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November 29, 2003

How much is a one-way ticket to Russia?

This is from a Lexington Herald-Leader article on Christmas shopping the day after T'giving:

The American tradition of gorging and spending also perplexed Maria Martinkous, a 23-year-old Eastern Kentucky University student from Russia.

"Frankly, I didn't know what it was about," she said of Thanksgiving, noting the high death tolls suffered by Native Americans years ago and turkeys today.

Those Rooskies! Gotta love 'em! Wonder how much a one-way ticket back home for her would cost? Maybe we can get a big Christmas deal on that.


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November 27, 2003

Fall back position

Since my stove is incapacitated, I had to figure out another dessert plan. So I did find pies at the store, which I escaped from 15 minutes before it closed for the day. To replace the turtle cheesecake, I bought a plain baked cheesecake and doctored it up. Here's the result, sitting on the now-infamous Maytag Dutch Oven inoperable stove:

Turtle cheesecake small.jpg

I also have a pumpkin pie, with Cool Whip to top it, and a dutch apple pie, with vanilla ice cream. I think I've got it covered.

But mine would have been better.

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Bush gives thanks to troops in Iraq in person

President Bush flew into Iraq today to share Thanksgiving dinner with troops at the Baghdad Airport, and give them the thanks of the American people in person.

I very very very much appreciate that.

Bush took very real risks to make the trip, because even though the terrorists and B'aathists didn't know he was coming, they've been shooting at whatever they can in the sky. And it was a risk the security forces couldn't completely erase. I'm just so happy he did that. Our troops deserved that kind of attention.

Yay, Bush!

Hillary showed up for Thanksgiving dinner with the troops in Afghanistan. How long before the headline isn't, "Bush encourages troops in Iraq", but "Bush upstages Hillary"?

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Happy Turkey Day!

Last night I happily shopped with the last of the late grocery customers, arriving home with sacks and sacks of good things to make. I'm having dinner with a family from church, and I was assigned dessert. That's a happy thing, since I love to cook, especially desserts. On the agenda: pumpkin pie, apple pie, turtle cheesecake (chocolate/caramel/pecan). And yes, all from scratch, even the crust.

When I walked in the door, having been gone since 9 a.m., I caught a faint whiff of gas. I hauled my bags into the kitchen, and the odor was much stronger. After opening the windows, I put away groceries while the gas dissipated. Then I started sniffing around it to see if I could find a leak. The odor was faint, and I felt it would be a bit dramatic to call the gas company about it. But then I decided it would be even more dramatic, and not in a good way, to blow up while baking Thanksgiving desserts. So I called them, the guy showed up about 12:30 a.m., and sure enough he found minor leaks in all four burners.

Happy happy, joy joy.

He said it wasn't a huge thing, and he would leave the gas on for me if I wanted, but he would be happier if I'd let him turn the gas off at the valve and wait for my landlord to get the stove fixed. And who am I to make a gas guy unhappy on Thanksgiving? So that's why I'm about to go see if I can find a good store open, and find something good for dessert amongst the slim pickings left after yesterday's grocery ravaging.

I'm thinking frozen cheesecake, thawed with caramel and chocolate sauce drizzled over it, sprinkled with pecans. The closest I can get to a turtle cheesecake without an oven!

As for the stove... well... it's an antique, just about. A Maytag Dutch Oven that's much older than me, which my landlord claims nearly everyone tries to buy from him. When Meryl Yourish came over for dinner, she urged me to photograph it and send the photos to James Lileks. (She also urged me to give it a good cleaning first, but that's another story.) It's all very well and good to have a cool retro Maytag stove when it works fine, but when it needs repairs and they don't make parts anymore... that's a different kettle of fish altogether. Since I'm moving in three weeks (now, that sounds very very scary), my landlord may not feel a particular imperative to fix it before I go either. Sigh. We shall see. I may be able to pack up my cookbooks and kitchen pots earlier than I thought.

But! I'm still very thankful, on this day, for so many things, you not least among them. I hope you have a great day, with ovens that work and family close by. Happy Thanksgiving!

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November 26, 2003


My new LOTR The Two Towers DVD plays beautifully on my new Dell notebook.

I didn't know it would do that.

I fell asleep watching it last night.

Thanks, John.

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November 25, 2003

EU and anti-Semitic Muslims

Mark Steyn eviscerates the liberal loonies again, this time over prostrating themselves before activists crying oppression of Islam while hiding actual oppression of Jews by Muslims.

Meanwhile, while Islamic lobby groups and the most distinguished semiotics professors in America are analysing Johnny Hart's outhouse joke, the European Union's Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia has decided to shelve its report on the rise of anti-Semitism on the Continent. The problem, as reported in The Telegraph, is that the survey had found that "many anti-Semitic incidents were carried out by Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups", and so a "political decision" was taken not to publish it because of "fears that it would increase hostility towards Muslims".

Let's go back over that slowly and try not to get a headache: the EU's main concern about an actual epidemic of hate crimes against Jews is that it could provoke a hypothetical epidemic of hate crimes against Muslims.

Charming, yes?

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Responsibility, rehabilitation and retribution

Bobby was a musician and a lover from a young age, teaching himself to play guitar and having an affair with a cousin's wife before he left his teens. He played with several bands in the 1960s, even singing backup on Frank Zappa's first album. He got pretty far off the path, hanging with a rough crowd, doing some drugs, even starring in a soft pron movie. But by 1975 he was living an almost ascetic life, surrounding himself with his music. He wrote songs, developed connections in the music business, and eventually set up an audio and video production studio. He married a woman with three children in 1982, and they were still married 16 years later. After moving to Oregon in 1993, he became a facilitator for an juvenile intervention program and developed a 9-part video series shown to at-risk youth in public schools.

A success story - a man with a rough youth who made some bad decisions, turns his life around, creates a stable career, sustains a long-term marriage, and gives back to the community. Someone you would want to live next door, a role model for your children.

Or maybe not.

Because, you see, Bobby is Bobby Beausoleil, an associate of the Manson family who was convicted of a killing in their company:

Bobby was living in the basement of Gary Hinman's Topanga Canyon home when he first ran into Manson and the Family at a house called the "Spiral Staircase". Bobby's musical talent impressed Charlie and the girls, and Bobby started hanging around with them. In the summer of 1969, Beausoleil sold $1000 worth of LSD to a group of bikers that were hanging around Spahn's Ranch. Gary Hinman had made the LSD, but according to the bikers it wasn't good and they wanted their money back. So Beausoleil, with Family members Mary Brunner and Susan Atkins, went to Hinman to get a refund. Hinman on the other hand felt that the LSD was good and refused to give up any money. After a phone call to Spahn's Ranch, Charles Manson and Bruce Davis came to the house. Immediately after entering, Manson sliced off Hinman's left ear with a sword. Charlie and Bruce left immediately. After two more days, Hinman was still refusing to give Beausoleil any money. Bobby stabbed Gary twice in the chest as Susan Atkins and Mary Brunner smothered Hinman's face with a pillow.

Beausoleil was arrested for the murder of Gary Hinman on Thursday, August 7, 1969. He had two trials, and was eventually convicted and sentenced to death. His death sentence was commuted to Life when California briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.

It sounds as if Beausoleil - from the admittedly limited and likely partisan information in these two pieces - truly turned his life around, and is an example of the type of rehabilitation we hope for. At the same time, there are two issues to think about: First, he killed a man, coldly and selfishly with lots of time to find some other way to resolve the problem. It was not a crime of passion or temporary insanity. So is exacting retribution for that more important than releasing a potentially very productive citizen back into society? Second, we know that he's capable of good citizenship while in prison, but would he be once released? Would the safety of the citizenry be compromised by his release?

It's not, in my judgment, an easy choice. I lean toward a retributive system, but there are issues of utility and mercy that compromise its value. On the other hand, a fully rehabilitative system essentially treats all crimes as victimless, which is not true or just. Our current system is a very erratic mix of both that often succeeds in being unjust as well as unsuccessful in rehabilitation and uncertain in retribution. But can we do any better?

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November 24, 2003

Internet oddities: The Mojave phone booth

I was digging around in Lileks'* archives today, and came across this neat little bit (scroll down to 2/09) about a phone booth off in the middle of the Mojave Desert, with nothing around it. He said he called it ever so often, just to hear it ring. The piece was written in 2000, so naturally I had to go see if the booth or the website was still there.

The website is, but The Booth, alas, is not. They removed it in 2000, later that same year. But it's still a very interesting story.

And no, I'm not posting about anything substantive, although I might later. But right now I'm trying to conserve my brain power for my exam.

