Thursday, April 30, 2009
Still, the Op-Ed is well worth reading, and I'm all for that Water discipline the author (Mark Taylor) recommends, but something about the tone of it put me off. Or maybe it's his boasting that he doesn't have his students write papers but "develop analytic treatments in formats from hypertext and Web sites to films and video games." What does that mean anyway? That students don't have to organize their analytic treatments into a cohesive essay because they're using hypertext? When I do get nostalgic for grad school, I like to remember the projects I got lost in, no hypertext required. Then again, I'm so old school.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Arlen Specter as quoted in The New York Times
Putting what it might mean for major Obama initiatives aside, is there anyone more cynical than a politician who does not wish to have the constituents he himself has represented for twenty-nine years decide whether or not he may continue to hold a seat representing them?
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Of course, if my husband and I were to buy a Prius, we'd buy the totally stripped down, bargain basement, late in the year model and we'd keep in for ten years, easy. And we'd both be glad. She'll zoom down the freeway in her souped up Prius with its GPS and bluetooth already installed. And me, I'll poke along the Jersey turnpike, grateful when I screw up the courage to change radio stations and lanes in a five mile stretch, imagining Lizzie, and we'd both be laughing the whole time.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
So, that was then, this is now. Now, I don't always have time to slog through to the end. Now, I sometimes red fifty, one hundred pages and think, "I've got it. I get it." And even though I don't know the whole story, I feel like the surprises in it won't be worth it, not when there's a stack of books falling over on my bedside, books I'm desperate to get to, not to mention the books I don't have that I'm pining for. Which is to say that I've put down this book (Doctors and Nurses) before it was done and have started another one (Pnin). I believe this is a good decision. I guess I'll only really know if I go back and finish Doctors and Nurses. It could be another Mohicans, but it also could be I'll never know.....
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Part of me thinks this is a New York thing, because until you settle into a certain kind of living situation in New York, everything feels provisional. You're never quite sure what the next move will be, or what will happen with schools, or how you'll make it all work out. Then again, life is uncertain everywhere, and if I remember correctly, I think that's what the show was about, uncertainty draped in secure domesticity. That's mostly what I remember about it -- that and Hope's cheekbones and that I had one friend whose mom -- a very serious and tough-minded lawyer -- referred to the characters on thirtysomething as her "friends."
All this to say, I kind of miss TV shows like that, and I, too, wonder when, or if, I'm ever going to live one. Well, maybe there's still time for that. You know what they say: Fortysomething is the new thirtysomething.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Then there's the new Playmobil in our lives. It arrived today, and I can't even begin to tell you what it means, I can only tell you it's the only reason I could blog.
Of course, there's also the release of the torture memos. I haven't read enough about that to be able to say much, but this is good.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
But now that I'm drinking tea, I not only bring my own bag, I bring the travel mug, happily. Maybe it's because I've never fetishized tea in the way I did coffee. I've never yearned for that very first sip off a steaming mug of tea. But coffee, is there anything so rich in the mouth, so full of flavor, so completely satisfying as that first taste of coffee? In a way, I'm glad to be done with it. All that anticipation, all that need loaded into one slurping mouthful. And now, I'm so green and thrifty what with my travel mug and take along tea! (Will anyone ever be able to say teabag again with a straight face?) And if I don't compare the two sets of benefits, I'm AOK.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
On the one hand, I was glad not to spend thirty-seven bucks on a Barbie. On the other, that price difference is seriously weird. I don't quite know what to say about it in a blog post without more research and serious thought, so I'm sticking with the simple original. Weird. It's really weird.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
I also learned that if you go two weeks with no coffee and no black tea and then you have a cup of black tea, you'll feel like a million bucks, in spite of a cake fiasco. The last time I felt this good was a week ago Friday when I had coffee ice cream in my friend Natalie's stupendous new kitchen. I'm not sure if it was the coffee in the ice cream or the jaw dropping beauty of the room, either way, having ice cream there was, literally, the best thing since sliced bread.
Finally, I learned that Wall Street bankers are even grosser than I'd imagined and when it comes to Larry Summers, ugh.
There it is. Sunday.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Throughout the film, I kept thinking of a review essay by Caitlin Flanagan from a while back in The Atlantic. If I remember correctly, the essay is typical Flangan -- beautifully written, well-argued, with some kind of weird flash of the knife at the end, but it's worth reading. It covers two books, one called The Girls Who Went Away and the other called The Choices We Made, about women who had abortions before they were legal. The abortion stories Flanagan re-tells are from the perspective of women who ended pregnancies and they're awful. Vera Drake's story as a provider is one of understanding. She sees herself as helping those in need, women who find themselves in an untenable situation.
Most of the women in the movie who are not among those ending pregnancies share a secret if whispered code. They understand how in a flash everything can go wrong, and Vera Drake is found and steps in to help. It's dangerous, her help, non-medical abortions put women at grave risk, but her story reminded me of how close in time we remain to such extreme medical marginalization. For so long, the kind of help Vera could offer was all many women could afford. The film showed how viscerally some women get the risks of sex and the ways others bury those risks in condescension and judgment. Turning off the TV, all I can say is it's a good thing safe abortions are now legal; as for the judgment of others, good thing Obama will be appointing our next set of Supreme Court justices.
Friday, April 10, 2009
"It’s like they’re afraid of me! So they hire a guy who’s more comfortable dealing with a masculine-type person. I stand there and talk to the customer, and the customer doesn’t talk to me or look at me, he talks to the intermediary, and the intermediary talks to me. It’s the yuppie buffer.” He wasn’t slurring gay men—he described these customers as mainly “metrosexuals”—nor was the problem all yuppies, some of whom had been his customers for years. It was a new group who had moved from Manhattan in the past few years, and who could not detach themselves from their communications devices long enough to look someone in the eye or notice the source of a leak."
What could I say but "Oy!" On the inside, out loud I think I just stammered. And when I came up with something about how hard it is to be free and how mean the Pharoh was, Helen said, "No, mommy, I have to understand it for myself." At least I didn't have to answer the question.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
OK, I admit that I could only skim this article about the "Vook", a new device that folds video and multi-media content into books, because it made me want to throw up. It's not that I'm opposed to the Kindle or electronic reading devices per se, I'm not. I'm nervous about them because it means more screen time and for me, at least, screens don't always invite the closest reading (see admission, skimming). But, I do object, vigorously, to the idea that books have to do more than offer themselves up to be read.
Sara Nelson, the former editor of Publisher's Weekly and now a publishing consultant is quoted as saying: “Publishers are going to be confronted with the idea that either the words on the page have to be completely compelling on their own, or they have to figure out a way to create new sorts of subliminal draws in the new medium.” You know what I say to Sara Nelson? No.
Should I even bother with all the things wrong with this? Words on a page can be compelling, they can be boring, they can be intriguing, they can be tedious, but it is not the job of the person who put them there to interpret what they are. A writer or an editor or a video producer cannot and should not control how her work is read or experienced. A reader or watcher or interacter does that all on his own. And as a reader, I'm grateful for the experience of reading, privately, at my own pace, and sharing as I wish. I mean, to me the long passages about Russian peasants in Anna Karenina are deadly boring. Would I want it gone? No. Ditto the politics in Middlemarch.
And Mr. Inman who's hard at work on the Vook says this: “I don’t think we are compromising the written word,” says Mr. Inman at Vook. “People will to continue to read, just in new ways. Books are finally coming online but they are very one-dimensional. I think we can experiment and do this better.”
Sure, books are one dimensional on the screen (or on a page for that matter), but not in your mind. There is nothing one dimensional about reading. I don't think I have to list it's joys here, but what the heck! Here are a few: There's the beautiful paragraph in a novel, or a heart-thumping response to a tightly argued article, or that feeling of being suspended all though perfectly taut short story. Those reading experiences come to us without make up, without special effects, without a catering truck involved in their production. They're fantastic and in a way humanizing in their demand that we imagine a connection to another person or world or perspective. They should be left to live independently, without subliminal messages or other dimensions added, thank you.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
And that says it all. Because the rest of the post shows Warner desperate to be in with the cool girls. To get in, she says what she has to -- that she breastfed her daughters and wouldn't give up that experience for the world, but she didn't breastfeed exclusively, as she claims the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends doing for six months, because she was in France, where everything is so much better and so much more civilized. We should just get rid of the "horrible" pump already and then women will be free to experience the wonder of breastfeeding not-exclusively. Now will you be friends with me Hanna?
So, first, the business: Many pediatricians I've spoken to, including one of my closest friends, only recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months if severe allergies run in your family. If not, six weeks to three months are great, give some cereal at four to five months, figure out what works for you, they say, find the balance, they recommend. It's so reassuring, that advice. So, I don't know, professional.
Now on to the whole damning and banning of the pump. No one likes pumping; I can say that categorically. But, sometimes you have to do it. I had to do it to build up my milk supply. A friend had to do it because one of her breasts was engorged. Another does it because she needs other people to feed her baby when she works. Saying 'breastfeed and just get rid of the pump' is a little bit like saying 'I love my lover and now that I've gotten rid of my beloved's bad breath everything is perfect.' You can't do it. No experience is perfect. Everything we do, especially as parents, is nuanced and textured and tinged with a little something we'd rather not have around. But you deal with it. If Rosin's and Warner's goal is simply to promote the idea that a little formula never hurt anyone, can't they just say that? Do they have to go to such extremes? As Ceridwen Morris and Rebecca Odes write over at The New Mom: " Is it necessary to take down breastfeeding to make it okay to not do it some of the time?" Warner's categorical dismissal of the pump is, like Rosin's article, reductive and distracting from the real work of making parenthood a feasible, manageable and affordable state for everyone who enters into it.
In writing for big players in mainstream media, Rosin and Warner get to shape what we talk about and the way we talk about. That they're choosing to mostly talk to each other in the broad strokes best left to dinner parties shows a kind of smallness of purpose. From their platforms of authority they can challenge cultural orthodoxy. It'd be nice if they were a good bit more challenging and a good bit less preening when they choose to do so.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Meanwhile, I'm never going to have that garden, even when I have a yard. Maybe I'll have an herb box, but not that garden. I know the dailiness of it will make me want to nap. But still, a girl can dream, and it seems like maybe Nichols' books can give shape to those dreams.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Surowieki wrote that the administration is trying to fix the economy first so it can then get to the underlying problems in the banking system itself. But I don't know that any policy can get at the only-meism that has seemed (from an outsider's perspective) to run Wall Street since, as Michael Lewis might posit, investment banks started going public in the eighties. How do you undo a system in which any sense of honor or decency can be (must be?) sacrificed for quarterly results and big fat payouts to numero uno (in a Hickey Freeman suit)? It might be that Geithner's plan comes at an in-between moment in the zeitgeist when we're shifting from the spawn of Gordon Gekko to I-don't-know-what but something more responsible than that. I just hope there's a whole lot of well-reasoned geist pushing the I-don't-know-what. Know what I mean?