Saturday, May 22, 2010

Odds and Sods - St Rita's edition

A rather long time since I did an Odds and Sods post, so here we are.

I've dipped my toe back into the waters of Blogdonia with great trepidation, keeping my head down, minding my manners and decidedly not frightening the horses. See? Despite what you may have heard, I CAN behave myself when I want!


Today is the Feast of St Rita of Cascia, subject of many fevered novenas from Daisy in years past. Since she is also the saint in charge of the bees, I decided I'd include some links on what the experts have named colony collapse disorder. Believe it or not, as one connected to herbs in a personal way, I have stayed awake at night worrying over the fate of the bees. The poor bees could be signaling The End of The World As We Know It.

And now, a big hole in the ocean and an oil leak the size of Madagascar, drilled by evil greedheads. No, I guess THIS will be our undoing, the meteor-to-the-dinosaurs. I am sick over this, and it has superseded my worrying over bees.

Too much to worry about.

Um, just a question, but what is Obama doing? Does he have his thumb up his ass or what? Is he actually WAITING for BP to fix their multi-billion dollar, environmental disaster? And why should he wait for them? It's not THEIR coastline!

I've heard this called "Obama's Katrina"--and that isn't precisely accurate (or fair), since this isn't a natural disaster, it's a thoroughly unnatural one. Nonetheless, it has the ring of truth.

Get off your ass, Mr President, and stop attending state dinners for five seconds. The future of the ocean and the coastline (not to mention people's livelihoods) is at stake and it doesn't look good when you are doing little more than photo-ops.


At left: The WWII aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, which we toured back in (I think) 1993. It's permanently parked down at Patriot's Point in Charleston Harbor.

Edit: My original photo was of a cruiser named the Yorktown, which was not the aircraft carrier Yorktown. Many thanks to the Eagle Eye of Ted Christian (who should have been in congress), a rocket scientist with attendant amazing and arcane areas of knowledge.

Mr Daisy has been reading about WWII and depressing me with talk of battleships blowing up and whatnot. As children, I remember that we all wondered when "World War III" would come, and none of us ever doubted it that it would. We asked our mothers when it would be, and few seemed to find the question bizarre or alarming... after all, they had lived through a World War, and it seemed reasonable to assume more were on the way.

Magic Lantern Show gives us beautiful photos of a French WWI memorial near Verdun, as Owen describes touring such a place:

[How] many people know that the largest American cemetery in Europe is in Romagne sous Montfaucon, or that it is from World War I and holds the graves of 14246 Americans, as well as the names of another 954 men whose bodies were never found?

I spent a few days this past fall wandering the area near Verdun looking for traces of World War I. One afternoon I stumbled on the American Cemetery near Romagne sous Montfaucon, and spent a couple of hours exploring the vast park that it is. Why had I never heard of this place? Why weren't we taught about it in high school? Walking the seemingly endless rows of white marble crosses I was short of breath, nearly gasping at the enormity of it, the tragedy of lives cut short in firestorms of flying steel and lead. The names of the dead cried out from each cross in silent pain, a name, a state, a military unit, a date of death. Who were these men who died between September 26th and November 11th, 1918, as they drove the Germans back northwards along a line to the west of Verdun? What actually happened there? What did the letters they wrote home say? What did their families and the women they loved experience in those terrible years?
We are approaching the 10th year of the war in Afghanistan, and we would do well to remember that war is hell.

Bring them home now, yesterday, last month, last year... wait, where's my new bumper sticker: I'm already against the next war.


Disturbing reading at this Feministe thread: On Hating Kids.

As of this writing, there are 632 (!) comments, and yes, I briefly commented, but (as stated previously) I minded my manners.

But truthfully?

Whenever I hear "I hate ___(fill in the blank)____" from anyone, I wince and my opinion of them goes down a notch or two, or 85. How can anyone say, I hate ____, when you simply haven't met them all?: I hate the Muslims, I hate the vegetarians, I hate gays, I hate kids. All sounds the same to me. Apparently, hating kids is regarded as different (oh, isn't it always?) since "we've all been children". Well, we will all be old someday too, but I see clearly how old people are despised in our modern culture. That may in fact be the crux of it; a hatred for the overwhelming lability of the human condition, a hatred of our own biological vulnerability. And even more than most people (a fact mentioned in the thread several times), Americans are instilled with bullshit notions of "independence" and agency. (All that pioneer/cowboy spirit, one assumes.) In the thread, it was notable how many (childless, child-free, whatever term we are supposed to be using now) people openly brag about how raising children necessarily means you simply can't do the "fun" SINGLE things anymore, so stop taking your kids to pricey restaurants (nobody cares if you take them to a poor place like McDonalds) and movies and having them kick up a noisy fuss. (Some Feministe commenters seem barely able to contain themselves: TAKE THOSE BRATS HOME, you breeder bitches!)

Hey, I totally relate to all that. I once turned around and cussed some parents out for bringing their ill-behaved tyke to an adult movie... and will be happy to do so in the future, if necessary. I can dig it, as we used to say. But proudly announcing you HATE an entire group of people is bigoted and wrong. Period. No exceptions. And I will henceforth regard you as an acknowledged hater and bigot.

As is true of all bigots, I doubt the hate stops there.

Renee has considerably more to say on the subject.


And Glenn Greenwald writes more about that wonderful Change We Can Believe In:
Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world -- far away from any battlefield -- and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called "Bush's legal black hole."
Amazingly, the Bush DOJ -- in a lawsuit brought by Bagram detainees seeking habeas review of their detention -- contended that if they abduct someone and ship them to Guantanamo, then that person [under Boumediene v. Bush] has the right to a habeas hearing, but if they instead ship them to Bagram, then the detainee has no rights of any kind. In other words, the detainee's Constitutional rights depends on where the Government decides to drop them off to be encaged. One of the first acts undertaken by the Obama DOJ that actually shocked civil libertarians was when, last February, as The New York Times put it, Obama lawyers "told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush’s legal team."
So congratulations to the United States and Barack Obama for winning the power to abduct people anywhere in the world and then imprison them for as long as they want with no judicial review of any kind.
If I may quote the very wise John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) at the infamous last performance of the Sex Pistols: Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? You should ask that question with a cockney sneer and punctuate it with spitting (or whatever bodily function you choose).

Yep. I sure do.

Barack Obama has brought the Rotten out of me.


sheila said...

As an Obama supporter...I regrettably am agreeing with you here. And let me add that letting the Mexican President speak on our floor? Crazyness. And clapping for him? *groannnnn*

It's a cryin Shame what is happening in New Orleans and the gulf states. It's almost like the last stab in the heart of America or something and there are no medics in site. WTF is BP doing and WHY is our gov't not doing something about this and BP.


JoJo said...

I love odds & sods and I have lots to comment on! Respectfully, of course. ;)

1. You be the person who you are. Remember, 'well behaved women rarely make history'. Your blog, your rules. Delete the trolls. Don't even dignify them with a response.

2. I'm a horribly bad Catholic b/c my family didn't observe anything beyond the major religious holidays. I often wonder why I've blocked all religious instruction b/c I don't remember any of it. Just being in the church during Sunday School, and getting lost in the stained glass windows. Is there a ritual or meal involved for St. Rita?

3. Can I say how relieved I am to see you asking where Obama is? I have been feeling the same way. Many of my self-described 'far left wing vegan hippie witch' friends on Facebook are discussing their deep disappointment. Obama doesn't seem as committed to the environment as I thought. :( Glad to see that I'm not alone.

4. I had no idea about all those soldiers buried at Verdun. It's surprising that there isn't more attention paid to the history of WW1.

5. I do tend to say the 'I hate kids' thing, but of course I don't mean it across the board. I have tried to be mindful of it and say, 'I am not really a kid-person' Because I am fond of many children I've met. Those Deadhead kids at shows were just so adorable, mellow and well behaved. But I won't soon forget the time we went to see a documentary at the Red Victorian Theatre in the Haight, and someone brought their newborn. It cried and cried and cried, that newborn-type cry. I could not believe they'd do that. And then not take it out to the lobby. But it wasn't considered 'ok' to say anything to them, it being SF & the Haight and all, so I sat there and quietly steamed.

Finally, LOVE the Lydon quote. I've been a big fan of his for over 30 yrs.

Have a great Sunday Daisy and great post! Lots to think about. :)

Beach Bum said...

Um, just a question, but what is Obama doing? Does he have his thumb up his ass or what?

Beats the Hell out of me, when I voted for the man I thought he would be far more dynamic and involved with the country and what is going on.

I have cut the guy some slack over what he has to put up with the right-wing media, repubs in Congress, and white people simply freaking over the idea of a black man in the White House but I just don't know anymore.

John Powers said...

When I was a boy, I knew that some people "hated" kids. When I was a kid it seems like kids were allowed more independent time, something I clearly valued. I didn't have any sense of "stranger danger" in the modern sense of it until I was an early teen. The main reason to steer clear of people who "hated" kids was to retain the privilege of being unattended. Whether people say it out loud or not, I think kids get that there are adults who don't like kids very much. It's a realization not often traumatic.

Renee gives great reasons not to hate kids. I especially like how important it is to celebrate their accomplishments. The world would be a whole lot better if more of us realized that the accomplishments of other are cause for us to celebrate too.

I'm so sad about the oil spill I can hardly speak. It seems as though nobody knows what to do. Perhaps more of us coming to that realization might begin the acknowledgement of our predicament of addiction to oil.

Dave Dubya said...

I love kids. maybe that's because I never had any. But I think I hate bigots.

Rootietoot said...

I only hate other people's kids. My own are great.

The oil spill sickens me. The overall fumbling hand flappyness reaction, I wish I could say it stuns me but it doesn't. I love the Gulf Coast, it holds many fond memories and the knowledge of what's happening to it breaks my heart.