My own festival.

If I win the lottery, in additional to staying in fine hotels and visiting national parks (sometimes at the same time), I want to rent a theater for a week.

I want to have a film festival. Beyond just the movies, though, I want to have symposia:

  • “The undeserving poor”: analysis of poverty as portrayed in My Fair Lady and Oliver! with an emphasis on American views of poverty
  • Movies that were surprisingly passed under the Hayes Code; or, how did a movie about a girl being groomed to be a courtesan (even if she ended up marrying)* get greenlit?
  • Tale of two Henrys: Henry V — Olivier or Branagh?
  • The sociological ramifications of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Meg and Esmarelda: forgotten Disney princesses

I think it could be fun. How about you? What would you suggest?


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After my last post, and after some online discussion, it became crystal clear to me:

I hate Bernie Sanders.

I try not to hate political figures: it tends to be counterproductive. (Viewing them with disdain and disgust, however, is a different matter. See Guiliani, Rudy.) And God knows had he been the Democratic candidate in the general election (or if he is next year) I would have voted for him in a flash.

But there is something about his candidacy… His support for Clinton in the general was lukewarm at best, and pretty much amounted to “she’s better than Trump.” She won the primaries well before California, superdelegates notwithstanding, but he refused to recognize that. He spoke to his supporters about their behavior, but only after a great many complaints, and before that was defiantly in their camp.

And yes, I know that a lot of this comes from experiences with his supporters, many of whom irrationally charged that Clinton had stolen the primarieres. The level of misogyny was breathtaking. You can only see women called cunts or screamed at so many times before you come to the conclusion that a candidate’s supporters hate women. (Not to mention the oft repeated charge that if a woman supported Clinton it was only because she was a woman. I didn’t hear anyone stating that if a man supported Bernie it was because he was a man.) See: Nevada, delegates election.

One incident sticks out in my mind. A group of women in New York (if I remember correctly) had a social event to talk about Hillary because they felt that they could not do so in their social circles or at work without getting abuse thrown their way.  A male Bernie supporter — in a Bernie t-shirt no less — showed up. He was pleasant, but still, his unspoken message was “You have no safe places. We will not let you be rid of us.”

Please explain to me how that is not abusive.

The women at the event were nicer than I am — probably because the young man was pleasant and polite. I would have kicked him out — physically, probably.

I know Bernie supporters in swing states who voted for Jill Stein because Bernie didn’t get the nomination, and who felt that Clinton was horrible because of what Bernie had said in the primary. Those Bernie or bust people may have cost us the election. They may have given us Trump. (There are friends and relatives it took a year for me to be able to talk to.)

I don’t think he will be much of a factor this time… what’s he going to do, attack all of the other candidates? Many of whom hold similar views to his? (I’m sure his attack will be  along the lines to “I had this idea first, they’re just copying me,” which will work on pretty much everyone except Elizabeth Warren. Warren is more of an economic populist than he is.)

I hope that I can let everything go, and just ignore him, and concentrate on Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris. (I’m a bit more centrist than Warren, although if she wins the primary  I’ll be perfectly fine with it.)  Because the best way to deal with people you hate is to pretend they’re not there. I hope I can do that.

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We’ve been Berned before.

So Sanders is running again. How… special.

Look, I don’t care if he runs. I don’t particularly even care if he decides to call himself a Democrat.

What I do care about is that unless the Democratic National Committee shows more spine than a jellyfish they will shovel money and resources — and legitimacy is a resource –to a politician who refuses to be a Democrat except when he is trying to soak the party so he can run his campaign. A politician who is willing to trash his opponent and then only grudgingly support her in the general election.

A politician who overlooks the virulent misogyny of a certain portion of his following. Who shows himself to be a sexist, given the way he treated his opponent. Who was willing to support candidates who opposed reproductive rights. Who claimed that abortion and access to birth control and access to day care were “social issues” and not as important as “economic issues.” In other words, if it appears to affect mainly men, it is worth caring about; if it appears to affect mainly women, it will need to be relegated to whenever we get to it.

A candidate who hired — and did not fire — a campaign manager who arrogantly dismissed as unimportant the votes of millions of Southern voters, most of them African-American. A candidate who decried “identity politics,” discounting that to ignore them sets the default as white men, and brushing off the ways in which race and gender (and sexual orientation and gender identity) intersect with class to cause people to struggle.

A candidate who changed from Independent to Democrat only long enough grab a ton of money and other assets from the party (access to databases of Democratic donors is only the first that springs to mind) before changing back after the election. A hypocrite of the first water; self-involved and arrogant.

As I said, I don’t care if Bernie calls himself a Democrat, but I would bet very good money that if the party refused to give him resources he would quickly go back to be being Independent. He would then spend a lot of time trashing the party and some of their traditional allies, such as Planned Parenthood. Wait! That’s what he did last time, when he claimed he had turned into a Democrat. (It’s been years, and it still gobsmacks me that he sees PP as “part of the establishment.” He seems to view “part of the establishment” to equal “doesn’t support Bernie Sanders for President.”

Although the Russians expended efforts in support of his candidacy, I doubt Bernie was actually a Russian dupe. (Unlike Jill Stein, who had her picture taken with Vladimir Putin.) That doesn’t matter.  He did enough damage on his own.

The DNC cannot give this man money. That money needs to work to get one of the actual Democrats elected.


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Another week, another shooting. My heart breaks for Aurora, Illinois.

But before anyone mentions the failures of the mental health system, consider that, according to the Washington Post, the shooter had worked for the company for twenty years, and had been let go two weeks ago.  Maybe we also need to look at how workers are treated in this country, including how we help workers who have been terminated from the jobs.

Oh, and the guns, of course.

