Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bad all over

Hi. I'm on vacation. Sure, I miss blogging, but not so much that I'm likely to post again before next Monday. You'll all live. Anyway, two things:

1) There's been a terrible tsunami, many people need help. The NYT has a list of how you can do it. I'm a fan of the Red Cross, but hey, pick a charity, any charity, I won't fuss about it. And yes, I gave them some money. I'm like that.

2) Even if someone puts comments on my site that I abhor beyond all reason, as long as they stop short of disturbing violent images describing how they'll commit my murder, I'm going to leave them up. You can go ahead and disagree with me vehemently, I'm leaving the evidence up for all to see. Although I will do my best to mock you and your reasons for not believing the same way I do. It's my blog, after all.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Wait - strike that, reverse it

Over at The Moderate Voice, Joe Gandleman has a piece that doubts the convenient timing of Rumsfeld's visit to Iraq. Honestly, while I think he's more than capable of doing something just to exploit people, I believe that he had the Christmas trip planned in advance, and being able to exploit the attack on the mess hall angle is just an unplanned bonus.

In the news this morning, though, I find Rumsfeld Tells U.S. Troops in Iraq They Can Win. It contains feel-good messages like this one:
He said: "This is a tough situation here in Iraq. It is dangerous, people are being wounded, people are being killed."
Oh, my sweet fannie. It's a tough situation in the country WHERE WE DECLARED WAR.

But wait, wait, I hate when I do this, and I do it every time. I had a point about the article's title - didn't we already declare that we'd won this war? You know, the whole "captured Saddam, toppled his statue" thing? You mean the war's still going on? Is that why all those poor soldiers are being killed? Well this makes a lot more sense, now!

If everyone supposedly wants peace on earth, then why are we still killing each other?

Merry Christmas, all you Christian-type readers.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Repeating myself some more

You know, today I just want to rant about torture. I made a comment at Brilliant at Breakfast the other day that torture is *never* OK, and I got jumped on. I was told that I can't make sweeping statements like that, and given an example that if someone had kidnapped and hidden my child that I'd want to keep torture open as an option in order to save my kid.

Well, you know what? No I don't. No I wouldn't. Torture is wrong, and just because I'm being wronged doesn't OK its use. I'm talking about TORTURE people! Not interrogation, I'm talking about unreasonable cruelty, the kind that can make you actually insane. "An anguish of body or mind", "a punishment for the purpose of coercion or sadistic pleasure". This is NOT something that "the good guys" do.

In a world lacking a reputation for kindness to strangers, there needs to be people who hold themselves up to a higher standard than the rest. Maybe the goal is too lofty, maybe it's unattainable, but without reaching for the sky, you're never going to make any of the steps along the way, and those steps are important. We need to hold ourselves to these high standards, and realize that torture is beyond the pale. Monstrous people stoop to that level, and we should never lower ourselves that way. There used to be a country that held themselves up to these standards, achieving them or not, it was the published goal. That country was the U.S. A. We stood for freedom, and human rights. It seems that things have changed these days, but I want to shout out right now that I never signed up for that change. I swear by everything I hold dear, we should NOT have a government that sanctions torture under any circumstances. People who commit acts like this should be punished, arrested, and denied freedoms that they would have enjoyed as people who obey the laws of the land. Documents authorizing this behavior is unacceptable to me. Unacceptable.

I didn't think that the 2 people who wanted to discuss the fact that "never" was too strong a word to use affected me this deeply, but it seems they did.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Show some respect

Settlers Compare Gaza Pullout to Holocaust

It seems that a group of settler activists in the Gaza strip are protesting the pull-out. OK, I get it, you live there, it's your home, and now the government is saying that you don't have the *right* to love there any more, that they've given your land to another nation. Well, that would make me pretty upset, too. I see the reason for the protest, but I protest the method of the protest. Seems these people have taken it into their head that in order to show their dissent, they should wear holocaust-style orange stars on their clothing. Hold it right there, fellas, that's where you've crossed the line.
"The plan to wear orange stars perverts the historical facts and damages the memory of the Shoah," said Yad Vashem's director Avner Shalev, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust. He urged the settlers to refrain from using the stars.
I have to agree. What are these people thinking, that they could violate a solemn memory like that? You can't go around waving Nazi symbols as a sign that you dispute any old process as unfair. Even if it means that you have to move out of your home, because the land you live on is being given to another country in a border dispute, it's just not the same. The Israeli government is nothing like the Nazi party, using a symbol that invokes that memory is disrespectful and cruel.

I'm begging you

William Rehnquist, please, please, please try and hold on to your health for another 4 years. Please, don't step down. I don't care if you slow the Supreme Court down a million times over, I just need to know that Bush isn't going to be the one to put someone new in your seat.

I know, I know, it's a pipe dream, and a hideously selfish one at that. But really, reading this post over at Running Scared makes me feel... worried. I despair of a future in which the less permissive half of the country manages to force the more permissive half to bend to their will.

One of the main reasons that I call myself a liberal is that I don't feel that we, as humans, have the right to dictate how other people live, love or worship. I'm not anti-law, I believe that harming others is wrong, but when someone believes something that doesn't hurt anyone else, well, that's their business. I know, I know, you've read these words from me before. But if you allow people to choose their own path, there's nothing that says that they can't follow the path of conservatism. If you're anti-abortion, no one forces you to have one. If you're anti-profanity, you're not tied to a chair in front of your TV with your eyes help open and "Cinemax Late Night" played on an endless loop before you. Even if your against mild titillation, no one tunes your TV to "Desperate Housewives" against your will. There's no one who says that you can't have churches, or personal Christmas trees, or kosher food, or AA meetings that talk about a higher power. All these things are available to choose, even amongst all of us that choose to live like heathens.

Making only one set of choices available seems uncharitable to me. Uncharitable, and unamerican.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Quest for Intelligence Life

New Phase Begins in Push to Reorganize Intelligence

Looks like we actually have to have someone in charge of the new intellegence agencies, and that the President has to support this person, What a surprise! Give me a break, some of the things mentioned in this article make me wonder why I just wasted the brain power to comprehend those words. In fact, all of it seems superfluous to me.
The director's office is one of several bureaucracies created under the bill. The others include a National Counterterrorism Center, which will serve as a governmentwide clearinghouse on terrorist threats; a National Counterproliferation Center, which will oversee the government's efforts to halt the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and the technology to make them; and a board to police against abuses of civil liberties and privacy.
We needed specific agencies for these things? What in the world was wrong with the idea of divisions in the agencies that already existed? We couldn't have terrorism and couterproliferation (that is *such* a mouthful) departments of the CIA, the FBI, the military? OK, maybe not the military, as we all know that they're way overtaxed. But why whole new entities? So Bush could feel like he was the one who got to create the "good guys"?

It seems odd to me, is all I'm saying. Like squid ice cream.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Holy Cow am I busy! Can't blog now, and I'm really sorry.

Luckily, you have the rest of the whole blogosphere to hold you over.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Jews, read the Hanukkah post ( 2nd one down) and rejoice! Rejoice in non-sequential mystic lore references! Lore which doesn't come from a single recognized source in out religion, and yet, all the coolest amongst us know about it. It's like a rave site for kabbalists!

Hanukkah, wie er in die Welt kam

Things I didn't know

Top Official Shot Dead in Baghdad

Kassim Imhawi was hit by gunmen who pulled up beside him as he traveled into the city from a western suburb.
Mr Imhawi was director-general of the ministry and a senior adviser to the interim Iraqi government.
There's an interim government? Geez, what do they think about all the chaos?
Insurgents have frequently targeted Iraqi government officials and ministry
They view the interim government as collaborators with the US.
Well, OK, now that I understand that there really is an interim government in place, I guess I should have figured that out.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is to meet discuss the plans in Washington on Thursday with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and his successor Condoleezza Rice.
The UN has maintained a minimal but growing presence in Iraq since a bomb attack on its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003 killed a senior UN envoy and 21 others.
After pulling out of Iraq for a year, Secretary General Kofi Annan has allowed foreign staff to return in small numbers.
The UN has less than 60 staff currently in Iraq and plans to have just 25 electoral experts in the country for the 30 January elections, alongside around 250 Fijian
peacekeeping troops currently being trained.
Fijian peacekeeping troops. That means that there's Fijian soldiers. I had never pictured Fiji as ever having a need for an army, what with being surrounded by all that water. Now, on top of being sad that poor Kassim Imhawi nd his 8 bodyguards were shot and/or killed, I'm sad to try and picture people from one of the nicest-looking places on earth wearing camo and carrying automatic weapons.

