Shame, Shame

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Yesterday I learned that ABC News broke a story about "Principal's Meetings," where interrogation techniques were discussed and approved by "principals" in the administration. From the article:

"Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects -- whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding.

"The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

"The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

"At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft."

My concern about the content of this story is the identity of these "principals."

Vice President Cheney, Secretary Donald Rumsfield, and Attorney General John Ashcroft came as no surprise to me. These men have specialized is doing evil in the name of righteousness, and my expectations of their moral behavior are already pretty low.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Director George Tenet have already proven that they were too weak and incompetent to successfully execute their duties morally and successfully during W's first term. Again, my expectations of their ability to stand up and do the right thing are already low.

But General Powell. Oh, General Powell.

Of all the statesmen that have come and gone in my adult life, you were the one I most admired. While I recognized that you were, by definition, a politician, I also thought that you were a professional warrior and an honorable man. Obviously, I was wrong, for what professional, honorable warrior would sacrifice our country's honor and morality by approving torture to be carried out in our name?

I'm ashamed of you, General Powell. I'm ashamed for you. Even if your opinions were steamrolled by Cheney and Rumsfield, how could you not resign over this issue? Remaining silent was the act of a coward, and you've compromised your legacy. Or do you really believe that water-boarding our enemies is a just and moral act?

Shame. Shame, shame.

Get Over Yourself - Please

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I had lunch with Hot Chick Anne today. While I was waiting for her outside our favorite lunch-time Mexican eatery, I overheard a phone conversation. The speaker was in a shirt and tie, and was obviously leaving a message for someone. Only the names have been changed to protect the pretentious:

"Yes, this is Sam Schmuckatelli, and I have the 411 on the Smith project."

Really? Really? Seriously, dude, no one uses that expression. No one used that expression when it wasn't out of date. Because it's pretentious. And dumb.

Get over yourself - please.

The Moral Code


This is today's Austin Cline poster, and it alludes to a topic that I think is fascinating.

I know that the people who visit this blog come from a variety of religious backgrounds, and have a variety of ethical frameworks. The question at hand is, where did that framework come from?

While I don't think we have any screechy fundies that hang out around here, I have been asked how I can determine a moral code without a belief in a religion or a creator god. This question always baffles me. Do fundamentalists honestly believe that those of us who don't believe as they do are out there killing and eating babies since we don't have the restraining influence of a punishing god to restrain our behavior? Seriously?

However, the question at hand, i.e., where do derive your moral code, is an important and legitimate one. For some people, the guidance provided by their faith is the cornerstone of their ethics, and it works for them. But what about the rest of us?

The discussions of objective and subjective morality has been beaten to death, so I'm not interested in rehashing it here. I am interested in how agnostics and atheists determine their moral code. Is it enlightened self-interest? Social-contract ethics? Kant's Categorical Imperative?

For myself, I'm a fan of Kant. Thinking of my choice in the context of everyone in the world making the same choice gives my actions context and scale.

I don't pretend to know all the answers, or to have a corner on moral and ethical behavior. I guess it just bothers me when the fundies claim they do.

Vacation Day

Monday, April 28, 2008
I'm taking a vacation day today. Not for any particular reason - I just realized last week that I had 16 days of vacation left for the fiscal year, and my company has a "use them or lose them" policy. So if I don't get to slacking before September 30th, then I'm out of luck. That's certainly not going to happen - sticking it to the man is one thing, but letting the man stick it to me is out of the question. Seriously.

The reason I had so much unscheduled vacation is because my Smart Man is currently working as a contractor, and as such, gets no paid time off. He does take a couple days off here and there, but longer vacations are kind of out of the question until the company hires him as an employee. Since I've been with my company for 11+ years, I get 7 floating holidays and 15 vacation days a year, plus sick time. I rarely take the sick time, but it's nice not to have to burn my vacation if I do need a day off because I feel like poo.

So my big plans for the day include:

  • Completing some homework
  • Playing Age of Empires III (with the Conqueror's Expansion Pack)
  • Ignoring Nathan's Meme
  • Watching Tania on Jeopardy!
  • Babying Boogie the Giant Schnauzer
  • Making Toll House Cookie bars for the Smart Man and the Smart Boy
  • Boggling over the idea that giving a masseuse a chastity belt will prevent her from performing other sex acts. (No, I'm not making that up.)
  • Trying to shake off the vague feeling of regret I've had about my life since late last night.

What are you all doing today?

Censors Can Kiss My Ass - Repeatedly

Sunday, April 27, 2008
This is today's Austin Cline poster, provided for your daily dose of sarcasm.


This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, since I was a youngster and read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time.


Censors piss me off.


I mean, they really piss me off.


I can't think of anything more despicable than the idea of telling someone that they're not allowed to read this or that, on the grounds that it's offensive or inappropriate. Really? It's offensive and inappropriate? Well, I'm a self-supporting, intelligent, discerning reader, and I am the only one who's qualified to determine what's inappropriate and offensive in my case. If you think it's inappropriate and offensive, then here's a suggestion - don't read it. If you try and tell me I can't read it, I'll tell you to go piss up a rope.


My stance with kids isn't much more conservative. While I believe there is such a thing as "age appropriate literature," I don't think books should be "banned" from children's libraries. I don't recall that I was ever forbidden from reading a single book in my parents' rather extensive library. My own children were never forbidden from reading anything in mine.


Obviously, there are some books that do require adult supervision if a child is allowed to read them, but really, I'd rather have the conversation about the historical context of Mark Twain's use of a certain offensive racial epithet than to banish these books from my child's library.

Here's just a few books that are considered "inappropriate and offensive:"

Yeah. Whatever. I'm enough of a small "l" libertarian to tell all the busybody censors to kiss my ass. Repeatedly.

Hmmm...Learning!

Saturday, April 26, 2008
As you all know, I'm a student at the University of Denver. In order to receive tuition assistance from my company, I'm required to have a degree plan, and be working towards it, but the truth of the matter is that I go to college because being a student is fun.

Obviously, not every class in my degree plan is fun, but for the most part, I've enjoyed most of the classes I've taken over the last 20 years. Some I took just because I wanted to, like cultural anthropology, and some I took because I had to, like macro-economics, but with the exception of the Organizational Leadership class, I've learned something new in all of them.

I think what I enjoy the most about being a professional student is that it exposes me to information and ideas that I would never had explored on my own. For example, this week's reading for my "Law, Politics and Policy" class is A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law by Antonin Scalia. Left to my own devices, I probably would not have selected a 165 page essay on law by a Supreme Court Justice. But I'm enjoying it, and learning about aspects of our judicial system that I've never thought about before.

The cool thing about this experience at DU is that now I'm not only a fan-girl of science, but also of public policy, the founding fathers and global studies.

College is one of my weapons against the Mad Cow, but I think I'd be attending and enjoying it even without that impetus.

Hmmm....learning.

IYA2009 Trailer

Friday, April 25, 2008

I love this idea. Yay, astronomy!

Spring Flowers


In an effort to turn the tone around here from small "l" libertarian HOA hatin' ranting to something a bit more balanced, I bring you...photos of my spring flowers!

As you can tell, they're a bit frost-bitten, since we got a light dusting of snow last night.

I really have no gift for horticulture, but I do enjoy my yard flowers.

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 17


Carmen Electra, the 37-year-old Baywatch beauty, had her breast implants replaced and underwent liposuction on her stomach, with the excess fat being transferred to her face, lips and booty. Is her advancing age making her panic? Is she no longer a pinup favorite? Who Cares!

I'm a Hugo-Voting Fool

Thursday, April 24, 2008
I cast my ballot for the Hugo's today.

No, I'm not telling.

You'll get over it.

In Which I Try to Paint My House

As you know, I think HOA's are irritating as hell, and my HOA in particular is currently a huge pain in my ass.

This is the color our home is currently painted:

Kind of "blah." Grey and white. A standard Richmond color, and while not offensive, it kind of epitomizes how very vanilla our neighborhood is.

These are the colors I wanted to paint the house. Of course, I had to get the colors "approved" by the "Architectural Control Committee" of our asshat HOA.

Well, I won't be painting the house these colors. According to the weaselly HOA manager, "We have had two NO votes on the orange body color you have selected. You need to try and mute it down some. I have had several complaints from neighbors who have seen the swatch as well. You might want to look around the neighborhood and see something that is similar to what you want, but not so bright. Your current colors will not be approved." Yeah, well. I believe I expressed my opinion of the HOA and my busybody neighbors, i.e., Fuck off.

So here is my new color choice that is currently waiting for "inspection":

We'll see if the asshats and the busybodies think this one is too bright.

Have I mentioned I hate the HOA?

It's Irritation Day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I'm irritated today. Oh, so irritated. Let me count the ways.

I didn't sleep at all well last night. Happiness consists of getting enough sleep, and today, I'm sucking salt water. Insomnia is irritating.

The other day, I sacked the company that cleans our house. They were less than professional (in so many ways), and I just lost my patience. Hint to aspiring small business owners: If you clean houses for a living, your client should not have to point out to you on numerous occasions that there's mold in the shower. And taking a week to return your business calls? Not really acceptable practice when you work in a "customer service industry." Plus he was really stupid, which was irritating. So we've going back to the company we used prior to my Smart Man being laid off three years ago. They're pretty expensive, but at least they're reliable and actually, you know, clean.

Hillary did well enough in Pennsylvania that she's determined to stick it out until the bitter end. Her sense of entitlement is really starting to get on my last nerve, and I'm sick of hearing about the Clinton/Obama competition. While recognizing that I feel that way in part because "my" candidate is leading and Hillary is just an irritating git, I don't think I'm the only one who wishes she would just go home.

For the next three days, I will be participating in a training event for a strategic business partner of my company. I have a background in technical training, both in the military and in civilian life, so when they asked for a volunteer, I didn't mind stepping up. Until I found out that the individual who's running this goat rope is one of those irritating corporate hacks who believes that his job is not to actually perform work, or provide work product. No, no, that's just crazy talk. His job is to wave the baton, assigning other people to actually do the work, while he takes all the credit for being the "team leader." This behavior pushes my buttons on so many levels. First, what the hell is the company paying you for if you can't actually do the work that's included in your job title? Second, I don't work for you, and I am not your bitch. If you continue to treat me like I am, I may become rabid and bite you. I take direction from two kinds of people - the ones that I'm paid to be subordinate to, and the ones who's professional expertise earns my respect. You don't qualify on either count. Third, you don't get to try and assign me work that is rightfully yours, then take credit for it if I agree to do it. Guess who won't be volunteering for this type of duty again?

And last (but certainly not least), HOA's are just fucking irritating. Aside from my basic discomfort with busybody asshats telling me what I can and can't do with the property that I own, the "agent" that handles our HOA is unresponsive, tends to stretch the truth when it suits him and is also apparently dumber than a stump. This combination leads to him make false statements in a conversation, and then contradict himself a few minutes later in the same conversation. Officious little twit. Over the years, my Smart Man and I have paid over $1,700 to the HOA, and as near as I can tell, the service they provide for that money consists of maintaining the common areas in the summer and providing clean-up dumpsters once a year. They don't clear the sidewalks or the streets of snow. They don't pick up trash. They don't provide a playground or other amenities. They certainly didn't do anything when the renters next door to us had their music so loud it literally rattled our windows and I couldn't be outside because the bass was giving me arrhythmia. What they will do is walk up and down the street (the middle of the street - not on the sidewalk) with clipboards looking officious and searching for rule infractions. Oh, and they "approve" or "disapprove" outside paint colors for your house. That's our current contact with them. So to our HOA and our busy-body neighbors: Fuck off. You irritate me.

So I'll be busy and irritated for the rest of the week. I'm not used to "commuting" or leaving the house for work and the fact that I won't be able to wear jeans and T-shirts for the rest of the week will also contribute to my stress. Yes, yes, I know I'm being a whiny butt about it, but I don't care. The world is conspiring to irritate me this week.

