Sunday, August 31, 2008

More on Palin

Did I mention she hates polar bears?

She also comes pre-scandaled, in something that looks like using her power in office to settle personal vendettas. Some background:

The details of this investigation read like a trashy novel, and I suspect that the players will soon have newfound celebrity on the national stage. I’ll try to explain for all you non-Alaskans who suddenly have good reason to want to know more about Sarah Palin. For those of you not interested in trashy novels, feel free to skip ahead. Here it is…what we in Alaska call “TrooperGate”.

Sarah Palin’s sister Molly married a guy named Mike Wooten who is an Alaska State Trooper. Mike and Molly had a rocky marriage. When the marriage broke up, there was a bitter custody fight that is still ongoing. During the custody investigation, all sorts of things were brought up about Wooten including the fact that he had illegally shot a moose (yes folks this is Alaska), driven drunk, and used a taser (on the test setting, he reminds us) on his 11-year old stepson, who supposedly had asked to see what it felt like. While Wooten has turned out to be a less than stellar figure, the fact that Palin’s father accompanied him on the infamous moose hunt, and that many of the dozens of charges brought up by the Palin family happened long before they were ever reported smacked of desperate custody fight. Wooten’s story is that he was basically stalked by the family.

After all this, Wooten was investigated and disciplined on two counts and allowed to kept his position with the troopers. Enter Walt Monegan, Palin’s appointed new chief of the Department of Public Safety and head of the troopers. Monegan was beloved by the troopers, did a bang-up job with minimal funding and suddenly got axed. Palin was out of town and Monegan got “offered another job” (aka fired) with no explanation to Alaskans. Pressure was put on the governor to give details, because rumors started to swirl around the fact that the highly respected Monegan was fired because he refused to fire the aforementioned Mike Wooten. Palin vehemently denied ever talking to Monegan or pressuring Monegan in any way to fire Wooten, or that anyone on her staff did. Over the weeks it has come out that not only was pressure applied, there were literally dozens of conversations in which pressure was applied to fire him. Monegan has testified to this fact, spurring an ongoing investigation by the Alaska state legislature. But, before this investigation got underway, Palin sent the Alaska State Attorney General out to do some investigative work of his own so she could find out in advance what the real investigation was going to find. (No, I’m not making this up). The AG interviewed several people, unbeknownst to the actual appointed investigator or the Legislature! Palin’s investigation of herself uncovered a recorded phone call retained by the Alaska State Troopers from Frank Bailey, a Palin underling, putting pressure on a trooper about the Wooten non-firing. Todd Palin (governor’s husband) even talked to Monegan himself in Palin’s office while she was away. Bailey is now on paid administrative leave.

As if this weren’t enough, Monegan’s appointed replacement Chuck Kopp, turns out to have been the center of his own little scandal. He received a letter of reprimand and was reassigned after sexual harrassment allegations by a former coworker who didn’t like all the unwanted kissing and hugging in the office. Was he vetted? Obviously not. When he was questioned about all this, his comment was that no one had asked him and he thought they all knew. Kopp, defiant, still claimed to have done nothing wrong and said to the press that there was no way he was stepping down from his new position. Twenty four hours later, he stepped down. Later it was uncovered that he received a $10,000 severance package for his two weeks on the job from Palin. Monegan got nothing.

McCain Locks in the Crucial Vagina-American Vote

Sure, Palin may be a hard-core conservative who opposes abortion in all cases--including rape, incest, and health of the mother. And she may be opposed to all forms of birth control, including condoms, even for married people (save the blastocytes! overturn Griswold!). It also may be the case that she doesn't support equal pay for women (the silver lining on that being that we'd presumably get a thirty-percent discount on the vice presidential salary).

But all that is nothing to Palin's possession of the all-important girly parts. We women will have no choice but to hop onto McCain's bandwagon! Fiendishly clever! Well played, sir, well played. Now if only he'd shown this much foresight with the vital polar bear constituency.

As a postscript to this, it does appear that perpetuation of stupid media narratives can sometimes have positive effects:

The main reason McCain knuckled under to the religious right by picking Palin is that he actually believes there’s a large army of embittered Hillary loyalists who will vote for a hard-line conservative simply because she’s a woman. That’s what happens when you listen to the TV news echo chamber. Not only is the whole premise ludicrous, but it is every bit as sexist as the crude joke McCain notoriously told about Janet Reno, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.

