Follow the bouncing ball: Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address

Tonight’s State of the Union, aside from promising 2014 will be a “year of action,” is almost guaranteed to be a snoozer. But for those of you as foolhardy as I am to watch the address nonetheless, I wrote a handy guide to SOTU cliches that may pop up.

Par example:

“This is not about politics.” — “This is obviously about politics.”

“This isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an American issue.” — “This is an impossibly vague idea on which to legislate.”

“New efforts” — The same efforts as last year, only this time we really mean it.

“Bipartisan support” — Senate Democrats and Pat Toomey.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the two mojitos I’ve already drank tonight.

New at TNR: The Paradox of Women’s Wages

A glass ceiling… get it?

After not updating this site for more than a year, I’m finally returning for a total makeover and a renewed commitment to put the stuff I’m writing and reading and generally finding interesting on here. So!

Last week I wrote an article for The New Republic about what I thought was a fascinating nugget of information from the December jobs report: last month, all of the jobs growth went to women. I tried to explain why, and why this isn’t actually a good sign for women in the work force:

As Stephanie Coontz wrote in a recent op-ed, the problem for women in the workplace isn’t the glass ceiling so much as the “sinking floor.” While gaining ground in higher-paying sectors, women continue to vastly outnumber their male counterparts in low-wage jobs. This has led to a barbell effect, with the number of women in middle-sector jobs shrinking. So perhaps, to further stretch the metaphor, the problem isn’t the glass ceiling or the sinking floor, but the contracting walls of the trash compactor in Star Wars.

Read the whole thing, why doncha?

Covering the annual White House turkey pardon

President Obama, with daughters Sasha, center, and Malia, right, pardons the turkey, “Cobbler” at the White House in Washington on Wednesday.
Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

I know, I know. I never write, I never call. I promise to give a more comprehensive update about my internship at NPR and the Future … in the future.

Just a quick post before I head home to Wisconsin for the holiday weekend – I had the privilege of interviewing the farmer who raised this year’s flock of presidential turkeys, and today I got to cover the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony for NPR’s It’s All Politics blog. I’ve really made it, eh?

Happy Thanksgiving!

—Your Perennial Intern

What I read today: Aug. 27, 2012

Today’s pre-employment project: Make a cover for my new toy. Well, it’s not *technically* mine but I’ve been given free reign of Señor iPad for the day, the result of which you see above. I used this basic pattern for the sleeve; you can find more free patterns for iPad covers here.

Today’s condensed Internet reading list:

Streets of Sorrow
Young Barack Obama’s Genuinely Hilarious Self-Parody
The Day My Shrink Told Me To Change My Personality
The Quiet Hell of Extreme Meditation
New “Flight of the Conchords” Charity Single, Written With Kids

Thanks for reading, more soon.

What I read today: Aug. 24, 2012

Grimes, “Genesis” (NSFW)

I’m trying out a new feature on Ye Olde Blogge wherein I’ll document my daily Internet consumption habits and occasionally comment on what I’ve read. Like Instapaper, only with more K-pop videos. Ideally I’ll discipline myself to keep this up every day, but you know how these things go — mice, men, etc. This is mostly for my own edification; hopefully in a year I’ll be able to look back and say, “Ohh, that’s what I spent all my time doing.”

Meat and potatoes:
Several People Shot, One Fatally, Outside Empire State Building
Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea’s Music Video Sensation
Why Do So Many Pretty Female Comedians Pretend They’re Ugly?

Dessert:
Normal Guy Pretends To Be Celebrity In Times Square, Everyone Falls For It
35 Reasons Why Aaron Paul Should Be Your Favorite Actor On Television
David Pogue, ‘New York Times’ Technology Writer, Plans Movie Trailer Marriage Proposal
Romney Condoms ‘Great For Any Position’; Obama Rubbers Won’t Break ‘As Easily As His Promises’
Kyle Kinane, the death of the party, comes to D.C. (saw him last night; the man is just ungodly funny)

Happy Friday!

Your perennial intern forges on at NPR

NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. – aka my home for the next four months.

I’m thrilled to tell you, dear reader, that starting Sept. 10 I will be interning with NPR’s Washington desk. During the four-month internship I’ll mostly be helping out NPR reporters with the Washington desk and (which led me to audibly squeal with excitement) the 2012 presidential election team. I’ll do background research, conduct and transcribe interviews, and try to weasel in a byline or two by the end of my time there. I could not be more pumped to start.

After a serendipitous series of events, I went in for an interview last Friday and met with Ron Elving, NPR’s Washington editor. He told me he worked in the Milwaukee Journal’s Madison bureau 27 years before my own internship with the Journal-Sentinel. After he offered me the position, he introduced me to the managing editor and assistant managing editor.

“This is pure favoritism!” the AME cried in mock disgust.

“It’s not favoritism … it’s something next to favoritism,” Elving said with a grin.

