I was at my aunt’s 85th birthday party this Saturday, and was talking to my cousin Dan, the genealogist. He informed me that even though our grandfather’s people were Muellers from Germany, he’s traced things back enough to find that our branch of the Muellers were from the Austrian-Italian border and appear to be much more Italian than German.
And there is simply no room in my head for that. It does not resonate, not even a little bit.
Mind you, my sister and I always wanted to be Italian, mostly because we admired the flair, the shouts of “Vaffancul’!”, the quick tempers displayed by the Italian girls in all-out screaming fights with their families. Getting invited to dinner at an Italian girl’s house was an education in alternative means of familial dispute resolution. Screaming? You don’t “resolve” things in Irish families; you let them fester. We had an Irish mother, we got the silent treatment, the freeze-out. It was unthinkable that we’d scream at our parents.
We also sort of admired the way Italian females kept their boyfriends and husbands completely cowed, although as we got older, we did eventually figure out the downside to that approach (the probably-related tendency for their men to cheat, usually with non-Italian women).
I would have been less surprised if Dan told me I was Jewish, since people so often assume I am. When they find out I’m not, they get all flustered and I like to make it worse: “Why do you think that? Because I’m assertive and opinionated?” Heh. Continue Reading »
Speaking yesterday on Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that “the Obama system of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is basically breaking the law to try to punish Boeing and to threaten every right-to-work state.”
While Meet the Press host David Gregory vigorously challenged Newt Ginrgrich on details of his personal life, he failed to challenge Gingrich on his false assertion that the NLRB was breaking the law by finding that Boeing punished workers for striking in Washington state by moving a planned new production line there to nonunion South Carolina. Despite the NLRB complaint against Boeing being one of the most high-profile NLRB cases in decades and entirely consistent with past legal precedent, Gregory failed to say anything.
His decision not to challenge Gingrich on the Boeing case is especially troubling since the main sponsor of Meet the Press is none other than Boeing. The top of Meet the Press’ website proudly boasts that the show is “sponsored by Boeing.” No other corporation is listed so prominently as a sponsor on the website. In addition, Boeing is the exclusive sponsor of Meet the Press’ the iPhone app.
By not challenging Gingrich’s outrageously false assertion that the NLRB is acting illegally by demanding that the company move production, Gregory did not do his duty as a journalist and allowed his audience to believe that the NLRB was indeed acting illegally. This is simply untrue.
Athens — Already struggling to avoid a debt default that could seal Greece’s fate as a financial pariah, this Mediterranean nation is also scrambling to contain another threat — a breakdown in the rule of law.
Thousands have joined an “I Won’t Pay” movement, refusing to cover highway tolls, bus fares, even fees at public hospitals. To block a landfill project, an entire town south of Athens has risen up against the government, burning earth-moving equipment and destroying part of a main access road.
The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.
Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups, whose tactics include planting of gas canisters in mailboxes and destroying bank ATMs.
Some attacks have gone further, heightening concerns about a return to the kind of left-wing violence that plagued parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. After urban guerrillas mailed explosive parcels to European leaders and detonated a powerful bomb last year in front of an Athens courthouse, authorities here have staged a series of raids, arresting dozens and yielding caches of machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials.
The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks.
“Many of these are just a few frustrated high school students with a Web site,” said Mary Bossi, one of Greece’s leading terrorism experts. “But as we continue to see, others have the potential to be dangerous.”
They really seem to be floundering from plan to plan, but at least they’ve recognized that pouring radioactive water into the sea isn’t making things any better:
TOKYO — An adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated Sunday that a plan to flood and cool the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant with water will be abandoned as holes have been created by melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of the pressure vessel.
Goshi Hosono, tasked with handling the nuclear crisis, told TV programs, however, that the government will keep intact the ‘‘road map’’ devised by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co to bring the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors under control within six to nine months.
On the original plan to completely submerge the 4-meter-tall fuel rods by filling the vessel with water, Hosono said, ‘‘We should not cause the (radioactive) water to flow into the sea by taking such a measure.’‘
Hosono said that the government will instead consider ways to decontaminate water used to cool fuel in the reactor so that the water can be reused.
I think about this book all the time, in the same fevered way I used to think about lovers. Is it real art, or is it limerence? Will it love me back? Do I choose the right words to make it sing? Is my tone too serious, too light? Do I ask too much, or too little? What if I fall completely, deeply in love with this book and it all falls apart at the end? What if I give everything I have, and it isn’t enough? How can I sleep at night, not knowing how it all turns out?
But I think of not writing, not knowing how it ends and it feels like falling, so I go crawling back. Please baby please, can’t we make this thing work? I swear, I’ll outline each scene on an index card, I’ll pin you to the wall until I find just the right way to tell your story.