Posts Tagged ‘propaganda’

The news is fun lately, isn’t it?  I mean, not that it was ever fun like woooo! but it’s definitely more fun like take shelter! and honestly, that’s not my favorite sort of fun.  Rather than continue on lamenting the lack of wooo! news, I’d just like to put in a plea for disclaimers.  Most people are pretty good at hollering SPOILER ALERT so that they , hopefully, don’t reveal the ending of a given book, situation, movie, plot for those that are planning to engage but haven’t yet.  I deeply appreciate this since I hardly ever get around to seeing or reading things as soon as they happen and I don’t like to have endings just tossed about.  But I need spoiler alerts on more things.

In particular, I need to be spoiled on graphic violence, cruelty to animals and people, heartbreaking, irreparable situations and so forth.  Just today, I read part of a terrible article about a terrible thing that happened to something helpless in a country where folks felt like they had no choice but to do that terrible thing.  It showed up in my feed, so I didn’t even get the chance of a headline (not that it would have helped) as a hint to rush past and I would not have read that article had I known I was going to get graphic detail about what happened.  Also, that video you posted about the loyal dog refusing to leave someone’s side after a tragic situation?  Please, take down the picture associated.  Last night I was reading a book whose jacket stated that it was a mystery tangentially related to a flood happening 60 years previous.  So when I encountered the detailed description of how a person drowns and what it looks like I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t unread it.  The author couldn’t know how I would feel about that, but I sure could have used some warning, rather than just words flung down on the page in the middle of what was a previously gentle paragraph.  SPOILER ALERT: I’m fragile.  No, seriously.

So it’s my own fault.  I don’t NEED to click on the article with a clear headline about abuse or disaster.  In fact, there is no way that’s going to enrich my life.  Unfortunately, in the very same places I get the news I want to see, I also find headlines that all but explain other tragic and terrible stories.  You certainly are thinking this is an ostrich in the sand sort of moment and you probably are also thinking that folks like me are the reason we can’t solve epidemics of abuse or haul nations back onto their feet.  I’m okay with that because I don’t function well when I’m mentally bruised.  I can’t make a difference in anyone’s life if I’m overwhelmed by terrible thoughts and memories.  I’d rather be a happy, productive, whole person than read about or see images of horror. Unless I’m prepared.  So please, CNN, spoiler alerts.


I was feeling particularly outraged last week.  It didn’t take much to send me off ranting and raving, what with the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell shenanigans kicking off the week.  A plan?  Really?  We’re only just now going to start devising a plan to fire fewer people for being gay?  I’m glad we’re going to need a study on how to do that.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy being oppressed.

But this has nothing to do with that (except for the outrage, that’s there, sure).  This has everything to do with an interview Michelle Obama gave at the White House on the Today show.  I couldn’t even hear what she was saying because I was distracted by her arms.  Her BARE arms.  In the background, I could see piles of snow outside her window.  But there she was, chatting with the interviewer (wearing dark colors and a heavy looking suit) in her BARE ARMS.  It was the sort of thing she’s known for wearing now, but I’m not particularly concerned about her personal style.  Because next to her and the snow and the BARE ARMS all I could see was my soon overdue gas bill.  The astronomically expensive gas bill generated by heating our house to just above shivering for a month.  I have kept the thermostat in the upper 50s in the house of a pregnant woman in order to keep our bank account from zeroing out.

It isn’t about energy-saving or insulation.  I’m taking steps to see what can be done to improve the situation.  In a record-breaking icy winter, it’s not surprising everyone is…well, surprised by their astronomically expensive gas bills.  My outrage is about her BARE ARMS and the luxury of being able to have BARE ARMS in her home.  It’s winter.  People cannot afford to heat their homes.  Even people have not lost jobs, lost wages, slipped away form cost of living increases.  But at the White House, it’s apparently so warm that Michelle Obama is uncomfortable with sleeves.

Humor the masses.  Put on a cardigan.

I was surprised at my reaction to her arms.   Whether it’s something she threw on or something carefully selected by a stylist, it was the wrong decision.   It read as a unnecessary display of wealth in an economy that can’t recover.  Thanks Michelle Obama and the White House staff for making me feel like the poverty line has become unreachable.


Posted: 2 January 2010 in observations
Tags: ,

We welcomed the new year by buying a new TV.  This is something I’ve avoided for years.  I was suckered into…I mean convinced…by my wife to get a bigger TV a few years ago since ours was all green on one side and the football players were impossible to see on the field.  Our sole qualification was bigger and functional, so we upgraded. Unfortunately, we did not have the foresight to put our money toward a flat screen.

