Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quilly's Three Word Challenge

Thursday is the day for Quilly's Three Word Challenge. This week's words and their definitions are:

paladin - a trusted military leader, a leading champion of a cause

intransigent - uncompromising

invidious - tending to cause discontent, animosity or envy

The insidious hate and fear-mongering engaged in by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party (the only voice they seem to have at present) and the equally insidious penchant for fear-mongering (and outright "dis-informing") by almost every "news" outlet is profoundly destructive to the well-being of our nation. Whether it be "we don't mean to frighten you, but..." news reporting on the swine flu, the repeated airing of politicians and ignorant "men/women on the street" distorting the truth by asserting that Obama is raising taxes, minute by minute obsessing about the state of the economy... most of what alleges to be news is closer to gossip and ends up spreading more fear and confusion than information. It is invidious as well as insidious.

(Just as an aside: when someone announces that they don't want to frighten you.... know that indeed they do in fact mean to frighten you. It may or may not be a conscious intention, but those kinds of apologies are red flags that tell you to be frightened and at the same time try to deny responsiblity for the impact of their behavior. My demented brother used to start many of our conversations with the phrase, "I don't want you to worry, but..." It took me a while, but I eventually realized that he did in fact want me to worry. That was the whole point. People who don't want you to worry find non-worrysome ways to tell you things. People who don't want to frighten you present information in ways that doesn't sensationalize it. )

But I digress. I used to consider myself an independent voter. I've always been liberal, more likely to vote Democratic, but I wasn't always a political bigot. I am now, though I have, on rare (and even fairly recent) occasions, voted for Republicans who seem to be capable of thought rather than intransigently spewing the party line. That they have driven a life-time moderate Republican Arlen Specter from their ranks with their intransigence seems not to have given them pause for thought. Some of them actually seem proud of themselves for it.

One thing that really bugs me in the discussion of Obama's budget is the failure of those on "my" side of the aisle to answer the questions (or perhaps pose the counter question) about the burden Obama's "rash spending" (on things like education and health care and the environment) will put on our children and grand children. Why doesn't anyone mention the burdens that the continuing deterioration of our health care system, the continuing decline of our schools and our educational system, the continuing rape of our environment, the contuing neglect of our infrastructure will put on the shoulders of those same children and grandchildren. Ultimately, fixing these massive problems - which are profoundly expensive in both dollars and human life - will pay for itself. Letting things continue to spiral down costs us in both the short and the long term. Part of the reason these problems require such expensive fixes now is because they have been continuously put off for decades. If we don't tend to these problems and soon - even if the put us deeper in debt for the moment - we will face much more expensive fixes down the road and many will suffer as well. It's much cheaper to fix a leak before your ceiling collapses from it than after. Obama - who is usually so articulate and eloquent - has sort of said this but has not said it with true clarity. What is WRONG with Democrats?

I think President Obama is a man of vision, a paladin of sorts for the rights of the average person and the poor. I love that he is doing more than just talking about the rights and needs of the poor and middle class, he's taking steps to help us. And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that he doesn't assume we're a bunch of morons who aren't capable of understanding complex concepts and must only be spoken to in 20-second sound bites. Granted, it has only been 100 days, but I think this is another reason that he remains popular; he's telling us what he thinks and why he is doing what he's doing. He's explaining economic and political concepts in depth. How cool is that!

Anyway, guess I'll stop here except for....

I ran across this on Huffington Post this morning. It has gotten little (no) coverage on any news I've listened to... Last night President Obama stepped almost to a place he doesn't want to go to and said the words that "waterboarding is torture." It's an area where I'm disappointed in him, though I understand that to pursue trying people when he already has so very much on his plate must feel nightmarish. We aren't a nation that likes holding our leaders responsible for their crimes. It's uncomfortable. These people violated international law, though. They twisted the law to justify torture and they lied about it... It shouldn't be swept under the rug. I didn't want the boy who stabbed my sister to death executed, but I sure wanted him tried. Would it bring my sister back? No, but maybe it would protect someone else's sister. Torture violated the Geneva Conventions and it violates human decency. Ok... I'll stop ranting. Here's the video. It features Condalesa Rice saying it wasn't her fault and that since the President said it was ok, it must have been legal. Hmmmm.

Day late addition : Check out Dianne's (Forks Off the Moment) post on Swine Flu.

That's it from me for now. Sorry I'm so ranty today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just Some Spring Pictures

Don't really have anything to say today so I thought I'd just post some pictures.

This little bee got downed by the wind, I think. He sat there for a few minutes and then flew off.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday - hosted by Mary/the Teach at Work of the Poet - is here again. Great way to see lots of wonderful reds from around the whole world.

Today I just have a couple of robins and my flowering quince (I think that's what it is) getting ready to put on her full display.

It's about noon my time. Since I set this up to post last night, I spent the morning obsessively trying to take pictures of bumble bees. I swear they toy with me. They actually buzz the door and hover there and then just when I get them in focus they flit off. Very frustrating. But I finally got two fairly cool shots... not as zoomed in as I would have liked, but at least there are bumble bees in them. Now I'd better go sign Mr. Linky and start visiting others. Oh... that last quince photo was taken a few minutes ago... how quickly the blossoming is moving now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's SPRING!!!!

Well it finally feels like Spring here as well as looking the part. We went from temperatures in the 40s (and lower) to the 80s yesterday and today. The birds are singing, bees are buzzing, the flowering quince is rich in buds, there are periwinkles (I think that's what they are) all across my yard and a few dandelions. I'm pretty happy to be out of my three layers of warm clothes and to have my thermostat all the way off. Yippee!

On Thursday, the people from Delaware Opportunities came back and looked at my kitchen. I can't believe that now, besides fixing my entrance and giving me a walk-in shower, they are going to revamp my kitchen as well. As it is at the moment, everything is pretty tall for a sitting person and the cabinets are too high for me even standing. Even standing on a step ladder. Anyway, they're going to move my dishwasher (which I almost never use) over to the wall where they're moving the washing machine too and then put in a new lower sink and counter and put STORAGE under the cabinets so I'll have reachable storage! Wow! Maybe I'll be able to be a bit neater! They're also going to put in a big tall built-in shelf where there are three shelves coming off the wall (literally in the case of one of them) right now... and they may put some other low shelf space where I feed the cats and have their food and my coffee pot and stuff... all at a level that will be easy for me to reach. How cool is that!

Well, between that last sentence and this one, I took a shower and came back listening to the people on CNN talking about Swine Flu. I really ought to stop putting CNN on. It just makes me cranky. They had people calling/writing in questions and one person in California wanted to know about closing the border to those pesky sick people who come in to American hospitals. Well in defense of the CNN folks, they said they thought that was pretty unimaginable give the fact that this potential pandemic isn't that serious at the moment. What nobody said - which seems kind of like a no brainer to me - is wouldn't you WANT people to be treated? Not just because treating sick people is an inherently moral thing to do, but because TREATING them means that if they do have Swine Flu, they won't be spreading it to hundreds of other people.

Guess I'll leave off here and just post some Spring pictures for all the things I didn't particiate in - skywatch, shadow shot... Sigh. Hope your day wherever you are is as beautiful as the day we are having here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge, Week 60

This is week 60 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. I had a hard time getting anything to feel finished this week... even connecting them, they all just seemed to not quite finish except that I got all the words in. Next week's words are awful too. Anyone wanting to volunteer some words is welcome to do so.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: preparation, tic-tac-toe, splurge, auction block, the bitter end, milk, papyrus, when the parade passes by, bill of lading, stone wall Mini Challenge: polar bear, 20 seconds, get it together, spasmodic, antiquity

Here's my ten world offering for this week:

Margaret Milk Morgenson loved history. She was obsessed with things historical and had been since childhood. When her classmates had spent time playing tic-tac-toe she had read history books. She had begged her parents to take her to museums and historical sites. When other children had bought themselves candy, she had splurged on replicas of papyrus scrolls and books about mummies and mummification. Now, a college history professor, it seemed her whole life had been a preparation for finding ways to bring history to life for her students and society at large. Her newly published book of poetry, "The Bitter End: Stone Walls and Auction Blocks," had received serious acclaim. It dealt with the history of slavery and racism from historic times right up to the present moment. Two poem which had received the most notice were an agonizingly stark piece entitled "Bill of Lading," which painted a mercilessly unblinking portrait of what it was to both be and traffic in human cargo and "When the Parade Passes By," a remarkably empathic expression (so she was told) of what it had been like to be a young black male in the 1900s in America. Trying to decide what to write next, she was torn such profoundly diverse subjects as a biography of her uncle Harvey and the gay rights movement in America or global warming.

This week's mini challenge:

"Get it together... Get it together," Margaret muttered to herself. It made no sense to fall to pieces every 20 seconds over things one could not change. These spasmodic outbursts of emotion about Uncle Harvey and polar bears and even the tragedies of antiquity make no sense to her. "It just isn't like me to act this way," she muttered to herself. "I've been absorbed by history for my whole life without going to pieces. What on earth is wrong with me?" Across the room, her mother smiled knowingly. "I think, Margaret, my dear, that you and Henry here are perhaps about to make a little history of your own. I was the same way when I was pregnant. You have all the signs."

And the mega challenge:


Margaret stared at her mother dumbfounded. "Pregnant?" She had been so busy with her classes and the publication of the book that she had not really stopped for breath. "Pregnant." It made sense. She looked around at the house in a panic. There was so much preparation to do. She and Henry would really need to get it together. At least the surprising success of her book, "The Bitter End: Stone Walls and Auction Blocks," meant that they would have a little extra money. They could splurge on baby things. There was so much to do. So much to buy. Pointing to the papyrus that hung on the wall and the other fragile antiquities that decorated their home she decreed with such urgency that you would have thought the baby was due any moment, "All this stuff has to go, Henry." 20 seconds later she was on to decorating the nursery, leaving her poor husband's head spinning with the change in his normally reasonable wife. "Margaret," he whispered, "maybe we should make sure we're really pregnant first." He was not quite sure how to deal with this new wife with her spasmodic fits of weeping and intense mood swings. He was not quite sure what to think about having a baby. It was not that he didn't want one. It had just not occurred to him that he and Margaret might become parents or that she would become this strange new person when it happened. He wanted to go on as they were. He was excited by her new found fame, traveling with her as talk show hosts from Oprah to Charlie Rose interviewed her about Bill of Lading and the book's other poems. He loved listening to her talk about history. Now suddenly she was a weepy baby mom who wanted to buy stuffed polar bears and decorate a nursery with a "when the parade passes by" theme of endangered animals painted onto the walls. At least that was a bit like the real Margaret. The new Margaret, meanwhile, had responded to his comment first with an angry. "Of COURSE I'm pregnant," which was followed shortly with tears and a wailing, "You don't want our baby," which was then followed by.... well, you get the idea. Once she was able to stop laughing, Gloria Milk, Margaret's mother, put a hand on her bewildered son-in-law's shoulder and whispered. "This will pass eventually, my boy, but you have a couple of rough months ahead of you, I'm afraid." To her daughter she said, "Henry is right, of course. Take a deep breath Margaret and come sit down. Tomorrow you can go to the doctor and make sure you really are pregnant... and then relax. As for me... I'm going to be a grandma." Saying which, she sat down, put her arms around her daughter and the two of them began weeping copiously. Henry, for his part, wasn't sure what was more frightening to him... the idea of being a father or 9 months of weeping, moody women. It's like tic-tac-toe, he thought to himself and then wondered what he meant by that. He felt a bit like crying himself, but that he feared would only encourage the women.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: translation, crunchy, cat’s paw, trunk, I love raspberry tarts, global warming, star struck, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, fragile, Spring fever

Mini Challenge: pancakes and syrup, flat tire, mongoose, this place looks like a bordello, first dance

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quilly's Three Word Challenge

Time for Quilly's vocabulary stretching three word challenge. This week's words and their definitions are:

- relating the period before the (Biblical) flood; made, evolved, developed a long time ago.

- unduly prolonged or drawn out; marked by or using an excess of words.

- not to be avoided, changed or resisted

In some ways James Joyce's book ULYSSES might be called prolix by some, but if it was prolix it was also strangly poetic in places. In the antediluvian times when I was a college student, I took a course on the book and that was the first (and pretty much last) time I saw the word "ineluctable." I was really sick at the time and not functioning very well, but for some reason the first sentence of the third chapter stuck in my brain instantly (ineluctably?). The chapter started as follows:
"INELUCTABLE MODALITY OF THE VISIBLE: AT LEAST THAT IF NO MORE, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it, it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.

Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o'er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the end of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los Demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand? Crush, crack, crick, crick. Wild sea money. Dominie Deasy kens them a'.
When I was looking for the quote, I found a cool website where you could read the book on-line. I was going to share the link but I lost it (long story). However, my nephew's fiance (he's getting married!) sent me this link which might be of interest to book and word lovers. Free literature... emailed to you in segments on a schedule you set. It's called Cool.

Guess that's it from me. Trying not to be prolix though I have been ineluctably drawn to being so from the antediluvian times of my youth on into the present.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture and Relative Morality

Well, there's nothing better for getting me out of the doldrums than something I feel passionate about. I've been listening to way too much CNN. It's an exercise in self torture... Commentators - even the best of them - tend to make me sputter and mutter, yell at the TV and at times use language unbefitting my alleged gentility.

So, anyway, last night before bed, I turned to CNN and they got to yapping about torture and interviewing opposing sides on the rightness or wrongness of releasing the torture memos and prosecuting people who attempted to justify torture and those who "just followed orders." Dick Cheney is busy saying... "but, but, but.... we got information from these techniques.... they didn't release that." First, I'm pretty skeptical about how much incredibly valuable information we got from tormenting and debasing other human beings, but secondly.... that doesn't justify doing it. Torture is torture. Inhumanity is inhumanity. A successful robbery makes you richer. That doesn't make it right. And nothing.... NOTHING... makes torture right. The reason there are international treaties banning torture is because it is an obscenity and beyond moral justification.

Whatever information we got or didn't get, we tortured one man one hundred and eighty three (183!!!!!) times, another 83. (What's with the 83 thing? Somebody's lucky number? Creepy.) How effective is something (even if you can cross the hideous moral boundary line that lets you debase your own humanity to indulge in it) which requires 183 tries to accomplish its end? What does engagement in such horror do to the perpetrators? Most of us from the comfort of distance and time cluck our tongues at Germans who sat back and allowed the Nazis to accomplish their horrors. We are righteous about those who tormented and killed millions. We are righteous and stunned by the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition (where water boarding was invented, I believe.) Now we - in our free society - have ignored and rationalized (granted on a much smaller scale) our own government treading into depravity.

Every villain has a great reason for why they have killed or stolen or tormented another human being. The wife abuser is convinced that it is his victim's fault. It's fascinating to me that this behavior was conducted and justified by the "What would Jesus Do" crowd (by this I don't mean all people who may ask this question, but Mr. Bush who and his cronies who allegedly used that question as the basis for their decisions). Last time I read the Bible, Jesus would have turned the other cheek. I'm not saying we have to go that far, though I do believe that if instead of responding to terrorists by behaving just like them, we held the high moral ground, they would lose much of their power. Their power comes in part from our willingness to make them into more than they are. If Israel - instead of taking the revenge times 2 route each time some deluded fool blew himself up - had continued trooping slowly, patiently towards peace.... perhaps the world would not be in it's current state of chaos. Maybe not. I don't know. History can't be rewound.

I was living in Arizona with my niece when the World Trade Centers were blown up. In the midst of all that horror there was a collective sense that the international community had a moment of clarity, of wanting to come together... not for revenge, but for peace. It was collective. It was palpable. It was a wasted opportunity because our country (with help from others) took the low road. In fact we blew up the road to Peace when we chose to invade another country with no justification. But I digress from torture.

Life is full of moral choices. Everything that happens can be used for good or ill. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney - in my opinion - chose to defend Democracy and the rule of law - by betraying everything that Democracy and the rule of law stand for. When the law didn't suit their ends, they evaded it or rewrote it. When truth didn't suit their ends, they lied. When confronted with evil doers, they became evil doers themselves. My first therapist once told me (and I didn't get it for a long time) that "we become the thing we hate." No finer example of that exists than my country justifying torture, military invasion, and violation of the principles of a democratic society in the name of protecting our principles. You simply cannot protect your principles by violating them. It's nonsense. It's irrational. It's immoral. Even if these men had drawn us maps to the hide-out of Osama Bin Lauden, it would not justify what was done.

We become the thing we hate. Horrible as the events of 9/11 were, the real damage to us as a nation came when we allowed fear mongerers in our own midst to persuade us that our values could be protected only by violating them. (The only way I can save you is to kill you.) This, in my view is the true power of terrorism... not the violence they do to the individuals they kill or the buildings they blow up - but the invitation they create for us to sell out our own values and justify behaving just like them. You become the thing you hate. Terrorism is terrorism no matter who is perpetrating it.

What would Jesus do? I don't think he'd waterboard anyone, lock him in a room with bugs, strip him, deprive him of sleep, beat his head against a wall.... Is this truly who we want to be as nation? This is why I continue to think it's important to hold the people who did these things accountable. It's too easy to try and turn away. Too easy not to look. That's how the Nazis succeeded. That's how American settlers virtually eradicated the Native American population of this country. That's how we allowed lynching and torture of black citizens in this country - a country with a free press - in my own life time. Evil is evil. Torture is evil. Evil can't be used to produce a good end. There is no such thing as relative morality. Ever. Or that's what I think.

One last thought/caveat. Having just said that there is no such thing as relative morality, I will now contradict myself slightly. Stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family may be a crime but it is less morally reprehensible to me than stealing from thousands to buy a mansion and a yacht. Killing another to save your own life in the moment is vile but comprehensible to me. I don't know if I could do it or not, but I think that's very different than plotting to kill... or killing in the name of some potential or imagined future event. Trying to rationalize torture as self-defense is self-deceit. Consciously engaging in intentional evil is simply abhorrent.


Happy Actual Earth Day. I was ahead of schedule yesterday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day

I'm still deeply in the dumps. Wanted to wish everyone a Happy Earth Day and apologize because I'm pretty much not visiting anyone... I still care about you, I just need to be inward, I guess. It's cold here still despite the daffodils and buds and forsythia. I'm so looking forward to open windows and not feeling cold.... and it will happen. It's already happening.

Anyway, this little grackle posed so sweetly for me this morning that I can't resist sharing her (I don't know why I think it's a girl... maybe because I think she's building a nest).

Oh - one other thing... friends of mine told me about this organization called Angel Food Network. Seems like a good organization to me and a way to make significant economic cuts into your food budget in difficult times. According to the website, there are no income qualifications and no registration. It's pretty meat heavy, so maybe not a solution for vegetarians, but...

Happy Earth Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Despite Spring I've Got the Blahs

Sinking into the blahs this morning. I had ideas for One Single Impression. I have photos for Shadow Shot Sunday. But I have a cold and no ambition to go with them. Even posting them seems too much, none-the less visiting 50 to 100 other sites to leave comments. I hate it when I get this way. I took a three hour nap yesterday afternoon and it helped some but I think I need to nap again today... and get back on my earlier to bed schedule. Daylight savings time has messed with me big time this year.

So anyway, I'll post some nice robins, take a nap and do some reiki on an assortment of people and Diane's kitty Mia.

Hope you all have a lovely day. It has warmed up some here... not enough to open the windows, but enough to leave the thermostat down. And there are daffodils and forsythia. Spring is winning. Winter has been deposed.

I hope you have a lovely day! I'm off to take a nap...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 59

This is week 59 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Even I'm tired of hearing me complain about the words every week so I'm not going to do it this week. I'm just going to post my wordzzles. Nope, no complaints here even if they were so bad that I almost wanted to give up.... Nope... no complaints.... Just posting what I post and leaving it at that.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: prefix, art festival, income tax, chicken noodle soup, jump rope, Dutch Treat, flowering plum tree, bats in the belfry, diamond earrings, tigers Mini Challenge: book club, organic tea, the cow jumped over the moon, paragon of virtue, wench

Here's my ten-word offering for this week:

Dutch Treat seemed like a better name for chocolate than chicken noodle soup, Amanda mused to herself, but there was no denying that this soup was a treat, Dutch or not. Sitting at this outdoor café, surrounded by flowering plum trees here at the art festival the bats in the belfry madness of last night’s income tax trauma seemed like ancient history, though just the thought of sorting through bank accounts and prefixes and numbers made her anxious all over again. Nerves aside, the happy outcome – besides the fact that the filing was done – was that she was getting a big enough return to buy herself those diamond earrings or if not them, maybe that cool painting of the tigers she had looked at earlier. She felt elated enough to join those kids playing jump rope… well almost, anyway. It was fun watching them at least. In any case, all things considered, today was a good day.

And here's my mini challenge:

Miranda sat drinking her organic tea and feeling like a paragon of virtue as she read this month’s book club selection, which was entitled The Wizard’s Wench and while not the greatest book ever was entertaining. Certainly, she thought to herself, smiling at her sleeping three year old, it’s more exciting than the cow jumped over the moon.

My maxi Challenge:

Peter Prefix loved being curator of the art festival. He had single-handedly (well, almost) revitalized this once forgotten corner of his little city. It had all begun as he read Joseph Campbell and absorbed that great man’s sense of wonder… and the idea of following your bliss. Peter had followed his bliss and opened The Flowering Plum Tree, a sweet café where he served organic tea and quality vegetarian food. The place was famous for its vegetarian version of chicken noodle soup, a cocktail of his own invention which he called the Saucy Wench, and for the weekly book club gatherings held there. With the amazing success of Plum Tree, he decided to open another- very different - place in the same neighborhood. He had called the second cafe The Cow Jumped Over the Moon. It was created with children and parents in mind and was part café, part indoor playground. There was a padded jump rope corner, a room called bats in the belfry where kids could bounce and run and burn off steam, and the Paper Tiger room where they could learn origami or put on smocks and draw or paint while their parents watched and enjoyed his signature Dutch Treat hot chocolate and an unlimited supply of donuts and cookies or they could enjoy the "dining room" and have a meal if they preferred. With the success of both restaurants his bliss had guided him on to creating the series of annual arts festivals which included the whole gamut of the arts from painting and sculpture to literary talents. The Flowering Plum offered weekly poetry readings as well as the book clubs and The Cow had a standing gallery for the children’s art. Peter was a happy man. Though many accused him of it, he didn’t think of himself as a paragon of virtue. He felt he was a good man and an honest one. He paid his income taxes gladly, gave money to charity, helped those in need when he could and did everything he could to reach out a helping hand to those to whom life had been less than kind. He did this in part because he knew that his own good fortune had been built on an amazing stroke of luck. Thirty years ago as a very young man he had found a pair of diamond earrings lying on the sidewalk and after making great effort had been able to return them to their owner. She had rewarded him with the down payment on his first restaurant, a life-long friendship and her daughter's hand in marriage. He was more lucky than virtuous and he knew it. He was happy to be alive. Life was good and he counted his blessings daily.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: preparation, tic-tac-toe, splurge, auction block, the bitter end, milk, papyrus, when the parade passes by, bill of lading, stone wall

Mini Challenge: polar bear, 20 seconds, get it together, spasmodic, antiquity

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keith Olbermann on Mr. Obama's Decision re Torturers

I think President Obama is a truly good and thoughtful man, a man of great integrity, but today I was a bit disappointed in him. I understand that with so very much on his and this nation's plate, that it must seem on some level unnecessarily divisive and traumatic to pursue legal action on the moral offenses of the previous administration. I agree with Mr. Olbermann, though. Sometimes difficult things must be done because they are the right thing to do and doing them - even if it's uncomfortable and difficult - is ultimately healing.

While there is a legalism that says the lower level players were operating under the legal advice from the administration that what they were doing was legal... morally, I think they have to have known better. That excuse - as Mr. Olbermann points out - is no more valid now than it was when the Nazi's used it.

Quilly's Three Word Challenge

Thursday brings us Quilly's three words you may never heard of before challenge. This week's words were: comity, sublunary, and specious. Here are the definitions:

Comity: a friendly social environment; loose, a wide-spread community based on common social institutions; avoidance of proselytizing members of another religious denomination.

Sublunary: relating to the terrestrial world.

Specious: having a deception attraction or allure; having a false look of truth or genuineness.

Listening to the news coverage of these specious, supposedly "grass roots" tea parties around the country is enough to make me spit tacks. We have outraged citizens protesting higher taxes just when the taxes of 93% of us have gone DOWN. We have the Republican governor of Texas threatening to secede from the Union. Texas is that gave us the evil dim-wit George W. Bush wants to leave the union because of big government. Oddly they weren't bothered when GWB spied on us, took us into a war we shouldn't have entered, gave us a record deficit, stuck his finger into personal matters like a family's private decision about pulling the plug on a brain-dead woman or the right of gay people to marry one another.....

I really don't like being a bigot, but Republicans bring out the worst in me. They are continuing to try the route they used when they had power... to keep the country divided and fearful. Commity - in it's best sense - is their enemy. In Republican eyes, in Republican parlance, the social welfare of the bulk of our citizens is "wasteful spending." They seem to have no shame about simply repeating old lies and half truths over and over and pulling in the gullible and unhappy with fears of freedom lost. It's ugly, insane and short-sighted.... not that I have strong feelings on the subject.

Then there's the issue of government spending. Republicans had no trouble spending money on rich people and bombs and spying. That, I guess isn't big government. For people who are supposed to be fiscally conscious they also seem incapable of grasping the idea that sometimes you have to spend money to save money. They continue to ignore the long-term impact of some of the projected expenditures. Our current failures in health care
are costing us tons of money and lives both. Sometimes being thrifty is smart. Sometimes it's self-destructive. Sometimes it's not so much thrift as choosing who to help. Republicans don't so much like helping poor people. If anything is a testimony to the need to improve our educational system it's the fact that Repubicans (whose fingerprints and money are all over these tea parties) can get people to protest tax hikes in a year when their taxes have gone down... using the theme of taxation without representation when that too is patently absurd since if they voted they are being represented... and even if they didn't vote they are being represented by the person they chose by non-action.

When I lived in New York I was blessed to live in a complex called Stuyvesant Town. They ran the complex wisely. They took care of problems as soon as they arose. They didn't wait for the little leak to turn into a
ceiling collapse. They fixed it while it was a little leak. It cost them money to keep a staff around to do this, but in the long run it saved them major expenses and it made Stuyvesant Town a nice place to live in. A country where bridges don't collapse, where roads are maintained, where schools aren't toxic and students have books and computers is a better country to live in, even if it costs a little more in the short term to catch up from all the neglect we have experienced in past years. This neglect lies at the feet of Republicans and Democrats alike, but it's time to turn it around. Doing so will bring us into the 21st century in terms of our power grid, which will make life better for all of us. It will be a step toward educating more children to be qualified for better jobs and so that they can live better, happier lives. Taking care of health care will save lives, keep people working, prevent catastrophic illnesses, and make us a better democracy in the long run.

This isn't pie in the sky. It isn't talk. It's keen attention not to misty realms of "tomorrow" but to true care and attention to sublunary issues.

I've long said - before I became truly poor myself - that something people with money don't understand is that poverty is expensive. Of necessity,, the poor often have to buy cheap because it's all they CAN do, when buying better quality goods would last them longer and ultimately cost them less. Cheap clothes, cheap furniture, cheap toys, cheap washing machines don't
last as long and don't work as well. This is kind of off topic.... but what made me think of it is that we as a nation have too often gone for cheap rather than good. Whether it pans out in the end only time will tell. Hopefully, we can keep the forces of the status quo from hackin the vision and substance out of it, from spewing specious nonsence about burdening future generations for "frivolous" causes (like health care and education and modernizing our world).

I guess that's enough of a rant for today. I got the three words in.

It's beautiful here today. The sun is out and the te
mperatures are truly Spring-like. Yippee!!!!

This is Princess.... Shannon's new Webkins critter.
She is the pet of the month which is a big deal at Webkins.
Like Angel, looks like she is longing to go out and play.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

Well, always dangerous, but I've been thinking. Watching too much CNN is part of the problem... reading too much Huffington Post.... In one of those strange moods I get into sometimes. Overtired and not sleeping well. So anyway... today's post... at least there IS one... is going to be dedicated to random thoughts about random things... probably.

Taxes: I really don't get the whole American thing about taxes. I've ranted about this before but here's a mini on tax day. As a society we aren't over taxed. This tea party thing that's going on just seems so stupid to me. First off.... the whole federal tax cutting thing is sleight of hand to a large degree. The cut taxes go with cut programs at the national level. And they trickle down to your state and local government, because somebody has to pay for road repair and schools. Thing is, what's been happening while we give huge tax cuts to rich people is that there's only so much taxes you can get from an increasingly poor underclass, so the roads and bridges and schools have all just been neglected. Do that, and there are more accidents, and worse yet - you the future generation who you think is going to watch over you and the society when your in your dotage.... they'll be ignorant and incapable of keeping the society going and incapable of bringing in the big bucks to care for dear old Mom and Dad.... And in some countries, the higher taxes that they pay provide working families with things like easily accessible free, high quality day care... and oh, yes.... medical coverage. And then there's all the lying that lies behind some of the current hysteria. Taxes are going up for a teeny tiny fraction of Americans and by and large, they aren't the ones who are complaining. Taxes for most of us are being lowered this year. This government isn't going to spend billions sending letters and checks. They're just slipping it quietly and inexpensively into your paycheck.

Obama's Budget: Then there's the whole thing about the bloated spending which will be carried by our children. Boy Republicans (sorry, my bias is showing here... there are Democrats using that too but not as much as Republicans). One of the things that sets President Obama apart from his predecessors is that he has a vision for the future. You spend some of this money now because it as the programs mature they pay for themseles... like new thermal windows and a good heating system cost initially but save in the long term. Or like friends of mine who spent an extra $300 for a washing machine but will save in the long term because it's incredibly energy efficient and doesn't use as much water. It's projected to save them a minimum of $50/month. It will pay for itself completely in less than 2 years. Universal health care, modernizing our power grid, all of these things will ultimately pay for themselves. They will take huge burdens OFF the shoulders of our children and our children's children. Or that's what I think. I could go on and on about this, but these are random thoughts.

