Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Report from Halloween at the Office

Ok, so I knew we were supposed to come to work in costume today, and had quizzed a person whose sense of style I respect on Halloween Costumes. One of her suggestions was to dress as Tim Gunn and go saying “make it work!” all day at everyone in costume. Her theory was that this might end the dressing-up-for-Halloween tradition in my office forever.

That’s a laudable goal, but I didn’t do it. Her other idea was a pretty minimalist dog costume. I thought that would be pretty cool and was all set to do it when two of my co-workers announced they were coming as 80s cartoon star Jem and as a witch. Knowing that my extrovert coworker would wear something wild and cute as Jem and having seen the sexy witch costumes around these days, I was none to excited about coming as a dog.

Instead, I’m wearing a trench coat with travel books sticking out of the pockets and claiming to be Carmen Sandiego.

Among my coworkers we have a witch, a devil and the office extrovert parading happily around in a long pink wig as Jem. Nobody else dressed up. I had offered a cash bounty to anyone who came as the boss, but nobody took me up on it.

The really irritating thing is that I’m kind of enjoying myself.



Joel has some interesting things to say here

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Random Thought

There's a Pagan-themed fashion spread in the New York Times magazine. Which got me thinking about what a Humanist-themed fashion spread would look like. I'm thinking tweed. Lots of tweed.


The Voices In Our Heads

I am the voice in my ex-boyfriend's head. He mentioned this to me the other night in front of some of our friends, so I'm guess it's not really a secret. In his dreams, I sometimes show up to provide exposition and/or explain the situation. When awake, I provide commentary and advise him.

I'm guessing that's flattering, though I'm not 100 percent certain.*

The really disturbing thing is that I know what he means. Occasionally, the voice of someone whom is respect will spring unbidden to the forefront of my imagination when I have an important decision to make. Often for me, that voice is Katy-the-Wise.

Sometimes the voice isn't literally a voice. I noticed at one point that I was frequently threatening myself with cosmetology school if I didn't do a good job on my LSAT. I didn't literally believe that a chair at "Connie DiPodesta's House of Class" was in my future, but threatening myself with that was a reflex when I felt I needed spur myself on. It took me a long time to make the connection that my father had made the same threat whenever I got a bad grade in school.

So I'm curious, do y'all hear voices from the past still advising you? Do you trust them? Is there a significance to which voices you hear?


*One time, I came back from college to visit my hometown and went out with favorite ex-boyfriend and some of his pals. We stopped for gas and he got out of the SUV to pump. "How do you know Charlie?" one of the guys asked from the back seat.

"He and I dated off and on for a few years." I responded.

"Nah, that can't be true"

"Umm...Yeah? It sure is." I said.

"But he only dates stupid girls."

Charlie got back in the car. "Charlie," I said. "I hear you only date stupid girls?"

"Is it in spite of her?" The guy from the back asked.

Charlie turned around to look at him. "It's BECAUSE of her."

Sleepy weekend.

When you take stock of your week, and you ask yourself who on the internet has reduced your faith in humanity and made you want to quit trusting people, helping them out or otherwise reaching out, and despite his best efforts Phil comes in a solid third, that's a really bad sign. At the very least, it's a sign that you spend too much time on the internet.

In other news, I went out the other night with my writing group, which includes my favorite ex-boyfriend. He and I have known each other for 14 years, which feels like a tremendous length of time when you're 28.
We talked over some of the issues I've had with various people and he said some useful things that put things in perspective. Also, he likes to tease me as if I'm still in my slutty wild period. As I'm now in a chubby dour period, this feels pretty adorable.

And folks liked my story.

Other that, I've been pretty boring this weekend.


Ps. My housewife, Lily VonHarnack, has won the Desperate Housewives game. But I also did some painting this weekend and cooked some yummy meals. Tonight, we're having pork roast.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Your religion is like your significant other

Recent ex-UU Sean Anthony has a thoughtful if angry post up called
So I can't really build my own theology in the UUA?
As evidenced by a recent post of mine, I don't take the opinions of ex-UUs, especially recent ones, very seriously in regards to questions about my faith anymore than I trust recent ex-Fundamentalists to offer the most objective and reasonable criticisms of THEIR old faith. Those who have left their churches slowly and have the more "High School Sweetheart" view of their old religions are a good deal more trustworthy, but on the whole I'd say one has to be gone for awhile to get the perspective that brings with it truly useful insights.

Anthony makes some rather strange assertions in his post. Essentially his issue is that in the year before he left UUism, he declared himself a religious humanist, then said he was a UU christian, talked about how at home he felt in the AUC, then ended up at the church of the breathren. He left UUism and a bunch of people made fun of him for his rapid changes of faith. Were he not a seminarian, I would say that the sheer speed of the changes suggested that he wasn't really exploring each option fully before taking up the next, as he was a seminarian, I have more faith that he knew what he was doing and takes faith more seriously than that, but I'm still not sure what was up and maybe it's not my business to know.

In some senses his problem is more a blogger's problem than a Unitarian problem. I often think out loud on this blog and I do sometimes change my mind. I write passionately when I'm feeling passionate and sometimes regret this passion the next day. Usually, though, I'm pretty careful to not use language that suggests I'm committed to something until I really am. I have for years said that I consider myself a Unitarian Universalist first and don't feel I need additional labels, but if you press me on it, I'm a humanist. I have a conception of the holy and am sometimes willing to call it "God" for the sake of argument, but see it more as a force than a personality.

I've believed roughly this for the entire time I've been a UU. I've messed around with various rituals and ways of expressing my relationship to the holy, but my sense of the holy has remained pretty consistent.

Anyway, here's the response I wrote to his post, slightly edited.

To me beliefs are like significant others.

Nobody objects when someone, especially someone youngish, dates around. But when you go through three or four significant others in a year, declaring each in turn a true love*, and then claim you have to treat your friends badly because your latest true love said to and love is more important than friendship, the people who don’t know you well will make fun of you and the people who care about you will feel jerked around.

That’s life.

However, if the marriage between you and the Brethren is meant to be and you stick with her for a long time, everybody will have forgotten about your sowing-your-religious-oats period in time.


*My guess is part of the confusion may come from your willingness to try on labels publically. Often it’s good to fully make, say Buddhism a part of you before you start calling yourself a Buddhist to everyone. You don’t tell all your friends that you and Peggy Jean are in love until you know her pretty well and are sure it’s true. Same principle.


Ps. On another post on his blog, Shawn is now expressing his amazement that when he insults a religion people show up to say "Actually, that religion works fine for me."

Wow. When you insult something, people who like that thing decide you're wrong and sometimes defend it! Will wonders never cease? Shawn totally didn't see that one coming!

The world must be such an amazing and unpredicatable place for Shawn.

The Desperate Housewives Video game is an unholy amount of fun

Iliterally can't remember the last video game I bought. My usual MO is to wait to see if theCSO buys a video game and borrow it from him.

Somehow, I guessed that this wasn't happening with "Desperate Housewives." I had read about it online and sort of intended to get it. When my office had a power outage on Tuesday, I decided that was a sign from God that I should be playing.

Kids, this game is SO MUCH FUN. You can get in catfights, you can seduce Mike Delfino. I'm a redhead in the game, my husband is a redhead, but the game automatically made our kid blonde. It's truly awesome. One would not think it is possible for a cooking or gardening minigame to be fun, but they both really are. It has a sims-like interface and the programmers have done a really nice job of capturing the way the actors on the show look and sound. (As you can see from Bree above.)

