January 31, 2005

I'm a Bad, Bad Daughter

So, Sunday was my parents' 51st Wedding Anniversary.

And I forgot all about it.

Whooops! My bad.

It's not like we're big on celebrating anniversaries in our family. We have enough birthdays to keep track of that we don't need to be adding busy work to the mix. Neither have Mom and Dad ever been big on celebrating their anniversary with their children. It's their day: not ours. But still, after last year, I should have remembered. Although, maybe I'll get a pass because last year--their 50th---was a big deal and we celebrated accordingly. All eight of us either flew or drove into town, families in tow (and in my case, Mr. H. as the husband was otherwise engaged) and we threw a big ol' party for them. We had a great time and so did they, which was particularly satisfying after listening to them protest for months that they didn't want this shindig. So, perhaps I'll get a pass. I hope so. I have a feeling once Mom reads this, she'll call me and let me know...she always does.

So, anyway, Happy Belated Anniversary Mom and Dad!


Aren't they cute?

Posted by Kathy at 11:29 PM | Comments (1)

Moral Equivalence At Its Finest

Instead of a Silly Germans story, you're getting a "Flamingly Idiotic Germans" story.

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

{...}Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits.

"Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?" said Miss Ulyanova.

Ulrich Kueperkoch wanted to open a brothel in Goerlitz, in former East Germany, but his local job centre withdrew his advertisement for 12 prostitutes, saying it would be impossible to find them.

Mr Kueperkoch said that he was confident of demand for a brothel in the area and planned to take a claim for compensation to the highest court. Prostitution was legalised in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime.{...}

{Empahsis mine}

While I generally believe that if you hand yourself over to social services, you well and truly should be at their mercy, that strings are always and forever attached, this is just absolutely outrageous and just plain wrong. Perhaps it might actually make women want to get off the welfare rolls, but threatening them with a loss of benefits if they don't start hooking---particularly if they're willing to work at other jobs---is barbaric. It just is. This is no different than someone who is out on the street and finds that this is the only way they can pay the bills. This is moral equivalence at its finest. Germany can't say a legal, tax-paying business isn't worthy of the best and brightest of its unemployed because---ahem---they refuse to distinguish brothels from other late-night businesses, such as bars. It's all about the hours of operations, don't you know? One late night job is the same as the next late-night job.

Germany's effort to be a place where freedom of choice is celebrated has limited the choices of some to refuse things they find morally repellant.

I hate prostitution. I really do. I believe it seriously damages the person who is forced into selling themselves. It tells them that all they have of value to offer society is their genitalia. How it degrades the act of sex is really beside the point here, but that's another serious problem I have with it. But mostly, I hate it because some people refuse to see the downside of prostitution. They close their eyes to it. They take the worldly view and say it's just consensual adults fooling around, and what's the harm in that---even if money is what is required for one parter to consent? Ironically enough, I find that attitude to be incredibly naive and lacking in sight. Also, I don't believe such an emotionally and physically damaging business should ever be allowed equal protection under the law. Think about it for a minute: if an employee is legally protected from ever having to work with asbestos or some other harmful object, why on earth should they be allowed to sell themselves? Sex can be just as life-threatening as working with asbestos: why should this be allowed? I know I don't have to worry about this happening any time soon, but it just flames me when people suggest this is the solution to the problem.

I fully realize that given my, er, adamant stance on this one, I will probably get zero replies, I would love to hear from all of you who believe that prostitution should be legalized on this. Because I know there are a goodly amount of you out there. Really and truly, I want to know what you think about this one, because this is precisely what could happen if such a thing were ever to pass muster here in the States. If you force brothels into paying taxes, they are granted rights in return, one of those rights being that they should be allowed to advertise for employees at unemployment centers, with all of the restrictions associated with such an advert. It could---conceivably---happen here. Does this change your view at all, knowing this could happen to someone you know and perhaps love?

{Hat tip:Villains Vanquished}

Posted by Kathy at 02:46 PM | Comments (7)

Literature Blegging

I might have mentioned in the past that a good friend of mine is a professional translator. She's one of those disgustingly clever trilingual people and has put those skills of hers to good use. While she's an online friend and I've never had the privilege and pleasure of meeting her in person (she lives in France), she's an astoundingly generous person. Simply because I asked, she enthusiastically translated more than a few bits and bobs from the manuscript into French. She's also answered many questions about French culture and society for me and is an all-around good egg. I love her to pieces and she's asked a favor, and while I would like to help her out, I find myself at something of a disadvantage.

To wit:

A friend who works with a French editor just called me, they are planning a new collection and he was told to find books by North American authors (recent enough to not have been translated yet, and not too famous). The general field is "man in politics and society, with family or sentimental background" and he was told to look for something along the lines of Philip Roth and Jonathan Franzen, with strong viewpoints and a good style.

Now, I generally don't read this sort of stuff. While I do like some literary fiction, more often than not I opt for the popular stuff. Anything that I might read along these lines will be well-known, hence disqualified.

So, I ask you, my devoted Cake Eater Readers, if you will please throw some suggestions out there that fit her friend's broad criteria. I don't think I have to point out to you that this is a great opportunity to help out an author whose work you loved, but whose achievements have been heretofore unrecognized. If you're a blogger and have written a post or two about this hypothetical author, attach links to those posts in your comments.

Both my friend and myself thank you in advance for any help you can give us.

Posted by Kathy at 11:42 AM | Comments (3)

Cartoon Monday II

{if size is your thing, click for larger}

The husband forwarded this to me. In the email he asked: are you sure Andy Rooney doesn't read Mac Hall?

I really don't think so, but it might just be time to pull out the tinfoil hats.

{...}One of the interesting things about all this is that people who live where there's a lot of bad weather, ice and snow, seem to get more done than people who live where it's sunny and warm all day.

Hawaii is a great state for a vacation -- really lovely. But I don’t think people who live in Hawaii do as much work as the people do who live in Alaska, Maine or North Dakota.


{Mac Hall can be found here every few days. Bookmark and enjoy.}

Posted by Kathy at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Cartoon Monday I



Let me state this clearly so you can get it the first time round:


I don't care if she slurps beer with her feet up on the table, smokes cigars, performs the obligatory fake crotch scratch in an effort to give herself machismo props. I don't care if this is some politically correct ploy to bring more females into the cast. Starbuck is not a chick. Starbuck always has been and always will be...


Got it?


And herein ends my one and only lecture on this topic.

{For being a party pooper, I extend my most sincere apologies to the very talented Barry T. Smith at inktank.com )

UPDATE: Dirk Agrees With Me!

(Many thanks to Pat for passing that along!)

Posted by Kathy at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2005

Seventy-Two Percent

Seventy-two percent of eligible voters in Iraq turned out to vote. Election officials have backtracked a bit from that percentage, saying it's more likely around sixty percent. Of course, there's also no way to independently verify any of this because the international observers who usually monitor such things were---ahem---too chickenshit to show up (they were afraid they'd be kidnapped). Still, though, it's awe-inducing.

Mohammed and Omar say it best:

{...}The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.

I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.{...}

Go read the whole thing.

While this victory did not come without costs, I, for one, am more than willing to pay the price demanded. It was our pleasure, my friends, to be able to share our liberty with you.

I am so happy for you!

Posted by Kathy at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2005

A Plea For Help

As I mentioned last week, Little Llama #4 is getting ready to make his grand entrance into the world. (and yes, it's definitely a "he")

Steve-o's in dire straits and needs your help. Mrs. Llamabutcher goes in on Monday to deliver the baby and they're still without a name. Steve's stuck on "Elvis Agamemnon."

Please go over and save the poor kid from this fate.

Posted by Kathy at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)


Really and truly, claims Noodles, there are nice, non-hackers who live in Hopkins.

Yeah, right, buddy. If that's your story, you stick with it. Mmmmhmmm.

We really do believe it.

Because Hopkins is such a crackden. It's one suburb in here the Cities that's just plain loaded with nefarious types.

Just kidding

Posted by Kathy at 12:30 AM | Comments (1)

January 28, 2005

The Shadows on Plato's Cave*

Rob may see the best "Half-Day Attraction in Orlando" when he looks at these pictures. He may remember that he had a very nice and interesting time hanging out with his sister.

That's nice.

All I see, however, are shoes. Lots and lots of shoes.

I am sooooo bad.


Posted by Kathy at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

Perez-Reverte Update: Redux

Arturo's been spouting off again: Fausta, as usual, has the scoop.

Posted by Kathy at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)

Just You Wait

Way back in the day, when I managed a Caribou, I would sneak outside for the occasional smoke break. Some of my customers cottoned onto the fact I was a smoker and tried to give me the whole "tsk-tsk" routine. It's so bad for you. You should really quit. Why do you need to do this anyway? You have to go outside in the freezing cold to fire up---isn't that a clue that perhaps you're doing something that's crazy? and so on and so forth.

If you're a smoker, you, too, undoubtedly have gotten these schpiels thrown at you. It's generally fine with me when someone does this. As long as they're not getting righteous about it, I choose to believe it simply means they're concerned for my well being. I know, most likely, their motivation for their speeches had nothing to do with my health, but rather their desire not to have to smell the smoke, but I can take that. They chose not to voice that concern. They chose to voice their concern about me. There's a difference.

What was funny, though, was when someone would get righteous with me and said cigarettes should be illegal. This presented a bit of a leap: these people morphed from concerned customer to activist. I told these people, hey, go right ahead and make them illegal...and just you wait. Once the government and the health advocacy groups don't have smokers to beat up on, they'll start aiming for other people. They'll go after the obsese, because of course they don't need to shove all that unhealthy food down their gullets. They'll go after people who eat too much refined sugar, because that causes Type 2 diabetes. What about red meat? Doesn't that lead to heart disease? Why, heck, they might just go after people who drink too much caffeine! Of course, I would generally say this to them right as I was handing them their coffee.

Talk about having all the tools at the ready to drive home a point. It was beautiful. The looks on their faces were priceless. They either scoffed or they looked abjectly horrified. The scoffers couldn't make the leap of the imagination. The horrifieds could make the leap, but they were far and few between. Privacy rights weren't all that big a deal five years ago.

Well, as it turns out, I was right.

Four workers in the United States have lost their jobs after refusing to take a test to see if they were smokers. They were employees of Michigan-based healthcare firm Weyco, which introduced a policy banning its staff from smoking - even away from the workplace.

The firm says the ban is to keep health costs down and has helped 14 staff to stop smoking, but opponents say the move is a violation of workers' rights.

If the firm survives a potential legal challenge, it could set a precedent.

Weyco gave its staff a stark ultimatum at the end of last year - either stop smoking completely on 1 January or leave their jobs.

The four workers who refused to take the test left their jobs voluntarily, although a lawyer for Weyco confirmed the company was preparing to dismiss them.

The firm says that, as its business is to help other firms save money and improve employee health through its benefit plans, it is only natural it should take a lead on the issue. {...}

You got that? If you're a Weyco employee and you smoke at home, you can be fired. They're all about leading by example.

When you read that little bit up there about them coming after you, you thought that was just BS, right?

Well, it's not.

{...}According to Reuters news agency, Mr Weyers wants to turn his attention next to overweight workers.

"We have to work on eating habits and getting people to exercise. But if you're obese, you're (legally) protected," he said. {...}

Whether this new litmus test will make it through the courts is up in the air. The privacy rights of the individual have been so eroded over the years, I can't make an accurate guess as to what the courts will do as a result. But you might want to pay attention---whether you're a smoker or a non-smoker---because anything you might do that could be considered unhealthy by someone could be banned. Furthermore, eating a can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles in your off-hours, if Mr. Weyers has his way, could potentially get you fired.

You could conceivably lose your job because you think you have rights you don't have. Why don't you have those rights? Well, because of all those public health precedents set by the anti-smoking lawsuits.

Well done, people! Good job. Enjoy your fat-free, caffeine-free, salt-free, sugar-free and smoke-free world! I hope you love it!

UPDATE: Might have been a little premature with my claims of sacking due to Pringle consumption. According to the Opinion Journal:

{...}The company can tell fat employees to slim down, but it can't try to save money on health care by firing them. According to a Weyco press release cited by WRAL.com yesterday: "Anyone concerned about limiting employers' rights to specify terms of employment should know that federal law protects people with conditions like obesity, alcoholism and AIDS."

Point taken.

How long, honestly, do you think obese workers will be protected? Particularly once people do studies correlating lost work time with obesity? Of course, then Congress will get into the act. Hmmm. You think that protection will last? Particularly since they have the public health precedents set up by anti-smoking lawsuits?

Slip, slip, slip goes the slope.

Posted by Kathy at 01:18 PM | Comments (1)


Sadie tagged me.

Apparently I'm pretty good with these meme thingys. I must deliver wit on tap now, eh? Oh, the PRESSURE to be a wise ass! God, it's positively crushing me. I don't know how I'll ever survive!


Random Ten

Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain

Yo-Yo Ma, Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Concertos

Ten Thousand Maniacs, In My Tribe

Concrete Blonde, Live in Brazil (Would be better if I didn't have to listen to Johnette Napolitano whine about how much she hates President Bush, but still, very very decent and a must have for any Concrete Blonde fan.)

Jack Johnson, Brushfire Fairytales

Guns n' Roses, Appetite for Destruction (We don't need no stinkin' Use Your Illusion bullshit here at the Cake Eater Pad. Ever since Axl's balls dropped, their music has been shit. Although, I have a feeling the husband would disagree.)

U2, The Joshua Tree. Best. U2. Album. Ever. (And that's sayin' something.)

Billy Joel, The Stranger. (I've had this album on vinyl. I've owned it on tape. I've owned it on CD. And now it's digitized. And yes, I do know every word on Scene from an Italian Restaurant.)

Joan Osborne, Righteous Love.

David Gray, White Ladder. (I just really love this guy.)

1. What is the total amount of music files on your computer?
6.15 GB. And, yes, I meant to put Gigs there. (Only 441.2 MB, Sadie? C'mon and play with the big dogs.)

2. The last CD you bought is:

The last CD I bought? Or the last CD I, er, appropriated?

Well, we'lll throw both out there for the heck of it. I want the RIAA breathing down my neck so I can coutersue and, eventually, hang their collective ass on my trophy wall.

Bought: Jamiroquai, Synkronized
Appropriated: U2, How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

3. What is the song you last listened to before this message?

Erm. I almost hate to admit this, but the husband dowloaded a bunch of Monty Python bits and bobs, and well, it's Every Sperm is Sacred from The Meaning of Life.

We have the Lumberjack song, too. And the Philosopher's Drinking song, as well.

4. Five songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

Dave Matthews Band, Say Goodbye. There was a time when I could identify with it. Now it just makes me wistful.

Bobby Darin, I'm Beginning To See The Light. Bobby was cool before Kevin Spacey made him cool.

Sarah McLachlan, Possession. Passion bottled.

Simon and Garfunkel, Kathy's Song. First, I'm fond of this song because no one ever writes songs for the Kathys of the world. Second, it really is a quietly beautiful piece of music.

U2, Where The Streets Have No Name. This song is pure rock and roll perfection. I could write a treatise about it.

5. Who are you gonna pass this stick to (five persons and why)?

Well, first and foremost, would be Robbo, because he's forever getting me into meme-trouble. And anyway, I'm sure he's just dying to be invited to participate. His case of the plague notwithstanding.

Next up is Fausta because I wanna see into her CD cabinet.

The blogchild will also have to participate. Because I'm her mommy and I said so.

Adrianne is up next. I want to see if there are any Bollywood soundtracks within her selections.

Finally, we have Margi. Because every opportunity we can give her to have the last word on any subject is well worth the time and effort it took to arrange it.

Posted by Kathy at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

Liberate the Louvre



Posted by Kathy at 10:49 PM | Comments (1)

That's a First

For the first time since I began wearing glasses at age eight, the opthamologist has told me that I do not need a new pair. My prescription has changed very little, he said, and not enough to warrant a new pair unless I want them.


So that's what that feels like. Cool.

Although I'm frickin' blind right now because my pupils are the size of dinner plates. Arggh. The light! The light! Someone turn off the blasted light!

Posted by Kathy at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)



That's as good a descriptor of my day as you're gonna get.

WARNING: RANT AHEAD. Duck and run if you feel the need.

The husband has vacated the premises. He has meetings this morning and a Microsquash seminar to attend this afternoon, so he'll be gone all day long. This is normally when I am the most productive. Not so today.

First, the husband missed his bus because he was putzing around. I never understand this: we literally live right across the fucking street from the bus stop yet HE CONSISTENTLY MISSES THE BUS because he's too busy with this, that or the other to get out there on time. I can deal with this, but it's becoming something of an annoyance, because it keeps happening over and over again. Anyway, he then calls me and asks me if can I go to the metro transit website and reroute him to see if he can make it over to St. Paul on time? I kept doing it wrong because I wasn't awake yet and he got impatient, I got impatient, I yipped at him. He kept his cool, but I could tell he was annoyed with me. Snipping at your spouse is not a great way to start your day. Trust me on this one. I still feel badly about it.

Then, not five minutes later, I get a call from the real estate people: there's been an offer on the house. The people who had put in the offer hadn't been able to see our apartment on their first shot through the house, could they please come through between noon and one today? Grrrrr.

This is just becoming one big annoyance. The real estate people keep testing our goodwill and it's pissing me off. By the terms of our lease---which are in accordance with Minnesota State Law---we are supposed to have 24 hours notice before our landlord can access our apartment. As the husband and I have to keep explaining to the little receptionist who keeps calling to schedule showings, TWENTY-FOUR HOURS MEANS TWENTY-FOUR HOURS! It does not mean schedule a ten-thirty a.m. showing for Tuesday at six-thirty p.m. Monday night, then call the tenants and ask them if that's ok. Argggh. We've been firm, but they keep doing this. That they have to coordinate with the people downstairs doesn't help either because they don't think they can say 'no'.

Add that to the fact we have not yet received our new lease from the Great White Hunter landlord, and there's been an offer. Just marvelous, eh?

Next up on the list o' whines: I have my opthamologist appointment at one. I don't have an issue with this. This is fine. It needs to happen. But I hate having my eyes dilated. I'm not a big fan of eye drops in the first place, but these sting. Then you have the fun of trying to get home without seeing too much because of all the damn light! Aieeeee.

After that, I have to try and get a hold of the husband's probation officer. He wants to talk to me to confirm that the husband isn't drinking. Great. I just adore being put in this position. It's not like the husband is drinking. He hasn't had a drink for going on two years. He doesn't want one, either. But it's not like the State of Minnesota believes any of that given his record, so where do they go for confirmation of the husband's claims?


Apparently the fact he's enrolled in a fully licensed and state approved aftercare program isn't good enough for them.

I have to call this guy and be interrogated. And it's not like I've got a choice, either, because if I don't call this guy and subject myself to interrogation, they'll become suspicious of the husband and will insist on greater supervision. While this phone call will last for exactly two minutes, it still bugs me. Undoubtedly I'm blowing it out of proportion, but it's just one more brick added to a huge stack of bricks and it annoys me. The whole thing makes me feel like I'm being used. They put me between the rock and the hard place, because of course I want the husband to be done with all of this, yet I don't have a choice about my cooperation. The husband will pay if I don't cooperate. They're taking advantage of my need to be done with all of this. And I REALLY DON'T LIKE IT.

I'm a firm believer, because I've lived it, that the State will use any means to get drunk drivers to end their wicked ways, and if that means making life difficult for the drunk driver's spouse, they'll do it. Think about it: when a drunk driver loses their license, who winds up driving them around? Their spouse, mostly. When a drunk driver is fined up the wazoo, whose finances are hurt just as badly as the drunk drivers? The spouses. I could go on, but I think you get the gist: they don't give a damn about the havoc they wreak on people who had nothing to do with the original offense. They're just collateral damage, and honestly, if they'd just had the good sense to take the keys away, they wouldn't be going through this in the first place. It's their own damn fault. Well, I was in Montana for this last one: explain to me how, being a thousand miles away, I was supposed to keep the husband, a licensed and insured driver, from getting behind the wheel?

Sorry. I get a little bitter about this shit.

Ah, anyway, I have to go and get my eyes dilated and be subjected to a round of "better one? better two? better one? better two?"

Posted by Kathy at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)



The husband, the resident German speaker, translates Arbeit Macht Frei as "Work Will Set You Free." He also says the literal translation would be "Work Makes Free." On the whole, these are fairly harmless words. One conceivably could use this phrase in reference to the myriad metaphysical woes we run through on a daily basis. Find Solace in Your Work has been said to many a person suffering through a personal loss. And it's true: there is solace to be found in work. Freedom, even. You can find freedom from your troubles in work because the work distracts you. These words are harmless. Annoyingly true---like all good cliches inevitably are---yet harmless.

Until the location of this gate loads them with a sense of efficient barbarism that can and should make your skin crawl.

This is an early photograph of the gates of Auschwitz.

Taken into this contex, the innocuous words, work will set you free, should make you wonder about the sadism of words.

Can you even begin to imagine what it was like to see those words? To finally know your fate after so many years of not knowing? So many years of having your rights, as a citizen of a supposed civilized society, be taken from you, one by one, until there were no more rights left. So many years of being treated as a pariah. So many years of wondering what it could possibly come to. Can you begin to imagine the idea that these words were intentionally placed to give hope? To lull Jews into a sense of false security so they wouldn't make life difficult for their murderers?

I wonder how many Jews saw those words and, while not completely free of fear, breathed a very small sigh of relief, not realizing they were simply empty words. How many said, Oh, it's just a work camp. The rumors weren't true after all. It's a question that will never be answered, because those who asked it, mostly, aren't around to answer it.

Today is the 60th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

We talk a good game about never letting something like this ever happen again. We educate. We make movies. Books are published. Scholars dissect the history of those ages. We remember days like today. Yet, on the whole, we have failed. Genocides are an every day occurance, it seems. From Bosnia to Rwanda to Darfur, genocide is a thing that, unlike smallpox, hasn't been innoculated into eradication. We have yet to figure this one out. We have yet to figure out why people are driven by such hatred and envy to wipe their fellow human beings from the face of the earth for no other sin than being who they are.

I wonder if it doesn't have something to do with our imaginations and our failure to use them.

We, for the most part, refuse to walk a mile in the shoes of the suffering. We see them on the news, we say "how horrible!" then we go right back to doing whatever it was we were working on before we were interrupted. We might write a check to a relief organization. We might call our elected representatives to ask them to do something, but we don't really hold their feet to the fire about it, either. We lack a passion for the sanctity of life---unless it's our lives that are on the line. If it happens on the other side of the world, well, there really wasn't much we could do, was there?

The phrase, "the world closed their eyes" is often thrown about when it comes time for reckoning, but I think that's partially wrong. People not only close their eyes, they also shut down their minds. They don't want to think about this sort of thing. They don't want to be reminded that it could happen to them. They don't want to know about the suffering other than what they hear on the news, nicely segmented into two minute slots, because all sorts of uncomfortable thoughts might arise. They don't want to walk a mile in someone's else's shoes: they don't want to even slip their big toe into the wingtip.

Yet, there is a morbid fascination, isn't there, about genocides and how people suffered. The Holocaust in particular. People want to understand why six million people were slaughtered. Six million is a mind-boggling number, but it's also round and impressive in its largesse. They want to know why it happened, to see if there isn't a lesson to be learned about how to prevent such a thing from ever happening again. They watch the History Channel. They rent Schindler's List and weep when they see the little girl in the red coat obliviously meander her way through the Warsaw ghetto. They know what her fate is. They are moved by this imagery and thanks to accuracy in filmmaking no detail is missed, either. When the film is over, they might wonder about it all, but they don't really have to imagine it, either, because it's all there: all the gory details are aid out in black and white. They can turn off their TV's and go to bed, slightly disturbed by the movie, but knowing they're safe in their world. They might even be thankful that something like that couldn't ever happen to them.

Because absolutely nothing was left to the imagination, these people who sleep soundly after having watched a film like that, have never had to wonder about the possibility of such a thing ever happening to them. They are removed from it. Their hearts might have been engaged for a few hours, but their minds will go back to wondering about when the mortgage payment is due rather quickly.

Imagination is a funny thing. It can produce flights of fancy just as easily as it can nightmares. Yet the one thing that's universal to imagination is that we experience things first hand when we imagine. We wonder what we would do differently. How we would have handled it. Imagination forces the first-person experience upon those who will never have to suffer through the actual event. Yet, thanks to education, the world knows. We've seen. The work done educating the world about the Holocaust, by all rights, should have been enough to prevent a thousand genocides. Yet it hasn't. It is not the fault of the educators, but rather it is ours. We fail them every time a genocide comes along because we shut down our minds. In failing to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, we are just as apathetic as those who knowingly allow a genocide to occur. Our sympathy and erudition do nothing to stop the guys with the guns.

Imagine it. Today of all days. You can take some time to let your mind wander about it. Those who weren't liberated sixty years ago today, but who instead died a nameless death, ask it of you.

Posted by Kathy at 01:37 AM | Comments (1)

January 26, 2005

More From The Llama's Sekrit Scrapbook


The caption reads:

Man, this is the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! 40 doesn't suck quite so badly when you're snuggled up in Patricia "Hottie" Heaton's lap! And look at all the loot she brought for me! Wall to wall presents! Not like anything will compare to the present dear Patricia gave me with her presence, but I'll take what I can get. The interesting thing about this photo, surprisingly, isn't the photo itself. Right after it was taken, she leaned down and, into my fabulous ear, whispered...

Happy 40th Birthday Robbo!

Posted by Kathy at 01:33 PM | Comments (2)

Techie Wednesday

Here's some interesting stuff for you, my devoted Cake Eater Readers.

Because I love you. And if I don't keep you up on this stuff, well, who will? Because we all know that if you're surfing here, you're probably not surfing here

First up, courtesy of Mr. JVL, here's one interesting view of how our media might evolve. If you've ever wondered what Google's master plan is, well, I think this might give you a clue to their strategy. It certainly gave me one. {Insert warnings about grains of salt, etc. here}

Then we have this lovely little blogging tool from the Enlightened Cynic (aka the husband).

To try and be concise about it, if you're a blogger and you hate linking to NY Times stories because of registration woes or because the permalink will be dead three weeks after the original publication---and then they'll try to charge you for access---know that these guys have found a way to circumvent this noosey-nonsense. In essence, they have hacked the NY Times' RSS feed and have provided their own link generator.

I have a feeling this is a result of hackers/tech savvy bloggers taking umbrage at Arthur Sulzberger, Jr's incredulity over consumers---gasp!---expectation of free content. I don't know about the ethics of all this, but I will say this much: if I can access old NY Times articles at the library on microfiche, well, I don't see why I shouldn't be able to access their old articles online for free.

I don't know how long this link generator will work, but I'd be interested in hearing what people think about the big picture that this move represents. I believe that this is just one more example of the information revolt and how we're moving toward 24/7/365 free content. For any security feature that's introduced, the hackers will generate an answer. The question will be, when will the Times et. al., get this and come to a different way of tackling the problem? This tit for tat bullshit gets a bit annoying.

Posted by Kathy at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

Fun Fun Fun

Ummm, remember the snowmen in Calvin and Hobbes?

Let's just say they provided some inspiration for some bored, snowbound people. (scroll down to see the pics)


{Hat tip: Michele}

Posted by Kathy at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

The Gods Of Advertising Are Weeping on Mount Madison Avenue

The crack young staff of "The Hatemonger's Quarterly" is on a roll when it comes to dissecting things like grammatical goofs in the Applebee's theme song and The Pottery Barn Rule.

Need a sampling?

Accordingly, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” found ourselves deeply distressed by the name of this new military law. We pined to give other American establishments the opportunity to have a clever law named after them. This, surely, would help jump-start the economy just like President Bush’s temporary-cum-permanent tax cuts did.

Without further ado, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are therefore pleased as petulant pigs to present:

The Official “Hatemonger’s Quarterly” Variations on the “Pottery Barn Rule”:

1. The Pier-1 Imports Rule: “You Sit on It, You Break It, Since It’s Inevitably Made of Wicker.”

2. The Sharper Image Rule: “You Break It, You Pretend You Didn’t, and Then You Blame the Next Guy Who Fiddles with It.”

3. The Body Shop Rule: “You Break It, and Then You Use It for Animal Testing.”

4. The Benetton Rule: “You Break It, and Then You Caterwaul against the Death Penalty.”

5. The Marshalls Rule: “You Break It, You Buy It, But at Least It Was Cheap.”

6. The Brookstone Rule: [See The Sharper Image Rule. It’s the same.]

7. The Abercrombie & Fitch Rule: “You Break It, You Buy It, and Then You Glory in Homoerotic Kiddie Porn Advertisiing.”

8. The Orange Julius Rule: “You Go Bankrupt.”


Posted by Kathy at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2005

But I Wanna Be The Quarterback!

Eric Crouch has finally given up the dream of playing quarterback and has signed with the Chiefs to play as a defensive back.

Well, it's about time, you freakin' idiot.

Methinks this is more about the fact he's got mouths to feed and a Husker football commentator position at Omaha's Channel 7 doesn't pay nearly as well as the minimum salary for the NFL, but that's probably just me. I don't think those local car dealership endorsement deals were cutting it, either.

Crouch's head was allowed to swell to gigantic proportions as a result of his Heisman win. He honestly and truly believed he should have replaced Kurt Warner and Bret Favre on their respective teams. He'd won a Heisman, after all. They hadn't.


It's good to see that he's been officially humbled and that his head can return to normal size.

Posted by Kathy at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Happiness Isn't A Warm Puppy

It's Michael Moore being shut out in the Oscar nominations.

Yeah, that Best Picture-only business really worked, didn't it, Mike?

Can't wait to read his next letter to all of his devoted fans. Heh.

Posted by Kathy at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Insert the Sound of Heads Whipping Round Fast Enough to Break Mach I Here

Dear God in Heaven.

To answer Michele's question: If I had a daughter, no, I would not let her even contemplate purchasing that dress for prom, let alone allow her to leave the house wearing that. In fact, I do believe the husband would lock said imaginary daughter in a closet until she came to her senses.

Any parent who buys that dress for their daughter should expect to become a grandparent nine months after prom. I hope they're ready for it.

Posted by Kathy at 11:50 PM | Comments (2)

Knickers. Twisted.

Drew's got em all bunched up.

While I respect Drew's arguments, and question The New York Times' and Time's motives and characterizations, the fundamental point remains clear: questioning the teaching of the Theory of Evolution in schools is backdooring the teaching of Creationism. Because, after all, when one theory evaporates, something generally takes its place. What's the only other option, besides Intelligent Design, that explains it all? Mmmhmmm. You guessed it: creationism.

Darwin's Origin of Species while optimistically titled, has been presented over the years as a theory. It also happens to be a theory that cannot ever be proved until someone provides us mere human beings with an accurate timeline of just what occurred on this planet, how it happened and when it happened. I'm not saying that there aren't problems with Darwin's work: there are. However, we simply do not have an acceptable theory to replace it. It just happens to be the one that makes the most sense, hence its wide acceptance in the scientific community.

The problem occurs when creationists try to make hay with the "theory" business, knowing that no one can ever prove them wrong. This is their silver bullet that cuts right through the bullshit. And, to my mind, it's a logical fallacy that has no end. They conveniently ignore that "Creationism" is a theory as well.

This debate is about which unprovable theory should be taught in public schools.

I present, for your consideration, the game of "Which Scenario Is More Likely":

That God created everything in six days, took the seventh to kick back and slurp some brewskies. He then created man, and so he wouldn't be lonely, took one of man's ribs and created woman around it. Then he told man and woman never to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge because it was off-limits. The Devil---conveniently in the form of a serpent---tempts woman into eating the fruit. Subsequently, she lures man into eating it as well. God boots them from the Garden of Eden and sends them off into the wilderness, considerably bewildered as to why these ungrateful wretches had countermanded his order.


The Earth is one big puddle of primordial, carbon-based goo. The essential elements for life are there. Nothing happens for a long, long time. We don't know what, but something eventually sparks life. One celled creatures appear and everything evolves over millions of years. Features on everything and everyone that are useful are propagated into the next generation by means of choosy reproduction.

Now to judge which scenario is more likely, I give you Occam's Razor as your yardstick. Using Occam's Razor, which dictates that the simplest explanation is almost always the correct one, which scenario seems more likely to you? Knowing that both options seem fantastic and beggar belief?

I choose evolution.

While I don't buy it exactly as Darwin presented it, it does make sense. Technically speaking, you could probably lump me in with the Intelligent Design people. I think God was the spark to the goo.

And I'm Catholic. I am a direct beneficiary of this "give them a choice" business that creationists are trying to install as the standard, because it was what I was taught in the Catholic schools I attended. Darwinism was a "theory." We were supposed to believe in creationism, but just to make sure we had all the options, Darwinism was presented in the course materials. It was confusing, to say the least. What earns you brownie points with the priest does not earn you the same number of points with your science teacher. I can tell you from experience that we all pretty much leaned toward Evolution at the end of those science classes and you would have had to have been a nitwit to think otherwise. We just kept our mouths shut in religion class when the subject was raised.

If you want your kids to learn about creationism, fine. Great. That's wonderful. Just don't insist they learn it in the public schools. It's disingenuous in the extreme to think that Darwinism is so easily discounted simply because it's a "theory." You're simply going to have to do more work than that to disprove it. The genie's out of the bottle: just try and shove that beast back in. It won't work.

This move is intellectually dishonest in that it claims to be honest. It claims to offer "choice" for students. Until someone comes up with something better, well, there shouldn't be any choice on this one because one version of our origins relies upon God and the other relies upon empirical evidence and more than a bit of educated guessing. God---anyone's God---does not belong in a public school that is paid for by everyone, even people who don't believe in God, or people who believe in a different God. Church and State are separated in this country for a friggin' reason and this is the way it should remain. If you really want your children to learn creationism in school, well, might I suggest that you enroll your child in a parochial school? I would recommend the same thing if you want your child to pray in school.

There is simply no room to maneuver on anything religious based in the public school system, because if you start letting religion in, where does it stop? Where is that line drawn? We Americans have this lovely habit of assuming everyone is a Christian. While Jews share the same story of creationism with Christians, what about the Hindus? What about the Muslims? What about the Bhuddists? And so on and so forth. If a strictly Christian version of creationism was eventually put into place, well, whose version of the Bible would be used to teach this theory? The Evangelicals? Or the Catholics?

This country was founded by Christians who had been persecuted for their religious beliefs by other Christians. Once you bring religion into it, it's darned hard to get it out again.

UPDATE Drew comments further in the comments section and over at his blog. Go Read. I comment further as well, in the nifty comments section right below!

Posted by Kathy at 03:38 PM | Comments (5)

Casting Couch

Our benevolent Munuvian dictator asks:

When they make MuNu: The Movie, who will play you? And feel free to make nominations for the other Munus.


I have no idea who would play me. And I'm not making any suggestions, either, lest it come back and bite me on the behind.

Rocket Jones has suggested Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall for our beloved Llamas.

Personally, I think Lenny and Squiggy would better suit Steve and Rob. The symmetry is just too perfect and overwhelming to ignore.

As far as any other suggestions I might have, well...Tom Amandes would work perfectly for Random Pensees. I'm getting a Carrie-Anne Moss-in-a-catsuit vibe for Sadie.Harrison Ford, of course, for Dr. Rusty. Because you know he's all about fighting the powers that be! And, of course, Dennis Quaid for John L. Because Texans should play Texans.

UPDATE: Oh, dear. The boys appear to be undecided about who should play me. Robbo apparently wants Helen Hunt. Steve thinks otherwise. Of course, this is only if I'm reading all that "ontological crisis of the space-time continuum" business correctly. And we know that I might not be: I'm stupid like that.


Super sekrit message to Robbo: Helen Hunt???? I can't tell if this is payback or a compliment.

UPDATE DEUX: Sadie, very kindly, says I "{...}have a Kristen Davis thing going on." WOOHOO!

She also has an interesting suggestion for the Llamas. (Snort)

John L. over at Texas Best Grok, working upon my suggestion that Texans should play Texans has a poll up as to just which Texan should play him. He likes the Texan suggestion, but dislikes my choice of Dennis Quaid. Go on over and tell him who you want.

Posted by Kathy at 01:21 PM | Comments (4)


Upon the urging of environmentalists,San Francisco wants to tax its residents 17% for plastic grocery bags. And just so they don't come off as being discriminatory, they're going to go for the paper bag users as well.

The point of all this being to "encourage" people to use their own bags to cart home groceries. It's more evironmentally-friendly, of course. Because these plastic bags wind up in trees, in the bay, etc.

And this comes after the Board of Supervisors passed "A new "backyard dog" law {which} says canines are entitled to a change of water once a day, palatable and nutritious food in a non-tipping bowl, and a dog house with a top, bottom and three sides. Tying up the dog is highly discouraged. "

San Francisco is a beautiful town. I love visiting, but as the saying goes, I wouldn't want to live there. Mainly because the residents of that fair fiefdom have their priorities out of whack.

There is a large contingent of homeless people who live there. They are, quite literally, everywhere. You cannot walk down the street without being accosted by panhandlers. The majority of the homeless I encountered were very, very ill. Most belonged in a hospital and should have been receiving treatment for whatever ails them. But they're not. Why? Because it's too expensive.

According to a native we became chummy with while we were there, the State decided it could no longer afford to pay for their upkeep and let them out. Willie Brown---Mr. Personality himself---as Mayor decided the city couldn't pay for their treatment either. But he didn't let them walk away emptyhanded, either: they receive a benefit from the City which, when added to their Social Security payments, adds up to about $800 a month. Just enough money to keep them self-medicated with booze or drugs, but not enough to help them afford treatment or a place to stay.

While we were there, we stayed in a hotel that bordered the Tenderloin district. It was very noisy at night, with lots of homeless people loitering about and screaming at one another. We wondered why they liked to gather right outside our hotel room window. Turns out there was a convenience store right next door that allowed the homeless to---ahem---run up tabs on liquor purchases. All they had to do to receive this marvelous service was to sign over their assistance checks once a month. And of course the convenience store doubled as a post office, too. Wouldn't want those checks going anywhere else, would they?

What's worse is how the homeless have become so accustomed to not receiving any help from anyone that if you do try to help, well, they'll turn on you. As we were there for a convention, we hosted some receptions and of course there was some leftover food. I asked the waiter if we shouldn't give it to the homeless that were wandering around. He told me, very gently, that while a very nice idea, that he wouldn't do it, because he feared for his safety. And he wouldn't let me do it, either. He said I would be mobbed and attacked. I let the matter go, but it seemed awful to have leftover food that could have done someone some good go in the trash. Particularly when those it would have done the most good were, literally, right outside the door. The leftovers wound up going home with the waiter.

This is how San Francisco deals with their homeless problem. It's an absolute shame and as far as I can see, no one on the Board of Supervisors is interested in dealing with the problem unless they get a fat check from the State or the Feds to tackle it. Gavin Newsom is the new Willie Brown. That they would worry more about dogs being chained up in backyards or that people should bring their own grocery sacks to the store is shameful.

Which judgment, of course, they would reject as bogus because there is no such thing as shame and how horrible of me to throw my Midwestern, faith-based construct on their lofty ideals. They don't deserve that. How dare I judge them. Their ideals are lofty. They came out of Berkeley: they must be correct. Their ideals are fantastic, because everyone's equal and no one is judged poorly for their behavior. Their ideals also allow them to rip anyone who doesn't agree with them a new one as much as they want. Their ideals mean that Golden Gate Park was really set up for protests, not for the enjoyment of their fellow citizens. Their ideals ensure the best of treatment for puppies and the environment. But their ideals also do absolutely nothing for the neediest of human beings they ignore every damn day of the week.

I hope they rot in hell. Because I do believe hell exists, even if they don't.

Posted by Kathy at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2005

Blowing The Stink Off

Yep. We got out of the house last night and blew some of the stink off.

You're shocked, right? I know. I know. We never leave this place. We're pathetic. We fully realize this and will be trying to remedy this in the coming months. Anyway, we made a start last night when we meandered down to Keegan's to attend the MOB Bash.

It was quite the experience.

I finally got to meet my wing man and his lovely wife. Gary, very chivalrously I thought, ignored the rudeness of my demand that he buy me a drink and bought me one anyway. Sweet man with a sweet wife, who I might add, does something that I could never do: she homeschools their three kids. Even better, though, she enthusiastically said, "it's fun." My hat's off. They disappeared before I could say goodbye, but it was very nice to finally meet Gary, even though he pointed out that he's very disappointed with me for this post.

As Keegan's was packed to the brim with bloggers (even a few who were liveblogging the event), it was kind of hard not to meet people. I was very fortunate to add Douglas of Belief Seeking Understanding, John of The First Ring (the other fellow Cake Eater City resident present at the party) Noodles of The People's Republic of Minnesota, Ellen of Mama Ellen and her husband Doug of Bogus Gold, the very enjoyable Cathy from Cathy In The Wright and Jordan from Jo's Attic (both of whom, very bravely, showed up in their jammies) to my acquaintance. I also was pleased to meet Flash from Centrisity, one of the few liberal bloggers amidst the the hordes of conservatives, Mitch Berg from Shot in the Dark, and two out of the four Fraters, Chad and Saint Paul.

There were, according to Mitch, lots of political and media movers and shakers there. I didn't meet any of them. Apparently I don't rate and that's just fine with me. Although, I did recognize local Republican activist/consultant Sarah Janacek, but that's only because she's on the news regularly. As far as the media people were concerned, well, I did meet Mischke's producer, who was a very nice guy and who doesn't deserve the fate of me not remembering his name. Sorry. I also met Bob Davis' producer, Kodiak. Scott Johnson from Powerline was there, too, and created quite the stir when he entered, but he was surrounded from the moment he entered Keegan's and there wasn't any opportunity for causal chit-chat, so I didn't meet him.

And just because I know those of you who don't live here are curious, yes, Lileks was in attendance. Gary, very wisely, brought his copies of Lileks' books along with him and got them signed. Gary said something about them going up on Ebay today, so you might want to check. (And, yes, he was joking. He's not giving up those suckers for love nor money.) So, did I meet the great man? you ask.


All evening long I stood no further than ten feet away from Lileks. Could I work up the courage to chat with the man? Nope. I am the world's biggest chicken. I don't know exactly what it is about talking with people I admire: I freak out, then I freeze up. I don't want to sound like a blathering idiot, or clam up so I generally just avoid the situation entirely and dodge and duck around like a dolt. The husband has no fear, however, and went up and chatted with him. Of course, he had the cigar opening to work with (Lileks and crew had fired up, despite the bar not allowing for cigar smoking). During their brief conversation, the husband says he pointed me out to him. I doubt I rang a bell. The Giant Swede was there, as well, and the husband got to chatting with him and introduced me. It took me a few minutes to cotton on to the fact that he was, in fact, The Giant Swede. I know, stupid me, but he was introduced by his actual name and I didn't make the leap that he would be in attendance. (Neither did he seem gigantic. He's somewhere around 6'2"-6'4". I've got nephews who top him easily. That and I'm relatively short. Just about everyone's taller than me.) We had a lovely conversation with him about all sorts of stuff. A very nice man.

Anyway, we had a great time meetin' and greetin' and can't wait for the next gathering.

So long as it's not over at the State Fair.

Posted by Kathy at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2005

Perez-Reverte Update

At the Bad Hair Blog.

Plus Fausta points me to an aggregator for Spanish blogs that are also in English.

Hot damn!

Posted by Kathy at 01:31 PM | Comments (1)

Wastes of Space

Courtesy of the Pious Agnostic, who got it from the Diplomad, we have the lovely tale of a sailor besieged aboard his own ship: the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is currently helping tsunami survivors in Indonesia.

Who is besieging him? you ask. Well, the answer would be relief workers. And reporters. And various officials who want to get in on the action.

{...}What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln’s wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship’s company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.

What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations. Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform. They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland.

My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight.

As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of “Nice china, really makes me feel special,” in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place.

{...}As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these “relief workers” from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night in-country, and have made us their guardians by default.

When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, “We aren’t paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to.”

In addition to the relief workers, we routinely get tasked with hauling around reporters and various low-level “VIPs,” which further wastes valuable helo lift that could be used to carry supplies. We had to dedicate two helos and a C-2 cargo plane for America-hater Dan Rather and his entourage of door holders and briefcase carriers from CBS News. Another camera crew was from MTV. I doubt if we’ll get any good PR from them, since the cable channel is banned in Muslim countries. We also had to dedicate a helo and crew to fly around the vice mayor of Phoenix, Ariz., one day. Everyone wants in on the action.

As for the Indonesian officers, while their job is apparently to encourage our leaving as soon as possible, all they seem to do in the meantime is smoke cigarettes. They want our money and our help but they don’t want their population to see that Americans are doing far more for them in two weeks than their own government has ever done or will ever do for them. {...}

Go read the whole thing. (They've been having issues with their server. If you can't get through the first time, keep checking. It's worth the extra effort.)

Ugh. This tale reminds me of the time when I was living in Iowa. During the summer of 1993, the 500 year flood rolled through. To put it lightly, the entire state was thoroughly soaked and flooded and Des Moines, in particular, had some issues with clean drinking water as their poorly placed water works had been taken entirely offline by the flooding. The husband, who at that time was "The Boyfriend", was drafted on a hot, sunny Sunday, by his Des Moines-living parents to bring bottled water down to the homefront because they had no potable water. After cleaning out the local Hy-Vee, we drove down to Des Moines and let me tell you, that was one car ride I'll never forget.

Getting into town was exceedingly tricky. There are two rivers that flow through the city: the Raccoon, which comes in through West Des Moines and flows in a southeasterly direction toward downtown, where it meets up with the Des Moines river, which comes into town from the northwest. Because both rivers had slipped their banks, numerous freeways were blocked off. We finally made it into the city by taking the South East 14th Street bridge, a sturdy, utilitarian suspension number that was originally designed as a railway bridge, but had been converted to carry cars. The bridge wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.

That was one scary ride. The river was about two feet below the bridge, where, when the river wasn't flooded, there was usually about fifty feet of space. I remember vividly that there was a huge tree that was working its way downstream as we were crossing. If it didn't clear the bridge, well, that bridge was toast. Did I mention that, since this was the only accessible bridge that there was a bit of a traffic jam going on? Well, there was. You live in a city with a quarter of a million people and suddenly there's absolutely NO drinking water, and you'll be stuck in a traffic jam as well, because everyone and their mother is out scavenging for water for their families. I remember sitting there with the husband and trying not to freak out about that tree. It did clear the bridge. Just at the right time, the tree sunk into the rushing water, as if God had pushed it down, and the next thing we all knew, it was floating through on the other side. We made it to the inlaws house and all was well, but the situation in town was exceedingly dire. No water for a quarter of a million people? That's bad news, baby. And something had to be done.

Over the next couple of days, the National Guard and the Red Cross had a chance to get things under control, and slowly things worked themselves into a sense of normality. People would bring plastic jugs to water trucks stationed all over the city. No one knew when the water would be back up and running, but it was time to focus on getting that job done, because the essentials had been taken care of. While the panic was apparent on that Sunday, by Tuesday, priorities had changed and at the top of that list was to get the water works back up and running. The Iowa National Guard had put out a call to civilians to come and fill sandbags. The situation goes something like this: fill sandbags, carry them to the water works, clear the water works of river water, clean the water works from top to bottom, get the water works back online.

A Simple plan, no? But it was tricky: more rain was expected. And anyone who's ever lived through an extended flood can tell you that once you have loads of water standing around, the weather changes. That water evaporates into the atmosphere. If it's summer, there is heat involved. Because of the heat, and the standing water, you have your own thunderstorm building machine. That summer we didn't have to wait for some weather system to work it's way over the Rockies, or to come up from the Gulf of Mexico: we had our own source of water to provide weather. Ultimately, this water turns into more rain. And more rain will cause more flooding. Hence, time was of the essence to get things under control, before even more flooding happened. The Iowa National Guard, God Bless Them, was working their tails off to make it happen. They even brought in a Chinook helicopter to be able to ferry more sandbags where they needed to be. Everything was working smoothly.

That is until Bubba Clinton came into Des Moines to feel our pain.

Des Moines International Airport is a small airport. Dinky. Three or four gates total if I remember correctly. Omaha's airport is bigger, even if it doesn't have one daily flight to Canada which allows for it to use the word "international" in its name. Hell, Billings' airport is bigger and that's in Montana for crying out loud. Des Moines' airport has one runway. The aforementioned Chinook was taking off and landing there: it was the only place where there was enough space to operate this massive two-rotored beast, and it was very close to the water works. The airport was ideal. Until Bubba showed up on Air Force One. Because the airport was so dinky, and because there are certain safety regulations the Secret Service employs whenever Air Force One lands, the Chinook had to stop operating: there wasn't room at the airport for both of them to operate. That and the fact that the airspace was automatically closed because the Prez was there.

So, for a period of about five crucial hours, the very necessary Chinook was shut down. No work was done on getting the water works back online because it made no sense to fill sandbags if they weren't being ferried off.

And all because Bubba had to feel our pain. If I hadn't been convinced Bubba was a sleazebag before then, well, that would have convinced me. Of course, none of this was reported when Dan Rather delivered the nightly news in his hip waders from the Fleur Bridge, where the sandbagging operations went on.

I feel awful for the tsunami survivors, because what aren't they getting because of these people's selfishness? Is someone going hungry or thirsty because food and water didn't make it to them as that helicopter was too busy ferrying reporters around? I feel for the men and women on the Lincoln. They are there to help: and to not be able to do their jobs and help solve the problem must frustrating as hell. They're also unable to do their original jobs because of this greediness. And, to add insult to all this injury, to be abused by their guests in the meanwhile? Ugh.

If this sailor's story didn't convince you that the UN is a waste of space, that the sense of entitlement that comes with bureaucracy runs from top to bottom within that organization, what exactly will?

Posted by Kathy at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2005

C'mon Little Llama #4!

Little Llama #4 is getting ready to make his/her appearance into the world.

In case you're confused, the Llama-ettes are Robbo's girls and I'm dubbing Steve-o's kids as the "Little Llamas" because I don't like the moniker "Llama 4.0" for their latest addition. What's he gonna do? Call the eldest Llama 1.0? I don't think so. Steve's gonna give the poor thing a complex. Daddy, am I obsolete because I'm version 1.0? Was I full of bugs when I was born because I'm version 1.0? Nope. That would be bad.

And, of course, I'm also renaming the kids because I'm on a power trip today.


{...}We were timing contractions last night but it turned out to be a false alarm. I'm at work today but am actually carrying a (turned on) cell phone, so you know things are serious....
Say a Hail Mary that this kid comes forth soon. Seems like this is the second case of false labor Mrs. Llamabutcher has had to endure. While I've never borne a child of my own, well, I have a feeling that the false labor would piss me off to high heaven. My sisters have frequently spouted forth about their feelings when they were due, and while each sister's complaints were different in the specifics, there was one overwhelming theme to their whining: GET THIS KID OUT OF ME!

I can only imagine that Mrs. Llamabutcher feels the same way. Poor thing. I sincerely hope the littlest llama makes their grand entrance soon.

Posted by Kathy at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)

My Eyes: Redux

Well, they're somewhat better this morning.

A little less puffy, but there's still no point in putting eyeshadow on.

After reading yesterday's post, Mom (who can't type and refuses to use the comment section because of it) called and told me to throw out my tube o' Great Lash if it was older than ninety days. Ninety days? What the hell! The shelf life on one of those puppies used to be six months! Who comes up with these arbitrary shelf lives? The Greater Mascara Council of America? Does the bacteria in the tube really reach undesirable levels after ninety days or is this just their way of upping mascara sales? After all, mascara is a basic makeup tool that every woman who wears makeup buys---repeatedly. There's a huge market there. If I spend $10 a year on mascara, because I replace my tube after six months, switching the cutoff to ninety days means I would spend $20 a year on the junk. That's bullshit. Hence, I have to think this is a shallow marketing ploy. There's no way in hell I can get my money's worth in NINETY FREAKIN' DAYS! I have trouble letting a tube go after six months because---ahem---there's still stuff in there!

Christ! Don't they realize that six months is exactly when you finally get to the easy stage of mascara application? I hate buying new mascara. A fresh tube provides nothing but challenges, because the first time you pull that brush out, it's just loaded with black goo. If you didn't blot the excess goo with a kleenex, you'd transfer big chunks of it onto your lashes. Which then drop onto your face, like mini oil spills, and you wind up looking like Courtney Love on a really bad day. But the kleenex saves all and by six months, you've rid yourself of enough of the goo in the tube that the brush comes out with a manageable amount. This worked fine for me. I've resigned myself to the fact that half of what I buy winds up on tissues that are instantly thrown in the trash. Yet this wastefulness wasn't good enough to up their sales. Now they want you to get rid of your mascara after three months.

Do you have any idea how much mascara costs these days? Particularly if you're into buying tubes of the Estee Lauder variety? Over twenty bucks a pop. I gave up that habit years ago and stuck with the little pink and green tube, but still...that costs five bucks a shot. And that's only if you don't spring for waterproofing or lash growing or curling junk, which costs more. It's a racket, I tell ya! Where are the Feds! I want a RICO suit filed toute suite! I demand it as a taxpaying citizen of this country!

Grrrr. And of course, I'll pitch the tube just in case but for the love of God, I shouldn't have to! I want mascara regulation by people other than the Greater Mascara Council of America! This is simply not fair.

Mascara and computer related eye strain aside, though, I'm wondering if a big old head cold is settling in and this was just how the body reacted to it. I'm stuffy this morning and given the position of the sinuses, well, it kind of makes sense. I dunno. I'll be trying to stay away from the computer in the meanwhile, just until we figure it out. And the husband is insisting I call the opthlamologist to set up an appointment to have my eyes checked, so that'll be fun. (The headache is freaking him out.)

Anyway, I have laundry to do, so I'm off like a dirty shirt.

Posted by Kathy at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

My Eyes, My Eyes!

Ok, something's wrong with my eyes.

They're swollen.

I don't know what the heck is going on. A couple of days ago, whilst checking for any signs of new lines, I noticed that my epicanthic folds were pronounced. As in, there is no point in wearing eyeshadow right now as you wouldn't be able to see it. I thought I was imagining things, but the husband confirmed the puffiness. Hence I took it as a sign that---poof---my lids, ala my mom, had dropped. A sign of age and a hereditary one, too. Nothing ususual there. While disturbing, I am thirty-four, baby. It had to happen sometime. It was disconcerting it happened all at once, but hey, isn't that the way these things usually happen? I dunno. All those lines magically appeared overnight, why wouldn't my eyelids droop the same way?

Just as I was getting accustomed to this notion, that's when the headache kicked in. Now, I'm not normally prone to headaches. I just don't get them. Considering I'm married to an occasional migraine sufferer, I know I'm lucky in this regard. The only kind of headache I do get is when my glasses are either new or need to be upgraded. I will fully admit that I'm a year behind on my checkup schedule. As in I picked up the pair of glasses I'm wearing now on September 12, 2001. I was supposed to pick them up on the 11th, but other stuff got in the way and they closed the mall. This is that kind of headache: the eye strain headache.

Yesterday I had a slight headache that wore on during the day and into the night. It's back again today. I've done the advil and while that helps, it hurts slightly to stare at the computer screen, so posting will be light. But since I got the headache, I've begun to wonder about this whole thing. So, like a good little hypochondriac, I surfed around WebMD. And no, I don't have Bells Palsy. I'm not drooling, I can blink, and I can still feel my face and operate it. But as far as it being anything else specific, the vast amount of knowledge that is WebMD coughed up bupkiss. The husband thinks it might be an allergic reaction to something, but as I've done absolutely nothing new in the past few days---nothing new eaten, no new product, etc.---I don't know.

I'm assuming all of this is due to the fact that my prescription needs to be upgraded. But can that cause my eyes to swell? Can your eyes swell in the first place? And to an extent where it changes your facial features? I don't know and I haven't called the doctor, lest he tell me it's possible I've got a brain tumor. I don't think I could deal with that right now and I'd rather live in ignorance, thank you ever so much.

Any ideas? Anyone dealt with this or something similar.

I'm not dying or anything. Don't freak out, please. And yes, I'm referring to you, Mom.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with ML's wife, The Doctor, and given my symptoms she believes it's computer related eye stress. When I told her I hadn't been spending any more time on the box than usual, she shot me down. Computer related eye stress, says she, is cumulative. I'm supposed to look up computer ergonomics on the web and that there should be some good eye-saving tips that should help. We shall see if it works. I hope it does.

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I appreciate it:) And yes Kitty, I will go to the doctor if it doesn't get better.

Posted by Kathy at 01:52 PM | Comments (4)

The Blogosphere: Fact Checking Your Ass

The next hot plagiarism story: Alias (yeah, the TV show) plagiarized Kurt Vonnegut with last night's episode.

Drew's got the goods.

To answer your question, Drew, homage becomes plagiarism when the author decides to sue.

Posted by Kathy at 12:57 AM | Comments (0)

Saturday Night at the Badda Bing

Uh-oh. Reportedly, I have yet to be "made" in an organization I didn't know existed.

Hmmmm. Interesting. Not sure it's for me, though.

I'm not really a joiner. I did all of my "joining" in school. They lure you in with the opportunity to meet people and to have fun, but then, before you know it, you've been drafted to lick envelopes and all you've got for your efforts is the inability to taste anything other than glue.

Do I really need this? Do I really want to be made?

I suppose I could make the effort. They're at least having this thing on this side of town this time around and not over in St. Paul. During the ever popular State Fair, which I loathe. (No one will EVER drag me to that thing as long as I have breath in my body. The Great Minnesota Get Together my fine wide arse.) So I suppose this is my chance to meet other web crawling, political junkie hermits.

Sounds like there's trivia, too. That's always a bonus.

I suppose the thing that could get me out of the house come Saturday is if my wing man a. doesn't desert me this time around and b. offers to buy me a drink.

If Gary coughs up, well, I'm there.

I believe I've told you before that I'm exceedingly cheap.

Posted by Kathy at 12:42 AM | Comments (7)

January 19, 2005

The Hills Are Alive...

With the sound of really sucky music.

Yet another meme. Someone came up with a list of fifty songs they hated. I'm supposed to bold the ones I like. Discussion will also follow.

If interested read on after the jump.

(Of course, I caught this, like yet another bad, treatment resistant, case of the crabs, from a furry llama who's skipping the inauguration tomorrow. )

1. We Built This City ... Starship

2. Achy Breaky Heart ... Billy Ray Cyrus (Robbo wants to know why everyone hates this song. Well, Robbo, IT'S BECAUSE IT SUCKS! That and because Billy Ray singlehandedly brought the mullet back into popular culture from its hiding place in the Ozarks. Hence we hate his music. Quite simple really.)

3. Everybody Have Fun Tonight ... Wang Chung This song bops. I like it. And the video was pulled from MTV because it was supposed to cause brain or eye or some other squishy body part damage. How cool is that?

4. Rollin' ... Limp Bizkit

5. Ice Ice Baby ... Vanilla Ice

6. The Heart of Rock & Roll ... Huey Lewis and the News Still good. Just heard it on the radio the other day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even if I did look over my shoulder to see if anyone noticed.

7. Don't Worry, Be Happy ... Bobby McFerrin This the least likely Bobby McFerrin song ever. Why it is also the most popular and overplayed, I don't know. Bobby's a talented guy: just because he had Robin Williams in his video and everyone jumped on the bandwagon after that, doesn't mean you shouldn't like this song. Bobby was the artistic director of this country's chamber music powerhouse---the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra---for years. He's a very talented musician. And I sold him a $1.54 cup of drip brew one day and he tipped me a buck on the purchase. He's a nice guy. Be nice to him.

8. Party All the Time ... Eddie Murphy

9. American Life ... Madonna

10. Ebony and Ivory ... Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

11. Invisible ... Clay Aiken

12. Kokomo ... The Beach Boys - I still have the Cocktail soundtrack on tape.

14. From a Distance ... Bette Midler

15. I'll Be There for You ... The Rembrandts

16. What's Up? ... 4 Non Blondes I loved this song when it came out. I felt its angst deeply. I haven't heard it in ages, but if I do hear it, I will still bellow along with the chorus.

17. Pumps and a Bump ... Hammer

18. You're the Inspiration ... Chicago - (Yeech. Although old mid-70's Chicago ain't all bad.)

19. Broken Wings ... Mr. Mister What happened to these guys? Weren't they supposed to be the shit?

20. Dancing on the Ceiling ... Lionel Richie

21. Two Princes ... Spin Doctors Back in my sorority days, whenever we had a house party, we had to serenade our dates when we delivered the invites. This meant picking a song, stripping the original lyrics and then inserting our own. Then we walked to every damn fraternity house and sang our little hearts out. We did a serenade to this song and it holds a special place in my heart as a result.

22. Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American) ... Toby Keith -
(Honestly, I've never heard the whole thing.)

23. Sunglasses at Night ... Corey Hart - (What the hell is this song about other than wearing your sunglasses at night? Why would you want to wear your sunglasses at night? You're a dolt if you do, because you can't SEE, dumbass.)

24. Superman ... Five for Fighting This song has a pretty melody.

25. I'll Be Missing You ... Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112

26. The End ... The Doors Word of advice: don't listen to this one while stoned. I can tell you from experience that you'll question your very existence if the weed is either really good or hydroponic.

27. The Final Countdown ... Europe

28. Your Body Is a Wonderland ... John Mayer LOVE this song. Very sexy.

29. Breakfast at Tiffany's ... Deep Blue Something And then I said what about Breakfast at Tiffanys and you said we both kinda liked it...

30. Greatest Love of All ... Whitney Houston

31. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm ... Crash Test Dummies (If no other song does it for you, this song will convince you of how absolutely stupid radio and record companies are when it comes to picking singles. If you liked the dude's voice, get their The Ghosts That Haunt Me album. Very, very good.)

32. Will 2K ... Will Smith

33. Barbie Girl ... Aqua (Who?)

34. Longer ... Dan Fogelberg

35. Shiny Happy People ... R.E.M.

36. Make Em Say Uhh! ... Master P featuring Silkk, Fiend, Mia-X and Mystikal

37. Rico Suave ... Gerardo (Can you say, "Guido?")

38. Cotton Eyed Joe ... Rednex -

39. She Bangs ... Ricky Martin Yep. I'll shake my thing to it.

40. I Wanna Sex You Up ... Color Me Badd

41. We Didn't Start the Fire ... Billy Joel Birthday party cheesecake jelly bean boom patriotic... OOOPS! Wrong song with many pop culture references invoked to make us feel all bad about ourselves and the society we live in because Michael Stipe/Billy Joel knows best. Forgive me for being confused. My bad. I still like it, though. And I like "It's The End of the World," too. It's all about the challenge of getting the lyrics down pat.

42. The Sound of Silence ... Simon & Garfunkel - Had it on vinyl. Have it on tape. Have it on CD. Have it on digital. Will buy it again when the next new music format happens.

43. Follow Me ... Uncle Kracker

44. I'll Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That) ... Meat Loaf How can you not like Mr. Loaf? No one throws more into it than he does. Now the music to a very funny Dr. Pepper commercial.

45. Mesmerize ... Ja Rule featuring Ashanti

46. Hangin' Tough ... New Kids on the Block (I can proudly say I never fell for the whole New Kids on the Block Thing. Good thing Donnie Wahlberg can act, because he shouldn't have had a day job with this band in the first place.)

47. The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You ... Bryan Adams

48. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ... The Beatles I love this song! This is my "happy ever after song."

49. I'm Too Sexy ... Right Said Fred Can you really resist this song?

50. My Heart Will Go On ... Celine Dion (This song was stuck on repeat on the mall muzak one day. Couldn't escape it. If I ever meet that skinny assed bitch, I'm gonna beat her into next week.)

Posted by Kathy at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)


I MUST HAVE one of these.


While this undoubtedly seals the deal that George Lucas really has gone batshit fucking loco, I wonder, though, if that light saber's going to fall off like Mr. Potato Head's nose always did? It's been years since I've played with a Mr. Potato Head. Has the quality improved? Do the pieces finally stick where you want them to? Ultimately, is it really worth it to possess a Darth Spud if all of this parts are going to resemble a leper's appendages, like the Mr. Potato Head of old?


Posted by Kathy at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)

Those Fightin' Europeans

Interesting stuff going on over at Martini Boy's joint. I really enjoy that there are two bartenders nowdays: we get more good stuff as a result.

First, after reading this article , part of which touches upon the "white flight" that might or might not be occurring as a result of the rise of minorities in the Netherlands, Will Collier wonders where this new diaspora will flee to:

{...}What if a considerable fraction--even a large minority--of that 13,000 really are fleeing from Islamic radicalism? What happens 20 or 30 years from now, when demographic trends could well result in "minority-majority" (or even outright majority) status for the Islamic cohort in western Europe? If they're faced with the options of dhimmitude or flight, where will the native Europeans flee to?

Why, here, of course.{...}

Martini Boy replies thoughtfully that instead of simply fleeing or adjusting, Europeans might actually be forced into fighting in such an instance.

{...}What Will left out is the third option. If somewhere down the road the worst should come to worst, Europeans could always stay home and fight. And don't think they couldn't.

Problem is, the fight wouldn't be the pretty kind where you see a few bold arrows drawn on the map, confidently slicing through history and the enemy lines. We're not talking Desert Storm here, which you could draw with five arrows and lasted only 96 hours. We're not even talking about the Liberation of France in 1944, which took slightly more arrows and just six weeks. Oh, no.

We'd be talking about city fighting. But not the kind of city fighting you saw in Saving Private Ryan, where the likeable, well-trained and battle-hardened soldiers could call in an air strike just when all seemed lost. Thanks to modern Europe finally putting "ain't gonna study war no more" into nearly full effect, they hardly have any battle-hardened soldiers. They hardly have any soldiers left at all.

The city fighting we'd see in Europe would look like what we saw in Sarajevo ten years ago. You know, ragtag bands of men with no uniforms, stolen weapons, and a desire to kill anybody who looked Muslim (or on the Muslim side, European). Holland and Denmark would fare worst. They're both tiny, both have very high (and increasing) Muslim populations, and neither country has much of a modern military tradition. In this worst-case scenario, the likelihood of ethnic mob rule ala Bosnia seems high.{...}

Go read the whole thing.

While I think Will's got a point and that an awful lot of Hollanders will simply pull up stakes and in a fit of "I can't believe it's gotten this bad" whining, and will move elsewhere, I also think Stephen's scenario is likely to occur. If the worse case scenario comes to pass---meaning the Europeans doing nothing to stem this tide now---it will also be as ugly as he claims. Replete with mass murders, mass rapes and the like.

I agree that the Europeans do know a thing or two about warfare and can be made to fight. They're just reticent to do so. WWII may have hit them just as hard, if not harder than The Great War, but, in my humble estimation, it is still the memories of just how flamingly idiotic WWI was fought that has made them gun-shy. That war may have started ninety-years-ago, but its legacy has been long lasting. Europeans don't focus so much on WWII in their movies and books, but rather on WWI. ( Why, there's even a movie out right now that uses it as a backdrop. ) They leave WWII to the Americans. WWI has more resonance for them. It's the ulitmate cautionary tale for these deep thinkers with long memories. An Archduke is assassinated in Sarajevo, as a result war breaks out because of the ruling elite's misguided perceptions of some Serbian nationalist nutjob's intentions, and teams are picked. Worldwide chaos unfolds, millions die, and when no one can take it any longer, this chaos ultimately leads to unwieldy, harsh peace deals, economic depression, starvation, the rise of mass murdering dictators, and ultimately to more chaos caused by yet another war. I can't blame them for going to the beginning and focusing on the start: the twentieth century was their bloodiest ever. Given Europe's war-torn history from Caesar to Attila the Hun to Charlemagne to the Bourbons, well, that's saying something.

Its also the history of the Great War that kept Great Britain and France from checking Hitler early on. While we today equate Chamberlain with the appeasement, his "Peace in Our Time" approach to dealing with Hitler's Germany was incredibly popular in Britain. While I don't know the exact numbers, it's generally known that Britain lost half her young men in WWI. That's a lot of men. These men are referred to as "The Lost Generation," because a generation was, for all intents and purposes, lost somewhere in the death and maiming that occurred. France suffered just as much. (As did Germany, but that really didn't stop them, did it?) Is it any wonder, given this fact, that neither France or Britain wanted anything to do with WWII and did everything they could to avoid it? While the French wildly underestimated Germany's intentions and let them walk all over them during the occupation, they nonetheless saved the lives of countless young men who would have been slaughtered if they had fought a blitzkrieg that would have smashed them regardless of their efforts. Was this the honorable thing to do? Was it right? Given what we know to have actually happened during the German occupation, no, it was not. But what we conveniently forget when we denouce the French as a bunch of lily-livered wine snots, is that this judgment of their appeasement is also hindsight. WWI was fresh in their minds: they remembered. They had lost many. Who---and be honest about this---can blame them for trying to minimize the cost they might have to pay when the next time occurred?

Britain's fate was different. They picked up the charge when it was presented to them, but they did so with full knowledge of what might happen and how badly they might suffer. In my humble opinion, I believe this knowledge is what saved them from a much worse fate in WWII than what they did suffer. They knew. They knew what needed to be done and they did it. It was their chance to avenge their losses and to put an end to Germany's madness once and for all.

With a little (heh) help from their friends, they succeeeded.

Europeans do know how to fight. The question remains, though, how long will it take for them to wake up and realize if they don't do something now they will have no other option than to fight? They may have gained a reticence to fight as the result of WWI and WWII, but that reticence is also willfully blinding them from the fact at hand: their societies are just as much at risk now from Islamic fascism as they were from Hitler's aggression.

Posted by Kathy at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Catfight Continued

Previous entry here

So, Sullivan apparently was so shocked by the rough yanking of his long beautiful locks that he was speechless for a few days.

Then he replied with this little blurb :

{...}(Speaking of which, Philip Nobile will be on O'Reilly tonight. Can you imagine the derision of Tripp's thesis that will ensue? Let's just see if Nobile says what he once wrote: that he believes that most Lincoln historians have been homophobes and that Lincoln was certainly bisexual. And let's see whether he discloses - as he didn't in the Standard - that after he quit the Tripp project, he tried to sell a rival book making the same case.)

As Jonathan says: "Is that a surrender?"

I think it might be.

While Sully is a fantastic master of rhetoric and one who obviously not only enjoys maintaining his corner, but also feels the need to vigorously defend it, I've noticed he's not entirely the practicioner of intellectual honesty that he claims to be. While I'm sure he simply believes that it's a waste of his time to reply to something like this, it's not exactly honest is it, after ripping Nobile a new one, to neglect to let his readers know that Nobile replied to his charges and threw a few of his own out there? This is not the first time this has happened, either. For a man who preaches regularly that "the revolution will be blogged," and that the blogosphere is changing how things are done, well, hmmm. It leads one to wonder just how much the revolution will be blogged if it makes Sully look bad. He's getting increasingly touchy about taking lumps, yet makes no moves to moderate his opinions. His blog is turning into a benevolent dictatorship rather than a thriving democracy and it's getting to be annoying.

Sully hasn't replied to Nobile's shot across his bow, and has, in essence, let the debate peter out in the utter cacophany that is the blogosphere, while maintaining his original position. He knows how to let it slide, in other words, knowing something new and interesting will take its place shortly. With this move, he has done his readers a disservice. If I only read Sullivan, I wouldn't know about this, would I? How many of his readers only read his blog and haven't taken a dip into the vast world of internet content? I have a feeling there are a quite a few of them out there.

Posted by Kathy at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)


Over 20,000 readers served since August 2003!

Ten thousand of those hits were probably me checking to see if anyone was actually reading this thing. Or people being sent here from Google for a "boob cake recipe" or something like that. So, it's a limited milestone, but hey...I'll take it.


Posted by Kathy at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)

The Welfare State

Fascinating---and heartbreaking---reading courtesy of Fausta.

Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal: The Frivolity of Evil.

When prisoners are released from prison, they often say that they have paid their debt to society. This is absurd, of course: crime is not a matter of double-entry bookkeeping. You cannot pay a debt by having caused even greater expense, nor can you pay in advance for a bank robbery by offering to serve a prison sentence before you commit it. Perhaps, metaphorically speaking, the slate is wiped clean once a prisoner is released from prison, but the debt is not paid off.

It would be just as absurd for me to say, on my imminent retirement after 14 years of my hospital and prison work, that I have paid my debt to society. I had the choice to do something more pleasing if I had wished, and I was paid, if not munificently, at least adequately. I chose the disagreeable neighborhood in which I practiced because, medically speaking, the poor are more interesting, at least to me, than the rich: their pathology is more florid, their need for attention greater. Their dilemmas, if cruder, seem to me more compelling, nearer to the fundamentals of human existence. No doubt I also felt my services would be more valuable there: in other words, that I had some kind of duty to perform. Perhaps for that reason, like the prisoner on his release, I feel I have paid my debt to society. Certainly, the work has taken a toll on me, and it is time to do something else. Someone else can do battle with the metastasizing social pathology of Great Britain, while I lead a life aesthetically more pleasing to me.

My work has caused me to become perhaps unhealthily preoccupied with the problem of evil. Why do people commit evil? What conditions allow it to flourish? How is it best prevented and, when necessary, suppressed? Each time I listen to a patient recounting the cruelty to which he or she has been subjected, or has committed (and I have listened to several such patients every day for 14 years), these questions revolve endlessly in my mind.

No doubt my previous experiences fostered my preoccupation with this problem. My mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany, and though she spoke very little of her life before she came to Britain, the mere fact that there was much of which she did not speak gave evil a ghostly presence in our household.

Later, I spent several years touring the world, often in places where atrocity had recently been, or still was being, committed. In Central America, I witnessed civil war fought between guerrilla groups intent on imposing totalitarian tyranny on their societies, opposed by armies that didn't scruple to resort to massacre. In Equatorial Guinea, the current dictator was the nephew and henchman of the last dictator, who had killed or driven into exile a third of the population, executing every last person who wore glasses or possessed a page of printed matter for being a disaffected or potentially disaffected intellectual. In Liberia, I visited a church in which more than 600 people had taken refuge and been slaughtered, possibly by the president himself (soon to be videotaped being tortured to death). The outlines of the bodies were still visible on the dried blood on the floor, and the long mound of the mass grave began only a few yards from the entrance. In North Korea I saw the acme of tyranny, millions of people in terrorized, abject obeisance to a personality cult whose object, the Great Leader Kim Il Sung, made the Sun King look like the personification of modesty.

Still, all these were political evils, which my own country had entirely escaped. I optimistically supposed that, in the absence of the worst political deformations, widespread evil was impossible. I soon discovered my error. Of course, nothing that I was to see in a British slum approached the scale or depth of what I had witnessed elsewhere. Beating a woman from motives of jealousy, locking her in a closet, breaking her arms deliberately, terrible though it may be, is not the same, by a long way, as mass murder. More than enough of the constitutional, traditional, institutional, and social restraints on large-scale political evil still existed in Britain to prevent anything like what I had witnessed elsewhere.

Yet the scale of a man's evil is not entirely to be measured by its practical consequences. Men commit evil within the scope available to them. Some evil geniuses, of course, devote their lives to increasing that scope as widely as possible, but no such character has yet arisen in Britain, and most evildoers merely make the most of their opportunities. They do what they can get away with.

In any case, the extent of the evil that I found, though far more modest than the disasters of modern history, is nonetheless impressive. From the vantage point of one six-bedded hospital ward, I have met at least 5,000 perpetrators of the kind of violence I have just described and 5,000 victims of it: nearly 1 percent of the population of my city—or a higher percentage, if one considers the age-specificity of the behavior. And when you take the life histories of these people, as I have, you soon realize that their existence is as saturated with arbitrary violence as that of the inhabitants of many a dictatorship. Instead of one dictator, though, there are thousands, each the absolute ruler of his own little sphere, his power circumscribed by the proximity of another such as he.{...}

Go read the whole thing.

While this gentleman doesn't have much empirical evidence to back up his opinion, I don't think it matters very much. I'll take informed anecdotal evidence any day of the week (and twice on Sundays) over supposedly objective empirical evidence. This man's story is compelling and while I realize it's probably better for his health and mental well-being to have left his work, it's nonetheless a sad thing because he will most likely be replaced by someone who doesn't care so very much. People who are able to remove themselves from the daily grind of their own little bureaucratic fiefdom to see the big picture are rare in social services.

I wish he was sticking around.

Posted by Kathy at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)

A Brief, Limited Apology

Didn't blog much yesterday.

Sorry about that.

I was more than ready to throw up a few posts yesterday afternoon. Alas, however, the mu.nu server went down and after being frustrated for a half-hour or so, I moved on to other things.

I have a feeling you all lived, though.

Posted by Kathy at 11:48 AM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2005

We're Having a Heat Wave

A tropical heat wave.

Thank God the cold snap is finally over!

Of course it's going to snow today. Because that's what happens here when a cold snap is over: we get clouds, clouds mean warmth, but they also mean snow.

Which, of course, sucks. 1-3 inches is expected. But if it means I can just throw on a coat and go outside instead of having to add thermal underwear, two pairs of socks (one wool), a big hoodie sweatshirt, a hat, sheepskin lined gloves, a parka (with the hood pulled up and tied off) and a scarf to my repetoire, well, I'll take it.

Posted by Kathy at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Wrong Wrong Wrong


BUCHAREST, Romania - A 66-year-old woman has become the world's oldest to give birth, and she and her day-old baby daughter were in good condition in intensive care, doctors said Monday.

Later in the day, mother and daughter were expected to be reunited for the first time since Sunday's birth.

Adriana Iliescu, who was artificially inseminated using sperm and egg from anonymous donors, delivered her daughter Eliza Maria by Cesarean section, doctors at the Giulesti Maternity Hospital in Bucharest said. The child's twin sister was stillborn, they said. {...}

Far be it from me to get in the way of anyone's reproductive choices, but that's just not natural. She just gave birth and she sixty-six years old. After Nine years of infertility treatments she finally got pregnant. That means this woman was fifty-seven when she decided to seek treatment for infertility. God only knows how long she'd been trying to conceive before that. The general rule of thumb is if you've been trying for a year and have been unable to conceive, then you go to the doctor and chat about your options.

But that's for people of a normal reproductive age. Not someone who's fifty-seven.

What is up with these doctors that they apparently thought it was a good idea to jumpstart this woman's reproductive system when, in normal circumstances, by all rights, it should have been shut down for good? In fact, hers was shut down: the egg and the sperm had to be donated. Where was the doctors' common sense? Why didn't they just let her down gently, tell her she missed her chance, and let that be the end of that? I have friends who have had their children---and one in particular who just knows she doesn't want any---who have wanted their fallopian tubes tied off, or what is commonly known as female sterilization. Yet their various doctors have completely refused to do this procedure for them at their age---which has varied between thirty and twenty-five. They just won't do it. Why? Because they're too young. The doctors have one general reply: they've seen too many women change their minds and then have requested their tubes to be untied, years after the fact. They have also seen the resultant heartbreak when these same women are unable to conceive. This refusal is reportedly an "ok" thing to do. It's extraordinarily common. But in Romania, well, they just can't say "no" to anyone, can they?

I find this just to be so wrong. I can only get into her motives so much before veering into the land of pure speculation, but I'd wager that motherhood was just one more thing on her list that she wanted to do and needed to cross off before she "got too old." I saw an interview with her on FOX and that's pretty much what she thought. But, at sixty-six, can a woman ever be up to the challenges of a newborn? Particularly, when it appears she's a single parent. (I haven't seen mention of a husband anywhere.) Is she up to the challenge of motherhood, in general? Or did she just get pregnant to prove a point, like I suspect? But most importantly, what of the child? She is susceptible to many different risk factors simply because of the age of her mother and the fact she was born premature. It's a blessing she was born, don't get me wrong. But, Good God. What was this woman thinking? In a country where the average life expectancy rate for a woman is 74.82 years, is it fair to say that she will, automatically, live past that age? And to plan around it? While it's possible the mother might be hit by a bus tomorrow, it's more than probable that this woman has fewer years left to her life, not more. What will become of her child when she, more than likely, dies before her daughter reaches the age of maturity? Mothers are supposed to know best about what their child needs and to provide it for them. That, in some instances, means thinking ahead toward the future. Why is this woman ignoring the probabilities? Doesn't she care about her child?

Shame on her. Really. That sounds lame, but geez. What else can I tell her? The deed is done.

This whole scenario gives me the heebie-jeebies. I'm not saying that anyone who wants to have a child shouldn't seek help from the medical community. While I have religious issues with IVF and the like, I don't impose my worldview on people who resort to these means. If they're doing it for the right reasons-- they want to bring life into the world---who am I to deny them? Just because I know it's not for me, well, that doesn't mean it's not for someone else.

I, do, however have one main non-medical objection to fertility treatments and it is that people increasingly don't know when to quit. Their hopes and dreams and bank balances are wrapped up fulfilling this dream. And the medical community has bent over backwards to make this happen for people and encourages them to keep on hoping. It's a big business, and whenever you're dealing with someone's hopes and dreams and a buck is made off tweaking said hopes and dreams there is a chance for serious, serious errors to be made in judgment.

In this case, it's patently obvious that our bodies work a certain way for a certain reason. To rail against that so flagrantly just smacks of playing God.

What's really sad about this is how many people will think this is a good thing? Particularly those who have thought that their childbearing days were behind them? Those who gave up trying because it was too heartbreaking a thing to have to deal with? This woman might have given them hope and that's what I find despicable.

Posted by Kathy at 02:23 PM | Comments (1)

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Ernesto Zedillo on Latin America:

Not every fiscal problem is the same throughout the region, however. Some countries raise high amounts of revenue but spend even more. Others spend more frugally but proportionally collect less in taxes. All spend too little on basic infrastructure. The general goal must be to achieve fiscal consolidations--either by axing current expenditures or by collecting more taxes. This would enable governments to apply countercyclical macroeconomic policies and to invest more in human and physical infrastructure.

Next in importance is guaranteeing the rule of law, under which falls the protection of property rights and the relentless fight against corruption. The rule of law is an essential requirement for the development of credit markets and other important aspects of a modern economy. Finally, the removal of internal and external barriers to competition must be part of any must-do list of public policy. Latin American economies need fewer and better regulations and must be more open to foreign competition and investment.

{Emphasis mine}

Yeah. I'd agree with that. But only if it came from some other horse's mouth.

Particularly the bit about, "the relentless fight against corruption." That's a laugh.

You have to admit that I might be allowed a wee bit of incredulity when it comes to anything Zedillo says. If the name Ernesto Zedillo isn't ringing a bell, well, let me inform you: he was the last PRI (The Institutional Revolutionary Party---an oxymoron if there ever was one) President of Mexico. The guy that Vincente Fox replaced. He was also the guy who lost control of the government for the PRI, which is why he's hanging out in New Haven now, as the Director for the Yale Center For the Study of Globalization, and not in Mexico City. I can't think that Mexico is a good place for him to be right about now. Good thing Yale coughed up a job, eh?

Remember the days in Mexico when elections were rigged, the state treasury was a bank account for anyone other than the people of Mexico, revolts were slapped down quickly, Rambo-style, and drug dealers told the politicians what to do as long as some cash changed hands? Well, that was the PRI's fault. It wasn't so much "Institutional Revolution" that they were peddling, but rather institutional corruption. Systemic, top to bottom, institutional corruption. Ernesto was a member of the PRI. He was their last president, and while he knowingly did do some things to weaken his own party to bring about its demise, he was still a party man. And knowingly participated in the raping and looting of his own country.

Why Forbes gives this guy column inches, I haven't the foggiest idea. I don't believe a word he says.

{Hat Tip: Fausta}

Posted by Kathy at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Empirical Observations: My World v. My Mom's*

In the time it took for thirteen people to visit the Cake Eater Chronicles, my dad drove my mom to the hospital where she was put under anesthesia, had cataract surgery, subsequently came up and out of her anesthesia-induced fog and was driven home again by my father.

She now, at age seventy-two, has perfect vision in both eyes.

Talk about adding some perspective to your daily grind, eh?

*idea shamelessly pilfered from here.

Thanks Dr. Townley for taking such good care of my mom's eyes! You're a good guy!

Posted by Kathy at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)


Throw this one into the "I wish I'd written that" category.

Martini Boy's right. Every last little word in this piece is right on the money.

Posted by Kathy at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

Instant Gratification

Fausta Delivers

Man, that's upsetting.

While what he said was upsetting in itself, it's that this man who is a master of portraying the undercurrents of human life in his novel is absolutely, positively clueless as to how this would come across that's really bothering me.

If you've never read a Perez-Reverte novel, know that it is truly a wonderful experience. While he works within the thriller genre, his prose is absolutely wonderful. That his books are translations and his prose doesn't get lost in the translation makes me wonder if he isn't actually better in Spanish, but that's neither here nor there. His words are wonderful, but the feelings they evoke are even better. You, as the reader, are pulled into the character's world. Even if that character is a not-too-bright unemployed merchant marine, or a somewhat off-the-rails art restorer who spends too much time by herself, or a priest who is having issues with his servitude to a Church he's no longer sure he believes in, it doesn't matter: he brings their world alive in such a way that you would have to be an emotional incompetent to not feel what they are feeling. He is a master of the carefully chosen word. As a result his novels are not just thrillers, they are a meticulously crafted insight into the human mind and condition.

For example:

He went down into the garden with his jacket over his shoulder and breathed in the night air. She was waiting. The moonlight cast the shadows of leaves over her face and shoulders.

"I don't want you to leave," she said. "Yet."

Her eyes shone, the teeth between her parted lips gleamed white, and the ivory necklace was a line of white around her tanned neck. The day was very hot. Thin slits of afternoon sun filtered through a bling onto the naked body of a woman. Carmen the cigarette girl rolled tobacco leaves on her thigh, tiny drops of sweat beading a dark triangle. There was a soft breeze. The leaves of the orange trees and bougainvilleas moved over Macarena Bruner's face, and the moonlight slid down the priest's shoulders like a coat of mail being taken off and falling to his feet. The weary Knight Templar stood straight and looked around, listening to the rumble of the Saracen cavalry heading toward the hill of Hattin. He heard the stormy sea thundering against the breakwater as the fragile little boats struggled to return to port. And a woman dressed in mourning held a child's hand. Soup boiled while an old priest sat by a fireplace declining rosa, rosae. And, lost in a world that guided itself by starlight five centuries old, the little boy's shadow was cast on a wall that protected him from the bitter cold outside. His shadow moved closer to the other shadow waiting beneath bougainvilleas and orange trees, until he could breathe in her fragrance and her warmth, and her breath. But a second before he ran his fingers through her hair to escape loneliness for a night, the shadow, the boy, the man watching the naked body in the sunlight filtered through the blind, the exhausted Knight Templar, they all turned to look up at the dimly lit window of the pigeon loft, where an old priest, unsociable, skeptical, and brave, deciphered the terrible secret of a cruel sky, in the company of a ghost searching the horizon for a white sail.

{Excerpt taken from Chapter XI, Carlota Bruner's Trunk, The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Copyright 1995. All Rights Reserved. English Translation by Sonia Soto, Copyright 1998. All Rights Reserved.}

And so is the condition of Father Quart on the night he breaks his vow of chastity. All of his life is laid out in one paragraph. How he sees himself during the various stages of his life, knowing that these various incarnations of himself led him to this very place. I could go on, but I think you get the gist. That you find this wonderful prose, this fantastic character development in what is, essentially, a mystery novel, is extraordinary.

Pushing aside his prose, Perez-Reverte's novels also make you think. They invariably revolve around a big idea and how that big idea comes to fruition in everyday human lives. This is the dilemma he crafts his novels around. These big ideas are where the conflict comes in. He handles these conflicts deftly and generally rails against the postmodern idea of never making judgments based upon what one values. His characters make the call and act according to their consciences. So, knowing this, knowing that he gives his characters the correct sort of ideals even if they struggle to practice them, why Perez-Reverte refuses to make the call that anti-Semitism is, indeed, wrong, makes one wonder just how inbred that disgusting philosophy is in Europe today. While this might seem like a big leap, to my mind it's a small jump.

To explain: I don't believe Perez-Reverte would ever allow one of his contemporary protagonists to be an anti-Semite. The language he employed in that article wouldn't be good enough for one of his characters. The ideas wouldn't be good enough for one of his protagonists. Why he let it fly from his own fingers, to represent his own views, I don't know. None of his protagonists would be so crass and uneducated. His antagonists, yes. But not his protagonists. That's why I find it so hard to swallow that he actually wrote that. It's why the repulsion is so strong. It's such a large disconnect from his work and the ideals he promotes in said work that I actually goggled when I read that paragraph. That he apparently thought he would get a hale and hearty "hear, hear!" as the audience response is even more shocking. Did he have a clue as to how this would come off? Did he just not give a damn? Does he regret his words? I don't know, but that he wrote that in the first place does seem to indicate that he believes he's penning words that represent the voice of popular opinion.

All of this makes me, again, wonder just how deep are the anti-Semitic waters of Europe today.

I don't want to sound like a rube. I know Europeans are blasting Israel and Jews, in general, left and right. I would, however, like to think that, just like the election here in states a few months ago, it's only the fringe loudmouths who are getting the most press. That the normal European who minds their own business, who goes to work and then goes home to be with their family at the end of the day, doesn't espouse such views, but doesn't get the opportunity to voice their dissent either. That would be my hope. It's a hope that is getting fainter and fainter as the months go by, but I'm still trying to have faith that they haven't forgotten the genocide of sixty-years ago that occurred, quite literally, on their doorsteps. Whether this hope of mine is a naive Anne Frank-ish sort of dream will shortly, I believe, be borne out in the months and years to come. I can only wait and see if these views we see coming out of Europe are truly representative of the whole.

I have no idea if this is making any sense, so I will cut it off here. To sum up: Arturo, Arturo, why hast thou taken the easy road of cheap and popular hate and vile beliefs and forsaken us in the process?

I honestly thought you were smarter than that.

Posted by Kathy at 02:31 PM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2005

The Carnivore Within

Robbo is a sick, sick puppy, says she, gleefully.

I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.

Posted by Kathy at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

You Know...

...I adore Fausta.

I truly believe we were separated at birth because it's positively freaky how much we agree on certain things. We hold some of the same views about everything from Colin Firth being the one, the only, the true Darcy, to enjoying lambasting Blaque Jacques Chirac. I also think she's intelligent, wonderful and produces some of the most interesting commentary in the blogosphere. I consider myself to be very lucky that I have her friendship, but more importantly, I consider myself to be extraordinarily lucky to have her readership, because she doesn't suffer fools gladly. Hence, since she spends some time here at the Cake Eater Chronicles, and her opinion has generally been favorable, I can throw myself into the non-fool category. I am thankful for this. Because---really and truly---I wouldn't want to be on her shit list.

Well, I might make it there with this post. We'll have to see how she takes this. But you all understand that I truly respect and admire the lovely lady from Princeton, right? I made that abudantly clear, right? Ok.

HOWEVER, there is one thing about her blog that drives me nuts. And I'm really sorry for it, but when she responds to something only in Spanish (or French, because she's one of those disgustingly clever trilingual people) it drives me ABSOLUTELY INSANE! It appears she does this to respond in the native tongue of whomever she deems an idiot. While clever, this does me absolutely no freakin' good. I know the content is going to be good, because after all, it came from Fausta's mind. It has to be good. But I CAN'T FREAKIN' UNDERSTAND IT BECAUSE I DON'T SPEAK OR READ SPANISH!

I feel like that damn dog in the Beggin' Strips commercial who doesn't understand that the Beggin' Strips are not, indeed, bacon. Unlike the dog, however, I don't even get the thrill and payoff of eating the fake bacon.

I understand that this is really my own fault. I am an idiot when it comes to learning other languages. I scraped through two and a half years of Latin in high school and that's as far as I got. I would've flunked had I not had mad buzzer pressing skillz during our statewide Junior Classical League, "how much mythology do you know?" contests. (Yes, indeedy. Despite my complete lack of any and all athletic abilities, I was the dumb jock at one point in time.) I also tried to take Russian in college and I still have a four credit "F" on my transcript. A four credit "F" which knocked my GPA down by two tenths of a point, I might add, which was just enough to forever prevent me from doing many different things with my life.

I read somewhere once that it's been estimated that around six percent of the entire world population is simply incapable of learning another language. I truly believe I am one of these people. I've tried to learn. Believe you me I HAVE TRIED. I just can't do it. I sweat over it. (eew!) I struggle. I twist. I turn. I have nightmares, still, about being tormented in front of the entire class because I'd been called on to recite the Russian alphabet and was laughed at because I goofed the order of "beh" and "veh." I'm not going to go into the dreams I have about Latin class. But the point is clear: I am tormented by the failure of my own intelligence.

Even though I would love to be able to speak another language, and am envious of those who can, I just can't do it.

What's worse is that everyone thinks I'm full of shit on this one, too. The husband (Mr. I Speak German) and Mr. H. (another lover of the Germanic tongue), other friends who speak Spanish and French (including one who is a professional translator) and even my parents (neither of whom spoke English before they started attending school) always tell me that, "if I just put my mind to it, I could learn another language." Bullshit. I can't do it. My brain doesn't work that way. I'm sorry, but the reason I didn't drop Russian---even when it was readily apparent that I wasn't doing so hot---was because I, too, bought the line that if I just worked hard enough it would come to me.

Well, it didn't.

Russian 101 was an hour long, M-F class. I felt like a damn dolt in that class. I, who hate sweating, would come out of that class with pit stains on my shirt because I'd been so nervous during it. Everyone got it but me and I was a wreck by the end of the class. My lovely teacher (bitch!), who used to translate for Gorbachev, told me to work harder. So I did. Since I shared a room with two other girls at this point in time (and they really didn't want to listen to Russian tapes), this meant for four hours a night, between the hours of ten and two, you could find me in our room in our sorority house, listening to tapes, studying the textbook, and learning how to write in Russian. I couldn't do it. I was frustrated. My teacher was frustrated. My fellow students, who all seemed to want to learn Russian not for some required course credit, but rather because they wanted to read Dostoevsky in the mother-tongue, were frustrated because I didn't get it. I just couldn't do it. This experience, combined with my Latin experience in high school, has convinced me that I simply am not capable of learning another language. It's just one of those things I cannot do.

So, you have to understand that when Fausta, who is brilliant, publishes a little treatise in Spanish about one of my favorite authors, Arturo Perez-Reverte, and calls him an, "antisemitic bigot," in English, but only links to articles and blogs that are written in Spanish, and goes no further in her English explanation of why he's an antisemitic bigot, it's a bit frustrating.

I love ya, darlin', but on behalf of the monolingual idiots of the world, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE STOP DOING THIS!

Posted by Kathy at 02:55 PM | Comments (6)

January 14, 2005

And a Girl In the Corner Lets No One Ignore Her 'Cause She Thinks She's the Passionate One*

I, just like Undercover Brother, enjoy a good catfight. I enjoy pulling up a chair, opening a beer and just watching two people go at each other for shits and giggles. Is this bad of me? Probably, but it's good fun nonetheless, so I don't see why the hell I should have to stop myself.

Currently there's a bit o' debate about whether C.A. Tripp's book, The Intimate Life of Abraham Lincoln is the real deal and our 16th President was actually gay, or is a bit of poorly researched, historically inaccurate, predrawn-conclusioned garbage being foisted upon the masses.

In this catfight, we will assign the role of Philip Nobile to Aunjanue Ellis and Andrew Sullivan will be portrayed by Denise Richards. The accompanying catfight language goes something like this:

Nobile: "Bitch, please. I know my man Abe better than anyone else." {Insert fro stability here}

Sullivan: "Oh, no you don't. I'm gay and I say you're bigoted." {Insert toss of golden tresses here}

Nobile: "I'm no bigot. Why don't you read what I wrote, because then you will see that you deserve the ass-whooping of Biblical proportions I'm going to give you." {Insert rough yanking of Denise's tresses here}

Sullivan: {Speechless}


Posted by Kathy at 02:33 PM | Comments (4)

Speedy Gonzales Sharon

Well, that was fast.

Abbas hasn't even been sworn in and already the Israelis are refusing to deal with him.

Not to downplay the seriousness of the attack that occurred, or the loss of life involved, but this seems unreasonable. For me, it simply screams that the Israelis were just waiting for something like this to happen so they'd have an excuse not to deal with him. I don't know that this is the case, but that's what it seems like to me.

While I don't think negotiating with Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist groups is bound to go anywhere, at least Abbas is actually working on the damn problem in the first place. Which, I might remind you, is something Arafat absolutely refused to do. Disagree with Abbas' means all you want, he's at least tackling the problem.

Give the man a chance. Then if he fails, you can cut off all ties. But this means having patience and not cutting off said ties before the man is even sworn in. While I don't doubt that it's a bitch to live in Israel and be attacked by all sides constantly, if the Israelis really want peace, they're going to have to have a little faith in Abbas. All they've really done with this move is to give Abbas props with Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in the occupied territories, and honestly, is that good for anything?

Posted by Kathy at 01:30 PM | Comments (4)

Cue The Big Black Things From 2001

Yeah. I know. Wrong planet. Wrong moon. But it's still way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, so the analogy fits.

DARMSTADT, Germany - A European space probe has landed on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan after a seven-year journey, a space official said Friday, buoying hopes that the mission could shed light on the origins of life on Earth.

Mission controllers were confident the Huygens probe made a soft landing by parachute because it was transmitting steadily long after it was to have landed, said David Southwood, the European Space Agency's science director.

"We know that it has landed based on the laws of gravity," Southwood said. "It simply cannot still be flying. It's got to be on a solid surface, and it must be soft."

Southwood later announced that the probe had relayed scientific data — expected to include pictures and atmospheric measurements — to the Cassini mother ship orbiting Saturn and the information had been transmitted back to Earth.

Applause erupted at mission control in Darmstadt in western Germany at news of the data transmission. The data are expected to shed light on what Titan's atmosphere and surface are made of — and possibly on the origins of life on Earth.

"The scientific data we are collecting now shall unveil the secrets of this new world," said Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's general director. "This is a fantastic success for Europe." {...}

Yeah. Well done, Europe. And I sincerely mean that.

Can't wait to see the pictures.

And I'll betcha anything that those big black thingys will be all over the place.

Posted by Kathy at 11:52 AM | Comments (3)

January 13, 2005

I Believe The Proper Term is "Native Americans"

David Skinner over at the Galley Slaves is a wee bit miffed about what new National Museum of the American Indian is accepting for their collection.

{...}When I visited recently, I was impressed only by the architecture, and the lobby especially, in which you enter a vertiginous central cavern that goes all the way to the building’s ceiling. The "collection," if you can call it that, is scattered about on floors extending outward in a circular fashion, not unlike the Guggenheim’s setup.

But what they have on display is pathetic. In one window case, there were some everyday crafts by a Canadian tribe (speaking of which, there is absolutely no uniformity or even thoughtfulness behind the museum’s use of terms like tribe, nation, people, etc.), including, on one shelf, a coke can and an ordinary hot beverage thermos. Whether these had been left behind by construction workers or were deemed, somehow, illustrative of Indian culture I cannot say. The signage for the display ignored most of its contents. In fact, the museum’s collection properly speaking receives only a fraction of the attention that is lavished on the subject of living Indians of North and South America. Head-dresses, weapons, totem polls, all the beautiful, intricate ceremonial pieces one associates with this massive indigenous civilization are little in evidence.{...}

I wonder if they'd accept these for their collection...

Arrowheads 002.jpg

...or if they'd deem them too "warlike" and "not contemporary enough"?

If you're interested in the story of these, read on after the jump.

This collection is the husband's. He inherited them from his Grandfather, who had many odd jobs during his day, including walking the railroads, checking the worthiness of the line. It was during this job, and while he was farming, that he amassed this collection of arrowheads. Apparently the man was a magnet for these things, like they just jumped out of the soil and presented themselves to him. The area he lived in obviously had something to do with it, as well. These were found southeast of the Quad Cities, near the eastern bank of the Mississippi River.

This is only the best of the lot, too. Supposedly he threw boxes upon boxes away. And before anyone goes all "Antiques Roadshow" on me and whines about how they're displayed, there is a little story that I would like to share about why they're displayed as they are. Grandpa and Grandma Nelson had eight kids and money was tight: Grandpa displayed them like this so he could enter them into the county fair. Exhibitors and their families received free entry to the fair and free entry was important as they couldn't afford to go if they had to pay. They're attached to the board with Elmer's: it's easily removed, we just don't have anywhere to put them if we took them off.

Anyway, we've done some research and the best information we received was from this museum . And I quote the curator of anthropology from an email:

"Your grandfather's collection contains many good examples of chipped-stone and ground-stone artifacts associated with a number of different prehistoric cultures. It is difficult to make type identifications based on photographs, but some of these stand out pretty clearly. There are two or three Hardin spear points (c. 9,000-10,000 years old), several Kirk corner notched spear points (c. 8-9,000 yr), a number of side-notched spear points that likely date to the Middle Archaic period (c. 4-8000 yr.) several contracting-stem spear points dating to the Late Archaic/Early Woodland period (c. 2-4000 yr), and a number of small notched and un-notched arrowpoints that date to the Late Woodland, Mississippian or Late Prehistoric periods (c. 1,500 yr to prehistoric). Ground-stone pieces include three celts and a Mississippian Chunky Stone (round piece in the center)"{...}

The round piece in the middle had been of some bafflement amongst all of us, but fortunately the curator cleared it up:

"Chunky was a game of skill played historically by tribes living in the southeastern U.S. The stone was a target that they rolled across the ground and tired to hit with arrows or spears. The same type of stone artifact appears in prehistoric Mississippian villages (c. 1000 yr) and we assume they played the same game."

So, one measly email with pictures attached sent to one curator at one state museum in Illinois provided all of this information, which was previously unknown to us. The new museum in DC is apparently more interested in accepting records from The Village People. What would they do, do you think, if I sent them the same sort of email? Do you think they'd help me out?


Posted by Kathy at 12:48 PM | Comments (1)

January 12, 2005

Memo To The Vikings Owner and Assorted Fans

Even if you do manage to remove Joe Buck from calling Sunday's game against Philadelphia, you're still not going to make it to the Superbowl. Sorry, kids. It's not going to happen...again.

So, leave Joe alone, eh? He's a good guy who does his job extraordinarily well. After all, if Joe can sit next to Tim McCarver for the entire baseball season and still manage to restrain himself from beating the crap out of his broadcasting partner (particularly when McCarver soooo deserves it) that should show you something of his professionalism.

That and Randy Moss was actually being "disgusting" when he mooned the fans at Lambeau. You're getting yourselves worked up over nothing.

And just for the record: I'm not a Packers fan.

Posted by Kathy at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)


As in the one that says "College" across it. Go read this, then this.

I have to say I'm with Smallholder on this one. It's unfortunate, but it's true. A Harvard grad---even if their rich daddy made the call to get them in---will have more and better opportunities in life than will the community college graduate. This isn't to discount hard work or making luck happen in your life or any of those other factors that designate where you will end up. But admission into a top-flight school automatically shoots you ahead in the queue.

I'm sorry for stating the truth.

This is not to say if you don't want to have the CEOship of a Fortune 500 company handed to you, but rather your goals are more---shall we say---realistically minded, a community college might just be the place where your fortunes are made. It could very well be the thing that puts you over the top.

It is, however, unrealistic to say that a community college will prepare you just as well for the CEOship of that Fortune 500 company as would Harvard.

I do not doubt that community colleges are getting better by the day. I know they are. They've been forced to get better. Why? Because four-year schools are pricing themselves out of the market. Hence they are moving in to provide a service to a market that has announced itself. While this is great, that's not the issue.

The issue is that it's a subjective judgment call that Harvard would provide a better start to a career than would a community college. Why do we make this subjective judgment? Because Harvard has cache, baby. It's Ivy. If you go there, you will network with the future great googly mooglies of America. You will get to know one another and if you're ever in need of anything they will help you out. It's all about making contacts, kids. The best people to know are at the better schools. They can do more stuff for you. The rich people know this, which is why they perform backflips to get their less-than-stellar kids into premier institutions, even if those institutions are pricing themselves out of the market and are making themselves less relevant by hiring wacky faculty. Until the entire paradigm changes, this is the way it will be.

If academics were all that mattered, well, the smart people would be ruling the world and as we can see they aren't. It's the networkers that rule. They may be smart, but it's their social skills and who they know that put them ahead.

Posted by Kathy at 10:32 PM | Comments (2)


In what appears to be a singular and life-altering act of devotion to his Lord and Master, Pat Boone, Protein Wisdom has decided to alter his language accordingly.

He apparently is willing to do anything and everything to get that much coveted invitation allowing him entry into the Big Tent O' Republicanism.

The lengths the man will go to serve his Lord and Master amazes even me. Although, I have to wonder how he's actually going to manage it. Methinks he'll have to put a rubber band on his wrist and snap it every time he falters, because painful negative reinforcement is the only way he's going to pull this one off.

Which means, of course, Jeff's hand will simply fall off his wrist sometime tomorrow afternoon.

Posted by Kathy at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

Silly Germans!

And their lovely loos.

I would acutally support that Sitzpinkel movement, however.

Clean up after my brothers once and you will be wanting every man in every nation to sit the hell down, too. It's got nothing to do with fighting the patriarchy for me. It's because my brothers are SLOBS! Filthy buggers. How the hell they managed to get their stuff everywhere (including behind the bowl) I have no idea. I just know that---as a girl in the Zabawa household, whose chores were relegated strictly to the inside of the house---that I had to clean it up and I didn't like it. Methinks they were purposefully aiming for it, but they cried foul when it was suggested.

Fortunately for me, I have a nice, neat husband who puts the seat back down. He even apologizes when he misses. I have to think God was throwing me a bone by sending me this kind, kind man after having to clean my brothers' bathroom for so many years.

All you have to do is be neat, boys, and women won't ask you to sit down. Hell, we might even give up the cause and stop asking you to put the seat down. Evaluate your toity habits (and by that I mean, ask yourself this simple question: would you want to clean that up if the culprit was someone other than yourself? If the answer is no, well, you know where you need to start.) and reform your wicked ways if you're in need of doing so.

{Hat tip: The Pious Agnostic}

Posted by Kathy at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)


Surprisingly, France 2 has been very supportive of the American military's effort in spreading relief from the tsunami, whilst criticizing their own government.

Start here with Douglas' fabulous commentary-cum-transcription of Monday night's broadcast. Then read what Fausta has to say about it.

Fausta follows up today with a report on Tuesday's broadcast:

{...}One could argue whether there's a political agenda -- to shame the Chirac government's deadly inefficiency. For instance, David Pujadas (this week's anchor), who has been doing a great job, clearly asked pointed questions whose answers directly contradict the official party line: "the field hospital is ready." Bernard Coq, the reporter in Aceh, started by saying, "while clearly one won't contradict Mrs Defense Minister,"{then went on to report} the field hospital is obviously not ready since at least half the supplies and nearly half the staff have no means of getting to the disaster area. The helicopter the French government sent is yet to be assembled.

What is clear, however, is that France2 news has presented a factual, and objective, record of what the USA has done well. France2 has also done an excellent job reporting the daily travails of the survivors, and the tsunami itself. If you have the time, it's worth watching the entire broadcast even if you don't understand the language.{...}

Highly interesting. And very welcome, too.

Posted by Kathy at 01:56 PM | Comments (1)

Patriarchial Blah Blah Blah

As the Cake Eater Father was always saying during my youth: why would women want to be equal when they're already superior?

While I'm fairly certain my dear old Dad was trying to get around the feminazi movement in a clever way with this statement, and that equal pay for equal work wasn't really at the top of his mind, the man's got a point. We bring life into the world and nuture it. Men, no matter how hard they try, simply can't do that. Furthermore, we keep men from killing one another for sport. We keep them in line and our society is better as a result. There is already great power in this, yet most feminists refuse to see it. They only see what they don't have, instead of exploiting the power angles that we already possess.

I've long said that if we women really wanted to rule the world, all we would need to do is have a day like the Great American Smokeout, but only we'd call it the Great American Flash-o-Rama or something similar. It's a pretty simple concept, really. Heterosexual men lose all train of thought when their eyes light on a pair of boobs. If every woman in the country took off their shirt for a day, we could take over while the men were busy looking at our boobs and could fix most of the problems with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease by four p.m.

This would take some sacrifice on our part. Women generally don't enjoy acting like strippers. This is fine, too. After all, women are better than men: we don't want to act like them. Men are constantly acting in reference to their perceived penis size. God only knows what havoc would result if cup size came into it. But I digress---the reason women would never do something like this is because we have men where we want them already. If we have to throw them a bone---like handing over the keys to the kingdom---every now and again, fine. So be it. Strife only enters the equation when you want to balance the equation not realizing it's---ahem---already balanced.

So, no I don't consider it to be a big deal when a man opens a door for me, or pulls out my chair or stands at the table when I'm in the process of sitting down. I like it. While I fully recognize this sort of act is mostly a matter of common courtesy, and not an act of deference to my sex, I sort of like the thought that it might be an act of deference to me as a woman. What is wrong with that, I ask you? Men wouldn't be here if we women weren't around: why not pay homage to that? Why would some woman get upset over having Neil Cavuto let her off the elevator first, and then hold open the door for her? Why is Cavuto's act automatically some demand for submission to the ruling patriarchial world order?

The chick's got problems if a chivalrous man causes her that much bother. There are women, all over the globe, who have serious problems with men who could teach this woman a thing or two about the real struggle for female equality. These are the women who are ritualistically raped by their male neighbors and then are stoned for having committed adultery---even if they're not married. If they're not stoned, they're told that---because of something they had no control over---they have brought shame upon all the male members of the family and are treated accordingly. Which means being beaten to within an inch of their life. Sometimes they're even murdered because of this shame---and the men get off when they're charged with the crime because said shame is an ok excuse for murder.

These are the women whose genitals are mutilated when they are small girls because their male family members do not ever want them to experience sexual pleasure as it might morph them into a loose, libertinious woman.

These are the women who are not free to divorce an abusive spouse, but whose husbands are free to divorce them simply by saying the words "I divorce you" three times.

These are the women who are wrapped up in yards and yards of black cloth to prevent men from being tempted by their wares.

These are the women who are not free to leave their house without the accompaniment of a male relative because no other man is allowed to have contact with them unless that man is there. And not because the male relative is afraid of the sexual ambitions of some unknown man---he's afraid that this woman might lure the man into temptation. He's protecting the man and not the woman to whom he is related.

These are the women who are legally banned from driving a car because if it broke down, who would be able to help them?

These are the women who today, at the beginning of the twenty-first-century, still have no say in how their government runs because they do not have the right to vote.

I could go on, but I think you get the gist. This chick doesn't have a clue as to what's really important, and if she thinks that she's showing solidarity with her oppressed sisters across the globe by refusing a kind gesture, she's kidding herself.

In other words, save your resistance to the patriarchial hegemony for when it's really needed and will really make a difference.

Posted by Kathy at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

Fashion Faux Pas?

I seriously thought that catty old bitch had bought the farm.


Still can't fault his taste, though.

Posted by Kathy at 12:53 AM | Comments (0)

Still No Self-Control

None at all. My kindergarten teacher, Miss Goddard, would be very disappointed in me as she was always teaching me to strive to control my hyperactive five-year-old self. But at least this meme is from a different source this time around.

Because I'm all about the variety.

If interested, read on after the jump.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before? I learned how to switch heads around in photoshop. I ran over a ground squirrel with an automobile. I sat through a five hour plane trip without craving a cigarette and being edgy as hell as a result. I learned about the joy that is wi-fi. I also saw Kevin Bacon shake his thing, live and in person. Mmmm. Still hot.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Nope. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. While self-impovement is always good, the fact that people arbitrarily decide to start up at the beginning of the year, right after the holidays when life is boring, heightens their importance and hence dooms them to failure.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Surprisingly, for the first time in a long time, the answer is no. But we've got a few new arrivals scheduled for the early months of 2005.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No. Thank Goodness.

5. What countries did you visit? None. Sigh. Heck, I only made it out of Minnesota four times.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004? This is going to sound awful, but I would like to have a wee bit more money to do the things we like to do, rather than living in Entreprenurial Hell all the time. Not much, mind you, but just enough that we could go to dinner and a movie every now and again. That would be nice.

And other stuff, but I'm not going to go into that here.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory? As none are coming to mind, well, we'll just make the assumption that nothing really got etched, eh?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?I have no idea. 2004 seems pretty much like 2003 as far as "achievements" are concerned. We survived and survival was pretty darn good, so I'm not knocking it.

9. What was your biggest failure? The manuscript.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Does almost blowing your knee out count? If so, well, that. Being a hermit is good for your well being as far as commincable diseases are concerned.

11. What was the best thing you bought? That's easy: my rabbit corkscrew! That thing just ROCKS! Best $12 I've ever spent.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? The husband. He ended an emotionally trying jail sentence a year ago come January 26th. He dealt with Phantom Ankle Bracelet Syndrome when it was over with and has tried his best to get his software company up and running. While he hasn't brought in the capital he would like to do it properly, he hasn't quit. Which is surprising, because before he stopped drinking and started working on his issues this idea of his would have been over and done with in May. While it's not a lot of fun to live through Entrepreneurial Hell, he's made me very proud because he's proving he can change and do things differently simply because he wants to.

It may not sound like much. But it's really and truly no small feat.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? God. How much time do we have?

14. Where did most of your money go? Bills, food, and at the beginning of the year, the Hennepin County Work Release Facility.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Hmmm. I dunno. I got pissed off at a lot of people, but I don't think that's what they're talking about.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2004? Vertigo U2

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder? happier

Thinner or fatter? same. (THANK FRICKIN' GOD!)

Richer or poorer? same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Living

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Being scared

20. How will you be spending Christmas? I spent it with the husband here in the good ol' Cake Eater Pad. We had ham for supper. And it was very nice.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? Mom and Christi tie for first, with Mr. H. in third.

22. Did you fall in love in 2004? Yep. I believe you can fall in love over and over again with the same person. I've been married ten years now. And I keep finding new things that make me love the husband even more than I did when I first married him. This year has been particularly interesting because, quite frankly, he's a whole new man. He's learning about himself and what he never knew he was capable of because he was too busy leaning on a bottle to find out. That it's been amazing is an understatement.

Of course there are things about him that now drive me nuts that didn't way back when, too, so the admiration and love stays within reasonable levels.

23. How many one-night stands in this last year? Crikeys. What do you think?

24. What was your favorite TV program? Hmmmm. Toughie. I watch lots of TV. Of course we have the old favs, CSI, West Wing, Alias. But there are some new shows that I like quite a lot. Lost and House are at the top of that list.

I'm still addicted to BBC America, and while I've given up for the most part on Ground Force and Changing Rooms, I've picked up the Mystery Monday habit. Wire in the Blood is awesome and I can't wait for them to make more. The miniseries State of Play was fantastic as well.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I hadn't yet developed my intense loathing for Kofi Annan at this time last year, so the answer would technically be 'yes.'

26. What was the best book(s) you read? The second two novels of The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson: The Confusion and The System of the World. I'm still enjoying his Cryptonomicon, although it will be done with shortly and I will be depressed as a result.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Jamiroquai. Funky tunes that I enjoy.

28. What did you want and get? New pots and pans. And I got some sweet ones, too. Copper core, stainless steel. Mmmm. Good cookin!

29. What did you want and not get? My Audi A6. Ok, well, that was siezed and was gone by the end of 2003, but I secretly kept holding out hope it would---magically---return well into March.

Didn't happen, obviously. So, yes, technically speaking, you could have called me delusional.

30. What were your favorite films of this year? We didn't go to a lot of movies, but the ones we did go to were worth it. Spiderman 2 was great. I still say whomever cast Rosemary Harris as Aunt May is a freakin' genius! She is wonderful, and while Tobey Maguire was great, she's the one who raised those movies above the comic book genre and into serious drama. Team America made me almost wet my pants. And The Bourne Supremacy was highly enjoyable, even though that car chase at the end almost made the husband puke. Say it with me, kids: stead-i-cam.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went out to a movie and dinner with the husband. Thirty-four.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I honestly don't know. My hopes, dreams, expectations, etc., over the years, have taken a pounding, so I try not to have any. Makes life much easier. It probably sounds sad, but if you'd been in my shoes you'd probably be the same way.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? Tre Slob!

34. What kept you sane? Smoky Treats.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?Like I'm going to admit it.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The genocide in Darfur. The UN. The arrogance of the French. And, of course, the election.

37. Who did you miss? My friend, Barb. When I saw her for a few hours during our jaunt to Phoenix, I knew instantly it wasn't going to be enough time and that almost hurt worse than saying goodbye to her when we had to leave. I also miss my friend, Melanie, but she lives in England, so it's kind of wierd, but while I miss her, I can live without her more easily because I'm used to not seeing her. Although, the next time I see her, my heart will break when I have to say goodbye to her, as well.

Of course, I miss my family as well.

38. Who was the best new person you met? I don't get out much, so no one's really coming to mind. Which is really freakin' sad, don't you think?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004 Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it---and all the challenges that come with it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. No idea.

Posted by Kathy at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

Breathtaking Stupidity


I didn't think it was possible to take the wind right out of me with a simple statement anymore.

I guess I was wrong.

Posted by Kathy at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

Text Messaging Is For Infidels!

King Fahd (or Crown Prince Abdullah. Take your freakin' pick.) may hold the very impressive sounding job title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, but he's also your friendly Saudi Arabian telephone company owner as well.

And they don't want Saudi citizens texting in votes for a reality show, ala American Idol. Instead of doing the reasonable thing and simply voicing an opinion against this sort of behavior, what did they do instead?

They used their ownership of the phone company and just blocked 9.5 million people from texting in their votes.

{...}"We feel the program does not match the values of the Saudi culture," said spokesman Saad Dhafer. "Our social and economic market research shows that our customers want us to operate in line with these values."

I know. With all that malarkey about morals and values you'd think this move was about the reality show, but in actuality it's about text messaging. Because...

{...}But Dhafer added viewers in the kingdom were still be able to vote using a regular land line.{...}

Hmmm. I wonder how much a call to the land line costs? Is it a toll-free line? Or is there a charge? I'll bet you anything there's a charge for that call.

Anyone know?

If true, well, what does that tell you about what's really important to the House of Saud? Morals or money?

Posted by Kathy at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)

Random Question(s) of the Day

Am I supposed to know who these people are?

Does anyone else get the feeling that the spin cycle on pop culture is now going so fast that---sooner rather than later---it will spin itself right into irrelevancy?

Posted by Kathy at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)


Yet Another Meme. From the only place I ever seem to get these things.

1. Go To Mapquest.com.

2. Click on Directions.

3. Enter your current address and the address of your childhood home (or at least the town if you don't remember the exact address).

4. Put the time and distance in a post like this.

5. Repost the instructions to the meme in your own blog.

Here's how long it will take to get to Howard Buffett's house*.

Total Est. Time: 5 hours, 45 minutes
Total Est. Distance: 377.76 miles

I would say that's about right. Particularly the driving time. Although you can get it down to about five hours if you don't stop too much and traffic is flowing nicely on I-35 and I-80.

I do have to say, however, that the directions that Mapquest produced for driving within Omaha are, perhaps, the worst example of how badly they've flubbed it that I've ever seen. They've screwed me up---along with many other people---in the past, but man, oh, man! This one takes the cake! In Omaha, you don't go to the north side of Dodge Street to get to the neighborhoods on the south side of Dodge Street, which is where the old homestead resides and how Mapquest routed me in. Why don't you do this? you ask. Because Dodge street is the only street in Omaha that has the capacity to go East/West where you can make decent time and provides access to all the major north/south sidestreets---anything other road is a crapshoot. As a result Dodge has the most traffic. They built the freeways goofily in town, expecting development to go north/south. Being contrary, of course, development went west, hence, there are no freeways where you need them. Dodge Street has five lanes and the traffic flows quite quickly. It would be like crossing 35W here in the Cities. You'd have to gun it to make it across, and even then it's dicey.

And as the husband loves to whine about whenever we're there, you can never, never, NEVER turn left in Omaha. Well, that's not exactly true. There are plenty of places where you can turn left. But, where he is correct in that statement is that you can never turn left off Dodge Street onto a side street unless there happens to be a turn lane, which the city planners didn't provide many of in what appears was an attempt to make things interesting. There is no turn lane onto our old block. Hence Mapquest's faulty directions to turn north to be able to go south. Oy. Just take Farnam---or any other freakin' street for that matter---and you wouldn't have this problem. Considering the old homestead is right next to Farnam Street, you think Mapquest would have picked that one up.

*The old homestead just sold again this past summer. To Howard Buffett, who is Warren's son. And yes, I mean the Warren Buffett. I used to walk past his house every day going back and forth to school. The husband asks for a moment of silence every time we pass it nowadays. Howard currently lives on a farm in Illinois most of the time, rejecting his father's capitalist ways. Amazingly enough, though, he still manages to live rather nicely on those lovely Berkshire-Hathaway "A" stock dividends. According to the Cake Eater Father, who still keeps up with the dish on our old block, he bought the place so his family---and various other relatives---wouldn't have to stay in a hotel when they visited dear old Dad, who lives five blocks away.

{Point of Origin: The Impenetrable One}

Posted by Kathy at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

A Quick Whine

To the email spammers of the world:


I don't have a penis. Hence I am not interested in penis enhancers. I am a woman. We don't have penises unless we have "issues" and require serious and painful surgery to resolve said "issues."

Please take note of this and stop sending me spam asking me if I want to enhance junk I do not have to begin with.

Posted by Kathy at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)

Your Evil Chuckle For the Day


UPDATE: It's a good day for evil chuckling.

Posted by Kathy at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2005



From The Desk of Kathleen Nelson

To: Hollywood
From: Me
RE: The Raping of My Childhood

Would you people cut it the HELL out? I've about had it with you people raping my cherished childhood movie memories because some Genius Producer decided it would be a fucking fantastic idea. Furthermore, I've had it with your faulty assumption that because a. I loved the movie when I was a child and b. I am now of reproductive age that I will c. automatically take my 2.5 children to see this flaming piece of crap. And, like, because, like, it's got Johnny Depp in it, and he's, like, all HOTHOTHOT right now! And he was, like, fantastic in that pirate movie!

I am not a sheep. I do not utter multiple "BAAAAAAA"'s because you want me to.

What is the matter with you people? Have you nothing better to do with your time than to exploit my very happy childhood because yours was bad so you spend a thousand dollars a month on therapy? Is this your plan for world movie domination? Are you sitting in some feng-shuied-to-hell-and-back office on the Warner Brothers lot, greedily rubbing your palms together, a maniacal cackle on the verge of slipping from your collagen injected lips, just waiting for the cash to start rolling in?


But let us diverge from the topic of the rape of my childhood memories for a moment and focus on other things.

What sort of rhinoplastic hell did you force Johnny Depp to endure to look like what you thought the part of Willy Wonka should look like? Did you set him up for an extended stint in the Elizabeth Taylor Suite at the Joan Rivers' Institute for Advanced Rhinoplasty for all the work, or did you simply inject a botox suppository up his ass to avoid all those troublesome shots of botulism? Have you possibly noticed that he's as white as a goodamn mime, as well? Did you give him whatever Michael Jackson is afflicted with or is that simply makeup? I'm assuming it's the latter, but you people throw around your money like a redneck throws beer bottles up in the air for shooting practice, so one simply never knows. You do realize that with the white face and the obsession with children, Johnny does kind of give off that whole Michael Jackson-pedophile vibe, right? Because that's what I thought of. I began wondering when Charlie was going to be taken aside and shown Willy's wee-wee.

Furthermore, if you're going to spend GOBS of cash hiring Tim Burton---and then spending millions of hours dealing with the weirdness that comes part and parcel with him---you might want to make sure your visionary is actually, you know, being visionary. From what I've seen it looks as if he ran the original film through the filters of the stoners he lived next door to when he was a freshman in college who, like, thought the movie was so trippy, maaaaan! Your visionary envisaged nothing new. He did not take Roald Dahl's work to heart. Rather, he took the original movie to heart and went from there. While I could not pick out the oompa-loompas as the cuts were too quick, all the sets nonetheless looked exactly like the original. Only darker. Because Tim is, like, so dark What? Was Tim having a few off-months or what? You might want to think about getting your money back. This movie is going to scare kids. It will not make them wonder about the wonderful world of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, wishing they could win their very own gold ticket. It will, however, make them worry about the bad, bad man up on the screen. But, take heart, people. If nothing else, it should work as a wonderful anti-drug campaign in about five years.

Which brings us back to the original topic: what the hell were you thinking, remaking a beloved classic? Do you people not know the Rule of Remakes? Let me enlighten you: YOU DO NOT REMAKE A MOVIE THAT WAS GREAT! You just don't do it. You PISS PEOPLE OFF when you do. You can, however, remake a movie that had a great premise but was faultily executed. If you need an example of this rule, see Ocean's Eleven. There are plenty of bad movies around. Go trolling through the vaults and find one of those to remake. Don't fuck with brilliance. The Gods of Brilliance should and will---rightly, I might add---strike you down for your impertinence, you fucking morons, because you're raping my fondly held childhood movie memories.

I'll save my venting about how Johnny Depp will never fill Gene Wilder's shoes for another day.

There. I feel better. Now, run to the therapist and cry your poor widdle eyes out because the bad, bad woman was mean to you. Maybe you'll score some extra prozac for your troubles.

Posted by Kathy at 11:08 PM | Comments (1)


Courtesy of a leak to the AP from some random congressional aide, we're finally getting a peek into the UN Audits of the Oil For Food Program. While we're only talking about three audits out of a total of fifty-six, well, it doesn't look very nice for the UN.

{...}Two of the audits examined irregularities including overcharging by two companies that were hired to monitor oil sales and the import of humanitarian goods under the program. Another detailed financial mismanagement by a U.N. agency administering humanitarian aid under the program.

{...}A congressional aide provided the AP with copies of three of the 56 audits, including one that found that the United Nations was billed over several years for 31 days of work in June, which only has 30 days.

Pardon me for interrupting, but it seems pretty---ahem---Goddamn basic to realize there are only thirty days in June and not thirty-one. It gets better.

{...}It was unclear what steps the United Nations took to correct the mismanagement uncovered in the reports and to demand repayment from the companies recommended by the auditors.

One audit dated July 3, 2002, examined contracts with Saybolt International BV, a Dutch company that was hired to monitor oil exports from Iraq under the humanitarian program.

The report detailed billing by the company exceeding $2 million. The company inflated invoices, charged for accommodation of workers provided by the Iraqi government and exaggerated staffing and other expenses. For example, the report found that the United Nations was billed several years for 31 days of work in June, which only has 30 days.

Another report from July 21, 1999, detailed possible overpayments of more than $3 million to London-based Lloyd's Register Inspection Ltd., which was hired to inspect and monitor humanitarian goods as they were imported into Iraq.

The audit noted that the company billed the United Nations for agents deployed in December 1996, two months before the first contracts for the import of humanitarian supplies were issued.

"The contractor without consultation took the decision to deploy all the agents," the report states, costing the United Nations an estimated $1.97 million.

The company also was able to renegotiate inflated renewals of its contract because U.N. administrators neglected to consider competitors in time.

"It appears that the contractor was fully aware that the (United Nations) was unprepared or unwilling to undertake fresh bidding for the service," the report stated. "Negotiations with Lloyd's were always conducted just before the expiry of the contract."

In 1998 Lloyd's Register pulled out of the contract and was a replaced by another company, Cotecna Inspection S.A., a Swiss company, which has also been the subject of investigations of the U.N. program.{...}

{emphasis mine}

Now, Paul Volker, who's overseeing the UN's internal investigation, has pooh-poohed these audits. And I quote:

{...}In an interview Thursday, Volcker said that the internal audits "don't prove anything," but do show how the United Nations was urged to tighten up its supervision of the program. "There's no flaming red flags in the stuff," he said.{...}

Even better, UN spokeswoman Stephanie Dujarric said:

{...}"These audits do show that this was a program that was highly audited with a great level of oversight by the U.N."{...}

As if simple oversight was enough to correct the outright thievery.

It never ceases to amaze me how blind these people are to how all of this looks. If you do not have the power to stop someone from overbilling you, well, you're not conducting business in an appropriate manner, are you? Even better, you renegotiated a contract with a company that was overbilling you! And at a higher rate, too! Wow. You're smart! Give that International Governmental Organization a Gold Star for efficiency and smart bookkeeping!

According to Volcker, there aren't any "red flags" in these audits. I beg to differ. The red flag that's sticking up for me is how flaming easy it is to rob the UN.

These contractors deliberately padded their bills and expense accounts, knowing that the UN wouldn't notice. And if the UN did notice, well, there doesn't appear to be much that they could do about it, does it? These audits just give us even more proof about how corrupt the UN is. And they don't even care! It's absolutely amazing, isn't it, that they would deny the corruption, skipping over the inconvenient fact people died because of the corruption, and say, hey, but we were auditing, so we were doing something. That's weak. And any fourth-grader could tell you that.

But they're oblivious. We're doing the good deeds of the world, they say. We're relevant, they claim. We should be the leading body of international statesmanship, they demand.


If we went by Uncle Joe's old aphorism, to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs, the UN's omelette would be made with golden eggs laid by a certain goose we're all familiar with. That's a pretty expensive omelette to begin with, you'll agree. But wait, it gets better. The UN would acquire these eggs, they would then pay twice the normal price (while, of course, not realizing they were being swindled until well after the fact) and then would have trouble breaking the damn eggs because someone, namely the dictator in charge of serving the omelette, would object about the portion size and would want the bigger half for himself.

Meanwhile, the poor people who just want the fucking omelette---no matter what it's made out of---are starving.

Would you want these makers of omelettes in charge of the world? Do you think they're qualified? I don't. And the fact they don't even have a clue as to how incompetent they are does nothing to convince me otherwise.

Posted by Kathy at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)

Requiescat in Pace

A rare Kennedy obituary. By which I mean it's an obituary you'll actually want to read.

While I fully realize the treatment of Rosemary's mental retardation was completely common for the time, this story still breaks my heart. Furthermore, her treatment does seem extreme, particularly when seen in conjunction with her father's unceasing ambitions.

The only thing I can add is the sincere and fervent hope that Joe Kennedy is roasting in the flames of hell for treating his daughter, his first born, as a pariah. There should be a separate level of hell for people like this.

God rest her soul.

{Hat Tip: The Maximum Leader}

Posted by Kathy at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2005

I'd Trust Them

The UN really has a lot going for it, don't you think?

They can't stop genocides.

They can't stop people stealing from the Oil For Food fund.

They can't organize the logistics of humanitarian aid and must rely on the resources of donor nations to get the job done. When they can find donor nations to help in the first place.

They can't get member nations to pay their dues.

They can't shoot bullets at bad people, but seem willing to shoot whenever their lives are on the line.

They can't organize lasting cease fires, but can beg and plead for "three days of tranquility" to vaccinate children for polio. Did I mention that the people they're begging for these "three days of tranquility" from want to kill these children? And have been doing a bang-up job, for the most part.

And they can't stop their very own peacekeeping troops from sexually exploiting the very people they're supposed to be protecting.

YAY for the UN! I'd trust them to save my life. Wouldn't you?

Posted by Kathy at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)


Brad Pitt's back on the market, baby!

I'll admit to being surprised at this one. There were rumors, yes, but I thought that if anyone could pull it out, these two could. If "normal" is a word you can use to describe people who live and work in Hollywood, well, these two seemed normal, their atrocious political leanings aside. It's very sad that she couldn't see past her own career. (Provided the speculation is correct in this instance, which it easily could not be.)

It's hardly unusual to see people splitting up over the whole kid thing. I've got friends who have gone through the same thing. Both said they wanted kids when they got hitched, then when push came to shove, one bailed and that was that. Usually, however, in my experience, the split occurs over the fact that someone's scared to have kids, or they changed their minds, not that their career was more important. You would think, however, that with the careers of actresses being what they are in this day and age (i.e. forty is too old), she would have seen past that and made the big gesture.

Ah. Only in Hollywood.

Posted by Kathy at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)


Good and interesting stuff going on over at Protein Wisdom.

The long and short of the story: Michelle Malkin has her knickers in a twist over Kid Rock being invited to play at the inaguration. She objects on moral grounds, because Kid Rock, well, he ain't a moralist, ya dig? And, of course, being the reactionary she is, wants him disinvited. Jeff replied and there's some very interesting discussion in the comments section that anyone who's interested in the potential backlash over the Jesusland debate might want to check out.

As far as my personal opinion: Kid Rock's music sucks. I've hated it for years. It grates on my nerves and I love the part of that song where the "radio edit" kicks in because I know that it's almost over with! That said, far be it from me to ban someone from playing at an inauguration he was invited to, for a president he supported during the election. That's just crass and wrong. Just because you don't like the music or what it says doesn't mean you can get up on your high horse and ban it. That's wrong. And if the inaugural committee caves and disinvites him, well, that's a serious sign to me that they wanted my middle of the road vote, but don't really want to pay me any heed.

Banning Kid Rock and his music also says to me that said censor has little to no faith in the fact they can be subjected to something they consider to be morally wrong and come out on the other side unscathed and strengthened in their morals. It's the equivalent of covering your ears and screaming, "LALALALALALALA!" really loud so you can't hear whatever it is you find objectionable. Which is childish.

And don't throw the "it's all about protecting the children" argument at me on this one. Who on earth brings kids to an inaugural event? And if so, don't you think those kids haven't heard or seen worse on the radio or MTV, respectively? Puhleeze. If you don't like it, walk away. Don't listen, but don't deny others the opportunity to choose for themselves.


Who knew Kid Rock could inflame such serious discussion over the future of the Republican party?

See Also: INDC Journal

*That's the name of a Kid Rock song. We have it on WinAmp, and given the fact that everyone seems to have their panties in a wad over what, seems to me, a very small thing, well, the jibberish fit.

Posted by Kathy at 12:25 AM | Comments (2)

January 07, 2005

Tee Vee Movie Time!

Geez, Amber.

Milking it for all it's worth, eh? Getting every last drop out of that hind tit, right? That's important. I understand. One must make the most of opportunity when she knocks, right? Even if it means knocking Opportunity down and authorizing Gloria Allred, her team of lackeys and your agents to all strap on and gang rape the poor girl. It's all done for a good cause: you and your bank account.

Posted by Kathy at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

Save Your Job!

By refusing to do it!

ROME (Reuters) - Passengers on Alitalia's European flights were left hungry on Friday as cabin crew refused to serve meals and drinks in a "snack strike" to protest new working conditions at the Italian carrier.

The novel industrial action is a pale shadow of the all-out strikes which brought the airline to a standstill on occasion last year, but it has infuriated the management which is trying to drag the state-controlled company into profit.

Passengers on national and European flights were to be deprived of most in-flight services between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. (1000-1400), a union representative said. Long-haul flights were unaffected.{...}

That's good. Piss off the people who pay the company for a service, who in turn pays you your salary. That's the way to get better treatment and save your ass from the chopping block.

Well Done! Gee, I wish I would have thought of that one.

Posted by Kathy at 04:14 PM | Comments (1)

Would You Like Some Citron With Your Cheerios?

He's Baaaaack.

Ah, I'm so freakin' relieved. Phew. I was beginning to wonder if he'd died and no one was going to tell us.

Go read this. And then this.

Now you understand why I wrote this, correct?

My surfing chi has been restored to balance.

Posted by Kathy at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Explain This One To Me

Supposedly Microsquash can never quite seem to close all the holes in their Internet Explorer browser, and are constantly having to release security patches, but yet they think they're the ones best suited to handle the spyware problem?

And the market went down for Symantec and McAfee when this was announced---even though neither of these programs deals with spyware.

The market needs to get a frickin' clue.

Perhaps Bill Gates can buy them one.

Posted by Kathy at 12:33 AM | Comments (0)

Happy Girl!


Call it the season of no-show snow. Despite storms to the north and south, a measly 2.8 inches has fallen in the Twin Cities, a whopping 20.2 inches below normal. That's the least measured here at this time in 114 years.

This is also one of the longest waits on record for a metro snowfall of 1 inch or more. If none falls before Sunday -- the forecast says some clouds, maybe flurries -- that 60-year-old record is toast, too. {...}

Better yet...

{...}Will snowfall return to normal later this winter?

Bad news for snowmobilers and skiers. Weather records indicate that if there's little snow by this point, odds are there won't be much more. Three of the least snowy years on record started out exactly this way.{...}

Hot Damn!

Omaha currently has more snow than we do here in the Great (Not So) White North. Just ask my father---he's shoveled four times in the past couple of days.

We haven't even put gas in our snowblower yet, let alone been required to shovel.

I can so easily deal with this. I have no issues with this. The move to Minnesota wasn't my idea---it was the husband's. I would have no problem with moving to a warmer climate, alas, that isn't going to happen. I don't like winter. Particularly Minnesota winters. We've had some lame ones in recent years, but they can be harsh, unforgiving things. The first winter we lived here we had a total of 80 inches of snow between November and March. Ten of it had fallen before we even hit Thanksgiving that year. Spring didn't happen until late April, early May and then it occurred in a two-week span of time and then, as is usual, BLAMMO! it was summer. So, the less snow there is, the easier the winter. Less thaw time is involved. Less time is spent having that snow reflect the sun right back into the atmosphere, and it will get warmer sooner. This makes me happy.

Now, if we can make it through the winter without some idiot snowmobiler racing across one of the lakes, dumping their sled through thin ice, and having to be expensively rescued, I'll be a really happy girl. If the jerks are stupid enough to race across one of the lakes at 60 MPH and then attempt to jump patches of water, they deserve what they get.

I'm sure this sounds silly to the southerners (or foreigners) amongst you, but, amazingly enough, this is a serious problem here. It costs about $50K every time some dolt who has fallen prey to the idea that they have big balls has to be rescued. And it's a big pet peeve of mine. Nature has taken its course, it has claimed an idiot, and I am perfectly happy to have that idiot's seed removed from the gene pool. Why mess with Nature? But, noooo. People have to be all kind and considerate and have to rescue these dumb fucks. For some strange reason, people feel compelled to save the lives of these morons. Why, I don't know and probably never will, but they do it anyway.

Anyway, this lack of snow is good news. For me at least. Those of you who like snow are screwed. And I really don't feel all that sorry for you.

Posted by Kathy at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

What Did Your State Legislators Do Today?

Mine spent the day learning how to be nice to one another.

More than 60 state legislators showed up at the Humphrey Institute Thursday for a conference on how to behave better and get more accomplished than they did last year.

For some, the turnout was a positive sign. Other vote-counters read it as 60 for civility and 141 absentions.

"A lot of those who should be here aren't," noted Sen. Leo Foley, DFL-Coon Rapids. "But there are enough here to create movement forward to do something about it."

The session, which was held at the University of Minnesota, was called "Beyond Bickering and Gridlock: Your Role in Changing the Legislature." It was organized by Independence Party Sen. Sheila Kiscaden of Rochester, the university's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the National Conference of State Legislators.

Last year's Legislature ended in disarray. After nearly four months it adjourned without passing major legislation. Many observers attributed the lack of accomplishment to a high level of partisanship and an erosion of mutual respect.{...}


My tax dollars at work.

Posted by Kathy at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

Library Shelves

In the never ending quest to feed my need for these sorts of things, Robbo has delivered the meat once again.

The rules are as follows: These are authors whose work grace my library shelves. I deleted the stuff I don't have and added my own, which are highlighted in bold.

1 Diana Gabaldon
2. Michael Ondaatje
3. Tom Clancy
4. Jane Austen
5. Arturo Perez-Reverte
6. JRR Tolkien (which, I am ashamed to say, is the husband's. I'm ashamed it's on our shelves along with a number of other Tolkein books. I've never read it. And I never will. And, yes, it's a looong story, which I will skip over.)
7. Iain Pears
8. D.H. Lawrence
9. Neal Stephenson
10. Miguel Cervantes

And, just for fun, I'll start a new meme: ten authors you are ashamed you own the work of, but really can't help yourself. These are the books you buy when you're in a bad mood and need some cheering up. These are the books you buy when you're stuck in a podunk airport during a snowstorm and it's either this or the National Enquirer for reading material.

Sure, it's all well and good to tell the world of the lofty works of literature you have on your shelves. It makes you look good. But the real question is, will you cop to the guilty pleasures or the reading material you bought in desperation? Hmmmm. We shall see.

Here's mine. For the record: we have two bookcases and one has a set of double doors on it. These are the authors who reside here, hidden from the rest of the world.

1. Maeve Binchy
2. Nora Roberts (Actually have quite a lot of her stuff. Have contributed quite a bit to her gross national product. Which is something like $60M. Sigh.)
3. Luanne Rice
4. Dan Brown
5. Victoria "I Dig Writing About Impoverished Victorian Virgins" Holt
6. Daniel Silva
7. Vince Flynn (Actually, I'm quite fond of this guy's work, and he's a local boy, but it's not great literature)
8. Robert Ludlum
9. John Le Carre (While the prose is brilliant, well, they're still spy novels)
10. Sidney Sheldon

Purge yourselves, children. Come clean.

Posted by Kathy at 11:17 PM | Comments (2)

So, Do "They" Really Say It's Your Birthday? Or Were "They" Just Looking For An Excuse to Eat Cake?

I wouldn't put it past your dad to just hasten the birthday celebrations so he could eat cake, but he could be telling the truth. Just in case it's the latter...

Happy 1st Birthday, Satchel!

Gawd. This kid always makes my ovaries twitch.

Posted by Kathy at 03:05 PM | Comments (2)

Silly Germans!

As the wise man once said, save the anger for later, my boy.

Posted by Kathy at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

It Had To Happen Sometime

Someone's suing Fear Factor.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw.

In a handwritten four-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Cleveland on Tuesday, paralegal Austin Aitken said, "To have the individuals on the show eat (yes) and drink dead rats was crazy and from a viewer's point of view made me throw-up as well an another in the house at the same time."

His suit added, "NBC is sending the wrong message to its TV watchers that cash can make or have people do just about anything beyond reasoning (sic) and in most cases against their will." {...}

Of course this is a bogus lawsuit and it's all about the money, because when this dude was contacted for a comment, he wouldn't say anything unless it was a "paid interview situation." But I applaud the sentiment, nonetheless.

He couldn't have found a more deserving target.

Posted by Kathy at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)

The East German Judge Just Gave Him a Perfect 6.0!

Oliver Stone, in a feat of amazing mental rubberiness, jumped the shark!

Too bad it didn't take a chunk out of his ass in the meanwhile.

Posted by Kathy at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

Yet Another Highly Tedious Wodehouse Update

Allrighty then.

I finished Right Ho, Jeeves last night.

My conclusions---which I all know you've been waiting for with bated breath---can be found after the jump.

I really like Bertie.

When I wondered in my earlier screed about what Bertie added to the mix, well, the answer appears to be everything.

For example:

Tuppy's fatheaded words were still rankling in my bosom as I went up to my room. They continued rankling as I shed the form-fitting, and had not ceased to rankle when, clad in the old dressing-gown, I made my way along the corridor to the salle de bain.

It is not too much to say that I was piqued to the tonsils.

I mean to say, one does not court praise. The adulation of the multitude means very little to one. But, all the same, when one has take the trouble to whack out a highly juicy scheme to benefit an in-the-soup friend in his hour of travail, it's pretty foul to find him giving the credit to one's personal attendant, particularly if that personal attendant is a man who goes about the place not packing mess jackets.

But after I had been spashing about in the porcelain for a bit, composure began to return. I have always found that in moments of heart-bowed-downness there is nothing that calms the bruised spirit like a good go at the soap and water. I don't say I actually sang in the tub, but there were times when it was a a mere spin of the coin whether I would do so or not.

The spiritual anguish induced by tactless speech had become noticeably lessened.

The discovery of a toy duck in the soap dish, presumably the property of some former juvenile visitor, contributed not a little to this new and happier frame of mind. What with one thing and another, I hadn't played with toy ducks in my bath for years, and I found the novel experience most invigorating. For the benefit of those interested, I may mention that if you shove the thing under the surface with the sponge and then let go, it shoots out of the water in a manner calculated to divert the most careworn. Ten minutes of this and I was enabled to return to the bedchamber much more the merry old Bertram. {...}

{Chapter Nine, Right Ho, Jeeves. Copyright 1934, 1964 by P.G. Wodehouse. All Rights Reserved.}

Now, I ask you: how can you not love a man who thoroughly enjoys playing with rubber duckies in the bath and finds them a balm to his mightily troubled soul?

Bertram Wooster is the key. He is the marshmallow in the fluff. He makes it tasty, instead of just sticky.

I've read some criticism that called Bertie some rather foul names (No doubt Bertie would take offense. The Woosters being who they are and all.). The slurs "yammering ass" and "idiot" seemed to be bandied about with lavish frequency. Well, I don't think that's quite right. Bertie is quite intelligent. Bertie "wrote" the books, for God's sake. It's just that Bertie, in my opinion, has just never been challenged to earn his keep. Earning your keep makes you a wiser individual. Bertie has never been forced to deal with the world. He lives in his little bubble. And a pleasant little bubble it is, too.

As far as my earlier complaint with Ring for Jeeves about how boring and predictable the plot was, well, the plot in Right Ho, Jeeves was just as predictable, but I found myself not minding all that much. And it was Bertie who kept me from minding. If you think the rubber duckie story was the only instance where Bertram went off the reservation to make a few humorous observations of his own, well, you're wrong. The book is loaded with them and they're all equally, if not more, funny than his rubber duckie being the one who makes bathtime lots of fun.

Reading Wodehouse has provided some challenges for me. As Robert so wisely counseled, I needed to ditch the urge to compare and contrast with the real world. This is why I don't read science fiction or fantasy: I need a touchstone to make sense of it all. You can never find that in science fiction and it drives me batty. Who knew, however, that I'd find that same problem with reading Wodehouse? I surely didn't. But Wodehouse, God Bless Him, has managed to achieve what no other writer has been able to make me want to work for: the ditching of the comparison and contrast. It becomes readily apparent that Wodehouse is not about the real world: he's about creating fiction out of the everyday troubles most writers would blow right past as being too boring. If you do bother to compare and contrast, looking for scabs to pick at, you're missing the point. The man mines comedy from the least likely sources in the least likely world and for that, yes, I would consider him to be a genuis. The man made me suspend my disbelief and that's a pretty rare feat.

The other trouble I had with reading Wodehouse is my own problem, but I'll share anyway: I have to slow the hell down. To explain: I still have the bad habit I gained in college of skimming. I had to read a lot in college (my design major flunky of a sister once told me that for all the time I spent in the library, reading and researching, I should just move in.) and as such, my reading habits changed dramatically. I can no longer hang on every word if you're managing to bore me. There's other stuff to read, damnit! Prove your worth or I'll just get to the end of your book by skimming it! With most authors, I've surprisingly found, you really don't miss much by skimming. You get the general gist and are still entertained, one way or another. I really only focus on the text when I'm seriously involved, and for me to get seriously involved, well, I'm sorry to say, the author has to work for it.

The fact that I'm now a novelist does nothing to help me in this area, either. If nothing else, it's made me more choosy about what I read because, God, when you turn into Toto and pull that curtain back and get to see all the levers and gizmos that you were previously unaware of, well, it kind of ruins the experience of just sitting down and reading a book for the hell of it. Reading becomes an exercise in wondering if I'm not involved. Obviously I don't wonder about the story itself or the characters, but rather why the author chose this path, instead of being more creative and taking this other path, but that path was probably too long and their publisher probably nixed it because it would take up too much time, or it didn't occur to them, and why didn't it occur to them if it occured to me, the unpublished dork, etc. You look at novels differently once you start writing them. Nowadays it takes a highly skilled author to distract me from the simple business of writing and seeing how people do it differently.

Bertie kept me involved and I found myself slowing down dramatically to savor what he had to say. But---and you knew there was a 'but' coming, didn't you?---I can't read Wodehouse from start to finish, like I would a regular novel. And this is completely my own fault. It's hard to break long-held habits overnight. With Wodehouse, I would read a chapter and then my patience would start to wane as I'd had a bit too much fluff, and I would find myself skimming again. My bad habits intruded. It's my fault completely, and not because the work was poorly crafted. Hardly. Wodehouse shouldn't have to pay for my mistakes. It's an insult. And I didn't want my reading of this book to become yet another exercise is pulling the curtain back and wondering about the business end. So, while I generally consider this sort of behavior to be anathema, I put the book down. I picked up the other book I'm reading and read that for a while. I kept up with this pattern for the better part of the week, and I'm pretty happy with not only the reading material, but that I managed to beat back the instinct to hurry through this book because of my bad habits.

So, unless I manage to ditch my appalling habits borne of impatience, I don't think I'll ever be able to simply read Wodehouse from start to finish. I don't know if I'll be shot out of a cannon for not being able to greedily devour Wodehouse's catalogue now that I've found it. I leave it up to you, the Wodehouse freaks of the World to make that call. But, on the upside, I've gained an author who will, I have a feeling, entertain me for years on end, when I choose to pick him up, and that's not so bad.

Posted by Kathy at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Power TV Watching

Plans for TV viewing this evening:

1. Lost.

2. Alias. SYDNEY'S BACK, BITCH! (And it's about frickin' time, too.)

3. West Wing. Which will be taped, of course.

See ya tomorrow!

Posted by Kathy at 06:14 PM | Comments (2)

Let the Stones Fly


The bastard deserves a lot worse than just being beaten up.

{hat tip: The Blog Child}

Posted by Kathy at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)


Will need to console Mr. H. over this.

Posted by Kathy at 02:46 PM | Comments (2)

Days of Tranquility

Need yet another example of how wonderfully effective the UN is?

The UN announced on Monday that it is hoping for three "days of tranquility" in Darfur. January 10-12 are the scheduled "days of tranquility."

Why, you ask, are they asking for these "days of tranquility" now? Particularly after all they haven't been able to achieve in Darfur? The least of which is a lasting cease-fire.

Well, the answer would be that they would like these "days of tranquility" to immunize children for polio, which appears to be making some progress in the refugee camps on working its way back from oblivion.

{...}"What I am asking is during the (vaccination) campaign ... to have days of tranquility and that means no action whatsoever," Jan Pronk, the U.N. special envoy to Sudan, told reporters. "That means that all forces should stay in the camps, in their barracks."

{...}Pronk said he would discuss the issue with the government and southern rebel movements, as well as with the Darfur rebel groups such as the main groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

{...}The WHO said that polio was on the rise in Sudan and an epidemic was feared, with one official saying the number of cases has risen to 105 since the disease re-emerged in mid-2004.

Guido Sabatinelli, WHO representative in Sudan, said that ideally any fighting would halt for two days before the vaccination campaign began and continue two days after, but said the key was to ensure there were no incidents during the 3 days.

He said the campaign would administer oral vaccinations to children under five with household-to-household visits. He said three days would be enough to reach children under five.

So, let me see if I've got this straight: the UN has no hesitations about asking for "three days of tranquility" to vaccinate refugee children for polio, but somehow they cannot be bothered to stop these parties from killing the children and their families in the first place?

Explain that one to me, would ya?

See Also: The Butchers

disclaimer after the jump

Just for the record in case my animosity toward the UN led you to believe the wrong thing: I want these children to have their vaccinations. My mother had polio as a child. Even today, at age seventy-two, she believes she is still suffering aftereffects from this childhood illness. She ain't whistling dixie, either. They're just learning about post-polio syndrome because most children died from polio so they weren't able to study the after-effects. I wouldn't wish a case of polio on my worst enemy. Mom was one of the lucky survivors in that she wasn't crippled. Most people weren't so lucky and now that it's known this disease could affect these children much later in their lives, well, it's that much more important to vaccinate. Please don't send me an email telling me that I'm being cruel. I'm not.

I just think it's fucking ridiculous that the UN finds itself in the position of asking for "three days of tranquility" to accomplish this task, when if they hadn't sat on their hands for months on end, this wouldn't be a problem.

Posted by Kathy at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

And Away We Go

So, the Cake Eater Pad went up on the market yesterday.

We already are scheduled for two showings today.

If they think I'm going to leave the house while people walk through, they're kidding themselves.

In fact, I believe I'm going to try and hinder the showings. Would that be bad of me? I don't know. One little thing I can do to spoil it is to turn on the dishwasher while people are walking through. We have this problem wherein once you turn it on, the pipes in the wall rattle loudly. This really isn't all that surprising: it's just one more problem with the place that needs fixing, but it's bound to be expensive. No one's touched the plumbing in that wall for years, and there's no access panel to get at it, either. The husband informs me you can hear the rattling all the way down in the basement, too.

As much as I'm not fond of our current landlord, I have this feeling I should try and warn potential buyers off. Just in case some poor schlub decides this place is a good deal and is unaware of just how much works needs to be done.

Neither am I fond of this real estate agent. He's a big ball of cheese. "Hey, How ya doin'?" He seems more suited to be selling used cars than houses. And he's already tried to test our good will. According to the terms of our lease, if the landlord wants access to our apartment, they have to give us twenty-four hours notice. Well, the guy's secretary called us yesterday to schedule a showing at 10 this morning and she called at 9:50 a.m. While pushing it, that's fine and legal and I have no problems with it. The agent himself, though, called to schedule a showing for this afternoon well past the twenty-four hour cutoff. The husband politely informed him, "twenty-four hours means twenty-four hours." I know the guy will try to push it again, and we have plans to coordinate with the downstairs neighbors to block any and all attempts---across the board---that violate the 24-hour rule.

Oh, and did I mention that the downstairs neighbors are FREAKED OUT about this? Not good. Apparently, Tweedledumb just left a message on their voice mail. He didn't talk to them directly to explain the situation and he really didn't take into account that because they're not American and have no experience with home sales here, they didn't know what this meant. The husband had to calm them down because they were afraid they were going to have to pack it up and move right away. Sigh.

So, there's my ethical dilemma for the day. Should I mess with them? Any ideas, kids?

UPDATE: I should have anticipated that real estate agents themselves would be the first ones to walk through this property.

A guy just walked through, seemed surprised to see me in the kitchen and then started grilling me about the property. First question out of his mouth: "How long have you lived here?" "Five years," I replied. His eyes lit up like a tree at Christmas.

Then he proceeded to ask questions about all the problems the house has and I answered them. I don't know whether I turned him off, but he wasn't too interested in looking around after our chat, so who knows?

I sincerely hope I'm not going to get in trouble with GWH and Tweedledumb.

UPDATE II: Just looked out at the front lawn, and there is a big yellow line that was spray painted across the icy front yard. The husband and I think this is right where our nicely tree root-corrupted sewer line is.

If they think they can replace a sewer line in January, they're nuts. And if they think they're going to do it while we're still living here, they're nuts. I'm not going without water and indoor plumbing for weeks on end.

Not gonna happen.

Posted by Kathy at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)

January 04, 2005

Head's Up

I've been harping for over a month now as to how people should start watching House, MD because I like it and I don't want it to be cancelled! Honestly, despite its loathsome network home, it's really a good show.

If you're interested yet haven't tuned in because you don't like coming in late on a series, well, know they're rerunning the pilot tonight. 9E/8C on your local Fox station. Neither is there going to be a new episode until that awful American Idol starts up at the end of the month and can provide a solid lead-in (although, I have to wonder how many people are going to watch both shows, American Idol fans being who they invariably are.), so you have the opportunity to catch up.


Posted by Kathy at 03:38 PM | Comments (1)

Required Reading

Ian Buruma's Letter From Amsterdam in The New Yorker.

Go Read.

Posted by Kathy at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Sobering Entertainment

Rich has decided that the qualifier "seldom" should be removed from his title for the length of a week.

Will he be as wild a rover without being seldom sober?


This should be interesting.

Posted by Kathy at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

Random Question(s) For the Day

What I want to know is how did Chely Wright know that the woman who flipped her off was ticked off at the Marine Corps sticker in the back of her SUV?

Did the woman point and grotesquely mimic distinct jarhead behavior? Is that what tipped Chely off?

Or is there a possibility that Chely cut this unknown chick off and that's what prompted the middle finger to be thrown?


Posted by Kathy at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)


As in, right on the.

{...}It's so easy to be cynical. Mega stars stumping for a cause just gives my cynicism that bitter twinge. I get a bad taste in my mouth every time a group of celebrities (or psuedo celebrities) get together to try to get you, their fans, to donate to a cause. I think, instead of spending time getting all these people together, renting a studio, writing a song, recording the song, putting the album in stores, waiting for the constant airplay to kick in and, in essence, begging their public to send money to whatever they are singing about - why don't they all just reach into their pockets and donate a cool million each? Sondra did it. Leonardo did it. It seems a hell of lot more sensible, logistically and monetarily, to just cut a check and get the money where it's going. But, no. Rather than donate out of their own bank accounts, they'd rather reach out to you - you who buys their albums and t-shirts, you who probably has $24 in your bank account at the moment and no gas in your car - to put the dollars in the coffer because, hey, they are donating their time, man. They are donating their talents. And that should be enough. Right?

Any moment now Bruce Springsteen will hold a press conference, with Bono on one side and Sting on the other. They'll announce a huge show at some vast stadium, maybe two stadiums - one in the U.S. and one in the U.K. Bob Geldof will come out of obscurity to smile for the cameras and remind people that he was at the forefront of the pop-star-as-philanthropist movement. Tickets will be $50 and up. There will be t-shirts, water and food for sale at the show, as well as frisbees and beach balls imprinted with the TsunamiAid logo, which will be copyrighted and trademarked and perhaps drawn by a famous artists. The shows will be simulcast on Pay-per-View. The second the concert is over and the now broke fans have gone home, the DVD and CD will be for sale. Millions and millions of dollars will be raised. By the fans of these stars. Yet the stars will get the credit for raising the money.

We don't need overripe pop stars to get us to donate. How much has Amazon raised already? How much in private donations have been given? How many people have already volunteered to go over and help with the recovery efforts? We did this all without the benefit of some guy with a hit record telling us to.{...}

Posted by Kathy at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)


Due to all my holiday frolicking (Wooh. Midnight Mass is really getting edgy!) I'd forgotten to check up on Mike Kinsley's Social Security columns in the WaPo.

You can read them here and here. My response to his bleg to the blogosphere can be found here.

I've been banging on the same drum since I was sixteen and started watching Crossfire but hell, I'll bang it again: what a tremendous ass Kinsley is! Not only does he just not get it about Social Security, he also manages to diss the exact same group of people he went to for research material:

Just so I don't sound too naive: I am familiar with the blog phenomenon, and I worked at a Web site for eight years. Some of my best friends are bloggers. Still, it's different when you purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propaganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don't get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement -- mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profession -- with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.{...}

Oh, I'm sure he didn't think that bit up there about bloggers not being "professional intellectuals" was a slam. I'm sure he thought he was being complimentary after having rolled those beady eyes of his at the mere thought of having to weed through a full inbox. He meant it as a compliment, I'm certain. A little MSM pat on the head. Good little blogger. Niiii-ce blogger. Remember the Milkbone I slipped you and don't bite me.


I may not be employed by a Beltway think tank or by some Ivy League university, but that does not mean I do not consider myself to be an intellectual. As much as I hate to refer to the dictionary, I find myself needing backup. The Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, American Edition defines intellectual as: "a person possessing a highly developed intellect." I'm sure we can split a few hairs about what "highly developed" means but if we really want to get down to the nitty gritty, well, that pretty much defines anyone who reads on a regular basis, doesn't it? Someone who thinks deep thoughts. Who has curiosity. Who wants to figure out how it works and thinks that, after coming up with something new, they can add something to the discussion and who then might put the fingers to the keyboard and pump something cohesive out. Is this person not an intellectual? We live in a free society which provides for an open exchange of ideas. Anyone with the chops and the know-how can take part. Despite his call for opinions, despite his implied pledge to that open society with a free flow of ideas, ironically (or not)Kinsley, it appears, would have it otherwise. Never mind the inconvenient fact that we the people actually have a stake in this very important discussion. That's the least of it according to the Gospel of Mike.

Yet, while I would like to think that anyone who is curious about the world can consider themselves to be an intellectual, this apparently is not the case. You need to have credentials. You need degrees hanging on the wall. After all, the very word "profession" implies that this is what you do to earn your daily bread. A professional intellectual would be one who paid his bills by thinking deep thoughts, because we all know nothing is worth anything unless you get paid for it. That's the standard we Capitalists have developed, so we'll stick with that. Hmmmm. Let's see. Can we find an example to prove Kinsley---and the rest of the world---wrong? To allow for deep thoughts to be thunk by anyone other than Los Angeles Times opinion page editors and members of the ivory tower? Aha! I've got it! Einstein! Albert Einstein was a patent clerk when he developed his Theory of Relativity. But Einstein didn't make enough to earn his daily bread by working on this Theory of Relativity, so he went to work at that infamous Swiss Patent Office. Does that mean Einstein---the man who explained what Newton could not---wasn't an intellectual?

If you use Kinsley's standards the answer would be "no." Einstein wouldn't have qualified. Accordingly, bloggers can come up with "intellectual engagement" but we're not "professional" intellectuals. In other words, bloggers are only good for a brief battle or two, like a reservist, but we'd best leave the fighting to the serious soldiers, like Kinsley. We might get ourselves killed otherwise.

Screw that.

Kinsley's cushy, protected, little paradigm is shifting. The vast wonder of the Internet is giving voice to millions of previously unheard people. That's got to be a be a little nervewracking if you're used to having to only bat back Robert Novak for the consumption of the average basic cable audience. I would bet anything that while he enjoyed the responses he received and---admittedly---was surprised at them, he still refuses to think that anyone could grasp the argument better than he could. That despite our responses, Kinsley probably thinks the blogosphere consists only of pajama-clad diletantes. Not surprisingly, this close-mindedness to what bloggers---let alone the common man or woman who hasn't set up a blog---are capable of is also why Kinsley refuses to see any argument other than his own regarding Social Security.

The man is, quite simply, a brick wall against which anything that's not of his own creation smashes.

Posted by Kathy at 01:07 AM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2005

Don't Get It

Now, I fully realize Tara Reid was probably stoned/drunk/coked-up when this photo was taken. I am also aware that this might have been a calculated move on her part, but...

...how do you wear a dress like that and not realize your tit is hanging out for all and sundry to see? Particularly when she can somehow manage the feat I always have issues with: hanging on to a stole. Yet, despite her stole-clenching abilities she's---somehow---COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS that her BOOB is hanging out? One would think it would have felt a bit drafty at the very least.

What the hell?

Posted by Kathy at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)


In regard to tsunami relief, Jonathan's noticed one of the nastier yet essential truths of Islam: not all Muslims are created equal.

{...}you'll find some very rich countries who are doing next to nothing.

Take, for instance, Saudi Arabia ($10 million), Kuwait ($2 million), and Iran ($627,000). This, for their Muslim brothers and sisters? These are countries for whom wealth flows from the very earth which killed so many. The Saudi princes do not work or create. They shop and harvest. And yet here they stand again--they and the rest of the Middle East--sitting on their hands and expecting the rest of the world to take care of their Islamic brothers. How much is Islamic solidarity worth for Iran? About 16,000 barrels of oil.

That's fine, so far as it goes. It's their choice. But remember it the next time you hear a bin Laden tape blaming the West for the destruction of civilization. Remember it the next time you hear an Islamist imam castigating the Jews and infidels for defiling their lands. Remember it the next time you hear an al Jazeera story about how infidels are disrespecting Islam. Remember it the next time you hear how Islamic "solidarity" with other oppressed Muslims is what keeps this or that country from fully joining in on the war on terror.{...}

I can't tell you all the times the husband commented on how poorly Pakistani and Filipino guest workers were treated by their Kuwaiti hosts. They weren't spat upon, but they were definitely looked upon with disdain. It's the same with the Egyptians. The Indonesians are near the bottom of this Islamic totem pole, hence it's not surprising to me that Saudi, Kuwait and Iran aren't ponying up.

There is no such thing as a homogenous Islam. Which is one reason why we're not waist-deep in trouble where Bin-Laden is concerned. While Jonathan makes a good point in asking us to remember this lack of charitable cohesion the next time a call for Islamic Solidarity is shouted from the muzzein of Al-Jazeera, I have a feeling that our memories aren't the ones which will be called into play. Our remembrances will be the least of it. The majority of Indonesian Muslims, however, will remember keenly, and with great clarity, how little solidarity there actually is between Islamic Brothers.

After all, they've already got an axe against Wahhabism and have been grinding it for quite some time.

In the January, 2004 issue of Vanity Fair (unavailable online), Christopher Hitchens reported on the potential of Indonesia to become overrun with Islamic fundamentalists of the type who buy Osama's line of bull.

{...}At another meeting, three scholars from the Center for the Study of Islam and Society, headquartered at the Islamic State University in Jakarta, patiently explained their "inclusive" theology. All surveys showed, they told me, that most Indonesian Muslims are quite dutiful and observant. They fast and they pary and they keep the Ramadan rules and try to go on the hajj. "I am often attacked by extremists and hijackers of Islam," said Fu'ad Jabali, a fellow at the center, "because I studied in Montreal and London and had Jewish and Christian colleagues. But I can speak Arabic and quote the Koran---usually better than they can---and so I usually win the argument."

Nobody likes to make too much of it, because Indonesians are almost frighteningly polite and courteous, but a very distinct anti-Arab theme was one that I came to notice more and more. Rather like the Bosnians I met a few years ago, the local Muslims don't care to be lectured and browbeaten by bigots from the Arabian Peninsula, a place where hypocrisy is rampant. "They come to the poor districts here," said Jamhari Makruf, director of the center, "and say that they will build a mosque as long as they are allowed to appoint the imam. And then they try to impose Wahhabi indoctrination." It's an open secret that most of the Bali bombers went to the same religious school, or madrassa (the local name for madrassas is pesantren), a school founded by Abu Bakar Bashir, in point of fact, In pesantren like these, the main education on offer---aside from anti-american and anti-Semitic paranoia---is the mind-dulling, rote memorization of the Koran, in Arabic. And it's also well understood that there are pesantren paid for by Saudi petrodollars. "There is a saying here," I was told by Bambang Harymurti, editor in chief of Tempo. "If you see a snake and an Arab, take care of the Arab first." To this perhaps rather unattractive motto, he added, "The main problem for the United States is finding an exit strategy from Saudi Arabia."{...}

I'm fairly certain that Saudi Arabia has purposefully lowballed their relief donation in favor of contributing a larger sum later, which will be designated for the rebuilding of mosques and schools for their struggling Islamic brothers. The Saudis will come in when the rebuilding starts and will offer up mosques and schools, but, like before, there will be strings attached, all in the furtherance of Wahhabism. You know, Inshallah and all that.

It occurs to me that this, indeed, would be the time for all of those moderate Muslims to pony up some significant financial support. You know who I'm talking about, right? Those Muslims we hear nary a peep from when a westerner is beheaded in Iraq, but who still rant and rave about U.S. support for Israel and who, the minute they fear retaliation for something their extremist breathren did, scream, "Islam is a religion of peace!" You know, those guys and gals. It's time for them to step up to the plate. For the most part, Indonesia has rejected Wahhabism. So far. What better way to make sure it doesn't gain a foothold in the aftermath of the largest natural disaster ever to strike Indonesia than to allow the Indonesians to practice their own brand of Islam, using their own imams and their own teachers? Wouldn't that be the charitable thing to do? To put the money where their (proverbial) moderate mouths are?

Posted by Kathy at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

Gratuitous PR

Drew is an attention seeking whore.


Posted by Kathy at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)

My New Year's Resolution

To keep my wallet and handbag cleaned out and presentable.

And that's it.

The Cake Eater Chronicles: We're All About Keeping That Bar Set Low!

Posted by Kathy at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)



Posted by Kathy at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

January 02, 2005

Cautious Optimism

The Sudanese Government and the SPLA finally did the deal: after almost a year's worth of haggling, they finally signed a Cease Fire.

NAIROBI, Kenya - A peace accord ending Africa's longest-running civil war requires Sudan's government to withdraw at least 91,000 troops from the rebel-controlled south, a rebel official said Sunday, revealing new details of the deal signed last week.

The forces must pull out within 2 1/2 years, while a proposed government for the autonomous southern Sudan will field a separate army using its share of oil and tax revenues as well as international aid, rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje said.

{...} The rebels, meanwhile, have eight months to withdraw their forces from northern Sudan. They must pull out 30 percent of their fighters within four months of a signing ceremony scheduled for Jan. 9 in Kenya, said Ad'Dirdeiry Hamed, deputy Sudanese ambassador to Kenya.

The rebel pullout will cover the Nuba Mountains, land along the southern Blue Nile and Abyei, areas now held by the insurgents but which the government considers to be a traditional part of northern Sudan, Hamed said.

{...}Also, government and rebel forces each will contribute 20,000 troops to new, integrated army units. Rebels and the government also agreed to demobilize an unspecified number of troops, Kwaje said.

{...}Under the accord, Sudan will rewrite the constitution to ensure that Islamic law, or Sharia, is not applied to non-Muslims anywhere in the country, Kwaje said{...}


The hairs on the back of my neck are calm but are still ready to twitch. Why? you ask? Well, it's worth noting that integrated Sudanese army units might prove a bad idea, as that's how the civil war got started when the Brits evacuated in 1956.

Yet, I remain cautiously optimistic that this will put an end to the war.

If for no other reason than this cease fire has finally cemented my timeline on the manuscript.

Posted by Kathy at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

Random Question For the Day

Yeah, but will a McOctopus make me as gassy as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese does?

Which leads us to a new tag line for the blog:

The Cake Eater Chronicles: For Us, There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Information.

Posted by Kathy at 10:24 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2005

Thank You!

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Posted by MRN aka "The Husband" at 07:05 PM