Friday, March 31, 2006

Notes From My Personal Life

Last weekend I was running an Event. I use a capital "E", because good gravy, it was huge. Tons of people. Tons of activities, tons of staff running each of the individual things.

In my estimation, it all went off amazingly well. People flowed all over the place, talking, laughing, singing, dancing - everything. Food showed up hot and on time, no one fell down a flight of stairs, I was pretty happy. I got phone calls saying how great it all was. I got email after email of congratulations. I looked forward to opening emails with the name of the event in the subject line. And then, I was brought up short. Ouch.

During the day, I was involved in a conversation with a friend. We were in a hallway, and there were all sorts of people around. At some point in the conversation, my friend swore. That's right, he used a cuss-word. A woman sitting on the bench across the hallway exclaimed, "Language! There are children present!". She looked right at me as if to get my support.

Bad move. I personally feel like people have the right to use whatever language they want. This wasn't a G-rated movie, it was just life. It was a crowded hallway at an event, and there happened to be a few little girls running around playing somewhere near us. I looked back at the woman, shrugged, and said, "It's a public place, what are you gonna do."

Not like a challenge, mind you, but as if to say, "Hey, these things happen".

Little did I know that I was talking to the Most Uptight Woman at the event. Oy. She waited 4 days - 4 days! and then, she wrote me an email. Not just to me, though, oh, no, also to her brother, who it seems is the father of one of the little girls running through the hallway, and to other officers of the club we're involved in. It ran on and on about how I shocked and offended her by not being shocked and offended by someone swearing in front of children. Perhaps I should have let her know that I don't enjoy the company of children. Think that would have helped? No, probably not.

She asked me questions that assume that I have the same kind of moral outlook that she does. She wanted to know how I'd feel if it was my child who'd heard that, and they repeated it in front of Grandma (big deal) or in church (double big deal)? What if a child asked me, "What does 'fuck' mean?"? What would I do then? As if I never had a kid ask me an embarrassing question! Kids say things you never expect them to - horrifyingly embarrassing things - all the time. Unless it's some 4-year-old stranger asking me why I'm fat (and yes, every 4 year old I meet asks me that damn question), I'm just going to try to let it go. If I can't let it go, I say something like, "sweetie, that's not the kind of question you can ask a grown-up, because it's not actually very nice, and hurts people's feelings." If a child asks me what a swear word means, I'll give them something similar, unless they're really old enough to know, and their parents are there, and cool with me telling the truth.

So I'm looking over this email, and at the fact that she's copied people on it, as if it's some sort of official government complaint, and I'm thinking bad, bad words myself. Especially when I realized that there might actually be some club rules in place about public profanity. Yeesh. This is the point where I realized I was going to have to apologize to her, in writing. And I did. I wrote her the following (and copied all the people she had copied, as well):

I would like to sincerely apologize.

I am truly sorry that what I said caused you offense.
and that's IT. There just isn't any more of me that I can give on that one. I am sorry - I'm sorry that this woman has such a big stick up her ass that she had to write a formal letter of complaint because in her opinion, I had an inappropriate reaction to someone else causing her offense.

Yes, I am sorry for her, indeed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Signs of Spring

This morning as I was walking to my desk, I almost collided with a stranger coming around a corner. Both of us pulled up short, and he said, "Oh! Good Morning! Here!"

He handed me a daffodil.
I took it, looking confused.
"It's spring!" he said.

"Thank you!" I replied, and he walked away.

Now, I have a daffodil on my desk in a water bottle for a vase. It must be spring, indeed.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Blood

New White House Chief of Staff.

Thanks to "West Wing", I understand what this guy does, in a TV Drama kind of way. Joshua Bolten will be taking over, and, I predict, will also be mixed up with John Bolton for years to come.
Bolten served as deputy White House chief of staff in Bush's first term and then was moved over to head the budget office at a time when spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as Medicare benefits and the recovery from Hurricane Katrina pushed up deficits. In an attempt to deal with the new spending demands, Bolten oversaw two consecutive budgets that actually cut overall non-security discretionary domestic spending. But many Republicans in Congress have complained that the administration has not done enough to tighten the federal belt.
Ah, so I already know that I'm not that thrilled with his previous work (not that I'm "many Republicans"). Terrific!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Warning - I'm in a Crap Mood

I'm too damn busy, and I did it to myself. Still, I cannot resist blogging. I'm such a ham it's sad.

