Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Did you not learn from W?

So, I just want to get this off my chest. Sarah is for dummies. Dummies like to be surrounded by dummies. Really, I think some people want other stupid people to run the country because smart people make them feel stupid. I think they're afraid "those smart people" are trying to pull something over on them. Get behind Sarah, she'll make you feel smart. That's what we want in our leadership... Stupid people who can talk dumb to us.  I'm am completely convinced of this now.

When W was elected the first time, I thought, "Great, 'activist judges' elected our president." (Oh wait, 'activist judges' can only be liberal right?) Then when he was elected the second time I thought, "Well, maybe people are just that out of touch with the world and are just voting along party lines."

Sarah's nomination to run as VP made me think, "OK the media has largely been taken over by conservative folks with lots of money." I went along with "the media controls what we see and therefore what we know, which leads to how we vote." Yeah, um now that she's ditched her responsibility as governor and revealed more of the lack of knowledge that she possesses, I am left with a dismal reality. There are stupid people out there. Maybe I should say uninformed, but that somehow softens the responsibility.

Let's get real, we are responsible for what we know, for how we get our information, for our participation. No matter how much one party may own the media, or be owned by the media, we do still live in a democracy - even if that democracy is anemic. I am judging people too. I'm using that bad word "stupid." Just because you might not know if it's South or North Korea that is the "good one" doesn't mean that you don't want a president/leader who does. It's OK if "we" don't know exactly what NATO does, but don't you want your leaders to? (OK, it's really not OK that the average citizen may not know these things, but don't get me started on our US-centric educational system. Most people in the rest of the world know more about the rest of the world than the average US citizen.) Realize that if a political figure doesn't know the difference between North and South Korea, has never really traveled outside the US, ditched her office early (um there is a lame duck period for presidents people), they are probably not safe as leader of one of the largest, richest, most powerful countries in the world -and I don't mean China.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Will Work for Doxa

Bourdieu proposes that culture is replicated by orthodoxy and heterodoxy. In other words, there is the way we have "always" done things (orthodoxy) and sentiments/actions/etc. against the way we have always done things (heterodoxy). I think we're stuck in this binary dualism right now in terms of liberal/conservative, democrat/republican, capitalism/socialism. Bourdieu posits that social change occurs when a completely new way of thinking comes about, or doxa. Doxa is what we need, we need a new way of thinking, a new party, a new system of governance. Change. People are ready for this, I think that's what the last presidential election tapped into. We are still fighting heterodoxy and orthodoxy trying to come up with doxa though.

What would doxa be though? I think it would have elements of, dare I say it, socialism, regulated capitalism, environmentalism, conservatism and so on. But we can't use the same words. We need new words and new ways of expressing these ideas. We need to get to the nexus of these ideas blended together. If we use these words, we trigger the old nags of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. We need a new vocabulary in order to think differently and to move us from the confines of what these words have come to represent to us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Post Election Angst

There's so much roiling around in my mind since the elections this November. It's hard to sort out just how it has left me feeling.

I'm frustrated by people saying this is an indictment of Obama's agenda. Congress barely touched his agenda and they often acted against it in their own self-interests for re-election. Republicans literally stated they would not compromise and this stalled any movement while they simultaneously accused Democrats of not compromising. We are in a recession and yet billions of dollars were spent for campaigns. Democrats supported big business interests and sustained a costly war while passing the limpest of health care reform possible.

My personal feelings are that the elections are a further indictment of the weaknesses of our political system. Big banks are richer, the average person is poorer (if not in income then in home and retirement values). Money is what determines our political power/voice and what sways legislation. This is not democracy. Yet we still fail to see where our sustained participation in the political process is a necessary ingredient of democracy. We vote once and say we participated, if we vote at all... Voting is not enough. Voting is just one element of democracy.

Oh, and capitalism can be poisonous to democracy. This doesn't make me naive, bleeding hearted, or anti-American. Unrestrained capitalism is another form of tyranny. This also doesn't make me anti-capitalist nor socialist. I am simply for regulated capitalism within a democracy. Our votes, our lobbying for the direct rights of people must trump the rights of corporations.

OK, I digress. If our congress just became all at once both more conservative and more liberal... then I would argue that the last elections were a demand for something different in how we "do" politics.

