Saturday, February 28, 2009


I had the great pleasure two days ago to watch my granddaughter be born. Her mom's water broke in the morning and after 12 hours of pitocin, a nice epidural and 3-4 sets of pushes by mom, Lelina Amara arrived on the scene. February 26, 2009 at 8:54 p.m. PST.

Lelina is a Pohnpeian word that means beautiful girl. It is pronounced Lel LEE na. I have mispronounced it a number of times with my tin ear for foreign languages. It is not Lay LEE na or Luh LEE na. The Lel part means beautiful and the suffix is the feminine version. Dad and mom picked the name to celebrate granddaugher's Pohnpeian heritage.

Amara, I think, came from a baby name book. It means different things in different cultures. From
Origin: Greek
Meaning:Unfading; eternal
Meaning:Bitter; sour
Meaning: Paradise
Meaning: Immortal, 33; a tree
(ah MAH rah)

Let's hope it turns out to portend eternal or paradise rather than bitter and sour.

The experience of going through this delivery inevitably evoked my own memories of giving birth. I went through the births of my two children without an epidural. One of the labors was 34 hours and the other was about 2 hours of which I was conscious although while I was sleeping the night before my daughter's birth I was dreaming of walking around UCLA and doubling over with menstrual cramps so I probably was in labor while I was asleep. I also had pitocin when I was in labor with my son although he still took his time coming into the world. My daughter on the other hand came so fast that they could not give me any pain killers. Of course, the common wisdom of birthing in the US in the 1980s was to avoid medication if at all possible. Natural childbirth was pushed on you by the nurses and you heard a list of horribles would occur to your child if you took painkillers and an epidural--including that your baby would be a conehead due to the use of forceps because you could not really push! This time the nurses were pushing the epidural saying that they did not believe in having the mom be in pain. And pushing the baby out did not seem to be a problem.

I got to be in the labor room and stay around for the post birth activity --the "skin to skin" contact where they put a naked baby on the mother's unclothed skin for the first hour (and on the father too if he wants. My son declined because he had just gotten a new tattoo on his chest.) Twenty five years ago the Leboyer bath was all the rage and my husband did that with my son. Twenty years ago they whisked my daughter off fairly quickly to be weighed, measured etc and wrapped up as a burrito before I got to hold her. That was fine with me. I listened to Brahms Trio in B Major Op. 8 on a cd player while my obstetrician derided me for not having any good music.
Here's a performance of the first movement (in 2 parts)

I did not get to see much of my own children's birth since I was busy and preoccupied. This time, I sat discreetly in the corner and looked around my son who was helping at the birthing table/chair. The baby popped out and I started to tape it on my FlipVideo which I conveniently got as a gift a few weeks ago for speaking at a conference. I was able to capture the doctor cutting the cord and the nurses cleaning Lelina off as she went to lie on her mom's chest. My husband always said that childbirth was amazing to watch and words cannot capture the experience. Now I know what he means.

As one final piece of irony, I posted pictures from the minutes after the birth on Facebook and Myspace so my friends and family could see them. I restricted access on both sites to my friends only. Myspace sent me a message today that it had deleted one of the photos I had posted as a violation of the TOS. That pornographic newborn picture might be seen by someone under 13! Of course, none of my friends on Myspace (all 15 of them) are under 13. So I am wondering if Myspace uses a skin tone recognition pornography filter which my 2.0 friends tell me does not work very well. I guess they are correct.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heroes Redux

There is a Harris Poll each year that asks the question of Americans "Who do you admire enough to call a hero?". This year, God beat Hillary. W beat God. Jesus Christ beat Martin Luther King and Obama beat Jesus. What a hoot!

The only woman to make the top 10 (Hillary was 12, losing out to God by only one rank) was Mother Teresa. Paul Farmer does not think much of Mother Teresa because, among other things, she took money from the Duvaliers of Haiti . She apparently also took money from Keating and did not return it when asked by a prosecutor after Keating was convicted. Critics claim there was a dearth of transparency in the accounts of her charities, which reportedly funneled donations into growing the organization rather than improving standards of care in the medical facilities the charities ran.

