Monday, November 30, 2009
I mean - Brees to Obama??? Come on, people! How unreal is that?
11 and 0.
Lemme say it one more time...
11 and 0.
Uh, Drew, you think you can pull some strings and get us some more flood protection in these parts?
We passed the time at places both swank and mundane, freaked my son out by touring a coal mine and a salt mine (too many dark places, though he did grow to like the salt mine when he found out about all the movie props stored there that are on display - and Dan and I got a kick out of hearing about the Boy Scout troops that have sleepovers in the museum part of the mine only to be awakened at midnight by the blasting that is still going on in working parts of the mine), spent the night at some hotels, one of which provided clarifying shampoo for my apparently misunderstood hair, and capped it off with a visit with my parents before driving on back home.
It was there that I took advantage of access to their cable teevee and their periodicals.
The only reality show that has any business being on TV these days? Say Yes to the Dress. Not even house flipping shows are that much fun anymore - who can sell anything in this market? People are still getting married, so check out all the blowout sales, watch for those brides trying to stuff an entire dress into their purses without paying, and take some bets on which styles the women are gonna choose - there might be apple martinis riding on your pick.
In Newsweek, a reporter who was in captivity at Tehran's infamous Evin Prison details how paranoid the Islamic Republic's clerics are. (Clay has also found evidence that Iran's Revolutionary Guard has even less regard for the rest of the world's opinion. Shirin Ebadi is one of the people working very hard to heal her country, and her country is spitting in her face again and again and again. So not good.) The latest Time magazine, however, has declared the 2000's to be "the Decade from Hell" - and guess what event is the centerpiece?
And what about the Hurricane Katrina debacle? An act of God, right? Not really. When the storm raced toward New Orleans in late August 2005, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration feared the worst. For years they had been warning the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversaw the city's 350 miles of levees, that its system was inadequate. The scientists wanted the Corps to revise the Standard Project Hurricane, a model that determines how extensive the levees should be. For instance, the Corps did not consider the tendency of soil to sink over time, and it excluded the possibility of a highly powerful storm hitting the city because that was unlikely, which violates sophisticated principles of statistics and just plain common sense. On Nov. 18, a federal judge ruled that the Corps was directly responsible for flooding in St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward. "The Corps' lassitude and failure to fulfill its duties resulted in a catastrophic loss of human life and property in unprecedented proportions," the judge said. The government is expected to appeal.
Update, 12/1: BuggyQ has more on Time's verdict on the decade over at First Draft.
Another neat thing about visiting my family is checking out all the reading material they have in the form of catalogs. Loads and loads of catalogs. The catalogs are attractive and repellent all at the same time. So much stuff, so few bucks. Capitalist fantasies dance from their stapled spines, beckoning us to dispose of any disposable income we might still possess in these trying times. One of my personal favorites is one that is held together without any staples whatsoever: Neiman Marcus' Christmas Book.
The fun this year really begins on page 48.
Cupcake-shaped cars? Kinda sick-sweet.
A chandelier made of recycled plastic bottoms of soda bottles? I could make that.
A Neiman's edition Jaguar? Feh. Bring back the mauve Neiman's Hummer.
Oooh, a modern-day Algonquin round table! Roz Chast! Anna Deavere Smith! The Ephrons, Nora and Delia! Adam Gopnik! Henry Louis Gates! George Stephanopoulos! ???? Ummm, John Lithgow? And fine print on this one? *Final guest list will include at least eight authors committed to donating their time for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, pending scheduling arrangements. Final guest list is at our discretion. Substitutions could occur if unplanned absences become necessary.
Hell, I'll just donate to First Book instead.
I mean, you ever had the chicken at the Algonquin? Dry as a biblical bone.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
And...before I forget...as a general public service to all around the holidays, settle things like one's sexual orientation with one's family members before you light the menorah.
...even if it does make for some great Hostilidays moments.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Hearing my husband tell my son,"In 1803, this was part of Louisiana!" makes me feel a bit better about traveling through the Midwest.
Note to Iowa: folks, the people in your state are so nice, one of 'em even had me - a world class cheese hater if there ever was one - trying a number of world class cheeses because I certainly wasn't gonna rain on her parade. Having said that, what is with all the correctional facilities marked on your state's official transportation map? I mean, it never occurred to me, on having passed through Des Moines, to say to my husband, "Honey, turn this thing around. We missed the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women!"
According to some graffiti on a Halls ad in the Chicago el, those ads for mentholyptus cough drops are part of the grand conspiracy to hobble our nation with some sort of capitalist flu virus. Personally, I think they're barking up the wrong tree there, as it seems my husband was sneezing the most in Kansas.
We were part of a mass exodus off the highway on the final 100-mile leg of our trip to my parents' house, when a perfect storm of two traffic accidents, construction narrowing the interstate to one lane, and pre-turkey day travelers trying to get a-going conspired to drain our cars of gasoline near exit 203. Amid the mad lines for refueling, snack-purchasing, and bathrooms, everyone chatted about the insanity on the road as we all suddenly noticed two large buttons in the ladies room that were ostensibly for maintenance issues but looked for all the world like the button. The button of which I speak was responsible for immediate shutdown of all the glass working equipment - furnaces, glory holes, annealing ovens, the works - in the largest public access glass studio on the planet, the one I had to break into on my birthday one year. It was said that the button had only ever been pressed once, in what turned out to be a totally unnecessary act, by a well-known glass artist and craft historian who still carries the embarrassment of the deed on his shoulders to this day.
Thus, I couldn't help but wonder what the buttons at that Oklahoma Conoco station could do:
- alert NORAD?
- start another accident on the interstate?
- flush all the toilets at the same time within a 100 mile radius of the bathroom?
- shut down ALL the gas pumps, making the holiday crowds positively rabid with anger?
All I know is, we got out of there with relieved bladders, a mostly full gas tank, and some snacks, and took a state highway detour all the way in to OKC, with Keller Williams' "Kidney In A Cooler" as our Oklahoma song. We didn't break down in Perry, thank God. We are here with family, doing our laundry from the road, with the button nowhere in sight.
