Thursday, March 31, 2005

Corzine and the Basics

Yesterday Jon Corzine officially announced his candidacy for New Jersey Governor.
"It's time for a leader who comes to state government from a different experience: someone who is not encumbered by an old culture, historical entanglements and the status quo," he said.

Truthfully, it's time for a leader who doesn't have to make deals with people who have their own agendas in order to get funding and votes. Sure, that's harsh, but it's my opinion that the support of those with less than the state's best interests in mind have played too large a role in getting our state-level leaders elected. I think that we've started down the right path of spending reform in the state with Codey, and I hope to see Corzine continue down it.

There are those who would criticize, of course. From the article above:
In a written statement, New Jersey Republican Chairman Tom Wilson criticized Corzine's record, saying it shows him to be "a classic tax and spend Democrat."

"Trusting Jon Corzine to cut New Jersey's budget would be about as smart as trusting Michael Jackson to babysit your kids," Wilson said.

Now, of course, if you've been reading me for any amount of time, you know how I feel about "tax and spend" - IT'S HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO WORK. What's the opposite of tax and spend, borrow and spend, so that we have massive debt? Tax and spend less, so that we have fewer programs? Tax less and spend less, so that we have fewer programs and no money in the bank to deal with emergencies? No. We, as a densely populated, successful state, pay taxes. With these taxes, we do things like pave roads, fund schools, provide social programs, and pay the salaries of all the people who arrange and provide these services. Without the taxes, the money does not come from the air.

Can we spend our money more wisely? Absolutely. Do I think that Corzine can fix all of our problems? No, of course not. This is government, after all, and every cut affects someone, every reform brings new challenges. But I do believe that he'll do his best, and that's all I personally ask. Perhaps his plans will "ease the tax burdens" of NJ citizens, as he says. I think we should give him the chance to try.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I Can Post again!

Sweet Charity, I can post!

Not that I know what to say, now, but *man* I'm glad I can post again!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Lame Excuse Time

I know, it's a lame excuse, but I've got an awful headache today and don't feel like expending the mental effort it would take to write an entire essay.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Dumbo Seems More Real to Me, Now

Elephants can talk! I knew it!

Elephants learn through copying
Elephant rumbles are known to be sophisticated and varied
Elephants learn some of their calls through imitation, scientists report in this week's Nature magazine.
Yes, I understand that they don't speak English... yet.

We need a reminder

That Tom DeLay is surrounded by scandal for improper political conduct. *I* was reminded by C.B.

DeLay at center of political storm
His troubles began last fall, when three political fund-raisers with ties to him were indicted in his home state of Texas. Then the House ethics committee admonished him, not once but three times. Since then, questions have been raised about whether he knew about the dubious sources of money behind trips he took to Britain and South Korea.

Right! I forgot he did those things! I was so busy being outraged at his pompous windbag speech about how the whole Terri Schiavo case is about *him*, I was distracted!

Oh, and I also forgot that he's not just nutty about that, but rather he's pretentious and holier-than thou in a general sense:
Ahead of the 2000 presidential race, he outlined a vision where "we march forward with a biblical worldview, a worldview that says God is our Creator, that man is a sinner, and that we will save this country by changing the hearts and minds of Americans."
What the hell is that all about? Is he saying that the USA is a nation of sinners, and it's up to congress to save our souls? That's appalling!

This man makes me feel like I have to say things out loud, like "The world can't be judged in black and white, every situation has shades of grey", and "Saying that you can take the side of Good or Evil is such a simplistic childish notion, that it cannot seriously be discussed on an adult level". I'm forced to iterate truths that I hold to be self-evident, you know what I mean?

Throw on top of that the fact that he's obviously weasely about money, and I'm at a loss to undertsand why people support him.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Can You Thrive Without Growth?

Interesting headline in the NYT today: Vibrant Cities Find One Thing Missing: Children

At first I thought it was just going to be about how no one can afford to raise children in Manhattan, but surprisingly, it focused a lot on Portland, Oregon. And more interesting figures were brought up
Nationally, the birthrate has been dropping while the overall population is aging as life expectancy increases. The problem is not just in cities. New figures released this month showed North Dakota losing more children than any other state.
By "losing more children", they mean that the population is aging, and new children are not being born at the same rates as they have in the past.

