Saturday, May 9, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

What a flippin' Saturday!

I'm not going to have anything to say about Mother's Day tomorrow, but Jill Kuraitis has a piece at New West for those of you who need reminding of what you're supposed to do on Mother's Day. Go read.

Despite it being quite the day, here's a piece of great news: Randy Stapilus has written and published a second edition of Paradox Politics: People and Power in Idaho. Yes! This is a go-to reference for me and I've treasured the first edition. My copy of the updated version is ordered and on its way. Looks like the original source is the best place to get a copy.

Maybe I just don't get it, but what part of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is giving the federal government jurisdiction over all hate crimes? My congressman, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) says that is precisely why he voted no on the hate crimes bill. He's not even opposed to the legislation because it offers protection to gays like so many of his fellow conservatives mount opposition because of. He just wants the feds out of Idaho or at least that's what he's saying to the public. Privately I wouldn't be surprised if his commentary was similar to that of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Iowa, Idaho. Flip a coin.

Orson Scott Card's Uncle Orson Reviews Everything used to be one of my favorite and most-read websites. I used to check back regularly to see if there was a new piece posted and I'd check and check again until he'd put up his usually weekly column. I found his reviews intriguing and helpful--I once bought some avocado chips that he said were phenomenal and they were. However, I find Card increasingly irritating and I'm not visiting his website as often anymore. Serephin pointed out that Card joined up with the National Organization for Marriage awhile back and it seems to be just one of many things about Card's politics that I find unbearable. I don't want to be reading what I think is a review of The Dark Knight only to be smacked in the face with all the old traditional right-wing definitions of what marriage is and should be. And it gets worse, Orson Scott Card isn't just writing on his site, he's a regular in the Deseret News column pool which sometimes gets picked up on my local news feed, and apparently he's writing for the Mormon Times, some spin-off of the Deseret News specifically for Mormons (isn't the Deseret News specifically for Mormons?), where he's constantly saying things that are beyond off-the-wall. He still believes that homosexuality is a crime and should be punished as such. Not only does he believe that, he says it out loud and people actually listen to him. The National Organization for Marriage has been contending for some time now that it is not homophobic, bigoted, etc., but they can't really believe that teaming up with Card won't paint them as such, can they? When you're on the utmost edge of falling into complete and irreversible bigotry, Orson Scott Card isn't going to help your cause. Card has been removed from my blog roll and my favorites menu bar in Mozilla.

What I find most irritating about the increasing radicalism of Orson Scott Card isn't that his beliefs are completely out there and he has become the poster child of the radical fundamentalist Christan faction of the Republican Party; what irritates me the most is that I used to like the guy. He has an appreciation for literature, writes clever reviews and reacts honestly to the media-oriented products he reviews because he isn't reviewing for any particular publication and doesn't have to keep his opinion close to his vest. Instead of the Orson Scott Card that I used to like, today I get an Orson Scott Card who, on the eve of Mother's Day coincidentally, objects to a beautiful and timeless introductory statement by Tolstoy because unhappy families just don't exist in his perfectly conservative Mormon world. He calls Tolstoy an idiot. Seriously.

Since summer is technically upon us, not necessarily actual summer, but summer break for college students, I thought I'd start putting together my summer reading list. There are a few books I mentioned that I have been putting off reading until I completed my academic obligations, but there are surely also books out there that I don't even have copies of yet and absolutely should read. People talk a lot about e-books and Kindle these days and I must admit as cool as the Kindle looks, I still prefer a good old fashioned book. I like the way a new book smells. I like the way a torn corner or bent edge reminds me of when I read a book and what the book meant to me. I have lots of books and every time I go through them thinking I might be able to part with a few, I find myself reflecting on memories associated with those books. Some people are this way about photographs, I'm this way about books. One book that I really look forward to reading when it is released this summer is John Updike's posthumous My Father's Tears and Other Stories. Updike's latest might even be the spark I need to finally complete a short story project I've been working on for years. No, I'm not writing a short story, I'm writing about short stories. And, I got a copy of the great Dave Neiwart's book, The Eliminationists: How Talk Talk Radicalized the American Right, for my birthday and I have every intention of reading that one soon.

Is it me or are the Palins sending out mixed signals? Just this week, Bristol Palin, the oldest daughter of Governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-Alaska), signed on to be a national spokesperson for the Candie's Foundation and appeared on the Today show to promote the Eighth Annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. While Bristol Palin is talking about how hard being a mom is one minute, the next she is talking about what a blessing her son is. Meanwhile, Today has Bristol Palin on camera holding her adorable baby and then quoting Todd Palin, Bristol's father, as saying that what Bristol Palin did, having sex and getting pregnant, was a horrible mistake. A blessing and a mistake? Uh-huh. And as if it wasn't already a muddled mess, this is on top of a statement Sarah Palin made some time back essentially confessing to a group against choice that she considered, albeit for a moment, aborting the pregnancy that brought a Down Syndrome son into the world. This is where I depart from the traditional position on abortion. I think it is absolutely awful when I hear of pregnant women who find out by the tests that exist now that can determine genetic flaws that their child will be born with Down Syndrome and abort immediately. Certainly my objection to this is directly related to my love for the developmentally disabled community. Regardless of my feelings about Down Syndrome, Governor Palin said she thought about abortion, but realized as a conservative woman she had to "walk the walk" and practice the anti-abortion position she has been preaching and supporting. With the contradictory statements that come from the Palin bunch, I can't help but wonder if they'd benefit from a publicist of some sort. You know, somebody who could sit them all down with a questionnaire and get their stories straight before any one of them goes on camera. Just a thought. And apparently I'm not the only one who sees the problem with all these mixed signals--the Washington Post "On Faith" page takes on the issue as well.

An article at the Washington Post caught my eye last week and I meant to say something about it prior to now, but haven't remembered or had time. "Getting their (wireless) lines crossed" is a great read for anyone out there who is without either a myspace, Twitter or Facebook account. Do you text? I didn't until recently and I find that I only text two people with any amount of regularity. I've never found texting to be all that simple. I'm a freak when it comes to spelling and texting does not allow for such neurosis. The funny thing is, I don't have much use for a phone at all, I much prefer email regardless of the personal element it subtracts. I don't have a myspace page, my sixteen year old brother does and he finds it rather cool because he can write messages on the pages of celebrities and keep track of his friends while playing cool music on his page and designing it however he likes. I suppose his attraction to myspace over say having a blog is that he doesn't want to write. He wants to be able to say just a little bit more than he would in a text, but not as much as he'd say in an email. Man, it's a complicated world out there! My mom recently discovered Facebook and let me tell you how sick I am of hearing about who is on Facebook! I don't care what so-and-so from that class you took forever ago is doing and how cute the pictures of their kids are on their "wall." And puhlease, stop giving out my phone number to boys I went to elementary school with! I'll never have a Facebook account and I say that knowing that I set up a fake account once just to take a personality test a friend was raving about and I never will go back to Facebook again. Same with myspace. I like music, but I don't like pages that automatically break into song when I load the page. What if at that very moment I was listening to a podcast and missed the most important line of the entire interview with John Updike just because some idiot thinks they need to have Flowrida jammin' out on their myspace page. I'll probably never have a Twitter account either. I'm not into that one-line "I just tied my shoes" sort of announcement. Maybe if I could tie my shoes I'd see the need... As for now, I'm quite content with a blog and an email account that I'm nearly always attached to. I'll leave the texting and tweeting to everyone else. In fact, I'm sure the Guv could take over my personal share of tweeting responsibility. He has, after all, wasted a great deal of time on Twitter lately.

I downloaded the latest release from Yusuf Islam, otherwise known as Cat Stevens, on Tuesday and it is proving to be one of the best releases in 2009 thus far. It's rather interesting that Yusuf is the artist's name as it appears on the album cover (pictured on the right) and throughout the cd insert. On the cover there's an old VW with the universal peace symbol on it and yet he, once on the no-fly list for his ties to Islam (the religion, not his chosen name), has had to
change the way in which he markets himself because on the American market he'd take a hit simply because his name is similar to that which is often associated with terrorist activity. It's a sad world when a peace-lover such as Mr. Stevens has to change his approach to music because people are so closed minded. If you pick up the album, you'll see his sound is much more reminiscent of his early days, the early days of "Peace Train" and "Oh, Very Young." This is definitely an album I'd recommend to anyone and everyone. A little something for every audience.

I was singing the praises of Netflix the other day and I failed to mention that though I didn't have access to the "watch instantly" while I was recovering from back surgery, the dvds at home feature was absolutely a godsend. I watched a good three seasons of The X-Files during my recovery that I owned, but I was able to watch a great deal of television on dvd, shows like Saving Grace and Californication, as well as dozens of movies. And to make a great, afforable service even better, they have a blog. A rather informative blog, at that. Check it out.

That's it for this marathon smorgasbord. Happy Saturday all.


Jessica said...

You know what is really depressing? Orson Scott Card is, or was, a Democrat. If he is still a Democrat, he gives a bad name to the many amazing Mormon Democrats we all know.

Also, did you hear that Marie Osmond supports gay marriage? I am pretty sure she voted for Mitt Romney too!

Ben said...

You do realize that by professing your hate for both facebook and twitter and vowing never to do either - it is now fate that at some point in the future you will be using both on a regular basis.

That's why I never speak in absolutes.

Anonymous said...

I, too, once adored Orson Scott Card, as he seemed so utterly reasonable, by comparison to my other brother Mormons. Needless to say, I believe he's gone totally black helicopter on us.

Nice smorgasbord, there!


Sage Word said...

I wouldn't piss on Orson if he were on fire.

I don't say this lightly; an interesting bar question (i.e., one to stimulate conversation) is on our views of art/talent vs. infamy. Pick artists, writers, actors, etc with varying levels of infamy and ask if it changes one's view of their 'art'.

Hitler: nope, not even if he were as talented as Picasso -- not going to buy his paintings. I'd be forever staring at 'em trying to see the tortured demon in a half-assed watercolor of a pastoral landscape. Uh-uh, that way lies crazy.

Rock Star with pedophile tendencies: uh, it strangely enough *depends* on if the songs take on a rather unpleasant meaning. I'd have a hard time with Chevalier's 'Thank heaven...' or Sammy Davis Junior's 'Candyman', for example. Yet Pete Townshend's tendencies don't seem to enter into my consciousness when I listen to The Who.

What about an author that's just an arrogant tier 1 asshat: My archtype is Harlan Ellison: I stopped praising his works when he took a rather extreme view on copyright: I won't say nice things about him, won't read his stuff... and I'm a bit sad over the loss. Go figure.

Author whose work turns upside down when you read his essays: Ta-da! Orson Scott Card. And things only worsen when one reads various critiques of Card's Ender Trilogy as a rationalization for overweening warmongering or even an apologia for Hitler. These two, together with the rants in his essays, and I'm done with his sorry ass.

Years after being turned off of Card and deciding he was a bigoted toolbag, someone forwarded a long-ago essay of his that was an antigay screed. This seems to be referencing it. He's so vile, so bigoted, so militant and utterly incorrigible that I can't stand him now. And that's why I made my first remark.