Ok maybe that’s a little extreme… However, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this passionately about something that is going on in the world. I truly believe Net Neutrality is a right that the public should have. So what is Net Neutrality? It is the belief that all content on the internet should be given the same credence (aka bandwidth) and people should be able to choose what content they want to see without any impediments (like limiting bandwidth for less popular sites).
There’s actually a really great video from Endgaget where they interview Tim Wu, who explains why Net Neutrality is so important and what has gone on recently. I recommend everyone watch it. So much so that I’m going to make it easy for you and embed it here.
As an American I take pride in the freedoms that we have but it worries me that these freedoms are being lost as corporations control more and more of our political process. Part of what makes the internet so great is that you can get anywhere and find even the smallest of blogs if you just search hard enough. Though the video above really describes this is in the mobile broadband space, what happens when we take one step in that direction. Why wouldn’t the telecom companies that provide business and home internet service not want to follow in mobile carriers footsteps and start limiting access from computers as well? I think this is the next big thing in technology that we really do need to fight for our rights. It may not seem like much now but it could change the whole internet tomorrow.
Or have American politics really gotten this crazy? Most recently I discovered these amazingly terrifying commercials sponsored by Carly Fiorina for her campaign to be the Republican nominee for California’s senate seat. I was looking her up because I was listening to NPR on my way to work, as usual, but I heard this fabulous snippet from a Republican debate where Tom Campbell was the only Republican that thinks that people on the no-fly list should not be able to obtain arms. Ok, so I’m a bleeding-hearted liberal but I can’t possibly be the only one that agrees with him. I mean I’m from Texas, I get the desire to exercise your right to the Second Amendment. However, logically, I would think that if you are on the no-fly list, perhaps we shouldn’t allow you to buy any form of weapon. Just going on a limb here, if you’re dangerous enough to not let on an aircraft why would we let you buy a gun? Seriously, why? I have to say I completely agree with Campbell when he said, “I can’t believe what I am hearing. Wait until they’re off the no-fly list then exercise your second amendment rights.”
Though this gets better when you see Fiorina’s commercials, which I found thanks to this little gem of an NPR blogger. First we have the demon sheep and then the Boxer blimp. So I don’t agree with everything Ken Rudin (aka the Political Junkie) says but he’s witty and interesting and definitely puts an interesting perspective on things. And I can’t help but being right in step with him on his last few comments about the Boxer blimp:
Last month I suggested that “demon sheep” might be “the worst political ad ever.” Now I’m not sure. I can’t tell if this “hot air” ad is simply terrible … or so incredibly terrible that it’s brilliant.
I mean I don’t quite understand exactly what Fiorina is going for with these ads but if it’s to get attention well she certainly has mine. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing just yet but I’m listening… Albeit horrified but I guess the idea is that any attention is better than none?
So that was the first of my “am I just in a dream-like state questioning” until yesterday when I was reading Gail Collins, who I absolutely adore and happened to be the commencement speaker at Mount Holyoke (my alma mater) this year. Also can I mention how bitter I am that we got Nina Totenberg and 2010 got Gail Collins? Seriously, you would think Nina Totenberg would have been awesome however all she did was talk to us about getting married and making great wives. Totally what you want to hear graduating from a college that prides itself in alumni that want to change the world, not define themselves by their husbands. And let’s not forget the rather prevalent gay population that she completely ignored. Oy. Anyway, enough of that rant (which clearly should’ve left behind with everything else from 2005), where I was actually going is: Gail Collins is amazing and I just stumbled on this piece about how a millionaire is running for the Republican nomination for the Connecticut senate seat. It gets even better because not only is she a millionaire but Linda McMahon is the CEO of the WWE. Seriously, did American politics and Hollywood just collide into a spectacle of the ridiculous or is it just me?
Oh and no joke, google image search Linda McMahon, this is in the first 5 photos that show up. Seriously, this is a woman we want in the US Senate?