Oscars The preshow

I have been watching the Oscars telecast religiously for at least the 15 years I have worked for a studio. It used to be on Monday nights and thus was a day when we could go home early. Now they have moved it to Sundays to help with the traffic (there is a section in the book Traffic about regulating traffic flow on Oscar Sunday). I suppose it also helps that half of Los Angeles is not trying to get home at the same time for the 5 p.m. telecast. And the show is in Hollywood now at the Kodak Theater rather than downtown at the Shrine.

Two observations and then I really have to go get the soup started.

First, I could not find the ballot in the LA Times this morning. Has the bankruptcy caused this time worn tradition to fall by the wayside? I just printed it off the internet from the Rolling Stones site but it is not the same as holding the newsprint version and marking it as each category gets decided.

Second, I am a little concerned about the lack of a comic opening this year. Like the ads during the Super Bowl, one of the joys of the Oscar telecast is the opening monologue. What will Hugh Jackman do? Is it an opening song and dance number? My husband is boycotting the show because there won't be a comedian (although he says he has too much work).

Some Random Thoughts on a Sunday When I Should be Working or Cooking

  1. Do not fence with your spouse with the swordlike Starbucks stoppers if you have arthritis and an overly protective cockalier.

  2. Be afraid for the future of the planet we are leaving to our offspring. Methane gas may accelerate already dire timetables for disaster arising from global warming. Thomas Friedman scared me in Hot Flat and Crowded. The LA Times this morning scared me even more.,0,6678890.story

  3. I am wondering if going to Beverly Hills yesterday made me sick. I felt fine until I went shopping at Anthropologie and saw the overpriced tchatchkes and clothes. And some of the people looking at them (but not my friend who I adore)

  4. I am glad to see that heavier women over the age of 40 look younger. What a relief!

  5. Here is a list of Teaching Company courses I have liked: Shakespeare, Broadway Musicals, Economics,Great World Religions,Genetics (DVD),US and Middle East 1914 to 9/11,Fundamentals of Music,Anatomy (DVD), Great World Literature (Vol 5, 6 and 7), Great Courses Western Music.

  6. Hillary in China as predicted only touched lightly on human rights with Yang Jiechi, which NPR called her counterpart. NPR also reported that China made sure that human rights activists "stayed at home" during Clinton's visit. She responded to critics of her downplaying human rights that she wanted to focus on broader issues: the economy, North Korea and climate change. I suppose human rights won't matter if the world has major floods by 2050. (see LA Times article above)

Friday, February 20, 2009

End of the Surprise

The roses are dead. We drank the wine. The cake is gone. The MacBook is charged up and running but I am still trying to figure out all its secrets and charms.

I saved the two piano shaped truffles for last. I just ate one of them and guess what? It was mint creme filled. A chocolate mint piano candy. What could be better than that? In twitterese : "I just ate a candy. Yum!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

All A-Twitter

Today I signed up for Twitter. I have read about 5 articles in major papers in the past week about Twitter, its rapid growth in the past months, its twitteraholics, and as the LA Times article yesterday said, its ultimate charm. There were awards this year based on votes by users for best Twitter accounts by category. And when you sign up, Twitter shows you a bunch of popular sites so you can "follow" them. I was fascinated and signed on to follow a bunch of political and news sites. I also found some sites about copyright and tech issues so after sampling some of their tweets I decided which to follow--yes to Wired and Eric Goldman, no to Lessig and EFF and Pirate Bay. I even found one that allows me to follow Hillary so now I will know where in the world she is.

Like my first days on Facebook I became a bit obsessed (just a bit) with looking at Twitter and sites and clicking on the tinyurls. So much information in such sound bite friendly size! But I did not get the same rush I got from Facebook in finding people, asking them to be my friend , writing them little notes and getting added as their friend and then looking at their friends to see who I knew. Sometimes I even got little notes back from people I have not seen in years or from people I see on a regular basis! Who would have thought so many people my age would be on Facebook? And then there are the groups and the postings that elicit comments and the status changes that elicit comments and the pictures of long lost friends and the links to news articles. My children call me a Facebook whore. But I do enjoy the combination on FB of information with interpersonal contact. The interpersonal contact, even as limited as it is on FB, is missing from Twitter as I have approached it. I don't want to use Twitter as a constant status update with people I know. I read in some of the articles that people do running commentary on Twitter about the mundane aspects of their lives-- I just got up; I am eating breakfast, yum!; I am heading out to work etc. Some people do that on FB and I do not really mind it since status changes are not as frequent there as on Twitter. All this access to information and others is exhilarating and scary at the same time. How much more of an ADD nation or world will we become?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I am about half way through a book about Paul Farmer by Tracy Kidder. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World . He is a fascinating subject and a consummate do-gooder.

