Monday, January 29, 2007
JoEllen...Remember, home is where they'll always take you back. I hope to see your "business casual" self back someday. In the meantime, I wish you tremendous success and happiness. You're going to be fabulous. :-)
Saturday, January 27, 2007
I tried to discuss the possiblity of ending the Drama Queen Pageant on WWET and actually talking about the issues...gasp! Blasphemy!
I think I get it now. Without their angst, they have nothing.
So it's frustrating in the sense that the board is dull like this. How many times do any of us need to see Billie and Boxdog call someone a drunk? On the other hand, it's the board they want. I'll just keep my filters up and talk with the people who want to talk, and let the bitter broken folks whine about how victimized they are behind my filters.
Sour grapes, anyone?
From The New York Times:
January 27, 2007
By GARRY WILLS
WE hear constantly now about “our commander in chief.” The word has become a synonym for “president.” It is said that we “elect a commander in chief.” It is asked whether this or that candidate is “worthy to be our commander in chief.”
But the president is not our commander in chief. He certainly is not mine. I am not in the Army.
I first cringed at the misuse in 1973, during the “Saturday Night Massacre” (as it was called). President Richard Nixon, angered at the Watergate inquiry being conducted by the special prosecutor Archibald Cox, dispatched his chief of staff, Al Haig, to arrange for Mr. Cox’s firing. Mr. Haig told the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to dismiss Mr. Cox. Mr. Richardson refused, and resigned. Then Mr. Haig told the second in line at the Justice Department, William Ruckelshaus, to fire Cox. Mr. Ruckelshaus refused, and accepted his dismissal. The third in line, Robert Bork, finally did the deed.
What struck me was what Mr. Haig told Mr. Ruckelshaus, “You know what it means when an order comes down from the commander in chief and a member of his team cannot execute it.” This was as great a constitutional faux pas as Mr. Haig’s later claim, when President Reagan was wounded, that “Constitutionally ... I’m in control.”
President Nixon was not Mr. Ruckelshaus’s commander in chief. The president is not the commander in chief of civilians. He is not even commander in chief of National Guard troops unless and until they are federalized. The Constitution is clear on this: “The president shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States.”
When Abraham Lincoln took actions based on military considerations, he gave himself the proper title, “commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” That title is rarely — more like never — heard today. It is just “commander in chief,” or even “commander in chief of the United States.” This reflects the increasing militarization of our politics. The citizenry at large is now thought of as under military discipline. In wartime, it is true, people submit to the national leadership more than in peacetime. The executive branch takes actions in secret, unaccountable to the electorate, to hide its moves from the enemy and protect national secrets. Constitutional shortcuts are taken “for the duration.” But those impositions are removed when normal life returns.
But we have not seen normal life in 66 years. The wartime discipline imposed in 1941 has never been lifted, and “the duration” has become the norm. World War II melded into the cold war, with greater secrecy than ever — more classified information, tougher security clearances. And now the cold war has modulated into the war on terrorism.
There has never been an executive branch more fetishistic about secrecy than the Bush-Cheney one. The secrecy has been used to throw a veil over detentions, “renditions,” suspension of the Geneva Conventions and of habeas corpus, torture and warrantless wiretaps. We hear again the refrain so common in the other wars — If you knew what we know, you would see how justified all our actions are.
But we can never know what they know. We do not have sufficient clearance.
When Adm. William Crowe, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, criticized the gulf war under the first President Bush, Secretary of State James Baker said that the admiral was not qualified to speak on the matter since he no longer had the clearance to read classified reports. If he is not qualified, then no ordinary citizen is. We must simply trust our lords and obey the commander in chief.
The glorification of the president as a war leader is registered in numerous and substantial executive aggrandizements; but it is symbolized in other ways that, while small in themselves, dispose the citizenry to accept those aggrandizements. We are reminded, for instance, of the expanded commander in chief status every time a modern president gets off the White House helicopter and returns the salute of marines.
