Geraldine Ferraro, Senator

28 03 2011

1935-2011

I was over the moon when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.

We were going to lose. I knew it, but, like every political activist facing long odds, didn’t let that knowledge get in the way of hope.

And oh, at that monstrous rally in Madison, I actually had hope.

We had been killing ourselves getting ready for the rally. I was taking a full load of classes, but at every spare moment I was up at the office near the Capitol, painting signs, calling Democrats, tacking up signs—anything the harried advance team asked of me. (In return, I got a security pass which allowed me to roam the closed-off Capitol during the rally.)

The day was gray and foggy, but instead of detracting from the scene, the mist allowed us to believe that the crowds went on forever: as far as you could see, there were people, shouting, clapping, roaring us into believing that this ticket could actually carry all of us into the White House.

Ahhh, no.

But I still remember that feeling, that exhaustion and exhilaration and certainty and passion, even if I am no longer able to muster the requisite hope; even if I can no longer muster the requisite hope, I still remember the woman who was at the center of it.

She was. . . disappointing in her commentary on Barack Obama, offering blinkered words about race that she would have pounced on had anyone directed similarly sexist comments at her, as the first woman vice-presidential candidate.

If only she could have set her sights higher, the way she once raised them for so many of us.

So even as I accept the whole of her, I remember the best of her.

Rest in peace, Senator.

photo credit: Janet Hostetter/Associated Press





That’s not my name

26 03 2011

Ima gonna start another blog. I think.

Yes, I already have two others—one for teaching and one for freelancing—but I’d like to set one up for my writing, one which is tied to my name. Although I’m still waffling on what to do with my writing, it probably wouldn’t kill me to have some kind of publicity page; print or electronic, writers gotta hustle.

I could use this blog, but I like the semi-anonymity of this joint. It’s not as if I’ve gone to great lengths to protect my identity*—I’ve eased waaaay up on that—but I don’t necessarily want this blog to be the first thing that pops up if someone runs a search on my name. I don’t think my students are all that interested in me and I doubt that any of my family members run searches on me, but I prefer the discretion afforded by pseudonymity, nonetheless.

So, the issue is: What to call the new blog? My given name is already taken, and first-initial-last-name has been reserved (I don’t think by me). I use a shortened version of my name for one of my e-mail addresses, so that’s a possibility.

Or I could go with something completely different. Oh, my name would be somewhere on the blog, but maybe I’d call it something completely different. One of my good poems is titled “Catching witches”; I considered that as a name.

I don’t know. The url can’t be too complicated, and should probably be SEO-friendly. And, what the hell, the title of the blog can be anything: I could register under shortened-version and call it something else.

Huh. I probably shouldn’t be thinking of this after 1:30 in the morning, and certainly not while I’m still hip-deep in this freelancing project. But, well, some shit’s happening with CUNY (namely, budget cuts) so I gotta get movin’ on other plans. I don’t really expect to make money slinging my own words, but, you know, if the stories are already cooked, why not serve ‘em? I write to be read, after all.

Still: it’s after 1:30 in the morning.

I welcome your suggestions, whatever the time you read this.

*And chances are I would link the two blogs. Again, just that bit of distance between me and this moniker is all I want.





Falling catching up behind

22 03 2011

I am very grateful for this freelancing project but I wish it weren’t killing me.

~~~

I don’t understand why we’re bombing Libya.

I mean, I do, but I don’t.

What comes after?

~~~

dmf has kindly linked to Fish’s latest post on the Times‘s editorial page, but I am NOT in the mood for Fish right now.

He’s a smart and provocative thinker who I take seriously, which means I end up screeching at him when he says something not-smart and provocative.

Can’t take that right now (see first item).

~~~

Haven’t decided what to do about the Times‘s paywall.

I think they have every right to try to get money from folks like me who for the past number of years have given not one jot of money to them. And I’m ambivalent enough about workarounds (it seems like a cheat) that I’m, well, ambivalent about what to do.

I’ll probably end up ponying up.

We’ll see.

~~~

Given that I can’t read Fish right now I certainly can’t talk about all of the WOMEN-HATING SEX-NEGATIVE PUNITIVE OFFENSIVE CONDESCENDING PATRIARCHAL DANGEROUS POLITICALLY EXPEDIENT COMPLETELY FUCKED-UP BULLSHIT anti-abortion bills currently being considered or laws recently passed by any number of BACKASSWARD state legislatures.

So I won’t. Check RHReality Check, instead, and Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon is relentless, as well.

~~~

My poor kitties. I’m damned near chained to my computer and they are bored bored bored because I won’t play with them.

I’ll try harder, darlin’s, I will.

~~~

Yes, this is as far as I can think after unleashing thousands of words meant for someone else.

Truly, I am a ghost.





When I grow up I want to be an old woman

19 03 2011

Allie knows me too well:

 

I’d put in things like “opening mail” and “keeping on top of coursework”, and I do manage to clean the cat box every day, but otherwise, yeah.

Wally Torta Muzik (Muzik Torta?) has the same thing going on:

My father used to ask me when I was going to grow up. Except he often used to insert “the hell” between “when” and “I”. And I would answer him “April 12, 1978.” . . .Now, suddenly, in a warp of time, space, and some a them string-theory dimensions, I find myself way way over on the other side of April 12, 1978 without having made the slightest bit of progress in my quest.

So I’m in good company, I guess, even though I can’t really draw.

Which mean I’m behind good company.

Figures.

h/t: Hyperbole and a Half and CrackskullBob





Unplugged

18 03 2011

So this is new:

It wasn’t my fault.
I didn’t choose to do it; I just walked away.
Okay, ran. I ran away.
That would be part of the drama, too, which didn’t think of at the time. Stupid. It wasn’t until Irina clued me in that I even remembered.
You gotta get it out, she said. You’ll be fucking Truman forever if it stays in.
She showed me her scar.
Did it hurt?
No shit. She pulled her shirt back down. It’s, like, a part of you. An organ. Hurt like hell.
She smiled, her thin lips bunched together like the top of a velvet drawstring bag. Totally worth it.
Will you do me?
This time she laughed. Fuck no. It’s tricky, and I don’t want to kill you, you know? Her lips bunched again, and this time her eyes louvered down into slits. Don’t want to get nicked for that.
This time I laughed.
I’ll set you up. Same chick who did me.
You’ll come with?
Pssssht.
Come on.
Okay. One condition.
Yeah?
You give it to me?
I wonder what kind of face I gave her, because she stared at me, hard, before putting her hand around my neck.
Don’t worry. Good cause.

Do you want to see my scar?

Don’t know what I’ll do with it; have to wait until the ghostiness passes.

We’ll see.





Thousands are sailing

17 03 2011

I am many things (yeah, yeah!), among them, Irish.

And German and probably Swedish and French and possibly Polish and likely a smattering of other northern and western European tribes.

Nationality wasn’t much on my radar growing up, probably because the area in which I grew up was so dominated by Germans and, to a (much) lesser extent, Irish; the one group which stood out were the Dutch, who in their enclaves were (in)famously insular. I don’t know what it was like not to be a part of the ethnic majority—although, not being Catholic, my Irish bona fides were sometimes called into question. (But my grandfather was! I’d protest. Shees.)

Anyway, St. Patrick’s day wasn’t a big deal there. Sure, we wore green and when we old enough we used the day as an excuse to down a few, but, really, any celebration was a kind of sentimental feint toward history.

I’ve since lived in three Irish-saturated cities: Montreal, Bostonish (okay, Somerville), and New York. St. Paddy’s is done up in these joints.

Since I’m rather “eh” on parades and my heavy-drinking days are well in the past, the most I may do is wear green when I teach tonight, and really, probably not even that. Some of my ancestors may have  come from Eire, but any sense of Irishness I may have is constructed, not inborn; I’m an American, full stop.

And that’s fine: One of the delights of being an American is the ability to construct and deconstruct and reconstruct identities. If I want to follow a family line back to County Cork and bring that connection to the 20th or 21st century, then let’s raise a pint and drink to the Auld Sod.

I did in fact go through an Irish-intense period some years ago, laying claim to the 19th century immigrants (Hoy and Ducey and the lot) who left before or maybe were just born before (my recollections of my mom’s genealogical research are fuzzy) before the great calamity, the Famine. And I still get sniffy about the British in Ireland and am quick to note that food was exported from Ireland while people were dying in the streets and the fields.

Still, leave it to the Pogues to strip me of the romance:

We celebrate the land that made us refugees.

I don’t know if that line is original to the Pogues or they swiped it, but it’s a right proper astringent to the mythification of Irish history—although, given the hold of myth and mist on the Irish-American imagination, probably not enough.

Not even for me: Even my heart jumps at that kick of the drums.





My brain scatters

15 03 2011

Look at this man:

T-Paw!

Do you not think: Midwestern Mitt Romney?

Same high forehead, slightly shorter hair, similarly fairly-successful governor of an M-state, same general corporate sensibility with the occasional plaid-and-guns image thrown in, more tolerant of creationism, less Mormon, also not-yet-officially-running to be the GOP nominee for president.

Oh, and similarly empty empty empty.

~~~

I have been getting a large amount of truly boring spam, almost all of which was directed to my “Music Thief” page.

“Interesting approach to this issue. I learned alot [sic]. Thank you much for this!”

For a list. Uh-huh.

Anyway, I stopped updating it awhile ago, so I had no reservations in deleting it.

Let’s see if the spamsters latch on to another page.

~~~

Why oh why do I need a prescription for levothyroxin?

