Saturday, May 30, 2009

Out of the Guard but not out of mind

Lt. Dan Choi is one of many LGBT Americans proudly serving in the US military.  By coming out publicly Choi has ended his career.  This is wrong.  This young man is just the kind of person we need in our military- an Arabic linguist, West Point grad and Iraqi combat vet.  Yet by uttering three words, "I am gay", he has been dismissed from the National Guard.

After watching him, maybe he has a new career.  How about a run for Congress Lt. Dan?

Sotomayor and those racist comments

Well, I have done what apparently few others have done and actually read her speech . I encourage you to follow the link and do so as well.

The remarks that have caused such a tempest in a teapot have been taken out of context and used to imply that Judge Sotomayor is racist.  Her speech was entirely focused on race and gender and its affects.  She speaks at great lengths about her personal history and how it influences her.  We'd all be fools to deny this obvious fact- our personal experiences do influence how we see things.  She also goes on to say that though her experiences and cultural background can be influential that she believes that:

 "I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."

She talks of the landmark case Brown v Board of Education and how 9 white male Justices were able to see beyond their background and personal experiences and understand "the values and needs of people from a different group". The ability to see beyond your personal experiences takes time and effort and not all are willing or able to do so and this, she says, is why having women and people of color on the bench at all levels is important.  They're ability to recognize and relate to others' experiences are vital to a healthy, robust judicial system.

As to the right wing talking point that if you took the quote "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life" and changed the speaker and word order to read "I would hope that a wise white male with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a Latina who hasn't lived that life" that the presumed white male speaker would be accused of racism and sexism, they're right.

That does not however, make Sotomayor's comment racist.

I know that doesn't seem logical.  That if one is bigoted that the other is as well. And I don't subscribe to the belief that people of color are incapable of racism.  I do, however, see Sotomayor's greater point and believe that she's right.  Our personal history, experiences and culture do contribute greatly to how we see things.  It's a basic part of what makes us human.  We filter the world through what we have learned, through what we have experienced and through what we believe.  And that last bit is why I do not believe that Sotomayor's remarks are racist.  She doesn't believe that her experiences make her inherently better just different and that as far as those experiences provide her with a point of reference in dealing with cases of discrimination, her decisions would be more informed.

Indeed, Justice Alito said much the same thing in his confirmation hearing.  He said his background and that of his parents as immigrants would influence his rulings on immigration; that he would be forced to see those topics through the filter of his parents' experiences. He said, "when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country."

Yet he was not only confirmed but those comments made no splash at all.  Here is a judge, one could say, telegraphing the fact that he will be incapable of being impartial.  Of course, one could also say that his personal history gives him a different perspective.

We don't want our judges to be robots just as we don't want them to be biased. We ask a great deal of the men and women on the bench. They must know the law and apply it fairly. That this has not been done at times because of the personal filter of racism or sexism or whatever ism you want to use, is an unfortunate reality.  I for one would hope that judges, whether appointed or elected, acknowledge that they may have biases and equally acknowledge that they must rise above them.  Sonia Sotomayor is one of those judges.  She acknowledges that she, like all of us, has personal biases and that she must make every effort to be fair.

It's time to focus on her rulings to see if she has lived up the ideal she espouses. And long past time to stop accusing her of racism.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Watch and add to your site

This is a great counter-argument and I encourage everyone to post it on their own blogs, forward it to their friends and enemies.  The more people who see it the better. H/T (as always) to Joe.My.God

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

I've been out most the last weekend moving my Eldest into her first apartment.  I'd forgotten what a genuine pain in the ass it is to move. But it's that time again and though I may be a bit late, I've still managed to find some jewels.

We begin in Singapore where we have proof that adultery doesn't pay .  A secretary and her boss were at a local park for a little "afternoon delight" when a van hit their parked car.  Not much of a problem except for the fact that the lady was in the act of the "kiss of life" as the article so quaintly puts it and bit down involuntarily at the moment of impact thus severing most of the unfortunate boss's penis.  Luckily, the woman's husband had hired a PI to prove infidelity and he called an ambulance.  While no doubt getting incontrovertible proof.

We move over to Guangzhou, China where an onlooker got tired of waiting for a suicidal man to jump off the Haizhu bridge.  So he broke through police lines and pushed him off . Chen Fuchao fell 26 feet into an emergency air cushion.  He survived and his "assistant" was sent to jail.

Here's proof that no good deed goes unpunished. 81-year-old James Stacy of Ohio is charged with criminal damaging for cleaning out a pot hole with a pick axe and broom prior to the city's scheduled repair.  Stacy denies that he ignored an officer's warning and faces up to 90 days in jail.

A bank in Wellington, New Zealand has lost an undisclosed amount after depositing $6 million dollars into a couple's bank account after they requested $6,000 for an overdraft. The couple withdrew a portion, but seemingly not all, of the funds and disappeared.  Interpol has been asked to help since authorities fear they may have fled the country.  Why does this kind of thing never happen to me?

As nice as discovering $6 million might be finding this next set of items after purchasing a property was probably more than Northlake Church of Christ expected.  The Indiana church bought the defunct Serenity Gardens Funeral Home in Gary and discovered 4 bodies.  The previous owner, Darryl Cammack is quoted as saying that the bodies were "Definitely not. Definitely not. I'm almost positive,"not his responsibility and claimed he sold the funeral home after losing his license in 2006.  Course the state has no record of the sale and a neighbor claims he was the only one she ever saw working there.  So either these bodies have been lying around for 3 years or this yahoo was doing business without a license for 3 years and either way he's pretty damn slip shod to have left 4 bodies lying around around for goodness sakes!

We have a requisite stupid criminal out of Memphis, TN.  Seems that Ezederick Jones decided to rob the local KFC.  Problem was, the mask he picked didn't do much in the way of covering things up and the manager recognized him as an employee she had recently fired. She called him by name and after a brief struggle, he fled. Only to be picked up by police within a few hours.  Now I've heard of disgruntled employees doing some pretty crazy things but this one wasn't too bright.  First step when you plan on robbing or otherwise vandalizing your former employer is to make sure they don't recognize you.

Enough of stupid people, lets move on to odd animal stories.  Our first is out of New Orleans where a rare albino bottle nose dolphin has been sighted.  It's just the 14th reported worldwide and the third in the Gulf of Mexico.  The pink dolphin stands out when he surfaces with 4 grey adults.

Bobby Jenkins got a little more than he bargained for when he decided to help his dog.  Tank got bit by a rattlesnake and Bobby sucked the venom out of the dogs nose .  Both man and beast ended up needing antivenin shots. Tank's head swelled up to three times its normal size and Jenkins actions saved his life.

