Archive for November, 2010

Gossip Time is Over

Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen. Photo: The CW Television Network.

No, this isn’t about gossip from WikiLeaks. It’s about something almost equally important, at least to some of us: Tonight’s episode of “Gossip Girl.”

In last week’s episode, Juliet drugged and kidnapped Serena after turning all her friends and family against her.

This week, we found out that while Serena was unconscious, Juliet threw her on a bed in a cheap motel in Queens. Then she forced pills and vodka down Serena’s throat to make it look like she had tried to commit suicide. Fortunately, Serena didn’t die from the overdose. When she woke up, she called 911 for help and ended up in the hospital.

When Lily, Rufus, and the rest got to the hospital, Serena’s doctor recommended confining her to the same psychiatric clinic that had treated her brother Eric when he tried to commit suicide a few years ago. Naturally, Lily didn’t even bother to talk to Serena before agreeing. Lily really is an idiot. I’m sorry, but she is.

So off went Serena to be locked up in the crazyhouse.

Dan’s sister Jenny had helped Juliet turn everyone against Serena. However, Jenny had an attack of conscience. She told both Rufus and Blair what really happened.

Rufus, who caught a case of the stupids from Lily, naturally didn’t listen to Jenny. But Blair did. And she told Dan. They decided to go after Juliet, who had left the city and disappeared.

The time for gossip is over. Now, the agenda is revenge. Or justice. As far as Juliet is concerned, either is fine with me.

P.S. Okay, I don’t endorse revenge. It was late when I wrote that. But Juliet is pretty bad.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

The Rights and Wrongs of WikiLeaks

Diplomacy sometimes requires secrecy and hypocrisy. Photo: The New York Times.

I started to write something about WikiLeaks when I got back to school last night after Thanksgiving recess, but I was too tired from the trip to finish it. Sorry. Here it is.

WikiLeaks publishes confidential documents it receives from whistleblowers in government and corporations. Naturally, governments and corporations want to keep the documents secret.

Sometimes, secrecy is a good thing. It means that people can give their honest opinions without being afraid that what they said will end up on cable news or in The New York Times.

Just as often, though, governments and corporations use secrecy to cover up crimes and keep the public from learning what it needs to know.

During last spring’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the BP oil company tightly controlled what information people could get about the spill. It kept most of the information secret, even hiding a lot of it from the Obama administration, Congress, and the EPA. That fact was discovered later.

The U.S. government tried to keep secret the fact that soldiers, contractors, and intelligence agents had tortured and even killed prisoners in Iraq. It also tried to keep secret the fact that soldiers and helicopters had shot unarmed civilians, including reporters.

WikiLeaks’ latest release of documents seems to mix important information (such as U.S. spying on U.N. diplomats) with other revelations that are trivial and embarrassing (such as  ambassadors’ snarky comments about foreign leaders). A lot of it is no surprise: For example, the government of Afghanistan is corrupt, which everyone already knew.

And some of the information is valid but would have been better kept secret, such as private communications between the U.S. and foreign governments.

Yes, it helps understand the Middle East to know that Saudi Arabia wanted America to attack Iran. It means that our pressure on Iran is not, as some people have alleged, all about our “slavish support for Israel.” And the fact that Saudi Arabia wanted us to attack Iran probably did not shock anyone who had thought about the situation.

Still, suspecting something is different from knowing it.

The publication of confidential negotiations will embarrass some people and humiliate other people. It will even endanger people such as the president of Yemen, who rightly or wrongly gave secret permission for the United States to bomb his country in fighting terrorism.

The fact that the information is now public will force governments to react to it in ways that they wouldn’t choose if they knew about it but it was still private. And WikiLeaks’ publication of some U.S. diplomats’ trivial but negative comments about world leaders might damage our relationships with their countries.

Some people have said that it’s the U.S. government’s just punishment for claiming that it can eavesdrop on everyone else’s telephone and Internet communications. That might be true, but it’s not the issue. The issue is whether the WikiLeaks document publication helps or hurts the cause of human rights and international peace.

And I’m afraid that the answer is yes. It helps and hurts.

Some of the information probably should have been revealed. But WikiLeaks would have been on better moral ground if it had released only documents that showed criminal activity, not just the hypocrisy that international politics sometimes requires.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

Obsolete Sexist Joke of the Week

It’s only funny because it’s (mostly) not true anymore.

On the TV show “Modern Family” this week, the smart daughter Alex envies the popularity of her sister Haley:

Alex: So dumb guys go for dumb girls. And smart guys go for dumb girls. What do smart girls get?

Father: Cats, mostly.

For the record, we have only one cat. She belongs to the whole family.

And I’ve got a smart guy. So there. 🙂

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

What I Am Thankful For

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for:

The wisdom of parents and grandparents

That includes wisdom about life and the world, how to behave, and what kind of person to be.

My Dad inspired me to love science, which is leading me to a medical or research career that will help people.

My Mom showed me how to believe in myself, to work hard, and to follow my dreams even when the world says “no.”

My grandmothers taught me to treat other people with respect and generosity. Their two most memorable pieces of advice are:

  • We show what kind of people we are by how we treat other people, especially those who are less fortunate or (in my grandmother’s words) “our social inferiors.” We should treat all people with kindness, consideration, and respect.
  • A good deed only counts if nobody knows you did it.

My grandfathers taught me that the world didn’t begin in 1989: It’s important to know what happened before and where we came from.

Wonderful teachers

I have wonderful teachers who not only share knowledge, but share the joy of learning and discovery. They inspire me to explore new ideas and look at the world in new ways.

That applies not just to college, but to high school and earlier. I know that I’m very lucky and that most people don’t have such good teachers.

Good friends

Life without friends wouldn’t be much of a life. I not only have lots of friends, but I have a smaller number of very good, very intimate friends.

In addition to my BFF Sarah, who I’ve known since preschool, I am thankful for all my friends at college. Even when we fight, we all still love each other.

And especially there’s Mark, but I’m not sure where it’s going so I have to wait and see about it.

Miscellaneously …

I’m thankful to live in a country where women have freedom and opportunities to achieve their dreams. America isn’t perfect; in fact we have a lot of problems. But I know how much better my life is than it would be if I lived in an unfree or desperately-poor country.

I’m thankful that I lost seven pounds since the start of the semester and now almost fit into my high school jeans as long as I don’t sit down or take a breath. 🙂

And I’m thankful for all the wonderful readers of this blog! Some of you were already my friends, some of you have become my friends, and all of you have great insights that make me think! You make the world a better place.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

A New Name for Airport Security

I didn’t think of it, but someone mentioned a new name for airport strip-searches and feel-ups:

“Gate rape.”

It might be funny if it weren’t true.

Five Ways to See Me Naked

I see myself naked every day, and I can tell you it’s not that big a deal.

But if it’s something that interests you, or even obsesses you (in a harmless, non-stalker-y way), there are five ways you can do it.

1. Be My Doctor

You’ll need four years of college and four years of medical school. After that, there’s internship and residency. You’ll have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to pay off. And you’ll have to look good wearing a stethoscope. But that will do it.

2. Be My Roommate

This is possible if you’re a female college student. You don’t have to submit SAT scores, but you should have good grades and be ready to work hard. You need to talk me out of the single room I have this year as a senior. And, of course, you need a little over $50,000 per year for tuition and expenses. But you will get a good look.

3. Be My Boyfriend

This is probably harder than being my doctor or my roommate. You have to be sweet, smart, funny, and considerate. You have to put up with my bullsh*t (after all, I’ll put up with yours). You have to remember what color my eyes are, when my birthday is, and you have to lie convincingly about whether that dress looks good on me even if you secretly hate it. But you will get to see me naked. And stuff. 🙂

4. Be Rachel Maddow

I consider myself straight (though I think people worry too much about labels). But I would definitely make an exception for MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow, who is smart, funny, a former Rhodes scholar, and who gets this incredibly sexy kind of half-smile when she’s making an important point. Rachel’s partner Susan might object, so I wouldn’t just make the offer. But if Rachel asked …

5. Work for TSA

This is the easiest one. No college or medical school required. You don’t have to be smart, funny, or nice. You can be a bully. You can smell bad.

Yes, next week I will fly home for Thanksgiving. And the friendly people of the Transportation Security Agency will use their magical X-ray scanners to inspect me from head to toe. Au naturel, a phrase that has three meanings:

  • In the natural state,
  • Nude, or
  • Cooked plainly.

Natural is good. Nude in the airport, not if I had a choice. And cooked plainly — well, they say their X-ray scanners are safe, but who knows if it’s true?

Of course, I might also get felt up. Here’s a sentence I never expected to read in The New York Times:

“I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants,” said Kaya McLaren, an elementary schoolteacher from Cle Elum, Wash.

I don’t like it, but I can’t do anything about it. I’m just so happy that I live in a free country and that President Obama has reversed all those Bush policies. Not.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.

They Can’t Tell One Blonde from Another?

Tonight’s episode of “Gossip Girl” had its moments, but it got a little too mean for me.

Juliet has been trying to get revenge on Serena. Apparently it’s because she believes that her brother Ben was sent to prison for having had a relationship with Serena when he was her teacher at boarding school.

Serena, meanwhile, has had absolutely no clue why Juliet hates her so much. Which is hard to believe, if she was in a relationship with a teacher who was Juliet’s brother and who got sent to prison. Also hard to believe is that Lily, Serena’s mother, wouldn’t know anything about that having happened at Serena’s boarding school.

All right, I’ve admitted in an earlier blog that I shouldn’t over-think “Gossip Girl” storylines.

Juliet infiltrated a costume party by posing as Serena. Wearing a mask and the same dress as Serena, she kissed both Dan and Nate, trying to make them angry at Serena.

Okay. Juliet is blonde. Serena is blonde. So because she was masked, we’re supposed to believe that Dan and Nate didn’t realize they were kissing Juliet instead of Serena? Are all of us really that interchangeable? I’m not even blonde and it bugs me. And don’t even mention the fact that Serena is taller than Juliet. You can say they were fooled because Juliet was wearing Serena’s perfume, but I know from experience that guys usually can’t distinguish between perfumes.

And another thing. At the end of the episode, Juliet drugs Serena and kidnaps her. That’s too much. First, it’s way beyond the meanness scale of anything they’ve done before on “Gossip Girl.” Second, when people have done mean things before on the show, there’s been some kind of reason. Serena tends to think with her — well, not with her brain. Blair is crazy insecure sometimes. And Georgina is just plain crazy. Even Jenny, who’s the meanest regular character on the show, is mean mainly from hurt and insecurity. Juliet is just hateful. I don’t like that.

Serena’s kidnapping might be why they’ve been floating rumors that Blake Lively wants to leave the show, suggesting that maybe her character will get killed off. I don’t believe it. As airheaded as Serena has been lately — and we know she is not like that, or wasn’t until last season — it just wouldn’t be “Gossip Girl” without her.

Copyright 2010 by Rinth de Shadley.