Thursday, June 30, 2005

Vacation in New Hampshire

That's what I'm talking about!

I know I'm a little late with this one and some friends have already noted it, but in the interests of NMTE's small dedicated readership who are not blog whores like myself, I repeat the news item here.

Logan Darrow Clements, the Billy Jack of private property is attempting to seize Souter's home in Weare, NH to build the Lost Liberty Hotel:
"The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare," Clements wrote.

. . .

Each hotel room would offer guests a bedside copy of Rand's "Atlas Shrugged."

The proposal pleased 100 or so conservatives at the regular Wednesday morning strategy meeting hosted in Washington by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative organization.

"Let's go rock and roll," Norquist said after hearing of Clements' idea.
(For some reason that scene from office space of the copier massacre springs to mind.)

For those of you who have been on a news blackout during the past week, Clements is, of course, inspired (and empowered) by the recent Supreme Court ruling that cities can seize people's homes for private development. According to the court's majority opinion (Souter of course, having voted with the majority), this line in the Fifth Amendment--"nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation"--means that private property can be taken for private development because that development will bring with it jobs and income for the city. Um, yeah, okay. Not really the way I read it, but hey.

Too groovy to be true

I consider Terry McMillan's divorce a full-scale cultural tragedy. I'm not even a chick flick kind of gal, and I've never seen (or read) How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Nonetheless, I find myself a wee bit emotionally invested in the fact that the story is ending in the fashion it is.

For those of you out of the 40-something woman cultural icon loop, ten years ago Terry McMillan took a Jamaican vacation to soothe her soul after her mother died. Instead of relaxation, McMillan, 43 at the time, found blow-your-doors-off, see-god-even-if-you-don't-believe-in-him sex with Jonathan Plummer a beautiful 20 year-old Jamaican guy. McMillan wrote How Stella Got Her Groove Back about the experience; she married Plummer; and 40-something women around the world said "Yeah, baby!"

As it turns out, Plummer is gay. And they're getting divorced. And it's ugly:
There are restraining orders on both sides. McMillan obtained one to keep Plummer from her house, according to documents, and claims she discovered he had embezzled at least $200,000 from her bank accounts. Plummer got his after he alleged she had harassed him for coming out of the closet, and had come to his dog-grooming business and thrown things. In a Jan. 14 letter filed with the court, McMillan wrote to Plummer, "The reason you're going to make a great fag is that most of you guys are just like dogs anyway. . . . You do whatever with whomever pleases you and don't seem to care about the consequences."

Plummer contends in documents that McMillan tried to prevent him from obtaining his share of royalties for "Stella." In her filed response, she says that is untrue, adding she gave him $150,000 in the first few months after he arrived in California, and later paid for him to go to community college and San Francisco State University. She has been ordered to pay him $2,000 a month in spousal support as well as some attorneys' fees.
Poor Terry. True, her letter to Plummer is out of line, but I feel for her anyway. I've been the last stop on the block for a few now-gay men, and while I do find it less demoralizing than being left for another woman (I mean, really, there are certain things I just can't bring to the table in a relationship), no one likes to have their groove taken away. And poor 40-something women everywhere. They didn't realize they were actually starring in an Almodovar flick.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Being a copyeditor

This is what I was thinking about today at work: having a skill such as copyediting is a lot like owning a pick-up truck. Sooner or later, most of your friends move or buy an appliance or something, and they think to themselves, "Gee, I'm so glad I know someone with a pick-up truck." I know people who have actually sold their trucks just because they're tired of toting everyone's firewood or lumber or the like. Today was one of those days that I wished I really didn't know how to use a semicolon. Sigh.

The worst of all possible worlds

Bentonville, Arkansas:

Wal-Mart's folksy, baseball cap-wearing founder, Sam Walton, so despised public displays of wealth that, after his death in 1992, the billionaire's heirs decided to enshrine his prized possession, a battered Ford pickup, behind a simple storefront on the town square here.

But Walton's spirit of restraint is harder to find next door to the museum at Fusion, a new fine-arts gallery that sells $2,500 abstract paintings and $1,200 urns. Or at the nearby Landers Hummer dealership, crowded with $62,000 sport-utility trucks. Or inside Shadow Valley, a gated community where four-bedroom houses fetch $1 million.

The hard-nosed retailing tactics of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. have transformed communities across the country, but none more so than the one in its own back yard. Benton County, once a sedate backwater, is quickly morphing into a swanky oasis in the middle of the Ozarks.
Truly astonishing. It's pretty much everything I hate about America in one small town. "A swanky oasis in the middle of the Ozarks"--can you say "hell on earth"?

Why don't we just give them a loaded gun?

Canadian researchers are exploring a brilliant new idea in drug treatment:
Researchers in Montreal are about to launch one part of a three-city study to determine whether medically prescribed heroin is better than methadone at keeping street addicts in treatment programs.

The North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), which also includes sites in Toronto and Vancouver, will target a total of 470 opiate-dependent users who have not benefited from conventional addiction treatment programs.

. . .

Each participant will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group will receive injectable, pharmaceutical-grade heroin, while the other will be given oral methadone.
Gee whiz, I wonder how that study will turn out. I'm not much of a science person, but something tells me that those junkies who "have not benefited from conventional addiction treatment" will indeed me more inclined to stay in treatment if they got shot up with dope every day. In fact, let's run with this idea. Maybe if we installed roulette wheels in the GA meetings the gamblers would be more inclined to attend. And we could add pints of Ben and Jerrys to the midnight snack menu for the eating disorder clinics. Sheesh.

(For more info, see the press release.)

A sure sign of progress

Cafepress has a whole page of Downing Street Memo designs. You know you're getting somewhere when your cause is commodified, that's what I say.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It's all about me

Tagged by the Yella for the self-revelatory meme...

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?

First let me say that, like Yella, most of the stupid things I've done have ended up to my benefit in the end, if I take the long view. Second, I am taking this at face value--"stupidest," as in "doh!" not necessarily most regretable, which I would hardly blog about. Though admittedly there is overlap in these categories. Let me also say, it's really tough to pick only three. And it's humbling to think about how long this list could be.

a) Attempting to cop drugs in the DC projects as a teenage white girl

b) Hitch-hiking (and here I am feeling just a wee bit of gratitude I didn't end up in garbage bags under a half dozen bridges)

c) Putting off writing my dissertation for so many years

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

My best friend, Andrea (when she says, "I wouldn't do that if I were you," I really listen; when most other people say that, I think, "Yeah, but you're not, are you?")

