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December 31, 2013

All Kinds of Kinds

Something I was always told when I was growing up was, "God answers all prayers. Sometimes he says, 'No.'" I guess it would be more appropriate with this story to say, "Sometimes God says, "Hey, isn't that interesting over there?" to invite you to read more of this aricle.

"Happenstance often has a way of turning a life upside down -- and so it was with Colleen Mason.

To understand her story, it's probably best to tell it that way -- upside down, starting with the moral, which might go something like this: When your voice is silenced, keep your spirit singing -- one day it will find its voice again.

[snip]

'I grew up singing -- everywhere and all the time,' the 32-year-old mother of three said, deftly alternating young daughters on her lap in their modest Bourbonnais, Ill., apartment. 'My grandfather was a singer on a local California TV and radio station. My mom sings and plays the piano, and I was always in the choir and in shows in high school.

'And being who you are is the loudest voice you will ever have.'

'I just thought, 'Why would I do anything else?'

[snip]

'February 12, 1999,' Colleen said, 'It was my senior year of high school. I was in the traveling choir, in a car with three others and we were on our way to sing in Reddick, Ill.,' a tiny village of just a couple of hundred people not far from Colleen's hometown.

'We hit black ice,' she said. The rest is a blur."

Please read the rest. It's an inspiring reminder about the adage of closed doors and opened windows.
Have a blessed New Year, villainry.
May the best of your past.
Be the worst of your future.
*lifts beer*
Cheers from the Dark side,
DL Sly

Posted by DL Sly at 09:30 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 30, 2013

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Compliments!

Interesting quote from an article about why men don't generally welcome comments on their appearance:

In wanting to be praised for his looks, it would appear my date falls into a minority, according to one 1990 study by researchers at SUNY Binghamton and the University of the Witwatersrand, which concluded that compliments from men were generally accepted, especially by female recipients, but "compliments from women are met with a response type other than acceptance": as a threat.

Men often see compliments as "face-threatening acts," or acts intended to embarrass or patronize, the study authors found. What was meant as a nicety could be seen as a way to assert control.

Funny - that's pretty much the feminist take (one we never understood or agreed with, by the way, but it seems more than a little ironic that men appear to interpret compliments on their appearance in exactly the same way feminists do). Must make way more sense when men do it :p

We've been known to compliment men we know on their appearance, but such remarks generally take the form of something like, "That suit/tie looks especially nice on you", or "New beard/haircut! I like it/you look nice!".

It's pretty alarming to think that fairly innocuous remarks like that would be seen as hitting on another person, but I suppose the delivery and context may have some influence on how they're perceived. For whatever it may be worth, we've generally gotten a pretty good response though it has sometimes been clear that the recipient was a little surprised.

It's exactly the same kind of thing we'd say to a female co-worker, though. How do people know when an outfit or hair cut looks nice if everyone's afraid to say so?

Posted by Cassandra at 08:42 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Coffee Snorters, Slim Pickens Edition

During the Worst RepubliMan Caused Disaster Depression, Like... Ever..., mugger can't be bothered to steal cell phone that doesn't have all the latest features:

Picky, picky, picky.

A gun-toting mugger in Central Park was so disappointed by his victim’s cheap flip phone that he handed it back.

“Once he saw my phone, he looked at it like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ and gave it back to me,” recalled Kevin Cook, 25, of Brooklyn.

“It’s like a 3-year-old generation Windows phone,” said Cook, a New York Sports Club salesman who was walking with a pal near the West Drive in the 60s at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

“I guess he didn’t think he could get anything for it,” Cooke added. “It’s kind of humorous.”

The gunman, who threatened to kill Cooke and his friend, was wearing a dark-green winter coat and blue jeans. His accomplice wore his long black hair in a ponytail. Both fled before cops could catch up to them.

The depths of human desperation on display here are hard to fathom.

Busted!!!

busted.jpg

Elephants munching Christmas trees.

The Editorial Staff found this extremely diverting:

Consider the percentages of the following groups thinking that gay sex is always wrong:

54% of those born in the 1940-1950 period,
65% of those from the East South Central region of the country,
77% of those believing that the Bible is the literal word of God,
72% of protestant fundamentalists, and
51% of males.

Other groups in which a majority believe that gay sex is always wrong include:

52% of male Democrats,
60% of male Republicans, and
63% of African Americans, including 58% of African-American females.

Kinda undermines the "OMG HIS BELIEFS ARE SO OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM!!!11!" mantra, doesn't it? The Editorial Staff are always somewhat bemused by the suggestion that holding an opinion that's supposedly "outside the mainstream" means that opinion should be discredited or even censored before it kills us all. It's also somewhat amusing that African-Americans, whose life experiences (according to progressive dogma) should uniquely position them to stand up for the civil rights of other Oppressed Groups, are among the most judgmental.

Patterico pokes fun (pun fully intended) at Eliot Spitzer.

Dear Lord, make it stop:


A good woman is "hard to find. Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry 'em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, they only picking that's going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they're 15 or 16, they'll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course."

And perhaps a judge, if you live in Louisiana.
Lovely sentiment - kind of brings a tear to the eye.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:38 AM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

December 29, 2013

Lesson for the Day

How To Catch A Cat.jpg

Thus endeth the lesson for the day.
0>;~}

Posted by DL Sly at 02:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

All Kinds of Kinds

A few items to help keep alive that feeling of goodwill towards men that Christmas brings. First up, a brother who defines brotherly love and the honoring a promise made:

"While a lot of us woke up Thursday morning to head back to work, or to the malls for Christmas returns, Seth Collins was hitting the road on what could be the final leg of an 18-month feel-good mission of brotherly love.

Waiters and waitresses, rejoice. It's what Seth's kid brother, Aaron, wanted.

In fact, it was his last wish.

'Leave an awesome tip (and I don't mean 25%, I mean $500 on an f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress,' Aaron wrote in his will. He was only 30 when he died on July 7, 2012.

[snip]

But why a $500 tip?

'Aaron's at Buffalo Wild Wings and gets a waitress who it's her first night on the job, guys are drinking and yelling, and she's getting orders all wrong... she did EVERYTHING wrong and told Aaron she was gonna quit.'

'When Aaron got the bill -- and remember, he didn't make a lot of money -- he left her a $50 tip, and wrote on the check, 'Don't give up.'

'Immediately, you could see, her attitude changed and Aaron thought, 'Imagine what a $500 tip could do.'"

Well done, Seth. You honor your brother as well as yourself and your parents with your determination to keep a promise.

Next is a story of fatherly love and sacrifice:

"She was only five months old, but little Jazlyn Camargo of Bridgeport, Ill., was in need of something far too few people are able to find: an organ transplant.

[snip]

Both of her parents were possible organ matches, but her father, Eduardo Camargo, insisted he undergo the surgery to save his daughter.

'Right away I said it had to be me and not my wife,' he told ABC News. 'I have two other daughters, and they need a mother more than they need a father.

But Camargo soon encountered a heart-breaking reality: Doctors discovered the 210-pound, 35-year-old man showed signs of fatty liver disease, indicated by having more than 10 percent fat in his liver. He could not safely serve as an organ donor unless he dropped body and liver fat.

So with the clock ticking, Camargo raced to lose the weight needed to save his baby daughter."

Please, go read the rest of this wonderful story. Fair warning for those with *allergies*, grab a kleenex.

Posted by DL Sly at 02:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 28, 2013

Didn't See That Comin'....

Apparently, it's not warm enough in Florida?

"Florida, despite its Sunshine State nickname, boasts more indoor tanning facilities than CVS pharmacies or even McDonald’s restaurants, according to a new report by University of Miami doctors studying whether skin cancer can be traced to geographic areas."

However, that last does seem to be a strong corollary.

Posted by DL Sly at 02:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ode to The Red Shirts

16.JPG

An ode to Away Team security;
Those single-serving sailors of space.
Rarely a line do they utter,
Mostly a groan or a mutter,
With their Captain they must stay apace.

Always the first to die on a mission,
They're the caged canaries in the cave.
Disruptor beams, mosquito bites,
Lightning striking just right.
They're either most unlucky or most brave.

An Away team mission without red shirts?
Bite your Trek-tratorious tongue in twain!
Ask any in the know,
Get a name in the show,
And a blue or gold shirt you'll attain.

Posted by DL Sly at 12:22 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Unexpectedly!!!

At last, our long national nightmare is over:

Less than two weeks after his anti-gay remarks prompted an “indefinite hiatus” for the reality patriarch — and a strong fan backlash — the network says he will remain on the series.

...and since he didn’t miss any filming, his temporary suspension will have no effect on the upcoming fifth season.

No one got fired, no one was forcibly re-educated, the forces of totalitarianism did not triumph.

On the other hand, GLAAD is "reeling from the biggest backlash in years":

“In the five-and-a-half years I’ve worked at GLAAD, I’ve never received so many violently angry phone calls and social media posts attacking GLAAD for us speaking out against these comments,” the media watchdog organization’s vice president of communications Rich Ferraro told TheWrap.

He said those reactions range from those who simply believe as Robertson believes to those who feel that GLAAD and A&E’s actions limit the reality star’s free speech.

It's almost as though this whole opposing speech thing works just fine.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Found! UPDATED!

It took a little toe-flattening gentle persuasion, but the Dark Lord managed to aquire an early picture of the Blog Princess in what appears to be a formative moment in her young life....
Blog Princess the early years.png

bwaaahaahaahaaaaaa
0>;~}

UPDATE:

My source has recovered consciousness just contacted me with yet another recently discovered picture. This one apparently was taken right after she had gotten her license. I'm sure her parent's will be pleased to finally know what happened to the dog...

I said whoa not go.png

*snnnicker*

UPDATE II:

I think I've about bled exhausted my source completely, but there was one more picture to gained from the effort. This, it is my understanding, comes from that day of bliss where the Blog Princess was the star of the day, the light in his eyes,...

Save the groom.png

Well, okay, apparently, there was a dissenting opinion amongst his buddies. But, hey!, what do they know?

Posted by DL Sly at 12:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 27, 2013

Let the Judgement Begin - 2013...2014 SSDY Edition

Well, spd grabbed the brass ring right out of the box last week. What else can I say but, congrats and on to old business:

spd's "...and thanks for not leting his mom findout what happened to the roast beef last Sunday." was indeed prime, and for that he claims first place. However he raised the intimidation factor to the level where only three other people proferred an answer. (Lawyer, go fig, huh?)

Don Brouhaha took a shot, though (with what shirley seems to be the only thought in my dog's head), and takes second for "Tennis ball. Tennis ball. Tennis ball......"

No third prize this week as there weren't enough comments to warrant one. No worries, though. There's a new contest every week. (or so...)
Speaking of which...

To new business!

17.JPG

Have at it, villains.
May the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 11:32 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Do As We Say, Not As We Do...

...say the brave defenders of free speech (even when it offends someone!):

Sarah Palin's PAC praises NBC for suspending Alec Baldwin and demands to know when and how NBC will punish Martin Bashir for offensive speech:

After applauding the network's decision to suspend Alec Baldwin over his anti-gay slur, Crawford's letter asks: "We would now like to know what disciplinary measures you are taking about Martin Bashir’s appalling statement on his MSNBC show last Friday ...

"You fired Don Imus for offensive language in describing the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball team, you suspended Alec Baldwin, and yet nothing has happened to Mr. Bashir," the letter reads. "Are we to assume then, that disciplinary procedures at your network take place based on the target of the remarks rather than the remarks themselves?"

Conservatives call on Fox to fire Shepard Smith for offending them.

John Hawkins and 25 leading conservatives call for Capitol One to fire Alec Baldwin for offensive speech.

Mark Levin calls for the firing of Al Sharpton for offensive speech.

Conservative group Campus Reform calls for firing of liberal prof for offensive speech.

This one really pains me, as I think both these sites perform an invaluable service. Newsbusters, a conservative site affiliated with the deeply conservative Media Research Center, appears to have no free speech objections to the Catholic League's calls for Bill Maher to be fired for offensive speech.

Hot Air blogger appears to have no free speech objection to the possible suspension/possible resignation of Martin Bashir for the crime of offending others with his speech.

Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words:

irony.jpg

So here's an inflammatory debate question for the assembled villainry. By the logic expressed here, shouldn't every single one of these conservatives who have openly called for, applauded, or condoned calls for various people to be fired for offensive speech be subjected to the very same treatment? Shouldn't we all be calling for them to be fired?

Why shouldn't social pressures be brought to bear against social pressures in the same way? If a group attempts to use social pressure to get someone fired for saying things they find objectionable, shouldn't those people themselves be pursued (and their employers subject to demands that they be fired at once)?

That sounds like a pretty unpleasant place to live. Those calling for civility are doubtless thinking of that. I wonder if the proper analogy, though, isn't to nuclear war. Mutually-Assured Destruction proved an effective restraint, just because a post-war world would have been such an unpleasant place to live.

In the current moment we see not only organizations but ad-hoc movements engaged in a sort of blood-lust, in love with the unrestrained power to destroy. There is no legal recourse against them, because the government only properly restrains the government. It is society that must restrain society.

I yield to none in my respect for courtesy. Certainly I have no desire to live in the kind of world in which our every expression is carefully watched by our ideological enemies in the hope that some public expression of religion, some joke, some interview should produce an opportunity to destroy our lives.

There are only two roads to avoid that world, though, and the first road is to avoid all public expressions of religion, all jokes, or the giving of interviews. The other is to make clear that this is a two-way street, if they insist upon it.

The supposed deterrent effect of calling for people to be fired in the name of free speech does not appear to have had much of a deterrent effect to this writer. But even if it did, would that be the right thing to do?

I said pretty much everything I have to say on this issue over 5 years ago:

Conservatives - and especially conservatives online - need to think about what kind of world it is we want to live in. If what we want is a bare knuckle free for all where personal attacks are not only condoned but applauded (but only so long as the attacker is firmly on "our side"), that's one thing. But if we want to have any credibility when we object to our opponents treating conservatives and their families with contempt and derision, we might want to consider actually practicing what we preach.

We might want to consider not calling women who dare to voice opinions we disagree with sluts and whores; to consider speaking up when some on our own side forget themselves.

We might want to take a long, hard (heh... she said 'long and hard') look in the mirror, because our online community - any community - is what we decide to make it. Standing up for civility is not political correctness and it's not wimpy. In fact, there's quite a bit of evidence for the proposition that there are times when taking offense plays an essential part in maintaining a well ordered society:

You could say our lives as social beings are ruled by the three R's: respect—the sense that proper deference has been paid to our status, reputation—the carefully maintained perception of our qualities, and reciprocity—the belief that our actions are responded to fairly. ...Being on the alert for scoundrels is exhausting, and confronting those who violate social rules is potentially dangerous. But humans feel compelled to do it because without vigilance, fairness and cooperation break down. Gazzaniga cites experiments that show that individuals who take the risk of punishing cheaters enhance their own reputation within a group. (Here's a real-life example.)

Humans' sense of indignation is not just limited to violations against us. Even if you're able-bodied, think of how offended you feel when you see another able-bodied person pull into a handicapped parking spot. Most of us will just walk on, quietly irate, but a few will yell at the driver. These moral enforcers are vital to society. Frans de Waal writes that experiments with macaques show that if you remove the individuals who perform this policing function, hostilities increase among the entire band.

Perhaps this is why, unlike Jules, I was encouraged by Ed Whelan's decision to apologize for outing Publius. I was encouraged because whatever one thinks of his actions up until that moment, Ed Whelen did the right thing. He acted the way I expect a conservative to act. He elevated what was right over what was personally expedient.

And that took enormous courage, because in so doing he had to admit that he was wrong. That takes integrity, a quality I see all too rarely on our side of the blogosphere these days.

Ed Whelan made me proud to be a conservative.

His actions, and those of conservatives who urged him to do the right thing, gave me hope that perhaps we do stand for something after all. They gave me hope because if conservatives continue to condone the substitution of personal attacks for civil discourse when it suits our purposes, there will be no place for people like me on the Internet. They will be driven away and the only voices left will be the ones who enjoy shouting and feces flinging. The conservative side of the blogosphere will be blissfully free of dissent or thoughtful discussion. We'll become the echo chamber the Left makes us out to be: a place where only those willing to defend and agree with the tribe are heard.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:35 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack

December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

The mountains are draped, fields in the valley glisten, and the rivers and lakes lay hidden beneath layers of ice and snow. Winter has come to the mountains of western Montana bringing with it the season of love and hope when family and friends come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It's not, however, a day of redistributing riches, as some secular souls would have you believe.
No, today is a day to stop.
And focus.
On the reason for the season.
To celebrate His birth.
And make a joyful noise.

Merry Christmas, villans. May you have a blessed day.

Posted by DL Sly at 12:00 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 23, 2013

Pretty Accurate

From a NYT quiz based on a linguistic study. Based on your responses to a series of questions, the quiz shows you the cities that most closely map the way you talk:

language_map.png

Growing up, the blog princess spent the most time in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/Connecticut area until we moved to the DC area in the early seventies.

Also, this amused our reverse side away extremely.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:08 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

We Feel This Way Just Reading the News, Some Days

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December 20, 2013

Let the Judgement Begin - Christmas Edition

So, only five more days until Christmas. Even though the VES has reached teenagehood, we can still manage to create enough suspense under the tree to have her picking up presents and shaking them in utter frustration.
heh
Now, though, to old business:

In first place, right outta the box, is Don Brouhaha with, "The 9th Circuit Court decides another case."

Second place goes to CAPT Mike for the best of his "ballot stuffing" entries, "Jay Carney, Hillary Clinton & Obama describing the Benghazi debacle."

And last, but certainly not least, coming in third is spd for "The smartest guys in the room."

Special note is made of CAPT Mike's virtuoso impersonation of an Ohio Democrat voter. (I was going to say New Jersey but then I realized they're usually dead.)
0>;~}

And now, to new business!

Christmas is comin'....
Prayin' Pals.png
Have at it, peoples.
May the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 06:14 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Important Military Purge Update

The blog princess has written a few times about grossly inaccurate and misleading reports that the Obama White House, when not micromanaging the design of Marine headgear, is "purging" the military in a manner reminiscent of Stalinist Russia. Whilst perusing the day's news, the princess ran across the horrifying details of one such politically motivated "purge":

An Airforce general in charge of nuclear missiles was sacked because he got so drunk on a delegation to Russia that he bragged of the 'hot women' he had met, boasted of saving the world... and tried to 'fist bump' a guide during a tour of a monastery. Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was removed as chief of the 20th Air Force Global Strike Command, based in Wyoming and responsible for 450 ballistic missiles at three bases across the country, in October. And today it emerged he was relieved of his duties for a catalogue of misdemeanors while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear security training exercise in Russia in mid-July.

...An investigation into his behaviour said Carey was frequently rude to his Russian hosts and others, and that he associated with foreign national women whom he acknowledged were 'suspect.'
During a stopover in Switzerland, the report reveals, he bragged loudly about his position as commander of a nuclear force, saying he 'saves the world from war every day.'

Upon his arrival in Moscow he and an unidentified man were seen visiting a nearby hotel to meet 'two foreign national women' not to return to his Marriott hotel room until the early hours of the next day.

