Obama’s Two Terms

I turned on the TV for the first time since May and heard some idiot pundit say that Obama will be remembered for his first term because he is just biding his time in the second term and has become a lame duck president.

Is television always so stupid or is today special? It is only now that Obama has begun having an actual presence in politics. We can disagree on whether that presence is negative or positive but these days everybody knows he is there. He spent his first term apologizing for existing, while today he is finally letting us know what he is about.

Poverty Line

I have no idea how a family of four can live on $23,498 per year. I don’t even know how a family of one can live on it.

I lived for the last 2 years of grad school on $21,000 but I was constantly running short and had to run up a debt. Every unexpected expense would turn into a major hardship. Once I needed a root canal, at another time the bank made a mistake and kept punishing me for it, then I had to make an unexpected trip, then my laptop died, then Greyhound lost the suitcase with all of the books I was using for my dissertation and I had to buy them all over again, etc. I knew, however, that grad school would soon be over and I’d get a real job, so the debt I was accumulating wasn’t that scary.

How people manage to live permanently on that kind of money is beyond me. And I come from a 3rd world country, so it isn’t like I’m spoiled by a life of luxury.

Physical Beauty

I just read on a website called “American Conservative” the following bizarre statement:

A growing obsession with physical beauty has shaped our culture, fostered by images, art, and media.

Given that Americans are known throughout the world as people who don’t care about how they look, I have got to wonder what possessed this blogger to say something so patently idiotic.

It was only after living in the US for a few years that I learned that it’s OK to cross the street and pop into the convenience store for a pint of milk without changing into “street clothes” and putting on makeup. For somebody of my origins, living among Americans is both disturbing and liberating. One can wear anything at all, and not only does nobody make nasty comments, but you are guaranteed to get compliments. Because everybody cares a lot more about being nice than about beauty.

I can’t think of a single culture where physical beauty is less important than in the US. In Latin America, the numbers of very young kids with plastic surgery is sky-rocketing. A friend from Venezuela said she barely met anybody under 25 during the recent trip home who hadn’t been operated or wasn’t saving for an operation. In my culture, things are even worse.