Archive for October, 2015



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This post is about last night’s Rethug presidential debate.

I started watching the debate out of duty. But that wasn’t enough to keep me there. Like Alice, the Rethug candidates seem to have been drinking from strange cups. Cups labelled “bile,” “spleen,” and “lies.”

I switched to a volleyball game, where, at least, the shouting was encouraging rather than intimidating. But it became clear within the first set that Minnesota would beat the tar out of Indiana. So, in an excess of citizenly zeal, I went back to the debate, hoping for improvement.

Not. When Carly Fiorina said that anyone on stage would be better on women’s issues than Hillary (Trump?  Huckabee?  Cruz, for crissake?), I turned off the TV and stepped out on the porch, wishing I had a huge joint.

Twelve hours later, trying to convey how awful the thing was, words fail me. And when words fail a rhetorician, you know the shitshow was pretty bad.

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bad-luck-clover2We generally believe that there is such a thing as luck, and we regularly assume that it operates in our lives. “Luck” is a useful commonplace–a way of organizing our memories of passages in our lives. I don’t know why luck, either good or bad, seems to occur in “strings”; maybe a collection of similarly positive or negative events is required to trigger our use of the label “luck.”

Despite knowing that luck is a myth, I can’t resist thinking that I’ve had a string of bad luck for the last couple of months: illness, a sick cat who is also a maniac, bad news about friends and relatives, unexpected bills, Nebraska football. The last such long string of bad events I can remember came along when I worked with a bad boss. In that case, the awful things that happened, one after another, were orchestrated by someone. But the feeling of dread, of “what now”–is the same as that stimulated by a string of bad stuff that isn’t organized.

Private woes like these pale into insignificance when placed in the context of bad luck plaguing an entire nation. As happened after the so-called “election” of 2000, which brought us an eight-year string of bad luck: 9/11, the war in Iraq, torture, illegal imprisonment, suspension of habeas corpus, Katrina, and a financial meltdown (to name only the most egregious examples). This set of events, like that perpetrated by Bad Boss, was orchestrated.  But the awful feeling–dreading “what’s next?”–was exactly the same.

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A snippet from the infamous memo given to President George Bush by the CIA in August of 2001

A revealing bit of video has emerged wherein a Bloomberg reporter reacts to Donald Trump’s insistence on a simple fact–the World Trade Center collapsed while George Bush was president. The reporter’s body language demonstrates the strength of the media taboo levied against truth-telling in the matter of 9/11–she lifts a leg as though to kick Trump and throws up her arms as though in self-defense. She nearly screams: “You can’t blame Bush for that!”

Oh yes we can. Some of us, derisively called “truthers,” have been blaming Bush for the fall of the towers, and for much more, ever since 2001. He was warned at least six times about the threat posed by Bin Laden, beginning with a chat with Bill Clinton as the latter prepared to exit the White House.

But I’m not going to re-litigate all that now. Rather I’ll ask one question: if George Bush cannot be said to be responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by his action or inaction during his presidency, how is it that Hilary Clinton can be held responsible for Benghazi?

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Hard Saturdays

Well here it is Saturday morning and I’m watching College Game Day, hoping that they won’t mention Nebraska.  Faithful readers of this blog will notice a change–in the past I’ve complained here about ESPN’s lack of coverage of Nebraska football, as well as that played in the Big Ten overall.

Well this year the Big Ten is getting plenty of coverage. Ohio State is ranked number one in the country, while Michigan State is ranked fourth (or seventh, depending on whose poll you consult). Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern all rank in the top twenty. This is great news for the conference, not least because good publicity moves donors to contribute to academic programs.

But these facts are cold comfort to Cornhusker fans, whose team record is 2 and 4. Yep, you read right:  2 wins, 4 losses. It doesn’t help that we lost each of those games by three points or fewer.

I know, I’m whining. Allow me, though, to point to a little history. The last time Nebraska put up a won-loss record this bad was in–get ready–1954! Sixty years! I was in grade school in 1954, eleven years old, wearing braids and bobby sox. (You can find the Huskers’ scoring history at http://www.huskers.com/pdf9/2760511.pdf?DB_OEM_ID=100).

So for most of my life the Nebraska Cornhuskers have been winners, and losing is hard to get used to. Things are not going to improve, either, outside of some sort of miracle. Nebraska is now in the heart of its Big Ten schedule, bringing the worst win-loss record in sixty years into a conference wherein, this year, even perennial fodder like Purdue and Indiana are striking sparks on occasion.

OTOH, Nebraska’s volleyball team is ranked third nationally.  The women look really good, especially on defense. So there’s that.

And Inky is glad today is Saturday. He’s getting mighty tired of my hovering over his every move.

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Strung Out

Inky Contemplates The Universe–Or Probably Just Rabbits

It’s been a hard week.

Early Sunday morning I heard Inky crying–growling, really–as he tried to use the litter box. When I approached, he ran into a storage closet, crying all the way. I knew this was bad news, so I grabbed a carrier and took it into the closet along with a pair of sturdy work gloves in case he objected to seeing an emergency vet. I was surprised–to say the least–when he limped into the carrier on his own.

We hustled over to the nearest emergency hospital, which is about thirty minutes away (although the drive time was a bit shorter on an early Sunday morning : )). The vet examined him and found that his urethra was plugged.

This is bad news in male cats. It means that Inky’s body is manufacturing crystals, which as far as I can find out are hard clusters of stuff–mostly minerals–that collect in the bladder as excreta. When enough of these form, or when they are big enough, the cat’s urinary system becomes blocked. This condition is life threatening–kidney failure and bladder rupture are only two of the catastrophic possibilities.

Luckily for Inky, when the doc removed a plug that had formed, he urinated–on the table, on the walls, on the vet. The vet decided to keep him for awhile to see if he could urinate again–that is, to see if the blockage would move along. I knew this was a wan hope–Inky is very shy, and the likelihood of his doing anything while at the hospital, other than cowering, was very low.

By evening the vet figured Inky might let go in more comfortable surroundings, so I took him home. I lined the car seat with plastic, suspecting he might go in the car. But he waited until he’d been home for an hour or so–a very long hour for me–and finally did his duty.

So far so good. The vet put him on a special diet (which he hates), a drug to enlarge the urinary canal, and pain medication. So since Sunday I’ve been dealing drugs to a reluctant animal and haunting the litter boxes. This last is not fun duty, I assure you. My own vet suggested that I change the boxes and wash and sun-dry them every day. I asked her if she does that for her own cats, and she replied “my kids do it.”  Well fine. I’ve also had to lock Sassy into a bathroom while Inky refuses to eat his special diet unless I hand-feed him. (Sassy is not allowed to eat the stuff, which means I have to feed her in a separate room).

Inky has a lifetime affliction. That is to say, he will be on the special diet for as long as he lives. Given that my vet scorns the stuff recommended by the emergency vet, and given that Inky hates the stuff, I’m trying to find something else. The internet thinks that the special diet prescribed by vets is not necessarily the only possibility. It is very expensive, for one thing. The internet thinks that a very good food that has a lot of water in it will do the trick.  So I need to decide whether or not to take this advice.

Inky has had a hard life. He may have been abused before I adopted him–he had behavior problems that we’ve since pretty much resolved. In his short life he’s already been seriously ill twice. I worry that he is in pain. I realized this morning that I too am really, really, stressed out (I yelled so loud at Sassy that she ran away and hid). My internals haven’t been this upset since I worked for a boss who was an unredeemed asshole. So I’ve got to find some way to resolve that issue too.

I’m open to suggestions.

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A Risible Moment

Six am. on a Saturday. I’m sitting in my living room. All the doors are open to the glorious weather outside (at last!).

On the teevee Jonathan Capehart, an amiable anchor, interviews a congressperson about the standoff in the House of Representatives. A banner below the congressperson’s name announces that he is “Rep. Reid Ribble.”

“Republican of Risconsin,” I add, aloud.

I hope my neighbors are not outdoors at the moment–they may hear my maniacal laughter at my own joke and assume that I’ve finally gone around the bend.

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