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?

a) Anne Hutchinson
b) Stephen Burroughs
c) Deborah Sampson
d) Vincent Van Gogh
e) my dad

Which is to say, my dad and the outlaws. Probably I should add Dorothy Parker, or PT Barnum, or Oscar Wilde or someone who would brighten up the attitude a little, but I'm counting on Stephen Burroughs to keep things lively.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

a) Free, on-demand health care for everyone

b) A redistribution of wealth (aka economic justice)

c) Peace on earth (well, maybe all of those are supernatural, but oh well)

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

Two things it's a shame we don't have:

a) air with a decent amount of oxygen
b) sidewalk culture

Two things people should avoid:

a) the 405 during rush hour(s)
b) the 101 during rush hour(s)

6. Name one event that has changed your life.

Okay, this may sound weird, but I'd say HUAC, despite the fact that it happened before I was born. Having a parent who was blacklisted teaches you a lot of things from a young age--like standing up for what you believe in is not necessarily rewarded, your government is not always on your side, and zealotry of all kinds should be regarded with suspicion to name just a few.

7. Tag 5 people.


Monday, June 27, 2005

A bridge too far

It should come as no great surprise to NMTE readers that I was a teenage punk. Let me date myself: in April 1981, I was 15 years old and I saw the Dead Kennedys at DC's 9:30 club and it changed my life. The club was less than a year old and Dischord was less than six months old. It was the perfect place and the perfect time to be an angry teenager. Way back then, once upon a time, if you were a teenage girl that got a crew cut and wore mini-kilts and combat boots with homemade band tee-shirts and ripped fishnets, people went so far as to spit on you. True story. So the wrath of my teen years was constantly augmented by the hostile reactions of the general population during those Reagan years.

So what's the point of all of this nostalgic rambling? Nike, that's what. Alex at After School Snack has alerted me to Nike's ad campaign for their 2005 skateboard tour:

On the left: Dischord's third pressing.

On the right: Nike's tour flier.

My advice to Dischord: Just sue 'em. (I did notice that Nike has posted an apology on their website, no doubt in fears of such a thing. Fucking co-opting bastards.)

If email services were boyfriends

I just got this error message from Yahoo mail:
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses. This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

I'm not going to try again; this message has been in the queue too long.
I'm thinking some tech guy at Yahoo is doing a wee bit of projecting. All it needs is the "It's not you; it's me" sentence and it would be perfect.


In the category "advertising that does the opposite of what it's supposed to" falls Yahoo's plug for their new photo email service:

Now every email is an event.
Easily drag and drop hundreds of photos per email.
You know, if every email was an event I might have to put a bullet in my brain. I don't think I could take it.

Surrender is not a Ranger word

Last month, Seymour Hersh mentioned a series of digital photos that had been forwarded to him:
After I did Abu Ghraib, I got a bunch of digital pictures emailed me, and -- was a lot of work on it, and I decided, well, we can talk about it later. You never know why you do things. You have some general rules, but in this case, a bunch of kids were going along in three vehicles. One of them got blown up. The other two units -- soldiers ran out, saw some people running, opened up fire. It was a bunch of boys playing soccer. And in the digital videos you see everybody standing around, they pull the bodies together. This is last summer. They pull the bodies together. You see the body parts, the legs and boots of the Americans pulling bodies together. Young kids, I don't know how old, 13, 15, I guess. And then you see soldiers dropping R.P.G.'s, which are rocket-launched grenades around them. And then they're called in as an insurgent kill.
Hersh determined not to follow up on the story because it was inconclusive and it could threaten his sources.

Cryptome has the pictures of the dead boys with and without the weapon, courtesy of Mark Kraft.

Baghdad Dweller and Feral Scholar also weigh in.

As an aside: today is something of a watershed moment for me. For the first time, I am not aghast or even surprised by this kind of news. For so long now, I have been astonished by my own ability to continue to be shocked and outraged. Today, it just feels wearying.

(Thanks to S for the link.)

To quote Andrea:

"It's like they just can't be evil enough."

U.S. to resume plutonium 238 production

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Why I love the valley

Saturday night B and I went to Vern's Volver Volver for the best tamales in the valley. (Well, B had the potato tacos because she doesn't like tamales.) I admit I was disappointed because they were out of the sweet tamales (with pineapple and raisins) but the lack of sweet tamales was made up for by the Spanish game show on the wide screen TV. I have no idea what the premise of the show was--I do not speak Spanish--but I can tell you there were seals propped up at the game show podiums barking and clapping.

After Vern's we stopped for gas at Arco and a man missing half an arm wanted to wash our windshield. Somewhere below the elbow and above what would have been a wrist his arm tapered off, and duct taped to the taper end was a bottle of windex. (We said no thanks.)

And then we went to the multiplex and saw Romero's Land of the Dead, which fucking rocked. It was the antidote to last week's Batman, made even better seeing it at a multiplex in the Valley. Oh the irony.

Warning, potential spoilers:

Like I said, Land of the Dead was the Batman antiviral. The message of Batman: Things are good as long as the filthy rich are benevolent, "good" men. When things are bad, one man can potentially change the world--though he can't be with a woman while he does. The message of L of the D: Capitalism sucks, no matter who is in charge. Hell yeah the antihero gets the girl, and he only tries to save the world to an extent; then he gets the hell out of there. So yeah, it rocked. I loved it.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

He may be for torture, but at least he's pro-tit

Via AMERICABlog comes the heartening news that the Spirit of Justice and the Majesty of Law are, once again, baring their breasts. I for one, look forward to a return to the good old days:
When former Attorney General Edwin Meese released a report on pornography in the 1980s, photographers dived to the floor to capture the image of him raising the report in the air, with the partially nude female statue behind him.
I want to see those reporters hitting the turf during Gonzo's press conferences.

"They're living in the tropics"

Cheney yesterday on Guantanamo:
They're very well treated down there. They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want. There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people.
But do they get doritos, that's what I want to know. Or is that just for the masterminds?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ministry for Public Enlightenment

Still too busy to blog, but to say the whole CPB/public broadcasting news chills me to the bone. Am I excessively paranoid to see Patricia Harrison's election to CPB's CEO as the latest sign of creeping Fascism? (Harrison being the former co-chair of the Republican Party and the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs)

I fear to think what Sesame Street will be forced to do with their "one of these things is not like the other" sketches.

