Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is it Because He's Black? Is it Because She's a Woman?

A response to comments that it is "ironic that people say Sarah Palin is only where she is today because she's a woman. Obama is only where he is today because he's Black."

Obama is where he is today because he is well-educated, intelligent, rational, articulate, and persuasive. That he is half black is icing on the cake to many voters who, for years, have felt disenfranchised - including white voters who worked for and supported civil rights. These very assets - his intelligence, his Harvard education, his record as a community organizer and senator, his top-notch ability to deliver a speech - are also his shortcomings, along with his being black, in the eyes of a disturbingly large segment of American society. When did it become a sin to be smart?

Palin is where she is today because she is a woman who represents the most extreme fundamentalist views of the neo-cons. She is the poster child for their most deeply held beliefs (anti-choice, pro-guns, anti-sex-education, pro-big-oil, anti-environment - the list goes on) -  and the fact that she's a woman won't hurt because, after all, she's not a black man. Moderate Republicans I know are horrified. This woman doesn't represent them, either. I'm offended that McCain so obviously believes that women's votes can be had so easily. I resent it. Any woman who truly supported Hillary, who now switches over to the McCain/Palin camp, was never a supporter of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic party. If the candidate's being a woman or a black man is all it takes to sway your vote, then you are not voting on the issues, you are not voting on your values - you are reducing this election to nothing more than a high school popularity contest. When my daughter was twelve, she tried to persuade me to vote for George W. Bush because he was "better looking than Al Gore." This is why we don't let twelve year olds vote. Unfortunately, too many adults still think like twelve year olds.

The Katie Couric interview (see snippet at Lipstick on Pygmalion, below) when compared to Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the RNC highlights just what a good speechwriter, a little cram-coaching, and a big-print teleprompter can do for one's image. But the real test of someone's mettle is to see them wing it extemporaneously. Until I saw that interview, I though, "Okay - she stands for everything I'm against, but she's a sharp cookie and a woman not to be underestimated." Now? I am thoroughly disgusted. I don't know what possessed McCain to choose her, but I think it's about to backfire. As my son (age 12) observed last night after watching that clip:

"I'm starting to like Sarah Palin after watching that."

My jaw dropped. "WHAT?"

"She's making it much more likely that Obama will win."

Out of the mouths of babes. Maybe we should let the kids vote, after all.

By the way, I don't let my kids play "I'm for [fill in your candidate's name] because my mom [or dad] are voting for them," or "I hate [fill in your candidate's name] because my mom [or dad] says they stink." Oooh, no. I make my children think for themselves. I had my son watch the debates last night (which he gamely did, after I bribed him with pizza and root beer). He admitted, later, that he didn't understand any of what either candidate was talking about. I told him to keep watching the news, the debates, the papers - that eventually it would all click together in his mind. We discussed some of the issues and where both sides agreed and differed in their views and proposed solutions. Some of it, I don't understand either. ;) But no, my children will not be little automatons spouting the parental party line. It's much more important to me that they grow up thinking critically for themselves, that they be able to distinguish logic and fact from emotion and clever rhetoric.

A Democrat...raising Independents for the future. What a concept.

P.S. I did tell him to stick to CNN and the local news and not to watch Fox "News" or Pat Robertson. He's too young to be exposed to that much obscenity.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Lipstick on Pygmalion

Nothing about tonight's Presidential debates changed my mind or my vote. I have always had respect for John McCain's service to his country, as a soldier, a POW, and a Senator... I don't think he did badly in tonight's debate with Barack Obama. Other than the fact that he developed a weird, nervous giggle; dredged up tangential anecdotes from the distant past; and refused to make eye contact with Obama or even turn slightly to acknowledge his opponent, he didn't do too badly.

But if his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate isn't proof the man lacks the judgment necessary to lead this country at one of its most challenging times, I don't know what is:

She's even more inarticulate than President Bush. After watching her struggle to link words together in a coherent sentence, I was ready to forgive Bush his inability to pronounce "nuclear" after eight years of constant coaching. Palin truly is the "people's choice" among those who think Barack Obama is "elitist" for being well-educated and articulate. She makes them feel smart.

