Tuesday, November 15, 2005

in case you missed it

John Nichol's op-ed on O'Reilly's "thing" against San Francisco, and such...


I really miss optimism.

I think it's partly a factor of age; over time, you see a lot of failures. They accumulate in your mind. Now, almost nothing seems likely to succeed.

I've been attending a software conference this week, and it just seems so 90's to me. Except that, in the 90's, it really was true. We were going to solve problems, do great things for business, advance our profession, be heroes.

But that bubble burst, along with a lot of other bursting things. Now here we are, 2005, it's getting harder to muster that kind of enthusiasm. Now I just want to get the budget passed, keep my projects from self-destructing, and try to ignore the ignorance and poor decision making I see around me.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

ephemera of the 40's & 50's

Cool site, Ephemera Now. Ephemera from the 40's and 50's, mostly advertising.

Is it just me or does she seem a little "twisted"?

Also from this site, I think I've found the perfect main course for the Dr-Pepper-Aspic "appetizer"!:

"Ham Shortcakes with Pea Sauce" Yummy!

What a nightmare. It's no wonder the kids started turning to drugs in the sixties.

oh and here's another.... "Peas in Potato Boats"...

Dear GOD what was up with the peas?


<<<< American Girl Dolls --- the new face of Angry Lesbian Abortionists!

Geez what a twisted organization the American Family Association appears to be. They came to my attention because of their recent call to boycott American Girl dolls for that company's association with the 140-year old pro-girl organization Girls, Inc.

I try not to think too much about organizations such as AFA because their idiocy hurts my brain. Their characterization of Girls Inc as pro-lesbian, pro-abortion is just the kind of fascist extremism we've come to expect from the maleficent religious right. It's truly painful to think how many people who would've ended up decent, honest and righteous instead fall prey to AFA's depraved and soulless rhetoric, and end up wasting their lives in a mire of voyeuristic hate mongering and intolerance.

So as I said, I just try not to think too much about it.

But curiosity got the better of me today.

Search on "torture" at their site and OMG, they cannot TELL you enough about Yahoo. Seems, um, Yahoo allowed SM/BD groups to organize through their online community service. Seems someone at AFA found out about this ---- hmmm, I wonder how?

The real torture of real prisoners is far less of a concern for these christians. Not a single comment, article, headline, news release anywhere on their site --- save for one obscure case where an inmate in China was purportedly beaten for converting other prisoners to Christianity. At least they reported that. It seems the torture of muslims in american prisons, however, is A-OK with these kind folks, cause there was nary a word about it.

Their rabid anti-gay position can only be understood if you believe that homosexuals "choose" homosexuality --- or are somehow "forced" into it --- and the only people who could have come up with that theory are latent homosexuals who are "choosing" heterosexuality, unhappily at that.

In fact, their panicked response to anything having to do with sex belies their fundamental problem: they are just not getting any.

Each one of these fools needs to get with the partner of their choice, be it spouse, lover, or inanimate object, and treat themselves to a long and luxurious fuck. Maybe then things would seem right with the world again.

But imagine having to go home to old "Sue" here. Bet sleeping with her is a real treat.

And the whole pornography thing anyway. That's a whole 'nother thing. I wish women would just RELAX and CALM DOWN about it. For crying out loud, you know? The amount of total hysteria, of tears and ruined evenings generated by something so innocuous... sometimes I really think women have just lost their minds.

My advice on porn: It's like PMS. Men don't like PMS but they learn to live with it. When you get a woman, there's a good chance she's bringing along a little PMS. When you get a man, be prepared for a little porn to come along with him, like it or not. Best get used to it. It's really not so bad.

a frog?! c'mon!

I took the cute animal quiz, and well, let's just say I'm less than pleased with my results.

You Are A: Frog!

froggyIndependent yet still part of a large community, frogs are unique creatures known for their distinctive sound and ability to hop. As a frog, you spend your days sitting on lily pads or climbing trees, searching for delicious insects to eat. While there are some frogs that aren't exactly cute, you are certainly not one of those!

You were almost a: Duck or a Mouse
You are least like a: Groundhog or a PuppyCute Animal Test!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

dream catcher

At 2.4km long, and 270m above the river at its highest point, the Millau viaduct (Millau, France) spans a 2km valley in the Massif Central mountain range and forms the final link in the A75 highway from Paris to Barcelona. Despite its huge length, journey time over the structure is expected to be just one minute.

Surprisingly, the design for this bridge came directly from my own personal recurring nightmare.

More pics from The Guardian.

Friday, October 21, 2005

excuses excuses

Been very busy lately; not much time or energy left for posting.

For one thing, the transmission went on my 2002 Buick Regal with 40,000 miles on it, spinning off a flurry of daily-life aggravations which finally culminated in the purchase of a 2005 Pontiac Vibe:

which has so far been quite a bit of fun, but may represent my last outing with GM if I don't have better luck this time. Hovering around 30 mpg, with a mix of city and highway commuting in case you are wondering.

Then, I have been quite exhausted from skipping gleefully down hallways and dancing in the street as I contemplate the imminent unraveling of the Bushcabal and the neocon doomsday machine that appears to be unfolding at long last, before our very eyes.

If only. If only I could be happy about it. It's like being happy to be rid of a toothache, but then realizing that half your teeth are gone. Or something like that.

Hard to be happy when you consider the big stinking pile of deficit, deceit and bad karma they will be leaving behind. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

worst. recipe. ever.

There might be a more disgusting recipe out there, but this one is just a bad idea; from concept through execution.

Dr. Pepper, aspic, and green olives. A bad idea. Very Bad.

From the Gallery of Regrettable Foods.

Warning: not for the easily nauseated.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

the neocon war on poverty

Are the neocons publicly sprouting a conscience? Hmm. When you listen to Bush (and the first lady) speaking about poverty, it's kind of embarrassing, really. His oblivion seems pubescent, somehow. Watching him gives me an uncomfortable feeling, like watching a kid go through puberty.

Assuming Bush is sincere about this --- a wild assumption I know --- you might be wondering what the neocon war on poverty will be like. Well probably a lot like their "war on terrorism." Ignoring common sense and any sound advice, fighting in the wrong place at the wrong time with too little resources and hopelessly mucking everything up.

Maybe they will start fighting poverty by attacking it at the source: taxes on the rich. Once they destroy the poverty cells among the wealthiest, the world will be a richer place for all of us.

Cleverly, they will ignore any tried and true methods. Just listen to this fellow, vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, as he tips their collective hand: "We all want to solve poverty," says Donald Devine. "The question is, will we do it the way we did it in 1932, or have we learned something since then?"

Hmmmm, yeah. Let's NOT do it in a way we know will work. Let's try something different that WON'T work, but won't make a single wealthy person give up a single cent because that would be AWFUL.

We've learned something all right. We've learned that when a neocon asks a question like that, he means "we're not doing anything we don't want to do. So THERE! bleah."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


If you haven't been here yet, gee, you just gotta see it to believe it.
Museum of Bad Art

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

the L word...

Libertarian: Just another word for "dick".

(Thanks to the Viscount for the inspiration.)

Monday, September 12, 2005

most distant explosion ever

Most Distant Explosion Detected, Smashes Previous Record

Scientists detected the burst using NASA's Swift satellite. Several ground-based telescopes, including the international Southern Observatory for Astrophysical Research (SOAR) in Chile, measured the astounding distance as the embers faded.

"This is uncharted territory," said Dr. Daniel Reichart, University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, who spearheaded the distance measurement. "This burst smashes the old distance record by 500 million light-years. We are finally starting to see the remnants of some of the oldest objects in the Universe," he added.

Plus, NASA has figured out you gotta have cool graphics or no one will pay attention, no matter what you discover.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

obligatory 9/11 post

I feel obligated to do a 9/11 post, but I find I really don't have much I want to say.

In the last four years, our leadership has championed the erosion of our freedom, and squandered our collective surplus so that we are again plunged deeply into deficit, so deeply that we will probably never recover in my lifetime.

This same "leadership" has found ever new and meanspirited ways to divide us one against the other, until, in families, neighborhoods, and workplaces across the country, we find fellow Americans barely able to tolerate one another, if at all.

We see our leaders in league with an ever more extreme and shrill evangelical right who seem hell bent on destroying the very foundation of this great country, a foundation built solidly on the separation of church and state. Indeed, it is ever more clear and overt that their ultimate goal is to change this country into a theocracy, where religion is mandated by the state.

We find our government agencies have become so undermined, neglected and mismanaged that we are unable to respond in an effective manner to the chaos in New Orleans, or presumably anywhere else.

We've seen thousands of our own, and a hundred thousand Iraqis, die in a war, the point of which now appears to be simple bloodlust and greed.

We've seen the richer grow a great deal richer, while more and more Americans fall into poverty everyday. All the while, there is the specter of Bush, with a miserly grin, salivating over the jackpot--- social security. Make no mistake, social security reform is about opening up this huge pot of money, saved by and for the poor and middle class, to the talons of the richest of the rich.

I mean, it's just depressing. Could Osama have done any better, in his wildest dreams?

We have this lie going on, that somehow Bush showed "great leadership" after 9/11. He did not. He looked to any objective observer like a deer in the headlights just after the attack. And all he did after that was the absolute bare minimum of making a show of going down to the site, in an already emotionally charged atmosphere, and talking through a bullhorn. He never seemed to get his act together at all. He never came up with a plan. He never fixed any of the problems. Then he proceeded to pump that tragedy for every ounce of political gain he could, repeating it like a mantra to lull (or shame?) the masses into submission.

I admit I can't stand the guy. Rightwingers like to say "You just hate Bush, that's YOUR problem". Well heck, did they ever stop to think WHY? I wouldn't hate him if he wasn't a selfish, spoiled, meanspirited, shortsighted, anti-intellectual, arrogant, avaricious, prig and life-long loser who wouldn't cross the street to save the likes of me if I were drowning. Left to his own devices, without his daddy's money, that guy would be lucky to have a job frying hashbrowns at the nearby Waffle House.

So what am I going to say that you couldn't read on a thousand other blogs out there across the country today, or last week, or last year? Nothing.

Since I don't have anything nice to say, I should probably just shut up.


Photorealistic terrain generator (via Metafilter). I created this terrain in about 10 minutes, including install time for the software. This is just the kind of thing on which I can waste a lot of time...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

essay on greed and ambition

For me, the defining moment of the Reagan years came in 1986 when Ivan Boesky gave his infamous speech on the positive aspects of greed at the University of California, during which he said "I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".

When I heard that, it made me feel sick. I wasn't sure exactly why, other than the obvious lack of ethical sensibility it showed. It made me feel deeply, personally offended; and it made me vaguely fear the future.

Years later, I have a better understanding of the problem. It seems the prime legacy of the Reagan years was to confuse the definitions of "ambition" and "greed" in popular culture. And now, the neocon movement defends "greed" as if it were ambition.

GREED is not the same as AMBITION:

Ambition: a cherished desire; "his ambition is to own his own business"; a strong drive for success

Greed: excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially more material wealth) than one needs or deserves; avarice: reprehensible acquisitiveness; insatiable desire for wealth (personified as one of the deadly sins)

"Ambition" is healthy. You can be "ambitious" and still feel good about yourself.

Ambition is a constructive force. It is part of what defines "greatness". It builds companies, expands the economy, creates jobs, increases wealth for others as well as the ambitious. It is the pursuit of an idea, and is driven by the imagination. The success or failure of the ambitious lies mainly in their own energy, strength and ingenuity.

Sometimes ambition wears an ugly, or at least unseemly, face, as the ambitious may do things that are harsh or unpopular. This seems to be where people get confused. The ambitious often must make difficult decisions, and sometimes can afford little indulgence for compassion or loyalty. Sometimes they even do things which are clearly unethical. The end result however, is sometimes great achievement.

Henry Ford was ambitious. Wendy's founder Dave Thomas was ambitious. Mary Kay Ash was ambitious, as was Martha Stewart, like her or not. All achieved their wealth through the pursuit of a vision.

But greed --- oh greed is a different thing entirely.

Greed is the prostitute of ambition.

Greed is the pursuit of wealth without vision, without imagination. Greed is a destructive force. Greed in a family can rip it apart. Greed in a corporation drives it into ruin. Greed in leadership can turn democracy into tyranny.

The success of the greedy depends on the indecencies they are willing to commit. How readily they cheat and steal, and how little they are willing to leave for others. Greed is quick and savage and does not consider the future, and therefore has little need of the ethics required to build relationships and institutions.

In fact, greed almost never builds anything, but it can fail spectacularly. Enron, of course, is the poster child of greed. But there are many lesser known corporations whose executives are well versed in the practice of greed, and they are stealing our futures, on scales large and small, by taking more than they deserve, and giving nothing back --- not vision, not leadership, not growth.

If you are an American wage earner, you have to worry that your company may be one of them. You have virtually no protection from these greedy, save for that provided by your government in laws and regulations created to favor ambition over greed.

The problem is, our current administration appears to be greedy, and not merely ambitious. With government on their side, the greedy can practice avarice overtly. Without the protection of our government, we are naked and exposed to any indecency they wish to commit.

A society led by the greedy cannot sustain itself for long.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

a day in the life

Taken from the Mercury-bound Messenger spacecraft, here is one rotation of the earth, over one 24-hour period.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


One of my all-time favorite vacations was spent in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Most people wouldn't guess that about me.

I do not gamble --- at all. I don't even play the lottery. It is, to me, an unconscionable waste of both time and money. On top of that, I don't care much for the heat, or the beach, or the Southern drawl... Really, Biloxi seemed like about the last place on earth I would enjoy.

But it was summertime, and my husband was teaching a software class at one of the casinos, Isle of Capri, in Biloxi. He would be staying in the casino hotel for a week. My kids were away, and I had the vacation time, so I decided to go with him, rather on lark, as they say.

So I spent a week in Biloxi, on my own all day long, dinners and evenings with my husband. For me, just having the alone time was novel enough to begin with, and something I never can seem to get enough of.

The casinos were situated on barges lining the coastline, all along the one main road, route 90, which ran the length of the beach. There were trolley-style busses, that ran at regular intervals up and down the stretch, but I found I could also pretty much walk a good part of it, in a half hour or so.

The weather that week was warm but not brutally so; skies were clear, every day I think.

Each morning that week I got up, and started the day searching for a drinkable cup of coffee. The coffee was bad. Uniformly bad. I started with room service the first morning: Bad. Tasted like it came from an old boot. Then the next day I tried the hotel restaurant, thinking maybe it would be fresher or something. Not. Other days I wandered down the street to nearby hotels; always the same, and strangely, the same flavor of boot. One morning I even tried the French restaurant down the street at the Beau Rivage, the grandest resort on the stretch. I was certain the coffee there would be great. It was such a pretty restaurant, well decorated, yellow tablecloths and fresh flowers, nice waiters. But no, more eau de old boot. It tasted exactly the same as every other cup of coffee I’d had the whole week. Somehow, instead of being annoyed, it struck me as extremely funny.

I walked through almost every casino there, by myself. Sometimes I would take a break, and stop and look at the people gambling; the gamblers never noticed. But the casino-watchers watched me, I knew, it was kind of funny. I must have seemed out of place.

Certain times of the day, busses would roll in, bringing gamblers. Seems like a lot of them were in wheel-chairs. Seems like a lot of them smoked. Some of them I would see at the same slot machine, morning and evening. It was easy to imagine that they didn't really have the money to spend, a lot of them. I never talked to any of them.

Some afternoons I spent at the hotel pool with a margarita or two. I found the other hotel guests quite amusing. I remember there was a big cigar-smoking mom. And a young couple that I can only describe as hillbilly-esque, and I don't necessarily mean that in a nice way. They probably didn't think much of me either. But I got a tan, one of the few times in my life.

But beyond the casinos, there was more to Biloxi. There was a walkway between the beach and the main road, which I walked every day. They had a small aquarium, in which I spent an afternoon. I love aquariums, and enjoyed this one a lot, partly because I hadn’t expected it to be there. It seemed out of place next to the neon casino signs and hotels. It seemed like an earnest albeit less-than-successful attempt to bring a little science to the shoreline there.

One evening we took a dinner cruise. At 6 pm we boarded a paddle boat, which rode about 30 guests out a short distance from shore, where we enjoyed a very nice dinner, well prepared and presented. I remember the dining room had polished hardwood floors, and there was a jazz ensemble playing, and it was a beautiful evening. At dusk, we walked to the outside deck and watched the lights appear on the shore line.

One of the highlights for me was visiting Beauvoir, Jefferson Davis's home in Biloxi. I spent a whole day there. It was such an interesting historical site; the southern "bayou" architecture, a single story but raised up from the ground. There were historic maps and paintings, furniture, outbuildings, gardens, a little museum where I learned a lot about Jefferson Davis that I'd have never known.

(His first wife, Sarah Knox, was the daughter of President Zachary Taylor. They were evidently quite madly in love --- they eloped; but tragically, after three months of marriage, they both contracted malaria; when he came out of his fever, she was dead. Also, I learned that he was accused of posing as a woman to evade Yankee capture --- an accusation that was disputed. Davis's story was that in the heat of the moment, he'd mistakenly taken his wife's cloak instead of his own.)

On the last day, we checked out of the hotel and walked through the shopping section of the casino next door, and lo and behold, there was a Cinnabon, which somehow I'd missed previously. We got our last cup of coffee in Biloxi, and finally hit the java jackpot. It actually tasted like coffee.

I came away with a real fondness for the place. It wasn’t meant for people like me, so I saw it from a different angle. It seemed endearing in its fond desire to become a gambling city. It didn’t seem like it could ever quite pull it off. The rule of having to put all casinos on barges seemed an absurd limitation to me. But nevertheless, they did it. I don’t think I would have tried, personally.

After Katrina, I checked the web sites of Mississippi news stations to find out how the place fared. It was horrible to see the pictures; the casinos washed up on the shore, what awful devastation. People’s lives and livelihoods wrecked, some beyond repair. I was immensely saddened.

I searched for news on Beauvoir, but didn’t find much, until finally last night I found this:

Beauvoir was protected from high waters from its position on top of an incline, and about 65 percent of the main house still stands. The building has lost its front porch and columns, along with part of the first-floor library.

"We haven't lost it. The fact it's still standing is great news," said Waite Rawls, executive director of the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va. "It will be rebuilt. It's just a question of money."

I expect they’ll get the money. Whatever else about the South I might not like, they do love their history.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.
Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt.
Give the world your best anyway.

Meditations From A Simple Path
~ by Mother Teresa~

Just thought a few words of tolerence might sound good right now.

Monday, September 05, 2005

monotheism: maybe not such a good idea

I remember late in elementary school, we learned about Greek and Roman mythology. One boy in the class asked if people "really believed" in Zeus and Apollo. When the teacher answered "Some did," the class giggled about "how stupid" people were.

Well, the kids I went to school with were mostly catholics and methodists, I knew. Good little atheist that I was, I remember thinking to myself, "how is this that much different than what you believe?"

But now I think, maybe the Greeks and Romans were on to something.

Because monotheism just doesn't work all that well. Not as an explanation for why the world is the way it is, anyway. It would be much easier to explain if there were, like, TWO gods at least.

Then we could have one god creating homosexuals to piss the other one off. The second god could then retaliate by sending hurricanes to the first god's favorite cities. One god could lure the other's high priests into molesting children, then for vengeance the second could could stir up some of his followers to fly planes into god one's big buildings...

Of course we have the notion of "satan", but that's not very satisfying, logically. Because if god is supposed to be all powerful, there's just no way he would let that s.o.b. loose around the planet. A child of six could figure that out! No, the more logical way to make the idea of god "work" is to have a couple of gods, equally powerful, that don't get along all that well.

After all, we have more than one religion, whose followers don't get along that well, all of whom insist that their god is REAL. Heck, if one could be real, why couldn't they ALL be real? If we could just accept that, maybe we could find peace.

objective proof that the news is less funny than it used to be

NewZoid cleverly cuts up headlines, then reassembles them in random, sometimes interesting, and occasionally intelligible ways. Here are some ripped --- and sewn back up again --- from today's headlines:


1-Stones Killed Near Kandahar
2-Domino 'Shaken' By File-sharing Ruling
3-Kazaa 'Want Clarke To Lead Tories'
4-Kenya Constitution Return To New Orlean
5-Nepal Government Expected In Debate
6-UPDATE - Putin Frees Gig Thrills Rome
7-Afghan Rebels Killed In Iraq
8-Alps Cable Car Crash Assaults On CDs'
9-Criminal Soldiers 'Must Crash On Baghdad Ministry
10-Bush Halts Paltrow Venice Date
11-Countries Defend UK Katrina Response
12-Bjork Unites For Hurricane Relief
13-Three Held Over Truce
14-Indonesia Jet Leaves Army'
15-Trial For Saddam Hussein Meeting Today On Take-off
16-Yen Advances; Polls Hang In Balance As Italy Government Bickers
17-Has Katrina Shaking Gaza City
18-Bush Returns To See City Damage
19-Blake Has Lung Cancer
20-Indonesian Plane Accused Over Anthony Axe Murder

I've been visiting this site now and again since '02. It's always particuarly good when a couple of scandals hit the headlines.

You can go back in time and run the thing for some past date. I ran it for Feb 4. 02, picking a date at random, and it came up with some gems; I can't remember what news stories going at the time would have generated these, though.

1- U.S. Officials Filing Suit Over Wild Carnival Urination
2- Israel Dismisses Reports Linking It to Al Qaeda
3- Panty Thief Wowing Bigwigs at War Crimes Trial
4- Angry Hippo Shakes Southern Spain
5- Nigeria on Alert for Reprisal Killings After Jellyfish Sting
6- Angry Hippo Slams Schwarzenegger Film
7- Detained Militant Putting 1,200 Snow Shovelers on Freedom Day
8- Hong Kongers Show Signs of Gay Parents
9- Backstreet Boy Wins Super Bowl on Treatment
10- Kangaroo to Have Risky Sex
11- Germans Skipped From Toronto Fire
12- Deadly Dengue Epidemic Says She's Ready for 3rd Weekend
13- Kangaroo Paying on Dates: Women Love It, Men Less Sure
14- Kangaroo to Attend Academy Awards
15- Rudy Giuliani Can Reduce Post-Natal Depression
16- Afghan Factions Overshadow Super Bowl Ads
17- MTV Asia Causes Storm by Attacking Left
18- Coroner Unveils Budget; Democrats Go on Terror Fear
19- Gates Cropping Could Create Superweed
20- Anthrax at FCC Kill Five Palestinian Militants in Once-A-Day Tablet

Hmmm. I think anyone would agree that the '02 headlines were much funnier when spliced together randomly. It seems maybe the news just isn't as funny now as it was in '02.

It seemed bad at the time, I think.

responsible forestry

I've been skimping on the "good news" lately, mostly because it's so hard to find any. But here is something I came across today that seems to qualify. From a WWF Press Release applauding the 100-year old Potlatch Corporation for its commitment to responsible forestry.

World Wildlife Fund applauds Potlatch Corporation for being a leader in responsible forest management in the U.S. With today's announcement that all 1.5 million acres of Potlatch forest land in Arkansas, Idaho, and Minnesota are now certified to the rigorous standards of the Forest Stewardship Council -- along with FSC certification for most of its processing facilities...

The Potlatch Corporation was founded in 1903 at Potlatch, Idaho. It is a diversified forest products company with timberlands in Arkansas, Idaho and Minnesota totaling more than 1.5 million acres. Products include lumber and panels (plywood and particleboard), bleached pulp, bleached paperboard and consumer tissue products.

Of course this kind of processing is very dirty and environmentally disasterous. Still, few of us are willing to give up the kinds of products they provide. Programs such as this hope to strike a compromise that we all can live with.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

lucky duckies

Washington Post article on why they couldn't leave.

"We had one vehicle. A truck. I wanted my family to be together. They all couldn't fit in the truck. We had to decide on leaving family members -- or staying."

The article pretty well sums up the answer to the question "Who are these lucky duckies?", now doesn't it?

a lesson in poverty

One of the things I saw on the boards yesterday was a lot of people who blamed the victims of Katrina, saying the victims should have left when they knew the storm was coming. They didn't believe there could be so many people without cars.

I was shocked to see how many people were completely ignorant of the problems of being poor.

How did this come to be? How did we come to be a nation of citizens ignorant of and "discompassionate" toward poverty? Though I feel it requires more than a few blog pages to fully describe, my analysis goes something like this:

Where We Went Wrong

Since the 1930's, the policies of Roosevelt brought relative wealth to the entire society, so that we had very little of the desperately, dependently poor who mark the visible "bottom" for the rest of us. The poor that do exist, we rarely see; we no longer fear becoming one of them. Fear of becoming poor has ceased to be a motivator; now we see only the desire to become rich as motivation.

Then, in the last several decades, two income families, along with the advent of cheap available birth control, changed families and parenting fundamentally --- and not for the better.

The Motherhood Wars

Guilt throws a huge monkey wrench into mothering, and working women with young children invariably feel guilty and defensive about their choices. I think we underestimate the power of those feelings, and the long term effects. It's hard to raise children with the firmness and the evenness it requires when you feel anxious and guilty; and with smaller families, it became easier for such parents to spoil children with too much of the wrong kind of attention.

Eventually, stay-at-home moms began to feel inferior, seeing the relative material wealth of the two-income home. Now it was they who came to feel guilty and defensive about their choices. Some of them resolved to become the BEST MOTHER EVER so as to justify their existence; resulting once again in spoiled children.

Now, I'm a feminist and I believe in choices for women --- to stay home and to work being equally honorable --- and, of course I believe in birth control. In fact, I believe so strongly that I don't think women need to be apologetic about it. They just need to learn better parenting, whether they work in or out of the home.

As Benjamin Franklin said:

Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.

A tall order for a harried working mom, who worries that little Jenny might be missing her too much during the day.

Opportunity Knocks

A couple of decades like this go by, and the stage is set. Enter Reagan and Limbaugh. They both appealed to the spoiled children in us. Letting us believe that it's all right to be rich and self-absorbed. Making it seem that only sissies care about other people. That it wasn't manly to have compassion. Appealing to the lowest in us, appealing to our greed, our bigotry, our self-righteousness. Giving us the quick and easy answers we crave, instead of the thoughtful insight to complex problems that we needed and that real leadership would have provided.

The Limbaugh Addiction

Eventually, Limbaugh found that he could lie to us, fool us, even expose himself as a complete fraud, but it wouldn't matter. His followers would defend him. Why? Because they couldn't give up their smelly little security blanket: the notion that it isn't worthwhile to do the hard work of high character, so they don't need to try. It felt good for his listeners to know that, no matter how low and selfish their own motivations were, at least they weren’t liberals, because self-sacrifice was just for losers.

Of course Rush wasn't alone for long; his success was quickly noted and mimicked by others. Even so-called clergy, who once had to at least feign some kind of brotherly concern for others, became bold in abandoning the true tenants of high morality for the catch phrases and false logic that allow the weak and morally lazy to feel good about being weak and morally lazy. Boy it's easy to find followers then.

Surprisingly, many in the lower class embraced this way of thinking, that the poor deserve to be poor and the rich deserve to be rich, that only the rich work hard enough to be rich, that taxes are just a handout, that the poor should be left to fend for themselves.

It was a stroke of genius, really. How did Rush manage to do this, to get the poor to go along with this? First, there was the bullying: the accusations that if you were poor, and you believed in taxation, then you were a lazy scum just looking for a handout. Second, he gave them a focal point for their anger and frustration, and a cause for their poverty --- Liberals and Minorities and the Poor Scum Just Looking for a Handout. Now they too had someone to deride, someone to look down upon, and it was very satisfying.

Those kinds of feelings become a sort of addiction. Once we fall into it, letting ourselves be corrupted in this manner, it's really hard to face our bad behavior, our immorality. We get angrier and more derisive and we don't even know why.

What Now?

So now, here we are. What happens next?

Though I don’t like to think about it, I believe the only way back for us, as for many addicts, is to hit rock-bottom. When people begin to see utter, abject poverty close up, they will begin to understand what is wrong with the package they've been sold.

Katrina provided snapshot of it for the whole country. But somehow I fear this lesson in poverty has just begun.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

boy do I feel safer now!

This week, the strength and leadership of the Bush Administration has really shone through! We can truly see their deep and abiding commitment to protecting Americans. Money well spent; now we see the benefit of all the hard work and money spent on our great Department of Homeland Security, as they stand prepared, strong and ready to protect and aid Americans in the event of disaster.

I just feel so much better, knowing that our great leader has done all that he could in the years since 9/11 to prepare this country for a major catastrophic event. All Americans can sleep easier now, knowing that Bush's exemplary Department of Homeland security, stands at the ready, like a knight in shining armor, to save us all in a time of need!

what's wrong with this picture

I mean it, really, what is wrong with this picture? Something about it really creeps me out. Presumably it shows their reaction to the living cesspool in New Orleans. But they look like figures in a wax museum or something... I don't know.

This huge horrid disaster, and he still can't quite get that smirk off of his face. Now I don't really think that he's smirking; it's just that his derisive nature shows through in a sort of permanent smirk that seems to say "None of this is about me. I'm better than you."

Thursday, September 01, 2005


We've all been waiting for the great unraveling... It's been like a Hitchcock film.

You see the clues, the suspense builds. There were the missing WMD (maybe this is it), the yellowcake (maybe this is it), the election scandals (maybe this is it), the Plame affair (maybe this is it), the on-going gut-wrenching blood bath in Iraq (surely this is it) ...

But the New Orleans debacle --- this really could be it.

Those of us who have been watching know that the Bush house of cards is not sustainable. A foundation of lies washes away in troubled waters. Can't be helped.

I wonder how many remember this New Orleans campaign stop, with Bush extolling the virtues of "faith-based" initiatives. Hmmmmm. Army Corps of Engineers, or the First Presbyterian? Who do you think would've best shored up those levees? Idiot.

while I'm at it

I'm sick of being called on to pray --- "Pray for the victims of Katrina."

Pray? Excuse me? Pray for what? For god to be merciful? It's a bit late for that. Pray to comfort them? Comfort would be a hot meal and a place to stay and maybe a couple of hundred bucks to help them through the next week. How is your praying going to comfort them?

I'll tell you how: it's not. But I know who it will comfort: you. Praying is what you do when you want to feel good about doing nothing.

When a "leader" asks us to pray, I can only think, gee, is that really the best you can do? What about asking us to donate money? Or blood? Or volunteer with the red cross? You're saying that all we can do is close our eyes and make a wish that your imaginary friend --- who presumably caused all of this in the first place --- will come and fix things up again?

A better plan would be to pay our taxes and then work like hell to vote in leadership to prevent future messes like this. You can't pray for that though; you just have to do it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

reverend billy & the church of stop shopping

become a Sacred Spy of the Shopocalypse —

I'm pretty sure this is for real. Looks like a bit too much theatrics for my taste, but if they outlaw atheism, maybe I've found a congregation...

Monday, August 29, 2005

quote of the day

If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.

Carl Schurz
US (German-born) general & politician (1829 - 1906)


So, I'm trying really hard to keep a positive attitude. Tell myself, it's not all bad. Think about the good things I can do, try to make a difference, remember to take the higher ground, don't let it get to me.

Hah. Foiled again!

In Georgia, I've seen just about everything stuck to a car, from the moronic to the mean-spirited, and yes, shockingly, even confederate flags on pickup trucks.

But what I saw this morning choked me with bitter, blinding revile. On the license plate holder of a car: "Truth NOT Tolerance."

How many ways is that wrong?

It's wrong to the wrongth degree. Exponentially wrong. Shockingly, willfully, arrogantly, hopelessly wrong.

You shouldn't have to tell someone that, you know? I took a good look at the woman in the car. Black woman. And to top it off, a California license plate.

A little web searching brought this gem from Connie and Carl. I wonder if that actually was "Connie" in that car.

Apparently you can get your own "truth not tolerance" bumpersticker, replete with christian cross and a fist, at Harbor House Gifts PO Box 2601, Fullerton, CA 92837, in case you are interested.

it takes a village

Great article from Responsible Wealth (Sep 04) on how private wealth counts on public investment and infrastructure.

"The myth of self-made wealth is used to justify tax cuts for the rich and reduce public investment in the very institutions and infrastructure that not only enable more Americans to become wealthy, but are crucial to a strong and growing economy," says Scott Klinger, co-director of Responsible Wealth.

An example:
H. Ross Perot, Jr., No. 40 on the Forbes 400, grew his company, Electronic Data Systems (later sold to General Motors), by focusing on computer systems and services for Medicare, a government program. The company's growth – and windfall profits – really took off when it began reselling the Medicare claims processing system it had developed for Texas Blue Cross under a research and development contract paid for by federal funds. By 1971, EDS owned 90% of the Medicare business in the country.

Report can be downloaded here.

While you're at it, you might want to visit the Estate Tax Action Center.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

see what i mean?

Looks like this poor doggie still really loves his master, crochet hook and all.

more quotes

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."

Thomas Jefferson
"Founding Father" and 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

When I read a qoute like that, I am both proud and furious. Proud that I am right about how and why the US was founded, that our founding fathers did indeed value reason and truth above dogma of any kind. And profoundly angry at how these "fellow Americans" of mine would like to twist our heritiage to become something else entirely. A "christian nation" my ass!

Which leads me to the following quote, from one of my other favorite quippers:

"At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid."

Friedrich Nietzsche
German philosopher (1844 - 1900)

great bumper sticker

Found the ad for this at Kos, but the link didn't work. The correct link is here.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

quote of the day

"Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens."

Michel de Montaigne
(1533 - 1592)

"inattention blindness" in cell phone users

I've long suspected that cell phone use impairs driving ability, whether or not the speaker uses a hands-free device. I've also suspected that a phone conversation distracts the brain in a way that passenger conversation does not. Here are some studies that support those beliefs.

The studies suggest that cell phone use interrupts attention, and it has nothing to do with having your hands on the wheel. The study also shows that listening is just as detrimental as talking, and the effect can linger after the conversation ends. Oddly, there is no similar distraction when listening to "books on tape" for instance, or chatting with a passenger.

I've "felt" this attention deficit when driving. I can just "tell" that I'm not paying as much attention when I'm on my phone. It's like some important part of my brain is focusing on "visualizing" the other party who isn't there. This "visualization" detracts from interpreting my real vision. My theory, anyway.

Friday, August 26, 2005

oil, not just for rich kids anymore

The Chad Cameroon Development Project appears to be helping one of the world's poorest nations improve the lives of its citizens.

Chad, where the per capita daily income is about half a tall Starbuck's, is undertaking a project to improve the quality of life for its citizens by mining its one significant natural resource, oil.

Okay well ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco are sponsoring the project. But the Chadians (Chadites?) don't have many choices, given their extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure. Great big ol' fat oil pipelines ain't free. Watch the progress here.

did you ever have a dog?

Dogs really really really love people. They wanna be your friend, your very best friend of all time, in fact.

All liberals should get a dog. We need all the friends we can get.

oh well...

I do get very disheartened by the news and blogging only seems to make it worse; I can admit I have a very hard time of it and sometimes it seems best just to turn everything off.

I don't like what it does to me, what this all does to me; I feel angry and intolerant, and it reminds me of how angry and intolerant everyone else is. I was a pacifist, always, and tolerance and understanding composed the foundation of my approach to life and to society. Now I feel such rage toward these pigs and their brutal misuse of the power of the country that I love. I have such a profound and overwhelming disappointment in my fellow citizens --- it is difficult to manage those feelings. HOW can they JUST NOT CARE about who we slaughter and why? In the name of Christ... Jesus Christ...

It's enough to make your head explode.

So in the interest of keeping my head from exploding, I may be prone to absences.

My original goal with this blog was to try to publish positive, or at least distracting, stories or comments or news of interest to progressives. I'm not quite giving up totally yet.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"Why the certainty? Why the cockiness? Well, there is that gorilla."

During the 2004 election, didn't it seem a bit odd that the Bushcabal were busily finding new ways to keep people out of rallies? A bizarre about-face strategy for a campaign that, from the outside, had no clear guarantee of victory at all. I mean, the whole point of going on the road with an honest campaign is to get people to come to rallies and speeches, and get your candidate heard. Right?

I was suspicious then, and I'm suspicious now. I think the Bushcabal had no need of rallies beyond what could be staged and broadcast convincingly. In fact, I think they had no need of voters at all. They knew they would win, with or without them, and "without" was even easier. Then their candidate didn't even have to smell good. He could stink it up as usual.

As this article by Anthony Wade at OpEdNews points out, we need to be putting our efforts into election reform. Sure bringing down Rove and Rumsfeld would be sweet, but you're dreaming if you think it will make any difference.

Protecting our elections is the only thing that matters now. Make no mistake. Our democracy is threatened. Patriots need to take heed of the warning.

be a pal


I wanted a positive message for patriotic liberals, and here is my first attempt. Show your solidarity and patriotism... check out the products at Cafe Press.

Friday, August 05, 2005

lexical discovery

Very proud of myself as I coined a new word today: miracleware.

Applies to software that no one wants to define, but everyone expects will work when needed.

You know, when you are in a design session and someone poses an uncomfortable question, the consultant might say "Don't worry about that now, the miracleware will handle it" and then you can move right through design, directly to coding, without ever solving a difficult issue!

Very handy for staying on the project schedule.

Monday, August 01, 2005

thirsty anyone?

Water ice in crater at Martian north pole

The photo is color enhanced, but cool nonetheless.

From the European Space Agency:
28 July 2005
"These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft, show a patch of water ice sitting on the floor of an unnamed crater near the Martian north pole... The circular patch of bright material located at the centre of the crater is residual water ice."

Too bad it isn't oil. Cheney would be wetting his pants.

1.21 jigowatts!

Or, almost!

From the Department of Energy, 7-27-2005: "...the 650-ton Atlas pulsed-power generator successfully discharged nearly 19 million amperes of electrical current through an aluminum cylindrical shell, or liner, about the size and shape of a tuna can. The current caused the liner to implode at extreme speeds, with unrivaled symmetry, precision and reproducibility."

Bet that would scare the cats away.

(brought to my attention via slashdot)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

the browser warz

Discussion today on slashdot regarding Opera's plan to stop pretending to be IE by default in order to fool sites into loading.

Being an Opera user, I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, one of the reasons Opera isn't more accepted is that it doesn't get counted in web stats, because it pretends to be IE. And because it isn't counted, webmasters don't think it has any users, and thus go on coding with non-standard Microsoft IE gadgetry.

On the other hand, I know of plenty of sites which work just fine with Opera, but if you don't have it set to spoof as IE, you can't even get in. I find that extremely irritating, as do, predictably, many others at slashdot.

atheists in foxholes

"There are no atheists in foxholes" someone recently quoted to me, during a discussion on atheism.

Hmmm. Is that a fact? There are plenty who would dispute that.

If the quote is meant to impune the patriotism of atheists, it is easily disproven. Even if you mistakenly believed that atheists never volunteered, it's kind of idiotic to suggest that all atheists who were ever drafted into the military deserted before they saw action. Still some people erroneously use the quote that way, but that's not the original meaning.

The original intent of the quote was to suggest that everyone believes in god when "put to the test" and that atheists have never been "tested" properly or they too would be believers. As if atheism were just some childish bravado, easily stripped away in a moment of fear.

If you look a little deeper, the real nugget of truth in the quote is this: Belief in god is based on fear and helpless desperation.

If it takes the extreme conditions of a foxhole to drive an atheist to belief, how much more brave and fortified must the atheist be than the believer, who is driven to accept the absurdities of religion by the abstract thought of death, in the comfort of his home?

(The "Atheists-in-Foxholes" monument is adjacent to the Willa Mae Whatley Auditorium in Fearn Park, overlooking Lake Hypatia, Alabama.)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

church smarm conspiracy?

The Primitive Baptist Church (as if there were some other kind) and the Church of Christ across the street have always enjoyed a friendly rivalry (in my mind at least) over their signage, one sign being within eyesight of the other on a rather major highway in suburbia.

I have to admit, when it came to out-and-out smarminess, the Primitve Baptist Church always had the upper hand with gems such as "Seven days without prayer makes one weak" and "Exposure to the Son may prevent burning." Cute, isn't it.

But the past few days, an unusual trend has emerged. Both churches have abandoned smarminess to congratulate newlyweds. "Best wishes for your life together John and Sue" at the Primitive, and the characteristically more pedestrian "Congratulations Glenn and Debbie" at the C of C.

I don't get it. What gives? Have they just recently begun performing marriages? Isn't that kind of their bread and butter?

I have a few theories.

1. Maybe John and Glenn are actually rivals embroiled in a bitter game of churchgoers' who's who one-upmanship.

2. Both churches are currently hell-bent on proving that they truly only marry men to women and women to men.

3. Clergy nationwide have finally come to their senses and gotten "real".

But what I really think is that there must be a big subscription service for church-sign-smarm. A content-server went down somewhere, and for once they were on their own, and just couldn't muster it up.

Actually it was kind of nice. I wished John and Sue and Glenn and Debbie well.

Hope they were virgins.

Friday, July 29, 2005

bush jokes you might not have heard yet

Gratuitous and mean spirited Bush jokes...yet somehow fitting.

Thanks to lowbot at >everything isn't.

ambient orb

Operates "at the threshold of our senses."

Hmmm. Price will have to come down a bit before I bite.

Goes nicely with the blog template though.

best live band in the world, bar none?

This rave review of the Allman Brothers Band 2003 “One Way Out” release is hard to believe. Hard to believe, but I think I agree.

All Music Guide: One Way Out

I suppose if you truly hate the Allman Brothers Band you won’t like this either, but if you have any affinity for their rock/blues/jazz improv style at all, this is really worth a listen.

The live performance on DVD is mesmerizing. 20-something Derek Trucks is probably the best slide guitarist in the world and he is fascinating to watch, with his calm zen-like attitude and pickless fingering style. To my ears, his improvised guitar solos rival Coltrane and Miles Davis. Gregg Allman is sober and his vocals are better than ever. I have a new appreciation for just how good a blues singer he really is, for a white guy. The other guitarist is Warren Haynes, who’s played with them off and on since the 80’s, and he’s a great traditional blues player. His solos lack the finesse of Derek’s but his song writing and singing adds dimension and a deeply blues flavor to the band’s repertoire.

Since they threw Dickey Betts out of the band, they don’t seem to be recording any of his songs which means no “Ramblin’ Man”, “Elizabeth Reed”, or “Blue Sky” but I for one don’t miss them. Who isn’t sick of “Ramblin’ Man” anyway?

If you are old like me you remember the original Allman Brothers and probably figured they were washed up has-beens in the 80’s. What a surprise.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

i don't wanna be

another rude suffering blogger, to paraphrase Parthenon Huxley.

I know things are really screwed up; I've been to TruthOut and RawStory. I've joined the ACLU. I've ranted, I've cried, I've given money to PFAW. I've written to my so-called representives (HA!). I've challenged co-workers and comforted friends. I've boiled and burned and cursed.

None of it to much effect.

Now I just want to make some sense. Find something new. Look far, somewhere much farther ahead, to see some other tomorrow.

my dog

wishes he was smarter than he is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

on atheism

Often, the religious think that atheists "just haven't thought about it enough." This is rarely true of someone who proclaims their atheism. It isn't easy in this society to admit to being an atheist. When you meet someone who does, you can be fairly certain that he or she has given it a good deal of thought.

We are the most hated group in the world, and you might ask yourself, who is doing that hating? It isn't other atheists. At times the depth of hatred the religious display seems evidence of an inherent evilness; but then I remember it's just a human thing.

Some people think that it must be frightening to be an atheist. Contemplating permanent death is scary to most people at first, but having to make up and convince yourself of lie after lie to keep from thinking about death is exhausting!

There may be a few moments of panic early on in one's athiesm, as letting go of the elaborate system of lies you've been told is kind of scary. Acceptance brings peace. Things start to make sense and become clear when you realize how simple it all is.

It was largely your religion that taught you to fear facing your fear of death, and wholly your religion that taught you to fear atheism. When your mind is no longer bound to religion's crazy fantasies, you can think rationally, as humans naturally do, and this brings peace and satisfaction.