Oct 30, 2005

how to avoid temptation

Look temptation in the eye, the most gorgeous, bluest eye that captures the glint of every star in the cosmos, the eye that can read your thoughts and speak to the depths of your innermost desires, the eye that penetrates your soul, the limpid pool of yearning and regret, the cerulean dream-orb, the azure circumference of fantasy, glistening and gleaming and glowing with seduction, radiating the passion of a soul in torment, lust, ardor, concupiscence, amour, and say "No."

[forty-fourth in a series]

what might have been

My brother commends Hugh Hewitt, staunch defender of the Grand Old Party line, for his analysis of the consequences of the Miers debacle. Hewitt soars in a balloon of hot rhetoric, its flame lighting so quickly and burning so ferociously that I am forced to hide most of my response in order to keep it from swallowing up the screen. Click "read more" to read more.

Problematic from the start
First, Hewitt revises recent history, confusing his most pressing concern with that of the electorate.
OVER the last two elections, the Republican Party regained control of the United States Senate by electing new senators in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. These victories were attributable in large measure to the central demand made by Republican candidates, and heard and embraced by voters, that President Bush's nominees deserved an up-or-down decision on the floor of the Senate.
News to me, and probably to every voter who ticked "national security" on the exit polls, that judicial confirmation pushed the GOP to victory. The supposed "central demand" in the GOP platform comes 'way down on page 77, in a mere two paragraphs.

The 2002 and 2004 Senate races weren't largely about up or down votes. Consider the race between Mel Martinez and Betty Castor in Florida, 2004. First, Martinez wins the Republican primary by branding his opponent as pro-homosexual and wishy-washy on stem cell research, leading the St. Petersburg Times to rescind its endorsement. Martinez then claims Betty Castor, Democrat, is weak on terrorism, or even a terrorist sympathizer. Martinez's legislative priorities?
· Stand resolute in winning the war on terror and supporting our troops.
· Make the tax cuts permanent.
· Fight for Florida's fair share.
You'll notice, of course, which issue is missing from the list. Martinez wins, barely.

Where the beef is
The other races, especially in 2004, are similar, as Republicans ride the national security bandwagon to success. What did fresh, hip GOP senators really care about?

Johnny Isakson, Georgia senator replacing Zell Miller in 2004.
Education, Environment, National Defense, Second Amendment, Taxes, Transportation, Veterans
David Vitter, Louisiana, replacing John Breaux in 2004.
Agriculture, The Budget, Crime and Drugs, Education, The Family, Gun Owners' Rights, Health Care, Homeland Security, National Defense, Respect for Life, Social Security, Small Business and Economic Development, Taxes, Veterans Affairs

Legislative Priorities

1. I will work to build great jobs in Louisiana by fighting political corruption that costs us jobs and by making the tax cuts permanent to encourage growth.
2. I will work to make quality health care more affordable, including lowering prescription drug costs by allowing reimportation safely from Canada.
3. I will protect the Social Security Trust Fund from ever being raided and spent on other programs.
Richard Burr, North Carolina, replacing John Edwards in 2004.
Legislative priorities
I support making recent tax relief permanent because the tax cuts have been the engine for recent economic growth.
I will work to increase access to affordable, quality health care for North Carolinians through meaningful medical liability reform so that health insurance premiums will stop skyrocketing.
I have worked to reform our intelligence agencies on the Intelligence Committee and will continue to make our Homeland more secure through rebuilding and reforming our military and CIA.
I could go on, but you get the point. Judiciary confirmation strategies, important as they are to Hugh Hewitt, were nowhere near the top concern of the newest Republicans in the Senate.

Not waving but drowning
Second, fueled by his narrow, unwarranted analysis, Hewitt sails futher toward the horizon.
Now, with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers under an instant, fierce and sometimes false assault from conservative pundits and activists, it will be difficult for Republican candidates to continue to make this winning argument: that Democrats have deeply damaged the integrity of the advice and consent process.
Hewitt names no names, and throws some interesting adjectives out there. Instant? Maybe. Fierce? Perhaps. Sometimes false? Evidence, please. Claiming that Republicans can't fault Democrats after the Miers flare-up, Hugh assumes that hypocrisy isn't a valid political strategy, and that the damage from Miers will be long-lasting--which would be far more likely had the hearings taken place, and Miers, as all the initial data showed, would be exposed as a Constitutional lightweight. (Remarkably, Hewitt never addresses the now-infamous questionnaire, the best indication that Miers was unqualified.)

Up, up, and away
Third, Hewitt leaves history behind and heads for the rhetorical stratosphere.
The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around.
Now we're in la-la land, a happy place free the actual past. Anyone who thinks "exaggeration" and "invective" are the province of the left needs a good dose of Limbaugh, Coulter, or Savage.

The foggy crystal ball
Fourth, Hewitt looks into the future, and enjoys speculation at the cost of ignoring present realities.
The next nominee... will face an instant and savage assault.... A claim of "special circumstances" justifying a filibuster will also be forthcoming. And will other nominees simply pass on the opportunity to walk out in the middle of a crossfire?
Hewitt persistently refuses to give credence to a single anti-Miers argument, instead painting a straw-man sketch of the opposition. His own observation that no senator called for her withdrawal is important. No pundit forced Miers, or Bush, to back down. Perhaps--and this seems likely--her relationship with Bush, her apparent lack of qualifications, and all the rest required too much political capital in these deficit days of the Bush presidency.
The center of the Miers opposition was National Review's blog, The Corner, and the blog ConfirmThem.com, both with sharp-tongued, witty and relentless writers. They unleashed every argument they could find, and the pack that followed them could not be stopped. Even if a senator had a mind to urge hearings and a vote, he had to feel that it would call down on him the verbal wrath of the anti-Miers zealots.
Is calling someone a "zealot" a form of invective, or perhaps exaggeration? Hewitt is so far into the pie fight that he's forgotten he's covered with whipped cream. It is hard to ignore the whiny sound, the spinelessness of the complaint that National Review was just too witty for poor Miers and hapless Bush.

Hewitt doesn't draw the obvious conclusion: either Bush or Miers is weak for folding in the face of pressure, or there was a really good reason for Miers to withdraw (other than the smokescreen about attorney-client privilege). But then Hewitt, who asked us to "trust" Bush, can't denounce him as a coward for caving to the pundits, for, ironically, Hewitt is the very sort of pundit who wants to push the president and the Senate in his own direction.

Hugh Hewitt, punditocrat
The fact is, Bush and Hewitt don't operate the same political calculus. Let's look at Hewitt's analysis of the presidential debates in 2004, and his immediate reaction to the Republican victory.

First, Hewitt's Presidential Debate #2 scorecard (the first debate, if you recall, focused mostly on the war on Iraq). When the question about Supreme Court vacancies comes up, here's how Hewitt summarizes and grades Bush:
"I'm not telling." I haven't picked anybody yet. I would pick somebody who would not allow their personal opinion to get in the way of the law. Examples: I wouldn't pick a anti-Pledge judge. Dred Scott case, which is where judges year ago said that the constitution allowed slavery because of personal property rights. It doesn't say that. I would pick people that would be strict constructionists. One of us will have a pick. No litmus test except how they interpret.