And last we have the report of a Los Angeles County couple who will be allowed to keep 10 goats, 2 horses, a llama and an emu after agreeing to give up 15 additional goats.  Neighbors had complained but the couple had a permit for 10 goats. They were allowed to keep the rest of the animals on the condition that they build a 6 foot fence to separate the male and female goats thus hopefully reducing the chances for exponential growth. Again.  Goats.  Who would want 25 goats to begin with? They're not living in a farm area but on property zoned light industrial.  Which means their neighbors have things like businesses and such on their property and not goats.  Can't quite wrap my head around that one. Can you imagine coming to work at your local electronics manufacturer and finding goats next door? I have this vision of a tiny "farm" surrounded by warehouses and industrial parks with a rusty windmill in the back yard and goats everywhere.  And lets not forget the llama and emu. What are they doing all day?

Gah!  Time to move on.  See y'all next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 and one step back

As you have no doubt heard by now, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 and it remains the law of the land in California.  The 18,000+ marriages performed between the court ruling approving same-sex marriage and Prop 8 were found to be valid and will NOT be grandfathered.  So at least those couples will remain married.

There have been so many gains made in recent months that it's easy to think that the battle has been won.  Such is not the case.

Despite the fact that for the first time, polls show that a majority of Americans favor civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, there is still much resistance in the halls of government and among the Conservative minority.

And so the fight continues.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Watch this Video!

Share this with anyone and everyone. Send it to your Senators, your Representatives, your friends. Hell, send it to the President.

Spin Cycle- Pets

Go visit Jen over at Sprite's Keeper for more exciting pet stories.

Well, as those of you who have read this blog before know, I have this thing about dogs.  Currently, it extends to 3.  They're over there in the sidebar.  My husband claims I  love them more than the kids on the evidence that I've taken far more pictures of them than the kids.  To which I answer, yeah, but now I have a digital camera. Which makes taking pictures so much easier. Not to mention cheaper.

I've had my share of pets over the years.  A turtle when I was in elementary- boring- but mostly dogs growing up.  With our kids, we've had cats, rats and fish (also boring).

Let me just say this- I am not a cat person.  I don't care for them and the feeling appears to be mutual.  The best cats are ones that belong to someone else.  Cute and worthy of a few strokes of the head but not something to bring home.  I did have a cat of my own once.  Before I realized the folly of cat ownership. This cat was, well, mean as hell.  Dexter was his name.  He was mostly Maine Coon, so he was good sized.

The photo, while not showing off his size, does capture his essential nature- which was evil. Dexter had a thing about men.  He thought all men played (read were playthings) like my husband.  Their play included attempted biting and racking of back claws while my husband held his head.  While this did not injure Hubby (skin like leather) most everyone else fared not so well.  He liked to lure them into a false sense of security.  He'd purr and head butt their hand and when they got comfortable and looked away-he'd attack.  We tried to warn a friend of ours who was certain that he knew cats and would be just fine but as soon as David looked away, Dexter bit him in the webbing between his thumb and forefinger. He got very little sympathy from me.

Dexter had his moments, to be sure.  We got a second cat in the misguided attempt to provide him a "friend". Sheba was sweet, gentle and dumb as dirt.  Dexter loved to chase her around the apartment.  We had a one bedroom apartment at the time that had a series of columns creating a partition between the living room and the dining area. Dexter loved to chase Sheba from the bedroom through the living room between the columns through the dining area and back.  We liked to store a sheet of plexiglass there, propped up against the columns. (We used it for D&D.  We're nerds like that. ANd we still have it 20+ years later.) One day Dexter chased Sheba like always except that when she got to the columns she didn't realize the plexiglass was there.  She hit that piece of plastic head first so hard her butt bounced off the sheet above her head. She staggered off and Dexter, I swear to you, sat in the middle of the living room- and laughed.  About 30 minutes later, he did it to her again.  After which she went and hid under the bed.

Dexter did not adjust well to the arrival of the children and eventually escaped our clutches and made his way solo.  Sheba was much relieved.  And got so bold after his departure that she left us as well.

The girls got their own cats when they were young- Kacie and Sheba the second.  I've written about them before and suffice it to say Kacie was sweet but dumb and Sheba was mean.  Seems like that's all I can find in the feline department.  The girls also had a series of fancy rats.

Rats turned out to be pretty cool.  They have personalities and everything. The only real drawback to rats, besides the cage, is the fact that they only live about 2 to 3 years.  Just long enough to get attached.  I even had a rat.  His name was Duncan and he was huge.  I'd take him out of the cage and he'd dive into  my shirt.  We called him the boob rat.  But he was sweet.  As soon as he felt comfortable, he'd come out and explore. Our last rat earned his name by escaping when we first got him and hiding under the refrigerator.  He was Virgil "The Cooler King" Hilts. He lived the longest of any of our boys- almost 4 years.

Rowan, obviously, liked the rat.  Scooter, being part terrier, did not.  He used to get the shakes whenever we brought them out.  That is, until he got old enough that he couldn't see or smell them any more.
So, those are the pets.  I've had dogs: Jodie, Dingo, Susie, Loche, Scooter, Rowan, Myrddin and Aibhne.  Cats: Dexter, Sheba, Kacie and Sheba. Rats: Cris, Pinkie, Duncan, Pato, Adrian and Virgil.  Fish: Sam, Jack, Daniel, Teal'C, Bael, Vala (Those were Youngest's folly, never to be repeated).  I can safely say that I think animals are generally worth the trouble.  They're great for kids. They not only teach them responsibility but about the inevitable way life ends. I would encourage any one with children over the age of 5 to get a pet if they don't have one already. 
But from now on, I think I'll stick to dogs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

It's Wednesday and time for our weekly weirdness exploration.  We have a variety this week- animals,  people- both stupid and not so- and quasi religious artifacts. With pictures!

We start with the stupid cause they're always good for a laugh.  A juror in Hillsboro, Oregon did what I'm sure many others have thought of doing.  He left the courthouse at lunch and didn't come back. When officers confronted him at his home he said he was bored and "just couldn't take it" any more. He's headed back to court, but not as a juror. 

A man in Ohio called 911 because his grown son wouldn't clean his room. This 28-year-old son, who's also a school board member in Bedford, lives in his parent's basement.  The dad declined to press charges after the arguement because he didn't want to ruin his son's political career.  Uh, news flash.  When folks find out he's a loser that lives in your basement and threw a dish at you when you yelled at him for not cleaning his room, he won't have much of a political career. One hopes.

Let us move on to the not so stupid.  Firefighters in Washington, DC rescued four baby ducks from a storm drain after one them noticed the Mama duck screaming at a storm drain.  They opened it and found the four swimming six feet down.  Mama and babies were taken to animal control who sent them to a rehabilitation center.  No one is sure why the family nested in an area without water.

In Australia, a doctor used a household drill to save a life.  Nicholas Rossi fell off his bike and suffered a head injury.  Dr Rob Carson realized that the boy had internal bleeding similar to that which killed actress Natasha Richardson last month.  His small district hospital had no neurological drills so he borrowed one from maintenance, called a Melbourne neurosurgeon and started drilling.  He safely removed the blood clot.