I didn't know that people were still trying to claim that they were an actual working government. I didn't know that the UN was actually planning to come through with peacekeepers for the elections, and I sure as heck didn't know that they were going to come from Fiji. I feel very uninformed, today.

My Brilliant Brain

OK, so this morning, I was making some changes to my template, and I accidentally erased the whole thing. Gone. Kaput. I felt like an idiot. Just as I thought that I was going to have to go back to the original version and re-create all my changes, I remembered Google Desktop and it's fabulous ability to recreate things from my cache. Yay, Google!

The reason I was changing the template is that I suddenly realized that I had added my few extra features really sloppily, and I wanted to fix them. My technorati profile and sitemeter icons were stuck at the top because that's where I had blindly pasted them in without any regard to form or placement. My blogroll blogs list had no header. Also, I wanted to add the keen new "muppet terror alert" icon that I saw over at Polyester Bride, and I wanted it to be all nice and neat on the side, like it should be, For pete's sake, I'm a web developer, I can darn well find where I'm supposed to put things in a template laid out by someone as good as Jeff Zeldman is. Have I mentioned before how much I admire him and his work? Because man-oh-man, I really do. He's the ginchiest.

Anyway, it's all back now, as you can see, since there's actual content instead of a big, blank page. And the icons are all lined up nicely in the sidebar like I wanted them. Plus, I've added a new blog to my blogroll, Polyester Bride. I am loving the way that this woman writes! I was introduced to her, of course, by Running Scared, my favorite other blog that I sometimes post at. He linked to her post about novelty t-shirts, and the conflict it caused with the creator of said t-shirts. She mocks a bit the idea that a woman would wear a t-shirt that says "Make me happy - take me shopping". I get where she's coming from because she's young. Me, I'm older, and I know that sometimes, if you don't wear that shirt, your male significant other will not understand that yes, you REALLY WANT HIM TO BUY YOU STUFF. Sure, I love you baby, but I need the swag, I really do. And it's 14k or better, I like it better. Materialistic and cold? Yes. Anti-feminist? Maybe. Cynical? Definitely, and we all know by now that "cynical" describes me pretty well.

By the way, feel free to send me presents, I've got an Amazon wish list.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ho-ho-hoo boy

Last night I was listening to Jersey 101.5 on my radio dial, because good gravy, a whole MONTH of unrelieved holiday music is a little much (thank you, WPLJ), and they had our newish Governor, Richard Codey on. One of the topics that the host brought up was the issue of Christmas carols in schools, and that it's to the point where even the orchestral arrangements of religious songs are being left out. Well, Duh, Eric Scott, just because the song doesn't have words doesn't make it a different song. But once again, I leave the point I'm attempting to make.

When I first heard about New Jersey schools that were trying to eliminate the religious songs from their holiday concerts, I was in favor of it. I, as many of my 11 readers already know, am Jewish, and sometimes Christmas can leave Jews feeling kind of left out. South Park didn't have Kyle sing the Lonely Jew on Christmas song because nobody ever felt that way. But now, I've reconsidered.

I think about the Constitution, and the bits that people interpret to mean "separation of church and state", and I see a line that says that no religion will be favored, nor will any religion be denied the right to practice. I'm paraphrasing, here. So what I'm thinking now is that there's no reason to ban any religious music. Let's celebrate good music, no matter where it came from! Why can't we just be super-inclusive, instead of all-exclusive? Let's do Christmas songs, Hanukah songs, and some songs from some cultures that we'd never think of as being "mainstream". Surely someone else has a December holiday that we can sing about, no? How about Buddhist Bohdi Day, they have any songs for that? I honestly have no idea.

Anyway, I've definitely switched up my thinking on this. I think that we should celebrate everyone's festivals at a concert, and not try to deny them just because everyone doesn't celebrate them. A concert should be first and foremost about lovely music. Censoring it for religious content in schools now seems to me as bad as censoring it for "adult content" on record albums. I mean, are we trying to protect our children from disturbing religious ideas?
OK, last side track before I finish this non-directional ramble - big statues and images of a guy hanging dead, all bloody and nailed to a cross, that's kind of disturbing. It just is. OK, off the side-track.

The goal of most religions that I've run across is peace and morality (most, most!). These are not issues that children need to be protected against. The truth is that Christmas in the US is all about shopping, and Santa, and presents. Jewish/Muslim/Hindi kids never feel left out that they don't get to go to midnight mass and sit on a pew singing prayers and listening to a sermon; no, they feel left out of getting piles of presents. Singing or not singing certain songs probably isn't going to fix that.

Codey didn't really state a preference on the issue one way or the other, by the way. His answer was that he thinks that there are much more important things to worry about. Good point.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Death Warrant?

Abbas calls for end of Palestinian uprising
Peaceful resistence
In an interview with the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat published Tuesday, Abbas said Palestinians should resist Israeli occupation without resorting to violence.
OK, so I agree with him. Resistance shouldn't necessarily be so bloody. If we all kill each other, after all, there won't be anyone left to live on the land we're disputing, in the end.

I suspect that the non-violent attitude will get him killed within a month.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Still a NJ Cynic

Some major newspaper stories about former nominee for the post of Homeland Security chief, Bernard Kerik. Some people go more for the jugular than others.

CNN -just the illegal alien employee angle. OK, so he hired a Mexican nanny. Anyone can make that kind of mistake, right?

NYT - ties to a company with mob connections. Ooh, mob connections, never good. Taking cash gifts? Even more not good.

Washington Post - "hounded" Judy Regan. Hmm, veiled allegations that the man has enjoyed more than a friendship with the famous publisher, but couched in terms as to make her look uninvolved...

NY Daily News - love nest in battery park. Finally, allegations brought right out as facts, not implying that Regan wasn't involved at all, but still smacking of Regan-camp spin ("stunningly attractive head of her own book publishing company"?). And, throwing another woman into the mix, on top of it.

OK, so the guy has done every sneaky thing we've seen politicians accused of, short of murder (actually, I'm glad about that!). Here's my issue: I personally believe that almost (nothing is absolute in this world) EVERY politician has stuff like this in his closet. According to an ABC show, Primetime, 22 percent of males 50-64 admit to cheating on a spouse. A lot of people run around. Dealing with companies that have ties to organized crime? Tougher statistic to call for obvious reasons, but really, I bet the numbers are up there.

Here comes the cynical part. If so many people are doing it, and so many are getting away with it, then why not Kerik? I'm guessing that he crossed the wrong person. In the world of public officials, there are people that wield a lot of power. The kind of power that can make stories like this come out, or go away. It looks to me like Bernie made the wrong person angry, and now he doesn't get to join the exclusive club that he was up for membership in. Heck, maybe it was his lack of pedigree that inspired the press-driven expose-a-thon, we'll never know.

Sorry Bernie, guess we'll never find out what kind of job you would have done.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The right idea

Wangari Maathai has won a Nobel peace prize. She's been actively trying to prevent deforestation of Africa. It's an amazing effort. When accepting her prize, she had some very reasonable things to say:
"Further, industry and global institutions must appreciate that ensuring economic justice, equity and ecological integrity are of greater value than profits at any cost," she said. She said grassroots citizens' movements should be encouraged.
This is the kind of thinking that we should all be doing. The earth is our home, and if we use it up, we as a race will have nowhere to live. Just as we can't abuse your body's resources by working and working without ever eating or sleeping, we can't use up what the earth gives us without ever getting back. No, we can't make the same kind of profit as we could if we continued in environmentally unsound ways. Protecting the earth will never make anyone the kind of money that abusing it and forgetting about it does. But if we don't accept that the profits that we could manage being unethical are not worth the consequences, we will all suffer with a less hospitable world.

Wangari Maathai has gotten herself out there and made a difference. In return, she is now receiving a Nobel Peace Prize. Way to go, Wangari.

My opinion

In my opinion, Pat Robertson is an ass.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

A lighter note

And now, discussing sperm in a completely different context, The Moderate Voice discusses the latest news about laptops and whether or not they can damage male fertility. Folks, today it's all about the seed.

OK, I'm serious, now

You intolerant people are making me MAD!

Look at this article. Overlook the fact that Gerald Allen either thinks that Hammet is great literature or else doesn't know the actual title of "Hamlet" and is confused about it being by Shakespeare. Move past that, obviously I have.

