I Think This is How It Will Work

About the guest-blogging at Feministe, I’m going to assume that, if you’re not already reading, even my presence is not going to tempt you over there.  So, I’ll just cross-post everything I post over there here.

If you want to go over, great. If not, fine.

That makes sense, right?  I think so.

Eno Road

Writing about the Kingston Ash Spill reminded me of the whole Eno Road situation, which is another instance of environmental racism and the stupidity that results (I wrote about it last year, better than I am doing now). Here you have an instance of blatant racism, where white people were told of the dangers of the dump long before black people were. But you also have the kind of racism that bites white people in the ass, where now that a public face has been put on the problem and that public face is black, white people run around acting immune from the problem.

So while the poor Holt family is still trying to get some justice (justice which would benefit everyone in town, let me add), white people are building lovely homes right on the back side of the dump, a dump that has never been properly dealt with, which may still be leaking toxic chemicals.

I mean, what do you even say in the face of that?

(Cross posted to Feministe)

Fallout from the Kingston Ash Spill

Last December 22, a retaining wall at the Kingston Fossil Plant (run by the TVA) gave way and dumped over a billion gallons of coal ash slurry across a great swath of Roane County, Tennessee. It was one of the worst, if not the worst, man-made environmental disasters in our country’s history.  People’s homes were swept away. Nearby rivers and streams were poisoned.  I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, or what you’ve heard about it.

The experience, even over here in Nashville, was that it was just a little something that happened, not that bad. It’s only been in the ensuing months, as the TVA’s obfuscations have become clearer that the scope of the disaster is coming into focus.

All along the way, it seems, we have made deals with the Devil.

Oh, the TVA. Yes, it brought electricity to the South and with it, air conditioning, and with that, modern civilization (I over-simplify some, but only a little).  In exchange, though, there are towns sitting at the bottom of vast lakes, ‘lost’ cemeteries filled with loved ones. And we haven’t even touched on coal itself, a devil’s bargain if ever there was one. Yes, it brings money into regions that otherwise would be dirt poor, but at the cost of people’s health and their lives. They sometimes blow the tops off of mountains to get to it. And, in order to burn it for electricity, the TVA has to have somewhere to put the fly ash that’s a byproduct of the process.

And then the TVA gets a couple of decades of lax oversight and the ability to be a private enterprise when they need to be and a government enterprise when it suits them and before long you have 5.4 million cubic yards of muck spilling out of a pond the TVA claimed only held 2.6 million cubic yards.

And now, the TVA is shipping the coal ash they’re cleaning up from the site to Perry County, Alabama. The New York Times article is interesting and heart-breaking.

To county leaders, the train’s loads, which will total three million cubic yards of coal ash from a massive spill at a power plant in east Tennessee last December, are a tremendous financial windfall. A per-ton “host fee” that the landfill operators pay the county will add more than $3 million to the county’s budget of about $4.5 million.

The ash has created more than 30 jobs for local residents in a county where the unemployment rate is 17 percent and a third of all households are below the poverty line. A sign on the door of the landfill’s scale house says job applications are no longer being accepted — 1,000 were more than enough.

But some residents worry that their leaders are taking a short-term view, and that their community has been too easily persuaded to take on a wealthier, whiter community’s problem. “Money ain’t worth everything,” said Mary Gibson Holley, 74, a black retired teacher in Uniontown. “In the long run, they ain’t looking about what this could do to the community if something goes wrong.”

It’s true that Roane County, Tennessee, is whiter than Perry Country, Alabama, but I was a bit taken aback by the claim that Roane County was richer.

And then I remembered that Oak Ridge is in Roane County, which does indeed mean that the residents of Roane County are, on average, richer than the residents of Perry County. But I don’t think I have to spell out for you what the citizens of Roane County had to accept in order to get that higher income. Another devil’s deal.

So, when it comes to putting this fly ash someplace, the charges of racism have been flying–environmentalists are claiming environmental racism because the fly ash is going to a predominately black community; some folks in the community are claiming that it would be racist to deny them the fly ash, like “Here come the white folks to protect the black folks from themselves.”

