Fatigue Fatigue

Election fatigue.  Fiscal Cliff fatigue.  War fatigue.  War hero sex scandal fatigue.  Bomb Iran or not fatigue. Crazy politicians saying psycho things fatigue. Human-engineered natural disasters fatigue. Finger-pointing fatigue.  European debt crisis fatigue.  Stock market sinking fatigue.  Living in precarious economic times (controlled by others) fatigue.  Dealing with a failing parent fatigue.

Wow, I am tired.  If one or more of these things come to fruition, it (or they) will dwarf the others and can send our nation, our society and/or just me into a tailspin.

In fact, I was too tired to get all excited that President Obama was re-elected.  I was more relieved that the months of uncertainty were over.  And BOB, who lives in a Red State, wrote a poignant Facebook post just before the election that made me re-think any self righteous glee after the president’s re-election.  BOB wrote:

I don’t post, particularly about politics. Others do, for whatever reason. I am certain that whoever wins the election tomorrow, and his supporters, will continue to be reviled and mocked by those that did not vote for him. I do not care who my friends vote for and will respect the fact that they believe what they believe. I do not try to lobby them and I ignore any efforts to lobby me. The diversity we have is what makes us a unique place in the world and what makes no sense to one makes all the sense in the world to another. So, my hope is that on Wednesday morning we get back to (or start) respecting each other, doing good in our own way and not just complaining about what others are not doing the way we see fit, and working together instead of bullying and demeaning, recognizing that it is too late to take all of that money that was spent (read: wasted) campaigning on all levels to help feed hungry mouths here and elsewhere around the globe. And that’s all I have to say about that.

BOB is a good and smart man.

But Nate Silver (fivethirtyeight.com) is my new pin-up boy (ok, so many levels of complexity there).  Nate:  you have gotten far too many love letters from straight and gay men and women for a numbers geek.  I think Brad Pitt’s agent is trying to have the exact tally sealed.  It is a Hollywood thing.  And that guy with a girl’s name who is really popular now is soooooo not loving you right now.  Neither is Karl Rove and that is just fine with me.

But, I digress, comme d’habitude.

I am so tired of our national issues being treated like a really bad reality TV show that masquerades as news.

I am hungry for good news, for hope, for public service without political advantage.  I am hungry for good things happening to good people who work hard and do the right thing.  I am hungry for a commitment by those of us who have more to share with those who have less.  Not wealth redistribution; rather, compassion.

Good policy and hope come from searching, sometimes emotional, debates about our national values and our common future and how we best meet the challenges ahead.  It involves compromise and respect.  It is not a winner-take-all game.

Until then, the fatigue will slowly, but surely, become indifference or powerlessness.  And, assuming it spreads beyond just me to the greater populace, that will bring a good and mighty nation to its knees more surely than any war or any economic crisis could ever.

Even More to Talk About

COB (colleague of blogger), wants to write for the Alternate View (see prior blog entries).  He thinks Blogger and SNOBFOB (my awesomely funny friend who isn’t so sure she wants to be associated with blogger on-line) should try a YouTube video first, one that is a “parody” of The View.
Here are his ideas for the guests:
  1. Someone from the “Iced” Tea Party [blogger comment:  or The Latte League, truly effete, New York liberal intellectuals]
  2. A 10 year-old who has ideas for running government more efficiently [blogger comment: or Christine O’Donnell, who has the IQ of a ten year-old and is a witch to boot]
  3. A gay/lesbian person who is against same sex marriage [blogger comment: or Mr. Michele Bachmann, who thinks he cured himself]
  4. A person who is now an actor/actress since they can’t get a different job in this economy [blogger comment: because everyone assumes actors and actresses, especially the most talented ones, are unemployed]
  5. A crazy person (COB thinks I could fill that role.) [blogger comment: I think COB could audition for this role.]
Not a bad start.

Tragedy on so many levels

In Tucson, many are dead and injured as a result of a deranged man with a deranged message.

Let’s put aside the left blaming the right and whether it is foreseeable that a lunatic would do this.  That conversation will get us nowhere and misses the point.

I think it is more worthwhile to wonder why politics is a bloodsport these days in a way that we haven’t seen since in perhaps a century.

