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Archive for July, 2009

The BBC has had this snooty “100 books everyone should read” list floating around the internet for some time. I usually hate lists like that because they make reading–which is a personal activity much like eating or sex–into some regimented march toward groupthink. My bud Rachel makes the very good point that all such lists violate the 3rd Rule of the Five Rules Of Library Science. I tend to agree, but then I also tend to love making lists when I’m out of other ideas.

I looked at the BBC’s list several times–people are forever wanting to know how many of them I’ve read, especially since the snoosters across the pond say “most people have only read 6”. Clearly they assume that “most people” never went to school or were raised by wolves, because you’d have to be feral or shut in a sensory depravation tank to have only read 6 books on a list that includes Harry Potter, To Kill A Mockingbird and other popular and/or popularly assigned books. At last count, though, my freakish self had read 80 or 81 of the How Good A Person Are You booklist. Then I got awfully tired of seeing it. I’ve had it emailed to me, blogged about and tagged on facebook a divvil of a dozen times. Any list that thinks “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” and “Hamlet” are two separate entries is going to irritate me after awhile. So I made my own list.

This list is NOT a list of my favourite books. It’s not a list of the books I think are the best-written or most timeless or whatnot. It is purely a list of books I think an American person should read in order to have a foundational understanding of the world around her, the other people in that world and the things that motivate or interest those other people. Many of the books on this list I don’t enjoy. (Catcher In The Rye being a prime example.) But they’re on this list because enough other people do enjoy them and if you go to a cocktail party with some rabid Holden Caufield fan you won’t feel left out.

So the list follows after the jump, and on the advice of a blog-reader/facebook friend I’ll be doing posts on each of the books themselves in turn, discussing why I put it on my list in the first place. (more…)

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Obligatory intro: I’m a big believer in being open and honest about body parts. Reproductive organs should be no less mysterious than arms, eyes and knees. That’s why I’ve got no problem talking plainly about the topic here. At the same time I know many people don’t share my philosophy and would just as soon not read about such things. It is purely out of courtesy for those folks that I’ve more-tagged this. (more…)

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I read yesterday on Twitter that ASCAP is thinking about going after bloggers who embed videos in their posts. So guess what I’m gonna stop doing? Yep.

I know that’s not really feel-goody of me. But I guess since I wasn’t a regular with the “post a video of a happy song on Friday” thing that I won’t be missed. But I did want to let other bloggers know that there might be a danger in the continued practice.

I think ASCAP is in the right, but wrong in exercising that right. The majority of songs in those videos are still under copywrite. I’m touchy about copywrite, because it’s the only thing protecting my only personal asset. I’m a writer and without copywrite I’ve no hope of earning a living through my words.

But those videos are also publicity. There have been at least three occasions since the inception of Feel Good Friday where I’ve been reminded just how much I love that particular song. I’ve gone straight to my iTunes and BOUGHT the thing. I know this piece of anecdata* probably means very little to ASCAP, but I have to throw it out there. They’ve made more money from me by having the videos freely available than they would have otherwise.

*this is my new favourite word, and you’re bound to see it alot. I came across it at TCP when another commenter (tanglethis?) used it. And since it describes so well that which is in overabundance on the web I have to keep it and love it and take it out to look at how perfect it is.

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Yeah, I’m just all kinds of sittin’ here coming up with stuff to yell at the world as it passes by my door. Blame the fact that I was up all night thinking and playing Epic Pet Wars.

I may agree with many things that many of the Tea Party people are trying to accomplish. But they’re not just making statements about how to change what’s different. They’re acting many times with hate. I’m all for limited government (ya think?!?) and better fiscal policy. But I’m not one for mean slogans scrawled on posterboard.

And I’m also over this whole “glorifying the terrorists of the past” thing. Because that’s what the Boston Tea Party was. Terrorism.

I do have one idea though. It makes a statement about the direction we’re headed with all these bailouts and government health care schemes. It poetically echoes the whole Boston Tea Party without being terroristic AND making a modern point.

You know they’re talking about a federal tax on soda to pay for health care, right?

Well, they are. And if you Tea Party People want to step up your game you’ll stop with all this Tea stuff and start doing demonstrations where you put Mentos in Diet Coke and talk about being overrun by hot air. And how government is boiling over with too much interference in private life. It’s perfect.

*Popular beverage of the day? Check
*Protesting a tax thereon? Check
*Making a statement about limited government? Check
*Slightly crazy looking? Check
*Cruel and violent ? No check.

So it’s a little bit messy, yes. Just hose down after you get everything all gross and sticky. You’ll do one better than any Congress in recent memory.

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First off–I’ve always believed in ‘climate change’.

Where I’m agnostic is when people talk about ‘human-induced climate change’ with certainty. I don’t believe we can be certain that Evil Mankind is the Cause For The End Of The World As We Know It.

But I have decided I am prepared to make a complete change of view. It just takes one teeny tiny change.

I will believe every thing Al Gore has ever said about Climate Change if he stops making a profit off the concept.

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Two of my friends are ruminating on the nature and action of love.

I think there are ways in which they are both right. B. is correct in that there are many kinds of love, and love can surprise you. It can come from nowhere, when you least expect it. Kleinheider is right when he says that Sanford’s infatuation most probably isn’t love.

Since I was 17 I’ve had a test for what love is. A lot of thought and prayer went into that test, because I was in a relationship that had most of the hallmarks of love. I was convinced that the boy I was dating was the only one for me and that I loved him.
I read a lot of things about love; things in the Bible and things in magazines. Books, movies, songs, stories and poems are mostly about love and the things that pass for it for a time so it isn’t hard to do a study on the ways the world loves and thinks it loves.

The simple answer for me came down to this. The absolute perfect love that everyone is after has one characteristic. It does not destroy. There are lesser forms of love, including lust and infatuation and romance, which are all nice for a time and very pleasant. Carefully nurtured they can mature into ideal love in the way a seedling grows into a plant.

But any lesser love which destroys something cannot grow into a full and perfect love because it has destroyed. If a lust love that destroys a family is nurtured it can only go so far. If a romantic love that destroys a woman’s spirit is nurtured it will inevitably continue to destroy until it chokes her heart or is yanked out by the root like the weed it is.

I am very blessed to be in a love relationship that has had a chance to grow, to weather storms and create more love. I know how such love can be both strong as iron and fragile as feathers. But it does involve choice and work and a tamed eye. If you want a strong love that lasts longer than a season, go with the love that creates and nurtures. Avoid the love that destroys.

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Two hundred and some years ago–math is not my strong suit–the Declaration of Independence was signed. This is a holiday that is born out of words. Words born from ideas found in books and pamphlets and hot-blooded speakers on street corners.

Words and freedom are twinned and and twining about each other. You can’t have freedom without words, and you can’t have the best words without freedom.

I find my own freedom in words. The books I read take me places I could never go on my own. The words I write allow me to share my self with anyone willing and interested in sharing back. Reading is a form of sharing nearly as intimate as eating and sex. It’s a way to be drawn inside another person, to be taken to the place where the soul beats strongest and most like itself.

We can’t have freedom without words. Without books. Without ideas that make us happy–we talk about how glad we are to hear them. We can’t have freedom without ideas that make us angry–we talk about why they make us angry, and think and use words to fight those other words.

There are many self-evident truths to be celebrated on the 4th of July. And all those celebrations will spring from words of freedom and equality.

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Now I’m active on Twitter.

I signed up when it was new and promptly let it lay dormant for ages. Then I started playing this game that required me to be on there for game advantages. Then I realised that everyone who used to have blogs now writes on Twiitter and that Twitter was easier to keep up with than my Google Reader.

So now I’ve got three places to write three very different kinds of things.
Papa Bear

This is my novel. I’ve always been writing a novel; it’s just not always the same novel. I have a really hard time letting my characters go, because I become so attached to them and their worlds. But I’ve buckled down and committed to finish this one story by the end of this year–22 May 2010. (My years go from Birthday to Birthday…seems only fair that I not get cheated out of 5months and 3 weeks.) I can write in my novel when I just want to go on and on forever and be part of that other world.

Mama Bear
This blog is my Mama Bear project. I can be on here when I want to write a lot, but not as much as I would when working on the book. It’s also good to have this be my Mama Bear project because this is where I boss the world around, tell the world what it isn’t doing correctly and make the world feel guilty about not leaving me more comments. Seriously, the world should finish college and lose about 40lbs.

Baby Bear
Twitter. Where they demand that you write everything in 140 characters or less. I have sentences that are longer than 140 characters. If there’s one thing that Twitter has been good for is that it teaching me brevity. I’m learning how to be interesting in short bursts and how to edit thoughts down. It’s killing my vocabulary, though. Or maybe it’s improving it. I’ll admit that I’m a fan of the ten-dollar word. How can you not love words like ‘salacious’ and ‘cumbersome’ and ‘Muscovite’?

So, like any crazily crafty woman I’m continually bouncing between these three bowls of porridge. As a writer I’m really marvelling at this great gift. For all of the drawbacks and vales in my life, I’m honoured that God saw fit to put my span of life in the time where writers have so many delicious avenues for exercising their craft. I think of the poor folks who were writers in the days when paper was scarce, ink scarcer and audiences nil. I’m truly blessed. But boy…am I ever gonna get that novel published?

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I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have private health insurance. That means that I am being given pain pills, but I’m also being given medications called “DMARDS” or Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumetic Drugs. While there is no cure for RA, there are treatment options like Methotrexate, Remicade and Enbrel which slow the progression of the disease and give RA patients a much greater quality of life.

I have a friend who has a similar disease but is on a form of government-sponsored health care called TennCare. Created in cooperation with then VP Al Gore as a model for the type of Health Care proposed by the Clinton Administration, TennCare has been up and running in Tennessee for years now. It was heralded as the answer to prayer by all the folks who found themselves unable to be insured by traditional health care providers. A lot of those people were–like me–suffering from AutoImmune Disease.

My friend on TennCare is not given any DMARDs. She IS given piles of pain pills…as much Vicodin as she can handle. While I’m able to occasionally do the grocery shopping, she spends much of her days in a haze, fighting a losing battle against pain.

Because, you see, Vicodin is a lot cheaper than the medicines that actually control the disease. You could take 300 pills of Vicodin a day and still not come anywhere close to the cost of the drugs which actually modify your disease. And since TennCare is costing Tennesseans so much money already, they aren’t really eager to prescribe the expensive stuff.

I happen to think that it’s no coincidence that Tennessee leads the nation in number of Vicodin prescriptions. Many of those are going to TennCare patients. The characterisation in a lot of circles is that those TennCare patients are junkies who resell the pills on the street. No one wants to admit that the TennCare patients are being given “shut up and go away” drugs in lieu of actual, more costly, treatment.

If TennCare was created as the model for a National Health Care system, don’t you think it’s time that we as a nation take another look at how TennCare is working in the lives of real people?

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