Friday, June 5, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Took my son, J, out to the license place which, thanks to the rewarding of contracts to a politically connected rich guy who happened to own land out by bedroom community Ankeny, is now located far, far away from our house - and from the homes of impoverished Des Moines residents as well - to get his driver's permit, or, failing that, his official ID. As instructed on the web site, we took his birth certificate and his social security card with us. Well, this copy of his birth certificate, which we've been using since his birth, was not good enough for the woman behind the counter at the DOT. We'd stood in line for about fifteen minutes with the not-so-great and very genuinely unwashed. To add insult to injury, this was our second drive out there because my son forgot both social security card and eyeglasses and didn't discover it until we'd pulled into the parking lot, so we had to return home to retrieve the items. Also, we'd had to take the backroads route, because I got a flat tire last night and we were driving on the donut.
On the plus side, it's been an absolutely gorgeous day, so the drive wasn't as hideous as it could have been. We got home and left again with A to get J's work clothes for his new job and to get a new shoe for the car. We wound up having to replace both of our extremely worn front tires because they were both toast. We went to a very dinerish maid-rite where I had a not-so-good fish sammich - I've again quit eating meat excepting fish - and then wandered around Valley Junction window shopping. Saw a great pink spiral Hocking cereal bowl at an antique store (junk shop) and when I have a buck or two I shall return and purchase it, if it's still there. (No green spiral Hocking, sadly.)
So, Monday I have to take the kid to be drug tested for his new job, and we'll also have to get him a proper birth cert at the county recorder's office. This will not be fun, most probably. The drug testing place is way out in Urbandale. We can't get the driver's permit on Monday, because they are closed, so we'll be taking another trip to Ankeny on Tuesday, I guess. Wheeeee! In the meantime, I've got to somehow replace my social security card which I've managed to lose and make some serious attempts at job hunting.
At least the kid is employed. He's working for the devil, it's true - not Mall*Wart, though, I'd shoot him in the foot first - but a place that drives local record companies out of business by undercutting them on price. He's thrilled, and as a serious computer geek will be enjoying his employee discount to the max.
Anyway, I'm going to have to do some serious time organizing and agendaing and just thinking about it all makes me tired.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
It is an almost impossibly beautiful day here today. Sixty-six degrees, sunny, light breeze, and all the flowering trees are abloom. The forsythia is done, but the crab apple, plum, and lilac are all in flower. The daffodils are ending but the tulips are now blazing away. The lawns are full of golden dandelions and violets, and there are bluebells in the trashy lot behind our apartment house, making the area almost lovely. Soon there will be peonies and iris, and the bridal wreath is gracing many a path already.
I love this time of year, almost as much as I love October in Iowa, the most beautiful month in my opinion. It's glorious. On days like these, I wonder how anyone could forsake the glory of the returning spring for a seasonless climate. In fairness, I even wonder this in January, when the snow lies deep and there is just the tiny splash of red that is our resident cardinal to mark the grey, black and white plane. The only time I really don't like is when it's 90+ degrees with matching humidity. That I do hate.
But it's good for the corn. Or so they say.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
After the 7th of May I shouldn't have anything to do with my evenings but screw around on Teh Intert00bz! I can't wait.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
which is as a shifty and vain provincial lawyer orbited by a growingly despised resource of fools, one indeed that seems to be purifying through self-attrition into an n-dimensional hyperturd of elemental Duh.
My cap is doffed. Well done, sir! I say, well done.
Update: In the same thread, one of the best comments I have seen in a while:
James K. Polk, Esq. said,
March 25, 2009 at 5:25
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.
The other, of course, involves orcs.
Friday, March 20, 2009
The fact is, as good ol' Gary would say, I just don't like the hurly burly of daily commerce. I'm happiest in a library, researching and reading or just dreamily looking out the window. I would be pleased to spend the rest of my life doing case law research. With Westlaw and Lexus, I would never really need to leave my house, but I actually wouldn't mind going to work if work was located in a library, especially a library minus rugrats.
Well, I doubt I shall be able to arrange this, at least not right away. I just hope I can get my foot in the door at a civil rights, immigration, or defense firm. I really, really don't want to work for Teh Man.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My first experience of Steve Earle was a short story he wrote about a funeral and the country music drug culture, I think it was called A Eulogy of Sorts. I got interested in him from that story, and read up about him. Great politics. Then I gave the music a shot. I like quite a lot of it, although some of it is a little too country for me. But the following song is always gonna be on my short list for favorite songs ever:
I 'spect he was still sort of junked out when he did this show. He sure was fine looking when he was younger. At any rate, enjoy!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
So you explain to them that you can't be "mad at God" because you don't believe there's a god at whom to be mad. Then they think you must be really sad. "Don't you feel empty inside?" they ask. "No," I say truthfully, adding, "Actually, going from agnostic to atheist was the most freeing moment of my life. Going from wanna-be believer to agnostic was the second most freeing moment."
The simple truth is that my mind was not at peace when I was trying to make myself swallow some mythology or believe that there was some great force moving behind the scenes of our day-to-day existence, looking down on us and noting every naughty thing we do as well as every good or holy thing we do so as to jot it down in some sort of cosmic ledger. My brain was able to clearly recognize that this was stupid, not to put too fine a point on it. To try to force one's mind to believe things that are clearly against reason is painful.
Of course, there was never any chance that I could believe in any of the actual mythology of any religion. Anyone who can actually swallow the Noah myth, for example, is either nuts or a total moron. Anybody who thinks the earth is only 6000 years old is either stone ignorant where science is concerned or is afflicted with a critical case of denial. I knew this when I was a young child. How anyone swallows this silliness is impossible for me to understand. I don't mean to pick on Christians alone, mind you. All creation myths are silly, although some are much prettier than others.
I liked the aesthetics of Catholicism when I tried to be one during my teens. I loved the candles, the incense, the flowers, the liturgy. Loved the responses from the pews to the priest's "peace be with you," all those voices replying "and also with you." I never had a negative experience in the church. But I never believed in it. Not even a little bit. Could not. Later, when I tried to embrace Wicca, I had somewhat better luck. It makes much more sense to honor nature and accord holiness to the earth that nurtures and bears. The sun, the sky, the moon and the rain are, after all, real things which can be observed and tested, and they hold an obvious power. If you grant the first absurdity, that these things are sentient and aware of us individually, the idea that you might be able, through some sort of worship or incantation, to harness or direct that power for your own ends seems a fairly reasonable one.
But it's granting the first absurdity that trips me up. I'm unable to swallow it, and ultimately I really believe that is a good thing. Voltaire said, "As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities." This is true. If one can convince people that some invisible force exists that holds the keys to paradise, then those people can be convinced that this force wants them to kill people who hold a different belief in another invisible force. That few people see what a dangerous and terrible thing this has been for humankind is, to me, frankly terrifying.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
At any rate, I devour movies, watching at least two a week. I’m a movie junkie. If I like something, i’ll watch it over and over. (Just lately, it’s been Memoirs of a Geisha.) I almost never dislike a movie. I have the ability to suspend disbelief and enter into the spirit of the thing, something I can also do with literature but can't do at all in real life. I almost always like the actors, too. Actually, I suspect all the hate-on for Cruise and Pitt is largely the ol’ green-eyed monster. Cruise is at least underrated and Pitt is excellent.
Really, I don’t understand this need for everything to be Le Plus Bon Grande High Fucking Holy Hoity Toity Beaux Artes all the time. What’s wrong with just letting go and getting into a story?
There are people who would have you believe that all they ever read is Tolstoy and Pynchon. We know you’re secretly reading that Dean Koontz novel. You stayed up all night just last week to finish that Jennifer Cruisie story, too, didn’t you? S’okay, we understand.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Now I'm trying to get a reasonably good grade at the dreaded math and work my internship. My other two classes are easy - legal ethics is only an hour a week in class and I have an art class which is more of a treat than an obligation - so it's just the math and the stress of the new internship wearing me out. Not that the internship is stressful in a bad way, I've really enjoyed it so far and it's an amazing opportunity. If only I got paid for doing it!
But I've been busy and have become even more neglectful of this blog than I anticipated I would be. I'm going to try to post more. I think it will be good for me, discipline and all that. It's much easier to go read Sadly,No! than to actually do something myself.
I've kind of been in the doldrums since the election, with the excitement of victory having peaked and the cold reality of the horrendous wreck this country is right now settling in. As we knew they would, the Republicans are fighting Obama every step of the way on everything he's trying to do. I had a nice little burst of the old thrill earlier, though. I had my eye half on the T.V. and saw Air Force One on the tarmac, stairs extended. I automatically cringed, so used am I to seeing the Chimperor swaggering down those stepss, and it was a moment before I thought, no, not the Chimp, not now or ever again! Such a relief to see Obama exiting that plane! I should spend more time appreciating that.
There is another good piece of political news, and I'll try to make a post about it sometime this weekend. Iowa's horrible Congresscritter Steve King, he of the Border Fence to the Moon, is planning to take a run for governor. His evisceration will be a joy to watch, an absolute gift of opportunities to snark and point and laugh until the tears stream down my cheeks. Once he's outside his hick ass district he won't get more than one vote in a hundred. Joy, joy, joy! I await with great anticipation.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
This isn't fashionable. I remember a time when drinking heavily was kewl. Well, ya know, I've done my time with fucking fashion. I did a lot of coke back in the days when coke was all the rage. I did a bit of meth too, if it was clean and the fount wasn't tainted too much with white trash. But you know, there is this whole ethic now that demands that you feel somewhat ashamed if you allow yourself to become drunk, or overcome by any mind altering thing. Screw that.
These things come and go. There's nothing wrong with getting fucked up, and I don't really give a rat's ass anyway. As long as you don't die - and even if you do - whose fucking business is it anyway?
Anyhow. I've been doing some thinking tonight. I've been wondering if there is any truth to the idea that our attitudes toward politics is inbred. I'm Irish. I've never lived in Ireland, and my founding ancestor left Ireland to get the fuck away from the faith and the violence. But let me watch a movie, say the Devil's Own, and I'm rooting for the IRA guys to kill the loyalist fucks to the last man. Me, Ms.Pacifist, screaming out to KILL HIM, SHOOT HIM! I swear I can feel my blood start heating up. What the fuck? Let me watch a non-violent Irish movie, for example The Secret of Roan Inish, and before the goddamned thing is over, tears will be running down my cheeks.
El Che was part Irish. He was a Lynch, from County Galway on his dad's side. He also had Basque blood. Sounds like a genetic prescription for a refusal to accept the status quo, if nothing else. Was his revolutionary streak inherited? Or was it just handed down from generation to generation by family tradition? It's interesting to speculate. Hard to prove.
Maybe we Irish are really all crazy. Maybe it's genetic. I'm listening to my beloved Mark Lanegan tonight. Talk about crazy Irish people. I love that man. There's a strain of self-destruction in his music and lyrics that speaks to me. I don't believe in woo, and I don't believe in ethnic predisposition per se, but
Aw fuck it. Judge for yerselfffff.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Now shit like this from Larry Kudlow, Asshole Capitalist Porker Extraordinaire, makes me yearn for bloody revolution, for the people’s justice, for a new Ernesto Guevara de la Serna to rise up and depose those monsters of selfishness. And yet, I’m pretty sure that if that were to happen, there’d be a lot of horrific collateral damage. I also think things would have to get way, WAY worse for the violence and damage of overthrow to be truly justified, not to mention the un-plumbed depths of just how much worse things would have to become in order to stir the American people out of their couch-bound apathy. I have no wish to see people fleeing burning cities on foot with a few tattered belongings strapped to their backs. I don’t want my son starting out on his life-path with no real hope for a decent future.