Now that you've read the stuff, including such lovely lines as
"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They've been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering society's fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect Alabamians".
you can see why I'm mad. Tolerance is not about degrading morals, it's about upholding them. Not practicing prejudice against others is one of the most moral things you can do. Why is homosexuality considered a sin, because some guy in the bible didn't want to have sex with his dead brother's wife? OK, I can see how that's interpreted as masturbation being a sin, but isn't it taken just a little too far? All sexual activity that isn't directly intended to cause pregnancy is a sin? It never says that! Come down off the high horse, people!

And how many homophobes actually ever read the bible, anyway? Do they know why they're even supposed to look down on it? And who decided that? I bet most of them don't! They just feel icky, and lo, it's a sin to do the icky stuff! Well guess what? Lots of stuff about Catholicism makes me feel icky, like the whole "drink of my blood" thing, but you don't see me saying that we should dig a hole in the ground and put all of the writings about Catholic people in the ground!
Intolerance is intolerable. Every person on this planet has an equal right to live their lives on it. Being a homosexual is not an agenda. There's not some manifesto that all gay people have read explaining how to turn everyone else in the world gay. That reminds of the Mormons, who actually *do* have a mission to turn everyone else in the world Mormon, but I digress. One of the things I like best about America is that it truly is an example of how different kinds of people with different beliefs and traditions really can live side-by-side. No one denies the Shakers their right to live their Shaker lives, even if we don't want to live that way. Every day people who love members of their own gender go about shopping for groceries, or paying their taxes, or going to the movies exactly the way that people who love members of the opposite gender do. We don't have to eliminate other people's ways of life in order to protect our own. Being that close-minded is unimaginable to me, and that's why the people who say that we need "protection" from people, or books, or TV shows, well, they make me hopping mad.

OK, forget my liberal leanings, let's look at this another way: all you people who believe in God, whom amongst us did God create?

Everyone. And he calls us all his children.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

You Don't Get It, Do You.

OK, time to talk about the basics of terrorism. Again.

Basic Rule 1 - terrorists are not actually soldiers

No matter how often people refer to the "war on terror" or "Bin Laden's army of Al Qaida terrorists", one fact remains: when you're a terrorist, you don't play by the army rules. Terrorists aren't representative of their governments, they are only representative of their causes.

You'll note I say "causes", plural. That will be important later.

Basic Rule 2 - The defeat of an army means nothing to a terrorist

See, if you don't report to a government, it doesn't matter much to you whether or not that particular government's army has conceded defeat to your army. Since the government's not paying your check, you don't care who's surrendered to whom, you're still out there fightin'. No governmental ties, no respect for things like treaties, or cease-fires, or surrender. Geneva convention? Don't care!

Basic Rule 3 - There are more terrorist causes in this world than we could hope to identify

Yes, Al Qaida is a major force in the terrorist world, but they are far from the only terrorists that exist. In fact, the smaller your cause, the more likely you are to use things like home-made car bombs driven in to a hotel lobby frequented by people you consider to be oppressing you. Even if we could completely eliminate one large group, we could never hope to identify all the smaller ones, not with all the time or money in the world. It would be like trying to find the bad grains of sand on a beach. Admittedly, it's a small beach on the Mediterranean, but it's still a near impossible task.

So, combine rules 1,2 and 3, and come to the same conclusion that I have - terrorist activity, even if it's funded by a country's government, is not directly controlled by it. Punishment is seen as a type of martyrdom that simply inspires others of the cause to greater heights of violence. That's why arguments like the one on the new Becker-Posner log (nod to Running Scared), let's say Becker's piece on how preventative war can be justified must ultimately be discarded as naive and wrong.
Combating crime mainly relies on deterrence through punishment of criminals who recognize that there is a chance of being apprehended and convicted-the chances are greater for more serious crimes. If convicted, they can expect imprisonment or other punishments- again, punishments are generally more severe for more serious crimes. Apprehension and punishment reduce the gain from crimes; in this way, it deters others from criminal activities.
We're not "deterring the criminals" by going to war with regulation armies. The criminals don't care what we do to the armies - wait, no, I take it back - the criminals LOVE when we attack the armies, because it just goes to serve as a great example to the children that they're brainwashing that the U.S is an evil, evil place that's trying to take over the whole world by force.

It is because of the utter lack of rules, and the complete refusal of terrorists throughout the world to operate in a civilized manner or venue, that Yasser Arafat was never able to control the activities of Hamas. It's also why defeating the Iraqi army and ousting Hussein from power has done us no good whatsoever to secure peace in Iraq so far.

This war is not preventing future problems, rather it is opening the door to a never-ending list of problems that we have no expertise or understanding to solve. In my opinion, nothing could ever justify that.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Blame gets Laid

Disclaimer: I have a wicked headache, and the following post may be completely incomprehensible. I can't tell.

Minor Sanctions for U.S. Troops Who Balked in Iraq

Remember those soldiers who wouldn't drive a pointless, contaminated fuel convoy through hot spots in trucks without sufficient armor? Well, they're being punished, but not courtmarshalled.
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan said a further five would also face "non-judicial" punishment under Article 15 of the U.S. military justice code, making 23 troops disciplined in this way.

OK, so now we know that they're being punished for disobeying orders, which I support, because a soldier that doesn't obey orders is of no use to anyone. What I don't know is this - are there any repercussions for the person who gave this stupid-ass order? Where's the accountability there? Who thought it was a good idea to send a few of our brave young men and women to drive what amounts to a giant bomb through an are where it was most likely to get detonated? Is judgment that bad not a crime? Shouldn't it be? And if there were repercussions, would I ever know?

Friday, December 3, 2004

Kerik Named Security Secretary

Bush Names Ex-Police Chief to Top Security Post

So, what do you think, man with first-hand experience who understands the people who commit terrorist acts and will be a strong force to fight against them, or just another misguided New Yorker out for revenge, fated to make mistakes in judgment out of anger and blunder into even worse situations than we currently find ourselves in?

The fact that he worked as a warden in Paterson, NJ makes met think that the first option is still possible - you can't even *go* to some parts of Patterson without learning how unscrupulous people can harm you, forget work there. I'm keeping my hopes up, but, knowing how I feel about the current administration, know that I'll be keeping my guard up, as well.

Remember, please, I don't know this man, and I'm a very cynical individual. Anything *I* think could be completely off-base. Doesn't hurt to get the questions out there, though.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Holiday Sarcasm

The Left's Christmas Debate Readings

Sarcasm that smacks of reality is both a good thing and a scary thing. An excerpt:
March of the Wooden Soldiers: Santa's Toyland is under attack by the evil Barnaby. Two of Santa's helpers bring Santa's wooden soldiers to life to fend off the assault. Since the wooden troops haven't been properly trained, they turn tail and run, allowing Barnaby to take over Toyland and make nothing but violent video games. Eventually, the U.S. invades Toyland, stating that Barnaby is secretly hoarding chemical weapons in his candy cane facilities. When no chemicals are found, U.S. Forces decide to arrest Barnaby anyway and hold democratic elections. Alas, most of the citizens of Toyland have died in the invasion, so a puppet government is installed. Pinocchio is declared Premier.
The more I think about Iraq, the more I ask myself the question: "Didn't we already declare victory there, and if so, whom are we fighting?" We deposed the dictator, we should be done. If they want to start a civil war, at this point, I think it should be their business. Personally, if I were an Iraqi, I'd just want to get back to living a semblance of a normal life, act calm, and let the outsiders leave. Don't they see that insurgent activities are just going to keep us there? Stop with the killing, we'll go. Then you can start up killing each other again, if that's what you all really want. Don't know if my plan would work or not, since I'm basing it on old strategies that as I child I employed to get babysitters to leave my sister and I alone in a room. Still, it's more of a plan than I've seen elsewhere.

That's kind of off the track that the Left-Right Debate's article stays on, but hey, sometimes I hit a tangent.

I'm off to go spend more than I can afford on gifts. I'm an American, after all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Lazy Day

I've posted, but over at Running Scared. Look, I've made it a link, don't make me cut and paste the whole thing, too. Go there, it's interesting, anyway. Heck, you probably came from there.

Monday, November 29, 2004


An uncalled for exposition regarding Roe v. Wade:

To all of you politicians thinking about how great it would be to overturn Roe v. Wade, since you're so "pro-life"...

Wait - side track - I've put "pro-life" in quotes because I still have such huge problems with the idea that someone can fight for the rights of a child who has not yet lived, but thinks it's just dandy to send soldiers off to their deaths because it's patriotic. Ugh.

