Fish Food

MAY 6, 2011 3:10PM

OS Weekly: Read Nikki Stern, Because I Say So!

Rate: 27 Flag

Good morrow OS friends. It is Friday, May 6th  and here again is your friendly announcer, fresh from a fabulous OS Meet-up. Joanie is out of town today, but she can testify to the fact that I had chosen Nikki for my feature several days ago, well before she met Mr. Master and Commander. When I saw her post on my Blackberry, I couldn't wait to get home from work to put the finishing touches on the Weekly and post.

Oh, and see how Nikki is hugged up against me on her left side? That's the same side that touched Mr. Obama. Actually, she seems to have touched him on all sides, the rascal. So where does that leave moi? Only one degree of separation baby! I'm not bragging, just sayin'.                                                                  


                      Nikki, Joanie, Art James, AJ Calhoun and me in DC

                        (see Joanie's post for juicy details and more pics)


                                                          ~The Buzz~

The demise of Osama bin Laden unearthed some latent feelings in OSville. Many of us wrote of our initial reactions and often agreed to disagree on the specifics. So what happens when friends disagree? That's what L in the Southeast wanted to know. The ever-thoughtful  Heather Michon posed the question--should we have his head, or will a grusome photograph suffice? Finally the POTUS decided against it, saying of the photo release, "...that's not who we are."

Like the rest of the world, OSers are still in the processing phase on the death of bin Laden--raw with shock and awe.  Cranky's post on the "hand-wringers" who expressed concern about the party atmosphere  after the death announcement hosted a meeting of the minds for people with divergent views. Most commenters agreed with Cranky's no-nonsense, quit your whining point of view,but when others including: SnippytheGrammarDog, Maurene Brown (Celebrating death), Fernsy,  Tom Cordle (Show Some Restraint), and Linda Seccaspina were  troubled about the optics--Americans celebrating in the streets-- Cranky pushed back a bit, even asking Linda to " her hugs for [his] next post." Ouch!

Our personal favorites; the uplifting rallying cry brought to us by Ron Robinson--"OBAMA GOT OSAMA. OBAMA GOT OSAMA. OBAMA GOT OSAMA!" Yup, that does have a nice ring to it, even though that one letter off thing is wearin' the newscasters out. Monseiur Chariot said much the same in graphic terms...


And in words...

"...Thank you Barrack Obama. You are my hero. You've been dragged through the mud by your detractors, but you came through victorious and are, right now, the hero of the world. It is a moment that may not last; it can and will change in due course. But I wanted to commemorate our president's heroism and tenacity with this image."



                             ~Featured Blog of the Week~

                                            Nikki Stern



On Friday last, I found myself in company with a prominent Oser, author, and renaissance woman-- the incomparable Nikki Stern. She was in Washington to promote her book, Because I Say So: The Dangerous Appeal of Moral Authority (Only $5.00 on Kindle). Lucky for me, I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance. During the course of a lovely, lively dinner at Clyde's in Georgetown, I came to know much more about Nikki Stern. Who knew she was a musician in her former life--a singer and songwriter who worked in advertising when it was still cool. Over the course of the evening, my admiration grew, and with my trusty Kindle at the ready, I downloaded her book then and there. Then I had to go across the street and sing for a singer. The performance could have gone better. She was a good sport.     

As I read Because I Say So  it became apparent that Nikki and I had a philosophical affinity to add to our similar vocational experiences. Her thesis--the importance of critical, independent thinking in a society of too many blind followers--was one I could really dig. She gets straight down to business with the hard questions. For example, did she herself have a right to be perceived as a moral authority because she was a 9/11 widow? What does it mean to be associated with an historical event that changed the nature of our society? According to her, it does not mean that she or any other disaster victim has a special claim to goodness or rightness owing only to an accident of fate.

What I found most interesting was her experience with the media. After losing her husband on that fateful day nine years ago, she was suddenly thrust into a media maelstrom. Everyone wanted to know what it felt like to be her, but when she tried to answer that question in a thoughtful way, describing the complexity of emotions involved, she was often rebuffed.

"I was once dismissed as 'too nuanced' by a producer planning a panel discussion about some 9/11-related issue; she wanted me to come down for or against, and I wanted to look for common ground...I made every effort to lift my deliberations above the high tide of my own emotions. But that didn't seem to be what the media was after."  