* "Lileks" is now a one-name person, like Cher or Madonna or Clinton. Heh.

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Dell Hell II: The Idiocy Continues

This morning the Universal Auto/Air Power Adaptor for my Dell notebook (as yet undelivered) was itself delivered to my place of work.

Just a few minutes ago, I received this email which references by number the separate order for the Adaptor:

We have reviewed your order. Although we had anticipated being able to ship your order sooner, we are experiencing an unexpected delay and will not be able to ship this order and any associated orders until on or before 12/3/2003.

If you do not wish to wait, you may cancel your order and receive a prompt refund. Please be aware that unless you tell us that you want us to continue with the order despite the delay, your order will be automatically canceled on 11/26/03.

As far as the associated orders go, the notebook itself arrived in the Secaucus, NJ, UPS hub on Friday night (and should get to me this afternoon). That happened the same day I got an email from Dell telling me that the whole thing would not ship until earliest 11/26.

I have one acronym for them:


We'll see if I get my notebook today. And then we'll see if the order, having already arrived, is canceled on Wednesday.

I guess that means I'd get my money back, right? It would seem fitting that their utter incompetence would circle back and bite them.

UPDATE: The notebook arrived! Yay! It came in a huge box, with all its bells and whistles, so that was fun to wrestle through the tiny foyer, through the two mis-matched doors, and haul up three flights of stairs. But it's here! So if they cancel the order, does that mean I have to give it back?

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Hug a soldier

This weekend I flew to Birmingham to check out where I'll be living starting in January. It was quite lovely, and now I'm even more excited about the move. On the flight back was a young woman dressed in desert camouflage, with a "US Army" patch on her chest. I paused after we left the plane in Newark, digging through my backpack for my cell phone, and she came walking past the nearly deserted section of seating where I was. I had thought about speaking to her, and it seemed perfect timing.

So I did. I said, "Excuse me." She stopped, with a questionning look, and I said, "Have you been in Iraq?" She said, yes, she was just on her way home from there. So, thinking of all of you out there, I said, "I just wanted to tell you how proud we are of what you all are doing, and how much we appreciate it. We really do." And because I'm just that kind of emotional type, I hugged her and she hugged me back, and I said, "Please, be safe!" She smiled, and I'm sure her eyes were tearing. She went on, to wherever her Thanksgiving will be, and I'm just glad I had the chance to tell her that some of the thanks I'll be giving will be for her, and her comrades, for the success of their task and their safety so they can all come home.

In the same vein, one of my readers - John McCrarey, who frequently shows up in comments - sent me an essay his daughter Hillary wrote as part of her entrance application to George Mason University. She served in Afghanistan, and is now back and ready to go to college. I think the young soldier I thanked tonight was also a Hillary; she was very confident and mature, in ways I didn't see in the women's college soccer team* that was on the first leg of my trip home tonight, women likely her age. In his email to me, John wrote a little introductory to Hilary's essay, and I'm including that as well - because I think it speaks for many parents whose hopes and dreams are wearing desert camouflage on the other side of the world this Thanksgiving week:

Hillary is home from Afghanistan safe and sound (in body and spirit). She was recently accepted into the nursing program at George Mason University. She is also going to be doing the ROTC program (which pleases her mother very much because it may keep her from being deployed to Iraq next year). I kept a copy of Hillary's admission essay because it really told a story about her experience from a perspective that we don't read about much in the Wash. Post. If you will indulge a proud father, here it is:
Three years ago I made a decision that changed and shaped me into the person I have become: a well adjusted 22 year-old mature beyond her years. I decided to join the United States Army Reserves as a Civil Affairs Specialist.

I had attended one year at Northern Virginia Community College and was enjoying the experience, however I quickly realized just how costly college would become. I knew that my future success was dependent on a quality education, but I was not sure how I was going to afford it without some assistance. This led me to begin exploring my options. As fate would have it, I was working next door to an Armed Services Recruiting Center. After talking with the recruiter I was impressed not only with the educational benefits offered, but also that the Army would train me to perform a mission that sounded very exciting and satisfying--helping people rebuild their lives and government. So, I made the decision to join the Reserves. Little did I know what awaited me.

Initially, I saw my military career as a tool to help build character and discipline, a way to develop skills and talents in myself that I had yet to discover, and most importantly to help me pay for school. It was not until the tragedy of 9/11 that I knew my decision to join was the best thing I could have ever done. Like many people, from that day forward I looked at everything from a new perspective. It was the beginning of a self-transformation for me in many ways.

Last year I was deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom. My unit was divided into teams and placed into remote areas all over Afghanistan. Our job and primary mission was to help rebuild the local infrastructure that had been destroyed by the former Taliban government. My team helped build 12 new schools, four water wells and repaired numerous city buildings and shelters. I was especially proud to be involved in turning a former Taliban headquarters building into the first school for girls in Mazur-e-Sharif. The warmth and appreciation of the Afghani people, especially the children, made it truly one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I learned more about the world, people, and about myself in the year I was there than I had in all of my prior 21 years combined. It was an amazing and humbling adventure.

That deployment was good for me in many ways. It helped me to clearly find my path in life and made me realize that I am happiest when helping others. Throughout all of the personal hardship and danger I experienced in Afghanistan, I never lost sight of the importance of my role as part of a team, and how each of us depended on our team mates to ensure our safety and the success of our mission. Military service has helped me improve my self-confidence and has instilled a sense of pride and accomplishment in me. That is why I know nursing is the right career choice for me--I have learned there is nothing more satisfying than helping others.

Now I am back home with a clear vision and direction, and I am ready to get on with the business of life. I hope to start school in the spring. My short-term goals are to finish school and get commissioned through the ROTC program. When I am called to serve again, I hope to go as an officer leading my own team.

I am very optimistic about the future and all the possibilities it holds. Hopefully, George Mason University will allow me to join their team and together we can turn my dreams into reality.

And that's who we have fighting for us in Afghanistan and Iraq. Put them high on your list of blessings this Thanksgiving, and every day.

Also, while you're shopping around for Christmas, why not add a soldier or two to your list? Or a few Iraqi children? I sent a Christmas CD to a soldier in Iraq, having gotten her address through this website; I sent a few novels (ones I really enjoyed, and no, not romances) to soldiers I learned about from this post on Dodd's site. I've heard from both of them, very nice thank you letters letting me know how much that attention from home meant, even from a stranger. And really, those were very small things I did, nothing worthy of note beyond serving as an encouragement to you: A little goes a long way, in this situation. In many ways, the knowledge that people here care that much about our soldiers over there is the biggest part of the gift.

How about it?

* Not to take away from the soccer team - as it turns out, it was the new national champions, the University of Colorado at Boulder's women's club soccer team. Congratulations, ladies.

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November 21, 2003


Lileks expresses today what I think many Americans feel whenever they hear Iraqis complaining about the struggles to establish orderly government there, although he's specifically responding to Salam Pax.

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My niece the hobbit

My niece Haydon is a slender little blonde slip of a girl, busy and vocal and opinionated and already expressing a strong preference for an orderly world without a lot of surprises. She loves books, she loves fairies, she loves singing.

She also loves second breakfasts.

She was even more of a slip of a thing when she was a toddler, and the doctor encouraged her parents to feed her whole milk, real butter, fried eggs, whatever good calories they could get inside her. And she developed a deep love of breakfast, which continues to be her favorite meal. A typical morning is getting up, eating something, playing a bit and then eating again when her sister gets up - the second breakfast.

She loves her second breakfasts.

I told you she was a hobbit.

UPDATE: When I told my brother about this post, he gave me today's report:

Over the course of the last four hours, she has eaten a yogurt cup, a cereal bar, eight mini pancakes with dipping syrup, a fried egg, blueberries and a banana half with peanut butter. And milk

She's eating again

She'll be four in February.

Go, Haydon, go!

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Closed minds about open theism?

Alan at Theosebes has a very interesting post about Open Theism under fire from Calvinism.

And he opens fire on both.

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Well, look who's famous now!

Scott Ott at Scrappleface has hit the big time! He's featured at The Weekly Standard in this very cool "ripped from the headlines" parody.

Scrappleface - what you Ott to be reading every day.

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My favorite lawyer-blogger is having a blogiversary!

Dodd Harris, who rescued me from the pit of Blogspot and has oh so generously hosted my blog for 18 months now, is celebrating his third blogiversary with a list of his favorite posts for the past year. I highly recommend each and every one of them.