OK, back to my uncalled for exposition. Let's just remember, boys and girls, that if abortion becomes illegal, that means illegal for everyone. And it means that any indiscretions that result in accidental pregnancies will then have to be resolved by sending the enceinte person away for a goodly amount of time, always worrying about the possibility of discovery during the lying-in, or by tricking someone other than the socially-improper person to admit to fatherhood, if possible, also risking discovery, or perhaps the ever-popular illegal abortion, once again, risking that pesky discovery.

Sure, sure, with a legal abortion you still risk discovery, but with a process that's so tied up with rules about privacy, you stand a much better chance of covering these things up. And lets face it, a legal abortion is way, way, way less expensive than the methods of cover-up I've mentioned above. At the very least, there's fewer people that you'd have to pay off to keep it quiet!

Face a fact - no matter how much or how often people talk about morals or family values, most of these self-same people are really hypocritical and will continue immoral sexual practices and conduct extra/pre-marital affairs. We're people, we just do. For every person preaching morals that actually practices those self-same morals, I'd guess that there are 3 that preach without the practicing part.

To sum up - no more Roe v. Wade means money out of your pockets, Mr. or Mrs. Politician Person. Don't forget that, and don't screw it up for the rest of us.

Holiday Hiatus

Well, I stayed away from my computer over the entire weekend, and I didn't even warn anyone. Sorry.
Anyway, I'm back now, and off to find some current event that I can spout off about.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Today, on the day before American Thanksgiving, I'd like to remind people to think of others and head on over to The Hunger Site.

Thank you in advance.

Department of Irony

Exploding cell phonesprompt warnings

Cell phone batteries can explode. I never really thought about it. I mean, I guess I should have known that, any kind of battery can explode, so why not those? It just didn't occur to me. This article talks about people who've had problems, offering the following information:
Over the past two years, federal safety officials have received 83 reports of cell phones exploding or catching fire, usually because of incompatible, faulty or counterfeit batteries or chargers. Burns to the face, neck, leg and hip are among the dozens of injury reports the agency has received.
Of course, the article also says that there are 170 million cell phones in this country. That makes the odds kind of low.

So I finsihed the article, and I was wondering if I'd wasted my time, because I already know to be carfeul with batteries, and the statistics seem in my favor, and then I saw it. On the bottom of the page is an advertisement - for cell phones.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Copycat's nine lives

Senate passes scaled-back copyright bill

And thank goodness that it's scaled back. As a person with a very large music and video library, I like to make digital copies of some of my collection. I have some movies copied to hard drives as convenient backups, should the originals get damaged or destroyed somehow, and I rip almost all of my music to mp3 format for use on my iPod or to play over my TiVo (home media option).

I can't say that I've never shared music - I have. I don't do it any longer, but it seems to me that the punishment proposed in the copyright bill was way too harsh. 3 years jail time? For a "crime" that's roughly equivalent to speeding, on the morality scale? Heck, speeding can cause physical harm, and song sharing doesn't even do that.

I understand that making unauthorized copies of music and movies to sell is illegal. In many cases, I feel that it cheats the fans, because the quality suffers so much. Punishment for stealing something with the intent of making a profit is reasonable, it's expected, it's the way things are supposed to work in an ordered society, even - but sharing music for free? An even exchange of entertainment? It's just not the same kind of thing, and I'm glad that the sections of the bill that dealt with punishing file-sharing users were dropped.

Also dropped was a section that would have made it illegal to edit out commercials. *That* was just silly. Companies pay for the advertising, but there is no way on earth that they can make sure that I watch it. Even if it were not edited out, even if my excellent, excellent TiVo (I love that thing more than you can imagine) didn't have a fast-forward button, that would still be the time when I chatted with other people in the room, or went to the bathroom, or flipped through my mail. As it is now, if I see a commercial that looks interesting when I'm fast-forwarding past, I'll stop and watch it. That wouldn't happen if I was out of the room, now, would it? Making it illegal to edit out commercials would have made me frustrated with regular TV, and I would have started watching less and less of it, and I suspect that so would a lot of other people. How much would that help advertisers? Not at all; right in one!

I'll quote the article for the last bit I want to mention:
The bill also shields "family friendly" services like ClearPlay that strip violent or sexually explicit scenes from movies. Hollywood groups say such services violate their copyrighted works by altering them without permission.
Once again, silly. If people want to see movies watered down, let them. I actually think this is a great compromise between people who want their art as real as possible, and people who still want art, but find reality much too messy and imposing. You'd love to show your child a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" in order to demonstrate great patriotism and courage, but you don't want him hearing the naughty words from a program you sanctioned? Use ClearPlay and go, my sheltered friend, and do so with my blessing!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Stoic, even

I'm not so wordy, myself today, but if you haven't already, please please please go read this Tbogg post. Brilliant. Plus, it enforces my personal belief that child rearing is not something I should ever attempt on purpose.

I'm with the band

Well, it seems to me that any lingering election depression I might have been feeling is now gone. I was reading the news this morning, and I was intrigued by the article regarding the President's body guards being denied access to a fancy dinner. I was reading the following:
The incident happened after Bush and his wife, Laura, had just posed for pictures on a red carpet with the host of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and his wife, Luisa Duran.
Suddenly it occurred to me that their Americanized nicknames could be "Ricky" and "Lucy".

Friday, November 19, 2004

Spreading the Tami Word

Hey! I'm now a guest blogger over at Running Scared! How cool is that?

Rock Bottom Ahead

Bush to Sign Debt Limit Increase Within Days
In a statement issued late on Thursday after Congress gave its final approval to increase the limit to a new $8.184 trillion ceiling, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the legislation "was important to protect the full faith and credit of the United States."
We now owe so much money, and from what I can tell, to ourselves, that failure to increase our debt ceiling will result in us defaulting on securities. That is so not good. Throw in the fact that the dollar is NOT doing well, value-wise, and I wonder just how "strong" our economy is. Never mind, by the way, that the article I've linked seems to be implying that the only reason that the dollar is falling is because Greenspan said depressing things. Greenspan simply pointed out that we have an enormous deficit, and that should, logically, put investors off. It's just the ugly truth. And now, rather than admit that we can't pay our debts, we're going to extend our own credit limit. It's dizzying.

So, as it stands, we have this enormous debt. What are we going to do to stop this scary trend? When are we going to pay this money back? Am I foolish to be worrying about funding for educational programs when there's just no money to be had, period? I try to find something, anything that shows me how we're going to stop bleeding money and start trying to tighten belts and balance a budget, but nobody says anything about it, at all. The attitude seems to be that since we're at war, we can just keep the downward spiral going. Where are the Republican values of "smaller government" and the concept of "paying your own way"? Yes, program funding is being cut, but not to a level where it actually helps. Perhaps the fear is that if average Americans lost privileges, they might not be so quick to support the war effort?

We cannot continue to enjoy a standard of living that we cannot afford. At least, in theory, that should be true. But we are, and we do, and as far as I can tell, the only reason we get away with it is because no one in the world is powerful enough yet to be the repo man. Will they be someday? Guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Revisting Ribbons

A good friend sent me this:

The Magnet Magnet

I am encouraged to see that a man named Dwain Gullion thought up the ribbons as a way to raise funds for worthy organizations. Now, of course, I've seen a million knock-offs of these things everywhere from the gas station to the grocery store. Still, it's very nice to know that when the idea was born, it was born out of a concern for one's fellow man.

"It never entered my mind that people would see these as pro-Bush or pro-Kerry," graphic artist Derrick Carroll said last week by phone from his home in Germanton, N.C." There was no hidden agenda. It was just to support the military, not the war."

Bad advice

OK, I read a fluff piece. It was about the President pardoning a turkey. But really, the content of the piece is shockingly misleading. I quote:
"It was a tough contest and it turned out some 527 organizations got involved, including Barnyard Animals for Truth. There was a scurrilous film that came out, "Fahrenheit 375 Degrees At 10 Minutes Per Pound," he said.
375 at 10 minutes per pound? That's never going to make a juicy turkey! I never roast a turkey at more than 350, myself. And, then, at 350, I'm going at about 20 minutes per pound. Who told him 10?

Giving out such blatantly wrong information strikes me as irresponsible. There are children listening to him! Children who may have to live with undercooked turkey.


War is H***

Today, emailing with Tallulah

Tallulah: Wow. Some REALLY scary articles on Fark today. Example:

Tami: I knew about this and I don't get one thing - why couldn't they bleep the profanity? Is that against some contract? "The film could not be edited for artistic reasons"? What the hell is that about? They couldn't beep swear words? Are there just too, too many to be able to do it?