C, Could have been better.
All we had to ask Miers, I suppose, was whether she'd have voted to uphold Dred Scott v. Sandford. In all seriousness, though, that "C" grade--one of the few for Bush, according to Hewitt--ought to have given the pundit pause.

It didn't. In his analysis of the election, fresh off a victory, Hewitt wrote:
After a late-night flight from the west coast, and a day spent interviewing would-be law professors, I have had a chance to catch up on the news, and I see that there is a blog swarm forming around the expected assumption of the chairmanship of the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary by Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. The opposition to Specter seems headquartered at The Corner. Many friends post at The Corner, so I paused, considered their arguments, and thought it through. On reflection, it seems to me a very bad idea to try and topple Senator Specter from what in the ordinary course of events would be his Chairmanship. I hope my colleagues on the center-right that embrace pro-life politics will reconsider....

The Chairmanship will have great power, of course, but what matters far more than the name of the Chair is resolve in insisting that the GOP majority be reflected in the Committee make-up, and that Senator Frist appoint serious pro-life members to the new vacancies....

Senator Specter has supported every judicial nominee sent forward by President Bush. More important than that, he won first the primary and then the general election in Pennsylvania, and is a man of the party and the party needs to welcome its members who hold minority views, not punish them. The prospect that Senator Specter might oppose a Bush nominee is not a happy one, but neither is it inevitable nor, given the appropriate committee make-up, fatal to the nominee's prospects....

So, fellow pro-life conservatives, we should keep our focus on the key issues: The split of the seats, the names of the new members, and reform of the rules governing judicial nominees.
I leave it to you, dear reader, to contemplate the suggestions and the ironic recommendation that The Corner back off Specter.

Following up, Hewitt had other recommendations:
Yesterday I interviewed two senators-elect, Burr and Thune, and returning House powerhouse David Dreier. My theme with all of them was whether they felt urgency. On the Senate side, this means resolving the judicial nominee impasse decisively, either with a Democratic acknowledgement that the filibusters are illegitimate, or a rule change to require up-or-down votes on the Senate floor of every nominee to emerge from the Judiciary Committee. On the House side, Social Security reform for those under 45 needs to move quickly to reality. Skittishness in either chamber would be a disaster. Political victories of the magnitude of Tuesday's require decisive follow-through or politics will earn a reputation for insincerity even greater than it already enjoys.
Hewitt was urgent. Hewitt wanted results. No one listened to Hewitt when it counted. And, given his idealistic and unrealistic perspective on the political climate, and the way the GOP has continually misled and mistreated its most loyal voters, there's good reason Hewitt's homily went unheeded. He wants saints in office, but only sinners run.

we're in

All my optimism hasn't been in vain. Friday night, Capital marched into the playoffs with a 21-7 victory over Mount Tahoma, ending the regular season with just one loss. Injured players are coming back, so Capital's line makes it a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. (Reid Haefer, in his first game back, powered for a 50-yard run that set up a crucial touchdown.)

Word has it we're in a different bracket than Olympia, which means that if we face them at all, it won't be until the championship game.

On to state.

Oct 29, 2005

rest and repose

Or not, as it's the first speech tournament of the year. I'll be back online later in the evening, when I'll post an analysis of Hugh Hewitt's lament.

Carry on, my wayward sons.

Oct 27, 2005

communicatin' with the dead

It's not so easy, especially when City Hall stands in your way. Let's jet up to Roslyn, Washington--yes, that Roslyn, the home of "Northern Exposure"--where paranormal investigators (a polite way of saying "blithering idiots") want to poke around the old cemetery.

The guvmint has other plans.
The town council voted 5 to 2 Tuesday to reject a request by Washington State Paranormal Investigations and Research for permission to check for eerie, odd and unexplained phenomena during the wee hours, when the graveyard is closed....

The research group has visited the town a few times this year. Members who said they found evidence of paranormal activity near a mine shaft and a few electronic voice phenomena at the cemetery posted an audio sample on the Web at www.wspir.com/evps-and-videos.htm....

President Darren Thompson said the group will abide by the daytime restriction but noted that many such organizations have found that paranormal activity increases at night and peaks at about 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.

"We wish we could have gotten to say, 'Come with us and see what we do,"' he said.
Ghosts apparently operate in a limited capacity, stuck by the mine shaft after hours, flitting from station to station on the AM dial in the hopes that Michael Keaton will listen in.

The WSPIR yahoos are the only "eerie and odd" part of the whole deal.

[forty-third in a series]

we'll skip frat row for now

The Uncredible Hallq takes us on a tour of Skeptic's University, home of the Arguing Anythings.

what was jesus's philosophy?

Two cups deontology with a dash of situation ethics, one tablespoon deconstruction, two quarts distributive justice, a pinch of Jeffersonian democracy, one cup chopped virtue ethics, five cans dualism, one teaspoon empiricism.

Simmer for two thousand years. Stir occasionally.

[forty-second in a series]

Miers is dead, long live Miers

Miers is undone. It's the perfect "out," and a practical guarantee that Alberto Gonzales is off the short list.

Sorry, Hugh. You fought to the end.
Under no circumstances should the nominee withdraw or the president allow this nominee to withdraw, because I think the exchanges are going to be very interesting, and very instructive.
Problem was, "instructive" meant "destructive," as anyone except the most faithful, loyal, blinkered partisan could see.

Update: Orin Kerr has it just right.
My immediate reaction is that the system worked. Harriet Miers is by all accounts a good person and a solid lawyer, but wasn't particularly well-suited for the unique environment of the Supreme Court. As I noted last week, I think the tipping point was sometime last Thusday or Friday, when it became clear on the Hill that Miers just wasn't going to be able to deliver the kind of performance at her hearings that she needed to deliver to get confirmed.

Oct 26, 2005

"freedom of liberties"

Ed Brayton points to Radley Balko, who points to more inanities from the pen of Harriet Miers.
"We all can be active in some way to address the social issues that foster criminal behavior, such as: lack of self-esteem or hope in some segments of our society, poverty, lack of health care (particularly mental health care), lack of education, and family dysfunction. We lawyers are trained in problem-solving and we have the leadership and other opportunities available to professionals in our society. . . .
Curmudgeonly English Teacher (my other personality) groans at someone who puts a colon after "such as."

The blog is starting to look positively inspired these days.

Oct 25, 2005

less tar than the leading brand

Last time it was natural gas; today it was a tar smell. They, they meaning The Constructioners, were tarring the roof. The odor wafted directly into our HVAC system, which is designed to take whatever is given it and spew it directly into the classroom, be it diesel fumes, wood smoke, or chemical weapons. (The latter, at least, would give us a day off.)

(Actually, I'm not so sure.)

Word has it an expert is flying in from Brazil to look at the problem, which has gone unresolved for a couple years now. If he flew in under his own power, I'd have hope.

Oct 24, 2005

all your eggs in one basket case

"I knew the conservative crack-up would be entertaining; I just didn't count on the surrealism."

Matt Welch, Reason Magazine

get 'em in before the bell

Entries for the 38th edition of The Carnival Of Education are due Tuesday night, 9:00 Pacific. Send yours to owlshome [at] earthlink [dot] net.

The carnival will miraculously appear at the Education Wonks sometime Wednesday morning.

