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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Me, the stay at home mom?

I should note that this was started when I gave my notice at the end of May. I almost deleted it, but instead I've added some and tried to make it more readable. I guess I'll hit post now.

I probably should have numbered this since it doesn't flow all that well. Kind of like my working mom mind. Here goes:

So I've taken the first step to becoming a stay at home mom. I've given my notice. The day I did, it was all I could do to keep the chunks down. I didn't know how everyone would react- and didn't want to know really. It's not like announcing a pregnancy where you know you have a limited time to tell people before they just find out and are insulted that you didn't say anything. And by the way, I apologize if you are finding this news out only my reading this and are in any way offended. :) I guess I think most of the time, people don't care and I don't want to find out that they don't care by telling them and seeing how underwhelmed they are. I generally like flying under the radar. No one expects a whole lot, you come, you go. Very low fuss and low stress as far as fuss-related stress goes.

I often wonder how life at home will be. Up until now, we've left things undone and we've said, "that's ok, both of us work" and so there's no blame. Now, if things don't get done, it's going to be my fault. Also, up to now, we've shared household tasks pretty well. We complain about the way each other does or doesn't do things, but there is that understanding there that since both of us are away from the house the same amount of time, we've both got to be doing everything for this to work. I do understand and agree that I'll pick up more responsibilities; I just hope things don't get out of hand... Also,  I'm nowhere near as confident in the kitchen is my husband. Will I ever get comfortable? At least maybe now I'll be able to find stuff- anything-  if I'm the one putting it there. Will I end up doing nothing? Will I pick up do at home jobs (yeah, right, I've been searching for this for years and now they will fall from the sky!)? I know people say stay at home motherhood is a full time job, but,- it's not that I don't believe them, I do- how full exactly when I'm used to doing a million and one things, remembering a million and one things, being here and there and everywhere at work and home? It probably won't be less crazy, but different crazy, realistically. I'm kind of hoping for less crazy, though. I could do with that for a bit.

How much of my worth is tied up in work? I didn't think much before, since I don't have a high-powered job or anything close. But when I stop earning a paycheck I wonder if I'll feel like I have to ask permission all the time or if I'll think less of myself. Worse, what if my husband thinks less of me. I don't think he will, but I've never been there. There is what other people think, too, but that matters less. I hope. I feel good about my reasons for quitting work. I want to be involved in their education in a way I wouldn't have been able to before. Who am I kidding- I just want to see them! I keep thinking of things I want to learn and go back to school for and possible career changes. Will that stop, I wonder? There is the fringe benefit of my husband and I getting to see a bit more of each other. It's not like I don't want to work anymore, though I may be a tad burned out at the moment...

I'm reading I Don't Know How She Does It. Good timing. It would have depressed me (or infuriated me), though, if I'd read it before I knew my quitting was possible (the main character ends up quitting, surprisingly). Or maybe it would have made me feel better that others feel some of the working mom guilt (even if the character is fictional). The things she mentions about being embarrassed about not knowing what your kids' favorite things are at all times, guilt over missing so much of their babyhood, the chaos during the times you do see them- as though they cram weeks' worth of emotion (the whole spectrum) and need for attention into such a small amount of time- and then the guilt over wishing for "me time" because of the intensity and acting out. Another bit that was so familiar- the main character makes mental lists all the time. I do this every night! Random things that need doing with the house, things to pick up at the store, birthday plans, cleaning, long-term, short-term, recurring items... I've never done what she did with the buying baked goods and bashing them up to make them look homemade, though. I just opt for feeling guilty bringing store bought stuff or feel guilty for bringing nothing and hope no one wants to discuss what everyone brought...

On a larger scale, I wonder how many years I'm setting back women's equality? Especially if a man takes my place? Maybe that's overly dramatic, but I've seen a lot of women do what I just did and what if that continues? I can't say this was a huge concern, but it ran through my mind more than once. I tend to think me taking up space here in the "world of work" (thanks 8th grade careers class for that bit of vocabulary) is progress in a (cheesy) way. Anyway, education leads to both better conditions for women in general and women working outside the home. If fewer of us work outside the home, maybe fewer will be educated and we'll be undervalued ...again. Hopefully we've reached a baseline of education where we realize that men's and women's lives are equally valuable, whatever our choice after the education, unlike in some parts of the world where only boys are vaccinated, educated, and valued in general.

 I will miss the people I've worked with past and present, the multicultural education (for me) and ever changing face of the lab, the pride of knowing you do something well and the challenge of trying. Goodbye to Gyro Thursdays, random beeping of freezers, parking in Mongolia, giant brownies,  dodging the hackey sack on the way to the bathroom, mouse surgery with good conversation, the smell of bacteria in the morning... There are obviously things I'll miss more than others :) but overall, I'm ready!

Monday, June 27, 2011

NPR's Fresh Air on the Arab Spring- skip it

So I was listening to this Fresh Air piece. It certainly is no Diane Rehm Show:

Terry Gross seems to think things like protests inspired by the Arab Spring and the Palestinians' bid for recognition at the UN is going to undermine peace talks. She makes that clear right off the bat. She's not the only one, true, but it's her job to try and tear things like this apart, not get behind them and toe the line and push it on us (like Iraq and the media was- not necessarily Fresh Air specifically in that case).

Annoyingly, Terry Gross is fixated (and I mean really wouldn't let it go!) on Hamas, but on the other hand, her guest was pretty cool.

The guest and his NGO, International Crisis Group sounded pretty interesting, though. The NGO makes recommendations to governments about various conflicts (in Malley's case, ME and N Africa). For Malley's part, his father was Jewish and an Arab nationalist. He was not a fan of the US, but wanted his kids US educated. He moved to France, but was so critical of them he was expelled.

They did discuss something interesting in that the Palestinians leadership has played a role in quelling the uprisings and protests because they aren't completely sure the people won't turn against them as well as Israel. I guess this is the problem with the Arab leadership in most cases, though.

One item Gross brought up was the UN Resolution for a Palestinian state. What is it meant to do, she asks. Membership in the UN will be blocked by US. I guess this is her point. The best they can do is get General Assembly countries to recognize the Palestinian state. I say go for it.

The resolution is being discussed because of Arab despair about the process- so the guest says. For one thing, Netanyahu won’t recognize the infamous 1967 borders, saying they are “indefensible.” He also goes into Israel’s reaction. The resolution will make Israel mad since they believe it to be circumventing negotiations- which seems to be the opinion of many in the US and any other "expert" out there. I think that's a bunch of garbage.

Well, I take that back. Maybe it is actually circumventing negotiations, but when that is absolutely the only way, why demonize those who want to move forward (or circumvent)? Are negotiations really the way to go? Not to mention going to the UN makes total sense. Why not go to the very body that the British went to when they were tired of governing and wanted to partition it (between and owners and a minority)? Why not go to the body who recognized Israel? Why not go to the body that told Israel to give back what it took in 1967? Why not go to the body that guaranteed refugees the right of return and said settlements were illegal before they were even built? 

(And negotiations! Funny one should talk about and be so attached to those when you think about the history of this thing. Jews come in, decide they want land and take it. So, the fair thing would be to send them packing, but that's not going to happen. In my book, that's already quite a concession. Israel has been dealt with more than fairly; let's see what Palestinians can be offered. Maybe I misunderstand negotiations, though. Maybe it's more about what you can trick people into accepting more than it is about fairness and justice in the give and take?)

Why not go to the UN when Palestinians have offered to give away the right of return (besides a symbolic number), Jerusalem, allow all settlements but a few, and everything else and Israel's answer is still no, we want those settlements, too?

And then Israeli despair is mentioned – because they have discussed Palestinians' despair for awhile, after all. Malley seems to think Israeli despair is warranted and they have a right to wonder when Palestinians will seize the opportunity? Seize the opportunity!? What opportunity are they talking about? You mean the time(s) Palestinians have offered to give up Jerusalem, all but one settlement, all but a symbolic number of refugees returning, the transfer of all Palestinian Israelis to a tiny , non-contiguous, permanent state of occupation- and have been refused because they didn’t meet all of Israel’s demands?? Is that the opportunity we’re talking about, here? If justice were ever on the table, perhaps there would be something to seize!

A common theme (both sides are to blame) reappears when Malley talks about both sides’ despair causing the deadlock. Maybe this is true in a way, but saying both sides are at fault and believe this or that ignores what is truly going on, the power dynamic, the biases, the actual possibilities, etc. It equalizes a situation that is very definitely not equal.

I did appreciate the nuance when it came to the American position. Of course we have the usual reason(s) to veto this thing, but Malley discussed two interesting reasons a veto might be a bad idea:

1. Obama has worked harder than some at repairing US-Arab relations. He gave some great speeches for sure, but action has been a little hesitant and sparse. If we veto something Arab nations support 99%, our words will mean nothing.

