Monday, August 31, 2009

And the march of the "progress" continues...

The Smith-Cotton High School Marching Band came up with this t-shirt for the new school year. Seems they forgot to run past the "author-i-ties" that be. It's been pulled. All students have had to return their t-shirts. The anonymous donor that was going to pay for half of the $700 fee to make the shirts, refused to pay upon learning of the design. They're having to start again and get "proper" approval.

I don't know about you, but this pisses me off. Think Progress has an article here that you can use as a jumping off point to find out more information. One commenter at the local newspaper suggested that the band put the shirts up on Ebay since many people from near and far have said they'd buy one. So would I.

Just to be perfectly clear. Evolution is science. Creationism is religion. One should be taught in schools and the other in church.

The phone number for the school is (660) 829-6300. Their address is 312 E Broadway, Sedalia, MO, 65301. Let them know you'd buy a shirt or two.

And remind them that evolution is not religion and although the school district may have a policy that requires them to remain neutral on religion it doesn't apply.

Bad Blogger! Bad!

Not Blogger with a capital B and one of those little trademark thingies. Bad blogger as in I have been a bad blogger of late. I even signed up for NaBloPoMo again and couldn't even manage to fake it. As in 30 posts in 30 days, or 31 as the case may be.

Lots of stuff going on. Busy at work with no time to post. Weird mammogram results that led to a ultrasound that led to a biopsy that led to the doctor scratching her head that led to a self-diagnosis of a progression of my lymphedema. Whee! Plus there is only so many times I can go the health care reform well before it runs dry. I am outta of new stuff to say about it and absurdly grateful that my current insurance seems to be actually working.

So, rather than burden you with my depressing views on the non-movement/status quo/ruled by the purse-strings crap fest that is health care reform in this country, I'm going to redirect my time and tackle transgender and LGBT issues instead.

I read an interesting article this weekend that I thought I'd share. An article on discussed one Rev. David Weekly and his coming out to his congregation as a transman. Weekly transitioned before becoming an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Called to a religious life at a young age, he also knew he was male even as a child. There are no reports that his congregation has reacted with anything but but support.

The same can't be said of the commentary at It's harsh. It's fed by ignorance. And it's all too typical of what the trans community faces on a daily basis.

Though Weekly is quoted as saying, "I am a man in some ways different from other men," he said. "But most people are different from other people in some way. And God still loves us." Many of the commenters on the website can't see this obvious truth.

I won't reprint any of the comments here; I'll let you go read for yourself. But they are classic examples of what you'll find on the comments of ANY mainstream online story about transgender people. These are actually more tame and generally refrain from the use of vulgarities and profanities that I've seen in other places.

I believe that we will eventually find that all LGBT people are represented on the genetic spectrum. Meaning, it is not a "lifestyle choice" but something that is genetically inherent in who they are. In truth, there is a great deal about the human body and development that we know next to nothing about. We've only had the human genome mapped for less than a decade. There are huge portions of it that we have no idea what it does, what it controls or influences or if it's even just filler.

For now, we must work on accepting the great diversity that is the human race. Singling out someone for ridicule and hatred simply because they're different is the action of a child.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." 1Corinthians 13:11.

It's time to put away our childish prurience and learn to recognize the essential humanity in those around us no matter how different they may seem. Rev. David Weekly took a courageous step in revealing such a personal aspect of himself to his congregation. I wish him every continued success.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tyli'a Mack

Once again there has been another murder of a transgender person; this time in Washington, D.C. It took a while for me to find information that her correct name. Thanks to Matt Kailey at the Houston Examiner.

Tyli'a and another transwoman were attacked near the Transgender Health Empowerment offices in D.C. Her companion was injured, but survived. Police are looking into the possibility that this has a bias crime after the survivor reported that her attacker used homophobic language.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recently released a report that shows that the incidence of violent crimes against LGBTs continues to rise, up 2% nationally. Whether this represents an actual increase in the numbers of violent crimes against LGBT or an increase in the reporting of these crimes is unclear. Either way, the numbers are staggering.  Questioning Transphobia has a post reviewing recent studies that show that ever third day and trans person is murdered somewhere in the world.

An $25,000 reward has been offered for more information regarding the murder and assault in Washington, D.C. Let's hope that the incentive of this much money brings a quick resolution to this crime.

And as an aside, the reason it was so difficult for me to find the correct name of the victim was due to sloppy reporting by local media and the police. The police are a separate issue, but the media only has to turn to the AP Stylebook to find the correct way to address this issue. It has clear guidelines. A transgender person should be referred to by the name they use and the pronoun that best represents their presentation. Even if the individual in question can't or won't give a reporter this kind of information, they can use the pronoun associated with their presentation. So if Tyli'a dressed as a woman and called herself Tyli'a and not Joshua, then the local media should have picked up on this.  They need to have their errors pointed out and issue corrections.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Memorium

Weird Wednesday will be back next week. I have no heart for chasing down the weirdness with the news of Senator Ted Kennedy's death.

There is little I can add to the general outpouring in regards to Kennedy. He was flawed, certainly, but he was also great. I hope that the Senate can rally around his memory and make serious progress on health care reform. This was Ted Kennedy's cause and if we gain nothing else from his passing, let it be this.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Power of Words

There's been lots of words tossed about of late. Most of them have been used out of context and to inflame. We all know what they are. They're designed to bring up images and memories of the worst that humanity has to offer. Those that use them forget that by doing so they diminish the memory of those who fought against the real evils in this world.

AKMuckracker over at the Mudflats has a piece that sums this up so well.  I encourage you to read it and to remember your history whenever you hear the President compared to Hitler or his policies to Nazism. Using these words for political gain cheapens them and makes the impact they should impart much less.

Remember what the Nazis did, the lives they destroyed, the evil they perpetrated. Obama is not Hitler. Health care reform is not fascism or Nazism.

These comparisons are an insult to the men and women who fought and died, who spent time as prisoners of war and the millions who died at the hands of the Nazis. We must never forget that true evil walked the earth 64 years ago and was defeated at terrible cost.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Weird Wednesday

I will be on time today. Posting after midnight CST makes the date Wednesday. I may be on to something.

Okay, so much to chose from,  so little time. We begin with the story of the hoax that trashed the town. A flyer was sent out to residents of Huntly, New Zealand that looked official enough. It used the Waikato District Council's colour logo and told of a Midwinter Inorganic Rubbish Collection.  The citizenry responded and now the streets are lined with junk from old scuba gear to broken TVs and carpet remnants. The only problem is that the district has no plans to pick up this trash. Imagine spending the day shlepping all your junk to the curb only to be told that you have to haul it all back. Not my idea of fun.

This one's just for you, Pseudo. There were a trio of arrests made recently for marijuana possession. Nothing all too weird about that.  The fact that they were arrested at a softball tournament in Las Vegas is notable.  Especially since it was a  police softball tournament no less. But wait! It gets better. Two of those arrested were Honolulu police officers. All three attempted to flee the scene.

A Vermont man was arrested for his fifth DUI. Shameful but not horribly weird. Perhaps the fact that he was driving a snowmobile on the hottest day of the year might qualify. Police followed him and tracked him down with a K-9 dog after he abandoned the snowmobile and fled into nearby woods.  Clearly, this man has pickled his brain.

I embarrassed Pseudo, so I return the favor with this lovely story. Apparently Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tx) has decided to hold a town hall meeting. In a funeral home. Way to be subtle there, dude. Wonder what he thinks of the health care bill?

And last, but by no means least, is the news that Michelle "Batshit" Bachmann may be contemplating a run for the White House. As told to that paragon of journalist integrity, World Net Daily, Bachmann says she will run if "that's what the Lord was calling me to do, I would do it." Here's hoping that is one message from above that never gets posted. Though a Palin/Bachmann ticket has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

That's it for this week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kiss the Kitty

Otherwise known as a game invented by Rowan to torture the new kitty. Said kitty, while small enough that Rowan could bite off her head in one chomp were he so inclined (he's not, rest assured) has balls of steel. She's already whopped him on the nose so many times that we lost count.

She also likes to climb and explore, as kittens do. Since she's generally small enough to get lost in my shoe, this is not always a good thing.  She did however discover the TV tray table by the couch and found it to be a wonderful vantage point from which to watch the dogs. Rowan likes it, too.

It's just at nose height.

Thus was invented the game, now and forever known as "Kiss the Kitty".

Equipment needed:
  1. TV tray table
  2. One small Russian Blue/Grey Tabby kitten with aforementioned hutzpah.
  3. One truly goofy 62 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer. 
Rules (there's only one):

Poke the kitty with your nose before she swats you with her tiny and completely useless claws.

Mia was very guarded at first, watching Rowan as he dodged around the table, tried to get to the non-pointy end whenever possible and made monkey noises. (Seriously, he makes this grunting noise that sounds like a monkey.)  She got in several good swats and at least one that connected solidly with his nose. Enough that he backed up and wrinkled his nose. She did eventaully get bored. At which time, Rowan proceeded to push her around the table with his nose.

My description doesn't do it justice. It was truly hilarious to watch.

I will attempt to deliver video.

RTT-In which I promise not to talk about health care

So it's Tuesday. Go join Keely at the Unmom and spread the randomness. You'll be glad you did.

My Eldest is home for the week. Summer classes are over and she has a week before the fall session starts. She's here to pick up her new cat, get a new cell phone and otherwise spend money.  She randomly purchased Hubby and I gifts. He got a sketchbook and pens. She told him that she finds drawing good therapy. She's told me she's worried that he seems depressed and that at least this should keep him from playing Diablo on the computer for hours at a time. I got a CD of Billy Joel's "Fantasies & Delusions" that I've been wanting for a while. In fact, I'm listening to it as I write this. Pretty cool. One, it's Billy Joel. Two, my kid got me a gift and it wasn't even my birthday. Nifty, huh?

I got a new cell phone this weekend, a Palm Pre. It's fantastic!! Completely made of awesome.  It's my first smartphone and so far is living up to my expectations completely. Eldest is going to be getting one as well. She'll be graduating before our next contract is up and will need a smartphone for work. So, we're switching over now.  Hubby is getting one too but he has to wait for the next paycheck. Our budget can only afford so many at once. I think of it as my family's part in stimulating the economy.

The puppy is in the middle of a growth spurt. She's eating all of her food and most of Myrddin's, too. He's lost a bit of weight since her arrival and we're starting to get concerned that she's just not letting him eat. Especially when she gets like she is now and seems to be ravenous all the time. I've taken to feeding him by hand. I get a cup of kibble and feed Myrddin a handful at a time. The other two get a piece every time I give him a handful, just to keep the troops happy. At least this way I know he's getting something measurable down the gullet. After Aibhne slows down again, he can go back to fending for himself. He better not get used this and decide he can't eat any other way.

The arrival of the kitten was filled with whining and hissing and not a little concern over whether or not the puppy would eat her. It would probably take about two bites.  She's tiny. She also apparently likes to sit on Eldest's shoulder.  Or her head. Whatever's higher and further away from the dogs.  Did I say she is tiny? Wow. A little blue ball of fluff. Russian Blue, at that.

Our new arrival:

Welcome, Miannet Koshka. May you get big enough to bully the dogs.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

14:35 minutes of glorious denunciation

Brought to you by Keith Olbermann:

Mr. Olbermann has managed to expound on this issue with more eloquence than I have.  The only thing I can add is this from Edmund Burke:

All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

If we give up this fight and allow the corporate shills and their mindless minions to prevail, we will have no one to blame but ourselves for the slow decent into hell that will be our reward. Keep calling, keep emailing, keep blogging. Nothing worth having comes easily.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

This is not the plan

The current state of affairs is certainly not what I envisioned in November. I had high hopes but it's hard to cling to that sense of limitless possibility that seemed to be all around us after the election in the face of the current climate . I know that it's still early in Obama's presidency and way too early to give up hope. But at times it seems that we're going nowhere. That nothing essential has changed except a few of the key players.

The "debate" on health care reform is taking its toll. There are rumors that the White House is going to support dropping the public option from the bill. At the mere mention of these, the vitriol that has seemed to be reserved for the Right has been suddenly unleashed by the Left. The comments on Huffington Post abound with people ready to ditch the Democratic party over this "abandonment" and predicting defeat in 2012 for Obama.

Others are ready to pull their support from Obama and progressive Democrats over DOMA and DADT.

Since when did we give a President a mere 8 months before we decided he wasn't worthy of reelection? Yes, I'm disappointed at the snail's pace that the Obama administration has chosen to take in re DOMA and DADT. If the rumors are true that the public option is being dropped, I'll disappointed, certainly. Will it be entirely Obama's fault if health care reform fails? No. Could more be done, should more be done? Absolutely.

The real blame for the failure of health care reform, if it ultimately fails, will be with the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies. They have lots of incentive to make sure it fails. Anything that risks reducing their revenues and profits is a threat. The four largest health insurers made a total of  $172.2 billion in revenue,  mostly in premiums from their 74.8 million members. Their net profits varied quite a bit and were much harder to determine. They ranged from a high for WellPoint of $2.5 billion to a paltry $794 million for Kaiser Permanente.  That's a lot of money. And if we know one thing to be true in America that we can all, Right and Left, agree on, it's that money talks.

It talks in the form of lobbyists and donations made to political campaigns. It talks in the form of websites and TV ads and mass mailers aimed at spreading the word.  It talks and, it seems, we listen. But is it worth listening to?

No matter what happens, I know that I made the best choice in voting for Obama. I cannot even comprehend what the past 8 months would have been like with McCain and Palin in the White House.  Still, I could not have predicted that 8 months into a new administration we'd be faced with this crisis of faith. Maybe I'm naive, but I hoped that we had elected someone who would do things differently. Maybe we did but the machine that is Washington didn't get the message. Maybe he played us all. Or maybe that's what the corporations and conservatives want us to think. Whatever the truth, it's up to all of us to keep talking.

And to keep listening.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

How to Talk to Someone who thinks you're an Idiot

You can't.

Really. That's the only answer. I made the mistake of forwarding David Axelrod's email to someone who thinks that everything coming out of the White House is mere propaganda. The tone of the reply was harsh, to say the least.

My intelligence was impugned. Rhetoric was thrown. Cap and Trade made it in to the "dialog" and the "farce" of global warming, too. Then the kicker. "If you want to talk more, I'm willing".

Seriously? How can I talk to someone who'd just implied that my concern with the current state of affairs means I'm not interested in hearing differing opinions?  Someone who derides my opinion and then somehow thinks I'll be willing to talk to them about something we oh so obviously disagree on.

Reading that email made me sick to my stomach. Literally. It was a shock to read the vitriol from someone I know aimed at me. All I could do was to say I'm sorry and I won't be bothering you again. I have no desire to argue electronically with someone whose mind is made up and who thinks I'm  misguided and squandering my education. That somehow my degree in Journalism is being wasted because I can't see through the lies being spoon fed to me.

We'll just have to agree to disagree. Civilly and with humility.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

An email from David Axelrod

I reprint here for you, verbatim, the email I just opened from the White House. If you'd like me to forward you a copy so that you can then turn around and send it out to friends and family, drop me a line at truebluetx (at) gmail (dot) com. Let's get this one viral, shall we?

8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage:
Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history. 

Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics. 

Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill. 

Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender. 

Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. 

Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26. 

Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.

Learn more and get details:

8 common myths about health insurance reform:

Reform will stop "rationing" - not increase it: It’s a myth that reform will mean a "government takeover" of health care or lead to "rationing." To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies. 

We can’t afford reform: It's the status quo we can't afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis. 

Reform would encourage "euthanasia": It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions. 

Vets' health care is safe and sound: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans' access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President's budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans. 

Reform will benefit small business - not burden it: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average. 

Your Medicare is safe, and stronger with reform: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare "doughnut" hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. 

You can keep your own insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them. 

No, government will not do anything with your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.

Learn more and get details:

8 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now:

Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill.

Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. 

Roadblocks to Care for Women: Women’s reproductive health requires more regular contact with health care providers, including yearly pap smears, mammograms, and obstetric care. Women are also more likely to report fair or poor health than men (9.5% versus 9.0%). While rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are similar to men, women are twice as likely to suffer from headaches and are more likely to experience joint, back or neck pain. These chronic conditions often require regular and frequent treatment and follow-up care. 

Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. 

Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. 

The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more:
Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. 

The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more:


Spin Cycle-Best of the Worst

So the latest meme over at Sprite's Keeper is another recycle. This time, it's recycling your worst post. I actually had more trouble picking one for this one than last week's favorite post.  I chose this one because it was almost my last post. I was seriously pissed off at someone and thinking about it only made me depressed and led me to consider chucking it all in.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be) I persevered.

Originally posted on September 18, 2008. I give you:

 Dude, I am so depressed...

So, while I could continue my discussion on the issues of the upcoming election, let me just break it down to this: our health care system sucks, is broken , needs serious fixing and no one really knows how. Second, the war on terror: The war in Iraq was poorly conceived and should never have started. We've left the job undone in Afghanistan for a second time.

Most importantly, since no one reads this blog, I will change no minds, educate no voters and effect no lasting change. Those who disagree with me are just as convinced they are right and I am wrong as I am they. They think me foolish at best, arrogant at worst and just plain wrong. Which just makes me angry and then depressed when I realize I think the same thing of them. So, rather than continue to exchange scathing commentaries, wall postings, etc. I will concede defeat.

I will vote my conscience and they theirs come November. God help us all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weird Wednesday

It's that time again. Seriously. It's still Wednesday here in Texas. I promise to try to be somewhat closer to on time next week.

I can't say the weird news choices have been very good of late. Really, the regular news has been weirder that just about anything here, what with Birthers and Deathers and the like.

So we begin with a $9.99 52-inch TV. Best Buy posted the price on its website but rather quickly retracted it. Seems it should have read $1799.99. That's one hell of a typo. They are, of course, not honoring the price.

This one is right up there with last week's towing of a lawn mower with a moped. Police in St Charles Parish Louisiana were curious when they spotted a man riding a bicycle with an alligator draped across his shoulders. Surprisingly enough, Terron Ingram left both the bike and the gator and attempted to flee police when stopped. When they caught him, they charged him with resisting arrest, possessing drug paraphernalia and animal cruelty. The gator was released into a nearby swamp. Ingram is still in jail in lieu of $15,000 bond. Note to self: If I'm going to be carrying illegal substances on my person, don't call attention to myself by toting an alligator.

This woman was arrested in Chicago for the 60th time for shoplifting:
She was trying to steal wrinkle cream. No offense, but maybe they should have let her have it. She pled guilty and the judge let her off with time served. I think maybe it might be a little too late for anything she could swipe from the grocery store.

The Royal Opera House in London is attempting to get more people interested in opera. How might they be doing this? With Twitter. Yes, that's right. Twitter. They're getting folks to write an opera 140 characters at a time. The plot will be written by twitterers and then scored by professionals. So far, the first act ends as the "hero had been kidnapped by a flock of birds and is in a tower awaiting rescue." And also apparently a talking cat.

Speaking of cats, meet Nora the piano playing cat. While not a new story, she's been posting to YouTube since 2007, she was recently featured in USA Today. So I'm counting it as "new".

See you all next week.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

RTT-Day 52

That's how many day this summer that we've reached a 100 degrees in Austin.  Though technically, as far as the record books go I mean, it's 44.  I'm claiming the 52 as correct since the site for those temps is 2 miles from where I work.

It's August, people. There will be more days over a hundred before we're done. And while that's not quite every day since the summer began, the thing to remember is that the days that didn't make it to 100 were generally in the 90s. Miserable doesn't even begin to cover it.

I think the heat is getting to Governor Big Hair. First it's we don't want your stinking stimulus money. Now it's, we won't participate in a government public option for health care. Says it should be the state's job to improve health care. Dude, before you start speaking out your ass you should look around you. 1 in 4 Texans don't have health insurance. We also have the highest cost for health care of any state. Sounds like we're not doing such a good job, Rickie. Truth is he's just trying to stir up "the base" ahead of the gubernatorial elections.  Keep it up, son, you're doing a bang up job. No one really expects sanity from Texas politicians anyway.

At least the air conditioning in the car is working again. The drive home is quite a bit less miserable than before. We'll be able to take the pups to the dog park without getting covered in drool on the way home.

Speaking of dogs, the puppy, and I use that term loosely, weighed in today at 49.8 pounds. Youngest weighs her on the Wii by picking her up and holding her like a toddler. The dog puts her front legs around her neck and she sets the dog's butt on her hip.  I want to see Hubby try that with Rowan.

We've been trying to hit the Wii regularly, Youngest and I. We both tried the Hula Hoop today. She did okay but I actually failed. Which should come as no surprise to me since I was never able to get those damn things to work for real.  After my pathetic attempt on the Hula Hoop, I moved on to the step aerobics and the boxing. I'm not sure how, but the boxing is actually a pretty decent work out. Even for an uncoordinated sod like myself.

Well, I'm fast running of Tuesday so I'll call it a night. Head on ever to Keely's for more Random Tuesday Thoughts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stephen Hawking and what he has to do with health care reform

The answer is: not much. Or at least he wouldn't have if Investor's Business Daily hadn't run this editorial in which the author says, and I quote, "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

There's just one problem.

Hawking is British. Born there. Lived there all his life. And recently visited a NHS hospital.

So much for being told to "curl up in a corner and die". It is this kind of uninformed rhetoric that is driving the debate on health care reform towards the loony bin.  The facts, apparently, don't matter. The House bill will NOT force seniors into mandatory visits by "counselors" designed to ease them into euthanasia. It DOES provide for more information and education about living wills. Having had an elderly parent with COPD and emphysema who had no wish to be sustained mechanically, I can tell you that a living will is not about giving up and choosing to die.  It is about knowing what your options are when the inevitable arrives and having a plan in place before that happens.

The National Down Syndrome Congress's statement on health care sounds quite a bit like the current House bill. Far from death panels designed to determine whether an individual with Downs will get health care, this system would provide them with comprehensive coverage.

As someone who has a "preexisting" condition, every time we change insurance I cringe. Will this be the time that I'm denied coverage? Or will they cover me, but not the treatment for my condition? As someone who's been denied care in the past by insurance companies, I have no illusions.  All it takes is some insurance committee to decide that I'm costing them too much money.

Our current system already has all the conditions in place that the opponents of health care espouse-rationing and discrimination of those with disabilities, the elderly and the sick.  We see it in the faces of those whose only choice is to go to the emergency room, the chronically ill who can't afford needed medication, and in those who are denied coverage because of preexisting conditions or treatments deemed "experimental" that have decades long track records overseas.

We need health care reform. We need it now.

H/T to the Daily DishAlex Massie of the Spectator and Anonymous Liberal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"Relentless" by Dean Koontz

I've read a lot of Dean Koontz over the years. There's almost always a dog, generally a Golden Retriever, in his books. At least the best ones. This book is no exception.

I'm not going to give away anything here, I hope. I do encourage you to read the book, however. It's a good story. Good vs Evil with Good triumphant in the end. But there's also a heavy dose of commentary on American culture. That's not nearly so hopeful.

Case in point:

"In the hearts and minds of modern men and women, there is an inescapable awareness that something is wrong with this slice of history they have inherited, that in spite of the towering cities and the mighty armies and the science-fiction technology made real, the moment is fragile, the foundation undermined.
..."But if disaster came, it would be the collapse of civilization, not the end of the world. This blue transparent sky, the sea, the shore, the land, the dark evergreens ever rising--all would endure, unaffected by human misery."
..."Fire, ice, asteroids and pole shifts are bogeymen with which we distract ourselves from the real threat of our time. In an age when everyone invents his own truth, there is no community, only factions. Without community, there can be no consensus to resist the greedy, the envious, the power-mad narcissists who seize control and turn the institutions of civilization into a series of doom machines.
Have a nice day." Relentless, pp.265-266

As depressing as that may be, and the character speaking at that point has every reason to be depressed, there is this redemptive passage at the end:

"Evil itself may be relentless, I will grant you that, but love is relentless, too. Friendship is a relentless force. Family is a relentless force. Faith is a relentless force. The human spirit is relentless, and the human heart outlasts--and can defeat--even the most relentless force of all, which is time." Relentless, p. 356.

Koontz has dealt with some disturbing themes in his novels--from serial killers feed by the theory of utilitarian bioethics to quasi-government agencies bent on ruling the world through the encouragement of chaos and nihilism to voodoo-- and this one is no exception. In the end, I feel he believes in the triumph of the human spirit but not necessarily human civilization. It's a commentary I can relate to in these days of madness.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Frank Schaeffer tells it like it is...

Finally. Someone went on national television and said what so many of us have been thinking and blogging.

Money quotes:

"I am not at all optimistic about how this is going to end in terms of violence, although I do think Obama is going to win the day in terms of most Americans. The problem is we're not talking about most Americans. We're talking about a small angry group of white people who to paraphrase Bart Simpson, the election broke their brains. They're angry and they're ready to do just about anything to stop the process at this point because they'd rather see us all lose than  admit defeat. "

"Their coded message to their own lunatic fringe is very simple. And that is: go for broke. When you start comparing a democratically elected  President who is not only our first Black President but a moderate progressive, to Adolph Hitler, you have arrived at a point where you are literally leaving a loaded gun on the table, saying the first person who wants to come along and use this, go ahead, be our guest. Now, all these people when something bad happens will raise their holy hands in horror and says of course we didn't mean that, we were just talking about being American and its American to protest. B.S.  They know exactly what's out there."

"Now, we've crossed a line in which hate and vitriol have gone to a point where it is anti-Democratic and anti-American. These people do not want America to succeed. They would rather see our system go down than have a Black President, someone with different political views, someone appointing people like Sotomayor, hispanic people, women and others. And we've arrived at a point where enough is enough. So these people are hate-mongers and they are distributing a kind of information on two levels. One is the lies about the health care system requiring euthanasia and all this nonsense. But on another level, as I say, leaving a loaded gun on the table. They're calling our President Hitler. They're spreading this rhetoric, spreading these lies. It isn't just a question of being bad journalists anymore, these are bad Americans and they're putting all of us at risk."

It is all the more telling for who Frank Schaeffer is. The son of the evangelist Francis Schaeffer who, along with former Surgeon general C. Everett Koop, essentially created the pro-life movement, Schaeffer   has become a prominent out-spoken commentator against the very people he and his father used to form the pro-life movement.

H/T to Crooks and Liars for posting this excerpt. And kudos as well to Rachel Maddow, the last sane journalist in America, who let Mr. Schaeffer speak uninterrupted. Would that there were more of you Miss Rachel.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

I think I just threw up a little...

Sarah Palin has taken her one woman clown show to Facebook. Yes, that's right. Facebook. She has her own official Facebook page and on that page she has a note. A note, in Facebook parlance, is a lot like a blog posting.

In this note she says the following:
"And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."

This is fear mongering at its worst. Apparently, Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska (a position her Facebook page says she still holds) so she would have no restraints on her speech. No more worries about being politically safe. Now she's free to say whatever she wants. In appears that she's setting herself up to join the ranks of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

This incessant talk of government rationing of health care really pisses me off. We already have rationing of health care. It's called those who can't afford to pay, don't get the care they need.  

You want to talk evil? Let's talk about an insurance company that refuses to pay $6,000 for care for your premature infant because this days old infant has a preexisting condition.  As if a newborn could have a preexisting condition. 

The system we have is broken. Completely and totally broken. Yet the health care industry has such deep pockets that they're able to buy pundits and congressman alike. They in turn strive to stir up fear and we end up with shouting matches at town halls across the country. And outright lies from the likes of Sarah Palin.

The Right don't want rational discourse. What they want is power. If the only way they can regain that power is through violence, I think they're is okay with that. I'm afraid of where all the rhetoric and fear mongering is going to lead. 

Sarah Palin seems to be right in the thick of it once again. For the life of me I cannot see what people see in her. I happen to know two people who are supporters on Palin's Facebook page.  They're smart, educated women who, in their heart of hearts, think I'm the one who is deluded. 

I can't discuss with them about anything remotely resembling politics. We simply don't have a common basis to start such a discussion. The assumptions that we begin with are so diametrically opposed that it's simply not possible to engage them in calm, rational discourse. 

If I can't talk to people I know about this kind of thing, how can I connect someone I've never met? The utter disconnect that's present in this "dialog" on health care seems insurmountable. Neither side is willing to seek middle ground. The loudest voices on both sides deride and denigrate their counterparts and nothing of substance is said. 

I'm afraid for this country. The talking points and vitrol that spew forth on the airwaves remind in me no small part of the build up to the Civil War.  If those invested in maintaining the status quo keep the fires of discontent burning bright, I fear that we will find ourselves enmeshed in an increasingly dangerous and violent atmosphere that will push us to the brink of destruction. 

Hope seems a rare commodity in this climate.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

It's Wednesday so you know what's next. It's been a real struggle lately to find good bits for this post but I think I found a few.

We start with one most of you have no doubt heard by now. Trina Thompson is suing Monroe College for reimbursement of her $70,000 tuition since she has been unable to secure a job. She claims the career advancement center at the college is doing nothing to help her find a job. I suppose now that the grace period is over for her student loans, she looking for a way to make her payments. Still, unless this college guaranteed her a job, which of course they didn't, then she's pretty much up shit creek. Like so many others.

Next is yet another tale of no good deed goes unpunished. Jim Nicholson was fired for thwarting a bank robbery. He demanded to see a weapon and then chased the would-be robber down. This behavior is, for obvious reasons, discouraged by banks, the FBI and police. Nicholson describes himself as an adrenaline junkie. Ya think?

Now this one is right up there in the annals of stupid criminals. Indeed, this guy should have his picture next to the entry in the dictionary. Lindsey Philips, Jr was arrested after fleeing from police. What might have spurred this action? Well, for starters he was towing a lawn mower and a weedeater. With his moped. We can be assured there was no high speed chase involved but the lawn mower was definitely stolen. Dweeb.

And last is a new website that I may just have to visit. Dan Florio has created a site he calls As you might guess from the name, it purports to tell you when the best time to make a dash to the little girls room will be while watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster. It's also available as, you guessed it, an iPhone app.

That's it for today. Here's hoping the stories get better next week. Maybe everyone's on summer vacation.

The Daily Show Does it Again

This has to be the funniest thing I have seen in some time and so sums up what is wrong with so many Republican Congress Critters.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Chuck Grassley's Debt and Deficit Dragon
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorSpinal Tap Performance

Through the glory that is DVR, I backed it up and watched it twice. Youngest and I applauded at the end. It was simply glorious.

