plough, by far the highest-paid layoff leader, last year pocketed nearly $50 million. Hassan received a $33 million getaway gift when his firm merged with Merck, while 16,000 workers were receiving pink slips. Hassan’s 2009 pay could have covered the average cost of these workers’ jobless benefits for more than 10 weeks.
  • Michael Duke, CEO of Walmart ranked #7 with a total compensation of $19,234,269 in 2009 versus 13,350 layoffs from November 2008 to April 2010. 

“I think it is a national crisis to have the income disparity we have in this country. It is wider than in any other industrialized nation in the world. There must be a national policy to address the widening gap between wages of workers and the enormous incomes of the wealthy. I think the greedy corporate owners have to be confronted with the fact that they are ignoring their most powerful resource—their workers.” ~ John Sweeney

I found the following tidbit (from above-referenced study) very informative as regards what other countries are proposing for their own CEOs:

In Israel, the Labor Party’s Shelly Yachimovich and Likud’s Haim Katz have introduced legislation in the Knesset that would cap Israeli executive pay at 50 times the pay of a company’s lowest paid workers. Sharan Burrow, the new general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, the world’s most important trade union body, has proposed, as president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, a cap that would limit executive salaries to 10 times average worker pay. She also called for a special tax on any firms with executives taking home over $1 million in total compensation

“What we have here is a form of looting  . . . The rich don’t need the money and are a lot less likely to spend it—they will primarily increase their savings. Remember that wealthier families have done extremely well in the US in the past twenty years, whereas poorer ones have done quite badly. So the redistributive effects of this administration’s tax policy are going in the exactly wrong direction . . . I think this is the worst government the US has ever had.”~ George A. Akerlof, economist, on 2003 Bush Tax Cuts 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Around 27 million workers—roughly one out of every six U.S. workers—are either unemployed or underemployed.   Importantly, this is a very conservative measure of the total number of underemployed because it does not include workers who have had to take a job that is below their skill or experience level.”

Facts about Poverty in America:

  • One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program
  • Forty-five million Americans were living in poverty in 2009
  • The U.S. poverty rate is now the third worst among the developed nations tracked by the OECD
  • Nearly 10 million Americans now receive unemployment insurance, which is almost four times as many as in 2007
  • One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010 

And that, as they say, is that. For now, at least.

More later. Peace. 

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart . . .” ~ William Wordsworth

I woke up today very out of sorts, and I really don’t know why. I did have disturbing dreams again, but that doesn’t usually affect my mood for the entire day, just for the first few minutes immediately after waking. When Corey asked me what was wrong, I didn’t have an answer for him. I hate having an unspecified case of the blahs. If I am going to feel this way, I think that I should at least have a reason.

Corey had his orientation last night. Everything went fine; although, he wasn’t too impressed with the two other people in class with him. One arrived fifteen minutes late and texted during class. How rude. The company’s website purports that they only hired ex-service people; however, neither of the other two men were ex-service. One worked for the City of Virginia Beach in heavy equipment, and I don’t remember what he said the other man used to do.

I am awfully glad that Corey has a job for now, but I must admit to being a bit confused. This company supplies port security for one of the largest ports in the world. If the caliber of people they hire is less than optimum, what kind of security is being provided for our ports? Just saying.

“This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.” ~ Ursula Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

Let’s see. At this precise moment, my desk is filled to overflowing with forms—forms that have been completed and printed, waiting to be sent; forms that have yet to be completed, that require me to find information from yet another source, the location of which I may or may not know; forms that are now obsolete because too much time has passed and yet another form has been sent to replace the old form.

All of this leads me to two conclusions:

  1. I need to clean my desk . . . desperately.
  2. Too many trees are still being felled for paper, which is redundant since so much of this paperwork can now be accomplished electronically. I mean, I was astonished to learn today that one form had to be faxed but couldn’t be e-mailed. I don’t understand.

Now, having alighted upon the above, one would think that I would clean my desk by taking care of the forms; however, it is so much easier to push things to the side and just write this post, all while using my precious metal Pica ruler to scratch my back, usage for which it was surely not intended. My collection of metal Pica rulers comes from my past in the newsroom, that is how old the rulers are. They are part of my ruler collection. Of course I have a ruler collection just as I have a pen collection and paper collection.

In other people’s houses this stuff is referred to as clutter. In my little world, this stuff is known as collections. I like my terminology better.

“Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes” ~ Pablo Neruda

In other stupid news . . .

  • Reportedly, Kate Gosselin did a terrible job on DWTS (no, didn’t watch). Such a surprise. Now go home and take care of your eight children.
  • A teen pageant queen who was featured in an episode of “Wife Swap” is suing the network, claiming that scenes that showed her in a bad light were exaggerated. Hmm, the teen’s mom had previously said, “I feel the way to Alicia’s happiness is, give her everything she wants. Don’t give her any rules. Why upset her?” Is anyone surprised by the resultant actions?
  • Kim Kardashian has ended her relationship with her boyfriend, Reggie Bush. Oh. So sad. In the world of real people this rates right up there with Kate Gosselin’s failure to drive men mad with her waltz.
  • Everyone is feeling sad for Sandra Bullock because it turns out her husband Jesse James had an affair with the tattooed woman. Really? A man who prefers freakish to a seemingly down-to-earth beauty who is so non-threatening . . . Even Betty White is sad
  • And oh, by the way, President Obama signed into legislation healthcare reform that was pushed through Congress solely by the Democrats. And no, the world didn’t end. We didn’t suddenly begin to salute swastikas. No one seems to be calling for immediate reforms to an agrarian society. Damn. All of those poor repubs didn’t manage to derail the historic legislation that might actually help people. Of course, the debate rages on, with various people calling for repeal of the law, various lawsuits (including one from my forward-thinking home state), ya da ya da ya da. Sorry. I cannot hear you. I’m basking, however brief it may be.

