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Archive for May, 2007

I read pretty voraciously but I admit I enjoy sitting in front of the tube, usually while doing something else like reading. I tend to like the traditional dramas or “dramadies” as they’re now called. There are a few shows I watch regularly but nothing has inspired me to become a long-term fan like I used to be. This year’s season finales have really annoyed me for some reason. I guess that’s okay. I won’t need to make the effort next season to be home on Thursday (or Wednesday or Sunday) evening. I’ll read more or get out more. Still, I can’t help but feel disappointed, as if an old friend has let me down. Maybe I should look into premium cable.

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Summer may be just around the corner, but it’s not a great time to think about living at or heading to the Jersey shore. For one thing, a terrible fire over the last few days has destroyed much of the Pine Barrens, a protected wetlands by the ocean, threatening homes and necessitating the evacuation of hundreds. The fire was started by a flare shot from an Air National Guard plane during a training routine. Last year, an Air National Guard pilot accidentally strafed an empty New Jersey school, also during a training routine. Time for some new routines. Meanwhile, unexploded munitions dating back to World War II were discovered earlier this month at another Jersey beach during a replenishment project conducted by the Army Corps. It’s hoped the beach will be rendered safe and open in time for Memorial Day. I’d suggest spreading the towel and slathering on the sunscreen but maybe hold off on digging for clams.

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Confusion

I probably don’t understand the way politics work as well as I should. That’s why I was a little confused when I heard that the number two man at Justice had resigned. Isn’t everyone clamoring for number one at Justice to resign? I’m also losing count of just how many people have left the department in the past year or so. Granted, it’s a big department but if you add the eight fired attorneys and the four resignations to the normal attrition, that’s a lot of job openings. And talk about losing count: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is considering a run for the White House in ’08 as is lawyer, actor and former Senator Fred Thompson. That makes how many within the Republican party alone – twelve? If Bloomberg jumps in, we’ll have a baker’s dozen. Good grief, how am I supposed to tell all these amazingly homogeneous candidates apart? And imagine the debates: will anyone get a word in edgewise or will it all devolve into a confusing babble?

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Mother’s Day is a holiday, I guess. It’s more than a private observation but seems less than those old standbys that celebrate religious holy days or nation-founding, national independence or national heroes. On Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day), businesses that would normally be open on Sunday (which itself used to be a major holiday) are open and those people who normally work on Sundays are working. Yes, there are Mother’s Day sales and Mother’s Day brunches. Still, it was weird to hear someone say last Friday, “Have a nice holiday.” But maybe that’s me. Mother’s Day isn’t my holiday; my mom is no longer living and I never had kids. I always feel a little excluded and a little sad, to be honest. However, I did receive a card from the dog, thanking me for all I do. I suspect a human hand behind her thoughtful gesture but even so, it’s nice to know I’m appreciated.

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There are so many things on my mind today: Tony Blair’s announced departure and his complicated legacy; the proposed R-rating for movies that “glamorize” smoking along with sex and violence (I hope that’s not retroactive); nagging questions about whether Ben really murdered John Locke on “Lost.” Yet here I am obsessing about the letter to the editor I saw in today’s paper from a high school junior. Never mind what it was about. It was a terrific letter: reasoned, thoughtful and extremely well-written. Given what passes for communication these days, it’s nice to know we can still come upon articulate expression from the under-eighteen set. Anyway, it just sort of made my day.

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…for the ashes of James (Scotty from “Startrek”) Doohan and Gordon (the Mercury astronaut) Cooper, which ended up falling back to the New Mexico desert from which they were shot into space; for a copy of Michael Moore’s film, which he is hiding while he tussles with the Treasury Department over the trip he took to Cuba with several ill ground zero workers supposedly to get help for them and to illustrate the failing U.S. health care system (there’s a line somewhere that got crossed, I think); for the secret to success and happiness, which you can find either in dozens of self-help books or “Reader’s Digest” articles that have been published over the years, or in the newest fad reading, The Secret, for which you can shell out $34.95 to learn to send out only positive thoughts. I get it: just don’t say no.

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I’m a bit behind on my reading, which means I’m busy, which is good. However, one headline caught my eye today: “Maryland is the First State to Require a Living Wage.” There’s a lot to say about this subject and of course it’s more complicated than the headline implies. But isn’t it something that here we are in the richest country in the world, in the twenty-first century no less, and one state is finally addressing this issue. Kind of boggles the mind.

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Say What?

CBS News’ Web site has been receiving so many ugly comments about Barak Obama, it’s blocking all reader comments about its Obama stories. What? My first thought was: What are these jerks writing, racist rants or threats? Then I wondered whether Hillary was getting nasty comments because she’s a woman, or Mitt Romney because he’s a Mormon. How do you decide what’s too ugly, especially when it comes to the Internet? Look, hateful expression makes me sick but hate is everywhere and it’s not going away just because you try to stifle its expression. It’s difficult for me to imagine Barak Obama inspires so much vitriol because of (presumably) his race; maybe it’s a few crazies who keep posting. Well, let’s see it. Bring it on. No time like the present to get this crap out in the open so we can address it.

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Whether the Weather

My parents moved to Florida to escape the harsh Wisconsin winters; they moved to Sarasota on the west coast to experience weather fluctuations. My mom especially wanted to see storm clouds, wear sweatshirts in January, feel the wind, hear the rain. Given that they lived on a key, they certainly got their wish, actually evacuating a couple of times. Up here in the mid-Atlantic States, we have our own kind of weather fluctuations – an extra warm January, an unusually cold April, tons of snow and buckets of rain. We even get the occasional tornado and odd earthquake. Then, when a string of perfect spring days and nights made for sleeping with the windows open comes along, we may feel we earned it – or we may recognize that weather doesn’t conform to our expectations. Either way, we all get to enjoy it.

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Two articles: one on the young men in Jordan who are dedicated only to martyrdom and jihad, both of which they believe are sanctioned by Islam. I read carefully, trying to understand their mindset, although, of course, I never can. In another article, a woman who is trying to start a school in Brooklyn dedicated to the study of Arabic culture has come under fire for promoting a “radical Islam agenda” in the words of one columnist. See, this is what bothers me about organized religion. It makes a perfect target and an even better excuse. Maybe we human beings need a set of guidelines – we’re the only species that kills for sport, after all – but I keep hoping we will someday evolve to the point where our conscience is all we need. Silly me.

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