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Meet with a grieving mom? Say thank you? Kill your TV? TTers this week contemplate the course of life-changing decisions.

By Salon Staff
August 19, 2005 8:09PM (UTC)
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White House

George Bush: Public Enemy No. 1

TheChief - 03:25 p.m. Pacific Time - Aug. 10, 2005 - #4424 of 4941

I think that Cindy Sheehan is the enbodiment of all of the mothers who have lost a son or daughter to the war on Iraq.

Junior's actions, or lack thereof, not only ignore her, but all of the mothers, wives, children who have given all they can for the war on Iraq.


He only cares about himself and the puppeteers(sp) pulling his strings. He doesn't care about America or her people.

If our 'fearless leader' would only ask her up to the ranch for a day or two. If only in that time he would talk with her, listen to her. Explain that the war is necessary because of ...

But he can't, because he is a spineless little chicken. He can't because he can't remember where he has gone with his lies. He can't because he has never done anything to do with honor, dedication to, or love of country (or anything for that matter).


He can't because he doesn't have a heart to feel with. He can't because he doesn't have a brain to think with. He can't because he doesn't have the courage to look someone in the eyes and tell them the truth.


Private Life

Raised in a Barn -- Rude People Galore


Aspidistra - 06:42 a.m. Pacific Time - Aug. 13, 2005 - #5415 of 5507

When I was 4 years old, my sibs and I were invited over to Mrs. Smith's house to share a feast of teddy bear pancakes with her kids. I liked Mrs. Smith and her kids, and I liked teddy bear pancakes. I was grateful, really. But when my Mom came to pick us up she told me to say thank you to Mrs. Smith as we were heading out the door. I can remember my reaction to this day. I refused. It seemed to me that a thank you wouldn't mean anything to Mrs. Smith if she knew I was just saying it because Mom told me to. It would have been one thing if Mom had whispered it to me or told me out of Mrs. Smith's hearing. But Mrs. Smith was right there. She could hear all of it.


Also, there was the fact that, due to the chattering of my mother and my sibs and the goings-on in the house, I never really had a chance to speak to Mrs. Smith on my own. I was a very quiet child, but I was very sensitive to being ignored or not being given a chance to talk. I knew I was supposed to say thank you, but I also knew I wasn't supposed to interrupt. How was I supposed to obey both rules? Until Mom told me to say thank you, I felt like I was just part of the wallpaper. Why would people who ignored me the rest of the time suddenly find it so terribly important that I utter two little words under duress?

I dug in my heels and refused. I just said "No." Mom kept insisting, and I stood there, looking at my feet, saying "No" over and over again. It was a very uncomfortable situation. Mrs. Smith kept insisting that it wasn't important, but of course it was to my mother. Up until then I'd been her quiet, well-behaved child, and she was amazed that I didn't cave. Eventually we left without my having said thank you.

In later years my mother would occasionally talk about that day as a significant one. She really worried after that that she was raising a loutish, ungrateful child and what seemed to her a sudden change in my behavior that day really troubled her. For my part, it really wounded me when she'd talk about the event in later years that she still didn't understand my point of view. It was quite a few years before I actually took the trouble to fully explain it to her, though, because of course my reaction seemed perfectly understandable and justified to me. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that we had a long, tearful discussion about the event one night and both of us understood the whole thing a lot better.


We moved away from the area where Mrs. Smith lived at the time a short while after the event, but when I was in high school she and her family moved to the area where we lived at the time. I thanked her then for the teddy bear pancakes, and she forgave me. It took my mother a lot longer.

Social Issues

Kill Your TV


mschmidt - 01:40 p.m. Pacific Time - Aug. 10, 2005 - #34 of 60

In some cases the experience of television is superior to listening to the same old people tell the same old stories -- although you can tell Uncle Jake you've heard that one before, and actually interact with him about something else. But I think there is room to wonder whether, in these times, we can't do better than TV for many of the categories you've listed. As has been said up above, TV news is laughably inferior to what you can get from the Internet, from a newspaper, or from some radio.

If your goal is learning new stuff, the Internet or a library is vastly more efficient and flexible. I had this discussion on TT some years ago, and one person was saying how some gardening show on PBS was a great learning experience. Well, yeah, if you haven't ever gardened before and like to see someone show you how to do the basics. But a television show isn't ever going to go beyond the basics because the audience isn't big enough for anything specialized.

One of television's biggest problems is the cost of production and distribution. That's why there are so many ads. That's why it all seems so "lowest common denominator." That's why they'll never do a show on native Solanums of North America and the levels of glycoalkaloid toxins found in ripe and unripe fruits. The audience just isn't big enough. But you'll find that information on the Internet, in books, and in scientific periodicals.


People enthuse about eventually having 300 channels. No little library in any little town is happy to have just 300 books. And each book has a lot more information in it than a one-hour television program.

I think one reason people get so enthused about denouncing television is that, for a lot of people, the experience of withdrawing from television seems like such a great awakening. Once you think about it, and try it, the alternatives for entertainment, news and information are at least competitive, if not vastly better. "Why didn't I think of this before?" people wonder. I think it's because television is so easy to keep on. If you continue to sit there, something else will come on. If you change the channel (now much easier with remotes) you will find something else on. So it seems to have endless promise. I remember being glued to MTV back in the 1980s. "This video sucks. Maybe the next one will be good." Amazing how much time I wasted waiting for some kind of excitement or titillation. So I think TV seems to encourage, at least in some people, a sort of passivity. It requires almost no initiative at all once you've bought the thing and signed up for cable. And when you discover how much more you can have for just a little more initiative, you want to shake people and say, "Wake up, look what you're missing!"

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