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Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Dear Pixar"

This almost made me cry - I loved this "letter" about movies and girls. Here's an excerpt:

. . . I don't like to make movies political, especially kids' movies, if I can help it. Sometimes a princess is just a princess and should be taken as such.

At the same time, little Russell, in Up, is Asian-American, right? And that's not a big plot point; presumably, he just is because there's no particular reason he shouldn't be. You don't need him to be, but you don't need him not to be, either. It's not politics; it's just seeing the whole big world.

Well, the whole big world has a lot of little girls in it, too. And not all of them are princesses -- and the ones who are princesses have plenty of movies to watch.

And even many of them who do aspire to be princesses are mixing their princess tendencies with all manner of other delicious things. Their tiaras fall off when they skin their knees running at top speed; they get fingerpaint on their pink dresses; they chip their front teeth chasing each other in plastic high-heeled shoes.

There's nothing wrong with the movies you're making; I'm sure your princess movie will be my favorite one ever. I'm just saying, keep them in mind, those girls in Band-Aids, because they want to see themselves on screen doing death-defying stunts, too.


I saw the movie, Up, this weekend with the kids. I liked it a lot, it's very poignant, but the themes (e.g., death and unfulfilled dreams) are awfully adult for a kids' movie. As several people said, it's very sad, much more so than in it's promotional campaign - I felt a little mislead (like I did with Marley and Me).

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Great stories on NPR

Such interesting stuff lately~

One business story about the music composed for video games - surprisingly fascinating.

Another about poetry being recession-proof - really funny and fun. Here's some examples of "recession haiku:"

Among the entries was this one, from Artie Moffa:

I still have a job
But fear keeps me from spending,
Which might drag this out.

Thinking along similar lines, Sarene Leeds wrote:

Shopping was a treat.
Now it scares me to no end.
I can't buy that dress.


Friday, May 29, 2009

New popular baby name

I thought this was hilarious:

"Barack" moved up the baby name list a record 10,126 places to No. 2,409.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

"6 Ways to Kill Piper"

I saw this mom and daughter on some morning news show and while I think the girls (ages 11 & 12) that did this are terrible, the mom came across as kind of over-reacting - she wasn't satisfied with the way the school treated the incident, or the police, or the perpetrators' parents. She wants them to act like this was a genuine threat to her daughter's life.

SPANAWAY, Wash. - A Pierce County mother wants some answers after some of her daughter's classmates posted a video online, showing several ways to kill the girl. The video is a cartoon that was made off school grounds by a group of young girls aged 11 and 12. That video made the rounds on YouTube. The cartoon is called "Top Six Ways to Kill Piper" and it includes depictions of give girls shooting her, making her commit suicide, poisoning her, and even pushing her off a cliff.

"I was horrified," said Beth Smith, Piper's mother.

"It really hurt my feelings," said Piper. "If someone hates me that much, to make a video about me, it makes me feel really bad."

Beth Smith contacted the parents of the girls who made the video. Some were shocked, others were dismissive. "One guy blew it off and said he was making dinner," she said.

The school district says because of privacy rules it can't say how the girls were disciplined. "Since then the students have expressed their remorse about this incident and we do believe that Elk Plain has been and will continue to be a safe place for students to learn," said Krista Carlson, Bethel School District.

Not knowing what happened leaves Smith frustrated because she wants to know if her daughter is safe. "My heart aches," she said. "I fear for her safety." Piper said some of the girls called to apologize.

A report was filed with the sheriff's department.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Court-ordered cancer treatment

For some reason, this makes me really sad. I'm glad he got the treatment, but I'm really sorry that he had to be bullied into it.

A 13-year-old boy cancer patient who fled the state with his mother rather than face chemotherapy underwent a round of the treatment he feared Thursday, a family spokesman said.

Jim Navarro said Daniel Hauser attended his second chemotherapy session at Children's Hospitals and Clinics but he had no immediate update on the teen's condition. The hospital wouldn't release information about the procedure, citing patient confidentiality.

The boy's parents, who initially resisted chemotherapy out of a preference for alternative treatments, faced legal consequences if they skipped the appointment. Daniel also attended an appointment a day earlier.

The family had said an earlier round of chemotherapy made Daniel, who suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma, feel sick and hardened their resolve against further treatment. A Brown County judge ordered the treatment anyway, prompting Daniel and Colleen Hauser to leave their home in Sleepy Eye and spend a week on the lam.

The family prefers natural healing practices suggested by a religious group called the Nemenhah Band, which says it follows American Indian beliefs.

Earlier this week, the family agreed to accept chemotherapy when doctors vowed to integrate some natural treatments favored by the Hausers.

Although integrative medicine doctors said such therapy were not meant as an alternative to traditional cancer treatment, it can help patients deal with the effects of chemotherapy.

"A lot of people want to avoid chemotherapy because they're afraid of it, and what they're actually afraid of is the symptoms," said Dr. Lucille Marchand, clinical director of integrative oncology services at the University of Wisconsin Paul C. Carbone Cancer Center. "And symptoms can be treated."


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor = SCOTUS

From Judgepedia:

Sotomayor, who grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx, is of Puerto Rican descent. Her father was a manual laborer who did not attend high school and who died when Sotomayor was nine years old, a year after she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Her mother, a nurse, supported Sotomayor's educational goals. Sotomayor, who is divorced, has no children.[11]

Sotomayor did her undergraduate work at Princeton, graduating summa cum laude in 1976, and then went on to law school at Yale Law, where she was awarded her Juris Doctor degree in 1979. She then began her legal career working from 1979-1984 as an assistant District Attorney with the District Attorney's Office of New York County.

On the recommendation of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moniyhan, Sotomayor was nominated by President George H.W. Bush on November 27, 1991, to a seat on the Southern District of New York (district appeals court).

She is currently a federal appeals judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit based in New York City. Again on the recommendation of U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moniyhan, she was nominated to this position by Bill Clinton on June 25, 1997

Why Sotomayor?

The fact that she is a woman of Hispanic descent is thought by some to make her an appealing choice for ethic communities and women.

The belief that she will be perceived as a centrist in her judicial philosophy. Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School says, "Because Sotomayor has a reputation for staying behind the scenes and sits on a federal bench known for its centrism, it's likely that she would be able to garner a two-thirds majority in the Senate, even if the Democrats only control an estimated 55 or so seats. Plus there's an insurance measure if the nomination gets too politicized publicly."[5]

It is thought that it might be tactically difficult for Republicans to oppose a Sotomayor nomination because she was originally appointed to the federal bench by Republican George H.W. Bush. "If you're a Democratic strategist, you can gin up ads that say, 'She was good enough for George H. W. Bush. Why isn't she good enough for (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell?"[5]

Supporters include New York's US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillbrand who, on April 9, 2009, wrote a letter to President Barack Obama urging that either Sotomayor or Ken Salazar be the first Latino nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States.[20]


Conservatives may oppose Sotomayor's nomination by characterizing her as having a controversial judicial philosophy that favors judicial activism.

Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic interviewed people he described as "a range of people who have worked with her" that he describes as primarily "former law clerks for other judges on the Second Circuit or former federal prosecutors in New York" and Democrats who all "want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court." Based on these interviews, Rosen published a piece on May 4, 2009 where he maintains that these interviewees "expressed questions about [Sotomayor's] temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative."[11]

With regard to the issue of judicial temperament, Rosen says that the people he interviewed "consistently" were of the mind that Sotomayor is "not that smart" and is "kind of a bully on the bench." Sotomayor's "command of technical legal details" was also raised as a point of concern. [11]

Glenn Greenwald responds:

. . . the National Review [and other conservatives] . . . declare her to be "dumb and obnoxious" . . . [and assert that she] doesn't deserve her achievements -- based on the fact that she's Puerto Rican and female . . .

My perception of Sotomayor is almost the exact opposite of the picture painted by Rosen. I had a generally low opinion of the intellect of most judges -- it's one of the things I disliked most about the practice of law -- but I found her to be extremely perceptive, smart, shrewd and intellectually insightful. The image that has been instantaneously created of her as some sort of doltish mediocrity, based on nothing but Rosen's water-cooler chatter, is, at least to me, totally unrecognizable. Of the countless federal judges with whom I had substantive interaction over more than ten years of litigation, I would place her in the top tier when it comes to intellect. My impressions are very much in line with the author of this assessment of Sotomayor, who had much more extensive interaction with her and -- unlike Rosen's chatterers -- has the courage to attach his name to his statements.

It's certainly true that she was very assertive and aggressive -- at times unpleasantly so -- in how she presided over her courtroom. [He goes on to say that this type of behavior is extremely common among judges.]

. . . it's very hard in this case to avoid the impression that behavior that seems "authoritative" and "appropriate" when coming from familiar authority figures (such as all the white males on the bench Stuart Taylor hails as "brilliant") is immediately transformed into "domineering" and "egotistical" when coming from a woman who still speaks with a mild though discernible Bronx/Puerto Rican accent. The anonymous personality smears passed on by Rosen seem to say far more about Rosen's sources (and Rosen) than about Sotomayor. Salon's Rebecca Traister and The American Prospect's Adam Serwer both expertly highlight what are, in this case, the overt gender and ethnic overtones to the attacks on her.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Whooping cough is re-emerging as health threat

From a story on NPR:

Over the past 10 years, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal bacterial disease once thought eradicated from the U.S. has re-emerged, threatening the very youngest and weakest of our population. Pertussis is a bacterial infection of the lungs and spreads from person to person through moisture droplets in the air, probably from coughs or sneezes. A person with pertussis develops a severe cough that usually lasts four to six weeks or longer.

Health officials cite an increase in the incidence of pertussis, particularly among infants and teenagers. In 1976 there were just over 1,000 reported cases of pertussis in the United States; by 2004, it climbed to nearly 26,000 cases. Between 2000 and 2005 there were 140 deaths resulting from pertussis in the United States.
[. . .]
In a recent study published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers from Kaiser Permanente Colorado's Institute for Health Research used electronic health records to look for immunization refusal and possible pertussis infections.

Specifically, researchers examined the medical records of children between the ages of two months and 18 years who were members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado between 1996 and 2007. First investigators confirmed which children had pertussis infections. Next, they verified whether parents had refused some or all vaccines for their children.

The findings: Children of parents who refused the DTaP vaccine were 23 times more likely to get whooping cough compared to fully immunized children. "A 23 fold increase is huge!" says Jason Glanz, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanent's Institute for Health Research who headed the study, who said the findings should help "dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine preventable diseases."

And, from a larger perspective, Glanz adds the findings also show " that the decision to refuse immunizations could have important ramifications for the health of the entire community. Based on our analysis, we found that one in ten additional whooping cough infections could have been prevented by immunization."


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Larry wanted to see Rise of the Lychans (2009), after seeing an ad for it, though we haven't seen the first two in the series. It was o.k.; well-made for the genre but not really my cup of tea. The best part was Michael Sheen as a werewolf after watching him portray David Frost and Tony Blair.

After that, we decided to see the other two (Matt and Danny both liked them, which should be a clue right there). Underworld (2003) is again well-made, but for a movie promoted as "Romeo and Juliet with vampires," there's precious little romance, and plenty of death and destruction. The movie is confusing at first, but then it tries to catch you up on all the plot in the space of 20 minutes, which results in poor pacing. But by far my biggest complaint is a dearth of kissing. The young stars are appealing, but they don't interact enough. In Shakespeare's play, the lovers take up at least half the action, here they have a few scant scenes together, mostly spent killing their opponents. I can see why this is a hit primarily with boys and young men (it was not a box office smash) - if they had balanced the action with more romance, they could have found a wider audience.
I suppose we'll see the final movie at some point. I understand the romance heats up, so that's a selling point. As for 2 solid hours of slaughter, that's never going to motivate me.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

"It's the cooking"

Fascinating book about the role of cooking in human evolution. Here's an excerpt of the book review in the NY Times (thanks to my friend Lynda!):

“The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology and society.” Put simply, Mr. Wrangham writes that eating cooked food — whether meat or plants or both —made digestion easier, and thus our guts could grow smaller. The energy that we formerly spent on digestion (and digestion requires far more energy than you might imagine) was freed up, enabling our brains, which also consume enormous amounts of energy, to grow larger. The warmth provided by fire enabled us to shed our body hair, so we could run farther and hunt more without overheating. Because we stopped eating on the spot as we foraged and instead gathered around a fire, we had to learn to socialize, and our temperaments grew calmer.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights

This doesn't go far enough, of course, and it will be hard to enforce, but it's the first legislation in a long time that actually protects the average person from predatory business rather than paving the way for businesses to make money off of unsophisticated consumers.

President Obama signed a bill today that makes it tougher for credit card issuers to raise fees and interest rates.

During a bill-signing ceremony at the White House, President Obama praised the new law, which was the culmination of several years of work by consumer groups and Democrats to rein in what they say are abusive practices that prey on consumers.

The credit card rules would take effect in February 2010 and are not retroactive, meaning consumers could still face rate hikes until then.

The rules makes it harder for people under age 21 to get credit cards. It would also ban rate hikes unless a consumer is more than 60 days late -- and then restore the previous rate after six months if minimum payments are made.

The bill marks a major loss for the banking industry. Financial services representatives have decried the bill, saying it would exacerbate the credit crisis and force banks to drop some risky credit card holders.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

CAFE standards

The first major change in emission standards since they were set in 1975. It's not enough, but at least it's something.

In sweeping new changes, the White House will order automakers to significantly increase the gas mileage of the cars they make, and significantly reduce the amount of pollution they emit. President Obama also gave authority to the EPA to regulate tailpipe emissions from vehicles - this is completely new.

. . . the new national Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard will require an average of 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by the year 2016 -- four years ahead of schedule.

For the current model year, 2009, the average fuel efficiency (combined) is 25 mpg.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I haven't been to a movie in the theater lately, but I've watched several movies on video. I was really excited to see Look on the Hollywood shelf, thinking it was too offbeat for their collection. But it was a huge disappointment. I expected some commentary on the intrusiveness of surveillance cameras or on our voyeuristic culture, but the movie is very much NOT that. It uses the STYLE of surveillance cameras, which is a clever idea, but the film simply exploits our voyeuristic tendencies rather than commenting on them. The movie is so raunchy, the camera style just feels like an excuse to portray various people in inappropriate sexual situations while passing it off as "art." There are no characters to root for or sympathize with, and very little plot development beyond people behaving badly. Strangest of all, in the end, all the characters' (mostly) minor transgressions are punished, but the real criminal gets off scot free. It's incredibly cynical, on top of being vulgar. Despite it's original concept, based on the exploitive execution, I cannot recommend it.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Intelligence briefing covers - bible verses

This is so inappropriate, on several levels, it's positively staggering. However, it's hard to be outraged when this is compared to all the other massive stupidity these idiots engaged in. Still, this is bad. Slide show of 11 covers at GQ (yes, that GQ).

Article in today's NY Times by Frank Rich about this and other issues.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

FBI agent says torture is "ineffective"

This guy is my new hero!

Former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Ali Soufan testified on Wednesday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee examining the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects. Media coverage focused on Soufan's assertion that the harsh methods were ineffective and that cooperative methods yielded more actionable intelligence.

For example, CBS Evening News showed Soufan saying about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, "We obtained a treasure trove of highly significant, actionable intelligence that proved instrumental in the war efforts against al Qaeda." Soufan "worked to gain Zubaydah's trust, and quickly learned the identity of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."


Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Girl Power!"

I know it's silly to care about this at all, but I got a huge charge out of the Preakness winner beng a filly. It's very rare for female horses win the big races - something I learned when I visited Churchhill Downs last year. This is history and it's just freakin fun!

The best 3-year-old in the land just happens to be a filly named Rachel Alexandra. Jockey Calvin Borel all but guaranteed victory in the Preakness Stakes and, boy, did she deliver, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.

A rangy bay, as big as most of the horses she beat, Rachel Alexandra shot to the front Saturday and wasn't seriously challenged until a late close by Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

She led by a head at the quarter and half-mile poles. She stretched it to a half-length at the three-quarters pole. She was ahead by four lengths going down the stretch. In the end, the 9-5 favorite won by a length in her first race against the boys.

The win also validated Borel's decision to climb off Mine That Bird and stay on the filly as her regular rider.

Now Borel may get a shot at a personal Triple Crown, if Rachel Alexandra goes on to the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. The 1 1/2-mile race is the most grueling of the three.

"I'm not worried about nothing," he said. "It's going to take a racehorse to beat her."

Rachel Alexandra had already beaten up on her own gender, winning her five previous races by a combined 43 1/2 lengths.

Musket Man finished third, as he did in the Derby, followed by Flying Private and Big Drama.

Rachel Alexandra covered 1 3-16 miles in 1:55.08 and became the first horse to win at Pimlico from the No. 13 post on the far outside. She paid $5.60, $4.60 and $3.60. Mine That Bird returned $6.60 and $4.80, while Musket Man paid $5 to show.

"I'm thrilled to death with the race my little horse ran," said Chip Woolley Jr., who trains Mine That Bird. "You have to give that filly credit. She's a great one."


Friday, May 15, 2009

Beatbox flute!

This guy is so terrific. One of the coolest stories I've ever heard on NPR, and that's saying something. Watch his videos! And listen to his interview on NPR .

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grey's Anatomy

I never got to watch the big 100th episode - I missed it on TV and the desktop we have is old and I can't watch streaming video on it, and Larry sent his laptop in for a tuneup and so I couldn't watch on it. Boo woo. I'll have to catch up with that episode over the summer. In fact, I can watch the whole season again during the summer if I want.

I thought the season finale was very moving, but it's also gotten so there's so many characters and relationships, it's hard to feel really involved with them all. I esp like Owen and Christina, but you wonder where they can go from here, now that they've overcome their major obstacle(s). I esp liked that Christina came with Owen to see his mom (and terrific actress from Everwood). I also think it's really awesome that the show is dealing with PTSD, a very real problem effecting a lot of people coming back from Iraq.

I thought Mer and Der's little impromtu wedding on a post-it was quite sweet. I was very surprised that George died (did he?) - I didn't realize that actor was leaving the show, though they've given him next to nothing to work with this season and I've wondered how he could stand it. I expected Izzy to kick the bucket and I was a bit disappointed with the last few scenes with her and Alex - not as meaningful as they could have been, IMO. Lexie and Mark don't interest me at all, so I tend to ignore their scenes. I obviously missed something last week, because they ended the previous week holding hands at dinner with her dad. So they were all hunky dory and then this week they're not even together or something, I couldn't tell (not that I care, I wish both characters would move to Japan or something). And Callie and Arizona feel so contrived to me. I like the actresses, but they have no chemistry, and their relationship feels fake or forced or something. Bring back Erica.

Final comment - I did wonder why they showed two episodes in one night, since the eps were clearly done separately and they could have showed the final ep next week. 2 hrs felt like kind of a lot, frankly, though I certainly didn't say that at the end of Season 2 - some of the best TV I've ever seen (I've watched it over and over and it holds up).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summer movies - counter programming

Sure I want to see Star Trek and Terminator Salvation, but here's some of the other movies, the non-"event movies," that are coming out this summer that I want to see. Of course, who knows what will actually make it to theaters in Syracuse.

Brothers Bloom - long delayed but starring Adrien Brody, what else do you need?

Funny People - promising-looking offbeat comedy from Judd Apatow, starring Adam Sandler

The Time Traveler's Wife - Eric Bana, nuff said

Easy Virtue - Noel Coward play set in the roaring 20s; Jessica Biel plays the offbeat American who meets her husband's stuffy parents played by Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas; must see!

Whatever Works - Woody Allen's latest, but it's a maybe - since it's yet another older man (Larry David) having a romance with a much younger woman (Evan Rachel Woood)

Rudo y Cursi - Cuaron directs Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna; I've heard nothing but raves

Management - iffy, but sometimes Jennifer Aniston delivers and Steve Zahn is always worth watching

500 Days of Summer - Joseph Gordon Levitt would be enough to watch it, but there's Zoey Deschanel too!

Julie & Julia - Meryl Streep as Julia Child; expected to be the sleeper hit of the summer

The Proposal - I'm a fool for Sandra Bullock rom coms

My Life in Ruins - potentially adorable rom com from Nia Vardolos (though frankly it could suck)

Food, Inc - must see doc about corporate farming


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Judging honesty by words"

I went to the NY Times site to read something else, and came across this fascinating article about the latest research on lie detection.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Dems and Obama and likability

This morning, I worked myself into a lather about a comment by Joe Scarborough - about how Obama is popular and Americans like him, but the leadership of the Democratic party, like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are so far left. Which I think is ridiculous - a majority of Americans agree with the basic positions of the Dems, like healthcare reform and immigration reform and education reform. I think Joe is engaging in wishful thinking.

On the other hand, I'm afraid that I'm suffering that odd ailment of getting what I wish for and then not being sure I really want it after all. Throughout the painful presidency of George Bush I wanted the Dems to have the likable candidate, the guy who wins because of his (or her!)winning personality. And lo and behold, that is exactly what happened. Now it's a fine thing that Obama also happens to be smart as hell and actually up for the job. But the sad reality is that his approval rating has little to do with the policies that he's proposing and almost everything to do with his personality, as has been the case since polling began. Which is frustrating to me. I'm glad the guy won and I'm glad that he's popular, but I'm still disappointed in my fellow citizens, who still vote for the likable guy instead of the guy who can get the job done (and if they get the latter, it is nothing more than a happy coincidence). I yearn for the day when Americans turn off American Idol and read the occasional newspaper article (even if it's online) and actually demonstrate some familiarity with the very important issues facing our nation.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yay Iowa! Yay Obama!

I just loved Obama's speech to the Washington Correspondent's Dinner. The best joke: Mother's Day is hard for Rahm Emanuel because he's not used to saying "Day" after "Mother." And I especially liked his shout out to gay marriage in Iowa - "like partners around the country we're wondering if we should go to Iowa and make it legal." How awesome is it to have the President of the United States making an approving remark about the expansion of gay marriage?!?!

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

"Mad Pride"

I hadn't heard of this movement until I read this excellent article in Newsweek and I was fascinated (for obvious reasons):

Hall and Icarus are not alone in asking these questions. They are part of a new generation of activists trying to change the treatment and stigma attached to mental illness. Welcome to Mad Pride, a budding grassroots movement, where people who have been defined as mentally ill reframe their conditions and celebrate unusual (some call them "spectacular") ways of processing information and emotion.


Friday, May 08, 2009

"Keeping up with being kept"

An excerpt of this article appeared in The Week magazine, and I was so fascinated that I went to the NY Times site to read the whole thing. All I can say is that there are some seriously delusional people in the world - if you're getting paid to have sex with someone, that's prostitution. And if you're paying someone to have sex with you, or even just to be your companion, then yes, money is a factor in their "attraction" to you. Wake up and smell the filthy lucre folks. This is a sad, sad commentary on our inability to form and maintain meaningful relationships in our consumeristic and transactional society. When you can just buy the qualities you want in a person, and set up a relationship to have an expiration date, what motivation is there to work at making a relationship successful and to mature as a person?


Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Free Range Kids"

I heard Lenore Skenazy on NPR on Wednesday, and then read an excerpt of her book in The Week. I had read her original article about letting her son ride the subway alone at age 9, and she was instantly my new hero.

The media dubbed me “America’s Worst Mom.” (Go ahead—Google it.) But that’s not what I am.

I really think I’m a parent who is afraid of some things (bears, cars) and less afraid of others (subways, strangers). But mostly I’m afraid that I, too, have been swept up in the impossible obsession of our era: total safety for our children every second of every day. The idea that we should provide it and actually could provide it.
[. . .]
What has changed in the English-speaking world that has made childhood independence taboo? The ground has not gradually gotten harder under the jungle gym. The bus stops have not crept farther from home. Crime is actually lower than it was when most of us were growing up. So there is no reality-based reason that children today should be treated as more helpless and vulnerable than we were when we were young.
[. . .]
Here’s a typical letter addressed to me at Free Range Kids: “I understand that you probably don’t want your children to grow up afraid and not able to survive as independent adults,” she wrote. “On the other hand, I think you’re also teaching them that there is nothing to fear, and that isn’t correct. It’s survival of the fittest, and if they don’t know who/what the enemy is, how will they avoid it? There are many, many dangers to protect them from, and it does take work—that’s what parenting is. If you want them to run wild and stay out of your hair, you shouldn’t have had them.”

I agree that it makes sense to teach your kids about danger and how best to avoid it. Just like you want to teach them to stop, drop, and roll if they’re ever in a fire. But then? Then you have to let them out again, because the writer is wrong when she says, “There are many, many dangers to protect them from.” There are not. Mostly, the world is safe. Mostly, people are good. To emphasize the opposite is to live in the world of tabloid TV. A world filled with worst-case scenarios, not the world we actually live in, which is factually, statistically, and, luckily for us, one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Don't make excuses for your husband!

I just loved this hard hitting commentary about Elizabeth Edwards - the writer says don't apologize for your husband, have some dignity. Great stuff:

So, no more lies, Elizabeth. Please, no more claptrap about "better or worse" or the "loving look" on the face of the man who screwed you and bamboozled the rest of us.

We are, after all American woman. And we are not stupid.

We want you to step out of your coached role as "helpmeet" and "long suffering" wife. We want you to be the first political partner in American history to write the first political truth about the political powerless of political wifery.

Eleanor Roosevelt couldn't do it. Jackie Kennedy didn't do it. Lee Hart wouldn't. Heck, Lee actually said, "If my husband's infidelity doesn't bother me, why should it trouble anyone else?"

Good question. These adulterous men trouble American women. They trouble us to our national core.

Why? I'll tell you why. Elizabeth Edwards abandoned her personal ambition to support her husband's political career. She lost a child to early death. Her future was robbed by the constant pain of a devouring cancer that is destroying her bones.

Through it all, she asked only to raise a healthy family in a loving home. She wanted the American dream.

And if a man cannot be true to a lionhearted woman like Elizabeth, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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