Friday, December 30, 2005

Boing Boing on Torture Story

Boing Boing has more on the Craig Murray story. Murray's website is back up now.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Uk Torture Memos

Craig Murray, Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, wanted to tell the world that the US and UK were sending prisoners to Uzbekistan to be tortured. His government attempted to shut him up. He sent the documents to a whole bunch of British bloggers, who posted them on their websites, even as his own website was taken down by a "server error".

Daily Kos has the story and the documents.

Monday, December 26, 2005


If you ever wanted to see what's wrong with the Left Behind books without having to wade through them, Slacktivist really sums the whole thing up.
Jesus was always saying this kind of thing: You want to live? Die to yourself. You want to be first? Be last. Want to come out on top? Head for the bottom. Want to win? Surrender.

You want to get saved? Get lost.

Which brings us to what is, for my money, the greatest scene of salvation and redemption in literature:
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll go to Hell" -- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. ... And for a starter I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
This is, of course, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The piece of paper that poor Huck tore up was the letter he had written to turn in his friend, the escaped slave Jim. Huck had been taught, and he sincerely believed, that doing so was his duty as a good Christian (and as a good, law-abiding American). He had been taught, and he sincerely believed, that failing to do so would damn his soul to Hell.

Study that a minute. Turning in Jim would condemn his friend to years of misery in this world, but his own immortal soul would be damned for eternity -- and what are a few mortal years compared with that? Weigh such a choice on the scales that L&J use in Left Behind and Huck's choice is clear. But that is not the choice he makes.

"All right, then, I'll go to Hell!" he says. And the angels in heaven rejoice.

Huck may just be talking to himself there, but I think of that declaration as a prayer -- as, in fact, a prayer pleasing to God.
Go and read the whole article. Many thanks to Pacific Views for pointing this post out to me.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Christmas That Was

We didn't plan on having Christmas this year. No gifts, no plans that involved spending too much money... no nothing. But of course, the family can't quite give up the giving. From Eric's side of the family I got the gift of a (mostly) pain-free Christmas from my sister-in-law, and a gift from Eric's parents AND a book I've been meaning to read (Longitude), and Eric's grandmother gave us a history of the family an autobiography that I'm looking forward to reading. On my side of the family, an older sister couldn't resist getting me (the notorious penguin collector) a candy-pooping penguin to add to the collection. My little sister gave me her first season of MacGyver DVD set. Another sister gave me a foot care set, knowing that I'll be doing more walking this year. And the traditional Frangos made an appearance from my parents.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My Christmas Elf Name

According to the Christmas Elf Name Generator:

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at

Thank Goodness For My Sister-In-Law!

I won't bore you with details, but THANK GOODNESS that my sister-in-law is a nurse and I felt comfortable enough to talk to her today. I'm still in pain, but I can only imagine how much pain I'd be in if I hadn't heeded her expert advice.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Most Outrageous Statements of 2005

Media Matters has the goods. Don't read if you have a weak stomach.

FEMA Turf Wars

This is unbelievable. Is anyone stupid enough to think that a gutted FEMA and a Department of Homeland Security entirely concerned with playing petty political games can protect us? We're less safe now than ever before.

More Wal-Mart Bashing

Stuart Hughes on Wal-Mart.
Average hourly wages at Wal-Mart are $9.68 -- $2.60 below the average for American retail workers.

In 2004, Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott earned $17.5 million in total compensation -- double the average for leading American CEOs.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Political Linkdump

The Seattle Times profiles life of a soldier in Iraq.

King County, Washington, is considering vote-by-mail. I already vote absentee, so I'm for it.

The power of blogs is overstated, as seen in the case of Cory Maye.

There is much much more on Bush's violation of the Constitution of the United States of America, and the breaking of his oath of office. Here's some selected links:As stated on Making Light, there is only one choice left to us if we want to preserve the Constitution and our freedom:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. - The Constitution

The Media Is Broken

A fascinating post on just how the mainstream media has failed to do their job, and what the result has been.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ripping on The Creationists

Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times reacts to the anti-Creationist ruling from a conservative judge in Dover PA.

Got this one via Garrett as well as Eric, who read it in the paper version of the paper.

Ug, the Order of Presidential Succession...

The Order of Presidential Succession doesn't make impeachment very appealling, but it would be worse to let Bush get away with high crimes against the Constitution he is sworn to uphold.

Judge Quits In Protest?

A judge on the court that should have been allowed to review Bush's wiretapping requests has quit, apparently in protest that Bush refused to allow the court, which works in absolute secrecy, to review the spying requests as required by the constitution.

Bush has violated the Constitution of the United States, and he did so unneccessarily, as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court almost always grants requests. Unless, of course, Bush wasn't actually spying to protect the nation... in which case, he's even worse scum and needs to spend even more time in prison.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Don't Shop At Urban Outfitters

Because if you do, you may be accused of shoplifting.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

More on Unconstitutional Wiretaps

As usual, Mark Evanier nails it with one statement:
I think every Republican who wants to defend Bush on this one should be forced to utter the sentence, "I would not hesitate to see President Hillary Clinton have the same authority."
The rest of his comment is worth reading too, but that bit really sums it all up.

Another good statement appears on Huffington Post, in an article by David Sirota:
[T]his isn't a question of whether America supports domestic surveillance operations against terrorists or not. This is a question of whether America supports those operations without requiring a warrant.

The truth is, domestic surveillance operations happen all the time. They are such a part of our culture, they are a regular topic of television shows and movies (think Serpico or Stakeout). But they are also governed by the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment, which explicitly protects citizens against "unreasonable search and seizures" and requires the executive branch to obtain a warrant from the objective judiciary branch in order to do surveillance operations.

So the question reporters should be asking the White House isn't why the president thinks there should be domestic efforts to track and stop terrorists. The vast majority of Americans think that. The question reporters should be asking is "Why did the President order domestic surveillance operations without obtaining constitutionally-required warrants?" That is behavior that most Americans who believe in the Constitution likely do not support at all.
Exactly. There are perfectly legal, constitutional ways to spy on people who might really be a danger to the nation. The only reason a president would have to get rid of those requirements, to allow wiretaps and spying contrary to the law of the land, is to spy on people who aren't really a danger to the nation, only a danger to his own political goals.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Don't Do Research

Do ever do research using primary sources, because it might land you in trouble with Homeland Security.

Update: This story may be a hoax or misrepresentation, thank goodness. Follow the debate at Boing Boing.

Bush Confesses to Unconstitutional Act

Bush admitted it, that he committed an unconstitutional act. This amounts to treason.

The question now is whether or not we, as a people, are going to allow our government to move yet closer to the dictatorship that Bush stated he wanted five years ago (George Bush: "If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator." December 18, 2000), or if we'll impeach the traitor and send him to prison where he belongs.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Just Do It?

Crooks and Liars has video of Jack Cafferty on CNN running down a list of the crimes of the Bush Administration, finishing with the unconstitutional acts of spying on American citizens that Bush secretly authorized after 9/11.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Oh Man

This story makes me ill. I can't help but hope that the story turns out to be false, that the officers really didn't accept bribes. I don't want to believe that our soldiers, any of our soldiers, could possibly commit these kind of crimes. I just hope that the companies who bribed them are punished even more severely.

Miami Herald Reports Diebold Tests

The Miami Herald reports on the Diebold tests done in Florida the other day. The ones that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's easy to change tallies on Diebold machines, like the ones used in Ohio, the state that Diebold was committed to delivering to Bush.

Bill O'Reilly Makes Up Another Outrage

Think Progress reports that good ol' Falafel is at it again, making up more "attacks" from non-existent Christmas haters in his mythical "War on Christmas". In this case, the flap is over a song in a play about Christmas that uses the tune of Silent Night to tell the sad tale of a lonely Christmas tree.

Now, I'm wondering how exactly a play ABOUT CHRISTMAS can possibly be an attack on Christmas? Apparently, Falafel is so desperate for evidence of his made-up war that he'll take anything, even when it goes against all sense, common or not.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

CEO Quits Diebold

CEO Quits Diebold. Maybe they'll admit that their voting machines are crap and start fixing the problems now. And maybe pigs will fly.

