Sunday, November 23, 2008

Studs Terkel and This American Life

I am listening to a This American Life episode with Studs Terkel interviews. He was adept in getting great stories from people. This particular episode is dealing with the Great Depression, his most famous topic. The production was "A Gathering of Survivorsr: Voices of the Great American Depression."

One of the last women he interviewed was talking about how she found out President Roosevelt had 80 cufflinks; some ruby, some emerald, some diamond. How could one person have so much while so many people are starving, she thought. Amazing. There are so many people like that out there, that feel that way, especially now, and yet socialism is still a bad word. "Sharing the wealth" is such a bad thing.

I think it was the same woman who was later talking about how she came to understand that Black people were the same as White people. She said that after the Great Depression, there was a lot of propaganda dividing Americans. Yeah, you all went through all this terrible poverty, but you're white, so you're better. One of her realizations was of gender. She saw a huge white man slam the door in the face of a grocery clerk, a black woman, as she took his groceries to his car for him. She cursed him off, and it was one step towards this realization that a certain kind of people aren't different or inferior or superior than another kind.

I love This American Life. I cannot help thinking that if more people listened to this show, we would live in a different world. Maybe that's not true. Maybe people could divorce what they hear from what they live. But maybe, just maybe, it would make one person change their behavior towards those less fortunate or in positions where they have no power to change their situations, controlled by a machine much larger than themselves.

Maybe that will be one of the lessons of this "minor" economic downturn. People are losing their homes, their livelihoods, their cars... do you think that they will realize that the important thing to do is to stick together?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From the Annals of "Duh" Science...

Thank goodness for stories such as this one from NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday. "Happy Tunes Make for Healthy Hearts." Apparently, listening to upbeat, "joyful" music releases endorphins and dilates the blood vessels, allowing for better blood flow to the heart, much like exercise. Woah, really?! Happy music makes you happier and therefore healthier?? You just freakin' blew my mind! Who woulda thought?

In other news, this afternoon, I signed this pledge to repeal Prop 8. It won't happen, but it's apparently being decided by the California Supreme Court even as we speak, so something will happen indeed. The post includes a comment from Keith Olbermann that he recited on his show last week that was really quite amazing. I have embeded the video from YouTube. Feel free to check it out. I nearly cried. Had I not been at work, I would have done so.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

At Least Someone Can Laugh About It

Gays Less Popular Than Farm Animals, More Popular Than Criminals

Happy, With Caveats

I'm so psyched for Barack Obama. Really, I am. And I'm very optimistic about the direction of the country with Democratic control of House, Senate, and the Presidency. Plus, the defeat of all of the anti-choice ballot initiatives and bans is icing on the cake of a great night.

I am, however, perturbed by the idea that a rich few can take away the civil rights of so many. This time, it's the rights of gays and lesbians in California. How long will we have to wait to have marriage equality? 10 years? 20? 50? Why do people care? Have gays been running around killing or destroying property after they took their vows? Homosexuality isn't a disease, it's not getting into the water, and it's not destroying the institution of marriage. DIVORCE IS.

My new motto is: "Protect traditional marriage. STOP DIVORCE."

And no, I don't mean no one should get divorced. There are plenty of people who have and should be allowed to do so. It's just crazy that people can be so afraid of something they cannot even see, touch, or hear. "Oh no, not another married gay couple! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!"

Thus, my happiness for President-Elect Barack Obama is heavily tempered by my disgust with intolerant Americans.