Saturday, November 29, 2008

I was kinda hoping

That the "Bat Missile" was something one fires at the Joker.

Obviously, I was disappointed.

When this SR-71 blackbird was donated

To the museum, the two guys charged with flying it across the country
broke the speed record for a flight across America, going from LA to
DC in an hour and four minutes.

Upon landing at Dulles, they handed the plane over to the
Smithsonian. Those Air Force guys have style, us gotta give them that.

Dr. Charles Stark Draper

Was the father of inertial guidance. AND a champion ballroom dancer.

Call it a guess, but I'm thinking this man had no problems getting laid.


Sent from my iPhone

It's probably a sign of my general lameness

That in a room full of actual spaceships and such, I was most psyched
to see the UFO model from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Ah well.

FWIW, that white thing behind it is the Space Shuttle Enterprise.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CC is grumpy today

You know what would cheer her up? A youtube or something with a newborn baby elephant.

Like this one.

who notes that this elephant was born in Germany. Something about an elephant with a German name is hilarious.

Make your own joke day continues

Among Bush's pardons the other day, someone who killed bald eagles.

No, really.

_Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 1995 to unlawfully killing three bald eagles in southeast Missouri. He improperly used pesticide in hamburger meat to kill coyotes, but ended up killing many other animals, including the bald eagles. Collier, who was convicted for unauthorized use of a pesticide and violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, was sentenced Feb. 2, 1996 in the Eastern District of Missouri.

Snark aside, the whole list is worth a look. It's a very strange-looking group of people. I wondered at first if the folks on the list had tons of support within their communities, but the air force drug dealer is from literally two miles from me and I've never heard of him.


In honor of my insane busyness, it's make your own joke day at the Chaliceblog!

Ann Coulter broke her jaw and had to have it wired shut.

Best snarky comment gets a used book.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Costco and Food Stamps

Since I've been buying my own grocieries, I've had a policy.

If someplace won't accept food stamps, I won't shop there.

This policy started the first time I lived alone, which was in New Orleans. Metairie, actually, if you know the area. I lived close to a large, somewhat dirty supermarket with a French name that oozed local charm. I went there a few times, until Katy-the-Wise pointed out the food stamp policy, explaining that part of local charm was discouraging some of the locals who were percieved to be less charming from shopping there.

The fact that I was living at the poverty line didn't really play into it. I was a grad student. I was just visiting the poverty line and was free to leave it on my next turn. That said, I do have a mom who works in low-income housing and has for most of my life. Various realities about poor people, at least the ones my mother works with in Anacostia, were dinnertime conversation for my entire childhood. (Though once or twice, I was informed in hushed tones that there was a gang war going on, but that I shouldn't inform my father because "it might upset him.")

Anyway, I formed a policy, left local charm behind and started shopping at the Kroger with the hoi polloi.

Years later, I would see with annoyance that my local supermarket here in Northern Virginia had suddenly stopped taking food stamps. I asked the manager about it, and he showed me the paperwork. Nobody had used food stamps at that location in the last year, and the government had removed my supermarket from the program. Wasn't even their decision.


OK, fine. I still shop there.

But I also sometimes go to Costco. Indeed, at this very second, I am typing this while lying on a mattress that was purchased at Costco.

And now I read on the that they don't take food stamps.

To be honest, rationalization was my first reaction. It's Costco, I thought. They treat their workers well, they have cheap stuff and the return policy of the gods. I really like Costco and always have.

I had about convincd myself that the occaisional trip might still be OK, when I started to check out the comments on the story.

...Reduce Government involvement and complexity. Keep distance from entitlement recipients. Remain profitable. This is why Southwest Airlines doesn't accept foodstamps either...

Umm... OK.

...I am not trying to be a hard ass here but what business does someone drawing government assistance (READ: OUR TAX DOLLARS) have shopping at a pay-to-shop membership club?

Just sayin'....

...Apparently Sam's Club does not accept food stamps either, and only some BJ's locations do. I wonder what percentage of folks on food stamps have huge freezers?...

...It seems like anyone on food stamps smart enough to stretch a dollar, find the best deals, figure out if cost's fee is worth it, etc. Would be smart enough not to be on food stamps...

...While there are some exceptions, I don't think most poor people remain poor because they are smart and disciplined...


...the lines at that place are already insane, do you really want to be 3rd in line behind some heifer with 100+ items which are 50% food stamp and 50% not food stamp, but 100% mixed together? Even they manage to integrate the check out, I've been in line at the grocery and had to watch the idiots put back piles of non-edible stuff that they suddenly realized is not covered and that they have no way to pay for. ...

Excuse me?

...the poor with food stamps bring more trouble than any lack of fees is worth. whether it is shoplifting or purchasing of only low margin items/ghettoizing the atmosphere of the store..its just not worth it. if it were, they would have accepted them from day one...

And I'm realizing, I don't want to shop with these people.

who cherrypicked some of the nasty comments, but there were lots and lots to choose from.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Joel is right, this is awesome

Hat tip to CUUMBAYA

Clearly, Chalicechick picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue.