Seriously, though, the legislation does some pretty cool things, including making it mandatory for insurance carriers to cover children until age 26 (which actually takes into consideration how many more young people are staying at home). Also big is the action that makes it illegal to drop a child for a pre-existing condition, gets rid of lifetime caps, and very big, prohibits cancellation of policies for people who get sick.

Now, with this in mind, would someone please tell me how these things are going to sent our country into a tailspin? Pleez. If you want a concise breakdown of how the legislation will affect you, take a look at this NY Times article.

More later. Peace.

Missy Higgins, “The Sound of White”

Amber Waves of Grain

After 9/11, More Justifications and Some Pre-Election Reflections

Someone Needs To Remind W. That Lame-Duck Means No More Global Pissing Contests

Why aren’t more people up in arms about Syria? Granted, I myself am late in posting anything about this latest questionable move by the Bush administration, but the Sunday incursion into sovereign territory, namely Syria, is getting hardly any media coverage. Why? Is it because it was on Bush’s watch, and no one wants to go there? The White House refuses to comment on the raid.

The few details that I can find are from the following AP report:

U.S. military helicopters attacked an area along the country’s border with Iraq, causing casualties, Syria’s state-run television and witnesses said Sunday.

The TV report quoted unnamed Syrian officials and said the area is near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal. It gave no other details on Sunday’s attack.

Local residents told The Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying U.S. soldiers raided the village of Hwijeh, 10 miles inside Syria’s border, killing seven people and wounding five.

An unnamed U.S. official claims that the target was Abu Ghadiyah, an Iraqi from Mosul, and supposedly a key figure in smuggling fighters into Iraq. Syria has protested to the UN Security Council, and Iraq has denounced the attack, saying that it does not want its land used as a launching pad for attacks on neighboring lands.

According to an article in the New York Times, the raid is in keeping with what many are calling the Bush Doctrine II, which in essence, allows for an “expansive definition of self-defense that provided a rationale for strikes on militant targets in sovereign nations without those countries’ consent.” Bush elaborated on this expansion of his doctrine during his speech to the U.N. General Assembly last month:

“As sovereign states, we have an obligation to govern responsibly, and solve problems before they spill across borders,” Mr. Bush said. “We have an obligation to prevent our territory from being used as a sanctuary for terrorism and proliferation and human trafficking and organized crime.”

As with all things George Bush, the frightening part is that a) He believes it, and b) He means it. Hence, we cross the Iraqi border with Special Forces helicopters and carry out a raid on Syria.

You know those lines on maps? Pshaw, they don’t really mean anything to us. We’re Americans. We can go where we want to. It would almost be funny if it weren’t true.

America the Beautiful

Bear with me here while I ask you to follow me on a little bit of a journey, a journey into Lola logic. I will get to my point, which is about Barack Obama’s thirty minutes of ready-for-prime-time, but I have to start with 9/11. Trust me, it will work.

In those days immediately following the collapse of the Twin Towers, when Americans were feeling the collapse of everything we took for granted—security, safety, normalcy, the sanctity of the very ground beneath our feet—many of us flocked to our places of worship in that first weekend following the destruction that unfolded in real time. Our family did; we went to our church, which was, quite literally, standing room only. This is saying a lot since our church is quite a large, old, stately church, which seats hundreds of people.

Normally, I do not do well in crowds, and I begin to fidget when I am pressed in closely next to people for more than a few minutes, but that Sunday, I really didn’t notice. Most of the hymns that day were patriotic, and one of the first was “America the Beautiful.” Now I have always loved this song, preferred it over the national anthem, not just because it is much more adaptable to any voice, but also because it is more prosaic. And on that Sunday, by the time I got to “amber waves of grain,” I had tears running down my face as did numerous people around me. I suspect it was because many of us were unsure if our America would ever again be that beautiful, unsullied land of which we were singing.

Cut to last night at 8 p.m. and the opening shot of Barack Obama’s thirty-minute, strategical media buy, and what did I see but a field of waving, golden wheat, and for just a moment, I was back in that church, surrounded by those people, singing that song, being buoyed by not just a room but a nation that was sustaining each other in a common cause, in our grief, in our fear, in our despair, but also in our resolve to hope and to be the country that we knew that we could be, no matter what fate had handed us.

All of this went through my body in just a nano second and gave me a chill, and I knew in that second—call me the hopeless romantic that I am—that Barack Obama would be elected president and that we would move out of the quagmire of the past eight years and come together as a country again and become the country that the world knows and respects as a nation. I felt down to my soul that this country can move beyond its differences, can move beyond the ugliness, can move beyond this time of feeling helpless and desperate and lost. This one man and his vision and his sincerity and his true hope for this counry is the right person to do this. And all of that was just from the opening scene.

So kudos to whoever produced that segment. Was it a good media buy? Was it worth the $5 million or so? You betcha, gee golly, bless yer little heart. Right up to and through the last 60 seconds when it cut to live in Florida, it was flawless, and you know the McCain campaign was gritting their collective teeth that they didn’t have the funds to produce their own gnarly rebuttal. Obama has elevated campaigning to a whole new level. He has raised the bar so high that everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of presidential campaign. But then again, everyone who comes after is going to be hard pressed to live up to this kind of candidate.

More later. Peace.