Wednesday, August 27, 2008

partisan tax narratives: readjustment

Crooks and Liars sets CNN straight on tax plans under McCain and Obama. Obama is better on taxes for all voters making under $110,000 -- yet people continue to pass along the meme that Republicans = lower taxes. Well, at least for the top 1%. This is a totally handy graph.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

roly poly cat

There's also an awesome video -- a woman with a midwestern accent describing Katya as "round" three times in under a minute and a half.

Friday, August 22, 2008

how many trips to target does it take...

So the Madison apartment is *almost* set up. Except for the boxes that are still in the mail. This process would have been less draining if we hadn't just moved out of my studio at Stanford and deep-cleaned the hell out of it. Even though we did have one night out at a French restaurant in Menlo Park as a reward after the keys were returned.

We flew into Madison late Monday, and were met by Andrew's dad. Luckily he had a hotel we could stay at the first two nights, as the apartment wasn't really ready for us.

Day 1: Got to the apartment early to meet the movers, who somehow *forgot* Andrew's couch. I saw the apartment for the first time, and was way impressed by the living room and dining room's wood floors, bay windows, and French doors. I was underwhelmed by the bathroom (tiny, with peeling wallpaper; worn out enamel and rusted surfaces in the bathtub, sink, and toilet seat) and the kitchen (icky beige square linoleum, appliances at least as old as I am). And if you need aversion therapy, have we got the creepy basement for you! Old cobwebs, piles of plaster, dark corners, mysterious cords and cables that serve no discernable purpose, a staircase that seems to be holding up by the power of habit alone... However, both of the neighbors have amazing cats.

Anyways, after a bit of cleaning (behind the fridge: disgusting), we took a much needed lunch break at Monty's. Then the shopping began. Home Depot, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond... that night we got more cleaning done while Andrew spent like two hours installing a light over the kitchen sink. The bathroom began to be redeemed by a new toilet seat and the BEST THING THAT TARGET SELLS: a shower curtain with brown curly cues and blue birds. Around which the entire bathroom is now based. (Andrew says not to look up while showering, as the peeling wallpaper doesn't inspire confidence, but since I don't have my contacts installed when I shower, I just enjoy the shower curtain in blissful ignorance.)

Another much needed meal: The Weary Traveler, one of my favorites, which we are only two blocks away from.

Day 2: Again, got to the apartment early, this time to meet the cable person. And to pay for the dining table and chairs that we had scouted out at St. Vincent's (hereafter, St. Vinnie's) the evening before. At which time I also discovered an old wooden dresser that I thought would *maybe* be an improvement over Andrew's Ikea-ware. We took a break downtown for lunch at the Marigold Cafe. And then we launched into what had to be the most visits to Wal-marts and Targets in one day, ever. We unexpectedly found nice curtains at Wal-mart for the living room (sage herringbone). But the East town Wal-mart had only four panels, and we needed six for the three windows in the living room. The Wal-mart infrastructure was too shoddy for us to call up and check availability/ locations, so we then went to the next nearest Wal-mart in south town, where they had one more panel. Which meant ANOTHER Wal-mart, on the west side, where they had like four. SUCCESS. Meanwhile, we were also scouting down yellow linen curtains for the dining room, of which I only wanted one panel per window (three windows, again). This time, though, we were able to reserve a curtain at another Target, this one in Fitchburg. At some point we had a fast food dinner break at Chili's. I also found a great '50s-esque low yellow armchair at a Goodwill for 15$. Which goes in the study, with my old curtains, and a great scratched up bookcase from St Vinnie's.

That night I was determined to stay at the apartment and get some work done. We stayed up till 1:30 am: Andrew put together a wire kitchen pantry (since there isn't a ton of cupboard or counter space). I had earlier started cleaning/lining shelves, which I think I finished at this point. My greatest achievements, however, were getting all the old dusty white curtains down, and replacing them with our new ones. And cleaning out the disgusting window sills. And cutting/hanging a shower curtain over the window in the shower.

Day 3: After a quick breakfast at Lazy Jane's, we loaded up the community car truck with the furniture from St. Vinnie's (dining set & dresser for like 120$). Then it was back to Wal-mart & Target for returns and exchanges (blue curtains that didn't work out in the kitchen). And Woodman's for a stock up food trip.

Andrew's dad was very ready to go at this point, and we continued to work at our pace. We had the kitchen up and ready for our first dinner in the apartment. Most of the kitchen stuff was in the cupboards (cleaned and lined by myself), and after a thorough wiping down of the countertops, I felt relatively at home preparing food. Which turned out to be sandwiches (Andrew's, turkey & spinach/tomato/banana peppers, mine with cheese curds) and spinach/asparagus salad.

That night we got through most of the bedroom stuff that needed to be put away. Andrew has A LOT OF CLOTHES. We have the new dresser, and a walk-in closet in the bedroom with a sloped ceiling...with the old Ikea dresser for "sentimental" and/or out of season clothes. EVERYTHING IS FULL. And the only clothing of mine right now is what was in my suitcase, and a few packed things. I went through Andrew's clothes, and asked the key questions: do you like this? have you worn it in the last two years? do you plan to wear it? Too many of the answers were negative.

Since then we've taken it a little easier... although, again: cable guy yesterday morning because nothing was working...More unpacking of boxes, as everything shipped via Fedex came. We integrated some of the stuff from my apartment. Made the bedroom prettier. Got most of the study set up. Got the boxes down the narrow scary staircase into the creepy basement. Watched the neighbor cat catch a cicada in the backyard. Took a run to drop off stuff at St. Vinnie's, get another curtain rod at the hardware store, re-caffeinate at Mother Fool's (best local coffee shop), and pick stuff up at the co-op. All of which are, awesomely, within like five or six blocks of the apartment.

The best room, I think, is the dining room (as seen from the living room, facing the kitchen):

Here's the living room, with me starting The House of Mirth:

hint to blogger

If you suddenly get to the backlog of youtube posts that never posted, DON'T ALLOW THEM THROUGH DURING THE ONLY THREE DAYS I DON'T HAVE INTERNET ACCESS. Jesus.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

fightin' words

Just saw this at Crooks and Liars -- The Boston Globe tallies the most-used words on the respective candidates' sites:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

mccain on reproduction

He's not very progressive. From The New Republic:

McCain's maverick reputation and his calculated political meanderings on choice add up to one thing: The public thinks McCain just might be a moderate on abortion.

The fact that he's not could matter a great deal in the election. According to one poll, about half of all women voters backing McCain said they were pro-choice, including 36 percent who say they strongly support Roe. More importantly, these women voters think that McCain might agree with them on abortion. The same research found that "more than seven in ten pro-choice McCain supporters ... have yet to learn that McCain's position on abortion is directly at odds with their own." And the issue is not that they don't care. One June poll found that, when Democratic women voters in twelve battleground states learned McCain's position on abortion, Obama gained twelve points among them...

When pressed to speak about them, he often evinces stunning ignorance, a fact that helps reassure the moderate middle that he could not possibly be as conservative as his record suggests. In early July, for example, a reporter raised the issue of whether it was "unfair" that insurance companies cover Viagra but not birth control. His response was painful to watch: "I certainly do not want to discuss that issue," he said immediately. She then asked about his votes against legislation requiring insurance plans to cover prescription birth control, legislation the anti-contraception right strongly opposed. He rubbed his mouth, rolled his eyes, flexed his fingers, crossed his arms, and more, before admitting, "I don't know enough about it to give you an informed answer." Finally, he told the reporter that he did not recall how he voted. "It's something that I had not thought much about," he added.

At another press conference, when a journalist asked him whether he thought contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV, he paused--for much too long--then answered, "You've stumped me." The reporter asked whether U.S. taxpayer money should fund contraception to prevent aids in Africa. "I'm not very wise on it," McCain said. What about grants for sex education? A long pause, then, "Ahhh. I think I support the president's policy." And, when the reporter pressed again, he finally said (after a reported twelve-second pause), "I've never gotten into these issues before"--an odd statement, given that he has voted on legislation related to all of them...

But, as on abortion, both data and anecdote show there is little latitude in his positions. He has voted to end the Title X family-planning program, which pays for everything from birth control to breast cancer screenings and which is a target for the right because the recipients of these dollars also tend to be clinics that offer contraception to unwed and underage women and that offer abortions. He has backed largely discredited abstinence-only education, voting in 1996 to take $75 million from the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant to establish such a program; ten years later, he voted against teen-pregnancy prevention programs. He has supported parental notification laws governing not only abortion but contraception for teens, and, though he didn't want to talk to the press about it, he's voted against requiring insurance companies to cover birth control. In international family affairs, McCain has voted not only in favor of the global gag rule, but also to defund the United Nations group that provides family-planning services (not abortions) for poor women, and to spend a third of overseas HIV/AIDS prevention funds on abstinence education.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

very true

Because for some reason we can say we want lighter periods, but not more worry-free sex?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

beach bumming

Pictures from the beach -- at Big Sur, where land previously shut down by forest fires has just been reopened... and where the beach was too pretty to miss, even though it meant no hiking. And from Pescadero, where we DID go hiking at Butano State Park, & explored another mostly deserted (but foggy) beach.

Friday, August 08, 2008

on the rapture

I'm kind of intrigued by apocalyptic visions, especially as they keep, you know, NOT COMING TRUE. Amanda at Pandagon had a great post linking the fear of death to the strangely persistent (and growing?) belief that the Rapture will happen 'in our time':

Apocalypse scenarios put that fear to rest, especially if the apocalypse comes in your lifetime. Consider that 55% of Americans believe in the Rapture, and then consider that pretty much all portrayals of when this will happen coming from religious leadership---from the Left Behind books to evangelical pews to the Christian Zionist movement---put it sometime next week. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but really, there’s a strong sense amongst believers that this will happen in their lifetime. The fantasy loses all appeal if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, if you think about it, because the whole point of being Raptured is a) you don’t suffer a bodily death and b) history ends when you do, so you can’t be forgotten. Not all apocalypse fantasies are so simple-minded,** but pretty much all address this core fear that history will go on without you and you’ll be forgotten to the point where it’s like you never lived at all...

I do think that there’s a real danger in apocalyptic rhetoric coming from environmentalists on this issue, even if I’ve crossed that line myself in frustration. And it’s because of this theory I’ve outlined above that the apocalypse is a comforting idea. Fundamentalist Christians who believe in the End Times are trying to hustle them in, and if global warming gets stuck in that loop, a lot of people have no reason to lift a finger against it. Telling people what they want to hear---that history is going to end in their lifetimes---is not going to get them moving. I think the more realistic vision that humanity will move on, but we could be looking at a new Dark Age of a sort that’s probably hard to even predict, will be more effective...

Is there a sense that apocalyptic fantasizing is in a big upswing in our society? I say yes. The amazing growth spurt in belief in the End Times in our society is unmistakable, in fact. Why is this? I think it’s a reaction to modernity.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

all dickens all the time

Except for when it's Gaskell.

I'm back from Santa Cruz, after a week of intensive listening, reading, and bonding. It's crazy how close I felt to the group of fellow female Victorianists. One afternoon we cut an afternoon talk (which weren't really pitched at us anyways, but rather to the elderhostelers, who were often grumbly and grumpy, and resented reading Gaskell so much that they wanted tshirts that say, instead of "Dickens Universe," "I survived Gaskell nation") to swim at the pool. We took over two lanes and paddled around, and spotted other Dickens Universe participants, but decided we were sufficiently difficult to recognize in the pool. At some point, sitting in the sun, after seeing what everyone remembered of cartwheels and round-offs, we somehow got round to girl talk (the "wait, who do you like?" sort of thing), and I *seriously* felt like we were at summer camp.

The highlight was probably learning the Roger de Coverley dance with someone dressed in period as a Victorian captain as my partner, and being "bottom lady" to a "top gentleman" in a period suit. So now I better understand the dance that seems to be featured in every Austen movie adaptation ever made. But at some point I gave up -- particularly on the waltz -- and watched from the sidelines and caught up with Kenny.

Kind of sad to leave. Although I totally appreciate my bed and my shower (because it doesn't remind me of trying to wash soap off while standing under a drizzling cloud). And I'm totally ready to read something besides Hard Times.