The Man from GM Fails to Take Me to Sweden

The Man from GM just got back from Sweden.  He took these photos with his actual own camera.

img_141403-04-08jpg.jpg

And this:

img_2320_03-15-08jpg.jpg

I feel like I should talk some smack about the Man from GM, but I want him to take me with him next time.  After all, I’ve been a good friend to him, over the years, kind of, if you overlook a bunch of stuff that I did and play up a bunch of stuff that he did and Sweden is the land of my ancestors, at least, the ones who weren’t German.

Everybody Wins (Well, Except for the Mexicans, but What Can You Do?)

I want to say something bitingly clever about the 287(g) program, but I just don’t have it in me today.  Last night, on all the news channels, they were talking about what a great success this has been, so great, in fact, that there’s now talk of petitioning the Feds to give us an immigration judge right here in Nashville, so that we can more quickly process the people who have immigrated here illegally.

So, see, everyone wins.  The sheriff’s office now has something other than coordinating bulk trash pick-up to do.  Politicians get to look like they’re doing something about the immigration problem.  People who like to appear tough on crime get to appear tough on crime.  Locals and Feds get to coordinate.  Other communities get to go back to their tax payers and say, “Hey, if we raise taxes, we can get the computers we need to be hooked in with the Feds so that we can get 287(g) here, too!”

But before we all run off celebrating how awesome this all is, I just want to point out to you two unfortunate facts:

Via Braisted: “While Hall originally predicted around 4,000 unauthorized immigrants would be detained in the first year, only 3,000 were identified as non-legal residents.”

Via Lamb: “80 percent of those processed for deportation hearings were arrested on misdemeanor charges.”

In other words, oppressing and harassing brown people may not be the boom industry it’s being celebrated as.

Not By the Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin

Via the Unapologetic Mexican, we learn that, according to the geniuses at Fox News, facial hair is indicative of racial or ethnic identity.

I, myself, have a chin hair I have to pluck out when I notice it, every month or so.

I assumed this was just a part of being born a mammal–warm blood, nipples, hair–but no, apparently, it’s a way to signal to Obama that you share with him an American born father and a Mexican born mother. (I know.  Just roll with it.  It’s like magical realism or weird dream logic.)

This will come as a surprise to my grandma, who was there for the birth of my mother, and is convinced it took place in Chicago.

But who am I to argue with the truth as plain as the hair on my face?

Just Me and the Dishes

I suspect that many if not most of y’all are tired of reading about me being sick and frankly I’m tired of being sick so we’re even.

Still, being tired of being sick does not instantly cure one of being sick.

I am feeling a little better today, though, and so I have set a goal.  Just as yesterday my goal was to take a shower, today my goal is to do some dishes.  This involves many of the same skills necessary for accomplishing yesterday’s task–standing, getting wet, and removing yuck.  And so I should be able to do it.

But…

But, as you know, I hate doing the dishes.

I feel a bit like I’m trapped in the house with my worst enemy.

On the other hand, everything seems to smell vaguely of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, so that’s a pleasant development.

Is Erica Jong on Drugs?!

Sincerely, America.  I had to get up out of my sick bed and come here to ask you “Is Bill Maher writing Erica Jong’s columns for her while she is in a coma or something?”

If this had been in The Onion verbatim I would have laughed until I cried.

First, let’s just overlook the ridiculousness of Erica Jong now arguing that everyone should just get along and work together.  No, what I’d like you to turn your attention to is the metaphor Jong employs to describe Clinton and Obama:

We have two great candidates–one a hard working, never give up eager beaver, and one an inspiring, heart-leapingly brilliant stallion. Both have their merits.

No, I shit you not.  She goes on:

We need beavers and we need stallions. Beavers get the work done. Stallions inspire us. And they both have limitations. Stallions have fragile legs (think Barbaro). And beavers are nothing without their teeth.

Yes, I swear, she says “And beavers are nothing without their teeth.” Poor Clinton.  Seriously, it’s bad enough when her detractors try to frame her as a castrating bitch, now her supporters are arguing that her greatest selling point, aside from her hard work, is that she’s a “beaver” with teeth?

As Sarge says in the old Beetle Bailey cartoon, when he’s hanging off a cliff, and that dimwitted guy wants to talk about his feelings, “Send different help!”

As for comparing Obama to a stallion, America, I hope I don’t have to point out to you how problematic that is.

Okay, and see, that’s the other thing about Jong’s post that pisses me off–in the hands of an astute comedian, comparing Clinton to a beaver and Obama to a stallion could be hilarious and biting political satire.  You have, right there, perfectly embodied, the two anxieties white men supposedly have about women and black men: women, when given power, will bite your dicks off with our teeth-lined vaginas and black men, with their insatiable sexual appetites and their being hung like horses will steal all the women from you, if given an even shot.  What then, is the lesser of two “evils”?

But no, instead, Jong tries to just use them as almost bland metaphors–as if she’s blind to the very sexual anxiety the images invoke–Clinton is just a busy hard-worker.  Obama’s just beautiful and natural and inspiring.  It’s like watching someone using a broadsword as a flyswatter.  It’s not very effective and it’s no wonder she keeps doing more harm than good.

I Took a Shower! I Took a Shower!

For the first time since Tuesday.  It was warm and showery and felt so good.  I had to take it very slowly, because I still get dizzy when I stand up for too long, but it was worth it.  Now, I’m going to take a nap.  Though, I may need to rest for a second before I work up to that.

An Open Letter to My Fellow Democrats

Dear Fellow Democrats,

As I’ve been sick, I’ve been perusing the internet and I’ve noticed both pro-Obama folks and pro-Clinton folks threatening that, if their candidate doesn’t get the nomination, then they just won’t vote or they’ll vote for McCain (see this letter here as an example).

I realize that tensions are running high and that we have two candidates that have inspired a great deal of loyalty.

But I have to tell you that, if you don’t get the candidate of your choice, and thus you either don’t vote or instead vote for McCain in an effort to “teach the Democrats” some lesson, you should never tell me that, because I might have to punch you.

I don’t think that either Obama or Clinton is going to be some magic cure for all that ails this country.  They’re probably not, in all honesty, going to be able to fix a whole lot.  But I’m not looking for some miraculous leader to redeem us.

I’m looking at the families of almost four thousand dead troops.  I’m looking at the living vets who come back and can’t get the medical care they need.   I’m looking at the destruction of a major U.S. city and how the Gulf Coast cleanup was left to civic and church groups.  I’m looking at gas at $3.50 or more a gallon with auto makers just being challenged to make cars more fuel efficient and not less fuel dependent.

And I’m looking at McCain, who seems to be running under the banner of being just like Bush, but more heroic.

How much more “just like Bush” do you think this country can take?

Do y’all learn nothing from history?  Remember back in 2000 when a bunch of folks were like “Oh, Bush, Gore, same shit, different day.”?  How wrong were they?

Just as wrong as you’ll be if, in your stubbornness, you give the election to McCain.

With Great Concern,

Aunt B.

At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m cursed

I’m starting to wonder if I will ever feel better. I’m determined to find something amusing out of all this though. So here’s amusing thing number one.  I call it “The Case of the Too-Convenient Hymen.”

Last night on CSI Miami we discovered that a woman hadn’t been the victim of a rape because her hymen was still intact.  And the other night on one of the Law & Orders, same thing–hymen, no rape.  Now I’m not suggesting that there aren’t twenty-something virgins in Miami or working as waitresses in strip clubs in New York.  I’m just saying that I find it hard to believe most women, either living in prime bathing suit country or working in a strip club, haven’t been using tampons.

Well, shoot, maybe that’s not that funny.

Everywhere, around the world

When I was little, I used to sneak into the living room, put Neil Diamond on the record player and develop elaborate song and dance routines to his song “America.”  This was, in part to cheer me up after my fantasy romance with John Taylor from Duran Duran (oh how I would roll that exotic English middle name of his around in my mouth, wondering if it was Nigel in a was that rhymed with Miguel or perhaps it sounded somewhat similar to Niger…) would take its inevitable tragic course, ending with my heartbreaking rendition of either “Love on the Rocks” or “You Don’t Send Me Flowers.”  Only my triumphant return to the stage, with my rendition of “America,” so stirring and so patriotic that it reminded everyone of what a great country we have and how lucky we are to be here, could help move me past the myopia of my own heartache.

Oh John Taylor, whilst I might never be thine, this is still my country and tis of thee, of thee I sing.

Or so my reasoning went.  You’ll have to forgive me for my unbridled optimism and blind patriotism.  I was still at the point where I would put on “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe and pretend to be Luke Skywalker head over heels in love with the girl who would turn out to be his sister.  I didn’t yet understand the appeal of Han Solo.  At that point, I still thought he was an asshole.

My first hints that this country was not a perfect paradise of wonder were the men my father’s age marching down the street in every parade we had with their big black flag and Merle Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over for Good?”  Both things to me seemed to indicate that there had been promises made that weren’t being kept.

And that offended me.  Soul deep, that offended me.

It still does.

It’s hard to say where a person, such as myself, gets her ideas of what the Promise of America is.

Other folks grow up listening to Merle Haggard and watching Vietnam Vets walking defiantly down the main streets of their towns and they become Republicans.

But to me, I still believe that America is a place where ordinary people should be able to come and make a little home for themselves and their loved ones.  Where a person should be able to go to the doctor when he’s sick.  Where a woman trying to make herself square with the system should be able to get her greencard without being raped.

Anyway, I had a point.

And that point is what it always is.  Every day we wake up and choose which America we’re going to be a part of–the part that is angry and afraid and small and ugly and evil or the part that tries to be different.

John Lamb sent me a story of a man who chose the America I love and it only cost him $200,000.

That kind of makes me feel like singing.

This Just Gets Better and Better

So, America, what are you doing?

Nothing?

You know what I’ve been doing?

Sneezing blood.

Yes, let me say that again.  Sneezing blood.

Oh, sure, I could put up with the coughing up blood or even the bloody snot.

But sneezes that send little brown flecks of blood all over the tissue and your hands and the front of your shirt?

Fuck you, you fucking flu.

But other than that, and the inability to sit upright, I’m feeling better and the doc says that as long as the blood doesn’t get worse, I don’t need to come in, which means I’m spending the day monitoring my snot.

Yuck.

The Curly Haired Blonde

The Butcher is on the phone with the Curly Haired Blonde.  She called about ten minutes ago.  I assumed he’d hung up, since he’s been quiet for at least seven minutes, and then he said, “Belmont’s got nothing to be ashamed of,” which scared the shit out of me because I thought he was asleep.

But no, apparently the Curly Haired Blonde just had a lot to say, because he was making that observation to her.

Random Things to Occupy Your Mind

Still sick.  Not better, not worse, just gross.  The Butcher said, “Wait for the puking and the explosive shits.”  I thought he was warning me, but no, it turns out that eventually, because you feel so bad, you start praying that everything in you will work its way out.  He was offering me hope.

Here’s three things I’m thinking about:

1.  I fear these guys are going to be shipped back to India at the end of all this.

2.  Mike Huckabee, I don’t want you as my president, but hat’s off to ya.

3.  Dear Mainstream Media, you suck.  That is all.

As It Happens

I got an email asking me to clarify a little bit what I mean when I talk about luck and fortune and such in a theological sense and since I thought maybe others might be curious, I thought I’d expand on it here.

I think, first, though, we need to talk about the broader law(s) that govern the universe–wyrd and orlog. Wyrd means something like “fate” or “how things turn out” or “what comes to pass.” Orlog means something like “the primary law.” Orlog is what is and weird might best be viewed as the sizzling edge of what is–weird is what’s happening.

You affect and are affected by what is and what’s happening and the force by which you affect and are affected by what’s happening might best be called “Luck” or “Fortune.” So, someone may have good luck; they’re just lucky; for whatever reason they are affected by what is and what’s happening in good ways. Or they may propagate good luck through being in right relation with others.

(You may have noticed that “hap” there in “happening” and recognize it from words like “happenstance” and “happy” or “mishap” and “hapless.” If you look into its meaning, you see this sense of what’s going on being a matter of luck–“Chance or fortune (good or bad) that falls to any one; luck, lot.” In other words, when we use words that contain “hap,” we’re using words that still carry along with them this notion of luck. For instance, I’m happy because my Luck is good.)

I think you can get the sense, too, that all of these words are kind of ways of talking about different forms of the same thing. We might think of it like layers of dirt, put down over millenia, with orlog being the bottom-most layers of luck, set down by our ancestors and hardened into a rock-strong firm foundation. Wyrd might be the looser, newer layers that will, over time, firm up into orlog, but now are still (especially the youngest layers) malliable. And our Luck or Fortune, is the dirt we’re throwing down and mixing with others that makes up the wyrd and eventually the orlog.

So, how do you acquire this this?

I think we see it working on a personal scale the way we see it working on a community-level scale. We know that the Norns mark down the fate of each person:

Thence wise maidens three betake them —
Urth one is hight, the other, Verthandi,
Skuld the third: they scores did cut,
They laws did make, they lives did choose:
For the children of men they marked their fates.

And, for reference, let’s look at it in the original (no, I don’t speak Old Icelandic either, but now we know what we’re looking for, right?)

Þaðan koma meyjar margs vitandi
þrjár úr þeim sæ, er und þolli stendur;
Urð hétu eina, aðra Verðandi,
skáru á skíði, Skuld ina þriðju.
Þær lög lögðu, þær líf kuru
alda börnum, örlög seggja.