I also loved the bit that made fun of the pundits and their predictions of "the end of the presidency" if Obama fails to pass health care reform. Especially, this: "He'll probably end up some two bit partisan troll. A shell of his former self. His outward physical appearance slowly reflecting the putrification of of his soul. A Harvey Fierstein-esque conservative minstrel rolling from town to town in a rented conversion van, Each day a carbon copy of the last with only the changing of his three gravy stained red speech ties to mark the progression of time. And every sunrise an incandescent fuck you from a God that long ago abandoned him."

That my friends is pure literature.

Spin Cycle- Recycling your favorite post

This was originally written on January 22, 2009. I repost it today for the Spin Cycle.

As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary :

1com·pro·mise           Listen to the pronunciation of 1compromise
Middle English, mutual promise to abide by an arbiter's decision, from Anglo-French compromisse, from Latin compromissum, from neuter of compromissus, past participle ofcompromittere to promise mutually, from com- + promittere to promise — more at promise
15th century
1 a: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions b:something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
If I remember my history classes correctly, those documents that we claim to hold so dear- the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, even the Declaration of Independence- were written after much compromise.
The US Constitution, especially, is a document of compromise. Our House and Senate representation was determined by compromise and represents one of the best examples of how this ideal is supposed to work. One side wanted the larger states to have more say in running the federal government. The other side, composed of primarily smaller states, wanted equal representation. Thus, the Great Compromise was formed. The House would have a population based representation and the Senate would give every state an equal vote.
Somewhere along the line, the popular definition and perception of compromise changed. Now, we see compromise as failure, as giving in and losing our principles, an act in which no one wins. The true meaning of the word is just the opposite. With compromise, you find common ground. Each side gives something up so that the greater good can be accomplished. Neither side loses. An agreement is reached. A promise is made that allows both sides to achieve some portion of their goals. It inherently seeks the middle ground and recognizes that there is often no clear winner or loser, no absolutely right or absolutely wrong, no black or white but instead shades of grey.
This is not something new to the last 8 years. It has been a long, long time coming and the only way to root out the cancer of partisanship is to deliberately seek the middle ground. We must spurn liberal and conservative pundits alike; refute the labels of wing nut and socialist; strive to see the common humanity in each of us. As long as we listen to those who believe their way is the only way, whatever that way may be, we will remain divided. The great unheard mass of moderate America must learn to speak loudly and clearly in order to forcibly shed the partisan ways of the past.

If we can no longer see ourselves as Red State or Blue State; Democrat or Republican; Liberal or Conservative, then we can at last begin the work so desperately needed to rebuild our economy and restore the peoples' faith in government. If we cannot make a conscious effort to change our ways, to seek the middle ground, our great nation will go the way of Rome.
Unless and until we can remember the true meaning of compromise that founded this nation, we will remain a house divided and deserving of our fate.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh. My. God.

They're remaking that 80s classic Red Dawn.

Why? And just who is going to be the bad guy in this flick? Not the Soviet Union. They're gone. Can't see the Chinese. Who wants to piss them off? Not the Canadians, either. Sorry, Bad Tux ;)  I know! I know!

The Right-Wing nutjobs! They'll be the bad guy! They'll try to take over the country and be thwarted by high school students. Yes!

I'd watch that.

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RTT- It's hot in Texas and other things

Hey there! It's Tuesday and I'm back with Random Tuesday Thoughts. If you want more randomness, go visit the Unmom. We could all use a little randomness.

So, it's hot in Texas, in case you didn't know. We've had 44 days this year with triple digit highs. Interspersed in there have been lots of days in the 90s, enough to bring the total number of miserable days in 2009 to at least 55 or so.

And it's just August. We won't see any relief until at least the end of September. We could easily hit 50 days over 100 by then. Today's expected to be number 45...

Speaking of the crazy weather, while it's 100 degrees or more outside, the current indoor temperature is 69. My corner of the office is an icebox. About 6 feet away, it's 72. And at the other end of the office it's probably about 75. No matter how many times we have the building maintenence ijit come in, we can't get the temperature balanced. It's freaking nuts.

The car finally gets to go into the shop tomorrow and get the AC fixed. So tonight's drive home should be the last time we bake in triple digit heat. Lovely timing. Screwed up AC and a heat wave. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.

I've been thinking a lot lately about moving. It won't happen anytime soon, of course, but I am so tired of the heat and other things best left unsaid that I am ready to chuck it all in. Where would I move? Personally, I'm ready to leave the country. Vancouver sounds good. Or the UK. Hell, even France. But most assuredly out of Round Rock. Eventually, we hope to move back into Austin and cut our commute time drastically.

Yes, I know, Austin is still in the US and Texas, for that matter. While I may whine about health care reform and wing nuts and everything else that seems to be burning at a fever pitch these days, I don't actually see myself moving out of the country. But a girl can dream.

Mostly, the current mess we're in, both in Texas and Washington, just doesn't seem to be headed anywhere but down the shitter. Tea-baggers disrupting town halls on health care reform. Beck and Hannity and Dobbs screaming nonsense non-stop. Citizens with a petition delaying marriage reform after a perfectly legal legislative process in Maine. America is just plain crazy, I tell you. And the rest of the world isn't much better.

Robert Heinlein and his future history stories have a period in world history dubbed the Crazy Years. Damn, if I don't think old Bob hit that one on the head. If these aren't crazy times, I don't know what is. Personally, some of these right-wing extremists scare the poop out of me. More than the random crazy people with their guns and their stockpiles of food and what have you, the right wing media scares me. They're mainstreaming the lunatic fringe with their talk of birth certificates and socialism and fascism and whatever else they're smoking. Telling people the President hates white people. I mean, what point is there to that other than to stoke resentment and hatred?

Crazy, mad times. I think the Chinese must have cursed us with that "May you live in interesting times" bull crap.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Puppy Update!!

Well, it's been a while so I thought I'd catch up. Plus, I have new pictures.

At last weigh in on the Wii she was up to 44.5 pounds. And that was several weeks ago. That's officially as much as Myrddin. She's not quite as tall as he is yet, but the current prediction is that she will be bigger than Rowan by the end of the year.

She's been spayed, so no puppies. Yea. We hoped that she would slow down for a day or two after her surgery, but it was an effort to keep her from jumping on the couch or running after the boys from the moment we brought her home. She healed just fine, despite herself. We've had to adjust her collar twice since her surgery, so she's back to growing like a weed. She's rapidly becoming huge.

She has, additionally, gotten herself banned from the dog park. We feel she needs some serious obedience lessons before we'll feel comfortable. She runs from anything bigger than herself and bullies anything smaller. Generally, at some point we have to put the leash back on her and drag her away from whomever she's growling and snarling and snapping at. So far, no one has complained but it's only a matter of time. So, she gets to stay home until she can learn some manners.

This is her after we got home from our last foray to the park:

She came home, plopped down in front of the water dish and hogged it for about 5 minutes until she finally gave it up and let the boys drink. The paw in the dish is par for the course. She's forever sticking a paw in while she drinks. It only adds to the lake that forms every time.

Here are some more pictures from the park. They really enjoy themselves, especially Myrddin and Rowan. Aibhne, too, when she isn't being a pill. That's her way back in the background with the curly tail.

Just in case you forgot, this is what she looked like when we brought her home:

My how things have changed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

August 1, 1966

The disturbing saga of Charles Whitman and the Tower shootings at the University of Texas began around midnight on August 1, 1966 with the murders of Margaret Whitman and Kathleen Whitman, his mother and wife. Then he went on to the observation deck of the Tower and began what, until Cho went mad at Virginia Tech 2 years ago, was the worst and, the first, school shooting in modern American history.

He purchased a M1 Carbine and a shotgun that morning, added to them to his collection of a Remington bolt-action hunting rifle with scope, a second shotgun and M1 and a handgun and placed them all in a footlocker with some other equipment. He toted that footlocker on a rented dolly to the University of Texas campus and entered the Main Building around 11:30 A.M. He made his way up the elevator to the floor below the observation deck, lugged his equipment up stairs after knocking out Edna Townsley with a fatal blow to the head and barricaded the stairs. He shot at a family climbing those stairs to the observation deck, which at the time was open to the public, killing 2.

All together, he killed 16 and wounded 32 until he was fatally shot at 1:24 P.M. by Austin Police Department Officer Houston McCoy, who traversed an underground tunnel to the Main Building with APD Officers Ramiro Martinez and Jerry Day and civilian Allen Crum.

The Tower is 307 feet tall and is a recognizable feature of the Austin skyline. The Main Building, which sits at its base, houses two libraries, the Admissions and Accounting office, the office of the President, and many other administrative and professorial offices. The observation deck on the Tower was closed for two years after the shooting and again in 1974 after several suicides. It was not reopened to the public until 1999 after security measures were implemented including access restricted to guided tours only.

It is with this history in mind that Texas legislators recently tried to extend the concealed handgun law to allow holders to carry weapons onto state campuses. It was, thank God, defeated. How someone really thinks that a student with a handgun could have ended this tragedy by shooting at Whitman 307 feet above their heads and who had excellent cover and a sniper rifle is really quite beyond me.

Instead, let us remember those who died or had their lives forever changed on that summer day:

Margaret Whitman
Kathleen Whitman
Edna Townsley
Mauguerite Lampor
Mark Gabour
Thomas Eckman
Robert Boyer
Thomas Ashton
Thomas Karr
Billy Speed
Harry Walchuk
Paul Sonntag
Claudia Rutt
Roy Schmidt
Karen Griffith
Claire Wilson's unborn child

John Scott Allen
Billy Bedford
Roland Ehlke
Ellen Evgenides
Avelino Esparza
F. L. Foster
Robert Frede
Mary Frances Gabour
Michael Gabour
Irma Garcia
Nancy Harvey
David Gunby
Robert Heard
Alex Hernandez
Morris Hohmann
Devereau Huffman
Homar J. Kelley
Abdul Khashab
Brenda Gail Littlefield
Adrian Littlefield
Dello Martinez
Marina Martinez
David Mattson
Delores Ortega
Janet Paulos
Lana Phillips
Oscar Rovela
Billy Snowden
C. A. Stewart
Claire Wilson
Sandra Wilson
Carla Sue Wheeler
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