Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Maintenance Note

Just joined both Buzznet (a photoblogging service) and Clix; clickable links now on sidebar.
So That's What the Google Highlighter Icon is For...

I didn't realize I could use my Google toolbar to do a page search! TBogg gives a good example of one such search. Wow, it's a lot easier than using IE's "Find (on this page)" pulldown search.
The Rooster No Longer Crows at Midnight

Aristide has resigned and fled Haiti. Wonder what'll happen to Fanmi Lavalas now. Not to mention the rest of the country...
The Great Leap Forward

Happy Leap Day! Click on Google's picture below to get all sorts of Leap Year info.

Mark Evanier reminds us that today is supposedly Superman's birthday, and makes my head hurt asking how that could be. But I forgive him because he'll be real-time blogging at the Oscars tonight and has given his predictions as well, and I pretty much agree with almost all his picks. I think American Splendor or LotR might get adapted screenplay; I also believe My Architect has a good chance of getting Documentary Feature (although I agree with Mark that it'll probably be The Fog of War); and my pick for original song winner is "Into The West" from LotR, although I think both nominated Cold Mountain songs have a good chance too. My pick for the two categories Mark didn't guess on: For Cinematography it'll probably be John Seale for Cold Mountain (as LotR isn't nominated); and for Editing I think it's going to be LotR. I also like Mark's other predictions on what might happen. I wonder if the possible surprise Michael Moore appearance will maybe combine a couple of Mark's musings - like Billy Crystal leading Michael Moore out on stage bound and gagged by Teamsters... or maybe marrying Moore. ;) Should be fun!

Update: Here are the results of the RAZZIE® Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards, both held yesterday.
Silly Site o' the Day

It's HalfBakery, where strange ideas spawned in the dark recesses of even stranger people's minds... well, pretty much stay there but are also recorded for posterity. Have a browse, there's enough to keep one occupied for quite some frittered-away time.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Anatomy of a Sketch

I may have mentioned in my report on last year's Mid-Ohio Con that I'd asked our friend Alan Davis to do an Aquaman sketch for Laura Gjovaag in thanks for her guest-blogging for me at that time, in order to keep daily content on Pen-Elayne. As it turned out, while I contributed my $20 to the ADA as payment for the sketch, Alan didn't have time to do it at the con, and opted to pencil it in his hotel room after we were all back in New York. He presented it to me a few days later when he and Heather met us for our anniversary dinner. What with the waves of on-and-off illnesses that have dogged us all ever since, Robin didn't finish inking it until January, and I wasn't able to schlep to a post office until a few weeks ago (too late even for Laura's birthday!). But the package finally got into her hands, and Laura has now posted that sketch on her blog.
Passionate Discourse

At Corrente, the farmer takes a look at Mel Gibson's Ash-hole Wednesday, using more amusing descriptions of That Film than you can shake a torture device at (terming it a "furious blood squirting spaghetti western passion play" and a "holy roller snuff flick" among other things), and asks,
So, if the case can be made that pretty much no-one this side of a medieval leech gnawed bloodletting has ever been under the impression that being hoisted upon a crucifix was a day at the beach, then what in God's name was the point of making a movie that surrealistically depicts, and aggravates, in apparently exacting autopyslike cinematic detail, the intricate physical agonies of being slowly and unmercifully flayed and strung up in such a manner?
As if in response, PinkDreamPoppies' Fundamentalist obsession with the Crucifixion (part two of his exploration "Why are some people obsessed with the Crucifixion?") delves into the whys and wherefores of this crucifixation and makes a fine companion piece.

Update: And Jesse puts it very well in a comment to his essay Nail Nail Nail for Justice: "If you need to see Jesus bleed, a lot, in order to understand the magnitude of his sacrifice (which wasn't in the pain, but instead in the resurrection), then this films raises a lot more questions for me about how you view Christianity than it's going to answer for a lot of believers."
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

Probably not posting a lot this weekend; I think I caught Anne's cold. Today was supposed to be the start of Apartment Hunting but I'm feeling too run-down to make the realtor calls. And I have too many muscle aches to stay at the computer reading or blogging for very long. Rob and I have both been like this on and off for the better part of, well, all winter, and it's getting a bit frustrating. Fortunately there are some lovely movies and two awards shows on this weekend, plus a whole box-full of comics to try and plow through in addition to around 3 months' worth of my local weekly paper. Happy birthdays and blogiversaries and births and the like to anyone who's been celebrating milestones that I've missed whilst falling behind...
Silly Site o' the Day

Had a great conversation last night with an old friend from my zine days, Anne Bernstein, who told me about the strange case of Derek Dahlsad, who decided to put his WalMart purchase receipts on the web and apparently spawned a whole community of fascinated readers. Alas, the site has died due to Dahlsad's account being pulled for reasons unknown to him but about which I suppose other fascinated readers can now speculate.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Busy day at work and then the MoCCA function afterwards, so I just got home. But I made it in under the cat-blogging wire! Datsa took to Amy's perch, the cable box, earlier this week, which didn't sit that well with the scowling little girl:
Maintenance Note

I've added a "Comics/Animations" section to the sidebar, between "Humor/Satire" and "New Yawk." At this point it's alphabetical by cartoonist/animator's first name, and it's still in its infancy, so feel free to suggest additions (that of course goes for any of the sidebar categories). Also, Ampersand's blog is temporarily housed elsewhere (noted on sidebar) while he changes servers, and Avedon's blog is back as her provider problems seem to be behind her.
Silly Site o' the Day

From Ken DeBusk, my Firesign Chat friend: Huh? Sayeth Ken, "I went through the entire site, failing only to fill out the 'contact' info. I suspect it's a joke, but a lingering doubt remains that it's real :) If so, when (IF???) I grow up, I'd like to work there!" Me too! By the way, Firesign member Phil Austin was at last night's Chat, it was great to catch up with him...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Pseudo-Irony of the Day

Via Lambert at Corrente: Smith & Wesson's New Chairman Resigns After Reports He Committed Armed Robberies. The jokes practically write themselves sometimes, don't they?
Primary Task

Our local councilman was on the subway platform this morning, handing out info about him being a NYC delegate pledged to John Edwards in next Tuesday's NY State primary. So it got me to thinking, who if anyone is supporting Dennis Kucinich, my candidate of choice (after all, if you can't vote your personal preference in a primary, as opposed to compromising for the perceived greater good in a general election, what's the point of democracy?), and I decided to do a little Googling. Did you know that Kucinich's name appears first on the ballots? Did you know that among his many endorsements is the Green VP candidate from Nader's 2000 run? Not-even-semi-prominent local politicians for Kucinich include NY State Democratic Committee Leader Robert Ginsberg and former Community Board 6 member Michael Hirsch, but that seems to be about it. His non-politician endorsements are more impressive, but I guess I'm kinda bummed that like-minded New Yorkers such as Mark Green don't seem to be giving official nods (although anyone going to the Book on Bush reading tomorrow might want to raise this subject with Green, in addition to asking why he's scheduled this reading for the same night as the Greg Palast party... not that I'll be attending either as I have comics-related plans).
Gems from the Ex

"I've officially decided that I'm going to care more about baseball this year than politics, since the Red Sox can always be depended upon to break my heart, while both Democrats and Republicans only confuse me."

"I don't know if Greenspan even knows (or cares) how the things he does or says affect the non-investors in this country. Perhaps the next President might choose a Fed Chairman who hasn't lost touch with how Real Folks live."

"I can't believe that Clear Channel is shocked or surprised that Stern wouldn't 'tone down' his routine because of the threat of FCC fines. The guy has made his career of pushing the limits."

All these goodies and more over at Parting Shots. My former husband has been on a real roll lately; go Steve!
When Blue is Green

Once again I'm in complete agreement with Mark Evanier, this time with his opinion regarding Clear Channel dismissing Howard Stern from the six CC stations which carry his show due to one of his callers using the "n" word and other offensive crap when asking Stern's guest (Paris Hilton ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon) sexual questions. Let alone the obvious fact that, while Stern's inciteful and may encourage sexist and racist thinking, he probably still can't be held legally responsible for some of his listeners being creeps - or bad comedians, as this listener no doubt he was scoring some points by being "raunchier than thou" (as Mark has mentioned in the past, stuff like this tends to attract people who "just want the spotlight for a little while" and figure their sudden access to a mouthpiece is All About Them rather than about the show they're listening to) - the thing is, it's only six markets out of at least 50 (that number was from back in late 2000), and if CC chooses not to reinstate Stern's show in those markets someone else is bound to pick him up, because he's still a draw (particularly when he's involved in controversy). In terms of trends, Mark observes of CC, "Somehow, I can't see them imposing decency standards on the rock music business and still retaining their colossal market share." And in essence that's what it's all about, and what the MTV halftime show is all about, and what the vast majority of advertainment has been about nigh unto forever. Sex sells, and controversy sells. Blue material rakes in the green. In our hyper-capitalist society, the quest for market share will almost always outweigh both professed prudence and prudery.

Update #1: Digby ties this in brilliantly with the gay-marriage "issue" over at American Street.

Update #2: And a Billmon reader who listened to the show in question has an interesting report: "In the segment leading up to [the] one that got him in trouble he was on a brillant satirical riff... that ended with him telling the audience that Bush had to go and that he was a one-termer just like his father. It was overtly anti-bush in tone... He was pulled the next day." (And Lis Riba corroborates this in her comment!) Coincidence that the corporation run by Bush buddy Lowry Mays only now suddenly discovers that Stern's, oh horrors!, a shock jock?

Update #3: Digby has some of the transcript from that show featuring Stern talking about Al Franken's book.
Silly Site o' the Day

I guess you'd have to know what Top Trumps are, and remember that "fags" is a British slang term for cigarettes, in order to fully appreciate Top Trumps Nasty Fags and not think it's some sort of anti-gay manifesto. And I don't even want to think about the referrer hits I may get from that last phrase...

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A Gay Old Time

If you're not yet talked out over the gay-marriage "issue," you could do worse than to head on over to Peter David's blog and join in the comments. And while you're at it, please send some positive mojo to Peter's family regarding his niece Emma. Update: Wil's got it going on too (about 250 comments and growing as I type this), and I guess he's right about the "Southern strategy" of divide and conquer; I honestly didn't expect the MSNBC poll to be so evenly divided...
Silly Sites o' the Day

In honor of the implements-of-torture jewelry masquerading as some sort of paeons to either Mel Gibson or Jesus (it's so hard to tell them apart today!), here are lots of sites featuring religious kitsch. Very equal-opportunity; I quite liked the "No Preaching" door plaque and the Job Action Figure with Boils (collect the set to put right next to your Shiva action figure!).

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Final Judgement

Gaiman vs. McFarlane has been settled for good by the Seventh Circuit Appeal Court, and you can read Neil's summary here on his blog.
The 10-Day Wonder

Since neither of us can figure out how to make my sidebar design correspond with my sidebar content rather than my blog text content, Laura suggested I lengthen my blog page to show the last 10 days' worth of posts rather than a week's worth. Seems to be working okay so far, although I can't help but feel it's a temporary fix at best...
Coming Out Parties

With all this talk from Bush about enshrining bigotry in the form of a Constitutional amendment, and his use of said bigotry as a campaign cornerstone, the timing couldn't be better for famous figures and role models to speak out in favor of equality and justice for all. After all, culture is usually the purview of the entertainment world in the first place, and now that the administration has chosen to make the personal into the political it's even more appropriate for gays and the starights who support them to speak out on this issue in public venues. With any luck we'll get an earful of this speech at the Oscars this Sunday, and maybe even a few marriage proposals; but I think it'd also be swell, with spring training beginning next week and Opening Day right around the corner, for at least one courageous currently-active baseball player to come out and stand up for his full rights as a human being and American citizen. It probably wouldn't hurt if he were a Republican and/or a member of the Texas Rangers ballclub, but hey, as far as I'm concerned any famous and looked-up-to Major Leaguer will do. This issue is moving faster than a speeding bullet and gaining more momentum than a locomotive; if not now, when? After all, Bush's team is even using baseball metaphors for his campaign now.
Movie Time

With both the Independent Spirit Awards and the Academy Awards coming up this weekend, it's a really good time to check in with Jeff Alworth as Notes on the Atrocities presents Movie Week! First up, musings on LotR, American Splendor and the current state of the movie business. (Update: And Mark Evanier will be live-blogging during the Oscars!) I don't know if Jeff will be tackling the Ash Wednesday movie, but I just wanted to say that, based on the reviews that have started to appear, I agree with Lis that parents should keep their kids far, far away from this gruesome spectacle, even if it is historical fiction (and some might say is even based on historical fiction ;) ). One day, when I was in yeshiva, my classmates and I were ushered into the gym and made to watch Nazi propaganda films, featuring shots of soldiers shoveling the bones of dead Jews into piles, etc. Many girls ran from the room screaming or crying hysterically; quite a few of us had lost relatives to Hitler's Final Solution madness, and for all we knew we could be watching our great-aunts' bones. I can't remember specifics about the films any more, a'danken Got, but I do remember that ever since that horrid day I can no longer read about the Holocaust, watch any dramatic depictions of it, even talk about it without getting agitated in very short order. It is not doing children any sort of service to make them watch this sort of extended trauma, particularly as part of a religious education; trust me, I've been there.
Animal Statues in My Soup

Via Pandagon (where else?), this item about Washington DC gearing up for the public art contest/display PandaMania, sponsored by PartyAnimals, which did much the same thing two years ago with elephant and donkey statues. (Update: It made Ana Marie Cox's Wonkette blog too, complete with a picture.) I confess, I rather like these public art shows; NYC was one of the cities taking part in the CowParade a few years back (although I seem to have missed last year's DOGNY entirely), and when Robin and I visited Toronto in 2000 the Moose in the City display was in full force. I must imagine other cities have done this sort of thing - for instance, I found sites for NC State U's Red Wolf Ramble and Cedar Rapids' Overalls All Over (okay, Grant Wood's "American Gothic" couple aren't technically animals but it's the same idea). But not everyone thinks "the new civic art craze" is a good thing, and some term it "more public relations than public art." But certain specialty manufacturers are very happy, like FiberStock Inc. which publicizes at least four civic art animal projects here.
The Fatness of Tuesday

Everything you want to know about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, except why their countdown clock is still going if today's the day. Probably because I'd guess the party doesn't get started until sundown? Meanwhile, as Steve was quick to remind me when he was stationed there, the "real" Mardi Gras takes place in and around Mobile, Alabama. They even have a webcam so you can watch the parade and such. Meanwhile down in Brazil, Carnaval is just about wrapping up. And I've posted the Old Farmer's Almanac recipe for Shrove Tuesday pancakes over at Knife-Wielding Feminists, just 'cause I felt like it...
Silly Sites o' the Day

Both from Carolyn "In the City" Ibis, whose website is so keen I wish she had a blog: The LEGO® Major Arcana Tarot deck (attention David Oakes!) and the online Etch-a-Sketch®, which I really thought I'd mentioned before but I can't find anything in my archives about it. Thanks Carolyn!

Monday, February 23, 2004

And That Goes Double For Her Sister-in-Law... Morgan Fairchild!

In her latest Rara Avis entry, Echidne brilliantly skewers the writing of New Yorker book reviewer Caitlin "But You Can Call Me Tommy" Flanagan, apparently a board member of Pathological Anti-Feminists Anonymous.

Oh sure, I mentioned on Thursday (with thanks to Rook) that Haloscan now has trackback capabilities, both to put a trackback feature on your own blog and to manually track back to someone else's (complete with step-by-step instructions on how to do it). But then Atrios mentions it yesterday and suddenly it's news. I feel like Rodney Dangerfield. :) Anyway, Cyndy noted my mention but added that it was all still confusing to her, so I thought I'd suggest people look again at Thursday's updated entry, and am using this entry to experiment to see if I can use Cyndy's and Atrios' trackbacks successfully. And remember, trackbacks and permalinks are two different animals; use permalinks to link to someone's entry on their blog, use trackbacks to talk about that entry and let the folks on the other blog know you're talking about them (i.e., to plug your blog on their site - yes, participating in comments sections does that too, but there are a number of bloggers who have trackbacks but no comments sections). Update: Steve Bates has further explanations here and here.
Eisner and the Elders

Good article that Robin found in the NY Times today about Will Eisner's new project:
The Plot tells the story behind the creation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous Russian forgery that purported to reveal a Jewish plan to rule the world. Mr. Eisner, the son of Jews who fled Europe, has reached into the past to say something about the present: a time, he says, when anti-Semitism is again on the rise."
With all the buzz surrounding the perception of anti-Jewish propaganda being fostered using another entertainment medium, Eisner proves himself as timely as ever. Like Eisner, I too am pretty incredulous at how many people actually believe the Protocols were real, but as a lot of people point out Joly's satire was pretty damned (pun intended) obscure. But you know, I'm also amazed at how many people still believe all sorts of stupid shit about Jews in this supposedly enlightened day and age...
Silly Site o' the Day

Via Neil Gaiman's blog, someone's "treated the London Underground like a star map, and has found constellations" - it's Animals on the Underground! Wonder if one could do the same for any American cities' transit systems...

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Silly Site o' the Day

You know, these days tinfoil hats are so passé. The stylish paranoid knows where to go for tips on how to design much more fashionable headgear. Via Ken DeBusk at last Thursday's Firesign chat.

Not really a silly site, but the bizarre news of the day comes from the Australian sports press, and I'll just give you the link rather than spoil it with any quoting. I will say, however, that I'd imagine this is certainly one way to psych out one's opponents.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Fear of Becoming the Other

Lots of talk on the blogosphere about the historic parallels between the current struggle for the recognition of gay marriage and changing attitudes in recent years about interracial relationships. Many hope that history will again be on the side of equality as it has trended for the last couple centuries, and one wonders if, years from now, religious texts will proclaim that there's nothing wrong with gay marriage the way some currently point out that there's nothing in the Bible prohibiting interracial marriage. "We have also seen that God's plan of salvation includes drawing his people from every nation, tribe, people and language. May we have this same desire, eschewing all forms of racism and ungodly prejudice." Amen to that.

So I've been thinking about what fuels this ungodly prejudice, what makes so many people cling so desperately to known quantities even when those situations defy justice and logic. Ignorance, habit, tradition, sure, but of course there's also fear. And I don't think it's so much fear of the mysterious or different or new in others as much as it is the fear of discovering something new within oneself. As a neophobe myself I know how much easier it is to cope with familiar surroundings, even when those surroundings (job, home, etc.) are less than ideal, than to take steps towards bettering one's circumstances. After all, I know what I'm up against in this leaky tinderbox where the doors and cabinets don't close; only a humongous and unreasonable rent increase is forcing me elsewhere. (Robin was probably ready to leave this apartment two years ago, but as he's managed to move himself across an entire ocean and into a new culture, and I've only ever lived in NY and NJ my whole life, I'd say he's a bit less neophobic on the whole.) I can sort of handle a work situation that frequently has me on an emotional roller coaster, because I know the people operating that coaster, and who knows but that the next job I'd get wouldn't be a chamber of horrors?

I believe that prejudice against the Other isn't so much a hatred of what They are, but a fear of what we might become if we embrace Otherness (even if that Otherness only touches us as stories in the news). We'd be different than we are now, and we're comfortable with what we are now even if we're not entirely happy with ourselves. So we'll make an uneasy truce with our prejudices before we'll accept not having any idea of what a more open mind will turn us into.

I say this not to condone prejudice as much as try to explain and analyze and understand it. I think part of our purpose on this Earth is to overcome that primal fear of becoming something else as a result of accepting new ideas and circumstances, of having our egos torn down and rearranged every time we accept that Everything We Know Is Wrong, but I also believe it's one of the hardest things a human being can do. Our inbred instincts rebel against it, and for many of us so do our upbringing and environment. So I'm trying not to come down too harshly against bigots or homophobes or conservatives. They're not bad people. They're not all that different from more tolerant folks. Way I see it, they just haven't made as many neo-leaps yet.
Silly Site o' the Day

When I was a kid, I loved my Spirograph as much as I loved wordplay. Mark Evanier has found a Anu Garg's site, which features not only the Internet Anagram Server (after all, as the sitemaster notes, "Name is Anu Garg does anagrammatize to Anagram Genius", plus his first name is an ambigram!), but other cool things like a Java applet that lets you duplicate Spirograph designs and even paste your final design on your page, but to me moving levels back and forth isn't quite as much fun as creating something using pens and templates.

Friday, February 20, 2004

What's the Diff Between a Lambiek and a Hembeck?

A bit of a tricky one, since both are comics-related. The first word is the name of "Europe's first and most famous antiquarian comic shop, and is a hallmark in the world of comics," whose website maintains a very comprehensive "Comiclopedia - a huge compendium of more than 4,500 international comic artists, with biographies and artwork examples." I used it a lot back when I was maintaining the Women Doing Comics List. Robin just discovered via Googling his name that he's made their site, along with panels from the first story we did together.

The second is, of course, the surname of the very talented cartoonist Fred Hembeck, who was kind enough to mention both Robin and me in the links page attached to his blog. Thanks, Fred!
Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

Datsa's taken to sleeping on (and trying to get into) the laundry bag, which seems to suit Amy fine because she can curl up on the bed all by herself:

Congratulations to Ciro Domingo, a Canadian kitty with a lot of medals. In more somber news, apparently the Asian bird flu has spread to three poor housecats and a white tiger in Thailand. And the Feline Conservation Federation has rallied behind two bills in Minnesota they say will put a brake on the extinction of wild animals and lead to a better life for those in captivity.
On Provincialism

Every now and again I'm amazed anew at how incurious a lot of people are about the world outside their little enclaves. Maybe it comes from having an immigrant parent (my dad) who speaks at least two foreign languages. Or from growing up Jewish, with the implicit understanding that Israel was the binding tie and Yiddish the mame-loshn. (That's not to say I speak any of these foreign languages especially well, but at age 46 I'm just about to the point where I can pick up most of the words from context. Except when my mom switches to Yiddish, then I still feel like I'm 16 and going "huh?") Or from travelling with my family to Montreal in 1967, and Israel and Rumania in '73. Or from listening to Steve talk about his Navy days when we were courting, how he'd shake his head when his buddies would disembark in all manner of interesting and exotic locales and immediately head for the nearest McDonald's while he went in search of local fare. Or from having lots of British friends and acquaintances through the years, culminating with being married to a Brit. Or maybe it's just from living in NYC for so long, where sooner or later you run into just about every culture under the sun.

In any case, I always thought it was obvious that the US and The American Way aren't the be-all and end-all of history and thought and wisdom and dreams and culture, that societies that have existed for centuries before ours got started (including ones we've tried to obliterate) might have lots of stuff to teach us. I've tried to acknowledge how much I still have to learn about the rest of the world, and keep an open mind about my progress or lack thereof. After all, one of the points of life is to keep learning, isn't it?

So I've been a little amused and a little saddened by the NY Times article about which the blogosphere is abuzz, the one about "Arabs in US Raising Money to Back Bush." Sure a correction has since been appended: "A headline yesterday on a front-page article about fund-raising for President Bush's re-election referred imprecisely to donors described in the article. Not all are Arab-Americans; they include Pakistani and Iranian-born donors." But you know, if talking about Arabs is part of your job, shouldn't you be able to distinguish between Arab and non-Arab cultures? Especially if it's as easy as reading the list of Arab countries on Riverbend's blog? She names 'em all, and defines each as "an Arab country where the national language is Arabic and the people are generally known as Arabs." I mean, yeah, when I was a kid and it was "us (Jews) against the Arabs" and ignorance was fueled by prejudice, I could see not being able to distinguish. But nowadays? No excuse.

And I echo Melanie's implicit question - why on earth are only "about 3 percent of the books published in the United States translations, compared with 40 to 50 percent in Western European countries"? Fortunately, she tells us about a great online magazine called Words Without Borders which translates excerpts from all sorts of stories by writers from all over the world who don't happen to write in English. Worth checking out.

I'm actually pretty hopeful most of the time about the future of humanity on this planet and the eventual death of provincialism. Thanks to technological innovations like the Internet (Jonathan Edelstein's blog alone is like the epitome of non-provincialism!), it's no longer feasible or practical or realistic to pretend we're the best or only country in the world. The trick now is coming to care for the rest of humanity as much as we care about our "own."
Silly Site o' the Day

In honor of Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum), which I'll do later this evening, I present a link passed on from Susie Madrak that promises to help with those kitty ablutions. Yeah, good luck getting the cats to try it...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

And You May Ask Yourself, How Do I Work This?

I should probably give a shout-out to Laura about these two techie questions, but if anyone else wants to tackle them be my guest.

First, I had a very instructive back-and-forth with Dave Johnson over trackbacks, wherein he finally explained what they are. They differ from permalinks in that "if you want to show readers here [i.e., on Dave's blog] that you linked to [a post], so they will come visit your weblog, then you want a trackback notice to appear here. It provides a link to your posting, and an excerpt." So I finally get that, except I'm still not sure how one tracks something back. So I've clicked on Dave's trackback for that post, and we'll see if this bit appears therein. Haloscan has a section where it says you can manage incoming trackback pings but I'm totally befuddled by it so I don't think a trackback mechanism will show up on Pen-Elayne soon unless Laura holds my hand through it...

Update the First: Okay, I think I've got it. I was looking for something automatic, but trackback pinging is mostly manual, and Dave explained it pretty well. If you want to plug your blog via performing a trackback, you have to go to that Haloscan page and type in or copy/paste in the appropriate fields:
  • the trackback URL
  • the title of your entry wherein the trackback link appears
  • the permalink to your entry
  • the relevant excerpt
    Then you click the "ping" button and presumably your stuff will show up on the other person's trackback. Still waiting to see if mine shows up on Dave's...

    Update the Second: Thanks, Rook, I now have Trackback capabilities (which helps a bit on lengthening my content table)! Still nothing of mine on Dave's Trackback though...

    My other current frustration is that, particularly with the reordering of my blogroll and the addition of some cool buttons and such, my sidebar content is often longer than my blog content, and the sidebar design breaks off somewhere in the middle. I have no idea how to lengthen the sidebar without posting more content to the blog itself. I still like this Blogger template and don't want to give it up yet if I can help it, but I wouldn't mind it looking a bit neater...
  • Science Marches Forward, Despite the Fundie Zealots in Power

    Lots of folks talking today about the scientists (including Nobel laureates) protesting the Bush administration's "misuse of science," so I thought I'd link directly to the Union of Concerned Scientists' report about that. The press release itself is pretty slow-loading but I suppose one can access it from that page with enough patience. One thing I like about science is the long-term view it takes of things, and as the pendulum will certainly swing back away from fundamentalist zealotry sooner or later I'm sure taking this stand will come to be remembered as A Good Thing. Update: Susie Madrak has a couple good science-related posts up, including an update on the horrific Dr. Hager and a link to a Beeb article about a study that's found taking the pill appears to change women's taste in men.
    Maintenance Note

    I've just about gotten through my blogroll for today, and have finally decided to make it easier on myself in future. Shari mentioned the term "must visit daily" so I'm swiping her expression to create an MVD list on the sidebar, right under my "Top Six" list (my four "parent blogs" and my two friends of longest standing). I wanted to explain that "Must View Daily" means just that - blogs that update so frequently with stuff I consider such must-reading that if I don't check them more often than I have been I feel like I'm falling behind. It's not meant as a favoritism thing - most all the blogs linked to from the sidebar are favorites in one way or another or they wouldn't be there in the first place - but as a convenience for me, as I'm the one who uses my sidebar the most. I'm just saying, 'cause I don't want anyone to feel slighted. (Also, it's pretty malleable and will doubtless shift a lot from time to time, as some bloggers write less and others step up activity.) Lastly, newly added to the sidebar under Op-Ed are George Lakoff (on the strength of the article Shari discusses, as well as his recent BuzzFlash interview) and Jesse Jackson (on the strength of his recent article about Dean).
    Silly Site o' the Day

    I suppose it's a cheap laugh, but there you are: Trailer Trash Dolls for sale! Via Marla Caldwell, who particularly likes the discounted irregular drag queens.

    Wednesday, February 18, 2004

    Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    Christine Cupaiuolo at Ms. Musings has a great overview of how NY Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof marginalizes the work of feminist organizations by pretending it doesn't exist. Notes Cupaiuolo, "Kristof seems to have succumbed to the oft-repeated belief that feminists care more about access to golf clubs than women's lives -- a belief that is propagated by the media, which usually finds these sorts of glass-ceiling issues, along with women's 'empowerment' ? la Charlie's Angels and stripper poles, more interesting to cover than, say, global human rights." And because serious life-and-death issues are less "sexy" the media perpetuates falsehoods that women's groups don't care about or work on them, when actually it's the media itself that ignores these issues unless they can use them to bludgeon various women's movements for not doing something that they're, you know, actually doing. We see versions of this all the time, when of course the reality is that our current administration and its more complacent media buddies tend to abandon women at the drop of a hat when their plight is no longer politically expedient, and it's the movements who continue the actual work of trying to help these women. I think it's more than coincidence that this parallels the way women's labor or interests are marginalized or ignored or devalued in our society in general, whether economically or politically (thanks for that one, CJ; sic 'em, Trish!) or culturally.
    The Beaver Happily Break-Dances

    And the rooster crows at midnight! August Pollak is gainfully employed! Go August!! (Update: As August later notes, The Onion seems to be congratulating him as well...)
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via Johnny Bacardi and Laura Gjovaag (my two blog "children") I discovered the ultra-cool ACME Laboratories, and I can't believe super-genius Jef Poskanzer grabbed the "acme.com" domain so easily! You can find lots of neat stuff there like their license plate maker and candy-heart creator and even a label maker. Alas, quoth Poskanzer, "If you want to use [any made image], then copy it to your own web site. Don't copy the URL, copy the .jpg file itself. Links from external HTML pages to these image files are disabled. If you try it, people viewing your page will just get a broken-image icon and you'll look like an idiot." And I haven't the inclination to store silly site images on our website (all those kitty pictures are quite enough!), so have fun playing with them yourself! There are also tutorials on HTML and colors, an aggregate search form, a chocolate registry!, a camera database, a motherboard finder, current moon phases, a talking clock, and lots more! Nice work, Jef, I think Chuck Jones would be proud.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2004

    All A Board

    Anticipating that my log-in problems at John Byrne's message board will soon be fixed, I've spruced up the Message Board section of my sidebar, which is now actually alphabetical and includes the message boards for Oliver Willis (American Times, which is UBB-based thank goodness) and MadKane (not UBB-based). Any others I should be noting in there? I hardly have time to tread the boards any more, so I'm trying to stick to the ones where I actually check in now and again...
    Hard of Thinking

    On his blog today, Neil Gaiman writes about the US Department of Education's decision to declare almost 200 television shows inappropriate for closed-captioning, and how this doesn't seem to be big news. I know I've seen a couple other blogs mention this, but I can't recall where I first read about it. (Update: It was this post by Kevin Keith at LeanLeft.) The legislation went into effect last October 1, so it doesn't surprise me that it's no longer in Google's news cache except for the Palm Beach Post opinion article, but like Neil I'm surprised there hasn't been more of a stink about this the way there was when it was tried by Mr. Joe-mentum back in 1998. Neil asks that bloggers spread the word, and I'm only too happy to do so. Direct action never hurts either.
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via Doug, newly come to the blogroll, it's the official site for Lemonhead - very pretty! And the lemon flower is sweet! But the fruit of the poor lemon is... okay, I have a confession, I've actually eaten lemons. And the occasional raw potato. And onion. And-- hey, why are y'all backing away from me...?

    Monday, February 16, 2004

    Silly Site o' the Day

    Kamikazee Killmouse is making teabag pyramids so you don't have to. Via my secret sauce source.

    Sunday, February 15, 2004

    Convicted Thug Smears Presidential Candidate

    Roger Ailes (The Good One) has the goods on Ted Sampley, the idiot behind the doctored Kerry photos and, who knows, possibly behind the discredited affair smear. Says John McCain of this nutball who gives veterans and, well, human beings in general a bad name, "I consider him a fraud who preys on the hopes of family members of missing servicemen for his own profit. He is dishonorable, an enemy of the truth, and despite his claims, he does not speak for or represent the views of all but a few veterans."
    Silly Site o' the Day

    I scream, you scream, everybody screams in Coming Unglued, a Stick Death production. Robin advises that I should issue a warning re: violence and/or bad taste and/or awful things done to and by stick figures, so there you are.
    V-Day in Juarez

    For some women yesterday, V stood for Valentine; for others, V stood for Violence and efforts to combat it. Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes conceived of this card (click on the last thumbnail on the page to enlarge it) two years ago - as she explained to Daryl Cagle, "the card represents (clockwise): Bride burnings (if I recall correctly, in India), Domestic violence in the US, or western world, the birth rate in Africa, and Islamic fundamentalism (specifically the Taliban, if you'll notice the 2001 date in the cartoon)." A few years earlier, Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler founded V-Day, a non-profit corporation which "distributes funds to grassroots, national, and international organizations and programs that work to stop violence against women and girls." And yesterday, V-Day celeb supporters joined lots of others out in force in Juarez, marching for justice on behalf of the hundreds of women killed there in the past decade.

    Saturday, February 14, 2004

    Silly Site o' the Day

    Create your own medieval tapestry "comic book story!" Via someone on my blogroll but I can't remember who, so feel free to take credit in the comments section. :)
    Love, American (and International) Style

    Some Valentine Michael Smith Google links for ya (click on picture):

    And some more links courtesy of Mark Morford, including how the day is celebrated and/or feared in Iran, India and, of course, the good ol' US of A. Morford also has some nice advice on how to banish fear.

    Friday, February 13, 2004

    An Iraqi Kidnapping

    Happens all the time nowadays, apparently, but it's made even more harrowing and immediate by the brilliant and eloquent Riverbend, who tells us about her cousin's husband being abducted.
    More Musings on Love and Marriage and Suchlike

    For those in a romantic kinda mood, the Divine Ms. D has some terrific posts up on love and marriage. Check 'em all out - her opinion on the Senate hearing about Janet's boobie and how it's related to some people's homo-matrimonium-phobia (as well as the latest attempted anti-Kerry smear); her congratulatory message to Daughters of Bilitis founders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin; and a very thought-provoking piece on the Texas gender/wedding debate.

    Also via Maru, a multi-part article about why Friday the 13th has such a bad rep. My favorite bit is in part 3:
    So when Friday is combined with the 13th day of the month we have a double dose of pagan symbolism and female significance. Up until the Middle Ages when pagans continued to celebrate symbolic pagan days, Friday the 13th was thought to be especially lucky because it combined the goddess’s sacred day with her sacred number (drawn from the 13 months of the lunar year). As a result, Friday the 13th was a celebration and festival day for many Pagans.
    The goddess in question of course being "Freya who represented fertility and sexual love [and who also] is strongly associated with spring, birds and cats." Considering that "Romans named the day dies Veneris after Venus, their own version of the Freya goddess," (Friday being the only day of the week named after a woman), and today is the eve of the manufactured holiday "representing" fertility and sexual love, and that spring is just around the corner, I think this would be the absolute perfect time to reclaim Friday the 13th as A Good And Nice Day in the name of spring, love, Venus, Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum), feminism and like that.

    Update: Michele agrees, and provides a cool link - I used to be fairly heavily into mythology but I never realized this: "The day Friday was named after Frigg (or Frigga) the Norse goddess of marriage. Later she was confused with the goddess of love, Freya, who in turn became identified with Friday." I guess it makes sense that, even back then, people were confusing love and marriage. ;)
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via MadKane, it's Tony's Lie-O-Matic Statement Generator! How can you tell when Blair's lying about Iraq? His tail wags! Arf arf!!
    But I Say It Just To Reach You, Julia

    Happy (belated) second blogiversary to Julia M H-M of Sisyphus Shrugged, a woman who inspires me daily more than she'll ever know. Today, for instance, she tears apart a doctored photo meant to smear John Kerry (by pairing him with a woman who apologized fourteen years ago for her remarks about Vietnam, not that asking people to renounce that other ill-conceived war seems to me an unpatriotic or immoral action any more than is protesting the current one, as millions of people worldwide have done - quite the opposite, in fact, but I digress) by noting its visual inconsistencies, something that's far more up Robin's alley as I never would have spotted any of this stuff. Update: Speaking of blogiversaries, I see that Tom Burka's just celebrated his first as well...
    No "There" There

    Good column from Paul Krugman today detailing, as if we didn't know, how extensive and important the idea of Presidential image over substance is for the Bush administration. And, via Maru Soze, an interesting BuzzFlash interview with Paul Waldman about much the same thing.
    Friday Cat Blogging (? Kevin Drum)

    Thank goodness the snow outside is almost all melted, but I think Datsa and Amy (who, being indoor cats, haven't had to go out in it) miss it just a bit:

    We've changed their feeding schedule, so that I give Datsa his medicine right before leaving the apartment in the morning (about 7:30 or so) and right after getting home (anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30 PM depending on whether it's a "boss day"), in the hopes that being fed every 12 hours or so (the medicine is given 30 minutes before feeding time) will change his habit of waking us up earlier and earlier... with new upstairs neighbors probably imminent, our sleep cycles are bound to be disrupted enough without a starving cat adding to the disruption...

    Thursday, February 12, 2004


    My Google toolbar has Valentine'd itself!
    From the Mailbag In-Box

    I ought to pass along more of my e-mail news, but I still seem to have a disconnect between e-mailing and blogging, and usually keep them separate (one major reason I prefer comments sections, they keep everything in one place so to speak). First off, the latest news on Dave Cockrum via Mercy Van Vleck:
    Yesterday I went to see Dave Cockrum at the VA (Very un-Appetizing) Horsepital.

    Dave just continues to amaze me with his recovery process.

    He was sitting up! Not eating the very expired spinach on his dinner plate, and on the phone as I entered the room around 5:00. I had brought him some chili from the local diner and tho it wuz a little spicy for his taste, he did luv the flavor. The hospital food is always microwaved... they beat the taste out of the molecules and meat is as leather. Dave would love to have a hot dog! Gee, he's only a couple a subway stops from Yankee Stadium?

    Paty [Dave's wife] had sent a chocolate treat that Dave enjoyed and there was most of it still in the drawer to savor later. He's really working hard on his recovery, getting into his chair and going to physical therapy and doing exercises. I sat in the chair and it's very maneuverable in some ways and other ways it's stubborn as a mule. Takes some figuring to wheel it right. I asked Dave if this is how Professor X started out? The chair is flat with very little cushion. Really tough on the derrière. Government cost-cutting in action? I'll have to look into getting him a wheelchair seat cushion? Medical supply place?

    [In a previous e-mail, Mercy had mentioned: There's a man in Dave's room who's blind and diabetic and he screams out; "I WANT A SNACK!" All - The - Time. Day and night. The staff says if they give him a snack he'll yell again in five minutes for more food. He has an eating disorder. He's been there 20 years. I don't think all of the staff knows he's blind. I'm guessing it's probably because they refer to him as the screamer in room 10, not the blind patient in room 10.]

    The screamer in 10A was exhausted tonight after dialysis treatments, but joined right in on several conversations about Dave's new home in South Carolina.

    Dave said they moved to South Carolina so they'd never have to survive another Catskill Mountains winter in the bitter mountains north of New York, and here he is in the VA Horsepital in da Bronx!! I reminded him that he's warm and dry inside and not stuck out there in a snowbank. Dave suggested to the nurse that maybe they could lose Mr. 10A in the snow outside, and I added that the snow had mostly melted and there's hardly enough left to bury him in. She laughed out loud as she went to bring him back in.

    At least Paty doesn't have to shovel snow! She's just wrasslin' alligators and parrrots in South Carolina. 'Bout two hours from Atlanta, Georgia.

    Dave and I talked about intelligent parrots...

    Some Med students came in today to learn how to write up Patients, and Dave told them he drew the X-Men, and two of the guys, their eyes got SO wide! I had to ask Dave to repeat that, for at a crucial moment, the screamer yells - CAN I HAVE A SNACK! And I couldn't hear. This was ten minutes after 10A had eaten dinner and threw stuff all over the floor.

    I went out to the desk to see if I could get ice, and there was a package in the "in mail" bin that said Cockrum on it, so I asked if I could give it to Dave and after 57 I-don't-knows I just took it. It was a package of cards for Dave! There were all kinds of addresses on the letters, but they did get to him. He really loved opening each letter, reading the notes, and checking out the drawings of Nightcrawler. There was a beautiful color photo shot of Dave's drawing of Shadow Lass from Legion comics, and Dave said he designed the flight ring that DC used for years and made into the collectable ring Diamond distributed. The Nurses are amazed at all the cards he gets, a lot of the guys there are forgotten and there are few visitors, so Dave really likes getting those letters, kids!

    He's actually in bed D in room 10, and I saw the letter D over his space and thot oh, yeah, D for Dave, but then C would be good too... BUT he's in room 10 and the letter D, is the letter that he is (Python voice). Dave and Paty have lived with reptiles and amphibians for years, I remember his pal Spiro T. Agnewt from the 70's, whom he drew back then with a nekked tiny lady riding through the water on a saddled and bridled newt and he told some amazing stories about living with snakes. With the 11 foot boa, you never go to feed or do stuff with the snake alone, always take a partner.

    They installed new Pepsi machines at the horsepital, They are not turned on. No cold diet soda for Dave and it's Pepsi anyway! Bleah! There doesn't seem to be a gift shop, or anywhere to get a cold pop. You have to call the nurse to get ice, and I hate to bother them with "hotel maid" stuff. Sheesh.
    If you want to send cards, Dave's address is Extended Care Nursing Home, NA1A, Bronx Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Floor 1A, Room 10D, 130 W. Kingsbridge Road, Bronx, NY 10468. His phone is 718-741-4303, and visiting hours at the center are 10 AM to 8 PM. If I'm well enough on Saturday I'm hoping to visit Dave again, but I want to make sure every bit of this lingering bug (including the accompanying muscle pain and exhaustion) has gone from me first...

    Also got word from Lawrence Klein that the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) is moving to a new venue, and they're having a housewarming/fundraising party in a couple weeks to celebrate. Robin and I hope to be there (again, health and weather permitting!). Details here. It's a pretty good deal, the admission price gets you a free pass ($15 value) to ArtExpo New York at the Javits Center the following weekend. And hey, go wrong with Dean & DeLuca right near MoCCA's new space... I'm sure much talk at the party will be of the Harvey Awards presentation at this year's MoCCA Art Fest, particularly as the keynote speaker will be Neil Gaiman.

    In addition, I've recently been contacted by an old friend and fellow zinester from my INSIDE JOKE days, who happens to have a blog of his own, so please welcome Trevor Blake to the blogroll! Yet another bit of proof that those of us who were doing this sort of thing 20 years ago are still doing it only with different tools...

    Lastly, Cat Simril Ishikawa reminds me that his radio play Red Shift (on which Robin and I have brief roles) is now available for download online here. Speaking of which, I'm late for Firesign Chat!
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Via Marla Caldwell, welcome to Primate Programming™! I wonder how many could program Shakespeare...

    Wednesday, February 11, 2004


    During my last Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum), I mentioned Mike Stanhill's brilliant Infinite Cat Project. Well, Robin and I were able to get Datsa in the right position, so he's now joined the project, as you can see here.
    Anyone Seen John Poindexter Lately?

    Via Anne Zook, "Economists at the University of Iowa have created an electronic influenza futures market that could let health officials track future flu outbreaks." Apparently the purposes include "help[ing] vaccine producers ensure enough supplies without too much waste" and "let[ting] health officials track future flu outbreaks." It sounds a bit skeevy (not to mention beside the point, in that there's evidence that the vaccine shortage was artificially manufactured by the pharmas in the first place - remember back in June '03 when they said they had plenty?), but I'm actually more fascinated by this Forrest Nelson character who came up with the idea. His picture here doesn't look anything like his picture here. Or here, for that matter... oh no, wait, that's someone else. It's a conspiracy, I tell you...
    Silly Sites o' the Day

    Via the divine Betsy Devine, a whole site of movie clichés listed alphabetically, which leads me to wonder if there's an equivalent for TV sitcom clichés (as I believe I've mentioned before, I've wanted to do a "Top 50 Sitcom Clichés" list for nigh unto 20 years now, but have never gotten around to it); and The Beer Collection, which uses optical microscopy to peer at beer.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Neither "Wise" Nor "Men" - Discuss

    Via Terri at frogblog, a Church of England committee has been studying the Three Wise Men mentioned in the 17th century King James Bible, and "said the term 'Magi' was a transliteration of the name used by officials at the Persian court, and that they could well have been women." I tend to doubt we'll be hearing We Three Queens of Orient Are any time soon, however.
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Bush Unmasked. Via one of the sites MadKane recommended.

    Monday, February 09, 2004

    Media Decorum

    The mainstream media always enjoys self-proctology, especially when it involves intercity rivalries, but recent examinations seem to be escalating almost to the point of meaningful discourse. (I say "almost" because, as long as the media keeps referring to itself in the third person while making these observations, the battle for honest journalism continues.) Jude at Iddybud notes the Toronto Globe and Mail's Rick Salutin describing his fellow reporters thusly: "The media are the ushers and security guards of politics. They maintain decorum... The media's renowned critical powers mainly operate on those who violate rules inside the frame, or those like Howard Dean who breach it by saying the unspeakable." But when conservatives get to frame the rules, as they've done increasingly in the past 25 years (and especially in the past decade), it seems the media can't bend over backwards enough - tricky to do on bended knee, one would think! Jeanne D'Orleans quotes from a fascinating article in the NY Review of Books by Michael Massing about how the media have covered Iraq. Notes Jeanne, "Although Massing is critical of the press in general, he focuses particular scorn on the New York Times, and especially the reporting of Judith Miller. The Times stuck every administration claim about WMDs in Iraq on the front page, but buried contrary information, and even insulted dissenting professionals."

    That Miller's fixation with getting her news from Ahmed Chalabi (a biased source if ever there was one) prevented the Times from digging deeper was expected - after all, "some reporters at the paper had relied heavily on Chalabi as a source and so were not going to write too critically about him." This goes on all over - the name of the game is access. I see it happen as well with online industry-related news sites that are reluctant to print any news critical of the companies on which they're reporting because then "they won't talk to us any more" and new content is the name of the game, gotta have that access so you have "inside info" content so you get hits or sales, yadda yadda. But the article also contains what Jeanne terms (and I concur) a real jaw-dropper - a quote from the grand dame Miller herself.
    My job isn't to assess the government's information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal.
    And up is down. Yes, we've come to the point where a reporter for the Paper of Record actually says that journalism isn't her job - and moreover, that PR is! As an astute reader on Jeanne's comment section noted, "Funny, I thought that was Scott McClellan's job."

    Notes another, "If I perform my job well, but incessantly criticize my boss's truthfulness, morality and intentions, is there anyone who would be shocked when I'm fired? Or not promoted to the big-money road-to-riches vice presidency? Of course not. Why does anyone believe for an instant that modern corporate journalism jobs are different? The interests of modern corporations are clear and so are those of their careerist employees." But as I responded, this is an explanation, not an excuse. And neither is it anything new. Journalists have been beholden to corporate barons as long as corporations have existed. Yet our history abounds with stories of reporters have managed to do their job anyway. This year, with enough feet held to the fire by blogging journalists and conscientious columnists alike, maybe a few more of them will remember what they're supposed to be doing out there in the field. Hint: it ain't maintaining decorum.

    Update 1: Via Maru, another example of self-proctology as a Faux News reporter rakes Wolf Blitzer over the coals for being such a putz.

    Update 2: Via Michele, anyone in NYC up for a group trip to this event to help keep investigative journalism alive? Tom Tomorrow will be there too.
    Maintenance Note

    I probably should have put a reliable counter on this site awhile ago, but heck with it. I've added one now 'cause the button's pretty.

    Happy belated birthday to Andante, and happy first blogiversary to Jason Kimble Bergman. And I hear something remarkable happened 40 years ago. Looking forward to that clip tonight, broadcast from the same venue. Actually, considering how run-down I feel (yes, I'm taking another 25%-pay-docked sick day), I'm pretty much just looking forward to health again...
    Silly Site o' the Day

    Ryan Bedard is a very talented fellow who happens to run the Alan Davis message board. He's also done a spiffy Lego animation called Skeleton King. Does David Oakes know about this?

    Sunday, February 08, 2004

    Nearer My God To Thee

    You know, JetBlue may be Mormon-owned, but I'll bet you none of their pilots ever crossed the line like this American Airlines pilot did...
    RIP Julius Schwartz

    John Byrne just reported on his message board that comics and sf great Julius Schwartz has passed away after a protracted illness. Update: Mark Evanier has a lovely obit for Schwartz.
    It's Only Puppets, You Know... For Children

    Darn you, Neil Gaiman - you got Robin in an Oliver Postgate mood. He's been going through the entire Clangers vault at the Beeb's website (lots of fun videos there), and also led me to David Pannett's page of how NASA faked the moon landing. Not sure if Postgate was really the British equivalent of Rankin/Bass, but I can see how kids would be attracted to it...
    Silly (and Cool) Sites o' the Day

    Visit beautiful Kenya (via Scott McCloud)! Then when you're done, have some of Joel Veitch's Mango Biscuits (via Betsy Devine)! Also a few cool sites of note, just so I can close the darn windows on my home computer already: Mark Evanier points us to the Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name (gay penguins, not being batted by Yetis!). Via Merlyn LeRoy at last Thursday's Firesign Chat, a site where you can see promos for many Marx Brothers films in streaming video. Lastly, via Neil Gaiman, perhaps with Valentine's Day coming up you too want to say it with bile.

    Saturday, February 07, 2004

    Silly Site o' the Day

    Continuing yesterday's Preznit Giv Me Anser theme, it's Dishonest Dubya, the lying (and interactive) action figure! Press buttons to make him say stupid things (as if he needed prompting!) or choke on a pretzel! Via Hesiod (although I see Tom Tomorrow now links to it as well).
    Songs of Miriam, Deborah and Trees

    I spent this morning at shul with various relatives, as my cousin Marc celebrated the 25th anniversary of his bar mitzvah by reading from the Torah about the Exodus. This week's reading was the cool special effects story, with the pillar of fire and parting of the Red Sea and Yul Brynner slumping back to Egypt muttering "His God... IS God" and the manna and all that. And the supplementary reading (haftorah) was about one of the few heroines mentioned in the Bible, Deborah. She made up pretty decent song poetry, too; here's a loose English translation of her ditty. It also happens to be Tu B'Shvat, kinda the Jewish Earth Day (or "Jewish Arbor Day" for those of you who remember Arbor Day), and it was kinda fun to listen to the rabbi bitch about how anti-environment our current administration is. And the kiddush had lots of Israeli-indigenous foods, as is customary - carobs (which I still haven't figured out how to chew on after all these years) and nuts and figs and olives and even a pomegranate (uncut so it wasn't like I could just swipe it). Love me them pomegranates. In fact, right now I'm finishing off a bottle of this from the fridge. Anyway, because Tu B'shvat is the New Year for the Trees in Israel and elsewhere, here's a nice link to the Tent of Nations' tree planting campaign.

    Friday, February 06, 2004

    Money Makes the World Go Round

    I had to turn on EuroNews to find out that there's a G7 finance ministers' meeting going on today and tomorrow down in Boca Raton. Granted, the topic is a bit of a yawner for me - "The world's top financial policymakers gathered seeking a formula to address European demands for currency market stability despite evident US satisfaction with a steadily sliding dollar" - but obviously there's heavy security and I guess I just assumed, given what happened a couple months ago in Miami, that there'd be some sort of protest going on? Nothing in the headlines, nothing on Google News, nothing on Indymedia... I confess I'm stumped.
    Friday Cat Blogging (™ Kevin Drum)

    Datsa's still doing well on the medicine, and seems friskier than ever. Sometimes he won't leave Amy alone, he wants to play with her so much. Here they are playing hide-and-seek (or is it tag?) at either end of a closet:

    (Have I mentioned that our closet and cabinet doors don't close? In lots of ways I won't miss this place when we move...)

    Cats in the news include Orange, shipped from Ontario to Fairbanks (brr, I know Harr meant well, but it's so bloody cold! isn't that a bit cruel?), a lovely Serval-cat crossbred wandering about in Omaha (not the same one who saved its owners from a fire, I assume), and the poor missing purebreds in St. Germains (hope they're found soon!). Update: Via Eva Whitley, it's the Infinite Cat Project. Just brilliant. Click here to start the infinite regression (or is that progression?) rolling...
    Preznit Giv Me Anser

    With all due apologies to both Kevin Drum and Atrios, here's the question I'd like to see the Media Whore of the Year (ARF, ARF!) ask Bush this Sunday:

    (Yeah, I know it should be "When we know," not "If we know," but my PhotoShopping is poor as it is, I don't want to redo it...) If you want to sing along, here are the chords.
    About Time?

    It's only been a little under two weeks since this broke, but Dandy Don's on the case now. Okay, he's paying lip service to it.
    No Comment

    Bloggers I wish would have comment sections because I always find so much on their blogs for which I want to give them instant feedback on the actual blog page:
  • Avedon Carol
  • Jim Capozzola
  • Kim Davis
  • Emma
  • Mark Evanier
  • Bob Goodsell
  • Bryant Gries
  • Mark A.R. Kleiman
  • MadKane
  • Susie Madrak
  • Michele
  • August Pollak
  • Tom Tomorrow
    I realize they all have their reasons for not using comment sections, some very good ones indeed, and if I really needed to I could e-mail them about things, but it still drives me batty sometimes.
  • Faith-Based Face-to-Face

    Thanks to Melanie for passing on the link to Confronting the Theocracy of Evil, an AlterNet article by Scott Ritter. Ritter details a conversation he'd had with the British Chair of the Select Committee on Defense, Bruce George. Quoth George, "We also know that Saddam intended to get these weapons in defiance of the UN, and for that reason he had to be removed." "How do you know this?" Ritter asked. "On what basis can you back this up?" "Because," George said, with a smile, "Saddam is evil." End of discussion. Very, very creepy. Observes Ritter, "The pervasiveness in America today of the 'theocracy of evil' has led to a widespread 'ends justify the means' mentality that may prove fatal to a democratic institution founded on the principle of the rule of law." Read the whole article. Update: Smartass Kim questions Evil Fruit. Heh, I used to do the same kind of thing in yeshiva...
    A Heads-Up From MBW

    Mary Beth Williams is currently swamped with her preparatory work for the Maine caucus, but passed on the news that "a group of researchers from Northeastern, U of Nebraska, Tufts and John Hopkins released a study in which they not only link autism and ADHS to mercury and other heavy metals, they provided proof for the mechanism whereby such toxins effect children." She adds, "The story is even more significant, as the Institutes of Medicine hold their annual meeting on Monday, February 9th, to review the current state of autism/thimerosal research." As she's asked folks to "help publicize that meeting, which the IOM, Bush Administration and Big Pharma would like to keep under wraps," I hope the link helps. It has details on how to register to attend or participate via a live audio webcast.
    Let the Sniping Begin!

    In my last post I quoted extensively from the Washington Post (or, as many bloggers abbreviate it, WaPo), as my search on the Khan pardon turned up very little from the other "paper of record," the NY Times. It's enough to make one suspect that WaPo is becoming a better news source than the Old Gray Lady. Maybe the NYT suspects it as well, judging by the great delight it seems to take in reporting about WaPo's e-mail troubles yesterday. Even so, WaPo seems considerably harder on itself, citing that Network Solutions sent them at least 7 e-mails and two snail-mail warnings regarding imminent domain name expiration.

    Quoth yesterday's Washington Post,
    an extraordinary series of revelations has confirmed that Pakistan has been guilty of some of the worst crimes of nuclear weapons proliferation ever committed. For some 15 years it has been supplying atomic bomb technology to rogue states and sponsors of terrorism -- and it did so even after President Bush declared that governments that conducted such transfers could be subject to preemptive attack by the United States. Under pressure from the United Nations, Pakistani officials have acknowledged that nuclear designs and materials were given to Iran, Libya and North Korea, either directly or through an underground network involving middlemen in Germany and a secret factory in Malaysia. Officials claim the traffic was conducted solely by the country's chief weapons scientist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and several associates. Hoping to avoid prosecution, Mr. Khan duly confessed on Pakistani television yesterday and absolved his government. But the scientist previously gave investigators a more plausible account: that President Pervez Musharraf and other senior military leaders approved the deals.
    Which seems pretty likely, as Musharraf subsequently pardoned Khan, with tacit acceptance and downplaying by the US. Says State Department "career minister" Richard Boucher, "I don't think it's a matter for the United States to sit in judgment on... What penalties, sanctions, controls or steps are used to prevent it from happening again, those are up for individual governments to decide. It's up to the Pakistani government to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again." Interesting that Boucher didn't show the same restraint when sitting in judgement on Iraq.

    But the heck with that, let's look at another humongous picture of Janet Jackson's boobie! Because now it can be revealed (as if it hadn't been already)! "There's no way it would have ripped that way. We're known for putting together solid, long-lasting pieces... They took off the studs that kept the cup in place and replaced them with snaps so the top could just come off." Those fiends! (This has been another shameless attempt to increase my tit hit count on a slow Friday...)