27 February 2006
"Why are there movies like 'Blue Velvet'?"
I still think it's a great flick. After all, "it's a strange world."
24 February 2006
Separated at Birth?
21 February 2006
Stand Up, Stand Up for Denmark!
A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let's be sure we haven't hurt the vandals' feelings.I admit, I am not wearing the Danish flag t-shirt I bought a few weeks ago this very instant, but I did have a Tuborg earlier!
Meanwhile, not a dollar of Wahhabi money should be allowed to be spent on opening madrasahs in this country, or in distributing fundamentalist revisions of the Quran in our prison system. Not until, at the very least, churches and synagogues and free-thought libraries are permitted in every country whose ambassador has bullied the Danes. If we have to accept this sickly babble about "respect," we must at least demand that it is fully reciprocal.
Whole thing here at Pam's House Blend. Link via Towleroad.
Even though the situation's completely different, it reminds me of the neighbor we had across the street in Memphis. (That's him with the sign. Here's another one, but no audio links there.) He and his wife brought us over freshed baked bread at Christmas one year. And a book telling us how we could "change." We declined both gifts -- and the bread smelled yummy, too. I wrote him a "please don't do stuff like that" letter immediately thereafter.
Confidential to SJW
Your Tax Dollars at Work
Here, in full, is Senator Siplin's proposed "...act relating to the indecent wearing of below-waist underwear."
1 A bill to be entitled
2 An act relating to the indecent wearing of
3 below-waist underwear; creating s. 800.035,
4 F.S.; prohibiting a person from exposing
5 below-waist underwear in a specified manner;
6 providing penalties; providing an effective
9 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
11 Section 1. Section 800.035, Florida Statutes, is
12 created to read:
13 800.035 Exposure of undergarments.--
14 (1) A person may not wear and expose below-waist
15 underwear in a public place in a manner that exposes or
16 exhibits one's covered or uncovered sexual organs in a vulgar
17 and indecent manner.
18 (2) A person who violates this section commits a
19 misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.
20 775.082 or s. 775.083, but the term of imprisonment may not
21 exceed 10 days and the fine may not exceed $50.
22 Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2006.
25 SENATE SUMMARY
26 Provides that a person may not wear and expose
below-waist underwear in a manner that exposes or
27 exhibits one's covered or uncovered sexual organs.
Provides criminal penalties.
I respect some folks' concerns about "prison culture" running rampant among the youth (pronounce it like Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinnie") of America, and if schools and similar institutions want to impose such rules, more power to 'em. Even publicly funded schools. But state law? Gi'me a break. This is just electioneering, grandstanding, and a waste (ha ha, almost said "waist") of our money.
20 February 2006
Stop laughing. Please!
Sometimes you run across one or two that just demand immediate scanning and sharing. I've put a set of pictures of some of my cousins -- pictures taken from the 40s to the 70s -- up at our Flickr site.
Henry Rollins: Terrorist!
Why? Because he was reading Jihad: The Rise Of Militant Islam In Central Asia. (Inner quotes from Henry's blog.)
Truly, we live in nutzo times. Not only can fundamentalist religious yahoos basically get away with telling other people what they can publish, but also scared wussies at the other end of the spectrum are trying to make it difficult for people to read what they want to read. Argggh.The person who sat next to you on the flight from New Zealand does not agree with your politics or choice of reading and so nominated you as a possible threat. As they were too cowardly or stupid to leave their details I can’t call them to discuss their idiocy with them.
In his response to the kindly tipster the former Black Flag frontman noted the irony that the book is written by a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, one of America's more conservative newspapers, and was published by Yale University, President Bush's alma mater.
The D.C. native then asked the woman to send along a message to her higher-ups:Please tell your government and everyone in your office to go f*ck themselves. Tell them twice. If your boss is looking for something to do, you can tell him I suggest he go f*ck himself. Baghdad's safer than my hometown and your PM is a sissy. You have a nice night.
Though firmly against the war in Iraq and no fan of President Bush, Rollins is an unassailable patriot and supporter of the Armed Services. During the Christmas season he made his sixth USO tour.
19 February 2006
A Pakistani Reverend Phelps Wannabe?
I suppose we should take Voltaire's words about "defend to the death your right to say it," at face value and practice them. At the same time, we have to consider that at some point it may become necessary, if we care to survive, to kill some, many, of these people saying these things.
Keep your powder dry; keep your nuclear weapons well maintained and ready to go.
Lt. Laurel Hester, R.I.P.
This story at T.P.M. Cafe discusses how the coming-out stories of people in tragic situations have made a difference in the legal standing for gay and lesbian people. It shouldn't take a tragedy for the larger community to do the right thing, and it's our telling our stories in all situations that is really making a difference for LGB rights in the USA (or at least preventing a massive rollback).