That is an innovation that was begun by Ronald Reagan. Dwight Eisenhower, a real general, knew that the salute is for the uniform, and as president he was not wearing one. An exchange of salutes was out of order. (George Bush came as close as he could to wearing a uniform while president when he landed on the telegenic aircraft carrier in an Air Force flight jacket).
We used to take pride in civilian leadership of the military under the Constitution, a principle that George Washington embraced when he avoided military symbols at Mount Vernon. We are not led — or were not in the past — by caudillos.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s prescient last book, “Secrecy,” traced the ever-faster-growing secrecy of our government and said that it strikes at the very essence of democracy — accountability of representatives to the people. How can the people hold their representatives to account if they are denied knowledge of what they are doing? Wartime and war analogies are embraced because these justify the secrecy. The representative is accountable to citizens. Soldiers are accountable to their officer. The dynamics are different, and to blend them is to undermine the basic principles of our Constitution.
Garry Wills, a professor emeritus of history at Northwestern, is the author, most recently, of “What Paul Meant.”
Friday, January 26, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
What a brilliant idea! We had a fantastic time. We got a penthouse room and pretended to be important and frittered away several days on good food, good conversation and excellent sex. I'd like to change my traditional answer...I do like getting away!
Anyway...now we're back and I'll resume my aimless chatter about inconsequential things posthaste...as soon as I get over the afterglow of another honeymoon.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love her? :-)
Friday, January 19, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Katie came home from Tucson almost two weeks ago, but her luggage apparently had greater ambitions. It snuck away in Dallas and embarked on adventures that can only be imagined. Did it travel to the capitols of Europe? Darkest Africa? Who knows? All we know for certain is that finally, weary and dispirited, it made it's way back to Tucson, only to find that we don't actually live in Tucson anymore. It then had to make one more exhausted journey to the ancestral homeland, Illinois.
Picture the noble suitcase, struggling across the windswept prairie, always with the vision of it's home to keep it going. That poor luggage, rolling bravely home, it's handle bent into the fierce wind, persevering mightily and yet worrying about it's reception. Would it still be welcome? Would it even have a home to return to??
Yes, we were anxious...fearful. Would the time away change the luggage? Would it return broken and embittered? But none of that matters now. All is forgiven! The luggage is coming home to the bosom of it's loving family. The socks, the underwear, another pair of jeans...how happy and grateful we will be to have Katie reunited with them!
I cannot tell you how happy we'll be to have Katie reunited with them.
January 16, 2007
By SAM ROBERTS
For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.
In 2005, 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.
Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.
Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.
In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30 percent of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49 percent of Hispanic women, 55 percent of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60 percent of Asian women.
In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.
“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives,” said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”
Professor Coontz said this was probably unprecedented with the possible exception of major wartime mobilizations and when black couples were separated during slavery.
William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a research group in Washington, described the shift as “a clear tipping point, reflecting the culmination of post-1960 trends associated with greater independence and more flexible lifestyles for women.”
“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage,” Dr. Frey said. “Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ era.”
Emily Zuzik, a 32-year-old musician and model who lives in the East Village of Manhattan, said she was not surprised by the trend.
“A lot of my friends are divorced or single or living alone,” Ms. Zuzik said. “I know a lot of people in their 30s who have roommates.”
Ms. Zuzik has lived with a boyfriend twice, once in California where the couple registered as domestic partners to qualify for his health insurance plan. “I don’t plan to live with anyone else again until I am married,” she said, “and I may opt to keep a place of my own even then.”
Linda Barth, a 56-year-old magazine editor in Houston who has never married, said, “I used to divide my women friends into single friends and married friends. Now that doesn’t seem to be an issue.”
Sheila Jamison, who also lives in the East Village and works for a media company, is 45 and single. She says her family believes she would have had a better chance of finding a husband had she attended a historically black college instead of Duke.
