Polygamy - Why the Shrieking?

Monday, December 31, 2007
I don't understand why people get so wrapped around the axle with regards to plural marriage, or with polygamy in general.

To caveat, I'm not talking about those freeze-dried-whack-a-loons who force underage girls into marriage with dirty old men, like that whack-job Warren Jeffs. He's a disgrace, and I have serious concerns about Colorado City, Arizona, where his community lives.

What I don't understand is why people get up in arms about communities like Centennial Park, Arizona, where many plural families make their homes. These are not rabid fanatics, frothing at the mouth and forcing their children into unwanted, illegal sexual relationships. For the most part, these families have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as any family has - they just choose to compose their families in a manner out of the mainstream. Sort of like...oh, I don't know...gay couples?

Seriously, these folks aren't hurting anyone, and there's no indication that children raised in these loving environments are damaged in any way, just as there's no indication children raised by loving gay couples are damaged. Why do people get so shrieky about it? I understand the historical reasons for outlawing polygamy, but I don't see the issue with just decriminalizing it. That's what many advocacy groups are asking for. I mean, really, why should consenting adults be considered guilty of a felony for choosing to live in a family unit that includes more than two adults? Yes, yes, I know that critics of plural marriage complain (loudly) that the FLDS church and plural marriage places men in a position of authority of women, and thus values men more than women. I find these arguments pretty specious - the main LDS church also values men more than women, but they don't have to justify their private lives to journalists and lawmakers. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, so to speak. These women are adults. Like all adults, they should be permitted to make their own decisions, whether their choices are the ones I would make or not. I don't find subjugating myself to a man because it's "God's Will" any more appealing than taking out my own eye with a fork, but it's not my decision to make for other people. And what about people who choose polygamy for reasons other than religious ones?

If avoiding hypocrisy is a goal, then I think allowing polygamous families to live openly and enjoy rights and privileges associated with traditional marriage is the least we can do, if we allow other non-traditional families the same rights. What's the difference between supporting gay equality and supporting polygamous equality? None. So stop shrieking.

A Case for Immigration - Sossina Haile

Sunday, December 30, 2007

As you know, my congressman is that asshat Tom Tancredo. Thankfully, he's decided he will not seek reelection, and has dropped out of the Presidential race, as well. Maybe in 2008 I won't get a dumbass.

Tancredo is, among other things, a bit shrill when it comes to issues of immigration. Not that I'm pro-illegal immigration. I'm not. I just think the issue, and the consequences of whatever action we take, is a lot more complex than the sound-bite people would have us believe. If we suddenly deport all of the illegal aliens, our world is not going to suddenly be puppies and roses, nor will the price of an orange suddenly skyrocket to $5.00 followed by economic collapse. If we fling open our borders, we are not going to become a larger model of Mexico, nor are we going to achieve some sort of egalitarian utopia. I don't think the expert opinion in Mexico that illegal immigration is a "labor phenomenon" rather than a "crime" is accurate - the root cause may be labor related, but it's still a crime. But the individuals who try to come here illegally are not (generally) axe murderers or pedophiles - they're people who are trying to make a better life for their families. It's complex. That's why we pay those policy wonks and elected morons in Washington the big bucks - to figure it out. (Hint: The US's consumer economy and the enormous (and growing) trade deficit with China might have something to do with it.)

In any case, I, too, have been a bit shrill lately, and so I'm going to focus today on an immigration success story. I'm not suggesting that illegal immigration is not a policy issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later. I'm saying that legal immigration is a cornerstone of the American experience, and our country is a better place for the assimilation of peoples from around the world.

Which brings me to Dr. Sossina Haile.

Dr. Haile is a professor of Material Science and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. She and her team invented the "superprotonic" solid acid fuel cell. Like all fuel cells, they produce energy through chemical reactions and their chief emission is pure water. The significance of Dr. Haile's work is that her cells are more durable, designed to work more cheaply, and are designed to work at mid range temperatures. Dr. Haile's cells fill an important need, although additional design and research are needed to determine their commercial viability. Dr. Haile's attitude about her work is, "There's nothing better than being able to combine an intellectually exciting topic with the knowledge that it will be beneficial. To me, that's just glory."

Dr. Haile is also a legal immigrant.

She and her birth family left Ethiopia in the mid 1970's after the coup, and settled in Minnesota. Dr. Haile's degrees are from MIT and the University of California, Berkley.

Quite a string of accomplishments for anyone to have. But Dr. Haile isn't just anyone - she's a foreign born woman of color, living here in the U.S. and trying to make the world a better place. I don't know if Dr. Haile is a citizen of our great country, but I think she's a great American. Glory, indeed.

Conversations with Karma - Paris Hilton

Saturday, December 29, 2007
*ring, ring*

Paris Hilton: Hello?

Karma: Hello, Paris. This is Karma.

PH: Karma? Karma who? How did you get this number?

K: Karma. The eastern idea that you will receive your punishment or reward for your deeds. You know...what comes around goes around, people get what they deserve? Karma. And I have everyone's number.

PH: That's hot.

K: Um...okay. Listen, I'm calling to let you know that your granddad Barron has decided to give 97% of the family fortune to charity.

PH: What?!

K: Yeah. He's decided to donate $2.231 billion to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to fund clean water in Africa, education for blind children, and housing for the mentally ill.

PH: But, but...what will I live on?

K: Well, that still leaves $69 million of his personal wealth. Surely you and the rest of the family can find a way to live on $69 million.

PH: What do you mean, the rest of the family? We're talking about me. And why do those Africans and blind children need so much? Don't they know how much a Louis Vuitton bag costs?

K: They probably don't. I think they're more interested in having enough to eat and avoiding amoebic dysentery. I thought you had earned over $15 million in your own right in the last few years. Surely you can live off of that. Or you could, you know, get a job.

PH: This is no time for jokes!

K: I'm not really joking. Millions of people do it, you know.

PH: I don't have time for a job. I have to call my publicist. And my lawyer. And my astrologer.

K: Yeah. Good luck with that.

*click*

What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? - NAMBLA Edition

Friday, December 28, 2007
For those of you who don't watch Law and Order: SVU or The Daily Show, NAMBLA is the North American Man/Boy Love Association. I can hear you now - "Get out! Does that mean what I think it means?" Why yes, it does.

This is from the
Wikipedia article, because I can't bring myself to link the NAMBLA website:

"The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) is a New York City and San Francisco based unincorporated organization in the United States that advocates the legalization of sexual relations between adult males and under-age boys. It has resolved to 'end the oppression of men and boys who have freely chosen mutually consenting relationships."

We will now pause so the Hot Chicks and Smart Men can lose their last meal.

Seriously? Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with these people?

Don't get me wrong - I have no interest in the sex lives of mutually consenting adults. Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, one-on-one, two-on-one, two-on-two, S&M, whatever gets you going - knock yourself out. Other people's sex lives reside in the "Who Cares" file. Because they're adults, and they have the right to do what they want, as long as they don't hurt anyone else.

These people, though. This is just so fucked up on so many levels - I don't even know where to begin.

How about the idea that a pre-pubescent child can reasonably be expected to engage in a "mutual consenting" sexual relationship? Or how about the idea that these poor, misunderstood darlings are "oppressed" because of their so-called sexual preference? (Hint: Homosexuality and Pedophilia are NOT the same thing.) Or my personal favorite - the idea that these fucktards call for "the adoption of laws that both protect children from unwanted sexual experiences and at the same time leave them free to determine the content of their own sexual experiences." Because that's what pedophiles really want - to protect children from unwanted sexual experiences. They also claim they don't "provide encouragement, referrals or assistance for people seeking sexual contacts" and that they do not "engage in any activities that violate the law [or] advocate that anyone else should." Yeah, I'm sure that's true. Because, really, upholding sexual predation laws is something the North American Man/Boy Love Association really stands for. They also "work toward making a better tomorrow by educating the public about the benefits of early anal penetration for young developing boys.”

We will now pause so the Hot Chicks and Smart Men can engage in the dry heaves.

Thankfully, law enforcement is not amused. The FBI
infiltrated NAMBLA, which resulted in the arrests of three men who were attempting to travel internationally for the purposes of illicit sex. The agent's name was Robert Hamer, and he's my new hero. Other members of NAMBLA have been convicted of various crimes, but the organization itself has never been convicted, mostly because they're defended by the ACLU. We wouldn't want to limit their right to free expression, after all. Especially since they're so oppressed, the freaks.

You know, I'm a big fan of the Bill of Rights. I was a defender of the Constitution for many years. I've always thought everyone should have their free speech protected under the 1st Amendment. Yay, Free Speech! That's me. But these sick bastards give me pause. Seriously, who thinks this is acceptable, even under the provisions of the 1st Amendment? Yes, yes, the slippery slope and all that. I understand intellectually.

In this case, I'm finding that I don't really give a shit about what the fuck is wrong with these people. I simply cannot think of a karmic punishment that fits the crime. So my thought is that whatever is wrong with them, a bullet between the eyes will pretty much take care of it. Not that I'm advocating shooting them in the head, or anything. Heavens, no. I'm simply exercising my 1st Amendment rights. Yeah, that's it.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 5



Is Chuck Norris' unauthorized autobiography fact or fiction? Will the revelations contained within negatively affect his endorsement of Mike Huckabee? Who Cares!

I'm Keeping my Eye on This One...

Thursday, December 27, 2007
I've always been a fan of Senator James Webb. Don't get me wrong - he and I come down on different sides of the fence on any number of issues, and I'll never be described as his Bug-Eating Bitch-Girl. But he has a quality I find worth admiring. He appears to be a person of principle.

I say "appears to be" because I don't know the man personally. It's tough to make those kinds of judgement calls without any direct experience - look at John McCain. But consider:

  • U.S. Naval Academy Graduate
  • Awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts during service in Vietnam.
  • Served as President Reagan's Secretary of the Navy in the 1980's, and resigned on a matter of principle.
  • Wrote detailed objections to our current strategy in the Middle East, including incredibly accurate predictions as to the eventual outcome.
  • Currently serving as the junior senator from Virginia, where he is apparently attempting to compensate members of the Armed Forces appropriately for their incredible sacrifices during our current military engagement in the Middle East. He's introduced legislation to improve educational benefits and protect the bonuses earned by wounded service members. That's considerably more than my asshat senator appears to be doing.

And he also writes really good books.

Senator Webb hasn't been in the Senate long enough to determine what his lasting legacy will be, although in general I approve of his voting record. He's currently involved in keeping the Senate session open to prevent the President from making recess appointments.

He's definitely someone to keep an eye on. I read today that the rumor mill has him on the Democratic short list for VP. I think I'd prefer to have him on the short list for the big chair, but at this point I'll take what I can get.

Back to Work

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
My MIL goes home this morning, and I was unable to take today off because there were too many engineers on vacation today. So my Smart Man will take her to the airport and then goof off the rest of the day. He doesn't have to work today. Humph.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. We exchanged gifts with my MIL on Christmas Eve, so the only thing we had to do yesterday is make the stuffing and the sweet potato casserole before we went to my aunt and uncle's house for the holiday meal. Unfortunately, my Hot Mom and my Hot Sister and their Smart Men got snowed out, and were unable to make it for the dinner.

We'll be opening the rest of the gifts with my Hot Mom and Smart Boy on New Year's Eve, since the boy spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his father.

One of the desserts we made for the gathering is "Pumpkin Rolls." They turned out so well, I decided to share the recipe. They're most delicious. Enjoy!

PUMPKIN ROLLS

Pre-heat oven to 375

FILLING:
(Make first and set aside)
2 cups powered sugar
2- 8oz. packages of cream cheese
8 Tbl. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla


CAKE:
9 eggs – beat for 5 minutes
3 cups of sugar – mix with eggs
1- 16oz. can of pumpkin
3 Tbl. – Lemon juice
2 ¼ cups Flour
3 tsp. Baking soda
6 tsp. Cinnamon
3 tsp. Ginger
1½ tsp. Salt

Mix beaten eggs, sugar, pumpkin and lemon juice, then add dry ingredients.

Spread 1/3 of the batter in a well greased jelly roll pan – 15x10x1

Bake 15 minutes @ 375 degrees

Gently -turn on damp towel and roll jelly roll style. Let stand for 5-10 minutes in refrigerator. Unroll when cool and spread with filling. Re-roll.

Makes 3 pumpkin rolls. Freezes very well.

Santa Is A Smart Man

Tuesday, December 25, 2007





Which is why we love him so, oh yes. Merry Christmas, friends.

'Tis the Season...

Monday, December 24, 2007
The Salvation Army apparently does good work. I can't confirm this, of course, because as a religious organization, they're exempt from filing a federal form 990, but according to their annual report, 17% of their annual expenditures go towards providing services. That's 2% more than my own self-imposed limit for the charities I contribute to, but not too bad.

They also have an institutional policy of discrimination against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Because the Salvation Army's records are not subject to public review, it's impossible to tell if they are actively discriminating against the GLBT only in employment benefits or opportunities, or if the discrimination also bleeds over into services. I won't conjecture about that, as I have no proof either way. But I'm sure you can guess my private opinion, seeing as how I'm a liberal pinko, or whatever the current epithet is.

The Salvation Army is not a secular organization. They have a right to run their faith-based charity in any manner they see fit. If discriminating against them there gayz makes them feel they're more closely carrying out the mission of Jesus, then good luck with that.

I have a right to donate my charity dollars to any organization I feel is fit to spend it. There are thousands of community outreach programs that compete for my money, including the Good Will, The Women's Bean Project, Head Start, and countless others. Many of them manage to keep their expenses below 15%, and many more don't feel the need to institute discriminatory policies. Since the Salvation Army can't keep their expenses and their intolerance down, then they won't be getting any of my money.

Jam-a-Palooza

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Today I'll be putting up a batch of apple butter. My apple butter is the shit.

This is the last batch of jam for the holiday season. I'll bring the "fruits" of my labor to Christmas dinner, and my family members can pick and choose what they want. The rest will go to the assisted living facility where my Gram lives in Northeastern Colorado. The residents there enjoy the home-made stuff, but can't make it for themselves anymore.

This season's final tally is 6 dozen 8 oz jars, including apple butter, peach, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, cranberry walnut, cherry and cherry pineapple. As a general rule, I don't like anything but the apple butter, but the rest of the family likes the variety.

I'll probably take a break from jamming for the next month or two. I'm a little sick of it at the moment.

Holiday Visitors

Saturday, December 22, 2007
My Mother-in-Law flew in last night from Ohio to spend the holiday with us. Unlike a lot of folks, I actually enjoy my MIL. She's a decent woman who raised two boys to be decent men. And considering how stubborn my Smart Man and his Smart Brother are, that was no easy feat. She has a good sense of humor, and is a reasonably independent human. She also possesses that pearl of great price - she's quite adept at minding her own business, and allowing us to mind ours.

So I'll be spending less time on the computer over the next few days, since I want to visit. Feel free to use this space to bitch about your own in-laws, though.


I'll be here gloating.

Insomnia, the Blogger's Friend

Friday, December 21, 2007
I'm prone to insomnia. It started in 2001, when I quit smoking, and while it was chronic for the first year, it's now considered "transient" because it comes and goes.

Insomnia is either the inability to fall asleep or the inability to stay asleep. For the most part, I suffer from the second type. I'll wake up, usually between 1:00 a.m. and 2:30 a.m., and lay there for anywhere between 1 and 3 hours before falling back asleep. It doesn't affect my daily life, unless it happens 4 or 5 days in a row - then I start getting cranky during the day.

Mostly it's just really boring. Because my Smart Man doesn't have insomnia, I try not to get too restless, and I've found that getting up and reading usually prolongs the process. So I just lay there and let my mind wander.

However, I've found that my insomnia now has a new use. While I'm laying there, not sleeping, I've been composing blog entries in my mind, or coming up with new topics to discuss. The new What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? feature is a result of a bad night, as well as several other ideas. Usually if I can work an idea out in my mind, I can fall asleep again in fairly short order.

I'm not sure if this new strategy will prolong my sleeplessness or shorten it, but at least I have something to show for it now. I'm such an optimist.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 4


Is Jamie Lynn Spear's pregnancy destined to doom her entire family to White Trash status? Who Cares!

Thanks to Tania, who suggested this week's cover.

Colorado License Plates

Thursday, December 20, 2007



I have to register the Jeep today, and I'm trying to decide which of these two plates I prefer. They cost the same. Thoughts?

