Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bias watch: Day 2

Dana Milbank makes an ass of himself in today's Post describing the woman who may be America's Next Top Jurist:
In selecting Sotomayor, Obama opted for biography over brain. As a legal mind, Sotomayor is described in portraits as competent, but no Louis Brandeis. Nor is Sotomayor, often described as an abrasive jurist, likely to be the next Earl Warren. But her bio is quite a hit. In Spanish, her surname can be translated as "big thicket" -- and that's just where Republicans could find themselves if they oppose this up-from-poverty Latina.
Who says she's not brainy? Well, no one that Milbank can name, but why let fact intrude on this lovely fictional narrative. Who describes her as abrasive? Duh, PEOPLE. You know, smart people, with titles and experience and everything. Just trust me on this, says Milbank. As I'm sure many folks will.

Let's make a song, shall we? Then we can sing it in response to anyone who claims that this brilliant, accomplished woman is merely Ghetto Barbie (comes with a briefcase!).

The song will begin:

Princeton U! Yale Law!
ADA for Morganthau!
Princeton U! Yale Law!
ADA for Morganthau!

Okay, that's more of a chant. No one ever accused me of being Bob Dylan. (Bob Dylans out there: help?) I am accusing Milbank of willful deceit, however, unless he can back up his demeaning, offhand assertions that there is nothing to Sonia but dark skin and a good bio. God, I hate this nonsense.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"... ladies."

A Cambridge student athlete has made it to the finals in the Miss East Anglia competition, precursor to the Miss England pageant. Is this more or less shocking than a Hispanic woman who grew up in the projects getting a Supreme Court nomination? Check out the picture below and weigh in.

This is a toughie. Let's hear comments from the peanut gallery:

"Slim women - not anorexic - look better than fat blobby women. Get over it. If that weren't true, people wouldn't prefer them, would they?"

An excellent point, since "people" do objectively "prefer" the slim over the blobby, and we know this from detailed examinations of everything since the dawn of time. Thank you, John Stern from London.

What about Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx: could she really hold her own on America's highest bench? Educationally, she has scaled some very high ivy walls, graduating from
Princeton University, summa cum laude, in 1976, where she won the Pyne Prize, the highest general award given to Princeton undergraduates.[7] Sotomayor obtained her J.D. from Yale Law School in 1979, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Still, surely there's a more qualified white man in the wings who is being overlooked simply for the sake of color? Again, speak, O peanut gallery!:

"This country has taken a dangerous shift away from the basic tenets of our Constitution , and instead of seizing the opportunity to right that ship, we get another poor choice designed to placate the masses.

Randy Barnett would have been a much better choice.

Unfortunately, being white and male,he didn’t have much of a chance from the start."

SO TRUE, SgNews. Btw, who is Randy Barnett?
the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Law at Boston University, where he served as the faculty adviser for the Federalist Society. He joined the faculty of Georgetown University Law Center in 2006. Barnett is a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute and the Goldwater Institute. ... In 2009, he drafted the Bill of Federalism, 10 proposed amendments to the US Constitution designed to limit federal power and strengthen individual rights.
In other words, he's the Ron Paul candidate for the bench! I can't believe Obama didn't pick him. Of course, it wasn't his Libertarian views, his involvement with the Federalist Society, Cato Institute, or Goldwater Institute that held him back; it was his sex and his race, which as we all know are a serious barrier to advancement in America.

For more, because there is always more, see here and here.

Honestly, I am as shallow, judgmental, and quick to stereotype as anyone else who has grown up in this flawed society, and both of these women strike me as eminently qualified for their positions. I wish them the best. With all this criticism from all sides, though, is it any wonder women say they are less happy than they used to be? (Also, did anyone running that study consider that perhaps women feel allowed to be more honest these days?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I am job (rather than Job)

I still don't know what I'm doing for the rest of my life, but I do know what I'll be doing starting in June. I will be paid money to work with artsy, lefty Jewish intellectuals in a non-profit on the top floor of a midtown office building.


Chris: How did I know it would be Jewish or Feminist?
Me: Well, all the gay male snarky jobs were taken.


For the third time in five years, I will begin a job on 6/15. Eerie, huh? The vernal equinox loves me like Barney, like Jesus, like a dog that's just been fed. The autumnal equinox is another story, of course. An R-rated horror story like Saw IV: The Sawiest Yet, So Sawy You Won't Have Any Fingers Left By The Time We're Done With You. Somehow I have offended the autumnal equinox and I have to figure out a way to make amends. Is it because I make fun of Christmas?

This job gives me all the Jewish holidays off!


Adam: So nice for you to have a chance to get in touch with your jewish heritage.


Meanwhile I will enjoy my last precious and increasingly warm hours of freedom, knowing, to my great relief, that there is some stability around the corner.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Can stress make you clumsier? In the last couple days, I've dropped things, stumbled, spilled water on a friend, cut myself in a very sensitive region, and nearly gotten hit by a car. The worst incident came at the end of my second interview yesterday. I bid farewell to the nice crowd of people who had been quizzing me, then strode gracefully through the lobby and straight into a glass door.

"Oh!" gasped the three women nearby. "Are you okay?"

I was, luckily. Nothing was broken: not my nose, not the glass. I did however leave a perfect kiss on the door, as though I'd planted it there on purpose.

In general I am not a klutz, because I am neurotic about not hurting myself. Even when I kid, I just sort of knew: Do this, and you could die; and as you don't want to die ere you become a famous writer, leave ice skating / roller coasters / black diamond slopes to the masses of future unknowns (or future deads). The closest I've come to a broken anything is when I twisted my ankle before my debut as Tzeitel in my 7th grade production of Fiddler on the Roof.

My mom took me to the ER, where a nervous young doctor fussed over me for a while and then finally took an x-ray. Several minutes later, he tracked me down in the waiting room and said, "I'm sorry, I messed up. Can we try again?"

The second time was also a flop, and he looked more pale as he asked for a third go-round. But when he came out the last time, he looked like he had just seen the Ghost of Christmas Future and it had told him his fate was to end up a dentist. He gestured for me to follow him to a corner a discreet distance from everyone else.

"You're not pregnant, are you?" he asked the thirteen-year-old me.

"Um, no," I said, wondering what the hell the x-ray had shown.

"Phew!" he said, the color flooding back to his cheeks. "Because we would have killed the baby."

Speaking of both clumsiness and inept professionals, the Daily News reports that an Arkansas state senator named Hedren has made an art of putting his foot in his mouth. First he called Chuck Shumer "that Jew." Now he's trying to make things right in the most hilarious way possible:
Defending himself again to the Arkansas News, Hendren went further, saying he didn't know why the words "that Jew" came out of his mouth. He added that there is a Jewish person he admires — Jesus. He's also partial to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I've been in DC for a while, being with and, to the extent possible, taking care of my father. He was hospitalized with pneumonia and sepsis last week, which, on top of the maybe-inoperable pancreatic cancer, seems like overkill. So to speak. He was released and sent home finally but remained very weak.

Yesterday, he called for me from his favorite chair and when I went in, he didn't need me to fix the TV or get him another Vitamin Water. He wanted to talk about his estate.

The only thing worse than thinking about death is thinking about the intersection of death and money.

Pots, books, jewelry, art. What did I want? What are things worth? How should they be sold? I started welling up almost immediately so he couldn't really look at me while he gave instructions.

"I'm sorry to make you sad," he said.

"I'm not crying," I retorted. "I've got heavenly dust in my eyes."

On Sunday, my mom heard from another woman in the building that there was a garage sale of sorts going on downstairs. She and I and Mr. Ben, who had come down for the weekend, all trooped to the fifth floor, where we found a tall, tired man selling his mother's things. "She was very smart," he told anyone who asked, while they picked up pillows or kitchenware. "PhD in Chemistry. Fluent in French."

The neighbors said, "She didn't suffer, God forbid?"

He said, "No. No, she didn't suffer."

I discovered I loved her jewelry. None of it was valuable, but it was eye-catching and funky. The rings fit me perfectly. Looking around, I could almost conjure up an image of this little Egyptian doctor, puttering around an apartment filled with rugs and tablecloths, books and colorful dishes. All three of us left with our arms full and our hearts overflowing for a man who had to spend Mother's Day watching strangers bear his mother's life away.

My father has always been morbid, so it is hard to know whether when he says he has "months" he can be trusted. The word blasted through me regardless. There is space between the words "sick" and "dying," important space, space I want to curl up in for the next decade at least. With a puppy, if I can arrange it, and maybe a child. The idea of losing a parent makes me irrational. I want the book published, a beautiful baby born, a bank account full of money to display, all to say, See? You don't need to worry. Everything's fine. Everything's fine. You've given me all I need already.

Instead of sleeping last night, I re-read Little Women and cried so hard this morning I had a nosebleed. But I'm okay. I'm trying to be okay. Please don't ask me how my father is.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Things Anemia Has Driven Me To

1) Toasted Oatmeal Flakes from Trader Joe's. Man they're good! I gave them up when Mr. Ben and I moved to Park Slope; we joined the Co-op, which is the closest I'll ever get to being part of Skull & Bones, and I started buying Puffins instead.

Puffins, though lovely, have no iron, while TOF are whoa-fortified. And delicious.

2) Avoiding sharp objects.

3) Femme pride. There's something dainty and sweet about being anemic, like having consumption. Maybe it'll make me sexier!

The doctor was testing me for something else entirely, but I was in exemplary shape except for being low on the red blood cells. This struck me as funny, as though he had said, "The government is doing great, except that the President has just been shot." I mean, aren't red blood cells rather the whole point? Aren't they what blood is made of? I don't remember too much from what I learned in high schools, except words like Hemoglobin and Platelets, but I'm pretty sure ...

Anyway, if I'm wrong, please don't correct me. I may be too delicate to handle it.