Monthly Archives: May 2014

Smart is cool

This weekend a friend shared a story from Maclean’s – “Canada’s only national weekly current affairs magazine.” The title of the story: “America dumbs down.”

“The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?”

I was beginning to think nobody else had noticed.

On Feb. 4, Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham met at the museum to “argue how the universe and life began” (Cincinnati.com). When each man was asked what would change his mind about evolution and creationism, Nye said, “we would just need one piece of evidence.” Ham said that no one would ever convince him “the word of God is not true.”

According to Salon, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s show “Cosmos” has Creationists flipping out all over the place. Apparently Tyson’s science doesn’t mesh with Creationism.

And the Maclean’s story begins by telling how a South Carolina legislator could not endorse a state fossil because he couldn’t figure out where the Columbian mammoth fit into the Bible. Simple. It doesn’t.

An 8-year-old child proposed the Columbian mammoth because “fossils tell us about our past.” The South Carolina house approved the bill in February, but the state senate insisted on adding a bunch of Creationist mumbo jumbo that tied up the bill until last week. After a joint house and senate committee worked out a compromise, South Carolina now has a state fossil.

So have we lost our mind? Is stupid the new black? I don’t want to be stupid. I don’t want to follow along with blind faith, while ignoring science. I don’t want our country’s leaders to be stupid. Stupid isn’t cool. Smart is cool.

 

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Use your words – correctly!

There are a handful of words that are too often abused and misused by otherwise intelligent people. Because I don’t want to be considered an uppity bitch in every corner of the world, I make a point of not correcting everyone. Yes, I do correct some people, but they love me.

A former president sounded like an idiot every time he referred to “nukuler” weapons. Why? Because there’s no such thing. There are nuclear weapons, and I believe they are quite dangerous. Maybe even more dangerous than idiots.

If something is unique, it is the only one of its kind. It’s like nothing else. Therefore, nothing can be really unique, very unique or truly unique. It’s like being pregnant – a person either is pregnant or is not pregnant. Something is either unique or is not unique.

Realtors help homeowners buy and sell homes. That’s pronounced “reel-ter.” Not “reel-i-ter.”

My father had prostate cancer, which is a disease of the prostate gland. He did not have prostrate cancer, which would be some sort of illness related to lying facedown on the ground.

Finally, the Florida peninsula is not the Florida “pin-in-chula.” Yes, the words “spatula” and “tarantula” have that “chula” sound at the end. Not “peninsula.”

I’ll stop there for today. Talk amongst yourselves.

 

I friend. You friend. He/she friends*

I think a lot about friends. I’ve never had an abundance of friends. I have hundreds of acquaintances – I’ve been collecting them for nearly half a century – and a handful of true friends.

Friendship is built around many things: common interests, shared experiences, mutual respect. And Facebook.Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.57.42 PM

Facebook?

Heck, yeah! Facebook – where I have 332 friends. We’re close. Sometimes I see pictures of their pets, learn about what they had for dinner, hear the latest family news.

Sometimes they post pictures of abused animals. They go on racist rants about black Americans or Muslims. They say everyone’s right to carry a gun supersedes anyone’s desire for background checks.

And that’s where it gets weird because my real friends know I don’t want to see pictures of abused animals. I don’t want to hear racist rants. I don’t carry a gun, and I believe anyone who does should be thoroughly vetted and trained in its use.

Yet I feel so guilty about “unfriending” people on Facebook. There are lots of people I like – even some I love – with what I consider to be completely absurd notions of the world. I still want to know how they’re doing. But some of those people really wear me out.

Still it feels sneaky to “unfriend” someone. What kind of friend does that? The kind that doesn’t want to have a conversation. The kind that doesn’t ask why you have a certain opinion. The kind that takes the easy way out. (Yes, I’m thinking of you, the once-dear friend who sent me a friend request, shared life updates and travel plans, promised to call when you were in town and then unfriended me after a couple of months for reasons I do not know.)

It’s all good, though, because in this age of “everyone gets a trophy” having 332 friends is a real boost to my self-esteem. So even if I’m not one of the cool kids, I can still pretend to be popular.

*”Friend” is not a verb. It’s a noun. Add an -ly and it becomes an adjective. But you can’t conjugate the word “friend.” It’s nothing more than another sign of Americans’ incessant need to verbalize the language. See… I just did it.

Tea Party post four: Traditional family values

The Tea Party has a list of 15 “core beliefs” on their website. The last one says, “Traditional family values are encouraged.”Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 4.17.39 PM

Huh?

What does that even mean?

What is a traditional family? One mom, one dad, 2.3 children, a dog and a tract house in the suburbs? 2014 is not “Leave it to Beaver.”

I have friends with beautiful families. Some of those friends are single. Others are married, divorced and have been married prior to their current relationship. Some of them have kids. Some have dogs. Some live in the city. They have birthday parties, jobs and second mortgages. And they’re families.

I consider my own family and my own values. In many ways, I have very traditional values. I support my husband; he supports me. We married in 1985 and had a son in 1987. We own a home. He cuts the grass; I grow stuff in the dirt. He golfs. I sew. We vote. We pay our bills. We donate to charities. On the other hand, we have just the one kid. I think it might be traditional to have more than one.

Growing up, I lived with  my biological mother and father, who were married before I was conceived in 1964 – very traditional. My older sister and brother had a different dad. My mom was married before she met my father. My little sister is my older sister’s daughter. She’s my niece, and my parents adopted her when she was 3-ish.

Not so traditional.

Yet that environment created me. I have strong family values. I believe families come in all shapes and sizes. I believe in love relatives, not just blood relatives. I have “sisters” I’m not even related to.

I am a heterosexual woman, and I believe two women or two men can parent a family as well as I can.

The whole concept of “traditional family values” is false. It’s illogical. There is no such thing as a traditional family. There are, however, values.

Values – like morals – are within. They’re based in respect and kindness; knowing right from wrong. Values can come from family, but they don’t automatically come from family. That’s why I say the concept is false.

Of course I know what the term means in relation to the Tea Party.

They’re trying to court the Ward Cleaver family.

Tea Party post three: Cross this line…

Just a few years ago, the Democratic Party seemed hell-bent on infighting. They were their own worst enemy. The middle was arguing with the left-of-middle, who was arguing with the left. And nobody wanted to make a stand. Say it’s “my way or the highway.”

Thankfully, the Tea Party came along. Democratic infighting is nothing compared to the battles between the GOP establishment and the Tea Party. I’ve read two articles this week about the battle between the regular conservatives and the uber- conservatives. Apparently Tea Party supporters won’t stop until they’ve stopped ALL progress in Washington.Image

John Boehner is too liberal, apparently. Wow. I can’t believe I typed that. It turns out that the uber-conservatives don’t like that the Speaker of the House has made compromises with Democrats, particularly the President.

And to what end? They passed a record-breaking 57 bills in 2013 – making the 113th Congress the least productive in history! And they tried so hard to get stuff done. Just look at the number of times they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act! Fifty votes and they still can’t get it done.

Somebody once said – who, is debatable – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out differently. 

I hear people talking about getting rid of career politicians for new, better options. Yet the newly elected members of Congress are doing less than the ones they replaced. And all of a sudden, members of the GOP establishment are scrambling to keep their jobs. (The Boehner-haters are back with a vengeance. The future of Tea Party-GOP infighting. The GOP establishment turns a ‘firehose‘ on Virginia Tea Partiers.)

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Both factions should consider these words, spoken in 1858 by another Republican.

Abraham Lincoln.

Tea Party post two: Who is the Tea Party?

This could take a while.

Whenever I am looking for information on a topic, I first turn to Google.

“who is tea party?”

I review the Wikipedia page, which says “The movement has been called a mix of conservative, libertarian and populist groups.” Scratching my head, I read about Republican libertarians – not the Libertarian Party. They are NOT the same. Still scratching my head.

Not putting much stock in Wikipedia, I go to teaparty.org. The homepage includes pictures of Democrats. Lots of pictures of Democrats. Scratching my head and beginning to draw blood.

Move on to the “about us” page. Here we go! Pictures of Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. (Or as I think of them, three horsemen of the apocalypse. Fourth is Michele Bachmann.)

I encourage you to visit this page. Some of this stuff will blow your mind. Check out the “15 Non-negotiable Core Beliefs.”

I wonder if this is the “real” Tea Party, so… back to Google.

“tea party official website”

Tea Party Patriots. Tea Party Express. Here we go: Official Tea Party of America Web Site. Zero pictures of Democrats or apocalyptical horsemen. Just a huge photo of what I can only assume is a professional wrestler – stage name, Uncle Sam.Image

What about affiliate groups? There’s the National Tea Party Federation. TheTeaParty.net. Patriot Action Network. There’s more, but I’m not giving them any more space here.

Back to my original question: Who is the Tea Party?

Searching again, I find a list of in-depth news and magazine articles from – mostly – 2010. “The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.”

I know those people. My husband and I went to high school with them. They scare me.