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!!