Thursday, January 31, 2008

While Some of Us Are Playing Tom Waits-Style Covers of Eighties Tunes to an Empty Venue

The rest of us are web surfing or watching crappy tv! (Or for the less-motivated feline set, napping on radiators.)

Another freaky looking newly discovered animal.

That bane of lords of yesteryear, gout? It's is on the rise.

Because some of us were talking about it, explanation of a caucus.

Bet this makes you feel itchy.

Looking at the Bright Side

You know what's a bummer? More snow coming coming coming and possibly thwarting the parents' annual winter pilgrimage to hang with me in Bungalowville.

But you know what's nice about Chicago amid all this awful weather? Stuff like this.

Hey, I Didn't Even Get a Tote Bag When I Made My Campaign Contribution

Nader gives you free stuff.

Pledge now! There will never be a better time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things You May or May Not Have Seen, on Account of Extreme Busy-ness

The primaries trudge ever onward. I receive my (personalized!) daily reminders from Sen. Obama himself to remember to vote on February 5: whoohoo Super Tuesday!

In the interim, Florida held its primary. On the side that counted, John McCain pulled it out for the win.

On the Democratic side, which doesn't actually award any delegates (notwithstanding efforts to alter that state of affairs), Hillary Clinton wins decisively. Her campaign runs with it:

Yes, Clinton (N.Y.), as expected, beat Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) by a wide margin in Tuesday's Democratic primary in Florida. But all the Democratic candidates had agreed months ago to boycott the Florida race after the Democratic National Committee stripped Florida of its delegates to punish the state for moving up its primary date. The result was a primary without purpose, a show about nothing.

But in a political stunt worthy of the late Evel Knievel, the Clinton campaign decided to put on an ersatz victory party that, it hoped, would erase memories of Obama's actual victory in South Carolina's Democratic primary. "Thank you Florida Democrats!" Clinton shouted to the cheering throng. "I am thrilled to have this vote of confidence."

The FBI is opening an inquiry into dodgey practices of certain subprime mortgage lenders.

The FDA still sucks.

Britney drama continues.

And a giant dome that can be rolled over the city of Chicago during the winter? Yes! Yes!

Reason Number 3,455 Why I Hate Winter

This morning: a balmy 48 degrees, and I took a long, refreshing walk at lunch.

Now: 10 degrees and falling, snowing, and blowing so hard I can feel it while sitting on my couch. Tomorrow, we look forward to negative 20 wind chill.

Why? Why?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Jane Austen Snooze-a-thon Continues

Yet I continue to peripherally watch it. I must be a masochist.

This, however, is the superior Mansfield Park.

Disembodied Dress Blogging

Many details to be done (freakity freakin' gathering that I need to redo, having screwed it up the first time, plus a neckband and zipper), but look! It's undeniably dress shaped.

Actually, I think it's destined to be a top because I haven't even hemmed it yet.

Following Up on a Recent Parental Conversation

Why John McCain scares me, factoring in, of course, the healthy amount of acrobatic contortion he's doing to pander to various elements of the GOP base:
But McCain has distinguished himself most as an ├╝ber-hawk on foreign policy. To give a brief smorgasbord of his views: at a recent rally, he sang "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran," to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann". He says North Korea should be threatened with "extinction".

Given the candidate array, I realize that this is relative.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama Blow Out in South Carolina

And there are some really interesting breakdowns on demographics. The big news, however, is that Bill Clinton's campaigning apparently had a negative effect on Hillary Clinton's candidacy. My faith in the Democratic Party electorate is restored--Republican-style tactics apparently can backfire:

Roughly 6 in 10 South Carolina Democratic primary voters said Bill Clinton's campaigning was important in how they ultimately decided to vote, and of those voters, 48 percent went for Barack Obama while only 37 percent went for Hillary Clinton. Fourteen percent of those voters voted for John Edwards

Meanwhile, the exit polls also indicate Obama easily beat Clinton among those voters who decided in the last three days — when news reports heavily covered the former president's heightened criticisms of Obama. Twenty percent of South Carolina Democrats made their decision in the last three days and 51 percent of them chose Obama, while only 21 percent picked Clinton.

Which kind of makes sense. Tactics that depress turnout and reduce trust in government benefit the party that represents the elite who are trying to reduce the role of government. Ergo, Republican tactics don't automatically transfer to Democratic success. In addition to which, race-baiting when a significant portion of your base is African American is just plain stupid.