Update: Yes, this is the same guy that promised (and succeeded) to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush.

In addition, Black Box Voting has an article about how easy it is to hack Diebold voting machines.
Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, together with Black Box Voting, demonstrated that Diebold made misrepresentations to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the "memory card" (the credit-card-sized ballot box used by computerized voting machines).

A test election was run in Leon County [Florida] on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thompson and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked.

At the beginning of the test election the memory card programmed by Harri Hursti was inserted into an Optical Scan Diebold voting machine. A "zero report" was run indicating zero votes on the memory card. In fact, however, Hursti had pre-loaded the memory card with plus and minus votes.

The eight ballots were run through the optical scan machine. The standard Diebold-supplied "ender card" was run through as is normal procedure ending the election. A results tape was run from the voting machine.

Correct results should have been: Yes:2 ; No:6

However, just as Hursti had planned, the results tape read: Yes:7 ; No:1

The results were then uploaded from the optical scan voting machine into the GEMS central tabulator, a step cited by Diebold as a protection against memory card hacking. The central tabulator is the "mother ship" that pulls in all votes from voting machines. However, the GEMS central tabulator failed to notice that the voting machines had been hacked.

The results in the central tabulator read:

Yes:7 ; No:1


The Hursti Hack requires a moderate level of inside access. It is, however, accomplished without being given any password and with the same level of access given thousands of poll workers across the USA.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another Bush Lie

Bush swore he would do everything to help the victims of Katrina. Well, they are so desperate for the promised help that they are taking out ads to remind Congress that they still need help.

More compassionate conservatism for you. Let's spend billions on Iraq and ignore our own people.

Bill O'Reilly Justs Makes Stuff Up

According to Wonkette, Bill O'Reilly made a claim that students at a school weren't even allowed to wear red or green because of the "War on Christmas". But, like the war itself, it was just a story fabricated to convince people that Bill isn't lying about the "War on Christmas". Which, come to think of it, is ever so slightly ironic.

According to Media Matters, Falafel also lied about Christmas stamps and a whole town that he claimed didn't allow red and green clothing. Wow, I'm beginning to see a pattern here! Falafel O'Reilly pretends there is a "War on Christmas", then makes up evidence to support his position. Pretty much describes his regular methods.

Monday, December 12, 2005

One Sane Man

An Eloquent Argument against the Death Penalty.
"The death penalty does not deter and it does not cure...
...Even if I were positive that we were executing only guilty people, I'd be against the death penalty."
Go read it. And think about it.


Via Gallimaufry, Tell Everyone.

Cory Maye is on death row, despite the fact that his was a clear case of self-defense.
Let's summarize: Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frigthened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record, and police rather tellingly changed their story about drugs (rather, traces of drugs) in his possession at the time of the raid.
When the righty-leaning site Instapundit and a left-leaning site like Pandagon both agree on something, it's worth shouting it out. DON'T LET MISSISSIPPI KILL CORY MAYE FOR LEGALLY DEFENDING HIMSELF!!!


Planespotters keeping tabs on the CIA, entirely by accident.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More Smoke

Bus shelters and smoking. Ah, another pet peeve of mine. I used to wait at bus shelters, and there would always be somebody smoking in them, leaving me to stand out in the rain if I wanted to be able to breathe. I also had trouble with one guy who noticed that I was standing away from the smoke and thought it was funny to blow smoke in my face. This was in downtown Seattle, and it made me change my bus stop. Before I did that, I nearly decked the guy a couple of times, and wondered if the courts would accept "he blew smoke in my face" as a justifiable reason for hitting him. I didn't think they would, although I felt like I was being assaulted every time he did it.

Again, I want to emphasize that most smokers aren't like that idiot. For every nasty in-your-face smoker, there were a dozen in the background peacefully trying to keep to themselves. As usual, it's the few idiots who ruin everything for the smart folks.

Of course, in the meantime, there's an area burn ban because of stagnant air. We're in one of those rare winter holding patterns... it's cold, but the sun is out.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More on Smoking Ban

More smoker stories from the Seattle Times and the Seattle P.I. In short, most folks are taking it well, and common sense is mostly the rule. Eric has said that after a couple of months, once we know bowling alleys are cleaned out a bit, maybe we'll go bowling, a sport both of us enjoy except for the fact that you couldn't find a bowling alley that didn't smell like an ashtray.

Some Give Their All

After reading this, the chickenhawks whiny excuses as to why they won't go fight in a war they support ring even more hollow. A single mother, 20 years out of the military, is giving up a good job, leaving her son alone, to fight for our country... while the sickening republican cowards who support the war sit in their cozy computer rooms cheerleading our troops to their deaths.

Political Joke

"Polls show if the election was held today, DeLay would lose to any unnamed Democrat... See that's the problem with Democrats: they do great until they name a candidate." -Jay Leno

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Statements on the War

A US Army major on the war: "Well, I think here, lately, the... it's going a lot better; I think we're beginning to win the people over; our operations are going better."

The US President on the war: "In some phases the military program has been quite successful. There is great difficulty, however, in fighting a guerrilla war... we don't see the end of the tunnel; but, I must say, I don't think it's darker than it was a year ago -- in some ways, lighter."

A US General on the war: "We are here to emphasize that the United States will maintain its interest and its presence in your country. There is no question whatsoever of our abandoning that interest. We'll stay for as long as it takes."

The Vice President on the war: "And may I say that despite public opinion polls -- none of which may I say have ever been friendly toward a nation's commitment in battle -- despite criticism, despite understandable impatience, we mean to stick it out, until aggression is turned back and until a just and honorable peace can be achieved, until the job is done. That is the policy of the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States and the Congress of the United States. So let people understand that."

More here.

Republican Leader Defends Forced Abortions

What a headline, eh? Well, it's apparently true. DeLay supported and defended a sweatshop in the Marianas islands that, along with 90 hour work-weeks and third world wages, supplied beatings and forced abortions to its workers. But DeLay got a bunch of money and a nice trip from Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist and apparently close friend, to say that everything was peachy-keen in the Marianas and in that sweatshop in particular. And to stop a law that would have forced the sweatshop to treat its workers like humans instead of slaves. DeLay took the money.

Smoke-Filled Entry

The state smoking ban went into effect at midnight last night. The Seattle Times and The Seattle P.I. both cover the story.

I'm still of two minds about the ban, as I don't think it's really fair to make it impossible for smokers to go out and enjoy themselves at all, but as a non-smoker who gets really sick with just a bit of cigarette smoke I'm glad I won't have to worry about it much longer. Even when I went out of my way to avoid places that allowed smoking, there were always a few exceptions that made it a problem.

I've known a lot of smokers who were great about keeping their smoke away from non-smokers... in fact, considerate smokers make up the vast majority of smokers I've known. It was always the few that didn't care, the ones who had the "it's legal, so just deal with it" attitude, that caused all the problems. Like the dopes who decided that smoking outside my dorm room, the one that had vents in the door that couldn't be closed all the way, was a great idea even after I told them it was a problem (my roommate reportedly solved the problem with a bucket of water, but I wasn't there). Or the complete morons who sucked in a big cloud of smoke just before they got on the city bus, then exhaled it as soon as they sat down, making sure that all the other riders had to endure the stink for most of the trip. Of course, if you could get rid of the inconsiderate portion of the population, not just the smokers, the world would be a much nicer place. But since smoking creates serious health problems, I guess I support laws to keep the handful of morons from harming the rest of us. I just wish it didn't punish all the smart folks too.

In another story, The Westin has gone smoke-free in all hotels in its chain. I'll keep that in mind, because I'd rather spend a night in a smoke-free room anytime, and if the whole hotel is smoke-free, then the chances are much better of getting a room that doesn't have that distinctive stench.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Falafel O'Lielly is at it Again

"They try to silence me. They want me fired -- because I said that San Francisco's vote was a disgrace to ban military recruiting. I was supposed to get fired for that opinion." - Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly

No, Bill, we want you fired because you INVITED TERRORISTS TO ATTACK SAN FRANCISCO. You said, to Al Qaeda, and I quote: "You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." THAT is why we think you should be fired from your job and shunned by every decent human being for the rest of your life. Go hang out with your Al Qaeda buddies. The ones you invited to attack San Francisco on a national TV show.

