Thursday, November 30, 2006

My Head is Spinning

You probably already know about this. My desk, unlike yours, I'm sure, is piled high with un-done, un-read, and un-sorted tasks just begging for my attention. So I'm just now getting to the Wall Street Journal from earlier this week. My head is spinning, and I don't think it's an altitude (from climbing to the top of these paper piles) problem. We've reached new depths in the "unfortunate reasoning" department, and truly, I thought we'd pretty much bottomed out there.

Brendan Miniter's piece about Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is a bit of a puzzle. It seems that Gov. Romney is suing the state legislature for failing to vote on whether or not to put a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the ballot. Bit of a separation of powers problem there, Mitt. Maybe they should have voted, though. I really don't know and haven't even tried to follow the issue in a state other than my own.

My real concern is with the editorial writer. He seems to be trying to make the claim that gay marriage is responsible for births occurring outside of (traditional) marriage. Okay, we've gone well beyond a separation of powers problem here. Let's start with the birds and the bees.

Although advocates of same-sex marriage will deny there is any connection to extending the institution to gay couples, a recent report released by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals why this debate is worth having now. The study found that although teen pregnancy rates are dropping, the number of out-of-wedlock births in America has been steadily rising since the 1990s. It seems women in their 20s and 30s are having children without getting married first. Last year the proportion of births that are illegitimate reached an all time high of 37%, or 1.5 million children.

Does anyone understand this?

Yes, teen pregnancy rates are dropping. Yes, births to single mothers are increasing. It seems to be true that fewer and fewer of these pregnancies are unintended as time goes on. So, women are getting pregnant outside of marriage on purpose.

Okay, we can talk about that as a public policy issue, a moral issue, a social work issue, an educational issue, a feminist issue. I see all of that. How in the name of all that is holy do we blame it on gay people, again?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bored with my own sorry self...

I have this bad, BAD habit. I tell people "yes, sure, I'll do that. Of course I can have it ready by the end of the month". Which I could, if I only said that to one or two or ten people. Alas.... not so much. And here we are at the end of the month.

Whine, whine, and whine some more. It doesn't help, of course, but it makes me feel better. So, if I'm slow to post over the next few days, picture me burning the midnight oil -not to save the world, but to save my own little backside. Some day I'll learn. I hope.

And don't forget the movie at my house this Friday at 7:30. It's the Amnesty International documentary re: extraordinary renditions, torture, and the general so-called war on terror. There will be snack-type concoctions; that's one of the several things I will be staying up late to do. (Dusting might get booted; brownies, heavens no!) Just come on by.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Carbon Diet

Last week's tasks for the Carbon Diet were all about the car -getting the air filter changed and getting air in the tires. Those were the easy parts. The harder part was to assess and then reduce my mileage in the car. I want to see if I can drive fewer than 100 miles this week. I don't know, to tell you the truth. For whatever it's worth, though, that's my goal. (So far this week: 3)

This week's task is to focus on home heating. Here's the quiz and pledge for this week: Slate Magazine. I feel like I'm getting a free pass, because it's unseasonably warm. I'm good with free passes ;) Moreover, every single thing they suggest, we've already done. So.... what else is there?

We've caulked and put up the storm windows. (You do understand that by "we" I mean Dave, right? Me, on a ladder, with a 40 pound, 6' storm window.... well, there's no good end to that story.) Lowering the thermostat, wearing sweaters, planting trees, and purchasing carbon offsets.... all done.

Here's something we haven't done -get a programmable thermostat. There's a reason. Until quite recently, there was almost always someone home. We couldn't count on a long span of nobody being home, during which we could reduce the temperature. Now, of course, we can. I'm pretty faithful about remembering to take care of this before I leave the house, but I'm not as good as a machine would be.

Here's a question. Do any of our local utilities offer green alternatives? In Portland, they can choose to have a certain portion of their electricity come from wind. I know we have wind farms out here. Who's using them? What are they accomplishing? Where do I sign up? Should I sign up, for that matter? Who knows something about this, because I surely don't?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Random 10

You know the drill. Take out your iPod and set it to shuffle. Tell us the first ten songs that play -and no fair leaving out the ones that make you look like a dork or adding in ones that make you look cool.

