Sunday, February 29, 2004
DOES IT GET MORE CHARMING THAN THIS?
Jews aren't welcome, and women are virtually under house arrest. Glad we could be of service to our friends, the Saudis.
Via Desert Cat, ruler of the lands where the tall cacti stand.
2/29/2004 01:20:00 AM
BENT OVER LENT
Molly gave up swearing, and yelling at the television. I gave up black tea. Pretty wimpy of me: in years past I've given up all caffeine. But I didn't even give up all tea: just the luscious black stuff with a little whole milk in it--and nothing else.
Hey. Six weeks is a long time.
Molly has also given up on Southern California. But not me. Not yet. Probably not ever. (Until I retire and go off to live in Arizona, New Mexico, or Nevada, on a small rural property with my husband where we'll have ponies in the stable and a gun in every room of the house.)
2/29/2004 12:52:00 AM
Saturday, February 28, 2004
GOING TO MEET THE MAN
Rex writes about meeting the President.
Via Small Dead Animals.
2/28/2004 02:42:00 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2004
GEORGE W. BUSH
He's been a very bad boy--no question about that. I'd spank him and send him to bed without his supper. But I wouldn't elect John Kerry to the highest office in the land. No.
I know: whenever the President gets in trouble, he talks about amending the Constitution--in tones that he expects will be soothing to the far right. Naughty of him. But does he truly expect any of these outlandish amendments to pass? I truly doubt it.
James discusses the issue of amending the Constitution, especially in the context of the power the Supreme Court wields to make law out of whole cloth (see, oh, I dunno--maybe Roe v. Wade). Money quote:
I find this whole discussion ironic, since George W. Bush has infinitely less power to amend the Constitution than does Sandra Day O’Connor.
2/26/2004 11:51:00 AM
WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE
Michele tells you why there is only one issue that counts in the upcoming Presidential race: the War on Terror.
2/26/2004 12:38:00 AM
Sunday, February 22, 2004
OSAMA'S TITTY'S IN THE WRINGER
. . . or so I hope. Our guys apparently have him and his people surrounded, with little/no chance of escape.
Blackfive has the scoop.
I just pray the reports are accurate, and that we take this guy. My intellect says "alive would be best," but my gut wants him to die. Slowly . . . like from a bad wound that involves a lot of loss of blood. Out there in the boonies, far away from any hospital. In a lot of pain.
That could work.
2/22/2004 01:13:00 AM
Saturday, February 21, 2004
DO YOU TALK LIKE A YANK?
The answer may surprise you.
I took the test twice: first time, I scored 64%, which is more Dixie than not. So I took the test a second time, substituting "you all" for "y'all" (I'm the only chick in California who says y'all), and tweaking a few more answers. This gave me a 50% score. But the test doesn't say much about West Coast vs. East Coast speech patterns--or the fact that a lot of Californians speak a midwestern dialect (much of this land having been settled by farmers who just wanted a bit more sunlight, thank you very much).
2/21/2004 01:39:00 AM
Friday, February 20, 2004
I've never been in a position like the one Mel Gibson is in now.
I've never had a dad whom I respected/feared in the way Gibson does his own father, who apparently followed some sort of anti-Semitic Hansel/Gretel trail to Holocaust denial.
But here's this: Gibson has made his position clear, and disavowed his father's anti-Semitism in unambiguous terms. He should not need to humiliate an old, harmless man for the essential truth to be clear: if you are a Christian, there is no room for anti-Semitism. You worship a Semitic God.
Deal with it, or get the fuck out of Christianity. Stop pretending.
2/20/2004 01:31:00 AM
Thursday, February 19, 2004
TELLY--BUT NOT SAVALAS
I've really been enjoying The West Wing lately. I know their ratings were in a bit of a slump around a year ago, and I wonder what the current numbers are. The writers appear to have succeeded in getting away from portraying The Republicans as the enemy, and taken to making Politics As Usual--or Partisan Gridlock--the enemy. The change apparently started with the two-episode storyline featuring John Goodman as the GOP Speaker of the House, who takes over the presidency briefly when the President is unable to fulfill his duties--because his daughter was captured by terrorists. I only saw the first one of those two episodes, but I remember being unconvinced that the writers had gotten beyond any prejudices they had about conservatives. Still--John Goodman did a hell of a job, and they certainly got someone who was likeable.
And as time goes on there is less a sense that Republicans are likely to sprout horns and tails and run around with pitchforks. When GOP characters show up--and it is a Democratic administration, no doubt about that, so they aren't ubiquitous--they are a little rounder, a little more complex than I believe they used to be. And the characters in general are interesting and engaging: all workaholics, of course. I've heard that those who work in the real West Wing say there aren't so many people running around all the time: the real thing doesn't have that hectic quality.
