Two Left Feet


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Monday, March 24, 2003

[Jean]

I'm having dinner tonight with Arianna Huffington. Oh, boy! I'm excited.

POST-DINNER UPDATE: Arianna Huffington informed the waitress in a very serious tone that she would break out in hives and need to be carried off in a stretcher if any garlic or onions were present in her meal. After the waitress went off to speak with the chef about her food requirements, Ms. Huffington chuckled and told us, "That's the only way to make sure they don't put any in your food. If you just say you don't like garlic or onions, they'll ignore you." The whole table laughed- and her meal contained no onions or garlic.

My fantasy for the evening was that I would tell Arianna Huffington about UNC's renewable energy campaign, that she would then write about it in her column, and then we'd be famous. Someone did bring it up, and Ms. Huffington asked me to email her more information about it. I won't get my hopes up- perhaps she was just being polite- but it is nice to have one's fantasies come to pass, at least somewhat.

Arianna Huffington's political transformation fascinates me: "I believed in the power of the free market, of the invisible hand," she said in her speech Monday evening, "But then I realized that the free market is not free- it is entirely rigged." What is it like to decide that most of your core ideologies are wrong? Is it exhilirating? Heart-breaking? Both?

After dinner, one of the co-chairs of the Student Environmental Action Coalition mentioned to me that only a few years ago, she was in the College Republicans. "What happened?" I asked. She answered in a straightforward manner, "I got tired of people who could not logically back up their arguments."

I plan to pick my friend's brain some more about her transformation; meanwhile, here's Arianna Huffington's description of it.




Saturday, March 22, 2003

[Jean]

Down on Rosemary Street

As a friend and I emerged from a restaurant tonight on Rosemary Street, we were approached by a man who appeared to be mentally unstable: he was babbling incomprehensibly to strangers about (as far as I could tell) how anti-war protestors were "hurting his feelings" and how they couldn't appreciate the sacrifices he had made for them. Note that neither my friend nor I were wearing anything such as a peace sign that might have indicated that we were against the war; other than being of student age there was no obvious reason for him to direct what seemed to be increasing agitation towards us. My friend (rabidly anti-war) sounded sincere as he agreed with every statement the man made. I thanked him for serving us, and we exited as soon as the traffic cleared enough for us to dash across the street. The man kept mumbling as we said, "We have to go" and headed off quickly in the opposite direction of campus.

The man looked about the right age to be a Gulf War I veteran.


Friday, March 21, 2003

[Jean]

US bombs Iraq, domestic situation goes down tubes

A recent "This Modern Cartoon" reads, "I am outraged by the determination of an unelected president to drag us into an unnecessary war! AND I am outraged by his assertion that we will not 'pass our problems along' to the future generations-- when HE's the one proposing a TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT over the next five years! I am outraged that ENRON and the other corporate scandals have been effectively SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET! And that Dick Cheney STILL hasn't made his energy taks force records public! AND that the S.E.C. has actually just WEAKENED accounting industry oversight! AND I am outraged by the administration's attempts to undermine AFFIRMATIVE ACTION-- not to MENTION their stealth campaign against abortion rights-- and the BILLIONS they're pouring into an all-but-useless MISSILE DEFENSE SYTEM--and their complete CONTEMPT for basic civil liberties and constitutional rights-- and their efforts to portray any dissent as UNPATRIOTIC-- and--AND--"

At that point, the speaker falls, spluttering, to the floor, a victim of OUTRAGE OVERLOAD.

After a very relaxing and enjoyable Spring Break, I have returned to school only to feel unbelievable outrage towards the recent actions of our government. I felt literally ill to hear President Bush's words as he addressed the nation last night, not only because of his disrespect for diplomacy and basic human life, but also because I counted at least 10 outright lies in his speech. President Clinton was impeached for lying about his relationship with a woman to whom he was not married. George Bush lies to us about matters of global importance that will affect those of us who survive for decades. I am angered by the thought that educational, environmental, artistic, and health programs throughout the nation will likely have to be slashed to finance this war- and yet the cost of the war was not even factored into Mr. Bush's budget proposal for this year. Mr. Bush also declined to include any money in the budget for the rebuilding of Afghanistan, a move that does not suggest future support for the victims of "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Meanwhile, the Senate voted to ban so-called partial-birth abortions, in a piece of legislation actually prohibits abortion procedures that are only used prior to the third trimester. Moreover, the procedure is the most common, safest means of abortion, and- here's where I get really outraged- there's no provision for an exception in the case of a threat to a woman's health. If this legislation had been in effect in April 1995, women like Coreen Costello could have died:

"COREEN COSTELLO from Agoura, California. In April 1995, seven months pregnant with her third child, Coreen and her husband Jim found out that a lethal neuromuscular disease had left their much-wanted daughter unable to survive. Its body had stiffened and was frozen, wedged in a transverse position. In addition, amniotic fluid had puddled and built up to dangerous levels in Coreen's uterus. Devout Christians and opposed to abortion, the Costellos agonized for over two weeks about their decision and baptized the fetus in utero. Finally, Coreen's increasing health problems forced them to accept the advice of numerous medical experts that the intact dilation and extraction (D&X) was, indeed, the best option for Coreen's own health, and the abortion was performed. Later, in June 1996, Coreen gave birth to a healthy son."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is gutting the Clean Air Act, repeatedly making efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling (thankfully, the attempt of two days ago failed, but they will try again), and introducing logging as a means of preventing forest fires. Not to mention attacks on the Violence Against Women Office. Oh, and the state of New Jersey announced recently that "If the nation escalates to 'red alert,' which is the highest in the color-coded readiness against terror, you will be assumed by authorities to be the enemy if you so much as venture outside your home."

There's an enormous backlash against anyone who dares to point out that perhaps some of these measures might not actually be a good idea. Bobby Eberle writes in a column entitled, "It's Time for the Silent Majority to Speak Out:"

"With a dip in Neilson ratings or a slowing of record sales, executives who normally let their 'stars' run amok will undoubtedly rein them in. Free speech is great until it hurts the bottom line. When the bottom line is hurt, executives have an obligation to bring the 'hammer' down and get these celebrities to back off."

In the words of Rachel Corrie, a young American woman who was killed a few days ago as she tried to block a bulldozer from destroying a Palestinian home:

"Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I'm witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I'm really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don't think it's an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world."

I believe there is hope. But I am so angry right now that I can hardly breathe. I hope we can channel this outrage into working to end the war and creating some good at home.



[Jean]

Lamest Chem Joke of All Time


Q: What's new?

A: C over lambda!

I find this joke outrageously funny, and if that says something about my sense of humor, I steadfastly decline to comment upon it.

P.S. For those of you in the dark, substitute "nu" for "new." And if you still don't get it, well, you're not a chemistry geek. And that's ok.


Tuesday, March 18, 2003

[Jean]

Free Speech is Conditional


In a column entitled, "It's time for the Silent Majority to Speak Out," Bobby Eberle of "GOPUSA: Bringing the conservative message to America," states:

With a dip in Neilson ratings or a slowing of record sales, executives who normally let their "stars" run amok will undoubtedly rein them in. Free speech is great until it hurts the bottom line. When the bottom line is hurt, executives have an obligation to bring the "hammer" down and get these celebrities to back off.

More from the "real" Americans.



Monday, March 17, 2003

[Jean]

watch my wife get fuked


This site is now the number one google search return for this eloquent phrase. Don't ask me why. I'm sure that making this post will ensure that we're super number one for it. It's a dubious honor, but interesting nonetheless.

Whoever was doing the searching was probably disappointed by this site's decided lack of spousal voyeurism. On the other hand, Two Left Feet does feature unique photos of nearly naked young vixens engaged in licentious protesting. So maybe he found what he was looking for after all.

UPDATE: We've also been reached by searching on Yahoo for "FUKED WOMEN." Ok, now I'm going back to outrage overload over world events. I think most of us know who's really getting "fuked."


Wednesday, March 05, 2003

[Jean]

UNC's Peace Movement



These protestors had a great strategy. They (I assume) informed the media that they would be streaking for peace. That attracted a disgusting number of cameras and reporters, far more attention than the Green Energy Campaign ever got. That alone says something about our culture- people definitely got excited about even the rumor of naked peace-promoting flesh.

