A Sermon for Sunday

Courtesy of Driftglass

I do believe I feel a Hallelujah coming on.


This is me avoiding household chores

The Chemist answered these questions on his blog, questions posed by Somewaterytart, and he said anyone could go ahead and do them on their blog, and I have to wash my kitchen floor, so I'm going to sit here and answer these questions instead.

1a. What year did you first start using e-mail (on a daily basis)?
1994, I think. I was most definitely using e-mail in 1995

1b. What year did you first start using a cell phone?
1995, I think. Then I stopped using it in 1998, and didn't get another one until 2001

1c. What is the ring-tone on your cell phone?
Ring tone 2 from the ring tones that were programmed into the phone when I got it.

2. From where you are answering this, can you see out a window? If so, what do you see?
It's dark, so I can't really see anything, but if it were daytime, I would see the garage, the two dead cars that continue to take up space in our driveway, antagonizing our neighbors, and the trees that border our yard from our neighbors yards.

3a. What one physical characteristic would you change about yourself?
I wouldn't have a deformed hip, or I would have a longer neck.

3b. What one personality trait would you change about yourself?
I wish I were less lazy, but entropy and I, we are constant companions.

3c. Thing you like about yourself the most?
My sense of humor, mostly because it allows me to appreciate all kinds of humor except for The Three Stooges and winger humor, because neither of them are funny.

4a. Favorite spectator sport?
hurling and hockey

4b. Favorite team and/or player in that sport?
Galway and the now defunct Hartford Whalers

4c. Professional sports team and/or player you would most enjoy seeing crushed in defeat?

5a. Favorite bumper sticker saying?
I like any anti-Bush stickers I see, and stickers that are meaningful to me personally, but probably make no sense to the person behind me on the road, like Can't Stop the Signal or Proud Member of the Reality Based Community. But the only bumper sticker on any of the cars we own is on our dead white Saturn, and it says "May the Force Be With You"

5b. Bumper sticker saying that really pisses you off?
W04, Bush 04, Bush/Cheney, and DOMA bumperstickers raise my blood pressure.

6a. Do you believe in astrology?

6b. Do you believe in extra-sensory perception of any kind?
I have actually experienced some sort of extra-sensory perception. The other day, for some reason, the phrase "smells of onions" was wandering randomly through my brain, and that night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart said that very phrase.

Also, when I was 16, I went to arts camp, and after 1 full day, I told everyone who lived on my floor (Foss 5 1/2 at Wesleyan University) what their houses/yards looked like, and I was nearly 100% accurate. To be perfectly honest, though, I really just made assumptions based on what towns they lived in and how rich I perceived them to be. IOW, it wasn't really ESP, it was really an educated guess.

And, of course, I was almost 100% accurate in determining the etymology and meaning of the word "wev", so maybe I'm psychic after all.

6c. Do you believe in ghosts?

6d. Do you believe in God?
Sometimes I wish there were a God, but I can't really make the leap of faith to actually believing in him/her.

6e. If you answered "No" to 6a, 6b, and 6c, and "Yes" to 6d, please explain.

7a. Favorite movie ever?
Raising Arizona

7b. Funniest movie ever?
Same, although I would also throw in the Monty Python movies, and the Rome section of the movie Night On Earth

7c. Scariest movie ever?
Bob Roberts, because it's all so real now.

7d. Worst movie you've ever watched in its entirety?
I have actually watched Barbie Rapunzel, Barbie Swan Lake *and* Barbie The Princess and the Pauper. But the worst has to be 9 and a Half Weeks.

8. If you were appointed Supreme Dictator of the United States for a day, what one thing would you outlaw? (Note: None of this "I'm not that type of person" crap. Indulge yourself.)
Ownership of media outlets by publicly traded companies - media should be accountable to their readers/viewers, not the stockholders of the energy company that owns the newspaper.

9. Are you happy?

10a. How many foreign languages are you fluent in?
None. I know a little Spanish, less French, lots of Italian musical phrases, and loads of religious Latin.

10b. How many computer languages are you fluent in?
I don't even understand the question, that's how few.

11a. What was your major when you entered college?
Theater - Directing

11b. And what was it when you graduated?
I'm still in college, but my major is music education now.

11c. And what would it be if you could do it all over again?
Music education

11d. And if you were to go back to school now strictly for pleasure/self-improvement?
Creative writing

12a. What one thing about George Bush do you loathe more than anything else?
I can't decide between his inability to speak English after graduating from a school like Yale, or that fucking smirk.

12b. Member of the Bush Administration you actually think is evil (as opposed to merely stupid, incompetent, wrong-headed or short-sighted)?

