Friday, July 30, 2004

Respectful of Otters has a nice post up on Bruce Schneier's Beyond Fear.

Oh, and tell me if you think this passes the sniff test: Matt Blunt, the Missouri Secretary of State, is appearing in newspaper ads that say "Don't Forget to Vote on Tuesday!" The ads feature his name and his face, and they were paid for with federal funds. Matt Blunt just happens to be on the ballot, in the Republican primary.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Since Christie's cats moved in, I've been running the Roomba a lot more. It's not so much about the cat hair, though, as it is about strategy. See, they've been fighting a lot, and I keep thinking they'll band together, Independence Day style, to defend against the attack of the robots.

Doesn't seem to be working, though. Damn.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Great fridge. It's the appliance equivalent of a concept car, so we'll probably never see it, but it's got some great ideas that hopefully the powers that be will use.

Friday, July 23, 2004

So, about that letter. Turns out that the Tribune considers letters to the editor on political topics to be, in essence, political ads, which means they charge money to publish them. I'm torn between the desire to change minds and the principle "never pay to be published."

Central to that question, of course, is the question of whether a Columbia paper is really the best place for a piece of writing designed to change the minds of people inclined to vote in favor of Amendment Two. I'm stuck. What do you guys think?
In case your world is insufficiently weird today.
For those of us planning to vote for the "Anybody but Bush" platform, Tom Oliphant presents a solid case why Kerry would make a good president.
Of course, is Edwards really is a vampire, then garlic powder is hardly a harmless substance, is it?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A wise man once told me, "Resist the urge to write letters to the editor." But I live in Missouri, where the bigots have managed to get an anti-gay marriage amendment onto the ballot, and the thought that it might pass has me sick to my stomach. I'm a realist, and I know that Missouri's not going to recognize gay marriage for at least a decade or so, if then. But it's the right thing to do, and I'm confident we'll get there eventually. Enshrining the current benighted state of our state in the constitution is just going to make it harder for us to do the right thing when the time comes.

Besides, I love this state and don't want to see us institutionalizing bigotry any more than we already have. Leave that to Mississippi.

Unfortunately, the religious right thrives on this bizarre notion that they're a besieged minority, and bumper stickers, marches, etc. just fan the flames. What, then, is a way of expressing my opposition that stands a chance of changing someone's mind? Here's what I came up with. I'll let you know if the Tribune prints it:


Anytime I hear someone condemn the sinfullness of "the homosexual lifestyle", I think of a church organist I used to know. All he asked was to be able to express his love of God through music, and for fifteen years he did just that for a small Baptist church, until one day someone asked him if he was gay. It wasn't the first time he'd been asked, but he'd been praying on the topic lately and had decided that the next time he was asked, he'd give an honest, simple aswer, "Yes." Within three days, he was out of a job.

At the time, I was on the board of a church that was looking for a music director, and we counted ourselves blessed to find a replacement with so much love, joy and spirit to give. Over the next few years, I had the honor of watching a soul bloom.

Think about your husband, or your wife, and how much their love and support means to you. Now imagine keeping that love secret from the people you sing God's praises with for fifteen years because you know they'll reject you if you told the truth. That's what our organist faced, and the look on his face the first time he introduced his partner (of more than ten years!) to the congregation was like sun hitting a stained glass window after fifteen years of cloudy days.

The church I attended as a child taught me that God is love, and sang songs about letting your light shine. Now they have a "Special Announcement" at the top of their web page saying, "Help Protect Marriage!" I suppose it's possible that they're right that two people of the same gender wanting to stand up at the front of a church and swear to love, honor and cherish one another is an affront to God. But for me to believe that, I'd have to forget most of what they taught me about God, and everything I know about love.
Great DIY idea for photographers: Build your own bottlecap tripod.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

How Not to Talk is a great list of conversational gambits that shut down the flow of actual information, hurt feelings, and just generally fuck everything up. From now on, whenever I'm talking politics with someone and they disagree with me, I'm just going to say, "You weren't breastfed, were you?"
So have you heard about the problems Iowa's having with terrorism?
Red vs. Blue? What about Purple? The next time you hear something about how divided we are as a nation, take a look at this map, which colors the states according to the percentages which went for Bush or Gore, rather than the winner-takes-all approach most of the red/blue studies opt for.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Fast Company's profile of John Mackey, founder and president of Whole Foods is worth reading if you're interested in how to succeed in business while nurturing your soul.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Assuming you own the home you live in (as opposed to renting) and are in a relationship, it is inevitable that one of you will at some point say, "I wonder what's behind that wall?"

Sure, you could run. You could hide the sledge hammer, turn on the TV, go to a movie, or any of a dozen-odd options that won't cost you a hundred bucks or so in lumber, not to mention lost sleep, sore muscles, minor injuries, and a fine sheen of plaster dust throughout the house.

But where's the adventure in that?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Laws Concerning Food and Drink for the new father, and those who've been at it for a while. For example:

"For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert. But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert."

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Courtesy of Rebecca's Pocket, here are a few links worth your time:

Hilarious story on scamming an email scammer.

The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone is have cascading positive effects.

Harlem finishing school teaches life skills as well as social ones.

A 'green' apartment building in Brooklyn isn't just environmentally friendly, it's cheaper to build and maintain.

And finally, reading is down. Sort of. I'm of two minds here. Let's start with this sentence: "As websites and talk radio proliferate, reading is no longer the only way, or even the primary one, of getting information." First of all, how are they getting the info from web pages if they're not reading it? And secondly, isn't this study about literature? How is reading for information related? Those objections aside, though, the writer does a good job of balancing the story, so click away.

Rebecca's got some thoughts on the study as well, mostly revolving around the fact that, as a web tech, she spends her entire day reading, which leaves her less inclined to do so when she gets home.

On a related note, since I came down with a migraine on the way home from Michigan, Christie thought maybe a book on tape was a good idea to keep her occupied while she drove. Here's what the gas station clerks in Joliet had to say on the matter:

Clerk 1: A what? A bookstore? Around here? Nah, we don't have anything like that around here.

Clerk 2: You might try over by Wal-Mart.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Things that make me smile #236: I look down at my plate and notice that the pickle, which had two pointy ends when the waitress set it in front of me, now has one pointy end and one crescent-shaped one. I look pointedly at Christie, then down at my plate. With all the credibility she can scrape together, she says, "It was an accident. I was walking, and I tripped, and my mouth landed on your pickle," and the corners of her mouth are twitchy, but she holds her eyes wide, daring me to laugh.
Jorge Layne Borges. Will anyone care now that the curtain is down? Does a fictional character have a right to self-expression? And will the writing stay good now that the author's out of the closet?
Quote of the week, from Christie: "It's pronounced patronizing."

Runner up, with distinction, from some guy on the streets of Ann Arbor, the most liberal city in Michigan, when asked to sign a petition to get Nader on the ballot: "No way in hell!"

This was an odd vacation. First of all, instead of going straight to the cottage on the lake, we first spent two days in Ann Arbor, visiting Christie's grandparents, who won't be able to make it to the wedding. I was reminded again and again of Christie's very wise words on my (occasionally contentious) relationship with my mother, "Of course she can still push your buttons! She installed them." 'Nuff said.

Second of all, we didn't bring the camera, and were mostly inactive, instead of the usual array of daytrips, long walks, etc. Some of it was the weather, which was cool, gray, and rainy, but I think mostly it was about temperament. Last year was Christie's first at the lake, and there was so much to show and do, and for the previous two years there was so much not to think about that keeping busy was a survival issue. This time around, I wasn't freaking out, wasn't stressed, and didn't have anything I particularly wanted to do except spend time with my second family and read a few good books.

Speaking of which, I heartily recommend Michael Chabon's Summerland and Arturo Perez Reverte's The Nautical Chart.

On the way up, we spotted a billboard for a Crate and Barrel outlet store in Michigan City, IN, and resolved to check it out. There turned out to be a massive outlet mall there, that would have been well worth the side trip if Christie wasn't feeling a summer cold looming and I didn't have a migraine. No, actually, it was still worth the side trip, as we got a massive butcher's block at Crate and Barrel, and this (though even cheaper than Amazon's clearance price!). Christie and I both love to make soups and stews, but have to choose between a crappy old stock pot that just doesn't do the job or an antique cast iron dutch oven that my dad gave me a few years back. The dutch oven's great, don't get me wrong! Cast iron is, in fact, my favorite surface to cook on. But it's reactive with a lot of foods, which can effect the food and the pan both. And I've been wanting to have some Le Creuset in the kitchen pretty much since I started cooking. It's impractical as hell, I'll admit, but so what?

Now I just need to find someplace to put it.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Via Eschaton, here's a nice bit about the felons "purge list" in Florida. The Repubs have decided not to use it after it turns out they left Hispanic felons off the list (Hispanic's in Florida vote overwhelmingly Republican. It was, of course, purely accidental.

Jeesh, these people can't even cheat well.

Oh, and I'm back from vacation. Michigan was wonderful as always, but you know I missed you all terribly. Well, not all of you, as approximately half of my audience was up there with me. But the rest of you, like, totally!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A private company wanted to test 100% of their cows for mad cow disease, partly due to US demand, but mostly so that they could export to Japan and other markets that are refusing to take our beef until it's more rigorously tested. The USDA won't let them. Why isn't this front page news?
If you're looking for ways to punch up your writing, you could do a lot worse than these Fifty Writing Tools from Roy Peter Clark.
Forget Atkins, the latest craze is the Da Vinci diet! Sure, it's more than a little silly, but it's mostly mediterranean foods and is based around my favorite number.