Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CC's favorite Onion Article

Over the weekend, I was telling FortiesGirl about how several years ago did this awesome story about Gonzo journalists meeting to discuss the death of Hunter S. Thompson.

So for your edification and hers, here's:

National Gonzo Press Club Vows To Carry On Thompson's Work

In other news, the when you search the Onion's website for "Gonzo," the other story you get is really funny, too:

Stoner Uncle All the Kids' Favorite


For sale, amazing speech, never used

It must have been strange to be William Safire, have written at least hundreds of speeches and be, I don't doubt, delighted that the finest thing you ever wrote was never read in public.

Gawker has the speech William Safire wrote for Nixon to give if the Apollo 11 astronauts became stranded on the moon. It's really beautiful and sad to even consider those brave guys going up to the moon and the strong likelihood that something would happen and they wouldn't make it back.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Push Polls: They aren't just for politics anymore

So theCSO and I, dull suburbanites that we are, are headed to the Washington Home Show this weekend. You could save three bucks a ticket by ordering online, so of course we did that. One of the questions that you were REQUIRED to answer before you could but a ticket was:

    Please choose the factor that would be most important to you in considering replacement gutters?
  • Potential Water Damage in basement caused by clogged and overflowing gutters
  • Fear of falling off ladder or roof while cleaning clogged gutters
  • Potential damage to walkways, foundations, driveways, patios or landscaping caused by clogged and overflowing gutters
  • Expense of cleaning clogging gutters
  • Interest in upgrading current conventional gutters to a maintenance free, clog free system
  • Protecting your home’s resale value and give it an edge in today’s highly competitive housing market
  • Eliminating standing water where disease carrying mosquitoes can breed

TheCSO and I, who only have trees that are set back from our house and thus don't really have gutter problems, wanted to write in "Mosquitos? We want our gutters replaced because the pooling water is attracting Mothra."

But alas, that option was not allowed.

Even more annoying, the next option asked how many times per year our gutters clogged and there was no option for "They don't."

So, do you think the discount for online purchases was sponsored by the gutter companies?

And do you think we're going to be getting gutter mail in the future?

Oh well. We saved six bucks.


Marilyn Manson comments on how he has swine flu

""I know everyone will suggest that fucking a pig is how this disease was obtained. However, the doctor said, my past 'no way' contributed to me acquiring this mysterious sickness. ... Unfortunately, I am going to survive." "

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quick FAQ on ENDA

Q: What's ENDA?

A: It's the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act." It's a bill currently before Congress.

Q: What would ENDA do?

A: Extend the protections of title VII to gays, transgendered people and the disabled.

Q: What's title VII?

A: Title VII was the "Equal Pay Act of 1963." It has been subsequently amended, and mostly in liberal directions by the Civil Rights Act of 1991 and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Here's what the US Code looks like now.

Q: What does it say?

A: Very briefly, it says that you cannot fire, refuse to hire, or generally mistreat employees because of their gender.

Q: Bitchin'. I'm a woman and I've always wanted to be a Catholic priest. I'll start calling lawyers.

A. Not so Religious institutions are exempted.

Q: But what about a Catholic-owned bookstore?

A: They aren't exempted at all. They cannot refuse to hire you based on your gender. Or your not being a Catholic, which would legally get in the way of the priest thing, too, by the way. Or because you're black. Or because you're French.

Q: We even have to hire the French?

A: If they are the most qualified person for the job. Sucks, don't it?

Q: What will happen if ENDA passes?

A: As far as I can tell, it will simply add sexual orientation, gender identity and disability to the list of protected traits. The church won't have to hire gay people, but the bookstore still will if they are the most qualified for the job. Also, it will not allow for "disparate impact" claims, though frankly I don't really see those being relevant to sexuality or gender identity. My guess is that it has some implications for the disability part, though I will have to think that one through.

Q: What's a disparate impact claim?

A: It's a claim that a hiring practice not directly mentioning a protected class still functionally excludes many members of a protected class. For example, if you have a company rule that all employees have to be at least 5"8' then you will exclude many, many women and relatively few men. The Ricci case made famous in the Sotomayor hearings (the one about the firefighter exam that few black people passed) would be an example. The more common firefighter disparate impact case is when firefighters require people to have a high amount of upper body strength, higher than most women have. That's a fun one because it really makes sense to have that.

Q: Can you get fired for "acting Gay"?

A: Oddly enough, that is pretty much already protected as long as you can define "acting gay" as "acting like the opposite gender." Back in 1989, Price Waterhouse denied a woman a partnership, stating that she wasn't "feminine enough" and the SCOTUS made it illegal to discriminate against someone for "not conforming to gender stereotyping." Here's an example of that ruling protecting a flamboyant gay hairdresser.

Q: Do you think "not feminine enough" was code for "lesbian" in that case?

A: I don't know, the SCOTUS didn't seem to take it that way, but I know at least one hairdresser who was protected anyway because of the way they wrote the ruling.

Q: Anyway, what does Title VII mean for religious freedom?

A: It means that Congress has not defined "the freedom to hire, fire and mistreat people based on your religion" as part of religious freedom since at least 1968.

