Thursday, January 31, 2008


My last stop yesterday was in Cedar Rapids to visit three kids - I'm their guardian ad litem. The case is actually almost over, Mom and Dad have gotten their sh*t together and are meeting or exceeding all expectations, so I didn't have too much to do but talk with the kids a while and commisurate with Mom about her puppy-training experiences. I also meet her oldest daughter, who doesn't live with her and isn't involved in my case, but has been in the system herself. We trade anecdotes about court. After about 45 minutes, Mom has to change and leave to get to work, and I've got a ton of stuff to do. I get out the door, onto the sidewalk then wonder if oldest daughter is going to babysit, and if she's approved. I turn around to ask before Mom disappears back into the house, and my feet slide out from under me.

This isn't one of those minor stumbles, I had no hand out to break the fall or anything. That part of the sidewalk was a glassy, thin sheet of ice and I went straight up and back. I basically felt like my feet had come up about three feet in the air and my body was suspended for a moment completely horizontally, then dropped straight down . . . . smacking my head hard on the concrete.

I lay there for about a minute, not knocked out but not really able to think either. Not even a cussword, and that's saying something. When my brain started functioning again, I took inventory: Everything hurt, but nothing seemed busted. Was I bleeding? Nope. Concussion? I didn't feel confused or nauseated. Could I get up? Only way to find out was to do it. I slowly rolled myself up and got onto my feet. I looked toward the house, but it seemed the Mom hadn't seen it, so no embarrasment factor there. I carefully began picking my way back to the car, still doing a mental check for issues: Why do my ears feel all stuffed up? There's also this wierd ring of light in my left eye. Dammit, do I have a concussion after all?

After I got around the corner, a car stopped and a very nice lady asked if I was okay. She apologized for taking a while to turn around (it was a busy road), but said she'd seen me fall and felt she'd better come back because she didn't think I'd be able to get up. She asked me if I was sure I was okay. I reassurred her, with a little more confidence than I actually felt, and she drove off. By the time I got to my car, I decided I'd have to be late to rehearsal and get my head checked. Yep, minor concussion. Ouch.

Of course, it could have been worse.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I Presume

this is not to be taken too seriously. It sounds like they are trying to get as much milage out of the coverage as possible, poking at current conventions.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things I've seen on the 'Net recently

University of Iowa officials take note: A viable substitute for that whole "naming the medical college after Wellmark" thing?

Crack investigative reporting breaks the toilet paper scandal of 2008.

Bottle deposits and unused gift certificates - is this Iowa's new Dumpster-Diving Budget?

For the Geek bachelor party: Online stripclub mapping.

If you really want to know how that new haircut looks, ask a three year old.

Burmuda Triangle vacations in New York. CIA looking into law enforcement applications?

More useful Geek tools: the Magic Boss Key.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Theater Blogging

From Jeff over at Catalyst:

Save the Date for “The Who’s Tommy!”

Catalyst Acting Company and ACExperiment by Habeas Corpus will present “The Who’s Tommy” at the Englert March 14-16th.

Iowa City, IA – January 27, 2008 - For immediate release

Catalyst Acting Company and Habeas Corpus/ACExperiment announce their musical collaboration: "The Who's Tommy" directed by Jeff Shields, assistant direction by Rich Riggleman, music direction by Lyle Juracek and choreography by Mark McCusker. Performances will be March 14-16 at the historic Englert Theatre in Downtown Iowa City.

Production dates and times are:

Friday, March 14 at 8:00PM

Saturday, March 15 at 2:30PM

Saturday, March 15 at 8:00PM

Sunday, March 16 at 2:30PM

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets are available through the Englert box office. To buy tickets by phone please call the Englert box office at (319) 688-2653. Tickets can also be bought in person at the Englert box office, 221 East Washington Street, in downtown Iowa City, Iowa. Box office hours are Monday through Friday, 1PM to 6PM.

