On the grayest December Sunday in the history of low-hanging clouds, Roxie's World is so quiet you can hear the trains on the tracks a mile or so from our house. The moms are mellow from a weekend of holiday fun that isn't over yet -- Moose still has a fundraiser to attend tonight before the Non-Lady Terps' ACC opener against Boston College. (Goose is staying home to catch up on work before the last week of the semester hits.) We took a vote and decided we're way too sleepy to wrap our minds around the weighty subject of Congressional briefings on waterboarding or the astonishing news that Oprah has voted for as many Republicans as Democrats. Instead, we'll pass along some links to stories you might have overlooked in the course of your own holiday revels. Pause for a moment in the midst of the madness for some pointing, clicking, reflecting, and possibly some head-banging over the state of the silly world.
Wa Po launches a series of stories on the leading presidential candidates with a long piece on Hillary Clinton (by sports writer Sally Jenkins) called "Growing Up Rodham." It focuses on the influence of her formidable conservative father, Hugh Rodham, and the softening counterbalance supplied by her mother, Dorothy. The Clintonistas interviewed for the story seem to have decided to use it as the occasion for proving that Clinton is genetically wired for the middle of the road. Her lifelong friend Betsy Ebeling says Clinton is "triangulated" in her very fabric, a condition she vaguely attributes to "that Midwestern thing, cheesy or all-encompassing as that sounds." Jenkins also cites a story Clinton's mother told biographer Gail Sheehy about having taught her daughter how to read a carpenter's level:
"Imagine having this carpenter's level inside you," she said. "You try to keep that bubble in the center. Sometimes it will go way up there," she tilted the level. "And then you have to bring it back."The resident Midwesterner in our house said she felt a little burning in the back of her throat when she read these treacly paeans to post-war heartland values. She, too, was raised by small-C Midwestern conservatives. She emerged from the experience with a firm conviction that the middle of the road is where animals get killed, though she also escaped with a mighty fine recipe for cheesed olives. She is willing to share that recipe with the Clinton campaign in an effort to lure the hungry housewives of Iowa out on caucus night.
Speaking of women looming large in the public eye, Wa Po ran a piece earlier this week on one of the major deities here in Roxie's World, Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, who, as we have previously noted, is pregnant with twins and coaching a team that has a serious shot at winning Frese's second national championship. It's a great story, though the b-ball fans here in the home office are nervous as heck about how the coach, her mostly new staff, and her incredibly devoted team will handle the multiple stresses as the season and Frese's pregnancy advance.
Here's a funny (as in interesting) story on blogging in Japan you probably overlooked in the course of your busy week. According to Technorati, Japanese-language blog postings slightly outnumber English-language blog postings, though English speakers outnumber Japanese speakers 5-1. The story also explores the significant differences of style and tone between Japanese and American blogs. No snarkiness, please, we're Japanese:
Finally, an occasional reader from New Jersey put us on the scent of this NYT story about Dogster, the social networking site for dogs. (It's here.) No, your favorite dog blogger does not have a page on Dogster, yet, though some of my canine blogging pals do. We'll look into that when the grades are in and the stockings have been hung by the chimney with care.
Blogging in Japan, though, is a far tamer beast than in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world. Japan's conformist culture has embraced a technology that Americans often use for abrasive self-promotion and refashioned it as a soothingly nonconfrontational medium for getting along.
Bloggers here shy away from politics and barbed language. They rarely trumpet their expertise. While Americans blog to stand out, the Japanese do it to fit in, blogging about small stuff: cats and flowers, bicycles and breakfast, gadgets and TV stars. Compared with Americans, they write at less length, they write anonymously, and they write a whole lot more often.
Oh, and a parting shot and one last lick for Ripley, a feisty little Cairn terrier who commented here occasionally. Ripley's human companions are the fabulous DC BasketCases. They pass along the sad news that Ripley "crossed over the Rainbow Bridge" earlier this week. Our condolences to Eileen and Judith. And safe travels to Ripley, wherever the bridge takes you.
Peace out, kids. Go find something you love and snuggle it. Trust me, you'll feel better.