Bree is not quite so awesome in the game as she is on the show, but Lynette and Susan are fully as annoying as they are supposed to be.

All that said, there's something disquieting about my video game character having a better wardrobe than I do.

Ah well.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

News Stories Made for The ChaliceBlog

I guess this is to please the "Death By First Available" crowd who believes that if you sit in the smoking section once, you're dooming yourself to cancer.

But I think it's stupid.

The politicians in Omaha, Nebraska are asking people to call 911 if they see somebody violating the city's smoking ban.

The Douglas County Emergency Services Director is worried this will compromise response times. (Item: The most common way to die in America is a heart attack. Ambulance response time is one of the most critical factors in whether a patient survives.)

But hey, at least they won't get cancer 20 years down the road.



CC mourns the "listening policy"

For the entire existence of the Chaliceblog, I had what I thought of as a “listening policy” here. Whatever people said, I listened. I kicked spam posts, discouraged namecalling, but otherwise let people post what they wanted, even anonymously. (As much as I mock anonymous posters who post insults, I can recall at least one anonymous post detailing the poster’s experience getting an abortion. That alone was worth all the insulting anonymous people who have ever posted here.)

Even when people were obnoxious, I listened.

In bar terms, you could hear a guy ranting and raving down the bar and say to yourself, “Wow. If they let Phil hang out here, then I really CAN say what I want without worrying about getting kicked out.” (Of course anyone who isn't self-employed who posts with their real name has something to fear from the internet but at least nobody had anything to fear from me.)

We’ve had some nasty fights, but hey, those can be interesting and instructive. Some threads here have run 60 comments or so long. I've read them all. I listened. You'd be amazed how thoughtful people get toward the end of a thread that starts out with harsh debate and then calms down. Or maybe you wouldn't. Maybe you were there, too.

I won’t lie to you, my favorite part of it was the principle of the thing. I really liked being able to say “I don’t edit comments that aren’t my own and I don’t close off comment threads. End of story.”

And twelve hours into the ban existing (because I made the decision last night,) I really hate it.



OK, temporary bans work for me.

I did read and think about what everyone said about my bar, which is, of course, the Chaliceblog. Everyone's points were well-taken, but I liked the fact that the 30-day-ban plan gave people the chance to redeem themselves.

Maybe I'm just a bleeding heart that way.

Anyway, please, get back to your normal method of posting, off-topic, argumentative or otherwise. I will use this very, very, rarely.

My previous policy had pretty much mirrored Google's policy, which can be paraphrased as "We will take stuff down when the person who originates it asks us to, when it's spam or when the law makes us. So unless you have a court order, goodbye." I had kicked one additional post when a friend revealed a peice of personal information about me that I didn't want him to. I took it down and asked him to repost it without the piece of information, knowing that he wouldn't mind.

TheCSO disagrees with my decision and may or may not write about why later.

Thanks for your input, everyone.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thought Experiment

You like to hang out at a bar. It’s a great bar and you helped design it by imagining the bar where you would like to hang out. You’re proud of what you’re a part of. Your friends come to this bar and talk and hang out and sometimes you have conversations that really help you understand something you’ve been puzzling over. And sometimes you just laugh together. You’ve met lots of cool people when they became regulars at your bar. You really value this dialogue and you really value that your favorite bar is a place where all kinds of people can come together and hang out. Sure, you tend dominate the conversation, but everybody’s fine with that and your whole group tends to have a great time.

Sometimes people lose their tempers, but so far, nobody’s ever gotten kicked out. And you like going to a bar that gets a little wild sometimes.

But lately there’s a problem. There’s a guy who hangs out in the bar named Phil. He’s not like the other patrons. Phil has had a hard life and spends most of his time complaining, blaming everyone but himself for his problems. He can be rude to the other patrons, some of whom he seems to blame for his difficulties, but nobody pays much attention to him. You don’t have any proof the bar has lost business because of him and you remember when Phil had a little hope and didn’t behave so badly. You kind of like arguing with Phil sometimes. As much of a jerk as he can be, to you Phil is a beloved local character.

But now there’s a problem. Because you hang out in several other bars. And in these bars, Phil has started to really pick on a woman whom he felt was mean to him. He calls her names and yells about her in a most unbecoming manner. This woman is a friend of yours and you don’t feel she deserves to be treated that way. You saw what she did to Phil and you think Phil is really, really overreacting. Phil has never yelled at her in your bar that you can remember, though he’s yelled at other people. You know that eventually Phil will stop picking on her and leave her alone, but you want your friend to feel safe in your bar. (Safe in an emotional sense. Phil has never physically hurt anybody and you don’t think he ever will.)

Phil’s behavior has gotten to the point where lots of bars don’t let him in at all, adding to his sense that the world is against him.

And that’s the problem. Because you don’t like to make a big point of it, but your Dad owns the bar. And your Dad says “I’d just as soon let anyone in, but if you want to throw Phil out, you can any time you want to.”


Do we try to talk to Phil, though we suspect that reasoning with him won’t work?

Do we kick him out when he’s rude, which is pretty much always these days? (Though we’ve never kicked anyone out for rudeness before…)

Do we feel rotten about what’s happening to our friend but stick with our bar being a place where people don’t get kicked out?

Advice welcome.


I will defend my actual dad's honor as a Texan by saying that there is no way "I'd just as soon let anyone in" would have been his response. He is not currently in a condition to do much to anybody, but if, in his prime, he saw a man in a bar harassing a lady and calling her names, his justice on the guy would be swift and brutal. Not saying that's right. It's just how they raised them in Texas in the 1950's. And the Chalicedad is unusually refined. He used to sing Opera.

Monday, October 23, 2006


By the way, I'm going to give a shoutout to Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Little Blog for her insight and general niftiness.


If you've just joined a new faith, nobody gives a damn what you think of your old one.

Very soon after I joined my first UU church, I developed a theory about the way we are with each other. I noticed that some UUs, those whom I soon came to think of as “Baby UUs,” were very excited about UUism as a vehicle for their own self-expression. They tended to throw temper tantrums when the service wasn’t about something they wanted. And most of all, they talked about their previous religion. "Back when I was with the Jesus people, we did (whatever) Wasn’t that so-o stupid?”

And Beliefnet gave me the chance to meet some Ex-UUs who were constantly saying things like “You know what the problem with UUism was…?”

Newsflash: If you're an ex-UU we don't care. If you see problems but want to stay and fix them, great, I agree. If you fit in better with another faith, it's been nice praying with you. You know where the door is.

Whether you're going or coming, hearing people complain about their ex-religions gets OLD. It’s still old.

So please, people. Cut it out.

If you have just changed faiths, your numero uno job in your new community is to LISTEN to everyone else and LEARN about this new path in your journey. So do thyself a favor and shut up for six months then let the comparisons between the two faiths trickle in to coversation only when they offer real theological and cultural insight. But don't forget the first six months of shutting up, because that's when you're most likely to babble on. Believe it or not, the people in your new church don’t actually give a damn that you think they are cooler than the people in your previous church. You just make yourself look like a big jackass.

The blind date who won’t quit bitching about her ex? That’s you.

