A dry tickle.


A screen capture of my current desktop widgets. Note the weather radar and the current temperature, bottom left. That cotton ball over western Michigan has been there for days (lake-effect snow, for you non-Midwesterners.) Don’t you wish you lived here?

And so it begins: After a solid week of nursing Kate’s flu, including a full-blown relapse beginning Friday evening that was pretty much a rerun of the first three days, I woke up today to:

1) No school. Temps at minus-2 now, with wind chills fierce enough to frighten even Michigan school superintendents.

2) A tiny, unscratchable tickle in the back of my own throat. It’s too early to say what it is, but it’s safe to say it’s nothing good.

Will I allow this to keep me down? Maybe. We’ll see.

Well, by kickoff time I had allowed my usual who-gives-a-fig attitude toward the Super Bowl to veer into full-blown Colts-hatin’ — and I only watched 45 minutes of the pre-game, but that was enough to tire of the “Peyton Manning: god-king or world-conquering titan?” hagiography. (Football coverage: Where if too much is too much, even more is even better.) Of course it was not to be, but the first quarter was enough to take a little wind out of the sails, so to speak. By then I had to get dinner on the table and was restored to agnosticism. Great halftime show. Love that Prince. Then I went to work, and the rest of the game passed unseen by me. Vince IM’d to say he thought the suicidal robot was in bad taste, considering the current state of the auto industry. Otherwise, that was the extent of my personal post-game.

There’s was this, though: During the pre-game CBS showed a split-screen image of Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, to underline that one of them would be the first African-American head coach to win a Super Bowl championship. And then the announcer used a word. I always think of it as the flip side of “articulate,” which Joe Biden got caught applying to Barack Obama last week. The word?

“Dignified.” Really. “One of these two dignified men…” Good lord. Doesn’t anyone have an ear for language anymore?

For the record, I wrote the “articulate”-as-insult column at least a decade ago; apparently Joe Biden didn’t read it. But “dignified” is right up there, too. Do white head coaches get called dignified? No. They’re sober, serious, composed, leaders. Dignified is what we call black people who have already proven they’re articulate. Yuck.

On to the bloggage:

I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC… with British accents.

Dan Savage’s whopping fine screed about Mary Cheney. Profanity alert, probably needless profanity, but it needed to be said. I think we pay attention to the culture war because it’s a cartoony, easily understood alternative to the real one. Which grows ever more unbearable.

Posted at 9:52 am in Current events, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

26 responses to “A dry tickle.”

  1. Connie said on February 5, 2007 at 10:28 am

    -8 here right now. All schools cancelled due to wind chill temps of -15 or worse. My friends in my hometown, under that puffy white cloud along the lake you point out on your map, spend the weekend hunkered down at home in blizzard conditions. When even the church services are cancelled in Holland you know it is serious.

    Yeah, Colts.

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  2. Dorothy said on February 5, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Just a few weeks ago temperatures were much higher than normal in much of the nation, and people thought we were having an easy winter.

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  3. Randy said on February 5, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Here in Winnipeg, the buses are cancelled as well.

    It’s -40 celsius, and I think that’s pretty much the same in fahrenheit (sp).

    This has been our weather for weeks now, prompting some of the elders to say “global warming? what global warming?”.

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  4. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Um. Well. I gotta ask, Nancy, what’s so “fine” about Dan’s screed? Don’t confuse Cheney’s hard-line overseas policy with his (or Lynne’s) stances on domestic issues.

    What gets missed in this kind of rant is that there is no simple “for gays/hate gays” dichotomy here. The Cheneys all, apparently including Mary — and Dan Savage and anyone else can rip into her for this from their perspective, granted — do not agree that marriage should be redefined. The fact that you can find a Fred Phelps or two who think that because they hate homosexuals does not mean that you can say, as Savage does, that anyone who does not agree that marriage should get a major makeover does so because they hate gays. Many conservatives (hi, y’all!), even as far right as the Cheney family, disagree and have said so with attempts to deny homosexuals from adoption processes.

    The next objection i imagine is that not enough of us on the right have condemmed clearly enough that kind of divisive hate speech from our own right flank (making homosexuality a status offense again, barring gays and lesbians from adoption or any parenting). I don’t know the full breakdown of what Dobson or Limabaugh or Falwell have said or how others have criticized them. But i can say in the course of everyday politics and community life, those are talking haids who are quote machines with little influence on the state and county level.

    Most R’s, even us religious wingnuts, are civically libertarian long before we’re theological on any policy points. Keep gov’mint out of my bedroom, Heather & Mary’s, and out of both our nurseries, too.