Let’s think instead about how our politician are so invested in being right that they vilify the oppositional view and the integrity of its proponents.  In 2008, when Michele Bachmann said that then candidate Barack Obama and Michele Obama were “anti-American” because they hold views different from hers, that is a code that our country is being infiltrated by enemies.  Think about it, she said that the likely 44th President was the Manchurian Candidate of the movies.  And in the movies, a lone gunman (the good guy) kills the Manchurian Candidate.

Then Sarah Palin has a website that has a target on Rep. Giffords’ district (“in the cross-hairs”) for some reason or other.  Or the famous, Palinism: “don’t back down, just reload” or something like that.  Words have meaning, even if you try afterward to refudiate them.

This is war-speak.  And in war, enemies are killed, and our soldiers come home to heroes’ welcomes (ideally).  But war produces body-bags, brutality, starvation, desperation and carnage.

Is that the fevered pitch we want in our national discourse?  So, let us speak gently and with respect when we debate.  Even if we have to fake it.

Let’s set some ground rules:

  1. A socialist and tea-party member can love this country and protect the very institutions of government that make us strong.
  2. It isn’t about being right; it is about building a consensus and keeping this country great.
  3. Political defeat is hard to take but you can’t take your marbles and go home or start threatening people.
  4. The media does more to stoke the divisions than provide any useful information.
  5. If our nation tacks to the left or right, some people will not be pleased, but they must always remain the loyal opposition. (It is hard; I know. I had to endure the policies of George Bush and Dick Cheney and even some of President Obama’s policies I don’t like).
  6. Exemplifying and practicing the principles of this nation are essential for this country to move forward in one piece and in peace.

Sanchez and Stewart — A Re-Think

A friend from high school sent me a message and thought I should rethink my prior blog entry on the Sanchez and Stewart dust-up (http://40andoverblog.com/?p=2921).

I re-read it and my high school friend was right that I was unduly harsh and outrageously judgmental (and, although she didn’t say it, I will add, hypocritical) in my comments about Jon Stewart’s religious observance.  It is none of my business and I was out of line.

I still believe that there was a potential for a teachable moment with Rick Sanchez, where we could talk about the source of the anger.  There is so much anger in our society right now that I just wish we would look more closely at it, together, and find some common ground and possibly healing.

And even as I was trying to make that point in my prior blog entry, I took a needless and shameful pot-shot at Jon Stewart.  As much as I love Jon Stewart and I would bear his children if I could (POB (partner of blogger) knows this and accepts this because, well, it is biologically impossible anyway), some things about him push my buttons and I react irrationally.  Maybe that it why I feel bad (a little) for Rick Sanchez (whose show is, in my opinion, so bad as to be unwatchable).

Anyway, to my high school friend, thank you for “calling me” on this and I expect you to keep me in line as you see fit.

~ Blogger

Flying into the Wild Blue Yonder

So, I was coming home from an interminable conference on Saturday night.  I knew I was in trouble when my row was called right after first class and those needing extra help or assistance.  My row was the last row in the plane.  The seat doesn’t recline.  The bathroom was behind me and, behind that, the flight attendant service station.  It was 8pm and I was exhausted.  Someone used the bathroom while the plane was on the ground so I could get a preview of the wooooooshing waterpark experience that would almost consume me by the trip’s end.

I wanted to scream.  The flight attendants were gossiping in loud, high-pitched voices that made me understand air rage.  Luckily, the seats next to me were empty.  At least, I would not feel claustrophobic.  But, wait, a couple changed seats so they could sit together — next to me.  The man sat next to me and sat “wide” in that way that makes you wonder if there is something horribly wrong with his testicles.  Then he opene food that he bought in the food court in the airport, overwhelming me with the smell of deep-fried, faux Mexican food.   So, no sleep for me on this plane ride.