And all of this is lovely news, from my perspective, even if Obama ultimately loses the nomination.

Wow, I spoke too soon. Race baiting appears to be alive and well. The cynicism is breathtaking, truly.

Save Laura from a Fiery End!

Screw the author's wishes, it belongs to posterity. Plus, you know, the name.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Maybe the Uncommited Voters Should Have Made a Stronger Stand

The Clinton campaign is pushing to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida, where the candidates pledged not to campaign.

In addition to which, in Michigan, at least, all the major candidates except Clinton pulled their names from the ballot. There was a strong showing by "Uncommited," but Clinton pulled it out to win.

More about that latter turn of events here. Classy. One might almost call it, Republican. Whatever it takes for the win, I guess.

On Lesser Swayzes and the Fans Who Love Them



I understand the photo is difficult to see, but this is a rare glimpse of a Lesser Swayze (seen here on the left with the more common variety, Greater Swayze).

I'm Insanely Behind Schedule, How About You?

The downside to the short work week is that you're screwed on schedules. Sigh. Nonetheless, I'm feeling pretty positive, until at least noon. Random music goodness, forthwith!

1. never had no one ever, the smiths
2. melody fair, bee gees
3. mis-shapes, pulp
4. fun house, the stooges
5. see in you, the album leaf
6. roland, interpol
7. beat on the brat, sonic youth
8. out of my head and back in my bed, loretta lynn
9. compliments, bloc party
10. tomorrow night, patty griffin

Quite peppy today, which is good, because I must Quark like I've never Quarked before.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is This Week of the Freakishly Gruesome on Your Public Television Station?

Tonight: the lobotomist.

Horrifying factoid: shock treatments sometimes caused seizures so violent, they fractured vertebrae.

UPDATE: Ewwwwww, archival footage of actual surgeries!

FURTHER: Dudes cranked the lobotomies out in five minutes in offices and did barnstorming tours training people how to punch ice picks through people's eye sockets! Wow, am I glad that that medical technology has made advancements.

No Take Backs, Unless It's Kyoto. In Which Case, Okay

Bush signs "pact," "letter," "understanding" (don't call it a treaty, for god's sake) to ensure a "long and enduring" U.S. presence in Iraq:

But it also includes a provision that promises to maintain the stability of Iraq's government from "internal and external threats." This sentence is raising alarms for some U.S. lawmakers.

Any such agreement would be considered a treaty by many legal experts. And under the U.S. Constitution, treaties have to be ratified by Congress.

"The declaration of principles would appear to commit the United States to keeping the elected Iraqi government in power against internal threats," says Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst at the Congressional Research Service. "I leave it to the lawyers to determine whether that's the definition of a treaty or not but it certainly seems to be — is going to be — a hefty U.S. commitment to Iraq for a long time."

Such a hefty commitment would be unprecedented in the history of American foreign policy.

And This Makes Me a Bit More Optimistic

Remember how the Clintons make the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy really crazy and perhaps really liable to overreach?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Understand What Might Work Is a Whisper Campaign about His Illigitimate Children

Well, my political optimism didn't last long, did yours? Karl Rove seems to be free for political consulting, because we're featuring a doozy of a negative Clinton campaign. The gloves are off, folks. The key, it seems, is to "fight," and thus show your mettle, and thenceforth sweep to victory in the general.

I understand that it's exhilarating when it's our son of a bitch doing this sort of thing, rather than their son of a bitch. Hey, politics are ugly, and if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen! The Republicans do it, and it's about time we started really fighting, in order to win win win!

Here's the problem I have with the above thinking. First, as a voter, I really really take issue with being treated like a fool to be exploited. I also really hate people manipulating me with fear. Have we not had enough of that cynicism for the last eight years to last us a good long time?

Second, do the people cheering this on really think that this is the kind of campaign that she could wage and get away with in a general election? Bush can do it because he seems genial. Clinton goes in with half the population already hating her, a cottage industry dedicated to pumping out t-shirts and bumper stickers about her Satanic essence, and she's supposed to win over voters who aren't part of the core Democratic base how, exactly? Because she doesn't seem evil sometimes, when she speaks? I hear that Gore didn't seem nearly like such a stuffed shirt either, in small venues. And I'm sure the media won't reinforce any preexisting narratives.