No Means No

No means no. And it doesn't apply just to sexual encounters, either.

When people won't take "no" for an answer, they're trying to control you. Think about it. Any time you say "no" and the person asking the question doesn't accept that as your final answer, what are they trying to do? They're trying to control your behavior by convincing you that your answer should really be "yes." The "no" answer may be what's best for you, but in many cases, that fact doesn't appear to concern the asker.

Consider these examples:
  • Your child wants to go to a risky party. You say "no," and they proceed to try and convince you letting them go is the right thing to do. Letting them go is certainly not in your best interest, if your best interest is being a concerned and disciplined parent.
  • Your boss wants you to take on an additional project because you're her best worker and she knows if she gives it to you it will get done right with very little supervision on her part. She has no intention of reducing your other tasks to allow you additional time to complete this project. You say "no," and she tries to convince you to change your mind. Is it in your best interest to change your mind and give up your evenings and weekends to do the project? Probably not, but you can bet it's in hers.
  • An acquaintance needs a favor that will take you some time to complete. You really don't consider the person a friend, and don't feel obligated to give up the time to do the favor. He tries to convince you to do the favor by implying you're a bad friend/person if you stick to your "no."

This relates to the guilt issue, but it really has more to do with boundaries and respect. Where do I draw the line between what's best for me, and my obligations to others?

Like many women, I sometimes have trouble saying "no" and meaning it in terms of setting boundaries. I don't want to be a bad friend, a bad colleague, a bad human. So I'll say "yes" in order to meet others' expectations of me, when the best choice for me is a resounding "no!" So I've tried to come up with some general rules, in order to keep my boundaries intact:

  • If someone asks me to do a work-related task, I ask myself, "Is this normally something I should do in my job title? Is this someone else's job, and if so, why aren't they doing it? Is the person asking me to perform the task trying to get out of doing it themselves (trying to make their lives easier at the expense of mine)? Are they genuinely asking for help, or are they treating me like their bug-eating bitch-girl? What's the best course of action for the company?" The answers to these questions will help me to determine if I say "yes" or "no." I find the older I get, the more I say "no," mostly because other people's helplessness just gets on my damn nerves.
  • If a family member asks me for something, my answer depends on a number of things, such as my guilt factor, if the person in question is a self-righteous dick, if the person bothers to acknowledge my existence the rest of the time, and how I feel about them. Like many large families, I find that some of my relatives can write their own ticket with me just because I love them that much, and others can kiss my butt at the best of times. Most fall somewhere in between.
  • If it's a friend - a real friend, not some person I happen to be friendly with - then the answer's almost always "yes." And I'm okay with that. Because the people I consider to be my real friends are not the kind of people who take advantage of me, by definition. Casual friends fall under the same criteria as family.

The idea that someones not taking "no" for an answer means they're trying to control me is something I have to keep in the front of my mind. My natural inclination is to help whenever I can, so in the past I've managed to overextend myself on a fairly regular basis. That's not good for me. It also annoys my Smart Man, because when I'm overextended I go from being a Hot Chick to a Bitchy Chick. And no one wants that.

Dickheads of the Year

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
My Hot Mom reads The Rolling Stone, and she pointed me in the direction of Bill Maher's Dickheads of the Year Awards. He's a Smart Man.

Wanted: Bad-Ass Professors

I'm a professional student. I currently attend the University of Denver, but I've been going to college on and off for 20 years. I'll go for awhile, then take a break for several years, then find another school and go for awhile, repeat.

One thing that doesn't change, regardless of where I go, is my desire to have professors who challenge me and give me the best learning experience available. I'm really not attending classes to get a degree, per se - I attend because I love to learn, and I thoroughly enjoy the college experience. Nothing pisses me off more than paying my tuition, then having a professor who simply "goes through the motions," not expending the energy required to demand my best work and provide a quality learning experience. This laziness manifests itself in a number of ways, including inflated grades, unresponsiveness, etc.

I'm an on-line student, so much of my learning experience is conducted on the eCollege Bulletin Board. I'm comfortable with this medium, and usually find the experience rewarding and interactive. Unless, of course, I'm stuck with a lazy professor.

The problem with a lazy professor in an on-line learning experience is that if they fail to moderate the board, then the freeze-dried whack-a-loons come out of the wood-work and take over the discussion. A case in point was a class I took entitled "ethical decision making." The material in this class was fabulous, addressing ethics on a scholarly level, and providing logical, defensible processes that could be used anywhere. However, one of my class-mates, whom I'll call "The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job," decided that this was the perfect opportunity to proselytize on his belief system. On almost every topic, The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job made comments on the board about how ethical decision making should be "guided by God," and that he wouldn't presume to question "the Almighty's word" on how things "really are." (Do you smell a Young Earth Creationist? I did.)

Well. As we all know, my issues with specific people of faith are very specific, and usually involve their inability to grasp the concept of tolerance. In this case, The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job not only had no concept of tolerance, but also completely missed the idea that there's a time and a place for everything, and the virtual classroom of a secular university was an inappropriate place to indulge in logic-defying arguments surrounding faith. If I'd wanted that, I would of attended Liberty University, not the most prestigious private university in Colorado.

You would think that the professor would of put the kibosh on The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job, but she didn't. Responding to this freak became my job, mostly because I couldn't let his craziness stand without comment. So I broke out my logical fallacies text, and proceeded to rip him to shreds. My other classmates would send me private notes of encouragement when this would happen, but (of course), The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job never did get the point.