Reasons why today has sucked so far:

1. Began with cat yowling at some unGodly hour.
2. Traffic jam
3. Busted copier at work
4. Generalized crankiness at work due to (3)
5. Project Runway isn't coming back anytime soon.
6. My billable hours are insufficient
7. My tax and contracts outlines are laughable.
8. There are depressing stories all over the place.
9. I have contracts class tonight
10. Smartcars take a lot of damage from deer and are costly to fix.
11. A 29-year-old guy recently died of natural causes half an hour after being repeatedly tasered by the cops. The depressing part about that is that it is FAR from the most depressing story about the cops tasering people that I've heard recently.


Love and Kisses,


Wanda Sykes on Gay Marriage

I actually posted this awhile ago just because I thought it was funny. Wanda Sykes is really awesome. But this portion of one of her comedy routines becomes all the more poignant given that she has recently come out, saying:

"Now, I got to get in their face. I'm proud to be a woman. I'm proud to be a black woman, and I'm proud to be gay."

Sykes also said that she had kept her private life to herself, but took the passage of proposition 8 as an attack. I'm sorry that she couldn't continue to keep her private life private if that was her first choice, but I'm glad to have strong voices like hers on the side of what I believe in.

Anyway, yay Wanda!


Ps. Speaking of awesomeness look who lost his Senate race!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Links of the Awesome

People give me crap about defending Martha Stewart, but I swear the woman has a freak flag that she simply chooses not to fly.

Corporations class is like this.

Anyone up for a night at the theatre?

The Obama girls are touring potential schools. CC's pick Sidwell Friends and Fausto's pick Georgetown Day are both on the short list.

If you followed the Clinton campaign at all, you might be dubious at The Daily Beast's Choice to hire Mark Penn to do a survery on sexism. But they did, and he found that American women are pissed off.

Are you sure it isn't just because they were talking to Mark Penn?


You mock-a my bike, I break-a you face II

OK, so I didn't buy the last quirky looking bike I wanted. Now I Really, really want this one.

Is the argyle too much? Tell me it's not...


Sunday, November 16, 2008

From a friend's livejournal

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
Robert A. Heinlein

What would you include if you were writing this sentence yourself, for someone living today?

who responded,

Write a love letter,
Iron a shirt,
Amuse a child,
Format a Word Document,
Mix a gin gimlet,
Fill out a tax form,

but above all,


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Minor Comic Book Geekery

5 ways that Sandman changed the world.

I totally need to reread that series. This is where I would usually give you a link to amazon and encourage you to click and buy, but in honor of Edie-who-sells-books, I'm going to tell you to go to your local comic book shop instead. And buy, because seriously, y'all, Sandman is great stuff.

In other news, a trade paperback from a comic called "Y:The Last Man" appeared in my house at some point. I guess it's theCSO's. Or if you've stayed in my house recently and it's yours, let me know. Anyway, I was thumbing through and saw that a character has a zippo lighter with "Fuck Communism" engraved on it and I felt super cool because I knew what that was a reference to.

Then I realized I SERIOUSLY needed to re-examine my definition of "Super cool"

Ah well.

Hat tip to Jason Pitzl-Waters' Twitter Feed for the Sandman link.

who can't believe she just hat-tipped a twitter feed, but there you go

Ps. This may be a Gen-Xer thing, but have you guys ever found yourselves liking a really stupid pop song from your younger years at least partially because you have happy memories of making fun of it with your college friends?

I've noticed that in a decade's time, my ironic appreciation for this lame song has become unironic and it's weirding me out.

Cory Maye's Appellate Brief

This has actually been out for a few days, but I hadn't gotten a chance to post it yet.

Long time readers will recall that I've been following this case for a long time, but I forgive you if you've forgotten the details as I think I'm the only one in my blogosphere who is following it.

If you need a refresher, here you go:

Remember the Corey Maye case?

CC presents the other side on Corey Maye

Wahoo! Cory Maye gets at least part of a new trial

Need something to be outraged about? Click here.

If you've been wondering who this chap Corey Maye is...

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

In DC? Like to walk? Want to help the homeless?

I'm planning to participate in DC's Help the Homeless Walkathon next week.

Is anyone else participating? I'm fine with walking with Georgetown's team, but it would be fun to walk with some Chalicesseurs, too.

who will probably hit you up for money after she's registered, but right now is merely looking for some walking buddies.

Paul Krugman kinda scares me.

Not to sure about this "Depression Economics" idea.


who is by nature a fairly debt-averse person.

Michelle the lady, Schools for the Girls and other stuff that isn't really my business.

Maybe it's a Washington thing, but I'm loving all the stories about the Obamas and their transition to Washington DC life. I don't blame George W. Bush for being happy to show them around the White House. If I were he, I would be counting the seconds until I could head back to Crawford.

The Washington Post ran a good article about the DC Public school closest to the White House. It is not, to put it mildly, a typical example of DC public schools.

I'm still pulling for Sidwell Friends, though. I was an extremely strong advocate of public education until I got to know some YRUUers who go to Sidwell Friends. I have a fascination with the place now. My YRUUers who go there, and the friends they have brought to YRUU activities, have been really impressive and all seem so articulate on a wide range of subjects. And they LOVE their school. I really want that for Sasha and Malia.

I find myself thinking about Michelle Obama a lot, too, hoping she's able to find things to do as First Lady that will take advantage of her serious intellectual horsepower. I kinda think I would hate being First Lady. To me, it just looks like eight (knock on wood) years of trying to avoid screwing up. The chances to distinguish yourself and do actual good seem slim, and even if you do distinguish yourself and do actual good, people hate you. (cf. Eleanor Roosevelt.)

That said, Michelle's a good deal more polished and less awkward than I am. Plus she did better than I'm doing at a law school that's harder than mine. I'd say such a person will probably be able to figure something out.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Multiple intelligences quiz

Your result for Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test...


41% Logical, 37% Spatial, 29% Linguistic, 51% Intrapersonal, 18% Interpersonal, 47% Musical, 18% Bodily-Kinesthetic and 12% Naturalistic!

"This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. Those who are strongest in this intelligence are typically introverts and prefer to work alone. They are usually highly self-aware and capable of understanding their own emotions, goals and motivations. They often have an affinity for thought-based pursuits such as philosophy. They learn best when allowed to concentrate on the subject by themselves. There is often a high level of perfectionism associated with this intelligence.

Careers which suit those with this intelligence include philosophers, psychologists, theologians, writers and scientists." (Wikipedia)

Take Howard Gardner's Eight Types of Intelligence Test
at HelloQuizzy

Hat tip to Earthbound Spirit.



Several clarifications on this church and 501(c)3 stuff and what I think about it, sorry this has been too long in coming, I'm just swamped with work and school.

Suffice to say:

1. I probably spoke too soon about the Mormons. As much as I hate the idea of spending church money on those ads, it was legal for them to do so. Probably it should remain so. I have a basic mistrust of the idea of 501(c)3s using their money to lobby for things and tend to think lobbying groups should be separate from religious and charitable organizations so that you can give to the second without giving to the first. But that's not the way the law is written and I think most people would probably disagree with me.

I know a little bit about lobbying, what works and what doesn't, and I think a vast majority of lobbying money and efforts are for all practical purposes wasted. I think the UUA and the UU organizations that do it could be actually helping people with the money and time they spend on it. If nothing else, it doesn't encourage me to give them any money.

The Mormons spent a lot of money that could have done a lot of good, but their ads were effective in getting the legislation they wanted. Yet at the same time, I wonder if ten years from now even they will consider it a good investment.

2. As much as I hate it when UUs say "People are suffering, clearly we should lobby the government to do something about that" rather than trying to solve the problem themselves, that also is legal. Things do happen in UU churches sometimes that run afoul of the law as written, but we don't make a habit of it. Yes, most of us could string together a few anecdotes and make it SOUND like a habit, but a few anecdotes in a lifetime of churchgoing does not a habit make.

3. The stories written by life-long Mormons who are leaving the church over the proposition 8 issue break my heart and I hate to think we do that to people on the other side politically, though I know we do.

4. I agree with Joel that UUs, particularly President Sinkford, have gone over the line in the past in delineating "good people who agree with me vs. everybody else who is racist/classist/all around stupid/evil." Joel's example of Sinkford writing that those who agree with him on illegal immigration are "people of conscience", and are "called to acknowledge that racism has blinded most Americans" seems a good example to me.

I would never want such statements to be in themselves a violation of our tax status, but I really think they suck and do more damage to the church than most people who agree with them realize.

5. I think lobbying gives us something to point to that "We" are doing to help those in need without actually doing any work.

So I hope that helps. I should have been clearer on some of that stuff from the beginning.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Oh, this is awesome.

I actually started researching my last post on proposition 8 with a plan. After reading about how African-Americans weren't really at fault for the loss in California, I was going to write about how NEITHER African-Americans NOR Mormons were really to blame for the loss.

Mid-post, I read a little more on how much the LDS church had actually done, and I shifted my position to "Hell, yes, it's in a large part their fault, and we should SO be taxing them as a grassroots political organization if they plan to act like one."

It didn't hurt that what the LDS church did to convince me that the LDS church needed to be taxed is pretty much exactly the stuff I've been trying to talk the UUA out of doing for years.

Anyway, there was one thing that really surprised me in all of the coverage I was reading. The term "marriage" aside, the Mormons said they were cool with gay rights.

The LDS Church has articulated it is not “anti-gay” but rather pro-marriage and it “does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights.” On November 5th, Elder L. Whitney Clayton stated the LDS Church does not oppose “civil unions or domestic partnerships.”

So EqualityUtah is calling them on it. They are proposing five bills carefully tailored to giving gays rights that the LDS church has said it is OK with in official statements.

So far, the LDS church isn't commenting on the proposed bills.

who really admires people who, rather than just bitching and complaining about something like this, look at the situation and come up with a way to build anew. So many people, CC included, just get stuck on something bad that happens. CC eventually moves on, but not as quickly as she wishes she did.

Before the YRUU advisor meeting

"So, is the inaugural ball you're going to the night of the inauguration?" TogetherBeth asked.

"It's the night of the 19th," I said. "There are inaugural balls all that week."

"Of course," Jana-who-Creates put in "So people can go to MULTIPLE inaugural balls"

"Well, yeah," I said. "That way you can amortize the cost of the dress across multiple events."*

"You think that people who go to MULTIPLE BALLS wear the SAME DRESS?" Jana asks.

"I was planning to, if I went to two," I said.

"Maybe they have friends who are the same size and trade dresses with them." Jana suggested.

Eventually, we started talking about YRUU.


*It's a testament to my nerdiness that when I talk like this, nobody bats an eyelash.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Whom do we blame for Proposition 8?

First off, Not African-Americans.

I know, I saw the CNN numbers, too. And they look pretty scary. 70 percent of African-American voters voted for proposition 8. But at the link above, a writer named shanikka at DailyKos breaks the numbers down, and the assumption that the African-American vote made enough difference to swing that election just falls apart.

It's been 5+ years since I had statistics, but her numbers look good to me.

The lack of support among African-Americans didn't help, I'll grant you, but it wasn't a deciding factor. All other things being equal, I'd rather think low things about people of my own color, so I'm regarding this as good news.

Besides, the "I voted for your civil rights so you should vote for mine" is about a two on Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development and I prefer to make my voting decisions at roughly a five.

The other favorite bad guy is the Mormon Church**, and I'm having a lot more trouble letting them off the hook, at least partially because I don't even like MY church meddling in politics even when I agree.

I really, really, think the Mormon Church, and indeed any church that takes a stand on a specific candidate or bill, should be taxed as a political organization.

Katy-the-Wise and I had an argument about this a few days ago, and I don't even feel like I lost*. She argued that taxation gave the government a level of control over the church that they shouldn't have. IMHO, lobbying just isn't a spiritual or charitable practice and non-spiritual and charitable practices of churches need to be taxed.

Also, I don't want to hear any more about politics in church than I have to. I don't want the candidates to have to pander to religion any more than they have to. I don't want candidates feeling that they need to suck up to ministers and I don't want ministers tempted with the sort of earthly power that asskissing politicians would be offering.


*If you don't know her, trust me on this, to argue with Katy-the-Wise is pretty much always to lose.

**FWIW, there are approximately 750,000 members of the Church in California (including those members who are not old enough to vote). The population of California is approximately 36,553,200, making Mormons about 2% of the population. That said, even if every Mormon of voting age voted yes on Prop. 8, they would only have been responsible for about 4% of the total number of voters who voted yes.

Cool, weird buildings

I've been off-and-on rereading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead recently. It's a very strange book that does some odd things to make its points. The one that gets me the most is a newspaper columnist who writes about architecture who is a fairly recent college graduate and the daughter of a partner in a famous architecture firm but is widely regarded as both an expert and an impartial judge of architecture for reasons I haven't grasped yet. Also, she spends much of the book with the theory that the foolish public would never, ever accept what is essentially modern architecture. (Though she thinks it's great.) The Fountainhead is set at a time when modern architecture was still a fairly new thing in America, but had been thriving in Europe for decades, which one would think even a reviewer fresh out of college would have known, to say nothing of an expert. And the book was written in the forties, when modern architecture was pretty well established even in America. And of course, the style she is so certain the public could never accept, or one very much like it, became the dominant architectural style for the rest of the century.

I get that we're supposed to see the folks who like modern architecture as visionaries that are ahead of their time, but the sheer pervasiveness of modern architecture by even the time the book was written serves to make the characters who say it's never going anywhere come off as crazy* (or at least a little stupid) to my reading, though I get that they're not supposed to.

But one of the things I can appreciate about the book is that everyone is tremendously passionate about architecture one way or another in an unrealistic but at least fairly logical way.

I would not say that I'm passionate on the subject, but I know a little bit about it because the history of architecture tracks art history to some degree, also I tend to hang around with engineers.

Anyway, I really enjoy when some website throws together a long list of cool-looking buildings around the world, and a few that are just plain funny-looking. The only one of these I've ever actually been to is one of the less cool ones, the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

So go, look, enjoy, and feel free to clue me in about what's going on with the Fountainhead, if only to tell me to improve my willing suspension of disbelief.


*She believes that greatness, such as the main character's architecture, is doomed to fail and will be destroyed by the 'collectivist' masses around them. So she feels she has to destroy him herself so he will be destroyed by someone who loves him, since his destruction is inevitable. I have known a couple of women who let love make them so incredibly axe crazy that they might well have found this logic acceptable, but it just seems so silly given the subsequent ubiquity of modern architecture.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

From yesterday's Washington Post


CC is at heart a simple creature.


And this brings her joy.


Optimism all over the place

I was in the lay service, so I attended both services this morning and was delighted that nobody crowed about the election at Joys and Concerns. I have to say that people have been much more respectful this election season than I have seen before. Gives me a bit of hope.

Though I'm not generally a fan of Joys and Concerns, I was pleased that today we asked those who had served in the armed forces to stand and gave them a round of applause in honor of Veteran's Day.

I had an interesting argument over politics in church the other day with Katy-the-Wise. I hope I held my own, but one usually doesn't in arguing with her.

I'm glad the lay service is over, as much fun as it was. Now I just have to write the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre show for next year.


Oh yeah, and work and study.


CC's lay service

Delivered by Chalicechick this morning as part of a lay service on "Technology and the Human Spirit"

One time when I was a kid, my mother casually mentioned that once I graduated from high school, I would probably never see my friends again. She explained that it was a part of life, you moved to college and wouldn't have time to write letters. Long distance phone conversations were expensive.
I'd get over it, she reasoned. I'd make new friends.
At the time, this conversation really upset me.
If I could go back and tell my twelve-year-old self a few things, I would explain how by the time I graduated from high school in 1996, e-mail would have revived letter writing to some degree and long distance would be cheap.
I see the internet and the cell phone as the two most important technological revolutions of the last 50 years, and it's interesting to me that they are both technologies that relate to connecting people to one another. There has been plenty of other innovation in almost every imaginable arena of American culture, but what has really changed lives is the ability to contact one another at virtually any time and the ability to exchange and collaborate on information over the internet. Cell phones, and particularly the internet, have been a defining technology that has changed the world much as the car and the printing press changed the world before.
If the degree of change is hard to get your head around, consider that, for example, soldiers in remote battlegrounds learning instantly of a peace treaty is for all practical purposes a brand new thing. For a famous example, the Battle of New Orleans was fought a full two weeks after the treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium.
Anyway, the internet is a new medium for human expression, and I tend think most of the praise and criticism it gets is misplaced for that reason. While a sad book can make me cry, I don't have any illusions that the book itself is doing that. It is merely a medium for human expression. The internet, like any medium, simply reflects aspects of human culture back on us. For example, I'm confused by people who are concerned about violent video games given that executions were a form of public entertainment for thousands of years in a huge number of cultures.
But one can, with admittedly some oversimplification, put the idea of an entirely new medium of near-universal communication into a framework of human history and scientific progress that explains a lot of the cultural weirdness of the late 20th century and a lot of human behavior now.
For me, at least, the explanation starts with an apple.
(Thow apple into the air, let drop)
We all knew when I let go of the apple, it was going to do that. But why?
A few thousand years ago, the average person would have said that it was love that attracted the apple to earth, the center of the universe. At that time, most of human interaction was face-to-face or in letter form. With the written word, people were able to transmit ideas across distances, though a public speech remained the most efficient means of getting a message to spread widely in a local area.
By the 9th century, Persian and Indian scientists had some idea of Newtonian physics, but until the Renaissance, for the rest of the world the universe was a place that we assumed was ruled by love and God's will. It must have been a comforting existence to be a part of a massive symphony with God as a conductor.
It's probably not a big surprise that when both the printing press and the Newtonian view of the universe came into being that there were a whole lot of revolutions and the idea of democracy seriously started to take root.
Newton's explanation for the apple was different. He took love out of the picture totally, explaining that the apple fell because all matter in the universe attracts all other matter in the universe, and indeed, the same force that might bring an apple down on Newton's head is impacting the orbit of the moon. In Aristotle's vision, the ethereal heavens had their own unending circular motions, totally unworldly and separate from our world of earth, air, fire and water. Newton showed that the same laws of nature apply to earth and sky, to apple and moon. A mechanistic universe.
The newly invented printing press was the medium of that era, and the sudden rise of cheap publication took Newton's ideas of a world where everything followed rules and the universe functioned like an extremely sophisticated machine all over Europe, and indeed the world. Of course, it also produced pamphlets that suggested Marie Antoinette was having lesbian affairs with the ladies of her court, rumors that historians deny but that at the time fueled the hatred for the French monarchy and likely made the French revolution a good deal bloodier than it had to be. Far be it from me to suggest that a more sophisticated view of the world necessarily makes us more reasonable. The printing press' contemporary critics understood that much.
Still, I'm sure you can imagine the comforts of a mechanistic universe. Everything happened because of something else, with God as a master engineer. There was a finite amount of stuff to figure out about the universe, and once we figured out on giant explanation, we would really know what was going on. Further, with the spread of all this knowledge and the rise of the middle class, common people were suddenly equipped to lead. Thus the rise of democracy and the reformation.
As if the loss of the idea that love was the force that ruled the universe wasn't enough, at this point we've figured out that the universe does not run totally like a machine and that we may never reach a point where we've figured things out.
That's scary, y'all.
Einstein showed that Newton was wrong, at least partially because his theories didn't properly predict the orbit of Mercury. Thus general relativity was born, and the idea that what scientists had thought were certainties were now strong probabilities. Now, Einstein was working on this stuff a hundred years ago, but it takes awhile for these things to seep into our cultural consciousness. And indeed, nothing has made humanity truly understand the idea that things we thought were certain aren't like the increasing speed of news. Sometime after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2008, Ashley Todd told police that she had been attacked by an Obama supporter. By Thursday morning, the whole country knew about the attack, both candidates had put out press releases. By Friday, the whole country knew that the attack had been a hoax and reporters were busy analyzing how the story had fed on itself and how the campaigns had reacted.
One thinks of Marie Antoinette and wonders how much damage Ms. Todd's lies could have done in a world without a 24-hour news cycle. Maybe a world with non-mechanistic, chaotic aspects that we are increasingly coming to accept needs a medium that gives us 24-hour access to information and resources that let us check our facts.
But much as the ancient world had personal Gods that spoke to prophets and oracles and the Renaissance had Luther declaring "let no priest come between a man and his God," our age also will offer new spiritual directions. It stands to reason that if we have new options for relating to information and new ways of relating to one another, new ways of thinking might be applied to spiritual ideas as well.
Our lay service committee spent a lot of time discussing people's fears about technology. To be honest, I don't really have any. The internet doesn't scare me any more than the printing press does. I think this digital age of ours gives us more choices. And even if some make self destructive or even evil choices, having choice is better than not.
But while the technology itself doesn't scare me, a couple of the possible theological responses to the technology do.
The more obvious of the two is fundamentalism. It seems to me that the world has for some time been in the grip of another iteration of the Great Awakening. People find the choices too scary and want to be told what to do and what to believe, so they reach out for fundamentalism. I'm sure you can think of examples of people who have fled for the comforts of certainty, but I'm guessing that no one in this room considers him or herself particularly susceptible to that.
My other concern is a little harder to explain.
In Norton Juster's delightful mathematical romanace "the Dot and the Line," it's said of the Dot "And she suddenly realized that what she thought was freedom and joy was nothing but anarchy and sloth." Freedom and Joy, and Anarchy and Sloth can easily be confused. I call that confusion "Whateverism", and I am very nervous about people using our chaotic, option-filled universe as a justification for adopting it as a theological approach.
"Whateverism" seems a real possibility for those of us who have accepted the Chaotic as a reality. Unitarian Universalism is based on the freedom of the individual to come to his or her own religious conclusions, a basis which builds in toleration of other religious beliefs. However, it also requires of us that we refuse to tolerate oppression - the refusal to allow that freedom to others. That is the proper limit of toleration.
The limit of toleration is not, on the other hand, the limit of criticism. I think we tend to confuse legitimate criticism with intolerance. It is important to be willing to make a distinction between toleration and approval, to choose between the bad and the good, the better and the best. Tolerance is good and necessary in this shrinking, diverse and chaotic world we live in, but we must not give up our freedom to judge wisely in its name.
I realize that what I'm asking here is for us to live an unambiguous life in an ambiguous universe.
I get that it's a lot to ask.
But the human spirit asks, indeed, demands it of us.