Here are mine for the week:
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain; Roy Acuff and Emmylou Harris
  • Saints and Angels; Sara Evans
  • One Good Year; Slaid Cleaves
  • The Richest Fool Alive; Patty Loveless
  • Rhapsody in Blue; George Gershwin
  • Toi La Femme Mariee; Fernand Gignac
  • Walk On; U2
  • Have I Done Enough?; Sweethearts of the Rodeo (possibly the theme song of my life!)
  • We Shall Overcome;Pete Seeger (oh wait, maybe this is the theme song for my life!)
  • For the Longest Time; Rockapella

And throwing one for nothin', here's my Thanksgiving Day playlist:
  • Thanks to You; Emmylou Harris
  • Gracias a la Vide; Holly Near
  • The Thanksgiving Song; Fred Holstein
  • Thanksgiving Day; John McCutcheon
  • Thank You for the Music; Abba
  • Gratitude; Ani DeFranco
  • Our House; Crosby, Stills, Nash& Young
  • Back Home Again; John Denver
  • Life is Sweet; Natalie Merchant
  • Heaven is a Place on Earth; The Bangles
  • All Good Gifts; Godspell
  • Good thing Going; Carolyn Arends
  • Give Thanks to the Lord; John Michael Talbot
  • Matthew; John Denver

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Enclosing Emptiness

I spend a lot of time explaining to beginning knitters that we have to make the holes that the eye sees as pattern in lace knitting. They aren't something you leave out; they're something you create. Then I get blank looks from the knitting students. It's the task of the teacher to find the words to help the students understand. Clearly I still have work to do here.

I'm in the middle (okay, really it's the beginning) of a circular lace tablecloth for a friend, so I was musing about this issue again last night. I've decided that what we're really doing with lace-making techniques is enclosing emptiness. We shape air, and openness, and possibility into patterns. (Aren't we just the clever things?)

But while I'm on the knit row of you-don't-want-to-know-how-many stitches, I've got a lot of time to think. Isn't that what everyone does, all the time? Make patterns out of simple materials and possibility?

There are at least two other ways I'm doing this right now. My man is home for the Thanksgiving holidays. Five days of togetherness!!! We spent most of yesterday re-figuring out the pattern of life together. It took a little while. I'm not sure what anyone else could learn from this experience. How common is it for couples to choose to live apart for a year, after all? Yet I'm thinking now that it's not exactly emptiness I'm experiencing when he's gone. It feels like it is, heaven knows, but I'm in the process of shaping it into something. And when he comes back, he'll be knit back into the pattern.

And secondly, there's impending winter. As a displaced Southerner, I have a serious attitude problem about northern winters. In fact, I try to ignore winter as much as possible and through the force of my not inconsiderable will make it go away. You have me to thank every spring, just so you know ;) But as life comes indoors and I have to put my bicycle away and change the pattern of my days and nights, I become more ...quiet.... meditative.... almost domestic. Okay, possibly domestic is a bit of a stretch. But the fact is that there's some emptiness and a little dread about starting winter's span again.

I've always thought of myself as fighting the emptiness -little warrior Andrea brandishing her sword. Or more like Scarlett O'Hara, I suppose, shaking her fist in the sunset. "As God as my witness, I'll never be -cold- again." (Scarlett says "hungry", but you get the idea.) Maybe the reason this has never worked very well is that it's the wrong metaphor. I doubt I could go as far as embracing the emptiness, but perhaps I could enclose it, shape it, form it into something. I could cook, and knit, and quilt, and sew and write and light candles and read -and find joy in all of those things. Things, by the way, I hardly have time to do in the busier outdoor seasons of the year.

Now I'm up to the lace-making row and I have to pay attention to that. No more musing for a little while....


Monday, November 20, 2006

Good Girls Don't....