Great ideas from the writing group

So tonight the writing group met again after an extended hiatus. What beats poetry and tuna melts at a bad North Hollywood diner, I ask you? Unfortunately, as D, D, and K had to vie with the too-highly-pitched laughter of the teased blonde duo in the booth to my back, and I had to strain to hear the conversation at our own booth, my misanthropy began to grow. Remember that line from Repo Man: "Ordinary fucking people--I hate 'em"? It was like that. Finally, I had to cut off the verse talk with the summary statement that we jointly agreed should be the title of a TV series hosted by your's truly: I Hate My Species.

Can't you see it? I think it would be so great--and what better place than LA? One week at Disneyland, the next week at Malibu, the following week at Northridge Mall's Hot Topics store... the possibilities are endless. And here's the scary confession: I really want to do this. A lot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why are we still even talking about it?

Once again, we are confronted with the potential Flag Burning amendment. The House today passed HJ Res 10: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." AP tells us that there is a greater chance than ever before of the amendment passing the Senate as well:
. . .the measure has always died in the Senate, falling short of the 67 votes needed. The last time the Senate took up the amendment was in 2000, when it failed 63-37.

But last year's elections gave Republicans a four-seat pickup in the Senate, and now proponents and critics alike say the amendment stands within a vote or two of reaching the two-thirds requirement in that chamber.
Of course, if the Senate passes it then it will go on to the states for ratification. Can you hear my deep and heavy sighing over here?

This has been a too, too busy week for me, which accounts for the paucity of posts, and so I haven't had time to do what I would normally do, which is read the Congressional Record. (Only the most geeky among us can admit, "Yes, I was up too late because I was reading the Congressional Record until 2am.") But I couldn't resist skimming it a little nonetheless.

Here are a couple of choice moments:
Florida's Alcee Hastings:
Throughout this debate, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that some of our colleagues are going to try to paint some of us Democrats as unpatriotic. They will tell the American people that because we support the protection of our civil liberties and the constitutional right for an American to burn her flag, we are therefore not loyal citizens. . . .

To those who intend to levy such artificial claims, I say shame on you. You see, Mr. Speaker, this Congress and the Bush administration loves draping itself in the flag when talking about troops and terrorism. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if they so choose to do that.

Yet . . . more than 1,700 Americans have died in Iraq, and some substantial number in Afghanistan, and, yet, when they come home to Dover, Delaware, with flag-draped coffins, this administration who is so proud of the flag and all of you who would support its being made a part of a Constitution, refuses to let the public see the pictures of those persons with those flag-draped coffins, and I might add, punishes the media for trying to access them.

The hypocrisy is so thick, that you can choke on it.
New York's Gary Ackerman:
The Constitution this week is being nibbled to death by small men with press secretaries. If the flag burners offend us, do not beat a cowardly retreat by rushing to ban them. Meet their ideas with bigger ideas, for an even better America to protect the flag by protecting democracy, not by retreating from it.

The choice today is substance or symbolism. We cannot kill a flag. It is a symbol; and, yes, patriots have died, but they have died for liberty. They have died for democracy. They have died for the right of the protestors. They died for values.

The flag is a symbol of those values. Saying that people died for the flag is symbolic language. What they really died for are American principles. The Constitution gives us our rights. The Constitution guarantees our liberties. The Constitution embodies our freedoms. It is our substance. The flag is the symbol for which it stands.

True patriots choose substance over symbolism.
Great stuff.

So in honor of today's Constitutional Desecration, here is today's trivia question:
Q: When did the first recorded incident of flag desecration take place in America?

Insert Jeopardy music here....


Give up? A: 1634. John Endicott cut the cross out of the Red Ensign, which British colonies were required to fly, because he felt it was sacrilegious to conflate divine and kingly rule in the symbol of the cross on the flag--"popery," to put it in the Puritans' terms.

Can you tell I wrote a chapter on the history of the flag? Ask me another one...

Anyway, the point being, after three hundred seventy years, I see no reason to revise the Constitution now.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Headline of the day

Brain Areas Shut Off During Female Orgasm


AP reports:
New research indicates parts of the brain that govern fear and anxiety are switched off when a woman is having an orgasm but remain active if she is faking.

In the first study to map brain function during orgasm, scientists from the Netherlands also found that as a woman climaxes, an area of the brain governing emotional control is largely deactivated.

"The fact that there is no deactivation in faked orgasms means a basic part of a real orgasm is letting go. Women can imitate orgasm quite well, as we know, but there is nothing really happening in the brain," said neuroscientist Gert Holstege, presenting his findings Monday to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

. . .

"During orgasm, there was strong, enormous deactivation in the brain. During fake orgasm, there was no deactivation of the brain at all. None," Holstege said.

Shutting down the brain during orgasm may ensure that obstacles such as fear and stress did not get in the way, Holstege proposed. "Deactivation of these very important parts of the brain might be the most important necessity for having an orgasm," he said.
And here we are thinking several things. First, we suspect Gert Holstege may have some personal issues he could fruitfully share with a therapist of some kind. His "as we know" and "None," seem a bit forceful to us and we wonder if his research is motivated by some sort of last-laugh impulse.

Gert aside, NMTE offers this as the latest in our biology/romance series--the "why we do the things we do" strain of personal blogging. And so my fellow blog grrrlz, if any of you have found yourselves redecorating the relationship house while it was burning down around you, be solaced with the knowledge that your biology was your destiny. It's not your fault--the sex gave you brain damage.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Quote of the day

"There's no level of cynicism deep enough to account for humanity. In order to be cynical enough not to be continually surprised, you would have to be hospitalizable."

Andrea in our phone conversation tonight

Curiouser and curiouser

Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that the US's role in world politics is getting more and more bizarre? Disgusting, yes, venal, of course, but also just plain weird.

In that vein, AP has a story on Saddam's relationship with his prison guards. First let me say his remarks about Bush bear an eerie resemblance to those from Clinton remarked on earlier in the month:
GQ magazine's July issue says Saddam greatly admired President Reagan and thought President Clinton was "OK," but had harsh words for both President Bushes, each of whom went to war against him.

"The Bush father, son, no good," one of the soldiers, Cpl. Jonathan "Paco" Reese, 22, of Millville, Pa., quotes Saddam as saying. But his fellow GI, Specialist Sean O'Shea, then 19, says Saddam later softened that view.

"Towards the end he was saying that he doesn't hold any hard feelings and he just wanted to talk to Bush, to make friends with him," O'Shea, of Minooka, Pa., told the magazine.
I'm envisioning the golf game, you know?

And then there's this extract:
Saddam learned the names of the GIs guarding him, was interested in the details of their lives, which they were not supposed to discuss, and sometimes offered fatherly advice. They conversed in English.

O'Shea said when he told him he was not married, Saddam "started telling me what to do." "He was like, `you gotta find a good woman. Not too smart, not too dumb. Not too old, not too young. One that can cook and clean.'"

Then he smiled, made what O'Shea interpreted as a "spanking" gesture, laughed and went back to washing his clothes in the sink.

The soldiers say Saddam was preoccupied with cleanliness, washing up after shaking hands and using diaper wipes to clean his meal trays, his utensils and the table before eating. "He had germophobia or whatever you call it" said Dawson, 25, of Berwick, Pa.

The article quotes the GIs on Saddam's eating preferences ? Raisin Bran Crunch was his breakfast favorite. "No Froot Loops," he told O'Shea. He ate fish and chicken but refused beef at dinner.

For a time his favorite food was Cheetos, and when those ran out, Saddam would "get grumpy," the story says. One day the guards substituted Doritos corn chips, and Saddam forgot about Cheetos. "He'd eat a family size bag of Doritos in 10 minutes," Dawson says.
And what I'm thinking right now is that capitalism and sexism seem to be forces strong enough to allow men to forge bonds regardless of their differences. Sure, you may be head of the evil empire, and I'm part of the forces fighting against the darkness, but we can all agree that snack food is yummy and a good woman knows how to cook, right?

Good god. It's Kafka meets David Foster Wallace, I tell you. This era... Heaven help us.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Places I've been

create your own visited country map

Via the world-traveling Conor comes the link to create maps of where you've been. My worldwide map is paltry next to his, but I'll bet he can't match my US map.

create your own personalized map of the USA

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Why I'm glad I have air conditioning

When I lived in DC I didn't have air conditioning. Anyone who has ever been to DC in the summer months understands that this is highly problematic. It leads one to linger in the grocery store frozen food section, restraining the urge to lie down in the freezer cases; work long hours at one's air conditioned job; and yes, go to summer movies as often as possible.

Happily, I now have air conditioning and only rarely do I make the mistake of gambling on a summer blockbuster. Tonight was the occasion for one of those rare mistakes: Batman.


It was painful. Really awful. To the point of being almost embarrassing.

Becky's one-line review: At least there was no Robin.

You can find anything on the Internets

I'm loving this: Sushi Finder

I never liked his art much...

...but I may have to rethink that.

David Hockney is moving back to England so that he can smoke wherever he wants.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Why I get my news online

Oliphant chimes in on the DSM.

You know, when I was in DC, I watched a lot of cable news, which I don't usually do, and really, if you didn't know better, you would think the only two things happening in the world last week were a missing girl in Aruba and the Michael Jackson trial. Very sad.

I am back at work today, for the moment anyway. Still viral. Feeling, in fact, like the life force has been sucked from me by some sort of vampiric force.

And so, in the interest of energy saving economy, here are two things:

First, KCRW's alert about the evisceration of public broadcasting.

Second, as you all probably know by now, the House voted to restrict the Patriot Act. Not so much of a stand as some of us would hope, but I guess the longest journey begins with a single step.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Germs and hate mail

Home from work today with that virus/cold thing mentioned below. I slept all day. I mean, we're talking all day. Then we had a real shaker when I was still in gradual wake-up mode. Enough of a shaker to send Nic the cat fleeing in terror for the bathroom. For whatever reason the tub functions as his cat bomb shelter.

So I have little to report right now. Big headache. One of my New Zealand friends, however, sent me a copy of a letter to the editor from this morning's NZ paper (no online link) and it's worth sharing:
US heads for fall
The result of the Jackson trial is further proof that the United States is a nation in decay. If Jackson were a dog in North Canterbury he would be put down. His tastes are bizarre and his demeanor is weird enough to be described as obscene. Yet he walks free.

Only in America could this happen.

This country, in its death throes--brought on faster by electing a president who is barely literate and who has all the charm of a dead ferret--spirals downwards daily. In the United States corruption rules, justice is measured in plea bargaining and Hollywood is where the gods live. This nation that now sees its inevitable fate has turned to Christianity, hoping that God is the way to salvation. Consequently, it has managed to turn Christianity into a freak show controlled by greedy showmen robbing gullible widows of their mite.

North America's turn as the leader of the planet will end in the next 10 years or so, when it will find itself a distant third to China and Europe in world leadership. We should look forward to its demise for the sakes of all our children.
Don Hutchings
I love that "all the charm of a dead ferret" line. Though I suspect dead ferrets may be more charming than living ones. (My apologies to ferret lovers out there. My experience with them has been a little too rodent-ish to endear me to the species.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fighting a cold

Me, that is. I have wanted to believe this is allergies, but I am shifting out of denial today. I blame US Air.

Which is to say, not much will probably happen on the blogging front today unless I rally.

In the meantime, check out the LA Times story on the Downing Street Memo. I honestly believe this sort of coverage wouldn't be happening were it not for the pressure from Blogville. Let's hear it for Shakespeare's Sister!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Photo highlights from DC

L and A and Archives

Barry Flanagan's Thinker on a Rock

Monday, June 13, 2005

And another thing

Read Shakespeare's Sister for the latest memos coming out about Iraq. It's pretty sickening. Stuff like this:
• Memo from Peter Ricketts (Political Director, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) to Jack Straw (UK Foreign Secretary), March 22, 2002

For Iraq, "regime change" does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam. Much better, as you have suggested, to make the objective ending the threat to the international community from Iraqi WMD...
And cup holders...don't forget the cup holders....I'm sorry. I lost myself for a moment. I thought we were selling a car not talking about invading a foreign country. It's so easy to get those two things confused.

I know I am ridiculously--what's the word--not naive, maybe idealistic--ridiculously idealistic sometimes, but is it too much to ask that we don't market war. (For more on marketing and Iraq, see last December's post that talks about a government advisory board report on marketing the "US brand" to Middle Eastern Muslims with gems like this:
How will the U.S. define the role of its "brand" in terms of the needs and wants of key target audiences?
. . .
What images, icons and symbolic elements will help communicate and enrich this "brand" meaning?
Have I mentioned lately that I hate Capitalism?

Patriot act stuff

The ACLU's ED Anthony Romero is a guest blogger this week at TPM Cafe. If you haven't called your senator about the Patriot Act yet, please do. My fellow Californians can reach Diane "capitulation queen" Feinstein here: (202) 224-3841. Because she has become a poster child for the right wing (endorsing Rice, providing a quote for the White House FAQ on the Patriot Act, etc.) her vote is particularly important. The ACLU has a good site devoted to action against the act. I know that the bill of rights is my hobby horse, but even those not obsessed with the trashing of the Constitution will want to take the time to call their Senators. Unless you're a fan of secret searches and incarceration without judicial review, and I'm certain none of you are.

It's all coming clear to me now

The Guardian reported a couple of weeks ago on a hormone that increases trust when sniffed. They say it may help explain romantic relationships and business deals:
Oxytocin plays a role in the bonding between mother and suckling infant; it helps you feel that you "know" someone you have met before, and it plays a powerful role in romantic love and desire.

Now, Swiss scientists report in Nature today, a few molecules in the nostrils will make you more inclined to trust a business partner.
Personally, I'd love to be able to blame my frightful relationship with my ex on a chemical compound but I think the story noted below about love and mental illness may be more relevant.

On the other hand, as The Guardian notes, one fears the impact of these discoveries on the political sphere:

"Some may worry about the prospect that political operators will generously spray the crowd with oxytocin at rallies of their candidates," he adds in Nature.

"The scenario may be rather too close to reality for comfort, but those with such fears should note that current marketing techniques--for political and other products--may well exert their effects through the natural release of molecules such as oxytocin in response to well-crafted stimuli."
Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Do you think they distribute the stuff like bottles of dristan at cabinet meetings and press conferences? It would certainly explain a lot. The reason it feels so much like political gaslight most of the time is that no one is sharing their oxytocin vials with us left wing bloggers. (And what's with the name? It's like an opiate for the dyslexic.)

(Thanks to S for the link.)

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Here is a brief recreation of the highlights of the last 24 hours of my life:

2:00pm EST: We leave for Washington National.

3:30pm EST: I arrive at my gate in plenty of time despite the confluence of road construction and a bad accident on 95. "So far so good," is what I am thinking.

4:15pm EST: The flight leaves for Pittsburgh.

5:30pm EST: I arrive at my gate in Pittsburgh.

5:35pm EST: They close Pittsburgh airport.

5:45, 6:00, 6:15, 6:30: We receive "weather updates." [Note that Pittsburgh is the best place to be delayed as they have free wireless and a complete mall attached to the airport. However, as we are never given more than a 15-minute margin, the leash is too short to do anything but actively wait. I spend most of this time amusing myself by listening to the cluster of young IT guys, who must be on their way to a conference, discuss hardware in the way that other male population groups steal glances at each other in the locker room.]

7:00pm EST: The plane boards

7:00pm to 9:30pm EST: I sit in a stationary plane. Time loses meaning. The only forward progress is the actual rotation of the earth itself. The following events happen in some order during this time period:

The US Air people tell us that because of the thunderstorm, the ground crew was unable to work, so we are waiting for them to unload the luggage from the previous flight and load our luggage. This will take approximately a half hour.

I meet Cedric, the charming five-year-old sitting next to me.

The US Air people tell us that they had to remove some broken seats on the flight and now they are waiting for the person with the log book to return so the repair can get logged.

Cedric and I agree that we hate the US Air people.

We are informed that there is something wrong with the communication system and the technician is on the way.

Cedric tells me his transformer robot is going to suck my blood. I put up no resistance.

The technician is perplexed about how to fix the communication system in a fully boarded plane.

Cedric staves off thunderous boredom by converting the pillowcase into a chapeau.

We lose power and everything becomes pitch black for a moment. The techno-geek behind me explains, "They're rebooting the plane."

The technician realizes he can fix things, but he needs to wait for "a special wrench."

I lose the will to live.

9:30pm EST: The plane begins taxi-ing. We break into applause.

9:45pm: They pass out free headsets to reward us.

10:00pm: They attempt to screen Hitch, but the sound doesn't work.

10:30pm or so: The flight attendant reaches our row with the food cart and explains that they have run out of all food except beef jerky and a Kit Kat bar. I resist the urge to tell her not to worry; I have already chewed my arm off in frustration.

1:45am PST: Finally, I make it home. Nic the cat is at once hysterically joyful to see me and furious that I have been gone. He wakes me at fifteen minute intervals throughout the night, once by biting my shoulder.

8-something am PST: I surrender to the suspicion I have been staving off all night--that a cosmic plot is afoot--when I am awakened by an earthquake.

So now it is 1:00pm. I am still in my pajamas. I had tentative plans for tonight, but I'm thinking I may cancel them. Pulling up the drawbridge is feeling like a really good option for the rest of the day.

UPDATE: As of Monday afternoon, Cedric's mom still has not received her luggage. True story.

Two things

1. Two and half hours is a really long time to sit in a stationary airplane on the tarmack.

2. I'm never flying US Air again.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Once again I say...

...wireless networks are the best airport innovation since the invention of the plane.

Left DC this afternoon. Now, I am in Pittsburgh and sadly, the airport is closed because of hideous thunderstorms. The last time I was in a closed airport was over a decade ago--Logan Airport on my way from Wisconsin to Amsterdam. It was blizzarding in Boston and everything in Logan was closed. Because we were in the international terminal, the airport became a smoking airport for the occasion as the Europeans simply smoked. The Red Cross even came to give us beverages. I am cautiously optimistic this current experience will be less dramatic. Nonetheless, I have Gilligan's Island fears...

Will someone out there take care of my cat if I never return to LA?

Friday, June 10, 2005

What if Eliza Doolittle were black?

Perhaps the most amusing news story here in DC during my stay has been that of the inaudible Metro announcements. When I lived here, we were all used to the periodic announcements that sounded like the grown-ups on Peanuts cartoons: "Wah...wah...wah...Doors open on the left." Not a huge problem. You just kept track of where you were on the line and were careful to get off where you were supposed to. Well, now that the announcement could, in theory, say, "There's a terrorist on your train. Run for your lives," the authorities have determined it's important to be able to actually understand what the Metro workers are saying. The solution? Elocution classes. Thus riders will be told, according to Reuters, that they are approaching "Pent-a-gon" station, not "Pen-a-gon." (Happily, there is no "Libary of Congress" stop as that would present particular challenges methinks.)

Making the story even more laughable is the litany of woes confronting Metro:
The transit authority took a beating in a recent Washington Post series that detailed financial troubles, broken escalators, ground water leaking into train tunnels and other problems. Smith said the elocution classes were set up months ago and were not a response to the newspaper's series.
Good to know as I fail to understand how articulation will help the situation. Knowing there is "wa-ter" in the tunnel, not "war-ter" doesn't make it any drier, yes?

In other Metro news, trains now all sport signs urging riders to pay attention when a fellow passenger leaves a package. If the person will not take the package with him or her even when prompted, one should call the police they advise. The posters attempt to infuse the situation with levity through captions such as, "Don't forget your teeth" (really) with a picture of dentures. All of which pales in comparison to MARC's poster campaign. (Thanks to Chris for the link.)

Just for Andrea

Today's link: The Institute of Draped Clothes

I hear what you're asking: But Why?
Draping clothes is a volatile art. It relies entirely on personal knowledge and creativity. We are not sure, today, how people in antiquity draped their costumes. Many ancient ways of draping saris are forgotten today. If no institution starts research today, the art may soon vanish completely. Draping is a most ancient and widespread form of clothing, used by billions of people all over the word. It is part of mankind's heritage. We must give it its right place and recognition. Draping is fun! Draping is an accessible and rewarding creative endeavour.
Who knew? A volatile art indeed.

One of the ten thousand things I am behind on

Stupid Blogger...Trying now for the second time to confess my procrastination sins. Blogger ate my last post.

So yeah, procrastination is a defect of character I seem to be stuck with, regardless of the number of times I've humbly asked that it be removed. And updating my blogroll seems to be right up there with mopping my kitchen floor for things that I do only when it reaches some sort of tipping point far past that of most folks. At some point not too long after I return home and am not poaching time on my sister's computer, I will do a little clean up. I know there are some of you who are probably wondering, "Is she ever going to link to me?" (Yes, CB, I'm talking to you.)

Also, un-noted here thus far is the fact that I've joined the crowd at the Big Brass Alliance. If somehow you've managed to remain uninformed and uninvolved, go check it out and visit After Downing Street which has links to Conyer's letter and all sorts of other ways you can exert your citizen pressure.

And I'm proud to be part of The Dark Wraith's Bloggirrrlz Gallery.

And yeah, I know the whole site could stand a non-orange revamp. I'm only a half step above a dumb end-user though, so barring some generous offer from a smarter friend, I don't see it happening any time soon.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Needless to say, I've been following the Patriot Act renewal news with some degree of anxiety and disgust. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly already knows where I stand. Today's eyerolling entry will be short (I have shopping to do)--if you want more ranting about civil liberties, just read back in the archives. In the meantime, you can check out the White House fact sheet on the act. I particularly love this paragraph:
Before The Patriot Act, Criminal Investigators Were Separated From Intelligence Officers By A Legal And Bureaucratic Wall. The Patriot Act helped tear down this wall, giving law enforcement and intelligence officers the ability to share information, work together, and bring terrorists to justice.
I just love when the government refers to the Constitution as "a legal and bureaucratic wall."

One might also note that, even in the brief page allotted to the high points, they found space to quote Feinstein:
As Senator Diane Feinstein said, "I have no reported abuses."
I'm thinking there's a special spot in hell for Diane. If you're in doubt see January's entry on her grotesque boosterism of Rice.

Let's hear it for the one-party system. All we need is for Hillary to secure the Dem's nomination to cement it.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The healing power of decadence

L, A, and I spent went to the National Gallery today to see the Lautrec exhibit. I will post more about the day upon my return (when I can upload the photos of Barry Flanagan's Thinker on a Rock), but for now let me just say that I have determined that periodic doses of avant garde decadence may be the key for me to survive our present era. It made me so happy to wander through those rooms of lithographs, paintings, and drawings that by the end I was grinning like an idiot. It was a really good reminder for me that no matter how much power the fundies get, they cannot crush everything. Up with Decadence! I say.

In other news, at least one researcher is entertaining the notion that Jesus died of a blood clot:
An Israeli researcher has challenged the popular belief that Jesus died of blood loss on the cross, saying he probably succumbed to a sometimes fatal disorder now associated with long-haul air travel.
I need to point out that Reuters is the source of that fabulous quote; the article later calls the condition "economy class condition" which I guess is pretty appropriate because I just can't see Jesus in first class myself. MSNBC's version of the story opens with a still from that Gibson epic, a questionable choice at best.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

GM index

By now we've all heard about GM's vivisection. Just to place the job loss (25,000) in context...

$12,798,572: GM CEO Wagoner's 2003 compensation including stock options
$12,477,364: Wagoner's unexercised stock options from previous years
2506 AD: The year the accumulated wages of an average worker would total one year of Wagoner's compensation
3199 AD: The year the accumulated wages of a minimum wage worker would total one year of Wagoner's compensation
54%: The amount pay increased in 2004 for the CEOs of the largest 500 companies
11%: The average decrease in full-time worker pay from 1973 adjusted for inflation
45: The number of workers whose combined pay would equal that of a CEO in 1973
140: The number of workers whose combined pay would equal that of a CEO in 1991
300: The number of workers whose combined pay would equal that of a CEO in 2004

(Stats complements of the AFL-CIO's executive paywatch database and the UAW.)

Putting a new phrase into circulation

Upon watching Brad Pitt discussing the prospect of adopting an African orphan with Diane Sawyer ("It's a beautiful idea, really. Right now I'm just concentrating on down-sizing. We've just got so much crap.") with U2 playing in the background, we realized we need a new phrase: "White Hipsters' Burden."

Pulp fiction cliff's notes

The wonderful Jennifer Shiman of Angry Alien has been busy. She now has Pulp Fiction on her front page, and it looks like we have plenty to look forward to now that she's doing work for Starz (The Big Chill, Scarface, and Night of the Living Dead are among the forthcoming shorts).

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about: Shiman does 30-second encapsulations of famous films, reinacted by animated bunnies. I find them hilarious (I particularly like Jaws and The Shining), though I just played a couple for my brother who kind of stared at me like, "This is the sort of thing that amuses you?" So I guess you have to be a certain kind of person.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Is that the sound of dueling banjos I hear?

Thanks to Chris for pointing out the outrage du jour, Human Events Online's list of the ten most harmful books of the 19th and 20th centuries. A list which features, among others, Das Kapital, The Feminine Mystique, and Dewey's Democracy and Education. Chris has posted his own counter-list, which includes both the OT and NT.

Andrea notes that if you include Human Events' "honorable mentions" the list becomes really a great summer reading list that could easily be mistaken for a Great Books course syllabus.

Conversation snippet

Andrea: Apple is now moving to Intel processors, did you see that?
Me: Really?? Wow, the Mac people must all be wearing black armbands.
Andrea: They're getting into the bathtub with their laptops.


One of the reasons I wanted to come to DC right now is that I have a 16 year-old niece who has been struggling (my extremely euphemistic way of describing how life is going for her right now).

Yesterday morning she left to go on the road with the traveling carnival.

I was happy to be informed that she brought her journal with her. I look forward to the future memoir: My Years as a Teenage Carny. Sometimes that's the best you can hope for from life--good fodder for future art. (I come by it honestly; that's all I'm trying to say.)

Mid-flight realization

Flying from Ft. Lauderdale to DC last night, I was seated next to a couple I can only refer to as "typical Washingtonians." They were clad in those studied casual clothes--currently stylish in a preppy way. The woman's handbag had to have run at least $500, and they were both sucking water out of those nipple bottles that disturb me a great deal. The woman was reading Money magazine (and Body and Shape) and the man was reading Men's Health. I was reading a book on oral history research practices and thinking about how Washington and Wall Street are the only two places on earth where they can even sell copies of Money magazine to women (okay, you can slam me for that comment, but it does seem true to me). In LA, after all, the distinction between money and shape/body is obscure at best.

So yes, they were reading their magazines. Woman began doing the word search on the children's puzzle page of the airline magazine. Man was correcting her work and helping her over her shoulder. "Doesn't that look like an 'o' to you?" I moved on to the NYT crossword puzzle and tried not to feel bitter about the distribution of wealth.

Woman began menu planning, showing Man recipes for low-fat salads (sigh) running in side-bars to the Cabo vacation ads, as they both moved from nipple water to bloody marys with gin.

A snippet of conversation:
Woman: We definitely need to tip the dog sitter since she came through at the last minute.
Man: Hmm.
Woman: And I think we should think about the whole dog thing again.
Man: Hmm?
Woman: I mean, we said we weren't going to let having a dog get in the way of living our lives.
Man: But you want children.
Woman: That's an entirely different matter.

This was the point that I realized people in LA are really no more shallow than people in DC. They are just differently shallow. And they own it better.

Love is the drug....cont.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the news that love affects the brain like drug addiction is getting international attention (thanks to S for the link). Australia's Fairfax Digital opens their story with a reference to Emily Dickinson, a choice that would get my attention, as an American lit PhD, under any circumstances, but one that seems even more striking in the face of this weekend's NYT fruitfly story hook:
When it strikes, romantic love can feel like a kind of madness. Infatuated people act irrationally. They lose concentration. They feel giddy, wretched and wonderful. It is one of life's most powerful experiences. Emily Dickinson described it as "a perfect--paralysing bliss--contented as despair".

For centuries, we've looked to philosophers and poets to parse the mysteries of the human heart. Now it is science's turn.

When Dr Helen Fisher, of Rutgers University in New Jersey, reads the Dickinson poem, she sees passion, certainly. But she also detects signs of high levels of dopamine in the poet's caudate nucleus.
And here, of course, they lose me. God help those scientists with their understanding of Dickinson's caudate nucleus. It must suck to go through the world seeing things through that particular lens.

The story's close?

Because, as Peanuts' Charlie Brown said: "Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."
Kudos to any journalist who manages to open with Dickinson and close with Charlie Brown I say.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I know I should quit smoking

I'm not trying to make allowances for a bad habit that is a social annoyance--I'm really not--but I do want to point out that there's something wrong with security policy that allows you pack an unloaded gun in your luggage but not a lighter. You know?

I am in Fort Lauderdale airport, on my way to DC. Despite a glacially slow connection, the presence of free wireless in the terminal is probably keeping me from potentially actionable choices on my part. I have been here too long. (It's hard to plan a sensible itinerary when you don't know the event schedule until you get there.) It is also a very lucky turn of events that the small child who was singing "I've been working on the railroad" over and over and over and over in a monotone voice while hanging upside down on the chair in front of me (chin toward the ceiling, small almond eyes fixed on me typing) has been removed by some beneficent adult.

I would say something brilliant about the news, but the connection is so slow that trying to access anything worth reading is more frustration than it's worth. I'm sure everything continues to be messed up in predictable ways. I'll read the paper on the flight after which time maybe I'll have something more profound and less whiny to say.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Two random observations from Florida

1. You know it's humid when post-it notes don't really work.

2. It's not really a compliment if you have to say to someone, "That's a compliment." As in, "You remind me so much of Nancy Kulp [who played Jane Hathaway on the Beverly Hillbillies]. That's a compliment" (I am only slightly molified by the fact that she was the first out lesbian on TV.)

Update: In retrospect, I think that the Jane Hathaway comment was sort of like the queer version of "Are you a friend of Bill W?"

Friday, June 03, 2005

96 tears and 96 eyes

I have it on good authority (Mike) that this was the lead paragraph in a front-page NYT story today:
When the genetically altered fruit fly was released into the observation chamber, it did what these breeders par excellence tend to do. It pursued a waiting virgin female. It gently tapped the girl with its leg, played her a song (using wings as instruments) and, only then, dared to lick her--all part of standard fruit fly seduction.
After that sensational, opening, the story goes on to say that the fruitfly in question (the licker not the lickee) was, however, not a boy fruitfly but a girl fruitfly who had been "artificially endowed with a single male-type gene" (the lickee being a non-genetically modified girl fruitfly). And so, the researchers are arguing, sexual orientation should be seen not as a political matter, but a genetic one, since at least in fruitflies, it is the purview of our genetic code.

Putting aside the intellectual angles here (since it is 1:30am in Florida and I have to be up in a few hours), I just want to say that I think it's pretty noteworthy that the Times is telling us about lesbian fruitfly licking on its front page.

Also, let me say it is very humid in Florida.

Okay I have to go to bed. Enough about the playahs of the fruitfly world.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

You can't be neutral on a moving train

I was going to title this post "Why I am not a Clinton Democrat," but that seemed too deceptive since I'm not really a Democrat at all. I mean, I'll vote for whomever they run in 2008. I have commented here more than once that I would have voted for Socks if he ran against W--and frankly, I might prefer Socks to the Other Clinton, but hey, I'll hold my nose and do it.

In any case, here are some excerpts from Clinton's appearance on Larry King yesterday.

On W:
KING: How do you explain the friendship with President Bush?

CLINTON: Well, I just like him. First of all, I've always liked him. I've always admired him. I mean, he gave his life to public service. He comes from a family who did. His father was a distinguished senator from Connecticut.

And so I share an interest in public service. He likes sports. I like sports. He likes people. And I think he's a genuinely good man. I like him. I like his wife. I like his family. I've liked him since I first met him in 1983, two years before you went on the air here.

KING: In fact, you're going to his house.

CLINTON: I am. He invited me to come up to Kennebunkport where I have not been for 22 years.

KING: Beautiful.

CLINTON: And to play golf with him and ride in his boat. And I'm looking forward to it.
He likes sports--I like sports??? Why am I reminded of that fictitious Kerry moment "Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?"

On Felt/Deep Throat:

KING: What do you make of the Mark Felt story? Is he an American hero?

CLINTON: I think he did a good thing. And I think it's -- it was an unusual circumstance. I think Felt believed that there was the chance that this whole thing would be covered up. Ordinarily, I think a law enforcement official shouldn't be leaking to the press because you should let criminal action take its course.

When he did that, he obviously believed there was a chance that the thing would be covered up. And there was some evidence -- we now know that there was also a problem with trying to use the FBI, and the IRS, and other agencies of the federal government for political purposes back then. So there's some reason to believe he was right.

I don't think that -- he always felt ambivalent about it, apparently. And I think that's good. Because, on balance, you don't want law enforcement officials leaking to the press, even the truth, much less some vendetta or something that's not true. But under these circumstances, I think he did the right thing.
So "back then" when federal agencies were used for political purposes, it might be okay to leak crimes to the press, as long as you feel guilty for it. Let me say, it is difficult to type with my eyes rolling to the back of my head this way.

On Hillary's propensity to stick by her convictions:
CLINTON: . . . You just look at her whole life. There's a remarkable consistency in her life. She decides what she believes. She'll change her mind, if the evidence warrants it. I mean, she's not a dunderhead or any -- you know, she's not...

KING: She was a Goldwater Republican.

CLINTON: Yes, but -- she was a Goldwater Republican. And Hillary used to joke with me that Goldwater carried her hometown 3 to 1 and the others thought he was too liberal where she grew up. But you know, and we liked Barry Goldwater a lot. We went to see him when he was ill in Arizona before he passed away.

But she has always been somebody who was just convicted. I mean, she lives by a conviction. And...

KING: Stays the course?

CLINTON: She stays the course, you know?
We liked Goldwater??? We liked Barry Goldwater a lot??? Hello? Do we even have a Democratic Party anymore?

The Mister Rogers moment:

CLINTON: I mean, you know, this idea that somebody we disagree with on economic or social policy or something we have to turn into some kind of ogre or demon, I think, is a mistake. I mean, it's like telling the American people or half the American people that don't agree with you they're all fools. That's just not true.

Most of the people I've known in politics, by the way, in this country and in other countries, before I became president and when I was in the White House, most of them have been good people. They'd been smart, hard-working, well-motivated, and they pretty well did what they believed was right.
He later mentions "adoring" Billy Graham because, "Whether you agree or disagree with everything, he is a man who lives his faith," and respecting Karl Rove because "he's a good grassroots politician." I need to cut in here and state a fact which is so flamingly obvious there should be no need to waste the energy typing it, and yet: Being a person of conviction doesn't make you admirable unless your convictions are admirable. Duh, right?

On the war du jour:
KING: You supported the president when he went into Iraq. Do you still support him?

CLINTON: Yes, I felt, as I said then, I felt that we should have let the U.N. inspectors finish their job. But once he made the decision to go forward, I thought all Americans should have said, well, we're in this thing now. We've got to back our troops and we've got to hope that the enterprise succeeds because there's no question that Saddam was a bad guy. The Iraqis would be better off without him, if we can build a coherent country here.
What to say?

All day I have been thinking off and on about what it must be like to live somewhere that 30 to 40 people die every day.

In sum, the transcript speaks to an ethical shallowness--a man for whom "liking" people is more important than standing for principle. Because if we can all just get together over a good game of golf, everything's going to be okay. Is it wrong for me to say that I think Clinton really, really needs alanon or acoa? I thought that through his presidency. He is like the coda poster child.

Anyway, I am going back to Woodward and Bernstein on Larry King. At least they aren't talking about adoring Billy Graham.

Why I would make a lousy Buddhist

Even were I able to lay to rest my struggle with the whole "desire is the root of all suffering" thing, I would make a lousy Buddhist. This is what I'm thinking about as I prepare to leave tomorrow.

Here's how it goes for me: Okay, it's past the first of the month, so I have to pay rent. But of course, to do that, I have to balance my checkbook. And then there are those other bills that are late... and the trash to take out... and I have to call the catsitter...

And then the work things: Do I have the projector? Does it work okay with my laptop? Did the boxes make it to the hotel? And those last minute adjustments to the session profiles--they need doing...

Do I have enough cat food? Did I remember to pack my coffee and filters? Do I have time to vacuum my apartment? For that matter, I should probably do those twelve things I've been putting off for six months. Because even though they've been on my to-do list for six months, they really can't wait the eleven days I'll be gone.

Are you getting the picture? It's tough to be me--that's what I'm trying to say. Be grateful you don't have to carry my brain around in your cranium. You'd be an insomniac too.

And here's the really ironic thing: I'm actually a great spontaneous traveler. I've had enough traveling mishaps (and fiascos) that I don't stress much at all once I've locked my apartment door behind me. There's little that a credit card and a measure of patience can't extricate me from, I know this.

Anyway, so I'm going to Florida tomorrow for work, and then from there to DC and possibly NYC (if I'm feeling recharged enough and it's not pouring--yes, I know; I've been completely corrupted by LA). I'll be online sporadically and will post when possible, but will be spending most of my time interacting face-to-face in the fleshly world. If I go to the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit or the National Museum of the American Indian, I promise to let you all know how they were.

(And if I go to New York, I'll post a picture the shoes I will inevitably buy on 8th Street.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chutzpah of the satanic variety

Rumsfeld on the Amnesty report:
No force in the world has done more to liberate people that they have never met than the men and women of the United States military. Indeed, that's why the recent allegation that the US military is running a gulag at Guantanamo Bay is so reprehensible.

. . .

Oh my goodness, there's so much transparency in Gitmo and so much oversight. There have been so many reforms instituted in the Department of Defense, and the oversight and the attention that's given to what's taking place at Gitmo is extensive. And the implication that it's a gulag is what's wrong -- not what's going on at Gitmo.
Well that's a relief. I feel better. Don't you feel better?

I may have to buy this

From Cafepress, of course

This modern world very, very funny this week.

And the blog is rocking too
Geez. The Bush folks sure are pissed about Amnesty International's use of the word "gulag", huh? Perhaps Amnesty should just clarify things a bit by eschewing comparisons to the Soviet Union and making it clear that when they say "gulags", they simply meant "secret prisons in which innocent people have been tortured to death".