So for the longest time I have been Dictator of Cynical Island. I gave up the title when I was happily (and even for quite a good bit of the time when I was unhappily) in love. However, if you know me well, you know that I am a hopeless romantic. I believe in love at my very core… probably more than I believe in anything else in this world.
Recently, I’ve become slightly obsessed with reading the Modern Love column in the New York Times. I think it’s some form of masochism because more than anything it makes me sad to read about so much of modern dating. I know I can’t possibly be the only person in her 20’s that is tired of the push and pull of modern dating and the various forms of commitment phobia that manifest themselves in our social interactions these days.
I have to say I’ve been lucky. I mean my ex and I are obviously not together. However, at least she had the decency to actually date me. In fact, all of my actual exes have been good like that. But I’ve found that it’s increasingly difficult to find anyone that actually wants to date anymore and I simply don’t understand this concept. Or even better ones who think that dating consists of “hanging out” but “not defining” the relationship. Personally I call that “fucking around”. But hey, what do I know? I mean I am “romantically challenged” after all. Perhaps I’m too demanding or it’s just intimidating to meet a girl who knows what she wants. But if I’m into you, don’t expect anything less than to be truly courted and I will not be ok with just “fucking around”. However, meeting someone that I’m actually into is excruciatingly difficult. So I’ll be honest, I don’t often meet anyone I’m interested in more than just sex with. And it’s not like I won’t tell you if I don’t want the same things as you do (as nicely as possible, I hate hurting people’s feelings but I hate leading them on more). And don’t try and convince me that it’s ok to just continually float from person to person “hooking up”. Been there, done that, have the postcard. It’s honestly, not that satisfying. Sure it does pass the time but if you’re looking for a real connection, hooking up is not the way to go. Perhaps taking a chance that love might exist and going on a real date is the way to go.
Maybe it’s just that the “hooking up” culture was in its nascent form when I hit high school and college so out of my friends group a significant number are either married or in a very stable couple or at the very least in some way want that someday. We believe in dating. We believe in love. And we believe in forever. Ok, maybe not *all* of my friends do but I’d say there’s a large majority of us that do.
Having said that, I’m still confused why so many young people are addicted to this culture of no-strings when that’s not what I think anyone is actually looking for. While I was reading Modern Love, I stumbled upon this series they did a while ago about how college students feel about love. There are two pieces that break my heart. One is written by a woman who is talking about how even though she tries to keep herself detached what she really wants is something more permanent. The other is written by a young man who talks about how insecurity keeps so many people from finding something more real but how in the back of your mind you still want that real connection.
So I think it’s about time I reclaim my dictatorship and as my friend B says, “all we need are a few good guinea pigs :)”
scratch any cynic and you’ll find a disappointed idealist
This is what I want to say whenever I speak to anyone in the billing departments of hospitals and even moreso when I speak to the people at the insurance companies. Because really, I do honestly believe that they don’t care *at all* about us. And it’s really frustrating to be on the phone trying to figure out why your bills are so high when you have a full-time job. Or in my case a full-time job and part-time school. Why do I have to spend 40+ hours trying to figure out why I was billed this way and why this is even a valid bill to begin with. Granted at some point you even start wondering if it is worth spending this much time trying to work out your bill or if you could be spending your time on other things. I mean if I calculated the amount of time I’ve spent trying to get this figured out and how much that would cost my company that bills me out by the hour, I’m pretty sure it’d be a tiny fraction of what my time could be used for. Yet, for me that sum of money is actually legitimate and it makes a difference whether I have it or not so here I am on the phone with like 8 million different health care professionals trying to figure out what to do.
Sometimes I really wonder who works there. I mean honestly how can you just sit there and tell someone that well I’m sorry you just have to make that choice, which is what I heard on the other end of the phone today for a procedure that I’ve been “strongly advised” to get. For something that could be a life or death illness that has yet to be diagnosed. But what incentive do I have to spend this money when I’ve been told that I’m not sick for the past 5 years. However, there is a chance that it could all go horribly wrong and so now I have to make a choice between what my doctors think I should do and what I can afford to do. I don’t even have much of a choice about what I *want* to do.
