Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Friday, September 30, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

I made chicken tonight.



They're chicken-lovin' kitties.

Other aminals (yes, I know, it's a deliberate misspelling) besides giant squid in the news this week:

Doubtless we've all heard about the armed dolphins*, but BoingBoing brings us penguins mating in Falkland Islands minefields.

Likewise, we've all heard about gay penguins but Zed at MemeMachineGo has a story of lesbian swans.

And PZ Myers wishes us all a merry X-Mice.

*Update: Lis, who had the same idea as me today, says this has been largely debunked by Snopes.
Victim-Blaming, Comic Book Style

In case you thought silver-spoon Republicans are the only folks around telling others that if they don't pull themselves up by their bootstraps they're completely to blame for their fate, Erik Larsen calls even successful, working comic book professionals "pussies" and implies they should have guilty consciences because they don't do the kind of comics he thinks they should (i.e., they only stick to work-for-hire for companies that pay a decent wage to those pros lucky enough to have broken into the industry in the first place). Here's Peter David's response. You can probably figure out mine.
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Len, it's Feral Robotic Dogs. Nuff said.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

I admit it, sometimes these sites are useful or fascinating rather than silly, but that doesn't alliterate quite as nicely. Anyway, Augie passed along one I really like, that maps areas by ZIP code. I might start using this one at work a lot.
Challenging Reading

I don't read books like I used to, now that I no longer commute on public transit and most of my reading time is devoted to blogs and comics. But I read a lot when I was younger, particularly in school and then in my former job working for a book component printer so, in answer to the current survey making the blog-rounds, here are the Most Frequently Challenged Books in my particular reading past:

3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling (except for the most recent, as I'm waiting for the British paperback edition to come out)

9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

19. Sex by Madonna (submitted to the NY Book Show back when I was processing entries, so I had a chance to peruse it and gah, what a piece of pretentious crap)

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison

47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Note that these are just the books off the Top 100 list that I've read, and it's not meant to imply I retained anything. My fiction retention skills deteriorate further every year...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Which Side Are You On?

Excellent program tonight on our local PBS station, which has been giving all kinds of musical treats this week including Scorcese's Dylan docu No Direction Home and Best of the Beatles (where a surprisingly fascinating Pete Best and family got together some equally fascinating folks to talk about the pre-Love Me Do days when he was the fabbest of the four) which I blame in their entirety for my lack of blog catch-up of late. You really should try to see this one if you can, it's called Get Up, Stand Up: The Story of Pop and Protest, and it's far more comprehensive than I'd expected. I had it in my head that modern protest music started with Arlo's dad and the Hudson River savior, but shame on me for not recalling Joe Hill! The only real glaring omission - and perhaps this is purely from my viewpoint - was in pretty much ignoring the women's movement and feminist singers like Holly Near (or any mention at all of events like Lilith Fair or Rock for Choice). Another example of "women's issues" not being considered "protest issues" by the larger progressive movement, or just a matter of "not enough room to fit everything in"? Nonetheless, a very worthwhile program, and I'd also highly recommend the show's links page for anyone wishing to broaden their musical horizons.
Prairie Wind

Hear the entire new Neil Young album, as well as an interview with Young, here. Thanks to Tom Tomorrow for the link.
Online Comics

Okay, here's the thing about online-only comics. I'm willin' ta read 'em, I'm wantin' ta read 'em, but I'm not waitin' ta read 'em, because I forget. Unless the comics (a) are free and (b) have an RSS feed to which I can subscribe via Bloglines and thus be reminded/alerted when new pages come out, I probably won't remember to check in, and I'll bet I'm not the only one. My leisure time on the computer is about 70% Bloglines and blog-posting, 25% Diablo II and 5% Google searches and other miscellany. I just don't have the head for much else. So please, Carla and Kaja and the rest of y'all, do consider an RSS feed, or at least a reminder on your RSS-ready blogs when new pages come out...
Silly Site o' the Day

Well, the electronic thingie that controls my car's auto-unlock/lock mechanism needs a new relay thingie, which will take two or three day thingies to come in, but in the meantime the same mechanism now suddenly works both ways from within the car, so I'm a partially happy camper. But dang, the waiting room at the New Rochelle Hyundai service department had on Fox's morning infotainment show, so I've now got that kind of low-level headache you can only acquire by listening (despite my best efforts to tune it out in favor of magazine reading) to fluffy heads drone on about nothing for an hour and a half peppered by commercials for Mike Bloomberg that feature - I kid you not - "ordinary" New Yorkers talking about how they don't agree with his policies but they're going to vote for him anyway because at least he's honest and straightforward about pursuing those policies, or something like that. And part of me is thinking "they got nothing, have they?" even as the other part knows there will be voters (particularly among Fox viewers) who will fall for it. But enough about my morning so far - everybody Squip! Go on, you'll feel better. Via Scoobie Davis.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Googlicious

Happy 7th birthday, Google!



If you click on the image above you'll be taken to Blogsearch, which I've now set as the page onto which my home browser opens.
The New Left Hysteria?

As you probably know, the last week of September is the so-called Banned Books Week marked by the ALA, Amnesty International and lots of other good organizations. Turns out the name is a bit of a cheat - there have been no books banned in this country in years, the Beacon for Freedom of Expression's extensive database didn't even list any censored publications in this country after 1992, and while 21st century book-burnings in the US are a pretty sad state of affairs they are mostly the province of religious fanatics.

Now, I read the ALA's background page, which says,

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.

And I understand that "The positive message of Banned Books Week: Free People Read Freely is that due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection." Moreover, I'm certainly against censorship and the banning of books, and I agree that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Still, if I can play devil's advocate for a moment, shouldn't it be acknowledged in more than one dismissive paragraph that there's a bit of a difference between challenging a book and banning it, and that using a "slippery slope" approach to maintain vigilance might lead to a "crying wolf" mentality which dilutes the focus of actual anti-censorship efforts? I think if we're going to decry hysteria on the right and in the mainstream media (the "missing white woman" obsession, for instance), we ought to be more aware of our own tendencies in that direction, and the way we choose to describe what's really going on. (Hint: a library or bookstore deciding not to carry a book may be reprehensible but it's not "banning inclusion of" said book...)

I see the same tendencies at work when people talk about censorship in other arenas, then choose to define "censorship" in ways that cause me to think, as Inigo Montoya would say, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Censorship is not editing (well, usually it's not). Censorship is not deciding what you will and will not sell in a store you own. Censorship is not kicking a destructive troll off a message board or comment section. Many of these actions might be objectionable, but they're not censorship, and the more we misuse that word the less power it has, and the less prepared we are to fight it when it actually happens.

Just saying, y'know?
Silly Site o' the Day

Lousy tossy-turny night, boss coming back a week earlier than originally planned, have to get up an hour earlier tomorrow to take the car in so they can fix the auto-unlock, grumble mutter... maybe I should just take it out on the new Pen-Elayne graffiti wall (via Our Word)... drop by and leave your pithy scrawlings!

Monday, September 26, 2005

RIP Don Adams

Damn. I adored him in Get Smart and as Tennesee Tuxedo, as well as in the too-obscure-even-for-IMDB film The Madhouse of Dr. Fear, in which he starred and The Firesign Theatre costarred...
Silly Site o' the Day

I haven't followed music regularly since sometime in the '80s, so I've never heard of 4 Non Blondes, but this is a cute animation showing the character He-Man and others singing one of their songs. Via August Pollak.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

A Bombin' Nation by Robbie Conal, which he advertised on the Huffington Post, leaves a bit to be desired. If you're going to watch it, you might want to open QuickTime first instead of having it play in a browser; I opted for the latter and the top and bottom of the screen were cut off. Maybe it'll look better "40 feet high on building walls out of our bio-diesel vans," as is his plan.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

We went shopping earlier and noticed how many of the stores are stocking Christmas stuff already, right next to the Hallowe'en stuff. Robin finds this highly offensive in September, but I have to wonder if some stores in England aren't doing this as well... Anyway, I guess this means we should be thinking about 2006 calendars, and via Cory at BoingBoing you can now create your own calendar cube and print it out for use, provided your toner prints darker than mine does at work (where I couldn't tell the difference between the solid and broken lines)...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Time to get rid of some of my cat-photos backlog, with a couple poses, first from Amy:


and here from Datsa:


They look almost... harmless, don't they?
Your Parsha Reading for Today


The Poor Man presents the Parable of the Turd Sandwich. And for the haftorah, Billmon transcribes a press briefing from an alternate universe where it might be interesting to live.
Blame Game Redux

My Republican coworker said to me (she knows I have liberal leanings) "I wonder how they're going to blame this on Bush." I know her question was rhetorical, but the callous disdain behind it seemed quite real. Just saying, in the midst of these tragedies, this is the type of ground-level stuff we need to be aware of - the RNC talking points work very well to divide and conquer citizens.
Silly Site o' the Day

I don't know how Carla found it, and I'm not sure I want to: The P-Mate. I would imagine, for thinner women who actually had the balance and coordination to use it, it might come in quite handy in places where there are only urinals and no stalls... but you still wouldn't want a guy to see you whipping it out, would you?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Captain Equinox Strikes Again!

And just in time for Firesign chat tonight! Screwy Hoolie reminds us that autumn, my favorite season, arrives today at 6:23 PM Eastern time. I have just changed the picture on my desktop accordingly.
Not for Nothing, But...

Two (more) things that really get my goat lately about the liberal blogosphere:

1) You know, the guy in the White House has an actual record of what he has and hasn't done this past 4+ years. Most liberals would find that record abysmal. In criticizing this administration, can't we stick to all these known facts, and more are being revealed every day it seems, rather than go to the friggin' National Enquirer to dig up and delight in rumors that Bush is back on the sauce? It's positively unseemly the way some blogs are salivating over this, even to the point of making excuses for the supposed value of tabloid journalism! You can't have it both ways; either tabloids and sensationalized rumor-mongering are part of what's wrong with modern journalism, or everything is fair game and bloggers have no moral standing from which to criticize modern journalism.

2) Every now and then it's not a bad idea to explain a recurring gag. I subscribe to over 700 blogs via Bloglines, about half of which I try to read or at least skim regularly - and I'm not getting some of these in-jokes. Can liberal bloggers imagine at all how alienated newbies (and blogs are still a relatively recent phenomenon, there are new readers all the time) must feel trying to make heads or tails out of gags like "Holden Gets A Pony"? Anyway, thanks to Tena at First Draft for explaining this bit when I asked. Sometimes asking is all it takes, but one shouldn't have to, and I hope that liberal bloggers bear this in mind. We're the side that believes in inclusiveness, after all, it doesn't do for us to be overly exclusionary.
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Susie, it's George Bush's MSN in-box!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Linky Dumpy

Must-reads, must-reads! Bloggers not overly quoting other bloggers or New York Times columnists but actually stating their own thoughts, or pointing out stuff that not every other single blogger is saying! Yummy!

