The Joiners

I now have both Husband Joiner and Wife Joiner in my feed reader and I get such a treat out of it.  First, I learned from Mr. Joiner about their scarecrow and saw a picture and then I read a poem from Ms. Joiner that mentioned the scarecrow at the end.

I don’t know that I’ve ever read two blog posts that struck me like that so hard, just from an aesthetic perspective.  I mean, there are times when you are friends with a married couple where you experience an instant where you realize that they are sharing with you something that gives you a glimpse of how they share with each other when they are alone.  And it has that effect of making you feel much closer to the two of them, but also gives you a hint of how there are depths of things that pass between them that you will never be a part of.

This was one removed from that.  I feel like I’ve been let in on a moment they would normally only share with friends.

I don’t think often enough about how blogging works as an aesthetic form, as an art form, really.

But this makes me think about that.

I don’t know what to make of it, really.  But I like it.

Who Doesn’t Need a ‘Feel-Good Friday’?

I have no idea what the fuck this is and I’m trying to decide whether it’s funnier to be in on the jokes or just to stand outside and watch and go ‘What the fuck is this?”  I don’t know, honestly.  If, like me, you have no idea what’s going on, you’re going to get a kick out of it.  And if you do know who these folks are, well, then, you’re also going to get a kick out of it.

And if you know what’s happening and why it’s happening, please let the rest of us know.

Edited to add: Embedding disabled?!  How dumbass.  Here’s the link.  Someone please explain to me how disabling embedding doesn’t miss the whole point of youtube?

You Say ‘Tomato,’ I Shiver in Fear

If you are one of the people who want or expect to receive tomatos from me, I must confess that I will be at work all day today, so if you want to mount a rescue operation involving you, some ninjas, and possibly Martha Stewart, you should do so.  I was growing them inside no problem, but since they have been moved outside to the porch…  Um… Yes… well…

They aren’t dead.  Most of them.

But that’s about all I can say.

I spent the early part of the evening planting tomatos and peppers in my garden.  All that remains to be done is planting the cantalope and the three plots of three sisters.  And then planting the marigolds.

Here is my only question for you, America.  I just bought one pack of corn because I don’t want or have room for a shit-ton of corn, but folks have been telling me that, in order to get ears, you have to have two types of corn.  Is this true?  Obviously, I need to know rather urgently, before I plant this evening.

Anyway, I love planting things in my garden.  I cannot recommend highly enough the mushroom compost from over at Bates.  Once it’s been in your yard a week, it no longer smells very strongly of coffee grounds, but it is quite a treat to be digging and be overcome by the faint smell of mushroom pizza.

I don’t even like mushrooms, normally, but the smell from my garden is making me feel very fond of them.

The Story of the Big Bad Governor v. the Little Bloggers

I was going to spend a bunch of time trying to find out the TRUTH about things, you know the actual facts.  But I’m not a journalist; I’m a blogger.  So, when I write Lydia Lenker, it’s not like she drops everything to write me back.  And I don’t have secret friends in the government and, as much as I like you guys, I’m not going to go out of my way to befriend muckity-mucks so that we can talk about them with knowledge.

And, I realize, to understand what’s going on with the Tennessee Democrats right now, it’s not actually paramount to know the facts.  What’s important is to know the story.  Because, at this point, it doesn’t matter what the facts are.  What matters is who gets to tell the story their way in the end.

So, I’m going to tell you the story the way I understand it, my way.

And it goes like this.

Once upon a time, the State Democrats were a mess.  You had corruption and people fucking lobbyists and people drunkenly behaving like hooligans and folks taking bribes and other folks pretending to be Republicans and so on and so on.  Everyone knew Democrats they liked, but the party as a whole and the politicians who made it up as a whole seemed to leave a lot to be desired.  They were too liberal for conservatives, too conservative for liberals, and most importantly, they seemed to be in it only for themselves, even to the point of behaving like miscreants.

Would any Democrat put the good of the people of the State of Tennessee ahead of his or her own political ambitions?  Would anyone be willing to stand up and say, “We can’t go on like we are.  Things have to change.”?  It seemed like Rosalind Kurita was that person.

And what happened to her?

She got turned on.  To put it mildly.

Maybe there were good political reasons why that had to be done, but from the outside, from where I was sitting, in the cheap seats, it looked to me and to a bunch of other folks like the Democrats got rid of Kurita because most of them had no intention of getting off the party barge.

So, it became obvious that the Democrats were not going to reform from within.  They wanted things to remain as they were.  So, what were the voters of Tennessee supposed to do?  If the Democrats weren’t going to clean up their own acts, their acts would have to be cleaned up.