I don’t care if you were a deacon, an alter boy, a board president or a guy with a really popular blog in your old faith. Once you’ve moved on to a new faith, you’re starting over so try to do so with minimal baggage. Should you have trouble with this process, may I suggest you avail yourself of the services of a professional or a support group or anybody who is not a member of either faith, because I promise you, the people in both your new faith and old faith have heard your warmed over sarcasm a thousand times and it isn’t very interesting.

If you want to burn your bridges, just stop calling the people in your old church, you don't have to actively insult them and doing so is really sort of masturbatory and stupid. Don't get up at joys and concerns, tell people individually, preferably on your last Sunday.

Perhaps we need a thought experiment. Let’s think back to college.

Remember that freshman? You know, the one in the obviously brand new clothes who had obviously been a big shot back at Bumblefuck High? You probably met him the August of your Junior year and he was all “Back at my high school, we did it this way... Wasn’t that totally lame? Everyone was SO immature. And have I told you my SAT scores yet?”

And you the junior and your snarky little friends listened with a straight face, then went back to your off-campus apartment and laughed at him?

If you are new to your church and still whining about your old church, you’re that freshman.

So cut it out.

That is all.

who observes that many, many people come to and leave UUism knowing this already and practicing it. She salutes those people.

When tiny shoes walk the picket line

First of all, CC was taken to a lot of protest marches as a little kid. She was a true believer then, and now she disagrees with some of the signs she herself carried. (Not actually the spirit behind them, but I don't know of any situation so simple that a protest sign covers it. Protests are all about people yelling their views and refusing to listen. I don't know if this is the root of my distate for protest marches, but it's at least part of it.)
This morning I ran across this article, which details how a pro-life group had been planning a protest at an elementary school. Pro-life parents would be sending their kids to school with tape over their mouths to symbolize, well, silenced fetuses.
Ummm... ewww.
It also bothers me when parents tell their kids to think something and are impressed when their kids think what they were told to. A vegan I know was so proud when her little girl started to go "Eeew! Stinky!" whenever they passed a McDonalds. "She thought of that all by herself!" Vegan mom crowed.
I have a standing policy of never arguing with a parent's assessment of their kid's genius, but I thought to myself that the wording might have come from the little girl, but the idea was straight from her mother.
I guess there's nothing particularly wrong with the parents on either side imposing their views on their kids. Imposing views is kind of what parents do, and rightly so much of the time.
But it bugs me.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Life Imitates The Golden Girls

Remember that episode of the Golden Girls where Sophia goes to meet the Pope and while she's shaking his hand his ring slips off?


Of course Sophia tried to keep it and wacky comedy ensued, but when it happened in real life, the Catholics who ended up with his ring were too well-behaved for that.

Oh well.


Ps. Another thought about sitcoms that came about when the TV was on TVland and I was too lazy to change the channel: If you want to know how ahead of its time the Addams Family was, watch an episode of The Munsters, which was put out at about the same time.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The CSO asks about the rational, interventionist God

I was discussing with CC how theologians deal with evil things happening to apparently non-evil people. I can understand easily enough how this makes sense if one posits a non-interventionist or non-rational God. (Personally, I find myself somewhere between "there is no God" and "if there is a God, so what?" In both cases, decidedly non-interventionist. As for God's rationality, though the question does not directly apply, my faith in science is in its own way a deeply, even essentially, rational God of sorts.)

However, I don't understand how one can rationally reconcile evil things happening to non-evil people, or evil things happening to good people, with a rational and interventionist God. If one takes the rationality and interventionism of God as axiomatic, it simply does not seem to make sense that evil things would happen to other than evil people. It seems to me that the only way to reconcile evil things happening to apparently non-evil people with a rational and interventionist God is to seize on the "apparently" in "apparently non-evil". Having only human perception, we cannot know for sure whether someone is evil, so if a rational and interventionist God allows evil things to happen to them, they must have been evil after all.

It seems like such a copout to say that God must not really care all that much after all - there goes God's being interventionist - or that God doesn't actually have the power to change much of anything - again, there goes God's being interventionist. Same goes for asserting that God is irrational - what's the point of even studying God then?

My understanding from CC is that all modern theologians (post-Holocaust) she's read about have rejected the idea that evil things happening to someone implies that they are evil, even those theologians who believe in a rational, interventionist God. I don't see how that can be possible without giving up on some of the essential characteristics of such a God - how do they do it? What am I missing?

FWIW, CC got a 171 on the LSAT

A171 is lower than some of my practice tests, so I'm a tiny bit dissatisfied, but it's also 98th percentile, so I'm probably a bit irrational for feeling that way. I will be able to teach it for my test prep company without any problem, and it is above the 75th percentile for all my schools.

My big hope was that I would really rock it at get a 175+, my big fear was that I'd get to a set of problems I didn't know and choke and do far worse than I did.

Neither happened. So there we go.


Friday, October 20, 2006

A big thanks to someone who knows who they are

Several of you probably read the headline and thought something like "Actually, I know who I am, but I'm not the person CC is likely addressing. Probably a lot of Chalicesseurs know who they are. UUs and other people nifty enough to hang around with CC are pretty self-actualized on the whole..." Or maybe I'm the only one who overthinks like that.

Anywhoo, for the first time in its existence, someone not related to me or already my IRL friend hit the Buy me stuff, I'm cute button in the sidebar and sent me something. I was expecting another book on poisons* and brought the box in from my porch expecting that, but found instead a book from my amazon wishlist with an appreciative note from someone who shall remain anonymous as I'm pretty sure that person would prefer it that way.

FWIW, Alison Bechdel's other work is good, though doesn't pack quite the punch of Fun Home, Bechdel's simply brilliant autobiography.

The other thing I've read in comic book form recently is the 9-11 report. FWIW, the more one reads of the 9-11 report, in comic book form or no, the more impossible a conspiracy behind it seems. Reading it in either form makes one understand a) how realistic all the problems on the day of the tragedy were and the mass confusion that the attack created and b) the truly mind-boggling number of people who would have to have been in on the conspiracy, all apparently unquestioningly loyal to those in charge and OK with killing thousands of people. A conspiracy just doesn't make sense+.

While the report has more wonky details in the book form, it makes its points far more clearly in the comic. Reading the comic made me wish more government reports were produced this way.

TheCSO is out gaming tonight, so CC is home, fed, and about to get back to work on her novel...


*Again, I'm writing a mystery. Actually, this research is partially a form of procrastination. But these last few chapters have come pretty slowly. And now nobody in my life can ever die mysteriously or I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do.

+Speaking of things that don't make sense. Do the conspiracy theorists have an explanation of how the government got a bunch of people related to Al Queada on the planes?

Really good article about Weird Al

I was Weird Al's biggest fan when I was about ten, and I've continued to listen on and off, though theCSO is the real fan and the reason we've seen him live at the 9:30 club. (Cringe.)

Anyway, here's a really thoughtful article about Weird Al that makes me appreciate him anew.

Which is not to say that I'm planning to see him live again anytime soon.


"Nightmare" looks pretty spiffy in 3-d

The CSO and I saw a sneak preview of the new 3-D Nightmare before Christmas. As CC was at her gothiest when this movie came out, it's sort of cheesily sentimental to me.

The whole movie is a work of art, 3-d effects or not, and the 3-d effects were quite impressive. We had fun.