Pakistan and the Taliban: I've got to stop watching CNN. I think I kind of understand the logic behind the Pakistani government's decision to give the Taliban rule over one small region. They were losing the battle, giving what strength they had into the battle. Maybe it's wiser to lick their wounds and grow strong enough elsewhere and to fight in wiser, subtler ways. Still it's obscene to see schools closed, to see people being held on the ground and beaten.... What really bugged me yesterday, was that these Taliban bullies cover their faces while they are committing their atrocities. I have to wonder why, if you believe in the truth and righteousness of what you are doing, you're not willing to show your face while you do it. Is it because it makes you more scary when you are faceless? Or is it because you know if people knew who you were, you might not last so long? In either case, it seems like the supreme cowardice to me.

IQs: I never think about IQs. I think IQ tests are kind of silly, but for some reason the topic came up in two conversations in two days which always seems like a sign to me that I'm "supposed" to talk about it. I don't know my own IQ. My brother is a genius... his IQ is 161. He was virtually worshipped in my family. In the Bronx, where we lived until I was 5, he was skipped ahead a grade. When we moved to Long Island (the legend goes), because we were from "the city," he was put into slow classes and didn't do very well. Then they discovered that he was a genius and they put him in different classes and he became a great student again. My parents allegedly chose not to find out what my IQ was because my brother's journey through genius had not served him well. One thing that never occurred to me until yesterday (isn't that odd?) is that I think my sister's IQ was 158 but nobody ever made a big deal about that. Maybe I'm wrong and it was only 148 or 138.... but for some reason it's fixed in my head that it was 158. I always thought that probably I fell off the wrong end of the genius tree and that was the real reason my parents never told me what mine is... "No reason to tell her she's retarded..." Over time, I came to recognize that despite the fact that my brother's brain was amazing... He could quote the encyclopedia. He could slice and dice anyone in an argument.... he didn't have much common sense. I think genius, like beauty, is a fluid thing. I think you can have perfect features and an ugly spirit and not be beautiful. And I think you can have an IQ of 170 and not be smart. Or maybe the analogy works better the other way. You can have odd features and a good, generous heart and be beautiful. And you can have an IQ of 100 and use it creatively. Which is beauty? Which is genius? I know what I think.

Last one...

Free Speech: I keep seeing clips on the Daily Show and Huffington Post of this crazy - I mean I think he's literally crazy - person, Glenn Beck. I'm all for freedom of speech, but I wonder if our media - who uses public air ways - should not be held to some kind of standards for truth and sanity. The stuff I hear about from Fox news is scary in it's lack of integrity. But even CNN spews a lot of nonsensical dribble, off-the-cuff "reactions," and sensational crap. How else are you going to fill up 24 hours? There's so much pot stirring and so many entertaining goony birds in the pot... and many Americans don't seem to know (lack of education, maybe?) that just because somebody said it on TV doesn't make it true.

Elected (and unelected) Lunatics: I know I said the Free Speech was the last one, but when I was looking for the name of the crazy guy I ran across these... How do these people get elected? And what about that guy in Minnesota who has lost to Al Franken and everybody knows it and he's still going to thwart the electoral process and appeal again and again so Franken can't take his rightfully won seat?

Senator from NC encourages Run on Banks

Glenn Beck This is a Media Matters compilation of some of his nuttiest stuff.

Michelle Bachmann

Rod Blagojevich .... Alas, there are demented Dems too...

And I think I'll stop here. I'm just rambling mindlessly anyway. This has taken a while to finish because Angel has been very huggy this morning and I've had to stop repeatedly for snuggling. Not going to read this because I'll have to scrap it so I'm just going to post it and pray there are one or two coherent thoughts buried in all the garbled rambling.

One last, last thing: Assumptions and Dreams. I wanted to add a video here, but embedding has been disabled, so I'll just add the link. Britain's Idol show has found a new star in a 47 year old social worker names Susan Boyle. We make so many assumptions about people based on age and looks... And so many of us give up on our dreams. This woman is a teacher on many levels... and singing a song I especially love besides. Keep dreaming!

I hope you all have a lovely day.... even with taxes.