Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mixed Nuts

The last two weeks have been emotionally tiring for me. I always get this way during presidential elections, but it has started really early this cycle, mostly because I can honestly not believe that anyone could vote for anyone on the republican side. Well-maybe Jon Huntsman, who is the only candidate that actually made me nervous for Obama when he announced. But it seems fairly clear that he is too libertarian for the republican base.

That out of the way, I have a few observations. I love nuts. I've also recently read that women who eat some nuts every day weigh less than those who eat other things. So I keep a jar of delicious mixed nuts in my desk at work for those days when I need a protein boost to get through the morning. But I became aware of doing something I found rather amusing-I pour some nuts into a dish so I don't just keep eating, which I could easily do. But I found myself eating them segregatedly. I eat cashews together, Brazil nuts, pecans, etc. I've even found myself eating the almonds with skin separately from those without. Is my mixed nut behavior a little nutty?

A language rant: THERE IS NO FREAKING SUCH WORK AS EKSETRA!!! That phrase comes from the Latin et (which means AND) cetera;. which means "other things." It is translated as meaning "and other things," or "so on." And while we are at it, it doesn't make anyone look smart and continental to say, "Wala." That is a mispronunciation of the French, "Voila," It starts with a V, and it means something like, "Well, there ya go!" And the latest word I'm getting tired of hearing thrown around over and over again-like "like," and "amazing," is "authentic." Do the people who use it for everything good these days know that it means "real?" That means it is very unlikely that it will ever apply to an American politician. The oft dropped journalistic phrase, "He doesn't come across as authentic," is rather oxymoronic, don't you think?

I'm a very fidgety person. I fidget constantly; I have a hard time sometimes even getting myself situated in the very same desk I worked all day on yesterday. When I talk with my hands, I use both hands. This made me think one day as I walked with my dog, and we passed one of those young men who wears his pants super-baggy and around his thighs, what a great sacrifice these people make for their fashion statements. Every guy I see dressed that way, whether at WalMart, the bus stop, or just walking down the street, must walk around with one hand on his crotch at all times in order to keep his pants from falling down all together. Sigh. None of those guys could ever describe the size of a fish he'd caught, let alone talk with his hands in a regular conversation. I've been waiting almost 20 years for this silly fashion to pass. A few years ago, when an older man auditioned for "American Idol" with the song, "Pants on the Ground," I really hoped the foolish appearance of it would be brought to the consciousness of that demographic, but I guess the age of the man singing the song should have been a dead giveaway that it wouldn't work.

I was walking in to my office the other day, and saw a squirrel with a bare tail. Some other people had seen it, and said that they had seen them before. Is that just an anomaly? The first thing I saw was the tail, and I thought it odd that such a large rat would be out in broad daylight, climbing a tree.

I was in a shop last week that has candy vending machines. The kind that give you a few M&M's or nuts for a nickel, and supposedly give the money to charity, and I couldn't help wondering if anyone gets candy from them anymore. With Americans so constantly freaked about "germs," I can't imagine anyone buying unwrapped food from one of those little machines nowadays.

There is a Christmas commercial getting regular rotation lately that gets my anti-Walmart heart pounding. There is a woman asking for a price guarantee on Christmas merchandise. She stands there long enough to makes several comments to the sales associate, and then sing part of a song. The first thing that struck me about it is that the actor playing the sales associate looks an awful lot like a young, brunette Goldie Hawn, but then I thought, who has ever seen a WalMart sales person spend anywhere near that much time with a customer? In fact, who shops at WalMart and can get any help at all when they need it?

I'M SO HAPPY!!!! Not really. I hate so-called "reality shows," and I've been seeing commercials recently  now for the return of one of the early ones-"Fear Factor." In the commercial they promise to be bigger and better than ever-including "bigger stunts." I guess they may be referring to the feats and humiliations that contestants are required to be subjected to in order to win, but in my classic movie mind, big stunts mean optical illusions of people appearing to do very dangerous things, or being killed or whatever. "OH, did you hear-Fear Factor? They did it with mirrors!"

"From 1999 to 2005, breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. decreased by about 2% per year. The decrease was seen only in women aged 50 and older. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk."
When I read, back in October, that the incidence of breast cancer is decreasing in this country, I got happy. Shortly after that the book "Our Bodies, Ourselves," published by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective was celebrating its fortieth birthday. It occurred to me that when women get involved, we get shit done. Before Our Bodies, Ourselves," there were very few books that dealt with women's health, and now that we have begun to be treated as different human beings from men, we are getting healthier. But then I also realized that every republican political candidate, the tea party candidates who were elected in 2010, and many right wing organizations are devoting themselves to taking back women's control over our health, and I got sad. If we can't control our own health choices, what will be taken next?  It seems that every time women begin to take any kind of power for our own lives, men get scared and try to take it away. Yes, I'm talking about choice, but I'm also talking about access to information about reproductive health, which may or may not include the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Rick Santorum says that he would outlaw all birth control. Now why would he do that? Well, he is one of those Christians who want to sublimate women, to be sure. And his holy book does say that women should submit to their husbands. Where that comes from has been addressed by me in a much earlier post. But it is also a fact that when women  have some control over the number of children they have, they tend to become something other than baby-making machines. They improve their educations, and their productivity in their societies. They thereby threaten the power of men. (Who, our current world situation should prove, have done such an AWESOME job with all their power.) How any smart woman can listen to these candidates and then go out and vote republican is utterly beyond me. I'm not saying there are no smart women who are republicans. I'm just saying that in order to cast a vote for someone like Santorum, or Romney, or Cain, McCain or Gingrich, the smart ones must really have to hold their noses in the voting booths, and I would love to know the fiercely compelling issue that forces them to do that. 

Meanwhile, I'd like for anyone who knows me well to sit down. Take a deep breath, and possibly keep your smelling salts handy. I agree with Herman Cain. Partly. Only on one issue...he was partially right when he said this week that candidates aren't supposed to know about foreign policy. Remember CANDIDATE Obama saying that he would close Guantanamo, end rendition, ET CETERA, ET CETERA? But what happens when a person becomes president, and gets up every morning for a national security briefing? He (and hopefully soon, she) see the world, and the threats against us in a different, less rhetorical way. I still believe that Guantanamo should be closed, and that rendition is wrong. We either believe in torture, or we don't. If we don't, then we should not render prisoners to other countries to do our torturing for us. I think we've been in Afghanistan way too long, and we never should have invaded Iraq. I'm deeply disappointed in President Obama for these, and some other reasons. But when he actually moved into the White House and the Oval Office, he saw a very different picture of the world than any candidate is allowed to see, and that has contributed to the breaking of some very important campaign promises. It's easy for John McCain, candidate, to sing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran." President McCain would very likely have made quite different choices. While the level of ignorance that Herman Cain (or Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman or Rick Perry) show about the world we live in is disgusting for someone who aspires to be the most powerful politician on earth, Cain had a sliver of a point when he said that candidates aren't supposed to know about foreign policy. What I would recommend for candidates of every party is a little circumspection when asked about foreign policy decisions. It is easy to be bombastic and dramatic when there are no lives on the line...yet.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nein! Nein! Nein!

Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Bob Packwood, John Ensign, Mark Sanford, John and Robert Kennedy,  David Vitter, Anthony Weiner, Christopher Lee, Newt Gingrich, Arnold Schwazzenegger. What do all these people have in common? They are white politicians. But they, among many others I'm sure, were either caught or accused of sexual misconduct of some sort. More than one of them tried paying off the women with whom they misbehaved. So in what way is any conversation about Herman Cain's paying off women about allegations of sexual misconduct "a high tech lynching," or race-driven in any way whatsoever? There is no racial component to men's behavior being driven by sex, and there is no racial component to lying about it, or trying to pay off the women to keep them quiet so that either the wife or the public don't find out about it in the case of public figures. I am angry that anyone, in particular racists like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and yes, Herman Cain himself, would play the race card here.