And, frankly, from where I sit, both claims seem to be oversimplified but also probably true. Isn’t that the pernicious thing about how we do racism in America?  There can be racism on both sides and probably is.

Still, I like how Southern Beale puts it: there is something really fucked up about asking anyone to choose between poverty and poison.

(Cross-posted at Feministe)

I Love This Dog

So, I pull in my driveway and the Butcher and Mrs. Wigglebottom are running around in the front yard, playing a raucous game of “chase me, chase you” and I roll down my window to shout words of encouragement, “Get that boy! Get that boy!” and the dog looks up and snaps her head around and when she sees it’s me, she just looks like my arrival is the best thing that’s happened to her all day.  She ran along side the car clear to the back of the house.

“I think she was running like five miles an hour!” I said to the Butcher.

“Um, that’s not very fast.”

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Did y’all know that Beth Slater Whitson, who wrote “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland” lived in Nashville?

If you have been down Granada towards Ellington Parkway, you’ve probably seen the house her husband gave her as a wedding present there on the left.  I know it was up for sale last year, because I saw the listing, but they didn’t mention its history. Maybe they didn’t know.  That would be sad.

They had a story about it in the Tennessean fifteen years ago or so, which I was able to find in Google’s cache. And it got me thinking of the importance of retelling our stories. If you don’t continually tell the stories that “everyone” knows, soon no one knows them.  Whitson gets forgotten. Her house sits at the end of a dead end (it’s technically on whatever street is behind Granada), a strange 1900s relic on a street full of houses built thirty, forty, fifty years later, its significance long forgotten.

The Tennessean article said that she had great periods of manic creativity and crushing bouts of depression.  Her husband was wealthy enough to be able to keep her at home and not in an insane asylum.

She died in the house.

Is this the second to the last episode of True Blood?

I give up.  I give up trying to even be remotely objective about this show. Bring on the world’s stupidest people! Doing the world’s stupidest stuff! All I ask is for more naked Eric.

Bring it on.

It would be more fun to have your period if that blood made cool plinking sounds when it hit the ground.

Oh, poor Jessica.

Oh, Bill.  He gets bossed around.

Fur handcuffs. I love LaFayette.

If Sam can become any animal, does that include people?  Could he look like Andy?

Good lord, Tara’s mom is a moron. Just a moron.

But Erik looks fantastic in a dress. Wow.

I do think it’s interesting that everyone is being a little corrupted by what’s happened to them this season, whether or not Maryanne’s involved.

It’s wrong, but I enjoyed watching Tara’s mom get beaned with the ashtray.

I’m glad they have a good actor playing LaFayette, too, because he’s the only person who seems rightly scared.

And I’m kind of glad to see MaryAnne melting down a little bit.

I love Andy a little bit more every week.

I love Pam rolling her eyes.

And chest-hair!

“He went on a vacation with Jesus.”


Tea-cup humans.


I want Eric to say “Good night tiny humans” and wink at me!!!!

Whew, I have lost my mind. Don’t mind me.

Blergh. That finger has freaked me out.

Is that guy rubbing intestines on himself in the sink?

I swear, part of being a vampire must be being boring as hell, and boring those around you half to death.

Is that really the end of Carl?

I have to tell you, I think it’s kind of cowardly of Bill to not tell Hadley about her Gran. No, not kind of, very. Very cowardly.

Oh, I love that Eric totally called Bill on the whole “Sookie blood drinking” crap.

But who else can fly? Can Bill?

I kind of love how grouchy Andy is.

Yes, this town is full of crazy rednecks and dumbasses. I think that should be the subtitle of this show.

Damn it! I can’t wait until next week!

Usually, It’s Not So Obvious

So, they’ve got this show on Discovery in which they have a set of hip scientists whose job it is is to build working prototypes of something in two weeks, called, appropriately enough, Prototype This. I’ve seen a few episodes and they do things like build robot ways of delivering pizzas or a waterslide that’s just a big circle or a six legged all-terrain vehicle.

Yesterday, I saw this episode where they built robots that would box each other.

And here’s how it went. These cute, sweet, male scientists had a task–built robots that would fight each other. So, they went to a gym to get “data” on how actual boxers box. And they met with a golden glove boxer who was a woman, who fought one of them and kicked his ass.  Not even in a beat-down way, just in the way that you’re going to kick someone’s ass when you have more talent and skill than they do at something.

And so the very sweet, charming, quirky male scientist told her that he would challenge her to a rematch and beat her when it was robots boxing.

Which he did.

Because the robots were hooked up to each of them, to monitor their moves, and her moves were so complex that she was overloading her computer with data that they hadn’t even begun to design their robots to replicate. Like their robots could accommodate punches and body turns, but it couldn’t accommodate a punch and a turn at the same time or something. In other words, it ended up being weighted in favor of the crappy boxer who had designed it, because it was too slow to really capture the speed and skill of the real boxer.

And yet, when he “won,” they treated it like a real victory, like it’s any surprise that the guy who designs something that he tests and that is programmed to respond to his movements is going to win over the girl he just straps into the machine and says, “Do what you always do”?

Like I said, I’d watched the show a few times, but it wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was watching a show that only featured men.

Busy, Busy

If I know you, you are either having a baby or getting married. I’m aware that this is bad news for a lot of you, but buck up and make the best of it.  Ha. Which means, of course, that I’ve been itching to throw together a bunch of baby afghans. But I’ve got to finish the ghost stories and do my two weeks at Feministe (which start Monday!) and get together a post for Home Ec 101 and have something insightful to say for Constitution day and on and on.

All of this is do-able, but not if I flake out and start making baby blankets instead.

But babies!

And my cousin is getting married! We’re not going up to the wedding and I’ve never met his fiancee, but I would like to raise a hearty toast to anyone willing to become legally attached to this mess of a weird family. Ha.  Apparently everyone is very concerned because the fiancee is Chinese. Some are concerned because they are worried that her Chinese family will be so different than us with strange customs and strange ways and oh no, how will their weird strangeness ever be accommodated? Others are concerned that the first faction’s attitude, as well-meaning as it might be, is going to take what would be 20 seconds of awkwardness at strangers meeting and turn it into a whole weekend of awkwardness because we cannot forget that they are so different than us.

Now’s the time when I tell you that the fiancee’s family is from New York City and so, if there is any humor in the universe, someone in her family is right now writing a blog post about how her family is freaking out because they’re going to this wedding where the groom’s family are from these tiny rural towns and they probably don’t even know what a museum is and isn’t that going to be weird and awkward.

Anyway, some folks thought it would be nice if I crocheted them a red wedding afghan, because red is a lucky color to wear at weddings in Chinese culture. And I at first was like, oh, yeah, that would be nice. But then I gave it some thought and I have no idea if red is an appropriate and lucky color for Chinese weddings.  I don’t even think you can talk about “Chinese” as a monolithic culture. And I don’t want to feed into this whole “So, we’ve noticed you’re Chinese…” vibe, even if all those things are true.

So, anyway, it doesn’t matter too much because I have to be writing this month, not crocheting, so I wouldn’t have it ready in time for the wedding anyway, so I can just go to the yarn store and pick the colors that strike me as the most beautiful.

Constitution Day

So, I told my dad I was heading east in a couple of weeks to speak about Constitution Day and we were trying to decide whether to focus on the second amendment or the tenth.  My dad’s all (and I’m sorry ahead of time to you gun nuts for what is about to come out of my father’s mouth, because it means that somehow, your decades of marketing have failed) “Which one is the second amendment?”

So, I told him.

And then he started in on how stupid concealed carry is. And how he thinks that everyone should be required by law to own and carry a gun. Which they wear openly. As a part of a civilized society.

Though my dad does not own a gun. So, I’m guess he’s just waiting for the government to coerce him. I’m not sure.

Still, I was laughing trying to imagine my dad talking about the second amendment on the same panel as Terry Frank, where he’s supposed to be the voice of the Left. I may insist he comes down, put him in a curly-haired wig and have him do it.  After all, it’s not like Casey knows what I look like, exactly, and I do look a lot like my dad.

