Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Blogging

So we're at Ryan and Evelyn's house hanging out with Kurt and waiting for Tim and Stacy.

We will probably play stupid card games and perhaps Arkham Horror, CC's new second favorite board game. (Lovecraftian, Freakishly addictive, good stuff. But still not as cool as scrabble.)

Such geekness. We found out earlier that there are five laptops for five people at the party as the CSO, Kurt and I all brought ours.

But I'm the only one blogging.

Further updates until the teasing becomes too merciless.


CC answers the Seven Meme

A. Seven things to do before I die
1. Write that novel.
2. Figure out way to reverse T-cell receptors
3. Negotiate settlement between Palestine and Israel
4. Save baby from burning building
5. Develop Cold Fusion
6. Take award-winning photographic series of old ladies that redefines society’s standard of beauty.
7. Loose some weight as to leave a better-looking corpse.

B. Seven things I cannot do
1. Diet
2. Keep my house neat.
3. Paint as well as I want to, I just don’t have the fine motor control to copy what’s in my head.
4. Understand physics as well as someone who has had calculus.
5. Dance
6. Meditate without starting to think about sex or falling asleep.
7. Completely stop swearing, though I’m trying.

C. Seven things that attract me to ...
1. My husband: his fabulous ability to talk to me for hours about anything
2. My friends: Their brilliance and how much I learn from them
3. Houses full of books: Hiding from the world with a shell of books around me.
4. Ministers: their thoughtfulness.
5. Professors: their understanding of my lust for books
6. Cats: their independent natures.
7. Photography: The chance to show other people the world as I see it.

D. Seven things I say most often
1. “Well, there is that”
2. “Well, I, for one…”
3. “It’s just me talking, but…’
4. “I like (first thing), (second thing), not so much.”
5. “I heart (thing)”
6. “Wanna go out for dinner?”
7. “Say something interesting”

E. Seven books (or series or genres or topics) that I love
1. Robertson Davies’ Leaven of Malice, What’s Bred in the Bone and World of Wonders , especially, but really everything he has ever written.
2. The Oxford companion to..well, pretty much anything.
3. George Eliot’s Middlemarch
4. Mysteries, especially those with really smart female detectives. (Margaret Maron especially.)
5. Oliver Sacks’ books about abnormal psychology.
6. Lisa Alther’s books about women.
7. Anything about Richard Feynman or Katharine Hepburn, both of whom fascinate me.

F. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time)
1. The Philadelphia Story
2. Tea with Mussolini
3. Joe vs. the Volcano
4. Cold Comfort Farm
5. UHF
6. Primary Colors
7. Radioland Murders

Friday, December 30, 2005

Oh, ick

Charlotte Allen, at Lynne Cheney's favorite website The Independent Women's forum, talks about how King Kong is "her kind of guy."

Apparently, that white capitalist folks sometimes exploit people is a shock to Allen. I'm fairly conservative as my friends go and even I wouldn't deny that one.

Allen apparently wants to perform cartwheels to amuse her strong powerful man, as Naomi Watts does for Kong rather than doing dull stuff like, oh, talking to him as she does with Brody.



Do activists realize they come off as morons when they do these things?

A 19-year-old kid who works for PETA has legally changed his name to

The best part of the article is: "People don't believe me at first when I tell them my name, but it never fails to spark a discussion," Garnett, er,, said in a statement. "Many vow to boycott KFC after I explain the company's indifference to cruelty to animals."

I can't imagine anyone seriously doubts that these "discussions" are monologues that end when someone says "OK, OK, I'll boycott."

I don't understand why people do these things.


Better living through UUism

Like PB, The CSO and I are magazine junkies. Our taste in magazines differs from hers, but the principle is the same.

The basket of magazines in our bathroom is pretty full. I was cleaning it out yesterday and found the Oct. 30 edition of the New York Times magazine. They had an article on Dave Ramsey, a christian debt counselor. Ramsey himself seems like a good guy and his financial policies are similar to TheCSO's financial ideas. It strikes me as a good sign that his site doesn't take credit cards.

I've never been a big fan of "Christian" businesses. If I were a Christian, people using my faith to advertise their businesses would really offend me. Even as an Ex-Christian, it offends me. It doesn't really happen up here, but when I lived in the bible belt, gas stations with large signs that said "Jesus is lord" were common. I tried to stick to chains that were a little less offensive in their advertising. Can you imagine the Jesus you've read about being even remotely OK with businesses using him to advertise? Me neither. Talk about money changers in the temple.

But what Ramsey is doing is a different deal. There's a lot to be said for Christian self-help, actually. To take Ramsey's example, I'm pretty sure Jesus would have had a big issue with credit card companies (who are admittedly money changers in a more literal sense than southern gas station owners) that prey on the poor, and his followers supporting them by getting into debt.

To be honest, when I've had money problems, and they've always been comparitively small ones, nothing has eaten away at my peace of mind like worries about making my car payment. It really is a spiritual drain. How can I focus on living a good life when I'm full of worries about survival?

Sort of the opposite of Teyve surmising:

If I were rich I'd have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern Wall
And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men
Seven hours ev'ry day
And that would be the sweetest thing of all

Or as Ramsey puts it:

What could the People of God do for the Kingdom of God if they were DEBT FREE?

The more I read, the more I think Dave Ramsey is doing a really good thing for his faith. I am less impressed with other forms of Christian self-help. The Maker's Diet, for example.

And I wonder what UUs could be doing with all of this. After all, is there a religion better suited to writing self-help books than one that makes it clear that, whatever you believe about God, it is our religious and moral duty to taked care of one another? In a religion where collectively we can assume nothing about God, we're left with the conclusion that the only thing we can be sure of is one another. To live as moral beings and to reach out to others as moral beings is really our only option.

What our sermons may lack in theological complexity, they often make up in a certian moral clarity that I consider uniquely UUism's. We must assume that God does not hate all the same people we do, and that if there is justice to be found, we have to try to find it on earth. Your problems are mostly because of things you've done, but you mostly have the power to fix them.

I find much of what is in self-help books to be sort of simplistic, but sometimes simplistic advice is what you need. Most people have the jist of "Eat vegetables and exercise and you will lose weight," though that isn't advice that is very easy to follow, at least not for me. Still, there's a UU diet in there someplace.

But I like the idea even better for other forms of self help. Relationship books for example. I had a friend once who seriously needed to hear "If you always talk about your husband like he's a moron and brag to your girlfriends about how you deny him sex, you probably shouldn't be so surprised that your marriage has problems." She had no clue. A better friend than I was would have told her, but I was pretty young at the time and not confident that I knew what I was talking about. Turns out, I did, and my policy of talking about the CSO with respect has had a big payoff in the sort of trusting relationship that I really don't think someone who regularly makes fun of their spouse in front of casual acquaintances can possibly have. Sex problems and money problems don't kill marriages. Contempt kills marriages.

I think the first UU self-help book might be "The Top Ten Signs You're a Jerk--and how to fix yourself." It could include chapters like "Are you funny or mean?:A quiz for potentially hurtful wiseasses" or "Are you honest or self-absorbed?:a quiz for people who talk about their feelings all the time" etc, etc and soforth.

Other titles: "Grow Up! The Challenges of the first few years after college graduation and how to face them like an adult," "Happily Ever After, how to be a good spouse in a modern marriage," etc.

There's money to be made here, kids.


Ps. My interview yesterday went well. If they don't hire me, they had another candidate who was very good. This is likely the case though, as there was a lot of competition.

Mistakes worth making?

I know that I'm supposed to feel like this kid is stupid for running off to Iraq, but I have actually always admired kids who did stuff like this.

As a teenager, I had the same impulsiveness, belief in my own immortality and desire to get out of my house and see the world. I never did anything half so interesting with it.


Thursday, December 29, 2005

CC on the Philocrites thread

A few things about my the "theology from the pulpit" discussion on Philocrites.

  • Peacebang's assertion UNTIL laypeople decide amongst themselves to support theological studies, it's not going to happen. We work for you. You are our employers. did not ring true with me. Call me an optimist, but I tend to think that a minister is far more like a doctor. You don't "fire" your doctor in any useful sense of the word, and unless you're an idiot, you don't stop going to him because he tells you things you don't want to hear. I'm sure some people don't like it when ministers go too heavily into theology at times, but does one really lose one's ministry for such things?

  • As far as I can tell, "I would be so much better at my job if only I could (take this class/attend this conference/buy this book) but my employer won't pay for it" is a near-universal complaint among working people. Most places I've worked for didn't even entertain the idea of such things. One place said they would send me to a training class I felt I could use in leiu of a larger raise. And then they didn't do it. I think in my next job, my policy will be that if I think I would be a more effective employee if I took a class, I will take the time off and pay for it myself.

    That said, I didn't need a $60,000 education to do any of the jobs I've had, so maybe the deal is different for ministers. Yet, judging by the Dilbert books, engineers have the same complaint. And two friends of mine who are in education (one of them a principal) came to a conference in DC on their own dime, having gotten only two days off for free from their schools.
  • I love the idea of a journal directed toward theology's "intelligent end-users" (a computer geek term for people who can't program computers, but are really good with the programs they use.) I would read it and support it.

  • Parisa said something really wonderful when she wrote:
    I think that real theological engagement is an iterative project, one that needs both intellect and experience to give it meaning. So it would be great to have more ministers have the time and wherewithal to write theological treatises, but I think the most important project we have before us is engaging our congregations meaningfully in their own exploration of meaning. And IMHO that's where the expectation of participation in adult RE and small group experiences are where it's at.

    I would diagnose our problem not as the lack of a common theology, but an avoidance of theology altogether. We have on the whole become products of our culture that likes to spew pablum instead of really wrestling with meaning, especially the tough places where smart, well-intentioned people (in agreement about core "principles") may have experiences that have led them to widely divergent ways of making meaning. I'd like our congregations to be models of wrestling deeply with meaning, starting with not shying away from talking about God or the lack thereof. Right now I don't think they are, and I think both ministers and laity bear responsibility for that. We also suffer for it.

    I agree with all of that.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lessons learned from Judge Judy

I was climbing stairs at the gym today and Judge Judy was on. I figured that it was better than some shows I could be watching. Anyway, the guy suing was a restaurant manager who had struck up a friendship with a much younger female employee and made a series of loans to her. He was suing to get his money back.

Judge Judy's attitude surprised me. She said that a person who loaned money to someone who made no attempt to pay it back had no reasonable expectation that further loans would be repaid. I assume the law is written this way or she couldn't have ruled like that, but it's certainly not the way I normally think.

Probably it's an approach I should use more, though.

(e.g. If I have a friend who criticizes me constantly, I have no reasonable expectation that she will stop. I can be friends and put up with the criticism or I can not be friends and be free of it, but assuming she will stop because I asked her to is unreasonable, especially if I've tried asking her to before and it hasn't worked.)

Food for thought for one who tends to misplace her loyalty and trust a little too easily.


Ps. I have a third-round interview tomorrow for a job I'd really like. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

"What? Candy is tasty!"

As I drove up from Charlotte, theCSO read me the really interesting Philocrites discussion about seeking definition for UUism. I have many fine and fascinating things to say about it, none of which I feel like getting into right now as I'm pretty beat from the drive.

Somewhere around Staunton, Virginia, Manfred Mann's The Mighty Quinn came up on the XM radio.

I mentioned how as a kid, I'd wopndered what the song was about but assumed that it was a heroic eskimo. TheCSO suggested "Quinn the Eskimo" was a sideshow attraction. The Wikipedia entry suggested it was about drugs.

This inspired a long discussion about several songs, the most hotly debated of which was I Want Candy, a song CC had heard was about heroin. The literal-minded CSO was convinced that it was, in fact, about candy.

TheCSO and CC know almost nothing of illegal drugs or drug culture, so please, clue us in:

and while we're at it:

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Even CC takes the day off

Today during the Christmas Service at the UU church I was visiting, the congregation's cheif anarchist handed out pamphlets about the anarchist view of the situation in the middle east.

And I did not say one word.

Merry Christmas, Unitarian Universalism.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Kinda weird to see somebody else blogging my Christmas

The CSO and I are the friends mentioned here.

Tongiht, I ended up giving a rude lady the bitchface.

I was coming out of a big chain store and the cashier told me Happy Holidays.

"Yeah, you too..." I muttered.

So far so good. But she said "Happy Holidays" to the next lady in line, who responded "And Merry Christmas to you!" in a snappish tone of voice.

So rude lady got the bitchface.

Well deserved.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

I dub thee "The FuglyChalice"

I heartily agree with Cogit8tions and Heresiology. That new UUA logo is not attractive. says "The new UUA logo is designed to convey the idea of light emanating from the flame, or illumination."

The message this almost-cross conveys to me is "See! We're like Christians, but, you know, not!" Not cool. The new symbol would be hard to draw and I hate that the bottom of the chalice glows just as much as the top part with fire on it. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but that's just stupid.

It kind of suggests an eye, but mostly looks weirdly old. The chalice itself looks OK, but the glowing stuff around it has to go.

Indrax's idea points out that the symbol of a religion and the symbol of a denomination aren't the same thing. E.g. The symbol of Christianity is a cross. The symbol of the Presbyterian Church USA, is this cross:

Indrax said a symbol of a faith should be something that is easy to draw. He and Jamie Goodwin of Trivium came up with a teardrop-and-partial-oval thingy that looks like this:

Looks OK to me as an informal symbol. But that doesn't change the fact that the new UUA logo, which I'm sure somebody worked really hard on, is derivative and not cool. Cogit8tions' comparison to a decades-old bank logo seems quite apt.

I find myself asking this often of the UUA. Can't we do better?


Still more cheesy pop culture blogging

What the heck, I'm on vacation.


  • Utah Whitney once told me that I look like Juliette Lewis. As I'm watching Juliette Lewis host a VH1 special while I wrap Christmas presents, I do not believe that I look like her. I do sort of talk like her and make similar facial expressions, though. It's sort of creepy to look at her and note how I would look and come off if I were hip.

    Ah well.

  • Some lady from US Weekly just whined "It's like Meatloaf's I would do anything for Love, but I won't do that video. You never find out what THAT is..."

    In googling the lyrics, I discovered the Wikipedia Article also maintains that we can't know what "That" is.

    Weird. Seems very obvious to me from the lyrics in the end:

    [Woman:] After a while you'll forget everything
    It was a brief interlude and a midsummer night's fling
    And you'll see that it's time to move on

    [Meatloaf:] I won't do that! No I won't do that!

    [Woman:] I know the territory, I've been around
    It'll all turn to dust and we'll all fall down
    And sooner or later, you'll be screwing around

    [Meatloaf:] I won't do that! No I won't do that!

    So the message is: I would do anything for love, except love someone who isn't you.

    Sounds reasonable enough to me. If I knew how to change the Wiki article, I would.

  • Madonna's new retro-70s look is really sort of cute.

  • The Pussycat Dolls is a former burlesque troupe who are now pop singers. The first time I walked into the new Victoria's Secret flagship store near my house, the Pussycat Dolls' first single, "Don'tcha wish your girlfriend was HOT like ME" was playing. I will forever associate the two. It's a stupid song and the band continues my tradition of liking bands with stupid names. (I really like the Butthole Surfers' music, but have real trouble saying their name.)

  • Weezer should let theCSO and I hang out with them. We would really fit in.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dueling Fortunes

The CSO and I got these fortunes at dinner tonight. The second one was mine, and is usually my approach.


Really funny post on The Price is Right

I did some googling to look into this whole "Diane suing for sexual harassmet" thing Jeff told me about and I found a this really funny blog post about the Price is Right.

And I even forgive him for dissing Judge Judy, who is hilarious in theory though I don't actually watch her.


From the desk of CC


re: Question about Domestic Violence and Marriage

This website uses the conclusions drawn by your "top ten myths of marriage" study in a "true/false" quiz.

I'm a little bit disturbed by how they use some of them, however.

For question six, they write:

True or False: Getting married increases a woman's chance of being abused.

Citing your study as proof, they answer:

False: Living together without the commitment and structure of marriage is frequently associated with a higher risk of domestic violence for women.

My concern is that the message here could reasonably be interpreted as "If only my boyfriend had the committment and structure of marriage, he'd stop hitting me. So I should marry him." I don't get this impression from the way you word it on your page, where you are more upfront about the shades of gray involved in this conclusion.

Do you think the way they use your conclusions is reasonable?



Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CC investigates "The Price is Right"

As TheCSO and I were getting dressed this morning, I flipped on the TV to check on the NY Transit strike and ended up watching "The Price is Right." I'd watched it all the time with the ChaliceGrandmother as a kid and it was weird to see it again.

Bob Barker had brown hair when I watched.

The odd thing was, they never seemed to do a closeup of any of "Barker's Beauties" (Does he still call them that? He did in 1987.)

At first I wondered if it was because they were the same girls. Like Vanna White, perhaps Diane and Holly had been allowed to age with the show.

I checked the Price as Right website, which, oddly enough, exists.

Doesn't look like they've kept the same girls. Well, that sucks.

The did have an FAQ where people from all over America write in to say:

I saw the show today and was wanting to know where I could purchase the 5 piece dinette I saw. I believe it was called cosmopolitan 5 piece dinette set but I am not for sure. It had a stainless bottom and 5 different colored chairs. Any information would be appreciated.

And answers are provided.



Scenes from a Church Bazaar:A photo essay

Lest anyone should suggest that this whole Apprentice controversy wasn’t good for Trumpy…

We checked into the Hampton Inn in Staunton, VA on our way down south for Christmas. I popped on CNN.

Rebecca and Randall and Trump are on Larry King.

OK, OK, I’ll stop it with the Apprentice now.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Decorations that Scare Me

I've been trying not to be snarky about Christmas this year, but today I was at the mall and saw potential for a photo essay.

Scariest Mannequin Ever

Uh, MC Hammer called...

Mom! Daddy's sitting in front of the Christmas Tree and staring again...

Could someone explain rubber canned fruit to me please?

Bring me the head of Santa!

It was a snowy night in Bethlehem...

How very American

Yeah, I went there.

And finally, a sight that should scare any thinking person...


More Complete Review of King Kong

First off, I hope nobody actually went to King Kong on the basis of my mid-movie recommendation. I kind of doubt anyone did, though, as it is the sort of movie that you either really want to see or really don’t and I doubt other people’s opinions have much to do with your decision.

(E.g. I told Linguist Friend about it yesterday, saying

“King Kong really wasn’t all that good. I’d wait for the DVD.”

“Yeah,” he thoughtfully replied “I should really go see that while it's still playing up here.”)

What’s interesting is that the the Salon review makes much of the fact that the story is a romance. That was on my mind as I watched the previews, which were all action movie previews.

I found myself agreeing with whoever had made that decision. It is an adventure movie, not a romance. I’ve been in love, and I’ve several times felt deep affection and pity for someone whom I don’t think is really suited to function in society and who manages to take problems that aren’t his fault and make them much, much worse. Those feelings are very different, and the second is not romantic at all.

As I emailed from my phone during the first hour, the first hour of this movie IS very good. It is reminiscent of Shadow of the Vampire, one of my all time favorite movies, and really does a nice job giving one the feel of an era. Jack Black is really good in his role, reminding me a little bit of Eddie Izzard’s portrayal of Charlie Chaplain in “Cat’s Eye,” another of my favorite movies. Adrian Brody is indeed sexy. I've always liked men with large noses and he will forevermore serve as an example to point out to large-nosed male friends who are feeling insecure.

But by the second hour, it really was an action movie and action movies really aren’t my thing. I am aware that there is no politically-correct way to portray murderous natives. That said, I squirmed. The scene where the brontosauruses fall over each other is truly bitchin' and makes just about every action sequence after it seem anticlimactic. The face-suckers from “Aliens” were a weird addition to an island where every other creature was fairly realistic and Kong really only needed to save Ann from one Tyrannosaurus to make the point, watching him beat up five of them was frankly a little much.

I am sure that Peter Jackson’s battle sequences where you can’t tell what’s going on for ten to fifteen minutes at a time are very realistic. I find them kind of dull to watch though.

What struck me most about the movie was how cold it left me. I felt no chemistry between Ann and Kong and Kong’s death at the end of the movie left me thinking “Ah well, movie’s over” more than anything else.

This is funny to me because Friday night, I was meeting Jennifer at her/my/our hair salon, where she was getting her hair done by Joe the Hair guy. He wasn’t done, so I sat down in the next chair and the three of us talked about how she and I were going to the movie. I explained that theChaliceSignificantOther had a long week at work and wasn’t up to seeing the monkey die.

Joe snorted and mildly made fun of TheCSO. A straight male hairdresser rarely passes up the chance to point out how some other guy is not properly masculine.

“On come on,” I said, “He’s just not in the mood for something depressing. But on Christmas eve, we will be in town with his best friend and I’m going to church. Maybe they will go see it then.”

“Well, yeah” Joe said “Can’t take him to church. I mean, Jesus dies in the end.”

Probably looses something in the retelling, but it was quite funny at the time.

Anyway, theCSO changed his mind and ended up going, and the movie ended up being not nearly so wrenching as we had expected. A good spectacle though, and might be worth seeing just for that.


My genteel home town

Where even the vandals self-censor.

(Picture taken outside our local Boston Market.)


A conservative UU blog

I had lunch with BITB last week, and we bored our significant others with talk of the blogosphere.

Wouldn't it be nice, one of us, possibly me said, if there were some blogs by politically conservative UUs.

I recall mentioning my fondness for The Modo blog and saying how sorry I was that Joel Monka doesn't have a blog.

Anyway, I stumbled across Early Riser and that also seems to fit the bill as a good conservative blog, although it is pretty new.

I've been keeping my eyes open for new blogs and will try to highlight them.

I'm starting to think that a UU Blog Carnival not unlike The Carnival of Feminists or a collaborative version of my old blog reviews at CoffeeHour, might be a really good thing for the UU blogosphere.

Anybody up for it?

I'll host the first one if other people sound into it.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Complex Issue of Hymen Reconstructive Surgery

The Happy Feminist is one of several feminist blogs writing about hymen reconstruction surgery. Apparently, this procedure, where a woman pays some $5,000 to have her hymen restored, though the article points out that you can get it for $1,800 at a place in Queens.

(I'm sorry, but no part of "Let's get plasic surgery on our genital regions done in at a place in Queens, it's cheaper there!" sounds like a good idea.)

Anyway, this article has a lot of background on the issue, including the story of a woman who did pay $5,000 to give her husband a night with a virgin. I asked the CSO and he said he'd rather have the 5k as a down payment on Miata. Smart man.

Tightening of the vaginal walls strikes me as, like penile implants, sort of silly but basically harmless.

One aspect of hymen replacment that the article overlooks is that hymen restoration does sometimes have great therapeutic value for rape victims. Skeptical as I am about the surgery in general, that does seem to be a significant use for it.


What? I LIKE Mistletoe...

You Are Vixen

Sexy and sultry, you're the one all the other reindeer dream about.

Why You're Naughty: That fur pulling spat you got into with Dancer over Santa.

Why You're Nice: Because even when you're nice, you're still delightfully naughty!

Some people...

I claim to dislike kids, but as I sit in the 11PM showing of an
obviously scary movie and hear the cries of a little kid, I must
admit I dislike bad parents more.



"And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy
was nothing but anarchy and sloth."

--Norman Juster's "The Dot and the Line"

mid-movie king kong review

An hour in, so far no monkey.

GOOD movie so far though.

Reminds me of "shadow of the vampire"

Naiomi Watts' beauty is timeless.



"And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy
was nothing but anarchy and sloth."

--Norman Juster's "The Dot and the Line"

Friday, December 16, 2005

Funny stuff CC and CSO talked about during the Apprentice Finale (Part 1)

I rearranged these to put them in order

(We’re rooting for Rebecca, BTW. CC has been rooting for Rebecca and Alla since early on.)

-It would kick ass to be the reality show editors. This show would be totally unwatchable were it not for the behind-the-scenes geniuses who play a Trumpet fanfare whenever Trump enters the room. Snark, sweet snark.

-Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a reality show that was a competition for reality show editors? The contestants could all be chubby nerds in Star Trek shirts who could compete to see who could make the funniest cut of the same footage? I would watch.

-That Chanel commercial with Nicole Kidman is gorgeous.

-People who think that for someone to ask for money at a fundraiser is tacky, are unclear on the concept of “fundraiser.” Actually, judging by the scene some old ladies made when they actually had to PAY for a wine tasting at a church fundraiser last year, LOTS of people are unclear on the concept of “fundraiser.” That said, that the clients told Rebecca not to fundraise is not at all Rebecca’s fault.

-Given all Trumpy says he has given to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS foundation, one would think they could afford some signage. That they didn’t provide any is not Rebecca’s fault.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Cold and rainy night

The calendar says it isn't winter yet, but mother nature didn't get the memo. There's snow on the ground and it is 34 degrees outside. According to Sue Palka the weather lady, the wind and rain makes it feel like 26 degrees. Sounds about right.

My cat Boris hurt his paw on Monday. I took him to the vet, the vet said it was a sprain and to give him painkillers.

I went to give him his painkiller tonight and couldn't find him. After extensive search, I found that he had nosed open a basement window.

He's escaped from the house plenty of times before and always come back. TheCSO isn't convinced that he's gone since Boris has been known to hide in the drop celing of the basement.

But I'm pretty sure Boris is out somewhere on this cold wet night.

I've gone outside and called for him several times, no luck.

Boris will be back, I'm pretty certain.

But thinking about him has me thinking of the people who have no place to go tonight.

I'm going to go call that cat again.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Does anybody here know how to open up a legal defense fund?

It would be nice to have one for Cory Maye and his public defender is willing to help set it up.

I'd give.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sad to say,I'm with the giant puppets on this one.

I suspect that most of my readership doesn't really need a new reason to be upset about the Patriot Act.

But what the hey...

According to the Washington Post, the ACLU is publicizing its objections to a portion of the Patriot Act expanding the power of the Secret Service to keep order at demonstrations, "keeping order" being defined as keeping protesters out of restricted areas. (Something I've observed the cops seem to do a good job of doing already.)

You can read the objections for yourself here.

Now, to be fair, Arlen Specter says it really just clarifies the issue, and Arlen Specter is generally a good guy.

That said, this seems to open things a bit too widely for abuse and needs to be reworded.


Yet another kickass blog by a UU

Happy Feminist mostly writes about her work and feminist issues rather that religion, but I'm still a happy girl to have her in the blogosphere.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Lighting a candle, not cursing the darkness

Radley Balko is not a UU sort of guy, at least in the political sense.

He's a libertarian, first off. He seems to agree with the my opinions on Walmart that have gotten a mixed reception here. He is a crusader against Washington DC's smoking ban and he even works for Cato.

That said, he is right now doing something far more meaningful than waving a "Fuck Bush" poster or telling people who disagree with him how "sick" they are for not believing everything Micheal Moore has to say.

He's asking some good questions about a death penalty case in Mississippi where a guy seems to be seriously getting shafted. And prosecutors are listening, even responding to his blog posts.

Radley tells it best, but to give you a summary, it appears that the police in Prentiss, Mississippi had a warrant to raid a guy's house in the middle of the night. What they didn't know, and didn't bother to find out, was that said house was a duplex. When they raided the other side of the duplex, where Cory Maye lived with his 18-moth old daughter. Maye heard people breaking into his house and shot at them, killing a police officer. Maye is now on death row.

Judging by his blog, Balko has a streak of Nancy Drew to him. (This is totally a compliment. Nancy Drew has no greater fan than CC.) He has called people on both sides of the case and has promised to post a Pdf of the search warrant as soon as his copy arrives.

As far as I can tell, Balko basically started this.

It hasn't hit the mainstream press yet, but if Instapundit cares, real attention can't be far behind.

If every time we were thinking of making a giant puppet or bitching at someone who disagrees with us, we tried to actually right a wrong instead, the world would be better for it.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Maybe they were kidding

Another thing that interests me is how people always take historical quotations at face value.

For one example, Robin Edgar recently quoted P.T. Barnum in saying "More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much."

The quote itself is nothing unreasonable. I don't agree with him as my spiritual method is to start with believing in nothing, and then see what the evidence your life presents forces you to believe. If you're not believing in much, to my thinking, you might just be early in the process, while if you're believing too much, you haven't started yet. I'm sure a lot of fine people agree with him, though.

But P.T. Barnum made his living by never underestimating the credulousness of the American people. He claimed to have mermaid's remains, after all.

Maybe when he talks about lack of belief being a bad thing, he has his own agenda. It would have been a bad thing for his bottom line, after all.

Similarly, every hippie I've ever known has brought up Nixon saying that the vietnam war protests really made a difference.

So the most famously treacherous president in American history had a moment of candor and told people that a practice of his opponents' that some argue makes them look stupid and alienates people from their cause, was actually something that made a difference in his decision-making when he made decisions that seem to fit well with his overall approach to foreign policy anyway, and we believe him?

So now we have hippies who think that getting on the news with a giant "Fuck Bush,' sign "really makes a difference" all because Richard Nixon said so.

I think he's right.

As old ladies, young families and religious people who don't like war see what antiwar protesters look like, they turn off their televisions and abandon any thought of joining the movement.

It does make a difference. Exactly the difference a Republican would want.

But every protester to ever mention it quoted that line to me straight, as if there was no possible way that Richard Nixon could have been anything less that downright candid when he said it.

It's not like he was a famous weasel or anything.


CC reccommends

"Gah," said the beautiful woman said to her friend at the party. "I try to date, but all the men are jerks."

"Have you tried dating an engineer?" I asked, because she's my friend too. "They are sweet, smart, and lots of them are funny. You know that your kids will study hard and get scholarships to college..."

"Yeah," she said in a voice totally devoid of enthusiasm. "I should really try that..."

"OK, so they're not big partiers... but they can fix things..."

Now admittedly, I am biased. TheCSO and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary two weeks ago, and the sixth anniversary of the first time we umm... became involved on December 6. The CSO is a systems engineer.*

I, of course, love the CSO. I think he's great.

But it fascinates me that I know several really beautiful girls looking for guys, but all my cloest male friends are nerds so they won't date them.


*People have commented that theCSO resembles Patricia Arquette's husband on Medium both physically and in the way he and his wife interact. He's playing an engineer.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Trying to be a socially responsible sexy person

A really interesting comment on the Target post got me thinking.

Where CAN one buy socially responsible underwear?

Pepsi, Pixar, FedEx and Weight Watchers all make the lists of socially responsible companies but no place to buy underwear makes this list or any of the similar ones I found.

So perhaps we'll try process of elimination.

  • I'll concede that Walmart isn't the place to go for this.
  • Target is indeed just as bad or almost as bad as Walmart by most social responsibility indexes. Which is too bad because their Gilligan O'Malley line manages to be lacy without being prissy.
  • Victoria's Secret (which has a new flagship store right near me, something that really deserves a post of its own) is owned by Limited Brands. They are currently being boycotted because they Send too many catalogues I have to wonder if any of the people behind this are on libereal-beloved L.L. Bean's mailing list, because I am and damn, I think I get something from them every two days. If you consider giving to Republicans a sign of social irresponsibility (which I don't really, but some people who post here seem to) Limited Brands gives 73 percent of its PAC money to Republicans, a higher percentage than WalMart.
  • Frederick's of Hollywood gets a lot of its undies from a company called Gelmart that is notorious for nasty labor practices.
  • Leggs, Hanes, Gossard, Loveable, Bali and Wonderbra are owned by Sara Lee. Sara Lee seems to be a better choice on the whole, especially if you're pro-Isreal and.or for gun control. That said, gay rights folks are justifiably peeved about this billboard. But a fair amount of their stuff is still produced in East Asia.

It's a rough ol' life, trying to make a better world.

who swears she only spent half an hour or so on this.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How sad.

The Air Marshalls at Miami Int'l Airport just shot a guy.

Judging by what I've heard and read, it was a clean shooting as the guy claimed to have a bomb and was running toward the cops while reaching into a bag, but Fox News is reporting that the guy was traveling with a woman who says he was manic-depressive and off his medication.

CSI did this plot roughly a two years ago.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Avoiding the Target

So why is it that some big box stores are OK?

There’s a store out there that give some 70 percent of its political contributions to Republicans.

They buy lots of goods that are cheaply made overseas.

In rural stores, they start their employees out at a little over minimum wage and they frequently show up on lists of large employers with the largest numbers of people on state assistance programs.*

They allow their pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception. Planned Parenthood is campaigning against them.

They aren’t unionized, of course, but their pissed-off employees still have a website

Yet the only people wanting to boycott them are upset with them kicking out the Salvation Army or are doing it for other wacky reasons

And most of my liberal friends shop there. I know I do. I haven’t been in a Walmart in at least a year. But every time we need furnace filters, dish soap or a cheap birthday present for my brothers, TheCSO and I head right out there.

To Target.

Not that I don’t like Target. I really do. I far prefer it to Walmart. It’s owned by a Minneasota Senator’s family rather that the ever-creepy Waltons. They sell nice-looking lamps and do a nice job advertising how socially responsible they are. They do a great job appealing to the upper-middle class and they are smaller so the numbers of people they are screwing over appear far less impressive.

But they actually give a slightly greater percentage of their PAC money to Republicans than WalMart does.


*Along with other places that hire lots of people for unskilled labor. Fast food chains, large staffing agencies, grocery chains, etc, all have a lot of people uninsured. All of them hire lots of poor people. In general, poor people are more likely to be uninsured.

Oddest Classified Ad Ever

I've been looking for some volunteer work so I can spend part of my free time doing something for other people. When life isn't going well, I find that doing something for people who have bigger problems than I do is a big help in keeping perspective.

The "Volunteer" section of the paper today had this ad:

DANGEROUS THREATENING RISK assessment volunteer wanted to investigate liberal agenda catering to lowest common denominator, cowardice, and government reward system for irresponsible mutants-

The website that the email address originates from is even odder.

Ah well.

Not that it wasn't tempting and all, but I emailed a soup kitchen and a women's shelter instead.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Conflicted Feelings on the Big Monkey

Ever since I saw the mini-documentary in the preview for Harry Potter, I've been really into seeing the new King Kong remake. Apparently, it is the movie Peter Jackson has wanted to make since he was a kid and it looks like it will be a kickass fountain of spectacle.

However, Angry Black Bitch makes a convincing case that the story well, sort of sucks from a political perspective.


Clarifications on Wal-mart

Yep, Walmart gives primarily to Republicans. So do lots and lots of businesses. Target, for example. And Home Depot, and Macy's for a few others.

Yes, I've heard of the Walmart movie. I read in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, for example, that the hardware store owner in it who claimed he was being driven out of business by Walmart actually lost his business three months before Walmart even opened.

There's now a new small hardware store right where the old one used to be. According to the owner of the new store, they guy on the documentary's business had been floundering for years. The new store is doing well, Walmart or no.

Naturally, the filmmakers didn't mention that.

I don't understand why Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock and now the people behind this documentary think they need to lie or obscure the facts.

In most instances, I think the liberals are correct and shouldn't have to hide the truth.

I, for one, would love for poor people to be able to buy fresh vegetables from small farmers markets. In my area, however, the farmers markets are more expensive, mostly open wacky times like Wednesday mornings and none of them take foodstamps. Walmart sells fresh vegetables and sells them really cheaply.


Added after theCSO's post:

I really don't get the filmmaker thing.

I mean, when Michael Moore splices parts of two different Charlton Heston speeches together to imply that he gave a really offensive speech in Colorado right after Columbine, that's straight up lying with film. (For anyone who has seen the movie, Heston said the bit about his cold, dead fingers at a speech in Charlotte a year before Columbine. Moore mixed that footage in with the Colorado footage. You can tell if you watch the tape carefully because Heston is wearing a slightly different suit and a very different tie. Moore did tape Heston's Colorado speech, but there Heston prayed for the victims and didn't say anything offensive, so Moore had to imply that he did for Heston to look as bad as Moore wanted him to.)

When Morgan Spurlock claims in his book in McDonald's that:

"Leftover bits and pieces [of dead cows] are scooped up, ground together and fed back to the cows. And then those cows are ground up and fed to you"

He provides no source for the accusation.

If he hates McDonalds so much, he should prove it. That's called "ruminant feeding" and it is way illegal and has been so for years. If he can prove it, McDonalds will face huge, huge fines. My guess? Spurlock doesn't have any proof or he would have turned McDonald's in and become the Erin-Brockovich-style folk hero he'd so clearly like to be.

A lot of Moore's and Spurlock's mistakes can be written off to bad research, which is what Moore always claims.

But I'd say both Moore's Heston thing and the Walmart folks' accidentally not telling us the real deal with the hardware store has to be intentional.

The worst part to me is, it's so lazy. Can't Moore figure out another way to get across the message that Charleton Heston is an asshat without lying? (The lie didn't fool me, and I still think he's an asshat.) Couldn't the Walmart people find another little town with a real business going under because of WalMart?

I guess lying was just easier and they assumed we'd never notice a different tie, know about the laws against ruminant feeding, or that the New York Times would send somebody to look into that hardware store. Like Howard Dean acting like the cocky kid who hasn't studied and trying to fake his way through a bible question, it just blows up in their faces every time.

I'm really starting to think Joel Monka has a point when he says that liberalism's greatest mistake is assuming people are stupid.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

For the record, I thought this before thinking this was cool.

Kevin Drum is looking at anti-anti-Walmart liberals.

who doesn't love the place herself, but has observed that poor people do.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Showing off the scars of History

Sorry I've been missing in action recently. Ironically, though I'm not working, I've been really busy. I put in a lot of hours working on the church bazaar, painted several rooms in my house and applied for some jobs.

Anyway, last night I had a very odd experience.

I was at a large social gathering. Seated at my table was a lady who knew a lot about antiques. She talked about her antique business for awhile and somebody asked her how she got into it.

She blithely went in to how her mother had been an antiques dealer in postwar Germany, going around the country making fabulous deals.

I sat there, quietly appalled.

This was not the first time this has happened. A few years ago at another dinner party, another lady went on about how clever her mother was to have bought valuable antiques in postwar Germany.

This time, however, the lady kept talking. She blithely explained that her family had gotten through the war just fine as they were wealthy bankers who had paid lots of people off. (Leads one to wonder what the Nazis did with the money...) No one said anything, but she explained that rich people always survive wars just fine. As my family used to have money, but lost it by being enthusiastic tories and confederates, I had a ready response to this one. Rich people who don't play both sides do lose their money. My relations believed in England and believed in the confederacy and they paid dearly for their beliefs because they fought for them. I was trying to keep the party polite, though.

She later, apropos of nothing as far as I can remember, mentioned how she fully believed that anybody who doesn't like the way things are going in America should just leave. I wondered if someone had told the expatriates that. Probably a lot of people did. Ironic how I loathe it when people say that now. Viewed through the lens of the holocaust, it is excellent advice.

In the car on the way back after dinner, the CSO and I talked this out. Yes, lots of people were in denial about what had happened. Yes, it's not a crime to be an oppourtunist, especially when you don't fully understand the source of the opportunity. But talking about it like that? I compared it to bragging that your relations had gotten on TV when they were turning firehoses on people marching for civil rights. He compared it to how it is candor, not boorishness, to admit that your relations owned slaves. I understand his point that we cannot be blamed for the actions of our relations (oh, do I) and that holding family history up for the inspection of others can be a valuable way to put faces on historical events.

But to bring it up in social conversation in such a strangely light way, and with no acknowledgement that your relations had done anything wrong, just seems odd. Surely she herself as an antiques dealer understood where her mother's antiques had come from. It's remotely possible her mother was good and honest and fair, but if that were the case, wouldn't the lady have said something like "There were so many crooked antiques dealers at the time. I was proud of how my mother resolved not to be one of them" to clarify this point?* Did she expect us at the table to not know? Were we not supposed to care?

Still thinking it over, perhaps overthinking.

*When CC's mother's job had a job description that sounded remotely like "slumlord," CC always was VERY clear on the point that while the Chalicemom does indeed work in minority housing, she is good and honest about it, genuinely committed to helping people make better lives, and certainly hasn't gotten rich from it.

Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
The Expatriate
Achtung! You are 30% brainwashworthy, 18% antitolerant, and 9% blindly patriotic
Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism does not reach unhealthy levels. If you had been German in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could have been one of them.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test