Sexual misconduct aside, and with a full understanding that the only reason that Herman Cain is doing so well in republican polling is because he (like Sarah Palin) doesn't talk like a politician. Which leads to a problem I had with a quote from him last week-because I like it when people who know stuff run for office. "How would I deal with China? I believe in peace through strength and clarity." I wish I had heard him speaking with clarity since he's joined the public conversation. But this is the guy who answers every question with, "That's apples and oranges." Even when it's not. 

I'm also wondering who is going to pay for the double wall that Michelle Bachman wants to build? Isn't she against federal spending? We know she's against the government creating jobs. 

I was just watching a round table discussion on "Up with Chris Hayes," on MSNBC, and he played a quote from an ob-gyn named Dr. Freda Bash in Mississippi, where an important vote on a "Personhood Amendment" will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8. She said, "Science has proved that from the point of fertilization, and egg is both fully alive and fully human." Really? I've seen fetuses up to the point where human features begin to appear, and while they may indeed be alive, they are not viably, definitively human. In fact, they look a lot like fetuses of almost every other mammal. If shown side by side, I would defy science, and certainly evangelicals to tell the difference between them. I know that a woman't right to choose will never be a resolved issue between people who see things in a completely emotional way. But, as our current chief justice, and some presidential candidates have stated, Roe v. Wade was decided more than thirty years ago-it is established law that we do not have a police state in the wombs of American women. We need to leave it alone. 

Away from politics-someone I know had a blowout on the street next to her home. She was safe, and had a neighbor to help her. And I heard her and one of her friends agreeing that "God was watching over you." "Yes, God is always watching over me!" Really? So why are there accidents in which believers are hurt or killed? Is God not watching over "THOSE" people? I find fault with the argument that her incident had a happy ending for any reason having to do with "God watching over her."

I've been reading a novel in which there is a council meeting in the town in which the action takes place. There are people who clear their throats during the conversation of the town council. As I read this, I found myself clearing my throat. Just like yawning when someone else yawns. Does that happen to everyone? Are you clearing your throat now? 

Was the guy who invented nachos name Ignacio?

Does anyone but me have a problem with THE SCIENCE CHANNEL showing a program called "Punkin Chunkin?" In particular, is it really, really, really stupid to refer in their commercials for the show to the participants as "athletes?" I guess it's no stupider than referring to participants in food eating contests as athletes. But it makes me very sad for our culture. 

I was at the grocery store yesterday and saw a product called "gluten free ham." Isn't gluten a wheat product? How can ham contain gluten unless it is between two slices of bread? 

As I rode down the highway yesterday there was a billboard for "The Rad Law Firm." While there was a photo of a guy who had hair like a televangelist on the bottom corner of the billboard, I couldn't help but silently chuckle at the name "Rad," like it was a hipster add from the 1980s. 

We live in an apartment complex on one of the busier streets in our large city that has a long fence behind it, and behind that fence was a wonderful field. My dog and I have found our way through that fence and taken nice walks along the creek in that field. We've seen lots of city wildlife-some rabbits, some coyotes and lots of different birds and plants that you just don't see along developed roads. Two years ago a large swath of that field was torn up because of a huge highway project that may be completed soon. I was sad then, and I'm even sadder when I approach the resulting access roads to that highway. For miles this construction has torn down trees and green stuff, and has replaced it with packed, gray concrete. It is ugly and desolate-like a moonscape. Or like a mountain top removal coal mining activity. I'm sure when they finally get the highway finished, they'll put out some grass and bushes. But it is depressingly ugly, and one more example of humans displacing animals for highways. Yes, we need the roads (or as it is referred to now, infrastructure.) We also need the jobs. But, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone. They've paved paradise and put up a...." new highway. (Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi, 1970)