While spanking this idiot provided its own pleasures, it pissed me off that the Professor would let him take him over the discussion in that way. Of course, it's possible that she did try to rein him in, and was unsuccessful. He was an extremely obtuse individual, so it wouldn't surprise me if that was true.

Which brings me to Professor Steve Dutch. Professor Dutch teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in the department of Natural and Applied Sciences. While I have never taken a class from him, I was directed to his Top Ten No Sympathy Lines, and I've decided that I really, really want to take his class. Any professor who would give their students this dose of reality, with no apologies, is a professor who would demand my best work, and insist that I learn the material to the best of my ability. And I'll also bet that he would of spanked The Bible-Thumping Whack-Job thoroughly. Not because of his beliefs (I know nothing about Professor Dutch's personal beliefs, nor do I want to), but because his logic and arguments were atrocious, and learning at the college level should also be about learning to think.

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I think I'm probably late to this party, but I recently ordered a copy of Wil Wheaton's The Happiest Days of Our Lives as a result of John Scalzi's entry over at the Whatever.

Well, it arrived yesterday, and against my better judgement, I put down the book I was reading (Darwin's Children, by Greg Bear), and decided to read "just a few" of the essays in the new book.

God, what a mistake. But in a good way.

I had a terrible time putting it down, and now I must get on Amazon to order his other two works. Which puts a complete kibosh on my book-buying moratorium.*

I was never a big fan of the Wesley Crusher character, although I loved TNG. It doesn't matter, though, because it turns out Wil can write, and his best medium appears to be the essay. His stories were touching, funny, and some of his descriptions about his relationships with his step-sons made my heart ache with sadness and joy. Every stepchild should have a stepparent as committed as Wil Wheaton. This book is utterly, completely charming, and I'm beginning to think Wil is, too.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go order I'm Just a Geek and Dancing Barefoot. Because clearly I don't have enough to read.


*I'm supposed to be getting through my "to read" pile, which is now three shelves long, before buying any more books. Yeah, right.

Conjunction Junction

Jeez, FINALLY. Here's Conjunction Junction, a shot of Groovy Goodness for the Good of your Soul.

What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? - Dogfighting Edition

Monday, December 17, 2007
Editorial Note: I have modified this post to reflect a new title. Instead of this feature being titled the Hot Chick Walk of Shame, it will now be called What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? Thanks to Jim Wright for the inadvertant suggestion.

**************************

Today I'm introducing a new feature on my blog, called the What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? I will use the forum to bring up activities or people I think deserve my highest level of contempt.

Today's winner is the so-called "sport" of dog-fighting. The Humane Society has additional information on this activity here.

I just can't say enough rotten things about these people. I mean, seriously, how can someone take pleasure in abusing a dog to the point where they become viscous? For the most part, dogs are loyal and critically dependant on their owners' approval and attention. What kind of sadistic bastard thinks it's fun to beat that out of them and then watch them try to kill each other?

Learning about this literally makes me sick to my stomach. All I can think about is some psychopath beating my poor Boogie-Dog until he's so viscous he has to be put to sleep.

I think an appropriate punishment for such miscreants is a stint as the "bad guy" in a guard dog/canine unit training school. You know what I'm talking about - the guy who gets attacked by the dogs as they commit some unlawful act.

Oh, and that protective gear normal, contributing members of society get to wear while the dogs try to take their arms off? They won't have access to that. They get to do this job naked. And they don't get the option to quit. Because my friend Karma demands it, and I don't see why they should get more consideration than the dogs they've abused. Bastards.

What the Fuck is Wrong With These People?

Groovy Goodness Deprivation

Sunday, December 16, 2007
I was making Cranberry-Walnut jam this morning, and for some reason my mind wandered to School House Rock.

I always loved School House Rock. I remember dancing around the house as a child, jamming out to Verb: That's What's Happening and Interjections.

My favorite by far, though, was always Conjunction Junction. I know everyone else seems to prefer I'm Just a Bill, but I'll stick with Conjunction Junction. The R&B rhythms were cool. I guess you could say Conjunction Junction got me started as a fan of R&B.

YouTube appears to be down this morning, and my iTunes version of the video won't load, so I guess we'll be deprived of the Conjunction Junction groovy goodness. If YouTube comes back up, I'll see what I can do.

Guilt

Saturday, December 15, 2007
Guilt runs in my family. While we're not the virtuosos Jewish families are reputed to be, we still do a good job in making each other feel guilty about pretty much everything. We have it down to such a fine art, we make ourselves feel guilty without anyone saying a single thing.

I hate that.

Guilt is such an unproductive emotion. It typically just makes you feel like shit without changing your behavior in any meaningful way. This is differentiated by shame, which is a powerful motivator for change. If you do something that makes you feel genuine shame, there's a better chance that the feeling will motivate you to not engage in that behavior again, unless you have some sort of self-destructive aspect to your personality.

My latest guilt trip pertains to Christmas. In years past, I would make the effort to send out Christmas cards to family and friends, and prepare gift baskets for the folks that were local, containing home-made jams, breads, ornaments, and candles. This year, I decided not to. I'm still making jam, but not the baskets, and I didn't send out any cards. Simply because I didn't feel like it.

That should be a good enough reason - that I didn't feel like doing it. And yet, every time I open a Christmas card from a friend or family member, I feel guilty that I didn't send out cards. As Christmas day approaches, I feel guilty that I'll only have a jam assortment for my family members rather than my traditional baskets.