Dr. Paul Farmer Challenges Profit-Driven Medical System While Bringing Healthcare to Poor Communities Worldwide
Paul Farmer is not your ordinary doctor. In going to the poorest places on earth, he is not only treating patients, but challenging whole healthcare systems. More than twenty year ago, Dr. Farmer co-founded the charity Partners in Health to provide free medical care in central Haiti. Today, Partners In Health provides healthcare for people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other conditions in Haiti and eight other countries around the world. We spend the hour with Dr. Farmer on his work, his remarkable background and the challenges of pursuing healthcare with a social justice perspective.

Where in the world do people like Paul Farmer come from? Is he wired differently so that he doesn't need to sleep. How does he manage to get so much done? How does he sustain his passion for trying to heal some of the world's most neglected? I do not understand that passion and focus.

What kind of price must the people who are close to him pay? Ophelia Dahl refused to marry him because she did not want to come second in his life. He has a daughter. How will she perceive men with a father whose passion for his work inevitably comes first?

But he is a very admirable advocate of social justice and as the following video shows does not expect everyone to devote their lives like he has, just some part of their lives.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President's Day

I suppose in honor of President's Day "da Times", (tip of the hat to SNL) another paragon of fair and balanced reporting, called on a panel of experts, who are all writers for the Times and thus eminently qualified to opine on the United States, to rank US Presidents. They put Lincoln as number 1. Not that controversial. But surprisingly (or perhaps not too surprisingly given the results when my daughter's poli sci course engaged this past fall in the same ranking exercise) they ranked Ronald Reagan as number 8! Mostly Reagon was credited for his "revolutionary zeal", his economic policies and participation in ending the cold war. Yikes!

As governor, Reagan instituted cuts and opposed additional funding that resulted in damage to a previously good education system in California. That system was further kicked to the ground by Proposition 13 after Reagan left office. However, Reagan's disdain for supporting public education was so overwhelming that in 1970 half of the LAUSD teachers went on strike to protest crumbling buildings, worn and outdated textbooks, and overcrowded classes.

As President, Reagan's economic policies, particularly in deregulation, contributed to the savings and loan crisis in the early '80s, a portent of the current bank crisis arising from lack of regulation. He also left a huge budget deficit due to his tax cuts and continued spending. W's attempt to reinstitute Reagan's "trickle down economics" shows how ineffective and inequitable an economic plan it is. Reagan also eliminated price controls on oil which continued American's delusion that it could use as much oil as it wanted without any consequences.

On foreign policy, let's not forget some of the charming highlights of Reagan's presidency:

  • Iran Contra The administration violated the law by selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. How Reagan escaped impeachment and prosecution stumps me.

  • El Salvador Reagan provided aid to the right wing government which perpetuated human rights abuses. He vetoed Congress' bill to make such aid contingent on having the Salvadoran government make real progress in human rights observance.

  • Afghanistan In what some believe was the beginnings of his Alzheimer's, Reagan forgot that he did not want to supply Stinger hand held antiaircraft missiles to the mujahideen and instead sent them those arms as well as extensive training by the CIA which they later parlayed into action as part of the Taliban and Al Queda.

  • Cold War Reagan's hard line stand on the Soviet Union and his pushing of "Star Wars" (Strategic Defense Initiative), in the view of some political scientists, extended the cold war rather than ending it. The Soviet Union collapsed because it spent 10 years fighting Afghanistan and its economy went to sh#t.

  • Aid to Angola Reagan loved to interfere wherever he could to change governments if he felt that government was a pawn of the USSR. Reagan's aid to UNITA, whose human rights abuses are shocking, perpetuated the fighting in that country with the support of apartheid South Africa.

