Monday, May 31, 2010

I wrote a poem

title of poem:
"Bouquet Delivered at Work"


A gathering of roses,
Cheerful and clubby together
In their tall vase,
Red Ones, yellow ones,
Pink roses, blue rose,
orange rose
All confident in their beauty,
Gracious in their message.
Shaped like curvaceous teacups.


Friday, May 28, 2010

hell of an idea

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song,
read a good poem, see a fine picture,
and, if it were possible,
to speak a few reasonable words.
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There you go.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

deal-making seen as a Good Thing

Yeah, I couldn't figure out how it was that the election was held in Great Britain and when it was over they still didn't know who was Prime Minister.

It was not a "hanging-chad" situation, like Florida in 2000 / bush / gore.
It's a different form of government. While the United States is a constitution-based federal republic, Great Britain is a "parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy."

That means they have the Queen, as a "figurehead" who is the head of state and the prime minister, who is the head of government.

Who is Prime Minister is not voted on directly by the people, like where I could go to the polls and vote for Clinton, Reagan, Bush, and Obama. Parliament decides after the people vote for party candidates and they see who has majority and by how much.

New York Times said in May 11 article ("Cameron Takes over as British Premier..."),
Britain's Conservatives returned to power on Tuesday after 13 years in opposition [they say "in opposition" as we would put it, "in the minority"] when David Cameron, who has built his future on a claim to have recast the party of Margaret Thatcher for a new century as more compassionate and less class-bound, took over as prime minister from Labour's Gordon Brown.

Five days after a general election that left the Conservatives 20 seats short of a majority, Mr. Cameron, 43, cobbled together an awkward alliance with the Liberal Democrats to form the first coalition government since World War II.

Isn't that interesting? It's like ours, but different. Based on democratic principles -- the people vote -- but then those IN GOVERNMENT pick the head of government. It would be like if we left it up to the representatives and senators to pick between Obama and McCain.

Watching the commercials of the three P.M. candidates I had this impression:
Cameron -- Conservative
Nick Clegg -- more Liberal
Gordon Brown -- (Labour Party) in the middle. -- Also, IN Office.

So the deal was made, according to numbers of parliament-members elected, between Cameron the most conservative and Clegg the most liberal, leaving out Brown who was in the middle. Also he'd just been in office -- voters wanted something different, they figured.

And Brown OK with this -- he resigned.
The Times said, "The transfer of power took place with the swiftness characteristic of Britain's parliamentary system. Less than 75 minutes after Mr. Brown fast-forwarded events by an earlier-than-expected resignation announcement at a lectern in Downing Street, Mr. Cameron stood at the same lectern as Britain's new leader. In between, both men had met with Queen Elizabeth II to make the transfer formal."

That's apparently how it works.

One more paragraph from that same Times article tells you more of how this goes:
But some analysts said they expected Mr. Cameron to concentrate for a year on measures to stabilize the economy, husbanding ties with the Liberal Democrats as he goes. Aides to the new prime minister said Mr. Clegg had agreed to an austerity package that would be softened by Conservative concessions on issues at the heart of the Liberal Democrats' election campaign, including relief for the poorest taxpayers and abandonment of a Conservative pledge to eliminate inheritance taxes on any estate valued at less than $1.5 million. But after that, these analysts said, Mr. Cameron might be tempted to call a new election in a bid to win a majority.
Call a new election, hmmhh?
We don't get to do that.
It's a system like ours, but different. Sort of -- going along, issue to issue, forming alliances and compromises to get each new thing done, or to meet each challenge.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

tangled up in passwords

The computer at work insisted I change my password last Friday.
I never change it and then forget it.
Except for this time.
Monday I was typing in titles of songs -- and albums -- by Bob Dylan and by The Rolling Stones, hoping to hit it lucky...
"It has to be...I know it's one of them..."
Kept trying; no success.

Had to bother the I-T, to make the computer allow me to create a New new password.
This one I wrote down, AND remembered.

