Spurred on by always-a-friend Carina, who noticed I hadn’t given you notice of my friends and foes for February, here’s a hastily-written summary to catch you up to speed!
- Road trips. Gosh, making playlists is fun. Two friends (not the monthly kind, the permanent kind) and I are road-tripping to Florida in March to catch spring training baseball, and I’ve been forced to rediscover the joy of the mixtape. The five mixtapes, in this case. There’s one which is al(most al)l songs from Phineas and Ferb; there’s one which is all about New Orleans; and there’s another with a theme of whales. Yes, whales. Not the entire disc, of course, but thanks to Caitlin Miller I do indeed have a rockin’ song pertaining to whales and I decided to build a whole CD around it. This is music geek heaven.
- The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker. I’m only just over halfway through this massive book, but it’s a fascinating, hugely informative read, and well-written, too. Pinker’s thesis is that violence has been in decline through much of human history and is in its steepest decline now–that all the wars, failed states, and drug murders of today represent glorious progress compared to the past. His case is built with evidence the way Niagara Falls is built with water: it’s massive, unstoppable, and seemingly never-ending.
I’ve learned a lot of interesting side factoids from it, too. For example, Switzerland had a nuclear weapons research program for over 20 years.
- Putting creme de menthe in chocolate chip cookies. Trust me on this one, folks.
- Ryan Braun. Sorry, but I still think the National League MVP is guilty of using illegal performance-enhancing substances. I will wait for the written judgment explaining the verdict in his favor, but from this ill-informed point of view I don’t see why he was cleared.
- Parents who drive their kids to the bus stop, then have their kids sit in the car with them until the school bus is actually rolling up. C’mon, people. Save some gasoline and make your wimpy kids suck it up. Most of the time when I see parents doing this, it’s not even cold or rainy.
- Windows, apparently. My laptop no longer recognizes wireless internet connections. The Toshiba support people are worried that I’ll have to restore the computer to factory conditions. This doesn’t sound good.
Special Bonus Category: Frenemies!
- Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney. By rights they should be enemies, because these two men have plans for America so divergent from what I believe in that they’re repulsive to me. Mitt Romney, the iconic “one-percenter” whose tax rate is roughly equivalent to mine with a little help from the Cayman Islands, hopes to, as a top priority, create an economic conflict with China. One of the Obama administration’s signal foreign-policy achievements has been talking China into seeing America as a necessary colleague and partner. So naturally Romney, who plans to declare China a currency manipulator as soon as he takes office, thinks that “they’ve walked all over” Obama. That misread alone could, if it became policy, tank the economy.
And then there’s Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum lives in a world where George Clooney should not be kissing Billy Crystal on national TV.
Of course, Rick Santorum also lives in a world where all universities are “indoctrination mills,” public schools are a malevolent threat, feminists chase women into abortion clinics and careers, and Satan is coming to get America. He’s not really opposed to higher education; he’s opposed to education.
So what elevates these folks to the frenemies category? The Republican Party needs to wake up to the fact that many of its positions (including more or less every word they speak about social issues and income inequality) are going to lose it an entire generation of voters. Romney and Santorum, in their very different ways, represent all that is wrong with the party. So I find in them a slight sliver of friend–because they are so good at exposing much that is so bad. They’re muckrakers, by mistake.