Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Outside the window to my left, I see very little. I see some concrete, some airplanes...and some more concrete. New Mexico is one of those places that is the home of beautiful mountains, the Taos ski valley, Georgia O'Keefe, and a place as flat and endless as this.
Albuquerque may be kind of a barren looking place, but it does hold the honor of being the only American city who’s name contains three 'U's. It also holds the largest Hot Air Balloon gathering in the world. The Road Runner is the official state bird of New Mexico. In fact the Roadrunner and the Coyote are both New Mexican, which would make sense in their world of rocks and cliffs. That’s kind of what New Mexico looks like. I’m sitting in the airport in Albuquerque, en route to Santa Fe, creepily just killing time. Among other animals, I know that Jackrabbits exist in new Mexico, but according to a postcard I saw while roaming through an airport gift shop, waiting for my colleague’s flight to land, the Jackalope also really exists. Well, the postcard didn’t explicitly claim its existence, but it didn’t deny it either. The front of the postcard had what appeared to be an actual photograph of a Jackalope and the back had some mysterious statement like:
“The Jackalope is said to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. They say it sings in the night with the eerie voice of a human.”
Nowhere in that short, strange description does the postcard mention that the Jackrabbit is a “folkloric” animal. Like Nessie and Bigfoot. The Jackalope is fake, but the Roadrunner is not? I'm not sure an urban gal like me is cut out for all the craziness of the American Southwest.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Lauren and I stopped eating and watched them "play" with our mouths hanging open, horrified. This wasn't a game, the goal was to shoot and kill, but it was clear none of them understood the seriousness of their actions. I wonder, in this relatively quiet Maryland suburb, why playing with cap-guns was an acceptable Sunday activity. The other day I blogged about the Boy Scouts as evil empire, training boys to align bravery and service with intolerance...but theres so much more to raising kids to be good human beings.
I'm unsure if I'll ever have kids--because i realize the challenge of doing so. The importance and difficulty of being a good parent. There are endless decisions that don't seem harmful (boy scouts and cap-guns to start) but every decision a parent makes sculpts the way their kids treat others and treat themselves. Kudos to good parents out there for trying to raise kids with good minds and good hearts.
For parents of kids playing with cap-guns in the suburbs, think about what it means when kids become accustomed to violent behavior, when shooting a gun yeilds no real consequences, and when you are willing to pull the trigger while aiming a fake-gun at your own brother. Think about what happens to kids when the don't think thats a big deal.
Here I am acting as moral authority. I dont mean to be, it just really makes me nervous to see that kinda thing going on. Thats why i try to stick with my original personal dedication to cats, not kids.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Certainly that was a case of Social Justice. The man deserves whatever’s coming to him. For this same reason I like this t-mobile commercial. The older brother mocks his brothers friends, only to his demise.
Well, my belief in social justice could go on its on blog entry, and maybe it will later, but for now, the social justice moment of the day is this article about how the Boy Scouts of America will be forced to pay rent on a new york office property solely because they are an organization which discriminates. Isn’t that awesome? I mean, I really hate the Boy Scouts, specifically because of all their bad (true) press about their discriminatory policies and in light of the liberal powerhouse youth organization the Girls Scouts have come to be. Lets do a little compare/contrast.
The Girl Scouts Mission Statement :“Girl Scouts of the USA is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls—all girls—where, in an accepting and nurturing environment, girls build character and skills for success in the real world. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives, like leadership, strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth.”
And the Boy Scouts: “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.”
In my opinion the GS mission statement sounds great, and the BS mission statement a little lacking. Because I know about the crappy practices of the Boy Scouts I perused their websites a little deeper. A search for “homosexual” on the Boy Scout website yields several hits, most notably a few resolutions such as this one. The page provides the “Position Statement on the Cradle of Liberty Council's Stance Regarding the Leadership Standards of the Boy Scouts of America” the Boy Scouts of America state their position on gay scouting:
“Applications for leadership and membership do not inquire into sexual orientation. However, an individual who declares himself to be a homosexual would not be permitted to join Scouting. All members in Scouting must affirm the values of the Scout Oath and Law, and all leaders must be able to model those values for youth.”
A search on the word “gay” on the GSUSA site produced a lot of hits too…but in a very different fashion. The hits include Girl Scouts who received the honor of National Young Woman of Distinction such as one gal who won for a community project about discrimination:
“Madeline chose to focus on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)community for her project. "I have many close friends who are part of the LGBT community. They have noticed intolerance toward their growing group. Also, I've heard seemingly intelligent people who believe the age-old stereotypes," Madeline shared. With the help of her local church community, Madeline created a book aimed at overcoming stereotypes and, at the same time, sharing the similarities of communication among family units.”
Girl Scouts recognize and support efforts like these from their scouts because, like their mission statement says, are “dedicated solely to girls—all girls”, and not just straight girls.
I have an affinity for Girl Scouting because I found several years of summer employment as a counselor. And, the rumor is true, I was a Brownie. The last summer I spent working at a camp in Massachusetts was the only summer I left behind the simplicity of day camp for resident camp. I was totally shocked by the open mindedness of the organization and the language that was used among staff and in discussion with girls of all ages (the camp served girls from 5 to 17).
Everything was inclusive, focused on equality and comraderie among women of all sizes, shapes, colors and lifestyles. In fact, on the first day of training I can recall my camp director reminding us all that GSUSA was in NO WAY affiliated with Boy Scouts. I was glad about that, knowing their history of discriminating practices. I was so impressed with my experience those three summers that although I no longer work for the org, I certainly have become a champion for their efforts. Girls who grow strong from girl scouts are the girls who later will read and write for Bitch Magazine.
Its unfortunate that the Boy Scouts fall so low on the moral totem pole, because there are not a lot of other options out there for boys. They provide some cool experiences and encourage teambuilding and what not, but unfortunately they also are a bunch of haters. If Boy Scouts provided the sort of encouragement and sensitivity training that Girl Scouts did, I bet our nation would be shaped less by sexism and aggression and more by conversation and acceptance. Sure, Girl Scouts aren’t perfect—and I’m sure all troops and camps aren’t as liberal as mine were. Maybe it wouldn’t change the world, but it would curb a lot of intolerant behavior in young guys that turns into hatred in adults. Because, seriously, we are talking about a lot of boys/young men involved in these programs:
“Cub Scouting, for boys in the first through fifth grades, was serving 1,701,861 at the end of last year. Membership in Boy Scouting, for 11- to 17-year-olds, was 922,836 on December 31, 2006..This high-adventure program for young men and women ages 14 to 20 was serving 244,266 members on December 31, 2006.”
Thats 2,868,963 young folks a year participating in Boy Scout Activities. There are 3.7 Million Girl Scouts, luckily. Do you really want to give your money to or put your kid in the hands of an organization which discriminates against gay youths and adults? Maybe Johnny should take up the guitar instead.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My new fascination with the world of comic books (and their eerie reflections of reality) is the article I read this morning in the Washington Post about Captain America. I assume you all know of Captain America in some fashion, his patriotic persona is a staple of American memory. Some of you may know that Captain American took a bullet in a 9-11/Patriot Act/Discrimination related plot last spring which ended his 66 year long life in the Marvel Comics Universe. Not to worry, as usual in comics, Marvel is bringing him back to life. Comics often take the opportunity to reinvent characters in situations like this, frequently to boost readership. Its no different here. This year, when the Cap’n comes back in January he’ll be packing heat. That's right, carrying a gun. Our beloved patriotic American hero will no longer be armed with only bravery, honesty and wit. He'll also have a holster on his hip.
What does this decision to put a weapon in the hand of a Good Guy say about America? Even Comic book heroes can’t survive out there without carrying weapons? It’s an NRA wet dream that speaks to youth and adult comic book readers everywhere with a bold statement: Love Your Country. Wave The Flag. Carry A Firearm. Can Captain America still go through metal detectors or fly on an airplane? Isn’t it illegal to carry a concealed weapon in some (most?) states? Does that make CA a criminal?
In a country ravaged by gun violence and school shootings from Columbine to VA Tech , do we really need children dressing and acting as their favorite comic book characters and brandishing weapons in efforts to be super heroes? I know that juveniles are not the only readers of comic books, but they certainly constitute a percentage.
The article, by Post staff writer David Betancourt, quotes Captain America’s current writer, Ed Brubaker, talking about the character's military background. I’m just not sure I agree with Brubaker that a character who carried a machine gun in the 1940’s would still use a weapon to defend Americans today:
"I've leaned on the 'soldier' part of super-soldier," Brubaker says. "If you look at Cap in the 1940s, they have him with a shield in one hand and a machine gun in the other, and Bucky [the Captain's World War II teen sidekick] has a flamethrower. "In the '80s they started changing his history, saying he'd never killed anyone. A guy who fought in World War II isn't going to care if terrorists die. I've always approached the book as a superhero espionage comic"
If that isn't Americana, I don't know what is. "A guy who fought in World War II isn't going to care if terrorists die."-- What? Really? Maybe Captain America is heading to Iraq for 18 months like actual soldiers. Or maybe hes just going to bug some phone lines, and check some library records and find his own terrorists. Either way, soldier/superhero/gut-toting civilian, the gun shouldn't be the primary focus of the new Captain America, just as Batwoman's homosexuality wasn't in DC Comics last year, but Marvel is certainly making a statement about their vision of a 21st Century superhero. Captain America will now be able to do more than protect and defend this country, apparently he'll also be on the offense, stalking the Marvel Universe hunting down the "bad guys".
Friday, October 12, 2007
I don't hate Hillary. I hate Washington and Washington took over Hillary's body a long time ago. Sure, I think she USED to have a soul, but the poor woman has become so embroiled in the political machine that, in my mind, we might as well elect R2D2 to office. Well, thats not quite the same, because I think at one point R2D2 might have cried real human tears. Or maybe that was the Small Wonder.
Either way, I enjoy Obama's inexperience. Politics have not corrupted this man's soul just yet, theres time to have someone leading this country that is neither evil or an android. Obama's enemies attempt to make him look foolish when he says optimistic things, or when he demonstrates that he actually cares about people. When he makes statements that don't agree with typical US foreign policies. I think its refreshing that his responses stray from the programed speeches of most folks in DC.
If Hillary wins the nomination I will support her. I might even get a Hillary t-shirt. If she wins the presidency I will be happy to live in a country which elected a woman president (even though we are waaaaay behind majority of the world, ie, Argentina). I think she'll do a decent job. She supports women's rights, and civil unions. Unfortunately, she also supports No Child Left Behind (to the best of my knowledge)...but maybe she'll get over that.
So, in conclusion. I don't hate Hillary. I just prefer Obama.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
But I wonder. Why, even now before the primaries, before the nation has a nomination for either party, are all the other candidates completely forgotten?
If American elections were legit, and really about issues and beliefs and the future of our country, this would not be so. Elections are about money, primarily, and every CNN or Washington Post article confirms this. Whoever raises the most money per quarter is apparently the best candidate. I don’t like it, but I have come to accept it.
My politically savvy friend Mike, also an Obama supporter sent me this quiz. (I promise it is better than the Are You a Good Kisser quiz I mentioned yesterday.) I wasn’t necessarily shocked by its results, but saddened that the only candidates (Obama and Clinton) I have to choose from don’t fall anywhere near the top of my list in issue compatibility. Solely based on issues, I should be out there, parading around DC wearing my Dennis Kucinich t-shirt.
The thing that I’m afraid of, that I think all democrats are afraid of right now, is that through some sort of short-circuit in the mind of the nation, Republicans might end up on top again. So we band behind our chances at winning—even if they might not be perfect for us. We have to show a common face. We can’t let votes slip to third-party candidates or moderate Republicans. And if we want Obama, we have to show Hillary our loyalty to him will not waiver.
I wonder if I would marry someone I didn’t love (even if I could divorce them after 4 years) just because I was afraid I’d get stuck with someone I couldn’t stand? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d gamble with my own happiness that way, but for some reason I’m not considering that the person who becomes the president of the United States DOES affect my happiness. The next president will effect my ability to get married to whomever I chose, how many more friends of mine will risk their lives overseas, how many children in my (future) classroom who will have no insurance. It will be this president who says whether or not I can have an abortion if I believe it is in my best interest or if my own health or the health of my family can be improved with stem cell research. The next four years do matter. My vote for president does matter. Is a Democrat better than a Republican in my mind? Yes. Is Obama better than Hillary? Definitely. Might Kucinich be better than both? He probably would be, if he ever had a chance.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
My sister and I are different. I think thats easy to say. Shes an orginized, logical, planner and I am an emotional, creative slob. Fully explaining these differences could take up its own blog, or could pretty simply be summed up with that clichéd statement: “I’m right brained. She’s left brained.” What does that even mean? I hear people I work with saying: “I don’t get along with Penelope, she’s an INFJ.” INFWHAT? But I can buy it--classifying yourself in some kind of category is easier than seeing everyone as so different and distant. That would really be a lonely world. But are these tests and theories an effective way to find our similarities?
Sure, I was labeled as a creative, right-brained kid during high school and I have come to associate myself with a certain brand of logic. The same way that I look at my behavior sometimes based on my Zodiac sign. To me, following the Zodiac or theories about left brain and right brain help me explain how things work and why things happen. Its maybe an alternate route for believing in something.
I've read Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud as they consistently peppered my literary theory texts in college. I never really understood. The Myers Brigs test takes its theory from the work of theories of Jung. I’ve taken all those tests: Myers Brigs and Emotional Intelligence and the Are You a Good Kisser tests (I am). I guess, at this point, the right brain/left brain thing is no longer a debatable theory, although I guess scientists are a little to left brained to understand the possibility. Do I totally believe it?
I get along well with writers and artist types, but I also have plenty of relationships with law students, accountants and business folks (like the sister). I’ll agree that those relationships do have a strong sense of Yin and Yang, but do we really have different learning styles? Do we see things differently? I'm not sure I believe it, because according to this information I’m supposed to have spacial perception too, but I guess it can’t all be correct.
If I wasn’t totally sure about the duel between the creative and the logical before I think I’ve been swayed by this image.
Without a doubt, that dancing lady is moving clockwise, but I’ve heard from my trusted source, the provider of this link, that not everyone sees that.
What do you see?
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I read about this abomination in the Washington Post yesterday. I think the article is a touch snarky, am I wrong? I love a liberal slant.
I'm all for technology- blogs (like this awesome one!) and wikis and all that stuff, and, of course, I approve of transparency in the government. The new "US Department of State Official Blog" attempts to do just this. Apparently the Mission of the Blog is this: "To create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. " Do I think these things are coming together in the form of Dipnote? My jury is still out, but here's what some Dipnote readers have said in the week or so this blog has been in action:
"David in Connecticut writes:How can there be such a thing? The State Department has never been known to tell a story straight. It's manipulated by politicians and special interest groups. It's the government's version of "Howdy Doody". Posted on Fri Sep 28, 2007"
"Joe writes:We'll see if this is gonna be another partisan hack job. Posted on Wed Sep 26, 2007"
"Athena in California writes:Regardless of the definition of "dipnote" - it's a very stupid name for a government blog. Blog = good idea. Blog name = very bad idea. "
"Mason in U.S.A. writes:This whole idea is dopey. If you want a blog, do it as a hobby on your own time. Get back to work. Incredible!"