A Time Waster with Content
Speaking of Random Hits...
Clone of Suzy Creamcheese
Courtesy of someone who showed up via the Next Blog link at the top.
And Speaking of Sly Stone...
Sly showed up and played keys and sang on a few verses of "I Want to Take You Higher", then he bolted. More pics and info on the platinum mohawked Mr. Stone here.
And My Favorite Serious Composer is Charles Ives
The iTunes Signature Maker applet by Jason Freeman can be found here. Link via Dragonleg via Solonor via That Geeky Chick via ....
Curious as to the tracks and the artists? The complete list in order of appearance can be found here, since Blogger seems to be unable to deal with standard HTML tables.
For what it's worth, while I was typing this, iTunes, in random mode, has played Bill Bruford, "Adios a la Pasada"; Roy Orbison, "You Got It"; King Crimson, "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream"; Neil Young, "Till the Morning Comes"; They Might Be Giants, "Statue Got Me High"; Sly and the Family Stone, "Running Away"; and K. C. and the Sunshine Band, "Boogie Shoes". And now is playing King Crimson, "Dinosaur", so the thing seems pretty accurate.
17 February 2006
So, there! TV does not rot kids' brains, and it may even help them grow!
The key point for Gentzkow and Shapiro's study is that depending on where you lived and when you were born, the total amount of TV you watched in your childhood could differ vastly. A kid born in 1947 who grew up in Denver, where the first TV station didn't get under way until 1952, would probably not have watched much TV at all until the age of 5. But a kid born the same year in Seattle, where TV began broadcasting in 1948, could watch from the age of 1. If TV-watching during the early years damages kids' brains, then the test scores of Denver high-school seniors in 1965 (the kids born in 1947) should be better than those of 1965 high-school seniors in Seattle.
What if you're concerned about differences between the populations of the two cities that could affect the results? Then you compare test scores within the same city for kids born at different times. Denver kids who were in sixth grade in 1965 would have spent their whole lives with television; their 12th-grade counterparts wouldn't have. If TV matters, the test scores of these two groups should differ, too. Think analogously about lead poisoning. Lead has been scientifically proven to damage kids' brains. If, hypothetically, Seattle added lead to its water in 1948 and Denver did so in 1952, you would see a difference in the test-score data when the kids got to high school—the Seattle kids would score lower than the Denver kids, and the younger Denver kids would score lower than the older Denver ones, because they would have started ingesting lead at a younger age.
From the 1966 Coleman Report, the landmark study of educational opportunity commissioned by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Gentzkow and Shapiro got 1965 test-score data for almost 300,000 kids. They looked for evidence that greater exposure to television lowered test scores. They found none. After controlling for socioeconomic status, there were no significant test-score differences between kids who lived in cities that got TV earlier as opposed to later, or between kids of pre- and post-TV-age cohorts. Nor did the kids differ significantly in the amount of homework they did, dropout rates, or the wages they eventually made. If anything, the data revealed a small positive uptick in test scores for kids who got to watch more television when they were young. For kids living in households in which English was a second language, or with a mother who had less than a high-school education, the study found that TV had a more sizable positive impact on test scores in reading and general knowledge. Evidently, Bozo the Clown was better than we remember.
16 February 2006
Remembering My Dad
15 February 2006
The maple leaf has been in service to the crown since this date in 1965. We celebrate with our neighbors to the north! Congratulations, Canada!
Remembering My Mom
Mack and I had moved to Daytona Beach primarily to take care of her. It was serendipitous that ERAU had an opening that I could fill when we were looking to move here. We both ended up taking jobs doing what we had been doing in Memphis, where we lived before moving this way: he as an injection molding tech; me, teaching computer and electrical engineering. Since then, he's gone on to become an environmental engineer, and I'm muy proud of him.
I've never properly memorialized my mom. She, like all of us I guess, had multiple faces. Those of us who knew her closely might think of her at times as the ice lady, but to those who only knew her casually she was one whose life was centered on fun fun fun. She had been burned, I think, by emotional intimacy. She did, in fact, have an incredible amount of energy, at least until the last years of her life, for golf, for wildflowers, for painting, for cooking, for crafts of all sorts, for getting out and doing something.
When we were little, our family was a bit of a mess. We weren't like the kids from religious families up the street. I was always surprised at how cowed, how orderly, the kids were after dinner. "May I be excused?" and all that. In our household, when you were done, you got up and left the table. If someone didn't like it, they might say so, but it wasn't rule/structure based. It was here-and-now based.
But about my mom. She was a bit of a jock. She loved playing golf perhaps more than anything else in the world, which is why the arthritis is what killed her spirit, if the emphysthema was what killed her body. She loved being outdoors. She loved to pile a bunch of us kids in the car and take us blackberry picking: She didn't give a hoot if we got scratched up from the briars, she wanted us to pick blackberrys! Or wildflowers.
She was of a generation that desired and appreciated but had a really hard time with affluence. At the height of my dad's financial successes, she had a humongous garden, and she put up more vegetables than anyone else I've ever known. She and my dad had built a ridiculously large house on the highway in my hometown of Centerville, Tennessee, but there she was with the straightback kitchen chairs up on the table pouring cooked blackberries through cheesecloth suspended from a broom between the two chairs, making blackberry jelly. She made dill pickles. She made what seemed like a zillion different kinds of pickles -- bread and butter pickles, sweet pickles, kosher dills (they probably were kosher!). She made ketchup, which I turned up my 10-year-old nose at because it wasn't as sweet as Mr. Heinz's nth variety. She put up squash; she put up tomatoes. And then she'd go to my grandmother's house on Sand Mountain in Alabama and help her do all of the same, except making the ketchup.
She was a good painter. I have some sunflowers that she did that I cherish. I can remember her having grown them herself, having cut them herself, having taken a Polaroid picture of them herself, and the painting them from the Polaroid. She didn't get much further than still lifes, but she was still doing them a couple of years before she died.
She was a wonderful cook. There was little I loved more in the world than the spice cake with caramel frosting she would make at Christmas time. Once, for her bridge club -- she loved to play cards, too -- she made a pie that had orange slices in its whipped-cream-based filling and orange rind in its topping, and I pestered her time and time again to make that pie.
She loved our dad, even though he was a hard drinker and too wild to handle at times. He just about broke her spirit with his wildness, but she never gave up on him. I figure she quit loving him at times, the way anyone who is crazy about someone else gives up for a moment every now and then, but she never left, even in the most troubling of times. I can remember being very young -- five maybe -- and her looking for him because he hadn't been home for a few days. I was with her when she found out the most crazy thing he'd done -- I'm sorry, I won't talk about it with total strangers -- and I had to ride in the car all the way back to Middle Tennessee with her from New Bern, North Carolina, after she got the news in the middle of the night.
Okay, she did leave him once, but that was before any of us were born. And when he came to the boarding house where she was staying and pounded on the front door -- and kept pounding -- and kept pounding -- and kept pounding -- until she came back home with him. She finally did give in and go back home with him.
I'm so glad we buried her next to him. She may have remarried, but she never really loved someone else the way she did him.
Yes, my brothers and I sometimes called her the ice woman. She could be cold. She could be just downright cold hearted. But she had a persistence and a never-give-in quality that I couldn't appreciate until I got older.
So today, five years after she left this world for some other side, I remember her, her spirit and her passions, and I do so with love and affection. Of course I have regrets, but there is nothing I can do about those now. We all come into this world from somewhere else, and eventually leave for either that place from whence we came or somewhere else. I am glad I had a chance to give something back to her in her later days, because she always gave to me when I was in need. Yeah, she may not have been one of the most emotionally adept moms in the world, but she never gave up on my brothers or on me, which is more than can be said for many parents.
To my mom: May you rest in peace. May you know you were loved. May your memories bring nothing but happiness to those who would only remember.
14 February 2006
A Small Favor
If so, I think you have a virus running that's using your computer to send spam. Or else a virus cribbed an entry for me from your address book and is using someone else's computer to send me mail.
Why do I think this? Because I've been getting spam addressed to both addresses in the To field. My spam filter catches them for both e-mail accounts, but it's still annoying.
Think you could fix that?
Letter to Secretary Wynne
14 February 2006
Mr. Michael W. Wynne
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to protest the United States Air Force’s change to the policies that had been most recently in effect regarding proselytizing behavior by superiors and non-denominational prayers by USAF chaplains.
In the former situation, there is no situation in which a superior officer can or should speak to subordinates about her or his religious beliefs as an equal to the subordinate. To do so turns the military chain of command on its end. In a time of war, this is unacceptable. Better that our commanding officers place their allegiance first to this nation and second to their winning converts for whatever it is they happen to believe.
To the matter of the second situation, our military chaplains have to minister to a diverse group of men and women. If they cannot put the demands of their particular religion aside for the good of our troops, then maybe they should find a better way to serve our nation.
We are engaged in a sustained military action in
, sir. With all due respect, you should not have changed what was a sensible policy that supported the military needs of this nation over the political demands of a bunch of religious extremists. I strongly encourage you to return the policy to that announced last August. Iraq
Timothy A. Wilson
Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys Who Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other
More info here at Towleroad, including an iTunes link to the tune.