It meant he was 45 minutes late for in joining the delegation to the Moscow suburb of Sergiyev Posad. He blamed his lateness on jet lag, saying his body clock was out of sync.

He then drank so heavily at an official lunch that afternoon that he began talking loudly about sensitive issues including NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the civil war in Syria.

We are outraged.... OUTRAGED that this man should have been fired for absolutely NO reason other than partisan political gamesmanship.

When such jackbooted oppression becomes the norm, can similar "purges" of the Secret Service be far behind? Heaven forfend!

Posted by Cassandra at 07:16 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Smart Power Alert, Extreme Hardship Edition

Sacre bleu! So, this cannot be!

This month, Barack Obama gave a speech vowing to make curbing income and wealth inequality a top priority for the remainder of his time in office. He better get to work. As of 2011, he was headed in the opposite direction.

New data is out from the IRS, showing the share of federal income taxes paid by those in each economic strata. Bruce Bartlett points out that the richest Americans have seen their share of taxes declining rather significantly under Obama. Specifically, the richest 1% paid 37.5% of taxes in (recession-damaged) 2008; in 2011, their share was down to 35%. (Their share peaked in 2007, during the boom times—and the Bush administration.) The top 5% of earners also saw their share of taxes decline by a similar margin. So, under the first three years of the Obama administration, the very rich saw their share of taxes go down.

It's almost as though The Smartest President Evah is making this whole inequality thing worse instead of better! Quote of the day (from Ezra Klein, no less!):

1. The individual mandate includes a "hardship exemption." People who qualify can either ignore the individual mandate altogether or purchase a cheap, bare-bones catastrophic insurance plan that's typically only available to people under 30.

2. According to HHS, the exemption covers people who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan."

3. Today, the administration agreed with a group of senators, led by Mark Warner of Virginia, who argued that having your insurance plan canceled counted as "an unexpected natural or human-caused event." For these people, in other words, Obamacare itself is the hardship.

There's a pleasing circularity to this last observation. It takes real talent to create a law that - in turn - creates a hardship that is then used to circumvent the law that caused the problem in the first place.

Thank Goddess the Smart Folks are finally in charge. Otherwise, we really don't know what we'd do with our time....

Posted by Cassandra at 06:55 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 19, 2013

Christmas Eve with Bob Welsh

Posted by DL Sly at 05:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dinner at Casa Cassandranitanova

We're easy to please here on the Dark Side - steak, potato, salad, bread and beer. The Princess, though, is considerably more high-fallutin'...

Posted by DL Sly at 05:01 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Platonic Friendships

Grim has tempted me to bloviate with this post about men who have numerous friends of the opposite sex:

Via Thought Cloud, I learned that it's problematic for a man to have too many female friends.

But the author of the linked post doesn't actually seem to be complaining that her new boyfriend has female friends. She admits having male friends herself. Her summarized concerns seem pretty valid to this happily married woman: the problem seems to be more with the nature of the friendships than the fact that they exist. To hear her tell it (and we have only her word for this), when her boyfriend's with her, he's not really "with her":

He’s constantly texting these people and returning their phone calls when it’s like, “Hello, I’m right here.” Mind you, he never does any of this behind my back- it’s always right in front of me. Sometimes, I wish that it would be done when I’m not there because you know, ignorance is bliss.

And, though he thinks there's nothing wrong with his having female friends, he's not fine with her having male friends:

Personally, I know if roles were reversed, he’d have my head. He already hates the idea that I have male friends to begin with and he claims that they’re all trying to flirt with me. Really?

But wait! There's more insanity where this came from:

I don’t have a problem with most of those girls that he’s constantly talking to. They seem pretty cool and most of them seem to respect our relationship. Operative word being most. When some of them are calling at midnight wondering where he is, they’re taking it way too far.

One of the rewards of an exclusive romantic relationship is that the person you're involved with is supposed to occupy a special place in your life. Why limit your options and give up your freedom for a lover/husband/boyfriend who considers you no less (but no more) important than everyone else in his life? There's a reason these lines are so often read during marriage ceremonies:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother,
and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

That "one flesh" thing is intended to be limiting. Then there's that bit about forsaking all others and keeping only unto your spouse. That doesn't only apply to people of the opposite sex - it also applies to parents, friends of your own sex, our own children, and a whole array of other people and things that can and will (if you fail to put your spouse first) eventually come between you.

I dated my husband for only two months before we both went away to college. For the next two years, we were in a long distance relationship. We lived apart for nearly a year right after getting married. Then he joined the Marines and we spent even more time apart - four 1 year unaccompanied tours and countless shorter deployments and field exercises. So the blog princess could hardly be called a clinging vine. But if I ever got the idea that I was no longer number one in his life, I'd be gone so fast it would make his head spin. And I suspect the same is true for him.

The expectation of exclusivity - that no one is more important to your husband or wife than you are - is what makes marriage so special. The reciprocal agreement to put your partner first in your life really the only thing that makes all that sacrifice worth it.

Grim writes:

Is this right? When I was a boy, my elementary school did something that was at the time actually illegal: it took our standardized test scores on reading and used them to sort us into levels. We had an "advanced" class, a "medium" class, and a slow class (which wasn't given a name). Now girls mature faster than boys, especially in terms of academic work, so as a consequence I spent my formative years in a class with 26 girls and 4 boys, of whom I was one. Since we were sorted alphabetically, I was perforce surrounded by girls all the time except at recess.

Was this really illegal? Tracking was the norm when I was in school, and standardized testing was how it was accomplished. Of course these days, such horrid Othering of Boys by feminized public schools is simply not tolerated :p

And yes, I'm yanking Grim's chain because he does it to me all the time. Also, it's just plain fun. The part of his post that I love is this:

From my perspective this has always meant that I learned early how to like and talk to girls, which has been a tremendous benefit. It turns out (boys, I am talking to you here) that girls are interesting, and have markedly different perspectives on life. If you're curious about big-T Truth, it's good to hear what other people with different perspectives have to say. If you're not interested in big-T Truth, you should rethink your life. As Aristotle rightly suggests, the contemplative life is one of the best ones available for our limited time here on Earth.

The same is true for women: we gain so much by talking to the men in our lives; by trying to understand them and allowing them to glimpse the world through their eyes, however imperfectly.

I understand Grim's point about learning to live with temptation, but people are weaker than we like to let on and marriage lasts a long time. That's why character is so important, whether we're talking about a man choosing a woman or a woman choosing the right man. It concerns me that we seem to have so little appreciation for the dangers of walking too close to the edge.

In the ancient legend of Tristan and Iseult, there is a wonderful image of the lovers sleeping in the wood with a drawn sword between them. I've always thought that a good metaphor for friends of the opposite sex: there should be a carefully drawn line that may not be crossed because the danger is real. Something in our polar opposites calls to us. A mother feels a special tenderness for her sons and a father for his daughters. And the male-female friendships I've known have been qualitatively different from friendships with other women. Perhaps this isn't common to everyone, but it seems sensible to me.

The trick is not to deny the danger, but to keep it always in mind. We are, after all, only human.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:11 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 18, 2013

A Trip in the Wayback Machine

I'm sorry for the dearth of posts lately.

I've been consumed with Christmas and deadlines at work and a dull sense of hopelessness about the worth of this whole experiment called blogging. Back in 2004, the blog princess was urged by a certain Colorado Cat to stop snarking about in the comments section of ScrappleFace and develop her thoughts more fully. Shortly thereafter, another fellow Scrappler - Joatmoaf - asked the princess to fill in for him on his new blog.

I never thought it would last. One by one I've watched my friends' blogs snuffed out like candles. There's a melodramatic and self pitying aging metaphor in there somewhere :p

God, I miss them.

I wonder how many posts I've written over the last 10 years? There are almost 3000 remaining here. A few thousand didn't survive my serial attempts to walk away from blogging. They're archived somewhere on an old laptop - something the spousal unit made me promise to do in case I ever decided to write a book.

There were somewhere around 1000-1500 over at Jet Noise. I'm guessing the total is somewhere around 5000, not that this matters.

Years ago, if I had been asked to describe what I thought I was offering up in my random musings, I might have said an abiding faith. Or conviction. Or love for the things I hold dearest. Or perhaps simply a belief that we can make a difference in life if we're willing to put ourselves out there and take risks and trust that the basic decency of our fellow hominids has more than a fighting chance against the cynicism and ugliness we wade through every day.

I'm reading an interesting novel. It's about a woman who falls and hits her head. When she wakes up, she can't recall the last decade of her life; a decade in which she bore three children and filed for divorce from her husband. She quite literally doesn't recognize herself - doesn't know how she got where she (apparently) is today. Doesn't remember how hope was slowly replaced with a lingering sense of disappointment; love with anger; trust with guardedness.

The "how" is still shrouded in fog. I haven't gotten that far. But the "why" seems pretty obvious to me already. Maybe I'm just projecting my own silly worries onto a fictional character I don't even like very much, but the thread running through all the changes in these characters seems to be that somehow, they all stopped focusing on the immediate and allowed their lives to be hijacked by something: grief, a lost opportunity, an ancient sadness, how someone else wasn't there when they were needed most.

I have no words for the thoughts that have occupied my mind of late, and it's probably best that I don't voice them until I've had the chance to make sense of it all. Perhaps there will never a 'right time'. So instead, I offer up some thoughts from a Christmas past.

Cheers, villains. Through all the years; the joys and the grief, your friendship and the laughter you bring to each day have drawn me back here like a magnet. It seems silly, naïve somehow, to love a group of people you've never met. But I love your brightness, your wit, your curiosity.