13. Do you "share" music with your friends, and if so do you feel guilty about it?
I share my love of certain artists with my friends, and I let people borrow my CDs, but that's all the sharing I do. I'm an idiot when it comes to online music sharing.

14. Favorite comic strip?
Bloom County and Life In Hell are my two old favorites. Of current strips, I like The Boondocks

15a. Do you consider yourself romantic?

15b. Have you found your One True Love?
I don't believe in such a thing. I think there are many people on this planet that I could love and who could love me back, and I happen to be lucky enough to have found one of them when I was 17 years old, and we've been together since then.

15c. Do you use cute nicknames for each other?

15d. If so, what are... No, scratch that.

16. Ever owned an "exotic" pet, and if so what was it?
Are goats considered exotic? I've had chickens, ducks, geese, turtles, snakes, goldfish, cats, dogs, a lamb named Sean and a goat named Caligula.

17. Physically-grueling activities: Love 'em or hate 'em?
Love 'em, but can't do 'em because of my bum hip.

18. Have you ever gotten a Letter to the Editor published? If so, what was it about?
Yes, I have - once in The Hartford Courant, about the biased media coverage of the situation in Northern Ireland - this was when Reagan was president, and he was very supportive of Margaret Thatcher's Northern Ireland policy, and the coverage of how Catholics were living in NI at the time was non-existant, we only heard about the IRA and the Protestants.

In May of this year I had a LTE published in the New York Times - this was when Newsweek retracted their story about prisoner abuse. I suggested that since Newsweek retracted the story because of the unreliable source, that Bush should have to retract his war.

19. Would you say you're competitive?

20. As a percentage, how much of what you've achieved in life would you say is due to "dumb luck" (e.g. where you were born, who your parents were, random chance, connections you've made with people, etc.) versus hard work, careful planning, and determination? Please round to the nearest 10th percentile.
90% - but I wouldn't say all of that dumb luck was good luck. I was born in the US, which means I'm better off than nearly everyone else in the world, but I was born to an abusive alcoholic parent, which sucked, and I was raised by parents who really hindered me when I tried to better myself.

21. What actor/actress would you want to play you in the Movie of Your Life?
Kate Winslet

22. Favorite philosopher?
I don't have one

23a. What is the most enjoyable job you've ever had?
Even though it means I have to go to church every Sunday, I love getting paid to sing.

23b. Putting aside talent, training, compensation, and any other practical consideration, what job would you most like to have?
critically acclaimed short story author

23c. OK, now taking all the practical stuff back into account, what job do you wish you could have?
music teacher

23d. If you won Powerball, would you continue to work any kind of regular job?
My powerball plan, which would go into affect if I ever won Powerball (which is unlikely since I have never bought a Powerball ticket) is to quit my current job, go back to school full-time, and get a job I like out of it.

24. Biggest phobia?
I cannot make myself jump into the water. I can dive in, but I can't go feet first.

25a. How often do you worry about death?
I used to never worry about it, but sometimes when I can't sleep, I worry that I won't be around to meet my grandchildren.

25b. What's the closest you've ever come to dying?
I almost drowned when I was 4. I wonder if that has anything to do with my answer to 24?

25c. If you could be immortal, would you want to be? (Note: If you answered "Yes" to 15b, assume that person could be immortal with you.)
No, but I would like to be around for a good long time.

26. What period in history would you most like to visit?
The future

27a. Do you think we'll ever achieve interstellar travel?

27b. If you could travel in space, even if it were "just" to a Moon base, e.g., would you go?
Hell yeah

28. Name someone of your own gender that you consider "hot". (Note: Answering this does not mean you're gay, although feeling intense discomfort about answering it might. Oh, and if you are gay, name someone of the opposite gender you consider "hot".)
Kate Winslet

29. Book(s) you've tried to read but just couldn't get through that you still plan to read?
Heart of Darkness

30a. Favorite alcholic beverage?
Girly drinks - toasted almond, margaritas, daquiris, etc.

30b. How often do you drink alcoholic beverages?
If you average it out over the course of my life, probably once every three years.

31a. Do you enjoy taking surveys?

31b. Are you pissed off that I said this was going to be 40 questions and, including sub-questions, we're already at, like, 52?
No, like most people, I can talk about myself all day long.

32. How many of the 50 states have you been to? (Note: For purposes of this question, "been to" can include driving through on the highway, but it cannot include airport stop-overs where you did not leave the airport.)
11 - Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Florida, Nevada

33. Person you'd most like to have a beer with (excluding friends/family)?
At this very moment, my answer is Rob Corddry, I think he's damn sexy.