"Tommy" is Peter Townshend's tale of a young boy's journey from pain to triumph is the most electrifying evening of rock and roll ever to play in a theatre. After witnessing the accidental murder of his mother's lover by his father, Tommy is traumatized into catatonia, and as the boy grows, he suffers abuse at the hands of his sadistic relatives and neighbors. As an adolescent, he's discovered to have an amazing gift for playing pinball, and when his mother finally breaks through his catatonia, he becomes an international pinball superstar. This show is rated "PG-13" by the Catalyst Board of Directors.

For more information email the director, Jeff Shields, at

Additional information is available by contacting the Catalyst Acting Company office at 319-594-6411 or by visiting the Catalyst Acting Company website at

Friday, January 25, 2008

PS - Fresh Law

New opinions are up on the Iowa Supreme Court website.

Economics Even I Can Understand?

To begin with, I'm not a math person. I'm not an economist. I can't tell you about the theory of what's going on with the markets, or how tariff laws affect the price of eggs in China. But I'm seeing a lot of press out there on the recession, and it seems to have somehow taken people by surprise. I'm also seeing several articles focusing on the downturn in housing, as if it were a cause of the crisis and not simply one factor in the equation. Most recently, I'm seeing plans to throw consumers a small tax bone, apparently in the hopes they will take that right out and splurge on something nice, and that spending surge will magically jump-start our flagging economy. Apparently, the current wisdom is that Jane Consumer is to blame for the recession because for some mysterious reason, she's stopped spending so much.

In light of that, I have some humble observations to share, from the perspective of Jane Consumer as the middle-class American. Not the stereotypical irresponsible spender flinging money out the window. Not the uneducated victim of predatory financial purveyors. The normal, everyday Jane.

Earlier in the decade, the housing market was good. Interest rates on home loans were low - 2002 saw the lowest interest rates in 35 years. In fact, the market was so good homeowners were making remarkable amounts of money simply by living in their homes:Owners of median-priced homes at $269,000 in Southern California "earned" $38,977 -- or $3,248 a month -- just by holding on to their properties in 2002.

So what's a young consumer to do? Rent? Not on your life. The current wisdom was to buy, and to buy "as much house as you could afford."

So let's hypothesize a Jane Consumer and her family, with a student loan, a moderate (read: not unreasonable or dangerous) amount of credit card debt at reasonable rates between, say, nine and fourteen percent. She's also got car payments, and maybe a kid or two. Recently, she's made the decision to "invest" in a house, rather than throwing away her money paying rent.

During the shopping process, Jane Consumer does the math. How much do you have on credit cards? What are your other monthly bills? Add it all up, figure in normal spending, some splurges, and a bit for emergencies, and then invest the rest of it in a house. With careful calculations, Jane realizes that she can't afford a really nice house, but can take on a moderate home with a few fix-ups needed. Now, what kind of loan?

Well, the monthly payments on a fixed-rate mortgage are higher. And right now, just starting out, Jane's salary is on the low side. But she's got a viable career and good prospects, so the banker recommends one of the adjustable rate mortgages. By the time her payments go up, so does her salary. And you can always refinance, right?

For the purposes of this story, let's say she chooses either a 30-year fixed or a non-"predatory" ARM - something not too volitile, no poster child for the Poor, Misinformed Victim here. Just a normal mortgage that's about right for what she can afford.

So Jane moves in with her family, and while the money's a bit tight, it's workable. With credit card payments, car payments, house payments and so forth, they've got just about enough spending money. They've even managed to start saving a modest couple of hundred per month.

Fast forward a few years. In 2005, as part of the Bankruptcy Abuse Act, credit card companies' minimum payments doubled. Jane's salary has gone up, but not at that rate. It starts to become difficult to make the monthly bills. Some juggling has to be done. Nothing serious, just a bit of a hassle. And no leftovers for savings.

But over the next several years, there's more . . .

Her credit card companies look at how much total debt she's carrying, and raise her interest rates.

She gets her monthly car insurance bill, and finds out there's a substantial jump in premium. In calling to find out why, she discovers that her "credit score" is too low, which somehow puts her at an increased risk to have a car accident.