And then Obama ran for President.  And again, the signal from the broader nation was that voters want Democrats who are willing to talk frankly about our troubles and who inspire confidence that they will bring a new vision to Washington*.  Our Democrats, though, insisted that Tennessee wasn’t ready for change; they were ready for things to go how they’d always gone.  In fact, Obama didn’t know anything about “real” Americans; he needed to go to Wal-mart (a place our Governor probably only goes for photo ops).  In fact, Obama shouldn’t even show up in Tennessee.  How could he win?  He’s black!!!!!!!!

Yes, when the Democrats lost and were casting around for reasons why they lost, their excuse was “Well, Tennessee is just too racist to vote for anyone on the same ticket as a black man.”

No, it wasn’t that they were behaving like an army of mini-Walmart-photo-opping Caligulas.  It was that we are just so damn racist.  Even the Democrats.

Yes, America, when the chips were down, the Democrats blamed the voters.  One wonders, if this were true, why you’d want to represent a bunch of unrepentant, irredeemable racists.  I mean, I’ve loved me some white folks so deep it sometimes still catches in my throat to say their names; that doesn’t inspire me to run for Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  And to hear the Democrats talk, that’s practically the burden they’re under.

But anyway, late last year some of the Democratic state politicians starting making some overtures to some of the liberal bloggers.  It went middling well.  They were, I think, hoping for free positive PR and we were hoping to be listened to and considered and neither of those things were going to happen, but it was still fun anyway.

And we got to talk to both people running for the TNDP–Forrester and Boner–and I think I speak for most of us when I say that few of us gave a shit who won.  We were just hoping that whoever won would work with the bloggers.

So, when Forrester won, we decided to have a fund-raiser just to show that, hey, we’re here and we’re ready to support the TNDP if you work with us.  Forrester didn’t organize the fundraiser; he didn’t know about it beforehand; he didn’t have anything to do with it.

But it seemed to catch the attention of someone or someones.  And all of a sudden we saw trolls in the blogosphere we’d never seen before.

Jesus Christ, this is getting long.  So, let me make this short and to the point.

The scuttlebutt around the blogosphere is that Harrison and Heatseeker and Dr. Jellyfish are working on behalf of and under the direction of the Governor.  When this rumor first started, it was met by general incredulity.  Why would the Governor of the State devote resources and people to playing on the internet?  It seemed ridiculous.  Yet, months went by and the three of them seemed to often reveal information that only a government insider would know.  And again there were various email conversations to the general effect of “Why would the Governor’s people be wasting time harassing bloggers”?

It seems weird.

I thought that maybe they misunderstood Forrester’s influence in the blogosphere, thought that by arguing with us they were effectively undermining Chip’s base.  Tie Forrester to the bloggers and ruin him by showing what idiots and fools we are.

But who the hell out here in Tennessee and not within the Party even knows who the Chair is, let alone cares?  And who doesn’t already know that the blogosphere is filled with idiots and fools?

Here’s what I think is really going on.  The point was always to bring us into line and demoralize us.  Tie us to Forrester and make it seem like we don’t have to be taken seriously or listened to because we’re just Chip’s flunkies, doing his bidding.  Drag us down with him.  Kill two birds with one stone.

Except their stone didn’t even kill the one bird.

Is it true?  I don’t know.  I hear rumors and rumors of rumors.

I know this, though.  Threads like this and this make a lot more sense if you read it like Harrison, Heatseaker, and Dr. Jellyfinger are working on behalf of the Governor and his pals.  See, he gets to make his deal with Forrester, effectively splitting the Party into two, with Forrester as the figurehead of one and with him and his guys in the secret, shadow party, full of Democrats that know better than the rest of us rubes and racists.

But it only works if everyone plays along.

And when I read threads like those, I get the feeling that playing along is about the exact opposite of what I want to do.

Listen.

I’m sorry I asked you to contribute to the Tennessee Democratic Party.  Words cannot express how embarrassed I am and how big a jackass I feel like.  Because we have nothing to show for it.  You and I gave money to the TNDP in an effort to show them that new folks were willing and excited about being a part of the Party and they took it as a threat.  They broke the party in two so that they wouldn’t have to take you and me and your concerns and my concerns seriously.

And I am terribly sorry about that.

I asked you to give money in good faith.  I didn’t know there was nothing to have that faith in.

And frankly, I feel like a fool standing here before you again, hat in hand, having to tell you that all your money did was prove to the bigwigs that they needed to find better ways to insulate themselves from you.

I, for one, will never again give money to the TNDP or the TNSDP (Tennessee Shadow Democratic Party?  I don’t know.  Whatever they call themselves).  And I hope you find something better to do with your money, too.

————————–

*And yes, we can argue all day about whether that was the case in actuality, but let me paint with some broad strokes.

Hmm. What Will I Do With My Army of Gay Men?

Terry Frank has a doozy of a post that raises all kinds of questions. The most important one being “Terry Frank watches America’s Next Top Model”?!

I have to admit, I’ve been trying to imagine this all morning.  Does she watch it on its regular channel or is she forced to watch it on hung-over Saturdays when they have marathons of it on seemingly every cable channel?  Does she catch her kids watching it and start to say “I don’t want this trash on in my hou…” only to find by the time she’s got the “ssss” out, she’s sitting on the couch transfixed by its amazing awfulness?  Does she turn to her kids, like everyone else in America, and ask “What is wrong with these people?” and then they all share a good laugh as a family?

I mean, shoot, if there’s one thing that folks all across this state, regardless of political persuasion, should be able to agree on it’s that there’s something fucked up about America’s Next Top Model.

But, apparently, America’s Next Top Model is all the fault of the feminists.  Because nothing says “feminism” like a bunch of girls trying to win a contest based solely on their looks.  Oh, wait!  Actually, that doesn’t say feminism at all.  That says “same old same old.”  So, Terry Frank, don’t be trying to blame feminists for ANTM.  That’s solely on you folks who reject the idea of equality.  You guys are the ones who place so much value on a woman’s looks.  Remember?  We’re the hairy, fat, make-up-less man-haters.  Why would we care about ANTM for any reason other than amusement?

Anyway, in the middle of her rant, she blames feminism for gay men judging beauty contests.  I’m not sure how this happens.  I’m assuming that we order gay men to go into beauty pagents and ruin them for everyone else?  I’m not sure.  The point is that, apparently, some feminists have armies of gay men waiting to do their bidding and I don’t.

How do I get issued an army of gay men who go around ruining things for conservatives on my whim?

Come on, people!  There’s a whole downtown full of state legislators I need to unleash some hilarious nonsense onto and I cannot do this without my army of gay men.  Someone’s got to walk behind Senator Bunch and make farting noises and then roll his eyes and point at Bunch like he’s got some horrible gas problem.

Or what about Lowe Finney?  There’s still hope for him and we can encourage him with some positive reinforcement.  Every time he does something Democratic, my troops will cheer.  Every time he strays onto the Republican path, he will be met with stern looks and disapproving coughs.

It’d be so great.  And I’m being deprived.

How can I possibly have the power to ruin everything for the good people of Tennessee if I can’t even get my army?

Clearly, there’s something wrong here.

White Irises

My co-worker has brought in some irises to have at her desk.  The white iris is so beautiful and smells so good that I have begged her to bring me one from her yard and…

She agreed!

Torture is American. That’s the Problem.

Andrew Sullivan’s got another good post up about torture in which he says:

This is how torture is always a fantastic temptation for those in power, even if they first use it out of what they think is necessity or good intentions: it provides a way for them to coerce reality into the shape they desire. This is also why it is so uniquely dangerous. Because it creates a closed circle of untruth, which is then used to justify more torture, which generates more “truth.” [emphasis mine]

He says more than this, but the more he says, I think, is wrong.  Because the argument he’s trying to make is that torture is somehow deeply un-American, that it flies in the face of what we stand for as a country.  I wish with all my heart this were true, but folks, please.  It’s not.

And that’s the problem.

That’s our tragic flaw as a nation.

We have always used violence as a way to coerce reality into the shape we desire.  We’ll march you across the land, trying to force you to accept our ways.  We’ll strip your kids from you and force them to learn only a language you don’t know, and give them a religion that is not yours.  We’ll turn our backs on you as you are raped, repeatedly, and then we’ll take your kids from you.  We’ll beat you until you accept the names we call you.  We’ll hang your brothers and husbands and sons from trees so that you will accept separate but “equal”.  And then we’ll argue that all this is the natural order, just how things are.  God-ordained.  Everyone is fine with it.  Only troublemakers object.  This is just how we do it, to keep order.  How it has to be done.

There could not be anything more American than using violence to coerce reality into the shape we desire.

It’s not just a matter of not knowing enough history to realize that the techniques you’re using were used on our military, not because they’re somehow “okay” but because we wanted to train folks in how to withstand them, it’s the arrogance of not knowing enough history to see that this is the kind of stuff we do all the time, and it never works how we want it to.

There never, ever comes a point where you can beat a person enough to make it okay.

Here’s the thing.  We have been given a few words, at the founding of this country, that it is self-evident that all men are created equal and that we have some inalienable rights–life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness.  And our struggle as a nation, one we regularly fail at, has been to decide whether that was the truth of who we were or just some propaganda.

