Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together

My typist firmly believes that the saddest moment in all of literature, the passage she cannot ever read without instantly tearing up, is the ending of A. A. Milne's The House At Pooh Corner.

Christopher Robin is about to start school. Knowing that his childhood life of play is coming to an end, he takes his beloved bear to an enchanted place in the forest and asks him to promise never to forget him and the delights of the time they have spent together. Pooh promises to remember, even if Christopher Robin lives to be a hundred and he lives to be ninety-nine. The vow made, the serious mood lifts and the two run off to nowhere in particular for a final romp. And then, the finest book in children's literature concludes with the following words:
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
My poor typist. She hates working with tears running down her cheeks.

Are you with me, darlings? Close readers that you are, have you figured out what I am trying to say?

It's time, my pretties. After six and a half years and 761 posts, it's time to bring the active phase of this happy experiment in social media to an end. To put it simply, I've been dead for nearly three years. I think it's high time I retired, don't you?

Thank you.
Thanks to every single one of you for being a part of this quirky, (un)real place, which the middle-aged broad who brought it into being has always thought of as at least a little bit enchanted -- because of you. Thank you for reading, for caring, for keeping the spirit of play alive in your own selves and in the world. That spirit will never die, because the world and all its critters need it, desperately. If you live to be a hundred, don't ever lose sight of that truth.

As of now, the blogging here will end, but the blog will go on in the sense of being here, always, for you, like some loyal companion animal of Very Little Brain whose love you need and whose insights might suggest that brains are overrated. As of now, Roxie's World is an archive of what we have thought and felt and how we have endured the past six and a half years. Come back from time to time. No one but me will know you've been here, and I will love knowing you stopped by.

Now, put down your hankies, kids, and listen up. I've got some good news, too. Are you ready?

Moose has launched a brand new blog. It's up. It's going. You are invited to head over there. As soon as you finish reading this.

A brand new blog? Yep! I thought she should call it Moose, Unleashed, but for some baffling reason she has opted to call it The Madwoman with a Laptop instead. (Could the name have something to do with the little essay she contributed to this collection? Who knows?) What's the new blog going to be and do? Well, one never quite knows with blogs, but the inaugural post makes it sound as if fans of this here blog will feel right at home with the Madwoman, who promises to offer "commentary on a similar, eclectic mix of subjects from a familiar perspective: queer, feminist, critter-affirming, with a tone that moves between and among irreverence, optimism, and righteous indignation, with occasional unapologetic lapses into sentimentality. I’ll write about higher education, middle age, new media, politics, queer stuff, books I read or teach, the stuff I watch on TV. I will rail about Excellence Without Money (which is still ™RW Enterprises LLC) and wax rhapsodic on college women’s basketball. I’ll offer glimpses of life with my new companion terrier, Ruby, and my companion human of 28+ years, the woman known on Roxie’s World as Goose. There’ll be jokes, recipes, pictures I take. Maybe even pictures I draw."

Pictures I draw? See caricature above. Which proves that there may well be some Madness in the Woman who has launched this new venture. Girl, put the stylus down and step away from the iPad before someone gets hurt!

Anyhoo, kids, speaking of the woman known in these precincts as Goose, we realize there may be some identity challenges ahead for some of this blog's readers as we negotiate the transition to The Madwoman with a Laptop. You'll be pleased to know that the Office of Persona Management will remain open should you need assistance in figuring out who to be. Mark Twain is standing by, Candy Man, and is ready to hand out advice on all matters comical and ontological. Some things never change, I swear.

But some things do change, my darlings, and that isn't necessarily bad. Our ability to adapt to change is a measure of our strength and resilience. Roxie's World has always been a celebration of resilience, hasn't it? Of picking up and carrying on, in every sense of the term.

