samedi, mars 14, 2009


At my gym, we usually have one TV muted to CNN, one tuned to FOX, and one to CNBC. For some reason, the ellipticals I normally use are in front of CNBC.

That last cable channel has never been a fav of mine--I find those endless flashing numbers very distracting. Add Jim Cramer to the numbers, and I find it almost impossible to focus--that guy would not be out of place as the fool at the court of some 16 century King.

Which is a shame, because Cramer's a smart guy. Comedy Central's Jon Stewart took Jim Cramer to the cleaners this week for being in bed with corporate America and for not doing enough to predict the economic collapse.

Cramer acted penitent. While he was on the show. See Allesandra Stanley's take on the dialogue linked above.

But it wasn't long before Cramer was back to his old quackery, according to this article from the ezine Salon.

Should Jon Stewart, who dissected Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala of CNN a while ago for doing their idiotic screaming and yelling routine, be the keeper of our national conscience? Probably not . But I'd rather be in bed, metaphorically (and, come to think of it, literally) with Jon Stewart and his moral compass than with Jim Cramer and his labile foolery anyday.

vendredi, mars 13, 2009

A Gadarene Rush?

I clipped this from a front page story in a liberal magazine--written by a prominent conservative who has been a sharp critic of Limbaugh. The conservative, David Frum, is already being reviled as a turncoat, and, hmm...words I can't print on a family blog.

Forty-one percent of independents have an unfavorable opinion of him, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll. Limbaugh is especially off-putting to women: his audience is 72 percent male, according to Pew Research. Limbaugh himself acknowledges his unpopularity among women. On his Feb. 24 broadcast, he said with a chuckle: "Thirty-one-point gender gaps don't come along all that often … Given this massive gender gap in my personal approval numbers … it seems reasonable for me to convene a summit."

Let me state up front that I'm one of that 72 percent of women who doesn't have time for Rush. But I don't have time for Bill Maher, or Rachel Maddow. Who needs the rants? How are they helping us get out of the mess we are in? We don't need anyone else to foment hate or division, or self-righteousness.

If the Republicans were in better shape as a party, the attempt to pin Rush to their masthead would be seen as the cheap trick is it--not that the Republicans haven't done pretty much the same thing in the past.

That being said, I get a certain amount of comfort from reflecting that egotists like Limbaught and Maher fit in a long American tradition of idiosyncratic figures with an eye to the camera and a flair for populist rhetoric. Remember the names of Huey Long and Fr. Charles Coughlin? I didn't until I ran across them in the DQ's social studies textbook. As in the 1930's, we are in a moment when appeals to populism and to angry white men will find eager audiences.

But to give the Mahers and the Limbaughs more importance than that of spokesmen for pissed off liberals and rightwingers is to dignify the tactics of division.

In other times, when we are not teetering on the edge, the blowhard posturing might seem laughable. After all these guys are clowns.

Yet in a world where we are all linked in one way or another, for better and for worse, their provoking word rile up a base which never really needs much excuse to get angry.

As for the rest of us...perhaps laughter is our only hope.

mercredi, mars 11, 2009

Across generations

He's in his twenties. And, obviously, he's a guy. But I read this, and I thought--damn, he "gets it"! you think he would be my friend? I better find a way to get his email addy....

Is breast always best?

I have a confession.

For years, I have gone around beating myself up because I only briefly breast-fed my kids.
I blame myself, and my own inability to master the routine or recover fast enough from postpartum depression, for a multiplicity of ailments affecting them, from ADD to that possible five point gap in intelligence.

I still recall a park chat with a women who saw me with young Mr. C, probably with a bottle of formula pressed between his newborn lips.

Unasked, she came over and earnestly discoursed on how much better it was to breastfeed him.

When the topic of breast-feeding comes up in chats with women friends, I keep quiet, or meekly agree how much better it is for a child. After all, I'm sure that most of them, being white, upper-middle-class women, did indeed make the right choice.

Now an article in the Atlantic by Hanna Rosin provides at least partial absolution for women like me.

There's a distinctive feminist slant to this piece which might be a little offputting by itself. I suppose that's because I am so averse to the idea of rights--as in, I have a "right" to feed my child formula so I wouldn't have to pump at the office. It's also a little reassuring, cutting as she does through the halo of the "perfect mother" persona we seem to try so hard to attain. Yes, we have egos. Yes, a lot of us have jobs. Yes, we love our kids but they drive us nuts sometimes.

But twinned as it is to Rosin's discussion of breastfeeding facts and myths over the past centuries, I can see her point. There apparently isn't enough conclusive evidence that breastfeeding gives kids a huge edge to make it a moral flaw not to.

If the research doesn't support the vast superiority of breastfeeding, then why is it that women feel the need not only make a cult of it, but use it as a stick to beat other women with?

Honestly, I don't have an answer. And I can bet that this article is going to get a vast wave of smackdowns, both literary and perhaps scientific.

But for now, I just want to tell Rosin how grateful I am to her for cutting a couple of links in the virtual chains that I've been carrying around for years.

I'm guessing that there are lots of other women out there who feel the same.

lundi, mars 09, 2009

Plan B

"Don't give so much of yourself away" she says to me. And, looking back over my recent history with guys, that's pretty much what I have been doing.

It's tough to feel like I am in college again again-turning myself into a virtual pretzel for any guy I think isn't a hopeless jerk. Or addict. Or swinger. Or felon.

Not overtly--I mean, I don't have boot marks on my legs from letting them walk over me.

It's more subtle, and at times, perhaps unintended. The email revelations that somehow never find their way into coffeehouse dialogue. The disdainful and sometimes rude responses in a telephone conversation that really should have ended ten minutes ago, when I started to intuit the edge that he can't quite hide. The realization that if he can't be honest with you, it's a pretty good guess that he's lying to himself.

I need to be done with this kind of, excuse the word, crap. If the alternative means no more romantic relationships, (gulp), I'll have to face into that. Or if I need to adjust my expectations, perhaps I should seriously consider that, too.

But for a woman my age to play these kinds of games is ridiculous, frankly. Its possible that what I'm looking for in them, lies within myself. Or that there are other places I can get that kind of sustenance.

As much as I want a healthy, interdependent relationship, I know it isn't supposed to "hurt so good." Maybe when I was young and stupid.

What's my excuse now?