Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday Hope Blogging

This can be done by stealing Phila's Friday Hope Blogging. It's a useful corrective for the general sense of gloom-and-doom I and quite a few others spread in our attempt to change things. Because some good change is taking place, and it needs to be given attention, too.

The Focus Of Terrorism

Is to make people frightened. This is important to remember when judging the coverage of the recent car bombing attempts in the United Kingdom. It's perfectly fine to report on the attempts. But it's not perfectly fine to spread panic or to make the attempts into something more sophisticated than they really are. That way the media serves the goals of the terrorists. Or so I think.

Lilies, Roses and Delphiniums

Another garden essay. The picture doesn't show any of the plants I write about, but it does show some red daylilies at about this time of the year.

I love lilies, the tall-stemmed perfumed white ones with enormous flower cups. They look unapproachably regal, like the cold queens of some ancient barbaric tribe. Yet their scent in a summer evening evokes much earthier thoughts: one thinks of skin and lips, husky voices whispering endearments, the ladies of the night.

As much as I love lilies I hate the lily beetle. This small orange-red beetle lives for two things: to destroy lilies and to copulate, and it is extremely successful in both. It appears to have no natural enemies in my garden, myself excluded, and each year it comes out a little more victorious in the war I wage against it. I am also getting tired of the manner in which it has turned my daily garden strolls into beetle crushing campaigns. I am beginning to think that my lily growing days may soon be over.

Or perhaps not. There are no good understudies for lilies as August star performers, and some stars are necessary for each month of the gardening season.

Roses are similar divas of the garden. My climbing roses are finally large enough to be admired from below. Their June dance of ivory, silk and lace coincides with the flowering of honeysuckles and leaves me drunk with the garden for days. But once the perfect flowers are gone, the awkward disease-ridden bodies remain to demand the gardener's attention.

Never mind that my roses were bought as disease-resistant, they seem to get blackspot almost before they get leaves. Organic remedies have no perceptible impact, so my blackspot treatment consists of careful removal of the sickened leaves. By August, the roses are close to skeletal, and the lilies are then also needed to draw the spectator's eye away.

Deciding the destiny of my lilies and roses is not going to be easy. Most real choices aren't. For whatever I choose, something essential will be lost: satiny petals, intoxicating scent and beauty of the floral form on the one hand, time and peace of mind on the other. And when the choice is finally made, regrets follow.

I still miss the delphiniums (delphinium elatum) to which I dedicated most of my compost, waking hours and miles of stake and string for several summers. The last summer I grew them they stood seven feet tall with hundreds of slowly opening sky blue eyes. Then one night it rained hard, and the following morning the delphiniums were lying helter-skelter across other plants, looking like duchesses who were dressed for a ball but chose instead to stand on their heads in mud puddles. This may have seemed funny to them, but was not my idea of a star performance. It wasn't too difficult to let them go. But I still have some regrets.

The lilies and roses would be much more painful to lose, as they, at least, complete their performances, and all the understudies I know for them are just that, understudies.

So should I grow them or not? There should be a third answer to this dilemma, just like there should be one for other difficult choices in life.

Friday, June 29, 2007

On The Fourth Branch

That would be Dick Cheney. It's now acceptable to notice how he has amassed power out of all proportion to the actual role of the Vice President and how he uses secrecy and the refusal to acknowledge laws to go on holding it. Acceptable, because David Broder wrote a column on the topic:

Cheney, as described in a breathtakingly detailed series in The Post this week by reporters Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, is something else.

What they discovered, in a year of work that reveals more about the inner workings of this White House than any previous reporting, is a vice president who used the broad authority given him by a complaisant chief executive to bend the decision-making process to his own ends and purposes, often overriding Cabinet officers and other executive branch officials along the way.

Cheney used his years of experience, as a former White House chief of staff, as the secretary of defense and as the House Republican whip -- and all the savvy that moved him into those positions -- to amass power and use it in the Bush administration. He was more than a match for the newcomers to the White House, and he outfoxed even the veterans of past administrations when it came to the bureaucratic wars.

As Josh Marshall notes, most of this is not new for those who read progressive and liberal blogs. It is the mainstream media which has been finally given the green light to go after Cheney. It could be too late, of course.

Why did it take so long for Cheney to be properly criticized? Opinions vary (as they say), but my guess is that fear and proximity to the government have their role to play. Also that "he-said-she-said" schtick which means that Cheney could control the debate in many venues.

By the way, read the series Broder mentions. It's good reporting.

A Deep Thought For The Day

Caught on a wingnut blog:

The conservative court campaigned over for the last 25 years has finally come to fruition.

Remember this when the conservatives pretend that they don't want activist judges.

Now Watch This Video

It's about the Paris Hilton case. MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski rebels on air about having to make the Hilton case the first piece in the news. Note how she is treated by Joe Scarborough.


You know what happens usually this time of the year if you open a window without a screen at night and turn the lights on? Bugs come in. All sorts of flying insects.

Well, they didn't last night. Not only are there no honey bees around the Snakepit Inc., but I don't even see that many moths.

It's an odd feeling to miss something that is a bit of a nuisance. But I do miss the bugs. So do my resident spiders.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

And The Third In My Series Of Deep Posts on a Humid Day

This one has to do with Cuba. George Bush is anticipating the death of Fidel Castro and the events that might come about after that:

President Bush openly anticipated the death of ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro today, picturing it as an opportunity to bring freedom to the Caribbean island after nearly a half century of iron-fisted rule by the fiery Communist leader.

"One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Bush said during a question-and-answer session at the U.S. Naval War College here. As the audience laughed and began to applaud, Bush seemed to realize that cheering the death of another head of state, even an enemy, might appear unseemly and quickly quieted the crowd. "No, no, no," he told them.

But he then imagined what it would be like once Castro is gone and forecast a debate over how aggressively the United States should try to open up the totalitarian system in Havana. "The question is, what will be the approach of the U.S. government?" he said. "My attitude is that we need to use the opportunity to call the world together to promote democracy as the alternative to the form of government they have been living with."

Wouldn't it be the horned guy who will come for Fidel in Bush's worldview? Never mind. What I wanted to write about is the question what Cuba would look like in the future if Bush's wishes are realized.

Many good things might happen, true. But if Cuba becomes a country of unbridled capitalism, what will it lose? Somehow the comparisons are always with Cuba as it actually is and some libertarian paradise of a society. A more realistic comparison might be between Cuba and other countries nearby. And then you might start to notice that there are things the Cubans might lose, too. Such as good education and fairly accessible health care. They might end up with a country which looks a lot like that Cuba from the 1950s, with few very rich people and loads of poor people without much hope for improvement. Perhaps that is a better country than the present Cuba. I'm not an expert enough to tell.

But it's never useful to compare some real-world society only to a phantom utopia, without telling us how that utopia might actually be achieved.

The Countries Which Lead

Today is the day for wide-ranging goddess posts. Probably because it is so very humid. In any case, I saved this story about how people all over the world rate various countries, because it woke up one of those humidity-related deep thoughts in me. Here's the summary of the survey:

Anti-American sentiments are on the rise in many parts of the world, driven by concerns that U.S. leaders are prone to act unilaterally and have widened the gap between rich and poor nations, a new international survey found.
At the same time, global attitudes about China have also declined, with residents of many countries expressing concerns about China's growing economic and military power, the survey concluded.
The survey of 45,239 people in 47 countries by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found ``worldwide support'' for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and substantial opposition to U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan.
``There is a question as to whether we are living up to our own values, which is what is making people question what our policies are,'' former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said at a news conference today announcing the poll's findings.
America's image ``has plummeted throughout much of the world'' over the last five years, the center said in its report on the survey, which was conducted April 6 through May 29.
It found ``sharp drops in favorability among traditional allies in Western Europe, as well as substantial declines in Latin America, the Middle East and elsewhere.''

Note that the United States is the greatest military power on earth and that China is the rising economic power. Also the factory of the rest of the world, right now, with minimal quality controls. And neither of these countries currently seems to care about the rest of humanity at all. Both are pursuing quasi-imperialist policies and navel-gazing. Both sound a little militaristic.

The easiest way I can think of this is with the parable of a school class. There are the wealthy kids who might be cool and admired, because they treat others well and offer leadership. Or they might be the class bullies, using their position and wealth to get even more from others while telling them what to do. To me the U.S. and China, too, look a lot more like class bullies right now. That's what the opinions reflect.

I think the world is quite leaderless right now, in the good sense of leadership.

On School Integration and The Supreme Court of the United States

Remember the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision? It argued that racial segregation of schools should be ended, because "separate" is inherently "unequal". One part of the evidence in that case was a sociological study which showed that black children thought white dolls were better and more desirable than black dolls. But most of the evidence was about the enormous inequities of resources between the racially segregated school systems.

Fifty-three years later, the Supreme Court of the United States has made another decision on school integration. Purposeful school integration should be ended because it is discriminatory:

In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools.

The court voted, 5 to 4, to reject diversity plans from Seattle and Louisville, Ky., declaring that the districts had failed to meet "their heavy burden" of justifying "the extreme means they have chosen — discriminating among individual students based on race by relying upon racial classifications in making school assignments," as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court.

Today's decision, one of the most important in years on the issue of race and education, need not entirely eliminate race as a factor in assigning students to different schools, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a separate opinion. But it will surely prompt many districts to review and perhaps revise programs they already have in place, or go back to the drawing boards in designing plans.

The opinion's rationale relied in part on the historic 1954 decision in Brown vs. Board of Education that outlawed segregation in public schools — a factor that the dissenters on the court found to be a cruel irony, and which they objected to in emotional terms.

Guess which Justices were with the majority? Yup:

In the now familiar lineup, Justices Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. sided with the chief justice on most points.

The blogs at the National Review site (a conservative paper) had this to say on the decision:

Today's Supreme Court decision striking down Louisville's and Seattle's race-based student assignment plans will surely lead to much gnashing of teeth, recriminations, and accusations of America slipping back to the era of Jim Crow. Politically correct experts, educators, and advocacy types will express outrage and declare their intent to find a way — any way — to ensure that the remaining handful of white students in urban districts attend schools otherwise populated by black and Hispanic children.

They're wrong. Not because we shouldn't feel guilty that so many of our urban schools are racially isolated. Of course we should. And not because Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of an integrated society isn't compelling. Of course it is. But the surest route to such a society is to help all children achieve academically, prepare for higher education as well as jobs with futures, and enter the great American middle class. Because here's the good news: Middle-class black children living in suburbs are much more likely to attend racially diverse schools than poor black children are. The way forward is through progress — which starts with academic progress. That means shaking up the urban school systems that are producing such abysmal results.

When I read that response and also when I read the initial decision by the SCOTUS I had the same odd experience of parts of my brain separating and floating above me in the clouds. Because of that cloud-cuckoo-land aspect.

First, note that the National Review blog post doesn't tell us how we are going to achieve all the wonderful things we should do with inner-city schools populated predominantly by minority students. Schools are funded mostly from local property taxes, which means that poor areas get poor schools. Whenever a proposal tries to change this, the middle-class parents go into a rebellion. In short, there will be no improvements of urban schools as long as this is how the system works. So all that extra stuff in the blog post is meaningless.

Second, the whole SCOTUS decision smells of ignoring the fact that people of color are, on average, poorer and less powerful. To imply that a system that ignores this is somehow fair and balanced is silly.

Put it this way: If I had a child denied access to my most preferred kindergarten, say, I would have very little trouble taking that imaginary child to another good kindergarten or a private school, and I'm not especially rich. But if I was stuck in a ghetto, with two jobs and little education, the slot in a good kindergarten for my child might be the only chance that child ever gets. Now put the two Echidnes in the story fighting each other in a court system for the same kindergarten slot. The SCOTUS says that the rich Echidne must win if the slot is in her backyard. Because she will be a victim of discrimination otherwise. The poor Echidne can just get a third job to pay for a private kindergarten slot.

A hidden underpinning in this whole discussion is the question what integration was supposed to achieve. Was it better education for minority children? Was it an attempt to reduce racism in the society? An attempt to create a society where all children had equal opportunity? I don't quite see what the recent SCOTUS decision thinks it is achieving, but it's none of these things, for sure.

Yes, I am upset over this ruling. I'm one of those politically correct goddesses, I guess. Or perhaps I just happen to have a heart. I'm also frightened of a racially segregated world. It's not good for anybody's basic security.
Scott Lemieux has a good piece from the legal eagle angle. He also makes a point I forgot to make in this post, which is the fact that this decision rules out most things courts could do to remedy the effects of past discrimination. Such remedies will always have effects on others in the present time. Hence remedying discrimination is...discrimination!

Pointed Words

This New York Times headline is an odd way of framing the conversation Elizabeth Edwards had with Ann Coulter on Hardball the other day:

Ann Coulter's Pointed Remarks Draw Edwardses' Pointed Reply

I know that the headline is most likely not written by Nagourney. But it's an odd headline to pick, because it somehow equalizes the remarks on the two sides. Yet if you watched the video of the encounter you can tell that Coulter was just being rude whereas Edwards tried to discuss actual topics. And what John Edwards said later on wasn't rude, either.

One reason why I don't like the "he-said-she-said" distortion of objectivity is shown in this example. It replaces objectivity with balance and the balance can be a false one. It's fine to give both sides of an argument. But to imply that the two sides are equally weighty is often wrong.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The FBI And Graduate Students Working Late

Via No Capital:

THE FBI IS visiting the nation's top technical universities in a bid to stop students taking their holidays outside the country.

MIT, Boston College, and the University of Massachusetts, have all had a visit from the spooks to warn them about the dangers of foreign spies and terrorists stealing sensitive academic research.

The FBI wants the universities to impose rules that will stop US university students from working late at the campus, travelling abroad, showing an interest in their colleagues' work, or have friends outside the United States, engaging in independent research, or making extra money without the prior consent of the authorities.

If this is true it shows that the FBI doesn't have anyone working for them who used to be a graduate student. Working late at the campus is what 99.9% of graduate students do. That's how you work. And not to show an interest in the colleagues' work! How are you going to network so that you will one day get a job?

This sounds paranoid to me. Maybe it isn't true.

Added: The original source seems to be this one. Hard to know if the Inquirer take above is correct or not. Thanks for the conversation on Eschaton for this link.

Added even later: Trademark dave on Eschaton linked to the actual FBI instructions(pdf). Remember that this is all about nonclassified research. The FBI document does warn about keeping unusual working hours, for example. But late night hours are actually not unusual, as I stated.

Some Good News

It makes me feel weird to write about good news from our side, but they do happen and I must pay more attention to them lest I push all of you over that high ledge.

Remember the post about the committee planning to raise the money spent on abstinence-only education, even though the well-done studies show that it doesn't work? The good news about that is that the committee reversed some of that. From an e-mail from ACLU on June 21:

The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Senate
Appropriations Committee's decision to cut funding for the Community Based Abstinence
Education (CBAE) program and raise funding for the family planning program Title X. In a
markup Tuesday, subcommittee members voted to decrease CBAE by $28 million and increase
Title X by $16 million, a move the full committee ratified today.

That makes more sense, too.

The other piece of good news has to do with the recent Supreme Court finding that individuals (in this case women) who have suffered from wage discrimination have only a few months to sue:

On June 22, 2007, Representative George Miller (D-Calif.) and 23 other House co-sponsors introduced H.R. 2831, the "Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007," a bill aimed at fixing a recent Supreme Court decision undermining protections against wage discrimination that have been bedrock principles of civil rights laws for decades.


H.R. 2831, which addresses wage disparity based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability clarifies that such discrimination is not a one-time occurrence that starts and ends with the first paycheck, but that each paycheck represents ongoing discrimination by the employer. This bill reaffirms the fundamental principle that our civil rights protections are intended to have a broad remedial purpose – to addres and correct injuries suffered because of unlawful employment discrimination.

It might not work, of course, but it's important that the bill is introduced.

A correction to the last item. The bill is H.R. 2831: The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
of 2007 and is now available at

To Eat A Peach. Or Fruit Erotica

There it sits, nestled in your warm hand, glowing with that internal peach glow. See the fuzzy fur? Will it tickle your lips? Notice the blushing cheeks and the hint of a cleavage between them?

Lift the golden globule slowly to your nose and inhale. What IS that scent? Come-hither? Does it remind you of cardamom and sandalwood and hot tropical nights in far-away places?

Now bite into the peach. Go on, use your teeth but gently. The peach will resist, ever so slightly and then it will burst with flavor. The waves of taste will spread and spread and spread, recede and spread again. Have another bite. And another. Feel the peach with your tongue and let it feel you. The juice! It runs down your neck and down your fingers like a perfume from a forbidden paradise.

And you will end up all sticky.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What Religious Rights Really Mean

For some people in this Christian country. Via Hecate:

Rita Moran is the Chair of the Kennebeck County Democratic Committee in Maine. She runs a local bookstore, Apple Valley Books, that sells Pagan books, including books related to Pagan parenting, a popular topic among Pagans, most of whom converted to Paganism as adults and are now having families that they want to raise in their religion. Moran is also a member of the Immanent Grove, a gnostic circle.

A group that goes by what I consider to be the un-American name The Christian Civic League has put up a web page with information about Moran's political position and her religious beliefs, including the terrifying fact that she sells books for Pagan parents. The Christian Civic League helpfully provides lots of contact information, including Moran's address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. We all know the purpose of that.

Note that the Christian Civic League is attacking someone for the religion she has and posting information in a way which could be viewed as menacing. If atheists were doing this to Christians, we'd rightly hear complaints about oppressing the faithful. This case is no different. Should you wish to help, check out Hecate's original post for ways.

Accolades for a Murderer

Suppose that you find that a man has strapped his wife's legs together and then asphyxiated her. Suppose that the following day he asphyxiates his young son and that he then kills himself. Suppose that the man was a famous wrestler (of the pretend-type). What would be the proper media response to the events? It seems to be this:

After learning of what occurred, the WWE canceled its live Monday Night RAW, and USA Network aired a three-hour tribute to Benoit in lieu of the scheduled wrestling telecast.

"WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family's relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy," the federation posted in a statement on its Web site.

Read the whole article. It stops just one inch from asking what the wife could have done to anger the poor guy so that he ended up killing his seven-year old son.

Bread And Circuses

The Romans knew that if you give people enough food and enough entertainment they are much less likely to rebel. Too bad about the Barbarians and the Vandals and so on. Today they wouldn't be much of a problem as we have television, and the Romans could have beamed the goodies all over the European continent. Imagine all the Huns (my people!) watching diet programs and ads for the latest in war gear! I'm not sure what would have taken the place of "missing white women" but I'm sure the Roman impresarios would have thought of something.

These are the thoughts that came to my mind when I read that Glenn Beck will guest host for Paula Zahn on CNN's Paula Zahn Now. I wonder if he will eat a rat on teevee? That would be the next logical step in the politics-as-entertainment trend that is so obvious in lots of television. Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck in our living rooms. Next: eating poop and live rats?
Added later. Elizabeth Edwards called in to the Hardball show in which Ann Coulter was the main course. Here is the video of the conversation they had, if you have stomach for it. The point Edwards makes is a very important one, though.

Those Activist Judges...

It's one of the wingnuts' phrases, to call judges activist when they rule in a way the wingnuts don't like. Well, let's see how the new passivist conservative judges do:

In a series of 5 to 4 decisions, the United States Supreme Court today veered sharply to the right. The Court voted along strict ideological lines to side with the Bush administration in deciding four contentious, high-profile cases.

The four cases ran the jurisprudential gamut. They included challenges to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, the Endangered Species Act, and taxpayer-funded faith-based initiatives, as well as a free speech case involving an Alaskan student who waved a sign reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" in front of television cameras during an Olympic ceremony. In the end, the Court opened loopholes in McCain-Feingold and in the Endangered Species Act, dismissed a suit objecting to publicly-funded religious programs, and upheld the suspension of the Alaskan student.

In all four cases, the majority consisted of the same conservative bloc and the minority of the Court's left wing. The conservative majority in all four cases included Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and the two Bush appointees, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer dissented.

Note that freedom of speech is important for electoral campaigns but not for students in schools.

I'm not a lawyering goddess, but even I can see that a lot of interesting information can be derived from these decisions simply by asking: "Qui Bono?" Or "Who Benefits?"

Because all these decisions benefit the Republican party. Odd, this passivist judging.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Today's Action Alert

Also today's humorous moment if you have a dark and sour sense of humor. The PBS is going to have Frank Luntz as the commentator on the next debate between Democratic candidates for the presidency. Now, Luntz is the creator of most wingnut memes (death tax for federal inheritance tax of the very wealthy, say, or the Clear Skies Initiative for pollution-producing policies). He is a dyed-in-the-wool wingnut, and to present him as a neutral analyst stinks to high heavens. See how funny it is, in the sense of the hollow laughter of zombies and those doomed to live in an upside-down world?

If you're not quite there yet, you can complain to the PBS here and to the Tavis Smiley show here. You can inform your friends about the problem at this site.

Chris Matthews on Ann Coulter

Watch the video at Think Progress. It tells us, in Tweety's own words, that Ann Coulter will be the honored guest on Hardball tomorrow. You might also notice, as I did, that Matthews describes Coulter as "dressed for success" in that black cocktail frock.

Tweety has a problem with women the size of Mount Everest. But Coulter's presence on Hardball is not explicable by just his desire to see a sleeveless mini-dress as the way women dress for success. Note that last time Coulter was on Hardball (in 2006) she called Al Gore a "total fag". But, according to Tweety, she sells books and that is enough of a reason to have her on.

I'd really love to know who pays for those books she sells.

A Marine Tutorial on Speech

This article in the New York Times is worth reading. It shows how the marines are taught to speak to the press in cases of, say, murder accusations.

Murders Worthy Of Attention

All murders are horrible. But I can't help noticing that certain murders are seen as more newsworthy than other murders. Compare this murder and the publicity it has attracted:

The boyfriend of a missing pregnant woman was arrested on two counts of murder charges Saturday, and a body believed to be hers was found nearly a week after she vanished from her home, authorities said.

To these murders and the publicity they have attracted:

A suburban Chicago man found shot near the bodies of his wife and their three children in the family sport utility vehicle earlier this month was charged Saturday in their shooting deaths.

The former is familiar to most of you if you live in the United States and watch television. The latter got a lot less attention, despite the fact that many more people were killed. What caused the difference?

I leave that for you to figure out, although I have my own theories.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


(Something apolitical for Sunday: a garden essay. Well, as apolitical as I can be. The picture is of my ex-lawn last year. Heh.)

Gardeners fall neatly into two political parties: those who love lawns and those who see them as vacant space for more "real" gardening. I am a card-carrying member of the latter party. If I had my way, no lot would have a single non-ornamental blade of grass.

Given my political views, it should come as no surprise that I find lawn fanatics curious people. They spend time, money and water encouraging grass to grow. The minute it obeys, out comes the lawn mower. The process is then restarted. Lawn lovers continually fret over the turf and keep looking for solutions to improve it. It never seems to occur to them that cutting a plant's head off every seven days or so weakens it and may even cause it to lose the will to live. This is what creates most of the problems lawns experience: lawns don't want to be lawns; they want to be tall hayfields swaying in the wind, preferably with lots of other plants thrown in.

But lawn fanatics, and some city ordinances, don't let them fulfill this destiny. Not only is the natural process stunted but often the poor grass is expected to survive on infrequent high-calorie snacks of inorganic fertilizers. All dying vegetation (including grass clippings) is neatly removed so that the lawn never gets a decent meal. And when it throws in the towel, the lawn-obsessed turn to the myriad chemical remedies available in all garden centers. But none of them will work for long, for lawns are an aberration against nature; an aberration which may be successfully maintained in none but a few climatically favored (i.e. rainy) areas. Elsewhere keeping a lawn going is a task suited only to wealthy masochists.

Am I biased against lawns, you might ask. Of course. But I do admit that grass has its place in sports fields and perhaps also as a ground for sunbathing and picnicking; and if it required no upkeep it would even serve as a pleasant green frame for other plantings. I even admit that all gardening is an aberration against nature in that gardeners attempt to slow down nature's plans of making the garden into whatever ecoscape would take its place without human intervention.

But in most cases the natural process we tamper with would take longer than a few days, whereas a lawn unattended for a week's vacation is already well on its way to its natural destination. In fact, it sometimes seems that this is true for a lawn unattended for just an hour

This is my major objection to lawns. They require too large a chunk of gardening time in exchange for barely looking average. And I don't enjoy time spent caring for grass. Perhaps the lawn-obsessed do. If so, how come none of them has offered to take over the upkeep of my lawn?

Me Opinionating in the Dallas Morning News

Thanks to trifecta in the comments, I learned that my earlier TAP piece on research into gender roles is now available in the Dead Tree Press, too. So you can read it again. Or the first time should you have somehow missed it. The reprint doesn't have the links of the original piece, so some of the argument is weakened if you don't check the original, too.