Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

If you're shaking people down for candy tonight, be polite about it. The rest of you, be sexxxy/scary, as appropriate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And I Thought the Cloak Of Invisibility Was the Way to Go

What what what is the solution to women being safe walking alone at night? Mace? Pepper spray? Never ever leaving the house alone?

Yeah, that last one is probably the way to go. But here's another option: garments that let women disguise themselves as vending machines!

Genius. Leave it to the Japanese. Via.

What Is the Deal?

I'm productively working at home. And for some reason, I cannot stop sneezing and am fast running out of kleenex. I feel like crap. Psychological guilt-induced allergy affliction?

Monday, October 29, 2007

This Kid's Got Talent

Well, in a three-year-old kind of way. Photographic output of a toddler.

In a related vein, Mr. Lee's Catcam.

Heroes, Sans Nathan. I Am Bereft

And also a little underadrenalined. Discuss.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Gentle Call for Courtesy in These Uncourteous Times

Dear Person in the giant SUV behind me in the strip-mall parking lot,

I am sure you were probably on a time-sensitive, possibly life-saving mission to the Super Target. I myself was on a hunt for a double-wide cat scratcher and coffee creamer, so I'm not insensitive to urgent commerce quests. And I can well imagine how the lot's gauntlet of stop signs in such circumstances becomes frustrating; no doubt my poky insistence on coming to a complete stop at all of them—rather than plowing through the PetCo owners, pets, and HomeDepot do-it-yourselfers—ground on your very last nerve.

But, but, not withstanding all of the above. I would like to strongly suggest that it is stupid, nay, dangerous, in these situations for you to pour on the speed and pass me, freeway style, in the lane for oncoming traffic. Particularly when the aisles for parking are all on the left, and I'm about to turn. So that's why I followed up our interaction with the finger, cursing, and beeping.

Thanks for your attention in this matter.

Why, Yes, I Should Be Doing Something Productive

Stephen Fry has a blog! (House fans, take note and toss thee some Jeeves and Wooster into the Netflix queue.) And he muses, at length, on fame, e.g.:
It is obvious and wholly understandable that when people approach you they want to present themselves as separate from the herd: they are not aware that the more they attempt to be different the more they are in fact identical. When I had a crush on Donny Osmond I was convinced that if he could only get to know me he would discover that I was so different from everyone else around him that he would understand how we were meant for each other. This is Stance A, the Standard Defining Fan Feeling, and covers the beliefs of all fans from obsessive to faint admirer.
God, I love the internets.

Sunday Morning Gospel

Swan Silvertones

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Speaking of Sexxay Costumes

We got your sexy mustard! Your sexy Abe Lincoln! Your sexy steel tycoon!


via.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Left Hipsters of the World, Unite

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a MoveOn.org liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand.

Thoughtlets

I can't seem to form actual full thoughts lately and can just muster little fizzes of brain activity. So why fight city hall?

Those of you motoring to or through Chicago, good news: The Dan Ryan is done.

The worries of the rich affect us all, non-New York Times edition: Yes, it's hard to decorate that vacation home, and sure, you can't spend too much on building Fido's deluxe doghouse. But have you seriously considered the ethics of dividing your inheritance?

German septuagenarian "playboy" sues 19-year-old woman for refusing to sleep with him because "After all, there are laws against discrimination." Indeed there are, for just these injustices.

My master plan to groom a tiny fashionista meets societal disapprobation. I am undeterred.

Is It Possible This Was Some Sort of Global-Warming-Related Super Week?

Because it went on for freakin' ever, even though I was off on Monday. It seems inexplicable.

Random ten:
1. chicken wire, pernice brothers
2. chalkhills and children, xtc
3. clubland, elvis costello and the attractions
4. ferris wheel, pernice brothers
5. i'm a honky tonk girl, loretta lynn
6. the child is gone, fiona apple
7. sex, the pipettes
8. sweet thing, rufus with chaka khan
9. age, x-ray spex
10. love on a farmboy's wages, xtc

Yay, Pernice Brothers! WOOt XTC! I swear, I really do have a lot more artists, but my iPod is apparently in a rut.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now, with Fifty Percent More Crazy

Rudy Giuliani: if it's even possible, scarier than you think. In a nutshell:
Rudy Giuliani is the guy you'd get if you put George Bush and Dick Cheney into a wine press and squeezed out their pure combined essence: unbounded arrogance and self-righteousness, a chip on his shoulder the size of a redwood, a studied contempt for anybody's opinion but his own, a vindictive streak a mile wide, and a devotion to secrecy and executive power unmatched in presidential history.

ARGHHHHH!

