Friday, September 21, 2007
. . . there will be no dancing in the streets - naked or otherwise - this year. The U.S. Senate failed to rouse enough votes to even put D.C. voting rights on its agenda. Does taxation without representation mean nothing anymore?! The Minute Men must be spinning in their graves! I wonder how other Americans would be feel about paying their federal taxes and having absolutely no say in how they are spent. I would hope that the complacency of many Americans would give way to indignity and loud protests. I just feel like crying. . .
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Despite the seeming pleasure some take in bashing the federal government as a whole, there are thousands of federal employees who labor on in spite of who might be occupying the White House. I live in Washington, D.C. because I love the city. I've never been a federal employee, having spent my working life serving non-profit organizations. Non-profits, like the federal government undergo leadership changes on a fairly regular basis. An unfortunate fact in both arenas is that new leaders often feel compelled to reinvent the wheel -- wasteful and frustrating for long-time employees. Maybe its a power thing, or they just don't get it. Either way, momentum on projects is often lost or worthwhile programs are abandoned all together. STILL, some manage to carry-on and accomplish great things. In 2002, the Partnership for Public Service established the Service to America Medals program to reward the most exemplary federal employees. Following is a sampling of this year's winners: John S. Morgan of the Justice Department created a program that enables local law enforcement to glean and use DNA evidence to close cold cases. Frazer Lockhart of the Energy Department, stationed in Colorado, completed the first successful cleanup of a former nuclear weapons facility $30 billion under budget and 60 years ahead of schedule. Nicole Faison of the Department of Housing and Urban Development created an income-verification program that ended fraudulent payments in HUD's rental assistance program by a cool $2 billion dollars. David Vessely of the Department of Veterans Affairs discovered hormones made by the heart that can benefit treatments for congestive heart failure, cancer, and kidney failure. As in any bureaucracy, there are slackers who don't carry their weight and others who sacrifice extra time and energy because they believe in the mission of their agency. Too often the chiefs take all the credit when it was the Indians who did the work. Three cheers for the Indians!!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
A reasonably good looking man crossed the street in front of my stopped car yesterday and he had the most amazing comb-over I've ever seen. My first thought was WHY?! Then I wondered how he could believe no one would notice it. It started about 2" above the nape of his neck, went straight up the back of his head and ended in a remarkable swirl on top of his head. It made the front of his hair look as if it was parted on one side and combed toward the other, but there was no part. I was embarrassed for him! My spouse has a lovely balding head with a few, wispy hairs still hanging on at the top. We joke about it, and he knows I would never trade his sweet-smelling, soft-skinned pate for a full head of hair. Too bad other men aren't comfortable enough to BE themselves. There are some very sexy bald/balding men out there and part of their appeal is that they don't let a loss of hair bother them.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Several months ago, I proclaimed that I would do the above if D.C. won a vote in Congress. Our next chance is this Tuesday when the Senate finally considers a bill granting D.C. and Utah each one new member in the House. Utah already has a few as well as it's allotted two senators while D.C. has none. Even if the Senate gets it together enough to vote for D.C. residents to have the same rights as every other American, Bush has promised to veto the legislation. I still cannot understand his belief (also held by some senators) that granting D.C. voting representation is unconstitutional. Teddy Roosevelt:
To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Recent reports of racially targeted harassment -- specifically, a noose found hanging from a tree outside the Black Student Union headquarters-- triggered deja vu for me. During the Spring semester of 1970, I moved back into a College Park women's dorm I'd lived in the previous semester. It was in a quad of two men's dorms with a dining hall in the center. As soon as I got on the floor several dorm-mates rushed up to tell me that my roommate was Black. Seemed they were worried about that. Having been born and raised in the Midwest and my closest friend in middle, high school and now is Black, I was perhaps a bit naive about race relations. Beverly was already in our room, unpacking, so I introduced myself and started unpacking, too. I was a few years older but that didn't seem to bother either one of us. The College Park campus is huge and it had students of every description. Streakers did their thing in the quad and goofy stuff went on, but nothing nasty -- until someone fired a shot at the president of the Black Student Union. Instantly racial lines were drawn. A dorm meeting was called by the BSU president who was justifiably enraged about the attempt on his life. The tension between Beverly and me was palpable for a while, and she spent more time with Black dorm-mates. I felt ashamed because someone of my race was suspected of the crime. I don't think she ever thought of me as a racist, but pressure from her Black peers strained our relationship. It is such a disgrace that, after 37 years, there are still people who want to divide Americans along racial lines. Of course there are also people who want to divide us on ethnic and religious lines, but that's a whole other despicably, tragic conundrum. Next year it will be 40 years since Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within months of each other. That's half a lifetime! Have we learned nothing from these horrendous events? Discrimination of any sort is stupid, painful, destructive and useless because we harm our own civilization. The United States once represented freedom, tolerance and opportunity. Our reputation as a people is on trial here and abroad. I hope we can restore it before it is irreparably damaged. PEACE. . .
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
. . . rain at night . . . spouse arriving home safely each evening . . . a spontaneous hug from my teenaged nephew . . . finding a special piece of drift wood . . . bright sunshine on a cold day . . . watching a praying mantis sway with the breeze . . . being serenaded by a mocking bird . . . ridding my PC of a new batch of viruses . . . the mathematical intricacy of a Bach concerto . . . watching tourists watching a great blue heron in the Reflecting Pool . . . the little Indian market where I buy chikki -- sesame seed brittle
Thursday, September 6, 2007
A team of California-based scientists studying melting icebergs in Antarctica reported finding blooms of microscopic plants in a radius of up to 2 miles around icebergs. They are released when ice melts in the warmer Weddell Sea. In turn, they feed the phytoplankton, attracting tiny krill upon which whales and fish feed. The phytoplankton also consume excess carbon dioxide. I'm not suggesting that humans abandon efforts to decrease greenhouse gases that are causing the ice caps to melt. Rather, I view this as a sign that perhaps this is one of many cycles the Earth has had and will continue to go through. Human neglect may have sped-up the process, but I believe that The Earth has a way of protecting itself against the abuses of its inhabitants.