Public Shame - A Quarterly Event!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008
You may recall that in January, I publicly shamed David Bruce for basically being a complete ass. If memory served, he kicked a photographer for having the temerity to take a photo of him at a public event during a prayer, then refused to apologize, because he certainly didn't do anything wrong. The photographer's name was Javier Manzano.

Well, Representative Bruce has decided that being publicly shamed for acting the ass once a year simply isn't enough. It's evidently a quarterly event now, and this quarter's event occurred yesterday at the podium of the Colorado House of Representatives.

The bill under discussion was related to the state helping immigrant workers get temporary visas. Now, I have no opinion on the bill in question, mostly because this is the first I've heard about it, but Representative Bruce's response is un-fucking-believable. His public response at the podium?

Bruce said the bill was about "having more aliens coming into Colorado" from Mexico. "I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," Bruce said.

I swear I'm not making that up. Here's the reference.

When confronted by reporters after the session, Bruce's response was, "I don't know what the big controversy is, it was a factual statement," and then proceeded to define the words "illiterate" and "peasant" for the edification of the masses. Evidently because his statement was technically factual, people had no right to be offended.

Yeah, how dare those Hispanic folks get offended at being called "illiterate peasants?" Oversensitive, that's what they are. They should be grateful for the chance to come here and do our backbreaking labor!

What an ass.

He's facing an election in the fall, since he was appointed to his post to fill a vacancy and not elected. Here's hoping the folks of Colorado Springs decide he's not fit to represent them. Because he's clearly not.

And as an aside, does anyone else now think it's a mighty big coincidence that the reporter he kicked had an Hispanic name? Anyone? Just askin'...

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Volume VI


This is Grace Lee Boggs. She's going to be 93 this year, and has spent her life as an activist.

Born to Chinese immigrant parents in 1915, Grace received her B.A. from Barnard College in 1935 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in 1940. In the 1940s and 1950s she worked with West Indian Marxist historian C.L.R.James and in 1953 she came to Detroit where she married James Boggs, African American labor activist, writer and strategist. Working together in grassroots groups and projects, they were partners for over 40 years until James death in July 1993. Their book, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, was published by Monthly Review Press in 1974.

For the most part, I don't agree with her politics.

For the most part, I don't care much for her writing style.

But this is a woman who pushed the envelope. She chose an inter-racial marriage in an era where such a thing was considered wildly inappropriate in the best case, a criminal offense in the worst. She chose to become a educated, female, Chinese-American activist at a time when doing so was so far out of the mainstream she was considered a freak.

And she did so with dignity, without apology, and while evolving her worldview and politics to accommodate change.

Ill-behaved by anyone's definition. Thank you, Grace Lee Boggs, for being unafraid, and for making history.

Moo!

Monday, April 21, 2008

video

As you all know, I have the Mad Cow. I've written about it, and my avatar reflects it.

Well, frequent commenter Random Michelle recently saw fit to send me this toy because of my close personal relationship with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and all it's attendant symptoms.

I love my new Mad Cow. Thanks, Michelle.

Busy This Morning

I have to take the Smart Boy's car in this morning for some routine maintenance, so I'll leave you all with the Lazarus Long Quote of the Day: "Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite."

I think one of the greatest benefits of maturity is that I no longer give a rat's ass what Mrs. Grundy thinks or says.

The War on Pernicious Snit

Sunday, April 20, 2008
My Smart Man and I have owned this house for 6 years. Actually, the mortgage company owns this house and graciously allows us to live here, but you know what I mean.

It was the first house either of us had owned, and one of the things I was looking forward to when we bought it was the opportunity to have flower beds.

We closed in February, and the following fall, I was out there digging up the flower beds, removing the plants the previous owner had selected in favor of the ones I preferred. The following spring, I anxiously awaited the flowers.

The flowers came, and bloomed, but it appeared I had missed a root or two of one of the annuals selected by the previous owners. And apparently, missing one root of this stuff is a sufficient foothold for it to take over the entire flower bed.

For the last 5 summers, I have done battle with what I dubbed "The Pernicious Snit." Every spring, I pull and tear and rip it up by the roots, and by the fall, it has completely taken over the entire flower bed.

Yes, I realize that if I pulled it up periodically during the summer it wouldn't be as bad each spring. But Pernicious Snit flowers in the fall, and it's nice to have fall flowers, even if all I do is glare at them from the balcony.

So I guess my battle against Pernicious Snit is really more of a war of attrition. Every spring I win, and every fall the Snit wins.

I have since learned this tenacious piece of crap is actually called Verbascum bombyciferum or 'Arctic Summer,' but it will always be Pernicious Snit to me.
::Shakes Fist Angrily in the Direction of the Snit::

What the Hell Were you Thinking, Michael J. Wagner

Saturday, April 19, 2008
Walter Reed Medical Center is one of the largest U.S. military hospitals in the world. As soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen return from the combat zone, many pass through Walter Reed, and most need help. Lots of help.

For the past three years, that help was supposed to come from the office of Michael J. Wagner. His job was to match donors who wanted to help vets with wounded service members who needed help feeding their kids, paying their mortgages, or reconciling families.

But instead of dedicating himself to this worthwhile endeavor, for which he was paid, instead he (allegedly) was soliciting donations for his own Texas based charity, Military, Veteran and Family Assistance Foundation. Walter Reed has launched a criminal investigation in what appears to be a clear conflict of interest.

Allegations include callous treatment of veterans and their family members by Dr. Wagner, micromanagement of cases on the one hand and distraction by his own project on the other.

Of course, Dr. Wagner denies any wrongdoing. He left the Medical Family Assistance Center recently to become a director of the Military, Veteran and Family Assistance Foundation.

If this is true, I have to ask, Dr. Wagner, what the hell were you thinking?

He claims to have done "more than his best" while working at the MFAC, but reports from his clients and subordinates indicate that is clearly not the case.

And you want to know the worst part? Dr. Wagner's full title:

Michael J. Wagner, Ph.D, Colonel (Retired), USAR.

That's right. A retired soldier.

Who Said Penguins Can't Fly?