Last night, walking in the dark across the parking lot to my car I Remembered the original New Password from Fri.: "The Bitch Is Back."

Not Dylan OR the Stones.

No wonder typing in every song title from the Blood On The Tracks album wasn't getting me access to my Desktop.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

resolved; resigned; resisting

Three things on a Tuesday
In the early Nineties sometime I had an epiphany while standing at a counter waiting to be helped. I was feeling tired and rushed and pressured ("join the club," right?) and I almost -- I had an impulse to snap at the person behind the counter. ("You're gonna hafta hurry UP!") Something like that. I caught myself, and thought about how happy and excited I was at that moment in my life, to be doing the work I was doing at the time. (Lobbying, State Legislature.) I thought about how grateful I felt, for my career and for other things -- interesting people I was meeting, blah-blah-blah.

And I resolved to never snap at anybody like that, or even to consider doing it -- I worked to extinguish the Idea of ever snapping or bitching. (Getting rid of the idea is harder.) But at least a person can always Select how they're going to act. I thought, "I am so grateful for the career I have, I don't ever want to be less than polite and kind to anyone who has a less interesting and exciting job than mine, and anyone who is likely making less money than me."

This realization and personal resolve sort of meshed, in my imagination, with the idea that there's so much you cannot change or improve in the world, in life, all you can change is yourself. So then if you Live that, you've done something.

(Was thinking just the other day -- sometimes if you can't eradicate the Bad, at least you can Not Do it. Resist all the negativity. "Just say no," as Nancy Reagan used to say....)

A co-worker resigned from his job; he was thinking about (and therefore experiencing) only the negative aspects. I was trying to talk him into seeing other aspects -- the good things, and other points of view. (I must have said "other aspects" several times because he finally admonished me, "No -- there are no other aspects"...)

Then today I read this (#3) and it expressed what I was trying to say -- part of it -- to my co-worker --

[a quote from Howard Zinn] (Howard Zinn was a professor at the university I attended -- met him once, never took a class from him -- should have, but you can't get 'em all -- when he was introduced to me & learned where I was from, he immediately wanted to talk about the American Indian...)
here's Zinn quote:
To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

If we remember those times and places -- and there are so many -- where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
[Howard Zinn, The Optimism of
Uncertainty: The Nation, 9.20.2004]

Monday, May 24, 2010

what's that in my brain?

Hank Aaron: A new book out about him -- The Last Hero, by Howard Bryant.
The New York Times Review of Books features a piece by the Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, telling about Hero.
I may never get to read the book, but this review is lovely -- good reading.
Calling Bryant's book "illuminating and rigorously researched" Tanenhaus writes,
"Baseball's true golden age appears, increasingly, to have been the 1950s and '60s, decades of change that left many fans fearing the game was being taken away from them or becoming something they scarcely recognized. The innovations have been well documented, and often lamented: the franchises that deserted New York and its scruffy urban pastures for the shiny lure of California; the dwindling number of afternoon games, played in weekday heat, in favor of televised night contests, with their floodlit lunar glare; the decline of the multitiered farm system and its flavor of the county fairground."
When reading this review, I came across names and I felt surprised that I KNEW them. I'm not a follower of baseball -- neighbor kids and I played in back yards when I was between the ages of 9 and 13. I vaguely remember baseball cards -- did the neighbor guy have them? Boys at school? My cousins? And I don't even remember if my father watched baseball games on TV. If he did, I don't remember it.

Yet the names in the article were all comfortably familiar. I'm like, "Sure! I know that name -- yeah, heard of him, too!" -- Hank Aaron; Ty Cobb; Jackie Robinson.

Satchel Paige; Willie Mays; Joe DiMaggio; Mickey Mantle; Babe Ruth. Even a baseball commissioner -- Bowie Kuhn -- somehow his name was even familiar to me. Really have no idea why. Some thoughts, ideas, names seep into our consciousness through the culture and our surroundings. Our family, church, school, cook-outs.

And the arts covered baseball, too. "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" Simon and Garfunkel sang in "Mrs. Robinson" (in movie, The Graduate). I was so amused to read, upon DiMaggio's passing, that he'd been very irritated by that line in the song, demanding, "What do they mean by that? I haven't gone anywhere!"

And there's that poem about Babe Ruth; I can remember Willie Mays having a guest appearance in an episode of "Bewitched" that I saw in re-runs; and in old black-and-white movies, there are often witty (and sometimes snarled) comments about the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn -- an awareness forms, even if you didn't pursue the knowledge.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Cadillac rollin' on the open road

A man whom I see at work loves to cut off padlocks with a bolt-cutter.
It isn't something that needs to be done often.
Only once in a while.
(Is that why he loves it? Because it's infrequent, & the event becomes sort of a "treat"?)

He does not say that he loves to cut off locks, but you can tell he does. There's the "Oh-kay" (or, "Aahr--right") in agreement when you request: on the surface it sounds grudging, weary, reluctant. But that's Acting. The pleased enthusiasm which is the truth can be heard in the tone.

He's prompt; you won't wait long. Approaching the Location of the Problem Lock: the bolt-cutters, and the joyous maintenance man. (Oh, he wouldn't admit to being joyous--but he can barely contain it! You cannot miss it -- sort of an underlying hum of anticipation that you can't hear but you know it's there, like the motor idling in a fancy American car -- a Cadillac, say -- as it waits, Energy ready, to GO.)

Using the Effective Tool, the bolt-cutter, he "CLIP" solves the problem and walks with power, satisfaction, and dignity -- like Secretariat after winning a race -- back to his project site.

What affords us satisfaction in our work? Where's the Joy?
(A topic for later.)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

fast lane

The technologies of communication are moving too fast for me.
(I feel like I'm behind & cannot catch up, yet here I am, blogging - !?!)
But seriously, it's moving too fast.
Cell phones
E-mail on the cell phones
smoke signals

And the more ways there are to communicate the more problems people have communicating. One thing that is not controlled or manipulated by Technology is Human Nature.

If you e-mailed, you should have faxed.
If you sent a letter in the mail (heaven forbid) you could have phoned.
If you called on the land line, you might have used the cell phone.
If you typed it on paper, you should have spoken it aloud.
If you said it out loud, you should have texted it,
and if you texted it, you could have tweeted - !

Article in N.Y. Times said more cell phone time is used now on other stuff other than talking directly. Phones are being used -- for internet stuff, for texting, but less than 50% now is for direct conversation with another person. Those numbers changed over the last two or three years.

Even though I feel like things are changing faster than I can get my mind around it, I can relate to the use of "text-ing" instead of talking. Not because I don't enjoy conversing with someone, but because -- sometimes it's more convenient for the other person if you leave the message and they can read it when they have time. That's why I sometimes want to type up a concept that I want to share, & leave it for the person.

If I go & tell it to them,
a) I'm taking some of their time when maybe they don't have the time, or the Energy;
b) I'm insisting they pay attention now, rather than later (when maybe Later would be just fine); and
c) when you present an idea, if the person you're offering it to has any class, they probably don't want to hurt your feelings by appearing impatient with you or non-receptive to your idea, so if you face-to-face them, you're sort of putting them in a position where they HAVE TO --
1. listen, or pretend to,
2. look like they appreciate you & your idea,
3. say something positive; listen, respond --
I would feel like I was demanding a whole lot, when fact is, I began not wishing to DEMAND anything, but only Offer to Share.

So even though I don't know how to "TExt", I can see the point of it, I think.

In the early 90s on the financial channel (CNBC) they used to call the internet "the Information Superhighway." It seems quaint now. The term fell into disuse quickly, mid-90s.

However, this IS a "Superhighway" and the speed limit is apparently 5 billion miles an hour and I -- can't -- find -- my -- SSEEEAT- BEEELT !! AAAhh...!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

a place to watch the game

"Would it be all right if my husband watched a football game at your house?"

