Emerging from the basement where I am on flood watch, I went out to the dripping mailbox to fish out our soggy load of coupons, bills, and bank card come-ons, including the Pacific Gas & Electric Company invoice for the month of March. March, the “40 days and 40 nights” of relentless rain in which the basement flooded daily or diurnally, necessitating use of a portable pump, garden hose, and sponge mop on a 24-7 basis. March, in which my energy-saving scheme to enclose the leaky window frames on the inside with plastic sheeting and strapping tape turned the house into a sodden greenhouse for the perfect incubation of black and green mold. March, which last year was a false summer of 70+ degrees and sunny days.
March did us in. The good-hearted folks at PG&E, after passing on the screwing by ENRON and others to jack up the price of natural gas, took pity on us and promised a rebate on our winter heating if we would reduce our gas usage by 10% over last year. Thus the plastic sheeting. And the setting of the thermostat to 62% for night, 65% for day. Chilly, but cheaper. And the bills arrived for December, January, February: $100, $150, $175. Still, we managed to reduce gas consumption by 20% for January, 13% for February.
Then March came. Last year, during the “March Summer” we used very little gas. THIS March we doubled the gas we used from last March. So we lost the Rebate Gamble. Since PG&E averages the saved consumption for each month–comparing it to use the following year, we didn’t reach the 10% reduction in gas usage that would have gotten us a 20% rebate on three months of our energy bill.
So fuck you, PG&E. (and now, back to the basement….)
My friend EB sent me a note quoting Pinter, sure to enrage the jingoes:
> On the chance that you haven’t seen it already, here’s an excerpt from Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
> > I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers, but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man’s man.
> > > God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam’s God was bad, except he didn’t have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don’t chop people’s heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don’t you forget it.
My first glimpse of the latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court on the afternoon news revealed not just your usual power-suited Washington insider. First, the suit was a serene royal blue, not screaming patriotic red. Beneath the suit jacket, nominee Miers sported a demure “high-collared” silk blouse, also in royal blue. Could this be a fashion nod to exiting Supreme Sandra Day O’Connor’s “founding fathers” style ruched collar and cravat? Or is it hinting at strictly clerical leanings? The usual American flag pin hung on her left jacket lapel as well as some undistinguished piece of costume jewelry on the right shoulder. But my eye caught something new in neckware for the Washington power set – a dangling silver cross-on-a-chain. Prominently displayed, this wasn’t your demure gold Catholic-school girl choker. But neither was it large or gothic enough to be retro-Punk. Call it Conspicuously Devout, could Miers’ crafty accouterment be a clue to the true fashion tilt of the newest Supreme Court hopeful?
His choice–for saying “We have to think about whether we want to rebuild New Orleans” on the (Lehrer) News Hour this afternoon. Whaddya mean “we” Mr. Smarty Pundit?! Like, if a hurricane had destroyed Washington D.C. there would be a vote to decide whether or not it was wise to rebuild the nation’s capitol in a former swamp (wetland to the environmentally savvy). Like David Geffen would be told by George Bush’s FEMA Director (Army General, Air Force Captain, Monkey Cage Manager, whatever) that he couldn’t rebuild his whumpdazillion dollar Malibu beach mansion after a major storm because “it’s not safe”. So what if the California coast loses forty feet a year to storm waves and earthquakes and sudden “slumps”. So what if thousands of homes get burnt every year in wildfires. And the Mississippi (diked up and down the whole enchilada) floods its banks and millions of acres of farmland and river towns every few decades. So what if typhoons take out a couple of Hawaiian islands. Etc. Etc. Etc.
New Orleans is home to the people that want to go back and rebuild. New Orleans can decide for itself if it wants to be rebuilt. And David Brooks should just keep his smiley hole shut about what should and should not be done about rebuilding other people’s cities.
Saw this somewhere today – it’s sad but not entirely surprising (Masculinity Challenged, Men Prefer War and SUVs):
Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds.
Their attitudes against gays change, too.
Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.
The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey.
But the guys’ reactions were “strongly affected,” Willer said today.
“I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle,” said Willer said. “There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars.”
Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.
Full disclosure: I have a liberal viewpoint. That means primarily that I believe in taxes, free speech, and that Abraham Lincoln was right. And sometimes I wish The North had let The South secede. Then we wouldn’t have today a national leadership lording their prejudices over us from the legacy of a constitutional compromise. That’s the compromise that allowed any decision about American slavery to be put aside as the Founding Fathers hammered out a constitution that gave equal rights to states but not to people.
My liberal viewpoint might look to some like the outcome of my personal geography. I live in California. I was raised in an urban area (near San Francisco Bay), and I have a degree from the University of California, Berkeley. But I was born in the South. My mother and all the Briggs’s and Edwards’s and Turners before me were born in the South. My fondest feelings and memories are attached to my mother’s southern family and the places they lived and died in–north Florida and South Carolina.
But there is one memory that stands apart from the others of my beloved motherland. It is of me as a small child standing before a drinking fountain–the old fashion kind with a chrome bowl and faucet on a stand-up pipe–in the public park in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. I am thirsty and want to drink but I don’t understand a sign posted next to the fountain. I can read it but I don’t know what it means. “For Whites Only” it says. Does that mean I cannot drink? I ask my mother and she explains to me, for the first and last time, the meaning of the word “white” in America.
In the front pages of American newspapers this morning we are being reminded of just how far from the “whites only” sign on public drinking fountains we have not come. Maybe some will call it a victory that a member of the notorious terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, was convicted of “manslaughter” in the killings of three young men who were pursuing a calling to make it possible for American Negros in the South to register to vote. Two of the murdered men were “white.”
Also in our newspapers, probably not on the front page, is mention of the fact that our leaders in Washington, D.C. are calling for a major cutback in public financing of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which provides crucial funding for public television programs like Sesame Street. These same leaders have a very specific reason for wanting to cut public television funding: it promotes liberal “agendas” or ideas. And public television is what the children of America watch. The little ones. The ones that can’t yet read signs like the one posted by that drinking fountain in Jacksonville, Florida.
Public television programs like Sesame Street make visual and audible to the children of America the liberal viewpoint that ALL humans–not just “white” ones–are people to be loved, respected, and treated equally. Public television is predicated on a guiding principle that prejudice–in any form–should not be a part of its programming. That’s what being educational means. It means that there is a place in every home for children to see, to hear, and to feel what it is to be a loved, valued, and equal human being.
There is no other corporation in American that is committed to defeating prejudice in the hearts and minds of our children. That is why we should support Public Television. And because there is still a Ku Klux Klan