The article goes on to talk about how having children in a city really improves the quality of life there, but my mind wandered elsewhere. I was thinking of the concept of a United States that was not growing. Have we reached critical USA mass? Can we continue to prosper as a world superpower if we're not getting bigger? Without growth, will we lose our status? It seems possible to me, but I'm pretty pessimistic, lately.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Pink vs. Blue

The discussion about boys and girls being different continues over at Running Scared. The comments carry the discussion a little further.

So what am I on about? The idea that men and women aren't the same. The original impetus was a statement by Lawrence Summers of Harvard that women's and men's brains have fundamental differences. The other of the Herald's article jumps right from there to point out immediate physical differences. OK, the physical differences exist. No one can reasonably argue that. What really has women up in arms about this whole thing, I think, is that we can't stand to hear that men are better than us at math.

In the comments of his post, Jazz says
"A difference in how people best learn is still a difference in their mental structure, no? The example is not meant to say that women are intrinsically worse at math and science. It only says that they score more poorly on tests. This could easily be explained by a fundamental difference in their brains and the fact that normal school environments are competitive in nature."
I felt the need to answer.

To my way of thinking, structure is not the same thing as potential. I know that at math and science I rock. Call me arrogant, but I know that. I work in a technical field, and it's true, I'm surrounded by more men than women, but I know that I'm good at what I do, and so do they. I think that's why it bothers me personally to hear that "girls aren't good at math". It's because I am, and it makes me wonder if that means that I've got a different kind of brain, and that's a *really* uncomfortable feeling. So, what I maintain is just because we learn it at a different pace (boys - reading, girls - math) doesn't mean that we don't eventually reach the same levels, in accordance with our personal aptitudes.

Does that make sense to anyone else? What I'm trying to say is that each of us as an individual has a certain level of potential as to what we can learn. Some will excel at philosophy, some will excel at physics. Some will always be able to tell how other people are feeling, some will be able to understand how to build a structure with maximum support. The amount of time you take to reach that potential varies by individual as much as the potential itself. And while men's and women's brains may process items differently, that doesn't mean that those items won't both eventually be processed by both kinds of brains.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I know I'm ignoring the big stuff

But sometimes I like to blog about positive stories. I was reading over at, and I liked this very much:

Hoping they click
The photographers -- people like William Coupon, whose pictures have graced the cover of Time magazine, and Martin Schoeller, who hasphotographed Brad Pitt and Jamie Foxx -- have volunteered their time to give these children a better shot at finding adoptive homes.

The collaboration is called the Heart Gallery -- an idea that began in 2001 in Sante Fe, N.M.,and soon spread to Massachusetts, Florida, Ohio and Connecticut. Last fall, in Hartford, Conn., 40 photographs of foster children led to 19 adoptions of hard-to-place children.


The main mission of the Heart Gallery, said Van Hemmen, "is to find homes for as many of these kids as we possibly can, but I also hope it will raise awareness. There are many great kids in the foster system who deserve a break. Many of them have gotten lost. Hopefully, the Heart Gallery will change that."

For more information about the children or the Heart Gallery project, go to or call (800) 99ADOPT. Donations may be made to Heart Gallery of New Jersey, P.O. Box 4139, Clifton, N.J. 07012.

Helping kids find homes is a cause I like. Now you know.

Moral Conscience Mislaid

What happened to the days of the college campus protest? The sit-in? When students tool a stand for causes they believe in? Whatever happened, those days are gone, and apparently they've been replaced by students whining about shoving affluence in the face of others. Hello, this is America, folks! You're supposed to reach for whatever level you want? If you want to reach for the place where someone else does your vacuuming, then it follows suit that someone is actually going to have to do the vacuuming.

We have so many problems that need addressing before this ever should have been bothered with.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Things I believe, as of March 21, 2005

An unborn fetus that cannot survive on its own is not yet a person. Soul or no soul, it cannot think and breathe on its own. This is why I do not believe that abortion is murder.

People whose brains have been destroyed by illness or accident are indeed people, but if you can never think again, your life has been ended. The fact that your body doesn't know this seems inherently cruel to me, but there it is. With no upper brain function, no chance to think, or feel or know, I don't feel that you can claim that this is life any more.

Soldiers are people. Each and every one of them. Soldiers on both sides of any war are all people. Each has thoughts and feelings and reactions, no matter how intensely they suppress them in able to be good soldiers. Killing people is a terrible thing, no matter what the reason. Torture is not very far below the killing, as it is intended to remove the humanity of a person.

You cannot claim that you make decisions based on a culture of life and simultaneously support a war. It is contradictory and hypocritical. If you believe that unborn fetuses have the same rights as functional adults, then why don't soldiers have those same rights? It doesn't make sense.

Having said that, I also know that I do not live in a world of ideals. All those thoughts and feelings that I keep mentioning have dramatic and unexpected effects every day, every moment. Wars happen because people stubbornly refuse to believe that compromises can be made without retribution from an angry god, or worse, loss of dignity.

I wish there was no war, but I understand that there is. Beyond that, I wish that there was no war in Iraq, right now. I am NOT supporting Palestinians, or insurgents, or anyone who seems to be putting out an opinion that the only way to peace is the suppression of other people's rights, but I am also not supporting the acts of war that we're using to counter them. I don't think it's working, you see. We're not even keeping people safe by making them oppressed and miserable, we're only bringing more danger with the oppression, making it that much more unsavory.

I believe that we should make decisions based on what will lift oppression and misery, we should take the side of those that would battle poverty and injustice. When we've taken steps that we think are in this direction but turn out to be misguided, when we're on a dead-end and we cannot come out to a crossroads that will once again point us towards our goal, we should turn back so that we can once again find the correct path.

Like Minds

Well, as I was ranting about how idiotic it was for Congress to be involved in the Schiavo case, and how state's rights are something that I thought Republicans were supposed to be supportive of, and how calling a brain-dead woman to testify was grandstanding of the worst degree, so was Turnspit Daily. Only, maybe a little more cohesively than I did.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Dead or Alive

I have a post up at Running Scared about the latest development in the Terri Schiavo case.


And this time, the intolerant one is *me*!

Ron Beasley, from Middle Earth Journal, whom I usually enjoy reading, has put a piece called "It's not a matter of choice". Here, let me quote the part that's made me realize my intolerance:
Should abortion be legal is not a question of "choice". The only question is whether a fetus is a human being or not. For society as a whole that is a decision society must make and the laws will reflect that.
Do I think a fetus is a human being? Do I think that abortion should be legal? Those are not my choices to make any more than it is my choice to decide that one or more races are not human beings. It is Societies "choice" not my "choice".
See, there it is. The following paragraph is my pure, unadulterated, unaltered to make it less harsh opinion.

No, A fetus is not yet a human being. A born baby is a human being. A thing growing inside a woman's body without fully formed limbs or organs, or features is not a person. I understand that there are people who think that life starts at the moment of conception, and I would never *make* anyone like that have an abortion, but you know what? I think that those people are WRONG. I do. I think of them as foolish people who won't accept science over religion. I think of them as being led by the nose as opposed to thinking for themselves.

I've made my decision, and I find myself intolerant of those who refuse to agree. I really do expect everyone I like to agree with me on this. I do! It's right, how can you see things any other way?

It's a little uncomfortable knowing I've got an opinion that I'm not willing to consider the other side of, but it's true. I do NOT think that an undeveloped fetus is a person, whether or not the possibility for it to develop into one exists. Therefore, the idea that I would HAVE to make that into a person USING MY BODY makes me crazy.