It will be a really lovely day, one day in the future, when Democrats, whose essential goals and policy positions are supported by a majority of Americans, can run a campaign beyond reacting to whatever the hell it is Republicans do or say.

And all of this reminds me that I mean to donate to Obama.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Urban Decay

I'm finding this series of photos of Detroit to be equal parts beautiful, sad, and enraging.

It's Not Signed, or Anything. Does It Still Count?


Okay, it's a terrible picture, the sewing basket blends, and you can't see the lipstick (and I still say it looks nothing like me). My question, though, is when Erik is wildly famous, can I make a mint?

Oh My God

Things you inadvertently see while watching Nova: people who walk on all fours; people with tails; people with extra (pierced) nipples.

Jesus, I really didn't need to see the tails.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This Seemed Much Harder to Do When I Was Twelve

I'm making a dress. Surprisingly--despite that fact that, apart from the occasional slip cover or curtain, I haven't really sewed since I was in 4-H--I'm chugging right along. It's dress shaped! It has darts! An interesting discovery I'm making, though, is that it's easier to sew from a pattern than it is to try to do straight lines on large swaths of fabric.

And for $6.99, you too can own a copy of the all-purpose reference book I'm using, which provides a refreshing look into ladies' sewing of a certain era. The interior decorating section is also quite intriguing.

It's MLK Day

Educate, learn, and ruminate on his life and message. Or, listen to a speech.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

For Those Similarly Flopping About for a Life Direction

If you go here, you can download a free career profiler that lets you survey your interests, your work environment preferences, and your suggested optimal careers. I am, it appears, Artistic (30; don't hem me in with your "rules"!), with a soucon of Investigative (15; knowledge seeker!), and every other option in the 0-3 range. For environmental preferences, I come up with the priorities on Achievement and Independence. So I need to concretely produce something by my little old self. Which, of course, I do now.

So, in theory, what I'm doing is well suited to personality. It's just the current environment that sucks. In addition to which are the eternal worries about advancement in said field, which I'm sure Toby could pontificate about as well. 'Tis a puzzle.

Oh, alternatively, what do we think: Landscape Architect?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

And . . . Clinton Takes Nevada

as does Mitt Romney. It's looking like Clinton will be the strong preference for rank-and-file Democrats. Feel free to ignore my earlier pontificating. And please don't ask me about my nightmare scenarios and/or why I'm all about Canada these days.

I Guess I'm with the Kids: Or, More Potificating on Politics

I've noted before that I think that Obama's aiming of his rhetoric to a wider audience than hard-core primary voters is a pretty smart one, in the larger sense of being able to develop a single, simple message that he can seamlessly transition into a general election. The peril of this strategy, of course, is that he risks alienating the primary voters he needs to persuade in order to actually be the Democratic candidate in the general election.

He causes concern among progressives with his rhetoric of change and compromise and for not positioning himself as a fighter against Republicans. He seems too moderate, too conciliatory, too sympathetic to perpetuating Republican themes and myths. This week, he made some nods toward Reagan's ability to harness a historical moment, a change in the public mood, and effect a political realignment:
I do think that, for example, the 1980 election was different. I mean, I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. They felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the 60's and the 70's and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating and he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is, people wanted clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamic and entrepreneurship that had been missing, alright? I think Kennedy, twenty years earlier, moved the country in a fundamentally different direction. So I think a lot of it just has to do with the times.

We can dislike Reagan for everything he did and stood for, lament the sunny face he put on harsh policies, and detest the concerted attempts to cement his image among the halls of great presidents, but Obama's observation is unquestionably true. Reagan did shift the ground in the right's favor and influenced the way we even talk about the role of government (the assumption, for instance, that taxes are per se evil and to be reduced at all costs, rather than a means through which we fund collective priorities). Obama's larger point is that this shift can be accomplished in the service of different goals and ideology.

I admit that I'm predisposed to give his rhetoric the benefit of the doubt, even if it seems like he's playing too much to the Republicans' framework. But I don't get a sense that's what he's trying to do here, or when he says something like this:

I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the Presidential candidates and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems, for example. So, some of it's the times. And some of it's, I think, there's maybe a generation element to this, partly. In the sense that there's a, I didn't did come of age in the battles of the 60's. I'm not as invested in them.

