Monday, March 31, 2008

"Stuff White People Like" v. Treasury Overhaul of Financial Regulators

Today I had to start my day twice. I didn't have to, but I had the good fortune to be able to start my day a second time. This week began poorly. Somehow time disappeared this morning while I was writing checks to pay bills, and I didn't have any left to make the bed before going to work. I barely had time to dress before going to work. It's a good thing I found time to dress, or my resignation might have been handed to me early. Or maybe that would have been a good thing, since walking into a classroom at 8:30 AM seems to be harder and harder every day. (This is no reflection on my ability to commit to a job; only my ability to commit to a job for longer than a couple or say, four, years or so, which should assure you all that were I elected President of the USA, I would not advocate for the demise of term limits.)

Then my friend got hit by a car while riding her bike to work. No, she got hit by a car being driven by an idiot who not only fled the scene leaving only her first name and mobile number, but who also asked the policeman to hang on a minute when he called her about the "accident," (my ex-husband used to say there is no such thing as an accident; here, I concur) because she was busy being ticketed by Highway Patrol for speeding. I am thankful that my friend does not, apparently, have any broken bones or major damage, and sorry that her week began even more poorly than mine did. While I was waiting for the Future First Man to complete his exercise regimen this evening before we went to take this friend's dogs for a walk, since she is now on crutches, when she is walking at all, I had the opportunity to begin my day again. I took another shower, dressed in clean clothes, made the bed with fresh sheets, and ate a couple little bowls of Cinnamon Crunch.

But, the day still, for reasons I will not bore you with- although I will lament with the rest of you in this country who are upset that it is still eight hundred below zero with 112 mile an hour winds gusting to 170, snowing incessantly, and tomorrow is April?- has progressed in such a way that today's competing subjects for posting aren't really in competition. I would much rather laugh my arse off at this little gem Becky "Badwheat" found and sent, "Stuff White People Like":, than read about how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has laid out a whopping plan to overhaul regulatory oversight of the country's financial system, including expanding the authority of the Fed over financial markets (which will certainly, if it has not already, get some conspiracy theorists in a whirl.) However, since it's more ugly politics, the story does warrant mentioning. So here it is: Today's NYT headlines included this one, "Obstacles Seen As Treasury Proposes New Financial Rules." Find it here:

"Stuff White People Like" v. Treasury Overhaul of Financial Regulators
Stuff wins.

Speaking of winning, Rob RohrTM is the winner of the Icon Contest for his McCain and Obama icons. I am still looking for the perfect one for Hillary. C'mon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whattaya Say?

Yesterday I was talking with my masters students about how we use language to communicate who we are in the world, whether or not it's the written or spoken native tongue; or visual, textile or material art; music or movement; or some other form; regardless of whether we are the creator or the user of a particular means. (I also resigned from my teaching position, which is not really a shame because, for every hour I get to interact in a discussion like this, there are at least three that are filled with activity far less interesting to my spider brain- I have to keep reminding myself...)

Even though our education system is arguably sadly lacking in many ways in this country, at least we seem more adept than some other nations at sending people out into the world who can think for themselves. (Actually, whether this quality is a function of the education system or simply of society, is also debatable.) One of my students from China I have told, "If you learn nothing else from me, I want you at least to learn to think for yourself. Stop before you ask me a question, and ask yourself whether you can answer it on your own." He asks questions about what I am saying or what I expect before I have a chance to finish speaking. And students who come to my classroom from other countries inevitably carry with them a propensity to look for one tidy factual answer to every question that is placed before them, just as they learned in school.

Anyway, I was thinking this morning, if there were one icon to represent each of the three current (major party) presidential contenders, what would best represent each? Tell me what you think. It can be like the Aubergine House contest. The ones I like best can win a prize, like a BBQ on Aubergine House lawn when I get there, or something more immediate for those who prefer instant gratification, like most of America. Let me think about that.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Yesterday on the way to Denver, Nanette asked me why I started a blog, anyway; did I really have all that to say? I told her I needed another mode of communication with my brother; that e-mail, chat, phone and text message weren't enough.
Seriously, though, first, thanks to mi hermano, Perfect Tommy, for keeping me on my toes with his comments. Probably this is retribution for the time I threw the lawn chair at him when we were kids.

Second, the real reason I started a blog (and a grassroots Presidential campaign was finally the impetus to actually propel me to action) was that after two and a half fairly difficult years of trying to navigate an incredibly confusing and draining relationship with one person that took up a lot of my time and energy and severely kirra whared on my confidence as a social creature- yeah, imagine, but my friends saw and remarked with a frequency I stubbornly ignored (you could, on the bright side, think of this trait as a positive one when placing my loyalties to the people of this country, should I be chosen as President, in consideration)- when I'd finally recuperated and gained enough energy and composure to go back out into the world, I thought that a blog would help me re-establish missing ties with friends from all over times and places, possibly create relationships with like-minded people, and also help me reassess who I am, who and what I value, and where I am going in life.

So, there you have it, Nanette, and the rest of you. It's working so far.

We just got back from seeing Doomsday. Yow. If you haven't seen it, be assured this will be one of the bloodier films you see lately (and pretty much gratuitous.) Additionally, it's a fabulous conglomeration of Road Warrior meets Renaissance Fair Gone Bad as a result of Government Battles Virus and Loses. Actually, in this one, Government doesn't battle virus, so much as runs away and leaves people to die. Face it, my Federalist Friends, Government is made of people, too, and people who tend toward selfishness, greed and malice, just like the rest of us. That's almost as far as I'll go on the political philosophy debate because we all know I won't be convinced to change my mind on this matter, any more than I'm likely to change anyone else's mind. I don't know why we all don't take care of each other better personally, rather than hoping for Government to always step in and do things that maybe we could do just as well for ourselves. (Note, this is not a call to eliminate the institution entirely, despite anarchist dreams.)

Today in the Denver Post, for example, there was an article about families who lose members to war and the money the government pays them after this happens. The article mentioned that sometimes people feel like they are being "paid off" for giving the life of a family member. The gist, however, was that for whatever reasons, including filling emotional holes with cash purchases, people often use the money up without looking to the future. One woman called someone... I don't have the paper with me so won't be precise here... from an agency, or perhaps the military, to say that she had spent all the money she'd received after her husband's death, and asked if wasn't there more payment to come? She was told that she had spent all she'd been allotted, and that it looked like her government really couldn't do any more for her. If someone had helped her along the way: a friend, a family member, someone in the community, maybe she wouldn't have felt the need to ask the government for more and would have used what she'd been given wisely.

But back to the movie. The result of the Government's cut and run strategy regarding the virus was that those who were abandoned and were immune set up a crazy carnival life for themselves, complete with Roman style gladiator contests and cannibalism for entertainment purposes, as well as dinner for the mob. Yow. Well, if you haven't read enough now to think that you know enough about this one, go ahead and drop the eight bucks for a couple hours of MST3K-style viewing opportunity. (Although you might want to wait and rent in the privacy of your own home, where you and your viewing partner don't have to lean over constantly to whisper your next brilliant observation so you both can enjoy the moment together.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Insomniac meanderings

Yesterday practically everyone at ELS Laramie showed up wearing green for St. Patty's Day, even Saudi students, who clearly aren't Irish. I wore orange and felt appropriately protestant, though I don't think there is any Irish in my lineage; I don't know for sure. I am fairly confident, though, that there is not a bit of Catholic anywhere to be found. Dad wouldn't allow me to date a Catholic boy in high school and called the Pope the Anti-Christ. I think he's softened his position in recent years, but he is semi-retired and has more pressing issues to consider personally, like the fact he's facing a daunting dearth of financial resources as he ages.

I do know that, despite the fact Future First Man Orlando makes a regular point of referring to my distinctly-Aryan-therefore-Nazi-appearing features, I am of American Indian descent. (I have decided not to fire the First Man. Being President will have its stresses; why would I choose to lose my favorite person to play, smooch and go get waffles with?) With a nod to Republicans, since I so frequently talk about Obama and Hillary in my posts, and have placed links to Progressive sites on my blog, I would like to point out that I said "American Indian," not "Native American," and that former US Senator Al Simpson, R-Wyoming, provided what has served as a mantra for me at times: "Political correctness is like putting ductape over your mouth." (That could be paraphrase and not a direct quote, but you get the idea.)

(I would provide a picture of a distinctly-not-me-looking Penobscot Indian, but they don't seem to be readily available online for copying and pasting. You're all smart enough to go look for yourself, if you're really that interested.)

For the record, Hillary wore green in yesterday's St. Patty's Day parade in Pittsburgh. According to Reuters, Obama claimed in Scranton that he "sort of lost track" that yesterday was the actual holiday, but showed up at a dinner later on in a mint green tie. McCain invited people to join the McCain 2008 Basketball brackets and become eligible to "win" campaign gear ("with the 'luck o' the Irish' on your side.")

Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal Pan Jesus

From the future First Man, with the following subject heading: "I'm Sure This Applies to Your Candidacy, Too."

If you want to see my recently retooled resume, let me know. It's available, online. (I am not only not the first African American President of the Harvard Law Review, I am not African American. I am female, and my wardrobe is not as skimpy as Deroy Murdock of National Review Online claimed the female Democratic presidential hopeful's resume is - If you wish simply to extend blind adulation, accepted.

What I'd like to know right now is, should I fire this man? I hope not.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Barbwire Massacre!

Enough politics. It's time for some fun!

While in Puerto Rico this time around, it was too early for baseball season (though a Yankees --Dad, I bet you still want to kill me for giving them up long ago when they sold their souls to the devil, but I do like to watch Derek Jeter.-- v. Twins preseason game was showing the day before I left.) It looks as though what replaces baseball on bar TV in the off season, aside from Latino soaps, is wrestling. We saw TNA (total nonstop action- as though I knew before googling)- and ads for: "Are you afraid of heights? Are you scared of falling? Over two stories high… Over two tons in mass… It is the ultimate test in TNA Wrestling!"; WWE SmackDown; and ads for Barbwire Massacre!
To the right you can see Sabu and some other Barbwire guys. You can look them up online, like I did.

Wikipedia says: A barbed wire match is one of any number of professional wrestling matches that utilizes strands of barbed wire in some capacity.

1 Types
1.1 Hardwired Match
1.2 Barbed Wire Ropes
1.3 Ropewired Match
1.4 No Rope Explosive Barbwire Deathmatch
1.5 No Rope Explosive Barbwire Steel Cage Deathmatch
1.6 No Rope Explosive Barbwire Double Hell Deathmatch
1.7 Circle of Fear
1.8 Barbed Wire Massacre
1.9 Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match
1.10 Six Sides of Steel Barbed Wire Cage Match
1.10.1 Doomsday Chamber of Blood

You know this is everything you ever wanted to know- and more!- about "professional" wrestling- the "professional" being about "professional" acting. Even the ladies get involved, thrusting their enormous boob jobs, barely encased in pushup bra tops, at each other indignantly and pulling hair. (Come on, ladies; we've evolved beyond that. I have a jacknife.) Or am I naive? Am I the only person in the USA who hadn't until about a week and a half ago seen the efficiency of barbwire fencing chewing large men in multicolored Speedos bearing bulldogs or flames on their asses, and shiny soft PVC boots, so that they convulse semi-convincingly and spurt fake blood out of their mouths? If so, it's a good thing I took the money and time to go check that scene out; every President ought to know her audience.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Future, Babies

I read in The Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2007 issue, a short article called "Mindless Donors." The source is "Why Give to a College That Already Has Enough?" by Steve O. Michael, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 6, 2007 issue. You can read from The Wilson Quarterly, a publication of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, by going to Unfortunately, you cannot access this particular article. I probably could be accused of flouting the law by posting the entire article verbatim here on my blog. But I will do so, and properly attribute credit so no one gets in trouble and the information gets out.

"Last February, when Jerry Yang, CEO and cofounder of Yahoo, donated $75 million to Stanford University, where he is a trustee, it did little to satisfy Stanford's hunger for money. The university is in the midst of a $4.3 billion fundraising campaign, launched last year after it was ranked the top dollar-getter for the academic year 2005-2006, having amassed a whopping $911 million. Harvard took in $595 million that year, and Yale $433 million. The total endowments of the three institutions at the top are truly eye-popping: Harvard's stood at $29 billion as of June 2006, Yale's at $18 billion, and hard-driving Stanford's at $14 billion. Yet the dollars just keep coming. Why do philanthropists continue to donate so generously to the institutions that need the money least?

"There is a natural tendency to give to one's alma matter, allows Steve O. Michael, vice provost of Kent State University. But 'when your alma mater is already fabulously wealthy, it is advisable, indeed wise... to adopt other institutions that can yield better returns,' just as investors redirect their cash to better performing stocks. Michael insists that 'donations to mega-rich universities do not directly improve the academic experience of their professors and students, or result in any qualitative improvement in student learning.' Philanthropic dollars could go a long way toward offsetting the burden higher education places on middle- and lower-class families, especially 'when states' appropriations to higher education are declining relative to the cost of tuition.' The money would help sustain the diversity, represented by more than 4,000 colleges and universities, that is one of American higher education's great strengths.

"Yet according to the Council for Aid to Education, $1.2 billion of last year's $2.4 billion increase in private donations went to the top 10 fundraisers. The process is self-reinforcing, as donations allow the richest institutions to beef up fundraising staffs and encourage them to judge university presidents 'less by the academic success of their institutions and more by the size of donations generated under their watch.'

"In Michael's opinion, donors 'should think of where their dollars will make the most difference,' places where even small donations would mean that 'classrooms can be upgraded, libraries renovated and expanded, and the burden of cost on students alleviated.' At such places, unlike at Ivy League schools or other top fundraising universities, donor dollars have the 'potential to transform the institution,' and fundraising campaigns are 'for genuine academic excellence, not merely the growth of the endowment or the ego of the president.'" (pp. 73-74)

Meanwhile, University of Wyoming fees are set to increase again for both part-time and full-time students. Rah rah. If people have to pay more, you'd think they could at least get better performance from the sports teams.

And Hollywood's population of celebrities with "telltale bumps" and babies seems to be ever-expanding. These will be kids with the cash to go to Stanford or some other expensive, well-endowed school. How many do you think will do it?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Politics as Usual

I'm back. Not that many people were actually paying attention. I don't even know where to begin. It was good to spend a little R & R time with buddy Bill of Burlington, VT, Ward 2 Progressive party politics, and chatter about the old days, old haunts, the people I used to know, and ask "Where are they now?" I was extremely happy to hear that Anthony Pollina is once again making a bid for the Gubnor's Mansion right there in Vermont. I worked on the Pollina campaign in 2000, in which Anthony made a strong third party showing. Go here and check him out:

Puerto Rican politics, I was reminded, are very interesting. If you don't have any idea of the contention surrounding commonwealth vs. statehood and all that, read a little on the history, beginning with Spanish cession of Puerto Rico to the US after the Spanish American War. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson "granted" Puerto Ricans US citizenship. That word warrants quotation marks because it's loaded. Citizenship isn't all it's cracked up to be, in certatin cases.

The primaries in Puerto Rico were held today. Whether or not Obama or Hillary or McCain, or anyone else, such as myself, who might be elected President in November, pays attention to the statehood issue in Puerto Rico is important, but people don't necessarily seem hopeful that the question will actually be resolved. Many candidates run for representative and senator in their own commonwealth legislature, and at least this year, they seem younger than we often see in our own races. I like that. (I'll talk about youth here in the States soon enough, and the plight befalling them.) People place huge speakers in the backs of pickup trucks and drive through the streets, around and around, or park on the sides of roads in rallies, with food and beer, and the speakers blare music and candidates' messages. Sometimes individual candidates do this. Sometimes parades of trucks of competing candidates form parades. I like that, too, even at 7:30AM on a Sunday, even repetivitely at 10PM the night before I am scheduled to get up early and fly home.

People came out in droves to see Bill Clinton speak on Thursday evening and Barack Obama on Friday evening, here in Laramie, in anticipation of yesterday's Wyoming Democratic Conventions, more for Obama than for Clinton, and Obama won the state. I may have to look ahead to 2012 after all. In the meantime, to those of you who think color shouldn't be an issue in this race, I thought I agreed, until Jodie told me Friday night she wants to vote for me because she would like the White House to be purple. I'll take that vote.