Chez Boyer

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Updates, pictures

Since the readership of this blog is pretty small, some of you have probably heard that I recently got biopsy of my thyroid, which came back with a diagnosis of "suspicious" for papillary carcinoma, the most common type of thyroid cancer. I was referred to an ENT surgeon, who said that because the diagnosis was somewhat equivocal, he's going to have a pathologist look at the slides for his opinion, but the upshot is that I will be getting either a total thyroidectomy or just a removal of this lesion on my thyroid (and if that turned out to be cancerous after removal, a subsequent total thyroidectomy.)

Although it is something of a shock to be diagnosed with cancer at 33, this is a very treatable form of a cancer with a pretty much 100% survival rate with total thyroidectomy. The ENT surgeon has performed over 700 and says that he hasn't damaged any vocal cord nerves yet, which is the primary risk of the surgery itself. So, I'm just going to try to take care of myself & take one day at a time and continue to focus on other things. Fortunately (?) there's always plenty of work, a messy house, two kids, and an election season that just will not stop being weirder than all get out. I, for one, am not suspending anything.

So, anyway, some pictures.

Josh and I went to see Murry Hammond of the Old 97's at the invitation of our friend Brian. (Wide-eyed guy pictured below.) It was a small crowd, and we got to talk to him afterwards, and he was very funny and laid-back and friendly. He did lovely, old-fashioned songs, heavy on trains and gospel influence. You can listen here to some samples if you're interested.

We kind of hit the Krispy Kreme on the way back. C'mon, the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign was lit. We're only human.

A few pictures recovered from our once-lost camera. These are from the Cove Creek festival up in the mountains this summer. We liked the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Kruger Brothers, the kids liked the ice cream and playground.

Alex, still a great older brother. We also just found out tonight that Alex will be able to play on a flag football team organized by the Salvation Army. His team will be the Panthers. We were told when we signed up that there might not be any availability, but they did cash the check so I've been hoping that meant they'd have a space for him. So, we'll see how that goes. Piano lessons + organized sports, it's a suburban kinda life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Think, people, think

Well, I really would like this blog to be primarily a place where people can come to follow the travails of our family and read our cute stories and find our pictures and other things like that. I don't want to scare people away from that with 20,000 words on Sarah Palin, not that I've gotten any complaints as such. Yet it is September of an election year, and every day the news is more bizarre than the day before, and I have a hard time holding that in check. So I'm going to do a trial launch of a parallel blog to focus on politics. I can pretty much guarantee that it will not be very original, seeing as how "good grief, look what's become of us" is not really an original thought right now. A lot of times it will probably be just links to things I like, but that's frequently true of blogs with very high readerships, too. It will not be updated any more frequently than this one, either. So don't expect much, is what I'm saying, but it will make me feel good to have an outlet, and I hope that some of you will appreciate it, too.

So, for right now, it is just a repost of the Sarah Palin Diatribe And Screed, but I'll add to it. Check it out here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Okay, so I'm totally lying about the pictures

Some day, some day.

It’s taken me a little bit of time to come to terms with this Sarah Palin announcement. I’ve kind of been going through my own version of the Kubler-Ross stages, although they aren’t stages of grief, unless grief can be accurately portrayed by the sentiment: Am I in some kind of parallel universe? What in the name of all that's holy are these people thinking? This is our COUNTRY we're talking about. Paul Krugman is a sharp guy and I have a feeling he is probably a lot more right in his analysis than my rather emotional response here, but, my friends, it was either this or pharmaceuticals, very soon. My Facebook page has also been going through kind of “whoa, Jen’s obsessed with Sarah Palin”, so I’m going to try to put an end to that with this here Diatribe and Screed and keep Facebook for what it is good at, namely SuperPoking!, inscrutable status updates, and finding people from high school you had pretty much completely forgotten about. So anyway, Heaven knows I think the Republicans are going to be a footnote in the history books this year (and in 2012), but taking the pick seriously, there’s no other way to put it besides: it makes my blood boil.

I want to note that it is Sarah Palin’s right to run for vice president if she so chooses, even if she has a five-month old special needs child and a teenage daughter with her own problems to deal with. Newsweek reports that she went back to work the very next day after her fourth pregnancy and after three days with her last child. Mine is not to judge her choices, and hell will freeze over before I will participate in the so-called “mommy wars.” But when she and her surrogates appear on TV and talk about how moms all over the country are going to relate to her, I’m afraid I have to respond to that. I went back to work when Molly was 11 weeks old, which was less time than I took after Alex, and I cried every day at home because I didn’t want to do it. But we were out of money, and I had to, and that’s fine. My kids are pretty fantastic so far, don’t seem to be hurting for love, and plenty of moms can’t even take that long. But do I relate to her decision to accept the nomination at that point in her life and thrust her family into the national spotlight so she can spend the next two+ months on a plane with John McCain? No, I don’t especially identify with that choice, no. (I wouldn’t do it for Barack Obama, either.) So, sure, it’s her right – just don’t ask me to “relate” to it, and don’t ask me to vote for her based on that because you can’t think of anything to say about her record that would convince me.

I also want to note that this is not a question of disagreeing with someone on an issue, or even on an entire political philosophy. Any argument that is grounded in reality, argued with intelligence and in good faith, rarely upsets me on a personal level. I might argue with you until you beg just to be allowed to go to the restroom without being followed, and I might get animated, but I won’t get mad and I won’t hold it against you at the end of the day. I LIKE a good discussion.

This makes me mad on a personal level because I am being told, and we are all being told, that we are stupid. It’s hard to say what I agree and disagree with John McCain on since he’s taken multiple sides of any given issue (most comprehensive list on the intertoobz, for my money, is here ), but I have always considered him to be a good man of personal integrity. I have never been angry with John McCain. And when John McCain said he would pick the person best qualified to run the country for his vice president, I took him at his word.

And instead, we get this. We get the most craven, cynical, calculating choice for a VP pick I could possibly imagine. (To be fair, I don’t think she was McCain’s first, second, or even necessarily third, choice.) The Republican primary voters do the party the favor of picking the least “Republican” guy running and the only one, for that precise reason, with George Bush’s chance at Jeopardy! of winning the general election. They are repaid with a pick only the far right wing of the party could like. A pick designed to shore up the crazy wingers of the party that has never liked McCain, a man who never did quite get on board with torture for some strange reason and who just couldn’t picture that border fence complete with moat stocked with piranha. A man who opposed tax cuts for the richest of the rich, until he became the Republican nominee. A pick designed to lure disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters with the ludicrous proposition -- Check it out, ladies, we’ve got a girl, too! Instead of doing what sensible people would do, namely threaten to hold their breath until McCain picked someone else, the base embraced this choice. A couple of conservatives came up with responses at least somewhat lacking in breathtaking hypocrisy, but mostly the base seemed pleased. Often the same people who for a year have been repeating like a broken record, "Barack Obama is unqualified and inexperienced", have wholeheartedly embraced a woman who, by any halfway sincere evaluation of the truth, has far fewer qualifications and experience. Notwithstanding this essential reality, they have responded with either laughably ludicrous fluffing of her resume, or simply ignoring the issue as irrelevant altogether. Confronting one's sudden and stunning hypocrisy on the importance of "experience" does not appear to be part of the equation, except for the precious few public conservatives linked above.

For days, I laughed at loud and wondered when the “real” nominee would be unveiled. I am pleased to say that the strategy of thinking women, in particular Hillary supporters, are dumber than salt shakers has not worked. The fact that I think this particular strategy is moronic -- we don’t need any new voters, thanks, just happier ones -- does not stop it from making my blood boil.

So why DOES it make my blood boil that such obvious political considerations became such an overwhelming part of a politician’s choice of another politician for running mate for a political office? We’ve had eight years of fat government contracts handed out on the basis of cronyism and corruption from the party of “fiscal restraint” and “small government”, should I really continue to be so naïve? Shouldn't all hope for any semblance of effective, competent, ethical government have been crushed a long time ago, inhabiting as I do the reality-based community? The reason it makes me mad is because they think I, and all of us, are dumber than a bag of hammers inside a box of rocks in the crawlspace under Dan Quayle’s house. In the selection of Sarah Palin, the media frenzy that followed, and the Republican National Convention, here are the things we were evidently expected to believe.

  • Sarah Palin and her fellow Republicans have great respect for Hillary Clinton, and really admire her courageous and historic run for the presidency.
  • If Barack Obama had a seventeen-year-old pregnant daughter named Shaniqua, Republicans would praise her for keeping her baby, for her strong moral values, and for being a role model in the culture of life. They would angrily insist that the media respect Shaniqua’s privacy after she appears in numerous photo ops with her father.
  • Sarah Palin, by virtue of governing Alaska for 19 months, has foreign policy experience due to its proximity to Russia. This foreign policy experience includes both Russia, and, I am not making this up, North Korea. The processes by which she would have learned such valuable experience include “osmosis”.
  • Sarah Palin has commander-in-chief experience due to her command of the Alaska National Guard. If you ask for an example of her command of the Alaska National Guard, you are “belittling” her. (If Campbell weren’t a woman, she would undoubtedly also have been called sexist.)
  • Among the significant things we as voters should be considering in our decision-making are how well a person shoots animals, appreciates hockey, and looks.
  • Other important things to consider is that being the mayor of a town with a four-digit population is extremely similar to running a country, and she mayored really awesomely, thanks! She even, at no extra charge, tried to help libraries figure out what's safe to read.
  • The guys who think it’s awesome to have a VP nominee who could be in one of those “chicks in bikinis with guns” calendars are not sexist. I, for thinking that the word “unqualified” does not begin to capture the universe of problems with this woman, am sexist.
  • It is funny when people with cancer are called "a cancer".
  • Among her legislative achievements to be heralded is fighting the roll-back of bar closing times. It took tremendous political courage, in a state full of oil workers and fishermen, to stand on the principle that last call should stay at 5 a.m., and this courage and resolve will be reflected in everything she does as vice president.
  • Sarah Palin loves her some ethics, and is very committed to getting to the bottom of Troopergate.
  • Abstinence-only sex education is effective, and the gay can be “prayed away”.
  • That it is possible to sell used aeronautics equipment “for a profit” on eBay, and that one can make this declaration in public without anyone bothering to fact check it.
  • That “I said thanks but no thanks to the bridge to Nowhere” is an accurate portrayal of “I said ‘yes, please’ until the project would require that the state kick in a little bit, in which case I cancelled the bridge and kept the money.”
  • Creationism should be taught in science class, alongside actual science, and people got nothin' to do with global warming. Oh, hey, totally changing the subject, do you guys need any oil? We've got oil!
  • She won’t be doing any interviews for a while because she needs to “spend time with the voters”.
  • The economy is pretty good, isn’t it?
  • National conventions are no place for discussing policy proposals.
  • This country needs reform, a real change from the Democrats who’ve been leading this country for eight years. Sarah Palin is a real reformer and absolutely hates pork in any form.
  • That's not the same black couple we showed you before at the RNC. No, it's not. They may look a little bit similar, but no, that is TOTALLY a different black couple.
  • What, where, and how we drill is far less important than our need to DRILL. NOW. The Department of Energy, which says that we can expect increased supply from Arctic drilling by 2018, is staffed by known Communists.
  • 909 is more than 76,165.
  • Torture against John McCain is very, very bad, and should be brought up at every opportunity, including in explaining why he doesn’t know how many houses he has. Torture committed by the United States is o.k., and Barack Obama should be mocked for not condoning it.

Can I just say, if you're going to pull jet-selling-at-auction political stunts, Craigslist doesn't charge a commission and eBay does. Everyone really trying to pinch their pennies knows this. Somewhat important when you're talking about $2.1 million dollars.

Let me just elaborate here a bit, because the sarcasm is pretty thick but some of this is important. Sarah Palin, when you complain that being asked tough questions is sexist and say that you're not giving any interviews until journalists learn a little "deference", you are demonstrating your gobsmackingly profound lack of preparedness for what is in store for you. For heaven's sakes, I personally stared down far greater sexism just reading the parental guide to Spider Man-2 on Netflix. (Hint: it's in the warnings section.) When you interview for the job of vice president through prepared remarks and speeches courtesy of Bush speechwriters, to favorable crowds without any opportunity to be questioned by voters, journalists, or anyone else, you are mocking women who got their jobs on their own steam and without a teleprompter, answering questions they were not given ahead of time to the best of their ability. When you mock community organizers, you are mocking people who make a difference where they live, and doing it without a budget and without a staff. You are mocking the vocation of Jesus of Nazareth. When you mock legal protections for the accused, you are mocking the Constitution of the United States of America. And when you make statements that in any reasonable version of objective reality are out and out lies, you are mocking the intelligence of every voter in this country.

For seven and a half years our current president has thought of us all as stupid. To be fair, 28% of us are. These folks would support him if he bit the head off of a live kitten on national television. (Hint: it would somehow be justified because of terrorism.) And now, the same people in the same party, continue to believe that I am stupid. Day after day, they deploy their troops to the press to say things that no one with an intact brain stem could possibly believe, I guess to “catapult the propaganda”. Mitt Romney, worth a quarter of a billion dollars, tells us about "liberal Washington" and warns us about elites. And on and on and on. And they are gambling that in November, there will be people who will make this election go their way.

Well, Sarah Palin, it’s going to take more than ugly words, untruths, and holing up in Dick Cheney's man/woman-sized safe to sell yourself to the voters. It's going to take more than pronouncing “nuclear” correctly to distance you from this administration, from whom you seem to have taken quite a bit of inspiration. I’m not stupid. Joe Biden’s not stupid. And Barack Obama’s campaign isn’t stupid. Do you know what those community organizers you mocked actually do, Governor Palin? They do this.

And they do this.

So just in closing, I’m not stupid, and I’m not drunk, either.

And there will absolutely be updates as the insults to my intelligence roll in like federal money to Alaska.

I'm voting on November 4 for the man who assumes I'm a grown person, and addresses me accordingly. It's time to stop this party from its perpetual manipulation and misunderestimation of the country I love.

Update: Eerily similar to another very prominent Republican...

Alternative analysis: Are we stupid?

Good grief, I probably know even less about economics than John McCain and even I knew this much about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Barack Obama has been reading my blog. Weird. :)

Awwww, he likes her! He really likes her!

UPDATE 9/10/08: The website Sadly, No! came up with this concept of "shorter". They take opinion pieces, and shorten them to a sentence or two that they feel captures the essential element of it. They are snarky and sarcastic and not always fair, and very, very funny.

Here's my "shorter" of the Republican strategist, Mr. Feehery, featured in this article:

"Of COURSE we're LYING. People are MORONS."

And of course, the polling since I drafted this blog post is bearing that out.

Much, much, shorter me.