34. Person you'd most like to punch in the mouth?
Sean Hannity

35a. Describe your style of driving.
I vary between competitive (when I drive in the city), distracted (when I'm tooling around town - I like to look in people's houses as I drive by at night. It's really a wonder that I've never had an accident) and zen (when I'm driving on the highway, in traffic - I try to just chill and enjoy the music.

35b. If you could have any car in the world -- for daily use, not a "trophy" car -- what would it be?
a hybrid of some sort

36. Your Myers-Briggs personality type?
EMCJ? ICMJ? I don't remember what it was, and I'm not taking the test again.

37. Favorite color? Explain.
I don't have just one.

38. Favorite season/location combination?
Autumn in New England. Cold enough to wear a sweater, but not freezing. Beautiful leaves, Halloween, my birthday.

39. Do It Yourself or Hire A Professional?
I take option C, denial that something needs to be fixed. Which I guess ultimately results in hire a professional.

40. It's Friday afternoon, almost quittin' time. Can't wait to get home so you can _____.
go swimming.


Reminder: Firefly Friday

If you happen to be home and not busy at 6pm EST tonight, why not check out Firefly on the Sci-Fi channel.

Tonight they are airing the pilot episode Serenity in its entirety, starting at 6pm.

If you like what you see, buy the DVD! And get excited for the movie, opening September 30.

And you can even buy the comic! (I got the Jayne cover yesterday, I'm still looking for Mal and Inara.)

Save CBGB's

My big sister Tree alerted me to this story, about the possible end of the venerable music establishment.

I've never been inside the joint myself*, but it's where Tree got her first taste of freedom. And, more universally speaking, where many great bands have played - bands like The Ramones, The Talking Heads, 80's CT favorite Miracle Legion, among many others.

I know that there are a lot of things we liberals are asked to do everyday - write our representives in Congress, call our Senators to tell them how we think they should vote, and of course there are more pressing issues right now, like Latonyia Figueroa, but please take a moment to see if you can write a quick letter to Mayor Bloomie, to get him to exert some political pressure to keep CBGB's alive.

*My close to CBGBs experience occurred in 1987. I was on a field trip to NYC with the chorus and drama club, to see Big River (with the awesome John Goodman as Huck's Pappy). Before we went to see the show, we were supposed to go to South Street Seaport, but the drama club director packed me and my best friend B into a cab and took us to Greenwich Village instead. I bought a really nice skirt just down the block a smidge from CBGBs, from a woman who was selling stuff on the street. I think I paid $3 for the skirt, which was a black and silver gypsy type skirt.

Digby on the DLC

Someone should give Digby a job with the Democratic Party. He is too sharp to just be posting his opinions on a blog.

Start by scrolling down to the entry called Fighting Liberals, and work your way up. Lots of good stuff.


Our goodwill ambassador

I got an e-mail from my friend who is hosting Sio. My friend works at University College London, which is also Sio's first choice for college, so my friend took Sio on a tour today.

According to the e-mail, Sio charmed her way into the Head of the Chemistry department's office for a meeting, and everyone adored her, as is usual.

We call her our goodwill ambassador for a reason - she makes us look like the best parents in the world.

New to blogroll

How on earth did I miss Driftglass until today?


No swimming tonight

My eldest has arrived safely at my friend's London home, and of course, my friend has already put in a bid to adopt Sio.

Meanwhile, there's a lovely afternoon thunderstorm ruining my daily excercise program here in CT. After a hot and muggy drive home from work, I was looking forward to getting 500 meters in tonight, but the weather had other plans. I used to love thunderstorms before I learned how to swim.

Thou shalst read vpon paine of death

The Poor Man must be trying to sweep the Koufax Awards.

Hottest blog on the internets

John Howard just won't stop posting.


Things I saw at the pool tonight

* A little girl, maybe about 4, who could do the crawl stroke like Michael Phelps

* My former swimming teacher and his girlfriend snuggling** before they did their laps (**that's not a euphemism)

* A large Muslim family - looked like a grandmother and grandfather and their children and their children's children. The grandmother went into the pool in her hijab, and the grandfather was singing to the grandchildren while they splashed around. I don't know what he was singing, but it was making the kids giggle like crazy.

* A little brat mouthing off to her mother, and then taking a sip of soda and spitting it out on the sidewalk. The mother wasn't around so I told the girl that was disgusting and sent her to get some water to wash it up.

* A little boy doing made up karate moves - he was about 3 and he was in his own little world, totally without self-consciousness

Will Marshall, DLC dunce

Will Marshall thinks his fellow Democrats are unpatriotic, apparently because we aren't sufficiently jingoistic for his taste.

I don't know where to begin in pointing out the many places he is wrong. From saying that "Michael Moore Democrats" reject the very idea of fighting terrorism to complaining that we should just ignore that torture behind the curtain, the whole essay is chock full of GOP talking points and stereotypes.

I've mentioned it before, but I wanted to reiterate my preferred analogy for the discussion of my patriotism. As a parent, I am my child's biggest cheerleader, and my kids make me feel prouder than a peacock. I have a knee-jerk defensive reaction when someone tries to hurt them. But that does not stop me from correcting them when they go astray. That's the kind of patriot I am. Our country has gone massively astray - we've become bullies capable of ruthless cruelty, and as is usually the case with bullies, our actions come from fear.

GOP style patriotism is, to stretch analogy, more like the parent who says their child would *never* lie, *never* cheat, *never* be mean to the other kids. They show up for a disciplinary hearing with a lawyer to make sure their little Jimmy or Jenny doesn't have anything negative on their permanent record, even if they did punch that boy or smoke those cigarettes in the bathroom.

I am a white coastal liberal (although if you call me elite I might have to kick you in the shins and show you my bank balance), but I'm pretty sure parents in the heartland are no different than parents on the coasts - for the most part, we correct our kids when they misbehave, and try to set them back on the right path. And we really don't care for those parents who refuse to see that their children aren't perfect and need guidance - they make our jobs more difficult by not doing right by their kids.

As always, Digby's response is essential reading.

I hope Jon washed his hands

Santorum was on The Daily Show last night. I could see why he was the GOP's boy, because he didn't stray off his message for a moment - virtues, character, in the book, read my book, buy the book.

But what a dolt he is! I always knew he had a tendency to say stupid things, but there is really nothing going on in that brain. He doesn't even understand the words he's saying. He is so fixated on his belief about the ideal family that he just ignores the reality that there ain't no such thing.

One of the dribbles of Santorum that came out of his mouth last night was that the government should legislate ideals. I wonder if he gave a second thought to any other governments that try/ied to legislate ideals?



This story has been posted at various blogs: Justin Logan and Matt Yglesias, among others, have already documented the insanity.

Philip Giraldi wrote the following in the most recent edition of The
American Conservative magazine (not available online):

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick
Cheney's office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command
(STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in
response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United
States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran
employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within
Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including
numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many
of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be
taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in
the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually
being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United
States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning
are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--
that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no
one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

I just wanted to highlight this sentence:

As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran
actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the
United States.

Now, I support making plans for how we would respond to another
terrorist attack, but they are planning to start a war with nuclear
weapons involved if we are attacked again, and once again, they
won't be going after the person/people who actually attacked us but
a place that has good targets. (Rumsfeld famously wanted to go to
Iraq because Afghanistan didn't have any good targets.)

This administration is utterly insane.


The Mean Girls administration

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

In February of 2003, Joe Wilson went to Niger to verify information about a suspected link between Africa and Iraq - specifically, an agreement that Niger would provide uranium yellowcake to Iraq.

In his New York Times op-ed, Mr. Wilson tells that after meeting with various officians and people associated with the uranium business, he determined that no such transaction had ever taken place. Anyone wishing to purchase uranium would have had to go through a complicated process involving a consortium of nations. In addition, the U.S. Ambassador to Niger stated that she thought she had already debunked the Memorandum of Agreement that prompted Mr. Wilson's visit.

Mr. Wilson reporting his findings to the CIA when he returned from Niger.

The White House was instructed by the CIA that the links between Niger and Iraq were dubious. More than once. Nevertheless, in January of 2003, President Bush includes sixteen words in his State of the Union speech: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

By March of 2003, the documents that indicated the sale of uranium yellowcake were proven to be forgeries. Nevertheless, Bush took us to war against Iraq.

Mr. Wilson's op-ed was published on July 6, 2003. Within a week of the publication of Mr. Wilson's Op-ed, his wife Valerie Plame was outed as a covert CIA agent.

Tomorrow is the 3 year anniversary of the meeting at Downing Street that was recounted in the Downing Street Memo. Three years since Matthew Rycroft took minutes at a meeting between the U.S. and the U.K. to discuss Iraq.

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

It's not difficult to use common sense to put some pieces together. Prior to his Niger trip, Mr. Wilson was told that the Vice President's office was interested in finding out about the uraniaum. Mr. Wilson made his report. Despite Mr. Wilson's finding, and despite the U.N. inspectors reports that there were no WMDs, Bush took our military and sent them to war in Iraq.

Mr. Wilson came forward to tell how he thought the Bush administration was using debunked information when building his case for war. Based on Mr. Wilson's report, the White House knew that the "sixteen words" Bush used in the SOTU address was a lie.

What does the Bush administration do when someone crosses them? Ask Richard Clarke. Ask Paul O'Neill. They are the Mean Girls administration, sliming and smearing all who oppose them. They outed a covert CIA agent, an action that clearly hurts our national security, to get back at someone who was telling the truth about them.

They hurt our national security for political expediency. They lie to get a war. They must be stopped.


new to blogroll

I've just added Burb Rocking to the blogroll. It's not political, (yet), but it's a group blog my older sister started, and I'm a contributor, so I have to blogroll it. Plus, there are pictures, which I like but use sparingly myself (as you may have noticed).

John Roberts

Information on the nominee.

If he gets on the court, which is likely, we shouldn't be surprised
to see not just an end to legal abortion in the U.S., but an end to
legal contraception* and affirmative action. Bad news for American women and American minorities

*If Roberts is in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, who Bush calls
his "ideal", he does not believe the Constitution grants any right to
privacy, although what does Article IX do but say that the people have rights that are not enumerated within the Constitution. Since it is likely that Roberts is an "ideal" Bush jurist, he should be questioned strongly about not just his judicial decisions, which are limited as he's only been on the bench for two years, but whether he agrees with the expressed judicial opinions of Scalia and Thomas.

UPDATE: I took out some erroneous information. 20.9% of American women have abortions. That's still pretty significant, and you probably know someone who has had one. (If not, hi, nice to meet you, I had an abortion. There, now you know someone.) The Alan Guttmacher Institute is a fanstastic resource for information on reproductive issues, and that's where I got my updated information. Thanks to John Howard for making me take a second look at the numbers.



It's not Edith Clement Brown, after all. It's a smug looking bastard instead.

The nominee

Edith Clement Brown is the nominee for the opening on the Supreme Court. She doesn't seem to have rendered any opinions on many controversial subjects, which I suspect is why she was chosen.

I don't like her. She's a Republican, she's a Bush supporter, and a member of the Federalist Society. I don't trust people who support George Bush. IMO, if you support George Bush, that's evidence of a problem with your judgement.

ETA: maybe she's not the nominee...yet...but the rumor mill is swirling.


The human body is 70% water

Except for mine, which is about 20% water right now. The rest of the water that used to be inside my body came out in the form of sweat today, as Loki and I spent 5 hours (there and back) in our non-air conditioned car, in the about 3968% humidity air of New York. We passed by 2 boroughs as we drove on the NE Thruway and we couldn't see either one of them because of what appeared to be smog.

The good news is that Sio is winging her way across the Atlantic Ocean right now, and will be landing at Heathrow in about 3 hours or so. Although it will be 1am her time when she lands, she did have the foresight to spend the entire car ride asleep in the sweltering heat of the back seat. She's supposed to call me when she gets to Corfu, which should coincide with the time I am eating breakfast.

It's still damn hot and humid here in CT, and to add to the joy, I can smell a goddamn skunk right outside my kitchen window. I hate summer in New England.

On the road again

We're leaving in a few minutes to take Sio down to JFK. She'll be flying to London this evening, and tomorrow morning she'll be going to Greece. On Wednesday, she'll be taking a boat to Albania for an overnight stay. Then back to Corfu. They'll be taking day trips all over Greece while they're there.

When she goes back to London, she'll be staying with a friend of mine who is going to take her on a tour of University College London, which is Sio's first choice for college. After a few days with my friend, she'll be staying with family for the remainder of her trip.

Please think good thoughts for Sio on her travels, that she stays safe and has a great, life-changing in a good way time.


Gone swimming

I'll be at the beach for the rest of the day.


Seen and Read


Loki and I saw Batman Begins on Friday night. Christian Bale is an interesting actor, IMO. There is something reserved and tightly contained about him, but his character's emotions are not far from the surface. I felt enormously sympathetic towards his Bruce Wayne, and I didn't expect to feel so moved by a comic book movie.

Great things about the movie: In addition to Bale, Gary Oldman reminded me of what a fine actor he can be. Morgan Freeman doesn't even have to say anything to win the audience over - he is casting shorthand for "good guy".

Good things about the movie: Michael Caine was pretty good, although a little obvious in some of his delivery.

Not so great things: Tom Wilkinson was in the wrong Batman - his performance was jarringly kitschy in an otherwise realistically presented film. Katie Holmes made me really hope she and Bruce wouldn't get together. I couldn't take her baby-voiced self-righteousness seriously.

Things I haven't decided are good or bad yet: Cillian Murphy gave a fine performance, and he his limpid pools of blue are deeper than Elijah Wood's, but I had a hard time buying him as a prominent psychiatrist because he looks like he hasn't started shaving yet.

I recommend, primarily for Bale - he provides an emotional center to the story that I think previous Batman movies lacked.

(Something that made me wish for an alternate universe: imagine Christian Bale playing every big role Tom Cruise has ever played. Bale has intensity to rival the wee Clam, but so much more depth.)

(I was thinking that Freeman should play a bad guy, just to go against type, but then I remembered Nurse Betty, where he's a cold-blooded killer...who I still felt incredibly sympathetic towards. He just emanates warmth.)


I just finished reading Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. The violent faith in this book is the Church of Jesus Christ and Ladder Day Saints. Krakauer weaves the history of the Mormon faith together with a contemporary story of a brutal murder commmitted by Ron & Dan Lafferty, two members of the fundmentalist Mormon community. While Krakauer is careful to note that most Mormons are industrious, cheerful, and wholesome, he explores the history of the religion, which includes fraud, massacres and sexual abuse.

Krakauer's focus is on the fundamentalist Mormon community, which split with the main church when the latter denounced polygamy. There are fundamentalist communities in the United States, Canada and Mexico, which practice "plural marriage", sometimes marrying girls of 13 or 14 off to men who are not only generations older than them, but oftentimes related to them.

The Mormon faith believes that followers have a very personal relationship with God, and they consider themselves "prophets, seers and revelators". In the case of Ron Lafferty, he claims God revealed that he should "remove" his sister-in-law and other people who Lafferty believed encouraged his wife to leave him. He shared this "removal revelation" with members of his fundamentalist ward, yet no one attempted to stop him.

The courtroom scenes were particularly interesting to me. The defense attorney wanted his client deemed not guilty by reason of insanity. The prosecutor took the tack that millions of people believe in God, and perform rituals and practices that could be deemed insane when taken out of context (transubstantiation, anyone?). In addition, aside from his religious beliefs, which were way out of the mainstream, he wasn't at all insane - he had qualities of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but he wasn't schizophrenic or psychopathic. He followed the faith her learned from his family and community, and that faith led him to commit an act of extreme violence. Essentially, the prosecutor argued that if we were to believe that Ron was insane, we would necessarily have to deem any person of faith insane.

I recommend the book if you are interested in the topic of fundamentalism.

One Stop Shopping

There was a time when I started my blogging day by heading over to Daily Kos. But those days are gone. Now I head over to Shakespeare's Sister, and blog posts like this one are the reason why. She's a daily necessity, and if you aren't reading her, you should amend that immediately.


On Rove

I am loath to get too excited over the growing furor about Karl Rove - bags of scum are slippery, after all. He may well survive this.

And if Rove does resign or get fired because of the Plame leak, I don't think that means he is done playing a role for this White House. Even if he ends up in big trouble (of the prison variety), I don't think that would make the current administration shun him.

No, this has to be tied to the whole administration. It will not be satisfying to me if Rove gets frogmarched out of the White House only to continue his role from behind bars. I want this story to tie together with all the other scandals (OBL still free, no WMD, billions missing in Iraq, Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, DSM, etc.) to besmirch this whole foul administration. The cancer in this administration is not a tumor called Karl - the whole stinking body is riddled with the disease.


Music History

or the soundtrack of my life, inspired by a post at Pandagon.

1969-1976 - Country music, variety show acts, showtunes: Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, The Osmonds, Sonny & Cher, Bobby Vinton, the Jackson 5, soundtracks to the Wizard of Oz, Sesame Street, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp. Also Irish music - The Dubliners, The Savage Brothers, lots of people whose names I can't remember.

1977-1978 - I started choosing my own music, and even then, I mostly liked people I could sing along with - Billy Joel, The Beatles, The Kinks. I listen to certain David Bowie over and over again, writing the lyrics down until I've memorized them.

1979-1981 - I am obsessed with Led Zeppelin and The Who. I think Mick Jagger is sex on two legs even though I'm not quite sure what sex is. This somehow morphs into interest in Black Sabbath and other metal bands that I can't quite remember the names of.

1981-1983 - Somewhere in there, my older sister and I saw David Byrne on TV, and we were hooked - Talking Heads and the B-52's. I don't understand why everyone likes the new version of Michael Jackson, when it was clear to me that he wasn't singing anymore, just making noise.

1983-1984 - my Duran Duran years. My best friend in Jr. High also introduced me to Prince and Parliament. I loved Midnight Oil. Also listened to The Thompson Twins, Eurythmics, U2. I resist all things related to Madonna, but I am fond of Weird Al.