I love movies that create their own worlds and Tim Burton has made some great ones. I really liked his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as did Roald Dahl's family. (Dahl hated the saccharine 1970's musical version. You'll note how the 1970's version is pretty clearly setting up for a sequal at the end. This sequal didn't happen because Dahl wouldn't sell them the rights to Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator after he saw the first movie. I mean, the producers of the 1970's version changed the name of the movie from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to "Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory" as to improve name recognition on the "Willy Wonka" line of candy bars they were putting out. Sorry, I'm a bit of a Roald Dahl fan and the disrespect that the 1970s version shows bugs me.)

Edie had gotten us the free sneak preview passes and I was feeling pretty special to have them, though standing in line we met a homeless guy who had gotten his off of th internet. So maybe not.


People CC hates

One woman in a little French restaurant in Georgetown managed to singlehandedly give me a new pet peeve. I now despise people who talk loudly and can't remember nouns. I totally swear the entire meal, this woman was like

"You know what movie I want to see? That movie about the French princess..." Marie Antoinette!... CC thinks, "You know, the one with that blonde girl from the cheerleader movie..." That would be Kirsten Dunst from Bring it On. "I bet the movie about the French Princess," And did I mention that Marie Antoinette wasn't really a French Princess? "is going to be really good. The director" Sofia Coppola "is the same lady who did..."

And it went on like that...


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Now there's a disaster waiting to happen.

CC’s senior year of high school, her school had a little scandal going. A lady who worked at the school had a little romance with the assistant principal. The woman had a son in my grade and the students knew her well and everyone thought it was sweet. She was the assistant principal’s “date” for homecoming and even my snarky little friends thought it was the cutest thing ever when they danced.

Sometime after that things came apart. As CC was told the story, the lady decided to throw the assistant principal a surprise party. She’d never met his children, but she wanted them to come, so she called them up and invited them.

Which is how she found out that the Assistant Principal was still married to their mother. Needless to say, the woman dumped the assistant principal and told her son all about it who told all his friends, who used the information with varying degrees of subtlety to blackmail their way out of detention with varying degrees of success.

Ten years later, which would be circa this afternoon, totally out of the blue and for no apparent reason, CC decided to google the Assistant Principal.

I kid y’all not, as of a few years ago the ex-Assistant Principal was a math teacher at the high school they have set up for Senate pages.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's official: Chalicesseurs know more about Islam than either CC or the people running the intelligence for the war

Right before a lunch meeting, I ran across this newspaper article, by a reporter who went around asking various important people what the difference between shiite and sunni was.

Such political figures as Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, Willie Hulon, chief of the FBI’s new national security branch and Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence all couldn't answer.

The best I could do was this:

My vague impression, mostly from elementary school, is that the Sunnis are the more liberal Muslims and the Shiites are the scarier ones, which doesn't mesh with the fact that I think Al Quaeda is Sunni. I'm pretty sure Hezbollah is Shiite though.

I was once taught the history of the two and what the difference is historically, but I don't remember. Boy, it's been awhile since I read up on Islam...

That's like a D+ answer, maybe. But it's not my job to know that stuff. (Ok arguably it's every American's job, but nobody literally pays me.)

So I wondered if my readers could do better.

Umm... Yeah.

Way, way better than either the folks in DC or Chalicechick.

I let the experiment run for six hours and came home to 18 responses. Take a gander at everybody's answers here.

I've disabled comment moderation and everyone's answers are now viewable. If you haven't looked yet and want to see how you compare, open up your favorite word processing program, type your answer, then post what you typed without making any changes.

I'm really, really impressed, y'all.


CC does an experiment

I've enabled comment moderation this afternoon just to make this work. Don't worry, it won't last. I hate comment moderation, too.

Please, without looking the answer up, answer the following question:

What's the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni?

If you want to respond anonymously, which is fine, please do mention in the comment whether you work in religion, politics or neither.

If you don't know, I'd appreciate it if you would comment "I don't know."



Veronica, etc.

Since I found out last week that I do have some Veronica Mars fans reading the Chaliceblog, I'd just like to say that I LOVED how Weevil came out of prison somewhat bloated and puffy. My brothers always do too. Maybe it is just that the actor had gained some weight, but it was a nice detail.

Also, mystery lovers should know that the archives of Ask RatDog rocketh mightily.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

UUs vs. Trekkies: Who's a religion?

Joel has a post up at CUUMBAYA asking for a definition of "religion" that includes us and doesn't include a socially active star trek fen club.

At the same time, Philo has pointed out in the comments that it sounds like what Kos really wants to start isn't so much a megachurch as a megacivicorganization if you will.

Interesting convergence of ideas here, kids.

Ok about that definition, how about "a system of beliefs and practices that a person or community regards as giving meaning to life?"

For me, fundamentally religion is about human relation to the holy, whether you believe that: "In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted 'Amens!', 'Holy, Holies!' and 'Hosannahs!" Or not.
But I don't think that language can be understood as I understand it without more explanation than I can give this morning.

And I will note that some Star Trek fans are probably so heavily into Star Trek that is does give meaning to their lives. They use Trek as a source of authority and really do find a sort of spiritual guidance there. I recall that a former foster kid once changed his named to "James T. Kirk, jr," explaining that as he was shuffled from foster home to foster home, the Captain of the Enterprise was his most consistent and useful male role model. That guy probably counts.

I think one can get to the point where Star Trek is one's religion, but I don't know that Star Trek fan clubs are composed mostly of people who are there or see that getting people there is a goal. I think the point of UU churches is that UUism is already our religon.


Friday, October 13, 2006

A mega-church like community of liberals.

Peter Bowden at Live From UU Planet says that the guy behind “Daily Kos” would like to start “mega-church like communities of liberals” across the red states.

From the Wired interview that was Bowden’s source:

“And once he gets his network of sports blogs ramped up, he'll turn to building communities in the real world, a chain of giant meeting places "replicating megachurches for the left" – complete with caf├ęs and child care. Moulitsas has shown he can harness people's enthusiasm, but he says he doesn't want a leadership role in these "democracy centers."”

My first reaction was “Please, please, Daily Kos man, finish your hockey blog and do this. Because if everybody who wanted a ‘mega-church like community of liberals’ started by a guy like this left UUism, we might actually get some theology done and start attracting people who are looking for some depth and substance. The initial drop in membership would suck, but I think there would be a huge long term gain.”

Naturally Bowden sees things differently. He seemingly would like the UUA to BECOME the “mega-church-like community of liberals.” He seems to think that the UUA is against becoming such a place, which is weird to me because as far as I can tell, Bowden is describing exactly what the UUA wants to be.

Here are his suggestions:

We need to...
• Have a viable brand name that can be remembered by the children.
• Have a vision, mission, and/or purpose and principles that adults - including professional leadership - can articulate clearly.
• Know that you have to have an environment and coffee that rivals starbucks.
• Have a clear pathways for personal growth and development
• Offer leadership development that goes beyond either you're a lay person or your a fully trained ordained called and salaries minister with more debt and responsibility than you'd really like.
• Develop organizational processes for making statements and taking action that are not so brutal that people choose to leave to find a more efficient and nimble organization to work through.
• Get clue about youth . Yes, youth want to be empowered, but they want to be empowered to do something that matters.

The thing is, I don’t object to any one of those suggestions individually. Actually, assuming we don’t use all of these vision statements as creeds, I pretty much like them all outside of the rivaling starbucks bit, especially if we start making some statements and taking some actions that are more than political.

But I sure don’t like the idea of where those suggestions might take us.


Random insight

There's a lady I know who is having trouble with her graduate work. She complains that there's just way too much reading and it's hard to get through all she is supposed to read.

At the same time, I have a complaint about her. She runs meetings badly. Her meetings tend to veer of course and rarely end on time. Longtime readers know that this habit drives CC up a wall.

And I realized the other day that both issues are about not being able to go through information and pick out what's important.

I suspect her graduate work will help with this. But I was pleased with myself that I figured that out.


Thought on cultural appropriation

If the UUs had stolen the Christmas tree from the pagans:
-We would call it a “ritual pagan tree”
-We would talk to our kids about how what it means to the pagans
and what it means to secular culture are two different things,
though UUs can certainly understand it as a symbol of the renewal of life.
-We would object to commercialization of this pagan religious symbol.

But since the Christians were the ones who stole the Christmas tree from the pagans:
-The tree is named after Christ’s mass
-And if you call it a “holiday tree” and/or don’t put one up at City
Hall you’re insulting Jesus.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Veronica Mars screws up the Stanford Prison Experiment

I get that there's something kinda weird about complaining about a show when as far as I know, I'm the only one on my blogsphere who watches it. But I have to say that this week's Veronica Mars really screwed up when they tried to do an episode where some of the characters took part in an experiment that roughly mirrored the Stanford Prison Experiment.

If you're not familiar with the Stanford Prison Experiment, basically a researchr at Standford put together a "prison" and assigned students randomly to be "gaurds" and "inmates," then watched them interact.

It got out of hand.

It got out of hand SO QUICKLY, in fact, that soon the researcher himself was acting like a warden trying to prevent a prison break. The students BECAME vindictive gaurds and traumatized prisoners in literally hours.

This is a really important experiment, and one that explains everything about how things like Abu Gharib happen and why the individual soldiers there aren't so much at fault as the people higher up who set up the situation the way they did. When Abu Gharib broke, the prison experiment was the first thing I thought of.

And my favorite show on television really screwed it up.

They did a watered down version where one guy turned really mean and one other guy turned really submissive, but everyone else was more or less their own lovable selves. Ironically, the show's setup was even worse with the "prisoners" knowing the address where a bomb had been left and the "gaurds" charged with finding out that information before the bomb went off and people were killed. I can't imagine what would have happened if the real prison experiment had included that element. I get that it's a TV show, but it really irritated me as I want more people to know about the Stanford Prison Experiment and what it meant.

I suspect the intention of the show was to teach people about the experiment, but I suspect the show will have the opposite effect, teaching them that the experiment went fine.

Anyway, if you'd like more information, please check out the link above.


Monday, October 09, 2006

I'd like to think that if YouTube had existed when I was in high school, I would have been this creative

Yeah, but probably not. Seriously, this little thing rocks my world, and the Bowling for Soup song it is set to is nifty, too.


Please, Virginia, don't elect the stupid guy

I realize that most Chalicesseurs will agree with me totally when I say that I really don't want a guy like George Allen elected to the senate. Actually, right now I wish I still worked with Republicans so that somebody could tell me why someone would vote for Allen, because I really don't get it. Webb is only barely a Democrat, after all.

My issue isn't even that Allen is conservative, though I'm admittedly unlikely to vote for a conservative, it's that he's so damn stupid.

Let's start with the infamous "Macaca" incident. I mean, calling a dark-skinned chap who works for the other side a monkey isn't something I would really put past any politician, to be honest. But saying it really loudly while the "monkey" is pointing a television camera at you?

Only George Allen.

Now there's another little scandal out, Allen wasn't reporting some stock options to Congress. His argument is that the stocks weren't worth much, so he felt he didn't need to report them. Of course, nobody official ever told him he didn't have to report them, but he just assumed because I guess it sounded like a good idea to him. This is the sort of thinking we call "Jason thinking" in my house, after my brother who is about to go to jail for six months for some minor traffic violations that have gotten judicially out of hand due to Jason repeatedly assuming for various contrived reasons that various rules and paperwork didn't apply to him.



CC (finally) Answers PG's book meme

PG over at her lovely blog Half the Sins of Mankind tagged me with a book meme awhile ago, but I wasn't paying attention and forgot to answer it. I sometimes do that with blog memes, but I really enjoy answering them, so please feel free to tag me with them.

1. One book that changed your life?
I've peeked around at how other people have answered this question and they seem apologetic about giving a kid's book as an answer, but for most of us, our thinking changes the most obviously in childhood. One of the formative books of my childhood was Mr. Revere and I, a story about Paul Revere from the perspective of his horse. The horse starts out a loyalist, but by the end of the book has become a patriot. I recall still having a basic little kid black and white mindset when I started the book and genuinely seeing the world as a more complex place when I finished it.

2. One book you have read more than once?
Well, I go through Roberton Davies' novels about once a year. (OK, not Murther and the Walking Spirits, but everything else.)

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
My wedding album, though it would depress me somewhat. Failing that, the Beekeeper's Apprentice because Sherlock reminds me of theCSO.

4. One book that made you laugh? Richard Russo's Straight Man though I have leant it to many people and never found anyone who liked it as much as I did. It's a novel about academia that very much matches my perception of what academic departments are like.

5. One book that made you cry?
Y'all know this is hard for me to admit, but Anne Lamott has a book called Operating Instructions that made me bawl when I was about seventeen. If Lamott wasn't basically a talented writer, she wouldn't piss me off so much. Operating Instructions is a journal of her pregnancy and thr birth and babyhood of her son Sam. The twist is that her best friend is dying of cancer. As the baby becomes more independent and more a person, the friend is becoming less so. Trust me, you'd cry.

6. One book you wish had been written?
I was working on a combination spy novel/coming of age story when I was in college that wasn't half bad. Never finished it, though.

7. One book you wish had never been written?
That's a hard question. Nora Ephron's Heartburn, a thinly disguised tell-all about the breakup of her marriage to Karl Bernstein, really shouldn't have been written. Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird gave me some writing advice that really was the worst advice in the world to give me as a writer and derailed my fiction writing hobby completely for about ten years. Pretty much everything Stephen King has written since Carrie is crap.
The Bell Curve would be a contender if anybody took it seriously.

But I have to agree with PG that all of that pretty much pales in comparision to the actual damange caused by by The Protocols Of The Meetings of the Learned Elders Of Zion. So ultimately, I have to go with that.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar
PG's fault for asking. (My next novel is a mystery.)

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Zadie Smith's White Teeth has been on my shelf forever.

OK, five people to pass this on to?

Clyde at A People So Bold

Miss Kitty at Ms. Kitty's Saloon and Road Show

Laurie R. King at at Mutterings

Fausto at The Socinian

Jason at The Wild Hunt

My own beloved blogmates TheCSO and Linguistfriend have this meme by association and are invited to answer.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Comment I posted on blog post about immigration

Probably I should stage a one-chick boycott of the Washington Post blogs. It's been widely reported in the local media that the post is forcing their reporters to blog for no additional money. But I do still read them. And Mark Fisher's blog Raw Fisher had an article about th changing landscape of Culpeper, VA, where all the Borders Books and Cheesecake Factories are moving in. Naturally, the residents including a one Steve Jenkins whose family has been in Culpeper for 300 years, are blaming illegal immigrants.

I put up the following response:

If Steve's family has been here for 300 years, we KNOW what Steve's family did to the people who were already on the land that became his.

Today's immigrants don't want to give us smallpox-infected blankets, kill off our entire people, steal our land and make their own country or any of the stuff that Steve's relatives (and mine) did.

They just want a job. They want their kids to have a chance to go to college and have a better life. They want to pay into social security and get taken care of when they are old.

Who the hell are we to say "no?"


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fiction site fixed.

Somebody finally mentioned to CC that the story I wrote and put on the web at Has CC mentioned she writes fiction? wasn't showing up on some browsers. The problem is fixed now. Feel free to check it out and tell me what you think. My ego asks that I stress again that this is not my best work, just fiction in that limbo between what I think is publishable and what I think sucks so much I don't want people seeing it.


Can't argue that I'm not reading it for the articles.

By the way, the editors of Playboy have a blog. It not updated much and seems to be more cultural commentary than a behind-the-scenes look at Playboy. That said, it is unusually well=written for a blog and I really like it. Y'all should check it out.

off to the Farmer's Market.

CC the Addict

It's a really good sign that you're spending too much time on the internet when you run across somebody's Cafepress site, discover the following shirt, and immeadiately think:

I wonder what kind of crazy sexual favors I would have to provide theCSO to bribe him to wear this shirt in a public place while I followed him around videotaping when hilarity ensued from passersby? That would be so bitchin' for Youtube...


CC's latest freaky dream

Guh, I just woke up from a really awful dream. I dreamed that I was getting out of bed and found my house full of those freaky tall African anthills. There were ants everywhere. I ran outside and my yard looked the same way.

And there was no one else around. I was alone in a world of ants.

Weird, huh?

going back to bed

Friday, October 06, 2006

CC and Wegmans:the romance may be over

You know, there's something to be respected in crass consumerism sometimes, IMHO.

Every other business in the world just expects people to accept that businesses make more money when the Christmas decorations are up. I'm guessing that Wegmans has decided that doing that is a little bit tacky.

So they put up the attached cheesy sign to:

A. Make their customers feel bad for not giving them more money faster by starting their Christmas shopping in early October.

B. Make their customers feel bad for thinking Christmas decorations in October is stupid.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Taking people out for ice cream" vs "showing up drunk at the residence hall:" My final Foley post, I hope.

The "showing up drunk at the Residence hall" story, if true, does change things, IMHO. I'm reserving judgement until more on this comes out, but it may make me change my mind.

Part of the issue I had with running Hastert out of town on a rail was that when people talked about "inappropriate behavior" that the House leadership should have seen as a problem, the examples they kept giving were indistinguishable from behaviors of a somewhat lonely guy with non-vile intentions. (e.g Offering to take people out for ice-cream, auctioning off a dinner with Foley to the highest-bidding page to benefit a charity.)

Let's say the Republican party HAD made a fuss about some of that earlier stuff. If the headlines had been "Hastert to Gay Congressman: Stop taking pages out for ice cream" whose side would most UUs have been on? The "drunk at the residence hall" story is finally something Hastert COULD HAVE punished Foley for without looking like he was on a Witch Hunt to get the gay guy.

Now I'm pretty sure some Republicans on the Hill feel that for a gay man to even EXIST is inappropriate behavior, actually I know that. I've met some of them. And if we pretend we're talking about a straight male congressman asking female pages out for ice cream, the "talk to him about it and tell him to cut it out" approach seems about what one would expect.

And if Kirk Fordham was such a stand-up guy and thought Foley was such a predator, why did he keep working for Foley for another two years? If you thought your boss was a sexual predator and you couldn't do anything about it, wouldn't you at least change jobs? (Which Fordham did eventually, but not until two years after he said he first made complaints.)

But again, if Foley was showing up drunk at the residence hall, this is FINALLY something that is so far outside the realm of normal behavior that we can blame the R's for not looking into it more fully.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Very cool installation art peice

I Think I've mentioned the "Jesus Prank" I assisted in pulling in college, where we used a low raft to float a guy who looked like Jesus out into the middle of the lake during the campus treelighting ceremony.

I'm reminded of it tonight as I read about something a bit similar in concept, but much cooler.

An artist named Michael Gross has out together an installation peice where one actually walks on the water. From the installation's website:

Bridge is a spectacular new site-specific design commission for Dilston Grove by Michael Cross. Housed in a former church, (one of the earliest examples of poured concrete construction and a Grade II listed building), the piece comprises submerging two thirds of the inside of the church in water, and producing a series of steps which rise out of the apparently empty man-made ‘lake’ as you walk across them. Each step emerges one step in front of you and disappears back underneath behind you as you go. This ‘bridge’ is purely mechanical, the weight of the person on it depresses each step a little, this force activates a submerged mechanism which raises the next step.

The public are invited to walk out on it as if walking on water, eventually reaching the middle of the lake, thirty steps and twelve meters from the shore. There they will stand alone and detached, stranded in the middle of a plane of water until they choose to return the way they came. For some people this experience of being cut off and surrounded by water will be peaceful, for others terrifying. For some walking across the water will be pure childish joy, whilst others will be too scared to try.

I actually think that could be a pretty incredible meditative experience.


Hanging out with my favorite hippie

I was hanging out with Edie-who-sells-books tonight and we were talking about nutrition. She complained that if she drinks at all, she's sweaty the next day.

"That's weird. I get sick if I have much hard liquor, which means I don't drink much at all these days, but my realy problem is caffiene. I'm getting to where if I have any of it I get weirdly paranoid." I explained.

"You know what used to do that to me?" Edie said, "getting high." I laughed. "No, really, I always thought anyone who looked at me would know. One time we had a 100 pound bag of pot in the trunk of my car and..."

"Edie!" I said with mock consternation. "That's a bag of pot the size of, like, Calista Flockhart!"

"I know, I know" Edie said, making me wish I hadn't interrupted her. "Well, you don't want to hear my old hippie stories..."

"Are you kidding?" I said, "Edie, you are my all-time favorite hippie."

That seemed to really touch Edie. "That is SUCH a sweet thing to say," she said.

"It's not that much of a compliment. You should see how obnoxious all the other hippies I've known have been," I said.

"Oh, I KNOW." She said "Honey, I was THERE."

I have the coolest friends.


Foley again.

Responding to some of the comments in the first Foley post.

((There were several other adults who knew about Foley's sexually explicit emails and other communication since Fall 2005.)))

Again, the emails weren't sexually explicit. You can read them by clicking right here.

They were a little weird and asked for a picture of the kid, but they weren't particularly over any line. That's the problem with Foley's behavior. It was a little TOO friendly, but never over the line in a public way.

(E.g. The Washington Post today writes: Another page had won a lunch with the congressman that year at the annual page auction. When he asked to go to Morton's steakhouse, Foley said on the House floor that the two of them "proceeded to cruise down in my BMW to Morton's. And all of this story is meant to make you all feel jealous that you were not the high bidders." Yeah, that sounds ominious now. But two weeks ago would any of us looked at that and gone "Gee, Foley's a sexual abuser?" I think we would have said "OK, Foley's kind of an obnoxious goofball. Oh well." The Post story is full of things that we wouldn't think much of if we didn't know Foley was really after these kids. Their whole article is like "He liked to TAKE THE PAGES OUT FOR ICE CREAM!" Cue scary music...)