The Daily Show's bit on gay marriage.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I totally swear there was a rainbow over Northern Virginia the day
after the election.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I love this.

Now that Michelle Obama is a fashion plate, people are clamoring to design her Inaugural Ball Gown.

The Daily Beast decided to let some Project Rumway alumni give it a shot. Of course, they couldn't make it too easy, so the designers could only use Laura Bush’s 2005 Inaugural Ball dress, an American flag, burlap potato sacks and $10 worth of trims

Anyway, the results are here.

who was kinda dissappointed that her big Gay Boyfriend didn't take the contest a little more seriously. No, wait, lots of his serious designs still kinda look like that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sleepiness and hope

The building engineer gets into the elevator the same time I do this morning. I yawn.

“Obama?” he asks.

“Yes,” I say, smiling.

“It’s a good day.” He said.

“Yes, it is.”

The elevator doors open and my workday begins.


CC's front yard this morning

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

10pm -Current liveblog

9:55 IMHO, it's over. Congrats, President Obama. FWIW, he's ahead in the popular vote now.

10:00 Still watching the Senate races...

10:01 Katie Couric is now talking about the race in the past tense. (And she's not wearing pinstripes.)

10:28 CBS just went to Howard University, DC's traditionally black University, where at least hundreds if not thousands of students are cheering and crying and now I'm crying a little too. This is so awesome.


WAHOO!!!! Thank you, Virginia!!!

11:14 Sniffle. I'm a happy girl.

11:23 I didn't like the beginning of McCain's speech, where he talked about race. But the later part of the speech still seems fine.

Honestly, I've been weepy since CBS showed the students at Howard.

McCain gave a good speech, focusing on Unity. For awhile, I could see the guy whose hand I shook that time.

TheCSO observes "this is NOT the time to give Palin the mike"

They didn't.

11:46 Oh, and come next year, there will be 17 women in the US Senate. Not too shabby.

Students from George Washington University are gathered outside the White House, jumping around and cheering.


9:10 Damn. Saxby Chambliss is going to win. Come on, Georgia! Get with the program!

9:13 No more Liddy Dole. No more Liddy Dole. Godless heathens rock. OK, I feel better now.

9:15 And theCSO called. Back in a few


(At eight I was in the car.)

I am now camped out in front of my TV and intend to remain here until I have to go get theCSO from his precinct. As you can see from the photo, Dr. Frank-n-furter is running my research department.

8:33 I have real mixed feelings about Christopher Shays losing in Connecticut, which the exit polls say he will do by a large margin. Radley Balko says of Shays "Shays has a reputation for being “thoughtful” because he makes a public show of agonizing over big, important votes before casting them. Then, almost without fail, he ends up voting the wrong way."

I get that, but at the same time I really liked having some liberal Republicans around and he struck me as a fundamentally good guy.

8:39 Asshat Virginia Incumbent Democrat Jim Moran and Asshat Virginia Incumbent Republican Frank Wolf are both going to win their elections. Sigh. I would have been fine with losing both.

8:44 Right now Obama has slightly under three times McCain's electoral votes, but McCain is actually winning the popular vote. Electoral math. Sigh.

8:50 Forgot to mention, Liddy Dole is going down in North Carolina. Wahoo! Remind me to tell you about the time in my reporter days I gotcha'd her. It was awesome.

8:54 I had the chance to go to some of the big election watch parties and decided to stay home and blog instead. I am 90 percent OK with that decision. But as I watch the black church in Atlanta singing a Dresden Amen as civil rights leader Andrew Young is saying "This is a victory of faith over fear, grace over greed, and vision over violence," I kinda wish I were there.


I'm not doing well paying attention. It's a good thing I studied this morning. I will have to look over this stuff again.

The professor has asked for election results two more times. I kept my mouth shut.

Some people are already calling VA for Obama. I look forward to doing that, but I'm not ready yet.



During class, the professor asks "have any states been called yet?"

"No," I respond automatically, thus outing myself as someone who was watching the results, not the professor.

Nice one, Einstein.

We're doing 1016(a)5, which is about taxation of premium bonds. It's making my brain hurt.

As of this moment, Obama's winning Indiana.



Chili and biscuits is traditional. I think it started at the Kerry election, when theCSO went to work as a poll worker even though he was really sick. I brought him chili for dinner. Since then, I've brought him chili every time he works the polls.

I'm so charmed that he's a poll worker every election. It makes me feel snuggly inside. I'm a sucker for a guy with a sense of civic responsibility.

It was fun to bring him his chili and kiss him hello. He said that the turnout has been immense, even though there were so many absentee voters.

In other news, Ralph Nader and Joe the Plumber are clearly having some sort of contest to see who can be the biggest chode.



Left work a little early because one of the associates needed some papers dropped off with an attorney who was on my way to school. I managed to drop the papers off without getting lost. I will take my victories where I can get them.

I can tell the anticipation is bugging the anchors on the news channel almost as much as it is bugging me.



I've written a few more letters and I go hang out with one of the lawyers for a bit.

We talk about the election in general terms, how nasty things have been and how we can see rational reasons to vote either way, so we don't understand why anybody really cares about William Ayers and such. I feel like there are people all over the country having exactly the same conversation.

At some point, the talk moves to our families and she says:

"My mother-in-law and sister-in-law found a plastic surgeon who is having a mother-and-daughter special. By the time I go down for Thanksgiving, they're both going to have new boobs."

Now THAT conversation might be unique to us.

On a more serious note, read this beautiful thing that a Chaliccesseur sent me. Especially if you're voting in Virginia as I did.



Waiting (and waiting, and waiting) room. Nothing much is happening. I left work, went by the bank and came here for an appointment that should have started fifteen minutes ago.

No news on the election. It's all waiting.


Sigh. My time is submitted, now I'm returning a few phone calls before I leave for the dentist.

Pardon my lack of groovy politics link this hour. Not much is going on.



Lunch of the Gods. Of course, I'm dining at my desk because I'm using my lunch hour for the aforementioned dentist appointment.

Here's a list of places that are giving away free stuff to people wearing 'I voted' stickers.


Memo is done. Now I will tweak last month's accounting of my billable hours a bit before I submit it. I am notorious for having spelling mistakes on my bills and while they get corrected before they go out, I still think it looks tacky and I try to prevent it.

The Agitator has a decent slate of election predictions.


Good news and bad on the research front. I found a perfectly on-point case--in Oklahoma. Also, it's against us.

I stopped by the associate's office to tell her and she said she didn't think there was any way that opposing counsel would find the case I found. I beamed at the implicit compliment to my research skills and went back to work. I will write my memo now.

In other news, the Barack-Obama-themed-burrito won California Tortilla's mock election, the Obama-themed-omelet won Silver Diner's mock election and the Barack-Obama-themed-ice-cream won Baskin and Robbin's mock election.

And Nate Silver reminds us to ignore exit polls.


9:00 am

One of the associates gave me a difficult research task on a DC case*. I've done the initial research and found that there isn't much on point, but I decided to do it again before I wrote my memorandum to that effect.

As I was working on it, I said out loud, "Damn it! I can't find anything on point."

One of the secretaries looked up "What does 'on point' mean?" she asked.

I walked over to her desk and gave her the five minute talk on the common law, using Scott V. Shephard** as a basis for explaining how the laws on the books don't always give the fairest result and judges need to improvise, then these improvisations become part of the way that area of law is decided.

She did a nice job of faking interest and her responses indicated she understood my explanation. She will be a good paralegal someday if she wants to be.

Then we both got back to work.

Wonkette has New Yorkers talking about lines around the block, but my secretary said that she voted within about 15 minutes this morning.


*Most research tasks on DC cases are fairly difficult as it is a city, not a state, and thus has correspondingly less caselaw. The courts often follow Maryland, but I always spend lots of time trying to find a DC case anyway.

**A prankster tossed a lit firework into a market. It was quickly thrown away to another person and another, and it ended by exploding in the plaintiff’s face.

Even though the prankster wasn't the last to touch the firework, he was liable.
The guy who actually threw the firework at the plaintiff was just trying to get a lit firework away from himself and was not liable.

I find this is a good case for explaining the common law as it is a wacky enough situation that people easily believe that the laws on the books wouldn't quite be equipped to handle it, particularly given that it happened in the 1700s.

8:00 am

And I drive to work. I'm listening to a lecture on Corporations law on CD as I drive. (I'm really not a very good student and have to put this stuff in front of me in multiple formats to do a decent job of picking it up. Tax law is fairly logical but quite complex and corporations law is pretty weird in general.) says the freaky little town in New Hampshire is not predictive of the rest of New Hampshire, to say nothing of the country.

Ah well, to work.


7:00 am

Still at it, more or less.

OK, I took a break to take a shower and get dressed. But yeah.

Now I'm back to reading about depreciation recapture. Trust me, you're happier not knowing.

Still, it's good that I'm getting all this reading done now. I have a dentist appointment over lunch, so I won't get to read then. I always feel like if I don't at least review my reading in the 12 hours prior to class, I will sound like Sarah Palin if I'm called on.

In actual news, for some values of "news", that freaky little town in New Hampshire where everybody votes at midnight went to Obama.


6:00 am

I got back from taking theCSO to the polls and realized that I wasn't going back to sleep. This is actually OK with me as I need to review last week's tax class and what we're talking about tonight.

Had some cheerios, got to work.

I will spare you the details, and thus not betray any misunderstanding I might have of them, and say simply that what we did last week is how one defines a "Capital Asset" and what qualifies as an expensing, depreciating or non-wasting expenditure and what does not. (E.g. If own a meat-packing plant and oil from a nearby refinery starts seeping into the basement of my plant and I repair the walls so this won't happen, was that an ordinary cost of doing business or an investment in the future of my plant.)


An election day in the life of CC

(In which I liveblog an entire day that sure as hell better be historic)

4:58 a.m.
CC: Dude?
TheCSO: Yeah?
CC: What time do you have to be at the polls? Your alarm has been going off for like a weekend.
TheCSO: (thinks) Five a.m.
CC: It's 4:58

By 5:15, he's getting out of my car at the polls.

TheCSO: Love you
CC: Love you. Call me if you need anything.
TheCSO: Will do
CC: And text me to let me know how turnout is looking
TheCSO: Uh huh.

Election Eve and CC can't sleep


There's something rather anticlimactic about having voted already.

Sure, it was convenient. Saturday afternoon, theCSO and I went to the county government center and waited in line for an hour. We talked and I finished The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For which, by the way, rocked.

Virginia allows people who meet one of about a dozen conditions to vote early. We got to vote early because TheCSO will be a poll worker* and I go to school out of state. Not FAR out of state, mind you, but out of state.

The machines were optical scan. Yay! And I even thought to get an extra "I voted!" sticker that I could wear to Starbucks tomorrow.

So that's good.

And it's not like Obama's done anything to change my mind in the last 48 hours.

Indeed, after I voted, I said to theCSO "Now we will go home and hear on the news that Obama tortured a kitten."

TheCSO responded, "If McCain's the alternative, I'm willing to believe the kitten had it coming."

Goodness knows I will be at the polls enough tomorrow. I drop theCSO off at some ungodly hour, then will take him a bowl of chili for dinner on my way to class, then will come to get him after the polls close.

The chili's our tradition.

But it still feels weird that my voting is already done. And I'm not nervous about the election, and indeed kinda tired of other people being nerous about the election, but I still can't sleep.

oh well


*I realize I totally have a nerd fetish, but to me there is something very hot about a man with a sense of civic responsibility.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Keith Olbermann: Not the worst person in the world, but still kind of a tool, IMHO

Ok, so this weekend, SNL had Ben Affleck doing a parody of Keith Olbermann.

I thought it went on too long, but was actually pretty funny.

Olbermann, however, didn't like it so much. His full reaction is here. Basically, him being made fun of is part of a massive conspiracy:

Since spring they've been trying to cajole, sweet-talk, bully, threaten, blackmail, and bribe everybody at NBC from the pages to the presidents to get the milquetoast coverage they want - especially to shut me down.

This reminds me of nothing so much as Michael Moore's claims that his movie Canadian Bacon flopped because of a Hollywood Conspiracy, when the truth of the matter is it sucked.


NOTE: Folks in the comments have mentioned that they think Olbermann was being tongue in cheek here. If so, we're reading it really differently, though Wonkette and New York Magazine and MediaBistro all read it the way I did. That said, I will confess that I don't see why it would remotely be in Conservatives' best interest to shut him down. Much like with Bill O'Reilly on the other side, I doubt he wins over anyone who didn't agree with him in the first place and he serves as a useful example of the evils of the other side to those with disagree with him.

And Olbermann himself certainly doesn't shy away from hinting at violence, so that someone did the same to him is unfortunate, but nothing new.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Well, duh...

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Katharine!

You are a Katharine -- "I am happy and open to new things"

Katharines are energetic, lively, and optimistic. They want to contribute to the world.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me companionship, affection, and freedom.

  • * Engage with me in stimulating conversation and laughter.

  • * Appreciate my grand visions and listen to my stories.

  • * Don't try to change my style. Accept me the way I am.

  • * Be responsible for youself. I dislike clingy or needy people.

  • * Don't tell me what to do.

What I Like About Being a Katharine

  • * being optimistic and not letting life's troubles get me down

  • * being spontaneous and free-spirited

  • * being outspoken and outrageous. It's part of the fun.

  • * being generous and trying to make the world a better place

  • * having the guts to take risks and to try exciting adventures

  • * having such varied interests and abilities

What's Hard About Being a Katharine

  • * not having enough time to do all the things I want

  • * not completing things I start

  • * not being able to profit from the benefits that come from specializing; not making a commitment to a career

  • * having a tendency to be ungrounded; getting lost in plans or fantasies

  • * feeling confined when I'm in a one-to-one relationship

Katharines as Children Often

  • * are action oriented and adventuresome

  • * drum up excitement

  • * prefer being with other children to being alone

  • * finesse their way around adults

  • * dream of the freedom they'll have when they grow up

Katharines as Parents

  • * are often enthusiastic and generous

  • * want their children to be exposed to many adventures in life

  • * may be too busy with their own activities to be attentive

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy