Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shallow end of the Gene Pool

A woman in Ohio was given a ticket for driving her minivan while talking on the phone, and breastfeeding her infant daughter. With other kids in the car.

Well, if that isn't an invitation to a Darwin Award right there, I don't know what is.

She "told police that she does not deprive her child when the child is hungry".

She doesn't want to deprive a hungry child for a rew moments, but risking killing them all in a traffic accident is a-ok. That's a rather odd set of priorities, isn't it?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Abandoned once again

The Adorable Husband is up skiing again this weekend. There has been snow every single day this week, the weather is gorgeous (a bit cold in the mountains) and he just couldn't resist.

I'm quite sure he's not actually trying to kill himself; he's taking it easy and says that he feels fine!


The southern CA mayor who sent out an email with a picture of the white house lawn covered in watermelon plants and the comment, "no easter egg hunt this year" has resigned. His constituents have expressed concern with working with him, given the overt racist overtones of the email, which he says he sent to a "small circle of friends". Obviously, in the land of the Internet, these things really can't be expected to remain private - one of those "friends" took offense and publically chastised him.
Grose says he accepts that the e-mail was in poor taste and has affected his ability to lead the city. Grose said he didn't mean to offend anyone and claimed he was unaware of the racial stereotype linking black people with eating watermelons.
"Unaware of the racial stereotype". Which is an obvious lie. If he didn't know that it was a racial slur, why did he send the image? What's funny about it, if you don't associate watermelons and black people? What did he think was funny about it?

Unfree Loos

DUBLIN (AP) -- Is a bathroom an optional extra when you're at 30,000 feet? Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary seems to think so -- and says his no-frills airline might charge customers to use its aircrafts' toilets.
You know, I was all set to get really upset about this, but realized -- they're flying places for quite literally, a few bucks - if I spend less on my airline ticket than on my cup of coffee and donuts in the airport, plugging a coin in the toilet isn't too outrageous.

Well, it is, but it's right in light with Ryanair's previous actions...

Eventually we'll be paying for air and a seatbelt, I just know it.

Immoral "morality"

I am really getting tired of idiots. When will people realize that this religiously -inspired, ridiciulous, repressed, and dysfunctional bigotry against women is unacceptable?

Oh, well, this is Colorado Springs. I shouldn't be that that surprised, I guess. The fringe and fanatical loonies are thick down there.
This time, the lawmaker was Sen. David Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs, who voted against a bill requiring pregnant women to be tested for HIV because, he said, it would wrongly protect women and their unborn children from the consequences of "sexual promiscuity."

"We do things constantly to try to remove the negative consequences of poor behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly," he said.

Schultheis' comments, which infuriated Democrats and exasperated some Republicans, came two days after Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, cited Bible verses to argue homosexuality is an "abomination" and a sin comparable to murder in a debate over a bill extending health benefits to same-sex partners of state employees.

Once again, a republican religious conservative (who I can only hope does not actually represent any large percentage of them) would rather have women and children DIE than do anything that might suggest that sex is not dirty, immortal, horrible, and something to be ashamed of. In their eyes, a single mother is so awful, so horrible, so digusting...that she and her child should be taught a that might result in actual death, but that's apparently less important than making an (im)moral point. Like the idiots who oppose an HPV vaccine because it 'might encourage promiscuity', this moron opposed testing for HIV because, obviously, women need to be punished when they get pregnant. Because the only way you get AIDs is promiscuity, right? Only sluts would ever be exposed. A single mother is, by definition, BAD. Totally ignores the point that a pregnant woman might be exposed to HIV for many reasons, not just that she's a promiscuous slut. A woman can be exposed to HIV in her own marriage, exposed via her job, exposed by a blood transfusion and happen to be pregnant at the time. But no, in this idiot's mind, only single mothers need have any worry of AIDS, and if they do, it's their own fault.

I am beyond outrage. I am sickened by this attitude.

If you believe the christianist (and I use christianist, not christian, because these people are the antithesis of Christian and really represent the paranoid, phobic fringe) neo-conservative movement, this sort of thing will be the downfall of civilization. Personally, I think the fact that it's acceptable to cite Bible verses as a logical and reasonable argument for anything is a sure sign of the downfall of civilization. It is neither -- and in this case is being used to thinly cover rabid bigotry and intolerance. I wonder if Sen. Renfroe is actively lobbying for an end to restaurants serving shellfish (which is remarked on as an "abomination" in 10x as many verses in his Bible). I rather think that he hasn't actually read those parts, you know?

But opposing AIDS testing because it might catch HIV early enough to treat, and therefore prevent women and children from being punished for some imagined sexual excess? Because that would be an acceptable 'negative consequence for poor behavior? Fuck that noise.

What sort of medieval, mysogynistic asshole even thinks these things?

What sort of sick f*ck says this:
What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that,” he said. “The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”
Wants babies to get AIDS.

Read that again: WANTS BABIES TO GET AIDS to prove a point.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Barbie Memories

I really didn't have a lot of Barbies as a kid, especially after The Barbie Tanning Incident involving the Easy-Bake oven. But I was reading through a website snarking on the dresses at the Oscars and came across this absolutely perfect description of my relationship with Barbies:
When I was a little girl, my grandmother had these pillows in her bedroom that I was OBSESSED with. They were peach, and they were covered in lace, with lace trim. They were VERY feminine and therefore made perfect staging areas on which my Barbies could try and strangle each other -- my Barbies led very dramatic, soap-operatic lives, which is to be expected when there are twenty women fighting over two men, one of whom was ostensibly married (that would be Todd, of the Tracy and Todd wedding set, and he had some issues -- most notably that the rubber band which attached his top half to his bottom half broke when he was dancing too vigorously at his wedding reception, leaving him at worst a paraplegic and at best unable to sit down, depending on the needs of the story I was concocting). Occasionally, my Barbies would commit suicide over something or other, or one would run the other one down with the pink Corvette, or one would get trampled under the hooves of Barbie's horse, Dallas, or one would be tossed down the elevator shaft of the Barbie Townhouse, and when that happened, I often set their bodies down on these pillows for the viewing before the funeral (during which all my other Barbies, as well as said pillow, were swaddled in some excess black lace my other grandma gave me after I told her that I thought it was inappropriate for Barbie and her cronies to be so SMILELY at a funeral, even if one of them was quasi- or wholly responsible for the death).


Monday, February 23, 2009

Refrigerated Butter

I just saw a rather odd commercial showing women trying to "soften butter" -- bashing it with a rolling pin (just the butter, so it's all over the counter and rolling pin), putting it on a barbecue fork over the grill, blowing on it with a hairdryer, inexplicably putting it in the dryer.

Note in all cases, it's an unwrapped stick of butter.

This leads me to think that advertisers and butter manufacturers believe that we are seriously concerned about spreadable butter. Now, I'm as frustrated as anyone else by not being able to put butter on my toast because it's too cold....but is this seriously a problem?

At which point, it occurred to me that they also assumed that everyone keeps their stick of butter in the refridgerator at all times, taking it out only long enough to hack off a shard and then get it back in the fridge as soon as possible. I can only think that this is because of some misguided idea that butter will "go bad" if left out on the counter overnight. Instantly, perhaps.

Is this really that common? Does everyone but me put the butter dish in the fridge?

I mean, sure, leave butter out in a hot room for a few days and it will go rancid...but we must use it fast enough around here that it doesn't sit out that long, even when we lived in Georgia. Well, that, and for half the year, it's cold enough in our house now to keep the butter pretty chilly just out on the counter.

I grew up in a household where food was left out all the time and I don't honestly recall that we had any more bouts of stomach distress than anyone else, so I'm probably not the most consistent follower of the "rules" for safe food. Oh, we're very careful about raw meats, especially chicken, but rushing to get everything into the fridge or on ice immediately? Not so much.

So, no, makers of spreadable-canola-oil-butter-blends, I am not going to trade rich butter taste for the ease of "spreadable from the fridge". And, advertising with spaz-people who put butter in the dryer isn't going to convince me to buy the product. I don't want to be associated with people who can't manage basic daily tasks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This explains a lot

Apparently, I think like a man. That explains a lot about my alpha geek status, doesn't it?

Your Brain is 27% Female, 73% Male

You have a total boy brain. Logical and detailed, you tend to look at the facts, and while your emotions do sway you sometimes...You never like to get feelings too involved

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Uitwaaien

We've been having gale-force winds for the last few days -- house creaking, banging, and howling wind. The kind of wind that makes me a bit nervous to be on the second floor.

This usually isn't so bad, but the lot next door is still just dirt and least an inch of it has been relocated into my house. Every single window sill (despite having all the windows closed and locked, with good weatherstripping) is dirty, and there is a plume of dirt on the carpet from a gap near the door hinge. The stuff is insidious.

We went outside last night and thought that all the mulch in the backyard was gone -- but we realized that it was indeed there, just under a thick layer of topsoil.

It's been too windy to walk outside; the gusts will knock you sideways. The Adorable husband has been making fun of me for saying that I like uitwaaien (walking in windy weather for fun) and that I just missed my best chance.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not Getting it

If television commercials are to be believed, our homes smell like rancid gym socks and dead animals, and require constasnt puffs of fragrance from little plug-in machines to make them smell tolerable enough that we can invite people into our home.

Glade commercials with women embarassed about not having a "fresh" house, animated characters married to centipedes having to spritz things because of shoe smells, people hiding in bathrooms to snort the new, fresh smell. People driving in circles or laying on the carpet smelling the just-Febreezed clean scent are a little creepy. The commercials are weird.

We have Glade and Febreeze and Oust sanitizer spray to ensure that you can't smell what you're cooking for dinner, lest it offend someone, various dual sprays and timed sprays and heated plug-ins and fans. Scented candles in a bazillion different strong odors. What is WITH this?

I can't stand the fake flowery smells that most of these things put out. It's cloying and too strong and give me a serious headache. The ones that swap different smells every few minutes are the worst, you can't get used to the smell and the overlay of hawaiin lei and jasmine starts to stink to high heaven after while.

Oh, I'm all for a nice gingerbread smelly candle at the holidays, but having one of these things going every single day so that your house smells like a chemical factory seems like overkill.

I just saw a commercial for a new Febreze scent ''Brazil Carnival''. What? What does this possibly smell like? Sweaty drag queen, aged urine, and vomit?

Mmm. Count me out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Not Dead Yet"

I was a wee bit worried about the Adorable Husband skiing -- it's the first time this year, he's new on beta-blockers, and, let's face it, he tends to forget that he's not 22 any more.

So he sent me a few pictures to prove he's fine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Valentine's Day

The Adorable Husband took the day off and went up skiing for the weekend.

Yes, over Valentine's Day.

I don't DO Valentine's Day. I'm scarred for life over Valentine's Day.

Second grade - spent two days in art class making decorating shoeboxes for our valentines cards. Coverd in shiny paper, with glitter, cutout hearts, lace, the works. We were so excited, and everyone put their box up on the front table with their name on it. The teacher gave out a list of students in the class.

I went home and made handmade, decorated valentines for everyone on the list. Each one was different, each one lovingly colored and lettered. I carefully carried them to school on Valentine's Day and put each one in the kid's box. Even in second grade, we snuck around a little, so no one saw us put the extra-special nice valentine in the cute boy's valentine box.

After lunch, everyone picked up their box from the table and opened it.


Zero. Zilch. Nada. My box was empty. Despite my name in glitter on the side, there were no valentines for me in the box. Other people had dozens of them, and some people even got little candies or chocolates.

I had none.

The Teacher had missed my name when she typed up the class list.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Public Service Announcement

Just popping in to say that Totino's Mega Pizza Rolls are not as good as the Regular Pizza Rolls.

The ratio of crust to filling is way off. You can't eat them when they're very hot, since the huge pizza rolls ooze out the other end more often and they just don't get as crispy.

I'm sounding very much like Sheldon, aren't I?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Summary

Here's a very good summary of the stimulus packages in the House and Senate - this is the first time I've seen a clear comparison. Nice!

Travel Karma

Yeah! The Adorable Husband found tickets on sale (again - they were on sale two weeks ago and we were arguing over the dates for the trip and missed the same - the price doubled the day we finally decided!).

Hooray! Hooray for pods! Hooray for BA!

The tickets were a bit more expensive than the previous sale, but very, very doable.

Hooray for the Adorable Husband!

No Hope

You may hear mention of "The Lady Hope" story about Charles Darwin's deathbed conversion and denial of his works, on the celebration of 'Darwin Day' this week.

It's a hoax. It's completely false, and while some religious types still drag out the dead horse to flog it whenever Darwin is mentioned, it's looking pretty ratty and worn by now. Even AiG denies it.

We have eyewitness accounts of Darwin's death. The story is idiotic and transparently false, unsupported by any historical evidence and contradicted by all that we do have. Period. Please don't fall for this one again.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Unfolding of Language

I'm reading an absolutely fascinating book called the Unfolding of Language, which attempts to provide some idea of why language changes and how it changes from early proto-languages to the vagaries of modern languages.

Why do we have plurals that end in s, but some words change completely (man/men)? Why all English verbs except "be" share first- and third-person forms(he ran/they ran, but he is/they are)? How did the "vowel shift" that changed language and spelling so dramatically occur? Why do related families of language sometimes have completely different structures? Why are some the same, even in languages that are not directly related?

The author is a Semitic language expert, so much of the book focuses on the 'template-based' word formation used there. The idea that the base meaning of a word can be expressed by three consonants, and they are plugged in to a template to get all the dozens of forms is interesting, and really starts to show how patterns in language really define it. We all see the patterns, of course -- if I give you a made-up noun (let's say, 'furf'), you instinctively know now to talk about two furfs. If my made-up noun is 'woopy', the same instinct produces 'woopies'. Why? Why isn't it woopys?

One of the primary arguments in the book is the general intent of speakers to 'make order out of chaos' and generate rules and predictable patterns in language -- but that it doesn't always work, because it is in distinct contradiction to the desire to vary words and sounds to create more concise meanings.

It gets a bit technical, but if you have any interest in linguistics at all, it's a great book. Very accessible, really, but I suggest reading the glossary in the back first if you aren't very familar with grammtical terms.

Big Bang Theory

I love Big Bang Theory (a sitcom on CBS on Monday nights). I think it's one of the funniest things I've seen on television in years -- probably because I know all of these geeky people (the Adorable Husband would argue that I am these people).

One of the main characters - Sheldon -- is the epitome of the geeky, socially backwards physicist who is confused and bemused by normal social interaction and lives by a set of rules he has "figured out" about how things are supposed to work. When told that a birthday present is an "expected social contract", he stops arguing against it and embraces the idea - if the RULE says it's so, it is.

If you've ever met anyone with Aspergers, or somewhere along the autism scale, you recognize the behavior: conversations have a set of rules that need to be followed, and you can almost see them going through the list to figure out how what the next response should be.

There's a very interesting article in Slate that discusses if Sheldon actually has Aspergers or not, and how the writers and producers of the show have built the character. There is no mention of the word, but
Sheldon is an exaggerated sitcom characterization, granted, and yet how else does one describe a string theorist who insists on playing Klingon Boggle and Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock? A prodigy who experimented with his home's staircases to find the exact variant in height at which his father would trip? Who discourses at length upon the precise parameters of Christmas gift-giving? Or who refers to engineers as "semi-skilled labor"—and is then surprised when they take offense?
He's endearing, in an annoying way, and his often misguided attempts to understand normal human interaction (he makes a flow chart on how to make and keep friends) are as central to the show as the primary storyline of Leonards unrequited love for neighbor Penny.

From the article, it looks like the Asperger's community finds the show real and sensitive. And funny. Let's not forget funny. We laugh with the geeks, not at them. Or, well, I do -- since I am apparently one of the tribe.

Illogical conclusions

This was linked through Pharyngula, and I had to add my own comments, since I was really pissed off by the article. An op ed piece, titled "Questions Darwinism Cannot Answer" appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. It's full of the standard nonsense, but then the author comes up with this incomprehensible statement:
[Richard Dawkins] won't take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them.
Why on earth would any rational person advocate for any of those things? And what the hell is a "dedicated darwinist"?

It's obvious that the author (who is a Professor of Theology) doesn't understand Darwin, or evolution, or pretty much anything else he talks about. Great strawman, though. Lots of straw in that one. No actual brain, of course, but the scarecrow sure looks good.

Darwinism (which is a creationist shorthand for atheist, or sometimes evolution, and and entirely wrong shorthand, at that) is NOT any of those things (heck, it doesn't even exist - the whole area of study is evolutionary biology and hasn't been strictly about natural selection for decades. We don't call the theory of gravity Newtonism, do we?). It does not advocate or support any of the horrors that are listed. The basic theory of natural selection doesn't imply any of these things -- unless you have misunderstood and redefined "survival of the fittest" to fit your anti-atheist screed. How he thinks that imperialism, genocide, deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, or any of them are the "result" of Darwins theories -- especially in light of the fact that Darwin espoused absolutely ZERO of these ideas -- is just boggling. And then to assert that atheists should support these things? That shows a frightening misunderstanding of atheism, evolution, Darwin's theores, and science in general.

That a professor of Theology cannot differentiate between a descriptive scientific theory, and what that means, and social efforts justified by charistmatic fanatics shouldn't surprise me, I guess. His aim is not scholarly, it is dogmatic.

I'm sure somewhere, someone tried to rationalize their actions based on "darwinism", but that doesn't suggest that the natural result of accepting that Darwin's theories have been largely supported is any sort of social ill. The conclusion is simply stated as fact and then the author goes on to bemoan how we awful atheists can't even be honest enough to support these things properly. I call bullshit.

Methinks that the dear Dr is trying (rather hysterically) to blame every social ill he can think of Darwinism (when what he really means -- and later brings up -- is atheism) in order to bolster his extremely weak argument that religion has better answers. Sounds as though he is simply upset because atheists don't espouse those things that rational people would find abhorrent. This denies him the ability to put atheists firmly in the anti-social, pathological category once and for all, and then be able to attack his charicature with abandon.

His premise seems to be that 1)god exists 2)some people don't believe, ergo 3) those people are responsible for all social problems. It's ridiculous and insulting. He apparently doesn't even have a decent grasp on world history, either. What irony, when a theologan accuses "darwinists" of being imperialists and genocidal when the bible fully endorses the concepts of imperialism and genocide , where they are acknowledged as great things and the will of god. The other things he listed? Religions around the world have been used as justification for all of them, too, does that mean we should require all believers to fully support these and advocate for them? No. To build a mythical "darwinist" and assert that this person would obviously support these things is dishonest and explicitly manipulative. Powerful ideas can be used and misued.

Religion has a get out of jail free card that science isn't allowed to play. When atrocities such as the inquisition, the trail of tears, or bombing of abortion clinics are done in the name of a god or a religion, it's a perversion of the true beliefs and morals of said religion, but any atrocities blamed on science or scientific theories are the logical conclusion to those evil scientific theories. Nice how that works, isn't it? Heads I win, tails you lose.

I'm getting really tired of the old canard that atheists have no morality. Sorry, all you theists out there who keep repeating it, I really won't be committing atrocities any time soon to fulfill your made-up idea of how we should behave.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cruel...and funny

Yes, I'm a bad person. This made me laugh hysterically.

Babies Eating Lemons

Saturday, February 07, 2009

No Shirt, No shoes

One of the idiotic stories showing up this week is that Andrew Card, former Bush Chief of Staff has been criticizing Obama for doing work in the oval office without his suit coat on. One of the much-hyped "rules" of the Bush White House was that anyone entering the Oval Office had to have a suit on. There are stories of him locking the door and ejecting people who did not follow this rule.

