Tag: American Culture

On Guns, Mental Hygiene, and Resilience

December 17, 2012 | By | 15 Replies More
On Guns, Mental Hygiene, and Resilience

It may surprise people who know me that I am not completely anti-gun. It seems like something I might be.  I don’t like loud noises and I don’t like violence, and killing hurts me. I have to avert my eyes form a lot of TV and movies. But the gun thing is no longer simple for me.  The last time I was stridently anti-gun was while lecturing my father about the dangers of guns. He happened to be holding off a midnight intruder with a hammer and wanted me to go get his gun.  I was a senior in high school and I knew everything and I refused . . .

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#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

October 19, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

I was at our local #occupy protests on Saturday for what organizers were calling a “Global day of action”. This week marks one month since #occupywallstreet began their occupation in New York City, and have proven to be an inspiration to people around the globe.

Omaha is not exactly known as a hotbed of radical activism or sentiment. Protests here regularly turn out a half-dozen or so committed activists, but rarely much more than that. My wife and I decided that the time had come for us to express our discontent with the existing socio-political environment here, and so we headed out to #OccupyOmaha on Saturday morning. Expecting low numbers, we were surprised when we could see people streaming towards the meeting site from blocks away.

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Makeup is the new girdle.

May 16, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More
Makeup is the new girdle.

I stopped wearing cosmetics a few months ago, after about half a year of using the stuff only sparingly. I started weaning myself off makeup because I had come to hate the hassle of applying it, and because I hated fretting about my appearance. I was also beginning to think of makeup as old-fashioned, an antiquated ‘modesty’ that inspires shame in one’s true appearance. The longer I go without a cosmetic product on my face, the more I believe that makeup needs to go the way of the girdle. The restrictive, uncomfortable, needless, obsolete girdle.

How many undergarments are you wearing right now? I’m guessing two at most. Likewise, I only wear two small undergarments below my clothes, even on the most formal occasions. Interview? Presentation? Class? Wedding? A bra and underwear are always adequate.

Since I’ve never had to wear more than two undergarments, I find it staggering that women used to wear massive bras, high-waisted underwear, girdles, pantyhose or stockings, garter belts, slips, and camisoles.

I often wear less than that as a full outfit. Anyone who knows me in real life can confirm that I regularly step out in leggings and a t-shirt (plus two small undergarments beneath). I don’t say this to titilate, just to illustrate, because I suspect my bare-bones attire is quickly becoming the norm. I’ve spent a lot of time on college campuses- big and small, public and private, Jesuit and blessedly godless. Everywhere I’ve seen legions of women and girls decked out in equal or greater states of undress than my own. Gone are the girdles.

[More . . . ]

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The sanctity of contracts

March 4, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
The sanctity of contracts

Daily Show host John Stewart eviscerates those asking teachers and other unions to make sacrifices in the name of cutting the budget deficit, especially when those same people (literally!) did not ask the same from Wall Street bankers following the trillions of dollars of bailouts and easy money:

Incidentally, much of the rhetoric is centered around asking the unions to “contribute more” towards their benefits package, but how does one contribute more than 100%?

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We need a monarch.

April 4, 2010 | By | 2 Replies More
We need a monarch.

I hate to sound like a Tea-Party nutbag, but I really love the United States’ Constitution. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a free-speech fanatic. I love the Constitution’s sharp focus on individual liberties, its emphasis on the rights of the accused, and that grade-school-civics favorite, the checks and balances of power. I despair when these ideals meet real-life sacrifices, especially glaring ones like, oh, the utter lack of Congressional declarations of war since WWII. I also don’t like to sully the document’s purity with excessive amendments, interpretations and adaptations. No Defense of Marriage Amendment, please, but while you’re at it, no marriage at all (it violates the establishment clause, you see).

But don’t call me a Scalia-esque strict constructionist. If I could, I would copy-edit the otherwise brilliant Constitution and correct a centuries-old omission with no qualms: I would give the United States a monarch.

It probably seems unamerican, undemocratic and all-around anti-freedom-y to propose that we foist an unquestioned figure to the crown of government. It probably sounds old-fashioned, all uppity and needlessly symbolic and European. I know it does. It’s exactly my point.

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The ugliness and the hope

February 24, 2010 | By | Reply More
The ugliness and the hope

Jeremy Rifkin has a few things to say at Huffpo. First, the problem:

In a nation that has come to think of human nature as competitive, even predatory, self serving, acquisitive and utilitarian, is it any wonder that those very values have led to a “winner take all” syndrome in the marketplace in which the rich get richer while everyone else becomes marginalized, and the well-being of the larger community, including the biosphere, becomes eroded?

And then the hope:

If we listen very closely, we can hear the whisper of a new dream in the making, one based on what youth around the world are beginning to call “quality of life”. In this new world, the American Dream seems almost provincial, even quaint, and entirely unsuited for a generation that is beginning to extend its empathic sensibility beyond national identities, to include the whole of humanity and the entirety of the planet as their extended community. If the American Dream served as the gold standard for the era of national markets and nation-state governments, the dream of “quality of life” becomes the standard for the emerging biosphere era. . . The empathic civilization looms on the horizon.

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Chinks I

April 1, 2009 | By | Reply More
Chinks I

I got called a Chink today. The last time I remember being called a Chink, I was an 8 year-old in a fading blue one-piece swimsuit at the Boys ‘n Girls Club in Mt. Kisco, NY. In the shallow end. I don’t remember what I did to raise the hackles of Bully, a short blond chubby boy whose name’s been redacted by my neurons. All I remember is that I was dazed and confused when I first heard the word. I looked into his eyes and saw derision – I knew not of what or why – and a lonely, boiling soup of mysterious inadequacy rose in my belly.

I wasn’t angry at Bully. I just didn’t understand why he was angry with me. In an effort to understand what had just happened, I told my swimming instructor what he’d called me. I knew it was bad. Perhaps her intervention would reveal what it meant. Denise (sister to Dennis, also a swimming instructor – thank you, neurons) told me to ignore him or said something equally dismissive. I swam back into line on my back (this I remember too), trying to align my body with the rafters through puddly tears and swallowing gobs of phlegm. Maybe I felt anger then. Maybe I briefly flipped onto my stomach to catch my breath and hold in the soup that had turned into boiling bitterness. I remember it now. I can feel the same, helpless, indignant outrage or I can hold it at bay. That’s why I didn’t tell Jin that we’d been called Chinks today, in the bible-belt, by a convertible-driving Catholic School boy: me in my skirt suit with briefcase in tow (saving the poor) and she, a new J.D. with intolerance only for American fast food. I choose to feel nothing.

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The Happiness Project says: live better by deceiving your kids.

February 18, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
The Happiness Project says: live better by deceiving your kids.

I usually like the online magazine Slate. I listen to many of Slate’s podcasts, read several of the site’s posts a week, and peruse their author-run blogs on occasion, too. The site isn’t perfect, but I usually carry some respect for the site’s authors and its generally thoughtful, funny content. Exceptions being boneheaded pursuits like their recent attempt to track down the evolutionary origins of Facebook’s 25 Things meme (Hint to Slate: that trend dates back to the years before Facebook, the golden days of Livejournal).

But for all of Slate’s occasionally out-of-touch, misguided posts, nothing beats The Happiness Project. Authored by ex-lawyer and non-Slate author Gretchen Rubin, it’s a recent addition to Slate’s blog roll, and not truly a “part” of Slate itself. I still hold Slate somewhat responsible for sharing the drivel that the blog spews. I’ll give you a pretty representative taste: Five Ways to Outsmart Your 3-Year Old.

Let’s take Way #1. Gretchen writes:

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Go Ahead…Make My Day…Again…Again…

January 24, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Go Ahead…Make My Day…Again…Again…

It’s like Clint Eastwood has come to town and all the bad guys are hiding under the tables or in closets. President Obama is striking down one stupid rule after another his predecessor left behind. It’s a martial arts level kung fu pen-fest, signing (or consigning) the detritus of ignorance from the last eight years into the dustbin of…

Well, he’s overturned the international gag rule concerning abortion information. He’s undoing the restrictions on stem cell research. He has ordered Gitmo shut down within a year and a panel to look into what to do with the detainees.

Before the vacillations of moral outrage erupt over the gag rule overturn, it should be considered how absurd and cowardly a ban on talking about something actually is. And I don’t mean from a national security perspective. Clearly, some information is sensitive in that sense and should not be publicly disseminated. But in the case of the gag rule, we’re talking about something that is, for all intents and purposes, Public Knowledge. If you know what to look for, anyone can find this information and not be arrested for having it. Yet grown men and women have been constrained from talking about it in the performance of their duties as doctors and nurses.

What part of “choice” do the enemies of choice not understand?

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