Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's only socialism if it happens to someone else

On Political Animal, an irony-laden story about a far-right congressman from Maryland who led the charge against the public option during the lead up to health care reform. On his first day at work, he was shocked, just shocked to find out about a 28-day delay in commencement of his health care coverage. He then wanted to know if he could buy coverage from the government in the interim, pretty much the same idea as the public option.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cross Body Lead

In August, I signed up for another round of salsa classes. This time, I decided to dispense with the angst of group classes and doubled down on classes with a private instructor that my dear pal Lillian recommended. The first visits to the dance studio were predictably fraught for me. I don't even think than in the first class we *danced* at all, as such. I was so nervous that I could actually barely move. With a little bit of extracurricular coaching from Lillian, my awesome teacher Franklin, and a commitment to attend one of the studio's practice parties each week, I have started to see improvement. I can often stay on the beat, can follow more complicated leads, and can often get my upper body and hips to move all at the same time. The challenge remains to do all of this while I keep my posture straight, breathe, refrain from looking down and sucking in both my lips as I do when I am concentrating (see me pictured here in 2007 for an example of exactly what not to do.)

The more important improvement for me is psychological one, though. I am way less prone to getting defensive when some earnest dance partner tries to give me feedback. My emotional recovery time for mistakes has been cut in half. Having a bad night is not accompanied by a downward spiral of emotional flagellation. It's not to say that there isn't some internal pressure going on. Because when you start to do something from scratch, if you don't employ some sort of self-criticism, then you won't make progress and you won't get better. But I feel like I am balancing the reckless abandon with the objective gaze better. I don't want to jinx it, but it is way more fun than it has ever been, really what the goal is in the end.

A Movie Recommendation

Few movies have stuck with me to the degree that Yi Yi did after seeing it in the theater. I watched it again last night and was reminded again how much I like it. It is the story of a middle-class Taipei family dealing with a variety of mundane challenges (the middle-aged father reconnects with his first love, the youngest son [pictured left] deals with teasing from his teacher and classmates.) There is so much wrapped up in this film about where we find meaning in our day-to-day work and school lives, how we appear to others, and how we can and can't see ourselves. It is slow-paced but totally involving if you give it time to work its way under your skin.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fresh face for Newyorquina

I took a good look at my blog today and was struck by the fact that it is in need of a new fresh look. Blogger has a nice new tool for updating the template, so expect some trial and error until I get it how I want it. Feedback welcome!

Brevity is the soul of insightful polical analysis

I often find myself peering over the top of my blackberry and announcing to Jane the latest in a string of far-right antics (Cordoba House controvery, the referendum in Arizona, or the latest from Clarence Thomas and his wife.) I am often spoiling for a good long rant or at least and impassioned discussion about how wrong-headed such-and-such thing is or how it reveals the xenophobia and American exceptionalism woven into our political discourse.

It is pretty rare that Jane and I disagree on this type of thing, but the flavor of our response differs. She boils it down to its essentials. "We live in a country of assholes," she says and keeps doing whatever she is doing.

I'd like to think that isn't true. But lately of course, it appears that it might just be this straightforward.

I can't look away

I keep opening the paper and my blackberry and my browser and starting to read election fall-out coverage, and then closing it, just shaking my head, thinking what on earth is my country coming to? It's such a discouraging outlook for even holding the line on reproductive rights, health care access, and improving the economy, let alone doing anything about DADT, immigration reform, or climate change . Inevitably, five minutes later, I am back at it again trying to find some smattering of hope.

Paul Krugman's editorial today is worth looking at, recalling how he said back in the day that the stimulus package simply wasn't big enough, and how Obama blew the political handling of the economic recovery from the get-go. He says:

"I felt a sense of despair during Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address, in which he declared that “families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” Not only was this bad economics — right now the government must spend, because the private sector can’t or won’t — it was almost a verbatim repeat of what John Boehner, the soon-to-be House speaker, said when attacking the original stimulus. If the president won’t speak up for his own economic philosophy, who will?"

Krugman's observation is that it isn't too late for Obama to take an aggressive and principles stand for economic measures that will actually benefit the economy, coupled with a political strategy to highlight Republican obstructionism's role in the stagnant recovery. But who knows if this will happen.

Like I said, I can't look away.