Tag: Culture

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Let Be the Midwives

The New York Times looks at the prosecution of midwives in Indiana, where only doctors and nurses can legally assist births. I believe the same may hold true in Maryland, where we used a licensed midwife-nurse for our daughter’s birth.

Midwifery certainly predates any law governing the practice or the modern-day practice of hospital deliveries. This doctor-hospital thing is a fairly recent practice, while midwives have been birthing babies for millennia. 

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Twisted Tales for Girls

In today’s New York Times, author Naomi Wolf looks at “cute” books for teenage girls that are anything but sweet.

Teenage girl series, such as “Clique” or “Gossip Girls”, are fitting to the adage, “You can’t judge a book from the cover”. Beneath the banal paperback covers are pages rife with status, shopping, and sex. Excerpted from one of the “A-List” series novels, one teen describes sex with her boyfriend: “We used to jump each other, like, three times a night. When we went out to the movies, we’d sit by a wall and do it during the boring parts”. 

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‘Live 8’ or Death

Two Saturdays ago, the family hauled off to Tysons Corner Center, so that my wife could shop at the New Balance store and my daughter at the Sketchers there. On a giant flat-panel monitor at the back of the Sketchers played Live 8, particularly Richard Ashcroft’s performance, with Coldplay, of The Verve staple “Bittersweet Symphony”.

The performance stuck with me, as did vague memories of Live 8, which I mostly missed. I certainly shouldn’t have overlooked the concert as much as I did. During summer 2005, I struggled through some logistical problems at work, which greatly distracted from many things that should have been greater priority. Events like Live 8 come `round maybe once in 20 years, if Live AID is any indication. 

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Why Be a Statistic?

For no particular reason, I looked at the Weddings page in today’s New York Times and all the happy faces there. Then I wondered how many of these marriages, sadly, would eventually end in bitter divorce. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the divorce rate is about half the marriage rate per 1,000 people.

As a teen, I read the humorous, sci-fi parody, Where Were You Last Pluterday?, by Paul Van Herck. For the main character, marriage was easy. But divorce was a complicated and expensive affair—and he had good reason! 

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Army of the Stuffed

Today’s New York Times story, “They’re Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck“, is a delightful sociological study of why stuffed animals adorn some trucks. Reporter Andy Newman asks, “Why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast?”

He describes the bunnies and other stuffed critters as “soldiers in the tattered, scattered army of the stuffed: mostly discarded toys plucked from the trash and given new if punishing lives on the prows of large motor vehicles, their fluffy white guts flapping from burst seams and going gray in the soot-stream of a thousand exhaust pipes”. 

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The Green is Now About the Money

In a Saturday New York Times review, Jon Pareles writes about the parody Green Day has become. I totally agree with the headline, “Now a Band That It Once Parodied.” Green Day has gone mainstream, along with punk culture.

When I was a teenager, disco choked culture and music to near the point of death. Then along came New Wave and Punk—real Punk—bands pushing a harder sound and lifestyle. Spiked, died hair, black leather, tattoos, and piercings were as much statements as attire, as teens sought to throw of the yolk of their older, self-obsessive Baby Boomer siblings

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Like Father, Like Son

Yesterday I sat near the water fountain adjacent to the Lakeforest Mall kids play area, while my daughter and two friends romped around nearby. Maybe 10 minutes after I plunked down near the water, a chunky kid, probably nine or 10 years old, ran by and spotted a penny on the carpet. “Is this yours?” he asked. I said, “No”. Up ran another kid, much smaller and no older than six years old. “It’s mine!” He grabbed the coin, threw it in the water and ran up the stairs.

“What a little liar”, I thought, completely taken back. I knew for a fact, the coin didn’t belong to this kid, who clearly had just arrived at the play area. Not just a liar, but he took the coin from a much bigger kid, too. The exchange really bothered me, and I wondered what kind of adult this kid might become. 

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Law and Disorder

Good thing I was interested in live TV last night rather than using the DVR. Disappointing would have been the recording. I turned off the TV about half way through the first of two “Law and Order” episodes, disgusted how one-sidedly political the show has become. Naively, I had hoped for respite with the cast change. No such luck.

Episode one sought to put alleged Iraqi prisoner abuses on trial. The timing and context had to be deliberate given the election year. As if we hadn’t watched or read enough already about the prisoners’ treatment for it to be repackaged as entertainment. Geez. I tuned into episode two during the last 20 minutes, which made nonsense out of people devastated by the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers. 

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Racism and Naiveté

Growing up in Northern Maine, a white wonderland in more ways than just snow, doesn’t seem like the best place for exposure to other races, or even cultures. But, my hometown Caribou also was where many kids from “the base”, as in Loring over in Limestone, went to school.

My best buds growing up tended be a different color from me, like the Chung brothers, Davis and Winchell. Not that I noticed. I was colorblind to skin. I remember learning about slavery, civil rights, and racism in eighth grade, a concept that made no sense to me.