I'm a single woman; in my entire adult life I have only been asked that question once.

The husband in that scenario is running for governor now.

I thought of that conversation which occurred some 12 - 15 years ago because over the weekend was hearing commercials for the candidate, and because last week I happened to be thinking and considering how people drift into and out of your life -- your sphere of experience.

I knew both the husband and wife only slightly -- from workplace (state capitol) when I was working as a lobbyist. Lunched with the wife once. She seemed to be a very gentle and "open" person who was enthusiastic and eager to discuss issues. I could relate.

The husband worked for the governor.

I was a little surprised when she asked if her husband could watch a ball game at my house. (As it turned out, he didn't -- but he could have.) After brief hesitation while I reconfigured thoughts in my brain, I said, "Sure." (I mean, why not?)
"Is he allergic to cats?"
"Is he afraid of cats?"

He was going to have to be out of town (his town) and in my town for something -- events, or meeting, and was going to miss the game he wanted to see. And he must have really wanted to see it, or I don't think she would have asked me that. Also, I must have been the only person she knew in the town where I live. Or -- maybe not, I don't know.

She was just trying to arrange things for her husband to not miss out on something she knew he would enjoy, and must have been important to him.

(We agreed; and then later she got back to me, and said he wouldn't need to come to my place to watch the game after all -- something had changed, schedule or something, cannot remember.)

It struck me, the affection for her husband that seemed to be exemplified in her request.


Monday, May 17, 2010

communists in space

Saturday night in the entry-way of WalMart a red-haired teen-age guy said Hello to me; he had his girlfriend with him -- she had edgily-styled dark hair & strong make-up. The guy asked me, "Remember me? From ninth grade?"

He was one of the students I got to see every day for three weeks, in March of 07, in the special study hall for students who needed extra help to get current with their school-work. I substituted for the assistant teacher, with the main teacher there every day. (That wouldn't have been the ideal class for me to handle alone...)

In the last three years I've had spontaneous encounters with students, similar to the one Sat. night. Like most of the others kids, this one asked, "Why didn't you come back?"

(Told him I needed 40 hours, and finally was able to get full-time job.)
He stood there, looking at me, and not saying anything for a moment -- I realized he wanted to have conversation but didn't know how. So -- asked him what he's doing, etc. He's graduating this week, and going to work construction with his dad.

I thanked him for remembering me.
It's been three years since I was his "sub" -- three years ago is like yesterday to me, but I think at his age, 17 or 18, three years is a long time. It amazes me when these kids remember me.

(In the fall of the presidential election, a teenage girl at the bank recognized me and said such nice things: "We miss having you as our sub." She said -- I don't know, something like -- "Cause you're funny and you always crack jokes." And -- "We talk about you sometimes."

Pretty sweet.
I was honored.

One of the most fun days subbing in the high school was when I had to go in for the Science teacher -- and I'm not good at science.
They had moon stuff. Craters; Neil Armstrong; I don't know.

They were supposed to sit there and read their chapter.
Sitting quietly and reading.
When they've got a sub.
"Good-luck-with-that," as they say.

So in the moment I got an idea: I told them about the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Kennedy and Kruschev, and the competition between our countries in the ideological area. Cold War; Communism; Cuba; Bay of Pigs; Missile Crisis; and how the contest in space exploration was an extension of our competition for world influence.

The students mostly just sat and looked at me, their expressions betraying no particular thought or attitude. (I think it's the "being cool" thing.) At the time, I was a little let down, or -- not let down, but somehow I wanted more -- God, what did I expect, "spirited discussion"? I think you have to be a really experienced, trained teacher to get that. I found that the best I was going to see was non-chaos and absence of complaining. Learned to feel rewarded with those.