I was quite excited last year when Dodd asked me if I wanted to migrate my blog to his server, where he hosts several excellent blogs. In part it was because I wanted to go to Moveable Type, and have a more stable platform/server. But I have to say that even more than that, I was flattered and pleased that Dodd Harris liked my blog enough to want to be associated with it. I had already come to think of him as one of the smartest and sharpest bloggers around, and just a good guy (being a Kentuckian didn't hurt, either). So being a Blogfodder blog for me is not just a convenience, but also a compliment.

If you don't already make Ipse Dixit one of your daily stops, then you've missed out on some great stuff. Dodd's so good, I almost can forgive him for being a lawyer. But not quite yet for being Randian.

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November 20, 2003

Who let this woman in my kitchen?

This is just too funny for words:

T O M A K E A T H O M E .

A sampling:

8. La Copine Onctueuse

Purchase block of tofu to make dinner for self-righteous vegan friend. Decide you're just not up to the lecture and cancel, feigning illness. And you really must be sick, to lie to your friends like that. Feel too guilty to throw tofu out. Cheese is ripe when furry orange hide resembles that of cosmetic-lab test rabbit. Serve with veal pâté.


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Congratulations and ruminations

Congratulations to David Hogberg, PhD, on passing his dissertation defense! Excellent!

Gives me hope.

Something I could use right now!

In my program, we have a qualifying exam, then a core area exam that is basically on an area of concentration, then we do a dissertation prospectus, defend it, do the dissertation research and writing, then defend the dissertation. My core area exam is scheduled for Dec. 2. I'm in the yikes! stage. I'm sure I'll do okay - the topic is media and policing, which I've spent quite a bit of time on - but it just makes you nervous. And I never study well for long periods. I dawdle. And I'm much better at studying when I'm working toward a goal - answering a specific question or something. This business of "read these 80 articles and books, and then we'll test you on them", is just ... well, not my best mode.


December 2.

You probably won't see a lot of me until after that. Some. Not a lot.

Wish me luck.

Chocolates would not go amiss.


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Why be a Zionist?

Meryl has a great post in response to a thoughtful email from an Egyptian ending with:

So what I want to understand, from a seemingly intelligent and well read person, is why you support Zionism, because I have met Jews who don't.

Meryl's response is a good summary of the history and emotion behind her choice and that of thousands of other Jews, both in Israel and elsewhere.

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November 19, 2003

This I needed to know about!

Amazon is now selling gourmet food.


So now I can buy bonbons and a romance novel, then get an exercise machine to take off the excess calories?

Velly intellesting.

Think of the fine care packages you could send to a hard-studying, dedicated blogger/student.

My holiday recommendations? Chocolate dipped glace' fruits. Chocolate (this Ghiradelli's mix would do fine). Marzipan. Cranberry fool. And a memory from my childhood: A gumdrop tree. (But NOT with spice gum drops! Ew! Gross!)

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Yes, I know that Glenn linked it yesterday - how do you think I found it? But this collection of letters from Brits published in The Guardian ostensibly to President Bush on the event of his state visit to see the Queen...? It's just the lamest ever, except for the few bright spots from the likes of Frederick Forsyth (to do list: buy all his work and read).

Seriously. I read through all of them, and nearly lost my lunch. I can and do admire people for honest disagreement, even passionate honest disagreement. But these folks are posturing wads of mush-for-brains who wouldn't know a clue if it was delivered by a butler on a silver salver, with their names clearly emblazoned in gold. It's clear that they're wanting to be cool, not caring to evince any sign of knowledge about reality or put forward any convincing argumentation about Bush's philosophy. The only negative one I felt came from anything resembling a heartfelt emotion was from the guy falsely accused (he says) of training some of the terrorists. And I felt sorry for him, immediately wanting to know more. The rest of them? Pfft.

Now that I think about it, to call them mush-for-brains is to insult a perfectly good food.

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Memo to self: Leak this

Those wacky Dems! Now they're strategizing with the leftist loonies about blocking Bush judge nominees - and someone's busy leaking their memos. Who's more reprehensible: The ones plotting to block solid nominees, or the one who reveals the plot? Why, the whistleblower, of course! At least, to hear the Dems talk.

Here's what Bryan at Junk Yard Blog has to say about it - and here's the Nat'l Review's take.

Posted by susanna at 01:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WTC memorial finalists

The eight finalists for the WTC memorial have been selected. The versions you can view with a slide show from this article are a bit different in perspective from the views available here. I suggest you look at both.

Right now, my choice would be "Reflecting Absence" by Michael Arad of NYC, but I like the greenspace concept as presented in "Lower Waters", by Bradley Campbell and Matthias Neumann of Brooklyn, NY. You need to see the slide-show version of the NY Times article to see what I mean. Both of those use the footprints of the WTC, but I think the "Reflecting Absence" is more powerful by retaining the holes where they stood.

None of the other designs really did anything for me. They were either very derivative - posts for each person, reminescent of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, or a wall with names like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall - or just... well, odd, like the "Passages of Light: Memorial Cloud" by a whole slew of NYC architects. I think having the footprints of the buildings is important, and I think having it very simple and conceptually accessible to everyone is crucial - "votives of light" or some symbolic cloud (??!) don't get it. I don't think having huge portraits of all who died is appropriate either - I think having the names is necessary, but part of the point of the memorial is that we all lost something, that the attack took more than just those lives, precious as they were. The areas with the footprints also include large public areas of just park space, and as one description said:

Designed to be a mediating space, the plaza belongs both to the city and to the memorial. It encourages uses that are both contemplative and everyday. It is a living part of the city.

And that is, I think, another important part of the memorial - it needs to be integrated into the flow of the city, not static like a cemetery. Somehow, that adds another dimension to the memorial: The understanding that life will go on, lived around and over and through the horror of that day, but that its presence will always be there, a void that won't be filled. The memorial won't be a forgotten back street that finally no one goes to anymore, but instead an integral part of living in Manhattan. That integration into the surroundings is something that both the Oklahoma City memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall accomplish extremely well - you can touch them, and almost become a part of them for a while. Both are also quite conceptually accessible; there's no time spent wondering what they mean, even though both are rich with symbolism.

As a side note, it's very poor taste that the NY Times is advertising sex aids on the slideshow for the WTC memorials. Advertise if you must, but show some respect and couth.

UPDATE, 6:54 p.m.: Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought the ad on the WTC slideshow was inappropriate. It's gone.

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

November 17, 2003

Can you say "i-ron-y"?

Some things speak for themselves:

Disney studio bosses are reportedly concerned about a new movie which shows Father Christmas drinking, stealing and chasing girls.

Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton, has been made by Disney subsidiary Miramax which also made Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill...

The Drudge Report says the film has caused "complete outrage" amongst senior Disney executives,

"Nothing appears sacred, anymore, this is just not in the spirit of Walt Disney," a source close to Chief Executive Michael Eisner is quoted as saying.

Oh, just a little bit more - from Michele's review of "Kill Bill" (note: She really really really liked it, so she's not criticizing here):

It's the bloodiest thing you will see this side of horror movies. The blood is not just a display of cuts and death; it's an actor with a part. It's over-the-top and spurts like a water fountain at every turn and you find yourself stunned by the beauty and magic of all that gore. There's flying limbs and exposed brains and and a dangerously beautiful teenager who would cut off your arms just to watch you bleed to death.

Now, I enjoy my horror movies more than a lot of people. Silver Bullet is one of my all-time favorite movies, period. I'm just amused that Miramax could put out a "Kill Bill" and then get its knickers all in a wad about this Santa thing. I agree that "nothing's sacred anymore", and I also agree that that's a bad thing, but it seems to me Miramax is waxing hypocritical here.

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Missing you, Bill!

No, no, not me.


You know, where Clinton's advent was going to spur a second Renaissance.

When Mr. Clinton moved into 55 West 125th Street in July 2001, it was hailed in certain parts of Harlem as the first installment of the Second Coming. A crowd of 2,000 — chanting "We love Bill!" — gathered on the streets to greet Mr. Clinton, who appeared before the masses to a violin rendition of "We Shall Overcome."

The former president and Harlem seemed the perfect match. Both were in the early stages of a renaissance. Both loved soul food. Both had ties to the South. Speaking to his adoring audience that day more than two years ago, Mr. Clinton made a promise. "I want to make sure I'm a good neighbor in Harlem," he said.

In the past two years, however, Mr. Clinton, like many neighbors in New York, has been a passing, rather than a palpable, presence in the neighborhood. This year alone, he has traveled to Los Angeles to campaign for Gov. Gray Davis, to Kosovo to visit American soldiers serving with the United Nations peace-keeping force and to China to press its government to confront a growing AIDS crisis.

His absence has been noticed on 125th Street, where people say they have occasionally seen him, under Secret Service guard, ducking through the back door of his office — if, that is, they have seen him at all.

"Actually, I've only seen him once," said Thomas Hunn, 77, a retired waiter, who was leaning against a parking meter across the street from Mr. Clinton's office on a recent afternoon.

Well, Mr. Hunn, that'd be one time too many for me. But I realize not everybody there thinks like I do.

The article says that Mr. Clinton's staff is doing a lot, though. I particularly enjoyed this:

If Mr. Clinton himself is not directly and consistently involved in local projects, his office clearly is. Under the direction of Clyde Williams, Mr. Clinton's director of domestic policy, it has thrown its support behind a plan to teach Harlem high school students the basics of checking accounts and the importance of credit and investments.

I would have thought Hillary was the one to teach them about investments. Silly me.

I echo the wishes of the Harlem residents to see Clinton focus his energies in their community - but I'd say my reasoning is a bit different.

Ms. Pacheco, who is in Ms. Ford's class, lives in a domestic violence shelter. Her boyfriend beat her so ferociously a couple of months ago that she was forced into the hospital. She said she lived in fear.

"There's real things going on right here in this neighborhood," she said. "Yeah, China's got problems, and Iraq's got problems. But we got problems, too."

That's right, Mr. Clinton, go help Harlem! And leave China and Iraq to the people who know what they're doing. You had your shot, and baby, you blew it.

Or maybe that's a poor choice of words.

Posted by susanna at 10:34 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

No matter how you slice it, it's still spam

Had someone spam your blog comments lately?

Me too.

And it's spreading to cell phones and other "always on" technology, which is worrying some people:

Spammers are flocking to new communications tools like moths to light, threatening to cripple these tools just as they are beginning to take off.

Howard Rheingold, a futurist who predicts always-on communication will revolutionize public discourse, is worried that all these new forms of spam could freeze the revolution in its tracks.

There will be no great social transformation if cell phones are turned off, instant messenger programs shut down or blog comments disabled to halt the flow of offers for online porn or cheap drugs.

"It forces you to either turn off the comments and lose some of the value of the medium, or spend your time deleting spam," said Rheingold, who runs his own blog.

It's a very good article about the online spam phenomenon, including this little nugget that explains why a lot of the spam comments appear on older posts:

Most of today's comment spam doesn't urge someone to click on the link. Rather, it's posted to boost a site's position on search engines. Web crawling software robots released by search engines notice keywords and links, and that information is used to determine relevancy.

A good argument for deleting it as quickly as you see it. That's not a problem on my site, as I usually don't get more than one spam comment a day. I'd say at higher traffic sites, it could be a major issue. And it's not just blogs; cell phones and even IM conversations are hit with spam (the latter is apparently now called "spim"). The cell phone spam can cost you:

Cell phone text message spam can be even more disruptive -- and expensive.

Some Nextel Communications cell phone subscribers recently got a 3:30 a.m. message urging support of the workers in the southern California grocery strike. Another spammer urged a vote in favor of recalling California Gov. Gray Davis.

Aside from early morning annoyance, some plans charge for each message sent or received. Nextel, which last month installed a filtering system, offers refunds to any customers who complain.

All that said, it was quite interesting to me to see this article on the E&P list as well:

'Californian' Targets Youth With Text Messaging
Paper Plans Cell Phone Advertising Next

...Early next year, the Californian plans to offer text-messaging as an upsell to advertisers. For an extra fee, retailers can run a code in their ad that consumers can punch into their phones to get text alerts to, say, specials at a store in a chosen location.

Also starting next year, the Californian plans to join a number of U.S. papers, usually metros, that push local news headlines and data to people's cell phones or other mobile devices.

And that's not spam because...?

Nice that they identify a trend as bad, and then immediately make plans to capitalize on it. Ah, the media. Always with your best interests at heart.

Posted by susanna at 10:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Freedom of Free from religion

Today's "freedom of religion" is becoming an ever more circumscribed thing. You can express your views, of course, but only if they don't hurt someone's feelings or go against what they see as their "rights". How long before this kind of thing makes it to the US?

An English cleric was investigated by police for suggesting that homosexuals should "reorient" themselves and convert to heterosexuals, reports London’s Daily Telegraph.

Where did he make this comment? Maybe... while standing outside a gay bar and yelling ugly things at the patrons? Perhaps attempting to kidnap a lesbian and forcibly put her into a re-education program? No. No.

Try "in a newspaper interview", where he "suggested...that gays should seek psychiatric help". And it doesn't even matter that he is "a very gentle man and his views are sincere", because, according to Martin Reynolds, the communication director of the LGCM [The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement], "many people in history who are gentle and sincere have said things that are evil".

Like, maybe Reynolds himself?

It's another example of activists running rampant and roughshod over the very liberties they vociferously claim for themselves. Now even saying that the Bible condemns homosexuality - which it inescapably does - can be labeled "hate speech", and even the suggestion that behavior can be changed can be labeled "homophobia" and be investigated by the local police as "irresponsible remarks that could inflame latent homophobia".

The police didn't press charges, so there's still some reason in the world. But if you want to know why religious people think they're under attack today for their beliefs, that's a pretty good example to show it's not just a feeling - it's reality.

[Link via Theosebes, where there is another link and commentary]

Posted by susanna at 09:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2003

Manly, yes

There's been a lot of commentary lately about men needing to be real men, not these namby pamby bumbling hen-pecked jokes that show up on the sitcoms (so they say, I don't watch them). I do agree that men get slammed unfairly - white men are racist, stupid and inept, black men are man-hos who say "brotha" every breath and shoot funny, any man is by definition less than a woman - but then I've been saying for a long time that men are unfairly taking it on the chin. And I have to say, I don't think the ability to drink yourself stupid, use raunchy language and scratch yourself in public is any measure of true manhood either. I would be hard put to precisely define "manliness", though, because just when I decide on the characteristics I meet someone who is quite manly but doesn't have all my earlier-defined criteria. All I do know is that I admire manly men, and wouldn't date a guy who wasn't one.

And my ideas of what is manly began, of course, with my experience with my father, who is an honest, fun-loving, hard-working guy who loves to hunt and fish and do work outdoors, and thinks Dante's hell has a level called "shopping".

That's why this story is so funny. To me, anyway.

My dad has also been one who pitches in when work needs doing, and if that involves a mop or a sifter or dishwater or even (perish the thought) a toilet brush, he can handle it. Not that it is normally in his part of the family division of labor, but sometimes exigent circumstances require it and he's not too good to do it. He's actually quite good at it, if he has to be. So it wasn't unusual recently when he helped my mom make peanut butter cookies for an open house my sister was having, to help kick off my niece Amanda's new Mary Kay career (fill free to purchase all your Christmas needs at her website). He was scheduled to go hunting with my uncle and brother-in-law and my niece's boyfriend, but had to finish his task first.

So my uncle called my great-uncle in California to deliver this message:

Norman can't go hunting until he finishes baking cookies for a Mary Kay party!

Ouch! Put that way, it does look pretty bad, doesn't it? But I have to confess, I laughed and laughed when I heard it.

I'm still chuckling.

Dad said I'm maligning his manhood.

I said, yeah, and internationally too.


Posted by susanna at 10:12 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

Amen, brother!

This man has clear vision:

This week, former President Jimmy Carter claimed that in the wake of Sept. 11, an assault on civil liberties at home had given the green light to a rash of human rights abuses abroad...

For all Carter's talk about human rights, how many people were liberated from oppression during his presidency? How many gulags were closed? Exactly zero.

And there's more!

Not that I find Jimmy Carter to be bad person.

Ok, maybe I do.

[Link via Acidman, and the headline is for him too (and it's not indicating agreement, in this case). :D]

Posted by susanna at 04:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Stepping up to the plate

Does one side have a license to speak that the other side doesn't?

Interesting question. I'll be curious to see how it all works out.

My tags say "Conquer Cancer". I think we can all gather around that sentiment. Although it's thoroughly lame that they also say, "We Care!". Like anyone wouldn't.

Well, unless you're Jack Kevorkian. Or Peter Singer.

Posted by susanna at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What's up with this?

Juan Gato Marc at Genius I Was has hung up his blogspurs.

Why does this keep happening?

I'm just depressed by it.

Posted by susanna at 11:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Green dilemma

Dilemma as rare birds devour rare fish


It involves the EU too.

