Fun Laughs Good Time

Physical therapy is every goddamn thing you remember.

This morning, Pete’s cell rang just after 8. It was the sports medicine place. They’d taken attendance and marked me absent. We agreed that I was stooopid and would show up at 10:30 to prostrate myself before the substitute therapist, since mine is on vacation this week. Thus, I could hardly object when the substitute therapist asked if I’d mind letting a student practice on my stiff and creaky hip: I was late, and it was for Science.

So it was that a sulky student assistant wrapped my hip in something that created heat, a therapy instructor hovered nearby, the substitute therapist offered instruction and a tiny, smiling student named Ellen pushed and tugged and gently pressed my hip in a pattern to test flexibility and restriction. Sensations ranged between annoying and agonizing and my favorite teacher to student instruction was, “This shouldn’t hurt. Be sure to ask if it hurts.” Of course it hurt. Ellen was unsure of herself. If you’ve been through PT, you should know better than to tell your therapist something they’re doing hurts. They’re sadistic bastards and you’ll only encourage them. I made jokes and a break for the exercise bicycle at the earliest opportunity. Being on the bicycle feels like home. I crank up the resistance and watch the airplanes out of Newark and JFK fly south until the timer bleats urgently. This morning, that sad bleating meant Ellen sat next to the table I was on and critiqued my exercise technique. Any doubts I may have had about her when she cackled and squeaked, “Slower!” Over and over. Cackled. “Slower!” Ellen has real talent.

In My Heart I Do Believe

The other night, Pete, my husband of 5 to 25 with time off for good behavior, set up the turntable in the attic, where we on an almost nightly basis use ancient exercise equipment while watching Rocky & Bullwinkle. Thursday, Pete discovered the cats had rewired the speakers through some sophisticated use of tools and a fine howdyado; Pete had re-rewired the speakers with gimlet eye and spiteful so-there. In other words, you would not have believed the metaphor pileup when I climbed the stairs and sat down on the rowing machine while the turntable and the speakers blasted Pete’s favorite Pete Seeger record and Talking Union. The music was very loud until I cranked up the rowing and hollered the words to Which Side Are You On? The latter song is good for pacing and breath control, but while you are really exerting yourself, be careful singing We Shall Overcome, for one thing because you are going to think of some very serious shit and schlamiels in suits and inexplicably out of clown shoes. Get a load of the hot steaming stupid:

L to r: Johnson and Rhodes, both unclear on the concept of Non-Violence.

Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, posed that question at today’s Pentagon commemoration of King’s legacy.

In the final year of his life, King became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, Johnson told a packed auditorium. However, he added, today’s wars are not out of line with the iconic Nobel Peace Prize winner’s teachings.

This is what it sounds like when a true believer picks a name out of the Famous Dead People Hat and turns that famous person into someone he or she simply never was, but who approves of the true believer. This is like Tony Blair had hinted Gandhi went in for a little imperialist adventure now and then. This is like the American Cattlemen adopting Francis of Assisi. This is like the bishops saying Jesus wouldn’t mind a little child molesting. Dudes, if there was a Jesus and he was who you say he was, you are in the deepest of deep shit FOREVER, NO BACKSIES. And Mr. Johnson? What part of non-violence and economic justice condones war?

In King’s last speech in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968 – the night before he died – King evoked the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, Johnson noted.

According to the parable, a traveler was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Two other travelers passed the man as he lay alongside the road – one was a priest. Both ignored the man and continued on their way. Finally, a Samaritan traveling the road showed compassion and took the stranger to an inn and saw to his care.

In his speech, King drew a parallel between those who passed by the man on the road and those in Memphis who at the time hesitated to help striking sanitation workers because they feared for their own jobs.

Johnson said King criticized those who are compassionate by proxy, noting the civil rights leader told the audience in Memphis that night, “The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?'”

I hate to break it to you, Mr. Johnson, but helping striking sanitation workers reach an agreement for decent pay, benefits and working conditions is not the same as dropping bombs on defenseless civilians in a country that can’t be bombed back into a Stone Age that has yet to happen, and you simply cannot extrapolate from a speech about justice that the speechwriter would support an unjust and illegal war. Or you can, but please put on the clown shoes so we know you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a big thinker. You’re certainly not much of a comedy writer.

Volunteers in today’s military, he said, “have made the conscious decision to travel a dangerous road and personally stop and administer aid to those who want peace, freedom and a better place in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in defense of the American people.

“Every day, our servicemen and women practice the dangerousness – the dangerous unselfishness Dr. King preached on April 3, 1968,” Johnson told the audience.

…because if that’s not funny, perhaps it’s because hundreds of thousands of people have been administered to death, much like in that war Dr. King objected to in life.

With A Flower With A Flame

Some things only look complicated in retrospect. At the time, we mixed this stuff with that stuff, then mixed stuff with other stuff, then Pete mashed something flat and I stamped some things together. After that, it was all gently boiling water and frothing butter. One step at a time and it’s a cinch.

Homemade whole wheat beet and gouda ravioli with brown butter-pignole sauce. You should totally make this.

Pretend That I Am Weightless

We’re expecting snow again tonight. This morning, the physical therapist was stabbing me with an ice pick and panicking. I couldn’t actually see her, so I assume she was stabbing me with an ice pick, but she might have been massaging a particularly tender spot on the outside of my right hip. She said something astounding.

Angela: Snow days make me all stressed.

I’m pretty sure she said that. I might have been squawking like a jaybird at the time.

Sweetpea, unnecessarily anxious.

At first, I wasn’t sure what she was getting at, since she and I just met. She seems kind of normal. She wears nice sweaters. She’s got nostrils. I hesitated for a second and when I looked over my shoulder Angela’s face was kind of puddled up in concentric circles around her nose. Then I yapped happily quite a bit.

Angela stared off into the distance. “What do you do on a snow day?”

I believe I may have yodeled. I have no idea since I would never in a million years yodel, but someone was definitely yodeling. I also said on snow days I bake something, exercise, read, play with my cats, clip coupons, shovel for a few minutes and make piping hot beverages, shop online, dress up in costumes and play games, and as I blurted, Angela burbled along with me. Bake…read…shovel…play games.

Not at all the Hilton Sisters and their friends.

She didn’t sound convinced. I blurted some more about checking on elderly neighbors, getting a little upper body workout with a push broom, calling people you miss, writing overdue letters, catching up on a movie, putting on music and dancing, wearing bunny ears, repainting the bathroom, changing the batteries in your flashlights, staying off the road and having such a wonderful time you raise the pulse of joy in the universe. I’m certain I mentioned little sombreros for the pets, too.

Enjoying a snow day seemed like an entirely new idea to Angela. I filed that thought away for the future, when I will work on her overworked psyche while she’s working on my increasingly cranky hip. We have six weeks, starting today.

I Won’t Be Leaving Here With You


The Obama administration is currently drafting what it’s calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

“We are not talking about a national ID card,” Locke said at the Stanford event. “We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities.”

The Commerce Department will be setting up a national program office to work on this project, Locke said.

Details about the “trusted identity” project are unusually scarce. Last year’s announcement referenced a possible forthcoming smart card or digital certificate that would prove that online users are who they say they are. These digital IDs would be offered to consumers by online vendors for financial transactions.

Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. “I don’t have to get a credential if I don’t want to,” he said. There’s no chance that “a centralized database will emerge,” and “we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this,” he said.

Right, and if I don’t want to be gate-raped I don’t have to fly, either.

I’ve been thinking about this innocuous presentation since yesterday and it reminded me of a quote I read awhile ago:

“The ultimate goal is to get everybody in this world chipped with an RFID chip. And to have all the money to be on those chips, and everything on those chips. And if anybody wants to protest what we do or violate what we want, we just turn off their chip.”

The source of that quote was a review of the 2007 film called Zeitgeist – the Movie. It’s funny that I remembered the quote, since I can’t remember where I left my house, but I thought then and think now there’s a ring of uncomfortable truth to it.

If you think online identity verification by the same government currently persecuting peaceful protesters is harmless you are in for a world of painful discovery. This is very dangerous.

A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts

You don’t say, Mr. Scalia:

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don’t think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we’ve gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?

Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.

In that case, your services are no longer necessary. Please grab a gold watch on your way out.