Friday, October 31, 2008

Notes from Daytime TV- "We Watch So You Don't Have To"

“We watch so you don’t have to,” to borrow a phrase from Lisa Moraes, TV reporter for Washington Post.

The other morning I stared at nine TV screens for 45 minutes or more at the gym. At a minimum this keeps me touch with American pop culture as filtered through TV networks. Or at least, what they perceive American middle-aged women want to see. Apparently what they think we want to see is more cute young guys.

On the Today show, they had Robert Buckley, who plays Kirby Atwood on the show “Lipstick Jungle”. (Synergy! Cross-promotion! “Lipstick Jungle” is on NBC, as is the Today Show.) And they showed a shirtless shot like this. Sexual orientation unknown by me at this point:

On another channel, Rachel Ray was literally in bed with this guy, Nate Berkus, an Oprah-favored decorator who hosted Oprah’s Big Give show. Oh, and apparently he’s gay, so not much will be happening in that bed, but still, it’s the imagery that counts here:

Video of Rachel and Nate in bed together here:

And on to more serious topics with Fox News Scare Tactics. These are phrases or topics I saw on Fox News. Nothing is made up here, it’s all true:

- Obama once toasted a Palestinian terrorist at a party – naturally! He and Bill Ayers were with him at a party once! Eek!

- “what will be the effect of a Democratic “super-majority” on the economy?” I’m sure it will be instantaneous socialism. And what’s with the use of the word “super-majority”? This is what makes me think these are scare tactics. What they mean is Democractic-controlled White House and Congress, what we had during the first GW Bush term;

- McCain is having a “Joe the Plumber” rally. That’s literally what they called it. It sounds like something from a preschool show – Bob the Builder, Joe the Plumber. Don’t get me started on the Joe the Plumber thing. Is he supposed to have some kind of persuasive power over me? You’ve got to be kidding.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guest blogger Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner on voting absentee in NYC

Guest blogger Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner has a report on her experience voting absentee in New York City. Sounds like she had a wonderful experience! And, based on my personal experience, performing any bureaucratic activity in New York City is not usually pleasant, so kudos to the state employees at 200 Varick St. (Photo was taken by someone voting in 2008 primaries in NYC, unfortunately at 45 Wall St., not at 200 Varick St. Posted at New York Times Polling Place Photo Project.)

Trivia about 200 Varick St. I was unsuccessfully looking for a photo of this building to spice up this post, but I did find out that the building also houses B & J Magazine, Designers and Illustrators Christmas Card Co., a Chipotle Grill (when I lived in NYC a million years ago, there would never have been a chain restaurant at this location!), Debs Catering, Omnicom Advertising, H&H Woodworking, and is the mailing address for S.O.B's, a world music club across the street where I went for a couple of dates in the early 90's! Also, this item appeared in a police blotter from 2003: Varick St. fire:
A man working on aviation instruments in a laboratory at 200 Varick St. just south of Houston St. spilled a small amount of a highly flammable chemical onto a hotplate on Sun., Nov. 30, causing temporary evacuation of the building. The man sustained minor facial burns when about two ounces of the spilled liquid, benzyl peroxide, flared up.

Today I had the exhilarating experience of voting absentee in New York City. Yes, exhilarating! I applied for an absentee ballot when I decided to take the month off and work for the candidate of my choice in a battleground state through Election Day. Alas, it did not arrive in the mail so I drove back from New Hampshire to pick up an application and cast my vote. I could not have anticipated the uplifting experience I had ahead of me.

As I walked into the old marble lobby of 200 Varick Street and attempted to sign in at the front desk, an older African American gentleman with the impossible task of directing the steady stream of people called to me, pointing to the elevators, “No need to sign in today…Tenth Floor, Board of Elections?” I replied; “How’d you guess?” “It’s all the rage these days, My Dear!” he exuberantly responded. As I laughed and sardine-squeezed into the elevator he said, “Now get your ID ready, because I’m sure they’ re going to make you prove you are old enough to vote!” “Well, thank you for making my day,” I flirted back, knowing his gift of cordial flattery would be bestowed on many other delighted woman who had been voting for at least thirty-four years. As the heavy doors closed, sending this multicultural gaggle of New Yorkers to do our democratic duty, I muttered that I was surprised to see a crowd early in the morning. They concurred with a tone tacitly admitting that our plans for getting in and out fast were doomed.

These worries were confirmed as I turned in my absentee ballot application to wait for it to be processed and took one of the last empty seats in a room full of -- I’m guessing … 8 rows across by 12 chairs deep … approximately 100 voters ? Yikes! One hour and a half later, I had read the NYT’s thoroughly, along with Michael Chabon’s perspicacious Obama & The Conquest of Denver and Joseph Lelyveld’s shrewdly disturbing John & Sarah in St. Paul in The New York Review of Books (fair and balanced reading?) while actively eavesdropping on the fascinating reasons folks revealed to each other about why they were voting absentee.

Sitting around me in the laminated chair-desks we all suffered numb buttocks from in our student pasts were lawyers who were going to be poll watchers across the country; students and other citizens of all ages who, like me, were going to battleground states to work for a certain candidate; workers whose time shifts prohibit them from voting; executives who will be out of town for a meeting; elderly voters anxious about navigating the long lines anticipated with an unprecedented turnout; a Columbian man that recently became an American citizen who has to leave town to care for an ill relative but is determine to cast his vote for the very first time; and many others who offered up exceptional reasons for voting early. By the time my name was called to collect the precious approved ballot and cast my vote, we had shared salient life stories related to the hopes and dreams we have for this election. Extraordinarily, in a room full of busy New Yorkers no one complained rudely about the long wait!

The fellowship I discovered in this room packed full of citizens from all walks of life was not the only unexpected delight of this civic endeavor. The Board of Election Officials, notoriously (perhaps unfairly?) gruff by reputation, fulfilled their critically important administrative responsibilities with a reassuring competence and grace. Without patronizing they dutifully instructed us to be careful to follow directions exactly when filling in our ballots and properly seal the envelope afterwards. Listening so intently I may have momentarily transitioned into slow motion, determined not to make a stupid error that could cancel my vote. Complicit in our raw awareness that getting this election correct is paramount, both the teacher and student exhibited a generous dose of patience, respect and warmth. This alliance producing confidence that there will be no hanging, butterfly or any other sort of rejected chads at 200 Varick Street, NY. “Not this time, not this year…there is too much at stake,” to paraphrase one of the presidential candidates.

As I handed in my sealed ballot, the cheerful (I’m not exaggerating) official who took it from my hand, smiled and thanked me. “No, thank you, for the good work!” I returned, pleasantly disarmed. Walking back toward the elevator, dodging the next rainbow-colored crowd arriving to repeat my democratic exercise, the pride I felt was reflected back at them in my tear-filled eyes. Man, my inner choked-up voice was saying, this election really is like none other in my lifetime.

I exited the building under its downtown shadow, reached for my cell phone and called my college sophomore daughter to make plans for our drive back to Belknap County, New Hampshire to help Get Out The Vote.

Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner, children’s educational media expert, formerly Director of Columbia University’s Graduate Program in Instructional Technology and Media, current Education Director of

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Random election-related sightings

Today I saw a bumper sticker that said "Palin Power" in white lettering on a red background. In very small lettering underneath, it said "McCain-Palin 2008". LOL Maybe that person will on the Palin 2012 campaign committee.

Down the street from my house, I saw a Ralph Nader yard sign! Wow. That's someone who's really disenchanted. This is what it looked like.

Barack Obama -Socialist?

This is so funny. I find the charge that Obama's a socialist so retrograde and ridiculous. By that measure, anyone who supports a graduated tax system is a socialist, since that's the form of "sharing the wealth" that McCain asserts is the basis of Obama's alleged socialism.

"Barack Obama accused Republican rival John McCain on Wednesday of stooping to low tactics by labeling the Democrat a socialist. "I don't know what's next," Obama, the presidential candidate, said at an outdoor rally in North Carolina. "By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

Obama ridicules McCain charges he's socialist, A.P., October 29, 2008

And this article gets at exactly what I'm talking about. It's certainly not radical to advocate that government "redistribute wealth". In fact, it's one of the main functions of government. "Spread It Around: Barack Obama favors redistributing wealth. So does John McCain", Jacob Weisberg, Slate, Nov. 1, 2008

Decrease of Breastfeeding in China Exacerbated Tainted Milk Scandal

As a big supporter of breastfeeding, it horrifies me that the tainted milk problem in China is exacerbated by the decline in breastfeeding among Chinese women. In September, at least 54,000 Chinese children became sick from formula and other milk products that 22 dairy companies deliberately contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. Can you imagine the outcry in the United States if that many children became sick from anything? That’s an incredible number. According to the Washington Post, one of the main reasons Chinese women are not breastfeeding as much is because they are working more and workplaces do not accommodate breastfeeding. Moreover, formula companies have aggressively marketed formula. The marketing has successfully convinced many women that formula is actually better for their babies than breastmilk. Of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

China Infant Formula Scandal Highlights Decline in Breastfeeding
by Julie Bhatia, Sept. 24, 2008

Behind Milk Scandal, a Decline in Breastfeeding, Maureen Fan, Washington Post, October 25, 2008

Behind the Tainted Formula Pomfret's China, Washington Post blog, Sept. 17, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

TV Addict or Not?