Knowing she's getting into trouble, she decides to stop using the high-balance cards, just pay them off. She also sets out to try to repair her damaged credit rating. On the no-balance cards, she decides to bolster her score by making a small purchase each month, and then paying it off right away. However, she soon finds out that the "grace period" - the time between purchasing an item and when you're charged interest - has shrunk to as little as 20 days. This means that by the time she gets a paper bill, the interest clock may already be ticking.

She vows not to do this again as she mails the payment in. She's going to keep the card at zero, and only use it for an emergency. Lesson learned. Next month, despite having paid her balance in full, she gets a bill with a $40 balance. Puzzled, she reads it through, to find a $40 fee for "late payment." Knowing she mailed the payment in a week before the due date, Jane calls the company to complain. She finds out that while she mailed the payment well before the due date, and it got to the company before the due date, they're still counting it as late because the payment center waited three days to "process" it.

Not only that, but in doing a little research on the web, she discovers there is no limit on the amount a credit card company can charge a cardholder for being even an hour late with a payment:
In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court in Smiley vs. Citibank lifted the existing restrictions on late penalty fees. Back then, fees ran to $5 or $10, and usually did not exceed $15. After the Court's decision, fees soared, reaching upwards of $30. Since then, the amount of revenue the companies generate from fees (including late charges, over-the-limit fees, and charges for returned checks) has doubled. Duncan MacDonald, one of the lawyers who worked on the Smiley case, predicts penalty fees could rise to $50 in another year.

Learning this, she vows to pay online from now on, rather than trusting the mail. Of course, that costs a $15 "processing fee" instead of a thirty-something cent stamp.

Per card.

Per month.

All in all, Jane discovers that with the new system her card balances have actually gone up, not down, despite her increased payments and decreased spending. Why? Because her interest rates have shot up to somewhere nearing thirty percent. Incidentally, although her income has increased as she had anticipated, gas prices, groceries, and a host of other everyday items that eat a hole in the budget have increased drastically, which makes that raise pretty much a wash.

With all this, she's gone from being basically okay financially, to being one emergency away from bankruptcy. Fortunately, she's still too proud to be one of "those people" who won't pay their bills, so she's determined not to go that route. But if she did the research, she'd find out that bankruptcy's gotten a lot harder, too.

The point is, while many of us are still managing to do okay, there are lots of Janes out there. People who didn't fall for grandiose lending schemes, who didn't charge up a storm trying to keep up with the Joneses, who just followed conventional wisdom and practices and tried to plan as best as they could. And they actually did fairly well . . . for a while. But somewhere in the last five to seven years, the rules changed on them. What was viable in 2002 is a disaster in 2007. They may not be under yet, but they're heading there.

End result: spending is down. Go figure. There are a bunch of people out there who can't make their mortgages anymore. Ya think? Are you seriously surprised that we're no longer in an economic boom? Think about it.

Yes, I'm aware that some lenders did engage in predatory practices. I'm aware that some consumers were stupid and bought way, way out of their price range. But IMHO as a total non-expert, I don't think those people are the majority of the problem right now. The problem is too pervasive. (If there's a study out there that shows otherwise, please forward it and I'll retract that.) Finally, I am also aware that the economy is infinitely more complex than all this, and that corporate issues, natural resource problems, stocks, international trade, and so forth probably play more a part in all this than what's happening to good old Jane. It just seems that all the news outlets talking about the recession are focused on asking why Jane isn't out there spending money, and I thought I'd clue them in.

I also know that it can be ultimately argued that we shouldn't feel much sympathy for Jane. After all, credit cards should never, ever be used. We should all work very hard at being debt-free. In theory, I agree. But while that may be ideal, the reality within which our economy operates is that most Americans do carry some credit card debt. Others advocate that you should use credit cards - particularly now that so much depends on the mighty Credit Score - but that you should use them sparingly always pay your bill off in full each month. Ideally, I agree with that as well. But again, it's not the reality within which our economy operates. Incidentally, you also need to watch out for companies that charge you penalties for payment in full each month because they're so bummed about the loss of all that lovely interest.

Bottom line: If Jane and her peers are really the problem here, can we please stop trying to band-aid this problem by throwing consumers a tax-rebate bone, hoping that somehow the Janes will choose to splurge on a new something-or-another rather than trying to dig themselves out of the hole they're in? That's not realistic. Can we also please stop focusing on the mortgage companies alone, as if they're solely responsible for this mess? If Jane's lack of spending is really the problem here, why not start by re-examining some of the policy changes in the last decade or so that contributed to her budget crunch? Fix some of those, and we might be able to turn this around eventually.

Just a thought.


State 29 believes there isn't actually recession, it's simply election-year spin manufactured by the media. I'm not so sure. On the one hand, I recognize that the media flip-flops on these subjects, and overplays the crisis to sell papers. On the other hand, it seems like the number of people I know in financial difficulties has been steadily increasing over the past few years. Mostly it appears to be due to being stretched from some of the circumstances I mentioned above, and then having a medical crisis, divorce, or some other type of unforeseen problem bring the thing tumbling down. Not that there aren't plenty of people that are doing fine, it just seems this is more common than in the past. So when the media starts pointing the fingers at State's "subprime clowns," I get the feeling there's more to it. So, anybody got the real numbers - statistics to show whether they're right or making the proverbial mountain out of a molehill?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Legal Debate

Over on the Volokh conspiracy, Ilya Somin and Orin Kerr are having an intense discussion of the role of the judiciary as versus the legislature and judicial restraint.

Dear Vet:

I understand that spaying is a fairly major operation. I understand that Molly should be resting, and should not be allowed to jump, run, or overexert herself. I understand that if she does these things, it could impede the healing of that huge wound on her stomach. But . . . could you please explain this to her?

PS: Have you got anymore of those pain pills, the ones that knocked her out for a few hours? I'd like a refillable prescription. Another year might do it.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Theater Blogging

Richard Tiegs wrote a nice piece on ICCT's "She Loves Me" for the Press-Citizen. A quote:
The story is based on a Czech play called "Parfumerie" and was made into several films: "The Shop around the Corner," "In the Good Old Summertime" and "You've Got Mail." Secret pen pal lovers are argumentative co-workers. Sounds simple enough. Things are seldom as they seem.

The musical is not widely known by the general public, but it is highly regarded in the theatrical world. It was one of the first musicals to develop a cult following; already a year after it closed in 1964, actors in subsequent productions were writing Harnick and Bock expressing their shock that the musical still was not running on Broadway. Those who have done the show have championed its cause for many years. The licensing company generally lists about 40 places nationwide where the play is being produced at any given time.

Here's the info from the ICCT website (Which seems to be losing more functionality as time goes on - what happened to the show info from past seasons? Audition pages? Pictures? Links?? C'mon, guys.):

Book by Joe Masteroff
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Music by Jerry Bock Directed by Josh Sazon
February 1-10, 2008
Fri- Sat7:30pm (Sundays @ 2pm)

Tickets are available at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center, at the corner of Gilbert and Burlington Sts. in Iowa City, or you may call (319) 338-0443 to make reservations. Ticket prices are: $15 (general admission), $13 (students and seniors), and $10 (children).

The ICKY Awards are also going on tonight at TCR. The Gazette has the scoop on that:
The Iowa Cultural Corridor Alliance's Innovative Excellence Awards, called the Ickys, will be handed out Jan. 22 at Theatre Cedar Rapids in front of a crowd primarily composed of the alliance's 128 member organizations.

Nominees in 11 categories were announced in December, and include everything from major events like Hancher Auditorium's "The Joffrey Ballet Dancing River to River" and Theatre Cedar Rapids' "West Side Story" to smaller events like Mount Vernon/Lisbon Community Theatre's "Slices of Life" and Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Co.'s "Stories and Cuentos."

Meanwhile, do NOT miss Rage Theatrics' Hero Stories. It's playing at the Old Creamery in Amana, and worth the drive, particularly Matt's completely hilarious "Pop Tart Hero." ROFLMAO. Seriously. From the site:
This evening of swordplay and stage combat features original plays and new adaptations of classic work. From Dracula to D’Artagnan, this wild and humorous collection offers something for everyone. Tickets are only $12, and can be purchased online now at, or by calling the Old Creamery Box Office at 1-800-35AMANA after January 7th. This production is sponsored by Zephyr Copies.

Saturday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3:00 PM
Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, Jan. 27 at 3:00 PM

I have it on good authority from the reviewer that a review should be coming soon at the Iowa City Theater Blog.

On a side note: D's totally busy teaching sound design and building the set for Little Shop, so he had to work all last weekend. I, OTOH, had gotten basically caught up with work for the first time in . . . well, it seems like forever. So I went with friends to see Hero Stories. We ran into Rachel, and both Vicki and I ended up coming home committed to reading for More Fun than Bowling. There's a moral in that story somewhere. . . .

Politics? Maybe not.

I've wanted to do another political piece, but all the candidates seem to be annoying me at the moment. For a detailed explanation of why that might be, go to In vainly searching for something I can endorse, may I put myself on record as totally agreeing with the CNN critics:
CNN readers respond angrily to 'race or gender' story

CNN received dozens of e-mails shortly after posting the story, which focuses largely on conversations about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that a CNN reporter observed at a hair salon in South Carolina whose customers are predominantly African-American.

The story states: "For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?" . . .

An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: "Duh, I'm a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I'm illiterate I'll pull down the lever for someone. Hm... Well, he black so I may vote for him... oh wait she a woman I may vote for her... What Ise gon' do? Oh lordy!"

Tiffany urged CNN to "pull this racist crap off" the Web site and to stop calling Hillary the "top female candidate."

"Stop calling Barack the "Black" candidate," she wrote.

Many readers were upset that the story did not delve beyond a cursory mention of the issues. . . .

Go, Tiffany.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday Quiz

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fresh Law

The Iowa Supreme Court has published two new cases. One of them, State v. Finders, has to do with the 2000-foot sex offender law. The basic jist of the case: When the law - found in Iowa Code section 692A.2A(2)- states: “A person shall not reside within two thousand feet of the real property comprising a public or nonpublic elementary or secondary school or a child care facility. . . .” but also says a person residing within two thousand feet of a school or child care facility does not violate if “[t]he person has established a residence prior to July 1, 2002;” the words "a residence" mean that the residence at issue has to have been established before July 1, 2002, not just any old residence around the neighborhood. Lesson for anyone grandfathered in on the registry: Don't move. Ever.

You Do Realize It's All Your Fault

Between a Laugh and a Tear posted a work-related rant. Excerpt:
I explained the offer to my client and answered his questions. My client took the offer, but now, he is complaining that it is too onerous, I sold him out, and that I did not do anything for him.

Sorry to those true believers out there, but what the fuck? Where does this sorry bastard get off to complain? I saved his sorry ass from prison, and got a majority of what he wanted from the State. I sold him out? I did nothing for him? Yeah, right.

That's about right. Did he also mention that by virtue of being a lawyer, you're vicariously to blame for the government's being "out to get him" in the first place? We're the one's who are in the government making these laws just to keep other lawyers in work prosecuting and defending against them, you know. We make a bunch of bull-sh*t laws that are so tricky that normal people can't understand them, and then put on a bunch of penalties that are so harsh that nobody could possibly live up to them, all to keep ourselves rolling in the tremendous amounts of cash we're making from those court-appointed fees.

Oh, and did he mention the giant toteboard? The jig's up, see. They all know we have a huge scoreboard secreted somewhere in the courthouse that keeps detailed, up-to-the-minute statistics on every win and loss of every lawyer in town on every issue, argument, motion, or trial. They know our entire careers depend on being at the top of that scoreboard. I believe the bottom rung of lawyers is regularly culled out, sent in a giant pneumatic tube straight to hell. Or made to become accountants.

I bet you also violated the inherent right of your client to be completely unavailable by telephone, email, or snail mail whenever you attempt to bother him about trivial things such as hearing dates. Conversely, you must not realize that you are on call, 24/7/365, in case he heard of a new defense from his brother, that worked great for his girlfriend's aunt in another state with completely different statutes. And how completely incompetent you are for not having thought of that defense in the first place. He'll have to punish you by not hiring you when he sues the state because he got a hangnail while in jail and they gave him a band-aid, but didn't send him to the hospital for treatment, which his co-defendant swears they are required to do by law. He also has the right to continue to call you every five minutes until you do pick up, filling your voicemail with nasty messages and making it impossible for any other clients to reach you. . . .

I reserve the right to supplement this later, I've got to get to work.

Another Audition Alert

Dreamwell Theatre Auditions for More Fun than Bowling

Auditions for More Fun than Bowling by Stephen Dietz will be at the Iowa City Public Library, Friday, January 18, 7:00 pm and Saturday, January 19, 2:00pm. Directed by Rachael Lindhart for Dreamwell Theatre. Performance dates are 8:00 pm February 29, March 1, 7, and 8 (pending rights).

Contact Rachael at 319-337-2206 with questions. For more about Dreamwell Theatre, visit

Scripts are available on reserve at the ICPL.

CHARACTERS: Jake Tomlinson, father and bowling alley owner, is about 40.
He has been married three times and was lucky each time.

Molly Tomlinson, his daughter, is 16 at the time of the play. She is resourceful and an optimist; he would be lost without her.

Lois is about 30 and Jake's second wife. She is an avid NON-bowler, she says--but her education about bowling is an important part of the story.

Loretta is about 28 and Jake's third wife. She is a bowler but kept her job as a hairdresser when she married Jake.

Mr. Dyson is the mysterious man dressed in black; he is a chauffeur. The script says that he is 28, but he actually can be just about any age.

The Play: the story of Jake Tomlinson and his search for happiness through bowling. The play was written in in 1985 by Steven Dietz. It will be set in approximately that year, but has scenes of memory which are a few years earlier. It takes place in a cemetery overlooking the midwest small town of Turtle Rapids. Jake is trying out his own grave at the beginning of the play and is then interrupted by his daughter, Molly, who is riding her bicycle. He falls asleep and in his and Molly's memories, we meet his second and third wives (who are, at the time of the play, dead and buried on either side of the grave which he is trying out). The play is humorous, also with some touching scenes, and tells how he married his second and third wives (Loretta and Lois) and how they happen to be dead now. The ending is a humorous and wry one with references to his first wife (who is only talked about in the play and who is Molly's mother).

There is also a mysterious man in black who is looking for Jake and who acts as narrator and our host. His presence and purpose are eventually revealed to Jake and Molly and lead us to the ending.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Well, that's one way to end the FISA debate . . .

Phone companies cut FBI wiretaps due to unpaid bills

Political Venting

One of the things I've liked about the democratic campaigns this year is a slight increase in the candidate's general abillity to focus on the issues, rather than stereotypes. Despite the press' repeatedly stating the obvious - Hillary Clinton is female, Barak Obama is black - the candidates themselves are usually able to focus on the issues. I think this is resonating with democratic voters, which is precisely why those two are the front-runners for their party. The voters I've spoken with bear this out. They generally seem to be saying that while it would be a very cool thing to have the first (insert pertinent adjective) President, they are primarily concerned with electing the best person to do the job, and the rest is a bonus.

So I was rather annoyed by this article in the New York Times by Gloria Steinem, basically arguing that women should all vote for Hillary because women are more disadvantaged than African-Americans:
"So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what."
Of course, she then qualifies her argument:
"I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together. That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that."
Is it just me, or does this sound like the old line, "I'm not prejudiced, but (insert prejudiced statement here)?" The entire article makes the point that Hillary should be supported simply because she's female, and indeed implies that young female democratic voters only supported Obama over Clinton because they just don't get it:
"What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system; thus Iowa women over 50 and 60, who disproportionately supported Senator Clinton, proved once again that women are the one group that grows more radical with age."
Reaction in the feminist blogosphere has been swift to condemn Steinem:

Alas, a Blog posted a cartoon basically summing up Steinem's article in two panels, saying: "I'm not advocating a competition on who has it toughest, blacks or women . . . but let's not forget how much harder sexism is on Clinton than racism is on Obama."