I do so love to observe Republicans trying to play identity politics--they're so bad at it. It's like they can't conceive how anyone who isn't a white man could possibly be qualified to do anything. So they see Democrats coming up with various minority candidates, and they say among their white-dude selves: "Wait, they want a black man? Does anyone know a black man? Hey, I hear Alan Keyes has some time on his hands. Why don't we ship him to Illinois to run against this Obama fellow?" One being essentially the same as any other if you're going to throw standards out the window and not pick a white dude, right? No wonder they think Affirmative Action is a scourge.

See? Works for Geraldine Ferraro. Game, set, and match.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Signs of Morning in America

When your boss, always dressed to the nines, comes into work wearing an Obama 2008 t-shirt. And was anyone else weirded out by how all the children of the world were holding hands and singing?

In celebration!
1. freedom hangs like heaven, iron & wine
2. cadillac on 22's, david banner
3. your cheatin heart, hank williams
4. waiting for the universe, pernice brothers
5. seventeen (I'm a lazy sod), sex pistols
6. neat neat neat, the damned
7. where did our love go, diana ross and the supremes
8. quicksand, david bowie
9. the past and pending, the shins
10. jimmy jimmy, the undertones

Thursday, August 28, 2008


It has been made.

I thought Obama's was a rousing speech. Bring it on, I say.

I'm Just Narcissistic Enough to Enjoy Talking About Myself . . . Even If I'm Paying by the Hour for It

I had my first session with the career counselor, and I have to say it was actually kind of fun: one part "Wow, what an interesting life story you have!"--the farming always gets people--and one-part drilling down to the Essence of Laura. It was essentially an hour of free-association discussion based on a list I gave her of every job I've ever had, bulleted with likes and dislikes. (I realized later I left off the Dairy Queen and some other stupid job I had for about fifteen minutes, but which I can't recall at the moment. D'oh.) Unfortunately, I had too many jobs to fit into the hour window. We may have to step up the pace.

You want glimmers into the Essence of Laura? Me too. At bare minimum, we seem to have established my way with a bullet point, because she was much amused with my lists. Which is strange, because I wasn't even trying to be funny.

Anyway, I'm now thinking now that her job would be awesome to have. Somewhere around 1997, I considered briefly doing social work because I like that empathetic interaction when you're trying to help people. And it seems the burnout factor on career counseling would be a tad lower than for those jobs where you're dealing with people with real psychological need. Does that sound shallow, like I only want to help people psychologically if it's not too much of a drag?

We'll see how the process ends up. I think it will be worthwhile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Still Baffled.

I get these Clinton dead-enders, who are either crazy or Republican plants trying to stir up trouble.

The ones I don't get, though, are the usually sane and politically intelligent people whose largish blogs I read from time to time and who happened to support Clinton and who, um, are still supporting Clinton (like, as of today) and are arguing with "Obama supporters" about each candidate's merits and demerits. It's like they're still shopping around, aren't enthralled by Obama, and don't want to be pressured by pushy and threatening Obama partisans ("McCain will appoint Supreme Court justices who will destroy Roe!").

This would be well and good if it were March. But given that the race is over (I mean, really over, as of about an hour ago), it has the surreal feeling of arguing with your best friend about who would be the most awesome celebrity boyfriend. If you're a Democrat or at least subscribe to what they generally stand for, the choice has been made for you. You may not be pleased about the choice made (Dean 2004! Bradley 2000! Gore 1992! You see what I record I have for picking winners), but that's the way it works.

There are two options on the table, your Democratic flavor, and your Republican flavor. Pick one, pick the other, sit it out, vote third party, but if you care for the issues supported by the Democratic party, suck it up and vote for the guy representing them. If the Clintons can do it (the Big Dog is doing it right now), so can you.

I Think We've Found His Secret Agenda

To bring in the soul. Not quite disco, but it's a sign of good things to come:

Barack Obama, claiming a prize never held by a black American, swept to the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday as thousands of national convention delegates stood and cheered his improbable triumph.

Former rival Hillary Rodham Clinton asked the convention delegates to make it unanimous "in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory." And they did, with a roar.

Competing chants of "Obama" and "Yes we can" floated up from the convention floor as Obama's victory was sealed. [...]

Clinton's call for Obama to be approved by acclamation -- midway through the traditional roll call of the states -- was the culmination of a painstaking agreement worked out between the two camps to present a unified front.

The band played "Love Train" as the delegates celebrated.

The best part, though, was Chuck Schumer's "Woooooo!"--amplified by Clinton's microphone--during the crowd cheer.

5 MINUTES LATER: Oh my lord, is Harry Reid dull.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Observations

1. Who the hell is programming the music for this thing? You've got your disco, you've got your Deval Patrick coming out to Santana's "Smooth." What does it mean??

2. Could David Brooks be a bigger dipwad? Seriously, following Lilly Ledbedder's very good speech about gender-pay inequality, Jim Lehrer (this is on PBS) waxed nostalgic about his early news days and how his newsroom discovered that the women reporters made half what the men did. Brooks, in self-important fashion and implying that Lehrer's experience was a relic of another era with no relevance for today, blabbered about how Ledbedder was "one testimony" and something about how he works with many women editors and writers. Cool! I find that so reassuring, and I will make certain to hop in that time machine to tell my past self that that pay disparity between me and the dudes who hired on after me at the law firm? Sooooo, last century, don't worry about it. Bobo says it's so, and he would know, being a paid white-guy Republican flack. Idiot.

3. Michelle Obama is all kinds of awesome. They just featured an interview with her (again on PBS). I must go view her speech now. It's really ridiculous that she has to prove she doesn't hate America.

4. Oh, god. The PBS historian panel. Save me. I want to see Clinton's speech, but not badly enough to listen to these gasbags. I think I need to mute and crank up the music.

5. Doesn't it seem like it would be somewhat of a bummer to be a delegate and have to sit through all of these speeches? Don't they go on all day long? And aren't you supposed to be all energetic and cheering, yay team, and that sort of thing?

6. I think a drinking game should commence from how many times we (meaning the media) mention the "split" in the Democratic party and Obama's need to "woo" the Clinton supporters.

7. Honestly, I may not have supported her for various reasons, but I really do like Hillary Clinton. Hey! She just pointed out that today marks the anniversary of the passage of the nineteenth amendment. Woo! She's tearing the house down.

How Many Days Until These Asses Are Out of Office?

They're busy little bees in the meantime. I think I've noted before that the Bush Administration is trying to blur the line between "abortion" and birth control. In furtherance of this goal, the Department of Health and Human Services is proposing a rule change to allow a broadly defined range of health care professionals to opt out of delivering services that make them feel queasy or squirmy--potentially including hormonal birth control.

If you're like me (and how can you not be, given you are all my family and friends?), you might wish to register your opinion on the latest Bush Administration attempts to limit access to reproductive options.

If He Brings That Back, He Might Really Be the Messiah

Monday, August 25, 2008

Your Moment of Respite

Reached your Olympics saturation point? Inundated by phone calls pleading with you to knock on doors for Obama? Weary of the breathless Clinton/Obama Discord '08 Democratic Convention Watch? Hunkering down in your swing state in anticipation of the really ugly ad onslaught? Eyeballing your dead or dying lawn flora and saying to hell with it all?

Some unrelated levity, in the form of various appalling, funny, or ridiculous cakes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I Could Be a Bigger Geek, If I Tried a Little Harder, I Guess

My weekend was made in the following manner. Faced with an impending salon visit (color! thirty minutes' processing time!), I found myself digging through dusty piles of books I've either read, have no interest in reading, or couldn't finish when I tried to read them the first time. So I went to the library and browsed fiction until I had found an armload of novels that I'd never heard of but that may, eh, be good, we'll see. It's always a crapshoot when you go in without a list or a plan, isn't it? At checkout, the dude behind the counter told me something I had requested a while ago had come in. Indeed, my eight-hundred-page book on the impact and legacy of Richard Nixon arrived! Woooo!

Why, yes, I may tell you about it. Not having experienced the sixties and having been but a tiny tyke during the seventies, I have absolutely no frame of reference for how people experienced all the social upheaval that happened during that time. And of course, understanding Nixon and how he (and Republicans evermore after him) manipulated the backlash helps to put the current state of politics into a larger context.

And do you know that experience where several things you're reading at a time or a spate of movies you watch in a sequence coincidentally have echoing themes, characters, or strange details? I just watched this Andy Griffith film, which was very good--an unexpectedly dark look at human nature, the impacts of fame, and the manipulative ends to which some can put "wholesomeness" and a "just folks" persona. It seemed eerily prescient to me of Nixon-style politics, given that it was released in 1957. Ah, but I learn from this book that the film was in fact inspired by Nixon's "Checkers" speech.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hmmmmmm, Biden

Good on foreign policy, sometimes says stupid things. He will not rally the Clintonistas, he will not bring a swing state, but I think he's overall solid, if unexciting.

A dude I used to know a gazillion years ago worked for him, so he must be pleased and wondering if he can get on this crazy train to world power.

LATER: I really like to hear stuff like this:
But what has impressed me most, for years, is [Biden's] staff. He knows how to pick ‘em, and that’s no small thing. Brilliant people come and go in DC, but rarely do they also have the ability to pick quality staff the way Biden does. His folks always are among the brightest from a policy standpoint, but also possess a sophisticated political acumen. It’s a rare but valuable combination.