Oh - and you know what else I'm intolerant of? Men who think that they COULD EVER UNDERSTAND. You CAN'T. Get over it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Blogrrl Quote of the Day

No, I'm not going to do one of these every day, but the language was so succinct, the comment so refreshing - I refer to Mahablog, in her post "Take a Clue. Any Clue.", and the fabulous line:
Nothing like pointing out that people are idiots. At least I always like it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Inflated Ego Issues

Cross posted on Running Scared.

Today's reading is yesterday's NYT article on Bush's dealing with Iran, and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It bothers me immensely that the U.S.'s position is to reinterpret a document and continue acting as if we're a parent to the world.

It's not that I trust Iran. I said in a comment further down the page that I can't "know" that Iran would make weapons with nuclear materials. I take that back. I expect that Iran would make weapons ina second if tey thought that they could get away with it. If I were in their shoes, I'd be thinking frantically what would be the best way to keep the U.S. the hell off my land.

I'm not even against limiting the enrichment of Uranium in the case of other locales that seem like they too would like to make themselves some shiny new bombs. The fewer nuclear weapons that exist in the world, the better, I say.

My problem is, rather, the way we come across.
After a visit to Tehran last week for a conference that Iran sponsored to explain its nuclear ambitions, George Perkovich, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said he had concluded that Mr. Bush had the right instinct, but might not be taking the right approach.

The Iranians have decided to go on the offensive and simply assert their right, even if the treaty doesn't explicitly say that they have a right to enrich their own uranium," he said Monday. The view expressed by Iran's nuclear negotiators, he said, amounted to "We're not hiding it, we're not embarrassed by it, and no one is going to take our right away."
That's the gist of it. We threaten, and treat other countries like children who must be watched. We need to remember that we are *not* a parent to the world, and that pride exists everywhere, and will color people's reactions. We need to remember that we've called ourselves a superpower for a long time and yet we find ourselves unable to put down insurgency in one small country. We need to remind ourselves that we live in the world, not rule it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


U.S., Pakistan admit bin Laden trail is cold
Christ on a cracker, people, you just figured that out?!

The article talks about how "they almost had him" as recently as "about 10 months ago". Sure, you did.

So, what do I do, make the obligatory comment about how glad I am that we're concentrating all of our forces in Afghanistan, and that we've got our eye on the prize? Do I say something disparaging about people who don't know the location of their own rear-ends?

Nah. I'll just quote Dorothy Parker in a nice non-sequential ending:

Newsflash (by Dorothy Parker)
Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Uneasy Monday

Report: Israel has plans to hit Iran nuke plant
Quote one:
LONDON - Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran’s atomic program, London’s Sunday Times said.
Well that's not good news. I get the feeling that Iran is an angry nation, much stronger than the ones we've currently been bullying. A military stirke by Israel would result in Iran fighting back.

Quote two:
U.S. officials have indicated they would not stand in Israel’s way if international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear projects fail, the paper said.
Oh, good. So I can't count on my government to be a voice of reason, here. Fabulous.

Quote three:
"We will defend our nuclear sites with all our strength and we are ready to ward off any possible aggression," Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told the semi-official INSA students news agency on Saturday.
See? That's what I said!

Quote four:
Asked if there was a possibility that Israel could attack Iranian nuclear installations, Vice Premier Shimon Peres said: "I don’t think so."
Oh. OK, so that makes it nice and clear, then.

This is what has made me uneasy this morning. Does Israel have an attack plan? Has the U.S. OK'ed it? Is this just an awful rumor planted in the London Times by the U.S. that we'll use as an example of why we "had" to invade Iran, later on? What are the odds of something printed in the London Times being completely untrue? Completely? I'm guessing those are long odds. I don't actually see anything good coming out of an attack on Iran, so I'm hoping that all this talk reamins at the talk and rumor level - forever.

One thing that really bothers me about it, though, is that the Israelis have a reputation for running a top-level military operation. I kind of have it in the back of my mind that if they were actually planning on attacking Iranian nuclear sites, that the only way people outside the operation would find out is when the explosions started.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Peaceful Protests...

Wish they didn't have to protest in the first place., though.

