Defense: a poem

Ready to defend the country
Against more than fire or flood
Our trusty park rangers
Also stand against fascism.

inspired by today’s prompt at Daily Writing Practice: the park ranger

Pray for Us

Are you happy now, 
      secure in your warm houses and cars  
As the rain falls and the grass 
      grows  in what ought to be cold December? 
May our children forgive us 
      our complacency and our pride 
As we ignore the changing climate 
      for our convenience. 

As the rain falls and the grass 
      grows  in what ought to be cold December, 
Say a prayer for the polar bear 
      ice crumbling under her feet 
As we ignore the changing climate 
      for our convenience, 
For the sake of our laziness, 
      in the name of saving time. 

Say a prayer for the polar bear 
      ice crumbling under her feet 
Say a prayer for the coral reef 
      bleaching and dying in warming, acidic water 
For the sake of our laziness, 
      in the name of saving time 
We destroy the world. 

Say a prayer for the coral reef 
      bleaching and dying in warming, acidic water 
Are you happy now? 
May our children forgive us 
      our complacency and our pride 
We are destroying the world.

Some Republicans Calling for a Government Shutdown

Some Republicans are so upset over the President’s immigration announcments on Thursday that they are suggesting that they are willing to shut down the U.S. government over this dispute. This despite the fact they agree that what the President has announced is perfectly legal.

I’d love to start a discussion about immigration, but that’s not my point right now. My point is that some Republicans are so upset over the President’s legal (and in my opinion, ethical) decisions that they would rather shut down the government than deal with it or actually fix our immigration system.

THEY WANT TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT!!!

This is just playing with the lives of all Americans, especially those who are employed by the government, or funded by a government agency. By the time we start talking about the impact on communities located near important, busy national parks, and all the government services that become unavailable, this is a major impact on ordinary people’s lives.

See, here’s the thing. If your livelihood depends in any way on the U.S. government, and the government shuts down, then you stop getting paid.* Indefinitely and without much warning. Somewhat like being laid off or fired. Except it’s worse than that, because if you’re laid off or fired, you can go look for another job. If the government shuts down, your job is still there, you just can’t work at it. So if you like your job, or the city you live in, and you start job hunting, then you face the possibility that you may be (and probably are) walking away from a job you like, maybe even love, that will be there again soon, and you may not find one that pays as well or you like as much. So you’re pretty much stuck with some unpalatable choices. Most people choose to wait it out. But that’s a drain on savings and stressful.

Given all that, Republicans threatening to shut down the government are, in my opinion, pushing the nuclear option. They can’t be bothered with negotiation, or finding another solution, or anything that actually requires work. Instead, they are like a little kid who doesn’t like the way the other kids are playing with the blocks. “I don’t like you or what you’re doing, so I’m going to take all the blocks and no one can play with them!” This is not acceptable in preschool, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to adults.

Movie Review: The Box Trolls

The Box Trolls is a sweet movie about little gremlins who live in tunnels underneath a town. Falsely maligned as baby snatchers by the town villain, they struggle to survive as the villain steals them away and the townspeople hate them. In the end, the (not stolen) orphan they adopted saves the day in a heartwarming ending.

I really liked this movie except for two things that make me never want to see it again. One, the villain is a cross-dresser and is portrayed in such a way as to make all cross-dressers and transgender people seem evil. Strike one for homophobia, strike two for stereotypes and cliches.

Two, the ending is absolutely disgusting and ruins the whole rest of the movie. Spoiler alert: the villain explodes, literally. Not shown on screen, but still stomach-turning. Strike three for something truly nasty and disgusting.

The movie is really clever in the way it incorporates our society’s current anxieties and concerns, including food allergies, gourmet food & foodies, child-rearing, homophobia, and more. It’s a real shame that homophobia and prejudice against people who differ from gender norms couldn’t have been addressed in the sweet and inclusive way that the rest of the movie exhibits.

And the ending just goes to show that some ideas really, really shouldn’t be taken to their logical conclusion. Sometimes, it’s better just to leave some things to the imagination, or end the movie in a different way.

Two stars. (It would be one star, but the rest of the movie {everything but the homophobia and the disgusting ending} is so sweet, it redeems one star)

Vote Tomorrow!

Americans: Please go out and vote tomorrow! People in other countries risk their lives to vote — please take 15-30 minutes out of your life and go vote!

And if you are in Idaho, I would ask you to seriously consider voting for the Democratic candidates. The governor’s race is actually looking competitive and we need a different approach to funding education in Idaho!

Summer is Over

Summer is over, the air is colder and the leaves are starting to turn. The kids go back to school on Tuesday, and fall is in the air.

Where have I been? We took a road-trip to Pennsylvania and then, after less than a week at home, another road-trip to Montana. But we are back now for the fall, winter, and spring.

I have been meaning to post here for a while. But while I was gone to Pennsylvania (and pretty much without Internet or access to regular news), Ferguson happened. And then I read this article by Mom-101 about how everyone needed to write about Ferguson, and I got writer’s block. Because I had barely begun to process what was going on in Ferguson (and I’m still working on it) and here I was being told that it was insensitive and ignorant to blog without writing about Ferguson. Which I actually agree with, but when you’ve just learned about a major event, it’s really hard to write about it without seeming insensitive and ignorant, which are the very things I was trying to avoid.

That brings me to tonight. I read this awesome article on Slate, Why the Fires in Ferguson Won’t End Soon, about the root causes of the unrest in Ferguson, and how the shooting of Michael Brown was the final straw for the black people of the St. Louis area, because they have been dealing with racism and worse from the police for years now. Read the article, because the Slate author puts it much better than I can.

And when I figure out what I can actually do about Ferguson and the racism at the root of it (since I am over a thousand miles away), I’ll let you know.

I read a fascinating article in The Economist today. Entitled The Staid Young, it pretty much describes the way I look at the world. I realized that my husband and I, when we were very frugal and not adventurous in college weren’t actually 50-60 years behind the times, we were more like 10 years ahead of our time. Which makes perfect sense, as our parents fit the description of the parents of the young people acting this way now — our parents were just raising kids this way 10 years earlier than these other parents.

Today’s young adults were thus raised by a generation of parents who had fewer children later in life, and took the process more seriously.

And what does this mean for this generation’s outlook on life and the world?

Faced with economic crisis, they prefer to put their heads down and push through, rather than try to find collective solutions. Perhaps this is progress. … A lack of political action does not mean no implications for the body politic. Young people tend to take their habits with them as they age, so as this generation grows up, problems in the past thought irreparable — crime, addiction, family breakdown — may diminish further.

Read the entire article. It is truly fascinating.

Brief Speech on Global Income Distribution at Local Liberal Writers Gathering

I live in a very conservative area in Idaho, and once a year, everyone who writes (or has written) with a liberal perspective for the local newspaper is invited to an evening reception. Hors d’oeuvre are served, and then each writer is invited to make a brief speech about what he/she has been thinking about and working on lately. Here’s mine:

I’ve got a little stage fright, because I’m going to tell you that we are not poor. Yes, many people tonight have been sharing about how poor Idahoans are, and how many are on welfare, and while that is shocking, we here in Idaho are not poor in the global scheme of things. When you look at the global income distribution, we are quite rich.

If you own a car and a nice television in the United States, then you have enough assets to put you in the top 23 percent of wealthiest people in the world. If you own your own home and a car, then you are in the top seven and a half percent in the world for assets.

You are wealthy. How will you use your wealth for good?

What I’m Thinking About Today #homeless #children

I’m thinking about this article I read last month about homeless children in New York City. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it the first time. The article is about a homeless family living in a public shelter in NYC, and mostly focuses on the oldest child of the family, Dasani.

I went back and read some of the comments today, and the thing that struck me was that almost all the comments talk about the parents, and their choices, and about Dasani, and no one really talks about the conditions of the shelter described in the article — broken pipes, holes in walls, non-working toilets, the list went on and on.

I am appalled at these conditions and that human beings are expected to live in them. I don’t understand how this building can fail inspection multiple times, and yet nothing is done. How can the people of New York City in good conscience allow this to go on?

It reminds me of an Ursula K. Le Guin story, about a city named Omelas. This city is perfect — the children are healthy, the climate is perfect, the adults all have fulfilling work to do, they have fun and colorful holidays where the parades are never rained on, they never argue, the houses are lovely and the pipes never break, in short it is the perfect place to live. How is this possible, you ask? Well, there is a catch. In a dank broom closet, a small child lives who never sees the light of day and never leaves the closet. He or she (it is not clear in the story) is fed just enough to stay alive, is not cleaned, and is left alone. Nothing can be done for this child, because if the child is fed and cleaned, then the perfection of Omelas will come to an end. The good of the many is weighed against the good of the one. The rite of passage to adulthood for the young people of Omelas is to be shown this child. All are horrified, some rant against the system, almost all go back into the sunshine to live their perfect lives. A few, a very few, walk out of Omelas, never to return. Are the homeless children of New York that poor child of Omelas?

Dear Congress: Have you forgotten us?

The real people who work for the government, and for government contractors? The real people who receive Social Security? The real people who put their money in banks?

We’re not just numbers on a page, we are real people living real lives. Do you even realize that there are actual people behind the numbers — when you stop paying people, there are real consequences to real people’s lives? Or is it all just a game to you — have you become so far removed from reality that it’s just a power struggle and numbers on a page?

There are real people wondering how they will pay for food, for Christmas presents, wondering if their money in the bank is safe if the US government defaults on its bonds, wondering how long they can go without regular income coming in. You talk about the destruction of the middle class when jobs were sent overseas — well, we are the last of the middle class, and you, Congress, are destroying us!

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