Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My kick-ass literary assessment

If there is anyone (?) reading this who cares about literary assessments I wrote a really good one.
It's based on the short story "Barn Burning".


A Marxist Criticism of “Barn Burning”

Faulkner’s own personal bias would not allow him to portray Abner Snopes as the working class hero that he was. His portrayal of Snopes as “graceless and greedy” was so thorough that the word Snopes, itself, became synonymous with that definition. What his world-view failed to allow him to recognize was that Abner Snopes was a socialist revolutionary, born 100 years before his time.

As Karl Marx and Friedrick Engel’s point out, in a capitalist society it is only a matter of time before the working class over throws the middle class. In the mean time the working class will be used and exploited for monetary gain. The beauty of democracy is that it gives equal vote to people of all classes. It allows the larger numbers of lower class citizens band together and demand basic human rights. Basic human rights are best defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a declaration (the driving force behind which was our very own Eleanor Roosevelt) was ratified by the United Nations in 1948. It includes such rights as these:

Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable

remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence

worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by

other means of social protection.” [Article 23 (3)]

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the

health and well-being of himself and of his family, including

food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social

services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment,

sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood

in circumstances beyond his control. [Article 25 (1)]

Both of these human rights are being violated by the share cropper system. The Snopes family is denied these basic human rights in a system that only makes the land owners richer. Their family possessions consisted of a battered stove, broken beds and chairs, and a broken clock (320). They didn’t even own a saddle (325). Abner wore a coat “which had not been made for him (321).” His son Sarty wore “patched and faded jeans even too small for him.(321)” They moved to a house not fit for hogs (322). Sarty, the aunt and two sisters slept on pallets on the floor (325).

Contrast this life with the scene at the landowner’s home. “a fence massed with honey suckle and Cherokee roses came to a gate swinging open between two brick pillars and now beyond a sweep of drive he saw the house for the first time. (322)” “A suave turn of carpeted stair and a pendant glitter of Chandeliers and a mute gleam of gold frames (323)”

Was this extreme poverty merely due to Abner’s anti-social behavior? No. It was a direct result of the unjust system he was living in. Even the judge, who did not know of Abner’s past declared: “You never had a hundred bucks. You never will. (325)” A share cropper could never hope to have the equivalent amount of money as a land owner’s parlor rug.

It is only a matter of time before the masses grow unhappy and demand more; but it does take time. America was still a young country when Abner was in his prime. It had only recently abolished slavery and the class divide was yet to be addressed. Abner saw the class divide for what it was, when others were blind to it. He called the landowners what they were: his enemy. He used their white washed fence as an object lesson for his son: “Pretty and white, ain’t it? That’s sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it ain’t white enough to suit him yet. Maybe he wants to mix some white sweat with it. (324)”.

Abner Snopes did not have the political backing for his beliefs. There were no masses to lead at that time. If there were, he would have been a great leader. “There was something about his wolf-like independence and even courage when the advantage was at least neutral which impressed strangers, as if they got from his latent ravening ferocity not so much a sense of dependability as a feeling that his ferocious conviction in the rightness of his own action would be of advantage to all whose interest lay with his. (321)”

Abner had little to fight with. He had little to lose. He fought his battle for social equality one barn burning at a time. “The element of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father’s being… as the weapon for the preservation of integrity.” Abner made his point one mutilated carpet at a time. When he could, he used other means for justice. Abner sued his land owner, apparently an uncommon practice at that time. “He wore an expression, not of rage but of amazed unbelief which the boy could not have known was at the incredible circumstance of being sued by one of his own tenants. (327)” When all else failed, he relied on the most basic methods of self-preservation. “He won’t git no twenty bushels! He won’t git none! We’ll gether hit and hide hit!”

The irony in Abner’s fight for economic equality is that if the safety net of socialism were in place, his beloved wife would almost certainly have left him and his unstable life behind. His family was made miserable by his endless crusade and they wished for nothing more than the stability of the simple life. When Abner was merely deep in thought, his wife knew what he was thinking and pleaded “Abner. Abner. Please don’t. Please, Abner (324)”. His son wished for nothing more than for peace. “People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond his touch (322)”, Sarty hoped. Abner’s life was a tragedy, not only because he was a victim of his class, but also because his crusade for social equality would have been given an audience but a hundred years later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Universal Health Care

Today was the most exhilarating day! I forgot what a high political activism is. I haven't done it since marching in pro-life rallies in high school. I drove an hour north to New Hampshire early this morning. I got my ticket from the Mass Nurses Association. Then I got on one of many busses to go to the theater to see the preview of "SiCKO". I sat next to an anesthesiologist from Vermont. We had compelling conversation on the way there. Then we saw the movie. It was a truly moving documentary. I cried when the 911 heroes were saluted by the Cuban firefighters. All of the conservative scare tactics regarding universal health care were totally blown out of the water. I saw people in countries with free health care and they weren't waiting excessively long periods of time. They did not have antiquated medicine. In fact, my anesthesiology friend whispered in my ear "That's the most expensive anesthesiology equipment on the market!" in reference to some machines in the background of a Canadian OR. The doctors weren't underpaid. The "average" French GP seemed better off than the GP's here in America. My mind has been totally changed by this movie. Yesterday I blogged that I wouldn't trust "government bureaucracy" with the job of paying for health care. But now I see that they can't possibly do a worse job than the current system where 33 cents of every dollar goes to administration costs. In countries with Universal Health care the cost is about 2 cents of every dollar. Even our own government's medicaid system has much lower administrative costs than private insurance companies. And guaranteeing payment would only encourage capitalistic behavior where Doctors and hospitals would compete for your dollar. For instance, in England where Doctors regularly make home visits. Our country is failing it's poor and middle class. It's time we rise up and do something!

After the movie there was a town hall discussion with Michael Moore. Afterwards, I was interviewed for the news (CN8) -I'm not sure if they put me on or not but I gave them a great sound byte where I talked about how I'm a conservative Republican but this is an issue that unites us all.

After that there was an elegant reception with exquisite food. I had some more amazing conversation with some real hippy liberals on my left and some conservative Christians on my right.

It was a day I'll never forget. And this is a topic I won't be silent about.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm in a press conference with Michael Moore!

I never would have imagined I would be backing up Michael Moore in a news conference. I mean, the director of Farenheit 911 - the liberal wacko - the Republican hater - Michael Moore! But he has made a movie called SiCKO which comes out tomorrow about the need for universal health care - or at the very least - the removal of profit from the health insurance industry. And as a member of the Massachusetts Nurses Association I've been invited to the premier followed by a press conference where we will be backing up Michael Moore. I hope this movie creates a dialogue on the subject and hopefully some positive changes. Certainly it is not an easy question of how to bring health insurance to the masses. A government run universal health care would have the sticky problem of paying medical personnel enough to encourage a healthy supply of new recruits and at the same time balancing a budget that would probably cost more than has ever been undertaken in the history of the US. Given the history of the incompetence of the US government I am skeptical of handing that job over to them. But the issue needs to be addressed and changes need to be made. The state of Massachusetts is a leader in this matter - that I hope all states can follow in the footsteps of. Health insurance is mandated for every citizen. There are tax penalties for not having insurance. All companies of a certain size are a required to provide insurance. And government run insurance for the very poor has been expanded.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Reflections on my tonsilectomy

The good, the bad, and the ugly... My doctor was right. He did everything in his powers to dissuade me from it and he is right that if a patient is not as determined as I was to get it they would probably regret their decision. It was a very long, painful recovery.

I have noticed, while looking at the huge area of raw throat that, contrary to what it looked like before, the tonsils were not hanging by a thread and my near attempt to "snip" them out myself would have gone horribly wrong. ha ha.

The surgery itself was really easy. I was wheeled into the operating room under some drug, feeling groggy and then instantly I woke up in the recovery room! How cool is that?! I was surprised how swollen my airway was, I could barely breathe and that didn't make sense to me since two large objects were taken out. But the uvula was swollen to over three times it's usual size and, in fact, it took over a week before the swelling went down enough to be able to breath while lying on my back. My response as I was coming out of anesthesia was to ask a million questions. funny huh? I was asking the poor nurse. "Did I just have surgery?" (yes). "Can I see my tonsils?" (no) "Were they big?" (no response that I can recall) "why is my throat swollen?" ha ha. So that was funny.

I enjoyed my day of peace and quiet at the hospital and then went home. I couldn't really talk or eat. About three days later the pain got even more intense! I guess that's normal. I called the doctor for stronger drugs or at least a different form than pill and he switched my current drugs to liquid form. It worked though. I even had cold sores/lesions at the base of my tongue- probably traumatized from the surgery and that was excruciating. I'm pretty sure the tongue has even more nerve endings then the fingertips. As I lay there in pain I thought about people in other countries who are punished by having their tongue cut off and I decided that that has got to be one of the worst punishments ever.

So within a few days all the cauterizing started coming off. TMI: I wiped a good amount off with a cue tip. Mornings were horrible too. If I accidentally mouth breathed through the night my throat would be dry and excruciating.

As for food, I didn't eat much for two weeks. Probably lost a ton of weight. If I eat really healthy now maybe I can keep it off. I survived mostly on pudding, root beer floats and water. Towards the end I could really get a good meal in if I took my drugs a half hour before-hand.

My doctor warned me that vomiting would be a traumatic ordeal, should it occur. So when I took a multi-vitamin on an empty stomach and grew nauseous I prepared myself for the worst. I ended up throwing up a little but it wasn't too bad, maybe because I was a little bit healed, and maybe because I psyched myself up for much worse.

Other painful happenings I was not psychologically prepared for: yawning, coughing, sneezing, screaming. Yes, screaming. As in when -3 days after surgery- you are sitting in the dark livingroom on the couch with your two year old and out of no where a bat dive bombs into the room.

I can't wait til it's totally healed and I never have to deal with strep throat again! (or at least almost never).

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Republican Primaries Debate

So I flipped past the Republican primaries debate yesterday - (as I s-l-o-w-l-y recover from the tonsillectomy). I watched a little bit of it and was totally swooning over the candidates. They all told me exactly what I wanted to hear. (Which was kind of a relief because I've lately wondered if I'm more like a Democrat). I really liked all of them and would be happy if any of them won except Giuliani and McCain who are my second-tier favorites. Of course, my heart lies with my Governor Romney. (And well over a year ago I predicted a Romney v. Clinton election). I've been debating evolution online recently and was pretty surprised to hear the question come up in the debate and was just amazed by the answers. These guys were saying "I believe that 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. I believe that man was created in His image..." Just amazing stuff to hear in politics. Very refreshing.

Anyway, the funny/jaw dropping part of the debate was when Mayor Giuliani started speaking about God/religion and there was lightening outside which messed up the sound system so his mic. went in and out for a minute. Everyone kind of laughed about it and the two candidates next to him stepped away from him and even Giuliani joked about how this was scary, as a person who went to Catholic school for 12 years. But then it got freakier because it happened again about 15 minutes later!!! When Giuliani started talking about God/religion his mic went out again!!! And everyone ignored it this time but in my head I was like ... ok that was a pretty strange coincidence. Maybe it was God.

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