Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bumper Sticker of the Month

Don't bitch about it
Start a Revolution

Friday, December 17, 2010

reading review style

I found an interesting series of novels - sort of a noir-wizard-Sam-Spade. On the Brain Candy level. This certainly isn't Raymond Chandler. Pleasant distraction and quick read. Review likely to be coming after finishing my thesis. Uhh ... thesis ... that reminds me of something ... something ... OH! that thing on my desk.

The author has written 13(?12) books in the series about the same character. Do I want to actually read the reviews of any beyond the next one? I really don't want to know that John and Mary wind up romantically involved. Really blew some of the romantic/sexual tension in the book I'm reading right now. Of course, that information was in a review of it. So, when you're writing reviews for Amazon (or whatever) - please don't add in tangential information about the further plot/character development.

I guess I'm over-organized on something. I only read books in the order they're written (chronologically for the story line, not publication date). I read all of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin opus. Once I decided to read all 20 of them ... well, I didn't want to find out what happened in the next one. I already completely enjoyed them, so I never bothered to read the reviews. Admittedly, the existence of other volumes does allow one to draw the conclusion that Our Heroes survive. The trick for a truly good author is to make you forget this when keeping you on the edge of your seat for the book in your hands.

Hennepin County Library - please remind those two people that I'm waiting for #4.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

History, revisited

Kingdom of Heaven was a visually . beautiful movie. Now that Orlando Bloom is no longer riding the LotR / PotC wave, I suppose it might be easier to watch it without seeing Legolas in the Holy Lands. The biggest visual draw-back of the whole movie is Eva Green. Jeeze... can't she ditch the over-done icky eye makeup that's in all her work?

This is the Crusades done to Eyes Without a Face, Billy Idol.
At least the focus on this isn't so bad, as long as you don't make it full-screen.

Yes, this is a simplistic summary of the Crusades. It is also much, much better than the 6th Grade history textbook I looked at a few years ago. At least it mentions
a) that there were more reasons than "for the glory of god"
b) the Children's crusade
c) other consequences of the wars beyond "Europeans got their ass kicked by the Muslims"

and, if you want Kingdom of Heaven on screen - watch in on a big-screen if possible. The big battle scenes and the long shots of Jerusalem/surrounding lands are better big. The costuming and visuals are really impressive. It's Ridley Scott, a.k.a., Gladiator, in his historian (and unfortunately not Alien) mode. Balian's "rise a knight" speech is Hollywood-esque overdone "ain't the little peasant peon really the center of all that is Right and Good, who are the True Good Guys". It's one of those "sort-of-based upon a story we think the scriptwriter once read", but at least they didn't hire a WASP to play Saladin.
sorry, can't figure out how to imbed it from IMdB.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How often did I tell students ...

Well, at least Mr.Gopher married a woman who labels her axes.

and right now, every single one of them is:

y-axis: critical fraction (by-pass/through)
x-axis: charge burden (n)

let's see if this choice makes it past my adviser

Thursday, December 9, 2010

statistics - bizarre indeed

Blogspot has a new tab/function on my page (well, I assume everyone else's too): Stats. I don't know if you can see it, or if it's only available to me. Being inveterately curious, I - of course - looked. It has a graph of page views vs. time. I can't tell if that includes me or not. (update:yes, it does) One tab in Stats provides a list of post titles and number of views for that particular page. The maximum by a looooong way was Scary Hairdos in the Reichstag on Election Day.

It also has a "traffic source", which makes no sense to me. It also leaves me wondering which country/corporation uses .tr This tab lists "Referring URL" and "Referring Sites". Neither one makes sense to me. Given this ... what's the point? I've been interested recently in how statistics is used to further misguide the ignorant/uneducated (which ever you think is less offensive a term, though I really do mean both). If so, these statistics are simply incomprehensible and therefore harmless. I think.

That said, the other function, Audience, is actually interesting, since it's graphic: a world map with countries (and US states) in different colors based upon viewing traffic, a text list of those countries, and pie charts indicating which browser program is used for looking at the page. I realize a large number of the US views might be myself, if the system doesn't consider whether or not I'm the viewer. But the rest of the world? Germany: a couple of friends & in-laws there. France: one in-law there. UK - French resident moved there. But ... Canada, Russia, Netherlands, India, Luxembourg, and Malaysia??

Inveterate curiosity sated: Went to list of how many views per post from today. My viewing is included in the numbers. Therefore the number of views from the US is not really *that* impressive, since a significant - if small - % is mine. I'm not in Turkey or Malaysia, though...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

what took you so long?

Overheard comment from woman probably 25-30 yr. old: "I'm going to get a passport..."

You don't have one?

How else are you going to convince the FEMA internment death camps that you're actually a US Citizen?

How else are you going to escape from the Idiots running the country & seek asylum somewhere else, if you can't get across the boarder?

Bumper Sticker of the Month (sort of)

so this is a while afterwards, but still funny:

Signs @ Rally for Sanity:

Sure there are more, but I don't want to go back through all of the ones I read, so here's a limited selection:

I came here Illegally. I went 5 mph over the limit on I-95

If you don't want the 1st Amendment, you can't have the 2nd.

I screwed you all, but thanks for blaming the black guy. w/Bush photo.

Really must see the photo.

I can't put the math symbols here, so just click here.

I have no problem paying taxes because I'm an adult and that's part of the deal
I'm ok with the mosque - but WalMart really scares me

If screaming makes you right ... the 3-year old won the street is a friggin' genius

I wouldn't presume to tell God who He hates.

Another sign you just have to see, but probably can't read the fine print.

God hates flags.

The following are still funny, but you probably don't want to read all of this, so the top ones are my favorites.

Taxes aren't why your life sucks.

Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit
I'm a Marxist. w/Groucho photo

I scare Juan Williams at airports. sign held by female, brown-skinned woman wearing hijab

Facts have a well-known Liberal bias.

Glenn Beck brainwashed my grandparents. I want them back!

Vote Cthulhu. Why pick a lesser evil?

Pssst...if you see my mom in the audience, tell her I'm working on my dissertation

Pi is all the irrationality I need

Empowering the Powerful - RepubliCorp

Thanks Honey 4 staying home w/ the kids

I've only got hair under my scarf. wearing hijab

I want to see Sarah Palin's birth certificate

Repeal Civil Rights -- I was happy at the back of the bus. held by black man

No more unqualified candidates: show me your grades in
US Gov't
Environmental Sci
Stats & Econ

Give Us Back the Colonies & we'll give you health care. under UK flag


Monday, November 29, 2010

science geek

Once a geek, always a geek
bonus Geek Points if you understand the bottom frame

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

OMG -HOW much did you say?

Christmas shopping > Jr.Gopher#1 > obsessions >
... ...

Possible gifts:
soccer jersey > german national team > OMG!
are you serious? That's more than a ticket to see the Red Wings play here in town.
And I can't even find them in kids' sizes.

Hmmmm ... link to sales in US ... OMG!
The Euro IS NOT that high against the dollar! And they don't even have Özil's number in the white home colors (and Real Madrid's jerseys are just ugly). I don't want to explain to Jr.Gopher#1 that #8 hasn't always been the same person.

Sort by price ... OMG
Do you seriously think I would buy a vuvuzela for my child? Yours, maybe, but not mine.

Found in kids' sizes ... guess it doesn't matter how expensive it is, since the sizes offered don't even appear on the chart...

sort by personal aesthetics ... why can't I find the 2006 jerseys? They were nicer looking. And, while I'm at it, why can't I find the women's team - not sizes, but die Frauenmannschaft? Power of popularity? The US Women's team has its own page, right? I live in a country where women's sports isn't hidden in the back closet ... we've got representa... uh, yeah, that page has one item: black training pants. And, seriously, who designed the US men's jerseys they had at the World Cup this year? Lord, how ugly...

I guess over-priced Legos might be higher on the shopping possibilities.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Scales & arpeggios

My 6-year old currently struggles to read, letter-by-letter. Consequently, he doesn't get the emotional impact of the text. Whereas, I can just let the letters pass and I get it. I found an analogy to music.

When I first learned to play an instrument (piano), it made sense to me as an 8-year old that one would somehow need to provide directions, i.e., the written music - probably not intuitively, afterall I'd spent my whole life seeing my mom play the piano. I could read words by that time, but learning to read music proved very difficult, to get both the bass & treble clef going at the same time. It was (and to a great extent still is) like reading two different books at the exact same time.

Later in life, when I finally pursued wind instruments, and fell in love with music as a hobbyist musician, I finally learned to read music, not just notes.

The same child has recently fallen in love with playing on my electric keyboard (a residual tool from singing in a choir and struggling to overcome hearing my own voice on/off pitch). The other day, while he was playing around with it, I reached over and started playing a scale while concurrently singing it. He was astonished, but promptly remembered the scene in The Aristocats, where one of the kittens is practicing singing her "scales and arpeggios" while the mom-cat plays the piano.

So far, Jr.Gopher#1 seems much more fluent reading in German than English. I think I'll need to check the availability of more German-language kids books to entice him to enjoy reading. Unfortunately, all of the sources for them domestically are really expensive - - and the trans-Atlantic shipping prices from are horrifically high since they don't do surface shipping. I guess I'll need to ship it free deutsche-domestically to OmaGopher and have her ship it to us cheaply. sigh ...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ad spending for election here in MN

Some of the TV stations are not releasing independent expenditure buys related to state races, including the governor's race, saying they are not required to do so under state and federal laws.
... therefore it's
1) a wonder the law has actually lasted
2) obvious the law will be repealed ASAP

Based upon the information contained therein about candidate spending,

1) the GOP will do anything legally possible to win the governor's race because they'll be horribly embarrassed if they out-spent Dayton more than 2:1, but still lost
Emmer(R): $1,713,780
Dayton(D): $ 889,330

2) the GOP voters apparently charge more, but the DFL votes are worth more
Emmer(R): 1,713,780 / 910,382 = 1.89 $/vote = 0.53 vote/dollar
Dayton(D): $ 889,330 / 919,238 = 0.97 $/vote = 1.03 vote/dollar

3) you can't win a state-wide seat on a shoe-string budget.
Governor: Hakeem = 6,187 votes (0.3%)
Auditor: Young = 54,152 votes (2.7%)
Admittedly, this might be interpreted as personally knowing me guarantees you can't win state office.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conspiracy? Likely not, but still ...

Air Freight is a vulnerability in the war on terror.

I must admit, the first thing which crossed my mind when I heard this is wow, I bet the Government did this in order to maintain the crisis-panic subsidizing their power.

Do I actually think so? No. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes.

Flow chart - diagrams

click on image to get it into a larger format to see the whole thing ... sorry I can't get it differently...

Problem solving flow chart - now this is my humor of the month:

Circuit diagram:

the holy water is my favorite part

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

civic duty

I just helped someone find their local polling place. Beyond doing my civic responsibility, I've helped someone do theirs. yea.

I'm waiting to go vote until after school, so that I can go with Jr. Gopher#1.
Get 'em young - train 'em right.

So far, I'm planning to vote for people from 3 different parties; can't find any worthwhile GOP candidates this time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Publication: Professional or not?

The Author questioned on her blog whether blogging is a publication credit for an author.
My answer: It depends.

If you head off to a different realm of publication, one finds scientific, peer-reviewed journals. There is a distinct quality issue here. One can't get 'published' unless one convinces the journal of the quality and value of one's work. This is no different superficially than publishing at Bantam or Vintage. One difference, as I understand it, is who does the 'approving'. These journals get reviewed by others who do the same type of research, who are therefore better able though not perfect to identify the scientific quality and value.

I am never going to "get published", to use the phrase as scientists do. My thesis research isn't really all that great, especially in the absence of about 1/2 of the data I wanted. Hypothetically my adviser could include me as a "secondary author" when he publishes the bigger research project which mine leads into, though I can't imagine him doing so.

This is an option I only notice on scientific journals: primary authors and secondary authors. The primary author's name is first, and if it's the first name, it's the primary author. Everyone else gets listed after that. I don't know if journals have a rule about the order. I did get included as a secondary author once, many years ago, and it wasn't alphabetical. Actually, the list was:
VP of R&D,
Worker with More Hours, and
Worker with Fewer Hours (me)

I see novels and non-fiction published with more than one author, but I have the impression that there are simply more names listed, and the first name is likely chosen for marketing value.

The key factor in my decision to include a blog under 'publications' on my resume would be the same as any other item: how relevant is it to the job requirements?
If I was applying for a job which required extensive writing of any kind ...? Yes I would include my blog.
If I was applying for a scientific job, and I thought my blog was scientifically fantastic, I would include it only if I thought it was make me look good.

The catch -for me as a professional looking at the healthygopher blog- would be how much profanity or socially unacceptable things I had made. I write my blog for purely personal enjoyment that might not always be appealing to all readers. While I don't go whole hog with obscenity, I do occasionally use it. This -again for me as a scientist- is really unacceptable. I really can't imagine mentioning it on a scientific job application because of this reason alone. Similarly, if it was a scientific blog, I would completely refrain from profanity and make an effort to be more objective in my writing. More professional, basically.

I guess at the end of the day - if you consider it a professional method to distribute your professional writing... it's a publication. Perhaps the question isn't the method (internet), per se, but how the method is used. Are you making and maintaining your blog as a professional tool? For you, the answer is yes. For me, the answer is no. Therefore you're publishing and I'm not.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Requiem of Doom

Riddle of Steel / Riders of Doom: if you remember Conan the Barbarian, you'll remember the tune (track 2). Lord only knows, but parts of it, esp. 3:50 make me think of the Requiem mass: Dona eis requiem aeternam to a pounding, driving over-the-top Williams-esque heroic tune. Rather appropriate, in this case: eternal rest grant unto them as Conan is killing everyone.

The tune is not exactly the version in the modern Gregorian tradition or even Mozart. Yes, yes, the picky adherents to the Church of Rome will point out that the 'official' order of the text is 'requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine'. However, given the glory of Latin declination of nouns, it shouldn't really matter in which order they are used.

Failing my current profession, perhaps I can turn to a life setting the Latin Mass to new settings.
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parenting 202

Thank you for the kind words. I spent so much time (time = $) seeing a shrink; I want my children to avoid repeating the process. I learned so much from that experience that has made it easier to deal with the rest of the world. One part of which is respecting another's boundaries.

"What's wrong?" sounds nice and considerate, but it isn't. There's no simple way of refusing to answer without sounding like you're rejecting the person's care for you. "Can I help you?" or even better, "Do you need help?" are easily answered with yes or no. If someone is that distraught, they're probably already at the point of monosyllabic answers. Last night I was talking to someone, who I noticed is more stressed out than usual. I care about this person and want them to be less stressed. Will demanding "what's wrong?" reduce the stress? No. Better question: "Do you know what's bothering you?" My next sentence is going to vary dramatically depending on whether his answer is yes or no. I try to apply this to the Jr.Gophers, to respect their feelings.

Additionally, I try to get them to express their emotions, something others aren't very in-tune with. I've tried to find a way to tell them how I'm feeling when they really, really piss me off. But i want them to have some gradation in this. I don't want them to think there is an on/off switch - Mom's angry or she's not. I had to deal with this with my mom's boyfriend, who singlehandedly contributed to a large amount of stupid shit hanging like an albatross around my psyche. I try to let them have free rein to tell me that they're angry with me (or anything else). Or tell them "you're starting to aggravate me". So, don't be surprised if you hear Gregor use that word - I heard it last week. "mama, you're aggravating me". It took so much effort to keep a straight face while asking him why.

Rather than paint Life as right and wrong (which, yes, DO exist), I try to leave that to morality or ethics, and not apply that black & white polarity to things like table manners or other mundanity which are categorized as rude/polite or appropriate/inappropriate.

One of the things I heard which drives the point home about expectations we have of children: seriously, he's only 3 years old! Now, just keep adding a year to this as he grows up. We don't often stop and consider that our expectations of children shouldn't be the same. This approach should segue into assessing our expectations for adults as individuals, rather than en mass.

Man, it gets so frustrating hearing a child ask you the EXACT SAME QUESTION repeatedly. Not just a few times in one day, but without any other communication in between.
Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Norway. ... no we're not, Mom!

Right around the 3rd answer, I have to keep telling my self "does it really matter how many times I give him the same answer? Really, is it going to kill me to say "Michigan" 40 times?" The answer to *that* question is obviously, no. So, I might as well do it. It's just that after the 10th or 15th time, when I'm SOOOOO bored, I occasionally resort to changing the answer in a radically different way. Inevitably, he notices and laughs.

Keep asking yourself "Does this REALLY matter?" no matter what the situation is.

Ask yourself: Do I ABSOLUTELY NEED to say anything? Quite often the answer to this ought to be no. Hell, you're not even obliged to answer anthing to the police or the judicial system. Why feel that way socially? e.g.

Person #1: I hate your shirt.
I am likely to say nothing, and get on with my life. So she hates it? So what? What would I get by disagreeing with a personal opinion? Not to mention, this isn't a question and grammatically requires no response.

Person #1: Do you know your opinion is wrong/stupid/etc?
This is a question, but so what? You're not obliged to answer it, are you? If you're not obliged to, why give yourself the stress of interacting with this person at all? Ignore her completely. Are you obliged to interact with someone who's rude to you? No! We too often feel we must respond to someone just because the spoke to us. Boy, that took a long time to realize. Of course, the response to their question can always be your own:

Person #1: Do you know you look like a dyke with that hair cut?
You: Did you know you're a rude asshole who's interrupting my lunch? Go away.

I try to treat the boys the same way I want to be treated, or the way that I want them to treat other people. I lose my temper occasionally; no, I'm far from a saint. It's given me practice dealing with inveterate assholes in the Adult World, too.

"That Is Totally Inappropriate" can usually be substituted for "Go Fuck Your Self" without adversely effecting one's professional status. I have yet to experience an occupational situation where the latter was really called for, although I can imagine one or two where I might. And I actually contemplated it once.

Yes, I can look at my parents and think "what in the name of all that's holy were you thinking?" just as much as I know both of my children could say the same thing in 40 years, God willing I'm still alive to hear it.

My mission statement about parenting:
I want my children to grow up to be men who are capable of loving themselves and loving others.
Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Really, what else is truly necessary in life? Being self-sufficient? Self-sufficiency is an American Myth and doesn't exist. Why brainwash my children to seek something that doesn't exist? Literacy, monetary wealth, children of their own, their own home, ... ?? How will those make you a better human being?

If there is anything else that you can point at and say "You failed as a mother because your son can't _____", be prepared to be told your opinion is inappropriate.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I had to answer yes/no to the following question on a job application form. I split it up to parse, since I couldn't figure out what the answer was.

Are you or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, brother or sister) currently or ever have been employed by a U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government (either as a civilian or in the military), or in a Reserve or Guard component of the Armed Services, or in any other position that may either: (1) prevent you from being employed by [us] or (2) place restrictions on what work assignments [we] may give you, if hired, due to U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government "revolving door" or conflict of interest laws?

... huh?

Are you - ok, that's me, good so far

or an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent, brother or sister) - that's a lot of people

currently or ever - if they care if I've ever done it, why mention 'current'?

have been employed by a U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government, - that's a lot of work

(either as a civilian or in the military) - is there any other possible category?

or in a Reserve or Guard component of the Armed Services, - didn't they just already include the military?

or in any other position - so basically, in any job anywhere with anyone by anyone genetically related to me or with whom I've genetically created some of these others

that may either:

(1) prevent you from being employed by [us] - god, I hope not

or (2) place restrictions on what work assignments [we] may give you,
If I haven't seen the job description (which we all know is NOT the one posted to get me to apply), how can I possibly answer this?

if hired, due to U.S. Federal, State, Local or Foreign Government "revolving door" - is this the "don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out" door?

or conflict of interest laws?
-- right now I'm thinking that the entire government system within the USA is in conflict with my interests.

... huh?

You know a lawyer spent an entire month trying to come up with this. I'm more accustomed to simply being asked "have you ever been convicted of a felony?"

Friday, October 8, 2010

how accurate is good?

Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
—John Tukey,
quoted on flowingdata

Thursday, October 7, 2010

succinctly put philosophy

Besides for a small group of the rich and powerful achiever/business tycoons, Rand, I believe, appeals to those who philosophically can’t move beyond their own feelings inadequacy. They see heros[sic] that society puts down and trashes their selfish desires. I think most Objectivists sit in their middle class suburban houses and think “Yeah, if society was like that, then I’d be a CEO making the big bucks too!” And there are also those who see these people, and use this selfishness and lack of self esteem and use it to manipulate them. Probably why it appeals to segment of the tea party folks. -- Richard Banet, #39.

This is it, people: the rich & powerful realize you, too, wish you could be rich & powerful just like them, so they convince you that you can be rich & powerful if you just act like them and let them run the country. After all, they're rich & powerful, so they know how to get into The Club, so if you put them in charge, they'll get you into The Club, too. So you buy their homes, and their vacations, and their life style. They suck in that money you're spending (because they're the ones who own the businesses selling this stuff), and you elect them to office. And, brother, are you fucked. Because chances are they got the money the good, old fashioned, guaranteed way: they inherited it. And you're sliding further into the hole because you're buying all that stuff from big companies owned by the already-rich, and not from your neighbor across town. And by now, the rich & powerful are elected and have enacted laws to only benefit the rich & powerful. But you still believe you can get into The Club, so you keep electing them. Because one of these days, you will be just like them and then you'll get what's coming to you, by God.

Only problem is, they're already in office, and you have already gotten what was coming to you. And now we're all fucked.

The above paragraph does not mention political party affiliation. Because it applies to all of them.

I've never met anyone from any party that thinks fiscal irresponsibility is a good idea. Every non-Republican (not to be confused with sane Conservatives like Mr.Gopher) I have ever met knows that everyone in the government is corrupted by the current fiscal system, regardless of their party membership.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

spongy white bread on the great buffet

An insanely funny review of Atlas Shrugged. I couldn't stop laughing.

