February 2008

Well, my man Castro is stepping down. It is a sad day for socialists around the globe. For decades Fidel has shown us that socialized medicine works, and that while capitalism may be the best way to make money, the free market is definitely not the best way to ensure the welfare of all citizens. If you’re wondering why the US even bothered shunning Cuba after we won the cold war, just think about how much of a threat they were to us. Not militaristically, but idiologically. They proved that socialism works, so naturally we had to villify them to scare people away from their belief system. Quite succesfully, I might add. Socialism is now a bad word, and when applied to healthcare it is political suicide. Hopefully this will bring us out of our isolationist bubble, but who knows.
As I rode in to work for a meeting with big boss man at the completely unholy hour of 7 AM, it dawned on me that these are the only people awake at this time. The overachievers were out running, walking their dogs, riding to work and all the while looking downright chipper. I, on the other hand, had just finished write a dissertation prospectus not 4 fours before and was feeling zombie-like. In between freshly shaven professionals were bums awakening from the sleep of the dead and looking like it. In the park near my house, they crawl out of every imaginable nook and cranny when the sun starts to hit the horizon. Most of the time their pants are around their ankles and they are shirtless, regardless of how cold it is.

I’m trying to figure out just which side of the line I fall on but for the life of me I just can’t. I guess the reason for me being up so early puts me on the overachieving team, but man, if I didn’t feel like I had just crawled out from under a bush half clothed and semi-uncounscious.

In other news, our union and the university are currently in contract negotiations. The union asked for elimination of student fees for graduate students. We are, after all, the only employee group at the university that has to pay any fees, and we do 30% of the work there. Cheaply. The university’s counter offer was to actually RAISE fees. It’s going to be a long bargaining process. And it looks like we’re going to come out hosed in the end, particularly grad students with families, and even more specifically those with young children.

Listening to Talk of the Nation this morning made me want to bury my head in a hole. The topic was the republican primaries coming up and the party’s general state of diasarray and incoherence. They had a few repub. commentators on and were asking for registered republicans to call in and say who they were voting for and why. I’m fine with it so far, but when the calls started coming in I puked a little in my mouth.

There was absolutely no one voting for a candidate based on policies. It was all personal perceptions of the candidates as people, as in “Do I want this person to be my friend?” Typical responses were, “I just don’t trust him,” “He’ll do anything to get people to vote for him,” (duh) “I like that he was a war hero,” “He’s nicer to democrats than he is to republicans,” “There’s just something about him,” and the list goes depressingly on……..

To be fair this is not a republican phenomenon. It may actually be worse on the democratic side given the sex and race of the two candidates left. A few days ago Neil Conan squeezed out of a caller the fact that he didn’t care about policies, that he just couldn’t vote for a black man.

People, you are not voting on who will be your next best friend. It’s likely most americans will never see the president in person, let alone go bowling with them and sit up drinking coffee and chatting about life until the wee hours of the morning. It doesn’t matter how you “feel” about them. Look at their policies and decide if you agree with them and vote accordingly. The way they run the country while in office will have a much more lasting effect than the personal impression they leave. They are all essentially the same on the surface with minor variances. The facade they present is severely manufactured by handlers anyway. If you vote based on that you are being duped. Policies, people, policies.

As I was throwing away a paper towel in the bathroom at school today, I peered into the trash can to see the unmistakable shade of brown that dominates the academician’s uniform: khaki. Someone’s dockers had been defecated in. And they were in the trash. What I didn’t see though (knock on wood) is a tenured faculty member stealthily roaming the halls with no trousers on. I just want to know, why the bathroom? There are better places to disgard soiled clothing. Like your home. Sure it’ll be a hell of a bus ride for everyone sitting in a 10 foot radius around you, and you have to sit in your own excrement for the duration, but at least you won’t have to stalk the halls of higher education pantsless and humiliated.