The IM transcripts were the ones that were sexually explicit and so far NOBODY has shown any proof that the Republican leadership knew about them before somebody gave them to ABC news a week ago.

Think about it like you're a member of the Republican house leadership:

Last spring you found out about emails where Foley says things like "How are you weathering the hurricaines...are you safe?....send me a pic of you as well..." and those emails were all you knew about, you would probably say to yourself "I'm not THRILLED that a congressman, especially a gay one, is sending emails to a high school boy, but if this comes to light, it all looks explainable enough. We will just call anyone who is suspicious on the matter a homophobe."

But what if you did know about the IMs? You would also know that:

a. It's very unlikely that a sex scandal will stay under wraps for very long, especially one involving a kid, and when it comes out Foley will have to quit.

b. Foley's district is heavily Republican and would happily elect a decent other Republican in Foley's place if given the chance. Foley would be easily replaced.

So what would you do? You'd find a nice young Palm Beach lawyer or businessman, a little more conservative than Foley while you're at it, then take the leadership in to meet with Foley. You would hand Foley the IM transcripts and tell him that his doctor has told him that he's sick and all the stress of being a congressman is making him sicker. And he's an alcoholic.

Foley holds a press conference and resigns in April or so, perhaps even introducing his replacement. Governor Bush shows up to wish Foley the best and say nice things about Foley's replacement.

Foley goes to rehab.

Now if the chat transcipts ever do come out, the party leadership can say "We made him quit, but we wanted to let him keep his dignity." New Palm Beach candidate is shocked and saddened by the whole thing, and probably easily elected.

Looking at it from this way, I think there's just about no way the R's knew about the more explicit stuff. The way to damage control to make it go away, and the potential for what is happening now to happen, is just too obvious.

(((Regarding Steve's quote of AA, there's been a long standing practice of rolling older gays. A younger kid used a bait, the guy propositions him, and then a crowd of guys surround the gay demanding money or they'll call the cops...Foley is a predator but it's a jungle out there and he may have preyed on a kid who was looking for prey too.))))

I do agree that this sounds like blaming the victim. Judging by the gay kids I knew in high school and how they regarded their relationships with older men, the kid in the IM transcripts either thought he was in love, or knew the older guy would eventually get rid of him in the end and was along for the ride. (I had one very cynical gay friend in high school who viewed his older dates this second way. As far as they ever said to me, the other gay kids felt, well, like I did at sixteen when an older, more powerful man paid attention to me.)

I don't doubt that rolling happens. But this doesn't sound like it to me.

Though I don't recall being a poor innocent lamb at sixteen, I do believe that adults should basically stay away from teenagers sexually because the potential for abuse is very much there.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Calling all clever people.

S omebody asked CC to come up with a (preferably clever) name for a UU church information table at a large public event.

The best I could come up with on the fly was "Who are you people, anyway?" which is probably not the tone they want.

I slept funny and had nightmares and am not 100 percent in the mood for flights of creative inspiration. If someone wants to make a brilliant suggestion, I would be happy to send said suggestion to the person who asked and take all the credit.



Foley FAQ

Because a lot of people seem confused about a few of the facts of this case.

Q. I've seen some of the emails and they look weird, but not that bad. What's all the fuss about?

A. There were two different sets of communications. There are some weird-sounding but tame emails where the kid isn't into it from 2005 and some really raunchy IMs where another kid was into it* from 2003. Especially at the beginning, news stories were only quoting the emails which had a lot of people wondering what the fuss was about. Anyway, the non-work safe IMs are here and a billion other places. The tamer emails are quoted lots of news stories. Here's the blog where they first appeared.

Q. Were these kids minors? What are the age of consent implications?

A. According to the actual laws quoted on Ageofconsent.com, the age of consent in DC is 16. (DC does have a four-year window, as has been widely reported, but the "Child' means a person who has not yet attained the age of 16 years" bit says to me that the need for the window ends at 15.) As far as I've heard all of these kids were 16. However, the kid he was emailing with was in Louisiana, and there the age of consent is 17 and homosexual sex is illegal. The sodomy law may be irrelevant as the two didn't actually ever get together. Of course, there are laws about coming on to minors on the internet, some of them written by Foley himself as head of the committee on such things. I didn't find the full text of those in a quick search, but it's pretty safe to assume Foley broke them I'd say.

Q. Does this sound like a setup to you? How can a man remain in congress for over a decade and yet be so indiscreet?

A. The whole thing sounded fishy to me in the beginning, I admit. I wondered if there was some sort of sting. Having read up on it, I'm ready to concede that Foley was just stupid. He was likely too impressed with his own power and in the case of the IMs probably assumed the kid's encouragement meant the kid was gay, too, and thus unlikely to rat him out. Foley's checking himself into rehab may be a peice of the puzzle, too. It, of course, excuses nothing if he was drunk when he did some of this stuff, but it does suggest why he might have gone about it so sloppily.

Q. So is there any proof that the IMs are real?

A. I haven't heard of any. That said, it's probably unAmerican to take Foley's quick resignation as proof, but it might be reasonable to do so in this case. IMHO, he would have fought it if only the weird-sounding emails were real.

Q. So House leadership has known for HOW long?

A. Their claim is that they found out about the weird-sounding emails last year and told Foley to cut it out, but that they didn't know about the much freakier IMs from several years ago. This actually sounds pretty believable to me. Yes, there are reports that Republican staffers "warned" pages about Foley, but in the abscence of other evidence, I'm quicker to believe that these warnings were more like "Teenage boys should stay away from the gay guy" than "we have actual evidence Foley has done something wrong."
That said, Foley's ex-opponent in Florida is a billionaire and even in a 54-percent-Bush-voting-district, it's easier to hold onto a seat than win it again. So the coverup strategy is at least possible. But I'd still say from what I've heard the House leadership's side is no less believable.

Q. How did this story break?

A. The teenager who was emailed told his mother, who sent copies of the emails to a couple of different news sources around Florida. Then the teenager backed out and refused to corroborate anything. So the newspapers were stuck with a story with no corroborating sources and emails that were weird, but not explicit. The Miami Herald sent the emails to the FBI. Eventually, an anonymous person opened a blog called "Stop Sex Predators" and posted the emails. You can judge for yourself on the blog, but it looks to me like it was pretty obviously opened soley for the purpose of releasing the emails. Wonkette picked up the story, ABC news reported that Wonkette was reporting it. (You will note that up until now, we're only talking about the slightly creepy emails. As the first stories were only about them, that set up a lot of the confusion I alluded to in the first question.)
Anyway, when ABC news started reporting the emails, somebody sent them the raunchier IM transcript.

Q: Anything else?

A: Wonkette says it best: The question that remains: Who sent the emails to Stop Sex Predators? Someone made sure this all broke as October began — someone way too smart and Machiavellian to be an actual employee of the Democratic Party.

Q: Oh, and could you please provide a picture of Foley with George Allen?

A: Oh, happily, but I'm sepia-toning it first.


*Naturally it's still abusive when the teenager is into it. And Foley clearly starts the sex talk.

