Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Princess

Once upon a time there lived a king. The king had a beautiful daughter, the PRINCESS.

But there was a problem. Everything the princess touched would melt.

No matter what; metal, wood, stone, anything she touched would melt.

Because of this, men were afraid of her. Nobody would dare marry her. The king despaired. What could he do to help his daughter?

He consulted his wizards and magicians. One wizard told the king, "If your daughter touches one thing that does not melt in her hands, she will be cured." The king was overjoyed and came up with a plan.

The next day, he held a competition. Any man that could bring his daughter an object that would not melt would marry her and inherit the king's wealth.


The first brought a sword of the finest steel. But alas, when the princess touched it, it melted. The prince went away sadly.

The second prince brought diamonds. He thought diamonds are the hardest substance in the world and would not melt. But alas, once the princess touched them, they melted. He too was sent away disappointed.

The third prince approached. He told the princess, "Put your hand in my pocket and feel what is in there." The princess did as she was told, though she turned red. She felt something hard. She held it in her hand.

And it did not melt!!!

The king was overjoyed. Everybody in the kingdom was overjoyed! And the third prince married the princess and they both lived happily ever after.

Question: What was in the prince's pants?

M&M's of course.

They melt in your mouth, not in your hand.

What were you thinking??

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Corpses are Dying

Since the spring of 2005 I have contributed to An Exquisite Corpse, a website for collaborative art. This has been a wonderful community to belong to with its marvelous, and sometimes stunning, art, and endless discussion, artistic and otherwise.

Phineas, the site owner and moderator, announced yesterday that the site will be finis following the last posting (there are seventeen remaining "corpses" in the pipeline). He promises to keep the site available as an archive. I am glad for that at least.

To date I have contributed to 42 corpses (the name for the collaborative art pieces). I've been pretty proud of some, and much less so of others. I guess I can at least say that I have been ashamed of none. And it has been a real honor to work with so many other talented artists. I am going to miss this community. A lot.

There's already some talk amongst us of trying something new. I hope we do. I'll do my part to help make it happen. But it will be very difficult to match the spirit that has made An Exquisite Corpse so successful. Please check it out.

Thank you Phineas for everything.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Liberal Consensus

As recently as a year ago if I discussed politics with other liberals, Democrats, progressives, left-wingers, pinkos, or the like, I would most likely find little to disagree with. Sure we'd quibble over the actual meanings of the labels we use for ourselves or that others call us; I'm progressive, not a liberal because of the negative connotation, etc. But we'd all agree that Bush is evil, Cheney is Satan incarnate, Iraq is an unmitigated disaster, the US Constitution deserves better protection, surveillance of Americans without warrants is illegal, suppression of the black vote is a tactic of the true evil empire: the Bushies, and so on.

Now that the light at the end of this administration's dark tunnel is in full view though, I find myself arguing with those with whom I am most politically aligned. I for instance believe impeachment is the honor-bound duty of the Congress of the United States. And since Nancy Pelosi had the gal to "take it off the table" without the American people's consent, I think she should be one of those impeached. Cheney and Bush are traitors and should be tried as such. Nancy is obstructing justice and so should be tried in a like manner.

But that's my point of view and while I know it's held by many, there are also many, who would consider themselves well left of center, who would adamantly disagree. My brother visiting for the holidays is one such. Here I was secretly happy we had ended up with only the liberal element of my family over for the festivities, when I found myself in a very heated debate over that precise issue. And other issues grew out of it as well. War funding for instance: I believe Congress should simply cut it off. Period. My brother thinks that would be abandoning the troops. He calls me naive. I have heard his point of view (Congress itself keeps spouting it in defense of their inaction) and it's enticing. Any time you can say "here's the problem with that solution," you’re looking to get a free pass. But I think you need to offer up a solution before shooting down another.

Liberals are often accused of just complaining about the problems and not doing anything about them. In other words, we are accused of being negative. But within our own ranks, if some of us posit solutions - and I won't deny that those I suggest are drastic - we're often accused of being too, well, drastic. But those who say that generally don't have any suggestions themselves. They just argue why the proposed solution will not work. And truly I'm not trying to argue that all the kinks have been worked out of my solutions. But debate and consensus has its hallmark of greatness in its ability to achieve synthesis. You can't achieve that goal by dismissing extreme solutions out of hand. Extreme solutions are usually proffered only after it has become clear that a) the danger inherent in following the status quo is itself extreme, and b) that something has to be done and that current approaches are tantamount to doing absolutely nothing.

We lefties have trouble achieving consensus. A large part of that is inherent to our cerebral wiring. We are generally critical thinkers who understand not only the value, but also the necessity, of free thought. It's very difficult to broker single-visioned compromise under those circumstances.

The problem with that is that the Right enforces unity of vision very well. Admittedly that becomes less obvious during the primary season. And Republican candidates must spend copious energy distancing themselves from this administration while also doing the opposite (to appease both the centrists and the hard right – or as I like to call them: the righty-uptighties). But all you need to do is to listen to the right-wing punditry (something I try to avoid) to hear that day’s talking points faithfully regurgitated. These guys know how to present a united front.

So while it’s long been the hallmark of the enlightened left to be in discord due to our superior critical thinking abilities, I call complete bullshit on the notion that we cannot be united. The difference is that we need not to unite ourselves under the banner of a strong man, but rather to unite ourselves via the mechanism of debate and consensus. It’s a great tool that can be used very effectively by clear-thinking people and it’s time we do so. If impeachment is too drastic (it’s not, but I’m allowing for debate), then let’s discuss what will work. Let’s come up with a plan. You don’t need to strong-arm the solution; you just need to come to the table believing that consensus is mandatory.

Monday, November 12, 2007


When I was a kid I guess I liked sweets as much as any other kid. If something tasted nice with a sprinkle of sugar, how about three tablespoons? Up until maybe 5 or 6 years ago I continued to put sugar on my cereal. And I still put brown, or even better raw, sugar on my oatmeal. But other than natural sugar in fruit or the rare bowl of icecream, I can pretty much take or leave sweets. In fact if someone eliminated all access to sweetness tomorrow, I wouldn't shed a tear.

Except for chocolate. I only eat chocolate rarely. But not because I could take it or leave it. On the contrary, I could just take it and take it. And it really needn't be particularly sweet. I love bitter chocolate. And I used to nibble on unsweetened bakers' chocolate as a kid.

So I read this evening that chocolate is 3000 years old. 500 years older than previously thought. And it all started with making beer in Honduras. I found this quite interesting.

And did I tell you I like beer too?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just Stuff

I think I have blogger's block. I feel an obligation to write something here. Anything. But I have no idea what to write about. So I figured if I sat down and just started writing, something would come to me and we'd be off to the races.

Still nothing.

China rescinded the exportation license for the manufacturer that was making those whatchumacallit dots that administered the date rape drug to kids. Interesting: They can't export the dots. But they presumably can still manufacture them. For Chinese kids, you think?

We have family coming for Thanksgiving and so we're spending this weekend cleaning up and organizing. Or at least Bonnie is. I'm sitting here typing. As soon as I'm done I'll shower and help with the cleaning. That is, unless I can come up with another diversion.

The fall is beautiful this year. The weather started cooling in September but has not become really cold yet so the colors are hanging in there for a long time. I took this photo a couple of weekends ago (same weekend Bonnie and I built our front steps). This is the southwest corner of our back yard, in what we refer to as Bonnie's Sanctuary. It's very pretty isn't it?

I got my computer back from the shop on Thursday. It blue-screened again Friday night. I don't know why, but I'm waiting to see if it blue-screens even one more time. If it does I'm going to demand my money back (wish me luck). But I hope it blue-screened due to a random high-energy photon from outer space or something. I really like this machine - when it's not in crash mode.

