Saturday, May 31, 2008

Global Warming--another inconsistency explained--world still warming, but faster!

A sharp cooling in ocean water temperature that began in 1945 has now been explained--the Americans, who took the temperatures prior to 1945, measured the water in a slightly different matter than the Brits, who took the subsequent measurements. The same water, measured with the British method, would be 0.3 degrees cooler, same as the observed drop.

Bill O'Reilly Gay Marriage Advocate!

The tipping point has been reached. The battle has been won.

If you watch the video, above, you'll see Bill O'Reilly corner a Gay Marriage opponent -- who admits that only reason to oppose Gay Marriage in California is because, wait for it -- it isn't traditional. Hmmm. Slavery is perfectly traditional, as is the view of women as property... the list goes on.

Marriage is contract law dealing with property rights. Always has been, still is.

H/T Bradblog

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Obama's (Great) Uncle

Obama, in a plea for more funds to help vets with PTSD, mentioned that his uncle had liberated Auschwitz, and came home with PTSD. The concentration camp was Ohrdruf (a sub camp of Buchenwald), which, to my horror I find has been characterized by members of the right (one hopes outliers) as a "work camp" and not a concentration camp, so Obama must be lying. Here is what the 89th division's website says:

Concerning the service of Mr. Charles Payne: C.T. Payne was a soldier in the 89th Infantry Division. He served in the 355th Infantry Regiment, Company K. The 355th Infantry Regiment was the unit to liberate Ohrdruf. Mr. Payne was there.

For those who seek to minimize the horrors of Ohrdruf since it was a 'work' camp and not a 'death' camp, we have but one word: shame. Ironically, this argument has been made to us time and time again by various Holocaust-deniers and other pro-Nazi groups. We will let the testimony of survivors and veterans speak for themselves.

Just discovered "The Greatest Bitchslap Ever."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Archangel Thunderbird or Kraut Prog-Rock gone terriby terribly right.

I give you Amon Duul II, you can thank me later.

Yet another post about God.

The incomparable Douglas Adams:

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing." "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D." "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. "Well, that was easy," says man, who goes on to prove that black = white, and is promptly run over at the next zebra crossing."

Bush, having laid the groundwork, may get to bomb Iran!

From the Asia times, we find that the Bush administration may have set a timetable to bomb Iran in August of this year. This is troubling for many reasons, the main being that it is totally and completely and utterly crazy, with a side of more crazy. The Bush administration has been unable to prove that Iran is delivering weapons to Iraq; while decrying Iranian's building of nuclear power plants, it has helped the Saudis get the same exact technology.

This is even more troubling, as Asmiral William Fallon, the former Commander-in-Chief of Centcom (US Military Central Command over the Middle East) resigned in March, to be replaced by David Petraus. Fallon was widely seen as flat-out refusing to attack Iran under his leadership. Now he's gone, and Petraeus seems to have an itchy trigger finger.

And now, none other than Bushes old press secretary, Scott McClellan, has written a tell-all book documenting how "the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated 'political propaganda campaign' led by President Bush and aimed at 'manipulating sources of public opinion and 'downplaying the major reason for going to war.'"

"The Iraq [Iran] war was not necessary," he concludes.
"Waging an unnecessary war is a grave mistake."

h/t george, daily kos

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You make the choice

I purchased this item, below, at a hipster yard sale about 2 miles from my house.

Sooo cute! With its pink and white bows, and teddy bear.

A cat shoulder massager?

Interesting Copyright Problem

A site uses your image, and slaps a copyright mark on it. Who does the original image now belong to? Practially speaking?

This is already happening. One such story at hownow brown pau. He made a time-lapse video of clouds that then was used by Huffington Post in a different, copyright-logoed clip. The original video was then automatically disabled by Google Video after the similar clip on Huffington Post was apparently spotted by a Google video bot.

There is, apparently, a dispute resolution process. His update.

But, still. Disturbing. Should all us anonymous microscopic sites be licensing our own images under some creative commons or copyleft license to preempt such situations in the future?

This is a subject I know little to nothing about, for what it's worth, just musings on my part.

H/T Boing Boing

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tiny brushes with fame

Plus an excuse to post about Patti Smith again.

I discovered Patti Smith when I was a marginal, deeply isolated, 16 year old. In spite of all those John Hughes movies, not as fun as it sounds. As an aside, I never forgave him for cleaning up Ally Sheedy at the end of "The Breakfast Club." What's the matter with black clothing, questionable personal hygiene, and actual eccentricity? Patti Smith gave me the idea that there was a world out there in which I might fit. (I blame Robert Lowth for that last sentence, btw.)

One day, when I was living in Ann Arbor in 1990, I was standing in line at Zingermans deli wearing a felted green jacket from Uruguay purchased at a yard sale. A woman who looked astonishingly like Patti Smith was standing behind me with a teenage boy. She fingered the jacket and told me how much she liked it. A few months later, she did a show in Ann Arbor--of course, she lived a few miles away and I hadn't recognized her. I should have given her the jacket. It was a bit big on me, would have fit her better. I should have gone to the show, too. But I had no one to go with and was too cowardly to go on my own. Pshaw.

Not Patti Smith, a different brush with fame. Billy Childish (with Smokin' Nurse Julie, or so I am told by the man in my life) playing in Oregon in 2006. You can see me as the blur in the middle, right at the very front, black shirt, necklace, bracelets.

Snapdragon, dubious of advice

being given by Monkey

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another two of my favorite flavors -- Son House and the White Stripes

"Death Letter" + a bit of "Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face." Can someone please supply me with one or more adjectives for "awesome?" It would be much appreciated.

Oh, and Meg White totally rocks, or hits things with sticks, or something not quite so unintelligible. Son House, if I may be so disrespectful, would be pleased, I suspect.

All hail our youtube masters. We bow in your general direction. Plus, should anyone ask, the maximum air speed velocity of a common swallow is 45 mph.

Snapdragon in the flesh

My dearest sweetest
snapdragon, in both a pensive and a black and white mood. Pic taken by her.

People are weird; or the more porn, the fewer sex crimes.

Pornography occupies some weird liminal position here in America. Somewhere around 90% of men view it (I've had trouble finding actual statistics), but it is widely seen as a horrific societal evil. Recent posts at have docmented sad tales of men so "addicted."

I decided to do a review of the literature to see what science says about such sad stories. What did I find out? Human sexuality = paradox. Every "common sense" argument is not only wrong, but produces the opposite effect you would suppose.

Two countries, Denmark and Japan, greatly liberalized their pornography laws in the 1960s and 1990's respectively. Both countries had spectacular declines in the number of sex offenses. Denmark even allows "child pornography"--it saw a 50% drop in such crimes, after the liberalization of pornography. Astonishing. Please understand that I am not condoning raping the occasional child for the good of the whole here, I find the idea reprehensible. I'm just reporting on the data.

Japan, who dramatically liberalized its pornography laws in the mid 1990's (or at least reinterpreted its existing laws much more broadly) saw an even more astonishing decrease -- an 85% decrease in sex crimes against children . If such an easy fix is available for such a horrific crime, we should all follow suit--in some non-horrific fashion; and yes, I realise that ay, there's the rub. To sleep, perchance to dream....