Via Buzz Machine (and others whom he mentions and links to), there's some protesting going on in Bahrain about bloggers who've been arrested. For blogging. I know that we've all been having a hard time remembering lately exactly which rights we were supposed to be considering inalienable, but freedom of speech is one that most of us can remember, most of the time. Honest opinions and reporting of publicly available facts should be allowed. Period. These bloggers should be set free, and the people brave enough to stand up for them in a peaceful manner are my kind of people.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Am I Unfairly Biased?

This is the question I'm asking myself today. I ask myself this one a lot, in truth, because I try to balance the "I feel this way because it's the only opiion to have!" side of me with the "Everyone is an individual with feelings and rights" side of me. Crazy, I know.

Anyway, today's issue is a big one: Lebanon, Syria, and whether or not the US should support Hezbollah. Today's NYT has an article called U.S. Called Ready to See Hezbollah in Lebanon Role (registration probably required).
After years of campaigning against Hezbollah, the radical Shiite Muslim party in Lebanon, as a terrorist pariah, the Bush administration is grudgingly going along with efforts by France and the United Nations to steer the party into the Lebanese political mainstream, administration officials say.

The administration's shift was described by American, European and United Nations officials as a reluctant recognition that Hezbollah, besides having a militia and sponsoring attacks on Israelis, is an enormous political force in Lebanon that could block Western efforts to get Syria to withdraw its troops.

Wow. My first impression of this was that it was like a bad movie where they put the most out-of-control student in charge of the class, and the sudden responsibility sobers him to the point that he sees the error of his ways. But that seemed like it was too flip, this is a very serious issue, I shouldn't be making fun.

My second thought was "How can we possibly back a terrorist organization as a viable political force?" That one's more serious, and it seems to be how I actually feel. I'm always surprised when a right leaning tendency pops up in my brain, but I think that this one's wedged in there pretty firmly and isn't going to be leaving any time soon.

I want to think that the Lebanese people are all individuals with rights, but by all I hold dear, I can NOT get behind the idea of supporting a group of people who have used covert violence to further their cause. And, of course, their cause is the destruction of Israel. Destruction. They'd like to push the Jews into the ocean. If the U.S. could be destroyed as well, hey that would be just peachy! Because the U.S. is an ally to Israel, which makes us an enemy to Hezbollah.

The kindler gentler approach to "Palestine" is starting to make me angry. These people send out their own on suicide missions, they teach their young to hate, the leaders purposefully keep their populous in poverty in order to keep the hate festering, and over and over is repeated the "fact" that it's all the fault of Israel and the U.S. Well you know what -and you do actually know this - it's NOT our fault. We just want everyone to go about their lives, living in whatever the heck country they're already in. Apparently, this is too much to ask.

The article quotes an arab diplomat who wished to remain anonymous:
"Why don't they realize that once America makes a case for something, the Middle East will go in the opposite direction?"
And there you have it. Whatever it is, if the Americans want it, do NOT do it. These people don't want to work with us. It's time to take of the kid gloves and stop pretending that you can love everyone, which, by the way, coming from this administration is RIDICULOUS. It is time to stand up straight and say that the U.S. is an ally of Israel. It seems as if we're trying to play both sides of the fence, but we're only welcome on one of the sides!

I wish I could just say "Screw Lebanon, screw Hezbollah, let Syria go ahead and stay". I wish it was that easy. But since I can't, in good conscience, recommend that the best thing for a country is occupation, I find that I don't know what to say at all.

Email Conversation of the Day

I realy wanted to share this conversation with the world:

>>> And I want to help other people and further government social
>>>programs. People hate me for that, now, too.

>>I can't remember where I saw it because I've been
>>hopscotching all over
>>the blogosphere at night but I found a great suggestion: the neocons
>>whole schtick is being serious and grownup and intimidation. What we
>>need is a world-wide game of Point&Laugh. It'd screw things
>>up royally
>>if we all just laughed at their every suggestion.

>>Subtext: tiny wee wees = tiny brains.

> I can just see my next post: Survey Shows Neocons have Tiny, Tiny
> Penises.

We've found our Gigi!

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Around the World, Starting Here

Between seeing a piece on Joe Territo's blog that Jessie Ventura is backing Joe Piscopo for NJ Governor, reading over at Running Scared that Walmart is pushing for some new laws for truck drivers that I find appalling, and reading about even more beheaded bodies being discovered in Iraq, I could really use some good news.

To be fair, the death thing has me way more upset than the Joe Piscopo thing, but I don't particularly love that idea. Maybe if I read up more about his positions and qualifications... No, never mind, it's depressing.

Anybody happy about something? Want to tell me about it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Laws of the Land

(inspired by Ron at the Middle Earth Journal, even though this isn't actually what he was talking about)

OK, quick quiz - what are the oldest laws you can think of. You know, ones that are so old that it's hard to think of laws older, so well known that pretty much everybody round these here parts has heard them over and over?

Give up? No, you know? That's right! The Ten Commandments.

So, may I ask, what's so wrong with having a set of really old laws made into statues and tablets and stuff and displayed in front of government buildings? Is there some sort of *new* law that says that because we display a religious symbol that symbols from other religions are somehow less important?

I just think that in this particular case, a display of the Ten Commandments is pretty much in context. Like the caduceus displayed on the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps home page. It is indeed a religious symbol, but because it's so associated with medicine, no one would ever think to be offended by it. OK, it's pretty much a defunct religion, but I'm trying to make a point, here.

Are we *really* supposed to keep all religious displays out of public places? Or, instead, is it OK to have a display from any religion - any religion - wherever the heck it seems appropriate? We're supposed to, as Americans, never suppress anyone's ability to practice their religion. This kind of thing, in my opinion, does not violate that spirit.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Head, Meet Desk. Repeat.

U.S. Says It Doesn't Send Off Prisoners for Torture
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Monday the United States would never send terrorism suspects to countries where they would be tortured but admitted once they have been dispatched to nations like Saudi Arabia or Egypt the U.S. government has little control.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang...

Confusing but Interesting

Munch Paintings Stolen in Norway

So, someone steals paintings that are way too famous to steal on the open market. Apparently, it's not even that hard, what with the lack of alarms, and a hotel staffer who actually interrupts the theft failing to actually stop it. Anyway, these people now have these famous paintings. What are they going to do with them, sell them to private buyers like the world is actually some kind of movie starring Steve McQueen or Pierce Brosnan? It's a bizarre thought.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Maybe We're Not *In* Kansas Anymore

Via Atrios:

Kansas Voters Keep Anti-Bias Ordinance
Voters on Tuesday upheld an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in municipal hiring, turning back a repeal movement led by a minister known for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims.


In final, unofficial results, 53 percent opposed the repeal, with 14,285 voting "no," and 12,795 voting "yes."
All right, I personally find this margin way too slim for comfort, but in an area of the country where I expect the majority of people voting to be terrified homophobes who refuse to be shown reason, I'm heartened.

Was that too harsh? Maybe. I don't actually know anyone who lives in Kansas, although I've known people who've left Kansas.

Either way, if you know me at all, you know that I feel that the municipality should hire the person who would do the best job of filing your home remodeling permits, no matter what race, religion, creed, or sexual orientation they may be. As long as the applicant with the absolute best command of alphabetizing gets the position, I'm satisfied.

In the article, Rev. Phelps is quoted as calling homosexuality a "filthy lifestyle". Oh, like being heterosexual in any way guarantees that you're not living a filthy lifestyle outside the office, but being gay does. This guy's a bigoted jerk.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

A Move I Actually Approve Of

Rather than always post about things I disagree with, I try to every once in a while put up a post about something that I actually support. Today, I support not killing minors.

High court: Juvenile death penalty unconstitutional
The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.
Yes, cruel. Snuffing out a life before it's even had 18 years to develop into something cohesive seems utterly wrong to me. Good going, Supremes!

Surprisingly, I'm not anti-death penalty. I am, however, very much in favor of only using it under the most severe circumstances. It's a heavy subject, and that should never be forgotten. Without life, there's no hope, and snuffing out hope should always be the very last resort.