And that's the way I like it.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Police on Wednesday arrested a woman who was praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem due to the fact that she was wrapped in a prayer shawl (tallit).The woman was visiting the site with the religious women's group "Women Of The Wall" to take part in the monthly Rosh Hodesh prayer.Police were called to the area after the group asked to read aloud from a Torah scroll.Police said they arrested the women in the wake of a High Court ruling, which states that the public visiting the Western Wall is obligated to dress in accordance with the site's dress code.
That highlighted part is the mechitzah separating the men on the left from the women on the right. The reasons for the smaller area for women are based on orthodox halachah (Jewish law) and how differently it obligates women to perform the ritual of prayer.
Tellingly, the women were busted only when they wanted to read aloud from the Torah - orthodox interpretations of halachah forbid the sound of a woman's voice being heard in a ritual setting, forget about women actually reading from the Torah. But keeping women gagged has not been advocated by the High Court, so the police had to make do with hauling one away for wearing a spiritual garment that, once again, under orthodox interpretations of halachah, is forbidden to sit around a woman's shoulders.
Yes, the Wall is a holy site for Jewish people world wide and one must be respectful of the other denominations of Jewry that worship there. But this is indicative of a serious problem that, if peace with Israel's Middle Eastern neighbors ever comes to pass, the Jewish state may well rip itself apart over.
And, if that does happen, I know who will be ready with the first excuse:
More than most other ultra-orthodox Jews, such as Agudath Israel, Neturei Karta objected to Zionist aims of founding a state before the coming of the Messiah. To bolster their opposition, they cite tractate Ketuboth, verse 111 of the Talmud, which is interpreted as forbidding strife with gentiles in order to form a Jewish state, on the grounds that the destruction of the temple is a punishment from God, which would be rescinded by God. They further rely on an apocryphal legend, according to which God, the Jewish People, and the gentile nations made a pact when the Jews were sent into exile. under the pact, the Jews would not rebel against the non-Jewish world that gave them sanctuary and Jews would not immigrate as a group to the land of Israel. in return, the gentile nations promised not to persecute the Jews too harshly. Neglecting the history of persecution of the Jews, which many say voided this pact, Neturei Karta argue that by rebelling against the pact, Jews were rebelling against God.
It's so nice to have the extremism within one's own religion and culture laid out for all to see. It lets you know where the slightly less extreme elements of it all will go to as a last resort in the face of, say, women who only want to pray at Jerusalem's present-day holiest site for Jews and who get arrested and called "stupid" by rabbis in governmental positions...and even by other women.
...beginning early in 1989, WOW was met with serious and continuous violence. Ultra-orthodox (haredi) men threw heavy metal chairs at them over the high barrier that separated men from women. One young girl was hit and had to be hospitalized. Canisters of tear gas were thrown into the womens' section.
Ultra-orthodox women, often following male orders, sometimes on their own, uttered terrible curses, and tried to silence the quietly praying women in every way possible. They shrieked, circled, raged, and made awful faces. They pushed and shoved a pregnant Bonna Haberman who was holding onto the Torah with all her might. At one point, the government of Israel actually hired women to physically remove the women-- not for disturbing the peace but for praying....
...How ironic! All over the world, including in Israel, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jewish women are rabbis and lead their congregations, both male and female, in prayer. Orthodox women in Israel, the United States, Europe, and Australia, pray together in women's prayer groups in which they chant from the Torah. More recently, orthodox women began to pray together with orthodox men in partnership minyanim (prayer quorums). This has included both women and men chanting from the Torah and receiving previously male-only honors.
Only in Israel, and at the site most holy to Jews, at a site where soldiers are sworn in, and national celebrations are held--at that place, Jewish women were, (and still are), prohibited from praying aloud in a group with a Torah.
Although I care deeply about Jewish womens' religious rights in Israel and of course, about all womens' right to both practice their religion--and to not be coerced into doing so--the struggle in Jerusalem is an intra-tribal matter and important in its own right.
However, as the Intifada of 2000 continued to rage against Israel, as did the United Nations, Muslim terrorists, and Western academics everywhere, I did not have the heart to join the jackal chorus against the Jewish state. Rivka and I decided to dedicate our book to the state of Israel and to refrain from writing articles or giving interviews to the non-Jewish media on this subject.
But such silence is not possible forever. Is Israel head and shoulders above Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia in terms of womens' rights? Absolutely. But our struggle also proves that justice for Jewish women is quite imperfect in the only Western-style democracy in the Middle East.
Women have not forgotten thee, O Jerusalem, but a decades-long tribal and denominational conflict will threaten them and, in the process, threaten world Jewry. These problems must be addressed. It is the reason why I still have this link on my blogroll, as this sort of discrimination extends beyond prayer and into the fabric of every woman's life in Israel, no matter what denomination she is. It is the "problem that has no name" that Judaism in general has never handled well, because the orthodox interpretations of halachah are still seen as the standard for observance, even by secular Jews.
Orthodox interpretations, however, are interpretations that are not done in a vacuum - those Talmudic tracts show evidence over and over again of the ways in which rabbis have been influenced by the customs of the rest of the world. Now that many of them are in Israel, they want to behave as though they are in a vacuum, but there really isn't a leg for them to stand on. The day will come when they will be taken to task, and all that will be left is for them to wail that the Messiah didn't start the current state of Israel, so all of you are just stupid stupid stupid!
There's some Talmudic logic for you right there.
Sadly, this state of affairs has never been surprising to me, not since I was in grade school. The house of Israel is a case study in warfare from outside forces staving off an inevitable clash in a house that has been divided for centuries - heck, from Biblical times, even. These recent arrests at the Wall are one of many ways in which the cracks are showing.
Just something to think about.
Happy turkey, all...and don't rearrange things too much in New Orleans while I'm gone. 'Til then, wrap your heads around G-Bitch's posts on school choice in light of the recent series by Sarah Carr in the T-P on parents trying to negotiate the charter system.:
I’m not seeing a great deal of difference or more-than-superficial change yet.