N.S. writes:Given that the U.S. government (and every Department within it) has lost virtually all credibility, do you really think this, aptly named, DIPNOTE blog is going to change anyone's opinion or more importantly believe the information on here anymore than we already don't? Is our tax money paying for this drivel? Bring on the propaganda! No one takes you people seriously anymore, except maybe the people dying at the hands of your policies. Posted on Wed Oct 03, 2007
Jennifer in Michigan writes:You have GOT to be kidding!! I'd tell you what I really think of your circa '99 great blog experiment, but I'm afraid of being wiretapped and put under surveillance. Or worse. I'm sure this will be a smashing success, just like every other single thing this administration has gotten its hands on. Posted on Wed Oct 03, 2007
Ok, I’ll admit it. I took only the hilariously negative comments from the maiden post of the Dip. I’m not being biased. I just really hear what these folks are saying. Can the US government really expect to get in with the younger generation by blogging? Is that their ultimate goal? To groom new Republicans? Its too bad for them that the younger generation is already decently educated and completely fuming about foreign policy (and domestic policy for that matter). Having this blog just makes us feel like the folks in government are just reading "HTML for Dummies" and talking about embedding videos around the water cooler as one more distraction from accomplishing anything for the nation or the world. Damn it, did this just become a political blog?
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
In fact, the only part of this that is scarier than living in a world free of Gingers is this: What will happen to the poor child born red-headed in 2134? The article makes mention of the possibility of a freak Ginger reoccurrence:
The poor Ginger child is bound to get stoned by mobs of blonds and brunettes for her uniqueness! There will be news cameras and reporters everywhere like always when word gets out that there is a new Worlds Oldest Woman, or Tallest Man, or the Biggest Baby or whatever. The kid will live quite a celebrity life (if she survives the stoning). Sometimes red hair is the only reason some one ever gets famous. I think Ms. Lohan is a prime example of this occurrence.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I'll admit. It is hilarious. And embarrassing (for everyone, really), but shouldn't the real question be what the hell is this poll? Who are these Americans? 1/5?!?
According to Nationmaster.com the United States Population, as of July 2007, was 301,139,947. So, 1/5 of that is 60,227,989.
Are there really more than 60,000,000 people in this country who can’t find the United States on a map?
This brings me back to the Mental Floss article. Although I think locating the country in which we live on a map is essential, I can admit don’t actually know a lot of things about the United States. Maybe sleeping through AP US history in high school really has affected my mind...and maybe my sense of national pride, too. For instance, I don't know all of the presidents of the United States. Not even close. I barely know who the president of the United States is now--but that's because he rarely makes an appearance here in the District. Reading the Mental Floss article, which included some supposed presidents named Chester Arthur and John Tyler, among other names that rang a very faint bell in my ear (like the guy the giant dam near Vegas was named after and another who reminded me of the catchy chorus repeat “This D.J. be Warren G”), really made me think about how far removed I am from our nation's history, and how poorly I would do on the worst, most addictive television show ever, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader. Fifth graders wipe the floor with us on US History.
Peter Gibbons: Yeah.
Bob Slydell: Great.
Peter Gibbons: Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door - that way Lumbergh can't see me, heh heh - and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour.
Bob Porter: Da-uh? Space out?
Peter Gibbons: Yeah, I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.
I mean, seriously. How many people do you hear talk about their jobs like this? Can we really expect to feel fulfilled when 40 hours (+) a week are spent like Peter Gibbons?
So what would you do if you had a million dollars? (and I'm thinking something a little different than Lawrence's response of "two chicks at the same time.")
Monday, October 1, 2007
Google Launches 'The Google' For Older Adults
September 26, 2007 Issue 43•39
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—The popular search engine Google announced plans Friday to launch a new site, TheGoogle.com, to appeal to older adults not able to navigate the original website's single text field and two clearly marked buttons.
"The Google will have all the same information currently found on regular Google, but with the added features of not stealing your credit-card numbers or giving your computer all kinds of viruses," said Rick Tillich, The Google project director. "All you have to do to turn the website on is put the little blinking line thing in the cyberspace window at the top of the screen, type ' thegoogle.com,' and press 'return'—although it will also recognize http.wwwthegoogle.com, google.aol, and 'THEGOOGLE' typed into a Word document."
Tillich added that he hopes the site will soon replace Yahoo Internet Website.com as the most popular search engine for users over 55.
Visit the Onion Article here