Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Excellence Without Money: Jersey Style

Today is my typist's birthday, so we've given her the day off and offer for your edification a very special guest post from someone we'll call Old Jersey Professor. S/he's got the scoop on some higher educational news of interest and import from the Moms' old stomping grounds, the Garden State. There's a storm raging on the Turnpike over a proposal to break up Rutgers University and merge the Camden campus with Rowan University. How controversial is the proposal? The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg is calling for a federal investigation into whether the deal "had been 'crafted to benefit powerful political interests without regard for the impact on students.'" We're grateful for this eyewitness report straight from the heart of Jersey. Pay attention, kids -- Your school could be next.

Take it away, "Old Jersey Professor!"

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Excellence without money? That’s so 2011. In 2012 in New Jersey we have a new slogan: “To save education you have to destroy it.” That is the goal of Governor Chris Christie. In January his hand-picked commission came up with a proposal to hand over Rutgers Camden, part of Rutgers, one of 61 AAU universities in North America, to Rowan University, a comprehensive university over 20 miles away from the Camden campus. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with education and everything to do with, yep, money.

Rowan University, at the behest of New Jersey political boss George Norcross, absorbed Cooper Medical School and turned it from a 2-year part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey into a 4-year medical school starting in the fall of 2012. (For more about George Norcross watch our former governor explain him to some Girl Scouts.) There is a reason some folks refer to New Jersey as Swamp Land.

And guess what? Cooper is broke. It relies on the state for funding and has bonds one step above junk grade.

The solution, according to the political bosses, is to take over Rutgers Camden so that Rowan-Cooper can use its cash flow to borrow money at better rates. And yes, of course, the governor and his political cronies are covering up this naked cash grab with talk of creating a bigger and better university in southern New Jersey. When politicians talk about improving education, lock up your wallet, and your children.

When folks object to us calling this move a “hostile takeover” we just switch to Anschluss. And when our friends say, "Well, that’s just New Jersey," we say, “Have you been paying attention to what is happening to public education in this country?” Your bond rating or your endowment just might be bait for some of your own political “leaders.” On March 22 Rowan released what it called a plan and we call a fantasy. It is “take the money and run” and not of the Woody Allen variety. The proposal is to grab the money (all of Rutgers Camden and its assets) fourteen months after a legislated takeover and then it promises to figure out how to create a research university -- there are no details, there is no budget, it is the land of hope and dreams . . . and not of the Bruce variety.

And hey, speaking of “the Boss,” yes, he’s a Jersey guy and the students have reached out to him with this wonderful video:

We are organized! Our wonderful students created an online petition and a fabulous website. The alumni are raising money and running advertisements, and our union Rutgers AAUP/AFT helped everyone get organized and on message and provided funds for the leaflets and the lawn signs. We’ve got faculty from four schools -- business, law, nursing, and arts and sciences -- on the job, writing briefs, digging into budgets, organizing the community, and putting out statements to the press. Our administration stood up and said “No,” hosting two town hall meetings preceded by demonstrations. The media gave us good coverage, and everyone spoke up at meetings of the Rutgers Board of Governors and Board of Trustees. Two Facebook support groups keep everyone informed. Our information page is updated several times a day (though it has been hacked, so you might not get there), and we’ve created our own not-for-profit group to raise money for our ad buys, lobbying, and, if need be, litigation.

All this has helped to bridge a bit of a generation gap. Turning to a younger colleague, I said, “This is so much easier than sixties organizing when we didn’t have cell phones or computers.” He replied, “I was born in 1970!” Wow -- where did the time go? A student asked me about my Twitter feed and I had to confess that no, I don’t tweet. Younger folks are all over social media, but everyone can give interviews, write press releases, lobby, share hugs, raise money and attend legislative hearings. Damn we are good!

But will we prevail? I think so. We don’t have lawyers, guns, and money, as the late Warren Zevon put it, but we do have lawyers, smarts, and damn good fundraising skills. Roxie -- I’ll update you on this. In the meantime, please go sign our petition. We hope to hit 13,000 signatures soon!

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(Image Credit: Via)

Thanks again, Old Jersey Prof. And remember, kids, as the Boss says, "Nobody wins unless everybody wins."  This fight is our fight, too. Hang in there, Jersey boys, girls, and critters. We are with you!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things We Learned Over Break

1. An early spring means early spring detritus. Moose likes to take pictures of all kinds of detritus, but she's especially fond of photos of spring detritus because she thinks they evoke the poignance of the season's sublime yet fleeting beauty. Wevs, Moose. They're pretty.

Those are the remnants of this year's bloom on our neighbor's tulip magnolia tree. The shot was taken on March 17, which has to be some kind of record. Yes, kids, global warming has come to Roxie's World.

And that's a blossom off some pretty bush in our ridiculously large backyard that squirrels or deer or other marauding critters have been systematically deflowering. Moose snapped that this morning when she and Ruby were having a little romp in the yard. No, we do not know the name of the pretty bush, though our research assistant Wik I. Pedia suggests it might be a camellia. There are no botanists in Roxie's World.

2. The old version of Quicken does not work on Lion, so you can spend your entire spring break upgrading and updating and when you are finally, proudly finished discover that the past several years of your financial history are suddenly, entirely inaccessible. Oops! Truthfully? No biggie. Moose has always hated Quicken and is old-fashioned enough to still get paper bank statements. Quicken has just released a compatible version, but the CFO of RW Enterprises, LLC is thinking we might take our data elsewhere. Suggestions? We imagine nicoleandmaggie might have some good advice on this question, but you are all welcome to weigh in.

3. There are lots and lots of people trolling the Interwebs looking for information on vaginas. And surprisingly few of them know how to spell the word. (One more reason to be grateful Google is tracking our every move and is so much smarter than we are, yes?) Our vagina-related posts are here and here, though I doubt seriously you will find them very useful or, uh, exciting. Nonetheless, to the searcher who wants to know how to tell if your vagina is loose, we cannot resist replying: If you see it running across the yard?

4. You can win pretty or you can win ugly, but a win, as they say, is still a win. Yes, our Lady Terps prevailed Monday evening in their grudge match against the Cardinals of Louisville in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a close, hard-fought game that could have gone either way. The atmosphere inside the Comcastle was electric, and the audience was very different from the sort of subdued, family-friendly crowds one typically sees at women's games. Fans lustily booed Louisville Coach Jeff Walz when he was introduced, loudly protested the officiating all night long, and spent most of the game's last few minutes on their feet trying to will the Terps to victory. The Moms were so amped up by the effort that they stayed up way past their bedtime wishing that middle-aged broads could roam the streets drinking beer and setting bonfires after a big win. Next up for the Terps? Oh, just defending national champs Texas A&M on Sunday in Raleigh. The Moms can't be there, but they are planning to catch the game on a big teevee in a sports bar. Go, Terps!

So, that's some of what we learned over break, though Moose's proudest accomplishment is getting all of her gadgets to play happily together in the iCloud. Thanks to all the geeky, patient hand-holders who helped to make that possible. You know who you are, and we are grateful to you. Stay tuned, kids, for dog knows what kind of 21st-century blogalicious developments might result from my typist's move into this brave new world of mobility and hyperconnectivity. Meanwhile, here's hoping the early spring is lovely in your neck of the woods. Peace out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gearing Up for a Grudge Match

Game-Day Update Below

ESPN is billing tomorrow night's second-round matchup between Maryland and Louisville in the women's NCAA tournament as a grudge match. That sounds about right to the rabid Terp fans of Roxie's World, who have never gotten over the beat down Maryland suffered at the hands of Coach Jeff Walz's Cardinals in the 2009 Elite Eight. It isn't just the score -- 77-60 -- that still stings, painful as it was to watch the glorious collegiate careers of Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver end on such a sour note. What rankles even more is what Walz did when the final whistle blew and Coleman and Toliver sat stunned and disconsolate on the Maryland bench. Walz is a former Maryland assistant coach who was with the team when Brenda Frese guided a group of upstart freshmen, including Coleman and Toliver, to a national championship in 2006. He relied on his intimate knowledge of Maryland's players and its system to formulate a game plan that exploited its weaknesses. His team executed the plan brilliantly -- and when the dismantling was over Walz made a beeline for Coleman and Toliver and tried to comfort the women he had just defeated. Here's what we wrote about the gesture the day after the game:
At that moment when cameras were focused on the devastated stars, Walz, engineer of their disappointment, went over to each of them, got down on his knees, and put his arms around them. Moose thought there was something jarring about it at the time. It seemed disingenuous of him to take on the role of comforting them for a loss he and his team would be boasting about in a matter of seconds. Word of friction between Walz and Frese makes the gesture even harder to take. If Walz sincerely wished to express sympathy to Coleman and Toliver or admiration for their brilliant careers, he should have done so out of the limelight and only after Coleman and Toliver had had a chance to compose themselves. To insert himself into that moment was to take on a role that rightly belonged to his old boss and, apparently, his new foe. He beat her team, handily. He didn't need to try to usurp her role.  
We don't know anything about the rumors of bad blood between Frese and her former assistant (pictured at left in a slightly altered photo from 2006 [via]), which surfaced in the wake of the 2009 contest, but we have a hunch we're not the only ones hungering for a little revenge tomorrow night. When the brackets for this year's tournament were announced and it was clear the Terps and Cardinals could meet again, Marissa Coleman immediately tweeted (yes, Moose follows her -- don't judge) of the matchup: "TERPS get some payback for @KristiToliver and I, would ya?!" (Love you, Shoulders, always will, but that should read, "for @KristiToliver and me.") During first-round action Saturday at the Comcastle, some fans might have greeted Walz with warm fuzzies when he took the floor for his team's game against Michigan State, but there was no love lost for Louisville's head coach up where the Moms sit in section 114. When the short-fused Walz loudly berated a player for throwing up a bad shot (when the Cards already had a comfortable lead), a fan/friend mockingly repeated the coach's rebuke, adding in his own booming voice, "We could hear you all the way up here, Walz!" After that, we spent the rest of the not very entertaining game dissecting Walz's issues -- "He's got an Auriemma complex," one Freudian averred -- and concocting elaborate plots to guarantee a Terp victory tomorrow night, most of which involved sending spoiled seafood to the Louisville team's hotel.