I have to tell you, even as much as I’m feeling like shit (thanks for nothing, Butcher), it’s stuff like this that gives me the most pleasant heebie jeebies.  Look at those last two lines.  It looks like they literally law-made some laws; they chose some lives; and there, in the last line, we see that they “seggja” them some orlog.

So, in order to make a distinction, we might say that “fate” is what it is.  It’s the stuff we inherited from our families and the circumstances under which we find ourselves –the shit that’s no one’s fault (or in the other direction, nothing anyone’s earned)–the stuff handed to us by the Norns.  You can’t change your fate (kind of).  Your luck, however, you can change, through your actions and the fostering of right relations with everybody and everything else.

This is one of the reasons that, when you’re reading old stuff (or, like Lord of the Rings, stuff written by people who read old stuff), they’re always going on about the lineage of a person or thing.  To be able to say, “That’s Sam, David’s son.  David, as you recall, was the son of John, who was the son of Tom… No, not that John Thompson, the John “the Bear” Thompson, who shot that grizzly back in 1946, when he came home from the war.  You remember that story…” and then they launch into that story and then another story telling you how the grizzly bear skin ended up in a chest over at Maggie Simpson’s house, which you must swear never to repeat around Maggie’s wife is very important because it tells you about the Fortune of the person–in this case “Sam”–and the Fortune of the bearskin, which gives you a kind of background landscape with which to understand why things happen to Sam the way that they do.

Can Sam change his fate?

Yes.

But.

Ha, there’s always a yes, but to these kinds of things, isn’t there?

Sam’s fate could change through outside action.  He might meet the greatest person in the world, fall in love, and find himself transformed by that.  Or, slowly over time, by hanging out with people with better luck than him, as their fates become entwined, he will find his luck improving.  But that kind of change happens very slowly.

Maybe the other kind of change happens slowly, too.  But that’s when you work at it.  You set out to improve your luck, either by your deeds or through right relationships with others.

The important thing is that we are all tied together.  We all share Luck to some extent.  I share the most with my family, then my friends, then my acquaintances, then my community, and on outwards.  And my Luck improves (or doesn’t) the Luck of the people around me.

Ha, well, that ate up my lunch hour.

Sympathy for the Butcher

The Butcher is so sick.  We spent the evening half-fighting about whether he should go to the emergency room.  Instead, he slept and puked and I sat there watching and being upset.

And yes, I know, when I inevitably get it, he will not return the favor.

But what can you do?  Fish gotta swim; birds gotta fly; I’ve gotta fret.

Paranormal State About Does Me In!

They actually debunked things tonight!!!!

On the other hand, this poor woman is desperately in need of therapy and at least the psychic is trying to help.  But damn, I just don’t think ghost hunters are what she needs.

This episode is really sad, because this woman is just not well.

That’s Not Her Arm, That’s Not an Arm that Exists in Nature

I found this over at Perez Hilton’s–a photo of Britney Spears from the new TV Guide.

4548__opt.jpg

You can, if you like, head over there to read all the comments about how good Spears looks.  I, myself, feel like screaming, “That’s not her arm!”  Because, it’s not her arm.

That’s not what Spears’ arm looks like and that’s not an arm that exists in nature.  I know we’ve had the airbrushing discussion before and I remain a person of mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I appreciate that being able to retouch photos when the circumstances under which they were taken were less than ideal is nice.  On the other hand, I really don’t like it.  I get that it’s an art, and I appreciate it as an art.  But when we see it normally, it’s not being presented to us as an art–it’s being presented to us as a representation of reality.

That picture of Spears is supposed to be a representation of what she looks like in real life, now that she’s gotten her act back together (someone could write a great post on how photos of Spears pulling her life together and looking mentally healthy are of her looking thin and how photos of her showing her as being out of control and mentally ill are of her looking less thin, even when those photos are obviously taken either at the same time or just days apart, but I’m on a little different track here).  But that’s not what she looks like in real life.  You can even look at other photos on Hilton’s site to see that.

Still, my mind really wants to accept that as an accurate portrayal of reality.

You can stick “examples of airbrushing” into any search engine and get sites like Greg Apodaca’s.  Look here to see what he was able to do to a woman in a bikini. But, first, before you mouse over to see the “before,” just look at that.  Do you register that as a picture of that woman (meaning a pretty accurate portrayal of what that particular woman looks like) or as an illustration of a woman (meaning a pretty accurate rendition of someone’s idea of what a woman might look like)?

Because, I have to tell you, no matter how much I know that’s just an illustration of a woman, my mind wants to see it as a picture of a woman.  I want to reiterate that I don’t blame Apodaca for that.  He’s just doing what he’s paid to do and he’s damn good at it.

But I worry about what it does to us and our expectations for ourselves when our brains cannot make that distinction.

I was reading over at Kate Harding’s today about how one of her reader’s daughters was handed a pamphlet in class that directed the pamphlet recipient (a young girl about to start menstruating) to a site sponsored by Proctor and Gamble.  One of the pages on that site was this one.

On a page full of tips on how to stop young girls from becoming Fatty McFattersons, here’s some of the “advice.”:

2. Write down everything you eat. Icky, we know, but we also know there’s no better substitute (except looking at yourself in the mirror naked), that’s better than tracking what goes into your mouth to get you into the habit of thinking before you eat.

Yes, America, Proctor and Gamble is advising your young daughters to stand in front of a mirror naked, scrutinizing themselves for signs of fat.

That, my friends, is disgusting enough. (And shame on P&G for the whole post, which might as well just be a guide for how to develop an eating disorder.)

But I want you to think about it in context with that picture of Spears or the “woman” in the doctored photo.

Because how is a girl, standing there naked in front of the mirror on P&G’s advice, supposed to know how she “should” look?

I turn to food when I’m stressed or depressed. But I have a fast metabolism. I do still have a little chubby though lol.

I’m 13 and I weigh 105 pounds.

I am 13 and weigh somewhere in the range of 108-110..
Is that normal? I don’t really know.
I am scared to step on a scale because i think I will get stressed out over what I weigh.

I am 12 years old and weigh 130 lbs everyone says i m not fat but believe me i am someone plezzz help!!!!

alright, I am 15 years old, 5’5″, and I weigh about 118 lbs.

what do you think about this?I always want to lose weight but I have no freaken self control!it’s so hard!

I tell you where they turn, what they compare themselves to–to “women” who don’t exist in real life, to doctored, photoshopped illustrations that vaguely resemble the actual women they’re based on.

Is it enough to point out to girls that obsessing over what you eat is a convenient way to keep you wasting mental energy that could be spent on actually making your life better?  That the women they’re being encouraged to be like don’t exist in real life anyway?  That they’re almost constantly being lied to in order to make them feel like shit so they’ll buy stuff?

And how can we tell girls that stuff and expect them to believe it when we ourselves have such a hard time accepting it as the truth?

The Green Underpants

My goal in wearing the green underpants was to moon anybody who would dare pinch me today, thus showing them my butt covered in green and rendering their pinch even stupider than it is in the first place.

Little did I know that it would be me who ended up looking foolish as the underwear migrated back over my butt and on down my thighs as I walked back from lunch.

I hope to never again see the man who was walking behind me.

Because I Have No Discernable Skills

I don’t understand a lot about economics, I’m going to be honest with you.  But the other day, I was sitting at my computer, listening to my intern on the phone with her mom and she was complaining how there aren’t any entry level job openings in her field listed on the university career page.

Ha, I thought briefly, it’s just like it was when I graduated from college.  Remember that?  How the economy under Clinton was supposedly so great and yet we couldn’t find jobs and folks were losing their farms and we’d hear all about the tech bubble and all these young folks with all this money and wondered where we went wrong?

Anyway, yeah, so I was about to welcome her to the club when she went on about how she wasn’t seeing any job openings on the internet or at this company or that company and it dawned on me that the panic in her voice was a little different than when I graduated. 

And it scared me, too, because, frankly, I have no discernable skills.  If my employer decided to cut costs by cutting me, I don’t know what I’d do instead.

So, I don’t understand why, with this financial crisis, it’s okay to bail out the big banking companies, but not the little guy who’s going to lose his house.  I don’t even understand what bailing out these big financial companies has to do with a free market.  Why is it that we have to let the market do its thing when it’s regular folks who are about to be crushed by it but when the market is about to do its thing all over the banks, the government has to step in?

Some days, I’ve got to tell you, I just feel like the fleshy conduit through which one giant company funnels money from another giant company.  And I worry that I can’t stretch to accomodate those companies wanting more money from each other.

I keep thinking that we should grow a garden, maybe ask Mack if there’s a patch of sunny ground near the creek we can borrow, but then I worry that it might get to the point, with gas prices going how they’re going, when I can’t afford to get up there to tend it.

I just feel ill at ease about things and have no confidence in our leadership to guide us through this.

I wish I’d paid more attention to my grandparents talking about what they did during the Depression.