Wednesday, June 27, 2007

an open letter to Fred Thompson

Dear Senator Thompson:

[Query: is that the proper form of address for an ex-Sen?]

I am one of those who have been hoping you would seek the Republican presidential nomination. I have read a fair number of your columns. I was excited by how often I agreed with them, and thrilled at the prospect that someone as articulate and straightforward as you appeared to be might have a real chance at the Presidency.

I sent a modest contribution, and here are some excerpts from the email I got in return.

"Now we’re moving forward together. . . . [I]f I do take on this challenge, we’re not going to do things the same old way. . . . We’re going to plow some new ground and make a real difference for our nation. . . . I believe there is a real sense across our country that we’re tired of the same old petty politics. Our fellow Americans want to see some real change."

This is the same type and style of politician-speak that I would have expected to see in a message from the campaign of Mark Warner, or Barack Obama, or who knows how many politicians past and present. It is stale. It is boring. It is fungible. It belies the very idea of "real change".

Please, Senator -- don't subside into this sort of sludge before you've fairly begun.

Sincerely, Karen A. Wyle, would-be actual supporter of a Presidential candidate

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The defeated inflating the victory -- campaign finance decision

OK, I'll post about a legal topic for a change -- though not in a particularly lawyerlike manner.

I've been looking at articles and posts about the USSC's latest 5-4 decision on campaign finance regulation. A couple of articles or posts (I don't remember which) are making this out to be a great victory for opponents of such regulation. Count me as an opponent -- I think political speech like "Vote for Joe and against Jack" is exactly the kind of political speech that the First Amendment is intended to protect to the fullest possible extent. And as an opponent of regulating political speech, I don't think the Roberts opinion, at least, is a great victory -- it's just a lot better than a defeat. It improves the status quo ante; it includes some good language that could have been used to greater effect; and it provides a wink-wink-nudge-nudge loophole of adequate size. Call me a grouch, but I consider it demeaning to have to phrase a political ad in a particular way to get it past censors.

UPDATE: I should read the opinions before commenting further, but here I go anyhow: SCOTUSBlog paraphrases Roberts as saying that "[th]e case did not provide an occasion to revisit [the 2003 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the federal law restricting such radio and TV ads close to elections]." IMHO, cases provide such "occasions" when the Justices want them to. As did three of the Justices in the majority.

to waterproof or not to waterproof (mascara)

Setting the scene: most of my life, I have thrown on any old schlumpy clothes and worn no makeup. I have had a few form-fitting tops here and there, and even a very few dresses (well, I remember one, actually -- I wore it to high school graduation under my robe). Somehow, some months ago, watching What Not to Wear and hanging around my younger daughter added up to a critical mass, and I started an amateur makeover project. My folks got wind of it and added funding -- and I've been having a blast clothes-shopping for the first time in my life. I've gotten a number of nice comments (and some bemused expressions) on my new look, though I am still finding my way with a fair amount of fumbling. I'm particularly tentative where makeup is concerned.

As a makeup newbie, I have decisions to make. One is whether to use waterproof mascara. Pro waterproof mascara: I cry over country songs in the car. Con waterproof mascara: I may end up with indelible interesting and unintended designs around my eyes and elsewhere . . . .

While it can't solve all my petty makeup problems, I love reading this makeup blog.

BloomingtonGirl, are you sorry yet that you urged me to post more often? :-)

Too Short the Fireflies (cue sappy music)

I think the amazing firefly season may be over. When I walked the dog last night, I saw hardly any. Reminds me of when I first saw daffodils, visiting England in the spring of 1976. I didn't realize how briefly they'd be around -- I thought I had all the time I could want to savor them. This time I knew it wouldn't last too long, but really didn't know when it would end. I was hoping for another few weeks at least. At least I hauled the girls out to see them once.


I haven't been a particular fan of many musicians or bands, though I've had various non-exclusive favorites over the years. But I am pretty near jump-and-squeal territory where DAUGHTRY is concerned. (I understand that all-caps designates the band, as opposed to its raison d'etre, Chris Daughtry. He's the primary reason I love their sound, but he picked a great band.)

I was rooting for Chris D. to win American Idol, but cooled off when he got too full of himself. I wish I could somehow test my guess that he was voted out because he bragged about how female fans wanted to know what type of underwear he wore. Now there's a way to turn off quite a few of your female fans and most of your male fans . . . .

Younger Daughter and I went to see the American Idol finalists perform at the 2006 Indiana State Fair. We were at the very top of the bleachers, which had the sole benefit of letting us stand up without blocking anyone's view. When Chris Daughtry performed -- and he is one hell of a performer -- it was the closest I've had to a rock-concert experience. (I had about the tamest youth of any late baby boomer you'll meet.) We stood up and hollered, and I waved my cellphone! (blush)

So I have five of his songs on my ipod, and I crank 'em up when they come on. I hate to think what he'd think of an over-50 fan doing the fan thing at his concert. But what the heck.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The fireflies are still spectacular -- far more so than any summer I remember. Walking up our street is like walking uninvited into fairyland, hoping for welcome. Fireflies all through the trees, high and low; fireflies floating by in the air; fireflies on the path....

UPDATE: Younger Daughter loves fireflies, but doesn't much like walking after dark. Still, I thought that this she had to see. I coaxed her outside and held onto her while she braved the dark street. She was impressed even by the first few scattered fireflies we saw, and utterly awestruck by the full display in the trees. She cried because it was so beautiful, and because it might be the only time she would see the like....

We went and got Older Daughter, who doesn't voluntarily venture outside that much by night or day. She was also highly impressed. I believe she summed up her reaction with "Holy crap!!!"

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


There is something going on with fireflies and trees lately. When I walk the dog after dark, it's not a matter of waiting for the occasional firefly sighting. There are fireflies all through the trees, flashing in beautifully random patterns, like Christmas lights escaped into the wild. They seem as likely to be signalling to the stars as to the glowworms in the grass below. Watching as I walk, I can't tell from simple observation whether any of the stars are flashing back.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Soylent Green is -- a good movie

We belong to Blockbuster Online, and even occasionally watch the movies. Usually I have to unearth the current selection from under a pile of notes and grocery coupons, but I haven't yet actually lost one. Elder Daughter requested Soylent Green, and I put it in the queue, vaguely expecting it to be clumsily made, over-the-top if not cartoonish. I don't know why, except that I had occasionally heard people hamming up the movie's final line (can't tell ya -- it's a spoiler).

Turns out it's quite a good movie. Charleton Heston stars in what is NOT a one-note performance. There are a number of nice cinematic touches. I choked up twice, which is not unprecedented, but doesn't happen all that often. (Listening to country music, that's different. I tend to be sappy about that.) I also appreciated little bits of consistency -- after our hero gets the unheard-of chance to take a shower occasionally, he looks much less grubby for the duration.

Younger Daughter had heard the last-line spoiler several times, but still didn't put things together, so she got to experience the movie's intended big surprise. It was great fun to watch her mouth drop and her eyes go extra-wide.

UPDATE/P.S.: The movie's assumptions about the future -- population explosion, massive environmental degradation by early 21st century -- are very wrong indeed. Husband (Hoosier Gadfly) often has difficulty enjoying movies with whose political assumptions he intensely disagrees, but he managed to enjoy this one.