I’m not complaining. Thanks for reading, more soon.

New mantra

The product of yesterday’s Crafternoon – I have an exciting development in the works, but don’t want to spill the beans and jinx it just yet. Thanks for reading, more soon.

Down with the sickness

Being sick when you’re 13 is one of those rare species on the list of Good Things About Being 13. It’s an enchanted ferry ride to no-school land, where watching “Matlock” reruns in your pajamas and eating ice cream thrice a day is not just acceptable but encouraged behavior.

I remember my grandma (who I unceremoniously nicknamed Mima when I was two) would make me toast in the morning, scrambled eggs if it was a not-really-sick day. This toast was way good, even better than the toast at JA’s Cafe, my family’s breakfast mainstay. And don’t get me started on Mima’s chicken spaetzle soup; you might have other things to do today. One day, home sick from elementary school, I asked Mima for the recipe for her toast, and she dutifully wrote out the recipe in her careful, ex-secretary hand.

In high school, my parents started letting me stay home alone when I was sick. I enjoyed the relative autonomy, exchanging “Matlock” reruns for LiveJournal binges, but the spread was considerably lacking. The best I could muster was a toaster-to-microwave grilled cheese sandwich with a can of overly sweet tomato soup, but at least I could spend all day plunked down in front of our ’97 Dell, entering seedy AIM chat rooms with screennames like cAtHoLicScHoOlgrrl and SOADismylife87 – the heady stuff of Chris Hansen’s dreams.

Being sick when you’re 23 and under-employed is like neither of those scenarios. Sure, I can troll Tumblr (which is, let’s face it, the 2012 equivalent of LiveJournal) and order from the sub-par Thai restaurant down the street. But a sick day when you’re unemployed is a gruff reminder that you’re home looking at cat GIFs while your friends are at work looking at cat GIFs. That you could be at your temp job answering callers’ inane questions instead of in bed asking yourself stomach-lurching existential questions. That you should be trolling JournalismJobs instead of Tumblr, revising your cover letter for the umpteenth time, pitching stories to outlets way out of your league. That it isn’t worth the 30-minute Metro ride and the copay for the doctor at the income-scaled clinic to tell you it’s just a virus and that you should take it easy for a few days.

Then again, maybe the sick day isn’t some dour memo, but a Snoopy-themed sticky note saying you should take it easy for a few days. That this perma-stress is not going to land you a job any more than worrying about your gluten intake or your grasp of realist literature will land you a job. Listen, the sick day is knocking on your door and saying, “I sweatergod, if you don’t turn on HGTV right this second I’m calling your mom. Here, I brought gelato.” The sick day is your friend.

This morning I noticed Mima, whose technical savvy is worthy of another post, was on Gchat. I asked her for something, and she replied right away: “‪Take a slice of bread, put in toaster, and spread lots of butter on it.‬”

Thanks for reading, more soon.

How to write about the Aurora shooting, in two words

Writing about a national tragedy like what happened in Aurora, Colorado last night is a daunting task for journalists. How to sum up the manifold terror and grief of that packed movie theater? How to convey to readers the gruesome scene, while maintaining respect for those who witnessed it firsthand? How to channel the public tide of mourning into empathetic civic discourse, into meaningful political action?

The short answer? You can’t.

After the facts are fully reported, it’s impossible to add any meaningful perspective to a meaningless act of violence (admittedly, I shouldn’t be writing this now). If there is any lesson to be gained from the thoughtless slaughter of a 9-year-old girl at her first midnight movie, it is that we are all too obsessed with our own image, our own perspective, our own take on the events.

So please, for one precious second, stop sharing your thoughts on the tragedy. Stop updating your friends with your opinion about the gun control laws in this country. Stop Tweeting your e-prayers to people who will never receive them. Give the friends and families of the victims the one thing you can. Give them the small consolation of your silence. Listen.

Why is the latest Obama ad set in Madison?

At 0:52 of the Obama campaign’s latest ad, in which youngsters-on-the-street incredulously read a statement from Mitt Romney about his Bain Capital days, I noticed a familiar landmark: the Majestic Theater in Madison, Wisconsin. Scrutinizing the footage of the other interviewees (it’s unclear whether the readers are laymen or campaign workers) I noticed the storefronts and sidewalks of State Street, a hotel off the Capitol square, and one interviewee’s Madison Area Technical College polo shirt.

This is all to say the Obama campaign is hardly bludgeoning viewers with Midwestern scenery in the same way as, say, Clint Eastwood’s Super Bowl ad. The Obama ad conveniently avoids shots of the Wisconsin State Capitol, which has come to symbolize state Democrats’ viciously fought but ultimately failed effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. It’s easy to speculate this ad is the first of many to target young voters, many of whom turned out for Obama in record numbers in college towns like Madison. One thing’s a safe bet: If the Walker recall effort had been successful, Team Obama would be milking Dairy State iconography for all it’s worth. More soon.