Thursday, June 30, 2005

About ads on THIS site

Philocrites presented his blog policy, so I'm presenting mine:


"Check don't bounce, CC don't care. "

Yep, that's pretty much it, kids. Want to hear how "Bald is beautiful?" Want me to blog about how Murphy's Oil Soap changed my life? Want to be flirted with, sucked up to or highly praised?




Love and kisses,



This is probably one of those times when my linguist friend’s training would come in handy. Unfortunately, he is off canoodling with his girlfriend and is thus unreachable. (Well for another two days. Then he’s sleeping in my guest room for the weekend.) But for the second, I’m left to puzzle through the religious language discussion on my own.

I have a lot of sympathy for what PB and Oversoul have to say. So much that it is my strong temptation to declare them right and go eat dinner.

But I’m troubled by a few points, and I’m at the office waiting for a courier anyway, so here goes:

PB writes, and beautifully, Most people I know who use traditional religious language have hefted the heavy ax of critical thought over each word and cracked it open over many years, researched it, followed its etymologies like so many Encyclopedia Browns, considered its political and social implications, prayed over it, tried it out in different settings, and claimed or re-claimed it only after a tenacious battle with it.

Most people whom I am on even remotely the same theological page with have redefined theological language totally. Maybe they’ve kept the spirit, and I’m sure they think they do, but they have redefined the words.


“Sin” as defined by the shorter OED: Transgression of divine law, a violation of a religious or moral principle. (It being the shorter OED, the actual definition is longer and more complicated, but that’s the jist.)

“Sin” as defined by my office’s receptionist, a Mormon: “Doing wrong. Well, there are different kinds of wrong I guess. I guess sins are wrong that’s against the bible.”

I’d say that if you ask 100 people to define sin, 99 of the resulting definitions would be somewhere in the neighborhood of those two.

CC is one of those people who has wrestled mightily with the subject of sin. If you ask CC to define sin, you’re going to get “It’s something you do, anything you do, that distances you from what makes you a good and useful person. If you reverently and respectfully pull the plug on your terminally ill father to relieve his pain, that’s legally murder, but I don’t think it has to be sin. If you cheat on your taxes and feel so bad about it that it distances you from your life and the good that you do, or makes you feel like doing the right thing doesn’t matter, that’s sin. ”

And it is totally my right to define sin that way.

But if I go up to that Mormon receptionist and start a discussion of sin, very quickly we’re going to realize that we’re not on the same page. And that’s OK for an informal discussion.

But I bet that PB and O-Soul are the sorts who have wrestled with sin. (OK, that didn’t come out right.) They’ve wrestled with the CONCEPT of sin. And I bet that if we were to talk about sin, we would be talking about different things, especially if their definitions were more thoughtful and sophisticated than mine, which wouldn’t be hard to do.

We had a guy on Bnet for awhile who used “BS” as a synonym for “belief system.” He insisted that he meant no offense when he called what we believed “BS” and that we had no right to take offense since he’d said what he meant by the term and we should respect his definition of how he wanted to use words in his post. BS was his term and he’d define it however he pleased. Oh, and by total coincidence he was an athiest of the slightly evangelical variety.

We b-netters collectively felt this argument was, well, BS.

I do think there’s a difference between everyone making the concept of “sin” useful in their own slightly convuluted way, linguistic contortionists wrapping ourselves around the parts of the term we like and deftly avoiding the others, and BSguy’s consternation that he couldn’t redefine a commonly used insult into a useful term.

But I have trouble articulating what that difference is.

And I don’t think that what I understand as O-Soul’s solution, everyone using historical UUism’s definitions of the terms, is going to fly either.

One could argue that I am being legalistic, but in a world where special appliances are available to Orthodox Jews so they can technically avoid work on the sabbath, my blow-job queen college freshman-year roommate considered herself a technical virgin and where pacifist Quakers once hired people of other faiths to fight the Native Americans, I think legalism is a good policy.



The ranks of ex-Bnetters with blogs ever swell

I totally missed it, but Oversoul has a blog.


Will Shetterly makes the post!

Or rather, the Express, which I suppose is half credit.

CC was reading Washington DC's free weekly on the subway and saw that their column on blogs quoted this post in its entirety.

Neat stuff.

who now must get ready for a breakfast.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hanging out

A stressful day at work ended with two hours in the-bar-that-sucks-less-than-one-would-think.

Chris-who-makes it happen, Hazel and I talked about work. Chris had a red bull, Hazel had several beers. I had a ginger ale and a gyro. The waittress always raises an eyebrow when I order food as if she is impressed with my bravery.

Talking about a mutual acquaintance, Chris said "She's a bitch!"
CC responded, "She's not THAT bad..."

And Chris said "Fine, she's a NICE bitch..."

Had to be there, huh?

Oh well.



Slacktavist has neat things to say about "Hegel's bluff," the idea that declaring oneself the moderation point between two extremes is a verification of one's own correctness.

Probably a could thing for CC especially to keep in mind.



Sometimes, when liberals do stupid things, I smile.

I think it's the position I'm in professionally. Though I'm pretty liberal myself, I work for Republicans. And the Republicans I work for are, on the whole, really nice to me. I work hard, they appreciate it, occaisionally politics comes up during lunch. Peace in the valley.

But I get an unending torrent of crap about it from my liberal friends.

I am constantly asked to defend this or that conservative thing, justify my choice of workplace and in general prove that working for Republicans hasn't made me a punk.

I have become more and more sensitive to liberals who complain that conservatives don't think for themselves, but take Paul Krugman's work as gospel. Conservative hypocrisy is old news. But liberal hyposcrisy is something I see an awful lot of.

Do I think liberalism is ultimately the best direction for the country? You bet.

But all the same, is it nice to, occaisionally, be able to say "Boy, the liberals were totally wrong on that one!" to my liberal friends who see things in black and white?



A solution to a problem that has plagued our cities

Sports fans will probably prefer Respectful of Otters' version

George Soros is thinking of buying Washington's new baseball team. And the Republicans are freaking out. Tom Davis, chairman of the government reform committee, if making all sorts of dire threats.

From Roll Call:

Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.

Indeed, Hill Republicans could potentially make life difficult for MLB in a variety of ways. In addition to being exempt from anti-trust rules, baseball is still under scrutiny over the steroid issue. The Nats, meanwhile, hope to have a publicly-funded stadium built soon, though money for that venture is expected to come through the sale of bonds rather than a federal outlay.

Still, Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that covers the District of Columbia budget, said if Soros buys the team and seeks public funding for the new stadium or anything else, the GOP attitude would be, "Let him pay for it."

As a taxpayer, I am asking George Soros to do his country a favor and buy all of professional sports.

Think of the taxpayer money we'd save.


Oh, so THAT'S what that was about...

Last Sunday, CC was in a meeting where a rather upset person talked about how conservatives were training their young people for jobs in politics and how conservatives would soon be taking over America.

I calmly pointed out that:

A. Even if they are well-trained for government work, conservatives still can't run the country if we don't elect them.

B. Even if conservatives do a good job getting to college kids, lots of people change their beliefs after college.

C. "Will and Grace" is still winning the secular culture war.

To which the person pointed out that these kids weren't being raised in the secular culture, they were being homeschooled.

Now, I'm thinking she read this.

And having read it, I applaud it. These folks are in no way training evangelicals to compete against Democrats. Rather, they are training them to compete against Republicans for staff jobs and leadership positions.

May I encourage the evangelicals to take as many positions in the Republican party as they can possibly find. In fact, if the entire party could be run by people who isolate themselves from the popular culture and don't believe in kissing until marriage, that's OK with me.

And people say the DEMOCRATS are out of touch? Give the Republicans ten years.


What's up with CC?

Haven't been as blog-focussed this week as the June 30th deadline looms in front of me like one of those cliffs that always seemed to appear when Wile E. Coyote put on his rocket skates.

Don't know what I'm doing for the 4th yet. I'm invited to The Leadership Institute's 4th of July party but it's outside and during the day, so I doubt TheCSO will go. Also my linguist friend will be in town and not being a GenXer, he doesn't do the whole "Go to something BECAUSE it will suck" thing.

Anyway, I have lobbyists to call.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gee, a layperson wants to advise us on getting more UUs. How cute.

Since someone asked:
  • Be visible! My favorite way to achieve visibility is through charity work, but there are lots of ways to do it. Send your youth group out to do carwashes. Buy 100 attractive Chalice pins and give them away to everybody in your congregation willing to talk up UUism to people who ask about the pin. Help people, make them happy and get on the news doing it. Frankly, UUism never looked so good as it did on news broadcasts of gay weddings in Massachusetts. Run a day care, work for meals on wheels, build a house for habitat and get on the news. Whatevers. But do things. We’ve never recruited a single member while sitting in a meeting room and bitching.

    My least favorite way of being visible is to protest something. Even if people agree with what you’re protesting about, you still look cranky and unhappy when people actually see you. Cranky and unhappy does not make a person say “Gee, I want to join those guys!”

  • Talk about freedom, early and often There’s nothing wrong with sounding Christian, but make it clear what UUism has to offer that is unique. Talk about freedom, talk about reason, don’t talk about the seven principles. Focus on what makes us different.

  • Talk about fatih Talk about belief, talk about theology, and get everyone talking about it. As they get comfortable doing so, they will talk to their friends. And their friends will show up.

  • Train everyone to use the phrase “well, I can’t tell you what UUs believe, but I can tell you what I believe…” because it is intriguing and because you know some of your fellow UUs believe stupid stuff.

  • For God sakes, talk to newcomers Duh!

  • Start a Newcomers’ hang out group in every church. Say, meeting for brunch after every service (well, the second services in big churches.) Invite all newcomers to brunch and make sure several long time members who are good company go each week. If newcomers make friends, they won’t leave.

  • Pimp those famous UUs. People need to know that the guy who created The Simpsons is a UU. Christopher Reeve? A UU. The guy who discovered oxygen? UU. The congressman currently running newspaper ads mocking Randy “Duke” Cunningham? UU! Let the world know that UUs are very cool people. Focus on the wiseasses and rebels.

  • Don’t pander to people of other races I’d like to have a more racially diverse UUA, too, but attempts to make this happen in any non-organic way just look pathetic. If we make things not suck, they will come.

That’s all I can think of for now.


Office Gossip

I think CK has a little crush on the son of my linguist friend's girlfriend's congressman.

I know it's irrelevant to the life of everyone reading this, but I just wanted to type that sentance.


Responding to Contribuutor’s post

(Gee, this is starting to sound like a UUism blog again…)

I am a UU because the concept of refining belief through reason has been salvific in my rather difficult life. Of every religion I’ve looked into, UUism offers the best mix of thinking and feeling. If it errs on the side of thinking, that’s fine, because so do I.

People should join UU churches because UUism offers institutionalized religious freedom. We’re a place where you can continue to explore faith and leave your mind open, but do it in a community. We come together knowing that we’re blind men touching an elephant. Some of us think that which is greater than ourselves feels like a trunk, some a tail, some a leg, etc. Our church lets us try to get a feel for as much of the elephant as we can, even if that means suggesting that someone else might be jumping to incorrect conclusions about the elephant’s nature.

People should join because they find that they are missing something. Either their current religion leaves them wanting more or they don’t have a religion and long to explore the nature of that which is greater than themselves.

I’m not sure what you’re asking on the third question. It benefits individuals to join a community like this because it provides a place to worship and an hour or two a week when one is guaranteed to look beyond oneself for something greater. The network of community support is vital. After all, if we cannot depend on a personal God who will intercede and help us, then the need for us to take care of one another becomes glaringly obvious. Each new person brings new experiences and new ideas.

And we hold a mean pancake breakfast.


Monday, June 27, 2005

My, UUism's navel is facinating. I could study it for hours...

Jess takes me to task for my lack of enthusiasm for this year's study/action issue.

But I'm not doing this because I'm a meanie. I'm doing this because we are drowning ourselves in debate, a point that The Almost Church will back me up on.

Last year's study/action issue was "Global Warming," and we've fixed that problem right up, right?

The irony is, I'm usually the one who complains about politics in the church and this is probably the least political topic of all as it is basically all about UUism. Were the theme "Growing UUism," I would probably support it. Unfortunately, the theme seems to be "Growing UUism through social action," which I think is a bad plan for reasons I've already gone over ad nauseum.

You can read the SAIs here, and I hope you'll notice that the "actions" suggested for this issue are almost all talking, and almost all stuff we're doing already. (Honestly, is there anyone here who goes to a church where people aren't ALREADY discussing the nature of morality someplace, be it in a covenant group or in a humanist discussion group or in adult RE?)

Does the UUA think nobody outside of UUism has ever thought of an interfaith group?

And no, greater participation in social action among UUs is not going to do a damn thing as long as UUs are .5 percent of the population.


When do we move on?

A story in the Washington Citypaper about the, well, tacky memorials people put up at the site of a beloved person's death.

I remember a huge knock-down drag out about this one on B-net a couple of years ago. I was solidly on the "take 'em down after two months" camp. But there are a lot of different positions one can take on this question of respect for the dead vs respect for the living. I have to say that I find myself feeling for both sides when reading this story.


Ps. The City Paper also has a really over the top corrections policy that makes sure to humiliate the writer who made the mistake. This letter points out how much their editor sucks for this.

More pouting

Yep, Elaine Pagels kicked ass, apparently.

I swear, I am totally going next year. (Why do I feel like a high school kid making a yearly promise about burning man?)

who suspects that as soon as she forks over her three hundred bucks next year, the UUA will announce that Nora Ephron is giving the Ware lecture.

Yeah, what my husband said...

Michelle asked why I am so cynical about our new study/action issue.

I was thinking about an answer, but was going to put off writing it until after I went to the gym.

So TheCSO answered, saying all the stuff I would have said and saying it at least more concisely if not better, and maybe better:

Well, one problem with it is that it's a Big Picture issue, not something that we could make a real impact on.

And even worse, the issue IS to talk about stuff. Frankly, UUs as a body already spend way too much time talking and not enough time doing. (And protesting something is talking, not doing.)

I'm not a big proponent of social justice work, but if you're going to do it, do it where you can make a real impact. And with talking about it, you get all the annoying parts of SJ work (not accomplishing anything concrete, having to listen to people yak endlessly about their really boring Pet Issue, etc.) without the good parts (actually accomplishing something that improves people's lives in a concrete way).

The UUA needs to stop trying to articulate my values for me.

Yep, I picked a good'un.


A totally different Cosmos

Transparent Eye is quoting at length one of Jack Abramoff's emails. It's the one where he asks a rabbi to give him an award so he can list said award on his application for the Cosmos Club.

Like several other people I've talked to about the situation, Rick uses the email as an illustration of Abramoff's devious nature.

Actually, it's that very email that made me feel for the guy.

The Cosmos club is for rich people, sure, but it isn't necessarily for politicians or business leaders. It's for scientists and artists. People who have really created something. It has its share of rich people, too, I grant you, but Jack Abramoff wasn't doing it for the job connections. He didn't need any more connections.

He was doing it because, in reality, he is likely a sad little man who just wanted to be somebody.

He was doing it because the guy that the other kids used to call Abraham Jackoff in high school. And now those kids are writing about it in Slate.

I bet if I were in his shoes, I'd want to be in the Cosmos Club, too.

who actually wouldn't turn it down even without his shoes. Richard Feynman hung out there sometimes. Sweet!

Made me chuckle

CC is a big fan of The Ethicist in the NYT magazine. So this made her chuckle.


Anybody want to explain this one to me?

The Supreme Court has struck down displays of the ten commandments in courthouses, yet they are ok in state capitol building.

While my preferred compromise is that framed things are taken down while carvings are grandfathered in, I don't think this is a terrible comrpomise. Yet I don't get how it works legally.


Study Action Issue


Wow. So all we have to do is change America's moral landscape.

I'm sure we will get RIGHT on that...


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Attention Local Amigos

CC could use a hand.

She wa supposed to organize 10 20-somethings from her church to do a service project on July 9.

Thie was before she figured out that her church HAS no 20-somethings, or at least very few of them.

Anybody available to come renovate low-income housing for a Saturday in DC, lunch-provided?

I'd be willing to consider ANYONE an honorary twentysomething.


Making commenting easier

I'd like to have trackback, but I don't know that I prefer Haloscan's commenting style.

For a few days, I'm going to keep both going. Haloscan is above each post, blogger is below. Check them out and let me know...


Moral Perspective Watch #1

This whole Durbin/Santorum/Byrd thing has me thinking about people who irrationally compare stuff to the Holocaust.

Don't know why, people who do that have always irked me and the issue is coming to a head more and more frequently these days.

So I've set up some google searches and will be tracking the phenomenon for awhile.

This story doesn't really fit what I'm looking for at all, but it was the first remotely useable thing to turn up, so I'm linking to it.



How was Elaine?

SOMEBODY tell me?


Can't sleep.

I know. What a shocker.

Were you an art student who ended up not having enough talent to really make it a major?

I was. Art history was really my favorite, but you couldn't major in it alone, you had to major in art. And i wasn't good enough to major in art, something a professor sat me down and told me, but that I sort of knew anyway.

Anyway, my point is this site is really fun to monkey around with.


Ps. And while we're on the subject of art, the ever-informative PG has neat stuff to say about the oft-made comparsions between the Koran-urination incident and "Piss Christ."

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Imagine the fun that the headline writers will have

The breasts are back in town.


It's like she has a life or something...

Last night, I hung out at a bar with CoWorker Kristina, Hazel, one of CK's buddies and TheCSO. Ate too many nachos.

Today, I got a pedicure with Jennifer Beautiful and then we saw Bewitched. Ate too much popcorn.

I think I'm going to have a fat free yogurt for dinner and cuddle up with a book. (Shaking of the Foundations (a reread) and Confederates in the Attic are current reads. I'm liking them.)

Notes on the movie

  • Old guys looking to score with young women: You may want to see Bewitched and take notes. After this movie, CC is aware that in an alternate universe where she wasn't married, 72-year old Michael Caine could probably nail her. See the movie before you judge me. There's something about the guy... (And admittedly, CC had taken him for being in his 50s and was somewhat shocked when she looked up his age for this post.)

  • Shirley MacLaine was good as Endorra, but not as good as CC expected. At first, she's pretty awkward, but there's a nice twist halfway throught that improves things a lot.

  • Nora Ephron is a terrible writer. And if she has never seen Shadow of the Vampire I'll eat my hat. (I'm sorry, but do a bunch of actors really ever sit around and question one actor as if he/she is in character, having him/her improv answers? Because they do that in BOTH movies, to admittedly humorous effect even in Bewitched but still...)

  • Nicole Kidman manages to make a cheesy Marilyn Monroe delivery watchable for the whole movie. This seems like a significant achievement.

Ok, I'm grabbing a book and heading for bed.


Friday, June 24, 2005

A blogger? Too quick to judge? That NEVER happens.

Hermes' side of the Oprah story sounds pretty reasonable/



Yep. the people at GA are having a blast.


The ever-popular CSO

Last night, CC and TheCSO went to the fish store to get a little fishtank vacuum for Klaus. (The fish, after all, is for my father to enjoy, so we’re trying to do most of the caretaking.)

The CSO is the sort who will carefully examine his fishtank vacuum options and, after thoughtful consideration, chose the absolutely best one. CC is not. So she wandered away, playing with the cats for adoption and fantasizing about being the sort of person who blows $2000 on a parrot.

When she returned, TheCSO was showing a guy the chichlid foods and helping him make a choice. It was then that CC noticed that the CSO’s polo shirt matched the store décor.

The following dialogue occurred:

CC: Are people mistaking you for an employee again?
TheCSO: I guess so.
GUY: You don’t work here? You sure know a lot about fish food.
CC: He knows a lot about everything.
The CSO: Nice talking to you
(The CSO blithely wanders off. CC and the guy remain at the fish food.)
GUY: You have GOT to dress him better, honey.
CC: I leave for work before he does.
GUY: Too bad. He’s cute, too.
CC: Ayup. I’ll keep him.

And we wandered away.

thinking today about the subtle dances we do, and primal rituals unspoken.

Best Evah

Two thoughts on making an incriminating sentance spoken by your political opponent into a cellphone ringtone and distributing it widely on the internet:

  • The Democrats here in America really need to hire the person who came up with that. Actually, the Republicans could use him/her too...
  • I'm really glad we had not developed the technology when the Princess Di recordings came out.


Thursday, June 23, 2005


Take this survey.

And help the good folks at MIT out.


Wow, a religion post

Well, sort of. I'm kind of bummed out recently, and politics and gossip is easy.

Anywhoo, I ran across How to encourage your pastor on JollyBlogger and I thought I would put it in front of UU eyes. I don't think a UU would write it this way, but it certainly has some food for thought.


Ps. Link fixed. Thanks Michelle!

Boy, do I miss that President.


I know this photo isn't what it looks like but as I look at it and shake my head, I am smiling.

OK, so the Limbaugh folks believe that Clinton, a few days after heart surgery, was getting passionate kisses from anonymous women at another man's campaign rally in front of presumably thousands of people.

You don't have to admit it to me, but admit it to yourself.

You're impressed.

Clinton is the man.


CC the lyrical gangsta

OK, so I may be the only person in the world who plans parties for a living and has a Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in her office.

This afternoon the manager of our mail shop was trying to pronounce "Exacerbate." I pronounced it for her, then looked it up to show it to her in writing.

She allowed as to how this extra step was unnecessary and I lamely explained that I just liked to use my O.E.D.

"O.E.D.?" She laughed "It's like you're from the Dictionary 'hood! I'm down wit' my homegirls and my O.E.D.!"



Allpoints clears it up.

Got an email from AP, who explains that I'm not Maureen Dowd, I am, in fact, Christopher Hitchens.

Well, gee, glad we got that one straightened out.

who again, kinda liked being a "total fox," but whatever...

Those wacky congressional UUs

Shout out to Pete Stark who is publically mocking Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Stark, Connecticut Representative Nancy Johnson (a Republican, mind you,) and ND Senator Kent Conrad represent UUism in Congress.


From a hero to a tree

Anybody want to count the levels on which this is depressing?

I don't even want to start.

who is finding the entire internet depressing these days.

Malpractice update

People more knowledgeable than CC continue to debate the issue.

Mrs. Henry posted here and has neat stuff to say, including a shout-out to the justice system of my fine hometown. (Believe me, lady, I could tell you stories...)


Ps. Speaking of hometowns, UUs gots to represent at UUism's home town's latest competition. I expect to hear moaning, people...


It was a strange day in politics yesterday for several reasons I can't go into.

But if a flag burning amendment isn't surreal enough for you I don't know what would be.

It's all one thing has neat things to say on the flag burning topic, in a bash-conservatives-over-the-head-with-their-own-book sort of way.

I know some very sophisticated people disagree with me on this one, but I can't help but be uncomfortable with that approach. I know it has a decent chance of working, but I don't like it.

The flag burning controversy began with a veteran burning his own flag after hearing that civil rights leader James Meredith had been assasinated. That case went all the way to the Supreme Court, though to me it is pretty obviously political speech.

I'm preaching to the choir here, aren't I?



Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What? The National Guard didn't have any openings?

He's finally going.

Sorry kids, it's a cheap shot kind of morning.


Everything cool (and even some mediocre stuff) turns to crap

Snagged my hose this morning and had to run by the grocery store. On the way out, I passed those machines that dispense little toys when a kid puts in a quarter.

It had those tacky plastic Lance Armstrong bracelets that people wear to support various causes. (Usually disease research.) Now whether the charities actually saw any of this money in the end is up for debate, but at least the people buying the bracelets were well-meaning.

But now people aren't just paying ten bucks to charities of dubious origin for plastic bracelets. Now one can get knockoffs.

I'm not immune to the charm of a good knockoff. I've fallen pray to a knockoff Chanel bag on Dupont circle once or twice. But Chanel is not an organization supporting those who can't totally support themselves. (At least not since the Karl Lagerfield years—Oooh couture cheap shot...)

But seriously, there's something just so depressing about people wearing fake charity bracelets. And I didn't even like the real ones.


Fixed the comments feature

Didn't sleep well, woke up and just wanted to improve something.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A cure for malpractice?

Neat stuff, kids.

In an age when malpractice insurance is through the roof, malpractice insurance for anesthesiologists is DOWN.

Why, you may ask?

Did they make some sort of deal with the trial lawyers?

Put a cap on lawsuits?

Nope. They decided to make fewer mistakes.

The anesthesiologists, once the riskiest doctors to insure, now pay some of the smallest malpractice claims in medicine because their professional association got everybody together and decided to work on the problem of patients dying. They developed new machines and new training methods to improve patient safety. Most impressive of all for a bunch of doctors (a profession, after all, known for its hubris) is that they started tracking mistakes and developed a huge database. Every dead patient and every lawsuit went in there until patterns and guidelines started to emerge. For example, they discovered a common problem was often inserting the breathing tube into the esophagus instead of into the windpipe. So the figured out a way around that.

Too cool, y’all, and an approach that every profession can emulate.



People who are going to GA while CC has to stay in Washington and work suck.

And judging by the schedule of future GAs, the UUA is bound and determined to always have GA right before the end of the fiscal year, so it will always be hard for me to go.

If we want to keep GA's ratio of hippies to non-hippies untenably high, that's certainly one way to do it as the end of the fiscal year mostly matters to people in management, accounting, and fundraising. None of those are big social activist professions.

And I guess with Sinkford's platform being social action, keeping the ratio of hippies up is in his best interest.


I hate it when the people who can effectively game the system aren't on my side.


Again, it's a Washington thing...

The Hottest US Senator competition rolls on. There are now no women left in the competition and only one Republican.

Hmmm... Probably says quite a bit about their voting pool.

And CC's campaign to write in Feingold was apparently not a success. No one appreciates the slightly scary guy.

aware that Feingold would put her out of a job if he could. But political standing has no bearing on hotness.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Let's see... You guys work on commission, right? Big mistake. Huge.

Oprah Winfrey apparently got the Pretty Woman treatment at the Paris Hermes store.

At the same time, it would be something to have a salesclerk be rude to one and know, absolutely know, that they would face really serious consequences. Like the sort of consequences French shop clerks get when they turn away Oprah.

That would kind of kick ass.

Of course getting turned-away itself would be awful. To be honest, getting turned away at a store is really sort of hard to get my head around. Shrug. Nice to have grown up white, I guess.

(No, I don't know why my blog has turned into page six today. I guess I'm just peevish.)


Is it just me or...

is the weirdest thing about the article revealing the Saddam Hussein likes doritos that it is appearing in GQ.

I'm sorry, Anna Wintour says Camilla Parker Bowles isn't attractive enough to be in Vogue and SADDAM HUSSEIN is making GQ?

There's no justice in this world...


Warm Fuzzies Link of the Day

Just when Ralph Nader had me all pissed off...

Semi-related story:

When I was in grad school I lived on 15k per year. One time, I mentioned this fact to a lady I know who is really cheap. She swooned a bit.

"Living on $15,000 per year? How WONderful..."

CC sputtered "Are you kidding? It SUCKED!"

And it had.


Lest there should be any doubt that Ralph Nader has lost it.

Sufficient evidence to convice CC can be found here.


Ps. Klaus was a hit.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Yep, CC is bored.

statler jpeg
You are Statler or Waldorf.
You have a high opinion of yourself, as do others.
But only because you are in the balcony seats.

Those two old guys in the box.
Heckling, complaining, being cantankerous

"Get off the stage, you bum!"

"The Art of Insult" and "How To
Insult Art"

Their pacemakers.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

A muppet story:

My linguist friend and I met in church. We used to sit in the back and occaisionally quietly make fun of a minister who REALLY deserved it. I often compared us to Statler and Waldorf, so this made me smile.

Another muppet story:

A guy I know has a system. When he meets an attractive woman, he asks her "What's your favorite muppet?" If she says "Miss Piggy," he moves on. He explains "The women who pick Miss Piggy are all one type, and it's not a type I like."

Kinda shallow, I know, but it makes for a good story.

Dum de dum

Boy, my blogosphere is quiet these days. Washington is sort of dull, though PG is still posting good stuff. The UUs are quiet, too, probably due to the impending GA.

I was up early and well, setting up a fish tank. So it's one o'clock in the afternoon and it feels like it should be about five.


Hello, Klaus

When I was a little kid, the ChaliceMom and the ChaliceDad kept tropical fish. They'd gotten away from it in recent years, but the CSO and I figured that it might do my Dad some good to get back into it. So for Father's Day TheCSO and I got him an Oscar Chichlid and a tank.

Oscar Chichlids, it turns out, are extremely cool. The guy at PetCo (who was very knowledgeable about fish) told us that Oscars are very smart, one of the smartest fish in the world.

Klaus, my father's new fish, seems like a good example of the breed.

My family doesn't really do internet access, so I'll have to wish the ChaliceDad a happy Father's day in person. But I hope all the Dads reading this have a smurftacular Father's Day, too.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Me talk pretty? CC not like.

So far, I'm not loving David Sedaris' Me Talk Pretty One Day.

It's for my book club, and I often have tastes differing from those of my pals, but I'd heard so many good things about the book that I'm sort of disappointed that I didn't like it more. Admittedly the fact that he was a crystal meth-addicted conceptual artist when he was my age does put my life into pleasant perspective.

I realize that for the Volvo-driving, NPR-listening, Starbucks guzzlers among my pals, David Sedaris is some sort of great wit, but my opinion is that the world already has one Andy Rooney.

Do we really need another?

Who is admittedly only 100 pages in. Maybe it will improve.

CC is SO bored

Don't know why. I'm having a low-energy nothing-to-do sort of day,

I'm REALLY bored.

Just sayin'


Love and a Cough

Jennifer Beautiful, TheCSO and I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

It was charming, though full of explosions.

Anyway, I think Brad and Angelina do have something going on if only because Brad Pitt is not this good an actor.


A book CC liked

This is one of those posts that has been rolling arouind my head for a few days.

I just finished a really good book. As a general rule, books with recipies in them aren't my thing. But Tender at the Bone, NY Times food critic Ruth Reichl's autobiography was a delightful exception. Parts of it are slow. The most interesting part is probablyy Ruth's motther, which I think would be hard for any autobiographer to accept.

But anyway, I'm not that in to cooking and I found it well-worth reading.


Bitchin' new blog.

I am all about the Sliz.


Friday, June 17, 2005

OK, this is probably a Washington thing...

But you can vote for the Hottest US Senator right here.

Of the choices listed, Evan Bayh seems an easy winner but CC goes for slightly spookier looking guys, so she's writing in Feingold and encourages you to do the same.

thinking Lisa Murkowski? Rather than Maria Cantwell? You people are silly...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The weirdest sentence the LA Times has ever published.

When Witelson began acquiring human brains, sex was the last thing on her mind.

It just has to be.


Service with a smile.

One of the first lessons TheCSO learned about visiting my parents' house is to look out the window if there's a knock on the door. If there's a cop standing on the porch, don't answer the door because it's just somebody trying to serve my brother with legal papers of one type or another. Usually a simple subpeona.

As we are now buying that house and it is still the first place the cops look when they want my brother, the proud tradition of Smith family cop-dodging continues with the Webbs. (If there's ever a flood and the cops come around to evacuate us, we are so screwed. Luckily Fairfax county doesn't have natural disasters. They are against some county ordinance or another. Hurricaines reach the county line and become rainstorms out of fear of our mighty county government and numerous homeowners' associations. People bitch that the property taxes here are too high, but you can't argue with the services.) CC's theory is that the Fairfax County police might as well earn their paychecks and we don't want to be responsible for finding my brother and warning him of an impending court date.

It is because of people like us that process servers must get creative.

Which brings me to The Washingtonienne, who was served last night in the middle of her book signing at Olsson's.

Best evah.


Who is drawn to this Washingtonienne thing like a moth to a really sluttly flame already.

And who is making calls today at work, meaning there will be frequent updates.

Newsflash: Obvious yet stupid idea stolen

Ok, these guys are claiming that their terribly original business plan for a Hooters-themed airline was stolen.

Two comments on this:

1. Hmmm... So what are the stewardesses wearing? Skimpy T-shirts?
What's the in-flight snack? Chicken wings and beer?
What's the in-flight entertainment? Sports?

Kids, I could write this business plan. That's a bad quality in a business plan because I know exactly squat about anything related to business.

2. What company is going to pay for corporate travel on this airline? Do you think they will sell a lot of family packages to Disneyland? Again, I know precisely squat about business, but I'm pretty sure "Guys on spring break and really expensive bachelor parties" is not a big enough market to sustain an airline.


Snars Snarkis Gratia

I'm remembering now why I hate the New Yorker.

We got it for a year when I was a kid and I decided I didn't like it then. I felt justified in mocking the girl in The Devil wears Prada because her life ambition was to write for the New Yorker. My feelings on it had been slowly warming over time. After all, Malcolm Gladwell writes for it.

And then I read a movie review of the new Star Wars movie. (Peacebang linked to it.)

Peacebang was right. It's funny It totally is.

Yet the humor is somehow empty and icky to me. Something about it makes me want to brush my teeth, He makes fun of the way the Ewan McGregor talks. He makes fun of the fact that people in Star Wars keep their rooms very clean. (Umm.. robot servents seem to be plentiful and cheap in this universe. If I had C3p0 picking up my stuff, I would not be living the the Bohemian Squalor that currently surrounds me.) He makes fun of Yoda. He makes fun of the fact that the storm trooper uniforms look "dated" which is not a shock in uniforms that had to match the ones in a movie made in the 1970's. He makes fun of the dialogue, the set design, the acting, the hairstyles, the robots, the fact that you don't see bodily functions. (????)

Hey, making fun of the movie is fine in itself. I did it.

Yet at the same time, midway through the article, I found myself saying "Dude, the Star Wars movies have been out for three decades. The complaints you make about this one mostly apply to them all. If you hate Star Wars movies so much--Don't go."

I don't know, something about the guy's tone irritates me. I want to say "OK, OK, you're smarter and hipper than every Star Wars fan that has ever lived. Whatever, just shut up..."

I'm guessing this guy watched the Star Wars movie with a notepad, ready and waiting to make fun of every little thing, sitting there in the dark delighting in every directorial misstep, no matter how slight.

And I know I'm unenlighted because I basically like the Star Wars franchise, but something about that seems more lame than even the biggest Star Wars geek.

who is still planning to go see Bewitched, but won't be carrying a notepad.

Full disclosure: I did have a notepad myself when I was at the Star Wars movie. I justify this by saying that the article I was going to write was going to be about the theology of the force. When I got home, I didn't bother because orson Scott Card had already written a better one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

CC's scientifically selected joke.

Technological spiffiness.

If you go to Jester a collaborative filtering project by some folks at Berkley, their system will select a joke for you.

You sign up, rate 15 jokes on their funniness and it starts giving you joke it thinks you will like.

It's number one joke for me was:

A guy goes into confession and says to the priest, "Father, I'm 80 years old, widower, with 11 grandchildren. Last night I met two beautiful flight attendants. They took me home and I made love to both of them. Twice."
The priest said: "Well, my son, when was the last time you were in confession?"
"Never Father, I'm Jewish."
"So then, why are you telling me?"
"I'm telling everybody."

And I thought it was pretty funny.


And I was just worried that people wouldn't like the salmon...

Let's all just hope this is a joke.

Like, not a joke on some poor bastard who is trying to get married. A joke on the reader.


On a PLANE? Like, with people watching and stuff?

Should women be allowed to breastfeed on planes?

I guess so.

But I think I'd do it in the bathroom, or ask the stewardess if I could use the kitchen.


A new kind of lobbying

This begins with dorky confession. Regular readers will recall that in my attempts to lose some weight I tried to do the 10,000 steps per day program. I bought that pedometer at GNC, and somehow I'm on their mailing list.

The weird thing is today, I get this in my email box.

This is a business asking me to lobby the government on behalf of one of their products.

I'm trying to think, but I really don't recall ever having been asked to do that before. To me this suggests an unusual relationship between business and consumer.

Now, granted, most of the GNC customers I know would be happy to help GNC out. Like a hobby shop's customers would rally around the hobby shop, something about GNC seems to inspire loyalty in the select few who consider it a store for people like them. So it will probably be successful.

But as an outsider, I find GNC sending me that email to be sort of strange.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Well, it beats the hell out of being Maureen Dowd...

You scored as Paul Tillich. Paul Tillich sought to express Christian truth in an existentialist way. Our primary problem is alienation from the ground of our being, so that our life is meaningless. Great for psychotherapy, but no longer very influential.

Paul Tillich


Friedrich Schleiermacher


Charles Finney


John Calvin


Jürgen Moltmann






Martin Luther


Jonathan Edwards


Karl Barth


Which theologian are you?
created with

When I grow up, I want to be as sophisticated as Nicole Kidman

I really do like all the men I've ever dated. I'm glad I'm not with my exes, but I'm either friends with them or they aren't in my life but I don't have hard feelings.

But I do dislike some people. And if someone I really didn't like was making a complete ass of themselves to the degree that Tom Cruise is, I'm not sure I could be as restrained about it as Nicole Kidman is being. (If you follow the link, it's the second item on the page.)

I saw another interview where they asked her about scientology and she said that she'd looked into it and it really wasn't for her, and she was probably still a Catholic girl at heart.

Now having the chance to slam Scientology and not taking it is probably more survival instinct than refinement. Their lawyers are legendary.

But I still admire Nicole's grace through all of this. It has to be difficult.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Jackson verdict.

The irony is, the cops have way less on my brother, and he will probably get 5-10 years.


Seven Annoying Headlines

My Yahoo news headlines from just a minute ago:

Jackson jury has verdict
Judge to announce verdict in Michael Jackson child molestation case at 1:30 p.m. PT
• Guantanamo report details interrogation tactics
• White House rejects call for Iraq withdrawal
• Immigration law used as anti-terrorism tool
• Vatican gets victory in fertility referendum
• Ford recalls nearly 260,000 trucks, SUVs
• Katie Holmes converting to Scientology

Sigh after sigh after sigh.


Generous Impulse Whack-a-Mole

As the CSO and I are buying my folks' old house (which if you're pretty sure you're the sibling who will be financing your folks' retirement anyway, is not a bad way to go…) I've had to curb my spending a bit. One of my former ministers liked to remind us ad nauseum "if you want to know what you value, look at your check register." Judging by my check register, I value having gone to college, utilities, food, books and giving money away.

Having gone to college and utilities are pretty non-negotiable. The food budget can be tweaked by eating out less. At least for now, the book budget stays.

So it comes down to giving money away.

CC has never been good at not giving money away. Actually, saying "no" itself is something of an issue, but it manifests itself particularly badly when it comes to my checkbook. The policy that the CSO and I came up with gives me a certain amount per month to give away without prior approval from him. That number includes what I give to church.

This is an extremely reasonable policy, I know. I'm still not going to be perfect at it. There's something about street musicians, appeals to support a museum I've just enjoyed and pleas on behalf of starving kids in Africa that CC just finds irresistible. As a kid, I was notorious for inviting near-strangers to our thanksgiving dinner just because I found out they had no place to go.

I'm trying to think of it as like whack-a-mole, that arcade game where the little plastic moles spring up and you're supposed to hit them with a padded hammer. When a generous impulse pops up, I at least consider whacking it down.

Someone I don't even like is driving through DC and could use a place to stay? Whack! I'm out with a friend and get the urge to buy her dinner? Whack! Doctors without Borders could use another donation? Well, I'll think about it for a few days…

Saturday afternoon, I'm walking through Old Town Alexandria and an affable hippie tries to sell me an arts magazine she and her friends are putting out. Uh, ok, young artists are cool, and it's only a magazine, so what the hell? I dig through my wallet. I only have a 20. She says, "For that you can have a tank top, too." The tank top has "Stop bitching and start a revolution" across the chest. I have a lot of sympathy for that sentiment, especially the first part. So I say ok and she loads me up with a magazine, a bumper sticker and a tank top.

On the subway yesterday, I pulled the magazine out of my purse and read it for a while. It's called Zendik and I noted that it mostly seems to be about some guy named Wulf Zendik. If you google that name and read up on it, it turns out that the hippie's friends live in a small community in West Virginia. You know, one of those small communities run by a charismatic leader who discourages worldly things like, you know, personal bank accounts.

Should've whacked.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back from DC Pride

I, for one, had a blast at DC's pride festival.

But if dull married chicks have a great time there and don't feel at all out of place, that may speak to Scott's point.


Lame. Just lame.

Some people...


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Last Minute Sermon Idea

This has to be a parable for something.


Movies CC has watched a thousand times in the background while doing something else.

-Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion
-The Philadelphia Story
-Joe vs. the Volcano.

-LA Story
-The First Wives club (Watched together, you get to see Sarah Jessica Parker as two completely different kinds of bimbo. She's really good at both. But hit fast forward any time the three First Wives try to sing or dance because, geez...)


Friday, June 10, 2005


It's a sign of some deep mental issue that I'm going to Bewitched this weekend just so I can make fun of it here, isn't it?

whose coworkers were going, so she thought "why not?"

CC responds to Peacebang

In response to PB's graduation speech.

As much as I probably needed to hear some of that at 17, hearing that what little self-esteem I had was based on self-delusion would have been awfully rough.

I knew a quarter of that at the time, learned half of it in my college and directly post college years, and still haven't mastered keeping my living space clean, thank you notes and not making fun of the appearance of people MORE attractive than me such as Supermodels. (I am not a professional beautiful person, I'm not even qualified to be one. But if I were, I wouldn't dress like the organ grinder's monkey.) Still, I don't know why having inevitable wakeup to human nature four years later was really a problem.

I guess I am at a weird time to be responding to that as I've figured out most of the "Don'ts" in your peice. I don't have a delusion that I'm going to be a brillaint writer, I don't protest things in stupid ways and I know that when I'm depressed, I'm not always fun to be around, but my friends put up with me because I put up with them similar times.

Like most people who give advice, though, you do focus on the negative.

I've done most of your positive suggestions. The ChaliceMom runs a minority housing project and I think I've already figured out the four big things you learn working with the poor:

1. There but for the grace of God go I.
2. Some of these people are REALLY cool.
3. But ultimately unsalvageable, at least by you, especially when due to mental illness.
4. But you have to keep trying. It matters to the starfish.

I've cultivated my mind and I'm still at it, I make a mean chicken marsala, and I've never had an STD.

Now I'm supposed to "find my own path" and redefine success and live beautifully and all that.

That's kind of a tall order. I think the reason our society has college and family connections and lots of the things you deplore is that we need such channells to help people figure out where they are going. I've had them and even I'm a little bit clueless. I'm aware that life should have something to be working toward, and I don't feel like congressional fundraising is working me toward that, but without said goal, I'm doing pretty well to be making money and eating lots of free smoked salmon. But I need that goal, and I don't feel like I'm even getting closer to it.

And I realize I'm getting into "Brave New World" territory here, but I think the question is worth asking, while human civilization has always had artists and intellectuals and strivers after better things, I don't know that a graduation speech making more of them would even necessarily be a good thing even if it worked.

Is a garbageman who reads Milton and feels he's destined for better things, yet can't attain them because everybody else reads Milton too, in a better position than one who just enjoys his NASCAR? (One could argue, if he writes briliant short stories about lower-class misery the way Raymond Carver did, "yes." But to CC, a little Raymond Carver goes a long way.)

Do we want EVERYONE to be intellectual, poetic and committed to redefining success?

As I think the only party planner on the planet with a shorter OED in her office, I haven't the slightest.

whose graduation speech by James Carville was at least really fuinny.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

That's NOT funny!

Maureen Dowd
You are Maureen Dowd! You like to give people silly
nicknames and write in really short, non
sequitur paragraphs. You're the most playful of
the columnists and a rock-ribbed liberal, but
are often accused of being too flamboyant and
frivolous. You tend to focus on style over
substance, personality over politics. But your
heart is in the right place. Plus, you are a
total fox.

Which New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Ok, I'll take the "total fox" part.


Let us now mock Dan Burton

News from the "Aren't those Republicans wacky" front...

Dan Burton, who used to be a near shoe-in for the International Relations committee chairmanship, has now found himself in hot water with his Republican colleagues.

It seemed he skipped the vote on Henry Hyde's UN bill and the bill only beat the Democratic version by one vote.

Where was Burton?

The Booz-Allen Hamilton golf classic.

I love this town!


Wonkette's version

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Someone who hates kids more than CC does

CC, after all, does not wich them bodily harm. She even likes certain individual children. (Faustoette and Fausto, Jr. spring to mind.)

But this lady is a whole 'nother story.


Why being married is the best thing ever:

Chalicerelative: Hi, I know we haven't spoken since I called you heartless for not unquestioningly taking your brother's side in this whole legal mess, but now I'm getting an operation and I want you to move in with me for a week to take care of me.

CC: Gee, I don't know, I have to check with my husband...

who has negotiated it down to CC cooking all of Chalicerelative's meals but not actually sleeping there.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Another ex-Beliefnetter gets a blog

Check it out.


CC defends standardized tests.

A response to Perigrinato

First off, an admission. I teach GRE test preparation classes as a side job sometimes. I am certified my test prep company to teach SAT, but I don’t like high school kids. I have the scores to be certified to teach LSAT, but LSAT students are notorious for being difficult and arguing every point. Why bother?

I am the reason the standardized tests are biased. Kids who can afford my classes do better. I teach them polynomials, the six types of analogy questions and to come to the testing center dressed in layers and with an energy bar in their pocket for the break. That my classes cost a lot of money is unfortunate, though there are scholarships available. That my classes take a lot of time I don’t apologize for. Hard work in preparation for what you perceive as a pointless hurdle is as good a preparation for some parts of academia as I can think of.

Perigrinato’s statement “The test favors those who have had time or money to prepare for the exam.” can be slightly altered to the universal truth “Everything favors those who have had time or money to prepare.”

But there is a bias that makes me a far more natural defender of standardized tests than my financial motive.

I’m one hell of a lousy student. My LSATs say I should be going to Princeton Law. My grades suggest Fame School of Nail Design. No, as I have explained to parents, teachers and friends for nearly two decades, I don’t know why I’m so awful. Why I procrastinate, why I forget everything the day of the test, why I write searing critiques of books that turn out to be written by the professor, why I ran my college newspaper, starred in a play and was president of my dorm all at the same time, but kept forgetting to go to class. Medicate me, write my schedule, punish me, change my diet, do whatever. Nothing fixes the mess that is CC’s academic life, and nothing is going to persuade anyone who has ever tried to have me in a classroom that I’m good at standardized tests because my learning style is so very normal.

I didn’t take a prep class. I didn’t even study for the GRE. But I did score in the 97th percentile.

My graduate school grades were a few A’s and mostly B’s. I didn’t finish because I was miserable and had figured out that it wasn’t preparing me for anything I wanted to do, my fault not my program’s.

Of course undergraduate grades are a better predictor of graduate grades in aggregate. Wouldn’t it be weird if that weren’t the case? But all schools are not the same, and grades do not always tell the full story. . (Of course, minorities tend to get worse grades, and women, too, if we’re talking about math or science.) Will straight A’s and flawless recommendations from Dixie Cup Community College get one in to Harvard law? With a 179 LSAT accompanying them, they will at least be looked at. Without it? Don’t bother.

One of CC’s high school English teachers grew up in New Haven and he said as a kid a fun time of the year was the end of the fall semester, when large bunches of furniture would appear in a certain spot as every year a few dozen Freshmen from hick towns who had come to Yale with straight A’s found that their schools hasn’t prepared them when they flunked out. (Is this true? It’s a convenient story for a high school English teacher to tell, I’ll admit. But the image has stayed with me. And SAT’s might have caught the problem in advance.)

Test scores are useful other ways. It’s logical to assume that students who get low math grades/test scores are poor math students. But it isn’t always the case. If a student has gotten a low math score, but a high analytical score, that usually indicates the math ability is there.

And the tests are not designed my accident. My favorite example is on the GMAT (which is for business school.) One type of question asks you to look at a problem, look at some information pertaining to the problem, and figure out if you have enough information to solve the problem. Are you suited to be an MBA who comes into the company, figures out how to fix things and then hires the guys to carry out the solutions? In a very brief moment, the GMAT can measure the skills at the heart of what people who hire MBAs want them to do.


One more Grrr

Is is just me, or is anybody else pretty much certain that if Pfizer puts THC in a pill and lobbies the government heavily, medical marijuana will be just fine?

Just sayin...


OK, I give up, I heart Malcom Gladwell.

To be honest, I've been a closet Malcom Gladwell fan for about a month and a half having bought The Tipping Point on the way back from the UU blogger picnic.

I read it in like a day.

Then I went out and got Blink and read it in a day.

But I didn't tell anybody.

You see, I've learned to be wary of what I call the Ayn Rand Reality Disotortion Field. When you were in high school/college, did you read Ayn Rand and become a firm believer in what she had to say, for like a week?

Seven days later, you're like "Wait a minute..."

That's the Ayn Rand Reality Distortion Field and I really didn't want it to happen again, because I can still remember my college roommate and I taking the little vow in "Atlas Shrugged" and one should try to limit one's cringeworthy acts.

But it has been more than a month, and in that time I've read Freakonomics, which gives a completely different answer to the question "Why did the crime rate in New York city drop?" I'm still a fan.

Now, The Tipping Point pretty much had me from hello. Though I don't recall that he's explicit on the point in the book, the concept of a tipping point is straight out of chaos theory and I've been a fan of the concept of chaos theory for a long time. (I actually have a long-winded theory that the primary yucky things aobut this country come from people trying despeprately to cling to the concept of a mechanistic universe. For the moment, I'll spare y'all...)

I'm sure chaos theorists are lucky to have a guy like Gladwell on their side. Salon magaine reports that Donald Rumsfeld talks about "Iraq's Tipping Point." Meanwhile, The Roots have named their latest album after the concept. You just don't get a fan base much more diverse than Donald Rumsfeld and Roots vocalist Black Thought.

My linguist friend and I have an argument about whether the person who popularizes and idea is functionally as important as the person who came up with the idea in the first place. But popularizers do tend to get things wrong. The "Emotional Intelligence" fad came out of two popularizers misunderstnading and overapplying some research.

Though popularizing what other people have done is his primary MO, Gladwell to some degree does his own research, doing things like polling companies to see how many CEOs are over 6 feet tall. (A lot more than in the general population.) Though nobody's giving him a nobel prize for that particular study, it is comforting to know that he does know what goes into scientific research and he seems to apply what he finds out reasonably.

In Blink, his other book, he looks into the instant decisions we make when first faced with something and how often we are more right than we give ourselves credit for. Peacebang has some interesting criticisms of her own relted to gender and brain hemisphere. What she's saying is worth looiking into, though I'd always assumed that the concept of "women's intuition" comes out of the fact that the secretary who is never directly told what's gone on often figures is out anyway and can offer insights that the people around her find astonishing because they've forgotten she was even there. Viewed that way, the concept is pretty insulting and I didn't miss it in Blink

Like most books of this type, Gladwell's books are long on the "this is what's going on" and short on the "so this is what you should do about it." But they are a lot of fun to read and discuss. I recommend.

And Malcom, sweetheart, you're free to hang out in my basement.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Isn't she just SO incredibly special?


More from Ann Lamott


CC blows off some steam

So I sent a package to my friend at his Jerry-Springer-contestant-esque girlfriend's house and she sent it back "return to sender." She has a huge issue with me because she thinks I'm out to romance him. Presumably my plan is to keep my own harem of really smart guys in the basement. (Wait… tell me again why this is a bad idea…oh yeah, he wouldn't like me anyway what with my funny habit of letting the men in my life receive their mail. Oh, and when TheCSO gets a call from a woman, I LET HIM TAKE IT. I know, I'm psycho…)

I have to say that I am flummoxed by this whole "return to sender" on a package actually addressed to someone else, because frankly, there are many ways one can act like an immature loon WITHOUT violating federal law. Mail me a dead squirrel with a note attached reading "Like this squirrel, your love for my boyfriend must die."

No, wait, that one violates some postal regulations, too, I'm pretty sure.

But anyway, she could have come up with something better. I mean, she's smart. She has a Ph.D. from an institution of higher learning well-regarded by surfing fans worldwide.

The mirth will continue on Thursday because I am holding a breakfast with a client who is well-regarded by the postal industry. All the postal hotshots will be there and I will say not a word, all the while fantasizing about taking one aside and saying "I bet you'd really like to have Congress close the loophole the GPO uses to screw the postmasters who retire under the Civil Service Retirement System. I could talk to some important people, if you'd just take care of a little something for me…"

Trust a girl who knows her stuff about Postal Inspectors.

You don't want to mess with postal inspectors.

Think federal small town cops.


Funny thing about postal law: Congress passed a law saying that a person can write their own definition of "sexually suggestive" mail and demand the post office not deliver any mail meeting that definition. Now the queer thing is that there is NO reasonable-person standard to this law. On a regular basis, zealous anti-junk mail advocates write their post offices and say they find all junk mail sexually suggestive.

So there we go, all his girlfriend has to do is fill out post office form 2150 and tell the post office that mail from me turns her on, and she can save herself a walk back to the mailbox.

Who feels way better, thanks.

Ps. The CSO informs me that as my friend was a visitor to her house, it is not actually against federal law. He's SUCH a spoilsport.

Book bits

1. I have a really bad suspicion that I'm going to read The Washingtonienne by the end of the summer. Please, people. Blog a lot and keep me intellectually stimulated so I don't stoop that low.

2. It's a damn certainty that I'm going to read the new Harry Potter novel by midsummer. And I'm not especially proud of that one.

3. So far The Science of Good and Evil is quite good, absolutely Shermer's best. Got another two chapters into it while eating lunch at my local sushi bar.


What's the offensive part? The "F" or the "Dubya?"

One would think that if the California DMV needs to have people actually researching to figure out which liscense plates are offensive then they probably aren't that offensive.

Anybody who actually files a complaint that their neighbor's plate has the Japanese word for "Naked" on it has too much free time.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Amazing what one can find on the net

I've always been a bit fascinated with the concept of faking my own death.

I guess i know how to do it now.

But it sounds like a lot of work...


CC re-answers the book meme

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

I've changed my mind on this one, having reaquianted myself with Natalie Angier's "Woman: An Intimate Geography."

In Fahrenheit 451, we will need all the health information we can get, and women's health information is usually low-priority.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

In my original answer I forgot my enthusiasm for detectives.

The last books you bought are…?

God's Politics


The Good, the Bad & the Difference : How to Tell the Right From Wrong in Everyday Situations (by the guy who writes The Ethicist column in the NYT)

The last book you read is…?

Freakonomics. I really enjoyed it and have had several good discussions with theCSO resulting. I'm not quite sure what the deal was with fawning over Stephen Leavitt being such a central part of the book. I'm trying to list people who could write a book with a collaborator and spend half the book having the collaborator fawn write about them and have it not suck.

So far my list is:

1. Richard Feynman

What are you currently reading?
The Science of Good and Evil : Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

By Micheal Shermer, on whom I have mixed feelings. ( Why People Believe weird things bitched about slippery slope arguments, then used them consistently. Ex-fundamentalists who write about religion are in general suspect. )

I have trouble believing his arguments that large mammals are moral beings. But hey, he likes skeptics…

whose answers to the desert island question didn't change.

Dumbest injuries ever

Tonight, TheCSO and I were talking and we were goofing around and started kicking each other. Not, like, hard, but just screwing around. But I reached my leg around to kick him in the behind and now it really hurts like a sumbitch. I think I twisted my knee.

While I'm waiting for the asprin to kick in, three related but stupider stories.

1. PreCSO, the guy I was dating and I liked to shove each other off the bed as a joke. Like one of us would say something mock-insulting and the other person would shove them off the bed. One time, I fell off and brusied my tailbone on a copy of, I think, the Oxford Companion to Christian Thought. Rife with symbolism, that one.

2. Once, I was 19 and going to a Halloween party as Mae West. I was having trouble keeping the proper parts of me inside my bustier. So I decided to take a cue from the models and superglue myself into the bustier. Problem is, when superglue touches metal (like in an underwire) it gets really hot. I'm ridiculously fond of that particular scar.

3. When I was four, my mother said "Jump in the bathtub!" I did. Five stitches, which taught me at a very young age that being a literalist doesn't pay.

Feel free to share dumb injury stories in the comments. Unless they are really gross. Or really depressing, Or something.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

What is it about Post Secret?

I hate loving families

I’m probably late for the Post-Secret bus. I only discovered it about a month ago and what I’ve read recently suggests that it has changed from what it was before then.

What is it about the site that is so arresting? Part of it for me is the resemblance of the postcards to visionary art. The CSO, my linguist friend and I went to the American Visionary Art Museum last Saturday and I was really moved by the place. I always am. I'm a member. Anybody from my blogsphere who visits the DC/Baltimore area can have a tour of it from yours truly.

There's something about art created by untrained people that gives it something. My college art professor, who was smilingly critical, would likely ask if I had the same romantic notions about surgery by untrained people. And I can see that point. I am a great defender of modern art in general, but even I must admit the visionary art museum shows up nicely what modern art lacks. The Hirshhorn has intellect. Avam has soul. In the Hirshhorn, I find myself thinking "That's really cool. But I don't quite get it." In AVAM, I think "Damn."

And this is coming from me.

I hate people who wax on about the emotional having greater value than the intellectual.

I like my art intellectual, too. My tour of the modern wing of the National Gallery has won wide acclaim from my friends, except my linguist friend who is always trying to decamp to the renaissance.

Yet even an INTP admits these postcards have soul, even if, as people tend to point out, some of them are likely fake. To which I respond: So what? A Confederacy of Dunces didn't really happen either. It's a masterpiece because you read the book and you feel like it happened to you. (Aside: The stresses in my life have me considering therapy. The problem with that is my requirements for a therapist are as lengthy as the job description that produced Mary Poppins and five times as complex. Question numero uno in the initial session would be "What did you think of Confederacy of Dunces? " Answers of "What's that?" or "It was hilarious!" would save both me and the no-longer-potential-therapist lots of time. Don't get me wrong, my issues are nothing to Ignatius' But someone who can understand him on some useful level and feel for him has an excellent start on me at my worst. And besides, you probably have to be well-read enough to have read it to get my jokes.)

Anyway, I see these postcards and they produce emotion. My unofficial test of whether something is art is whether I look at it and it inspires me to go create something. These postcards do.

Are they confessional? Not, I think, in a useful theological sense.

But they are something better.

I think they take universal human emotion and they make something out of it. Like Philip Lopate twisting paranoia into a fabulously snarky poem.

When I initially found the site, I wondered if all this talk about art was just me rationalizing my own thirst for gossip and other people's pain. Then somebody on Peacebang's blog pointed me to which held my attention for two minutes tops.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Quote of the Day

"And I asked the Lord, "Lord, why have you forsaken me?". But there was silence. So , I asked again, "Lord, WHY have you forsaken me??", and there was silence. So I asked again, "LORD, WHY have you forsaken me??"..... and this great booming voice said "Geez, I don't know Travis, I guess something about you just chaps at my ass."

--I'm having a big pedantic argument about The Night the the Lights went out in Georgia with my neighbor PG (no, really, we share a metro stop), and I was googling the song and it turns out there was a 1981 movie based on the title, and Dennis Quaid says that in the movie.

La la la!

CC is in an irrepressible good mood today, for no reason more apparent than she's having a good day at work.

Her bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne. (Which sounded way less dirty when Shakespere wrote it about Romeo.)

Just wanted to share the random cheerfulness.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Attention Legally-Inclined Amigos

Anybody got access to the LA superior court database and want to help a girl out?

(The pay-five-bucks-and-search-over-the-web version is busted, I already tried it)

A close friend needs to know if a relative asking for money is really in the criminal trouble he claims he is.

If the relative had gotten busted in CC's beloved Fairfax County, VA, the info would be free. (It wouldn't let me link to my brother's record, but you know I tried.)

If it costs you a few bucks, I can paypal it to you or just buy you all white meat and a biscuit at the DC-area KFC of your choice.

Shoot me an email at


Apologies, Apologies

Maybe it's just that I'm squirrelly today, and Goodness knows I am, but does making companies admit their historical ties to slavery seem like a bit much to you?

It's recent enough that I can see getting pissy with companies that benefited from the Nazis. *Cough* IBM *cough*

But I'm not sure what relevance these 150-year-old sins have.


How does Nora Ephron suck? Let me count the ways...

She's totally unfunny, first of all.

And you have to suck pretty hard to sound like you're name dropping when talking about your own ex-husband, yet she manages it somehow.

And the when I have a secret that is critically important to my husband's career, I know I always tell a loudmouth twelve-year-old who blows it to the kids at summer camp. I guess when it's your ex-husband, that's ok, right Nora?

And her simpering know-it-all tone...

And, well, read it yourselves.


Just Grr.

who advises Meg Ryan get Neal Patrick Shanley to write all of her future movies.

Ps. Turns out AlterNet hates her too. And in much greater length and detail.

*Edited after I reread her peice and found myself hating her anew.*
*Edited again after PSC sent me the Alternet link*

CC's anti-kid tendencies rear themselves

Want to be creeped out?

Go read this. Yeah, there's a commercial if you're not a Salon Premium Member

Neal Pollack, who is strangely hurting for money given his relative success, had his kid in a daycare program. Recently, the kid was "fired" because he was running around biting the other kids.

He was drawing blood, y'all.

Yet all Neal Pollack seems concerned about is the effect having the kid home will have on his work.

Now, I'll repeat that I wouldn't know good parenting if it came up and bit me on the ass, but this doesn't sound like it. What particularly creeped me out is that the story relates that the biting focused on one little girl, Sophie. (What is it about the name "Sophie" that evokes a skinny, delicate, large-eyed Eastern European girl? Absolutely not a person one could stand to see bitten.)

That he whines a lot is no shocker. I'm no stranger to inadvertantly displaying unattractive qualities on the internet.

But his complete and total disregard for the other kids, and the position his kid put the daycare workers in with the other kids' parents, is really disturbing.

One sentance of real concern. It would have taken seconds to type and would have changed my opinion of Pollack and his article immensely.

It wasn't there.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Curse my smart and interesting friends.

CC has a bad habit of befriending and bloquaintancing professors and ministers.

Never does she feel this more deeply than late spring. Right now, Ministrare readies himself for rest. CC’s linguist friend is planning a road trip to LA. CC’s smart friend Pam is in Florida. Joe the mathematician has seen the star wars movie innumerable times, and Margaret-who-knows-about-pots is no doubt off to Mexico soon. Peacebang’s biggest complaint is that when she goes to Italy to drink gelato every day, she has to pay extra as to not share a hotel room.

Meanwhile, CC called 120 (literally) lobbyists today, trying to persuade them to attend a function for a certain New England congressman who can’t seem to keep himself out of the newspaper.

Right up until the June 30th FEC deadline, she will be throwing fundraisers and working her tail off trying to get promised campaign contributions in. After that, there’s fundraisers for everybody who decided to put off their fundraisers until right before summer recess.

Duing summer recess, we update the database (the least fun work we do all year) and prepare for fall, when, historically, every client we have decides to throw a major fundraiser in the middle two weeks of September.

Not that being a professor or minister isn’t hard work. It is. Probably way harder than planning parties.

But still, y’all suck.


Well, that clears it up.

We are not without resources here at the Chaliceblog.

CC, in fact, is close buds with an actual Bureau of Labor Statistics Economist. The only pagan economist she knows, Voodoo Economics jokes unwelcome.

Asked for comment on the Okrent/Krugman situation (and totally unaware that her answer would be blogged), CC's friend responded:

My first inclination was to respond "who
cares." Then I thought that was a bit too harsh so I thought of the more
studious but ultimately smarmy response; "we at BLS are used to having our
numbers manipulated." Ultimately I went with a "c'est la vie" response:
"Mon dieu...z people ze la...when there is z wine, life, love to la"

Heard it here first, kids.


On second thought.

It does sort of suck that the Washington Post kept Deep Throat's secret all these years, and he chose to come out in Vanity Fair without even telling the Post what was coming.

I mean, call it loyalty to my home town paper, but that doesn't seem sporting.

And Vanity Fair is the publication of choice for people who are cashing in. (Witness Monica Lewinsky)

Woodward's concern that the guy is senile and his family is just making money off of him is truly depressing.


Am I right here?

I said this to my linguist friend on Friday, and I'm still thinking over whether I'm right:

"Race issues are inherently much more difficult than gay rights issues because gay rights boils down to 'treat everybody the same,' but for race issues 'treat everybody the same' is just the beginning."