She goes on to discuss the danger of ascribing moral authority to public figures, recalling the day Rudi Giuliani spoke at the memorial service for her husband's company. One day he was just the mayor--and not particularly popular-- and the next, he had become a paragon of virtue..."America's mayor." Why? Because we all needed someone to look to. We needed a sense of certainty in an uncertain world.

 This seeking behavior may be natural in times of crisis, but not necessarily a healthy way of being. Before we decide whether or not a particular figure should be heard and considered above others. We must ask ourselves why they are more qualified than anyone else. We should be mindful not to be taken in  by what the author describes as "moral charisma." She asks, Is Oprah or Bono, or the latest New Age spiritualist guru beyond reproach? Probably not, but the the point is to ask the question. On the influence of celebrity...

"Our job is to make sure we distinguish between the celebrity and the celebrity's issue. The moral worthiness of the project should be separated from the moral worthiness of the supporter."   

And what of our great nation? Surely there are false claims to moral authority hidden behind nationalist agendas. Our leaders have a tendency to claim American exceptionalism, or as Nikki puts it, "Intrinsic American moral authority" as a justification for many things--a hubristic norm which often detracts from our interests. Nikki is particularly thoughtful on this point:

"The issue isn't whether America deserves or is worthy of moral authority, given it's past history. Rather, the issue is whether moral authority is a worthy goal for America to pursue."

Should we go so far as to question the "good" doctors and religious figures among us? Darn right, and especially so. If they prove by their actions and knowledge to be worthy of our admiration and respect, then so be it. But they don't get an automatic pass. For me this was the main thrust of her book--no one gets an automatic pass, not even you. In her words--

"...why not just claim our own moral authority? After all, we're fully equipped to form moral judgments...but we must remember our judgments aren't going to be infallible. There's a limit to what we can know. Certainty leads to inflexibility; once we're entrenched, it's difficult to question our own choices."

I take this to mean, keep your own council and avoid "groupthink" whenever possible. Good rules to live by if you ask me. So, if you haven't noticed by now, this is a serious discussion about values and human behavior. It is also a laid-back, earthy read. At only 160 pages, it's brief and intellectually nutritious. Highly recommended!

If it's short form Nikki you seek, you can also read her work in the literary e-zine, She's Editor-In-Chief over there...a colleague you understand. Yes Nikki, this does makes sense. You make a whole lotta sense. Thanks for a lovely evening and a thought-provoking read!

Until we meet again...


We regret the circumstances of course, but Nikki and the Prez kickin' it live!!!


                              What was Emily thinking?

I know you've got gobs of worthy work to choose from but jeez Emily, how could you have missed these gents?                                                  

                                                    neilpaul Neilpaul gives us a slice of his work life, taking us behind the scenes of the criminal justice system in his knock out piece, Ghetto LifeDialogue rich, it reads like an episode of Law and Order. Good stuff! 

                                                  greg Greg Correll never fails to move us. Whether it's one of his mind-bending, heart-rending poems about life and love, or his latest; a mini-memoir about a cold, dark moment in his past--The sled ride. I sat stark still as I read...utterly transported.



~In the news~

Talk about a hellova news week! Good thing we had more than a few crack reporters on the scene.

Wednesday, April 27th--

Due to Donald Trump's sparkling tenacity, Obama releases his long form birth certificate along with news of some rearrangements in his Presidential pantry.

bobbot Bobbot wondered "How many Birth certificates does he have to show?"

Friday, April 29th--

A certain handsome Prince from across the pond marries his commoner gal pal with only a few billion guests in attendance.

linda2 Linda Seccaspina was all over it with her Live Royal Wedding Blog. She pulled an all-nighter and then some to bring us the definitive, real time wedding party. At last count, the post had garnered 328 comments. Now that's how you do it. The blog was also featured on the Canadian Site, Zoomers. Congratulations Linda! 

Sunday, May 1st--11:25 pm EDT--

The President pops into the East Room for a little surprise announcement--everybody's favorite Islamo-Fascist is on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the early throes of decomposition. Oh Really?

Kathy Kathy Riordan burned the midnight oil to keep us informed with her stellar live blog--Waiting for Obama, The News: Osama Bin Laden is Dead.

Wednesday, May 4th--

After two days of presidential hand-wringing, The POTUS decides not to release pictures of Obama in his deathly repose.

nanatethay Nanatehay says yeah, but check out Some other photos not released by the White House. On the war in Afghanistan--"Osama's dead, can we come home now?" 


                                  ~Miscellaneous Cool~


This pop-culture, open call response by Roy Cruz was a last minute submission, and I do mean the very last minute. When I saw Searching for Gena Rowlands on the cover- -"Gloria" being one of my favorites-- I just had to take a peek. What a shock to learn the story involved a Filipino boy searching for his sexual identity in 1970's Manilla. I won't spoil it here, but the conclusion is very satisfying. Do yourself a favor and don't miss this one.  


Rita Shibr took an awesome Road Trip this week and invited the whole OS gang to join her at the Chalfonte Hotel Cape May NJ. Sunsets on the beach, hot young bartenders, and late-night dancing on her cottage porch...good times! Don't worry about stopping by late. Rita's got chilled Champagne and mojitos at the ready. And no, you can't wear her hat.                             


                                    ~The Weekly Funnies~


Cranky Cuss gives biting satire in his piece about a would-be presidential candidate--Dead: Donald Trump's Dignity, Age 64. The Crankster is deadpan hilarious as he excoriates 'The Donald' for all his indecent pomposity. The closer cuts like a knife- "Trump’s dignity is survived by an arrogance that is in inverse proportion to his human worth."  Oh shap!                                          


Christine Bollerud's Secret Workshops of the MFA Writing Program Illuminati is a tongue-in-cheek riot about a literary star-maker boot camp. These instructors will teach you how to set the literary world on fire. Poetry, memoir, the great American novel-- you name it, you own it. All you need is some manufactured trauma drama. Yes, they can help you with that.


Leepin Larry explained The Reason Why Open Salon Runs So SlowJust 'cause inquiring minds wanted to know.                            



                                 Who gave good comment?


julie hyblaean- Julie on Rita Shibr's--  Road Trip 

"mows cheetoes and slim jims in defense of having my own space. Let the territory wars continue....don't make me take off my shoes"

gnome Cyril the Gnome  on Rita Shibr's--Road Trip
 "hatted women are better by far than any pharmaceuticals.
in this gnome's humble opinion."


"I'm not sure. I can't say yes and I can't say no. So I say I'm ambivalent. I'd LOVE it if there is a god. Or God. I would. It would be so so terrific to have a real appeals court in life instead of this lottery ticket we ride, I ride (for those of you who have the appeals court).

I hate religion. It's sickening. Down the line someone, somewhere is making a buck. Or getting an ego mightily stroked at someone else's expense. I know this is life, but who needs it? So I have no use for religions. If I ever find one though AND I discover there's a god with a capital G, I will be a happy camper."

margaret  Margaret Feike on Leepin Larry's--Generalíssimo Francisco Franco is Still Dead

"You sure about this? I could swear I saw Franco, bin Laden and Elvis at Wal-Mart the other day."

art Art James on Tinkerer Tink's--Who have fish? BEAR HAVE FISH! NEED EP? Fuc No! UNICORN BUTT

"Tink. What's the bare Russian Bride email web cam.
Will you please share it too. Brides for chubby males.
Bare Mormon Women on line for big halibut fish men.
Tink. I think Alaskan Salmon bloggers love fat cats too."

 outonalimb Out on a Limb on Sarah Cavanaugh's--Love in Pennyroyal 

"First it's Love Potion Nr. 9, then it's Calamine Lotion Nr. 9."

c wright  C Wright From Tommi Avicolli Mecca's--  Got your bin Laden T-shirt yet? 

"What's wrong with the fact that the economy has been stimulated as a positive externality? Or the related fact that ppl are finding some levity in turbulent times, rather than merely sitting around hand-wringing and fretting about one "crisis" after another?"

"I'm with you! I don't understand why people are so willing to participate in the human tragedy, yet resentful of participation in the human comedy. We need to recognize and listen to the full chord of human experience: the bass notes, the top notes, and all the notes in between. The Royal Wedding delivers the triumph of young love on an international stage. Celebrate!"


                                             ~My Take~

I've been postin' up a storm all week. Yak, yak, yak--a bit more than usual. I figure you wouldn't mind if I skipped the editorial just this once.  However, since I have your eyes, I do have one that didn't get much attention. What was it...poor timing, subject matter, technical issues, Babe fatigue? Hmmm. Anyway, it just happens to be my favorite. If you're into Cary Grant, here's a little ditty about his daughter's memoir. 


                    From Edward R. Murrow and the staff at OS Weekly

                                         "Good Day and Good Luck"


                       Editor-In-Chief~ The Bluestocking Babe



           Thanks so much for your comment submissions.


                                                             Rita Shibr


                                                            Matt Paust


                                                      Monsieur Chariot


                           New to the Weekly? Here's what you missed:

         OS Weekly 1-Alysa Salzburg Sets the Scene for Peace Talks

        OS Weekly 2- Rebecca Sarwate is Healing, Writing, and Winning

        OS Weekly 3- iamsurly is bustin' balls and taking names



Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Friends, it's been a busy week, with lots of technical difficulties to bear. I don't have the time just now to send out all the PMs this time. If you have a buddy who has been featured or linked on these pages, please give them a shout. It would be very helpful.
jeeze, blue, I'm kind of overwhelmed right now and I can't BELIEVE you downloaded my book. I feel like a freakin' kid in a candy store right about now. What a week!
As usual, you covered all the bases and did a great job. You should be working at the Washington Post, digging up dirt on politicians. You have a reporters nose! (thats a good thing)
Cranky and I exchanged a few PM's. We are good now. We just cannot all be in agreement about different things but that does not mean I don't love him.

I lost two friends that worked in the 9/11 towers that day and have nothing but heartache for everyone. I just cannot scream in the streets though as I am afraid of the repercussions.

But I love Cranky and we talked and agreed there is no way I can come outside the town lines of Unicornville with my ideas and that is that.

Thanks for the shout out about the Royal Wedding.. I am still not over that all nighter.
They shoot horses don't they? :)
Rated with hugs
Quite a feature this is. You have just the right touch of lightness and discernment, and you prove that snark isn't necessary for gossipy fun. You have a witty, warm heart, Babe!
Love this and appreciate the effort.
Nikki--I loved your book. I just hope the article didn't suck too much. Writing all this copy on my own is no joke!

Scanner--really, you think? I would love to be in the business for real, but you know how it is. Folk like me are a dime a dozen.

Linda--I know you and Cranky are ok now and I hope I didn't stir up any negative feelings. You know how it is in this business though, if I don't have anything juicy to report, I'll lose my rag status :) But seriously, if it bothers you...I'll send a PM.
This has been a very strange week, as we ricocheted between two emotional poles: the royal wedding and the death of Bin Laden. I managed to find reason to celebrate both events, emotional reactions you so kindly chose to republish here: thank you! But reactions were all over the map, from reckless elation to bitter resentment, which made for a rather bumpy ride overall. Your weekly review thankfully managed to keep a focus on the highlights. Wow, Babe - you're good!
BB, you have outdone yourself again. Each issue gets better and better.

Thanks for the mention.

... and when are we going to see a video of you singing?
Awesome post once again!! It must take hours and hours...
Lea--thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You know how I feel about you. It means alot that you liked it.

Neilpaul--so you wouldn't have liked it "quite as much" huh? Sorry, but I require 100% devotion.

Monsieur--thanks for giving so much good material from which to choose. You are an inspiration.

Leepin Larry--I'm painfully video-camera shy, but I'm working on it...honest.

Susie--yes, it does...about a day and a half when OS is running smoothly--which is rare these days--and something like three days when OS is sluggish. Every go round I say to myself it's the last time...too much friggin' work. But when I get it all together and ready to post, it's always a thrill and seems worth it, until the next time.
I love OS Weekly! I'm so glad it's here and technical difficulties or not you did an amazing job, as usual! Thanks for this always helpful guide to what I read, what I missed, and what I'm going to be reading post haste!
At the risk of becoming a broken record, you are REALLY good at this! Thanks for including my philosophical question piece. As you know, the answers were all over the place but for the most part the consensus seemed to be that real friends should be able to agree to disagree.

Are you kidding me? If we cannot have opinions then the world is all gone to hell. You did good..:)
Folks: she can also sing!

I was keeping track of some interesting but little-read items for my *recommended* list, but Chrome did something different than usual and I lost them. When I have some time to spare, I'll look them up in "history"...

And, yeah, a video of you singing - come ON. I posted one, two even, and I'm a rank (term used advisedly) amateur.
To all--I would love some feedback on my recommendations. If I've led you to a post you enjoyed, please come back to share your thoughts. The most gratifying thing about the Weekly for me is the idea of bringing more eyes to the work of these terrific writers.
Thanks BB! and I would have loved to hear you sing. Wish they'd gotten that on video.
Another stellar production, Babe. Brava. And to think that you touched Nikki who touched, "all around" evidently, the POTUS. Hugely impressed am I.
Thanks for the recap, bbabe - sorry that i had to miss the post-Osama discussions, but you caught me up well.
Julie--don't tell anyone, but I put your comment first on the list because it was my fave...shhh.
This was great. What a generous and helpful effort.

Three talented and beautiful woman: You, Joan, and Nicki.
I wasn't even aware the sweet linda and dear cranky had an issue. All's well now.
Every time I see you have written something I get do it with just the right amount of reverence and appreciation. Great job.

These photos and clips are just great, you have spent so much time!
I avoided all the bin Laden stuff as too much, your recap was just the right amount : )
...and Nikki deserves every single praising word, she's one of my favorites to read. Some of the others are on my favorites, some ought to be, and I've been way behind...can we just add two more hours to each day? : )
Thanks again, Bluestocking Babe...
Woweeee, what an OS Weekly post this is!!!! OS'ers do get around-from meeting Presidents to meeting each other...I loved this!!! xox
First off, I'm honored to be mentioned - twice (!) - but since Linda and I quickly kissed and made up, I'm embarrassed that our little spat got highlighted.

Second, having met Nikki, she is an absolute delight in person (as is Joanie) and I wish I had gotten an invite to that party. Her DTMS site is a gem - plug alert: I have a post up there now. And anyone who saw her video essay about the mosque on CBS Sunday Morning last summer knows what an eloquent spokeswoman she is.

Finally, can I give an "amen!" to Nana's statement about Afghanistan?
Wow, I'm impressed.

And that is an OS meetup of which I am extremely envious.
Thanks sincerely for the kind mention, bb. There was some midnight oil burnt that night.
Great edition this week, blue. Nikki's meeting is definitely a highlight of the week, as well as all of you getting together in much going on, we need your highlights!
You know, Bluestocking Emphasis on Babe...I had to come back and read this again! Why? Because when people ask me what OS is...what you have summed up here with your own clever style and wit is it! xox
@ Robin--thanks so much for your support. I was just talking to Sky about how I want to open the Weekly to other voices. Perhaps I need to write a few more issues to establish the brand before I can approach people, but I cannot continue to be the only voice. I'd like to have columnists and even guest editorials.
*blushing pinkly to his fingertips*
*doffs hat*
b.b., if you wear your best chapeau, i can be there in 5 minutes. eastern standard time, of course.
Nice work! I'll have to check out some of these I missed. And am totally jealous of the meet up.
Loves reading more about Nikki Stern. I am however jealous that I wasn't there to hang out with you two OS powerhouses. Another witty and worthy recap Ms. Babe.
Sorry I am late to this Babe, the loading times suck! I read it and rated it early on, it didn't stick of course. Great recap and thanks for the shout out on our road trip, it was a good diversion that weekend. I like the comments section as a witty comment can be non sequitur to the whole thread.
I just now saw this. Let me tell you I'm a huge Nikki Stern fan, primarily because of the nuanced way she writes. Her book is amazing. I'm now reading it for the second time (this time on the Nook) and I'm a huge fan of her site, Without a doubt, one of the finest writers on here. Thanks for all your hard work, BSB. RRRR
I'm late to the read, but thanks. Nice coverage of Nikki Stern. She is too nuanced for a sound bite, and her dedication to the resurrection of critical thinking seems tireless.