2. Obama may be "forced" to veto a resolution on a Palestinian state at the very time he said he'd love to welcome one- Sept 2011. He said that in 2010 in the General Assembly, I think.

And, here, our friend Terry takes it back to Hamas.

She is concerned that one thing that might make the UN vote complicated is the unity government with Fatah and Hamas since Hamas doesn't recognize Israel or its right to exist. If Hamas is part of the Palestinian government, she wants to know what that would mean for relations with Israel.

Good question, Terry. Or not. I was happy to see her effectively shut down on this point. Malley tells her this is a pretext. There hasn't been a peace process for some time, so Hamas isn't the reason things are going wrong.

She interrupts - laughing, clearly unconvinced by this argument and determined to have Hamas denounced as often as possible - "it certainly can't help!" She really wants agreement and discussion on how bad Hamas is, here. She continues on about how having Hamas in the government is a setback. After all, how do you negotiate with someone who refuses to recognize your right to exist?

I don't know, Terry. Ask the Palestinians! Israel doesn't seem to think even the Palestinians within its borders (let alone those in a future Palestine) deserve human/equal rights and yet Palestinians are still expected to come to the table, make concessions, recognize rights and characteristics of Israel that Israel won't, in turn, recognize for Palestinians. No one (considered credible, pro-Israel, non-anti-Semitic, that is) ever asks, "how can Palestinians take talks seriously unless Israel does x, y and z."

Malley responds well in that he makes a broader point about the Palestinian division being bad for all- they can't implement agreements or speak for all of their people, etc- rather than just agree completely with Terry's anti-Hamas rant. But then again he's an expert in conflict resolution... :)

She asked the guest about his conflict resolution process, which actually involves talking to all sides, imagine that, and asked why on earth he'd want to talk to Hamas. What is his "ambition" in that? He did explain that he hadn't recommended the US talk to Hamas (I bet Terry was jumping up and down), but he thought there needed to be a channel of communication so that they knew what was expected should they be included in discussions at some point. This is much more sensible than some previous messages out of Washington- if you're not with us, you're against us; we don't negotiate with terrorists; and other such nonsense that aims to exclude (some of the) people that have to be a part of any solution.

Malley also makes a great point about the Arab Spring and domestic vs foreign policy. People thought that the proof that the Arab Spring was about domestic rather than foreign policy was that no American or Israeli flags were burned, but that's not quite the whole truth. If it wasn't about foreign policy (and Israel-Palestine) as well, regimes like Egypt wouldn't be changing like they are- becoming more representative of the population- and choosing to open the border with Gaza, broker a unity deal with Fatah and Hamas, and have better relations with Iran. Again, good point. I've also heard people try and say the Israel-Palestine thing has nothing to do with the Arab Spring. How much the conflict is affected by it remains to be seen- Palestinians have to figure out whether to get rid of their leadership first or Israel. And there's yet another division to dilute the movement.

Malley has made a ton of great points, but I don't agree with this next one. He talks about Netanyahu's stance and the deadlock and then about taking a step back, finding out what went wrong, find out what the parties want that they haven't been getting in negotiations. This is obvious to me. For Palestinians: JUSTICE! For Israel, they've proven they want all of their demands met or they will say no. I don't think it's time to step back. It's time to pressure Israel.

When asked about the future, he says a few things that people generally don't mention, at least specifically, which was refreshing. He says Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlers are usually talked about rather than to and that these people need to be represented in talks. Iraq and Afghanistan are mentioned and I cringed, but perhaps he's talking about how we took a step back and changed course- then I'd agree. The other two items or suggestions were considering internal Palestinian politics and the less specific getting past feeling like we know what the solution looks like, let's finish up. I know he's probably not thinking along these lines, but the last one made me think about one state. It is not the shape people are thinking the solution will take anymore, but it is the most fair and sensible. When you look at how many problems it solves, I think most people could really get behind it. Both people would absolutely have to be committed to the survival of the other. Some people might think that's unrealistic or naive. I don't.

Either just before or just after the talk of future direction, they talk about the UN Resolution again. It won't mean much on the ground, but more will recognize Palestine and that it is under occupation. True, but I think it's a step. Palestine could possibly go to the UN and officially accuse Israel of occupying it, petition for redress, Israelis would face more fears for arrest while traveling in Europe, etc. Good stuff. Then, Malley states that he wants a resolution more like Obama's recent speech. A whole lot of nothing. No way!