I have never seen this movie, since getting massively upset about death and war doesn't seem like my idea of entertainment, so maybe I just don't get it.

Tallulah: I only have one question:
A movie about war WILL have swearing. And that seems like the LEAST of your problems. Honestly, it's as if these people have never left the house.

Tami: It's true. And, it's the old "you can't use the TV as a babysitter if you're any kind of a thinking parent" argument. Check on what your children are watching. If you're just offended for yourself, go on over to Nick at Nite and shut the hell up.

Tallulah: Why does no one say this to their faces? BLOG, TAMI, BLOG!

So, I did.

Suggestion Box

OK, all the nations of the world, listen up:

Does your country have military troops that have nothing to do? Do you have neat uniforms that you're not getting to show off to anyone but your own countrymen? Are you avoiding Iraq like the plague because you don't want your civilian contractors getting kidnapped causing all kinds of national controversy?

Consider Sudan! They need real help. We'd do it ourselves, but we're supposedly not overextended with our own military actions right now.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

What I would have said

If I hadn't been to chicken to try and tackle this subject today. Jill over at Brilliant at Breakfast says exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to, the kind of thing that you might not expect to hear from a liberal.

A quote:

I don't know about you, but I'm not going to sit in judgment on these guys. Many
of them are on stop-loss orders, they haven't a clue why they're there or what
on earth they're supposed to be doing. They're told that they're liberating the
very people that they're told to kill; but that everyone they come across is
"the enemy."

See, I would have said someting a lot like that.


Iraq charity worker feared killed

It's being reported that Margaret Hassan, the kidnapped charity aid worker, has been killed. What kind of person kidnaps a charity aid worker? They risk their lives just by being in a war zone, but they go anyway, and they do their best to try and help people whose lives are being torn apart. They bring food and medical supplies, and are nothing but good for everyone on the planet. And as a reward for her efforts that are nothing short of angelic, in my eyes, some insurgent group kidnapped her, by all accounts tortured her, and has now killed her. That's more shameful than anything else I can think of, today.

Never mind the ribbon guy, he's not hurting anyone.

Another Quandary

America is the "showplace home" of capitalism. It's a place where someone can come from nothing, but if they've got a really great idea and enough moxy, they can make a million, right?

Well, I'm wondering about those yellow ribbon magnets you see on cars everywhere nowadays. They're everywhere. Do I think how great it is that people support the troops, and that it's fantastic that some cunning businessperson has provided the American people a convenient, visible way to express that support? Or do I, instead, go all bleeding-heart sensitive and think that it might be kind of disgusting, exploiting people's support of the military to make your own fortune. Let's face it, whoever sells those things has got to be raking it in, they're hotter than the Lance Armstrong "Live Strong" bracelets. And unlike the "Live Strong" bracelets, I don't see anything anywhere about the sales of the ribbon magnets going to actually support our troops.

So, what should I think? Clever patriot providing people an easy way to express themselves, or exploitative sleazy businessman making a profit on the people's need to express their desire for unity? Comment away, I'm torn.

Monday, November 15, 2004

NJ Notes

My governor was gay!

I was driving out to Western Pennsylvania in August, and as I was passed by a car from Ohio, I saw them holding a sign up in the window. Fearing that it said something like "Your muffler is falling off" or "You're getting a flat", I pulled up to read the sign. It said, simply, "Your governor is gay". I nearly had to pull off the road I was laughing so hard. No big essay today, just some quotes and my comments on today's NJ news about our governor retiring.
"Outgoing governors usually make appointments, and I think we should judge each of these appointments based on the merits of the individuals," said Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon), the Senate's minority leader. "I want to review the list based on the merits of the individuals."
That's so sane, it's almost... crazy.
The ceremony was deliberately low-key in deference to the circumstances surrounding McGreevey's resignation. "This is not necessarily a time for a big celebration," Codey said.
Classy, I think. He didn't win anything to become governor, so no victory party. Makes sense to me.

Few groups have been more closely associated with Codey than the racing industry, which has donated more than $176,000 to him.

He has sponsored 21 racing-related bills over the past decade, and currently is exploring the possibility of putting thousands of video slot machines at the Meadowlands racetrack to boost revenues to the state and the industry. For nine years, he was part-owner of several thoroughbreds, and his brother, Donald, is general manager of Freehold Raceway.

"He has been perhaps the greatest ally that horse racing has had in Trenton," said Anthony Parenti, president of the Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey.
As a true "Jersey Girl", I find this information somehow comforting.

"In Jersey anything's legal as long as you don't get caught"
from "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" by the Travelling Wilburys.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Why are they bothering?

Does no one recognize that there's a giant bird in the middle of the room, and it's eating all of our appetizers *and* the centerpiece? Do you people just not see it?

From The Guardian Unlimited:
George Bush said tonight that he thought it was possible that a "truly free" Palestinian state could evolve within the four years of his second term as US president.

"Pass the peas, please, Laura. Bird? What bird?"

The bird is called JERUSALEM, bright-guy. A free Palestinian state can not evolve at all unless they give up the idea that they're going to drive the Jews into the sea. The Palestinians want the Muslim and Arab shrines in Jerusalem to be under Palestinian control, and the Israelis are going to let that happen as soon as the sky turns into cotton candy and the dolphins come out of the Red Sea to explain to us how we can all live in peace and harmony, even when we have to eat our neighbors.

There is a stalemate, here. Arafat refused offers of lands for Palestine that didn't include holy ground, and the Jews in the region feel that the holy ground has been granted to them by the will of God, and is not up for negotiation. No one will move on this - they can't. Sadat tried to broker an agreement without Jerusalem involved, and for his ground-breaking initiatives, he was gunned down by Islamic extremists. They felt that his trying to broker an independent peace instead of showing a united Arab front undermined their power, so they undermined his.

There are people out there with very specific, very radical beliefs, and they're so committed to them that they are willing to kill whomever they have to in order to make their vision of the world come true. Their vision is *not* something acceptable to anyone who would ever be involved in a series of peace talks. Until this is no longer true (sad, but...), no Palestinian state can evolve itself into existence. People are not yet ready.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Not a habit

I don't make a habit of speaking of God, since I live my life pretty much on the edge of agnosticism. Still judging by a really strong thought I had today, I can't quite say that I deny the existence of a higher power. This morning, when I learned that Arafat was dead, I wrote the following:
The man was a fallen tree across the road to living peacefully. While I don't think that it's necessarily a road that's ever going to be finished, at least it's good that God freed up the lanes for the traffic to move where they could.
Personally, I don't think that Arafat's death changes anything that's going on.
  • In the 70's, he was a dangerous terrorist who murdered innocent people.
  • In the 80's, he was a leader recognized by the world, determined to hold out for the one thing he would never get.
  • In the 90's, he became a figurehead, not actually influencing any of the actions of those around him - someone to mention if you were mentioning someone distasteful.
  • In the 21st century, he faded into leadership obscurity. With no power to stop any terrorist activities even if he wanted to, there were no teeth left in his public image. Negotiating with him was a completely pointless exercise, as he could never actually deliver anything he promised.

This is my own opinion, so I don't have any sources to quote. I've based this on my observation of events over the past few years, only. So, take it as you will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

No Progress

Today Tami is reading:

OK, so what this article is saying is that Fallujah (no matter how you spell it) has been a hot bed of insurgents. People kidnapped by these insurgents were being held in inhuman, torturous conditions. There were records kept about who the hostages were.

So, the same as before we invaded, right? Only maybe on a slightly larger scale because of the car bombs?

I fail to see how this war is helping the Iraqis. Their country is less safe now than it was under a terrible dictator. We can invade Fallujah, but the insurgents will just flee to another location. We cannot possibly think to have enough troops to occupy all of Iraq, and even the thought of that is more terrifying than the thought of a Saddam still in power.

I was trying to think how to wrap this entry up, how to come up with some sort of spin of what I think we should do in order to make things better, but I don't have one. I honestly believe that all we can do is get our butts the heck out of that country and leave the Iraqis with a broken nation in more upheaval than they really thought possible. Maybe I'm not giving the other side a fair shake - maybe staying in Iraq and chasing insurgents from city to city, from stronghold to stronghold is the way to go. I suppose that we could view it as our responsibility to be the de-facto police force, since we were the ones who dismantled the police force that they had in the first place. So we stay, and we police, just as reviled as the brute force we've replaced.

There's no way out of this that I can see, nor can I see that the people we claim to be liberating are any better off. Where's a plan that makes sense, where's the progress?

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Logic's Revenge

Reading Brilliant at Breakfast today, I see an article about women being denied the pill as birth control. I was reading through it, fairly dismayed, but trying to keep an open mind. You see, I don't think that my choices should be forced on to other people, and if some out there feel that it's morally wrong to dispense the pill, well, that's too bad for me, but those of us who don't think that it will send us straight to hell can always find another doctor, or another pharmacy. At least, in most cases.

But then, I went on to read the whole article at,5778,s1-1-93-35-4130-2,00.html, and I got to this part:
Anti-Pill doctors and pharmacists base their stand on the fact that the Pill isn't perfect: Although it is designed to suppress ovulation and prevent fertilization, both can--and do--occur in rare cases. About 1 woman in every 1,000 who takes the Pill exactly as directed becomes pregnant in a given year. But while mainstream experts say ovulation happens only 2 to 3 percent of the time and fertilization is rare, anti-Pill groups claim both happen frequently. They say most of these fertilized eggs--in their view, nascent human lives--are unable to attach to the hormonally altered uterine lining. Instead of implanting and growing, they slough off. This theoretical action, which scientists can't confirm, is called the post-fertilization effect.
Scientists can't confirm. Didn't I just write a whole novel about why basing your decisions on what can't be proven is just wallowing in your own ignorance? It will come back to bite you in the ass, people, I promise you!

Good Gravy!

Every other expletive I could think of that fit this situation has some sort of religious reference implied in it. Huh.

OK, let's talk about faith, and science and theories and what a difference that PROOF makes. And the fact that seeing this article makes me dizzy with upset:

How many fossils do we have, how many dug-up skeletons do we have, that indicate that modern man "grew up" from a less advanced form? A Google search finds pictures, right away! Here's a nice site: Calico Early Man Site. Ooh - or here's a nice web page from Yale: WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT EARLY MAN AND HOW CAN WE PROVE IT?.

So, evidence, usually is the deciding factor between theory and fact. I went looking for a definition of "theory" and I found:
"an always tentative explanation of phenomena that we observe; never proven;
representative of the most logical explanation based on currently available
evidence; becomes stronger as more supporting evidence is gathered; provides a
context for predictions."
That's my favorite from my Google definition search. It reminds me of the gods of ancient Greece and Rome. It was certainly plausible to say that thunder and lightning happen because a god was angered when you didn't know any better, but science came along and showed how the sun can evaporate water, and how cold air and hot air move around, and what happens when that cold air and hot air butt up against each other. No one imagines "gods living high on a mountain top" during a rain storm, anymore.

My take on it has always been this: We don't know how it all got started. We weren't there, we can't find any evidence of "first life", nor, in my opinion, is that possible. We have to just put forth theories about how life started. Fine. Lightning strike, hand wave by some anthropomorphic deity, whatever. But the fact that humans existed in a more rudimentary form in our planet's past history? We've got the bones all dug up, people? We have evidence that we can see & touch. This is why evolution, in my mind, is not just a theory.

Why, though, does creationism have to be the opposite of evolution? Do people really hold that tightly to the literal interpretation of the Bible, that the earth was truly created in 7 days? It's not possible that the reporting on the time there was off by maybe, thousands and thousands of years? Couldn't life have been started by... um... God... (it's SO hard for me to say that!), with the whole evolution thing as part of the plan? You know, like putting all the ingredients for a cake in the oven and expecting the chemical reactions taking place in the heat to change the goopy batter into structured dessert item over the course of a certain amount of time? Who's to say if a lightning strike isn't ultimately caused by the hand of God? Deconstruct something down enough levels and eventually you get to a place where you can't explain what started it. Why does creationism focus so strongly on the lack of evolution?

I went looking for a creationist web site that I could actually read through and hope to find some sort of coherent argument. I found Scientific Evidence that God created Life, which doesn't seem to say anything that makes my hybrid theory sound impossible. I looked for something else, but I can't find a single argument that doesn't talk exclusively about what science *doesn't* prove. Well guess what, people, it doesn't prove your point, either.

Evolution is the "theory" that we have hard evidence of. Denying that evidence is such a childish idea that I won't even talk about why it's not legitimate.

At this stage in our evolution as human beings (yes, I did that on purpose), we simply can not in good conscience teach children in public schools something that we have no proof of whatsoever. I can't teach a child that all dodo birds liked the taste of rain based on the fact that we can't prove that it isn't true. I can't teach a child about how life on earth started because I don't have those facts. I can teach a child that evolution exists based on archaeological findings and scientific studies about mitchondrial DNA. We have hard facts for this part. Putting a sticker on a book that says we don't is an abomination of the very concept of educating our children.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Straight as an Arrow

Let's talk about gay marriage. Let's talk about the fact that 11 states voted on whether or not to ban it. And they said, "Yeah! I want to take away other people's rights because of my religious principals!". Because that's what this country's really all about, denying people the right to secure the blessings of liberty, for themselves and their posterity. Or something like that, eighth grade was such a long time ago, who remembers?

And I'm quite sure that America's founded on the idea that if you don't worship the same way as your neighbor, then there ought to be something done about you. No, I'm not talking about Lutherans turning in Baptists - it's those other people, you know, the ones who don't go to church at all or even temple or something! How can someone be moral when they don't go somewhere to show us that they mean it?

Marriage, in my opinion, is a traditionally religious institution, but here in the U.S. we have established the institution of civil marriage. A civil marriage is recognized from state to state, carries all of the things you think of when you think "marriage", like inheritance rights, and the right to file as married on your taxes, etc. All in all, it's a positive thing for those who wish to marry but don't wish to involve religion in it. Maybe they're not the same religion, or maybe they're divorced Catholics, and their church doesn't recognize that they have the right to marry anyone else (funny, you don't' see many people in the news making a fuss about that). Either way, you can be married in a civil ceremony, and the whole country - nay - the whole world recognizes that you are a couple, a family. A legal kinship is established. We're in a very small club with this option, many countries that don't have this kind of separation of church and state do not allow this. It's the kind of thing that people emigrate to America for. Funny, huh?

Civil union, on the other hand, isn't recognized anywhere except for the state that it's performed in. You can't, for example, establish a domestic partnership in NJ and then move to Ohio and expect to still be allowed to make medical decisions for your partner. Notice I say "partner", and not "spouse". Because in a civil union, you don't get to really be a spouse. You get some of the benefits, and don't think I'm knocking them, because progress is progress, but you don't get the thing I'm striving to emphasize, here, legal kinship. A civil union isn't a marriage, and you're not classified as a family. So, by that definition, it's not eroding these so-called "family values" that so many people seem to be spouting off about these days.

I'm stunned that so many people are afraid of homosexuality. And I don't see how if two people who aren't your family want to be declared a family of their own, HOW does it harm anyone? How does it "degrade" anyone else's institutions? Is mom-dad-son-daughter somehow less valid if it's dad-dad-daughter? Or mom-mom-son-daughter? Or even just wife-wife? It's not in your house, people, it's not your business.

It all comes down to this: our country is founded on the principals that you should be allowed to live differently from your neighbor without fear of persecution because of your beliefs. No, we cannot take each other's property, or do each other bodily harm. But why is it even an issue that person A loves person B and wants them to be their family? Why?

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Blinders On

There's a quote over at TBogg that reminded me of a story. The quote:
Four more years of scientific decisions being made by people who believe in a
ghost in the clouds.
The story:
One day I was at lunch with a group of coworkers. One of them, I'll call him "John", and the rest of the group and I were discussing the TV show "Mythbusters". Somehow or other, we got to talking about consipracy theories. John informed us that he didn't believe that Man had ever made it into space, that it was all a government hoax. Well, we had a fine laugh over that one, and then... I realized John was serious.

T: You don't believe that man has ever made it in to space?
J: No, I don't.
T: But, there's proof. I mean, you can go to the Smithsonian, you can see - you can touch space ships. You know that we can fly in airplanes, but you don't believe that we can break through the atmosphere?
J: No, I don't.
T: John, you believe in God!


OK, I was trying to take the high road, but I'm getting more and more upset.

Butler and Montgomery County, Ohio, I blame you.
What were you thinking?

*Note from the editor - now that all the numbers are officially in, it seems that Montgomery County went to Kerry in the end. Montgomery County, I apologize.

