Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays

Sure, I'm still Jewish, but I have tomorrow off of work, anyway, and then it's a mad dash to New Year's Eve! Wheeee!

I'm going to be away for NYE weekend (the 28th to the 1st). I'll take my laptop, and I'm staying somewhere with WiFi access, but whether or not I'll post is any body's guess.

I guess what I'm trying to say is "Have a happy holiday season, everybody!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

But it Doesn't Fly

OK, it looks like:
  • a Jetsons car on the outside

  • my 1986 Mercury Sable on the inside

It does not fly. It does, however, get 300 mpg with a price tag of $30k. I thought that was expensive, until I realized that my car cost $25k. Yikes.

The Aptera Electric Car

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Welcome, Mob-Bust Searchers

Here's what you're looking for.
Mob bust reaches into Morris

Four Morris County men -- including the reputed New Jersey head of the Lucchese organized crime family -- were charged Tuesday in the operation of an illegal gambling ring that authorities say transacted $2.2 billion in bets in 15 months.

The county residents were among 32 people who were rounded up as part of the year-long "Operation HEAT" investigation conducted by the state Division of Criminal Justice. The gambling probe -- with 61-year-old East Hanover resident Ralph V. Perna alleged to be at its center -- also uncovered what state Attorney General Anne Milgram called "an alarming alliance between the Lucchese crime family and the Bloods street gang to smuggle heroin, cocaine, marijuana and cell phones into East Jersey State Prison" with the aid of a prison guard.
[State Attorney General Anne] Milgram said she believes the charges have seriously undermined the Lucchese crime family's ability to operate.

"With today's arrests and charges, we have disrupted the highest echelon of the Lucchese organized crime family in both New York and New Jersey," she said.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hoo-Nelly, Prncesses!

OK, anyone who has a little girl or has ever been a little girl knows what the phrase "Disney Princess" means, even if they only have the earlier ones ensconced in memory.

A lot of people don't like it because of the anti-feminist slant. In truth, I honestly believe that all young children love sparkly things because they're visually interesting, and they want to play dress-up so that they, too, can be interesting. Not everyone agrees with me. In her article, "Bonfire of the Disney Princesses", Barbara Ehrenreich doesn't agree with me. She sees sexuality being forced on minds too young to comprehend it. I see her point, and I'm not sure if I'm with her 100%, but she had a paragraph in that article that was so beautifully written that I needed to point it out:
In faithful imitation, the 3-year-old in my life flounces around with her tiara askew and her Princess gown sliding off her shoulder, looking for all the world like a London socialite after a hard night of cocaine and booze. Then she demands a poison apple and falls to the floor in a beautiful swoon. Pass the Rohypnol-laced margarita, please.
Holy cow, that's impressive imagery.

OK, wait, I'm still impressed with that writing, but I feel the need to clarify - I am completely against people sexually abusing children and do not mean to make light of it! That's not what I mean.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spot the Problem

Saudi king pardons rape victim
"The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair," al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.
I'm not the only one who sees what's wrong with this story, right?

Do I even have to explain? I will, I suppose, if people ask.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Abolishment of Death Penalty in NJ Probably Good Thing

As you may or may not know, New Jersey has decided to abolish the death penalty in our state. This is probably a good thing.

Why do I say "probably", you wonder? How can someone who treasures human life as much as I do not rejoice at this news? Simple- I'm human, and I've had tragedy touch my life. When I was younger, someone I cared about was murdered. Yes, murdered. She was shot by someone who wanted her to give him her purse. It was someone she knew. It was someone I knew. He used to throw rocks at girls waiting for the school bus. I didn't know what made him the way he was, he just was. When I found out, I wanted him dead. I wanted his toenails pulled out and his feet set on fire while he watched. I wanted him to suffer the way he had made so many other people suffer by snuffing out the life of a wonderful woman.

My point is, that when you're touched by crime, you lose your ability to keep a clear head. These feelings can pretty much stay with you for life. I was 14 when that happened, but I still remember the hate. This is not a good reason to make a decision, but it's why I've never opposed the death penalty being on the table. Often I'm not in favor of it - I can't be. Killing others is wrong, with very few exceptions. Exceptions do, however, exist, and the part of me that still wishes for revenge wanted the option open.

So, like I said, not having a death penalty in New Jersey is probably a good thing, but I find myself curiously detached from the news.

The teenager who shot my teacher, by the way, came to a bad end. The story I heard was that he "shot himself" when the police came for him. Yes, it was told to me with those quotation marks. I was glad, and I'm ashamed of that.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekend Activities

If you haven't read the book "The Golden Compass", go ahead and see the movie, you'll probably enjoy it. It is, indeed very, very pretty, and the story is a decent one. It's a bot overly violent for the young children - I flinched a lot.

If you have read the book, you don't have to avoid the movie, but know that they cut it to absolute ribbons. There's added dialogue, changed situations, the order that things happen in has been changed, and it ends at a different point. The basic story remains, and just seeing the zeppelin at Jordan College might have been worth it for me.

I do recommend that anyone who likes children's stories involving alternate universes read the book. I'm looking forward to books 2 and 3, but rigt now I can't take myself out of "World Without End". I love Ken Follet, and "The Pillars of the Earth" may be my favorite book of all time. After "Madeline", of course.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Flying Saucers Have Been Found!

(From Jazz)

Well... ok. Not really, but they sure look like it! This just in from NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs. (Hey hey hey... here comes the science!)
Imaging scientists on NASA's Cassini mission are telling a tale of how the small moons orbiting near the outer rings of Saturn came to be. The moons began as leftover shards from larger bodies that broke apart and filled out their "figures" with the debris that made the rings.

The tip-off was the very low density of the inner moons, about half that of pure water ice, and sizes and shapes that suggested they have grown by the accumulation of ring material. The trouble was, these moons are within and near the rings, where it is not possible for small particles to fuse together gravitationally. So how did they do it? They got a jump start.
If you follow the link I provided above, you'll see a detailed image of two of Saturn's tiny moons out in the area of the rings - Atlas and Pan. These aren't places you would want to build a vacation home on... they are less than 30 kilometers in diameter. But the interesting bit is that they really are shaped like saucers with a bit of a bulge in the middle. Plus, they're fragile enough that you could probably bust them up with a decent sized hammer.
You can sign up for periodic e-mail updates on the Cassini mission (along with everything else NASA is up to) and links to cool pictures by writing to

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Human Factor

I took the "Choose Your Candidate" quiz today (hat tip, Middle Earth Journal). This isn't the first one of these types of things that I've done, and I keep wondering why I consistently score the most things in common with Hillary, with John Edwards second. I know me, and I know what these people are saying, and I know that I would choose Edwards over Hillary. So why do the quizzes say different?

Then, I suddenly got it - the quizzes are based on what I say, and what the candidates say, and they have no way of knowing whether or not I believe that the candidate is being honest. Now it makes more sense.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Why I Might Believe Iran

OK, so there's a report that says that Iran stopped trying to make nuclear bombs in 2003. France and Israel seem skeptical.

I might believe it, though. Know why? 2003 is when we invaded Iraq. It seems perfectly plausible to me that Iran might have stopped that program to put the money towards arming U.S. enemies wherever they could.

Of course, I might be paranoid.

In case you think that my paranoia regarding Iran and it's U.S. enemy status means that I'm in favor of invading Iran, though, think again. We have a stretched-too-thin army (which I've been saying for YEARS) and I have this whole "respect for human life" thing going on that makes me in favor of no wars at all.

But I still might believe that Iran's not actively building nuclear bombs.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ear Trumpets, Back in Style

Gizmodo makes me laugh.

This is Happening, Baby

Today my phone, which I am reasonably fond of, started giving me the message, "Insert Smart Chip". I'm reading this as a bad sign.

Today at lunch time I'm heading over to the Tice's Corner Apple Store and gettin' me an iPhone. Must be done.

I need me the pretty phone, and if mine doesn't work any more, I actually have an excuse to buy it.

Hell, I even remembered to sync my phone with my computer last week. It's a sign. Guess I'll listen to my 10 voice mails, now.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is the Long Sleep Coming to an End?

Yesterday morning we had CNN on in the background, specifically, "This Week at War". I was half listening, and then I heard something that caught my attention - "accommodation without reconciliation". Or at least, something really similar to that. The exact phrase isn't as important as the idea that someone was actively trying to get warring neighbors to live together in something resembling harmony without making either side try to bend their philosophy to be more in line with the other's. It's the concept that maybe everyone has the right to their own ideas, and that we should coexist rather than conquer. It's, just so... reasonable.