Sometimes, your combativeness. It is comforting to know that some things never change.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:18 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

December 13, 2013

The Best Christmas Present

Something to warm the cockles of your heart.

"U.S. Army mechanic Matthew Windisch gave his parents, Joann and Mark, quite a surprise when he greeted them at a Flyers game on Thursday night. As far as his parents knew, Windisch, who is stationed in Korea, wasn't expected home until December 20. Joann and Mark were invited to help unwrap a rather large gift, revealing a life-size G.I. Joe box with Matthew inside."

Tip o' the Stetson: The Sporting News

Posted by DL Sly at 05:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Let the Judgement Begin

Well, Christmas is around the corner. The tree is trimmed with decorations and ornaments collected through the years, and wrapped presents are multiplying underneath likes spores from a Steven King novel. The Christmas village is almost complete, so whilst awaiting the return of the ultimate Santa's helper, the VES, from school, on to old business...
To the judgement:

First place this week is relative new comer, frequent flyer, for, "We are gathered at this séance to communicate with the dead--the Democrat Party."

Claiming second place for the second straight week is Grim with, "All right, oceans: LOWER! LOWER!"

And in third place and a cloud of dust is Don Brouhaha's, "So I closed my eyes and raised my hands and Lo and Behold! There were millions of dollars in contributions from sources with no controlling legal authority! Coulda been God, you know?"

Very nicely done! I like the way y'all keep making this a difficult task each week.
And now, to new business!

13.png
Have at it, peoples.
And may the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 02:41 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Regrets

The subject of regrets seems to be in the news a lot lately. Last week, the Editorial Staff linked to a study that claimed that men's and women's sexual regrets were very different:

The linked article describes a study of sexual regret in which men's regrets focused on not being adventurous enough (hey! aren't men supposed to be naturally more adventurous???) and women's on having been too adventurous (hey! aren't women supposed to... oh, never mind). The study suggests several possible interpretations, but if you believe that biology (and not culture or incentives) is primarily responsible for observed differences in male and female behavior, the study could be viewed as evidence supporting the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate.

At the time, we wondered yet again if it's weird not to have any major regrets one way or another? Certainly there are things that, were we to live out our younger years all over again, we might pass up given the advantage of hindsight. But regret seems like an awfully strong term to describe such a vague possibility. Our mistakes become part of the people we will one day become, and we're not entirely sure we'd change a thing.

So we found it somewhat interesting when we ran across this list of the 25 most common regrets and - once again - couldn't identify with the vast majority of them. Out of 25, we only identified with 4 of them: 11, 21, 24, and 25.

Not sure they're even serious regrets. Just things we might do differently if given a do-over knowing what we know now.

Question for the ages: does not having a lot of strong regrets make one intellectually incurious and complacent? Or well adjusted and balanced? Or - more likely - does it all depend on the person and situation?

We've never seen the point in regret. The past is past and every day offers new chances to change course.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:02 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 12, 2013

Henry

Beautifully written:

You don’t expect your pet to outlive you. So the loss, no matter how upsetting, isn’t the shock other losses are or the tragedy. But it has a cost that feels less affordable these days.

I’ve reached an age when people are likely to experience health scares and unexpected losses of family and close friends. It’s an age when thinking about the future often prompts anxieties seldom suffered in the past, and when the unwanted realization that the longer you live the more you lose is hard to keep at bay.

It’s best now to try hard to live in the moment. Appreciate every kindness. Do your nearest duty. Cherish your loves. “Enjoy every sandwich,” as the late Warren Zevon put it.

It’s easier said than done, though, isn’t it? To live completely in the moment, you have to banish from your mind regrets and worries, those nags from the past and future. And whose mind is ever free of those?

I had a dog named Henry. He was a good boy. We both had our shortcomings but they didn’t bother us much.

He was my sole companion on the annual drive to our home in Maine, where we lived a bachelor’s life for a couple of weeks before the girls joined us. He didn’t like it when I left him out of an activity. He howled like he was being tortured when I went out on the water alone. He loved the beach but hated swimming. He barked too much. He slept in our bed, and snarled at me when I moved him off my pillow. And every time I walked through the door, he greeted me with the same wild enthusiasm he had the night before.

We didn’t imagine our future together. We didn’t look back on good and bad times we had shared. We didn’t look forward to growing old together. We didn’t worry about the future. We didn’t regret a thing. We went for walks. We watched the tide roll in. We sat together on the couch, mostly companionably. We greeted each other affectionately each morning and evening. We loved going to Maine.

Henry and I lived in the moment. And the moment is emptier without him.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

They Had Me at "Moribund"....

Those of you who love language will hopefully enjoy this as much as the Editorial Staff did:

CWCID

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Today in "War On Whatever" Hysteria

A 6 year old boy kisses a little girl on the cheek during school and then, a few weeks later, kisses her on the hand during class. According to the girl's mother, the girl didn't welcome the attention and the boy had been warned by school officials not to do it again. Naturally, he did it again.

We are told by the boy's mother that the little girl liked it. How does she know this? Did she actually talk to the girl or her parents? Or are we taking the word of a 6 year old boy who was already in trouble? Or perhaps a mother, defending her 6 year old boy who is already in trouble?

Somehow the little girl's mother found out about the first kissing incident before the second kiss - the one that got our hero in trouble - took place. Why, if she truly didn't mind being kissed, would a little girl come home and tell her Mom?

Ownbey stated there originally were two boys who had "kept her (daughter) from playing with other kids and fought with each other."

"After they got in trouble, one boy stopped but the other boy apparently didn't get it," she stated. "I had to put restrictions on her about which she was allowed to be around at school. I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop."

Lincoln Principal Tammy DeWolfe said Tuesday that any time a misbehavior or a violation of school conduct is reported to a teacher or a principal, she moves forward with an investigation to gather accurate information about what really happened.

"Then we continue to work with the families," she said. "Our goal is to ultimately get that inappropriate behaviors to stop."

She said the school would "never suspend a student for one minor little violation," adding that typically there are things that build up to suspension level where the behaviors have not changed over time and/or they continue.

It sounds like there's a bit more to this story than we were initially told, but none of us really knows exactly what happened. Normally, this might be enough to keep the blogosphere from going into orbit around Planet Eleventy. But we live in the age of outrage, where neither incomplete information nor obviously one sided coverage shall keep us from our appointed rants.

The school responded by placing a complaint of sexual harassment on a 6 year old boy's record. Clearly, this was a silly overreaction - one that has since been rectified by the school. Not to be upstaged by the silly overreactions that had already taken place, this week's tempest in a teapot somehow morphed into a Ginormous War on Little Boys!,
complete with "Free the Victim!" taglines and thinly supported accusations that the Obama administration was Somehow To Blame For All This. Because people never do anything stupid without direct orders from the White House. All this fulmination (plus a link from Glenn Reynolds) reminded us of an incandescently stupid article that made our head explode the other day:

Liberals want to stop men from checking out women

In the progressive future, men will not be able to look at women’s bodies because that is a terrible thing to do — and science says so.

...Ladies, how are you going to feel when the progressives prohibit men from paying you a compliment on your walk home from the bar? You know there’s always one friend of yours who waited all night for that.

Unexplained in all of this is exactly how liberals are going to criminalize compliment-paying and breast ogling, but no matter. The point is to get really, really angry and to believe that your identity group is being persecuted much more than all the other identity groups who believe they are being persecuted.

Hey, if it works for Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Amanda Marcotte, Barack Obama, et al, it must be a good idea.

So in keeping with the spirit of the times, allow Editorial Staff to throw just a bit more gasoline on the fire by agreeing with that notorious man-and-boy-hater, Ann Althouse: (what other motive could she have for not jumping on the bandwagon?)

I agree that someone that young should not be labeled with an offense that contains the word "sexual." (The school district, barraged with criticism, has relabeled his offense "misconduct.") And I would locate the issue of suspending him within the larger problem of the "zero tolerance" approach.

...By the boy's report, it happened "during class, yeah": "We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand." That isn't acceptable in-class behavior! The school should forbid that. I don't understand saying it's fine for boys and girls who like each other to freely express that affection with hand kissing during class. How about a little support for the school teachers who expect discipline during their lessons? You're not allowed to whisper back and forth or pass notes either. This is basic classroom respect. Have we all forgotten?

Yes, we have. We've lost the ability to see people as individuals and not as members of Oppressed Groups Whose Suffering Is Deeply Symbolic Of Some Larger Social Issue (maybe a war!). We've also lost the ability to deal with issues and individuals separately and dispassionately.

And it's a damned shame.


Posted by Cassandra at 03:53 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Just In Time for Christmas: Culturally Safe Santa!

Wethinks that someone has been dipping into the holiday egg nog with a little too much enthusiasm:

... I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin.

That’s right: a penguin.

Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white—and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a “joke” or a chance to trudge out racist stereotypes—helps perpetuate the whole “white-as-default” notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).

Plus, people love penguins. There are blogs dedicated entirely to their cuteness. They’re box office gold. Most importantly, they’re never scary (in contrast to, say, polar bears and reindeer). Most kids love Santa—because he brings them presents. But human Santa can be terrifying—or at least unsettling.

We have only one question: is Santa Penguin going to be penguin of the penis-having persuasion, or a bedazzled vajayjay-having penguin?

And don't think for one moment that this isn't A Very Important Question That Totally Deserves To Be Taken Seriously, because the Blog Princess can now confess the extreme psychological trauma she has experienced all her life, knowing the existential angst that comes from being a powerless female forced to wait submissively for a symbol of the Patriarchy to shower gifts upon her.

Gifts that only serve to remind her of the cultural and economic dominance of her Heteronormative, Melanin-impaired Overlords.

Having a female Santa Penguin could be problematic, because penguins aren't obviously male or female and the whole point of getting rid of White Male Santa is to redress centuries of cultural imperialism and sexual insensitivity. Hard to make the point that Santa Penguin could totally be female (or Trans! or LBGT!) if we can't tell without peeking. We could, possibly, change Santa's holiday regalia from red and white to pink and white. But then we run into the Angry Birds problem:

Likewise, gender is also a defining characteristic for the portrayal of female characters. Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fischer, a white female) and Padme (played by Natalie Portman, a white female) are both portrayed by pink birds. There are no other pink birds in the game. Again, the color of the bird is unimportant, unless the bird is female, in which case the character’s gender (denoted by its pinkness) becomes the essential element of that character.

This same pattern also appears in the original Angry Birds Star Wars, in which Princess Leia is the only pink bird and Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams, a black male) is the only brown bird.

White privilege and male privilege persist, in part, by framing the white, male experience as normal. Even in a game like Angry Birds Star Wars II we see the invisibility of whiteness and maleness and the foregrounding of race and gender for people of color and women.

When, oh when will the White Man stop oppressing womyn and people of color with their Otherist symbology????

UPDATE: Is this the best.correction.ever or what?

Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.

Posted by Cassandra at 10:08 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Cultural Appropriation in the News

Last week the Blog Princess, ever on the alert for Every Day Otherism, alerted the assembled villainry to a heinous blot on the glorious and enlightened regime of tolerance and multicultural bonhomie that is Obama's Amerikkka:

Cultural appropriation refers to picking and choosing elements of a culture by a member of another culture without permission. This includes traditional knowledge, religious symbols, artifacts or any other unauthorized use of cultural practice or ideation.

Apparently, the problem of cultural appropriation is far worse than we suspected. It turns out that even non-Whites can be found guilty by virtue of Insufficient Blackaliciousness:

Administrators at a private liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts are being accused of canceling a Halloween concert last month because the lead singer of the band was “not black enough.”

In a letter to Jonathan Lash, president of Hampshire College, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the school’s decision to cancel the event, saying it was clearly race-based, according to Campus Reform.

“The genesis of the decision, as you know rested on the accusation that this afro-funk band had insufficient representation of people of color,” the letter read.

Michelle Obama hits hubby with death glare seen around the world

The band is called “Shokazoba,” and it specializes in Afrobeat music style, according to MassLive, a local online publication which recently obtained the ACLU’s letter.

MassLive reported that the performance “was canceled after some students voiced concerns that the band, which has a black singer but is predominantly white, was appropriating black music.”

ACLU official William Newman did state in the letter that the band was accused of cultural appropriation and misappropriation, and called for an apology.

This is puzzling to us. Exactly how Black does a person have to be to be judged Authentically African-Amerikkkan? Is there a mathemagical formula?

Our President is half-white, but identifies with only half of his genetic and cultural heritage. Is he guilty of cultural appropriation? Enquiring minds want to know.

And what about these guys? How does race tie into a centuries-old tradition of borrowing and building upon the achievements of The Other (you know, that whole thing we call "civilization")?

In the twentieth century, Charles Ives made extensive use of borrowed materials that included hymns, songs, ragtime, college songs and patriotic songs.315 Bartok, Grieg, Glinka, Kodály, Vaughan Williams, Falla and Moussorgsky were enormously influenced by folk music316 and Richard Strauss by Liszt.317 Gershwin borrowed from blues and other African American-derived musical forms,318 Villa-Lobos from Brazilian popular music and Schoenberg and Bernstein from Jewish scales and motifs.319 Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Webern composed works that were recompositions of existing works that imposed a new, post-tonal music structure on an existing tonal model.320 Similarly, Alban Berg borrowed in the final adagio of his “Violin Concerto,” a chorale from J.S. Bach, incorporating the Bach chorale into his 12-tone model.321 Wuorinen’s 1988 piece “Machault Mon Chou” borrowed material from a fourteenth century mass by Guillaume de Machault.322 Respighi’s “The Birds” “almost note-for-note paraphrases keyboard pieces from the 17th and 18th centuries.”323 Mahler borrowed from his “Songs of the Wayfarer” for his “Symphony No. 1,”324 while Aaron Copland’s “Symphony No. 3” was partially based on his “Fanfare for the Common Man.”325 Shostakovich quotes from the Rossini opera William Tell in his “Symphony No. 15” from 1971,326 while Rachmaninoff borrowed a theme from Paganini,327 and Puccini borrowed from the “Star-Spangled Banner” and Japanese music for his opera Madama Butterfly.328

Some of the most sublime works in human history are the result of just the sort of "cultural appropriation" that landed Katy Perry in hot water.

And here we thought the whole point of multiculturalism was to encourage the acceptance, appreciation, and ... dare we say it?... blending of disparate cultural influences. We can't help but wonder... did the enlightened folks at Apple obtain cultural permission before making this monstrosity?

To shield ourselves from accusations of second-hand cultural appropriation, the Blog Princess has no choice but to proactively denounce those of you who have lined the pockets of Known Appropriators and Capitalist Running Pig-Dogs by purchasing iPhone 5s. Your unauthorized cultural-appropriation-by-extension makes us sick.

SICK, WE TELL YOU!!!

Posted by Cassandra at 07:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

But...But.... RACISM!!!

Somehow, we are thinking that it can't be easier to get an ID in South Africa than it is here in Amerikkka:

mandelavoterID.jpg

All of this gets even funnier when you remember that the Federal Election Commission chaired by none other than Jimmy Carter (that noted Republican racist... but then I repeat my ownself) studied elections all over the world before concluding that Voter IDs were one of the five pillars of election integrity:

Critics of requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls say the practice would disenfranchise minority voters, and some even accuse proponents of being motivated by racism. They don’t mention, however, that a 21-member bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, advocated just such a policy in 2005.

The commission, also co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, called voter identification one of “five pillars” that would “build confidence” in the integrity of federal elections. Only three of the 21 commission members voted against requiring photo identification of voters.

“The right to vote is a vital component of U.S. citizenship, and all states should use their best efforts to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters,” the commission’s report stated. “In close or disputed elections, and there are many, a small amount of fraud could make the margin of difference.”

Far from seeing a photo ID requirement as a negative, the commission said it could become a path to even greater access to the ballot.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 11, 2013

Important Foregrounding Alert!

A sociologist explores the tokenism in Angry Birds II (Star Wars):

...for white, male Star Wars characters, skin color is unimportant; white characters can be represented by a bird of any color. It is the costuming or props used by these birds that convey the essence of the character. But for black Star Wars characters, their skin color (brown) becomes the defining element conveying the essence of the character.

Likewise, gender is also a defining characteristic for the portrayal of female characters. Princess Leia (played by Carrie Fischer, a white female) and Padme (played by Natalie Portman, a white female) are both portrayed by pink birds. There are no other pink birds in the game. Again, the color of the bird is unimportant, unless the bird is female, in which case the character’s gender (denoted by its pinkness) becomes the essential element of that character.

This same pattern also appears in the original Angry Birds Star Wars, in which Princess Leia is the only pink bird and Lando Calrissian (played by Billy Dee Williams, a black male) is the only brown bird.
White privilege and male privilege persist, in part, by framing the white, male experience as normal. Even in a game like Angry Birds Star Wars II we see the invisibility of whiteness and maleness and the foregrounding of race and gender for people of color and women.

Question for the ages: the gender and race lobby are constantly lobbying for more inclusiveness, which usually takes the form of making sure easily identifiable members of various "disadvantaged" classes are visible in whatever endeavor they're putting under the microscope this week.

Failure to be inclusive enough is evidence of white, male privilege and poorly concealed Otherism. But apparently, so are sincere efforts to comply with the inclusivity demands of race-and-gender activists.

This yet another reason why the Blog Princess never plays video games. The White Man is Everywhere, continually Oppressing and Othering and Foregrounding and... well, you know the drill.

Sacre bleu! Did we just use rape metaphor? Drills are vaguely penis-like. And they are used to penetrate things, often forcefully! We need a safe space from The Man and his violent, rape-filled imagery.

SHAME. Shame on all you penis-havers!

Posted by Cassandra at 08:33 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 10, 2013

The Forecast Calls for Pain

Stay classy, Barack:

BbH0Q9GCYAA7S01.jpg-large

You can pretty much pick the accompanying Robert Cray tune.


Not a day goes by
That a man doesn't have to choose
Between what he wants
What he's afraid to lose

I can hear approaching thunder
I can feel chills run up my spine
I've seen love freeze before
And I know I'm on borrowed time

I can feel the thunder
I can see the lightning
I can feel the pain
Oh, it's gonna rain...


Any excuse for a music break.

Posted by Cassandra at 03:47 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

The Horror That Is Tax Inequality

Tax inequality: the government's answer to income inequality. We're all equal in the eyes of the law. It's just that some of us are more equal than others:

“A group can have a negative income tax rate if its refundable tax credits exceed the income tax otherwise owed,” said the CBO report.

The households in the top 20 percent by income paid 92.9 percent of net income tax revenues taken in by the federal government in 2010, said CBO. The households in the fourth quintile paid another 13.3 percent of net income tax revenues. Together, the top 40 percent of households paid 106.2 percent of the federal government’s net income tax revenue.

The third quintile paid another 2.9 percent—bringing the total share of net federal income tax revenues paid by the top 60 percent to 109.1 percent.

That was evened out by the net negative income tax paid by the bottom 40 percent.

Those in the second quintile paid -2.9 percent of net federal income tax revenues, and those in the bottom quintile paid -6.2 percent of federal income tax revenues.

