vendredi, mars 31, 2006

A Story My Daughter Wrote

Sorry I haven't updated much this week. I was out of town and unable to get online!

There is much I want to write about this week:

The smoking ban finally hits St. Paul.
Steroids in baseball.
John McCain - the sellout

But, yesterday, we got a transcribed story from our daughter's montessori school. I love the story and its message about how our initial impressions can fail us. It seems there is a hidding message inside about her birthday party (we have until August to plan). Most of all, I love the sparse, haiku-like ending:

This is a forest where you can find all kinds of surprises. There is a castle with a king and a queen and princess. There was also a dragon named Fire Dragon. The castle almost blew down because the dragon had hard breath. The castle blew back up. He didn't want the castle to blow down. He turned into a nice dragon.

Then it was Spring.

It was the princess's birthday. She got a pony for her birthday. It was a sprinkler birthday. She put on her swim suit and played in the water. There were butterflies all over the garden cheering. A butterfly floated down and then he picked up a leaf from the princess's head. Two sticks fell down, and the sun was shining.

TinyE, Age 4

Have a wonderful weekend.

vendredi, mars 24, 2006

Mark on Mirrors

I want you to join my movement.
Membership is open to all who support our cause.
Our cause is simple.
Republicans must go.
You must agree to act.
But the action is simple.
You need only agree to mark on mirrors.
That's right.
Mark on mirrors.
Mark on mirrors when you are staying at a hotel.
Do not mark on mirrors with a marker.
Doing so would turn people off to our cause.
Our cause is simple.
Republicans must go.
Mark on mirrors with your finger.
Mark on mirrors right after you get out of the shower.
Mark them high.
High enough to escape the earnest housekeeper's rag.
Write a positive message about change.
Write something like "Vote Democratic."
Or "Help the Democrats take back the house."
Write a message that speaks the truth.
"Stop the lies.
Vote Democratic."
"End corruption.
Vote the Republicans out."
Make your own message.
I want you to join my movement.
Membership is open to all who support our cause.
Our cause is simple.
Republicans must go.
You must agree to act.
But the action is simple.

jeudi, mars 23, 2006

First Investigate, Then Impeach, or: If I'm Not Mistaken, Turnabout is Fair Play

I wholeheartedly support this resolution.

My only requested amendment is that I think they also need to investigate the FISA violations on the grounds that they constitute impeachable offenses (in fact, some Republican columnist described Bush as the first President to admit to an impeachable offense).

I’m proud that Democratic Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar (8th District) is a co-sponsor, here are the others who have signed on:

Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Democrat, 1st District
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, 2nd District
Lois Capps, California Democrat, 23rd District
William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, 1st District
John Conyers, Michigan Democrat, 14th District
Sam Farr, California Democrat, 17th District
Maurice Hinchey, New York Democrat, 22nd District
Michael Honda, California Democrat, 15th District
Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, 18th District
Barbara Lee, California Democrat, 9th District
John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, 5th District
Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat, 14th District
Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, 7th District
Cynthia McKinney, Georgia Democrat, 4th District
Gwen Moore, Wisconsin Democrat, 4th District
Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, 8th District
John Olver, Massachusetts Democrat, 1st District
Major Owens, New York Democrat, 11th District
Donald Payne, New Jersey Democrat, 10th District
Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, 15th District
Janice Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, 9th District
Fortney Stark, California Democrat, 13th District
John Tierney, Massachusetts Democrat, 6th District
Nydia Velazquez, New York Democrat, 12th District
Maxine Waters, California Democrat, 35th District
Lynn Woolsey, California Democrat, 6th District

Write your Democratic* elected Representative and ask them to co-sponsor this bill. Here’s the text of the note I sent to my Congresswoman, Betty McCollum:

Please co-sponsor House Resolution 635. I think it is important to investigate impeachable offenses when they occur. Sponsoring this resolution will send a strong message that the American people have a right to know whether this war was initiated under false pretenses.

As well, might it be appropriate to add to the scope of the investigation a review of the Bush Administration's disregard for FISA?

Thank you for your consideration of this important resolution.

*Heck, write to your Republican Congressman/Congresswoman too - tell them it is a chance to clear Bush's name - yeah, they'll by that.

mercredi, mars 22, 2006

ILIM Commands All Liberals to Go Forth and Procreate

So, last week I was struck dumb (okay, struck dumber) by news of the worst kind.

It appears that conservatives are procreating at a much greater rate (worldwide and in the U.S.) than liberals are.

Here’s a great piece about it on NPR.

Within the story, the tidbit that cracked me up the most is that – the state that has the highest birthrate is Utah (regarded as a very conservative state), and the state with the lowest birthrate is Vermont (regarded as a very liberal state).

The scariest tidbit - and the only natural conclusion - is that...overtime, the world will become more conservative.

Unless there's a 1960's style shake up. Usher in a new era of free love, but this time ease up on the birth control!


Here are my theories:

First, I simply refuse to believe that conservatives have more or better sex than liberals. That’s impossible.

But I think liberals use birth control more often than conservatives do.
Liberals also don’t have (at the same rate) a religious motivation to go forth and procreate.

Liberals are more likely to buy into the whole ZPG (zero population growth) philosophy and either have fewer children, or no children.

Volvo doesn’t make a mini-van, and so Volvo-driving, latte-drinking liberals can’t fit very many kids in a car*and therefore don't have very many kids.

*Although the Volvo SUV can seat as many as seven passengers (so a lesbian, gay, interracial or Unitarian couple and their five kids could fit in it comfortably) and has a nifty latte holder, it is still out because true liberals don’t buy SUVs.

mardi, mars 21, 2006

An Observation

So, many of you know that I work for a Fortune 500 company*. I'm writing to you from a hotel not far from our corporate headquarters. What blows my mind about our company (and we have about 25,000 employees) is that we have so many exceptional people who work here. I assume that we are like most large corporations in America - we have a lot of folks who are intelligent, creative, hard-working, talented, dedicated, etc. We also have our share of dunderheads.

The reason I give you this background** is that as I type this, I'm watching the President's news conference. It is clear to me that the President is a man of ideas - or that he has memorized some ideas, but I'm blown away by how (frankly) unable he is to express those ideas when he is not reading speeches. Listening to him answer questions, watching him lean on the podium, taking in his facial expressions and contortions, counting all the "ums" and "I believes," there is no way the President could win speaker points in a high school debate tournament (he'd take the 4 in every round), and there is even less of a chance that he can sell a concept or win support for a theory. He is neither persuasive nor articulate, and, as one listens to him, it is almost impossible not to focus on his labored efforts to communicate, rather than on the message takes pains to get across.

I'm sure that in person he is a man of abundant charisma, but on television, answer questions from white house correspondents*** he is inept and sad.

*In fact, I was just promoted to Vice President - in jest I say it's a shinier pair of handcuffs, but, in all candor, I'm kind of honored and humbled and proud all at the same time.

**Besides trumpeting my promotion - gosh, I'm so modest.

***The news conference is over, and CNN is applauding the President for calling on Helen Thomas to ask him a question. It's the first time he's done that in three years. Never let it be said that one cannot earn praise by setting very low expectations and then doing very little.

mardi, mars 14, 2006

The Three Discs I Love Most Right Now are Not in My Lumbar Region which Aches from Snow Shoveling Yesterday

I received three CD’s in the mail last week (don’t hate). It’s all a part of my effort to catch up to stuff I missed last year.

The Strokes First Impressions of Earth
Though my friends teased me with abandon, I was absolutely gaga over The Strokes’ 2001 debut: Is This It – I probably saw it as too much. I liked that it was a return to the heady days of the album, short tracks, and a short disc; it left you (at least me) craving more. Their sophomore effort, Room on Fire like so many sophomore efforts, disappointed. How could it not? It wasn’t without its charm, but it was a pale shadow of the initial effort’s greatness. And I’ll admit that I bought First Impressions of Earth with reservations, but I’m pleased now to report my pleasant surprise. It is not as strong as “Is This It?” with its amazing tendency to establish a pattern, to deviate from it and then to return to it – illuminating both the pattern and the deviation, but it is strong nonetheless. For all the people who are prepared to dismiss The Strokes as a fad (as the Arctic Monkeys of 2001), this latest effort is a wonderful, hard to deny rebuttal.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Believe the hype here. I was absolutely enchanted by this disc, until I got to track 6 “Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” at which time, I decided to renounce Wilco and Radiohead and follow this band to the end of the earth. Suddenly, everything except Republicanism made sense. Okay, so maybe that’s overstated (I’m still gleefully getting emails from the Radiohead and Wilco fan clubs), but this is a wonderful, wonderful album – at once quite complex and very simple. It’s full of something that is not as common as it once was, careful craft and attention to detail, little tiny things emerging and disappearing, the occasional surprise, but more, something you can chew on for days and days without loosing any flavor. This was the soundtrack to my NYC weekend (pictures of said weekend to follow).

But by far and away the jewel of the three pack is:

Sufjan Stevens Come on Feel the Illinoise
So do you know this guy? His goal is to make an album for each of the fifty states. I can tell you as a matter of absolute fact, he will not make it. Not even if he lives to be 150. He’s too careful a craftsman, and he puts too much into each song and disc. He researches the state and tells its story, and he tells it remarkably well. This guy is the guy that guys like me regard with jealous awe. He’s like the handsome star athlete with the easy 4.0 GPA, who’s a hit with the ladies and is, on top of it all, a nice guy. You love that guy, and you’re a bit envious. That’s Sufjan Stevens. But in this case, instead of being the state champion quarterback, he’s an hisotorian, a poet, a musician, and he’s extremely gifted in each. As I listen to his lyrics, I find myself thinking: my God, I wish I could write like that. The stories he chooses to tell leave you with a sense of Illinois that just seems apt, and his voice transports me to places where - as I drive my Subaru from point A to point B – I want to pull over instead and close my eyes (“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” features a lilting warble that arrests me every time I hear it). I want to give this art my full and undivided attention. Every once in a great while, I find a disc that I would recommend to anyone who likes any style or genre, a disc so great that it defies all that, a disc that no one who likes music even a little will fail to admire. Friends, this is that disc.

mardi, mars 07, 2006

Al Franken Crushed My Buzz; and Intro to Saipan

I just finished reading Al Franken’s “The Truth (with jokes),” and it totally brought me down. You should read it. It has Franken’s trademark humorous touch, but it really zeroes in on the dark and unpleasant side of Republicanism.

I told me very little that I didn’t already know, but somehow, having it broken down, and having more detail really made my head hurt and my heart heavy.

Bush lied about Iraq (and in a zillion different ways). Sorry to shock you.

Bush lied about Kerry (in a disgusting way, leveraging Rove, who lies to wins – just makes up horrible things about people. Simply hiring Rove is morally wrong.).

Bush turns a blind eye to corruption and theft in Iraq.

He does so with the help of Minnesota’s Senator, Norm Coleman (he chairs the subcommittee responsible for investigating corruption, but does nothing).

Bush used homophobia to win.

Bush lied about Social Security.

They lied about Schiavo (did you know that he autopsy concluded that she her brain suffered profound and irreversible damage?).

Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff are disgusting.

Abramoff is a money-grubbing racist. Please stay in prison forever. Thanks.

And DeLay…well…have you heard of Saipan? I’m ashamed to say that, beyond luxury trips for members of Congress, I hadn’t. So, I plan to talk about Saipan in the next few posts.

Today: Intro to Saipan

Saipan is the largest island in the Northern Mariana Islands (a chain of 14 tropical islands in the Western Pacific – about 120 miles north of Guam).

The Northern Mariana Islands are United States Commonwealths.

Spain originally included Saipan as part of is Marianas.

Around 1899, Saipan fell under German rule.

In 1914, Japan took over the island and developed fishing and sugar industries.

They used Saipan for troops during World War II, 30,000 troops were stationed there.

In 1944, U.S. Marines spent three hard-fought weeks securing the island as part of the Battle of Saipan.

Although Saipan is a U.S. Commonwealth, it is exempt from U.S. labor and immigration laws.

Several U.S. companies take advantage of this by paying below-subsistence wages (way below) but applying the “Made in the U.S.” label to goods.

A lot of bad things happen in Saipan.

Those bad things happen because Republicans allow them to happen.

A lot of the bad things do not square with what “morality” voters would expect from their moral leaders.

By some twist in the law, Saipan does not follow U.S. labor laws, but good manufactured in Saipan carry the “Made in the U.S.” label.

vendredi, mars 03, 2006

My Top Five of Three Things


5. "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernie Hemingway
4. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
3. "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen
2. "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1. "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville


5. Amadeus
4. The Godfather Parts I and II
3. The Big Lebowski
2. The Bicycle Thief
1. Trois Coleurs Trilogy (Bleu, Blanc et Rouge)


5. Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On?
4. Sonic Youth: Daydream Nation
3. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2. Radiohead: Kid A
1. Nirvana: Nevermind

With a grateful nod to this clown.

mercredi, mars 01, 2006

Hate and Ignorace Renamed

The crackerjack staff at ILIM proposes names for the abortion ban legislation in South Dakota, HB 1215.

The “South Dakota Misogyny Act” of 2006.

The “Interstate Travel for Middle and Upper Class Women Act” of 2006.

The “Stick-it to Poor Women Act” of 2006.

The “Challenge to Roe v. Wade at the Expense of Women and Privacy Act” of 2006.

The “Kansas is Dumb, but South Dakota is Dumber Act” of 2006.

The “Sorry You Were Raped, But…Act” of 2006.

The “It’s Not My Problem You’re a Victim of Incest , Carry that Baby for the State Act” of 2006.

The "Remember Your Rape of Incest for 40 Weeks Act" of 2006.

The "You Should have Thought of the Consequences While You were Being Raped Act" of 2006.

The “Promotion of Christian Theocracy Act” of 2006.

The “Criminalization of Healthcare Act” of 2006.

The "We Don’t Plan to Offset this with any Education, Meaningful Opportunities, Birth Control, or Support for Women Act” of 2006.

The “South Dakota to Minnesota Healthcare Travel and Tourism Act” of 2006.

The “Back Alley Abortion Act” of 2006.

The "Trust Me on This None of Our Wives or Daughters Will Suffer as a Result of this Law Act" of 2006.