Oct 23, 2005

practical exercise for light English teaching

Even an easy day in the English classroom is no picnic. Teachers run the risk of cramps, muscle tears, broken bones, lost voices, fatigue, ulcers, bladder strain, bruised egos, and more. The following are a few simple exercises you, as a teacher, can perform to keep your body fit and your mind sane.

The Paper Shuffle
Place stacks of exams on desks closest to the edges of your classroom. At a sprint, race them to your desk, sit for a few seconds "grading" them, and then race them back to the corners. Repeat this until winded--usually two or three minutes.

The Home Stretch
Before leaving for school--or at school, if you, like me, live there--use this stretching exercise. First, get up, make and drink your pot of coffee. This will warm up your muscles. Next, grab hold of the refrigerator door and stretch as far into the kitchen as you can, other arm extended, as if you are coralling one student without losing your grip on another. If the door opens (i.e., you lost your grip), close it and try again. Five minutes ought to suffice.

The Bladder Buster
Expand your tiny bladder by drinking copious amounts of Pepsi, Coke, or, on your budget, a generic equivalent. Drink and drink and drink and hold it until it hurts. Try to grade essays during this time; you'll find yourself completing them far more quickly than usual. (Warning: kidney stones are no laughing matter.)

The Shouting Match
Turn the radio to Rush Limbaugh (or some other pompous windbag). Each time Rush says something stupid, offer a counterargument in a clear, strong voice, and then turn up the volume by a notch. By the time five minutes have passed, you should be shouting loud enough to wake the dead. Sleeping students will never have a chance in your class.

The Runaround
Start at your classroom. Run to the copy room to make a last-minute transparency. Run back to your room (you forgot a blank transparency). Run back to the copy room. Wait five minutes (now there's a line). Wait five minutes more (now the machine is jammed). Finally make the copy. Run back to your classroom. Test overhead. Run to Audio-Visual room (bulb is burnt out). Run back to classroom. Insert new bulb. Teach.

[I forgot to add the all important designation, forty-first in a series]

ecstasy, for once

The Seahawks' miraculous finish against the Cowboys today was the greatest comeback I've seen for quite some time. Here's how it went down.

Trailing 7-3, spinning their wheels against a tight Dallas defense, the Hawks muff a punt return with about three minutes left, giving up the ball on the 15 yard line.

They hold Dallas to a field goal.

With 2:09 left, they march down the field, Hasselbeck's laser passes complemented by a couple timely penalties. He hits Ryan Hannam (?!) in the end zone with 46 seconds left. Pandemonium erupts. But Bledsoe and the 'Boys bounce back, looking to get within field goal range.

The defense holds again.

Better yet, Jordan Babineau (?!) picks off Bledsoe and runs out of bounds at the thirty, setting up a 51-yard field goal try for Josh Brown. Five seconds left. Snap. Up, good.

Even when Shaun Alexander is completely stuffed, the Hawks will their way to a win. We finally really truly look like a Super Bowl contender.

Good Night, and Good Luck.

Trekked up to The Grand Cinema in Tacoma with great trepidation, given my last cinematic experience (you can't trust the critics, ever).

As the wife and I walked into the theater, I remarked that most of the crowd was in the 50-plus demographic (common enough at The Grand). Many of these people, I mused, might have a better idea if David Strathairn's performance is as good as the critics are saying. As we stood in the ticket line, an older fellow behind me said, "These people don't even remember Ed Murrow." So there you go.

Pitch-perfect or no, Strathairn and Co. have all the gravitas needed to carry the film--with a worse cast, it might collapse under its moral weight. Shot in glaring black-and-white (every wrinkle on every face shines through), in the way that The Crucible's witch trials blasted McCarthyism, Good Night's recreated newscasts and aptly-chosen stock footage denounce post 9/11 fear-mongering. As a bonus, sultry Dianne Reeves torches some classic jazz numbers.

Best thing I can say: Good Night, and Good Luck got the smell of A History of Violence out of my clothes; nearly every character smokes, even when the TV cameras are running. Plus ├ža change...

unusual transparency

If you're considering becoming an investigative blogger-journalist, read David Goldstein on the David Irons story he broke. He goes into "excruciatingly boring detail" to refute the claim that Ron Sims' campaign is somehow behind the story.
That is the genesis of my post. Nobody pushed it to me. Nobody fed me any easy information. I did some of that journalistic stuff that I really don’t like to do (it’s too much damn work), and that’s how I got the story. To imply otherwise is not only wrong, it diminishes the effort I put into a detailed, 3300-word piece.
It is the kind of openness and accountability you will likely never see from an MSM reporter--except maybe in a private conversation or a courtroom.

Oct 22, 2005

with friends like these...

Appearing on the stand in the Dover ID trial, Michael Behe turned out to be the star witness--but for the wrong side. First he admitted that astrology would be a science under his tortured definition of "science." Then he demonstrated the substandard academic history of the textbook under fire, Of Pandas and People.

And now, to top it off, he exposed the embarrassing lack of evidence for Irreducible Complexity, his calling card.

Ed Brayton writes:
And remember, the core of Behe's entire argument for ID is that irreducibly complex systems cannot evolve. Yet what does he admit under oath that his own study actually says? It says that IF you assume a population of bacteria on the entire earth that is 7 orders of magnitude less than the number of bacteria in a single ton of soil...and IF you assume that it undergoes only point mutations...and IF you rule out recombination, transposition, insertion/deletion, frame shift mutations and all of the other documented sources of mutation and genetic variation...and IF you assume that none of the intermediate steps would serve any function that might help them be preserved...THEN it would take 20,000 years (or 1/195,000th of the time bacteria have been on the earth) for a new complex trait requiring multiple interacting mutations - the very definition of an irreducibly complex system according to Behe - to develop and be fixed in a population.
Even if ID wins out in Dover, it's lost where it counts, all thanks to a professor named Michael Behe.

Capital beats Foss, 34-10

No writeup in the Olympian save the Prep Scoreboard. Foss--my wife's alma mater--is probably the worst team in the Narrows League, but beating them handily is a good sign for a decimated squad led by at sophomore quarterback. (Pettie went 4-7 for 51 yards, his best outing yet in the rush-heavy Wing T offense.)

On to state.

Oct 21, 2005

power to the people

Government agencies often misrepresent their relationship with their constituents. Consider the sign splayed proudly across a downtown street, which I passed under this morning while driving in silence, my morning ritual whenever public radio has a pledge drive.
Public Works, We're Working for You
No, no, no, no, no. If we rake drains--which are "owned" by the city--we're working for you. Or, more optimistically, we're working for us.

Oct 20, 2005

proverbial wisdom

"As a moth resisteth not the flame, so cranks are drawn unto a righteous man."

The righteous man, of course, being my brother, and the crank this guy.

Cranks know all the answers, even if they didn't hear the right questions. In this case, hyperCalvinist confuses my brother for a Joel Osteen wannabe, or Billy Graham with a laptop. His words of wisdom:
So if you are just wondering out loud how to arrange/present the 'holy info' don't waste your time.
Odd, that. How does it square with this?
Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible... To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Some image-conscious blogger, overly concerned with tailoring the good news to the masses? Yeah, that's it. Saul "The Apostle" Paul, the leading evangelist of the 1st century. Compare this:
And functionally having an "evangelism conference" (how to be 'more effective in your methods') as a post on your blog only shows those who grew up being 'offered to' as a plague on their lives that come to your blog looking for God in Truth you don't have God to give but are only selling something not-God.
With this:
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
(Apostle two, crank zero.)