Look, HD was still new the last time I gave in to buying a TV.

Still, she played on my desire not to have a TV at all by pushing the ‘flat is less’ philosophy.  It’s true.  I am thrilled that the new TV is so much less noticable.  I’m beyond thrilled.  It is the best thing that’s happened to me this year! Well, and if you’re going to watch TV, you might as well watch something crisp and clear.  And wow is it beautiful.

So yes, I’m joining the 20th century.  Pretty.

Well, according to Igor Panarin, we are in some trouble here.  Among his dire predictions for 2010: civil war, national disintegration and, worst of all, moral degradation (reputable, but longer, Wall Street Journal article here). That’s right folks, this former KGB analyst is terribly concerned about the moral degradation of the United States starting very, very shortly.

I dredged up this article while looking for appropriately apocalyptic tales with which to regale you.  It is the end of the decade, after all.  Other stunning possibilities for 2010: an attempt to clone a “famous person”(at least the article didn’t say famous celebrity); Rupert Murdoch will block Google’s access to his news sites (say goodbye to free news, freedom of information and equality in access to information and hello to an even wider information gap that shows a bias toward wealth, first world residency and education among other things); World War III (images of destruction); and, the ever worrisome 5% tax on cosmetic surgery.

I haven’t got any of my own predictions for 2010, but I’m certainly counting on a brighter year than this.

Well, well, well.  Times have changed, haven’t they?  I’d say I didn’t know what caused it, but I do.  It’s all this pure countryside living.  Either that or the fertility clinic we went to this summer.  I know, I didn’t tell you it was coming.  Think of it this way, we didn’t really tell anyone.  Not even our parents.  Okay, ESPECIALLY not our parents. And now we’re in trouble, knocked up, in a delicate condition, pregnant.

D, in particular is pregnant, but isn’t that what you say?  We’re pregnant?  It’s amazing how early a woman’s body quickly belongs to the collective once she’s bearing a child.  I give myself a good mental smack every time I think it in an effort to psychologically give her her body back, but I’m thwarted at every turn.  For example, several people took the liberty of hugging us today when shared the news.  This is work folks, we are colleagues, we don’t hug.  Don’t even get me started on the way many pregnancy books manage to marginalize both the mother and any partner she has that isn’t her straight, American, husband.  Like I said, don’t get me started.

You might have questions.  How, in fact, did two hot, sexy women such as yourselves manage to conceive the miracle of life? We selected sperm from a bank, we shipped it to a doctor, he injected it into her uterus twice (once in August and once in September), she got pregnant.  Here’s what we didn’t do: we did not tell our other “trying” friends the number of our donor (I’ve heard that occurs), we did not take any fertility drugs and we did not tell people we were attempting to fertilize an egg.

Honestly, we’re still a little queasy about the idea of thwarting evolution at all, but have opted to become glassy-eyed with baby thoughts instead of considering the damage we’ve done to the human race by electing to use artificial means of conception.  Well, she’s queasy for entirely different reasons.  So, details: she’s 13 weeks, due in late June, we’re not going to find out the sex, and I won’t be numbing your eyes with baby chat here.

Two things – check out the page at the top titled “Plus One”.  If baby talk is your thing you can find me at Counting Chickens.  That’s it for this pregnancy public service announcement.

Points for not shunning me.

I’ve never lived in a house of my own.  I’ve never lived in an actual house as an adult and I had no idea there was such baggage attached.  No, it isn’t the responsibility of the mortgage payment.  It’s not changing the air filters or mowing the lawn.  It isn’t getting to walk around naked with all the blinds open and then remembering you have nosy neighbors.

No one told me about the pressure around the holidays.

People, I thought the excessive stars and stripes on July 4th were over the top.  First one house, then another and soon practically every brick ranch had a flag streaming in the wind.  Shiny ones and heavy cloth ones.  Big ones and ones with satiny gold trim.  Some houses even took the extra step to jam into the ground some sort of cartoony independence day flag with fireworks emblazoned on it.  I didn’t see it as a competition then, oh no.  Just a friendly little (okay, big) show of spirited decor.  Ho, ho!  We’re all such patriotic pals!

That was this summer.  Now, it’s a whole new ball game and it’s an all-stars invitational.

First, I saw a few single candle lights appear in a few, isolated windows.  How cute, I thought.  How very Virginian.  Then it snowed.  Oh, it was beautiful.  Trees popped up in warm, glowing living rooms.  Decorations sparkled and tiny lights twinkled from deep inside evergreen bows.  We were with them.  Our tree is evergreen (because it’s plastic) and a weird assortment of sentimental ornaments jangle on the branches.  In our neighborhood, I suspect the trappings of religion are tucked away behind the shower of lights but the outward focus is less religion and more padding the pockets of the electric company.  I’m sorry, I mean celebration of the season.

