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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Friday, November 26, 2004  

from the Pop Culture Edition of Trivial Pursuit ...

1. MOVIE - In Cast Away, what company does Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) work for?
2. TV - What quaint Maine town did Murder, She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher live in?
3. MUSIC - What synthesizer band performed on the soundtrack for 1984's Risky Business?
4. SPORTS & GAMES - What sports television innovation was introduced during an Army-Navy game on Dec. 7, 1963?
5. BUZZ - What actress inflamed tempers with her 1972 visit to Vietnam?
6. FAD - What line of jeans did Donna Rice and Marla Maples become spokesmodels for?
7. TV - What does Ross say when Rachel accuses him of having cheated on her?
8. MOVIE - What song does Fletch start to sing during his prostate exam? [now, wasn't that worth waiting for?]
9. MUSIC - What Beatles album was turned into a poorly received movie starring the Bee Gees, Aerosmith, and George Burns. [Wasn't Steve Martin in it, too?]
10. SPORTS & GAMES - What race is the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown?
11. BUZZ - What designer did Mark Wahlberg model underwear for?
12. FAD - What '70s-era car was the auto of choice in Wayne's World?

Answers will be posted in the Squawkbox comments next Friday or Saturday when I post a new quiz.

6:29:00 PM

Wednesday, November 24, 2004  
Bittersweet Transitions

It doesn't seem that long ago that Brian, Amy, and Andy were little. Christmas was fun watching them together. Thanksgiving we'd play games and eat too much. Wonderful memories. This year they all have children of their own - all under 2 years old. Brendan is 19 months, Ally 7 months, and Carter 3 months. They'll all be at Mother's tomorrow but not Christmas. Amy and Chris will stay in Kansas where they live.

Things are changing. I'm glad they're happily married and have children. I just don't know how the time passed so quickly. Now I'm a grandmother, and it doesn't seem so long ago that I had grandparents. It's a little sad in there with the happiness. I miss the ones not here anymore. I miss my father who died much too soon. I'm thrilled with the wonderful additions to the family after Kathy found me. It's a miracle I never thought would happen. For some reason I'm thinking about how it was and how it might be from now on and wonder what changes are in store.

3:46:00 PM

Tuesday, November 23, 2004  
Prozac Nation

From the lack of comments, I don't suppose any of you have theories on why so many people are taking psychotropic drugs. I get this response quite often when I ask my students questions. It's a good way to get them quiet. Occasionally some of them come through, but there aren't that many discussions. More like ... will this be on the test? I'm doing the same thing and cramming for my blood tests by avoiding food I shouldn't eat.

10:10:00 PM

Sunday, November 21, 2004  
What's It All About?

I wonder why so many people (including me) are taking psychotropic drugs. If the subject is broached in conversations with any group of people, it's almost impossible to find anyone who isn't familiar with Prozac, Wellbutrin, Lexapro, Paxil, Effexor, Elavil, and others I can't recall right now. What's going on? Why do we lack the natural seratonin and dopamine that should be in our brains? Or are we? Is it the food, speaking English, or what that causes so much of this since I don't know how many people in countries other than the U.S., U.K., and maybe Australia and Canada might be on these medications. They are rampant in ours. Why?

10:07:00 AM

Friday, November 19, 2004  

from the Pop Culture Edition of Trivial Pursuit ...

1. MOVIE - What is the name of Bill and Ted's excellent band?
2. TV - What 1974 cartoon followed Shirley, Keith, Laurie, Danny, and Reuben's adventures in space?
3. MUSIC - Who are the high school sweethearts Billy Joes reminises about in Scenes from an Italian Restaurant?
4. SPORTS & GAMES - Who did Roger Clemens throw a broken bat at during the 2000 "Subway Series"?
5. BUZZ - What comedian was pulled over with a transvestite prostitute in his car? [more sensational than Hugh Grant's dalliance - yet I never heard about it]
6. FAD - Where can you order a Frappuccino, Tazo Chai, or Caramel Macchiato? [the only one I know so far]

from the "Know-It-All" Edition ...

7. PEOPLE & PLACES - What honor did Queen Elizabeth II bestow upon rock star Elton John in 1997? [another one]
8. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - What cartoon character was originally named "Dippy Dawg"?
9. HISTORY - What was the name of the peace program outlined by President Wilson to Congress in 1918? [and this one]
10. SCIENCE & NATURE - What does the poisonous dart frog lose when it's raised in captivity? [sort of guessed this one]
11. SPORTS & LEISURE - What sport requires players to throw stones and sweep? [a fascinating sport it is too! I've actually watched it]
12. WILD CARD - What would a hoodlum have if he were carrying a "roscoe"? [in a Mickey Spillane mystery?]

8:54:00 PM

Wednesday, November 17, 2004  
Learning Right Along

When I mentioned to Brian I had a couple of Norah Jones CDs, he asked if I knew that Ravi Shankar is her father. I had no idea! I asked him how that happened, so of course he said, "When a man and a woman ...." The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, does it?

8:39:00 PM

Saturday, November 13, 2004  
Brendan on the Moor

I stayed with Brendan last night while Brian and Melissa attended a dinner meeting. We had fun reading, dancing, and playing. Brendan likes the Clancy Brothers and got frustrated because I couldn't figure out which song he wanted to hear on the CD. Eventually I got there. Whew! I've been singing "Brennan on the Moor" to him as Brendan on the Moor. He'll request it by saying, "Mo-ah."

11:58:00 AM


from the Pop Culture Edition of Trivial Pursuit ...

1. MOVIE - What movie star co-produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?
2. TV - What did Ytossie and Taheed have that got them evicted from Temptation Island? [anyone watch this? so let's make up strange reasons]
3. MUSIC - What buxom British pin-up claimed in 1987 that "Naughty Girls Need Love Too"?
4. SPORTS & GAMES - What 6-foot-5 WNBA star became the first woman to dunk during a pro basketball game?
5. BUZZ - What musician did Liv Tyler originally believe to be her father? [OK, I confess to knowing this]
6. FAD - What is the only word Pikachu says on the Pokemon cartoon? [Melissa would know this ... and Michelle, too?]

from the "Know-It-All" Edition ...

7. PEOPLE & PLACES - Where would you find the most joss houses?
8. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - What Beatles song, written by Paul McCartney, came to him in a dream and was originally called "Scrambled Eggs"?
9. HISTORY - What turn-of-the-century war marked defeat for Dutch settlers in South Africa?
10. SCIENCE & NATURE - What is the large desert area shared by Mongolia and China?
11. SPORTS & LEISURE - What are the only two years since 1903 that the World Series was not held?
12. WILD CARD - What monetary unit of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Sudan was formerly used in Turkey?

11:16:00 AM

I'm Working on This

On Belief by Steven Waldman

Perverted, God-Hating Frenchies vs. Inbred, Sex-Obsessed Yokels
Why Can't Liberals and Conservatives Get Along? Because They Fundamentally Misunderstand Each Other

I was waiting to go on a conservative talk radio show and heard the host say that John Kerry and his supporters "have no God" because they don’t stand up to evil. He went on to claim that "even the mention of God terrifies them." As for religious people who go to church regularly but vote Democratic, he said, "I see them as sort of phonies."

Then I came on, and his question to me was, "Why do secular people think we're all a bunch of intolerant people?"

I’ve heard similarly clueless statements from liberals who simultaneously talk about the need for fairness then compare the Bush administration to the Taliban or the Nazis. I’m not going to attempt to bring peace to the land right now but thought it might be worthwhile to sketch the top ways that liberals misunderstand well-meaning religious conservatives, and vice versa.

They're Just As Moral As Conservatives

We've seen a wave of commentary suggesting that George W. Bush's re-election was a victory of people who cared about morality over those who didn't. "As a class, liberals no longer are merely the vigorous opponents of the Right; they are spiteful enemies of civilization's core decency and traditions," writes Mike Thompson, in Human Events Online. Columnist Ben Giles spelled out liberal depravity with greater specificity. "I'm sure the Kerry cabal has a lot to say regarding...conducting an orgy, the preeminent natural herb for curbing the side effects of herpes, how to pick out the right stripper and midget for a ménage à trois, how to redistribute someone else's wealth to pimps, whores and welfare brats, how to rid one's nation of Judeo-Christian ethics..."

The idea that this was a victory for people who care about morality over those who don’t is galling to liberals because, for many of them, the number one issue in this election was Iraq -- and their opposition to the incumbent administration was almost entirely grounded in moral concerns. It’s not like liberals objected because their own family members were dying. Rather, they believe that launching any war unless absolutely justified is profoundly immoral, a position also articulated by the Pope. One can disagree, but I would love the opportunity to watch Anne Coulter tell the Pope his opposition to the war isn't based on morality. Liberals also believe that a morally indefensible policy was sold dishonestly – a gross moral breach compounded by another.

Conservatives ask why the opposition to Bush seems hateful. The answer: liberals believe that what Bush did is worse than what other presidents, Democratic or Republican, have done because it involves the unnecessary and therefore immoral shedding of human blood.