Friday, April 18, 2008



H/T to The Bad Astronomer

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 16


David Hasselhoff loses half of his $1 million California house to ex-wife Pamela Bach, in addition to being required to pay child support! Pamela will also receive the vintage 1960 Mercedes-Benz! Will the Hoff miss the car more than the wife? Who Cares!

I Love the World



This is a Discovery Channel commercial. While emotionally manipulative, I really like it. Especially Stephen Hawking's appearance and the Mythbusters' pyromania. Those guys crack me up. Enjoy!

H/T to Cindi in CO

DOD - What the Hell Were You Thinking?

Thursday, April 17, 2008
Since World War II, the Army has had a policy governing the service of sole surviving siblings and children of soldiers killed in combat. The policy is meant to protect the rights of service people who have lost family members to war. Not a bad plan, and I'm sure that families who have lost multiple members to war appreciate the courtesy.

Leave it to the Department of Defense to screw it up.

Army Specialist Jason Hubbard of Fresno, California was forced to leave the combat zone after his two brothers died in the Iraq war.

However, upon his return home, the military cut off his family's health care, stopped his G.I. educational subsidies and wanted him to repay his sign-up bonus. Because, clearly, allowing siblings to retain their benefits when their siblings are killed in action will only encourage all those lazy freeloaders to take advantage of the government by having more siblings killed in action. Or something. Or maybe the surviving siblings are supposed to use the dead siblings' death benefits for their education and health care.

Dumbasses.

Thankfully, Spc. Hubbard's Representative, Devin Nunes, stepped in on his behalf so that he was allowed to keep his benefits, and is now introducing a bill that will protect basic benefits for all soldiers who are discharged under this policy.

What the hell is the DOD thinking?


H/T to Mom in Northern

It's Heee-eeere!



My new bass finally arrived yesterday!

The amp had been here for over a week, so I've been chomping at the bit, waiting for the bass to come in.

My Smart Man and I went and picked it up after work yesterday, and I bought a gig bag and the beginner's book our local music store uses.

As soon as we got home, I tuned it up, made sure everything worked, and called the bass teacher I was referred to in order to schedule some lessons. I've started practicing using the book I bought, but I think a more structured learning environment will help me improve more quickly, especially since I've never read a bass clef.

I love my new bass. It's purty.

Something To Think About

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Even if you normally don't read The Angry Black Woman, I would recommend that you read today's guest post.

Something to think about.

The Politics of the Young

The other night, my Smart Boy and I spent the time after dinner and before bed talking.

We mostly discussed politics, and I found his viewpoint fascinating.

Basically, he believes that we're due for a Constitutional Convention, and these are the changes he believes are required:

  • Federal Senators should return to being selected by State government, not by popular vote.
  • All those "equal rights" Amendments should be consolidated into a single Article that all people really are equal, and should be treated as such.
  • Protection under Article IV should not allow criminals to get off under "technicalities."
  • The Sixteenth Amendment should be rewritten to reflect payment of income taxes to each state, and the state should in turn pay taxes to the federal government.
  • Federal social programs should be remanded to the states for administration and funding.
  • The Patriot Act is evil and should be destroyed.
  • Social Security should be abolished.
  • Basic universal health care should be provided by the government, supplemented by private industry.
  • While maintenance and control of the Armed Forces, the Interstate Highway System and other specified programs will continue to be the mandate of the Federal Government, states should regain their individual powers.

While he currently lacks the experience and education to see that some of his plans have moral and legal consequences that he hasn't thought of, I'm still so proud of him I can hardly stand it. I don't remember considering Constitutional Law when I was a Junior in High School - I was too busy chasing boys and ditching school.

He's spending his time considering Jeffersonian Republicanism and why the Federalist Papers ruined a good thing.

I told you he was smart.

I Could Be A CEO

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
According to the AFL-CIO, the average CEO in the S&P 500 made $14.2 million last year.

That value is up 20% from a year ago, and yet the revenues of these same companies are only up 3%.

I could be a CEO.

I could make millions of dollars a year for driving my company into the ground.

I could increase my compensation package to seven times the increase in my revenues.

I could take a fabulous severance package after I make poor decisions that result in my company laying off half of the work force.

I could have a complete lack of accountability for my professional performance, enjoying the fruits of other people's labor.

I could work for a couple years, taking crazy risks that prop up my company's short term performance, then run away with the big bucks, leaving the tax-payers and the workers to clean up my mess while I sip fruity drinks with little umbrellas on the beach.

"Let them eat cake."

I could be a CEO...

If I removed my conscience first.

Things That Make You Throw Up in Your Mouth


This is today's "Daily Dose of Sarcasm, Courtesy of Austin Cline." The subtext is "Submission & Obedience to Husbands: Women Must Submit to Husbands in Marriage, Church in All Things."

Well. If that doesn't make you throw up in your mouth a little, I don't know what will.

Conversations with Karma - Alberto Gonzalez

Monday, April 14, 2008
*Ring, Ring*

Alberto Gonzalez: Hello, Alberto Gonzalez here.

Karma: Hello, Alberto. It's Karma.

AG: Karma who?

K: No last name. Just 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.

AG: I don't remember ever meeting you before.

K: I've been busy in the last 7 years or so. All those wacky politicians, you know. But I eventually get around to meeting everyone.

AG: I'm not familiar with that.

K: Oh, you will be.

AG: You're not calling about a job, are you? I'm really having trouble finding a job.

K: Actually, I am calling about your employment troubles. I really think this is some of my best work, right there with slipping in the blood relation between Dick Cheney and Barack Obama.

AG: What does my job hunt have to do with Dick Cheney and Barack Obama?

K: Nothing, really. I was just patting myself on the back a little. People complain so much about my work - "how come good guys finish last!" "when will that guy get what he deserves!" - sometimes I like to bask in my small victories.

AG: I don't get it. Look, are you going to help me find a job, or what?

K: ::Chuckle:: I don't think you understand the concept of "karma."

AG: I just said I didn't get it.

K: Um, yes, you did. I'm just a bit surprised at how...thick you appear to be.

AG: I'm sure I don't know what you mean.

K: Look, Alberto. I'll spell it out for you. When you were the ass-kissing Attorney General for the Bush administration, you essentially shat all over the U.S. Constitution as a favor for your boss. You equivocated when under oath, and essentially couldn't find your ass with both hands and an anatomy textbook. As a direct result of your actions, many, many people lost their jobs, and many, many more had their Constitutional rights abrogated. Do you see where I'm going with this?

AG: I’ll have to check with my staff and get back to you on that.

K: Of course you will. Well, here comes the "karma" part. Because you helped to screw over all those U.S. Attorneys, and essentially completely crapped all over the very document you were sworn to uphold, you will now have trouble finding employment in the area of the law. NOW do you get it?

AG: I don't know. Perhaps I could call JP Morgan Chase. They might need an attorney to handle the acquisition. I could work for them.

K: Dude. You are really obtuse. The only job you're going to be able to get is as a Wal-Mart greeter...oh, I guess that's not right, since you're a person of color. The only job you're going to be able to get is in the food service industry. And then only if you don't have to work the cash register. Because you're getting what you deserve.

AG: I'm not familiar with that.


K: I give up. You are a moron. I'm going to go pay a visit to the Democrats. At least they're smart enough to appreciate the artistry of my work. Dumbass.


*Click*


AG: Are you hiring? Hello?

Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History, Volume V


This is Nojoud Muhammed Nasser. She's 8 years, and lives in Yemen.

Her father, Muhammed Nasser, also recently married her off to a 30 year old man named Faez Ali Thamer.

In Yemen, children under the age of 15 are not supposed to be married. However, parents can make a contract for their children's marriage before that time. How very convenient. But even in cases where underage girls are sold...er...contracted into marriage, intimacy is not supposed to occur until the girl is mature and ready for such intimacy.

Would you like to guess if this young girl's husband decided to wait until she reached puberty to be intimate with her?

Well, it turns out that Nojoud Muhammed Nasser is not as helpless as she appears. After begging her husband and birth family for help in dealing with the abuse, and receiving none, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She went to court to ask a judge to grant her a divorce on the grounds of sexual and domestic abuse. Because Nojoud is underage, she cannot swear out a complaint on her own, but court judge Muhammed Al-Qathi heard her story and ordered the arrest of both her father and her husband.

Najoud will not be returned to her family, but will instead live in Dar Al-Rahama, a children's charity, where she will get an education.

This is the first time in Yemeni history that a child has gone to court on her own to ask for a divorce after her family has failed to help her.

Can you imagine what kind of woman Najoud will grow into?

Well done, Najoud. You keep making history.

H/T to SkepChick.

WBC Gets What it Deserves

Sunday, April 13, 2008
We all know how I feel about those freeze-dried whack-a-loons over at the Westboro Baptist Church. Well, they got Rick Roll'd during one of their so-called "demonstrations." For some reason I find this fucking hilarious. Probably because they take their nutbar beliefs so seriously.



H/T to Skepchick.

Climate Counts

Recently I read about a new website called "Climate Counts," where various companies are rated on their environmental initiatives. I wanted to see if my company had been rated.

It hadn't, mostly because they really don't have very many companies rated just yet. I did check and see how the companies I do business with, either through stock purchase or consumerism, stack up:

Dell - 41 - Starting Climate Change Initiatives
PepsiCo - 26 - Starting Climate Change Initiatives
L'Oreal - 45 - Starting Climate Change Initiatives
Amazon - 0 - Stuck, No Climate Change Initiatives
Anheiser Busch - 29 - Starting Climate Change Initiatives
U.S. Postal Service - 43 - Striding in Climate Change Initiatives
Motorola - 60 - Striding in Climate Change Initiatives
Levi Strauss - 1 - Stuck, No Climate Change Initiatives
General Electric - 61 - Striding in Climate Change Initiatives

I've sent notes to Levi's and Amazon to tell them to get their butts in gear, but I was pleased to see that most of the businesses I'm connected with are at least trying to make a difference.

I'm not a huge tree-hugger or anything, but I'm trying to make choices that don't leave my kids a burned out husk of a planet. 'Cause that would be rude.

Homeopathy - You Just Know They're Making This Shit Up

Saturday, April 12, 2008
This week is "National Homeopathy Week." I didn't know much about homeopathy before I learned about this, but I decided to try and educate myself a bit, just for general purposes.

I came away thinking, "They're making this shit up, right? Surely they know they're just making this shit up."

Unfortunately, it appears they do not know they're making this shit up, and that many, many people actually believe in this, and base their medical decisions on that belief.

In a nutshell, here's the deal on Homeopathy from Wikipedia:

"Homeopathy (also homœopathy or homoeopathy; from the Greek ὅμοιος, hómoios, "similar" + πάθος, páthos, "suffering" or "disease") is a form of alternative medicine first defined by Samuel Hahnemann in the 18th century. Homeopathic practitioners contend that an ill person can be treated using a substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness. According to homeopaths, serial dilution, with shaking between each dilution, removes the toxic effects of the remedy while the qualities of the substance are retained by the diluent (water, sugar, or alcohol). The end product is often so diluted that materially it is indistinguishable from pure water, sugar or alcohol. Practitioners select treatments according to a patient consultation that explores the physical and psychological state of the patient, both of which are considered important to selecting the remedy."

So let's see if I understand this correctly.

If someone has a cold, you take a "substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness," like say, snot, and you dilute it with water. You then shake the crap out of it, then dilute it again, then shake the crap out of it again, etc., etc. until there are no snot molecules left in the water.

Then you give the non-snot water to the patient, and voila! Their cold disappears.

Do I need to tell you that scientific and clinical studies have resoundingly proven that Homeopathy does not work beyond the placebo effect?

When Homeopathy was first proposed (the late 1700's), the other option for medical treatment was bloodletting and purging. So, if I lived in the late 1700's, I can see where drinking water to cure my ills might be preferable to bleeding out or bulimia. Sensible, yes?

But I don't live the late 1700's, and I just don't get how people can seriously believe this shit. While my credentials in science fall somewhere between "interested observer" and "fan-girl," I do have critical thinking skills, and this just doesn't wash.