I can't imagine it being that funny, if you haven't read the book, which the reviewer describes as "nerd revenge porn". Several of the reader comments (well the 1st few, I"m not going to read all 396 of them) are really amusing, as well. "Regardless, I may have to read it now, just so I can picture John Galt as a sentient cup of yogurt the whole time."

commenter #39 stated:
I think most Objectivists sit in their middle class suburban houses and think “Yeah, if society was like that, then I’d be a CEO making the big bucks too!” And there are also those who see these people, and use this selfishness and lack of self esteem and use it to manipulate them. Probably why it appeals to segment of the tea party folks.
-- nailed it in one. This explains my personal opinion of tannin-containing-idiots quite succinctly.

I read it in high school and it was the first significant piece of literature that really impressed me socio-politically. Sure, I'd read a bunch of Heinlein, Asimov, and I might even have read Dune, and quite a bit of Cherryh's more social-focused works. All of which came across as clearly SciFi. Atlas Shrugged was presented as more clearly 'it could be real', since it didn't have interstellar space traveling aliens wielding laser guns. I clearly disagree with the reviewer about how plausible the objectivist-world is. Just look around, man, and listen to the politicians today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

... I forgot

I need to start using that little notebook in my bag to remind myself of stupid things.
or things i think would be nice to share here.
or things i actually really need to remember.
or things i need to remember but really don't want to do.
or ...
i forget

When is it "safe" to be American?

When I heard the story on MPR this yesterday a.m., the "advice" from Sec.State was to avoid attracting undue attention as Americans. For example, don't wear American flags attached to clothes. My first thought: "fly the flag, but only at home?"

What's the message?

"You will be derided by certain tannin-containing groups as unpatriotic if you don't display stickers/signs/pins/etc of the American flag, but ... now you must show that you're patriotic, but only if you're inside the US."

What good are signs of patriotism here? Everyone knows I'm a rabid progressive who hates my homeland and refuses to conform to the desires of the Conservative One True Faith by ny embracing a socialist government. All those dipshits don't even know what socialism is. If they did, they wouldn't think I'm a socialist. Of course, I doubt they actually understand what communism or marxism or any other economic policy is either. If they did, they'd realize the "conservative" economic policy is actually stupid.

Now, seriously ... how can anyone fail to notice I'm American? I sound American when I speak, regardless of how I dress. I sound American, no matter what language I'm using. By the way, I have been assured my accent is 'cute' by one of my friends.


That's it! Speak some language other than English. No one will believe I'm American if I actually speak another language!

I am far more likely to be killed or maimed this afternoon at 15:00 (don't want to sound American when I tell time) en route (French!) to pick up my son at his foreign-language-(chic - more French)immersion school while driving my (German import) Volkswagen since my (foreign immigrant American-job displacing) Husband is at work than if I was in Europe somewhere (spending my American dollars supporting foreign businesses).

The State is always harping about being safe when abroad. Yes, stupid people need to be reminded that traveling in some places is a decision involving more risk than others. No, I don't particularly want to visit Nigeria or Cameroon or Palestine. That decision was reached without needing to consider my nationality. If it's a place where my nationality will be bad ... I assure you that I don't want to go there anyway. The Central African Republic has roaming gangs of rebel militia; Mauritania has terrorists kidnapping & killing French and Italian travelers. I don't know about you, but if I was a German citizen, I wouldn't be going there.

But now, as I review the State Department's travel warning website, apparently I shouldn't go anywhere. And, please take note, Europe is not on their travel warning website. Wouldn't want to piss off our mutually-euro-centric allies too much.

As observed by Mr. Ivey, he would be going to Europe: With a Teflon coated platinum walking sphere with radar and explosive sensors. I experience Europe through a small tube, but hey, no extremist is going to bag this American!

Safe is a relative, subjective word.

You're never safe.


I need to go find my car keys ...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Seriously, why bother?

It isn't as if my vote or anything else I do can possible overcome the immensity of corruption and money.

I keep asking myself whether or not American politics has always been this god-awful. Or is this simply a new and refined style of corruption?

yup ... new & improved!

why bother? god almighty, it's so depressing. almost as bad as the retarded idiots sitting over in St. Paul. Not at the capitol. The ones in the cathedral. That's even more remote from human influence.

why bother?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

incompetent self analysis

From 'The Agnostic's Dilemma' (NYTimes):
When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

the article also cites:
Justin Kruger and David Dunning, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1999, vol. 77, no. 6, pp. 1121-1134
these authors have several related articles

Saturday, August 14, 2010

summum bonum

My book,” says Skinner, ”is an effort to demonstrate how things go bad when you make a fetish out of individual freedom and dignity. If you insist that individual rights are the summum bonum, then the whole structure of society falls down.”

- Time Magazine, 1971

Thursday, August 12, 2010

[pre-review] This Body of Death

I can't take it anymore.

This Body of Death, latest endeavour from Elizabeth George, is up to par with her fantastic writing. Normally, her books start with an opening chapter which leaves you wondering which one of the people are going to bite it before Chapter 2. This opens in a totally foreign style, quickly identifiable as a formal report. Being about a group of 3 twelve-year old boys and a toddler, who is implied to be the victim of some horrific events. Chapter 2 comes. We still don't have a body or any police. We have, however, gotten a chapter which seems much more as expected. But no body. Back to the little boys. No body. At this point, I'm ready to ask "so where's Death, dammit?" Finally a body appears. But it is clearly an adult victim with an equally adult perpetrator.

As the plot progresses, it keeps popping back to the criminal report of the three boys and toddler.

I am at the point where I simply cannot read that part any more. The implication seems to be that the older boys killed the younger one with premeditated horror. If I knew the little tyke lived, I'd be okay with it. The writing is so bland and emotionally detached that I simply can't take it. Sure, the style is appropriate for some sort of review-report. But the sheer lack of emotional contact is driving me nuts.

Yet my response "why isn't anyone dead yet?" was in expectation of an adult victim. What's wrong with me, if the expectation of an adult dying is okay (in a literary sense), but a very young child completely horrifies me?

The new character on the force at Scotland Yard is an alcoholic woman, who like any alcoholic expends a lot of energy to avoid being revealed as such. An interesting approach to character is that she is far more worried about the vodka than in whether or not she's getting respect from her male subordinates, although if asked would claim the sexism was the biggest problem.

An Adult screwing up her life, and screwing up other Adults' lives, is much more emotionally palatable to me than trying to read something piecemeal that I just know is going to be truly horrific (as the report-author keeps stating). I think it's just the victim's age which is bothering me; I wonder, however, what my response would be if it was an adult. George's book With No One As Witness had a psychotic killer luring teenaged boys to their death; for some reason that wasn't so bad. In that situation, though, the kidnapping and murder were only mentioned distantly with details coming out only with the police investigation. This just drags out and out in excruciating detail, leaving me in fear for the child's life. Obviously this is extremely well written to provide such a strong response. Nevertheless ...

Sorry, Ms. George, I just can't take it. I am certain the two plot lines will merge; if the toddler survives, I might go back and read the whole thing when I re-read the book eventually (which I'm sure I'll do).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who were the good guys?

God help me. I mindlessly told Jr.Gopher#1 that he couldn’t see some movie because it was a ‘war movie’. What, of course, did he say?

What’s a war, mom? uuuuhhhh...

me to self: ... pay attention to the road construction; being late to the dentist is better than needing orthodontic reconstruction surgery after a car crash ... oh, my god, what am I going to say?... pay attention to the road ...


I said something I hoped would avoid a more detailed answer, which included something along the lines of
‘when two countries get so angry with each other that they start fighting over it. Except in a war, the people also get killed. War is horrible.’

Thinking - stupid, stupid, stupid! - to put this in some sort of not-so-vague point, I said that Oma’s dad had been a soldier and had been in a really big war in Germany.

“Was he one of the good guys?” fuck

“Well, sweetie, sometimes it’s not so easy to tell who’s the good guys.” so much for wanting to avoid weasel-worded answers...

“Did he die?”

“No, he came home from the war. He died later.”

Yes, I avoided mentioning he came home in 1953 after enduring god knows what as a Soviet POW. I’m not totally stupid, thank you.

Jr.Gopher#1 was hung up on the good-guy vs. bad-guy idea. I tried to think of a way to explain to a 6 year old the difference between stupid governments and nice people who happen to get sucked into fighting as soldiers for them.

“Some times countries go to war over stupid things. America got into a war like that when I was a little girl.” wow, I’m batting almost 1,000 on the stupidity scale in a mere 20 minutes

Again stupidly thinking of putting a more direct face on the matter, because he’s actually met my father, I added,

“Grandpa Bob was a soldier and fought in a war.”
“Did he die?” huh?

“No. Your grandfather? You met him. He came to my party and went to the zoo with us.”
“Did he kill anyone?” uhh...

In all the years since I discovered he had been in Viet Nam, I have never once considered whether or not he had killed anyone.

“Well, you can ask him. I’m sure he’ll tell you.”
I’m really curious about the answer.

My child not only doesn’t know what a war is (thank God), he has a terribly absolutist view of good and bad, like most children. How am I supposed to explain within such a polarized Weltanschaung that his great-grandfather was a soldier in the German army during World War 2, when the Germans were the Bad Guys, while I assume still being a nice man? Or that Uncle Joachim’s dad had fought in the same war, and the two men in question were apparently both devout Catholics who didn’t want to be in the war. Or that Opa’s father and Oma’s father had both fought in yet another big war in Germany, where Americans said they were the Bad Guys. Or that the German government being Bad didn’t make all of the soldiers Bad?

That’s right ... don’t explain it at all!!

Damn. I should have thought of that.

Damn. I should have just stopped while I was ahead.


I was also confronted with the realization that I’m not sure how I would have answered him, if the great-grandfather in question had been one of my grandfathers, i.e., American. Would I just off-the-cuff have said “yes, he was one of the Good Guys?”

Friday, August 6, 2010

101 Things To Do

101 Things (apparently) All Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die:

Come visit us & you can do the following:
40. Town ball in Minnesota (summer, towns throughout Minnesota). Town ball (baseball played by amateurs for their local town teams) is the last pure sport in America. You know the diamond in "Field of Dreams"? There are at least a dozen such fields in Minnesota where the local teams play a couple of nights a week each summer. Many of them have a cornfield on one side and a cemetery on the other, which is a fitting arrangement: life and death with baseball in between.

66. U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (January, Minneapolis). How cool is this tournament, played the way hockey is meant to be played (on a frozen lake shoveled off by the players themselves)? Brian Bellows played in it after his 10-year NHL career.

82. Minnesota high school hockey tournament (March, Minnesota). As with Indiana basketball, this tournament isn't what it once was when all high schools competed together regardless of size (Roseau, with an enrollment of about 400, won the last single-class tournament). But it remains as much a part of state culture as Prince, tater tot hot dish and "Fargo."

Not here, but you could probably stop by and say hi to my in-laws while you're there:
101. Driving the Ring (daily, western Germany). There is no speed limit on Germany's autobahn (somewhat of an exaggeration, there are speed limits) and there is nothing quite like doing 100 mph only to have a family in a station wagon honking at you to pull over and let them pass. But if the autobahn isn't fast enough for you, try out the 14-mile, 170-turn Nurburgring. The former Grand Prix course was closed to Formula One racing for decades before returning this year (too dangerous) but it's open to the public to drive at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. Just promise one thing: That you won't attempt this until you've accomplished the previous 100.

So far, I have accomplished the following on this list:
#66 - Pond Hockey Championships. Went this year with the Jr. Gophers. Only got to see about 20 minutes of play before the games were called off due to the ice melt being too deep for the puck to slide.

#88 - Monday Night Football. Well, in all honesty, I can't recall if the Steelers-Dolphins game was on a Monday Night or not. The WVU Marching Band was playing for them. Not nearly as impressive as the WVU-Pitt or Penn State games, though

#101 - above - driving on the autobahn - I tried it in Baden-Württemburg, near Stuttgart, and got passed by 2 Porches and 1 Ferrari which were all doing at least 120 mph.

What's on the list that I personally really want to see?

#56 - an All Blacks game. I wouldn't even care if it was in New Zealand, but I'm willing to suffer if I'm already there. In which case, it might co-incide with #64, camping out for tickets to anything, because in this Age of Electrons, I'm not camping out anywhere other than at my laptop.

#20 - Stanley Cup Playoffs. Preferably when it's Detroit on the ice or here in St. Paul.

#11 - Premier League soccer. I will make the assumption that the author is not a complete idiot despite some of the items on his list, and further assume that what he actually meant was Professional European Big League Soccer, and therefore this includes the Bundeslige. In which case, I'll head with Mr.Gopher for a game at his favorite team, Borussia-Mönchengladbach (how's that for a name?) or Schalke/Borussia-Dortmund/Köln (which are vaguely near the in-laws). Although Jr.Gopher#1 would no doubt bounce around insanely lobbying for Werder Bremen, where Mesut Özil plays (#8, his totally favoite player from the Weltmeisterschaft this year).

#2 - World Cup. The US is supposedly considering lobbying for hosting the games again in 2018. If so, and if the Gophers are still here ...? Sign me up along with the other million people who want to see it. At least if it's here, it'll be a sure thing that we're playing. And I really can't imagine Germany not at least qualifying.

What's not on the list that I personally really want to see?

A - Women's Ice Hockey NCAA Championships
Face it, there aren't going to be any women playing in the NHL. Ever. If I want to see top-notch women's hockey, it will only be at a university/college. And I'll need to do it before we leave Minnesota. Luckily we have several teams in-state, increasing the probability of access to the championship games. I've promised Jr.Gopher#1 to take him to a Gopher's game this season. Given the price difference, it will be the Women Gophers. I plan for this to be a gender-identity-expanding event: i.e., women a big sports players, too. This should precede next years Women's World Cup. Expect and brain-popping insane rant if the U has a female-version of Goldie the Gopher.

B - Women's World Cup. Although I will accept that the author just ... uh ... forgot? that there are two of them and thus forgot to mention this in passing with #2

C - stupifyingly, I don't recall college hockey being on the list. Maybe it's just not as cool as the Stanley Cup (true) or Pond Hockey Championships (maybe). The men's NCAA championship is on my list, too. Cheaper than seeing the Wild [I think...?] or any game in the Cup playoffs [for sure].

D - I'm sure I'll think of something else...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Old Cook Books

I learned how to cook using my mom's 1964 Fannie Farmer and Joy of Cooking. To this day, if I could only have 1 cookbook in my house, it would be Fannie Farmer. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone would be the 2nd, if limited to 2. Of course, given the content here, you could also buy a modern re-print of the 1896 original Fannie Farmer since it's not on Proj.Gutenberg. Oh, so tempting...

While in the SCA, I had occasion to enjoy the fruits of others' labors in producing medieval (or close to it) foods. It opened my pallet even more. So, for my friends who are interested in cooking, there are quite a few interesting books at Project Gutenberg published prior to 1920. I also have several friends who are on a more limited diet or who are vegetarian - so I've included many of those.
The "historical" (i.e., pre-1700) recipes are listed 1st, being the fewest (3.5)
The vegetarian-only are listed 2nd
the others are included either because they're just old or the title amused me or the content looks good (19th century cookbook devoted to chocolate). Caveat emptor - don't even imagine I've read all of these, much less tried them

see bottom for other really old stuff not in English

The Closet Of Sir Kenelm Digby Opened, Receipts For Mead, Metheglin, And Other Drinks, Cookery Receipts, pub. 1910 as a re-print of 1669 original text. The introductory biography is truly historically fascinating.

The accomplisht cook or, The art & mystery of cookery, 1685

The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet, Stored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying and cookery. Very pleasant and beneficial to all ingenious persons of the female sex, 1672

Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine, 1902, while published in '02, it is actually a treatise on ancient cuisine


veggie The Golden Age Cook Book, 1898

veggie Vaughan's Vegetable Cook Book, How to Cook and Use Rarer Vegetables and Herbs, 1919 for 4th ed., it was the 'rarer' that caught my eye, although that designation might not be applicable in today's global market; however, the "distinction about toxic & non-toxic ... may not conform to modern knowledge" is inspiring me to read it.

veggie Dr. Allinson's cookery book Comprising many valuable vegetarian recipes, 1915

veggie Cassell's Vegetarian Cookery, A Manual of Cheap and Wholesome Diet, 1891 - you'll have to page through quite a few advertisements for interesting products

veggie Food and Health, pre-1923, Canadian, pub. by Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company, recipes don't include their products, but there are copious testimonies about the efficacy thereof, leaving me wondering what exactly their "Vegetable Extract" was.

veggie Chocolate and Cocoa Recipes and Home Made Candy Recipes, pre-1923, but I'd guess closer to 1900, published by Baker's Cocoa company

veggie Food for the Traveler, What to Eat and Why, 1916, the content looks really intriguing, from directions on how to become a vegetarian to "foods not to mix" (not all of which are self-evident to me) and other things which should appeal to the modern connect with some nature-based philosophy life-styles. For Alison especially. Have absolutely no clue why "traveler" is in the title.

veggie No Animal Food and Nutrition and Diet with Vegetable Recipes, pre-1923, advocating everything from vegetarianism to eugenics, is more of a treatise, but does have recipes.

veggie Let There Be Cheese, 1955 on frontispiece, but it must be out of copyright.

veggie .New Vegetarian Dishes, 1892

Everything Else

The Suffrage Cook Book, 1915,

Science in the Kitchen, 1893, the Kellogg author is from the Kellogg company -- includes a section for Evils of Bad Cookery -- key words include vegetarianism

A Little Book for a Little Cook, 1905, published by Pillsbury

Foods That Will Win The War And How To Cook Them, 1918

Good Things to Eat as Suggested by Rufus, A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats,
Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.
, 1911 -- for Renaud

The Cook and Housekeeper's Complete and Universal Dictionary; Including a System of Modern Cookery, in all Its Various Branches, Adapted to the Use of Private Families, don't see a publication date, but the author died in 1828. Yes, 1828

The Cooking Manual of Practical Directions for Economical Every-Day Cookery, 1877

Twenty-Five Cent Dinners for Families of Six, 1878
sure, I have no idea what inflation has done to an 1878 dollar

Twenty-four Little French Dinners and How to Cook and Serve Them, 1919

A Poetical Cook-Book, 1864, each recipe is prefaced by a poem or verse about the food in question

Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Household Science in Rural Schools, 1918

other really old & intriguing stuff that's not in English
Le viandier de Taillevent, author died in 1395, in French
Apicii librorum X qui dicuntur De re coquinaria quae extant, 1922, in Latin - don't ask, I've no clue why a German publishing house would publish a Latin text on cooking in '22 - since I don't read Latin, I don't know if this is a re-print of something much older. The introduction has standard modern-ish citation forms for a couple of articles, which I just don't want to bother looking up, although they are in German journals. I simply can't imagine a cookbook being published in Latin unless it was so old that Latin was still the vernacular. -- although it does look like it's citing mss. from 15th-16th C. Hell, I'm taking it on faith that it even is a cookbook, although there are words I recognize which are food (vino, pices, oleum).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

[def.] Success

My mission statement about parenting:

I want my children to grow up to be men who are capable of loving themselves and loving others. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Really, what else is truly necessary in life?

Being self-sufficient? Self-sufficiency is an American Myth. Why brainwash my children to seek something that doesn't exist?

Being educated? That's nice, but if they have a 6th grade education, what bearing will that have on Life? Sure, they won't be a nuclear physicist, but so what? It will be harder to get a high-paying job ... but is that critical to having a Good Life?

I want them to have relationships with people which are fulfilling;
I want them to have a good education;
I want them to have hobbies which they enjoy;
I want them to be able to put a roof over their head and food on the table;
I want them to be able to travel the world and appreciate it in all of its glory;
I want many things.
But you know what ... I cannot control any of that.

I can't make any of that happen. So why should my relationship with my children revolve around whether or not those things occur? Will any of those things mean I'm a good mother? No. Will any one say, "Your child failed out of college, therefore you suck as a parent!" I suppose. Not more than once in my presence, though. "Your child just isn't capable of having a meaningful, healthy relationship with other people." Now that I will consider to be the death knell of my maternal efforts.

Reminding myself of this mantra is a key function to reducing parenting-ability stress. So he's not reading up to grade level? Well, yes, let's fix that. But there is only so much I can do about it. Why give myself unending stress about being a Bad Parent only to discover he has an inherent reading disability?

Can you Do Anything About It? if not, get over it. Get help, if necessary, but get over it. Get over it and get on with making sure they grow up to be loving people.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Is there a smoker in the house?

Futilely trying to light a baptismal candle yesterday, Fr. Joe finally sought assistance: "Is there someone who will admit to being a smoker?" No one answered.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

never voted - yet

There was a fellow sitting across the table from me @ May Day a few days ago. His companion had asked where he was from, as he had an odd accent. Their discussion verged into his impending U.S. citizenship.

He is from South Africa, sort of. Born in the UK, he was an English citizen, but promptly left. Growning up and spending most of the first half of his life in South Africa, he never voted. "There was not point." he said. He never bothered to for 2 years back in the UK. He's lived here for 20 years. He can't vote here. In fact,

He's never voted.


There was a tone of amazement and eagerness in his anticipation of elections in November.

The first time I voted was in 1984. Walter Mondale & Geraldine Ferraro and John Rockefeller were on the ticket. The last time I voted was in April at the nominating convention for the Green party. I wish more American citizens would look at the opportunity to vote with the same awe.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

don't make fun of the zeta function

frame 1> lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, she asked me what I was thinking about
frame 2> I should have made something up
frame 3> The Bellman-Ford algorithm makes terrible pillow talk.

me: read the text of the comic aloud, then asked if Mr.Gopher knew what this algorithm was. The comic was already amusing, whether or not I knew what it was. I got the point.

Mr.Gopher: didn't have any idea.

I was surprised.

me: it could just as easily have been the Rhiemann-Zeta function makes terrible pillow talk.

Mr.Gopher: No! continuing enthusiastically It's one of the most important problems in mathematics. It was on the list of significant unsolved mathematical problems 100 years ago; it's still on the most recent one. It's fascinating. Don't make fun of the zeta function!



me: hee hee hee hee hee hee

Mr.Gopher: what's so funny?


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My first thought

Really, the first thing that crossed my mind was: God, I really do look like my brother. Okay, they're not great pictures, I took them myself.

2nd thought: hey, I'm still a brunette.

It would have taken much more effort to get my hair-do worse than it was. This, seriously, is an improvement. At least I don't look like a walking q-tip.

I think the last time my hair was this short was when I was 6 months old. Cool - it only takes 10 minutes to dry, not 10 hours. but ... I think I look about 10 years older than I did as a long-haired red-head. ah, well ... it will grow back. The whole purpose was simply to get rid of the horrid 'do.

Identity matrix doesn't function normally either

Cute website. My favorite it even made Mr.Gopher smile:

Friday, July 23, 2010

creative profanity

Periodic Table of Swearing.

Done by an English(wo)man, based upon the prolific use of 'sod'

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Respecting the Law ... but not my intelligence

I am perhaps more critical of writing which starts by pissing me off.

America, we have a problem. Millions upon millions of people want to move here. Permanently. Even a country as prosperous as ours cannot possibly absorb so much humanity.
1st sentence of the NRO article Respecting the Law


So what happens now? The bullshit detector is on.

next sentence:

As problems go, however, this is not a bad one to have. For the day that “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” no longer besiege America is the day we will have to admit that America has lost its “magic formula.”

well, maybe an intelligent neo-nationalist

8th paragraph, following rah-rah-ain't-we-wonderful self-aggrandizement of the United States of America:

Respect for the rule of law seems natural to most Americans, what America does he live in? and can I get a visa? but it is largely an anomaly in the history of other nations. really? Would this be the 'other nations' whose legal system we adopted, like England? Or China, the oldest country in the world, which has had a rule of law for centuries? Or maybe he really means a 'democracy', which really has little to do with a rule of law? Nowhere is this more evident than in Latin America. South and Central America have seen scores of military dictatorships and autocracies, despite endorsing democracy and democratic institutions, since freeing themselves from the shackles of Spanish colonialism. Because we keep funding the groups which remove the democratically elected people we don't like. ... Far too many of the region’s leaders have learned the fine art of manipulating electoral politics FROM US in order to install themselves as autocrats or dictators with our money and political backing.

The inconsistent adherence to the rule of law has made it difficult for democratic institutions to flourish in Latin America. there? what about here?
Moreover, repeated flouting of the law by political and military leaders undermines respect for the law among the general public. only if you're a progressive This is evidenced in everyday life: Consider the streets of many Latin American countries, where simple traffic laws are violated almost universally, and with near-total impunity. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Has this man seen the streets of America? oh, right ... we've already established he doesn't live in the same America I do. Like Michigan, which treats stop signs as general guidance, and Minnesota where running red lights is a local sport on par with jay-walking in Michigan.

It’s no surprise, then, that some immigrants from Latin America evince a residual disrespect for the rule of law in this country. trans: I come from a country without traffic enforcement, therefore I will become a felon here, rape your daughters, steal your dogs, and suck on the teat of American social security.

It explains why so many ______ remain convinced that they have done nothing wrong by _________. Their desire to work hard and provide for their families is, for them, enough to justify their actions — the rule of law is an extraneous concept.

Now, class, let's fill in the blanks above. Is the correct answer:

American politicians // fucking the poor
American politicians // fucking our children's future
American politicians // waging unfunded wars abroad
unemployed illegal aliens // being hired by American companies
undocumented workers // entering our country illegally

If you answered a, b, c, or d - your head is sufficiently far enough out of your ass to smell shit when it's there.
If you answered e, you read Mr. Ortega's article.

Why is it that I think they assigned this piece of propaganda bullshit to a person with an Hispanic family name?

So, in summary:
Latinos have no traffic control and therefore are inherently incapable of obeying any law and therefore are unworthy to enter the hallowed borders of a country which worships the rule of law.

by the way ...

I filed suit yesterday in small claims court against someone in this Rule of Law Worshiping Society who rear-ended me, stove in my back hatch, and has no insurance while driving a vehicle belonging to someone else with no insurance, who then drove off before the cops came, after being monumentally stupid enough to stop and talk to me. If she'd just driven off, no one would ever have been able to prosecute her, since it wasn't her car.
She must have been an illegal immigrant.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I write like ...

cut & paste your writing to find out "who do you write like?" ... although I'm pretty sure it has a really simplistic tool. After all, look at the comparison of the topics and the writers below. It's not my writing style, it's the content. Because while I like Vonnegut, I do not write like him.

This is from my term paper on comparing dry and wet deposition following the Chernobyl disaster.

I write like
Arthur C. Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

This is from a blog post on my surreal experiences in a Staasi prison in Berlin, Germany

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

From a chapter of a fantasy book I wrote for some friends:

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Who in hell is David Foster Wallace?
With its baroque subplots, zany political satire, morbid, cerebral humor and astonishing range of cultural references, Wallace's brilliant but somewhat bloated dirigible of a second novel (after The Broom in the System) will appeal to steadfast readers of Pynchon and Gaddis. But few others will have the stamina for it. -publisher's weekly

So ... on 2nd thought about the content-only ... I had never heard of this Wallace fellow - but the text I pasted in was a pretty explicit erotic short story. The publisher's review doesn't make it sound like sex.

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

and, of course, out of scientific curiosity, I tried something from a famous author, Upton Sinclair, who apparently writes like Arthur C. Clark.

Friday, July 9, 2010

World Cup, pt. 9

yup - this is long - I don't know who reads this anyway, so if you give up in 3 paragraphs, I'll never know.

The next World Cup starts on June 26, 2011 in Germany. Yes, 2011. This will be the 6th cup for women. Germany is the 2-time-in-a-row defender. We have won 2 of the 5; Norway has the other. In comparison to the men, no one is going to be surprised if the US or Germany makes it to the semifinals.

Now this won't be a rant about women's sports getting the short end of the deal with support from their various national sporting associations or governments. I might, but it will be later. And will involve tea sets.

Oh, what the hell, I'll do it now.

I realize that women's sports doesn't have the draw that men's do. It's stupid, but it's reality. I could argue, rather than about women's sports, about gender discrimination in sports in general. Or the down-side to Title IX in sports. The stupidity of society in general about sports.

Oh, what the hell, I don't know where to start.

Tea sets:
In 1989, after winning their 1st UEFA championship, the German National Women's team received a tea set. Not even a really nice one, either. Not even one in black and white with red & gold highlights, or with the Deutsche Fußball Bund logo, or even the ordinary German eagle, not a really modern design, not even a completely goofy one with the pot designed to look like their jerseys. Nope - a quaint, old-fashioned pastel floral design. Yes, in '07 for winning the World Cup, they got a 50,000 € bonus. You can buy a lot of tea sets for 50k €.

Why doesn't American society want to spend the time or money on sports other than the Holy Trinity (basketball, baseball & football)? Ice hockey I understand being a geographically limited sport. The expansion of the NHL has made it more appealing in warmer climates, where they now have easy access to it. E.g. Hurricanes, Coyotes, Stars. I understand, given the already limited audience, the limited opportunity for women to have a pro hockey league. But soccer? Not even men's soccer gets the coverage that the lower-Nielsen-rated NHL does. But why not?

If sports are subsidized by commercial advertising dollars, and these companies want to make more money, I would think the opportunity for yet more commercialization would appeal to them. You would have different companies "sponsoring" the women's teams. Victoria's Secret isn't going to advertise for the NFL; although I don't understand why not. If the point of advertising is to a) get name recognition and b) increase sales, why not try to get the guys to buy sexy stuff for their girlfriends? Or themselves? More women are watching pro sports. Why not appeal to them through this venue? Are these feminine-appeal companies worried about being associated with men's sweat? If advertising at women's sports, are they worried about their name being associated with Brandi Chastain's bra?

Look at the sheer volume of ad dollars spent by Nike & Adidas impacting couch potatoes who aren't going to buy actual sporting gear. These guys are the ones buying ordinary clothes with the little swoop/3-stripes adding 175% to the otherwise expensive item. An activity equally participated in by women.

FIFA's general website is pretty thin for the women's branch. The page for the women's world cup is pathetic. Why can't they at least put more stories there? I'm not expecting the same level of coverage as the men. Afterall, the women don't have as much opportunity for professional play and therefore there is simply less to report. Nevertheless, the "recent news" for tournaments has no stories about the women. Sure, you say, the men's world cup is going on as you type, what do you expect? I expect to have one link - just one! - to the story that the first group of teams has been qualified for the women's tournament next year. If you go to a national teams' page, the "honors" doesn't distinguish between men's and women's. For some reason, I'm sure the Dutch women's team wasn't in the 1924 Olympic finals.

Sexism is pervasive in society. Men's discrimination is generally ignored (who cares?) or refuted (it can't possibly exist) or justified (what goes around comes around & they deserve to see what it's like). Title IX has been a godsend to women's sports opportunities. This is good for general public health**, encouraging participation from a location other than the couch. Of course, long-term spending on public health is all too often considered a waste of time. This is good for men. However,

Colleges/universities eliminating men's teams in order to offer women's sports is equally sexist. Of course, it's equally total bullshit offered to deflect their obscene expenditure on Football and Men's Basketball and blame it on the federal government's 'interference'. It's bullshit offered to blame women. Double-dipping at the discrimination trough - make the men blame the women teams and the women defend their desires to have teams. All the while claiming "but football brings in money that we claim to spend on the educational parts of the university". Without exception I don't believe this. Okay, maybe 10 cents on the dollar goes to education. Because we can't in the same sentence acknowledge that the average football coach makes 5-25x what the average professor makes. (ibid, In 2001 the Gopher's coach made $1,300,000 per year.) Plus maintenance for the stadium, a cost no one mentions in arguing the bond issues for building these stadiums on tax-payer dollars, which must also be kept-up on the taxpayer purse.

Some men's teams get screwed under Title IX; some sit back and reap the benefits of the men's gymnastics team blaming the women's soccer team for lower funding.

The Girls of Summer (review possibly coming out later) is interesting, if not so well written. The title, however, pisses me off. Why can't a publishing house, who wants to publish a book about how women's soccer in the US has struggled against sexism and who presumably wants to market it to a primarily female audience, use the word woman rather than girl? grrrr... How about cover art similar to The Women's Room? Despite the content of the book, does the publisher fear female sports are really seen as ok only for little girls who haven't become real women? Or are they worried about turning off the idiots who still think professional women athletes are all lesbians whose uterus is now incapable of functioning properly? Seriously, I remember hearing b.s. like this when I was in jr. high (i.e., ~1976). Stupidity which fails to match the epic don't go swimming when having your period because it will suck the water up into you. It's not idiocy safely relegated to the 1950s or Terms of Endearment.

Googling Germany+national+women+soccer yields a wikipedia page on the national team, which is actually the men's team. Of course, that page was written likely by a political-idiot American who also states that "Germany" has never technically won the world cup. Implying only West Germany has. Ignoring this is the fact that only the English-speaking world called it "West Germany", and it has since May 23, 1949 always technically been the Federal Republic of Germany, which won the Men's World Cup in 1954 . So, depending on how you choose to look at it, either
a) "Germany" really did win the world cup in 1954 because the team fielded was from the Bundes Republik Deutschlands (i.e., the Federal Republic of Germany) and every single year since the team
team fielded has been from the Bundes Republik Deutschlands
b) In 1990 when the "west" won, reunification had "technically" been agreed upon.

And, the suggestion from Google asking if I really meant Germany+national+women's+soccer still doesn't even result in the German team, only the general page about women's soccer. I realize Google is a responsive tool, but really, to fail to provide the page on Germany when googling the exact title of the wikipedia page?

Of course, some women are self-defeatingly stupid, too. What fucktard thought playing in mini-skirts over hot-pants was a step forward for women's sports? Probably the same person retard lunatic man(you really expect me to believe a woman came up with this idea? ... okay, I guess that is my point) woman who thinks playing beach volley ball in a thong as an Olympic sport was a Bright Idea. Elegant? If the Dutch think this is elegant, I'd really hate to see what they think is unattractive. Look at the team photo - if you're posing and the first thing I think is "wow, you can see up their skirts" ... it ain't elegant, sister, it's selling sexy. Do you really need to look elegant to play soccer? What athlete driven to compete and win is going to care if she looks pretty when she's sweating like a stuck pig and gasping in exhaustion after running non-stop for 45 minutes? Do they seriously think this will encourage 12-year old girls to be aggressive and self-assertive? I gotta tell you, if wearing skirts had been required to play soccer, there is no way in hell you could have gotten me onto the pitch when I was 13. I was all for sports; and all for contact sports on top of that. Karate, judo, SCA-fighting, yes. Mini-skirts? Fuck no! Maybe skirts aren't the reason they're #16. This is Holland, the same team duking it out Sunday for the Men's World Cup Championship. It's not as though they come from a nation devoid of world-class examples, say, Botswana. Afterall, skirts are ranked higher than two shorts-wearing teams from countries with power-house men's teams (Spain & Argentina). Two.

Speaking of which, if one looks at the 16 teams who were in the quarter-finals of the men's world cup this year, you have:
country ---- men's rank --- women's rank
Germany --- 6 --- 2
Paraguay --- 31 --- 116
Uruguay --- 16 --- 116
Argentina --- 7 --- 29
Brazil --- 1 --- 3
Holland --- 4 --- 16
Spain --- 2 --- 20
Ghana --- 32 --- 44
USA --- 14 --- 1 ... yes, yes, I know we weren't in the quarter finals, but our women are #1
mind, this is national ranking and not tournament placing.
The difference between the Dutch men's and women's teams isn't sooooo big. It's not the absolute difference in ranking. Just because one team is ranked higher doesn't mean there's something wrong with the other. But the ranking does compare women, not both. though I am curious about the points - Brazil, men's #1 has 1611 points; USA, women's #1 has 2233. They both use the 3/1/0 point system. Why do the women's teams have so many more points than the men's? This is a serious question and I would like an answer, if you have one.

Ah, I need to stop

**website might not be there, article is:
Physical Activity and Public Health -- A Recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine, JAMA, (1995) 273, 402-407.