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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


moonbat150


Home of the Barking Moonbat


 

Saturday, February 19, 2005

ztiworoH divaD, Blazing Numbskull

Bitch, Ph.D reports that the idiot ztiworoH divaD claims university professors work 6-9 hours a week, 8 months a year.

Well, we all know ztiworoH is a blazing idiot, but this is laughable.

You know, I quit my Ph.D. for a lot of reasons, but one was I was wrecking my health because I made the stupid decision that i could have a life and still get a Ph.D. Among other things.

NOT! The Ph.D. work alone was taking up some 15-20 hours a day, then those idiots dropped me into teaching courses I'd never even freaking taken in my life or studied for that matter --- let me tell you, try that out for a few months and you'll be ready for the sanitorium.

And so now, here I am, a non-Ph.D but not an ABD because I just bought this place and bailed out on the whole freaking deal ...

And I'm working as an adjunct in a university which is a non-career track job if ever there was ...

And were I to add my hours up, it would come to a minimum of 50 during my lazy weeks (meaning weeks that I purposely schedule no grading for me so I can get some sleep [this weekend is an example of a non-grading weekend for me]).

Weeks that I grade in addition to teaching and in addition to planning lessons, however? I'd estimate 65-70 hours minimum. More like over 80.

The guys a freaking nutjob. But it's predictable --- he's one of the ones trying to shut down NEA and academia, so of course, he'd claim that.

I dare him to try it. He wouldn't last two weeks.

hafooL sdeeS

Once again, spelt backward, this time to keep me from appearing on the searches of the many "Left Behind"ers who desperately love growing this vine.

Ah-loof :=D is the lovely sponge used for baths and showers and even for washing the dishes. It's also a gorgeous vine which loves hot weather and full sun, a plus for this area where temps over 100 are common and can last for weeks on end. It's not uncommon for the vines to grow over 90'.

Its yellow flowers are also prime hummingbird and honeybee fare.

In any case, I'm taking the last of the hafool <--- reversed I grew last year and knocking the seeds out of it. I've already handed out some of the seeds to people around here, all of whom were delighted by the vines I got going last year.

And now that I'm knocking the seeds out of these last three sdruog <--- backward again!, looks like I'm going to have plenty for a few other people.

If by chance you want some, leave a note in the comments. They can be hard to find seeds - I got these last year from some friends who used to run a certified organic farm over in Arkansas, so they're good ones.

The Tulsa Race Riot and the Culture of Oil

Via Brad DeLong, a post in the Financial Times about the Tulsa race riot of 1921: Burnt Offerings:

Otis Granville Clark is a wonder. At 102, the former butler of Joan Crawford - who served Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin - still drives, lives on his own and twice a week attends church in his home city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has been a church-goer for decades, ever since he heard the call and, surprising Crawford and himself, became an evangelist preacher. Today his blue eyes have gone milky but they still sparkle, his wiry frame remains agile, and his most painful memories are still fresh - even after 83 years.

Coiled on the edge of an understuffed sofa, Clark leans back and screws his eyes tight to summon up "that day". It remains the most vivid of his life. "That was the day I saw blood," he says. He was a young black man of 18, scarcely aware of the world beyond his neighbourhood on that warm spring morning in 1921 when "the shooting and all" began.

Most days, he would have been working with the bootleggers making corn whiskey down by the Arkansas River. But that morning he had gone to a relative's funeral home, a block from the heart of the violence. He had tried to help a friend save the business's prized new acquisition, an ambulance, when "these white snipers in a mill tower started shooting from across the way. They shot wherever they could see black folks, swatting them like flies." His friend had the keys in his hand when a bullet pierced it. The blood stained Clark's shirt. "And that was before the worst of it started."

Historians call the firestorm that convulsed Tulsa from the evening of May 31 into the afternoon of June 1 the single worst event in the history of American race relations. To most Tulsans it is simply "the riot". But the carnage had nothing in common with the mass protests of Chicago, Detroit and Newark in the 1960s or the urban violence that laid siege to Los Angeles in 1992 after the white police officers who assaulted Rodney King were acquitted. The 1921 Tulsa race riot owes its name to an older American tradition, to the days when white mobs, with the consent of local authorities, dared to rid themselves of their black neighbours. The endeavour was an opportunity "to run the Negro out of Tulsa".


I never knew about the race riot until after I'd left Tulsa. One reason, I suspect, is that my family wasn't from Tulsa --- my dad grew up at various points all up and down the Ozarks, while my mom grew up on a farm in Missouri outside Kansas City before she and her mother moved into the city.

The result is that we were always (and remain) outsiders. My mother had an especially difficult time --- Tulsa was extremely cliquish, and my mother simply didn't fit in. Yet another possible reason why emerged when I was in my twenties. I'd remembered my mom telling me that, when she and my dad first married, she was unable to find them a place to live in Kansas City and someone finally told her that they don't rent to Jews.

But my mother wasn't Jewish.

In any case, one evening, I went to dinner with some fairly well-known Tulsans at a well-known restaurant. They'd begun accepting me into their fold, and so were relaxed enough to suddenly start in on "Jews." I was stunned --- I'd honestly never heard anyone talking that way before --- and it stuck with me. This same group eventually became fairly persistent in labelling me Jew.

It's important to remember that Tulsa was, at one time, Oil Capital of the World. It took me a long time to understand what was going on, but I'm now quite certain these expressions of anti-Semitism weren't simply a predictable consequence of the city's southern temperament or the cloaking of Civil War era ideologies into tidy little packages. Instead, they were the expressions of the culture of oil, the same culture that's now running this country.

The people I went to dinner with that evening were all, in one way or the other, connected to the oil business --- the children and grandchildren of oilmen or married to the heirs of small oil companies or wildcatters or whatever. They persist in the belief in their superiority, and continue cataloguing people in the strangest and most bizarre ways. Fortunately, they're no longer the only force in the city, although the heirs of the original culprits in the riots still run the local newspaper and otherwise maintain some stranglehold on power in the city.

I'm from Tulsa and I have a lot of friends there, but these people are one reason I don't live there now and will never live there again.

The article goes on: [...] Greenwood, as Clark and other survivors remember it, was a city within a city. [Greenwood and Archer is the site of the riot] "We had it all," he says, "Shops, schools, movie theatres, doctors, lawyers, newspapers - you name it."

Sixteen years earlier a vast petroleum field had been discovered nearby, and by 1921 Tulsa had become known as "the oil capital of the world". The town was awash in oil dollars, and the ascendant class of oilmen and their families needed more than domestics - they needed a service sector. Greenwood bloomed. Less than 60 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, as many as 10,000 blacks enjoyed the quiet and prosperity on the western edge of the Ozark Mountains. But Greenwood posed a challenge. "The old order would not stand much longer," wrote legal scholar Alfred Brophy in Reconstructing the Dreamland, the most recent of more than half a dozen books on the riot. "It was a culture that would not easily abide unequal treatment."

To white Tulsa, the area north of the Frisco tracks was a place where too much oil money had spilled over, sharecropper children had forgotten their stations and, most dangerously, the colour line had broken down. Among whites, Greenwood carried other names. To the grand jury it was "Coloured Town". To those who fuelled the fire, making photographs of the dead that became souvenir postcards, it was "Little Africa". And many Tulsans preferred another name, one that even appeared in the press: "Niggertown".

Today, of course, much has changed. On top of Reservoir Hill, one of Tulsa's highest points, where the Ku Klux Klan once held cross- burnings, blacks and whites now live side by side. Since the 1980s, when oil production went offshore and Houston boomed, Tulsa's downtown has resembled an urban desert. Once-proud castles of the early petroleum kings now stand vacant, covered in "For Rent" billboards.

[...]

There it is," says Otis Clark, pointing to the ground beneath his leather shoes. A block and a half away stands the one stretch of Greenwood that remains, a one-block oasis of redbrick storefronts amid the concrete flats. The shops and cafes, defiant landmarks to a lost past, went up in 1922, right after the violence. The city fought the rebuilding - a fire hazard, it was said - and no blacks won any insurance claims.

[...]

Many in Tulsa still believe the rumours of "phantom graves", that bodies lie at the bottom of the Arkansas River or in a pit on the outskirts of town. The riot commission hired Clyde Snow, a forensic anthropologist who has sifted through graves in Argentina, Guatemala, Bosnia and Iraq. A white witness had come forward, who remembered as a 10-year-old boy seeing white men digging a trench in the Oaklawn cemetery. Crates holding burned bodies had stood beside them. A crew used ground-penetrating radar to search deep in the silt, sand and clay. The geophysics revealed a "five metre square anomaly" within the area identified by the witness. The state archaeologist was sceptical, but made a final recommendation that the state "clarify the nature of this anomaly". To this day, no one has done any digging. "The powers that be kept putting it off and putting it off," says Snow.


Note: Brad DeLong actually picked this up via Crooked Timber.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Sleepwalking and ghosts from the past

I desperately need some sleep and just a little time to stare at the ceiling.

I am so very jealous of those people who can just keep on keeping on. Me, I'm too big a geek, I suspect --- true, when push comes to shove, I can certainly muster the most mighty indignance and blast through just about anything.

But I'm downright tired right now, and it's not even midway through the semester. And this semester's batch of students is just plain wearing me out.

I yelled at them today. I'm so grumpy and tired, it was fun to yell at them. I usually don't resort to such tactics, but today, I just hauled off and let 'em have it. Not all of them --- just the lazy jive-asses snickering in the back row.

You want to act like 14 year olds? Go for it, no skin off my back. But don't come crying when you flunk the class.

You want to see how little you can get away with doing? Fine! Saves me from a little grading!

But don't come crying to me when you get a big fat F.

You thinking oooooh, what fun, I'm just sliding in under the radar and she won't even notice I didn't do such and such!

Actually, yes I do notice. But you know --- I'm not your mother. It's your problem you didn't do it, not mine.

And that big F you're earning is all yours, too.

Whatever. While driving there this morning, I was listening to a station in Northwest Arkansas (the one that's different from the one that calls itself The Voice of Arklahoma!) and the announcer came on and said "The Cate Brothers Live!:"

I about fell out of the driver's seat. I haven't heard of them since I don't know when. I got to meet them once long ago - actually, the long suffering wife of one of them - back in 1985, I think, and I never seen such a bunch of drunks in my life. The wife I met, that poor woman! I think I'm all wore out, that husband of hers had driven her right to the edge of hell and back again a few times!

Never occurred to me a one of them could possibly still be alive, considering how drunk they were back then. But they are, and it's tempting to sneak over to Arkansas to see them this weekend. I could stay with The Bubba side of my family over in Siloam Springs. They're just about the nicest people on earth, but they are true blue BUBBAS!

But i probably won't go. Instead, I really do have to get the chicken coop ready because the people with my chickens want me to come get the chickens next Tuesday.

For now, however, I'm going to sleep til sometime tomorrow.

Okay, I'll be reading all the blogs (including yours, whoever you are) and ruminating on it and washing the dishes and watching "orgaliM dleifnaeB raW" <---- written backward to protect me from Googling students, as I'm making one of my classes watch it next week (although not the one that got the tongue lashing today).

I'll see you all tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tyson wins Round One

There's a lot going on, I know, but I'm buried in meetings and grading and spring and reading about GM and the fluid genome and all kinds of things.

I couldn't let the following pass without comment, however. It isn't as dramatic as Gonzales or Gannon in his undies sneaking into the WH. But it affects all of us just the same.

An email from Robert Waldrop, the founder and president of Oklahoma Foods, a direct from producer to customer coop. Ok Foods creates a bridge between customers and the many ranchers and farmers in this area who follow organic and humane practices in their work.

Three inspectors from the Food Safety Division of the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry showed up with copies of a new state law governing direct sales of poultry from farmers to the public. They claimed the law was passed by the last session of the legislature, and looking at the text, it seems to me that it was specifically crafted to keep our producer members from selling poultry direct to our customer members.

Jackasses. Yet another way to shut down small producers and family farms.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And speaking of pills ... Wednesday Evening Rant

Am I the only person in America who isn't on five-ten different medications?

If you read the comments for Gilliard's birth control pill post, all the women are carrying on that they have to take all these pills for everything but birth control.

And it's not just that --- there are people everywhere taking all kinds of pills for - for what? And if they're not taking pills, they're getting operations they don't need. I know someone who just had something in his mouth removed because he has sleep apnea. Well, I'm sorry, that's ridiculous. The real problem is he's pretty danged overweight and he needs to quit smoking. But instead of losing weight and stopping the smokes, he gets an operation.

?

Wednesday Afternoon Snarky Fluff Piece Blogging

Okay, well, it struck me last night after I downloaded yet another Mah Jong game that I might grow up to be one of those ladies who spends all day playing cards and gossiping and eating canapes --- you know, those women with the big red lips and bad wigs and even worse glasses.

Well, whatever, that's beside the point of today's snarky fluff piece, which is written in reaction to this snarky fluff piece over on Kos which was written in reaction to a couple of posts by Steve Gilliard written in reaction to an inane and beyond fluff piece column by Maureen Dowd, both of which resulted in an even snarkier fluff piece by James Wolcott.

The snarky fluff on Kos, unfortunately, is just kind of lame.

But first, Gilliard.

One of the things I like about Gilliard's blog is his peculiar (and entertaining) predilection for advice to the lovelorn. In particular, he lifts letters written to the Salon advice guy and gives his own advice.

Case in point: an older woman with a teenage son, her relationship with the teenage son is rocky ... and she's just in L-U-V with her son's best friend and what should she do about it.

Say what?

Now I'm sorry, people, but that's sick. That's as close to incest as you can get without actually committing incest.

In any case, Gilliard sliced and diced and was on target, while the guy at Salon hemmed and hawed and waxed poetic and ended up saying nothing at all.

Today, Gilliard asks whether taking a birth control pill in front of a guy --- let's say, on a date --- is a come on.

Well, yes, depending on circumstances, it is. Say you're on a date, you're sitting in a nice little restaurant --- you don't go dragging out the birth control pills in front of someone you hardly know, at least not in this part of the country. Maybe back east it's the thing to do, but around here? It's a come on. As Gilliard put it, sluttitude. I agree.

By the same token, a guy who takes it as a come on is a righteous raving idiot.

Which means the two deserve each other and we should all be glad they've selected each other out of our potential gene pool.

The women at Gilliard's blog are in a righteous tizzy over this. Why? Down in these parts, you don't share your business with the world, be it money, marital, whatever. You just don't do it.

In any case, this seems to be something Gilliard likes doing and, as of yet, I haven't had a problem with it. And I found his piece on Maureen Dowd not simply entertaining, but really right on target --- he has some potential as the new Dear Abby, really he does.

Now Wolcott --- not sure I'd ever take Wolcott's advice on anything, but he's very fun to read, really one of the best writers around, and he's absolutely right that Dowd is occupying prime real estate and wasting it on blithering nonsense. Yes indeed she is.

I mean, I'm sorry people, but it boils down to this --- there is such a thing as a desperate woman, and Dowd does look that way to me. And there is irresponsible use of column space --- especially New York Times column space. It's not like it's blogspot.com. I mean, really!

Which brings me to the snarky fluff reaction on Kos:

Those darned women. They just won't listen to us when we tell them how they should be living their lives.

[...]

Gee, we're not 25 any more. Thanks for pointing that out! Here's a question: how many of those "serious women" you were dating, the ones that you could take home to mom, were in their 30s? Not that all men want perky firm young breasts and women in their 20s who can more reliably bear children, but if we're going to resort to stereotyping, let's just work that one in, too. And add in the fact that we might just be looking for a 25 year-old as well. There's a lot to be said for the, um, stamina, of youth.


Nyaaarrrrrgh!

Okay, maybe there's something wrong with me. Maybe I am completely misreading Gilliard.

But I don't think I am.

And here's one reason his column on Dowd resonated (! academic buzzword!) with me.

A student of mine from a year or so ago is a horribly misguided young girl. She's a beautiful, lovely girl, smart when she can rein it in, funny --- and absolutely dumb as a rock when it comes to men.

I have sat in counsel with her surrounded by nice, stable married women who also try to give her counsel.

It never sinks in. She's bought the myth that all men want is a girl with a boob job. She advertises herself endlessly, rather than devoting that good energy to getting herself together --- and she doesn't understand that men are simply people, albeit somewhat different kind of people from women.

In 30 years, she will be Maureen Dowd, without the good hig paying job, but just as desperate and still frantically advertising herself.

It's not dissing all women to say that. Just as there's such a thing as a totally pathetic drooling desperate man, there's such a thing as a desperate woman. There simply is.

And demanding that Gilliard and Wolcott deny that simply because it goes against the grain of the latest sociological theoretical gender slash women's studies dictum is to demand that they not be human and that they must deny their own perceptions of reality simply to satisfy the gender slash women's studies crowd.

And it's simply wrong for us as women to demand that men deny their own perceptions simply because we don't like to believe there's such a thing as a desperate woman.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Radicals Try to Counteract Gannon ...

... but they're failing rather miserably at it.

Left-Wing Activist Poses as Reporter At White House Press Briefings

WASHINGTON --The media watch-group Accuracy in Media ...

note from Cookie: Accuracy?? BWAHAHAHA!

... charged today that a liberal activist and associate of Ralph Nader has been obtaining access to White House press briefings while claiming to be a legitimate news reporter.
reporter.

Russell Mokhiber, who sells a $795 a year newsletter that bashes corporations, attends the briefings to make obscure anti-Bush political points. Recently, for example, he asked spokesman Scott McClellan whether President Bush violated one of the Ten Commandments by invading Iraq.


Aaaaaaw. I'm so sorry. The ethically challenged "values" president being asked questions based on his purported values.

Other Mokhiber topics have included industrial hemp, Israel's 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, possible war crimes charges against Bush, and Halliburton.

AIM editor Cliff Kincaid said Mokhiber's attendance at the briefings makes it clear that the controversy over Jeff Gannon attending the same briefings was manufactured by left-wing bloggers and liberals in the media because they don't want conservatives in the White House press corps.


Ri-i-i-ght. So, the fact that Gannon is somehow implicated in Leak-Gate and was credentialed by the White House Press Staff, although he has no journalistic experience (despite extensive experience as a rather poorly paid male prostitute, has nothing to do with it?

Wonder what Men's News Daily had to say about similar matters?

Monica Lewinsky Says Personal Life Of Presidential Candidates Off Limits By Jimmy Moore Talon News

Oh my. Talon News???

Revealing All on Clinton's Infidelity

[...]

Senators should be barred from writing and publishing soft porn while in office - especially bad soft porn. After all, if she gets away with it everybody's going to want to do it.


What about living hardcore porn?

It's Never “Just About Sex”

[...]

Unfortunately, the New Jersey Democrat machine is not concerned with cleaning up this mess, but is instead immersed in the business of maintaining its stranglehold on that state’s political power apparatus. With the complicity of a sympathetic media, the real issues at stake aren’t even being addressed.


Why does that sound so familiar? Oh that's right! They're describing themselves!

Do Democrats Mind the Law?

A tiny little situation in Indiana right now brings up an unresolved question.  Do democrats mind the law?  Depends on what the definition of ‘mind’ is.

[...]

At least, Republicans think that they should.  Apparently Democrats do not.  These Democrats may have been unduly influenced by their party’s past.

[...]

Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky, smirking that truth depends on what is is.  In eight years of scandal, self-aggrandizement and deceit, the Clintons rarely minded the law ...


I'm so sorry, rightwing whackjobs, that you're being exposed for the liars and thieves and sleazes and completely amoral sociopaths that you've been all along.

Well, actually, no I'm not.

< /snark >

Way to Go, Boren!

Dan Boren's the rep for our area and a Democrat, but I've been sitting back waiting to see just how good a representative --- and Democrat --- he is.

He's just passed his first test.

U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, said he is opposed to the idea, last weekend in Tulsa.

“It is important that we move towards fiscal accountability, but cannot attempt to balance the budget on the backs of our veterans,” Boren said by release.

“I will oppose any (emphasis his) budget measure that raises health care costs for veterans.”

[...]

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., commended Bush’s attempts to limit spending, saying the costs of deficit spending will be borne by future generations. “I’m disappointed in the budget. I think the budget could have been cut a whole lot more,” Coburn said. “As we cut the deficit more, we’ll stabilize the dollar.”


note from Cookie: I think Coburn's been keeping a little too close an eye out for lesbians and boob jobs --- his poor little old brain's gotten all dried up from the heat and blown away on him.

Boren called the enrollment fee “a tax on veterans” that could force many in eastern Oklahoma off the rolls.

“A line must be drawn here. We must protect our veterans from higher health care fees and co-pays,” Boren said.

[...]

The cuts Bush proposed would hit rural areas the hardest.

“That’s crippling,” Boren said.

Boren defended the Social Security system where others propose personal investment accounts.

Boren said phone calls to his Congressional office from eastern Oklahoma constituents have been “10 to one against privatization.”

More Spring is Here

The frogs are singing. Today, I was down by the river and it sounded just like summer.

Iraqi elections: outcome according to plan?

At the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I found a document online of a plan presented by Perle and Wolfowitz to Israel in 1996. Among the details were plans to invade Iraq and otherwise intentionally destabilize the entire Middle East, supposedly to enable Israel to become the major power in the region.

Hopefully, memory has served me on those details --- and I do recall "strategic" and "institute" in the name of the organization "hosting" this document. However, I simply can't find the exact document online anymore, although I'm sure it's up there somewhere.

In any case, the significance of this document (if I could ever find it) is that it provides some background to this, an article lifted from Tom Paine via Progressive Blog Digest.

Post, poor Robin Wright gets it totally wrong. She argues—in an article headlined: “Iraq Winners Allied with Iran Are the Opposite of U.S. Vision”—that it went all wrong [...] Maybe that’s true, if by “U.S. plans” she means the plans of the realists, the CIA and the State Department. But the neocons are ecstatic: not only does the new Iraq threaten Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, but it will be people by Kurds (many of whom have secret ties to Israel’s Mossad), Ahmed Chalabi (an Israeli-connected Shiite), and other doubtful Iraq’s of Iranian provenance.

Bingo.

CNN's following Marching Orders from the Bushinistas?

Unbelievable!

Via Due Dligence (AKA MyDD ;-D ), Brad Blog discovers that CNN is using the same photograph for nuclear plants in North Korea and Iran.

Notice the deafening silence from the freepers on this matter.

Spring is definitely here

The neighbor's horses are sacked out beneath my giant tulip tree. They only do that in spring and summer.

I'd post a pic of them, but I need to get all the footage off my digital cam and onto CD. It's yet another chore I've been putting off.

Whatever the case, this is a surefire sign that spring is here, at least in these parts.

Keeping the Peace

I'm dealing with some wingnuttery, so bear with me on the blog, as I know some things are down. Soon enough, the wingnuts will be on their way and my side of the blogosphere will be peaceful again.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Why would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good potato with partially hydrogenated oils?



It's Valentine's Day, I know, and the analogy is trite and overused and the bunch of you are sick to death of it, but I don't care.

Because this New York Times article leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. I mean, come on now, people, why would anyone eat this horrid, disgusting, artery clogging, toxic crap, especially when it takes absolutely no effort to just take a nice fresh potato, cook it either baked or (my current fave) sliced thin and fried sans oil in my George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machine with a little basil or some rosemary or maybe even some oregano, if I'm feeling sassy --- especially good if you have some nice Vidalia onions sliced thin and grilled up with the potato.

Then a dollop of real butter or olive oil, if you're so inclined, and it's fabulous and so much better than that deadly killing drek from McDonald's.

Try it with sweet potatoes, too. Oh. My. GOD! Seriously yummy, there's nothing better than homemade sweet potato chips.

Well, okay, there is. But that's beside the point.

The point is, if you're still eating all that CRAP with partially hydrogenated oils, stop it! Stop it now! Go read the article and just STOP IT! Look, I'm the most spaced out person on the planet - I don't even know what day it is half the time and I'd be perfectly content to lay on the sofa staring at the ceiling for days on end meandering around somewhere off in Dreamland --- and trust me, if I can get it together to cook real food for all my meals, so can you because I'm certain there's no way you're even half the space case I am.

Just stop it. Don't eat that crap!

It's almost 80 degrees out ...

... and I see no sign of horrible weather in the forecast. There'll be a freeze Thursday night but a quick rebound to 50 the next day.

Time to open my giant can of seeds, get the plant room ready and get to starting seeds.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Speaking of Substance: The New Minnie Pearl

I don't quite understand the zeal with which some women (and men, for that matter) clothe themselves in desperation, especially when that woman is Maureen Dowd. I mean, can you imagine? She gets to write --- okay, in my case, it would be has to write --- op-eds for the New York Times. She lives in a huge and exciting city, and likely has plenty left over from her paycheck to enjoy that city in every way imaginable. She's cute enough and a redhead, and she gets paid to be snarky. Who doesn't she know and who hasn't she met?

Sure, it's not for me --- I get much more excited about seeing a groundhog in the shed than I would, say, Santorum. Jesus, can you imagine having to actually talk to that whackjob, much less look at him?

Still. The world handed to you on a platter and it's just not enough. The hunger of not enough, never enough.

And not particularly enlightening commentary on the subject, either.

Desperation should be reserved for mothers with hungry children. Husbands with dying wives. Citizens of countries being taken over by fascists and warmongers. Elderly women with banks and developers shoving them out of their homes. Wounded and broken veterans left to die in the rain under bridges and stairwells.

I never would have even read this column, were it not for this post at Steve Gilliard's blog. Sure, I suppose it could be argued it's merely a lighthearted piece in celebration of Valentine's Day.

But it's a waste of precious time and space, as both Gilliard and James Wolcott point out.

It's an Op Ed in The New York Times, for crying out loud, not the Oprah show.

Jeeez. And meanwhile, Rome continues burning ....

While Rome burns ...

I've seen a lot of "discussion" the past few weeks about PETA, radical feminism (Wellesleyan or Smith College style) and similar --- Naderites, whatever. On the bigger boards, the typical "discussion" breaks down rather quickly into a slugfest which usually takes the form of one side ranting about their singular rights and the other ranting over the distractions from the bigger picture. No middle ground is ever reached.

In the sciences, this is commonly referred to lumpers vs. splitters. In a very general way, it refers to the tendency of some people to toss a lot of things into single, large family groups, while others carefully and minutely categorize according to very specific details.

I'm a splitter about most things. It's one reason it took me over two years to get septic. Before I could make my decision, I had to read everything about septic systems, about the requirements of our Department of Environmental Quality, about the consequences of various systems for the Illinois River (which I live relatively close to) --- about composting systems versus septic, percolation, leach fields, humanure, the impact of backhoes and frontloaders on amphibians, grey water, whatever.

And now that I have septic, I've shifted my focus to rainwater catchment systems and cisterns.

Being a splitter has its advantages. I'm never bored because I'm always debating this vs. that vs. the other, and there's never enough time to gather all the information because there's always more information to be had.

But it has very big disadvantages. In particular, the work of splitters is never done, no conclusions are ever reached and I can testify that it can easily paralyze any movement forward.

More importantly, the intense focus on detail means losing sight of the big picture.

Which is one of the problems we self-defined liberals and leftists are having.

There have been a number of posts over at Seeing the Forest and elsewhere about this very issue, like this one and this. There has also been discussion about this at Due Diligence (AKA MyDD) and many other blogs.

In the most general of terms, the argument is that the radical Bushinistas are operating as a whole --- they've created a massive, functioning infrastructure and comprehensive general "messages" which may lack specificity, but imply specificity, thereby effectively encompassing innumerable splinter groups and factions, as well as Everyman, beneath a single umbrella.

Yes.

Take PETA. Now, I'm no fan of PETA. They go way too far for me. I also resent being categorized with them simply because I am quite liberal and, in general, hold leftist views. They are, as far as I'm concerned, more similar to religious Fundamentalists and the nutjobs occupying the White House.

However, they have a right to their views and, in general, it's true that their views are much closer to the liberal end of the spectrum.

HOWEVER ... I very much resent being wholesale tossed in with them, just because I believe in the humane treatment of animals and just because I believe animals have intelligence.

The Bushinistas have effectively develop a descriptive language for PETA which tosses people like me into their category. One such term, "animal rights", has become a smear which, in a sense, could describe my views (I am very opposed to factory farming and cruelty to animals) but these days, thanks to the Bushinistas, tosses me right in the boat with PETA, where I do not belong. I may oppose factory farming and animal cruelty, but I certainly enjoy a good steak. Furthermore, I grew up in a hunting household, am now surrounded by hunters and I firmly believe that hunting can be infinitely ethical, as well as an environmentally sound practice.

Which brings me to the rub. In the most simplistic of terms, there is a a growing outcry for Democrats to develop their own language, a more generalized language which effectively collapses a range of liberal issues under a single category and simple terms. Furthermore, there is more and more movement being made by small, but effective, advocates for the development of a liberal or Democraic infrastructure which funds and frames these larger issues.

However, there is a lot of resistance to these calls to action from various smaller groups and their advocates.

What they seem to be missing is that --- using PETA again as an example --- I may support PETA's right to be, but I strongly object to many of their beliefs and practices, and it is simply inaccurate to develop terminology and "mission statements" or whatever which forces me and ALL liberals/Democrats under their specialized umbrella.

More importantly, however, while various smaller "specialized" factions are demanding their share of the pie, Rome is burning.

Social Security is under attack. Successful programs for children and impoverished adults and communities are under attack. The media has been taken over by Bushinista clones with bad hairdos and cheek implants and too much botox. The standard of living for the majority of Americans is falling by the minute. We've already seen the first waves of impact from global warming, yet this administration and its supporters roundly rejects any kind of environmental protections.

Etc.

Etc.

Etc.

One of the many reasons I left academia and my supposed field of practice was because I was increasingly being forced to focus on detail (which I do anyway) while simultaneously being required to ignore profound poverty and human suffering and pain. I simply couldn't do it. And it seemed to me that it would have been the worst kind of narcissism for me to have continued ignoring Rome was burning, just so I could churn out yet another useless and unintelligible academic paper to further my career.

And it is my belief --- generalizing from my own experience --- that it is the same kind of worst kind of narcissism and self-indulgence for small splinter groups to demand their greater importance while all hell is breaking loose for everybody else.

PETA and similar have rights, yes. And their rights to believe what they believe and say what they say need to be protected.

They do not have the right, however, to demand we all kowtow to them while ignoring the profound danger we as a people are in.

It's time to stop splitting hairs over the details and time to start getting it together. We all have to give something up in the process. But it's for the better good.