Friday, May 14, 2010

who cares

the explosion at Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia;
the oil spill in Gulf

Looking at news stories about these, found a "Common Denominator"

first, about the oil spill:
[from N.Y. Times, May 14, 2010]
"You simply are not allowed to conclude that the drilling will have an impact," said one scientist who has worked for the minerals agency for more than a decade. "If you find the risks of a spill are high or you conclude that a certain species will be affected, your report gets disappeared in a desk drawer and they find another scientist to do it or they rewrite it for you."

Another biologist who left the agency in 2005 after more than five years said that agency officials went out of their way to accommodate the oil and gas industry.

He said, for example, that seismic activity from drilling can have a devastating effect on mammals and fish, but that agency officials rarely enforced the regulations meant to limit those effects.

Now, the mine explostion:
[from N.Y. Times, April 9, 2010]
This week's blast comes after a year in which the Upper Big Branch mine had repeated problems with methane buildups. Since April 2009 federal regulators have cited the mine eight times for "substantial" violations relating to the mine's methane control plans, according to the records.

In two instances, the regulators found the mine operator was calibrating methane monitors every three months even though it is supposed to be done every 31 days. The delays in attending to the monitors meant they could not properly detect the gas, a risk inspectors said could lead to severe injuries or prove fatal.

On April 30, 2009, federal regulators found that the mine had failed to follow methane-related safety precautions.

You don't need a degree in marine biology or engineering to see what's going on, in both those situations:
rules not being followed
regulations and requirements not being met
Common Denominator.

"Yes, there's a rule, but we don't comply."
"Inspection every 31 days. Ummm--instead of that, once per quarter."

Government's at fault for not enforcing.
Business at fault for taking advantage, and putting safety and environment last.
(Is there so much profit to be made by doing things that way? Or is there a boundary-pushing, egotistical recklessness at work here, creating dysfunctional Business Ethics??)

Faking it doesn't cut it. The people running those companies should be proactive rather than reactive. They should not only follow the rules the government puts on them, they should change the dynamic, get out ahead of the process: instead of foot-dragging, or lobbying for more lenient rules & regs, they should
A) comply with what's given, + go beyond, over and above what's required;
B) point out problems & potentials problems themselves, and make some rules themselves and comply with those.

Being -- a Good Corporate Citizen, right?
Being -- "Sustainable"??

When one company does that, it will challenge all the others to do better also, because it'll make the others look bad if they don't. One good example would be powerful.

Or maybe that's not true. Maybe there are Good Examples and the other companies that resist complying with safety rules and environment regulations -- don't give a damn.

I wonder if it's true that one out-of-control, malign ego can ruin it for many hard-working, well-intentioned people at these companies.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

work - love - thought


"We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life."
-- John Cage
"...Humanism and the spirit of reasonableness are associated with the sense of humor and the sense of proportion..."
-- Lin Yutang
"When you love your work and do a good job, the money follows."
-- Eleanor McMillen Brown
"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything."
-- E.J. Phelps
"It is always possible to approach a goal by a detour."
-- Theodor Reik
"No architecture can be truly noble which is not imperfect."
-- John Ruskin
"Virtue, study, and gaiety are three sisters who should not be separated."
-- Voltaire
"Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater."
-- Epicetus
"In a dark time, the eye begins to see."
-- Theodore Roethke
"I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him."
-- Booker T. Washington
"Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other."
-- Rainer Maria Rilke
I was looking for something when began selecting these quotes -- What was I looking for? I don't know, but this is what I found.
These quotes came from Alexandra Stoddard's book, The Art Of The Possible.
She peppers her books with quotations set aside in the margins.
I began, looking for some paragraphs about Work, but wasn't finding what I wanted.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

small beer

There's an old expression -- "That's small potatoes."
Apparently in England they say, "small beer."
[a passage from Mrs. Kennedy: The Missing History Of The Kennedy Years, by Barbara Leaming. Copyright 2001, The Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster Inc. New York, NY]:
Macmillan [British prime minister, early 1960s], for his part, had a great deal to offer. Much as he liked and admired Kennedy, whom he praised in a letter to the Queen as "a very effective, even ruthless, operator in the political field," he worried that the President did seem "more interested in short-term than in large and distant problems."
In his diary, Macmillan went...further: "There is a marked contrast between President Kennedy 'in action' on a specific problem (e.g. Congo, West Irian, Ghana) and his attitude to larger issues (...nuclear war, the struggle between East and West, Capitalism and Communism, etc.). In the first, he is an extraordinarily quick and effective operator -- a born 'politician' (not in a pejorative sense). On the wider issues, he seems rather lost."
In Bermuda, Macmillan took it as his mission to shift Kennedy's perspective to precisely those "large and distant problems" with which the Prime Minister believed a great leader must be concernd.
Joe Kennedy had taught his son to win at any cost. Macmillan, of a very different cast of mind, pressed him to...gaze "two or three years into the future and, if possible, even longer." A veteran of two world wars, Macmillan believed that war, nuclear or conventional, no longer provided an option for sane people. To reduce armaments was the only rational approach.
Whether Macmillan would have been quite so effective under other circumstances is impossible to say; his words, coming as they did at a time when Joe Kennedy's influence was suddenly removed, made a huge philosophical impact. Adding to the intensity of the experience for both men were the "country house conditions" in which the conference was held. Kennedy and Macmillan lived under the same roof, ate all meals but breakfast together, took long walks, and had lots of time to talk. It seemed to Ormsby-Gore that Kennedy's instincts were similar to Macmillan's, but that the Prime Minister had thought out his positions in ways the younger man had yet to do.
"I think that not many people had talked to President Kennedy in quite those sweeping terms before," Ormsby-Gore remembered. "And I think that this did add a dimension to his thinking." As far as Macmillan was concerned, no topic was more important than that of nuclear testing. Even Berlin, discussed passionately and at length, struck the Prime Minister as "small beer compared to the destruction of humanity."
Small beer.
And half-a-sandwich.
Hold the nukes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

showing up

Last night a guy came in looking for work: he looked familiar from somewhere -- I could not place him. When I requested his name, so I could identify his photograph in the computer, and he answered me -- bingo! He was possibly the most obnoxious student I encountered in a brief few months of substituting in the local public school, three years ago.

As a sub, you're essentially a "guest star" -- it's fun. Sure, some kids "test" the subs but they weren't bad to me. I think they could tell I liked them. Not many could push me to think [never say, but think] -- "My goodness, this person is obnoxious and I don't know what to do to increase his or her fun and learning and decrease the rotten behavior!!"

Not many -- maybe three, total. And one of them shows up here.

I asked if he graduated -- No. But -- "I'm getting my G-E-D."

Couldn't remember exactly WHAT he did that ticked me off -- think the main thing was, he was ruining art class for the three students sitting at the desk "island" with him. It was like -- they weren't allowed to learn, or participate in a positive way, either. He wasn't gonna let 'em.
That's what got me. And the way he just sat there, thinking of what horrid thing he could say or do next. It was like a Campaign.

People drift in and out of your life experience.
Floating in the space of the Time You're Here.
(Once I met Chuck Berry.
Stood in line to shake hands with him, on an Indian Reservation.)

Roll over, Beethoven.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Voh Cab You Larry

Episodes of "The Sopranos" this weekend on A & E Channel:
they cut the f-word and other obscenities on that channel --
consequently the dialogue in this particular show ends up sounding
all --
rrmh [blank space] [sputter] [meaningless syllable] b-b-b
"mother jumper"...

a LOT of missing Audio.

From what could make out, however -- noticed
a joke-style, or type, that they used on "All In The Family."
Archie Bunker used to get words wrong...

A few weeks ago Tony's (nephew, I think) referred enthusiastically to -- "saw you in Law & Order, The S-U-V..."

yesterday -- Tony, commiserating with a widow -- "What with Vito passing, and all that that entrailed..."
(Entrail = guts -- Tony meant "entailed"...
no laugh track on that show, to tell us, or lead us, in response, so the audience has to be listening...)
I wish I could remember some of Archie Bunker's fabulous blunders -- something about these modern films with "nudidity" in them...


Friday, May 7, 2010


This British election has my mind all in a tangle.
I don't really know how it works over there;
thought I did;

I thought, there are three candidates for Prime Minister; one will get the most votes (popular? or electoral college, like ours? ) -- and one candidate out of the three would win, based on votes.

But if you read this article from May 7 New York Times, entitled, "British Voters Swing to Tories, but Majority is in Doubt" you realize they've got a whole system there that's more complicated than ours -- apparently they count up how many votes for each of the parties -- Conservatives ("Tories"), Labour, and Liberal Democrats -- and then they somehow ARGUE about who is going to be Prime Minister.

I can't explain it because I don't understand it; read the article.

Also -- learned the voting isn't only in England -- it's in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. That's another thing I was unclear on -- those are all four separate countries, and yet they do stuff together -- think, the four together are "Great Britain."

Man, I'm ignorant. Gotta find out.

They only campaign for a month.
And -- no paid advertising on TV, just an amount of time set aside for each party to use, to present their message to the viewing public.
(This would seem to have the clear result of much less Influence on government by Big Money and Special Interests -- I'd bet insurance companies, for one example, have considerably less clout with their Parliament than they do with Our Congress.)

"Money doesn't talk, it swears."
--(Bob Dylan)


Thursday, May 6, 2010

promises vs. dire predictions

Election in England -- today, or tomorrow, the 7th??
Maybe tomorrow here, but today there.
Or other way around, with Time Difference.

Three candidates:
Gordon Brown, Labour Party
David Cameron, Conservative Party
Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Party

Last Friday, arrived home at night after work -- on C-Span was feature about political advertising: unlike here in U.S., in England they don't allow paid advertising for political campaigns on television. Instead some air time is given, set aside, for each candidate and they can say their message in that time.

It's to prevent money from being too big a factor in elections.

C-Span ran some of the program of each candidate. Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron used same technique: their ad (or, "program") consisted of a sarcastic satire of what conditions would be like in their country if the other guy won. Brown's program painted a dark picture of how terrible things would be if Cameron wins; Cameron's program predicted drastic problems if Brown were to win.

I was walking around my house, doing things, and listening to this.
(Pajamas and socks on; cat food and fresh water for the furry-man; ice water; dishes; put things away; face-wash, moisturizer...)
And was just thinking, "I wish they would say, in a positive manner, what they themselves are going to DO, instead of predicting disaster from the other one," when --
Nick Clegg came on and did that.

He didn't talk about the other two; he was filmed walking toward the camera -- like, "moving forward," and talking about the good things his administration would accomplish for the people, if he is elected. (There were a bunch of pieces of paper strewn around him and behind him, on the grass -- think that was to represent broken promises under other administrations, not sure....).

The sad fact -- Nick Clegg is, I'm guessing, the candidate who can't win. The fact that the other two engaged in almost identical tearing-down of one another and seemed to ignore Clegg -- that probably means they are the two with the best chance to win, so they slip down immediately into the ubiquitous and obnoxious "negative campaigning."



Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a cab driver's shoe

On Google, type in
The New York Times, and hit "enter"
then type in, after the words "new york times":

restaurant review - the bowery

and you should get a review entitled "Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria," written by Sam Sifton, beginning with the words "Freud said cultural achievement and sensual pleasure pull in opposite directions."

I love reading stuff like this, don't know why.
prose like this -- "Now, there is Pulino's. You can sit at the bar there, drink Campari and read the newspaper,...feeling grand under a ceiling that soars above a checkerboard floor, surrounded by distressed mirrors, chicken-wire glass, towering walls...."

It's just fun.

He describes the chef's cooking as both "rustic" and "urban."
All right.