An Earnest Request

Well, congratulations, people of America. It seems that the majority of you have decided that another four years of the same president would actually be a good thing. Another four years of frightening proposals for "security acts" that remove our personal freedoms, another four years of being called a "Christian Nation" when we're specifically not supposed to be about religion. The people have spoken that they want more tax cuts despite unchecked war spending that puts us further and further into debt. America has chosen to be led by a man that most other nations of the world no longer respect or admire. We've chosen a Commander in chief who changed his stance from "war only as a last resort" to "we have to strike out at them before they strike out at us", yet never experienced combat personally.

Yes, it seems that this is what America has chosen. Now, personally, I felt that if Bush was reelected that more Americans would die in a war that has no clear end, that taxes would be raised to begin to pay for all the things that we've spent so many billions of dollars on, that health care prices would continue to spiral upwards, beyond the reach of most of us, and that freedom of individual expression would be degraded in matters of sexual preference and faith, should you dare to wish to be a homosexual or a non-Christian.

This is what I have feared is the future of our nation. Please, please, Mr. Bush, prove me wrong.

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Biting My Nails

To do - vote first thing in the morning, before work: check.

I'm spending masses of time popping over to, even though the numbers aren't updated frequently. They were really favorable for Kerry this morning, but the latest update shows an almost even split. What happens again if neither candidate gets 270 electoral votes? The House decides? Sweet mother of mercy, grant me patience. And luck.

I'm planning on serenely accepting whatever the outcome is, but good gravy, the waiting is KILLING ME!

Monday, November 1, 2004

Twenty (OK, Seven) Questions

Read at

One of the longest days of Kerry's general election campaign began at St. John's church in Orlando -- where the practicing Roman Catholic marked All Saints Day -- and was to wind up about 21 hours later in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in the upper Midwest.
Also, from
It was the first stop on a 16-hour sweep through the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Mexico. He was ending up late on Monday in Dallas.
Holy cow, would a schedule like that make me tired! Are people really going to make up their minds based on a visit the day before the election? Really? The way people behave stuns me.

I still plan on voting for Kerry. I personally feel that the country is worse off than it was 4 years ago, and that a great deal of it is because of the policies and actions of our current administration. OK, that's my position. And I see people who don't agree, and I'm stymied. Are we more peaceful? More popular amongst other countries of the world? More economically stable? More tolerant? Does government interfere less in our lives, so that we can put the money we would have spent there to a better use? Does the country have more money, in general? Is the USA a better place to live today than it was in 1999?

So, those of you who were planning on making up your minds based on what color tie the candidates wore today, maybe you should ask yourselves these questions, instead.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Hate Makes Me Sad

Reference: The Washington Post's story about the latest terror threat tape

There's a new terror tape out there, and all the media seems to be worried about is if airing it affects the election. Is it fair to air it, is it unfair to wait. Um, hello? People? Anyone thinking perhaps that instead of showing this stuff to the general public that we should just show it to the CIA and let them investigate it? Does the public need to see it for them to do that?

Personally, I'm not worried that the tape may cause Kerry supporters to change their minds and switch their votes to Bush because he's proven to be so "tough on terror". Nor am I thinking that because this individual claims that Americans will suffer for our audacity in electing Bush in the first place will steer his supporters away from *him*. We're Americans, and whole bunches of us are stubborn as Donkeys.

No, what I'm worried about is that there are so many people in the world who hate the USA right now, and a lot of them have weapons or explosives. I'm worried about the fact that someone made this tape to upset us, and that this person (and I assume, his cohorts) are most likely plotting acts of violence designed to kill Americans. I'd like them caught, please. Of course, I'd also like them to stop hating us, but I have no optimism on that front.

Anti-American sentiment doesn't bother me as much as the violent mind set does. You don't like the US? Fine, don't live here. You're upset because the world has become so "Westernized"? Well guess what - it's not our "fault" that we have an attractive lifestyle. We're not to "blame" if people want to buy American things. OK, it's our fault if we send troops and install a puppet dictator. But the popularity of rap music amongst Muslim teens? That's just kids rebelling. If it wasn't for American pop stars, it would be something else.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Cooking the Numbers

I'm still very tired of the campaign stuff; the election can not come fast enough for me. I'm nervous about the outcome, but in a desperate attempt to calm myself, I've been focusing on the fact that it's an election, and if the majority of the votes go to the guy that I didn't choose, it's because the majority of the people in the country don't agree with me. We go with whoever gets the most electoral votes, in theory doing the will of the populace, and that's worked fairly well so far, overall. If it's not my personal will, I just have to wait until another election and hope that things go my way next time.

So, being tired of that subject that I just rambled on about, I decided to go another route today:

From Experts: Web searches for sex declining:

"Twenty percent of all searching was sex-related back in 1997, now it's about 5 percent," said Amanda Spink, the University of Pittsburgh professor who co-authored "Web Search: Public Searching of the Web" with Penn State professor Bernard J. Jansen.
Silly people. The amount of searching for illicit material isn't declining, it's just that the amount of searches for non-illicit purposes is increasing. This causes a percentage shift.

Because, I promise you, people in the world today are *not* less interested in sex than they were a year ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

TV Will Dull Your Mind

...and ruin your eyes, if my mother was right.

Today's Tami Reading choice

I'm in favor of private groups being able to make political ads. All political ads are more one-sided than a... damn I can't come up with a pithy comparison, they're just one-sided, OK? So, the one-sided nature of ads being accepted as a given, it doesn't matter to me if special interest groups throw their hats and money into the ring. Let them spend!

The fact is, a political ad is a political ad. In order to really know a candidate, you have to have either been following their record, or want to do a lot of independant research. Things like voting records, or bills authored, or moneys appropriated or accepted, this is all recorded somewhere, and finding out the facts is the only way to know the truth.

And yet, most people in the US do not have the time or inclination to go check and see if the people running the government are actually doing all the stuff they say they are. They rely on media to give them their information in spoon-fed doses. It leads us to things like large groups of people not knowing the facts, and not caring. It leads to emotional responses instead of intellectual ones.

What I'm saying here, is that I don't think that the public should actually believe ads as much as they do. It's sad, and it's scary, and it's one of the reasons that I claim that people are all idiots. I do include myself in that, by the way, this is despair, not a sense of superiority.

I think I've made my point, and you get where I'm coming from: blindly believing advertisements can hurt you. Since that's out of the way, let me finally get to the article quote that I wanted to include.

Others are targeted toward particular constituencies -- which, in a tight race, could make a difference. "John Kerry's not a hunter -- he just plays one on TV," says NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox says in a spot showing a rifle-toting Kerry in camouflage -- giving way to a picture of a French poodle in a Kerry sweater.
Man. A French Poodle. That's pretty damn funny. And it's because of precisely this type of humor that I'm in favor of privately funded ads. Go ahead, people, amuse me!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Internet Polls Are More Fun!

I may have mentioned that I don't think that the rest of the world wants Bush to be President again.
Other people think so, too.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Radical Change Often Looks Tame in Hindsight

Today, being sick to death of campaign speeches, and completely unable to tell who might win or lose the upcoming election, I turned my sights over to Arts and Letters Daily hoping that they'd have something for me to sink my mind into that wasn't about military mistakes, or Senatorial voting records, or lies coming from both sides of the fence.

What I found was this lovely, yet incredibly long article by Bruce Bawer in the Wilson Quarterly. It contains, amongst the 18 million other ideas that it encompasses, the following quote:
In The New Yorker for November 30, 1963, the first issue of that magazine to appear after the assassination, the memorial article ended with the observation that “when we think of him, he is without a hat.” Ever since, it has been difficult to picture any of our chief executives with a hat.
Men used to wear hats! Every day! And the concept of a man not wearing a hat in public used to be radical! I mean, I get that the concept of women having a job outside the home used to be radical*, but bearing your hair to the elements was a new idea? Wow.

This article goes on and on about many things that we now take for granted that, at the time, seemed like crazy departures from the norm, but in the context of the couple of years that happened right before all the upheaval happened. It makes me wonder what we're going to classify as "naive" when we look back at today, 40 years from now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

A Legend Speaks

Of course, Hunter S. Thompson is a legend for being an out-of-his-mind whack job, but one who makes a lot of sense. How messed up is that?

His Rolling Stone article is a little hard to get in to, since it starts out doing the kind of steamroller approach that I think of as "fooling yourself". It works by saying the thing that you want to be true out loud, over and over again, even if it's a blatant lie. Thompson's repeated statements are too vigorous, too repeated, to one-sided - not admitting that your opponent has scored any points can be a dangerous business. Eventually, though, he stops crowing about how much better he thought that Kerry did in the debates than Bush, and gets in to some stuff that I found very moving.

Remember, though, this is Hunter S. Thompson; he'll never lose his signature style:

Some people say that George Bush should be run down and sacrificed to the Rat gods. But not me. No. I say it would be a lot easier to just vote the bastard out of office on November 2nd.

I LOVE popular Internet Quizzes!

You preferred Kerry's statements 78% of the time
You preferred Bush's statements 22% of the time

Voting purely on the issues you should vote Kerry

Who would you vote for if you voted on the issues?

Find out now!

So there you go - I agree with 22% of Bush's policies! That's way higher than I expected!

How do you *really* feel?

When writing something in a public forum, sometimes it's important to remember that strangers are reading it, and that they don't know you, and they might not necessarily understand all the nuances behind what you're saying.

Yesterday Jazz over at Running Scared commented on a piece in yet another blog, Dean's World. Dean seemed to be saying that disagreeing with the current administration in a vocal and obnoxious manner was unpatriotic. Really, it seemed like he was saying that to me, too. Parts of it were really cheesing me off. Especially when he said the thing about people resenting the "piddling cost" of the Iraqi war. Hoo, that made me see red!
And yet the piddling cost and the incredible work of our people is now routinely viewed as a disaster.
OK, incredible work! Great patriotism! I really do admire people who will fight and die because they think that it makes America a better and safer place to live! But PIDDLING COST?! Too far!

Damn, digressing again. OK, back to where I was. There's a long list of comments and dialogue on Jazz's site about how he's misinterpreted what Dean has said, that he's not advocating the idea that dissenters should be silenced, and that he didn't mean "that everyone who won't toe a specific ideological line is to be considered unpatriotic" (quoting Dean from the comments, there), but rather that Jazz has not understood his point.

On his own site, in the comments, Dean states the following:
Where do you get off suggesting that because I've said this, I want any of them forcibly silenced? Or that I want any of their "heads on a platter? They're just vile, disgusting people who make me a little ashamed. But then, I'm also proud to live in a country that gives such evil assholes the right to spout their evil. It just means that people like me have to work extra hard to counter their hate-speech with more speech.
I'm bothered by the use of the phrase "spout their evil". To me, evil's too strong a word to use about every day behavior. Killing children in front of their parents for fun is evil. Dumping toxic waste in public drinking water is evil. Basically, causing others irreparable pain to further your own interests and enjoyment, that's evil. Prominently spouting your opinion in a public forum? Obnoxious, maybe, but not evil. But, it wasn't until I read those words that I realized that I was, in my mind, damning Dean the same way that he seemed to be damning me (unknowingly, of course, he doesn't know me from Adam) in his column. I suddenly saw that we all think that we're right.

Now I understand that Dean doesn't want all the liberals forcibly converted or arrested for their "unpatriotic behavior", and that's a relief. But buddy, I'm telling you, as a stranger, it really read that way.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Just a quick link

Saw this over at Running Scared. It's a bit jarring, a bit sad, but I think that the arguments are good ones.

Bush Relatives for Kerry

I think the main thing I'm hoping for in Kerry will be the return of the "shades of grey" style of thinking. The whole "black or white", "my way or the highway" thing we've got going now doesn't allow for dialogue, it has no checks and balances. We should always have someone on board who says, "Wait, look at it a *different* way, for a minute".

Yesterday, a friend of mine brought up in an email discussion that he wishes that the country could remember that it's possible to compromise. Here, here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Yup, I'm still really liberal.

I admire this quote from Gore Vidal's interview over at immensely: What is the most important lesson from President Bush's term so far?

Vidal: That the American Republic has been discredited in favor of a
military state with curtailed civil rights for all. Now remove your shoes.

In fact, all the interviews are pretty interesting reading. And they've proven to me that Ann Coulter is really just crazy. I really wanted to swear, there, but I figure it would be in poor taste. Anyway, it's my opinion that Pat Buchanan comes off as sounding way more reasonable and less self-serving than she does, which has got to throw a flag up for somebody.

Completely on the lighter side

Compare this article: Hamster Health Warning
item number six on this page: The Sim Murder Page.

Coincidence? I think not!

Applause, applause

To one of the first really readable news stories I've seen in a while. And by readable, I mean that there's some statements in there that I haven't heard dashed painfully against my head like a rock. Well, at least they're rephrased a bit. Nothing in the world is totally new, right?

The entire Steve Holland Reuters piece can be viewed here.

Quote one:

"Zarqawi is a terrorist. We are fighting Mr. Zarqawi in Iraq. My opponent seems to think that if we were not fighting in Iraq, he would become a peaceful citizen. Zarqawi would be plotting, planning, ready to strike. He must be defeated there, so we do not face him here," Bush said.
Whoa! This is an actual point! And I agree, that it's pretty much true - Zarqawi *wouldn't* be peaceful if we weren't fighting in Iraq! Here's the only problem, though, as I see it - the fact that we *are* fighting in Iraq isn't going to make him a peaceful citizen, either. Or even stop his violence. If this man goes away, there's a hundred nearby who will take his place. I'm personally of the opinion that security and diplomacy, more than aggression, is the way to go. And in my heart, I feel that unless we can keep people from teaching intolerant terrorist ways to their children, that we're not going to make any progress at all. Still, at least the above quote is comprehensible, and actually says something.

Quote two:

As for Treasury Secretary John Snow's recent remark that job losses were a "myth," a statement that prompted Democrats to run TV ads against Bush in Ohio, Bush said: "I haven't talked to Secretary Snow, but all of us in this administration fully understand that there have been job losses... but there's also been 1.9 million new jobs created over the last 13 months."
Well, there you go. "all of us in this administration fully understand that there have been job losses...". That part alone makes the tight part in the back of my neck relax just a little bit. The idea that these new jobs are mostly low-level, and not so likely to bring people above the poverty level keeps the rest of the tension nice and taut.

People, if you're on the fence, even a little, think about the fact that if we continue to do exactly as we have done, we will continue to get exactly the same results. If there are things that we want to change, we must change the people making the decisions, first.

Monday, October 18, 2004

New Definition for "PAYGO"

OK, according to an article I read over at MSNBC this morning, hundreds of thousands of dollars in change is being left behind at airports. The money that isn't claimed is then deposited into the U.S. Treasury's General Fund. So, I'm thinking that we can now define "pay/go"* as "You go somewhere, you inadvertently wind up paying off some of the national debt". It's practically transparent! I finally understand why airport security takes a hundred years with long lines; if you're cutting it close, you're less likely to remember the small change. What with the majority of American citizens who take airplanes not giving a damn whether or not they see that 44 cents again, it's deviously brilliant.

*(I'm trying *so* hard to find some sort of grammatically correct way to write that stupid sound-bite)

Friday, October 15, 2004

Fuzzy Math

Unlike fuzzy sweaters, fuzzy math is not in the list of my favorite things.
Sadly, I can't wear most fuzzy sweaters, since I'm allergic to both mohair and angora, but once again, I derail myself from the tracks of the point.

Realizing that I'm a big lefty reading and watching only people who give me the warm fuzzies (see a pattern here), I decided to brave new ground and go over to Fox News today. I read the piece about Kerry trying to explain away the Mary Cheney comment. He should have said what I said, it appeals to people on a really basic level. But he didn't. Oh, well, his loss.

After that, I headed to an article about the deficit, containing this quote
Citing data pointing to economic improvements, Treasury Secretary John Snow said, "All of this shows that the president's tax relief initiatives are having the intended effects."

Now, I'm no economic genius, but didn't we used to have a balanced budget? I understand that there was artificial economic inflation, and that the numbers were bound to come tumbling down, and that 9/11 caused a huge economic backlash, and that both these things happened in the past four years, so yeah, the numbers aren't going to look that good. And they're not going to look good no matter who's in charge. But that quote makes my brain feel twisty. When more money's going out, how in the world does it help the deficit to have less money coming in?

In the debate Thursday night, Bush said this:

BUSH: Well, his rhetoric doesn't match his record. He been a senator for 20years. He voted to increase taxes 98 times. When they tried to reduce taxes, he voted against that 127 times. He talks about being a fiscal conservative, or fiscally sound, but he voted over -- he voted 277 times to waive the budget caps, which would have cost the taxpayers $4. 2 trillion. He talks about PAYGO. I'll tell you what PAYGO means, when you're a senator fromMassachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy, pay go means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends.

No politician is ever going to win my vote by declaring that they will keep us out of the "tax and spend" mind set. There has to be money to run the government and if you don't get that money from "tax and spend", then the only alternative that I can really see to it is "borrow and spend". How's that better?