Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Idea, But Partly False Reasoning

Take the fight to Central Valley? Liken it to the freedom riders fighting for civil rights in the South? Yes, that could be a good idea and it could be a useful analogy. What takes it from inspirational to frustrating, however, is this:
Gay activists believe their campaign against Proposition 8 focused too much on liberal urban enclaves along the coast, failing even to reach out to the state's rural regions. The measure passed with nearly 69 percent of the vote in Fresno County, compared to 52 percent statewide.
I'm not sure if the "Gay activists" referenced had anything to do with the campaign, but either way, they're missing the failure. It's a good thing blogging doesn't require talking, because I'd be blue in the face from repeating this so often. This campaign failed because turnout was miserable. The No on 8 campaign failed to get out the vote. If you don't turn out your vote, then any support and all the persuasion in the world is wasted effort and wasted money.

We will repeat this error if we don't remember it, talk about it, insist on it, assess it, and work against it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Blawg Post: Sotomayor Is A . . . Wait For It . . . WOMAN. Deal.

So here's what she actually said:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." The remark was in the context her saying that "our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."
But here is how it's being summarized:
Latinas make better decisions than white dudes.
Here's the problem - the paraphrase is such a globalized version of her actual statement it no longer contains any of the original meaning or nuance. And yeah, there's nuance.

By the way, maybe it's my age, or my marital status, or the "you're SO having kids soon!" statements from people who have no business commenting on my reproductive choices but I'm having a bit of a feminist thing right now. Thank God.

Part of the fun of the paraphrased "girls jurisprudential rule, boys drool" statement is that white dudes have no end of fun in saying "well if we changed that how fast would WE be called out for it! UNFAIR!"

This is the same crap that leads to magazine covers sobbing over what is happening to our little boys because girls are making strides in education. Oh dear! Centuries of dominance slips by a centimeter and HOLY SHIT, START THE RESEARCH, HOW DO WE SAVE OUR FRAGILE MEN.

Clearly, the first step to saving them is to make sure we emphasize language that normalizes the male (and in this country, WASP male) experience and solidifies others as, well, other. Lady lawyer! Lady doctor! Woman judges! Regular judges, of course, are dudes. And they all think alike.

Someone commented to me recently that eventually I'd need to choose if I'm going to be a woman lawyer or a lawyer.

You see the problem here, right?

As I am very attached to my lady business, I have a feeling I'll always be both. And being a woman - biologically and sociologically and culturally - is going to affect the way I ... live, think, etc. Seriously, does this need to be explained? I don't have to decide shit. I'm a woman. I'm a lawyer. And no, the two cannot be split.

They're judges. Judges judge. And we're common law, not civil law, so some stuff is gonna be squishy, kids. She's damn right to hope that women or particular kinds of women are going to look at things differently - and probably better - than men.

Everyone forgetting the MPC rape laws they studied in school. Had to present evidence that you fought back? Couldn't be raped by your husband? Those chestnuts from legislative history have slipped your mind?

I'm surprised they aren't just raising the "she'll have to ask the Pope about stuff" argument since we're going all retro.

Such bullshit. All of it.

18 million cracks but it ain't broken yet.

And another thing:

So this should frost them even more:
She also said, for example: "Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see."

"My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas in which I am unfamiliar," she said. "I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."

At the time Sotomayor gave the speech, she was in the same job she is now, a federal appeals court judge. She said then she was reminded daily that her decisions affect people and that she owes them "complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives."

"I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage," she added, "but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."
To which I say: DUH! Of course. Obviously. Yes. And, great!

I can't help recalling my last tour of jury duty. Throughout voir dire these people would swear they could leave it at the door, but, no, it was pretty clear they couldn't, so they got bounced. So why not be honest about it all. Know that we are informed by the totality of our lives and that's precisely WHY we need different people to come together to sit on the highest bench around.

Ugh. I hate all of this so very, very much.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your Documentary Film Recommendation Of The Day

Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room is a compelling bit of documentary film making that gets bonus points for a) including well-chosen pop music and b) vindicating Gray Davis in many ways. I'm not sure how non-Californians view the film, but it struck more than a few chords with me. Two thumbs up.

THIS Is Why I Have Always Wanted A Llama

YouTube is magic. And I never paused to consider why or how a Llama lived in New York City or visited the dentist there. I was just glad the Llama cared for its oral health.

Housing Stuff I Don't Get

So, the market is still crap, duh, but the new trend in articles about the situation is to compare the it's-getting-better! predictions with the oh-wait-no-it's-not indicators that more bad is still to come. On thing consistently confuses me, however - check this out, listed under the header "Walk-away underwater homeowners:"

The number of people who owe more than their home is worth continues to rise. Almost 22 percent of all mortgage holders were underwater by March, according to real estate site That's spurring a phenomenon of "walk-away" homeowners - people who choose foreclosure because they don't want to pay off an upside-down asset.

Matt Bording and Mangala Abeysinghe are an example. They have poured love and energy into their three-bedroom Richmond home; the garden alone is a work of art. Bording has a steady job as an ICU nurse, Abeysinghe, a nurse in her native Sri Lanka, should readily find work once she passes the U.S. licensing exam. They made a down payment and can afford their monthly payments.

On paper, they sound like ideal borrowers. But as their home value plummeted, leaving them underwater by more than $200,000, they decided to walk away. They stopped paying their mortgage in October, and are still living in the home, although the lender sold it at a foreclosure auction last week.

Bording described the decision as "a bit of brinkmanship and bravado, along with fear of being financially trapped. I'm wondering about the possibility of many more prime borrowers doing the same thing, causing some kind of ripple in the economy."
So, RIGHT NOW, the home is $200k underwater. In 5 years, will it still be? (Many would say yes, but.) Let's say in 5 years it's only underwater $10k, but in the meantime, you keep making payments and you still have a tax deduction and, oh yeah, you still have a place to live.

The two words more commonly missing from all of this discussion are "right now." Don't get me wrong, what my house is worth right now makes me sad because it is already less than what I paid for it (I welcome myself to the club in that regard). And I neither think nor hope that the market will rebound to the stupid levels of previous years. A good number of walk-away owners, however, seem to be just plain crazy.

Then again, our public policy recognizes efficient breaches, no? We never stop screwing ourselves.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ante Up, Stags And Athenas

Claremont McKenna College needs your pennies, gang. So fork it over!

Seriously: CMC loves you. You love CMC, right? And maybe you've heard about this whole bad economy thing? It's probably hit our alumni especially hard, come to think of it. But when everyone is down, isn't giving that much more important? Last year, $58,000 was raised from donations of just $50 or less. That's no small feat. Of course, the school will happily welcome you to the Jack Stark Society ($150) or James Madison Society ($100) or those pricier societies if you have more than $50 to spare.

Maybe you received a CMC Young Alumni Update email within the last few minutes, too. If you didn't, then you already contributed, so good job you! You can give more though, if you need to clear cash before the end of the fiscal year.

The photo of the Class of 2009 (dear God in heaven) celebrating Thesis-Turn-In day brought back some fond memories. That celebration clearly seems to be at Flamson Court. Our was out at the apartments. I finished a bottle of warm Asti like I finished my two-semester thesis, yo! I still have the bottle. Yeah, I do. And I have an ICA banner. That's right. I'm THAT alumna.

Give back, please. Even if you're paying for loans still (I am). Even if, despite being employed, you still feel short most months (I do). Even if you have quibbles with stuff (yes, sometimes even I do, too).

As-yet unborn Stags and Athenas need you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One Way In Which England May Be Cooler Than The U.S.

England has one time zone. America has 4 - more if you bust out of the lower 48. This presents some challenges to business. It presents more pressing challenges to television viewers - especially west coast viewers of live shows. Because we just GOTTA do everything for the east coast. God forbid they be required to stay up late (for anything aside from Monday Night Football).

If you love TV and you love your computer, then you're super screwed during tape-delayed life events.

In England, they can do the performance and results of a competition on . . . wait for it . . . the SAME NIGHT. Because they have one time zone (and four channels). It's a brilliant system.

Downside - easily invaded by a number of other countries.
Upside - easy to enjoy collective TV viewing experience.

False Comparisons

AP television writer gets it wrong regarding the AI question on every fan's mind: where do Gokey's votes go:

Allen and Gokey seem more aligned than Lambert, in both style and substance. Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark., and Gokey, 29, of Milwaukee, shunned Lambert's elaborate staging and wardrobe when they performed, and both have traditional public images.

Allen is a married college student and has worked as a church worship leader. Gokey, a widower, is a church music director.

Lambert, 27, of Los Angeles, has largely kept his life under wraps, saying "I know who I am" when asked to dish. His talent, however, is there for all to see.

When it comes to singing style, Gokey is the untalented version of Lambert - but they are both belters. Kris Allen is Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson.

More to the point: the writer is drawing conclusions from Allen and Gokey's employment with churches and setting it as opposite to Lambert who won't talk about his life. Um, no. We know an equal amount about the professional background of all three. Did anyone ask Lambert if he goes to church? Can he not because, wink wink nudge, he "keeps" his "life under wraps" which means he's gay which means he is neither a traditionalist nor a church-goer?

Sorry. No.

If I were a betting woman, I'd bet Gokey votes go nowhere at all because Gokey voters are jealous of Lambert's talent and mad at Kris Allen for stealing Gokey's spot.

(Don't you LOVE that this is the most in-depth analytical piece on the day after an Election Day? Right?)

Should We Ask Him If He Evens Wants To Get Married First?

This Chron article makes about a million logic leaps as it builds the case for an advancing public view on equal marriage rights on Adam Lambert's back.

The kid is a kid. Okay, he's 27, which is a grown-up (or was before we, as a culture, decided to stay Forever 21). But it still seems odd to use him as the centerpiece of the discussion when we're just now hearing gossip reports that he's introduced his BF to his AI pals.

The great national Lambert Shrug over his sexuality is telling, however. Give me a "who cares!" America!

No one cares.

My mom doesn't care. Some internet crackpots care, but tweener gals don't (probably because the guy's Twighlight aura is spot-on for the time: he's pretty, can sing, is dark in a cuddly sort of way, and may as well be Edward Cullen with a microphone).

He's just a dude on a reality show. The most beautiful aspect of progress - if we are progressing on the issue - is that there's no story there. He can do or date whom he pleases and still get on with his badass, hollering career. Let him be a poster boy for himself for awhile, rather than anything larger.*

(*Though, I'll say this: I didn't love the kid in the competition. Never voted for him. 'Cause I don't dig his persona/voice THAT much. But I had this brief fantasy that last night he would give a shout out to "Mom, Dad, my boyfriend Drake! I love you guys!" and then just see what happens. No matter what, the outcome would have been great for him. Option 1: he says it, America continues to shrug, he wins, and cuts a record. Option 2: he says it, America continues to shrug, but decides it wants more Jason Mraz and less Cullen, so he cuts a record he wants rather than one hamstrung with Kara's crap song. Option 3: he says it, American media loses its shit, he wins, more shrugging, record, fame, horray. Option 4: he says it, America loses its shit, he loses, he goes Prajean and even MORE people know his name, he cuts a record, earns massive money, probably helps a movement, and gets a reality show. So you know, he's cool whatever happens, so maybe, if we're going to thrust him into the role of spokesperson for an entire demographic, he stepped up and took one for the team and say "yeah, and?")

Electoral Amen

As quoted in The Roundup:

"Nearly a century after the Progressive-era birth of the state's ballot-measure system, it is clear that voters' fickle commands, one proposition at a time, are a top contributor to paralysis in Sacramento. And that, in turn, has helped cripple the capacity of the governor and Legislature to provide effective leadership to a state of more than 38 million people."
That's what I've been saying. Whatever noble and brilliant intentions helped birth this most abused of progressive reforms . . . they dead now, yo. What's left? An afront to representative democracy and a republican government. The railroads are gone. Enemy: they name is voter.

Wait, no. It's not voters. Well it is. But moreover, it's people who sign petitions to get crap on the ballot that hasn't even been proofread, let alone vetted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Diet Peach Tea Snapple

Has a new label, but is still made from the best stuff on earth - or so it claims.

I can't drink the stuff without thinking back to a summer conference atop Ohio's only hill. Sandra and I would walk down to the lone market in the evening and buy a 50 cent hot dog and a diet peach tea Snapple. We sat on the curb outside as the sun began to set, the fireflies emerge, and the heat reduce from poach to simmer.

Best stuff on earth.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Know How To Make Me Mad?

Be EQCA and send me an email with the subject line "New TV Ads, New Field Organizers" . . . in the month of May that FOLLOWS the election.

On Facebook, Continued

I think there are only three ways to come across in your status updates. I bet this translates to Tweets too.

1.) Pedestrian

2.) Shallow

3.) Trying perhaps a little too hard

Lately, I've been operating in number 2 with reactions to Idol and musings on other TV shows. Other times, it's 1. Boring. No one cares.

Numbers 1 and 2 seem like the only safe options for people who care about potential employment issues resulting from Facebook posts.

Also: today I finally removed someone from my newsfeed. Because I just couldn't care anymore. The people I care about don't frequently update anything and there isn't enough information on anyone there to help me really catch-up. I think I'm already experiencing diminishing Facebook returns.

Lastly: someone gave me a hard time last night for something on my blog. Not a post though, something in my bio. My bio? Oh well. Once upon a time, I had content that people cared about. No, I'm so far away from anything interesting, I'm back to yammering about headlines. Sometimes, this gets me down. Actually, it gets me down a lot.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

What's The Message Here?

I think this story about abusive messages sent to 12-year-old swine flu sufferer are supposed to make me wonder at who would say mean things about someone getting the flu.

But it makes me think is "why does a 12 year old have a cell phone to receive texts and a facebook account?"

A Request

For the current administration: I don't want national health insurance. I want national health care. Guaranteed. For every resident. Regardless of employment, income, location, gender, etc.

Insurance is not the answer. Insurance seldom does anything good. And insurance usually finds a way not to pay or to pay less.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

You Can Have Your NFL Draft, Fantasy Whatever, Etc. I'll Take My Fall Line-Up Race

Y'all know I love TV, right? 'Cause I do. What's in and what's out for next fall brightens my day and breaks my heart. Fingers crossed for: Privileged (best show you wrote-off before watching an episode); Better Off Ted (I'll admit it - I'm shocked at how good it is); Parks & Recreation (because I love Amy Poehler and I think they could really DO something with the character - if they get that far). Hat tip to King of the Hill - it's been fun, will miss you, as will Sanjay; Kath & Kim (because Molly Shannon, c'mon, and Maya Rudolph guests? Please, I loved it enough). Shocked but cool with: Private Practice (because I like to have one worthless, manipulative, shlocky show starring ADULTS instead of faux-teens). Happy about the obvs: Lie to Me (easy TV. Sometimes we just need easy TV); Grey's; Office; 30 Rock; Gossip Girl

And then there's Heroes. Where do I put that. How is that show still on? Seriously. How? I still watch it - like a car crash. I need to catch up on the last half of the last half-season (or weren't they calling it Season 4 already, those hopeful, crazy kids).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sometimes I Think We're A Bit Confused About Rights

Especially the big ones - speech and religion - and the non-specified ones - like the ones we think we enjoy when it comes to the intersection of work and beliefs.

So now there's a notion to protect via statute someone's beliefs against gay marriage so people whose faiths disallow their support of the issue (if such a faith truly exists - and you better give me some New Testament citations, Christianity) won't have to sully their immortal souls by helping two gays get hitched. You know, like pharmacists who won't give or talk about birth control.

Why should these people get protection? There's a line, sure, but I think it's up in Nazi territory, and not with birth control or marriage. Something with immediate, tangible physical harm (mass murder of a people) and not intangible, theoretical harm. (And while I'm going super parenthetical here let me say: I said birth control, not abortion.)

If you're a county clerk/registrar/etc and you don't want to marry two men or two women I have two choices for you: one, hope someone can do it for you and just pick which couples process or two: Get Another Job.

If you're a pharmacist and you don't want to dispense medication: Get Another Job.

If you're a clergyman, congrats! You already don't have to do anything because, despite your best efforts, there's still a teeny wall between church and state.

So there's your options. STFU or Get Another Job.

'Comments on news stories a double-edged sword'

No, not they are not a double-edged sword, they area a single-edged sword and they cut everyone - and the point of journalism - to ribbons.

If I could change anything about modern media, it would be to remove comments from news stories. Want them on features? Editorials? Okay, fine. But on actually news stories, no. If you, a reader, need to comment, then start a damn blog and have a field day. Comments represent faux-participation and empowerment at its worst. They also allow us to be lazy, ill-informed, gossip-mongering idiots.

Friday, May 01, 2009

So You Think It's The Same As Dancing With The Stars?

It's not.

And now, a post on the best show you might not be watching for a lot of bad reasons. That show: So You Think You Can Dance. It's a "reality show" sure - but it's more of a reasonable competition than most of them.

A lot more people watch Dancing With The Stars and American Idol - the closest analogues to SYTYCD. Each show, however, misses, where SYTYCD hits its mark every time. DWTS features B-E list stars who we like to see do something outside their comfort zone. It's clever. It's sometimes impressive. But really, these are people who made at least a B-E list name for themselves, are probably mostly financially secure, and really, don't have much riding on the contest aside from ego and the hope to bump back up to B list (there's no hitting A from there, kids). And on Idol, well, it's just easier to fake singing prowess than to fake dancing prowess. More people can sing than can dance. Or more people can sing well enough than can dance well enough to make it to the main event. And the Idol kids have a lot riding on their show: fame, fortune, record contracts. Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson are big deals now. They are A list names and talents and they got there from a televised, highly produced television program. And the Idol kids, knowing what's riding on this contest, have an exponentially higher probability of being whiny, pissy, entitled, snarky, foolish little bitches than the kids I'm about to praise. The dancers.

See, the SYTYCD kids, they're hoping for fame too, but they aren't stupid about what fame means for a dancer. It's just not going to be the same kind of fame as an Idol kid might receive. Dance isn't as valued or as easily transmitted to the masses as is singing. So they could end up on tour as back up dancers with big A-list singers. They can choreograph for TV or other productions. They can end up on DWTS, paired with a B-E lister. They can end up in more serious dance troupes on stage somewhere.

Because their fame worth as much as the Idol kids, they end up being NICER on the show. They listen and take heed of critiques. They strive to do better. They don't thumb their noses and say, with conviction, that nasal IS a singing style.

My only warning to the producers of SYTYCD (the very same as for Idol) is to watch the dumbing down of the judging process. Last season saw some of our most learned judges refrain from serious explanation of short comings and too much reliance on "that was beautiful" rather than, those turns were sloppy, and in the Tango, you must do X, Y, Z and in hip hop is different than krunk because of A, B, C. This show has the ability to teach the viewer something about dance and should hold its judges and dancers accountable for delivering that education. A trip to Paula/Randy Judges Land would not keep me watching.

Even if you don't know a thing about dancing past what you witnessed from your comfortable position supporting the wall in your junior high gymnasium, you can enjoy this program. It's educational, culturally relevent, and cast with dancers who you'll care about because they aren't assholes and they are talented.

Set your DVRs for May 21 and don't miss the only thing worth watching TV for in the summer.

And seriously, Mom, I mean you.