Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not my Style

I'm really trying to get the website and photos from Ireland up (only three years later! eek!) and came across this photo again and had to wonder, "what the hell? Who decorates like this?"

They're called Leuchterweibchen and Lüsterweibchen, and are usually from Germany and most examples date from the 15th-17th century. (If you can read German, the wiki page has more explanation)

Usually angels or mermaids with antlers, apparently all the rage in the 16h century. I wonder if these were viewed as treasured (if odd) artistic masterpieces or as the medieval trailer-trash equivalent of an antler chair? I haven't a clue.

If you stare at them long enough, they actually start to become attractive.


A popup blurb on the history channel noted that "out of every 10,000 acorns produced, one will grow into a tree."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Exodus 32

From Pharyngula:
Some Christian fanatics are concerned, quite reasonably, about the economy, and have chosen, quite absurdly, to try and correct the problem with prayer. So far, so typical, but then … well, they picked a peculiarly oblivious way to do it. They prayed before a statue of a golden bull on Wall Street.
If it makes people feel better, pray. Go for it. I'm not dissing the intent -- just the execution. The location of the prayer meeting at "the golden calf" was either a) brilliantly planned as a piquant irony or b) entirely oblivious to the rather odd juxtaposition of worship idol.

I know they aren't praying TO the idol, but the image is right out of the movie The Ten Commandments and it did give me just a little giggle today.

When you Vote

I've already voted (by mail, which is allowed in Colorado for everyone), and many other people are taking advantage of "early voting" in person, but many people are waiting until Election Day to vote, and trying to juggle work and commute and other reponsibilities that day.

I personally think that Election Day should be a federal holiday. I mean, Columbus gets a day, isn't the day we celebrate the internal workings of our democracy (or republic, if you must pick nits) important enough to take off?

At any rate, here are the state-by-state rules for taking time off work to vote.

Also if you have any questions about whether you are registed or what status your absentee vote is in, check out

Not sure what you need to do to identify yourself? Are you a student and not sure if you can vote at home or at school?

You keep using that word...

For those people who are spouting off about socialists and socialism, here's what the word actually means:

socialism (sou.Saliz'm). a. Fr. socialisme (1832), or independently f. social a. + -ism. See also next.

1. A theory or policy of social organization which aims at or advocates the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land, property, etc., by the community as a whole, and their administration or distribution in the interests of all.

2. A state of society in which things are held or used in common.

[From the OED]

You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

I know it's a big, scary sort of word, but whipping it out to freak out the "base" when you obviously don't really understand what it means, is manipulative.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Woofly woofly urp

I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new computer game - Fallout 3, by the same company that made my favorite game, Oblivion -- and when it arrived in stores today, I was there and skipped back home to install and play it.

Lovely, game. Well, beautiful graphics, great sound, gorgeous "environment", even if the setting of the game is post-apocalyptic Washington DC populated by mutants and malfunctioning military robots.

Of course, I put it on the humungous new monitor, started playing, and got motion sick.

Seriously. Teeth-clenchingly nauseated. My monitor is too big to play immersive first person games.

Well, at least without a bit more practice and an empty stomach.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Xray Tape

Weird factoid -- when you peel normal Scotch tape in a vacuum, it emits x-rays -- apparently enough to generate an image! How weird is that.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have shown that simply peeling ordinary sticky tape in a vacuum can generate enough X-rays to take an image — of one of the scientists' own fingers (see videos).
That's actually kind of cool. Everyone has done the Wintergreen Lifesaver crunch test, and apparently some other adhesives do the same thing. It apparently has something to do with crushing crystals and breaking molecular bonds, but they aren't quite sure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All the Weather

We have been hosting the Adorable Husband's relatives from Sweden for a few days, and trying to show them the highlights of Denver -- amazing how hard it is to think of what to do and where to go; I mean, we live here, we should be able to pick the top three or four things easily!

We went out yesterday to the Celestial Seasonings tour -- we still smelled like the "mint room" at dinner! -- and then walked up and down Pearl Street Mall and watched the people. Everyone wanted to see where the Husband worked, so we stopped in to the hospital and took a quick tour. They had a patient in the lab, so we didn't stay very long before heading down for Mexican food for dinner. We laughed that Sweden didn't really have any Mexican restaurants, and if they did, they would probably be very bad.

We got all kinds of weather, though. Rain, sun, sleet. We managed to time our visits indoors to the rain and sleet, and be outside when it was sunny!

The predictions for today were for windy and cold -- it was cold, but beautifully sunny and we drove up the canyon to Estes Park, and back down through Lyons. We even saw some Bighorn sheep. Finally, we went to the science museum, because we have the best dinosaurs.

It's been really fun, and they are so nice!

I have to work tomorrow, but everyone else is going to go out to do something fun before they have to leave -- on to Florida to visit more family and go to Disneyworld.

Small-town American Value

I'm sure that everyone wants her to look nice, but spending three times a "average American's" yearly income on clothes for just two months seems a bit excessive to me.

The RNC has expensed over $150,000 for clothes and accessories for Palin and her family since she was selected as VP, including baby items. In two months, they've spent that much on clothes and shoes and whatever for the whole Palin family. Seriously? Does no one think that might be a bit extravagant in this time of people worrying about their jobs and trying to make ends meet and buy groceries or pay for their house? Ostensibly the clothes can be "donated" somewhere. Who knows. Apparently "real americans" spend 75 thousand dollars at a shot at Nieman Marcus. I know for sure that I don't. Does anyone? Does "small town america" think that's reasonable? I thought this ticket was all about the middle class. I don't konw what their definition is, but it isn't mine.

I'm sure it's a common thing, but the amount seems really high, to me. If I had donated to the RNC, I'd be pretty damn pissed that they squandered it on dressing Palin up instead of helping Republicans in key races. Legal or not (and there is some question), how are the struggling Americans supporting the Republican ticket going to feel about that? Dressing up the candidate could probably get a pass (although she's been a politician for years now, shouldn't she already have a wardrobe?), but gussying up the whole family? Add that to the outrageous expenditures and questionable behavior as governor and it's just too much. Who signed off on this? Who authorized the charges?

I guess the thing that bothers me about this is that the Republicans apparently spared no thought to spend nearly 200K on her clothes and makeup....but didn't seem to spend any time or money actually educating her on what she needs to know to be be VP. She still can't articulate what the role of the VP is (and is frighteningly, completely wrong on how they "Run the senate!"), is uninformed about world affairs, and is actively contradicting McCain. It's representative of how the party views her, though -- she isn't expected to DO anything, just look pretty. The Republican party's disdain for women and women's abilities is breathtaking.

If a $300 haircut was once the epitome of "elitist" and "out of touch", what are 300 dollar shoes? Or $8K in makeup for McCain? Apparently, it's only wrong if you're not a Republican.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And I Believe...

I've been hearing and reading a lot of people stating that "I believe x is true" or "I believe y is false" lately (especially in relation to political arguments), and I have to admit a bit of frustration. Belief is the purview of religious faith, or conjecture, or wishful thinking. You might believe that angels exist, or you might believe that your sister ate the last cupcake, or you might believe that it will rain tomorrow. None of these things is demonstrably true. I believe that it will be cold tonight and I believe that my dog really does have some sort of mental power that causes me to open the biscuit bin.

In that usage, I have no problem with it. Believe or don't believe in those instances and everyone knows what you mean: you wish/hope that angels exist, you want it to be true that your sister ate the cupcake, you wish that it will rain tomorrow. I want it to be cold tonight, I love cold weather, and I suspect that I am extremely well-trained by my dogs to fetch things for them.

Why does this come up? During the debate last night, John McCain stated that he would "fight for the line-item veto" as a way of eliminating ear-marks and the much-maligned pork in the budget. He obviously wasn't paying attention when the Supreme Court rejected the line-item veto as unconstitutional. He believes that it could be constitutional, that it is constitutional, but that the previous legislation was "flawed".

Sorry, that doesn't fly. This has already gone to the SC and it's not constitutional. That's fact. No belief required or allowed.

You don't get to "believe" contrary to facts. You might not like them, and you might wish that they weren't true, but that doesn't change the objective facts out there that simply are. Saying that you "believe something to be true/false" when there is objective evidence that it is true or false is just wishful thinking. Your belief in that case is unnecessary and can be absolutely wrong.

The Holocaust, Global warming, evolution, the age of the earth, (all things I've heard recently as "I don't believe in...") these things are not really up for the application of belief. Saying you "don't believe in global warming" or "don't believe in evolution" simply marks you as someone who is uninformed. We might not know the reason things happen, or what specific causes exist, but the facts are not in question. For example, do we know that human beings have caused global warming? Do we know exactly why or how a common ancestor behaved? No, but that doesn't change that facts, and it's frustrating to discuss any of these topics with someone who shoves their "belief" up front as if it is proof against all logic and reason. "I don't believe the holocaust actually occured, " I was reading this week. Huh? When the voluninous evidence for this event was presented, it was hand-waved away, with "oh, that's all fabricated". As the conversation got more heated, the initial poster suddenly started copmlaining that we weren't "respecting his belief". It was almost surreal. That sort of belief does not deserve respect, it deserved derision, not just because Holocaust-denial is considered anti-semitism of the highest order, but because that much-vaunted belief is contrary to reality and flat-out wrong.

For many, "I believe" is a shorthand for a lot of things. I have used believe in relation to Global Warming - as in, "I don't believe that humans are solely responsible for the rise in global temperature" when what I really mean is "Based on what I know, and the studies that I have read, there are many things that could be responsible for the effects, not just humans". It's sloppy wording, really.

But what I'm seeing a lot of lately is someone announcing "they believe X" and then getting all offended and pissy when you dare to question that belief.

The world is rarely black and white, so we all equivocate to some extent to avoid having to state with authority something which we don't know for certain. But I'm going to be far more careful of my use of "believe", or at least I will try to. It's picking nits, really, I know that. We all know what people mean when they say this; we don't equate "I believe the line-item veto is constitutional" with "I believe in unicorns". Or at least we shouldn't.


Seriously. What is WRONG with these people?

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles. It was sent out in an email newsletter to about 200 members, many of whom responded with outrage and anger. But the president of the organization seems surprised that anyone would find her "joke" to be offensive.

The graphic comes from here.

"It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement [that he doesn't look like other presidents]. I really don't want to go into it any further," Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn't my attempt."

Fedele said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent her the e-mails with the illustration.

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

"I didn't see it the way that it's being taken. I never connected," she said. "It was just food to me. It didn't mean anything else."

She said she also wasn't trying to make a statement linking Obama and food stamps, although her introductory text to the illustration connects the two: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on????? Food Stamps, what else!"

Her disingenous "oh, no, I'm not a racist, narrow-minded offensive bigot I have black friends" is pretty repulsive. No, she's not racist.Those images were just cute, meaningless examples. She never thought of it that way. You believe that, right? All in fun!

Yeah. Riiiiiiiight.

Here's the source of the graphic. There is no way she didn't "know" that this was a racist piece of crap, if she took half a second to actually read the disgusting email or website that she was sent:

Red Kool-Aid, fried chicken, watermelon, and even pork ribs are displayed on the document as a reminder", Plouffe continued, "The food stamp amount correlates to the cost of the item. For example, the $10 food stamp has things like ribs and chicken, while the $5 food stamp relevantly displays Collard Greens, diapers, and MD 20/20."

Anyone reading this think that isn't racist? Anyone reading this who doesn't think it's offensive and patently racist? How could you not?

There is a contingent of right-wing voters who really are hung up on race, and seem to find no problems with expressing that. I guess when their candidate himself doesn't seem to mind the angry, racist shouts at his rallies, the rest of the "base" (and I mean that in all possible connotations) think it's ok. Nice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Unfunny Comedy

Since my primary news source lately has been The Daily Show and Colbert Report, I'm watching a lot of Comedy Central. I've been seeing ads for the last week or so for a new show called Chocolate News - a spoof comedy news show "from an African-American perspective".

Some of the clips looks pretty funny, but for the most part they are squirmingly painful and embarrassing. Now, I'm about as white as white can be. I glow. I'm faintly blue. So maybe I just don't get it, but if I were black, I would be mortified to be associated with the stereotypes and mocking portrayals in the skits. I assume it's supposed to be self-deprecating humor, self-mocking, a "we can say whatever we want because we're laughing at ourselves" sort of show, but the caricatures aren''t funny. They're cruel and demeaning. I don't get the attraction. It's as if every African-American sitcom has to play a grotesque mockery of a character. It's all MadTV, all the time.

It's kind of the same way I feel about Sarah Silverman. When she's funny, she is really funny. But that's about 5% of the time. Most of her stand up and all of her television show are stupid and insulting and squirm inducing. Not funny at all, not even in an uncomfortable "ha-ha-" sort of way. She's just lame and seems to want to shock instead of amuse. I suppose there's an allure there, but I don't quite understand it.

Humor is a very personal thing; funny to one person is offensive or flat or boring to someone else. I'll be the first to admit that I have a strange sense of humor (I tend to laugh myself silly in movies where no one else laughs), but I can't summon even a moment of interest to watch the show.

National Grouch Day

Release your Inner Grouch!

October 15th is National Grouch Day, according to Sesame Street Magazine. And here I was wondering why I was so crabby on this gorgeous fall day!
"A Grouch's mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible, and pass that feeling on to everyone else. Only then will a Grouch feel in touch with his or her world and be happy. Yet, even though a Grouch may show happiness at anyone's misfortune (including his or her own), a Grouch would never admit to being happy. Such is the stability of a Grouch's life: so balanced, and yet so unbalanced.

This is the tenor of the campaign?

The Sacremento GOP site. (well, it's been removed now, but it was considered OK before!). Great job fomenting hate, there, McCain/Palin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Happy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Watching the English

On the recommendation of a reader list online that I browse through, I picked up a book called Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior, by Kate Fox - an anthropological view of the strange and exotic culture of England. Instead of spending time in remote Burundi or the Amazon rainforest, Kate Fox spends time cutting lines and watching pub behavior in her native country, and the result is an absolutely fascinating, funny, irreverent look at why the English are so English and why everyone else is so not.

The Adorable Husband made the mistake of picking it up from the pile of books in the bathroom (yes, we have piles of books in every bathroom. Everyone reads in the bathroom, even those people who deny it. We know you do!) and was actually late for work. I've been reading it at random and picking out bits. Having traveled to the UK, and knowing a couple of Veddy English People, some of these observations are absolutely dead on.

Queueing, for example. There are endless jokes about how the English line up for thing automatically, even if there really isn't a line, and the author describes the phenomenon of the "queue of one" - English people don't loll about at bus stops, or pace around the curb while waiting to cross, oh, no,. They will stand lined up with the sign, facing the road, looking for all the world like they are the first person in the queue. Even if it's only them. I had to laugh while reading this, because it's one of the things I noticed over and over in Ireland - people standing with an obvious purpose waiting for things, but with absolutely nothing around them.

And this bit on Toast, which had both of us laughing -- this is exactly our experience:
...Toast is a breakfast staple, and an all-purpose, anytime comfort food. What tea alone does not cure, tea and toast surely will. The 'toast rack' is a peculiarly English object. My father, who lives in America and ha become somewhat American in his tastes and habits, calls it a 'toast cooler' and claims that its sole function is to ensure that one's toast gets stone cold as quickly as possible. English supporters of the toast rack would argue that it keeps the toast dry and crisp, that separating the slices of toast and standing them upright stops them becoming soggy, which is what happens to American toast, served piled up hugger-mugger in a humid, perspiring stack on the plate, sometimes even wrapped in a napkin to retain yet more moisture. The English would rather have their toast cool and dry than warm and damp. American toast lacks reserve and dignity; it is too sweaty and indiscreet and emotional.
Sweaty toast? Well, that explains our experiences with the metal 'toast coolers' (which the Adorable Husband call them, too).

I definitely recommend the book - it is charming and funny.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Dissed at Daycare

We are banned from Puppy Camp.

We waited over six months after Rowan had his Very Bad Day, we haven't had any problems at home at all, so we tried a half-day at Camp.

He lasted 15 minutes. They mixed Rowan and Berit in with the other forty or so dogs and Rowan went after the first dog that followed him and they turned the hose on him again.
No one was hurt, just lots of snarling and snapping, but he was definitely not on his best behavior.

I had just gotten home and started up the puppy cam to see how things were going when they called me and let me know what happened. I drove straight back out and picked them up. Rowan's a love with people, but he's definitely on the far end of the 'dog aggressive/dominant' range that Akitas seem to live in. Damn.

He's been very affectionate all afternoon, and has been trying to wedge himself under my desk and making big sad puppy eyes at me. He's definitely sorry!

Berit can go back, but Rowan is officially, "asked not to return".


This is brilliant. We should do this at every appearance by every political candidate. Way better than a "debate" that is little more than a scripted talk-show.

Is this the country you want?

McCain asked "who is Barack Obama?" and someone in the crowd yells out "Terrorist!" McCain doesn't react.

Palin trots our her newest soundbite "and he's pallin' around with terrorists!" and someone in the crow yells out "Kill him!" and as she blames the media for her failed interviews, someone tells a black sound-man for one of the networks to "sit down, boy!"

Sounds more like a klan rally than a political rally, doesn't it? Is this the sort of leadership that we want in the white house? McCain and Palin now seem to be deliberately targeting those with a pent up need to finally give their hate free reign and they are enjoying the attention that their baseless attacks are garnering. That's just dishonorable. Does anyone really want to be associated with these people?

When you base all your hopes on a campaign of hate and fear, you bring out the worst in people. This is the path McCain has taken. Liberal = unpatriotic = terrorist. What a great message.

And the base? Looooooves it.

Sarah Palin was on the verge of inciting a race riot in northern Florida yesterday. At her rallies, the Republican faithful hurled a racial epithet at a black sound man, and screamed "kill him" and "treason!" at Barack Obama.

"Boy, you guys just get it!" Palin responded. This reaction, presumably, was what Palin had in mind when she urged John McCain to "take the gloves off."

I am disgusted. And frightened.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Math

I'm not watching the debate - I've already voted, it's not going to change my mind, I really can't stand the mudslinging any more. I'm keeping up with the transcript. However, I'm getting very tired this tired old canard:

"Obama voted 94 times for tax increases or against tax cuts." Palin used it, McCains brought it up again.

Using the same methods that the McCain campaign used to calculate that number, McCain has voted for 477 tax increases.

Farmkid Quiz

Ok, match the tractor color to the manufacturer:

1. Red, 2. Green 3. Yellow, 4. Orange, 5. Blue, 6. Gray.

A. Allis-Chalmers, B. Ferguson, C. Ford, D. Int'l Harvester, E. John Deere, F. Mpls Moline.

It's not really quite that simple - most manufacturers made tractors in many colors, but there are some "traditional colors".

Answers: 1D, 2E, 3F, 4A, 5C, 6B

Monday, October 06, 2008

Donations wanted

Does anyone have a spare six million laying around, that they would like to donate to the Phouka Has Found Her New House Fund?

An entire island is for sale - Wee Cumbrae, of the Ayrshire coast in Scotland. 680 acres, a sprawling Victorian mansion, Gertrude Jekyll gardens, and an actual ruined castle!

It's perfect!

Well, except for the no electricity except for generators, and access only by boat, but otherwise... lovely, eh?

NOW does not endorse Palin

If you were worried that NOW (National Org for Women ) had lost its mind and was endorsing Gov. Palin, based on the fact that a woman named Shelly Mandell, identifying herself as the president of the LA NOW introduced Palin at a California event and heartily endorsed her -- well, you can relax. Or get pissed, pick your poison.

Shelly Mandell was acting on her own, apparently invoking her position in NOW to mislead people into thinking that the womens' organization endorsed Palin. NOW in NO WAY supports or endorses Palin.

Statement from CA NOW President, Patty Bellasalma:

A member and officer of the Los Angeles NOW chapter, Shelly Mandell, recently introduced Governor Sarah Palin at an event in Carson, California. Ms. Mandell was speaking as an individual and was not authorized to represent NOW, the NOW PAC or LA NOW in any capacity in connection with a federal candidate endorsement. As NOW President Kim Gandy said upon Palin’s selection , "Not every woman supports women's rights."

The use of Shelly Mandell’s Los Angeles NOW title was apparently intended to mislead the public, and indeed has resulted in local television outlets and internet reports misstating that LA NOW has “endorsed” Sarah Palin or that she has a record of supporting women’s rights. This in fact is not the case.

As President of California NOW and as a member and officer of Los Angeles NOW, I can assure you that there is no local or state affiliate of NOW, including LA NOW, which endorses or supports the McCain/Palin ticket. John McCain and Sarah Palin oppose many of the rights and freedoms we have fought for throughout NOW's 42 years, and we will not be pushed back to the days of back-alley abortions, forced pregnancies, and pay discrimination without remedy.

Shelly Mandel should be removed from her position of authority in the LA chapter. She certainly does not represent the organization's long and hard-fought gains for women.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

And it goes with the CLOCK!

Other than an ottoman, the living room is pretty much done! DONE! Yeah! I should have taken pictures when the sun was shining, but here's a quick look:—

Pretty different, eh? It's amazing how much warmer the room feels -- and we can actually sit down and talk to each other without getting neck strain!

You can't actually see the couch pattern very well -- here it is, a dark gold, black, and red paisley. The pillows are merlot and merlot/dark green stripe. Mark's new recliner (which I didn't get a picture of, it looks like a blob in this light) is chocolate brown.

And in this corner....

The latest attack ad by the mcCain camp is to try to link Obama's ideology to that of William Ayers and claiming that he's "palling around with terrorists". This is pretty shaky, at best, considering that their "relationship" consists of being on a community board together almost 30 years after Ayers actions with the WUO. They aren't "buddies", they don't "pal around".They have met. Which, apparently, is enough for McCain/Palin to start announcing that Obama has terrorist intentions. Lies and distortions. Well, I shouldn't be surprised. That seems to the be new "plan" for the campaign.
Obama is close enough to Ayers that it is relevant to inquire about Ayers beliefs, and ask whether Obama shares them.
But, let's see here. If picking up on every acquaintance and associate in a candidates' past is fair game, to see if they might have some dirt to divulge, let's see what we should be looking at:
  • John McCain is close enough to Raffaello Follieri that is is relevant to inquire about Follieri's beliefs and ask whether McCain shares them.
  • Sarah Palin is close enough to Pastor Muthee that is is relevant to inquire about Muthee's beliefs and ask whether McCain shares them.
  • John McCain is close enough to Charles Keating that is is relevant to inquire about Keating's beliefs and ask whether McCain shares them.
  • Sarah Palin close enough to the AIP that is is relevant to inquire about the AIP's beliefs and ask whether McCain shares them.
  • John McCain and Sarah Palin are close enough to George Bush that is is relevant to inquire about Bush's beliefs and ask whether McCain shares them.
Why would anyone with any hint of scandal in their past get into the ring and start swinging? Do they think people aren't going to remember or ask questions?

Negative campaign ads annoy the hell out of me. I'd love to see a rule that you can't mention the other candidate in your ad - only your own abilities and ideas. Maybe that would raise the level of discourse and actually, you know, educate the voters about what the two different sides are.

Nah, that wouldn't be fun. It wouldn't get ratings, I guess.


One of the most incomprehensible arguments I hear for voting the Republican ticket is, "you're a woman, you should vote for Palin! You should vote for a woman!" as if having a vagina is enough qualification for me to turn off my brain and ignore the fact that she represents exactly 0 of my views. As I've noted before, I find it insulting that they assume I'd vote my genitalia despite my beliefs.

At a rally on Saturday in California, Sarah Palin offered up a rather jarring argument for supporting the Republican ticket. "There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't support other women," the Alaska Governor said, claiming she was quoting former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The statement came after Palin had recounted a "providential" moment she experienced on Saturday: "I'm reading on my Starbucks mocha cup, okay? The quote of the day... It was Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State [crowd boos] and UN ambassador. ... Now she said it, I didn't. She said, 'There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't support other women.'"

Well, at least we know what Palin reads now. Starbucks cups. And she gets them wrong.

The actual quote is "There is a special place is hell for women who don't HELP other women."

Albright, in response, noted that the quote was not political in nature, and that it was entirely misrepresented by Palin. "This is yet another example of McCain and Palin distorting the truth." she said.

Given that Palin is anti-choice, anti-contraception, anti-sex ed, signed off on rape victims to paying for their own rape kit and evidence collection, and would force them to carry a rapists baby to term...well, she's not exactly helping or supporting other women, is she? Palin (deliberately?) substituted in the word "support" for "help." Entirely different meaning. Perhaps she out to shell out a couple of bucks for a pair of fireproof pants for her own trip to hell.

Palin, honey? That quote is about women like YOU.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Things I Learned

Should I ever have the privilege of standing on the stage as a political candidate, here are a few things I learned from watching/reading the presidential debate last week and the vp debate last night:

1. Learn to say 'nuclear'. It is not pronounced nu-ku-lur. Why politicians can't manage to learn how to say this simple three-syllable word properly is a mystery. Nu-clear. How hard is that? If you can manage to spout Ahamdinejad, work on nuclear, please.

(1b. And, while we're at it, pronounce the whole word, don't drop the 'g. Words have final consonants in English. It's not folksy, it's not cute, it's a weird affectation.)

2. Answer the questions that you are asked. Don't just spout words on a topic that you pick, so that the moderator has to ask you if you intend to 'address the topic'. You just look disorganized and an awful lot like a droid spouting words you don't understand if your answer isn't related to the actual question.

3. Keep track of your comparisons so that you don't argue that a = b for your side, but that a <> b for your opponent. McCains programs are a tax cut because of tax savings in other areas, but Obamas programs are a tax increase despite a tax savings in other areas. People are smart enought to notice that, and will be angry that you think they're stupid. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

4. Know when your mike is on and when it is not. Don't mutter, don't speak under your breath, and don't gush.

5. Speak in complete sentences. Yes, I know that we often speak in sentence fragments and short bursts, that's just the way the spoken language works. But when you are trying to explain something or present an idea, use a complete sentence with a subject, a verb, and an object. Try to express a complete thought before moving on to the next one. Talking in little sound-bites that are all over the place makes people sound stupid and ill-informed, even if they are brilliant.

6. Pay attention to what your opponent says and does. At least acknowledge a personal revelation or moment of difficulty with some sort of approrpriate response. And make sure you know what sort of family history or family tragedy is involved so you don't stick your foot in your mouth. A brief moment of sympathy or a nod of understanding will go a long way.

7. Don't stare into the camera all the time, thinking it means you're 'connecting with the people', it comes off kind of scary. Look at your opponent, look at the moderator, and try not to grimace like it's painful. But also don't smile like a goofball, either. Practice in front of the mirror. Don't squint so your eyes disappear, either, especially if you have wrinkles.

8. Folksiness only works when it's real. It's easy to overdo. "Doggone", " darn it". "you betcha", "yup", "ain't", "joe six-pack" are ok once or twice, but repeated they start to sound condescending and dimwitted. Intelligent, capable people do not talk like this when addressing the electorate. We aren't afraid of big words, really.

9. Make sure you actually understand the positions of your own party and can explain them correctly. Contradicting yourself or your running made doesn't inspire confidence. If you manage to contradict yourself in only a few sentences, that's even worse.

10. Don't try to give yourself a nickname and make it stick. Everyone remembers the geeky, weird high-school kid who made up his own nickname and started to use it all the time, hoping it would catch one. It's pathetic and painfully awkward. You cannot give yourself a nickname or a catchphrase; someone else has to give it to you. Period.

Work fun

So I get a call this morning from my client, a bit hysterical. The external part of the application we built (in a web-based toolkit) for users outside of their company to access 'doesn't work". The users in the remote location "can't get in".

I have to admit I started laughing like a hyena. The system is supposed to go LIVE on Monday. This part of the app has been done since MARCH. Do you think they might have tested things, oh, I don't know, before today?

Oh, it was well tested for functionality by the internal users. But in the last nine months, no one thought to get ONE USER from outside the network to try to access the application? Really?

I read the horror stories about client projects all the time in the various technical magazines....I apparently should start writing them!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

You Betcha

The Adorable Husband says I'm very worked up. Watched part of the vp debate, but pretty much resorted to reading the transcript live instead of watching when Palin started winking and saying 'nukulur'.

