Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Civil War revisionism

As you may have heard in the news, last week the Governor of VA declared a Confederate History Month and neglected in the declaration to mention the labor structure that underpinned the entire economic model of the southern United States, defense of which was the goal of the Confederate States' secession, and which was oiled in the blood of a race. You know, or something. Anyway, people rightfully complained, another Southern governor predictably and depressingly doubled-down, and a political bloc, primarily of the right-wing and of the south, continues to pretend that slavery was a "minor" aspect of the Civil War and that the Battle Flag only stands for noble tradition and defense against "northern aggression."

Ta-Nehisi Coates, who I believe I've linked before (he's a liberal writer for the Atlantic), has written increasingly about the Civil War over the last several years as he continues to voraciously read books on the subject. I've only been reading him for about a year and a half, so I could be wrong, but I think this is a recent interest for him. In any case, he's been all over the more vocal resurgence of revisionism the past few weeks, and has written some good stuff, criticizing Gov. McDonnel's original declaration and, rightly, commending him for his later mea culpa. He aired some fascinating and sad comments from his readers. And now he's dug in to the psychological underpinnings of the Lost Cause. In the process, he wrote one of my favorite sentences I've seen in some time, the second the two I will quote here:
This is about a lancing shame, about that gaping wound in the soul that comes when confronted with the appalling deeds of our forebears. Lost Causers worship their ancestors, in the manner of the abandoned child who brags that his dead-beat father is actually an astronaut, away on a mission of cosmic importance.
Matthew Yglesias of ThinkProgress has also written some great stuff on the subject over the past couple weeks, as well. At the Daily Beast he wrote about the strain within the GOP that celebrates treason in defense of slavery, subverting that party's roots. And on his blog he commented on Ed Kilgore's suggestion of a Neo-Confederate History Month, which he points out would be quite bipartisan in its subjects.

Late-breaking addition: MS Gov Haley Barbour's history-ignorant proclamation of Confederate History Month!

That guy's the WORST.

Just wanted to get this off my computer desktop. Found it in the comments section of a blog post on a sports site during the Olympics:

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not good with needles

As a kid, I was never been particularly good with needles, and I had a mental hierarchy of the awfulness of encounters with them: the regular fingertip pinprick was Bad and Hated, but at the bottom of the scale. That such an easy needle prick was so disliked should tell you how I felt about shots, which were more loathed as needle gauge and depth and volume of injection increased. The worst of the worst, which thankfully I didn't often have cause to encounter, were long intravenous needles.

When I was in my mid-to-late-single-digits, I had to get a particular series of vaccinations, the first two about a month apart. My recollection is that these were thick needles buried deep into the muscle (such as it was) of the outer thigh. They sucked. Anyway, I got the first one, and hated it so much that the next month when I returned to the pediatrician for round two, I decided I'd had enough.

My pediatrician's office at the time was in a small round office building in Edina. This one:

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It was the former home of a savings & loan, and featured a center hallway that circumnavigated the building. The building was small enough that the doctors' office was the only tenant. This layout suggested a strategy: run.

It wasn't an elegant or complete plan, but it did afford me additional, precious, unpunctured minutes as I sprinted around the building. I don't remember whether I made it all the way around or perhaps made multiple complete circuits. You would think I'd be intercepted by my poor mother or the RN or an assistant if I crossed back in front of my assigned exam room. What I do know is that at some point, I realized that I couldn't run forever and made my next tactical move, ducking into a bathroom and locking the door.

Looking back, I can see my folly. If I had it to do all over again, I'd make damn sure that I was out of the line-of-sight of any pursuers or informants before I ducked in there. I'd have opened and shut the door in a smooth motion, as silently as possible, so as to not give away my location. I might have even selected an escape route that wasn't a dead end. But I speak with the benefit of rational hindsight and with years of experience watching the action movies and playing the video games that impart these important lessons to us in our adolescence. And I have the further benefit of better information -- how was I supposed to know they had keys to the bathroom?

Yes, there are plenty of things I'd have done differently if I had known better. I could have spared myself the indignity of being pulled out from under the sink of a darkened bathroom and held down by multiple assistants while the nurse administered the Hated shot. At the time I'm pretty sure I didn't know what my mother was so embarrassed about: she wasn't the one who got caught!

Some time later I got the third shot, and had mellowed enough to just deal with it. By my later teenage years I was just kind of squicked out by needles; Pulp Fiction became a favorite movie of mine, but the close-up interlude of heroin use and later adrenaline shot moment were all but unwatchable (incidentally, hatred of needles is an excellent barrier to entry of IV drug use, not that there weren't plenty of other deterrents). At present I certainly don't LIKE shots, I can reliably go into a zen-like state of acceptance when I have to get one.

PS: All apologies to my mother and to the 198x staff of Edina Pediatrics, especially those whose duties occasionally include twerp restraint.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"And then one day you find / [48 days] have got behind you"

Wow, I made it through all of March without a post? Dang. Gotta get back on the horse.

In the meantime, here's the entirety of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon rendered with an NES sound chip: Moon8. I particularly like the rendition of "Time," which would be at home in a Mega Man game.

Hat tip: Jeremy Parish