“Considering all the weddings I attended in the ’80s that have ended so very, very badly, I consider myself straight up lucky,” Ms. Jamison said. “I have not sworn off marriage, but if I do wed, it will be to have a companion with whom I can travel and play parlor games in my old age.”
Carol Crenshaw, 57, of Roswell, Ga., was divorced in 2005 after 33 years and says she is in no hurry to marry again.
“I’m in a place in my life where I’m comfortable,” said Ms. Crenshaw, who has two grown sons. “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don’t feel like I need to do that again.”
Similarly, Shelley Fidler, 59, a public policy adviser at a law firm, has sworn off marriage. She moved from rural Virginia to the vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., when her 30-year marriage ended.
“The benefits were completely unforeseen for me,” Ms. Fidler said, “the free time, the amount of time I get to spend with friends, the time I have alone, which I value tremendously, the flexibility in terms of work, travel and cultural events.”
Among the more than 117 million women over the age of 15, according to the marital status category in the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, 63 million are married. Of those, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million said their husbands were not living at home for one reason or another.
That brings the number of American women actually living with a spouse to 57.5 million, compared with the 59.9 million who are single or whose husbands were not living at home when the survey was taken in 2005.
Some of those situations, which the census identifies as “spouse absent” and “other,” are temporary, and, of course, even some people who describe themselves as separated eventually reunite with their spouses.
Over all, a larger share of men are married and living with their spouse — about 53 percent compared with 49 percent among women.
“Since women continue to outlive men, they have reached the nonmarital tipping point — more nonmarried than married,” Dr. Frey said. “This suggests that most girls growing up today can look forward to spending more of their lives outside of a traditional marriage.”
Pamela J. Smock, a researcher at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center, agreed, saying that “changing patterns of courtship, marriage, and that we are living longer lives all play a role.”
“Men also remarry more quickly than women after a divorce,” Ms. Smock added, “and both are increasingly likely to cohabit rather than remarry after a divorce.”
The proportion of married people, especially among younger age groups, has been declining for decades. Between 1950 and 2000, the share of women 15-to-24 who were married plummeted to 16 percent, from 42 percent. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, the proportion dropped to 58 percent, from 82 percent.
“Although we can help people ‘do’ marriage better, it is simply delusional to construct social policy or make personal life decisions on the basis that you can count on people spending most of their adult lives in marriage,” said Professor Coontz, the author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”
Besse Gardner, 24, said she and her boyfriend met as college freshmen and started living together last April “for all the wrong reasons” — they found a great apartment on the beach in Los Angeles.
“We do not see living together as an end or even for the rest of our lives — it’s just fun right now,” Ms. Gardner said. “My roommate is someone I’d be thrilled to marry one day, but it just doesn’t make sense right now.”
Ms. Crenshaw said that some of the women in her support group for divorced women were miserable, but that she was surprised how happy she was to be single again.
“That’s not how I grew up,” she said. “That’s not how society thinks. It’s a marriage culture.”
Elissa B. Terris, 59, of Marietta, Ga., divorced in 2005 after being married for 34 years and raising a daughter, who is now an adult.
“A gentleman asked me to marry him and I said no,” she recalled. “I told him, ‘I’m just beginning to fly again, I’m just beginning to be me. Don’t take that away.’ ”
“Marriage kind of aged me because there weren’t options,” Ms. Terris said. “There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.”
She said she was returning to college to get a master’s degree (her former husband “didn’t want me to do that because I was more educated than he was”), had taken photography classes and was auditioning for a play.
“Once you go through something you think will kill you and it doesn’t,” she said, “every day is like a present.”
Ariel Sabar, Brenda Goodman and Maureen Balleza contributed reporting.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
I didn't actually get to watch the game, but I listened on the radio at work and watched the scoreboard on www.Superbowl.com.
Next week...the Saints. Yeah, yeah, I know...better team, more depth, blah blah blah. But we've got the Almighty Ghost of Walter Payton on our side. And better uniforms.