What a complete and utter scumbag. I really hope he someday gets his comeuppance.

In Memory

FilkerTom Reminds Us.

Poor Writing

Sometimes we rush into writing a blog entry, excited by the thoughts bouncing around in our heads. Back before the 'net, those bouncy thoughts would have been restricted to either personal letters or notes that would be reread and edited before being seen by many eyes. Nowadays, incomplete thoughts can make national headlines, as seen by the sudden blooming of political blogging and its use (and misuse by plagiarism) by the mainstream media.

Yesterday I had a bouncy thought that made it to this blog, and because it was incomplete, I miswrote it. I didn't make the distinction between what triggered the thought and what I was really talking about clear enough. To my immense surprise, the author of the book that triggered the thought read the entry (and I thought nobody actually read this blog) and took offense. It was my mistake. I didn't make myself clear enough.

More than half the reason I blog at all is to improve my writing and communication skills. I'm sorry I screwed up this time, and I'll try harder to avoid the problem next time. I already see two or three ways I could've written the note to make it clear, I just wish they'd occurred to me at the time of writing and not after I'd irritated another writer with my carelessness. As I said in the comment response to the author, the immediacy of blogs are both the fun and the danger of blogging.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I've just started reading 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and I'm well and truly hooked by the narrative. The book jumps around a lot, but I think it holds together well for the purposes of the author. This is less a book about what America was like than a book about how we came to the new conclusions and why they differ from what we've been taught.

Anyway, while reading it I naturally started thinking about my own upbringing and The Book of Mormon. Having been raised with a particular viewpoint of the Americas, one that said they were a cultured people with massive empires, makes the "revelations" in 1491 less of a shock than they might be to some. I don't know. But I was amused when I hit the section of the book in which the author, Mann, discusses theories of where the Native Americans originally came from and he listed the Book of Mormon in the "Lost Tribes of Israel" section. I'm less than a third into the book, so I don't know if it'll come up again. But I thought I would clear up a very common misconception.

Nowhere in the entire Book of Mormon does it say that all the people living in America were descended from the single group that the book starts off with. In fact, at least two other groups are mentioned, who arrived in the Americas at different times and through different routes. Other groups may have been around that the narrators never ran into. In addition, all the action in the Book of Mormon takes place in a historically short amount of time well before the cultures that most folks think about (Inca, Aztec) even existed, and most of it in a fairly limited geographical area. Dismissing the whole book as historically inaccurate because it doesn't paint a full picture of the Americas would be a bit like dismissing the account of some small germanic tribe because they didn't paint a full picture of Europe.

That said, the Book of Mormon is not a history book, it's a piece of scripture and is meant to be taken as such. But I've read nothing in 1491 that makes the stories in the Book of Mormon any less likely. If anything, 1491 so far seems to make them more likely. Your mileage will no doubt vary on the issue... but it does irritate me when people make sweeping generalizations about a book, in this case the Book of Mormon, that they probably have never bothered to read.

Update: I just want to make it absolutely clear that I don't think that 1491 is making any generalizations about the Book of Mormon. Reading 1491 triggered thoughts of those generalizations, but was not the source. Charles Mann was absolutely correct in his mention of the Book of Mormon, and referenced it correctly. He was not the person I was referring to when I mentioned being irritated. Quite the opposite. 1491 is a great read, and has made me think a lot. It's one of those rare books that triggers thoughts and makes connections while you read it. The mention sparked this post, and the book so far has helped crystalize my thoughts on the Book of Mormon. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing.

Happy Birthday Grandpa Paul!

Ninety-One years young!

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Beautiful Article

From the mother of a soldier serving in Iraq. There isn't a whiff of politics in this one, so just go read it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Political Thoughts

FilkerTom links to a frightening opinion by Samuel Alito. See, Alito believes that if a kid is fleeing the scene of a crime, then it's ok to shoot the kid in the head without finding out first if the kid was the criminal. Shoot first, ask questions later? Is this really what we want in a Supreme Court Justice?

Government Accountability Office indicates that elections were tainted. The "GAO study makes it clear that no bank, grocery store or mom & pop chop shop would dare operate its business on a computer system as flimsy, fragile and easily manipulated as the one on which the 2004 election turned." Our votes are less important to us than our groceries. You might disagree with the Government Accountability Office's report, but at least read it before you dismiss it.

Very strange opinion column in the Seattle Times from former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, who favors the legalization of all drugs for the same reason I favor keeping abortion legal: criminalizing it doesn't stop the problem, it just makes it worse. I've never considered putting my opinion on abortion into another context, but Stamper just did it for me. I have a lot to think about.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Political Linkdump

I started reading this article because of the link to hybrid cars, and found it fascinating enough to read to the end.

"Christian" textbooks call Thomas Jefferson an AntiChrist... And they wonder why they don't get credits for the courses at any normal school? If you haven't been taught history, literature, or science, don't expect to get into college.

Another fascinating article that goes into mail delivery on Sunday.

This particular Silver Lining makes me sick to my stomach. Start a war, win medals in the Paralympics.

As If I Needed Another Reason To Hate Wal-Mart...

Because he was black.

Snow in the Morning

Wow. I got up this morning, could hear what sounded like rain on the roof, and expected to look out and see our usual grey and green. But when I came out into the living room, Eric said it was snowing. And wow, did it snow.

Doesn't look like the roads are bad, it's the slush type of snow, not the frozen type. But it's very pretty in the trees lawns.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Snow Away

Very little, if any, snow fell during the night here. And it didn't freeze, either, which was a worry. The result was a morning with bare and wet streets and a light dusting of snow on the trees and lawns. It's been melting ever since, to the point where there's just not much left.

The clouds continue to threaten, but we haven't had any actual rain or snow yet today. The weather reports I look at all have completely different outlooks, so it's safe to say that nobody knows what's going to happen next, and predictions are almost useless.

I predict rain. That's the safest prediction in Seattle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Political Linkdump

Ah, Pal Dorian on personal responsibility

FilkerTom on a response to Shrubya's speech. Another view here.

So, let's see... Sotelo swore, under penalty of perjury, that the voters she challenged were illegally registered AND that she had personal knowledge of that fact for each and every challenged voter. Of the 190 challenged voters who actually voted, 133 of those challenges, that Sotelo SWORE UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY she was certain were legit challenges, were tossed out. That's a really bad percentage for a person who SWORE UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY. In fact, apparently she has no knowledge at all if her personal knowledge is so bad. Sotelo deserves a jail sentence for her perjury.

Unfortunately, her fellow Republican also has no respect for the law. Norm Maleng says he won't press charges, despite plenty of evidence of perjury and voter intimidation. The rot in the Republican party runs deep.

A bit about Diebold, the voter fraud machine company, at Slashdot.

If your school refuses to teach science, history, or literature, don't expect to get into college. Sheesh. Why would a Creationist idiot want to go the University of California, anyway? Go to Bob Jones, where you will continue to not learn anything.

Walgreens has just become a good place to shop in my book. Finally a company that actually punishes someone for not doing their job.

Your tax dollars are paying for Christian Evangelicalizing on high school campuses, in the guise of anti-drug funding.

Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly tells his viewer the real meaning of Christmas: "Without Christmas, most American businesses would be far less profitable." He knows this full well, as he is selling Christmas Ornaments on his website (formerly called holiday ornaments, until bloggers pointed out the hypocrisy).

Speaking of Falafel O'Reilly, he has unveiled his enemies list. Pathetic. He can't even do an enemies list right.

Shrubya says no pullout from Iraq without victory. Uh. Right. What is the definition of "victory"? His latest plan is as vague and useless as... well, whatever vague and useless plan his handlers concocted to invade Iraq in the first place. In the meantime, the war against terrorism is neglected and the murderer responsible for 9/11 is still alive and laughing at us. Yeah, you're doing a heck of a job, Shrubya.