I want to be on the side of that being the truth and not just some bullshit we tell ourselves.  But it’s only the truth when we demand it, when we choose it, and when we acknowledge the tragedies that come from acting like those are just some words on paper.  And we have to make it true every day.

If America is The Great Experiment, it’s time to stop running the portion of the experiment where we declare some people outside the scope of the law, not even really people, deserving of everything that they’ve gotten, necessary casualties for our security.  We know that always fails.  Every time we run it, it spreads tragedy and misery and the consequences are far-reaching and always beyond what we’ve anticipated.

It doesn’t take a psychic to see that this is going to be the case again.

Dream Big

Yes, I am sweet on Pith lately and I can’t help it.  I even promised to be nicer to Tracy Moore and Brantley Hargrove.  I have lost all street cred.  I’m embarrassed to even show my face around here.  I am a failure as a blogger.  Maybe even a sell-out.

But here’s the thing.

Pete Kotz is the fucking Ghost of Midwesterners Past and I am a sucker for old Midwestern men.  And ghosts.

It goes against my genetic make-up and is an insult to my people if I don’t like him.

All I can do is be honest with you.  I am a little biased towards Pith lately.  You’re not imagining it.

But still, I think this is an awesome question and I’m curious as to how some of you would answer it.

Oh, Music City Center People, Stop Trying to Help!

Oh, god.  Seriously, who wrote this piece of shit?

“We’re going to have wood in the ball room because guitars are made out of wood.”

“We’re going to have a giant instrument play on the hour!  But we can’t tell you what kind, because we’re just making shit up!”

“Seriously, all the hip kids call that road that comes off the Gateway Bridge ‘KVB.’  No, really.”

“We’re not going to show you an example of the kind of art Nashville puts up in its round-abouts because we’re controversial enough as it is.  We don’t need the Baptists out at Two Rivers on our cases because we showed shots of naked dancing people.”

My absolute favorite part is the wavy roof.  I mean, sure, you see a lot of wavy roofs in Nashville, but that’s because we’ve got 10% unemployment and people can’t afford to get them fixed.  But it appears that the people who designed the Music City Center thought that was just trendy.  Oops.  But you could sell people on that roof if you opened it to sledding on the rare occassions we get snow.  Or maybe put a series of Slip & Slides on it?

Here’s the thing.  It’s ugly.  No amount of sentences that are some variation of “[Something that has to do with Nashville] inspired [something to do with the MCC] and that’s just how the citizens of Nashville want it” is going to fix that.  Sure, maybe there are people who look at this video and say, “Well, at least it’s not the typical rusty-rose brick and sand and glass look every other new building around here has.”  Okay, maybe even I am one of those people.

But it’s still ugly.

And serves to confirm that we are indeed the Home for Wayward Architecture.

Shoot, maybe it’s time to stop fighting that designation and just embrace it.

Think of how much fun it would be if every architect had to find some way to make their building as uniquely strange and ugly as possible before it was allowed to be built here…  I bet people would watch a lot more of the zoning commission meetings.

“You want to put up a strip mall?  But where are the monkey bars?  And I see no place in your plans for an open air toilet!  Or a kissing booth.  No, go back to the drawing board.”

It’d be good fun.

Are Your Kids Going to School or Jail?

Rachel brought this up the other day, but I think Radley Balko sums it up exactly right:

It’s a little troubling to see how comfortable these old men (Ginsburg isn’t quoted in the article) seem to be with allowing school administrators access to the genitalia of school children based on nothing more than a hunch that they might be “crotching” some ibuprofen.

I just wonder when we ever sit back and ask ourselves why, after 20 years of DARE and all these draconian measures, kids are still doing drugs?  Is there ever a point when we admit something is a failure, stop doing it, and move on or does failure just indicate we need harsher measures?

Torture

Yesterday I had to remove someone from my feed-reader who was all “I’m sick of all these panty-waist liberals crying over the torture of terrorists.  We should have done more to them and worse!  We need to protect America.”

I haven’t said anything about all the torture revelations because what can you say?  There’s something many moms try to convince their heterosexual daughters of–“If he does it for you, he’ll do it to you.”  If he steals from his sister to buy you things, someday he’s going to steal from you.  If he lies to other folks about you, someday he’ll lie to you.  If he cheats on his girlfriend with you, someday he’ll cheat on you.  If he leaves his wife for you, someday he’ll leave you.

It’s not always true, but more often than not.  People are usually pretty up-front about who they are, if you will listen.

And yes, I am against torture for all kinds of reasons.  I know it doesn’t work.  I know it breaks the people it’s done to.  I know it breaks the people who do it.  I know that it makes the world a more dangerous place for our soldiers.  And I know any time you’re adopting the methods and strategies of your enemies, you have lost your moral compass as a nation.  Not to mention that it was breaking the law.

But the main reason I would expect any American, liberal or conservative, to be appalled and pissed off about torture, to be screaming in the streets for people to be arrested and tried and thrown in prison, for even fucking Nancy Pelosi to have to answer for how she could hear about this when it was going on and not have the guts to risk her political career to end it, is that these are just men and women who did this, who ordered it and who carried it out.  Men and women in our goverment.

And, like our moms tried to warn us–if they’ll do it for you, they’ll do it to you.

World’s Slowest Gardener

The Butcher and I were going to put the garden in tonight, but he got called away and I was having a crappy day and I didn’t feel like spending my evening feeling pressured to finish it.

So, I had some dinner and I went out and put the watermelons in and the spinach in and felt the cold ground beneath my feet and remembered to mark the watermelon hills with a stick so I’ll know where to weed.

And that’s good enough for today.

People, the sad truth of my life is that I’m just not good at the things I do.  Except this.  And I don’t really want to be good at anything.  Though I enjoy being good at this.

Hmm.

Anyway, with the exception of getting my garden tilled, which you do have to be somewhat competent to be able to do, one of the things I like about gardening is that, in this day and age, it is truly okay to suck at it.  You give it a try and if some stuff works, great.  If it doesn’t, oh well, you’ll try something else next year.

It’s not like I need it to eat.  I’d just like it.

But I also like the feel of the dirt on my feet.  It feels soft and cold and alive.

And I don’t have to do anything to have dirt.

I don’t know.  I guess this post sounds more melencholy than I intend it to.  I don’t feel melencholy.  I just feel like the yard is this one place in the world where I don’t have to know what I’m doing or how to get it done and it kind of doesn’t matter.

A Couple of Things Not to Miss

Sweet Machine has a post up about how one of the methods of torturing prisoners was to reduce their caloric intake to 1,000 calories a day.  And how it was justified by arguing that, since people voluntarily go on diets that restrict their calories that much, it couldn’t possibly be torture.

That’s interesting, but DO NOT miss the link she has to Junkfood Science.  There you’ll find Sandy Szwarc’s post on the Minnesota Starvartion experiment in which people whose caloric intake was restricted to 1,500 a day and it fucked them up.

Many, many people have made this point, but I will make it again.  Encouraging women to obsess over our weight and to restrict our caloric intake is one of the easiest and surest ways to keep us from being as effective as we might otherwise could be.  No one has to actively hold us back if we accept it as our duty to do it to ourselves.

Wrestling Hall of Fame

This is such a brilliant idea that I can’t believe that it didn’t just spring into existance the second Brad Watkins thought it up (which reminds me, Memphis.  One of y’all who knows Mr. Watkins needs to ask him if he’s related into the Brad Watkinses who were preachers in Illinois.).

The main obstacle is, of course, Vince McMahon.  You’d have to have his cooperation and participation (especially because, if you didn’t, other wrestlers might not participate) and he seems like a pain in the butt.

On the other hand, Lawler does work for him, so…

I don’t know.  I think it sounds like a great idea.

Oh, Harold Ford Jr., Do Not Make Me Have to Roll My Eyes at You

Don’t get me wrong.  Somebody some day is going to write a book about the Fords and it is going to be so awesome that, in 300 years, people will be debating how much of it is true and how much of it surely must be made up.  It’ll be like the Macbeth of our times.

One chapter will start something like:

“The rumor around town was that, not only did John Ford have a wife he shared a house with outside his district, but that he had two or three girlfriends he shared houses with and none of them lived in his district either.  In fact, it was said that the only time Ford slept in his district was when he shut his eyes for a quick nap at the N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home…”

And there will be corruption and petty jealousies and handsome men who know how to charm and women who hold families together in the face of amazing ridiculousness.  And gunfire and bribery.  And MSNBC.  It’ll be the story of an amazing political dynasty, somehow uniquely American, but specifically Memphis.  And, if properly done, it will be like One Hundred Years of Solitude and All the King’s Men had a baby.

But please.  Harold Ford’s autobiography, More Davids than Goliaths, is not going to cut it.  First of all, he’s a young man.  He’s not going to speak the whole truth about his family until they are dead in the grave and he’s got one foot in it.  And second, Harold Ford is the most boring Ford there is!  He doesn’t even have a snazzy hat.

“Once upon a time, I was born. I behaved myself, went to school, listened to my Dad, and proved myself to be a competent and bright political mind.  Bob Corker ran an asshat campaign that screamed ‘ARRRGGGGG!!!!!  White women want to fuck him!!!!!’ and I lost my last election. But don’t fret dear reader, I’ve gotten to see first-hand how tall Keith Olbermann is and I might run for something else some other day.  The end.”

