Wednesday, November 04, 2009

WTF Wednesday 1: Today In Politics

I'm not an angry person. Really. I prefer to believe that the world is fascinating and that people are good and that decency will prevail. Most of the time, I'm right. Sometimes, however... well, take a look for yourself.

The first news article that made me holler WTF this Wednesday concerns the recent layoffs at the Oak Brook library, but is really more about the way one lawyer is relishing making children cry. "Connie" Xinos, a homeowner's association president and Oak Brook resident, shot down an eleven-year-old girl who spoke in the library's defense at a village board meeting, telling her to "put her money where her mouth is" and that "I don't care that you guys miss the librarian, and that she was nice, and that she helped you find books." After the eleven-year-old was reduced to tears, Oak Brook's answer to Henry Potter gloated about his victory. " "I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," a grinning Xinos [said] Wednesday, as he [invited] me for a nearly two-hour interview in his Mercedes-Benz in the gated Oak Brook community where he lives." People, what is wrong with that sentence? I almost expected to hear that Xinos had to kick the reporter out of his car after those two hours because he was late for his weekly puppy-kicking session.

Since Oak Brook has no property tax, the library is funded by sales taxes at the mall and area businesses. With buying going down, the Xinos-approved solution was to fire three of the full-time librarians (including the children's and head librarian) and several part-timers. To me, the addition of a minimal property tax to keep the library staffed and funded is a priority only slightly below maintaining emergency services-- as several commenters pointed out, where do you think the firemen get study materials and where do they take their qualifying tests? No sleep lost for Xinos, though-- as he said, "Don't cry crocodile tears about people who are making $100,000 a year wiping tables and putting the books back on the shelves." And this-- this is what really bothers me.

First of all, library science is a complicated and demanding field. Libraries provide scads of services that go way beyond table-wiping and book-shelving. A librarian with education and experience meriting that salary level has, I'm sure, as much time, training, and expertise in his or her field as a lawyer like Xinos. How many lawyers in his position make less than $100k a year? Yeah, that's right, I thought so.

If it were just Ebenezer Xinos and his Leave No Child Not Crying push, that'd be one thing. This seems to be symptomatic of a much larger and more infuriating problem, though--the devaluation of education, research, and academic pursuits in our country. I'm talking about Rush Limbaugh scoffing at funding going to "study the sex lives of female college freshmen" (actually part of a study on women's health.) I'm talking about McCain belittling Obama's requested equipment for the Adler Planetarium as "a $3 million overhead projector." I'm talking about all the people who respond to linguistics, philosophy, literature majors with condescension, mockery, or pity. I'm talking about George W. Bush's attempts to insult John Kerry by making him out to be an intellectual, and about the fact that they worked.

Is this a fitting product of our cultural heritage? Is this all we can expect of the nation which put a man on the moon, whose citizens invented the telephone, the lightbulb, the Tesla coil, the airplane, the EEG, the computer, the particle accelerator? Is this the message we want to send to our eleven-year-olds, weeping or otherwise? This rejection of all things intellectual is unworthy of us as a country with a reputation for innovation and opportunity, and in my opinion it ought to bring us down in the eyes of all who value curiosity, creativity, and human dignity. Our ability to express, to speculate, to ask the hard questions and fight tirelessly for answers is what sets us apart as a species. If we start to undermine these things for the sake of profit or political gain, we are all diminished.

And that's not even mentioning how mad I am about Bob McDonnell, the repeal of the Maine gay marriage ruling, and the parental notification law. They'll have to wait until next Wednesday, I suppose. Until then, GO GO GO, Washington Ref. 71. You're my only hope.

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Posted by Silent Five @ 8:28 PM

Read or Post a Comment

The Seattle PI says 71 is likely to "squeak through"; hopefully it will. Virginia and New Jersey suck, and Maine sucks even more. But at least the right-wing gambit failed in NY-23--for which I'm very glad, as I had begun to see an ideological version of Helter Skelter in our near future.

I agree with your sentiment--America being anti-intelligence and anti-intellectual doesn't make since given its history. I'm just waiting for the pro-reform forces holding elected office to properly grow a pair and step up to the plate with the rest of us. Their silence on many issues is deafening, and their constant waffling is highly disturbing.

On a different note, I caught a reference I couldn't trace in this phrase: "Oak Brook's answer to John Potter". To what does this refer?

Posted by Blogger als4bsds @ 11:58 PM #

It refers to my getting Mr. Potter from It's A Wonderful Life's name wrong. It should be Henry Potter. Sorry!

Posted by Blogger Silent Five @ 5:07 AM #

Xinos: it's hard to tell whether or not people like him (on the left or the right) are being serious or not. Their expounded beliefs are so insane that you have to wonder if they are being serious.

Apparently, they mean it. I don't even know where to begin. People who are this selfish are petty and bereft of thoughtfulness. (This is the sin of all sins in my mind.)

Posted by Blogger dws @ 5:05 PM #
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Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

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This is all in no way meant to incur copyright-infringement-related wrath. I'm harmless. I promise. Oh, and if you're offended by anything I may post herein, I guarantee I didn't mean to do so (unless, of course, you are a humorless prig. In which case, go right on and be offended, with my blessings.)