Thursday, June 30, 2011

Too hot for Viewshound?!

According to Michelle Chabin of Religious News Services, in her recent article for Huffington Post: "Passengers carrying any non-Islamic article of faith (emphasis mine), will not be able to fly code-share flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia under Delta Air Line's new partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines that is set to begin in 2012."

It's time to boycott Delta Airlines. (It's time to lead planeloads of women to Saudi Arabia in protest but that's another post.)

This is what happens when American corporations do business with Saudi Arabia - or really, any other nation that doesn't share what we publicly call our "values."  Delta just exposed Saudi Arabia as the misogynistic, narrow-minded, backward-looking "state" that it is. And this is how low (and how far) our corporations will go to make money. This is why the power of corporations should be limited. They exist solely to make money. The bottom line is that the decision to enter into the partnership with the Saudi airline that necessitated such concessions on Delta's side was money. Do you suppose anyone who signed that agreement really cared what the Saudis might stipulate, as long as the price was right? 

There are many forms of tyranny. The Founding Fathers - bless their 18th century minds - understood two: tyranny from above and tyranny from below. What they didn't understand was the tyranny of greed which has become manifested in the behavior of corporations.

The power structure of a corporation - which evolved out of the Rennaissance and is pre-democratic in origin - is essentially feudal.   The motivation of a corporation - one could argue its primary existence - is fundamentally the desire to make more money, or, more simply - greed.  Those at the top answer ultimately not to the "values" of their shareholders, but their corporation's bottom line. 

We have thrown off our kings and we have a political process. It's time to recognize the new kind of tyranny which has reared its ugly head - and end it. Now.

Note:  This blog was originally submitted to Viewshound to be published as an article,  and was rejected as being too inflammatory. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

School's out...

...for just about forever.  Unless, of course, I decide to go back to it. 

Libby's going to college, of course, so my dance with academia isn't entirely over, and I've mulled going back to school myself.  But a big chunk - the part that began in September of 1985 when my oldest daughter marched off to kindergarten at Nether Providence Elementary School in Wallingford, PA, and ended last night - is over. 

At one point, I had a child in college, high school, middle school and elementary school all at once. 

No  more lunches or last minute scrambles for lunch money.  No more runs for the bus.  No more absent notes or phone calls to the nurse.  No more field trips.  No more lost library books.  No more permission slips and emergency contact cards (which all had to be filled out in quadruplicate.)  No more report cards, no more teacher conferences - not that I ever went to too many of those.  (What was the point of going just to hear how well my kids were doing?)

And will I miss it... any of it?  Ask me this time next summer. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

I've survived my children's childhoods

My baby - the last of my four - graduated from high school tonight.  At approximately 7:20 PM EDT, my youngest daughter was handed her diploma amidst all the appropriate pomp and circumstance one small Connecticut town can muster.  Driven inside by the weather, there was something so endearingly Thornton-Wilderish about the whole scene, I half expected the Stage Manager to put in an appearance.

It was all exactly the way I remember mine, the way I remember my daughters' and my son's:   the speeches, the singing, the uncomfortable seats.  The girls always wear white gowns, the boys in a color.  There was even the same wreath of cigar smoke when we exited the building.  Libby distinguished herself admirably among her peers and her youngest graduated with the highest GPA and the most academic awards of them all.

But along with the pride, there's a sense of relief.     

"14 years and four graduations is a lot of graduating," I remarked to my oldest daughter, as we took turns dandling Baby Grace on our knees between the speeches.  "But I get a break now."

"Jake won't graduate for another fifteen years," she agreed. 

And he's your kid, I thought silently.  Blessed, blessed be.

Where the bullies hide

I'm hearing a lot about bullying these days on the parent pages and the mommy blogs.  People are talking about bullying, what it is, and how to stop it, naming a problem I have been all too aware of since I was in sixth grade and the target of class-wide bullying.  In retrospect, I understand why it happened. 

My parents, Goddess bless them, recognizing early that I was bright for my age, sent me to first grade instead of kindergarten when I was five.  Although they meant to do what was best for me, to some degree that decision sealed my fate.  Not only did I not learn all those critical life skills everyone is supposed to learn in kindergarten, children who become the targets of bullies are frequently the youngest, the smallest or the brightest child in a class. 

I was all three. 

The whole horrific experience lasted pretty much the whole year, to the point where the following year, when we learned about the Holocaust, I had a good idea what it was like to exist in a Hell from which there was no rescue. 

Then along came my ex-husband, and I learned about bullying on a whole new level.  That was the kind of bullying I encountered when he used his knowledge and familiarity of the legal system against me, filing frivolous actions of every kind, forcing me to use resources I didn't have in my defense.  (Whenever I suggested to members of the bar that the fairest thing the bar association could do was to appoint lawyers to handle divorces for non-attorney spouses for free or at reduced cost, my suggestion was always greeted with shock, horror or laughter.  But it's one way to ensure the playing field stays even.) 

Which brings me to a few years ago, when once again I encountered the same kind of attempted bullying by someone I considered a business associate, partner, attorney, and friend.  When I approached her as a hurt friend, she responded to me as a lawyer to an opponent.  What hurt all the more was that this person purports to be a highly spiritual person, one who supposedly left the practice of law to embrace a more spiritually-inclined way of life - which includes claiming to channel messages from otherworldly energies. 

So after much thought and reflection, I've decided to stand up to that kind of bullying.  It's taken me awhile to come to this place, because I waited to see if she would evince any remorse, contrition, or the slightest awareness she hurt someone who, by her own admission "never let her down, always came through for her, and was always there for her."  But although I've waited a long time, there's been nothing, and so, reluctantly, I've decided to act. 

Bullies come in all guises and in all forms.  Like every other form of evil, in order to exist, they must rely on good people doing nothing.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to succeed in saving a weekend...

...that almost got spoiled by the show last night?  Go see the latest revival of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" currently starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and John Laroquette. 

Laroquette alone is worth the price of the ticket and Daniel Radcliffe is just adorable as "Ponty" - the clever whiz kid who rises from window washer to Chairman of the Board in two acts.  His true love is played by a lovely ingenue making her Broadway debut, and the supporting cast is energetically fun.  Two thumbs up and five stars. 
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Knowing when to fold 'em

If life, as some wit once opined, is all about showing up, to my way of thinking there's nothing worse than not knowing when to leave.  Fish and guests, said Ben Franklin, stink after three days.  And old musicians who don't know that their music has turned to mush, stink even worse. 

I know our culture expects us to keep rockin' til we drop.  I know we're all supposed to be in pursuit of Eternal Youth.  I know I'm supposed to find something touching, even epic, in people determined to go rocking and raging into that good night.  

But there's something terrifying in the aspect of an aging rocker, hopping all over a stage like an epileptic monkey.  There's something especially terrifying about the said aging rocker performing in front of an audience full of golf shirts and bald pates reflecting more light than the disco ball hanging in the center of the room.  The way I see it, it's not just terrifying, it's pathetic. 

Last night I attended a show by Southside Johnny at BB King's Blues Club in NYC.  The first four or five songs were so awful, it didn't even sound like music.  Noise is not music, and cranking up the volume doesn't create harmony... it  just creates more noise.  At one point, when the audience was singing along "ooooooh" - Southside quipped "Oh, those are the lyrics you all know." No, I wanted to shout... those are the lyrics this audience can remember. I'm old enough to know there's a difference.

Don't get me wrong.  Everyone's entitled to relive their youth.  Everyone's entitled to enjoy their music - if that's what they want to call it.  But if Southside Johnny wants to remain the blues legend Beloved says he is, someone should do him the favor and tell him to hang up his mic.  Because it's time, Southside... past time.    

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coming out of the Dark

I feel as if I've taken a long trip to a place at once faraway and around the corner, that I've been about as dead as it's possible to be without actually leaving your body.  But little by little, I can feel myself waking up and coming back, because after all, I'm not really dead.  Not yet.