I'm sputtering, I'm so mad.

President Bush has appointed Eric Keroack to lead HHS's Family Planning Program. The problem is that Dr. Keroack is against family planning. His most recent position was as medical director for A Woman's Concern, a network of crisis pregnancy centers which claims that "the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness." You can read their policy statement here: A Woman's Concern (.pdf).

This appointment makes about as much sense as putting me in charge of the Defense Department. You aren't going to get family planning programs from someone against family planning any more than you would get effective war planning from me. It's prima facia a bad move.

There are all kinds of arguments and studies demonstrating that Dr. Keroack's positions are simply not borne out by the facts. I'm about to make a slightly peculiar argument, that's not terribly well thought through, to boot. And it all stems from being on a Jane Austen bender. I just started re-reading Mansfield Park. In it, Austen contrasts three adult sisters, but let's just look at two of them for the moment.

One puts her family first, marries well, supports her other sisters and their children financially, and has four perfect children of her own. Except, of course, she's a laudanum addict and her children are far from perfect. The cost of this life is apparently quite high. The other sister marries from lust. She's sexually attracted to a poor man and can't be talked out of the unwise marriage. When we meet her she has heaven-only-knows how many children, is pregnant, and is living in squalor with an alcoholic husband. Lust doesn't lead anywhere good, either.

So, I started wondering what I would encourage my own daughter to do, under these circumstances. Absent the ability to control the size of a family and with no truly good choices, I might well do what upper-class women of the time did -convince young women that "good girls" don't like sex. It's a duty, a chore, and should be endured as rarely as possible. At least that way, she wouldn't have as many children -a high-risk proposition at the time- and would lead a slightly more secure and comfortable life. Culturally and individually, this attitude got us in so much trouble that it feels very odd to be defending it. But when you look at it from the "what does one mother say to one daughter" point of view, it's at least easy to understand how we went down that road. It might even be seen as a small (ultimately unhelpful, I concede) effort towards locating some power for women, which is to say, feminism.

My point, (the long way around) is that women have always known that uncontrolled fertility is a bad idea. It's not birth control that demeans women, for crying out loud; it's being treated as no more than a walking uterus that's demeaning. And you know what? It doesn't do much for children, either. When every pregnancy is met with a sense of impending doom, how can children be the delight and hope that they're meant to be? Much better that every child should be a wanted, sought-after, CRAVED child.

So, there's work to be done. If our daughters are going to have access to reasonable, responsible family planning services, we need to keep Dr. Keroack far away from our sexual decision making. Please consider writing to Michael Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has the authority to block this appointment. You can do that through this link: NARAL sample letter.

And feel free to take apart my Jane Austen and sexual politics argument. It was the result of idle musings on a quiet Sunday. And quite possibly there was a glass of wine involved.

The Lean, Mean, Green Machine

I'm going on a diet. Not that kind of diet -although I ought to do that, too. This is an 8-week carbon-diet. Sponsored by Slate magazine and treehugger, the diet is a regimen for reducing the carbon load from household use.

Step one is to determine the baseline -our current carbon output. The news is disturbing: 12,568.8 lbs of carbon emissions for our household. Good grief. They claim, though, that the U.S. average is 22 tons of carbon emissions per person. Can that be true?

My first task is to reduce my transportation emissions. The tasks they suggest are:
  • Check tire pressure and get the tires inflated to the proper levels
  • Check the car's air filter and replace it if necessary
  • Carpool two days each week
  • Drive 25 fewer miles this week

Alrighty then... How much of this can I actually do? Don't they (ahhh....the mysterious "they" responsible for all the peculiar goings-on in the world) check your tire pressure and the air filter when changing the oil in the car? In that case, I should be okay. I'll get that done tomorrow. I think I'm maxed out in the carpooling area, but I'll think about that one some more. Driving 25 fewer miles???? Wow. There are lots of days when I don't drive at all. I don't know where 25 fewer miles would come from. What I'll do is set the odometer in my car and see how many miles I drive this week. (Well, it's going to be artificially high. There's a trip to the airport and a trip to Wisconsin, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.) Then I'll cut it by 10%. How's that?

