Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Foggy Mountain Blogaround

Listen, my head might be in a fog from this cold, but I have over 50 open bookmarks since last September!, so it's well past time I step into the Wayback Machine to pass them along:

• Sayeth PZ Myers, regarding burning Korans and "improper" disposition of communion wafers, "The problem isn't the desecrators. The problem is the people who have an unwarranted sense of privilege, that their beliefs will not be questioned or criticized, ever, by anyone." I agree up to a point, that point being incitement to or participation in violent hate crimes. For instance, I'd say the perpetrators of Kristallnacht were pretty much the problem, not their victims.

• Ted Rall points out that the Afghanistan invasion/occupation will continue as long as we keep telling ourselves and believing lies.

• Patrick Nielsen-Hayden is right, moderation isn't where effective change comes from, and there's no virtue in softening horrible truths to the point where they become no big deal.

• While I'm frustrated that we won't have Keith Olbermann's show to kick around look forward to any more, I'm kind of relieved he's being silent over the matter, since basically he's doing okay at $7 mill a year and he probably knows it. Contrast that with, for instance, Ben Stein, about whom Digby notes, "regardless of where you come down in the moral argument, I think there's little debate among decent people that it's just plain tacky for people in the upper one percent to publicly complain" about losing a little percentage of that when so many others in this country are hurting. It's why I thank good fortune every day that I have a roof over my head, a job with health insurance and free yearly flu shots (I imagine this current bout would have been a lot worse had it been a full-blown flu), a husband who loves me, healthy pets, a family from whom I can get financial support if needed, etc. etc. I tend to complain about small, silly stuff, for which I also thank providence.

• Amanda reminds us that "healthy lifestyles take effort" and are also, for many people, an unaffordable luxury. I tend to buy lots of low-cal frozen dinners because I don't have the time to cook (as much as I might want to) during the workweek, and I don't have the wherewithal to cook for the entire week on a weekend; that's when I rest. I can't imagine how people with jobs and kids do it. Also see Amanda's essay on Red Food, Blue Food.

• Why aren't more people repeating what Paul Krugman says, that running any public service "like a business" is wrong? Unless you're talking about a not-for-profit, the point of a business is to make money, not to help people. The point of government should never, ever to be to turn a profit. I will eternally be in favor of the separation of the Church of Mammon and state. Especially when profit-worshippers mislabel multi-billion dollar corporations as "small businesses" to get more government perks.

• I'm still only up to September, but I look back fondly on Susie's "hippie punching" moment (historical background care of Digby, memory jogger here and here), which of course turned out prescient, as the White House chose to attack their base instead of the real problem, and people voted for the enemy of their enemy.

• Lance Mannion had a pretty cogent analysis of the late and not-lamented-by-me George Steinbrenner.

• On Friday's Real Time, I once again heard a Republican kool-aid drinker defend our healthcare by saying "Why do all these Canadians come down here for care?" which of course they don't, only the rich ones who need specialized care. I'm the first to agree that we have really, really good health care for the rich; not so much for everybody else. For Sara Robinson, this and other uniquely modern American attitudes were kind of a culture shock when she moved back to this country.

• What Digby said, that "many conservatives are conservatives because they deeply resent the government (and the greater society) forcing them to stop being bigots."

• All this talk about bowdlerizing Huck Finn reminds me of this old essay by Lance Mannion about the original Oompa-Loompas. And I agree with him, when I was younger I slogged through all the Loftig Dr. Doolittle books every few years, and the older I got the more reprehensible the racism. While you can't necessarily blame people for not being ahead of their time, it does seem like teacher-supplied context is needed for a lot of this stuff, which I think is a good indication of how far we've come.

• Jill's brain is always talking. Mine too, but not to such an extent.

• I don't read the Huffington Post any more, it's filled with writers I don't care that much about, but I had to laugh at this pass-along from the Awl of Huffington's guest-post on the Daily Beast all about how she and her good friend Tina Brown secretly hate each other, as all pairs of powerful women are supposed to.

• On to October and the Chilean miner miracle, which isn't even a minor miracle, as Roger Ebert reminds us. It's called competence, fortitude and skill, which I think is more reason to celebrate than "God's will." Of course, as Flory points out, when our country has naught but crumbling infrastructure compared to other countries completing amazing engineering feats, trusting in God is all that many people have left, short of government actually, you know, governing.

• Has it really been that long since Cat visited and we spotted a pig?

• Martha Thomases comes out in favor of elitism, as opposed to those fighting a war against intelligence.

• Lance Mannion examines the famous characters Martin Freeman has played.

• And we're up to November, and Melissa McEwan taking issue with Jon Stewart's false equivalency which, alas, seems to continue to this day. She revisits this dilemma with a post addressing Stewart's appearance on Rachel Maddow's show. Also from Liss, a list of reasons married feminists might wish to take their husband's surnames (like her, I'll cite #4 as one reason, but for me, a big consideration was that his "Riggs" is short and easy to spell, as opposed to "Wechsler-Chaput" which nobody could pronounce or spell anyway); and a eulogy for Mary "Maud" Quinn.

• Roger Ebert hit a very tender nerve with his essay on loneliness.

• Someday I hope to meet Jill's clever kitties, who provide a LOLCat "Guide 2 Kat Fud - 4 Fuchur Retireez."

• Great post from Cara regarding women and self-perception about weight. The money quote: "in a society where fat is almost universally vilified, a woman proclaiming that she does not view herself as overweight may indeed be doing nothing more than making a statement of self-confidence...Further, the fact is that some of these women who don’t 'realize' they’re fat might not be fat at all. Fat is socially a pretty subjective concept to begin with..." Nice stuff.

• Here's Lisa Fortuner to filmmakers on why many movies suck: "because you've decided your lead isn't a human being."

• December at last, which brings us Jim McDonald's definitive post on how to get published. And Lance examines Truth and Beauty in the Movies, parts one and two, with part three yet to come unless I missed it. Although I found much beauty in him talking about the difference between his tearing up and John Boehner's.

• Carla at Snap Judgments suggests people improve their parenting skills and stop blaming products for being too difficult.

• I think this might be the definitive article on why foie gras isn't unethical nor cruel. I've still never eaten the stuff, as it's expensive.

• Another day, another terrific examination by Kate Smurthwaite of the Daily Mail's journalistic failures.

• And we've arrived at January, which is where I'm at in my reading. Still not caught up, but I can't let that stop me from passing along what I've bookmarked so far, like Mark Evanier's observation that sometimes all it takes for freelancers to become employed it that one phone call. Here at the Riggs Residence we have a great sense of identification with that circumstance!

• Maria Bustillos at The Awl reviews a brief history of the gender-neutral pronoun. I tend to come down on the side of "agreement in subject rather than number," and use the third person plural ("they" and "their" and "them").

• Thank you, BoingBoing, I never heard of Arcimboldo before, now I have a book of his collected works in my Amazon wish list.

• Fake Steve Jobs, before he closed down his blog, reminded us what news (both online and in "old media") is all about - profits before journalism.

• "This is not for you, GO AWAY." And then they wonder why more women don't buy "mainstream" superhero comics.

• The Women in Comics wiki sounds tailor-made for Trina Robbins and other such herstorians! Reminds me of an expanded version of the Women Doing Comics page I used to maintain on the Friends of Lulu site.

• Lastly, Melissa dreaming of sunlit sidewalks is heartbreaking and beautiful.

Okay, there's the coughing and sneezing again, back to the real world of cold care.