Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar header image 2

Entries Tagged as 'Editorial'

Wonderful world

March 7th, 2014 · Comments Off on Wonderful world

What a Wonderful World, sung by Eva Cassidy
When I listen to Eva Cassidy, already diagnosed with the metastatic cancer that would be killing her, singing at her final concert “What a Wonderful World,” my tears are not so much, or at least not only for young Eva Cassidy, but for all of us, so ready to love and create and be generous (if our early lives don’t take those hopes out of our hearts) but instead shunted off into harder and lesser and more painful lives than our childhoods imagined. And even then, our hearts keep hoping and dreaming of love and fulfillment. They keep looking for chances to give joy to people we love.

I have to say, if I were god, it would never in ten million years occur to me to create any hell to punish my people. Instead, my heart would be breaking daily to witness their courage, their generosity, their imagination. Instead of plotting dark hells for the people who did not worship me in exactly the right way, I would be knocking myself out to figure out how my god-powers could be used to stop suffering and to make people more kind and more joyful. But of course, this is me, Betsy, oldest of four children, who can advise even gods! (I still think I’m right though.)

Tags: Editorial · Good versus Evil · religion · Sister Age · Wide wonderful world

Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

December 27th, 2012 · Comments Off on Cancer Treatment Centers of America, aka FreedomWorks funder

Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans by betsythedevine
Last-minute mailer from NH Republicans, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Following up on TPM story about scary gun-toting Tea Party meltdown of entiitled-rich-guy vs entiitled-rich-guy that was solved by an infusion of million$ to buy Dick Armey out as the power behind “grassroots” Tea Party group FreedomWorks. I was curious about where those millions of cash came from…

Dick Stephenson runs Cancer Treatment Centers of America. If you google for reviews of their centers you find similar comments from AZ and IL. Their target customer seems to be someone with terminal cancer and a boatload of medical insurance.

There is a business model suggested here, very intriguing and hypothetically very profitable. If your insurance company sold you a policy that has a limit of 1 million dollars on it, they really don’t expect you to spend those all before dying. Few patients do. But now, enter from offstage left, a savvy corporation dedicated to getting paid every single dollar your insurance said you could get. So sad for the insurance company’s expectation the insurance-buyer would be too naive and incompetent to collect the insurance they were promised … so profitable for somebody like Richard J. Stephenson, who now has millions and millions in profits to spend to push US election results his way …

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

November 7th, 2012 · Comments Off on The Christmas tree, the pooping dinosaur, and the #slutvote

"On Vacation" sign accuses Obama of neglecting national security

Amateur anti-Obama sign says “On Vacation/Out to Lunch/Playing golf, basketball, pool, cards, etc/No time for National Security/I’ve got important business to do/The View, David Letterman, McDonalds …”

Wedge issues and election “red meat” filled the airwaves in 2012. The GOP paid millions of dollars to conmen to rile up their “base” to the point where they turned off many people who might otherwise have voted Republican.

You can’t stir up your base to a hot lather of racist fantasy and then expect them to shut up about it. Your supporters will support you in their own language, and unaligned people who hear them are going to shudder to hear our President denounced as lazy, or as a baby killer, or as the “Butcher of Benghazi.”

When I was in first grade, I loved to draw pictures on my dad’s old shirt cardboards from the dry cleaner. These had a shiny white side, ideal for crayon coloring, and a dull gray side, useful for sketching out ideas. The best drawing I ever made was a Crayola Christmas tree, on the shiny side, loaded with bright red balls and yellow stars. I proudly brought it to school to show off to my teacher and was mortified when she asked me, “Betsy, what have you drawn on the other side?”

What I had sketched on the gray side was a stegosaurus — no problem, except that, dissatisfied with what I had done, I had editorially crossed him out and then added poop to his tail end and throw-up from his mouth. It had not occurred to me that when I asked my teacher to look at my Christmas tree she would also catch sight of my very embarrassing dinosaur.

The GOP/Karl Rove/PAC wise men created a myriad of pooping dinosaurs from partisans that they whipped up to furious anger against Obama. In a world of social media and cellphone cameras, those pooping dinosaurs will never again be invisible. The GOP needs an infuriated angry base much less than it needs a lot more intelligent un-hating voters who just want to see our country on the right path. Because my pooping dinosaur was never as embarrassing as the #slutvote diatribe recently posted by the Christian Men’s Defense Network.