Your result for The TV Addict Test...


TV is pretty darn sweet!

You scored 38 TV Obsession points out of 75!

You are more than an occasional watcher, but you wouldn't necessarily call yourself an addict of any sort. You likely watch great shows like House or Heroes every week, but it's really unlikely you'd ever go to a convention.

I recommend for you: The Office, Supernatural, and Burn Notice.

If you're curious about the pictures, send me a message!

Take The TV Addict Test at HelloQuizzy

Well, I'm totally addicted to Torchwood, so I guess that's an exception, and I'd probably go to a convention for it, too.

Counting Your Eggs Before They Hatch: Poll

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quote of the Day, Part Deux

"One thing everybody can agree on is that Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified - to someday host her own television show."  New York Times, "On 'SNL' the Real Sarah Palin's a Real Entertainer," Oct. 20, 2008.

Quote of the Day

Frank: How's your mother?

Man: Ahh, she's on her way out.

Frank: We all are.  Act accordingly.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in "The Departed".

Monday, October 20, 2008

When Worlds Collide (John Barrowman's Obama shirt)

I'm a big Obama fan.  I'm also a huge fan of the TV show Torchwood (on BBCAmerica - see sidebar for links).  So I was thrilled when I saw this picture today.   John Barrowman, actor/singer and star of  Torchwood, baring his Obama T-shirt Superman-style.


Photo taken by jhava on LiveJournal

Friday, October 17, 2008

What To Do When Your Obama Yard Sign is Stolen

And here's the proper response to having your yard sign stolen. I approve!

I live in a swing state for the first time!

I can't believe it. I live in a swing state for the first time in my life. I live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. Amazingly, Virginia is actually a swing state in this election. I've lived in Massachusetts, Chicago, New York City, (all liberal), and Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta votes Democratic, whereas Georgia as a whole is obviously extremely Republican). So my vote in presidential elections was always relatively pointless - it wasn't going to change the outcome. It feels kind of weird to have my vote actually make a difference. Perhaps that explains why my Obama yard sign was stolen the other night, at the same time that several McCain yard signs appeared on the other side of the road. Not a coincidence, I'm thinking.

McCain Forced to Fight for Virginia, Washington Post article, Oct. 17, 2008.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Connecticut Legalizes Gay Marriage

I’m not personally all that interested in marriage. However, the legal protections for spouses and children are unparalleled. Civil unions can never replicate all the protections and legal rights that marriage guarantees. This is especially true when federal law doesn’t recognize any civil unions or marriages between same sex couples. Federal law provides many marital benefits that state law cannot (e.g. Social Security). In addition, the right to marry is important symbolically, as it acknowledges that same-sex relationships deserve the same legal protections as traditional straight couples.

So it’s a big deal whenever a state recognizes the right of same-sex couples to marry. And Connecticut has just done that.

Gay Marriage is Ruled Legal in CT (NYTimes)

Text of CT Supreme Court decision

Pretty soon New England is going to be a gay mecca. Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, gay civil unions are legal in Vermont and New Hampshire, and Maine has legal domestic partnerships that provide many of the same rights as civil unions. (see NYTimes article link above)

"Nicke and Norah's Infinite Playlist" and Indie Films

This is an interesting article about independent films and how they're becoming increasingly derivative. After seeing "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" last night, my partner and I were remarking on its similarity to "Juno". We really liked both movies, but it's impossible to ignore the similarities. Both feature animated opening credits that imitate doodles in a notebook, both star Michael Cera, both have indie music soundtracks and "quirky" teenage characters who fall in love. At first I was excited that Michael Cera's character in "Nick and Norah" plays in an all-gay (except for him) band, and that the gay male characters weren't stereotyped. I ultimately felt, however, that the gay characters were being used solely as another quirk, another "eccentricity," just another way to make a joke. Cera's character, Nick, keeps getting mistaken for gay - smirk, smirk; one of the gay characters hits someone after being taunted - wow, isn't he brave, just like a "normal" guy - but then - cue the stereotype - he cries because his hand hurts.

This article also describes the development of indie films, which is pretty interesting.

From Indie Chic to indie, Sheesh

And, just because I can, here's the trailer for "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist":

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Breed of Liberal Are You? Quiz

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Perception Personality Image Test

I'm a total sucker for personality tests. This is a cool one. Surprisingly accurate about me.

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test...

NBPC - The Daydreamer

Nature, Background, Big Picture, and Color

You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the colors around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You are a down-to-earth person who enjoys going with the flow.

The Perception Personality Types:


Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy