Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Feeling Surrounded

More and more I feel like I am trapped in the last few seconds of the last scene of Act 1 of Cabaret.

Friday, November 17, 2017

We have a Culture Problem

Part of the problem with sexual harassment in this country comes from the fact that we have a culture problem.  Our culture tends to glorify, or at least condone, the sexual mistreatment of women.  In the case of Al Franken, grabbing and kissing a woman without her permission, we have very iconic examples.  Take for instance, the famous picture of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square at the end of WWII. This was not his girlfriend or even someone he knew.  He was half drunk and happy that the war was over and celebrated by kissing "the first nurse he saw" even though he was on a date with a completely different woman. 
So on this joyous and unbelievable afternoon, George ran from Rita — the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen — grabbed the first nurse he saw, spun her around, dipped her and kissed her. Rita was just steps behind them, and in the photo she’s beaming.
This picture is celebrated as culturally significant and romantic, but the woman being kissed was not too happy about it at the time.
The kiss did kind of bother someone else, though: the woman in the nurse’s uniform, Greta Zimmer, who wasn’t even a nurse. She was a 21-year-old dental assistant from Queens, who, having heard rumors about the end of the war, walked over to Times Square from her office on Lexington Avenue. George says he was so drunk, he doesn’t even remember the kiss. Greta says she’ll never forget it. [...] She isn’t sure how long she was standing there; maybe minutes. “And then I was grabbed,” she says. “That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”
And, of course, the movies are filled with scenes where a man grabs a woman and kisses her, she slaps him, then she kisses him back, which gives the impression that it was really okay all along and that being forcibly kissed without permission is what all woman secretly want.  This is a problem and sends a bad message.

Now Senator Franken has said that his actions, including the photo of him groping the accusers breasts while she sleeps, was done in the name of comedy, but that is no excuse.  Whether done for celebratory, comedic, or sexual reasons, it is wrong to kiss or touch a woman sexually without her permission. Period.

And, of course, there is the man who will probably soon be the newest Senator from my home state, the great state of Alabama, Roy Moore.  Now I can't think of any good examples of Hollywood glorifying a sexual relationship between a man in his 30s and a girl of 14, but there is probably one out there somewhere.  But there are examples of people defending his behavior as not really a problem. Oh wrong, maybe, but not really a problem. 
During a CNN interview on Monday, Brandon Moseley, a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter, argued that allegations such as the ones being leveled at Moore shouldn't disqualify the candidate. He noted that the accusation detailed in a recent The Washington Post report, in which a woman claimed Moore made sexual advances on her in 1979 when she was 14 and he was 32, would count as a misdemeanor in Alabama at the time.
"Does that make it OK?" anchor Brooke Baldwin asked.
“No. But again, if, you know, Roy Moore had stolen a lawn mower when he was 21, that’s bad, but that’s not a reason, 50 years later, to all of a sudden, you know, throw him off the ballot or let Mitch McConnell pick the next senator of Alabama," Moseley said.
Now I grew up in Alabama, so I was once a 14 year old girl in Alabama. It was the 80s not the 70s, but I doubt attitudes were much different between the two time frames.  The legal age of consent was 16, but 14 year-olds were sexually active.  There were older guys that hung out at high school football games and high school dances trolling for younger girls, and many didn't care if they were underage or not (just as people have said Moore did).  And the problem is, many of the girls parents didn't seem to mind either.  In fact, when my older sister was 15 she met a guy who was 21 at a high school dance and started dating him.  My parents allowed it.  When I was 14 years old I dated a guy who was 19 years old and my parents allowed it.  In both cases, I know for a fact that they were looking for someone that was young and malleable so that they could make them into what they wanted as a wife or girlfriend.  In the case of my older boyfriend, his girlfriend before me was 14 and his girlfriend after me was 14.  It is that age where the girls have all the look of an adult woman, but often lack the maturity or strength of mind that comes with adulthood.  That makes it perfect for the unscrupulous male predator, and don't get me wrong, that is exactly what they are - predators.  Just like Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame.
A video on YouTube shows Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, in 2009, urging adult men to marry 15 and 16 year old girls who will “pick their ducks” and not their pockets.
 And the problem is, even though Alabama law technically recognizes this as a crime, our culture tells us that it is really okay, that there is really no harm done.  That is wrong.  There is harm done.  And in fact, back in the 80s (I don't know about now) it was legal for a 14 year old to get married with parental consent.  So it wasn't okay for a 14 year old to consent to sex, but it was okay for her parents to consent to it for her.  I'm sorry (okay I'm not really sorry), but that is WRONG! In fact, apparently in Louisiana, marrying the underage girl was a way to get out of statutory rape charges. Again, see Phil Robertson as an example:

Robertson has a history of messing around with underage girls.  At age 20, he was having sex with a 14-year-old girl who got pregnant and was forced to marry her at 16 to avoid going to prison for statutory rape in Louisiana.
 So, if we are going to do something about sexual harassment in our country, we need to address our cultural issues with the topic, not just our laws.  We need to socialize our young males to realize that forced affection is not true affection and a woman's (or girl's) body is her own to make her own decisions about.  And if she is not of legal age to make those decisions, then they shouldn't ask her to make them, they should keep their hands to themselves!  And, in fact, it goes both ways.  Women should not be forcing themselves on men or boys either.  Remember, your body is your own, and your rights end where someone else's nose (or lips, or breast, or vagina, or penis, etc) begins.  It's not funny, it's not romantic, and it's not okay.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

2016 Book List

Here are the books that I read in 2016:

Speaking in Bones - Kathy Reichs
Faux Paw - Sofie Kelly
The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans
Driving Heat - Richard Castle
A Whisker of Trouble - Sofie Ryan
If Walls Could Talk - Juliet Blackwell
Dead Bolt - Juliet Blackwell
Tempest-Tost - Robertson Davies
Leaven of Malice - Robertson Davies
Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood

Only 10 books this year.  Oh, well, it seems that I just keep moving in the same direction, fewer books each year.  Mostly light reading and books in a series this year, too.  Mostly murder mysteries, with the exception of Davies, Isherwood, and Evans.  Maybe I will find more time for reading this year.  Only time will tell.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My challenge to everyone

The election is over and about half the voters are happy with the outcome and about half are not.  In reality, that is to be expected.  This is, however, something of a historic election.  For the first time, as far as I know, the United States has elected a president with no previous political or military experience.  This leads to a great deal of uncertainty.  We really have no way of knowing what to expect.  Some people are excited about the idea of change and shaking up Washington.  Others are fearful of what someone with no experience will do in a position often touted as "the leader of the free world."

So here is my challenge to everyone - the Trump supporters and the ones who oppose Trump - take a moment to think about what you expect to happen as a result of this election.

To the Trump supporter - During his campaign, Donald Trump used the slogan "Make America Great Again."  Take a few minutes to think about what that means to you, in measurable terms.  Will that mean a lower unemployment rate than what it is today?  Will it mean you personally have a high income than you have now?  Great is generic term, so what does it mean to you?  Think about it, and WRITE IT DOWN.  When it is time for the midterm elections in 2018, look back at your list and see if Trump and the Republican Congress have accomplished what you thought they would do.  There should be very little to stand in their way.  See if the policies they enact produce the result you were expecting.  If they do not, HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!

Now, to the ones who opposed Trump in this election - What do you fear about a Trump presidency and Republican controlled Congress?  Do you fear higher unemployment rates?  Do you fear losing your own job (as one of my friends has apparently already been let go due to his employer's economic fears)?  Do you fear another economic recession (or worse)?  Do you fear WWIII?  Think about it and WRITE IT DOWN.  Two years from now, look back at your list and see if any of your fears have come true.  Remember, many who voted against Obama had many of the same fears and they did not come true.  In the midterm elections, vote according to what has actually happened.

Do I think a Trump presidency and Republican controlled congress is a good thing?  No, I don't.  I do fear another recession like we had under President G.W. Bush.  I think that Republican policies have negative effects on the economy and especially on the poorer segments of the population.  Those are my fears.  However, the political rhetoric in this country has become so driven by fear mongering that a realistic discussion of issues and potential outcomes has become almost impossible.  My friend who just lost his job did so because of his employer's fear, not because of anything that Trump himself or the Republicans have actually done. 

Many of my family members voted for Trump out of fear of what Hillary Clinton might do, when they were things that were not even a part of her plan or platform.  The lies that the candidates and media tell, and the fear that they intentionally evoke, verge on being criminal in my opinion.  People have a right to their own opinions, but they don't have a right to their own version of "the facts."  The truth should always be to told, even when it is unpopular or difficult to tell.  But outright lies should be stopped.  And lies masquerading as opinions shouldn't be given a free pass no matter which side is telling them.

Now let's all take a deep breathe, don't over-react, and see what happens.  Keep calm and carry on.

Election 2016

On Monday and Tuesday, I was seeing posts about how it is almost over. Today I am seeing posts about how the election is over, and people are glad that it is over and don't want to think about the election anymore. On the one hand, that is great - no more political commercials is always a good thing in my book. However, unlike the World Series, when it is over, it isn't really over. When the Cubs won the World Series, Cubs fans got bragging rights for a year and Indians fans had to go home an lick their wounds, but the members of the Cubs baseball team didn't win control over baseball for the next year. When an election is over, the real work has just begun. 

Too often, politics is treated like sports. We have chosen our teams and too often root for them blindly. Without even realizing what we are voting for or the true consequences of our decision, we make decisions that will hurt not just others, but ourselves, in the long run.

A lot of bad decisions were made in this election cycle on both sides of the aisle. The whole country is going to have to live with the consequences for at least two years, until the midterm elections. So don't stop paying attention. This was not game 7 of the World Series. This was game 115 of a series with no set end point. We have elected America's 115th Congress. In two year we will elect the 116th, and the game goes on. But remember, it is not just a game. It has real consequences for America and the whole World. Pay attention to how your decisions affect you, your friends, neighbors, the rest of the country, and the rest of the world.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2015 Book List

Here are the books that I read in 2015.

Sleight of Paw - Sofie Kelly
Copycat Killing - Sofie Kelly
Cat Trick - Sofie Kelly
Final Catcall - Sofie Kelly
A Midwinter's Tail - Sofie Kelly
The Whole Cat and Caboodle - Sofie Ryan (aka Sofie Kelly)
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Buy a Whisker - Sofie Ryan
The Silent Girl - Tess Gerritsen
Emma - Jane Austen
Changing Places - David Lodge
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
Villette - Charlotte Bronte

Only 16 books in 2015, which is a bit disappointing, especially when one considers that I didn't teach at all this year.  I was doing really well early in the year, but my reading dropped off considerably as the year progressed.  Partially the Austen and Bronte novels slowed me down a bit, but I also had some issues deciding what to read at time.  I'm just not 100% sure what I'm looking for in a book anymore.  I really enjoyed Jane Eyre, but then I found Villette a bit disappointing in the end.  I guess maybe that is why Jane Eyre gets more attention.  Somehow I missed reading the Magical Cat Mystery that came out in the fall of 2015.  I have a copy now and intend to read it soon.  I also have copies of the Kathy Reichs and Richard Castle novels that were published in 2015, but didn't get around to them in 2015 either.  The David Lodge novel is also the first in a series.  I have copies of the other two, but haven't read them yet either.  Oh well, maybe they will all be on my 2016 list.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Why Going to the Zoo Makes Me Sad

Earlier in the summer, my family and I took a trip to Seattle, Washington.  The first full day that we were there we went to the zoo.  We spent almost the whole day there, and I took a lot of pictures (some better than others).  I realized while I was there that being at the zoo makes me kind of sad.  This picture (below) is a good illustration of why that is.
It's not a very good quality picture, and there is a good bit of reflection in the glass, but it is the subject of the picture that tells the story.  While we were there, this gorilla just sat with his (or her, I don't know) back to the glass staring into the distance.  He just seemed sad and like he was really tired of having people look at him all the time. 

I know that there is value to zoos, and that, as a general rule they take good care of the animals and protect them.  But especially when it comes to seeing primates in captivity it makes me feel like I'm visiting a jail just to gawk at the prisoners.  It just feels wrong and it makes me sad.

Oh well, I'm just a bleeding heart anyway, so I guess there is no surprise that I'd feel that way. . .

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Red-bellied woodpecker

I've been getting a real kick out of this guy.  He's a red-bellied woodpecker and he's been really enjoying my new bird feeder.  I don't generally think of woodpeckers coming to seed bird feeders, because they usually eat insects, but apparently they eat black-oil sunflower seed, too.  And this one seems to really like them.  But then again, I would bet that eating seeds out of a feeder beats banging your head into a tree, so I can't blame him.

Zebra Swallowtail


I saw this butterfly fluttering around my gazebo a few days ago and decided to take some pictures of it.  I only had my cellphone to take the pics with, and it is a very old Nokia (dumb) phone.  So I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.

I don't remember ever seeing a butterfly like this one before.  From what I can gather looking online, it is a zebra swallowtail.  The swallowtail shape is new to me.  It just seemed so odd that it's wing are so wide at the top and so narrow at the bottom.  Just not what I think of when I think butterfly.