labor, smears, fixes: why #HCR matters to me

20090922: added embed of Paul Hipp's YouTube video.

Listening to the on-going brouhaha over health care reform, I realize that I'm forced to admit that I'm more liberal than I think am. A meme I encountered on Facebook had a supporting role in forcing this realization.

You see, I think of my political views as moderate to conservative since I do occasionally agree with the likes of Scalia; and I'm a proponent of a "classical education" albeit without an integration of the Christian worldview.

But I guess in the final analysis, there's no escaping my working class background -- one of social constructs where neither of my parents had a college degree and I knew that my mom was a member of the union the I.B.E.W. (And, later in life I got a thrill learning that I.A.T.S.E. is the union I'd join if I continue to work in theatre.) My dad was a laborer whose own mother worked as the hired help for a family whose daughter attended an equally exclusive but less academic private school as the one I attended but couldn't affford even with financial aid.

My mom grew up in a racialized world of the South. Also, I have a much older brother who served in Vietnam and was very involved with the Civil Rights movement. I have a very strong memory of this brother and our mom who'd had him as a teen discussing the merits of armed conflict in South Africa. So I heard stories and political talk forged by sleights that family survived. And even where it was embellished, there's also truth there.

I think health insurance is worthy of being a right and not a privilege. I write that from the safety of middle class privilege and our family is still just a paycheck or two -- my partner's alone, not ours combined -- from financial despair. So for me, it's not a big deal for health insurance to be a mandate. If that means moving towards socialism so be it. But perhaps socialism isn't so antithetical to capitalism, or the mythic US way of life. (Clearly, we can attribute some of the implied resistance on these matters relates to the fact that people don't even understand the words being batted about. Cf., The New York Times (NYT) editors's aggregation "What ‘Socialism’ Means to the Masses".)

In this day and age, I think we need to move beyond narrow definitions and strict lines. People fail to realize the extent to which they vote against their own best interests because their voting is an act based on the world they need to believe the US is, not the reality:

80% of the uninsured have full-time jobs. 62% of all bankruptcies in the US are because of unpaid medical bills. 75% of those actually have health insurance. Enough is enough, time for reform. If you agree, please post this as your status for the next 24 hours.
I read these stats in a high school friend's Facebook status, and I re-posted them; she got them on Facebook from her Massachusett's state rep Kate Hogan who serves the 3rd Middlesex District. Hopefully, we're all mature enough to admit that when statistics get elevated (or demoted) to bite size portions in the blogosphere, we basically have PR spin via numbers. So we have a collective responsibility to question what's behind the data. However, in this instance quibbling over the specifics...fails to erase what I find to be a sad sad state for such a rich democratic nation even if tweaked:
80% of the uninsured come from families with full-time or part-time workers. Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical.... Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three-quarters had health insurance.

Which is not to say that Obama has all the answers. Or Bauchus. No one has the best magic beans in their basket. But the status quo isn't sufficient either. Anything approximating a real solution restores dignity to being sick in the US. Or, as Paul Hipp's song and video put it, is there any glory in being #37?

Today and yesterday, too many who needed and wanted medically necessary treatments failed to get that which should be more readily available. Yes, it will cost -- as do all things that over the long term has some benefits we need (e.g., compulsory education -- and, we still are fumbling there largely because can't admit there's not one answer for every child or every locale; similarly, for any progress, public school students remain at the mercy of policy wonks with 19th century mindsets living in the rarefied air of the ol' plantation's main residence, aka the big house—"a term connoting not so much the physical size of the house as the power and authority it represented.")[1]

Must we write off another portion of society because we can't be bothered to care how easy it is to fall. Remember vouchers hasn't been much of an answer to the public education problem. The solution needs to be one that either we all have or if choice is involved it's has to be useful menu and one that any one of us wouldn't object to if we had to use that plan.

So rather than argue with those with sketchy half-truths, perhaps we all need to go find a good book that speaks some truths to some fictions. One candidate is The Healing of America by The Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid; of it, NYT review said:

The Healing of America blends subjective and objective into a seamless indictment of our own disastrous system, an eloquent rebuttal against the arguments used to defend it, and appealing alternatives for fixing it.

Whichever side is declared the victor, I still have a fantasy where social networks get more folks thinking critically. How's that for a pessimist trying to be optimistic?

[1] Encyclopedia of Alabama, August 2009 Plantation Architecture in Alabama - Last accessed on the 20th of September 2009


wondering what it says about me & my relationship to my tween that yesterday I was thrilled to realize (from browsing Make) that I could actually buy used pallets instead of scrounging or, worse yet, having to talk to store clerks


A quote for the day

... Don't waste too much effort in searching for conspiracies. Most of the harm done in the world is out of stupidity, not by design. Be on the watch for skulduggery...but don't fall into the trap of thinking that every evil thing that occurs in the world in part of some diabolic master plan. The notion that whatever is wrong with the world can be blamed on somebody (never, of course, one's self) is a rather infantile carryover from the childhood days when our parents were thought to be all-powerful and therefore all-responsible.
     + Gerard K. O'Neill, 2081 (1981)


a striking book cover, Femmes of Power: Exploding Queer Femininities

Preparing to post some old photos on Facebook, I've had to re-trace forgotten moments, i.e., before having a child - back when we entertained and attended lectures. There were some photos from a reading or lecture by Joan Nestle, who I haven't thought of in ages. (See what parenthood does!) And that is what unblinking led to this seemingly innocous entry. via joannestle.blogspot.com
More book info:


on thinking about citylife and graffiti

originally posted to Prince of Petworth in response to "New Apartments At Georgia Ave. and New Hampshire Gets Tagged And I Get Intimidated By Street Thugs".

