Powered by Blogger

Monday, April 30, 2007

Surrounded by cancer

I've been trying to regularly read my friend Terri's breast cancer blog http://chemogirlspeaksout.blogspot.com/
but I have to admit, it's freaking me out. My window at work overlooks the entrance to the Regional Oncology Center. And one of my new Syracuse friends a cancer treatment planner at another area hospital. And of course my stepfather, Jerry Martin, is being treated for prostate cancer. I feel quite surrounded by the disease. And I'm reaching an age where it's a pretty disquieting feeling.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mr Light Bulb

My friend Terri promotes her friend's political blog - he calls himself Mr Light Bulb: http://thelightbulbblog.blogspot.com/

Not very illuminating - the standard liberal-bashing, ranting about "Defeatocrats" and using mean-spirited nicknames for prominent Dems, like "Her Vileness" for Hillary and "The Breck Girl" for John Edwards. I find that last one especially galling. It's not John Edwards' fault that he's pretty. And more to the point, he's the only candidate in either party who has attempted to elevate poverty into a legitmate political issue. It's not like taking a principled stand is a winning strategy - unlike Hillary, who tries to walk some weird fine line on the war in Iraq and social issues like abortion. I don't think there's been a prominent Republican who has addressed poverty in any real way since Jack Kemp in the 1980s - that's two decades ago. Most, including GWB, brag about how little poor people matter to them (like at a charity dinner in 2000, when he said, "This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elites; I call you my base.")

In any event, this kind of discourse contributes little to our civic debate. I like a good argument, but not with someone who disparages everyone who disagrees with them as an idiot and moral degenerate. No thanks.


Friday, April 27, 2007

"First Spouse" in France

I just loved this story on the changing role of First Lady in France. Can you imagine the wife of a presidential candidate in the US saying, "I don’t see myself as a first lady. That bores me."??? And the female candidate's partner (not husband!) is head of the party, a job he plans to keep even if she's elected. Stunning. Really makes it clear how archaic our society's attitudes are. Here's the link and an excerpt:

April 27, 2007
NY Times
A ‘First Spouse’ in France? Not Any Time Soon

PARIS, April 26 — No matter who wins the presidency of France on May 6, life in the grand, presidential Élysée Palace is destined to change. There is no future for the role of dutiful partner filled for the past dozen years by Bernadette Chirac, who as first lady has run charities, held dinners and served as a local official in the farming town of Corrèze. Both presidential candidates are members of unconventional couples.

Ségolène Royal, the Socialist Party candidate, is not married to the father of her four children, François Hollande. But more than that, they are political rivals. As head of the Socialist Party, he was nearly the candidate himself, and says he will try to run in 2012 if Ms. Royal loses this time.
This is not Bill-and-Hillary in 1992, when Bill Clinton told the American people they would be getting “two for the price of one,” pledging that Mrs. Clinton would be a full-time policy-making partner, and perhaps even a cabinet member, in his presidency.

Cécilia Sarkozy, 49, the wife of the front-runner and conservative candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been largely absent from the campaign. Asked how she envisioned her life in 10 years, she replied, “In the United States, jogging in Central Park."

"I don’t see myself as a first lady,” she said on a popular French television show. “That bores me. I am not politically correct.”


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

'Stop Snitchin' takes hold in cities

I literally cried tonight when I watched this report. Geoffrey Canada breaks your heart with his passion and Russell Simmons, though presenting an opposing viewpoint, is amazing - really articulate and compassionate. What really got to me was the group of young people that AC talked to, all who had witnessed terrible crimes, and they look into the camera and say "That's the rule." Tragic.


Anderson Cooper 360
'Stop Snitchin' takes hold in cities

If someone you loved was gunned down in front of you, would you tell police? If you think the answer is obvious, you may be stunned by our story tonight, which looks at the power of two simple words: "Stop Snitchin'."

This prase is a catchy, hip-hop slogan that tells people not to talk with police. It preaches an unbending code of silence in poor communities -- and the message has taken root. In many inner-city neighborhoods, witnesses to crime aren't stepping forward, and murders are going unsolved.

My report ran on "60 Minutes" this past weekend. We're building on the story tonight on "360" and one person we'll talk to is well-respected educator Geoffrey Canada, who makes a forceful case that African-Americans are undermining their own communities by permitting this music and attitude. We'll also talk to hip-hop producer Russell Simmons.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Great quote

If the truth doesn't save us, what does that say about us?
-Lois McMasterBujold, writer (1949- )

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Alec Baldwin loses it

This columnist, Martha Brockenbrough, perfectly expressed my sentiments on this issue, here's a link and an excerpt:


The man clearly needs help.

Even so, I had a moment of recognition — one that I don't like, but one I'd be a total hypocrite to deny. The truth is that very few parents can go a lifetime without saying something regrettable to their children. To the ones who do, I offer my congratulations and admiration.

For the rest of us, though, who are sometimes worn down by life's stresses, disappointments and apparent exercises in futility, we don't always say the right things to our kids. Sometimes, we even say the exact wrong things — words we may regret for the rest of our days.

Baldwin revealed a lot about his emotional fragility when he said, "You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone."

I lost my cool with my child, but at least I get to see her every day. Baldwin doesn't, and this apparently wasn't the first scheduled call she missed. How devastating for a parent who does not have custody to not be able to count even on phone calls.

I know if I were in his situation, I would be crushed and frustrated, and very likely to lash out. I suspect I'd be furious with my ex, and I'd be mortally wounded by the apparent indifference of my child. I'd also want to go to wherever she was to explain how much she was hurting me.

I like to think I'd choose words that expressed my pain and not come across as threatening. But how do we know how we'd react if we felt we'd lost the one person we loved most in the world? How many of us, in our darkest moments, can express such humbling need with perfect clarity?
He definitely screwed up here. There's no way what he said was OK, even if his daughter at least has a sad piece of proof that her father wants to be part of her life.

I can understand his emotion more than I understand what could have possessed Kim Basinger's people to leak a tape that would publicize their child's pain and make it part of the permanent tabloid record.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Abortion ban

I'm so upset about the ACTIVIST Supreme Court decision upholding an ill-conceived (pun intended) ban on the late-term abortion procedure referred to as "partial birth" from the state of Nebraska. Of course the procedure itself is vile, but the legislation is just as vile, because it does not include an exception for the health or life of the mother. The first time ever that the court has validated such legislation. A sad, sad day for women - rolling back the clock a century, where our role as incubators of future generations takes precedence over our own humanity.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Step away from the genius gear!

I was really thrilled to see this article in the current issue of Newsweek, including reference to a new book called Buy Buy Baby by journalist Susan Gregory-Thomas, about what a complete waste of money all this "genius gear" is for babies. This has been a pet peeve of mine for several years. The article even discusses the genesis of this phenomenon, which was born in a Carnegie Corporation report called "Starting Points," and greatly advanced, quite unintentionally, by Rob Reiner, who was trying to influence government to invest more in early childhood development for deprived kids (not middle- and upper-class kids!) Marketers saw an opportunity and a retail craze was born. The article concludes that the best thing parents can do for their babies is talk, sing and read to them, and invest the money in a college savings account!

Read the entire article (it's not long):



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What is it about April?

Columbine. The Oklahoma City bombing. And now Virginia Tech is added to the sad list of senseless events that occurred in the month of April. Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, yet these events stain the new flowers and fresh grass with tragedy. Words fail me.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Imus insults black people

Such a firestorm about his remarks about Rutgers' Women's basketball team (he called them "nappy-headed hos" on his radio show). Of course I'm glad that people are objecting, and loudly. A colleague of mine said, "he's not racist," which is the standard defense for someone who makes thoughtless remarks. I replied that saying "nappy-headed" was racist by definition. But I'm more bothered by this knee-jerk defense of a high-profile white guy. I think most whites, especially white men, need to believe that racism doesn't exist, or if it does, other whites are not afflicted. I don't think Imus hates and/or fears blacks, but there are different kinds of prejudice, and feeling comfortable making such an ugly and disparaging remark, publically no less, is certainly an indication of something dark in his soul. Misogyny is obviously included.

ADDENDUM April 11, 2007

MSNBC has dropped the a.m. simulcast of Imus's radio show and has the unmitigated gall to state that it's due to the moral values of the Board. If they had fired him immediately after this brouhaha started, that unlikely statement might have credibility, but since they waited until half the show's sponsors dropped their contracts, it seems much more probable that the basis of their decision was purely financial. Another example of extreme corporate hypocrisy. It's hardly surprising, but it's still disappointing that they can offer such a bald-faced lie with such equanimity.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Flying the friendly skies (NOT)

I'm writing from Iowa, where the locals seem to love the place, though it's charms are not yet apparent to me. I got here via the living nightmare that is modern American air travel. I've come to believe that if you sat down to design Hell, you'd end up with something quite a bit like what we've got in the airplanes and airports of the U.S. (I haven't traveled internationally for many years so I can't comment on that, though I have it on good authority that it's worse than domestic travel.) The icing on this particular cake is the astonishing apathy of the vast majority of the personnel whom you're forced to interact with. I remember a time not that long ago when the staff in the airline industry were so cheerful and so chipper that you needed an insulin shot once you got to your destination. Now, they act like they've been given a death sentence, which includes having to supervise you. And my fellow travellers and I have been reduced to acting like cattle, shuffling from one indignity to another, trying to follow the blizzard of ever-changing rules, and having abandoned any hope of retaining our dignity. I've always liked being in different places, but I never much cared for the process of getting there. But airline travel has devolved into something truly tortuous. It's a strong argument for taking the train.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bush hypocrisy over Pelosi's trip

I heard it reported repeatedly that although Bush and his minions are criticizing Nancy Pelosi's meeting with Syria's president Assad, a week earlier, a delegation of Republicans journeyed to Syria and no one had any complaints about their actions.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Iran releases British marines

Again, we did it with North Korea without firing a shot and now Great Britian did it with Iran without firing a shot. Why, why, why did we believe our only option in Iraq was invasion?