Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Confidence and Marshmallows

I have a huge, fluffy dog who has decided that his mission in life is to be next to me at all times. Wherever I walk, his head is glued to my hip (that's how tall he is). If I leave the room--even if he was just, a split second ago, sleeping soundly--he will follow. If I close the bathroom door, he lies down in wait just outside, never moving, even when the door opens and I try to push him gently away so that I can get out.

I have another dog, too, but she does her own thing (which is mainly sleeping). 

My big dog has long, wavy reddish hair (which is lovely), and the floppiest ears you ever saw. These ears are constantly getting infected (which is disgusting). I try to clean his ears at least once a week, but my dog, at those times, actually does leave my side and tries to get away. 

I don't want to hurt him, so despite the fact that I have to clean his ears, I usually just let him go.

But he needs them cleaned--and so today, I took him to the vet. The vet techs cleaned his ears so thoroughly I had to wince. My dog just stood there and took it, and I wondered how they could clean his ears, but I couldn't.

"Confidence," the vet said. "See Katie, our tech here? She just has this confidence. She sits right down and doesn't even consider for a second that the dog isn't going to let her do her job. You must be exhaling worry or something--and the dog can literally smell it. That makes him nervous, and so he bolts, even though you're trying to help him."

So I learned that today. I also learned that it helps to have marshmallows--the big, fluffy kind for my big, fluffy dog. I am not making this up about the marshmallows--and despite the wholistic, organic diet I feed my dog, the VET suggested the marshmallows.

"But he only gets a marshmallow after you clean his ears. Pretty soon, that guy will be carrying the bottle of ear medicine over to you, just so he can get a marshmallow," the vet said. I smiled, but I thought this was a slightly over-confident statement.


One thing I haven't been feeling all that confident about lately is my ability to make satisfying sense of the WikiLeaks stories.  At first, I just thought WikiLeaks was not a very catchy or cool name for a "news" source. Then, I wondered what Julian Assange's deal was. Then, I started to think, hmm. This is an interesting case. That Julian Assange is an interesting guy, making us all wonder what, exactly, he is up to. Is he just an incredibly smart, bored guy who wants to see what he can unearth? What is his true agenda?

Should I believe Assange's Op-Ed in The Australian, wherein he explains that he is performing a public service, especially as regards the wars? (Wars I hate; I hate those pointless wars; I hold nothing against members of our military, but I think it's awful that Americans and countless civilians have died so needlessly...and for what? What have we accomplished? I believe we were lied to, all of us, and that is not acceptable. The purported reasons for the wars were fabricated; war profiteers such as Halliburton have benefited, but who else has? Think about that).

Assange wrote that Americans deserve to know the truth; if we had known the whole truth in the case of the wars Bush got us into, the wars would not have been "sold" so easily to us. (And, as I note, maybe now we wouldn't be in such a financial hole, and stuck in a hopeless quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

I can get on Assange's side about that. Many others are doing the same, I noticed. It is, right now, pretty cool to back Assange. The only people who aren't backing him, it seems, are the ones who were embarrassed that he had them pegged, through his cables (and yet, even Hillary Clinton made a great joke about WikiLeaks, and I truly admire her for that; it's not as if, however, I ever thought for a second that back-room deals weren't being made, that diplomacy wasn't incredibly complicated. Nothing surprises me here. Nothing. What did Assange do wrong?).

Some have come out swinging against The New York Times, instead, for daring to disseminate the leaks, albeit in a digested, translated, well explained form.  I believe Joe Lieberman (Lieberman! Don't get me started) termed this possible "treason."

As much as I believe Al Gore would have been a very good president, I am glad we didn't have to deal with Lieberman...I feel as though he always tries to butter his bread on both sides, and that is so slimy. That's just ridiculous. Pick a side, Joe. Whose team are you on?

I hold nothing against the Gray Lady, either. I respect the Times. But hey: I consider myself a New Yorker, so there's that. You'll never get me to say anything bad about the Times, probably, or New York, which is definitely, without a doubt, the greatest city on earth.

We DO deserve to know the truth. I have been against secrets and lies (as Assange says he is) for decades, at this point (again, don't get me started--though I take exception to Assange quoting Rupert Murdoch about truth prevailing. That's a huge laugh. This from the man who inflicted Faux News and the new and increasingly repugnant WSJ upon the world). I will continue to think, however, that secrets and lies are poisonous, in all circumstances. 

If people know the truth, then they won't allow themselves to get fooled again. Knowledge is power. Knowledge helps us protect ourselves.

Good luck, Mr. Assange. I read somewhere that you seem paranoid, but I take that with a helping of salt. Usually, the paranoid have a reason to be paranoid. Everyone who has something worth sharing, something valuable, is usually paranoid at some point. It just means you're alert, and you're thinking ahead--good lessons in every respect.


  1. Am I paranoid, or does everything you say have a double or triple meaning?

  2. Do you have a reason to be paranoid? If you do, then you aren't paranoid, just realistic.

    I just made a typo and deleted my first response (which was essentially the same as this one). I had to laugh, thinking about that how seeing "this post was deleted by the author" would probably increase paranoia.

    Hang in there,


  3. My knee-jerk reaction is to support Wikileaks, but I'm not sure yet. I guess I'm a little paranoid.

    And the Times, which I, too, respect, ran a piece of pure propaganda about education yesterday. Comparing Shanghai scores with the US is crazy. How would Shanghai do against Boston? That would be a fair comparison. How would New York do against China as a whole?

  4. I know. The WikiLeaks story is really complicated and hard to figure out. All we can do right now is have knee-jerk reactions, I guess--until we get more of the story.

    Any stories about education, I think, tend to be propaganda (and shame on the Times if they added to this, but the only people speaking out who are getting attention are the pols who cry out for firing teachers, as if that will bring up test scores). I will have to look at the piece you mention.

    Thanks for reading, Carter.



  5. Here's URL for that Times story:

    They weasel, but it's still nonsense.

  6. Hmm. Thanks for the link. I read it, and on the one hand, quotes are from Arne Duncan (!), who is all for even-more-rampant standardized testing, it seems, and punishing teachers for their students' scores, if they're not fabulous. That's not fair; that's more crazy talk. The problem with American students is that our elementary ed, is--in my opinion--not rigorous enough. In some places, it's fine, but I always think it could and should be more rigorous. And American kids can be pretty darn lazy. Chinese students are study machines. American kids could certainly learn from their example, so if there's been a "Sputnik moment," so be it. I don't think, however, that more focus on math and science is the perpetual solution. Basic cultural (and humanistic) literacy--by way of reading and discussing literature and its connetion to life--is what we are most lacking, I think.