Now that could a be a metaphor for just about anything

I just woke up from an awful dream. There was a volcano erupting and there was no time to escape. Some people were preparing, which in my dream meant putting their kids on top of the refrigerator. TheCSO got the place we were staying more or less reasdy, but some of our friends left the apartment to look around and apparently got lost. I went out ot look for them. There had been plans for a town festival that day and lots of people were partying. The weirdest was a marching band marching toward the volcano. I tried to tell them to run for their lives but they ignored me.

I found a part of town where EVERYBODY was goofing off and partying and I was like "Doesn't anyone care that a volvano is on the loose?" Which to my awake self sounds weird.

That was about when I woke up.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Everyone loves a purity test

So a friend of mine sends me this myspace message that is essentially a purity test:


Smoked pot -- $10
Did acid -- $5
Ever had sex at church -- $25
Woke up in the morning and did not know the person who was next to you -- $40
Had sex with someone on MySpace -- $25
Had sex for money -- $100
Vandalized something -- $20
Had sex on your parents' bed -- $10
Beat up someone -- $20
Been jumped -- $10
Crossed dressed -- $10
Given money to stripper -- $25
Been in love with a stripper -- $20
Kissed some one who's name you didn't know -- $0.10
Hit on some one of the same sex while at work -- $15
Ever drive drunk -- $20
Ever got drunk at work, or went to work while still drunk -- $50
Used toys while having sex -- $30
Got drunk, passed and don't remember the night before -- $20
Went skinny dipping -- $5
Had sex in a pool -- $20
Kissed someone of the same sex -- $10
Had sex with someone of the same sex -- $20
Cheated on your significant other -- $10
Masturbated -- $10
Cheated on your significant other with their relative or close friend -- $20
Done oral -- $5
Got oral -- $5
Done / got oral in a car while it was moving -- $25
Stole something -- $10
Had sex with someone in jail -- $25
Made a nasty home video -- $15
Had a threesome -- $50
Had sex in the wild -- $20
Been in the same room while someone was having sex -- $25
Stole something worth over more than a hundred dollars -- $20
Had sex with someone 10 years older -- $20
Had sex with someone under 21 and you are over 27 -- $25
Been in love with two people or more at the same time -- $50
Said you love someone but didn't mean it -- $25
Went streaking -- $5
Went streaking in broad daylight -- $15
Been arrested -- $5
Spent time in jail -- $15
Peed in the pool -- $0.50
Played spin the bottle -- $5
Done something you regret -- $20
Had sex with your best friend -- $20
Had sex with someone you work with at work -- $25
Had anal sex -- $80
Lied to your mate -- $5
Lied to your mate about the sex being good -- $25

Now, when you're done adding up your total, (I don't blame you, it's human nature.)

Of the following choices, what is the saddest:

A. That my total was $525.00
B. That I got that assuming I was only fined once for each infraction
C. That I had to pull out the calculator to get my total.
D. That none of my total was illegal drugs or drinking.
E. That I'm not sure if I have technically had sex in a church or not, but fined myself for even having to puzzle it out.
F. That I wondered if a scantily-clad drag queen counted as a stripper.
G. That I was spending time on Myspace at all.

Yeah, yeah, I know.



Mixed feelings on the latest Republican scandal.

USA today has nice article on the Foley case. It turns out that Foley is the fourth Republican this year to resign because of ethics violations. Damn.

(Clarification: That's a "Wow, that's a comparitively big number" damn, not a "Gosh, I'm disappointed" damn.)

I do recall reading some time ago that one of my smarter ex-clients had compared the Republicans' current situation to the Democrats' situation right before the early 90's Republican revolution. Too much power makes one cocky, then moakes on feel one can get away with stuff, and that cheeses off the voters.

I hope he's right. I don't always agree with the Democrats, but the Republicans have indeed gone too far.

And I may not be thinking rationally about the Foley situation. If say, William Donald Schafer had pulled this with a teenage girl, I doubt I would have much sympathy.

I know I shouldn't feel bad for Congressman Foley. Sending the emails to that page was a really screwed-up and awful thing to do. Above all, stupid. I don't want a stupid man writing my laws. But knowing what that guy must have gone through and the sort of intolerance that he must have had to listen to is making it hard for me to totally condemn him either.

This is a weird analogy, but I find myself thinking about the Muslims who killed nuns in the wake of the Pope's comments on Islam's violent nature. (A faithful if oversimplified rendering of what the Pope said, not my own opinion.) What is it about people hating us that makes us just want to go out and prove them right?

But what's done is done and the Democrats are understandably moving in for the kill. No, Congressman Foley probably doesn't deserve to be allowed to retain his dignity. In the end, he knew that if found out, his actions would result in congressional inquiries and such and they're already starting. But I can't help feeling that the situation sort of sucks all around.

I guess I'm just a bleeding heart that way CC.


* From the article Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California resigned in November after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes. Former majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas was indicted on state campaign finance violations and resigned in June. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has agreed to plead guilty to charges of corruption and is not seeking re-election.

Are you a "thoughtful observer" or a "daring thrill-seeker?"

Y'all have to see the CIA's recruiting site. Well, presumably it's one of them. If you take the "CIA personality quiz" (CC came up "thoughtful observer," FWIW,) there is a disclaimer at the end that says:

The myths quiz is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Responses to questions are not saved, and the CIA has no access to your personal information. This quiz will not affect your ability to qualify for a career with the CIA.

Spiffy. The actual career site when you get past the quiz is pretty cool, but my understanding from my friends who've worked there is that they don't like bloggers. Ah well.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

CC puts things on notice

Hat tip to the Happy Feminist

Another (really minor) blogging project

Chalicechick is in a writing group where every month we write a short story on a randomly selected topic to stretch ourselves creatively. The stories I produce there aren't really good enough for me to ever worry about publishing them and I'm only writing them as an exercise in the first place.

That said, if anybody wants to read and comment on them, I've decided to start archiving them here. I should put up about one a month and I plan to put a note here when I add something.

As Linguist Friend's and theCSO's contributions make this technically a group blog, TheChaliceblog isn't eligible for Blogger Beta. One of the reasons I put this second blog project together is to get a look at Blogger Beta and see what it can do. So far, I'm not too excited about the design elements, but I'm delighted that they allow tagging posts into categories, something that I have really wanted for a long time.


The Sexy Cancer

I am really unsure what I think about Boobiethon '06. If you're not familiar, this is a campaign for bloggers to send in pictures of their breasts to the main Boobiethon site, where people can have a peek for a $50 donation to the Susan G. Komen fund for Breast Cancer research.

Once, I noticed that a male friend always uses breast cancer stamps. I asked him about it and he said "I like breasts and want to help them out." I liked that. And it does have a great deal of marketing appeal.

I seem to recall reading at some point that animal rights charities don't like it that their donations fall when they don't put the cutest possible endangered animals on their brochures. I guess that's how I'm feeling about the breast campaign. Are the cuter parts of us really that much more worth saving?

Now, even though the fuzzy tiger is raising money, lots of animals are benefiting, and I'm sure that donations to breast cancer specific charities will eventually benefit people suffering from all kinds of cancers. If nothing else, finding a cure for breast cancer has to help at least somewhat in finding cures for other types. And Breast Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. It's a perfectly good thing to raise money for breast cancer research, though as Think Before you Pink points out, a lot of companies do things like have $500,000 marketing campaigns to tell people they donated $300,000 to breast cancer research.

But still, connecting the sexiness to the cancer bugs me.