You would think that this not-throwing-anything-out system I have would work in my favor. Can I find anything when I need it, instead of six months after the point? Noooooooo.

I don't suppose any of you have seen a bunch of important papers that I carefully put in a special place because I knew I would need them later?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Meditations on a Theme

Via Erik, how the cat wakes you up in the morning.

Mine usually involves bloodshed and—I believe this part qualifies her for genius status, and I may hook her up to start doing my taxes—swatting my alarm clock.

Also, this, via Mamablue via Lynette. One of the lesser-known books of the bible, definitely of the Apocrypha:
An Ceiling Cat sawed that weedz ish teh good stuff, so, letz tehre be weed. (and catnipz 2, so wen i makes kittehs they can getz hai.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ah, Nathan! You Give Me Clean-Shaven Yet Scruffy

Heroes! Sock it to me. What are we thinking? How are we feeling? Any theories?

Auntly Duties, Revealed


Watching. Lots of watching.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm a Friday Meeting Monkey!

Yet amid my prep, I still find time to chill to the dulcet tones of my iTunes random mix.

1. the bleeding heart show, new pornographers
2. we must have been out of our minds, george jones (with melba montgomery)
3. see in you, the album leaf
4. wherever i go, the album leaf
5. number two, pernice brothers
6. the promise, when in rome (napoleon dynamite soundtrack)
7. dig a pony, the beatles
8. energy, apples in stereo
9. stay, alison krauss and union station
10. folk singer, brendan benson

It's a strong showing for the Album Leaf, who obviously feel that Fridays require the mellow.

And fresh off the cd presses, this dude's latest (the top two tracks are on it) features someone a couple of us (okay, Lynette) know playing guitar.

Finally, if I ever get famous and find myself sitting down face-to-face with, say, Terry Gross, I will arrive with prepared notes and cards of killer jokes and will not, under any circumstances, turn out an interview like the poor dudes of Sigur Ros do here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

And We Can See Which Side of the Family Got the Eeeeevil Gene

No doubt this is old news, but Dick Cheney and Barack Obama: distant cousins.

I'm Starting to See Where We Went Wrong as a Society

Behold breakfasty goodness: 920 calories, 60 grams of fat.

I have a theory, uncontroversial though it may be. We are the geese being stuffed for the foie gras.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Filed Under: More Wackjob Bush Appointments

The new acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, Susan Orr, believes that contraception is not "medically necessary":
In 2001, Orr lauded Bush's proposal to stop requiring federal employees' health insurance plans to cover birth control, telling the Washington Post, "We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have it."
It goes without saying that her position involves overseeing reproductive health issues.

People Not White or Male: A Befuddling Mystery

According to blathering talk-show participants, 94 percent of women are disposed to vote for a fellow "Vaginal-American." Yes, they really use that phrase. (Clarification of our silly Vaginal-American solidarity: 94 percent of women are more likely to vote in an election that has a woman candidate.)

In a similar vein, but in a shocking contrast to expectations, African Americans "respond to other things besides race." You don't say?

And yet, fascinatingly, among black women, Clinton soundly beats Obama. Truly, it was all so much easier when everyone was white and had a penis.

Twitterpating

Sean Bean may or may not be filming a movie outside my office right now.

Swoon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

They're Cute in Pictures, at Least

After getting home late from work, I grabbed the laptop, took off the boots, and plunked down on the couch. As I reached over the coffee table, my foot sunk into something. It was a puddle of vomit, thoughtfully left on the rug in front of the couch, naturally in front of the precise spot where I not infrequently sit. Nice.

And any music geeks who haven't already seen Yacht Rock should hustle on over. My friend and I blew an afternoon at work once plowing through these. Smooooooth.

I'm Sorry, Sometimes You Just Need It


Especially when the weather is dreary, you just long for, no, require... a pile of kittens.

Wake me up when it's Friday indeed.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Heroes, Ah Heroes

Kind of a snooze? And is Nichelle Nichols as bad an actor as she seems to be? Theories on what the hell's the deal with Silar?

Sorta Like Staring at Those 3-D Paintings, But Less Headache-y

Which way do you see the dancer turning?

I must be well balanced. She started off counter when I got there, then I looked away to read and she was spinning clockwise. It was kind of transfixing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Congratulations!

To J and M on their marriage. Table 10 was abuzz with praise for your self-written vows, and more than one eye was misty with tears. Plus, dude, points for using the word myriad.

Many wishes to you for a long, happy life together!

Hey, You!

You, there, dredging the St. Clair River? Knock it off!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rampant Affirmative Action, Apparently Not the Bane It's Made Out to Be

Perhaps you too have argued the merit of affirmative action with family members over Thanksgiving dinner. My view? It's imperfect, to be sure, as a measure to level the playing field for applicants who have been historically discriminated against and disadvantaged. But at the same time, a host of other nonacademic factors go into evaluating college applications, from extra curriculars to geographic location. As a friend of mine liked to say, we were beneficiaries of rural affirmative action. Did my high school offer the full assortment of AP classes that an affluent suburban school would? No, it didn't. Did I get into my college over the fiftieth AP kid from Richy McMansionland High who had the opportunity to earn a +4.0 GPA? Possibly. You have to find some way to compare apples and oranges.

So I find it depressing to see that, still, despite efforts and in the face of attempts to dismantle affirmative action, elite colleges remain bastions of privilege:
Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards.

Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service, Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities. White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.
A portion of these kids are recruited athletes. But a larger share of them are kids with connections, who gained acceptance based on favors to donors, alumni, administration, faculty, or politicians.

And we all like to think we gained admission into our schools based on our own merit. The truth, however, by and large, is that
Except perhaps at the very summit of the applicant pile - that lofty place occupied by young people too brilliant for anyone in their right mind to turn down - colleges routinely favor those who have connections over those who don't. While some applicants gain admission by legitimately beating out their peers, many others get into exclusive colleges the same way people get into trendy night clubs, by knowing the management or flashing cash at the person manning the velvet rope.
And it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, with schools wooing children of people who can financially support the school later on:
Just 40 percent of the financial aid money being distributed by public colleges is going to students with documented financial need. Most such money is being used to offer merit-based scholarships or tuition discounts to potential recruits who can enhance a college's reputation, or appear likely to cover the rest of their tuition tab and to donate down the road.
I find this all so disheartening. Given all of the doors that can be opened by attending an elite college, it's absurd that we're taking chances away from deserving, talented students from less monied backgrounds. But apart from being unjust, it's self-defeating for society.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Friday, Thank You, Sweet Jesus

1. same old drag, apples in stereo
2. punk, gorillaz
3. o my soul, big star
4. get him back, fiona apple
5. she's so modern, the boomtown rats
6. burgundy shoes, patty griffin
7. gone for good, the shins
8. the mariner's revenge song, the decemberists
9. one with the freaks, the notwist
10. it's all wrong but it's all right, laura lee

Hmm, the random music, eeez not so exciting today.

A Friday thought. I would like to inquire of random head-snapping or, in isolated incidences, harassing dudes on the street (not that any are represented here): how is it that my normal cloak of invisibility disappears when (1) I have the flu or severe allergies and feature a wad of tissues and a bright-red, runny nose or (2) it is cold, I am covered head to foot, and usually wearing something, if not exactly androgynous, not particularly exciting or sexxxay? I don't think this is atypical for women. One of life's eternal mysteries.

Another random Friday thought. Here's the point when you can stop kidding yourself that your eyesight without glasses or contacts isn't so bad that you can't get by without them. Say you're carrying a small armload of clothes to dump out and sort on the bed, and to make a neater pile, you dump them out onto the pile that's already there. When the already-existing pile turns out to be the cat, then you know you should probably ensure you have glasses at all times.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It Looks Almost Like This, Nearly As Big. And It Scares People

The actual Hal 3000, as opposed to my facsimile

My life is such that one of the pleasures I have is new work gizmos. I know, it's sad. Pity me. So it was with great excitement that I anticipated the arrival of my honcho-chosen new computer to replace my 5-year-old one. Sure, I'd glanced at the spec sheet and given him vague feedback about more RAM when he was ordering. But otherwise, I trusted his judgment; he's a man who likes to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

When the box arrived, we all blinked. It was, well, massive. Bah, I scoffed. You know how they like to pack these things within fifty feet of styrofoam.

Tech Dude came today to try to set it up, wheeling away the box on a dolly to a distant back room. Moments later, he knocked on my door: "um, have you seen this thing?" No, I told him. Why, was something wrong? "Oh, no," he said quickly. "It's just a little . . . big. I'm not sure it's going to fit under your table."

So while Tech Dude was at lunch, my coworker and I raced down to peek into the room and behold it. Friends, it was the biggest computer I've ever seen. And it had red lights down the entire front. It looked like a skyscraper at night, lit by blood-red Halloween lights. It was garish, it was horrifying. It looked like I could misdirect government satellites in my downtime and possibly control the weather.

Apparently, however, it's absurdly fast. I don't know this for certain, because he couldn't set it up. But I feel a lot like some bozo who cluelessly ordered an ostentatious and too-fast sports car that everyone's waiting to see plowed into a tree.

Wow, Is It Me, or Was That Fast?

The jury in the RIAA's lawsuit against the file-sharing mom (24 songs!!! oh, the humanity!) came back with a verdict. In a surprising turn of events, or not, given the general way of things: the jury found in favor of the recording industry. She's been ordered to pay $222,000, which is better than a million dollars, but still, a nice and hefty sum to ensure she'll be paying it off for a good long time.

It all reminds me of that horse, barn-door saying, but seriously, this is the kind of stuff the RIAA has to do in this digital age to wield the iron fist of copyright enforcement:
This is not the first time the entertainment industry has gone over the top to try to enforce copyrights. A few years back, it had a Russian computer scientist arrested at an academic conference for presenting a paper that explained how the industry's encryption codes could be broken. It has gone into college dorm rooms and teenagers' bedrooms looking for evidence of unauthorized copies of recorded music. It has coerced colleges into having propaganda classes on the virtues of copyrights for incoming freshman (no doubt led by experts from North Korea). It has even prepared a new curriculum that seeks to indoctrinate kids as early as kindergarten in the merits of copyright protection.
I'm feeling especially bitter today about this ridiculousness, because I was dealing with my own copyright demons. I'm blaming Sonny Bono.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And Those Stripper Poles?

Yep, women use them, put them in their houses, etc.

In addition to which, they're also being sold in toy stores, and 11-year-olds in Australia are taking classes.

Truly, it is a brave new world out there.

See Mom, I Told You That Whole Exercise Thing Would Come Back Around

Exercise = weight loss? Not so much?

Another Dorky Quiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Best Government Money Can Buy!

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case about the rights of investors seeking to recover losses from third parties, such as insurers and accounting firms. The SEC supports the investors, believing it's important to the "integrity of the market." That, of course, warms my heart, because that's sort of the purpose of the SEC, no?

The Bush Administration, however, was not of the same opinion.
Siding with big business, President Bush overruled the commission, contending that to allow such investor claims to go forward would lead to billions of dollars in potentially abusive lawsuits.
It's admirable, really, this single-mindedness of purpose, this loyalty, this unswerving adherence to the donor base.

It seems to me the way to go is to take up a really big collection to buy off a political party. Who's with me? We spread it around enough, it should be really affordable.

Conservative Facial Hair Agenda?

I'm partial to the Breezy Jesus. But there are many good follicular possibilities.

Hmmmmmmmm.....

I have it on good authority, no less than a week ago, that the cat is appropriately dosed as to be non-zoomy. And yet . . . .

She did a half dozen laps across the house—at breakneck speed—riccocheting at last off a doorway.

I'm thinking that can't be quite right.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Heroes Blogging, II

Well. What do we think, kiddies? I trust we noted Lt. Uhuru's appearance in New Orleans? Feels so much better, after we lost George Takai, no?

Other random thoughts: This wonder twins power has me confused. Hiro's story is striking me as a bit too Cyrano (and I feel sorry for the love of his life last season who met her untimely end; he moved on fast). And Peter's amnesia and accompanying Irish adventure is just making me impatient. Although it looks like things are kicking into gear.

But, Silar! He does liven up a party.

UPDATE: You guys are killing me. I'll be forced to debate myself.

I'm Sorry, Could You Specify Exactly What's Not Increasing My Risk for Developing Cancer?

Look away from those hermaphroditic polar bears! Never mind the lab rats developing tumors from mild consumption of aspertame. Ignore the Gen-X women's increased risk of breast cancer compared with our grandmothers. Babies with breasts? Nothing to see here, move it along. Thanks to the laissez faire beauty of the market and hands-off government policies, we're at increased risk for developing cancer.

We have gone backward since the '70s. In the '70s, in the decision on lead in gasoline, the court said we could use experimental evidence that something was a threat to human health in order to prevent harm. The court repeatedly ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency could use theories, models and estimates to prevent harm.

Now, we have to prove that harm has already happened before taking action to prevent additional harm. In the area of cancer this is a travesty, since most cancer in adults takes five, 10, 20 or 30 years [to develop]. It means that we have no opportunity to prevent cancer, because we must prove through human evidence that it's already happened. I think that is fundamentally wrong public policy. Ninety percent of all claims now for toxic torts are denied.

What the court decisions have done is to make the burden of proof close to impossible when it comes to human harm and environmental contamination.

Holy Crap

More goodies of global warming! I'm so not showing this to my friend M, who would probably be besiged by nightmares.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

You Know What's Nice on a Sunday?