Looks like Biden and Obama share a certain philosophy about the way they assemble their teams and tackle problems. I like the long-term thinking that this shows on Obama's part. Instead of going with someone who could theoretically help him with an electoral boost (or not. Is there solid proof that this actually works?), he chooses someone who can govern thoughtfully and competently.

Plus, I'm hoping he slaps McCain down in this manner:

Friday, August 22, 2008

On Pins and Needles, Waiting for the VP Announcement!

I only hope that McCain chooses Mittens.

Random selection of music from the ipod to mark this Friday:
1. still doin' time, george jones
2. the skin of my yellow country teeth, clap your hands say yeah
3. let me dream if i want to (amphetamine blues), mink deville
4. good to your earhole, funkadelic
5. goodbye service, sons & daughters
6. tender, blur
7. i wanna live, the ramones
8. subject drop, pernice brothers (one of those songs I meant to purge)
9. away from the numbers, the jam
10. split lips, sons & daughters

And if, like me and John McCain, you need a little assistance with the math on how many houses he owns, Feist helps you out:

LATER: This just gets better and better. Robin Leach (he of champagne wishes and caviar dreams) calls on his expertise in lavish homes to defend McCain:

In an early morning phone call Friday from his fabulous crib in Las Vegas, Leach told The Times that he isn’t really surprised at McCain's odd memory lapse given the complex lives that the super-rich lead.

"He probably was confused as to which homes are in his name, his wife's name, or corporate names," Leach explained in his familiar, deep British baritone. "In his attempt to be honest, he put his foot in his mouth."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Signs You Should Give Up on Salvaging Your Day and Should Just Go to Bed

After you've done one or more of the following:

1. Come within a foot of being hit by a car turning a corner at high speed
2. Smashed a wine glass in your spare bedroom (slash office), spraying the bedspread and your keyboard and--after sweeping up and cleaning up what you think are all pieces, but of course you can never get all the pieces--creating a nice minefield of invisible glass shards you can spend the rest of the evening walking on and getting stuck on your feet (and no doubt in future, the cat's feet)
3. Deselected the entire contents of your music library, necessitating a painstaking song-by-song review to recreate the preferences it took months to set and exclude the songs you don't want to hear on shuffle
4. Wrapped all this up by smacking you bare toes, full force, into the dining-table leaves leaning against the wall

It irks me that almost all of this can be chalked up to clumsiness.

I Can't Take Three More Months of Handwringing about Obama's Poll Troubles

Obama maintains a consistent, but small, lead in the polls, and it's good news for . . . McCain. Because despite the fact that the electorate is split and despite elections these days boiling down to fights on the margins for the undecideds, Obama is supposed to be up by ten points or something--I'm not sure what the arbitrary measure of appropriate benchmarking is for a black man with the middle name of Hussein running for president. When did Indiana last go blue? Was I alive then? I can't remember. Anyway, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Obama's being tied there, rather than ahead as he was in June, is cause for major concern. And, jesus, the fact that he's three points down among his strongest demographic, the older folk in Florida, is definitely worrisome.

So, friends, things are really really bad for Obama when McCain is up by five points in one poll. Obviously, only Hillary can save things. Because the 60 people at the PUMA convention really need to be brought back into the fold to unify the fractured party!

Shoot me now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Possibly This Illustrates the Need

I'm absolutely paralyzed with indecision over the options available for career counseling. Multiple sessions of three-hour tests! Group phone meetings! Fashioning mission statements and basically projecting the can-do-spirit of it all! It all seems so depersonalized and Job Industry Inc./PBS infomercial.

The first woman I spoke to is actually seeming more reasonable. Her one-hour sessions were at least geared toward talking to me, and the supporting measures and evaluations were in addition to the counseling. The phone format doesn't look out of spec for the services, and now that I think of it, it would be more discreet to hide for a lunch hour once a week. And she also will do things like help gear the resume and help with the interview skills.

Hmm. Perhaps I will call her back tomorrow.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Mini-Theme in My Netflix Queue: Six Degrees of Kurt Cobain

Obviously, I was talking to someone or digging out ideas from something I read (I can never remember what I put in my queue or why) because I've been hitting a recent run of music documentaries and biopics.

was great from a purely dramatic standpoint, and you don't have to know a thing about Joy Division (or their music) to appreciate it.

Some music hipster somewhere is going to have to explain to me, however, the draw of Daniel Johnston and why people consider him a musical genius. Is it the simplicity of his lyrics? The raw emotion he puts into it? That Kurt Cobain once wore a t-shirt? After watching this movie, I came away feeling sorry for him, appalled at what a life as a manic-depressive can do to a person, and also baffled for not being able to see what others were seeing in his music and art.