Don't forget the song. : )
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Thanks to Robin and Barry, I finally have a picture of my cat that doesn't make her look like a glowing-eyed demon!
This is my Devon Rex, Buttercup. Her big official CFA name is "Moirja's Buttercup Baby of Pattnchat," and if you look her up on the Web you'll see that Grand Champions have sprung from her loins. But around here she's just Miss Cup ... or Cuppy, for short. Sometimes we call her Boogersnot, due to an unfortunate sneezing problem. I'll bet you didn't know that cat's even produced snot. Well, they do. Prodigious amounts of snot which defy the laws of physics and rival epoxy cement for adhesive quality.
Several of my friends call her The Ugly Cat, and my son introduces her to his friends as Chemo Kitty. We always have to explain that, yes, she's supposed to look this way ... and we paid a lot of money, on purpose, to get a cat this weird.
At seven years old Miss Cup weighs in at an eternally kitten-sized five pounds. She's tee-ninesy. Her head is roughly the size of a tennis ball, and about as fuzzy (except for the bald spot on top like a monk). You can almost see it in the photo ... it's that spot between her enormous ears that looks like corrugated paper.
Cuppy, in fact, has almost no hair. What she has is a fine layer of soft crinkled fuzz covering most of the top half of her in cold weather. In warm weather she has even less. As you can see from her photo, she doesn't generate whiskers or eyelashes, either. She does have an impressive amount of pink, wrinkly skin on most of the underside of her. When Ev holds Cuppy up on her back feet and hides her ears under a blanket she looks exactly like ET! Ev enjoys this probably more than Cuppy does. :)
Oh, and she's not exactly graceful or "cat-like" in motion. Her back legs are slightly longer than her front legs and they're just a tad bowlegged, so she galumphs more than she glides.
But I gotta tell ya ... I love this cat. I love the way she seeks the warmth of a human lap whenver one makes itself available. I love that she would so totally NEVER get out of bed if she didn't absolutely have to. She's fully embraced her down comforter habit now that we transplanted her from sunny Arizona to cold, wet Southern Illinois.
I love the way she always jumps up on the tiny patch of clear countertop on the wrong side of the kitchen counter; picks her way gingerly across the precarious structure of knives, glasses and dishes in the dish drainer; and then uses the window sill like a tiny balance beam to get to the wide open expanse of counter on the other side of the sink ... where the food dish sits. All of the other cats just hop up there and eat, but not Miss Cup. She knows that if something is worth doing it's worth doing the hard way!
So that's Cuppy. And yeah ... she's supposed to look that way.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I read an Article in The Washington Post this morning about this guy, Lt. Adam Tiffen, an attorney from Washington who spent a year in Iraq with his National Guard unit from May 2005 to May, 2006. In the article, he talks about his experiences there, and his adjustment process when he returned home. He also talked about his blog: www.thereplacements.blogspot.com
So I went and read some of it. What fascinating, poignant stuff, and what a compelling writer. It's not a political blog; it's more like a diary of his experiences during that year. Tiffen makes the war real, which I'm finding helpful.
I sort of feel like a propaganda pawn; between the Bush Administration's insistance that the war is going great, and all the obvious evidence that it's a huge debacle lies a vast middle ground full of men and women in body armor and battle helmets. It was eye-opening to glimpse the war from their perspective.
Go read his blog. Even if you didn't know you were interested, you'll be interested.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Arkansas, The Natural State, is blessed with an abundance of geological wonders. The Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public, stands out as a unique geological "gem" for you to explore and enjoy.
Here, you are invited to prospect in the park's diamond search area, a 37-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe that 95 million years ago, brought to the surface the diamonds and some of the semi-precious stones lucky visitors find here today.
Diamonds of all colors of the rainbow can be found here at Crater of Diamonds, but the three most common colors unearthed by park visitors are white, brown and yellow. This Arkansas Diamond Mine is a rockhound's delight since, along with diamonds, over 40 types of rocks and minerals can found here, too. These rocks and minerals include lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite and hematite.