Sam Cooke, sans Soul Stirrers. Live! See the low-energy, low-impact dancing women in the back? I love youtube.

Get the Skinny on Your ZIP Code

Here.

In Bungalowville, we're pretty average, solidly working class, ethnically diverse. My previous neighborhood, in contrast, significantly higher median income.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Mona Lisa After One Week in the U.S.

Indeed. (via)

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An Academic Discussion, by Me, on Objectification

Ultimate male (and female) hotties of the 70s and 80s?
It's interesting. Most of these dudes make me shiver a little, and not in a good way. I'm not sure whether it's the age gap or whether the contrast to their current incarnations has rendered them completely horrifying to contemplate in hotness terms (Mel Gibson??!! Tom Cruise??!! Kevin Costner??!!). It's a puzzle.

Ultimate male (and female) hotties of the 90s to 2007?
Ahhh, Viggo!

But, Pat Benatar? Really?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sometimes, I Really Enjoy Being an Official "Media" Person

Heading from a press release I received:

Kurt Cobain Breaks His Silence Over A Decade After His Death


Followed by, similarly,

Twenty Years after His Death, Motley Crue Bassist Nikki Sixx Writes a Book about the Worst Year of His Life

Thus Officially Declaring It Friday

Random music from the iPod. Feel free to do similar and expose the soft underbelly of what your music says about you!

1. action time vision, alternative tv
2. psycho killer, talking heads
3. when your mind's made up, glen hansard and marketa irglova (once soundtrack)
4. what do you want me to say, dismemberment plan
5. girl, the beatles
6. you don't send me, belle and sebastian
7. ring of fire, johnny cash
8. the engine driver, the decemberists
9. hanging on the telephone, blondie
10. sacrificial bonfire, xtc

Mine, in this case, says, "hey, didn't someone give you that punk compilation cd set?"

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Where We Elucidate the Difference between Me and a Limbless Reptile

I had one of my stranger conversations today with a friend of mine. Post-lunch, we were talking, and I was patting my stomach in a satisfied, Henry VIII-after-he's-chowed-his-leg-of-mutton sort of way.

As we know, I'm on the skinny side, and my friend mocked me for this display. In reply, I observed that a person can generally see his or her stomach pooch out after eating, thus the necessity of stretchy pants at Thanksgiving, etc.

He responded by asking me, in all seriousness, whether, as a skinny person, I could actually see food moving through my digestive system.

Yes. Yes, I can. And I spend hours watching it under the surface of my scaly, irridescent skin. SSssssss.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Evil Inc.

The recording industry goes before a jury for the first time in their efforts to curb piracy, specifically, while suing a thirty-year-old mother for more than $1 million for online file sharing. A sample of their argument from day 1:
Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, told the jury that copying even music you paid for – as in, say, uploading it to your MP3 player or adding it to your iTunes playlist – qualifies as "stealing." "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Pariser testified.
That ought to go over well.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Well, I Haven't Really Done This Official-Like with Invitiations and the Guise of Festivity

Not everyone is so fortunate to have an all-talented father to do yeoman's work on a zillion household projects. And for those who don't? The new trend: home renovation "parties"!
As the housing market cools, homeowners looking to save money on renovations are hosting parties where they invite friends over for an evening of ripping out walls and laying floors. But when novices who've had a few drinks get a hold of crowbars, drills and Sawzalls, the results are sometimes less than satisfactory.
And my dad can no doubt sympathize with this poor soul
Sometimes the problem is inexperience, not alcohol. Although she missed her friends' official "Demolition Party" in Columbus, Ohio, Suzanne Cohan, a 38-year-old massage therapist, dropped by later to pitch in. She was trying to yank a piece of lath from an exposed wall with a crowbar when the wood snapped and popped her between the eyes. Ms. Cohan, who'd taken off her safety goggles, had to go home and put a bandage on her face. "I violated the safety code, so it was pretty much my fault," she says.
This kind of blows my mind, though:
Jason and Jennifer La Fleur of Oak Park, Ill., are renovation party veterans. They've hosted more than a dozen in the last two years, including a New Year's demolition event called the "Wallbanger's Ball" during which they served vodka cocktails and distributed sledgehammers.
Methinks that when one is averaging a friend conscription event more than once every two months, it's time to shop for a contractor.

Our Lady of the Various Maladies

Above is an approximation of the daily routine with the cat. And, according to the vet, she's now in her seniorly decline (aren't we all?) and has early stages chronic renal failure.

The good news is that she's got a couple more years before problems start setting in, so, as Toby notes, he'll have the opportunity to get yakked on again by her yet.

Monday, October 1, 2007