Friday, September 29, 2006

Recycling as art

I have never wanted to dress as Batman/woman, but I have often wanted to do something useful with a broken umbrella -- now I can. Inspired Friday randomness...

(via boing boing)

Friday bengal-blogging -- Pixel catnap

People sometimes ask me why I post so many cat pictures. Aside from how cute these kitties are, I can only say, Where do you take solace in the face of bad national and international news? Why not a soft, snuggly cat? (I could put my nose right *there*!)

Pixel in a ball

Previous Pixel-blogging:
16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, doh!, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, arrival, teaser, homepage

Quote of the day

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
-- Kurt Vonnegut
(via whiskey river)

Crude but ambitious

Add to all the rest of the stories that George Allen spits tobacco on women's shoes. He just comes off as boorish in all these stories. Why would anybody be thinking about pushing him into higher office?! Very surreal. (Of course, frat boy seems to work for Bush, so maybe plantation boss works for Allen...)

(via kos)

Um, wow

SusanG does a great job of rallying those who would oppose the gutting of our American system, exhorting them not to abandon the current party system but to transform it. It's the same fight as it's ever been, and the stakes were always clear...
This republic is bigger than this despairing moment. This democracy, as many generations have witnessed, is worth sacrificing for, is worth dying for. It's hard to see it at this dark and humiliating point in our national history, when our Congress has tossed away some of our most fundamental rights, but we are lucky -- yes, I said lucky -- to have been born at a critical time in history, lucky to be participants in the great, unfolding pageant of this nation. Even at this very dark time, we are blessed. Whether we believe in a divinity or not, we have either been chosen - or the times chose us - to be the bearers of the standard for this country's ideals.
Read the whole thing, really. Thanks, I needed that.

united resistance

On moral cowardice

Medley does a good job of pulling together various expressions of shock and dismay over the lack of leadership in opposition to this week's systematic gutting of the Constitution under the rubric of national security. It really is rending to see the nation throw away its place as role model for the world in order to embrace torture and leave its citizens without legal protections -- as though either of those things even makes us any safer . . .
But really, her snippets are more eloquent. Go, read.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A few dare defy the windstorm

candleLet it be noted and applauded that Louise Slaughter, at least, saw the travesty of the current torture/detention bill for what it was, and said so.
How is endangering our troops making us any safer? How is undermining our moral standing helping us win allies in the war of ideas we face?
Are we really willing to feed our tribal instincts at the price of our souls?

Update: Obama comes out for the cause. All the right arguments, if without the flash that might turn them into headlines or rallying cries. Is anybody trying to rally?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Every day in every way...

Bush likes to blame Clinton for not nipping terrorism in the bud, and also to take credit for the lack of terrorist attacks in the US since 9/11. And yet, look at this chart and tell me that things are getting better over the last five years... Hint: pretty much NO!

(via kos)

Nero isn't even pretending to fiddle

The Senate is preparing to consider bills to revise our national commitment to habeus corpus, to make the US into a nation ranking with Syria in its comfort with torture, to raise the specter of American citizens imprisoned without recourse on a whiff of accusation that they were aiding "the wrong side" in a perceived national conflict. Even conservative journalists are becoming nervous about the heedless rush of it all:
We have argued that the only remedy to the mess made by the Bush administration in holding hundreds of detainees without charge at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere since 2001 was congressional action. Yet rather than carefully weigh the issues, Congress has allowed itself to be stampeded into a vote on hastily written but far-reaching legal provisions, in a preelection climate in which dissenters risk being labeled as soft on terrorism.
Digby's longer chewy piece really gets at some of my frustration -- this is so clearly an issue with a significant moral element, and yet no leader is willing to oppose the bills from that standpoint.
The vote is going to happen and it's going to pass. But I can't help but wonder if the momentum wouldn't have gone the other way if some of the Democrats who constantly exhort the rank and file to be more friendly to religion and values and morals had stood up and said no. Imagine if Barack Obama had staked out a leading position against this legislation making the explicit argument that it is immoral and unamerican to torture. That would have gone farther to demonstrate our respect for religious values than his frequent process talk and scolding could ever do.
Digby even suggests that Lieberman could retread his condemnation of Clinton for the occasion, heh. But seriously, if there were ever an occasion for Obama to justify the adulation that surrounds him, or for those with Presidential apsirations to show that they can stand up for the most important of our Constitutional protections, now seems like a pretty good time. Anybody?

