Saturday, July 31, 2010

Other Parents

One would think that other parents would be your most forgiving allies in the parenting journey, and sometimes they are.

Other times, not so much.

Those other times are when your neighbors, who are also parents of a two-year-old, have friends over for a backyard fire and stay up making loads of noise until 1:00 in the morning, making it impossible for you to go to sleep at ten when your own two-year-old has gone to sleep. And you know full well that the most sleep you can possibly get, if the boy sleeps, is five hours. If you are very, very lucky. But you know that the odds of this are small, as he has only slept through the night once in the past three weeks.

You go to bed at 1:00, when it is finally relatively quiet, and you can't get comfortable so you lie awake. At 1:45 when you are just about to maybe be able to relax enough so you might fall asleep, the boy wakes up. So you manage to get to sleep at around 2:15 or so. And then your uterus wakes you up at 5:15 with screaming cramps, so you get up and take some ibuprofen. But before you can get back to sleep, the boy wakes up and wants pillow. By the time he goes back to sleep, you are awake. Miserable, but awake.

So, no. I am not the best ally my neighbor parents could have today.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Target's Form Letter Response

It's nothing I didn't already know and address in my letter to them. They support both sides, candidates who they think will help their retail business, blah blah blah. It's not going to change my mind, and I still don't believe that "republican economic policies" are really better for the economy as a whole, including businesses. It seems that, after eight years of  "no new taxes" and cutting spending under a republican governor here in Minnesota, we have a 5 billion dollar deficit. Sure, it's part of a broader nation-wide recession, which seems to have been brought about by the same economic policies, deregulation, spurious mortgage practices, and interesting securities trading.

Target has its say (bold-faced choices are mine):
Fri, Jul 30, 2010
at 8:35 AM

Dear Karen McCauley,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What's more important than any one candidate's stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business objectives.* To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward's objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats.** For more information please visit, and view the Civic Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota's future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders.*** As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.


Jennifer Hanson
Target Executive Offices

*That's nice. As I have said, you can't just elect the business policies, and I continue to questions whether those business policies are really better for the economy and for business.

**Thanks for playing. I said you would say that, and that's why I included it in my letter to you.

***You are not delivering on all those commitments by supporting a candidate like Tom Emmer.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Waste of Fossil Fuel

Let's say I want to base my arguments against cloning using "Jurassic Park" as a source. This is clearly a cautionary tale, that shows us how we should not mess with Mother Nature because Mother Nature will inject a sedative saliva into our muscles, paralyzing us so we can be consumed at leisure by procompsognathus.

Hence, no cloning.

That's pretty much what I hear when someone says that what the Bible supposedly has to say about gay marriage is clear, important, and a basis for lawmaking.

Says one J.P Auer of Albany, Minnesota:

"I think (gay marriage) is certainly a tipping point for Christians who care about this issue... For Christians to ignore this issue is absurd."

Absurd. An interesting choice of words for someone citing a bunch of hand-me-down scrolls and parchments from the 3rd century BCE as evidence for how we should live our lives in 21st century United States of America.

Oh, by the way, That NOM rally happened yesterday in Saint Paul. Here's another quote:

"The family is a profound, beautiful thing and deserves to be protected with all our strength,"--Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage

Applause! I agree with that statement! Families should be supported and encouraged, whatever demographics they represent.

I think it might be that last part where Mr. Brown and I disagree.

There was a peaceful counter-protest by LGBT people and allies, and Mr. Brown went so far as to praise their civility. (Minnesotans are so nice.) Apparently, someone on the LGBT-A side had a sign that read "God Made Rainbows So I Could Catwalk Into Heaven," which pleases me to no end.

For some people, the issue is clear because the Bible is against it. It's an argument that should hold no water with anyone, let alone lawmakers (that whole pesky anti-establishment thing) because the Bible is for a heck of a lot of things that are considered bad ideas. Not to mention that the Bible is a book written centuries ago by random people with their own points of view and agendas. If we get to bring really old books to the law-making discussion, how about Beowulf?

I bet Grendel could teach politicians a thing or two.

P.S. Roseville, Minnesota Senator John Marty (DFL) has a bill in favor of gay marriage, and I say we all give him our support. Even in times of severe budget crisis, our government can find the time to address human rights issues. Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer is, of course, against it, so our upcoming governor's election is incredibly important.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Town Hall

Great Thundering Thor, does everyone need a Dear John Letter from me this week? I work near this place, and am scheduled for a business lunch there tomorrow! Town Hall, why? What are your reasons for canceling this show? Thanks to Professor Myers for pointing this out.

Town Hall Brewery.

Best Buy, Too

Electronics retailer Best Buy can be expecting a similar break-up letter from me, as soon as I have a moment to do some research.

Life Without Target, Part One

I needed a blender and a new food processor, one that would allow me to process things all at once instead of in small batches. I'm keeping the little red one, or Kevin, as he is fondly known, but something larger had to be acquired. My old blender is not very good at blending, which makes it not terribly useful. Plus, last time I used it, aside from not blending, there was that lovely smokey aroma electrical appliances get when their belts are fried (hence the not-blending).

Normally, this is a Target trip. As it happens, I had checked Target previous to my embargo, and knew that they did not have what I wanted. I stopped at the local foodie store, and they didn't have what I wanted, either. What was I to do?

Neighborhood hardware store!*

They have everything, in a smaller space, with more variety. It got my food processer and my blender. I am trying out one of those immersion/stick thingies that I had assumed were a fad, but several sources seem to swear by them. I admit, I don't totally understand them, but I have not tried it out yet. They did cost more, I am sure, but the experience was much more enjoyable and easier. I didn't have to deal with a parking lot or a hike to the door; no lines or shopping carts; fewer distractions; different brands. While I was there, I noted that they also have a kitchen trash can I want and had not been able to find previously.

So far, the only thing I am really wondering about is underwear. That's not really a consignment store/Goodwill sort of purchase...

*Ace-franchise, locally-owned. I don't see any information on for the owners of this franchise, and Ace Hardware comes up with mainly individual donations in small amounts.

Pope Writes Children's Book


No, really.

"It features a collection of the Pope’s descriptions of Jesus’ relationship with his “first companions,” including the original 12 apostles, Matthias, and St. Paul."

I can't. I really, just, can't. It's too easy, or it's too much. Either way, I can't comment any further right now.

Willkommen bei Lino Lakes!

Yesterday, a local city council passed a courageous measure, wholly in keeping with the spirit that both founded the United States of America and continues to keep it strong: an "English Only" ordinance.

They say it's a "budget measure" meant to save city funds, which will no longer be spent to translate city documents into any language.

Plus, it's great PR!

Ah, you have to love a nation of immigrants that seeks to actively exclude immigrants (not to mention others). A diverse country that attempts to squash diversity. To be fair, it's not a new thing. It seems not a congressional year goes by when a bill to make English the official language of the United States is not introduced. Other municipalities have similar ordinances. Some states have English as the official language.

It just seems silly to me, and yet another waste of time and resources. It's estimated that 19.6% of Americans speak a language other than English at home. Here in Minnesota, it's 9.6% of the population. They work, they go to school, they participate. They speak Spanish, Somali, Hmong, and Mandarin. They speak French and German. They are neighbors and friends. That was my grandmother, when she was a child, speaking Pennsylvania German at home.

I think it's pretty cool. I love seeing multiple languages in the instructions at a hospital. I like hearing conversations in other languages on the bus and trying to figure out which language it is. It's the shaping of American culture that started centuries ago, and continues to this day. We can think wistfully about days gone by, but the people living in those days were also thinking wistfully of days gone by. And in days gone by, in places like Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware, a whole heck of a lot of people were speaking German. Or Dutch. Or Swedish. Not to mention Mohegan, Anishinabe, and Tsalagi. Or Wolof, Mandink'a, and Yorùbá.

The United States of America would not be The United States of America without the contributions of all these people, and more. The English we speak here would not be the same. All languages absorb and trade from other languages. They change and grow as they are influenced by populations and cultural changes. What is English now was not English even decades ago. Come to think of it, Lino Lakes may have quite a job on their hands. Are they English-only as it exists today? As it was 10 years ago?

This may be a whole new budgetary issue.

2000 Census Brief: Language Use and English-Speaking Ability

Monday, July 26, 2010

NOM... Utterly un-nommable

The "National Organization for Marriage" or NOM is coming to a city near me! Actually, to my city.

They are rallying to promote marriage between a man and a woman, and they are "bring[ing] their summer tour to Minnesota and Wisconsin this week... The group plans to stop in 23 cities in 19 states before wrapping up with a rally in Washington on Aug. 15"

I bet they have great tee shirts.

Conservative. Nothing too fancy. You know, the kind of thing you can safely wear to any hate-based event you may be attending this season.