Changing their ultra-divisive campaign tactics would also be a lot better for our country.

Text clipped from #slutvote blogpost

Part of blogpost by Christian Men’s Defense Network blaming Romney’s loss on the “slut vote”

Tags: Editorial · politics

Cupcake with MBA ingredients

March 30th, 2010 · Comments Off on Cupcake with MBA ingredients

Cupcake nouveau

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

The economics of the cupcake revolution are visible here. Not one, not two, but four or five levels of promise that the cupcake is fancy and loaded with sugar and fat in plentiful abundance.

But this is not a traditional bakery product. The skilled cook who has learned to apply smooth buttercream strokes and ornate decoration is no longer needed. Much lower-waged workers can be hired to apply the poured fondant icing, fat smear of frosting whose imperfections are well concealed by sprinkles, and topped with a candy easily mass-produced.

Perhaps the most cynical thing on the entire cupcake is the retro funk message of its peace symbol. “This cupcake was created by cool people who are just like you!”

Tags: Editorial · food · Wide wonderful world

“You have already succeeded.” Granny D Haddock of NH (1910 – 2010)

March 16th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Granny D

Originally uploaded by aahsa

“Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you’ll not succeed. You have already succeeded if you’re out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love. You already have your victory because you have changed the world; you have changed the status quo by you; you have changed the chemistry of things and changes will spread from you, will be easier to happen again in others because of you, because, believe it or not, you are the center of the world.”
Granny D, 14 May 1999

She walked across the USA at the age of 90 to promote campaign finance reform. At 94, she ran for the US Senate and gave Judd Gregg one heckuva run for his money — an indie film “Run Granny Run” resulted and can be watched on the interwebs.

She started her career as an activist rather late in life (!) and achieved a great deal in the mere ten years she gave to it. Thank you, Granny D, for the inspiration. A real New Hampshire icon has now left our planet. My thanks to Dean Barker and others at for so many inspirational quotes from Granny.

“Don’t walk away because you are confused or because it is difficult. We have entered an amazing time, when each of us has an important role to play. That time is now. It is the best time ever to be alive on this earth, because everyone matters. Everyone is needed if we are to survive. Your creativity, your love, your courage–all of it. As the smoke of battle swirls around you, smile. It is a privilege to be alive in such a time.”
Doris “Granny D” Haddock, 19 April 2002

Tags: Editorial · New Hampshire! · Sister Age · Wide wonderful world

The blind leading the Democrats

February 7th, 2010 · Comments Off on The blind leading the Democrats

Snow-covered lion on Columbia campus

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

“Not one dime! Not until Democrats pass healthcare.”

That is what DNC fundraisers who call our house are going to hear from now on.

The hacks and jackasses in Washington who took over the Democratic National Committee from Howard Dean have taken us right back to their old election-losing “centrist” techniques. Under Dean’s leadership, we witnessed the landslide election of Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. All that advantage has been nearly frittered away.

Obama has spent the past year trying to engage Republicans in bipartisan governance. It’s been like a year of watching Charlie Brown trying to kick a football with Lucy’s “assistance.”

And when Massachusetts voters, one year after Obama’s landslide victory, re-fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat with a Republican? Surely something is very, very wrong. Let me just quote Howard Dean on what that something is:

If you want to win, you actually can’t sort of move to the middle and become a Republican. You’ve got to stand up and stand for the things that you got elected on and that the Democratic Party believes in and we haven’t seen that in the healthcare bill and I think that’s part of the problem.

The smartest thing Obama could do now, in my unhumble opinion, would be to beg Howard Dean to come back and run the DNC.

Update: Somebody on Daily Kos had a great suggestion about this issue: Make your own list of good progressive candidates. When you get particularly annoyed about something political, make that the occasion to send a donation to the next person on your own list.

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

Why does my desk not already look like this?

December 6th, 2009 · Comments Off on Why does my desk not already look like this?

Mmm computer displays to dream on 3

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

I have seen the future and it is CERN.

The only reason our desks don’t all look like this right now is that you, yes you, haven’t yet realized how much you want this, and therefore computer and software manufacturers have not yet started to make it easy to get.

Brains are not computers and we have “evolved” our computers to supplement the places where we really need extra help — memory storage and processing, collaboration, number crunching, and visualizing stuff.

The trouble is that, because computer monitor square-footage has been very expensive in the past, we are used to short-changing ourselves on visualization. Instead of getting the full shiny benefit of all the ways our computer CAN help us think, plan, and imagine, we are resigned to the time-consuming hackage of layered or tiled windows cluttering up our lone monitor.

Old computers and old monitors are very cheap; it would be easy to maker-fy several onto the wall behind your desk for simultaneous and useful display.

But wouldn’t this create a problem, I hear you asking, with “continuous partial attention“?

Au contraire! — as the seasick Frenchman said, when asked if he wanted to eat. By keeping our very own plans and obsessions and interests on view, we would compete more successfully for our own brainspace against the binging and buzzing of multi-interruption.

What would you keep on your own five new computer screens? I am also mentally giving you a free sixth one, where you actually work on the stuff you do now.

Tags: Editorial · Science · Wide wonderful world

Nabokov and the Krakow Jewish district

July 21st, 2009 · 1 Comment

Ready for inspiration to strike

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

There is something magical about musicians in concert spaces before they perform. Years of aspiration and perfecting skill, weeks of practice with friends (and perhaps enemies) — in just moments now, one more wonderful chance for their public fruition.

Last night’s concert featured two works by Mieczysław Karłowicz, a string serenade and a violin concerto, followed by Beethoven’s Pastorale symphony (#6).

I had never heard Karlowicz’s music performed before and am glad I discovered it–not least because we share a December 11 birthday. Krakow’s St Catherine Church is a wonderfully high-arched space for listening to music augmented by the occasional twittering of its few sparrows.

This huge Gothic church sits in Krakow’s former Jewish district Kazimierz, brutally emptied by Nazis, now serving up platefuls of carp and earfuls of klezmer nightly in restaurants like Ariel and Klezmer Hois.

Vladimir Nabokov said of “articulate art,” but could also have said of music or science or any fine human endeavor, that it is a “melancholy and very local palliative.” There is something melancholy about musicians after a concert, even one that ends with a standing ovation, as last night’s performance by Capella Cracoviensis deservedly did.

Tags: Editorial · Travel · Wide wonderful world

The new and improved Big-Mac-Fat-Duck index

April 5th, 2009 · Comments Off on The new and improved Big-Mac-Fat-Duck index


Originally uploaded by uuuuuli

Four Big Macs per hour.

That’s what the average Dutch worker earns — although the Dutch 17 year-old working at McDonalds earns a mere 1.05 Big Macs per hour.

Yes, the Big Mac Index (and its more elite rival, the Tall Latte Index) are semi-serious efforts to match wages to cost of living in different countries.

Why not expand this to comparing cost of living across the lines of social class. Conservatives are outraged that US auto workers can earn 10 Big Macs per hour, but they seem quite content that GM executives get $3M to $14M per year.

This makes perfect sense, however, because GM executives do not eat Big Macs. The relevant point of comparison should be something like dinner for one at Oxford’s Fat Duck restaurant, which costs $170.

The Big-Mac-Fat-Duck Index requires, then, paying the GM executive at least $1,700 per hour. If a GM executive puts in 50 weeks per year at 40 hours per week, that is 2,000 highly valuable executive hours they should expect to get fair pay for, which works out to at least $3.4M per year.

And this does not even count beverage, tip, or air fare from Detroit to the UK!

The executives who get even more than that are no doubt eating meals somewhere even more expensive.

Tags: Editorial · politics · Wide wonderful world

Harvard unfair to torrid sea vixen, others

February 27th, 2009 · Comments Off on Harvard unfair to torrid sea vixen, others

Harvard unfair to torrid sea vixen, others

Harvard unfair to torrid sea vixen, others

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Dear Harvard,

Why have you locked up A Sea-Spell? Where are you hiding The Blessed Damozel? You own but are not displaying two of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s best and most famous paintings.

I understand that wall space is scarce with the Fogg Museum closed, but there is no excuse for keeping these two off display when you are devoting a room in your "pre-1900 western art" space to truly horrible "art" by somebody who wasn’t even born until the 1960s.

The Blessed Damozel isn’t happy and neither am I!

Yours sincerely,
Betsy Devine

Tags: Blogroll · Cambridge · E.B. White: How does he do it? · Editorial · Wide wonderful world