Part of why not is that, as Henry Levin, director of the National Center for
the Study of Privatization in Education said,
“…(Choice) doesn’t solve the problem of families who are just behind the eight ball.
“You are dealing with people who are worried about putting food on the table and whether they are going to have to move in the middle of the night. … They are not sitting down at the breakfast table every morning and saying, ‘Oh, let me read through the parent handbook and figure out where to send my child to school.’ “
Which brings us back to the sad formula, and not new, that if
your parents aren’t up to a particular standard, you are screwed. And that’s
antithetical to the idea of public education.
More on this from a mom in a major city:
Update, 12-7-09: Check this out:
When I learned that some public buses in Jerusalem force women to enter through the back door, sit in the back, and "dress modestly" in order to board I immediately wanted to go there, get on a bus in my sluttiest outfit (which is actually pretty modest to everyone but religious fanatics), and protest. Of course, I'd then be subjected to verbal and physical abuse by evil men who like to think that they are God, when really they are just oppressors who misinterpret their religious texts to benefit themselves.Egged buses are the targets of many a suicide bomber in Israel. Wonder what the safety issues are like if one is at the back of the bus versus the front if explosives are detonated? It may not make a difference - someone with bombs strapped to their body can sit anyplace or even stand near a bus and set themselves off - but things have become so bad with regards to how much people are catering to the extreme right in Israel, this may be one of the only ways left to appeal to any sense of decency left in those who would have women in the back of the bus. Sad. Very sad.
...Sarah Berger at In the Moment reports the court system ruled that segregated buses could be OK if "voluntary," but that the men who punch, kick, slap, and verbally harass women who don't voluntary disappear essentially make this a moot point. As Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz debates whether or not to uphold his own commission's recommendation to ban the buses, Berger says that women’s and human rights groups worry that he will bend to the religious parties who make up the current government coalition. She concludes, "it is unfortunate that women will once again become victims of a religious and political power play."
Oh, isn't that the case everywhere, though? (See "Stupak is as Stupak Does" for one timely American example....) Still, anyone as infuriated as I am can do something more useful than flying to Israel and risking her safety to protest this outrage. Katz will render his decision by Dec. 27 (my birthday!). Help me have a good birthday by telling Katz that public buses serve the entire public, which includes women.
We will not be forced to the back of the bus by a misguided segment of zealots. I can only shudder with horror to think of how much we let Claudette Colvin (a teenager who was arrested nine months before Rosa Parks was for refusing to move to the back of the bus) down (again) by not speaking up for basic human rights.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
What thankfully did not go completely under the wire as far as the blogpocheh are concerned is a landmark court decision that places the blame on the Army Corps of Engineers for neglecting the upkeep and proper engineering of the levees, actions that led to the catastrophic flooding of Chalmette and the Lower Ninth Ward over four years ago.
Yes, it's damn nice to be vindicated - not just for all of us here and for the New Orleans and Plaquemines Parish diaspora, but for the many other places all over this country that are threatened due to the same sort of neglect the Corps is still exhibiting all over this country (in cities such as Sacramento, for instance, as if California didn't have enough problems already) with regards to flood protection.
But what can really be done from here?
Money is tight all over. The MR-GO has been closed, sure, but our wetlands are still eroding like nobody's business. I'm certain the recommendations from the federal agency's lawyers will be to settle with those whose property was washed away and make all of this go away as quickly and as quietly as possible. Relocate people if they have to. Just make that money walk and talk. And I wouldn't blame the folks who took those funds at all. The decision is in their favor, and that is worth a lot. They've already been fighting for over four long, hard years. Don't screw around with them any longer.
But for those of us who are still here and have pieced things back together physically if not mentally, those of us who weren't covered by this court decision but are hurting anyhow, those of us who want a future for this country that includes New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, those of us who still run into people who think the city is still under water (among many, many other ignorant and asinine assumptions) - this battle has been won, but the war is still in progress.
We've got a long ways to go, people. We must keep on keepin' on, living like we do, spreading this news and putting all our weight behind it like I know we in this city love to do when we wanna.
And hey, it's also heartening to see warriors who have set their swords down for a time take 'em up again in recent days. Check Matt McBride's latest at Fix The Pumps (thanks to Karen at the new, quite spiffy investigative website known as The Lens) and get yet another reason why we have to keep revealing the truths of the A. C. o' E.'s deeds and decisions.
Update, 11:08 PM: Clay has more, as I thought he would.
I still think this ruling will be overturned on "sovereignty immunity" grounds, but it's always nice to reinforce to the rest of the country that had the Corps simply designed and built the levees to spec, most of New Orleans' flooding would never have happened and we'd all be talking about how New Orleans 'dodged a bullet.' If you want to see a natural disaster, go to Buras, LA or Waveland, MS.
Anudder Update, 11/20: Forgot Harry Shearer's take on it, too. Bad blogger, baaaad blogger...
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
It's not an inappropriate way to look at the mayor's race, really...
...just...don't drag the yaller blogger into this. Things are insane enough already.
Go help save the Hippo if you can. And no, it doesn't involve putting the big goof's tongue back in his mouth. Even if you can't contribute monetarily, see what kind of strings could be pulled to ease his doggie pains.
Also, if you are in a masters program here in New Orleans and your degree studies have anything to do with public health or the public well-being, this might be for you:
In the spring of 2010, approximately 15 New Orleans Schweitzer Fellows will be selected from applications submitted by students in a diversity of fields, including but not limited to medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, social work, psychology, pharmacy, education, physical therapy, law, nutrition, art therapy, dance/movement therapy, music, and acupuncture. We seek Fellows from an array of disciplines to contribute to the health of our communities.It certainly might help us get our health care situation in this town above and beyond health clinics at the local convention center - which, don't get me wrong, are nifty for those who can't afford to even go to a doctor, but most of the people here need much more than just one visit to maintain their health.
Fellowship projects include the following:
- a minimum of 200 hours of direct service through an existing community based organization in the New Orleans area;
- a supervisor, or Site Mentor, at the host organization and a Faculty Mentor at the student’s school;
- monthly progress reports on the Fellow’s project;
- a written report at the conclusion of the project, including recommendations for ways in which the most valuable aspects of the Fellow’s project and experiences can be replicated or sustained;
- professional development in skills related to working with underserved communities;
- an opportunity to be part of an interdisciplinary group of students committed to working in underserved communities.
In addition to the service project, Fellows work in groups to organize public symposia on pertinent public health topics or community service outreach activities. Fellows are required to attend monthly meetings, all symposia and service days, an introductory meeting on April 16th, 2010, a weekend orientation May 22-23rd, 2010, a mid-year retreat, and the annual Schweitzer Fellows Celebration Event in May 2011.
Students are welcome to submit proposals for an original project that reflects Dr. Schweitzer’s ethic of Reverence for Life or for the continuation of a project initiated by a previous Schweitzer Fellow.
Fellows receive a stipend of $2,500 (paid in three installments) both to underscore the seriousness of their work and to ensure that students who are already struggling financially are not discouraged from participating. Any student enrolled at least part-time for the 2010-2011 academic year in a graduate-level-degree-granting program in the New Orleans area is welcome to apply. Applications are due via online submission by 5pm February 5th, 2010.
And, this morning, I am greeted by this plea for all fans attending Saints games to purchase a certain scarf and wave it 'round whenever the home team scores 'cause it'll be really cool. It leads me to my own personal hue and cry regarding a certain piece of Saints merchandise that is sorely underrepresented in local stores. There are LOADS of LSU ones that are ugly as sin, but I have not seen this snazzy li'l number at Walgreens yet:
I mean, our electric bills are four times what they were when we first moved into our place approximately nine years ago. My son hogs all the blankets in the house when my husband isn't doing it. I've been looking for the perfect thing to commemorate this season that could be the biggest home team accomplishment ever or the biggest trainwreck ever, but I don't have enough moolah to get a stylin' jersey.
Plus, black is slimming, my husband's a Niners fan, so I KNOW he wouldn't be caught dead wearing the thing, and I could lounge all I want whilst looking up the details of the '72 Dolphins season for comparison's sake if the luck o' the Saints holds. Yes, I am that far gone. Was that even in question?
So just chalk it up on my Chanukah wish list. That and a new dishwasher....which can be black and gold, too. I don't care, so long as it works.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
- Stop asking the mayoral candidates what they will do about education in this town, unless it relates to their past experiences (like, say, those of soon-to-declare-her-candidacy Leslie Jacobs). The state runs most of the schools, the mostly-neutered OPSB runs a small fraction of the rest, and neither one is under the purview of the mayor's office.
- Having said that, I must also say that the illogic of politics in general - and local politics in particular - is going to ensure that, in the case of Jacobs, stuff like this will probably be scrutinized and somehow used to the candidate's detriment. Just the realities of running for office these days, all. This is what dedicated, smart, savvy campaign managers-cum-spin doctors are for - in concert with politically astute candidates, of course.
BUT we are in New Orleans.
40% is wildly optimistic in this four-years-on-after-8/29/05, still shell-shocked, already depressed before the national recession even came, crime-ridden, killer potholed, Walking-Id-on-his-mayoral-way-to-possible-indictment-led crazy town. Just being a competent candidate who is fully cognizant of the issues and the Sisyphean tasks ahead in the next four years probably won't even get a hopeful a snowball's chance in City Hall without air conditioning during a south Louisiana August. Outreach to neighborhood organizations and smaller communities within this city is a great start - after all, they are largely the reason why there is still a New Orleans.
But, to varying degrees, most of us are weary, disheartened, trying to keep our heads above varying degrees of debt, and short on hope. Ideally, much will have to be promised and then done by a candidate who captures our imaginations as well as our need for basic city services and a government that actually works...and what we will most likely settle for is someone who is only slightly less corrupt and slightly more competent than C. Ray Nagin has proven to be. The home-insulation fiberglas to the Walking Id's Tyvek, if you will.
Full disclosure: Reason why I bring up Leslie Jacobs is due to my attendance at a meeting of blogging folk with the soon-to-be candidate last night. Since we are not a bunch of shy violets, a good many questions were asked of Jacobs and many suggestions on what she should do during her campaign (and if she actually gets voted into office) were kicked back to her, tips that she dutifully took down in a blank book.
Has she got that mayoral melamine thing going on?
Just...think "presidential timber" and put it in the parlance of rebuilding New Orleans...
you lost me
She wants to change the budget process, feels we need more of a strategic plan to deal with blight and a better way to handle the contracting process in City Hall. She wants to get tough on crime and is very interested in learning more about Brian Denzer's NolaStat and how it could work for New Orleans. Implementing transparency and accountability in City Hall and the mayor's office is also of great importance to her...
...but elections are not won solely on these stances. It's too early to tell if Jacobs will loosen up a little, start working hard to reach out and make connections with all segments of the city, no matter what their races, creeds, religions, or sexual orientations are, and if she will be able to play the political hopscotch that many times involves keeping friends close and enemies closer...and we haven't even gotten to how she will come across in the T-P and on local teevee news & debates.
One thing is for certain: she expressed having "a new level of understanding and fear" accompanied by 3 AM awakenings on a regular basis when thinking of how hard the mayor's job will be after the 2010 election.
The candidate is afraid. She is very afraid.
Time will tell as to whether or not those fears will be constructive or paralyzing.
Update, 11/18: BSJD has some legitimate beefs in the comment to this post:
I'm getting worried, bloggers are paying attention to pointless or stupid questions (demanding a yes or no answer to a question about a complicated issues strikes me as incredibly stupid -- question was by a reporter, discussion in the comments), when how Nagin is viewed could determine the next election. If he's seen as having been an unsophisticated novice who was overwhelmed and then possibly corrupted, certain candidates (Murray, Landrieu if he gets in) benefit immensely. James Perry's chances go from slim to nonexistent if it's not established that Nagin was a politically-connected insider before he ran for office.Hell, we should all be very afraid at this point, but we can't let it overwhelm us either.
