October 31, 2011

Fall funk

Or at least that is what I am calling this. I love this time of year, but it is always hard on me. The shorter days and the cooler weather are, perhaps, a bad mix for a brooding personality.

I have also been having a recurring dream that is getting on my nerves. I really believe myself to be incredibly fortunate. I have good health, a good marriage and friends and family who love me. SOF and I live a relatively simple life and are able to afford the things we really enjoy.

But my recurring dream is always about not making it as an academic. Yes, I teach college every semester, and I mold young minds (hah), but I do so as one of the migrant workers of higher ed. As an adjunct, I teach contract by contract, semester by semester. I am scheduled for next semester, but nothing has been signed, for example. Higher ed isn't what we imagine. It is more about revenue than teaching, and that makes it hard on those who teach. And even harder on those who teach as adjuncts.

Part of the difficulty is relating to tenured faculty. My friend M refers to academia as a cult, and notes that when those in the cult look at those outside the cult with a puzzled face--why are you not inside with us? Can't tell you how many times I have experienced that. People who landed a job right out of grad school look at people like me, and probably think there is something wrong with me. I can't be that good or else I would have landed as they did. I also have more than one friend inside who is painfully aware of the capricious nature of academic jobs. But even some of those lose that awareness the longer they are inside. They become consumed with the stuff that people talk about--committees, tenure, grad students, the bad administration, etc. And they talk about those things as if they are givens.

But those of us outside the cult wonder. Maybe it is because, ultimately, I wasn't good enough. I don't know. And maybe that is the recurring dream--the fear that ultimately, I wasn't good enough to make it.

I am going to call a therapist tomorrow and see what we can do with this.

October 27, 2011

Chris Thile and Yo Yo Ma

And Aoife O'Donovan from Crooked Still and a few other fine musicians doing a beautiful number on Leno. Check it.

Income inequality

If the Tea Party changed the dialogue on cutting the deficit, the OWS people have done the same for income inequality. And with each new study, we see that income gap just widening and widening. It is really disgusting to see that the top 1% has seen their income go up by nearly 300% while the rest of us have barely seen movement, or have seen negative movement.

The difference between the left and right is that most people on the left actually care about the deficit too. We don't want to slash spending right now, and we absolutely want to raise taxes, but we want those deficits to come down too.

The right, however, doesn't care that a small plutocracy is forming with people with immense power and influence at the top. And they sure as hell don't care that people at the bottom are suffering. For any Republican, who votes with Paul Ryan and Ron Paul, to suggest otherwise is an exercise in self-deception.

October 26, 2011

Tea Partiers carrying guns--perfectly fine. OWS protesting banks? Tear gas time.

Saw that OWS protesters have been arrested in huge numbers. Have seen reports of disabled people, children and veterans attacked by cops.

Perhaps some of them were being disrespectful, I don't know. I know that Naomi Wolf says she was arrested for walking on a public sidewalk. And I know that the Tea Party used to shout epithets at congressmen and people in wheelchairs wanting healthcare. I know they openly carried weapons and waved signs threatening violence against the state. And I don't recall one instance of Tea Party rallies experiencing rubber bullets or tear gas. What is more, Fox News promoted these events, and sent their personalities to appear a them. NPR just fired someone for attending an OWS event.

Don't tell me the left and right are the same in this country. Just don't.

October 10, 2011

Anne Graham Lotz

Heard this interview on NPR and it speaks to everything that bugs me about evangelical Christianity.

She has no sense that her brother Franklin has operated as a religious and political hack. But worse, she claims that all of them--her brother, her dad, and herself, have all just followed what God wanted them to do. So God wanted Franklin to question Obama's Christianity, blame the Japanese Tsunami on God, and suggest that Obama had allowed Islamic extremists to infiltrate our government? Hmm.

It is amazing. In that circle, God's will is whatever you want it to be. It is almost always what the person claiming it believes, personally, and almost always a reflection of their own personal world-view. But never is God called to account when Brother Franklin goes off the rails and acts like an ass. Never.

If anyone wants a reason why evangelical Christianity leaves me cold, this is as good as any.

October 7, 2011

Palin: Already Almost Forgotten

While this was hardly news, nor surprising, the former half-time Alaska Governor bowed out of the 2012 race. Few thought she would really run--mostly because she has made a career out of being famous, not being good at governing. And, as any of her statements show, she has no interest in policy. No, she is, like Huckabee, adept at exploiting her base for money, while never seriously wanting to do anything for the country.

Her announcement was bizarre--a presser read by Mark Levine while Sarah Palin was on the phone with his show. Weird. Then later, she told Greta that she didn't want to make a big deal about her announcement like that of Chris Christie. She is a piece of work, that is for sure.

David Frum routinely annoys me, and has since he bragged about coining the "axis of evil" phrase for Bush. But he is a rarity these days--a semi-rational Republican, and he has perhaps the best takedown of Palin I have read:
Sarah Palin was the ultimate taker. She abandoned her post as governor of Alaska to cash in on lectures and TV. She squeezed her supporters for political donations and spent the money on herself. To adapt an old phrase, she seen her opportunities and she took ‘em.

In the end, she exploited, abused, or embarrassed almost everyone who had believed in her. Most embarrassing of all: she was never even a very good con artist. Everything that was false and petty and unqualified in her was visible within the first minutes of encountering her. The people she fooled were people who passionately wished to be fooled.
Ouch. Not only about Palin, but about those who cheered her and told me how they loved her values.

October 6, 2011

Conservative Christian bullshit about poverty

Sorry. But I have to call it like it is. I have had two or three conservative Christians trot this argument out as if it is a game changer. The argument goes as follows: "Jesus wasn't concerned with changing the world as much as he was changing the hearts and minds of the people. Feeding the poor is not a bad thing, but if that is all you do, then it is, because those people can only change if they develop a relationship with Christ. Ergo, anti-poverty efforts are just missing the point."

Of course, the big problem here is that there is no inherent reason that people on welfare or food stamps, or being fed by hand--cannot also be ministered to by people trying to change their soul. Those who say that social justice is missing the point by focusing on the material world--in the same damn breath, voice opposition to their own material wealth being used to feed the poor.

Which is it?

If the relationship with Jesus is the be all, and end all, then what the fuck do you care about your taxes? Seriously? Your money is not yours, as you preach, and since the relationship is all you value, then what do you care if your tax dollars are given to poor black women who have children on purpose? Because by your own argument, you will be trying to change their spiritual world, and you don't really care about their physical world.

Unless you do. Unless you actually care very much about your material wealth. And unless you actually want those poor people to be uncomfortable as much as possible.

I am guessing that when you say that God will "provide" for you, you don't really mean that. You mean that maybe he will, but in the meantime, you are going to hold on to your pennies unless you deem the person in need to be suitably uncomfortable and worthy. And while you think the poor may be too obsessed with their lack of material wealth, your own material wealth is incredibly important to you.


October 3, 2011

Bill Maher: GOP candidate Jesus Christ

Just about brilliant:
And that's the downside to living in a fantasy world. For a Republican candidate to not disappoint you, he would have to be Jesus of Nazareth. And even Jesus would be toast after a few news cycles. Because "feed the hungry"? Sounds suspiciously like welfare. And "heal the sick"... for free?? (wild audience applause) That is definitely Obamacare! And "turn the other cheek"? Maybe you didn't hear, Jesus, but this is the party that cheers executions.

So here now is the short campaign timeline of Jesus Christ, Republican candidate.

Day 3

Three days after Jesus announces he's in, a Gingrich spokesman reports that he read Jesus's book... and finds some aspects of it troubling. Mitt Romney says Jesus's previous statements make him appear anti-business. And Rick Perry asks if America is ready for a Jewish President. And then Rick eats a paint chip.

Day 7

At the Republican debate, the other candidates pile on the new frontrunner. Michele Bachmann calls the meek inheriting the earth a colossal expansion of the estate tax. And Newt Gingrich scores the big zinger when he says, "Mr. Christ, America can't afford another cheek!"

Day 9

Teabaggers start getting e-mails from their idiot brother-in-law about how Jesus is not even from this country. (wild audience applause) And was born alongside a bunch of animals in a manger. And not to harp on it, but where's the birth certificate? And if he's a carpenter, is he too pro-union?

Day 10

Jesus is now polling fourth behind Perry, Romney, and the pizza guy. And in a desperate attempt to gain credibility, he goes to New York and has coffee with Trump... who pronounces him, "a decent guy, but a little effeminate".

October 2, 2011

Dogs and people

Today has been a pretty good day. Beautiful weather here in OK, and I don't have pressing work for tomorrow. SOF does, however, and has been working insane hours.

But we both took our dogs to our new pastime--Flyball. We have been looking for something for Grace as she clearly needs a job. She is still too young to do much of the Flyball stuff, but she does some straight races over hurdles. I posted some videos for you to see a little Flyball.

But back to my topic. This afternoon, after SOF went back to work, I ran by our Natural History Museum where our Flyball team put on a demonstration. The museum just unveiled an exhibit on the evolution of wolves into dogs, and so had a big dog day (called Woofstock) where people could adopt dogs, connect to dog organizations, see Flyball, etc.

I ended up helping the team during a demo--which was fun, but then took a quick run through the exhibit. It had to be quick, because I was afraid I would just start bawling there in the museum. Started with the opening exhibit about how dogs are human's oldest companions. They have ancient examples of humans sharing protein and shelter--when those were hardly things they had to share.

I know why the ancients did that. I have seen Streak on the fringe of my vision several times lately--just remembering how he was always there, and always with me. And now Grace is there--checking on me when I am upset--and so glad to see me when I come home. And I watch Abbie follow SOF around the house.

Anyway. This is hardly news, but I am constantly in awe of what dogs can do for humans. I didn't need a museum exhibit to tell me. Nor did I need to to show me the connection. But I am glad they have it, and perhaps when I am braver, I will go back and give it more time.