Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear GOP Congressfolks

If you really believe that repealing health care reform is the way to go, then you have to vote your consciences.  But I just would like to know what you plan to tell the families whose children have been denied health insurance because they have asthma, or the elderly people who have had to half their prescribed medication dosages because of the Plan D donut hole. What do you plan to say to those people? Because I'm thinking that fighting to take away the advantages that this bill provides those people by November of this year, and then saying, "I did it for your own good," especially when you have insurance plans we pay for, might not be the ideal campaign strategy for your next election.

But, you know what? I totally understand that the enormous campaign contributions you've received from companies like Wellpoint and United Health and Anthem are difficult to turn away from, even if it's to provide some kind of solace to the people whose votes you seek.  So you just go on ahead and vote to repeal that health care reform, futile though it may be.

Personally, I'm looking forward to hearing your campaign speeches in the next few years.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Militant, Violent Response to Legislative Change? "Not Our Fault," says GOP leadership.

“Let’s beat the other side to a pulp!... Let’s chase them down! There’s going to be a reckoning.” - Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa to Tea Party protestors (March 21, 2010).

"Baby killer!" - Rep. Randy Neubauer (R-Tex), to Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) as he spoke on the House Floor (March 21, 2010).

"I still would like to do it, but it's still up in the air at this point. We've already started stacking firewood and building the effigy we will have a bonfire. Burning someone in effigy was just gonna be part of it." - Nigel Coleman, head of Danville Tea Party, about burning Rep Tom Perriello (D-VA) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in effigy, though even most Teabaggers think that's in bad taste.

But the GOP, including Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (who himself vowed "no cooperation for the rest of the year" with Democrats in any further legislative matters as payback) and Senator John Boehner swear that they didn't do anything to rev the kind of bile and hatred responsible for several attacks on local Democratic Party offices, including bricks through front windows.

In one particularly scary incident, Danville Tea Party head Nigel Coleman himself published what he thought was Congressman Perriello's home address on his Facebook page, encouraging people to "stop by to thank" the Congressman in person for voting in favor of health care reform.  Unfortunately, in typical half-assed Tea Party style, the address turned out to be the address of Perriello's brother.  When informed of his error, Coleman retorted that it was "collateral damage."  This was, of course, before Perriello's brother's home was vandalized, and a propane gas line to the family's outside BBQ was severed, causing what could have been a dangerous gas leak, had it not been found immediately. When questioned about this this morning on MSNBC seemed shocked that people would take his words to heart, claiming he only wanted people to "get close to the Congressman and make their voices heard."

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor went even further, blaming Democrats for causing the problem by publicizing the attacks.  He said that such publicity only "fanned the flames," and claimed that, as the only Republican Jew in the house, he's been subject to a lot of attacks but has kept them all a secret.


So this is what our political system has devolved into.  In Obama's first year in office, the stock market has rallied better than at any time in history, with the exception of FDR's presidency.  There is, at last, some kind of movement on health care, even if many of us don't think it goes far enough.  The next move, toward financial re-regulation, is in the on-deck circle.  And conservatives can only counter by cutting gas lines and throwing bricks through windows, then blaming the people who are the objects of the attacks.  

The sickness in the country is palpable, and it's something that no doctor can cure.  I suppose we've been here before, at important times in history, and we've rallied.  But it's sad to me that we have to keep going so far back to inch even a bit forward.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Read Along With Catharine

And so, another quarter in Myth Camp begins....
The Spring quarter for First Year Myth Campers consists of (as usual) three classes:
European Sacred Tradition
What it's all about, Alfie:  This course analyzes, explores, questions, and reconsiders the changing faces of the mythologies associated with the Arthurian Romances in representative Medieval, Victorian and Modern texts. 
What we're reading:
Myth and Philosophy
What it's all about, Alfie: This course examines the historical movement between myth and philosophy in Western culture. These two different but overlapping modes of discourse have been and still remain related to one another in a variety of ways. 
What we're reading:
Jungian Depth Psychology
What it's about, Alfie: This course will provide an in-depth exploration of Jung's work, and will give particular attention to key aspects of his psychology such as the symbolic process and the transcendent function, as well as the landscape of his metapsychology.
What we're reading:
Also, for the Depth Psychology class, we will be required to view Mike Newell's film, Enchanted April, and the original, 1951 version of Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still.

So, it's going to be a busy quarter.  I've started reading the Jungian Depth Psychology stuff first, since that's the part of the program I enjoy least. (Sorry, but it's true.) Even though it's my least favorite, it's still pretty interesting.  But when I say that studying for a doctorate is not like any other academic experience you'll ever have, I'm not kidding. For me, it will be interesting to see who comes back for their second year.  Nothing short of full-scale financial ruin could keep me away.  I'm hoping the passage of the new student loan legislation means that tuition money will be a bit easier to come by for me. 

But I have noticed that some of my fellow campers are still trying to work this program the way they did in high school -- memorization and regurgitation. This program is about something totally different, which is why it's so difficult to latch on to. It's about learning how to think.  Really think.  On a deeper, more poignant, more molecular level than anything we've ever been asked to do in school.  It's hard.  Really hard.  And it's bound to get harder.  Why I love it so much is a mystery to me.  I just know that this is where I'm supposed to be right now.  It is where I belong. 

Well, I'd love to stay and chat for a bit... but, hey... I've got reading to do. 


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Today, You Are 81.

Somewhere in the universe. At least, you would have been, if you were still in your last incarnation.

3/18/29 - 7/8/07 

I can't help but wonder who are or are going to be in your next one.  I just hope that you're raised by people who are more enlightened and further down the path than the last ones were.

Many happy returns, where you are, whatever you're doing, and wherever you're going.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Congratulations, Rex Roland!

Here's a big, hearty Hi-Five to Rex Roland, teacher at Enka Middle School, for winning this year's Catharine Chronicles "It Takes One To Know One" Award.

Roland, who has been teaching at Enka for twelve years now (and should damn well know better), has come to nearly national attention in the past couple of weeks because he's taken to writing "Loser" as a teacher's comment next to his grades.  Specifically, he seems to have taken a particular dislike to Patty Clement's sixth grade daughter, who has received the comment, in Roland's own hand, on her papers more than once since the beginning of the year.  Initially, Mrs. Clements complained to the principal, who assured her the comments would stop.  They did--for a while.  But I guess Mr. Roland's attention span isn't very long, because a couple of weeks ago, the little Clements girl came home with this lovely note at the top of her paper:

Mrs. Clements complained again, and this time, received an apology from Roland, but with the disclaimer that this was just his way of "relating to the kids." 

Uhhm... okayyyyy.... 

Bear in mind that Mr. Roland, according to his official bio on the Enka Middle School website, graduated from high school in 1977.  So did I, so that makes us roughly the same age.  A man in his early fifties should know enough to realize that he's never going to "relate" to middle school kids on their level.  Nor should he try. He's the past.  They're the future.  (And I say that with all the self-realization in the world.) They don't need another rude-ass peer. They need a leader, a teacher, a role model. In other words, an adult.

Since Mr. Roland seems free and easy in his ability to categorize and label people in the brashest, most hurtful way possible, I think I'll show him what if feels like to be on the other side of the harsh character judgements.  Because, to be honest, I think something's going on with him that's got nothing to do with young Miss Clements (who's just cute as a bug, if you've seen the news story on this): 1) Either Rex Roland is going through one monster of an andropause-induced mid-life crisis and has somehow jettisoned himself back into one of the cruelest and least civilized times in one's life (middle school), or 2) he's imbibing whilst grading papers.  Or perhaps a little of both.  These may seem like unfair assertions, but I'm actually giving him the benefit of the doubt.  I am choosing to believe that Roland is basically a decent middle-aged guy who has gone temporarily around the bend--nothing a little Prozac, some bio-identical testosterone and/or a 12-step program can't fix--rather than to believe he's merely an insensitive, heartless, myopic dickweed who should be stripped of his teaching credential as soon as humanly possible.  (Wait... Is dick-weed hyphenated? Hmmmm... it's not in spell-check!)

Anyway, now that The Chron thinks about it, we're not going to give Rex Roland the entire "It Takes One To Know One" Award this year.  We're going to deduct 50% from him, for being such a loser.  

Nice going, Rex.  Way to inspire and uplift.  Keep up the good work.


P.S. Hopefully, I'm not offending Mr. Roland by calling him a dick-weed.  I'm only trying to relate to him in the same, name-calling, demeaning, belittling way he believes is appropriate to use when "relating" to his students.  I'm sure he understands completely--just like the students who must suffer his mean comments.