    And i bother to write this and tick off a bunch of people i’d rather not rile on a day stuck inside with our children because i continue to believe — and find in practice — that there’s a very broad middle ground in this country that deserves more time and attention. The kind of attack Savage makes, assuming that if you’re a Republican you hate gays and think they’re subhuman, and then can be condemmed for thinking what you believe they think, closes off discussion and progress in both directions.

    Most conservatives i know think, with varying degrees of ruefulness or indifference, that civil unions are going to be inevitable, and could be a productive step. Their main concern, and the intra-party debate, is over which tack does least harm and has the most potential to help build families in the majority of marriages. I personally think that the most likely outcome in my lifetime is gov’t civil unions across the board, with churches doing “marriage” each according to whatever spin (Catholic, Mormon, evangelical, etc.) they put on the institution. That’s what Japan has . . . and a majority of civilly joined couples (hetero; i don’t know the status of same-gendered unions in Japan – time to wiki after this) go from the civil office to a . . . Christian church, or for a simulation of our white dress, center aisle extravaganza.

    Then they go to a Shinto shrine that evening to clap and pray, just in case.

    Anyhow, i’ll bet there’s many of us at home all day to keep this discussion going . . .

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  5. nancy said on February 5, 2007 at 11:03 am

    If I ruled the world, I would forbid that phrase — Global warming? What global warming? — upon pain of death.

    Every winter contains at least one subzero cold snap. When I was growing up, it was common to see a week of minus-9, minus-10, even in central Ohio. (And let’s have a moment of silence for the morning I walked to class in minus-26 temps in Athens, a place where spring comes in February most years.) It’s severe, but normal for this time of year.

    People around here talk about skating to Canada in January, something that hasn’t been possible in quite a few years.

    As for Savage on Cheney, he’s only pointing out that, having spent much of her adult life helping to elect people who make other gay people’s children “a political point,” she has no right at all to claim that her child is somehow off limits. I respect differences of opinion on gay marriage, but not rank hypocrisy among individuals.

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  6. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 11:23 am

    But that’s what i’m missing here — and i may be wrong! — other than not issuing a fatwa for Robertson’s scrawny leg-lifting behind, where has Dick Cheney, let alone Mary, said gays can’t be parents or adopt? Because Dobson said so (i’ve never handed out a scrap of his material in any church i’ve served, and i’m thought fairly conservative in my circles) does not mean i agree with him. Does his voting bloc tend to lean my way? Yeah, but i was with Bill Clinton on welfare reform and John McCain on campaign finance (and John Anderson, for that matter; i guess consistency isn’t my strong suit).

    I just don’t think you can bill the Cheneys for hypocrisy, unless they’ve been seen ballroom dancing with Dobson. Robertson doesn’t like Cheney (i’m sure he’s proud of it), and Dobson, i am told, is quite unfriendly to the so-called Cheney-Ford-Bush41 wing of the Republican party whenever he gets the chance.

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  7. nancy said on February 5, 2007 at 11:31 am

    I’d call it a sin of omission, then. Cheney has never said gays shouldn’t be parents, true. But he’s also stood silent while the most vile elements of the far-right wing called his own daughter, among millions of others, perverts, too. As long as they were pulling the lever for the GOP, hey, they could say what they wanted.

    So, you say, does that mean each one of us has to speak up against each element of our nominal slice of whatever political group we kinda-sorta align ourselves with, if we disagree? No. But when Wolf Blitzer asks a perfectly reasonable question — hey, these are your allies, and they’re criticizing your daughter — his response is to tell Blitzer he’s out of line. How hard would it be to say something honest and principled, something a little tougher than “I’m welcoming my newest grandchild.”

    But even Cheney pere I can forgive. It’s Mary Cheney herself who bugs me. She got in bed with these people, and when she came out pregnant (not by any of them, I presume), suddenly she wants to draw the curtain down and claim her privacy. Sorry, but she kept her mouth shut when it might have mattered. You don’t get to ask everyone else to keep theirs shut, too.

    P.S. Y’all carry on with this if you want, but right now, I’m going back to bed. See if I can’t shake this thing.

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  8. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Oh, and i would note that, in Ohio, Ken Blackwell found that this sort of thing (using children adopted by glbt couples as grist for the political mill) doesn’t sell, and he didn’t get elected — in fact, he was shellacked, sanded, and put on the high shelf of state politics. You can draw a crowd at a few big churches with that kind of rhetoric, but actually very few conservative voters.

    Dobson does not equal electing R’s, as much as he wants people to think that; like Pat Robertson before him (and Jerry Falwell, too), the big congregation on Sunday does not actually tell you much about political support. Of the 40% (or less) of Americans in church on a Sunday, less than 5% of that number are in a “megachurch.” They just make for good visuals because you got all those folk in one place, and tend to have quote machine pastors.

    The rest of us are out actually getting things done (running shelters, food pantries, volunteering in juvenile court) and take 24 hours to call back a reporter, by which time the story runs with Rod Parsely as the only minister quoted.

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  9. ashley said on February 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    What the heck is the stamp widget?

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  10. nancy said on February 5, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    The stamp is one of about eleventy-jillion Gmail checkers. I have two accounts, so I chose two different ones, so I can check at a glance. (When you have mail, it turns red.)

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  11. LA mary said on February 5, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    If the Republicans were not the guys who politicized gay marriage and parenthood, who did? Those are the hot button issues and although in this fall’s elections they didn’t make much difference, they have been at least partially used to elect a lot of Republicans. Mary Cheney has to own that in part. It’s great you have no issues with gays, Jeff. A lot of conservatives do, including gay conservatives.

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  12. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I’m just not sure the gay marriage issue has elected much of anybody. There’s some clowns who want people to think it does (see the wiki on Rod Parsley, or Pat Robertson), just to keep on getting airtime. There’s just a great deal of anxiety about marriage in the culture, for which this issue got used as a crowbar. You’d be amazed how many social conservatives (so-called) are not obsessive on the sexuality issue: see Giuliani’s ongoing campaign for updates on that. . . Or how Romney can explain his defense of civil rights for gays without supporting changing marriage laws, and get applause. Most conservatives honestly aren’t sure what the right answer for supporting stable families who are raising kids, of whatever configuration, and are open to anyone who makes a sustained case for anything that does . . . which is why the Dan Savage thing saddened me (and made me write so much about it); he has done a number of pieces in the last five years about the case for expanded definitions of marriage enhancing stability for children across the board. He hasn’t completely convinced me, but i’m still listening for how we do that better. I see too many chaotic families right now as it is, with lost and lonely kids the can kicked between four to fourteen adults.

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  13. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    For anyone not bored out of their minds already by this subject, an essay that was very interesting from my pov:


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  14. czucky Dimes said on February 5, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Re: Most recent words now considered insulting to black people. OK, we’ve now added “articulate” and “dignified” to the list. So, do we refer to these as the “a-word” and the “d-word”?Should they be added to the b,c, e,j,l,m,n,o,p,r,s,t,u,v,w, words? Just asking.

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  15. alex said on February 5, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Well, Jeff, I agree with substantially everything in that exposition but I don’t see what it has to do with the Cheneys’ hypocrisy or lack thereof. They’re actually a unique family model in that they have the sort of wealth and privilege that allows them to do whatever they please, and that’s part of the reason they’re such a lightning rod for resentment. It’s kind of like the Jews of wealth and privilege in World War II Hungary who took the government at its word (to their own eventual detriment) that Hitler was interested only in exterminating low-class ghetto Jews but he’d be leaving the Jewish plutocrats alone.

    Dan Savage’s piece is reactionary. It’s not meant to be constructive. It’s preaching to his particular choir and it’s not half as offensive to me as, say, dupes of the NRA demonizing Jim Brady, the man who took bullets for President Reagan.

    I don’t see what role government properly has where families, children and marriage are concerned. As that article states, these things evolve as a consequence of larger economic and social forces and these historical transitions are often viewed by the moralists as signs of a doomsday descent into depravity.

    What’s worse than the Cheneys being a party to the GOP’s exploitation of animus to gin up the votes of idiots is the number of party loyal who hold their noses or look the other way just for the sake of skewing an election. I’d like to rain the same shower of abuse on them that Dan Savage reserves for Mary Cheney.

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  16. Jeff said on February 5, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    . . .and i wish i was more certain that Ken Blackwell’s defeat was more a rejection of his stances socially & economically, and less the old school racism that probably sealed his loss. But the margin was waaaaay bigger than that, leaving me with *some* hope for Ohio politics. If the R’s can find a way to disavow Dobson without looking like they’re dissing Christian conservatives in general, i’ll be a much happier camper. Alex, you’d like to see Dobson disavowed posthaste, and so would i, but i don’t see that kind of spine sprouting from stem cells anytime soon on “my side.”

    He said ruefully.

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  17. Marcia said on February 5, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    In a very, um, unusual way of combining social issues with everyday life/weather, I just spoke to my daughter’s friend’s mother about the little girl staying here tomorrow since school is already cancelled.

    First, though, my 8-year-old already informed me that the girl went to her other mom’s after school.

    Since I knew that the friend lived with two women already, I questioned the “other mom” comment, and found myself trying to explain a two-woman break-up involving a child.

    Cute little girl with a lisp. Conservative that I am, I don’t question that this child is loved all over my suburb.

    Cherished, in fact, more so than I-can’t-count-how-many lowlife Franklin County children are.

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  18. brian stouder said on February 5, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    I’d like to rain the same shower of abuse on them that Dan Savage reserves for Mary Cheney.

    Sounds like you need ‘psychoanalysis’

    This Savage guy sounds like Michael’s brother…and he might be if his real name is Dan Weiner

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  19. Danny said on February 5, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    On a related topic, how does anyone here feel about children as young as seven or eight having to hear about and think about these issues? As our pluralistic society goes down the road of domestic partnerships (which I support, even as a conservative Christian) and adoption by gay couples (which I do not support, as of yet), there is increasing pressure and likelyhood that young children are going to have to wrestle with human sexuality at ages where many would think it inappropriate.

    I mean there was just such a news story about 3rd graders having to watch a movie dealing with homosexual couples raising children.

    Your thoughts.

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  20. vince said on February 6, 2007 at 1:42 am

    Do you and your wife discuss your sex lives with your children?

    Guess what? Gay parents don’t either.

    God forbid that children see two women or two men as a loving couple.

    Nothing less. Nothing more.

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  21. alex said on February 6, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Jeff, I’ve been reading that there’s a growing number of Christian conservatives seeking influence in Washington who are stewards of the environment, who want to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, who are tired of Christians being perceived in society as hateful and petty by the mainstream thanks to James Dobson and his ilk. Christians who in many respects are more like Democrats than Republicans. There’s a backlash brewing and the Dems could very well be the beneficiaries of it if the GOP doesn’t get its act together.

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  22. Danny said on February 6, 2007 at 10:50 am

    Vince, point taken. Hopefully issues can be dealt in a proper way. I am just skeptical. Kids are curious and ask questions that we are not necessarily ready to answer. Marcia intimated that she had to have a conversation with her daughter that she was not really ready to have.

    Alex, you are correct. I and many of my friends have said, we would vote for a pro-life Dem. In the big scheme of things, it is not the most pressing issue in the country or world, but it is a (real) matter of conscience to many of us.

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  23. Danny said on February 6, 2007 at 11:13 am

    The whole conversation regarding children and their knowledge of human sexuality reminded me of a funny story.

    My two nephews, 8 and 9, are riding around in the car with their mother and they see this pregnant dog with laden breast, hanging quite low. Tyler says, “Mommy, what is the matter with that doggy, what are those?!?!”

    Travis, who always thinks he is so smart, says in a ridiculing manner (they are both very competitive and into one-upmanship), “Tyler, don’t you know anything? Those are her penises!” Like, duh.

    Well, my sister-in-law could barely keep a straight face, but she really tried to because she didn’t want to hurt Travis’ feelings too much. But he surmised that something was wrong and asked and she told him, “Honey, you’re wrong. Females do not have penises, they have something else.”

    Travis, was flummoxed and could barely believe it. Tyler was vindicated. But they were both undoubtly wrestling with this newfound data.


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  24. LA mary said on February 6, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Since the neighborhood where I live is populated with a lot of gay couples, and quite a few of them have children, I’ve never had to explain much. My kids just see a lot of different configurations of families. They always have. Just as I didn’t go into detail with them about what heterosexual couples do in bed, I didn’t go into detail about what gay couples do. Just as there’s a lot more to being a good mom than staying home, there’s a lot more to being good parents than being straight.

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  25. nancy said on February 6, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    Here in WhiteBreadLand, it’s less of an issue, but it’s there. As Vince says, you don’t need to overexplain. “That’s his/her family,” is usually sufficient. Even in WhiteBreadLand, there are extended families living under one roof, so while “traditional” arrangements prevail, different ones are not unheard of.

    I’m reminded of a funny story a friend told, about his 9-year-old daughter asking him what “virgin” meant. He stumbled through an agonizing explanation, which only made her more puzzled. Finally he thought to ask where she’d heard the word, and it turned out she’d run across the phrase “virgin forests” in a book. Sex ≠ trees.

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  26. Marcia said on February 6, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    That’s his/her family

    Yeah, that’s really all the detail needed. As Vince sorta said, we don’t discuss the sex lives of the heterosexual parents of her friends.

    It wasn’t that I wasn’t “ready” to have the conversation; I was just a little flummoxed by it.

    But I don’t think it in any way made her wrestle with the idea of sexuality. She’s 8. To her, the fact that Ellie has two moms is as interesting as the fact that Ellie has a sister, you know?

    It’s maybe as a young teen, I would think, that the sexual questions might come up.

    Virgin forest. Heh. When my son was in second or third grade, he brought me a novel he’d been reading and said, “I don’t think this book is supposed to be for kids.”

    I was like, oh, shit, he read something about sex. So I asked him why he said that, and he said, ” ‘Cause I just found out there’s no Santa.”

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