Sunday, December 30, 2007

Seven True Lies?

UPDATE: The lie is revealed, and there is info about each true statement in the Comments. Thanks again for playing!

Randal tagged me with the Seven Deadly Lies meme, in which you tell seven lies about yourself. I remembered that I did something similar a couple of years ago - it was a meme called True Lies, in which you list four things about yourself, three of which are true, and one is a lie. People would try to guess which one was the lie.

I'm going to do the seven lies meme with a twist - I'll list seven things about myself, but only six of them are true. You guess which is the lie. Here goes:

1. I've been married three times.

2. I've had two house fires.

3. I've been in an earthquake.

4. I've been in a tornado.

5. I can't drive a stick shift.

6. I once met Pete Townshend.

7. I'm afraid of cows.

I tag Mandlebrot's Chaos, Seshat, and Pooks.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Post post

I love the responses from everyone to the last post - thank you! I'll respond here instead of in Comments.

Mary Ellen raises the point that Jesus, like George Washington, was a real historical person, and not an invention. Of course that's right, and I'm sorry for not being more clear. I did not mean to imply that historical persons were inventions, only the theology that surrounds them. Was Jesus the Son of God? Was Buddha The Enlightened One? Was Mohammad God's Holy Prophet? These are theological questions. (The "Big Hairy Thunderer," along with Zeus and Oden, for example, are inventions, however.) The theology that is connected to deity(ies) is the part that is man-made. I am sensitive to the fact that people who are devoted to any one of these are sincere and fervent in their belief that, for example, Jesus is the Messiah. That is a matter of faith, and it is quite profound and very personal. (I know; I've been there.) It is faith, not fact. You could not prove it to a Muslim any more than a Muslim could prove to you that Jesus was not divine, but only a minor prophet. If any of this could be proved, we wouldn't have had all these wars over it. What I want to point out is that the theology that surrounds religious figures was invented. For example, it wasn't until almost 400 years after the death of Jesus that the church fathers sat down and decided which books to include, and to exclude, in a bible. Over the centuries since that time, people kept killing each other over the contents of that book, a book which was put together by committee.

Dan wondered if my post was saying that religion serves no real purpose to humanity. Tom Harper mentioned the question over whether or not religion is "hard-wired" into us. Garnie says now she wants to go read more Joseph Campbell. Randal says this (religion) is a way of explaining things. I think all of these comments are tied together. We don't know yet if humanity is hard-wired for religion. What seems evident is that intelligent beings want to explain things - they are intelligent enough to ask questions and speculate about the answers. As Niose's article pointed out, there is evidence that even Neanderthals had religion. Joseph Campbell's outstanding work examines man's quest for purpose and meaning.

I think there is a real need inside of us to know "Who's in charge." Going off on my own tangent now about this, I think this need is one of survival. We are primates, and we live in tribes. We call them countries now, but essentially, we are tribal. Tribes have social structure, and must have leaders. It's a matter of survival to know exactly who is in charge, because if we don't, we run the terrible risk of accidentally pissing that person off. The penalty could be severe - anything from death to being ostracized. Therefore, as a matter of survival, we must know who's in charge. Not only that, we must know what the rules are.

Imagine that you are the leader of a primitive tribe. You got there by being the strongest. You kept your power because you are savvy. Like all tribal groups, you, as leader, have a few select lieutenants around you to enforce your wishes. They've got your back. Now say that there's a great thunderstorm and everyone is afraid (including yourself, but you don't show that because it's a sign of unacceptable weakness in a leader.) Lightening strikes the tree that one of the tribe members is sitting in, and he is killed. Everyone wants to know why - why was Ernie struck down, and not Joe? Everyone is frightened, traumatized. They come to you demanding an answer. What are you going to tell them? Either you or one of your homeboys had better come up with something. It's easy to see how the theology of a Big Hairy Thunderer is born. Even the leader needs to have a Leader. He can promote one of his lieutenants to priest (shaman, medicine man, etc.) to intervene with the BHT, and the priest - usually with the assistance of some magic herbal sacrament - tells everyone what the rules are. It was the BHT's will that Ernie be struck down by a mighty lightening bolt, as punishment for some infraction - did not everyone see Ernie hoarding food last week? Well, there ya go... Hey, someone points out, Joe did stuff even worse than Ernie, yet he lives - what about that? Oh, well - the BHT works in mysterious ways, and in fact, now that you've questioned Him, you'd better look out the next time He brings a storm. In fact, why don't you all STFU and we, the Church, will tell you, the ignorant masses, what to believe. And so on.

The point of Niose's article was that we no longer need to rely on theology to explain what we don't understand. To go back to the epilepsy example in the previous post, it must have been scary to watch people having seizures, and because we are such a curious species, we needed to know why. Demonic possession seemed to fit the bill, until - centuries later - we discovered that epilepsy is a disease, just as plague is a disease, not a divine scourge. This is the progress spoken of, the freedom to discover what is, as opposed to what has been conjured.

These subjects fascinate me. I know there's lots more to discuss, and I appreciate everyone's viewpoints. It's great to be able to discuss this stuff in a non-hostile manner. I hope we don't get a troll.

Speaking of trolls, and to address the question of how atheists are perceived in this society, take a look at this letter to the editor that I Stumbled upon. (I also ran across a poll somewhere stating that most Americans would rather have a (gasp!) homosexual president than an atheist president. Atheists are in the last closet.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Post-Theological Era

Have you ever struggled to find just the right word to express a concept? Of course you have, and writers, especially, are familiar with that thrilling eureka! moment when The Precise Word presents Itself. (Oh yes, writers have thrilling moments, too.)

I've had a concept rattling around the dusty floor of my brain for at least a year now that I just couldn't adequately express. It concerns my atheism. Now see, right there? That word, "atheism?" It means "without theism," and that was the word I used for myself because it was the only one I knew. But it wasn't quite right. I toyed with "nontheist" for a while, but that didn't exactly fit the concept, either.

When you say you're an atheist, people immediately want to argue the existence/non-existence of deity(ies.) That always set off my unnamed concept. It would shake off the dust rhinos clinging to it and start rattling around rather loudly. "No, no , no!" it insisted. "Look at the big picture, look beyond the deity bit because that's only a small part of my conceptness." So, I would try to tell the theist, "Step way back and look at this whole dang thing in a larger context." I would say, "Look up." Meaning, realize that this planet is only one of billions of other waterworlds out there with sapient beings on it. Do you suppose they are all actually arguing over whether females can be in the clergy, or if it's okay to be gay? Don't waste your life on this crap. Broaden your outlook for ricecakes! At which point, I only annoyed the theist and got myself all worked up because I couldn't express my concept properly.

Until now. I may still annoy the theists, but at least I can clearly express my concept and move beyond the existence/non-existence thingy. I subscribe to The Humanist magazine, and in an article in the latest issue (Jan.-Feb. 2008) I found The Precise Word to express the concept. Okay, okay - it's two words, but it's hyphenated, so it's permitted, gimme a break.

The article is The Post-Theological Umbrella, by David Niose, board member and treasurer of the American Humanist Association. Niose's article focuses on the poor image we atheists have and how it adversely affects the advancement of humanism. At a recent conference, he met a woman who said, "When people ask me about atheism, I just tell them I consider myself post-theological."

Post-Theological. Eureka! [imagine my joy] Niose points out that (according to a 2001 survey) "over 13 percent of the population identifies as secular/nonreligious, but only 1 percent identify as atheist, agnostic, or humanist." It seems to be a question of labels, so if we put all of the labels under one umbrella, then probably more people would feel comfortable identifying themselves as post-theological.

My concept wasn't concerned so much with labels, though, but with how to say, "Let's move on to the big picture." The "big picture" is this:

The period before humans became intelligent enough to ask, "Why are we here, and Who's in charge?" might be called the "pre-theological" stage.

When we advanced enough to ask those questions, we began to speculate on the answers. Thus, the theology of The Big Hairy Thunderer evolved, as well as many, many others over time. This might be called the "theological stage." (The more knowledge we gained, the more our theology had to be altered. For example, we discovered that epilepsy is a disease, not a manifestation of demonic possession.)

Now, we are entering (just barely) the post-theological stage of our development. "By calling herself post-theological," Niose says about the woman he met at the conference, "she isn't making the rejection of God-belief the key ingredient in her identity; she is pointing out that, from a historical perspective, theological inquiry itself is no longer a valid means of finding truth or morality." This expresses that concept I had rattling around in my head perfectly. I am post-theological.

It is interesting to read about the various theologies that mankind has come up with over the eons. Interesting from a historical perspective, but not relevant because each theology was invented. Once we let go of our emotional attachment to whatever variety of Thunderer we believed in, we are truly free to look beyond what we have conjured and see what we can discover about what is. Now we are in the realm of science. We are free to look up, without bias, preconceived notions, or (if in a fully post-theological world), persecution. (As Niose suggests, "Given time, the image of atheism in America might improve, as people slowly realize that atheists are more likely to be found in research labs than in prisons or drug hideouts.")

I'll be writing more about this from time to time. I think it's important, especially now that it looks like another Fundie nutjob is going to be the Republican front-runner. We simply must move beyond the theological stage if we're going to survive as a species (it may already be too late.)

I leave you with this latest gem from Fundies Say the Darndest Things:

[> Right. We spend a few years growing a tree and all the Christians can
> think of is killing the tree, dragging it inside, covering it with
> unsafe electrical wiring, and then throwing it away after about a
> month. If I had my way, I would correct such ecologically incorrect
> bad habits and make Christians plant trees instead of killing them. ]

You didn't grow the tree. Show me a Jew that is anywhere near a
Christmas tree farm and I will show you a Jew masquerading as a
Christian.

In any case, your interference with our rights is why you all ought to
be either deported back to Jewistan or sent up the smokestacks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kitchen Sink




Ooh! Tomcat's parents gave us iPods for Christmas! The first thing I downloaded? LIVE AT LEEDS, Deluxe Edition. Best live album ever. Definitive My Generation. Serious Magic Bus. Shakin' All Over. Young Man Blues. Raw, pure, back when Keith Moon and John "Thunderfingers" Entwhistle were still alive. Great banter between Pete and Keith. Deluxe edition includes the "new" rock opera, Tommy. Best ever "Sparks."

Check it out, here , also here (for a bit about the follow-up Live at Leeds II).

---------------------------------------------------

A man ahead of his time: J. Edgar (Who needs habeas corpus?) Hoover, who wanted to round up 12,000 Americans shortly after the Korean War began.
Check it out, here.


---------------------------------------------------

From the Fundies Say the Darndest Things department, we learn:

There are four main religions in this country that are engaged in a holy war against Christianity. The number one religion, The Abortion Charismatics.The abortion religion in truth has as its foundation the worshipping of anti-submission to men. These death Stalinists use accusations of oppression as their guardian while marching on, putting the sword to the enemy, the trespassing fetus. Conversly, The Bible advises us to choose life and states that those who side with death are with the devil.

Religion number two, The Orthodox Homosexuals. The homosexual hit squad, they worship immoral sex and preach its acceptance with a formidable vigor. The religion of orgasms, just as long as you partake with someone of the same gender.

Religion number three, The Pentecostal Environmentalists. They worship myths and have as their god mother nature. This includes the global warming cash cow. They worship animals, the same animals God instructed us to subdue in Genesis. They worship the earth, the same earth God advises us in the Bible not to love due to the fact that it is fallen and ruled by Satan.

And the forth religion, The United Church of Envy. The religion of envy has as its decree welfare, social programs of all kinds, and higher taxes. It wishes to crucify anyone who is successful. The wealth of others is condemned. They fiercely seek conversion, not conversion of souls...conversion of other people?s money - to themselves. This faction is represented by Poverty Pastors from all status levels in society.

The Mega Church of Liberalism houses all these religions. They are extremely tolerant of any religion so long as its not that of the true God. Their enemy is not Satan as in Christianity, but their common enemy is in fact Christ. Hence the unity among the various religions.Their strategy is to incrementally replace Christianity with their false gods and religions of idolatry. At the same time they are attempting to diminish the credibility of God of the Bible and of Christianity.
---------------------------------------------------

And finally, here's "my" Cranberry Chutney recipe, from Cooking Light Magazine:

Cranberry Chutney

Ingredients

1 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sugar
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Serve with turkey, chicken, roast pork, or ham.

Note: Refrigerate remaining chutney.

Yield

4 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup)

------------------------------------------------

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More idiocy from the TEA




In a previous previous post, here, there was the story about the Texas Education Agency forcing the resignation of its Science Curriculum Director, Christine Comer, because she might have suggested a bias toward science. Yes, you read that right - a bias toward science.

Now read this, reported in The New York Times:



Green Light for Institute on Creation in Texas
Published: December 19, 2007

HOUSTON — A Texas higher education panel has recommended allowing a Bible-based group called the Institute for Creation Research to offer online master’s degrees in science education.

The action comes weeks after the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer, lost her job after superiors accused her of displaying bias against creationism and failing to be “neutral” over the teaching of evolution.

The state’s commissioner of higher education, Raymund A. Paredes, said late Monday that he was aware of the institute’s opposition to evolution but was withholding judgment until the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board meets Jan. 24 to rule on the recommendation, made last Friday, by the board’s certification advisory council.

Henry Morris III, the chief executive of the Institute for Creation Research, said Tuesday that the proposed curriculum, taught in California, used faculty and textbooks “from all the top schools” along with, he said, the “value added” of challenges to standard teachings of evolution.






“Where the difference is, we provide both sides of the story,” Mr. Morris said. On its Web site, the institute declares, “All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week” and says it “equips believers with evidences of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework.”

It also says “the harmful consequences of evolutionary thinking on families and society (abortion, promiscuity, drug abuse, homosexuality and many others) are evident all around us.”

Asked how the institute could educate students to teach science, Dr. Paredes, who holds a doctorate in American civilization from the University of Texas and served 10 years as vice chancellor for academic development at the University of California, said, “I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.”

He said he had no ready explanation for the panel’s recommendation. “I asked about the decision,” Dr. Paredes said Monday in a phone interview from Austin. “I got a three-inch-thick folder an hour ago. We’re going to give it a full review.” But, he said, “If it’s approved, we’ll make sure it’s of high quality.”

Approval would allow the institute, which moved to Dallas this year from near San Diego, to offer the online graduate program almost immediately while seeking accreditation from national academic authorities like the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges within two years.

In California, the only other state where Mr. Morris said the institute was offering degrees, it won recognition from the state superintendent of public instruction in 1981 but was denied license renewal in 1988. The institute sued and in 1992 won a $225,000 settlement that allowed it to continue offering degrees; it now operates under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Dr. Morris said his program was accredited by the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, which is not recognized by Texas.

Last month, in a sign that Texas was being drawn deeper into creationism controversy, Ms. Comer, 57, was put under pressure to resign as science director after forwarding an e-mail message about a talk by a creationism critic, Barbara Forrest, a professor at Southeastern Louisiana State University.

Lizzette Reynolds, a deputy commissioner who called for Ms. Comer’s dismissal, later told The Austin American-Statesman she was surprised she resigned. Ms. Reynolds did not respond to a message left at her office.

The Texas Education commissioner, Robert Scott, told The Dallas Morning News that Ms. Comer was not forced out over the message, adding, “You can be in favor of science without bashing people’s faith.” He did not return phone calls to his office.

Ms. Comer said the commissioner should show her where she was bashing anyone’s faith. “He just doesn’t get it,” she said.



Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Weird-ass Wednesday #9


I recently Stumbled this gem, which is a list of Useful Condescending Phrases. You're welcome.

  1. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
  2. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
  3. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
  4. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  5. I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care.
  6. I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  7. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?
  8. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
  9. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  10. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
  11. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
  12. Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
  13. No, my powers can only be used for good.
  14. How about never? Is never good for you?
  15. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
  16. You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication.
  17. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  18. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message...
  19. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
  20. Who me? I just wander from room to room.
  21. My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!
  22. It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm really quite busy.
  23. At least I have a positive attitude about my destructive habits.
  24. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
  25. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  26. Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject.
I love Stumble! By the way, if you become, or already are, a Stumbler, did you know that you can give a thumbs-up whenever you run across a site you like? You know, like, say, someone's BLOG? Ahem.
________________________________

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Drabble

Pooks tagged me with this one.

Write a drabble, which is a story containing exactly 100 words. It does not have to be a poem. (my word count includes the title)

This is about our new cat, named Shadow. Click here for a pic.


A Cat's Tale

I lived on the street
in summer's heat and winter's sleet.

I was sealed in an attic
by a local fanatic.

After a three-week fast
I was rescued at last

And given a home, so lovely, so nice
(except for the diet, which doesn't have mice.)

I've gained some weight 'round my middle.
I have my own place to piddle,

Plus a shelf at the window for sunning
and toys that are squeaky and cunning.

It's a big house to roam
with a bed of my own.

Say, life's pretty good
since I left the 'hood!


I tag John.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just wondering

Just wondering ...
(click links for the full story)

Why Joe Lieberman is such an asswipe.

What the hell happened to the Dallas Cowboys last night.
Tell me it wasn't because Jessica Simpson was there in her little pink No. 9 jersey.

Why someone would call themselves Christian and write to an atheist website saying they hope the recipients enjoy getting AIDS.
Do they not, like, have a brain in their head?

How the hell did Courtney make it to the final three on Survivor?
Did she have a brain in her head, after all?

Why someone posing as Santa would write nasty, obscene letters to little kids.

How can Saudi King Abdullah think he's merciful for pardoning the VICTIM of rape?
She won't have to serve the usual sentence for being raped, which is six months in jail and 200 lashes.

What are you wondering about today?
_________________________________________

Friday, December 14, 2007

For your weekend perusal


To get into that Christmas spirit, I like to peruse the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities over at GoingJesus, a website run by the marvelously witty Sarah, former church lady secretary, divinity student, and now full-time mom and web geek. Enjoy!

Original Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

Second Cavalcade of Bad Nativities

Current Cavalcade of Bad Nativities


(Check the Current Cavalcade often - she adds a new bad nativity every day during Advent.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weird-ass Wednesday #8

Okay, this is possibly offensive to some people, but it's just ... so damn funny!

From Miss Poppy dot Com

Protect our troops - from the womb to the war. What if the fetus you were going to abort would grow up to be a soldier bringing democracy to a godless dictatorship? Plastic replica of an 11-12 week old fetus, 3" long, holding a firearm in its precious little hand, with an assortment of other military paraphernalia, encased in a translucent plastic ornament, with a patriotic yellow ribbon on top. Includes a metal ornament hanger. If only a womb were this safe, attractive and reasonably priced! Show that you support the "culture of life" by buying and proudly displaying one of these patriotic unborn Americans. Also available in a "Brown" model Note to the confused:This is a real product, from a real site. The product is a satire, but it is also a real product - FOR SALE. This is a real store.



Unborn Baby Ornament - US Troop Model
fetal attractions troop ornament



Dang - It's out of stock.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No wonder I feel rushed


Researchers: Human evolution speeding up

No wonder I feel rushed - according to a recent study of the human genome, our evolution is speeding up.

Get this: a mere 10,000 years ago (thousand, not million!), no one had blue eyes, most people had dark skin, and few people were able to metabolize cow's milk.

The protection of melatonin in darker skin was needed in equatorial Africa where the Sun's UVs are more plentiful. People who could metabolize cow's milk would have survived where food was scarce, and thus gone on to reproduce.

But the researchers wonder how blue eyes affected survival or reproduction. Isn't it obvious? Blue eyes are more attractive, so blue-eyed people would have attracted mates more easily than brown-eyed people.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Splotchy's Viral Theater

Splotchy's instructions:

"This has probably been done before, but that is not stopping me, oh no.

Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours."

++++++

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

I was used to the house being quite cold in the mornings, as the night log usually burns out around one AM when I am dreaming cozily under my covers, not normally waking to put a new one on until morning. I was surprised because on the rare occasions that it actually had reached sub-freezing temperatures in the house, I had awakened in the night to restart the fire. I would have been worried about the pipes before P-Day, but there hadn’t been running water in two years and that was one of the few advantages to being dependent on rainwater, no pipes. (Freida Bee)

Shivering, I moved through the cloud of my nearly-crystallizing breath over to the frost-encrusted window. Unable to see outside, I feebly attempted to brush the flakes away with my sleeve. I sighed, the warm exhalation upon the upper panes only further decreasing visibility. I thoughtlessly tried my fingernails, having forgotten that I continuously bite them when nervous. I've recently been nervous a lot. I didn't know why, and failed to give it a second thought. Shuffling across the well-worn wooden planks, strangely as cold as the jar, I opened a drawer to grab a spoon and begin the task at hand, chipping away at the frost. After some moments, I stopped to peek outside, managing to see only white. The window was again frozen.

There's no way it can be that cold, I thought to myself. I began to chip once more, with the same result. Frustrated, I sprinted the ten feet back to the drawer, taking a larger soup spoon and returned to my assault on the ice. Harder and harder I pushed the spoon into the wintry glaze, intermittently stopping to wipe the chill sweat from my brow, pushing harder, my arms flailing upwards, now coming down as if wielding an axe, ignoring the stinging salt of perspiration in my eyes, the ice growing along with my anger, overcome by a violence, a berserker rage, up and down I swung that makeshift blade into the white, into the red, grunting, screaming, my hands sliced open as the spoon blasted through the broken glass.

I didn't see anything but the dew-haunted lawn before I slumped down, fainting on the cold wooden floor. (Randal Graves)

I awoke to the touch of my cat, Scheiser, as he gently licked my cold cheek. His rough tongue against my cold, sensitive skin jolted me like electricity, popping my eyes wide open.

"Hey fella," I mumbled, propping myself up on one elbow. Scheiser purred in my ear, and I scratched his forehead with numb fingers.

I noticed the window was still encrusted with ice... if anything, it had thickened while I was out. I got myself onto all fours, then pulled myself up on the old couch. This was nuts. The lawn outside had been dew-laden, yet things were frozen in here.

Scheiser was at the kitchen door, meowing to be let out. Why not, I thought. Better to have him do his wretched business outside than in. Feeling sluggish, I shuffled to the door, unlocked it and opened it. Cool morning air filled my nostrils as I looked out on the front "yard"... not a speck of ice anywhere to be seen in the dirt and weeds. It actually seemed kind of balmy. I followed Scheiser outside into the day. (Snave)

"Scheiser," I said, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

"Nyerh," spoke Scheiser, rubbing against my legs.

I looked down and saw a drop of crimson on his glossy black fur. Blood was dripping from my hands. Another drop hit the cat, this time on his head, right between his ears. His whole body flinched in that way cats have of telling you that you are finished petting them, for now. He stalked off, flicking his tail, while I stared dumbly at my hands.

It was as if my brain had also frozen inside the house, and was just now beginning to thaw, because I suddenly remembered my insane attack on a defenseless jar of applesauce. I really must do something about my OCD, I thought, as I followed the blood splatters back to the kitchen.

The cold assaulted me as soon as I opened the door. I propped it open, sliding the antique iron doorstop over with one blood-splashed slipper. My teeth chattered, my breath sending frosty puffs ahead of me as I picked my way around the shattered glass. At the hall, I flipped the lightswitch with my elbow, not wanting to bloody the wall, but no light came on.

I trudged down the dark hallway to the bathroom. I grabbed a towel and wiped my hands. Despite all the blood, my hands weren't painful. They were numb with cold, but surely, I thought, not enough to anesthetize them? The bathroom window was frosted solid, but at least I had enough light to rummage for bandages in the deep wall cabinet.

Sha-whop! The walls rattled. I froze. I knew that sound. It was the slam of the kitchen door.

+++
Let's see ... I tag Pooks and Dan.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Texas State Science Curriculum Director, Chris Comer, resigned - well, more correctly, she was forced out - because she may have, possibly, you know, implied that the Texas Education Agency might have a slight bias against "intelligent design" by forwarding an email "announcing a presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse, a book that says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools .... Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities, saying, 'FYI.' " Well Jeebus Gawd, we can't have the Science Director for the entire State of Texas' public schools even suggesting that she is, like, pro-science, now can we? How dare she forward such an email, and put "FYI" on it!

The email upset TEA senior adviser Lizzette Reynolds, formerly deputy legislative director for then Governor Dumbya, that she immediately sent a memo to Comer's bosses. Ms. Reynolds felt this was so important that she sent it from her sickbed less than two hours after someone sent it to her at home. "This is highly inappropriate," Reynolds said in an e-mail to Comer's supervisors. "I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities. This is something that the State Board, the Governor's Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this [science?] is a subject that the agency supports."

They've forced Comer out just months before a scheduled comprehensive review of the Agency's curriculum. Coinkydink? I think not.

The article goes on to state:

State science curriculum director resigns
copyright By Laura Heinauer
AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Thursday, November 29, 2007

***

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which sent the original e-mail to Comer announcing the event, said Comer's situation seems to be a warning to agency employees.

"This just underscores the politicization of science education in Texas," Scott said. "In most states, the department of education takes a leadership role in fostering sound science education. Apparently TEA employees are supposed to be kept in the closet and only let out to do the bidding of the board."

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group that monitors state textbook content, said the group wants to know more about the case. The network has raised questions about past comments made by State Board of Education Chairman Don McLeroy about teaching creationism.

"It's important to know whether politics and ideology are standing in the way of Texas kids getting a 21st century science education," Miller said. "We've already seen a faction of the State Board of Education try to politicize and censor what our schoolchildren learn. It would be even more alarming if the same thing is now happening inside TEA itself."


---------------------------------------------------

Speaking of Christo-fascism, did you see the latest about Mike Huckabee? 'Seems back in 1992, as a candidate for the Senate, he wanted people with AIDS to be rounded up and quarantined.
"If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague."
"Plague?"

He also said back then that there was too much money going to find a cure for AIDS, and that if people like Elizabeth Taylor and Madonna wanted to do something about it, fine - let them donate from their own funds.

Now, however, as a Presidential candidate, Huckabee says he's in favor of funding through the NIH. On his website, he says:

"My administration will be the first to have an overarching strategy for dealing with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, with a partnership between the public and private sectors that will provide necessary financing and a realistic path toward our goals."
(I shudder to think what he really means by "our goals.")

Read the full article here.
----------------------------------------------------

Get ready for a rough ride in '08, America.
-----------------------------------------------------

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Color me gobsmacked

Finally, a presidential candidate said what needed to be said when it comes to politics and religion. The fact that this came from a Republican candidate, and MITT ROMNEY, of all people, leaves me gobsmacked.

Some quotes:

"Religious tolerance would be a shallow principle, indeed, if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree."

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution."

"No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."

"Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone." [Okay, I have no idea what he thinks he means here, but it's poetic and doesn't seem to be harmful, IMO]

"Like him [John F. Kennedy], I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith."

"If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States."


Well hallelujah! Of course, this speech of his will likely cost him the Fundies' vote (what? tolerance?), but I've got to give Romney credit for being the voice of reason on this issue.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dumber than Dumbya?


Did you see where Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee didn't know about the NIE Report yesterday? You know, the one Bush was hammered about in the press conference? Huckabee didn't know about it, and apparently didn't even know what it was. Here's the transcript:

Huckabee not aware of NIE report on Iran

My colleague David Paul Kuhn attended an on-the-record dinner with Mike Huckabee and a group of reporters tonight in Des Moines.

The transcript speaks for itself:

Kuhn: I don’t know to what extent you have been briefed or been able to take a look at the NIE report that came out yesterday ...

Huckabee: I’m sorry?

Kuhn: The NIE report, the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. Have you been briefed or been able to take a look at it —

Huckabee: No.

Kuhn: Have you heard of the finding?

Huckabee: No.

Kuhn then summarized the NIE finding that Iran had stopped work on a clandestine nuclear program four years ago and asked if it “adjusts your view on Iran in any sense."

Kuhn: What is your concern on Iran as of now?

Huckabee: I’ve a serious concern if they were to be able to weaponize nuclear material, and I think we all should, mainly because the statements of Ahmadinejad are certainly not conducive to a peaceful purpose for his having it and the fear that he would in fact weaponize it and use it. (He pauses and thinks) I don’t know where the intelligence is coming from that says they have suspended the program or how credible that is versus the view that they actually are expanding it. … [*] And I’ve heard, the last two weeks, supposed reports that they are accelerating it and it could be having a reactor in a much shorter period of time than originally been thought. [**]

Kuhn: Does the United States face a higher burden of proof on Iran in light of Iraq, in the international community?

Huckabee: Probably so. First time I’ve been asked a question like that. [***] But I think probably so because there is going to be a real anxiety for us to take any type of action without there being some very credible and almost irrefutable intelligence to validate our decision.

Kuhn: And then on the flip side of that. a conservative concern might be, does the United States, might they hedge, might they be timid from taking necessary aggressive action due to the failures of intelligence on Iraq, and our failures in Iraq itself?

Huckabee: I think that’s a possibility as well. And that would be unfortunate if we actually knew we needed to take action but were fearful of doing so because of getting burned in the Iraq situation. That would be a serious challenge for us.


Oh noes! I didn't think we could possibly see another Republican as dumb as Dumbya.


[*] Um, that would be from 16 different government agencies.
[**] Really? I guess that would have been from your little Talking Points Memo?
[***] He's apparently never given this any thought, either. I really couldn't take another four years of this shit.
____________________________________________

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tell Us Tuesday #17



Tell us, what's your favorite cookie?
Oh hell - who cares? Tell us something about your dark side! (Okay, you can tell us your favorite cookie, too.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sigh

I realize many bloggers will do posts about this story, and they'll even have witty commentary to accompany it. I just am not up to it. This is the same old shit, from the same old shitty administration, and more blood will be spilled because of it, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I can't think of anything to say about it other than that at the moment. I'm sorry. Here it is, in full:

Report contradicts Bush on Iran nuclear program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new U.S. intelligence report says Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and it remains on hold, contradicting the Bush administration's earlier assertion that Tehran was intent on developing a bomb.

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released on Monday could undermine U.S. efforts to convince other world powers to agree on a third package of U.N. sanctions against Iran for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment activities.

Tensions have escalated in recent months as Washington has ratcheted up the rhetoric against Tehran, with U.S. President George W. Bush insisting in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War Three.

But in a finding likely to surprise U.S. friends and foes alike, the latest NIE concluded: "We do not know whether (Iran) currently intends to develop nuclear weapons."

That marked a sharp contrast to an intelligence report two years ago that stated Iran was "determined to develop nuclear weapons."

But the new assessment found Iran was continuing to develop technical means that could be used to build a bomb and it would likely be capable of producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame."

The shift in the intelligence community's thinking on Iran comes five years after a flawed NIE concluded neighboring Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction -- a report that helped pave the way for the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

No nuclear, chemical or biological weapons were ever found in Iraq and intelligence agencies since have been more cautious about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who have repeatedly accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, were briefed on the new NIE last Wednesday.

Washington, which insists it wants to solve the Iran problem diplomatically while leaving military options "on the table," is pushing for tougher U.N. sanctions against Tehran but faces resistance from China and Russia.

Iran insists it wants nuclear technology only for civilian purposes, such as electricity generation.

The nuclear standoff has become a major issue in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, with candidates weighing in on the prospects for military action against Iran.

U.S. STILL SEES IRANIAN "RISK"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, among senior Democrats who had requested the updated report on Iran, said the assessment challenged some of the administration's "alarming rhetoric about the threat posed by Iran."

He and other critics had accused Bush trying to rush the country into war again based on faulty intelligence.

Bush's national security adviser said that on balance the report was "good news," insisting it showed Tehran was susceptible to international pressure but that the risk of it acquiring nuclear weapons "remains a very serious problem."

But he added: "The international community has to understand that if we want to avoid a situation where we either have to accept Iran on a road to a nuclear weapon ... or the possibility of having to use force to stop it with all the connotations of World War III, then we need to step up the diplomacy, step up the pressure."

Administration officials denied the new NIE had exposed a serious intelligence lapse but could not explain how agencies failed to detect for four years that Iran's nuclear weapons program had been halted.

Intelligence officials said the suspension involved design and engineering for a bomb and covert uranium-conversion work.

A key NIE finding was that: "Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005."

Still, the report said: "We also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons."

So last night we're contemplating the positive aspects of (possibly) moving out of a hundred-year-old house into a (temporary) apartment:

He: Central heat and air.

She: Dishwasher.

He: Garbage disposer.

She: I love it when you talk like that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

GO COWBOYS!

WHO'S IT GONNA BE?



Packers-Cowboys Series History
By The Associated Press
November 28, 2007

Cowboys lead series 14-12
(Home Team in CAPS)
REGULAR SEASON
2004-- PACKERS 41, Cowboys 20
1999-- COWBOYS 27, Packers 13
1997-- PACKERS 45, Cowboys 17
1996-- COWBOYS 21, Packers 6
1995-- COWBOYS 34, Packers 24
1994-- COWBOYS 42, Packers 31
1993-- COWBOYS 36, Packers 14
1991-- Cowboys 20, PACKERS 17-x
1989-- Packers 20, COWBOYS 10
1989-- PACKERS 31, Cowboys 13
1984-- COWBOYS 20, Packers 6
1980-- Cowboys 28, Packers 7-x
1978-- Cowboys 42, PACKERS 14-x
1975-- Packers 19, COWBOYS 17
1972-- PACKERS 16, Cowboys 13-x
1970-- COWBOYS 16, Packers 3
1968-- Packers 28, COWBOYS 17
1965-- PACKERS 13, Cowboys 3-x
1964-- Packers 45, COWBOYS 21
1960-- PACKERS 41, Cowboys 7
PLAYOFFS
1995-- COWBOYS 38, Packers 27 NFC Championship
1994-- COWBOYS 35, Packers 9 NFC Divisional
1993-- COWBOYS 27, Packers 17 NFC Divisional
1982-- COWBOYS 37, Packers 26 NFC Second Round
1967-- PACKERS 21, Cowboys 17 NFL Championship
1966-- Packers 34, COWBOYS 27 NFL Championship
x-At Milwaukee

Okay, Randal, Game Day is here! When the Cowboys win, you have to (prominently) display the Dallas Cowboys logo on your blog for a week, and vice versa for me if the Packers win.

UPDATE: COWBOYS 37, Packers 27

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS !!!
----------------------------------------------

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Real Estate Dramedy, Reprise

As both of my regular readers know, I inherited a 100-year-old house from Max, my ex-husband, when he passed away four years ago. "Maxwell House" was chopped into a five-plex, probably after WWII when there was a housing shortage. Tomcat and I operated it as a rental property for a while (you may remember the stories about some of the tenants, like the Extreme Party Girls and the Cat Lady.) Then we put it on the market, thinking we would sell it and move to North Carolina so we could at least be in the same state as family.

Hahahahaaaaaaaaa. Well, it didn't sell. Long story short, over the space of a year, we signed contracts with five different investors but each one backed out at the last minute. Then I had a bervous nerkdown, we took the house off the market, gave notice to the tenants, and after having some work done on the place, we moved into Maxwell House. That was about a year and a half ago.

Now we're going to try this again. The place is now included in a new historic district, which may or may not be a plus, depending on who the prospective buyers are. It's certainly in better condition on the interior than it was when we first put it on the market. However, the market? Well, it's a little soft, as our realtor says. (Thank you, Bu$hCo, for trashing the economy even worse than your daddy did. Geez, I miss the Clinton years!)

Anyway, wish us luck on this venture again. We are going to get to North Carolina this time. Really. We are.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

I don't get it (as usual)


Why is this called "Black Friday?" It's the day after Thanksgiving, and apparently lots of insane people queue up in front of the shopping malls at oh-dark-thirty to do their Christmas shopping. Shouldn't it be called "Green Friday?" Is it called "Black Friday" because the retailers hope to be in the black by the end of the day, as opposed to the red? What?

When did they start calling it Black Friday, anyway? Did they call it that last year? I don't remember it if they did. Is this a new term, or was I just not paying attention until this year? Help me out here.

Are you one of those insane interesting people who braved the stores this morning to shop? If so, please tell me why. I really want to know what that's like from your perspective. I'm not a morning person. I'm not a crowds-of-people person, either. So, from my perspective this would be the absolute worst day to get out there and shop, no matter how much money I might "save."

Is it the thrill of the hunt? The blood? What?
________________________________________

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ten random things about me

I was tagged by Randal at L'Ennui Melodieux.

1. I'm in my tenth year of menopause.

2. Tomcat is still living, and still loves me.

3. I am married to a saint.


4. I was raised by a violent paranoid.

5. So I tend to see dangers everywhere (they call this "hypervigilance").

6. I'm definitely in the "glass is half empty" camp.

7. In elementary school, they played "Safety Lady" tips over the speakers every morning. While all the other kids were talking, laughing, and generally having fun, I was straining to hear every single fucking word the Safety Lady said (just as I listened to the paranoid who raised me - oh, and I became expert at interpreting body language, too - very important to survival.)

8. In fact, in psychology, people like me are called "Survivors."



9. The more I learn about Singularity, the more I'm convinced that sentient biologicals most certainly have, and will, elect to become nonbiological beings. (See also The Singularity Institute.)

10. Which is why I sometimes wonder if we sentient biologicals are part of an ancestor simulation program conducted by the nonbiological beings our species will become. (Not that I'm paranoid, mind you.)

Bonus: 11. This is a pic of my virtual self and Lavender Dawn (in black) on her virtual pirate ship.



Hm, it may be that most folks have already been tagged with this one. Let's see ... Pooks? You're tagged. And um, Lavender!
_____________________________

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why Atheists Care About Religion



I thought I'd go ahead and post this video now because in the Comments to my last post, Snave gave me this:

Sorry this is so long, but here are the lyrics to an interesting song by one of my all-time favorite musicians and social critics, Frank Zappa:

Whoever we are
Wherever were from
We shoulda noticed by now
Our behavior is dumb
And if our chances
Expect to improve
Its gonna take a lot more
Than tryin to remove
The other race
Or the other whatever
From the face
Of the planet altogether

They call it the earth
Which is a dumb kinda name
But they named it right
cause we behave the same...
We are dumb all over
Dumb all over,
Yes we are
Dumb all over,
Near n far
Dumb all over,
Black n white
People, we is not wrapped tight

Nerds on the left
Nerds on the right
Religous fanatics
On the air every night
Sayin the bible
Tells the story
Makes the details
Sound real gory
bout what to do
If the geeks over there
Dont believe in the book
We got over here

You cant run a race
Without no feet
n pretty soon
There wont be no street
For dummies to jog on
Or doggies to dog on
Religous fanatics
Can make it be all gone
(I mean it wont blow up
n disappear
Itll just look ugly
For a thousand years...)

You cant run a country
By a book of religion
Not by a heap
Or a lump or a smidgeon
Of foolish rules
Of ancient date
Designed to make
You all feel great
While you fold, spindle
And mutilate
Those unbelievers
From a neighboring state

To arms! to arms!
Hooray! thats great
Two legs aint bad
Unless theres a crate
They ship the parts
To mama in
For souvenirs: two ears (get down!)
Not his, not hers, (but what the hey? )
The good book says:
(it gotta be that way!)
But their book says:
Revenge the crusades...
With whips n chains
n hand grenades...
Two arms? two arms?
Have another and another
Our God says:
There aint no other!
Our God says
Its all okay!
Our God says
This is the way!

It says in the book:
Burn n destroy...
n repent, n redeem
n revenge, n deploy
n rumble thee forth
To the land of the unbelieving scum on the other side
cause they dont go for whats in the book
n that makes em bad
So verily we must choppeth them up
And stompeth them down
Or rent a nice french bomb
To poof them out of existence
While leaving their real estate just where we need it
To use again
For temples in which to praise our god
(cause he can really take care of business!)

And when his humble tv servant
With humble white hair
And humble glasses
And a nice brown suit
And maybe a blond wife who takes phone calls
Tells us our God says
Its okay to do this stuff
Then we gotta do it,
cause if we dont do it,
We aint gwine up to hebbin!
(depending on which book youre using at the
Time...cant use theirs... it dont work
...its all lies...gotta use mine...)
Aint that right?
Thats what they say
Every night...
Every day...

Hey, we cant really be dumb
If were just following gods orders
Hey, lets get serious...
God knows what hes doin
He wrote this book here
An the book says:
He made us all to be just like him,
So...
If we're dumb...
Then God is dumb...
(an maybe even a little ugly on the side)

Religious fundamentalists, like George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden, scare the bejeebus outta me. As an atheist, what people choose to believe or not believe is no concern of mine, EXCEPT when they do something stupid and dangerous like invading a sovereign country because they think their god(s) or goddess(es) told them to, or blow up buildings full of thousands of people to start a "holy" war, or do any of the other things mentioned in the video that tries to take us all back to the Dark Ages when the Church was REALLY in charge. Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, et al, would like nothing better than to see this country go from democracy to theocracy. With the current administration, they've damn near succeeded.

I know atheists aren't the only ones concerned about these people - there are many religious people who embrace tolerance and are just as appalled by their so-called brethren. I hope we can stand together.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

CRS



Yep, that's about right.
__________________________________

Monday, November 12, 2007

"I will restore habeas corpus"

As I mentioned in a prior post, Critical Historical Moments,

We face another critical moment with inauguration day in 2009. The new president, no matter who he or she may be, and the new Congress, regardless of which party has control, must begin the immediate rollback of the previous administration's actions that have shredded this country's Constitution, beginning with the restoration of habeas corpus.

This will be the most important test our country has faced since its earliest days if it is to survive as a democracy. If we don't pass this test, then nothing else will matter. We might as well give it up now for our first king, also named George.


My candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, said in this speech, "I will restore habeas corpus." For this reason (and many others), this man has my vote for President of the United States.



I hope you will take the time to listen to this amazing speech. It's long (20 minutes), but not nearly as long as the past seven years under George W. Bush has been. For those who have not yet read Sen. Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, I can't recommend it highly enough. For anyone who thinks he is an inexperienced political lightweight, I say read the book, then come tell me what you have to say about it. :)

I'll be taking off for a few days to get serious about writing. I'll be looking in on your blogs, though, so mind your Ps and Qs. :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blogger's Choice Awards

Surprisingly Naturally, Chapterhouse didn't make it to the finals in the Blogger's Choice Awards, although it was [sniffle] an honor to be nominated. (Love ya, mean it!)

Voting for 2007 is closed, so all blog votes have been zeroed out.

What remains are the finalists in each category, with winners being announced Saturday, November 10th, here.

Meh.

So much for the big leagues...
-----------------------------------------------------

But YOU want the important stuff, right? Okay, so here are my personal picks from those blogs in my little corner of the Blogosphere - my Blogroll:

Best Animal Blog: I pick FortyPaws. This woman rescued and cares for ten cats who are survivors from one of those Crazy Cat Lady houses. When I say she "cares for" them, I mean that she spends enormous amounts of time and money taking them to the vet, paying for needed surgeries, tending to their various individual needs and illnesses, providing special diets where necessary, and in general being the most compassionate animal lover I think I've ever seen!

Best Libertarian Blog: Mandlebrot's Chaos at Chaotic Fred Farts Fire. MC is "just a simple redneck with an IQ in the 140s," whose usually brilliant posts offer unique perspectives on current goings-on (example: Bush and Cheney are NOT Machiavellian, and we're all worse for it.) Always makes me think - wait until after your first cuppa.

Best Blog About Stuff: Planet Pooks. Pooks has everything from Anglicans to Writing, including Cycling, Coffee, and the Dallas Cowboys. She's a personal friend and part-time mentor.

Best Blog Design: That would be Dawn at Lavender's Daydreams. She's extremely talented (she designed Chapterhouse, among others.) She's Mom to four kids, one of whom is special needs. She goes to school. She writes. She's pagan. She's the only blogger friend (besides Pooks, whom I knew before blogging) that I've actually talked to on the phone and seen on IM. She is one cool lady.

Best Snark: L'Ennui-Melodieux. Randal Graves has the soul of a poet, which he lets us glimpse from time to time, when he's not um, enthusing? about sports (ho-hum, unless it's the Cowboys, of course), or posting something snarky and scathing about politics. Oh, and some of it is in French.

Blog With the Most Content: Left of Centrist. I don't know how Robert Rouse does it. This is just one of his blogs. In addition to at least two daily posts, You've got yer Blog World Report, yer Forum, yer Fun With Photoshop, yer Politics, yer YouTub, and yer Latest News, just to name a few features. Whew! I get overwhelmed sometimes, there's so much to see and read.

Most Compassionate Blogger: Dr. Deb Serani. Deb is a psychologist who always has something thought-provoking and/or entertaining to post from that field. Her blog has received numerous nominations and awards. From time to time she is a professional consultant for TV shows, too. She has lots of commentors on her blog, and she never fails to answer each and every one of them.

Best Liberal Blogger: Lizzy at The OCD Gen X Liberal. She had the word "liberal" tattooed across her shoulders, people! That's dedication. Plus, she occasionally posts the most hysterical videos of her smooshy-faced dogs.

Best Foreign Language Blog: Que? Well, let's see ... that would have to be Dan over at Puppet Show because I often don't know what the hell he's talking about. :) (Actually, he's quite brilliant, even though he's Canadian.)

Smartest Blog: Zandpearl. She's an astronomy professor. She doesn't post very often, but it's about quality, not quantity.

Blogger I Wish I Could Actually Meet and Hug: Garnie. Garnie's been a blogger friend since 'way back when I had my first blog, Okey-Dokey, Let's Get Started. She's been going through an unbelievably rough time lately, and I just wish I could be there with her. She's a teacher and a biker and a pagan and is married to Honey, the love of her life.

Best Geek Blog: John (Duke of Earle) at Romantic Ramblings. John has expertise in everything from Windows Vista to toilets. It's frightening. He's also a writer and a golfer (ahem) and a Conspiracy theorist (has to be with a capital "C"), but not in the way you might think.

Best Outraged Blogger: Let's Talk. He finds an outrageous video or ad or something that illustrates the latest depravity from the Far Right, then writes his own an analysis of the issue, and usually ends with, "What say you?"

Best Humorous Blog: Old Horsetail Snake. Hoss delivers the goods, what with his laugh-out-loud jokes, witticisms, observations on life, word-of-the-day, not to mention such esoterica as reincarnation and dung beetles.

Best Photography Blog: That's Paul's (1138) photography blog, only he doesn't want it advertised, so you'll just have to ask him about it.

Best Political Blog (Female): That would be Mary Ellen over at Divine Democrat. This lady posts not just once, but sometimes two and three times a day! Her posts are often thought-provoking and always informative, detailing the latest crock-o-shit rolling down the hill - Capitol Hill, that is. She gets lots of comments, and most times, they start commenting with each other, so it's like everyone meeting in her cozy parlor, chatting it up while sipping vino.

Best Political Blog (Male): Tom Harper's Who Hijacked Our Country? Like Mary Ellen's, this place feels like home - lots of back and forth commenting among the, uh, commentors. Tom always seems to find stuff we didn't know about, and presents the material in ways that are smart and snarky.

Best Blog About Unexpected Stuff: Snave has this cornered. Where else can you get Feces in the News except at Various Ecstasies, hm? I rest my case.

Geez, I love you guys.
____________________________________

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tell Us Tuesday #17




You have been given permission to brag about yourself. Tell us your brag. Go ahead, it's okay. Really. You have permission!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

An excerpt


Hey, whatever happened to NaDruWriNi? They had it last year, and the year before that, and the year before that ... but when I Googled to find out the date for it this year, it's ... gone. No National Drunken Writing Night 2007 to be found. I want a refund!

--------------------------------------------------
Anyhow, some of us (a/k/a "asshats") peer-pressured Randal over at L'ennui-Melodieux to share some of his writing with us, which he agreed to do, as long as we did the same.

Okay, here is an excerpt from my not-quite-finished mystery novel, Gino's Law: For Every Action, There's An Overreaction. As far I can remember, this scene was not written while drunk, alas, but it is one of my favorites. Gino is attending his neighbor Howard's annual Summer Solstice party (Howard is the gay astrologer who lives across the street.)

A little background info: Gino and Howard have just hired a lawyer to help them fight another neighbor, attorney Sam Simms, self-styled Champeen Rattlesnake Wrangler (if I can wrangle rattlesnakes, I can git you ever single dollar that's comin to ya from the insurance company), who wants to rezone and tear down their neighborhood to put up an office tower complex. Later in the evening, Simms will be found murdered, and Gino is framed for it.

***
Howard joined them in the kitchen. "Gino, did Arthur call you today to schedule our meeting?"

"With our own damned lawyer? Yeah. Tomorrow afternoon, he said."

"She's here tonight. I'll introduce you later."

"She? I like the sound of that."

"She's married."

"Nobody's perfect."

"In love married."

"Oh. Too bad. Can she handle the Champeen Snake Wrangler?"

"Scorpio with Capricorn rising. Not a problem. I wish I had Simms' chart data, though. The man's demented."

"The man's dangerous, Howard. He's got to be stopped."

"Who's dangerous, Sweetie?" Maud-Ann Patton drawled in her Georgia accent as she entered the kitchen. She slipped her arm through Howard's while murmuring "How're you, Hon?" to Gino.

"Good to see you again, Maud-Ann. Seems that Sam Simms, Esquirt, wants to tear this whole block down and put up an office tower-plaza-something."

Maud-Ann's beautifully arched brows shot up. "That little pissant on television? You cannot be serious!"

"He's been all around the neighborhood telling us he's going to make us rich," said Howard.

Gino couldn't help but throw his head back and roar his trademark laugh.

Maud-Ann looked alarmed. "Surely not as rich as I?"

"Oh heavens no, Maud-Ann," said Howard.

"Howard says my chart shows even more money for Lewis and me this year, isn't that exciting?" She squeezed Howard's arm. "Oooh, now Howard, you may have to let me have this." She stroked the pashmina shoulders of his midnight blue cape. Zodiac signs were worked in silver embroidery throughout the garment.

"Maud-Ann, this is mine. When Lewis gets back in town, bat those brown eyes at him, and he'll buy you one."

"It will have to be at least as soft as this." Maud-Ann still stroked the cloth.

"If that's what you want, then it'll be as soft as a baby angel's butt with the feathers still on it."

Gino's eyes widened. "They're born with feathered butts?"

"Yes. Astrologers know about these things," said Howard. He sipped more mimosa.

Wheep! Wheep! Wheep! The high-pitched sound carried over the noise of the party.

"Oh, dear," said Howard. "Someone set off the pig."

They turned to look at the guest standing in front of the refrigerator, a bearded young man who was putting his wine offering inside.

He returned their stares. "What?"

"It's okay, Danny," said Howard. "It's just that whenever someone opens the 'fridge, Miss Piggy thinks she's going to get lettuce."

"Miss Piggy?" The man looked bewildered.

Maud-Ann said, "C'mon, you simply must meet Miss Piggy." She and Gino led the young man into the breakfast room. Howard wandered off to join other guests.

"What is your name, Sweetie?" She offered the fingertips of her bejeweled hand.

"Danny Ainsworth." He bowed and kissed the air above her fingers.

"I'm Maud-Ann Patton, and this is Gino Gibaldi."

"Hello." They shook hands.

"And here is the divine Miss Piggy," said Maud-Ann. Inside a large waterless aquarium was what looked like a mop in curlers. "Miss Piggy, this is Mr. Danny Ainsworth."

"Um, charmed." Danny made a little bow to the brown and white creature. It stood against the glass on its hind legs and wheeped as he drew closer. Peering in, Danny said, "Is that – is that a Guinea Pig?"

"You are correct, sir," said Gino. "Miss Piggy is a pedigreed long-haired Peruvian Guinea Pig."

"She's a show pig," said Maud-Ann. "That's why her hair is in wrappers, to keep it out of the cedar chips."

"Ah!" said Danny. "I knew there must be a reason for that."

"Maud-Ann and I had the singular honor of accompanying Howard and Miss Piggy to the St. Louis Guinea Pig Show last year," said Gino. "See, here's her blue ribbon for Best-in-Class – "

"Wow," said Danny.

" - and here are her papers." He pointed to the framed documents over the glass cage. "This certifies her lineage. You will note that Miss Piggy is out of Empress, by Warlord."

"The Warlord?"

"Oh, you are a delight, Danny!" Maud-Ann exclaimed. "I haven't seen you here before. Are you a new client of Howard's?"

"Yes. How long have you known him?"

"Oh, forever. What do you do?"

"I'm editor of The Dangling Participle."

"The what, Dear?"

"That's the local anti-establishment newspaper, Maud-Ann," said Gino.

***

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Silly Saturday #16



UPDATE
I just want to share a great post I ran across. Go over to Puppet Show, The Evolution of a Bad Idea, and read the post entitled Get me my oil! And turn off this world vision crap ... Football's on! Dan's a 20-something Canadian who has quite a lot to say about political blogging, our political situation, and that world vision thing . Here's an excerpt:

There is a startling lack of grassroots action taking place. Too many people, for example, seem to feel that because they want to end world hunger, and so does the person they're voting for, all they have to do is vote for that person, make a few statements on how ending poverty is important and voila, they've done their part.