Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Long but is there a topic?

In case there are any Rebecca-like readers, I did get the Dixie Chicks' new CD The Long Way. I also got a Ben Harper live CD that I haven't had time to listen to yet. Not that I've had that much time to listen to The Long Way but I did listen to it last night and am listening right now.
I really enjoy it and I think most people will so if you've been thinking, "Should I get it?" -- the answer's probably yes. "Easy Silence" is probably the one that stands out first to me. I love the "EEE" in "Easy Silence" note that Natalie Maines sings. I grabbed the case. There are fourteen songs. I'm not able to place them all by their title but I do enjoy the entire CD and can listen to it all the way through -- no clunckers.

I'm off tomorrow (as usual). Other than that? C.I.'s trying to get everything figured out community wise. Regarding The Third Estate Sunday Review, Jim's said that anyone who wants to bail or wants to help in part on the edition can. Rebecca's the only one up in the air right now due to some plans that she and Fly Boy have. You'll see something at all the community sites on Memorial Day (usual holiday post) and we'll all be working on that. Friday's up in the air for me right now. I do have plans. C.I. will cover items with Mike if I'm unable to post. (Thank you.) But I think I'll be able to get something up. If I'm not able to, I will do so on Saturday. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts on today's headlines.

"Senate Intel. Committee Approves Hayden Nomination" (Democracy Now!):
General Michael Hayden has moved a step closer to becoming the next head of the CIA. On Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to recommend Hayden's confirmation. Four Democrats joined the committee's Republican members in supporting Hayden's nomination. During his confirmation hearing, Hayden staunchly defended the Bush administration’s domestic wiretap program he oversaw as director of the National Security Agency. In a statement, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, one of the three Democrats to vote against, said: "General Hayden directed an illegal program that put Americans on American soil under surveillance without the legally required approval of a judge."

That's multi-star General Hayden. Four? Yes, four. I looked online for ten minutes and finally found one story. No link to it, it's Fox "News." But I did hear it on the radio that a Senate committee decided Wednesday to reappoint him. This isn't a "good" thing. Swiping from C.I. who noted these remarks by Barbara Olshansky on KPFA's The Morning Show (from Tuesday of last week):

One of the things that I think is underling this type of authorization [. . .] is this notion that this presidency has, that this administration has, that the commander-in-chief powers which are supposed to be used outside the United States in a zone of miltary hostility . This president says, we can turn that power inside, into the United States, into the domestic, civilian, civil society and use that power here. And that underlies everything that this president is doing. . . What's really troubling is when you think that we're now going to appoint military people to fundamentally civilian posts. It adds even more structure to that idea that we can operate militarily inside the United States. That's something that [. . .] in the history of this country we have never abided. It's something the Framers, way back, were concerned about and it's something the courts have been really clear about and yet that is what this administration is completely -- using the military powers inside the United States to justify all of these violations.

Are we a democratic government or are we a military junta? Why would we put a general in charge of the CIA?

"FCC Won't Investigate NSA's Access To Telephone Records" (Democracy Now!):
The Federal Communications Commission says it won't investigate whether the National Security Agency has obtained access to the telephone records of millions of US citizens. Calls for an investigation followed a USA Today report that three major telecom countries handed over customers' phone data to the NSA. The FCC says it cannot investigate because of the classified nature of the NSA's activities. Democratic Congressmember Ed Markey, one of several lawmakers who had requested the probe, said: "The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect Americans' privacy to the National Security Agency without even asking a single question about it."

That's not surprising. The FCC is packed with Republicans. And the new head, replacing Colin Powell's son Michael, was a Bully Boy pick. So once again, Americans have no line of defense between themselves and the Bully Boy. (Read C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy.") We've seen the Christy Todd Whitman EPA roll over (most famously right now for her actions, she's no longer the head, after 9/11 when she allowed a safety ruling to go out that had no basis in fact but also in terms of repeatedly altering science and research to play down global warming) so it's no surprise that every government agency does as well. It's really sad that Congress and the Supreme Court also roll over. But citizens have no protection from the out of control Bully Boy and his lackies in the White House.