In 1906, John Huddleston, the local farmer who owned this property then, found the first diamonds here in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, and started the diamond mining rush. According to the history of the Crater of Diamonds State Park, after a series of ill-fated mining ventures followed by tourist attractions, the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972.
Within the park boundary many remnants of old mining ventures remain including the Mine Shaft Building, the Guard House, mining plant foundations, old mining equipment and smaller artifacts. Nowhere else is North American diamond mining history as evident or as well preserved as here.
Along with the diamond search area, the park has hundreds of acres of natural forest featuring a diversity of flora and fauna and offering visitors interesting things to do in the area. Arkansas' natural and cultural diversity -- the geology, the site's history, the plants and animals -- makes the Crater of Diamonds State Park a unique Arkansas attraction unlike any other in the world. You are invited to visit this one-of-a-kind attraction and experience the thrill of searching for real diamonds in the rough. Our park staff will identify your finds for you. And, the policy here is "finders keepers." Any diamonds, semi-precious stones, rocks or minerals you unearth are yours to keep, regardless of their value.
Friday, January 05, 2007
But...It's hardly ever Sisyphean. If we struggle and if we're smart, we learn the lessons and we don't have to keep rolling that same rock up that hill. We may have to roll a hundred different rocks uphill, but over time, we ought to develop better ways to roll the rocks, and maybe even a way to roll the rock downhill occasionally.
And once again, I'm struck by how lucky I've been in this love. Lori and I pull together as a team. Like a couple of tiny little draft oxen yoked to the great big lumpy boulder of destiny, we continue to haul that Mo'Fo' uphill.
Warms your heart, doesn't it?
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Massachusetts has decided to put gay marriage up for a vote. This worries me because right-wing fanatics are so much better at mobilizing their troops than left-wing fanatics.
They have pulpits from which to advance their cause. What do we have? Starbucks?
I can only hope that enough Massachusetts citizen have noticed that same-sex marriage didn't cause the world to end, didn't invalidate their own marriages, and didn't bring about Armageddon, plague or any other overt sign of God's wrath. Gay marriage is turning out to be...just marriage. Some marriages are good, some not so good...just like heterosexual marriages.
I think all these litmus tests will bode well for Illinois if they stand up in the eastern states. If gay marriage is struck down there, I predict that it won't be back for at least another 20 years.
Remember the ERA? Once the momentum is gone, it's tough to get it back. We need to win this one now, while it's still on the front burner.
Monday, January 01, 2007
It's freakin' COLD out there!
I saw snowplows parked along the side of the highway on my way home from work. They're like vultures, circling...
Only 2 and 1/2 months until Spring!
On the bright side, we're just that much closer to the November, 2008 elections!
I confess, I didn't stay up until midnight. They can't fool me anymore ... nothing happens at midnight. I was there for the big Y2K Millenium Midnight when civilization as we know it was supposed to ... um ... do something. It didn't. Well ... technically it went nuts and George W. Bush took over the White House for Eight Crazy Years (apologies to Adam Sandler) ... but really ... midnight 1999 was pretty anti-climactic. After that big disappointment, staying up till midnight on New Year's Eve lost it's magic for me.
Here are my predictions for 2007:
It will take me roughly a month to stop writing "2006."
The price of gas will continue to go up, but that will not be reflected by the receipt an obscenely large check from the oil company drilling holes in that land in West Texas our mother left us.
We'll add at least one animal to the menagerie ... species to be determined at a later date.
I will not quit smoking.
Life here in Nowhere, IL will continue to be happy and predictable! Seasons will change like they're supposed to ... right on schedule ... and this time I'll have a good camera to record it! And Ev and Lori-Fred will continue to blog a little and wander the countryside a little and moan about going to work but enjoy it once they get there ... and keep on living happily ever after.
Happy 2007 to all ya'll ... uh ... y'ouns.