[Thanks to David Watts for the link]

Posted by susanna at 07:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 13, 2003

Fried spam(er)

Blogger/poet/academic Joseph Duemer is an anti-spam hero - he actually sent an invoice to a comment-box spammer. Go, Joe! The spammer actually replied, and then reported the blogger to the FBI! How awesome is that? You need to read it all.

He also appears to be like me in some respects. I have a tendency to flow with things, but sometimes something snags me when I'm already irritable, or just pushes me beyond my usual avoidance response, and I slam down hard. Usually it's over something small, and frequently I feel rather petty afterward. But sometimes I feel vindicated, and rather Rocky-ish. This spam-chase sounds like it was one of the fun ones.

[Link via No Watermelons]

Posted by susanna at 07:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I like the "hawk" part

The chickenhawk meme is flying again. John Cole shoots it down, and finds himself not the only one with a rhetorical cannon.

Not that they got their feathers ruffled.

Posted by susanna at 02:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

So true

Bigwig graphically explains why the attitude of Howard Dean toward the war in Iraq is at very best deeply hypocritical and immoral. I especially like Bigwig's rewriting of the Declaration of Independence. I give you - the Howard Dean version of the Declaration:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Americans are created equal, that they alone are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, and the rest of you are shit out of luck"

Go read (and see) it all.

Posted by susanna at 01:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Living too hard, too fast

The more things change, the more they stay the same. How many times has some version of this story happened?

BEATTYVILLE - Michele Moore, the mother of two and a former homecoming queen whose blond hair and pretty smile were once the talk of the town, was found dead in her mobile home, stabbed repeatedly and left on a shabby sofa bed.

Moore, 33, was one of 49 people arrested during December 2001 in a Lee County drug roundup dubbed "Operation Grinch."

At the time, she was a sickly looking woman with sores on her arms from injecting methamphetamine.

But riding down Main Street in 1984 as Lee County High School's homecoming queen, she looked to have an ample future. Moore had good grades. She was popular at school, and her parents were well-respected members of the community...

Devasher said an autopsy was performed yesterday at the state medical examiner's office, but he would not elaborate on the circumstances or possible motives surrounding Moore's death.

Or this one?

Nashville, Tennessee-AP -- Nashville, Tennessee, police have arrested country singer Wynonna (wy-NOH'-nuh) Judd on a charge of driving under the influence.

An officer clocked her Land Rover going 47 miles an hour in a 30-mile-an-hour zone early this morning.

The arrest report says the singer consented to a breath test after police smelled alcohol and noticed her watery eyes and dilated pupils. Police say she registered more than twice the legal limit of point oh-eight.

Kind of speak for themselves.

[Links from Alan via IM]

Posted by susanna at 11:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 12, 2003


Flannery O'Connor
Flannery O'Connor wrote your book. Not much escapes
your notice.

Which Author's Fiction are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

That's about right. No wonder I don't fit in New Jersey...

Posted by susanna at 07:29 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Picture me as The First Wife

It appears that Dennis Kucinich is seeking a Better Half, and a group of civic minded New Hampshirians (Hampshirites? Hampshiremenpersongenderlesssentientcarbonbasedhomosapiens?) are eager to help.

A number of ladies have already tossed their hats (and likely other clothing items, truth be told) into the ring. So I thought, why not? I'm single and way past jailbait. And I can be a "dynamic, out-spoken woman who was fearless in her desire for peace in the world and for universal single-payer health care and a full employment economy". Well. Maybe not the health care. But hey! No partnership is perfect, right? So here's my entry - tell me what you think before I send it in:

Personal statement

I am one hot tamale.

There. Compare it to the other entries, and tell me that mine isn't the one hitting what he really wants.

After all, he is a man.

Well, okay, probably a metrosexual. But that's at least a distant cousin to a real man!

Or maybe not.

Anyway, in the second round (like there would be one), I can say: World peace? Sure, I'm for it! Glass over the UN, Hollywood, Martha's Vineyard, Berkeley, France and assorted Middle Eastern countries after removing the innocent, and we'll have so much peace it'll go for pennies on the dollar! Universal health care? Pshaw, just put the fortunes and trust funds of all the free-with-my-money Dems into a general account, and we could take care of the health of everyone in the US for the foreseeable future. Next question?

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a shoo-in.

(And yes, I'm joking. Well, not about the fact that my qualifications smack down the rest like Godiva mauls Hershey's.)

[Thanks to Jim Bowen for the link]

UPDATE: And I'll be sure to wear my new shirt when I go for my Date With Dennis!

Posted by susanna at 02:46 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 11, 2003

Imperialist hegemony

Lt. Citizen Smash has gotten into a little email scuffle with cartoonist liberal activist Tom Tomorrow about Tomorrow's latest cartoon, which disses warbloggers.

Very funny.

And now that I think about it, I am out of Cheetos. Excuse me, I have to make a store run.

Posted by susanna at 06:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Larry Flynt, Altruist

From the Lions Lie Down With Lambs file (and get your mind out of the gutter):

Photographs showing rescued American soldier Private Jessica Lynch topless with two male soldiers have been bought by the owner of Hustler.

Larry Flynt insists he has only paid for the snaps to prevent them from becoming public...

In a statement, Mr Flynt said: "I was offered photos of Jessica Lynch. I purchased them in order to keep them out of circulation, not to publish them."

Mr Flynt, an opponent of the Bush administration, added: "Jessica Lynch is being used as a pawn by the media and by the government to create a hero who can sell this war to the American people."

Make of it what you will.

Posted by susanna at 11:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Dell Hell

As you know, yesterday I ordered a computer from Dell. I don't think I mentioned it, but I had a nightmarish time last week getting my student loan check, and then battling with my bank whilst they played musical chairs with my subsequent deposit. Phone calls, fees, tears, anger and reimbursements were all involved. By Monday it was straightened out.

Just in time to descend precipitously into Dell Hell.

I did mention earlier that - unbeknownst to me - banks put a limit on how much you can charge against even a debit card, in one day. Well, at least for little people like me. When I ordered the Dell computer, I saw that it said "charge limit for debit card". I dutifully called the bank and called Dell before submitting the order to make sure what it all meant and what my limit is. Based on that, I selected the right one - which was less than the full amount, requiring them to charge against the card for three consecutive days. I thought it stupid, and screwy, but whatever. Then I got an email that night saying the charge had been rejected. Excuse me???! No way, I checked with everyone before the order.

So I called my bank, to learn that Dell had tried to charge the full amount of the computer, more than twice what I had authorized for that day, and more than my bank allowed in a day, and of course was rejected.

I was steamed, and called Dell customer service, which connected me to ... Central America, where the woman spoke with a heavy Spanish accent and I had to explain things several times. When she finally got it, all she could say was, I can't help you, you need to talk to financial services which isn't open right now. Lovely.

This morning I waited to call financial services, which opened at 8 a.m. Central time, and got a woman in... India! Now, why did they have to wait until 8 a.m. Central time when she's in India?! I only got her after about five minutes spent wandering around their automated voice system. When I got a live person, we talked for a few minutes, I won't go into details but it wasn't lovely. She also didn't understand me well and I didn't understand her well. Please realize that I work in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, I have friends who are Hispanic and Indian, I hear those accents all the time, but from people who are around English constantly and speak it very well. I also speak English very well, without much of an accent (as some of you can attest). But my patience, already severely tried, did not last long. Upshot of it was, she couldn't help me so she connected me to Ben in ... Idaho.

Who couldn't help me either.

He connected me to ... Archna in Austin, TX.

Who couldn't help me either.

She connected me to ... "Tom"* in India.


"Tom", it turns out, is a trainee, so midway through the conversation, suddenly I'm talking to someone else, who turns out to be "Peter", his trainer. They said they could help me, but not right then because they were having trouble with their systems. I said, "Could that be because YOU ARE IN INDIA AND MY BANK IS IN THE UNITED STATES??????!!!!!!!!!" Very pleasantly they said, we will have to call you back. So great, now I get to wait around my apartment waiting for them to call back? Because they screwed up, and then made me deal with help personnel outsourced half a world away?

Nothing I could do but agree. So I did. And it really wasn't that long before they called back, about 15 minutes, and cheerily told me my charge went through this time. Finally! That was when I informed them that I expected my order to be expedited and in the mail ASAP, given what a nightmare they had perpetrated on my innocent self. They agreed - said it would be mailed by Friday.

So we'll see.

I must say this has made Best Buy look very very appealing.

* I put "Tom" and "Peter" in asterisks, because I seriously doubt those are their real names. First, I've met very few Indians with Westernized names who actually were born in India. A close friend of mine in grad school who was from Bombay was named Edmund, but his family were Catholics and of Portuguese as well as Indian ancestry. His friends had names like Debashish, Ramchandra, and Shanti. I also read an article (long enough ago that I don't have a link) about outsourcing help lines that said the companies often do assign their employees Westernized names when they are hired to talk to Western customers.

[minirant] I have some economic issues with offshore outsourcing of things like help lines, but mostly I don't care who answers my call as long as they are comprehendible. When I'm already upset, and trying to explain something technical or complex, I don't like dealing with someone who can't understand my language or how I'm speaking. And I don't like having to re-explain, or ask them to repeat something over and over. Tech lines are notorious for this, often hiring (apparently) Chinese or other Asian students. It doubles the time I'm on the phone, and makes me furious. Maybe they have the technical expertise, but if you can't understand them... !!! (And don't even go there with me about multi-culti; when I'm trying to get my computer straightened out is not a time to engage in social engineering).[/minirant]

Posted by susanna at 10:45 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 10, 2003

I did not send this email!

Apparently the latest permutation of the Klez virus distribution is to suck up people's email addresses and send out version of it attributed to them. I know that often one of the results of opening a virus is that it replicates itself and sends the virus to everyone in that person's address book. But! I specifically do not use Outlook for that reason; I only ever use Hotmail, and it won't let you open viruses. I certainly never did manually. And I have Norton Anti-Virus on my computer that automatically updates every time I get online.

Nonetheless, Stephen the Doggerel Pundit (who, incidently, you should check out) reports receiving this from me:

--- biasblog wrote: > >Klez.E is the most common world-wide spreading worm.It's >very dangerous by corrupting your files. >Because of its very smart stealth and anti-anti-virus >technic,most common AV software can't detect or clean it. >We developed this free immunity tool to defeat the >malicious virus. >You only need to run this tool once,and then Klez will >never come into your PC. >NOTE: Because this tool acts as a fake Klez to fool the >real worm,some AV monitor maybe cry when you run it. >If so,Ignore the warning,and select 'continue'. >If you have any question,please mail to me.

For one thing, I speak Engrish better than that. But I also don't see how my email came to be associated with the Klez virus. If anyone else gets this, please delete it posthaste. I would never ever in the world forward anti-virus stuff to anyone. And I'd like to wring the puny little nasty geek neck of whoever it was that did in my name.

Posted by susanna at 06:49 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


Well, I just ordered my computer - Dell Inspiron 8500 notebook, with all kinds of bells and whistles. I took everyone's comments into account, actually tried calling a reader who offered a phone consultation (he was out :( ), and finally just... did it. 30 gig hard drive, 512mg RAM, Windows XP Pro, MS Professional (WITH Access, that was a decision that took a few minutes of lip chewing thought), a port replicator, wireless connectivity, three year warranty with in-home service... you get the idea. My debit card nearly melted in my hand when I plugged in the numbers. The most $$ I've ever spent at one time. My car doesn't count because I didn't actually hand over all that $$ at one time.

I also learned that my debit card has a daily charge limit, which I wasn't aware of. I thought, naively, that if the $$ was in the bank, I could purchase whatever I wanted. Wrong! Something to remember.

Now, the waiting begins... ticktockticktockticktocktick...

I've had a headache for about six days now. I've nearly decided that it's a sinus infection. Not anything horrible, no fever or swelling or nausea or anything. Just a steady constant pain around my right eye and migrating around my head, that won't go away. Not that you care, particularly, but it takes just enough of an edge off to where I don't feel much like writing. That's my excuse, anyway. Unless you want to hear tales of saline irrigation...

UPDATE: I've added the details of my computer's specs below, for anyone who knows enough for it to mean something. All I know is "bigger is usually better".

Mobile Pentium®4 Processor, 2.6 GHz, 15.4 WSXGA+
Multi-Media Players - RealOne™ Player, with 14 day SuperPass trial
Security Software - Norton Antivirus® 2003,12-month subscription upgrade
Digital Music - Dell Jukebox powered by MUSICMATCH
Limited Warranty, Services and Support - 3 Year Limited Warranty plus 3 Year At-Home Service
Productivity Software - Microsoft® Office Professional 2003 with Money®
Operating Systems - Microsoft® Windows® XP Pro Edition w/ Microsoft® Plus!
Memory FREE UPGRADE! - 512MB,266MHz,2DIMM (from 256MB, 266MHz, 2DIMM)
CompleteCare Accidental Damage Service - Add CompleteCare Accidental Damage Protection to 3Yr Lim Warranty
Surge Protectors - Protect Your Investment - TrippLIte Notebook Surge Protector
Video Editing - Dell Movie Studio Essentials
Special Offer - $200 Special Offer
Wireless Networking Cards - Dell TrueMobile™1400 DualBand WLAN (802.11a/b/g, 54Mbps) miniPCI Card
Primary Battery - 72 WHr Primary Battery
Hard Drives - 30GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive
Port Replicator - Home Bundle: Advanced Port Replicator,D/View Stand,Mouse and Keyboard
Integrated Nic And Modem - Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem
Modular Internal CD/DVD Drives - FREE 24X CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive Upgrade! (from DVD)
Digital Imaging Software - Dell Picture Studio, Image Expert Premium
Video Card - 32MB DDR ATI MOBILITY™ RADEON™ 9000 4x AGP 3D Video
Accessorize Your Notebook - Targus Auto/Air Power Adapter
Dial-Up Internet Access - 6 Months of Earthlink Internet Access

Also, before I ordered I checked on the RAM situation, and according to their specs, this laptop is upgradable to 2G RAM. That sounded sufficient for me.

And now you know what I know :) and probably understand it a lot better than I do!

Posted by susanna at 04:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Deliverance redux

Ever wonder what happened to "the banjo boy" in Deliverance?

He'll soon be in a theater near you, again, courtesy of Tim Burton.

[Link via Romenesko's Obscure Store]

Posted by susanna at 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Republicans as racist former Dems

This is an interesting article by historian Jefferson Cowie in The American Prospect. I don't disagree with everything he says, but I also don't agree with much of it. What do you think?


When I read this article initially, it didn't ring true to me but my knowledge of the specifics of history in this instance is not strong. I didn't want to say more than I knew, so I put it out there for your comments - in essence, to learn. Well, the comments did a fine job, and now John at Discriminations took that up several more levels to this truly excellent post, which say what I thought about the original article but says it with authority and examples. Thank you, John!

Posted by susanna at 10:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

de Tocqueville he's not

A German traveled to the US to learn about the country, and settled on Lexington, KY, as his base of operations for writing about the US for his newspaper back home. Here is a summary of his impressions from the Lexington newspaper, as he prepares to leave.

Interesting, but not quite de Tocqueville.

Posted by susanna at 09:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 08, 2003

The Dem (almost) dozen Dean

Jacob Levy at The Volokh Conspiracy says ", I'm starting to get that 'Dean's a mortal lock unless he really, deeply screws up' feeling". That is, of course, precisely what the Republicans want for precisely this reason:

Yesterday I talked politics with a friend of mine who is a life-long Democrat - woman, pro-choice, Southerner transplanted to the North, black - and of course it turned to presidential politics. It hurt when she gagged at the mention of GW's name, and seemed to find no redeeming qualities to Ronald Reagan. But then I got happy: She called all the current Dem presidential candidates "buffoons", and said that she "would not vote for Dean!" She said she didn't know what that left for her.

I think a lot of Dems feel that way.

It's always curious to me when they run those polls saying that Bush is running neck 'n neck with some unnamed Dem candidate. Here's the latest Gallup poll:

By a slim margin of 46% to 43%, registered voters say they are more likely to vote for President Bush than the "Democratic Party's candidate for president" in next year's election. Over the past two months, the race between Bush and the unnamed Democratic candidate has been tightening. At the end of August, 51% of registered voters said they would vote for Bush, while 39% said they would vote for the Democratic candidate. The percentage of registered voters supporting Bush then dropped to 47% in a September poll.

That means absolutely nothing. It's a way to give Bush some competition early in the game. But the reality is that that number is a vote against Bush, not a vote for anyone. When a specific person, with all his policies, history and personality quirks, is measured against Bush, that'll be a whole different thing. In the same poll, the top vote getter amongst the Dems was Howard Dean, at 16%; five of the Dems each have votes in the double digits. Is it likely that all those votes will migrate to Dean if he's the candidate? No. Many may, but a lot won't too, because he has his own baggage - as my friend made clear. Again, in the Gallup poll 53% of the respondents said they want a moderate Dem to get the nomination - and I haven't seen any moderate Dems take the stage yet.

I can't tell you how happy that makes me. But "very" is a good start.

Oh, and I told my friend that she could vote for Bush - we have our arms open to bring her into the fold. Even though she nearly lost her lunch in response, I think there's hope.

Posted by susanna at 08:17 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

Thanks, Laurel!

Some of you know I've been whining about New Jersey.

Okay, all of you know.

Well, my sister has come through with a Southern Infusion box, which I received today. Awesome? Well, judge for yourself:


Very cool. She and I can be fairly competitive (in a nice way), but I concede the field to her on care packages. She rules.

The photos are of her husband, her husband with their kids, Amanda and Brandon, and Laurel with Alan & Traci's girls, Molly Katherine and Haydon. And the sign on the newspaper says, "Catch up on the feuds, moonshining and vote buying!"

I'd complain about stereotyping but it's all true.

Posted by susanna at 07:30 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Uh oh - proof!

Remember Alan Yu and his invisible miniature secret body-diving personnel?

It appears someone has captured some of those personnel in mid-training - finished with the invisibility semester, heading into the miniaturizing class.

WomenWarCorp invisible crpd small 11-03.jpg

Now I'm really scared.

[Courtesy of CG Hill, who apparently has Top Secret Sources]

Posted by susanna at 07:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Fisking opportunity

I can't stand it, myself, but some brave souls may. The details from the email are in the MORE section; it involves Al Gore and

Dear MoveOn Member,

In June, twenty thousand MoveOn members interviewed each other by phone to help us explore the values underlying our work together. One striking theme emerged: the deep concern Americans have with the Bush administration's attacks on our cherished liberties, in the name of security. Since June, we've been looking for a powerful way to respond to this clear mandate, and when former Vice President Gore asked us to co-host a policy address on Freedom and Security, we jumped at the chance.

You are invited to view this important speech on Sunday, November 9 at 2pm EASTERN by web cast, or on Link TV. In Washington DC, this event will be attended by local MoveOn members and by members of our partner in this effort, the American Constitution Society. Unfortunately, all seats for the event are filled. But we encourage you to tune in this Sunday, at 2pm Eastern, by going to:

The program will be broadcast live on Link TV, the national television network available on DIRECTV (channel 375) and DISH Network (channel 9410). C-SPAN will likely broadcast the speech as well, as long as another news event doesn’t supercede the speech on Sunday.

In this, his third major speech on the Administration's response to terrorism, Mr. Gore will describe the Administration's assault on our civil liberties as un-American and will charge that the Bush/Ashcroft attack on the Constitution is actually a smokescreen that obscures the Administration’s fundamental failure to meaningfully protect our national security, and that their efforts have weakened rather than strengthened America.

In August, Mr. Gore delivered a speech sponsored by MoveOn that opened a space for other leaders to speak out against the Bush Administration's deliberate use of false impressions to mislead the nation on war, taxes, the economy and the environment. That speech did nothing less than shift the terms of the national debate, and we expect this speech to have as big an impact.

Again, here are the details:

Al Gore Speaks on Freedom and Security
Sunday, November 9, 2:00 pm Eastern
Broadcast: Link TV and possibly C-SPAN

See you there.


--Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The Team
November 7th, 2003

PS: We're cosponsoring this event with the American Constitution Society. ACS is a national organization of law students, lawyers, academics, judges, and policymakers committed to restoring the values of human dignity, individual rights and liberties, equality, and access to justice to their rightful, central place in American law. ACS is leading a rapidly growing movement to counter the Federalist Society and other promoters of today's dominant conservative vision of American law and public policy.
Visit ACS at:

Link TV broadcasts to more than 21 million US homes a 24-hour mix of documentaries, international news and critical issues not covered by mainstream media. For more information on rebroadcast times go to

Posted by susanna at 03:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Explain this to me

I understand that this is not something to encourage, and transfer is definitely a wise choice.

But a charge of cowardice and the threat of court martial?

Seems extreme.

[Link from reader Alan Cornett]

Posted by susanna at 03:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

PETA confirms it has no sense of humor

Okay, this is hilarious.

I'm sure most if not all of you have read the Scrappleface take on the Kroc donation to NPR:

PETA to NPR: Reject McDonald's 'Blood Money' Bequest

And some people took it seriously - like, ohhhhh.... PETA! From The Washington Times:

Meanwhile, a hoax news release credited to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) circulated at several news Web sites yesterday, calling for NPR to "turn away this blood money," and for "Americans to boycott NPR programs since they will be bought with the slaughtered carcasses of billions of sentient beings."

The satiric release stated, "Because the bequest amounts to about twice NPR's annual budget, public radio stations will cease fund raising during NPR programs and Congress will withdraw all taxpayer funding."

PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said his group did not issue the release.

Yes, but you know they agreed with at least part of it! Wild that anyone took it seriously, but that only shows just how good Scott Ott is. And the Washington Times added this little nugget that's about right:

Still, it articulates the qualms of those who believe NPR has a liberal slant and does not deserve federal money.

As Glenn would say... Indeed.

Posted by susanna at 08:47 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 05, 2003

Stepping into the twilight zone

Clicking around as one is wont to do online, starting with Zell Miller's comments on the Dem Intelligence Committee memo, I managed to find myself on this website claiming that Sen. Paul Coverdell, who Miller replaced, was murdered.

By "invisible personnel".

Coverdell died at 61 from complications from a cerebral brain hemorrhage. But, you see, Coverdell really "must had been murdered by invisible personnel (involved federal agents, local polices & operative of surveillance system) using high frequency acoustic bullets (& electroshock weapon, stun gun, etc.) to induce cerebral hemorrhage".

The website writer appears to be a man named Alan Yu, a former Lt. Colonel with the Taiwanese National Defense who may be of Chinese or Taiwanese background. I didn't read the entire piece, nor did I link to other pages in his site, but his premise seems to go like this: We know that in WWII the US developed the ability to make people invisible. Also, the CIA in the 1950s developed the means to induce natural-seeming illnesses or catastrophic health events (like a brain hemorrhage). Since then, the US has used both mind-control techniques and assassinations via these natural-seeming health problems to control important Americans. And don't look to the police:

This secret cooperation on unlawful life control are mostly under US local police chief's arrangement or supervision. Because involved local police have used invisibility technology, mind control device and psy (nonlethal) weapons. So, local police station is mind control basic unit and involved police (& recruited civilian operatives) secretly use illness/death inducing techniques to unlawfully control local Americans' lives..."

And what might these invisible personnel be? Glad you asked:

According to inside information from former Taiwan President Chiang Kai-Shek, the invisibility technology (of Philadelphia Experiment tested in WWII) had been developed successfully for use on human after WWII by US Navy. After using invisibility technology on the personnel and equipment, they will become invisible, tiny (like small ant size) and can levitate (floating in air as zero gravity). Since these personnel & equipment will be rendered tiny by the invisibility technology, they are of little use in military combat; invisibility technology was later used in the field of surveillance. In 1950s, this invisibility technology was transferred to Taiwan. Each tiny invisible personnel, by wearing a propulsion device on back to control his movement while levitating, can function as a small flying ant. By combing this ability with the psychotronic weapons (aka non-lethal weapons) and mind machine that they carry, these tiny invisible personnel can not only fly onto their target's head to read his mind, but they also can land on an unaware target's body (near an organ) to induce illness/death. While using mind control device, the tiny invisible personnel can gently fly onto people's head and use ELF waves (skull zapper) to implant thoughts into the target's mind. Since the ELF is same frequency as human brain wave, the unaware target will act upon it as his own will (But, so far, they still cannot explain why humans become tiny in the electromagnetic field).

And there you have it. The only thing Alan Yu doesn't explain is why a website detailing this nefarioius manipulation of Americans, Chinese and Taiwanese is allowed to remain readily available on the Web even while the US and other governments are using the techniques to kill inconvenient persons.

It's not like the modest Yu even makes it hard to find him:

So far, Alan Yu is the only person (in the world) who knows and also openly tells the truth about invisible personnel's crimes of murders, mind controlling others to kill, and international conspiracy of criminal life control. If you would like to support a whistle blower's efforts to stop invisible personnel denying human's basic rights to life, please make donation to Alan Yu (Address: 2 Iris Lane, Newark, Delaware 19702)

Of course, what better way to debunk such inflammatory truth than to allow it to be freely available online and linked by small-traffic blogs?

Posted by susanna at 09:56 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Balance of power

Congratulations to Ernie Fletcher and Haley Barbour.


And this is an interesting quote about balance of power from former KY Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Forgy:

Larry Forgy, Republican candidate for governor in 1995,, said he agreed that the Democrats will rise again, as they should. They simply won't enjoy single-party control over Frankfort, as they did until recently, he said.

"What I hope we've arrived at is an equilibrium between the two parties here in state government," said Forgy, who lost to Patton in a close race. "If the Republican Party is still in power 32 years from now, I will vote Democrat."

That would be a tough call.

Oh, and congrats to Richie Farmer, a former UK basketball player who hails from my home county in Kentucky. He took the agriculture commissioner position. Richie's a smart guy with a lot of good contacts and a lifetime of living around farmers and farming in a way his opponent, Alice Baesler, wouldn't understand. She may run a farm, but I doubt she understands the issues for farmers without millions at their disposal.

Posted by susanna at 08:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 04, 2003


I met with my core area committee chair today and scheduled my last exam for December 2. I have to study about 80 articles and books, and then on that Tuesday I'll get a question from my committee (three professors) that I will have 8 hours to answer. No more than 20 pages, typewritten (computer, of course), 11 pt, double spaced. I've read a bunch, but not all, of the material, so while I'm not doing a Charles and going on hiatus (nothing so important as golf in my life), things will slow down here even more than they have been. Of course I'll be moving about 2 weeks after the exam, so likely things won't be back to daily multiple postings until January.

Once this exam is done, it's all about the dissertation, baby! And I would be amazingly happy to get that thing cranked out and done in 2004. That's the goal.

Wish me luck.

Posted by susanna at 03:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 03, 2003

Reality setting in

Below I linked a piece on the casualties of this war, and the need for the media to put them in a larger context numerically. They could take a lesson from Bryan Preston, who does just that:

The press reporting on US casualties is of course necessary, but curiously devoid of context. In the first ten minutes of D-Day, we lost more troops than we have lost in this entire war, including both the Afghan and Iraq campaigns. We lost many thousands on useless rocks with names like Iwo Jima, and in deserts far from any useful harbor or base, and out at sea hundreds of miles from land. The deaths of our soldiers are always horrible, but thus far in this war our military has yet to receive a significant scratch, let alone lose an actual battle. In World War II, we lost the Philippines for a while--an entire protectorate taken from us by force, our defeated soldiers marched to their deaths afterward. Iraq has given us no such pain, and is unlikely to. Our present casualty rate is almost miraculous by comparison...

We can't lose heart every time we lose a soldier or a platoon of soldiers. If we do lose heart and pull back, the next grim headline we read could be the epitaph for several thousand more Americans, killed while they were innocently going about their day.

And despite the complete and utter failure of the media to honestly contextualize the news, the importance of context is getting out at least in the blogosphere - in this instance, via Andrew Sullivan:

Saddam always relied on the Somalia strategy. He believed - and probably still does - that the U.S. does not have the guts to stick this out and wear down the Sunni dead-enders now combined with Islamist terrorists. He planned on this kind of war of attrition from the minute he knew he was militarily finished. That makes our endurance all the more necessary. The slow collapse of American credibility in the 1990s will take time to reverse. And moments like yesterday are classic attempts to test our determination. Saddam and what he still represents must fail in full view of the world. And we have an irreplaceable opportunity to see it happen.

That's the point. We can't fail in Iraq because we're fighting a bigger war than that. And when the media focuses on selling controversy over context, their fiction over broader fact, they become complicit in aiding the ones who want to end the freedoms that allow journalists to operate. The media refuse to realize that they are a pawn in a very sophisticated strategy on the terrorist side, and they are behaving precisely as the terrorists and holdover Saddamites anticipated they would. And that's not even bad in and of itself - if the enemy counted on the media giving honest, accurate and meticulously fair coverage, it would be no shame for them to do so just because it became an element of enemy strategy. But to be used in the way they are is both a shame and a disgrace.

Today I walked around Rutgers-Newark putting up this flyer telling people about Operation Give, the effort to bring toys and clothes to the children of Iraq. A woman was sitting at a table advocating a utopian peace that no sensible student of history believes is possible - a peace where no one dies to preserve it, a peace where no arms stand behind to defend it. I gave her a flyer. And as I walked away, I thought, she can't see that her ability to do what she is doing is because thousands, millions of Americans of almost every national origin died to give her that peace. It is a blindness I don't understand, and struggle to forgive. And it is a blindness shared by many in the media.

Posted by susanna at 06:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

We gotcher bias here! Fresh bias!

Maybe. Or maybe not. Marc, being The Genius He Is, found this suspicious little nugget. Hmmmm...

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

Do safe storage laws cost lives?

You decide.

Posted by susanna at 10:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Is there systematic bias by underreporting US military deaths?

E&P reports that the number of soldiers who have died in Iraq since the end of major conflict is almost double what is reported most times:

In fact, 218 troops have been killed since May 1 from all causes (nearly doubling the combat-only count), and a total of 139 before May 1. This includes suicides, drownings, and the many military vehicle accidents.

The articles calls this "the pervasive pattern of downplaying U.S. deaths from all causes in Iraq".

There's no indication of what this means, but the dark tone suggests some kind of deliberate effort to minimize the pain of the warfare there. Given the wording and the tone, it seems to me that the writer has an obligation to say what this means rather than hanging it out there like a dark beacon of .... someone's evil, we're not sure who.

The truth is, death by accident, or suicide, is a fact of life in military operations. Even in peacetime soldiers die by those means. It would be useful to provide context by showing whether the numbers of those dying by non-combat means is higher per 1000 soldiers now as opposed to peacetime. Or to explore why this difference in coverage may exist by, oh, say, interviewing some journalists responsible for the reporting. Without context, this little nugget runs the risk of seeming to try to incite suspicions of some kind of coverup without actually having to provide any supporting evidence that it's true.

Not that that would be bias in its own right. Of course not. After all, it's E&P.

Posted by susanna at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's the Bug-B-Gone?

Theosebes reports a locust swarm of Biblical proportions.

Posted by susanna at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bias in the media - the Goldberg interview

John Hawkins interviews Bernard Goldberg on media bias and his new book. Don't miss it.

My favorite part involves monkfish.

Posted by susanna at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

One little mistake, they're all over you

So I didn't change the COTV link for almost two months! So The Genius I Was was my Site of the Week for seven weeks! What's the harm in that? It's a really good site!

But A little Aardvark has to complain and mock.

Ya know, you befriend these wild mammals and they just turn and bite you.

And yes, I changed both. Happy now?


Posted by susanna at 09:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 02, 2003

Death and applesauce

Yesterday was a transcendent fall day, the sun drawing an almost painful beauty from the remaining fall leaves. Temperatures hovered in the mid 70s, and everywhere in rural north Jersey was that dry sharp odor of piles of leaves crunched underfoot. We stopped at a farm stand to buy tart apples for homemade applesauce, and struck up a conversation with the man running it - a 29 year old Brit who came to the US two years ago to escape the violence in England. He talked of the tension in his hometown from Islamic radicals, and how law-abiding citizens were putting bars on their windows and heavy locks on their doors to keep out marauding intruders. He said he and the people he knows in England applaud the man who shot the burglar who returned repeatedly to his home to steal, because the police weren't catching the burglar and the homeowner had had enough.

Of course, that homeowner is now in jail for the shooting, although it happened on his own property, and the burglar is suing him for lost wages. He'll probably win.

The Brit also said, "I've seen how people here treat each other and how they drive, and I don't think they should have guns."

He has a point.

Now, today, I'm running around my apartment cooking down the apples for applesauce, wearing junky clothes and new fancy shoes I want to break in before I wear them all day somewhere. The music is loud, the day outside is again beautiful, and life is good.

Except for the 17 families of the American soldiers killed today in Iraq, when their Chinook was shot from the sky.

I found myself pausing each time I remembered, and more than once I cried a little. How could I be so content and happily busy when their worlds just came crashing down, and those young lives were lost half a world away? Then I read this, about why the president doesn't attend memorial services for individual military personnel who lose their lives. He, of course, is in a different position than we are, but somehow it holds true. They died so we have the freedom to discuss gun control with a British immigrant, cook down apples for applesauce, and wear fancy shoes with exercise shorts. To live normal and free lives. In some ways the fact that our lives move forward in many ways oblivious to the ebb and flow of activity in Iraq and Afghanistan is a testimony to the success of our military's mission. My oblivion is, in a strange way, their reward.

So I will continue to have weepy moments about those lives lost, I will read the articles about them and I will pray for the families of the lost and for the safety of those who live. And I will live my life with thankfulness in my heart for those who make my daily peace possible.

Thank you to the US Armed Forces.

Posted by susanna at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack