Showing posts from October, 2010

Silent Sunday: Spicebush Swallowtail and Mexican sunflower



The Rally to Restore Sanity did, at least for a day and at least on the Mall in Washington. Tens of thousands of good-humored, non-angry, non-shouting people turned out - some 16 blocks of elbow-to-elbow people according to one report I saw. They carried signs, most of them humorous, and some people chanted, "Three word phrase! Three word phrase!" In short, it was the kind of rally I and billions like me could support with a smile! As part of the festivities, Jon Stewart awarded Medals of Reasonableness. They had the image of an owl and the Latin phrase, "Sit Vis Nobiscum." I'm told that means, "May the force be with you!" Indeed, may the force be with all of us, especially Jon Stewart for reminding us that there still are some reasonable and sane people in this country. Unfortunately, they are not well-represented in government.

Did you know...

Do you know what the average monthly private sector job growth was in the last year of the George W. Bush presidency? There was no growth. We LOST an average of 317,250 jobs per month. Do you know what the average monthly private sector job growth has been in 2010? We have GAINED an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Per Bureau of Labor Statistics records.) Do you know what the federal deficit was in the last full fiscal year of the Bush presidency? It was $1,416,000,000,000. Do you know what the federal deficit is for fiscal year 2010? $1,291,000,000,000, a decline of $125,000,000,000. Yes, Obama and the "tax and spend" Democrats have actually reduced the deficit . Do you know where the stock market ended up on the last day of the Bush presidency? The Dow ended at 7949; NASDAQ at 1440; S&P 500 at 805. Do you know where the stock market ended today? Dow at 11,118.49; NASDAQ at 2507.41; S&P 500 at 1183.26. That's an increase of approxima

Here's my check, NPR, and thank you for Juan Williams!

My local public radio station is currently in its semi-annual fund drive, attempting to raise over one million dollars to sustain it in the coming six months. Since my radio dial is permanently tuned to NPR and I derive the benefit of their programming every day, it seems only fair that I should help foot the bill. After all, NPR gets almost no money from any public source and so the money to operate the stations and finance their news-gathering and entertainment sections must come from private sources. That means me. Simultaneous with the beginning of this fund drive, NPR was in the news itself for having fired a pundit named Juan Williams. Williams split his time between NPR and Fox News, of all places, but he always seemed to fit a lot better with Fox. He was given to making obviously biased and ill-considered statements, and, over the years, I had frequently thought, "What is this man doing on my radio station?" Finally, though, he crossed the line of no-return even

Wordless Wednesday: Ripening


Rallying point

Just a week out from the election, the campaigns are getting nastier and nastier and more overtly racist. At the same time, it is getting more and more dangerous to show up at a campaign event to oppose one of the tea party's favorites . In the midst of this overheated atmosphere, Jon Stewart will bring his "Rally to Restore Sanity" to the nation's capital this weekend. Stewart must be a cockeyed optimist to think that he might be able to make Americans stop and think about how crazy they have become and how it might be a good idea to take it down a notch and actually think before they speak or act. But if anybody can do it, my money is on him. Maybe that makes me a cockeyed optimist, too. This once-great nation is poised to fall into third world status unless we learn to behave like adults in our political lives and live up to the responsibilities of doing the things that make a great nation. And, yes, that includes taxing ourselves to provide a social safety

Peeling the onion of politics

Did you see this story in The Onion last week? WASHINGTON—According to recent media reports, Democrats stand to lose as many as 8,000 congressional seats and more than 917 gubernatorial races in November's midterm elections. "Republicans are poised to pick up 1,500 seats in Ohio alone, and could wind up with a 23,576-to-12 majority in the Senate," Beltway observer Isaac Hundt said Wednesday, noting the GOP's advantage is likely to increase by Election Day given that its candidates are outspending their opponents by some $900 trillion. "With Democratic disapproval ratings in the quadruple digits, it's a foregone conclusion that Republicans will not only retake Congress, but hold it for the next 20,000 to 25,000 years." Experts also predicted the one-sided election results would cause Barack Obama to die on the spot, at which point the nation's leading conservative talk-radio host would be sworn in as president of the United States forever. Yes, if you

Silent Sunday: Golden slippers


Body Work by Sara Paretsky: A review

V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky's Chicago private detective, is one tough woman. Those bad guys who try to intimidate her soon learn that such tactics only strengthen her resolve. She takes a licking and keeps on ticking, and she never, ever gives up on a client. The opening of this latest book, Body Work, finds V.I. at a club in Chicago where a performance artist who bills herself as the Body Artist is doing her thing. Her "thing" involves appearing naked on stage and allowing members of the audience to draw or write on her body. Everything proceeds about as you would expect in the circumstances until a young woman who is obviously a talented artist starts to draw. What she draws is a woman's face surrounded by flames and by an enigmatic symbol. Her drawing seems to enrage a young Iraq War veteran in the audience who reacts violently before his friends can calm him. A few days later, the woman who drew the picture lies dying in the alley near the club, after having b

The militantly ignorant march on

One of the better columns that Maureen Dowd has written recently appeared in the online New York Times yesterday. It's entitled "Making Ignorance Chic" and it talks about some of the incredibly and proudly ignorant characters on the political scene this year. She compares them to the ultimate "dumb blonde" Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn was the perfect fantasy of every man's dreams - an incredibly beautiful and sexual being who was his intellectual inferior. Whenever they might begin to feel overwhelmed by all that beauty and pure sexuality, they could always make themselves feel better by making fun of her supposed "dumbness". But Marilyn was no dummy and she certainly did not aspire to ignorance like many of today's politicians. Although she had had an incredibly dysfunctional upbringing that left her scarred for life, she did, in fact, try to overcome all of that. She read the classics and attempted to educate herself. She talked to and lis

Wordless Wednesday: Navel gazing?


The most popular politician in America

Who would you guess to be the most popular politician in America? Sarah Palin? You would probably think so if you were a regular viewer of Fox News. Barack Obama? Right-wingers detest him. Left-wingers are disappointed in him. Does anybody except Bo the dog even like him anymore? Mike Huckabee? Some profess to find him charming and appealing. Personally, I don't see it, but then I'm almost never with the majority. This time, though, I am with the majority. If you asked me who is the most popular politician in America, I would reply, unhesitatingly, Bill Clinton, and so, apparently, would 55% of my fellow Americans! This is according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll . In the poll 55% had a favorable view of Clinton while only 23% had an unfavorable view. Only two other politicians in the poll managed to garner an overall favorable response. Barack Obama had 47% favorable, 41% unfavorable, and Mike Huckabee barely squeaked by with 26% favorable and 25% unf

Blog Action Day 2010: Water

Water. We generally take it for granted here in America. We expect that when we turn on the tap, it will be there, fresh and clean. We use it without thinking about it. It is like the air that we breathe. What if we had to walk hours to get water and then carry it back home with us in a cistern weighing around 40 pounds? What if, even then, we could not count on that water being pure and unpolluted and free from disease? What if we had to drink it anyway and give it to our children, because it is the only water there is? This is the reality for far too many people in the developing world. It is a fact that unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. The toll is estimated at 42,000 people a week! That is 42,000 human beings dying from preventable water-borne diseases such as salmonella, hepatitis A, cholera, and E.coli. It is also a fact that more people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. An incredible 2.

These folks give hypocrisy a bad name

Remember back a couple of months ago when the right wing was all up in arms over having an Islamic Community Center built in the middle of Manhattan? They were so concerned about the sensitive feelings of survivors and kin of the victims of the Twin Towers tragedy. It would hurt their feelings to have an Islamic place of worship a few blocks from the site of the towers. Never mind the fact that a significant number of the innocent victims of that attack were Muslims who worked in the Towers and never mind that there had been an Islamic prayer room in the Towers which was destroyed by the attack of the fanactics along with everything else that awful day. Those were just inconvenient facts and these people don't have a very close relationship with facts. But, of course, another of their big concerns about the project was the question of where the money to build the structure was coming from. Was it from foreign sources? Was it "dirty Muslim money"? They spent weeks

Oh, happy day!

This is a very happy day. It isn't often that there is a story in the news that brings unadulterated and uncomplicated joy to all who hear or read it, but surely the story of the Chilean miners who were finally safely brought back to the surface of the earth today must be such a story. These men had been trapped underground for more than two months, while their foreman kept them organized and focused and managed their available supplies so that they could have a chance to survive the ordeal. On the surface, government officials, engineers, scientists, medical personnel worked together non-stop to drill an escape route and devise the equipment and machinery needed to draw the men safely out. The families and friends of the men kept vigil, creating an impromptu village near the site of rescue operations. Some of the wives had been on the site continuously since the accident. The beginning of the end was last night when the first miner was brought up and, throughout the day today,

Silent Sunday: Ah, autumn!


Secretariat - the horse, not the movie

All the hoopla about the new Disney movie, Secretariat , has brought back some wonderful memories of an amazing animal. I'm not really a horseracing fan like my husband who eats this stuff up every day of his life, but I was a Secretariat fan like millions of other people in this country and, indeed, around the world. In 1973, when he won the Triple Crown of racing, there wasn't much to cheer about. We were still mired in the Vietnam War and every day brought news of the sad total of casualties from half a world away. Richard Nixon was president and was deep into his paranoia, dragging the country along with him. The Watergate scandal was on the horizon. We desperately needed some good news. And along came Secretariat. He was a gorgeous horse, right out of central casting. He was a big flashy red with three white stockings and a white blaze on his face, and he had personality. He seemed to love the limelight. Maybe that is anthropomorphizing. Who knows what a horse r

Is this the kind of society we want?

By now, you have probably heard about the recent fire in Obion County, Tennessee, in which the fire department stood by without lifting a hose while a family's house and all its possessions, as well as three family dogs and a cat, burned. It seems that the family had forgotten to pay its annual fee of $75 for fire protection and so the fire department refused to act. They refused even though the owner of the house offered to pay the fee on the spot and his neighbor also wanted to pay the fee and have the firemen try to save the house and the animals. They refused to take payment and refused to act. The house burned to the ground. The animals burned to death. One has to wonder what would have happened if those four animals had been four children. Would the fire department have continued to stand on principle and refused to act? In a John Galt world where it is strictly every person for him/herself, that is exactly what they would have done and that seems to be what many cons

Wordless Wednesday: Chilly morning


Eastbound and Down...and out!

I settled down with the hubby on Sunday night to watch a little television. We set the DVR to record PBS' Masterpiece and headed over to HBO for "Boardwalk Empire", their new series set in Atlantic City during Prohibition. This series, starring Steve Buscemi, is very good. It's well-written, well-acted, and it is about an interesting period in history. Moreover, it has characters that can engage one's empathy, people that one can care about. After that, "Bored to Death" came on, another well-written and well-acted show. This one, though, is a comedy, not a drama, and it is flat-out funny. It certainly kept me entertained. Next up was "Eastbound and Down." I watched a couple of episodes in this series last year and quickly decided that it wasn't for me, but hubby was going to watch it so I thought, "What the heck? I'll give it another try." Well, I won't make that mistake again! If you haven't seen the show, c

Wait'll next year and hope...

So now it has come - that time that we have dreaded for the past six months. The end of baseball season. No more nightly visits with Brownie and JD. No more astonishingly balletic moves to gasp over, no more unjust umpires to moan over, no more ecstasy of victory or agony of defeat. The Astros' season is over. The season ended on a high note as they shut out the Cubs, but over the last week to ten days of the season, they had lost the momentum that they had enjoyed since the end of June. Suddenly, they were in a funk, playing with no more energy than they had during the first several weeks of the season when they were truly awful. They looked tired and out of their depth and they limped to the end of the season. For a while there in late August and early September, I had high hopes for the end of their season. I thought they would at least finish in third place and might even overtake the Cardinals for second place in the division. It was not to be. They finished fourth ou

Silent Sunday: Got birdseed?


A rally for our times

Have you got your ticket to go to the big rally in Washington? Oh, not today's rally, although that rally for jobs was pretty big, too. No, I'm talking about the big rally that will take place on 10/30/10, the "Rally to Restore Sanity". Never has such a rally been so needed. Jon Stewart announced the rally on "The Daily Show" in September and momentum for it has been picking up steam ever since. Even President Obama has had nice things to say about it. Stewart, the funnyman fake news anchor, is very serious about this. He has said that he believes that the angry shouters should not be the only voices being heard. The rest of us who believe that shouting is counterproductive and terrible for your throat and who believe that the only pictures that should have Hitler mustaches drawn on them are pictures of Hitler - or maybe Charlie Chaplin - we have a right to be heard also. And so, he's giving us a forum for making our voices heard and our numbers c

Banned and burned classics of the 20th century

Banned Books Week of 2010 is winding down, so I visited the American Library Association for more information on the subject and came across this title: Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century . What an interesting and diverse group of books it is. As I read over the list and the reasons that the books had been banned and, in some cases, burned, it became obvious that most of the bannings - though not all - had to do with sex. Even in the 20th century we still just didn't know how to handle that little three-letter word and all its implicitness and explicitness. In second place seemed to be offensive language or concerns about the way religion was handled. But some of the bannings were truly mystifying. For example, The Call of the Wild by Jack London, which I loved as a teenager, was banned in Italy and Yugoslavia in 1929 and was burned in Nazi bonfires in 1933! I'm not sure what it was about the story of th