Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Jesus for Huckabee

A NOTE TO VIEWERS: We are in no way intending to insult anyone's religious sensibilities, but rather to provide a parody of how politicians co-opt religion in service of earthly ends. When it comes to religion and politics, we follow the advice of a wise man: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Photos

Bedtime Stories

My first Christmas cookies

Michael & Gregor

Hooked on Phonics

A Frickin' Elephant

Jake is five and learning to read. He points at a picture in a zoo book and says, "Look Mama! It's a frickin' elephant!"

Deep breath... "What did you call it?"

"It's a frickin' Elephant, Mama! It says so on the picture!" and so it does...

" A f r i c a n Elephant "

Hooked on phonics! Ain't it wonderful?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

cold, damn cold ... and Minnesota

January 24
7:38 a.m.
air temperature =
officially the coldest weather I've ever had.
(yup, -29C)

It will be 50 degrees warmer on Saturday, and still never get above freezing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Russian 80s music (Soviet, that is)

Loved this since I heard it in the 80s... love the internet :) Vladimir Vysotsky - Koni priviredliviye [trans. Unruly (or fastidious) Horses"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Photographer

Finally, it got warm enough to build a snowman - or, as Michael puts it, a 'noman or 'neemann, depending on which language he uses. Yes, Michael actually took this photo.

Christmas Photos

Am having problems getting the images uploaded ... so, without seeing the photo layout while typig this ...
1. Gregor & Michael escorting the christmas tree out of the building
2. The 3 Kings came to bring presents (Santa doesn't visit everyone)
3. Hoppel-Hoppel-Reiter
4. Really, how could I pass this up? Thanks to Abel (the reindeer) and Ilse (the santa-suit left over from Michael)
5. Michael, the Incipient Interior Decorator

I'll try to get this to work again, and post some other photos... sigh...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ovaries vs. Uterus

Which flavor of feminist are you? Ovarian or Uterine?

The majority of women I know don't identify themselves as a 'feminist'. Yet, by their personal actions & philosophies, they are. (This includes me.) So, why don't I scream my 'feminist' identity from the rooftop? Besides the foot of snow and 0F weather out there? Because the radical idiots have branded 'feminism' as either the Bicycle Riding Fish or else the militant Stay At Home Mom. Those being, respectively, the ovarian and uterine feminists.

Either you've got ovaries and are therefore demanding of concessions to accommodate the eons of being put down by evil misogynist bastards conspiring to maintain their dead white male society ... or else you've got a functioning uterus and demand concessions to accommodate your biologically exalted state upon which the continuation of society rests. As far as I can tell, these two groups for some reason don't like each other:

The Bicycle Riding Fish see the Stay At Home Moms as traitors to The Cause, by returning to their state of subjugated servitude under Man, suborning their inherent abilities for the banality of procreation.

The Moms look down upon the Bicycle Riding Fish as simplistic creatures who have yet to See the Light and choose to exalt in their One True Womanhood, suborning their inherent maternal drive to the mundane of working.

In both cases, there cannot be equality of the sexes. The Fish see men as the perpetrators of all the evil and problems women must deal with today. The Moms see men as necessary to be able to Stay At Home, nonetheless setting them aside as being not completely necessary, since 'mom' is there.

The rest of us women want to simply get on with our lives. Yes, with gratitude to the many women and men who have struggled to give me the right to vote, the ability to be paid without difference to my sex, and to be able to have children and still keep my job.

Equality between the Sexes? Who are you kidding? Hell, there isn't even equality within the Sexes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

[definition] Demagogue

"In a time like the present, when demagogues seem to believe that their hour has come once again, one needs to speak out against them," Gunter Grass in Friday's Der Spiegel (,1518,528131,00.html)

Of course, he was talking about his governmental idiots, not ours ... because we don't have demagogues over here do we? ... do we? How do you spell that, anyway?

Demagogue: one who uses "a strategy for gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes."

Whew - nope, we don't have those here!


I looked in the mirror [this morning, well, I wrote this on the 12th], and wondered what should be different. The 13-year old version of me is simply not there. Nor is the 25-year old. Hell, I'm not even sure if I looked like this last year! Oh, that's right, I didn't. Last year I was 4 days away from giving birth and looked like a beached whale. Now I've got less weight (though, unfortunately, not where I wanted it), more gray hairs, and more children. Number and identity of husband hasn't changed.

Last year Peter & I went out to dinner & movie for my birthday - I think it was D'Amico & "The Painted Veil". This year? Pirate Veggie-Tales? Alvin & the Chipmunks?

New Diet for 2008

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer!

Yesterday I was buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my wonder dog at Wal-Mart and was in line to check out. The woman behind me asked me if I had a dog.

On impulse, I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, and that I was starting the Purina diet again. Although I probably shouldn't, because I'd ended up in the hospital last time. But that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms. I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry and that the food is nutritionally complete so I was going to try it again.

(I have to mention here that practically everyone in the line was by now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no -- I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's butt and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack, he was laughing so hard.

WAL-MART won't let me shop there any more.

I have no clue who actually wrote this, but someone named Judith Mills sent it, eventually reaching me, like those other internet stupid stories. And don't get me started on Wal-Mart ...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Awe of the Wonder that Was Once Rome

Rome: HBO productions, 12 episodes, 1st (of 2) seasons

The one (and only) time I ever saw Titanic, the most impressive image was at the very beginning, when the di Caprio character is boarding the ship and the camera shot goes from looking at them and the others walking on the quay/dockside, and then goes up, up, up along the side of this massive, monstrous behemoth of a ship. I had never truly had any concept of just how huge it was.

I've seen drawings of what the Roman Coliseum was supposed to have looked like 2,000 years ago. I've seen photographs of it today. Yet, when I saw Gladiator, I remember having the same shock as a group is entering the Coliseum. The movie gave a 'real' image of what it had looked like, those 2 millenia ago, with the little bits and statuary that are now missing. Some how, the motion of the images, and the fact that they were "real" (well, as real as STFU&GBTW makes them) ... some how drove home the size and scale as a photograph couldn't.

Rome is equally astonishing. Not really in scale, but in detail. I am willing to blindly accept that the basic historical facts are correct, as far as documentable events. I appreciate it's an historical drama, and not a documentary, and therefore the script is a nice story using "real" bits & pieces of fact to connect the fictitious story elements. But the little details? Ah, I sat and simply enjoyed, with my eyes as wide as if I had finally realized the scope of some other wonder of the world.

It is the women's clothing, the oil lamps, the eating utensils, wax tablets, the graffiti, the signs & symbols of people's social status, the crucifixions, the religious practices ... The events of daily life, which are generally ignored in movies like Gladiator or Cleopatra. Yes, really, I noticed the oil lamps. My friend Calum, whose academic pursuits were Roman history, was rather pleased with the replicas he made. [did you know the oil they burned was olive oil?] It looked just like the ones I saw in the props for ordinary people's houses. One sees tons of Roman armor fairly accurately reproduced in movies - of course, there's no shortage of extant examples; but women's clothing? Most of what I've seen is just "oh, some romantic thing".

The acting is spectacular. Any time one can wish to scream at the TV in sheer frustration, being totally engrossed in the story ... the acting and script must be good.

Another indication of the quality of the story: when one is hanging on baited breath despite knowing how the story ends. Unlike Titanic, where we know almost everyone dies, in Rome, we know Julius Caesar is dead at the end of the story; one only waits to discover whether the TV show ends with his death. I found my self wondering every time he walked into the Senate building, whether this was the day he would die at their hands, despite having yet 6, 5, 4,... episodes to go.

The story itself runs from the end of the Gallic Wars through Julius Caesar's death, a few years later. The expected cast of characters are present: Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, Marcus Brutus, Cato, Cicero, Pompey, & future-emperor Octavian. Also on the cast are several women: Atia (Caesar's niece and Octavian's mother), Octavian's sister, and Servilia (Brutus' mother & Caesar's lover). And, perhaps even more pleasant is the inclusion of ordinary men (& women).

One - perhaps major - point upon which I lay great doubts to the historical accuracy/depiction is Egypt: the ruling class at the time were Hellenistic (i.e., Greek) and were not the heiroglypic images one sees with Taylor's Cleopatra or Brando's Caesar. I'm certainly ignorant of much of its history. But, still ... this? I simply can't accept that this is even vaguely accurate. While that, by and large, isn't intrisically sinful, it is truly jarring in the midst of a show about which I have obviously waxed enthusiastically about its authenticity. Also, there are one or two points in the story line which are also completely unnecessary, to a degree that I found seriously off-putting.

The only two 'ordinary' men mentioned by name in Caesar's De Bello Gallico are included here as the counterpoint to the traditional nobility-only story. To a certain extent I preferred these two; their presentation seems to provide the grip of reality framing the political story.

Due to the wonders of cable, the directors were given the liberty of sex, drugs & other licentiousness. And, boy did they exercise that liberty. At least one review on amazon I read complained about the presence of so much sex & misogyny. As if one never sees it today in ordinary movies?

Story: great
Direction (as far as I'm able to judge this): great
Design & Costuming: absolutely fantastic
Casting: fantastic

Elizabeth's Rating:
go buy it and watch it over, and over, and over...

As a note of truly bizarre:
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres...
I mentioned to 3 different people that I was watching this, and how much I enjoyed it, indicating the interesting bit about the 2 "ordinary" men being from Caesar's Gallic Wars -- all 3 of them: Peter (Mr.Gopher), Joachim (Dr. Nuclear Physicist) and Mom(?!), all promptly spat out this opening line of his text. WTF?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Marxist Smurfs

Exerpt of Essay:

The Smurf Village itself is a perfect model of a [Marxist] socialist commune or collective. It is self-reliant, and the land is not owned by individuals, but by the entire collective of all the Smurfs, if the word 'owned' is even appropriate.
In conclusion: I believe that at the very least, Peyo was attempting to present certain Marxist theories in the form of an allegorical fairy tale. The Smurfs, then, succeeds in the way the best kind of fantasy literature does - by shining a light on the real world we all live in. There is much evidence to suggest that The Smurfs, as a narrative, is a utopian socialist fable. And ultimately, I think a large part of the appeal of the show comes from this utopian ideal, because even if it is unlikely to ever occur in the real world, with all its complexities, we can still imagine.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

[Book Review] Silent in the Grave

Silent in the Grave, Deanna Raybourn, Mira Pub., 2007

Picked it up, expecting it to be a cheezy romance novel to while away 20-25 min. waiting at Walgreen's. While, yes, a romance develops after the death of the heroine's husband on p. 3., it wasn't a Regency-era bodice ripper, it was a rather witty murder mystery set in 1880, England.

It is very difficult to write well in the first person. Raybourn pulls it off very nicely. It's first person from the same person all the way through. The most enjoyable part was simply the heroine's style of explaining this part of her life. Desperately waiting for someone else in the family to drop dead so that her aunt will leave her alone and go haunt the next bereaved widow.

The murder in question is the husband, who is written off as 'natural causes'. Despite a plea from a business associate of her dead spouse about the un-naturalness of it, Julia blows him off, dreading the impending year of 'mourning'. Obviously, she comes around, and the rest of the novel is the investigation into the death/murder. It is almost completely based upon deduction and implied evidence, since they can't very well exhume the body.

The only thing that was really disjointed, and possibly just too-21 Century, is the social mores and attitudes of the main characters. Would a young woman really be so blase to discover her older sister's "companion" is actually her live-in (female) lover? Were condoms really so accessible? For all I know, the depiction is accurate - it just doesn't seem like it - but, as this is the backdrop of the story, it wasn't big problem.

Do they fall in love? Will it be fulfilled or leave them in their separate social castes? Do they find the murderer, and how in the world did the man drop dead so fast?

All in all, a pleasant afternoon's light reading with much more intellectual activity than "Highlander's Bride" or some such rot with gross looking long-haired, bald-chested men on the book cover.

rating: get it at the library.

Elizabeth's book rating system:
1 - go buy it in hardback, 'cause you'll read it repeatedly
2 - sure, go buy it, you'll definitely read it more than once
3 - borrow it from a friend/library
4 - if it's lying around your friend's summer cottage, and you're bored, might as well read it.
5 - they do take books in the recycling bin, don't they?

Electronic voting machines - physics at its best

You know that old "wave-particle" dual nature of light? It applies to the current voting atmosphere. Votes are 'waves' - little eddies of electrons wandering around in the ether like lost children on a dark camping trip ... or else they're 'particles': solid mass defined by a voting ballot.

NYT article title: "Can You Count on Voting Machines?" Hell, no. Whomever thought electronic ballots were a good idea should be taken out and shot.

Paper, baby, paper. And I mean only paper. The only guarantor of democracy is free and fair - and accurate - elections. Who cares if the votes are counted by midnight, if they're counted wrong? I'll happily wait a week or two to find out who truly won. Afterall, I will have had to put up with 18 months of this happy horse-shit at that point. A two week vote-count would at least give me a 2-week break between "vote for me" and "the winner sucks" media stories.

Go vote.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ok, ok, pictures

Chef Gregor

Runs Like a Deer

Sorry, you need to twist your head, but this really wasn't posed

Michael & Gregor

Fighting Sioux? Fighting Jews?

AIM is going to be protesting at an up-coming UND-St.Cloud hockey game. Part of me is sympathetic to the AIM complaint; part of me is totally apathetic to the NCAA half-baked political-correctness mascot-war.

Fighting Sioux? Why is it no one is upset at the "Fighting Irish"? Have you ever seen the incredibly dorky thing that Notre Dame uses as its logo? I don't recall NCAA demanding that Notre Dame (another UND, come to think of it) get "permission" from the Irish Parliament to keep using the name?

As silly as I think Golden Gophers sounds, compared to, say, the Mountaineers - why is it that we want to cling to some stereotyped culture that isn't even our own? Why does UND want to associate themselves with the Sioux? Is it just some romantic notion of the mythical, rose-colored (i.e., ignorant) history of the area? Just habit? Is there really nothing else they could use? Hey, we've got Golden Gophers here; maybe they can be the Prairie Dogs. Too cute? They're disease-causing little rodents! The school could change it's cheer to "Go Hanta virus!"

For those who argue that it's just a name, I can only offer the following observation. I asked Peter about this, and wondered how he thought people would respond, if it was the "Fighting Spics" or the "Fighting Kikes". Thinking that this would put the argument clearly into the realm of acknowledged racial pejoratives. He looked at me blankly, and then told me he didn't really know, since he didn't know what a Spic or a Kike is. Names only carry meaning to some of us.

If I need to explain the bad feelings the name "fighting sioux" should elicit, my audience isn't going to be able to be sympathetic to my cause. If AIM is serious about getting UND to change its mascot, they might be better served convincing the population of North Dakota. Having NCAA be the bagman for their fight doesn't serve anyone. NCAA comes across as a tyrannical, paternalistic, politically correct machine, trying to force the various schools to be culturally sensitive. (that is not the mandate I see for an athletic group.) AIM (et al.), since they aren't seen as part of the conflict, loses the ability to get allies in this effort. This just leaves it on the back page of the paper with European-Americans apathetic to their cause. Not much has changed in 150 years, eh?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Ultimate F* Cop-Out

"You've got to do what you've got to do sometimes," -AP news

I just hate, loathe and despise this. This translates as:
"I did something stupendously self-centered and refuse to take personal responsibility for my actions."

States' Rights

"This administration is running on empty legally and morally. The EPA’s New Year’s resolution should be Face the Truth. Do your job or get out of the way, is what we say to the EPA. We will not accept no as an answer from do-nothing federal environmental officials when our public health and planet’s future are at stake. Top EPA officials are blocking responsible state steps against intolerable auto pollution, adding insult to injury and defying the law, common sense, science and their own staff." -- Connecticut Attny. Gen. Richard Blumenthal

Organized Anarchy?

How do anarchists manage to have a nation-wide coordinated meeting?

"If these estimates are correct, the 2008 Republican National Convention could be one of the largest protest demonstrations in Twin Cities history." -- well, I know 2 of them will both be named Tobias.

Big Brother is Watching You ... unfortunately, the dorks nextdoor are, too

Given how much time and money the gov't is willng to spend (or claims they are spending), it is a wonder why crime hasn't plummeted. Ordinary crime. How could they possibly be doing so much surveillance of people they "know" to be "suspected of terrorist activity" and not find someone doing something illegal. Like speeding. Selling drugs. Rape. Assault? The crimes that effect my life every day. Either they aren't actually doing any surveillance - or they are watching the wrong people - of they're simply idiots.

I am so desperately tempted to start randomly putting things in my email - and now here - that will give me the pleasant illusion of free speech concurrently with driving the gov't nuts. Anthrax. Ricin. Polonium. Iraq. Afghanistan. Al-Quaida (or whatever the spelling d'jour is).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It could be worse

No matter how completely screwed up I think our political system is (electoral college, private funding of elections, only 2 parties, &c. ...) all I need to do is read the newspaper to realize it could be worse. It could be a lot worse. I might get intimidated en route to the polls, or bombarded with stupidity in the media. At least no one is going to kill me.,1518,526069,00.html

Strangest Subjects for email

Why would I make something like these up?

Nude Mice and Breast Cancer
Embalmed Body Parts
Spill Pillows
and, my favorite:
Armadillo Ears and M. leprae

yes, they're all real email - and real subjects
although, even the armadillo ears made me do a double take

Big Business Will Control Itself

Private industry doesn't need gov't regulation! They'll treat their workers nice! Really! It's in their interest! Really!

And, since we've gutted the US educational system, you obviously have never heard of the late 19th Century's business environment.

Child labor laws? Hell, who needs them? Kids work at McD, don't they?
OSHA? A company would never skimp on things that might hurt their workers, would they?

+ 1 year = -1 degree

Just looked at MPR's site and discovered it's 70 degrees colder outside than in my living room. This is finally the kind of winter I expected when I moved to Minnesota. We've had at least 4 or 5" snow on the ground for the past 4 weeks, and it's only gone above freezing 2 or 3 times since then. We're back to the "freeze your nose hair" temperatures, though. Yup, -1 Fahrenheit. Welcome in 2008.

38 days until I get to go stare at a ballot, thank God that it's paper, and then go back to wondering what the hell I'm supposed to do with it.