But there are moral ambiguities in the show, and hard choices to be made. And people doing their best under less-than-optimal circumstances. Which may really be what politics is about, after all.
If you were scared off by its assertively liberal bias, try it again. You might be surprised.
And tell me what you think.
2/19/2004 01:50:00 AM
Monday, February 16, 2004
ATTILA IN AN APRON:
GROUND BEEF IS YOUR FRIEND.
I've been meaning to credit Triticale with the term "Apronics," which I think is just brilliant. I might just change the "department name" to this auspicious-sounding moniker.
1. Because I'm falling in love with my husband again (this happens periodically, and it's a good thing), we're eating a lot of ground beef these days. Partly because I want to please him. The husband really likes ground beef.
Last week we tried a few pre-packaged "meal in a skillet" variations. (Hamburger Helper, and one other brand.) Often, this involves ground beef which is then drained, and then returned to the pan with some water, a seasoning packet, and a bunch of spices. The biggest complaint I had both nights was that the pasta portion really should have been cooked separately from the meat and sauce. Essentially, the noodles went from "too hard" to "too mushy" in the bat of an eye: they simply don't cook as evenly when they're sharing a pan with meat and a sauce. Other than that, these weren't bad emergency options. But bear in mind that my best deal on Hamburger Helper was $2.49 a package, and Campbell's mushroom soup is ofen available for $.49 a can. And a serviceable stroganoff can be made with that (or, indeed, with any creamy soup: celery, chicken, etc.) with the addition of $.20 worth of noodles as a base. I didn't even save much time with the packages--only a little thought and creative energy.
2. Meatloaf. Let's all say it together: meatloaf. It can be made in an infinite number of ways, and it's always good--whether one is spooning gravy over it, or pre-bottled barbecue sauce. But here's a caveat: it does take a while to cook. Some time can be shaved by forming the meat into a ring and cooking it on a cookie sheet--but the loaf form, in a loaf pan, wants betwen 45 minutes and a full hour. (The amount of juice in the pan may affect cooking times. Tonight I basted the loaf with a little beef broth, and this seemed to increase the time by 10-15 minutes.)
The advantage here is that this grants one a little extra time for things like clearing off the table, setting it, throwing the salad together, scrounging about for The Starch Course, and--of course--quick checks of the blogosphere.
If you can start dinner just a little early, that extra time is a very fine thing indeed.
2/16/2004 02:50:00 AM
Sunday, February 15, 2004
THE LAST WMD POST YOU'LL EVER NEED TO READ
Well, maybe. I thought it was time for me, as a Bush supporter, to lay one thing on the line, here: I do hope Bush wasn't exaggerating in the months leading up to our invasion of Iraq. Or "sexing it up." Or prevaricating. I really do.
Because if he really did lie to us--for whatever reason--it was an abuse of trust. I don't care if he thought creating one democracy in the Middle East would ultimately bring peace to the entire region, and lessen the material support to Al Qaeda. It doesn't matter, no many how many sweet nothings Bill Kristol whispered in his ear.
But be careful, my liberal friends. It does, after all, look like Saddam calculated all along that we wouldn't really invade, or if we did we'd just set off a few bombs and go on our merry way. And if this is the case, it displays just how little respect we commanded before Bush decided to fight this splendid little war.
And how this action may have actually increased our international prestige.
Walk softly, all you who want us to be well-regarded.
2/15/2004 03:39:00 AM
ONE MORE TIME, WITH FEELING
If I can't trust thousands of my closest friends, whom can I trust? Wait . . . don't answer that.
I guess this explains why I'm no longer getting carded. (I was asked for ID to buy booze well into my 30s; it was terribly flattering.)
2/15/2004 03:16:00 AM
OH, THANK YOU, BLOGGER.
I'm so gratified that the post I deleted last Wednesday (since I was--once more--unsuccessful in my attempts to post a picture) has simply stayed there on my blog, for all the world to see.
Next, I expect the Blogger folks to drop in on me unannounced when I'm expecting my period, so they can get a digital picture of me with my face broken out. Then they can post that.
2/15/2004 03:06:00 AM
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
BUSH'S MILITARY RECORD
Thomas Lipscomb of The Chicago Sun-Times writes about the flap regarding Bush's service record--delivering, in the process, a devastating critique to the establishment media. Money quote:
The most charitable explanation for this distortion is the almost total ignorance the press of the realities of military service and its record-keeping. Yet [Ret. Brig. Gen. William] Turnipseed has been repeatedly called by news organizations since the Globe reporting four years ago, and no one has chosen to correct the errors he has tried to point out or cover his denials.
The most startling aspect of this story is that the press has continually treated this affair as a political debate rather than a matter of fact.
An Air National Guard officer such as George Bush left an extensive paper trail of service. The vital summary sheet of a military record is a simple form called the DD214 or NGB 22. It covers all the basic questions being asked about Bush today. Every military veteran has one.
Kerry has one. On it are listed his dates of service, the nature of his discharge and the medals and service ribbons he has every reason to be proud of. It was filed away at the time of discharge and is almost impossible to alter.
Did a single member of the thousands in the press take the trouble to look up just one DD214 or NGB22 -- President Bush's?
Apparently not. And that is the saddest part of the story.
A political debate rather than a matter of fact. So many of these things are treated this way: one of the frustrating things for me during the period before the war in Iraq is that my friends and I found ourselves debating not on the merits of the situation, but beating each other over the head with completely different sets of "facts." Our information sources were utterly disjoint.
I don't want to go back to the Bad Old Days, when one had to go to Uncle Walter (Cronkite) for the pre-processed baby-food news--but I wish that we could utilize some of the same sources of raw information. In the meantime, all I can say is we need to go to "the other side" for some of our data. We need to know what "the enemy" is hearing, so we can look up some of their facts and figures and ascertain who is more credible--our sources or theirs.
And remember: you are never only preaching to the choir. So show some respect.
2/11/2004 12:18:00 PM
Some bloggers are running an "adopt a journalist" campaign, in which one columnist or reporter is put under the microscope, his/her every move tracked and critiqued by his/her own personal blogger. It sounds so far like a lot of this activity is being done by liberals, who may be more activist in their approach, since their party is out of power.
It's certainly an interesting idea. I'm not sure it would work for me, since I have a phobia about commitments. (I've got a marriage, and that seems like enough, ya know?)
Let me know what you think.
2/11/2004 11:37:00 AM
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
ZEUGMAS FOR LEFTIES
Hip Nerd suggests:
Bush has a lack of intelligence.
This one is interesting because the word with the double meaning is a noun, rather than a verb. In an effort to save my liberal friends more time, I offer the following collection of Bush putdowns:
George W. Bush abuses his brain--and the public trust.
Bush takes chances--and the cake.
Bush lies down at night--and to us during the day.
Bush was born to be wild, and with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Bush should aspire to just have an asshole, instead of being one. [another noun zeugma!]
Bush steers the government’s budget, as well as my uterus.
Bush cannot conceive of life’s complexities, yet his political allies wants you to--every time you have sex.
Those last two were atrocious; I just couldn't seem to work the anti-choice theme in properly. Ah, well. I know there's something good out there that uses "conceive" in both senses at once, and when I encounter it or make it up, my life will be complete.
2/10/2004 02:54:00 AM
MORE ON ZEUGMAS
Hugo managed to throw all these together in one sitting:
"My father often retreated to his study, where he did so."
"I went to the Playhouse to see my brother act, but I left in the
"Over a dinner of carp, that is all we did."
The last one's the best, no?
2/10/2004 02:41:00 AM
D & D EXPOSED
The dark underbelly of life among the role-playing elite.
Via Desert Cat, the Sultan of the Sands.
2/10/2004 02:35:00 AM
Monday, February 09, 2004
CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE
So around Friday night my husband made some sort of innocuous remark, and I snarled at him. He disappeared into his study for a while--presumably to consult his calendar, and determine whether it was PMS, or what--and came out to tell me he wanted to support this little gathering of friends I was having on Sunday (today)--and to ask, was there anything he could do to help?
He keeps good records. It was precisely two days too early for the earliest possible PMS. So he understood that it had been some time since we'd entertained at the house, and I was insecure about all my clutter (whether I'd get enough of it out of the way, whether my friends would care, whether the social worker who will be here in a few short months would conclude that Girls With Too Many Magazines Don't Deserve to Get Babies, whether life was too short, the will, too weak, the state of man too tragic, etc. etc.).
And I was in awe of him once again.
Furthermore, the gathering--an innocuous little get-together of my un- and underemployed friends to network and critique our resumes--was fairly successful, and the house is a few steps closer to being cleared out.
2/09/2004 01:36:00 AM
IT'S AWFUL, I TELL YOU.
Since we got DSL installed and I began hooking up to the net/web wirelessly I've noticed a certain flakiness in my connectivity when I'm in my den.
Once in a while it's bad enough that I think, "all right. I was doing better with dialup," and reposition myself in the dining room or the living room at the top of the stairs, closer to the electronic IV drip emanating from my husband's study. And it seems to help.
It's times like these that--sitting upright at the dining room table, or lounging on my couch--I feel closer to my pioneer forebears, those who had to cross and re-cross the Oregon Trail in covered wagons, bringing more people and supplies out here to the Gold Coast through the rugged terrain. Enduring thirst, hunger, and cold over the high mountain passes. I appreciate their suffering and privation more, having experienced the sting of pages that Take Too Long To Load, or e-mail that Won't Ship Out the First Time It's Sent.
(Somewhere in heaven, my great-great-grandfather is preparing a hazing for me: they'll make me pay, all right--when/if I get there.)
2/09/2004 01:21:00 AM
Thursday, February 05, 2004
Today's assignment is to create a zeugma. The idea is to use a word correctly, but in two different ways. The classic example is, as I recall, from Alexander Pope:
"Where the Queen doth sometimes council take,
And sometimes tea."
The word "take" is used in two different ways there, and it's elegant and pure because the word is only used once. Triticale offers:
"Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a wish. Today is a gift: that's why they call it the present."
Present is, of course, a zeugma--and beyond that, a pun.
And then there's this one, often credited to Woody Allen:
"Time flies like an arrow;
Fruit flies like a banana."
The original meaning of a zeugma, of course, is closest to the Pope construction: use the word in two ways at the very same time. You're less likely to come up with a hit-you-over-the-head pun and more likely to create a subtle little wordplay.
Merriam-Webster's online gives this definition:
"the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one (as in 'opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy')."
E-mail me your very best ones, and I'll post 'em.
UPDATE: Davey Purkinje tells me that the zeugma about fruit flies is actually generally attributed to Thomas Hunt Morgan, the father of modern genetics. I knew this, of course, and was just testing him.
2/05/2004 11:07:00 AM
ATTILA IN AN APRON:
KNOW THY FREEZER
Heather at Angelweaving is upset about pork chops that were supposed to last through Wednesday but did not. It turns out that one cannot trust those "sell by" dates. Confound it--but I'll use this occasion to preach, so I can later use this material in the cookbook I'm writing.
How do I handle the meat freshness issue? So glad you asked. In my house, ninety percent of meat gets frozen before it's used. The remainder gets consumed within 48 hours or so of coming in the door (the exception is turkey, of course, which takes forever to defrost). If the meat comes in a large, standard package, it gets divided into smaller portions before going into the freezer. Otherwise, if it's two chicken breasts or a pound of beef (some nice small unit like that), it goes in as is, even if I'll only be defrosting it a few days later. The best value is often "flash-frozen" boneless skinless breasts, which are frozen individually, and can be defrosted one or two at a time.
This system requires that 24-48 hours before each meal, I defrost whatever I'm going to be making. I usually also take this time to check ingredients to see that I have everything on hand (if not, procuring those missing items gets folded into the following day's errands).
So on Friday night, I'll often defrost the meat for dinner on Saturday and Sunday nights.
Here's where it doesn't work: when I'll actually be making hamburger patties and cooking them on the grill (for where else would you cook them?). Patties seem to hold together best when made with fresh, never-frozen meat. (I know I could use a binding agent, like egg, but I prefer not to.) So during the summer hamburger gets picked up the day before I cook it--or that very day. This is just as well, as grilled burgers want to be accompanied by fresh corn, which should also be bought that same day. As a matter of fact, one is just always buying food during the summer, since the produce is wonderful, and it's a crime not to haunt the farmer's markets and get lots of lovely fruits and vegetables. It always feels like one's getting more stuff about every ten minutes. But ya just gotta.
Freezers, people. Use your freezers.
2/05/2004 01:42:00 AM
IT WANTED TO HAPPEN
Finally got the DSL installed a few days ago. At least, it's on two-thirds of the machines in my house (since it's not working on my husband's laptop, he hasn't sent 'round his change of address e-mail yet; we're just one part shy--we hope--of full success there).
I must be the most naive person in the world. I thought that when I finally got high-speed internet access, I would spend less time online, since I would be able to "make the rounds" more quickly. But of course I'm spending more time online, since it's so much more pleasurable to surf the web, click on all those links I'd denied myself . . . you know.
I used to wish that I had a sort of internet IV drip. But since I'm wirelessly connected to the DSL modem, I all I really need is a chip in my brain so I can read everyone's entries more or less as they write them.
Reality, it appears, is for people who cannot handle the world wide web.
2/05/2004 12:47:00 AM
OH. NO PROBLEM.
No difficulty at all living up to this one, from the "which Founding Father are you?" quiz:
Hat tip to Desert Cat.
2/05/2004 12:29:00 AM
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
BIGGER THAN ANY D-CUP
The real story on this year's Super Bowl.
Via the We Try Guy. And worth remembering.
2/03/2004 12:43:00 AM
Monday, February 02, 2004
NOTHING LIKE THE SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOW
. . . to make one feel like a nerd. I've never once had the urge to place a piece of jewelry on either of my nipples. And the only holes therein were placed by mother nature herself.
2/02/2004 11:45:00 PM