Why? There's no reason for me to feel guilty. I have no obligation to send cards, or give away baskets. My family understands that I'm prone to depression around the holidays, and while I've done better with it in the last five years or so, this year is a bit tougher, for a variety of reasons. No one's upset about my choice but me. I'm making an effort to not be so tough on myself, but my personality type really isn't conducive to the idea of "good enough."

Guilt sucks.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3

Friday, December 14, 2007

What really happened to Stacy Peterson? Did she or Drew fire the gun when police were called several months ago? Who Cares!

A Nice Surprise

Isn't it nice when people surprise you with a completely unnecessary act of kindness?

In my work as a Systems Engineer, I support a very large pre-sales community. Now sales people aren't very well known for their consideration of others (at least in telecommunications). I'm typically treated like a serf, there to provide instant service to whichever of the hundreds of sales people I support, and I want that deliverable right this second, thank you very much. You can imagine how pleased I am with this behavior.

Sometimes it's the account team, sometimes it's the account. When I was a field SE, I had one particular account (let's call them The Asstard Company to ensure I don't get in trouble) that just drove me crazy. They were rude, they were demanding, they treated their vendors like their beck-and-call girls. And they very seldom spent a significant amount of money with us on new sales.

Once I moved from the field to an inside support position, I no longer had to deal directly with The Asstard Company, but because I was so familiar with them, I did continue to receive requests for engineering support. In the last six months, I have done an enormous amount of work for this account, which has resulted in a total revenue stream of $0.00. This is because while making their vendor dancing monkeys jump through flaming hoops is just so much fun, it doesn't mean they'll actually buy anything, oh, no.

So a week or so ago, I heard from the account team. The customer wanted another complete rework of a proposal that's been on the table for at least 4 years, because the sales person was sure that this time they were going to buy. Sales people...is there anyone more crazily optimistic with no supporting evidence?

While I wasn't happy about the idea, I've still spent the last week working the designs, and ensuring their accuracy.

So what should appear on my doorstep on Wednesday? A Godiva gift basket, complete with chocolate raspberries, milk chocolates, and truffles, sent by the account team to thank me for my efforts. Completely unexpected, completely unnecessary, and it completely made my day.

Thanks, guys.

Bond - Shine

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm going to be busy this morning, so here's a Bond video to enjoy. I love these gals. I wish they'd release a new CD

My Dog is an Ass

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
As noted in A Very Geeky Christmas Tree, several years ago we bought a very large, pre-lighted tree for our living room. As you can imagine, it was quite expensive.

For whatever reason, our dog Boogie the Giant Schnauzer has a terrible time laying off the lights. Every couple years, he chews up the lights on a different branch and my Smart Man ends up having to rewire the branch. He doesn't chew on anything else that doesn't belong to him, and hasn't since he reached adulthood. Just the tree.

Today I went upstairs to stir the chili, and found the detritus of a light string on the floor next to the tree, and several branches were dark. Next to the carnage was Boogie's unchewed rawhide bone. Needless to say, I was not pleased.

My dog is an ass. A 95 lb ass.

Defining "Hot"

I thought it was time to define what makes a chick Hot. Now I understand that there are plenty of guys and girls out there who may think that the arm candy kind of Hot is sufficient for their needs. If that's the case with you, then good luck and Godspeed, but I wouldn't define you as a Smart Man or Woman. The subject of the discussion isn't someone who would be defined as Coyote Stupid, but someone you would consider Hot year after year, decade after decade.

For me, it's all about what lies between the ears. My Man must be Smart, funny, decent and a person of integrity. Everything else is negotiable.

This is true for me because these qualities are timeless, and ageless. The whole beauty thing - not so much. I think my Smart Man is Hot no matter what he weighs, whether or not his beard is getting grey, or whether or not he loses his hair. He'll still make me laugh and think, and I'll still admire his decency and integrity. Now that's Hot.

What makes your Man or Woman Hot?

Matt Jarpe is a Smart Man

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

And not just because he sends me free stuff. Although that certainly helps.

Matt's book, Radio Freefall, is a fun read, and I defy anyone to read it and not be utterly charmed by Molly. I preordered it on Amazon, and enjoyed the heck out of it.

Matt's blog, Feedback, is intelligently written on a wide variety of subjects. I finally just subscribed via e:mail, so even though his site doesn't get "hit" by me very often, I do read every entry, and they're usually thought-provoking, funny, or both. Worth your time.

He also has a Ph.D in Biochemistry, which he uses to research new medicines. I told you he was a Smart Man. Sorry, ladies - he's already found his Hot Chick, and they have a Smart Boy of their own.

So Matt originally sent me this autographed T-Shirt for visiting Feedback. He then sent me the autographed book and CD because, well, I asked him to. In a rather juvenile way, to be sure, but he humored me.

Now I have the entire collector's set! I can't wait for the Aqualung Action Figure with Guitar Grip Fingers to come out.

In an effort to "pay it forward," I will mail my original hardbound copy of Radio Freefall to whomever comments on this thread first and asks for it. The only condition is that you have to be either attending Denvention III in 2008, or eligible to vote for the Hugo's. I'll be there (hometown Worldcon with Lois McMaster Bujold - who could resist?), and I'll buy the first round.

I Am Not My Past

Monday, December 10, 2007
Yesterday over at Beastliness Shawn made a comment about how the reason he was a stand-up guy was because his parents had raised him that way.

I don't want to contradict my fellow Senior Chief, but it's my opinion that people are responsible for their own actions once they become adults. Now I'll certainly concede it's easier to be a decent human being if you were raised by decent parents, but being one is still the responsibility of the individual.

