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Tuesday, September 27th, 2005
10:14 am - QotD
"And it is helpful for outside voices to diagnose us as well, for we cannot always recognize our own symptoms. Jonathan Raban in the recent New York Review of Books:

'I have been visiting the US for more than thirty years and have lived here for the last fifteen: during the last four of those years, America, in its public and official face, has become more foreign to me by the day -- which wouldn't be worth reporting, except that the sentiment is largely shared by so many Americans ... Under Bush's self-styled "wartime presidency," the composition of the American landscape is steadily altering. What was once in the foreground is moving into the background, and vice versa. Our world is being continuously rearranged around us in deceptively small increments. Though we like to pretend that the emerging new order is "normal," that daily life proceeds much as it always did, with a few small novel inconveniences, we keep on bumping uncomfortably into the furniture.'

The sense of disorientation that he describes strikes me as central to what many of us are feeling: It is not so much that we disagree with specific policies as that, as he puts it, someone keeps rearranging the furniture. It would be tempting, if also paranoid, to consider us as the victims of a kind of shock-and-awe campaign, orchestrated not with bombs but with media and a planned concatenation of events, a bombardment from all sides on all our privileges and freedoms, beliefs and assumptions, wholly ideological in its content but military in its precision and its strategic concentration of force. The purpose of such an assault would be not just to win a series of individual battles but to systematically demoralize and disorient the left so that it becomes ineffective for a generation or two to come. After all, a confused and enraged enemy without a plan is a weak enemy indeed. The fact that we increasingly wander alone in the night, dumbly wanting only to club somebody with a stick, is evidence that, intentional or not, such a strategy seems to be working." -- Cory Tennis, in today's "Since You Asked" (premium content; registration/ad view required)

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Monday, September 26th, 2005
8:50 pm
Um... this was supposed to be a pro-drug filmstrip, right?

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Friday, September 23rd, 2005
1:09 pm
My god. I was beginning to suspect these were just an urban legend. Ignore the sign and look closer: they're not selling cigarettes. (From a Japanese vending machine photo site; mostly safe for work.)

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9:41 am
Yay, I found my old textfile of cut-and-pasted reading lists. Might as well share!Collapse )

current mood: nerdy

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Saturday, September 17th, 2005
3:05 pm
I'm sure I'm not the only one who could benefit from an entire family recipe box.

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Wednesday, September 14th, 2005
10:50 am - Sometimes they just make it so easy...
"Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: 'You have to check out March of the Penguins. It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things - the dedication of these birds is just amazing.'" -- Jonathan Miller, in the September 13, 2005 New York Times, on the right-wing adoption of March of the Penguins as an exemplar of their values

"Of the 53 penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy are not the only ones that are gay. In 1997, the park had four pairs of homosexual penguins. In an effort to increase breeding, zookeepers tried to separate them by force. They failed, said Gramzay. Only one of the eight bonded with a female. The rest went back to same-sex relationships, not necessarily with the same partner. Silo and Roy, long-time homosexuals, got together (or pair-bonded, in official penguin lingo) after that failed experiment." -- Cristina Cardoze of the Columbia News Service, June 6, 2002

So, yeah, Mr. Lowry, I guess they really are an ideal example. Are you going to learn anything from them?

(thanks to cargoweasel for first link and inspiration)

current mood: mischievous

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Monday, September 12th, 2005
8:59 am - QotD
"Utopia is never more than what we are; the people in them will always be just like us." -- Jeremy Adam Smith, "The Ten Stupidest Utopias"

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2005
3:39 pm - So basically, 2000 to 2008 AD were not the time for politics.
(Except for February 15-19, 2001. Those were the time for politics, but only if you first create a temporal paradox where Bush was inaugurated after February 20th. You know, same way the time for politics in Rome was 510 - 27 BC.)

"I want you to know, Colonel Raney, I would have come back whether I won or lost. I fell in love with West Virginia during my time here. But now is not the time for politics, this is a visit about public policy, and that's the defense of our nation." -- George W. Bush, February 14, 2001, "Roundtable Discussion with Employers of National Guard and Reservists"

"Let me talk a little policy, if you don't mind. There's a time for politics in our society and that ended a while ago. Now is the time for good public policy." -- George W. Bush, February 20, 2001, "Remarks by the President to Parents and Teachers of Moline Elementary School"

"I believe people -- that there's going to be a culture of success and results. My job as your President is to share success, is to say to both parties that are involved, come together and get some things done. And I'll do my best to explain to the people that you were involved. See, there's a time for politics, and there's a time for policy. And the way I view it is, once you get sworn in, that the politics is over." -- George W. Bush, March 22, 2001, "National Newspaper Association 40th Annual Government Affairs Conference"

"I guess there's -- somebody is playing politics with you, Mr. Prime Minister. But I suggest those who try to play politics with my words and drive wedges between Canada and me, understand that at this time, when nations are under attack, now is not the time for politics. Now is the time to develop a strategy to fight and win the war." -- George W. Bush, September 20, 2001, "Remarks by the President and Prime Minister Chretien of Canada"

"I know that the Senate is closely divided among Republicans and Democrats, but the American people expect the Senate and its leaders to find a way to work together and bridge their differences. Now is not the time for partisan politics. Now is the time for leadership. It's time to act." -- George W. Bush, December 8, 2001, "Radio Address of the President to the Nation"

"Taxpayer money will be used to get the Cabinet Secretaries to complete the review the President has authorized them to begin to determine how other actions can be taken to protect people so this never happens again and to protect people's pensions and review any changes that need to be made on pension laws. But if others want to pursue politics, if others want to play the blame game, that is their prerogative. It happens in this town from time to time, and it's always a waste of taxpayer money." -- Ari Fleischer, January 17, 2002 Press Briefing

"A free and peaceful Iraq is part of protecting America. Because I told you before, and I truly believe this, this will be a transforming event in a part of the world where hatred and violence are bred; a part of a world that breeds resentment. And, you know, look, we're going to an election; there's going to be plenty of time for politics. And people can debate all they want. I'm going to do my job. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to do my job to make this country safer, and I believe we're making good progress toward that objective." -- George W. Bush, December 15, 2003 Press Conference

"Michael, I think American people, now that they've realized I'm going to seek reelection, expect me to seek reelection. They expect me to actually do what candidates do. And so, you're right, I'll be spending some time going out and asking the American people to support me. But most of my time, as I say in my speeches -- as I'm sure you've been bored to tears listening to -- is that there is a time for politics, and that's going to be later on. I've got a lot to do. And I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure." -- George W. Bush, July 30, 2003 Press Conference

"Listen, there's going to be plenty of time for politics. The political season will come in its own time. Right now, I'm focused on the people's business in Washington, D.C. And we have a lot on the agenda. And what I want to tell you is that I will continue to earn the confidence of all Americans, regardless of their political party, by keeping this nation secure and strong and prosperous and free." -- George W. Bush, June 27, 2003, "Remarks at Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception"

"And I encourage you to keep doing what you're doing, is talking to members of the United States Congress and remind them, set aside partisan politics for the good of the United States of America. It's in our economic interests, it's in our national security interests that the House of Representatives join the United States Senate and pass that CAFTA bill, which I'll proudly sign on behalf of America's workers and small businesses and those of us who love and cherish democracy." -- George W. Bush, July 21, 2005, "President Promotes Central American Free Trade Agreement"

(This is actually a collection of most of the quotes linked from this Salon War Room article, which probably requires you to bypass some really obnoxious registration system to see it, so don't bother. I put the quotes back in some context for them.)

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12:10 pm - Geekery
World capitals quiz. I got 8/10. Just curious how other people fare...

Also, given my friends list, I know I can't be the only person who's been looking for a goodlist of Greek and Latin roots.

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2005
11:16 am - QotD
"Tell me where the line forms to ask hard questions. I yield back the balance of my time." -- Rep. Brad Miller (North Carolina, 13th District), regarding accountability for Katrina and other national crises

(quote and link courtesy of jica, via ktiger)

I'm still afraid of people not waiting for evidence before they make accusations. But I'm more afraid of that evidence never getting brought to light at all.

I understand why people want to "keep politics out of this," if "politics" means everybody chooses sides by partisan prejudices and attacks everything their opponents say without evaluating it. But total silence is not the ideal. The ideal, as Rep. Miller said, is to ask the hard questions, patiently and persistently -- and if possible, politely -- and demand hard answers.

Nobody has to hate (though there are IMHO still appropriate forums for venting anger -- just not in our civic life). Nobody has to yell (unless we're being ignored and it comes time to demand a response). And insisting on answers isn't the same as ramming the answers we'd like to hear down other people's throats. But yes, I think we do have to go through the exceptionally detailed and painful process of making an investigation and holding people accountable. I hope to God it happens, and I still await some damn good explanations.

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Monday, September 5th, 2005
8:13 am
If anybody out there has any information about third-generation diethylstilbestrol exposure, endocrine disorders, and gender dysphoria, I would be very grateful if you'd point me to it.

It's not for a friend.

current mood: pensive

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Sunday, September 4th, 2005
8:45 am
Remember to check your sources. This is a neutral post, though you all know where my own biases fall. Remember to check your sources. Nobody is being accused here. Remember to check your sources. This is a matter of principle, not of emotion, and applies to everybody. Remember to check your sources. I've made this mistake many times before, too. Remember to check your sources. Disasters are one of the worst sources of unfounded rumors. Remember to check your sources. It was crazy like this after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, I think, it's just faster now. Remember to check your sources. We want to build a case and make it stick. Remember to check your sources. Don't wield them like a baseball bat, just present them. Remember to check your sources. Truth doesn't come from strong opinions or strong moods. Remember to check your sources. Disbelieve everything, especially things that seem obvious in their simplicity. Remember to check your sources.

Then question your sources. Then compare them with other sources. Nobody will ever have perfect knowledge about this thing. It's just not possible. Everyone will bring different information to the table. It's like one of those stupid corporate team-building exercises; we each get a few scraps of paper and we have to cooperate to put them together. That said, there are a hell of a lot of really good questions that have been raised in the last couple days. I'd like to hear really good answers for them. That doesn't mean I can fill the ones I'd like to hear in the blanks, or tell other people what to put in their blanks just because of my convictions. But I do intend to keep pushing, as gently as my temper will allow, for answers.

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Saturday, September 3rd, 2005
11:36 pm - QotD
"I have this rule of thumb. Once the Japanese have a term for it, you no longer have to feel ashamed of it." -- name withheld to protect the "innocent"

(If it makes you feel any better, the topic was living at your parents' home.)

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11:11 am - factcheck.org's take on responsibility for the flooding
I generally have a lot of respect for these guys and their general lack of grandstanding, but evaluate it for yourself...Collapse )

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1:57 am - Advice for damage control, from somebody who's just been there:
"I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it." -- Mitch Hedberg

Angry self-righteous posts telling people to stop making angry self-righteous posts about Katrina are still angry, self-righteous posts. :) I made the same mistake over the last couple days, so I say this with all due humility. This is a sincere effort to get people to take a deep breath and give other people some space, so we can all relax and think rationally about this -- not something that's necessarily easy to do in the wake of an event that provokes passion and outrage. The problem is, "things that really matter" is a hopelessly subjective concept, and indignation rather than empathy and patience is really not going to advance any particular useful goal.

People are going to rant about this, I think, especially in emotionally charged spaces like their journals. Don't demand that they let it go, especially if yourself can't let your own outrage go. Lecturing other people about what's okay to think during a disaster and what's not is not going to calm anybody down. Of course, that goes for yourself as well. If you did let your tongue slip, what's done is done. Your reaction, too, was probably borne of a kind of compassion. You couldn't stand all this pain any more than they could, and you lashed out in the hopes of changing it. That's okay, in your own way you're trying to make sense of this.

Maybe we all have to loose our pent-up frustrations in whatever way we can, like lancing a boil. I think that something has certainly gone horribly wrong in the reaction to the hurricane, and I think some people are bound to be angry. No, that anger's not rational nor productive. I see it as waste material. But is putting more anger and frustration into the system going to contribute to us collaborating on solutions? Nobody can or will or should turn off their point of view for you on demand. You have to give them a reason to want to. I learned that lesson the hard way.

I don't want to tell you how to react to this situation. Everybody's going to say what they need to say, and however much that might trigger my own strong emotions, I guess we're all just going to have to ride it out. If you're not doing anything concurrently to offer material help to the survivors -- or apply the political criticism necessary to make sure justice is served... Well, I can scream all I want, but all I can really do, with any hope of changing your mind, is say please. I'd like to ensure the resources are there to complete rescue efforts and provide for the survivors. I'd also like to ensure no official who failed to perform their duty to the public welfare still has a job at the end of this.

Please don't let your anger overwhelm the fact we need each other right now, and please don't let your desire for calm prevent people from dealing with the IMHO quite relevant political implications of this event. Don't blame yourself and don't blame others, if you can help it. If you can't help it, get a hold of yourself as quickly as possible and don't waste time on guilt. I was insane for a while myself, and I hope I can do a little penance for that by helping us fumble our way to some kind of sanity together. We can't control each other any more than we could control Katrina, but it's not too late to minimize the already horrible damage.

current mood: worried
Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
12:30 pm - that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain
Attention nerds with spare time and travel money:

Xeni Jardin is compiling ways techies can help out with Katrina relief. Pass this one along, I know there have got to be both disaster relief people and interested techies within a few hops of this journal.

Unrelated, boingboing also has posts on the "black looter, white finder" controversy, and some speculation about the economic priorities behind rescue efforts.

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10:16 am - QotD
"I am FULL of Christ's endless love, you BITCH!" -- the movie Saved, by way of bikerwalla

(thanks for the corrections, Mousit and Baktre!)

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5:53 am
I would've liked to drop this, but I've been quoted out of context and I think it's only fair to respond. For those of you who also read ilthuain's journal, I thought you might like to see the entire e-mail exchange quoted in his attack. You read his response and tell me if he "gave this nitwit me a chance."

Andy's problem with me seems to arise from the fact that I wrote a philosophical post during a disaster -- chronicling my feelings like I always do -- instead of making tasteless public pronouncements of public mourning that satisfy him and do nothing to console the bereft. If I don't do my charity in public for his gratification, where he can see it, that's some kind of evidence that I don't do it at all. And in my foolish attempt to have a serious conversation with him about why I feel this way about mourning, I apparently set him off by asserting that it's wrong to pretend your own kind of grief trumps every other kind in the world. (What Ilthuain didn't bother to note in his self-righteous fury is that some of the people I stood up for for cracking jokes on 9-11 had missing family, too. I still have the logs and read them from time to time.)

I think it's only fair of me to drag this out for just this one more post, because he deliberately set out to give a bad impression of me -- he skewed a very complex and heartfelt attempt to explain my own sense of grief into something that reinforced his determination to find somebody to hate. (In the name of empathy?!) Whatever I do to mourn the people lost in the storm, I refuse to do for the sake of somebody else's twisted sense of propriety; he has incredible gall to tell me, much less other people, that means I don't care. I have nothing else to say on the matter, 'cause I think he's completely gone over the edge and his words speak for themselves.

Can I please get back to worrying about more important things now?

Here for posterity. Andy's, um, subtle misconstruing of my words has been highlighted.Collapse )

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Tuesday, August 30th, 2005
6:28 am - QotD
"Someone, somewhere, is dying right as I'm typing this. At the very same time, people are laughing and fucking. The contrast seems jarring, but really, the alternative would be so bleak as to make dying a blessing, because people are dying all the time." -- wastrel

current mood: sad

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Monday, August 29th, 2005
11:43 am - o/` Facts are lazy and facts are late o/`
Old-school postvixen: personal, ranty, and possibly a bit high on the drama scale, but I swear I'm just thinking out loud.Collapse )

current mood: cranky

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