Wednesday, November 28, 2007

B-Side on Your iPod

If the writers' strike is leaving you with no TV shows to download to your iPod, consider the B-Side podcast that's now part of the NPR's alt.npr site. You can go directly online to in your ears. You'll get oodles of great shows that are the quirkier side of public radio. Plus, the coolest thing about downloading podcasts is you get to decide when to push the button. You listen when you want, where you want. I know, I know, it's shameless promotion. But I can't help it: I'm also a fan.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Diamonds or Pearls?

I know this is old news, but I've been meaning to comment, and what's a news cycle to stop me?

Hillary Clinton was asked this question during a debate: which do you prefer, diamonds or pearls? And no, the male candidates didn't get that question. It was sort of the female Clinton answer to boxers or briefs that Bill got during his now infamous MTV interview when he was first running for president. So jewelry is the question, not underthings. And what would the woman's equivalent be, anyway? underwire or sport bra? tummy control or stay ups?

Anyway, it was a question that was supposed to show a lighter side. It's a tough call, if you ask me. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but they're also funding warlords in dirty mines in Africa. And pearls, well, they are from oysters, so you know there's gotta be some lobby somewhere against that. Or for it. I haven't a clue.

Which way did Hillary go, without time to poll? She played it safe, and in my book, she got it right.

She answered, "both."

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Hate Holidays

I know that sounds totally Scrooge. And I don't mean it that way. It's not that I'm not for goodwill toward man or peace on earth. But the problem is, that has nothing to do with the American version of the holidays. Here's how I know this. First off, as a Jew, much of the merrymaking around X-mas leaves me cold. On the other hand, Christmas used to be a great day to eat Chinese and catch the blockbuster movie that nobody bothered to see on Christmas Day. You had the streets to yourself, the movie theater barely had a line, and the Chinese food was never better. But then a funny thing happened. Everyone else figured out that the Jew's Christmas is the way to go, so we no longer cornered that market.

Christmas also used to be a great day to fly. I think that's still true, but who the hell cares anymore, since flying is miserable every day of the year now. It's not like when I used to fly with a row to myself with a bottomless glass of chardonnay by my side.

Another problem: presents. Now I enjoy shopping, probably more than the average person. But that is not what you're doing around the holidays. You're shopping with a plan. With a competitive marketing agenda egging you on. And you probably have heard this before, but it's really not like this anywhere else.

I spent one Christmas in Nairobi, Kenya, and it was all about church and a big meal. Then I spent another Christmas in Paris, and basically, same thing, with worse weather. It's only in this country where we just got nuts for stuff. And here's the real kicker. We are going down, friends. I mean, this country is sinking faster than Titantic. We're polluters, we're consumers, we're up to our ears in debt, and we're at war. The dollar isn't worth much more than a peso. But do we care? No, you hear people who have barely digested their Thanksgiving turkey salivating at the idea of a 4 a.m. wake-up call to stand outside some big-box store on some strip off some highway to buy some piece of lame crap from some other country that we didn't make but are happy to buy up as long as the price is way, way low.

So, hooray for the holidays. Now let's gird our loins and get it over with.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Want My Stephen Colbert

Look. Haven't we suffered enough? Through the endless primary campaign season, a president who gets dumber by the day and a media that's more attune to the starlet du jour than the war of the century? Haven't we? But no, on top of everything, we have to also make do with this grim reality they called life, without The Daily Show or the Colbert Report. It's too much. We're going to crack. Without all those late-night fake news shows that actually bother to watch C-Span so that we don't have to, I have lost my gallows humor and am just ready for the gallows.

Look, let's get Hollywood on the line. I'm ready to deal. Give Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert whatever they want. It's what us "kids" watch anyway, not any of your poor-excuse-for-a-TV- lineups. Yah, you were worried we wouldn't notice if your dumb shows went away, and we didn't. But our fake news shows? That's a travesty. It should be illegal. So pay these people and deal with the rest of the writers later. We'll all thank you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

35 Is the New Ms.

Unbelievable but true: Ms. Magazine has its 35th anniversary issue coming out. And in the spirit of feminism, I will say that she does look her age: this is what 35 looks like.

I have known Ms. for most of my life. And I have my mom to thank for that.
She'd stash her Ms. Magazine along with her trash magazines in the bathroom. We'd run hot bubble baths and have a read while we were having a soak.

So this was my introduction to what I should call bathtub feminism. Given Ms. Magazine’s thirty-five year status, I thought it natural to ask my mom if she remembers when Ms. first hit the newsstands. And how.

She told me she remembered reading about the ‘click’ — like an epiphany, but one realized by many, many women during this time. Ms. magazine brought to her isolated home the news that women everywhere weren’t buying the line that they were considered second-rate for carrying on the role of “women’s” work. She realized she wasn’t alone. Click!