Cities reflect its creators/developers first, then they are enhanced/redacted/molded by those of us who live in it AND choose to have a presence. And, the latter ain't easy whether regardless of color or place of origin.

The exchanges above reminded me of a Peter Ackroyd quote I posted here 20080403:

Cities do not change over the centuries. They represent the aspirations of particular men and women to lead a common life; as a result their atmosphere, their tone, remain the same. Those people whose relations are founded principally upon commerce and upon the ferocious claims of domestic privacy will construct a city as dark and as ugly as London was. And is. Those people who wish to lead agreeable lives, and in constant intercourse with one another, will build a city as beautiful and as elegant as Paris. (from Dickens)
We live in relationship to our cities and towns. And, each of us has a temperament that reacts differently to the surroundings. I've not witnessed a shooting or seen someone killed right before me but there's been no shortage of shady things or death's leftovers. I've only lived in urban areas. Yet, DC feels the most foreign but that could just be a function of my aging.

I've lived in Petworth for over 3 years. Before that it was in Dorchester, MA; and backwards respectively: Jamaica Plain, MA; Providence, RI; and Memphis, TN. The color of my skin is Brown and I am a mom. I was raised to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am". I know how to be a lady and choose to dress for comfort. That means I've scared little old ladies when exiting from the women's restroom; and, once was hassled at the local bodega b/c well...he was certain I was shoplifting (in reality I was rushing, I'd left something simmering on the stove a few blocks away, needed a can of something, and found the store lacking.)

But when I went to college people often told me that my affect, or demeanor, made them think me from NYC. In discussion, it seem to boil down to the fact that I had good ego boundaries and nothing bothered me. I'm not easily rattled -- generally. College is also when I had the epiphany that I was working class. So it is a solidly middle class household into which our child arrived.

This boy child feels safe in the interiors we control but he's also privy what he gleans from the streets we walk en route to school, the park, etc. Inside he knows our house where he has some 300+ that are his he knows his life is different from many of his public school peers. He's come of age in Dorchester and DC, and it's safe to say he'd rather live in the suburbs, or if in DC be closer to 16th where there's no grafitti -- and, where he imagines that the brown-skinned males he'd see would be less threatening.

So, my temperament differs remarkedly from my 10 year old who's only lived in DC and Dorchester. He's constantly rattled by normal city things -- people, sounds, cops -- things we'd not expose him to if we had control but when it's a crime scene in front of your house, or in the block next to you...or the kids who talk of guns in a way that exudes familiarity to him even if I might know it to be bluster...or his keen eyes always spots our neighborhood as we intentionally scan past the TV news channels -- that's how he found out about the body at Ronan Park where he'd no longer go and play. Is it wonder that he doesn't like being out after dark. He doesn't run the streets so what he sees confuses him. So he's truly a kid when he whispers to me that he thinks that girl over there on the bus is too young to be a mom. Or when he's perplexed by why anyone young or old would smoke. I don't understand tagging but I love Keith Haring. I can't skateboard but he wants to so I feel that I can't just ignore graffiti. It's ugly (often), it's communication (sometimes); and, it's part of living in a city and sometimes is a valid commentary on living and/or feeling ignored.

Having a child can make you see things differently. And, for him city life is by its very nature much more anxiety-causing. My inclination is to remain uninvolved, and more than once it's his insistence that's led to my calling [---] to deal....with the drunk neighbor wandering the street, feral cats, or whatever. DC confuses me more than other places I've lived. Yet in the last two, it's what our child doesn't see -- people involved and caring -- that keeps him scared. And, that would be true regardless of what had been tagged.


Re-post of the re-do of a Facebook mutation of a 2003 "BBC's Big List of Books They Think People Haven't Read"

I first saw it on Facebook, courtesy of Jennifer Hoffman. But, I now am wiser and that know this is merely a reconstituted meme (thanks to The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent. ).

I like to think of it as the next "25 Things" or "The three English words that end in -gry" riddle . Here's how it was presented to me:

The BBC's Big List of Books They Think People Haven't Read

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

Copy this, then open "write a note". Copy it in.
Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.

Tally your total read at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen  (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (X)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte  (X)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (X)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott 
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (X)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (X)
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell 
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy 
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh 
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (X)
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame 
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen 
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (X)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (X)
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood (X)
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding 
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan 
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel 
52 Dune - Frank Herbert (X)
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (X)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (started it 2 nites ago)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas 
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens 
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker 
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome 
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (X)
80 Possession - AS Byatt (X)
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro 
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (X) 
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White 
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (X)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (X)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams 
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (X)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (X)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl 
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo 

Methinks my tally is 25.5.


attempting to login: blip.fm

strangeness galore...first, a brief flash-y on-screen progress indicator with the blip.fm color scheme, followed by this quasi-DOS visual assault:

the oddest web moment. Error 500 courtesy of blip.fm or this PC ... on TwitPic

Happened twice.