Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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In Which I Explain to the Twins How Trump Won

The twins are very put out about the election. They cannot understand why Trump is President-Elect if Hillary won the popular vote. So here's how I explained it to two 6-year-olds (paraphrased and in brief):

"So, kids, let's say the first grade classes are getting together for a big party. The school is going to buy one big cake, but it has to be all the same flavor. The choices are Vanilla..."

Salem: "Yea!"


Salem "NO! No Chocolate!"

"It's Fine, it's not a real cake."

Salem: "Ok."

"And Strawberry..."

Jack: "They have Strawberry CAKE?"

"Yes,... Listening ears please. Now, each class has 11 or 12 kids, and everyone votes." (Filled in chart as below, explaining and asking them to do parts).

# in class
Class Winner


"Now, there are 46 kids, and 15 voted for Vanilla, 22 voted for Chocolate ..."

Salem: "NO!!!"

"It's ok, just wait for it, and 9 voted for Strawberry. Which one wins?"

Jack: "Chocolate!"
Salem: "Nooooooo!"

"Listening ears, please. Now, if everyone's vote counts, then Chocolate wins. BUT that's not how the Presidential election is done. It's like this: instead of counting all the votes, each class sends a teacher to the office to tell which cake won the vote in their class. (filled in the Class Winner column) Which flavor wins?"

Salem: "Vanilla! Yea!"

Jack: "That's not fair!!"


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Found Items

This man had such an eye. Here are some of the things he used to sell at his store, which are now in his wife's collection.

 Gorgeous turtle mask face, onyx, silver, leopardskin jasper, turquise, and abalone, and mother of pearl on reverse.
Eagle head warrior.

 Eagle head warrior, Aztec, with mother of pearl, abalone, amethyst, and Silver.

 Jaguar warrior with abalone and silver, onyx and obsidian.

He had such a good eye for museum-quality stuff. From this Giant Obsidian with a gold sheen, 2 feet by 1.5 feet, artisan hand-carved Pakal profile, Aztec warrior, to this tiny malachite princess:

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Obama? Romney? Stein?!? New meanings in Bi-partisan politics

Jill Stein is running for president. She is on the ballot in 37 states plus DC, and running as a write-in candidate in 8 more. She is still attempting to get on the ballot in North Carolina, Nebraska, and Nevada. I don't know what's up in Kansas.

I'm voting for Jill Stein because I'm tired of all the bipartisan politics, as exemplified by the Commission on Presidential Debates' (CPD) refusal to acknowledge that she is a viable presidential candidate. She IS on the ballot in enough states to win the election. And since replacing her septugenarian running mate with Cheri Honkala, who "for the past 25 years has been a leading advocate for poor and homeless in America," the Green Party lineup is more stable. Honkala co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. Certainly she is someone who has fought her whole life to put people back in homes.

Of course I like an underdog; always have. I agree with what the Green Party stands for, nearly point-for-point. But more and more I believe that bi-partisan politics, with all its negative connotations, is exclusionary, centrist, and non-diverse. Journalists and the CPD are also at fault in perpetuating the bi-partisan contest, which increasingly excludes other "fringe" voices no matter how mainstream their belief system becomes. By excluding Jill Stein (and the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson and running mate James Gray, who are on the ballot in all 50 states and DC), the CPD is failing to embrace their task, to put all serious candidates on the dais for public inspection. Having her arrested at the Long Island debate reminds me of the most backward voter oppression this country has witnessed within its own borders. They deny the voices of a growing number of citizens by attempting to maintain polarized politics. And Journalists failing to report on Stein and Johnson as viable candidates, instead of just the sensational part of the story (the arrest) are guilty of modern yellow journalism: yellow by omission.

The beautiful thing about America is that we the people can still throw a wrench into party politics. We could all vote for Jill Stein, highlighting another huge flaw in U.S. politics, the electoral college. Because no way is the college going to vote for a candidate outside of the norm. Maybe if enough people vote for an "outsider candidate," we can highlight the issue of the electoral college, get the ball rolling on banning that, then run a truly diverse election. Then we can get down to actually having OUR voices heard.

Just a plan.

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.
~Oscar Wilde               

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and the Most Obvious Phallic Reference in Advertising, 2012 is....

iPhone 5! for "Physics"!

[Listen to the words. Follow the images. Pay particular attention to the skyline screenshot (penultimate screenshot).]

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Buccaneers Spirit

Have been enjoying the 1995 miniseries The Buccaneers, based on Edith Wharton's unfinished last novel. I am fascinated that Wharton based some of her characterizations on the (spoilers!) ill-fated marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt, Duchess of Marlborough. On the Wiki there is a copy of one famous family portrait of the great beauty and her family.

I've seen that enormous painting, in November, 2005, when we visited Blenheim Palace. At the time, Jon said:

"[The princely dwelling] seems a little thin justification for a World Heritage Site. It's a very nice house. The most exciting thing that every happened there was Winston Churchill's birth. (His grandfather was the 7th Duke.)"

As I recall, I was also excited by the portrait, which is by one of my favorite painters, John Singer Sargeant; his portrayal of Consuelo is aloof and surreal, as is the connection between Wharton and her roman à clef characters, the permanent residents of Blenheim.

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Is AWP Worth the price of admission?

I attended day one of the AWP conference today, and it left me wondering if I was wasting my time and money. Of course, it made me feel better to know that 400 people wanted to be here, but couldn't. Forfeiting the price of a ticket is definitely a waste.

Today I saw only two talks: What does a writer do all day? and What is normal in non-fiction?

Writers love to title talks as questions.

The former seemed like it would be an instructive tour through a writer's daily life, which is something I've been trying to grasp for decades. I had hoped it would answer my perennial question: "How do I get the seat of my pants into the seat of my chair, and stay there long enough to produce a novel?"

Instead, I was treated to an academe's view of how to stay afloat so one has the financing, support system, and health insurance to survive as a modern writer. Gone, apparently, are the days of wine bottles and selling roses to support one's art. Now it's all grants writing and writer-in-residence jobs that keep an author -- or an aspiring author-- busy all day. I was disappointed in the academic turn of the talk, but did glean some useful tidbits, mostly from quotes and just being in the room with a bunch of writers who would, like me, rather be on the other side of the bunting.

Perhaps I am a literalist in the truest sense, expecting someone published to hand me a winning writing schedule. Perhaps, too, a bit naive.

"What is normal in non-fiction" was more entertaining, if not more on topic. Mostly the authors spoke of their own writing life, a topic which might have been more suited to the first talk I attended. Still Bob Sachacosis was hysterical, and the authors did meander around the titular topic as they discussed their own successes. Not a plan to follow, but at least I gained a sense of what is possible, and the praise that might await me in blurb form should I get a book in print, ever.

To answer the question posed by this piece, I must answer yes. After all, what is AWP for me but an opportunity to get back in the swing, to find some motivating blurbs among all those books and authors. The sheer number of writers and books gives one hope, a paper sea of hope.

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Popular Excuses

It's hard to be a lone pamphleteer with a house full of babies. Because I spent all of 2010 either pregnant or mothering twins, I have slacked off on my blogging. If ever there was a good excuse for abandoning a fun but fruitless activity like blogging, it's twins.

Having twins, in fact, are a good excuse for many human failings.

"Oh, yes, you need to get me into the OR right now. I'm having twins."

"Excuse me, can I slip by you? I know this stroller's huge but I have twins."

"Sorry we're so late. Twins!"

In the future I see them being blamed for lots more failings ("Who has time for makeup with twins?") but I'd like to keep the scapegoating to a minimum. After all, I wouldn't want them to get a complex or something. Twins are complex enough. Though I am likely to continue using my favorite line on parents of singletons:

"So what do you do with all your free time?"

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