Link Me Up, Scotty - Shake That Thing Edition

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Who's tired of seeing the war criminal Andrew Jackson on our $20 bills? How about we get a WOMAN on that bill, someone worth emulating and admiring? Well, here's your chance. It's a grass roots movement to get Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with a woman. The first round of voting is going on now, and there are 15 worthy candidates on the roster. Go vote!
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People are complex. People who engage in self-examination, in introspection, who try to grow internally as a way of life tend to be even more complex. And that's a good, good thing.

H/T the Incomparable Anne™.
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This male tortoise chasing off the rude naturalist who interrupted his mating session is a complete (if slow) badass.
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Sexist prosthesis, and the women who want to do something about it.
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New research into suicide offers treatment and hope.The money quote: “That there is nothing like ‘mental illness.’ It’s not an abstract thing. It has a place of residence and it’s the brain, that suicide is a disease of the brain,”

While I'm glad our donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are helping research scientists make strides in identifying and treating this disease, I can't help but wonder if these tests and new medications might have helped Moe, had they been available to her caregivers. 

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Video of the Week: Watching this sign language interpreter do his work for what appears to be the Swedish version of "American Idol" makes me furiously happy on his behalf, and a little wistful, too. "Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy." - Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

H/T Kat


Link Me Up, Scotty - Short Edition

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
50 pictures from 1965, my birth year. Has it been so long?
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My friend David, a history professor, wrote an essay on Thomas Malthus and his analysis of the enlightenment. I'm pretty sure my friends are smarter than your friends. Except where they overlap.
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What the fuck is wrong with people? No, seriously - WHAT?
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So apparently Mitt Romney is going to take on Evander Holyfield in the boxing ring. For charity. I think this is a FABULOUS idea, and the greatest fund raising scheme of all time. After all, who WOULDN'T pay good money to see politicians (of any stripe) get punched by retired professional boxers?
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As a woman working in technology who is constantly being interrupted, talked over, and mansplained, it makes me snigger to see someone called out in public for this bias. The fact that it was Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and the person who called him out was his own diversity expert who manages Google's unconscious bias program makes it all the sweeter.

H/T Brother Seth

On my Son's Birthday

Sunday, March 15, 2015
Today is your birthday, my son. You're 24 years old - an adult, living your own life, finding your own way, growing into the man you want to be.

And it's also your sister's birthday today. Because of that fact, I have a tendency to grieve around this time of year, as I reflect on a child I love and lost, in a way that I'll never understand.

But you know what? It's your birthday. It's a day to celebrate your presence on this earth, to acknowledge that the world is a better place with you in it, a time to express my love and pride in your accomplishments.

You're a good egg. A fine son. A decent man. And your own person. All of which gives me a sense of pride for having played some small part in getting you to those points.

So while I'll always be sad for the loss of your sister, I'll always be happy to have you for my son. Happy birthday, John-John, my Smart Sailor, my comrade-in-arms, my son.

 And remember, it's the spirit of the thing that counts.


You've been mostly dead all day

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Surprise! While I feel I've been mostly dead all day, I'm not dead yet.

After receiving a note from a reader wanting to know if I was all right, I decided it was probably time to at least check in and let everyone know I'm still treading water up in here.

Things here are basically hair-on-fire in both my personal and professional life. Let's review, shall we?

We received a closing date on the Big Brown House of April 23th. This means, of course that we have to arrange movers for the Big Yellow House, movers for the pool table, and packing. And then there's the tasks associated with selling our current home. Painting, and deck sealant, and porch painting, and carpet replacement, and carpet cleaning, oh my.

And then there's the professional thing. It would be wildly inappropriate for me to air my company or my clients' dirty laundry here, but I will say this. My professional pressures are starting to keep me up at night and make me grind my teeth. This really isn't acceptable to me, as I believe I need to prioritize my health and well-being ahead of this sort of thing. I'm nearing the end of my patience with people who blatantly ignore their own rules when it's convenient and then expect me to work nights and weekends to accommodate that breakage. 'Nough said about that.

And my travel schedule! What a glorious thing. I'm being scheduled for one or two trips a week, every week. I finally put my foot down and declared one week a month to be a travel-free week so I could see that guy I live with and our hopelessly neurotic dog (who by all accounts misses me terribly  when I'm not home). So there's that.

All in all it's currently a very hectic life for me right now. I've decided the best way to manage the next couple months is to go heads down until IT'S OVER. Bear with me, Hot Chicks and Smart Men - eventually we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Basenji Blogging Monday - Better Living Through Chemicals Edition

Monday, February 9, 2015
I'm going to be traveling for the next two weeks on business, but I thought I'd give everyone an update on the fuzzy head case before I leave.

Miss Jackson Pi is slowly making progress in a "two steps forward, one step back" kind of way. At the end of December and the first part of January I was out of town, and the Smart Man tells me she started to act out in my absence. She's pretty much a Mama's girl, so this was not very surprising, but we don't want her to escalate every time I have to leave town.

However, now that I've been home for a few weeks, she's pretty darn relaxed again, to the point where it's no longer MANDATORY that she be in the same room with me when I'm home. Part of that is the recent installation of new doggie bed to the upstairs hall, where she can sleep at night while still being close to us. Of course now we can't get her out of it, so there's that.

Is it bedtime, yet? Of course it is.


Her doggie day care provider tells us that she's now a model doggie day care member who minds well, comes when called, and looks to the humans for direction. This is a far cry from the out-of-control mutt who first started going there last Spring.

The only recent challenge we had was around the holidays when we had a number of people visiting all on the same day, two of whom were men. Based on her reactions to female versus male strangers, it seems evident that she was abused at some point by a man. When the Incomparable Anne™ and her fabulous family came to visit. Jax was so afraid the Smart Man had to remove her from the situation and hold her until she stopped shaking. She eventually warmed up to the visitors (thanks to some well-timed snacks and the fact that Anne's family is comprised of dog people who are highly competent with rescues), but we're now managing through that. She appears to be more afraid if the men come into the home rather than meeting her on neutral ground. Poor Jackson Pi - she's a little broken inside, but we hope she'll continue to get better as she gets older and we continue to work with her.

Overall, I think the Prozac is giving her a better quality of life, as she's not spending so much time being anxious, and appears to be slowly calming down even in her most stressful situations (such as seeing other dogs while on-leash). So onward with the doggie therapy. She's a good, good girl - she just needs a little help.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Texas Smells of Hypocrisy and Death Edition

Thursday, February 5, 2015
State Representative Dan Riggs (R) of Texas has introduced a Bill that allows teachers to use deadly force. With firearms. In the classroom. Without repercussion. No, I'm not making that up. To my abject horror. H/T Nathan
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Ah, science, how I love the way you take unsubstantiated, anecdotal evidence and knock it on its ass. Political correctness isn't some mamby-pamby liberal conspiracy, or even just rules for being polite. It's a way for people to communicate in a non-threatening environment, a cornerstone of high functioning teams. Please note that the very best high performance teams are also the most diverse teams. Coincidence? I think not.
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A Christian whackadoodle at the Texas Muslim Capital Day disrupted activities by grabbing the microphone, shouting insulting and bigoted comments, and insisting that Texas will always follow Christ. Or something - I stopped listening after the "false prophet Mohammed" part. Seriously, people - the 1st Amendment, the selfsame Amendment that guarantees your right to be an ass in public, is very clear on this topic. America (and by definition, Texas) is not a "Christian Nation." In fact, it's strictly prohibited, for everyone's sake. Please return to high school civics for a refresher. H/T Chris
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I spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings. In person meetings. Phone meetings (also known as the dreaded "conference call"). Meetings to plan meetings. It's gotten so bad that I now block out time on my calendar each day with the word "engineering" in the subject line so I have time to do the work for which I'm actually paid. Which is why this article on the prevalence of badly run meetings hit a chord with me. I don't mind attending productive, well run meetings. I have a project manager on several of my accounts who has elevated running a meeting to an art form, and her calls usually get done early. Too bad the rest of my meeting organizers lack a similar skill.
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And another gem from the Texas Muslim Capital Day. State Representative Molly White (R) stated:
I did leave an Israeli flag on the reception desk in my office with instructions to staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws. We will see how long they stay in my office.
I assume, then, that every Christian who visits her office is also required to renounce Christian terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to the U.S.? Especially those right-wing, Christian insurrectionist asshats who advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government? No? Doesn't that make you a gigantic raging, bigoted hypocrite? Yes. Yes, it does. H/T Natalie
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And let's celebrate mid week with a video that made me happy, since I've been foaming at the mouth since Friday. Here's Bassm Tariq speaking about the beauty and diversity of Muslim life.


Vaccination and the Social Contract

Monday, February 2, 2015

There's been a flurry of Internet activity the last several weeks over the resurgence of Measles, herd immunity. and vaccinations. I've written on this subject more than once, and my feelings on this topic are pretty clear (and backed up by actual science, to boot).

But I feel the need to speak to this topic once again, inspired by a reprobate named Dr. Jack Wolfson, whom you should consider the new (now no longer a doctor) Andrew Wakefield, except with less morals.

After the outbreak of Measles at Disneyland, Dr. Wolfson felt the need to speak publicly about his opinion regarding vaccines and how they should be eliminated. At first I just considered his commentary to be the normal bleating of anti-vaxxers everywhere, but I was wrong.

In my opinion, Dr. Jack Wilson is a sociopath, with all that implies.

When contacted by CNN about the need to vaccinate healthy children in order to provide herd immunity to children who cannot be vaccinated due to health concerns, he responded:
"It's not my responsibility to inject my child with chemicals in order for [a child like Maggie] to be supposedly healthy," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's very likely that her leukemia is from vaccinations in the first place." 

"I'm not going to sacrifice the well-being of my child. My child is pure," he added. "It's not my responsibility to be protecting their child." 

CNN asked Wolfson if he could live with himself if his unvaccinated child got another child gravely ill. 

"I could live with myself easily," he said. "It's an unfortunate thing that people die, but people die. I'm not going to put my child at risk to save another child." 
Wow. Just.....wow.

Who thinks like this? My friend BrainDoc explains the real risk associated with vaccinating otherwise healthy children:
[Physicians] weigh benefit vs. risk when making a decision how to treat a patient, and vaccines are no different. Vaccines are comprised of chemicals, and, yes, they carry risk. They are injected into the body, so adverse events (side effects) may occur. These generally range from fairly common but mild (low-grade fever, muscle soreness) to really rare and can be severe (e.g., encephalitis, anaphylaxis, development of the disease the vaccine is intended to prevent). These are measured in events per 1,000,000 or million doses (e.g., anaphylaxis occurs in measles at a rate of 3.5 to 10 per million doses).
So basically, Dr. Wolfson is unwilling to have his children take a .0000035% chance of a severe reaction in order to protect the lives of children whose mortality rate would be quite high if they contracted Measles.

Again - who thinks like this? Vaccination for herd immunity is an aspect of the social contract, as well as a public health issue. The social contract demands that members of society give up some small amount of self-determination for the common good. In some cases, that means paying taxes so you can enjoy the services of the fire department and police. In other cases, it means you can't steal other people's shit. And in this case, it means you don't get to wantonly put other people's children in danger because doing so "isn't my responsibility."

It IS your responsibility, you sociopathic. self-important, non-critical thinking mother-fucker. You live in our society, you take advantage of the benefits of doing so - the reciprocal aspect of that is you need to get your children vaccinated, not only for their benefit, but for all our benefit.

Unless, of course, the social contract doesn't apply to you, Dr. Wolfson. If that's the case, I fully support your decision and will immediately notify public institutions that you no longer need their services. No more roads, police, firefighters, public schools, clean water, safe food and drugs for YOU.

After all, it's a small price to pay to keep your kids "pure," right?