He's not saying that their ideas were good, he's not trying to ape their language to convince people that he's kind-of-Republican, he's just reiterating how their approach changed the previous framework.

There's a strong undercurrent of rage against the current administration and against the Republican movement in in general. I share it! This seems to extend toward a strong wish to find the candidate who will fight back against the people who have fear-mongered, demagogued, and demonized so many of us, who will go into the battle against people who richly deserve to be defeated and driven into thirty years of irrelevance and minority status. I get the emotional impulse. I want to defeat them. But it's hard for me to extend my feelings against the cynical leaders who have exploited people--for what has become solely the perpetuation of power--to all Republican voters. I know some of them, I'm related to some of them, and I may disagree with their world-view, but I think they can agree that things aren't great the way they are. Bush's approval ratings are in the thirties, because almost all of us feel this way. I also feel like blind rage and demonization of the Other as a sole end unto itself is a role already occupied by the Hillary-Haters and professional, well compensated, Liberal Bashers. I wholeheartedly support marginalization and mockery of these people, but I don't want to emulate them.

There seems to be a disconnect between the young voters that Obama attracts, who don't have a long memory over the misdeeds of the Republicans over the past thirty years, and the voters who do remember and who don't forgive. My feeling is that I'm tired of it all. I just want to get better things accomplished and fix what's wrong with the country. To do that, we've got to convince our friends who refused to vote for Al Gore because Tipper once banned music lyrics that there are better, saner options.

A Question

Are notebooks computers really so cumbersome that we need to make them still smaller?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thus, We Wrap Up Before a Long Weekend

Happy end of the week! Also of import is that today is my dad's birthday: happy birthday, Dad! Hope you're celebrating with dinner out or something suitably festive. I also hope that you're marking the occasion with a New Egg buying spree.

And to warm up the subzero winter day (at least here it is), some comforting tunes, because my iPod is a creature of habit and knows what artists and songs it likes. If my iPod were craving food, it would be craving mashed potatoes and gravy.

1. giving him something he can feel, aretha franklin
2. nothin', townes van zandt
3. she's hearing voices, bloc party
4. the end of medicine, the new pornographers
5. lapland, ratatat
6. i missed the point, neko case
7. rise up with fists!!! jenny lewis with the watson twins
8. silence, pj harvey
9. snow, pernice brothers
10. van lear rose, loretta lynn

It likes to delve into scary newness with baby steps.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Phase One in My Master Career Plan

So I had "the meeting," wherein I pitched my worthiness for a promotion. The upshot? Don't start picking out the director office space, because it is all as it ever thus was. But I'm going to write a job description. (How one effectively accomplishes this, when the nub of the problem is that one is unclear of the parameters of what one is supposed to be doing, remains to be seen.)

But my presentation was very clear, coherent, and dispassionate. Yay, me!

When Nick Cave Is a Little Too Cheery

May I suggest People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938? Catastrophes are thoughtfully grouped by theme, and the liner notes include commentary and period photos, e.g., of "A Great Train Wreck" and Railroad Bill laid out on the cooling board.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sometimes IMDB Is Not Your Friend

Web surfing equals random exposure to this show, about rich teens doing their dramatic teen thing. And this guy, Mr. Used-To-Be-Cool-Band-Guy, washed up, dad to lead kid characters: he's like my age. Jesus.

I feel strangely motivated to get my job house in order. Any suggestions on what I should be doing with the rest of my life are welcome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oh, and Could Someone Remind Me

To flip her over? I want to make sure she heats evenly all the way through.

You Say You Haven't Been Following the Presidential Race in Brain-Numbing Detail?

Then let me give you the nickel summary so that you can be informed as you head to your primary.

Michigan folk would have to weigh in on the relative effectiveness of Huckabee's campaign approach, but color me skeptical:
I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

And the race-baiting by Clinton surrogates and ensuring responses by the Obama campaign seem to be at a truce, for the moment. You missed the drama, you say? Lucky you. I'm not sure which is more painful to watch, though, that, or this sort of thing

Get it?? She's like a chick, with PMS and shit!

Also, by the six-degrees-of-separation principle, Obama kind of sort of is approvingly tied, in some vague fashion, to Louis Farrakhan. Or something. But the important part is that he hasn't denounced him. So he needs to pipe up on that, tout suite. Voters are waiting.

