Let’s call the whole thing off

31 10 2010

Oh god, another election.

I can’t listen to the radio—I was glad that last week was WNYC’s fall fund drive, which meant continual (and amusing) Alec Baldwin interruptions—and skim over any and all election forecasts, punditry, analyses, and general media wankery about What This Election Means.

What This Election Means? It’s a midterm election following an historical presidential race (which itself followed a terrible two-term presidency) and occurring amidst a recession.  Marginal seats picked up two years ago get lost, and high unemployment tends to leave voters with a throw-the-bums-out sensibility.

What It Means: Duck Duck Goose.

You would prefer A Referendum on The President? Maybe. Whatever. A meaningless conjecture, insofar as Obama is not up for reelection this time around, and because the man has two years in which to spiff himself up and make himself all attractive again to voters.

I know all this; so why am I particularly down on this round of elections?

Because my side is gonna lose big? Pfft, I’m used to losing, and these Dems are not so much ‘my side’ as they are actively not-against me. That’s nice, and valuable, but with the exception of Russ Feingold, that bitter little heart I mentioned two posts ago ain’t gonna break for the loss of any of ’em.

No, I’m just old. Or I started bingeing on politics at too young an age, and now I have, finally, had enough.

I remember Reagan’s election—oh, hell, I can remember Nixon’s election in ’72, but I don’t recall having any particular thoughts about it at the time—and remember thinking Oh, This Is Very Bad.

And his second election? Not a surprise, but a blow, nonetheless. That was the first campaign I worked on, the first one which I experienced close-up: I was part of the crew which helped prep a huge Mondale/Ferraro rally on the steps of the Capitol in Madison. Every moment not in class I was at campaign headquarters, and I worked hard enough and long enough and smart enough to earn a ‘backstage’ (actually, off-limits areas of the Capitol) badge.

SmallTown hick working Big Time politics. Exhilarating.

Then, the morning after the rally, I got on a bus to take part in an anti-nuke march in Chicago. Didn’t know a soul there, so I was able to sidle up by myself to the stage and listen to Jesse Jackson and Helen Caldicott (and my memory says Petra Kelly but I think my memory is imagining things) and take in the muted misty day.

Then, the day after that, I got on a bus to Milwaukee to hear Gloria Steinem speak.

Hell of a weekend.

And probably the high point of my political involvement. I have attended other rallies (including two tits-freezing anti-war marches in Montreal in 2003) and worked on other campaigns, but I was never so involved as that semester of college.

Okay, there was the time we marched down Bascom Hill and into the Capitol to protest the state’s investment in companies that did business in South Africa and ended up occupying the rotunda for two weeks, but even then, I didn’t sleep there the entire time (marble is cold and uncomfortable).

No, I started pulling back even in college, and with the exception of two (failed) union drives in grad school, even more so in grad school. I had been aghast when an undergrad pol sci prof mentioned that most political scientists aren’t that interest in politics; now, I was beginning to understand.

I did give it one more go, tho’: In the run-up to the 2004 election I felt like I had to do something, so although I loved Montreal and had the chance to extend my post-doc, I said, No, I can’t be on the sidelines for this election: I gotta go back to the States and campaign.

Which I did. And which I hated. And which, of course, came to naught.

(I sometimes wonder if part of my disdain for Boston is a cover for my own self-contempt for making the stupid decision to leave my beautiful Montreal labyrinth for the dull and crabby snarl of The Hub. Christ.)

So now? Now I vote, because, you know, I should vote. And I pay attention because, you know, I should pay attention.

I’m in my forties and I’ve been voting and paying attention for thirty years and I’ll keep voting and paying attention for the next forty or thirty years.

It’s just that that used to excite me; now it just wears me out.

(h/t to BenjaminTheAss, who hasn’t given up.)


Am I sitting in a tin can

27 10 2010

My sister is not a crier.

Okay, yes, she has a sentimental streak and will tear up at matters involving her daughters or family generally, and she is far more expressive with her [non-angry] emotions than I ever will be. She’s normal, in other words.

But when I say she’s not a crier, I mean: she’s not someone to fall apart if things don’t go well or if there’s any sort of crisis. Instead, she switches into hyper-practical let’s-fix-this-mode, and then gets on with it.

She was crying when she called me.

V. was planning to visit me this weekend, flying in tonight and out on Monday. She’s flown before, but she hates it—really, really, really hates it as only someone who is terrified can hate a thing—so it was a big deal when she decided to fly here alone.

She might have made it, too, had it not been for the 60-80 mph windstorms which streaked across the upper midwest last night, windstorms which, not coincidentally, led to widespread flight delays across the region.

The flight tonight probably would have been delayed, too, but the weather on the ground in NYC has simply been a fizzle of gray and rain. She would have been fine.

But if you’re terrified of flying under even the best of conditions, to hear 24 hours before your flight about how awful the wind is and how much turbulence it’s kicking up, to think all day long at work about that wind and turbulence and having not only to fly into to NYC but back out, well, then, whatever equilibrium you’ve managed to convince yourself you could maintain is likely to dissolve into tears at an exit off the highway.

I’m not thrilled with flying—don’t (surprise!) like the feeling of being trapped—but it doesn’t panic me. Had it been me flying today, I’d have gotten on the plane.

But it wasn’t me, it was my steady, normal, practical, terrorized sister.

I felt so bad for her. She said it was a good thing my number was preprogrammed into her cell phone, because she was shaking so bad she probably couldn’t have dialed it. She said she felt stupid—and my sister never ever shames herself—not least because one daughter flew to Australia for a semester abroad and another to Austria for a series of musical performances, and I can’t even do a two-hour flight.

It’s okay, I told her. I’m not going anywhere, so it’s not like you missed out on your only chance to visit me in NYC. And I wouldn’t want you to spend your entire weekend worried about the flight home.

Let’s chalk it up to the weather, we agreed. Had it not been for the freak tree-bending winds, she could have done it.

So I hope my steady, practical, cheerful sister doesn’t let the anxiety which detoured her from the airport derail a nice, long weekend at home with her husband.

Go out to dinner with D., I suggested. Get the New York Strip.

She laughed. It was a good sign.

James Fallows shows you how to do this

26 10 2010

Do not piss off James Fallows: he will take off your head, split your torso, slice out your knees, and sever your Achilles heels.

In other words, the man knows how to burn.

Mr Fallows, as I hope you know, is a peripatetic journalist with a wide-ranging curiosity and a rigorous approach to public knowledge—by which I mean he expects that citizens (and more particularly, his readers) have the capacity, and therefore the responsibility, to educate themselves about the world.

Thus, woe unto you if you snipe at him with a faulty rifle.

Consider this response to readers who complained that Fallows, in pointing out that Al Gore was not a signatory of the open letter composed by Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu and signed by 14 other laureates to the Chinese government requesting the release of 2010 Nobelist Liu Xiaobo, neglected to mention the 2009 winner, Barack Obama:

When I returned to my computer just now, after an hour away for lunch, I found several screens full of incoming emails all to the same effect. Here’s a sample:

“I don’t see the name of the 2009 Nobel peace prize winner either–namely Barak Obama.”And:

“The list seems to be missing someone else who might have an influence on the Chinese government, oh heay, where is our fearless leader’s John Hancock? Was President Obama too busy playing golf to bother? Didn’t Obama win one, too?”
I am sorely tempted to use the names of some of these senders, but… Many dozens of emails total, all with this same theme — the hypocrisy of Obama in not speaking up for his fellow laureate, and the hypocrisy of me for not pointing that out. Here is what’s interesting:

– Something must have happened to get a lot of people riled up about the same topic all at the same time. Was it mentioned on Fox? Did it get onto a right-wing site? I don’t know. I just see what’s in the inbox.

– Not one of these people could apparently be bothered to check and see that, within hours of the award, Obama had in fact urged the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo. The final words of the official White House “statement by the president” were, “We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.”

He then offers a copy of the headline ‘Barack Obama tells Chinese to release Liu Xiaobo, along with a photo and sub head.

It took me approximately two seconds on Google to find numerous references to Obama’s statement. For tips on how you can do this at home, see here. I’m not blaming anyone for wondering whether Obama had in fact issued a statement. I do blame people for not bothering to find out before issuing a blast.

The combination of ignorance, lack of curiosity, and certitude is a very difficult one to offset.*
*And lest this last sentence further inflame some people, I mean it very specifically: Ignorance = lack of knowledge, in this case about what Obama had done; lack of curiosity = not spending the two seconds it would take to check; certitude = “was he too busy playing golf?”

Ignorant incurious certitude: a modern curse.

** To spell out an issue that would take more than two seconds to look up: While the original letter was an appeal to China’s President Hu Jintao, it was officially addressed to all heads of state of the G-20 countries, plus the Secretary General of the UN and a few others. So Obama was one of the people on the “To:” part of the letter. That would have made it odd for him to sign it — apart from the more basic fact that serving heads of state do not sign open letters.  The real point is: why didn’t he speak up for Liu Xiaobo’s release? He did — right away. (links included; bold added)

Evidence in the face of ignorance, delivered with heat—that’s how you do it.

Blog flog: Subway Art

23 10 2010

Thoughts, oh so many thoughts, on: kyriarchy, patriarchy, enough-with-the-neologisms-already, structures of domination, confrontation, critical analysis, dissolve into understanding, alienation. . . .

Words words words blah blah blah.

So what that I’m text-oriented; luckily, others are more visual:

‘Nuff said

This pithy shot is from Subway Art Blog, which I read about in the NYTimes City Blog and, because I got a shitty night’s sleep and am too lazy to go to the gym or do much of anything, decided to visit.

Yay, laziness!

That shot is listed under ‘Stuff that Hates on Hipsters‘, but wait! There’s more!

‘You Know You Love It!’ (Aug 17)

Yes, even I, the arch feminist sophisticate (ha!) have a 14yo boy inside of her.

For those with who appreciate weirdness, check out the feature on Olek, a mad crocheter (sp?) who collaborated with the author by appearing in and around the subway wearing a crochet body suit.

Makes my bitter little heart beat just a bit faster about this New York underground life.

‘All Tracks Lead to Brooklyn’ (June 3)

No comment

19 10 2010

On the Personhood Amendment in Colorado

BONUS stunned-beyond-words: Virginia Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, left a voicemail for Anita Hill:

Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.

h/t Salon (War Room, Broadsheet), Digby’s Hullabaloo

When all else fails. . . kitties!

18 10 2010

I got nothin’.

Yes, all kinds of opinions about politics and football and freelancing and upcoming family visits but, honestly, why put you or me through that.

So, until the mojo returns. . . kitties!

Kitty croissant, or nautilus shell---take yer pick

Here’s the kitty boy, decidedly ignoring both me and The Trickster:

Not paying atttention: la la la la la

Here he is again, driving me up a fucking wall:

Oh, is this bothering you? Really?

He’s got this thing, where he climbs on to something inconvenient and proceeds to dig away at whatever is hanging on the wall. Not the wall itself, mind you, which might be amusing. No, he has to whack away at something which could fall and break or fall and break something else and in either case generally rip up the plaster.

Or just hang around the desk while I’m trying to work, because, you know, it’s not as if there’s not an entire apartment available for their amusement:

*Sigh* Fucking Feline Union.

Meet the new boss

6 10 2010

This absurd household has expanded once again.


The Trickster Lola


She looks innocent, doesn’t she? She certainly seemed shy and mild that first day.


Backstory: I had been worried that if I got a teeny-tiny kitten that Jasper would beat the shit out of her; a slightly older kitten, I thought, might have a chance.

The Trickster Lola (Trickster, Lola, Trixie, TrixieLa—you get the point), that was the name. Now I just needed a cat to fit the moniker.


Please don't call me Trixie


I spotted her on the Animal Control website (even though I looked too soon, I knew better, but I couldn’t help it). She was 7 months old, was given up due to owner allergies, and had a bad name.

And she was gray, striped. I wanted a gray striped kitty.

She was still there when I made it out to ACC on Saturday. Although I did look at the other cats, really, I knew as soon as I saw her she was mine; on Sunday, after her spaying, she was.


I just had surgery; no kidding I'm not all hepped up.


Tricks (that seems to be her name) was pretty laid back Sunday night, and even on Monday she was fairly calm.

But oh, did she talk. Does she talk. All the time. About everything. Reminds me of Chelsea that way—a good way.

And she’s gotten her pep back.

Jasper is not amused.


Why did you do this to me?

And, of course, she totally rules Jasper. Poor guy was freaked out by her, but it’s clear that even after he gets used to her, she’ll be running the show.

Divas are like that.