The most dramatic decrease in sex crimes was seen when attention was focused on the number and age of rapists and victims among younger groups (Table 2). We hypothesized that the increase in pornography, without age restriction and in comics, if it had any detrimental effect, would most negatively influence younger individuals. Just the opposite occurred. The number of juvenile offenders dramatically dropped every period reviewed from 1,803 perpetrators in 1972 to a low of 264 in 1995; a drop of some 85% (Table 1). The number of victims also decreased particularly among the females younger than 13 (Table 2). In 1972, 8.3% of the victims were younger than 13. In 1995 the percentage of victims younger than 13 years of age dropped to 4.0%.

Most significantly, despite the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly.

Another quote

"Other researchers have found the same effect. In Denmark homosexual child molestation decreased more than 50 percent from 74 cases in 1966 to 20 cases in 1969 (Ben-Veniste, 1971; pp. 254). These decreases in sex crimes involving children are particularly noteworthy since in Japan, as in Denmark, for the time under review, there were no laws against the personal non-commercial possession or use of depictions of children involved in sexual activities; so-called "childporn" (Kutchinsky, 1985a; pp. 5). Considering the seriousness in how sex crimes against children are viewed in both cultures, this drop in cases reported represents a real reduction in the number of offenses committed rather than a reduced readiness to report such offenses."

I looked at rape statistics by nation to determine where Denmark and Japan fit in world-wide.

US is at #9. Denmark is at #23, while Japan is at #54.

In retrospect, at right around 1995 this portal into the Hellmouth (no, wait, that's Sunnyvale), into the demimonde, previously only available to the wealthy or those willing to venture into the skeevier parts of town, was now but a click away, and in the privacy of your own home. Here, there, and anywhere with a dial-up phone line. This increased availability of porn coincides (mostly) with a similar drop in rape cases in the United States, so even if the the events in Japan and Denmark are correlative, not causative, something's happening here, even if what it is ain't exactly clear.

On beauty, or why it's only intermittently useful.

I lived in Las Vegas (North Las Vegas, actually) when I was between 13 and 15. There were lots of beautiful women around, none who seemed to be on the sorts of career tracks that I would wish for me or mine. 'Nuf said.

Slighly longer explanation for those who were not denziens of sin city during the years in question--Vegas had, inexplicably, large numbers of showgirls, all beautiful, and prostitutes, some also beautiful, including the mother of my dear friend Bambi, who, besides being built like a taller, leggier, more naturally blonde version of Dolly Parton, would tell me stories about having to ride ostriches, and how frightening she found it. I didn't ask questions. I still feel great guilt about not being able to do anything for her.

How to tell if we're in a housing bubble, or things I really really wished I'd known a bit sooner.

Are median mortgage payments over, say, 40% (or even 35%) of montly median income? Then, yes.

Also, the annual rent on a house is, taking historical averages, 5% of the median purchase price for the house. Currently, it's about 3.5%.That 1.5% difference is the bubble. I, so typically, find this out after I bought in 2006, at the height of the bubble.

Another nice analysis.

Shortest possible explanation of the Mortgage crisis.

The banks made loans that they then immediately sold in the form of securitized mortgages, so they didn't care about whether or not the borrowers could really repay. It turns out the borrowers couldn't.

The banks, pension funds, etc., then re-bought the securities based on the mortgages. Woops. Woops.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Greenspan hates you (you being anyone not worth billions)

Alan Greenspan knew exactly what he was doing when he allowed the credit market to loosen up and the housing market to bubble--i.e., become significantly overpriced, and helped his friends profit from both the bubble and the collapse. Yep, he and Ayn Rand, friends forevah. Slightly longer version, Alan Greenspan knowingly created an unsupportable bubble that was bound to collapse. By doing so, he and his very good buddies became very very very rich. This is, the only word for it, evil. He used his position as the Federal Reserve Chairman to line his own pockets and impoverish the rest of us.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury.
Alexander Tytler

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The best entrance evah, or what actual superheros do in their time off.

The excitement starts at about 28 seconds. Warning, the men in your life (which, dear reader, may be you, yourself) may wince in agony, but it's worth it. Secondary Warning, actual drag queens, but what sort of spoil sport does it take to not love Superman in high heel boots, not to mention WonderWoman herself, who, apparently is a black drag queen, duh. Tertiary warning, disco appears to be involved, but the sound quality is so bad it is almost bearable.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The that-which distinction is like, totally, artificial.

I have penned before on how Robert Lowth (may his name go down in infamy) created many of the grammar rules that plagued us all as children, and continue (if truth be told) to plague me. Now, it turns out, the that-which distinction was also created from whole cloth (presumably printed with a scattering of dictionary definitions) by Henry Watson Fowler in 1926. Take that, all you grammar nazis.

Feeling much better now.

Cat Burglar

Why our 2nd amendment rights are so important. Never forget.

As an added bonus, I trolled through the youtube jungle trying to find a suitable song for our kitteh perp. For some reason, cats don't seem to bring out the lyrical in humans. But I did find.....

The Stones, theoretically past their prime, but not bad at all... Stray cat blues.

New Geography Facts

All hail our mighty google overlords for this;
or, things I found when looking for something else.

From the disinformation league

Tom Waits on Tom Waits

Tom Waits interviewed himself on NPR, and, I must say, asked some interesting questions.

Q: Most interesting recording you own?
A: It's a mysteriously beautiful recording from, I am told, Robbie Robertson's label. It's of crickets. That's right, crickets, the first time I heard it... I swore I was listening to the Vienna Boys Choir, or the Mormon Tabernacle choir. It has a four-part harmony it is a swaying choral panorama. Then a voice comes in on the tape and says, "What you are listening to is the sound of crickets. The only thing that has been manipulated is that they slowed down the tape." No effects have been added of any kind except that they changed the speed of the tape. The sound is so haunting. I played it for Charlie Musselwhite and he looked at me as if I pulled a Leprechaun out of my pocket.

A clip of the man himself, unknown year, unknown TV show, "Take me home."

Vegans wanted to welcome new Republican overlords

Minneapolis is hosting the Republican national convention. Among other duties (one hopes), The FBI is ensuring that the Republicans are safe from the sorts of scarey terror activities that abound at "vegan potlucks." Honest. They're paying appropriate looking moles to infiltrate -- but you only get the bucks if it leads to arrest. What crimes, prithee, do they suppose they're preventing? Fakin' bacon being slipped into otherwise innocent good Republican breakfasts? An outbreak of healthy eating? The Republicans wish to keep their monopoly of "smug" by any means necessary? To quote Bertie Wooster, "the mind boggles."

Can you spot the Fed?

Now we know creeping authoritarianism tastes like Chicken! (Stealing shamelessly from the comments, below)

H/T Pharyngula

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

University of Chicago Economists -- now with extra mind-numbing stupidity; or "How we're in the mess we're in."

Two economists from the University of Chicago (home of Milton Freeman, famous tanker of economies, marijuana legalization advocate, and winner of the Nobel prize) have actually succeded in publishing a paper which (in their words) "shatters the conventional wisdom on growing inequality" (i.e., the conventional wisdom being that it is a bad thing that ever increasing amounts of the total wealth in the US is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands) because those poor rich people aren't really that better off than the poor, as the stuff the rich buy, with all their good taste and stuff, costs so much more than the crap the poor buy. So, you know, pity parties all around. They got published. Man.

David Bowie circa 1997, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

When Celebrities Go, uh, well.....

I confess I love Pete Doherty's first band the Libertines and his second band Babyshambles. Chamber Punk, what's not to like?

I also adore Amy Winehouse.

It has also been (in an embarrassingly schadenfreuden way) watching their continuing antics. Fave so far was when Pete Doherty was arrested for drug possession when he was on the way to the airport to fly to Bali to be married to Kate Moss.