Things That Are Surprisingly Practical


Armwarmers, knit by my friend M with her brand-spanking-new loom. I know, who would have thought it, right? And as a bonus, for those of us with chicken legs, they can double as legwarmers.

And my dear Ms. Nikki, what distinguishes the Plushglass is the "cool-warm, vanilla buzz" and the plumptiousness. I am Brigitte Bardot.

See?

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Think Charlotte Perkins Gilman Might Disagree

The New York Times op-ed pages is dusting off that nostalgia for the Victorian era, when men were men, women were women, and girls were . . . protected:

Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. This stark fact is one reason girls used to be so carefully guarded and protected — in a system that at once limited their horizons and safeguarded them from devastating consequences. The feminist historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has written that “however prudish and ‘uptight’ the Victorians were, our ancestors had a deep commitment to girls.”

We, too, have a deep commitment to girls, and ours centers not on protecting their chastity, but on supporting their ability to compete with boys, to be free — perhaps for the first time in history — from the restraints that kept women from achieving on the same level. Now we have to ask ourselves this question: Does the full enfranchisement of girls depend on their being sexually liberated? And if it does, can we somehow change or diminish among the very young the trauma of pregnancy, the occasional result of even safe sex?

Ah, the fifties were idyllic and all, but I think if we keep going back with our role models, we could do better, don't you? Do I hear it for the Puritans?

Fun Food Resources

My mom passed along this site, which lets you locate locally grown or raised meat, eggs, and dairy from grass-fed animals (I haven't looked too deeply into it, but presumably this would refer to free-range, happy chickens).

Veggie folks can also join local co-ops and buying clubs, and of course the farmer's markets are tres fun in the summer. And if you have space, there's the gardening option, both indoors and out.

The Complete Jane Austin, Abridged Version

I expect that, absent Ms. T, I will be alone in my wailing over the utter crapitude that was Masterpiece Theatre's latest adaptation of Persuasion. Somewhere, Jane Austen's spririt is crying out, "enough already! For the love of god, no more reinterpretations of my spunky heroines for a new generation."

This version, however, is most excellent.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Isn't It When Other Aspects of Your Life Don't Seem to Be Under Control That You Clamp Down on What You Can?

If you can believe it, I've been a vegetarian (or, more precisely, a pescetarian, although I pretty rarely eat fish) for about 7 years now. You have to make a bit of effort to ensure that you get the nutrients others get from meat, so I think a fair amount of what kind of things I'm going to prepare and eat during the week and about food in general (using, for instance, my favorite favorite cookbook, but then I rather like to cook).

My impetus for this shift to vegetarianism was this book, which made me look closely at what I was putting into my body and why. Up until this point, I didn't think a whole lot about the purpose of food, apart from the calorie aspect; if something were called a food, it would fill me up as well as any other thing. And if it tasted good, so much the better. I do not exaggerate when I say that there were days that cheetos from the vending machine constituted lunch. And I actually took a food class in school that covered nutrition, in addition to coming from a family that ate pretty well and encouraged a healthy relationship to food.

I am lucky that I have a pretty sturdy genetic background (no tendencies toward diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.). I also started to take the concept of good nutrition and exercise seriously before I turned thirty, which is when metabolism starts to slow down for most people. As a result, it's pretty easy for me to make changes around the margins to maintain my good equilibrium and also to indulge when I'm so inclined. I find, though, that I'm less likely to indulge these days because my old cravings (fries from the grill up the street; salt and vinegar potato chips; pop tarts) tend to make me feel pretty ill and bloated. None of this is to say I'm particularly virtuous, just genetically fortunate and economically privileged (I have the education to research things and the money and time to buy better ingredients and cook for myself).

But when you start thinking about the food available at the grocery store, and you start reading labels, it's pretty appalling what constitutes "food" for our cultural purposes. Everything is chemistry and preservatives and artificial everything. Then of course, there's the high-calorie ubiquity of high-fructose corn syrup. Portions are getting larger, both in prepackaged and fast foods. Calorie counts are ticking upward, invisibly since consumers have to dig for this information. Food is big business, is getting further industrialized, and is quite clearly not about nutrition or public health. Why would it be, when the industry's purpose is merely to make us buy more of its products?

So, in the United States, we are developing chronic illnesses at an alarming rate. We are all getting larger. Children are developing Type II diabetes, something that used to occur only in adults. The evidence seems pretty solid on these points, especially when compared across cultures. But if we blame individuals and their choices for these structural problems (it's a whole lot easier to buy fresh foods and have the luxury to cook when you have the income and time, like I more or less do), we can continue the status quo and shame people at the same time. Plus, there's added bonus niches of marketing opportunities for the food industry (low fat!) and the dieting industry. Then there's the sub-sub niche of contrarianism defending of the status quo, so that we can feel better about the effects that all of this has on us.

All of which brings me to this book, which I'm reading right now. The author is a nutritionist who has worked as an advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services and has served on committees for the Department of Agriculture and the FDA. In this book, she does an overview of nutrition policy in the United States from 1900 until the present, and how it, and food production and marketing, has changed over time. And the remarkable thing to note is the consistency of the research on what's healthy and what's not, despite what's popularized and emphasized to us. In short, not coincidentally, confusion reigns, and consumers can continue purchasing.

She notes that in the early part of twentieth century, diseases of nutrient deficiency were prevalent (scurvy, ricketts, beri beri), and government nutrition policy was geared toward getting people to increase variety in their diets to address this (an "eat more" message). Over time, as food became more plentiful (and food production became more industrialized), the health problems of the population changed, and we began to more frequently exhibit chronic diseases of overconsumption: e.g., diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease. Addressing this change (switching from an "eat more" message to an "eat less" one) is the primary conflict in the book and in our health policies and government nutrition advice. Food producers, after all, are understandably in the business of selling more of their product, not less.

It's an important story, although the details of struggles over particular guidelines between industry, professionals, and government agencies with conflicting missions (USDA, which advises on nutrition but also exists to promote U.S. agriculture) can get tedious to read. On the whole, I'm finding it very worthwhile. It also occurs to me that she's also the one who published the aisle-by-aisle dissection of the supermarket, which advises how to choose foods.

Next on the reading list, though, I look forward to receiving my mom's copy of the Ominivore's Dilemma, which she reports is essential reading.

And now, I must exercise, then draw up my grocery list.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jealous of La Vida Laura? No Doubt.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend the movie Juno. I didn't want to buy into the hype because I'm a rebel that way--and I reserve much scorn for pretentious hipster types who call themselves the Spanish word for devil--but it was well done.

Also, the preview for this movie makes it look pretty funny, although I haven't heard anything about it. It's possible that the novelty of senior citizens belting out punk songs would wear thin fairly quickly.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Just, Wow. I Wondered Why She Was Wearing the Ballet Shoes



And they say that beauty pageants are about more than just how chicks look in swimsuits.

Sweet, Sweet End to the Week

It was not unlike pushing the rock up the hill and having it roll back down and squash me, over and over. But some soothing tuneage, randomly selected by the iTunes gods, makes it just a little bit better.

1. someday we'll be together, the supremes
2. kc accidental, broken social scene
3. tennessee waltz, sam cooke
4. 53rd & 3rd, the ramones
5. it's too bad, the jam
6. i heard it through the grapevine, marvin gaye
7. in the time of the machine, the redwalls
8. and your bird can sing, the beatles
9. the observer, the flaming lips
10. the good, the bad and the queen, the good, the bad and the queen

We seem to be feeling very retro today, but in a good way.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fast Becoming One of My Favorite Christmas Gifts

These magnetic double-ended measuring spoons are all kind of awesome. They're ideally shaped for both spice jars and liquids! They're dishwasher safe, and they pull apart and stick together with ease. Technology is wonderful.

Walking with a Lighter Step

Well, friends, you no doubt were awaiting, with much suspense, the final verdict on my deletion catastrophe. The e-mail is gone, daddy, gone. I am not backed up at the workstation, server, or e-most host level!

I expect the Bush White House will be contacting me at any moment to pick up some tips and pointers on data management.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Knew It

Hallelujah. Take that, workplace health-screening survey.
LONDON (Reuters) - Drinking is healthy, exercise is healthy, and doing a little of both is even healthier, Danish researchers reported on Wednesday.

People who neither drink nor exercise have a 30 to 49 percent higher risk of heart disease than people who do one or both of the activities, the researchers said in the European Heart Journal.