Anudder update, 11/19: Well, we got some clue as to what's going on with the candidates yesterday....and it looks like, in a simple Q&A format, most of it ain't too good unless you're James Perry. Get a f%$!ing clue on what's going on here before you run for mayor, people. Really.
Monday, November 16, 2009
...but I thought of this and decided to take a chance.
My hunch proved correct.
The pollster asked me about the 2010 mayor's race. I was asked first about a bunch of well-known Louisiana pols and how I rated each one. Yep, the usual suspects ran by me: Jindal, the Walking Id, Mary Contrary Landrieu, John Georges, Eddie Sapir...uh, wait, time warp...oh, and we're back!
My opinion of, if the mayor's race were held today, who would it be for me?
My opinion of whether or not I'd heard of the current mayoral candidates. There was only one I hadn't heard of, a Nadine Somebody (Update, 11/17: Seems Nadine "Somebody" Ramsey has had to return some campaign funds, as there shouldn't be a felon funding one's campaign...there go da judge, there go da judge). I think.
Who would my first and second choices be in the mayoral race if Mitch were in it?
Are the problems in City Hall due to the African-American community having too much influence on things or the Caucasian community having too much influence on things?
What would I consider more important: developing things on the business end out of the mayor's office or working on lowering crime rates, improving education, and creating jobs out of the mayor's office?
Three bits of good news and three bits of bad news concerning Mitch and his good and not-so-good works: had I heard that he'd brought loads of new jobs, especially in entertainment, to New Orleans? Had I heard that he'd just spent thousands of $$$ redoing the Lieutenant Governor's office in Red Stick? I'd heard something about the former, not so much about the latter. I chatted with the pollster about how the lack of information and the dearth of any kind of stance and vision for New Orleans coming out of the current candidates was sorely lacking, and it was also lacking from Mitch in the '06 election.
They wanted my vitals just to confirm how old I was, where I lived, etc. etc.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
They are headed into Alabama and Georgia to visit many places where the battles of civil rights were fought, where blood was shed over something that should have been an inalienable right from the beginnings of our country's birth, but was only legislated into existence forty-five years ago...and, even then, the concept is still slow to catch on in the minds of many - too many.
Before this year, past confirmation groups had trekked to Washington D.C. and paid visits to our representatives and senators in Congress - where they found that both senators Landrieu and Vitter sported glazed looks on their faces when social justice issues were raised by the students. It was disheartening to the leaders of the confirmation trip to see our elected officials, supposed representatives of the people in their state, treat these issues as nuisances, as pests that will disappear if they raise their hands over their eyes and keep them there long enough. Great examples for the teenagers. Truly inspiring.
Instead, the students will be going to Selma, Alabama; to Birmingham; to the King Center in Atlanta...and to a few other places along the way that show that the fight for equality among the races was not so long ago. And that it isn't over by a long shot.
The one thing I hope the kids take away from this trip?
Our politicians seem to be devoid of the need to take advantage of opportunities to act in ways that favor the greater good over the relatively few who have the most influence and/or money...
...but that doesn't always have to be the way.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
...on a regional level, concerning the world outside the home...
And then Jonathan asked us if we had started thinking about schools....aaaand on a local level, concerning the world within:
I had not as...School is Mike's department. Another linchpin of our Marital New Deal, aside from trying to use the night for actually sleeping, is that of improved...Delegation. Delegation...and Trust.
As we discovered in therapy, during that first parental Year of Hell...My notes indicate that Sandra often does not Trust Mike, as a Co-Parent, to Successfully Complete Certain Parental Tasks. Whereas in fact, as Mike and his (mysteriously sympathetic/consistently partisan!) witnesses Ruth and Kaitlin would point out, the problem is not that Mike Is Not Completing His Half of the Parenting but that he is Not Doing So in the Exact Same Way That Sandra Herself Would Do It. Okay! While seeing it there on the page, I admit it doesn't ring a bell for me, but that's what my notes say.
So far in our great parenting Voyage in Los Angeles, I have located the pediatrician, the day care, and the preschool. Kindergarten, we agreed, would fall to Mike. A project he reports he has been making great strides on. I'm vaguely aware that Mike has a manika folder titled "SCHOOL" on his volcanic computer pile. A folder which, by the terms of our agreement, I would never look into. Because of the Delegation...and the Trust.....
...And, while dazed in this reverie, I hear Mike say, "Oh, yeah. No worries."
Aimee puts down her BlackBerry.
"What's your school district?" she asks, in a weirdly light, unconcerned voice.
And Mike replies, "Well, I don't know. City of Los Angeles? I guess, what, that makes us L.A. Unified?"
And now here is what happens.
Both Jonathan and Aimee imperceptibly freeze.*
Mister, you’re not supposed to be household help/staff. I do not expect you to clean like a maid, iron like a laundress, cook like a chef, etc. and you do not expect the same of me. Doesn’t mean shit doesn’t need to get done. A household is a job in itself. There’s always more to do than is possible if you do anything else. Women have generally made this work invisible. And covered it in cream cheese frosting and multicolored candy sprinkles. When the work becomes visible, it becomes grating to all involved. It’s the nature of the beast. Housework is like Palestinian-Israeli relations or the pro-life/pro-choice wars or racism, this huge HOT ISSUE—each side wants credit for what it has, and sometimes hasn’t, done and the push and pull starts and ends there, starts with faces pinched and arms tightly folded because somebody might say Boo instead of doing, not doing, talking, or not talking. Nagging should have no place in any of it. Creating a list for someone to uphold your standardsIt all reminds me....the kiddo got stung by a green caterpillar playing hide-and-seek in the synagogue garden last night. Who does the kid ask for when he gets home, after I've soothed his hurts (with the assistance of an entire congregation and the on-duty police officers guarding the shul), put antibiotic ointment on the welt on his leg and a large Band-Aid covering it, and taken him home and read to him?
seems likeis a nonstarter to me. Win the skirmish for what? War is about making winners and losers, not resolution, action, change, or decision-making. War doesn’t change hearts or minds, not in a positive way anyway. “War,” “conflict”—too much heat for this discussion because there is no fight here. That said, I don’t think your involvement in household maintenance has always been as high as now/recent history. Does that make you an asshole? Only if you call yourself one because I never did. And still am not. You are not Mister My Maid or expected to be. I’ll take down the post if you want but in exchange I want my tongue-in-cheek language back.