And seriously, if there is so much money out there that we can fund billions of dollars in campaigning, why are we in a recession?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Not really a Facebook reactionary post but a "really, I don't want to post this for everyone to see and react to and think, 'gee she's depressing' post."

So, some things you want to shout to the world to hear and Facebook seems like just the right forum these days for shouting to the world. Some things though you think, "I want to shout this to the world, I want you all to see what I'm dealing with, but I also don't." Ha! We all have those times in our lives, or at least I am quite sure we all have these times, when you feel that sharing one more negative piece of news will send everyone running away from you as fast as possible. I am reminded of a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, "Solitude." The famous line, "...laugh and the world laughs with you.... grieve and they turn and go." That's depressing shit to pass on in and of itself! And, I don't think it's entirely true. There are friends who will sit by your side while you vomit up life's ugly moments. Friends who will witness what you need to get out in open.

So, if you are one of those people, here's the latest. (And I don't judge anymore those friends who aren't the ones who will be with me in the mire. You are sometimes the ones who toss a lifeline of laughter or something equally positive.)

Mom's MD Anderson trip just wasn't what we wanted. They are quite certain she has cancer in her liver now and the spot they saw months ago wasn't deterred by the chemo. This isn't good news. This means most likely another surgery and more chemo. Now, before I build us all back up with my characteristic Maria let's look on the bright side speech - here's the very possible dark side. This likely means she is Stage IV and not Stage 3 as we were hoping. This means that, if worst case scenario happens, her outlook is not great, positive could be 5 years if the websites I've tortured myself with are correct. It also could mean a road of miserable chemo visits from here to eternity.

It does for sure mean visits to MD Anderson for her every 2 months. Every 2 months of visiting that depressing city of hospitals and far more horrific things to see.

OK, because I am a team player and a motivator at heart, here's the possible upside: They have caught this little spot at a point where it is so damn small the surgeon was adamant he wouldn't be able to see it with his bare eyes. It could be a lesion and they could be totally wrong about it being cancer. OR, a different chemo treatment could be effective, with surgery, and she just may have a bad year. One to two bad years would be completely worth a decade or two of no chemo. The next chemo may not have the same side effects, they may be milder.

Live in the moment right? Right now, it's sunny out and warm. Right now, we just had a great week together. Right now, she's feeling pretty good. Right now, we are all in this together and feeling like supporting each other.

If you have stayed with me while I've shouted this to my mini-blog world, thank you. You are extremely appreciated.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Passive Jerks

So, my biggest Facebook pet peeve is when people make comments that are passive aggressive. OK, and when people are competitive on my wall with my posts - like "oh you think you have it bad... well, blah blah blah my life."

Alright so I'm half asleep still. I'll try to explain. If I post something like, "such and such sucks" you're being a bad listener if you post back - "oh yeah, well such and such in my life sucks more." Just a simple joke or hit that like button will do please. Also, passive aggressive comments just suck. Mostly because I want to be passive aggressive back and I don't like that about myself. Then I feel like I have to keep my mouth shut which makes me want to cry, "I'm being oppressed and silenced!" Not unlike that scene in "The Holy Grail."

My sniveling is probably unwarranted. And, oops, maybe this post is passive aggressive.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Humble Pie

OK, so after years of looking down on pharmaceutical emotional aides, uh stuff like Prozac, I am now a convert. I'll admit it. I've found a measure of happiness in a little bottle of blue pills and I'll admit it. I've been one of those people who looked for relief of depression in every other corner of this planet. I've tried yoga, travel, trail running, kayaking, hiking, graduate school (yeah, um what was I thinking with that one?), more depression, friendship, community, volunteerism, work (again, what was I thinking), journaling, therapy, psychotherapy, music, sunshine, vitamins, acupuncture, biking, walking, a dog (lack of sleep contributes to more depression), a rabbit, the internet, reading, breathing, vegetarianism, eating meat, adding more grains, cutting out caffeine, adding caffeine, cutting out sugar, the list could go on. The one thing I refused to try on principal was medication.

Now I'm not talking about just a general "I'm blue once in a while," and I'm not just popping pills. I'm also taking a boxing class, watching what I eat and going to therapy. Oh, and it's summer and I'm taking vitamin D, iron and B12. Oh, and I'm taking melatonin and Valerian at night. I'm also still getting acupuncture and I've found an awesome masseuse. Here's the thing though, it's one of the most stressful years of my life and yet I'm, in many ways, feeling the best I've ever felt. I have to admit, the Prozac has helped me turn that corner.

I disclose this not to give props to an industry with which I still have many ethical axes to grind. I will still rally against our over-dependence upon quick fixes and our theft of indigenous knowledge of plants for "first world" profits and patents.

That said, damn these little blue pills make life enjoyable, make shit I'm dealing with bearable and the floor to which I am prone to sink much higher. I want to exercise. I want to eat well. And, I don't mind looking at the shit I've already dealt with in my life face to face and moving on. At this point I don't even care how long I take these if they continue to help me make healthy choices. They've helped me reach a sense of internal peace that I've been looking for for 30 years. Literally. Maybe it's also a culmination of all those other things I've already tried and am certain it's all the other things I'm also doing.

I'm not even going to try to find a way to reconcile this. It's working for me right now.

Monday, June 21, 2010

You're her wife? So you're married?

For some reason today was the day for dealing with people who just aren't super familiar with dealing with gay people. I started the day asking an out-of-towner how their weekend went. They had inadvertently stumbled onto the Portland Pride parade and had to do a lot of explaining to their teenage child. This gave me a giggle at first. I could just imagine running into a parade and stopping to watch then being mortified as your teen asked why someone in the parade was wearing nothing but leathers or perhaps had a dildo strapped onto the outside of their clothing. I chuckled a little and then, when I realized she was still horrified, reminded her that only a few of the groups marching in Pride wear things like that. Then she said, "I said to my family, 'Do married people dress like that?'" I quickly changed the subject.

I wanted to say, I'd like to march in Pride sometime. I'd like to have been at Pride, but I was sitting in the hospital with my wife this year. Do married people do that? I wanted to explain that I am gay and here I am all normal looking, I'm in a job where I dedicate myself to helping families with sick children and I've spent the last week busting my ass and worried sick making sure my wife has the best healthcare possible. That's what married people do.

I also spent several sessions listening to how part of the stress that has her hospitalized is from her frustration with the comments people make to her about how her marriage isn't real or she just hasn't met the right man....

Then this afternoon, as we were sitting down with another professional, I was asked, "Who are you? Are you a friend?" When I said, "I am her wife," the professional looked startled and then asked me, "So are you married?" I thought that's what "wife" meant.

I'll end on a positive note though. The rest of this past week I was treated as nothing other than a complete and 100% spouse by my wife's team. I was able to help make decisions and see that she got the best care possible. They were fantastic folks and I was so appreciative of being able to just do everything I could to help.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Add Screening Options to Friend Requests!

I want a feature on Facebook that allows you to ask some screening questions when people send you a "friend request." Here's what my - so who are you questions? - would be:

  • Do I actually know you?
  • Do you remember me because I have no idea who you are and my yearbooks are in another state...
  • I'm not an ass, high school was traumatic and I blocked most of it out.
  • Have you at some point actually wanted to be my friend or do you just add everyone who might have been in your graduating class, the year before you or even the year after you?
  • Do you just add everyone who might have gone to the same high school as you did in the last 30 years?
  • I'm gay, do you still want to "friend" me? 
  • If you say yes to the question above, you do realize you should not post homophobic, anti-gay marriage crap on your wall or on mine at any point in the future right? 
  • Do you regularly post inappropriate drunken night out photos and/or other crap that will lead me to have to eventually block you so I don't have to worry about your stuff coming up when I happen to be checking my FB at work (for work purposes of course)?
  • Still with me? OK. Let's be friends! 

Thursday, June 3, 2010


OK, so just remember, I still love you even if you don't agree with me and you don't have to agree with me to love me : )

I hear a lot about how we can't change our healthcare because if we do something to it it might get worse. I also hear about how awful Canadian Healthcare is. I have several thoughts about these things.

1. If we never changed a bad situation we were in because we were afraid it could get worse... well we would probably not have or do many things we love to have or do.
2. I lived on the Canadian border for 13 years and I have many Canadian friends. Not one actual Canadian that I know that still lives in Canada would trade their healthcare system for ours.
3. Our system is broken. If you think that it's good, you have great insurance, but you are not why healthcare needs to change. Here is a real example, albeit from the friend of a friend, but this was from their online journal about dealing with their child's illness:

(This is not something from a family I work with)

"A close family friends son (10 years old) has a brain tumor. This comes after 5 years of remision from Leukemia. They suspect that it could be a result of the intense radiation treatments he previously received (wasn't aware this could happen) for Leukemia. Apparently chemo is now considered a "prescription drug" because it is available in pill form. So, the insurance company won't pay for it because their plan doesn't include "prescription drugs". Wild."

"This is from their CaringBridge Journal.

'And actually, before we did that we went up and met briefly with the oncologists. We got one little "ray of hope" piece of news. The molecular findings from the lab at UT Southwestern, which contain words that would win pretty much any Scrabble game, indicated that the nature of the tumor is such that it might be more susceptible to the chemo than was originally believed based on the microscopic findings.

And speaking of chemo, at this point we do not have a resolution on that front. We did not begin this treatment yesterday. The doctors assure us that a few days delay should not have an impact. So we hope to hear whether or not Schering-Plough will provide this. For anyone unaware, our insurance does not include prescription drug coverage. And since advancements in chemo delivery now make more of it available orally via tablets, the insurance companies have siezed on this and are calling it a "prescription drug." While we find it hard to make the leap that chemotherapy is a prescription drug, the insurers are apparently comfortable with that leap. So we have applied to the drug-maker, with information from our oncologists, to see if they will provide it. So if we can get some good news soon on that front we should be able to get the chemo going. '

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Obama's Katrina?

Let us count the ways in which I disagree:
1. Anything Karl Rove says should be immediately debunked. Period. Give me another source for your analogy.
2. This is a man-made, corporate made, disaster and is in no way a natural disaster such as hurricane Katrina.
3. If Obama had as head of the coast guard or head of minerals management, a person whose only experience was as the former owner of a casino... then maybe there would be an analogy to draw. IF the head of minerals management had failed to curb corrupt policies in the bureau, this is not the same as just not answering your Blackberry when the call regarding a disaster came in.
4. If Bush were president right now, the price of gas would have gone up "due to the disaster" to $5 a gallon. Like when he was in office and not before any significant Republican race.
5. Um, during Katrina people were dying of dehydration, violence from poor shelter organization and hunger. Not to mention water-bourne illnesses.
6. One of the only similarities I can conclude is that both disasters were preventable and both were predicted. However the reasons they were not prevented are entirely different. The flooding that destroyed mostly a highly impoverished area occurred because improvements to levees and flood controls were ignored for decades. Improvements that had been requested were continuously ignored by successive federal administrations. They were expensive fixes and these were poor people. The safety issues on the oil rig seem to have been identified and minerals management did nothing about them. Powerful lobbies and bribes were behind this. Even though BP is the third largest oil company in the world, they got away with this. This is about corporate greed. While we will fire the head of an agency, we won't let a corrupt corporation fail.
7. The only other analogy I can draw has nothing to do with who's president. Both are examples of our willingness to ignore the obvious. If you build below sea-level and you live by the sea, expect to be flooded at some point no matter what your efforts are. It's like building near a volcano. If you drill off-shore, there will be oil spills that impact nearby land. We are human, our best efforts at preventing these problems (without corruption) will fail at some point. Now we just have to decide if we are prepared to deal with the results. Let's focus on that instead of whining about "was my president unfairly blamed.

The conclusion I think we can all agree on is that it does nothing towards solving what created either of the disaster conditions in either situation to simply point the finger at one individual. The problem lies in an unwillingness on our part to break apart these situations and truly hold those individuals responsible accountable. We are also unwilling to change the very circumstances which exacerbated both situations. We are unwilling to either not build on flood plains or to improve the safety conditions around them, especially if we are not the ones living in the flood plains and those who are are poor. We are unwilling to deal with corrupt local politicians. We are unwilling to restrict the lobbying abilities of major multinational corporations and to examine a future without oil. We are unwilling to pay the price for oil that it truly costs when environmental damages from drilling are factored in. It is much easier to point the finger at one individual. This is how democracies die if you ask me. The laziness of the average voter to actively participate. If the president of the U.S. were able to unilaterally solve both of these issues, they would be overstepping their role and doing away with our system of checks and balances. It is going to take far more than one vote for one person to create change and to keep democracy alive.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Civil Discourse

Over the last week I've been thinking about an incident that happened on my flight back from Missouri. At one point another passenger near me asked the flight attendant for the front page section of the newspaper. After being told the attendant only had the sports section, the passenger said, "Well, I just wanted to see if Obama appointed a justice." The flight attendant blurted out, "Yes, Kagan, and she has absolutely no judicial experience at all. None. I can't believe it."

I have to admit, I didn't know anything about the Kagan nomination. I've been a little preoccupied with some other things going on and haven't paid much attention to politics. I thought I should pay attention to this conversation as the flight attendant seemed better informed. I thought he might have done reading about Kagan and I wanted to learn what his opinions were or the opinions of the other passengers. I was actually thinking, "Geez, I didn't even realize we were already needing to appoint another person to the Supreme Court. I'm really out of the loop. I need to get back to reading the news."

At that point, the attendant began an unexpected tirade on the current administration. He started out addressing the passenger with the paper request, but went on to scan the rows near him as he spoke. Although I'm certain I don't have the exact words memorized, this is very close: "I can't believe this president. I want the next four years to go by as quickly as possible [I'm sure he meant next 3, but he said 4]. I can't stand this man. I mean, he isn't even a citizen. He's the antichrist."

So several things disturb me about this entire event:
1. This attendant was the one up front, guarding over the cockpit and, as such, in a position of power. I don't care what his political views are, such comments are inappropriate. I had absolutely zero respect for George W. Bush the person, but I have always tried to maintain respect for the office. If he had made similar comments regarding Bush while he was in office, I would have felt this was inappropriate.
2. Again, I think had Bush been in office and someone made these comments about him, people would have said, "This attendant is a threat and is unpatriotic."
3. As much as people disliked Bill Clinton, I am completely unable to recall one moment when anyone questioned his citizenship nor called him the antichrist and meant it. People do this to Obama. I am unable to come up with any other explanation for the severity of these accusations other than racism. Racism. These comments are racist. These comments are proof positive that we have not overcome racism - as if anyone should think we have in just a few short decades.
4. I was excited to learn something about a crucial appointment and instead was subjected to hate speech. What happened to civil discourse about such important issues?

Here's what I think has happened to civil discourse:
1. Politically correct speech became a tool to stifle any dissenting comments and led people to fear being labeled or misunderstood. Politically correct speech was intended to simply push us to be more aware of others. The intent was to try to think about how what we said might affect our listeners. This is a good idea. We should be aware of how we are saying what we are saying. Unfortunately, it made us so afraid of insulting someone and being labeled a bigot or ignorant that we quit talking altogether - well many of us.
2. Backlash. The backlash against PC speech has led to a "I can say what I want, when I want" attitude in folks. The media adopted this and the crazy hard right has made a science, literally, out of it. Karl Rove is undoubtedly the king of this movement and has deftly proliferated the school of "if you say it, they will believe it." The news now is less about fact finding and more about sensationalizing a story for the profit.
3. For some reason, we seem to believe (we = US Citizens) that to listen, to acknowledge a person who does not agree with us, and to believe that we may have something more to learn about our own beliefs is equivalent to moral weakness regardless of whether you are on the right or the left.
4. Getting a little philosophical here, we are clinging tight to a belief that binary oppositions are real. We want to believe that things are either right or wrong, black or white, Republican or Democrat, good or bad, just or unjust, yours or mine, us vs. them, with us or against us. The result is, if I'm right, you're wrong. Period. PC speech or radical speech. No middle ground. If you get what you want, I don't get what I want.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tea Parties

OK so this is on the "Tea Party Patriots" website and was posted not long ago:

"Tea Party Patriots consists of everyday Americans who once again have realized that vigilance and sacrifice is required to protect liberty. An overbearing government will only extinguish liberty, it can only enslave, governments cannot give freedom. To feel the sting of sacrifice in the cause of liberty is to know what it costs to be free. Have you paid your price for liberty yet? What have you sacrificed? Nothing? What can you sacrifice? Talent? Charity? Time? What should be sacrificed today, in the fight for liberty?"

Now, I agree completely with this statement. I believe that sacrifice is required to protect liberty. I agree that an overbearing government is to be feared and contained. I believe in serving my community which is why I have chosen a life of service and I regularly donate to my favorite charities. So, why do I get irritated with the "Tea Party" folks if I agree so much with something they posted on their website?

Well, I guess we disagree with how government should be involved in our lives. I, dare I say it, believe in taxes. I am not ashamed to admit this. I LOVE public libraries.

Did you know in many other, even developed, countries you can look at books in the library but you can't remove them from the library. Our tax dollars provide that. I also like to drive. I know that's not a very eco-friendly statement, but I love that our tax dollars provide these great roads that I love to drive on.

I also like the police. Not that there aren't problems within individual precincts and we all know that the best police are well-educated, represent a wide spectrum of our community etc. This takes money - tax money. I love the fire department too. They don't bring in their own revenue people, they subsist on tax dollars.

I also love public transportation, not just for the eco-friendliness of it, but also that it can get people to work. Public transportation also provides a low-cost way for people to get to jobs. The more we subsidize it, the more people can work.

You don't like people coming into the country illegally (the Tea Party Patriots website supports SB1070)? Well, the border patrol is paid for by taxes folks.

Did you know that big business receives an exponentially greater proportion of subsidies than any welfare program and yet we require very little reporting on how those businesses use those subsidies? Oh, and I believe in public education and that it is a fundamentally crucial aspect of a viable democracy. I just don't agree with how it is funded locally.

So, taxes are good for us. I believe in our government, both local and federal, providing essential services to us, in helping to support us when we are sick or out of work. I'm not saying these systems are perfect. But let's look at the contradictions espoused by this "Tea Party."

1. Overbearing governments enslave people (their words)- the Patriot Act is one of the single most devastating acts against freedom and democracy. I don't agree with our own government being able to inspect my health records, tap my phone or internet dialogue without subpoena. I also don't believe our government should be required to demand papers based on random suspicion - what I look like (SB1070). Hello, this reeks of tyranny.
2. Bringing " principles back to our government." - hello, we are in the recession because of highly deregulated markets. Even Thomas Jefferson felt that corporations needed to be limited. In fact, early on in our nation's history, corporations were limited in the time they were allowed to exist. Jefferson felt that companies should not be allow to exist in perpetuity. The Bill of Rights was not written to include corporate rights either.
3. We are not being taxed without representation. We voted in our representatives. Policies that affect how we do business are being made without representation - it's called the G8. Large multi-national corporations are making laws without representation. That is undemocratic.
4. Have you noticed that most of the people at these Tea Parties are white?
5. Tax dollars aren't sacrifice to liberty and freedom? I think so.

Bottom line, I agree with the principles of liberty, flexing our right to protest against what we see as abuses against our liberties, and I love our country too. This is why I believe in taxes, I don't believe in SB1070, I believe in a regulated free-market, I believe in individual - not corporate- rights. Where were these people when laws are passed that determine that I can't marry who I want? Where were these people when the government was passing the Patriot Act? Where were these people when our government was letting business/banks make abusive lending decisions that have impoverished our nation?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Let's Substitute the Name Bush for Obama

I saw this going around on Facebook just the other day. Take a look at it and then substitute the name "Bush" for "Obama." Then honestly answer the question, "What do you think a non-Obama fan would say to this if this had been posted during the Bush Administration?"


Seriously people. First of all, how 'bout you spell Swayze right?? Can you at least Google "Swayzie" to confirm you have his name right? 

Secondly, if I or any other non-Bush fan had said something like this during the Bush Administration we would have heard one of the following responses: 

  • If you don't love this country then leave it. 
  • You have to at least respect the office of the president.
  • Are you threatening the president?
  • Really, Farah Fawcett is your favorite actress?? Cause if so, then you'd know her name is actually Farrah, not Farah....
Let's try not to be hypocritical people.