Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Presidential Campaign Review

According to the experts, it was the economy and the environment that led to Obama's victory. At least to the 5 panelists from both Republican and Democratic camps who were talking at the Smithsonian event this evening. It was a pretty exciting sold-out event.

I was probably the only person under 30; maybe one of 10 under 50.

It was funny sitting there and hearing about how my parent's generation described mine. According to them, I am multicultural, tired of political fighting, and more focused on issues that can be accomplished than arguing about the same old things time and again. Not a bad depiction, I'd say.

One thing I was surprised about was the vehemence about women's representation. I have to admit that I'm not much of a feminist when I look around me. Howard Dean felt more passion and exuberance for representing women than I felt. I am all for the issues: equal pay, birth control, owning my own property (did you know that women in the South couldn't open their own bank accounts even into the 1960s?).

But as far as being represented in intelligent spaces in government and business, I'm just less worried. Having been a graduate student and hearing PhD candidates planning out how to space having babies between dissertation and initial placement so that it doesn't impact achieving tenure was pretty harsh. I guess working in the more nonprofit side of things, though, I don't feel underrepresented. And I'm not all that torn up about fewer women ravagers on wall street and in board rooms. Perhaps I have my own built-in sexism, but I think there are brilliant women in some of the much more important jobs than what men consider: secretary of state, director of the Red Cross, hell even Carly Fiorina got into a tech company (a strongly male-dominated area, and maybe it didn't work out so well, but it was a significant move).

I think rather than asking why there aren't more women in high positions, we should look more to women excelling in math and technical fields, provide more support for working mothers, and teach college graduates to negotiate their starting salary (which is the number one reason for women making less than men in the long term of their career).

No matter how you look at it, I just don't see a woman in the White House as a particularly significant accomplishment. We have accepted women presidents across the world, women are often favored in gubernatorial races than men, and women executives are no longer characterized as man-eating bitches like they once were. Yes it's important to break the barriers and commit to promoting smart people who happen to be women, but then let's look at the causes for why the divergence exists instead of just asking why the results don't change.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I was a brownie.

This weekend I went with friends to the Hershey Chocolate Spa. It was a fun indulgence and we had LOTS of chocolate. My favorite thing of the whole weekend was the chocolate fondue wrap. I was a brownie for an hour. I had mud and chocolate oil all over me and relaxed under a warm heat reflecting blanket.

Sadly what came to mind while I was under the blanket, was how great of an idea would it be to offer similar blankets to the homeless. They reflect your own body heat and keep you surprisingly warm and don't get saturated by rain and such. I sort of laughed at myself for thinking about such things while I was in a super luxurious environment feeling the height of self-indulgence. I guess I just can't help it sometimes.

So after floating home like a wet noodle, I'm dreading work this week which will be lots of work in a very tight deadline. It's not dreadful, and it's needed, but it's totally going to undo all my hard relaxation work. Somehow I'll have to manage.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Watching History

Today made headlines all across the nation and around the world. High turnout at the polls, excitement across the nation--makes me so proud to be an American today.

I did go vote on election day. I know, I live in DC, so it's pretty predictable. But I was still excited to stand in line for an hour and a half.

Just for a point of reference, this is my block. My polling place is about 100 yards away. I stepped out and had to walk down to the opposite end of my street, go around the corner and then stand in line. This was at 7am when they opened. Everything was moving and organized well, there were just more people than any school could reasonably handle.

Of course on my way home there was no line, but it was also raining by that point and I was glad I voted early.

So the excitement in town last night was unavoidable. People were literally dancing in the streets. Horns were honking, people were shouting "Obama" and "Change We Can Believe In." Whole groups of people just started walking the two miles down to the white house. This was all in the drizzly rain at 1am.

So today I realized just why I love living in this city so much, especially at this time. Part of it was the spontaneous excitement and celebration that happened last night, but also just the knowledge that we are living history.

We are living history in such a special way here in Washington, DC. We get to enjoy it while it's happening. It suddenly dawned on my at about 2pm this afternoon that the Newseum on Pennsylvania Ave. displays the front page of newspapers across the country and some from different nations of the world. The sight was just incredible. Here are a few images.

It's pretty remarkable.