Friday, June 29, 2007


Off we go to cause traffic disruption in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Or, as the denizens of such mountains refer to us as we sea-level creatures navigate windy, two-lane roads, act like Floridiots. Kinda clever moniker, actually. Wish we could come up with something equally snappy to refer to the crazy NY/NJ/Ohio drivers who invade us every summer...

Don't expect much in the next week or so, as we'll be celebrating DD's birthday and enjoying a temperature and humidity break. Ah, vacation!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Playing Nice in the Political Sandbox

By now, the informed world is familiar with the Hardball smackdown/sandbagging (choose your term based upon which side of the political fence you graze) featuring conservative pundit Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards. Video clips abound in the blogosphere, in case you've been under a rock or, as we Florida teachers have been, waiting less and less patiently for Tallahassee to release those blasted school grades.

Lessons from the Coulter/Edwards encounter abound, and I wouldn't consider myself a very good teacher unless I pointed some of them out. First off, let's get one main definition out of the way:

de·bate [di-beyt] –noun
1.a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.
2.a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.
3.deliberation; consideration.
4.Archaic. strife; contention.

Note that the archaic definition of the word seems lately to be the functioning definition of the word in the public arena. "Debate"--or what poses for it--in mass media mostly consists of talking heads screaming soundbites at each other, or in the case of the blogosphere, hurling value judgment grenades at the other side. Winner has the most volume or greatest lack of civility. I can't say the Coulter/Edwards exchange represents the nadir of current public discourse, but it's a good example to dissect. Here we go:
  • Ann Coulter has the First Amendment right to say whatever she feels about Mr. Edwards unless it is slanderous or libelous. Tasteless speech is well within Constitutional bounds.
  • Elizabeth Edwards has the right to make a phone call to a public newsmagazine and voice her opinion as well. The fact that she isn't John Edwards does not diminish her position.
  • As well-informed as you may be, you cannot change the opinions of those who disagree with you by acting like a petulant teenager. Huffing and eye-rolling don't work for my students, so why, if you are a college-educated adult with a national platform, would you assume they work for you?
  • Talking over your opponent speaks volumes about you, but nothing legitimate about your position (this would apply to Mr. Begala, Mr. Carlson, Mr. Colmes, Ms. Coulter, Mr. Hannity, Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Matthews, Mr. O'Reilly, and many others employed on the air).
  • Bloggers, and the folks who leave comments at HuffPo, the NYT, WaPo, and the like, remember Godwin's Law: once you start tossing out "Nazi" and "Hitler" to describe your opponent, you lose the debate.
  • Elizabeth Edwards is dead on: the personal attacks squelch meaningful discussion of the issues. I don't care whether you hate Bill/George/Hillary/Rudy/Mitt/John E./Barack/John McC. with an unmitigated fiery passion or not. The name calling isn't getting us anywhere but right back in the sandbox, throwing handfuls at the kid you think took your shovel.
Some real debate, if you would, peeps. What do you plan to do for the country? What ideas do you have to mend our torn social fabric? To improve access to quality education for all young people and develop a sane plan with which to do it? To create a health care system that truly improves the health of the nation? To reduce government waste by restricting senseless earmarks? To wrestle with knotty problems of race and class without resorting to tired rhetoric that says nothing new and gets nothing accomplished? To dignify the worth of all American voters during the next reapportionment by refusing to gerrymander district boundaries? To develop a sensible immigration policy that eliminates craziness (byzantine rules for legal immigrants that suck up tens of thousands of dollars in fees and months, if not years, in paperwork) and deals firmly and fairly with illegals (for one, no more wet foot/dry foot stupidity)? To honor our soldiers' sacrifices and bring them home safely, and soon?

Display some home training, please. Listen, think, and then speak. I'm anxious to hear your courteous, well-considered responses.

But I won't be holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Miss Mimi Thinks About Washington

One of the great things about Netflix is their deep catalog. That, and being able to log on and add something to your queue every time a "Hey, that looks like a good movie" thought crosses your mind. Because of one of those random thoughts, the Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington arrived in my mailbox this week.

I admit, I'm a sucker for "how to straighten out the country" kinds of movies like Dave and The American President, so it's amazing it's taken me this long to watch the acknowledged pinnacle of the genre (#99 on the IMDb Top 250). It's even more amazing how little has changed since Capra took up the lance in 1939 to tilt at the DC windmill. Some examples:
  • Stewart's Jefferson Smith character is viewed as a malleable rube by the Washington establishment because he's new and not part of the club.
  • Sitting Senators are portrayed as contemptuous of new ideas. (Don't you know how things have to get done around here?) Plus, they're rich. Senator Paine's daughter traipses around in mink while working girls like Saunders put in extra hours. When did a $1 million-plus bank account become an unwritten rule to run for elected office? Think there's any hope that a common man/woman, like a teacher or garbage collector with great ideas could be elected? I didn't think so.
  • Background money men pull the strings of elected representatives. The slimy "Taylor machine" of the film has nothing on today's corporate interests--Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Sugar, Big Auto, etc. If the money men don't approve, progress is smashed under its profit-making boot.
  • The quaint notion of "graft" seems to have vanished from our lexicon of outrage thanks to K Street's vampires. Anyone else notice a huge conflict of public interest when the only voices that get heard come from lobbyists?
  • The Willett Creek Dam project's got nothing on Sen. Stevens' Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere. Doesn't someone recognize the difference between a useful project and a full-bore cash grab for pork? When you read the word "earmark," say "oink."
  • Lawmakers groaning in disgust when Sen. Smith reads the Declaration of Independence and Constitution during his filibuster. Like they couldn't do with a refresher from time to time.
And now we find that the Supremes have struck down most of the soft money provisions of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill. It's enough to make you puke. Maybe each session of Congress should open with a Capra screening. Maybe some of the folks we send to Washington (and could we all start thinking before we vote, please??) would remember why they're there, and who they really should be representing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hedonism Run Amok

So I go to iTunes and download music. This isn't something I normally do, and I'm ashamed to admit that my iTunes choices aren't hip, groundbreaking, or anything that would cement my status as a cool chick. They are, however, fun tunes for walking and driving. My latest blush-inducing purchases:
  • "Jump" - Madonna
  • "Love Can Move Mountains" - Celine Dion
  • "Fake" - Alexander O'Neal
  • "Criticize" - Alexander O'Neal
  • "Comin' Home Baby" - Mel Tormé
  • "That's the Way It Is" - Celine Dion
  • "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" - Barry White
  • "This Time I Know It's for Real" - Donna Summer
  • "Car Wash" - Rose Royce
  • "Build Me Up Buttercup" - The Foundations
  • "Perfect Way" - Scritti Politti
  • "Ain't No Other Man" - Christina Aguilera
  • "Off the Wall" - Michael Jackson
  • "The Way You Move" - OutKast & Sleepy Brown
  • "Bust a Move" - Young MC
  • "I Melt With You" - Modern English
  • "Die Another Day" - Madonna
  • "Don't Tell Me" - Madonna
  • "Hung Up" - Madonna
  • "Music" - Madonna
  • "U + Ur Hand" - P!nk
No idea why I'm on such a Madonna kick, but there you have it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

They're Right About That

Ran across a fun blogthing on my bud Macy's blog, so I had to steal (the best teachers are the best thieves). No surprises here for anyone who knows me:

You Are 15% Left Brained, 85% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dads Rule!

It's Father's Day, and we are fatherless at Chez mimi. DH is on his way home from the great non-frozen North (he was quite put out at the lack of cool temperatures during his Canadian sojourn), but alas, he is not yet home. We did speak on the phone, so that's good.

I also had a nice chat with my own Daddy. From him, I have inherited a love of reading, a penchant for debate (that's putting it mildly), and gray hair. Lots of gray hair. He's a real Southern dad, the kind who knows his way around a grill and a good beer, can tell a joke properly, entertain an audience with stories, and show off good manners and a fine education (Davidson College, thank you very much--he's a Carolina boy). Plus, he reads a mean Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book.

I have been twice blessed. I have a great Dad, and I married a man who's a great dad, too. My kids are lucky. Too bad so many kids will go to bed tonight not being able to say the same.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

What to do when everyone's gone? Why, catch up on reading and watching romantic comedies. Two choices gleaned from my quiet week:


Yeah, yeah, I know--he does that stammering charmer thing a lot. But he is a charmer. And those lovely English blue eyes, and that lovely British accent, and... Yep, I'd cast him in the lead.


Coming late to the party as usual, I have finally picked up a copy of The Eyre Affair, the introduction of the intrepid LitraTec Thursday Next in Fforde's weird, parallel Great Britain, where literature and the arts are held in such high esteem, actors can be arrested for affronts against Shakespeare and roving Baconians attempt to convince that Sir Francis Bacon is the true Bard of Avon. Fun, fun stuff for literature majors. Now that we've been introduced, Mr. Fforde and I have more reading to do. Perhaps over tea.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #2

The unstuffing and streamlining continues apace. This week, refreshing the restroom. I originally went with a moon and stars motif, partly because of the small children, but also because I have to camouflage a really ugly harvest gold bathtub.

This week, the moons and stars have been put to rest, and all that star/moon stenciling has been painted over with restful pale turquoise. We're going Florida in there--tacky tourist Florida. I found some very cool postcard images at AllPosters large enough to frame, so now I have a Cypress Gardens waterski pyramid, a Weeki Wachee mermaid, and a friendly gator advising you to "Drop In Anytime in Florida." Add a couple of landscapes and "Welcome to..." posters, and we have full-on Florida kitsch. It's fun. It's fresh.

And did I mention that I also purged the linen closet? I'm kinda proud of myself.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

All Quiet on the Home Front

The kids are at camp. DH is in Ontario for his Boyz in the Woodz week. That means that I am a-lone. A solo flyer. Four days of nothin' but mimi.

Let's hope they're semi-productive, although chillin' on the sofa with some rom coms is looking pretty good right now...

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List


Model, actor, Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. Flame on, indeed. He's hot.


Three words: "Go to jail." As in, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect an appearance fee for your vapid blonde self, Paris Hilton. For this alone, he deserves a high dollar steak.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Operation Kerosene Update #1

Progress is being made on the home front. After several days of tossing and straightening, I can make one astounding claim: I have a ten year old boy's room clean. As in party clean. Scary clean. It took a while, but the toys and junk have been winnowed, and about four pounds of sand have been returned to the natural environment (he has got to start emptying his sneakers before he comes inside!).

DD's room is looking good, too. Nice new rug, new furniture arrangement, far fewer clothes in the dresser and closet (although she collects clothes like a Park Avenue debutante on a platinum-card spree, since all of her older friends pass them along to her). We still need to repair the footboard of her bed and find the rails--hey, at 170 years old, it's doing pretty well--and get the last of her gack out of the living room, and then I'll have two rooms to celebrate over.

So the lovely trash men came and carried off two extra cans' worth of junk. I feel lighter. If only extra pounds on my butt were so easily discarded.

Today's task: mucking off the desk. There is wood to be found.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Bed List/The Dinner List

June 1 marks the first day of Gay Pride Month, and in honor of my gay friends, this edition of the Bed/Dinner List has a twist--the ladies I'd pick if I were so inclined.


This lady and I see eye to eye, literally. She's a petite powerhouse who's worked her way up from nothing roles into an Oscar-nominated producer and actress (Frida, working that fierce unibrow!). She's intelligent, outspoken, and unafraid. And you might notice that she's hot, too. Not that it'd work out, since my own husband would cut me out for a shot at Salma.


Another talented, outspoken lady. Aside from her great music, she's an articulate and dynamic spokesperson for breast cancer research (she's a survivor) and gay marriage (she's married to a great woman with a fab blog of her own, Tammy Lynn Michaels). She's another Oscar winner, taking home the naked gold guy for "I Need to Wake Up," featured in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth (it keeps her Grammys company). Here's an inconvenient truth: This woman is a proud mother of four in a committed, loving relationship. She also happens to be gay. Please tell me how her family and relationship are somehow a threat to mine? Yeah, I thought so.

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