Palin did much better than I expected, really. But I simply expected that she wouldn't be a complete idiot and would have been prepped well enough not to drool on herself. Biden wasn't as fiery as I have seen him before, but he was dead-on with the issues even if he wasn't as aggressive as I would have liked. Palin isn't a vp candidate, she's a game show contestant, and it showed. Biden has the chops.

But the biggest thing I cam away with? Palin failed in her job to educate the voters on her running mate's plans and issues. Biden spent a lot of time criticizing McCain and less time clarifying the issues (although he did ten times better than Palin did on issues).

Palin didn't answer the questions. She refused to go with the moderator's questions. They weren't what she'd been relentlessly drilled on, so she picked the topic and spoke on it. She had a set of memorized "speeches" that she had to get in, and she did a great job of doing that. But there was no substance there whatsoever. She was glib and managed to speak in reasonable sentences (a huge change from her crash-and-burn interviews this week), but it was just a series of cliches and fake-folksey 'you betchas'.

The fact-checking was definitely in Biden's favor - and in the end, this isn't going to change anyone's opinion. That's the purpose here - the vp candidates were supposed to sway the independent voters and while Palin managed to present herself well, she didn't have anything on the issues that wasn't a talking point directly from the campaign. Nothing new. Nothing interesting from the Republicans.

I'm sure someone was convinced. People seem to like her because she's "feisty". I don't see it.

She may have hurt McCain a bit, too -- her answers on global warming, gay marriage, and -- most notably -- the powers of the VP's office were the frantic bullshitting of someone who didn't really understand the question; the questions startled her, they didn't' match any of her carefully memorized talking points, and she boofed it. Contradictory platitudes and buzzwords.


Have you seen these? Lifelike (very very lifelike) baby dolls. I know that most of these are owned by collectors, but they creep me out.

There are DOZENS of these doll makers on the web. Here's another. They call them "reborn" babies. Ick Ick Ick Ick.



Well, this is embarrassing and tasteless and inappropriate. The police department of Denver is selling a t-shirt 'commemorating' the Democratic convention. Who thought that this was appropriate or ok?

I guess it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but really guys, just not funny.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not one?

Ok, I'm really picking on Palin lately, but I've been watching the interviews with Katie Couric online and they are becoming almost surreal. Today they released clips of the discussion of Roe.v Wade and abortion rights, and Couric asked her opinion on other SC cases.

This is a perfectly valid question - positions on the Supreme Court are going to open up in the next four years, and some idea of how the candidates would look to populate the bench are critical for many of us - do they think the court is too liberal, too conservative, too something? Do they generally agree with cases that support personal freedoms vs government oversight? Do they disagree or agree with cases that relate to religion, guns, race, sex, gays? I want answers from everyone on this topic, as do a lot of people, since the decisions of the Supreme Court will impact life for whole lot longer than any individual president.
COURIC: What other Supreme Court decisions [than Roe v. Wade] do you disagree with?

PALIN: Well, let's see. There's --of course --in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are--those issues, again, like Roe v Wade where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know--going through the history of America, there would be others but--

COURIC: Can you think of any?

PALIN: Well, I could think of--of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with. But you know, as mayor, and then as governor and even as a Vice President, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it reads today.
She can't think of ANYTHING? Not the decision that prayer in schools is unconstitutional? Not segregation? Miscegenation? Right to council? Sodomy laws? The recent presidential election? Separation of church and state? Gun control? Equal pay for equal work? Assisted Suicide?

Even if she couldn't name a case specifically, she couldn't come up up with one decision to talk about? Whether she agreed with it or not, at least name a topic! Her answer is pure buzzword bafflegab.

I had to look up the specific case names for some of them, but the decisions at least jogged my memory and I could have answered the question. Brown vs the Board of Education? Loving vs Virginia? Bush vs Gore? Nothing?

Knowing these things backwards and forwards is NOT a requirement for holding office - I wouldn't expect comprehensive knowledge here - but everyone I talked to could come up with at least one other than Roe v Wade, off the top of their head. Someone who is running for office should be able to at least answer the question instead of trying to bullshit an answer. If you can't think of one you disagree with, at least mention one or two of the others as examples of the fine work that the Supreme Court does.