Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Link deluge

Man, I have so many tabs open that I can barely scroll through them. Am sleeping poorly and thus have all kinds of time-management issues, so I guess my nuanced analyses and specialized posts are going to have to wait, and I'll just heap a bunch of interesting/disturbing/entertaining things here...
  • Bad News

    1. Corporate America Still Hates Moms -- penalties for actually taking the leave that you have a legal right to (and a lot of hostility around the whole topic). Not surprising to feminists, but recurrently amazing to those who think that Everything's Already Fixed.

    2. Our water and sewers systems are crumbling and in need of serious work; this could mean we have major disasters ahead, or it could be a good opportunity to use stimulus dollars to put people to work on longterm improvements for all of us.

    3. Scary thought: a Happy Meal on a shelf shows no signs of decay after a year. I think a real hamburger would reek after a week or so, judging from my accidental trashcan experiences -- are McDonald's products that full of preservatives, or just made entirely of chemicals??

    4. Airport full-body scanners: what could possibly go wrong? Typical adolescent behavior, maybe?? Rules that presume best behavior from all participants are no protections at all...

    5. Pentagon abruptly ends tuition aid for military spouses. Because times are good!! sigh.

    6. Fed continues to ignore one of its two mandates, aggressively so...
      This is an institution that has two mandates -- price stability and maximum employment -- but admitting that you care about the latter is so controversial as to be dangerous to your chances of working at the institution. It's as if firefighters, charged with both rescuing people and putting out fires, emphasized during their job interviews how committed they were to the latter goal but promised not to rescue anyone unless the conditions were superb and it wouldn't bother anyone. Weird, wild stuff.
    7. Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time. I hope that this is a trial balloon designed to accomplish some political ends (and trusting on regulatory and activist nets to catch a lot of the proposals) rather than a representation of the Administration's real views, but it's hard not to find the headline disheartening.

  • Good News

    1. Amanda at Pandagon has an interesting bit on how social technology is letting us keep in touch with people that matter to us in a way that the modern workplace has made increasingly difficult.
      A lot of attention is paid to the struggles people have with making friends in our isolating society, and I think that focus is important, but it’s also important to ask if the other part of the equation is that people aren’t keeping the relationships they do have healthy. A culture that expects people to use down time at work to update Facebook and text message their partners and friends is one where people are probably going to have that many real relationships to keep them buoyed. I’ll add that touching base with loved ones during the day can make a person feel less lonely overall; merely having someone at home isn’t enough if you feel like a lot of their life is mysterious to you.
      A nice counter to the constant narrative that we're all cut off from one another by our addictive little devices...

    2. Popular Science lists some high-tech medical innovations that may offer cures to a variety of pesky conditions, from genetic deficits to vegetative states. Amazing stuff!

    3. Too much to hope? Sounds like a few Republicans are disgusted by their failed obstructionism over healthcare and might want to be part of the legislative process again. Only time will tell!

    4. From the department of Elections Do Matter: Sen. Frankin assures justice for a rape victim being revictimized by military contractors. For the win!

  • Fun/interesting bits

    1. Jon Stewart channels/skewers Glen Beck. Truly inspired.

    2. Philadelphia shows population growth for the first time in 60 years. Not to dismiss the serious ongoing problems with poverty, inequality, and so forth, but perhaps people are starting to believe!

    3. Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy, a charity encouraging small acts of sneaky selflessness -- fun and intriguing ideas and experiences.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Strange days indeed

Apparently Rachel Maddow is the scariest thing in Masschusetts, from a conservative perspective. Meantime, the GOP wants to set Nancy Pelosi on fire. New Conservatism: all about fear and intimidation?? (I guess that if it's really about women, then that's Old Conservatism. But some things just always feel fresh!)

Quote of the day

candle in the darknessIt is a serious thing to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
- C.S. Lewis
(via whiskey river)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Things about healthcare reform

There's been so much grumpy press/discussion about these bills -- crummy provisions of the Senate bill, late starts to various benefits, etc. -- that I'd gotten rather down on them. So was glad to be reminded of all the good things that came out of this battle, including some really substantive reforms that start right away. So here are a few links from recent days:
  • A little column from Krugman notes that the anti-fear forces got a win against the propaganda of the right.
    This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America’s soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.
    (via Medley's twitter stream)

  • Ten immediate benefits of HCR. Most notable here are the end of "preexisting conditions" for children and of the vile game of recission (dropping folks who get sick). Plus some stop-gap options for other folks until better systems come into existence.

  • Ezra Klein offers Who does health-care reform help? The answer in the long run is probably a lot of us, but most obviously those with suboptimal jobs and those who've had very bad luck.
    Sickness and health might be capricious, but access to health care doesn't have to be.
  • Robert Reich: The Final Health Care Vote and What it Really Means:
    We will not return to the New Deal or the Great Society, but nor will we continue to wallow in the increasingly obsolete Reagan view that we don't need a strong and competent government. Today's vote confirms our hope that we can have both strength and competence in Washington. It is an audacious hope, but we have no choice.
    This is certainly not how the GOP thinks things will play out, but I hope he's right.

  • Want to see how these reforms will affect you specifically? Here's a text explanation and a chart, both of which break down the changes by category of individual (employed, covered, uninsured, etc.).
    (via Atrios and Medley, respectively)

  • And finally, for those always looking for a dark cloud, here's some analysis of how the Supreme Court might view this legislation, if/when cases are brought before it, given the law and given the current Justices.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

To Speck at 2 (and a bit)


Well, you're officially 2 years old. The distance you've come in the last three months is pretty well captured by the fact that you can tell people both your age and your name now (at least, the one-syllable version of the latter), things you never even showed an interest in before. You speak of yourself in the third person almost exclusively, insisting "Miss [Speck] do that right now!" or answering questions like "I wonder who might have drawn this nice picture?" with "Miss [Speck]" (in a pleased tone of voice). You can tell many of your own Epic Tales now too, such as "Dentist said Miss [Speck] brush teeth!" and "Put soccer balls on shelf to keep away [from] cats!" and you narrate your way through the day with a rushing river of words. (Needless to say, when the pediatrician wondered at your 24-month visit whether you were speaking in sentences yet, we assured her that we were well past two-word telegraphy!)

Speck fixes the neighbor's snowman, 24 monthsLanguage isn't the only thing that has continued to develop; most notable is an increase in expressions of empathy. You are quick to show sympathy for things that appear weak or broken, saying "poor Yogi" or "feel better, flowers" and worrying about our neighbor's melting snowman. For a while you were fixated on a story book about a crying tot (Little Pookie), getting teary at the beginning each time and then laughing with relief as his mother made him feel better with silly suggestions. You've also picked up the words/notions of "please" (immediately put to use as a tool for better service) and "sorry" and use them appropriately.

You've taken on a range of new skills and activities, from singing songs (I almost fell over at Starbucks one day when I realized you had just said "Oh, Suzanna, don't you cry for me"), to working jigsaw puzzles (of a range of complexities), to building Hefty Things out of some wild bristle blocks you got as a present. You can play with a dollhouse for long stretches, moving its residents and visitors from one place to another and giving them lots of naps; you can drive your parents to drink with your obsession with anything sticker-related; and you sometimes dance with abandon when the right tune comes on or signs of spring get under your skin.

Speck working some puzzles in the aquarium cafeteriaOther developments are more continuous. You're very nimble on the stairs now, although you seem to prefer going solo on hands and knees over standing up and requiring a grip. You continue to love books, including ever longer stories, and you especially like to point things out or find odd details in illustrations along the way. You like to feel like a Big Girl at a restaurant by sitting in a booster in a regular chair, rather than a highchair, and by brushing your teeth with your parents in the morning -- for that matter, a couple of growth spurts have removed some of your roundness and made you look a less like a baby and more like a lanky Little Kid (I'm sure this will become only more alarming). You seem to know the whole alphabet at this point, including most of the lowercase letters, and can be overheard singing the ABC song to yourself from time to time. You would like to be counting past 10, although the order of those numbers is a bit less clear to you (11, 12, 14, 16...), given their rarity in books and rhymes, but you have some counting/matching puzzles that draw you onward, so I suspect that it won't be long.

There are some rumblings that we may be in for another round of boundary-testing and other dramatic behaviors, but that could just be the tail end of your first real illness (caught somewhere a couple weeks after your birthday), which left you sniffly and grumpy for a week or so (and occasioned a rare afternoon lying in Mom's lap watching Sesame Street). Only time will tell. You've also thrown us a bit for a loop by completely upending your food preferences and quantities just when we thought we had a grip. But mostly you seem to be full of energy for play (although begging off of the playground!), enjoy most of what comes your way, and offer snuggles aplenty to those who love you. I think we're more than willing to take our chances with whatever comes our way next. Looking forward to year number three!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is there no shame anymore?

No, not for quite some time. Welcome back, Rip VanWinkle!

(via Eschaton)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm feeling a little less hopey about change

Given that the Obama administration is parroting Bush talking points about super-secret spy business. Our nation gets more Orwellian by the day, recalling its history less and less...

(via Medley's twitter feed)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday bengal-blogging (!)

I'll bet you thought I forgot that we had cats. But no... I compete with them for couch space every night! Yes, they're still around the house, and still snuggling...

double snuggle

Stay warm this weekend!

Handy resource

Having trouble reaching some site, and not sure whether the problem is on their end or yours? Try Down for everyone or just me? Inspired.

(via a KoL radio commenter)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'll admit I respond to genericism

...but this really is brilliantly done, from the music to the scenes to the lines you almost don't register, until you do. It's a trailer for every Oscar-winning movie ever, more or less.

Get back to work, me!

Man, this collection of offbeat maps/visualizations really made my morning. Just a lot of creativity and giggles there . . .

(via kottke)


Stupak Gets A Primary Challenge From The Left
Saltonstall told me her phone has been ringing off the hook with calls of support from inside the massive 31-county district.
You make your bed, pal.... I wish her luck, and all of us a healthcare bill soon!

Quote of the day

guy asleep on his desk"Sleep is god. Go worship."
- Jim Butcher
from dialogue in
Death Masks

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A bunch of links. Like a blog. Only more rushed.

Pretty grim

...what counts for humor/rumination among Republicans. Rush doesn't deserve to be on the air, let alone a paragon of civic values (to those twisted enough to appreciate him). Grim stuff.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What's the use of nagging?!

a bag of groceriesA great post over at Bitch, Ph.D. points out that we can't just tell poor folks to eat healthier -- without more resources (financial, geographical, and environmental), they just can't live the magical middle-class lifestyle that we're projecting as the "healthy alternative" for them. It's easy to forget about all those non-choice factors that constrain nutrional possibilities, although they were also noted here in a general health context. Systemic problems need systemic fixes...

Monday, March 08, 2010

Please let us get something done!

Like there isn't enough already up in the air about healthcare reform -- complicated intra-party dynamics, complicated procedural dances, blah blah -- now Stupak wants to get back into the spotlight? Can somebody remind him that many, many lives are on the line if we don't pass anything???

Friday, March 05, 2010

Time capsule

What were those people smoking?

IHOP ad from 1969

Inquiring minds...

Quote of the day

Our existence is finite. The self that we have created through so many years of effort and suffering will die. And sustained though we may be by the idea, the hope, the certainty that some portion of us will eternally endure, we also must acknowledge that this "I" who breathes and loves and works and knows itself will be forever and ever and ever . . . obliterated.

some dried weeks with seed-headsSo, whether or not we live with images of continuity - of immortality - we also will have to live with a sense of transience, aware that no matter how passionately we love whatever we love, we don't have the power to make either it, or us, stay.
- Judith Viorst
Necessary Losses
(via whiskey river)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Speaking of movies...

femsign...The Hathor Legacy has been having an interesting discussion about how the film industry actively keeps female characters off the screen. This starts as early as how screenwriters are trained:
According to Hollywood, if two women came on screen and started talking, the target male audience’s brain would glaze over and assume the women were talking about nail polish or shoes or something that didn't pertain to the story. Only if they heard the name of a man in the story would they tune back in. By having women talk to each other about something other than men, I was "losing the audience."
The blogger was totally frustrated by the ever-shifting excuses made, and eventually threw up her hands:
I concluded Hollywood was dominated by perpetual pre-adolescent boys making the movies they wanted to see, and using the "target audience" – a construct based on partial truths and twisted math – to perpetuate their own desires. Having never grown up, they still saw women the way Peter Pan saw Wendy: a fascinating Other to be captured, treasured and stuffed into a gilded cage.
However, she does explore a subsequent question, fascinating in an industry so driven by money: Why discriminate if it doesn’t profit? Her conclusion that it's mostly about ego and self-protection fits with stereotypes we have for film industry personalities, but that seems to indicate that things aren't going to change anytime soon... Sigh.


If only the Oscar presentations could be boiled down a little like this, it might make all the rest more tempting to tune in for...

What could possibly go wrong?

I just get the feeling that formation of quasi-governmental militias in Louisiana to deal with Scary People and Other Threats might be... not such a great idea. Shades of George Wallace, anyone? (or, you know, the Katrina bridge blockade?)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy bits

Everything about this music video made me happy -- the song, the amazing Rube Goldberg device, and the savvy that must have gone into planning and filming it. Yay for my groggy afternoon!!

Tuesday birthday blogging

Speck turned 2 recently, with a party full of grandparents and balloons (and don't forget the presents! presents now, yes?). Given that I was doing a stint of solo parenting leading up to the event, I'm more than averagely proud of pulling off decorations and a cake...

table with balloons and confetti, etc.
(conjured a little spring amid the slush and cold...)

Cookie Monster cake

Cookie Monster, as rendered in cream cheese frosting and colored sugar...

Of course, Speck didn't eat any of the cake, and she asked Mom to blow out the candle, but she did love the singing as the thing was brought in. Really, she'd been building up anticipation of a heap of presents for several days, and she couldn't hold it in long enough to be polite about the other fol-de-rol....

Anyway, somehow we've become owners of a 2-year-old. So far, it's not at all Terrible, but rather Enchanting, but we have a whole year to regret the hubris of my saying so...

Monday, March 01, 2010

What we're not allowed to know

This description of top levels of secret information really creeps me out. There's so much invisible stuff going on that it completely upends your understanding of how the world works?! eep!