And don’t get me started on the bills that Congress are looking at. I mean what kind of a cruel joke is that. You are giving the insurance companies essentially complete power over the masses and requiring all of us “little people” to buy into plans that perhaps we can’t afford and in fact may even be detrimental for us. Honestly if you can’t come up with legislation that is somewhat decent don’t even bother. I’d rather have people stick to what is right than try to pass something that really only makes sense for the bottom line of hospitals and insurance companies. I’m sorry supporting insurance companies and hospitals is really not my concern. Nor do I think it’s something my tax dollars should be paying you to help!
At the moment, I certainly do. I realize this may seem a bit random but this morning I was just reading this article in Newsweek where Ted Olsen makes the Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. I cannot express just how well written his thoughts are on this topic. It’s also very heartening to have someone who identifies as straight and conservative (not even just straight and conservative, he served in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations) to make the case for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples is just amazing. So today, I believe in magic. I believe that some day there will truly be equal rights for all and that we can work to make this country better for everyone. The world is a miraculous place. And people will surprise you if you just give them a chance. I hope for a brighter future for America and all those who live here.
The largest US city to elect an openly gay mayor, yes that would in fact be Houston, Texas. It’s made headlines in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the BBC and countless other news organizations. I am exceptionally excited about this because not only is it the first openly gay mayor but also the second woman to be mayor. Our first female mayor, Kathy Whitmire, was absolutely fabulous. I just remember Houston being an exceptionally vibrant and interesting city to live in as a kid when she was in charge. Sadly, as all things go in politics she eventually left and the city has simply never been the same. So I am extremely hopeful that Annise Parker can do some great things for the city. Not to mention this is *huge* for the gay rights movement. Not only do we have another openly gay mayor but it’s in a relatively conservative town in a really conservative state where it is not that easy to get over the gay issue. I have always stood by the fact that Texans would come around eventually because we’re not as backwards as everyone seems to think we are and I believe this would finally be proof! I am so ecstatic that it’s my hometown that has made headlines about this. I am truly proud to be a Houstonian.
Kudos to you, Houston, for being the largest American city to elect an openly gay mayor 🙂
I remember the first time I heard Catie Curtis sing Honest World, I thought it was a great song but it didn’t really hit home for me. I mean it was great for my older wiser gay friends who had partners and were serious about life but I was 19 and not quite there yet (to put it mildly). As I’ve grown up (and I’ll put a disclaimer here: I’m not that grown up – I’m barely 26 and certainly not ready to discuss marriage) I’ve found that the song rings more and more truly with me. Perhaps it’s just because I live in the real world now and not the cocoon of a wonderful liberal arts women’s college set in the valley of progressive Western Massachusetts.
I have been meaning to write something like this since I heard about Iowa’s Supreme Court decision to allow same sex marriages. I think it is truly significant because it finally means that accepting gay marriage is not just something that those trendy liberal east/west coast progressives do. Surely Iowa is different and has been for quite some time. In fact I was reading this fab editorial in the Times about how they had some landmark cases about slavery and segregation as well. But it really makes me proud that somewhere in the mid-west where it’s not “cool” to be progressive, it’s not “cool” to have gay friends, it’s not “cool” to be a hippie but apparently it is “cool” to believe in equality. So thank you Iowa for that.
Also I couldn’t be more pleased about Vermont actually voting in legislation to allow gay marriages. Sometimes, I do miss the progressiveness of the New England countryside, even if it does mean that I’d have to give up living in a real city. Alas, I can only hope that Illinois and Chicago won’t be too far behind all these people.
Also I’d like to know what’s up with California and New York? I mean really aren’t they supposed to be our beacons of liberalism? Why are they so behind the 8 ball, I mean MA, CT, IA and VT are already light years ahead of them. Shame on you California, you call yourself the bastion of liberals and yet you actually managed to pass Prop 8. And New York hasn’t even tried, that’s almost equally if not more upsetting. Ok I’ll stop giving those two a hard time now. It’s a tough battle anywhere, I do realize that. But it would be nice if two of the largest democratic states could jump on the bandwagon. It’s a good one to be on in my opinion.
