Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Beasts


You know, I've come to the conclusion that it's not worth it, when they're obviously subhuman savages.

Congratulate Me!


I have, as of today, lost twenty pounds since meeting Daniel Goldberg. Not directly as a result; I just met him at my absolute top weight. Although, in some ways, as a result: I'm certain a fair bit of that is from Krav Maga, which he recommended (and which I've since had to quit, as it was aggravating a hereditary knee problem I've got). The rest from sensible cooking, sensible eating, and sensible exercise. It's really very easy; it just takes determination. Some more to go yet, though. Won't post on this again until I reach my goal!

Monday, March 29, 2004

On Pirated Music


Not the RIAA this time; Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lileks bleats:
The score isn’t bad – better than the movie. But my ears perked up when the heroine is taken to her bedchamber by the Phantom, and the score turns moody and ominous. Sound familiar?

There it is: the most recognizable riff from the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. I have no idea how many houses that riff got him. And it’s not his. It’s Carl Davis’ notes. I googled around to see if he ever gave Davis credit; found nothing, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t admit it at some point. But even if the theater program gave Davis a nod it wouldn’t begin to describe the debt.
...
And whenever I hear Webber’s music – even that gorgeous Pie Jesu from his Requem – I always think “Nice tune. Where’d you get it?”

So what else is new? Ask any old-music buff, they'll tell you that in an instant. My kid brother, at seven years old or so, watched "Evita"; when they're calling her name ("Evita, Evita, Evita," on a three-note descending sequence), he piped up, "that's how they say 'Aurora' in 'Sleeping Beauty'!" Yup. Listen to "Girl of the Golden West," even if you've never heard it before, and you'll recognize quite a bit -- ALW copied tons from it. One of Elvis' old folksy songs (don't know which -- I heard it on a record in Germany in 1997) is nearly identical to "Any Dream Will Do." He doesn't write songs well; he adapts them well and sells them well, though.

The thing I like about Bombay Dreams (besides the fact that they're soon to come to Broadway) is that ALW admits to not having written the music. Ok, so I also liked seeing a Hindi movie fight scene on stage, singing along to all the music from "Taal," and seeing a West End musical about the way that Bollywood is run by underworld dons. What can I say? I'm easy to please.

Academia


Gotta love modern academia. Reading "Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center" for class. The fellow has obviously spent too much time around post-modernists and too much time reading Said; he spends half his time psychoanalyzing other scholars (for "projecting" onto their subject, whether they describe the Sufis as peaceable, militant, or a mixture!) and the rest of it using scare quotes. Some choice quotes: "My rejection of the image of Warrior Sufis simply means that the principal bearers of the Sufi tradition in India (i.e., the shaykhs) were in general full-time religious leaders, and did not themselves take part in military activities, though some of their followers did." $50 says this fellow's one of the ones who says that Ahmed Yassin was simply an old man in a wheelchair who never harmed anyone (although his followers did). In more support of that wager, he lists the fictions that have led to a conception of selected Islamic groups (not the whole, but just specific groups) as militant, among them "the various religious figures in India that the British called 'Wahhabis'," "Marco Polo's fiction of [one group's] hashish use," and "the modern problem of 'terrorism' in the Middle East." It's not actual terrorism when you blow up schoolchildren and pizza parlors, you see. That's just bigoted crapwads projecting. Stay in academia long enough, you'll learn that. Of course, if you say that Islam and Islamic groups are peacable, you're forcibly conforming them to your idealized model, which is condescending and orientalist, he argues. It's better to go into another field of study, like penguin mating patterns, where you won't have to insult medieval South Asian Muslims by writing anything, good or bad or morally neutral, about them.

This time, given the nature of the class, I'll let my opinion of this sludge be known.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

My Bob: real-life Troll


As it turns out, Bob loves doing what so many internet trolls love doing: finding people with beliefs they think are silly and poking them over and over in the hopes that they'll get nettled and respond. Only, he does it in real life.

Whenever he's out shopping at electronics or computer stores, Indians come up to him and try to sell him on pyramid schemes. He always makes quite clear that he's not interested and will never be interested, and then agrees to go meet with them to discuss it. He then spends the evening pointing out flaws in their arguments, pointing out obvious contradictions, pointing out how stupid it all is... and they agree with him! Apparently, they're from the Dale Carnegie school of salesmanship, in which you never contradict your target; he says, "this is a pyramid scheme." They say, "yes, it is!" He'll say, "this makes no logical or economic sense." They'll say, "you're right!"

True, that's not the way internet trolls want you to respond, but Bob's not much of a one for real argument. I secretly think he goes to those meetings simply to have people insisting that everything he says is right!

Why???


Why, why, why am I the "one of these things is not like the others" link on this page?

Difficult Decision


The link may not load, because of the Drudge traffic, but seventeen women have been arrested for insisting on veiling themselves despite a law against it.

While, on the surface, this looks as objectionable and intolerant as the French ban on scarves that cover the hair only, there is a lot more to this story. In Mogadishu, there have been problems with men disguising themselves as women in order to look innocent and have a place to hide weapons en route to an attack. There have been similar problems in Israel; also, if Hindi movies are anything to go by, the idea of a man dressing as a full-covering Muslim woman to get free access to women is not entirely unknown in India.

In other words, while I still think that banning full veils, just like banning stereotypical gangster clothing, is a bad idea and will have little effect, there are good reasons behind the ban. Unlike the French.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Aspirates


Oxblog's Patrick Belton says:
HINDI GRAMMAR QUOTE OF THE DAY: If you want to request food, khana, the failure to produce aspiration will result in kana. That is, you will end up asking for a one-eyed person.
I would add: almost universally, a native English speaker will find it extremely difficult to say "kana" or any other unaspirated non-voiced consonant. He will have a similar (albeit somewhat lesser) difficulty in saying "dharma" or any other aspirated voiced consonant. In english, stand-alone voiced consonants are generally unaspirated and stand-alone unvoiced consonants are nearly always aspirated. A test? Hold a piece of paper in front of your mouth and say "pit" "bit" and "spit." The first "p" should make the paper move, while the "b" and "sp" likely will not (or at least not as much). So, what you need to worry about is describing a one-eyed man as food, not the other way around!

There is no distinction between "k" and "kh" or any other aspirate/non-aspirate pair in Tamil, my language of the moment, so this difficulty does not exist. (There are three l's and five n's, however, so difficulties aren't entirely avoided.) With this in mind, some North Indians have been known to say jubilantly that "Tamilians have no aspirations."

Born That Way?


The common argument is that people with homosexual impulses were "born that way" (in religious circles, the phrase is, "God made me this way); to suppress, try to change, outlaw, or otherwise try to curtail the free exercise of those impulses is to go against nature (or God).

With that in mind, what of people who get sex-change operations or otherwise insist that they do not and should not be made to identify with the sex on their birth certificate. They were born that way (male or female, that is), but that is no argument for staying that way if they don't want to.

My question is: do any transsexuals make the "born that way" arguments? If so, do they not realize how ridiculous they are? Furthermore, do the two sets of arguments not cancel each other out? It seems that each argument could be used as a counterargument to the other.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Butch?


According to The Gender Genie, I am "one butch chick." Unlike R. Alex Whitlock, I turn up male whether writing on relationships or on politics. My "male score" is generally 2-3 times my "female score."

Then again, I'm in good company; Colin Powell and all three OxBloggers also appear male. Looking around, though, so is Maureen Dowd, and absolutely everyone else I tried.

Of course, it also depends somewhat on how you classify things. Run Lileks through as a blog entry, he's overwhelmingly male; run him through as fiction or non-fiction, it's more half-and-half.

The Future of Literature?


I want one of these. Imagine -- to be able to go to the beach for a week, or India for a season, and not have to take a stack of books with you, because they're all in your hand!

True, I still like the feel of paper, and I can't stand reading books online, but this looks better than any of the other e-text ideas; and, as far as portability goes, it has its advantages.

Trouble Brewing


I'm worried. Bob proudly tells me that all the news he listens to now is NPR; last night he threw out a comment about how excellent Dick Clarke (not Dick Clark, who's sold his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth) is and how great it is that all the truth has now come out.

Oh dear; what am I getting myself in to?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

In Madurai Today


Look at all the things going on in Madurai today! (It's not a temple town or anything...)

I'm excited about going.

That said, I should probably send in my acceptance form and think about a travel agent.

Lost your job?


Don't Blame India.

NBC on Hamas


It's good to see that NBC is also shocked by the insanity mentioned below. Campbell Brown was talking to some women who were cheerfully insisting that they were eager to blow themselves up and that they were "raising their children to become martyrs." Her incredulity and shock was obvious.

At what point do you cross the border from humanity to animal nature?

Moral Cretins


Palestinians hired a boy to blow himself up. They have absolutely no compunction about doing that. The Israeli response, on the other hand:
"In addition to the fact that he would have harmed my soldiers, he would have also harmed the Palestinians waiting at the checkpoint, and there were 200 to 300 innocent Palestinians there," said the commander of the checkpoint, who identified himself only as Lt. Col. Guy.
The fighting-for-a-good-cause and compassionate terrorists could care less; the drinking-Palestinian-babies-blood cruel oppressor out-to-kill-civilians Israelis are concerned that a Palestinian would blow up Palestinians as collateral damage. The boy's brother is mad at the people who gave him the bomb -- but not, apparently, because they wanted his brother to blow himself up; no, he's mad because they were stupid enough to give a bomb to someone who would tell the Israelis who gave it to him.

For my part, I agree with this:
"No matter how many times Israel learns of the use of children for suicide bombings, it is shocking on each occasion," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Israelis do not understand how Palestinians are willing to sacrifice their own children in order to kill ours."
The Israelis are not the only ones who do not understand.

The Hindu


It's not exactly India's paper of record -- it's biased to the South, being based in Madras, and it's very Anglophone -- but I love reading The Hindu. Any paper on the hit list of Hindutva groups, any paper whose political bias is against the often-violent nationalism of the BJP government and against the ridiculous level of corruption in the local government, is fine by me!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Bull Moose (edited)


I give you, The Bully Pulpit: The official blog of Bull Moose Republicans.

I do this with a bit of trepidation, as I know one of the contributors; I disagree with him, and he with me, on a few points, and it's a bit un-fun to be argued against by someone nearly perfect. However, as he's unlikely to show up here, and as it's a good read, I link and recommend.

The Elliotts


For those of you who haven't been aware of the Iraq deaths of both parents of a blogger, this is an awe-inspiring person. God bless him.

Affirmative Action by any other name?


So, I hear from an email that a Toledo, MA teacher is in big trouble after she said that her school system was "about to establish one set of performance standards for Hispanics and whites and a lesser standard for African-Americans." Quite correctly, this was complained about as racist. (Well, not exactly correctly -- the statement was called racist, not the different standards -- but the idea of different standards is what people are angry about.)

My question is: how is that any different from Affirmative Action programs? If not at the grade-school level, then at least at the college admissions level? It's not? Then why can't people see that AA in education, which has "one set of performance standards for" one group "and a lesser standard" for the other group, is just as racist and unacceptable?

What if we got there first?


On the "we didn't do enough early enough" front, I present you with this piece of brilliance from Sasha Castel.

What's in a name?


Would A Whitlock By Another Name smell as sweet? R. Alex discusses the question of name change at length.

Emily Post, of all people, has a segment on socially appropriate ways to change names. She mentions the blendings, the hyphens, the maiden-name-as-middle-name (which most women do), the name adoption in either direction, and one R. Alex left out: a woman who changes her name for family affairs and also keeps her professional name. Her children would be Whitlock, their teachers would know her as Mrs. Whitlock, her license would say Whitlock, but her books would be authored by Lafayette, her movies would star Lafayette, and her patients would know her as Dr. Lafayette. I know quite a few people who have done that last one; they say there are a few catches (explaining to dense people what is going on and having to have two bank accounts) but, on the whole, they're very satisfied.

I've always planned to change my name -- at my mother's urging, for she dislikes our harsh-sounding last name and wishes she'd stuck with and given us her Welsh maiden name. It doesn't have much resonance on my father's side, either, as he's an offshoot Truett family but in truth goes to Powlas and Lyerly family reunions, along with the other Truetts, and not to a specifically Truett reunion. (He's from a German-origin farming community in North Carolina, and they're big into names and reunions and all that.)

I got one feminist-liberal incredibly annoyed with me my freshman year up at Harvard, when I mentioned that I'd probably change my name (unless the guy was, you know, Bob Dipstick or something). She also couldn't understand why, having had experience of both, I preferred schools with uniforms to schools where "you are free to form your identity and express your individuality." (Uniforms are just so much easier, both in terms of pressure to be stylish and in terms of getting dressed quickly in the mornings, because you know exactly what you're wearing every day!) I explained to her that I wasn't that shallow; that I could be an individual no matter what clothes I was wearing, and that my self-identity wasn't tied up with a few syllables.

Assuming that I end up with Bob, I'd probably change my name to some lengthy South Indian name. That case is different, though, as most Tamil communities don't really have a concept of a last name. Low-caste people would be called just Thomas or Kannan or Preema; high-caste families such as Bob's sometimes take a caste-designation (Iyengar, Agrawal, Sharma, etc.) when authoring books, but generally just use their given name plus the father's initial as a prefix. To modify an example, Bob's grandfather's name was Ramaswamy. Bob's father's name is then R. Gopalakrishnan and his uncles are R. Sundareshwaran, R. Balasubramaniam, R. Krishnamurthy, and R. Laxminarayanan. The ones living in America, on forms where they have to write out a full first name on forms, write out Ramaswamy Gopalakrishnan, but they go by "Gopal" at the office and at home. The custom is broken when it gets to children (UPDATE: children of Bob's family in America, that is), however: Bob is Bob Gopalakrishnan, not G. Bob. Women, no matter what their caste, generally have only one name in Tamil areas. Priya is just Priya; when she marries, she affixes her husband's only name to her own. Low caste, she's Priya Thomas (but goes by just Priya); high caste, she's Priya Krishnamurthy, and sometimes goes by that whole name. So, in other words, while names are much more important -- spelling it a certain way (Iramasami instead of Ramaswamy) can make a political statement, and mispronouncing it can offend the gods -- they're not really something you pass on to your children and their children. Caste and sub-caste affiliation is your dynasty (insofar as there is that concept), not whether your last name is Kennedy or not.

I've got this nagging feeling that I'd change my name just to bug people. There was a wonderful Chronicle article a few years back by a non-Asian woman who'd changed her name to her husband's "Chang"; she wrote of being placed in charge of diversity at her company, of having people very angry at her because she didn't look like a Chang, and of having a much easier time getting reservations at popular Chinese restaurants. While a name may not change how you feel about yourself, it sure can change how other people treat you! That article inspired me -- messing with people's stereotypes, making them realize their shallowness doesn't work anymore... a good thing.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Reccomendation


Captain's Quarters is one nice-looking blog.

I'm Shocked


And, no matter how much of it I see, that's not a Claude Rains "Shocked! Shocked!"

Every time I see things like this (scroll down to the first picture), I'm dazed for a while in honest disbelief that there can be people like that. I get a little feeling that maybe that's a right-leaner plant, trying to make the left look bad... but then I realize that maybe that one sign-holder is, but there are tons of other sign-holders with similar messages, and no one in the photographed crowd seems to feel any need to take issue. The whole crowd can't be a plant. I just have to face it -- there are incredibly vile people around.

National Security


Just caught her on NBC and ABC, and, let me just say, I've never seen Condoleezza Rice so furious.

Dreams


I had the strangest dream. I was chatting with friends about Will & Grace, and then one of my mother's friends gave me a newspaper that had an article about a gym in Austin she thought I should go to. While I'm sitting outside reading the paper, a short and ugly policewoman with an odd and very breathy accent (somewhat vampiric-sounding) tells me I have to come with her:
"Why?"
"I heard your conversation earlier."
"About Will & Grace?"
"No, it was about Iraaahk." (That's what it sounded like.)
"ok.... so I have to come with you?"
"Just come."
"On what charge?"
"Well," she said with a sneer, "I'm sure you can think of some you wouldn't like."
So I go with her, and then ask if I can call my lawyer. She (surprisingly) gives assent, and hands me a phone. I know full well that I can never remember the phone number of my-uncle-the-lawyer, but I start dialling anyway, and then think: I should get Daniel Goldberg!
(Then I wake up.)

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Bad Fur Day?


Limecat is not only not pleased; today, he's downright grouchy.

Hochzeit


Everyone's married! Well, Spoons are spooning. Congrats.

Congrats!


Well, whaddya know. The pastor of my sometime church, Grace Street, has gone and gotten himself engaged to a very sweet girl. The best to them both!

Sanskritblog


It hasn't been updated in a month, but:
Sanskrit blog!

A Worthy Charity


Room to Read provides books, computer labs, and other assistance to third-world schools.

Pursuit of Justice


A Nebraska man running from the police ran over and killed three motorcyclists during the chase. The man was about to be questioned about accusations of sexual abuse of a child when he stole a car and drove off, police in hot pursuit. Not charged with anything, a relatively light sentence (relative to, say, execution) if charged, tried, and found guilty, no realistic chance of escape, and this man in desperation and panic finds it a good idea to steal a car and drive it so recklessly that he kills three people. (The killing was almost certainly not his intent, but the reckless driving was consciously undertaken; the law handles that, I believe.) All because of panic at the thought of being caught.

This is one of many cases where the question of police chases is raised. Often it is the person being chased who ends up hitting other people, but police are also known to have killed themselves and others in accidents during chases. (Ambulances are also fairly frequently in accidents as well; while this is especially traumatic for the passengers, few people argue that ambulances should take their time in getting to hospitals and not demand right-of-way). The question is: high speed chases obviously increase the chance of traffic accidents. Is it worth it? If you're chasing someone, as in this instance, who hasn't even been charged with anything but is simply running away, does his capture hold greater weight than the immediate safety of the public? Can it be argued that his capture, by any means, is good for the ultimate safety of the public (assuming, of course, that he is indeed guilty as alleged), and therefore worth while?

(On a similar topic, "Saving Private Ryan." How many soldiers die to get one fellow home to his mother? It is obvious that they would not have died getting Ryan out, had they never gone in after him, but it is impossible to say whether or not they would have died just as quickly doing something else -- or whether or not Ryan would have come out just fine without their help. Are their deaths worth it?)

Dorothy Sayers thought of this question often and had a few characters in her mystery novels discuss it, most notably in Gaudy Night. There, the question was framed somewhat differently, but along the same lines: if someone has committed a crime that merits the ultimate legal sentence (be it the death penalty, life imprisonment, or a six dollar fine in some bizarre country that can't imagine or conscience a harsher punishment than that -- all that really matters is that it is the highest possible penalty and no further crimes can increase it), and so has nothing more to lose, should that person still be found and made to fulfill the sentence -- even if, in an attempt to hide from justice, that person keeps on killing anyone who might have incriminating evidence? Those additional people would not have died if the chase were never made. Is there still an obligation on the part of the law to find and capture that person, regardless of the measures that person would take to evade capture?

Sayers comes weakly down on a resigned yes, deciding that there is no way to know that, having found it so easy to get away with it the first time, the person may not do the same thing over again. It's not a very reasonable conclusion to draw, to hope that a criminal, if not punished, will suddenly reform.

In a book she left uncompleted, later finished by the author of a children's book on the plague (of all things), Sayers seems to lean slightly in the other direction (spoiler ahead; texan roommates currently reading Thrones, Dominations should stop reading this post!). A man has killed a woman but does not realize that the circumstances are such that he would get a fairly light sentence. Fearing the worst, he goes on to kill a connected character to cover his tracks (and thereby securing the heaviest sentence for himself). Had he known his fears were overblown, he would not have killed the second person. The chase caused the second murder; the book as it stands gives no hint (other than a fiery temper) that the man would be likely to live anything other than a wholly respectable life, had he gone free. Sayers may have intended to discuss that question further, but this is all we have.

Whether it be a chase involving wheels or guns or one involving lawyers and detectives, a chase can drive the person being chased to horrible acts, things that might not have been done otherwise. Is that a good enough argument for abandoning chases entirely? In my rareified-atmosphere little black-and-white world, I say no; I say that justice must be done. I would have a hard time explaining that to the families of those killed in desperation as somewhat of side effects, though.

Pakistan


Just in from "Los Lonely Boys" at SXSW; they're fun.

And (unrelatedly) I see this NYT article (courtesy OxBlog) on Pakistan. Spot on. I'm afraid I've forgotten most of the examples from back when I did research on the subject, but my informed opinion at that time, remaining today, was this: Musharraf seems by far to be the least corrupt and dangerous of Pakistan's recent leaders. However, that's really not saying much, and is no reason why we should be so buddy-buddy. India's leaders may be fanatical despots, several of whom have a penchant for starting riots that invariably kill a few hundred people, but at least their evilness is only turned on their own people; I'd wager that, if you take out their mutual threat to each other, Pakistan is much more of a threat (directly or indirectly, through sale of nuclear info etc.) to other countries than India is.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Free Speech!


You know, if I were designing a university website, I'd think twice about whether or not the first thing I want people to notice is that, at my school, students are only allowed to exercise their free speech rights within specified zones, and by appointment only.

Monday, March 15, 2004

The Influence of the Media


One of the pleasures of being in Houston is the ability to go work out with the Texan roommate. She's bright, unimpeachably sensible, entertaining, and a welcome reminder that there are people my age with silly majors (she's Latin) who are not in academia eternally.

She also provides me with good insights. For example: we were discussing the bombings in Spain, a country she has lived in and knows well. She points out that it proves one thing: whatever groups did it, if they did it because they're angry about Spain being allied with the US in Iraq, they sure don't get all their news from the "unilateral war" New York Times!

(Perhaps that should be the new strategy: foreign countries who are our friends, make sure everyone reads only the NYTimes. Then nobody will be angry, because everyone will believe that the US has and deserves no friends, and therefore those foreign countries are not allied with the US and have nothing to fear from terrorist attacks!)

Houston


I'm in Houston this week, for spring break, so will probably not post all that much.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Why Italy is not like the UN


Ha!

Good Questions on ETA


While I wait to hear from friends in Madrid as to their safety, Secular Blasphemy asks a question I'd never thought of: "What is the point of terrorism if you don't take responsibility?"

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Benefits to not living in Italy


Here are some:
Hunting with dogs will be effectively prohibited because of a ban on the animals entering areas where meatballs laced with poison have been found. Another clause requires owners to ensure that each pet sharing a meal gets an equal portion.
Well, that second sentence is just plain silly (along with many other restrictions mentioned), but the first? I'm anti-hunting, so I'll go and put poisonous meatballs in every hunting area and then find them -- and then no hunters can take their dogs with them! Right...

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

India Bound


It's official; come June, for two or three months, this will become an India-blog. I have just been accepted to a language program in Madurai, South India. I'll still post on whatever comes to mind, but I'll also put a travelogue in and have more to say on South Asian issues.

With that in mind, both as I will want to post many many pictures and as I am sick of these colors and Blogger's permalink issues, I think I will finally make the jump to a different format. OxBlog will be the only blogspot blog I really know, then. So, all you MT / Typepad / something else users, plug your systems! Tell me what you like, what you don't like, what you think I should do, what you think I should be wary of. I won't switch instantly, but I will before this summer.

UPDATE: Same goes for people who have Blogger's paid service. Is it any better/worse? I heard stories at the beginning, about how it deletes half your archives during the switch... that still true?

Currently leaning nowhere, as both Trivial Pursuits and Bayou City Perspective (which sounds far too similar to a certain other blog) look nice. We'll see!

Cheese-eating...


This page commemorating the victims of the Haifa bombing has something very interesting at the end, where they list international reactions.
Bush: It's terrorism, murder, and the PA really should try to stop it -- they're the main reason there are problems.
US State Department Spokesman: It's terrible, there's no excuse, and the PA is useless and not doing what they should be doing.
Blair: It's terrorism and against the best interests of the Palestinians.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin: Well, it might be terrorism, but the Israelis better not try to do anything to stop it! We're trusting Arafat to do that, because he's our friend. If the Israelis do anything, they'll screw their chances for restarting the political process. Because it's not the fault of the PA.

Gotta hate the French...

The kind of reporter I'd love to see


Lileks has it just right:
So Teresa Heinz-Kerry passes out buttons that say “Asses of Evil,” with pictures of Bush, Cheney, Rummy and Ashcroft on them. There you have it: the President of the United States is an Evil Ass. I’d love for someone to put this question to Kerry in the debate: Senator Kerry, your wife handed out buttons that called the President an Evil Ass. Do you believe he is Evil, an Ass, or both? And if I may follow up, I’d like to ask if you can possibly imagine Laura Bush doing that. Thank you.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Great Advertising


Gotta love WINAMP: Their title is, "We know of an ancient radiation that haunts dismembered constellations," and their ad for the newest version reads, "Most things actually work!"

How Will You Vote?


Apparently, I'm a typical Democrat voting for Kerry.

Belated Link


I keep forgetting to mention one group blog that's well worth a visit: Jessica's Well - A Midland, Texas Blog on Media and Government.

There. Now, I've mentioned it.

Friday, March 05, 2004

the friday five


What was...

1. ...your first grade teacher's name?

Miss Dodd. She struck me as very old. I doubt she was even thirty.

2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
Gummy Bears! Now it's Redwall.

3. ...the name of your very first best friend?
Elaine MacIntyre. We were best friends when we were two. I came into contact with her again two years ago, when I bought a book from the company she worked for.

4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?
Kix. Now, while I still like Kix, I prefer Kashi Good Friends.

5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?
Read a book. Still is.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

How to Make Election Season Interesting


I go for numbers 2, 4, and 8 in this list.

Recipeblogging


I consider myself a pretty good cook. I make fancy dishes regularly; I also pride myself on making very healthy food that still tastes excellent. That said, I doubt I've made a dish that tastes quite as good as what I made tonight. I heartily recommend this recipe from Instapundit. It is fabulous. Especially with cornish game hen instead of chicken, so it tastes richer and is just the right size for two.

Go try it out yourself!

Enjoyable?


Wow! you like me, you really like me!
(Thanks, OxBlog!)

Well, whaddya know?


Apparently, I'm the country of Texas:



You're Texas!

You aren't really much of your own person, but everyone around
you wishes you'd go away, so you might as well be independent.  You're
sort of loud-mouthed and abrasive, but you do have a fair amount of power.  You
like big trucks, big cattle, and big oil rigs.  And sometimes you really
smell.  But it's not all bad, you're big enough to have some soft spots
somewhere in all that redneck madness.

Take the Country
Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid




But, well, you know, I do like this one:




You're The Fellowship of the Ring!

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Facing great adversity, you have decided that your only choice is to
unite with your friends and neighbors. You have been subject to a ton of squabbling and
ultimately decided that someone humble is your best candidate for a dangerous mission.
You're quite good with languages and convinced that not all who wander are lost. If you
see anyone in black robes on horseback, just run. That's just common sense.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.



(Via Courreges.)

Another One Rides the Bus


Well, whaddya know? Bob's roommate has just gone and gotten himself engaged! (Congratulations!)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Marriage Debate


I'd just like to say, no matter what Optimistic OxBlog may think, opposition to interracial marriage has not died out. Not within Bob's family, unfortunately, and not in the general community either. The opposed groups have changed, that's all. No longer rednecks with shotguns and broken refrigerators on the front lawn, now it's a certain subset of liberals and a very large portion of non-white communities. (The Professor covered this quite some time ago. So did 60 Minutes, on the topic of black antagonism to blacks dating whites, if I'm not mistaken.)

Then again, perhaps Josh Chafetz's analogy between homosexual marriage and interracial marriage does work: there are two groups that I have encountered that speak out against homosexual marriage. The first would be the traditionalist-types, who take the same stance and use some of the exact same arguments as the above-mentioned rednecks. The other group is, as above, a certain small subset of liberals who provide reams of fodder for the traditionalists. They argue that concepts of "monogamy" and "exclusivity" are repressive and conservative; they say that a two-parent household, even if mother-mother or father-father, is inherently "heteronormative" and is an artificial construct wherein homosexuals try to pretend they're "straight" purely as a weak concession to the oppressive homophobic majority, a majority that needs to get over its sexual hangups and realize that homosexuals should be free to love freely (in a true 1970s style). These are the people who set up websites charting the best "cruisey" spots in metropolitan areas across the country; these are the people who gave us the term "glory hole"; these are the people who argue that we need to move beyond the idea that there should be trust and an emotional relationship before (or alongside) sex -- or even an introduction first.

I don't think that group is very large -- as I said, they're a small subset of liberals -- and I only came across a handful within my dorm at Harvard; there can't be more than a few dozen with that mindset on the campus. They sound just like my mother says her college classmates sounded (burn bras! free love! the more the merrier!), and they'll probably end up the same way (either entirely cleaned up and running businesses or dead of drugs and disease). The difference? My mother's hippy classmates' sexual notions had little effect on the public view of heterosexual behavior, as 1) they were seen as silly young folk and 2) heterosexual marriage was the standard and already quite well known. Same for modern heterosexual free-love types: average Americans will look on them as sluts or cads. The free-love homosexual group, today, carries more weight, because 1) we don't really have that many examples of homosexual marriages to go on (relationships, yes, but not marriages) and 2) the concept itself is under debate, so opposers are quite willing to listen to and hold up as examples people who perfectly epitomize everything they find wrong with the lifestyle.

I think groups with this opinion do more than any religious restrictions or victorian sentiments to turn public sentiment against pro-homosexual advocacy. If everyone thought that the average homosexual man was like Will on "Will & Grace", with dreams of house&spouse and pretty mainstream values, I feel there would be less opposition. As it is, the average homosexual man is seen, with great help from the media, to be someone like Jack on "Will & Grace", eager to jump into bed with anyone walking down the street and dreaming up ways to get cute heterosexual guys drunk and willing, or someone like the "Queer Eye" fellows, with dreams of "queering" or feminizing every man in America. Of course, books and studies put out -- by homosexual activist groups, not by anti-homosexual activist groups -- that quite clearly put the average homosexual guy into the polyamory category and talk about the backwards and old-fashioned nature of the idea that "fidelity" means not having sex with other people... well, those books don't do too much to help further the notion that the only difference between homosexual and heterosexual is that homosexuals want the same sex and heterosexuals want the opposite sex.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Languages at the BBC


You know, with Macedonian, Hausa, and Sinhala, you'd think the BBC World Service could offer German...