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Well, there goes that resolution.

It’s that time of the year: when New Year’s resolutions to eat more healthily and maybe lose some weight run smack into Girl Scout cookie season.

I had to go to two different Safeways today; I ended up with two boxes of Thin Mints. Admittedly, Thin Mints are wonderful, but I really do not need two boxes.

The first group of Scouts was older: they were smiling, pleasant, business-like. These girls are going to run their own companies when  they grow up. I remembered my own days selling cookies and bought a box of Thin Mints and gave them a donation in leiu of the box of Samoas I would have normally bought. I felt mostly virtuous, diminished by the fact that I really should have doubled my donation and not gotten the cookies.

The second group… let’s just say that they followed the tried and true practice of putting the youngest and absolutely cutest Scouts (usually Daisies and Brownies)  front and center. When I left the store, the youngest Scout was grinning and tunelessly singing “Girl Scout cookies! Girl Scout cookies! Girl Scout cookies! We take credit cards!

How can you resist a pitch like that? I bought another box. (They also had a sign suggesting that you could give GS cookies for Valentine’s Day, and had a “most popular cookies” bundle. You didn’t get a price break, but you were sure of getting your Samoas.) I paid cash; had I used a credit card I would have walked away not with a single box of Thin Mints, but with two boxes of Thin Mints, two of Samoas, and one each of S’mores and Tagalongs.

Maybe I should simply wait to make New Year’s resolutions in March.

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The Washington Post wins.

The Super Bowl was, not to put to fine a point on it, a snoozefest. That teams who were there by virtue of bad calls back down the line only exacerbated my annoyance when they then produced one of the most boring games I’ve seen in the past few years, let alone Super Bowls.

Even the commercials failed to make much of an impression on me. (Although it is nice to know that Anheiser-Busch is using so much wind power. Not that I drink the stuff myself, but maybe it will be a model for other compnies.)

Except for the Washington Posts’s.

The two things I liked about it most (aside from Tom Hanks narrating; the man could add gravitas to the phone book)…

  1. They showed journalists from other media outlets, such CNN and msnbc. This was an ad about the importance of journalism, not just the Washington Post.
  2. When they talked about “dangers to our country,” they did not show the twin towers on fire. Instead, they showed the second largest terrorist attack in U.S. history, the bombing of the federal office building in Oklahoma City.

There are only four “Do you remember where you were when…” moments in my life: 9/11, Columbia, Challenger, and Oklahoma City. I remember the pictures of the fireman carrying the body of the child out of the smoking day-care center. (If there is a hell, I hope Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are sitting on a bench right next to the 9/11 terrorists.) I recognize that this may resonate with me more than some others because by that time we were a NASA family, but it still seeped into the national consciousness to the point that it is referenced in the musical Rent.

When people talk of terrorism, they far too often think only of Islamist based terrorism. They forget how horrible the militias and white supremacists and neo-Nazis can be. How they pose just as much threat to the country as dangers from abroad.

Oklahoma City is exhibit number 1 of that fact.

And on Sunday, the Washington Post reminded us. And they reminded us of the price journalists pay for letting us all know what we need to know to fight the good fight.

Democracy does indeed die in darkness.

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Another date to remember.

As a friend of mine on Facebook put it, sixteen years ago today Columbia came home.

I had forgotten what day it was today. When he reminded me I felt the tears spring to my eyes. I remember.

I remember frantically running into the bedroom asking the Rocket Scientist, “Did you know people aboard Columbia?” “No,” he said. “Why?” (A friend of his had flown a recent mission and I couldn’t remember which one.) I could barely get the words out, “It broke apart.”

The day after the tragedy, I asked the Rocket Scientist, “Would you go up?” “Tomorrow,” he replied with no hesitation. I asked my Facebook (then Livejournal) friend the same question. He responded immediately and emphatically, “Absolutely.” Although they can’t now, there are men and women in NASA who feel the same way.

We have lost brave men and women. We have brave men and women whom, those other losses not withstanding, would take their place in reaching out into the dark. In an instant.

I’m not sure they will be given the chance. We have lost our way to the stars.

I have never thought of the deaths of Rick D. Husband, William McCool, Iian Ramon (the first Israeli astronaut), Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Blair Salton Clark (not to mention the Challenger crew or Gus Grissom, Ed white, and Roger Chaffee, the three astronauts killed in the Apollo 1 fire) to have been in vain. Not until recently, that is.

I once said that “exploration is part of who we are, for good or ill: we can no more as a people renounce our desires to boldly go where no man has gone before than we can renounce our passions for sunlight and moonlight.” I now think I was wrong.

As a nation, we have lost our desire to push beyond the boundaries of earth. Yes, we have people in the International Space Station, but we went to the moon fifty years ago, and it took us only ten years to get there. Why do we not have people on Mars? We even abandoned the shuttle program.

Yes, there have been private entities that talk a good game about manned missions to Mars or the Moon. (Hello, Space-X!) But our government seems unwilling to commit the resources necessary to actually get there. They make vague statements about Mars and the Moon, but nothing seems to happen beyond unmanned probes. (None of this is intended as a criticism of the scientists and engineers behind the probes and rovers: I know how hard you work, and for how long, in order to get those instruments out there.)

Among other things, we as a country have become risk averse. We are frightened about another Columbia, another Challenger. Space is an inhospitable place for humans, and that scares us.

As a country, we also just don’t want to spend the money. We spend money on a lot of other things though: if Trump gets his wall, that money equals a quarter of NASA’s budget. (Trump will probably not get his wall; I think perhaps though that he will get other things that cost nearly as much.)

Fear or stinginess, it really doesn’t matter. All of it together means that seventeen people will have died for what in the end was no reason.

We owe them better than that.

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