1984-1986 - Teenage angst - yes, I listened to The Cure. My cousin moved back to the U.S. from Ireland and got us hooked on The Jam. I start listening to punk - Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, PiL, Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, Black Flag, etc.

1986 - I spend the summer at the Center for Creative Youth and become obsessed with Bob Dylan.

1987 - my senior year of high school. The Violent Femmes, Frank Zappa, still listening to punk and Dylan.

1988-1989 - I introduce my new boyfriend, who loves Styx, to good music. He is so grateful that he knocks me up *and* marries me.

1989-1996 - Loki will refer to these as the dark years. Showtunes, showtunes, showtunes. I listen to every Stephen Sondheim show over and over again. Sio knows all the words to Black Boys from Hair. March of the Falsettos, Ain't Misbehavin', Little Shop of Horrors, Ruthless! the Musical, etc., etc., etc. I also listen to lots of k.d. lang and Tori Amos. I get interested in traditional Irish music and start listening to The Chieftains and Cherish the Ladies.

1997 - the year Monkey was born. I don't know if I listened to anything while she was getting tested for every disease under the sun because she wouldn't gain any weight.

1998-present. Fairly eclectic. I still listen to almost everything listed above. Ben Folds, Nellie McKay, Outkast, Marvin Gaye, White Stripes, Incubus, Stevie Wonder, I could go on.

If I'm quiet today

It's because I'm making arrangements for Sio to stay with various friends and family members when she goes to London in a couple of weeks. She'll be there for 6 days, she's planning on touring UCL with my friend who works there on the 28th or 29th, and then she's on her own as far as plans. She's done a bunch of touristy things there before - museums, the Eye, etc., but I'm sure she's keen for suggestions, so if you have any, please leave them in the comments.

BTW, just to show you how lucky this kid is, she's going to Greece before she goes to London. Yeah, we could have used the money spent on this trip (less than $1K) to fix up stuff around the house, or as a downpayment on a new car, but I'm a more grasshopper than ant.


My London

My first trip to London was in 1988, the year I got pregnant, got married, and dropped out of college. I went to England and Scotland on tour with my college Madrigal Choir and Orchestra - we were a 16 voice choir and a 20+ seat orchestra, performing songs by Vivaldi, Aaron Copeland, Benjamin Britten and Brahms, among others. We traveled north and then swung back around to spend the last 4 days of our trip in London. We stayed in a hotel that was rather fleabaggy, but was a short walk to the Paddington station, and that wonderful tube opens up the whole city for you.

I have a couple of indelible memories from that first trip - I learned how to play poker in London, and I got my first legal buzz in a nightclub somewhere near the Piccadilly Circus station. Our first night in London, we went to see 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theater. After the show, we were walking by a rowdy pub and saw a dwarf get tossed through a window.

Our last day in London, we had a concert scheduled at the Royal Festival Hall. The weather during our trip had been almost miraculous - 10 days of sunshine as we traveled around England, our only wet day occurred on a day long stopover in Windemere, a rest stop before we pushed through to Fife, Scotland. This last day, the sky was threatening rain all morning. By the time we arrived at the RFH, the sky was done threatening and let loose a torrent. We set up the Orchestra and warmed up our voices. We were all feeling blue that our trip was nearly over, but we put our sadness aside to focus on the music.

The last number we performed at that concert was a rousing gospel song (which I can't quite remember the name of, which is going to drive me nuts). As we sang the words (that are on the tip of my tongue but not quite there yet), the clouds parted, the sun came shining through the rain, and I swear to all the powers of the universe that a rainbow appeared over the Royal Festival Hall.

My second trip to London was quite different. Loki, Sio, Monkey and I went to England during February vacation in 2003, just a few weeks before Bush officially launched the Iraq invasion. We initially were going to tell people we were Canadian, but we didn't, and we ended up having some wonderful conversations with folks we met all over the country about Bush and the war and how many Americans were still sane.

That vacation started in London - we stayed at the County Hall Travel Inn, just across the river from Big Ben and a quick walk to the London Eye. We were only there for an overnight, and then we rented a car and drove all over the place. We went to Stonehenge, Bath, Glastonbury, and after 4 days we made our way back to London to visit with my family. We were going to stay at the County Hall Travel Inn again, but my cousin Eileen and her husband Mick insisted we stay with them.

Although I'm only first generation American, I have a lot of Yankee in my personality, and I am sometimes standoffish around people I don't know well. This was the first time I met Eileen and Mick, and we clicked like we had grown up together. We stayed with them for 4 days, 4 days of Mick's whistlestop tour of *his* London, a city for which his love was boundless and contagious. 4 days of staying up until 2 in the morning laughing and talking and singing. I went to England to visit museums and see the sights, and instead I had the best time of my life sitting with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits in a kitchen in Winchmore Hill.


If I seem quiet

It's because my blogging muse has done and left me. Meanwhile, my fiction muse is working overtime, so I've been working on a couple of short stories. One is about a Martha Stewart type whose "to-do" list includes murder; another is about a future where Oprah is the Goddess of the most prominent religion. If I decide they are worth finishing, I'll post some excerpts at some point.

In the meantime: there is no one who makes me want to believe in Hell more than Karl Rove makes me want to believe in Hell. The idea of him roasting for all eternity makes me feel so happy and peaceful inside. The fact that people like Rove aren't smited down on a routine basis is evidence against the existance of God.



Amanda at Pandagon, riffing off an article on Salon, was writing about feminism this morning, and her post reminded me of the first time I encounted a negative reaction to the word feminist.

My older sister tells people that I was a born feminist. Like most children, I was exquisitely aware of what was fair and what wasn't, and I could see that girls were treated unfairly as plain as the nose on my face - we couldn't play baseball, we couldn't play football, we had to wear shirts no matter how freaking hot it was outside, we were admonished as unladylike when we climbed trees or caught snakes or did any of the things that I, as a young tomboy, thought of as fun.

I remember my temper rising in CCD as we learned about Adam and Eve - how dare the church pass off this ridiculous story as being truth? Women have the babies, so they had to come first - it seemed obvious to me that Adam must have had a mother, he had a bellybutton just like the rest of us - and I knew how we got our bellybuttons, so I was not impressed by the supposed Word of God.

Anyway, I identified strongly with the concept of feminism, because it's common sense - if everyone doesn't have equality, then no one has equality.

When Sio was a year old, I got a job at a newspaper. I worked in Classified advertising with a bunch of women - the supervisor, also named Maureen, who was an older woman who raised 5 kids by herself when her husband died from an allergic reaction to an anesthetic when he went in the hospital for surgery; Judy, who was raising 2 kids by herself because her ex-husband was in jail; Ethel, a Norwegian woman who was devoutly Christian and always looked like a million bucks; Cheryl, who was kind of ditzy and couldn't quit smoking even after she had part of one cancerous lung removed; and Sue, who was married to the mayor of the town and worked part-time now that her children were grown and out of the house.

These women were all really lovely to work with, and we had a lot of fun as we worked. Maureen was a tough old broad on the outside, but was absolute marshmellow on the inside, and since we shared both a name and a birthdate, she took an instant liking to me.

One day we got on the subject of feminism, and I was shocked to hear Ethel and Sue speak so negatively about feminists. "But you're women!" I said. "That's like saying you're against yourself!"

Sue said I was too young to understand. "The feminists were just really radical," she said.

"Well, I think they'd have to be," I said. "Look at how long it took for women to get the right to vote. You need radical people to get the ball rolling! Should Maureen make .30 cents less than a man in her position, just because she's a woman?"

"Hell, no!" Maureen said.

Sue didn't like confrontation, particularly not with the supervisor, so that was the end of the conversation. Her husband, the mayor, turned out to be a crook, so she ended up getting divorced from him a few years later. I wonder if she ever thought back to our conversation as she tried to recover her life after a divorce that cost them everything?

I don't want to go back!

Loki and I had such a lovely weekend - hanging around the bookstore, going to the beach, taking the ferry to Block Island...I'm not ready to get back into normal life again!


Light Posting

Despite the potential deliciousness of Karl Rove getting frogmarched, there will continue to be light posting through the next 2 days. My excuse: it's in the low 80's and sunny, with a beautiful breeze and low humidity. That weather combination happening on a holiday weekend when for all intents and purposes Loki and I are childless is too good to pass up.


Ode to a Goldfish

I won't speak of justices leaving the bench
or whether the new guy will be bad or a mensch
I can't talk of justice deferred or denied
For Fiona, the calico goldfish, has died.

For nearly six years, she lived in a bowl
with green pebbles and plants and a shell that we stole
from Bahamian beaches, in sunnier climes
Where we traveled with family in money-er times

She almost died twice while under our care
Fi floating on top of the water did scare,
but a call to the vet fixed her problem with ease
We relieved her "fish gas" with beans and with peas.

For six years her bowl sat near our kitchen sink
The cats left her, (tho from her bowl they would drink)
There will be sorrow and tears will be shed,
For Fiona, the calico goldfish is dead.

RIP, Fiona (Oct. 1999-June 2005)