Anyone want to join me? If you need some motivation, watch Al Gore on TedTalks. Who knew he could be funny?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Racial Justice Didn't Win

We can -and maybe should- crow some more about the recent election. I have great confidence in the Democrats' ability to pull defeat from the jaws of victory, but we surprised ourselves this time. Nonetheless, something wicked this way comes. We weren't entirely successful at the ballot box.

Racial justice, in particular, took a hit. This one is a mystery to me. I would have said to you that certainly there is residual racism, but everyone knows by now that they aren't supposed to be racist. I thought people were ashamed of any leftover racism that they found in their own thinking. Alas... not so much. "Andrea" and "optimistically naive" all go in the same sentence, once again.

Michigan banned Affirmative Action in the public sector -and the initiative was spearheaded by a black man who "proudly" accepted the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan. I'm still shaking my head over that one. English is now the official language in Arizona. Undocumented immigrants are denied bail, public education, publicly-funded health care, and can't receive punitive damages from successful lawsuits. Colorado passed similar anti-immigrant measures. Wisconsin voters voted to become a death penalty state. Surely I don't need to recap the racist effects of the death penalty. And all of this is on top of the bizarre and punitive anti-immigrant measures passed by the House of Representatives (HR 4437) at the end of last year and the Senate (S. 2611) in May. 700 miles of border fence, anyone?

Questions in no particular order for successful candidates -and those of us who want to call ourselves progressives.
  • How do we eliminate racism -covert and overt- from public life?
  • A significant number of immigrants -legal and otherwise- and people of color live alongside poor whites in inner cities. What are we going to do about the conditions in which poor people live?
  • What is an appropriate level of intervention in the public schools to ensure that marginalized students reach their academic potential?
  • What should be done to eliminate street violence and hate crimes?
  • How can we (or can we) tweak Public Aid so that it assists with race relations?

Friday Random 10

Sometimes I think I should let this meme just die a natural death. Surely we've had our fun. But so many times, it brings me back to my blog, when what I want to do is crawl under a rock and hide from all the things I have to do. This is one of those days!

You know the drill. Set your iPod to shuffle and tell us the first ten songs that appear. And no fair leaving out the ones that make you look like a dork or adding in ones that you think make you look cool. Here are mine for the week:

  • Partita for Keyboard No. 6 in E Minor -Prelude; Bach
  • Dimming of the Day; Emmylou Harris
  • Walk Like an Egyptian; The Bangles (oh my!)
  • Little Goodbyes; SheDaisy
  • Zydeco on the Bayou; Terrance Simien
  • I Am a Rock; Simon and Garfunkel
  • One Grain of Sand; Odetta
  • Mighty Big River; Jim Post
  • Long Time Gone; Dixie Chicks
  • All of Me; Selah

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One More Car in the World

Sigh.... It's disturbing to me that I'm excited about this. I've been carless for about a month. The girl-child works in a town about 40 miles away and has to *gasp* dress up for work. The mind reels. How did I end up with a glamorous child??? Well, be that as it may, she couldn't ride a bike to work dressed like that. So, she's been using my car. I've tried to be graceful about this situation. I don't even LIKE cars, and I'm trying to drive less, anyway.

But yesterday, she bought a car.

It's a Toyota Yaris and it's European-car-tiny. It gets great gas mileage and I GET TO USE MY OWN CAR. I'm so excited.

Pathetic, that's me.

As a penance for being relieved about this, I'm organizing the Bike Club's Reindeer Ride. I'm apparently pathetic in very many ways today!!


Monday, November 13, 2006

The Boys are Back in Town

Not this town... The U.S. Catholic Bishops are gathering in Baltimore for their annual meeting, and they are preparing to make some scary and destructive pronouncements. It's okay, though, because I doubt that anyone's listening.

In the recent past, when Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of sainted memory was the head of the U.S. Council of Bishops, the gathered bishops made sweeping and important -and helpful, for crying out loud- statements about war and peace and other social justice issues. They didn't get everything right (in the world according to Andrea) but they were engaged in the actual challenges of the day and were contributing to the discourse. Now they're more wrapped up in internal problems. This shift could be good, especially if they were focused on the reality that in statistically significant numbers children aren't safe from parish priests. To name but one example where internal housekeeping could be in order.

I can't quite wrap my brain around their thinking here. But this meeting and other examples, liturgical in particular, suggest that they think that the sexual abuse crisis happened because the laity doesn't understand...well, much of anything. How it follows that our lack of understanding causes some priests to prey on children escapes me, but I really don't think I'm making this up. So this meeting focuses on crafting documents that will explain the teachings of the church to us. Because... they're not written down anywhere and our literacy can't be assumed, I suppose. How this is going to revitalize parish life absolutely eludes me.

They're going to affirm (barring serious intervention from the long-suffering holy spirit) that marriage must be between one man and one woman. But they're also going to consider and doubtless affirm the scientifically validated claim that people of homosexual orientation should not be subjected to therapy hoping to change that orientation. Those two things may seem not to be related or troublesome, but they really are. Watch.

Remember before we start that this is a church that is very rigorous about logical and theological consistency. They work hard to be sure that moral theology doesn't contain mutually exclusive requirements, for example. And actually they're quite good at this.

First up, sexual ethics. This is surely an area where the bishops get to provide moral leadership. In a way-too-simple formulation, those ethics suggest that sex is holy when it's in a marriage, functions in a unitive way for the couple, and is open to children. The sexual act is not going to result in children in a homosexual union, which is why (oooh, this is getting almost too simplified) the church has seen fit to deny sacramental marriage to gays. Internally it makes sense. (Although I'm entirely open to and willing to participate in the enterprise of standing outside, looking in, and going -For God's sake, THAT's ridiculous.)

But hang on. Social justice teaching rests on the claim that there is inherent dignity in everything that lives, humans in particular. Assuming they affirm the statement that there need be no misguided "therapy" for gay people, that will be because this is a fundamental aspect of their nature rather than a mere inclination, which could be subject to change. If that's true, if homosexuality is part of some people's very nature, then it falls under the human dignity rules.

I don't see how they can have it both ways. They're walking into a logical trap (which I guess they assume we won't see, because after all we're not very smart.) where the sexual ethics conflict with the social justice teachings.

And all of this begs the question as to why they're thinking about it at all. Re-craft the theology of the priesthood, and then get back to me about what I'm supposed to be doing in my bedroom. Until and unless they do that, and ensure that the people chosen for that newly envisioned priesthood are psychologically healthy, what they're in fact teaching us is just to ignore them. We've got that pretty well practiced with the ban on artificial contraception, which is widely ignored in this country, and we'll just move right along to the next thing. Is that really a precedent they want to set?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Technology and Reading

If I don't clean my house and do some laundry, the dust bunnies are going to take up arms against me and I'll have to wear my pajamas to work tomorrow. So, naturally, what I've actually done is go to the library and curl up on the couch and read. This is arguably the perfect Sunday afternoon activity, especially when there are plenty of other things to be done.

But now I'm musing about talking about books with other people. I do not not NOT have the energy to organize (or attend, for that matter) an in-real-life book discussion group. They're lovely and important, but I just can't commit to that right now. So.... what can technology offer me? There must be on-line book discussion groups where I can drop in, leave oh-so-pithy comments about some book or another (sarcasm there, in case you missed it) and have a conversation of sorts on a schedule that works for me.

I peeked at the Barnes and Noble book groups, but the interface just stinks. What else is out there, oh wise ones? And do on-line book groups have the cozy feeling of real-live groups? It would be a serious blow to my soul if books and the yumminess of the Sunday afternoon read-a-thon gave way to sleeker technology.

...must get back to Emma and her antics. I think I hear the dust bunnies arming themselves.

edited due to egregious grammar error -particularly inelegant in a post about reading :(

Saturday, November 11, 2006

How Many of Me?
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

And I know the other one! She's my sister in law, the original Andrea Rusin.