They're Just As Smart As Liberals

Liberals tend to view people who take the Bible very seriously as yokels opposed to science, knowledge and thinking. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said the Bush administration is about "replacing science with religion, and facts with faith. We're entering another dark age, more creationist than cutting edge." Novelist Jane Smiley declared the election a triumph for the forces of "ignorance." Privately, liberals friends have told me that Bush voters are "morons," "idiots" and "peanut heads." The idea that red state voters chose Bush because they’re ignorant or uneducated is bigoted, not to mention inaccurate. The least educated voters, people with no high school diploma favored Kerry 50%-49%.

Conversely, most people who are highly educated are quite religious too: 72% percent of people with post-graduate degrees believed in miracles and 78% percent believe in the survival of the soul after death. Liberals can’t mock religious people as dumb when they disagree with them but hail their wisdom when they're liberals like Jimmy Carter. This intellectual snobbery is a major reason why religious conservatives distrust liberal elites.

Most Are Religious

A conventional wisdom has developed that almost all religious people voted for Bush and most people who voted for Kerry were secular or anti-Christian. The Republican Party sent out brochures in West Virginia and Kentucky saying liberals wanted to ban the Bible, Dr. James Dobson recently called a liberal senator a "Gods' people hater" and Republican convention keynoter Zell Miller’s said of columnist Maureen Dowd, “You can see horns just sprouting up through that Technicolor hair."

However, not only are liberals not, by and large, Satanic or anti-Bible, they’re mostly quite religious. Voters who went to church monthly split 50%-49% for Bush and Kerry. Those who go to church "occasionally” went for Kerry 53%-47%, while people who attend church weekly went for Bush 58%-41%. More important, 61% of Democrats pray daily, 59% are "certain" there’s life after death, and most believe in God. The spiritual lives of Democrats are, statistically speaking, somewhat less based in houses of worship than those of Republicans but they are believers nonetheless.

When Democrats hear conservatives accuse them of being anti-religion it sounds like what they’re really saying is that Democrats don't practice the right kind of religion -- that they are, as my talk radio friend put it, "a bunch of phonies." This is a direct attack on the nature of liberals’ relationship with God or spirituality.

They Don't Want a Religious Dictatorship

Liberal columnist E.R. Shipp said conservatives wanted a "Christian Jihad." The Village Voice declared Bush had a "mandate for theocracy." Others have compared the current administration to the Taliban. This is profoundly insulting to most conservative Republicans in the same way it is insulting to liberals when they are called Communists or defenders of terrorism. Yes, religious conservatives want a greater role in public life -- perhaps more than liberals want or the Constitution allows -- but President Bush's faith based initiative is highly pluralistic and he has spoken out for religious tolerance. Equating him or his supporters with regimes that execute dissidents or blow up buildings is heinous.

They Believe History Is On the Side of Tolerance

Conservatives contend that liberals believe in moral relativism, and, to be sure, there is a tendency for liberals to avoid accusing people of moral wrongdoing. Conservatives say this proves liberals are immoral or amoral. In fact, what’s happened is that liberals have elevated "tolerance" as the value that trumps many others, an essential and ethical way of coping with life in an increasingly diverse nation. Most liberals who support gay partnership rights are not themselves homosexual but believe in the right of people to determine their own lives. Conservatives appropriately argue that it's OK to be intolerant of some things -- even liberals wouldn't tolerate, say, murder. But that means the debate is really over how to weigh one value (tolerance) over another value (traditional family) -- not over whether one side cares about values and the other doesn't.

There’s something else that needs to be said. Liberals believe that historically red state conservatives were on the wrong side of the civil rights struggle (first as conservative Democrats and then as Republicans) and that they opposed much of the campaign for equal rights for women that enabled Condoleezza Rice to be National Security Advisor and Sandra Day O'Connor to be on the Supreme Court. So when conservatives oppose gay rights, liberals see history repeating itself. To grossly caricature both sides, liberals may have been wrong about the Soviet Union but conservatives were wrong about civil rights and women's rights. Liberals look at gay marriage opponents and say, to paraphrase Reagan, there they go again.

The Pro-Life Position Is Born of Compassion

Liberals tend to think that right to life activists are motivated by a desire to control women's bodies or sex lives, and to impose a religious doctrine. Whether you agree with it or not, the heart of the pro-life position is the belief that life begins at conception, and therefore abortion is murder. Liberals who don't share that the foundational assumption have a hard time understanding the passion of pro-life voters. Yet they easily admire the radical abolitionists of the 1860s -- who were as "rabid" and doctrinaire in their opposition to slavery as pro-lifers are today. Liberals should ask themselves, if they honestly believed that life began at conception, wouldn't they do exactly what the pro-life forces do?

Liberals sometimes claim that the anti-abortion movement is actually a religious movement aspiring to impose a particular theology. In fact, the anti-abortion side has tended in recent years to make secular arguments. They offer pictures of fetuses at different gestational ages, not Bible verses. You can say it's ghoulish but that approach – having values shaped by religion but making arguments in non-religious terms – is exactly the way faith should be inserted into the public debates.

Most Support Separation of Church and State to Protect Religion

There is indeed an outspoken group of secular liberals who oppose any manifestation of religion in the public sphere because they are suspicious of religion in general, and their views are Constitutionally protected. But most liberals (and many conservatives) fret about the separation of church and state because they want to protect the free expression of religious views. Conservatives might scoff at this as an over-reaction, and perhaps it is, but for most liberals it's a view born out of a love of religious freedom.

They Feel Under Assault

With conservatives controlling the House, Senate, White House, and Supreme Court -- and Christians accounting for 83% of the population -- it's hard for liberals to understand how conservative Christians can feel persecuted or under attack. But religious conservatives look at this way: they have clear beliefs about what is right or wrong. They think homosexuality is wrong, for instance. They turn on the TV and see it treated as morally okeedoke, and there's nothing they can do about it. They may have the numbers but they nonetheless feel powerless against a popular culture that doesn't seem to share their values, and in the face of aggressive judges who impose their will over the objections of state legislatures.

Family Values Are Revered

Telling someone they are against "family values" is not far from telling them they’re bad parents. Most liberal parents (like most conservatives) spend most of their days thinking not about politics but about how to raise good kids. It’s probably not worthwhile to try to figure out who is better at it but these statistics ought to at least pour cold water on conservative self righteousness on this point: of the 10 states with the highest divorce rates, ten of them voted for Bush. Of the 10 states with the lowest divorce rates, 9 of them voted for Kerry. And the state with the lowest divorce rate in the nation? Massachusetts.

They Believe American Culture Has Become An Insult to God

Liberals look at the fervor of the anti-gay marriage movement and wonder: why do they care so much? Are they just obsessed with sex? What that fails to understand is that for many religious conservatives the stakes could not possibly be higher. They believe that in condoning legalized abortion or gay unions or even out of wedlock heterosexual sex, America is messing with morality as outlined in the Bible and so attacking God. As anyone who takes the Old Testament seriously knows, the consequences of that could not be more enormous.

On both sides, discourse now moves swiftly from disagreement into demonizing, from contrast to caricature. The worst motives are always assumed. Both camps have polemicists who win popularity, ratings, and book sales by devising ever more clever ways of ripping the eyelids off their opponents. We all know the visceral satisfactions of hanging out with our home-team blogs and watching the TV or radio stations that fit our worldview. Our politicians and pundits happily supply us with the voodoo dolls and the pins. But we'd be smarter not to use them.

I’m not saying the conflicting values aren’t profound and important. But I am saying that if we choose to find the legitimate underpinnings of our ideological opponents' arguments, we can. It may not be as much fun, but it is more patriotic.

11:11:00 AM

Friday, November 12, 2004  
Excerpt from Article by Alicia Ostriker

Probably the state of the nation will get worse before it gets better. Yet now we can hear each other, we can talk, we can plan. I like the Martin Luther King Jr. line that says, "The arc of history is long, but it tends toward justice." And for the immediate present, I remind myself of some lines by the poet Anne Sexton:

"Depression is boring, I think,
And I would do better to make
Some soup and light up the cave."

Twice nominated for NatBookAward, Alicia Ostriker, author of nine volumes of poetry, teaches at Rutgers University. C 2004 Newsday

9:16:00 AM

Thursday, November 11, 2004  
My Son, the Activist

Brian has a new site to share information about political change. Here's the link: Cynics for Change I've also added it to my blogroll. Check it out.

8:17:00 PM

True Believers

Evangelical religious fanatics are taking over the world. Reasonable, well-informed citizens with a world-view need to be the influential ones. Garrison Keillor said there should be an amendment to the Constitution preventing born-again christians from voting. I intentionally used a lower-case letter because they don't reflect the Christian values instilled in me and that I continue to believe. Basic human rights are replaced with intolerance, retribution, and violence in some cases. They are quite comfortable legislating morality and imposing the government into our lives where it doesn't belong. How people can call themselves pro-life and not only support but applaud torture, war, and the death penalty is paradoxical to say the least. Irony is lost on them along with logic, true compassion, and empathy. It wouldn't be so bad if lives weren't at stake. Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox, President Ronald Reagan, Janet Reno, and countless others with debilitating, life-threatening diseases could have possibly been cured. Apparently, it's fine to wait until embryos are adults who contribute to society to kill them.

I'm disheartened. Yesterday when students were being loud and silly, I jokingly told them they were causing me to lose hope in the future of humanity. One of the girls asked, "What is humanity?" (sigh)

8:15:00 AM

Wednesday, November 10, 2004  
We're Doomed

Scaryduck sent me this link which explains the main reason our country is doomed. Unfortunately, the writer represents way too many people who along with way too many students have convinced me that Darwin was wrong. It's not survival of the fittest but of the lowest common denominator. We aren't evolving. Either that or we live in Brave New World ... or both.

8:50:00 AM

Tuesday, November 09, 2004  
Get In Line!

I'm joining the movement! Yes, we're back to the low-flow toilet topic. I found a bill against them. Dave Barry said everything I think about them in this column, too. Let's rally around an important issue, folks!

I'm not sure if it's a rumor or not, but I heard that old-fashioned toilets are no longer illegal. If so, I've found one thing about this administration that I like. Not enough to actually vote for any of them. I'm still not able to write about the election yet. It's too disheartening and depressing.

Have you thought about how many laws are broken without major consequences, and then here is this one that no one will cross! Argh!

6:40:00 PM

Funeral arrangements have been made for Arafat even though he's not quite dead.

8:39:00 AM

Saturday, November 06, 2004  

from the Pop Culture Edition of Trivial Pursuit ...

1. MOVIE - In Mr. Mom, after Martin Mull turns down a beer at 7 in the morning, what does Michael Keaton then offer him?
2. TV - What is the most popular beverage in the year 3000 on Futurama?
3. MUSIC - Who wrote Sinead O'Connor's hit "Nothing Compares 2 U"?
4. SPORTS & GAMES - What city is known as "Hockeytown U.S.A."?
5. BUZZ - Who did Prince Charles have an affair with while married to Princess Diana?
6. FAD - What cereal-related word is often used to describe hippy, environmental types?

from the "Know-It-All" Edition ...

7. PEOPLE & PLACES - What call on the Mississippi was used to signal a depth deep enough to allow the paddle wheel to spin freely? [my students should know this ... and how deep is it?]
8. ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT - What 1969 Michael Crichton novel introduced an invincible microorganism?
9. HISTORY - Whose article "J'accuse" ("I accuse") garnered support for Alfred Dreyfus during his unjust imprisonment for selling military secrets?
10. SCIENCE & NATURE - Which of the five senses of a rhinoceros is considered poor enough that your chances of being attacked are lessened?
11. SPORTS & LEISURE - What Cubs rookie pitcher set a new record in 1998 with 33 strikeouts in consecutive games?
12. WILD CARD - What cola drink was exported to the U.S. in 1998 by the same British entrepreneur who owns an airline?

10:34:00 AM

Thursday, November 04, 2004  

I copied this from Brian's blog. Melissa introduced him to the story. I'd read it before and am glad to be reminded of the message. Here it is:

A Cherokee Indian elder was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me... it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

This same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too.”

The children thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather,

”Which wolf will win?”

The Cherokee elder replied simply ...

”The one you feed.”

11:08:00 PM

Tuesday, November 02, 2004  
Attention Computer Geeks!

Help!! I have Office 2003 and use Outlook Express for my email. I keep fiddling with the settings but am having trouble receiving email in the font the person sends it in. Some of the emails come through the way they were sent but not others. Also when I reply, the font isn't consistent. I can't find this on that "help" part of Outlook, so I'm asking you.


I'm really nervous about the election. For the first time school is closed for it. I guess we have Homeland Security to thank for that. Also the turn-out is so large that it could interfere with school since that is where quite a few polls are located. I can't watch TV or listen to the radio, so I'm grading papers and doing laundry. I just hope it's over tonight and that we don't have another 2000.

What do you make of the tape from Osama? It almost seems as if he's saying that if W is elected, our economy will be bankrupt that much faster. The current misadministration is doing that quite well all by themselves, but he said it was playing into his plan more quickly than he'd hoped. I don't know what he's really trying to do here, but he is intelligent, informed, and still very active and alive. It's really scary.

11:26:00 AM

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