The sound bite quote for the choice of Reagan as 8th best President was given to neocon darling Gerard Baker, assistant editor of The Times, "Revived American self-confidence at its lowest ebb." Seriously, Mr. Baker? With a little help from Iran which got its payback later (see bullet point 1 above)

China Syndrome

Once again, it is difficult to find any mention of our new Secretary of State in the newspapers. What has she been doing? The LA Times today suggests that Hillary is picking and choosing her assignments so as to maximize her outcomes. Specifically she is focussing on China where she is likely to make more headway than in some of the other "inheritances" such as Iran (and those pesky nukes), Afpak and No. Korea. Those get "super envoys" like Holbrooke.

The characterization of Clinton trying to own China because it is such a good gig reminds me of the Amy Poehler skit on SNL right after the election when she appeared as the Secretary of State designee Hillary Clinton and said "There has never been a worse time in our nation's history to step into the Presidency. Boo hoo. Seriously would you rather fix the economy or travel the globe. Point Hillary!"

What will Hillary do in China? Well, she will wrest away the economic issues from administration economists, try to undo Geithner's comment about China manipulating currency, talk about climate change and the environment, and mention Tibet and human rights, although very softly. Huh? Hillary took China to task years ago about its human rights practices but times change. Or do they? Our government has done little in the past 15 years to address human rights abuses in China. I remember giving a talk about 13 years ago at a law school about the limited but improving access and cooperation we were getting in motion picture antipiracy and distribution issues in China and having a human rights lawyer tell me after the talk that they wanted our secret since they had no access or cooperation. Well, I guess Hillary has to choose her battles. I wish her luck on her quest to conquer China.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. If you read the NYT, most mentions are made of Darwin. If you read the comics, the safer mention is of Abraham Lincoln. A new book claims that Darwin was motivated to develop his theories of evolution because of his strong abolitionist beliefs that all people are equal. Today we have an African American president but continuing disbelief in this country in evolution.

I just finished The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, a polemic against religion and a deification, if you will, of science and evolution. I am still sorting out how I feel about the book. I do not believe that the bible is literally true and I agree with Dawkins and my daughter's AP English teacher that one should study the bible because it is reflected in many western literary and artistic works. In college, I developed what I called the church of Apathism, those who don't care about religion and God. However, as I have gotten older I take more interest in the "spiritual" aspects of life, particularly in the sense that there is an energy force that connects all life. Dawkins explores very briefly the idea that belief in God exists as a source of comfort for people that someone is always there for them even in the worst of times and analogizes it to having an imaginary friend in childhood. Loss and death of loved ones is traumatic and belief in God does cushion that blow. Since life is ephemeral it is comforting to believe in something greater than oneself that persists and continues. Deepak Chopra has a series of articles about The God Delusion on his website which I would like to read when I have some time. This area of what to believe about the existence of God has always been difficult for me since I was raised a Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools until age 18. Our children were not raised in an organized religion and yet both of them have sought the comfort of church from time to time. It is a very powerful cultural pull that by itself makes the idea of it being all myth difficult to comprehend.

Tomorrow is the 28th anniversary of my father's death. I miss him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SURPRISE!! Yes and No.

Last night when I arrived home from work, my family greeted me with a surprise party to celebrate my promotion, which is approved but not yet public (until now :) ). On the table was a cake, yellow roses, a large box of elegant truffles and a new MacBook. My son cooked a feast on the barbecue--two kinds of fish, fruit marinated chicken, steak satay and chicken sausage. The girls made mashed potatoes and my mother in law made a salad. My husband had promised to cook but did the organizational work instead, delegating the bulk of the work to my son, who has become quite a good cook. And people laughed when I bought him an Easy Bake Oven when he was 5 years old.