Wonkette gives us Midshipmen waiting for Shrubya. *yawn*

Weather or Not...

It's snowing. Half-hearted flakes coming down as if they are uncertain. Just enough to see, but so little that it's utterly unimpressive. I suspect it will turn into rain soon enough.

Update: half an hour later it's really coming down. It looks like a real snowfall. I'm enjoying the view. It's not yet sticking to the grass, much less the roads.

Update: Noon, and the snow is beginning to just stick to the front lawn. The temperature has dropped since I last went out, too, it's noticable. No sign that the streets are going to get covered. I hope it doesn't get any worse than this.

Update: About 1:20pm, the snow is sticking to everything except the road, and is coming down very prettily. I went out to get the mail and slid down the lawn, barely keeping on my feet. The mailman was still at our box and when I looked up after making it to the street still on my feet, his mouth was open in surprise. Going back to the house, I went up the relatively safe driveway instead of risking the lawn again.

Update: 2pm, it's sticking to the roads now, and has shown no sign of letting up so far. The weather dude on NWCN keeps saying it's only raining up here... hmmm. The road outside our house is covered in a thin layer of snow, and I'm worried about what will happen when Eric tries to come home over Nike hill, the biggest hill in Bothell. Today it one of those days when it's better to just use the freeway and deal with getting in the middle of the traffic.

For the heckuvit, I downloaded WinSnow and put it on my desktop. There's also Mac and Linux versions, if you feel like having a little snow on your computer. The snow works just fine, if a bit slowly, without registering.

Snow no Snow?

This article made me laugh aloud. Well, the headline, at least. After the city prepares for the first significant snowfall and it doesn't hit, the whole city does this sort of "oh, we were bamboozled by the weathermen" thing and laughs it off. If we'd really had a major snowfall, the same folks would be complaining that there wasn't enough warning. Heh.

I just went outside to smell the air, and it smells a bit like snow but mostly rain. I suspect if we get any snow up here, it'll be the pretty flakes that melt as soon as they hit the ground. More likely, we'll get rain. But then, I'm really bad at predicting the weather, so don't listen to me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Wow... I was wrong... sort of...

Apparently the Seahawks should've won by a lot more than a field goal. Two touchdown catches by the Giants, both of which were challenged at the time, were ruled as incomplete by the NFL after further review. While the touchdowns, and the final score, stand... this justifies Seahawks coach Holmgren's anger at the calls at the time.

I saw both the plays (endlessly replayed for TV viewers), and I thought that one of them was definitely not a catch, but the second was too close to call.

Snowless in Seattle

Well, the area got some snow, but not enough to shut us down. We require at least an inch, maybe two, and freezing temperatures before we shut the city down. Some areas around Seattle, mostly on higher elevations, had as much as a half-inch. Not enough.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Daily Politics Dumpnote

Ug. A member of the House of Representatives pleads guilty to "conspiracy and tax charges", including taking bribes. More here. Taking bribes on defense contracts during war time... that's a pretty significant crime. The congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, resigned after admitting his guilt. While I condemn his crimes, he's shown a lot of spine by confessing and resigning. Apparently he has also asked to serve a prison term and wants to devote the rest of his life (he's 65) to making amends.

Perhaps he can start by telling who else was getting bribes from MZM. It's clear that he wasn't the only bribed official. UPDATE: Apparently Cunningham is sincere, because he is going to cooperate in the on-going investigation. Good on him.

Death before more dishonour?

Atrios, one of the top political bloggers, claims that blogs weren't significant in the decline of mainstream media. I don't have much of an opinion, except to note that mainstream news really has gone down the toilet. You rarely see a well-researched article or TV segment anymore. It's all about ratings, and not at all about Truth.

Silly headline from Wonkette. Heh.

More insanity.

MetaFilter links to the Bush Approval Rating Map. In short, he's not doing too well in the ratings. Somehow the truth about the lies leading up to the Iraq war have gotten through to the average person, and more and more of them realize just how much Bush has screwed over this country. Years after 9/11, and the man responsible is still out there... because Bush was more concerned with going after Iraq's oil than actually fighting terrorism.


There's a snow advisory in the Seattle area, pretty much all over King County. I'm not sure I really believe we'll get any, but I'm usually wrong when it has to do with the weather. And also, Eric has been having nosebleeds lately, which I usually associate with a change in the weather... so maybe there is something to these snow warnings.

In any case, we don't know what the snow system is at Eric's new school, so I hope he finds out today just in case.

Why am I worried? Well, see, in Seattle we have these things we call "hills" that, if you go to the East Coast the folks there call "mountains". An Aside: For people in the Pacific Northwest, it isn't a "mountain" unless it has snow on it year 'round. And down in the "flat" areas where most of the people live around Seattle, we have hills that are steep enough to scare out-of-towners on a clear and dry day. When you cover such hills with ice and snow, then toss in a populace that really isn't used to driving in snow at all (much less on hills), you get a situation that tends to shut down the entire area completely. And if you are one of the few who does have a clue about driving in the snow, it isn't going to help you much. You are likely to get sideswiped by one of the folks who doesn't know anything about snow driving. Better to stay at home than risk an accident.

Sunday, November 27, 2005


I try to watch the Seahawks games. I'm not nearly as passionate about the NFL as I am about baseball, but I do enjoy watching all the tight ends running around. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. So I caught today's game, from start to finish.

If there was ever a game that the Seahawks did not deserve to win, this was it. Now, admittedly, the Giants didn't deserve a win either... in fact, this would be one game I'd give both teams a loss on. The Seahawks finally won 24-21 in overtime after the kicker for the Giants missed three straight field goals, two of which weren't even at extreme distances for the NFL. The Seahawks, in the meantime, blew chance after chance and allowed the Giants to tie the game with a two point conversion.

Yeah, both teams deserve a loss for this week, but the Seahawks got a win and go to 9-2 for the season and the top of the NFC. Next week: Monday night football.

A Thanksgiving Memory

I have a lot of great memories of Thanksgiving, a holiday that was always marked by great food and a feeling of happiness in my house.

But it wasn't anywhere near my house where my favorite Thanksgiving memory happened.

I don't remember her name. But she belonged to our church and we all heard the story of how she'd lost her job and had a couple young kids and was barely managing to pay the rent on the small house she was renting in downtown Renton. While she was getting back on her feet, she definitely was going to have a sparse Thanksgiving, with no traditional food for herself or her kids.

My class in Sunday School discussed the situation, and our teacher suggested we help out, so we found folks to donate a small turkey and all the other makings of a good Thanksgiving dinner, including all the ingredients for dessert. We also tossed in other staples for later use, I seem to recall. We put it all in a very large box, then tried to decide how to deliver it.

None of us wanted to be praised, so we decided to leave it on her porch. But the neighborhood! We thought it would be best if she found it right away. So we decided to leave it on her porch and ring the doorbell and run. Yeah, it was silly, but we were silly teenagers.

Two of us got the box to the porch that night before Thanksgiving, and then I was picked to knock on the door because I boasted that I could do it without getting caught. The token adult driving the car had simply shook her head in amusement and said nothing.

As soon as everyone else was safely in the car, I pounded the door then jumped into the bushes at the side of the porch and raced to the corner. The car met me there, and I tumbled in as we drove off. I had heard the door open as I ran across the lawn.

But we had a distinct sense of incompleteness, so the driver drove around the block so we could check to see if the box was picked up. It was, and best of all, we could see into the window -- and burned into my memory forever is the image of the mother standing in the window, looking down at the box on a table in front of her, pulling out the items to look, while the kids jumped up and down in excitement around her. I will never, for as long as I live, forget the expression of wonder on her face. It was hope, and gratitude, and joy.

And she didn't have to bow down and thank anyone, didn't have to humble herself to us. At that moment she returned my door pounding and goofy run a millionfold. I daresay I got much more out of it than she did. Giving often works that way.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Judges are supposed to be non-partisan. They are supposed to follow the laws, not the parties. So why has a GOP PAC been formed to elect right-wing judges in the state of Washington? And it's being run by a politician that I've met and hated since the day I met him, former Senator Slade "Skeletor" Gorton. I personally will not vote for any judge who takes money from a partisan group, whether it be conservatives or liberals. Partisan bickering should NOT have a place in the judicial system, and any judge who bows to a party isn't a judge I want on the bench.

This letter is just stupid. "We, as Members of Congress," commenting on a company's hiring practices? Stupid, stupid, stupid. They can write in as readers, but this is over-the-top.

Friday, November 25, 2005

More Opinionated Crap

A nice round-up of the illegal challenges by GOP thug Sotelo.

If you live in King County, remember to sign the petition to get Sotelo prosecuted for her crimes.

And, yes, she committed crimes. See the law where it says: "The person filing the challenge must furnish the address at which the challenged voter actually resides." Sotelo not only didn't provide any actual addresses at all, she altered the form so it looked like she didn't have to.

In addition, she signed each form, under penalty of perjury (gross misdemeanor), and attested that she had personal knowledge of each and every challenged voter. She has made it clear during the hearings that she has NO KNOWLEDGE AT ALL about any of the voters she challenged, and she blamed the "volunteers" that gathered the information for her. But she's the one who signed those forms, and the one who should go to jail for lying.

A celebrity showed up for the challenges to argue that he has a right to privacy, and therefore a legal right to register to vote at a PO Box. Kim Thayil, of Soundgarden, believes that the law's confidentiality clause covers celebrities. We'll see if the Canvass Board agrees with him on Monday.

A woman in Denver was arrested for refusing to show ID when she wasn't legally obligated to show ID. This country is getting more and more like a bad Nazi movie "Papers, Please!" every freakin' day.

This is a Joke. It has to be. No one in their right mind would hire someone like Brown to teach disaster preparedness. His incompetence resulted in thousands of deaths. It's got to be a joke.

KansasU is rebelling against the stupidity: Intelligent Design will be taught as mythology. Via Querldox.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

What Am I Thankful For?

  • I'm thankful for my husband, Eric, and the wonderful years we've had together.

  • I'm thankful for my family. There's a lot of them, they know who they are. I'm thankful for all of them. I've been very lucky in the family I was born into, and the family I married into.

  • I'm thankful for my house, my car, my books, my comics, my Lego, and everything else material I have at the moment. They make life fun and comfortable.

  • I'm thankful for the friends I've met over the years, including all the old friends I've never met because of the internet.

  • I'm thankful for the internet.

  • I'm thankful for people who put up neat tutorials and guides on the internet, allowing me to learn fantastic new skills while sitting at home.

  • I'm thankful for people who understand obsession, and allow me to indulge in my harmless obsession for Aquaman without thinking I'm a loon.

  • I'm thankful for free speech. I'm glad that the government is not allowed to shut me down just for stating an opinion.

  • I'm thankful for retailers who wait until after Thanksgiving to start putting up Christmas stuff, instead of starting Christmas decorations before Hallowe'en. Along the same lines, I'm thankful for people who wait until the end of December (or even January) before starting to post "year in review" articles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Throw 'er in Jail

Two state senators are introducing a bill that would make it illegal to introduce voter challenges right before the election. In short, it's complete common sense, so you know state Rethuglican leader Chris Vance will whine that it's unfair or something.

Here's another report from the Canvassing Board about Soleto's perjury, and her absolute unwillingness to defend her illegal antics. Soleto didn't even bother to fill out the whole challenge form. It was a blatant act of voter intimidation.

If you live in King County, Washington, and are as outraged by Sotelo's perjury and voter intimidation as I am, sign the petition to Norm Maleng asking that Sotelo be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. One thousand, nine hundred and forty-four counts of perjury, a gross misdemeanor in Washington according to RCW 9A.72.040.

And here's your bizarre political story of the day. I mean, c'mon, the Mirror? But then... why is Blair invoking the Official Secrets Act?

A local school district has banned a book because characters apparently meet via internet chatrooms. Um. Ok. I just want to point out that I met Eric, my husband of over a decade, through the 'net. The banning couldn't possibly be more because the book is about gay teens, now, could it? I just checked the book out from the library. I prefer to read for myself.

Yet another request for ranked balloting in Washington. I'm all for it, if it can be implemented.

Decertified Diebold voting machines in California are being stealth recertified by republicans. The voting machines do not meet minimum state standards, which include a human-readable paper trail, which is why they were decertified in the first place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Cannot Keep Back My Opinions...

"Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country" - Patrick Henry

I didn't think I agreed with John Murtha's proposal until I read what he actually meant. This is a considerably better plan than just about any I've seen so far. Now if only the Republicans had actually brought Murtha's idea to vote, instead of a stupid neocon parody of it, we might already be on our way to fixing the mess in Iraq. Via Mark Evanier.

Washblog is following the canvassing board cases of voters that the GOP attempted to disenfranchise right before the election. Again, if the GOP was serious about "cleaning up the rolls", they would have turned in their complaints months ago to give people time to fix honest mistakes before the election, and they wouldn't have illegally altered the reporting form so they didn't have to do all their research. Soleto is guilty of perjury and ought to tossed in jail and fined heavily.

Variety reports that Frontline is showing a new and apparently damning look at what happened in New Orleans. The documentary airs tonight, along with a NOVA documentary about the science of the storm.

Forty-Two years. Wow.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wal-Mart = Scumbags

Wal-Mart. It's a corporation that exudes corruption. It mistreats and underpays its employees, relying on the government to provide the basic health benefits to them instead of doing so itself. It supports slave labor in third-world countries. It's low prices are a sham, disguising the rot that it brings into a community.

And over on the Huffington Post, it's "bash Wal-Mart". Wal-Mart's criminal activities, anti-Wal-Mart rallies, Corporate Ten Commandments, The Film, The Filmmaker, Wal-Mart slaves in China, Wal-Mart fights back, Patriotism is questioned, How we pay for Wal-Mart, and Illegal Workers in Wal-Mart. I'm sure there's plenty more, but frankly, this is more than enough to get any intelligent person to never set foot in Wal-Mart ever again.

For a round-up and current news about Wal-Mart's crimes, here's the link.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quote of the Day

"I think it's a healthy thing in a democracy to have people disagreeing, but if you're screaming or demonizing, then the very people you want to reach -- which is those who don't agree with you -- can't hear you."

-- Bill Clinton

This is why the two sides may never come together. The Left thinks the crimes of the neocons are so incredibly horrible that they can't help but demonize, and the Right just screams the same thing over and over and over again. Neither side will ever hear the other.

Sunday Funnies

The BBC provides video of an idiot attempting to get away from people asking hard questions.

Political Garbage

Popular Science recently released its annual list of the ten worst jobs in science. Take a look at what came in at number three. Via Hubby-Eric

More on Ohio Vote Fraud.

For the one or two people who don't understand what Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly said that was so bad: "if Al Qaeda comes in here [San Francisco] and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." O'Reilly is inciting terrorists to come to the United States and blow up a specific building. That is treason. At the absolute least, he should lose his job. At the most, he should be sent to Gitmo to find out what he knows about Al Qaeda's threats against the Coit Tower.

And, for the brain-impaired, I'm as serious about what to do with O'Reilly as he was about what to do to San Francisco.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Political Garbage Again

KnightRidder weighs in on Bush's tendency to rewrite history to his liking.

Pelosi tries to explain why "Falafel" O’Reilly's incitement to terrorists was wrong to a dense conservative commentator. Like Pelosi, I wonder why O’Reilly hasn't been fired for his attempt to get terrorists to attack a city that he hates because he can't stand democracy.

John Murtha's statement. I don't agree with everything he says, but he says it with a great deal of moral authority. You can watch the video here.

A thread on MetaFilter about the Conservative Media, and how one company controls a lot of our media outlets.

And now we know where some of the money meant to rebuild Iraq was actually spent.

Happy Birthday Inger!

Happy birthday Inger! See you tonight!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Political Garbage

I like this political rant by Mark Evanier mostly for the creative ways he described Cheney's approval ratings.

Now we know why the oil execs weren't sworn in. The only question that remains is, if they blatantly lie about something that was part of the public record, then what else are they lying about?

More from the Times on the state Rethuglican party's dirty trick. Again, I don't have a problem with the challenges, but the timing and the fact that they didn't double-check the list before submitting it (under penalty of perjury no less!) are both indications that they aren't trying to clean up voting rolls as much as deny people the right to vote. I agree with challenged voter Raymond Doyle. Soleto committed perjury and belongs in jail.

I debated a long time whether or not to link to this post. And frankly, I have no words to describe my feelings about it. I did not, and will not, watch the video. I don't have the stomach for it. Again, Pogo is proven right: "We have met the enemy... and he is us".

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Race for the Cure

Eric and I have decided that, barring any unforseen circumstances, we're going to do the Race for the Cure next June. The race itself is June 17th, and registration isn't until January. As soon as I've registered, I'll put a little donation link up so if you feel like contributing a fiver or two, you can.

This gives me a goal to work towards. The race is 5K, about 3 miles, and isn't a tough walk if the last one is any indication. Instead of working on endurance, I'll be trying to increase my pace so I can keep up with Eric. It's definitely more my distance than the 3-Day.

Political Garbage

Garrett Fitzgerald reminds us why we don't allow Supertankers in Puget Sound, and urges us to help keep it that way.

John McCain, who's experience in this particular matter cannot be doubted, explains why the United States should never use torture.
"But every one of us—every single one of us—knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or approving such mistreatment of them. That faith was indispensable not only to our survival, but to our attempts to return home with honor. For without our honor, our homecoming would have had little value to us."
Read it.

I'm not shrill enough to make Bill O’Reilly's enemies list, but I would be proud to be on the enemies list of a man who incites terrorists to attack the United States.

Ok, this is being reported on left-wing political blogs as having originated from right-wing political blogs. But why would chickenhawks want to suggest that Shrubya is going nuts? This story doesn't add up... chuck it in the bin.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Pet Peeve...

If your religion doesn't allow you to do your job, you should find another career. If your religion says you cannot kill animals, you don't work in a slaughterhouse. If your religion says you can't give people certain medicines, you do not work in a pharmacy.

But Target disagrees. They are allowing their pharmacists to not do their jobs. This is a very very good reason to never visit Target again.

It's very simple. If someone has a prescription from a doctor, it is the pharmacist's job to fill that prescription. If the pharmacist cannot do that job, they need to find another job that doesn't hurt people when they refuse to do it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Historical Note (unless it's A Historical Note...)

On this day in 1889, 116 years ago, the Territory of Washington became the State of Washington. I thought I'd mention that, since Laura and I live in the state...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Washington State Smoking Ban

This article actually made me feel a bit better about the smoking ban that just passed in Washington.

I was a little worried that it went too far in stating that smokers must be 25 feet from any opening in a building, but this statement: "Valdez said the 25-foot rule is intended to prevent smoke from entering indoor spaces, as well as keeping entrances and exits clear of smoke. Enforcement will take that intent into account, he said." makes it a little more clear. As long as the smoke isn't entering the building, smokers should be ok.

The article also indicates that us nonsmokers are going to be expected to keep enforcement going: "Enforcement of the law will be driven by people who complain to the health department about smoking taking place illegally," so if there is some dive somewhere that everybody smokes at and nobody complains, they'll get along ok.

I am a little irritated that the fine goes to the business owner, and not to the smoker, but it would be pretty hard to get at individual scofflaws, I guess. I'd much rather see the smoker be fined for lighting up. Especially when you consider that (in my experience, at least) 90% or more of all smokers are considerate folks who try to keep their smoke away from people who don't like it. It's that handful of inconsiderates who make these laws happen. And they are the ones who ought to be punished.

The ban goes into effect on December 8th. After that, no smoking in any place of business in Washington State.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Good News!

Apparently, the reThuglican woman who signed all the challenge letters in a dirty attempt to keep democrats from voting can be charged with a count of perjury for EVERY SINGLE LETTER that turns out to be false. As it appears now that a majority of the letters were false, Lori D. Sotelo might get put away in jail for a long time, if there is any justice in the world.

If the republicans were serious about cleaning up the voter rolls, they would do their research. Then maybe they would learn that, yes, people DO live at storage units as on-site managers. If they really were serious, they would also make sure to get the information into the election office in plenty of time so that people who made an honest mistake could fix it. Sending out 2000 challenge letters a week before the election is the tactic of desperate scum. I really hope Sotelo goes to jail for it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Crucifixion is Legal... according to Bush and Cheney

Read this.

If you aren't disgusted, horrified, and enraged... you probably aren't human. If you vote republican, you are voting for torture and death.

Poor Reading Comprehension

Wow. I usually don't get e-mail from this blog, because so few people read it. But I got a couple of interesting ones on the entry just below this. Apparently, some republican Christians think that *I* am the one calling Christians "wackos". I have to wonder if the folks who e-mailed me even bothered to actually read the entry, rather than skim it? You see, the people calling Christians "wackos" are REPUBLICAN LOBBYISTS, one of whom used to work for Tom "I am not a crook" DeLay.

For the record: I consider myself Christian, and I don't hate Christians, just stupid people. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stupid people who call themselves Christian even though they have no compassion for the poor, no desire to help their fellow humans, and absolutely no love for anyone who isn't exactly like them (which includes having plenty of money). This includes virtually any "Christian" who votes republican while the current republican leadership is in power. And the "Christian Right" are so unChristian I sometimes wonder why God doesn't strike them all down. I guess those hypocrites will get their "rewards" after death.

Also for the record: I tend to be Republican, actual Republican, in a lot of my opinions. However, the current republican leadership isn't even close to being Republican. They spend like there is no tomorrow, and start wars based on lies. They are criminals. And when you add in the dirty tricks that the local republicans pulled in today's election, I can only say that the rot in the republican party goes all the way down. I don't forsee me voting Republican again for a long time, because I doubt there will be a coup in the republican party to get rid of the neocons, and that's what it would take. Until then, I'll vote against the republican scum in the hopes that a lot of losses will lead to change.

And so: I still think that any Christian who votes for republicans right now is a moron. Of course, you can tell those folks over and over again that they are being used by the republicans, but all they will say in response is "You hate Christians!" in the finest traditional of blame the messenger.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Oh, the irony! So Washington State ReThuglican chairman, Chris Vance, who made it absolutely clear during the hotly disputed election for the governor that mistakes regarding voting rights are not acceptable, has made some very serious mistakes regarding voting rights and as a result may well deprive some voters, in largely democratic areas (strangely enough), of their right to vote. I thought Vance was an idiot when he made some really stupid comments during the disputed election, now I think he's a scumbag and a liar, and perhaps should go to jail for his "mistakes" since he sure seemed to think that state election officials should go to jail for their mistakes. Only the mistakes the election officials made were accidental. His are intentional attempts to keep democrats from voting, as the challenges appeared RIGHT BEFORE THE ELECTION. If he'd wanted to fix problems, he should have made sure the challenges were made with enough time for people to respond. Scummy tactics from a scummy person. Are there any honest people in the Republican party? I sure know that no honest person can possibly vote Republican in Washington state as long as hypocrite and liar Chris Vance and his ilk are in charge of the Washington Republican party.

And let me make one more thing very clear. I don't think that filing the challenges alone was wrong. I think that filing the challenges as late as they did, making sure that the voters only have a couple of days to fix the problems was a seriously nasty partisan tactic for which there is no excuse.

Chris Vance's new motto: "Mistakes are only ok if we make them!"

Speaking of Republicans, if you follow this link (pdf) you'll see the evidence put in against these lobbyists in a money laundering scheme. If you don't feel like going through all 318 pages, go to page 119 under "Mobilization": Simply put we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them. The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees. In short, these Republican lobbyists believe that Christians are wackos to be used. This is the Republican method. Use Christians to influence the vote, but don't give them anything they really want. If you are Christian and vote Republican, you are a moron. The Republican party doesn't share your values, they just manipulate you to make you think they do. The only people who vote Republican right now, with the current "leadership" of the Republican party, are either complete idiots or folks who are morally bankrupt. There's a good summary of the lobbyist money laundering case here.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A Day of Mourning

This is a very sad day in American history. A top official in the government has been indicted for an act that falls just short of treason, legally (though I firmly believe it is treason). This official either leaked or confirmed the leak of a CIA agent's identity, thus endangering her and ANY OTHER AGENT SHE WORKED WITH, as well as any agent who ever worked for the dummy CIA company that she worked for.

Why did the official commit this criminal act?

While we may never know for sure, the evidence points to this outing as being an act of petty revenge against the agent's husband for daring to expose the lies about WMD that led up to the war in Iraq. In short, at least one top government official put CIA agents around the world in danger to hide lies about Iraq.

The case for the Iraq war was built on lies. The war itself was poorly executed and has made the world a much more dangerous place, and emboldened terrorists all over. Because of the Iraq war, resources that were desperately needed in Afghanistan were pulled, and the terrorist leadership responsible for 9/11 escaped unpunished.

The officials in the American government who were involved in creating the lies that led to the Iraq war are traitors. They should all be taken to Gitmo and left to rot for the rest of their lives under the conditions that THEY think are appropriate for terrorists - because they helped the terrorists far more than any other people in the world, they deserve the same punishment.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Lisa!

And a very happy birthday to my favorite little sister, Lisa, who is turning ... um, I'm not supposed to mention that, am I? Anyway, happy day to you and I hope to see you soon. Maybe at the Androgum party this weekend?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

First Christmas Ad of the Season

October 19th, 2005, about 10:59 pm. It was a Carnival Cruise ad with a definite Christmas theme, complete with sleighbells, snow, and red ribbons. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cat - Bird - Squirrel

So I was sitting here contemplating life when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye out the front window. Focusing on it, I spotted the cat who likes to leave us cat seeds standing stealthily on one of the stumps, looking up into a tree with a wicked stance. Hmmmm.

Focusing more, I could hear that something was chirping a loud and angry warning. I doubted that the cat could get high enough into the tree to cause any damage to whatever it was glaring at, but I never pass up an opportunity to scare the cat-seeder out of my yard. It's good for the cat's cardiovascular system.

I moved slowly to the front door... but I think I could've walked normally, the cat was so intent on the tree. I flung open the door and for an instant the cat was frozen in shock as it looked over to me, then *vwip!* it was down the stump and across the yard, tripping only once on the branches that the missionaries left it its way.

I grinned and stepped out onto the porch, and the cat stared at me from the street. Whatever was chirping was continuing to do so, so I stepped off the porch to see what it was. The cat raced away like demons were chasing it.

The chirping was not coming from the same tree that the cat had been looking at, so I tried to spot the mysterious chirper elsewhere. I wasn't terribly surprised to see a squirrel at full alert up in another tree, and when the next chirp came I confirmed it was coming from the little beastie by seeing its chest move. Definitely the culprit. But what had the cat been looking at?

I didn't spot it right away, but after looking at the tree the cat had been looking at for a moment I saw it clearly. A bird. And it seemed to be hanging off the side of the tree without any support. The neck was grey, head kind of black. The chest was white with black spots. I stepped into the yard to get a closer look, and was surprised when it didn't fly away. Injured? Or just scared? I looked up, and could see that the underside of the tailfeathers were red. And the beak was long and pointy. Maybe this is the woodpecker I've been hearing? It finally made a move to another branch and I could see it wasn't injured. Then it flew off. The squirrel stopped chirping.

Ah, the joys of living in the great Northwest.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mighty Machete Missionaries

I wasn't sure whether or not to expect them, what with the rain coming down. But they came, four of them again, and competed with each other climbing the trees to finish taking down branches. Two of the guys were different from last week, I think, and listened to the first two guys stories about last week's antics.

While two of them climbed trees and cut branches, the other two started to work on the piles of leftover wood from last week. They cut a lot of the wood into firewood for future use. If we get our woodburning stove checked out and solve the backdraft problem, we'll have a LOT of wood to burn.

As with last week, I made them cookies and put out some water. I offered hot cocoa, but they were managing to work up a sweat despite the rain and declined. One of them kept saying how drained he was after hanging from a branch for a minute while the others scrambled to put the ladder underneath him.

When they left, the front yard was pretty much full of branches, which they've promised to come and cut up next week. I hope so, as the mess is going to be a problem. They've blocked off the usual routes down to the mailbox.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They visited again yesterday, four of them, with the strong desire to delimb the trees in the front yard enough that the house would get more light. They brought a handsaw, a couple of machetes, and a pitchfork. Hmmmm.

One of them also had a long belt with latches on the end. I'd say it was 15 feet long, maybe. They started the work by trying to swing it over the lowest branches they wanted to remove and hoping it would stick. Didn't work. Even when they got it over the branches, there was no way to secure it. It just wasn't long enough.

The trees aren't exactly climbable, although they gave it some real tries. The one they were intent on getting up into was smooth enough that they slid down every time they tried, even using the belt to secure themselves. I nearly got a very funny picture of a missionary hanging by the belt from the tree when he slipped, but he got out of the mess before I could get into position to snap a picture.

Finally, one of them climbed up to the tree next to the one they were trying to work on. I'm still unsure how he managed it, as there simply are no low branches. He got high enough to hook the other tree then secure the belt, then he slid down the tree... good thing he was wearing jeans.

But it still wasn't any good. They now had a belt hanging from a tree branch way above their heads, and the ladder I have wasn't tall enough to do anything but grab the bottom of the belt. So they did what they often do in this situation. They went over to the neighbors and borrowed an extendable ladder.

The extendable ladder reached just a few feet below the branch they were trying to get to, so one of them climbed up the ladder and started to haul himself up. Then he said, "take the ladder away!" which they did. It appeared to me that he was using the adrenaline from no having the ladder to go back to get himself up onto the branch. Since I was already working on my fifth or sixth panic attack, I just decided it was best for me to go inside and make some cookies for them. I did put the first aid kit out by the door, just in case.

A short while later there was the crack! of tree limbs coming down, and occasional whoops of approval from the guys on the ground. The light in the front room gradually brightened as they removed the branches that really block the sky. They got glares from passing cars as the branches came down within a foot of the street, but as far as I could tell none of them actually hit the road. The guys on the ground chopped smaller branches off the limbs and put those in the yard waste bin. At one point another guy climbed a different tree and cut down a couple of branches that were over our driveway.

I put out the usual cookies and Gatorade, and watched as they finished up cutting branches off the tree. It looks a bit barren now, but the additional light in the house is really nice, and the tree itself has a lot more branches further up. I hope they didn't kill it...

Well, I thought that might be it for their efforts, but the original missionary who started the job wants to continue it. He says that working on people's yards is much, much better than getting doors slammed in his face.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Supreme Court Choice


Ok, she's never been a judge, so why on EARTH would she be qualified to sit on the Supreme Court? For all I know, she's got exactly the same views as I do, but the initial commentary indicates that she simply isn't qualified. What's ol' shrubya up to now?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What An Incredibly Odd Day

An attack of depression, a visit to the doctor interrupted by a cellphone call, a fairly tense afternoon, and a good swim in the evening. Yesterday was a truly odd day.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wishing Well

So, just in case the well in our backyard is a wishing well, I tossed a penny in and wished that the yellowjackets would go away by next week.

I wanted to wish for world peace, but you'd have to have a really powerful wishing well for that, and this one... well, it's only ten feet deep. I'm not sure it's got that kind of power. And then I thought of wishing for all the folks who lost their homes in the hurricanes to get back on their feet quickly... but again, this is just a backyard well. I'm not sure how much good a wish like that would do. Then I thought I ought to wish for something for Eric and I, but all the wishes I came up with seemed too greedy (like wanting the mortgage to be paid off). So I decided to wish for something that would benefit the mighty missionaries in the incredibly unlikely event that it worked.

The penny made an interesting *plop* sound when it hit the bottom.

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They seem determined to come over and wreak havoc with the vegetation running wild in the back yard. This week there were four of them again, complete with two machetes, a hand saw, and a pitchfork.

They were disappointed to discover that the bees' nest was still very much active and alive, even after last week's adventure with gasoline. I looked it up on the 'net, and it appears we have a yellowjacket nest. The only way to really get rid of the suckers is to completely cover their nest and smother them. Due to the location of the nest, I don't think that's really likely. I suggested that the missionaries work around them, which they mostly did today.

I bought some cookie dough for them, and made fresh warm cookies again. Again, they appreciated it. Fresh cookies and Gatorade.

The really frightening moments came when they decided to delimb some of the dead branches from the trees in the back. I started hearing these horrible CRASH noises, and ran out to see if First Aid was required. There was a missionary 30 feet up in one of the trees, sawing off any branch that looked dead. After a few minutes, I went back in and grabbed my camera, and got a couple of shots of another missionary in another tree:

The other three guys were pulling the branches he'd cut into another part of the yard, away from the yellowjacket's nest, which was almost directly under the tree he's standing in. Right after I took this picture, he sawed off the branch he was standing on. No, I'm not joking. At least in this tree he didn't go nearly as high as the other guy did in the first tree.

The pile of wood in the foreground was cut by the missionaries last week. I ought to start hauling it around the house and put it on the porch before the rains come. If we get our wood-burning stove checked and fixed again, we have plenty of wood to burn in it.

They definitely want to come by again and keep at the work. All of this from an offhand remark...

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Happy birthday to my niece Amanda, who is almost old enough to drive now... wowsa.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Football Season

We can hear the band at the football game down the hill. They are playing "Hey, Baby!" which we used to play back at Hazen when I was in the band. You would think they would get new songs twenty years later...

Eric says that the teams playing are Inglemoor and Woodinville. He knows this because he taught at Inglemoor today.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Thoughts

I've learned more about hurricanes in the last few weeks than I even expected to know, living in the Pacific Northwest. I've learned that hurricanes go through phases of weakening and strengthening, and that sometimes predictions about a hurricane's strength are useless because of those phases. I've learned what atmospheric pressure means in relation to the strength of a hurricane. And I've learned that some people actually believe that the Yakuza has a weather control device.

But mostly I've learned that it's impossible to get everyone away. I'm stunned by the fact that thousands of people in Houston simply cannot get out, as seen in this story. Some who have the means just can't get out because of the traffic. Nobody wants to be caught out in the storm in just their car or on foot, so they are actually turning back since the traffic isn't moving at all. After Katrina, everyone is taking Rita seriously, but even when they want to get away, they can't.

To anyone in the hurricane's path: Good luck and God bless. Stay strong. We're thinking of you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Well, that was a disappointing evening

Hi, there, folks. Hubby-Eric here, finally with something to say. I was pretty excited about tonight, as Laura and I had tickets to a free preview screening of Corpse Bride, the new Tim Burton animated movie. But wouldn't you know, we both got the latest bug going around. I thought I might be able to make it, but I left the final decision to Laura, and she just wasn't up to it. Oh, well. I'm sure I'll get a chance to see it again some time (hey, it opens in theaters on Friday anyway). And to be honest, with the way we're both feeling right now, it may be just as well we didn't see it tonight.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Another Successful Cooking Experiment

I've mentioned before that I don't really cook. I have the tools, but not the practice, and I've made most of the mistakes it is possible to make.

Recently I subscribed to a couple of food newsletters. One from Food Network, and one from Kraft Foods. While 99% of the recipes they send me don't appeal to me, recently I saw one that I thought I might be able to manage, so I saved it. And last night, without telling Eric what I was making, I made it.

The recipe is for Sloppy Joe Mac, a strange combination of Sloppy Joes and Mac & Cheese. I was a little worried about the taste because some of the reviewers stated that the flavors didn't work for them. One even claimed to have thrown out the dish after a few bites! On the other hand, it appeared to fit our tastes pretty well, and it wasn't too much of a challenge to make. So I went for it...

Kraft Foods Sloppy Joe Mac

Ingredients: one pound ground beef, 1 package KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, 2 cups water, BBQ sauce (about 1/2 cup), and 1 cup tomato sauce. Large skillet, non-stick, with lid. Optional: toppings like fresh lettuce, tomatoes, or shredded cheese.

Brown the beef then drain. Add the noodles, water, and BBQ sauce and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium and cover. Simmer for about 8 minutes or until the mix thickens, stirring a couple of times. Remove the cover, add the cheese sauce mix and tomato sauce and stir until it's really well mixed. Serve immediately and top with any toppings you feel like (I used shredded cheese).

Leftovers need to be refrigerated. Makes about 4 adult-size servings. Kid-sizes may vary. Preparation time is about 20 minutes.

Update: Just had part of the leftovers for lunch today, and if anything it got better overnight. Yum. This recipe must be really bad for us, or it wouldn't taste so good. End Update

Goes best with some sort of veggie. I used corn this time, but I think carrots would work really well. It didn't really need any extra seasoning, but that will depend in part on what kind of BBQ sauce you use. Try not to use BBQ sauce that will clash with the cheese sauce too much. I don't have any good ideas for experimenting on it for next time... it turned out really well this time around.

Previous Recipes:
I'm putting my recipes on the blog mostly to keep a record of what has been successful for me. I'm not a daring cook, and I'm usually not willing to spend a lot of time in prepping food. But I actually kind of like cooking, and I'm always looking for something different to serve. The same four dishes week after week get tiring even for me. Add in the fact that I'm really a very picky eater, and finding recipes becomes an annoying chore. So having a record of other recipes is a good thing... and hey, this is the boring blog, so it fits right in!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mighty Mowing Missionaries

They came again today, this time with a half-gallon jug of gasoline to pour on the bees' nest (no, they didn't light it). They cleared out a lot of vegetation in the time they were here, and also took down the "tree house" from the backyard.

When we moved into this house, in addition to the mysterious wellhouse, there was a platform up between two trees with a solid wooden ladder up to it. It was a tree house. My brother climbed up the ladder and checked it out, and pronounced it solid but slightly dangerous. When the missionaries first started work on the backyard a couple of weeks ago, one of them climbed up onto the platform and noted that some of the planks were rotting, and some of the nails no longer held, making it extremely dangerous. Thus, when they asked if they could take it down, I only had to think about it for a few seconds before agreeing.

And they had a LOT of fun taking it down, too. If you want to keep four 20-year old boys happy, give 'em something to destroy. They took turns chopping the beams down after they took turns whacking the supports until the thing finally fell. Luckily, it didn't fall on any of them, although one of them nearly managed to get the ladder on his head.

In addition to the missionaries, the visiting teachers came over. When they called, I mentioned that the missionaries were in our back yard, so they brought over some cookie dough. I cooked up a couple of batches of cookies for the missionaries and they had a nice lunch of cookies and gatorade. Warm cookies, fresh out of the oven, will also make missionaries happy.

The missionaries also uncovered a short stone stairway when they removed one of the rhododendron bushes. All four of the rhodies are way too close to the house and will have to go. They took out the biggest one first, and found it was covering the stairway up from the back walkway into the yard. Since the yard for part of the distance is about two feet up from the walkway, it's nice to have some steps instead of having to climb.

One of the visiting teachers noted the spiders that infest our house, and mentioned that spraying down the outside of the house with a 50% bleach to water solution will get rid of a large number of them. I will have to seriously consider that now, as the spiders are driving me slightly nuts. The missionaries also noted the spiders and started pointing to "large" ones, all of which were tiny compared to the big hunter spiders we get inside the house. One of the missionaries expressed a fear of spider bites, and I reassured him that there are no poisonous spiders native to this area, and no non-natives are likely to survive long in our climate, so he's pretty safe, all told. Of course, those reassurances never seem to work with me, so I doubt they calmed his nerves all that much.