Nighttime in Boston

Sunday evening Hanna has yoga in the North End and I often tag along to sit and read or study in the Boston Beanstock Co. coffee shop. On our way to and from the T we cross the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which has these tiny little lights studding the sidewalk. Last week, I snapped a photograph. It's not great quality, but you get the effect. I don't think they're constellations or anything, but it still reminds me of those night sky machines you can buy for bedroom ceilings :).


Fear of Children

The British charity Barnardo's, released a poll indicating that a substantial number of British adults fear children and characterize their behavior as animal-like.

Martin Narey, the charity's chief executive, said: "It is appalling that words like 'animal', 'feral' and 'vermin' are used daily in reference to children. These are not references to a small minority of children, but represent the public view of all children.

As historical examples of the use of animalistic language an imagery to describe the poor, non-white races, enslaved peoples, women, and other marginalized groups shows, describing any group of human beings in non-human terms is a powerful rhetorical weapon that encourages bigotry and denial of basic human rights. This is an incredibly blatant example of prejudice against some of the most vulnerable members of our world community. And I don't believe these sentiments are particular to the British alone. Hatred, neglect, and fear of children is equally common in the United States, despite all of the political talk about "family values."

Thanks to Hanna for the link.


Prop. 8: Was it all about sexism?

An interesting article on the politics of Proposition 8 by Slate.com's Richard Thompson Ford, in which he argues against seeing inconsistency in voter's acceptance of Barack Obama for president, yet rejection of same-sex marriage. Homophobia, he argues, is closer to (perhaps even part of) gender-based sexism than it is analogous to race and civil rights discrimination:

After all, traditional marriage isn't just analogous to sex discrimination—it is sex discrimination: Only men may marry women, and only women may marry men. Same-sex marriage would transform an institution that currently defines two distinctive sex roles—husband and wife—by replacing those different halves with one sex-neutral role—spouse. Sure, we could call two married men "husbands" and two married women "wives," but the specific role for each sex that now defines marriage would be lost. Widespread opposition to same-sex marriage might reflect a desire to hang on to these distinctive sex roles rather than vicious anti-gay bigotry. By wistfully invoking the analogy to racism, same-sex marriage proponents risk misreading a large (and potentially movable) group of voters who care about sex difference more than about sexual orientation.
On the one hand, the pernicious relationship between rigid, oppositional conceptions of gender and homophobia is familiar to a lot of us. Obviously, the anti-same-sex marriage activists have been hugely successful by framing their campaign in terms of "protecting" hetero marriage -- and this is one possible answer to the question "what do they think they're protecting hetero marriage from?" On the other hand, I guess I'm skeptical that there is a large group of straight voters who aren't anti-gay but still uber-defensive about their own sexuality and gender identity.

UPDATE 11/19: Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon has a more thorough analysis of the article. Check it out.


First Froglets?

Dear Mr. President Elect,

It has come to our attention, thanks to the national media and your own recent press conference in Chicago, that you and your family are seeking to adopt a pet to join you in the White House when you take up residence in January. While your stated intention to adopt a shelter dog is certainly laudable, we understand that this causes some difficulties due to your daughter's allergies. We feel in a position to offer a unique solution to this quandry: adopting a froglet.

Froglets are small, orange amphibians living on the Clanger planet. Their two natural habitats are a TARDIS-like top hat and a vertical mud puddle some distance below the surface of the planet. Clangers themselves are friendly, clever pink aliens who – if history is a reliable indicator – would most likely welcome a long-distance relationship with a harmonious earth government.

The froglet diet consists of blue and white pudding soup, which is obtainable from the soup dragon on the Clanger planet (if you ask nicely), and which can also double as a convenient jumper on cold winter days. This will be of particular value in the Obama White House, as we are sure you are planning on implementing an economically responsible and energy-efficient policy.

While you have only thus far indicated an interest in a single pet, the froglets seem happiest in triads. While they have a disconcerting habit of appearing and disappearing without vocal announcement, they are otherwise quite unobtrusive – once one becomes accustomed to their habit of bouncing when showing extreme emotions such as pleasure and discontent. Their presence would, we feel, be a comfort to your daughters during this period of transition and also serve as reminder to the White House staff and all officials you meet with of the need to maintain a sense of humor even during times of extreme stress.


Hanna & Anna


Friday Night Jazz

When Hanna asked me earlier this week what my soundtrack would be for a "happy dance." I came up with the Weather Report song "Birdland" which my brother, sister and I used to rock out to on a regular basis as high-energy children. She'd never heard of it, so I (naturally) had to hunt down a version for her to here (thank you YouTube!) Here it is for a little Friday night jumping and jiving.

And now I'm off to bed.



With autumn well and truly here, the temperatures dropping, and the days getting shorter, it is most definitely time for that coziest of beverages: tea! Hanna and I were shopping down on Newbury Street today and stopped in at Tealuxe to augment our collection with two new additions. When I brought them home and added the bags to our little regiment above the stove, the effect was so pleasing that I felt compelled to take a picture (or two, or three).

Hope you're all enjoying the post-election glow . . . and now it's back to the books.


The Future Feminist Librarian-Activist Votes

Despite fears of long lines (happily unrealized) and the lack of "I voted" stickers (I was sad) and "I voted" fudge (Hanna was sad), we went and voted today in Allston at the Warren Street Elementary School (Ward 21, Precinct 8). Mine was the 569th ballot accepted at the polling place. I voted for Obama/Biden--no mystery there--and kicked myself later for not having written in the cast of Torchwood for the local house and senate seats, which are all filled by unopposed Democrats around here. Note to self for next time: Prepare to alleviate election stress with humorous write-in candidates!

As I write this, Hanna and I are swapping election trivia off respective computers, puzzling over the inexplicable method The Guardian has of calling states for Obama . . . and getting lost in the interactive election map on NPR.org. As well as, in my case, following Feministe's live-blogging of the election results (me? a political junkie? what gives you that idea?), and of course catching the britcoms on PBS. Time for some election-night cocoa!

(Hoping you) Remember(ed) to Vote!

This was supposed to go up this morning, but somehow the pre-scheduling didn't work so . . . here it is a few hours late!

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I'll be voting this afternoon after class a newly registered voter in Allston, having transferred my voter registration from Michigan. Go out and appreciate the privilege of elective franchise people!

I thought I'd celebrate the day with a clip from the ever-reliable Daily Show's last interview with Obama, in which he jokes with Jon Stewart how his white half may experience some inner reluctance to vote for a black president.