I know I read somewhere about this documentary, about an early nineties punk band from Seattle that was on the eve of signing a major recording contract when their very talented and charismatic female lead singer was brutally murdered. The documentary traces the band's beginnings and rise in local popularity, featuring electric concert footage (she really was an amazing performer and was probably going somewhere no matter what style of music she was singing) and interviews with friends, fans, family, and band members. It's a sad portrait of lost talent.

Next up, some Andy Griffith! Seriously.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Continuing my Martha-Stewart-Style Binge

One of my dining-room chairs, with new seat cover. The impressive aspects of this are:

1. The previous seat cover was the nadir of home-decor, being made of vinyl with a faux-wood pattern. I tried to take a picture of it for a before-and-after demonstration, but the vinyl kept reflecting the camera's flash, impeding a clear look at it. So you'll have to take my word for it that it was really ugly.

2. I found the upholstery fabric in the fifty-percent-off remnants bin ($8/yard), and it was another fifty percent off that. So I got two yards for $8.

Also, it's very satisfying to use a staple gun.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This Is Beyond Depressing

My 4-year-old niece could buy property in Detroit:

One dollar can get you a large soda at McDonald's, a used VHS movie at 7-Eleven or a house in Detroit.

The fact that a home on the city's east side was listed for $1 recently shows how depressed the real estate market has become in one of America's poorest big cities.

And it still took 19 days to find a buyer.

The sale price of the home may be an anomaly, but illustrates both the depths of the foreclosure crisis in Detroit and the rapid scuttling of vacant homes in some of the city's impoverished neighborhoods.

The home, at 8111 Traverse Street, a few blocks from Detroit City Airport, was the nicest house on the block when it sold for $65,000 in November 2006, said neighbor Carl Upshaw. But the home was foreclosed last summer, and it wasn't long until "the vultures closed in," Upshaw said. "The siding was the first to go. Then they took the fence. Then they broke in and took everything else."

The company hired to manage the home and sell it, the Bearing Group, boarded up the home only to find the boards stolen and used to board up another abandoned home nearby.

I feel sorry for the buyer, though, because she's got her work cut out for her:

The buyer, a local woman, considers the home to be an investment property and will not live there, Colpaert said, though exactly how soon the buyer can expect to recoup her four-quarter investment is questionable. Replacing the guts of the house will costs tens of thousands of dollars, and the owner will have trouble keeping scrappers from stealing the improvements as quickly as they're installed. Home demolition costs about $5,000, Colpaert said.

Meanwhile, the new owner will owe $3,900 in property taxes in 2009 on her dollar purchase unless she challenges the tax assessment.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's Been One of Those Weeks

See how long my hair is getting? See how I've lost my winter pallor?

I believe my editor is going crazy and may self-destruct upon contemplating another typo. Meanwhile, I had a preliminary meeting with a career counselor. Yay, me! Is it bad, do you suppose, that she wants to conduct everything by telephone? For $100/hour, I'm kind of hoping for verification that she's not doing the crossword on the other end.

Nonetheless, tomorrow is happy hour. Color me pleased about that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Supernanny, you are my secret addiction. You consistently deliver me schadenfreude, drama, and feel-good moments. I don't, for a second, believe that every single family you help is happy and perfect on follow-up, but damnit, I choose to believe.

This week, though, my god!! Family with seven kids; mom didn't want any kids but agreed to large family to please her hubby. In addition to which, mom is an emotional wreck because her dad came out as gay and left her family when she was a teenager. However, because hubby disapproves of homosexuality, mom is not allowed to have a relationship with her dad. Hubby is a prize, in other words.

Man, I want to arrange an intervention for this woman.

Hey, She Was Just Sticking Up for the Common Folk, You Know, Those of Us in Flyover Country

Poor Cokie gets smacked down by the good people of Hawaii:

"She's a bit of a fool that's the only thing you can say," said Rep. Neil Abercrombie. " Don't forget Cokie Roberts and the whole Washington crowd live in a kind of an incestuous relationship to one another, they talk to one another, they see one another, they know nothing about ordinary people."

In a statement, Senator Daniel Akaka said calling Hawaii "foreign" does a disservice to the hardworking patriotic Americans who call Hawaii home.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'll Bet I Know Where They Picked Up Some Management Tips

It's way too late to matter, yet you can't help pondering, wondering, and finally reading about what went wrong with the Clinton campaign. And by you, I mean me. Seriously, the office minion in me can't resist this kind of teaser:

How did things look on the inside, as they unraveled?

To find out, I approached a number of current and former Clinton staffers and outside consultants and asked them to share memos, e-mails, meeting minutes, diaries—anything that would offer a contemporaneous account. The result demonstrates that paranoid dysfunction breeds the impulse to hoard. Everything from major strategic plans to bitchy staff e-mail feuds was handed over. (See for yourself: much of it is posted online at

I don't doubt. I'm guessing they fought over the office fridge too, and grudges were held about who threw whose salad away before lunch. Which is why my inner office minion finds this revelation about the source of the dysfunction less than revelatory:

Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence—on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to “do the job from Day One.” In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel. What is clear from the internal documents is that Clinton’s loss derived not from any specific decision she made but rather from the preponderance of the many she did not make. Her hesitancy and habit of avoiding hard choices exacted a price that eventually sank her chances at the presidency.

And of course we always knew this guy, apparently more courtier than adviser, was an overpaid hack doing Clinton no favors . . .

[Mark] Penn’s memo is also notable for its tone: it reinforces rather than confronts the Clintons’ biases. “The biggest problem we have is the troika that has been set up to tear Hillary down,” he wrote.
It is a vast right and left wing conspiracy. Listening to Brit Hume say that Obama is surging while Hillary failed to do X is almost comical and certainly transparent. The right knows Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun, and a third party would come in then anyway.

By contrast, top consultants like Karl Rove usually aim to temper their clients’ biases with a cold dose of realism. I suspect the damaging persecution complex that both Clintons displayed drew much of its sustenance from memos like this one.

. . . in addition to being a cynical ass:

Penn also left no doubt about where he stood on the question of a positive versus negative strategy. He made the rather astonishing suggestion to target Obama’s “lack of American roots”:

All of these articles about his boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light.
Save it for 2050.
It also exposes a very strong weakness for him—his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited. I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values. He told the people of NH yesterday he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell—but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.
How we could give some life to this contrast without turning negative:
Every speech should contain the line you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century. And talk about the basic bargain as about the deeply American values you grew up with, learned as a child and that drive you today. Values of fairness, compassion, responsibility, giving back.
Let’s explicitly own ‘American’ in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t. Make this a new American Century, the American Strategic Energy Fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds.
Finally, this is a really perceptive and thought-provoking take on Clinton's failed candidacy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Speaking of Jobs That Monkeys Apparently Can Do, So Sign Me Up

More top-notch election coverage from our favorite news "analyst," Cokie Roberts:

Roberts also criticized Obama during the August 10 edition of ABC's This Week, acknowledging that "Hawaii is a state" but stating that Obama's vacation there "has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."
Sure, it's a state, but it's a foreign state.

I Guess I Should Have Seen That Coming

The only thing better than a power vacuum is when your director undermines you, again, in order to placate the dude who's unambiguously beyond his responsibility, authority, etc.! That will be so helpful in asserting control in future.

I had hopes, but there doesn't seem to be positive change on the horizon for this place. Proper management is obviously a foreign concept (in contrast to all the editing experts, there seems to be a real dearth of folks with the management skillz). Sanity dictates that the job search--always ongoing but with more or less effort depending on my promotion opportunities--be put in high gear. Send me your tips.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

While My Plants Languish in that Twilight Before Death, I Turn My Efforts Indoors

Wine rack: Eh, I'm not thrilled with it. I may have to do more to it. I wish I'd gone with the martini-glass-themed black paper.

Dining room chair, now a shade I call "like hell, that's 'sage green.'" It has a nice faux-finish thing going for it, with the primer showing through one coat of paint. I rather like it, so I may leave it.

Dining-room table. Less of a faux finish going on here. Sigh.

The de-fur-minator, flashing her nipples and showing that thinning hair needn't be accompanied by shame or loss of self-esteem.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Small Movie Note

I am reminded, since a Joy Division song just came on the iPod, that this movie is quite good. It's filmed in black and white and is about the short short life of Ian Curtis, Joy Division's lead singer. It also, I think, presents the musical context of Joy Division's inception in a subtle way, through small cues and details. The director is a photographer (often in black and white) and a director of music videos, so it makes sense; and his approach is well suited to the film's subject. The film is based on a book by Curtis's wife that appears to be surprisingly sympathetic and clear-eyed about all the people involved. The film is, in any event.


Just got lovely flowers from the Lollapalooza contingent.

I tell you, these kids, they're going to turn out all right.

I Think I Just Popped a Vein

The thing about working in publishing on the nuts and bolts of turning out finished products is that you deal fairly frequently with people who envision themselves master prose stylists. People get very defensive when you question their phrasing or suggest that there isn't actually an edict against split infinitives engraved in granite somewhere in Proper Grammar Headquarters.

This leads me to one of my current academic editors, which is to say he's responsible for acquiring papers that we can then publish. But he's not much interested in actually shaking the trees for papers to publish; it seems he would much rather be tweaking the details of authors' word choice. I'll give you a bit of a view into the publishing production process: this kind of thing is an exercise in futility, because the copyeditor will come along and change everything in accordance with her knowledge of X Style Book or whatever you happen to be following. In addition to which, these particular weeds are the unenviable province of production people everywhere. Trust me when I say that you can never--as a normal person--be thinking about hyphens or commas in quite the systematic manner they are.

I have given many speeches to this particular academic editor about his role, mine, that of the poor beleaguered copyeditor, to no avail. He argues about his pet style conventions, I send him style book links. I wax authoritative about my area of responsibility, and he nods soberly, then proceeds as before.

So, on his eternal mission to put his stamp on every comma, he asked to see edited manuscripts, so that he could see what the "copyeditor was doing." I declined, on the theory that it would not placate him to be in the loop on the eye-glazing process but would only give him ammunition for more intervention. Alas, my director, who isn't knowledgeable about publishing, didn't have the same nuanced view I did, and initially acquiesced to him before talking to me. He took the opportunity of her tacit approval.

So he just sent me an e-mail about wanting a sit-down to talk about the copyeditor's work, as represented on article X. After my rebuff, he had sneakily worked with the author--one of his protegee's--to see. He apparently is much, much concerned that the work doesn't meet "our" standards.

The joys of a power vacuum, friends, are multi-faceted. There are layers. And he's lucky that I'm such a laid-back kind of person.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Once Again Piping Soothing Tunes Through the Computer Speakers

It's the little things. Like, spending a successful day troubleshooting iTunes on Hal so as to allow iPod tunes to flow freely. I am pleased.

1. drivin', the kinks
2. smells like teen spirit, nirvana
3. outro with bees, neko case
4. cynical days, xtc
5. silently, blonde redhead
6. danger signs, penetration
7. you are invited, dismemberment plan
8. newtown, the slits
9. nails, stanley ross
10. grow grow grom, p. j. harvey

Next challenge, ensuring the random music isn't such a snoozing representation of my collection circa 2006.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm Working on a Distinctive Guffaw

Possibly you'll hear me on NPR Saturday morning, as I'm off tonight to be in the audience for the taping of this show.

LATER: Oooooh, my favorite panelists! Paula Poundstone is a hoot.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Oooooh, Classy

I hate to say it, but I'm starting to feel really sorry for Cindy McCain. She has millions and no doubt is the sole reason for John McCain's political career, yet this is the type of thing she has to put up with:

ABC News' Gregory Wallace and Sara Just Report: Sen. John McCain, R-Az., perhaps unknowingly, volunteered his wife for a beauty pageant on Monday that often features contestants topless -- and, occasionally, without any decency -- at the Sturgis, South Dakota, motorcycle rally.

"I was looking at the Sturgis schedule, and noticed that you had a beauty pageant, so I encouraged Cindy to compete," McCain told an audience at the rally. "I told her [that] with a little luck, she could be the only woman to serve as both the First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip."

The is was followed by whoops and hollers of approval from the drunk biker dudes in attendance. Hah hah hah! Good clean fun, humiliating your 56-year-old wife! When I put it together with stuff like this, I really sense a bit of hostility here. Call me old-fashioned, but anyone--let alone my husband--who called me the c-word in any context would cease to be someone I know at all.

I'm Thinking of Ordering This for the Library Collection

Freedom Songs: Building America's Empowerment Agenda.

Nobody speaks to the lives of today's youth quite like Teddy Roosevelt, wouldn't you say? After experiencing the album art alone, I'm absolutely dying to hear the wealth of creativity no doubt represented in the music itself (opus???). And they say Democrats have the corner on the creative capital.

As someone who does some typesetting, though, I do have to admire this bit of type design in the liner notes:

These are people who are not afraid of a little bit of text effect. It's like the Fourth of July.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"I Don't Know How the Meatballs Showed Up"

This isn't precisely what M's bridesmaid dress looked like.
Hers had a pink ribbon.

Whenever you think you've got it bad, it's helpful to talk to people who have it worse. To wit, I was talking to my friend M, who, through no fault of her own, leads an especially zany life. (It may be occasionally exasperating for her, but it's endlessly entertaining for the rest of us.) While I was experiencing the protective, parental-ish side of Lollapolooza this weekend, she was doing her most recent turn as a bridesmaid.

I'm kind of a connoisseur of weddings. I've experienced a Taiwanese/Jewish wedding, a Wiccan wedding during which the attendants performed a circular-type dance as a part of the ceremony, and a more standard-issue wedding, after which the groom--whom I was meeting for the first time and who was standing next to his beaming bride and my beau at the time--hugged me, squeezed my ass, and observed that I appeared to work out. (To which my response was, inexplicably, "Awww, thanks! I've got this exercise video. . . ."). And for sheer tackiness, I cherish the wedding I attended once that featured the bride's extended family stuffing food from the buffet into their purses. The thing is, I generally love how weddings reveal and encapsulate so much about the people planning them, as well as their most horrifying relations. Everybody has those, of course: the great aunt who, in a stage whisper, inquires whether that woman is the one cheating on her husband; the cousin who gets drunk and makes embarrassing speeches; the uncle who hits on all the bridesmaids.

It was perhaps a sign of some sort that the wedding M was to attend was at a mall, and the reception was at a pizza place. The scheduled wedding-party appointment for acrylic nails was also foreboding. I expected her to have stories. But the spectacle of M's weekend makes any of my prior experiences look classy and tame by comparison.

It started with the bride's dress, which had fit her a week earlier but suddenly didn't on the day of the wedding. A panicked bridal party rushed through the mall prior to the ceremony in order to locate appropriate undergarments. It didn't help that the bride was a larger size than is customarily available off the rack, but somehow, they found something that they could make work. Then, the groom's mother showed up for the wedding in a t-shirt and cut-off shorts, and one of the groomsmen didn't show at all. During the ceremony itself, the bride's sister threatened the groom in front of the minister and the congregation (perhaps wisely, the minister omitted the part about "if anyone here knows any reason..."). Finally, the reception hit a snag, because, as it turned out, the groom forgot to order the food (about which M observed, "Someone pulled together some iceberg lettuce, and I don't know how the meatballs showed up.").

In short, M has participated in the ultimate wedding horror show. No one, not Jerry Springer, not Hollywood, could possibly compete with that travesty. I only hope--probably against all reason and logic--that it isn't an omen of things to come for the couple.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gah, Thunderstorms! Tornados!

I realized that I have no candles that aren't burned down to nubs, no matches, no flashlights, no batteries. I'm ill-prepared for an emergency.

In spirit, I'm with the cat under the bed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lollapolooza Has Come and Gone

For another year, as they say. And after a heroic three-day bacchanal (though with no underage drinking, just hedonistic communion with the music), the cousin and her entourage should, at this very moment, be motoring back home.

I merely observed the aftermath, and I'm exhausted. I'm drinking a cup of coffee the size of a Big Gulp.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Forget About Who You Want to Have a Beer With

Let's talk about who makes you feel fat and dumpy. This is some hard-hitting journalism:

The candidate has been criticized by opponents for appearing elitist or out of touch with average Americans. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted in July shows Sen. Obama still lags behind Republican John McCain among white men and suburban women who say they can't relate to his background or perceived values.

"He's too new ... and he needs to put some meat on his bones," says Diana Koenig, 42, a housewife in Corpus Christi, Texas, who says she voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

"I won't vote for any beanpole guy," another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

It's come to this. Open-season bigotry against beanpoles. I think this my favorite part, though:

Sen. Obama's chief message strategist Robert Gibbs served as Sen. Kerry's press secretary during the cheesesteak debacle. A few days later at the Iowa State Fair, famous for its deep-fried Twinkies and beer booths, Mr. Gibbs noticed Sen. Kerry buying a $4 strawberry smoothie. He made a frantic call to campaign staffers: "Somebody get a f-ing corn dog in his hand -- now!"

Finally, as we muse over these crucial aspects of how Not Like Us, Obama is, I do want to point out something here:

Sen. Obama drew cringes on a campaign stop in Adel, Iowa, in July 2007, when he asked a crowd of farmers: "Anybody gone into a Whole Foods lately and seen what they charge for arugula?" The upscale supermarket specializing in organic food doesn't have a single store in Iowa.

Here's the thing: He was speaking to arugula farmers.

I wish someone would hire me as a hack. It seems like I could make so much more money for so much less work.

Iggy's Bored, I'm Tired

Happy Lollapalooza, munchkins. I'm not going, but for my cousin and her entourage, it will be like Woodstock.

1. take it back, she & him
2. for lovers only, southern culture on the skids
3. dashboard, modest mouse
4. auf achse, franz ferdinand
5. pisshole in the snow, pernice brothers
6. in the time of the machine, the redwalls
7. johnny thunder, the kinks
8. i'm bored, iggy pop
9. slide--(slidin' the blues) (take 1), the stooges
10. the prayer, bloc party