(via Atrios)

Clear to proceed

Rafe has the right take on the Bush Administration's search for exemption from the Geneva Accords. Vagueness and clarity can be found in any law, and being uncertain how a statute will apply to a given case isn't reason to junk the whole system.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Highs and lows

jugglingA jumble of quick links worthy of note:

Keeping the mushrooms in the dark...

The domestic and international versions of Newsweek have entirely different cover stories -- the latter looks at things falling apart in Afghanistan, while at home that story gets demoted to an interior location, displaced by a profile of a celebrity photographer. Because you wouldn't want an informed populace pressuring its leaders to take responsibility for how our world galavants are faring...

Update: see the covers here. (via Medley)

Quote of the day

A lifetime may not be long enough to attune ourselves fully to the harmony of the universe. But just to become aware that we can resonate with it -- that alone can be like waking up from a dream.
--David Steindl-Rast
(via A Mindful Life)

Monday, September 25, 2006

John Hodgman, unpacked (?)

Hodgman mugGo, read. Amusing in that quirky way that makes him loveable.

(via boing boing)

Strange days, indeed

Really does feel like we've gone down the rabbit hole when your luggage is safer with a gun in it. No, really...

(via boing boing)

What makes us safer

Amazingly, this news strikes many as surprising: the multi-agency National Intelligence Estimate concludes that the war in Iraq is *increasing* our risks from terrorism. Gee, who'd have thought that all that killing (not to mention, detainment and torture) would create new enemies?! And it took five years to notice! Sigh. Let's cut our losses and get out of there!

(via Tom Tomorrow)

Update: more chipperness here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

That's some serious distance!

Republican candidates nationwide are trying to distance themselves from George Bush and his dismal approval ratings -- but it's a sign of how desperate they are when some start identifying as Democrats in an attempt to create some smoke and mirrors action! wow.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Organizing one's financial life

A list of 46 things about finance the author wishes her mother had taught her, instead of worrying about those nice needlework knots or whatever. Really, a good list of basic advice for anybody posing as an adult in today's debt-threatening and complicated world. Happily, my mother taught me most of it.

(via Medley)

I think we need some Friday kittens

Pasha reclining elegantly -- rare good captures in natural light, thanks to using the coffee table as a tripod for a no-flash set of shots. More such experiments to come!

Pasha at leisure
This does look like a difficult life, eh?

elegant profile
A lovely profile in afternoon light...

Past Pasha-blogging (reverse order):
12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, arrival, teaser3, teaser2, teaser1, homepage


A compelling but grim account of everyday life in Bagdad, by a reporter who doesn't even dare publish his name. Worth reading, and then pausing to think, What on earth are we doing??

(via Bob Harris at This Modern World)

Time to pick a side

Well, the Republicans have decided that torture is great. Apparently the National Council of Churches is almost alone in asserting otherwise, that to torture someone is an inherently immoral act. Where are the Democrats in all this? Surely they don't believe in an unrestrained monarchy, which appears to be Bush doctrine, but hiding behind McCain's skirts didn't pan out as hoped. They need to take a moral stance against torture before this package of bills gets rammed down their throats under the rubric of national security. Greg Saunders suggests this:
“Senators McCain and Graham may have sold out on this issue, but the Democratic party still believes that torture is torture, no matter what the President may choose to call it. We in the Democratic party aren’t willing to sacrifice our humanity in order to protect our way of life, because to do so would destroy the moral foundation upon which this great nation was founded. The inhuman treatment of suspects by this administration is deplorable and if Senator McCain is no longer opposed to torture, then we’ll have to continue this fight without him.”
I'd go further than "aren’t willing to sacrifice our humanity in order to protect our way of life," to say that if we sacrifice our humanity, then our "way of life" goes with it -- what America has always seen itself as standing for is proved to be a lie, and even our fundamental rights and values are undermined. We dare not take the first such step, lest we give away the freedoms and ideals our forebearers worked so hard for, lest we declare that indeed the terrorists have reordered our priorities and brought about our downfall.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

McCain gives in on torture

...along with some fellow GOP Senators. Geez, I guess even being tortured yourself doesn't impress the need to avoid more of the same! I hope that those who lionize him are paying attention: first Falwell, now this. Moderate, my ass.

Next steps in the dismantling of the Constitution

today's newsRemember freedom of the press? Apparently it doesn't extend to, say, journalists filming Katrina refugees in a squalid government camp. Our federal police-corporate overseers will make sure of that. Yeesh.

(via Medley)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Who's in and who's out

Here are several weighty and interesting essays worth your attention. I intended to blog each separately, but the day has gotten away from me and now I'm way too groggy to do each full credit.
  • A fascinating recent study looks at disparities in life expectancy and finds sharp divisions along lines of race, region, and income.
    Our analysis indicates that 10 million Americans with the best health have achieved one of the highest levels of life expectancy on record, three years better than Japan for women, and four years better than Iceland for men. At the same time, tens of millions of Americans are experiencing levels of health that are more typical of people in developing countries.
    They describe eight different "Americas" in which its residents live, each of which predicts a quite different life course.
    (via kottke)

  • A National Academy of Sciences panel has concluded that the lack of women at the higher levels of scientific fields results not from differences in ability but from systemic inequalities. Imagine!!
    The report also dismisses other commonly held beliefs — that women are uncompetitive or less productive, that they take too much time off for their families. Instead, it says, extensive previous research showed a pattern of unconscious but pervasive bias, “arbitrary and subjective” evaluation processes and a work environment in which “anyone lacking the work and family support traditionally provided by a ‘wife’ is at a serious disadvantage.”
    Happily, the report included recommended steps to address these factors, including more objective hiring and evaluation procedures, better support for working families, and other (rational and obvious) measures.
    (via Birch, PhD)

  • Finally, having little to do with my post title, a suggestion that you might want to renew your passport now, whether or not you need it, to put off your need to deal with privacy-risking new radio chip technology that will be going into passports by next year.
    With your new passport you can wait another 10 years for an RFID passport, when the technology will be more mature, when we will have a better understanding of the security risks and when there will be other technologies we can use to cut the risks. You don't want to be a guinea pig on this one.
    I'm usually lazy about such things, but this seems like sound advice.
    (via Rebecca's Pocket)

Deep sigh.

I see that, almost incomprehensibly, this blog is coming up on its second anniversary. And yet, some of my earliest posts look like they could have been written this week.

attempts to legalize torture

propaganda disguised as documentary

Rumsfeld tells troops to stop asking when they'll go home

Maybe that's why I'm getting a bit quieter of late; waiting for the election winds to rise, and/or for the stories to change and renew my willingness to think about all the things that rend my gut...

Quote of the day

My aim is to agitate & disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast.
- Unamuno, wall graffiti from Paris, May 1968
(via HR, fellow local activist)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hah, you thought I wasn't going to post anything today

femsignTwisty takes on the corporatization of breast-cancer awareness, and particularly the way it makes everybody feel like they're doing something, without anything's really getting done.
Thanks to the cancer industrial complex, now everyone can participate in marketing cheap crap to consumers, maintaining a “tyranny of cheerfulness,” and preserving the blue-eyed American family fantasy with its sentimentalized white nurturing mother centerpiece. It’s as easy as buying a bag of junk food.
Because, you know, if you're fulfilling the patriarchal ideal of womanhood, you'll end up staying well. sigh. (Good comments there too.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

August hits a homerun

August of XOverboard just posted a new comic, which uses a parody of the current Mac/Pc series of ads as a route to a host of political observations. Who's the bigger bogeyman?! Excellent.

This is *not* the way I like to start my week

holding head...Evidence that the Bush Administration is planning an October Surprise action in Iran . . .

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Joe Lieberman really has lost his mind

I mean, WTF??

(via Atrios)

Friday cats: high-speed play

A decade or more ago I bought a cat toy that involved a little amorphous worm on the end of a string and pole (intended to be stuck to something for self-entertainment of cats). My old cat Buddy was quite fond of it, but my spouse's cat Yogi took things to an entirely new level the first time she saw it -- she was immediately transformed into a crazed beast, who would pounce on the thing (now called the "mouse"), get it in her mouth, and then crouch in a panther-like manner while growling and trying to drag it away to a safer lair. I actually had to put the toy away in a cupboard, because she was unstoppable (I once wore her into near-prostrateness by keeping it just out of reach for a half hour or so) and it was more than a bit creepy. Even then, she'd meow and get all agitated every time I went near the hiding place . . .

Anyway, she's a bit older now, and quieter, but this toy still brings out her amazing speed and intensity. And it turns out to transfix the bengals too, eliciting responses that are unequaled by any of their favorite playthings. Having the mouse out when all the cats are in the same room makes for some very crazy times...

Yogi and Pasha transfixed
Yogi and Pasha wait for the mouse to swing within reach

Pasha makes a leap
Pasha makes a graceful leap

Pixel reaching
Pixel does the dive and roll

Man, I wish I could find another thing like this -- it's duct-taped, and the stuffing is always on the verge of coming out (from all the pulling!). Many things look similar, but nothing comes even close...

Past kitteny goodness (reverse order): 65, 64, 63, 62, 61, 60, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0


Steven Colbert does an excellent job of skewering Senator Allen's various shows of racism and tolerance: video link. Man, it's hard not to think that guy (Allen, that is) is a flaming asshole who has no business holding office. Luckily, I keep my mind pure by thinking about puffy clouds...

(via Talking Points Memo)

The Tao of pig

Well, guinea pig, that is...
[This isn't their cutest entry ever, but it makes me irrationally happy...]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Quote of the day

milkweed case
Sometimes, just to be alive is enough.
-- Suzuki Roshi
(via ginkgo)


Pithy summary from Digby of the idiocy of the fear-mongers...
I just heard Tucker Carlson casually say that he told his "lesbian leftist friend" (probably Rachel Maddow), "when al Qaeda takes over you'll be the first one hung up by your thumbs."

I would really love to hear by what scenario these piddling chickenhawks see al Qaeda "taking over" the United States of America. Super secret laser beams from Mars? How?

What children these people are.
Quite so. (Also, this is the entire piece, so no need today to "go read the whole thing"...)

(via Tom Tomorrow)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Just stumbled across a parody of Wikipedia, including this priceless entry on kitten huffing. tee hee!

Turning the politicization back on the perpetrators

partisan battlefrontJosh Marshall offers Democrats a way to respond to the handling of 9/11, in the context of this fall's elections, by focusing on GOP failures:
I wouldn't mind if the president were politicizing 9/11 so much if he hadn't failed so badly at rounding up the people responsible for it. The president pulled our troops out of Afghanistan for Iraq when they had Osama in their grasp and he's still at large 5 years later. And he's still pretending that Iraq had something to do with 9/11. People need to make a decision on November 7th. Is five years of failure enough?
Quite so.

Fragile systems

A report of one pollworker's experience working the Maryland primary gives some sobering perspective on an all-electronic voting process and the many ways it can fall apart.
When our poll books crashed, and the lines grew, I had a sense of dread that we might end up finishing the day without a completed election. As an election judge I put aside my personal beliefs that these machines are easy to rig in an undetectable way, and become more worried that the election process would completely fail. I don't think it would have taken much for that to have happened.
As somebody who still keeps a hard-copy appointment book for fear of losing my life in a PDA system crash, I find this sort of scenario chilling...

(via NowThis)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Three unrelated but neat things

  1. An "open-source" wifi device that could well recommend a new frontier for today's tech-savvy (and custom-ware-loving) young users...
    (via boing boing)

  2. An angsty and engaging street art project that involves tiny people posed in various urban sites.
    (via boing boing)

  3. Because cuteness never goes out of style: a mound of ducklings. Pink beaks!!

What we do and don't remember

Olbermann gives a quite personal response to 9/11 -- looking back at what happened, and condemning both its politicization and the shameful failure to rebuild or even memorialize. Captures a lot of my feelings along the way...
Who has left this hole in the ground?skyline with outline

We have not forgotten, Mr. President.

You have.

May this country forgive you.
Worth a read.
(via Medley)

[Those preferring a more, um, humorous take might enjoy this parody video -- "Remember to stay afraid!" sigh.]

Monday, September 11, 2006

I can't hear you Ican'thearyouicanthearyou!

I guess that was Rumsfeld's view of the long haul in Iraq: he forbade anyone to make plans for the occupation/transition phase under threat of firing. Amazing. Kevin Drum captures the situation pithily:
So: the lack of postwar planning wasn't merely the result of incompetence. It was deliberate policy. There was never any intention of rebuilding Iraq and there was never any intention of wasting time on democracy promotion.
I wish I could say I found this amazing, but I've pretty well taken in that these guys place a powerful sales pitch above even the most abstract back-up plan. It just makes me want to bite somebody...

(via Medley)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just between me and you...

Some guy with a blog offers his sister some advice: 12 rules for marriage. Simple truths, but some that many never figure out...
4. The Dutch principle of Total Soccer means that any player can attack when there is an opportunity, and any player can defend when there is a need. In Total Marriage you only have two players, so this is even more important. Both of you should be able to do everything your team needs. You’ll have your preferences and strengths and habits, but if one of you goes down, the other one has to be able to cover.
. . .
8. Get pets. By far the easiest way to remember that you have to feed your shared life together is if part of it comes and stomps on you every morning.
Good tips for any long-term relationship in there.

(via Medley)


femsignTwisty has a great rant on the crazy course of the Japanese search for an heir to the throne -- both appropriate to the absurdist subject and entertaining as screed, as always.

Kitty porn

Our cats are over a year old, which means that they seldom toddle (although they often play) -- to fulfill any need you might have for overwhelming cuteness, I recommend this video of a family of silvery marbled bengals, complete with tottery legs, licks from mom, and more. (Beware the dorky Japanese narrator...) Dangerous levels of cute!!

Friday kittens -- I want to go outside!

Is it the weekend yet?

peeking out the window

(Posing as fall breezes are the spring breezes of April:
Pasha is 9 mos. here, and Pixel 11)

Here's the whole deluge of past kitteny goodness (reverse order): 64, 63, 62, 61, 60, 59, 58, 57, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51, 50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0

Election-watchers, start your engines!

Back from hiatus, Votemaster collects current polling data on all the Senate races to show a current snapshot of the battle nationwide. Looking for a place to donate a few funds? Pick one of those "barely Dem" or "barely GOP" races where the margin is just a few % points and every little bit counts. (To me, it seems like VA and TN might be able to be pushed into the other column, which radically changes the total!) This is updated all the time, so you can watch the fluctuations (also, click any state to look for trends) and bite your nails...

(via XOverboard)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The legacy of low interest rates

The housing boom created two things, (1) a huge new group of homeowners lured by lower payments (some due to low interest, some due to crazy financing schemes), and (2) more use of home equity (both to pay off other debts, or because it was a cheap way to get ready cash). Result, a stunning level of current debt, not even counting credit cards or other things that make conservatives sniff about personal responsibility. As interest rates inch upward (and/or balloon mortgages start to kick in), there's bound to be a serious pinch. That graph is amazing.

(via dailyKos)

Quote of the day

pebble with shadows
Each man's life represents a road toward himself.
-- Hermann Hesse
(via gingko)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Irrationally amusing

I love the discovery that orphaned baby kangaroos are kept comfortable in surrogate-pouch bags! Hang them anywhere!

More caca

Apparently George "welcome to America" Allen doesn't only have problems with brown people; he has problems with credibility (that is, if you think that the writer of a legislative amendment should be the one who gets credit for it). This is just bizarre...

And remember one thing...

Much better than any class syllabus or list of college counsellor tips is this list of things you really need to learn in life. Some of them you can get from (and/or apply to) your coursework or formal training (for example, I think that most of my Ph.D. could be summarized as learning how to learn -- new techniques, background on a new subject, etc.), but others you have to pursue on your own.
If you don't decide what is worth doing, someone will decide for you, and at some point in your life you will realize that you haven't done what is worth doing at all. So spend some time, today, thinking about what is worth doing. You can change your mind tomorrow. But begin, at least, to guide yourself somewhere.
One of the best pieces I've seen in a long time, both practically and philosophically.

(via Medley)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


forehead slapI got a creepy feeling when I saw one trailer for this ABC docudrama about "the lead-up to 9/11," and it appears that it's not just dramatizing the truth, but making crap up in a major fashion, pretty clearly with a political agenda. Wouldn't want to learn anything from what *actually* happened, if instead you can place blame and move on into new stupidity!

Update: A prominent counter-terrorism official has denounced this travesty. Thank goodness there are a few voices of conscience out there. Still, one appearance on a talk show doesn't equal the deluge of hype around this event...
(via XOverboard)

More missle nimrodery

Tom Tomorrow pithily summarizes my reaction to the recent "successful" missle intercept test:
They’ve been pouring billions into this project since before many of you were born. And they’re finally at a point that it might work, as long as it’s a nice sunny day and they have the enemy’s exact missile coordinates in advance.
Yippee. How's that port security coming?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday cats for a long weekend

Pasha and Pixel demonstrate ACM's plan for the long holiday weekend (barbeque excepted):

Pasha cleans her face
Cleaning and other household chores

Pixel curls for a nap
Napping and general relaxation

Tune in Tuesday to find out which To Do list actually won out! (or not...)

Lots more bengal-blogging fun (in reverse order) here: overheads, portraits, rest and romp, three-fer, snuggles5, doubles, power-napping, (return of themeless), (themeless), snuggles4, shower games, sun snuggles, sunbathing2, catnip!, twofers, sunbathers, posh lighting, treehouse, friends, snuggles2, more lounging, snuggles, Thanksgiving, cones, forms of love, lounging, more games, P&P wrestling

Poem of the day


We all begin
as unmarked trees
And we spend our lives
carving our initials
in one another.
- Linda Delayen
(via whiskey river)