"The main finding is there seems to be an additional beneficial effect of drinking one to two drinks per day and doing at least moderate physical activity," said Morten Gronbaek of the University of Southern Denmark, who led the study.
Now to work a little more on that whole exercise part. Oh, wait, good news there too:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A brisk 30-minute walk 6 days a week is enough to trim waistlines and cut the risk of metabolic syndrome -- an increasingly common condition that is linked to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, a new study indicates.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So I See, As They Bust into My Julia Stiles Guest Spot on SVU (Hint: The Guests Are Always the Killers)

Clinton pulls it off in New Hampshire.

Oh why why why do they keep making me get angry and defensive on Hillary Clinton's behalf? Why must dipshit media coverage and sexist morons energize her campaign and make pissed-off female supporters head to the polls in droves?

Jesus Christ on a popsicle stick. On the one hand, enough to make you rip your hair out, and on the other, I guess it's good to see it all out there where you can see it.

Excellent!

My day just keeps getting better and better. Who just permanently deleted 700 e-mails--the entire contents of the Outlook inbox? Me! Me! That's who.

God, I need a drink.

Monday, January 7, 2008

I Expect There Will Be a Rebuttal



A hip-hop-flavored continuation on the cat theme. Funny.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

This Is What I'm Finding So Fascinating about the Primary Run-Up

You all know that I'm an Obama supporter from days of yore. I was, in fact, one of those prodigal primary voters who returned to the fold to specifically cast my vote for him over the rest of his U.S. Senate Democratic competitors. (Normally, I'm way too lazy to vote in primaries.) So I'm watching his increased momentum with excitement and satisfaction, to be sure.

And despite the grumbling I'm reading from others, I think his positive message of "hope" and "change" is a smart approach that positions him for a seamless transition to address the general electorate. As satisfying as it feels to get the base charged up to defeat the evil on the other side, it's an approach that only takes you so far--witness 2004. People want to be a part of something larger than themselves. They want to be proud to be Americans, and with Republicans trying to brand patriotism (and turn it into nationalism), it's terrific for Democrats to take it back. In addition, negativity also doesn't allow you to attract anyone who isn't already part of your coalition. It's possible that I'm being optimistic, but I've heard enough disgruntlement just among my acquaintances who have supported Republicans in past (but who aren't insane or being paid to shill for the current administration) to lead me to believe that there are folks who are persuadable.

Truly, though, I think Edwards or Clinton are also solid choices, and I will enthusiastically support whoever comes out on top for the general election. For a bunch of reasons, I think the Democrats are in a fantastic position. They may be disagreeing over policy and candidates, but it feels like they're motivated and engaged, as demonstrated by turnout in Iowa.

And this brings me to the stark contrast to the shambles that is the current Republican field. The uneasy coalition of the social conservatives, the racists/xenophobes, and the tax cutters appears to be fraying, and all the extremist groups that the Republicans have pandered to over the years without delivering too much appear to be coming to collect.

I'd thought about this in vague terms, but this clarifies it even further for me, illustrating the free-for-all aspect, as well as the contrast between how past two-term presidencies have dealt with appointing the next standard-bearer for the party versus the Bush administration's complete absence from this process.
It's striking how many of this year's GOP hopefuls were guys who would have had zero chance, who wouldn't have even made it through the money primaries, in any other year. The very motliness of the crew is a testament to the fact that the center is no longer holding -- because if it were, they wouldn't be there. A functional Bush regime would have picked a successor, and used the past four years to position him for a win. The fact that that didn't happen is yet another testament to their looming failure. Nobody's interested in continuing their policies. Nobody even wanted so much as their blessing.

Not even Wall Street will fund the GOP now -- their money's flowing into Hillary's war chest instead. Not even the Religious Right, finally having reached the limits of their forgiveness, will suck up and take another compromise. On January 20, 2009, the GOP as we've known it since the mid-70s will pack up their ball and go home to patch their wounds.
Not that anything is certain, but I'm feeling pretty positive about 2008.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sort of Like in the Wild, Only with Central Heating

More Obama Info

Here, on his Illinois legislative record, and here on the types of bills he's worked on for the Senate.

The short answer is that he's done some good work on important, although unsexy, issues.

Speaking of Obama

If you haven't read this 1995 profile of him from the Chicago Reader, it's worthwhile.

First Friday of 2008. Woo.

On the up side, the holidays are over; on the down side, the holidays are over.