The long-suffering spouse's comment when I told him about this was that the mind reeled at the thought of more than one of me. I choose to be flattered, but I think that's not quite what he meant ;)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday Random 10

You know the drill. Set your iPod to shuffle and tell us the first ten songs that appear. And no fair leaving out the ones that make you look like a dork, or adding in ones that make you look cool.

Here are mine for the week:
  • Fanfare for the Common Man; Aaron Copland
  • Cold Beer and Remote Control; Indigo Girls
  • You'll Never Walk Alone; Katherine Jenkins
  • I Say Yes, My Lord: Kate Cuddy and Gary Daigle
  • Step by Step; Sweet Honey in the Rock
  • The Way You Look Tonight; Tony Bennett
  • Modern Day Drifter; Dierks Bentley
  • Fields of Gold; Sting
  • All the Road Running; Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler
  • The Cherry Tree Carol; Peter, Paul, and Mary

Pro-Life Loses in Idaho

Did you guys follow this story? I'm just catching up.

The losing gubernatorial candidate in Idaho (Marvin Richardson...except... not so much)officially changed his name to Pro-Life, so that's what would appear on the ballot. And people wonder why I claim that much of the pro-life movement is unrelentingly ridiculous. Honest to Pete, if someone would make a reasoned, calm, woman-respecting, pro-life argument, I'd listen respectfully. I have listened respectfully when I've heard them in the past. I haven't quite been persuaded but I wouldn't be inflammatory. I promise. But so much of what they do is this nonsense; it's really hard to take them seriously.

I would love it if there were fewer abortions. The way to do that is to have fewer unintended pregnancies. One way to do that is to educate young people about contraception and to make it easily available. And yet, until recently, heaven only knows how much taxpayer money has gone to support abstinence-only sex education in the classrooms -and beyond.

I hope that with the newly configured Congress, the far right (including Mr Pro-Life from Idaho) will have less ability to define the discourse and that effective sex education will once again be in the classroom.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voting to Change the World for Women

I was too tired to figure this out last night. But just as there was a dirty dozen list of representatives and senators dangerous to the environment, there's a group you love to hate when it comes to feminist issues.

First up, and a little off the subject, South Dakota defeated the ban on all abortion. And not by a small margin. Good job, guys. It seems to me that even staunchly pro-life supporters couldn't support that law. California and Oregon both struck down mandatory parental notification laws; these laws provided no exceptions even when a teenager would be endangering herself with the notification.

Now, here the group I love to hate re: anti-choice legislation.
  • Sen. Jim Talent of Missouri (not surprisingly on the environmental list as well) -defeated by a pro-choice candidate
  • Rep. Randy Graf (AZ) -defeated by a pro-choice candidate
  • Rep. Curt Weldon(PA) -defeated by a pro-choice candidate
  • Sen Mike DeWine (OH) -defeated by a pro-choice candidate

We still have plenty of anti-choice representatives and senators. And the Supreme Court is at work as we speak. So there's still a lot to be done. Nonetheless, today I'm celebrating.

Popcorn and Social Change

For real. It's in my living room. I've signed up to host an "America I Believe In" house party. It's a special screening of the documentary Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture, and Disappearances in the "War on Terror".

Here's the deal:
December 1, 2006 -which is a Friday night
7:30 p.m.
my living room

Sign up here: Amnesty International House Party. Children are always welcome in our home. Two points, though. Our children are 24 and 22. If they stick their tongues in the electrical outlets or eat stuff off the floor... well, I figure that's their problem. So don't assume the house is child-safe any more. And the subject matter seems a tad grim for little ones, but you call it.

There will be food, coffee and, if I get my act together, a bottle of wine. Naturally, there will be discussion afterwards. Come one; come all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Geekery

I come from a political family from way back. Maybe it's genetic. But I'm sitting here with my wine and my computer, getting cautiously optimistic (a feeling which in the political world has ALWAYS come around to bite me in the butt) about the possibility of the Democrats taking control of the House.