I was so touched and happy at the effort and the grand gesture. However, it was not the surprise I pretended it to be. A few days ago my grandson came into my bedroom and asked me if he could look inside a large brief case sitting near my desk. The litigation case belongs to my husband and had been sitting there for a while. I checked to see if it was locked and since it wasn't, I popped it open for the child. Lo and behold, there was a MacBook inside. He said "Ooooo, a computer!" I said that I would have to ask Grandpa about whose it was. So yesterday morning I remembered and asked my husband. First he said "What computer?" Then he confessed and made me swear that I would pretend to be surprised. I called to check with him an hour before I came home and he reiterated that I needed to act surprised. I am not the best of actors, but I tried to act surprised. Of course, it became clear that he had told everyone about what my grandson had done so my acting surprised was another part of the surprise! Nothing is a secret in a house with a 3 year old. But the evening was wonderful and I am thrilled to get the MacBook which I have coveted for a long time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Know Much About Africa

A few years ago, in a delightful Cosmopolitan haze, I announced to those at the dinner table that I wanted to go to Africa. Most of them laughed and tried to grab the cocktail glass from my hand. Not because of what Africa is but because I am the most unlikely person to go to Africa. But I decided I wanted to know more about the area in the hopes that I might make it there someday. My first effort was to buy the book "Bottom Billion" in the summer of 2007 and read it on vacation. I got about a third of the way into it and realized there was a reason I never studied much economics. Someday I will go back to the book and apparently there is a much more accessible Paul Theroux book on Africa that I was encouraged to read this weekend by our out of town guest. I have also acquired a Teaching Company course on Africa but it is still in the queue of things to put in my brain. And my husband is likely going to Morocco next month so I have been trying to get him to take me with him. Unfortunately our travel fund, like our window replacement fund and our carpet replacement fund, is going to Uncle Sam instead. After all, we should pay our taxes in case someone shows up at our door offering a cabinet or other high level position in the administration. We wouldn't want our dreams "daschled" (groan).

Our guest this past weekend is a diplomat and most of his postings have been in Africa. So I got a chance again to get some nuggets of info about Africa even if I cannot get there. Here are some quick bulletpoints:

  • China is investing heavily in Africa's infrastructure. They are building roads, skyscrapers etc. In return, they get a mine here and a farm there. The China beast is hungry for resources. Good luck next week Hillary (Yes, I found her)

  • Liberia does not have much to do. Unfortunately it has been in the throes of a civil war for 14 years. Old guard vs. new guard.

  • South Africa is very dangerous. People get killed there for little reason (this is something I believe I have heard before). American travelers get robbed a lot. However Capetown is apparently one of the most beautiful places on earth.

  • Zimbabwe is a mess. (This I also already knew) The currency has dramatically devalued and cholera is rampant even though it is a treatable disease.

  • If you take a canoe trip on the Zambezi, you need to tap on the side of the canoe regularly. Otherwise the hippos in the river will be attracted by the movement of the water and surface near you, either upending you or crushing you.
These are the few superficial things I know and I imagine I am not alone is being largely ignorant of Africa. (Someone of my daughter's friends recently identified Africa as a country rather than a continent.) Given, bulletpoint one above, we should all heed the desire, whether fueled by vodka or not, to learn more about Africa.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Times

I have had a Sunday morning paper reading ritual for quite some time. It started in college some 35 years ago when I would get up early and take one of the 6 copies of the NY Times delivered to my dorm (called a house in my women's college) up to my bedroom to read in luxurious privacy before breakfast was available. I would look for Ninas in Hirschfeld and read the wedding announcements to see where people had gone to college. Then I would settle into the book review section and eventually the front page and the week in review. I would have the bulk of the paper read early enough to return the paper for the others in my house who led normal lives and slept in on Sundays.

These days I still get up early on Sunday. This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. and after the ritual reading of the blackberry and feeding of the animals, I went outside to get the 2 of 3 newspapers I have delivered to my house every day. The NY Times and our local local paper were waiting for me but as usual the LA Times delivery person sleeps in late on Sunday so that came later at about 7:15. I go through a sorting ritual reminiscent of JK Rowling, tossing the ads, USA Weekend type mags and articles about fashion into one pile and that which I will read, including my beloved comics, into another pile. So far I am alone and since I know that after the sports page my husband will snag the NYT book review, I read that first.

Some observations on today's paper:

1. They delivered with the NYTimes today the Super Lawyers of So Cal magazine--that popularity contest that this year decided to announce that no one had paid to be listed even though most of us believe that people do pay to be listed. Not to take away from some of the excellent lawyers listed therein, including my husband, I have to believe that for most entries if not a direct payment to the publisher of the magazine, the listed lawyers have a publicity machine that makes them visible and thus worthy of inclusion. I am not in the magazine and never have been except in a picture with my husband so you can take these sentiments for whatever they may be.

2. The NYT book review covered The Inheritance by David Sanger, a book my husband is currently reading and loving. The review was so-so suggesting that the thesis of the book is correct (change can only take place around the edges with each new president because of what he inherits from prior administrations) but the details are suspect particularly one involving the length of the Iraq war compared to other wars in which the US has been involved. I hope to read the book when hubby finishes but there are so many books in my queue right now that it is hard to get to new ones.

3. I see that Ann Coulter's new book is number 2 on the best seller list for nonfiction hardcover books. WHY?! I understand from one of my friends that people like opinionated people but why do people like mean spirited simplistic opinionated people?

4. Afghanistan and Pakistan are certainly all the rage now. The NYT had a front page article about Richard Holbrooke who we were discussing at dinner last night with a friend from the State Dept. I hope to write separately about Afpak. But this article and the article yesterday about Biden speaking out about Russia lead me to ask--WHERE IS HILLARY?

5. The LATimes had an article about a human rights lawsuit in SF by Nigerians against Chevron which the Nigerian villagers lost. Chevron is seeking attorneys' fees of approximately 1/2 million dollars. The Nigerians sued based on shootings of protesters by soldiers at a Chevron oil rig off the coast of Nigeria in 1998. The article seemed to me to make Chevron look bad, citing in an early paragraph that Chevron posted a "record $23.8-billion profit for 2008." Again, maybe I am biased since my husband was involved on the plaintiffs' side of the case although not at the trial.

I have not yet read the NYT Sunday Styles section since I do follow the weddings as avidly as I did in my younger years. Obviously that section has changed dramatically since the early '70s with the inclusion now of couple pictures and notices of same gender marriages. That is not why I am no longer as interested --just to be clear.

As I read about the problems print papers have--LATimes bankruptcy and financial problems at the NYT--I hope that they do not become extinct. I love the internet but please let me have my Sunday sorting ritual and the comfort of newsprint on my hands.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Did I Ever Tell You You're my Hero?

Typically in 3rd or 4th grade here in So. Cal public schools, children are given the assignment to write about their hero. My son, I am certain, like most boys his age chose a famous sports figure although I cannot remember who. Today we got more evidence that famous sports figures should not be anyone's heroes.

It does not surprise me that A-Rod reportedly used steroids. It does not surprise me that he is said to have lied about it. Here is one of the most famous baseball players of all time and we discover that some of his success was due to "enhancement". Not surprising because professional sports is a business and these multimillionaire players must be under so much pressure to maintain their measly standard of living that they must cheat and they must lie about it.
I remember when Kobe Bryant was accused of sexual assault. He had tried to cultivate the cleancut but cosmopolitan image until that event. Now his image is a bit different. He may be a good ball player but hopefully he is not any child's hero anymore.

When my daughter did her hero paper over ten years ago she named her then skating coach Liz. Liz is now a mother, a lawyer and won the Championship Masters Level at US Adult Nationals in 2005, landing a double axel. That's a sports hero. No lies, no steroids. Just hard work and talent. Something A-Rod probably did at one point before it became more important to be the best than to be honest. I hope that real sports heros continue to work hard and stay honest. It seems so rare these days.

Online Pirates 1- Studios 0? Not so sure.

The New York Times had a front page article the other day that online sites providing links to pirate motion pictures are going to wipe out studios just like Napster eviscerated the record industry. Well, Napster and other p2p sites did do a lot of damage to the record industry. I got invited to attend the Grammys this year. You know the industry is in major decline when the likes of me are the type of people who attend the Grammys. I of course am not going to the Grammys because, like Groucho Marx, I would never join a club that would have me.

But I digress. The linking sites (which I have dubbed "leeching sites") are getting quite popular but at this time there is no evidence that they and other online pirate sites account for 40% of the losses to the industry, a statistic attributed to the MPAA in the NY Times article but unfortunately not a statistic provided by the MPAA or available to my knowledge in any reliable report. I went on a leeching site called Surfthechannel the last two days since it has a high Alexa rating and seems to be causing a stir. I was able to watch a very good copy of last week's "Big Love" episode, which I can get anyway from TW OnDemand at home. I also watched about a half hour of a good copy of the Reader which I had to watch that long to determine it came from an Academy screener. (wink wink) Then I got a message about an hour later on my computer that I had a trojan horse virus. I called IT and he said I was the third to report it but not to worry, no biggie. About 10 minutes later the IT guy called me to tell me to shut down from the network immediately because the virus was spreading like wildfire (his words not mine). Moments later, the IT police showed up at my door to collect my laptop to clean off the virus. Even though I was doing my job by looking at the leeching site, I got guilty (damn that Catholic upbringing) that maybe I was the source of the virus. The leeching site connected to Megavideo which is the source of a lot of full length pirate motion pictures but you can't find them unless you go through a leeching site. I hope my research did not cause my network server to crash. All I know is that I got an afternoon without the distraction of my computer and my email and I was able to clean up my desk and do a little reading for a change. What a treat!

I think I will try to go to the theater later today to see the rest of the Reader.

Friday, February 6, 2009

They Say It Never Rains in So Cal

Since it is pouring outside, I will forego my morning walk at the beach and write a bit here instead. I am excited that Leon Panetta so clearly stated that waterboarding is torture. It is about time. I recommend Jane Meyer's book "Dark Side" which is an excellent summary of the use of torture and rendition. It is a bit disappointing that President Obama is retaining rendition as an option. Hard to reconcile an improved view toward whether our agents engage in torture with kidnapping suspected terrorists and turning them over to regimes for whom torture is a sport.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Say It Ain't So Ruth!

I am so sick of cancer. Today's bad news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has pancreatic cancer does not hit home as closely as other recent diagnoses in family and close friends. But I still feel a connection to Justice Ginsberg. She is the only woman left on the Court and a wonderful smart liberal. And when my husband moved to admit me to the Supreme Court in 1995 before his argument there, I was sitting (actually standing at that particular moment) right in front of her and she smiled and winked at me! Woman power! Good luck with your recovery Justice Ginsberg. You will be in my healing thoughts.

Much Ado About 500K Somethings

According to my hubby, the 500K limit on salaries to those the government is bailing out was the talk of Starbucks this morning. (Thank you dear for fetching my morning elixir). The comments were overwhelming favorable. I think Obama made a smart move both for PR and substance.

This says it all:

"We don't begrudge anybody for achieving success. And we believe that success should be rewarded. But what gets people upset -- and rightfully so -- are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers."

Who cares about the free economy? It got messed up as soon as the bailout was passed (which I did favor given how bad the situation had gotten. Damn those Derivatives!!). So make sure no one benefits unfairly from the bailout.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Piano - a little louder now

I have been taking piano lessons for about 6 years now. I recently started with a new teacher after a year hiatus and learned that I had a fundamental flaw in my technique. I looked at the keys instead of the music. I have spent the last few months now trying to learn how to keep my fingers on the keyboard. I have given up the more difficult pieces I had learned and am working on more basic pieces. The only problem is that I have no desire to practice anymore. A large part of it is the fact that I have 7 people living in my house (with an eighth on the way and occasional visits from one of the original 4) and the living room houses both the piano and the Bravia. The Bravia is always on CNN or sports. And even if I can get some time to play without television in the background, my 3 year old grandson decides that it is really his turn to play the piano and insists on hopping up with me or crying loudly when I try to keep him at bay. So practicing, which is now more like work because I am trying to fix bad habits, is doubly like work because I have to overcome these obstacles to get "me time" at the piano. I need to set up some rules about times that I have access to the piano and the living room without distraction so I can work on learning how to feel the intervals instead of looking at them. I need to find my voice in this cacophony of a family and stop hiding in my bedroom on my blackberry, at my computer or even worse in front of the TV. Free the Hermosa 88!

I Have a Dream! Saving the Speech

I had dinner with a lawyer last night who represented the MLK estate and told the story of how the famous "I Have a Dream" speech almost went into the public domain. A district court ruled that the speech had been published without notice based on arguments by Lloyd Abrams. The court of appeal reversed after the lawyer for the estate argued you cannot say "Free at last, Free At Last, Thank God Almighty I am Free at Last. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED."
I have not read the case and only had previously heard that the "I have a dream" portion of the speech was extemporaneous. I should take a look to see if I can find the decision.