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.


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.


Dear Yahoo: Stop publishing sensationalistic, incorrect ‘news’

I really enjoy reading the news on Yahoo!. I like the way the home page is set up, I like the visuals, I like being able to get more news even when I check back frequently. But there is one thing about Yahoo!’s news that is annoying me more and more lately. Some (not all, but the amount seems to be increasing) of the articles posted are lacking in actual news content, and are posted solely for their sensationalistic qualities.

A partial list (of articles I actually read in the past 6 months or so):
Box Tops for Schools program is discontinued as of July 31, 2014
Vaccinating your children may cause them to catch Enterovirus D-68
Ebola is airborne, according to the CDC (this one is actually true, I think, but the article and headline were nothing but sensationalism — there was no scientific credibility involved)

There have been more, but I often don’t actually get sucked in to these articles, so these are the ones I can say were truly terrible. The first 2 in my list are outright lies.

I expect a news site to mix the important news in with more popular news, but I don’t expect the ‘news’ to be outright fabrications. I don’t mind my real news about current events being mixed with celebrity or sports news (I even occasionally read the latest celebrity gossip on Yahoo!), but I do mind a news site publishing things that are blatantly untrue and scientifically fraudulent.  Yahoo!, cut it out!

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!

Memorial Day

US Navy 050308-N-0295M-003 The American and PO...

US Navy 050308-N-0295M-003 The American and POW-MIA flags wave in the wind in front of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you to all the men and women who have served our country in the military.

Book Review: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

Darien Church Doors

Photo credit: Larry Myhre

I just finished this book, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, by Darien Gee. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s my new favorite book, at least until I read another good one. :)

I’m really bad at remembering where I read something, so you’ll just have to bear with me when I tell you I read something recently, but I can’t remember where. (If you know the source, leave it in the comments. Thanks.) It was all about how people should read quality books, books that make you think, and reading anything else was pure escapism, and therefore not to be read. I’ve been told that before, that I’m reading for escapism, and I really ought to be reading better books. Oddly, anyone who tells me that always has very precise ideas about what makes a good book, and what doesn’t. Really, I think the claim of escapism is just a way for people to say, “You ought to be reading the books I agree with and think are good, and no others.”

One of the most memorable people to tell me this was my 9th grade English teacher. Completely focused on the young adult fiction I was reading several of every day, and the science fiction books by Arthur C. Clarke I was reading a few every week or so, she told me I was reading purely for escapism and needed to read better books, real literature. The thing is, I was also reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (a page or two at a time, it took me almost the whole school year to get through), and her (the teacher’s) idea of literature was Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. I don’t know if you think Margaret Atwood writes literature or not, but Dostoyevsky is most definitely literature.

Anyway, this most recent thing I read about escapism made me think, because all the books the author cited as examples were written at least 100 years ago. And you know, some older books are literature, but just because it’s newer doesn’t mean it’s not literature. And this author was fixated on romance novels not being literature, and while that may be true for some romance novels, it isn’t true for all. And if romance makes it not literature, what are we doing teaching Shakespeare as literature? Half his oeuvre is romance.

The debate about literature versus non-literature is as old as writing fiction. Lately, though,  a lot of the things I have been reading about escapism and non-literature being read seem to be aimed at women and novels by, for, and about women. I’m coming to think that this is a subtle form of sexism — if it’s by and about women, it must not be a good book — it must not be worthy of someone’s time. I’ve written about this before, but it’s really starting to annoy me.

I never used to consider myself a feminist, for a lot of complicated reasons I’m not going to go into right now. But the older I get (I’m much too young to be using that phrase, but I can’t think of a better one) the more I think I probably am one. It seems to me that women are not treated the same as men in a lot of (at this time and in the US) really subtle ways that are really hard to put your finger on. And I have a hard time seeing how The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, with its discussions of dementia, family and what makes a family, adoption, love, and more, is any less literature than an overwrought play about two teenagers who thought the world revolved around them.

You should read The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. It’s good. And I promise not to care if you read it just to read a good book, or if you analyze it deeply.

Five out of five stars.

Tuesday Treasure: Neon Wedding Tassels

Neon Thread Tassels

Neon Wedding Tassels
{Click the image to see the Etsy listing}

Add a touch of elegance to your wedding with a beautiful tassel! Now available in neon colors — pink, yellow, green, or blue
— to match your wedding colors {other colors are also available}.

What can you do with tassels at your wedding? (Different tassel tops are available for different uses, from keychains to hanging cord to ear wires and more)

  • give to your bridesmaids (bridesmaid gift)
  • give to your guests (wedding favor)
  • add to your hair
  • add to your bouquet (wrap hanging cord around your bouquet, or add to the flowers themselves)
  • wrap hanging cord around napkins (napkin rings)
  • add to table centerpieces
  • shoe tassels
  • clip to your purse or clutch
  • clip to a chain: necklace
  • buy two: exchange with your beloved
  • buy two: wear as earrings



Inez Milholland

Inez Milholland was a suffragist in Washington, DC, in the early 20th century. She organized a march on the Washington Mall in 1913 to argue for women’s right to vote. She rode a white horse while dressed in flowing robes.

Three years later, she was dead. She ignored her own health problems to travel around the country giving speeches for suffrage. She collapsed and died during a speech in 1916. At the time, she was hailed as a martyr for the cause.

100 years after suffrage march, activists walk in tradition of Inez Milholland – The Washington Post.

Food Allergies? Beware!

Tasty Food Abundance in Healthy Europe

A new study has come out claiming that many foods are not what they claim they are — they have been adulterated. Pomegranate juice was found to have unlabeled apple or grape juice in it, lemon juice was found to be mostly water, the list goes on.

This seems fairly harmless, even if annoying and illegal, until you realize that many Americans rely on food labels to keep them safe and healthy. If you have food allergies, ingesting even a little bit of a food you are allergic to can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hives, swelling, or even death. Unlabeled ingredients threaten the lives and health of everyone with food allergies.

If you have food allergies, and you experience an adverse (bad) reaction to a food, and you are in the USA, contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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