Riba Rambles:
Musings of a Mental Magpie

About the author: Elisabeth in early 2007, photo by Todd Belf
Elisabeth "Lis" Riba is an infovore with an MLS. This is her place to share whatever's on her mind, on topics both personal and political. [more]
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Saturday, May 20, 2006
So may you miss me
Posted by Lis Riba at 10:18 PM


I just found out that Actors from the London Stage were in Worcester in February, performing Merchant. And nobody involved knew to post about it in Bard in Boston.

I caught their Midsummer Night's Dream back when I was in college: five actors, minimal sets, and amazing quality. I've been dying to see them again ever since, so I'm rather miffed to have missed them again... :(

I signed up on their mailing list, so hopefully the next time they come to New England I'll have advance warning...

Just don't forget that anyone with a LiveJournal account (and LJ accounts are free and easy to get) may post to Bard in Boston, so if you know something of interest to the community, feel free to post an announcement.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
By the way...
Posted by Lis Riba at 9:11 PM

...I've updated my Rambles Reviews page to include theatrical reviews written by Ian. We're a team in this, so I feel I should showcase both our talents (and opinions), rather than hogging the spotlight.

Ian's reviews use a serif font and have a red border, so readers can hopefully see at a glance who wrote which entry.

Now back to the review of Love's Labour's Lost that I should be writing, instead of tinkering with my site...

Very tragical mirth
Posted by Lis Riba at 7:10 PM

YouTube video presents: The Beatles performing Pyramus and Thisbe.

Runs for about seven minutes. The sound is slightly out-of-sync at first, but don't let it distract you. It gets better as it progresses.

-- Via Such Shakespeare Stuff, which is chock full of interesting tidbits worth reading...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Posted by Lis Riba at 2:30 PM

Via Shadesong:

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.


Now, the article goes on to make the following recommendations: "...all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control." And, y'know, I'm for that. In that I just generally think that diabetics ought to keep an eye on the diabetes so they don't end up having to get limbs amputated. I think that's a common sense thing.

But the words "federal guidelines" and "pre-pregnant" are not just sending up red flags, they're sending out a fireworks show and a marching band.

I have been unable to obtain adequate medical care for my epilepsy because I am what they'd call pre-pregnant. As my neurologist puts it, I am a woman of child-bearing age. As such, they flat-out refuse to try me on any medicines other than the ones proven least likely to affect a fetus (read: the ones that are paying off my neurologist). Despite the fact that I have declared my belly a no-fetus zone.

My neurologist does not trust me to not get pregnant. My neurologist puts a potential fetus's potential health over my health.

And now the government wants to officially sanction that.

Oh HELL no.

I should not have to get my fucking tubes tied in order to not have seizures and/or get medication that at least doesn't have me dropping weight. (90.5 on the Craftsman's bathroom scale; even taking into account that it's a different scale from my doctor's, it's a significant enough difference that I have to look at it. I'm 89 on my scale right now. Which slips, but - still.) To get off a medication that's caused what's essentially a whole-body crash.

Before this sounds like alarmist rumor, I'll point out that the initial quote on the federal guidelines comes from The Washington Post.

And while I may not have 'song's health problems, I find this just as infuriating and insulting. As Salon's Broadsheet puts it:

Even when we're not pregnant, or have no intention of becoming pregnant, or have already been pregnant and are done having babies, we should make our theoretically possible but wholly imaginary fetuses our priorities.

This language sounds like the unholy lovechild of Orwell and Atwood.

Of course, the rationale behind these guidelines probably have to do with America's excessively high rate of infant mortality.

But that's because we have a sick and failing healthcare system that leaves millions of disadvantaged Americans without anything resembling the care they require. Almost 17 million women lack health insurance.

Pretending that we're going to solve this problem by instituting guidelines that treat women as baby incubators is not the solution. All it does is reinforce an attitude that problems women have with reproduction are the only ones worth worrying about. How about federal recommendations about using birth control to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases? How about federal guidelines that require doctors to talk to women about the dangers smoking, poor nutrition, unprotected sex, drug use, lack of exercise, and heavy drinking can pose for them, and not just their precious potential cargo?

This goes past slippery slope arguments and actually treats women as second class citizens.

I agree with Elias
Posted by Lis Riba at 1:45 PM

the Boston Globe needs better columnists. With all the great Boston-area bloggers, you'd think they could find some more original opinions...

Universal Hub summarizes McGrory's column:

Look at all the misery He's inflicting on the poor boy! McGrory writes today that life in Boston natually sucks anyway ("the female population wraps itself from head to foot in Gore-Tex for half the year"), and now it's just raining too damn much and he can't take the gloating anymore from ex-Bostonians living in better climes.

As Elias writes:

This would be funny if it wasn't so grim.
Downtown Methuen is under what four feet of water and all Brian can do is wail, wring his hands and complain about how the damp air is making his hair frizz?
Thousands of his fellow citizens are temporarily homeless or facing bankruptcy from flood losses, the Commonwealth is paralyzed and the North Shore has become an inland sea.
Yet all Brian can do is sigh and speculate that our current disaster is a consequence of some form of hubris discernable only to a city beat columnist...it might be the World Series win or John Kerry's loss, McGrory isn't sure.

And Elias isn't exaggerating here. Quoting McGrory:

Which brings me to one simple little innocent question: What did we do to deserve this?
Is it payback for the World Series championship? Was it the whole John Kerry for president thing? The Patriots dynasty?


And just for your information, Brian, I generally choose my wardrobe for practical purposes. The women of Greater Boston do not exist to be your eye candy! And if you're going to hold us up to those standards, then I'll just add that I notice far more flattering clothes -- including during inclement weather -- on women than I do in men. Why don't you start the ball rolling by inspiring androphiles by dressing to tittilate us. Otherwise drop the insulting double standards. Okay?

Mind you, not all Globe writers deserve opprobrium.

I was actually rather tickled by Derrick Jackson's web exclusive column today, contrasting last night's Bush address with the words of the President's father:

In November 1989, President Bush's father praised the fall of the Berlin Wall by saying, "It clearly is a good development in terms of human rights." He added, "We're saluting those who can move forward with democracy. We are encouraging the concept of a Europe whole and free ...... I don't think anyone can resist it, in Europe or in the Western Hemisphere."

In that Thanksgiving address, he also said, "Around the world tonight, new pilgrims are on a voyage to freedom, and for many, it's not a trip to some faraway place but to a world of their own making. On other Thanksgivings, the world was haunted by the images of watchtowers, guard dogs, and machine guns. In fact, many of you had not even been born when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. But now the world has a new image, reflecting a new reality: that of Germans, East and West, pulling each other to the top of the wall, a human bridge between nations."

In his call last night to send thousands of National Guard troops to the border between the United States and Mexico, the son once again failed to listen to the father. Bush is sending the Iraq-weary Guard to the border to mollify hardline conservatives who are building their careers around -whether they say this explicitly or not -- a brown invasion from the south.


Militarizing the border, or building the proposed 700-mile wall, cannot possibly be serious solutions, when everyone knows our economy thrives off the labor sneaking across it. Bush would be better off figuring out how much labor the United States needs, figuring out a way to making it legal, and working with Fox to improve the lives of Mexicans in Mexico so they will not want to flee.

His dad seemed to have understood that when he told the United Nations in 1992, "In the face of today's changes, with the loss of so much that was familiar and predictable, there is now a great temptation for people everywhere to turn inward and to build walls around themselves: walls against trade, walls against people, walls against ideas and investment, walls against anything that appears new and different. As the Berlin Wall fell, these walls, too, must fall. They must fall because we cannot separate our fate from that of others. Our peace is so interconnected, our security so intertwined, our prosperity so interdependent that to turn inward and retreat from the world is to invite disaster and defeat."

Road rules
Posted by Lis Riba at 11:30 AM

BTW, has anybody heard when Route 1 might be reopened?

Features we'd like to see...
Posted by Lis Riba at 11:22 AM

MapQuest Driving Directions offer options to "avoid highways" and "avoid tolls"

They need to link their road networks to topographical maps and include the ability to "avoid low-lying streets"

Obviously, it wouldn't be a perfect solution -- can't predict sewer breaks or wider road closures, but it would be a help...

I mean, people have already done mashups of Google Maps to show rising seas from global warming. Is this much more complicated?

[I've been working from home for the morning, but may try to head into the office for the afternoon.]

Drip, drip, drip...
Posted by Lis Riba at 8:40 AM

If you haven't heard, ABC News bloggers reported yesterday morning and confirmed last night that the FBI has been seeking phone records of reporters.

Scarborough pointed out the obvious: "Had this alleged power been used during the Nixon administration, Deep Throat would have been exposed before Watergate erupted."

Atrios reminds how members of the news media "freaked out for months over Fitzgerald's careful, last resort, by-the-book questioning of journalists. Will the Bush administration's ‘fuck it, we don't need no stinking courts’ approach inspire any such response?"

Meanwhile, regarding Republicans' "exploiting the issue of immigration for political gain," a few tidbits of information you should know:

  • Georgia10: Last year, the President revealed his position on border security when he chose to fund just 210 of the 2,000 border patrol agents required to secure the Mexican-American border (the overall plan approved by Congress was to have 10,000 agents funded over five years; a goal Tom Ridge called "fool's gold").

  • Digby quotes right-wing bloggers on eliminating the Mexicans from our country:
    Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn't possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don't speak English and are not integrated into American society.
    It's not Godwin if they make the Nazi analogies themselves. [Dave Neiwert connects the dots to the firebombing of a Mexican restaurant...

  • Dave Neiwert notices an even more "disconcerting note" in the President's address. Bush said:
    "For many years, the government did not have enough space in our detention facilities to hold them while the legal process unfolded. ... We have expanded the number of beds in our detention facilities, and we will continue to add more."
    As Dave explains: "It's more than likely that the Halliburton contract to build new detention facilities for a potential ‘immigration emergency’ is going to come in terribly handy here. Concern over these centers is no longer simply a matter of wearing the tinfoil hats."

Do we know what's going on in our own country any more?

Monday, May 15, 2006
For the rain it raineth every day...
Posted by Lis Riba at 8:08 AM

Good news: Our basement is dry. We bought a house near the top of a hill and were not among those affected by the storm drain problems that hit our city. [News story and watch the video on "Melrose flooding" -- some of those scenes are about a block from our house; I hope the library's okay!]

Unfortunately, checking SmarTraveler, every leg of my commute appears to be flooded out -- including most alternate routes I could take. WBZ radio reminded commuters that the governor did declare a state of emergency... Officially, my employer is open for work today, but with a notice that "[i]f you are unable to get to [office] due to road closures, please call your supervisor." I've already emailed my manager.

[Official HR policy states: "If the office is open but an employee chooses not to come in, they will not be paid. Only the Division General Manager has the authority to decide if the office will be closed." I may be able to do some work from home today, but hopefully I'm covered...]

BTW, if the rain looks like it's going to last for forty days, I'm thinking to emigrate...

Update: Shortly before 9am (office hours start @ 8:30), a broadcast email was sent closing the offices for the day. Phew!

Sunday, May 14, 2006
What might've been...
Posted by Lis Riba at 12:10 PM

Run, don't walk, to Crooks and Liars to see the video of Al Gore on last night's Saturday Night Live. If you can't play the video, at least read the transcript...

BTW, regarding the baseball commissioner "joke", read Tristero's excerpts of the October 2000 Gail Sheehy profile on Bush.

"I would have guessed that when George grew up he would be the commissioner of baseball," says [Bush's childhood best friend, Doug] Hannah. "I am still convinced that that is his goal."
One assumes that this close pal of the Republican presidential candidate is speaking with tongue in cheek. But no. "Running for president is a résumé-enhancer for being the commissioner of baseball," he insists.

Some good news after last night's pessimism: rumors are seriously flying that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has indicted Karl Rove. TalkLeft has been trying to weed out what's going on. Also, Fitzgerald's latest court filings have been shining a spotlight on Dick Cheney (Josh Marshall).

Looks like the house of cards is starting to collapse. Hopefully, it will happen in time to stop further devestation.



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