Yes, darlings, that's why they call it Madness, this seasonal affective disorder college basketball fans experience every year come tournament time. We love the game, adore our team, and live for the drama of the major upset or the thrilling comeback. Or, you know, the sweet revenge.

We'll be in the stands tomorrow night, maybe with a special sign imploring the Terps to win it for Marissa and K. T. or to remember 2009. On the other hand, why should we burden these splendid young women with the bitter residue of someone else's past? Their talents and accomplishments are impressive in and of themselves, and they deserve their own shot at glory. It would be hard to fit our sentiments onto even the most carefully painted sign, but perhaps we'll show up at the Comcastle tomorrow with the hope in our hearts that these dazzling young Terps will win on Monday so that we will have the joy of knowing we will get to see them play together again -- at least once more before this special season, like all seasons, ends, in triumph or its opposite.

Sleep well, women. You've got your work cut out for you, and we can't wait to cheer you on in your efforts. Peace out.

(Photo Credit: Toni L. Sandys, Washington Post. Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas shoots over Navy's Alix Membreno in a first-round game, 3/17/12.)

Update: WaPo's Gene Wang has a story this morning on the Frese/Walz "subplot" in the looming rematch between Maryland and Louisville. According to Wang, Walz's departure from College Park in 2008 was "acrimonious," though Frese refused to comment on the matter, saying it was not important to the upcoming game. Reading between the lines, one might infer that Walz took a little too much credit for the national championship, including orchestrating the play that sent the title game into overtime. In this YouTube video of Marissa Coleman and other former players talking about that game, Coleman makes it clear that Toliver's sublime shot over Duke center Alison Bales was not the play coaches had drawn up. After the 2009 loss to Louisville, Coleman also publicly took issue with Walz's suggestion that Maryland's body language suggested the team was taking Louisville lightly as it focused on getting back to the Final Four. "Well, Coach Walz was wrong," Coleman commented when told what Walz had said.

Like we said, dude's got an Auriemma complex. We don't care what motivates the Terps to go out and get the W tonight. We just want them to win, but if it turns out the victory is fueled by a collective gynocentric urge to smack down an arrogant, bullying mansplainer, well, that's all right by us. We are women, hear us roar. Go, Terps!

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Tools, Old Rules

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Moose's new iPad, which she got today, not because she camped out for three days but because she quite uncharacteristically planned ahead. She even got the taxpayers of Maryland to buy it for her as an early birthday present. Yep, no money for raises, but plenty for toys essential research tools. We'll let you know soon what she really thinks of it, though so far she's pretty impressed. She's been fiddling around while watching hoops this evening during the Night of a Thousand Upsets. (Poor Duke. Not!)

The Moms head over to the Comcastle early in the a.m. to catch the red hot Lady Terps in first-round action against Navy in the women's tournament. Maybe we'll do some b-ball posting over the weekend, on a machine that's really built for blogging. (Full disclosure: This post was drafted on the iPad but finished on the computer, because Moose couldn't figure out how to embed links or upload photos to Blogger on her fancy new toy tool.) Meantime, here's a sample of what the highly touted camera on the new iPad can do, even in crummy light:

(Photo Credit: Moose, 3/16/12)

Not bad for a stale shamrock cookie from the co-op, eh? Remember, Goose is only half Irish-ish, so we don't really celebrate. If you do, we hope you have a swell, safe time. Peace out, my little leprechauns, and don't cry if your brackets are busted. Everybody's are, but all that matters is Duke is out (of the non-lady tournament), which means all is half-right in the world. We'll see what happens to the Blue Devils in the women's tournament, though we have a hard time seeing them get past Stanford in the Elite 8. Just remember House Rule #1 of Roxie's World, sports fans: We hate Duke so much that if Duke were playing the Taliban, we would root for the Taliban. Therefore, any team playing Duke is known as the Taliban, and we sit on the couch screaming, "Go, Taliban, go!"

Got it? Go forth and cheer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Now We Are Six

Moose had that book over there on the left when she was a kid struggling to understand why she had not been born in Paris, France, as the lord had clearly intended her to be. She didn't love Milne's collection of children's verses in the way she loved his more well known works of prose, but there was almost nothing she loved as much as she loved the stories of Christopher Robin and his beloved Bear of Very Little Brain. As read aloud to her every night by an adored father whose silky smooth voice was ideal for storybook reading.

We'll pause here while my typist recalls the sound of that long silenced voice, which made her delight in words like Heffalump and Expotition and helped her to believe in an enchanted place on the top of the Forest where love and play would last forever. Ah, yes.

Now we are six -- and by "we" I mean this blog and its readers, this quirky little possibly enchanted world that we have built together word by word, link by link, post by post when we should have been doing other far less pleasurable things. Thank you for being here and for making us feel that, whatever it is we are doing here, it's fun enough to go right on doing it, if not forever, at least for the next little while. We are sure of you, as Piglet was sure of Pooh, and that, by golly, is good enough for us. Happy blogiversary, darlings. See you again soon.

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We'd be remiss if we failed to mention here that Moose and Goose happily celebrated the twenty-eighth anniversary of their unlicensed love on International Women's Day, March 8. The occasion was thoroughly celebrated on Facebook and out in the real world with a decadent feast in a neighborhood joint where everybody knows your name. Thanks for all the good wishes, friends. And if you're feeling bummed that we didn't get up a proper anniversary post called Twenty-Eight Years of Queer Delight, well, go read Twenty-Seven Years of Queer Delight, Twenty-Six Years of Queer Delight, Twenty-Five Years of Queer Delight, and Twenty-Four Years of Queer Delight. That's a heaping helping of queer delight. We're hoping that will hold you till next year! Peace out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ruby Rescue(d): One Year Later

(Photo Credit: Moose, 1/1/12)

A year ago today Ms. Ruby pranced across the threshold and became the official embodied dog of Roxie's World, ending fourteen months of terrier-free living (if you can call that living) for the Moms and more than three years of confinement in a Missouri puppy mill for one of the sweetest critters on dog's earth. (You can read Ruby's story on the American Fox Terrier Rescue website, and don't worry -- There are no horrifying words or pictures that will ruin your day. If you love dogs, terriers, or this humble blog, you might even consider making a donation to support the work of AFTR. Just a thought. That's what Moose did this morning to celebrate the anniversary of Ruby's adoption.)

A year later I think it's fair to say that Ruby's transition to a pampered life with a pair of besotted humans has gone smoothly. She remains a quiet girl who rarely barks and only occasionally whines. Moose sometimes supposes this behavior is a result of neglect and isolation in her early life. Poor Ruby never learned she could use her voice to command humans and order her world. That, of course, is one reason we've heard relatively little from her here on the blog. In other respects, though, Ruby is remarkably transformed from the skinny critter she was a year ago. Daily exercise and a better diet have bulked her up considerably. Her paw pads, which were soft as a baby's behind when she arrived in Roxie's World, are now thick with callouses. She enjoys walks, but the concept of play is still something of a mystery to her. Unlike me, she won't hang out in the yard by herself for extended periods of time, chasing squirrels, digging holes, and woofing at anything that moves. In the company of a human, however, she will race from one end of the ridiculously large backyard to the other in crazy figure 8s. Moose is trying to capture this delightful activity on film for the pleasure of my readers. Stay tuned.

Not all puppy mill dogs adjust to life after rescue as well as Ms. Ruby has. The emotional scars can last for years. The Moms feel incredibly fortunate that their girl is both trusting and resilient, eager to give and receive love. Which she does, on a daily basis. You can see it, can't you, in the sweet, single brown eye she offers up to the camera in the photo above? You are mine, I am yours, that serene gaze seems to say. This lesson I have learned, happily.

Today we celebrate words that begin with "R": rescue, resilience, recovery, . . . Ruby. A celebration requires a song. How about Aretha Franklin's "Rescue Me," performed by Fontella Bass? Sounds right to me. Sing it, girlfriend. I need you and your love, too. Can't you see that I'm lonely? Peace out, darlings. May you be rescued by love today.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Good Grief, Another Vagina Post

A Pointed Message for Bob McDonnell, Governor of the Commonwealth of Vagina Virginia, and Other Republicans Unhinged by Ladies, Lady Parts, Lady Bidness, and (Insinuations of) Lady Badness:

I don’t know what this is from and I don’t care.

Translation: You will be held accountable for your actions. Or, as we used to say back in the olden days of take-no-prisoners gynocentric orneriness: God is coming, and She is pissed. The wrath of the great Feminazi Cooter in the sky shall rain down upon you. You have been warned.

Why? Because people with vaginas also have eyes, ears, memories, and the right to vote. Unless of course you decide they can't be trusted to make that kind of judgment by themselves either. Better hurry, boys. Election day is just 248 days away. And please don't ask if that's a laser between my legs or am I just happy to see you. Trust me, fellas. It's a laser.

(Credit for the Laser-Shooting Vagina: Picked up, by way of a Facebook friend, from Jessica Valenti's Tumblr, but no one seems to know where it originated.)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A Gov By Any Other Name

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley will sign the Civil Marriage Protection Act into law at 5 o'clock this evening, which will make Maryland the eighth state (plus the District of Columbia) to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Meanwhile, across the Potomac, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has his pen poised to sign a bill that will require women seeking abortions to have merely a jelly-on-the-belly ultrasound rather than the far less happy-sounding transvaginal ultrasound mandated in the original version of the bill. Don't know about y'all, but the vagina-equipped persons of Roxie's World are pretty darn happy to be living in the Free State rather than Old (as in ancient) Virginny right now. I mean, sure, jelly-on-the-belly sounds much more Disney or Dunkin Donut-ish than the Darth Vader-ish transvaginal, but, as our new shero, VA Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), points out, the amended version of the bill still demeans women by subjecting them to a wholly unnecessary procedure. In her judgment, the new bill lowers Virginia's invasion of women's bodies from "state rape" to "state assault." (Is such charged language appropriate for describing the kind of misogynistic $hitstorm raining down on the women of Virginia? We join Shakesville's Melissa McEwan in declaring, thunderingly, that it is.)

Anyhoo, kids, back to the problem of governors and names. As you know, Gov. O'Malley's nom du blog has for quite some time been "You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy," which was our clever way of referring to O'Malley's Irish heritage, pretty-boy looks, and boundless ambition. Oh, yes, and a wan neoliberal politics we described as fauxgressive. Yeah, we've been tough on the gov, but he's been tough on us, you know. Remember furloughs, my friends? Of course you do.

(Photo Credit: via)

Still, we have to admit that O'Malley impressed us over the course of the fight to get the marriage bill passed. Passing and signing the bill are just the first steps in what is likely to be a long, costly battle, as opponents are already gearing up to get a referendum on the ballot in fall 2012 that would overturn the law before it even goes into effect. We'll see if O'Malley is willing to work as hard to protect the bill as he was to get it passed, but we believe his efforts so far deserve commendation. And that is why, as of today, the governor of the great state of Maryland shall no longer be known in these precincts as You, Sir, Are No Jack Kennedy.

So, now what do we call him? We thought about You, Sir, Are No Bruce Springsteen, which would be a cute dig at the gov's rock-star dreams, but we're trying really hard to avoid snark and, besides, O'Malley and Springsteen are similar in being supporters of marriage equality, so that really doesn't work at all. We could call him You, Sir, Are No Bob McDonnell, but that seems a little too obvious, and we frankly don't want the traffic we would get from Google searches on that odious twit's name. Just writing about transvaginal ultrasounds has already produced bizarre traffic spikes that have the guys down in Clicks and Eyeballs feeling totally creeped out. (Note to searchers: If there is brown liquid coming out of your vagina, you should not be cruising the Interwebs or consulting dead dogs for advice. Seek medical attention immediately.) We blame you for that, Mr. Governor of Vagina Virginia.

Clearly, readers, we need your help. We need a new nickname for the governor of Maryland. He's handsome. Hard-working. Eloquent. Educable. In a committed opposite-sex relationship. Ambitious. A good schmoozer, the Moms learned at an Annapolis reception a few weeks back. What do we call him, now that he's officially a Friend of teh Gayz, a dude who follows through on a big political promise? Leave your suggestions in comments, please. It is, finally, the first day of March, which means the season of celebrations and big spring events in Roxie's World is just around the corner. That means, at a minimum, that my typist needs to get up off her duff and brush her teeth!

A PAWS UP to Maryland for letting a little bit of justice break out today. We hope you'll join us in a happy dance, whether you're the marrying kind or the love-without-license kind. 'Round here, we love all kinds. Peace out.