Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving in the 21st Century

I have several friends now who won't celebrate Thanksgiving, because they see it as a celebration of genocide.

I think gratitude in general is too important not to devote a holiday to, but I also believe we should look at the real history, not the mythology, as we celebrate each year. To that end, I was deeply grateful to find that the pastors of the Downtown Congregations who put on the Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service in Minneapolis every year apparently agreed with me this year.

Yesterday's service was incredible and deeply moving. Rev. Bailey from the host church, Plymouth Congregational, named the issue in the welcome.  She invited us to reflect not only on what the Wampanoag did for the Pilgrims, but also the centuries of colonialism and genocide that followed. And used those words. She even included a reference to the water protectors & #NoDAPL.

Rev Tim Hart-Anderson, of Westminster Presbyterian, gave the sermon, and invited Rev Jim Bear Jacobs of Church of all Nations to join him to bring the Native perspective front & center. Telling to Thanksgiving story from the Wampanoag perspective was cool. They talked about the story of Jesus healing the lepers in Samaria & all the reasons we don't stop to give thanks - too busy, too afraid, too entitled. Indeed.

Rev. Lebens-Englund from St. Mark's Episcopal read President Obama's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, and invited everyone to stand & hold hands for it. Seemed weird at first, but the proclamation was beautiful & worth it.

The service included scriptures from the Torah, the Qur'an, the Gospel and the Psalms. Passages were read in Hebrew and Arabic, in addition to English. The service also included Latin and Lenape. I loved it. The interfaith nature of the service has grown over 40 years from being Christian + Temple Israel, just sticking to the Old Testament, into a service that pulls in multiple faith traditions and finds the links among them all.

Most meaningful worship I've experienced in a while. I am thankful.

Segregation & The City

My friend Kirsten is a local historian, and she often has cool projects happening. This one is interesting - mapping Minneapolis by "restrictive deed covenants" - meaning the real redlining that happened in our fair city. Not enough to just know that it happened - Kirsten's group is showing exactly where & when.

It's so easy for us to write off segregation in the 21st century as all about choice, but it's not. As Professor Ed Goetz of the U MN's Center for Urban & Regional Affairs put it: "It's important to understand how our cities came to look the way they are. We relegate them to natural market outcomes without reference to the very engineering and intrusive interventions that these things are."


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wonder Woman

Recently found this fabulous Wonder Woman t-shirt:

It says so much in one image!

20 Lessons from the 20th Century

Yale historian and Holocaust expert Timothy Snyder wrote: "Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so." Snyder's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (which includes former Secretaries of State), and consults on political situations around the globe.

He says, "Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.

1. Do not obey in advance. Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

2. Defend an institution. Follow the courts or the media, or a court or a newspaper. Do not speak of "our institutions" unless you are making them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions don't protect themselves. They go down like dominoes unless each is defended from the beginning.

3. Recall professional ethics. When the leaders of state set a negative example, professional commitments to just practice become much more important. It is hard to break a rule-of-law state without lawyers, and it is hard to have show trials without judges.

4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words. Look out for the expansive use of "terrorism" and "extremism." Be alive to the fatal notions of "exception" and "emergency." Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives. When the terrorist attack comes, remember that all authoritarians at all times either await or plan such events in order to consolidate power. Think of the Reichstag fire. The sudden disaster that requires the end of the balance of power, the end of opposition parties, and so on, is the oldest trick in the Hitlerian book. Don't fall for it.

6. Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. (Don't use the internet before bed. Charge your gadgets away from your bedroom, and read.) What to read? Perhaps "The Power of the Powerless" by Václav Havel, 1984 by George Orwell, The Captive Mind by Czesław Milosz, The Rebel by Albert Camus, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, or Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev.

7. Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy, in words and deeds, to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. And the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.

8. Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

9. Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on your screen is there to harm you. Bookmark PropOrNot or other sites that investigate foreign propaganda pushes.

10. Practice corporeal politics. Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside. Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.

11. Make eye contact and small talk. This is not just polite. It is a way to stay in touch with your surroundings, break down unnecessary social barriers, and come to understand whom you should and should not trust. If we enter a culture of denunciation, you will want to know the psychological landscape of your daily life.

12. Take responsibility for the face of the world. Notice the swastikas and the other signs of hate. Do not look away and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.

13. Hinder the one-party state. The parties that took over states were once something else. They exploited a historical moment to make political life impossible for their rivals. Vote in local and state elections while you can.

14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can. Pick a charity and set up autopay. Then you will know that you have made a free choice that is supporting civil society helping others doing something good.

15. Establish a private life. Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Scrub your computer of malware. Remember that email is skywriting. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less. Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble. Authoritarianism works as a blackmail state, looking for the hook on which to hang you. Try not to have too many hooks.

16. Learn from others in other countries. Keep up your friendships abroad, or make new friends abroad. The present difficulties here are an element of a general trend. And no country is going to find a solution by itself. Make sure you and your family have passports.

17. Watch out for the paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-Leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the game is over.

18. Be reflective if you must be armed. If you carry a weapon in public service, God bless you and keep you. But know that evils of the past involved policemen and soldiers finding themselves, one day, doing irregular things. Be ready to say no. (If you do not know what this means, contact the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and ask about training in professional ethics.)

19. Be as courageous as you can. If none of us is prepared to die for freedom, then all of us will die in unfreedom.

20. Be a patriot. The incoming president is not. Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it."

I am reminded that the poet Maya Angelou said: "Courage is the most important virtue, because without it, it is impossible to practice any other virtue consistently."

Blogging in a new era

I let this blog go dormant a few years ago, but as we enter a new political era, I thought it made sense to have a place to store ideas more permanently than Facebook. So here we go!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Good Thing from the Charter Movement...

It bugs me that the charter movement is seen in some quarters as the enemy of public schools. While it's clear that there are folks out there - and to an extent, in leadership - who are not concerned with the health of public schools or of American democracy, I don't think it's fair to paint all charter advocates with one brush. It's a complex situation, and I'm trying to pay attention...

Here's a cool document from New Leaders for New Schools around principal leadership - I really like this format!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogspot is now Google?

Looks like one more aspect of our online lives has joined the Google network! I got a notice that someone commented on my blog, and when I clicked the link, it turned out to be a connection to a Goggle log-in. That's a change! Of course I haven't blogged in ages, so it may have happened months ago, but it both did and didn't surprise me.

I was not surprised, in part because of the cover article of the most recent Fast Company Magazine: Why Google Will Win. There is no source I respect more with regard to the future of commerce than Fast Company. So I'm thinking about it. I've been using Gmail for several years & I love it. Google+ may not have launched in a major way yet, but it certainly has potential. I have started using GoogleDocs at work, and am seriously considering moving from laptop to iPad in part because GoogleDocs would make it easy to move away from Microsoft Office. So I give them credit. And it's not like I use any other search engine (outside of dissertation work) right? I even have my own customized iGoogle page.

But it turns out that the article above is actually a small sidebar part of a larger article: The Great Tech War of 2012. The Fast Company writers actually make a case for each of the 4 big tech companies: Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook. So it may or may not be Google; maybe that's just the cover of the mag that was delivered to my house - like New York and other mags, it looks like they could have 4 different covers this month.

So what of the other 3? I'm not sure Why Facebook Will Win, but I have to admit I spend a lot of time on Facebook - in fact, it facilitates much of what I used to do here on Blogspot. I can share articles & other links easily. I can keep up with people that I love but am too busy to spend much time with. It's a great source of commentary on current events! It's even what we used this past year to facilitate communication for our 25th high school reunion.

As for Why Apple Will Win, I've been a Mac devotee for years! My first husband was, and I became one through our original Mac desktop back in the mid-90's when internet was dial-up, but we were thrilled to have it. The computers are a better product. I've used Mac laptops for almost a decade. The iPod didn't do a lot for me, though I used it. Now I have an iPhone and it's fabulous. Faster internet than my Blackberry, much better calendar synching - the real reason I switched - and of course I can play Scrabble with people across the country. Love it!

Amazon - not so much. I always resented that they squashed our wonderful Minneapolis Amazon Bookstore - and for no good reason that I could figure out. So I don't use it when other sites (like B&N) have an item.

It will be interesting to see how all of this unfolds in the coming year!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Positivity in Reform

This week, Newsweek profiled the Charlotte, NC school district because of a unique idea: finding incentives for the best principals to take over the most challenging schools. And it seems to be working. Check out An Offer They Couldn't Refuse - it's similar to an idea that the Minneapolis teacher's union explored years ago for teachers but never developed. It makes sense!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Perspective - from Geneen Roth

I first discovered Geneen Roth in college, when I was struggling with "food issues." She's the wise woman who said "you can't hate your thighs and love your self. You have to love all of you." Easier said than done, but it's stayed with me.

I want to share this blog post of hers, Money, loss and what can never be lost, because while it is not about food, it is wise and timely. I am not a "worrier" in the general sense - I don't stay up until my kid gets home, I don't fear the future. But her admonition to be "fierce about staying in the present" resonates with me this summer, as our family explores the many different options that present themselves.

Good food for thought. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Women in Leadership

We don't talk much about gender parity anymore... feminism has become uncool. But even today, a woman with a professional degree makes $2mil less over her career than a man. And what's the correlation to the sad stats on women in leadership in Minnesota?! Pretty direct, I'm guessing. There are few women in the top spots in MN - we've never had a female governor - so there are simply few women making "the big bucks." Sad.

J. Brian Atwood of the U of MN's Humphrey Institute writes about the issue in today's Strib: Minnesota Voices: Women still have a long way to go

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cirque du Soleil - High Bars from ALEGRIA

I love that YouTube has scenes from various Cirque du Soleil shows! The hula hoop contortionist from Alegria is also phenomenal.

When I was teaching 7th grade English (and I just had this on VHS) I used to have kids watch scenes when we studied parts of speech. As you watch - what are the nouns? The verbs? The describing words (adjectives & adverbs)? Naming verbs is really fun when the actions are things like this! :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tim Wise on Immigration

Facebook | Tim Wise: On Illegal People...and Forgetful Ones: Reflections on Race, Nation and Immigration

I love Time Wise's work - he cuts through the superficial baloney surrounding current cultural issues with a scalpel. Regarding "illegal" immigrants: how many of us really have ancestors who ALL came here "legally"?!? My grandmother says we trace back to William Bradford, and the folks on the Mayflower sure didn't get any advance permission from the locals to settle at Provincetown. My German side also goes back so far it's impossible to say that they came "legally".

Taking on the xenophobes who keep thinking up new ways to harass undocumented folks, Wise is right on: "The degree to which it is ironic is only exceeded by that to which it is pathetic."

For me, it's about the kids. It's not right that the American Dream is denied to so many kids who grow up here - just because they weren't born here. We need to pass the "Dream Act" and ensure that kids are given access to college & careers no matter what their status was when they arrived. They're here now.

Elena Kagan: Is Gender Finally a Non-Issue?

PostPartisan - Elena Kagan: From trailblazer to less of a big deal

Someday the nomination of a woman will truly be a non-event. In the meantime, I'm still frustrated by the small numbers of females in the top ranks of leadership across America - including schools. But it's nice to see us moving in the right direction!

On Gangs... and Employment

Murder on Lake Calhoun |

Thanks for putting it out there, Gary! These statistics are real, and they aren't going to change by themselves.

PSEO - it's complicated!

MinnPost - Dual-credit focus now is on under-represented, low-income and at-risk students

I'm frustrated by this movement, because what we're seeing at the local level is MCTC and the like targeting students directly & inviting them to participate - often in classes that are high-school, NOT college level.

And now I'm hearing that MCTC has created a "jump-start" program that is literally high-school level. They get the $$ from the school districts, but the "credit" that this kids get doesn't count toward a degree. Lovely.

And it's all cloaked in righteous talk about including more kids of color. In fact, I think kids are getting suckered and it's shameful. With all the money we are spending on AP, IB and CIS classes, kids have no need to go down the road for college preparation or even college credit.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I Am Officially Married and Boring

I haven't had time to write in a while... and don't expect to any time soon...

Since I married JP, I now have a 6-yr-old for half of each week, which is wonderful, but also time consuming! And, it turns out that being married is actually more fun than writing, no matter how interesting the world happens to be on any given day.

So adios for the moment... I may change my tune, but for now, I'm signing off. My random commentary is appearing occasionally on Facebook, but that's about it.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

And Another Easter Thought

From a random forwarded email from a friend - sometimes the best stuff comes that way! Here's a prayer for tomorrow:

Saint Theresa's Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

'Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up.'

Mel's Meditation on Easter

Trade Offs
by Melissa Borgmann

What if we stepped into that space?
Recognized our nearness to death:
Thorny piercing of skin
Nails through the wrists
(because the palms would not have worked, right?)

See this:
Sharply hammered iron pins that are driven through epidermis, veins,
move over bone.
[Can you imagine the craftsman who forged that spike?]

Lungs collapsing from the tug of ribs
Pulled down by the weight of legs
Chest cavity crushing spirit.

And we try to breath.
We try.
He tries. We try.

Something like blood or sweat trickles down from the temples.
Do you get a headache? Appropriate, or not?

Yes, “This crucifixion gives me a headache.”
[“Me, too.”]

Pain is so inconvenient.
Suffering so easily remedied by, say, a cocktail?
A glass of wine appears.
The bitter irony of drink.

This is my body, given up for you.
This is my blood, shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Have the meal, it is much easier.


Read more on Melissa's blog

Sunday, April 05, 2009

MN Ranked 5th in Health & Happiness

A recent Strib article (3/11/09 - ok, I'm a little behind here!) says that a new Gallup poll ranks MN 5th overall in health & happiness - behind only Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming & Colorado.

More specifically, MN ranked:
* 1st in physical health
* 2nd in basic access (medical care, healthy food, safe neighborhoods, etc)
* 4th in emotional health
* 17th in work quality
* 19th in healthy behavior
* 23rd in life evaluation

The state that was first in each area:
* Physical Health: Minnesota
* Basic Access: Massachusetts
* Emotional Health: Hawaii
* Work Quality: Utah
* Healthy Behavior: New Mexico
* Life Evaluation: Hawaii

I knew there was a reason I was living in a state that SNOWED on April 4th!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009


In the process of getting my place ready to go on the market next week, I threw out a whole bunch of newspaper & magazine articles & items that I had saved to write about but never found the time. It bummed me out, but I'm in an "everything has to go!" mode right now.

8 boxes of books to Half-Price Books
9 bags of trash
More than 10 bags of clothes, etc to the surplus store - not done yet...

The busyness of life is keeping me on my toes, but it's cool. My 20-year-old called with what she thought was a crisis today & was surprised I wasn't angry. I got over being angry at her screw-ups a long time ago! And she had actually solved it (mostly) before she called me, which was really cool. She's growing up! :)

Maybe things will slow down this summer...!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy...

You've seen this video by now, but here it is for posterity anyway. :)

Louis CK WIth Conan Oct 2, 2008 - The most popular videos are a click away

Life is Taking Over...

I love thinking about and writing about the world - but I just don't have time these days. Real like is taking over! So my apologies to my friends who faithfully read this blog - I would like to be more interesting for you!

My current Facebook status bar:
Emily is starting spring break wondering what to do first tomorrow: housecleaning or dissertation or wedding invitations or just go to the office?

Housecleaning: I'm meeting with the realtor tomorrow afternoon, after which I expect to have a pretty significant to-do list with regard to getting the house ready to go on the market next week. The staging lady will help too, but it doesn't take brains to de-clutter - just time!

Dissertation: My literature review - prereq to oral prelims, which precede written prelims, all of which are supposed to be getting done this semester so I can get kicking on the dissertation in the fall... is running a little late.

Invitations: JP and I discovered yesterday that we have different ideas about when wedding invitations should be sent out - I always thought 2 months in advance, he was thinking 4-6 weeks. Bless him, he's on board with trying to get them out this week! (The reception's not until August, so those invitations can wait... :)

Office: Yes, my boss & I have two projects we've decided need to get tackled this week, even though it's spring break. Actually, that's the best time - no other distractions. But I think that's going to have to wait until about Wednesday...

I won't quit blogging completely - I still want to do a more thorough review of the Obama administration with regard to Gen X - but that's it for now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.
-Anne Lamott

I'm trying to wrap my brain around this concept and live it out - I know I am too busy and maybe this is part of why. Lots to say but no time to post. I'm juggling dissertation, moving and wedding planning - with a job I love but that is also time consuming.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

If the Shoe Fits...

Interesting little video applying the logic that ended laws against interracial marriage to the issue of gay marriage today - gotta say, I agree. As I have been part of an interracial family for years & am about to enter into my own interracial marriage, I am struck by the parallels between laws we consider antiquated, and laws that are still on the books here today. Food for thought...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We're Ready!

I've had the tag line: "Gen X will soon lead the world... are we ready?" for several years now... and here it is! Barack Obama was born in 1961. That puts him in most people's range for Gen X, and very close even if you date us from '63 instead of '60.

He has several top officials in his administration who are Gen X. Education Secretary-designate Arne Duncan looks like the youngest with a Nov. '64 birthday. Lisa Jackson, his new EPA head, was born in '62. Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, like Obama, was born in '61. Chief of staff Rahm Emanual was born in November of '59, just missing the Gen X label but no doubt bringing some Gen X attitudes.

So far, it looks like Gen X will do a much better job than the Boomers did. Clinton & Bush (W) were both partisans who didn't get things done the way they wanted to. I'm not sure what we'll say about Obama four or eight years form now, but I am sure that he is ready.

It's time! :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Northside Knows

I found - through a friend's Facebook page, of all things - this blogger who is a Mpls Northside activist. He's been writing about the student in my last post with some interesting information... check it out at Johnny Northside.

A particularly interesting thread is his 12/17 post & a slew of comments that follow it, including some that named the victim (& the likely suspect) long before the news did.

As always, the info is out there. Whether the community cooperates with police is another matter. Prayers.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Dead Children

I've written about dead children a couple times before. I've come to believe it's an occupational hazard in education: I know a lot of children, so I guess I'm more likely to know one who dies.

Two died this month in Minneapolis that I didn't know, but I am still shaken. A 15-year-old girl was found dead, frozen, but likely beaten to death. She was a student at the school I worked at just two years ago. She was 7 months pregnant. (I have a goddaughter who was born 2 months early, so have to see this as two children.)

What kind of life was this girl living that it ended such?
What kind of person beats a visibly pregnant girl until she dies?
How did it happen that she had been missing from home for a month when her body was found, but she was not identified for two more weeks?
Where did her family, friends, teachers, etc think that she was?
What was it like to lose her life that way? (Don't be afraid of this question - be afraid if we DONT ask it.)

And just this morning I was researching black student achievement. Connection? We can guess what this child's test scores looked like.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This year rocked. A few highlights:

* Met Mr Wonderful and got engaged
* Watched my daughter successfully navigate college life
* Finished my last doctoral class
* Turned 40 and went to Cabo with my best friends
* Drove cross-country with my daughter
* Saw Obama elected
* Continued to love my job, my neighborhood, and my family

Blessings to all as we head into 2009!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Post-Engagement, Pre-DC

So this isn't the Post from DC - but I've been bad about posting from the road recently, so thought I'd get one in early...