Now, I’d be even happier if one of the southern states *cough*Texas*cough* would jump on the bandwagon because I think that would really be putting equality for all to the test. (Yes, I am still holding out for Texas to surprise us all and support gay marriage or at least do something similar to what Iowa has, I still have faith that my home state can be and is progressive). I have hope and faith that it will happen eventually all over the US. But I believe that will take some more time. And one of my friends actually found this cool little blog that maps out the time-line for knocking down bans on same sex marriages. Welcome to progress my friends.
In the immortal words of Catie Curtis: Some day, I trust
Love will make an honest world for us
You know people talk about the law as if it were a black and white issue when in reality there are so many varying shades of gray that it is sometimes impossible to fathom all the possible outcomes of any one case. Just last week I was reading an article about the pressure that our lovely new fearless leader is facing because he doesn’t know who to support on an issue of partner benefits for federal employees. Well, the state of California recognizes these couples as legally married same-sex couples who should be able to have benefits for their partners but because of DOMA that isn’t true federally. Now I’m not a lawyer and I don’t necessarily understand all of the legal jargon that goes with this but I will say that I think it is problematic when states are allowed a certain type of behaviour while the federal government will go and contradict them. This is not to say that I agree with the federal government (in this case… and come to think of it most cases, I tend to favor what they are doing in California) but it still causes problems within the legal system of this country. Even if the law is not black and white it is still supposed to provide some sort of guideline to allow for equal rights for our citizens. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is doing such a great job of that right now.
I sincerely hope that President Obama will take this seriously enough to understand that he did campaign on some very serious promises for change and I understand that the financial crisis may be taking precedent right now that does not mean that this is something that can be avoided or left unaddressed. Personally I am thrilled that there are some judges who are willing to say what Judge Reinhardt did. This one bit of the article really struck me as something I wish more people would consider:
Judge Reinhardt confronted the question differently, and concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act, as applied to Mr. Levenson’s request, was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment guarantee of “due process of law.”
“A bare desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot provide a rational basis for governmental discrimination,” Judge Reinhardt wrote.
In adopting the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress said the government had a legitimate interest in “defending and nurturing the institution of traditional heterosexual marriage.”
But Judge Reinhardt said the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses would not encourage gay men and lesbians to marry members of the opposite sex or discourage same-sex marriages.
“So the denial cannot be said to nurture or defend the institution of heterosexual marriage,” the judge wrote.
I have a tendency to flip through my Sunday T Magazine a bit quickly because I should really be doing homework and not reading the paper for fun – especially not the style magazine of all things but I very rarely can resist. It is my favourite part of the Sunday paper, I just adore looking at all the beautiful clothes and new styles but I often find that I don’t see many articles that truly catch my attention (I’m more a science section fan in that regard).
So imagine my surprise when I found the article “Butch Fatale” and my delight when I saw the fabulous outline of Rachel Maddow. As a member of the queer community it is always a pleasant surprise to see any such thing put in to the news. Especially into T Magazine, I mean that’s a pretty great place to be. It’s interesting because the article speaks of how lesbians very often overlooked in the gay community and for that matter pretty much everywhere else. I mean there are always more than enough lesbian stereotypes to go around the table but if anyone should ask what would image would you conjure of a “hot” lesbian, I don’t think anyone could answer it. There are just too many differing views. And honestly with lipstick lesbians running about how do you even know if they’re gay? But Daphne Merkin makes a great assessment when she said that the lesbians finally have a real icon to turn to in Rachel Maddow. Maddow has captured the hearts of gays & straights, men & women… in fact, I’d say she’s bewitched pretty much anyone who leans a touch left. I’d say that’s score one for the girls that so very often get overlooked. I mean who wouldn’t want to be funny, smart, well-respected and a bit of a wallflower if you could be like Rachel Maddow? I certainly would. In the words of Daphne Merkin, I am offically a fan that “Lesbian Glamour Steps Out of the Closet” in the form of Rachel Maddow.
My next fabulous find of the morning was a piece on the absolutely classic, timeless packaging of Chanel No. 5. Perhaps it is simply because No. 5 happens to be one of my all time favourite fragrances or perhaps it is because there are certain packages that I just adore (Chanel No. 5 being one of them) that I love taking a look at how it came about. I mean I think Gabrielle Chanel was one of the most forward thinking women of her time to be able to come up with such timeless classics. I mean to understand how to imprint something into one’s memory in that way takes talent that very few people have. I always tend to relate these things to the only other thing that I think has such a timeless quality and that is the little blue box of Tiffany & Co. I know being part of the queer community that this may sound a bit like a pipe dream but I have always said whoever gets me a little blue box or a little red box (Cartier, of course) will have my hand. While I may not be entirely serious about it since I do believe in spending the rest of your life with the person you love, not just anyone that gets you the ring of your dreams but it would definitely make me think twice before refusing should it not come from the person I was hoping. Granted this is all theoretical since I am nowhere near decisions like that but I think the fact that so many of my very near and dear college friends are getting married that it does make it stand out a bit more. Not to mention in the midst of the recession things like engagement rings and Chanel just cheer up the spirits a bit. At least they do for me.
Now I am no economist, in fact, I will readily admit that there is a wealth of information about the banking system that I know nothing about. But I do try to be informed and to keep up with the news and current events. And considering the state of the economy I have been paying a bit more attention to accounting and how the banking system actually works.
So here are a few things that while everyone has been watching these bailouts go out that should be known. Thanks to John C. Coates (a professor at Harvard Law School) and David S. Scharfstein (a professor of finance at Harvard Business School) who wrote a beautiful op-ed in the New York Times, I now know that the bailouts did not actually go directly to the banks that are having trouble lending but rather to bank holding companies. In their piece they ask why the government would give this money to a bank holding company as opposed to a bank, I mean we aren’t bailing out the automotive companies by giving the money to the equity firms that own those companies so why would we do this with the banks? I realize that we, the people (at large), may not be informed of this. But I would hope that those members of the House Financial Service Committee would be aware of this and would have created legislation to be appropriate to the situation instead of going this awkward (not to mention inefficient) way about it.
The next point was raised by yet another fabulously written op-ed by James Deitrick and Michael Granof (professors of accounting at the University of Texas at Austin). The point that they brought up is how the banks are having such trouble accounting for the money being lent to them by the government. But this should not be so difficult. Every non-profit is required to have their accounting systems in order such that they can be held accountable for the funds they receive from various parties. Now, if a non-profit organization can keep their books accordingly, one would imagine that this should not be such a difficult task for a bank. I mean banks are financial institutions, which leads you to believe that they should have a sufficient understanding of accounting to be able to manage the money that they have. I mean isn’t that the point of a bank. If one were to decide to be a banker, it shouldn’t be so difficult to imagine that said banker could be held accountable for their actions. And that they would be capable of having it done correctly. I mean if bankers cannot do this then why are they managing banks, perhaps we should be turning to the accounting teams at non-profits for some guidance. But in all seriousness, it should not be cause for this much of a stir, it should be standard business practice or at least one that they are familiar with.
Lastly, I’d like our government to remember that these are not free handouts to spoiled children who misbehaved. It may be critical to our economy to aid the banks but it is also critical to our economy to not encourage poor practices. However, it is critical that we encourage those wayward souls to start implementing best practices, such as responsible accounting so that things like this will have less of a chance of occurring. Let us remember that it was no accident that we ended up in this position. And if our lawmakers, who are bailing these irresponsible people out of a self-made crisis, do not set the record straight about what is acceptable and what is not, I have little faith that such an event will not occur again in the future.