So, carry on:
  • Subscribers: Add The Madwoman to your feed readers. Now. Moose's fragile self-esteem won't survive a crash in readership.
  • Blog pals: Put The Madwoman in your blog rolls. Immediately. Please? Looking at you, cowgirl, and you, Crazy. And I know you're on vacay, TR, but hop to, will ya?
  • Everybody: Show some love. Leave a comment here and there to let us know we're still a pack and always will be. Pretty please with kibble on top?
My typist has gone through half a box of Kleenex working on this post and still is reluctant to bring it to a close. As I said before, though, it's time. I know in my large and long still heart that it is time. Even my typist is ready, but she's too choked up to speak right now, so we'll let comic genius Carol Burnett have the last word. Seems we just get started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say -- 

Oh, you know the rest. Peace out, my pretties. Thanks for running with us.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Power Struggles

There's a lively debate going on in post-derecho DC and the surrounding areas on how to make life in the national capital region a bit less like life in one of the less developed countries of the developing world when it comes to such basic accoutrements of civilization as, you know, lights and refrigeration. Is it time to consider burying power lines so they'll be less vulnerable to the extreme weather events that seem likely to occur with alarming frequency in the world brought about by our stubborn refusal to reckon with global warming? Can de-regulated, union-busting utilities like the justly maligned Pepco be expected -- or compelled -- to do a better job of getting customers back online when mass outages occur with little advance warning, as was the case with the sudden, violent storm that occurred on the sweltering evening of June 29? Or is it time to hunker down with our ukuleles and our generators and admit that we are, in this as in so many things, fundamentally screwed and on our own?

Ah, kids, modern life. The feisty old broads of Roxie's World know better than to be nostalgic for any mythical good old days, because the good old days were always already complex and flawed and unjust to whole bunches of people. Still, they are tempted from time to time to sigh that things are a bit less pleasant than they used to be. (My typist pauses here to check on which character it is in Flannery O'Connor's story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" who declares that, "Everything is getting terrible." Turns out it is not the doomed, talkative grandmother but Red Sammy, owner of the barbecue place/filling station where the family stops for lunch before the grandmother's flawed recollection sets up their fateful rendezvous with the murderous Misfit. Everything is getting terrible. It's a useful, funny, haunting line, even if one doesn't share Red Sam or the grandmother's nostalgia for a brutally ordered past. Sometimes, even one strenuously committed to seeing the glass as half full is inclined to feel that perhaps a lot of things are getting rather terrible.)

All those complicated questions of power are, however, above my pay grade. Instead of answers or recommendations, all I have to offer are a few photos that document the devastation wrought by the derecho in the physical space of Roxie's World. They also document Pepco's failure, nearly two weeks after the storm, to clear the neighborhood of potentially dangerous debris. Here, for example, is what is left of the utility pole that was brought down by a large tree in the yard right across the street from the Moms' house. The photo was taken on Monday, but the large piece of pole is still dangling out over the street in the middle of Thursday afternoon:

At night, that dangling remnant is just about the spookiest thing you've ever seen. And whenever the wind blows, Moose's heart skips a beat or two as her post-derecho stress disorder kicks in and she wonders what might happen if another big storm kicks up while that pole is still hanging around.

The next photo shows the two-pole solution Pepco contrived over on the Moms' side of the street after the top quarter of our pole snapped off in the storm. Workers installed a new, much taller pole right next to the old one, which still seems to have the wires for phone and cable running off of it. Moose calls this photo "Bi-Polar Disorder":

Finally, up in the next block, you see what's left of a massive tree that fell right across the road and landed on a car. These neighbors are trying to sell their property, which right now looks, as the sign says, "Impressive!" but not in a way likely to entice buyers:

(All photos by Moose, 7/9/12.)

Woodcutters of the world, I invite you to Roxie's World. There's a fortune to be made in chopping up firewood for winter. The Moms promise to buy a cord or three to prepare for the power outages the next snowpocalypse will undoubtedly bring.

