Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Blogaround

As I was leaving work on Friday, a fellow building tenant mentioned he would be working over the holiday. Memorial Day, he said, meant nothing to him. "What's it supposed to memorialize? What are we celebrating?" he asked. Not having the complete history of the holiday in front of me, I mumbled something about how it's to honor those who've died in war, and that for me it's a day of remembrance decrying the concept of war in general. "Have you ever known anyone personally who's died in a war?" he kindly retorted. And I thought about it. And I realized that, aside from losing a great many relatives to the Holocaust -- which was always in the abstract as it happened long before I was born so I never met any of those folks except in photo albums -- and my Dad dodging Allied bullets and hiding in Romanian bunkers and my ex-husband often putting himself in harm's way during his Navy tours, I don't know that war losses have ever touched my family personally. And maybe my relative privilege is part of the problem. Maybe war is still too much of an abstract for most of the people who might be able to do something about ending it.

Well. I'm finally caught up with blog-reading, so here's a long-overdue blogaround for you:

• There's been a flurry of construction activity on Broadway lately, as I've noticed during my daily morning stroll from the Columbus Circle subway station to the office. It started with repaving both Broadway and 7th Avenue, then digging up Broadway to put in bike lanes and what look like spaces for planters -- and now up-for-borderline-illegal-re-election Mayor Bloomberg has suddenly announced that the Herald Square (33-35th Streets) and Times Square (42-47th Streets) sections will become pedestrian-only for the rest of the year as an experiment. The southbound version of my express bus (which I usually don't take) will change routes, as apparently will the buses I take to get to Midtown Comics after work, but amazingly there's nothing about this on the MTA's website. New York, where the locals are always the last to know!

• Apparently the big foiled-Riverdale-synagogue bombing plot was manufactured pretty much wholesale (thanks, Liz) by the Bush-era FBI. Way to give my neighborhood a scare, dipsh*ts. Some of us are still oversensitive to terror tactics, even as I agree with Amanda that "the War on Terra doesn’t have the power to frighten nearly as much as the possibility that you’re going to work tomorrow to find that your job won’t be waiting for you." I'm sorry, can someone tell me again why we should assume government police and spy agencies ever tell us the truth?

• I can't keep up with all the technology. Not only is most Cool New Stuff out of my price range as long as Robin's between assignments, but I can't see where I'd find the time. Every now and then I flirt with the idea of a Kindle or smartphone to take with me on my daily commute, but that's my down-time and I'm pretty content right now with just my iPod. And my company's server blocks most social networking, Twittering and the like (although you may find me on LinkedIn during a workday). But still, it doesn't hurt to read about stuff like this going on even if I don't necessarily consider it aspirational. I found Heidi's review of mobile phone comics content fascinating, and her musings about Twitter in our culture brought a smile to my face. Kevin Drum examines Peter Suderman's claims about the 'net and concludes that books still occupy a tremendous place in our lives. Well, sure, for those of you with Kindles!

• Via Vastleft, a Daily Howler history of Maureen Dowd's gender-trashing. Honestly, a little blog plagiarism should be the least of any thinking person's objections about her writing. Not to mention her flightiness when interviewing the head Twitterati, as Sean points out.

• Speaking of privilege as we were above, Jill links to a good rundown of all the things you don't have to think about when you're not poor that wind up costing poor folks far more than they cost us middle-classers.

• Susie has a nice compilation post about single-payer -- which is not the same as single-provider or lack of choice! I wonder why people confuse the two, other than the gajillions spent by insurance companies to confuse them. If my health insurance were properly administered by the government, I figure just about any doctor would be in-network. The way it works now, every time I get new health insurance (and in my last job the company changed HMOs every couple of years) I have to find at least one new doctor, which means severing whatever doctor-patient relationships I'd previously cultivated. And that's just wrong.

• Mick at Fact-esque hits the nail on the head -- for many true believers, particularly on the right wing of the political bird (where mindless lockstep obedience is considered a virtue), movement politics is a religion, and the free market (as opposed to the prophet who threw out money-changers) is the god.

• Here in Oppositeland, the current Speaker of the House is excoriated in our "liberal" media, while a former, disgraced Speaker with no apparent base or expertise is elevated. Steve Benen examiners the truth behind the "Pelosi non-popularity" fiction, and Eric Boehlert asks why anyone should care what the Newt thinks. (Also from Eric -- false equivalency, you're doing it right! If you really want to show Obama/Bush parallels, you could do worse than to take notes from how the Daily Show does it, no punches pulled.)

• Another must-read inspirational post from Melissa McEwan on why Shakesville exists.

• Good one from Mustang Bobby pointing out what a sick hypothetical fantasy the "ticking time bomb" scenario really is. There's a reason we've only ever seen this in fiction; it's to heighten dramatic effect and goose the viewer/reader. These scenarios bear about as much resemblance to reality, says Bobby, as the possibilities that "we might get struck by an asteroid, too, or get attacked by the Borg, or by the monster that lives under my bed."

• You know you're in trouble when a site says "Begin by believing and then just do it." (Wasn't that Amway's old slogan?) PZ Myers links to the Reincarnation Bank scam. I'd be tempted to call it a Silly Site but it appears these crooks are dead serious.

• Will we ever see this country's former leaders finally held accountable for their many illegalities, the way other enlightened societies do with theirs? Highly doubtful, opines William Wolfrum, who says it "will all end in pizza," the same as other collusions among the powerful. I can well believe it; our media doesn't even have the balls to repudiate an event like the White House Correspondents' Dinner because most of them are so happy to be Kewl Kids with access and partying privileges, rather than doing their presumed job of being an adversarial press.

• For all his usual rudeness, the Rude Pundit actually sounds more reasonable (to me) in his interpretation of President Obama's recent speech regarding Guantanamo than do others in the left-osphere.

• On the frontiers of science, I'm with Susie, I want one too. Sean presents helpful rules for time travel writers. And as Maru points out, it's worth remembering that this picture is not to scale. Think "dust mites" rather than "litter."

• Hope you've been following the multi-author saga of Potato Moon over at Peter David's blog. They're currently up to part 37. I signed up to write a chapter way back when, but haven't heard back yet. And I love what Colleen Doran says here about copyright and the collective unconscious. It's not that the CU isn't a possibly valid theory, mind you, but the ability to tap into it isn't something just anyone can do, so the people who can accomplish that most successfully, at least to my mind, deserve the accolades and recognition and monetary compensation.

• I haven't been to a cinema in ages so, naturally, haven't yet seen the Star Trek movie, but I think Lis Riba makes an excellent point here about future childbirth. Like I always say, you can't blame people for not being ahead of their time -- except when they're supposed to be. Maybe it's cause Hollywood, as Amanda points out, is still a'scared of girls and, like, their cooties or somesuch. (Note, that's "cooties" with an "ies.")

• Lance Mannion, who still has the most masculine-sounding movie name of anyone I know, handily shoots down stupid gender theory regarding work. He also brings the visceral to the abortion debate, which gave me a lot to think about; and has one of the best "non-reviews" of Star Trek I've read so far.

• Speaking of Lance, I bet you'd already forgotten the Republican-created brouhaha (ha ha ha!) about the President preferring mustard on his burgers. Lance dissects that nicely (in his opinion it all comes down to the Fear of the Other), as does Jesse Taylor in his examination of "common man elitism."

• Thomas Dolby remembers a lost love amid an obscure Bowie song (and accompanying Bowie anecdote, natch).

• Kai points out what should be obvious, that the best place to deal with someone you consider a racist is at an anti-racism conference, and boycotting same is just myopic.

• Cara Kulwicki ruminates over the John Lennon song "Woman is the Nigger of the World." While I understand her point that the n-word is almost always problematic coming out of the mouth of a privileged white person, in a much stronger way than "Working Class Hero" is problematic coming from a multi-millionaire. But I'm of a different generation than Cara, and I maintain that at the time it first came out the song was incredibly powerful (and very meaningful for us second-wave feminists), and I think the argument can be made that it had to be linguistically offensive because, in American English, the n-word (like the c-word) denotes the lowest, basest insult a societally-privileged group can hurl at a non-privileged group, and that was the point of the song, accept no substitutions. At the time, this wasn't considered "reinforcing other types of oppression" the way it might be today.

• Cara also updates Beatles Rock Band release news, complete with some lovely Macca footage. J.C. Christian applies the techniques of wacko Beatles conspiracy theorist Niezgoda to the phenomenon that is ABBA. And, via Sheila Lennon (no relation so far as I know), here's a commercially-staged mass singalong of Hey Jude in Trafalgar Square:

• Lastly, here's a nerdgasm photo, via Dennis at the Comedy Central blog:

And another Elayne-nerdgasm photo of my jewelry storage work in progress, this time featuring all the stuff I wear now occupying two acrylic earring holders (the back one only sparsely utilized so far) and two new acrylic necklace holders:

And now, ironing awaits!