Rana at Frogs and Ravens has written two absolutely marvelous posts in the past week. The first, Us and Them, was in response to a well-known liberal blogger's efforts to put party above policy the way most Republicans seem to nowadays, and speaks to the idea of coalition rather than negatively labelling anyone who doesn't put party uber alles as "single issue." The second, In The Triangle?, is a follow-up of sorts that uses as its starting point a pseudo-self-congratulatory article in Salon about how influential political bloggers are in real-world politics and media. Like me, Rana is frustrated that blogs which aren't monotopical are somehow deemed less worthy of consideration, rather than more indicative of a well-rounded writer with varying interests. [I've been feeling the same about things said in the cultural arena as well; apparently even though I read hundreds of comics a month and my husband makes a living drawing them and I've been blogging for over three years which is far longer than most other comics folks, I don't mention comics often enough here to be considered a member of the comics blogosphere.]

Terry at I See Invisible People reminds us that today is the UN International Day of Peace. And speaking of that august body in which most sensible people still believe, Samhita at feministing revealed last week that Condoleeza Rice skipped out on attending a dinner date with other female foreign ministers to discuss women's rights. Speaking of the UN summit, Natalie Bennett points us to the picture that appeared in the Guardian with all the world's leaders, noting that "There are - count 'em - seven women out of the 159 total."

Today is also Lurker Day. If you're a Pen-Elayne lurker, thank you!, and feel free to introduce yourself in the comments if you so choose! Although that's, um, rather defeating the purpose of lurking...

Kathryn Cramer, who's been doing an amazing job with hurricane-related maps and other Katrina-aftermath resources, passes along the news of an Italian computer programmer using Google Maps to reveal the site of an ancient Roman villa.

Lastly, Randy Paul has a lovely personal reminiscence of the late Simon Wiesenthal. I was fascinated when he said, "The one thing that I always remembered about him and had the single greatest impression on me was his statement that 11 million people died in the Holocaust, not 6 million. It was always important to him that the horrific experience that he had the good fortune to survive was not perpetrated solely against the Jews, but against all decent people and against all humanity, hence the term crimes against humanity." I didn't realize until the moment I read that today that all the Wiesenthal stuff that was pushed on me in yeshiva which actually got me to more or less ignore the man after awhile was actually filtered through religious Jewish eyes (and rabbinic tongues) to mean exactly the opposite - that the Holocaust was somehow "special" to Jews alone and that's why we should Never Forget.
Silly Site o' the Day

Just so I can close the open tab, BSNews. I don't think it's related to the Randi Rhodes Show version...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Can someone advise me how I get the Baseball Library Text Linker (via Len) to tell me how to find a stat on the percentage of Yankees who have gotten thrown out at home this year as opposed to other teams' thrown-out-at-home percentages? I'm curious to test a theory I have that Luis Soho's third-base coaching ability is, shall we say, less than optimal...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Please pretend this is all done in pirate-speak; in fact, if you go here and copy the wording of any of my posts today, it'll obligingly translate it into pirate-speak for you. Here's a good way to support both TLAPD and FSM (as this is the culmination of Holy Pasta Week) if you're so inclined and have extra booty. And via Arthur, you can get your own pirate name here. Apparently I'm Mad Anne Bonney.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Just an Ordinary Guy

I have to disagree with the about-to-be-much-missed Frank Rich (while I'm not whining about the Times op-ed folks being behind a paid firewall as of tomorrow, I will miss reading this guy's stuff) when he says Katrina will prove the unmasking of George Bush. It's a nice thought, but pardon my cynicism in speculating that it's not going to happen for much of his base that would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich (see quote below), but still appreciate the image of "the kind of guy Joe Six-pack would like to have a beer with," as if a bumbling guzzler were the person you'd want as leader of the free world instead of a clear-headed wonk who's smarter than you. These are the same folks who look at pictures like this:







And they think, "well, good for him, he takes bathroom breaks and misbuttons his shirt and flop-sweats just like the rest of us ordinary folks!"

I was taken aback yesterday when Robin pointed out that my audioblog with MadKane wouldn't be understood by much of Bush's base as anything but an elitist in-joke because so many of them had probably never heard the original quote from Cheney, much less the response from Dr. Marble that elicited my quip as to whether I was famous yet. And I thought about it, and it may very well be true, and play into the base's carefully-cultivated assumptions that only liberal elitists use obscenities. But even if it's not, it still plays into their carefully-cultivated assumptions that conservative elitists are nothing more than regular good-ol'-boys who live on southern ranches (not New England estates as in reality) and cuss and drink too much and roll up their sleeves just like they (the base) fancy themselves to be. And that's kind of the definition of "damned if we do, damned if we don't" right there. And that's why the "image-mongering" that Frank Rich and many of us deplore is still working, and shows little sign to my mind of suddenly not working.

Update: What happens when spin-doctors go bad (read: good)? Via Robin, the Daily Mail's serialization of excerpts from Lance Price's diary and accompanying editorial.
Silly Site o' the Day

From Thomas in Germany comes Condi Lotto! I guess that's for all the people in Bush's base who'd "rather protect the possibility of being rich than face the reality of being poor," as Peter Stone wrote in 1776...

