Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why I Would Never Vote Republican

Last week my father and I faced a horde of arch Republicans at a family barbeque, and had to defend President Obama and our Democratic and 'liberal' views. I said to the women we were debating that I would never vote Republican. One woman responded that I was narrow-minded, and not open to debate. Well, in 1980 I voted for Ronald Reagan, and I voted for Governor Weld in Massachusetts. In the past, I have voted Republican, but times have changed. Today, I see no choice.

1. The Republican Party platform is one of exclusion. The Republican Party seeks to exclude minorities, gays, women, and immigrants by legislating restrictions on these people. 

2. As a gay woman, I wouldn't vote Republican because the current folks running for office are against my basic civil rights. 

3. The Republican Party is pro-military and pro-war, and we already spend millions and millions on the military and war. 

4. I find it hypocritical to stand against 'big government' running our lives, and then expect legislation to force women to make choices about their own bodies, and healthcare decisions. I can't think how a government can be any more intrusive.

5. The Republican Party today is dangerously close to mixing religion with government. The separation of church and state is crucial to American principles. Christianity is one religion in this country, not the religion. Freedom of religion means no domination or supremacy of one religion over others.

6. When the Republicans talk about 'big government,' they're talking about reducing or cutting varied social services. While I agree in reform and fiscal responsibility, eliminating social service programs ultimately hurts people. College loans, access to healthcare, pre-school programs, social security, and community clinics help people. I can't believe the richest country in the world can't provide basic services to its citizens.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The World From a Cat's Perspective

No problem for a feline like me!
Get out of my way, pooch!
Meow! Come here often?
Recently researchers from the University of Georgia and National Geographic teamed up to study domestic cats and their effect on the environment. Using a 'kitty cam' the researchers followed sixty outdoor cats in the Athens, Georgia area for a week. The researchers found that 44% of the cats hunted while they were out roaming, and 30% were successful. Cats also took many risks like crossing streets and entering storm drains. Surprisingly, cats caught lizards and earthworms, and although they stalked birds, they did not catch them as frequently as humans would imagine. Some cats also 'two timed' their owners, entering other homes for food and affection. When cats caught prey, 23% percent of them would drag home the carcass for display. Experts think cats do this to show off their prowess, and perhaps to teach humans to hunt. 

The researchers advocate keeping domestic cats indoors, as it is safer for the cat. Felines are also clearly responsible for a great deal of murder and mayhem in the neighborhood.  Some of the 'kitty cam' footage was graphic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Good Old Days

It's been 67 years this month since the end of WWII. Saturday night I was sitting around with my Dad, Mom, Aunt, and an 85 year old neighbor of my cousin's. My Dad is old enough to remember the end of the war. He was ten and my aunt was 11. He remembers my grandmother running out onto Allston Street in East Cambridge and banging pots and shouting with all the other ladies. The end of the war meant their sons (and daughters perhaps) were coming home. At least some were.

My mom doesn't remember the actual day, but she remembers other wartime realities like rationed butter. My Mom said the butter was white, and there was a little dot of yellow something on the top you'd mix in to turn it yellow. She also remembers raid drills and climbing under her desk at school. My Dad recalls getting into the movies with a handful of metal scrap. The neighbor, who is a little older than my parents, said she was in NYC at the end of the war. She recalls a parade going down 5th avenue. She said she saw Eisenhower and Truman go by in an open convertible.

Of course here is one of the most famous pictures of the end of WWII, taken in Times Square. Greta Friedman, a nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, are the subjects of the photograph. (Many people over the years have tried to claim this photograph, but it has finally been established it is Greta and George). Here are Greta and George reunited today. When George grabbed and kissed Greta on that evening in 1945, he did not know her. In fact he married another woman he was on a date with that night....

Monday, August 6, 2012

My 100 Most Controversial Books

Once again Library Thing offers a fun meme to explore. Here are the 100 most controversial books in my library. Of course not all the books I own are listed on Library Thing. I'm sure there are others that would make the list, like "Uncle Tom's Cabin," by Harriet Beecher Stowe. What is surprising to me is how many of my Buddhist titles make the list.

This page shows your 100 most controversial books, as measured by the standard deviation of members star ratings. To be included, a book must have been rated at least 20 times. 
 

RatingTitle

3.54Nightwood by Djuna Barnes

3.18Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee G. Miller

3.97Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

3.67The Pure and the Impure by Colette

4.03The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

3.79Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia

3.68Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule

3.65Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

4.02The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

4.01Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham

4.41The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

3.86Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

3.79Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

3.56Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead

3.72The Lover by Marguerite Duras

3.85The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

3.6Women and Madness by Phyllis Chesler

3.54Sapphira and the Slave Girl by Willa Cather

3.95The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

3.56Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

3.97Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

3.72Black Spring by Henry Miller

3.87Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

4.11Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath (Penguin Classics) by Sigrid Undset

4.18The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

3.63Surpassing the Love of Men: Romantic Friendship and Love Between Women from the Renaissance to the Present by Lillian Faderman

3.74My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor

3.93Plexus by Henry Miller

4.07The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by Dalai Lama

4.09Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

4.09The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert

4.05Light in August by William Faulkner

4.05Lust for Life by Irving Stone

4.06The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology by Robert Wright

4.17Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

3.74Henry and June: From A Journal of Love: the Unexpurgated Diary of Anais Nin (1931-1932) by Anaïs Nin

3.68A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones

3.61Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf

4.11The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

4.07The Diary of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 1: 1915-1919 by Virginia Woolf

3.92Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

3.9O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

3.78Claudine's House by Colette

4Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

3.78The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America (Penguin Classics) by Anonymous

4.05Renascense and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

4.01Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

3.86Gods and Generals by Jeff Shaara

4.07A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

3.85Genes, Peoples, and Languages by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza

4.05Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

4.21Three by Flannery O'Connor: The Violent Bear It Away, Everything That Rises Must Converge, and Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor

4.17Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

3.8Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors by Stephen E. Ambrose

4.25Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

4.08Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

4.01The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker

3.82Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom by Joseph Goldstein

3.85Right Hand, Left Hand by Chris McManus

3.75Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

3.45Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts

4.23The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn

4.13The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

4.08Lincoln by Gore Vidal

4.15Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley

3.7The First Salute by Barbara W. Tuchman

3.97The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks

4.16The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould

4.21Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies

3.97The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin

4.23Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

4.25The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

3.9Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis

4.15The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

3.86The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings (Modern Library Classics) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

3.86Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

4.24Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

4.1D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose

3.74Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island by Thor Heyerdahl

3.74The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally

4.13A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara W. Tuchman

4.24The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

4.05Virginia Woolf: A Biography by Quentin Bell

4.12Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

4.01The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara

3.98Awakening the Buddha within: eight steps to enlightenment by Lama Surya Das

4.29The Captured by Scott Zesch

4.09Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher R. Browning

4.19The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

4.41The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson

4.04The Peculiar Institution by Kenneth M. Stampp

4.39The Gilded Bat by Edward Gorey

3.68Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams by Lynne Withey

3.95The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser

4.21Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade

4.1With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen B. Oates

4.02All for the Union: The Civil War Diary & Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes by Elisha Hunt Rhodes

3.63Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project by Spencer Wells

4.26Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living (Shambhala Classics) by Pema Chödrön

4.52Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63 by Taylor Branch

Barn Bash 2012

The weather was beautiful on Saturday. My friends Stacey, Eve, Ellyn and I rode up to Windham Maine for the annual Barn Bash. It was their virginal experience. Jonathan met us there, driving over from Berwick. My family was there, parents, sisters, brother-in-laws Marty and Dave, nephews, niece, and aunt. The music was stellar and the atmosphere perfectly relaxed and easygoing. It was really a fantastic time.

Here's a clip of the Hanson sisters, friends of my brother-in-law's nephew Sam. They did some cover songs of the Indigo Girls, Bonnie Raitt, and Linda Ronstadt. I know it sounds corny to say it was magical to be there-- but it was!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Perfection