It was the first time in a long time that I recall hearing on a news network an idea that was full of the shades of gray that make up reality. It wasn't the black-and-white, good-and-evil kind of cartoony talk that I've become used to and sickened by. It was as if intelligent people were having an intelligent discussion.

It made me think that the era of George W. Bush is finally over. I'm going to hope.

Don't even get me started on the part where a military guy was explaining that the same kind of military campaign doesn't work the same ways in different places, against different enemies on different terrain. I'm not ready to talk about how reasonable that is, yet.

November 26, 1968

Forget blogiversaries, it's my 39th birthday.

People tell me I don't look a day over 38 - and yet I am!

I have a political opinion to share, and maybe I'll get it up here later. Maybe I won't. I am whimsical on anniversaries.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

There's a Light...

Americans enter holidays in dark mood: Reuters poll
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans enter the holiday season in a dark mood, with economic worries, security fears and a lack of confidence in government fueling growing pessimism, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Geez, not me! I've spent the past week with rosy visions in my head of my aunt and I chopping herbs and watching the parade on TV while sipping diet-spritzer beverages. I see my family sitting in my dining room at an attractively set table, with me chatting with my cousin and my aunt laughing at my dad's jokes, so that I don't have to. I anticipate the pleasurable discussion of whether we should play a game, watch a movie in the house, or go out to a movie together.

I plan on having a lovely holiday, and I'm entering the season with a mood of anticipation and happy eagerness. I wish the same for all of you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Why do I have so much work to do when all I want to do is stay home and bake elaborate desserts?

Don't people know it's almost Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 16, 2007

As if you didn't get enough Jazz

(Yet another Jazz post... roll your eyes now.)

Yes, I write. Many of you might think I do it a bit much. I have opinions on everything - even things I know absolutely nothing about. (I can talk your ear off about artificial turf vs. real grass all day long and I've never even seen a piece of it.)

But if you're feeling like you still aren't getting enough of me, did you know that you can now listen to me and cut out all that bother of reading? That's right. I've been doing some background work on a couple of internet based radio shows, and starting today I will be cohosting, along with Ron Beasely of Middle Earth Journal) a regularly scheduled, one hour political discussion show at Blogtalk Radio! The show will run today starting at 1:00 pm Eastern time. (10:00 am pacific) Shortly beforehand, you can follow the link at the bottom of this post to tune in, listen, call in, or participate in the live web chat which accompanies the show. For that matter, take a tour of the site. There are shows on a wide variety of subjects running pretty much around the clock.

If you register at BTR (it's free and only takes a minute) you'll have your own user name in web chats and you can pick shows as "Favorites" (like ours! hint hint) which will allow the system to notify you by e-mail in advance of any of your favorites going on the air.

Today we'll be discussing the future of Israel (as we've been blogging about this week) as well as the "War On Thanksgiving" (insert spooky music) and last night's Democratic debates. Hope to see you there.

Listen to Jazz and Ron on internet talk radio

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Israel a Jewish State? (Part II)

(Part I)

Looks like Jazz is horning in on my angle of talking about Jews and Israel. No worries, there's plenty of room in the opinion lounge on this one.

As I am personally Jewish, I already have my opinions worked out on these subjects; I've had my whole life to think about them. I feel that Judaism is a religion, and that ethnicity is separate. I am an American woman of Russian descent. Actually, my family is from Belarus (father's side), Ukraine (maternal grandfather), and Lithuania (maternal grandmother), but I prefer to lump them in with the Russians because I'm callous about my own roots. Say bad things about me if you feel the need to.

Be that as it may, I also feel that Israel is a Jewish State. It was founded to be a (divided) homeland for Jews and "Palestinians" (I'm still not sure exactly what makes a Palestinian). The government is set up around Jewish and non-Jewish rights. Everybody gets all the Jewish holidays off. A whole bunch of the country closes down from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night. The official religion is Judaism. And it's not against some "rules of the world" that no one could have ever written.

Why in the world would Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, say, " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion."? Seriously? This guy believes that?

Most countries were not founded without religious identity, although we know that the U.S. was. Even then, it was only formed as a secular nation because the Puritans were persecuted in England for being weird and stodgy and way too harsh. I mean, seriously, these people were the ones who were "famous for banning from their New England colonies many secular entertainments, such as games of chance, maypoles, and drama, all of which were perceived as kinds of immorality." So they braved the Atlantic Ocean hoping to establish tolerance for their ways.

There are secular nations in the world today, such as Canada, France, Turkey, United States, but certainly even they were not all formed as secular nations. France particularly has had a strong Catholic identity during the years of its monarchy, and was recognized as Catholic country.

The phrase, again, was, " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion.". Let me see this guy say that to the Pope's face in Vatican City.

No, countries do not have to link their national character to a specific religion, but many of them absolutely DO. They do, and it is completely acceptable. It is, after all, their country.
The guise of religious tolerance from a man whose group affiliation has represented such blatant and obvious religious intolerance for so long is a giant hypocritical slap in the face.

Just go ahead and change your statement to " is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to Judaism." So we can see your real stripes, you anti-Jewish bastard.

Is Israel a Jewish State?

(Cross posted by Jazz from Middle Earth Journal)

Close on the heels of our recent question about Jewgenics, Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe ponders the question, Is Israel a Jewish State?

IN ADVANCE of the upcoming diplomatic conference in Annapolis, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the other day that he expects the Palestinian Authority to finally acknowledge Israel's existence as a Jewish state. A newly arrived visitor from Mars might wonder why this should even be an issue - after all, Israel is a Jewish state. If the more than 55 countries that make up the Organization of the Islamic Conference are entitled to recognition as Muslim states, and if the 22 members of the Arab League are universally accepted as Arab states, why should anyone balk at acknowledging Israel as the world's lone Jewish state?

Yet Olmert's demand was rebuffed. Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian Authority negotiator, said on Monday that Palestinians would refuse to recognize Israel's Jewish identity on the grounds that "it is not acceptable for a country to link its national character to a specific religion."

Rantings of Mr. Erekat aside, apparently, Jacoby decides to tackle the question on the basis of whether or not the dominant religion of a country can be considered the key element of that country's national identity.
In fact, there are many countries in which national identity and religion are linked. Argentinian law mandates government support for the Roman Catholic faith. Queen Elizabeth II is the supreme governor of the Church of England. In the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the constitution proclaims Buddhism the nation's "spiritual heritage." The prevailing religion in Greece," declares Section II of the Greek Constitution, "is that of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ."

At this point in our discussions on the subject, I think we would be hard pressed to say that Israel is not a Jewish state. But, as discussed in the "Jewgenics" thread, is Israel a Jewish state because of the religion of most of its people or because of the ethnicity of its people? Jacoby's points sound a bit hollow to me in this regard. I had no idea Argentina mandated support of the Roman Catholic Church. Given the religious melting pot that England has become and the falling membership of the actual Church of England, it's hard to picture the Queen's place as the head of the church as anything more than a symbolic reminder of grander times past. I also find it hard to picture the Bhutanese kicking you out of their country for not being a Buddhist.

At this point in our consideration of the question, let's take a moment and consider the story of two families - the Hoffstetlers and the Koeppens. Both families lived in the Rhine Valley region of Germany, as had their ancestors as far back as anyone could remember. Like many of the people of that region, they had dark hair and deep, ruddy complexions. They were also very successful business operators, and one day both families decided to undertake a long and dangerous journey to the far off land of Ireland to expand their business horizons.

Upon arrival Mr. Hoffstetler went so far as to legally change his family name to McCoy (all the better to blend in socially and to enhance his business prospects with the locals) and soon both families were established and flourishing.

Time passed, and the children of both families grew to adulthood. Mr. Hoffstetler's son (now a McCoy) married one of the Koeppen daughters and they began a family of their own. By the time their children were grown, they were clearly Irish. They had an Irish name, spoke the local language as natives, and were born and bred in the land. And yet, they still had dark hair and olive complexions. They in no way resembled the predominantly red haired, light skinned neighbors. So were they Irish? Or were they Germans living in Ireland? Just as we have so many "hyphenated" people in the United States, (e.g. German-Americans, Polish-Americans) it might be fair to say they were "Irish of German descent."

Perhaps Jeff Jacoby could have made a more convincing argument if he asked what percentage of the current residents of Israel are actually genetically distinct descendants of the Tribe of Judah? Until recently I would have thought consideration of such a question to be impossible, but now I'm pretty much coming around 180 degrees and I suspect it's possible that recognizing Israel as a "Jewish State" is not only appropriate, but might be based more in ethnicity than some assumption about the religious beliefs of their people.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


(From Jazz)
OK, it's very weird that the non-Jew wrote this - Tami

While browsing Memeorandum this morning, I clicked on a link to read the answer to the question, Can teen sex prevent delinquency? because, well... it had the phrase "teen sex" in it. In case you're wondering, apparently people who lose their virginity earlier in life are less likely to wind up being delinquents. Who knew this would be the secret to my success?

As I was browsing the article, however, I came upon another link that drew me away from these titillating tidbits. It asked the questions, "Are Jews a race? Is Jewish intelligence genetic?"

This really caught my attention, because I had recently gotten into a fascinating discussion with a reader over at Middle Earth Journal on just this subject. I had opined that there was a distinct difference between being "Jewish" (as in a practitioner of one particular religion) and being an "Israeli" (as in a legal citizen of the country of Israel.) The comments section lit up a bit as one reader informed me that it wasn't quite so simple, as there were people who considered themselves to be "Jewish" by family history, but had never been a practitioner of the religion. The conversation really taught me a lot I didn't know about the history of the Jewish people, but at the same time, I told the reader that I'd never met nor heard of anyone else with that point of view, and I was confused as to how being "Jewish" could equate to a genetic lineage.

Apparently I was way off base.
The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is 107 to 115, well above the human average of 100. This gap and the genetic theories surrounding it stirred discomfort in the room. Zoloth, speaking for many liberals, recalled a family member's revulsion at the idea of a Jewish race. Judaism is about faith and values, she argued. To reduce it to biology is to make it exclusive, denying its openness to all. Worse, to suggest that Jews are genetically smart is to imply that non-Jews are inherently inferior, in violation of Jewish commitments to equality and compassion.

My friend Dana Milbank, who's a better (if I may use that word) Jew than I am, watched the discussion, went back to his office, and wrote a column in the Washington Post poking fun at all the talk of superior Jewish intellect. The column, as usual, was really smart.

But what if Judaism as a genetic inheritance is compatible with Judaism as a cultural inheritance? And what if the genes that make Jews smart also make them sick? If one kind of superiority comes at the price of another kind of inferiority, and if the transmission of Jewish values drives the transmission of Jewish genes, does that make the genetics and the superiority easier to swallow?

Apparently so.

So, at least in some schools of study, not only are Jews a different ethnicity, similar to Germans, Indians, Brits and Martians, but they are also smarter than everyone else. I guess if I were Jewish I'd have been smart enough to figure that out on my own. Damn you, Native American genetic code!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Free Rice!

Of course I'm an advocate of The Hunger Site, but sometimes, a gal gets a hankering for a word game.

I saw this on the site of someone I know, pointed out to her by someone else I know. Then, it was once again pointed out to me, in my comments by K (or soobee, depending on where you look). This obviously means that I should link to it here, too. If you like vocabulary quizes, then this is the word game for you!

Free rice for the hungry! Vocab quiz 4 U! Win!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Smelling the Roses

This morning, I drove up to the Mahwah office. I take 287 north to 202 north, and drive along Ramapo Ridge.

As I was coming in, the morning light was filtered through the trees, and I realized that there are few things in this world as lovely as fall foliage on a clear morning.

Really, it's very lovely.

Side note - the mayoral election in my town was decided by a margin of less than 500 votes. Yikes

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Isn't It About Time?

(From Jazz)

It's election day. In many areas, you may be experencing the odd syndrome known as "Off Year Don't Give A Shit" voting. If there's nobody on the ballot but two open town council seats (and you could never stand the pack of bitches running for them anyway) and a state justice seat, it can be rather hard to build up the motiviation to get out there and hit the old voting booth.

Not so in Kentucky. Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher has gotten himself into one scandal after another, and the Democrats are circling like rabid pomeranians at the scene of a meat wagon crash.
Democrats think they are about to steal the governor's mansion in the solidly red state of Kentucky. On Tuesday, voters will choose between Democrat Steve Beshear and incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Apparently Mssr. Fletcher won election and immediately rewarded a lot of his political contributors with lucrative state jobs and contracts. This is not conducive to a long political life. If you're going to engage in corruption, that's fine. But you've got to make some effort to be a bit less obvious.

My point here is that you never know what might happen in an election, or afterward for that matter. So even if it's just for the local dog catcher, get out there and cast a vote. You might get to see somebody pouring liquid nitrogen on an opponent at the polling station.

And who in their right mind would want to miss that?

Too Bad Atrios Doesn't Read My Blog

I could have reminded him about Afghanistan a little sooner.

Another reminder: it's election day. I'd show you my purple finger to prove that I voted just before 7am today, but we don't do that, here. Good thing, too - a purple finger would freak me out if I was using that hand to eat a sandwich.

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Really Expensive Pussy (cat)

(Another post from Jazz)

House Cat Makes Scientific History
An Abyssinian cat from Missouri, named Cinnamon, has just made scientific history. Researchers have largely decoded her DNA, a step that may aid the search for treatments for both feline and human diseases.

Doctors at the institute are hailing this as "a significant breakthrough in the field of medicine which should allow us to advance the cause of preventative care for... Cinnamon the cat."

In the future, this research should allow doctors to decode your genome and provide fabulous medical assistance for roughly 2.1 billion dollars.

Is anyone else getting a little impatient with this process? Going back to the time when I was a child (and we're talking quite a while here) we were being told that we were decoding the human genetic structure. And once we were done, we would be able to do all sorts of amazing things. Nobody would get sick, we could turn off "switches" that caused bad things to happen to us, we would all live to be 200, be trim, beautiful, and have large penises and/or breasts.

Thus far the only "practical" application I've seen from all this work was some guys who made pigs glow green in the dark. Now don't get me wrong, here... I'm as big a fan of glowing green pigs as the next guy. God only knows that bacon gets pretty boring and florescent pork products could certainly perk up your next fabulous socialite brunch.

But as useful as that may be, is this all we have to look forward to? Will we next be seeing Cinnamon's name changed to Absinthe when she starts glowing green? Surely there's something more we can be doing with all of this DNA information.

Great. You've got a house cat covered for life without needing an HMO. But meanwhile I'm still sitting here hung like a badger! When will my porn star penis genetic injection be ready?? Couldn't you at least make my eyes blue? The head shots I had done for my soon to be launched radio show came out terrible, and I think sparkling blue eyes could really add to my market value. Get on the stick, you scientists!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hot Pink!!

Funniest Hat Ever.

I love this and hate this so much! At the same time!
(thank you "You Knit What?")

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Whole Country Has a Short Attention Span

It's not just me.

Democratic rivals target Clinton’s vote on Iran
While Clinton continued to separate herself from opponents who have called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — saying, “I stand for ending the war in Iraq and bringing our troops home, but I also understand that it’s going to take time” — former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina zeroed in on Clinton’s vote for a congressional resolution that declared Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

That vote, he said, cleared the way for President Bush to invade Iran.
OK, so here it is, 2 years after many of us crazy lefty bloggers started complaining that our country was gearing up for war with Iran, and now it looks like we weren't precisely crazy, so much as early. Well here's what I want to know:

Anyone remember Afghanistan?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Man bites dog? No. Dog shoots man.

(Another short note from Jazz.)

I imagine a lot more of this happens than we get to hear about, but I've been expecting it for years.
CHICAGO (AFP) - A pack of hunting dogs shot an Iowa man as he went to retrieve a fallen pheasant, authorities said.

James Harris, 37, was shot in the leg while hunting with some friends on Saturday afternoon.

"Harris reportedly went to retrieve the bird, placed his gun on the ground and crossed the fence near the muzzle end," the press release said.

"When he crossed the fence, hunting dogs stepped on the gun, which discharged and struck Harris in the left calf at a distance of roughly three feet."

If you find this surprising, you shouldn't. On the topic of hunting with canines, you'll often hear people talking about how much the dogs "enjoy" it. "Oh, they're bred for it! They really love getting out there and tracking down the [insert name of doomed target here] on a brisk fall morning!"

Bullshit. Look, people... I happen to own a Basset Hound. Yes, yes... they are supposedly bred to be hunting dogs. But I'm here to tell you that this hound is one of the laziest bastards you're ever likely to meet. He sleeps about twenty hours a day and only gets up to either bark at me if his food and water bowls are running low or to crap on the basement floor. When I get up in the morning and want him to go downstairs with me (so he won't wake up Georg later) I practically need a tazer to get the lazy mutt on to his feet and moving.

You think these dogs want us dragging them out at four a.m. to get dumped into a truck to go run around in some freezing, wet field and chase down animals they don't even get to eat after we shoot them? Ha! Reading this story, all I can say is that Mr. Harris was lucky the dog didn't shoot him in the face. (The dog's name wasn't Cheney, was it?)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

They just can't leave Stephen Colbert alone

(Jazz here, checking in on all you Tami fans.) You can build the best floats, train the baton twirlers to perfection, hire top notch clowns and get all the necessary permits, but the one thing you can always count on is that somebody will come along to piss on your parade.

With its snack-food sponsorship, Democratic and Republican affiliations, and Sen. Larry Craig as a possible running mate, Stephen Colbert's run for the presidency is hardly serious business. But the joke could be on Colbert if federal election officials decide his candidacy is for real.

If his campaign plays out the way he's indicated that it will, Comedy Central and Colbert's sponsor, Doritos, could be violating federal laws that bar corporations from backing political campaigns, election law experts say.

Given the quality of candidates being shoved onto my plate by both parties, I had pretty much resigned myself to doing a write-in vote for The One True Tami (blessed be Her name) for president next year. Then, along came Stephen Colbert - a breath of fresh air in a stagnant, if not poisonous political environment. What is his platform? Who cares! He's got to be better than Hillary or Rudy.

Colbert only tossed his hat in the metaphorical ring last week, but a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters from across the country already shows him grabbing 13% of the vote in a hypothetical three way race against Clinton and Giuliani. (Hillary came in with 45% while Rudy took 35%.) Is Colbert violating "the law" by accepting a $3,500 donation from a nacho snack chip company? Could Comedy Central be liable for allowing him to use his show to flack for his campaign?

Maybe. But compared to the beltway bandits he's up against, if that's the worst sin he commits then he's likely the closest to sainthood of anyone in the running. Sure, the entire thing may be a joke, but he's certainly gotten me to thinking... we already elected an actor as President, not to mention the Governator's mansion in California. Hell, we had a professional wrestler too. Fred Thompson is currently running second place to Rudy and he was an actor on Law and Order. (I'm not really a presidential candidate, but I do play one on t.v.)

Could Stephen Colbert really do worse than the current office holder or the pack of pork fed career politicians seeking the White House? If nothing else, the press conferences would be worth watching. Hey, FEC! Lay off Colbert and go figure out some real vote fraud problems in Florida and Ohio before we have a repeat of 2000.

Monday, October 22, 2007

We Have RULES Here, Damn It!

In my inbox this morning:
George Bush wants to take away health insurance from tens of thousands of New Jersey's poorest children. It's not right, and I won't let it happen.

I'm sure you've heard about Bush's recent veto of extra federal funding to the SCHIP program that provides health insurance to America's most needy families. But before all that even happened, he had already issued an illegal proclamation that would immediately cut health care coverage for over 10,000 New Jersey kids.

It's absolutely outrageous. George Bush and the Republicans in Washington are taking an indefensible stand against health care for kids. They'd rather put political and ideological gamesmanship ahead of bipartisan solutions to protect our most vulnerable children.

That's why I filed a lawsuit on behalf of the people of New Jersey. I know George Bush thinks he can do whatever he wants to defy the wishes of the American people and a bipartisan majority in Congress. But the truth is, we have rules and laws in this country. He can't just do whatever he wants. So I'm taking him to court to hold him accountable.

I don't have to tell you how high the cost of living is in New Jersey, compared to other parts of the country. Ever since the SCHIP program started, we have sought and received approval from the federal government that allows our state's FamilyCare program to cover children at higher family income levels than those covered in other states.

It's bad enough that George Bush won't authorize the funding to expand one of our state's most successful and bipartisan programs, but in an August letter, he reversed years of established policy and took away our ability to cover kids in families making more than about $51,000.

He can't do that unilaterally. There is an established legal process that must be followed to change the way this program works.

It's simply incomprehensible. I never thought I'd see this president circumvent the rule of law to throw the most vulnerable kids off the health insurance rolls.

It's a shameful act, and it demands a response. I'm taking the Bush administration to court and standing up for New Jersey's most needy families.

I hope I can count on your continued support.


Jon Corzine
I haven't looked up the details, and yet I totally believe that GWB decided to write a letter dictating what individual states could do.

You can't do that, George. You can not give federal funding, but you can't stop a state from providing more state money for a program that's not illegal. We're a republic, not a sand box; not even the President gets to be King of the Hill.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

S-CHIP, Overturning the Veto

You know, I dislike the fact that President Bush vetoed the SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program). I think that program has real merit, and should be put into action. So does Congress, because it got to the President for Veto in the first place. I think we should do something about it. So does Louise Slaughter, according to the email I got from her. There's a web site all set up to tell your Congressional representatives that you want them to vote to overturn that veto.

According to the site, every single member of Congress, both the House and the Senate, have received correspondence about this. I just sent them some more. I have this crazy dream, see, where our system of checks and balances actually check and balance something. Wouldn't that just be extra ginchy?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Still Lacking

I haven't written anything for a week. Work continues to suck up my time (I should be coding right now!). At least it's Friday. Have a beer, or something.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Shame Faced

I've been ignoring you again, I know, and I'm really very sorry. Work has been busy, which as we all know, can sometimes happen. Normally, I'd catch up at night, but I've been completely indulging in TV premieres. So far Journeyman doesn't look too bad, but it pretty much is a blatant rip-off of Quantum Leap. Heroes isn't letting me down, the pilot of Carpoolers was reasonably amusing (there's a no-pants guy, a classic comedy winner), and, of course, I remain addicted to Dancing With The Stars.

But things are still going on in the world, whether or not I write about them. You know how I said that Journeyman was pretty much Quantum Leap reheated? Well, sometimes things in the real world happen the same way. Over at Blanton's and Ashton's this morning, I found the post Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Read it, it makes you think, and it makes you sad, and it makes me wonder why people never learn things. I promise the whole post isn't in French.
It is time, therefore, for us to face the stark reality of the difficult situation before us without the false hopes which predictions of military victory and assurances of complete independence have given us in the past. The hard truth of the matter is, first, that without the wholehearted support of the peoples of the Associated States, without a reliable and crusading native army with a dependable officer corps, a military victory, even with American support, in that area is difficult if not impossible, of achievement;

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Contract Killers

Of course I mean people who kill contracts.

FedEx Says It Will Abandon Contractor Model in California
WASHINGTON, Sept 21, 2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The FedEx Corporation could pay between $26 million to $33 million in severance costs alone for abandoning its illegal contractor model in California, a change announced Thursday by company chief executive Fred Smith.


...California tax authorities, the California Court of Appeal and the National Labor Relations Board among others have all found the contractor model to be illegal....


"This is the beginning of the end for the contractor scam at FedEx Ground," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "FedEx pushed past the legal limits and pushed its drivers to fighting back to regain their rights." This major change in company policy means that FedEx is abandoning the contractor model in California but keeping the misclassification practice for the rest of the country.
If I worked the same job as someone else at another company, but I was classified as a contractor, so that I didn't have the same access to benefits, I'd probably be pretty pissed. And it was a possibility for that exact thing to happen to me. When I first started working, I was brought in through a temporary agency. I did the same job as others who'd started the year before, but they were considered employees, and I was decidedly not. At least they called us contractors, and not temps. I was lucky enough to be with an agency that did provide access to benefits and vacation time once you'd worked a certain number of hours, but not everyone has that.

My contracting days ended, though, when the company ended their hiring freeze, and they brought all the people who'd been doing the jobs for 6 months or more in for job interviews. We actually had to sit there and explain why we were right for the job. I went with "I can already train other people to do this according to company procedure". I honestly prefer full employee status, it makes me feel less like a second-hand citizen.

I can see how contractors have their place in the business world. Short term staffing needs, or projects with a specific shelf life are good examples of when you'd bring someone in temporarily. Bringing in contractors to do every day tasks that your company must complete to do their business, like say, driving the trucks that deliver the packages for a delivery company, is an abuse of the system to cost cuts. It smells funny to me, and we now see that it smells funny to the California courts, as well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

When Everybody's Wrong, Who's the Good Guy?

OK, I don't like the President of Iran.
"We do not recognize that regime (Israel) because it is based on occupation and racism. It constantly attacks its neighbors," Ahmadinejad said in a video news conference from New York with the National Press Club in Washington, citing recent Israeli military action in Syria and Lebanon.

"It kills people. It drives people from their homes."
Fine, fine, maybe Israel is a construct made up in a treaty like so many other 20th-century nations, but at least it was a group of people who actually wanted to be one nation. As far as the concept that Israel is always the aggressor, well, it's just crap. I don't know who sent the first bullets flying all those years ago, I just don't, but I do know that today there are so many attacks on Israeli soil that they're just commonplace. Nobody talks about rocket fire near the borders because it's every day. I do not believe that average Israelis are sitting around cruelly trying to plan domination and gain territory. I think that they're just trying to figure out how the hell to get other antagonistic nations to leave them the hell alone.

And denying that that Holocaust actually occurred? That's just cruel, fucked up shit. I can't even describe it without the profanity.

Nope. I don't like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Why did Columbia invite him?

Friday, September 21, 2007

How About Infrastructure?

Or taxes, or ending unwanted armed conflict, or farming subsidies, or habeas freakin' corpus...

There are more important things to discuss than whether or not was crossing the line by using an insulting pun in an advertisement. Chris Dodd wants us all to say so in writing.

(By the way, if you don't like my use of the word "insulting", too bad. In my opinion, saying that someone has betrayed us is an insult. Just because something is true doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.)

I can't honestly say that I'm a member of "The Dodd Squad", but when someone's right, they're right.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soldiers Are People

And the loss of their lives hurts.
The Minstrel Boy reminds us to keep it personal.
Make it personal. Find a way to make this shit mean something deep inside you. Make it hurt. Then Do. It. Some. More. Feel the pain, feel the sadness when a 20 year old kid gets rolled over in a truck wreck. Then go to the next one. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Keep. It. Personal. Do that and you might find a way to ensure that this madness stops. Drag people along with you so that they know how much it hurts.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ya gotta have brain

Isn't it amazing, this human body. I've paused on occasion to wonder what it is about the number five that seems so integral to our construction. Five fingers, five toes, sure. But more to the point, it seems, five major limbs or extensions protruding from the core. Two arms, two legs, and ... the head. It's funny, isn't it? You can lop off a foot, a hand, an entire arm or leg - and you still have a person. Somebody who could talk to you, ponder the nature of the world... engage in a game of chess.

Inside the core, things are more vital but still not absolutely critical to the total package. We have transplanted lungs, installed the liver of a pig, invented dialysis machines to do the job of a kidney... we've even had a person live for a while with a mechanical heart pumping the blood through the system.

But not the head.

The head sits atop the structure and contains the brain. That pulsing few pounds of gray matter contains billions of synapses, firing at light speed twenty four hours a day, sending messages throughout the various lobes and (if still connected) down the pathways to the rest of the limbs and receiving signals back in return. Take this away and you lose the person, even if the rest of the bits are intact and functioning. Without that one limb, as it were, the functional whole fails. No communication, no pondering, no chess... the system won't even continue to breath or pump blood of its own volition. It simply stops.

The same formula applies to mammals of all sorts. Also to birds, reptiles, and virtually everything that follows the five limb format. There's that number five again - so important - but why? Certain insects who come from a seven limb family can have the head portion removed and function for quite some time. Worms and their kin can often be lopped in half and will grow two new worms from the detached portions. They seem to only have one limb to begin with.

What does it all mean? I have no answers for you. Only questions to ponder.

Call Me "Matey"

International Talk Like a Pirate Day!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

With Liberty and Justice for All

Senator Craig gets support from the ACLU.

As much as I despise the concept of people who do something in private and then rail against it in public - and I HATE that - I also firmly believe that everyone gets the same rights, whether I like them or not.
"Sen. Craig has not always been a great friend of civil liberties, but you shouldn't have to endorse the civil liberties of others to keep your own," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, alluding to Craig's history of voting against gay rights.

Police must be able to demonstrate beyond a doubt that the sex was going to happen in public, he said. Regardless of whether it occurs in a bathroom or a bar, solicitation for private sex is protected speech under the First Amendment, the ACLU argues.
That's the sticking point for me - propositioning someone for consensual sex isn't illegal. Maybe it's rude, but it's not against the law.

Of course, lying to the police is a crime in most states, if I'm not mistaken, so I have no help for the Senator there. Because, really - you just happen to knock feet with people in public restrooms? That's about as believable as some of the crap my ex boyfriends spouted.

When I was YOUR age...

Younger readers have probably heard it countless times from old geezers like yours truly. "You kids these days are spoiled and lazy. Why, in MY day we had to...." You will then be treated to tales of childhood hardship which include, but are not limited to:
  • Having to do chores every day before and/or after school
  • Not being allowed to watch / not having a television
  • Being spanked
  • Killing a grizzly bear with their loose leaf notebook
  • Having to walk to school
  • Uphill
  • Both ways
  • In a snowstorm
Many of these stories may be true, of course, but I think we can all be a bit happier about our own situations when you hear how things are going for some of the children in China.

A bridge is to be built in a Chinese village where children are forced to cross a raging torrent on a steel cable to get to school. Nearly 500 children, from Maji village in Fugong town, Yunnan province, cross the most dangerous stretch of the Nujiang River each day.They fasten themselves to the cable with a metal carabiner and a rope and slide across the 200 metre wide canyon.

The youngest student, A Qia, 4, has to go over by herself each day.The villagers say that usually four-year-old children are taken by their parents, and begin to go by themselves from the age of five.

A Pu, five, who was stuck in the middle of the cable for nearly 20 minutes once, said: “I used to dream of having a bridge, but then I learned that my dream was too expensive.”

Things are looking up, however.
But officials finally agreed to spend £35,000 on a bridge after a TV programme was made about the children’s dangerous daily journey.

I had it pretty tough at times back in my day. I had to work after school, my parents were strict disciplinarians and we lived out in the country with few modern amenities. However, I clearly was living the life of the high and mighty compared to these kids.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Slightly Better Option

Mukasey: "Not So Bad".
Sen Schumer indicated he would want to know Mr Mukasey's approach on key issues such as wiretapping and the appointment of US attorneys, "but he's a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and has the potential to become a consensus nominee".
I've been so disappointed in my political choices for so long, that the phrase "a lot better than some of the other names mentioned" actually sounds really positive to me.

No wonder I drink so damn much.

Still Kicking

No, even though the world lost Alex the bird last week, it didn't lose me, too. I did have more surgery that I was rude enough to not tell most of you about, so I was happy and on pain meds and not writing about the world. I'll get back to that as soon as I can, hopefully later today.

Thanks for sticking around whilst I was absent, and thanks, Jazz, for posting!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

RIP Alex 1977 - 2007

A sad day. One of the great minds of our time has passed on. The leaps and bounds made by by intellectual titans such as Alex contribute to our understanding of the conscious mind and all of its potential. Taken from us at the tender age of thirty. It's simply sad. A picture of the dearly departed.

Alex, a parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials, has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain.

The cause of Alex's death was unknown. The African grey parrot's average life span is 50 years, Brandeis University scientist Irene Pepperberg said. Alex was discovered dead in his cage Friday, she said, but she waited to release the news until this week so grieving researchers could get over the shock and talk about it.
This story might pass by without notice, but here's the really creepy part.
The last time Pepperberg saw Alex was Thursday, she said. They went through their back-and-forth goodnight routine, which always varied slightly and in which she told him it was time to go in the cage.

She recalls the bird said: "You be good. I love you." She responded, "I love you, too." The bird said, "You'll be in tomorrow," and she responded, "Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."
Did the bird know? Did he sense impending doom hovering over his feathery shoulder? Or was that just some odd selection taken at random from his lexicon of phrases. Here was this creature who had a group of people caring for it, working so hard, every day for three decades to coax out the ability to bridge the gap... speak our language... communicate. And in the end, maybe Alex had something important to say about the nature of everything... but we just didn't bridge that gap well enough to grasp it.
You be good.
I love you.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Meanwhile, in the Garden State

As with any devotee of The One True Tami (blessed be Her name) I find it useful to keep tabs on what's happening in Her home stomping grounds of New Jersey. While those of us who move away to other areas quickly grow used to a panoply of Jersey jokes, (Oh... you're from New Jersey? Which exit? HAR HAR HAR!) it's important to realize how important the Garden State is to this nation. New Jerseyans can be justifiably proud of their state's many contributions to our country and our society, proving that the final resting place of Walt Whitman represents far more than mere overflow parking for New York City.

New Jersey has given us many things from Bruce Springsteen to a national understanding of the concept of a cranberry bog. And now... front lawn showering.

VINELAND -- A man was arrested and charged with lewdness Thursday after two young girls and their mother witnessed him showering naked on his front lawn, police said.

Fred Michaux, 49, of West Oxford Street, admitted to showering on his front lawn with a garden hose telling police, "I'm sorry, but I need to take a bath."

Obviously this was an individual in need of a good bath, but the police officers in question simply don't seem to be grasping the bigger picture. This guy isn't some random loon flaunting public sensibilities regarding lewdness. He's an innovator! Isn't New Jersey supposed to be a hotbed of Going Green and eco-awareness? Stop and think about it for a moment... Mr. Michawx is out there taking a shower, yes... but he's watering his lawn at the same time! That's right. Fred has found one of those "why didn't I think of that" solutions which has instantly cut his usage of fresh water in half. Or are the righteous individuals complaining about this too busy driving around in their gas guzzling SUVs, sipping Red Bull and Tanqueray from non-recyclable containers to notice?

I have it on reliable authority from sources familiar with this story that Fred also uses his back yard for gardening. How appropriate for the Garden State! Mr. Michawx is cutting down his personal dependence on out of state produce shipped in by fossil fuel driven trucks. And, yet again, he is ahead of the pack. To fertilize his crops, on any given day or evening you are likely to see him out in the yard pooping in his garden. But let me guess... some of you will be offended by that as well, right?

I'm reminded of some words of wisdom given by Christie Todd Whitman back when I was working on her gubernatorial reelection campaign. "Jazz," she said. "Everybody poops."

Truer words have never been spoken. We use cow dung to fertilize our crops all over the country. That's cow poop! What? You think you're somehow less capable of productively pooping than a cow?

No... we should be applauding Fred and his revolutionary and eco-friendly ideas. A Renaissance man like this only comes around once in a generation, and I think he needs all of our support. We'll be selling "Free Fred" t-shirts on the site later this week, with a portion of all proceeds going to buy something nice for Tami while she considers what to do about Mr. Michawx. Please remember to give until it hurts.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Jiggety Jig, etc.

I'm home, I'm ashamed of how much I hate IV's, and I'm fine.

The filter, she is in my vein, where she intends to stay forever and ever.

Really, having that thing stuck in your hand does hurt. People lie.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Slow Tami Week

Sorry for the lack of writing, folks, I've been all self-indulgent and panicky about my medical life. I'm having an IVC filter put in me. Jeebus, but that picture scares the living crap out of me. And what the hell is that they're using for scale, a 20 pence coin? How the hell big is one of those?

OK, Tami, stop, breathe slow, think about something else.

Tony Snow is stepping down.

NBC is possibly shooting themselves in the foot.

Science can be pretty, but I don't think it's (in and of itself) art. This is not to say that you can't make art from scientific building blocks, but only when you're using them to actually represent something else, or form a new pattern, or... Never mind. I might not know art, but I know what I like, and it's not a printout of a DNA pattern on my wall.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Equal and Opposite Reation

As physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so the world proves as today Michael Vick enters his guilty plea.
The NFL suspended him indefinitely and without pay Friday after his plea agreement was filed. Merely associating with gamblers can trigger a lifetime ban under the league's personal conduct policy.
Association with gamblers can trigger a lifetime ban, so I guess that thoughtlessly (or worse, with forethought) exploiting, hurting and killing creatures unable to even tell someone they're being abused should get that going, too.

It's so much easier to get up in the morning when you expect someone to be punished for what they've done, and then they actually are punished.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Work Day

I liked this conversation so much I decided to put it on my blog (names changed, of course, but typos maintained)

MyBoss [2:23 PM]:

Tami, have you contacted ... about the changeman file?
Me [2:24 PM]:
Yes. He got back to me with the "a couple of weeks" answer, and I let him know that we needed to be ready to migrate our DB by 10/5. Hopefully that will help.
MyBoss [2:25 PM]:
So when will we be ready to report on the additional fields?
Me [2:26 PM]:
I put our migrate date out there, but he didn't come back to me with anything. I thought I'd wait another business day before bringing heavy pressure, should I ditch that plan and give him a call?
MyBoss [2:27 PM]:
No, it can wait until Monday, I just need to give a date when we will start reporting
Me [2:28 PM]:
It really does depend on ... We need a project plan.
MyBoss [2:28 PM]:
or a big stick
Me [2:28 PM]:
Yes, well, that would probably be equally as effective.
Me [2:29 PM]:
Except that he looks kinda strong.
MyBoss [2:29 PM]:
not compared to a big stick
Me [2:29 PM]:
How big is that stick?1
MyBoss [2:30 PM]:
Me [2:30 PM]:
All right then, now I know why you walk so softly.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Hijack My Own Post

After reading Brilliant at Breakfast this morning, I was going to just hand over a hat tip and mention the amusing lightning strike during the GOP debate. The thing is, however, I read the whole article.

I hate that I so often find myself in the position of being a single issue voter. I really, really hate it. The thing is, when you feel as strongly about something as I feel about the pro-choice/pro-life issue, you can't seem to put it aside to look at the other issues. I respect plenty of people who would never consider some of the choices I've made for myself, but I respect them because they also respect me and my right to choose the way I live my life. When you take away choice, you're actively oppressing. I don't want to get into the whole thing here, you've heard it plenty, but it's still how I feel. Because of this, when I read this paragraph in the article, my brain seized a little:
Some of the second-tier candidates tried to go after Rudy, mostly in roundabout ways. When Sam Brownback told the audience he didn't think the GOP would nominate a presidential candidate who is not pro-life, moderator Wolf Blitzer quickly asked whether he could support Giuliani if he wins majority support in the primaries. "I have great respect for the mayor," Brownback said, visibly uncomfortable. "I just don't think we're going to nominate somebody that is not pro-life." Brownback added that he would support whoever eventually emerged as the GOP nominee.
A pro-choice Republican candidate is an option? Really? I mean, Brownback is denying it, so it must be out there on the table somewhere.

If the Republican candidate were pro-choice, then maybe I could seriously look at what else that candidate stood for. Maybe it really would come down to a choice about private services vs. public ones and the idea of big government vs. small government. I might look at the election as a choice between two styles of governing instead of a choice between people who respect my rights to my own body vs. people who don't.

A daunting prospect for my little ole brain.

Now, that train of thought only goes so far with me. I am, in fact, in favor of public services, not trusting enough in the charitable nature of the human race to expect people to support others when it's their own choice. I've come around to the idea of universal health care as a Good Thing (as opposed to universal health insurance, which is NOT the same thing). I believe that a centralized effort to help people live more comfortable, dignified lives is what we, as a country, should be working for. So no, I probably wouldn't vote for a Republican candidate. The idea, though, of getting to choose based on political theory instead of fear of oppression, that was pretty heady.

Note: The sky remained clear the entire time I was writing this - no evidence of lightning at all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My World, Rocked

You know how some things in this world just honestly never occur to you?

I just read that there's fan fiction for The Office.

Never occurred to me. I haven't checked to see if it's true or not, I think I'm afraid to.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How do You Hold a Moonbeam in Your Hand?

Walmart, DRM-free, downloads, yada, yada, yada.
Wal-Mart said it would sell the "DRM-free" MP3 downloads of music by artists like the Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and Maroon 5 for 94 cents per track or $9.22 per album. It said the new format let customers play music on almost any device, including iPods, iPhones and Microsoft Corp's Zune portable media player.
As soon as something is playing audibly, it can be recorded, people.

Music is ephemeral, that's its nature. Even digitally perfect recordings can sound different to you at different times. Worrying about who is paying for it and who is not is such a waste of time. When I like a band or an artist, I make sure that they get some money from me. When I buy a song, I take whatever measures I need to take in order to make sure that I can play it on any device I choose. When I sing a song, it goes out into the ether and is remembered by some, but can never be recaptured.

Copy protection vexes me, and I find it pointless.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

On the unbearable lightness of weaponry

Every once in a while somebody comes along with a good idea. You know... like the Fig Newton. Zip Lock bags. Air conditioning. That slit in the front of boxer shorts.

Orlando Florida police officials put on their thinking caps and came up with a pretty good plan themselves. They decided that there were too many unregistered, unregulated firearms out on the streets, and rather than going and chasing them all down and confiscating them, it would be easier if the owners simply brought them in and surrendered the weapons themselves. But a plan like that calls for incentives. You can't expect every Tom, Dick and Harriett to simply bring in their unregistered firearms and turn them over. So the police offered designer sneakers and gift certificates to the local mall to anyone turning in a gun. Brilliant! And they had lots of takers. What they probably didn't expect was for someone to bring in a shoulder fired SAM rocket launcher.

Orlando emptied its bureau drawers and closets on Friday of more than 250 unwanted guns -- and one surface-to-air missile launcher.

The shoulder-fired weapon showed about 6 p.m. when an Ocoee man drove to the Citrus Bowl to trade the 4-foot-long launcher for size-3 Reebok sneakers for his daughter.

"I didn't know what to do with it, so I brought it here," explained the man, who said he found the missile in a shed he tore down last week. "I took it to three dumps to try to get rid of it and they told me to get lost."

Nobody stopped to ask this guy why he had one of these? He found it in a shed he was tearing down? Who owned the shed? It really sounds like the police are having a grand old time chuckling about this one, but if I was one of this guy's neighbors, I'd have a few more questions than that.

I had a heck of a time getting a permit for my 3" bore cannon, I can tell you. And getting a permit for a SAM is surely just as hard.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Non-Cheese Quiz Blogging Friday

I maintain that I smell quite girly, thank you, but otherwise, it's pretty much true:

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Gamer/Computer Nerd

You enjoy the visual stimulants of a video game, chatting on AIM, or reading online comics. Most of these types of nerds are considered dirty who lack hygeine, of course they always end up being the ones who make a crapload of money. And don't worry, that's just a stereotype; I'm not calling you dirty. ^_~

Literature Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Drama Nerd
Social Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

After all, I *am* a web developer. I don't make an actual crapload - yet. I'm working on it. I'm already at truckload level.

(hat tip Shakespeare's Sister)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Strike That, Reverse It

U.S.-Europe "Renaissance" Seen Under Sarkozy: Lantos
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Relations between the United States and Europe are likely to improve dramatically under new French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a U.S. congressional leader said on Thursday.
Dagnabbit, I wanted relations between the U.S. and Europe to improve, yes, but I wanted it because we'd had a regime change, not because they did.

No, the concept that Lantos' prediction might be wrong doesn't make that any better for me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Final Chapter: In which we embrace a long overdue holiday

Fortunately for us, not to mention the long term health and prosperity of the universe as we know it, The One True Tami (blessed is Her name) has returned safe and sound from her weeks long excursion to discover why the Emperor Penguins of the Glasdovney Shelf in Antarctica have been catching less fish on their own and resorting to raiding the supply tents of scientists in the area. (Who could have guessed that they were simply tired of fish and had seen Anthony Bourdain deep frying Snickers Bars on the food channel?) In any event, this will conclude my tenure as full time guest poster on this blog, but if She foolishly leaves the keys in my pockets, I may still pop in to attempt to amuse you or enrage you from time to time.

While we are all busy giving thanks for Tami's return, I felt it appropriate that we should also take a moment to be thankful for the great places we live and give some thought to how we, as individuals, can improve things. As my dear old Gram used to say, between belts of straight Rye, "the best way to forget about your own problems is to solve somebody else's." And there's one big problem facing us here in America which I think many of you could pitch in and fix. This problem (and it's as obvious as the nose on your face) is that we simply don't have enough people. All of this vast expanse of land here in North America, and yet the average population density is such that I'm sure most of you can drive for hours on end and not see another living human being.

Obviously, a large percentage of you simply aren't doing your part by procreating fast enough. And as usual, the only way we're going to resolve the issue is with help from the government. For once, I think that it is high time the U.S.A. took a page from the book of the Russians.
A Russian region of Ulyanovsk has found a novel way to fight the nation's birth-rate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.

The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who "give birth to a patriot" during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.

There you have it. A paid day off from work to stay home and fornicate. And, should you happen to give birth on, let's say, the 4th of July, you win a new car, a cruise to the Bahamas, and a big screen television. And if you miss the target date by a little bit? No worries! You still get an extra tax deduction for the year.

So, write your congressional representatives today! Let them know that you're not going to start pumping out the rug rats until they pony up some cash and prizes. Until then, the baby factory is on strike and they can continue to stare at those vast expanses of empty land in New Jersey, wondering how they will ever put them to use.

It's been a fun visit, Tami devotees. See you in the funny papers.

I'm Still a Peacenik!

So last night I was watching The Daily Show, and William Kristol was the guest. Jon Stewart made a joking comment about Kristol wanting the US to invade Iran, and Kristol said that it's not a bad idea.

Mr. Kristol: Killing people is always a bad idea, you bastard. I am mightily offended at your offhanded attitude about life and death.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Chapter Ten: In which I take the plunge (vicariously)

I must preface this entry by saying, in no uncertain terms, that I blame Guinness. (No, not the beer. I'm talking about the people who put out the record books.) The entire concept of setting records is a bit of a conundrum. Everyone likes the idea of actually setting a record. It's one of the ultimate "Hey! Look at me!" moments. And of course the setting of a record isn't any fun unless people notice it, hence the niche market that the Guinness people inhabit so well.

But it's a double edged sword. The downside of holding a world record is that people will immediately set out to best it. It's only natural, I suppose. Then, if it's a fairly high profile record garnering international attention, observers will split off into opposing camps of those who want the "old record" to remain in perpetuity and those rooting for the up and coming challenger.

Over in France there's a somewhat crazed looking ex-paratrooper who has his sights set on a very old record which is near and dear to my heart.
Skydiver plans head-first freefall from the edge of space in dizzying bid to break Mach 1

He will leap head-first from a weather balloon 25 miles above Earth and plummet at more than 1,000mph with only a parachute for company.

He will face external temperatures of minus 100c while inside his carbon-fibre suit it will be a stifling 65c - almost 150 fahrenheit.

And most amazing of all, Michel Fournier is actually looking forward to it.

It's not clear from the article, however, if Mssr. Fournier (age 63) has ever heard of Capt. Joe Kittinger. In my younger and far more foolish days, I was a skydiver myself. Capt. Joe is a legend in the skydiving community and likely will be for as long as people throw themselves out of planes at great altitude. You see, Joe Kittinger came from a group of supermen... living, breathing gods who walked the Earth among mere mortals. He was from the same exclusive club as Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager and the rest of those maniacs. They were hard drinking, filterless ciggie smoking lunatics who seemed to honestly believe they were immortal. These were the men who were called upon when someone was needed to test a new, experimental jet going past the speed of sound or to strap themselves on top of several tons of high explosives and be hurtled into space. Inevitably, some high government official would stroll by saying, "Ok... some daft guy in the lab came up with an idea after a few martinis last night we're thinking of trying. I should say ahead of time that if any of you are actually stupid enough to attempt this, you'll probably die, but..."

And that's as far as he would get before a fight would break out among these guys to see who would get to go. And this is why, on a clear summer day in the American Southwest desert, August 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger strapped on a barely tested, pressurized suit and climbed into the open basket of a gigantic helium balloon. He soared up more than 20 miles in the air, to the edge of space, (over 100,000 feet) and with cameras rolling, he stepped out of the balloon. Kittinger fell through the thin atmosphere for nearly five minutes. In the process, he actually blacked out at one point, then woke up a short time later and he was still falling. The pressurization failed in one of his gloves and his hands had very nearly frozen into claws. Plummeting toward the desert at terminal velocity he had to claw at the release cord and finally deployed a parachute, sailing down to the sand and into the pages of history. The sheer number of records he set that day, during the infancy of parachuting, was simply staggering.

In the nearly fifty years which have passed since then, even with all of the vast improvements in technology which have followed, a fair number of people have attempted to best Joe's achievement. Invariably, each and every one has wound up looking very silly or very dead (or both) in the effort. Michel Fournier is now 63 years old. Given his background he is doubtless very brave. He has the training and the temperament, it seems, but one has to wonder if this is the kind of task he should be attempting at this point in his life.

Some records may simply not be intended to be broken. And Joe Kittinger? He's 79 years old and he's still flying humanitarian aide delivery missions in South America. You'll have to kill him 'afore he dies.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Honey, I'm Home!

OK, so I've been away for a little more than a week, enjoying the company mightily and missing indoor bathrooms more than you can imagine.


Still, if any of you think I've been actually roughing it, here's an example photo of a friend and I talking in someone's kitchen tent. It's my friends' Dirk and Killian's kitchen tent (not their real names, but their real fake names), and Dirk took the picture. I hope he doesn't mind me posting it here.

Camp Talk

I'd like to thank Jazz for writing so much stuff, and for being more popular than I am. OK, I'm not so happy about more people reading him than me, but I'll live.

Chaptern Nine: In which I excoriate the villain

I spent Sunday in search of a villain. It's not that I'm a collector of the villainous, mind you. Nor am I a professional bounty hunter. I wouldn't mind doing it, as I've heard the pay is outstanding, but the thought of someone taking exception with my trying to apprehend them - keeping in mind that a punch to the face may offend - rather puts me off my feed.

No, I was simply in an ill temper. I had spent my Sunday in a variety of pursuits which involved baking fresh bread from scratch, vacuuming carpets, cleaning floors and dishes, changing cat litter and a few other related items. I realize that these are all necessary things, and may even strike some readers as charming, but the fact is that I'm no Barney Homemaker. I was feeling ornery and looking for someone to take it out on. Before too long, I found the perfect candidate.

Imagine, if you will, a shopping mall parking lot. A man approaches a car. He breaks a window. He winds up handcuffing the car's owner to the door of the vehicle and leaving him there where more people show up and beat him. Yes, we have found ourselves a villain. But it's not the guy who broke the window.

A pet detective who is temporarily suspended after rescuing a dog from a locked and overheated car says he was just doing what his mandate asks him to do – save animals' lives.

Tre Smith, an animal cruelty investigator for the Toronto Humane Society and former mall security guard, is not allowed to investigate animal cruelty complaints pending an investigation in which he handcuffed the owner of the dog to a car.

On July 31, Smith responded to a call that Cyrus, a 50-kg Rottweiler, was locked in an overheated car. The Toronto Humane Society investigator smashed through the car window, rescued the dying dog, who was slumped and foaming at the mouth, and handcuffed the irate owner to the car. He then rushed the dog to a hospital, leaving the man there handcuffed until police arrived on the scene.

But reports soon followed that the handcuffed dog owner was beaten by the crowd and was bleeding when police arrived, so the Ontario SPCA has hired a retired Ontario Provincial Police officer to probe the incident and determine whether Smith had followed proper protocol or overstepped his limits.

The "victim" in this case is now apparently raising a stink about being handcuffed and beaten. Oh, boo-hoo. Probably better than being handcuffed inside the locked up car in the sun and dying from the heat. He should take a lesson from Michael Vick in what to expect from the public in terms of sympathy for his "plight" in this matter.

But the highly publicized pet saving incident has ignited emotion and feedback from hundreds of pet owners and swamped the Toronto Humane Society with letters and emails calling for his reinstatement.

It seems public sentiment for Smith in cyberspace is growing. There are more than 10 Facebook groups calling for his reinstatement.

Mr. Smith shouldn't get his job back. He should get a new job in charge of running the office and setting policy, with a nice fat raise, a corner office and a solid pension plan. If chuckle-heads like this dog owner and Michael Vick do anything positive in this world, it may be to draw long overdue attention to the pitiful lack of stiff animal cruelty laws in place today and the even more dismal record that we have enforcing them.

If you're in Ontario and happen to see this guy at the mall, wave a pair of handcuffs at him for me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Chapter Eight: In which I reconsider the phrase "Rocket Scientist"

This weekend, The One True Tami (blessed be Her name) continues on the third leg of her Eastern European tour of Romania and several other countries - the names of which I can't pronounce or spell - to raise awareness of excessive foot odor and its tragic consequences. (And again, we can not thank Dr. Scholls enough for the sponsorship money.) While She spends so much time travelling, I'm sure She remains in all of our thoughts and prayers, but this has also prompted me to spend some time thinking about other people who spend a significant amount of their time hurtling through the air.

Astronauts, in fact, come to mind.

When I was a child I dreamed of becoming an astronaut. (That is, when I wasn't dreaming of becoming a stunt motorcycle jumper, a CIA assassin or, in at least one case, a firetruck.) Astronauts are fearless heroes, physically superior human beings... and they are also smart! One of the prerequisites for gaining admission into NASA's elite club of fliers is often to be a rocket scientist! I mean, how cool is that?

"What do you think you are, some kind of rocket scientist?"

"Why yes, in fact. I am! SUCK IT, LIBERAL ARTS MAJORS! MUA HA HA!"

Well, that perception is beginning to change. In large part I'm afraid it's because of the curious behavior of Lisa Nowak. Lest we forget, Lisa was the sky jockey who wore a diaper while driving cross country to douse the face of another female astronaut with pepper spray because of some sort of dispute over a paramour shared by the two. The recently released video (linked above) of Ms. Nowak during her time in confinement can only lead one to wonder.

Eventually she begins to unravel. She lies on the floor in a fetal position, her back against the door. She gets up, and officers bring her something to drink. She seems to say she feels dizzy, and they offer to bring her food. She asks for an apple.

"Do you know where you are, what city you're in?" one officer asks. Her response is inaudible.

"You seem like you're kind of out of it," he replies.

"I've been awake for a long time," she replies tearfully.

Another officer brings her an apple, and she begins to eat.

"What's going on in your mind right now?" an officer asks.

"That I'm going to be locked up forever," she replies in part, tearfully.

It's really becoming somewhat less attractive to refer to someone as a rocket scientist these days. But what other terms of admiration and endearment will fill the bill? Brain Surgeon was always a popular one, but let's face it... people latched on to that one in droves in the 80's and 90's. These days you can't swing a dead flight technician without hitting a brain surgeon. The market is flooded and I believe the guy who sold me my double cream, half-caf latte yesterday morning was drilling into somebody's cerebral embolism less than a year ago.

So what profession can we use when attempting to highlight a person's dizzying intellect?

I'm thinking Internet pundit.

"What do you think you are? Some kind of blogger?"

"Why yes, in fact. I am!"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chapter Seven; In which I confront the hypocritical genius of womynkind

Ah, marriage. That most blessed and blissful of states. The eternal union which brings two souls together in perpetuity, creating something new and vastly more powerful and meaningful than the sum of its parts. We could spend the rest of The One True Tami's (blessed be Her name) vacation singing the praises of marriage and yet barely scratch the surface of its multitudinous advantages. I'm positive that men and women both have their own favorite aspects of matrimony, but I fear I am limited by nature and biology to reflecting on the particularly male perspective.

And speaking solely as a man, I believe I can identify the one perquisite of marriage which stands head and shoulders above the rest - that being that you don't have to date any more. Whenever any of my married male colleagues - possibly suffering from the seven year itch doldrums or some form of undiagnosed dementia -begin to wax nostalgic about their younger, single, dating day, I find myself fighting down an overwhelming urge to roll up a newspaper, smack them sharply upon the nose, shake a finger in their face and say, "No!"

Dating, at least from the man's vantage point, reminds me of nothing quite so much as a gold prospector living alone up in the mountains for months on end. After a season of back breaking stoop work in all manner of inclement weather, swirling mud around in your small pan, you finally come up with the large, shining nugget of treasure that will fulfill your dreams of avarice. When this happens, you tend to quickly forget the days and weeks on end of discovering gravel, broken glass, ticks attached to your limbs and attacks by wild animals. This observation was brought home once again this morning when an article by renowned feminist Kris Frieswick crossed my desk.

Ms. Frieswick, the author of books, columns and essays, is a renowned authority on matters of gender equality, women's issues and the general evil represented by the y-chromosome wielding portion of the population. This is why I was somewhat taken aback to note the title of this article... "Note to men: Want a Second Date? Pay for the First." Rubbing my eyes and assuming that surely I was suffering from an insufficient dose of morning caffeine, I decided to investigate the article further.
It was our first date. He was handsome, tall, educated, thoughtful and funny. He had a British accent and a great body. We sipped martinis and nibbled on perfectly seasoned tenderloin in a gourmet restaurant in downtown Boston. To say he was a catch would be an understatement. Yet the deal was not fully sealed until the dinner check came. He reached to pay it without hesitating.

Reader, I married him.

There was, of course, more to it than that. But one of the things that most attracted me to my husband was his boundless generosity when it came to me.

Me -- the feminist, the aggressive professional, the battler of gender inequality wherever it lurks.

Me -- the woman who thinks the man should pay for the first date.

But how, I wondered, could such an acclaimed authority on all things feminist justify such a position? Never one to shrink from the challenge, the author provided a candid response to my question.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

I must be a genius. A hypocritical genius.


No wonder men are perplexed by the modern woman. We're actually prehistoric hypocritical geniuses.

Now, just to set the record straight, I have always believed that I should pay for my date's expenses when I take her out for the evening. I also see nothing wrong with holding a door open nor any other niceties which are now considered, at best, quaint, or at worst, misogynistic.

The author goes on to explain that this behavior is actually based deep in our genetic code, because (quoting another author) "The female of any species gravitates toward a mate who can provide for her and any potential offspring." These traits apparently date back to our caveman ... errr... caveperson ancestors.

Lots of other habits were attributed to our cave dwelling ancestors as well. These, I believe, include bludgeoning women over the head with clubs, dragging them into caves by their hair, and leaving them there all day to tend to the domestic chores while they went out to shove a spear into a woolly mammoth. Hrmm... with a few behavioral modifications, perhaps I could become a prehistoric hypocritical genius too!

Look... I happen to accept that men and women are different in wild and wonderful ways. And I fully endorse those differences in the way we work our way through the complicated, dizzying minefield of dating and mating. But if you are also going to accept those differences, please just accept them. Don't try to justify them and fit them into some gender equality equation where, the fact is, they just don't fit. Not everything is equal. And hang me for saying it, but in some cases, that's not always bad.

Viva la difference!