There.  I saved you $30.

Once You Start Making Things Up, It’s Not the Truth Any More

So, Tiny Pasture’s got footage of this UCLA student getting told that she should lie about the age of her boyfriend when asked if she wants an abortion.  And he’s got news that this “damning” piece of evidence is being used by the Right to (Some) Life crowd to push State Legislators to pass SB 470, which would defund Planned Parenthood.

But the whole thing is really strange.

For starters, you never see the front of the Planned Parenthood building.  So, who knows if that footage was actually shot even near the Memphis Planned?  I see a sky and some trees.  I don’t even hear the traffic on Union.  And I don’t see the face of the intake worker, so how can I know if she’s an actual Planned Parenthood employee?

But let’s get on to the second problem.  We don’t get to see Lila Rose’s face.  But you can get a glimpse of her here on Bill O’Reilly’s show.  And she doesn’t look thirteen.  Or fourteen.  Or fifteen.  Or whatever other ages she’s pretending to be when she goes on her little stings (if, indeed, she goes on them all).  And she certainly doesn’t sound like a young teenager on her own tape.  She sounds like a grown woman pretending to be a young teenager.

So, even if I might be sympathetic to the idea that she’s discovering some wrong behavior on the part of some Planned Parenthood workers, when I try to put myself in the position of the supposed Memphis worker, I wonder what my response would have been.  Not because I think it’s right to break the law.  If someone in the Memphis Planned Parenthood is faced with an actual 14 year old actually claiming to be impregnated by a 31 year old, she sure as hell needs to report that.

But even from Lila Rose’s own tape, which she has edited to be as damning as possible to Planned Parenthood and to put herself in the best possible light, I hear hesitancy in that worker’s voice, like she’s not sure who she’s being faced with and she’s just trying to get through her part of the job so she can pass Lila Rose along to someone else.

And if you consider what she’s facing, it’s hard to blame her.  Workers at Planned Parenthood see women of all ages all the time; not just for abortions, but for all kinds of healthcare.  So, here’s this worker standing in a room with a 20 year old woman who’s claiming to be 14, who’s speaking in a weird baby voice.  And who wants to have an abortion.  That’s what that worker (if indeed it’s a worker and not someone else also lying) sees–a girl who is already obviously not telling her the truth, but who seems pretty sincere about what is obviously not the truth.

Okay, so then there are two types of people in the world who seem like they believe the lies they tell you–con artists and people who have an untreated mental illness.  Though Lila Rose happens to be a con artist, why would the Planned Parenthood worker have any reason to think that she was anything other than a woman in need of mental healthcare?  And yet, as we know, people with mental illnesses have a hard time getting that care.  So, it’s not surprising to me to hear her kind of feeding the delusion, even as her voice seems to give away that she thinks there’s something peculiar here.  She’s saying what she needs to say to pass Lila Rose off on someone else.

The whole set-up is so obviously bizarre that I’m not sure we can draw any conclusions from it (though mark my words, it won’t surprise me if this video makes the rounds and convinces the State Legislature to pull funding to Planned Parenthood).

Lila Rose says “I said I was 14 and they said these things to me.”  But she’s not 14, so she’s established herself as a liar.  Everything else that happens in that video?  How can we trust the truth of it?  I don’t know that it was shot in Memphis.  There, suspiciously, aren’t any good establishing outside shots.  I don’t know that she actually talked to a worker at the Memphis Planned Parenthood, because, suspiciously, there aren’t any shots of her face.  And I only have Lila Rose’s word that the alleged Planned Parenthood worker believed that Lila Rose was 14 and pregnant and not the scenario which is just as plausible–that the worker thought she was an extremely fucked up 20 year old who was lying about her age and hoped to pass the problem off to someone else.

What is This Thing?

I took Shug up the ridge to the store and I was showing her what I thought was a weird wisteria growing up in the woods, but we looked closely at it and it appears to be some kind of short tree or tall bush.  And then today, on my way into work, I saw one growing up over the side of the retaining wall where Clarksville Pike crosses 65 there by Fisk.  And it is a small tree with silvery lilac clusters of flowers, but the clusters seem to point up instead of hanging down.

It’s gorgeous, but hell if I know what it is.  Any ideas?

The Best No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

I thought that last night was the best episode so far of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  Wow.  I cried.  Not that I write fiction, but I thought that the way the writer(s) let each character so thoroughly be herself, even if it meant there was some awkwardness between characters and you saw some unpleasant aspects of their characters, was so well-done that I was jealous by the end.  And I thought that CCH Pounder’s character was really amazingly rendered, both by the writer and the actor.  I’m torn between hoping they do many more episodes and liking the idea of it being just a small, perfect thing.

If I Have to Read It, You Have to Hear About It

So, where were we?  About to talk about Jim Cooper’s take on electric co-ops (pdf here).

Before we get started in the meat of the thing, let’s take a minute to contemplate footnote 236.  The paragraph in which we find the sentence to which it is attached reads:

An indirect benefit to members—as well as the public—is reducing the environmental harm that power generation inevitably produces.[235] Burning coal produces pollutants such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulates, which harm the region surrounding the power plant and beyond. Another form of pollution, carbon dioxide, affects the global environment. Of course, most other energy sources pollute as well,[236] whether CO2 from natural gas or long-term radioactive waste storage for nuclear plants.

And 236 reads:

236 New hydro power requires dam construction, interrupting free-flowing streams and often depleting oxygen levels in lake water. Wind power generates noise pollution and harms bird migration. Solar power may involve toxic substances in its manufacture. As of the mid-1990s, co-ops owned “over 3,000 megawatts of operating nuclear capacity in 15 plants.” Id. at 173.

And here’s the look on my face:

boncooper

Noise pollution.

We can blow the tops off of mountains and dump fly ash all over people’s front yards and lie to them about its dangers and try to get immunity from prosecution (god damn straight, I’m looking at you, TVA) and kill off the men in our communities for real after we ruin their souls and their backs with years spent below ground for companies that have been historically notoriously bad to the people who work for them and in the face of that, anyone would dare suggest that a drawback to wind-power is noise pollution?!

Puh-fucking-lease.

Anyway, let’s not get hung up on that, no matter how cute I look when I roll my eyes.  The thing I’ve been thinking about all week in terms of Cooper’s article is how interesting it is that there are these entities–the electrical co-ops, which are owned by the people who get their electricity from them, and yet, as Cooper points out, most people who buy their electricity from the co-op have no understanding that they are, in fact, buying a stake in the co-op with every kilowatt.  They don’t know that they should, then, be deriving some benefit from belonging to the co-op–for sure as inexpensive as possible electricity, but also money.  And yet, because most folks don’t know this, the co-ops have managed to morph through the years into entities that do not serve the interests of their members.

Here’s how an electrical co-op works, simply.  Say there are five people (for the sake of ease) who lived out in the middle of nowhere 100 years ago–we’ll call them John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Stuart.  They form an electrical co-op to bring electricity to their farms and to provide electricity to their farms as cheaply as possible.  Okay, now say that the price of energy in January of that year was $5 per farm.  The co-op can’t know if the price of energy in February is still going to be $5.  What if it’s $6?  Or $10?  So, when it comes time to pay the January bill, the co-op members don’t charge themselves only $5.  Maybe they charge themselves $8, to give themselves a little room for unexpected increases or to pay in case a tree falls on a powerline; they set aside a little reserve.  But let’s say that, though the five guys pay in $8 every month, the co-op only really needs $6 from each of them every month.

So, at the end of the year, the co-op has $24 extra dollars from each of the 5 co-op members or an extra $120.  Now maybe they just divvy the extra money up five ways.  In that case, there’s no real problem.

But, say that halfway through the year, Stuart died and Paul bought up his farm.  And then Billy joined the co-op.  Now you still have five co-op members, but one of the members has only paid for 6 months of service, and one of the members has paid for his original 12 months of electricity on his farm and 6 months of electricity on his new farm.  Paul still may only get one vote and Billy may, too, get one vote, but, if they divvy up the money at the end of the year, Paul will get $36 and Billy will get $12 and Stuart’s estate should get $12 and then Stuart’s membership in the co-op should end.

But I think that, if you look at what Cooper’s saying here, he’s saying that there are circumstances in which Stuart would still, even if he moved away or died, be considered someone with whom the co-op money should be split, because he’s a member, even if he’s no longer in a position to purchase electricity from the co-op.  And it looks to me like what he’s also saying is that, in cases where that is the case, where the co-ops have set up this screwy rule whereby you can still be a member long after you no longer purchase electricity from them, co-ops will be much more likely to pay off, say, Billy, should he decide to move away after 6 months, than they are to pay off Stuart’s family, should they discover after 50 years that Stuart is still considered a founding member of the co-op.

But the reason this isn’t a bigger problem than it is is that very few people who buy electricity through co-ops realize that they are buying electricity not from a regular utility, but from a utility they become part owners of as they pay their bills.  They don’t realize that they have assets tied up in the electrical co-ops and the co-ops are in no hurry to educate them about it.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about.  Why is that?

It’s right there in the name–“co-op.”

And I wonder if there isn’t something seemingly vaguely pseudo-socialist about the idea of co-operatives.  We all pay in, we all vote, we all benefit.

Don’t get me wrong; such a set-up should be the opposite of socialist.  What’s more American than “everyone who pitches in benefits”?

But I feel like we’ve been so wrapped up in this myth of individualism, of doing it for yourself by yourself that it occurs to very few people to ever question whether they’re being cheated out of money they’re owed for no other reason than that they’ve chipped in.

The Modestly Spooky Dining Room

Though my vacation did not end up being very relaxing or reinvigorating, interesting things did happen.  One of them was that the dining room finally has stuff on the walls.  And it is perfect.  Just perfect.  I love it.  Wanna see?

diningroom1

To the left is a painting that my great-grandma Teck painted.  She read palms.  That hutch is my Grandma A.’s.  Her mother read tea leaves.  The china in it is the china Teckla left me.  The poster on the right is this great piece I first tried to win over at Mrs. B’s and then finally broke down and bought.  Then, on the far right is the single tarot card.

diningroom2

And then there is the amazing mirror my parents brought down ages ago, which is finally hung.  More on that in a minute.

diningroom3

Here’s the poster up close.  The artist, Emily Balivet, has an Etsy shop and all her stuff is really incredible.  This is just the one that I couldn’t do without.

diningroom4

I became a pagan because, once I started getting good at reading tarot cards, I got The Hanged Man in almost every reading I did.  I started reading about various interpretations of what the Hanged Man means and somewhere along the way I came across “I know I hung on the windswept tree nine whole nights” and it was just that lightning moment, where you know you’re hearing words that are going to mean something to you for a long time.  I’m tickled to have him hanging around in honor of that.

diningroom5

Here’s a close-up of the mirror.  As you may recall, I really find mirrors in general to be creepy and I don’t normally like having them in my house.  But a mirror that is already creepy?  Somehow a creepy mirror negates the general creepiness of mirrors and a creepy mirror is always welcome in my house.  This mirror goes on top of a dresser.  Which dresser it goes on top of is unknown, but one that is probably still rattling around the family someplace.

What’s going on here is that this mirror is from back in the day, when they painted silver on the back of glass.  And the mirror is so old and has been knocking around in so many different basements that the silver is starting to tarnish and now you can see the brushmarks left by the person (man, I’m assuming) who hand-made this mirror.

I just love that.

What Did Frank Suffer From?

My Grandma D.’s Dad is Herb Siddall.  His dad is Frank Siddall.  Frank Siddall served briefly in the Civil War.  And then later had to go to a Soldiers’ Home.

The question is–why? (And, also, what religion was he?  “Foot”?)

I can’t read the handwriting, but maybe you can.

frank

Top Ten Film Characters

Joe Powell has challenged me to name my top ten movie characters of all times.  This is a slightly more difficult task than it might seem because I rarely watch movies and, when I do, you can bet I’ve picked out the shittiest movies I can find.

But…

1. Han Solo & 2. Indiana Jones.  I don’t know if there are many women my age who weren’t somewhat fundimentally psycho-sexually shaped by these two characters.  Either you came to want a man with brains and a smart-ass swagger or you wanted to figure out how to be the smart-ass with the brains and the swagger who gets the girl.

3.  Crash Davis.  Kevin Coster is a shitastic actor, but Crash is sublime.

4.  Louise.  I cannot watch Thelma and Louise without bawling.  I usually start when the movie starts.  It’s hard not to love Thelma, with her shitty life, but her enthusiasm for trying something new.  But Louise is my favorite because she knows she’s doomed from the get-go.

5.  Mozelle Batiste Delacroix.  Everything about Eve’s Bayou is a treat, but Mozelle does some work in that movie that just about blew my mind, changed my whole idea about what I could be doing and how.

6.  David from The Lost Boys.  It makes no sense why Michael doesn’t want to join them.  It never has and it never will.  If you can be half as bad-ass and as charasmatic as David, why wouldn’t you?

7.  Nagiko from The Pillow Book.  I don’t know how you talk about Greenaway’s characters or movies, so I won’t really try.  I’ll just say that, though The Pillow Book is nothing like a Quentin Tarantino movie, watching it makes you think that Tarantino only wishes he could write movies about women like this.

8.  Jill from The Whole Nine Yards.  Who doesn’t love a joyful psychopath?

9.  Mark Hunter.  I’m convinced that Mark Hunter is why so many folks my age took to blogging.  That’s right, America, I’m sitting in my room, coming into your homes, and trying to spark a revolution.  Or encouraging you to have masturbatory fantasies about Christian Slater.  Either one.

10.  Lady Cluck from Robin Hood.  Why didn’t she get together with Little John?  Someone answer me that.