The reason I feel this way is because of an exercise I learned in an ethical decision making class. The exercise goes like this:

Shawn (sorry, dude - you brought it up, so you're my hypothetical case study) has an opportunity to take two paths. The behavioral choice in path A would make Shawn a dick. The behavioral choice in path B would make Shawn a stand-up guy.

If Shawn chooses path A, is he a dick? Or is his behavior excused because his parents didn't know how to raise him?

If Shawn chooses path B, is he a stand-up guy? Or is his behavior credited to his parents because they knew how to raise him?

My opinion is that Shawn, standing on his own, is either a dick or a stand-up guy. I'm not a big fan of the double standard, and his childhood experiences are certainly mitigating factors in his decision making process, but for good or ill his decision making is his own, and can't be excused or credited based on his past.

This can be expressed a number of ways - the idea that "I am not my past," or "My childhood may have been awful, but it's over." It's certainly not fair that some people have to work their whole lives to overcome the bad experiences of their past, but guess what? Life's not fair for anyone. Some people just have to work harder, and some people will get horrible diseases, and some people will be the victims of random crime or a natural disaster. We all have our crosses to bear, and overcoming the obstacles in our lives is part of the joy and the burden of the human condition.

Which brings me back to Shawn. Shawn's parents get credit for being good parents. And while I'm glad Shawn had decent parents who taught him to be a decent human, the fact that he's a stand-up guy is to his credit, not theirs. I refuse to excuse a child molester on the grounds that he was molested by his parents, so I also refuse to give credit to parents when their adult children choose to act appropriately.

So Shawn? Thanks for being a stand-up guy.

Francesca the Great Huntress

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I'm going to be a busy human today, so I will leave you with a picture of a cat. Not my cat - oh, no - but a kitty guest blogger named "Francesca the Great Huntress." She lives in the greater San Diego area, and homage is accepted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 12:00 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. Bring kitty treats, or there will be repercussions. Oh, yes.


A Very Geeky Christmas Tree

Saturday, December 8, 2007

This is our family Christmas Tree. It's a big one, because we put it in the living room, where the vaulted ceilings made the older 6 foot tree look like a toy.
It's hard to tell, but if you look very closely, you will see that this tree has all of the Star Trek ship Hallmark Ornaments. That's right - all of them, including the 1991 Enterprise. I never wanted the crew ornaments - they just weren't as cool to me.


When you plug the tree in, it sounds like some wacky version of Ten Forward.
These ornaments started coming out the year my twins were born, I started collecting them almost immediately. Some I had to buy through other collectors, since I was out of the country some years, but now that I'm stable, I buy them directly from Hallmark.
So eat your heart out, fellow Star Trek geeks! They're mine, all mine! Bwahahahaha!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - This Christmas Day

Friday, December 7, 2007

We go to see these guys every year, and their Denver show was last night. A good show, as usual.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2


Is Britney Pregnant by yet another worthless bum? Who Cares!

Hey, Tom Tancredo - You're a Dumbass

Thursday, December 6, 2007
On November 26th, Jim made an entry over at Stonekettle Station about the government demanding repayment of enlistment bonuses of those no longer able to serve due to combat injury.

Naturally I was quite incensed at this news, and immediately contacted both my senators, my representative, and the President to express my displeasure and demand action. Action, I say!

Well, what should appear in my mailbox this afternoon but a form letter response from my representative, whom I'm embarrassed to say is Tom Tancredo (hey, don't blame me. I didn't vote for the whack-job).

Well, guess what, Tom? I'm not even a little impressed with your response. Do you want to know why? Your dumbass staff sent me a form letter reassuring me what a stand-up guy you are regarding veteran's health care.

Well, gee, I'm so glad to hear that, Tom. Too bad my own correspondence was only tangentially related to veteran's health care. For your next correspondence, should I expect a note about the importance of using zip codes?

What a tool.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Dumbass politicians tend to hire dumbass staffs. Lucky me.

A Matter of Faith

This time of year, there tends to be a lot of discussion surrounding the holidays and the separation of church and state. Some of it is legitimate (such as prayer in schools), some of it is retarded (such as whether or not a government employee can have a Christmas Tree on their desk). All of it gets me to thinking about matters of faith.

To my mind, there are two kinds of people who live lives of faith.

The first kind believe what they believe, and understand that their leap of faith is just that - a leap that cannot be empirically proven. They understand their faith really isn't subject to the scientific method, they understand that this may be considered a limitation in the eyes of the skeptics, and they're okay with that. They're also okay with the skeptics who believe that matters of faith are subject to the scientific method - they just don't apply it themselves.

The second kind believe what they believe, and understand that their leap of faith is based on Truth. Their faith isn't subject to the scientific method, and are deeply offended when someone attempts to apply it to their Truth. In their minds, the depth of their own belief exempts their faith from examination by others, and also implies other people have an obligation to believe in the same Truth they do as a matter of faith.

Well.

You will never hear me say a disrespectful word about people of faith that fall into the former camp. I have a number of friends and family members who live their lives by religious principles. For the most part, they understand the limitations of faith relative to science, and have made a conscious, faith-based decision to believe. That's not the decision I've made, but I understand and respect their decision, as they understand and respect mine.

The folks in the latter camp are a different matter. These people can range in intensity from "Annoying Pest" to "Freeze-Dried Whack-a-Loon" to "Freeze-Dried-Whack-a-Loon with Access to Nuclear Weapons."

That last group scares me down to my toes, but the ones I'm going to talk about today are the ones that play both ends against the middle. Obviously, the Young Earth Creationists fall into this category.

In my mind, matters of religion and faith are academically categorized as a "humanity." This is because religion is a huge part of the human condition, and like most humanities, is really a matter of opinion. It's not subject to the scientific method, and its academic study is not pursued to establish its veracity.

This differentiates it from the sciences, where empirical proof, experimentation and repeatable observation are the hallmarks of academic achievement.

Both disciplines are worthwhile, and both add to the understanding of the human condition. But you have to choose which category your discipline falls into. If it's a humanity, it's not subject to the scientific method, and as such, is a matter of opinion. If it's a science, it's subject to the scientific method, and open for challenge. (Yes, I realize this is an oversimplification).

So you don't get to say your religious views cannot be challenged because "you have to respect someones religion" out of one side of your mouth, and then say your view of the world is a valid scientific hypothesis out of the other. Either your worldview is scientific, and subject to the same rigorous standards as the rest of science, or your worldview is faith-based, and should be categorized as such, i.e., a matter of opinion that cannot be proven.

Now some people do a very good job of reconciling their world-views between the empirical and the religious, mostly by keeping their faith a private matter and their science a public one. An example of this is the idea that evolution is the mechanism by which a creator god created life.

While I feel I have an ethical obligation to be respectful to persons of faith that fall into the first category, I have no obligation to do so in the second case. Their bad science and zealotry is laughable to me, and it gets the respect it deserves.

Hot Chicks Dig Jeeps

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

This is my new 2008 Jeep Patriot. I dig it.

My Charities, They're Stalking Me

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I believe in charitable giving. Whether you donate your money, your time, or your goods to some worthy cause, you're balancing the inherent evil in the world with some inherent good.

Over the years, I've given to a variety of causes such as the The Women's Bean Project, Puppies Behind Bars, The Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee, The American Red Cross, Fisher House, Planned Parenthood, Kiva, and a variety of homeless shelters, food banks and "adopt-a-family" efforts. At the time of my donation, all met my requirement of using a minimum of 85% of donations to accomplish the mission to which they were dedicated, and fulfilled some need that I thought was important.

Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, they also now stalk me like a bad prom date.

Some of these charities no longer receive my support, either because their operating expenses exceeded my maximum threshold, or my interests lie elsewhere, or my donation was a one-time thing in honor of someone else. Some of them still receive my support, in the form of a percentage of my charity budget each year. But I continue to be bombarded by requests for additional money via phone, e:mail and snail-mail. In some cases, I would speculate that they've already reached the point of diminishing returns with me, yet I continue to hear from them.

My grand champion charitable stalker is the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood organization. Now I believe in Planned Parenthood. I think they do good work, and I strongly believe in their mission. But I don't think they need to e:mail me constantly, and I certainly don't think they need to call me periodically to inform me that if I don't act RIGHT NOW I'm going to be personally responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Note to RMPP: I think GWB's appointment of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the SCOUS may have more of an impact on Roe v. Wade than my failing to donate additional monies to your organization every time you call. I'm just saying.

My current favorite charity is Kiva, a micro-finance organization that allows me to "loan" money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. The money is disbursed through a local financial institution, and when repaid, I can "loan" it out again. Updates on my entrepreneurs are sent periodically via e:mail, and they don't hound me for additional contributions. I like it because I'm more intimately involved in the use of my contribution, and again, they don't hound me for additional contributions. My "lenders page" can be found here if you're interested.

This year for the holidays, I'm also sharing a lender's account with my friend Amy. We're choosing the businesses we want to support together, and we're both contributing to the account. We figured that's much better than giving each other more crap.

So here's a news flash to my charities: STOP CALLING/EMAILING/WRITING ME. I know who you are, and I know what type of work you do. I'm capable of looking up your financial results to determine if you're doing a good job of serving your constituents, and I don't need your PR materials. Save your money, and if I want to contribute to your cause, I will. If I don't, I won't. It really is that simple. Don't make me go medieval on your ass.

The 80's called. They want their hair back. And their pants.

Monday, December 3, 2007
Don't get me wrong. I like Yngwie's music. Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force was one of my favorite bands of the 80's, and a significant percentage of his discography is in my library. While I don't believe he's as innovative as he used to be, I still think he's a gifted musician and one of the most talented guitarists of his generation.
But dude. Hire a stylist. And be quick about it.

The Wedding Dance

Sunday, December 2, 2007

video

For some reason, this just tickles me to no end. Enjoy!

The Evil Machine of Torture

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Yesterday over at Stonekettle Station, Jim posted an entry on the nature of self-denial relating to weight management. This made me think about my own life-style and such.

Now me, I'm in the "eat less, move more" school of dieting. Sometimes, I join the "eat more, move less" school, and the result becomes readily apparent. My genes have doomed me to a lifetime of struggle with my weight once I got past those fabulous, high-metabolism, calorie-burning twenties.

Which brings me to The Evil Machine of Torture.

Allow me to be clear. I hate exercising. I LOATHE it. I firmly believe the only reason to run anywhere is if you're being chased by a giant squid. Sweating is overrated, except in "recreational" pursuits. FUN is not defined as sweating your ass off chasing a ball, or trying to hit a ball, or trying to tackle a ball. FUN involves beer, and Tostitos, and Entemann's.

And yet, five days a week, I can be found on The Evil Machine of Torture, sweating away while watching TiVo or a DVD. Why? Well, because:

  • If I become too fat to walk, I will no longer be eligible to be a Sweet Potato Queen.
  • I don't want to drop dead of a massive coronary before I have the opportunity to spend my children's inheritance.

Pretty simple, really. Exercise = more life, beer, Tostitos and Entemann's.

Critical thinking can be so enlightening. But I still hate to exercise.