Operation Confuse-a-Bagger

Last spring, I was surprised to learn that I am famous for something that happened 16 years ago.  That’s what happens when you get mixed up with the KGB, I guess: Your exploits come back to haunt you.  I’d had no idea that anyone was still talking about Operation Confuse-a-Bagger, much less that Shawn Knight’s retelling of the legend was on YouTube!

Then, just recently, I happened to look at Lynne Powell’s blog.  She’s a good writer and had just won the LJ Idol competition, for which she wrote a number of great essays, like this one about running out . . . and this one about KGB and Operation Confuse-a-Bagger.

Both times, it was a shock to hear/read this story, in which I am a main character, told so differently from the way I recall it! Read more…


Check the facts behind those negative campaign ads!  This site is like Snopes for politics.

Hey, I never knew this before: Some spiders are indoor spiders who long ago evolved to live inside buildings!

Curvy-hipped women are smarter and have smarter children.

A man whose parents lived with and loved another couple for part of his childhood writes about the experience.  I think the most interesting thing about this is that he says the divorce was harder on him than the cohabiting.

Orson Scott Card wrote this great article about walkable neighborhoods, public transit, and ways to improve retail operations.  He wrote a lot of the things I’ve been meaning to write (and now don’t have to get around to!) as well as some I hadn’t thought of yet.  He also makes me grateful for Pittsburgh, where those “little downtowns” are a reality.

Interesting facts about the countries that legalized homosexual civil unions in the early 1990s: Rates of heterosexual marriage increased, rates of heterosexual divorce decreased, rates of sexually transmitted infection decreased, and rates of unmarried childbearing increased at a slower pace than before civil unions became available.

A great reason not to get married, whatever your sexual orientation: In Massachusetts, you can be required to pay alimony to your spouse’s ex-spouse!

This local mom has an almost paperless home because of the many reusable products she makes and sells.  I really like the looks of her school-gear bags (intended to replace those horrible zippered vinyl ones whose scratchy seams always split at the worst possible moment), and the unicorn-print diapers are sooo cute!

Here’s a place to buy reusable sandwich wrappers that are not made of vinyl.

Walk Score uses an address to calculate the “walkability” of the neighborhood–what’s within walking distance.  Our home scores 88 out of 100.  My childhood home scores 23.

The daughter of feminist author Alice Walker writes about how her mother’s stances affected her life as a child and now as a mother.

Interesting thoughts on cat-to-human translation and Emotional Dynamic Range.

Here’s an old house turned into an eye-popping art project.

The Way I Usually Do It

A couple of weeks ago, we were making one of our family’s favorite dinners: beans, guacamole, diced tomato, and chips.  As usual, Daniel was Mexicanating the beans while I made the guacamole.  Nicholas decided, for the first time, that he wanted to help with the guacamole instead of the beans.  I showed him how I remove the stem from an avocado, put the point of the knife into the stem hole, cut all the way around, and then twist to separate the two halves.  I handed him one half and used the other to demonstrate how to squish the avocado pulp into the mixing bowl.

Nicholas said, “Well.  Mom.  This is the way I usually do it.”  He grabbed an uncut avocado and began sawing at it with the paring knife, narrating in an instructive tone.

My first instinct was to laugh.  Read more…

Community Organizer vs. CEO

Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention mocked Barack Obama’s career as a “community organizer” and said that what America needs is a president with “executive experience” who can act as our CEO.  She got a lot of cheers from the party delegates.  Probably a lot of them are (or want to be) CEOs themselves and like the idea of somebody like themselves being in charge.

To me, though, those words pressed completely different buttons than the Republicans intended.  To me, a CEO is someone who makes the occasional important decision but delegates all the hard work to underlings who never get much credit, someone who plays golf a lot and eats fancy dinners on an expense account, someone who runs the business into the ground and then escapes with lots of money while other people clean up the mess.  To me, “executive” means “I think I’m better than you because I wear a tie and never clean my own toilet.”

That’s not the kind of president I want!  That’s very much the kind of president we’ve had for the last eight years, and it looks like he’s going to get away with the golden parachute, instead of being shipped to Iraq to accomplish his damn mission already. 

A CEO has two top priorities: to crush the competition, and to maximize shareholder profit.  I believe that the United States can be a great country without crushing anybody; in fact, we’ll be a better country if we think in terms of setting a good example and encouraging other countries to follow, instead of being paranoid that other countries will conquer us if we don’t conquer them first.  As for the shareholders, the Republicans like to make it sound as if all Americans will benefit from their policies, but the reality is clear: When Sarah Palin said Barack Obama would raise your taxes, the “you” she was talking about is the richest 5%-25% of taxpayers.  Those are the shareholders they serve, whose profit they want to maximize at the expense of the rest of us.

Some people have suggested that sneering at the “community organizer” is a Republican strategy to be racist and/or classist without coming out and saying so.  Perhaps.  But I think it’s less a matter of race or class than of attitude toward the people.  The Republicans want us to fear the outside world and depend on them for protection.  (I think it’s hilarious that Rudy Giuliani, notorious for mentioning 9/11 at every possible opportunity, criticized the Democrats for not mentioning 9/11 enough at their convention!)  The Democrats have noticed that, during our eight years of being defensive and offensive, we’ve been letting our country fall apart on the inside, and they want to get it back together.

To me, a “community organizer” is exactly what we need to get Americans back to feeling like part of a community and getting things organized, instead of spiraling out of control and blaming each other.  I really like the idea of a president whose instinctive approach to problems is to sit down and listen to everybody’s perspective and then motivate everybody to stand up and work together to do the right thing.

John McCain is committing adultery.

“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman is committing adultery.”
–Jesus Christ, as quoted in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18

I’m just saying.  By having divorced Carol and married Cindy, John McCain committed adultery and has lived in an adulterous relationship for 28 years now.  This may not be adultery as your typical American defines it, but it is adultery according to Jesus Christ.

In addition, McCain had several extramarital affairs during his marriage to Carol and began his relationship with Cindy while still married to Carol.  That is adultery by anybody’s definition.

It’s true that McCain has said the failure of his first marriage was the biggest moral failure of his life and that he’s on pretty good terms with Carol.  He could be worse.

But he also said in the above forum, “For me as a Christian, [marriage] is a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”  This indicates his intention to follow the teachings of Jesus.  How, then, can he believe that his current adulterous union is acceptable?

This isn’t the reason I’m not voting for John McCain.  He and I disagree on nearly all the issues of American government that I think are far more important than his sexual behavior.

However, it seems to me that just ten years ago, there were a lot of Americans who thought it was very, very important to have a president who did not commit adultery.  This year, a lot of Americans have been saying John Edwards will never again be able to run for office because he committed adultery.  Clearly, there are people to whom this is a deciding issue.

Therefore, I say: If you believe that an adulterer is unfit to serve as President of the United States, do not vote for John McCain.  If you believe that McCain’s adultery no longer matters because he is now (as far as we know) in an exclusive relationship with Cindy, compare the behavior of this self-professed Christian to the teachings of Jesus Christ.