I found the article on the “click." The article is titled, “The Housewife’s Moment of Truth,” by Jane O’Reilly, printed originally in the spring of 1972. The article starts, “It is the click! of recognition, that parenthesis of truth around a little thing . . .the moment that brings a gleam to our eyes and means the revolution has begun.”

Well, I may be late to the revolution, but I’m glad Ms. is still fighting the good fight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Fight's Not Over

Remember that awful abortion ban signed into law by the South Dakota governor that was decisively overridden by the voters of South Dakota? Well, that victory may be in jeopardy. The ban may once again be headed for the 2008 ballot.

It was overturned just last year, thanks to a massive on-the-ground effort by pro-choice organizations. According to the local SD publication the Argus Leader.

An email from the group 40 Days for Life noted a 95 percent vote among anti-choice leaders to pursue another ballot initiative.

Stay tuned. Keep your checkbook at the ready.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where There's a Spill There's a Way

I'm not the only one bemoaning the fate of my beautiful Bay. The MoJo blog today is saying this was one tragedy that could have been avoided. Let us count the ways. As the blog post notes:

Bottom line is, the spread of the spill was preventable. We have the technology and the wherewithal to respond to minor spills and contain them, and didn't. And that we didn't do so in a major metropolitan area with vast resources at our disposal (and it's not the first time) is less than encouraging.
Of course, this doesn't make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. If the most enlightened of cities can't get this right, is there really hope for disasters anywhere else?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oily Residue

I have read and railed about environmental degradation, but let me tell you: nothing prepares you for how you feel when it happens in your backyard.

The San Francisco Bay is now covered in 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel from a cargo ship that hit the Bay Bridge and busted open on a particularly foggy day.

Of course, it's always foggy in San Francisco. And it was a locally trained pilot navigating the tight waterway. But tell that to the oil-soaked birds making their way to shore because they're no longer capable of warming themselves on the water. If they're not picked up by rescuers and cleaned, they'll starve to death. Many already have.

That's what I was thinking about on my run today as I headed down to take a look at the water (still looking sparkling and blue from afar on this crisp, sunny day) I stood behind the closed gate at Baker beach -- not even runners are allowed in. The beach scene and surfers have been replaced by emergency vehicles and cop cars. The initial slow response from the Coast Guard, the tides pulling the noxious goo out to countless other beaches in Marin, won't be right any time soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Don't Heart Huckabee

Holocaust. It's a potent term, conjuring up images of, well, you know what. Abortions. Wait, what? Well, that's exactly what Mike Huckabee, republican presidential candidate did -- he dropped the H-bomb in a speech tying abortion to the genocide of 6 million Jews. Because what better way to get the right wing panting than talking about abortion while evoking the universal evil in a single blow.

Even if the press in the U.S. didn't pick it up, the Israeli press took notice. The daily Haaretz noted that in a speech railing about all things, immigrant labor, they quote Huckabee as saying:

"Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our work force."

"It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our work force had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973."

Some say that the third rail of politics is now torture. I say, wake up. Abortion politics are alive and kicking and if we don't want to make a, um, holocaust out of the next election, we better pay attention.

Monday, November 05, 2007

We Are Women. Will We Roar?

Tomorrow in San Francisco, it's election day. It's also a year out till the presidential election. It's not really surprising that we're paying so much attention to the candidates with so much time to spare. It is, after all, a key vote. In one year we finally get to turn Bush out of office and have a chance to make a historic change. We could have the first woman president. Or the first black one. Or the first Hispanic one. Or just a good one.

But the people who will determine the outcome, by participating or not, will be women. And women are not on board with Hillary's campaign, so the field is wide open. Bob Herbert, in his New York Times column today, points out that the candidates are playing the macho card and focusing on the war on terrorism more than the war on choice, or other issues that might concern women more. Of course, he might point out that includes the woman candidate, who out-machos them all with her tough talk on Iran.

So if even the woman isn't hearing the women, when will any of them start to listen? Probably when the votes speak louder than words.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Tooth for a Tooth

I've been forced to confront something that I've been avoiding since the spring: having a wisdom tooth removed. It's not any fun, the dental surgery, but then again, neither is having an impacted tooth causing an infection in your mouth. So, off I go. But I'm one of the lucky ones.

My job gives me dental insurance (and even with that it still costs an arm and a leg, or whatever the dental equivalent would be). Many, upwards of 40 million people in the U.S. have no dental insurance or any kind of health insurance to speak of. So once again, in a small way, Congress is trying to address that by re-authorizing and upping the state health insurance program for kids, or SCHIP.

Bush has vetoed it already. What a tough guy: stopping kids from getting medical attention. Or what, the terrorists win? And he promises to do it again, and the Republicans won't rush to override his veto.

All I have to say is: Give any one of these guys an impacted wisdom tooth and no way to pay for it, and see how quick they last.