Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

CNN ran a fascinating opinion piece by feminist writer Stephanie Coontz on why men — and women — behave the way they do during an affair. She was writing this in response to the Petraeus scandal.

In another sad scandal, Kevin Clash, the voice behind Elmo, has resigned amid allegations that he slept with underage men. He was on the job for 28 years. I find this all shocking and sad as my oldest especially was a huge Elmo fan. What are your thoughts?

This Upworthy video is too good not to share. It’s about how a monkey reacts to find out it is not receiving equal pay for equal work. Sounds familiar, huh?

I didn’t realize this, but there is a way for the post office to mark the mail from Santa Claus. Very cute.

Here’s another article I read from top to bottom. The New York Times ran a story about children of color who attend largely white and privileged private schools in New York City. I am looking forward to checking out the two documentaries that are mentioned.

Last, but definitely not least, I want to mention the Wal-Mart strikers. I will be thinking of them as I sit down with my family for Thanksgiving because, thankfully, my workplace gives me the day off. Paid. I don’t need to tell you, but Wal-Mart has a hideous record of disrespecting workers, whether it’s not paying them overtime or under-compensating them so they can’t afford to raise their families. Not only do I urge you not to give them your business on Black Friday, but please consider donating to sponsor a striking worker and/or signing the many petitions that are out there:, Courage Campaign and to name a few.

On that note, I hope you all have a fabulous Thanksgiving with your families! Peace!


50 thoughts on “Wednesday Morning Open Thread

  1. No work today! No work until Monday! I haven’t had more than 12 hours off since September and I’ve got just the teensiest hangover to show that I kicked it off well last night. I read one of my favorite Outlander books, hung out with DH and the kiddos, and watched the season finale of Covert Affairs which did. not. disappoint.

    And the birdies. Oy, the birdies.

    Our local community has this thing called Plaid Friday on the day after Thanksgiving, in support of local business. Wear plaid and you get special discounts at participating merchants. It’s a cool thing and DH and I will go out on Friday to pick up a couple of things downtown just to show our support. We’ve tried like crazy to stay out of Wal-Mart (and Target, which isn’t much better, is it?) , but the kid we’re shopping for from church has requested a Monster High t-shirt which I think you can only get there. Not sure about how to resolve my moral conundrum with that one.

    • Just get it.

      I’m a bit conflicted about Walmart because they do have some good qualities. But I definitely support the workers right to strike and/or unionize. I like being able to contribute directly to the workers.

      • I’m not against black friday as a concept at all — I don’t ever participate, but I don’t have any major issues with the idea of going out and shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. What I do think is a problem is the marking up of items through the fall only to offer “discounts” for black friday, and encouraging the manic behavior. No one should be trampled to death over a TV.

        I’ve never shopped at Wal*Mart, though. I think it’s had a major effect on business culture. Much of the job growth has been in low-paid hourly jobs, and Wal*Mart has normalized the practice of not hiring people with enough hours to earn benefits. Other companies have to do the same to compete. Lower paid workers are not good for the economy. It costs a lot to be able to shop this cheaply.

        • Oh I totally agree with the point about benefits.

          The things I do sort of like are that they are actually somewhat green and, it’s a catch 22, but their prices are affordable. If you are poor you really can’t afford the regular grocery store chain. Of course it’s on the backs of their own labor and suppliers. But they are not the only ones to blame for why we don’t have a living wage in this country.

          • Also, Walmarts are EVERYWHERE and if you live in a place like me where the closest big shopping areas are at least 40 min drive then sometimes Walmart is the only choice.
            Too bad people have to fight these union battles all over again.

        • YES — “It costs a lot to be able to shop this cheaply.” A million times yes. The costs come out of the employees and also out of the communal pot created by taxes. How people, esp. Republicans, think it’s okay for the rest of us to subsidize obscene wealth among a few WalMart owners is mystifying to me.

          WalMart has led the race to the bottom in the U.S. and made it okay to treat workers like fungible unfeeling objects. I especially hate their “just in time scheduling” which makes it impossible for employees to get a second or third job to supplement their crappy WalMart wages, much less have an orderly home life with predictable times to be at home with kids and spouse. Ugly.

          I’ve heard that vendors view having WalMart as a client as the best of all worlds / worst of all worlds. They place huge orders, but their margins are so slender it’s really hard to make a profit and treat people right.

  2. Thanks for the Walmart link. Donated a small amount and shared. As I said on FB, I’m actually not against Black Friday sales but I do support the brave workers willing to stand up for fair pay.

    Did anyone watch “Poor Kids” on frontline last night? Heartbreaking. And interesting for me, as we live in an urban area where there are many more options for poor families to find help. The documentary featured rural poor families. Poor community, limited resources. So sad. Why must our kids go hungry in America???

    Also I am still really sad about Kevin clash. I just lived Elmo’s sweet spirit and in spite of the commercialism, Elmo was Kevin Clash. I feel duped, like how can someone create such a pure hearted character and be such a bad person, deep down? Damn postpartum hormones now I’m weepy!

    Baby F continues to be awesome. She’s only getting up once a night and ends up in bed with me for the second half of the night, because I fall asleep nursing. But we’re getting sleep, for now. My son is amazing with her. Dd shows some interest but I’m just glad she’s not jealous. She tells everyone she meets that she’s a big sister.

    Moving to our rental Sunday (dh and friends are handling it), but I might stay on with my mom at the apartment another week until I’m ready to tackle organizing. My moms here till early December so things are relaxed. As Katie would say, #soblessed. 😉

    • Watched some of “Poor Kids” this morning and will watch the rest this afternoon. I am seriously considering changing my plans for the last two weeks of class to work in showing this to my Human Development students. Not only does it highlight how poverty impacts development on a physical, cognitive and emotional basis but I think it might challenge how some of our students think about being poor. There is a real slant toward the “if you just work harder” thinking among our students and I try to challenge that whenever I can.

      • Exactly. Even my mom, who’s a liberal in most senses of the word, was ragging on the one mom in the homeless shelter for having her nails done. I said, “do you think $5 Lee press on nails are going to make a big difference in this families finances?” For cryin out loud, if you are poor, don’t DARE do even one remotely nice, cheap, thing for yourself.

        That little Kaylie really broke my heart because she reminded me so much of my dd in a few years.

        And the hotels…I used to work a minimum wage job with some girls who would live from hotel to hotel. Once you start that, it’s pretty much over. You can’t dig your way out financially.

      • I’m so glad you challenge their “up by the bootstraps” ethos, because honestly some of it is b.s. and needs to be aired out.

        I talked about about poverty when I taught developmental classes. Looking back, I probably neglected rural poverty and focused more on urban issues. Poor kids can’t practice balance by walking on curbs, for example, if they’re restricted to indoors because of crime. I would let a little factoid like that sink in and watch the implications ripple out.

        Poverty is such a powerful force in our society. F**k John Edwards for not being the candidate we needed to really address it.

        • Rural poverty is something that most people don’t have on their radar. I was working on a book on that topic a few years back, but the publisher pulled out, saying “No one cares about what happens in the sticks.” Nice. I considered it karma that they went under a year later.

          Seriously though, many of my colleagues in the school change world think I’m not “doing the work” because I don’t work in urban schools. (We have other coaches who do, but I don’t.) I don’t have the skill set or the experience to do it well, but I get rural poverty. Grew up in it, though not to the degree that some do today.

          The whole rural culture is slowly dying out. Between a lack of employment opportunities and a dominant culture that says “If you’re anyone, you’re not living in the country and if you’re living in the country you’re not anyone,” (even in textbooks and on standardized tests), kids don’t stay after graduation if there’s any possible way for them to get out. As one of my friends says, “It’s tough on parents to realize that they can either encourage their kids to stay close to home- and doom them to a life of poverty- or send them to college, knowing they’ll never come back again.”


          • DH and I were talking about this recently. We’re both city kids (I wouldn’t consider Orange County a city per se, but it’s densely populated and growing up I always lived in apartment buildings) and have dreamed of having a home in the country eventually. DH wants to have a hobby farm and then we’d live there during the week (after the kids have moved out), and trade our house here for a small condo downtown for weekends.

            Anyway, we’ve been talking about how rural communities are dying, the influx of drugs and meth manufacturing, etc. It seems like you’d have to stay closer to the tourism-oriented small towns (out here it’s common for even middle-class families to have a small home on a lake within a 3 hour drive).

            You’d think that with the advent of the internet and how quickly that’s become a part of the American lifestyle that it would be easier to stay out in rural areas. It seems like it should be easier than ever to work as a telecommuter (and hello, can we get our corporations to outsource to rural telemarketing offices instead of international ones?), and yet instead, rural areas are shrinking.

            • Here’s something that most people don’t know- there are still a lot of rural areas where anything beyond dial-up is cost prohibitive. The FCC was supposed to be doing something to make internet more accessible, but that went by the wayside (last I heard) when the economy crashed. So folks who can afford the DSL or whatever are okay, but everyone else has basically no access. Since those schools have limited access (not to mention really ancient hardware in a lot of cases), the kids don’t come out equipped to telecommute. I worked on a project a few years back that was supposed to help one of our clients (about 40 minutes from the closest small city) bring their tech up to basic standards, but the funder (rhymes with Hates) wouldn’t consider the proposal because it wasn’t an urban setting.

              Seriously- don’t get me started. The whole thing makes me shabby.

              • This is a problem that Australia is grappling with as well. However, it’s being mostly (I think) addressed by a national broadband network, taxpayer funded. It’s going to take a few years, but the goal is to get everyone, rural and urban, onto broadband. I sure hope they make it – particularly remote areas that tend to get overlooked so very badly.

              • This may be changing, though. AT&T wants to drop its POTS (plain old telephone Service) network and replace with fiber. If they do so (and it’ll require a regulatory shift, because Telcos can’t kill POTS right now) then that might lick off a move to rural broadband, finally.

        • I hate that metaphor. It is literally impossible to lift yourself by your own bootstraps. However, a few people could lift someone by their bootstraps. So, I like the idea that it’s not possible to lift yourself by your own bootstraps, but it is possible for us to lift each other. Just like the fact that no billionaire got that way on their own. Even a “self-made-man” benefitted from the things that living in this country provides.

  3. My Joe Joe called me this morning and said all the exact right things to make me feel better… he said “I know you, you’re being all “oh no i’m totally fine that my family are pretty much all dead… honey you’re allowed to be sad now and then…” then proceeded to tell me a HI LAR I OUS story about his mom, who I worship, and to make me laugh so hard i had to pull into a Dunkin’s parking lot …

    All better now, and ready for my Sondheim viewing tomorrow!

  4. Any opinions on cooking a turkey breast in a crock-pot? I’ve got a five pound bone-in breast roast that will JUST fit in the crock-pot. Cooking it in the crock-pot will free up the oven. Yeah or Nay?

    • It won’t have that nice crispy skin, but it will taste fine. Just make sure no one is going to be horrified by less-traditional turkey.(or you can be mean mommy like me: When you are a grownup you can do it the way you want it…)

      • I don’t think any one will be horrified. It’s just six of us — the boys, DH, MIL and her husband. The boys won’t even eat the turkey (they’ll eat ham). DH, MIL and MIL’s husband are all super agreeable. Thinking ….

    • Was considering doing the same. I am making one this afternoon to slice and have in gravy for tomorrow (we’re also having ham) and keeping the oven free for some baking would make things much easier. I think I’m going to go for it – since it’s going in gravy anyway the crispy skin isn’t an issue.

      • How are you going to heat it up tomorrow? Oven? Stove top? Microwave? I cold make it today in the crock pot … but I’ve been known to mess up when it comes time to re-heat. I have to keep the turkey separate from the gravy.

        • I’m planning to use the crock pot on low/warm to heat it through tomorrow. Having it in the gravy makes that easier. I don’t think I’d do it in advance if I had to keep it out of gravy for fear that anything I did to reheat would just dry it out.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am missing DS. I’m also kind of being a baby inside about going to my local brother’s house, as we usually do. I thought he was going to go to my other brother’s house (East coast, not feasible for me) and I had happy plans to eat a nice restaurant meal blissfully free of football, guns, bagging on poor people, and other assorted areas of friction, but instead he’s hosting.

    It’s a very important holiday to DB so of course DH and I will go but I’ll be having a private little tantrum (want peaceful restaurant meal, damn it!). He and I actually do better in person than on FB but seriously his worldview makes me deeply sad and it’s just hard and lonely to be around.

    My nephew’s wife is a normal, compassionate, enlightened person and also my personal life preserver at these functions. And I stay close to DH. It’s a weird physical feeling of needing protection and he is my body armor. Pretty much how I grew up, except without the protection. Okay I’ll stop with the psychoanalysis now.

    Really missing my boy.


  6. Just watching the situation in Gaza, and ladies, can I say thank Jebus that Obama won re-election? Can you imagine this flaring up with Romney elected and a lame-duck Obama administration? shudder.

    • Interesting, because my first thought was “if this had happened in the week before the election, Romney would have won.” I don’t love Obama, and I don’t love his handling of the crisis (infact I’d go as far as to say it makes me very angry) but a Romney Presidency would have been immeasurably worse.

      So, that’s damning with faint praise…

  7. Thanks Elisa for all of the great links.

    I try to stay away from Facebook politics fights, but I got drawn into one about Walmart today. People can have their own opinions, but I just absolutely hate the huge amount of anti-worker rhetoric these days. Like the Walmart workers hardly have the right to complain and they are just being whinny brats. That is why I so loved the Democratic Convention this year because they just kept saying over and over when we work together and fight for each other we all win? Don’t people understand that we who enjoy our weekends, our public schools and our labor free childhoods all have our labor fighting forefathers to thank? #rantover.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

    • I’ve seen that, too — the meme that since you’re not a soldier in a war zone, you have no right to complain about having to work on thanksgiving. I have stayed out of it, though……just don’t have the stomach to deal with a Facebook fight at the moment.

    • I have been SO good about staying out of FB fights and I got into one for the SAME reason…I said over and over again” when did the worker become the enemy” but no b/c this woman had once worked a minimum wage job and “never expected a handout to feed her family “and because she has a job that calls for her to work on Thanksgiving. she is the expert and no one can complain otherwise they should give up their jobs to people who want it..

      So. maddening

      • plus from what I have read about the labor dispute “having to work on Thanksgiving” isn’t even what it is about.

        I just politely pointed out to my high school friend that Walmart actually encourages their workers to apply for government assistance. Therefore we the tax payer are subsidizing Walmart workers so Walmart doesn’t have to pay a living wage. Sure it didn’t change his thinking, but since the fight didn’t get ugly I felt at least a bit better.

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