Addendum: Okay, so Willie's model of human sexuality could use a little revision, but whose couldn't?
All You Need Is Love
"A Muslim, a Catholic, and a Jew walk into the US Air Force Academy..."
Look, I've got nothing against individuals of whatever stripe attempting to share their faith, whatever it may be. But doing so when there is a power relationship involved is no more an exchange between free individuals than is a priest asking an altar boy for sex: It just shouldn't be done. When there's a power relationship involved, and even if it could be non-coercive in the small, it's next to statistically impossible for it to be non-coercive in the large.
This is bad policy, and we need to say so. You can write the Secretary of the Air Force at
Michael W. WynneNo e-mail available that I can find.
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670
Balloon Juice link via Andrew Sullivan.
13 February 2006
Insulin not included. Void where prohibited by law. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
12 February 2006
Be Vewy Vewy Quiet: I'm Hunting Wawyers
When most civilians go out drinking, driving around, and hunting from their cars or trucks, it's considered redneck at best, almost always illegal. And accidents involving friends getting shot, while often covered up, are considered embarassing to say the least. I guess you can't hope for that when you're the Vice President of the United States, even if you can delay releasing the information for twenty-four hours.
Hopefully, the buckshot victim will recover; I'm not sure I harbor such wishes about the vice-president's standing with his boss, the public, or the better good of the country.
Addendum: They weren't out riding around with their wives: They were with another woman. Make of it what you will!
I Should've Thought of That...
11 February 2006
"The people, united, will never be divided," etc.
Photo of the Blogger as a Younger Man
A Favorite Car
A Favorite Photo
Anyway, in the process of finding the Disneyland monorail photo below, I ran across the picture here. I was visiting Montreal with my brother Dan and his wife Suzie when the Canadiens beat the Flames on the road for the Stanley Cup. Either the next day or the one after that, there was a humongous street party / celebration that Suzie and I happened upon while out doing the tourist thing.
I've always really liked this picture. Every "Rue Stanley" sign in town was being carried around by guys like these. They were happy, blitzed, and completely oblivious to everything except "WE WON!"
Oh yeah, click on the photo for options to look at it with better resolutions.
The monorail is extraordinary in that it can be built elsewhere and then carried in and installed in mid-street with little confusion and no destruction of businesses. In a matter of a few months, a line could be built from Long Beach all the way along Western Avenue to the mountains with little disturbance to citizens and no threat to local businesses.What's that? Do I hear Springfield singing?
Compared to the heavy elevateds of the past, the monorail is virtually soundless. Anyone who has ridden the Disneyland or Seattle monorails knows how quietly they move.
They also have been virtually accident-free. The history of the monorail shows few collisions or fatalities.If we constructed monorails running north and south on Vermont, Western, Crenshaw and Broadway, and similar lines running east and west on Washington, Pico, Wilshire, Santa Monica and Sunset, we would have provided a proper cross section of transportation, allowing people to move anywhere in our city at any time.
There you have it. As soon as possible, we must call in one of the world's monorail-building companies to see what could be done so that the first ones could be in position by the end of the year to help our huddled traffic masses yearning to travel freely.
Maybe the high-speed rail proposed for central Florida should be a high-speed monorail! What would Walt do?
LA Times link via Boing Boing.
If So, Then I Am Gladly a Terrorist
It's an AP wire photo of a woman demonstrating in Nairobi, Kenya, on 10 FEB 06, used without permission via Dale Carpenter at The Volohk Conspiracy.
05 February 2006
For Mike McC. and Others Attracted to High-Frequency, High-Voltage Electrical Displays in the Home
The image is from another site with information about many things Tesla.
Hatchet Guy Dead
A moral to this story for the more wacko among us: The ones you think will do your dirty work -- shooting homos, blowing up abortion clinics, lynching blacks, burning churches, killing talk-radio hosts -- are the same ones who will kill peace officers and innocent bystanders, maybe even of your own group. Stop admiring the Eric Rudolphs and Jacob Robidas for accomplished something you lack the gumption to do. They are not admirable. They are just criminals.
Nazism and similar isms are basically criminal enterprises engaged in without restraint, regardless of whether the ostensible politics are left-wing or right-wing. What is it that Nazis, Stalinists, Islamacists, even some Christianists, etc., want more than anything else? To decide who lives and who dies at their whim, without the law, or rules, of process, of humans. Their laws, rules, processes are ordained either by what they think of as historical inevitability or by their private self-proclaimed pipeline to the Divine and its will.
A hatchet attack in a gay bar in New Bedford is pretty much the same as a beheading in Bagdhad. Bombing an abortion clinic is not unlike bombing the Olymics. Burning Baptist churches in Alabama is no different than setting embassies on fire in Syria. These are the acts of criminals, not freedom fighters or those with a right to act on their indignations.
04 February 2006
Gi'me a Carlsberg
Purportedly over some cartoons, but actually over this belief, apparently held by some non-trivial fraction of Muslims, that they have some right to tell other people what they can read, print, see. Blech.
Buy stuff from Denmark. A list of stuff made in Denmark is here.
A Wee Bit of Good News
Also, as the story notes, it looks like one of the proposed amendments that would take redistricting out of the hands of the legislature and put it into the hands of an independent commission did get enough signatures. It has to be reviewed by the state Supreme Court before going on the ballot.
In a similar situation is a proposed amendment telling the state to spend money from the tobacco settlement on anti-smoking education. Hey, it's a nice idea, but it, like about two thirds of the proposed and passed constitutional amendments I've see at the ballot box since moving to Florida, has no business in the state constitution. Proposed solutions: "Turn the rascals out!"
03 February 2006
Support Your Local Gay Bar
So, get your ass out there tonight. To a gay bar. Buy someone a drink. Buy a bartender a drink. Not into the "bar scene?" Get over it. Happily coupled? Take your sweety out for a beer. Don't drink booze? Have bottled water. Not gay? Just be cool about it.
I don't let the fact that some postal employee loses it stop me from going to the post office, and I'm not going to let the fact that some hate-filled psycho tried to off some gay people in a bar stop me from having a beer with other gay people.
See you there, tonight.
In tribute to our Danish friends -- and to other Europeans, male and female, having or having grown a pair, and to Muslims who put freedom of expression and respect for others above slavish obedience to religious and political leaders, and to all around the world who refuse to kowtow to thugs of each and every stripe -- here is the collection of purportedly offensive cartoon images of the prophet Mohammed himself, as collected by Mike Silverman. (Mike: "Freedom of expression sometimes sucks but it is better then the alternative.")
Yes, this is easy for me to do. If you don't do what's right when it's easy, how on earth will you do what's right when it's difficult?
Update: According to this Reuters story, expand the list to include Germany, Hungary, and Spain. Remember folks, these people are our allies, even if they have different priorities than we do.
01 February 2006
While His Ukulele Gently Weeps
While at the site, don't miss renditions of "City of New Orleans," "Enter Sandman" and the always popular "Pee Wee Where Have You Gone?" (among others).
On the Outs at In-N-Out
Sigh. First Carl's Jr. gets all mixed up with Hardees, now this. What next? A merger for In-N-Out with Braums?
Bumper Sticker of the Day
Why Try Saddam
Just as we shouldn't forget that the yahoo Islamacists who want to kill us are human, very human, we shouldn't forget that Saddam, Pol Pot, Stalin, even Hilter, were, too, very human. Their crimes -- alleged or proved -- are not evidence of their monstrocity, but evidence of their humanity. Or, to put it another way, their monstrocity is an aspect of their humanity we would rather soon forget, but there it is, reminding us of what might lurk inside us in the wrong moment, the wrong place, the wrong crowd.
A gentleman from my hometown of Centerville, Tennessee, Douglas T. Bates, III, wrote eloquently on both his father, who was a lawyer to German defendants at Dachau trials, and his son, who recently served his country in Iraq here. His father was a grand man with a deep voice that rattled the bones. I remember discusing the poem "Abu Ben Adhem" -- saved by grace? or saved by acts? -- with him one Sunday years ago when I actually used to preach in our hometown Methodist church when the preacher had to be out of town. I think he, like me, sided on acts, as un-contemporary Christian, as that might be.
The words of Doug's father, Douglas T. Bates, II, defense lawyer to Nazis at Dachau, are in italics in Doug's column at the Offenberger (Iowa) site:
The surest safeguard against totalitarianism is uncompromising adherence to the administration of justice, which does not humor heart and revenge, but rather protects men from them – and before I go too far, it is necessary for me to presume that the court recognizes the 40 men who are defendants in this trial as men, not beasts.So, we must ask ourselves: Do we support the Iraqis as they try Saddam as a pretense to execute him, or do we support them so that an honest rule of law can prevail. Even as I believe to the nth degree that he is guilty, I hope it remains the latter.
If we want to shoot Germans as a matter of policy, let it be done as such. But don’t hide the deed behind the court. If you are determined to execute a man there is no occasion for a trial.
In the long run, the idea of law is our best defense against Nazism in all its forms.