Terry then tries again with the Hamas thing and the UN Resolution fears. Inspired by the Obama speech nonsense no doubt, she asks if a resolution that is less damaging to Israel (as though the one proposed pushes Israel into the sea!), one that also recognizes Israel's right to exist, would be less scary for the US, less likely to be vetoed. She laughs when she asks if Hamas would support such a thing. Perhaps if a just solution were ever on the table, we'd see a different side of Hamas, but we haven't had to worry about that. I'm glad she's not a negotiator! I disagree with Malley that this sort of resolution is a good idea- he and Terry love the idea. He does come through with a sensible point, though. What is usually demanded is that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence, abide by past agreements and they respond (or non-respond) by saying Israel doesn't do these; why should we? I don't think Malley really takes this as a serious argument like I do, but he at least realizes there is a way around it; re-frame it so that you call for mutual recognition, mutual cease fire, mutual abiding by agreements (which involves referendum by the people). Now that's actually replacing a kind of silly approach where you pack up and go home because Hamas (and hence all Palestinians of course) won't do what you want, with an actual solution.

I think I would have enjoyed this interview much more had someone like Diane Rehm or Dick Gordon done it. Someone who didn't have to ask about Hamas every other time. I mean, really. Give it up. Maybe there are other reasons for the failures. I'm no fan of Hamas, but maybe Israel had something to do with it? No?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

terrorist of freedom fighter?

So this question frequently comes up (at least for me) since I live in an environment almost as biased toward Israel as Israel itself- maybe more- and I have very different feelings about the matter, having read a bit about the history and causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

I was listening to the radio (podcast, since I'm hopelessly behind on my daily news fix) - an interfaith marriage piece about a Catholic and a Jew. I enjoyed it for the most part, but when the Catholic described her spouse's parent as a Jewish "pioneer" in Palestine, it struck me as odd. I mean, this person was probably a part of the gangs that, using weapons supplied by Jewish groups all over the world, massacred and cleaned out entire villages of its Palestinian residents and chased many of the rest out on the fear of such atrocities. If this Jewish pioneer wasn't in that group, he or she was almost certainly in the group that walked into (and took/stole as their own) houses that had been vacated only days, weeks or months before with shelves stocked with food and dishes still on the table as though their owners just left for a few hours! How could you move into a house that looked like someone had left in a hurry and thought the land had no people (land without people for people without a land myth) and it was ok for you to take it?? You have to have been lied to and been very naive or lying to yourself.

We freely talk of Jewish pioneers and the necessity and fundamental right of Israel's security in this country. When you describe Palestinians fighting for their rights as freedom fighters, people look at you as though you are a terrorist yourself because you have obviously just expressed support for terrorism. There have been many UN resolutions saying Palestinian refugees can go home (after '48), Israel has to stay in the '67 borders, Jerusalem is to be shared. All laws and conventions governing war and human rights say refugees can go home and the Occupying Power can't transfer its population to the territory it occupies, etc. Palestinians had a history of non-violent protest (general strikes, protests, etc) before the suicide bombing years and I'm happy to see a resurgence in the popularity of non-violent protest. I just wonder why it is ok for us to expect that after so much injustice that Palestinians would bow down before and kiss the feet of Israelis and Americans who offer pseudo-states, demilitarized entities and occupation enshrined in law? Why are Jews who wipe out villages of hundreds of people heroes and pioneers and a Palestinian who bombs a pizza parlor is without question a terrorist? Why would we expect Palestinians to lay down arms in the face of oppression and injustice when Americans fought the British over the same things? In a few short weeks we'll be celebrating this very thing!

I guess it boils down to the fact that the winner writes history (but I ask, should it?). Look at our Thanksgiving story. In school, we're basically taught through pictures and activities and such that pilgrims and indians sat at a giant picnic table with a cornucopia and a table crammed with food. Everyone ate, talked and had a blast. They taught us about growing corn and gave us seeds. We taught them how to wear our more civilized pilgrim outfits. And we all lived happily ever after. This is the story the winners write to make ourselves feel better. And then there is the truth of the matter...

And so all these thoughts from one sentence. Welcome to my world! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Muslim hearings

All this talk of the GOP talking about Muslims and sharia reminded me of those silly hearings going on in Washington.

King's defense:

We could be talking about how to cut the budget. Here's an idea to free up a few billion:

Another interesting link:

Here's my March reaction to the first round of nonsense:

The modern Committee on Un-American Activities? Yikes! If this is a preview of a Republican White House, I'm scared.