"Mr. Appleman [the chef at Pulino's] isn't interested in beauty. Unsightly on its face is steak, which he serves with anchovy butter, potatoes, rosemary and Parmesan. It looks like the heel of a cabdriver's shoe, with a pile of dodgy potatoes beside it that might be fries or some kind of baked error. But it makes for fantastic eating, with a sear on it perhaps an eighth of an inch thick, under which soft, rosey meat blooms to complement the starch.

There is splendor beneath its surface."

And, at the end of the review:
"Pulino's can be punishingly loud, particularly when the walls on the east side of the room are open to blatting trucks on the Bowery and everyone's shouting into the din. But it is beautiful, and the service has the practiced excellence of first-class air travel or Parisian bistros. The restaurant is a vision of Manhattan that, like all of Mr. McNally's projects, is at once entirely fake and entirely accurate."

And accurate.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

a scream

Plastic surgery (yuck).

This weekend, saw a show on TV about "stars' plastic surgery" -- I tell myself later, "You didn't have to watch that."

You get sucked in. Like morbid fascination. It's so weird, it's interesting.
I -- shudder on seeing and hearing about appearance-altering / modifying procedures some celebrities (both the talented and the merely famous) get done to themselves. (I sit there and think, in horror, "They pay for this? -- You couldn't pay me a million dollars to have that done to my body."

It's unbelievable -- beautiful, talented, interesting women have all this stuff -- nose changed, chin -- I don't know -- lump -- put in, breast enlarging things implanted (ewoooh!), and those pillowy, artificial, clown-lips that don't look good on Anybody (if a person doesn't have beautiful, full lips naturally then fake ones are going to be Too Big for your Face) -- that's where you realize these folks have truly lost perspective.

What really bends logic and makes my head start to feel like it's going to explode is, these people were Beautiful Already.
Beautiful Already - !!!!!! In the first place. Before the expense, the pain, the time spent recuperating, all that --

it would be like, if I were already a billionaire, had that much money and security, everything, and then I went out and got myself beaten up in a fight because somebody paid me $400 to do it. Granted, I'd have $400 that I didn't have before. But is that worth it? Does it make sense to do that?

A young lady who was in the singing group Destiny's Child -- Kelly Rowland -- according to that program, she had larger breasts put on. Or -- in.
Ick, yuck. She was perfect, and beautiful, already. Why would she select to take the risks of unnecessary surgery? AND -- she was already beautiful. Larger breasts do not necessarily mean more beautiful, more sexy. It's just conforming to someone else's look, or something.

I try to think up reasons why people would do this.
They're already a star.
They already have the money, the deal.
They're achieved their initial goals.
All they have to do now is -- a), not screw it up, and b), find the next step of Fulfillment in their life.
What're they thinking?

The only answer I could really come up with is, Conformity. It's a trend, and they're going with it.

And why do I care? I realized when I thought about my own feelings, that I have powerful belief in the beauty, worth, and interesting-ness of individuals, and therefore -- different kinds of beauty, intelligence, talents, etc. And it sort of offends me, I guess, to see people "messing with" what they have instead of celebrating it, and appreciating it, and being grateful. Consciously, I have no opinion about these things and I wouldn't want to focus on anything so silly and shallow.

But subconsciously, apparently I somehow have a belief that people should be good "custodians" of their talents, and their bodies, their faces, their minds, their beauty. (Think Bible says something about being a "good steward" of what God gives us. -- Hell-I-don't-know.)

And maybe the reason why some people become so wrapped up and obsessed with the physical, tangible aspects of beauty and sexiness is because -- those are the aspects they can control and influence.
And -- there's a segment of the medical industry Making Money from people's dissatisfaction with their bodies and commensurate elective surgeries. If somebody can make money from it, then it will become A Trend.

On that program that I watched, one of the commenting-announcers said something which I said ten years ago -- that because of the trends in cosmetic surgery, people in Hollywood are starting to all look alike. ... It's kind of like that movie, "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers"....