See the video below. Did anyone else immediately think, "Wow, this could be Palin's running mate in four years, should (God forbid!) anything happen to McCain"?

Will Sarah Palin debate Joe Biden? Will the McCain campaign let her speak in public after that disastrous interview?

I doubt even Henry Higgins could pull of a miracle of that magnitude.

Meme? Me, me! Why ME?

The rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you: Lynne Thompson @ La Vida Es Un Sueno - y'all can blame her for today's silliness!

2) Post the rules on the blog: Here you go. See? This is step 2.

3) Write six random things about yourself: Uh huh. Random? Like...Chaos Theory random?

Okay, here goes:

- I like Estee Lauder's White Linen and Oscar by Oscar de la Renta.
- Bacon, peanut butter, and horseradish (alone or in combination) make me sleepy.
- I didn't have the reflex to catch myself when I fell until after age 10. I'd just go down, face first, like a tree. Broke my front tooth - permanent tooth - that way.
- I don't like wine, but I have been known to throw a whine and geeez party.
- I wear men's size 10 hiking boots; so does my son. He's only 12.
- I like Pi. 3.14159265 slices, with boysenberries, to be exact. But I am a Dodo bird when it comes to math. I just like Pi.

4) Tag six people at the end of your post: At the end? Heightening the suspense, are we?

5) Let each person know they have been tagged: Why? Wouldn't it be more fun to let them figure it out for themselves? Six months from now, I can whine, "See? You never read my blog!"

6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up: Okay, Lynne, my entry is up. Don't even think about telling me you don't check back to see, after you yell "Tag, you're it!" and run off laughing maniacally.

"Tag, You're It!"

I'm tagging Vivian, Elysabeth, Kimberly, Katie (who swears she reads everything her mom writes, but this should be telling), Miguel, and Jennifer (hmmm, which one of you am I tagging? I should just let you guess...see who answers the call).

If you're reading this and I didn't call your name, consider yourself tagged (see? I did name "six people" more or less) - leave me a link if you decide to play!

Tagged...Again?? Okay, Elysabeth...

I'm just adding on, here, so as not to clutter the blog. I thought you said EIGHT random things, E? Looks like twenty, to me. Dang. Here we go:

1. What are your nicknames? Holly. My real name is Holland. Jessiebelle, a nickname I used on GEnie, years ago. Andy. Only my parents call me that - if you try it, I won't answer. Mother, Mommy, Mama, Mom - and if you're not one of my kids, and you call me that, I'll send you to your room.

2. What game show and/or reality show would you like to be on? None. I would say "Jeopardy," but I can never remember to lead in with "What is..." Is there one where they magically transform you into a neat, organized, and efficient human being?

3. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD? Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and "The Sound of Music."

4. What is your favorite scent? Fresh, clean, herbal scents.

5. If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it? I see Elysabeth didn't read the question. I can only spend it on myself? I would pay my children's tuition (this is spending it "on myself" since I'm investing in the people who will be running the country and making my healthcare decisions when I'm old). I'd build a comfortable but modest home of my own design, with private apartments for immediate family members or guests. I'd hire a housekeeper. I would travel with family, and dine out at nice restaurants.

6. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to? Just one? There are several, really. Germany, my grandfather's homeland, is high on the list. Istanbul or Hawaii might vie for second place.

7. Do you trust easily? Yes and no. My dad always said, "Never gamble more than you can afford to lose." Everyone starts out around a 5, on a trust scale of 1-10. It's much harder to earn a higher level of trust than it is to lose trust.

8. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think? I generally think before I act. What I think may be totally wrong...but I really do think.

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? No, not really. I'm a pretty happy person in general.

10. Do you have a good body image? Yes. I'm realistic; I'd like to lose weight and I'm irked with myself that I regained nearly all the weight I'd lost two years ago. It wasn't hard, but it took a long time and a lot of discipline that I don't seem to have right now. I know I can do that again, but I'm a little discouraged that I have to start from scratch. Fortunately, I'm happy enough with my body image that it's not a pressing need.

11. What is your favorite fruit? Peaches when they're perfectly ripe, juicy, and slightly tart.

12. What websites do you visit daily? Google. GMail. My own:

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately? Wyler's Beef Bouillon with half a fresh, raw, sliced jalapeno pepper. Or Nutella and Creamy Jif, if I need something sweet. The Internet - that's "brain food," right?

