Friday, September 28, 2007
The Purposes of Education
ODB had about 20 years on me: he had some amorphous, district-level position in a community at a distance from Laguna. He'd come home from work and mix himself a scotch and soda and stumble down the hill to try to evict me from my idealism. He was also gay, so he liked to mix his experiences, real and otherwise, into the rambling narrative that accompanied my watering of the yard.
But I digress. What Liquid Daddy pitched me into was Ol' Drunken Bob's most memorable speech on the Purposes of Education. Ready? Here they are:
1. Social control
2. Learning to serve the rich.
What a pity that we don't just cut to the chase on education reform and develop tests specifically for these goals. We could do a lot of call and response. We'd save money on books and supplies! The teacher could remind them daily.
"Class? What are we here for?"
"We're here to be socially controlled so we can happily serve the rich!"
"That's right, darlings. Now go to lunch, and be sure to enjoy your GMO-enhanced sloppy joes!"
School mission statements would be no-brainers. Standardized testing could consist of two multiple-choice items, saving school districts thousands of dollars for scoring services. We'd have more money for waging war, since most of our kiddies would be joining the military, anyway.
Whoo hoo! No Child Left Behind!
Here's a Little Something for All You Phony Soldiers Out There
In the meantime, people have been encamped in the sight of Congress, pushing for the end of the war, the impeachment of the unDynamic Duo, justice for the Jena Six, and all manner of worthy causes.
I just didn't know it. And I surf from one so-called progressive blog to another.
Thanks be that my friends Sydney and Jacqueline returned from France this week. I'd still be in the dark if they hadn't. As it is, they're taking the train down for the march and the train back after it's done. That's dedication.
Other opportunities for hell raising are in LA, should you be on the Left Coast. But I'm sure Dusty is on top of all that.
OK, all you phony soldiers... get out and fight for peace!
Phony Soldiers Want Peace
Wow! I said to myself. Phony soldiers! That's pretty devastating, coming from a man with Rush's military credentials.
Wait! What are Rush's military credentials? Gosh! I'll have to look them up!
Rush avoided military service by citing a congenital condition, a pilonidal cyst. That's a little sac deep in your asshole that can become infected if you're not careful. I hope Rush is careful!
Poor Rush and his little asshole. I 'm sure he regrets that he was but one asshole to give for his country. It's interesting that in order to get out of the military, he hid under his asshole.
p.s. We're off to DC this weekend for the peace march, among other things, not that any of the so-called large progressive blogs (Huff Post, Alternet, Kos, Crooks and Liars, etc.) have given it space. Do peace groups have to take out ads to get this info out?? This is ridiculous.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Huneck was once gravely ill, and his golden retriever was a major support in his fight for his life. When he recovered, the connection fed his art, and his art fed the idea of a place to show his gratitude.Hence, Dog Mountain and its Dog Chapel.
The chapel is very funny and sweet, and lots of people snuffle their way around its rooms, since besides its art, visitors are invited to post pictures and memories of their own special critters. We posted a reminiscence of our own, late Sula-dog last time. Very satisfying to share.
We hiked the wildflower trail (mostly asters and goldenrod at this time of year). Maddie found some nice muddy ruts in the old logging road to roll in, which necessitated a swim in one of the two ponds on the mountain. There she romped with other dogs and tried to maintain possession of a tennis ball she'd found on the trail. Sculptures of dogs ...and cats... and birds... are everywhere.
Huneck's art is sweet and whimsical. He has a great series of picture books for kids, along with prints and mugs and tee shirts. Good giftie-stuff for any of your dog-loving chums. I drove my very sleepy dog and spouse home through the darkening colors of autumn. Wonderful day!
(Pictures: top--spouse and Maddie-dog; entrance to Dog Chapel; stained glass window in chapel, steeple required of all New England dog chapels)
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Alice Garcia, the aforementioned adorable grandmother who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died of complications from infected bedsores after Habana Health Care Center was sold to a complex of investment firms that immediately slashed costs by cutting staff, supplies, and services, the better to return quick profits to its investors. Off went the nurses and aides who took care of the patients. Nursing supplies were in smaller numbers, the remaining caregivers told to Make Do. Mold-spewing vents were unserviced and ignored. Emergency exits were blocked.