So last night, a friend calls me, let's call her "Pfefferneuse". Anyway, she says to me, "So how come YOUR governor is raising taxes?". Like it wasn't going to happen if we had Forrester.

All right, maybe Forrester wouldn't have raised taxes, maybe he would have just driven us further into debt even worse than Corzine's going to. Because New Jersey's going a bit further into debt, believe you me.

Why? Because we have a million programs that make the quality of life better for the average New Jersey resident. Some of them are vital, and some of them are idiotic. None of them ever get cut, because of deals with bosses and contracts with corporations, or just perhaps the sponsorship of someone very powerful.

Throw on top of the HORRENDOUS amount of corruption I've seen happen in certain school districts - like when (this is my favorite example) the woman who was sleeping with the principal got a new mahogany desk while the other teachers were told to bring in their own pencils - and you get a black hole of money.

"Who will stop the corruption?", I wonder. So far, it seems like no one. "Who will cut state's programs, because we just don't have enough budget money to cover them all?". No one has enough power to slice them cruelly enough, not even our governor. Not that I'd want them to, I *like* having after school programs for kids, and meals for seniors and that sort of thing. I give my own money to that stuff on top of the taxes.

So there it is. We're going to spend billions of dollars, and we're not taking enough billions of dollars in. When there's programs, someone has to pay for them.

"Waaah!", people who live in nice houses cry, I'm already spending so much money on my taxes that I can't pay off my SUV early! "Boo-hoo!", sez Libby McFashion plate, "I can't afford all the new shoes I want because of my property taxes!"

I know there are people who can't afford to buy groceries, but they're not the ones on the phone accusing me of causing the higher taxes. It's the people who *can* tighten their belts, but don't want to. You know what? I don't really want to either, now, do I!

Cry me a river, people, at least we're not California.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Heart

Ah, nothing like misleading people through the media:

RNC Mischaracterizes Feingold's Censure Resolution
A GOP radio ad accuses Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin of proposing to censure President Bush "for pursuing suspected members of al Qaeda," which isn't true. Feingold has stated he supports wiretapping suspected terrorists. His measure would censure Bush for ordering wiretaps on US soil without a court warrant, for failing to notify all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees, and for "efforts to mislead the American people" about the legality of the program.
That is possibly the most weasely wording I have seen so far this year.
Feingold and the PATRIOT Act

The radio ad says the PATRIOT Act "has disrupted over one hundred and fifty terrorist threats and cells," a claim that rests solely on statements from the Department of Justice and which hasn't been independently verified. The ad also says Feingold is leading Democrats in "opposing the PATRIOT Act and terrorist surveillance program."
Ah, nothing like throwing figures out into the ether when no one on earth will ever be able to prove them.
Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats intend to impeach the President if they gain control of Congress.

Well, actually, that's what I'm kind of hoping will happen. What can I say, I believe that our president is really crappy at hiding the illegal and immoral things he does. This makes me think that, if hearings show evidence of malfeasance, that he should indeed be impeached.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Tech Repairs All Around

On Monday, March 6th, my iPod died. The battery was just too old, and it wasn't going to charge for me any more, no matter how I begged. I know - it's so sad! But it was 3 years old, and it had a good run, it did. It's a 3rd-gen custom painted 20gb model that I bought through Colorware.

OK, so now I had a decision to make, and here's what I thought that decision was: send my iPod somewhere to be fixed, or dump it and buy myself a sexy new video iPod. I asked my friends at lunch. I did mention that I work at the corporate I.S. headquarters for a major U.S. company, right?

Me: My iPod died!
Friend 1 (process guy): My wife bought me one of those, a Nano. I don't know what to really use it for.
Me: You use it for listening to music, dork.
Friend 1: I have CDs for that.
Friend 2 (guy with EE degree): What do you mean, died?
Me: Battery. 3 years old, Kaput.
Freind 2: Send it back for a new battery.
Me: It's old. No warranty. Won't that cost me?
Freind 2: I think about $100 bucks (I never checked this figure, btw)
Friend 3 (hardware guy): You don't get your own back.
Me: What do you mean I don't get my own back?
Freind 3: When you send it to Apple, they don't promise to send you back the one you sent in. They could send you back any reconditioned working iPod.
Me: That's no good, mine's custom painted. I want that back!
Friend 2: It's custom painted?
Me: Do you ask useful questions? Yes. I bought it from Colorware PC, and it's an excellent metallic colorchange thingy that goes from green to purple. They don't even sell that paint choice any more, I checked.

(awkward silence)

Me: So, do you think I should get it fixed, or go buy a new one?
Friend 3: Change the battery yourself.
Me: Really?
Friend 2: Unless you just want to buy a new one (and you're wasting our time is what he was implying, there)
Me: How do I change the battery myself? That thing's not designed to be opened.
Friend 3: Look on the Internet, web chick.
Me: I am now ashamed.

So I went out on the Internet, and I found that I could purchase a battery for $36, includign shipping, from Laptops for Less. Heck, they even include a tiny screwdriver to pry the thing open, and step-by-step instructions. It turns out they included a tiny philip's head which I wound up not using, anyway, because how the hell do you pry with a philip's head? But everything else was golden.

I successfully replaced my iPod battery! My pretty purple/green changing iPod works again! I am very happy!

Good thing my gearhead friends shamed me into doing some actual work, there. I am sad that I find myself so busy that it took me until the 18th to do it, but hey, 12 days of down time is nothing in the world of procrastination that is my "to do list".

Very happy!

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm In Repeats, Already

Amusingly, today I take my numbers from the Heritage Foundation.

A graph:Spending is Accelerating
Federal spending reached $2.157 trillion in 2003, with a budget deficit of $374 billion. In 2004, federal spending is projected to reach $2.294 trillion, with a budget deficit of $477 billion.
One might notice that back in the earlier years of this graph, when we had more Democrats in office, spending was lower (spare me the war excuse, I'm still not in favor of the damn thing) and taxes were... higher? Sort of. Taxes are funny in ways that only people who truly love numbers can understand. But they certainly weren't lower overall.

As I've said before, my daddy always told me that the difference between a Democrat and a Republican is that a Democrat will tax and spend, and a Republican will borrow and spend. Every day the world proves my father right.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Creepy, Crawly

Well, definitely creepy.

(hat tip, Raw Story)

U.S. Military Plans to Make Insect Cyborgs
In an announcement posted on government Web sites last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, says it is seeking "innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect cyborgs," by implanting tiny devices into insect bodies while the animals are in their pupal stage.
OK, I'm creeped out now. Still, the project has its limitations:
Several years ago, DARPA launched a $3 million project to train honeybees to find landmines. According to a report by the American Forces Press Service, scientists used sugar-soaked sponges treated with explosives to get the bees to identify the smell as a possible food source.

But last week's solicitation says the project didn't work out.
Possibly because a honeybee's brain is smaller than a honeybee. Just a guess.

Seriously, I'm creeped out by the idea of controlling living creatures as if they were robots, no matter how small their brains. It seems so unlikely in my brain that I keep thinking we're talking about a movie. Gives me the shivers, it does.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Breakfast Time

When the DPW news broke, I dashed off a quick reactionary post. I was then taken to task in the comments for not knowing enough about the structure of DPW. Fair enough, I was wrong about the actual structure. I do not feel that I was wrong in my sentiment that the same rich white guys will be making money off of this deal no matter what "entity" is running port terminals leased by P&O.

Cut to today: I'm catching up over at Brilliant at Breakfast (because i do indeed think that Jill is often brilliant), and I find a post about the Carlyle group. Jill points us at this page, which shows a relationship between the Carlyle group and DPW.

Doesn't anyone find it interesting that whenever there's something that just doesn't feel right involving national security or other national emergencies, it's always either the Carlyle Group or Halliburton that's somehow involved?

Why yes, Jill, in fact I do.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lazy Monday

Too lazy to blog yet again, I provide you instead with a link to this week's Carnival of NJ Bloggers.

I was too lazy to submit anything. Actually, I stopped submitting the week there was a stupid brouhaha about what kind of thing would be included. I started the brouhaha. I should probably just take more naps.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Personal Responsibility

Yesterday at Running Scared, Jazz posted about a man who's making news in a child support case. See, there's this guy who didn't want to have kids, and his girlfriend said that she didn't want to have kids, and yet, there's a kid, and now he's upset about having to pay child support.

Today, Jazz posted about the brouhaha that this sort of thing can cause.

Now, I'm all about a woman's reproductive rights, and the fact that everyone should be able to get to choose what happens to their own bodies. Do not think for one minute that I'm not pro-choice. I am, however, also pro-personal responsibility. This case is being touted as an example of the necessity of a "Roe v. Wade" type law for men, and I think that's getting silly. At some point people have to accept that some things are their own responsibility on their own. Making laws about individual cases can cause way more trouble than it's worth. Yes, yes, people need guidelines, but they need their own damn moral compasses, too, at some point. I wrote a comment over at Running Scared that when I was done, it looked an awful lot like a post to me, so I figured I'd put it up over here:

Newsflash: EVERY SINGLE CASE IS DIFFERENT. We cannot make a sweeping generalization of law to solve everyone's problems. Try a little personal responsibility, for a change.

These people didn't think the woman could conceive. The man said he didn't want children. The woman agreed - until she got pregnant.

When you're in a consensual relationship with someone and you agree not to procreate, you can't try and hold someone responsible for an accident. This case is clear, and no other case in the world is exactly the same.

If I was in this situation and found that I wanted to raise the child, I'd *hope* that the man involved would want to help support the child, but I wouldn't expect it., and I certainly wouldn't sue. If things were less clear, I'd have different expectations. Why must people lump categorize everything?

Feel free to vilify me in the comments, but the drop-dead truth is that even safe sex isn't 100% safe. It's the ultimate truth that the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy is to not have man-woman sex, and that's just too hard a truth for most people to face.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

No, YOU Back Down!

US, Iran clash over nuclear referral

I don't get it. We have this big ol' UN thingy so that everyone can get together and talk rationally about international relations. There's interpreters aplenty, I'm guessing decent coffee, and yet, we still get statements like this:
"The United States may have the power to cause harm and pain but it is also susceptible to harm and pain," it said in a statement obtained by Reuters on the sidelines of the IAEA board meeting in Vienna. "So if the United States wishes to choose that path, let the ball roll."
To be fair, the U.S. is pushing them *hard* to give up any hopes of developing their nuclear program further.

I was going to say that it's like we're saying we can't trust them to act as responsible adults, but it's not like that, it's exactly that.

We have all these diplomacy rules in place, and yet at the base of it all, we (the nations of the world) wind up acting like willful teenagers so often that I wonder if maybe evolution theory isn't missing something about when a species starts to backtrack.

Leaders need to act like adults, and not insulted duelists. I'm glad that it seems like the only threats being made so far are veiled (thinly), and referring to the movement of money and oil, and not the movement of soldiers and bombs, but I'm not glad that it's occurring at all.

I see how if I was an Iranian leader I'd feel backed into a corner, and I see how the U.S. cannot stop pushing, because if we're right, and Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons, that's a bad thing.

Note - I don't want anyone to have nuclear weapons, they scare the bejeebus out of me.

I wish that the leaders of the world were trustworthy, mature adults, and while I'm at it, I'm going to wish for a pony.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Anonymous Posting

Look, sometimes you just have to steal other people's stuff. Today, I want to tell you about a stupid piece of proposed legislation in NJ, but Juan Melli's already wrote it up so pretty, why not just let you see his words? No reason! I thought not. I really should have asked him first. Good thing I'm not making money off of this. Right. On to Melli's post:

Biondi Wants to Ban Anonymous Online Speech
by: jmelli
March 06, 2006 at 18:26:39 EST
Assemblyman Peter Biondi (R-Somerset) has introduced a bill (A-1327) that if passed would: 1. Require that every user of this site provide us with their real name and address. 2. Require us to turn over this information to anyone who claims to have had "false or defamatory" information posted about them. 3. Make us liable for any damages if we don't follow the measures in the bill.

There's one small problem: The NJ Supreme Court ruled that banning anonymous online speech is unconstitutional.

This is as ridiculous as it gets, but it displays the total disconnect that many elected officials have with the internet as a medium for speech. The US Supreme Court ruled in Talley v. California (1960) that anonymous postings of pamphlets is legal. Like pamphlets, websites like Blue Jersey are just a communications device, but it's feared because it's so democratic and often uncontrollable. Perhaps people who support these measures have something to hide and would rather it not come out during campaign season.

Assuming the bill were somehow enforceable and that it managed to pass, it would require us at Blue Jersey to spend money to verify the identity of every single person that posts here (currently 377 users). Otherwise, we would be liable for damages. That measure alone is enough to shut down almost all forums and community blogs - the costs would be prohibitive. It's a little more indirect than Chinese-style censorship, but the end result is the same.

Congratulations Mr Biondi: You're the winner of today's Worst Legislation Award!

So yes, that's what I think, too. Poor judgement shown, here, "road to Hell" and all.

Sushi, Mercury, Lewis Carol

So the news today says that sushi can be bad for your health because of high mercury levels in tuna.

Scrutiny Hooligans says that sushi eaters could go the way of 19th century hatters.

Lewis Carol wrote the charming (or not) character of the mad hatter.

They still make felt hats today, they just don't expose workers to mercury poisoning during the felting process any more.

I don't know what conclusions to draw from this, other than maybe I should cut down on the sashimi dinners.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Stuff You Didn't Want to Know About Me

I have mentioned before that I was raised particularly anti-Christian. As odd as it sounds, it's true. I'm Jewish, and my parents experienced just enough antisemitism in their lives to try and give me a healthy dose of caution to use in my day-to-day dealings. What wound up happening is that I managed to grow up wondering if all the people in the world who actually believe that Jesus died for their sins, literally - and that's a LOT of people! - were really, really stupid, naive, or a combination of the two. This is probably too harsh an opinion. I promise I try not to judge someone based solely on religion. No really, I do try.

Anyway... I've been raised anti-Christian*, but I'm not anti-values. I really do feel like we have to take responsibility for our own behavior, and that following the glamorously named "golden rule" does indeed make the world a better place for everyone. Still, despite my personal vows not to kill other people (at least, not needlessly), I'm still guilty of a giant dose of schadenfreude. Oh, yeah, I love watching people who pretend to be righteous get busted.

Throw on top of that ice-cream base a hot fudge topping of "I can't stand crap art that doesn't make you think" and you'll see why I was thrilled at the following story in the LA Times:

Dark Portrait of a 'Painter of Light'

Thomas Kinkade. While I know people who like him, I wonder why. I cannot stand his stuff.
In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.
What's that noise I hear? Is that the air coming out of someone's "I paint with the light of God" statements?

See, I told you that you didn't want to know this about me.

* This passage has been edited, because the original phrasing just wasn't correct, and it was really bothering me.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Tell Them What You Think

Have I mentioned that the government is attempting to sell off land, ostensibly to support rural school systems*? In my opinion, and Scrutiny Hooligan's opinion, and the opinion of Tata from Poor Impulse Control, this is not a good move to make.

The USDA Forest Service has a 30 day period in which they'll take comments from the public about the sale. Please, tell them what you think.

* If I thought this would actually help the school systems, I'd support it, I promise

Thursday, March 2, 2006

I Should Be Talking About the World

But instead, I'm putting up a post telling you all that I'm extremely amused that I just got an email asking me for the Tammy sex video.

And I bet this increases my hit count even more.

Odd fact about this: my page views are consistently higher than my unique hits. Does this in fact indicate that some of the people popping in are actually reading more than one post? Maybe?

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

A Cause for Celebration

If you look hard enough, you can always find a holday. I didn't even have to look very hard, this time.

Sure, sure, it's Ash Wednesday, and Catholics around the world are going around looking like careless smokers, but in Wales, it's St. David's Day. Much happier.
Dewi is sometimes known, in Welsh, as 'Dewi Ddyfrwr' (David the Water Drinker) and, indeed, water was an important part of his life - he is said to have drunk nothing else. Sometimes, as a self-imposed penance, he would stand up to his neck in a lake of cold water, reciting Scripture. Little wonder, then, that some authors have seen Dewi as an early Puritan!
One of the things I love most about religion, is that these people are celebrated for doing this stuff, whereas if I were to try this today, my family would just put me somewhere to "rest". Fabulous.