This picture illustrates the uncanny resemblance we have to each other, when he’s wearing a curly-haired wig.


I think it could work.

Intuative Eating

I had a burger for lunch yesterday, from Wendy’s, and I’m sad to say that, if you were anywhere near me, you heard about it, one way or another (sorry to those of you near enough to smell my farts). And I was miserable with it clear through to bedtime.

So, today, when lunch came, I thought to myself, self, what would you like for lunch?

And the answer was “sushi and trail mix.” Which was immediately followed by “do you really want that?”

And it’s that second voice I’d like to take a second to consider. Because that voice comes from years of me reaching for another cookie or more mashed potatoes or the last of the baby spinach or whatever.  It’s supposed to, I’m sure, be a voice that teaches women to “consider a healthy alternative,” but for me, and possibly this comes from being raised by Protestant Midwesterners, it is the voice of extravagance-denying. Because, as you surely noted, it wasn’t just the extra cookie, but it was also the encouragement to make sure the boys didn’t want the spinach (as if!).

So, it was weird to hear it click on when I wanted sushi and trail mix, because you’d think rice and seafood and nuts and raisins would be on the list of ‘not extravagant.’  But it seemed excessive, because I’d have to go two different places and…

I don’t know. There’s not really enough here for a whole post except to say that I wonder how much of this stuff we internalize because it’s “healthy” is actually about denying pleasure?

Anyway, I had sushi and trail mix for lunch. And then I burped, loudly, and it kind of made my day.

Political Pundits, Help!

Okay, so I’m reading this fine post by Tom Humphrey about the Lynn/McCall dust-up and I need some help reading the tea leaves here.

1. Isn’t it bullshit that these folks are claiming that they didn’t know Lynn was running? Doesn’t it seem like every time Beavers was like “I quit…” before she could get out “…using that brand of fabric softener” someone would shout out “Lynn will certainly run!”

2. Can people claim, with a straight face, to be more conservative than Lynn? What does that even entail? “I buy my own oxygen and have it pumped into my nose because I believe sharing free air is a communist plot.”?

3.  This is payback, right? Lynn breathed a word about Kent Williams’s asshole behavior, thus causing a big brouhaha, and this is what she gets–though she’s been a loyal Republican hack, the Republicans are going to punish her and punish her publicly–right?

Am I missing something? Why else would people pretend they didn’t know she was running for that seat? Why else would they endorse anyone in a primary? This seems like payback and what else has Lynn done that has caused them such public consternation, other than being in Williams’s cross-hairs when he decided to play “I’m a letch.” and then have it come out?

Tell me what’s going on here! Please.

The Other Ty Cobb

So, it’s confusing because we have a Democratic Ty Cobb in the State House and now another Ty Cobb is running in a different district and so when someone says something like, “Oh my god, did you see Ty Cobb’s website?!” you have to discern which Ty Cobb it is.

If I had my way, I would call the Ty Cobb we have now a conservative Democrat and the Ty Cobb we are surely about to have a Republican. But you know, you start saying snarky stuff like that and someone is going to start lecturing you about how every district in Tennessee is so very different than every other district and we have to shape our message to reach those voters in each district who are, did I mention, so very different and we city folks simply cannot understand, so please leave it to the folks who know these things to figure out. Seriously, by the time they get done with the lecture, you will be lolling in your chair like a petulant teenager, staring at the ceiling obsessing over what would happen if a piece of plaster fell in your eye right then.  In fact, you may secretly be praying for that plaster to fall in your eye, so that you have a legitimate excuse to run out of the room screaming.

But let’s be honest, the line between conservative Democrat and actual motherfucking Republican in Democrat’s clothing probably falls between the two Ty Cobbs.

So, let us turn our attention to the other Ty Cobb.

Ty Cobb, a conservative Democrat, was born and raised in Bedford County where he attended Shelbyville Central High School. Cobb then attended Martin Methodist College where he was a pitcher on their baseball team.

A commonsense conservative, Ty Cobb is a hunter, fisherman, trail rider, sportsman, and a carry permit holder. He is pro-life and a card carrying member of the NRA.