Raging self-assuredness leads the crank to discourage people from donating to non-Christian charities, all in the name of saving souls. No, really.
There are no time outs for Truth and Righteousness. No emergency takes precedence over God. If you have not thanked God both for the disasters of the war and the hurricanes and all their effects then you are in error. Do not give to charities or receive from them whose sole goal is physical aid (such as the United Way; Red Cross) and who deny the Word of God and the true gospel of Jesus Christ (such as the United Way, Red Cross and 'Salvation' Army).

Of what effect or profit is it to any to receive a blanket, home loan or a puppy only that you or they be cast body and soul into the lake of fire? Pray first. Test and discern the spirits in the Name of Jesus Christ as God doing it in you. Those who have an ear let them hear.
Even evil people like myself know that when someone asks for bread, you don't send a stone.

One would hope Christian charity trumps "Christian clarity."

Oct 19, 2005

you, sir, are no Tim O'Brien

Some have speculated that Thomas Friedman's too-snappy anecdotes are more fiction than non. No surprise, then, that today's editorial in the Paper of Record sends Friedman into "story truth" territory.

Friedman ties together a string of rebukes by appropriately longsuffering Iraqi visitors baffled by the hypocrisy of American policies there and here. A sample:
A fellow delegation member, Abdul Wahab al-Unfi, a Shiite lawyer who walks with a limp today as a result of torture in a Saddam prison, said he did not want to spend another day in Washington after listening to the Bush team defend its right to use torture in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Small problem: if you haven't guessed it, the quote is fabricated. Writes Friedman, "(Yes, all of this is a fake news story. I just wish that it weren't so true.)"

No wonder The Times wants to hide Friedman's op-eds behind a firewall.

Oct 18, 2005

quick thing on real elephants

Real elephants, fascinating as they are, can't match the allure of pseudo-elephants, metaphoric elephants, fictive elephants, stuffed elephants won at the fair, elephant slippers, the pink elephants of delirium tremens, the white elephant, the elephant in the room, the blind men and the elephant, Dumbo, Jumbo, an elephant never forgets, don't think of an elephant.

Real elephants stink of feces and urine, producing both in colossal quantities. They feast upon rotting fruit and drunkenly trample property and people.

You do not want a real elephant.

[fortieth in a series]

Almond Joy has nuts

Mounds don't.

That is all ye need know, now and ever.

[thirty-ninth in a series]

Oct 17, 2005


Harriet Miers is a tough sell. Even her most vociferous supporters aren't pro-Miers; they're "anti-anti-Miers."

Oct 16, 2005


Mike Scioscia: crazy?

The Halos are down by one in the top of the ninth. Their closer, K-Rod, has been erratic in the previous inning. He starts off the ninth even shakier, throwing the ball up, down, anywhere but in the strike zone.

Yet Scioscia leaves him in.

Worse, as K-Rod gives up walks, hits, and runs, no one is warming up in the bullpen.

K-Rod finishes the inning, and the Angels are down two more runs, 6-3. That's all it takes for the Sox's Contreras, who douses any hopes of a rally with a 1-2-3 inning. The Sox take their first pennant since 1956.




one long drag toward the slippery slope: part II

This recent article on I-901 interests me for several reasons.

First, the anti-smoking initiative is opposed by the owner of O'Blarney's, a pub that allows smoking indoors. I haven't eaten there in over a year simply because it stinks inside, and its closest competitor, Brewery City Pizza, is smoke-free.

Second, the argument for the initiative, as I've pointed out before, is pretty poorly supported. Proponents cite stories of first-hand smokers as evidence that secondhand smoke is lethal, and list a controversial EPA classification. The evidence is out there, but it's all about risk. Risky = illegal only in today's hyperlitigious climate.

(Similarly, Red Robin is too loud, and I'm considering an initiative to ban ear-damaging noise in establishments accessible to the public. After all, why should servers and bussers and hosts suffer long-term hearing loss? There oughtta be a law.)

Third, the law is so draconian that it demands a "no" vote.
People can smoke in Heelan's bar, and he was planning on building a deck to accommodate smokers outside, he said. Now he can't build one large enough to get 25 feet away from the door as required by I-901, he said.
A simple indoor ban could have been workable, or, as I argued before, encouraging better indoor ventilation could have largely eliminated the problem.

Fourth, the funding disparity is so wide--
The No On 901 committee has reported raising $4,500 in cash and $5,000 in in-kind contributions. Wilkinson says the total might hit $15,000, enough to cover his expenses.

The I-901 Campaign, called Healthy Indoor Air for All Washington, has raised $938,809 in cash, including more than $500,000 from the American Cancer Society, and $58,798 more in in-kind contributions.
--that it's obviously going to pass. Again, as I pointed out before.

The most damning fact that makes I-901 almost entirely unnecessary is buried in the middle of the article:
The Washington Restaurant Association reports 80 percent of its members are smoke-free now, and it expects 90 percent of them to be smoke-free by the end of the decade.
We don't need a law, especially not a law as poorly written as this one.

No on I-901.

press here to activate your Lucky Charms nutrition information

The future arrives in 2007.

Oct 15, 2005

an open letter to the random people who stumble upon my blog

Dear Searchers,

I honestly don't get it. How do you end up here?

Since I've started keeping track, it's become clear that my content has nothing--nothing!--to do with your putative search terms. More than eighty percent of the time, you click through to the link in which the terms are only miraculously found on the same page. This can't be helpful, can it?

Some of you are interested in Italian furniture. Sorry, wrong Decorabilia. Some of you want help with your homework. I can imagine the term papers you're writing about Artemio Cruz and Citizen Kane and Achilles the Hero. Don't crib anything from this site, though; it's useless, and you'll get caught. (If I know how, so does your teacher.) Some of you are Googling yourselves--don't be shy, it's obvious. I've done it, too.

Or do you find that my writing is so zesty, even in Googly bits, that you're irresistibly drawn to the genius that is decorabilia? Nah, that can't be it.

Now that you're here, though, thanks for stopping by. I hope this five minute detour doesn't lead you astray from enlightenment.

Oh, one more thing. How and where are they offering a cookie to join the Dark Side? 'Cause it sounds like a pretty lame deal.



Capital beats Bellarmine in OT, 7-0

Our predicted standout season has been made nearly impossible by a string of injuries--the latest to star Hala Ling. But we're 4-1 in league, and still fearsome up front.

On to state.

Oct 13, 2005

you are the best Governor ever--deserving of great respect!

The Smoking Gun has posted years of correspondence between Harriet Miers and George W. Bush. What weirds me out the most--and I'm not sure what it means--is that when Miers writes a long dash, she uses two hyphens, like she's typing it.

Oh, and P.S. No more public scatology.

commissioned by the Museum of Bad Art

Wow. I saw an ad for this online gallery, and had to click through. Be warned: you'll need...

1. A strong stomach
2. Broadband (lots of thumbnails)
3. To be unabashed by nudity

Vote for the worst offender in the comments!

Oct 11, 2005

the rumor mill

A history teacher was asking me at lunch about some forwarded emails he'd been receiving about boorish, nasty, or downright criminal behavior among Katrina refugees. His bullshit detector was ringing pretty loudly. I told him to visit the good folks at Snopes, who've made a habit of debunking the nonsense that passes for news.

To my unsurprise, turns out the rumors are false or, at best, unconfirmed.

No, Houston evacuees weren't a bunch of selfish pigs.

No, evacuees didn't trash a Texas rest stop.

No, evacuees didn't bring gang violence to Utah.

To the racists who write it, and the racists who pass it along: stop.

an honest living

This time, the Olympian editorial staff and I are in near-perfect agreement. I love the Lacey Farmers' Market, small as it is. The crowds aren't as jostling. The vendors aren't as hustling. And the one weird lady who sells fruits and refers to them as her "precious jewels"--she's worth the price of admission.

It's not a zero-sum game. Patronize both markets, and support your local eccentrics.

Oct 10, 2005

sometimes the jokes write themselves

I won't bother to refute the blithering nonsense found in Douglas Kern's Why Intelligent Design is Going to Win--Mike Dunford already has--but I have to point out the line from Kern's piece that has me snorting cereal all over the keyboard.
Can science really plug a finger into every hole in the Darwinian dyke for the next fifty years?
If you don't get it, good for you.

Oct 9, 2005

Pakistani earthquake: where to give

I'm sure you've read about the tragedy in Pakistan by now. Here are two places among many for donations.

Raymond Carver on the art of the short story

Raymond Carver's classic essay, which I read a couple weeks ago and almost lost in a pile of unfinished postings, is worth sharing. Some highlights:
Some writers have a bunch of talent; I don't know any writers who are without it. But a unique and exact way of looking at things, and finding the right context for expressing that way of looking, that's something else.... Every great or even every very good writer makes the world over according to his own specifications.
I have a three-by-five up there with this fragment of a sentence from a story by Chekhov: "...and suddenly everything became clear to him." I find these words filled with wonder and possibility. I love their simple clarity, and the hint of revelation that's implied. There is mystery, too. What has been unclear before? Why is it just now becoming clear? What's happened? Most of all—what now? There are consequences as a result of such sudden awakenings. I feel a sharp sense of relief—and anticipation.
It's possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring—with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine—the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me.
I once sat down to write what turned out to be a pretty good story, though only the first sentence of the story had offered itself to me when I began it. For several days I'd been going around with this sentence in my head: "He was running the vacuum cleaner when the telephone rang." I knew a story was there and that it wanted telling. I felt it in my bones, that a story belonged with that beginning, if I could just have the time to write it. I found the time, an entire day—12, 15 hours even—if I wanted to make use of it. I did, and I sat down in the morning and wrote the first sentence, and other sentences promptly began to attach themselves. I made the story just as I'd make a poem; one line and then the next, and the next. Pretty soon I could see a story—and I knew it was my story, the one I'd been wanting to write.

Read it all

the grinch that stole christmas anagrams

(filed under misc. trash)

Out of the crash mist of a sleigh rose a lanky green miser in a red suit, beat up and broken like the loser of a yeti duel, wobbling and babbling like a fazed invalid.

"Dude, hep shreds," a passing hippie called out, pointing to the crimson nightmare.

The Grinch muttered and stepped over the dispersed contents of the sleigh. A bag of Mac shirts. A Siegel shoehorn. A basket of fine Inca knits. A doggie Selkirk ring. The excess and effluence of a materialistic civilization: the city of Whoville, a hotbed of iniquity and vice.

Now, without its usual stash of gifts, all that would change.

Or so the Grinch had thought, until a run-in with a Cessna two-seater put an end to his dastardly plan.

[thirty-seventh in a series]

one for the ages

Watching Atlanta blow a 6-1 lead is heartening, somehow, because as the game goes into the 11th, I can at least be assured that this is a playoff classic. Two grand slams. Two!

Update: And it took eighteen--eighteen!--innings for another Atlanta early exit from the postseason. Bobby Cox is the most consistent manager in the universe.

if decorabilia were a houseplant

Via Pharyngula and Scribblingwoman comes word of this site, where you type in a URL to see what grows. Scary, fascinating stuff.

Oct 8, 2005

sophomore power

Despite lacking six starters, we beat undefeated Lincoln.

On to state.

the overwhelming urge to punch David Cronenberg

The critics are insane. A History of Violence is a steaming pile of pretentiousness, a sappy, stupid homage to Kill Bill and Straw Dogs and Fargo and, dare I say it, The Long Kiss Goodnight, which is a classic in comparison.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a man with a mysterious past--or is he?--who lives in a quiet burg somewhere in Indiana. When he kills a couple of psychos who have invaded his diner, his immediate celebrity status draws an old enemy--or is he?--back into Stall's--or is he?--life, with disastrous and predictable consequences. A bizarre, violence-filled trip to Philadelphia caps the film. If you think I've spoiled the film's "surprises" and "twists," well, you did read the title, didn't you?

Its flaws are manifold. A hokey score completely undercuts Cronenberg's supposed mastery of silence. Realism is nowhere to be found. (A dopey small-town sheriff feels no compunction to arrest the protagonist after he wipes out five thugs in a space of a couple days.) Bit parts--the high school bully, the "skank," Stall's son and daughter--are horrifically acted. The dialogue has all the depth of an afterschool special.

Worst of all are the sex scenes, two of them. The first comes when Mrs. Stall tells Mr. Stall that they're going to relive their high school days. Instead of necking at Lovers' Lane, they traipse back to the bedroom, where she prances out in a cheerleader's uniform. "Ready? Okay!" This is supposedly romantic. (What follows is overwhelmingly, even embarrassingly, pornographic.)

The second scene is still worse. Follow the transformation: in the hospital, Mrs. Stall is so disgusted with her now-unfamiliar husband's malevolent tendencies that she vomits. Yet, later, when Sheriff Stupid visits, wondering if Stall really is a psycho, an out-of-the-blue tearful turn by Mrs. Stall makes him forget his doubts. Moments after he leaves, Mr. Stall attacks Mrs. Stall, and all of a sudden we have spousal rape on the stairs. It's a man's world for director Cronenberg.

I might have been able to take the movie more seriously if the fellow next to me hadn't yelped (literally!) every time the camera gazed lovingly at an exit wound.

I'll close with the quote that sums up Viggo Mortensen's performance, delivered by cliched bad guy Ed Harris, who says to him, "You're trying so hard to be someone you're not. It hurts to watch."


Oct 7, 2005


A while ago I wrote about gendered writing--or the lack thereof. My freshfolks got their biases thrown back in their faces this morning, when they incorrectly attributed gender to this anonymous writing sample.
Ok…As of now I am Completely obsessed with this book. I was wondering what the translator, Robert Fagles had to translate in The Odyssey by Homer. As in the Language he had to translate. Didn’t it say that Homer was writing in his own form of writing. What if its like Hieroglyphics O_O! I have learned that this book must have taken A REALLY LONGGGGGG TIMMEEEE TOOO MAKE!, and also translate. I also learned that as of now you can do anything you can set your mind too. Homer is an excessive writer, and uses the words, “Glistening, sparkle, and “happy words””. Some people think that the book is boring, or un-interesting, but I belive that this book took time, and time is converted into effort, therefor I think this is an awesume book, translated by Robert fagles.
So, what was the gender of the author?

Nope. You're wrong.

the world turned upside down

When Ann Coulter accuses Bush of thinking he can act like a "dictator for eight years," check to ensure that gravity still makes apples fall to the earth.

(Link compliments of Julian Sanchez.)

Oct 6, 2005

burbling good

A little while ago, writing about theories of aesthetics, I indulged in a silly hypothetical involving elephants and tummy rumbling. Lo and behold, S. Jhoanna Robledo explains what borborygmi are all about.


As an English teacher, one of the most difficult changes I've made in my personality is learning to tolerate fiction that used to nauseate me. I'm talking about fantasy, its cousins anime and manga, and all the fanfic they generate.

Four years ago, if you approached me bearing The Dragonriders of Pern, I'd launch into an Emily Rose spasm, flailing, screaming, knocking over furniture. One mention of wizards or warlocks would make me reach for a straightjacket--the one I keep in a closet in my classroom, just in case. If you drew cat-eyed females with raccoon tails, I'd channel Barney Fife.

What's changed in four years?

First, I actually read a fantasy book, and found that it passed through my system without so much as a hiccup. That was two summers ago, when I sat down and devoured The Lord of the Rings in two days. Enough fantasy, really, for a lifetime.

Second, I discovered that my most prolific student writers are fantasy nuts. They publish their own websites. They read a book a week, a series a year. They fill their journals with page after page describing characters, changing endings to established stories, or writing their own fantasy novels.

What's worse--better, I mean--is that they beg for criticism, continually pestering me about sentence structure, plot suggestions, word choices, spelling, and anything else they're working on. I've even had one student request that I announce his project to all my classes, in hopes that he can get someone to coauthor a novel about a kingdom in his head.

So, what's an English teacher to do? I hold my nose and read about Voltar and Zinfis and their troubles, the good dragons Mukto and Sree, the bad dragon Mnemoh, the lush land of Lurnifia and the glistening swords and lustrous helms of all the mighty warriors in the twelve villages, and offer better ways to recount the mythic history of the Bnan.

And I keep thinking, someday you'll grow out of this and tire of the genre. Because hope springs eternal from the Fount of Falafel.

Oct 5, 2005

"this cruel spectacle"

Abominable and shocking, or a tempest in a goldfish bowl?

I didn't hear you grousing about gas prices, did I?

A rant by guest blogger Mike Dean

Have you seen the gas prices? Can you believe it! It’s an outrage! An absolute outrage!

I feel better with that off my chest. It feels good to grandstand a little now and then, exercise my right to free-speech and all, just before getting in line to give someone $45 for another tank of gasoline. Because, sadly, I’m just like you. And you’re a punk. That’s right, I called you a punk. What are you going to do about it? Nothing? That’s what I thought. That’s what you do best.

The primary issue is not why they are so high; that would only be another pointless, knee-jerk, Us vs. Them political wrangling competition. The issue is how do we adjust? Or, better yet, how do we force change? No, not political change. That still leaves us in the same boat we are already in: dependent on the decisions of someone else to make our lives comfortable, all dictated by, and doled out, at their pace.

Campaigns are boot camp for professional liars, elections are rigged, leaders are scoundrels. I submit that anyone anxiously waiting for the next election, when we can get the right guy in office to fix our domestic problems, is delusional, naive, or both. Making our voices heard through the election process is becoming more of a joke all the time. Besides, that means your voice is being heard every couple years at the most. Would you like to be heard on a consistent basis? Would you like to be heard, counted and reckoned with every day? I can tell you what that will take. The solution is fairly easy. But you're not going to like it, so you're not going to do it. But, what the heck, I'll tell you anyway! Ready? Too bad.


That's right-- change. Not the government, not your job, not your surroundings. Change you. That's where it all starts. I told you you wouldn't like it. And if you're tuning out right about now, trust me, I'm hardly surprised. Punk.

The quickest, most efficient, long-term solution for facing this price gouging with a smile and fully extended finger is to become exempt from it. Or, at the least, much less affected by it. And that, my friends, is not in fighting for lower prices, it is in negating the necessity for your present volume of consumption of that product in your life. Your victory over the gas pump is not some far off political transformation. It is in present-day personal transformation. It is in your feet, your bike, your friends and public transportation; all of which transform your wallet. And that is what they'll hear--or, not hear, as the case may be. The sound of the till sitting idle is the only thing that will end this madness.

You are a consumer and that is your most powerful voice. You can be heard every single day by simply keeping your money in your pocket. Eventually, when you've kept enough of it, someone will ask you, "Hey, what's it gonna take to get some of those bills back in circulation?" At which point you issue your demands, whatever they may be.

You could start with, "Well, I want affordable fuel and I won't use any until the price comes down."

But you don't have to stop there. You might also throw in,

"I also want alternatives to fossil fuel. I want electric cars, cars that run on corn byproducts, solar cars, and I want some cars equipped with the engines that get 150 MPG. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You've had the plans for the engine propping up the short leg on your desk for 30 years. And those cars better look good, ride good and perform great! None of those ugly designs I see--I want a stylish car with adequate horsepower, a fast top speed and all the trimmings. We both know you can do that. You just choose not to because you have never had to. After all, why work so hard when what you've got is already turning in such tremendous profits, right! Well, those days are over, so you should probably work through lunch to get an early start or it's going to be a stark Christmas in your house."

Sounds good, huh? Believe it or not, you have that power already, but it's useless unless you exercise it. But that's always the hard part. Getting the membership to the club is easy; dragging your lazy butt out of bed to go to the club is another matter.

At the present, I couldn't care less about the luxury tax on yachts. You know why? Because I don't own one. The tax doesn't apply. The thought never crosses my mind. Well, except for now, because I thought it made a decent analogy. But, aside from right now, never. And don't miss the point to get off on some rant about me being self-centered, because every single one of us is more concerned with the matters that hit home in our own lives than we are with the problems that don't. Oh sure, they're important and we'd love to solve them, but first things first. The yacht crowd doesn't come before my grocery bill. Your concern is prioritized, same as mine.

Now, for the people who don't drive, or hardly ever drive, the gas prices are a non-issue in their personal lives. They don't care because they don’t affect them. And therein lies your victory. The moment you become less dependent on gasoline, you win, and before long your voice gets louder.

In a consumer-driven economy, change can happen quickly, unless the consumers are as lazy, spoiled and apathetic as the marketing teams think they are. And they are. Because for too many years we have allowed the marketing teams to tell us how we should be living. Now, too few people ever think for themselves. They only buy from the hippest stores after seeing the flashiest ads. In a word: lemmings. In two words: lazy lemmings.

Change is going to require effort. It's going to provide inconvenience. It's going to be a pain in the ass! And if this problem is bigger than you are, it's going to bring you defeat on a silver platter, muss your hair, call you names and give you a wedgie.

And please don’t pretend some stupid e-mail inspired daylong "gas-out" is going to do a bit of good. ("You mean you went a whole day without gas! My God, man, how did you survive?!") When in reality, everybody either filled up the day before or the day after and the books all balanced the same at the end of the month for the oil company.

Do you really think the Boston Tea Party would have worked if they have left the tea intact and promised to buy twice as much tomorrow? No! They destroyed it. That tea was never consumed, a total loss for the company. Thrown out with a healthy, "And stay out!" Now that’s a consumer-driven economy at work.

If you want the prices to drop you have to be willing to do without the product. Not just today or tomorrow, but for as long as it takes. You can change society by first changing yourself. But it takes effort. You can’t do it by whining or lobbying. You have to make the change where it will be felt the hardest- in their wallet. That requires you to start walking when practical, biking when practical, carpooling when practical, and changing your idea of what is "practical." Until you do, you will always be at the mercy of those you loathe.

You will finally be immune to high gas prices when you, A) no longer use gas, or, B) use significantly less gas. And when that happens on a national level, change will come in spades and the marketing teams will be knocking down your doors asking you how you’d like to live.

Will you do it? Nah, we both know better than that. You’ll wait for someone else to make the first move. You’ll figure there’s no way to change things on a national level. Heck, even a local level is going to cut into your TV and potato chips time. It’s all just too inconvenient. It’s not going to happen.

Oh sure, you could if you wanted, and you’ll derive some fleeting satisfaction at the power you almost have; some illusionary sense of strength when you see the sword you can’t quite lift, as you imagine the order it would command if only you could be bothered to try.

Yeah, you could do a lot of things. But you won’t. You’ll just sit around on your wedgie and complain.

Oct 4, 2005

the choking game

Apparently The Choking Game is roaring back into the public imagination. Deaths, concussions, strokes, skull fractures... even in nearby Elma.

Are such stupid behaviors unique to adolescents? Hardly. A daily trip to The Obscure Store will cure anyone of that notion.

The only concern with middle schoolers is that they're all cooped up in one place--the middle school--where memes defy the laws of physics and accelerate past the speed of light.

I attended Elma Middle School, site of the latest debacle. Back in my distant, foggy memories, I can see the idiotic pastimes of youth....

The Choking Game
As described in the link above. We--and by "we," I mean other students, because I was either too smart or too cowardly to try any of these things--would press our thumbs into our necks until we passed out. Remarkably, no one was hurt. We were lucky.

The Floss Game
Snort floss up your nose and cough it out your mouth, pulling it all the way through in an impressive biological demonstration of the nasal cavity.

Eraser Burns
The name is fairly self-explanatory. Take those great pink rubber erasers and rub them on a bare patch of skin until a nifty scar forms. "It doesn't hurt," the more macho swear up and down. (This was quickly banned, as administrators feared it would cause horrific infections. This was even before we knew about "flesh-eating bacteria." Who needed bacteria when an eraser would do?)

Bloody Knuckles, the Slapping Game, the Punching Game
Hit someone. They hit you back. Repeat indefinitely.

I'm sure you can think of others. Stupidity knows no bounds.

DISCLAIMER: This blog does not condone or encourage participation in any of the preceding activities. Natural selection doesn't need your help.

Oct 3, 2005

Seattle Times: fact-check, anyone?

The Seattle Times joins the growing chorus in support of I-901. In the middle of an otherwise bland editorial, this bomb gets dropped:
In Helena, Mont., a study found that the number of people going to the emergency room for heart attacks dropped by almost half after smoking was eliminated for six months in bars, restaurants and other workplaces.
Wow. That study has been so thoroughly debunked that recycling it is a form of palpable idiocy.

weirdest quote about Miers

From the JusticeMiers.com website:
"She's not a back-slapper. She's very businesslike," says Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, who has dated Miers over the years and has known her since he first became a lawyer at Locke Purnell in 1975. "She's also very kind. She always remembers everybody's birthday, and has a present for them. She'll be finding a present for somebody in the middle of the night," he says. "'Can't it wait until next week?' 'No, she'd say, 'It has to be done now.'"

(T.R. Goldman, "Down To The Last Detail," Legal Times, 12/15/04)

wool is in

We're not a union, we're just a bunch of disgruntled employees who have gathered together for a common purpose.
Searching for a voice in their work lives, employees of some central Florida Wal-Mart stores have formed a workers group to collectively air complaints about what they claim is shoddy treatment by the retail giant.

About 250 employees and former employees from 40 central Florida stores have joined the fledgling Wal-Mart Workers Association, spurred by what they say is a reduction of hours and schedule changes recently that might jeopardize health care benefits for some. Organizers say the word-of-mouth campaign is attracting 15 to 20 new members every week.
250 employees is about .27 percent of Wal-Mart's Florida workforce. But .27 percent ain't zero. Wal-Mart must be slipping.

Democrats Cave

Offer paltry opposition, confirming Miers after only four days

You read it here first.

Oct 2, 2005

statistical data on premarital sex in the Phil's.

Percentage of Filipino youth who admitted to having sex before marriage: 35%

Percentage of those who lied: 24.7%

Percentage of Filipino youth who denied having sex before marriage: 55%

Percentage of those who lied: 27%

Percentage of Filipino youth who refused to answer: 10%

Percentage of those who were silent out of guilt: 100%

Actual percentage of Filipino youth who engaged in premarital sex, combined from the previous statistics: 51.2%

Percentage of statistics that are trustworthy: 1.5%

[thirty-sixth in a series]

seeing through the haze

As I argued before, it doesn't always take a law.

oppressed? who's oppressed?

For a class, my wife has chosen this article as worthy of comment. The upshot: Karen Hughes, speaking to female Saudi Arabian university students, finds herself unexpectedly defending the American evangel of freedom.

I'm interested, but lazy, so I'll post choice tidbits from others, for your appraisal.
[responding to letters attacking Hughes] Is this what the left (I assume the letter-writers are left of center) has sunk to? Defending one of the world's most oppressive patriarchies -- where in 2001 15 teenage girls died in a fire at a school and dozens were injured because the religious police prevented them from leaving the school without their headscarves and tried to bar male rescuers from entering the building -- rather than allow that some "American values" may be worth emulating?

Is this an expression of principled multiculturalist idiocy, or would these women be singing a different tune if, say, Hillary Clinton rather than Karen Hughes had been the messenger? Either way, this is disgraceful.

Cathy Young, The Y Files

This is generally the point where I’m suppose to enlighten you all on how much America sucks and how you poor products of the inferior American education system just don’t understand. However, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to radically change the subject to anti-American snobbery. As this post is quickly getting too long for an enjoyable read, I will defer this next installment to a future post. Tune in next time for my theory on American self-perception that I call:

"Going Round the Twist"

?????, Life in Beirut

The last quote is by far my favorite. It is important to understand that this audience was not full of the conservative demographic of Saudi, but rather the liberal elite. I believe this goes to show a huge disconnect within the liberal ideology. The disconnect appears when the mantra of

We want equality
You do not have equality
Therefore you want equality

is faced with the liberal-culture mantra of

All peoples are created equal
Therefore all cultures are created equal
Therefore no culture is better than any other culture

J. James Mooney, In Search of Purple

As a Malaysian woman who has never had to seriously question my status in society, I have difficulty understanding how any woman can be happy with a gender-based driving ban. And I don't know if the 500 women picked to form Ms. Hughes' audience were hand-picked for their opinions but certainly, if a significant enough portion of women in Saudi or anywhere else in the Arab world are happy with the laws that affect their lives, then there should be no need to disbelieve them because of our own cultural baggage. If women in Afghanistan still prefer to wear the burqa because it makes them feel safer, then no one should be denigrating that choice just because we think it's silly, oppressive, uncomfortable and archaic. Similarly, if women in Saudi think they're getting a better deal by having men chauffering them around then we should keep the conviction that driving is integral to our freedom and equality to ourselves.

If the women affected are not that concerned, should America be concerned? Freedom is only freedom when the individual feels it.

Elina, Random Journey

Readings for one of my classes have recently been focusing on the artificial categories imposed on indigenous cultures by societies with universalist ambitions. Some of the writers argue, for example, that the British colonialists emphasized religious difference 1) because of their own particularistic experience of inter-denominational hostility, which they then projected onto others; and 2) because it was a useful tool for initiating sectarian animosity in a context where religious difference was not an overriding consideration. I can't help but think that something like #1 is maybe what is happening here. It is to some extent true, isn't it, that non-western women don't really feel oppressed until they are exposed to the ideas of western women, themselves motivated by the heavily-charged debates surrounding western patriarchy?

Then again, I'm sure the "happiness" of those who attended Hughes' "public" meeting is in no small part a function of the careful decision made to pick the "privileged elite" of Jeddah, "one of the more liberal areas of the country." A lot harder to accept one's lot when you are doubly disadvantaged as a women and of lesser socio-economic standing in a heavily class-based society. While it may be that Dr Nada Jambi, public health professor, is "not in any way barred from talking to the other sex," I have my doubts that this is the case in other, more conservative areas of the country, where the infamous "religious police" have much more sway.

Junaid, Prima Facie
The dialectic: always just a few mouse clicks away.

Update: Bruce Reed of Slate contributes.

nerd alert

The November L/D Debate topic has been posted.

Resolved: Judicial activism is necessary to protect the rights of American citizens.

Let the games begin.

the impossible dream

More proof that the purpose of education isn't learning, but socialization--at least to this group of British MPs.
'Careers advice should be given to every child of primary-school age,' said Barry Sheerman, a Labour member of the forum. 'For too many children, a future as a fairy princess or pop star is the only dream they have, and it doesn't occur to them to aspire to go to university, be a doctor or a scientist.

'It would, of course, have to be done in a delicate way,' he added. 'We are not suggesting sitting a five-year-old child down with a list of firm options but you need to inspire the imagination of the children to see where their potential could lead them.'
Next on the agenda: convincing wee tykes that Santa Claus isn't real.

confidential to my brother-in-law

If you skipped church to watch Cleveland battle for a wildcard spot, God will forgive.

Update: Or maybe not. Sorry, bro.


4th and 1 on their own thirty. Down by seven. Defense has been battered all day. I think: go for it. Holmgren calls a timeout, and the Hawks give it a shot. Hasselbeck fakes a slant and runs around the left side for an easy first down.

Even if they lose, I'll tip my hat to Holmgren for the gutsy call.

Update: We got the TD, and then intercepted Brunell. We're almost in field goal range. Could the east coast curse be history?

Update Update: Brown misses his second field goal of the day. Overtime. Sigh.

Update cubed: After a lineman watches an interception bounce off his hands to the ground, Brunell hits Santana Moss on the next play. Sets up a game-winning field goal for Washington. The curse lives. (1-12 in our past 13 trips to the eastern time zone.)

be amazed

Behold the power of the blog.

Which blog? This blog.

Oct 1, 2005

search me

Update: Now that it's reached its fortieth sixtieth eightieth birthday, I'm reposting this. Be amazed at the crazy searches that lead people hither.

Originally posted May 22, 2005.

Randomness and creativity are twin strands in the double helix of art, linked by hydrogen bonds of fun and van der Waals forces of excitement.

In a new series of articles, I'm going to title each entry with search terms once used to land on this very blog, and create something original based on what I imagine the searcher was looking for.

Hopefully, this will help future Googlers find better answers, and spur me on to new heights of relevance.

But no more jabbering: on to the series.

1. Oliver! and consciousness raising
2. how to join the dark side
3. pro-neo-darwinism
4. a monster for kids in English
5. the snakes join
6. a list of Jesus's 12 disciples
7. white people love Ichiro
8. noun and verb twins
9. join the dark side and get a cookie
10. Thurston County slogans
11. Joshua Golding
12. meaning of the Puerto Rican flag
13. girls eating maggots
14. Jesus sends out the twelve
15. Coldstone songs tips
16. Who finances Ramtha?
17. aspartame aftertaste
18. artificial blue roses
19. jody folkedahl
20. spelling bee fainting
21. than me or than I?
22. human weirdness
23. astrology chart prediction on Michael Jackson, 2005
24. Jesus's cryptic parables
25. rag peddler Jesus
26. what's wrong with flowery prose?
27. historical views of children
28. Splenda Hippocampus
29. statistics on rage towards umpires
30. how to get liars to admit the truth
31. I like to contradict myself
32. quotable quotes on restaurant ambience
33. your baby can read critical analyses
34. is Achilles a hero?
35. utilitarianism and wet-nursing
36. statistical data on premarital sex in the Phil's.
37. the grinch that stole christmas anagrams
38. yes in difernt language
39. Almond Joy has nuts
40. quick thing on real elephants
41. practical exercise for light English teaching
42. what was Jesus's philosophy?
43. communicatin' with the dead
44. how to avoid temptation
45. spanking can lead to bad behavior
46. reasons to love teaching
47. mad cow jello risk
48. artificial ballywho
49. Jim Anderson, God
50. how to make sure sperms are alive
51. Barbies with stinky breath
52. what the 12 disciples' names mean
53. Tim Eyman is anti-gay
54. the truth behind The Exorcism of Emily Rose
55. super bowel commercials sprint
56. proper casket viewing attire
57. four reasons evolution isn't right
58. triskaidekaphobia statistics
59. Jesus's real name
60. mock diamonds
61. "beanie baby" chaps cowboy directions
62. who invented nose hair trimmers?
63. how to make your sperms stronger
64. Jesus's birth certificate
65. who predicted NCAA bracket correctly
66. what's gonna happen to me in the future?
67. what was the name of Mercutio's brother?
68. Mason rules. Gators drool.
69. Kentucky's Nostradamus
70. unnamed poem by Jim Anderson
71. magnetic laundry system
72. statistical data on Anna Nicole Smith
73. Dear Lord, can you clear up my acne?
74. Romeo and Juliet: condensed version
75. you should not do that
76. toxoplasmosis telepathy
77. twelve disciples anagrams
78. the moral teaching of butter
79. proper attire for teaching
80. how to do parallel parking in US
81. Coldstone auditions
82. logic question to ask random people

humble pie

Last night's game was high school football heaven. With about four minutes left, down 14-7, Capital marched the length of the field, only to fumble near the ten. But the defense stood up to Oly, giving the Cougs a second chance with 38 ticks on the clock--until an interception on the final play sealed it for the Bears.

The wife and I watched it all from the endzone, shouting and clapping and holding our breath in the cool September air.

Sometimes, an easy victory is the worst possible prelude to a rivalry game. As standout Hala Ling put it, "We took them for granted." Olympia's swarming defense stuffed the run and negated the long pass, keeping the Cougars off-balance for almost the entire game.

Capital suffered a potential loss of their starting quarterback, Ben Cozad, but sophomore Evan Pettie showed signs of increasing confidence in his first fiery trial.

It's a tough loss, but we'll suck it up and roll again.

On to state.