JP and I are heading out to DC on Friday so I can meet the rest of his family and we can show off the engagement ring. It will be a 2-day whirlwind of meeting people, and then I come home & he stays for a few days for a conference.

Gotta give him credit for a great proposal: at the table after Thanksgiving dinner, in front of my whole family! Creative and a good surprise, but not too over-the-top. Turns out they all knew before I did - it was almost like getting punked - but that's OK. It was beautiful.

I was amused to get an email from an ex (who saw our status on Facebook) asking if he should stop emailing me now... as if JP is worried about some random old flame. I said sheesh, we're 40 - we have too many exes running around to worry about any of them! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Still Interested...

Obama has a new website: - the Office of the President-Elect.

Since I'm not done being interested in what's happening at the Presidential level, this is a great website for tracking who's been appointed and what's just a rumor. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

First Day of the Rest of Our Lives

Yesterday: Feeling giddy that election day was finally here and Obama was probably going to win.

Last night: Incredibly excited when FOX news called the election for Obama at only 10pm! Thrilled!!!

This morning: Tired, but grinning like an idiot all morning. Still thrilled. Thinking about how our students are affected by this.

Tonight: Just happy. At peace. Ready for the future. Amen.

The crowd at the DFL party at the Crowne Plaza last night

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Prayer

It's 5pm on Election Day... here's my prayer:

May everyone who wants to vote be able to. Bless the folks who have to endure hardships but still do it.

May the best of the spirit of America be revealed in the ways that folks help each other out today. Bless the election judges and election volunteers.

May everyone involved with voting approach the system with integrity. May the result reflect the truth. Bless those who respect the opposition enough to help them vote too.

May the result come by midnight. May the result be uncontested. Bless the folks who do all the work of tabulating so we don't have to wait too long.

May the best man win. (Since it has to be a man this year...) That's Obama. Bless him for stepping up to lead us at this time.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Post from King of Prussia & Philly

I'm in Philly for "Parent Weekend" at U Penn - and today was all about shopping. We skipped all the official Penn events, jumped in the car with my daughter's roommate & roommate's mom, and headed to PA's version of the Mall of America: the King of Prussia Mall.

Ironically, being WITH my kid makes me miss her more - the fun of spending time with her makes me wish for more time!  Tonight Bonnie & I took the four roommates out for a nice dinner - they are all lovely girls & it's really fun to be with them.

This is one of those "count your blessings" trips - it's a blessing for her to be here at U Penn, and so great for me to be able to come across the country to spend time with her. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Lawn Sign with Attitude

Gen X creativity in action:

JP has uploaded his designs to so you can now buy lawnsigns, buttons, etc with the designs from the entry "Partisan but Entertaining" below - and more!

This sign is in his yard right now...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Decent family man" is to "Arab" as "Barack Obama" is to ________

A supporter says to John McCain at a rally that Barack Obama is an "Arab" and he replies "No, ma'am, he's a decent family man." (This happens in Minnesota, of course - aren't we proud.)

Hello? How is "decent" the opposite of "Arab"?!!?!?!

And then McCain's close advisor, Mark Salter, says that the campaign is not responsible for "the occasional nut who shows up and yells something about Barack Obama" - as if the climate of racial hate that those folks are acting from was NOT created by contemporary Republicans? Really?!

I have HAD IT with McCain. One word: PATHETIC.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

History through Technology

I love it: The Smithsonian has "flickred" a ton of photos from the Scopes Trial in 1925 so they're on line for everyone to see.

How cool is that? :)

Here's John T. Scopes, the teacher who had the audacity to teach his students the theory of evolution in Tennessee. Would that we all had his chutzpah.

Something Non-Political, Please!

Lord have mercy, I think this election has taken over the public consciousness like a cancer! Yes, I think it's fabulous that folks are paying attention, and I hope everyone votes, but I am really looking forward to a dinner with friends tonight that I am reasonably sure will NOT be dominated by political topics.

