Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Short, Profane Survey

Damn. (a.k.a. Silence is golden, you silver-tounged devil, you)

Uh Oh. (a.k.a. Go through channels, or go to hell)

Shit. (a.k.a. a belated Memorial Day "Thank You"....)

WTF? (aka how to p*** off everyone in one novel).

p.s.: Does anyone know why this post is getting traffic from RCP?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Voting Probability

Are you likely to vote (this is from England; translations to American in brackets):
First of all, rate on a scale of one to five your level of personal contact from political parties (C), your belief that the parties can deal with the issues (I), your parents' interest in politics (P), your perception of whether or not your vote will count (V), your sense of voting as a duty (D) and the closeness of the national contest (N). (Given these are local [midterm] elections, you should probably ignore the last one.)

Then judge on a scale of 1-3 how safe your own council [House or State House district] is (S), with 1 meaning that any party could gain overall control and 3 that the result is a foregone conclusion.

Lastly, put the figures into the equation (C+I+P+(VxD)+N)/S=X. X - geddit? - is your level of motivation to vote.

Over 15: Very likely to vote
10-14: Will vote if you can make time for it
5-9: Believe in the right to vote but are unsure whether it makes a difference
Under 5: Cannot see why you should bother
For the record, my results:
Categoryout ofMy score
C (contact with parties)53
I (faith in parties' policy acumen)52
P (parents' interest in politics)54
V (vote will count?)53
D (voting as a duty)55
N (national contest close?)54
S [House or State House district stability]33
(C+I+P+(VxD)+N)/S=X
(3+2+4+(3x5)+4)/3 = 9.3
That's WAY too low for me. Unless I'm more deeply disaffected than I thought, I suspect that I'm less affected by the "perpetual local control" system of gerrymandering, and more motivated by the national race, than average.

Sorta Sequitur: I recently ran across ConWebWatch, which spends almost as much time and energy factchecking right wing spin as the Conservative Movement spends producing it. Their blog is worth a look, to get the latest.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Insects are Pretty Cool, but Photographing them is Hard

It's not easy to take good pictures of insects: they're small, fast, uncooperative or actively hostile, and most people instinctively shy away from them. I admit, I have a jump reflex, but I also have a real fascination for the beauty of small, complex things. I don't love insects, but I think they are visually intense and functionally interesting. And it's a great way to explore the limits of your camera.... Sorry if you're squirmy about these things: go read Glenn Greenwald or Anne Zook or something....

That is my skin the bug is sitting on, but I blew it off immediately after. Still, it wasn't easy holding that hand still and getting the camera out, set to macro and in position with the other one.... No idea what it is, but my bug books are pretty primitive.

Ant colonies are almost infinitely fascinating. I have no idea what these ants are doing, but as near as I can tell they are protein scavengers, not sweet eaters and not stinging ants. So, as long as they're not in the house, I don't care too much.
This mosquito is dead, yes. I have no patience for anything which tries to eat me. But when I saw that it had landed pretty much intact, it was time to whip out the dinky tripod and get a close-up. This was the best shot I got, I'm afraid. I love the long proboscis, though.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Serious Chocolate

Maya Gold is one of the best chocolate bars in existence. Not just for its darkness, which is excellent, or its spices, which are thrilling, but for its social and economic effects, which are nearly revolutionary. [via]

It's like a mini-lesson in global economics, commodities, agricultural industrialization, and developmentalism.
Wouldn't it be far easier to clear the forest, plant citrus, blast any diseases with pesticides and pump up the fruit with fertilisers? 'We've all seen what happens across the border in Guatemala,' says Peck. 'They cut everything, but we still have our trees, we have clean creeks, we have all the birds and animals with us for our grandchildren to see. The only way is to practise the system of our ancestors.'

I'm Obscure, Psychodelic, not too energetic

The Cytosol
You scored 30 Industriousness, 32 Centrality, and 19 Causticity!
You're a highly-organized network of proteins, lipids, solutes, and of course, the rest of the organelles! None of the other organelles would be around without you, so don't think you're unimportant. In terms of real life, you're probably fifth business - Neither the hero, the villain, either of their romantic interests, but still a very important character. The story could not be told without your input!
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Industriousness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 42% on Centrality
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 26% on Causticity
Link: The Which Cell Organelle are you? Test

Your Personality Is Like Acid

A bit wacky, you're very difficult to predict.
One moment you're in your own little happy universe...
And the next, you're on a bad trip to your own personal hell!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

We didn't start the linkage...

If this hadn't been done already, I was going to make it one of my summer projects. Yes, it's Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" with every historical term hyperlinked. here's another version, with a bit more chronological structure. There were a few terms that I had to click through myself: it really would be an interesting classroom tool.

I didn't like the song when I first heard it, to be honest, because of the slightly detached, whiny chorus. But the litany has grown on me considerably since then.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Haiku Festival: Get Yours In Soon!

John Patrick's Haiku/Senryu competition ends Memorial Day! He's got a lot of political offerings already, which is fun, but I decided to widen the field a bit:
Teacher's Seasons
Memorial Day
Spring Semester is finished
Summer Term draws near

Politics Imperfect
Politics always
trumps scientific data.
Imperial decline.

Family
"No, Spot! No, no, no!"
Child wants to learn to read
Dick and Jane reader.

Consumerism
I have three cameras:
I want one with the virtues
of all three... and cheap.
To be fair, though, I have to point out my favorite non-Ahistoricality haiku posted so far, by spiritrover
"Skip and go naked,"
says a Portland sunny day;
"Stop that," says my wife.
Bonus Link: Disabilism: What's it about, another of the BADD submissions, featured in Friday Femme Fatales Fifty-Eight (love the alliteration).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nu?

Best thing in this week's Carnival of Satire is Jews Don't Want to Run the World Anymore by Miriam.

The Skeptic's Circle this week is a tour de force of satire all its own, being written in the voice of a noted creationist who created a cybersquatting blogspot site trying to spoof the actual host.... There's the invention of a new form of palmistry, new razors (for those of you who shave), goofy investment advice, bullet points on Intelligent Design, and lots more.

Ralph Luker has some wonderful -- not at all satirical -- thoughts on hypocrisy in action. And Brian Ulrich has been doing some wonderful blogging lately, providing useful background on Jewish-Muslim relations through history and the Hamas Charter, which is built around conspiracy theories which make the Da Vinci Code look like fact-based history....

Thursday Lyric: Gandhi/Buddha

Wheeler is a joy to see in concert, energetic and devastatingly funny in between her sweet/funny/sad/powerful songs. We pulled this CD off the "bought but not listened to" pile and neither of us is sure when we bought it (best guess: last summer).... but it was worth it. We've heard her do this song in concert; it's goofy, but it's also deeply true, and also one of the only basically correct invocations of karma and rebirth I've ever heard in anglophone songwriting.

Gandhi/Buddha
Words And Music By Cheryl Wheeler

Feel this wind blow, scatter all these leaves like paper rain.
Feel these days roll back into our winter lives again.
The tangle at the garden fence is brown and dry.
You call me out and point to your November sky.

Chorus:
I must've been Gandhi or Buddha or someone like that,
I must've saved lives by the hundreds everywhere I went.
I must've brought rest to the restless, fed the hungry too,
I must've done something great to get to have you.
When the cold comes and you are by your fire and fast asleep,
I'll turn a light on, to watch the snow outside fall soft and deep.
And when the winter morning shines all white and blue,
We'll watch the dogs run through the fields like children do.
Chorus
I suppose stranger things have come to pass,
Many's the forest I can't see.
I was so down and lost and fading fast.
How did you find your way to me?
Chorus

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Carnivals old and new

The Carnival of the Liberals has a chatty, award-ceremony format -- cute, but not too cute -- and the 1st Erase Racism Carnival is now up.

Most of it rehashes issues I've seen before, but this post on colorblind foolishness is solid stuff.

From the Liberals' collection, we can learn about International Conscientious Objectors' Day and Neural Gourmet's exhortation to victory is a nice corrective to half-witted pseudo-strategic nattering.

Oh, and the end is nigh! (if you believe crop circles and know nothing of physics or astronomy) [But when TCR gets nervous, I'm nervous]

I laughed, I cried, I backed up my files
Faculty and staff of the English Department will gather at the Brandeis IT center Friday to honor the ThinkPad with a Purple Hard Drive, traditionally awarded to computers that die at least 100 pages into a dangerously boring thesis.
Read the story of the IBM ThinkPad T41 vs. A Hermeneutical Exploration Of Onomatopoeia In The Works Of William Carlos Williams As It May Or May Not Relate To Post-Agrarian Appalachia and thank Oscar Chamberlain for showing us the way.

R&D

I wanted to note the new HNN blog, Revise and Dissent: it's a great crew of individual bloggers who are coming together to create something greater.

To Reread Later: this post suggests that the administration really has failed us, as a security and foreign policy apparatus.

I also wanted to follow up on something I said I'd do this year: more photography. I'm a bit limited here, trying to remain more or less anonymous, but every so often I produce an image which seems worthwhile and sufficiently abstract -- or universal -- to be worth sharing without identifying me particularly. So, without further ado, here are some pictures taken by putting my small digital camera inside the inset fan grill of my new Dell machine:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fight the Spam!

No, I didn't expect this to be the theme d'jour but apparently....

After posting my own experiences, I found (via this week's, ahem, meaty Carnival of Vanities) another incensed plagiarism victim: the Random Yak, who's got enough technical knowledge to actually make trouble for the splogger. The problem with spam, of course, is that the spammer wants to hide, but can't actually make any money unless you can find them and contact someone....

In the techno war, though spammers have something of an advantage, at least against corporate anti-spammers. Sometimes, though the government steps in and does its job. They serve Spamtm in prison, right?

Signs of Pseudo-Fascism?

Top Ten Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State by Allan Uthman [with commentary and links by me]
  1. The Internet Clampdown [it's a dual use issue: corporations have consistently proven themselves willing to participate in government monitoring and repression (see: China)]
  2. The Long War
  3. The USA PATRIOT Act [and the constant clamoring to "toughen" its provisions, not to mention extralegal weakening of its few protections]
  4. Prison camps [To be fair, we already have the largest prison population in the world. So what's new is that someone's planning for massive new prison populations]
  5. Touchscreen Voting Machines [I theorized somewhere recently (it was in comments and I don't remember where) that the administration would "discover" the inherent insecurity of these machines just in time to cancel the 2008 elections and give the President perpetual emergency powers. Just a theory.]
  6. Signing Statements [Congress? We don't need no stinkin' Congress!]
  7. Warrantless Wiretapping [and other Constitutional atrocities]
  8. “Free Speech Zones” [doublespeak of the first magnitude, of course]
  9. High-ranking Whistleblowers
  10. The CIA Shakeup

I would drop the last two from the list and replace them with "attacks on journalists and the press" and "'with us or against us' rhetoric."

My-Oh-My....

You Are a Mai Tai
You aren't a big drinker, but you'll drink if the atmosphere is festive. And when you're drunk, watch out! You're easily carried away.
The last person who tried to carry me away didn't seem to think it was all that easy.... And I'm just as likely to be a bit wild when sober, if the atmosphere is authentically festive. This doesn't seem to be option, which is too bad. Irish Coffee, stout beer, gin and tonic, sweet wines.... my MaiTai days are (mostly) behind me, I'm afraid.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cultural Heritage Survey

It's a minor thing, but you can give Saving Antiquities For Everyone a piece of your mind... which they'll share with needy politicians and bureaucrats.... here.

Oh great, more spam.... Quiz Comments and Consolidator Splogs

A new spammer technique has arrived: Apparently they use some kind of technorati search for certain bloglines quizzes -- of which I am perhaps inordinately fond -- and post "relevant" comments. This allows them to put a link to their site in your comments which, if you were in a hurry or desperate for attention, you might leave in place.

So far it's only bloglines quizzes: if it turns out to be an effective technique, I'm sure they'll expand to other quiz sources...

Oh, I almost forgot another spamming technique, this one intended to draw search engines to splogs (yes, that's a word, and, yes, I just used it, and used it properly): copying posts containing a relevant term (the one that first got my attention was "libertarian" [there's no commercial purpose there, but it was kind of odd]; the splog term was "gold wedding ring") from other blogs -- without permission, I might add -- in a sort of "consolidator blog" which features links to commercial sites. This is an interesting variant on the old "search engine trap": embedded text in a web page intended to be read only by the search engines and manipulate their algorithms into returning that page as highly relevant for as many search terms as possible. In this case, they're just accumulating as much text as possible around a single term, so that they rank very high when that term is searched.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Religion, Spirituality, Sex, Power and Law

Blogmandu has it all this week, all in one nice neat little scandal. Seems that an Israeli Jewish Renewal teacher was accused of sexual misconduct, removed from his position by his board of directors, and fled the country. There's now a substantial debate about what this means with regard to both the role of people with emotional problems -- the teacher in question identified himself has having "a pathology" -- in spiritual teachings, as well as the role of governing bodies in defining codes of ethics for the supposedly limitless and highly personal kind of guru-relationships which go on in Buddhist and Jewish Renewal (among others) circles.

That roundup also introduced me to a new term: MGM or "mean green meme"
The mean green meme ("mgm") is a thinking pattern that is attached to explaining the world as filled with all-good victims pounced upon by completely evil victimizers.
Speaking of problems of ethics and self-definition, Orac pointed to a sex slave cult based on patriarchal SF/F: it's odd, but as long as it's actually voluntary and S/M is legal, it's no more harmful than Civil War reenactments or Shakesperean drama.

Via Ralph Luker, I found this bloggerly celebration of John Stuart Mills' natal bicentennial, including a link to a full text version of one of my favorite works of political philosophy ever: On Liberty. If it weren't for Mill, I wouldn't hardly take libertarians seriously at all.... Speaking of taking libertarians seriously, Balko's Cory Maye Update looks promising.

Finally, for an antidote to the lowbrow hand-wringing going on over Da Vinci Code (a ponderous movie, by all accounts, which was to be expected because the book itself is pseudo-pedantic and authentically ponderous, with moments of absurd terror) try Farangi's well-informed discussion of Templar and Masonic legends and their memetic power in three parts.

And if, by some miracle, all the Da Vinci Code talk has raised your interest in ancient and medieval history, or if you were actually interested in the subject already, Brandon Watson's edition of Carnivalesque has your fix. Hardcore, dude.

When I'm blue, I'm royalty. When I'm Powerful, I'm green?

You Are Royal Blue

People find you difficult to understand. In fact, you often find it hard to understand yourself.
You think so much that sometimes you get lost in your own thoughts!


Your Power Color Is Lime Green
At Your Highest: You are adventurous, witty, and a visionary.
At Your Lowest: You feel misunderstood, like you don't fit in.
In Love: You have a tough exterior, but can be very dedicated.
How You're Attractive: Your self-awareness and confidence lights up a room.
Your Eternal Question: "What else do I need in my life?"

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why Prediction is a dangerous game...

It's easy to beat up on people who make predictions, particularly when they have a long track record. But this really is funny, showing how Tom Friedman's been saying "six months" for the last three years....

You'd think, at some point, he'd realize that the failure of the situation to resolve itself is in itself meaningful.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I'm not going anywhere. Ever.

Apparently, the universe is agnostic about me, too. [via]
After you die...
Parallel Universe

After death, you will continue to exist as if nothing has ever happened. You will continue to be yourself, but because you are in a parallel universe, some things will be different. You may not have married the same person, you might live in a different spot, but you will be the same person underneath it all and you will continue your life unaware that you ever died.
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


I decided to go back and see if I really liked my answers. It turns out that what I really don't like are the questions. With the either/or/none of the above answers altered, I squeek into a nice afterlife. Barely.
After you die...
Heaven

After death, you will exist in heaven. Everything and everyone you love will constantly surround you for all of eternity. You lucky scoundrel.
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


"Lucky scoundrel" is right. I better watch my step up there....

And, in other "we'll never know, will we?" (because I'm so not a pet-owner type) quizzes,
Your Ideal Pet is a Big Dog
You're both energetic, affectionate, and a bit goofy. And neither of you seem to mind very slobbery kisses!

In the Doldrums...

From The Phantom Tollbooth, a book that many people both adore and despise in the same lifetime (something to do with age), but which is just irresistable when read aloud to someone who hasn't heard it before.

Milo has encountered the Lethargarians in the Doldrums...
"Well, if you can't laugh or think, what can you do?" asked Milo.

"Anything as long as it's nothing, and everything as long as it isn't anything," explained another. "There's lots to do; we have a very busy schedule--

"At 8 o'clock we get up, and then we spend:

"From 8 to 9 daydreaming.

"From 9 to 9:30 we take our early midmorning nap.

"From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay.

"From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap.

"From 11:30 to 12:00 we bide our time and then eat lunch.

"From 1:00 to 2:00 we linger and loiter.

"From 2:00 to 2:30 we take our early afternoon nap.

"From 2:30 to 3:30 we put off for tomorrow what we could have done today.

"From 3:30 to 4:00 we take our early late afternoon nap.

"From 4:00 to 5:00 we loaf and lounge until dinner.

"From 6:00 to 7:00 we dillydally.

"From 7:00 to 8:00 we take our early evening nap, and then for an hour before we go to bed at 9:00 we waste time.
Sounds like writer's block... or a summer vacation from bygone days.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Get Happy! Get Sad. Get Analyzed.

Happy: Carnival of Satire! also anti-creationist humor.

Happy and Sad: Animals, past and present.

Warily Happy: Web-Braille returns with caveats.

Hmmmm: Principles of Jurisprudence as explicated by Torah and Talmud. How much have we improved on these in the last few millenia?

Challenge: Anne Zook, after reading the headlines, calls for nominations for the most Orwellian possible name for the newly authorized wall. "Migrant Protection Infrastructure"? "Reinforced Boundary Location Aid"....

Analysis: LiveJournal Ethnolinguistics

Danger: The hacker war we should be paying attention to. I'm going to say it: this is the 9/11 of the internet, the clarion call to take arms against lawless barbarians intent on destroying civilization. You think I'm kidding? Think it through....

Thursday Lyric: Number One in America

David Massengill is one of those storytellers that just draws you in with his words until even the slightly bizarre phrasings and images make perfect sense. And he's got a way with true stories.... like this one, which he, typically, sings with Appalachian lap dulcimer accompaniment with a rock-and-roll sensibility.... ah, you gotta hear it.

Not to belabor it with a stick, but I recently discovered that the deliberate promotion of doubt has it's own acronym: FUD ([via])

Number One In America
© 1987 David Massengill

In Nineteen hundred and sixty-three
In my hometown, Bristol Tennessee
I was sitting on my mother's knee
Watching "Amos 'n' Andy" on TV

Amos was Santa Claus on Christmas Eve
A little girl was tugging at his sleeve
Saying, "Can I have a doll my own color please?"
He Said, "Honey, you can make believe..."

Just then came a call on the telephone
It was the mayor, he asked if my daddy was home
This was for his ears alone
Mom and me listened on the second phone

Mayor said, "The freedom Riders are on their way
And they'll be here by Christmas day
Our laws they vow to disobey
'Cause our school is as white as the milky way

Well, now we're really in a fix
We can't let 'em show us up like country hicks
But once the races mix
It's good-bye Jim Crow politics

First it's forty acres and a mule
Then they want to swim in our swimming pool
Pretty soon they'll be wanting to go to school
Where we were taught the golden rule"

Imagine them telling us how to live
Imagine them telling us how to live

Chorus:
We're number one in America
Number one in America
Beat the drum for Uncle Sam
Overcome in Birmingham
Dynamite in a Baptist church
Four teenaged girls lost in the lurch
Fire hoses and the billy clubs
Police dogs and the racist thugs
Nightriders and the lynching mobs
Lawmen say they're only doing their jobs
To stay number one in America.

Ax-handles vs. the right to vote
All white jury, that's all she wrote
Back of the bus, don't rock the boat
Separate but equal by the throat

That was twenty-odd years ago
Where's the change in the status quo?
The freedom land is lying low
it's shackled down on rotten row

The black skinned man still gets the snub
When he applies to the country club
But he still gets hired to trim the shrubs
Get down on the floor and scrub

There's a businessman out on his yacht
He's a rain or sunshine patriot
He says it's all a commie plot
To be Number One in America...

[Chorus]
The Ku Klux Klan is still around
With a permit to march in my home town
But only on Virginia's ground
The Tennesse side turned them down

The sheriff stood there with his deputies
Ostensibly to keep the peace
But he made us this guarantee
"By God, They'll not march into Tennessee!"

The network cameras were triple tiered
We laughed and cried, we hooted and jeered
But mostly we stood there unfeared
'Til the Ku Klux Klan dissappeared

In some far off distant dawn
When a Black is president and not a pawn
Will they burn crosses on the white house lawn
And talk of all the days bygone

Imagine them telling us how lo live
Imagine them telling us how to live

We're number one in America...
[Chorus]

Last Christmas Eve at the K-Mart store
A white family there, they was dirt poor
Father said, "Kids, pick one toy - no more
Even though we can ill afford..."

I watched his son choose a basketball
The oldest girl a creole shawl
The littlest girl chose a black skinned doll
And she held it to her chest and all

I watched to see how they'd react
Since they were white and the doll was black
But the mom and dad were matter-of-fact
They checked to see if the doll was cracked

So may you make a rebel stand
Where black and white go hand in hand
Until they reach the freedom land
Where the lion lies down with the lamb

Chorus:
O Number one in America
Number one in America
Beat the drum for Uncle Sam
Overcome in Birmingham
Dynamite in a Baptist church
Four teenaged girls lost in the lurch
Firehoses and the billy clubs
Police dogs and the racist thugs
Turn back the clock to Little Rock
Bought and sold on the auction block
Nightriders and the lynching mobs
Lawmen say they're only doing their job
To stay number one in America

We shall overcome someday

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I Can Frighten You. I Can Satisfy You. What's with "fat and fun"?

Hadn't been enough quizzes lately. Poetry, either.
You Are a Little Scary
You've got a nice edge to you. Use it.
I replaced the scowling kitty with my profile image. Seemed appropriate.

Snickers
Nutty and gooey - you always satisfy.


Finally, I have no idea what this means in the context of the show, but why are the big guys always "jolly" (in this case "fun", which means harmless)? Why can't the big guy be a scholar and leader, a sexy scoutmaster evil genius?
Take the quiz:
Which LOST character are you?

Hurley
You are Hurley.
Don't let your weight problem keep you down, at least you're very fun to have around.


Quizzes by myYearbook.com -- the World's Biggest Yearbook! [via]

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Linkgratitude

FIRST, READ CHRIS BRAY, the gutsy son-of-a-gun. And dcat's got a few choice words, too.

Now then: on with the thanks!

I'm always pleased (and surprised) when I get something into the history carnival, but since the host was taking a decidedly ahistorical approach, I had a better shot than most. Of the posts I hadn't already read, the most immediately interesting were this application of Roman despotic history to our own situation (see also), and a beautifully photographed visit to a new Egyptian museum.

And, on the issue of Web Access for Braille materials from the Library of Congress, thanks to Mr. Jones (who contributes a fascinating story of the humorlessness, blunt thinking and raw power of institutions as seemingly benign as the Library of Congress) and Avedon Carol. There's more at Disability Studies, and a surprisingly conciliatory statement from the National Federation for the Blind, who don't seem to think there's anything unusual about taking a vital web service down for weeks while doing some sort of "upgrades" or "maintenance".....

Carnivals!
Dumb luck, but I got the first slot in Carnival of the Vanities this week. I did not, however, make the cut for Carnival of Feminists, and I didn't even submit to Grand Rounds (that'll be the day!). There's good stuff in all of them; I just don't have time to do the linkage now.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's not easy being moderate when those you love...

...I'm trying really hard not to be partisan about this. Every fire-breathing, activist, family-protecting bone in my body is crying out to make connections, analogies and cast aspersions. Consider this a post typed with clenched teeth, because this is too important for partisanship. So far.

Let me catch you up. A few days ago my spouse got a phone call from a friend who'd discovered that the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind's Web-Braille service -- where the electronic braille files of professionally produced braille books can be downloaded for access by certified blind NLS users with the proper electronic equipment -- had been shut down with a simple "out of service" message. Since then there's been a flurry of speculation and consternation in the blind community: this is a fantastic service, one of those unabashed "technology makes the world better" moments which is a mainstay of braille readers in this country.

Very little information has been forthcoming from the head of the National Library Service, one Frank Kurt Cylke, in spite of calls, e-mails and letters from some very prominent leaders and educators in the field. Even American Council of the Blind president Chris Gray got evasions and even threats ("Finally, you threatened the blind community by saying that should the community protest your decision, that would only lead to delays in the
reinstatement of Web-Braille.") when he tried to figure out what the issue was.

They haven't even said why the service is closed: that's infuriating and unnecessary. It's worse than a bad reason, really: it smacks of paternalism (and if I say any more about it, my teeth might unclench....) and it's unnecessarily worrying to the community which relies so heavily on this service. All that Cylke would say was "technical and security" issues; the rumors flying around are that someone at NLS, possibly Cylke himself, finally realized that someone could translate electronic braille files back into plain text, and that plain text files running around the internet might violate copyright..... as if OCR software, scanners, libraries and photocopiers hadn't already been invented.

For now, I highly recommend Jonathan Mosen's measured comments, Chris Gray's hearty fulminations linked above, and, of course, this petition calling for the prompt restoration of service.

It's ironic: I was going to take this Google petition off my sidebar anyway, since Google introduced audio authentication for comments and blog creation. Now, instead of a nice little triumph, it's gone bad to worse.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's v. Mothers'

To anyone out there thinking of giving Mother's Day a social or political message: It's been done.