I’ve been on the exact same does for 10 years, and in the years before that, the dose moved only slightly upward or downward.

Sure, yearly checks of thyroid levels makes sense, but absent any changes, why can’t I simply get this from the pharmacist?

That seems to me a decent alternative for all kinds of drugs (not least of which are many birth control pills): an initial scrip needed, and, if no problems, a conversation with a pharmacist for ongoing renewals.

Yes, there’s a background to this: I’ve been trying to get my scrip renewed but the doc hasn’t called it in the pharmacist, nor has she contacted me to let me know if there’s a problem. And I’m out of pills.

(Yes, I called before they ran out. I figured the prescription would be called in before I ran out. Silly me.)

This is more annoying than anything: I’ll hit up a local urgent care clinic if I don’t hear from someone at the clinic—generic synthroid isn’t hard to score, as it’s neither a narcotic nor does it have any street value—but I’d rather avoid the expense and time-suck.

Grrr.

~~~

I woke up wondering What was the name of that guy from Jurassic Park? And that movie with Nicole Kidman? And that weird movie I watched in French (and didn’t understand) with I think Isabel Adjani? And (brrr) Event Horizon?

Neil. Neal. Something Neil. O’Neill. Ed? Ed O’Neill? No, that’s the  Married With Family-guy. Ed Harris. No. Dammit. Maybe not Neal at all. Maybe Harry. Or George. Or Lincoln.

What the hell? Why can’t I remember?

And why am I thinking of this? He’s not all that interesting an actor; I’ve got nothing for or against him. What the hell?

Sam Neill.

Criminy. I am losing my mind.





Reason will not save us. Or maybe it will.

13 03 2011

Like wiping an eraser across the land: The New York Times allows you to see before and after satellite photos of the devastation in Japan.

Stunning.

~~~

The planet does not care about us. Nature does not care about us.

Any care in this world begins and ends with us.

~~~

Errol Morris does not understand Thomas Kuhn.

Part of this non-understanding is due to Kuhn; part of this non-understanding is due to Morris.

(I am not the only one who thinks so.)

~~~

Judith Warner confuses the consequences of inquiry with inquiry.

Michael Bérubé is not confused, but did he really not understand the implications of epistemological nihilism?

I am not a genius—repeat, I am not a genius—yet even I, as a 2nd or 3rd-year grad student was able to suss out the political dangers of such nihilism.

I wrote a paper for a course on the philosophy of knowledge in which I (budding-but-not-yet-full-epist-nihilist) noted that the slipperiness of fact was a constant problem which must constantly be confronted. That “fact” and “evidence” and “reason” could be used as weapons meant that one must be ready to contest the deployment of such weapons.

This was a problem for me, for awhile: If everything is up for grabs, how can one move?

I solved this particular problem by moving.

Yes, there’s more, much more, involved than this, but this isn’t the place for an explication of my solution. I brought this up simply to signal my recognition that, yes, this is a problem.

I’ll try to dig out the particular paper, but I believe I used an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Captain Picard is tortured by a Cardassian; his torturer, in an attempt to break him, wants him to say that there are five lights when there are only four. Upon his release, he turns to his torturer and emphasizes that there are, in fact, only four lights.

Later, however, he admits to Counselor Troi that he did see five lights.

Given that people can be coerced into not seeing what is in front of them—that truth as an intersubjective activity means that it is vulnerable to domination—means that truth is subject to political debate.

Upshot:  those of us invested in particular forms of and inquiries into truth must defend against assaults on those forms and inquiries.

I got this, as a smart-enough grad student, and I’d bet that I wasn’t the only one.

But Bérubé and Warner are shocked—shocked!—that  “it turns out that the critique of scientific “objectivity” and the insistence on the inevitable “partiality” of knowledge can serve the purposes of climate-change deniers and young-Earth creationists quite nicely.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Okay, so that wasn’t very nice. Bérubé  is a lit professor and was busy mining his own particular veins of concern; that’s one of the benefits of scholarship, after all: to forsake the surface and plunge below. Conversely, it was really not such a stretch for me, as a budding political theorist, to have recognized the political implications of anti-foundationalism.

Anyway, Bérubé is now aware that excavations below can lead to instability up top:  “[P]erhaps humanists [read: humanities professors]  are beginning to realize that there is a project even more vital than that of the relentless critique of everything existing, a project to which they can contribute as much as any scientist–the project of making the world a more humane and livable place.”

Just so.

There is more to this story, of course, not least of which is a defense of such excavations given the possibilities of instability; the short version is that the cracks were always there.

The long answer awaits.

~~~

What makes NPR liberal? What makes any media outlet liberal or conservative?

On the Media didn’t quite ask this, but in a segment with Ira Glass (who insists NPR is not liberal), they introduced the possibility that they will ask this question, as well as, perhaps, whether it matters.

Still would have liked to have heard them discuss O’Keefe’s edits of the vid.

~~~

I am old. I like to go fast.

That I put the “I am old” statement first tells you that I blame my age for my hesitations regarding speed.

Whatever.

I took my road bike out yesterday—first time in years—for a coupla’ spins around Prospect Park. Oh, every time I get on this bike I marvel at how quick it is. Unlike my road bike, this baby just sssshoooms when I crank the pedals.

That light narrow frame, those smooth skinny tires, the aerodynamism of the hunched-over posture. . . ack! That light narrow frame means it’s less stable! Those smooth skinny tires are apt to skip across the road! In my hunch I can’t see as well!

Ack!

No, I didn’t wipe out. (I will: I wipe out at least once every biking season, usually because I panic and can’t untangle my shoes from the clips fast enough. I try to have this happen away from traffic.) But the marvel at the speed competed with the concern that things are more likely to go wrong at speed.

Prudence is a fine thing, but so, too, is the exhilaration which follows recklessness.

Anyway, I’d rather not be afraid, and think that the more I ride the road bike, the less anxious I’ll be.

All the shit I have yet to learn and still, all the shit I have to re-learn.

Criminy.





Checking it twice

11 03 2011

Silly me—no, stupid me: for not considering that a James O’Keefe-sponsored NPR video just might possibly maybe could have been. . . edited.

That should have been my first response: Is this even real?

h/t to the commenters at TNC’s joint, especially &chik and his/her link to a critical look at the video at (goddess help me) Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.





Doomed: candy-assed conservatives and sniveling liberals

9 03 2011

Oh, please.

I had a nice long (eh, decently-lengthed) post about the NPR kerfuffle in mind, but the filthiness of my mood is hindering my ability to string coherent thoughts together.

So, lemme just toss a few of ‘em out there, and let them scatter as they will.

  1. NPR guy Ron Schiller was dumb. Dumb for not recognizing that the Malign Pranksters are out to get everyone they don’t like. Dumb for not taking into account that NPR/Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds are subject of debate in Congress, and thus making them a likely target for such MP activity.
  2. NPR development staff was dumb for all the reasons listed in 1, and thus for not bothering to get information on a possible donor. (And development people, doncha want as much info as you can get, regardless, if only to make your own pitch more convincing?)
  3. Karma for Juan Williams? Eh.
  4. Karma for Juan William for Vivian Schiller? Eh.
  5. Schiller’s right: NPR would be better off without (i.e., freer) without federal funding.
  6. Schiller’s wrong: It’s ridiculous that the federal government buckles at the thought of liberals working for NPR.
  7. Schiller’s wrong: It’s ridiculous that the federal government buckles at the thought of NPR.
  8. NPR caved. This guy Schiller was out already, and NPR acted like a fucking Oliver Twist orphan before the cameras.
  9. NPR should have gone on the offensive and made a passionate argument in favor not only of public radio, but of public life in general.
  10. No one sticks up for public life in general.
  11. We on the left ought to stick up for public life in general.
  12. Everyone in an open society ought to stick up for public life in general.
  13. Can people who work for public agencies not have any opinions whatsoever?
  14. Can people who work in media not have any opinions whatsoever?
  15. Can people who work anywhere not have any opinions whatsoever?
  16. What about Juan Williams, again? Should NPR have fired him for his Muslims-scare-me remarks? Eh.
  17. How far can any employer go in basing employment and promotion decisions on private expressions of opinion?
  18. Does it matter that Schiller was on the job and expressing opinions?
  19. Does it matter that the opinions Schiller expressed were unkind to TeaPers?
  20. Does it matter that Juan William was not on the NPR job but his other job and expressing opinions?
  21. Why aren’t more people upset at this whole notion that any conversation might be filmed and used against you?
  22. Why aren’t more people skeptical of the Malign Pranksters, especially given their history of distorted editing and criminal activity (as in attempt to bug the office of US Senator Mary Landrieu)?
  23. I’ve been agreeing with Jeffrey Goldberg a little bit too often for my comfort level.
  24. Is there a difference between using undercover video to attack political opponents than to reveal (as in back-in-the-day 60 Minutes) wrongdoing?
  25. Given my strong beliefs in privacy, would it be wrong for me to advocate someone camping out at O’Keefe’s home or office and constantly following and taping him and all known associates?
  26. Given both my strong beliefs in privacy and the necessity of political hardball, is “fighting fire with fire” an appropriate  response?
  27. Given  my strong belief about the necessity of political hardball, is going on the offensive regarding our apparent inability to handle the fact that adults disagree about politics an appropriate response?
  28. Why is the phrase “candy-assed” (or, in G-rated form, “crybaby”) conservative not in wider use?

And those are just the thoughts I could untangle.

Fucking American politics. I mean, really.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,266 other followers