Lest I sound like a grinch, I’ll reveal that I grew up in a decorated house.  My father put his light-based spirit on the outside and my mother spewed crazy on the inside.  No surprise there.  So we had strings of lights on the eaves with big, fat colored bulbs.  And that was it.  My father was more interested in using our limited cash for presents than lighting up the neighborhood.  I’ll admit I was jealous of the sparkling string of blue lights across the street, the fake snowman on the lawn down the way and the blinking extravaganza next-door that lit my bedroom like sunshine.

I didn’t realize the pressure he was under.  Every night, D and I drive home and there are more light displays.  Just tonight there were four new nets of lights draped over round bushes.  Red velvet bows are casting shadows on boughs of green wound around stairwell banisters and wreaths tacked on front doors.  There is our dark house, sitting quietly amid the commotion.  Like my father, we weighed our options and sided with the minimum.  A tree makes my wife happy and gives off enough heat that I can lower the heat a few more degrees.  I’m kidding!  Sort of…

Is it like this in your neighborhood?  Is there a burgeoning sense of guilt as the neighbors dip their properties into sparkles, lights and inflatable santas patting white wire deer?  I know you’ve seen those deer.  This isn’t the sort of neighborhood you’d drive through just to see the lights, but it has its fair share of people who wished they lived there.  I’m glad they don’t though.  Because here, I can make sure they stand out.

If you asked me what sort of family I come from, I’d say “close”.  Maybe even “very close”.  Yes, one sister is a crackpot (and that goes for all of us – I’m sure I’m someone else’s crackpot) and my mother never tells us anything (“oh honey, that dog’s been dead for months now”) but we’re close enough that we share gales of laughter together.  We’d do it more often if they lived closer, but we’re on the east coast and they are…well, not.

Both sisters and my parents (and every last stitch of extended family) are a plane flight away.  This wasn’t a problem ten years ago.  I flew everywhere.  San Francisco on the weekend, Johannesburg, London, Rio.  In the pre-TSA days, my mother dumped me onto planes from five forward, just to fly to see my grandparents.  Alone.  Suffice to say, I’ve been around the aviation block.

Somewhere in all of this, I lost the traveling bug.  I’d much rather drive than fly and really, I’d rather stay nearby.  As time goes by, it’s less “I’d rather not fly” and more “I’m avoiding flying”. I’m not afraid of crashing, through frankly, it seems a much more reasonable fear than it used to be.  It’s more the restriction of personal freedom on a public conveyance.  If I need to use the bathroom, I will (as long as it’s safe).  I’d like to be able to move my arms (even as a skinny little kid my shoulders hit the edges of the seat and I’m not doing any better now).  I’m not a fan of being sprayed down with disinfectant in a sealed plane (never happened to you?  Be thankful).  But mostly, I don’t want to spend hours without air on a hot piece of pavement.

No, really.  I’m Tucson born and so I’m familiar with the particular form of torture that comes with onboard idling, cabin power off, in summer heat.  There have been times I’ve sat there so long, breathing so much stale air that the world got grey on the edges.  I’ve had flight crews apologize (though they no longer seem to) for sealing the flight up and letting it toast in the sun but acknowledge that due to another plane with a problem, power problems with our own or downright aviation orneriness, that no one was going to get a breath in edgewise til the plane took off.  I’ve been trapped off of planes, too.  Once, in Miami, they cleared everyone into a gate for a Brazil-bound flight, shut the security gates behind us and closed the airport.  The bathrooms and water fountains were on the other side of the gate.  That was a very long six hours.  It also was before TSA.

I’ve already put off going to see my sisters this year, but I would have eventually given in and bought a plane ticket next year.  Now I’m not so sure. The fact that Congress has to legislate to allow people to disembark in a common sense situation is ridiculous.  Congress, please spend your time making laws protecting me from being fired because I’m gay.  Better still, get around to kicking DOMA back under the rock from whence it came.  It is unbelievable that existing laws require additional legislation to ensure human compassion.

Will we fly again?  Of course, but not without dread.  Will we forgo trips to Paris in favor of trips to Nantucket?  Yes.  Will we drive every chance we get?  Yes.  Because I would rather further subsidize foreign oil for my individual conveyance and sacrific oodles of vacation time than have to sit next to you in a tiny little steel case breathing the same air for hours on end while slowly choking on my own claustrophobia and dripping sweat.  No offense.