Next we have a couple who claims to have found Cheesus. Dan and Sara Bell of Dallas found a Cheeto shaped as a praying Jesus.  They plan on auctioning it off on eBay.  But if it pulls in a low bid, they'll just eat it.

No such nonchalance at Mercy Medical Center in Boston.  Here hospital administrators had to remove a window that belivers felt held a vision of the Virgin Mary

The image was formed after rubber seals broke on the double pane window and allowed  mineral deposits to form.  Amazingly enough, the hospital "officials say that doesn't explain why the deposits resemble the Virgin Mary." Um, guys?  This kind of thing is supposed to be unexplainable.  Thus the appeal. Dweebs.

And last I leave you with proof that geese are, well, weird.  Brian MacFarlane caught this photo of a grey goose flying in a wind storm.  Experts call this behavior whiffling.  It's where the bird twists and turns to spill air from its wings to slow its descent prior to landing.  Whatever its called, its an amazing picture.

That's it for today.  See ya'll next week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RTT- I'm baaaack!

It's Tuesday. I'm not dead. Go see Keely at the UnMom for more randomness.

So about 1AM last Friday morning/Thursday night I started hurling the contents of my gastrointestinal track out what eventually became both ends. It sucked. There is really nothing worse than puking until you reach the dry heaves and beyond; not to mention the south end. After about 6 hours of that I was so wiped out it took two days to recover.

Alas and alack, I was well enough to return to work Monday but not before giving it to my Eldest who was/is home for all of one week between Spring and Summer semesters. Sorry, kiddo. So far no one else has gotten it. Maybe its that we've taken to spraying down the toilet with bleach solution but I could be wrong.

To add insult to injury, our car blew up on the way home from work Thursday. As in the timing belt broke and murdered the engine while at highway speed. $1250 later, we learned the extent of the timing belt's perfidy and that the only recourse is to replace the engine at an additional $3000 cost. Yea us! This killed our plans to pay off our property taxes, buy Eldest a new bed for her first apartment and my plans to help her settle in and maybe buy a few other niceties.

Since we have just the one car, we're using Eldest's POS this week. It has no working AC, no working blinkers and idles rough enough to hit 40 without putting your foot on the gas. Since our vehicle will not be resurrected until late next week, at some point we will be renting a car. It just keeps getting better and better.

If it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all.

The only really good news is that the weather has been nice, but since I've just written that down for the entire Interwebs to see, it will reach 100 tomorrow.

Sometimes, life just sucks.

Speaking of nice weather, it was pretty miserable here last week between the rain and the humidity and the heat. So of course our low bid piece of crap AC decides to sputter. It has the strangest design of any unit I have ever seen. There's this damn bobber that shuts off the unit but not the fan whenever it detects too much condensation in the overflow. First of all, I had no idea that that was even an issue for an AC unit. Second of all, why the hell does the fan keep running if it ain't cooling? What is the point in that, I ask you. So it has this tube that runs from the inside unit under the house and ends outside by the compressor. We finally decided that it was this drain that must somehow be the problem. So Hubby, being the clever type (read squeaky type) took his plumbing snake and tried to see if there was a clog. He pulled out the most disgusting thing from that drain. It looked like a giant foot-long earthworm had crawled up the pipe and died. After about half an hour of snaking and flushing we finally got all the gunk cleaned out and it runs!

Which in Texas is no small thing. Come about August of every year, as the daily temperature reaches 100 and stays there, I wonder how the state ever got settled in the first place. Do you know how miserable 100+ temps combined with 75% and up humidity can be? Now imagine that heat without an AC unit to keep your brain from melting. Those folks were made of sterner stuff than I.

Well, that's all I have time for right now. Back to work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'd pay to see this...

H/T to (you guessed it) to Joe.My.God.

Almost makes you want to go to Singapore, don't it?

Politics as Usual

First of all, a big H/T to Andrew Sullivan. I may not always agree with you but you hit this one on the head.

As we await the sixth state in our union to grant same-sex marriage, it's time to reflect on the promises made and seemingly forgotten by Obama.  One of the reasons I voted for Obama last November had to do with the change he represented for the LGBT community.

If you recall, he supported a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. While he favored civil unions over civil marriage for same-sex couples, he at least admitted the importance of their struggle.

Now, these issues are pushed aside and handled with the non-answers that beg the question: Was Obama only giving lip service to the LGBT family and their allies?

To paraphrase Andrew Sullivan, many politicians have used gay rights as something that seem fine to give the illusion of supporting (they make for great fundraising in certain locales) but always something far too explosive to actually deal with once elected. Of course, I suppose that's better than the opposition who use the bugaboo of the homosexual agenda to stir up the base (also good for fundraising).

I hoped that Obama was different.  I believed him when he said he would support equal rights for same-sex couples. I believed him when he said we were needlessly wasting American talent by enforcing DADT and discharging LGBT service members.  Now, those promises have been watered down, at best, and ignored at worst.

Yes, there is the economy looming over all our collective heads.  There are the wars and the torture issue and Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh flapping their gums.  Yes, it will take time to legislatively deal with DADT and DOMA. But there are things that can be done now without Congress that could stem the tide of dishonorable discharges and show the LGBT community that he still cares, that he still remembers his promises.

An executive order calling for a moratorium on further discharges under DADT until such time as Congress can take up the issue would be a first step in the right direction.

When someone like Lt. Dan Choi, an Arabic linguist, officer in the Army National Guard and West Point graduate is dismissed simply because he is gay, we all lose.  That Obama refuses to take the simple step of signing an executive order to stop his dismissal and that of other service members calls into question his sincerity.

I say to you Mr President that the tide is turning.  Standing up for the rights of LGBT people is not the political death sentence that it is once was.  Remember the promises that you made and avoid the political expediency that so many around you are no doubt encouraging.  Do the right thing.

I leave you with this reminder as well. The electorate is awake, we're pissed off and we're paying attention.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Weirdness

For a change of pace, I thought I would see if I could find odd news without using any of the ubiquitous stupid criminal stories. Some weeks that type of news seems to be the only thing out there and stupid criminals are always good for a laugh, to be sure, but it gets old. Amazingly enough, I have managed to find several non-crime based oddities out there.

We start with a story out of Houston.  Obstetricians are expecting a baby boom.  Why? It's nine month since Hurricane Ike, that's why. Ike put Houston in the dark for a week or more in some parts of the city.  Without TV or open restuarants or malls, what else was there to do?

From the man who brought you Dippin Dots, I give you coffee dots.  Just add hot water. With the recession and a series of lawsuits, the creator of Dippin Dots, Curt Jones, is looking for ways to expand his business.  He thinks flash freezing fresh brewed coffee may be the ticket.  I can't see it.  How do you sell these things?  Certainly not in the format we've all come to know with Dippin Dots. I think the jury's out on this one.

Next is a confused moose from Maine.  He got spooked and jumped over the wrong section of guardrail along I-95. Instead of landing in a field, he landed on Hinckley Road.  This isn't the funny part.  The funny is the person who called 911 to report a moose falling from the sky. It must have been fairly freaky to be in the underpass and see a moose fall in front of you.

I think I may send the next story to our office administrator. She gets the lovely quarterly job of cleaning out the refrigerator.  In San Jose, the smell was so bad from the dirty fridge 911 was called in on a report of noxious fumes.  The hazmat team responded and 7 people ended up in the hospital. Interestingly, the person cleaning the fridge wasn't one of them.  Her allergies kept her from smelling a thing.

These next two involve that lovely time honored tradition known as Prom.  An Ohio school tried to revisit "Footloose" by suspending a student who went to a Prom at another school.  Tyler Frost was suspended from Heritage Christian School and prohibited from attending graduation because he took his girlfriend to her Prom. His school bans dancing, rock-music and hand-holding but Tyler thought it would be okay. One has to wonder why he is attending a fundamentalist Baptist school if he thinks that they wouldn't mind about a little dance.

As bad as that is, a school in Pennsylvania did something far worse.  They gave away shot glasses as Prom souvenirs.  The assistant principal now admits that this probably gave the wrong impression. Ya think? He blames the Junior classes lack of funds and notes that the purchase order did not detail what the principal was signing off on.

And last we end with a lovely story about the little website that could.  Shane Fitzgerald, a student at a Dublin University, decided to see how accountability and accuracy faired in our Internet age. He posted a phony quote on the Wikipedia page for Maurice Jarre following the composer's death in March.  His quote was picked up by bloggers and newspaper website in Britain, India and Australia.  Wikipedia, however, caught the fake quote and removed  it within minutes. Fitzgerald told the newspapers a month after he posted the quote that it was faked. Only one so far as publically admitted its error. Some removed the quote without mentioning why and others have done nothing. Just goes to show you that you can't trust everything you read on the Interwebs.

That's it for this week.  See you next time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Of Dogs and Awards

Aliceson over at Feet off the Table gave me the "Lovely Blog" Award since I've had my home taken over my four-legged critters.  It's been requested that I tell a few dog stories. Thanks, Aliceson.

Well. as current readers know, I have three dogs: Rowan, Myrddin and Aibhne.  (Technically, Aibhne is Youngest's dog. She paid for her.)  I've owned, or been owned depending on your point of view, several dogs over the years.  
Scooter was a mutt rescued from the pound.  We were never sure what his heritage might be- definitely some terrier, maybe some long-haired dachshund- but we didn't really care.  He was my dog.  He would follow me from room to room when he was younger.  We got him when Youngest was maybe a  year old. In fact, Youngest's first complete sentence was in reference to Scooter: "Dunno. Dog ate it." He was a handful when he was a pup, digging and running off. We actually rescued him from the pound twice but once he got a little older he was a great dog.  He had his quirks, for sure.  He hated the vacuum cleaner and would bark and bite at it until we had to put him outside.  He liked to play hide and seek with Hubby and was quite persistent at it.  I could also get him to bark on cue by yelling "help me!". He died about 3 weeks after we got Myrddin last year.  He was mostly blind and mostly deaf and completely incontinent.  Actually, it was more that he just didn't give a shit. If he got your attention at the door, great. If no, that was okay by him too. He was 17 when died. I cried like a baby. 

Rowan joined us when  Scooter was 14 and we hoped to give him some companionship in his golden years.  Rowan thought Scooter was great. Scooter, on the other hand, was not so sure about the oafish puppy but mostly ignored him. From Scooter, Rowan learned how to pee.  No lifting of legs for the arthritic elder statesman, he squatted like a girl.  Rowan picked up on it and still goes this way. And passed the quirk onto Myrddin.  

Rowan is quite intelligent and with that intelligence comes his share of neuroses.  He is afraid of fireworks, the tile floor and plastic bags.  Fireworks makes some sense I suppose. But the tile?  And its not all the tile, really. It's just the tile in the entry.  His fear of this varies. Sometimes, he is completely unable to cross the entry and get to our bedroom. Our entry has a step down into the living room on one side and a step down into the hall to our room on the other.  One goes down to carpet, the other more tile and both are all of two or three inches high.  The best we can figure is that once when he was a puppy he lost his traction going over the step into the hall and slid into the wall. Cause it's really the step that does him in.  He will creep up to the step and peer around the wall and rock back and forth trying to screw up the courage to take the plunge.  When he finally does, if he can, he doesn't just walk calmly. No, he has to run full tilt, legs akimbo and scamper into our room and generally onto the bed.  Sometimes, he just can't do it. He'll look at us and whine and then give up.  Now, when he leaves the entry he can't turn around. No, he has to back off. As in move in reverse.  If you get in his way, he'll move forward, look over his shoulder and try to maneuver around you. I will admit that there are times when I have done this.  Don't forget, this is a 62 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback/Boxer mix that his been known to scare people with his basso profundo bark. Yet the entry tile is his personal nemesis . It's hilarious.  One day, I WILL get it on video. He's also afraid of plastic bags.  Shake out a grocery bag and he'll clear the room.  He also has a licker problem, as in he loves to lick you, himself, the couch, the blanket, the other dogs, any damn thing actually.  That or corn cob it.

Myrddin is a Catahoula.  That's a breed of hunting dog from Louisiana.  He is one goofy dog.  He's afraid of things, too.  Loud sounds, mostly,  but also not so sure of people outside the family.  He takes a really long time to decide that someone is okay.  They have to come over many, many times before he agrees to stay in the same room or stop barking at them and forget about getting close enough to be pet, that's right out.  Though, once he decides that you're okay, he is politely friendly. Myrddin is not an enthusiastic greeter. Rowan will knock you down if you don't brace for impact.  Myrddin will come up to you but he doesn't jump on you.  He's a gentleman to Rowan's clown.  What he really likes to do is chase things- birds, butterflies, airplanes, motorcycles, garbage trucks. If it's in the air, he'll run after it. He even bounds like a gazelle, almost like he's trying to fly himself.  The funniest thing I've ever seen him do was spin in place because he couldn't decide who to bark at- the motorcycle on the other side of the fence or the squirrel on the roof. They were close enough to each other that he ended up spinning in a circle barking.  When he gets in a frenzy of barking, its hard to stop him. Rowan, who doesn't like it anymore than we do, will get fed up if he's outside while Myrddin is barking.  He's been known to charge across the yard and run Myrddin over like a linebacker.  And when you've been run over by a solid 62 pound dog, you now it.  Unless you're Myrddin. If you're him you just bounce back up and keep going.  But without the barking.

If Rowan is the fruitcake and Myrddin is the freak, Aibhne is the Frank.  As in Frank the pug from Men in Black.  When she thinks you're doing something she doesn't like she growls just like Frank in the movie. When she was a tiny pup we could hold her and turn her on her side back and forth like Tommy Lee does in the movie to the pug and get the exact same noise.  She likes to chase her tail and chase the boys.  All the things that set off the boys- plastic bags, fireworks, the tile- they have no effect on her.  She is fearless.  See that strange look she's giving Myrddin up there?  She gives both of them that look whenever they start doing something she doesn't understand.  Both Myrddin and Rowan like to chase light from a flashlight or laser pointer.  They go nuts.  She doesn't get it. (Rowan, in fact, is so mad for the light that you have to be careful with him in the car that your iPod or watch crystal or a soda can or some damn thing doesn't reflect the light cause he will go nuts trying to get at it. He also knows the words flashlight and laser pointer. Seriously, those are banned words in our house cause he gets so hyper when he hears them.) Aibhne does, however, think the vacuum cleaner is neat to chase. While the boys think its something they need to hide from. 

I've had lots of dogs growing up, but always smaller dogs. Now that I've owned larger dogs, I'm not going back. Maybe it was just the breeds that we had when I was growing up (Miniature Poodle and Cairn Terrier) but they were not anywhere nearly as entertaining or loyal.  Except for the one thing the Poodle did.  I grew up in Houston and roaches were a constant battle.  And not just any roach. They were the big kind. We called them tree roaches. They were at least an inch or two long and the fuckers could fly. This dog, Jodie, liked to catch a roach, flip it onto its back and slowly pull off its legs.  Generally on just one side.  She'd even roll on them and listen for the "pop".  She would eventually get bored with it and walk away.  This was the best part.  We'd wait.  Sooner or later the roach would decide that she was gone and flip itself over.  At which point it could only crawl in circles because of the aforementioned one-sided leg pulling.  Then, we'd kill it and put it out of our misery.  Guess what? Aibhne appears to be channeling the ghost of Jodie. We don't get them too often but she has had the opportunity to follow in Jodie's footsteps.  She got bored too quickly to really do the job right but I have high hopes that I will once again have a roach killer in the house.
As you know if you've been paying attention, I am a dog person.  I think they're wonderful beings who can teach us a few things if we'll let them.  I leave you with some of my favorite quotes about dogs. 

"Every world has dogs or their equivalent, creatures that thrive on companionship, creatures that are of a high order of intelligence although not of the highest, and that therefore are simple enough in their wants and needs to remain innocent. The combination of their innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite." Dean Koontz, "One Door Away from Heaven"

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." - Unknown

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace." - Milan Kundera

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”- Samuel Butler

RTT-Also known as I have no idea what to write

It's Tuesday. You all should know what that means by now. Grab the link to the Unmom, pull up a chair and watch the madness begin.

So I just finished watching this clip form Larry King live on Crooks and Liars. He had on Jesse Ventura. You know, the former Governor of Minnesota, former actor and former wrestler. Also former Navy SEAL. Mr. Ventura holds no punches and let everyone know what he thinks about Bush, Cheney and waterboarding. As someone who has actually experienced waterboarding as part of his SEAL training, Ventura speaks with some authority. Guess what he says it is?
Speaking of Minnesota, they still only have one senator. What is it with Coleman that he just can't give up? At this point to have to wonder who's telling him to keep fighting this losing cause. It certainly isn't anyone sane.

So Aliceson over at Feet off the Table has given me a nifty award in part because the person who gave it to her did so because of her dog, Oliver. She passed it on to me because of my 3 dogs. Seems she thinks I may have a few dog stories to tell. Well... I do but not right now cause I'm at work and need my photos to properly illustrate. So you'll have to wait. Sorry.

I have to show you what Youngest got me for Mother's Day.

Yes, that's a facehugger from Alien. It's on my computer at work. She was very excited to have found it and hopefully I wasn't too appalled taken aback by finding it on the picture frame outside my bedroom Sunday morning.

Eldest will be home Friday for a week. She has to move out of the dorm but can't move into her apartment for another week. She has a long list of things she has to do here and then she wants us all to help her move in/buy her stuff for her apartment. Joy!

Since I have to refrain from dog/puppy stories until later I suddenly find I can think of nothing else to add but dog stories. Typical. How about a cat story instead? Let me preface by saying I am not a cat person. My daughters had cats as pets when they were young and I really never want to have any more. One of them was slightly crazed. We had a cat door into the garage where we kept the litter box. When this cat was no more than a year old she did somthing amazingly clutzy-she broke her knee going through the cat door. It had a hard plastic flap and she would poke at it a couple of times before she got the nerve up to dash through. And she never just walked calmly though, she always had to hit it at a run. This time, her knee got caught between the flap and the edge of the door. It cost us $400 we didn't have to get a pin in the cat's knee. Ever after, she charged through the cat door (which was evenutally replaced with a soft flap) as if the hounds of hell were on her tail. Sometimes she's run across the entire length of the house trying to escape their evil (invisible) clutches. This was a cat who made cats look bad. She routinely fell off things.

The other cat, in contrast, was a typcial cat. In other words, she had a mean streak a mile long. (I TOLD you I don't like cats. No nasty-grams, please). She would sidle up to the dog and act all lovey-dovey and as soon as he looked at her, just looked, she would haul off and hit him. it got to the point where he would look pretty comical trying desperately not to make eye contact. He always failed. And she always hit him. She also loved to mark Oldest's backpacks. We went through at elast one a school year because she would nuke them. This indiscriminate marking is what eventually got her kicked outside to become an outdoor cat. After I had had enough one day, I picked her up and tossed her out the front door. She hit the ground running and would charge back into the house. It took me threes tries with the last one being the winner, because I flipped her when I tossed, to get the door closed. After she got over being mad at me for this unbecoming action, she adapted just fine to being outside and even enjoyed herself. Except when it rained. But I considered that pay back for all the things she ruined over the years.

Ugh. That's about all I have to say today. I need to get back to work.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spin Cycle- Prom

Sprite's Keeper has a weekly meme she calls the Spin Cycle.  I haven't participated in a while and I wasn't planning on it this week until I saw Pseudo's spin.  Like Pseudo, I never attended the Prom. So this Cycle seemed one I couldn't participate in. But I like her take on the idea and thought I'd toss in my two cents.

No one asked me to the Prom. I didn't date in high school and the idea of going to the Prom dateless was unappealing.  My daughters however did go.  Eldest, like me, didn't date, but she had a group of friends that went, some with dates and some without.  At the time of her proms, Hubby was still in college and we were pretty broke.  No fancy dresses for her.  But she managed to cobble together something pretty cool and spent what money we could afford on her hair.

This was no small task since her hair was and is long, straight and thick.  It reaches to her waist.  It was a major production to do anything with it.  I wish I could find a picture of it but I fail as a parent.  It took about a 100 pins to put up and looked fairly amazing.

The picture I do have of her is from her Second Chance Prom in 2007 at college.  This is the outfit she wore to her Junior prom, minus the nifty up-do.

(Yes, her hair is purple. The last foot, as in 12 inches, was dyed purple at the time)

Youngest had the uncanny ability of finding dresses for Prom at a reasonable cost. Which, even though Hubby was gainfully employed by then, still helped tremendously.  She went to her Junior prom with her best friend and to her Senior with her then boyfriend.

(She hates this picture by the way. I'm scoring serious points for posting it for all to see. Mother's privilege).

Dress shopping with Youngest and her girlfriends was entertaining.  For this last dress we had 3 girls and myself.  One of these girls wasn't even going to the prom, she was just along for moral support.  
Modern Proms are major productions. Their high school had the event in Austin at a hotel every year. Not only did they have the ballroom but they also had smaller rooms.  One of these proms, don't remember which one, had a Poker room.  As in they played Texas Hold-Em without the money.  (What's the point?)  Eldest's Junior prom cost an outrageous $10,000 to put on.  It was crazy.  
I can't say I missed going to Prom, even after watching my girls get dressed up and staying out late.  For each of them it was their first time to be allowed to stay out essentially all night.  (They both went to after parties sponsored by the DARE program and got "locked in"). 
No funny stories to share just some pictures.  Go check out Sprite's Keeper to see the other Spins.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Puppy update

We took Aibhne to the vet Saturday for her last round of puppy shots.  She weighs an astonishing 29.1 pounds.

Debate still ranges as to which breeds contribute to her genetic makeup.  We feel fairly certain that there's some Ridgeback and Labrador in her but there may be some others hiding in there.  Her tongue is spotted, her tail curls and has this odd white undercoat on just her tail. There is quite an extensive list of breeds that can have the tongue spots, including both Ridgeback and Labrador.  The number of dog breeds that have both a curly tail and a white undercoat is almost as long.  So, she could be anything.  We're considering getting her DNA tested to find out.

She is STILL not water tight. She has her good days and her bad but now that the weather is getting better, we're planning on leaving all of the dogs outside during the day.  It worked with Myrddin and we have hopes that the boys examples will finally sink in if she's outside all day.

Here's a picture of Youngest and her baby:

She can sit and shake but we really need to start teaching her stay.  She likes to charge out the front door when we get home.  Come to think of it, we might work on "Come" first since that seems to be a problem for her.  If she's busy with something she just ignores you.

Any way, she's doing well and we'll be getting her spayed in a week or two.  She's able to keep up with the boys as they chase birds or squirrels.  And she loves the kiddie pool that we bought them.  She'll come charging across the yard and leap into it.  Friday, she chased her tail while in the pool and it was hilarious to watch.

I hope you all have a Happy Mother's Day.

Guess who came to dinner

mindbump suggested by Lord I Want To Be Whole

"If you could have a dinner party for 10 guests...dead or alive who would you invite, what would you serve, how would you entertain the guests and what kind of discussions would take place?"

Guest list:

Carl Sagan
Issac Asimov
Robert Heinlein
Benjamin Franklin
Stephen Hawking
Stephen King


A variety of dishes from each individuals time and homeland set up in a smorgasbord.


Jesus and Mohammed need to talk about the things that have been done in their names and what they think about it all.

Ghandi can chime in on this resulting conversation and talk about his ideas.

Einstein and Hawking can debate the structure of the universe.  Sagan can provide color commentary.

Asimov and Heinlein can talk about where they think we're headed.  Franklin will probably have a lot to say about this.

King is present to take notes and write one kick ass story afterwards. Plus, I've always wanted to meet him.

In truth, I imagine a wide ranging conversation covering religion, history, the future and the fate of the species.  We have some non-religious types in the mix to balance Jesus and Mohammed.  Scientists are high on my list because I'd love to see them pick apart the brains of the holy men and the historical figures.  I actually include Heinlein and Asimov in with the scientists. Both have a background in science and their writings envisioned very different future histories.  King is the only non-sensical choice. Not a scientist nor holy man, but graced with an outstanding imagination, he can provide a different point of view.  Not to mention write that kick ass story afterwards.  Franklin had so many jobs in his lifetime- writer, politician, scientist, printer and diplomat- that he would provide a much needed practicality.  Also, I'd love to know what he thinks of America.

I'm sure the evening would last long into the wee hours, include several loud disagreements and much confusion.  It would interesting to see the different opinions on how we got where we are and where we're headed.  I think this group would thoroughly dissect the past but still be able to give fresh insights into the future.  One things for sure, it would be memorable.

Who would you invite?  I'd love to see everyone's answers so here's what I want you to do.  Go back to your blog.  Write your own post and copy the link to the finished post. Come back here and add your name and link to that nifty widget below. (It's called Mr. Linky) That way, I can find your answer and so can everyone else who comes here.

I await your interpretations.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

After Nixon, Bush was Inevitable

I watched Frost/Nixon on DVD last night. It's a great movie and I recommend it if you haven't seen it.

I don't remember watching the interviews but I remember the Watergate hearings. More for the fact that they disrupted my summer TV viewing schedule than anything else. (I was 9) They monopolized the airwaves and the entire fiasco was inescapable.

There is a moment in the film when Frost finally pushes Nixon into the closest thing to a confession that we ever got and it struck me as prescient:

"I let them down. I let down my friends, I let down my country, and worst of all I let down our system of government, and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but now they think; 'Oh it's all too corrupt and the rest'. Yeah... I let the American people down. And I'm gonna have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life."

That highlighted section there, that's a perfect summation for my personal belief in politics for most of my life.  Politicians were not to be trusted.  If absolute power corrupts absolutely then almost by definition whoever is President is corrupt.  What it takes to get to the White House, the decisions that have to be made once you're there, the incredible position of prerogative and privilege  that you have as President would tempt and suborn even the most resolute person. And it wasn't just the President, lower offices held the potential to similarly contaminate to a lesser degree. In essence my understanding of political power was irretrievably tied up with the pursuit of personal power.

To be certain, there are those kinds of politicians out there in offices both large and small.  Men and women who enter politics in search of power and privilege. They're the ones we hear about all the time in the news.  Those who serve in quiet dignity receive no adoration, no recognition and no press.  It's no wonder that its so easy to believe that all politicians are corrupt.

I would posit that Nixon and his revelations of corruption and unscrupulous government tainted the following decades in ways that are subtle in their mechanics but profound in their result and ultimately culminated in the election of George Bush as 43rd President.  

After Nixon, our next president was chosen as much for how different he was than Nixon than anything else.  (Ford was just a placeholder in history, deserved or not) Carter was Southern, genteel, soft spoken and a Washington outsider.  He stood in stark contrast to Nixon's arrogance and abrasive manner. Yet Carter was and is deceptive.  Not in a venal way but because his southern gentleman demeanor hides his intelligence.  The press, drunk on their own power after Watergate, looked for any excuse to expose Carter as incompetent.  The comics made endless fun of his grin and family and any number of things that really made up his essential southern-ness. I think that history has so far been unfair to Jimmy Carter.  He may not have been a great president but he was what we needed. He was someone that, through his background, seemed incorruptible.  

All this set the stage for Ronald Reagan.  After the Iran Hostage crisis, Carter really had no chance at reelection. Reagan's confident manner trumped Carter's more serious one and, after portraying Carter's presidency as ineffectual, he won decisively.  I won't say much about Ronnie Ray-gun. He is not my favorite President.  By the time he was elected, memories of Watergate were beginning to fade. So much so that by the time the Iran-Contra scandal broke, the American people had internalized the idea that politics and politicians were corrupt and were thus something we had to live with.  We had our scapegoat in Oliver North and moved on.  After all, with John Hinckley's failed attempt on his life and an astonishing 1984 reelection result, Ronnie seemed unstoppable and impervious. 

Bush Senior hoped to carry on the Reagan tradition but lacked his force of personality.  {Make no mistake, Reagan had a cult of personality thing going for him.}  Bush managed to cash in long enough to get elected after running one of the dirtiest campaigns in history, at least until McCain came along.  He reaped the rewards of Reagan's  policies until the economy did him in.

Next came Clinton and I must say that he has some striking superficial similarities to Nixon. Besides the obvious impeachment, which was a bogus Republican smear- I mean who doesn't lie when caught in an adulterous affair?- his obvious political ambition struck a little too close to the Nixon mold. Though in all fairness, so much of what seemed tainted with Clinton was due to partisan politics.  

And then we get Junior and I believe we came full circle back to Nixon.  From the belief that if the President does it, it isn't illegal to dirty political dealings and maneuverings to torture, Bush was every bit the crook that Nixon was.  

His election and of the Presidents before him came about in no small part because a generation of Americans were weaned on the Watergate scandals and abdicated their participation in government. It seemed that for most everyday Americans, national politics were something that were impossible to affect.  It took Bush's return to Nixon era arrogance and venality to wake up those Americans of my generation. We were blessed with a candidate of quality in Barack Obama and, together with our children, decided to take back the reins of government.

With the advent of Internet politics, everyday Americans could finally have a voice. We were disgusted and tired of the unethical nature of everything that Bush touched. It's like we woke up to the fact that we were responsible in part for electing the idiot to start with and were determined to correct the error.

In essence, I believe that without Nixon and his Watergate, Bush would never had made it into the Oval Office.  What we need to learn from this is the fact that our collective memories are short and easily manipulated.  We must never forget the damage that was done by both these men and be ever vigilant to the return of complacency.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek Memories

Well, I'm going to see the new Star Trek movie this evening and I've been thinking about my favorite episodes of all the various incarnations on TV. It's not always easy to come up with only one or two episodes, but sometimes it's a stretch to find even one, depending on the series.

I generally watch Star Trek specials no matter what channel they may be on or if I've seen them previously. In fact, I just watched about the 25th anniversary special that was originally made to promote "The Undiscovered Country" just last night. In it Shatner and Nimoy talk about how the fans now call themselves Trekkers instead of Trekkies. I don't know. I'm pretty sure I never thought of myself as a Trekker. Don't know about you but that seems almost pretentious.

Anyway, on the off chance that one or two of you out there are not versed in the lingo, let me provide a few definitions. When I say TOS, I mean Star Trek- The Original Series, as in that campy classic with the above mentioned Shatner and Nimoy. Then there is TNG or Star Trek- The Next Generation. DS9 is Star Trek- Deep Space Nine. Voyager and Enterprise don't have nifty abbreviations. Or if they do, I don't know them or care to use them.

From TOS, I'd have to say the "The Cage" and "Mirror, Mirror" are my favorites. "The Cage", otherwise known as the pilot that never was, has no Kirk, no Bones, Majel Barret as Number One and a subtly different Spock. Tied to this episode is "The Menagerie" Parts 1 & 2 that see Spock trying to return his former Captain from "The Cage" to that same planet. Since "The Menagerie" is really just an extended recap of "The Cage" I don't count it. What I like about this episode, besides the recasting, is the interaction between Pike and the Talosians and the extremes that he has to go to convince them to let him go. It has eloquent things to say about freedom and humanity. The major character interactions are about as well defined as a pilot can hope to expect though it doesn't really work as a pilot since it fails to adequately introduce the supporting cast. We get glimpses of them but nothing about who they are. I can see why NBC chose not to run it as a pilot.

"Mirror, Mirror" is all about the dark side of ourselves. In this parallel universe, the Federation is an Empire and officers advance through assassination. By this time, early in season two, the characters have been firmly established and its deeply satisfying to see them with new personas and motivations to explore. With the added bonus of Federation v Empire to throw a little social commentary into the mix.

TOS gets spoken of a lot for this ability to blend current events and social problems into the series; from Kim Darby's "Miri" exploring the teen counterculture where all adults are the enemy to "The Omega Glory" and "Patterns of Force" that explore our recent political history to "Plato's Stepchildren" with the famous interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. TOS was a product of its times and it used those stresses and problems as fodder for its writers. Which, after all, is what drama is supposed to do.

While I only vaguely remember watching TOS as a child and mostly saw that series through the ever popular reruns, TNG was my Star Trek. It is my favorite series and picking only one or two episodes is nearly impossible, but there are two that come close. "The Measure of a Man" and "The Inner Light".

"The Measure of a Man" takes on the big question. What makes us human. That is poses this in the guise of determining whether or not Data is sentient is no mistake. In both TOS and TNG, the non-human bridge crew members Spock and Data serve as a mirror to humanity. Spock is the logical, rational being who has eschewed anger and emotionalism and serves to show us both the weakness of our essential human nature and its strength. Data, in his endless search to become human, shows us all our foibles and quirks and how they sometimes are our masters. In "The Measure of a Man" Picard faces the dilemma of turning over his android officer to StarFleet for experimentation. His eloquent defense of his friend is high drama. No less important is Riker's reluctant yet devastating advocation. Forced into the adversarial role, Riker finds what seems to be incontrovertible proof that Data is a machine. Still its Picard's assertion that it is StarFleet's goal to seek new life and what better example than Data that wins the day.

"The Inner Light" is really a solo piece for Patrick Stewart and it is simply amazing. It's one of those episodes that makes me tear up every time I watch it even though I know what's going to happen. Picard spends a lifetime on another planet, complete with family and friends and a dying planet. All in a single day. Even though the technology that allows this to happen is transitory, Picard is changed. It's one of the things about TOS that I love. The lives of the crew members are drawn out completely. And we get to see artifacts from that life in the background as the series progresses. It brings a sense of verisimilitude to see Riker's trombone or Picard's flute or Data's paintings in their quarters and know they were used to further the story and aren't some random prop.

There are so many episodes that I like from TNG. Anything with Q. One, there's John De Lancie who is simply fantastic. Two, they are some of the funniest and yet subtly revealing episodes in the series. "Ship in a Bottle" and numerous other holodeck-based episodes (though not all) provided plenty of variety. And every single season finale cliffhanger was well-crafted and intentionally maddening, a sure guarantee that at least one episode of the new season would be watched. In my opinion, of all the series TNG is the best- the best written, the best acted- the whole nine yards.

Maybe that's why the spinoffs were so disappointing. I had high hopes for DS9, especially when Michael Dorn's Worf was added to the cast. Unfortunately, the writers' decision to undo the Worf-Troi relationship was a disappointment. It had some good points. New species like the Trill. Bringing the Ferengi into a more prominent role. Quark was really always good for a laugh and occasionally did the right thing, for a price. I had high hopes that Avery Brooks was going to be an outstanding addition to the Captain's chair but ultimately his character was disappointing. My favorite episode from this series is "The Forsaken" and its really the subplot that's the best part. Lwaxana Troi falls in love with Odo and then eventually gets trapped with him in an elevator. Long enough that Odo has to return to liquid state. Lwaxana is always an amusing character who though she appears frivolous on the surface can step up when pushed. This episode is no exception. Even though her flirtation with Odo is never revisited her simple and expedient solution to Odo's problem saves the day. In reviewing the episode list for this posting, I realized that DS9 was relying too heavily on certain themes: Ferengi greed, Bajoran mysticism and they used parallel universe stories three times and time travel an astonishing 7 times. Scattershot and never quite managing to create a cohesive story, DS9 was a serious disappointment.

Voyager was similarly viewed with high hopes. We had a woman in the chair for once, a premise that allowed for any number of new species and encounters far outside of Federation space and the odd changes in "history" that DS9 represented. (And Star Trek has a history and back story that tries to be consistent. DS9, starting with Worf's arrival and the consequent rewriting of TNG history, showed a serious lack of respect and continuity.) The first season was very rough for Voyager and probably doomed the series, but there were bright moments. When Voyager brought in the Borg, things got interesting, especially through the character Seven of Nine. The best episode, I think, is "Collective". It deals with adolescent Borg who were left behind after their cube malfunctioned. Seven negotiates with them after they take crew members hostage and eventually they join the Voyager crew. Nearly every episode that has Seven dealing with her lost humanity is worth watching. In this one, she gets to create her own family, in essence, and help them to re-assimilate into a world outside the Borg.

The last television incarnation for the Star Trek franchise was Enterprise, set at the dawn of StarFleet as humanity ventured out into the galaxy. After two disappointing series, this one seemed destined to failure. It had a rocky start and I think that many Trekkies were worn out with the franchise and more interested in the film versions. I know I was. But I have watched this one in reruns and discovered that it had far more merit to it than I had previously thought. I especially enjoyed the two part episode "In A Mirror, Darkly". A take on the alternate universe story from TOS where the Federation is replaced by an Empire ("Mirror, Mirror") it deviates from the usual alternate history story line format. It is a stand alone episode, a mini-series within the series if you will, complete with its different theme song and opening montage. Perhaps the single most startling instance in this two-parter occurs in the opening minute of the first episode. It is a digital recreation of the scene from "First Contact" (a TNG film) where Zefram Cochrane meets the Vulcans. Instead of greeting them with a handshake, he shoots them. The effect is completely seamless and extremely well done. The episode then continues with the "new opening montage" and takes off from there. It's a great episode with many of the same advantages as the original TOS episode that ends with a twist. I was sorry to see this series end early. I think they were finally coming into their own when Paramount pulled the plug.

As far as the films go, there's two that stand out in my mind: "Wrath of Khan" and "First Contact". They are the best written films of the two film series with vibrant characters, tension and humor. Who can forget the extravagant, larger-than-life figure of Noonien Singh so masterfully portrayed by Ricardo Montalban or Spock's sacrifice in "Wrath of Khan"? "First Contact" introduces us the Father of Warp Drive, Zefram Cochrane, who turns out to not quite be what the crew expected. Not to mention the Borg Queen played by Alice Krige with a wonderful combination of sexuality and evil. Plus we get to hear Patrick Stewart quote Melville. What's not to love?

At its best, Star Trek in all its incarnations has striven to show a future were the human race manages to put aside their differences and create something worthwhile. It's a future full of hope and promise and one entirely worth striving for. At the same time, they've used humor and drama to show us the darker sides of ourselves. Sometimes they've done a better job than at others but on a whole there's a reason that Star Trek has legions of fans. There is something for everyone. If you get a little lesson in civics or philosophy with your action, all the better. It's what science fiction does best.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And the momentum keeps building...

Maine joins Iowa (still can't get over that one), Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut in making same-sex marriage legal.

Here is Governor Baldacci's statement:
“I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.
“This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of church and state.
“It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine’s civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."

That, my friends, sums up the arguement for same-sex marriage and puts to rest the meme that it will dictate to churches who they can marry.

And let us not forget that the District of Colombia has decided to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside its jurisdiction.  The tide is turning.

It's a great time to be alive.

The Consequences of Gay Marriage

Stolen shamelessly from the comments on Joe.My.God who found it on Girl Du Jour who got it from Bob Cesca's Goddamn Awesome Blog who got it from Andrew Sullivan who got it from GraphJam. I think I may have traced it all the way back to its source. Damn, we bloggers are an incestuous bunch.

But it was sooo worth the effort.  Now back to work.

Weird Wednesday

It's Wednesday again and time for the weekly weirdness. At first I thought this was going to be a tough week, but things started picking up after a little searching.

We begin with what I thought at first was a recycled article but turns out to be someone else trying to smuggle birds in their pants. Sony Dong got caught with birds in his pants at the LA International Airport.  Yes, that's right.  He strapped 18 birds to his legs, wore custom tailored pants and got caught when an inspector noticed bird doo and feathers on his socks.

Next is a Pennsylvania man who went on a very weird crime spree.  He broke into apartments in Lehigh and used spray paint and chocolate syrup to "redecorate", after he burgled them. He got caught with silver spray paint and chocolate syrup on his hands and has been charged with burglary. Though he admits to the burglaries he says someone else did the actual breaking of the breaking and entering. Um, I don't quite see the point of that allegation but what can you expect from someone who uses silver spray paint and chocolate to vandalize apartments?

Speaking of chocolate, scientists in London have unveiled a vehicle that runs on biofuel made from the waste from choclate factories.  The car runs on biofuels made from vegetable oils and chocolate waste.  It's also made partly from plant fibers.  But what I want to know is what does the exhaust smell like?  Chocolate cake?

Three last criminal nitwits to finish the day.  First is a cowboy charged with RUI.  That's right. Riding under the influence. He was ticketed and given a $25 fine for his self described joy ride on his horse. Police weren't sure what to do the horse. After all, you can't really "tow" a horse.

Next are two crimes with "sound" in common. And I use that term loosely.  Two sousaphones were stolen from a Newport News, VA high school.  For those of you who don't know, sousaphones are the largest instruments in the marching band.  Not something you can casually sneak out under your shirt.  Police are baffled.

And last we have two idiots who tried to hide from police in a ladies restroom after stealing a car.  When police checked the restroom the geniuses answered from the stalls in falsetto. Remarkably enough, the police were not fooled.  The two brothers were arrested.

That's all for today. As long as there are stupid people, we'll have fodder for the news of the weird.  But I'd pay to see the car that runs on chocolate.