I do think that we’re going to have to rethink what a decent future entails. The way of life we’ve been maintaining at the expense of the rest of the planet was unsustainable, in more ways than one. I think that this is mostly a good thing. It's not going to be easy, though. I'm willing to give the Obama administration a chance to straighten things out. If the other guy had been elected, I might be singing a different tune about what we need to do in order to clean house. But Obama seems to have some ideas; I'm willing to bet he knows more about how to fix things than I do.
One thing I really think they ought to do - also something they'll never do because it isn't politically expedient - is pump a LOT of money into welfare. Return to the days of decent monthly cash grants and stop forcing parents to work before the kids are in school full time. Every dime of that money, every last red cent, will go for goods and services, much of it local.
And while I'm dreaming, maybe we should nationalize Mall-Wart. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ..............
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I've been trying not to get my hopes up for so long that it feels like the safe way to live. I'm not going to do that anymore. I'm going to let myself off the leash and live a little. Sure, there will be disappointments down the road, but what the hell ya gonna do? Let the sun shine down.
And how about this? Like liquid gold:
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
January 15, 2009 at 17:29 Seriously, I want to protest the class-biased cheapshot about trailer parks. Not all of us out here are yuppies in condos; for some of us, trailer parks are the only affordable housing.
Bigoted nonsense like that is one reason some working-class Americans don’t vote for Democrats: because somehow some of us lost track of the idea that poor whites aren’t all ignorant crackers, and decided that taking potshots at rednecks wasn’t prejudiced the way Republicans are when they take cheap shots at, well, the entire human race
I couldn't agree more, and this is more than a little pet peeve of mine. We joke a lot about the Rethugs calling liberals "elitists," and it's true that it's a bit more than ridiculous when they start calling Obama an "elitist" while giving gazillionaire John McCain a pass. Of course, this is because they think that all red-blooded Amurkans are uneducated ignoramuses and that Obama's status as Harvard Law graduate and editor of the Law Review fully qualifies him for elitist status, but that is a subject for another day.
No, today I am talking about the frequent prejudiced references to people, traditionally the people who benefit most from liberal social policies, as rednecks and mouthbreathers and pigfarmers, and the places that these folk come from as hillbilly country and flyover land. This does not endear us to these people, the very people we should be attempting to reach not only for the benefit of the Democratic Party but for the benefit of the workers! This is why the Republican frothing about "elitists" can be very effective, because there is truth in it.
The Republicans have exploited gaffes made by Democrats with some success. Who can forget the anger over John Kerry's "stuck in Iraq" comment? The unfortunate thing is that there is truth in Kerry's statement - when you have no hope for the future, a stint in the armed forces might look like a step up from poverty, even in a time of war. Same thing applies to the "bitter god guns" comment. True, true, true, but come on! Is insulting people really the best way to win them over?
I hear people who should know better claim we don't really need to win them back, these disaffected union Democrats, the poor southern Whites whose lives were bettered immeasurably by Johnson's Great Society, the small farmers who were never ours but should have been, if only they'd been reached in the right way. No, just let them go, let them vote Republican, these wise upper middle class liberals say, just jettison these ignorant, superstitious, religious fools.
I grew up with these folks, although my family was never of them, precisely. We were well-read people and politically aware, although no one in our immediate family went to college and no one worked at a desk job until the most recent generation. We came from Irish ancestors who were Catholic in Northern Ireland but were utterly secular in the United States. My grandparents were leftists and if Roosevelt hadn't come along might have been violently so. They suffered during the Depression, trying to farm some hilly, shitty land south of Ottumwa, Iowa. Then my grandfather got a government job and became, as so many Irish in America did, a good Democratic Irish American Civil Servant.
My grandfather and my mother argued a lot during the sixties. My grandfather did not like the radical Blacks and the "hippies" and my mother wholeheartedly did. However, my gramps never considered leaving the left because he knew, and frequently said, that the Republicans had never done a thing for the working people. I remember how angry he used to get about farmers who voted Republican, shouting at the top of his voice, "The goddamned Republicans never did a thing for farmers!"
But many Democrats of my grandparents' and parents' generations did leave the party. They left it for all kinds of reasons, but largely because they felt that they were marginalized and squeezed out, left behind, in fact. Indeed, one the worst of the evil things that the Republicans have done and had the greatest success with was breeding hatred of labor unions. Democrats began to disassociate themselves from labor because of negative public opinion, a really stupid move and one that paved the way for Reagan's union busting success.
(As an aside, the unions are not entirely blameless in this, particularly with the less-than-welcoming attitude exhibited in the past towards female and minority workers, but the welfare of organized labor is so crucial to the success of left policy that it should never have been marginalized. The focus should have been on fixing the problems with the unions - particularly the hierarchy - not on scrapping the goddamned concept, a prime example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.)Well, we all have our prejudices, and they are hard to leave behind. Many Democrats, particularly those of us from the working class, have had to overcome cultural bias against gays and Blacks and atheists, although I was happily spared this thanks to my mother. But when certain well-educated, financially secure Democrats put down working class people and the poor, they are acting on prejudices, no different than any other prejudices. I've long tried to fight these stereotypes; for example, I used to try to correct wrong-headed perceptions of Iowa. Sometimes I still engage. The vast majority of the good people on the liberal blogs I frequent get it, and know that the stereotypes are simply that, but there are more people than you'd like to think who simply refuse to believe that their dearly held prejudices might be, well, wrong. (I've seen the same phenomenon among supposedly enlightened liberal Southerners who hate Catholics and believe the worst about them, in the face of all evidence to the contrary. To them, there are no Catholics but Bill Donahue Catholics, and the liberal-birth-control-using-evolution-understanding-science-respecting-Andrew Greeley-Phil Donahue Catholics don't exist at all! You'll never convince them otherwise, either. As far as they are concerned, all priests are child molesters, and that's that. I've given up on arguing that, too.)
I'm guilty of stereotypes as well. I'll admit to having to fight my suppositions about Southerners and folks from Utah, Nevada, Montana, and eastern Washington as a bunch of militia-joining neo-Nazis, and nevermind the prejudices I have against Texas. (As an example, my only interest in organized sports is to always hope with all my heart for the defeat of Texas A & M and the Dallas Cowboys.) I do know that my stereotypes are wrong, that those perceived "typical" residents of those states are no more universally true than are the stereotypes of residents of my much maligned state. I fight these suppositions, and I think I've become mostly successful at bringing myself up short when I find myself strolling along those same tired paths. It's important, I believe, to do so.We've got to stop this divisiveness and cut off this snobbery. We've got to do better at making poor and working class White people see that the policies of the left are of benefit to them, that they don't have to view Latinos or Blacks as the competition for America's scraps. Until we can get all the poor and working class to see that there is power in unity and that the right wing seeks to create division for its own ends, we will never have an egalitarian society. We will never succeed at this if working class people see us* as a bunch of snobs who sneer at them and their concerns, not only because they are encouraged to do so by the right wing but because we help reinforce that view by snidely referring to the Midwest and the South as big ol' blocks o' morons.
*I include myself in the "us" category only because of my very leftist politics, my love of learning and my atheism. I consider myself an anarcho-syndicalist by inclination, a socialist for practical purposes, and am a member of the Democratic party only because I am also a pragmatist. I am, however, a member of the working class in all respects: I've never made more than $34,000 a year, dropped out of high school, got a GED, am on my second run at an associate's degree at the tender age of 47, am a single parent, and, friends and neighbors, I have actually lived in an honest to god trailer park.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
As I couldn't get any snark out of Little Debbie Snack Cake's spewings, I turned to "Dr." Mike Adams. While his Townhall column was truly ridiculous, it lacked any new insanity. Just the usual crap about how if gay marriage is allowed, next people will want to marry their cocker spaniels and cockatoos. (Note clever inclusion of the word cock. Eat your heart out, Dr. Adams!)
I will abort the mission for now. (Please note clever inclusion of "abort".) Perhaps later when I have more time I shall undertake another swipe at some lucky wingnut.