And, Pepco, my Pepco, is it any wonder your name is a curse word, the nasty, hilarious song on everybody's lips? No, it is no wonder at all. We'll embed the song and dedicate it to our good friend PhysioProf, who will appreciate the salty Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. Srsly, Pepco, how hard can it be, to clear a f*cking tree? Your customers long to know. Peace out, and leave the lights on, baby.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

You Light Up My Life

(Photo Credit: Moose, 7/3/12, South Haven, MI)

Happy Fourth of July, darlings. The Moms and Ms. Ruby are in Michigan, fortunately, where there is electricity and air conditioning and unspoiled food and a really big, pretty lake. Which is good, because back home, five days after the epic (what the heck is a) derecho (anyway) that struck the DC area, the house still does not have power!

We'll spare you the anti-Pepco rant for now. (But if you really want one, go here.) It's a holiday, and we've got a parade to get to. Ms. Ruby and cousin Scooter will be sporting patriotic dog gear. What will you be wearing? Wherever you are, we hope you have power today. And fun. Lots and lots of fun. Peace out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sullivan's Laws

Question of the Day: How could a university president hired from the outside who's only been on the job for two years inspire such fierce loyalty that faculty, students, staff, and alumni from all over the state would interrupt their lives and summers to stage a mass insurrection against an ill-conceived and badly managed plot by a corporate board to force her to resign?

Answer for the Ages: It's right here, in a WaPo story on how hard University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, a leader with a "relationship-based, relationship-centered presidency," worked in those two years to win hearts and minds in Charlottesville. You should go read the whole story, but here's the money quote:
From the start, Sullivan outlined what she called “Sullivan’s laws”: Never surprise an administrator. Never punish the messenger. Don’t hide bad news; meet it head-on. People and time are our greatest resources; don’t waste them. When dealing with a difficult matter, don’t leave anyone out, or else be prepared for fallout.
We'll pause here briefly while you all swoon over such inspiring common sense from an academic administrator who gets that strong, effective leadership is first and foremost about listening. And honesty. Crazy! No wonder they wanted to dump her!

Also, however, I'm thinking someone should take that sentence about dealing with difficult matters and needlepoint it onto a pillow for Rector Helen Dragas, who could definitely use a lesson or two in fallout avoidance. Don't leave anyone out, especially if the person you are thinking of leaving out is, like, a rockstar/goddess among the group of people who will be most affected by the decision you are secretly engineering! Why? Because inclusivity is cheaper than paying Hill & Knowlton to clean up your mess!

AnyHoos, UVA's Board of Visitors meets at 3 this afternoon to vote on Sullivan's possible reinstatement. (WaPo games out how the voting is likely to go here.) Paws and fingers in Roxie's World are crossed that cool heads and common sense will prevail as the Board goes for its big do-over. We recommend that you follow the action on Twitter, which has been an amazing source of real-time information throughout the crisis at UVA. Even if you are not among the Twitterati, you can search on the hashtag #UVA for the latest tweets. By the way, WaPo has done a swell job on this story. You'd almost think they were still a serious newspaper, with actual reporters and everything. Srsly. Props to higher education reporters Daniel de Vise, Jenna Johnson, Anita Kumar, and Donna St. George for thorough, thoughtful coverage.

Peace out, Jeffersonians, and if there's any doubt as to where this blog stands on the matter of The People v. Helen Dragas, let us dispel it now:

Friday, June 22, 2012

In Praise of Incrementalism

At some point in grad school, Moose acquired a postcard that has been on a bulletin board in one of her offices or another ever since. It must capture a popular sentiment, because thirty-ish years later the card is still available on the interwebs. Here 'tis:

Moose has shown this image to generations of students slogging their way through the often torturously slow process of researching and writing a dissertation. It's an image that pops into her head every time she hears some pin-headed administrator shriek about the urgency of reducing time to degree, as if doctoral programs were assembly lines that could crank out PhDs as efficiently as Detroit once cranked out cars. It's an image that also seems relevant to the story that has rocked public higher education over the past couple of weeks, the ouster of Teresa A. Sullivan as president of the University of Virginia just two years after being unanimously elected to the post by the university's Board of Visitors. Though details of what led to Sullivan's forced resignation remain murky, Board Rector Helen Dragas and (now former) Vice Rector Mark Kington, who spearheaded the move to dump Sullivan, clearly felt the new president wasn't moving quickly enough to make changes they felt were needed, particularly with regard to online education. When Sullivan addressed the Board eight days after her resignation was announced, she offered a full-throated defense of her record and leadership style:
I have been described as an incrementalist. It is true. Sweeping action may be gratifying and may create the aura of strong leadership, but its unintended consequences may lead to costs that are too high to bear. There has been substantial change on Grounds in the past two years, and this change is laying the groundwork for greater change. But it has all been carefully planned and executed in collaboration with Vice Presidents and Deans and representatives of the faculty. This is the best, most constructive, most long lasting, and beneficial way to change a university.  Until the last ten days, the change at UVA has not been disruptive change, and it has not been high-risk change. 
Corporate-style, top-down leadership does not work in a great university. Sustained change with buy-in does work. UVA is one of the world's greatest universities. 
Being an incrementalist does not mean that I lack vision. My vision was clearly outlined in my strategic vision statement. It encompasses the thoughts developed by me and my team as to what UVA can become in the 21st century and parts of it were incorporated into the budget narrative that you adopted last month.
Sullivan may yet end up retaining her position, which, in our humble opinion, would be about the coolest thing to happen in higher ed since the invention of the three-ring binder (in 1886).  However it resolves, this kerfuffle is well worth the amount of time, attention, and brilliant. satiricalenergy it has taken up lately. (The Chronicle of Higher Education has an excellent archive of coverage of Sullivan's ouster and the aftermath, just in case you've been under a rock and need to get caught up. To its credit, UVA also has an archive of official university responses and news coverage.)

The intensity of the reaction on Grounds, as they snootily quaintly say in Charlottesville, and the fury directed at the BOV's lack of transparency (not to mention decency) have been encouraging and inspiring to those of us who have been chafing for years under the yoke of the "corporate-style, top-down leadership" that has come to dominate so many campuses. Sullivan's direct assault on that model in her statement to the BOV is surprising only because most high-level campus administrators are sufficiently drunk on corporate Kool-Aid that they rarely speak unvarnished truth in public. We're accustomed to hearing such critiques from cranky bloggers and other malcontents, but university presidents these days are cheerleaders whose relentless happy talk in the face of budget cuts and declining wages for faculty and staff demonstrates that they are far more interested in protecting the brand than in telling the truth. Sullivan's defense of incremental change, achieved through deliberate, consultative, and collaborative processes, is a slap in the face to a board that operated largely in secret and seemingly on impulse in reaching one of the most consequential decisions within its power to make. It is also, however, a stirring reminder of how, ideally, universities operate. Presidents, though they are hired and fired by corporate boards, are faculty members, too. They may be perched atop their campus's administrative hierarchy, but the principles and mechanisms of shared governance mean that they are also accountable to those they lead. They can't succeed without buy-in from those further down the chain of command.

Our blog boyfriend Chris Newfield argues, in an otherwise flawless analysis of the UVA debacle, that Sullivan erred in "describing her collaborative method as incremental and conservative. This kind of rhetoric allows the Board to define her as slow and inadequate in a time of rapid change, and to justify executive authority as that which is bold and decisive." Newfield is right that we "cannot afford any longer to allow academic work and administration to fall into the innovation trap, which casts as anti-innovation anyone who appears to oppose innovation as defined largely by information technology corporations in their equally turbulent and oligarchic markets." He's also right that we should "concede nothing" to management twits and should make the case that "forms of reciprocal and relatively egalitarian collaboration generate richer, deeper knowledge and more creative and robust solutions than does the thin knowledge and compulsive changes of tack of externally-focused managers who respond to the influence that seems most powerful at a given moment."

All true, but there is still joy in Roxie's World over Sullivan's unapologetic embrace of the term incrementalist. Our own campus is filled these days with ear-piercing calls for innovation and entrepreneurship. We've had a number of conversations recently about the importance of laying claim to those terms and making sure that the work we do and the values we cherish don't get lost in the race to prove that universities are all about what is new and cool and innovative and revenue-generating. In our view, the tougher yet deeply important challenge is to insist that incrementalism and innovation are not necessarily opposing terms. We need both on campus, and we shouldn't be shy about saying so. Universities are and always have been engines of innovation. All that hoo-ha about what goes on in our laboratories, hospitals, and performance studios isn't just hoo-ha. It's an accurate description of the incredibly bold, original, world-transforming work that goes on at research universities every day. At the same time, incrementalism is a deeply ingrained aspect of academic culture, perhaps because it is a deeply ingrained habit of the academic mind. We may be innovators, but we are also scholars. We tend to be deliberate and studious, not reluctant to change but not impulsive about it either. We are accustomed to working through mechanisms of review that can take months and even years to conclude.

Yes, we are tempted at times to echo the impatient Miranda Priestly's sardonic, "By all means move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me," because the wheels of university bureaucracies do grind slowly and can be an impediment to needed change. On balance, though, incrementalism works, both to subject ideas to rigorous examination and to include more rather than fewer voices in a collaborative process of change. Such processes may move relatively slowly, but they reduce the risk of an outcome as devastating to morale and reputation as, for example, the impetuous move engineered and approved by too few members of UVA's Board of Visitors a couple of weeks ago. Rector Helen Dragas's declaration that "the days of incremental decision-making in higher education are over, or should be" sounds hollow, self-interested, and just plain wrong-headed in light of the damage done to the institution by her callous, hasty judgment and corner-cutting maneuvering. Whatever happens to President Sullivan or Rector Dragas, Mr. Jefferson's university will be years recovering from the wholly avoidable catastrophe of the past two weeks.

In some sense, supporters of public higher education should be grateful for what has transpired in Charlottesville in recent days. It has been extraordinary to watch as faculty, students, alumni, and the campus senate rose in defense of their leader, their institution, and a "community of trust" that they see as having been violated. We can all learn from these powerful examples of passionate yet mostly respectful dissent. It has also been fascinating to watch the various players make their claims to UVA's illustrious founder as the drama has unfolded. Few institutions are as vitally connected to a founder and his legacy as UVA is. You believe it when a news story gushes that "students refer to . . . Thomas Jefferson as if the third U.S. president were a close friend." You feel a pang of envy and try to imagine who, in a similar crisis, members of your own campus community might turn to for inspiration and advice. The segregationist football coach/president for whom the stadium in the middle of campus is named? Probably not. The famous alum whose most significant recent accomplishment appears to be having served as a judge for the Miss Universe pageant? Tempting, but no. Then it hits you: If you need a defender of incrementalism, then you're lucky to be on a campus covered with turtles. Slow but steady wins the race, dudes.

Paws up to all our pals in Charlottesville, who have worked so hard and righteously to marshall support for the cause and share the local angle on the story. Your teachable moment has taught all of us who care about higher ed a lot about how to organize and communicate in the midst of totally unexpected turmoil. We stand with you and wish you well in your struggle. Peace out.

(From WaPo: 6/18/12. University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan makes her way up the steps of the Rotunda to address the Board of Visitors closed meeting. Norm Shafer, Washington Post)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Portion Creep

(Photo Credit: Reuters, by way of Tenured Radical.)

Portion size has been on the nation's mind lately in the wake of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces from restaurants and movie theaters (but not from stores that sell, you know, Big Gulps).

Portion size has been on Moose's mind lately, too, as she approaches the one-year anniversary of her success on her Lifestyle Adjustment Program. (She reached her official target weight in mid-July, though she dropped another ten pounds during her first couple of months on maintenance.) I think we'll let her weigh in, as it were, on the whole issue of nutri-nannyism, since healthy, happy eating and drinking are kind of her beat these days. Take it away, Moose!
* * *
Thanks, Rox. Let's cut right to the chase. Does Mayor Bloomberg's proposal make sense as a matter of public policy? Does the state -- or, in this case, the city -- have a right to set limits on consumer choice in the interest of combatting obesity and the health risks associated with it? (NB: The Department of Lifestyle Adjustment here in Roxie's World disapproves of phrases like combatting obesity, because we don't like war metaphors or eliminationist rhetoric. We use the term here because it shows up all the time in coverage of weight and public health. See for example the lead paragraph on this story about Bloomberg's proposal). Our good buddy Tenured Radical did a post the other day that argued in favor of the proposal as an appropriate use of the government's power to regulate trade, promote health, and protect consumers from the food and beverage industries' efforts to boost profits by pushing ever larger portion sizes off on the hungry, thirsty public. Go read that post for TR's excellent links and for yet another example of just how nasty commenters over at The Chronicle of Higher Education can get when their dander is up, which it generally seems to be.

It's easy to see why Bloomberg's proposal raises hackles. It reaches right into the heart of the great American ambivalence about government, activating our knee-jerk inclination to condemn anything that appears to limit a freedom that we like to pretend is or should be absolutely unfettered. It also underscores the tendency in our market-dominated world to assume that consumer sovereignty is the only form of sovereignty there is. Law prof (and current head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory AffairsCass Sunstein argues in his book 2.0 that consumer sovereignty -- i.e., the freedom to buy and consume whatever we want -- is not nearly as important or robust as political sovereignty -- i.e., our right and responsibility to participate in democratic self-government. Our tendency to overvalue consumer sovereignty and to confuse it with political sovereignty helps to explain why knickers get wadded over any perceived threat to our inalienable right to have whatever the heck we want whenever the heck we want it.

Philosophically, I stand with Bloomberg, TR, and others who say government has the right to set the kind of limits on consumer choice that the sugary drink proposal would set. I mean, look, I'm as freedom-loving as the next gal, but I fail to see a threat to the American Way of Life in this idea. I know, if it turns out Starbucks won't be able to sell the 24-ounce (and 510-calorie) version of its Caramel Frappuccino we'll be in a different ballgame and New Yorkers will be justified in fighting back with all they've got. For now, though, I'm thinking Bloomberg's proposal represents a significantly smaller threat to liberty than, say, state-ordered transvaginal ultrasounds.

I can also personally vouch for the effectiveness of limiting portion size as a way to manage weight. A year ago, people were constantly asking me how I lost more than fifty pounds. These days, they're asking me how I've succeeded, so far, in keeping it off. Portion control is an important part of the answer to both questions. (The other part of the answer is physical activity, but that would be the subject of another post.) Day in, day out, the single most important adjustment I've made to my lifestyle in the past year and a half is represented in the picture below:

On the left is the plate we used to use for most of the (non-entertainment) meals served in Roxie's World. It's 11-1/4" in diameter. On the right is the plate we started using in January of 2011 when I started trying to lose weight. It's 9-3/4" in diameter. The switch to a smaller plate has been enormously helpful to my efforts to eat mindfully and well. The smaller plate looks full with less food, and that look of abundance is a powerful visual cue that I am getting enough to eat. I'm not starving or denying myself the pleasures of the table. When the plate is empty, I am finished eating, though I'll admit to still taking the occasional bite or two off of Goose's plate. (Her eyes are bigger than her stomach. Also: I am not perfect.) I don't go back for seconds, which I think is the logic of Bloomberg's proposal: Limit portion sizes to 16 ounces, and the vast majority of people aren't going to go back for more. They'll be satisfied with less and the risk of damage to their health from the garbage-laden calories in sugary beverages will have been lowered. (By the way, science backs me and the mayor up on the benefit of using smaller serving dishes. Check out this fascinating study on how even a group of nutrition experts were fooled about how much food they were getting when they ate out of larger bowls.)

So, I agree that government has the right to set such limits and acknowledge that fighting portion creep has been essential to my own efforts to reach and maintain a healthy weight. Why, then, do I nonetheless find myself doubting the wisdom of Mayor Bloomberg's proposal? It's partly, I suppose, that the idea seems so vulnerable to the kind of mockery that has in fact greeted it. It's just too easy to make it sound ridiculous, which aids and abets conservative efforts to depict all government regulation that doesn't involve women's wombs as nanny-like intrusions into the lives of citizens. More importantly, though, I'm also not convinced that the plan, well intended as it is, would have a significant effect on the problem it hopes to address. People who want to consume ridiculous amounts of sugary beverages will still be able to do so by ordering several of the 16-ounce servings available in restaurants and movie theaters or by stopping off at 7-Eleven for a Big Gulp. (Grocery stores are exempt from the proposed limit on serving sizes.)

The proposal seems doomed to fail if it isn't accompanied by an education campaign aimed at moving consumers toward healthier choices and then assuring they have access to healthier products. It's great to give consumers some measure of protection from the relentless, well financed, and government subsidized efforts of soda makers to "drive more ounces into more bodies more often," as a former marketing executive for Coca-Cola put it at a "National Soda Summit" held in Washington last week. It's just as important, however, to go about this work in a way that doesn't make overweight people feel judged, ostracized, or condescended to, and Michael Bloomberg doesn't always come across as someone whose cup, whatever its size, runs over with empathy. I'm not a nutritionist or a public health expert, but here's a link to some constructive ideas from a bunch of folks who are on how we might more effectively help the public to achieve a healthy weight. Go check out their ideas and then come back here and we'll chat about portion creep, public health, or whatever else might be on your mind. I've just taken a big gulp of cool, refreshing tap water, and now it's time to go take the sweetest girl on dog's earth out for an evening stroll. That sounds like a healthy, happy choice, doesn't it? See ya later, kids. Peace out.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Sticker Shock

Here is the rear bumper of the official old car of Roxie's World, about 15 minutes ago:

And here is that same bumper, about 12 minutes ago:

Yes, dears, it's official. Barack Obama has captured the prize that eluded him in 2008: the coveted endorsement of America's favorite dead dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball. What? You thought we'd stay on the sidelines, waiting to see if the rumor that will not die will come true and Obama will beg Hillary Clinton to quit trying to save the world and focus on saving his reelection campaign by becoming his vice president? That ain't happening, kids, and, meantime, here in the real world, we've got an election to win.

Yes, we support the reelection of Barack Obama. No, we don't like the drone attacks, the failure to close Guantanamo Bay, the maddening tendency to compromise. Obama is the centrist we predicted he would be when we supported his main opponent in the Democratic primary battle of 2008. On balance, though, he has been a good president in a difficult time, despite the ineffectiveness of his own party in congress and the extremism and intransigence of the opposition party in congress. His economic policies, though not as progressive as we would like, have helped the country navigate the Great Recession far better than the austerity policies that have brought such pain to Europe in the last few years. His health insurance reform, modest as it is, is a necessary step toward the recognition that healthcare is a fundamental right, not a privilege.  His picks for the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elana Kagan, show an admirable commitment to diversity and to the Constitution as a living, breathing, socially and historically situated document. On social issues, he has proven to be genuinely progressive, though his political cautiousness has sometimes made him slow to show it. Still, his decision to come out in support of same-sex marriage in an election year was a brave one, and we commend him for it. We hope he will continue to show courage and use the bully-pulpit of the presidency to lead the country in the direction of hope rather than fear and toward the expansion of rights and opportunities for all citizens.

Also: We like his dog, his wife, his daughters, and his singing voice. We'd much rather spend the next four years hanging out with all of them rather than this robot fascist dog abuser guy. In Roxie's World, the dogs ride inside and the Moms vote Dem. You, too? Go here. Give money. Dude's gonna need it. Peace out.