Well, well, well.


You know what? If this Cobb gets in, I think we hold him to it.  It’s time to hold these conservative “pro-life” Democrats to a standard of actually improving the life-spans of people in Tennessee. Now, lots of people in Tennessee die needlessly. One only has to take a look at the latest women’s health report card to see that, if you’re a woman in Tennessee, you and your children are in grave danger and may not get out of this state alive (or at the end of a long life).

But babies are cute.  And who wants to see cute babies die?  And yet, our infant mortality rate is abysmal.

It’s time to start holding these “pro-life” folks to their pro-life standards. We need to ask them, at every turn, what they’re going to do to lower infant mortality rates in this state.  And if they aren’t going to do anything, we need to start letting their constituents know that they’re baby killers.

In Which I Say Something Very Uncharitable about the TNDP

Because the TNDP has every email address I own somehow, I have now received the following multiple times and I am growing more and more irritated:

TNDP Header Image Just a quick reminder: bidding for the head table will end at 5:00pm Central today.

Bid now for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Jackson Day at table with  Vice President Al Gore, Gov. Phil Bredesen, Gov. Ned Ray McWherter and Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Remember: your bid must be $100 higher than the current highest bid.

I know this is how it works, but I hate the flagrant nature of it.  “Remember: your bid must be $100 higher than the current highest bid.”  Ha, ha, all us rich Democrats throwing our money around in cheerful competition with each other and in hundred dollar increments.


Like I’m supposed to believe that the person who can afford to bid on a seat at that table is having a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”?

It’d be nice, just once, for us to give more than lip-service to being a party of people from across the board instead of making so obvious the mechanisms by which we ensure the “right” people get seated with the “right” people.

Ty Cobb, I Look Askance at You

Names that might properly be shortened to “Ty” when one’s last name is “Cobb,” without suspicion:
















Railroad Tie




Names that cannot be shortened to “Ty” if your last name is “Cobb” without making a girl think you’re just trying to soak in the reflected glory of the original Ty Cobb:


Level-Headed Conservatives, Your Country Needs You

You know how you’re at a church function, probably a potluck, and some old guy starts ranting about The War! (Meaning, probably, the Korean War, but Vietnam War veterans are now quickly reaching the age where some of them could be this guy) and how “they” are ruining the America that he fought for and his daughter tries to calm him down and he’s having none of it and some young guy who thinks he knows better is trying to argue with him and the whole thing is escalating in a way that’s backing up the line going around the table leaving you stuck right in front of the one salad that kid of smells like marshmallows and cabbage?  And there’s a huge scene and no one gets to eat and we’re all a little afraid he’s going to pull out his gun and shoot the water heater and then Mrs. Yoder is going to jump on his back and stab him because there is no way she’s going to do all these dishes in cold water, not only because of her arthritis but also because you need hot water to kill germs and she’s not using germy plates next time to feed the children in the church?

So, everyone is tense, waiting to see if this will be the Sunday that Mrs. Yoder finally goes to jail?

And you know how it’s got to be another vet who stands up and walks over to the guy and puts his arm around him and leads him outside and has a little talk with him and we all eat and then the guy comes back in and he looks a little embarrassed and mutters that he’s sorry and your grandpa sits back down with you and says nothing about what he said outside?

But not only is the crisis over, it doesn’t happen again?

Level-headed conservatives, please, be that grandpa. Please, if you know some fool who is clearly in the middle of some public melt-down–maybe he’s insisting at some townhall meeting that we all go to Washington to kill the President, or he’s convinced that he needs to see the President’s penis in order to know that he’s an American, or she’s talking about how the Republicans need to find themselves a “great white hope,” edited to add: or wanting to install a Christian theocracy in Tennessee–whatever it is, it’s holding up the line at the metaphorical American potluck, that person is not listening to the rest of us.

Please, for the sake of your country and your fellow citizens, take these fools aside and speak some calming wisdom to them.

I’m Getting Worse at This

It’s funny, but I feel like the longer I blog, the worse at it I get.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve covered all the things I feel certain about, if I feel more like keeping more of my private self private, I don’t know.  But I look back on old posts and I see a kind of fearless reckless certainty I just don’t feel any more.

One of the things I’ve thought is true is that an idea is separate from a person, that you can disagree with an idea, argue with it, bend it, twist it, whatever, and it’s not about the person.  I’ve come to see that, though it would be nice if this were true, there are a lot of people who will take something you’ve written and twist it and bend it and try to get at in in a bunch of different ways just for the express purpose of getting at you–of trying to make you feel exposed and vulnerable.

All night, I dreamed of being chased by a serial killer who wore like a cross between a motorcycle helmet and one of those old timey deep sea diving round things. And in the dream, it was easy to distract him with other people to kill, but he was always also still coming after me.  I was not actually saving myself. I was just buying time.

There is a way of blogging about people for the express purpose of getting at them, of trying to make them feel vulnerable and exposed, that I have defended, especially when I thought they behaved in ways that made them “deserve” it.  And there are ways of blogging about people not so that you have to leave them vulnerable and exposed, but so you leave it to others to do so.

I don’t know.

I don’t feel certain about much any more.  If this year has taught me anything, it’s that. That my feelings of certainty were almost always wrong.  I don’t mean that in a negative way.  Being certain has served me well.

And lord knows, I don’t want to be frozen from making decisions by uncertainty.

But I am certainly being humbled by the power of uncertainty lately.

And what a terrible time for it to happen! Ha.


Oh, South, What Have You Done to Me?

So, I’m coming up Clarksville Pike (terrific job on the resurfacing, by the way, Nashville) and there’s an accident blocking both north-bound lanes.  A police officer moves into the south bound lanes and starts waving people through.

Did I wait to get into the southbound lane until the last possible minute so as to be in my lane should the police officer decide to let people come south?

No I did not.

So he had to move everyone around me.

It was pretty embarrassing.


And here is where all of my midwestern ancestors begin rolling in their graves because we certainly do not interact with people we don’t know, if we can help it.

…I rolled down my window and apologized to the police officer!

He said, “Oh.  It’s fine.”

Tuesday Rhymes with Bluesday

Ha, so today is majorly sucking balls.  I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to fix a computer problem it turns out I CAUSED!  Yes, me. I fucked the whole thing up and then was too stupid to realize it for 24 hours!  If you work with me and you couldn’t do anything for the past day, it was all my fault!

In other news, I learned about WinDirStat, which lets you see when you’ve left a gig of Spanish porn sitting on an external hard drive.  So, that was exciting and embarrassing.

In other, other news, some troll over at Feministing is linking to Tiny Cat Pants and I feel… well, I don’t know what to feel because I can’t understand his point.  If he thinks that I’m all “Yes, what about the menz?!” then I feel as if I’ve failed feminism for the day.  But, if he’s all, “Look, this woman is an evil bitch! Which just proves that someone must run around at all times asking ‘what about the menz?!'” then I’m going to feel good.  But I just can’t tell.

In further news, I’m back at Pith.  Not that I was ever out at Pith, which is why they tell you that when you assume, you make an ass of you and me.  Also, you leave a gig of Spanish porn laying around but assume the problem must be something more nefarious….  Lying around?  Spanish porn certainly lays, regardless, right?  Grammarians, in the lay v. lie debate, all porn must “lay,” surely.

In news even further than that, my guest-blogging gig at Feministe runs August 31st through September 13th.  Be sure to check it out.  Every day I will ask, “What about the menz?!” and deposit large quantities of antique Spanish porn on your computers.  So, I’ll be like a terrible virus, but more charming.

Ha, and Space Kitty posted this on the Twitter (as the kids say), and I’m linking to it here because y’all will enjoy it and then Coble and the Professor will look at each other and nod (or they will look over their shoulders like they would be looking at each other… You know, I’m distracted because I’m stressed and worn out, but I have to say, I think watching Coble and the Professor make out would be pretty hot.  Not that I’m regularly imagining which of you should… Okay, I am. Where the fuck was I?) Oh, yes, the Professor and Coble will look at each other and nod, as if to say, “And how many times have I said that?”