Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Don't know the answer but I know who to blame

Stuff I've been reading:

1. The dissolution of the Philly public school district:

From the CityPaper: Who's Killing Philly Public Schools?
In short, it was a plan to shutter 40 schools next year, and an additional six every year thereafter until 2017. The remaining schools would be herded into "achievement networks" of 20 to 30 schools; public and private groups would compete to manage the networks. And the central office would be reduced to a skeleton crew of about 200. (About 1,000-plus positions existed in 2010, and district HQ has already eliminated more than a third of those.) Charter schools, the plan projects, would teach an estimated 40 percent of students by 2017.
 From the Inquirer: The end of public education in Philly
There is no assurance that these Achievement Networks will be funded equitably. A bidding process — yet to be explained by the SRC or Mr. Knudsen — would determine who controls each network. Anyone may be chosen: former district personnel; charter-school operators; corporations such as Mosaica, KIPP and Kenny Gamble’s Universal; or politicians, including State Rep. Dwight Evans, who last year bullied the CEO of one charter school behind closed doors in order to override the choice of parents at Martin Luther King High School.
How have we arrived at a point where the public-school system can be auctioned off to the lowest bidder?
2. On the death penalty:

Yes, America, We Have Executed an Innocent Man
The ultimate villain of this awful story, Hernandez died in prison, in 1999, boasting to the end that he had killed Wanda Lopez and allowed another man to take the fall for it. The cops knew this. The prosecutors knew or should have known it. Witnesses knew it. And yet no one did anything to stop the state executioners from carrying out their job. Why no one listened to Hernandez for all those years, and why no one hears the cries of others today, is a question Justice Scalia and many others have to answer for themselves.

3. Jobs, and stuff:
The Fastest Dying Jobs of this Generation (and What Replaced them)

....apparently, sociologists are a dying breed.

4. Another take on gay marriage:

What Straight Allies Need to Understand about Gay Marriage and States' Rights

5. Just 'cause I love my home state:

Massachusetts is the best state in the union

(Maybe not the drivers, though)

Monday, May 14, 2012

my reindeer flies sideways

My youngest brother is all graduated from college, which means he is officially an engineer.

Here we are at his commencement:

And we went to Maine to celebrate, so here are the three of us (actually, this is over the river in Portsmouth, NH, but whatever):

I am really not old enough that my baby bro is out of college.  

(The title of this post comes from a camp song, of course:

To the tune of "Pomp and Circumstance":

My reindeer flies sideways; your reindeer flies upside down.
My reindeer flies sideways; your reindeer is dead.

...and now you've got it in your head, right? Mwahahaha)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

all right then.

I live in PA, not NC, so I haven't really been following the news about Amendment One. But I heard today that the ban on same-sex marriage passed.

My first thought was, "What the hell, NC?" But my actual thoughts are a little more complicated than that (uh, did you expect them not to be?), so here are some of the things that are running through my head. My head is a spacey, disjointed, chaotic place, so forgive me if my thoughts come out that way.

1. I'm a politically liberal and (probably) theologically orthodox Catholic. I don't think that's a contradiction, and just because a certain subset of voices speaks the loudest doesn't mean that we don't exist. (helloooooooo, Catholic Workers.)  When I became Catholic, my dad said to me, "But you're so anti-authoritarian." Yeah. Still am, a bit. And, frankly, the leadership of the Church has done almost nada to convince me that they're morally superior to your average Joe Schmoe (or Jane Schmoe) on the street. See: sexual abuse cases.

2. I don't think that religious beliefs about sexual orientation or marriage should influence how the state views them. And vice versa. And I think that married same-sex couples should get the same rights and privileges as, umm, non-same-sex (heterosexual? opposite-sex?) couples.

3. Marriage has not always been one man and one woman. If you want to make an argument based on history, that's not the way to go (and for years and years, women and children were considered property. Yeah, history: real moral).

4. Anyway, bullshit on the "marriage being redefined" thing. The Church isn't being forced to redefine the sacraments, is it?  And really, if your marriage is so weak that a gay couple getting married is going to screw it up...well, I really have nothing to say to you.

5. My God has much more to say about things like taking care of the poor and standing up to injustice than he does about sex. And if I'm wrong? If I stand before God one day and he looks down at me and condemns me for supporting marriage equality? Well, in the words of the immortal Huck Finn, All right then, I'll go to hell.

6. My life is not affected by this. Really. It's not. I'm a straight girl. Hell, I don't even know if I want to get married. So I don't even have a dog in the so-called fight. But...

7. Cliche of cliches: I have gay friends. I have gay friends who are couples, who are married. And this kind of thing? It hurts them.

There you are, darlings. Let me know if I used one of these, and don't do it yourself.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

nothing beside remains.

This is from a request that I got and didn't get to post during National Poetry Month, so I'm posting it for Poetry Tuesday:

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away". 

(Despite how heavy-handed this poem can be, I've always wanted to climb a mountain or a building and shout from the top, "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

...what? I'm a lit nerd.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

and all God needs is gravity to hold me down

 Happy May Day!

I'm listening to Alison Krauss's "Gravity." Now, there are a lot of Alison Krauss songs that I love, but I think this one is my favorite. It's a quieter song, less country-ish than a lot of Union Station's other songs. But the lyrics also draw me in:

And all the answers that I started with
Turned out questions in the end

I've found this to be the case in my life--that certainties turn into uncertainties, that answers actually aren't answers at all. If you'd asked me certain questions when I was 18, I would have given you straight-forward, absolute answers. I'm more apt to ramble these days, to circle around questions, to see different points of view. Part of growing up, I think.

There are still things that I am certain of: I think all kids have a right to a good education; we should treat everyone with respect and kindness; "different" does not equal "bad." So on and so forth. But, in general, I ask more questions than I have answers.

Or, if you ask my crankier self:
I have NUANCE, dammit. I will quote Whitman at you!
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.

(Most of the time I am not cranky. But I like Whitman. And I like Alison Krauss.)

And the people who love me still ask me
When are you coming back to town?
And I answer, quite frankly,
When they stop building roads
And all God needs is gravity to hold me down