Monday, November 29, 2004

I Love This Picture

We watched "Shrek" last night, and I'm reminded very much of Lord Farquaad on his horse, wearing his fake legs.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

"The Last Samurai"

We watched this Saturday night. I was struck by its similarity to David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia". In each picture, the main character is a Western military officer sent into a completely foreign Eastern culture. In each picture, the main character confounds expectations by proving to be a brilliant warrior on behalf of the native tribal culture. And in each picture the main character is a homosexual.

Or was I the only one to notice that?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thanks For All the Papadams

There's so much to be thankful for in the last few days.

Thanks, Scooter, for the camera. It died on Thanksgiving day; it served me all too briefly, but very well while it lasted, and I would not dream of complaining. If you'd like, I'll give it back so Eryn can drag it around the yard per the original plan.

Thanks, arsi, for the music. Great stuff.

Thanks, Kirby, for challenging me. I will find and read that book.

Thanks, Kevin, for offering to take back CDFFL. Oh, wait -- I was hallucinating again, wasn't I?

Thanks, Ming, for all of your help and wonderful work, and for your great comments on my annual review. Would you like to take over CDFFL?

Thanks, Lisa, for lol'ing even when I'm not funny. In other words, most of the time.

Thanks, Cyn, for reminding me daily that Red states aren't just Red people.

Thanks, Meggie, for offering me the #2 slot on the 2012 Megocratic ticket based on looks alone. That made me feel all warm inside, and I never thanked you. (Have you scheduled your Lasik yet?)

Thanks, CompUSA, for having just enough of those $30 hard drives in stock so that I could see someone grab the last two just as I got to the shelf at 6:05 Friday morning. (Okay, not really sincere gratitude. I'm winding down.)

Thanks to those not mentioned, for things not mentioned. You know who you are. If you don't, check your wallet; there's probably a driver's license or library card in there somewhere.

Thanksgiving day was supposed to begin for us with a stint as "Meals-on-Wheels" delivery people, dropping off complete turkey-day dinners to families in need. We did this last year, and felt that it was an appropriate and uplifting way to spend a portion of our Thanksgiving. It is, I suppose, a good thing that so many volunteers showed up that we were turned away without a delivery route. Damn all those good-hearted people. Next year we need a back-up plan, or a whole different place to help out

Although this disappointment started the day in hollow fashion, we quickly made up for that by baking a pumpkin pie and a cheesecake. Nothing takes the edge off of disappointment like a rich dessert.

But we couldn't eat dessert until we'd had supper. Since Kristi is a strict lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and Emma mostly is (we've explained about the gelatin in Jello and marshmallows, but kids have to draw the line somewhere), we've haven't done a "traditional" Thanksgiving meal since we left family behind and moved to Minnesota. We've tried various things along the way, but this year, like most years, we had Indian food. Channa dal (curried chickpeas), raiti (cucumber/yogurt salad), sambar masala (spicy lentil soup, a new addition to our Indian menu), mango chutney, basmati rice, and papadams.

This time out, Kristi picked up a different brand of papadams than we usually use. Unaccountably, they feature a pink bunny on the packaging. I dusted off the old Casio digicam and took a picture. (Yes, it's a really old digicam, a Casio QV-11; this image is full size, right out of the camera, in its full .12 megapixel glory. But it, too, was a freebie. I'm hoping for a modern camera for my birthday.)

By the way, I can state for the record that pink bunnies fry up real yummy.

And now, this morning, our new garage is getting its first real dusting of snow. I'd take a picture, but you've seen our garage, and you've seen snow. Besides, you'd be amazed how long it takes to download a .12 megapixel image from this dinosaur.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

An Explanation

In the comments for this post, Kirby states:

I have to stand up and say that "evolution" as a theory has NOT been supported by evidence. There is some evidence that points to it, yes, but there are just as many questions as there are answers. There are plenty of dotted lines on the charts.

I'm NOT saying that creationism has any fewer problems, or anything like that.

But evolution is not fact.
I feel I have to explain myself here, because I like Kirby. More than that, I respect him for his sincere faith -- even though I don't share anything like it -- and admire him for the way he acts on that faith.

Contrary to Kirby's position, though, I would argue that the theory of evolution is, in fact, awash in evidentiary support. There is abundant fossil evidence consistent with the theory, and I'm frankly (and blissfully) unaware of any fossil evidence that contradicts it. Whether "there are just as many questions as there are answers" depends on somebody counting both. Clearly there are plenty of gaps in the fossil record, and I don't know anyone who would claim otherwise. However, that's a far cry from saying that evolution isn't supported by the evidence.

On the other hand, I'm not aware of any objective evidence that supports the theory of creationism. Please point me to some. I'm perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that the theory of intelligent design has merit -- though I have issues with a God who would design something as inherently flawed as the human knee, to say nothing of my lower back -- but that's not at all what I was talking about in my previous post. I was specifically referring to the "[f]orty-five percent of Americans [who] believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago." To the best of my knowledge, there's absolutely nothing to support this assertion but blind faith, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

I was unnecessarily blunt, and inconsiderate, in my previous post. I don't mean to say that people of faith are, by reason of that faith, stupid. But when that faith leads them to deny abundant empirical evidence in favor of a book that claims to be the word of God (and has no obvious support for that claim outside of the claim itself), I frankly think that they're veering away from rational thought. And now I've insulted them again. But there it is; that's where I stand on it. And to me, it helps explain a clearly irrational (and frightening) decision by the voters of this nation.

Next week, MeanMrMustard insults Taoists. Don't miss it!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Wait! I can't salute while throwing up!

Courtesy No More Mister Nice Blog: just one more step toward fascism.

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Why John Kerry Lost

Many on the Left have been struggling with this question -- constructing elaborate conspiracy theories, analyzing exit polling data and otherwise wasting their valuable time.

Thankfully, the good folks at Gallup have provided us with the answer. Why did John Kerry lose? Because Americans are as dumb as posts, that's why.
Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.
Well, there you go. Given that Bush only had to pull a paltry 11% of the non-Creationist vote in order to get his 51% "mandate", I'd say Kerry did pretty damned well.

Okay, Blue-staters. Back to work on secession.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Good Stuff

I was going to share these with some friends via email or chat, but then I remembered -- I've got this blog. Hello, blog.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Remote Control Hunting

My blogless friend Scott sent me a link to this story, about an enterprising Texan who may soon be offering the opportunity to shoot and kill animals using your web browser.

Sigh. What's the justification for hunting again? I forget.

It's not that I'm opposed to technological advance or anything. I just think that the wanton killing of innocent animals is wrong, no matter how you do it. Oh, no. I think we should put the rifle here, for example. Or here. If you're going to do this, do it right.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Life Updates

Rambis and Smudge are getting along okay.

Conversely, Izzy and Smudge aren't getting along okay at all. I'd show photographic proof, but that would require that they be in the same room at the same time, so I can't. I apologize for Ram's washed-out face; if I were a real photographer, you could see her beautiful green-gold eyes.

The flu vaccine shortage having mitigated, at least locally, Kristi has her first vaccination clinic today (high risk patients only).

Emma had her second sleepover in as many nights, spending last night with the next-door neighbors. Kristi and I watched "The Magdalene Sisters," which is a sure cure for nostalgia for Irish Catholicism, if you've got any.

Friday, November 12, 2004

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

Kristi isn't much for non-linear movies, and so wasn't enamored of this film -- although she didn't hate it either. On her Charlie Kaufman spectrum, it ranks below "Adaptation" and above "Being John Malkovich" -- we've only seen those three.

Of those three, this is my favorite. And that had nothing whatsoever to do with Kirsten Dunst dancing in her panties, though I've yet to actually see that hurt a film. If you haven't seen this, do.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

"Whoa" indeed

arsi has found the coolest commercial ever.

Warning: this commercial may not be suitable for people under the age of 35.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Political Geography 101

For some reason, I'm feeling particularly pissy tonight about the election. I expect I'll feel this way, for some reason, every night for the next four years or so -- barring impeachment, which seems unlikely with a Republican-controlled House, a Republican-controlled Senate and (most conveniently) no independent counsel law on the books. But I digress.

Because I'm feeling pissy, I present you with the following.

Here's a map of the Election Night 2004 results as they stand today.

Okay. Courtesy of the marvelous Kevin Drum, here's a map of which states are net contributers to the federal budget, versus those that get more from the federal government than they pay in.

Not too different, is it? It seems that, for the most part, those nasty liberals on the West Coast, Lakes Superior and Michigan, and the northern Atlantic coast are paying everybody else's way.

Let's move on. Here's a map of the "slave" and "free" territories prior to the Civil War. Green represents free states and territories, red is slave states, and yellow is territories open to slavery.

It might not be fair to characterize the West Coast, the Great Lakes states and the Northeast as more or less enlightened, and the South, the plains states and the Rocky Mountain states as ignorant racist hicks. So I won't. Feel free to do so yourself, if you like.

Finally, let's look at the intelligence of the electorate, as compared to their voting patterns (borrowed from Christopher Evans).
StateAvg. IQ 2004
3New Jersey111Kerry
4New York109Kerry
5Rhode Island107Kerry
8New Hampshire105Kerry
33North Carolina93Bush
34West Virginia93Bush
38New Mexico92Bush
39North Dakota92Bush
45South Dakota90Bush
46South Carolina89Bush

From all of this, I suppose one might reasonably conclude that Kerry voters are enlightened, intelligent and self-reliant, while Bush voters are bigoted, stupid and love to suck at the government's teat. As I said, I'm in a pissy mood. But I think this sort of data must say something about why people vote the way they do.

Useful Tips for Life

When replacing a watch battery that requires you to remove half a dozen teeny tiny screws with a jeweler's screwdriver, make absolutely certain that your kitten is in the other room with the door shut.


The price we pay ...

Back in September, we transferred Emma from her French Immersion elementary school to a "Gifted/Talented" magnet school. We did this for several reasons. First of all, we had the option; lots of qualified kids end up too far down the waiting list. Second, Emma wanted to do it; though she liked L'Etoile du Nord, she thought this school would be great. Third, the school has an "integrated" junior high, meaning that Emma can stay there for a good long time. Fourth, it's the kind of school we would have loved to go to as kids -- lots of hands-on projects, less structure, lots of cool stuff happening all the time. Fifth, there's a five-day afterschool French program on-site at the school, so Emma can continue to work on French if she wants.

Emma got an assignment last week: make a map or model of her bedroom. She was required to include symbols, a legend to explain the symbols, a scale, and a compass rose.

People! These are first graders! What are you thinking?!? Teach them to read, write, add and subtract, please.

Anyway, the assignment didn't get started until yesterday, the day before it was due. And of course, Emma didn't want to do a mere map; she wanted to build a little diorama of her room in a cardboard box. Naturally, what should have taken an hour or two chewed up the entire day. As we try to explain to Emma how to make a three-dimensional representation of her dresser, she's playing with Smudge or doing some other useless thing. The project chewed up at least six hours.

Here's the end result. The whole experience proves to me that the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test, which was used to determine Emma's status, is weighted rather heavily to favor procrastination -- an area in which Emma is, unquestionably, gifted.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Kitten Blogging

It's been an interesting two weeks.

Some six-year-olds are ready for a kitten. We thought, having had cats around her from the beginning, that Emma would be one of those. She assured us she was. She really isn't.

Add to that Smudge's sudden onset of severe diarrhea and a respiratory infection, and we were prepared for the inevitability of returning him to the shelter. The last thing we wanted was for our old, fragile girls to get sick from something the kitten brought with him.

But with medication, both the sneezing fits and the diarrhea passed. Emma still treats Smudge more like an annoying younger brother than an adored pet, but we can live with that. So Smudge stays. And I'm glad -- despite his annoying ways.

Oh, and he does have annoying ways. He cries for wet food constantly, despite an ample supply of dry food. If you get anywhere near the kitchen counter, he uses you for a ladder -- which means you'd better be wearing something baggy and skin-covering. And you'd best not be standing between him and wet food, or he'll chew right through you, hissing all the way. I think we should have named him "Stitch" -- he bears a striking resemblance.

One funny/scary incident: we have a gas log in our fireplace, and it's hard to remember sometimes that it actually was a functional fireplace at one time, burning wood or perhaps coal. Under the gas log (which is so low that only a kitten could even think of getting under it) is a metal trap-door used to sweep ashes into a basement ash pit. Do I need to tell you the rest? Didn't think so. (I've since put a metal plate over the trap-door.)

Friday, November 05, 2004

How To Break the 48% Barrier

As previously noted, some good talk going on on Cyn's blog. But I'm posting this here because, damn it, I need the traffic. :)

TalkLeft has reprinted this email describing the day of a typical Republican. And while it's apparently inflammatory (see the comments), I think there's something valuable here, that being: "Joe" is the voter we need. "Joe" owes a great deal to the liberals and progressives. But "Joe" doesn't know it; all he knows is that liberals are Saddam-loving people who want to overtax him in order to pay for gay weddings, because that's what is drummed into his head, day after day after day.

It won't benefit Democrats to reach out to the middle by becoming more Republican. All that does is validate Ralph Nader, and the last thing we need is Nader out there saying that Democrats and Republicans are the same, and being right.

No, the correct way to reach out to the undecided, and the moderate conservatives, isn't to change; rather, it's to show them the truth about liberalism. Liberalism isn't there just to protect and benefit gays, or blacks, or illegal aliens, or drug users. Liberalism is there to protect and benefit hunters, and home-schoolers, and right-wing radio talk show hosts. Sure, we want to tax you. So does the Right. The difference is, Liberals want to spend your tax dollars to to protect and benefit everyone, not just give it to the top 1%.

How do we reach "Joe" with that message? AirAmerica is certainly a start, but it's only that -- because I sincerely doubt "Joe" is listening. I don't have the answer; I'm just asking the question. But I think it's the right question.

I Don't Get It

How come in the last three weeks or so, every spammer in creation has decided that I no longer need a treatment for erectile dysfunction, but that I do need a Rolex?

The funny thing is, I already have a Rolex. I don't wear it. Why don't they offer me something that I don't have, but really want?

I can't decide what's saddest here ...

The fact that this happened, the fact that somebody will lose his or her job over it, or the fact that this seems to be the most potent attack we can wage against Bush.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I have lots of words inside, but few are getting out. In the meantime, please read Cyn's blog; she's made some insightful comments, as have her readers.

For now, I leave you with this, courtesy of my pal Jim:

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

Kristi reports that the line for voting at the church across the street was out of the building and down the block several hundred feet. At 7:15 in the morning. In the rain.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Not feeling very bloggy right now, but I have to post these: Emma as a slightly deranged French artiste:

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