Luckily, Jet Blue provides free TV (it charges for the headphones ($2) and the blanket and pillow ($7)).  So many channels, so little to watch.  I was desperate so I watched a Nicholas Cage movie.  I am sure he is a fine actor, but all I can think about is his financial problems.  (Why do I know this about him?) The man made millions and didn’t understand that buying multiple, multi-million dollar homes could bankrupt a person, or at least cause a cash squeeze?  It is hard for me to watch someone who is either a raving idiot or a male version of a prima donna who can’t take responsibility for his decisions.  The saving grace in the movie was Téa Leoni, who was just enchanting.  She made me think of Ingrid Bergman.  The movie was so plodding that I had to turn off the sound.  Then I remembered (ok, I googled it) that Téa Leoni is married to David Duchovny.  All I know about David Duchovny other than he starred in the X-Files is that he was at some point being treated for a sex addiction.  Why do I know that?  The same way I know about Nicholas Cage and that Lindsay Lohan has a drug problem even though I could not pick her out of a crowd and have never seen her in a movie.  Popular culture seeps through even my best defenses.

My head aches from all of this useless information.  I hope someone devises a brain dialysis soon so we can flush out useless information and reinvigorate those sad brain cells that have to hold that useless information.  Poor, poor, brain cells.  Help is on the way.

Tim Burton’s version of Toy Story

I haven’t seen Toy Story 3 yet but I understand that there is a bear that is cuddly even though it is the evil character in the film.

Because life imitates art (for example, Mel Gibson is still a star despite hateful speech and threats of violence), this evil bear is all the rage among the under 6 set.  It wasn’t always the Cabbage Patch Doll redux; in fact, at one point, you could buy one huggable version and get the second one for half price. 

A friend has a 3 year-old who desperately wants one and now these bears are all sold out.  He knows that his friend’s wife bought two bears on special and wanted to buy one from her.  She wouldn’t sell it to him.  He then goes home and proceeds to scare his child into tears so he could take a picture and post it on facebook with the caption, “I am crying because Aunt [name withheld] won’t sell Daddy the cuddly bear”.

Even Seinfeld couldn’t have dreamed up this one.

I told my friend I would blog about this because the world needs to know this scary toy story.

BP — Beyond Pathos

Today, there was a fire on the BP ship that is siphoning the oil from the half-capped gushing breach.  Just add this to the ever-growing list of bad and greedy decisions and botched and mismanaged corrective efforts.

Sometimes people are so recklessly stupid and ineffectual that they deserve to go to prison just for these reasons alone.   Criminal stupidity and inefficacy in the first degree should be punishable by life imprisonment.  And the entire management of BP should be shackled right about now.  And the people who didn’t fire them when their stupidity and inefficacies were evident also deserve orange jumpsuits.

And now we have to rely on the government workers led by different party machines in the various gulf states.  These are the individuals who, according to popular wisdom, didn’t qualify for the private sector jobs at companies like BP.   Give up all hope.

If President Obama could plug this hole, he would.  If they try another top kill, I am sure he will insist on jettisoning BP’s CEO, the director of the MMS (and other government officials who allowed the oil companies to write their own rules) and maybe even Rand Paul, as part of the junk blast into the hole.

When my son is an Olympian

On Sunday night, we gathered for the usual family dinner.  This time, we ate out, courtesy of Dad who stuck a crowbar in his wallet and sprung for the bill.  It was my (older) sister’s 50th birthday.  It was literally the least he could do.  I did the least I could do as well by merely showing up.  At least our son made a card.

Our son mentioned he would rather be watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.  Ok, he doesn’t get the tact award.  My cousin asked our son about what he saw and learned from watching the Olympics.  He said that every night, he and I went over the sports that were too dangerous for him to try.  My cousin asked what sport he could try and he answered, “curling”.  My cousin leaned over and asked me in a sidebar, “how long do these prohibitions last?” to which I responded quite emphatically, “until I am DEAD!!”

Bottom line, my son will never make the skeleton or the luge team, as if they are sports anyway.  They are kamikaze runs.  Have you noticed that the winter sports are REALLY dangerous?  Just ask any insurance agent whether some of these athletes can get life insurance.  Ok, maybe Lloyd’s of London will insure these athletes.  But then again, Lloyd’s insured the Argentine fleet against the British navy in that not-so-recent unpleasantness over the Falkland Islands.  (Remind me why those islands mattered enough to risk lives?)  Then again, Lloyd’s behavior seems quaint in the wake of the global economic collapse created by a few 25 year-old derivatives traders and short sellers.  But I digress.

Curling isn’t really an option, either.  It looks like “extreme housekeeping” with those hot iron and the brooms.  And my son, a chip off the ol’ block that he is, knows gornischt (nothing) about housekeeping.

Enough Polling, Please

What I have learned by being sick at home watching news shows in between naps and flu-induced coma like behavior:

There is a “just released” poll for everything nowadays.  There are instant polls and twitter polls.  There are online polls and telephone polls.  While the actual number crunching may be scientific, there is nothing scientific about the responses. 

Let’s say my commute took twice as long as normal and my boss was angry that I was late to a meeting and all of a sudden because of the economy I am a little more nervous about job security than I might have been two years ago.  Now someone calls me tonight and asks, how am I feeling about the economy.  My answer may be “lousy”.  The day before I might have said, “stabilizing”.  The poll measures how you feel at that moment which isn’t right or wrong — it just isn’t the whole picture. 

Also the way the question is asked often leads to a more optimistic or pessimistic answer.  “Do you feel the country is on the wrong course?”  “Do you think that President Obama is indecisive on Afghanistan?” 

Or if you use a measure of 100 days or 1000 days or 5 minutes, it gives immediate legitimacy to the notion that these are relevant time measures for progress on incredibly complicated and pervasive issues.  Go figure. 

Maybe a better poll would ask, “over the past 6 months, has your outlook changed on [insert crisis du jour]?  And how has your outlook changed?”  And even that can be corrupted if you use a benchmark date.  “Since Labor Day, how have you been feeling about [insert crisis du jour]?”  Chances are that that question will elicit a negative response because end of summer is bittersweet.  Ask people on Thanksgiving Day and the answers may be more philosophical.    

I am of course exaggerating, and I must confess that I am unencumbered by fact, information and background in poll taking.  But I can’t imagine that these things don’t have an effect.

The biggest danger is that instant polling, first 100-day polling and second 100-day polling cement these arbitrary time frames and in a time where instant gratification and diminishing attention spans are prevailing social disorders, this is frightening indeed.

Just the G-d-Awful Flu

Since Friday, I have been felled by the flu.  I don’t have mad sow flu, or H1N1, as it is supposedly called.

I am now recovering from the usual, seasonal, G-d-awful flu.  It happens.  The non-designer, non-pandemic one.  I even had a flu shot which I have to say probably made it less horrendous than it could have been.

My sister the doctor was concerned that I was dying of the plague because I didn’t blog for days.  Yes, I had to have been pretty hard hit not to blog, or, for that matter, to pay a shiva call to my friend whose mother’s funeral I attended last week (see prior blog entry).

The flu, once medicated, is the moral equivalent of a stubbed toe.  Yet, I longed to hear my mother say, “my poor tsakele, if I could have it for you I would,” as she looked into my eyes and caressed my cheek in that way that mothers do that make you feel better just by having them there.

POB, partner of blogger, has been in the trenches with our son, getting him from place to place, while I lied in bed doing the least I could do.  Really, the least I could do.  And she is a trooper (who is now coughing, because I share too much).

I took a walk yesterday because I was becoming self-radicalized watching CNN and MSNBC in between naps over the last few days.  I was woozy and thought it would be a great idea to go to the gym.  (I need a personal attendant.)  I went to the gym and did nothing except watch the people who are able to go to the gym on a Monday at 3:30pm, while I scrubbed with Purell.  Luckily the medication dried me out so much that I neither blew my nose or coughed much.  One general observation:  the beautiful, the buff and the young don’t go to the gym in the afternoon.  The older, schleppier and grayer do.

I left the gym having not sweat or done anything to shore up my sagging self and walked south for no reason (ok, no sane reason).  I went into PC Richards and Sons and looked at Plasma TVs.  I thought maybe if I bought a big plasma TV, I could tell POB that it was the delirium that did it.  Even in my delirium I knew that was stupid, yet wishful, thinking.

Friends tried to make me feel better by emailing me stories of the weird and blog-worthy.   My old friend started out his email by writing: “My dear son didn’t really do anything wrong (that’s what every parent says).”  Followed by, wait for it . . .


Walk-weary, I took to my bed and resumed doing the least I could do.

Dr. SOB (Sister of Blogger), are you satisfied that I am on the road to recovery?