These kinds of organizations make me ill. While clearly not a waste of brain cells, they are a waste of time and resources. I am thinking that straight marriage doesn't need any promotion, though with divorced people making up 10.7 percent of the population over 15, it might need some counseling.

Why can't these people redirect their energies into, oh, I don't know, working against economic inequality, fostering unwanted pets, or hosing off oily pelicans? Probably because that wouldn't get as much press. Real, difficult problems don't make headlines, and it's hard to work yourself up into a good, frothy, fear-filled lather over a homeless veteran.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dear Target,

What's $2183.70 to a big company like you, beloved by millions of shoppers throughout the land, with sales of $63.4 billion during 2009? Not much, but it's what my little family of three spent at your stores in 2009 and 2010, up to now. I know you don't need me anymore. After all, your 2009 results "reflect the strongest retail segment profit in [your] history".

It's been grand, or, dare I say "Super", but I think it's time we see other people. You see, we don't agree about a few fundamental things, and it's standing in the way of this relationship going any further.

You think it's OK to deny women the right to choose their reproductive and sexual destiny, even as you partner with the Minnesota League of Women Voters.

You think it's just dandy to keep certain people from marrying the ones they love, even though you say you are trying to "foster an inclusive culture."

You believe it's a good idea to fund private schools at the expense of public schools, and furthermore, that the federal government should have no say in public education, even as you work to improve school libraries.

You think it should be harder for Americans to vote, even as you advocate voter education, and you believe Arizona's new immigration law is a good idea, even though you say "diversity is a core value throughout every area of [your] company."

You are proud of your NRA endorsement, even as you work with police officers "as trusted partners... to strengthen public safety."

You don't believe in global warming, even though though you say you "know what's good for the environment is good for everyone."

You don't believe in evolution, even though you "play an active role in supporting education."

Or, at least, that's what you are saying to me when you give $150,000 to an organization that is supporting Tom Emmer in the race for Minnesota governor. The above are deeply contradictory statements, and I can't reconcile the politician's beliefs with your company's stated goals, activities, and policies.

Clearly, these are things we can't overcome, "dealbreakers", I think they call them, so I'll be taking my money elsewhere from now on.

I know what you'll say. You'll say that you are non-partisan, you are just looking out for number one, and you will support anyone who you think supports you. You will say that you have given $80,000 to Democrats and $103,500 to Republicans in 2010, so it's pretty much equal.

You say you want to support Minnesotans, and that you love being here. You say you do a lot of good for the country in communities & schools.

But you never loved me. You never cared. And without me and countless other lefties, liberals, and progressives who support you, you are nothing. You can go ahead and support candidates who you say support business, but when those candidates are supporting business over supporting people, those people have less disposable income to spend in your stores.

When those candidates have beliefs that fly in the face of human rights, science, facts, and the common good, I have to draw the line.

Your 2007 Marketing Plan says that 93% of your shoppers are women, their median age is 41, their median household income is $63 thousand, 45% have children at home, and 48% have completed college. In that plan, it was advised that you branch out and find new markets, so I release you. May you be happy in the life that you have chosen.

I can get my tee shirts and baby bubble bath elsewhere.



p.s. Best Buy, you can be expecting a similar notice.

Note: Target CEO tries to explain. Oh, ok, then...

Open Secrets: Target Corp PAC expenditures
Open Secrets: Target Corp PAC Summary
Open Secrets: Center for Responsive Politics
American Public Media PAC*Men
Target: Our Company

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Accidental, you say?

As I have mentioned in the past, Minnesota has a grand tradition of thoughtful and effective politicians.

Our current governor and our former senator are not two of them.

Mr. Pawlenty can't let it go. Al Franken was declared the winner, and he's our senator. From all reports, I think he's doing a great job, though I already expected a good performance. He's a smart individual and a good thinker, like a lot of writers.

The thing that really gets me about the above screen grab is not Mr. Pawlenty's grasping at straws, it's Mr. Coleman's comment about Mr. Franken being an "accidental senator."

Excuse me, Mr. Coleman. Have you forgotten that your opponent, one of the most thoughtful politicians in my lifetime thus far, died in a plane crash just ten days before the election? That's about as accidental as it gets.

Friday, July 2, 2010


In my zip code, there are 27 grants, loans, and contracts totaling $11,200,898 that have come from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). They have gone to small businesses, really small businesses, neighborhood organizations, nonprofits, and advocacy groups. I just think that's pretty cool.