Q: So people who are complaining that ENDA will reduce religious freedom should not be believed?

A: I don't see how anything they are saying is accurate.

Q: Will this get rid of "Don't ask, don't tell"?

A: Nope. The military is exempted.

Q: This is interesting stuff. I want to read more about it.

A: Well, this post is pretty cool.


Q: Does it apply to Congress? Many of these kinds of laws don't.

A: As for members of congress themselves, I don't think a claim that one wasn't ELECTED because of a protected trait would fly with the courts.

As for congressional staffers, they are federal employees as far as I know, and sexual orientation has been protected since the Clinton administration and Obama has extended that to gender identity.

As far as people with disabilities are concerned, they are covered by the ADA and the Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Q: Do you understand what the term "gender identity" means? The definition seems very broad. Are the only possible identities "male" and "female"? How about, "drag queen", "all of the above", or "depends on what time of day we are talking about"?

I was struck by the contrast with the definition of "sexual orientation", which says that you have to be gay, straight, or bi for the law to matter.

"Gender identity" seems much more open ended. If "all of the above" isn't an acceptable identity, why not? And if "all of the above" is an acceptable answer, how does one make sense of the facilities clauses, which seem to assume only two possible "gender identities".
(Edited for length, full version is in the comments.)

A: The non-binary genders thing is an excellent question, albeit one that's a little rudely phrased at the beginning. My impression is that a large number of local areas have non-discrimination laws that include transgender folks. I don't recall that the bathroom issue has resulted in a need for transgender bathrooms which is not to say that they don't effectively exist all over the place labeled as "family bathrooms" and usually used by parents and opposite gender children.

Indeed, as I have a husband, I have three bathrooms in my very own house that are not limited to one gender and we have considered putting in a fourth with a Japanese soaking tub.

As for public areas, due to the existence of stalls, I don't care and am not sure what non-discriminatory reason other people have for caring who else is in the bathroom with them, what their philosophy of gender is and least of all what their physical equipment is.

Seems both polite and practical not to speculate on such things.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

CC gets evangelical

If you enjoy the ChaliceBlog's bleeding-heart-smartass tone, then you should probably be watching "Glee." If you want to catch up, Hulu is keeping five trailing episodes. There have only been four episodes so far, so you should have two weeks to watch the first episode before they take it down.

Fellow fans of "Criminal Minds" will recognize beloved-by-CC character actress Jane Lynch, who plays Spencer's mother on Criminal Minds and does a wonderful job subtly sharing similar facial expressions and little mannerisms with the actor who plays Spencer*. Lynch is in Glee and is amazing as an evil cheerleading coach and has none of those little tics in this performance. Fellow fans of "Boston Legal" will know her as Alan's sex therapist.

I appreciate actors like Queen Latifah who can do a modern Falstaff thing and play essentially the same character over and over and always make it entertaining. Yet actresses like Jane Lynch and Alison Janney who can play vastly different characters in both serious and comic roles, just blow me away. One could argue that this is the baseline definition of "acting," but you don't see it all that much, at least not to the degree that Lynch and Janney can do it.

Anyway, Lynch is good stuff and the show is good stuff. Glee is both sarcastic and sweet and mixes those elements so masterfully that there are plenty of moments when you have no idea what is coming next or how a situation will turn out. It's very hard to surprise me with a plot twist, but Glee has done it. If there seems to be a critical mass of mean characters in the first couple of episodes, you should know that on Glee, as in life, a lot of mean people are that way because they are scared. Glee doesn't shy away from that and things calm down a bit by the third episode as the characters open up a bit and you start seeing their motivations for what they do.

Also, it's set at a high school. A lot of us were pretty mean then.


*I have literally never seen actors playing a parent and child who did this as perfectly as Jane Lynch and Matthew Gray Gubler do in these roles. That Lynch plays a schizophrenic, though a different sort than what I'm used to, makes this subtle playing up of the similarity between mother and son all the more poignant. Not to mention it does a very different riff on the "FBI agent and insightful mentally ill person" dynamic that has been imitated since "Silence of the Lambs" but never equaled.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I would stop posting about ACORN if the story would stop developing

Latest news on ACORN

Entire content of link posted below"

"Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.
National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple’s high-profile expose.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.

Vera was fired on Thursday."

Ok, my bad, at least one of the ACORN offices did take the videographers seriously and on the video is just playing along with them to get as much information as possible out of them. This explains why the tax information Vera gave to O'Keefe and Giles was fake and likely to get them caught by the IRS.

Ironically, several posters here and on other blogs have said that the ACORN guys should have all thrown the videographers out of their offices and called the cops like the Philly office did. That would have covered ACORN's ass.

What this guy did would actually have stopped a potential human smuggling operation. If you think about it, playing along with them to get information was a very courageous thing to do that had they been for real could have put him in very real danger. He did it anyway, though.

But don't worry, guys, the ass-covering approach you guys favored won out. The Philly ACORN folks who called the cops still have their jobs. I'm sure staff at the seven other offices who just threw them out do too. The guy who actually tried to stop the human smugglers has been fired because of the outraged cries of people like you.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Got some extra money? Want to give it to a good cause?

One of my law student buddies has done some work here. They are nice folks and have raised half of what they need.

You can donate here and they will keep your money separate from everyone else's. If not enough money is raised to save the organization, you get your money back.

I know almost nobody has extra cash these days, but if you do, please think about it.



Like everything with Will Ferrell, it goes on too long,

but like anything with Masi Oka, it's awesome.

From the ChaliceMailbag

Someone wrote to ask me if this makes my head explode.

Yes. Yes, it does.

Also, a reader points out that you can get the Chaliceblog (or any other blogger blog) in bound form here. Of course, for $14.95 for the first 20 pages plus 35 cents for each additional page, I'd be happy to READ you the Chaliceblog, tuition bills being what they are.


CC realizes the obvious- last post on ACORN for awhile, I swear

Question: If the ACORN employees at every single office O'Keefe and Giles visited had taken them seriously and those kids had hours of footage of themselves getting kicked out of a dozen ACORN offices, what would they have?

Answer: They would have footage that could be edited into "evidence" that ACORN kicks out white people who come to ACORN looking for help. As long as O'Keefe and Giles edited out the images of what they were wearing and never released all of their tapes, ACORN would be able to claim that they wanted help buying a whorehouse, but O'Keefe and Giles could just say that was a crazy lie on ACORN's part and O'Keefe and Giles's fans would believe them much as many of them continue to believe in that ACORN employee's non-existent dead ex-husband.

There would be videos all over the internet of angry looking ACORN employees throwing them out and threatening to call the police if they didn't stop trespassing, and O'Keefe and Giles could have shown up on Fox and Friends in their Sunday best, denying those crazy rumors that they came dressed as a Pimp and Ho. Giles could call it part of the same sexism of the left that Sarah Palin faced and O'Keefe could have said that he wore the same suit he was wearing today. (And just not mentioned the big hat and fur coat.) I mean, O'Keefe and Giles lie in the video about ACORN's funding and have repeatedly lied to the press*.

No matter what the ACORN employees did, the moment O'Keefe and Giles stepped into their first ACORN office, ACORN was getting defunded.

I never said those kids were stupid.


*They likely lied under the reasonable assumption that if an ACORN office had called the police, the police wouldn't take a report since nothing illegal had actually occurred. Let the record show that for once CC is pleased at some police overzealousness since the image of the Philly PD's police report makes the point far more clearly that ACORN's repeated requests that O'Keefe and Giles release the tapes from Philly and some of the other offices they visited where they made a huge fuss as they were being thrown out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Links of the decidedly non-Awesome

--A Washington Post Editorial about what SWAT raids is here. Well worth reading.

--I find the prose here a little purple for my taste, but I have to say that the author's overall point, that if 13-to-15-year olds have a higher number of sexual assault offenses per capita than any other age group, then we have gotten to the point of defining sexual curiosity as a sexual assault, makes sense to me. The mugshots of kids and teenagers got to me too.

-I am, all things considered, pretty soft on crime. I'm not this soft on crime. I was skeptical of the legitimacy of this story at first (particularly since covering up your crime is often treated as evidence that you knew what you were doing was wrong, so I'm not sure how he even HAD an insanity defense, but then I don't know Washington state law,) but it does look like a real AP story.

-Oh, and the Rapture's coming tomorrow. I think I'm kind of down today because I would pretty much welcome it if only as a change of pace.

ACORN guy's pimp outfit. (Last post on ACORN for awhile I hope)

At this point, I'm assuming that anyone who is saying that James O'Keefe looked like a realistic pimp hasn't actually watched the video carefully enough to see O'Keefe's outfit.

Luckily, he wore said outfit for a Fox and Friends interview. Here it is, though he wore big sunglasses and a hat in some of the videos and he's omitted them here, and I'm pretty sure he was wearing a wifebeater rather than a suit in at least one video*:

If you can look at the fake fur jacket alone and think anything but "Attendee at a Frat House Pimp and Ho party," then I am forced to believe you've never seen an actual tough guy.


*Hint to all potential fake pimps, that's a step in the right direction.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Total fluff on a Saturday

In June, our Tivo broke. TheCSO and I were totally like "We should fix that," but I was like "Eh, we have until August 20."

August 20 came and went, and we still have no TIVO.

I was complaining about my Project-Runway-denied-existence to Random Ranter last weekend, and she said "You realize that the old episodes are all online?"

Erm, no, I didn't.

So anyway, I'm caught up on Project Runway now (Team Gordana). But almost even better than that, someone realized that online episodes of PR were the perfect place to do commercials that were actual LESSONS on hair and makeup teaching people to USE L'Oreal and Garnier products to make themselves look awesome.

Very clever.


Friday, September 18, 2009

I hear often that the internet isolates us and makes us narcissistic antisocial parodies of our former selves

But it also enables half a dozen guys to get together and be like "You know what would be awesome? Let's make a parody of 'Fight Club' set in the late 1910's - early 1920's" and achieve that and put their efforts where the world can find them.

I'd call that about a wash.

Anyway, here's "Fisticuffs Club:"

who views isolation as an inherent part of the human condition and loves her some fisticuffs.

I have a bad habit

of not pointing out racism when I see it because it is obvious and other people are pointing it out already. But I do sometimes point out that I think something that other people are calling racism ISN'T racism. Thus, I'm later accused of NEVER seeing racism since I only seem to point at things that I think aren't racist.

So, for the record, from that clip from that's going around where one of the guys who made the ACORN film is getting interviewed and the interviewer goes: "So let's get this straight: you're NOT a pimp?"

And the little shit responds, "No. I'm like the whitest guy ever."

Yes, kids, that's racism.

who wouldn't have bothered if her whole blogroll was writing about this, but for once she's the first.

And in sillier law news...

A lawyer's jailing for My-Cousin-Vinny-like behavior was upheld on appeal.

But if the lawyer should take his case to a higher court, he might be in luck because as the article notes, My Cousin Vinny is one of Justice Scalia's favorite movies.

Told ya I liked the guy.



Well, that's depressing.

Oh, and several other blogs have noted that when people say that cops are above the law, these two stories from Reading, Pennsylvania are what we mean:

Regular guy from Reading, Pennsylvania takes nudie photos of his 17-year-old girlfriend and becomes a sex offender. Marries girlfriend. Regular guy and wife move a few times without telling the police and Regular guy gets sent to jail for years. Later, an appeals court decides Regular guy wasn't sent to jail for enough years and piles on more.

Cop from Reading, Pennsylvania exposes his dick to his squad room. Cop is not criminally charged. Cop is fired, but has been reinstated because the police department didn't use proper procedure in firing him.


I do not condone the ACORN folks screwing with those people

It has certainly caused ACORN a lot of trouble and cost them a lot of money.

Anyone who finds the "Pimp" credible has seen too many Pam Grier movies, though, and
I have to say that

Police: ACORN Employee's Murder Confession Not 'Factual'

will likely be my favorite headline this year.

I don't know, it's something about the 'factual'


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The liver patient question

I've asked two people these questions in the comments on my previous healthcare post, but I'm going to go ahead and ask the question here, so if I asked you there, you might was well answer here.

1. If there is a liver patient who refuses to stop drinking, should he or she be given a transplant liver that could go to someone else?

2. Should money be used to pay for that operation that could be used to pay for healthcare for someone else?

Actual doctors or those close to them can correct me on this one, but my impression is that if you won't stop drinking, there's no well in hell the US is going to give you a transplant liver that could go to someone who has stopped drinking or who never drank in the first place.*

Anyway, how do your views on those questions reconcile with your views on my previous proposal for having a personal responsibility element to what heathcare the government will pay for?

EDIT: I took out the snark about how in Britain alcoholics only get liver transplants when they are rich and famous because further looking into the matter revealed that it wasn't true. Well, that the UK gave a liver to a famous athlete who drank himself to death soon afterwards was fully true, but the fact is that the UK puts a great many livers into alcoholics. Meanwhile, if this UK citizen who hasn't had a drink in 15 years doesn't get a liver transplant before his tumors get much bigger, then he will be taken off the transplant list because if you have too much cancer in your body then you are no longer considered a reasonable candidate for tranplant.

If your belief that people should be given the same care regardless of how they take care of themselves rests on an assumption that organs, doctors' time, money to pay for health care and hospital beds are infinite, you are very much mistaken.


Well, if you were worried about the man who wrote the Guardian article I linked to above, you can stop. Frank Deasy's liver failed today. He died on the transplant list. By some estimates, 1/4 of the donated livers in the UK go into alcoholics.

Great system they've got there.


*Yes, you can get it by flying to a third-world-country and essentially buying it but rich people in countries with nationalized health care do that too.

Jess on God, theism and atheism, CC on theological biodiversity

Jess has cool stuff to say here, go and read.

One of the things I find fascinating about the theism-atheism debates I see is that atheism really is a pretty varied thing. We all get that there are a billion types of theists*, but that there's quite a lot of theological diversity within atheism too seems to elude people.

I've certainly known atheists of the "Anything remotely related to God offends me and I'm really a nice person for tolerating such stupidity, when I tolerate it at all" variety. Some of those go so far as to call any atheist less extreme an "Uncle Tom."
Nobody asked for my opinion and I know this, but my general take is that this attitude does more harm than good.

When someone is extreme and insulting, I might smile and nod out of sheer desire to have them not turn their wrath on me (which extreme and insulting people usually take as a sign that I'm on their side, so I try not to), but the minute they are gone I find myself talking to other people about what a jerk they are and how wrong they are. Snotty presentation makes serious opinions easy to dismiss, which is not to say I'm not snotty too sometimes**, but I do try to keep that in mind. I also try to keep in mind that a room full of people smiling and nodding from sheer desire to be left alone looks like a room full of agreement to themselves and to any observer.

All that said, I also know plenty of atheists who are way more laid back about it, some allowing that the concept of "God" might be a loaded term for something unsupernatural that they essentially believe in, some not going quite that far but willing to do things for symbolic reasons. Some people who call themselves atheists don't dismiss the theoretical possibility of God, yet feel that we should act like functional atheists and take care of each other because God's not going to***. From a classification perspective, I have issues with people who call themselves atheists and say that they actually believe in a God, just not the Christian God, but I have met such people. And let's not forget Buddhists, though far from all Buddhists accept the term 'atheist,' some do.

Now, one type of atheist might well say that another type of atheist isn't REALLY an atheist because they have different views. Much like when Christians start sniping about who is a real Christian and who isn't, I tend to leave the room at that point. I'm pretty quick to accept people's self-identifications on religion.

Anyway, an atheist recently wrote on the UU blogosphere about how she just sits there when people pray, sing about God and light candles. She seems to think it's nice of her not to call it hooey. That said, I know plenty of atheists who use the prayer time for quiet reflection, sing about God knowing that they don't have to believe every word of the lyrics to get something meaningful out of the song and light candles to symbolically recognize their loved ones who are sick or dying or going through some other sort of strife.

I look at the rack of candles and all of those that are lighted and I am reminded of the suffering in the world and how many people need love and food and medicine and nurture. Even though I'm a theist, I don't view it as a signal flare to get God's attention but a flaming sign that says "Do something for somebody."

I'm guessing an atheist who sits there mentally denouncing the process and thinking about how great they are for not leaping up at that moment and crying "Hooey!" doesn't do that, but I know plenty of atheists who light candles right along with the theists.

Anyway, I've just touched on a bit of the diversity I see, but I think it is important to keep in mind that the people who speak loudest in a movement are often not in the majority and there's a lot more tolerance and reasonableness to go around than might initially appear in these debates.

Don't talk to straw men. Talk to people.


*Ok, Richard Dawkins, with his broad statements about what theists believe, doesn't seem to get it, but most UUs do.

** I get snottiest when I feel I have had to explain the same point many times in the same discussion. By then I tend to assume that the other party is a lost cause as far as getting my point across goes and I'm effectively arguing to amuse myself.

*** I have a whole lot of sympathy for this view.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


This comment stolen from a Libertarian blog I read, and the commenter claims to have stolen it from someone else:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

Most of the Ayn Rand fans I know are hip enough to find this funny. And actually, Libertarians and Ayn Rand fans usually get along well these days since they have many of the same goals. Though Ayn Rand herself wrote snarky things about libertarians in the 1950's and those who are fundamentalist about her work tend to miss that those criticisms really no longer apply decades later.

But it still made me chuckle.

who knows you saw the punchline coming, but bet you smiled anyway.

Full disclosure: I did my couple of months of reading Ayn Rand when I was 17 and I never made it through Lord of the Rings at all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Healthcare savings ideas that lots ot people will hate

1. People who are not taking care of themselves should get less money.

-If you have a condition that requires you to maintain a certain sort of diet, quit smoking or get a certain amount of exercise, you have X amount of time to meet these requirements. If you do not meet these requirements and your doctor doesn't sign a medical waiver* for you, then the percentage of treatment the government will pay for on that condition starts to taper off. Once you meet the requirements, it jumps back up to its previous level.
It should be noted that this proposal is not saying you can't smoke, it is saying that if you don't quit under doctor's orders you might have to pay for your own healthcare for smoking related illnesses. Yes, it's kinda Nanny State, but I don't see it as less so than government-sponsored healthcare in the first place.

-The Government should collect data on how much it costs to treat the average person who was in a car accident and wearing their seatbelt on a hospital-by-hospital basis. Those who were in car accidents and not wearing their seatbelts will be covered for the amount that the government paid the average seatbelt-wearer at their hospital and beyond that are on their own. This could be applied to other stuff, but seatbelt-wearing is the most straightforward.

2. The "I'm ready" form.
A patient may at any time request a simple "I'm ready form" that all hospitals will keep around. After they have signed that form, no treatment will be covered by the government excepting pain relief. If said patient is at a hospital that is committed to fighting and fighting for patients' lives and putting their patients through operations and such to extend life by small amounts of time, they do so at their own expense once the form is signed. "No, wait I'm not" forms rescinding the previous forms would, of course, also be available.

The last two people I've known well who died eventually got to where they wanted to give up and go die at home. Both of them got their wishes because they had forceful personalities and supportive families. We might as well have the form for those people who have neither, but have the same wish. (Item: Most of the rise in healthcare costs has been from Medicare. One third of Medicare bills are from patients who live for less than two years after the treatment.)

I can see lots of disadvantages to these ideas, but I can see advantages too. Comments?

*Some people in wheelchairs, for example, are skinny. But many are not because it's hard to maintain a healthy weight when you don't even walk. If losing weight is a requirement and someone in a wheelchair is having trouble doing that, I'm willing to exempt them if their doctor is.

I really wish this story happened less often

Intervene when a police officer is doing something wrong? Get a ticket.

I once had a cop give me a ticket for having an expired registration and then ride his motorcycle DOWN THE SIDEWALK to the next street where he could turn into traffic because apparently merging into traffic was too much trouble.

I didn't even bother to register a complaint because I figured no one would listen to me since the man had just given me a ticket. Now I wish I had.


What if evangelicals started saying they were "Standing on the Side of God"?

They made a fancy campaign with a facebook group, wrote songs, preached sermons, all about how God would be just pleased as punch with them and everything they believe and how their political positions must all be correct ones for the world since they've decided that God agrees.

Their views on Abortion? God's.

Their views on Immigration? God's.

Their views on Gay Marriage? God's.

Their views on minimum wage laws? God's

Their views on whether route 66 should be expanded in parts of Northern Virginia? God's.

Etc, etc, and soforth.

Naturally, this sets up a dualistic situation where if you disagree with evangelicals on a given political position, even if you are an Evangelical, you are standing on the side that God is against.

Wouldn't that campaign seem appallingly arrogant?

Wouldn't the idea that people were saying you're against God if you disagree with them politically be abhorrent to you?

Wouldn't it be pretty laughable that a group of people would decide that God must agree with them in all things?*

So why on earth does the idea of applying the "Standing on the Side of Love" slogan to ALL oppression-related-majority-UU-approved political ideas not completely suck? I realize that we haven't gone as far with it as the evangelicals in my example, but we do seem to be on the way. I can understand the slogan's applicability to same sex marriage, but I think applying it to anything else is a big mistake.


*Which is not to say that plenty of people haven't decided that in the past.

Lady Gaga's date for the VMAs? Kermit the Frog

Love it.

And I REALLY love that they got an actual Fashion Designer to do Kermit's tux.

Miss Piggy must be livid.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two deaths, well, three

1. The Death of Norman Borlaug. Borlaug invented modern high-yield agriculture and has probably saved more lives in poverty-stricken countries than any other person in recent history. As Radley Balko put it "If one way of measuring a life is by the number of other lives a man saved or bettered, Borlaug was certainly one of the greatest human beings who ever lived."

2. The murder of abortion clinic protestor James Poullion, by Harlan James Drake, a guy who went around murdering people he didn't like. Because, you know, if a guy waving signs with fetuses on them in front of a high school pisses you off, the obvious thing to do is murder him in front of said high school.

I didn't say anything about the death of George Tiller because there wasn't much to say and the political footballishness of the treatment of his death bothered me. I feel the same way about James Poullion. Yes, killing a protestor because of his beliefs is wrong. Killing the other guy that Harlan James Drake killed is also wrong. Harlan James Drake has now tried to kill himself. Make that three wrongs. A third guy who pissed Harlan James Drake off has moved out of town because he was found to have been on Drake's enemies list and the next in line for murdering. Four wrongs.

There are stacks of wrongs and there's no right here and it never even makes any sense.

The anti-abortion movement is all "we condemned killing people for their beliefs, now you should condemn it too" which makes more sense than most aspects of this story, but is still sort of ridiculous. I think we're all against killing people for their beliefs, at least as far as press releases are concerned.

Because, like most people, I read a story and what jumps out at me best are things I believed already, I'm left with the following overall impressions:

1. Norman Borlaug spent his life making discoveries, feeding the hungry and helping the poor.
2. George Tiller spent his life helping desperate women and ending the lives of unwanted fetuses.
3. James Poullion spent his life waving signs at high school students.

I don't think the lesson to be learned here is a political one. If anything, it is an anti-political one.

Next time you're thinking about insulting people into do what you want or demanding that the government or any other large organization help somebody else out, why not do something for other people yourself instead?


Ps. Please note what Jess has to say in the comments about Dr. George Tiller.

Friday, September 11, 2009

CC headed to the shore.

The smartcar is packed, the dog snoozes in the back and we are headed
out of town.

If the cell reception on the Eastern shore hasn't improved, comment
moderation might be slow. So you might have to be lovable and
brilliant on someone else's blog for the weekend.

Take care,


Ps. Ginsburg says "woof"

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memo to self

Every idea that you ever have for a novel will come true and thus no longer seem like an original idea.

So you might as well pitch that thriller you were working on in grad school that had exactly this plot.

Ok, it took place in Los Angeles in my novella and there were some murders, but it's still essentially the same plot. Faithful readers recall that this has happened at least a couple of times before.

I think this is the universe telling me to type faster.


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I shall repeat myself.

If I were a parent I would instruct my child as follows:

"If a teacher or administrator at your school ever wants to strip search you, demand that they call your parents. Then sit down on the ground and don't move until I arrive. If anyone bothers you, start repeating the words "lawsuit, lawsuit" until they stop."

Another strip-search story. This one with five girls.

amazed that teenage BOYS never seem to do anything that requires strip searching.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Link on Transracial Adoption and why I disagree with it.

A poster named "AdoptAuthor" gave me a link to this website. I read it with interest, but I don't agree with almost any of it. A basic premise of several of the essays is that white people are so scared of being called "racist" that they adopt kids of other colors as a built in defense against the charge. Frankly, whatever you do in this culture and whatever you believe, SOMEBODY'S going to call you racist* and while nobody likes to be called racist more than they like to be called "stupid" or any other insulting term, I think most people are disinclined to do something as expensive and life-changing as adoption to defend themselves against a bit of namecalling that they will almost certainly get anyway.

Secondly, a basic premise of the site is that white people adopt kids from other countries because the white people want to feel good, the white people want to not be racists, the white people want a "China Doll." And yes, white people adopt because doing so gives them cultural dominion. As far as I can tell, nobody at even considers the possibility that white people adopt because they want a child to love and raise and care for.

I'm assuming that under this logic people like my husband and me who are primarily interested in another trait (nerdiness) and are happy with either a white kid or a kid of another race, much like we would be happy with either a gay kid or a straight kid, don't exist at all.

I get that there are a lot of snotty white people out there, I've met some of them. And I don't doubt that transracial adoption is difficult for the children being raised in a culture that may or may not fully accept them. At the same time, lots of people BORN in to a culture don't fit well and go through that and I don't think the parents are putting the kids through it out of selfishness, or at least not selfishness alone.

Also, as far as I can tell, the site never even addresses the question "Don't orphanages in third world countries pretty much suck? If a family that can afford good food, medical bills, an education, etc for a kid can adopt a kid out of an orphanage, isn't that a good thing, all things considered?" I don't doubt that good arguments can be made against this opinion, but someplace on the site somebody should make them rather than simply mocking those who ask the question.

For the record, adopting from another country has never been the plan. We were planning to foster first, for one thing. For another, we aren't looking for a baby and there are plenty of older kids here who need homes in America. One of the minor nice things about looking into being a foster parent then adopting is that nobody really argues that the child would be better off in the foster system. They might argue that you're a white imperialist anyway, but at least no one seems to think the kid would be better off where they were before.

As for other cultural issues, we'd do our best. It's easier with some cultures than others. My entire church is rented out every Saturday morning to a Japanese school where the children of immigrants and diplomats who attend American school five days a week spend Saturday mornings learning their native language and learning about their native culture. Something like that would be no problem.

Where there isn't an organized school, the way to go about it would depend far more on how old the kid is and what the kid wants to do. I would be a little bummed if the child wanted to attend a different church, but I would make it happen as I recognize that being able to make one's own religious choices is a part of growing up and worshiping with people is a wonderful way to feel connected to them.

It's maybe a cop-out to say that given that we are thinking of adopting a kid who is a pre-teen or young teenager, so we can leave a lot of this up to them, but that's pretty much where I stand on it. Or, to put the ball squarely in my race's court, if we adopt a white kid from North Carolina or southern Virginia, we won't cry if they end up a NASCAR-loving southern Baptist, but we aren't forcing grits on anyone who doesn't want to eat them.

Broccoli, maybe, but not grits.

who suspects that years from now, she will reread this post and mock its naive spirit, but it is representative of her thinking right now.

* If you don't believe in affirmative action, then you're a racist because you don't want to atone for white people's misdeeds toward black people. If you do, then you're a racist because you think black kids can't cut it against white kids without affirmative action. As far as I can tell the "you're a racist because you don't want to help people of other races" "No, YOU'RE the racist because you think people of other races need your help" debate goes on with almost any political issue at all related to race. Sometimes in far more sophisticated terms, but that still seems like the essence.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I ask you...

The Godfather movies notwithstanding, has anybody ever made a gangster movie as good as "Miller's Crossing"?

Eddie Dane: Where's Leo?

Hitman at Verna's: If I tell you, how do I know you won't kill me?

Eddie Dane: Because if you told me and I killed you and you were lying I wouldn't get to kill you *then*. Where's Leo?

Hitman at Verna's: He's moving around. He's getting his mob together tomorrow night.
Whisky Nick's.

Eddie Dane: You sure?

Hitman at Verna's: Check it. It's gold.

Eddie Dane: You know what, yegg? I believe you.


Transracial Adoption

My husband and I don't plan to get foster kids and eventually adopt until I get out of school, but it has been in our long-term plan for awhile, so I do follow articles on adoption and foster care.

TheCSO and I do not care what color the child is (though we'd be happy to do things to help the kid feel attached to his or her culture), we care that the kid is nerdy. Because nerdy kids likely have a rough time in foster care* and because we're nerdy and nerdy kids like and understand us and vice-versa. If the kid has read some Asimov, that's instant bonding right there.

Anyway, I found this article about a black family that adopted a white little girl really interesting. The idea of transracial adoption hurting the kids makes me disinclined to do it, but the number of non-white kids that need homes inclines me again.



*Having grown up middle class in a wealthy area, the trip to a trendy mall store will be high on the agenda. It's a lot easier to be nerdy when you're dressed like the other kids.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

One more on the UU World ads

"Hey ZombieKid?"



My best friend's ten year old reluctantly leaves his comic book behind and comes over to the couch where I'm lounging.

"Wha-at?" He says in that little kid way.

"Take a look at this," I say, and thrust the now-infamous UU world ad under his nose.

He reads it carefully. I love this child.

"Do you see why people might have a problem with that ad?" I ask.

"Because it makes people who believe in God sound stupid."

"Is that wrong?"



"I dunno. Because it is. People should be able to believe what they want without other people being mean about it."


ZombieKid is a bit lost for an answer as he senses that answering "because being mean to other people because of what they believe is wrong" will just lead to another "why?" and that's the best he can do. His mother intervenes on his behalf with a speech about how our values state that we're supposed to be respectful of people who believe things that are different and that UUs try our best to live with those values. Then she uses the seven principles as a creed. But I love her anyway.

We went into a discussion of the quotes that we thought were OK (Katharine Hepburn is pretty clearly just speaking for herself) and the ones that were problems (Primarily Darrow's and Dawkins').

So yeah, this kid is ten and he might not be able to explain his issues with that ad with the eloquance that Berry's Mom has, but he still gets it.



Friday, September 04, 2009

Brag on yo church

UUA Way of Life, which is back, BTW, is asking for stories of charitable work you do and your church does.

I know my church does more stuff than I can list, but it made me happy to be able to give him some of the highlights.

If you get a chance, why not head on over there and tell him what y'all are up to and how you're making the world a better place?


Let's Play UU World Editor

(I don't know whether the editor at UU World sees the ads in advance, particularly since they have a system in place where you reserve your ad space and don't have to submit your ad immediately. If you're a stickler for detail, you might want to pretend to be the business manager. That's up to you.)

Which ads would you take? Which ads would you refuse? Why? Feel free to only address the ones you would refuse. I know the list is long, I kept coming up with new ideas:

- a moderately-phrased ad from a Pro-life group that appeals to the emotions of readers with a headline like "a person is a person no matter how small"

-an ad from a UU reiki practitioner extolling the benefits of Reiki and selling classes on reiki

- An ad from a non-UU Christian group that urges social justice action in God's name
"Thy will be done on Earth' is a call to action."

- An ad from a tobacco company advertising their product for native American-style rituals.

- A less-moderately phrased ad from a pro-life group that says something like "Everyone who supported slavery was free; everyone who supports abortion is already born."

- An ad from a UU Christian group that encourages people in trouble to reach out tho Christ. Something like "Dear God: I have a problem. It's me."

-An ad from an animal rights group that says "Stop kidding yoursef, animal slaughter is murder, go vegan."

- An ad from an organization of reform Jews encouraging people to convert to Judaism

Just curious.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Grandfathering appropriation (Yes, one more on covenants)

Ok, I'm still on this topic, I'm afraid, mostly because it bumps up against subjects that have interested me for a long time.

Part of me has a sense that the solution to all of this is pretty simple.

1. Theists and atheists alike seem to value what they think of as church covenants. Though an agreement where we come together to talk out common values and figure out what we're going to be to each other is not a covenant in a historical sense, it it remains important to people.

2. PB is a scholar of religion, and I ain't. Indeed, most of her critics are not. LinguistFriend is the closest we've got as someone who formally writes for the Chaliceblog and seems to have no inclination to touch this with a ten foot pole. If I had to guess, I'd say he would be torn because he the religion scholar would lean toward PB's side and he the linguist would think that relying on ancient definitions of words is too normative and denies the changing nature of language. But I don't know.

Anyway, if she the expert on this stuff says that "covenant" must be vertical, I can accept that, though my questions about how one can make a binding agreement with a being that never communicates consent remains.

Frankly, I think that puts us a few insincere people away from Homer Simpson praying:

"Dear Lord: The gods have been good to me. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here's the deal: You freeze everything the way it is, and I won't ask for anything more. If that is OK, please give me absolutely no sign. OK, deal. In gratitude, I present you this offering of cookies and milk. If you want me to eat them for you, give me no sign. Thy will be done."

But anyway, these two premises lead me to the conclusion that the thing to do is to make our own term that is more meaningful than "mission statement," yet isn't "covenant." I was thinking of "pact" and Goodwolve suggested "Commitment, Decision, Rule, Bargain, Treaty, and Handshake." All of those work for me.

At the same time, I am troubled by the churches that have had covenants for decades. Taking away the term from underneath them doesn't seen fair.

And in all fairness, it certainly seems like we grandfather in appropriation after awhile. Pagans aren't asking Christians to cease and desist on Christmas trees, and, to use my favorite example, nobody is asking Chartres Cathedral to take out its labyrinth. Black Christian churches aren't asking white Christian churches to quit singing "go tell it on the mountain" either. Nor are the shakers asking for "Tis a Gift to be simple" to be returned or even sung with its original words.*

We pretty much all agree that appropriation from other cultures is a bad thing. But we pretty much also all agree that after awhile, the appropriated custom/term/song, etc is fair game for the appropriating religion because the appropriating religion has also given it meaning, resonance and history.

So when does this grandfathering kick in? Is there a set period of years? Is it a generation or two or five?

still chewing on this stuff.

*I only know examples from Christianity. I'm sure there are others from other faiths. This is my lack of knowledge about world religions, not an intentional attempt to slam Christianity.