Archive for February, 2010

Today I drove to campus to pick up a book I ordered through interlibrary loan.

On the library lawn a loudspeaker played upbeat music. I didn’t recognize the tunes, and the lyrics were in some language other than the two or three I recognize. But I could tell that the songs were joyous. Thirty or forty kids were dancing, waving their arms in sync, and singing along. Most had painted their faces with red and gold and black, through which happy grins gleamed. Some shirts and pants were splotched with paint as well. They were having a wonderful time.

In front of the union a rock group was playing, and they had drawn a crowd. There were people of many colors, and and most of them were dancing too, except for the babies in strollers and the elderly folks who sat in chairs borrowed from the bagel place.

You know, this is what universities are for. Classrooms and learning are important of course. But the opportunity to hang out with people from all over the world may be even more important. I don’t know of any place in America other than university campuses where people from so many diverse backgrounds can get together and talk and eat and dance on a fine Saturday afternoon.

I know it’s expensive to go to college, and I hate that. These days it’s easier and cheaper to get a degree online if you want or need one. But no matter what good stuff an online university may offer, you can’t dance to it with a hundred of your friends on a fine Saturday afternoon.


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I’ve been agonizing about a recent post here in which I may have said something sexist.  I opined that Michelle Obama was so smart and so sexy that Obama would never dare or want to cheat on her.  This was in the context of my contrast between liberal family values, such as those exhibited by the Obamas, and those of the string of Republican legislators who have been outed as fornicators and adulterers.

I was worrying about this when I had a revelation:   Republicans don’t like women.   Well, duh.  But let me explain.  Specifically, Rethugs don’t like women who are as smart as they are, or smarter.  I can’t imagine any prominent Republican married to Michelle Obama.   Not because she is African-American (although this would be a huge barrier for many Rethugs, who probably don’t meet many black women given the economic and political circles they prefer and from which black people are generally barred) but because she is smart and well-educated to boot.  And as is true of many long-term relationships, straight or gay, the Obamas seem to have a partnership.

Republican men, OTOH, can’t stand intellectual parity or competition with women, because basically they believe that women have two purposes on earth, neither of which involves the brain.   So they must tend to marry women who (a) are not as smart and well-educated as they are, or (b) who are so firmly in the grip of patriarchal power that they pretend to be slower to please men, or (c) who are in the grip of the Christian theology that teaches them to be submissive.

I leave aside  the fact that there are Republican males who are so deep in the closet that they act out while hiding under the veil of marriage;   Larry Craig and Ted Haggard are handy examples.

Several possibilities follow from this conclusion.   In a long-term relationship, which seems to be a prerequisite for political success in America, marriage between unequals in the brains department must begin to gritch on both parties.  We know well what men do when the women they married solely for their looks begin to get older.  If their female partner is truly submissive, she puts up with it.  But if she is faking it, she must become more and more unhappy and dissatisfied after the kids grow up and leave the house.  And she probably doesn’t know how to find meaningful work, or hubby won’t let her.   (Don’t get me started on how many women who return to college are dragged away by the incessant whining of husband and children that she’s “not there for them anymore”).

And that, my friends, is a recipe for infidelity and unhappiness.   My theory explains why divorce rates are much higher among conservatives, and why Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rates of all states.

Now I know, Bill Clinton is a glaring exception:  a Democrat who fornicates and adulterates.   But the Big Dog really is an exception not least because Hillary has not divorced him.  I expect she no longer cares about the extramarital sex, although she does put up good show of affection on the few occasions when they appear in public together.  She probably didn’t care all that much about the illicit sex in the White House either, except that because of his inability to keep it zipped, Bill imperiled the Dems’ chance to pass some important legislation and may have imperiled her chance to become Prex.

IOW, Clinton married a smart woman who doesn’t hide her abilities.   QED:   the Clintons are not an exception to Doc’s fifteenth rule of life.

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As a Retired American I figured it was my duty to watch the health care summit today.   So I stayed to the bitter end, all six and a half hours.   The conversation was civil, for the most part, and where it wasn’t I’m sure the mainstream media will tell you about it, Trep.  And that’s probably the only parts they will mention, because the rest was pure wonk.   Not something the MSM like very much.

But I liked the wonk, and I learned a few things too.  Like the fact that Medicare is set to go broke in ten years, thanks to the unfunded Medicare Advantage plan passed by the Republican/Bush Congress.  And the Repubs passed it through reconciliation, as they did the tax cuts for the rich and the war in Iraq.  And then some Repub–Boner?–had the gall to say that reconciliation had never been used for something as big as health care reform.  Even though his tan looked better than usual today–no orange tint–I doubt he persuaded many non-conservatives with this–what shall I call it–near-lie?

I also learned that while Republicans make a big deal out of tort reform, what they mean is they want to make it impossible for patients to sue doctors  for malpractice.   Dick Durbin helpfully pointed out that  malpractice insurance reform is very small potatoes, insofar as it would carve .05% of 1% out of the projected deficit in health care.  And he didn’t say this but I will:   their insistence on this issue demonstrates once again that Repubs are on the side of the insurance companies.

Tom Coburn sensibly pointed out that a big part of Medicare costs (30%) comes from fraud and from docs suggesting too many tests so they can get reimbursed for them.   First time I ever heard him make sense–usually he’s trying to arm every American with an Ouzi or imprison women who have an abortion.  Needles to say, the Dem pointed out that the bills on the table have already addressed the issue of fraud.

Then Coburn offered an actual suggestion–he wants to employ “stealth patients” (his phrase) to stalk doctors and catch those engaging in fraud.  Sort of like marshals on airplanes, I guess.   Now there’s a way to stimulate doctor-patient trust.  Gives you another window into the Repub mind.

There was much much more but my mind is sorta foggy right now.  I confess that I cleaned out files and shredded mountains of old checks and payment stubs while I watched the discussion.  I found that if I ran the shredder just hard enough I could blot out what was being said by people who weren’t adding a jot or tittle to the discussion.  John McCain headed that list, followed closely by John Kyl, more’s the pity.

Obama tried hard to keep the discussion on target, and to keep people from spouting talking points rather than addressing the subject at hand.  He  was only partly successful.  He has a habit of putting his left hand or at least a couple of fingers over his mouth while listening to Republicans speak.   This is a tell;  it says to me that he’s afraid that he will blurt out some appropriate but nevertheless impolitic response.

Hope you aren’t snowed in.  Or worse, out.

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On Procrastination

This year, I promised myself in January, this year I will do my taxes in January.

Well, here we are near the end of February and the records I dutifully gathered together early in January are still sitting in a neat pile on my desk, untouched since then by human hand.

I used to have the excuse that work got in the way of my getting things done at home.  I don’t have that excuse now.  So I have to face the fact that this task is very low on my list of things I will do without being threatened in some way  (cleaning the garage is another).

You’d think a person would be interested in knowing how much came in and how much went out last year, and what she spent her money on, especially when she lives on a fixed income.  You’d think.

I am consoled by Trep’s ruminations on the bookkeeping aspects of her work that are so tedious and dull that every January they dim even her usually cheery outlook.   And I try to imagine what it must be like to keep books for a whole lot of people.  And I try to feel ashamed of my own laggardliness.

But none of this has worked so far.

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Today I won my wrestling match with Windows 7 on my sparkly laptop.  Yay!  I was fooling around with it, making sure it wouldn’t crash, when lightning struck near the house with no warning whatever.  Out of the blue, so to speak.  The subsequent thunder rumble was loud enough to wake up White Guy.

I live out in the boonies, and the satellite dish and radio antenna on the roof  (the latter is for the wireless connection) seem to attract lightning strikes like flies on butter.   In the past I’ve had to call for help resetting or replacing both satellite and antenna after a particularly wild storm.  So whenever a storm is in the offing, I rush around the house turning off and unplugging.

But this one caught me by surprise.   So I quickly shut down the laptop and unplugged the teevee,  given that they are expensive pieces of equipment, and then rushed into my office to shut down my old Falcon (luckily the Mach V is disconnected while she waits for a new fan).   And lo and behold, Old Falcon stood cold and silent.

I predicted this, didn’t I?   Hanh?   Hanh?   I didn’t know that Old Falcon was in so tight with the goddess, though.

So I did what you always recommend, Trep.   Tried every connection in a new place until I isolated the problem.   I worried that her power supply had been damaged, or that the wall outlet had been fried–both expensive repairs.  Turns out, though, that the surge wiped out the surge protector.  That’s what they are for, I guess.   Once I replaced that, everything booted up just fine.  Go Old Falcon!  Take one for the team and bounce right back!   Tra-la, etc.

You must be up to your kneecaps in snow, Trep, because we have had lots of rain and even some hail down here.   The folks who winter here, from Minnesota and Iowa and North Dakota, don’t even notice the rain, it seems, given what they are not having to go through at home.  I overheard a fellow on a cellphone telling someone that he spent the weekend “shoveling sunshine.”  Bet that grinches the folks at home.

But us natives get a little grumpy when it’s dark for two days in the row.  Even though the desert always needs the rain, and we’ll be glad for it in July and August when the reservoirs try to run dry.

Anyway, two computers are up and running now, which is a good thing because I don’t know that I could get to the library if the crick rises.

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Conservative Wet Dreams

Cheney The Dick was a surprise guest at CPAC yesterday and he got a standing ovation, amid cries of “Cheney 2012”!  And he only snarled a little bit when he announced that Obama is a one-term president.  I guess Obama gets to finish his first term unless the conservatives manage to trump up some high crime or other so they can impeach him first.  Stepping on the roses in the garden?   Forgetting to walk the dog?  Being escorted by the Secret Service while Black?

I think it really bugs conservatives that Obama is so manifestly a family man, that his wife is so smart and so sexy that he doesn’t dare or want to cheat on her, and that his kids are so photogenic.  He embodies family values, while they have in their corner Ensign, Vitter, Ted the gay-prostitute-frequenting meth-procuring preacher who is now cured of homosexuality guy, the bathroom-sex guy, the hiking-Argentina guy, and on and on.

You know what CPAC is, Trep.  I forget exactly what the acronym stands for (conservatives have so many groups and conferences, as if they need continual bucking up) but it is a VERY conservative group.  Rachel Maddow attended the conference and she got out alive, although she was seriously threatened by an anti-gay man.  She made light of his assault on her when she recounted it on her show, but I could tell that he had scared her.   And in that venue, who knows if anyone would have come to her aid?

Obama-hatred is racist at bottom.  But it manifests itself in odd ways because the haters know that to be racist is now considered a bad thing in some quarters.   They tried condemning his policies, and admittedly that worked for awhile but its effect seems to be wearing off as more and more people realize that we really do need health care reform.  And they can’t attack his family life.  So they are reduced to condemning POTUS because he is a professor.  You know how that goes:  he is an elitist, out-of-touch, arrogant brainiac with no street smarts—although how they think any black man could grow up in this country without learning a thing or two about real life is beyond me.   And how they think they know more about the Constitution than he does, who taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, is also beyond me.  But then I’m an academic and so by definition I don’t have any street smarts either (that was supposed to make you laugh, Trep).

Helen, over at Margaret and Helen’s place, got off a good one about conservatives on the constitution: “You love the constitution but you seem to pick through that document the same way you pick through the Bible – with all the effectiveness of eating corn on the cob through a picket fence.”  (http://margaretandhelen.wordpress.com).  CNN should hire Helen.

Lately, Obama-hatred is being framed as certainty that he won’t be re-elected.  You know, like your mom used to say:  “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”  If conservatives were smart (and they aren’t) they would know two things:  (1)  You should never count Obama out because he is very very clever about winning;  and (2)  the conservatives have no one to run against him who can come close, even when Obama’s numbers are drooping as they are now.

Point 1:  how many times during the election, Trep, did we moan and groan and say “Why doesn’t Obama do X?”  And then he did Y and won.   So I predict with some confidence that he will pull health care out of the bag, and he will get a jobs bill, and finance regulation, and with less confidence that he gets a repeal of DADT and a cap-and-trade agreement.  And if he lives long enough to be re-elected (I’m not kidding—I’m scared for him given the level of crazy out there) he will indeed study and trim the defense budget.  No, I’m not an O-bot.  But I have been converted away from my initial skepticism about his political skill.

And to point 2:   who they gonna run?   Cheney-Palin?  We can only hope.  Romney-Palin?   It is to laugh.  Palin and Scott Brown (for the photo ops)?   Or some flaks from Congress–Boner/McConnell?   Hatch/Grassley?   Har Har.  Romney-Pawlenty the team of losers you never heard of?  How about Michael Steele, to activate the conservative notion of affirmative action, which is “okay, you got one so we got one.”

To bring this back around to where I started:   Cheney the Dick announced on national teevee last Sunday that he supported waterboarding while he was Veep, even though some members of the Bush administration were opposed to it.  That is to say:  a formerly elected highly-placed person publicly admitted to breaking international law.  You better believe that war crimes tribunals in Britain and Spain were listening, and that tape of The Dick’s admission will be part of any trial that ever takes place.

And the wingnuts want him to run again.   Does anyone need any more evidence of how lawless they truly are?

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Them Old Technology Blues

I’m down to one computer.  (As I type, I hear my sainted mother’s voice:   “There are children in China who don’t have even one computer.   So use the one you’ve got or you’ll go to bed without posting!”)

As you know, Trep, my Mach V has a noisy fan, and I’m waiting for a replacement to arrive.  And my sparkly new laptop is waging what I hope is not a death-struggle with Windows 7.  I’m determined to win this one, although Microsoft is a redoubtable opponent, always enticing you onto one of their myriad support pages, but when you get there you find they want to sell you something or do anything except address your problem which can’t be that important and is probably all your fault anyway, because, as everyone knows, Windows is the answer to all our OS prayers.

So I’m using my older Falcon.  I had to go into CMOS and reset the time when I booted because I haven’t used her in a long time.  She thought it was January 1, 2001 and I had to disabuse her.

I’ve never had a bit of trouble with this machine (fingers crossed) but she seems damnably slow now that I am used to much faster machines.  Which isn’t her fault of course, given that she is approaching the nine-year mark.   I can brush my teeth while she boots up, and can even read a page or so while she struggles to get Mozilla up and running.   I may be asking for it for posting this while she is listening.  In that case my next post may be coming to you from the public library.

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