Well, let's just say that it did give me a smidgen of satisfaction to see Dan's discomfort this morning when I told him the little guy asked for him last night. I'm human. I'm not a saint. I've been mostly alone in my miserable sufferings from a cold this past week. We all snap sometime in the smallest of ways.
And yeah, I could pull a Faulkner Fox and start compiling lists of Frequent Parenting Miles, but I'm just too damn lazy, tired, and, this particular week, sick to give myself even more work like that. Always have been, really...and, having grown up in a household where screaming, yelling arguments were the norm (an experience that also had me boycotting cursing for most of my childhood and adolescent days), I hate escalating things to that kind of conflict, because I also know I will end up being the irrational, crazy one in the mix who has no logic supporting her end of the conflict and thus does not count.
But the world of the home and the world of parenting are irrational spheres, for God's sake. The processes of applying the logic of my husband's greater income, his longer hours at work and traveling to and from work, and his stresses from the adult world on this house and this child ought to be studied as scientific phenomena in themselves.... phenomena, that, by all rights, ought to fall into a black hole just outside our front steps and outside the grounds of our son's charter school and religious school....but his attempt to apply his logic to all of this is illogical in itself. Like his stated belief that the streetcar operates on a schedule.
So all I'm left with is appreciating the intricacies of the mess we're in as marrieds with child...and still, even while being the slacker mom that I am, having to do more with the little guy, his school, and the home than my husband does.
I'd say we're turning back the clock if it weren't for the fact that I think we already live in parallel universes.
*And yes, I know Sandra Tsing Loh has proclaimed her affair, divorce, and subsequent dissatisfaction with the institution of marriage in the past year. I know also that her criticisms and those of her friends in the Atlantic article about marriage aren't universally lauded. But this stuff keeps on coming out for many, many reasons, and they're not just personal and one-on-one dynamically based - they are symptomatic of how we are most emphatically not changing for the better, but, if we are changing, it is after having run out of excuses and having been dragged, kicking and screaming, against our wills into it. Now how logical is that?
Update, 5:38 PM: Perhaps if we all started out with this cake on the wedding day, we'd all be a little happier.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
But hey, sickness knows no stop when it comes to blogging, as you can see. And the FREE Blogging 101 course at the Bridge Lounge is also not dependent upon my sniffles and coughs to get going in full swing. So head on over there come 6:30 PM with laptop in tow (doesn't matter if it's yours or not). You'll be glad you did.
And, in honor of the title of my post at the Rising Tide blog, I give you this earworm. Enjoy!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have to wonder if the rappers who sampled the Miami Boys Choir have any understanding of the particular music they're rhyming over...
Eshet Chayil - A Woman of Valor
An accomplished woman, who can find? Her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband's heart relies on her and he shall lack no fortune.
She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and works with her hands willingly.
She is like the merchant ships, she brings her bread from afar.
She arises while it is still night, and gives food to her household and a portion to her maidservants.
She plans for a field, and buys it. With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She girds her loins in strength, and makes her arms strong.
She knows that her merchandise is good. Her candle does not go out at night.
She sets her hands to the distaff, and holds the spindle in her hands.
She extends her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hand to the needy.
She fears not for her household because of snow, because her whole household is warmly dressed.
She makes covers for herself, her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known at the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes a cloak and sells it, and she delivers aprons to the merchant.
Strength and honor are her clothing, she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the lesson of kindness is on her tongue.
She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise and praise her, her husband lauds her.
Many women have done worthily, but you surpass them all.
Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
I kinda doubt they know, but it's still nice to have stumbled across this.
Update, 3:53 PM: According to a commenter here, the sample is actually from this album. Ah, 1976 - old school Jewish kiddie soul.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Even more lovely is the list of 65 Democrats who decided to add the amendment Cao supported with that yea vote...and they have all redrawn the lines of health care reform over women's reproductive rights:
Let's hear it for - after all these years and bogus "year of the Woman" declarations - a still male-dominated Congress willing to kick potentially over half the national population to the curb. Cao doesn't deserve to be flamed by members of his own party like he has been for not toeing the GOP line, but he and the Democrats who voted for "life" - like Louisiana's own Charlie Melancon, who, after voting yea on Stupak, voted nay on HCR altogether - are symptomatic of a couple of things: women still have to carefully watch the decisions that are being made inside the Beltway, and party designations don't necessarily mean what they used to mean anymore...so keep following the money. Insurance companies and the right-wing are still behind the wheel on all of this.
The Stupak Amendment goes far beyond the abusive Hyde Amendment, which has denied federal funding of abortion since 1976. The Stupak Amendment, if incorporated into the final version of health insurance reform legislation, will:
- Prevent women receiving tax subsidies from using their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
- Prevent women participating in the public health insurance exchange, administered by private insurance companies, from using 100 percent of their own money to purchase private insurance that covers abortion;
- Prevent low-income women from accessing abortion entirely, in many cases.
Yes, reform needed to happen, and it isn't perfect, but damn.
Update, 12:43 PM: Coozan Pat asks in the comments:
Am I missing something on the Stupak amendment? Is there a whole lot of Federal medical subsidy money currently available to women of any socio-economic bracket to use in cases of elective pregnancy termination?To clarify, from me:
Because if there is, and the Stupak amendment represents any type of change from the current status quo, that would be news to me.