Always one step behind... Bush was stuck in the cold war; today's Republicans are caught up to Muslims being the new Communists... They have yet to realize the problem isn't Islam- it's our irresponsible, discriminatory and/or contradictory policies and occupation! 

Some say the GOP has an obsession. They might just be right about that.

GOP Debate- June 2011

June 13 Republican debate:

One thing that caught my attention was how the subject of sharia law came up in a GOP debate. It's quite obvious they don't really know what sharia law even is. And that, I suppose, is what makes it such a great point to bring up to rally the base.

MCELVEEN: Thank you.

While we're on the topic of faith and religion, the next question goes to Mr. Cain. You recently said you would not appoint a Muslim to your cabinet and you kind of back off that a little bit and said you would first want to know if they're committed to the Constitution. You expressed concern that, quote, "a lot of Muslims are not totally dedicated to this country."

Are American-Muslims as a group less committed to the Constitution than, say, Christian or Jews?

CAIN: First, the statement was would I be comfortable with a Muslim in my administration, not that I wouldn't appoint one. That's the exact transcript.

And I would not be comfortable because you have peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims, those that are trying to kill us.

And so, when I said I wouldn't be comfortable, I was thinking about the ones that are trying to kill us, number one.

Secondly, yes, I do not believe in Sharia law in American courts. I believe in American laws in American courts, period. There have been instances -


CAIN: There have been instances in New Jersey -- there was an instance in Oklahoma where Muslims did try to influence court decisions with Sharia law. I was simply saying very emphatically, American laws in American courts.

KING: So, on that point, Governor Romney let me come to you on this.

What Mr. Cain is saying that he would have -- my term, not his -- a purity test or a loyalty test. He would want to ask a Muslim a few question or a few questions before he hired them, but he wouldn't ask those questions of a Christian or Jew.

CAIN: Sorry. No, you are restating something I did not say, OK? If I may, OK?

KING: Please let's make it clear.

CAIN: When you interview a person for a job, you look at their -- you look at their work record, you look at their resume, and then you have a one-on-one personal interview. During that personal interview, like in the business world and anywhere else, you are able to get a feeling for how committed that person is to the Constitution, how committed they are to the mission of the organization --

KING: When I asked -- I asked this question the other night, though, you said you want to ask a Muslim those questions but you didn't you have to ask them to a Christian or a Jew? CAIN: I would ask certain questions, John. And it's not a litmus test. It is simply trying to make sure that we have people committed to the Constitution first in order for them to work effectively in the administration.

Just after this portion, Romney chimes in with a very reasonable response. I guess there is at least one serious candidate, here. I wasn't at all sure.

He only looked stronger when Pawlenty refused to discuss his references to Obamneycare (the other interesting point of the debate) as it directly relates to the candidate. It was a prime opportunity and he missed it. Hmmm...I wonder if this is indicative of his style? This was handed to him on a silver platter; nothing in the election race or Presidency will be that easy... The image that came to mind was of a perfect baseball pitch where the batter hits the deck and covers his head with his arms instead of going for the home run...  :)


So what is sharia law anyway?  Well, you might start thinking about Muslims chopping off Westerners' heads. This is one of the things I think of (besides the actual definition, which is also far from chopping off limbs):

I read a book, I believe (not sure though, as I read a few around that time) it was Kai Bird's Crossing Mandelbaum Gate in which the author gives an example of sharia law being implemented:

A guy is in a car crash and causes the death of another man. In the West, he'd be in jail for manslaughter. It was described in the book that sharia actually caused less suffering and more healing in that the decision was to have the survivor take care of the man's parents and siblings because a big part of their income was lost with the other man's death. I don't know if the following was part of the official decision or it's just what happened, but the dead man's family ended up treating him like a son.

This could help explain (also has a definition of sorts):


One other GOP item of note:

Michele Bachmann just announced her candidacy. She was one of those I thought would be a Palin or Trump. Too sensational; not much substance. I have gotten a few of her emails. This was a FB post of mine:
Not sure why I'm getting emails from Michele Bachmann, but this is going to be a fun election season. Funniest parts: the words "money bomb" (as in donate to it), "betrayal of Israel" (??), and reference to diplomacy as "gallivanting". Socialism, Obamacare and prayer (as in this is a difference between conservatives and liberals, we good-you baaad) were also in there, but those made me yawn instead of giggle.