(OK, I am also throwing a fund raising party for a friend on Wednesday who is running for local office, but hey, we get to talk about schools there, not lipstick or Russia or wall street.)

Surely something else of interest is going on in the world!

Today is the last day of Banned Books week - I'm bummed that I missed it! Time to celebrate To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, and other great works that are too brain-stretching for conservative tastes.

Bless Sheila Variations for posting on Paul Newman's passing - the loss of a great man is truly worth a moment of reflection.

I just got a new credit card in the mail - which I found somewhat amusing given the craziness in the credit industry the last couple weeks because of the wall street meltdown. Maybe I should be thankful instead of amused... but somehow getting another zero-percent interest card just cracked me up.

Riverbend hasn't posted to Baghdad Burning in almost a year. It makes me sad to wonder what she's going through - still in Syria? Still safe? Too depressed to write? What must it be like to be a refugee watching your country get torn apart for five straight years? I mean dang - the American Civil War didn't even last that long. We weren't in WWII for that long either.

The Peace Foundation in Minneapolis is hosting the 5th annual Peace Ball next weekend, and yes, we will be there. Check out Melissa's pix from last year's bash at QueenMAB.

And if after all that you still need a fix, check out English Al-Jazeera's special section for US presidential election coverage. That'll keep it interesting!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chris Rock Spells It Out

On 9/26, Chris Rock appeared on Larry King and gave his take on the election. Comedy with a point...

ROCK: I think Obama would be great. I mean, just look the big thing right now is the economy. And people are going broke. And here: The choice isn't Republican or Democrat. The choice is you got a guy that's worth $150 million with 12 houses against a guy who's worth a million dollars with one house.

KING: Well --

ROCK: The guy with one house really cares about losing a house, because he is homeless. The other guy can lose five houses and still got a bunch of houses. Does this make any sense? Am I the only one that sees this?

KING: It's unique way of ...

ROCK: I'm just saying, John McCain could lose half his houses.

KING: You got a point.

ROCK: And sleep well.


ROCK: You know, I hope Obama wins just because, you know, the country needs it. The country needs a change. We kind of seen what this whole McCain thing is. And I'll go with the guy with one house. The guy with one house is scared about losing his house.

KING: I never thought of it that way.

ROCK: It is that simple.


Interesting new website - extensively tracking the polls to predict the outcome of the Presidential election based on electoral votes. Not that polls tell us much of anything... but it's still good fun. Check it out at Five-Thirty-Eight

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Read the Platform!

I get frustrated with friends who say they don't know exactly what a candidate stands for. Not only do the candidates have extensive policy ideas laid out - easy to access on campaign websites - but the political parties have platforms adopted at each convention.

Interestingly, the Republicans just adopted the following last month:

"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all."

With the glaring exception of public education, I do generally believe in free markets. Although I think regulation is important to avoid monopoly and corruption, I do not think that huge companies that go broke need to be rescued - little ones never get that help! Who let AIG get so big that its demise would be "catastrophic for America" anyway???

What am I missing here? My great-grandfather owned three banks in MN the 1920's. They all closed during the depression (after his death) and my great-grandmother became a social pariah because her friends & neighbors didn't understand how it was possible that she didn't have all their money. She was suddenly broke too, but they didn't get it.

Today, our bank deposits are federally insured up to $100,000 - so that scenario will never happen again. That being the case, what's up with the bailouts? How is this good for you & me? I saw something that said my personal share of $700 billion is over $30,000 - sheesh!

It's starting to appear that the only folks in DC with integrity right now are the Republicans who are resisting a bailout. Gotta give 'em credit for walking their talk; not so McCain or Bush.

Obama's Advice from West Wing's Bartlett...

Maureen Dowd had the fabulous idea to ask Aaron Sorkin to write a scene in which Barack Obama asks Jed Bartlett for advice.. very funny and of course RIGHT ON. Check it out in Dowd's recent NYT column.

My favorite lines:

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.


OBAMA They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.

OBAMA You’re saying race doesn’t have anything to do with it?

I wouldn’t go that far. Brains made me look arrogant but they make you look uppity.


OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

OBAMA What would you do?

BARTLET GET ANGRIER! Call them liars, because that’s what they are. Sarah Palin didn’t say “thanks but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere. She just said “Thanks.” You were raised by a single mother on food stamps — where does a guy with eight houses who was legacied into Annapolis get off calling you an elitist? And by the way, if you do nothing else, take that word back. Elite is a good word, it means well above average. I’d ask them what their problem is with excellence. While you’re at it, I want the word “patriot” back. McCain can say that the transcendent issue of our time is the spread of Islamic fanaticism or he can choose a running mate who doesn’t know the Bush doctrine from the Monroe Doctrine, but he can’t do both at the same time and call it patriotic. They have to lie — the truth isn’t their friend right now. Get angry. Mock them mercilessly; they’ve earned it. McCain decried agents of intolerance, then chose a running mate who had to ask if she was allowed to ban books from a public library. It’s not bad enough she thinks the planet Earth was created in six days 6,000 years ago complete with a man, a woman and a talking snake, she wants schools to teach the rest of our kids to deny geology, anthropology, archaeology and common sense too? It’s not bad enough she’s forcing her own daughter into a loveless marriage to a teenage hood, she wants the rest of us to guide our daughters in that direction too? It’s not enough that a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, it should be the law of the land that she has to carry and deliver her rapist’s baby too? I don’t know whether or not Governor Palin has the tenacity of a pit bull, but I know for sure she’s got the qualifications of one. And you’re worried about seeming angry? You could eat their lunch, make them cry and tell their mamas about it and God himself would call it restrained. There are times when you are simply required to be impolite. There are times when condescension is called for!


LOVE IT! Attitude and truth are a powerful combination. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

American Dream?

From Jonathan, at Urban Superhero:

Unbeknownst to me,
the world had changed.

Gone were the carefree days of my youth,
afternoons spent dreaming of young girls in sundresses,
plans for the future as a rock star or president of the u.s.

The mindset had changed;
the people didn’t feel the same;
the magic was gone.........

Never again would we bask in the sun,
unafraid of what the day would bring,
believing that in America, anything was possible.

Who was I to remind them of their forgotten ideals,
of the truth and principles that we supposedly fought so had for,
of the evils perpetuated in the name of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Who would listen to a small voice which cried out from the pit of darkness,
ever encroaching in from the sides,
consuming the life from a once vibrant populace?

America, America, God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy Good, with Brotherhood......
But what happens when there is none to wear the crown?

Is it a Black thing? Is it a Hispanic thing? Is it a White thing?
Perhaps it is a Justice thing, a Righteous thing, a Good thing!
Supposedly, it was an American thing!

Rodney King, Auschwitz, Columbus, Egypt, Hong Kong.
How long do the lies and extermination have to last,
ingrained in the minds of our children before we wake up?

"We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal....."
Does someone not understand the definition of self? Of evident? Or is it equal?
Perhaps the confusion centers around the phrase “all men” and who defined it.

It is well and good to support our country, to have pride in our troops,
to celebrate the 4th of July, and Washington’s birthday;
but what happens when you find out you’ve been celebrating a lie?

I do not hate America.

I believe in American ideals.

I believe in the American people!

I believe that
when in the course of human events
it becomes necessary,
a nation must rise up
and defend itself
from tyranny,
and oppression

but we can’t feed
and clothe
and heal
and protect
the very people
who comprise
this greatest of nations.

Where are the priorities,
where is the truth,
the righteousness?

Where is the country that
"four-score and seven years ago
our forefathers brought"?

Where is America,
land of the free,
home of the brave,
nation among nations?

Hopefully preparing for a rebirth
that will insure that
all PEOPLE are created equal

and are endowed
with the Rights
to Life,
to Liberty,
and to the Pursuit of Happiness....

from sea to shining sea...