Posts Tagged ‘curmudgeon

12
Jan
08

My lucky day…

On the other side of the card is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This fancy-schmancy laminated ticket (that I found on a subway bench, natch) is copyrighted and courtesy of http://www.CTAinc.com. Now, I asked myself, what could CTA, Inc. mean? Christian Tactics Abound? Nah, it wasn’t that good…it’s actually Christian Tools for Affirmation. But they have a gosh-darn catchy tag line “Purposeful Products to help you encourage God’s people” (or to help you find wayward souls on subway platforms). Anywho, there’s lots of interesting goodies on their website, including Valentines from Jesus, which you can all expect in your mailbox next month.

08
Jan
08

There’s Something About Hillary

Well, as I write this, votes are being counted in New Hampshire in a very important primary. I’m really not sure who I support as the democratic candidate, it’s true. And since by the time the primaries make it to FL it doesn’t really matter all that much I admit I don’t feel that pressured to make a decision.

My rather uneducated opinion is that we need someone with experience, a truly skilled politician to begin to clean up the mess. My hunch is that Hil has more experience in terms of how the presidency actually works than the others, and while I don’t particularly agree with all of her decisions, I think she is probably the best person for the job. Eight years of Hil followed by 8 of Obama might begin to get the country back on track.

But that’s not what this post is supposed to be about. No, the idea for this post began a few weeks ago, just before the holidays, when JPR and I were walking along Steinway St. <insert dreamy music and swirl/fade back into time to set the scene>…Yes, we stopped into the Rite Aid so I could pick up travel size bottles and happened to see a Hillary doll. Upon pressing the doll’s hand, Hillary begins to bobble around and sing to the tune of “My Country Tis of Thee” — however, the Hil version goes something like “My name is Hillary, First broad of liberty, of thee I sing…Land where my husband lied, and I stood right by his side…”. You get the idea.

Now, upon hearing the first “broad” of liberty line my jaw dropped. But what I found more appalling was that she is clearly identified by her husband’s misconduct, and berated for her decision to stay with him. I’m sorry, but last time I checked the conservatives were all about upholding the sanctity of marriage. It seems like Hil’s decision to keep her home intact and practice that fine Christian art of forgiving should have warranted her a bit more credit, rather than discredit. In case you want the full effect, I was able to find a video of the doll on YouTube.

Now, fast forward to today. D-berg sent me an Op-ed article from NYTimes by Gloria Steinem. I’d read Steinem’s brief comments on a Salon.com article where she expressed her support for Hillary. But in this Op-ed piece she reflects on the recent defeat of Hil in Iowa and the astounding success of Obama. She points out that the gender issue is something the country has not gotten over as much as it would like. In true Steinem style, she begins the article with a reversal of gender (if you haven’t seen her piece lambasting Freud’s theories I recommend it, flawed as it may be) to make us aware of the glaring double standards that exist in our society. She describes Obama to the letter, but presents the characteristics as pertaining to a woman, not a man. What she’s trying to get us to see is that our gut reaction is probably to NOT vote for this person, who is essentially the same as Obama, but a woman.

The part I like most about this article is her discussion of the polarizing and unifying forces present in the elections (and in society in general, for that matter). While Obama’s race is, for the most part, a unifying factor, Hil’s gender seems to be quite divisive. I’m reminded of the amazing comment made at a McCain rally where a woman stood up, grabbed the mic, and asked McCain, point blank, “How do we beat the bitch?” During this entire election I have been quite disturbed about the polarizing nature of gender. I haven’t really been able to put a finger on it, but I think Steinem describes it quite well in her article. Why is it ok to obsess about Hil’s physical appearance? her emotional displays (which, frankly, I deeply admired)? her “bitchiness”?

Of course, Steinem doesn’t discuss the inherent advantages that Hil has had as a white woman in the United States. Yes, as one commenter points out, white women have had an unspoken agency that far surpasses the agency of black men throughout history. I think this is an equally valid avenue to investigate, but that’s not the point of Steinem’s article. The point is to draw awareness to the double standard that women are subject to, and to point out how we can see this still occurring on a national scale in the 21st century. That’s the point. However, as Broadsheet points out, she is in danger of creating a competition between “who’s got it worse” — and I think that’s just the kind of counterproductive writing we DON’T need right now. But when discussing race and gender, and class and sexuality for that matter, as well as other -isms, that is always a danger. And I think it is important to realize that we can critically examine one issue, gender in this example, and that shouldn’t mean we are negating or disregarding the others. We’ve got to be able to critically examine how our identities influence our situated experience in the world, bottom line.

I found the reader comments to be even more interesting and informative than the article, as I often do with online articles. Supporters and critics came out in full force (last I checked there were 533 comments) regarding Steinem’s article, and I think they really represent the struggle that we still face around BOTH race and gender.

So, agree or not with Steinem, race and gender are at the forefront of these elections, and they are operating on individuals in ways that we can spend years struggling to understand. But it just seems that there’s something about Hillary that really gets people going in a way that hasn’t really existed since…Janet Reno? I don’t know.

Now, it’s off to do some reading and then turn on the tube and get the preliminary results from NH…

Hil gets verklempt…

10
Dec
07

Bait and Switch?

A caveat before I begin: I’m thankful that the NYPD keeps me feeling safe in this city. No, seriously, I am. I don’t like all the hullabaloo with snipers and AK-47s outside of the Empire State Building, but in terms of my day-to-day activities, I feel relatively safe in New York City. And I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself.

But the latest shenanigans by the “Boys in Blue” has me a wee bit wary. NYPD has revamped a program where undercover cops leave decoy wallets, purses, and shopping bags in subway stations and stores (i.e. Macy’s) and arrest anyone who picks up the item and walks past a uniformed cop without returning it. The goal is to arrest hairy-eyed n’er-do-wells who are aiming to take off with some loot. But the result? More often than not it appears good samaritans are the ones most likely to suffer unwarranted (pardon the pun) police harassment. The common story seems to be that someone, no doubt a regular 9-5er rushing to catch their train, spots an abandoned item, scoops it up for further examination (i.e. to find an address or receipt to return to owner or store, respectively), hops on the train (without realizing a cop is nearby, after all they are a dime a dozen and we’ve become so sensitized to their presence), then gets hauled off the train, frisked, and asked about prior arrests.

The program, introduced over a year ago, was quickly discredited by judges and prosecutors alike for a number of reasons, mainly that a person has ten days to turn in lost items and, secondly, that nothing in the legalese requires a person to return an article to a uniformed police officer.

So, the cops reworked their program and recently reinstated it. Now the decoys are “laced” with actual credit cards issued under cops’ aliases. Pick that baby up and you could spend 4 years upstate.

Oh and this beast has a name: “Operation Lucky Bag.”

Now for my opinion: I find this simply abhorrent. I mean, seriously. There’s a lot more shit going down in Gotham that needs some attention above and beyond petty larceny. But aside from that, it seems simply ludicrous that police can “bait” innocent civilians into “performing” what they interpret to be a criminal offense. In fact, the ONLY thing that allows the cops to arrest someone is if they perceive that the person had no intention of returning the goods. And, you could argue that they are reducing subway crime with programs such as this. In fact, go ahead (they argue they reduced subway crime by 13% — but we’re all in hypotheticals here). But the numbers suggest otherwise. Although there were 101 arrests made in the original program by

people who had a combined number of 716 prior offenses, there were 119 arrests made of individuals with no prior record. And, if we are going to really debate the issue, every single one of them was perfectly innocent, regardless of their record, and would have remained so had the officer not placed the decoy where they would see it.

At its best it is like holding a shot of Jack in front of the alcoholic and carting them off to rehab for simply picking up the drink. At its worst it is ensnaring innocent everyday folks in a web of legal troubles that will no doubt effect their occupational, emotional, and interpersonal lives for years to come.

In the words of my not-so-favorite-but-highly-appropos-looney-tunes-character:

07
Dec
07

Teen Pregnancy: “It’s Not Rocket Science”

So, I’ve got a super Dad who supports my feministing. He probably gets a kick out of having a bit of a spitfire (albeit a mildly passive-aggressive spitfire) in the family who no doubt resembles his own ideals at a similar point in life. So he sends me articles that will intrigue, irritate (usually because they are about Bush), or irk me because he knows that, deep down inside, I’ve got a little curmudgeon just bustin’ out.

The latest article falls into the latter two categories. Oh, right, and it makes me irate, just to stick with the theme.

Shocker of the century: Births to teen mothers have risen for the first time since 1991. While the rest of us who either have vaginas or know anything about anything are jumping up and down in exasperation and frustration at the administration for lopping off comprehensive sex education in favor of unproven abstinence-only programs, the republicans are scratching their heads in a bit of confusion (see illustration below).

And the spin machine gets to work: “U.S. health officials said it was possibly a one-year statistical blip and not the beginning of a new upward trend.”

So, when your 15 year old daughter starts donning baggy clothes and you catch sight of a bit of a pooch you can just say “oh, honey, looks like you’ve got a little blip!” (There were an additional 20,000 blips born to teenage mothers in 2006.)

Interestingly enough, this “blip” coincides with similar “blips” for a few STI rates as well. Now, I know my stats and I know correlation is not causation, but I also know that trends are usually a sign of an underlying phenomena.

Which is why my new hero for the day is Dr. Carol Hogue, a researcher at Emory who, when asked to comment regarding the latest statistics said, “It’s not rocket science.”

Indeed, it isn’t rocket science. But in case any GOP officials need any help figuring out the whole equation I’ll lend a hand:

Abstinence-only “education” + Hormones + Hormones + Desire + No access to contraceptives + No condoms + Being taught that condoms don’t work = Unintended Teenage Pregnancy Rate Increase.

But my hunch is that there’s even a larger story here, one that will probably spawn (no pun intended) a movie, book, and made-for-tv miniseries in the next fifty years: the young women who find themselves willing to risk anything to not let their parents find out they are pregnant — whether by crossing state lines, inducing an abortion, or seeking back-alley abortions. Or, an even more subtle but damaging force: young men and women who are unable to understand how their desires can be explored in ways both safe and health.

On a related note: “Juno” is getting rave reviews for telling the story of a young woman who is pregnant while keeping the people and the drama front and center and the politics out of the picture. Interestingly, this is similar to the raves I heard about (but haven’t yet watched) “Knocked Up.”

03
Dec
07

A Surplus of Status

I’ll admit that I’m mildly disturbed by how pervasive Facebook has become in my daily life. Most notably I find myself constantly thinking, “Ha, that would make a nice status message.” And since today has been such a busy day (even without leaving the apartment!) I’ll provide you with the following.

Valerie is:

– addressing holiday cards and listening to “v-fu christmas volume 1” courtesy of JPR.

– pretty sure she annoyed JPR this sunday (and the last 13 sundays) by asking a series of questions along the lines of “But in football, why don’t they ______?”

– certain she’ll never understand football.

– not happy with her cats for knocking over her perfectly delightful little christmas tree at 6:45 this morning…but surprised that it took 10 days before it finally hit the floor.

– finding it amusing that she and JPR won’t actually play scrabble using an actual game board but will play scrabble on facebook’s “scrabulous” program while being 5-10 feet apart.

– happy that it snowed today, but not sure she’ll be able to move the car tomorrow because she is scared of ice.

– wondering if lynette scavo’s family is alive after a tornado hit wysteria lane because even though she hasn’t watched DH since season 1 that blood-curtling scream by a talented felicity huffman had her interest piqued enough to tune in for the last half hour. and she’s also proud of susan for putting her foot down. and also noticing how every primetime family drama is now taking up the issue of addiction to painkillers…at least among rich white people.

– absolutely terrifed about the new show premiering in january that uses lie detectors and forces people to tell secrets on national television.

– disturbed that reality tv and “game” shows can get away with social science that legit social scientists could never ethically do.

– wishing she could bake a batch of Noa’s delicious pumpkin cookies.

– aware that making a New Year’s resolution last year to do holiday cards this year is pretty silly but justifies it because: a) it’s best to start small and b) most resolutions are abandoned within the first three weeks, and this one is immune to that!

– ooo, eee, ooo-ah-ah, ting, tang, walla-walla-bing-bang.




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