The protestors also attracted the attention of the police. And as you can see from the photo, when they emerged from Davis library, they weren't naked as promised, but clothed just enough to avoid charges of indecent exposure. Even better, I felt that they made a much stronger statement than they could have by running around naked. But how many media people would have shown up if the protestors hadn't said they would be naked?

Last Sunday, there was a great rally on McCorkle place. Between 750 and 1000 people showed up- though disappointingly few were students. The speakers were positive and made cohesive points, the sun was warm and bright, and we had a cheerful march to Weaver Street.

Perhaps in some sort of retribution for my open letter to Toni Smith (below), in helping to organize this rally I became the recipient of hateful email. Excerpts from a few of the more charming letters:

dont send me any more of your stupid bullshit. i hope we make iraq the worlds largest glass parking lot

To whomever sent this email, please do not send me any emails about protesting the war and being an American Coward.
It is our military's willingness to risk their lives that gives you yellow bellies the freedom to protest in the first place. Remember,
the world watched Hitler build his military machine and almost take over the world if it were not for the Allies( especially the United
States). An Iraq with nuclear arms would be just as dangerous. You all are nothing but liberal cowards with no backbone, no morals, and no clue as to why your protesting.

How about no, I fully support Bush and the Gulf War. Just go plant or hug a tree if you need somthing to do.

Mark this day on your calendar so, when your naivety is lost you can sit and reflect and ask yourself, "What was I
thinking..." Here's to clear weather.

I do not ask that you not promote such campaigns, just that you realize that freedom of speech and thought
and ideas goes both ways, not just to the left.

There were more than 150 of these emails sent in reply to a mass email that went to all UNC students and at least some of its employees. In case you were wondering if the peace movement has been demonized, I'm here to tell you, the answer is yes.





[Jean]

Experiment

Today, I did nothing for exactly thirty minutes. I originally planned to refrain from productive activity for an hour, but I was too chicken to do it.

I wanted to do nothing for a period of time because I suspected that I've become so trained to budget my time into discrete blocks of productivity that it would be very difficult to remain activity-free for even half an hour. I'd also noticed that in those brief moments in the college schedule when I have nothing to do, I usually invent tasks for myself, such as catching up on politics or cleaning the mirror in my room. While those are fine and good things to do, I was beginning to find myself so wrapped up in the need for stimulation and work-producing that I doubted that I could actually sit still for thirty minutes.

So, I set my alarm clock to go off after half an hour. I turned off the lights, shut off the computers, and covered up the clock. Then I sat down on my bed and vowed not to fall asleep.

For the first few minutes, my brain screamed. First, it tried to convince me that it really would be more fun to read blogs. When that failed, my mind began making lists of the work I really should be doing instead and I suddenly felt afraid of both my work and that I would not be able to remain seated for thirty minutes.

I forced myself to concentrate on my senses. I noticed that my room is very loud, a combination of the refrigerator, the low, rhythmic whirring of the heating system, and the traffic outside. I began to relax, but when a car horn sounded, I could feel my heart rate increase involuntarily and a certain tenseness that began in my stomach spread out through my body.

I could see the branches of the tree outside my window against the sky and I was reminded of a Jackson Pollack painting. I thought about the way my stomach felt to the hands resting on it, and how my hands felt to my stomach. I noticed the way my underwear was tugging at my skin, and the itchiness of my neck.

The tolling of the bell tower interrupted the attempt I had made to suspend time by covering up the clock. It informed me that fifteen minutes had passed, although it seemed like much less. My mind yelled again about what I should be doing, but as I realized that I was going to reach my goal of inactivity for thirty minutes, it quieted and I relaxed more.

I don't remember exactly what I thought during the second fifteen minutes. I do recall thinking that perhaps the reason I often have very insightful ideas while on airplanes has less to do with being in the sunshine above the clouds (as I had thought) but more attributable to the fact that airplane trips are the only times when I do nothing more than stare out of the window for hours. Perhaps the best thoughts come when the mind is drifting, free of the boundaries of time management.

Towards the end of the thirty minutes, I realized that what I would like very much was to cook myself an omelet and belgian waffles for dinner. So I did. And it was good.