Friday, December 23, 2011

Awwwww!!!


How adorable is this?  I am afraid I may not be able to be anti-Bieber much longer.  I may have to actually ... like the kid.

First Bieber comes out as pro-life (he is on the record as saying "I really don't believe in abortion.  It's like killing a baby."), which I whole-heartedly agree with.  And he gives money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation - a great charity.  And now this - he's such a natural with his 3-year-old sister.  Such a good-hearted kid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Great quotes (part 2)

So I was on a plane the other day and I was reading the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell.  Great book.  Highly recommend it.  Only problem?  I finished the book and I still had 4 hours left on the plane.  And I couldn't sleep.  Fantastic.  Okay, what the #$*& do I do now?  Hmmm.

Oh yeah - I have some old This Rock magazines stashed in my backpack.  That should kill some time.  So, every issue there is a section with discussion on a selected piece of artwork.  There was a letter in the May/June 2011 issue responding to the previous issue’s art column, discussing the idea that art for its own sake just for the artist to declare his existence is primitive.  Which brings me to my great quote:
The bare "assertion of the self’s presence" which is embedded in the creation and experience of art is therefore not so much a "primitive" but a primal, essential, and fundamental sort of communication.  And if it is barbaric for artists to assert their existence that way, then God, who sounds the great I AM through all Creation, is the chief Barbarian of them all.
                                                                                                  - Michael Schrauzer

Awesome.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Love to hate ... or do I?

So ... I found this site that I love to hate.  Sure, the stories are pretty entertaining and all, but the tone of the administrator and the commenters is just so cold and catty - ick.  It's fun to read the commenters and think to myself, "Thank goodness I am not an awful, ugly, judgmental person like everyone here."  I know it's not really the best habit to be in, but whatever.

But then out of the blue, here comes this story, where the admin begins by saying,
Given the sterile and 2 dimensional nature of online publishing, I probably come across as stiff, rigid, a party pooper extraordinaire. People who have met me in real life are surprised that I laugh uproariously and easily, I find joy in the simplest of things and I love to have fun.
Okay - maybe we are getting somewhere.  Interesting that this woman chose to comment about how she really isn't thus ugly, cold person in real life.  I wonder why she would feel the need to do this.  Maybe because she really is a human being after all?

Anyway, I was not about to let this chance pass.  So I submitted the following comment:
Admin, the reason you come off as stiff and rigid is not just because blogging is two-dimensional.  It is sometimes the things you say and how you say them that come across as a bit cold.
The most recent example that comes to mind were your comments on Relatively Bratty .  The OP only mentioned money at all as evidence to show that the aunt's assertion that she had somehow supported the OP in the past is baseless.  However, for whatever reason, that is not how you chose to read it.  When I read the story, and then your comment (and the odd focus of your comment in relation to the story), the impression that gives is of a cold woman jealously guarding her money.
It can also help if you start positive by describing what one should do and the underlying principles behind what one should do before transitioning into an example of "what not to do."
No offense intended - the fact that you mentioned how you think people see you tells me that this is somewhat on your mind, and implies that perhaps you are not totally satisfied with the way you present yourself online.
Who knows if it will be approved and visible on the site.  Probably not.  However, if it is, I will take that as a sign that she is a human being that recognizes that it is possible to present herself a bit differently.  I await with bated breath ....

UPDATE 11/21/11: The admin has approved quite a few comments, but has not approved mine.  I doubt that she will.  Oh well.  She asked for the commentary and I gave it to her.  /shrug.  I did what I could.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Best quotes (lately)


Best Ron Paul quote ever:
"[Ron Paul’s] supporters are akin to ‘Battlestar Galactica’ loyalists at a ‘Star Trek’ convention, incapable of winning many converts and themselves unwilling to switch teams."

As a (current) Ron Paul supporter, BSG fan (BSG4life!), AND Star Trek fan, best. Quote. Evah.  Nuff said.

Best quote about Texans:
Following Rick Perry’s entry into the GOP race: “The Texan enters with one heck of a handicap, namely: He’s a Texan.  And the rest of the country, to indulge in the broadest-based, unfairest, most stereotypical of generalizations (my specialty), doesn’t much like Texas.  Which is just fine with Texans, who (a) don’t much care, being Texans, and (b) may not like the rest of the country, either."

LMAO!!!  This quote is SO true.  I lived in Texas for a while, and I actually found the state pride rather charming.   It's the only state where I have seen people paint the state flag on their curb.  Of course, it helps that the state flag is a rather simple design, but still.  I liked it.


Seen any good quotes lately?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh HUD, my HUD! Our fearful trip is done!



OMG!  The government owns repossessed homes!!!
 
You don’t say?! If you REALLY want to know what to do, how about you let people actually buy them, hmmmm?  (See my upcoming novel about how not to buy a house)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Phoebe Prince

So I was reading this article on the Phoebe Prince situation and the aftermath.  First of all, it’s a good article and a valuable piece because it’s important to read a logical, articulate piece that runs contrary to the dominant reporting in the media.  So check it out.  And while you’re at it, check out the interview with Flannery Mullins (one of the girls involved).
Overall, the tone of these pieces is very sympathetic to the kids who were in conflict with Phoebe before she died.  To be honest, I have limited sympathy because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the bullying that girls do.  I did go to middle school like a normal person, after all.  But then again, I am perfectly aware that because of what I’ve experienced, I have a hard time being rational about all this.
In these pieces, the conflict has been chalked up to “normal teenage drama.”  Well, why is it “normal,” hmmm?  Perhaps because we allow it?  In her interview, Flannery said that in hindsight, she would have talked to Phoebe directly about all the rumors that were circulating instead of reacting aggressively.  Oh?  And what does it take to learn these lessons?  Is it possible to teach teens to treat each other like human beings WITHOUT heaping felony charges on them for “normal” (but unjustifiable) teenage drama?
The na├»ve side of me wants to say that “well, maybe these teens strung up on the gallows of public opinion will serve as an example to other teens who would otherwise bully.”  But the realistic side of me understands that the LAST word you can reliably use to describe people (let alone teens) is rational.
So … what was the point of charging them with everything but the kitchen sink?  The DA (Elizabeth Scheibel) HAD to have known (unless she was totally incompetent) that the charges would never stick.  You know, burden of proof on the prosecution and all.  There’s a possibility that maybe she was bullied as a pre-teen / teen and she was emotionally sensitive to the issue (I didn’t find anything) in which case she was unfit, if she couldn’t get past it to be impartial at her job. 
Emily Bazelon makes the case that Scheibel has a history of overreaching.  The prime example she provides was of a 17-year-old who put his hand inside the back of a gay student’s pants and put a finger in his butt.  (!)  Call me crazy, but that goes FAR beyond “normal drama” in my book.  And why would you even want to do something like that?  Gross.  Anyway, Scheibel’s office prosecuted the kid (good!) and recommended some prison time, probation, and a listing on the sex offender registry.  We don’t know the outcome yet (I couldn’t find any sort of final outcome) but the kid came out in support of the kids accused in Phoebe’s death, saying, “I can relate to him probably really well because I know what its like to fuck up and make a mistake and have your whole life spiral downwards on you in the blink of an eye.”  Hmmm.  Excuse me while I cry a river for this poor, innocent soul … maybe not.  I can tell by the way this is written that I am supposed to feel sorry for the kid, but why should I?  Need I remind you, he stuck a finger in a gay kid’s butt.  Yes, I would argue that it’s abnormal behavior to the degree that some sex offender registry time would be appropriate.
In response to the idea that she is overzealous, Scheibel said: “I’ve been doing this a long time.  I’ve been working with ‘blame the victim’ and ‘you overreach’ and all that.  I don’t agree with [Bazelon’s] assessment, that’s all.”  That was all I found on Scheibel’s response.  Bazelon’s article quotes an online bio of her where a childhood friend described how she beat up a bully who was picking on her younger brother (you go, girl!), but when I tried to follow the link it was no longer there.  Hmmm.  But that’s all the background info I found.  (If you find anything, let me know please.)
The accused kids had some pretty serious repercussions – the irrational part of me says “Good!  They deserve it!  Normal teenage drama, my foot.”  But the rational part of me says, “Now, now – the punishment should fit the crime.  And it doesn’t.”
This is one of those situations that make me glad it’s not my responsibility to run the world.  What about you?  What would you have done differently if it were up to you?

Did ya miss me?

I’ve been away for a while (moving from Podunk, Montana to Chicago) and when I dropped off the face of the earth I had some half-finished thoughts for this blog.  So, due to extenuating circumstances (i.e. moving a long bleeping way), I reserve the right to blog about some OLD stuff for a bit.  How old? Old.  Embarrassingly old.  Which is why I’m pointing it out NOW before anyone says, “Gosh, Athena – you REALLY missed the boat.  Don’t you know that’s old news?”
Speaking of news, in other news -   
I took the train into the city for the first time the other day to go check out my new office.  I am sure I looked like a tourist – I was looking around and up at EVERYTHING with (I’m sure) a look of awed excitement on my face while trying not to stare / look weird.  I almost wish people came with license plates because if I had put a Montana license plate on my butt it would have made much more sense to the casual observer:
Random stranger (thinking to themselves): Gosh that chick is acting awfully strange.  Has she NEVER seen a building over 5 stories before? (notices Montana license plate) Ohhhh … I see.  That explains a lot.
Later that day, I am sitting in my office up in one of those big buildings and I look out at the skyline.  Then it suddenly and randomly hits me – OMG!  I live in Chicago.  I work in freaking downtown Chicago.  How awesome is that?!  So if you haven’t guessed yet, I am really, REALLY excited about moving here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Yay!

Juan Williams is subbing for Bill O'Reilly tonight!  Williams invariably does a much better job than O'Reilly.

*rubs hands in excitement*

Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Demographic Winter (part III)

Before I begin, I wanted to clarify something – I re-read part II and realized that I implied that the only reason women were in the workforce was as a back-up plan when their breadwinner husbands abdicated their responsibilities.  That is not what I wanted to say.  In actuality, plenty of women join the workforce because they are driven, ambitious ladies in their own right.  In some cases (mine included), women join the workforce out of necessity, but it’s not why they stay; we stay because the benefits outweigh the costs, be it the money, power, or intellectual stimulation.  So, now that I have set this up properly, what I MEANT to say was that the number of women in the workforce is higher than it would otherwise be if formerly breadwinner husbands didn’t become deadbeats.  Which is relevant because the people behind this documentary are trying to link the increase in women in the work force to the impending demographic crisis, and they are presenting the info in a manner that blames women.
Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to go into rant mode.  This is my reaction, and it gets personal.  So if that’s not your thing, go read something else.
The documentary states (several times) that by virtually every social measure, two-parent biological families are the best.  Well, let’s just say that they are.  Not such a difficult concept on the whole.  But what does that mean?  Is it a prescription?  Does it mean that every single woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant should marry the baby’s father?  Or maybe every unexpectedly pregnant single woman should have an abortion because she’s not married?  Does it mean that divorce should never happen?  And if divorce is necessary or a spouse is widowed, is remarriage bad?  Remarriage does, after all, introduce a non-biological element to the family.  These considerations are curiously absent.  The producers also seem to be blissfully unaware that because of the ease of divorce, the remaining marriages are largely a self-selecting population of healthy, stable relationships.  You mean kids in healthy families do better than in unhealthy ones?  You don’t say! 
Let me go off on some of the things the documentary brings up as supposed evidence of “a society obsessed with focus on the self.”  It’s been a while since part II, so you’ll forgive me if I occasionally repeat myself:
Delaying marriage
Well, let me turn that back around on the conservative crowd – I have only seen one person dare to suggest that in the conservative value system, people ought to get married young.  Everyone else – “oh, when you are YOUNG you are supposed to get out and enjoy life!”  And don’t get me started on the expectation that we are supposed to spend our hormonal, fertile years celibate (because, of course, we’re not married).  Plus, weddings are expensive.  Takes time to save up.
Delaying kiddos
You know those college degrees?  The ones that let us earn enough money to actually support a family?  Yup, the very same.  Guess what?  Those things are EXPENSIVE.  We spend a LOT more time than our parents did getting our financial footing.  Who in their right mind is going to choose to have a baby when they are young?  Of course, birth control isn’t 100% effective, so sometimes kiddos come along before we think we’re ready, but we figure it out.  But on the whole, that’s upwards of 90% of kids that aren’t getting conceived until later in their parents’ lives. 
Cohabiting is not conducive to childbearing
Maybe, maybe not.  Lots of assumptions baked in here.  You would still preserve that two-parent biological family, after all!  Why would it make any difference?  People tend to have pretty strong desires when they want kids, regardless of their marital status.  And never mind the growing population of married people that don’t want children – they don’t fit into the stereotypes that the documentary’s producers want to perpetuate, so we’ll just pretend they don’t exist.
So as I sit there over Thanksgiving and watch this with my mother (grew up in a nuclear Catholic family with 6 kids, married her college sweetheart (my dad) right out of college and is still happily married today), I naturally object to the biased, highly subjective speculation.  And when I do …
“I thought you would be interested in the economics!” she says.  Well, yes, I was – for the 20 minutes they talked economics.  The remaining 2 hours was all about how I am contributing to the upcoming economic Armageddon because of my … err … nontraditional background.  You’ll forgive me if I actually notice (!) that I am being insulted.  But it’s sad – my mother’s attitude is exactly the same as most social conservatives I have seen - completely and totally blind to the way they callously criticize everyone who doesn’t fit their copy+paste template of “how it ought to be,” and then the balk when people dare to call them “insensitive” and “cold-hearted.”  Oh-so-typical of people who have never had a real problem in their lives.  Totally oblivious to what it takes to get by for some people.  As I’m sitting here being told that I am partially responsible. 
I got pregnant at 20, but did I have an abortion?  No. 
Tsk, tsk – no 2-parent family?  You didn’t marry the father? 
Well, no – we weren’t right for each other.  Right before we broke off our engagement we fought every other night, which left me crying with horror at the thought of spending the rest of my life with him.  I ended up marrying someone else, but left my unfaithful, abusive husband at 23. 
Oh good!  You got married … What?  You initiated a divorce?  Tsk, tsk.  And then you went to college and joined the workforce?  Oh my, pass the smelling salts. 
So let’s review – we begin with a perfectly legitimate, well-supported idea that we are headed for a population and economic decline worldwide.  And from there we go into this unsupportable, values-laden speculation on the state of modern life.  Conveniently enough (according to them) the solution is to go back to the 1950’s, but the logical leaps to get to that conclusion are so mind-boggling … more than anything, it just makes me sad for the obviously prevalent intellectual laziness in our culture that this type of unsupported drivel actually gets produced.