Saturday, August 11, 2007

Broad Cast for 11 August 2007

Passport photo, 1956, for Mary Jo Atkins Barnett and little Maggie. I was running a fever from my travel vaccinations and not a completely happy baby. Mama was told not to smile. Our dresses matched (something she continued to do until I got old enough to rebel). Check out her deep red lipstick.

This feature, Broad Cast, will consist of links to various online articles and features I've run across and want to recommend. I'll be doing this regularly. One thing I find completely obnoxious about such "round-ups" on most blogs is their proclivity for just using cutesy, incomplete phrases to indicate links, instead of telling you what the link is about -- as if you have unlimited time and energy to click your way through a list of items you may or may not want to read about. I promise not to do that here. You'll be well-informed before you leap to anything I hypermark.

In America, the top one-tenth of one percent of earners makes about the same money per year collectively as the millions of Americans in the bottom fifty percent combined. At PBS NOW "David Brancaccio talks with Pulitzer prize-winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston, as well as author and advocate Beth Shulman about the state of our country's vast income divide and how it's hurting those just trying to make ends meet." At the website link above, you can read excerpts from these two authors' books, a P.O.V. interview with Barbara Ehrenreich, and check out other pertinent links.

"Parents hoping to raise baby Einsteins by using infant educational videos are actually creating baby Homer Simpsons, scientists said today. For every hour a day that babies 8 to 16 months old watched such popular video series as Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein, they knew six to eight fewer words than other children."
Huh -- once again, there's no substitute for human interaction or reading a BOOK. "The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children younger than 24 months." That's NO television. It's a developmental thang.

I've gained a lot of useful self-insight by taking Implicit Association Tests at this well-respected site. Their intro states: "It is well known that people don't always 'speak their minds', and it is suspected that people don't always 'know their minds'. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology. This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short." I can't recommend it enough.

A recent post by Terrance DC (Terrance Heath) speaks to the irony of lesbian and gay adoptions under attack in Oklahoma when the poisonous example of so many heterosexual parents leaves us breathless. The post has some chilling stories that you might have a hard time reading, but I wanted the chance to plug this man's blog, The Republic of T., who describes himself as "Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal."

This article by Jane Mayer at The New Yorker has been referred to repeatedly in the blogosphere since it was published this week. Entitled "The Black Sites", it offers "A rare look inside the C.I.A.'s secret interrogation program." The details are here, folks. But it's a devastating read -- the real deal.

The very first thing I thought of when I heard about the Minneapolis bridge collapse was the prospect of being a parent with small children or babies strapped into car seats as I drove across that bridge. The possibility of having to make unthinkable choices if we hit the water alive. I actually had a nightmare about it. The linked article from a Minneapolis news source verified my nightmare, so don't go here if you don't want to know. Thx to BitchPh.D. for the tip.

Lastly, a new website called Flight Memory
"enables you to easily keep track of where you have flown and then easily produce maps showing your flight routes. We'll also tell you your total time in the air, distance flown and even keep track of aircraft types and airlines!" It's free and it's already been illuminating for me. I have vivid impressions from my family's flight to Brazil in December of 1967: The precipitous descent into the airport at Caracas, Venezuela; my little brother Bill scampering away at Lima, Peru toward two soldiers with machine guns, asking them brightly if he could "touch the guns", and the extreme tension in that terminal until my mother caught up with him (the soldiers were not amused); crossing the Andes for several hours from Lima to Rio de Janeiro, at one point flying directly over an active volano where I was able to look down into the caldera and see a lake of lava; the chaos of Rio, and the increasing subsequent chaos of the Salvador and Aracaju airports, which had no electronic or even written flight information posted, only staticky announcements in a language none of us spoke. I, at age 12, was hyper-aware of my mother's feverish worry and my father's incompetence. But learning the actual distances and times of these flights has helped me construct a more coherent narrative. It's easy to sign up and use the tables, even if your memory is incomplete or sketchy.

Here's a poem I wrote about that flight, putting myself inside my mother's head:

BAHIA 1969

The airport in Bahia had open windows
Beyond the tarmac were unfamiliar trees
The children kept asking if we might
see monkeys, kept asking for something else
to drink, why can't we eat the ice

The plane was there, we could see it
but men had pulled apart one engine
Pieces of metal flashed in the sun

I spoke not a single word of Portugese
I kept opening my phrasebook, trying
to memorize anything useful but if I
did not keep my eyes on the children
every second one of them walked away
into the crowd that contained crates of chickens
and dogs on ropes, were they really going to
let those dogs on the plane?

The loudspeaker had a short
but I couldn't have made out
a word in any case

Ourr boarding passes were
kelly green plastic squares, I kept track of
the people nearby who had the same color passes
If they got up to talk to an agent, or stand at
the window, I did too, hissing at the children
to grab their bags, come on, this might be it

What kind of mother would drag her children
onto a plane that obviously needed major repairs
At least if it went down, we would all be
together. I had no idea if the jungle here
had monkeys, or snakes, or giant black scorpions

The phrasebook said Thank you was Obrigada
which seemed to mean I'm much obliged

When my son tried to wander off one more time
I was going to declare out loud if he got lost
I planned to just leave him behind. His pale
face would go bloodless but nobody here would
understand what I had said

written by Maggie Jochild on 27 April 2006, 5:41 a.m.

No comments: