Friday, December 21, 2007

Quote of the (next) week

cozy winter house
Good News; but if you ask me what it is, I know not;
It is a track of feet in the snow,
It is lantern showing a path,
It is a door set open.
- G.K. Chesterton
(via Rev Debby)

Holiday plans

I've managed to leverage 2.5 remaining vacation days into 10 days of work-free luxury, and I intend to enjoy it thoroughly, especially as such leisure will soon become very scarce. A couple projects in mind, some holiday celebratory activity, and altogether a good time. Of course, I always end up wishing I were a cat so I could just snuggle away the hours instead of all my other ideas . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Another reason the film studios may not want to delay

The writers are considering developing alternative outlets online, which could become powerful entertainment forces. I don't love watching media online, but I think that that sentiment is increasingly minority . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Serious leverage

film reelI was wondering how the writers' strike was going, since it seems to have faded a bit from the headlines (and inter-waves) since the holidays overtook us. But apparently there's still a big drama to play out: they may not allow either scripts to be composed or clips to be used at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes! (Both require waivers from the writers.) I can't imagine how the studios (and networks!) will finesse this one...

Moral and strategic foundering

I work for the Democratic Party, although in a tiny (and unpaid) capacity, so I guess I can't really give up on them completely, but otherwise I certainly agree with the spirit of this post by August. The Democratic majority in Congress has meant remarkably little in terms of the issues that the American people really care about, and it's becoming more and more frustrating. Leadership, anyone?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You're not speaking for me

An interesting example here of how the leadership of the evangelical movement is often more radical (or less well adapted to reality) than the bulk of actual followers, how little they seem to realize it (as opposed to, say, the Catholic Church, which began banging its head against the wall years ago), and how foolish they can look as a result.

Inspired summary

Atrios captures the essence of the three leading Democrats' campaigns:
Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.

Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.

Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.
donkey face-offToo funny.

(via Medley)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Less funny: How conservatives have lamed government

In a backlash against the perceived excesses of the "liberal elite," the conservatives trumpeted the value of dogma and heart, as though leaders without expertise would somehow create great success through sheer force of will. Well, not so much. Sadly, it will take quite some years to undo the damage that all those idiot appointments (and all their idiot decisions) have done to the functioning of our communal society.

Two funnies on parenthood

  • Apparently there was a period in the 18th century when it was trendy to look pregnant, to the point that women bought fake stomachs to complete their stylish attire. All I can think is this would only seem fun to somebody who hadn't been pregnant...

  • Meanwhile, one full-time stay-at-home dad recounts his need for a makeover, as the increased time at home, combined with a sort of sympathetic response to his kid's super-basic clothing needs, have caused him to regress on all fronts.
    Grooming myself has gotten to be like caring for an old house: as soon as you fix one thing, something else goes to hell.
    Heh heh. The vagaries of parenthood meet the vagaries of aging, perhaps...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quote for the weekend (take it easy edition)

stack of stones

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
– Susan Ertz
(via A Mindful Life)

Two selfless bits for Friday

  1. Dooce goes public again with the story of her mental health battles, largely with the hope that it might help others get past their pride/shame/barriers and get the medical care that they need. A touching story, and the dense comments thread shows how many still need the reminder.

  2. A group of Jews gets beat up for wishing some strangers on the subway a Happy Hannukah, and one of the few standing up for them is a Muslim student who just happened to be nearby. In this era, if any, it's particularly heartening to see caring human responses to fellow humans, of the sort that don't worry about who's wearing what hat.
    (via dailyKos)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Same as the old boss

Pope Benedict pronounces homosexuality a barrier to world peace. (It's all those nuclear gay families with their adopted kids that really wreck the place!) sigh.

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Learning by example

I've been among those righteously peeved at the revelation that the CIA destroyed a heap of tapes of its interrogations of suspected terrorists -- not least because such tapes could settle the matter of whether we were torturing detainees and/or whether we got any useful intelligence (doubtful). I'm also waiting for heads to roll on the destruction-of-evidence front. But today I felt my first shimmer of sympathy for the other possible motives behind the disposal of these tapes:
The agency watched Donald Rumsfeld, William Haynes and Ricardo Sanchez walk while Lynndie England and Charles Graner took the fall for Abu Ghraib. No one wants to be the Lynndie England of the Black Sites.
Yes, I think those who used excessive force should be held accountable, but it's true that smacking the rank and file for following orders isn't really the point; it's the higher-ups who said that such methods were OK that should be punished. (Impeachment for Rumsfeld/Cheney, anyone?) Setting agents up as scapegoat targets isn't really a win for the system.

(via Talking POints Memo)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fair weather fans

Yes, indeed -- the first thing to fall by the wayside when things aren't going as well as hoped...

Gizmodelic fun

vibrating braceletWow, I don't even carry a cell phone and yet I think this bracelet gizmo is pretty cool -- never miss a call because it's out of hearing/vibration range in your purse, backpack, or deep pocket...

What could possibly go wrong?

Huge numbers of independent contractors, somehow outside of both Iraqi and American law, working for long stretches in difficult circumstances with little oversight. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised by things like this (in addition to more high-profile incidents like the Blackwater shootings), but I'm appalled and disheartened.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Quote of the day

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
- Oscar Wilde,
writer (1854-1900)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Something to show for months of pain

Spouse and I innocently undertook some minor house renovations this fall -- replacing beat up bathroom fixtures and making a couple of closets more useful, as well as painting and recarpeting our second bedroom. I thought the contractors would take about a week, leaving us several weeks for painting and airing out of renovated rooms, but instead the project wore on and on, with workmen skipping some days and doing only a couple things on others, every surface requiring multiple coats of paint, and our time and energy being limited. So now it's 20 degrees outside and not looking good for fresh breezes to remove paint and carpet fumes, and we're ready to have the rest of the house (and our lives) back from all this.

Anyway, at least we're starting to have something to show for it. Here's the cuteness of the renovated bedroom/nursery, which was finally able to accept furniture (previously all over the house) this past weekend...

view from door
A glimpse from the door (including my childhood rocker).
Am pretty pleased with how all the disparate parts go together.

koi crib
Our cute crib vogues for the camera. (yay for Craig's List!)

wall with dressers
Here's the left wall, a little sparse at moment but showing signs of waves
(which will eventually be joined by some artsy fish) and radically repainted
dressers, the left of which will soon sport a changing pad/table on top.

Perhaps I'll spare you the crowing about improved office closets and so forth, but thought the cuteness of all this might have general appeal. Happy Friday, all!

Dangerous cuteness levels

This puppy is a heartbreaker. I want one.
(ok, maybe not anytime soon, but...)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Latest in a proud tradition

That is, once again the Bushies find it in their hearts to reward incompetence, this time lining up performance bonuses for the officials overseeing independent security contractors in Iraq, the ones accused of criminal lack of oversight and misbehavior on the ground... (Can a medal of honor be far behind?)

(via Talking Points Memo)

Wednesday giggle

Potter puppetA little video using Harry Potter hand-puppets. Not much more explanation than that, except the joy of randomness...

(via Alas, a blog)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Two for Tuesday

I seem to be a bit busy elsewhere, but these two stories are worth noting:
  1. The intelligence community seems in pretty good accord in reporting that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons program in 2003, meaning that the fearmongers are running on fumes. Of course, the neocons and Republican candidates have proven themselves unlikely to shift course in the face of facts...

  2. Ampersand notes that the immigration debates are missing a key point: that there is virtually no legal path for immigration of unskilled workers, despite the presence of hundreds of thousands of jobs that welcome them.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Time for some mental floss

Quite amused by this random simile generator -- I found myself making sense of even some of the oddest of them.

(via Twists and Turns)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In no way endearing!

!!Hillary Clinton hints that she would invite Colin Powell back to serve in her administration! Didn't he already sell the country out in order to satisfy the Bushies? I don't think he has any credibility left, at home or abroad. For whose benefit is Ms. Clinton emitting this drivel?

About time!

A group of scientists who specialize in adolescent sexual health have written a letter to Nancy Pelosi protesting Congress's (inexplicable) decision to *increase* funding for abstinence-only educational programs in the face of near-uniform evidence that they don't work and may put students at risk.

(via Echidne)

Poem of the day

Dancing in the Waiting Room

All our living
is in waiting.
In these moments
we find our myriad selves
anxious, hopeful, trembling,
wishful, fearful, impatient.
All our dancing shadows
are there
flitting in the half light
of unreason
crowding together
in fevers of movement
never still, never one.

Then a voice says 'Next'
and a new dance
by Angus Macmillan
(via Mind Hacks)

To each his own, I guess

busOn the side of a bus this morning:
Relentless pursuit of eye care
Sounds a little aggressive to me . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Auditory head-pats

Having a tough time with all the holiday obligations and over-work? Perhaps you need a little dose of purring cat. There there....

(via Cute Overload)

Another bit on parenting and the construction of gender

Really, everything I worry about and object to can be boiled down to this:
I don’t have a problem with baby dolls or with vehicles, but I do have a problem with proscriptive identities.
It's the layers of assumptions, projections, and raised eyebrows. Give me a break. (But really, read the whole post too.)

(blog found via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

On giving thanks

Obviously I was away for the holiday. Just bumped across this poem which seems apt for the season, so a belated offering to all . . .

(via Parent Dish)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A new kind of cold

empty bootsSoldiers who were injured during their second tours of duty (and thus, you know, couldn't complete them because of all the healing and physical therapy) are being asked to return part of their re-enlistment bonuses. As though they had slacked on their obligations. (More typical is that the VA slacks on its obligations...) Galling.

Fending off the idiots

I haven't been thrilled with every aspect of Harry Reid's leadership in the Senate, especially when it comes to holding the line on Iraq funding/deadlines, but he seems like a master of procedural tricks, including this plan to avoid a Thanksgiving recess and thus prevent Bush from sneaking another crappy candidate into office via recess appointment. The real shame here is that the Bushies have so little respect for the Constitution and its instructions that they try to work around Congress at every turn, but at least Reid isn't sitting still for it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Some kind of company

Talking Points Memo takes a look at Rudy Guiliani's choice of friends and advisors, and finds plenty to wonder about. (That's even without the scary neocon warmongers. whee!)

Respecting the men on the ground

Well, that recurrent phrase is about to be tested, as Pentagon leaders push back politically against Cheney and the right-wing nutter set...
The Pentagon has launched a preventive strike against a target that military chiefs presumably regard as one of the most active current threats to U.S. and world security—namely, the office of the vice president of the United States. Thrusting back hard against Vice President Dick Cheney’s warmongering, the head of U.S. forces in the Mideast declared that an attack on Iran "is not in the offing," and more or less urged the vice president and his political allies to shut up.
May cooler heads prevail in this diplomatic nightmare!

(via Follow Me Here)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sharing our wall with others

thumbnail of quiltThe quilt that had hung on our bedroom wall for the last year and a half or so has spent the last six weeks in Ohio at an exhibit of modern quiltwork. Sort of a pain to take it down, package it, and send it (insured!), so we may not do it again, but appreciate the work and the artist, so glad to have given both a little exposure as part of this show. Some nice pictures of the overall installation (and varied pieces) at the above link.

I may be off my dot, but I want a proper coffee...

Apparently a recent survey has ranked major cities by (caffienated) coffee consumption. Nobody's likely to be surprised that Seattle tops the list, but the notion that both New York and Philadelphia are among the lowest consumption did raise my eyebrows, given the ubiquity of coffee cups among commuters and the like. I guess the nation at large has shot up its consumption past my ability to judge, or maybe we East Coasters are decaf sippers.

(indirectly via Follow Me Here)

That other thing...

I'm not really talking much here about Speck, our experience of pregnancy, and so forth (although there is that ticker at the bottom of the page to track how much time is left). But it is a wacky trip and worth chronicalling, so I've set up a short-term place to document each week's new symptoms and events, called Now What?! A Grumpy Guide to Pregnancy. Posting is quite intermittant -- in fact, the first few months were put up in closely spaced batches based on notes taken along the way -- but if you're curious about how things are going (or what to expect, should you try this yourself), you can see how it went for me, anyway. Not at all what I would have expected...

pregnant profile

Update: link fixed to actually point to the blog. heh. (thanks, Jane!)

Daily Show lasers turned on Viacom

That is, another writers' strike story, but this one putting the management position into the absurdist light that it deserves. Is online content worth billions, or is it worthless? Apparently both. Watch the vid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Depressing in several ways

I can hardly comment on this story about the religious transformation of the air force academy, but feel it should be pointed out. It's wrong on so many levels -- against the history and philosophy of our country, tending to exclude or marginalize talented recruits, and helping support the worst kind of jingoism and crusading sentiment among our soldiers stationed abroad. Just the picture of the church/chapel gives me the shivers!

Quote/aphorism of the day

ZensoTwo monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was stung again. The other monk asked him, "Why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know its nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."

(via whiskey river)

If we're not fixing it, you can't either!!

Volunteers trying to help with clean-up of the San Francisco oil spill are being turned away or arrested. Our country is an increasingly strange place . . .

(via Follow Me Here)

The fate of TV shows

TVThe writers' strike has obviously already affected comedy and other topical shows, but will soon start to be noticeable in the regular TV schedule, depending on how many episodes of various programs were filmed ahead of time. Want to know when your favorites will grind to a halt? Watchers Watch provides the answers, in a convenient table. Some shows have just three or four original episodes remaining (meaning they'll close up shop in December), others have almost their entire planned season filmed (meaning they could come back just fine in late Jan.), and some which were planning a spring debut may be delayed in launching. If this strike doesn't settle soon, it could be a banner year for Netflix!


Monday, November 12, 2007


Beware the writer that goes on strike. It will be a time of no words . . .

(via Follow Me Here)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Demographics in action

Ampersand at Alas, a Blog offers us some looks at the make-up of the campaign staffs of the major Presidential candidates, as broken down by either gender or race. Interesting as measures of each candidate's awareness and/or comfort with a range of folks and, as Amp argues, of their likelihood of including a wide range of perspectives in their eventual administrations (especially the top positions, which are likely to go to senior campaign staffers). More grist for the mill . . .

What's it all about?

Been wondering about this writer's strike, which may soon cripple your favorite TV shows (and has immediately slain any topical humor like the Daily Show)? Here's a quick explanation that makes pretty clear why it's happening and why their demands are more than reasonable. Times have just passed by the agreements under which writers have been working for ages . . .

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hack, hack

Was out "working" the election yesterday (where the scare-quotes indicate the lameness of my presence, even for the few hours I managed), and am home sick today, trying not to cough up a lung. Meh. More later, as impulse suggests and energy allows.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Well, that's a depressing twist

At the forefront of the green movement is a transition to biofuels, which burn cleaner and remain more renewable than reliance on oil. However, it turns out that the new market for biofuels materials is creating counter-productive movements in the third world, with critical forests getting burned to clear land for the marketable plants.

We need to find a way to put international value on the maintenance of forests that our global climate depends so critically on. Otherwise, we can't blame folks for trying to make a living where they are -- but we may need to rethink our rush to biofuels to prevent more destruction!

(via kottke)

Quote of the day

This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.
– Dorothy Parker
(via A Mindful Life)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday anticipation blogging

Too much time doing Google research on baby schwag. Anyway, had a brief period of dreading the onslaught of pink flowers/princesses or blue trucks/sports crap, and then found a couple of little clothing items that were happy and cheerful and didn't make me want to puke. So yay!

koi onesie

Um, is it Friday yet? Have I survived the three weeks of incessant contractor mess-making (and only incremental -- yeah, Xeno-like -- progress)? woot!! Bring on a heap of painting!!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A little fan flip-out moment

Joss!Apparently Joss Whedon has a deal with Fox for at least seven episodes of a new TV show starring Eliza Dushku! Sort of psychological and science fictiony all at once. Whoot!

Joss, on TV again! whoot some more!

(via GirlHacker)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Three for Wednesday

Again, less time than ambition . . .
  • One would wish this didn't need clarification, but apparently it does (even to would-be Attorneys General): waterboarding is torture. Explained by one who's been there.

  • Picking up a Republican meme and running off a cliff with it, Giuliani proves he's a nutjob (to those for whom his authoritarian tendencies and fascination with warmaking aren't enough).

  • In the Department of Good News, a new antidote for malnutrition, that keeps well, is inexpensive, and children like. Spiff!

Dem. debate

Once again, well summarized by the video clippers of Talking Points Memo. A good sense of the arguments that were made, the dynamics among the candidates, etc., all in ten minutes rather than 90...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pet costumes

The trend in pet costumes has gotten a bit out of hand, especially for dogs. But then I saw this adorable pig-o-saur and relented my judgemental ways . . .
Happy Halloween!

I'm really off my game

Have been hanging onto these for an age in honor of Spouse's next decade-marking birthday, and then on Friday I forgot! But they're hardly less amusing this week . . .

baby Rob
little kid Rob
what a cute baby!
what a head of hair!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two for Monday

  • Here's an interesting article arguing that lower crime rates are related to the clean-up of lead in the environment over the last several decades. Fairly convincing (and odd-feeling).
    (via Follow Me Here)

  • Why Internet/netiquette familiarity is increasingly important: an email screw-up outs the email addresses of a heap of whistle-blowers to one another and probably to the White House. Nice work there.
    (via Talking Points Memo)

Today's randomness

I love the Internet, particularly the crazy individualists who can make humor from even the mundane details of a pizza delivery option. The level of inspiration here is caught well in this excerpt:pizza slice
Unfortunately it was too late for me to call and request that someone come back to my house to rotate the pizzas and re-position my beef pellets.
Every day has its inconveniences . . .

(via dailyKos)

Friday, October 26, 2007

For Spouse (turning 40)

If a man should importune me to give a reason why I loved him, I find it
could no otherwise be expressed, than by making answer: because it was he,
because it was I.
- Michel de Montaigne,
essayist (1533-1592)
(via A.W.A.D)

It is something — it can be everything — to have found a fellow bird with whom you can sit among the rafters while the drinking and boasting and reciting and fighting go on below.
– Wallace Stegner
(via A Mindful Life)

Wait, standards?!

Senate Democrats may expect the would-be Attorney General to answer their questions before they rubber stamp confirm him. What's up with that?

The power of choice

Wow, was just pointed to this article which is a fantastic summary of the seismic changes wrought on our society by the introduction of available birth control and the freedoms it offered. [Really, read the whole thing.] Exactly the opposite of what the Religious Right would have you believe, the result has been lower divorce rate, happier relationships, less poverty, more involved fathers, and greater valuing of family relationships by all involved. It's almost as though -- gasp -- feminism had been a good thing over the last 50-60 years!

(via Alas, via Pandagon)

Update: I should include this commentary by Mandolin, as well:
When "family values" are a code word for the religious right, they really have nothing to do with increasing the value and health of the family. They have to do with reinforcing the patriarchal model of family. If so-called "family values" proponents were actually concerned with the health of families (which include women as well as children and fathers), the conversation about family would look very different than it does now.
Yes -- the moralizing often leads to policies that have exactly the opposite effect from what they profess to want, indicating either that facts don't interest them, or that their actual agenda is different from their stated one.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Adventures in Produce X: Final flurry

The final batch. Not shown is a pot of mums that we got as thanks for our support...

pumpkin and green veggies
A small pumpkin (fate still undetermined), some radiccio, bok choi
by another name, and mesclun greens.

potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery and carrots
More potatoes, sweet potatoes (that went into a curried Indian recipe),
celery, and carrots (two colors).

cabbage, squash, apples'
A large cabbage, butternut squash (which made my mother happy
during her recent visit), and a heap of apples.

This has been a hectic couple of weeks, so not sure we'll make usual good use of all of this stuff before it goes off. But trying! I particularly want to do something tasty with the cabbage...

Quote of the day

All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.
– Sean O’Casey
(via A Mindful Life)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Three for today

Three stories I didn't get time to deal with properly today:Tomorrow: final batch of produce from our great Organic Adventure!

Yes, that's it precisely

What I feel like this week is this. That is all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Never let facts get in the way!

Christian fishThere goes another right-winger, claiming that our nation's Founders were all Bible-beaters, quite in contradiction to everything we know about the actual men involved. There's no threat that Christianity is about to vanish, kids; keeping it out of governmental affairs, however, is a longstanding philosophical stance.

Our proud, free democracy

A little review of what it takes to coerce a false confession, in this case to participation in the actual 9/11 attacks. And how quickly the facts can undermine that confession -- too bad there aren't such easy concrete things for the Guantanamo inmates to point to (one way or the other).

It all makes me so proud. We're such a beacon to the world these days.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It bodes well for raising attention, anyway

Global warming threatens a striking number of the world's largest cities:
Of the 33 cities predicted to have at least 8 million people by 2015, at least 21 are highly vulnerable, says the Worldwatch Institute.
From Bangladesh to Tokyo and New York, these are cities who are likely to clamor for interventions, although if they wait until waters are lapping their outer-belt roads, it won't be the kind of intervention that really helps anybody...

(via boing boing)

Going to extremes

Wouldn't want to empower women to walk on the street (or fight societal tolerance for rape), if instead you can give them elaborate (absurdist?) ways to camoflage themselves when nervous. I mean, dress up as a vending machine?!?

Friday, October 19, 2007

What he said

I'll just let Duncan express my thoughts:
As Glenn Greenwald keeps saying over and over again, the Washington conventional wisdom is that spying on Americans without warrants and locking them up indefinitely without charges are the Very Serious Positions. torn American flagThis is a deeply sick political culture in a deeply corrupt and deeply sick city, composed of people who have turned their backs on everything most of us grew imagining this country stood for, and it's important to support and be inspired by those who "dare" to stand up for what we all thought were American values.
Yes. The few, the barely audible . . .

All the fake news that's fit to watch...

Comedy Central has set up a dedicated Daily Show website, complete with [wait for it] eight years of archives! whoot!! Let the fun times begin...

(via Some Guy With a Website)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dodd is becoming my hero

In addition to taking outspoken positions on the Iraq war and a variety of timely issues, pushing his fellow Presidential candidates toward the right stances, he is now standing alone against the egregious plans by the Senate to give immunity to the telecom companies who mindlessly gave the Bushies your personal information during a wave of post-9/11 fascism security panic.

(via Eschaton)

This just tickles my funnybone

Conceptual Terrorists Encase Sears Tower In Jell-O


One small step for de-fuddling the masses

confused travelerThe New York Department of Transportation is introducing sidewalk compass markings outside of subway exits, so that fuddled tourists can determine not only which way is north, but which direction leads to the adjacent streets (in case they don't know whether Lex is west or east), etc. Inspired! The maps inside the subways have already helped newcomers find their way around, but it's still easy to emerge from a random exit with no idea which way you're facing, etc., and this should put everybody on a more secure footing. (Of course, some friends of mine would disparage such efforts to make New York too user-friendly, but their parochial era might be ending!)

(via kottke)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Three quick links

Combination of contractor craziness with family visitors means I can barely keep my day in line, so no time to give these what they deserve:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quote of the day

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt,
32nd US President (1882-1945)
(via A.W.A.D.)

Inspired (comic relief)

The Onion does it again: Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

(via kottke)

Monday, October 15, 2007

The more things change...

femsignAn ad campaign that appears to be supportive of women other than anorexic models is actually offering them merely a parallel spot in the world of objectification and misogyny. I mean, I know it's a bra ad, but this is just embarrassing... Anyway, Mandolin captures the essential issue well here:
We as feminists should be deeply skeptical of a culture that offers absolution to fat women by granting them a shadow of the objectification which plagues skinny women.
. . .
Either way, women lose. We lose when we’re harrassed. We lose when we’re not harrassed. We’re objects of sex, or we’re objects of disgust. Either way, our sexuality is framed around the imagined desires of a "default" male. Allowing fat women to be sexually objectified is far from ideal — it is not a radical movement that will lead toward women’s equality.
There is power in the de-stigmatizing of fatness, but that's still a long way from a simple recognition of humanity...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today's nutshell summary

Paul Krugman neatly summarizes the hate-fest that conservative pundits and bloggers have launched against a kid who stood up to defend the importance of SCHIP. He also makes clear how baseless their froth is, and really gets down to the heart of why all this is so troubling.
All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they’re “phony soldiers”; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he’s faking his Parkinson’s symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he’s a fraud.
. . .
Even if you think adults have made bad choices — a baseless smear in the case of the Frosts, but put that on one side — only a truly vicious political movement would respond by punishing their injured children.
Uh, yeah, that seems obvious to those of us watching on the wings... Sigh.

(via Hullaballoo)

Adventures in produce IX: Clearly it's fall now

I'm posting this two full weeks after we got this stuff, so project yourself back to the end of September...

greens, tomatoes, pears

From left, rutabaga tops (yeah, I don't know either), escarole (in large bag), edamame (in small bag), "slicing tomatoes," and small pears. We've decided that we don't like these bitter lettuces (especially not in quantity), but the rest is yummy.

apples, potatoes, squash

(More of the pears, plus) A bag of apples, a bag of potatoes (becoming a mainstay), some red onions, and two spaghetti squash. This last item is one for which I have a great malevolance stemming from childhood, but Spouse tried some with spaghetti sauce and enjoyed it. The other is awaiting a sneakier recipe . . .

Wait, they *believe* this stuff?!

Some Republicans are finding themselves surprised by the sources of opposition to their screw-the-children stance on the SCHIP funding issue -- most recent is Catholics United, who frame it in a pro-life way:
"Building a true culture of life requires public policies that promote the welfare of the most vulnerable," said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. "At the heart of the Christian faith is a deep and abiding concern for the need of others. Pro-life Christians who serve in Congress should honor this commitment by supporting health care for poor children."
The basis for this argument could easily be seen as being merely Biblical compassion, except that that doesn't push the political buttons that invoking the term "pro-life" activates. Still, I suspect conservatives weren't expecting a challenge from the right, because they sometimes forget that there are people for whom such arguments are more than cant, representing deep guidelines for how life is to be lived . . .

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Looking backward

lovely thoughtsFound this little thought exercise meme on Medley, and it seemed worth a shot:

20 Years Ago, I... was in the middle of college, dating my now-Spouse (we went our separate ways for a decade thereafter), working hard but loving it (and playing quite a bit of bridge).

15 Years Ago, I... was in graduate school, fairly new in my eventual thesis lab, enjoying the inexpensive and varied lifestyle available for little money in St. Louis. mmmm, live music!

10 Years Ago, I... had been living in Philadelphia for a year, so was starting to find my place here. I was working as a post doc at UPenn, feeling very alienated from the grimly factionalized atmosphere there, and taking solace in some great non-science pals. Was editing and publishing a haiku journal (as well as playing bridge again).

5 Years Ago, I... had left science, decided to stay in Philadelphia, and bought a house. I was contemplating the scary prospect of suggesting to Spouse that we consider a renewed romantic involvement...

2 Years Ago, I... was married, in a new house, and enjoying the company of some spotty dotty bengal kittens.

1 Year Ago, I.... was trying pretty hard to achieve parenthood (to no avail), going to my first pre-election meetings as an elected Committeeperson, looking ahead to a wintry trip to Yellowstone.

So far this year, I've... turned 40, rented a beach house with a pile of friends, travelled around North Carolina from shore to mountains, survived a combative mayoral primary, and created the spark of a new life.

Yesterday, I... stayed up too late playing a silly game, only to find my head was too busy with house overhaul plans to get a good night's sleep. bah.

Today, I... have been something of a powerhouse at work, helped by the combination of online radio and an array of semi-mindless tasks at hand. I hope to survive a game of racquetball on so little sleep.

Tomorrow, I'll... be unbelievably glad that it's Friday! Hopefully I'll post the next-to-last batch of produce photos, get a good chunk of work done, and then collapse in a heap at home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thugs indeed

Hunter on dailyKos has a well-placed rant about the right-wing movement and its no-holds-barred way of tarring and feathering chosen liberals (or even hapless victims), whether it's knowingly spreading lies and distortions or publishing a family's home address so other crazies can harrass them everywhere they go.
It's long past time for people to stop treating Fox-style, Malkin-style, Limbaugh-style conservatism as merely a "political" phenomenon. It may once have been, but it isn't now. As of this millennium, it's nothing but a hate movement with neckties.
[bolding mine] How this is in any way acceptable (or even non-criminal) is inconceivable to me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Poem of the day (for Aurora)

The graves of cats are not like
those of dogs or parakeets.
They have been slipped out of

a day or maybe two
after you packed the dark dirt
with the long-handled shovel.

Now as you play with the child
or drink a beer beside the stream
while the swallows skim the wheat,

the cats as though from under the table
stretch and slide past roots
and fallen leaves, and not a blade

of grass disturbed, not a worm,
except at the corner of your eye
there’s a small shift of direction

in the alfalfa, and for a moment
the evening preens and stares
in a way you almost call by name.
–Harry Humes
(via A Mindful Life)


ACK!!Are there really people who still think that the Republicans are best to look after our national security? Even in light of headlines like this one?
White House leaked classified info to FOX News, tipped off al Qaeda to secret surveillance, destroyed year-long spy effort
It makes me want to bite somebody . . .

(via kos)

Update: This summary seems about right:
What can you say? When your entire foreign policy expertise is based on leaking information to Fox News in order to keep the population in a constant state of low-level fear, sometimes you have to blow actual intelligence information in order to do it. Them's the breaks.
Sigh. We don't have any such intelligence to spare . . .

Monday, October 08, 2007

Action alert

Man, I'm squozen between morning doctor appointments and after-work meetings, so blogging likely to be light until midweek. Meantime, take action on the push to overturn Bush's SCHIP veto -- Bitch, Ph.D. gives you all the links and info. here so you can pester your representatives or those nearby. We need to cover more of our kids, not cut some of them loose!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fond associations

Sometimes you can know in your head that you like something, but forget that you really mean it until you bump across the thing again or have your associations stirred. That by way of saying that hearing just this short musical clip reminded me of how much I liked the Firefly series (and, by extension, the movie Serenity), the grittiness, the characters, the struggle. Barely enough to whet one's appetite, that CD set, but apparently enough to sink some roots deep into my unconscious.

Serenity logo

Bunny toes!

It's been a while since I've endangered my readers with cute, but this is serious business.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

We loves us some folksiness!

Fred Thompson is actually a bit embarrassing, in a Reagan joke way, and he's still trying to establish his credibility. I mean, I think somebody running for "leader of the free world" (such as it is) should know that the Soviet Union is a thing of the Way Past . . .

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Poem of the day

ensoThese old days - I wonder,
did I dream them
or were they real?
In the night I listen
to the autumn rain
- Ryokan Taigu
(via whiskey river)

So clear even a child can see it...

Bitch, Ph.D. has (and shares) some really remarkable conversations with her (kindergarten-aged) son about individuality, the senselessness of strict gender expectations, and all kinds of other great stuff, in everyday terms. The latest one is here and just blew me away. I can't really find a part to excerpt, since it's a dialogue, so just go check it out. [And the video at the end is killer too.] I aspire to having such open and empathetic discussions with my child someday.

So proud...

When you look at the list of Bush's four vetoes, it's quite a line-up. A true representative of the people, this fella'...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Heartening moves in the House

Well, I'd begun to think that all of Congress was abdicating responsibility on the Iraq war, but apparently not:
  1. The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee says he won't allow war funding bills to come to a vote until they have some basic assurances that there's plan for withdrawel. Not everything one might want, but a bold start to potentially bigger things.

  2. Meanwhile, two House Democrats are going to raise the issue of supplementary taxes to fund the current war appropriation -- such a thing was done during WWII and Vietnam. No chance of passage, but it gets the question of fiscal responsibility (and the scale of war wastage) into the ongoing discussion.
Go, team!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Quote of the day

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.
– Jean Cocteau
(via A Mindful Life)

Well, whaddya know!

slice of birthday cakeLooks like this crazy blog-tube-thing is three years old! Tinges of outrage exhaustion around the edges, perhaps, but seemingly in no danger of giving up. In fact, I'm holding out for the tide to turn, the nation to redeem itself! Party on!

We lead, you follow!

When I heard that conservatives were starting a new group as "an answer to MoveOn," I immediately thought Ah! another top-down propaganda machine! And how, exactly is that an answer to a group with millions of members, that actually takes surveys in advance of particular strategic choices, and which is guided by public sentiment? hmmm...

Well, turns out that it's more than just a New Playground for Big Spenders in the wingnut world: "Freedom's Watch" is made up of current and former Washington insiders, and particularly of Cheney's circle, agitating for action in Iran. So it's actually just a parallel mouthpiece for the establishment (government, media, pundits) that's already leading us in a set of directions we don't want to go. What innovation!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday glamor shot

A little shot of Pixel basking in the bar of morning light that comes into our bedroom (and often attracts an array of flopped felines)...

Pixel in light and shadow
Have a good weekend, y'all!

Strange product of the day

Simultaneously hilarious and creepy -- the ultimate hand soap...

(via boing boing)

Invisible money-suck

gas nozzleA dailyKos diarist has an interesting way of looking at the real price of gas, factoring in the amount that we spend for defense and security related to the Mideast sources, not to mention the loss of the more productive ways those dollars might have been spent. Looks like we're paying an amazingly steep tax, but it's just not applied at the pump.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Kyl-Lieberman amendment

TPM TV has really become a great resource for keeping track of complicated stories developing on the national scene, with Josh Marshall laying out the sequence of events, summarizing documents, showing clips of testimony. Not every episode has that focus, but yesterday's was a great completion to my Tuesday rant about whether we were going to roll our way into Iran via amendments to other legislation. Turns out that the offending amendment received some substantial revisions, taking out some of the worst parts, but the final version, passed overwhelmingly, still raises some concerns. Watch the summary here.

Best of pals

BAGnewsNotes does a great job of unraveling a picture and story in the Washington Post which attempts to help establish Hillary Clinton as the inevitable Democratic nominee and recipient of George Bush's blessing. Most critical here is that the photo accompanying the (odd) piece was six years old -- totally mislead your readers much?


Adventures in produce VIII: Strange mix of seasons

Ok, I've been getting a sense of the seasonality of produce from this undertaking. That is, until this time...

daikon, sweet potatoes, et al.
Ok, we start with sweet potatoes (in the bag) and daikon radish (white). A smattering of small ("stuffing") peppers. But wait, Swiss chard? Didn't we get that in week 1?

tomatoes and watermelon
More tomatoes (regular in bag, and heirloom out of it), redleaf lettuce, another watermelon. (Isn't it September? Well, some folks got apples...) We also got a bag of potatoes, which I guess I couldn't be bothered to photograph this week.


How many years into this Iraq war business are we? Four? Apparently nobody ever told military commanders how to handle contracters working with/for/against them, especially when they misbehave. Military rules? Civilian justice? Pure Wild West no-holds-barred shoot-em-up ok? (I think the answer speaks for itself.)

Democratic parade

donkeys go head to headFor anybody who, like me, missed last night's Democratic candidates' debate, TPM has a pithy roundup of the highs and lows.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wow -- just... wow

Springwater companies, not content with selling us rebottled tap water at high prices and environmental cost, take a leap into the surreal by selling pre-packaged ice cubes -- that is, their magic water in little ice trays, that you can freeze for yourself. Because that $1 ice tray is just too much to face. Capitalism at its finest, folks.

(via Alas, a blog)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Headed down that same %$#@! road . . .

That is, apparently an amendment today (co-sponsored by Lieberman, of course) is the first step in laying the groundwork for intervention in Iran. EEeeesh. Has no one the spine to say, Not again?!

Well, Jim Webb stepped up. I'm not clear whether the vote has happened yet though.

Due to be kept back a year...

A little video report card on the Bush Administration's job performance with respect to "homeland" security -- after all, they've had six years to put everything right, right?


Another reason not to rely on cell phones

Big Brother's all-seeing eyeThe government can now get a retroactive warrant for all of your movements, using your cellphone as a tracking device, and the standard of evidence for such a warrant is lower than usual because this is "historic" not "live" tracking. I'm sure that will make us all sleep much better at night.

(via boing boing)

Stupid kids

Well, the first big veto showdown is likely to come over the renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is widely popular in Congress (and the nation) but apparently stands in the way of Bush's larger plans to further wreck the national health system get adults to use more private insurance. There might just be enough umph to override a veto on this one, but the pressure is likely to be heavy. (Insurance-industry funders might be even more important to the Bushies than military contractors!)

Meanwhile, below the radar, the White House is up to other rape-the-nation games, this time requesting that the Everglades be removed from the endangered list of UN World Heritage sites (see also here). NPR speculated that Bushies were trying to "erase a black eye" from the nation's conservation record, but surely that's a wishful explanation. I'd guess that hungry developers or nearby farmers would like more leave to trample the wetlands for their own benefit.

These guys sure know how to look after the country's needs, eh?

Update: wow! even the health/insurance industry backs this bill! Bush is really off in the deep end on this one!

Wait, maybe things *aren't* going swell in Iraq?

Thomas Friedman, famous (and widely mocked) for saying over and over that "these next six months" (measured from any current moment) would determine the future of Iraq, now says we're out of time. Welcome to reality space-time, Thomas!!

(via Atrios)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sure, we live in a post-racist world

racesLatest RNC attack is that Obama is too intellectually lazy to be President. Lazy black folk, always laying around the porch... wait, who's that current feller setting records for vacation taken in office (during a war, no less)? Oh yes, it's ok if you're (white and) a Republican!

Not a pretty sight.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In case you're wondering what it's all about

Seen the coverage of demonstrations in support of "the Jena 6"? Heard they were accused of murder, which was then lowered to battery, and unsure why this is a civil rights cause? MissLaura at dailyKos does a good job of summarizing the background to these arrests, in which white students using racial intimidation were given wrist-slaps while the reponding black students were charged with crimes...
What took place in Jena is not aberrant; it's consistent. The details are a local disgrace. The broader themes are a national scandal. Jim Crow Jr. travels well--unencumbered by historical baggage.
Worth a read just to realize that we're not all operating in the same century all the time...

Rudy iffy on First Amendment

Thinks that "there are lines that shouldn't be crossed" in speaking one's opinion of politics and political figures. And, you know, those lines are just this side of thought or criticism.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Forget the poor and tired; we don't even want the talented and harmless

This story makes me feel a bit ill -- a UK citizen, longtime US resident, and college music professor is detained after a research trip, has her visa ripped up, and is sent "home" with no explanation of why she was considered a Person of Concern.
"They told me I was nobody, I was nowhere and I had no rights," she said. "For the first time, I understood what the deprivation of liberty means."
The passage of over a year, the intervention of the British consulate, and the pleas of her professional society (and her fiance) have all done nothing to advance her case. America, the walled fortress; makes one so proud...

(via boing boing)

Today's pithy quote

gender mash
Interviewer: Do you see the world through the prism of gender?

Gloria Steinem: No, the world looks at me through the prism of gender.
(via Echidne of the Snakes)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Getting to the heart of books?

A wonderful take on books, via artistic defacement: Brian Dettmer's Book Autopsies. Fantastic, both those that reveal illustrations and those showcasing mostly text -- I want one! wow.

(via boing boing)

Ohmygoodness -- addictive and educational!

snip from start screenI am almost speechless in the face of this brilliance: Statetris, a variant of Tetris that involves dropping the states into their correct locations (more difficult = having to rotate them too, or having no labels). Inspired, inspired. Need more torment? try other parts of the world . . .

(via kottke)

Sometimes the nicest people surprise you

That is, who knew there was deep civil strife in Belgium?? Enough that there's serious talk about partition, which might already be underway except for the difficult question of who gets Brussels. No, really.

Shiny new leaves

For anyone who's nervously contemplating a career change, Bob Harris has some reassurance...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cat kabuki

Our cats have all kinds of ritualized interactions, which often involve full minutes of gradual paw raising, sometimes ending with that (and a back-down) and other times proceeding into a mutual head-whap fest (the last recourse of fierce but clawless cats). It looks like dominance behavior, although there's little question anymore about who rules the roost, so there must be more to it. I wish I could get video to show how slowly the early steps go by . . .

the first raised paw

Here Pixel approaches with *slowly* raising paw.
Yogi waits to see whether that's the end of it.

Yogi whapping

As you can see, Pixel proceeded to put a foot on the tree, and Yogi responds with some whapping from her superior position.

Pixel prepares a return whap

Now we're past kabuki into mutual whapping. Yogi is a premium hisser, but she's liable to back down when it's no longer worth the hassle . . .

Monday, September 17, 2007


There have been some awkward political self-revelations this summer, but the most painful thing I've seen is this video of John McCain denying reality, contradicting testimony he elicited, and generally showing either a huge detachment from the real world or an immersion in spin so deep that he no longer knows where he stands. Either way, I hope he gets out of this race -- I, for one, can't take anymore...

Fighting back

This sort of story gives me hope: after bullies beat up a kid for wearing a pink shirt, two classmates initiated a counter-campaign in which some half of the student body showed up in pink tank tops. The bullies were furious, but the message got through. Pretty impressive for highschool students; I hope their parents are proud as heck.


Friday, September 14, 2007

The next front

This writer speaks a lot for me, and how I hope that our children (mine and those of my peers) can be raised to be thoughtful and creative individuals, unconstrained by the narrow expectations of their (or my) grandparents' era. I anticipate that my having such a goal will lead to a nontrivial degree of conflict with the expectations of family, school, and the broader society, but change can only happen where one lives . . .

Quote of the day

If you are going through hell, keep going.
Winston Churchill
(on the back of the label of my bottle of Honest Tea)

Edwards interview(s)

For those still weighing their options among the Democratic Presidential candidates (and I count myself as one), I recommend this two-part interview with John Edwards conducted over at Talking Points Memo. It is largely focused on foreign policy and Iraq, and Edwards says some good things about the need for long-term international cooperation in controlling terrorism, about how the Senate should be handling Bush's funding requests ("no timetable, no funding"), and about his analysis of the situation on the ground in Iraq (present and looking ahead). The interview is interspersed with some clips from Edwards' speech given the same day, to flesh out his views on some of these points, and he also ruminates a bit on how his candidacy is different from the other candidates' and from his own in 2004. Good information; I hope that the TPM folks will try to track down Obama and Clinton as well.

Update: it's also worth reading this post at dailyKos, which compares some foreign policy white papers written by Edwards and Obama (and also, so far, by Guiliani and Romney). Heartening flashes of reality there, and even some inspiration. Some of my favorite quotes:
In the Islamic world and beyond, combating the terrorists' prophets of fear will require more than lectures on democracy. We need to deepen our knowledge of the circumstances and beliefs that underpin extremism. (Obama)

Rather than alienating the rest of the world through assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience, as the current administration has done, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by a strategy of reengagement.(Edwards)
Again, will be interesting to see Hillary's contribution to this discussion.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Intriguing mystery

a metal barThe "reference kilogram" kept in Paris for standardization of weights and measures is gradually losing mass when compared with other copies:
"The mystery is that they were all made of the same material, and many were made at the same time and kept under the same conditions, and yet the masses among them are slowly drifting apart," he said. "We don't really have a good hypothesis for it."
I can't imagine a chemical explanation -- perhaps we're not meant to have a perfect representation of mass . . .