The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.

11.18.2006

Jibber Jabber

Okay, I know, I know... I haven't posted about abortion, same-sex marriage and my take on ethics vs. morals, as previously promised. It's the weekend people, give me a break. I've stepped off of my pundit soapbox. I may or may not step back on it.

For now, in the spirit of Saturday silliness, I bring you The Mr. T Virtual Playset.

For more Mr. T fun, check out this video, in which the big T stretches muscles he "never knew" he had and strikes the goddess pose. It's guaranteed to crack you up and perhaps creep you out. "First name Mr. Last name T." Indeed.

Oh, and keep the jibber jabber to a minimum.

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add to kirtsy | 10:34 PM | 3 comments

11.14.2006

More racist or sexist?

Last night James** and I were discussing who would be more likely to get the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008: Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. We wondered if Americans would be more willing to put the first woman or first non-white in power (Obama's father was a black African and his mother was a white American). I think that Obama has a better shot at it, personally. I just get the sense that sexism will be a bigger hurtle than racism. Besides, I think that Obama is just more likeable than Clinton.

Today I came across a post on the Salon blog called Broadsheet. It explores a Washington Post article by Wallace-Wells that asks, "Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?" Wallace-Wells writes:

While many Americans have a sincere sense of sentimentality and nostalgia for what Clinton may consider outdated gender roles, a much smaller number have that kind of feeling for racial segregation. There is the sense that, by electing a female president, the nation would be meeting a standard set by other liberal democracies; the election of a black man, by contrast, would be a particularly American achievement, an affirmation of American ideals and a celebration of American circumstances.

Later in the article:

Of course, the civil rights and women's rights movements of the 1960s have left vastly different legacies. No political figure would dare deny the saintliness of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Betty Friedan's name is a political dirty word. Repression of blacks was the stuff of massive state-leveraged cruelty -- the police dogs and fire hoses -- while repression of women in this country was made of quieter stuff: bras, aprons and constitutional amendments.

Both Broadhseet and the Feministing (another blog credited with tipping off Broadsheet to the story) take great offense at this description. Feministing puts it this way:

While the characterizations of the civil rights and women's movement are both generalized to the umpth degree...bras and aprons?! Bras and aprons?! Seriously?

It's nice to know that a movement that helped women obtain the right to control their own bodies, created a national discourse on domestic violence and rape, and challenged sexual harassment and workplace inequity (just to name a few accomplishments) can be reduced to two words--pieces of clothing, at that!--bras and aprons. Lovely.

While I understand the annoyance with such broad generalizations, I think that Wallace-Wells is expressing a commonly held idea of our national consciousness. Even some people who would agree that preventing domestic violence, rape, and workplace inequity are good moves may not be all that comfortable with the term feminism. The movement has a bad rep of being full of man-hating hardasses. Personally, I think feminism is simply believing that women and men are equals.

But I think that collectively, we're still uncomfortable with women in positions of power. We just don't know what to do with ourselves. We talk about what women politicians are wearing, as if that makes a different to their political plans. When a woman is strong and straightforward, we call her a bitch.

I'm not trying to make the argument that women have it worse than African Americans. It would take a good research study to determine which group encounters more obstacles. (Anybody know of such a study?) I just have a gut feeling that a man -- regardless of his color -- will win out over a woman.

**James thinks that Hillary will get the nomination and take Barack as her running mate, and that they will then become an unstoppable minority team. Interesting theory.

What do you think?

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add to kirtsy | 3:45 PM | 6 comments

11.13.2006

It's awfully quiet in here...

Is anyone reading this? I know that I have a small band of followers -- I mean readers. Why so quiet, friends? Is it because I broke the cardinal rule of polite conversation? I brought up Religion AND Politics. Oh my. But this is a blog, not polite conversation.

I have images of you reading this and shaking your head in dismay at my mixed-up, wayward ways. Are my opinions shocking? Poorly reasoned? Or is everyone quiet because you agree wholeheartedly and have nothing to add?

I'm not exactly encouraging heated arguments here, but I do wonder what the silence means.

Maybe I'll go on a blog-posting-strike until someone chimes in. Or maybe that's what you want! After all, in my last post I promised to write about abortion and gay marriage. Maybe you're all hoping I just start talking about my cats again. :)

add to kirtsy | 12:57 PM | 7 comments

11.09.2006

Would the "Christian Left" please stand up?

Allyson's comment on the last post got me thinking about something that I often rant about: Republicans and their arrogant claim to the "moral" issues. You know, like gay marriage and abortion. If you didn't know any better, those are apparently the big threats to our nation.

They don't often bother with pesky things like the environment or helping the poor. After all, God loves capitalism. And preserving the world we live in or helping those who aren't rich really go against the basic tenet of capitalism, namely, Getting More. More money. More land. More power. More. More. More. After all, that's our right as Americans, isn't it?

But if you believe that God created the heavens and the earth and all that are in them, isn't it your responsibility -- your duty, even -- to protect them? To be a steward? If your father built you a house, would you trash it?

And what about those poor people? We don't see a lot of lepers, destitute widows, or abandoned orphans in our society, but we see plenty of homeless people, the working poor, and families without health insurance.

Some conservatives argue that taking care of the environment and the less fortunate are important, but are not the duties of the government. But if we can legislate some morality, why not all of it? If you believe that abortion is murder and gay marriage is an affront to God -- and should thus be outlawed -- why can't we have effective government restrictions on pollution and government programs that work toward social justice?

Issues such as environmentalism, responsible government spending, and public assistant programs are considered platforms of the Democrats. So I ask: Where is the Religious Left? Where are the Christian Democrats?

I know that I'm not alone in my religious beliefs and political leanings. But where are you people?! I'm maintaining my stance as a political Independent, but it's time for the Democrats to reclaim some moral authority.

Earlier I asked, "...if we can legislate some morality, why not all of it?" There's a problem with that question. Should government legislate morality, or only ethics? Some may say that I'm splitting hairs, but I see a significant difference between morals and ethics (despite the Merriam Webster definitions).

Morals are determined by religious faith. Ethics are an inherent understanding of right and wrong. More on that, and how it impacts things like abortion and same sex civil unions, in the next post.

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add to kirtsy | 11:59 PM | 0 comments

11.07.2006

If every vote counts, why do I feel cheated?

Did you do your civic duty today? I guess I should have reminded you yesterday to vote today. Because unless you live on the west coast, the polls are closed. (Any chance that I have a secret west coast lurker reading this? I doubt it. I think the bulk of my audience is limited to a small smattering of folks in PA, OH, and NY. If you put all those together, they spell Paohny -- a pony made of baloney. Or bologna. Your choice.)

And speaking of meats made of fillers, is anyone else as disillusioned with politics as I am? I almost didn't vote because I have no confidence in anyone.

So I have a dirty little secret to expose: I voted along party lines. Egads! Yes, I voted for people simply because of the party to which they belong. Ironic, don't you think, given that I'm registered as an Independent?

I'm just so distraught over the current state of affairs in our nation that I hoped I could help to tip the power in the other direction enough to stop some of the madness. So there you go, yes, I voted Democrat. That means I voted for Bob Casey instead of Rick Santorum, even though Ricky was my college commencement speaker and I saw him one time at Lu Lu's Noodles in Oakland. Ever since his infamous and idiotic "man on dog" interview, he's annoyed and concerned me. I'm not sure that Bobby is really up to the challenge of being a U.S. Senator, but I'm hoping he can't do much damage. But then, that was my rationale for voting for Bush the first time around. I wasn't paying attention to politics then, and hadn't taken the time to learn about him or Gore. When it came time to vote in 2000, I mistakenly thought, "Well, Bush looks like the lesser of two evils." By the time the second presidential election rolled around, I was in "ABB" mode -- Anybody But Bush. Hell, I was ready to vote for Al Sharpton if he'd won the Democratic nomination.

But back to Rick and Bob. I saw a televised debate between Santorum and Casey and just kept thinking, "This is the best the Democrats could do?" It was sad, really. Listening to Santorum almost made me believe in him. I'm not sure if it's Casey's speech impediment or lack of focus that makes him look stupid, but he did not fare well.

But like I said, I'm hoping that having a few more Democrats in government will force the politicians to look for bi-partisan solutions and provide some sort of checks and balances on our apparently fearless -- and feckless -- leader. Or maybe it will just bring government to a grinding halt for two years. We'll see...

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add to kirtsy | 9:20 PM | 1 comments