I think I'll stick with my modern, science-based medicine. I'm just narrow-minded that way.

Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq

Friday, April 11, 2008
On January 1, 2009, the U.N. mandate (with appropriate Congressional approval) that allowed the U.S. to invade Iraq expires. After that date, U.S. Forces will be in Iraq illegally.

Problematic.

So the administration, being so concerned with following the law and everything, has decided they're going to negotiate a Status of Forces agreement directly with the Iraqis that will allow the U.S. to maintain a military presence in Iraq.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of a "Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)," it's basically an agreement between governments that allows a foreign nation to station military forces in the host country. The SOFA is intended to clarify the terms under which the foreign military is allowed to operate. It includes all sorts of picayune details, such as postal service, foreign national employment, taxes, entry and exit to the host country, etc., etc., ad naseum. The biggest issue tends to be civil and criminal jurisdiction over the bases. For civil matters, SOFAs provide for how civil damages caused by the forces will be determined and paid. Criminal issues vary, but the typical provision in U.S. SOFAs is that U.S. courts will have jurisdiction over crimes committed either by a service member against another service member or by a service member as part of his or her military duty, but the host nation retains jurisdiction over other crimes.

Military people who are stationed overseas, or visit ports of call on Navy ships, are usually briefed on the country's SOFA with the U.S. prior to arriving in-country.

The issue with Iraq is the matter of whether or not a SOFA with Iraq really authorizes the U.S. Military to continue operations in Iraq, or if another U.N. mandate (with appropriate Congressional approval) is required to make it legal under current U.S. law. Our presence in Iraq is not like our military bases in other countries that have functional, self-sustaining governments.

On one side you have the groups who claim that Congress' voting for money to support the war is implicit approval for the war. On the other, you have those who claim the legalities need to be addressed.

From my perspective, I have to say that the Shrub administration is one crafty group. If they can just slide by on an Iraq SOFA until January 20th, then it becomes the problem of 44.

Look! A Pterodactyl!

::Dashes off::

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 15


Robin and Sean's divorce has been cancelled! Did they discover they're really in love? Are they staying together for some other reason? Who Cares!

Hey, China - You Suck!

Thursday, April 10, 2008
China sucks.

Not that I'm revealing any great secrets with that proclamation, but I just needed to say it.

And by "China," please note that I'm referring to the government of China, not poor Li Wen who is just trying to support his family.

They suck because their human rights record is deplorable.

They suck because they censor information to their populace.

They suck because they encourage racism in their populace to ensure their citizens don't notice how very sucky they themselves are.

They suck because they intentionally oppress and discriminate against religious minorities in a misguided effort to achieve some sort of homogeneous utopia.

They suck because they jail dissidents and other truth-tellers in an effort to encourage some sort of "I'm sticking my fingers in my ears, lalalalala, we don't have any problems here in China" mindset.

They suck because their actions (or inaction) in the U.N. Security Council have allowed the Darfur tragedy to progress without sufficient U.N. intervention.

They just suck. And the U.S. government sucks, too, because they've allowed us to be shackled to this suckage through economic ties that cannot easily be broken. That part really pisses me off.

I'm thinking it would be really, really funny if Beijing held an Olympics, and no one came.

Shock and Awe

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Shock and Awe.

Yesterday I read about a new book by Reverend Adam Hamilton of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. It's called Seeing Gray in a World of Black of White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality and Politics.

Seeing Gray is a centrist book. It's about finding a middle ground on contentious issues that allow all parties in a debate to be heard and meaningful compromises to be had. He comments on homosexuality, ethics, inter-religious relations, politics, evolution and other controversial topics.

The Shock and Awe part comes from Reverend Hamilton's stance on abortion. Although he's an evangelical megachurch pastor in Kansas, he believes abortions should be available, legal and rare, and it turns out that about 1/3 of white evangelical Christians agree with him. He believes that both pro-choice and pro-life advocates can agree on certain initiatives and issues that don't compromise their values. Initiatives like reducing the number of abortions and providing adequate information and access to birth control. And addressing the idea that the longer a pregnancy progresses, the more morally problematic an abortion becomes.

Reverend Hamilton describes himself as "pro-life with a heavy heart." I like that. And I like the idea that while the core issue of abortion will never be resolved (when does sentient life "begin"), both sides of the argument can reach a middle ground in good conscience without all the screeching and recrimination.

I guess that makes me "pro-choice with a heavy heart." I can live with that.

On the Nature of Love

Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Over the last several years, I've been giving a lot of thought to the nature of love.

Patriotic love, romantic love, platonic love, parental love.

And like Meg in The Wind in the Door, I've come to the conclusion that love is not a feeling. It's an act.

Someone can say they're a patriot, and they love their country, but really, what does that mean? Nothing. It doesn't mean a damn thing, unless that love is expressed in action. Action in service or action in support. Either you serve your country, in the military, or in politics, or in community, or you support those who serve in some meaningful way. Professing love for country without action is meaningless.

When you're in love with someone in a romantic sense, love is still an act. Anyone who's been involved in a long-term relationship knows that sometimes maintaining the actions of love when times are tough can be a challenge. But if you truly love the person, you perform the acts of love, whether that's doing your partner a favor when you're tired, maintaining your honor in the face of temptation, or sticking with them in good times or bad.

Platonic love was the hardest one for me to figure out, perhaps because over the course of my life I've had very few true friends that I could honestly say I loved. I have many, many acquaintances, many casual friends, but very few true friends whom I love. The part that took me a while was the realization that if I love my friend, then that person is as important to me as my partner or my family, and my actions should reflect that importance. Once I got square on that, my behavior has changed accordingly. If I'm unwilling to take the action I know demonstrates my love, then that relationship may turn out to be casual, or an acquaintance, but I won't make the mistake of thinking I love them.

In many ways, I think the love between a parent and a child is the most complex, because there's no choice involved. My parents will always be my parents, and my kids will always be my kids. I didn't choose any of them, but our lives are intertwined in such a way that we'll never be free of each other, regardless of whether or not they would be people we would choose if there was a choice. In both cases, there is an expectation that we'll take care of each other, performing the acts that need to be done to ensure health and happiness. I also think a failure to perform those acts is a failure of love - if you don't do what's necessary, then you don't love the person, regardless of what you say. Sometimes the failure isn't any one's fault, but it's still a failure.

I expect I'll still be exploring the nature of love 10 years from now, and 20 years from now, and 30 years from now. I expect my perceptions and opinions will change as I age, and hopefully gain some wisdom.

But for now, I believe love is action. Acts of love.

Bravo!

Monday, April 7, 2008
As already reported over at Stonekettle Station, a local businessman has ponied up the money for the Kentucky National Guard’s 201st Engineer Battalion to go on home leave prior to their deployment to Afghanistan.

While I'll be sending Mr. Baird a thank you card, his action put in mind of the following quote by one of our greatest presidents:

"Honor to the Soldier, and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor also to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field, and serves, as he best can, the same cause -- honor to him, only less than to him, who braves, for the common good, the storms of heaven and the storms of battle."

Abraham Lincoln, December 2, 1863
Honor to you, Mr. Baird. Bravo.

Bloggy Milestone

Yesterday, while I was watching the Rockies' Bullpen give away a win to the Arizona Diamondbacks, my Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men stat counter went over 10,000 visitors.

I suppose this is a bloggy milestone, since 10,000 is a nice, round number.

I appear to get about 100 unique visitors a day, plus or minus. Like most blogs, this site sees more traffic on weekdays.

Since I started this as an amusement for myself, I'm not sure if the numbers necessarily mean anything, but there you have it.

In other news, my Smart Man and I will be attempting to stop our procrastination, and get some projects done around the house this spring and summer. First up: Getting the outside of the house painted. Since we have a two story home with a walk-out basement, we will not be doing the work ourselves. Instead we will hire someone with tall, tall ladders and no fear of heights to do it for us.

Getting the house painted is the first priority, but after that's done, we'll be getting the kitchen and downstairs bathroom tiled, redecorating the spare bedroom, and possibly re-carpeting the library and stairs. It all depends on how long the money lasts.

Baseball Today!

Sunday, April 6, 2008
Today my Smart Man and I will be going downtown to watch the Colorado Rockies versus the Arizona Diamondbacks in Coors Field.

After making it to the World Series last year (and getting swept, but that's another story), the Rocks are current 1-4, tied for last place in the National League West.

Why yes, that is depressing.

But it's still pretty early. While I don't expect them to pull off a winning streak like they did last year, I do hope they do better than they have in years past.

We try to get to the ballpark once or twice a month during the season. Coors Field is a pretty cool venue, and we enjoy watching live baseball.

My Smart Man and I have been Rockies fans for many, many years, although the Reds are still his favorite team...a holdover from his youth in Ohio.

So we'll continue to root for them, regardless of their record. Just like always.

Hmmm...Beer!

Saturday, April 5, 2008
Last night my Smart Man and I took my Smart Boy and his buddy to The Chinook Tavern for a belated birthday dinner.

It used to be the only thing my Smart Boy would eat was cheeseburgers with ketchup. Nothing else on them - just ketchup.

He still eats cheeseburgers with ketchup, but now that he's older, he's expanded his food selections a bit - hence his choice of the Chinook, which is primarily a German restaurant. The Boy has developed a taste for veal, a preference he shares with my Smart Man.

Veal will never be prepared in my kitchen, because I can't abide the idea of cooking or eating baby animals. So my Smart Boy and Smart Man order it whenever it's offered when we go out.

So the two boys had wiener schnitzel, my Smart Man had jaeger schnitzel, and I had grilled prawns wrapped in black forest ham.

But the best thing about the Chinook is the beer.

They have imported Paulaner Hefe Weizen on tap, which they correctly serve with a slice of lemon.

Hmmm...beer.

What the Fuck is Wrong With These People? - Loan Brides

Friday, April 4, 2008
Afghanistan is the source of 93% of the world's heroin and other opiates. The country is uniquely suited to grow the poppies that provide the raw ingredients for the drugs, and small family farmers are able to make more money planting poppies than other, legal crops. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 500,000 Afghan families support themselves by raising poppies, which results in a per capita $300 yearly income for members of these families. The real profits are going to the traffickers, their Taliban allies and the corrupt officials in the supply chain.

Such subsistence living leads to poppy farmers taking out "loans" from the traffickers, against future harvests. So a farmer will borrow $2,000.00 from a trafficker, in exchange for 20 kilos of opium when his poppy harvest comes in. It's like pork-belly futures, only with Heroin.

However, the country is trying to eradicate poppy growing. It will routinely send in crop-eradication teams to raze poppy fields in an effort to control the trade.

So what happens when a farmer's cash crop is destroyed, and he cannot repay the loan he took at the beginning of the season? Why, he gives his prepubescent daughter to the trafficker, of course! She will be married to the (usually) middle-aged man in payment of the debt, and all will be forgiven. Or the farmer can be killed, instead. That's always an option. Take your pick!

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

Girls who are forced into underage marriage with dirty old men always make my blood boil, regardless of the location of the atrocity. I just don't get it. What makes these people think that forcing these young girls (and I mean young - 9 or 10, in some cases) to sacrifice their futures to satisfy the urges of these pedophiles is a Good Idea?

Seriously - what the fuck is wrong with these people?

Who Cares? Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 14


Bobby Brown writes tell-all book about marriage to Whitney Houston! Claims, "I think we got married for all the wrong reasons. Now, I realize Whitney had a different agenda than I did when we got married ... I believe her agenda was to clean up her image, while mine was to be loved and have children." Who's lying? Will it drive record sales? Who Cares!

Discovering a "Keeper"

Thursday, April 3, 2008
In February 2001, my Smart Man and I decided to quit smoking.

My Smart Man is one of those incredibly annoying people who can quit bad habits with little to no effort. He can start and stop smoking with no trouble at all. We hate that about him. Obviously, I'm just jealous.

I, on the other hand, have an addictive personality. I had tried to quit smoking every year for almost all of those 20 years, and each time, I had been unsuccessful. This, of course, led to lots of self-loathing and self-flagellation.

When we decided to try and quit together, I contacted the smoking cessation program at my HMO and signed up. I went to all the classes. I started taking Wellbutrin. I bought Nicorette gum. When the day came, I started my new smoke-free life.

The next 6 months were a nightmare.

My course of Wellbutrin was for 6 weeks, and once I went off of it, I was capable of three moods:

  1. Sullen Isolation
  2. Hypersensitive crying
  3. Hypersensitive irritation

Pleasant, huh?

Bless his heart, my Smart Man put up with me. He didn't get angry (even though he should of), he didn't lose his patience (even though he should of), he didn't kick me to the curb (even though he could of). If it had been me in that situation, I suspect my response would of been "Quit being such a bitch! Why don't you smoke already! Quit acting like a freeze-dried whack-a-loon!"

Instead, after tolerating this craziness for six months, my Smart Man spoke to me with love and concern, and said, "This is not normal. There's something wrong, and it hurts me to see you so unhappy. You need to make an appointment to go see your doctor. You need to make the appointment today."

Well.

I did make an appointment, and was subsequently diagnosed with clinical depression. It was considered "situational," and I was prescribed an anti-depressant. After taking it for six months or so, I slowly stopped taking it, and I've been doing pretty well ever since.

I can say, though, that the way in which my Smart Man handled this sealed the deal for me. He was a keeper.

Today is our anniversary. We've been together 10 years. Now you know why.

Depressing Morning

Wednesday, April 2, 2008
As I was perusing the news this morning, I found the following stories:

Northern Kentucky Teaches Faces Child Porn Charges. He'd been teaching for 45 years. What the fuck is wrong with this guy?

Cops: Third Graders Plotted to Attack Teacher. They went so far as to bring weapons and restraining devices from home in order to do the job. Yikes.

Irish PM Resigns Over Cash Payment Scandal. This is the same guy who brokered the peace with Northern Ireland. And he's brought down over some alleged impropriety surrounding $150K. How ignoble.

'03 Memo Says Bush Could Ignore Torture Ban. Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the Newsflash, Captain Obvious. We all know that Bush II will respect and follow the Constitution and International Law when monkeys fly out of my ass.

Bloodshed Feared as Opponents Release Unofficial Election Tally in Zimbabwe. Bloodshed and bad behavior related to African politics? How shocking.

There were these pieces, though:

Father in Iraq Surprises, Touches Son by Giving Guard Oath via Video Link. Son enlists, his officer father administers his oath as a surprise. Pretty cool.

Wal-Mart Agrees Not to Sue Brain-Damaged Woman. I almost fell out of my chair on this one. Wal-Mart, the harbinger of the End-Days, has agreed to do the right thing. Of course they only did so after receiving MASSIVE bad publicity. Asstards.

As usual, the bad news outweighs the good. Have a fabulous day, Hot Chicks and Smart Men.

Your April's Fools Joke

Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I'm lifting this directly from Wired Science, because it's just too funny not to share.

"Top Ten Creationist Discoveries of All Time

This has been a huge year for intelligent design research, we took a look back at some of the most important moments. Until recently, Wired has been too hard on the proponents of creationism. To rectify that, our science desk has hired a full staff of religious zealots. Here is their first story:

10. T. rex ate coconuts
According to experts at the Creation Museum, our favorite predatory dinosaur would have fit right in at Whole Foods.

9. The Earth is only six thousand years old
Carbon-13 and potassium argon dating are myths created by the devil to cast doubt on the existence of God.

8. Stem Cells are evil
Curing terrible diseases is not worth the trouble of sacrificing some abandoned eggs from the deep freeze at a fertility clinic.

7. NASCAR is the official sport of the spiritually enlightened
Some forms of entertainment were meant for the pure of heart.

6. Guns were created by God to kill deer
It is our responsibility as humans to encroach on their habitats by building track homes and then blow the sweet crap out of them so that they don't starve to death in the winter.

5. Liberals are evil
Even though most of the truly bizarre sex scandals have involved republicans, and democrats prefer to have affairs with women of legal age, left-wing politicians are morally more morally bankrupt than their conservative counterparts.

4. Civil Liberties are for sissies
Under the benevolent Bush II theocracy, we don't need privacy. Like the Pope, he is in direct contact with God, so we can feel secure knowing that every one of his decisions will be fair.

3. President Bush can look directly into our souls
Bush II looked directly the soul of Russian President Vladimir Putin and saw that he is a good man!

2. Iraq had ties to Al-Qaeda, was enriching Uranium, and all that jazz
By bombing Iraq back into the stone age, then occupying it, we have protected our country from terrorism. Who cares if we destroyed our economy while in the process? Dubai is certainly not complaining.

1. Evolution is a myth
Just ask Ben Stein, evil academics suppress any luminary who dares to question the mounds of evidence that life evolved gradually. Get your facts straight. It took seven days to make the earth.

APRIL FOOLS!
Everyone knows that creationists don't do real research, they just make stuff up!"

New Hobby!


As you all know, I've been jonesing for an electric bass guitar. Over the last few weeks, my Smart Man and I have been taking a look at a variety of models, including the Fender J-Bass I originally wanted, as well as the Epiphone EB0 and EB3, the Fender P-Bass, and some Ibanez and Yahama models.

After putting my hands on them, and hearing them played by someone who actually had some skill with the instrument (a very nice customer in our local Guitar Center), I've decided on the Fender Mustang Reissue in Fiesta Red. The scale on the J-Bass and other full-scale models were too long to be comfortable to me, and the EB0 didn't sound very good in the store.


I've also decided on an amplifier - the Peavey Max 112.

My Smart Man is getting me these for my birthday this year.

We had to order the bass, because our local music store doesn't normally stock Mustangs. We much prefer to give our money to our locally owned store (Hi, Allegro!) than to a nationally owned chain like Guitar Center. Unfortunately, Allegro doesn't carry Peavey products, so we'll be buying the amp from another store.

I've also found a teacher. Once the guitar actually arrives, I'll call him and make arrangements for a weekly lesson. I've never read music on a bass clef before, so I have some work to do.

I'm excited!