May 26, 2006
Last night the doorbell rang at 3 am. I think I was still awake (I have trouble falling asleep sometimes), and I had that momentary panic that people at the door or on the phone at that hour instill in–I imagine–most people (“oh crap, what happened, is anyone dead?”). As I made my way to the door, though, I had a feeling I knew what was up.
About a month or two ago, the doorbell rang at around 1:30 am. There was a young woman, about my age, there when I opened the door. She told me that she’d just moved into the building across the alley and had just started a new job and hadn’t received a paycheck yet. Her daughter was spending the weekend with her (the daughter’s) father, but said father had just been arrested, and so she needed to drive up to Bernalillo (a town just north of here) to pick up her little girl, but she was out of gas. I made sympathetic noises, fetched my wallet, and gave her all the cash I had (probably $10 or so). She promised to pay me back after she got paid. I didn’t see her again, but was busy enough that I forgot about the whole thing pretty quickly.
Last night it was her again, as I suspected. She had apparently run out of formula for her daughter, who was now hungry enough to be crying inconsolably, and was again out of money. I gave her what cash I had ($13), and she told me she’d swing by this evening to pay me back. We ended up not being home, though, so I don’t know whether or not she actually did.
Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have thought twice about this situation. I don’t tend to hold on to money too tightly, because there are so many people out there whose needs are so much greater than mine. If you need money and I have cash on me, chances are good I’ll just hand it over, and I won’t ask for it back unless I really need it.
I was talking to Mr. Lizard about it, though, and he suggested that I am being taken for a ride. If it is indeed a scam, it’s a pretty clever one, all things considered: find some poor gullible half-asleep schmoe, feed him or her a sob story, and reap the benefits. And he did have at least one good point: I have never seen this woman in the daylight, and I’m pretty sure I’ve at least seen, if not met, all of our neighbors. Still, I’m willing to believe that’s a coincidence, as I keep fairly unpredictable hours.
So, then, I was curious: do you think this woman is on the level? What would you have done in my place? Am I the most gullible person you’ve ever met/heard about?
May 25, 2006
From CNN.com: “Bush, Blair: Iraq war not as smooth as hoped”
I was extremely irritated to hear that Kevin Logan, a high school student in Gary, IN, “was turned away from his prom at the door by the school principal, because he was wearing a gown instead of a tux” (Shakespeare’s Sister). Who was he hurting? What harm would it have done to just let him in? Would the principal have turned away a young woman dressed in a tux? (I doubt it–in fact, I just re-read the Shakes Sis blog entry and saw that “students reported that a girl was allowed to attend the prom in a tuxedo.”) How is that any different?
On the plus side, from the article Shakespeare’s Sister quoted from (to which the link she posted isn’t working) and the follow-up article in today’s Post-Tribune, it sounds like this student is getting lots of support, from his mother, his peers, and across the country. Of course, there are also those that wrote in support of the principal, “because males in dresses are ‘unnatural’” (Post-Tribune). But what if he had come in formal Scottish highland garb (i.e., among other elements, a kilt)? That wouldn’t be seen as unnatural, right? The main differences between a kilt and a skirt, really, are fabric and style. More important, though, I suppose, is that we’re used to seeing men in what we think of as traditionally male attire, and any deviation from that makes people uncomfortable. My opinion, of course, is that people who are uncomfortable with men in dresses need to get over it. I have the choice to wear pants, a skirt, or a dress whenever I want, so I see no reason my male counterparts shouldn’t have the same choice.
And, ultimately, aren’t there more pressing issues in our schools than whether or not students should be forced to conform to traditional gender roles as far as their clothing goes?
Check out this great animated short from Planned Parenthood. It’s not safe for work, and there are talking genitals, but it’s really fantastic. I mean, come on, they start with the tagline “where your genitals tell it like it is”!
Hat tip to Feministing.
May 24, 2006
I saw a few things in today’s online roamings that I consider worth blogging about, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not really in the mood, and I figure that if Evil Bender can post a poem when he’s in a dark mood, then I should be able to as well.
Okay, okay, just one quick link that I find darkly humorous: apparently the world may well end tomorrow. Also, I still have that bridge for sale…
Anyway, here’s the poem:
by Jim Daniels
Fred and I, drunk and stoned,
drove around laughing like we did
in the old days before I met Karen.
Then I said drive by Karen’s
and he said are you sure?
Then he said okay like he was tired
and didn’t want to end up
bailing me out again.
She’d given my ring back a month ago.
I knew she had a date.
A car was parked
where I always parked.
Fred pulled in on the other side of the street.
We sat there. There’s no one in the car
Fred said. No lights in the house.
I squinted hard through the dark,
saw a head pop up above the seat
then down again. I reached for the door.
There’s no one in the car—
we’re leaving now, Fred said.
He put his hand on my shoulder
I turned to stone then crumbled
wanting her and not wanting her
while Fred drove me home.
I held my open hand out the window
against the cold wind.
25 years ago.
Today in a moment rain
changes to snow.
Maybe it was Fred I loved that night.
We’d have never called it that.
And I still wouldn’t to his face—
that small touch
during the years none of us
ever touched each other.
Sometimes I still drive by that spot
with my wife who doesn’t know the ghosts
living there. We don’t kiss in cars anymore.
Karen married, moved away.
Ah, heart. Hearts.
Mine and yours. Yeah, all of you.
The times we’ve given it away
for chump change.
The heart, the fist. If you’re lucky
someone grabs your shoulder.
May 23, 2006
Maximus Prime has arrived! Congrats, C and L, and Max, I can’t wait to meet you!
May 21, 2006
I was watching television this morning, and a commercial came on. “There’s something in these pictures you can’t see,” a soothing female voice claimed. “Ooh, I know, it’s air!” I responded, anticipating an anti-air pollution ad.
Boy was I wrong. It went on to tell me what a wonderful thing carbon dioxide is, how natural it is, that “the fuels that produce CO2 have freed us from a world of back-breaking labor.” Then the music changes tone and the pictures turn to black and white, and the voice stated that there are evil environmentalists who want to call CO2 a pollutant. It finished with the wonderful tagline, “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution; we call it life.”
You can go see the ad I saw at Think Progress, and I imagine that if you’re reading this blog, your reaction will be similar to mine: a mix of incredulity, disgust, and anger.
Global warming is happening, and to steal a line from The Princess Bride, anyone who says differently is selling something. And, indeed, this ad, as well as its follow-up in which they make the claim that glaciers are growing rather than shinking (and if you believe that one I’ve got a bridge you might like to buy), was put forth by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “a front group funded by ExxonMobil and other big oil companies” (Think Progress).
Litbrit over at Shakespeare’s Sister posted a link to a great potential counter-ad that I think is worth checking out.
Can someone please tell me that the American public is not stupid enough to buy this bullshit?
May 16, 2006
You died on Friday; I just found out about a half hour ago. I didn’t know what to say to you the last time I saw you, nearly two years ago now. I’ve always thought of you as my uncle, even though you and my aunt have been divorced for over ten years. I don’t really know what to say to you now, either, except that I’m glad your passing was peaceful, and I love you. I don’t know why I’m weeping now, whether it’s for your pain, or because I won’t ever get to talk to you as a grown-up, or if it’s simply for my cousin—your daughter—and your wife. I’m pasting in a poem for you, below. It might not be the best one for the occasion, but it spoke to me all the same. I’ll say goodbye on Thursday; for now it’s simply safe journey.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—
This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembering, if outlived,
As Freezing Persons recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—
May 8, 2006
Just came across a news item via Shakespeare’s Sister that I wanted to pass along and comment on: The signing of a disabled [i.e. autistic] Portland man despite warnings reflects problems nationally for military enlistment.
A comment in the Oregonian article that struck me: “Recruiters in Portland and nationwide spend several hours a day cold-calling high school students, whose phone numbers are provided by schools under the No Child Left Behind Law.”
Can someone explain to me what providing the phone numbers of high school students to military recruiters has to do with making sure they get a good K-12 education? That strikes me as inappropriate at best, if not frighteningly invasive.
Another striking moment: the mother of the autistic man, Jared, “said she spoke to Cpl. Ronan Ansley and explained that Jared had a disability, autism, that could not be outgrown. She said Ansley told her he had been in special classes, too — for dyslexia.”
Well… maybe this is a point in Ansley’s favor. If he’s comparing autism to dyslexia (don’t get me wrong, dyslexia is serious business, too), then he clearly has no grasp of what autism is and why Jared’s family is fighting so hard to keep Jared out of the Army.
Finally, the moment in the story that broke my heart: “During a recent family gathering, a relative asked Jared what he would do if an enemy was shooting at him. Jared ran to his video game console and killed a digital Xbox soldier and announced, ‘See! I can do it!’”
I can’t say it any better than Shakes Sis did: “No good can come of this for Jared. If his parents aren’t successful in having his enlistment overturned, he will sent to Iraq on a dangerous tour of duty for which he is wholly unprepared. If they are successful, he may never quite understand why they withheld the opportunity from him, since his video game acuity proves, to him, that he can ‘do it.’”
May 5, 2006
Important women’s rights issues currently being discussed:
Virginity or Death!: Katha Pollitt discusses the religious right’s take on the HPV vaccine. She writes, “‘Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful,’ Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, ‘because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.’ Raise your hand if you think that what is keeping girls virgins now is the threat of getting cervical cancer when they are 60 from a disease they’ve probably never heard of.”
Lieberman vs. the Day After Pill: After Senator Joe Lieberman supported hospitals refusing to give rape victims emergency contraception for reasons of principle, stating, “In Connecticut, it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital,” Connecticut Bob drew up some maps detailing the distance between Catholic hospitals and secular hospitals in a CT’s major cities. The shortest distance is 1.37 miles, in New Haven, through a not-so-friendly neighborhood.
And important issues regarding the rights of children:
“Brainwashed by propaganda and gender bias”: Shakespeare’s Sister discusses a case in which “fathers’ rights advocates are making noise about the visitation rights of incarcerated fathers.” Four pertinent details in this case: “Jeffery M. Leving, a prominent Chicago attorney who concentrates on men’s rights and author of the book ‘Fathers’ Rights’” stated that “the real focus is children’s rights;” the father was not involved in his three children’s lives before he was incarcerated; the children don’t want to see him; and the reason the father is in jail is because he raped the mother of his children.
Please don’t misunderstand me: under other circumstances I would absolutely support a child’s right to see her father in prison. I also know that fathers are often treated unfairly by the courts when it comes to custodial battles. However, ultimately I support what’s best for the children, and the children’s best interests are clearly not being served here.
Finally, School principal to 10-year-old: No free speech for you!: Shakespeare’s Sister again, informing readers that a fifth-grader “has been told by her principle [sic] that she will not be allowed to sing Pink’s Dear Mr. President at a school talent show because it is ‘inappropriate and too political.’” The best part: “Assuming the decision stands, Molly said she plans to select a new song for the show later this month with a message she thinks school officials wouldn’t object to: A hip-hop song about two girls fighting over a boy.”
Happy Friday, everyone!
Edited to fix formatting, and to add, happy Cinco de Mayo, too!