Monday, September 14, 2009

Cool New Gadget

Oh, my. I love this.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Michelle Obama to Break Ground on White House Garden

I have been pleased to be part of the "Eat the View" Campaign, a petition asking the Obamas to plant a garden at the White House to showcase the many benefits of gardening: economic, nutritious, physical, emotional, and environmental. 

Michelle Obama is going to break ground at the White House on the South Lawn for the first formal vegetable garden in decades. 

Bravissimo, Michelle! 


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Planned Parenthood in Trouble: Please Call Your Senator

This was posted today. Please post, re-post, and call your senators. Phone number lookup below. 

We have just learned that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is expected to attack Planned Parenthood today.  He will offer an amendment to the Appropriations Act this afternoon that would block Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving federal funds from Title X, the nation’s family planning program.

The Title X program enables family planning health centers to provide basic health care, such as birth control, breast exams and Pap tests for early detection of cancer, blood pressure testing, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV screening, and adoption referrals.  Vitter's attack on Planned Parenthood is an anti-choice tactic to prevent women from accessing abortion, but Title X funds cannot be used to provide abortion services — in fact, a main goal of the Title X program is toprevent unintended pregnancies and reduce the need for abortion.

There is a health care crisis in this country, and this amendment would make it more difficult for women, men, teens, and families to get the services they need.  US News recently reported that more and more women are turning to Planned Parenthood health centers in these difficult economic times, and for many other low-income women, men, and teens, Planned Parenthood is their primary source of health care.  Attacking the nation's leading reproductive health care provider and many people’s only option for medical care is unconscionable.  

We need you to call your senators and tell them to stand up and oppose the Vitter amendment.

The Appropriations bill is being voted on this afternoon, so we need you to call today.  Ask your senators to speak out on the floor and oppose Sen. David Vitter’s Amendment No. 601 to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R.1105).  

Don’t know who your senators are, or what their office telephone numbers are? 
It’s easy to look them up.

Calling your senators is easy (promise!)  You can just tell whomever answers the phone:

Planned Parenthood’s health center is my community’s women’s health center, and I oppose Sen. David Vitter’s Amendment No. 601 to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R.1105). It is an unconstitutional, completely unfounded attack.

Stand with Planned Parenthood and the millions of women, men, and teens who count on us.  Call your senators and tell them to oppose the Vitter Amendment today!

Thanks so much for all you do, 
Planned Parenthood Action Fund

Sunday, February 8, 2009

William Shakespeare, Edward de Vere, What's In A Name?

Mark Anderson's 'Shakespeare' by Another Name is the best book that I've read in years. It was fascinating. I left it on the passenger seat of my car, open, so I could read it at red lights. The designation of "Red Light Book" is my highest honor for a book. 

More to the point: I like Shakespeare's works. I took two Shakespeare classes in undergrad. When I watch a play, I tote along my big, red Bevington (dog-eared, written-on, and wrinkled with coffee, wine, and tears,) to read along. 

During one undergrad class, one professor noted in passing that some people didn't think the guy from Stratford on Avon (the town) wrote the plays, but it didn't matter, really, who wrote them. The play's the thing that matters. 

I didn't realize that the authorship issue was so hotly debated. (Read some of these other reviews, not to mention the websites and books and forums and conferences dedicated to debating this issue. Wheesh!) I just assumed that there was ample evidence that William Shakspeare (no typo, that's how the guy from SOA spelled his name,) went to London, became an actor, and wrote the plays. It was only 400 years ago. The year 1600 (a round number within the Shakespearean era) isn't the Iron Age. We have many records and books from the era of Elizabeth I. It's just not that long ago. 

A few years ago, I saw a special on PBS about the Shakespeare authorship question. I've been hooked ever since. 

*'Shakespeare' by Another Name* by Mark Anderson is a convincing compilation of the Oxfordian side of the argument. At almost 600 pages long, it is indeed quite complete. As I stated above, I read every word avidly. I read the appendices. 

Anderson does indeed write a biography of Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford, and parallel events, characters, and situations from de Vere's life with WS's works. It's exhaustive but hardly exhausting. With each new tidbit, I became more convinced that de Vere indeed adopted a pen name and stuck to his story. Even his heirs stuck to his story. 

While there is, ultimately, no smoking gun, Anderson presents a convincing case. Let's go with the classic structure of a murder case: means, motive, and opportunity. 

While Anderson does not stoop to such a crass outline, he nevertheless explains in deep detail *how* de Vere pulled off the Shakespeare hoax, *why* he used a pen name at all and why that one, and *when* the hoax was first perpetrated and then canonized. 

Anderson's writing is amusing, lucid, and strong. There are laugh-out-loud lines and paragraphs that made me gasp, astonished. 

Here's a little preview: as a young lad, de Vere lived with a guardian after his father died, received a world-class education, and had access to a phenomenal library. This library included, at the time, the only extant copy of Beowulf. Beowulf, though well-known today, was almost lost to the ages, but for *that one copy.* De Vere's tutor, an old English scholar, signed his name in the copy (a common thing, back then, kind of like a check-out slip.) Consider, if you will, the obvious plot and character parallels between Hamlet and Beowulf. The author of Hamlet clearly had read Beowulf and understood deeply. (Any other explanation is like denying the literary relationship between "Heart of Darkness" and *Apocalypse Now.*) De Vere was one of very few people in England or elsewhere with access to Beowulf, let alone that his tutor signed it at the time he tutored de Vere. 

That's one small example. There are hundreds. De Vere signed his ancestral home over to his three daughters while he was still living (like King Lear.) Hamlet appears to be very thinly veiled autobiography. 

I also really liked the statistical analysis of the Biblical quotes in Shakespeare's works vs. the underlined passages in de Vere's Bible. While this sounds dry, Anderson keeps this short and pithy. Just enough math to support the conclusions. 

Anderson is so convincing that from now on, when I watch Shakespeare, I plan to tote not only the big, red Bevington, but also Anderson. De Vere's life informs the plays and makes them more poignant and brilliant. 

I'm an Oxfordian convert. With conversion, as anyone who knows an ex-smoker is aware, comes zealotry. If de Vere wasn't Shakespeare, he should have been. 

You have to read this book. It's a literary mystery wrapped in reimagining of history. Even if you're a die-hard Stratfordian, you should read Anderson's book. 

TK Kenyon 
Author of 
Rabid: A Novel and Callous

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thomas Jefferson's View on Banks

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."