I'm getting hungry and I refuse to eat before I shower so I guess this is it. I hate cleaning. Oh that's right; I just remembered one of the things I need to clean is the garage. Hooray! I love spending quality time in the garage. I can stretch that out for a long time.

Happy Sunday.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Red Nose

Ever notice how the press keeps saying "In a surprise move, Pat Robertson backs Rudolph Giuliani?" Surprise my ass.

Get a clue you right-wing religious nuts: this was never, will never be, could never be, is laughingly not, about religion!

Pat Robertson is a billionaire. Or did you know that? He has helped foster child labor. Also true.

Pat Robertson is not endorsing Giuliani because Rudolph plays in any Evangelical games. He is endorsing him because of MONEY.

I really pity those of you who love the right because of your Christian religion. You've been had.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Life without Left Turns

This story makes me smile.

By Michael Gartner

My father never drove a car.

Well, that's not quite right.

I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in:

"Oh, bull——!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

Continued here...

Game for Anything

What will those crafty Chinese think of next? I know aphrodisiacs are as common a feature in Chinese pharmacology as aspirin is in the West. But this really takes the cake:

A favorite of Australian children, the Bindeez game is a Chinese export. Apparently the game includes tiny beads. Normally this would merit a ban for small children on its own. I guess Australian kids don’t choke as readily as American kids do. Nonetheless they do seem to need a little coercion on a date.

The beads turn out to have been coated with a date rape drug. No, this is not a joke. The Australian authorities have responded appropriately, banning the game. Read more here.

But this begs some questions. Are the Chinese secretly planning on invading Australia and dating their children? What is up with that? Are the toxins in the Chinese environment beginning to damage the chromosomes of Chinese women? And are Australian women just too large for diminutive Chinese men? This could explain the use of the drug in children’s toys.
Or they may simply have run low on plastic resin and, under pressure to meet a shipping deadline, they innocently added a little date rape resin they just happened to have sitting around in a barrel. Nothing nefarious in that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Producers

Somebody please explain to me how the Congress works. I learned all about "how a bill becomes a law" when I was a kid. But seriously, what fuels the process?

Those of us with a brain, er, I mean those of us who lean to the left of Hitler just can't understand for the life of us what the hell happened to the Democrats in the House and in the Senate. I myself have suggested that maybe Bush kidnapped our elected officials' loved ones and is holding said people, plus our representatives' gonads, hostage in some secret prison (for his maniacal amusement I'm sure).

All jokes aside though, what the fuck are these nut-cases all about?

Kucinich is probably the last truly honest politician in Washington (and you Ron Paul supporters can just stuff it). He forces the impeachment of Cheney to the floor of the House today to the immediate response of the majority's axe. Only to be resurrected by the Republicans. What the fu*? Huh?

What am I missing? And before you go raising your hand shouting "I know, I know," yes I have heard several supposedly plausible ploys of the Repugnants and of the Scardycrats. I just don't believe any of them because they all sound to friggin' contrived.

Every one of these wicked whackos in Washington is sold out to such a great degree that all that is left is the choreography of each individual to fulfill the greater purpose of the whole. What happened today? Who knows? I know who knows; the corporate interests that are acting in the role of executive producer to the George and Nancy show. But why direct their actors to play the very uncharacteristic roles played out today? Again, I have no idea. But they do know. And it's all very choreographed.

I guess this is a plea for publicly financed elections as much as it is anything else. Our "representatives" are as meaningless as fangs on a marshmallow otherwise.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dress Rehersal?

The news abounds with stories of Musharraf's declaration of "Emergency Rule" and the United States' condemnation of same.


Let's see: Musharraf is condemning dissent as anti-democratic. He has accused the judges of the Pakistani Supreme Court of being activist. He says he has no choice; terrorists have attacked his initiative for democracy. And so he must crack down.

Boy, thank god nothing like that could occur in the United States.

It occurs to me that people create democracy, not governments. And when your democracy is in trouble, the last place to look for repair of the breach is from your government, because only governments can attack democracy. Get it Bush? Terrorists cannot attack democracy. By definition you traitor.