And when the accounting for who was responsible for the death of Alice Garcia --and the decline of many of her fellow residents-- came in, the answer was, who can tell?
The ownership chart shows no fewer than a dozen different groups. Many nursing homes are part of larger chains, and they are increasingly sold for quick profits by huge investment groups. Profit concerns quickly outweigh those for care. The Byzantine organizational structures, defenders say, became necessary in an industry that was going bankrupt from lawsuits against it.
As we boomers age, services connected to our dear little graying heads are becoming hot properties for people looking to make a buck. And herein lies my objection to our societal academy's current worship of free markets. And as we pay into our modest retirement accounts, who knows? Perhaps our 401ks are actually investing against our future well being.
It's hard to look at the ownership chart in the Times (accessible via the link in the headline) and not feel a hopelessness regarding any meaningful health care reform. Whatever money remains in the Medicare-Medicaid systems are being piped to these elaborate complexes that prize profits over care. Insurance companies, investment firms--all have a stake in what will eventually become crucial stakes for us all.
The Times investigative reporting was admirably and distressingly thorough: reporters combed through data of more than 1200 nursing homes purchased by large investment groups since 2000, and more than 14,000 other homes. They were compared in significant care categories and plotted against national averages. In the current anti-regulatory climate, not only are nursing homes getting the short end of the stick via corporate cost-cutting, there are fewer regulators to keep an eye on care itself.
It's always an interesting experience to read the Times. In one part of the paper are important stories that are the province of the investigative reporting of a great newspaper; in the rest of the paper are lots of ads for and stories of people who have so much money that they can afford homes offered by Sotheby's and helicopter trips into the wilderness to experience 'real' wildness, among other options for all that super-disposable income.
As a culture we have become so distracted by the affluent (and perhaps so eager to be among them) that we can't pay attention to the concerns that are really a part of our ordinary, quotidian lives. A society as affluent as ours ought to place care for all in a different category from quick profits.
I fear for us.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Bring on the Fu Dogs
I went to an auction.
I have a friend, a fairly new but solid friend, who has leukemia. This is heartbreaking. What an incredible person she is: a theologian who turned me on to Jesus of the Week, a woman who can glimpse the wink in the eye of the divine. She and her husband run a theology discussion group that my spouse and I attend, and we revel in the ideas and the open minded, open hearted experience that is being with these wonderful people.
I had been thinking about the next blog for some time, about writing something on how we Americans are in danger of turning into what we despise, about the CIA even out CIA-ing itself, bla bla bla, but then I went to an auction with my friend who has leukemia, and who just got some bad news about her recent blood work.
It was a gorgeous day to go to a country auction, and this one was out in the shadow of Mt. Ascutney, on a big farm with house, barn, and horse rink. The auctioneers were doing their patter, starting with high bids and dropping gracefully to lower ones when nobody wanted to start at $500 for that table.
Susan trotted over to inspect the merchandise and came back lusting for a beautiful Buddha and a couple of marble fu dogs, among other treasures. I am into shedding possessions myself and wasn’t interested in bidding but was happy for the company and the crowd and the breeze, not to mention viewing all the tchochkes of varying appeal. It’s fun to think ewwww when something tacky comes up for bid and then listen to somebody behind you offer $15 for it.
Susan found a statue of a goose–-a wonderful, flying thing that looked ready for anything skyward. She got it. “Bring out the Buddha,” she kept chanting, till finally they did, and she got that, too. Somebody outbid her on a carriage print she wanted for her sister. “Bring on the fu dogs,” she said until they did, and she bought them, too.
Susan and Kenneth lived in Texas and can tell you all sorts of stories about Bush and his cronies there, life in the buckle on the Bible Belt. Kenneth is a Brit who was in charge of interfaith dialogue for the Council of Churches in Great Britain. These two can find the spark of the divine in anybody’s faith tradition, and do. They fairly glow with good will. Jesus would have liked them immensely. Texas must have been quite a revelation to them both.
Susan doesn’t see herself as an unhealthy person. She is golden and vibrant and energetic, full of good humor and grace. She was gleeful with her purchases, after a long week of wondering what the significance of her new counts would be, but a little chagrined, too. “I do feel better,” she said, “but I shouldn’t need things to feel better.”
“It’s okay to need things to feel better,” I said to her. I wanted to buy anything that would make her feel better. I wanted to buy her new blood work, little red corpuscles, perfect balances of the red and the white.
Instead, all I could do was trot along with her and enjoy the day.
I’ve decided that I can’t share this day with the Bushes or the Cheneys or Congress or the candidates or the CIA.
This day is Susan's.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Guess What! Hillary Isn't a Lesbian
It seems Hillary Clinton isn't a lesbian.
I know there's going to be a lot of disappointment out there, but that's just life.
The New York Post got everybody's hopes up. But let me be the first to tell you, boys and girls: you can't believe everything that you read.
Now get on with your lives. You may not have Hillary, but Britney and O.J. are still up for grabs.
Nobody Tells Me Anything
Friday, September 14, 2007
Who's Yer Daddy?
GP: Mr. President, Mr. Commander-in-Chief, it's my pleasure.
W: It is a pretty big thrill for ya, isn't it? Heh! Heh! Workin' directly with the President of These Yew-nited States! Whoo hoo!
GP: Whoo hoo, Mr. President! I'm all a-tingle.
W: Well, let's get on the bull and ride, son. I told the American people I was waitin' for your report coincidentally presented on September 11, and I told 'em I'd do what you told me to do. So here goes! What're you gonna tell your ol' Commander-in-Chief to do? 'Cause I've sworn to Do It. Just tell me--what am I gonna do?
GP: Whatever you want, Mr. Commander-in-Chief.
W: Who's yer daddy, General Straight-Shooter?
GP: You are, Mr. Commander-in-Chief.
W: Who can piss your career down a hole faster than you can say Fallujah?
GP: You can, Mr. President.
W: What'm I gonna do, General. Remember, yer gonna tell me what. Then I'm a-gonna dew it!
GP: Whatever you want, Mr. President.
W: (ruffles Petraeus's hair) Yep, that's what I do best. Whatever I dang well please!
(to the American people, jabs thumbs up) Mission accomplished, once a-gin!
AIDE IN BACKGROUND: Gosh! They're so good together!
Conservative Homophobes Explained
That's a mighty slippery slope they're all on, after all.
When I was much younger and still sort of attractive, I came to the conclusion that work was sexy. I was a teacher and organizer, and I had way too many opportunities. All that idealism, coupled with youth and vigor, and work was indeed sexy! I had to learn that open relationships (or closed ones undercover) were exhausting, unless all you had on your list of to-dos was to make love.
What I didn't figure on for my peers in the Golden Years was how horny waging war was to make the old boys.
Take Joe and Dubya. They can't stay away from each other. All that killing and maiming! It must be quite an aphrodisiac. What with Junior's testosterone supplements and Joe's Bisexual Bipartisan Pheromone cologne, it's hot and heavy whenever they meet. No need for a lot of personal space here!
Best have the Secret Service cordon off a stall or two for a little relief.
War politics are not only sexy, they're just so ... gay.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Larry Craig: No More Mister In-the-Wrong-Place-at-the-Wrong-Time
"I have taken steps to steer clear of police stings by purchasing a bit of technology which will, I think, keep me out of hot spots that undermine my commitment to family values," the Senator said following a hearing to withdraw his plea.
"I of course support our law enforcement agencies in their effort to rid airports of sexual terrorism. We can do no less for the safety and security of our citizens in these troubling times.
"I simply do not wish to fall into scenarios that have nothing to do with my personal practices. It was particularly difficult to see the expression on Mitch McConnell's face when he learned of my plea. Of course, it is generally disheartening to see any expression on McConnell's face. He is definitely not my type, or he wouldn't be if I had a type, which of course I don't."
Senator Craig did not explain how his new headgear would keep him out of airport bathrooms, although members of the League against House Plant Abuse said that they would be filing a request for a restraining order with the court in the near future.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
No Matter How You Dress It Up...
Instead I Google image-searched turd and came up with this little plum for General Petraeus's thumb.
You've really got to hand it to the Bush Administration for bringing the good general back to deliver his "report" to Congress on the anniversary of the admin's pretext to shred the Constitution. Never forget!!
Never mind that Petraeus spent the last month in and out of the Capitol, having a testemendectomy while the administration, after touting the general as a 'straight shooter' whose word would be gospel, claimed its 'right' to 'edit' the report. (Please excuse this excess of quotation mark usage, but do consider the circumstance.)
It's rich. The Prez sez the General will come to DC and tell us what's what: he'll tell me what to do, and I'll do it. Then of course, he summons him early to tell him to tell him what to do so he can do what he wants to. You get all this stuff about what generals are trained to do, as if it were something mystical and beyond the understanding of us all. What they are trained to do, folks, is to obey orders. They're soldiers, after all. They just have to obey the orders of the higher ups, including, in this case, the militarily illiterate Commander-in-Chief.
I am thankful to be tucked away from the world today, mostly working on my novel, while public spaces have no doubt been filled with Moments of Silence, less to remember the dead than to keep us all terrorized by our Terrorists-in-Chief 1 and 2. I am so sorry for all the folks who really lost folks, but what I am feeling is not what they need to hear in their grief:
Remember, this is the administration that fought the commission that prepared the 9/11 report every step of the way, attempting to send its officials to meet on the condition that they not be required to testify under oath. These are the conservatives who have trashed the families of the victims for their desire to get at the truth.
Sometimes, as the blogger from whom I borrowed the above polish said, a turd is just a turd.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I Really Did, Give or Take a Bra
Take last night. I dreamed I was standing around at an appearance of Hillary Clinton. John Edwards was there, sitting on the floor, listening carefully. Lots of vendors were there to sell stuff they thought a Hillary audience might buy. They were a diverse bunch.
Suddenly I decided that it was time for me to Get Involved.
I volunteered to work in Hillary's campaign. I told her that I didn't think that her message was getting across, while in the back of my mind I told myself that, by helping her craft her message, I'd have a better idea of what it was or it wasn't.
Phones rang all around me, the staff was trucked off to San Fernando, California, and allowed to play on giant swings as a way of whipping up creativity. I never did ascertain what Hillary's fundamental message was.
So here I am, with all this energy and no place to put it, since these folks would rather listen to James Carville and the Pollsters (a new doo-wop group?) than us ordinary folks.
Still, I'm filled with post-dream wisdom.
To John Edwards: Don't worry about the haircuts, and stop looking in the mirror. You're plenty handsome as it is. You could get an army buzzcut and still look fine. The best part of you is your soul, anyway. I dreamed that I'd rather work for you.
To Hillary: You're passing up all the best issues in this center-dance. Fire the Carvilles and get some regular people on your team. Just because you bagged Billy doesn't mean you have the rest of us.
To Barack: I really wish you'd waited till you'd done something to distinguish yourself in the Senate. Simply creaming the Jockey shorts of GQ and the lace panties of Oprah isn't enough.
To Chris Dodd: How did you get money out of Paul Simon? Let's hear more from you.
To Dennis K.: I love you, man. I wish that you could get elected and not get shot. This nation is so not ready for you.
To all of you: Take better care of each other. The Repugnicans pretty much do that, and it gives the opposition less to play with in the long run. Don't hand those jerks the best attack ads.