When the the negative 9.1 percent in federal income taxes paid by those in the bottom 40 percent is subtracted from the 109.1 percent paid by those in the top 60 percent, federal tax revenues net out to an even 100 percent.

So, while the top 20% earn about 52% of national income, they pay just under 70% of gross tax revenue and about 93% of net tax revenue (taxes minus transfer payments).

Since I understand numbers better when I can compare them visually, I added the net federal tax share for the top quintile to a chart from the CBO report referred to in the article. This was a quick-and-dirty exercise, so let me know if this doesn't look right:

Tax_incomeshare.png

Seems totally fair....guess they weren't kidding when they told us that even if we raised the tax rate on top earners to 100%, they just don't make enough money to pay for everything in redistributionist fantasies.

A few more tidbits about The Evillest Income Quintile:

1. Half of them have at least two earners per household:

2. About 90% are married:

One frequently overlooked dimension of the gap between the "rich" and the "poor" is how much it is affected by marital status.20 As Chart 10 shows, only about 30 percent of all persons in Census's bottom quintile live in married couple families; the rest either live in single-parent families or reside alone as single individuals. In the top quintile, the situation is reversed: Some 90 percent of persons live in married couple families. In this case, equalizing the numbers of persons within the quintiles makes little difference; even after each quintile is adjusted to contain the same number of persons, 85 percent of persons in the top quintile continue to live in married couple families compared with one-third in the bottom.

Wikipedia puts it more succinctly:

In the United States the increasing gap between the top 30% and the bottom 70% of society is attributed to the large increase of single parent households.

If the socially unjust and unsanctioned lifestyle choices of America's top wage earners concern you, don't worry. Government will be along to fix things momentarily.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Taking the Soup"

This morning, the Blog Princess awoke to a winter wonderland. By sunup, the icy remnants of Sunday's snowfall were lightly dusted with fresh powder and the cows in the neighboring fields were mooing softly in gentle protest.

When it gets cold or when we find ourselves too disgusted with politics to write, we like to make soup (negative cultural stereotypes notwithstanding). Sunday, we made a big batch of Lentil Soup. There's no real recipe - just start with a bag of dried red lentils. Rinse and boil in unsalted water with two bay leaves until tender. Add 1 large minced yellow onion, 2 large minced celery sticks and 2 large minced carrots (the real kind), 1 ham hock or - if it's snowing and you don't have ham hocks lying about - a spoonful or two of Better Than Bullion ham base - sea salt to taste, somewhere between 1/2 t. and 1 t. ground cumin, several dashes of Morton's Nature's Seasons seasoned salt, and 2 cans of Del Monte diced tomatoes (since The Spousal Unit doesn't like tomatoes much, we use the Petite cut variety).

Cook long enough to let flavor develop, then add cayenne pepper and adjust salt and cumin as needed. We like it on the spicy side. We didn't have a ham hock on Sunday so I diced up a leftover sausage from an Italian restaurant dinner Saturday night and added it at the last minute.

When the boys were small we made a lot of soups with dried beans and peas. Today, we're making Cuban Black Bean soup.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

1 lb. dried black beans
2 qts water (I don't measure)
2 t. salt (1 for cooking beans, 1 for the soup itself)
2 or more cloves garlic, depending on size/freshness
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. dry mustard
2 T. olive oil
2 onions, finely minced
1-2 green peppers, minced
1 T. fresh lemon juice

Soak beans overnight in water. Next day, add 1 t. salt and boil until beans are tender. This may take a while.

Crush garlic, 1 t. salt, oregano, dry mustard. Saute minced onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes, add minced green peppers and sauté until tender. Stir in crushed seasonings and lemon juice along with 1/2 cup of hot water from the beans. Add vegetables and seasonings to beans and cook for about an hour or until flavors have blended.

Remove about 1 C. of beans and puree in blender or food processor. Return pureed beans to soup pot to thicken soup. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve with the following garnishes in separate dishes: minced green onion tops, diced hard boiled eggs, diced fried bacon, diced peanuts or cashews, thinly sliced fresh lemon. Sometimes we serve over white rice.

Another favorite is Tortilla Soup:

1/2 canola oil
6 corn or flour tortillas, cut into wedges (think pizza slices)
1 t. oil
1/2 C sliced green (spring) onions
2 t. garlic, minced or crushed
3 C. cooked rice
1 1/2 C. cooked and diced chicken breast meat
3/4 C. green chiles seeded and chopped (for convenience, canned work fine - if using fresh, you'll need a lot less unless you like hot peppers)
6 C. chicken broth
1 1/2 t. lime juice, fresh
1 1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. black pepper
3/4 c. diced fresh tomatoes (I prefer Roma tomatoes for this)
1 avocado, diced
4 sprigs cilantro or 1/4 C. minced fresh cilantro
1 lime, thinly sliced

In large frying pan, heat 1/2 C oil over med. heat. When hot, add tortilla wedges and fry until crisp light brown. Drain wedges on paper towel.

In large saucepan, heat 1 T oil. Add gr. onions and garlic, sauté for a few minutes. Add cooked rice, chicken, green chiles, and chicken broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add lime juice, salt, pepper. Pour into soup bowls, sprinkle with diced tomato and avocado. Stand fried tortilla wedges around sides of soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with cilantro and a lime slice.

Feel free to ensmarten the assembled villainry with your own soup recipes in the comments!

Posted by Cassandra at 08:38 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 09, 2013

Again With the Idiotic Conspiracy Theories

This kind of ignorance and sloppiness is embarrassing:

This week, we published a story on a U.S. Army General calling for the resignation of Barack Obama and other administration officials. Now, we have a very disturbing list of military high-ranking officers that have been purged from the Obama administration.

The linked article begins by grouping the supposedly "purged" officers into categories like "Commanding Generals Fired". Briefly scanning the list turns up several examples that only make sense if one completely redefines the word "fired" to mean "got out voluntarily at the end of his career":

General Allen wasn't fired. He retired after 36 years of service. General Petraeus wasn't fired. He retired after 37 years of service.

Another supposed "purgee" - Jim Mattis - also retired... after 41 years of service.

But the real traveshamockery is here:

157 [ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN] Air Force majors forced into early terminations, no retirement or benefits.

All 157 had been twice passed over for promotion and were within six years of retirement.

Does this person seriously not understand the military's up-and-out promotion system? During his 30 year career, the spousal unit and I saw countless officers "forced out" after the they twice failed selection for promotion. He fully expected to be fired forced out if he failed promotion.

The armed forces are neither a lifetime sinecure nor an entitlement program. No one is owed 20 years in the military, and anyone with "conservative" in their site name should not be stirring up hate and discontent over perfectly normal attrition.

Officers like this one (who was not on the "complete list of officers fired") deserve to be fired:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Panetta stripped Gen. William "Kip" Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000.

...A report by the Defense Department inspector general found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refueling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The report detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for Ward, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he traveled to Washington.

If you want to destroy everything the military stands for, it's hard to think of a better way than to encourage or endorse this sort of oxygen thievery. Do some research, and stop beclowning yourselves (and by extension, other conservatives who have legitimate grievances against this administration).

Lord knows there's plenty of ammunition out there as it is. We don't need to make stuff up.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:06 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

The Coming Demographic Tsunami

Demographics is often cited as one of the primary forces behind the liberalization of our electorate. We are told that as more minorities, immigrants (legal and illegal), and women vote, elections will be harder and harder for conservatives to win.

But increasing numbers of women and minorities aren't the only demographic changes likely to influence future elections:

Last week, a federal judge ruled that Detroit qualifies for municipal bankruptcy. This almost certainly means that pensions and health benefits for the city’s retired workers will be trimmed. There’s a basic conflict between paying for all retirement benefits and supporting adequate current services (police, schools, parks, sanitation, roads). The number of Detroit’s retired workers has swelled, benefits were not adequately funded and the city’s economy isn’t strong enough to take care of both without self-defeating tax increases.

The math is unforgiving. Detroit now has two retirees for every active worker, reports the Detroit Free Press; in 2012, that was 10,525 employees and 21,113 retirees. Satisfying retirees inevitably shortchanges their children and grandchildren. Though Detroit’s situation is extreme, it’s not unique. Pension benefits were once thought to be legally and politically impregnable. Pension cuts in Illinois (last week), Rhode Island and elsewhere have shattered this assumption. Chicago is considering reductions for its retirees.

What’s occurring at the state and local levels is an incomplete and imperfect effort to balance the interests of young and old. Conflicts vary depending on benefits’ generosity and the strength — or weakness — of local economies. A study of 173 cities by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found pension costs averaged 7.9  percent of tax revenues, but those of many cities were much higher: 17 percent in Chicago, 15 percent in Springfield, Mass., and 12.9 percent in New York. Health benefits add to costs.

At the federal level, even this sloppy generational reckoning is missing. The elderly’s interests are running roughshod over other national concerns. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — programs heavily for the retired — dominate the budget, accounting for about 44 percent of spending, and have been largely excluded from deficit-reduction measures.

Almost all the adjustment falls on other programs: defense, courts, research, roads, education. Or higher taxes. The federal government is increasingly a transfer agency: Taxes from the young and middle-aged are spent on the elderly.

The explanation for this is politics. For states and localities, benefit cuts affect government workers — a powerful but small group — while at the federal level, it’s all the elderly, a huge group that includes everyone’s parents and grandparents. As a result, the combat has been lopsided. Political leaders of both parties have avoided distasteful choices. Younger Americans have generally been clueless about how shifting demographics threaten their future government services and taxes.

This may be changing. One reason is the Affordable Care Act. Among other things, Obamacare expands the young’s compulsory subsidization of older Americans (in this case, those not yet 65). Under the law, some of the young will pay artificially high insurance premiums to cover the medical expenses of older and sicker Americans. The young seem to be balking. A poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics finds that less than a third of uninsured 18- to 29-year-olds plan to enroll in the program.

Many moons ago, the Editorial Staff opined on the vast difference between supporting redistribution in the abstract and supporting it when the price tag is plainly visible.

The price tag for redistributionist economic policies is about to become painfully obvious. Over the weekend, the spousal unit talked to an old friend whose policy premiums just went way up as a result of the so-called Affordable Care Act. Predictably, he wasn't happy.

It's one thing to answer survey questions about whether you wish everyone was taken care of and no one ever had to struggle in the affirmative. It's quite a different question to ask, "How much more would you personally be willing to pay in taxes or health insurance premiums to ensure that others don't have to struggle?

There's a reason survey questions are never worded that way.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:52 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

1-3 Inches...

1-3inches.png

This is from yesterday, before it had stopped snowing.

Kind of reminds us of Christmas eve, when the weather channel was telling us there would be "no accumulation" as we slowly did a 360 on the steep hill leading into our development :p

Too funny.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 07, 2013

Let the Judgement Begin

Again, apologies for the delay, everyone, but life happens. And because life still beckons (even with -1 as our high for the day and a -30 degree wind chill rolling in this weekend) I'll make this short and sweet. Besides, I know y'all are just itchin' to snark.

Now, on to old business...
To the judgement:

In first place, with is what is becoming a trend, is htom at the last minute with, "Michelle has already gotten him that for Christmas. You do not want to duplicate that gift. Think of what she'll think!"

Claiming second as his own this week is Grim for, "The good news for our careers is that, thanks to Kathleen, no one remembers we exist."

And rounding out the winners this week is CAPT Mike with this classic line, "When all else fails, a guy looks at his own shoes..."

Nicely done to all those who managed to awaken from the triptophan slumber long enough to form a coherent caption.
And now, to new business!

Shillary IV.png
Have at it peoples!
May the Farce be with you.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:09 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

December 05, 2013

What They Said

Best intro ever: "for an intensely ironic experience, watch this on your phone":

We spent the week after Columbus Day in Hilton Head, SC. After unpacking the car on our first night, the Spousal Unit and I walked down to the beach to catch the sunset and take a walk.

It was a stormy evening - the last of a bank of rain clouds darkened the sky on the landward side, the wind was blowing birds this way and that as they wheeled and tried to land, and the surf almost seemed like it was calling out to us. Unbelievably beautiful.

As we walked along the beach, the landscape ahead of us looked like it was dotted with tiny stars...

Cell phones. About half the folks out there were intently focused, not on the scenery or on talking with their families, but on their phones.

I still don't know what to make of that.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:05 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

December 04, 2013

Mondays Totally Suck

And you thought you were having a bad day at work...

ay_chihuahua.jpg

More proof (as if it were needed) that squirrels are plotting to kill us all.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:59 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 03, 2013

Confirmation Bias in the News

One topic that never fails to fascinate the Blog Princess is the human tendency to promote information that confirms what we already believe (and dismiss information that undercuts our position). This headline provides a great example of confirmation bias in its most common form:

Yes, men DO have selective hearing, says new study

What the study actually says is that both men and women have selective hearing, but that wouldn't support the narrative so the headline focuses on half of the study's findings and ignores the other half. But then you totally knew that, didn't you? :p

There's a reason headlines are so often written this way - we pay more attention to simple, dramatic summaries than we do to the more ambiguous and complex stories they introduce. Moreover, biased summaries shape our perception of the information that follows in ways that are useful and enjoyable. They make the world seem simpler, more orderly, and more predictable than it actually is. But sometimes the bias occurs on the interpretation side, where studies or facts with several possible explanations are attributed to a simpler or even single cause. Glenn Reynolds provides a great example of this type of bias here:

IT’S ALMOST LIKE BIOLOGY MAKES A DIFFERENCE: Men’s Top 3 Sexual Regrets Are Extremely Different from Women’s.

The linked article describes a study of sexual regret in which men's regrets focused on not being adventurous enough (hey! aren't men supposed to be naturally more adventurous???) and women's on having been too adventurous (hey! aren't women supposed to... oh, never mind). The study suggests several possible interpretations, but if you believe that biology (and not culture or incentives) is primarily responsible for observed differences in male and female behavior, the study could be viewed as evidence supporting the nature side of the nature vs. nurture debate.

The problem is that it could just as easily be viewed as supporting the opposite view - that culture and experience play a large role in shaping sexual choices and sexual regrets. Even "nature vs. nurture" is an oversimplification, because it leaves out a third possible explanation: incentives.

The study where male college students were far more likely to accept an offer of casual sex with a complete stranger than female college students is often cited as proof that men and women innately differ in their desire for sex. The problem is that it doesn't actually establish that at all. The study tells us only the "what" - not the "why".

We've already pointed out several times that the risks of accepting such an offer are far lower for men than they are for women. Part of that could be chalked up to biology: men are bigger (and more aggressive) than women, so women rightly fear violent rape or injury more than men do. Pregnancy is another consequence where biology can fairly be said to factor into the decision. But many who take the "nature" side of the nature/nurture debate argue that women - simply by virtue of biology - don't want or like sex as much as men.

And this may actually be true: it's one explanation among many possible ones: higher risk, lower reward, cultural conditioning, the asymmetrical stigma attached to casual sex... Biology. Or perhaps simply that, for a whole host of reasons, casual sex just isn't as much fun for women?

Natasha Gadinsky, 23, says she doesn’t have any regrets from her years in college. But the time she hooked up with a guy at Brown University does come close.

After his own orgasm that night, she said, he showed no interest in her satisfaction. The next time they got together, it happened again. He “didn’t even care,” said Ms. Gadinsky, a health care case manager in New York City. “I don’t think he tried at all.” He fell asleep immediately, leaving her staring at the ceiling. “I was really frustrated,” she said.

Like generations before them, many young women like Ms. Gadinsky are finding that casual sex does not bring the physical pleasure that men more often experience. New research suggests why: Women are less likely to have orgasms during uncommitted sexual encounters than in serious relationships.

Is this biology? Partly - one consequence of female physiology is that most women don't climax from intercourse alone. But imagine for a moment a culture where it was considered shameful for men to leave a woman unsatisfied. Wouldn't this tend to shift the "reward" part of the risk/benefit balancing test in a way that made casual sex more attractive to women?

Now imagine technology that makes it easier to mitigate some or all the unpleasant biological consequences of casual sex. Conservatives complain about one of these technological advances all the time: the Pill. Supposedly, it turns women into sluts. Here, Science proves inconvenient for the biology is destiny crowd. Still, if biology alone were driving women's sexual choices, one would expect the Pill alone to have little effect on what many conservatives argue is a woman's natural, biological makeup: one of low desire and avoidance of sex.

Now let's consider cultural forces, including another thing conservatives complain about all the time: feminists urging young women to act more like men - to actively seek out the kind of casual sex that is beautiful and natural when men engage in it, but perverse and harmful to society when women engage in it. Again, if women have naturally low desire, why should the urgings of feminists be such a big problem?

Conversely, if we admit that cultural pressures affect the willingness to engage in casual sex, doesn't that imply that the sexual double standard (men who engage in casual sex are alpha studs, women who do the same thing are sluts and whores) could partially explain mens' responses to surveys like the one Reynolds cites? Do we really believe that knowing that society admires men who are sexually adventurous has no effect on their survey responses?

And how do we explain this sort of thing?

At the same time, researchers say that young women are becoming equal partners in the hookup culture, often just as willing as young men to venture into sexual relationships without emotional ties.

If women are "naturally" hard wired to want sex less than men, why (despite the asymmetrically distributed risks and lower reward) are they clearly doing what their hard wiring should be preventing them from doing?

I'm happy to accept that biology has something to do with all of this, but clearly biology isn't the trump card here. It's not even clear that biology works in the way so many people think it does. For instance, there's that whole inconvenient oxytocin thingy:

What is clear, however, is that oxytocin can create unconscious biases in favor of a partner, possibly providing part of the biological mechanism behind monogamy. A prior study by the same researchers, in fact, found that men in monogamous relationships who were given oxytocin actually kept a greater physical distance from an attractive research associate, compared with single men.

Young suggests that oxytocin may actually have a dual effect — by not only making partners more attractive but also actively deterring interest in other potential mates. He notes that in the monogamous prairie voles he studies, males that have a pair bond can actually be hostile to other females. “They develop a very strong preference for the partner and slight aggression towards those who are not their partners,” he says.

Any yet somehow, monogamy isn't natural for men?

When you add in cultural forces, incentives, and technology, none of this stuff is simple or crystal clear. Especially when - instead of asking impersonal, one size fits all survey questions of young men, we were to ask them - in depth - about how they make decisions and react to real life situations?

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Sexting--each successive technology can introduce a new set of practical and emotional challenges for boys as well as girls. And while boys are often cast as thoughtless slobs in this arena--tossing off offensive sexts to girls as a clumsy way of flirting or passing around girls' pics that were supposed to be private--their thoughts and perceptions on the topic are more acute and subtle than one might think.

First off, if you think boys don't obsess over this stuff the way girls do, well, you'd be wrong.

"You can tell what she wants pretty much by how she texts," Dre tells me. "The dry 'Hey' is O.K. But then there's some that have the 'Heyyy' with the extra y's and the winky face [emoticon], and that means this conversation could possibly go somewhere. They're probably the hooking-up type."

Ian, who came out as gay during his sophomore year in high school, also says emoticons play a key role in sussing out a crush's potential feelings. "When I see a smiley face, it's the opening of the doorway to emotions," he says. "That first emoticon is significant. When it comes, it means something."

Brian Tian-Street, 19, whom I met at the magnet school he attended in Maryland, told me over e-mail about how he and a friend tag-teamed communication with a girl the friend had met at a dance. "He kind of wanted to continue it and thought it was easiest to bring it up via text," said Brian, who is now a sophomore at Yale. "What followed was me helping him phrase text messages letter by letter ... We discussed whether to use '...' in certain places, what to capitalize and what to not, emoticons and their placement ... Every detail was discussed, such as the time between responses. Wait at least a few minutes between responses, so as not to appear clingy or desperate." A character from Girls could hardly do a better job of picking apart linguistic minutiae.

Of course, all this technology has its explicit side--which is typically where boys get into trouble, though it's not always boys acting as the aggressors. One mother told me the story of her son's being sent explicit pictures from a girl at school, in various stages of nudity. The images came with the message "You are special, and no one else gets to see this," the mother said. "My son eventually discovered that it had been sent to all her 'special' ones, numbering about a handful."

For boys, getting sexy images from a girl, solicited or not, raises their social status. "It's a big ego boost," says Ethan Anderson, a 17-year-old from Boulder, Colo. Girls send pictures for lots of reasons: to get attention, in response to requests from a boy or to compete with other girls. But the boys don't always know what to think. "I've gotten probably like four unwanted pictures ... just desperate girls who are looking for a good time with everyone," says Winston Robinson, an 18-year-old who is starting his first year at Drexel University this fall. "It's awkward, especially if you didn't ask for it. When it happens, I delete it, so the parents don't try to screw you over if they find it."

Wouldn't it be funny if all the cultural restrictions that have traditionally discouraged women from seeking out casual sex turned out to be grounded in something more complicated than a simplistic "men like sex, women don't" view of 'biology'?

... why do we work so hard to cultivate empathy and submissiveness in women and girls? Could it possibly be because these strong checks on female human nature are just as necessary as are strong checks on male human nature? Is it possible that the reason Islam spends so much time wringing its hands about female sexuality is that it actually exists (and can cause problems)? Or that the reason Western society stigmatizes female promiscuity and worships mansluts is the kind of wretched excess we saw on VMA a few weeks ago? Successful cultures find constructive ways for men and women to express what biology, hormones, and our sex drives impel us to. But we keep confusing culturally approved channels with raw instincts. They're related (they're designed to be), but not identical.

And wouldn't it be amazing if, one day, Science revealed that men are far more decent, loving, kind, sensitive, trustworthy than we give them credit for being? This wouldn't, by the way, make them women. It would just make them far more complicated - and interesting - than we like to think they are.

Naaaaah. There's got to be a simpler explanation. We're guessing it involves cave men.

Posted by Cassandra at 05:56 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm....

What if only the sticker is made in China?

Why is swearing "immature" when we tell our kids they can't use it because it's "adult language"?

What would our world be like if we truly had opposable thumbs?


Jus', yanno, some of the things that make me go, hmmmmm.
0>;~}

Posted by DL Sly at 02:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 02, 2013

And the Word for the Day Is....

Nonpartisan!!!!

Enroll America boasts all manner of nonpartisan credentials. Most of its staffers seem to have worked in the nonpartisan Obama presidential campaigns of 2008 or 2012, often both. Its president, Anne Filipic, served as deputy executive director of the nonpartisan Democratic National Committee, and came here straight from the nonpartisan White House Office of Public Engagement. The nonpartisan Obamacare czar, Kathleen Sebelius (whom Filipic also worked for), has admitted putting the arm on companies to make donations to Enroll America, sparking several nonpartisan congressional investigations.

And after decidedly partisan conservative gadfly James O’Keefe and his undercover Project Veritas crew caught Texas Enroll America communications director Chris Tarango on tape conspiring to help obtain a private list of potential Obamacare enrollee data for political purposes, a national Enroll America spokesman told me again: “Enroll America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization,” it doesn’t technically enroll people “so we don’t have any sensitive personal data,” and though the video “does not show any violation of our nonprofit status,” even the suggestion of any violation is “inappropriate” and the “employee seen in the video has resigned from his role with Enroll America.”

With my nonpartisan concerns allayed, we’re ready to roll!

What could possibly go wrong?

Right about now, a squad car pulls up, and a buzz-headed cop motions for Welly to come over. I am incensed on his behalf. A black man gets a little lippy with some white girls, and immediately the cop assumes he’s harassing them? But the cop doesn’t want to talk to Welly, he wants to talk to the girls. He asks them who they are and what they’re doing. He explains the police have had some complaints about them causing disturbances in the neighborhood. They point out that they’re just educating people about their health care options, and haven’t disturbed anybody. I second them, as the Obamacare pom-pom girls are nothing if not mannerly. The cop says it doesn’t matter. If they want to canvass door-to-door, they have to get a permit at city hall.

A smile creeps across Welly’s face as the officer drives away. “What kind of sense does that make?” he says, now running up the score. “Think about that. You’re doing the work of government, then the government comes over and says, ‘Hey’ .  .  . ”

Katie is not amused. For the first and only time, I see her mercury rise. “We’re a nonpartisan organization,” she chirps. “We’re just trying to get information to you.”

“I know,” Welly says, feinting like a gentleman, but still grinning like he found money in the street. “So you guys have Obamacare?” he asks. Katie informs him they’re already insured by their employer, and that if they like it, they can keep it.

“Yeah, well, that changes next year,” Welly says, now cold as ice. “Remember the business mandate? They pushed it back.”

Partisans. Definitely partisans.

We can tell by just looking at their faces.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:54 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday Verse

GROW old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!’

- Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra

Posted by Cassandra at 08:27 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Palate Cleanser

...for those of you who haven't seen it:

Sooooo.... what did y'all talk about at the table during Thanksgiving dinner?

Posted by Cassandra at 06:36 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Newest Danger Lurking In Our Midst

Yes, the Editorial Staff are talking about The Horror That Is Cultural Appropriation. "What the heck is Cultural Appropriation?", you knuckledraggers may well be asking yourownselves?

Cultural appropriation refers to picking and choosing elements of a culture by a member of another culture without permission. This includes traditional knowledge, religious symbols, artifacts or any other unauthorized use of cultural practice or ideation.

It's the "ideation" part that really frosts our cornflakes. But seriously, we were rather encouraged to read the following:

Cultural appropriation is always disrespectful when it incorporates religion. Using an item that holds spiritual significance as jewelry is not only insulting to Hinduism, but the specific importance of the item in question.

Hmmm... wouldn't this make disrespectful (and unauthorized!) use of Christian regalia instances of cultural appropriation? Surely the creator of "Piss Christ" doesn't self-identify as a devout believer in the divinity of Jesus Christ?

And just who gave this guy permission to appropriate the sacred symbols of another faith (being "always disrespectful" as such acts are known to be by those in charge of offense-taking)? Come to think of it, where does one go to obtain such permissions? Is there a form? Does every faith/ethnicity/nation/culture/race have an Official Bureau of Cultural Permits? How does one, whilst appropriating the ideation of another culture, properly notify the Public that one does so by permission? Is there a protocol for displaying proof of permission?

Why is cultural appropriation so wrong?

Borrowing from another culture is most problematic when it plucks from a minority group (especially one that has been exploited or otherwise oppressed). Using aspects of another culture from a position of privilege is a means of additional exploitation in that it disregards the shared experiences that led to the development of the culture in question and uses ideas and traditions for their benefit.

Oh.... you mean this sort of thing:

Once upon a time Linda Walther Tirado aka KillerMartinis wrote an essay about what it feels like to be poor. In spite (or perhaps because) of its nihilism and hopelessness, Linda’s story enchanted the internet and went viral.

...If it hadn’t been for a bunch of haters poking holes in her fairy tale, Linda might have been able to keep on fundraising and reach her final $100,000 goal. But trolls kept asking inconvenient questions like how it was that the mother of a baby and a toddler, working two jobs and carrying a full-university course load, could spend so much time on the internet.

The trolls uncovered not just the Vegas trip but the fact that Linda was a homeowner – no mortgage either — who had recently crowdfunded some overdue bills. They also discovered Linda’s multiple Facebook accounts and internet personalities. Before she became a downtrodden young mom making bad decisions, Linda was a lesbian taking on the Mormon church and a feisty fast food franchise manager putting entitled customers in their place.

It's so upsetting to see a white woman of privilege exploiting the culture of the poor and near-poor for selfish, financial gain. Hard to think of anything worse, really.

Except, possibly, the unauthorized appropriation of facial hair:

... what message does Movember convey to those whose moustaches are more-or-less permanent features? With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority. Imagine a charity event that required its participants to wear dreadlocks or a sari for one month to raise funds—it would rightly be seen as unforgivably racist. What is the difference here? We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers' generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups. Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism. We often wonder how our fathers (both life-long moustached men) must feel each November, when their colleagues' faces temporarily resemble theirs, and are summarily met with giggles and sponsor-money. No doubt they draw the obvious conclusion, that dovetails with many other experiences of life as an immigrant: there are different rules for white faces.

Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache. The decision to focus on the moustache to raise awareness of men's health issues might seem like an apposite one (though there's no obvious relationship between moustaches and cancers), but it reinforces the regressive idea that masculinity is about body chemistry rather than gender identity, and marginalises groups of men who may struggle to grow facial hair, such as trans-men. Ironically, Movember also excludes the very men it is supposed to uplift; many men who have undergone radiotherapy or surgery to treat testicular cancer are rendered “hypogonadal” and are therefore unable to grow facial hair.

Whatever these people are on, it is obviously prime stuff.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:12 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack