Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Odds and Sods - Aries 2011 edition

Happy Aries and happy April. Hope all is well in Blogdonia!

As for me, I am doing much better than, say, Ashley Judd, who started a controversy with this quote from her recent book:

"As far as I'm concerned, most rap and hip-hop music -- with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as 'ho's' -- is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny."
And now everybody is mad at her. (sigh)

See yesterday's post. This is why the current discourse remains at kindergarten level, because public figures are chronically afraid of "offending" someone by offering an honest opinion. As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes at the above link, Judd is already backpedaling and trying to minimize the impact of her statement.


By way of Suzan, here is the always-amazing truth-teller Chris Hedges:
Teachers, their unions under attack, are becoming as replaceable as minimum-wage employees at Burger King. We spurn real teachers—those with the capacity to inspire children to think, those who help the young discover their gifts and potential—and replace them with instructors who teach to narrow, standardized tests. These instructors obey. They teach children to obey. And that is the point. The No Child Left Behind program, modeled on the “Texas Miracle,” is a fraud. It worked no better than our deregulated financial system. But when you shut out debate these dead ideas are self-perpetuating.

Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
Amen, amen! Preach it!

(And my kindest, most loving thoughts go out to my favorite teacher, whom I hope is reading.)


If you eat fish or even take fish oil supplements, please read this account from TIME magazine, titled How My Mercury Level Hit Double the Safety Limit:
But here's what I want to know: How was I exposed to mercury? I don't exactly handle the metal in my job, so I probably wouldn't be directly exposed to it. But I do eat seafood — a lot. I probably have a tuna sandwich twice a week for lunch, and I eat sushi — a habit I picked up during my reporting stint in Japan — almost as often. I always thought those choices were healthy — and indeed, fish like tuna are a valuable source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. But those same fish can have high mercury levels.

This post is a MUST READ work of art, hands down. Thanks to the intrepid Mr Daisy for forcing me to read it. The graphic alone is worth an award!

Money quote:
I’ve spent the last month helping my neighbors deal with their current health care crisis. She’s not really my neighbor, as she and her sister live next to my parents down the street, but when you live in a town of 300, everyone is your neighbor. They’ve lived next to my folks since I was thirteen. The elder sister (76) was married to an American, and they fled Beirut to America in 1983. Her husband died, so now it is just her and her sister (70.) Her sister had been having some problems, so they went to a doctor, then went to an endocrinologist, and long story short, it appears that she has a thyroid tumor the size of a canned ham in her chest. If she does not have it removed, it will continue to grow and kill her. We don’t know if it is cancerous, and there is no real way to know for sure, as it is so big that any biopsy of one area may not show anything, but cancer may exist elsewhere. Over the past few weeks, we have been to ENT doctors, cardiologists, thoracic surgeons, general practitioners, we’ve had biopsy, nuclear stress tests, cat scans, EKG’s, EEG’s, the works. In a couple weeks, she will have life-saving surgery, and she is healthy as a horse and will probably live for another twenty years.

Why am I telling you this? Because Medicare is paying for it. You, me, and everyone else who pays taxes is keeping this woman alive, and I am here to tell you it is worth every penny. She’s a wonderful, witty, charming woman with a lot to give the world. Without medicare, and under the Ryan “plan,” there is no chance she would be able to afford insurance, no one would insure a woman of her age with this health problem (just like it was before there was no medicare), no chance she would be able to afford the work that has and will be done, no one to provide the care she will need after surgery, and this tumor would be a death sentence. Her options would be… to die.

Sometimes, you think they must be making this stuff up. For instance: GOP Marks Oil Spill Anniversary With Drilling Push. Are they joking with that?

We're one week away from the first anniversary of the worst oil spill in the nation's history, and to commemorate it, House Republicans spent Wednesday marking up a trio of bills that would dramatically increase drilling in the US.

The bills, all from Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, would open new areas for drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans, as well as Alaska's Bristol Bay. They would also speed up the process of approving drilling permits; after 60 days permits will be considered approved regardless of whether an environmental review is complete.


And when I read stuff like the following, I just shake my head, stunned... see, in these parts, the dispute would be that someone did NOT want to say the Pledge of Allegiance:

Town wrestles with Pledge of Allegiance
BROOKLINE, Mass., April 13 (UPI) -- A Boston suburb is embroiled in a dispute about saying the Pledge of Allegiance in its public schools.

The policy approved last week by the Brookline School Committee requires the recitation of the pledge once a week in all K-8 schools. School officials said they were trying to find a policy that would meet both the state mandate on the pledge and court rulings banning students or staff members from being forced to say it, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

The school committee specifically said no student is required to join in, but those who do not must maintain a respectful silence. At the same time, the committee said children who do recite the pledge must not make fun of or harass those who do not.

The pledge became an issue when Gerardo Martinez, principal of Devotion School, one of the eight K-8 schools, sent parents a letter in December. He said the Pledge of Allegiance, which had not been recited at Devotion for about five years, would be said voluntarily once a week.

Brookline, a liberal enclave in one of the most liberal states and the hometown of former Gov. Michael Dukakis, who was accused of lack of patriotism when he ran for president in 1988, became a target on conservative blogs.

Parents and other residents have lined up on both sides. Katie Tagliavia said she found it "horrifying" that most of the girls in her Scout troop did not know the pledge, while Martin Rosenthal, a former selectman and father of a Devotion student, said he does not see any educational value in reciting it.
It's like news from another country.

Maybe it is. After all, for four years, this WAS another country, called the Confederate States of America. I hope to address the Civil War nostalgia of the moment (150th anniversary of the war) in a later post. Simply put, I believe the election of a black president has brought the nostalgia to a rather noxious boiling point. Ugh.


And finally... your much-delayed dose of cute: Harley and Daisy endure necessary housing repairs!

This would very much upset my (quite spoiled and overprotected) kitties, so I think they are doing GREAT! I hope everything is back to normal in your home soon, Harley and Daisy! :)


John Powers said...

I'm so out of it when it comes to pop culture. When I saw the hullabaloo over Ashley Judd's comments I wasn't sure who Judd was. I read about it being pointed to this blog post. My reaction to Judd's response to the criticism was she's brilliant!

She didn't back down one iota from speaking out against hate and violence towards women and girls. And by her own example asserted the importance of individual and collective responsibility.

She points out that history matters and knowing the history of discrimination against Rednecks helps her empathize with people who were hurt by her seemingly blanket condemnation of rap and hip hop. She says in effect that she's not pretending innocence because she's white. That pretending innocence is precisely the problem. We have to face our responsibilities from who we are and where we are.

She listened and by listening knows that empathy is powerful. That's one part of loving. But another part necessary is to oppose "hatred of girls and women...with spiritual and non-violent principles every day."

Ashely Judd is courageous. She didn't feint from white privilege, indeed her contention that misogyny is at the root of social ills makes her aware how privilege harms. White privilege is just another part of our sad history. Her response is to keep loving in the face of hatred.

I've gone from not knowing who Ashley Judd is to being a fan.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Ironically, I was getting ready to update --AT LONG LAST-- the brave little "Dead Air Feminist Film Series". I was intending to add the lovely indie movie "Ruby in Paradise"--which I now hereby recommend to you since it appears I will never get around to writing the damn thing.

Judd is amazingly genuine and so respectful of her working-class character. (This is the person you are describing, in fact.) Check it out.

John Powers said...

Thanks for the movie recommendation. I rarely watch movies, and that's a bad thing, easily corrected.

"Odd and Sods" always brings up too much to comment on. I ought to rant on my own blog which I haven't touched in months.

JoJo said...

Excellent odds & sods!! I'm glad Ashley Judd said what she said. I hate it when people get upset at someone for either speaking their mind, or telling the truth.

Rep. Hastings is from my state? How weird, never heard of him.

My alienated punk rock self came up with my own pledge of allegiance when I was a senior in high school. My homeroom teacher didn't find it at all amusing when I would recite my version while the rest of the class was reciting theirs. Oh well...I was 16. What did I know?

sheila said...

I always liked Ashley Judd.
I'm grateful I don't eat a lot of fish now. Yuck.
The oil companies never cease to amaze me, but even more, it never ceases to amaze me how quickly things are 'forgotten' in this country. The stupidity is incredible. I saw a map not long ago of little dots in the Gulf... each one being an oil rig. It was sickening.

2020 said...

This has been the best and most interesting response to the Ashley Judd statement I've read