Monday, August 31, 2009

Things that wig me out

sorrowHave been increasingly disturbed by the shows of violence, vitriol, and prominent armaments among conservatives lately. It reminds me of this discussion of eliminationism, also creepy with overtones of totalitarianism. (yay!) But back then it was the swagger of the empowered (how dare you question us?!), while now it is the fearful spitting of threatened animals, a sometimes more dangerous beast. Anyway, I'm not sure I have much to contribute to the discussion, but I have read and bookmarked a bunch of articles and bits related to this issue, and now present them here:
  • Troubled History -- the uncomfortable historical thread of political violence in the American right

  • The Guns of August -- an op-ed by Frank Rich on recent visibility of guns at healthcare forums and the pundits who encourage the nuts

  • In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition -- more in a similar vein by Rick Perlstein, looking at the remarkable consistency of this element across many decades

  • Out of Control -- are right-wing demagogues unleashing forces beyond their control?
Chipper, chipper stuff...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday lighter bits

  1. What your tattoo locations say about you. Snark-a-mundo.

  2. Consequences of gay marriage. Made simple for the dim-witted.

  3. Imagine if the Presidential Medals of Freedom were given to reward lifetime achievements of the highest order! That might just make one feel inspired. Crazy!

Friday healthcare links

Have been piling up a bunch of compelling stuff over the last week or two, but apparently not getting together the umph to blog it. So here is the healthcare heap:
  • An op ed by Gawande and others talks about critical steps to better healthcare, focusing on how to make the actual medical system work better (and cheaper) rather than on the insurance end. THis will surely be the next step for healthcare reform (as Masschusetts is already facing), so it's good to see the experts exploring real possibilities.

  • Might Democratic legislators have realized that there can be no true bipartisan approach to this issue? The GOP is pushing for concessions but virtually promising that it will still vote against the bill -- if so, let's get something decent on the table and do it without them!!!

  • In a similar vein, Robert Reich boggles at the seeming power of the Gang of Six to decide the fate of this effort in the Senate. Let's not leave it to them -- we all have a stake here!

  • George Lakoff bemoans the failures of the Obama publicity machine -- that is, he notes that healthcare reform really needed to be sold to the American people, using all the framing and persuasion tools at hand, rather than trusting to dry policy arguments and letting the opposition set all the terms of the media discussion. Perhaps not too late, so I hope somebody in power reads his thoughts on this!
I hope that we're going to see some serious movement on all this next week, especially from the Democrats. Maybe that recent show of progressive spine can get a little momentum going!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To Speck at 18 months

playing with plastic turtles on the Acela trainWell, this summer has been a busy one and initiated you as a Real Traveler: you went for a long weekend to Mom & Dad's college reunion (by car), to visit Grandma and Grandpa for 5 days on Cape Cod (by train), and for a week to Glasgow for an old pal's wedding (by plane) and were a trooper on all fronts. You weren't too taken with your travel bed/tent initially -- picture Mom and Dad sitting outside their hotel room listening to you scream for an hour and regretting having come out without their shoes (thus being denied the opportunity to take turns getting a beer downstairs) -- but after you had a little time to get used to it for a few naps at home, it became an old friend and a refuge in strange places. Throw in the beloved stacking buckets and a few familiar books, and you could tell we when were officially in a New Home Base and start making it your own. Our trips were, of course, studded with visits to Assorted Playgrounds and other recreations, but in return you were a good sport about spending long stretches exploring reunion tents, city squares, art fairs, and even a sizeable museum with minimal complaint, and you took the shifts of routine in pretty good stride. By the end of the longer trips, you tended to become a little clingy and wanted to keep your flock in sight at all times, but otherwise you were pretty open to novelty.

On more usual developmental fronts, you've expanded your initial steps to a confident brisk walk, with particular interest in pushing your boundaries with irregular surfaces, small curbs, and ramps and bridges of all kinds. Now we often bring you along to the playground or store on foot (although it can be nice to have a stroller available in case you wear yourself out, if for no other reason than that your parents can't always carry you all the way home without collapsing themselves). So far you're very careful to stay on the sidewalk (even when that curb looks enticing) and to offer a hand for crossing streets, so we feel ok about letting you roam with us in the city -- if you become a racer later on, that could change. You even cooperate in avoiding puddles and mud, trusting that we'll give you other opportunities (in more appropriate clothes) to do some serious puddle-stomping for the joy of it -- both our street and the zoo have great stretches for that.

big mouthYou still haven't launched your major production of speech. The old favorites Hi and Mama/Dada (often combined for dramatic effect: Ma ma ma... da DAT!) have been joined by EIEIO (closer to YiYi but clearly recognizable as a call for a round of Old MacDonald), uh-oh, a sarcastic teen-type Da-ad, and "gee!" which appears to be "seeds!" (used for a variety of Very Funny Things of the sort for which You Had To Be There). You also shake your head and nod, and use signs for finished, hot, and broken. All enough to satisfy the pediatrician; your parents fully expect that you'll wait a while yet (judging from your facility with nonverbal communication, and your relative lack of experimentation with sounds) and then probably come forth with a rush of language all at once when you decide it's time. Should be fun to watch!

Firsts in the last few months:
  • First kisses. You first kissed Golden Bear, then your parents, in Scotland, and then you got a bit more cagey about it. However, you often kiss your stuffed pals when you haven't seen them in a while, and you sometimes have your toys kiss one another. Meantime, most of us have to make do with your blowing a kiss on your way up to bed.
  • You learned to play hide-and-seek, also in Scotland, due in part to the prime geography of our rental apartment. Somehow the way that you and your dad mutually developed this game seemed to involve your just naturally picking a "home base" to which you would return while your victim hid again (and then called out repeatedly while you searched), which amazes me. It was also a big hit on Cape Cod, where your grandparents' house is largely on one floor; sadly, our own house is mostly vertical in design, which means we won't get much of this game at home.beach2 = sand and bucket
  • You visited your first beach. After some initial caution (including a long stretch of standing in one place while adapting to the strange movement of sand under one's feet), you got into the scene wholeheartedly, running back and forth between the dry sand and the waves (to coat and wash your hands) and shoveling sand back into the sea. Will have to do more of this!
  • You became a musical tyrant, not just learning to recognize your Mother Goose Rocks CD, but insisting that it be played over and over (and to the exclusion of all other music)! Amusingly, you have developed dances and games for many of the tracks, turning about for the Hokey Pokey, playing knick-knack on our shoes and door, dancing your fingers for Where Is Thumbkin, etc. This attachment also means that having the beloved CD on my computer (or a round of Old MacDonald in the car) offers a way to calm some storms in unfamiliar places, which is good. Of course, having these tunes constantly in our heads can be a pain, but I always have pesky tunes in my head, so hard to complain much.
On other fronts, lessee... you apparently grow your teeth in bunches, having waited another couple of months before launching 5-6 at once, to some distress. Beyond toyful kisses, you have a sort of empathetic response to many toys and books, from offering Golden Bear a drink to trying to comfort Curious George in a story by helping him look for a missing bunny; you've also started moving little animals around in elaborate games accompanied by narrative (if wordless) sounds. You've learned the idea of blowing -- whether to cool foods, inflate an air mattress, or produce bubbles -- but do so ineffectually, with an incredibly endearing sort of goldfish-mouth motion. You eat mostly recognizeable foods, including a bowl of cereal at breakfast (although eaten manually) and a couple of acceptable Indian dishes (briyani and korma); we have no pretenses, however, of getting our act together for dinner in time to include you, so we also stock various versions of pasta, some much-loved spinach patties, and Mom's special pumpkin muffins. You have adopted O as your pet letter, and will point it out at almost any opportunity, on signs, in books, on plates in the ground; you sometimes notice other letters, but O is your touchstone for contact with the written word. Finally, the hot weather has brought some visits to playgrounds with various kinds of water sprayers, and even though you sometimes grimace or hold your arms over your head, you have definitely decided that you love getting wet. We now have special water shoes (for sprinklers and puddle-stomping) as well as a UV-protective swimsuit, so you're pretty much ready for anything!


What none of these externalities capture is how much the last few months have made you into a more companionable presence. Not only can you tell us a bit about what you need or want ("are you hungry?"), but you create games to play with us, show enthusiasm for going places, and frequently snuggle up or give us a hug. I know that language will really propell that sensation forward, but already it feels a bit more like we have a fun little person in the household. Can't wait for the next round!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Twitter quote

GOP defends health care like it defends marriage - by making it hard to get and scaring those who already have it.
- Medley

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quote of the day

ladybug on a leaf
So strange, life is. Why people do not go around in a continual state of surprise is beyond me.
- William Maxwell
(via whiskey river)

A guy I'm really tired of Joe Lieberman. It's really going to be great to have him as part of the conversation over health reform. (On our side, yup!)

(via Talking POints Memo)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Must be the cool air

Gotta love this ad for Maine equality. Made me tear up...

(via a Medley tweet)

Friday baby pics

Really, I have such cute ones from Speck's introduction to the beach, that I'm already "over" these other shots. But those (and some videos) are still stuck inside the camera until my life ebbs a bit, so these will have to, um, tide you over....

garden girl 1 = looking through the bars, bear in hand...
Speck enjoying the view from a garden gazebo
(site of the wedding reception)

garden girl picks up gravel
The real fun of the gazebo was picking up scattered gravel and throwing it back down to the (gravel-covered) ground below. This was good for a serious stretch of entertainment!

dad_baby_garden = Dad in a kilt watching Speck in the gazebo, with river and greenery in the background
Since I promised some blokes in kilts, here's Dad watching over Speck at play, modeling the kilt that he rented for this (Glasgow) wedding. The view over his shoulder gives you a sense of the idyllic setting...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Color me unsympathetic

...when chickens come home to roost. There's no need for a grocery chain CEO to take a position on health reform, let alone one that's patently misguided and in opposition to the opinions of most of his customers. Brand loyalty is a fragile thing...

(via Atrios)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Old things made new

You'll never see the alphabet the same way after hearing Big Bird sing it all as one word. Really. And, hey! classic first-season Sesame Street revived on YouTube! Gotta love it . . .

Latest stirrings on healthcare

Was pretty bummed to come back from vacation to the pronouncement that the Obama folks might be turning their backs on the public option. (I'm still bummed, even after reading lots of tea-leaf analysis of whether it means Slight Weakening or Complete Abandonment of support.) stethoscope Am extremely heartened this morning to see a rare show of spine from House progressives on this issue. I've lost all ability to tell what's real opinion broadcasting versus kibuki for the media (i.e., was Obama spurring some legislators to show themselves, rather than leaving him as a lightning rod? or is that too Man Behind the Curtain?), but I'm happy to see that we're not leaving all the discussion to misinformed or crazy wackos on the right. ("Keep government out of my healthcare, and don't touch my Medicare!" sigh)

Via a tweet from Medley, this no-nonsense checklist of the options for healthcare reform -- not a policy pick-and-choose, but a chance for opponents to be clear about what they really do or don't want for the system. Love the status quo? If not, here's what's left...

Update: John Stewart, about Obama's inability to stay on-message: "Yes we can! unless you think maybe we shouldn't...?"

Monday, August 17, 2009


Multitasking, the game. You start with one goal/game, and then periodically another one is added. Your fun/stress ratio may vary!

(via kottke)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Four bits on healthcare

More on not taking your health insurance for granted at face value:
  • Digby takes a typically insightful look at how the insured are losing what they've got, either acutely when they get sick or gradually through dropping of coverage and upping of prices.

  • A fellow parent offers this chilling example of a couple discovering that their carefully chosen insurance has so many loopholes that they owe $20k for a perfectly normal baby delivery. We shouldn't be slaves to fine print; there should be a sane minimum for what must be covered.

  • From a different antle, this blogger compares single-payer versus socialized medicine, using Canada and Britian as examples. Illuminating and also very amusing!

  • Finally, Chris Bowers hopes that the media will get away from photos of right-wing frothers interrupting town hall meetings and back to what this debate is really about: "average Americans struggling against a powerful, for-profit health care financing industry." Wait, you want substance? and/or sympathy for the common man? crazy!
Off to visit some relatives -- have a good (long) weekend!

Quote of the day

Zen circle (enso)
It is not life and wealth and power that enslave men, but the cleaving to life and wealth and power.
(c. 563-483 BCE)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday link-dump

Man, I have a lot of interesting tabs open, and just no time, what with all the summery comings and goings and novel baby traveling. Anyway, here are a smattering from the last week or two -- maybe they'll create order all on their own! Apologies that I can't remember where I first heard of any of these...
  • Taunter unscrambles the misleading statistics given by insurers to make it seem like they don't just drop people for having the temerity to get sick. That's about exactly what they do!
    If, as I suspect, rescission is targeted toward the truly bankrupting cases – the top 1%, the folks with over $35,000 of annual claims who could never be profitable for the carrier – then the probability of having your policy torn up given a massively expensive condition is pushing 50%. One in two. You have three times better odds playing Russian Roulette.
    (emphasis in original) This might remind you of this story that I blogged a month or so ago. Touching stuff.

  • Robert Reich explains the deal with the Devil that the Obama administration has made to get the pharmaceutical companies to support his health reform agenda -- basically promising never to negotiate lower drug prices for public insurance customers. Because why should the populace benefit? Sigh.

  • What could make the average citizen more chipper about this year's bank bailout than to learn that numerous banks paid out more in bonuses than their entire net income
    Why did this happen? Because, according to Cuomo, when times were good the bankers rewarded themselves based on performance. When the economy started to sour — they decoupled the bonus structure from reality and kept rewarding themselves.
    That's right, folks! from your pocket to some failure-steeped executive! wheeee!

  • The Democratic establishment wants me to support Arlen Specter in next year's primary because he's an old warhorse and likes us now. But it's rather telling that his voting record shifted blue only when he had a threatening primary opponent. Let's just let the process play out, ok?

  • Another reminder that abduction is a distant threat for children, especially when compared with everyday car trips and other risks. Hard to remember that sometimes if you watch a lot of police procedurals...

  • Finally, to end on a bit of an up note, I offer this story of a ducked fight that saved a marriage -- really, it was a bit of a heroic effort to leave ego aside and see the bigger picture over a stretch of time, allowing the troubled party to find his way back. Still, a rare story of when determination can overcome hurt and alienation.

Tuesday baby blogging

Went on our first overseas trip with Speck about two weeks ago, and it went remarkably well. Stayed in a little apartment in the city for several days and then trekked into the sheep-studded countryside for a castle-based wedding (and old pal catch-up) extravaganza thereafter. Photos from the first half have been processed, so some shots of Speck in sunny settings for your enjoyment.

buckets4 -- a tower defying gravity
Getting settled, Speck defies gravity with stacking buckets.

couch2 -- camera play with Dad
More getting settled, the ubiquitous camera funtime.

pointing O's in a store window
A favorite outdoor pursuit: pointing out all the O's in signs.

holding hands
A first: holding hands with Dad to explore a park.

Next time: blokes in kilts!

Friday, August 07, 2009

When progress backfires

I have to say that I felt a pang of recognition in reading this observation about the lack of current action by healthcare supporters. It's bad, because this is a really important fight and our apathy is leaving the field wide open for the right-wingers, who in fact do feel panicked and in a corner. It's good to think that the Good Guys could be pricked to action if it appears that the tide is turning and healthcare reform is about to die, but the bigger danger is that either (a) public opinion will have been wrecked by the deluge of misinformation by that point, or/and that (b) the bills could be gutted of much of what's most important but not rouse us to action because "they're still such a great improvement." We need to get on our feet now, while Congress-critters are still doing their "listening" tours to figure out which way the wind is really blowing.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Twitter quote of the day

laughing smilie
He can handle Kim Jong Il, now sic 'im on the Dem Senators.
- Medley

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tuesday haiku

scent of rain —
all the ways
we failed each other
Nora Wood

sultry afternoon —
wingtip laces
work loose

Scott Mason

ants working late
in the afternoon sun . . .
a drifting contrail
Raquel D. Bailey

(from the Heron's Nest, Volume XI:2)

Monday, August 03, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends

I just love this photo of Julia Child on camera, with a hidden multitude to hand her things and who knows what else. It's good to remember that even the most impressive of experts and idols are standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, staff, families, and other invisible support networks -- who knows what magic we ourselves can create with a little such leaning!

(via a BagNewsNotes tweet)

More pink phones, more pandering!

femsignGreat cartoon on how Hollywood pitches movies for women -- that is, pathetic parodies of femininity and feminine desires, etc. About right, meh. Reminds me of how extensive "study" of women and their needs results in products exactly the same as those for men but tinted pink. Pleeez.

Sine qua non

This list of consumer protections that should be part of healthcare reform seems like a no-brainer, but given the scarcity of brains on Capitol Hill these days, that doesn't mean much. Still, sanity please!!

(via Atrios)