Angry Black Bitch has some great quotes:
"What country does Gloria live in where race barriers are taken seriously? I’d love to know…shit, maybe I’ll move there. . . . [T]his article is soaked in the fluid of competition. It reeks of frustration that I fear is born from a place of entitlement even though it is dressed in the language of the oppressed."

I also love her conclusion:

I agree with Ms. Steinem that we have to be able to say that we are supporting her, a woman candidate, 'because she would be a great president and because she is a woman.'

But we also have to be able to say I’m not supporting her because I’ve evaluated her and examined her resume without being labeled a victim or self hating or not radical enough or not feminist enough or easily dazzled by great oratory skills or more black than woman or just too darn stupid to do what Ms. Steinem thinks we should do.

But my favorite has got to be the response on Tiny Cat Pants entitled "Gloria Steinem, With All Due Respect, Kiss My Butt." Excerpts:
I, as a voter, will be voting for the politician I think best able to be president. That might be Clinton; it might not be. . . . You see, just because someone has a vagina, it doesn’t make them good people. . . .

Did it not once cross your mind the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner happened in 1964–over four decades after we–you and me, white women–got the right to vote?

Did it never occur to you that black women didn’t, by and large, enjoy the same right to vote our foremothers did? And that you, by framing it as some kind of competition for who has it the worst–black men or “women”–basically just said to every black woman in America, “My experience as a woman is the experience of women in America, not yours.”

I mean, it’s gross that you would, after saying out of your own mouth, that you’re not advocating a competition for who has it the toughest, turn right around and use your column to advocate a competition for who has it the toughest, with Hillary Clinton as the winner, but to just basically erase a whole swatch of history you lived through in order to do it?

Shame on you.

My take: there are some voters who will align themselves with a candidate simply because they share a common characteristic. This impulse is particularly strong when that characteristic can be seen as a stigma. There are myriad reasons for this: the commonality of mutual experience, a feeling of shared values, and a perception that the candidate will 'stand up for their own' all play a significant role. So I don't think we'll ever completely extinguish that impulse. That said, I'd love to see prejudice itself eradicated. It would be wonderful to have an election in which there is no question as to whether a well-qualified candidate is "electable" simply because of their race, gender, or religion.

That's why, regardless of politics, it is nice to see that the candidates themselves are focusing more on the issues, and - at least in comparison with past elections - downplaying the (insert minority status) card. It's nice to see the voters talking more about the candidate's positions than their physical appearance. And although it was more than a little insulting to Iowans (including me) that the nation was totally astonished our democratic voters would in fact place Obama first and Hillary second when there was a fairly viable white male available in Edwards, I really enjoyed that we disproved their bigoted assumptions we're all corn-fed, backwater, redneck white hicks who wouldn't know an issue if it bit us in the ass.

As for this election: Steinem thinks that by voting for anyone else, I'm obviously denying my own gender, hoping to be exempted from sexism because I'm simply too naive to recognize the pervasiveness of male privilege? That in order to be a "real woman" I must vote for Clinton simply because she possesses a vagina? And that if I, or the rest of the "younger" women, don't agree with her on this (or indeed on any substantive issue) it's because we're just not smart enough to get the facts through our pretty little heads? Now that's some prejudice.


I definitely spoke too soon.

No matter what the election, it seems sooner or later every candidate is bound to really annoy me on every level. PS to black Iowans: apparently you don't exist.


Okay, that's a theme: stop the "silliness".


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This Just Emailed

Auditions for Catalyst Acting Company and Habeas Corpus/ACE’s
production of “The Who’s Tommy” will be held January 10 and 11 at the
Iowa City Rec Center.

Catalyst Acting Company and Habeas Corpus/ACE announce auditions
for their musical collaboration: “The Who‘s Tommy” directed by Jeff
Shields, assistant directed by Rich Riggleman, music direction by Lyle Juracek
and choreography by Mark McCusker and Nora Garda. It will be performed
on March 14-16 at the historic Englert Theatre in Downtown Iowa City.

"Tommy" is Peter Townshend’s tale of a young boy’s journey from pain
to triumph is the most electrifying evening of rock and roll ever to play in
a theatre. After witnessing the accidental murder of his mother's lover by
his father, Tommy is traumatized into catatonia, and as the boy grows,
he suffers abuse at the hands of his sadistic relatives and neighbors. As
an adolescent, he’s discovered to have an uncanny knack for playing
pinball, and when his mother finally breaks through his catatonia, he
becomes an international pinball superstar. This show is rated “PG-13”
by the Catalyst Board of Directors.

Auditions will be held at the Iowa City Robert A Lee Recreation Center
on Thursday January 10th and Friday, January 11th starting at 7PM. All
ages are welcome to audition. In addition to adults, this show will require
10-15 talented high school students. People interested in auditioning
that aren’t able to attend the scheduled auditions can contact the
director at 319-688-5087 or to schedule an
alternative date. We're also looking for one 4 year old boy and one 10
year old boy to play the younger Tommys.

Those auditioning need to bring a completed audition form
(available at, a prepared 1 minute piece of a musical theatre song,
sheet music for both the person auditioning and for the accompanist,
comfortable clothing for some dance movement, and a list of rehearsal

For more information email the director, Jeff Shields, at

Additional information is available by contacting the Catalyst Acting
Company office at 319-594-6411 or by visiting the Catalyst Acting
Company website at


I see Aprille has a new guy in her life.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


If you're wondering whether I'm still alive, my itinerary's looked like this:

August - Moved back to Iowa

September - Spent catching up with all the work I missed due to the move, and being in That Day in September, directed by Matt from Thoughts from the Oasis. Dad has a crisis when his apartment complex tears up the parking lot to fix some potholes, making him house-bound for all intents and purposes because he can't walk long distances due to the cancer. The owners say he gets no special treatment like parking on the grass close to his door. I point out that handicap access is sort of required by law, and he's not only handicapped but in hospice. I start a proceeding to get an injunction, then they speed it up and finish the work fast enough that it becomes moot. And also put in a handicapped space in the parking lot, which they hadn't done previously.

October - Had to take a week off to work on the set of Long Christmas Ride Home when D's back problems finally got the best of him (surgery pending). Brought home Molly to cheer him up. I get a bunch of new cases when an attorney decides to leave town and redistribute her caseload. Dad wants me to help him get into another apartment because of the mess in September, and is clinically depressed. Hospice has us looking into options.

November - Started to get caught up again, but then my father and grandmother both passed away just before Thanksgiving. I have to take a few weeks off to plan one funeral and go to the other, both in the Chicago area. I also get the fun job of winding down my dad's estate.

December - Most of my clients appear to be suffering from an incurable impulse to screw up their lives in the worst way possible. Cases explode, my siblings want the estate done NOW, and I'd be happy just to get his stuff moved out of the apartment. Meanwhile, my hard drive dies and I have to buy a new one and reload every scrap of software, some of which I don't have the discs for anymore.

January - It is getting better. Really. Though it's still two steps forward, one back. Yesterday I tried shutting off the utilities to my Dad's place. One of them won't talk to me because I'm not "authorized on the account" (so you think I'm going to get him to call you??). Another tried to insist I have to transfer the account into my own name before I can request a shut-off - thus making me personally responsible for his past-due bills, which were already past due before he died. Do I look stupid?

I keep telling myself I'm going to get back to blogging. Like I'm going to get back to exercising, get my house finally organized, get caught up at work, etc. It's just not happening as fast as I'd like. Sorry, folks. In the interim, amuse yourselves with a quiz:

What Your Name Really Means

You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life. You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip. People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something. You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense. You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing. You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long. You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are the total package - suave, sexy, smart, and strong. You have the whole world under your spell, and you can influence almost everyone you know. You don't always resist your urges to crush the weak. Just remember, they don't have as much going for them as you do.

You are a seeker. You often find yourself restless - and you have a lot of questions about life. You tend to travel often, to fairly random locations. You're most comfortable when you're far away from home. You are quite passionate and easily tempted. Your impulses sometimes get you into trouble.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people. You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts. You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.