Rebecca called to see if I'd gotten the Dixie Chicks CD and, as noted above, I did. She was talking about the lyrics and I have no idea. I don't usually listen for the words when I'm first listening. I'm listening for the notes being sung, the music and it's often days and weeks before I have the words down. Which is a great way to drop back into the college discussion I planned to do last week because Rebecca always studied the lyrics. She has a wonderful voice and would be able to sing along within a day (tops) of buying an album because she'd learn the words so quickly. I'd listen for the music and often take weeks (in college) before I even knew the words.
C.I.? On first listen of a song, we're talking brand new, C.I. could usually provide every other line on first listen. (That's still true today.) However, C.I. would often, after knowing a song, make up lyrics to the songs because they'd be better that way. One that comes to mind is Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." I love that song, I think it's a wonderful song. If you know Carly's version, you know that after the third verse you get a vamp until the end. "You're so vain, You probably think this song is about you" and "You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you" are the two lines. C.I. always adds, "You probably think I'm talking about you" and other lines. I always remember, when we're all singing along that one but get lost on the others. One more C.I. story because Rebecca said if I was going to bring up making up lines, I needed to bring up verses and the reason for that. (C.I. won't mind and said last week to use my "best judgement" and there'd be no problem.) Rebecca used to get really upset in college when we'd all be singing a song and C.I. would go to a different verse. If it's a song C.I. played on piano or guitar, forget it. (Rebecca's other complaint would be when we'd be singing "Me and Bobby McGee," the Janis Joplin classic, and C.I. would rush the "la-la" part when we were just singing it without the song playing on the stereo.)

You know what? I'm really not into a heavy post tonight. I think there's already plenty of "heavy" here. I'll talk about that the next time I blog. But if you're in college now (maybe you just graduated), I hope you've made time for life around you. Activism, absolutely. But you can't go through college with your nose in a book. Part of the experience/education is being tossed in with people you wouldn't normally be. People you might not ever talk to are all around you and that's really part of the experience. (I'm remembering a real jerk right now from a philosophy class -- an Ayn Rand devotee who always had to try to interject his love for Rand into a class on Plato.) Most important, it's a time to make friends.

Most important? You need to blow off steam, absolutely. You also, if you're lucky, will find friends who will support and aid you. Both Rebecca and C.I. were more than willing to go to the library with me on late hours. They'd help me with research (C.I. is a whizz with research and would usually surpise the reference libraian who was helping me with cross-references and raw data). I don't believe that any time is the "best time." (Hopefully, life will always have "best" moments.) But it is a time that you can build memories and a strong foundation. Rebecca and C.I. both taught me it was okay to say, "I don't know." They also taught me that it was okay to ask for help and that it was foolish not to use any help you had access to.

I struggled in one class in the second semester of my freshman year and a lot was riding on my paper. They both knew it and they insisted upon reading it when I was finished with it. I wasn't the type to say, "I wrote a great paper!" (nor were they). But you do need input. On that paper, I handed it to them and then left. I came back and was pretty upset because they'd market it all up. (In those days, that meant retyping.) Rebecca focused on spelling, C.I. focused on comprehension. There were circles (Rebecca's) and arrows (C.I.'s) and I thought, "Do they know how long it took me to type this paper?"

It wasn't even an ego thing, just, "Oh my God! I'm going to have to retype the whole thing." (As opposed to, travel back with me children, putting it back in and using white out to type over a mispelled word.)

But I retyped it, cursing them the whole time, and turned it in. Even before it came back (with the grade needed to pass), I felt okay with it, more than okay, and that's the sort of thing that I needed to learn and learn quickly.

Rebecca was always real good about making sure we attended every performance of a play or a band on campus. There were times when I'd think, "I have no interest in ___" (whatever playwright) but it did help. On a very basic level, I'd often have those plays later in English class. On another level, it rounded me out as a person.

The three of us didn't plan our schedules together. Rebecca was not an early riser (even then) and wanted her classes later in the day. I am an early riser and wanted to get them out of the way as soon as possible. C.I. took whatever was interesting -- C.I.'s degree plan was done by C.I. and never filed until graduation neared. People would say, "Oh, you've got to get a degree plan!" The department advisor would always be scheduling meetings -- then as now, if C.I. didn't ask for a meeting, attendance is 'optional.' (C.I.'s attitude with advisors was always, "Are you paying for my college? Then you don't need to worry.")

But one class we did take together in our freshman year was illuminating because I didn't do study groups. C.I. talked me into joining one and it was a big help. Rebecca taught me, on study groups, that when you forget to do your work for the group, show up with food and you'll be forgiven at least slightly. She always brought muffins, doughnuts and was, of course, Rebecca
so the guys would always give her a pass and no woman wanted to look bitter and point out, "We're going into the final and she's never done her work."

I'm realizing this is probably better, topic wise, for people who will be entering college. So let me talk about something that happens every summer. I always have at least one friend who has a child in college and they've had a rough time. That's normal. Never let that paralyze you. Even if you get placed on academic probation, it's not the end of the world (though many have thought so). When I speak to those people (and they're usually high achievers in high school who've managed to achieve in a more regimented structure -- high school -- and are now a little lost since college is quite a bit looser) the first thing I ask after they've explained their problem is, "Did you speak to anyone on campus?" Most students aren't aware that many universities provide counselors -- either for a small fee or free.

If you have an emotional problem of some kind (feeling overwhelmed or whatever), there are people on campus who are there to help to you.

One issue that has come up repeatedly is sexuality. You are who you are. But a number of people seem to think that they can keep their sexuality under wraps while in high school and, the minute they step onto a college campus, everything will suddenly make sense.

It's a process. If you're straight and shy or whatever in high school, you have to learn how to mix with the opposite sex. If you're gay and you've been keeping that under wraps (shy or not) until college, you're going to have to learn to mix as well.

The ones I've seen who suffered the most usually got into a relationship freshman year with someone who wasn't out. They had something in common at that point. But then the person they've fallen for isn't interested in much of anything except making sure that no one knows he or she is gay.

That's very hurtful. To put it in straight terms, it's like being the girl in high school that some guy's going to visit to have sex with but doesn't want to be seen with (or see outside of sex). It's the same type of situation because the person will wonder what's wrong with them?

Nothing. You can be perfect or the worst and it doesn't matter. If someone's not willing to acknowledge their sexuality, it doesn't matter what you are, they're not going to acknowledge you. I saw a young man who was very upset because he and a guy whom I'll call Adam would get together for mutual masturbation sessions. Sometimes they weren't mutual and often the person trying to address his or her own sexuality ends up pleasuring the one still hiding over and over.

Because you've been waiting all through high school for this adult moment when you could be you and you could be free about who you were, it's very easy for some to stay in bad relationships. This is the first relationship and if something's not working, it's easy to take that on yourself.

But it's not a relationship. A relationship is sharing and a person who is hiding himself or herself can't truly share. But what happens is often that this becomes (for the person attempting to deal with his or her sexuality) first love due to the fact that they've put themselves on hold until college. You need to know that this is common among staight people and gay people and that it has nothing to do with you. The young man I saw was sure the problem was with him.

It wasn't. It was first love and while he was ready to grow, his partner wasn't. That's life and it happens to most people (straight or gay). You pick yourself and move on. That means you don't slip (but if you do, you move on after) and fall back into a pattern because it's comfortable or because you're afraid you'll never find anyone else.

The thing you should do, if you're afraid of being alone, is ask yourself could you put up with this relationship for many years? Not if he or she changes, but if he or she stays the same? You probably can't. But those weeks, months or years that you do you will be taking yourself out of the game. If you are worried about ending up alone, the easiest way is to give your heart and time to someone who will not bring you happiness. You'll be alone in the 'relationship' and you'll find it harder to move on the longer you stay.

If you're gay or lesbian (or bi or trans), I'm not talking about coming out to your parents. (In fact, if they're paying your tuition and you don't think they'd be able to deal with your sexuality, it might be better to wait until college is over.) But if you're someone who kept your sexuality under wraps throughout high school, just being open with someone you fool around with isn't being who you are. Find a counselor, find a friend, but find someone that you can be out to, someone you're not having sex with.

Moving from sexuality, in college, a friend (who I haven't named here and won't name here) was someone who looked like she had it all. She would go out on dates but always ended it. Why? She had scars on her legs from a childhood accident and was convinced no guy would want her because of that. We had been in college for three years before she told anyone. She told C.I. after three years, when she'd broken up with a boyfriend and gotten drunk. (With alcohol or without, people always sought out C.I. for their problems.) I saw them engaged in a very intense conversation and thought (because I knew this pattern), "What's her big secret?" A few weeks later, she told Rebecca and me.

It was a few weeks later before we saw the scars and they weren't that bad. They'd gotten much smaller since childhood and I remember showing her my leg that I'd just shaved (and nicked badly) to back that up. Her fourth year was wonderful for her. But it takes sharing something to release it. You can't just hold it in. Maybe it's something exterior like a scar or maybe it's a part of you like your sexuality -- but whatever it is, you need to find a way to talk about it.

With good friends, you'll realize quickly that what you think everyone is focused on, they really aren't. Either it's no big deal to them or they're too focused on their own problems (which always seem more intense than what's going on outside them). That's a big part of college, discovering yourself and finding people you can share with.

The people you can share with, those are going to be the people you'll count on -- today and tomorrow. They may get on your nerves from time to time, but they will be there.

I get on Rebecca's anytime I call her before she's had morning cup of coffee -- her opening line is always, "Try to do somebody a godd*mn favor." That's an old joke. When we were in college, someone came over one night crying. She just wanted to sleep on the couch. She didn't want to talk. So we all go to sleep and an hour or so later, she wakes us all up. She wants to talk. But then she doesn't. This repeated twice more and the second time, C.I. said it to the woman in exasperation. So whenever we're irritated with one another, one of us will say that -- causing us to laugh and move on. (But Rebecca will tell you, she doesn't like to answer the phone before she's had her first cup of coffee and only does in case it's an emergency "even though I'm not a lawyer and not a doctor so I don't know what fire I'm supposed to be putting out!")

By the way, neither Rebecca nor myself was the person who played Liz Phair over and over.

"Surprise interview" (Mikey Likes It):
Mike: Okay, I asked Elaine to give me something and she said to ask about music. Specifically, Liz Phair and Aimee Mann.
C.I.: I know why she said that. I love Aimee Mann and have the CDs but I don't listen that often because her songs tend to stay in my head, I'm always humming them or singing them to myself. Today it was "That's Just What You Are." Liz Phair is the opposite. I pushed Exile in Guyville off on a friend. One of those, "You have to listen!" And when it doesn't happen, you end up holding the phone up to the speakers. The friend and I ended up making spur of the minute plans one July 4th. By this time she loved Phair's CD. I never travel on a holiday because of the traffic jams. But it was spur of the moment and "fun," she swore. We ended up stuck on an interstate for hours and the only thing she had was Phair. Over and over. Over and over. Hour after hour. I've never wanted to hear Liz Phair's Exile again after that. It's like a brand of chips that a group of us took to a rock festival years and years ago. I burned out on those chips, they were new at the time, and as we made our way back after something like thirty-six hours of music, I never wanted to see those chips again. I still don't. That's how I feel about Exile. I think Elaine paired them up because, in one case, you're dealing with something I will not listen to (Phair) and in the other you're dealing with something I love but don't listen to because it's already playing in my head.

That wasn't us. Rebecca and I were talking about the e-mails that we've both gotten on this. It wasn't us. (We do know who it was.)

"Iraq snapshot"("Democracy Now: Ann Wright, David Zeiger, Sir! No! Sir!, Michael Massing," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence -- the only consistents.
noted by Amy Goodman on Democray Now!,yesterday in Iraq: "at least 40 people were killed in violence around the country. In Baghdad, 11 people were killed and nine wounded in a bombing near a Shiite mosque".
Reuters notes that General Ahmed Dawod was shot by assailants. The AFP notes the death of Ahmed Daoud as well ("Daoud" is their spelling) and lists him as "Baghdad's deputy police commissioner." The Associated Press notes that drive-by shootings in Baghdad resulted in at least nine deaths: "a college student, a police officer, two street vendors, a university professor, two taxi drivers, the owner of a grocerys tore and a builder". Along with the shootings, bombings continued. Reuters reports on one that went off where people were seeking "day labouring jobs." The AFP notes two other bombs that wounded at least 10 (targets were a minibus and Palestine Street). AFP notes the discovery of eleven corpses in Baghdad.
Outside of Baghdad? The
Associated Press notes an oil blaze on a pipelin "south of Baghdad" as a result of a bomb. "Near Baquba," Reuters reports that a convoy was attacked resulting in the death of two bodyguards working for a provincial council member. In Basra, the AFP reports "gunmen" attacked a "British armored patrol."
AFP reports that Nuri al-Maliki, who couldn't keep his own deadline and barely kept the constitutionally mandated deadline, now says that by this weekend he expects to fill the posts of defense, interior and national security.
In the United States,
Michael Rowland reports on the case of Sergeant Santos Cardona -- prosecutors are arguing Cardona's actions at Abu Ghraib resulted from a desire "for entertainment." The Associated Press reports that seven people were arrested at the Port of Olympia protesting in Olympia, Washington where "military vehicles" and convoys were "to be loaded onto a ship." Five are charged with "pedestrian interference," one with trespassing and the seventh "was arrested a day earlier." Sam Green, activist, is quoted as saying, "Everybody's a little terrified right now. We were doing what we thought was legal." Finally. Remember Donald Rumsfeld's annoying smirk and dismissing the looting in Iraq -- joking it was one vase shown over and over in a media loop? Evonne Coutros takes a look at the looting and speaks with Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos who tells her that "almost 6,000 of the 14,000 known missing antiquites" have been recovered (Bogdanos has been working on the recovery since April 2003).