But this, Pete and Amy, together with a bunch of baby mice, may be a bit much, even for me. As far as I can tell Pete recorded it himself and posted it to youtube. (Huh?) Don't these people have handlers? I know the answer to that one. If American stars cannot be convinced to do something as normal as wear normal, uh, undergarments, even in the presence of massive photo proof (no links, no no no no) what hope is there for your normal addled British rock star to behave?

A useful website

So, another bad week, what with Kathleen Parker, a commentator at the Washington Post declaring that Obama isn't a real American, not because they've figured out that he is one super-hot hologram (ah, that explains it), but rather, because his Father isn't an American citizen. Never mind the fact that his Grandfather fought in WW2, the taint of "Foreign" blood should be enough to make "True Americans" everywhere flee. Who knew John McCain was of Native American blood? (Stolen from Glenn Greenwald, or as he's known around the blogosphere--Glenzilla)

Anyway, it turns out that God is on the internet; a simple click can tell you what he really thinks. He mostly hates things. Duh. Makes life so much simpler. Turns out we agree about American Idol and Sex in the City. Go God.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Devil Got My Woman

I present Skip James, my favorite Blues artist, and one of my all time favorite musicians, live! C'mon people, less than 5,000 people have watched this clip on youtube.

He won a contest in 1931, travelled from Bentonia, Mississippi, to Wisconson to record an album or two in the depths of the depression. Just a few 78's were sold, and he disappeared for 30 years, to resurface (via John Fahey, more on him later) in the 60's. Cream covered his song "I'm so glad." The royalties allowed him to live his last year or two in something other than abject poverty.

Oh, and the immense, imposing man in the right foreground? That's Howlin' Wolf.

US Foreign Policy at its finest

So, the Bush administration has decided to actively help Saudi Arabia get nuclear power. You may recall Saudi Arabia as the country that gave us 15 of the 19 9-11 attackers, plus Osama Bin Laden himself.

At the exact same time, the Bush administration seems to be doing its best to gin up an excuse to invade Iran over the same issue -- nuclear power -- in spite of, ah, no proof at all that Iran is a danger.

A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On that California Gay Marriage Decision...

"I don't think we should legalize gay marriage. Haven't those poor people suffered enough?"

Oh, and another one-liner....

A baby seal walks into a club....

More seriously, the California court (composed, by the way, of six Republican appointees and a single Democratic appointee) decided that issues of sexual orientation would be decided using strict scrutiny, the most stringent legal standard, effectively prohibiting discrimination, under the equal protection clause, of GLBT people in California, a state with a population larger than that of Canada. Yay! (As an aside, could that sentence have had any more clauses?)

"no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ceiling cat made me make this post, srsly.

Blessinz of teh Ceiling Cat be apwn yu, srsly.

He wants you all to know that he is most definitely real, and, well, let's let him speak: Thees 11 awgooments ar in ur computer, teechin ur mind bout teh Ceiling Cat. They ar gud.

He also wants you to pay no attention to those other arguments against his existance. Dis makeded no sense. srsly.

More things than are dreamt of in your philosophy -- Polish ragga-bhangra

Take a couple of polish hip-hoppers, throw in some Bollywood, a few chapatti, and some hot tabla action.....

Lawrence Welk gets the spirit (of Rasta)

"Thank you for a very melodic spiritual by Gale and Dale"

Lawrence Welk -- Hipster

How the Velvet Underground finally made it big with the geriatric set; also, who knew Sister Ray had such a big banjo part?

It's the freakiest show

'Cause one ukelele number is just one to many, uh, few....

Some day I'll fly away....

Every ukelele makes its own tune

The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain -- The Good, The Bad, and The Slightly Frivolous

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day sadly lacking in surreality?

The cure just might be the Nietzche Family Circus, Family Circus cartoons paired with random Nietzche quotes.

Let's dance to joy division


I was thinking about posting about how it's quite possible that the high point of American living standard was in the late 60's, but, combined with the news out of Asia, decided that was just too depressing. So, everyone, instead, let's dance to Joy Division, because we're so happy. As you would be too, if you were a wombat.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Turns out there's no placebo effect (mostly).

You all know the placebo effect; the near-universal belief that people's minds can make them well when a magical sugar pill masquarading as actual medicine is offered. Turns out that this isn't true.

Some number of people get well with no treatment at all. These were the folks who were considered cured by the placebo effect.

There are two caveats, however; there is a real placebo effect for painkillers, and a smaller placebo effect for subjective symptoms.

But, if you need, say, an antibiotic, not so much.


At home with friends.

Second shortest Christian Precis

Starts with a rape, ends in religion.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shortest possible Christian Precis

Girl raped, son killed.

Patti Smith at 61, singing "Gloria."

Jesus died for somebody's sins, not mine.

Dr. Chill vs. Dr. Unreachable, or an episode in the dizziness chronicles.

I've been dizzy for almost 6 months now. It's gotten so bad that seeing a car chase or an innocent picture of water on TV sends me over the edge. So....I actually made a medical appointment. About 5 weeks ago. I have since, been MRI'd, spun about, tipped, had water of various temperatures poured into my ears, electroded and beeped various times, and so on and so forth. Diagnosis? HuH? I can't even reach my (Specialist, ENT) doctor.

Example, I recently started having Panic attacks associated with my vertigo attacks. Due to the magic that is wikipedia I discover that my symptoms match an unpronounceable disease called "Labyrinthitis", which can be treated with antivirals or antibiotics, none of which I've been given. After several attempts to call the good Dr. U, I'm given her assistant; I explain my case; she totally blows me off and recommends I talk to my primary care physician. I actually talked to him, explained the situation (been sick for almost six months, etc.) and he said he'd give Dr. Unreachable a call. So, just maybe, something may happen. I'll keep you informed, dear reader.


only slightly dizzy


If Napoleon couldn't pull it off, neither can George W.

Here is a picture of most of Iraq.

View Larger Map
Do to my lack of maddd html skillz I cannot preset a picture zooming into the Iraq coastline, but dear reader, if you were to click on the down arrow once and on the right arrow once, you could see the tiny sliver (36 miles) of the Persia Gulf coastline that the Brits in their infinite wisdom allotted Iraq.

It has only two more or less deepwater ports large enough to handle the sorts of ships required to move massive amounts of troops out of Iraq. See the funnel? Zoom in more to the coastline.

One, port, Umm Qasr, is directly on the border with Kuwait, while the other, smaller port, Al Faw, sits directly on the border with Iran. Also notice how the dividing lines between both Kuwait and Iran run right down those relatively tiny waterways.

It's roughly half of a world away to get supplies from the US to one of the Iraqi deep sea ports.

It's 277 miles from Basra to Iraq. And only a couple of lanes. On Bad roads. Few people have been spotted throwing flowers, lately, though their pitching arms seem to be in prime shape.

The supply lines lengthen.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric currently using his Madhi army to battle competing Shiite politician Nouri-Al Maliki (elected head of the Iraqi parliament), has pitched his current battle in Basra; right over our escape route.

We have approximately 158,000 troops in Iraq. Carriers, only two of which can only land at a time along the minimal Iraqi coast, only seem to hold about 3000 troops (apart from required staff). (This is way out of my area of expertise, comments appreciated.) Even if our troops to make it to Basra, what then?

Even Napoleon couldn't get his troops safely out of Moscow.

I'm afraid.

The problem with mormons, or gee, Djinn lighten up.

In Mormonism, back in that day, at 15 you went to youth church in the afternoon, as a member of the MIA maids. "MIA" stands for Mutual Improvement Association. I can tell you can sense the fun.

I attempt to attend church. I did not fit in. I was tuning to a pirate radio that played Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young; they were posting pictures of Donny Osmond on their bedroom walls (Hundreds of pics, I kid you not.) Now, this seems cool, at the time, though, not so much. I was clearly and unmistakably miserable; My MIA maid's teacher was the Bishops wife; we'll call her Sister Sweetheart -- small digression -- members of the congregation in Mormondom are expected to get up in church and give talks. A popular talk at the time concerned some sad girl whose dad wrote her letters pretending that he was her age and an admirer. Needless to say, I found this story disturbing.

Sister Sweetheart, suffering from that Mormon Beauty affliction, had a totally stunning son, let's call him Brad P. Mormon. He started showing up in the hallways of the church telling some nonexistent soul just out of earshot (poor dear, he was basically honest and could not pull it off) that he thought I was like, totally hot.
I was mortified and ashamed--they were pulling the "daddy" trick on me.

In retrospect, it was one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My most favoritest artist

This album, for some reason, was available to listen to in the BYU library when I was there. Let's just say I listened to it a lot. My most favorite Neil Young album. A live performance....

Extreme depression cures

Pictures of Roses. Girl porn. George, who is kinda astonishingly patient, refuses to budge the twentieth time I say "Oooooh, look, at this rose; it's fragrant and shade-tolerant!" What's with that?

Roses that I recently purchased, but have yet to see.

Dragon's blood

Wong Fang Yong


etc. Many happy hours.

Depression Cures

When I'm depressed, I look at pictures of cats in sinks;

lol cats, (mostly for spelling tips),

and Kitten Wars. May the best kitten win.

Accept no (dog) substitutes.

humorous pictures
more cat pictures

I was filled with delight.

So I had this dream (when you're pretty much stuck indoors, you're reduced to posts such as this one, but never fear, dear reader, it's short) that I was working in a restaurant; a couple customers ordered egg dishes that they then returned. To mollify them, I offered free dessert. At this moment, the manager noticed, whisked me away to her office and demanded "Do you read books down there?" (Down where?) "Uh, yeess." She brightened considerably. "Then we shall go shopping!" Suddenly various women dressed beautifully showed up and escorted me into a room filled with lovely satiny dresses. I was filled with so much delight that I Woke Up! Fell asleep again, back at the restaurant where the cook was agonizing over whether to cut up a skirt made out of tulle, strawberries, blueberries and pineapple to make "Aloha Soup." Never did get to shop.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

It's fun to be a Republican candidate for President, less fun to be the Democratic governor of a southern state; or political prisoners are so in.

Richard Scrushy had been appointed to the Alabama State Hospital board three times by three Alabama governors, one Democratic, two Republican. He donated $500,000 to a Education lottery campaign that Bud Seligman, the former Governor of Alabama, was campaigning for. Seligman reappointed him. For the 4th time. Got that? Scrushy was already a member of the board, and he did not donate money to the Governor. For this "crime," Seligman was convicted of bribery and sentenced to seven years in prison.

A Justice department investigation about the conviction was shut down in mysterious circumstances, now coming to light.

John McCain helped a top campaign donor trade 55,000 acres of land worth about $2000/acre for land worth up to $12,000/acre.

1n 1999, John McCain helped another top campaign donor purchase land on the California Coastline belonging to the Army that netted the developer, Donald Diamond, Millions of dollars of profit.

Rather than going to jail, John McCain has been nominated by the Republican party as their presidential candidate. It's good to be a Republican.

Intelligence, not all it's cracked up to be.

The New York Times had an article this week about how smart fruit flies have shorter lives than their more Bevis and Butthead counterparts (heh heh). (My age showing any?)

Absolutely. Intelligence doesn't give much of an evolutionary advantage.

Proof 1: "Smarter people" (defined in terms of IQ, troubling, but we're not going there for this post) have fewer babies in the modern world. I can't find the cites right now; I'll keep looking. But, basically, you may recall that there was quite the brouhaha awhile back stating that birth order affected IQ--successively younger children were less intelligent than their earlier-born siblings. However, it turned out that the difference was not in birth order, but rather in the intelligence of the entire family; to wit, larger families were less intelligent than smaller ones. For the record, I'm the oldest of seven.

Proof 2: Ashkenazi Jews, who actually appear to be smarter (again, defined in terms of IQ) than the rest of us, seem to owe that intelligence to mutations that also cause them to have extremely higher rates (59% of the population heterozygous for at least one) of various troubling diseases, specifically, the sphingolipd storage diseases Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, Niemann-Pick, and mucolipidosis type IV. (Much more info here.)

Proof 3: There's lots of variability in IQ in human populations; traits that are beneficial propagate pretty evenly. Again, can't find cite--will keep looking. But this should be pretty obvious.

So, Oh Brave New World--American Idol, and whatever that show is that make people eat insects for, uh, cash prizes? here I come!


I regularly visit Go Fug Yourself for fashion tips.

Vashti Bunyan, or another tiny argument for the existence of God

Never much been given much to prayer,
but lately I've been pleading with the air...

My other unhealthy music obsession

I had a difficult time finding a version of this, my most favorite Mountain Goats song, that was high enough quality to post. But, I suppose, that's as it should be. The original was recorded on a boombox; you can hear the whirr and hiss of the gears, and a click at the end. This particular video appears to have been recorded from a camera phone and lit with matches.

When you punish a person for dreaming his dream,
don't expect him to thank or forgive you.
The best ever death metal band out of Denton
will in time both outpace and outlive you.

Hail Satan. Hail Satan tonight.

Tiny argument for the existence of God.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster will touch me with his noodly appendage, but not in a good way, if I don't admit to his existence. Plus, he thinks I'm being to negative.

So, for you, FSM, a happy song about clouds. All usual warnings apply.

For those too tentative to click, if you listen carefully, you can discern that this is Hole doing a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now."

Tiny argument against Christianity.

The Bible. You read it lately? And not just the fun verses, but the icky bits in between?

Tiny argument against the existence of God.

The existence of Theodicy (long, often whiny, always abstruse, arguments about why a good, all-powerful Diety would allow evil), baby.

Ceiling Cat really says it better.
Awgooments frum Eevul in teh Urfs
He, liek, nevr duz anyfing. An der iz lots ov bad fings in wurldz. Liek, I wuz in teh best warm spot on teh rug, but den it moovd, an Iz cood not be in it anymoar. WAI, CEILING CAT, WAI??? WAI YU SO CROOL??? So, him not exist. LOLZ! Yu looz! kthxby.

Addendum: In retrospect, this seems a bit hard; perhaps closer to truth is the idea that there is one person out there (a bit foggy around the edges, perhaps) who truly cares about me, no matter what my sad stories are, otherwise. It's God as a truncheon that I object to, not as a distant friend.

Tiny argument for the existence of God.

God exists. He's just cruel and capricious.

Friday, May 9, 2008

killer killer killer

I heart Jerry. Give it to the Killer, don't break it.

Or, can't seem to write, so rock on all.

Sing, little Sparrow

It was, to say the least, a difficult day. So, for myself, and for you, dear reader, I present two songs from the best album no one has ever heard of. After Marvin Gaye left his first wife, Anna Gordy, (17 years his senior) for a hottie 17 years his junior, he was required to give Anna, the ex, the royalties for his next album, "Here, my dear." I believe there have been rumors ever since that he deliberately made a crappy album; it tanked. But, but, but, it is a sweet, bruised masterpiece. This is "Anger." Give it a listen.

This is "Sparrow," startlingly stunning. Plus, as an added bonus, Marvin totally rocks the cover as a greek statue/God.

Best Jacket evah. A Funky Space Reincarnation. Plus, Marvin (swoon swoon swoon) live; and the sort of groove that entire musical genres are unable to find these days.

Continue looking away.....

Arthropoda, insecta, ephemeroptera
live for but one day. Mayfly, Junefly, fly fly away.
Dance the Brownian minuet.
The cloud rises ~ the dancers twirl.
Wave after wave; Rise, pause, whirl.

Can you glimpse Shiva spinning in the corner of your eye?
Smiling, at the least of these, your brethren?
O elect, O noble, O brief bit
All desire stilled-- but one.
To spin the wheel, just this once, again.
To be born again, to be born again.

Addendum: If you meet the Buddha on the road -- swat him.

Feel free to look away


Gazing down through the licentious brachiation
the long climb down past~40 days, years, who knows the hour or the day
A voice, prehensile thought, Glancing up at the beckoning stars, then down to the stony ground.

Out on the plain thunder stirs.
Lightning leaps from cloud to ground.
What rough beast Straightens, reaches, stretches for the cross- piece; hesitates
A threnody in the wind,Troy burning, Oedipus bleeding
The wind pivots
A dityrambic murmur, Bacchus, bread, a swirl of skirts.
Hands balancing, Toes clinging, Then, the leap down.

Philosophical question

My favorite store, Flutter, sells awesome vintage slips as outerwear. (I guess I have to thank Madonna for something, other than that embarrassingly bad english accent, always a delight.) I own two. But, does one wear a slip with a slip?

Tiny refutation of Expelled's correlation of Evolution and the Holocaust

"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," is a rather insanely antisemitic book that claims a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.  It was used by Hitler to whip up sufficient genocidal intent in the German people.  

In Mein Kampf he says:

"To what extent the whole existence of this people [the Jews] is based on a continuous lie is shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews."

"Protocols" lists "Darwinism" as one of the evils that the Jews are attempting to foist on the masses to establish disorder.  

Tiny refutation of the Iraq war.

It's a colonial war.  That is sooooo last century.  Gee whiz.  The Cool Countries will never eat lunch with us now. 

Tiny refutation of Michael Behe's Black Box

Say structure X is composed of A, B, and C, each necessary for function; that is A, B, and C together are "irreducibly complex." However, the structure could have started out as A, B+, C, and D. B+ modified to take over the role of D, turning into B, and D dropped out. This gives us A, B, and C.

Or, X was initially composed of A alone; B appeared, (perhaps as a result of the mutation of A into two copies of A, a common occurrence, and then as B could be used to perform some of the functions of A, A and B both modified in ways that made B required. Now A and B together appear to be irreducibly complex.

This outcome of evolution was first spotted by the Nobel prize winning biologist H. J. Muller in papers that came out in 1919 and 1939. [Edit] Specifically, the mechanisms go under the name Muller's Morphs) [/Edit]
So, Behe took something previously shown to be a natural consequence of evolution and, uh, missed the point somewhat spectacularly.

Tiny refutation of teaching Intelligent Design.

It's terrifically disrespectful of God.

ID (or creationism, if you prefer) offers the proposition:

God created the world in a way that doesn't make sense, so don't bother looking.

It's God as Courtney Love--"I could really f*** you up, 'cause I'm a demon, buttercup. Gonna run the phone bill up ....."

Warning, though sound quality is pretty crappy, you can still hear Ms. Love in all her 1990 full-throated glory, oh, and language, check. Offensive subject matter, check. Actual Hole performance, check. Watcher assumes full responsibility for proper use of this video.

As an aside, how does one properly rend expletives, without descending into the risible? Can one?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My dress. What? Didn't you hear? Black is the new black.

Lisa's Dress

Tracey's dress

Be very afraid -- poetry

Rules of English

Robert Lowth, too trivial even for trivial pursuit
Said, in 1762, [In a "short introduction to English Grammar" that]
"Thou shalt not end a sentence in a preposition." [I may be paraphrasing here.]
And, even though flat out wrong, the world
Perhaps I should be thankful, as sinning by violating grammatical
rules is easier on the pocketbook and the knees than the more
celebrated types of violation.
But if for him, why not me? And you, too, should get the thrill
of the small sin.
So, I declare
The word "flaxseed" should occur with much greater frequency in English.
I should no longer follow E. It's time I got to be the leader. E has
his own way for much too long.
Junior High English teaches should be force to wear a scarlet
"ain't" prominently displayed at all times. Even when bathing.
When you split an infinitive, the person next to you must pay you a quarter.
If someone could arrange for the "lay" "lie" distinction to disappear
under unclear circumstances, there may be a cash reward.

To master a stupid rule, to master a rule imposed by some authority,
incorporating the authority of the original into yourself is
sympathetic magic. You beome stronger at the expense of the world,
which becomes less rich. You what this was about, didn't you?
Don't impose your rules on me. I'll split my infinitives. I might
split something else even. I might even wear plaid with polka dots.
Consider the source. Lay Off.

Dec. 2004

George and me

I'm a luddite, or... marriage

So, today I bought a wedding dress.   It's, I don't need to say, awesome, black, fits me perfectly, and some amazing super-duper heavy weight satin from the fifties, roughy, with extra buttons and lace courtesy of Frocky Jack Morgan.  However, even after I posed in front of George's mac book at various heights and lights, the evil evil mac refuses to give up the pictures; so you'll have to wait.

Also, i purchased, for Lisa, my embarassingly beautiful sister (see recent post re: Mormons)  a stunning one of a kind lavender halter dress (chiffon and satin) because nothing else even came close to approximating her perportions.  Lisa, it'll look totally cute with a white t shirt underneath. Everyone agreed.  Also agreed with the proposition that it was hopeless to fit you into anything else.  I also have pics of this awesome dress, but the evil evil mac, Nikita refuses to give them up.  I suspect a cleavage fetish.  Never trust someone from northern california.

And, Tracey, got you the most incredibly awesome black besequinned slip dress... it was an accident; they were serving vodka lemonade and twinkies! What can I say---also frocky jack morgan...... Pic later, the luddite gods being willing....  what size is your sweetie? I'll get him some pirate gear, unless he can perhaps attach a parrot to his shirt without massive amounts of help.  I am willing.

Darn macbook.

I remain,

Wearing Tracey's slip dress but promising to give it back,


The real problem with Mormons.

I grew up Mormon.

The real problem with growing up Mormon is that you're surrounded by bizzarely beautiful people. Not a problem of mine. The bizarrely beautiful bit. Talk about giving someone a complex! Those Romney boys? Only average looking in Mormondom.

Mormon men and women are pretty much entirely clueless as all their peers suffer from the same disability.

For all us girls who are pretty on the inside. Hole, 1990. Warning warning warning -- Can both see and hear Courtney Love. Do not watch while operating heavy machinery. Please return all tray tables and seatbacks to their upright and locked positions. Discontinue watching if rash, redness, or swelling appears. Views expressed are those of the singer and do not necessarily represent other life forms.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sometimes embarrasing things happen...Family, don't read

Had a time some weekends ago; went to Seattle with George, stayed in a hostel just across from Pike Place Market. We registered late, ended up in bunks; There was a nice double bed in the bunk next to ours with NO ONE IN IT. So, we switched. Of course owners of said bunk showed up, saw us there, turned around and got management. we skedaddled into correct bunk(s) and pretended to be asleep. I was in the cool treehouse top bunk; lonely though,all by meself.

They apparently believed us to be asleep, (or hoped we weren't) because, ahem, after I fell asleep and woke up (had to go to potty desperately -- beer in Seattle as good as beer inPortland) I heard this unmistakable moaning (after what I thought to be a rather excessive amount of zipper sounds--thought they had zipped themselves into some sort of large sleeping bag with Michael Jackson style zippers.) Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I peeked. No sleeping bag; no sheet even. Just rather a lot of arms, legs and a rather nice ass--there are missionaries, and then there is that similar position. I was mortified/embarrassed and had to get off my bunk--bladder bursting. So I tossed from side to side, rattled my jewelry in hopes that they would notice, stop, use a sheet, or something. No such luck. So I gingerly climbed down off the top bunk and left. Had a difficult time re-entering room, but decided that I couldn't leave George in there alone. Decided he was either a) asleep, b) mortified, or c) enjoying himself. So, went back in, they were still at it, crawled into bottom bunk (not about to face people having sex (that weren't me) alone. Thought of waking George up, actually poked him, but decided coudn't decide if I was more horrified by what was happening, or by how badly lit it was. Fell asleep(!). We escaped the next morning before they got up.

Political Rant number 1

I promised political rants, so here goes:

Vietnam was a rather gigantic blunder, seeing as how the entire premise of the war was based on the fact that the Americans totally misunderstood that the only people that the Vietnamese hated worse than us was the Chinese.

You see, for you young’uns out there, we gave as the reason to be in Vietnam that the Vietnamese regime under Ho Chi Minh (our North Vietnamese enemy) would align with the Communist world (read China), unless, uh, we, uh, killed lots of them and, uh, you know, won, some undefined sort of winning thing. Not so much. We wasted about 58,000 American men, including, almost, my father; somewhere around a million Vietnamese, and as an added bonus, destabilized Laos and Cambodia, setting up the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, leading to another, roughly 1.5 million Cambodians dead. Go USA.

The CIA took out the democratically elected Prime minister of Iran, Mossadegh, in 1953, and installedthe Shah Reza Pahlavi, ensuring that the Middle East saw us as the Bad Guys. The Vietnam debacle, and our inability to learn from it plus our earlier Meddling in Iran’s affairs both led directly to today’s debacle–which shall not be named.

A brief interregnum -- After World War I, the Germans couldn't believe that they actually had lost, and so blamed someone -- Jews mostly, with this word that I cannot remember-- so, WW 2.

We did the same. The failure of the Vietnam war was blamed on the "liberal media" setting us up for a reprise. Why did we fail in Vietnam? Long rant (will follow) but basically because, uh, they all hated us. Duh. And we were killing them for no particular reason that made any sense.

On to Iraq.
The Iraq war is a failure. Nouri-Al Maliki, current prime minister of Iraq, is the head of the Dawa party–an early backer, of among other things, the Iranian revolution. Remember that? There was this hostage thingie that mysteriously ended moments after Reagan was elected. In return, the Dawa receive actual support from Iran.

Scroll back a few years. They also bombed the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983. Al-Maliki, the current Prime Minister of Iraq and our ally, lived in exile in Iran and was just over there to broker a peace deal with Muquta Al-Sadr, who is and has always been an Iraqi nationalist. He and his father, for example, never went into exile in Iran.

So, we’re backing the pro-Iranian terrorist (see previous American embassy bombings) regime in Iraq right now against the pro-Iraqi faction, while at the same time calling out Iran as the next great Satan. Got that? We’re backing the same side we’re fighting. How can this be seen as anything but a gigantic disaster of monumental proportions?

The surge? Are you kidding? Al Sadr stood the Mahdi army down in August. As they weren’t fighting (so much) casualties decreased. But wait! The Mahdi army is back and, for all intents and purposes, just won the battle of Basra. This is a long winded way of saying the fate of Iraq is out of our hands; what is happening is beyond our control. What exactly are we doing over there right now, other than being targets?

Taking out Iraq was the worst possible action in the war on terror. We should just have hired Osama a PR firm. Would have been cheaper.

Small towns small bits

Religion, such fun. If you remember, when I was 10, my mother and her four children were in Provo, Utah; while dad was in Thailand (and later Vietnam) fighting the good fight. Provo is Mormon central; in my school, we had some sort of drill team of which I was a member; my mother insisted that my denim skirt uniform not be below the knee. It was 1968; she insisted that my skirt be cute, and, heavens, a couple of inches above said knees. So... you get the idea.

Six months into my dad's overseas stint, he and mom met in Hawaii for two weeks. About three months later, she started showing. The mailman said "does your husband know?" Her four sisters stopped coming around. Visits from church members (essentially everyone who might help) dropped to nonexistent.

Mom just about didn't leave the house after that. The next door neighbors weren't mormon. How I wish I could remember their name. They'd take some number of us kids to the Country Club (extra exciting) and order us Shirley Temples. I'd come home and mom would be in bed with a migraine. I'd try to make dinner with what we had around the house. Actually, by this time, at 10, I'd been cooking for four years, so I could actually put dinner on the table.

I never forgave my aunts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Did I mention clothing? Or Shallow is the new Deep

There's this wonderful store a couple streets away from me, Flutter. They stock Frocky Jack Morgan, deconstructed dresses. They're me. We finally had a beautiful non-rainy warm day here a few weeks ago and I found the perfect sundress!

This is so exciting, as since I went from being sveltish to zaftig, I haven't found a single sundress that I liked. No. More. It's silk? golden, cut on the bias, drapes beautifully, and has an embroidered chinese man nestled between, well, you can see it at the above site at about the 1/5 way point. Did I mention the loverly persimmon fabric waist thingie?

Goats and Beavers, or, the Perils of Portland

I just got back from going Powell's for work. Tee Hee. Looking for stuff for my litigtion among the used books. On my way back I realized it was dinnertime and found a little hole-in-the-wall mexican place that looked inexpensive, and from the number of mexican-looking people in there, good as well. (another downtown dive! Yay) Well, I went in, and on the chalkboard in the back the special of the day was "goat soup." I got it. It was goat. Pieces. Of Goat. and Goat broth. Nothing else. Alththough they did provide a plastic cup full of onion and cilantro, if you found yourself in dire need of vegetables. I steeled myself and ate some of it. The Goat. Decided that perhaps help was needed.

There was a sign saying beer in bar (with an arrow pointing to a door in the back.) So I went through the door. Woops. I walked in and found myself staring right at a woman's, uh, you know, uh, poontang? (trying out the outer limits of my slang vocab) She'd had a brazilian bikini wax, i can assure you. I have learned through experience now that you (or rather they) get to show rather more in strip bars in Portland than in Utah. Where pasties are required. And the sort of panties I'd call PG. And apparantly in Portland no need to advertize what's happening inside. I did like the poster on the wall "Portland welcomes rodeo bull riders" with appropriate picture, however. It turned out goat is a two-beer dish. On my second trip into Mary's the woman was putting her clothes on on stage with the much more nonchalance that I put my clothes on after I shower. La de da. Now I know what goat tastes like. And will be somewhat more cautious about walking though those "Minors absolutely not permitted" doors in the future.

The Lysistrada, or Oh, Those Naughty Greeks

So, under the impression that I had read it, I took up Celandine (dear daughter, 18) on her suggestion, and we went to the student production at Portland State. Oh. My. God. Turns out I hadn't gotten past the first act, where it was not yet necessary for the props manager to rush to the Portland equiv of to stock up on, and then spray paint gold, largish sized, uh, male appendages for all male cast members. They detached! They waved around! They got propped up on pillows and danced around! They were several of the most important cast members! You can imagine undergrads with this material.

Celandine was laughing equally hard at the action and my discomfort; but it was, I must admit, really funny. The women cast members were kitted out as equiv characters; a greek goddess, a scary German woman (the Spartan, go figure) a dominatrix, Marilyn Monroe. I have to recommend an undergrad production of this material at some liberal college. Work it, boys.

You know the plot? The women of Athens and the neighboring city-states go on strike -- no more "action" until their men stop the war. Pretty timely, actually. When we were leaving, someone with an absolutely perfect pompous British-accented voice was heard to declaim "I strongly suspect the FILTH was not in the original Greek" Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, us moderns thought all this stuff up.

Blush recedingI remain

still spinning,

Meal hints, some helpful, some less so.

So, Dear Brother James, Rachel (former roomie) , Snapdragon, and I went to the Untouchables, uh, the imponderables, uh, the inflatables, uh, whatever the superhero movie is about retired superheros getting in touch with their outer superhero -- it was charming and funny (esp. the part where I skipped out) --- afterwards we went for sushi at the happy sumo.

The waitress asked us, and I quote, if "WE were ready to order." I said, perhaps unwisely, that the people at the table were, but I was unsure as to whether she herself was completely ready yet. Needless to say, it took a while for our order to arrive. During the interregnum, as we were waiting, a group got up and left -- wonder of wonders -- some actual sushi on their table. By this time I was ready to gnaw a leg off a table for a bit of fibre-- my roomie came to the rescue, looked to the right, looked to the left, and levitated the spare sushi onto our table. Yum yum yum. Appetizers. Maybe whole meals could be scored this way.

Earlier while I should have been happily watching cartoon people successfully fight off other cartoon people I managed to wander into gap body and anthropologie and make up for appalling gaps in my wardrobe. NO longer. I just have to calm my credit card down; everything's gonna be alright. I also wandered into the Diesel store and did not, i repeat, did not buy the t-shirt that said "superfreak." Such control. It had a silhouette of someone in an afro. But I am strong. I also did not buy the Tshirt I found in Portland that said "Bad MoFo" but, memories linger.

Christmas Cheer, or a perfect day

Spoiler alert Not a really happy sort of message.
Or a tale of me, Asphodel and Celandine all together in Portland, many Moons ago.

Various Demons
Place -- Portland
Atmosphere -- Rainy

Celandine --I hate being such a wasp. Why are we so waspy? Actually, it was kinda amusing in a eurotrash version of wasp life kinda way. I made her hash browns and she started eating them and then she said to me "You're not a good sister." Then ate some hash browns. I said "I didn't know I couldn't go out. Last night, you got into your pajamas" Then I ate some hash browns. But furiously. We were both eating hash browns. Furiously.

Asphodel, later that day--"I can't believe you made me spend three hours in a bookstore."

Celandine, almost hysterical, that evening: "This friend of mine, Dan, I just heard that he died. I worked with him at PTC. He was really sweet. His parents tried to wake him up and he didn't. I really liked him. I almost went out with him. He's a really geeky guy, he was into lighting design. A geeky lighting design boy; you know the kind of blond, he was 20 and his hair was thinning on the top. The really sad thing is I'm going to be sad for awhile, and then I'm going to get over it. But for him, its final. That's It."

At Blockbuster, Asphodel --"You got Saved didn't you. The movie Celandine wanted. You didn't get Napoleon Dynamite. You always loved Celandine more than me. Always."

Celandine --"What the Fuck?"

At Home, Asphodel "Too bad. You don't have that choice." Storms off to coffee shop. (Answer to my statement that I wanted to do something with both daughters.)

Asphodel--Late that night
Mom? Wakes me. I don't have a soul. I think that explains all my problems. Why I'm empty, why i can't connect with people." "You don't even believe in a soul" (answer to my protests.)
"Actually I think if I really didn't have one, animals could tell, and they seem to like me all right."

Asphodel -- Next morning "Mom? I'm really sorry. I conjured anger, hate and resentment like magic, out of thin air."

And we lived happily ever after, after a while.

The author vs. the 8th grader.

The Jr. High School Student won.

Back to the scene of the crime. I, trying to be an, uh, adult and all, enrolled for a pro bono project where I would write letters to an 8th grader about books and poems that she would be reading in her English class. The first letter was about the only Emily Dickinson poem that I truly truly hate. This was not a good sign. Since I care about you, truly, deeply, as a mysterious cyberspace entity, I'm reproducing the poem here, in toto.

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

One can surely do better. One single heart? One pain cooled? A robin? What about two sparrows? roughly the same weight: To quote Jesus (by way of Matthew) "you are worth more than many sparrows." Couldn't say it better. Shakespeare disagrees with me; to wit: "here's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow." (Hamlet, but who can trust him?) Wait, I was talking about my very own personal 8th grader.

So, I have this person whom I lob missives at, and she glides letters (handwritten, legible!!!) back. I basically rail rail rail against the status quo as represented by the totally lame-o questions we are supposed to answer about sub-prime literary works while she sends me totally and perfectly diplomatic letters where she agrees with all my wild wild wild statements. But, reading slightly between the lines I could always feel her managing me.

After the third letter, I lost interest. All I wanted was for her to disagree with one statement that I made. At some point we were asked to list a favorite quote. I listed a number; including some favorite Wilde quotes, including: "People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately." She countered with some Oprah-worthy quote which made me realize how totally shallow, like, ya know?, that I am because it made me see red, and not a lovely pomegranate red with touches of lavender if looked at from the right angle either, just red.

I seem to have lost the letter with the offending quote, but it had something to do with closing doors and opening windows. "When God closes a door he opens a window" perhaps. Do people say such things? Anyhoo, DF talked me down, and I lied through my teeth and told her how important such quotes were in one's life. After all, who am I to, uh,........ We then read the Outsiders. Can I tell you how much I hate that book? I managed to reach the ripe age of 48 without subjecting myself to it. A feat I tell you. Yes. The book (if you too have managed to abstain) concerns a group of saintly lower-class kids, the Greasers. Every time you think they can't get more pure, yep, the author exceeds your expectations. Ponyboy (blond, perfect) and his friend Johnny (his parents don't love him, yet he has no discernible flaws) are set upon by the Soc's (not pronounced Socks everyone, including stray people at red lights tell me) rich, cruel creatures.

Ponyboy and Johnny then accidentally kill one of the evil ones, escape, and save children from a burning church. Deep sigh. I wrote an overwrought letter to my child explaining same. I wrote her anothereven-more-overwrought letter explaining how the novel actually glorified violence in spite of the cliffs notes fake questions we were to answer. Deep sigh. She agreed. Nicely. I predict great things in her future.

A story of faith, or waiting to fly.

I thought they were fucking nuts. Let me back up abit....autobiographies are tedious, especially the sort filled withkind, well-meaning, but essentially batshit folk.

This may be a bit harsh; perhaps batshit is the norm, and who am I to look down on our chiropteran friends? I'm 6, swinging on a swing; I've been told at church that if you have faith that you can do anything. So, I think, if I launch myself outof this swing when I'm at the highest point and I really really believe, can I fly? I start to launch, the seat buckles as I begin toeject....But the ground looks a long way down. I lack faith and do not become airborne.

I'm at sunday school in church, 9. My teacher tells me (and all ofthe other squirmy children, who, much cleverer than I, are not listening) that to determine what action to take, just ask yourself"what would Jesus do?" I try this, experimentally. For the life of me, I can never figure out what Jesus would do.

Again at church, 10, a recurring theme. My father is a navigator inthe Air Force and has been sent to Viet Nam to fly planes and help us win our patriotic war. Mormons are into the war. We're fighting the Communist menace. Those Communists play dirty, the church elders tell us over the podium. They even use language improperly. When they say"Peace" they mean that Communists rule. When they say "Love" they mean something else, though I am unclear on exactly what.

My father does something very dangerous, flying jets. All through my childhood, father's of friends have been killed--not often, but difficult to not notice. I am invited into the Bishop's office for a meeting. All mormon children must have interviews with their Bishop to prove their worthiness. He tells me that I hold the key to my father's return. If I have faith that he will come back, God will be sure that he returns. The obvious corrolary is If my faith is insufficiently
strong, he won't. Thinking the wrong thing will kill my father. I leave terrified.

10 still. I'm at church, alone for some reason. Mom had to take care of a sick child, I believe. Mormons assign a person a church by location; everyone within a certain area goes to the same Ward. In Provo, where we live close by my mother's family, where everyone is Mormon, you attend with your neighbors. There are three meetings a day; Priesthood meeting which only men attend, Sunday School in the morning, and Sacrament meeting in the afternoon. This is not a problem in Provo, where the church is inwalking distance; but in California where we moved from, we had to drive about 25 miles to church; as I get carsick, Sundays with their 100 total miles of driving, were not greeted with joy.

The first Sunday of every month is Testimony meeting. Rather than having speakers like the other three weeks, ward members are expectedto walk up to the podium and bear their testimonies. "I know the church is true, Joseph Smith is a prophet of god, Amen."

Many people cry; mothers take tiny children up, murmur thewords in their ears, they lisp back. I, 10, and short, get up, walkup to the podium, and give a short testimony. "I know the church istrue, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, amen." A famous man in the ward (he had high calling in the Church? Taught at BYU?) gets up directly after and riffs on my testimony--calling out how a small child, alone at church, whose father is gone, can give her testimony. It is a semi-rebuke to the un-testimony-bourne-audience members with abit of sideways personal validation thrown in. I am pissed. Furious. I never bear my testimony again.

Still 10, in a tree. We had a large climbing tree in our yard in Provo, Utah. When my dad got his orders to go to 'nam, Mom moved all four of us kids to Provo, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake, where her family was from. The tree is comfortable, I can read, watch clouds, try not to think of my father dying. I am still terrified.

10 and a few more months, in my bedroom. The family owns a set ofworld book encyclopedias. They are very big and full of words; articles on Chile, marmosets, waterfalls. I spend hours reading them, take them to bed with me. With a book the terror diminishes; less chance of thinking murderous thoughts.

Christmas. My mother, normally startllingly healthy, has been getting migraines since dad left, and has stopped eating. She's getting scarily thin. I try, in between reading bouts, to keep an eye onthings. Dad told my little brother Jon that he's the man of thehouse, but this is just clearly wrong. I'm the oldest, and theresponsibility lies with me. I have four brothers, Jon, 8; Jeff, 6;Jamie, 4; and Mikey, 2. It's Chrismas eve, and I hear a noise in theliving room. Even though I'm 10, I still believe in Santa Claus. I tiptoe to the living room, peer in, and see my Uncle Kent helping my mom lay out Christmas presents. I draw the obvious conclusion--"there is no Santa Claus." Then...a heartbeat later -- "God is Santa Claus for grownups." This doesn't provide the relief you'd expect.

(amusing intermission, which might be added later)

The adults around me, Mormons all, believed resolutely in God, and seemed to talk of little else. They were big. I was small. They had all the food. And the warm houses. Did I mention access to books? Best not to anger them. Plus, why should I be right, and all of them thunderously, tremendously, wrong? Could all these people's lives be based on a non-existent entity? Seemed unlikely; more likely I was wrong. I decided to give God the benefit of the doubt. But, man, his definition of good was vastly different from my own. Living in a religious house, there were bibles strewn about. I started reading.Carefully. OK, what struck me way back then? Perfectly reasonable questions: who did Cain and Able marry? Their sisters? Ewwwww. Did God really have a full-scale tissy fit and drown everyone but Noah and his family? God? A mass murderer? Apparently so.

Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart when the israelites wished to leave Egypt? So God was responsible? Then what's with killing all the firstborn babes? Itried to ask adults, tentatively, shyly, some of these questions; they essentially patted me on the head and said something along the lines of "we haven't a clue"--though it was generally phrased as "God works in mysterious ways." OK then.

Here's my major mistake (number 1, truth be told, in a continuing series.) I told not a person about my disbelief, for several reasons.The first I have already alluded to. At 10, I clearly could not liveon my own and wished to not be booted on the street. In retrospect itseems an unlikely prospect, but at the time it terrified me. I heard my mormon relatives saying the most godawful things about unbelivers; such, as it appeared, barring a miracle (unlikely in the circumstances), myself. So, I kept quiet and spent more and more time in my room. I started to get very sad; my poor mother didn't have a clue.

Second, not believing in God sucked. My parents believed that theywould live forever, that the universe cheated for them (those miracles! Miraculous healing, unexpected gifts of money, finding your purse (always a problem for me)). I faced a life miracleless -- my purse lost, seemed guaranteed to stay lost. Plus, we moved quite abit -- Mormonism provided an instant social milieu. We'd move into aWard, and there was a social life! Go to church, see your friends,church parties, divers people to scold your kids for sins real and imaginary. What would mom and dad do without it? It seemed unspeakably rude to mention that my parents worldview was bewilderingly inconceivable.

To be continued....

Hammers, nails

Overheard on the light rail coming in from the Portland airport.

Scene, 2 girls, both early twenties, both tough characters or art students.

Girl 1: The paramedics came out last month.
Girl 2: Why?
Girl 1: I tried to pierce my tongue with a hammer and a nail and I hit a vein. It was some important vein and I bled alot.

Elton John, Not entirely evil

Here's a youtube clip of William Shatner as the "Rocket Man." Man. Just awesome. "I'm going to be higggghhhh (haaaah) (cue spooky music) as a kit'e by (ominous pause) then. I'm a rocket, man."

Shatner is very tip tip top of the 2nd rate. (To misquote Rex Harrison about himself.)

Getting Started

Dizziness, the story of my life.

The world whirling by a bit too swirly for comfort; more beautiful for the swirls.

A story.

I came from a very large family. As the eldest of 7, though, I had privileges; which I exploited to the fullest. For example, I got carsick. So did my brother Jon, 18 months younger than I. But, on road trips, I sat in the front. Mom sat in the back with Sick Jon, Jeff, and as the years went on, James, Michael, Rick, and Lisa. Better view from the front. Also closer to the air conditioner. But, I really did get sick.

Sweet sweet creatures my sibs are, they've forgiven me, or maybe forgotten. Tee hee. Or maybe get even by talking about me behind my back. Hope so; gossip on guys.

But, anyway, the carsickness has now (at 49) progressed to the point that I get sick to my stomache when walking around a corner, when exposed to flourescent lights, when bending down to pet Harold the cat. This has been somewhat disruptive of my life, but has given me time to finally create the 37 Millionth personal blog (number accurate to 0 decimal places.)