14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? Caring, generous, intelligent, realistic, smart.

15. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? "Hey Mama" by the Black Eyed Peas. That's a good thing; it's on my mp3 player and it's on my workout list. Now and then, though, it's "Barrett's Privateers" - usually inspired by work.

16. What's your favorite item of clothing? Lounge pants and a loose tank top. I'm actually kind of fond of my hiking boots, too.

17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? Yeah, sure, mixed with melted marshmallows by some other mom...

18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? Pick it up, ask around if someone lost money (and how much - I mean, c'mon, "Hey, did anyone around here lose $100?" You're kidding, right?) Tell the police, possibly - you know, do the due diligence to return it, but hope no one came by and claimed it.

19. What items could you not go without during the day? Air, water, my glasses, clothes.

20. What should you be doing right now? Working, but I am doing that - I'm good at multitasking.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Trockle Tour Recap: September 13 through September 21

Reviews & Book Discussion

Interviews with the Author, Holly Jahangiri, & Illustrator, Jordan M. Vinyard

Interviews with the Characters, Stephen & Trockle

Articles by Holly Jahangiri & Jordan M. Vinyard


Trockle's Mom is so proud of her baby!

First Fan Mail!

Thank you, Nicholas! That means so much to me. Do you have a monster under your bed? Did you read Trockle to him? I am posting your letter here so that I can share it with the illustrator, Ms. Jordan. She will be tickled pink.

Trockle is tickled orange and bumpy and says to say hi to you.

Holly Jahangiri

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Real Tyranny and Tragedy of Bullying

"The tyrant grinds down his slaves and they don't turn against him, they crush those beneath them."
-- EMILY BRONTË, Wuthering Heights

This is the legacy of bullying. It doesn't always begin at home, but I know educators who handle bullies with kid gloves, because they've seen and experienced those kids' parents wrath first-hand. It's easier to discipline kids who are basically good, whose parents cooperate and don't stand toe-to-toe with the school principal, screaming with indignation and raised fists. Kids who are bullied don't turn on the bullies; they don't rise up and take away their oppressors' power. They figure it must feel good, and God knows, they need to feel better. They turn their rage and frustration on those who are even smaller and more helpless. Sometimes, they turn it inward, and there it festers in a toxic stew of depression and self-loathing. I had this conversation with my son, about a year ago:

"Mom, I'm a bad person. Sometimes I feel good when I hurt someone's feelings. I hurt R's feelings today. I don't think he's going to be my friend, anymore."

"Did he hurt yours? Did he do something to make you mad?"

"No. I just wanted to make him feel bad."

"Did you feel good when you told me you hated me?"

"A little."

"But you don't hate me."


"You get picked on, at school, and you feel powerless, don't you?"


"You figure it must feel good, to be so powerful, right? Do you sometimes want to see for yourself what that kind of power over someone else feels like?"


"Does it feel good?"

"Kind of. At the time."

"Does it feel good now?"

"No. I think I lost a friend." I'm happy to report that they've since mended fences, but it got me to thinking.

Bullies are deeply unhappy people. That doesn't mean they're to be pitied, nor does it mean their bad behavior should be overlooked or tolerated. It's a vicious cycle. Who hasn't felt a twinge of schadenfreude? Most of us are content to indulge in it from afar, and our consciences find it cringe-worthy; the bully, on the other hand, manufactures it. For the bully, it seems to be a way of life - the only thing that brings a semblance of joy. I didn't worry about my son becoming a bully - he was too clearly miserable about the whole thing.

"Can you make it right?" I asked him.

"I don't know. I can try." We talked about the importance of sincere apologies, and things he might do for his friend to begin mending the friendship.

This year, I enrolled my son in Tae Kwon Do. He's watched Karate Kid I, II, and III. I'd forgotten what good movies those were - even if there's no "crane technique." It's very empowering to be able to think, "I could knock the wind out of you with one well-placed kick, but being the bigger person - the smarter, kinder, more decent human being - I'm going to spare you." W. is perfecting Mr. Miyagi's nose-honk maneuver, along with his side kicks.