If I knew lots of lyrics to A Chorus Line I'd work on a Repugs musical. What a long, matching- suit bunch of old white guys.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Why It Isn't Safe to Shop in New Hampshire
The man came over to my mommy and me. He shook my mommy's hand and told her he wanted her vote. She turned to sand.
Then he stooped down to talk to me. Whoops. Brrrmp. He made a stinky-wind. I wanted to laugh, but I was afraid.
"What's your name, sweetheart?" he asked.
The day was warm. His hair was shiny in the sun and it hurt to look at him. His perfume made me sick.
I'm shy. I usually let my mommy do the talking, but she had turned to sand. Still, I couldn't think of an answer.
He turned to another man and said, ha ha, shy one isn't she. Well, sweetheart, be sure to be a Republican when you grow up.
Will you change my mom back? We were going to get ice cream, I wanted to say.
I didn't say anything, though. I'd rather hold hands with sand than smell any more of his stinky wind.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
What's Worse than a Closeted Gay Republican? A Straight One (or Two)
Oh dear oh dear oh dear... Now Larry Craig is looking into restoring his glorious Senate career, hoping to slime his way out of the potty-naughty he was headed into, and these estimable people on his right are attempting to guard that august legislative and deliberative body from his presence.
I am sure that Larry conducted himself admirably in the cloakroom. It's all those plumbing fixtures that get him so excited.
I agree with the folks who acknowledge the fundamental silliness of the Minneapolis Potty Patrol. It's a sorry use of public funds to install officers in toilets hoping to hear the proper toe-tapping rhythms. But a letter to the Editor of the NY Times acknowledges that these are signals that have been honed over a long period of time to communicate very specific agendas.
In the meantime, take a look at these noble guardians of Senate decency. I can see 'em on Sunday morning, humble as hell with carnations in their lapels, ready to guide you to your pew.
They're obscene. Mr. Slow-Country-Dance on the bottom (no pun intended) is quite cute by comparison.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Harriet Miers Spotted Over Texas Hill Country
Saturday, September 01, 2007
I'm not terribly proud of my own contributions to kicking him when he's down, but in examining what is my usually very tender heart I've bumped into some undeniable baggage. This man and his former colleagues have contributed immeasurably to the vilification and demonization of a lot of very good people. We've paid a very high price to live according to our passions, our collective sense of authenticity.
In the culture war waged too successfully by the Christian Right and their governmental lackeys in the last decade, gays and lesbians have been portrayed as the very sort of people that, well, Larry Craig behaved as. Frankly, lots of us are much too wholesome to head for the bathroom in search of touch.
Even if Larry Craig is innocent of the charges against him, he knows now the tactics that police will use to elicit confessions both true and false. He knows the indignity that many before him have suffered. Let him read about the Stonewall riots and the lifetime of police jailings and beatings that led up to them.
Since any gay activity that Craig has experienced may be limited to the impersonal or professional, what he doesn't know are all the gay and lesbian people who have responsibly cared for children and ailing parents, all the while being told that their way of life didn't support and perpetuate the family. He hasn't taken the time to know people who live very much in the family spirit, as parents, siblings, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, who take the time and energy to stay close to those they love... or to create new families when rejected by the family of origin, because the need for the continuity and love is so compelling.
Craig doesn't know the pain of being denied access to an ailing partner because the law didn't recognize the union. He hasn't experienced the loss of both person and property as so-called "legal" relatives moved in on the person they'd rejected years ago to the exclusion of the partner. He has never had to recognize his privilege, as most people of privilege are loath to do.
Perhaps Larry Craig will come to understand the revulsion that comes from society to take its place in the dark, self-abnegating pit of the soul. That internalized hatred takes years to wash from many a spirit, and can only happen for most of us when our spirits can breathe free in the sun. Very little of what straight bigots says about us exists in fact, but it's hard to shake all the negativity loose. Our careers, too, sit on the line that Larry Craig so recently crossed.
Bob Dylan has sung, "When you've got nothin', you've got nothin' to lose. You're invisible now; you've got no secrets to conceal."
Larry Craig, may your education begin. You've paid dearly for it.