Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Subversive Librarian's Rules of Civil Engagement

Gee whiz, people. The level of discourse on some blogs has gotten alarmingly low. It's mean, nasty, and very often devoid of logic or relevance.

But hooray, help has arrived! I present to you my four (so far) rules of civil engagement, complete with links to examples. You'll see that most examples are from Cynthia Tucker's blog at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning  journalist who, for some reason, seems to bring out the worst in people. It's a goldmine if you're looking for obnoxious responses.

Here are my rules (so far): 

1. Making up names for people ("Obozo"), organizations ("Rethuglicans"), and philosophies ("Libtards") doesn't show that you're clever. On the contrary, it tells us your debate skills are severely limited, and name-calling is the best you could do. Exceptions: "The Bush" and "wingnut" are okay because, well, I happen to like them. And anyway, it's my blog. So there.

2. Sweeping generalizations, often accompanied by words such as "never" and "everybody knows," are a pretty good indication that the writer doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

3. If you are constantly accusing someone of race-baiting, chances are excellent that it's YOU.

4. Making judgments about a person's looks, or about someone's masculinity or femininity, doesn't make you smart. It just makes you an asshole. Even if you're making fun of Ann Coulter.

Got a rule of your own? Feel free to add it below. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Thursday: Way Trippy Old Band-Aid Commercial (1959)


In which the Subversive Librarian inches toward armistice...

It's been a long one, this lonely, futile little war against my body. Fifty years, and then some.

I’ve been at odds with it since I was a baby. When I was two, and I sucked on my thumb, I would rub the top of my nose with my index finger until I bled; so in my toddler pictures I've got a bright-colored bandage stretched across my nose. One day it might be navy blue with white stars; the next, perhaps, a red one instead.

But that was just the opening skirmish. As I grew up and grew older, the battles got fiercer and the stakes got higher. I never allowed myself to contemplate surrender, not for a second. My body was my adversary, my tormentor. My body was, I thought, the perfect mirror image of my soul, advertising to the world everything I couldn’t bear to face in myself. It betrayed me again and again, revealing what I thought was my true essence: ugly and useless, fat and incompetent and hopelessly clumsy.

And truly, some of this is grounded in fact. I am unathletic in the extreme. No matter how long or how hard I’ve tried, I’ve never been able to do a single chin-up, or get on a horse by myself, or climb gracefully onto a stool, or look even marginally decent when I dance. No matter what my weight, nothing physical comes naturally to me.

Sometimes, when I watch a dancer lose himself in his art, or I see a skier traversing in the crisp sunshine, or I watch a kid run down a soccer field, I try to imagine what it must be like to be one with my body, to take joy in it, to just let it fly. That freedom has always eluded me, except in my imagination and the rare fleeting moment.

So I've spent more than half a century trying to figure out what to do with this foreign body. I've ignored it, neglected it, stuffed it, and starved it. I've binged on food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, spending, television, and most of all, an endless stream of self-loathing. I’ve denied it baths and clean clothes and routine hygiene. I’ve picked at my face like a crystal meth addict. Hell, I haven’t flossed since I left my kid’s father. At some level of my subconscious, it must seem a fitting punishment for breaking up our family.

The physical scars from these quiet campaigns are now permanent and disfiguring. The human body can take a lot, but there comes a time when it just can't bounce back any more. Skin stops unstretching, scars stop disappearing, and you realize – too late – that you probably should have taken better care of this creaky old vessel when you had the chance.

Now there are consequences. The kind of consequences you have to explain to new lovers. The kind that make you wonder if there's any point in trying to salvage this sorry-ass wreck.

"We have ceased fighting anything or anyone." Yes, yes, I know. Acceptance is the answer. It’s been drummed into me by my mother, my sponsors, my friends, even by a voice coach: I need to embrace my body, just as it is. Then, and only then, can we make progress together.

Well, okay. After all, we’re going to be roommates for a while longer, this alien and I. So it might behoove us to try to reach some sort of peace accord.

I suppose, then, a hat tip to my body is in order: My body may not be elegant, but generally speaking, it’s gotten me where I needed to go. When I’ve taken care of it, it’s taken pretty good care of me. It has responded to proper care. It helped me figure out that I’m gay. And most of all, it granted me my greatest, sweetest wish: to become a mother. It did that very well indeed, and because of it, I believe in miracles. These are not things to take for granted.

So I will begrudgingly act as if I am grateful for every one of my physical attributes. I will act as if I view my body not an adversary but as an important part of this experience called life.

Someday, maybe I’ll really believe that my body is of god, and I’ll be able to love it just as it is. I’m not there yet. But because I am flat-out exhausted from waging this loser of a war, it’s time for me to surrender.

So today, I will floss. Tomorrow, too. And perhaps the day after that, I will dance.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where the Hell is my Country?

I am lost, and I am searching for my beloved United States of America. You know,
the one that believes in freedom of, and from, religion. The one where
traditional family values include compassion and charity. The one with the big
harbor, and Lady Liberty, and the inspirational words of Emma Lazarus.

We have lost our way as a people. That much seems clear. What is not at all
clear is whether we will find our way back to our core values without great
social upheaval or, perhaps, something much worse.

From history we know that silence in the face of bigotry and injustice equals
complicity. Therefore, I believe that as an American patriot it is my obligation
to speak out now. I realize I have only a few readers, but that doesn't diminish
my responsibility.

So, to anyone who may be listening (and I sincerely hope someone is), I make the
following declaration:

I, Lynne Rhys, for whatever it may be worth, condemn the planned burning of the
Koran. I would similarly condemn the burning of Christian Bibles, Torahs, or any
other sacred writings.

I support the construction of an Islamic community center two blocks from Ground
Zero, whether or not it includes accommodations for other faiths. I respect
Islam just as I try to respect other faiths, because I believe that there are
many paths to Truth.

I am proud to call Barack Hussein Obama my President. I believe him to be a good
Christian, but it would make no difference to me if he were a good Muslim. Or,
for that matter, an atheist.

I am Jewish, and I believe both Israelis and Palestinians have frequently
engaged in human rights violations. I support a two-state solution in the Middle

I condemn the use of violence for political ends, whether by (or against) Jews,
Muslims, Christians, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, or Keebler elves.

I am not afraid of immigrants or foreigners. Although I believe we need to
secure our borders, I support compassionate treatment of people who are
currently in the U.S. illegally.

As a white American, I do not fear people of color. I am not frightened of the
prospect of being in the minority. Regardless of our demographic makeup, we will
still be people first, and Americans second.

I am not afraid of Republicans, Democrats, socialists, communists, Libertarians,
or Marxists per se. I am not afraid of gays, lesbians, or the transgendered. I
am not afraid of pagans or witches or Catholics or Southern Baptists.

In fact, about the only people I fear are those who believe there is an "us" and
a "them." Even they only have the power that we, as a society, give them.
Unfortunately, we have given them a great deal.

I hope people who agree with me will leave comments to that effect. I also hope
people will feel free to pass this post on to someone else.

But in any event, I stand by these words even if I must stand alone.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lazy-Ass Librarian Thursday: I wish I'd written that.

Well, not so much lazy as frantically busy. At any rate, I wanted to share this very clever comment posted on Jim Galloway's Political Insider a few days back. Here's the link to it, but I can't resist posting it here as well. The comment, by the way, is a response to news that the population is no longer growing all that fast in our fair state.

August 26th, 2010
6:39 pm

No one wants to come here anymore because the agenda the republicans have put forth is incomplete. People will be flocking here once Republicans finish the job.

1. We have the microchip implant ban, but it does not go far enough. We need a strong bill that rids us of the Georgia Power Smart Meters that are secretly sending all our internet habits off to Washington. These Smart Meters are also transmitting our phone calls to Nancy Pelosi. Obamacare knows if you look up analwarts. These new meters must be banned.

2. Who would want to move here if you can’t bring a gun to church? Legislative action is needed now to bring this much needed security into our sanctuaries of worship.

3. Abortion Billboard Act must be enacted now. Any woman that wants an abortion should be forced to rent a billboard with a picture of the fetus prominently displayed on a major highway or freeway before being allowed to go through with the procedure.

4. We need to schedule anti gay votes for the next 10 years. Anti gay propaganda should not be limited to the Republican governor primary season every four years. This is a family values state.

5. Lets get rid of the Mexicans. And Muslims too. We’ll show our tolerance by letting the Catholics stay. (However, caution must be used with the Episcopalians.)

If we stay on track we will be welcoming thousands of new residents yearly. God Bless.