Happy Mother's Day!
Happy Mothers' Day!
[you know, I think that's more grammatically correct when it's to more than one person]

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Five Senses Meme

Favorite sensations, five each [via]:

Sight:
unforced smiles
natural colors in sunlight
Someone using something I made
unashamed modern art, in person
unexpected animals

Sound
giggles
Dvorak's "New World" Symphony
a small group singing "Oseh Shalom" with counterpoint (usually me)
the opening theme of "A Prairie Home Companion" (either the current one or "Hello, Love")
birdsong in a quiet place

Touch
child's hair
fresh, clean professional clothes
the tug of ripe fruit coming off the tree
an unrequested shoulder rub (certain people, of course)
[ahem]

Taste
dark, dark chocolate
chunks of garlic in a stew or soup
eggs benedict florentine
soft, fresh mozzerella
Matzo balls in chicken soup

Smell
random flowers on a light breeze
baking
the inside of a spice shop (or the outside of a spice factory)
medium roast coffee
new books

Meta-blogging: technical v. social

Burningbird has a poetic and vigorous refutation of the idea of a weblogging orthodoxy or orthopraxy, not to mention a rejection of "technical standards" which complicate life instead of simplifying them. It's a great read.

On the other hand, I think Burningbird goes too far in attacking ranking sites and blogrolls as some kind of barrier to new voices. I agree, to some extent, that it's active recommendations and linkage which draw people in most of the time, but the static blogrolls still serve a social and technical purpose and, for me at least, still serve as my own personal archive of places I want to remember to check out now and then. Not everything on my sidebar is a blog, and not all of my blogroll listings correspond exactly to my rss reading. They are different, and though it's complicated and slow to change and more ego-involved than most of us like to admit, I'm fine with it.

It strikes me, actually, that the two posts are slightly self-contradictory. Which is fine, really. Also, she's getting out of the weblog business, for now at least. [all via]

Friday, May 12, 2006

What Can the Government Know?

A lesson in institutional epistemology, from the brilliant Caleb McDaniel:
Even if we were to accept that some government actions can be justified on the basis of better information, we can't appeal to the government's superior information to justify the means it uses to gather information. You can't simply dismiss random data mining like the NSA's phone number database by saying that the people behind the program know more than we do, because the data mining is the process by which they come to know more. The government is casting its nets this wide not because it has more information than we do, but precisely because its information is so incomplete.
It's a long post, but every paragraph would qualify as a "best of the week" post at most blogs, and the sum total is a devastating review of the administration's intelligence operations, public relations and, just for fun, our own cultural proclivity to worship at the shrine of data (and experts)....

It's particularly worthwhile because it goes a long way towards explaining and debunking the reasons for early polls showing popular support for the NSA's illegal "PTA Phone Tree Alert" project. (also note, in the same poll, that a majority of the respondents thought the press was justified in revealing the secret program, which, I suspect, indicates that the "support" figure is pretty soft and will move.... Particularly as more people talk about blatant corruption, which is another purpose to which information can be put...

This, by the way, goes a long way to explaining the President's twenty-something approval ratings: more distorted information, but people still mostly believe what they see and fell than the numbers. Sometimes that's an anecdotal fallacy; sometimes it's entirely justified....

Non Sequitur Fun Internet Tool:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ahistoricality Alert: "Where are the skinheads when you need them?"

That's a quote from a popular right-wing author [via] fulminating about the "Gandhi-like passivity" being shown by Republicans and other so-called conservatives in the face of Democratic agression and social tolerance. Aside from the incredibly tasteless and frightening call to reclaim masculinity through violence, Gandhi was not passive: he was an advocate of in-your-face pacificism and mass political action. He was good at it, too.

Another member of the "I miss Father Coughlin" club spoke out about the Ahmadinejad letter, saying -- and this was so predictable I almost don't think his forebrain was involved --
Once again, it's the Democratic talking points, other than Israel, and even there -- yeah, it's [anti-war activist] Cindy Sheehan talking -- it is, you're right. It's Cindy. It's even some liberal Hollywood Jewish people talking point.
[via] After the smear and the schmeer (those rootless cosmopolitans: over a century of fearmongering, and going strong!), he then goes on to cite historical train wreck Shelby "Who's Man Enough To Make the Trains Run On Time" Steele.

Anyone who spots a conservative commentator or major blogger disavowing these people (not the statements: that's too easy. These are people with long track records of race-baiting, incitement-to-violence, civility-obliterating, discourse-lowering "shock-jock" quality rhetoric.) is invited to leave a comment or drop me a line. Why? Because I want to know which conservatives I can trust and which ones are just fine with slouching towards fascism.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gender, Sex, Identity

She Who Would One Day Be Fabulous cited this name tag creator which contains a prefabricated list of hundreds of gender, sexuality and identity terms (there's also a "Randomize" button, if you're feeling shameless and free; I will admit, there are probably more terms on that list I don't recognize....). This raises an interesting issue which came up in comments on the Blog Against Disabilism Day post.

This blog has been reasonably gender-neutral, I think. I haven't given away any personal information which is obviously gendered that I'm aware of; it's a deliberate choice. I have a gender, sexuality, sexual identity and preferences; this blog isn't really a place to talk about them, though. Looking at my blogroll and carnival interests, they're pretty balanced. On carnivals, for instance, I highlight and participate in predominantly female events (Carnival of Feminists, Kid Comedy) and some that are mostly male (Carnival of Satire, Skeptics' Circle, Vanities) and a bunch that are pretty balanced (the History carnivals, Liberals, Grand Rounds, Blogmandu, Teaching). My blogroll is about 1/3rd female (though I think my blog linkage, insofar as it can be gender-sorted is probably closer to half/half, and my comments on other blogs, too).

So I find it fascinating when other bloggers assign a gender to me. The consensus in the BADD comments was that I'm female and my spouse male; other bloggers have labelled me male ("Dude" "Guy"). So far, as near as I can tell, it's female bloggers who've tagged me as female, and male bloggers who've tagged me as male. I don't know that it means anything, necessarily, but it's interesting to see.

I'd love to hear from other non-gendered bloggers out there about their experiences, and anyone (aside from those few people who actually do know who I am, who are politely but firmly requested to keep out of it) who thinks I've "given it away" without knowing it is invited to make their case.

Pure Irony

If I'd made it up, it would have been satire:
The Pentagon has sent warning letters to thousands of people who may have had their personal data stolen, advising them that they may be at risk of identify theft and other fraudulent activities.

Most of those affected used an online registration for an August 2001 Defense Department conference on health-care fraud. Names, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, employer identification and other personal information were entered into a computer database by conference attendees, Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.
Defense department hacked? Irony.
Fraud conference attendees identities stolen? Irony.
Defense Department abuse of Social Security Numbers leads to problem? Irony.

Three for three, as I see it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Too cool: Weather on Jupiter

Two Red Spots on JupiterThe story is here.

Thanks to Sameer, who's got lots more links for everyone.

Ahmadinejad's letter

Articulate Dad points to the English translation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to our President. I'm sure it will be the talk of the blogosphere, so here's my own (brief, as I have little time for blogging) take on it.

Ahmadinejad is trying to convince the President to abandon Iraq and let Iran alone by appealing to two things: Christian justice and the domestic responsibility of leaders. In other words, he is drawing on the Administration's own emphases -- religion, faith, "unitary" (aka monarchical) executive authority -- to argue that Bush should admit (what so many of his supporters seem to think) that internationalist secular liberal democracy has failed, concentrate on a return to a more religious, nation-centered, illiberal government, and leave him to do the same.

It's brilliant, in that sociopathic way great rhetoric by dangerous men often is....

shouldn't need saying, but...: The Ahmadinejad letter is basically one long non sequitur to the matters at hand, and I hope the administration (and everyone else) will treat it as such. I also, to be fair, should admit that the theocratic, monarchic impulse of the Bush administration is still just an impulse of an Administration, not a fundamental premise of the state, and I hope that the Administration will take a good look at the mirror being held up to it by Iran (not by the letter's text, but by the subtext commonality of interests and principles in the letter) and take a step or two in the direction of internationalist, secular, liberal democracy....

Mishnaic Stages of Life

Chapter 5, Mishna 25 of the Pirkei Avot [Sayings of the Fathers] says
"He (Yehuda ben Taima) used to say, at five [one should begin the study of] Scriptures; at ten, Mishna; at thirteen [one becomes obligated in] the commandments; at fifteen [the study of] Talmud; at eighteen the wedding canopy; at twenty to pursue; at thirty strength; at forty understanding; at fifty counsel; at sixty old age; at seventy fullness of years; at eighty spiritual strength; at ninety bending over; at one hundred it is as if he has died and passed on from the world."
By way of comparison, Rabbi Rosenfeld cites another authority on life stages
At one year of age, man is a king, fondled and doted upon by all. At two and three he is a pig, groping in the garbage. At ten he prances around like a kid. At twenty he is a horse, preening himself in search of a wife. After marriage he works like a donkey to earn a living. When he has children he is brazen as a dog trying to raise and support his family. And at the end of his life he becomes senile and senseless as an ape.
I think I might owe apes an apology. I'm a dog approaching wisdom, myself....

Reb Rosenfeld goes on to point out an omission on the first list, a deliberate one
Our desire for "answers" even drives us to dabble in (and not at all understand) the secrets of kabbalah -- to *really* understand G-d. Hence the absurdity today of "kabbalah for beginners" classes -- an oxymoron if there ever was one. (Note that kabbalah is not even on our mishna's list!)
That is indeed one of my pet peeves. To be fair, I have a similar problem with Jewish Renewal practitioners appropriating practices from other traditions without careful consideration as to their roots and context. I'm not opposed, necessarily, to the transfer of ideas and practices between traditions -- all religion is syncretic -- but if we're going to do it, we should do it cautiously.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Conservatives And Liberals Uniting? We'll See

I don't recognize any notably conservative names on this initiative, but I don't know US historians all that well. It's a solid statement, opposing both theocracy and unwarranted agression, promoting democracy and peaceful solutions. I don't know, though. I'm leery, and I'm not sure why. Have to go back and look again later.

Think, you puling woodchuck-wannabees!

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 23%
Lifer: 44%
Mandarin: 72%


Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz. [via]


No surprises there....

If you need help exercising your mind, this Mandarin heartily recommendsThere. Go learn something today. I did.

Update:
I cannot stop at every chaotic scene like this; I have an appointment with some pygmies. Besides, my UN escort says cheerfully, “This is a warzone, so we shouldn’t stop like this. Oh, don’t worry. They won’t shoot you. Just make you carry their things and rape you a bit.”
Think it's not your problem? Think again, and ask yourself what our government can or should be doing about this. Because it can and it should.

Numbers and Knowledge

For your consideration, three numbers
The sciences produce some 350,000 new, cited references weekly, while the social sciences generate 50,000 and the humanities 15,000.
I wonder what that looks like, per capita?

Rorshach Test: Why Is Latin American Poverty Our Problem?

The Administration has found a way to link Latin America policy to the War on Terror [via]: "Lawlessness" which enables drug smuggling, paramilitary organizations, copyright infringers, and other non-legal groups to operate.
Even the Pentagon acknowledges that the "roots" of Latin America's "poor security environment" can be found in the "hopelessness and squalor of poverty."
Don't you love it when they finally get around to saying the same stuff we've been saying for years. Except now it gives them the green light to pull more Pinochets out of their back pockets....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Half Gavroche/Half Javert

I'm Gavroche!
Snarky, self-reliant, and hyper as hell, I enjoy terrorizing the general populace. Nevertheless, I have a good heart, and am always willing to help out a friend, even in a dubious cause. In fact, *especially* in a dubious cause.
Which Les Miserables Character Are You?

OR
I'm Javert!
Though my personal integrity is admirable, I tend to see everything in absolutes, and I don't cope at all well with ambiguities or opposition. I should probably seek therapy for those obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Which Les Miserables Character Are You?
That dichotomy actually captures more than I perhaps should admit.... Oh, well.

Is Paranoia A Job Requirement? A news fugue.

Apparently, Vice President Dick Cheney is wigging out. That's a technical term.... I don't agree with the portrayal of the President as stupid or puppet-like, though: I think that's tactically unsound (leads to underestimation and also makes it hard to bring around fence-sitters) as well as unlikely to be true (I think, if we ever get a look at the inner workings of this administration, we're going to find him very engaged, very much a willing participant in the process, if a bit isolated from reality). That said, I don't think, when all is said and done, we're going to be looking back fondly on anyone in this administration.

Speaking of wigging out, Iowa's Congressional Delegation could use a little "time-out".... Given the prevalence of immigrants, including illegal ones, in agriculture and meatpacking, you'd expect a little more balance....

Speaking of balance, I was thinking about looking at a certain "Centrist" project closely, but then I ran into the line "Without both the yin and the yang, there is no middle." [sound of teeth grinding] How to begin? Well, let's start with the mundane observation that, in a yin-yang system, there are times when there is only one or the other, and there is no particular virtue to the middle, which is really just a stopping point in the cycle moving from one extreme to another. I Ching is not a useful guide to modern political values. Politics is not a natural process: it is a social process in which we participate actively. Let's move on. (No, not that MoveOn: I finally removed myself from their mailing list entirely when they offered prizes for signature gatherers on an online petition.... ugh.)

Pop Quiz: You're retiring from government. Some people take home office supplies, sure. But what would you do, after retirement, with 30,500 government buckets?

Pop Quiz: Under what circumstances would you consider attacking schoolchildren guarded by soldiers of your own army?

Finally, High standards produce good results: ergonomics and sensory adaptation research for military and disability purposes. It might be worth noting that the military has a long-term interest in certain kinds of adaptations and disabilities, which are present in many veterans, so there's even less of a disjunction there than you think. In other disability news, Google has added audio verification to Blogger comments and blog creation (so I can take that petition off the sidebar! Yay!), and there's rumors that Apple is working on audio-tagging for music/sound files which would make iPods considerably more blind-friendly (also safer to use while doing something visual, like driving or walking).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Vote for Seven EXISTING Wonders, oh ye world travelers

Since the last seven wonders of the world are defunct (six of them, anyway), there's an endeavor underway to name Seven New Wonders.... well, not new, as the list largely consists of remains (in some cases, literally) of civilizations now dead or declining. [via]

You can vote online or by phone (online, you have to register, but you get seven votes and a chance to buy a certificate! By phone, you have to pay for an international call, and only get two votes) sometime before next July (yes, the announcment will be on 7/7/07).

Now, I'm going to try to start a new meme, to spread the news: Here's the list of candidate wonders, with the ones I've visited in bold. And the ones I'd never heard of before are in italics (this includes places I've heard of but didn't realize were "wonders").

the Acropolis in Athens
the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
Angkor, Cambodia
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
Christ Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
the Colosseum in Rome
Easter Island Statues, Chile
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Great Wall, China
Hagia Sofia, Istanbul
Kyomizu Temple, Kyoto, Japan
Kremlin/St. Basil, Moscow
Machu Picchu, Peru
Neuschwanstein Castle, F├╝ssen, Germany
Petra, Jordan
Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
the Statue of Liberty, New York
Stonehenge, Amesbury, United Kingdom
Sydney Opera House, Australia
the Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Timbuktu, Mali

Obviously, I have some serious world travel on my life agenda....

Are you kidding?

That's always the question with the Carnival of Satire. For example, this piece harks back to the bad old days, but if you know anything about that history you know that it's damned hard to satirize -- or easy, these days: you just quote it and nobody takes it seriously.

It's easy to beat up on government reorganization, but changing the name of the State Department to the "Pre-War Department" is inspired indeed. He's looking for a good replacement for CIA: how about "Cassandra Central"?

And goodness knows our national math and consumer skills suck; that's no joke. It sucks so bad that we keep electing people who sell us crap like this.

I'm not in the mood for this stuff today, I guess. Even International Respect for Chickens Day isn't doing it for me right now.

Well, maybe The Asian History Carnival will lift my spirits, though it's a bit small. Only edition four, though: growing pains. And the host cheated (not really!) and pointed out the Asian material in the History Carnival I still haven't read. ...

That gives me another chance to point you to 100WordMinimum's goofy architectural discoveries, a building to which only pictures could do justice. Also to re-raise the question of historians aggressively engaging with bad history (speaking of which, when's the next edition?!?!) and with hacks claiming to be historians.

It's not satire, but you gotta love a Renaissance Hunting Text Post like this:
I love the little deer grins. They're happy! And why wouldn't they be? They're deer, trapped in a deer park, about to be chased in a restricted area by a pack of howling dogs, then shot at close range with cross-bows!
I can just hear Michael Flanders in the background.... There's also discussion of fewmets, a word I think the blogosphere needs to embrace wholeheartedly. I'm gonna. Not literally, mind you; that's disgusting.

Ugh.

My family...

...escaped the Pale around the same time as the famous fictional milkman, for which I am eternally grateful.

Nathanael Robinson's Dignified Refrain on immigration is poetic and ... well, a bit disturbing in places, but great poetry often is. I don't know that he intended it as poetry, but Matthew Arnold described poetry as "simply the most beautiful way to say a thing," and I can think of no finer description.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Paranoid or Under Constant Attack?

Cheney, Energy and Iraq: a conspiracy or just whacked priorities?

Plame, Bush and Iran: a conspiracy or really unfortunate coincidence?

student patrols with shotguns and video cameras: satire or hysteria?

As Bill Morrissey sings
You can call me lazy, crazy, call me stupid, I don't care;
I ain't gettin' up, cause its dangerous out there.


Supplement: I have the greatest respect for those who have the intestinal fortitude to wade into rough comments and actually call people on their bloodlust and medievalism.

I really do think that there's a decent, moderate core to politics in this country, and that we need to be much more vocal about who we are and what we think.

Two Meme

via, whose formatting is more orthodox...

Update (5 May): The more I thought about this, the less I liked both the formatting and some of the answers (actually, the problem is the questions...). I've made some changes (none to the "today/yesterday" questions, though).

Two Names You Go By
1. *-**** [redacted to avoid embarrassment]
2. ***** [censored for national security]

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. red shirt
2. unique gold wedding band

Two Things You Want in a Relationship:
1. love
2. trust (got 'em)

Two Things You Want Really Badly:
1. A really, really good (compact, high res, optic zoom) digital camera
2. tenure

Two pets you had/have:
1. Never had a pet.
2. I have a tribble, though.

Two Favorite Sports:
1. Sumo
2. Baseball

Two people who will fill this out:
1. I don't tag.
2. I don't tag.

Two things you did last night:
1. Ate palak paneer
2. went to bed early.

Two Favorite Places to eat:
1. Winsteads (KC)
2. IHOP (anywhere)

Two People that live in your house:
1. Me
2. the Little Anachronism.

Two things you like about yourself:
1. intelligence, which I try to use in the service of others
2. thoughtfulness, empathy, moderation ....

Two things you ate today:
1. moon pie
2. leftover palak paneer

Two people you Last Talked To:
1. spouse
2. janitor

Two Things You're doing tomorrow:
1. eating pizza
2. driving to preschool

Two things that make you laugh:
1. playing nonsense word games with Little Anachronism
2. Le Show.

Two Favorite Holidays: (both festivals of freedom)
1. July 4th
2. Passover

Two last films you've seen:
1. Singin' In The Rain
2. Cinderella

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Rorshach Headline...

What does it say about me, that I saw that headline and immediately thought someone had identifed a dozen distinct steps, stages or causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

I've looked at Bees from Both Sides Now....

Bees can be a form of protest, if you're a world-renowned bee-wearer.

But who will, to paraphase the Lorax, speak for the bees?

The smoking gun...

So to speak. For a long time now, and for many people, the death penalty issue has hinged on the question of whether an innocent person could be or has been executed under our system of justice. If the answer is "no", then for many people the death penalty is basically OK, if a bit distasteful (unless someone they care about is affected). But some of us have said for a long time that the answer has to have been "yes" and would be "yes" again, given the slippages and errors which are quite normal even in "capital" cases. Kierkegaard Lives reports that there is exceedingly strong evidence that Texas -- big surprise there, eh? -- in fact has recently executed someone who would have been exonerated and released had he but lived a few months longer.

Worse, we can't even kill competently.

It's true that we, though action and inaction, directly or through our elected or corporate representatives, collectively and individually, cause or hasten death to many people. Death happens. But this is different: this is deliberate, cold-blooded, collective, unnecessary. We are the irresponsible parties in this death, and we should mourn, and we should repent, and we must, as part of that repentance, change.

What if we really can't do anything right....

Madman of Chu complicates things
The hard reality that Darfur points to is that waging a "war on terror" is pointless unless it is undertaken in tandem with a "war on genocide."
This is because "terrorists" is what governments who are undertaking genocide call those who oppose them. He goes on
The kind of resolve and audacity the Bush administration has shown in Iraq would serve well in Sudan and other places where genocide threatens global peace and stability. What the current situation requires is that the US follow the Clinton administration's policy of undertaking peace-enforcing actions in places (like Somalia, Kosovo) where no immediate US economic interests are at stake with the same tenacity and commitment the Bush administration has displayed in Iraq.
A few quibbles: Somalia was a GHWBush project originally, from which Clinton retreated (and subsequently failed to act in Rwanda). Kosovo presents a more complicated situation: we acted with resolve, but we did so at great cost and -- initially at least -- exacerbated the situation in a one-sided manner.

I'm struck by the juxtaposition of Andrew Meyer's argument with Shelby Steele's argument that "white guilt" (a truly broad term, as he uses it) has restrained our hands from accomplishing tasks of moral urgency.

I agree that settling questions in the Sudan is a matter of moral urgency; I'm not convinced that we can or should argue that George Bush's methods in Iraq were "OK but misdirected" in the face of the failure of those methods to actually solve anything.

People Say Dumb Stuff

Mr. Jones has an odiferous collection of mental fewmets; aside from the somewhat partisan selection, it's amusing; I love good epigrams. Here's a few medical malaprops for even more fun.

On the other hand.... thanks to Dave Neiwert, I found this treasure trove of multilingual patriotic documents as well as evidence that our own disgruntled head of state has participated in the promulgation of these recently-decreed-atrocities against national sentiment. Which is to say: the conservatives, including the President, who "object" to the national anthem in Spanish are racist, hypocritical ahistorical, hand-waving liars who are desperately grasping at straws to blunt the force of this new activist movement. Not to mention their other failings.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Historical Buddhist Children....Drinking?

History Carnival Thirty is a fantastic collection, in spite of my appearance there.

Blogmandu features a discussion of a Buddha Wall, an apparent apparition in ... Florida? More stuff I want to follow up on, too.

Kid Comedy Eight has lots of fun stuff.

And, in the "There'll be a carnival for everything someday" category: the first edition of the Carnival of Drinking, which is not as much riotous fun as you might think, but definitely higher-octane than the coffee and tea carnivals (yes, I noticed those, too....).

and Grand Rounds!. And the Carnival of Feminists! Damn, this blogosphere thing is busy...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Posting....

There's no theme here... yet. I'm just catching up on my Washington Post reading...

Vioxx lawsuits would be a perfect moment for the Bush administration to stand up for science, particularly since they could do so by beating up on trial lawyers? It would be nice to see them on the side of science for once, and they've oddly neglected the trial lawyer blight since the campaign (which featured a trial lawyer against them, of course, and which was largely fantastical to begin with). I guess it depends on whether Merck's been paying their grift lately.... or signed on to the dirty tricks squad.

In other science news, nasal spray flu vaccines are much more effective for young children. I've been wondering when we were going to get around to following the Japanese model of vaccinating schoolchildren -- which interrupts the largest transmission pool of the disease -- and shift away from playing catch-up with elderly/toddler vaccinations. Apparently the answer is "not yet, but we're getting better anyway." Speaking of Japan: when demographics and economics collide, obstetrics (i.e. pregnant women) suffer. Also, what's the most widely used pseudoscientific tool in law enforcement, on which our national security depends? answer here

You know this, because you're a blog reader, but blog readers aren't youthful slackers. No, we're professional procrastinators, with years of experience and highly qualified.... If you haven't had quite enough mainstream media metablogging lately, go here and realize that there are some people honestly trying to think things through. Mostly because they'd like to be on the "making a buck" side instead of the "failing economy" side, of course. With sweeping overgeneralizations like this, the transition to blogging ought to be a snap.

John Kenneth Galbraith falls into the category of public intellectuals whose influence I seem to be too young to really appreciate, but the description of The Affluent Society in this obit is uncannily still accurate, fifty years on. Speaking of economists, supply and demand explains a lot about oil prices but very little about energy policy

Reminder: Movies are movies, history is history. movies are not history, they are entertainment created for the purpose of making money.

Still no theme, unless you count the ongoing, continuing rampant march of morons...

Disablism: The Seeing Spouse

Blogging Against Disabilism Day 2006I am sighted; my spouse is blind.

There are a few things that I do better than my spouse because I am sighted and my spouse is not
  • drive
  • track fashions
  • skim
  • frisbee
  • watch television with the sound off
  • check cakes in the oven
There are ways in which my skills or capacities exceed those of my spouse but they have nothing to do with vision or blindness:
  • news junkiedom
  • my chosen profession
  • broad general knowledge
  • cooking sans recipe
  • hear high register sounds
There are also ways in which my spouse surpasses me that have little or nothing to do with blindness
  • music
  • moral and ethical consistency
  • optimism
  • ability to predict plot twists mid-drama
  • task orientation
  • cookie baking quality
  • raw intelligence
  • balance a checkbook
  • understand Windowstm
  • deal with difficult people
And my spouse can read in the dark, and fix my computer when the screen dies.

Ways in which we are exceedingly well matched (we're happily married, after all, over ten years)
  • education
  • verbal play
  • editorial support
  • musical interests
  • introverts
  • patient
  • family-centered
  • parenting priorities and methods
  • political orientation and engagement
Your [temporarily] sighted marriage should be so good.

[click on the logo above for other blogs participating in Blog Against Disabilism 2006]