some stuff that happened recently

  1. I am soon to be in need of a new car and a new phone and some studio lighting, and B and I need a bigger bed. That’s a lot of expensive purchases that ought to be made, but before doing all that, we’re getting a dog. Not a replacement dog, an additional dog. Maude has always seemed like she could use an Evil Minion, and who am I to deny her? She’d make a great Overlord. We’re in the final stages of adopting a 5-year-old chihuahua with a history similar to Maude’s, and I’ll let you know how it goes. There will of course be pictures.
  2. I saw Shutter Island. It was beautifully acted and shot and the dialogue was good and stuff. The movie started out looking like it was going to be about WWII, post-WWII anti-communist sentiment, and the history of treatments for mental illness. Those are three of my favorite subjects! But then (no spoilers here) the movie turned into something else entirely, and I was disappointed.  It’s probably just me, though; I’m sensitive about how mental illnesses are portrayed in fiction.
  3. I went to whatever SXSW Interactive stuff didn’t require a badge. Which was pretty much everything I wanted to see anyway. I got to spend time with most of my favorite SXSW people and introduce them to B and Maude. I got to help pay tribute to my friend Brad and see 20×2 where they also paid tribute to Brad which made me cry, and so forth. Good times.
  4. Then I got a cold. This is unsurprising, as I went on a cruise for a week and then worked a lot for a week and then worked/partied for a week. So right now I feel like the critical-thinking part of my brain has shut itself off, which does me no favors at work or when I’m trying to write.
  5. Oh, yeah, and I WENT ON A CRUISE. I’ll have to tell you about that later because I’m pretty busy dealing with #’s 1 and 4. But it was a lot of fun and a lot of weird.

things that angry up the blood

Conservative Texas school board members are attempting to rewrite textbooks with a slant toward “conservative values”—evolution as just another theory, Joseph McCarthy as a stand-up dude, and civil rights as having been handed to minorities by whites. This is the money quote:

In late 2007, the English language arts writing teams, made up mostly of teachers and curriculum planners, turned in the drafts they had been laboring over for more than two years. The ultraconservatives argued that they were too light on basics like grammar and too heavy on reading comprehension and critical thinking. “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook,” grumbled David Bradley, an insurance salesman with no college degree, who often acts as the faction’s enforcer.

As you can see, there’s quite a bit of editorializing going on in this article, which is bad, but what’s worse is that it’s not even necessary. David Bradley and the others don’t need any sort of reporting slant to appear ridiculous. What also sucks is that pieces like this make people from other states think that everyone in Texas is like this. We’re not, I swear! Except that some of us are.

Silver lining: A person who is of the opinion that critical thinking is gobbledygook is bound to slip up sometime, right? Right?

H&M slashes big holes in the clothes they can’t sell and throws them out instead of giving them to someone who could use them. ARGH waste! ARGH consumerism! ARGH first-world bullshit! I’m not innocent of shopping for mass-produced clothing at big chain stores sometimes (though I’m trying to avoid it), but Jesus, that’s ridiculous.

Silver lining: One of my goals for this year is to make more of my own clothing. I’ve put myself on a shopping embargo* until at least April, so I’ll have to sew any article of clothing I want between now and then. I’m a pretty good seamstress, so I think I’ll be able to do almost anything. And then, unless fabric manufacturers start slashing and trashing their unsold products, I’ll stop being part of the problem.

Food, Inc. All of it. The whole thing made me angry**. And sad. And grossed out. A couple of times I had to close my eyes and wait for Brendan to tell me that some particular gross scene was over. There wasn’t a lot in the film that I didn’t already know (a few months ago I subjected Brendan to a lengthy rant about THE TRUE AND TERRIBLE COST of fast-food dollar menus), but seeing the actual conditions to which cows and pigs and chickens are subjected was a whole different thing.

I’ll admit that one of the reasons I’ve sort of stopped eating meat*** is Maude. I can’t think about how poorly factory-farmed animals are treated without picturing my little dog’s face instead of theirs. Maude’s been the best thing for my depression besides therapy and medical treatment, and imagining her at a factory farm makes me feel a little sick.  It’s not too hard to imagine, either, since she was rescued from factory-farming’s pet equivalent, the puppy mill.

Look, I know that it’s not accurate to compare dogs to chickens and cows. And I don’t even think eating meat in general is wrong. I just think that whether it’s eaten afterwards or not, I don’t want any animal to have such a shitty life.

Silver lining: Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to watch Food, Inc. without having a panic attack.  While watching it the other night, I was able to remain calm. Progress!

*Except for books. Books don’t count. Especially sewing books.

**Except that it was beautifully shot. That didn’t make me angry.

***On a normal day, I don’t eat any meat besides seafood, and then not terribly often. On special occasions—a fancy restaurant for a birthday, when I’m a guest at the home of someone who’s cooked meat, etc.—I’ll eat beef or poultry or whatever.  But after watching Food, Inc., I might change parts of this policy. The non-sushi parts, anyway.