Yeah, you're right. Traditionally, it HAS been a case of "Oh, you have the RIGHT to an abortion, but only if YOU are the one paying for it."Anudder update, 6:33 PM: Dangerblond says: Patrick, read this....and you should, too.
(note: according to this link, "Private insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from plans that have it (which is most of them) in order to participate in the exchanges. The Public Option will not provide abortion coverage. People will get access to affordable health care, but they'll have to pay out of pocket for an abortion. If people want to move to a plan on the exchange, they'll lose the coverage that they currently have.")
I just get miffed at this kind of thing happening over and over again just to get Congressional reps and senators off the fences on these issues: the stimulus package's scales were tipped to get more liberals voting for it when mental health parity was added, and now these further limits on abortion funding are added to get folks of a conservative bent to help kick HCR into gear.
And, historically speaking, the response of the women's organizations to Roe vs Wade is looking more like a resting on one little scrap of lucid judgment concerning women's rights rather than taking advantage of a spark for real change and running with it. We're going on near 40 years of this crap and I'm getting tired of it, is all.
1. It effectively bans coverage for most abortions from all public and private health plans in the Exchange: In addition to prohibiting direct government funding for abortion, it also prohibits public money from being spent on any plan that covers abortion even if paid for entirely with private premiums. Therefore, no plan that covers abortion services can operate in the Exchange unless its subscribers can afford to pay 100% of their premiums with no assistance from government "affordability credits." As the vast majority of Americans in the Exchange will need to use some of these credits, it is highly unlikely any plan will want to offer abortion coverage (unless they decide to use it as a convenient proxy to discriminate against low- and moderate-income Americans who tend to have more health care needs and incur higher costs).
Women are simply vessels for babies when it comes to their health care is all this amounts to.
2. It includes only extremely narrow exceptions: Plans in the Exchange can only cover abortions in the case of rape or incest or "where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death." Given insurance companies’ dexterity in denying claims, we can predict what they’ll do with that language. Cases that are excluded: where the health but not the life of the woman is threatened by the pregnancy, severe fetal abnormalities, mental illness or anguish that will lead to suicide or self-harm, and the numerous other reasons women need to have an abortion.
3. It allows for a useless abortion "rider": Stupak and his allies claim his Amendment doesn’t ban abortion from the Exchange because it allows plans to offer and women to purchase extra, stand-alone insurance known as a rider to cover abortion services. Hopefully the irony of this is immediately apparent: Stupak wants women to plan for a completely unexpected event.
4. It allows for discrimination against abortion providers: Previously, the health care bill included an evenhanded provision that prohibited discrimination against any health care provider or facility "because of its willingness or unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions." Now, it only protects those who are unwilling to provide such services.
I wouldn't be surprised at this point if the reintroduction of mandatory drafting into the armed forces came up as bills in Congress. Take our children, while you're at it, representatives and senators. You might as well.
One mo' time, 11-10: Coozan has more. And, once again, he is right.
Oh, somebody STOP me, 11-12: Found through the Tweeter Tube, Digby's response to Stupak:
I have a moral objection to paying for any kind of erectile dysfunction medicine in the new health reform bill and I think men who want to use it should just pay for it out of pocket. After all, I won't ever need such a pill. And anyway, it's no biggie. Just because most of them can get it under their insurance today doesn't mean they shouldn't have it stripped from their coverage in the future because of my moral objections. (I don't think there's even been a Supreme Court ruling making wood a constitutional right. I might be wrong about that.)Incidentally, one of my favorite prescription conflicts ever was one described to me by my husband. He told me of an elderly friend of his, now deceased, who had a prescription for Viagra, but who couldn't actually ever ingest it because it would mess with the effects of another medication he was taking. Nice. Very nice.
Many of the men who are prescribed this medication are on Medicare, so I think it should be stripped out of that coverage as well. And unlike the payments for abortion, which actually lower overall medical costs (pregnancy obviously costs much, much more) banning tax dollars from covering any kind of Viagra would result in a substantial savings...
...I realize that many people disagree with my moral objections to men getting erections which God clearly doesn't want them to get, but my principles on this are more important to me than theirs are to them. So too bad. If you want a boner, pay for it yourself.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
I got a call at Edie's, where we now go to watch most of the games, and it was promptly dropped in the cellular black hole that takes the form of Edie's kitchen. Seeing it was my parents that called, I moved out of the kitchen and in sight of the TV and called back.
"Hey, there's that hurricane out there..."
"Yeah, Ida, Mom."
"What's the word where you are?"
"Well, it's a category 2, we're on the edge of the cone...andOH IS HE IN? HEEEY THEY MADE IT! WE'RE GONNA BE TIED, BABYoh, sorry Mom, we're at Edie's watching the game."
"Uh-huh, I see."
"The most they've forecast is some winds and rain for us, but it's not gonna comeHEY THERE'S THE EXTRA POINT HERE THEY COMEover here."
Mom sighing a little "You know you can come over here if you need to evacuate."
"Oh, I know, Mom. But boy, I'll tell you, the Superdome is packed full of people watching this game. It's not coming here, and we'll just batten down whatever hatches may need it."
"Okay, then, we'll let you get back to your game."
"Talk with you later, Mom. Love you, buh-bye."
Really, I know I should be more concerned, as they just called in my son's school closing tomorrow in anticipation of some stormy weather...but hey, 8-0!!!!
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Been reading about Dubai. It's fascinating, but I don't want to drive there. Really, I'd rather be dodging traffic on Manhattan's Central Park West.
Please give G some love. Send some good vibes out to all those who just applied to get their kids into what are still the better public schools here as well. It's all still one giant clusterfook 'round here. I wish I could give parents and teachers more hope in this area, I do.
Dan turned 38 today. He's planning a trip this summer for the family to head to Bialystok to check out some ancestral roots. Granted, when I think of Bialystok and Poland, I think of at least four things:
- What great and terrible things happened to my people there.
- Bialys. Good, tasty hot bialys.
- Bialystock and Bloom.
- The song that closed Poland.
What I have had on the brain for most of this week, however, are musings on the power of words.
One man used his words to try to cover his lack of deeds, and, though there was some food for thought in his criticisms of New Orleans, his actions spoke much louder. Don't go calling the former Setback Czar a carpetbagger, though, as, once one looks back on the true meaning of the term, the nature of it opens the critic himself to criticism as well as a big picture of how the meanings of words can get bent, twisted, and obscured over time to the point where one is left thinking My God, I never knew that, but you know, I was educated that it meant this.
That thought really doesn't mean too much in the scheme of things. My father had to confront an educated woman and fellow scientist when he gave a scientific seminar in Europe a few years back on her still-held erroneous belief that Jewish people used the blood of Christian children in baking Passover matzah - because her father taught her. About the craziest thing I've ever heard of involving the actions of Jewish people was when Shabbetai Zvi, the self-proclaimed seventeenth-century messiah, married himself to a Torah scroll...but we don't do blood libel. Hell, I can't stand the sight of my own blood being taken, or of anyone else's being taken, thanks. But I digress.
Words. Obscuring, illuminating, insane words, perfect for criticism in all directions and for excuses...like the ones Greg Meffert did his best to throw in the direction of our local daily purveyor of words to try to mask his actions. Thankfully, the feds aren't buying it - they are throwing a bookcase or two of indictments at Meffert, his wife, and Mark St. Pierre, for bilking us all out of money meant to serve the city's technological needs in order to line their pockets and enjoy perks such as trips abroad or trips to local adult entertainment clubs. Cue my favorite look of shock here. No amount of pretty words can save the man now...they can, at the most, get him a reduced sentence.
Sentence - ha! Could be a group of words structured to form meaning, or a grouping of years spent in jail. The tangled webs we weave with these letters of the alphabet we have at our disposal.
Finally, I just finished reading Dave Cullen's amazing work Columbine, which showed me how absolutely wrong I was - and how wrong we all were - about the whys of the massacre there. Cullen doesn't mince words over what we ought to be doing regarding the latest shooting at Fort Hood: reserve judgment until more of the facts are known, something that, in this age of multiple news outlets rolling out pundits for every miniscule aspect of our lives, we could all use more of:
The whole thing is here. And that rush to judge "why" Cullen cautions against would have been quite useful when the events of 8-29-05 came 'round here.
If we have learned anything from these tragedies, is that we won't get a firm handle on why for weeks, months, or even years. At this distance from Oklahoma City, we were convinced it was the work of Arabs or Muslims, and what was the difference between those two anyway? The Columbine killers' journals---far and away the most revealing evidence---were released in 2006, more than seven years after the murders....
...If we guess now, the myths will be with us forever. Ten years after Columbine, most of the public still believes it was about jocks, Goths, and the Trench Coat Mafia. No, no, and no. It wasn't even intended primarily as a school shooting: the failed bombs were supposed to be the main event. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not loners, outcasts, or misfits, nor were most of the school shooters. Most shooters do not fit the profile we have come to accept, because no accurate profile exists.
It makes one wonder at times if words mean a damn thing. Are they contributing to the apathy and numbness of some about the news? Perhaps the right words might be better, if we could only find them. The search can seem akin to ferreting out needles in haystacks. Why even bother? All that anguish could well breed only more anguish and misunderstanding, or outright contempt and hate.
Well, sometimes a little inspiration comes down the pike when you least expect it.
I was in Amsterdam and I just stumbled into the Jewish museum. (Charlotte)Salomon's work - the paintings and the text that make up this book - was on display there. There was something about the line of suicides in her family - her grandmother, aunt and mother all took their own lives - and the idea of inescapable fate that drew me in. Since I've become a father I've become very aware of the things that are handed down on purpose and by accident. And I'm interested in what can be resisted. I have a bad habit, for example, of being anti-confrontational. I know why I have it - we can usually trace these things to historical and familial trauma. Part of being a parent is the opportunity to correct these things. I admire Salomon for resisting her fate so forcefully through her art. Sorrowfully, the Nazis captured her not long after she made these paintings and she was killed at Auschwitz. The conflict is: How can art redeem or correct? Sometimes it can't. And yet we keep doing it.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
The company, Makkar Advantage, is keeping details somewhat secretive, but we do know the the inventor of the PPM's, Dr. Anil Makkar, has been in New Orleans this weekend and has been in contact with Dr. Moreau regarding the details of our work with the Saints. Dr. Makkar was also meeting with Monday Night Football Analyst John Gruden to fit him for a PPM....What's the big whoop about these mouthpieces?
The mouthguards can be easily ID'd by the distinctive oval shaped "PPM" logo on the front of them. Most are either black or gold, a few are clear (usually for the lower teeth), and one notable exception was the crimson colored one I suggested for my fellow Alabama alum, Roman Harper.
Through the science of neuromuscular dentistry, we use precise technology to help the jaw relax and find the natural bite that is most comfortable and relaxed. When the jaw is in a happy place, this frees up the channels for full communication along the spinal cord and to the brain without the nagging interruptions and signals coming from those significant nerves and muscles around the lower part of the face and jaw. The brain is free to signal equally to heart, lungs, and other organs, and it brings proper alignment throughout the core, leading to greater strength, flexibility and balance.Frankly, I'd be a bit suspicious of having one Dr. Moreau wiring me up with electrodes, but hey, I'm not the one who's got the 7-0 record on my shoulders - or in my jaw, for that matter.
This seems pretty simplistic, but has been proven to result in improved overall strength, conditioning and performance for athletes. The PPM orthotic mouthguard holds the wearer's bite in the position that has been scientifically determined to be the happiest place for their teeth and jaws to rest and relax. A simple pen test, when placed in the mouth to simulate a neuromuscular position, can instantly demonstrate to a person the kind of difference a PPM mouthguard can make.
Big thanks to brenyb for the dentistry links.
I'll reserve my Saints' socks post for a later date...