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Touched By His Noodly Appendage

As ye know, we're in th' middle of Holy Pasta Week, culminatin' on Monday, Talk Like a Pirate Day. As ye also know, believers in other religions have reported numerous instances of "holy" sightin's of what they perceive thar deities to look like (doubly amazin' since th' actual physical nature of those deities has never been described in thar holy books). Well, today I found this in me sink:

Some would say 'tis a bit of leftover linguini from last night's dinner, but I prefer to believe 'tis a genuine FSM manifestation, and I'm wonderin' if I should put it up on eBay...
Silly Site o' the Day

Won't you please, please buy Brian Sack's leather pants? (If you're not perusing Banterist on a regular basis you're missing a lot of smiles...)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

It's been a sleepy kinda day all day, but of course that's the cats' main activity anyway...



Bonus feature: Via an email from Hanan Levin, the cat massage.
Petrotheism

I know a lot of us are celebrating Holy Pasta Week (I'm doing this for dinner tonight), but Mark Fiore's animation this week shows us the unfortunate consequences of the wrong sort of worship (and the shunning of That of Which We Shall Not Speak*).
*conservation
The Lights are On, but Nobody's Home

Elise at After School Snack calls our attention to a very interesting blog entry by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams that mentions how the New Orleans warehouse district had its power switched on just in time for last night's dog and pony show: "The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions." Oh, surely it's all coincidence! You know, like Turdblossom being put in charge of reconstruction and Halliburton getting a no-bid contract on the cleanup (as well as how the original article on same can no longer be found at the Houston Chronicle)...
A New Euphemism is Born

That's it, from now on I'm just going to say "I can't [do this or that], I'm in the cow-shed." I've been in the cow-shed most of the week, which is a real pain when I have to, um, tend to the milking at 2 AM...
Silly Site o' the Day

Ah, an empty in-box and only a few long-term projects to work on... let's hope it stays that way for the rest of the day, at least. I thought I'd pass along something that's not only tasteless (so I'm told) but that I don't get because I've never participated in role-playing card games. Via Arthur, it's Katrina: The Gathering.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

That Old Gang of Ours

Heidi's in a reminiscent kind of mood. Me too; I really miss those old Friends of Lulu-NY meetings in the loft of this wonderful historical landmark building in the East Village where I used to work, back when all things were possible and Kim Yale was still with us. I miss her. I miss the East Village (heck, I miss working in Manhattan, period, but particularly working in the East Village). And I miss my old job (pure secretarial/admin, property management only in the form of minimal kitchen upkeep, and no personal servant stuff at all), alas long since outsourced when the company's lease was up and they moved support staff-less to midtown and the landlord sold the building to Cooper Union. I guess I just miss the overall sanity of my working life back then, not to mention my social life back when I was employed in a job and location that allowed me a social life... Sorry to vent, but I'm still sending out resumes daily with no responses at all in the past month, and it's just a tad frustrating...
You Should Have Thought of That Before We Left

Admit it, the minute you saw the Reuters picture of the Bush potty break note, you knew people would have fun PhotoShopping it. Here are a few versions I've found so far; undoubtedly I'll be adding to this list throughout the day.

NTodd

NorBizness

Jesus' General

Holden at First Draft has been gathering the piss-takes as well.

Nothing yet from either Worth1000 or Fark...

The world press is having a ball with this as well. Here are marginally amusing satires from The Spoof in the UK and Chortler in Canada. And the Scotsman just mocks it all, as Scotsmen are wont to do.
Non-Starters

Things I can't get worked up about that the rest of the liberal blogosphere apparently finds vital to discuss on the "it's all about me" theory:

NY Times charging to read online op-ed columnists - How dare they make us pay to read online what we'd pay to read on paper? We cry censorship, even though the paper's news reporting is still freely available! Don't they know it's more important for bloggers to do whatever they want with other people's creativity?

Garrison Keillor legally obligated to defend trademark - How dare his lawyers issue a blogger a cease and desist order for trying to make money off a wordplay dilution of the PHC trademark, even though if they don't they leave themselves open to losing said trademark?! We cry oppression of the little guy, and Keillor as a liberal should be ashamed of his lawyers complying with the law! Don't they know it's more important for bloggers to do whatever they want with other people's creativity?

Pledge ruled unconstitutional - Okay well, ya got me there. Most liberal bloggers aren't getting worked up over this either. But, I suspect, only because it doesn't impact us doing whatever we want with other people's creativity.
Silly Site o' the Day

Arrrrgh, mateys! As this be the beginnin' of Holy Pasta Week, I think it's only fittin' ta publicize this here Flying Spaghetti Monster game as much as possible. I got it from that landlubber PZ Myers, with whom I'm hopin' ta be celebratin' HPW in person in a few days...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Great catch-up day at work, but a little weird. Prospective tenant, no tenant, yes tenant, back to no tenant... wouldn't impact us except that said prospect is eyeing our space and we'd be moving offices across the hall in less than three weeks, which would mean painting and new carpeting and transferring the data servers and phones, only now it's off-again. Personally it hardly impacts me at all, and my post-vacation mellow has yet to be harshed. I'm even not dreading driving in the oncoming rain (that much), as it's suddenly gotten cloudy. My tank is half-full and gas prices have dropped slightly of late and anyway, even though some people can't afford their gasoline (today's silly site via Lisa Rein) we're still getting it damn cheap as opposed to what they're paying in England, where panicky queues are resulting in dry pumps...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