You know, to properly respect the office or some such nonesense. Card is claiming that Obama is somehow denigrating the office or not taking it seriously or something equally as ridiculous. Apparently, for Republicans, it's more important to look like you're doing something, than atually doing it. And Card keeps popping up on the new talking about it, like a broken record.

It's a stupid rule, and one that Bush (and others) broke on many occassions. To make an issue out of it is just ..weird. What's important is what's done in the Oval office, not how people look doing it. It's not a photo op, it's a working government. One respects the office by honoring its place in a constitutional system, not by wearing a suit. I (and everyone else, apparently) find nothing wrong with the president settling down to actuall get work done with his tie loosened and his jacket off. He's not meeting foreign dignitaries in a t-shirt, people. Get a grip.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Evidence of Evil

If you ever doubted that the Catholic church values women only as instruments for producing more catholics, all you need to do is look at the recent legal hoopla in Italy about a case involving a brain-dead woman and efforts to allow her family to let her die with dignity. The high court agreed, but politics and religious agendas again has to get involved - and it's disgusting.

But in an extraordinary turn of events, the country's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, after consultation with the Vatican, has issued an emergency decree stating that food and water cannot be suspended for any patient depending upon them, reversing the earlier court ruling. On issuing the emergency decree, Berlusconi declared: "This is murder. I would be failing to rescue her. I'm not a Pontius Pilate."

Justifying his campaign to save Englaro's life, the prime minister added that, physically at least, she was "in the condition to have babies", a remark described by La Stampa newspaper as "shocking". Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's president, has refused to sign the decree, but if it is ratified by the Italian parliament doctors may be obliged to resume the feeding of Eluana early this week.

So, the Vatican apparently advised that this woman -- or this woman's body, let's face it, she's brain dead and is merely an animated corpse at this point -- is still "alive" because she could gestate children. That's just...evil. So the government can step in and make that sort of valuation, and argue that it's reason enough to perpetuate this macabre and painful circus.

First off, I find consulting the Vatican about anything to be a perilous and stupid choice -- there doesn't appear to be a group on the planet less in touch with reality lately (see: holocaust denier bishop hoopla). And it surely is reassuring to me that the Catholic church values women based on her ability to procreate, rather than any other criteria. Yep, that's thinking right out of the Dark Ages. Makes me feell all warm and fuzzy inside -- and very, very glad that I can't have children any longer, so if I'm ever in a vegatative state, some asshole politician isn't going to step in and argue that I still should be kept alive becuase I could be an insensate incubator.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wii Woe

My sister has a Wii, and for Christmas (well, a little late) we got her a Wii Fit. Those things are very, very popular and hard to find. (They love the Wii, btw -- she says the boxing game, played with Peter, is extremely cathartic.)

Apparently, when you stand on the little board thing for the Wii Fit the first time and start it up, there are all sorts of measurements and it asks you questions and determines your BMI, "real" age, and all sorts of things.

So Nin calls up and is quite upset at the stupid machine. It pegs her "real" age much older than she is, and the chirpy little happy voice announces, "Oh! You're Obese!" when it completes its analysis. The worst part is the happy chirpy voice. It's supposed to be motivating, I guess, but stating the obvious and being happy about it is not very nice! Believe me, anyone getting on this thing and getting their ass kicked by the hula hoop activity knows they aren't in shape. No one needs reminding. And Nin is far from obese, if you ask me!

Then again, the "rules" say that the Adorable Husband is overweight, too -- for his height, he's supposed to weigh less than 200 pounds, they say. No way -- he'd be a stick-skinny little beanpole person if he was that skinny. Even at his "best" weight, in the Army when he was really, really in shape, he was between 220 and 230. I think the BMI rules are not very realistic in many cases.

I'm not making any claims that I'm "big boned", of course. I just don't need constant reminders that I'm fat if I'm really trying to do something to change that. Maybe the Wii Fit should have a "positive-only" switch, so it says, "You're doing so much better than last week! Yeah, you! You've lost a pound! Wooot!" instead of reminding you that you have so far to go.

We don't have a Wii, although with the huge screen downstairs, we really should consider it. I'll let you know if we get a Wii Fit and then throw it out in the front yard when it starts to insult us.