The three vulnerable Republican-held seats in Indiana look very much like they'll go to Democrats. It looks like only one of three vulnerable seats in Kentucky will swing Democratic. I was hoping we'd get all six, guaranteeing some early-election-night pants-wetting at the Republican National committee headquarters. But still, this is looking almost....dare I say it?.... good.

updated later.... I scarcely know what to do with myself. The House looks (whispering, in case the election gods are listening)certain to switch to Democratic control. We've got six more Democratic governors than we had this morning. And I swear to God, we might even get the Senate -but that's still a long shot.

still later...Local good news is that Dennis Hastert really might lose. I think this one is going to go late into the night, and even if he wins he'll have to get it now that he's vulnerable. And even if he wins -and assuming the House really does switch to Democratic leadership- he loses his slot as Speaker. I'm doing the Happy Dance tonight.

The fate of the Dirty Dozen (the 12 elected officials with the worse environmental records)
  • Sen. Conrad Burns (MT) -too close to call but the Democrat is ahead. Updated: The Democrat is further out ahead.
  • Sen. Rick Santorum (PA) -buh bye!
  • Sen. Jim Talent (MO) -mysteriously, he's ahead
  • Sen George Allen (VA) - he's neck and neck with his Democratic opponent. Updated: the Democrat is squeaking -and I do mean squeaking- ahead.
  • Rep. Dan Boren (OK) -won
  • Rep. Deborah Pryce (OH) -it looks like she'll win, too. Yep, she won.
  • Re. Henry Cuellar (TX) -he's going to win, too
  • Rep. Katherine Harris (FL) -she's history
  • Re. Richard Pombo (CA) -way too close to call; they're neck and neck and there aren't many returns available from California yet
  • Rep. Charles Taylor -he's looking for a new job (NC)
  • Rep. Heather Wilson (NM) -still too close to call
  • Rep. J.D. Hayworth (AZ) -it looks like he's going to lose

So, we're going to lose four of the worst environmental offenders, keep at least two and probably three, and we'll have to wait and see what happens to the rest of them. The ones I'd most like to see lose: George Allen and Deborah Pryce (Oh well). At 11:30, it looks like Conrad Burns is going to lose, too -so that's five environmental disasters we're going to lose.

OK... tempering my wild dancing here.... I don't think John Laesch can pull it off against Dennis Hastert. He's come closer than anybody in a really long time, but I think it's too late. I did notice that wikipedia already identifies Nancy Pelosi as Speaker, though ;)

It's way past my bedtime... but in the "give peace a vote" department, we have to think good thoughts for Illinois candidate Tammy Duckworth. That race is closer than I would have thought and WAY closer than I wanted. And in local peace-full news, the referendum to bring home the troops passed in DeKalb but failed in Sycamore.

Vote for Social Change

Give peace a vote -and in DeKalb Township you can! There's a referendum re: bringing home the troops.

Think about children, especially those living in povety, when you vote. Making poverty history has pretty much fallen off the radar. Let's put people who'll put it back on the agenda into office.

Think about empowering women when you vote. Possibly consider voting for a Representative who will support the Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006. Hint: that's not Dennis Hastert.

Think about the environment when you vote. In my case, there's a County Board candidate, Julia Fauci, who has a strong commitment to the environment -and to bicycling, bless her heart.

Let this election be a referendum for a better world.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Voting Plans

Illinois progressives are in a bit of a bind with the governor's race. Rod Blagojevich is the current governor and a Democrat (a good thing, I suppose), but he's been a study in ethical tragedy and fiscal irresponsibility (clearly a bad thing). Judy Baar Topinka is currently the Illinois State Treasurer and is the Republican candidate. She's done all right as Treasurer, but her campaign is basically "I'm less likely to get thrown in the clink; vote for me". And besides.... can we really vote for a Republican?

Well, I can and I have. It gets you on some pretty strange mailing lists, but you do what has to be done. Nonetheless, I'm not going to do it this time. (Michael over at Musing's Musings is probably fuming into his morning coffee. Sorry, dear one.) I'm going to vote for the Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney. This little burg isn't Los Angeles or Portland or even Madison, Wisconsin. The Green Party here is slightly... invisible. Actually, it's nonexistent; invisible would be an improvement.

Yet when I read the literature and listen to the speeches, I hear something different -positions I can affirm rather than merely tolerate. Social justice, diversity, universal health care, feminism, community based economics.... I'm sold.

Am I throwing away my vote -tacitly supporting Blagojevich? I don't know. Maybe. Okay, probably. But for right now, I'm rejecting the "lesser evil" strategy of voting (which I've done many a time, and it's never worked out well) and opting for something a little more positive. Besides, those of you who know me know that I have a long-standing fondness for lost-but-lovely causes. The Green Party deserves a bigger voice in Illinois politics. So, I'll do what I can.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge

I knew I couldn't actually bake this weekend. Do not even ASK me how many things I have to do. It makes me start to hyperventilate to think about it. So I made the cinnamon rolls for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge yesterday. Here they are -proof positive that I remember how to cook ;)

In progress: (I considered getting one of me wearing an apron, but decided that would be overkill -but I was actually wearing an apron.)

And done:

The recipe was one from my grandmother, adapted to use in the bread machine. The little-used piece of kitchen equipment was my bread machine. And yes, a goodly number of these are disappearing to the boy-child's apartment. A) I do NOT need to eat them all myself, and b) sharing food is at least as much fun as cooking it, I think.

So, there it is! One thing done for the weekend. Thanks to Breadchick at The Sour Dough for inviting me to participate.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Sex Talk

I'm 48, have two children, and have been married for 25 years, so I've figured out the basics of the birds and the bees thing. But there's stuff I didn't know, and the Bush administration is going to make sure I know it, bless their little hearts (and littler brains).

Check this out. They're moving beyond abstinence-only sex education for teenagers and targeting young adults up to age 29. Unless you're married, sex is bad. Avoiding sex before marriage saves you from
Infertility, isolation, jealousy, poverty, heartbreak, substance abuse, AIDS, pregnancy, cervical cancer, genital herpes, unstable long-term commitments, depression, embarrassment, meaningless wedding, sexual violence, personal disappointment, suicide, feelings of being used, loss of honesty, loneliness, loss of personal goals, distrust of others, pelvic inflammatory disease, loss of reputation, fear of pregnancy, disappointed parents, loss of self-esteem...

Who knew??

Here's a thing. I'm actually fairly conservative on this subject. I don't think high school kids should be sexually active. But 29????? Come on. If it's premature pregnancy when you're, say, 25 and unmarried, what makes pregnancy timely just because there was a wedding? I suppose in principle there's an argument to be made against casual sex. I may not in the end agree with it, but at least it would be logical. But they haven't (oh, big surprise) actually made it. Timeliness cannot be the issue; nothing about marriage guarantees maturity.

Moreover, how can avoiding premarital sex spare one a meaningless wedding? Assuming anyone at all buys into this pile of hogwash, wouldn't it encourage rather than discourage less well-considered weddings? And playing the ruined reputation card is really cheap. I'm sure people are going to talk negatively about a 29-year-old who's in a relationship that involves sexual activity. Puh-lease. But, I have to say, if I'd known that avoiding premarital sex would save me forevermore from embarrassment, I might have made a different decision lo those many years ago ;)

What can the source for this almost lewd interest in the sex lives of adults come from? It's hard to avoid the conclusion that they don't want women to be independent of men. If we have the audacity to make our own sexual decisions, parent our own children, and generally lead our own lives without benefit of wise counsel from men, well then.... what IS the world coming to?

I'm not actually sure how they plan to disseminate this "information". At least with teenagers, they have a captive audience in the high school classrooms. It does seem clear, however, that just as the high school abstinence-only curriculum censors important health information, there is no greater concern for accuracy for the young adult population.