I guess you have to be a Parker/Stone puppet aficionado, but in case you are Augie passes along this KCNA Random Insult Generator.
A Cunning Plan

For those people who prefer their dimwitted Prince Georges fictional, this has just come on sale. Yes, I do have a wish list, why do you ask?
A Little Touch of Schmevolution in the Night

They had me at "taste like finch." One wonders if any mention of FSM will come up later in the week...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sierra Speakers

Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope talks about their just-ended national convention and links to some of the speeches, including the Al Gore keynote currently generating a lot of blogbuzz.
Milestone Notes

Congratulations to Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier on their engagement! And of course being comic book artists, they put out a little comic commemorating the event, which is very nifty indeed. (By the way, Raina's current gig is illustrating the Babysitters Club comics, so double congrats are due to her!)

Also, over at Corrente the Blog of Eight has now become the Blog of Eleven. And speaking of Liberal Coalition members, I really liked this post Michael at Musing's Musings did yesterday.

Lastly, it's not a milestone but the threatened-- er, promised audioblogs that MadKane did at Saturday's NY blogger gathering are now up at her site.
Silly Site o' the Day

Back to work; can you tell by the lateness of this post? Needless to say I haven't had the time to blog-skim either. Guess I'm not going to the Lulu do after all, not that I'll be in any mental shape for it after today. Nothing earth-shattering, just lots and lots of catch-up and organizing to take care of. I'm still fairly mellow from my week off, but this nasty little headache has started creeping up the left side of my forehead... I'm glad Budgie told me this site was a hoax, as there's nothing on the site to indicate it and the writing is way too small for my brain to process...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four More Years

Sorry I didn't post this earlier, but I've been Away From Keyboard for much of my last vacation day. Robin created this original a few years ago for a comic called One Nation, which was never published, but the NYC Comic Book Museum took the piece for its Heroes Among Us exhibit.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

The work is called Hope Takes Wing, and I know it's getting harder and harder to hope for anything positive with the folks we have currently running the country, but we need hope and love and laughter and joy in order to continue onward and be able to carry out the actions which will lead to better days. I will never stop hoping for our eventual reconciliation with our fellow Americans and with the citizens of the rest of the world.
Five Days with Katrina

Via my husband, an amazing slideshow by a New Orleans resident who worked in the Latin Quarter.
Silly Site o' the Day

Hard to be silly on Remembrance Day, it feels a little too trivial. Then again, if the people in power insist on being silly by remembering the horrific events of four years ago by organizing an oxymoronic restrictive "freedom walk" and concert (see, we should have listened to them when they warned us "freedom isn't free," not to mention "war is peace" and "ignorance is strength") rather than something more appropriate like, say, a mass candlelight vigil or a somber ceremony at the Pentagon or WTC site, who are we to gainsay that trend? Other than by, you know, blogging about their atrocities every day of our lives. Anyway, in honor of Julia's yellow raspberry bush about which I wrote last night, and via Hanan Levin, it's the Fruit Salad Tree Company, subsequently debunked by the Beeb (also via Hanan).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Bérubéfest 3: The Quest for Pizza

Yes, another NY blogger gathering in Julia's beautiful backyard, which means another excuse for me to take pictures of some of your favorite bloggers! But first, berries!


Julia has a yellow raspberry bush, which appears to yield pinkish berries. (I'd say "peach colored" but I don't want to mix fruity metaphors...) I love raspberries, and if I ever have a yard of my own I want a cutting from this bush. Raspberries are voracious and will take over just about anything else, so it's not as if I (with my "black thumb of death") would even have to tend it!


We were the first guests to arrive, but thank goodness Barb of Mahablog (shown here with Robin) wasn't far behind. I keep trying to be fashionably late, but I have this punctuality thing I haven't worked out yet... and I've gotten very good at driving to Julia's place. Barb and Rob had a nice discussion about British food and such, as she'd just gotten back from a holiday in Wales.


Roy Edroso has the nicest smile, doesn't he? And a wicked sense of humor, which you know if you're a regular Alicublog reader.


The guest of honor, Michael Bérubé, and Jen of The News Blog. An even nicer shot of Jen appears below. We had some great conversations, particularly about food blogging!


Here's Roy again, talking with MadKane and her husband Mark. Somewhere in the background, I would imagine, is Ann aka Iocaste of Fantasy Life, who preferred her picture not be put online but I wanted to plug her blog anyway.


Madeleine Begun Kane is one of the most photogenic people I know, and her birthday is tomorrow so everyone run over to her blog and wish her a happy birthday! Like my longtime friend Leah, Mad had the now-rotten luck to be born on September 11, and as with Leah, my comfort level with her is really high and we fell to talking right away. We share klutz karma too, did I mention that? Robin says that we get along so well because Mad is the yin to my yin. Oh, and she taped a lot of our voices for her audioblog, so stay tuned to a future MadKane podcast to hear it all! (My contribution was to suggest an anatomical impossibility to our Vice President and then ask if I was famous yet, like Dr. Ben Marble. You know, on the Internet everyone is famous for 15 seconds...)


This is that "even nicer" picture of Jen I promised. In the background are Seth "Talking Dog" Farber and his wife; even nicer pictures of the Farbers and their Loquacious Pup below!


Here you go, Seth on the right and Scott Lemieux of Lawyers, Guns and Money on the left.


And you can't have a do at Julia's without kid pictures! Here's the Loquacious Pup and Her Majesty (lovely child of Julia and Beleaguered Husband), mugging for the camera as usual!


And here's Mrs. Talking Dog and one of Julia's neighbors. Julia has the best neighbors, I really want to move into her neighborhood!!


We decided to take off just about 9, when who should arrive but Steve Gilliard, also of The News Blog?! I'm really glad I finally met him, albeit too briefly; I've been hoping to meet him for, oh, about two years now...


I spotted a praying mantis on our steps when we got home, and hey, since I had a camera out anyway...

Thanks again to Julia for her wonderful hostessing; as usual, I had a ball!
Homegrown Ayatollahs

Don't remember which blog led me to this Bill Moyers address this week at Union Theological Seminary, but it's well worth your time to read, particularly if you care about how the erosion in the separation of church and state in this country affects actual religious (as opposed to religious-for-show) people. Chilling stuff: "the country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is—and they are driving American politics, using God as a a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation, energy, regulation, social services and so on... Their viral intolerance—their loathing of other people’s beliefs, of America’s secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge—has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power."
Silly Site o' the Day

Okay, this is more than slightly creepy, especially in light of all the newly-homeless people in this country - Bumvertising? Via Hanan Levin.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What Can't Brown Do For You?

Just a reminder of what I wrote Tuesday about cronyism being a favorite scapegoating procedure of the Bush administration, which has made it a regular practice to appoint unqualified, inexperienced or downright hostile people to important positions. Brown hasn't even been sacked, he's just been conveniently scapegoated to satisfy the Coliseum attendees' thirst for blood and divert attention away from other sleights of hand going on in and around New Orleans...
Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Yeah, I've been taking lots of cat pictures this week.


We've had the windows open a lot now that it's September, so the cats have taken to the living room recliner...


...as well as the windowsills. But of course...


...they're not above coming into the computer room and cutely begging when they think it's time to be fed.
Silly Site o' the Day

So in my vacation mode I completely forgot to check my email accounts for the last few days, and now see that I had an interview query on Tuesday. Oh well, I guess it wasn't meant to be this time around. I can probably still take off a morning or afternoon at short notice for the rest of the month, but it won't be as easy as preplanned vacation time. At least I'm set for cat blogging, coming right up! But first, this is very, very wrong, and you have Augie D'augie to blame.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Thanks again to everyone who wished me a happy third blogiversary yesterday. Let's hope for even better blogging in Year Four (which actually translates into "getting a job that doesn't leave me utterly spent mentally and emotionally just about every day"). Ideally I'd like to surpass INSIDE JOKE's 10-year run in the '80s, but considering that was published monthly then hexaweekly and I didn't do all the writing myself I probably have already... Onward! Today's Silly Site recommendation comes via Michael Schraub at Blog of a Bookslut - it's Dictionaraoke, and it's so, so wrong!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Perspective

I haven't seen anyone quoting this in the blogosphere, so I thought I'd pass it on. While New Orleans is certainly "Ground Zero" in the post-Katrina tragedy, we shouldn't forget that the actual disaster has affected around 90,000 square miles, "nearly as large in area as Great Britain." As in, the entirety of GB, not just England or Wales. I'm sorry to see people starting to burn out on this tragedy (understandably or no), there's still a ton of work that needs to be done.
The Greater Whole

[This is my entry in the Arrival Day 2005 blogburst.]

For as long as I can remember, I've been a "joiner." When I was a kid it was extra-curricular stuff like choirs and bands and BBYO and summer day camp (where I stayed on for years afterwards as a counselor) and the world of penpals and teenybopper mags and fan clubs, then in college it became APO and Queen's Chorale and whatever Bill-Dale Marcinko dreamt up from year to year, then afterwards it was Uncle Floyd and sf fandom and apas and zines and comics fandom and Firesign fandom and the world gradually went digital and it was CompuServe fora and mailing lists and Usenet and now message boards and blogs. And for each hobby-du-jour I seem to immerse and invest myself rather heavily, but I've also found through the years that a number of these hobbies seem to intersect with one another from time to time like a Venn diagram.

Which I don't find at all surprising, as many people are drawn to these creative hobbies for their communitarian aspects. It's also why many folks who aren't as geeky as me find comfort in religion. It's very empowering to know that you're not the only one who believes in or has passion for something, that lots of others out there also "think like you do." And I suppose it's what attracts folks to politics as well, the idea that by pulling together we can make our communities, our country, our world a better place than it was before.

That there is strength in numbers, in communities of like-minded people, tends to frighten those in power (particularly the current batch), because ordinary citizens outnumber them greatly and they achieve and maintain that power in large measure due to the tactic of "divide and conquer." This kind of scapegoating can have tragic consequences, as we know, but at the very least internecine squabbling takes power away from groups of ordinary people acknowledging their common humanity and focuses undue attention on the fighting itself (whether physical or verbal) rather than on what needs to be accomplished. Every now and then we can shake ourselves out of this media-induced lethargy, particularly when tragedy strikes as we've all seen this past week, but it isn't long before we pit ourselves against each other again for the amusement (and ultimate benefit) of the most privileged classes.

Sometimes it's an uphill struggle to remember that we're all human beings, we all have the same basic needs and desires and dreams and we ought to be afforded the same basic rights and dignity and chances to fulfill those dreams. Being outward-directed is usually a good start in the direction of reconnecting with the community spirit; it's one reason why, stuck as I am in a suburb-based soul-sucking job that affords me little leisure-time energy and mobility when I'm not on vacation, I've taken to reading others' blog entries far more often than writing my own. I've always maintained that just about everyone I know is more interesting than I am, and I hope I'll always feel that way. Thank you all for being a part of my greater whole.
Milestone Notes

Today is the third anniversary of this here blog. Here's my first post.

Tomorrow is the third blogiversary of Morgaine's blog The-Goddess.

Michele seems to be putting You Will Anyway on hiatus for now, and Jeff Alworth is back with a new blog called Low on the Hog.

I'll be back with today's Arrival Day post after I run a few errands.

Oh, and I've finally caught up again with my blogroll, for probably the first time in 3+ weeks. I love vacation!
Heroes of New Orleans

Jabbar Gibson, of course

Charmaine Neville

Deamonte Love

Rahim, as told by Karen Zipdrive, one of many blog heroes giving of themselves to help Katrina survivors in need - others include Lindsay Beyerstein and Joanna

Who are some of your NOLA heroes?
Silly Site o' the Day

Hey, remember back in July when I linked to a ditty about the proposed national ID card in the UK, sung to a Gilbert & Sullivan tune? Here's an Oz-related one called "The Swizz of the Cards," via Cory at BoingBoing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

RIP Bob Denver

I was a little too young for Maynard G. Krebs, and a little too mature for Gilligan's Island, but I always liked the guy anyway.
Parts of a Greater Whole

Jonathan Edelstein reminds us that tomorrow is the annual Arrival Day commemoration, and the suggested blogburst topic is "on American Jews as part of a larger whole." As it's also Pen-Elayne's third blogiversary, and as doing a blog is also very much about being part of a larger whole, I'll certainly be participating, and hope others decide to join in.
Myth-Understanding

Robin and I both found a lot to talk about after reading this essay by Maria in Crooked Timber about how Europeans view America. I was surprised at how much I still take for granted as an American, even though I'm married to a Brit. I had a particularly strong reaction to her sentence, "I found it almost unbelievable that T.V. Americans seemed to drink orange juice every day when we had it just for Christmas, went shopping just for fun and could afford to keep their enormous fridges constantly full." I didn't even realize that, until very recently (the last couple decades or so), most Europeans had what we here call mini-fridges, and that many considered OJ (and oranges) a luxury item.

I can't help but wonder if this sort of unconscious conspicuous consumption isn't what the radical right cabal currently in power is really referring to (and encouraging citizens to covet and protect) when it uses buzzwords like "freedom." It would certainly seem to fit, as one of their first exhortations after 9-11 was not to take care of each other but to go shopping (and not the fundraising variety either), and disproportionate media concern in Katrina's aftermath has been paid to the looting of stores where, as Julia points out, goods are presumably insured anyway. If uncontrolled hyper-capitalism is indeed the new definition of "freedom" (rather than, say, those freedoms enshrined in the First Amendment) - and it would appear to be ingrained in many Americans' systems now, given that Katrina victims in New Orleans believed they needed a ticket or some sort of payment in order to be rescued! - one begins to see why a lot of folks around the world may just resent American citizens' obliviousness to how the rest of the world works and consequently "hate us for our freedom."
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Cory at BoingBoing, a fascinating bit on people "remixing" the Walk/Don't Walk signs ubiquitous in most urban centers, including a link to Scott Garner pedestrian signal animations.
Props to Olbermann

As my husband notes, he came out and said what everybody's been thinking. Watch the video (via Crooks & Liars, natch). C&L also has the notorious Barbara Bush audio.
Another Clueless Analyst Heard From

As previously mentioned, Rob and I have been playing a lot of Diablo II lately, and spent way too much leisure time yesterday making a spreadsheet of all the special items we've acquired (and creating characters who exist for the sole purpose of storing those items, but never mind). So we're always on the lookout for news about Blizzard, the company that created Diablo. According to this article, and disappointingly for me because I don't have the desire nor disposable cash for MMOs (Massively Multiplayer something-or-other), they seem to be concentrating more on stuff like World of Warcraft than on games you can buy once and play by yourself if you want to and download free updates for.

But that's not the kicker of the article. That comes in the last paragraph, where a research analyst for a securities firm (a job that just screams "B-ship") makes the following pronouncement about the MMO phenom's popularity: "It may continue to grow in China, but not in Europe or the U.S. We don't need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn't work in the U.S. It just doesn't make any sense." Well sure, it wouldn't make any sense to someone with no imaginary outlet!
The Blame Game

Just a small addendum to add to the Michael Bérubé quote I passed on here: it's worth considering that one of the reasons the radical right-wing administration currently in power deliberately appoints people to head agencies who are incompetent and/or ignorant and/or downright contemptuous of those agencies is to afford themselves convenient scapegoats when things go wrong (as the radicals know will happen when unqualified people are given these jobs).

Update: Sayeth Krugman, "the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Sorry, didn't realize I hadn't posted. A true goof-off day for me, catching up on some blog skimming and reading comics with the telethon and baseball game in the background and playing Diablo and taking photos of Datsa and Amy to stock up on my cat-blogging entries. Say, did you know that Wednesday is Pen-Elayne on the Web's third blogiversary? I'll try to be all caught up by then. Well, either that or sleep. Better not watch any late-night cable movies, which I shouldn't have to anyway thanks to the Late Night Cable Movie Plot Generator (via Tony at Mah Two Cents).

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Silly Site o' the Day

Apparently the "Big Ad" thing from Australia to which I linked yesterday has been around long enough to inspire parodies. And I thank "Ed Small" for reminding me that the comments section isn't just for wingut drive-bys, as he directs us all to the Muscle Beer Small Ad.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Boobies and Boo, Bees! A RenFaire Pictorial

Okay, I didn't get a lot of boobie pictures, as that's not really my thing. But trust me, lots of women were letting things hang out that perhaps should have been better supported. It's very much like going to a sf convention with slightly different costumes and way more fresh air. So, let's get the dog and pony show started!


What, you think I'm kidding? When I say dog and pony show, I mean dog and pony show!


And the band played on... that can't be easy on stilts...


We made it in time to see the beginning of the parade.


The Queen awaits her turn to join the pageantry. More parade pictures below:









But we were really there to see my bestest female friend Leah, as we do every year, and celebrate her birthday, which falls next Sunday (yes, 9/11). She looked resplendent as usual, although I can't seem to snap a photo of her without her squinting or blinking.


I'd brought the otter-head walking stick I'd inherited from Robin's mum, and as Leah had an otter pin on her purse it was natural that the two would get together.


As has become our tradition, we went to Leah's shop of choice for her birthday gift, this year a lovely hat to go with her outfit. For some reason this made her try a "come hither" pose. It works much better in person than in this photo.


We then fulfilled another tradition by buying me cheap ($5) earrings, got a bite to eat (turkey leg, yum!) and headed over to one of the pubs for a couple glasses of mead, as I knew I'd have to drink fairly early to get the alcohol out of my system in time to drive home. One of Leah's friends played a very cool 3-stringed instrument for acquaintances and passers-by:


As usual, the combination of bright sun (although it was blessedly dry today) and bees prompted us to take our leave and wander about the "Shire," as the Rennies call Sterling Forest. Here are a few pictures I took on our sojourn.


A "fairy family," I guess.


The first sign of autumnal foliage!


Camels! Cool!


This little girl riding a camel could have been me 40 years ago, except I, um, don't ride camels.

We came back to the pub and Leah and friends were still there. I snapped a photo of a samurai wookiee (well, look at those feet!):


Then we headed down to the Rogues Gallery for some sausage and song stylings. The sausage goes without saying.



Leah was just posing, but Robin was eating the hell out of his sausage.


We stuck around for the Wyrd Sisters' set, but between the exhortations to buy CDs (there are so many cottage industries built around and by Rennies it's mind-boggling) and uncomfortable similarities to sf fandom (I have no patience at all for anyone who refers to people outside of their little cliques as Mundanes) and probable deydration from sitting in the sun too long and particularly the bees, we figured it was time to leave.


And so our leave we took for another year.

I'd have liked to have been a little more awake and alert for the hour-long drive between Tuxedo and da Bronx, but it's a fairly easy journey as well as one of the loveliest and most picturesque to be had. I adore Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties, the tree-lined highways and gentle hills and mountains as you go further north. I'm hoping to take a few more trips "upstate" during the next couple months, one of the best times of year to be in NY.

We made one pit stop at the local supermarket for some sundries, where I was also able to fulfill my part of the Skippy Challenge by donating $10.01 to the Red Cross to aid in the aftermath of Katrina, and I have the receipt to prove it:


I'm very glad that area supermarkets make this so easy. Got home in time to see the Yanks win, and I'm happy but tired.
For Richer, For Poorer

Via Patrick, what being poor is.

And from Michael Bérubé, why the radical right currently in charge of deliberate mismanagement of everything from our current disaster to our children's future is Not Your Father's GOP. My favorite spot-on excerpt: "Modern Republicans... don’t like government... Consequently, when they get into government, they quickly fill its halls with two kinds of people: people who are charged with the task of destroying the agencies they run, and people who have no idea whatsoever about how their agencies work."
Silly Site o' the Day

Insomnia sucks, particularly the night before a somewhat lengthy (for me) drive. Better go easy on the mead at RenFaire today. Robin, on the other hand, can have as much beer as he wants. Speaking of which, as Amy points out, this is indeed a big ad; it's also the best use of the O Fortuna music from Carmina Burana that I've encountered in years. Oi Oi Oi!

Friday, September 02, 2005

FYI

I've just deleted a few comments on a thread that got nasty. I'd apologize to readers that a couple anonymous and apparent right-wing idiots tried to do a hit-and-run, but it's not my fault they're idiots. I hope to make this my last word on the subject, as I have found that a mere mention of trolls only gives them the attention they desperately crave and it's my habit to delete stupid, pointless and cruel comments without even acknowledging their existence.
Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Maybe it's because they sense I'll be home for awhile (give or take the RenFaire tomorrow), but the cats have been strangely affectionate this evening. Amy can't get enough of my lap:

(Okay, that's the blue blanket covering my lap when I sit up in bed, but still...)

And Datsa was very cuddly until he decided to scratch me, which is why he's at arm's length here...

I suppose I ought to go put some Savlon on that scratch...