1. your cheatin' heart, hank williams
2. giddy stratospheres, long blondes
3. quicksand, david bowie
4. twin cinema, new pornographers
5. carry that weight, the beatles
6. the gash, flaming lips
7. statue of liberty, xtc
8. staring at the sun, tv on the radio
9. on, bloc party
10. they are among us, the redwalls

Suitably schizophrenic for the new year, plus Chicago band representation! Also, the iTunes' recent love affair with Bloc Party continues. Hope the Apples in Stereo don't find out.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Huckabee (???) and Obama Take It

In Iowa. This is interesting.

If You're Planning on Having a Heart Attack

Aim to have it in an airport or casino, rather than a hospital.

Doctors already knew that more than half of those who suffer such attacks in airports and casinos survive. But a new study shows that only a third of victims in hospitals survive -- primarily because patients do not receive life-saving defibrillation within the recommended two minutes.

Nearly 40% of hospital patients who received defibrillation within two minutes survived, compared with 22% of those for whom the response took longer, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Also, it will be really helpful for you if you're white, or at least not black.
For reasons that are not clear, black patients were less likely to receive the treatment within the two-minute window. Patients who were not attached to a heart monitor and those admitted for conditions not involving heart disease were also less likely to receive the quickest treatment.

In a similar vein, ditto if you need pain medication.

Emergency room doctors are prescribing strong narcotics more often to patients who complain of pain, but minorities are less likely to get them than whites, a new study finds.


But thank god we're not suffering like those Canadians. I hear they have rationing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On the Eve of the Iowa Caucuses

The GOP candidates as Buffy villains. I cannot think of a one of you who is a Buffy fan and can appreciate this, however. That saddens me.

Still, Mitt Romney: the mundaneness of evil.

I Really Don't Think Anyone Understood the Magnitude of What I Was Talking About

Unless you're stuck with no cable and are forced to watch Law and Order: SVU reruns.

Bogart and Bacall? Au contraire!
Husband/wife acting team Ice-T and CoCo


Yes, I know, the writer's strike affects us all.

Introverts of the World, Unite

I'm onboard with this:
Yes, from mid-December through New Year's Day, those of us with an introverted nature live in a state of perpetual dread. The weeks of office parties, neighborhood potlucks, and open houses drain all our energy. But today we can relax; we made it through.
. . .
I've learned to spot my like-minded peers, though. We're the folks walking toward a festive house saying, "How long do we have to stay?" Or we're the ones in the center of the room assessing others' interactions, and slowly backing toward the door. Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche.

You Know What Just Seems Gratutituously Mean?

An artic cold snap on the first day back to work after the holidays. As if getting out of bed isn't hard enough.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Things I Don't Get

Truly, I understand that sex sells everything in our culture. But here's advertising that truly baffles me every time I see it.

Mortgage refinances?? Really? Leaving aside the assumed male audience (single women: largest-growing home-buying segment), the same impulse that leads a dude to, say, buy a beer, is going to make him impulsively refinance his house?

Possibly, we've put our finger on an aspect of this sub-prime mortgage collapse.

Oh Ye Good Samaritans with Snow Blowers, Am I Not Worthy?

See me, that tiny person out dutifully shoveling--multiple times, even--every snowfall? Notice those empty houses with unshoveled sidewalks with which I am surrounded? Do you feel no pity? Not even when you plow our entire section of our alley except for my drive?

Yes, it snowed again, and it continues to snow, so I can count on spending another hour tonight and perhaps tomorrow morning shoveling again. Yay! My back can hardly wait.

Some thoughts:

1. Who are these people stomping down the sidewalk on New Year's Day, packing all the snow until it's compacted into ice? Where are they going? We don't live particularly close to anything, and besides, it's New Year's Day--everything is closed.

2. Why, even when it's not particularly cold, does one's nose insist on running during the whole shoveling endeavor, making the drill more like: shovel shovel [pause, sniff], shovel shovel shovel [snork, sniff, angry digging through coat pockets to locate a tissue that blows away as soon as it's extracted]

3. Is it uncharitable to be irritated when people park in front of your walkway as soon as you clear it?

4. And, shit, as I sit here watching, all of my hard work is covered in snow again. Sigh.

Okay, I feel better getting all that off my chest. Now I can move onto my positive, symbolic start to 2008!