November 30, 2004

I Feel It Imperative To Elucidate My Position

. . . on the most important issue of our times:

COLORED. You use COLORED lights, okay? C-O-L-O-R-E-D. Listen to Michele. Michele is right about this.

White lights are for yuppies.

White lights scream, "I was at Neiman's last Thursday and they had the most di-vine-ly elegant displays up for Winter Holidays . . . ."

White lights say, "As a celebration of our country's rich tapestry of varying religious and ethnic origins I shall put up lights that reflect no one particular tradition or heritage, but that rather embrace and include and pay homage to all of them: White, the only color that holds within itself all other colors."

White lights say, "Why yes, thank you; in fact I am one of those people who shops at Crate & Barrel and buys all that 'distressed' shit posing as actual furniture there."

Oh, yuppies, yuppies dear, please do shove all that nonsense straight up your rectums. Think of it as a distressed high colonic! You could be first on your block to have one. Precious, isn't it?

No, I don't like the white lights too well. Alas, I live in Dallas, Poseur Capital of the Americas. Easily a third of the population in Dallas is white trash trying desperately to convince everyone that they ARE NOT EITHER white trash. They do this by making fun of their small-town relatives and how cuhnnn-tree they are. (I am sorry that looks like a bad word when it's typed out phonetically like that, but that's how it's pronounced around here.) So you have a lot of people shunning multicolored lights for fear of looking white trash, and then they open their mouths and WHOA!--All the Neiman Marcus catalogs in the world can't hide those roots, honey. You can take the girl out of the trailer . . . .

Hate the white lights. Hate 'em. What are white lights but a bunch of little teeny light bulbs? Ordinary, colorless, soulless light bulbs, no more joyous or celebratory than the 60-watt sitting in the lamp on my desk right now?

Don't bother putting them up at all. Really, just don't. I'd rather you put up a tacky dancing Santa than those tasteful, restrained, less-is-more, austere-to-the-point-of-ennui white lights.

Posted by Ilyka at 01:52 AM | Comments (11)

November 24, 2004


Would someone please tell me what I do to close comments on posts older than a week? I'm getting very, very tired of all the spamming.

Posted by Ilyka at 11:39 PM | Comments (7)

November 19, 2004

To Form a More Empathetic Union

So if a young kid starts hanging out with the tough older boys in his neighborhood because he has no other male role models and he wants to help mom earn a dollar plus maybe a little bling-bling for himself and anyway he doesn't actually use the products himself, well not much, okay once or twice, but mainly he just helps get 'em where they need to go, know what I'm sayin'?--So if all that, and then some heartless conservative comes along and sees it and says, You know, that boy would have been better off if he'd had a father at home for him, the response is Oh shut up, you intolerant moralizer, You Don't Know What It's Like on the streets these days. Clearly, you need your consciousness raised on this issue.

And if some girl leads the wild, wild life during her young adult years and contracts one or two sexually transmitted diseases and maybe only gets them partially treated because she quit taking the antibiotic once she started to feel better or maybe she didn't even know she had infections at all because like many women she was asymptomatic, and then later she settles down gets married or shacks up whatever and wants to have children and tries for years, tries everything, consults specialists gets secondthirdfourth opinons but they all tell her, that pelvic inflammatory disease you have is really going to make it difficult for you, it's not impossible but it's going to be a rough road and an expensive one besides . . . and some heartless conservative comes along and says, You know, maybe a more rigid moral code of appropriate sexual behavior was actually serving some good purpose all those years, the response is Oh shut up, you prig, You Don't Know What It's Like for young women these days. Clearly, you need your consciousness raised on this issue.

Which I guess means that if a young Marine spends long, weary days fighting in Fallujah, encountering attacks from "noncombatant" zones such as schools and mosques, and in fact he himself gets wounded in the face when an enemy playing dead detonates explosives in precisely such a noncombatant zone, and so the next day, on entering yet another mosque and finding yet more of the enemy lying on the ground seemingly dead and wounded, if that next day the Marine thinks to himself, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" and up and shoots the guy in the head rather than risk taking more flak himself . . . I guess if that happens, and some intrepid reporter films the whole thing, we should all point at him and say Shut Up, You Don't Know What It's Like, But Clearly, You Need Your Consciousness Raised on This Issue?


Well. I guess we have a ways to go on this whole "empathy" thing then, don't we.

Posted by Ilyka at 07:02 PM | Comments (3)

November 18, 2004

Dear Webmaster-AT-Kochseite-DOT-De

Sir, I would say "You are a bastard," except that I have actually said that to a lot of men at a lot of times and, usually, meant it as a compliment. A bastard is, if nothing else, a worthy opponent. Tricky and lowdown, maybe, but worthy . . . however illegitimate in origin.

You, however, are merely a spammer. As such, you must die.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

Smooth Move

Now, see, basically, this is how it works around here: About once a month, I suffer through a week of insomnia. I'm too manic to sleep. I have to do something with my time, and there being little than can be done in the wee hours of the morning that won't result in angry neighbors pounding on my door, I usually end up writing dumb stuff here. Lots of it. Enormous rambling posts that usually hinge on piss-poor analogies and misuse of metaphors.

If you're thinking, "Once a month . . . hmm . . . what happens to women once a month?" then yes, Sherlock, you're right: I get insomnia the week before my period. A gold star for you, bright boy.

I'm bringing this all up because I also suffer from the compulsion to share WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION with you people. And also because I'm thinking you could all use a good tampon story? Come on, who doesn't love a good tampon story?

Ooh, no, wrong answer. The answer I was looking for there was yes, Ilyka, how did you know? We were just dying for a good tampon story!

Which you will find here. You will read it, and you will love it, and that is all.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:14 PM | Comments (4)

November 16, 2004

Now What?

Damn me, I seem to have gone and bought a turkey the other day at the store.

Well, I mean, I'm poor. It was $0.79 a pound. That's right: Cheaper than the roasting chicken I was going to buy instead.

Now I've got this bird in the fridge, all nicely defrosted, and I have no idea what to do with it . . . other than I have some fresh sage that I think I can use with it. So do you stuff that in its behind or what? Or I could make an herb butter with it, I suppose. Does thyme go well with turkey? Because I have some of that fresh too.

Stupid, stupid Ilyka. A turkey. It's not like I'm going to be eating one at my parents less than 2 weeks from now, is it?

Blogging will be nonexistent while I learn how to roast a turkey the hard way. Why must I do everything the hard way always?

UPDATE: "Turkey is not the easiest thing to mess up," said Rob, in the comments, and as usual, Rob is right. That bird was gooooood.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:32 PM | Comments (18)

Goodness, Gracious, Thank You

I have had so many fine suggestions for the Chicas Conservadoras blogroll that keeping the limit to 35 is o-u-t OUT of the question.

Now can I say something to you women?--You're all overachievers. I mean: Every third comment I had was along the lines of "Oh! You asked for 8, and I didn't quite list 8. I only listed (6 or 4 or 3 or 2 or . . .). I'll go find you the rest."

Heavens to Betsy, you didn't need to find me all eight! I was hoping for one per commenter, and hoping I'd get en entire eight comments.

Instead, you folks went all out. I have so many prospects, I don't even know who to eliminate. So I won't eliminate. I'll just use 'em all, save one who violated the Michele rule (see original post linked above). But the sheer numbers! It's unbelievable. "Where are all the women bloggers?" Oh, my, that one has just got to go down in the hall of fame of stupid questions.

Don't ever let nobody tell you that you can't do whatever you want to, chicas, because my goodness, you excel even when the stakes aren't all that. If this is what you put forward when the payoff is negligible . . . .

Thank you.

Posted by Ilyka at 06:59 AM | Comments (2)

November 13, 2004

An Update to the Reading List

If there is one thing I'm certain of with regards to this little hobby of mine, it is that asking for comments is the surefire ticket to receiving zero comments.

It makes the post look pitiful. "So leave your thoughts in the comments!" and then you look down and it's all, "Comments(0)" or "0 Comments" or whatever, and you wrote that post five days ago. And then you can just envision someone reading this pathetic post and shaking his head and going, "Man, that's just sad. She has no readers at all."

I do SO have readers. They're just . . . quiet sometimes. I have, uh, really introverted and thoughtful readers? That's my story, anyway.

I will now break my rule about asking for comments, and ask for comments. You'll see what about and why in a minute.

Ith mentioned today that both Besmirched and Whomping Willow seemed to have disappeared. These were two blogs I had linked on the "Chicas Conservadoras" blogroll (we all remember the story behind that one, yes?), and it occurred to me that I hadn't been too diligent about keeping up with some of the blogs on that list.

In my defense, it is (or was and will be, we're getting to that part) 35 weblogs. That's 3-5, thirty-five, in addition to all the other blogs I read, only a small fraction of which are even listed on the main roll.

And that main roll contains at present 63 blogs, and I'm planning to add a handful-or-so more soon.

I used to think people were kidding when they said they didn't have time to read all the blogs they'd like to read regularly. Of course, back when I thought that, I read only maybe half a dozen weblogs regularly. Now I know they weren't kidding. Who knew there was so much good writing out there? For free, even!

Back to the point: I figured it was time to audit the "Chicas Conservadoras" roll, because one of the remarks that had irked me in the little dustup that generated this particular blogroll in the first place, was a comment to the effect that I'd included a blog which hadn't updated in "almost a year." And then there was a bunch of shit about how if you're not updating multiple times a day, 5 days a week, you're not a "real" blogger, but . . . oh, you know, let's not relive all the joy just right yet. Anyway, I was worried that in auditing this blogroll, I'd find a lot of dead blogs.

Hardly. All but 3-4 were still going strong. Out of 35 total, that's excellent.

Women might not do Instapundit-style blogging (in my experience, most don't). They might not post regularly Monday through Friday. (Actually, what I love about female-authored weblogs is that they seem to be more likely to update during the weekends. I have no idea why.)

And I know this is like nails on the blackboard to some readers, but yes, women are also less shy about mixing in some personal posts with their news and politics. You might get a post about the election, or you might get a post about a duck-herding collie. There's no telling.

But if the small number of defunct or dormant blogs found in this sample is anything to go by, you can't say female bloggers don't demonstrate commitment to a project. And is that really any surprise? We know from commitment. We all but invented it.

In addition to the 3 or 4 dead/missing weblogs, I removed 3 or 4 more for varying reasons. I think one went because it had gone all personal; while I love personal blogs, that wasn't the original mission of the CC roll. One went because the author had publicly made a nasty remark about Michele and I'm sorry, but you don't get all snarky-little-bitch about one of the first bloggers I ever read and retain a link from me.

And a couple I moved to the main roll simply because I read them that often. That was the only part of this I had qualms about: Was I thinking of the women's roll as second best, as the charity roll, the "mercy" roll? Because that'd bother me.

I don't really think of it as home to second bests or also-rans, but I do think of it as home to the underexposed and underpromoted. It probably does no actual good in this regard, simply because so many people are using news readers rather than site links for their blog-surfing anymore; but ultimately, I don't care whether it does any actual good because at least now, the next time some moron asks, "Doh, where are the female bloggers?" I can point him to "Chicas Conservadoras" and say here's 35 of 'em, dingbat; hope you like your women red-statish.

I'm just petty about some things like that.

Now then! Your part: Nominate me some solidly-written, female-authored, right-leaning political blogs. (Come to think of it, I wouldn't half-mind having a left-leaning roll devoted to female authors, either, but unfortunately liberals are low on the kind of chauvinistic dickishness that might spur me to create one. I'll have to think about this.) I already added CalTechGirl, for the record. Thought you could beat me to that one, did you? Fool.

And I'll ask that you spare me . . . ooh, how do I put this?--Look, the writing has to be quality. It has to be the chief appeal. It doesn't have to be dazzling, grade-A stuff, but it cannot suck. Which means that nominating a female blogger just because she put her picture up and gorsh, don't she look purty? MAY GET YOU KILLED. I'm looking for women who write well, not women to go gay for.

Furthermore, I am obsessive about just a few things (no!) and so, unless English is a second language for the author, the inclusion of multiple typos and/or spelling errors per post does indeed count as "sucking." Prettiness ain't gonna help you with me if you're writing things like "niether one really apeals to me" and "Today teh marines stormed Faluga."

Other than that, it's pretty open. Maybe also avoid suggesting women who are high-traffic enough that including them on my sorry web site will only invite more mockery in my direction? I mean, have some thought for my feelings here. LaShawn Barber probably doesn't need my help.

Oh--last rule, I swear: No haters. I don't know quite how else to put that. It's one thing to want to torture a dude like Arafat for all eternity; you're supposed to want to torture guys like that for all eternity. I would check your temperature and get you drug-tested if you didn't.

But it's a whole other ballgame if you want to wish harm on your fellow citizens, and while I can forgive the occasional "Dummocrat" or "Dhimmicrat" here and there, I can't forgive an unrelenting demonization of other Americans just because they didn't vote for Bush. So anyone beating the drum for violence is out. I'm out of patience with that kind of talk.

So eight nominees, please. Don't make me throw a hissy fit about it. Get to work!

Posted by Ilyka at 10:17 AM | Comments (17)

I Think You Should Know That I Don't Get Paid Extra to Type This, Either

I download the sound file, press my foot down on the "play" pedal, and hear the nice physician-person say:

Ball in vagina.

No. No! I'm tired. He didn't really just say--

Ball in vagina.

What is wrong with people?

Posted by Ilyka at 08:01 AM | Comments (2)

Dial Tone

That's about all an Iraqi television show that reconstructs, refurnishes, and redecorates homes destroyed during the war gets when it calls up international aid organizations:

. . . producer Riyadh Salman insisted that the programme was attempting to highlight the problems Iraqi people faced when their homes were destroyed, and were pressing for more assistance from others.

"We start from scratch, and finish by putting furniture in these houses," he said.

"We want to motivate government institutions and human rights organisations to take their share in the reconstructions.

"But in spite of all the calls we’ve made to them, we haven’t had any response."

You really don't want to know what I originally typed here. My scorn for human rights organizations nearly boiled over, but never mind that.

What I'm wondering is whether this could be a job for people with hearts like the ones behind Spirit of America. Now they get things done that need doing. It would be great if there were a likeminded organization that could help out with this.

Human rights organizations are only of any use if you already have the house, preferably with terrorists inside, and you need a stooge a symbol to stand in front of the bulldozer that's about to pave it under. HROs are just dying to help you out with that problem.

Oops. The sneering leaked out anyway.


(Via Andrea Harris.)

Posted by Ilyka at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

With Friends Like These . . .

. . . the working man needs no enemies.

Look, I have GOT to cut back on my opinion-reading. Seriously. Someone stop me before I hurt myself retching. Where's that Sims 2 CD? What krep like this does to the blood pressure . . . really, I might as well go back to watching Katie Couric:

No working man or woman is my enemy. Their struggle, their endurance, is to be respected. They may be foolish and desperate enough to follow people who lie to them, but they've got too much self-respect to follow people who look down on them. They're terrified. They're unequipped for the complexities and paradoxes of the 21st century and they know it, and they resent like hell all those who accept leaving them behind as the price of entering the 21st century.
Oh dear heaven above would you please shut UP because what you are doing to your esophagus by shoving that ENORMOUS FOOT straight down it is unconscioniable.

There. Was that melodramatic enough? I could add some bold to it if you want.

But talk about missing the boat!

"Progressives, listen to me: We have got to quit condescending to these foolish, terrifed proles. Seriously. It's just not working out quiiiiite as well as we thought it would. The good news is, we still don't have to listen to anything they actually say. We just have to show them the light and refrain from saying out loud, in their company, to their faces, how much we pity their ignorance."

Oh. Shut. UP.

And progressives think evangelicals cornered the market on proselytizing? What exactly is this, if not a variation on the practice of witnessing? I could go into a Christian chat room right now and find you a dozen examples of Christians admonishing each other not to tell the heathen to their faces that they're, you know, HEATHEN. Bound for hell and suchlike.

But not one of them will suggest they quit thinking of the heathen as heathen. No one will be saying, "Let's try thinking of them as human beings just like you and I, instead." No, it's okay to think of them as heathen, because it's self-evident that they are so. Just don't let them know you think that. And for mercy's sake don't do anything gauche like say it.

This is like, "Now, dear, please, stop calling the help 'wetbacks.' You know they prefer 'spics' these days."

Shut UP!

No. No, on second thought, keep right on talking. At this rate the Republicans can run an actual chimpanzee four years from now, versus some guy who merely looks a little like one, and win in a total landslide.

Yeah. Yeah, keep talkin'. That's the ticket.

Posted by Ilyka at 02:45 AM | Comments (4)

November 12, 2004

The Easiest Post in the World

Let me help those of you just starting out, you new bloggers. Here's a template to help you write the easiest post in the world:




There you go! Here's an example:

David Ignatius at the Washington Post says the CIA is to blame for Arafat's years of terror:

One of the more improbable chapters in the life of Yasser Arafat was his wink-and-nod understanding with the CIA. In secret, Arafat for the past 30 years allowed his top intelligence officers to maintain regular contact with the agency -- even as he publicly continued his defiant and ultimately fruitless quest for a Palestinian state.

The intelligence liaison was one of Arafat's many straddles -- a way of playing all possible sides of the game. In the early 1970s, when the covert relationship with the United States began, he was simultaneously in contact with the CIA and the KGB, with the radical Egyptians and the conservative Saudis. All these secret machinations didn't get Arafat much in the end, and maybe that's the real point: The things that matter most in the modern world are overt actions, not covert ones.

I stumbled across the U.S.-PLO contacts more than 20 years ago, when I was covering the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal, and published an exposé in 1983. With Arafat's passing, perhaps it's a good time to look back at his secret history.

America's dalliance with Arafat began in late 1969, when the CIA first spotted a promising potential recruit in his Fatah organization named Ali Hassan Salameh, known as Abu Hassan. A CIA case officer in Beirut, Robert Ames, made contact through a Lebanese intermediary, and there was a brief exchange of information. I'm told that it was blessed from the beginning by Arafat, who wanted to open a channel to the Americans.

Wow, that Ignatiius sure is a conspiracy nut, huh?

See? Easy as fill-in-the-blanks. You're welcome.

Of course, I did quote WAY TOO MUCH of the original article, far more than is acceptable in terms of Fair Use, but in fact, that was deliberate. Too many bloggers have figured out that if you quote at least half the piece in your post, your readers won't click to read it for themselves. Net result? They stay on YOUR site. Reading what YOU have to say. Fair use?--Screw fair use; you're who's important around here!

If you follow the template religiously, you ought to be able to generate 20-30 posts a day easily. More, if you don't take time out for mundane things like going to work.

Be sure to write at least one original post a week to balance all this out, though. Here's your template for it:


Wow! That was even easier than the first template!

Of course, if you follow my simple instructions, I'll probably think you're a useless hack, and I won't read you. But who cares what I think anyway? For every reader like me who mutters "hack" under her breath, you should be able to attract 100 others who nod their heads like bobblehead dolls in an earthquake. And that means traffic!

(DISCLAIMERS: This post not inspired by any one particular blogger; it's more a generalized phenomenon that I'm seeing several places. This post is not an attempt to call someone out or hurt someone's feelings, unless that someone deserves it. If your initial reaction to this post is to get defensive and leave me a comment to say, "Hey, I do not either do that," I'm probably not talking about you. If your initial reaction to this post is, "Who cares what that dumb bitch has to say about it? Not like she gets any traffic," then I'm probably talking about you, and we should just agree to loathe each other for eternity. If your initial reaction to this post is, "Who CARES," or "No, not another post about blogging!" then fella, I want to party with you. Finally, this post partly inspired by the latest poll at Jim Treacher's--see the sidebar on the right, the one with all the ads in it, all the ads you should click at least once to make Jim happy.)

Posted by Ilyka at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)

November 11, 2004

Snapshot II: Let Them Eat Jellybeans!

(Does two in a week count as a "series?" I think it should count.)


It's late 1984 and I am o-v-e-r my prior support for Ronald Reagan. Over it.

I wasn't too into the election, because even I could see that Mondale was a loser of a candidate. Props to him for choosing a woman for his running mate; shame he never had a chance in hell of winning against that fascist Reagan. Did you know if you count the letters in Ronald Wilson Reagan, you get 6-6-6? The number of the beast. Tell me that's a coincidence. Ha!

I have been shown the way. I have been rehabilitated. I have seen the light.

I have accepted Joe Strummer as my personal savior.

I am so punk rock. See? Right here: Here's my copy of Let Them Eat Jellybeans. Sorry I could only find it on cassette. It'd be much cooler on vinyl, huh? I mean, uh, actually I don't, uh, really like most of the songs on it--but that title, isn't that title awesome? That caricature of Reagan on the cover, isn't it priceless?

And don't I have my copy of Never Mind the Bollocks? And not just any copy; not just that lame pink-and-green U.S. version all the poseurs have, oh, no--the British release, the import. Take that! Oh, sure, it's not actually any different in track listing from the U.S. version, but . . . but . . . but it looks cooler. And it comes from the U.K., from which all good things come. So there. You could've had it yourself if you'd only made the effort, but I guess you'd rather be a poseur.

And look, look at this: 45 RPM singles from Britain. Look at the little tiny holes they punch into them instead of our big you-need-an-adapter-to-play-this ones. Aren't they adorable? And I don't need an adapter to play them! They'll play just fine on my hand-me-down stereo from my parents, the one that actually comes with an, euwww, eight-track. No, those Brits know what they're about with the small holes. Doesn't it just prove how resoundingly stupid the U.S. is? How lame? How fascist? Of course it does. Q.E.D.

I have saved up my babysitting money and ridden my bicycle nine miles each way to a little independent record store near ASU to collect all this stuff, which isn't very punk rock at all; but can I help it that the Phoenix metropolitan area has virtually no public transit outside the core of the city? Fascists!

Yes, I am very punk rock in my own estimation. And it has to be in my own estimation, because I have only one friend, and she thinks I am ridiculous. She thinks I should be listening to Split Enz instead. I think Split Enz are all right in small doses, but they're not exactly going to change the world the way my bands will. Hell, they're scarcely known now; what are the odds that anyone will ever hear from any member of them ever again?

Not that there aren't other punks in school, but they hang in their own little clique and are suspicious of outsiders, of poseurs. I wish they could see that I am no poseur. I am genuinely, sincerely, wholeheartedly down with the punk movement, even if it did flourish originally in the mid-70s, when I was seven years old and still listening to Andy Gibb. But that's not my fault. My parents should have had me sooner. And they should have been British citizens.

I am torn between secretly admiring the other punks (they hate to be called "punk rockers," a label applied to them by the Man) and secretly thinking something isn't quite right with them. They all have the same leather jacket from the same store, the only store in town selling jackets that are punk enough, and they all do more or less the same thing with their hair, usually some variation of the mohawk. No way in hell am I cutting my hair into a mohawk. First of all, my parents are angry enough that I colored it jet black and second of all, mohawks are kind of ugly. But that's okay! Live and let live. Punk is all about expressing your individuality.

Because I don't have $100 for a sufficiently punk leather jacket, I make up my own outfits. I raid my mother's closet in search of anything retro 60s. It's not easy; my mother is extremely organized and no pack rat. Most of what lingers in the closet is from no earlier than the 70s. This of course won't do at all. Why can't I have a mom like Marci's? Marci parades around like Jean Shrimpton at a biker's ball. No, a biker's ball crashed by the Sex Pistols. That's it.

It's so unfair. My mom is so fascist. And the nerve of her, yelling at me for snagging that be-yew-ti-ful black skirt that's allll-most a mini, that forms an unbeatable yeah-you-wish-you-were-me combo with my fishnet stockings . . . her getting all upset just because it's the skirt she was married in, I mean, honestly. How fascist can you get?

Although, she did buy me the fishnets. And that's the problem with all this: My parents are not nearly as intolerant of how punk rock I am as they ought to be. Oh, we aren't exactly getting along: It seems they take issue with my penchant for removing the screen to my bedroom and sneaking out the window in the middle of the night to go walking around the neighborhood, just thinking about stuff--like how fascist everything is. They're not pleased with my habit of blowing off school, either. As if it were somehow my fault that school is totally fascist!

They don't like me wearing all this black, either. They are worried it means I am a Satanist. I'm so tired of explaining to them that it's the Ozzy fans who are the Satanists and dear God in heaven, do NOT lump me in with those losers. Those are the kids who smoke pot in the smoking area at school. I want nothing to do with them. Nothing. They do not express their individuality like I do. They don't express anything beyond the desire to get really, really high. Ugh. Losers. I'll bet even Satan doesn't want them.

Despite all this fascist tension in the house, my parents are pretty tolerant--too tolerant--of my passion for punk and new wave music. Christmas and birthdays occur much as they always did, with me handing them a list of records I want. I try to hit them with the big-ticket items, naturally, but I also try to spare them the trip to Roads to Moscow, the indie store. They would just haaaate Roads to Moscow. I try to pick things that are just this side of mainstream; things they could pick up in those fascist chain record stores like Wherehouse or Musicland.

For Christmas, 1984, one item tops my list: Sandinista!

"Sandinista?" my mom asks, in That Tone.

"Sandinista?" my dad echoes.

HAH! I knew that would get them. My parents have been more or less Republican all their lives. On occasion my father has been suspected of voting for Democrats, but no one's ever been able to prove it. As for my mother--

"What is it, an album by communists?" my mother wants to know.

"I doubt it," my father laughs. "Communists couldn't get their act together long enough to produce a record album, much less sell one in this country. They have bread lines to stand in."

I am long practiced in ignoring my father and his smartass remarks. "It's by the Clash," I tell my mother cooly. "Want me to write it down for you?"

"Oh, I think I can remember that. The Clash? Again? I thought you had everything by them already."

"This is the only one I don't have. It's a triple album."

"So that's why we get to pay for it," my father grumbles.

Perfect! I can never resist an opportunity to lecture my parents on the evils of capitalism and the goodness of the Clash.

"You won't find it that expensive, actually," I tell them. "You see, most Clash fans in England are very poor--"

"Because they don't work." My father is starting to grate my nerves with the smart remarks. He certainly doesn't ever let me make smart remarks, which makes this whole conversation unfair from the start. Unfair, and fascist.

"--because Thatcher's fascist policies have taken away their jobs, you mean, and so what the Clash did, because they are not heartless thugs like Thatcher and Reagan, was record a triple album, but demand that their record company release it in a single sleeve to keep the costs down."

"I'm sure the record company loved that," my mother says.

Really, no wonder my parents are so ignorant of the plight of the poor: They're too busy making jokes about it. How sad they are. How bourgeois. Have they no shame at all?

"I think it's nice that a band would care so much about its fans that they would take on the corporate greed machine like that," I tell my parents.

"Oh, no one's saying it isn't nice," laughs my father--has the man been laughing this entire time? What is so funny about this?--"it's not like your mother and I work for the record company. It's no skin off our asses to pay less money for this crap--"--this crap? Did he just call--"so tell the Clash your mother and I said 'thanks.'"

"I didn't say thanks," my mother corrects him. "I can't believe we just agreed to buy her a record called 'Sandinista.'" She turns her attention to me again: "Do you even know who the Sandinistas are?"

"Sure," I bluff. Well, not really bluff, exactly. I mean, I have an idea--

"Do you even know what country they're in?" Oh damn, damn, damn my father. That fascist! But wait--wait, something I heard on the public radio (the nonfascist radio!) the other night--

"Nicaragua," I say proudly.

"That's not bad for a kid who only ever reads the leisure section," my father admits.

A kid. God, they're so--"Oh WHAT," I sneer, "I should be like you and read the Wall Street Journal?"

"I'd settle for you reading your homework assignments once in awhile."

"Whatever. At least I care about what's going on in the world."

Oh hell. Why did I say that? Why did I say that? I just know I have let myself in for it with that one. I don't know anything about what's going on in the world. My father is right: I only ever read the leisure section. And music magazines--Creem and Rolling Stone and Trouser Press when I can find it.

But I care! I just need to become better informed is all. It'd be easier to do if I weren't stuck here in Mesa, the heart of Mormonville after Salt Lake City. Here in Mesa, with all the fascists.

Fantastic: Now my mother's laughing at me. This is a disaster. It is a difficult thing to do, to make my mother laugh.

"If you care so much about Nicaragua," my mother wants to know, "then why don't you care how many Nicaraguans were killed by the Sandinista regime?"

"And starved," my father puts in.

"And jailed," adds my mother.

"That . . . that isn't exactly true," I tell them. What exactly did that professor guy on the radio say the other night? Oh!--"That's just an excuse Reagan used to justify . . ."--oh, help me, Lord; to justify what again?--"to justify that whole deal with the Contras." There. With any luck the vagueness of "that whole deal" will cover most of my bases on this one.

I remember another thing the professor said and add, "You can't trust what you read in our papers, because they're biased in favor of the Reagan administration,"--will my parents stop laughing for one minute?--"but anyone who really wants to find out what's happening in Nicaragua, who really cares about the truth, should just go there and see for themselves."

My parents stop laughing. Finally! My mother sighs and says, "Well, you're going to have to make do with the papers--"

"--which she doesn't read--" I give my father That Look. "Don't give me That Look," my father snaps. "You don't read them."

"Well, she's going to have to start reading them if she cares so much," my mother tells him, "because she's not going to Nicaragua."

"Of course she's not going to Nicaragua. You think I'm gonna pay the plane fare? She doesn't even have a passport."

I give up.

My parents are so fascist.

But I'll show them. I'll show them! One day I will be 18 and there'll be nothing they can do, nothing at all, to stop me from going to Nicaragua. I will do just as that man on the radio said, and go see for myself how revolution can heal a wounded people.


Of course . . . of course . . . didn't someone tell me there's a lot of jungle in Nicaragua?

Jungles. Jungles have . . . insects.

Thousands of insects, probably. Large insects. Bigger than the ones you see camping, maybe. They probably fly right at you . . . .

Eh. Maybe I'll just try to tune into NPR more often. Let someone else go to Nicaragua.

Someone who's not, you know . . . fascist.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:17 PM | Comments (5)


Well, no more Yasser. I suppose that's good. I don't expect much to change for the Palestinians, though, unless they get to work on problems like this:

The militant Islamic group, Hamas, said Mr Arafat's death would strengthen its resolve to keep up attacks against Israel.
I've never been able to figure out why Palestinian sympathizers evince no interest in the abuses of the Palestinian people by their own leaders, who kite off with the bulk of the aid money and use the scraps to finance jihad, but, weirdly, never seem to get around to building any hospitals, universities, water systems . . . . You'd think that much true humanitarians--as I'm always told Palestinian activists are--could blame on something besides JOOOOS, but no.
Posted by Ilyka at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2004


Yeah, come on, you've all read it, just admit it:

Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? . . . Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?
So . . . wait: There are monuments in Wisconsin?
Posted by Ilyka at 07:27 PM | Comments (4)

In the Future, All Elections Will Be 2000

I remember reading months back a post by Ace claiming that Michael Totten, being in the liberal hawk camp and thus something of an "independent" voter, was somehow asserting his superiority over those who stand firmly with one party:

He's finally gotten around to congratulating himself as being wise, intelligent, and brave for not being a member of the Republican Party.

It's about time that some liberal-leaning independent somewhere had the balls to acknowledge his own intellectual and moral superiority.

It goes on in that vein. The piece by Totten that set it off is here. I suspect the superiority complex accusation was inspired primarily by this portion of Totten's post:

Political parties are cruel to people who think. The more partisan members are bigots. They hate people in the other political party, and they hate you if you don't follow orders.
You can twist out of that passage that Totten is saying political parties cater to the stupid and the bigoted, but only just. It's a supposition you have to start the paragraph looking for, and it's not what I get out of it.

What I get out of it is this: It isn't that it's better to be an independent; it's that it's harder. If, as Woody Allen once joked, bisexuals automatically increase their chances of having a date for the night, then independents automatically increase their chances of rejection. The chances of getting blasted go up because now you're eligible to get it from either side.

During the 2000 election debacle, I was an active participant on the now-defunct FOX News message boards. I was in that group of voters, some of whom had voted for Gore, others of whom had voted for Bush, who felt that certain elements of the recount were getting out of hand.

We weren't, as noted, all necessarily pro-Bush, but we were all very tired of phrases like, "voter intent." We were tired of this dragging on so long. We were tired of hearing that every vote must count while the only votes being counted seemed to be in traditionally Democratic counties.

We were convinced that the whole country had gone crazy. There was something posted at least once a week noting that Texas retains the right to secede from the U.S. (This is, by the way, why I'm not losing my head over the blue-state secession talk. Been there, done it.) Would any of this ever be resolved?

Because on this issue we were (reluctantly, in some cases) on the side of Bush, the staunch Republicans were pretty nice to us. I had some great discussions with most of them, and when we'd hit a rough patch, something we disagreed on, they'd continue explaining their positions to me with the same courtesy and calmness with which they'd begun the discussion. Eventually we'd either reach a point of agreement, or agree to disagree. Insofar as this fleeting issue was concerned--who should be the next President--we were all on the same team, and that set the tone for most discussions.

The people who showed up saying, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I voted for Gore and yet, I don't like what he's doing. I don't actually want him to be president anymore. I thought Republicans were so sleazy before this but now it's the people in my own party I can't talk to"--oh, they were given the red carpet treatment. You poor thing, they were told. You've probably heard all about how intolerant Republicans are, but just look at the irony! We're not all meanspirited hatemongerers, dear. You'll see. You'll have a much nicer time with us. We will never reject you. We're a big tent. We can make room for you to squeeze in. Come sit by us, dear.

Then it was over. Bush was president. People who'd only been participating to follow the daily news developments in the election wrote their farewell posts, thanked everyone for an interesting time, and left.

And they weren't gone two minutes before it started: The avalanche of threads to discuss what to do now. Now that we've won, it's time to push hard for what we, the party faithful, really want to see done around here.

You want to guess what the most popular topic was?

It wasn't Social Security privatization. It wasn't school vouchers. It wasn't Medicare. It wasn't anything to do with foreign policy (oh, for the return of those days). It wasn't about anything that I, at least, could recall being among Bush's campaign promises. No, the number one topic could best be summarized as, "Now it's time to start rescuing our country from The Gay Agenda."

I had a couple email exchanges with some friends I'd made on the boards. They went like this:

To: bluecat99
From: ilyka
Subject: WTF?

What's with all the gay-bashing all of a sudden on the boards?

To: ilyka
From: bluecat99
Subject: Re: WTF?

You're asking me?

The very same people who'd assured us for the last two months that "The Republican Party caters to homophobes" was only a vicious smear tactic by the liberal media, now didn't want to talk about a damn thing except The Gay Agenda.

These had been sane, reasonable people, in my estimation. I couldn't believe that had changed. Because either it had changed or I had been duped, and who wants to admit they've been duped?

It was just as hard to believe they had changed, but that's what it looked like. The same people who'd politely explained to me that they were against boycotting the Boy Scouts simply because they thought a private organization, nongovernmentally funded, should be able to make whatever rules it pleased--who had couched all discussion in terms of the private versus the public, in terms of being against overlegislation, against government interference, and pro free market--these same people were now gleefully posting things like, "First the Boy Scouts--next, OUR SCHOOLS! I'm sick of these fags trying to force their 'lifestyle' on our kids!"

I didn't want to barge in and say, "Wow, you people disgust me." I thought that would be inflammatory. These people hadn't been inflammatory to me, or even to most other board participants. I thought of how nice they'd been to people who'd had the patience to discuss things with them politely, reasonably, even when no agreement was possible. They had given me a chance. I would give them a chance.

So I suggested that maybe, of all the issues out there, fighting the gay agenda was the least important of them. Hey, how 'bout that Social Security privatization, huh?

The response was essentially, "You're still here? Oh, yah, you, the fag-lover. Listen, thanks for all your help before. Now go hang out with all your FAG FRIENDS. We're in charge now." Thanks for helping us fight the good fight. You're dismissed.

Well, that was that. I was spending too much time with these discussions anyway. I had work to do and I was feeling guilty for having neglected it. My friends and I reasoned that, well, maybe this was inevitable--now that it was all over, everyone who had better things to do than fret over the gay agenda was off doing those better things. This was probably just the fringe element, the nutters who eventually take over any public forum. Most Republicans, we said, weren't like this.

Some white supremacists had started posting openly, too, but, geez, they weren't the backbone of the party either. Couldn't be! Right? Right? It was the Dixiecrats who'd catered to and stoked the racists in their midst. The Democratic Party, not the Republican one. Gee, everybody knew that.

Most Republicans weren't gay-bashers. Most Republicans weren't racists. But the ones who were, shouted the loudest. Eventually, no one else could be heard.

I suppose my point is that while I don't feel "the middle," however you define it, is superior to one end of the spectrum or the other, it is, if there is to be any unity, more necessary in times of heated disagreement. Oh, don't roll your eyes at me! Face it: The odds that the leftiest of the left and the rightiest of the right will dance together voluntarily are nil. I don't expect them to, I don't even want to see it; that's going to be some ugly dancing. And someone's going to have to hold the gun to their heads to force it to happen. No. No thanks.

These problems will not be solved at the ends of the political divide. They will be solved in the middle, by people who are sick of taking bullets from both directions. Take the Ashcroft thing: Is anyone happy about the Ashcroft thing on the left? (Okay, Willis is. Good for him.) I'd have thought Ashcroft's resignation would be like getting an early Christmas present, but no. The distrust and suspicion are so ingrained that the predominant reaction is, "Well, so what. Well, Bush will probably just choose someone worse now. Well, we shouldn't forget that he still sucked."

And on the other side, it's the sin of omission: "He wasn't that bad. He didn't invade that much privacy." I realize Simon's talking primarily about the Patriot Act, but I'm thinking of other issues, like the bit where he subpoenaed the medical records of women who'd had late abortions. That matters far more to me than whether or not he covered up the breasts on a statue.

That news wasn't widely discussed because--because why? Because it never stood a chance of making it through all the noise about the Patriot Act and statue boobies. Lots more fun to scream, scream, scream about the Patriot Act.

Apparently, I live in a country that's gone whole-hog Jerry Springer, and not just in Jesusland, where your average snob might expect that to occur. No, it's everywhere. Saying this or that side has been the better, the more civil, the less hateful--even if it were provably true, it'd still be a pointless assertion. Try this: Make yourself watch some Springer some time. Now, do your level best to care which half of which transgendered incestuous couple makes better arguments. You'll want to do this quick, before they start taking their clothes off.

Move to the middle, damnit. I'm not saying you have to compromise your positions, but you do have to quit treating us like cattle, herding us your direction by pointing your finger at the other side and saying, "See? See how insane they are? You wanna end up over there, with all the crazy people?" And then, when we start to trot over, the other side starts up: "You're standing over there, with all the bigots?" And we think, shoot, I didn't mean to give that impression. I'd better head back more towards--"Hey! Quit hanging with the crazy people!" Whoops, I guess I better--

Enough! I will stand with your side when I think your side is right, but if you come near my behind with that branding iron again you're going to get kicked in the teeth. When I say, "move to the middle," I don't mean "think exactly the way I do." I mean, quit behaving like this:

. . . now I'm suddenly a target not just for the left, but for the right. I'm being told I must fight the good fight, rethink my stance on gay issues, abortion, the definition of family and religion. I'm seeing the first hints of alienation. They got my war on terror vote. I was part of them for this whole election cycle, working side by side to get Bush elected. And now that the election is over, I've been given a put up or shut up demand. Bad enough to get the bullets from the opposing party, I'm now being eased out the door of my own.
You don't have to agree with the middle; as I learned here, "the middle" means different things to different people, and trying to build a platform around "the middle" might well be impossible. But you'll damn well quit alienating the middle if you're truly serious about achieving your goals. You'll quit calling for purges of the unbelievers and settle for being glad you've got a few of us to shore up your ranks.

You'll do this, or we'll leave.

We don't think we're "better" for being mushy middles. We just think we take double the grief for it.

And after four years of taking it, we are all grieved out.

UPDATE 11/12/2004: "I voted for Bush for two things: lower taxes and dead terrorists." Si, si. And since it's Veteran's Day and the author is in fact a veteran, one other thing: Thank you. Thank you for everything you did.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:46 PM | Comments (17)

November 09, 2004


Not to give anyone a gross visual or anything, but I am loving the Screaming Memes blog so violently I shudder with it. This is a sort of sequel to the Iraq War Was Wrong blog, and it'd qualify as inspired parody if only it weren't consistently out-crazied by some of the commenters at ol' Daily Kos. Still, much love for trying, Memester:

They say only the old and the vary young can get the [flu] vaccine, why?

Well of course old people voted for Bush, and the young can still be brainwashed! Then they can spred this Government Flu to us, the thinking
inteligencia, just because we don't don't support a chimp!!

. . .

We are in big trouble here. I hope the American people don't take to long to figure this out. We may need help from our freinds in Europe, maybe France, they get it, maybe they can talk some sence into our leaders, maybe help us inpeach Bush. We're going to need help....

Help and a whole lotta tinfoil. Red alert--shields up! (That last via Pixy.)

Posted by Ilyka at 09:30 PM | Comments (3)

The Progress Report

Dave Schuler did a nice job with this week's Carnival of the Liberated, a compendium of posts from Iraqi and Kurdish bloggers. If your initial reaction to the carnival's title is to dismiss it reflexively as "propaganda," be advised that it also includes posts by Iraqis who take issue with some of the U.S.'s actions in that region. In other words, it's a comprehensive sampling rather than a gaggle of pro-U.S. cheerleaders. Broaden your horizons a little, and check it out.

I've been remiss both in reading things like this and in linking them, but I'm trying to do better. The presence of these bloggers on the web always strikes me as something of, I don't mean to be hokey here but--a miracle. That I can sail right past the press and go straight to what this or that Iraqi citizen has to say about how things are going in his neck of the woods is amazing.

It's fun to imagine what might have been different if, say, Romanians had written blogs in the wake of their revolution. I'm thinking of passages like this from Balkan Ghosts:

Masticating loudly, he began lecturing me in an almost operatic fashion, thrusting his jaw out like Mussolini. Mircea translated.

"It is all the fault of Roosevelt. Everything here," waving his hand. "He sold Romania out at Yalta. Otherwise Romania would be like France today.

"What he says is true," Mircea added, suddenly a bit angry. "Because of Roosevelt, that God-damn cripple, we suffered for forty-five years."

"Roosevelt was near death's door at Yalta; he died a few weeks later," I started to explain. "The agreement he negotiated with Stalin called for free elections in Eastern Europe. It wasn't his fault that the Red Army's presence in these countries made the agreement unenforceable. Blame Stalin, blame Hitler for beginning the war in the first place. But don't blame Roosevelt."

"Roosevelt, he was the traitor," the man in suspenders said, practically spitting at me.

"And now we are being sold out again," said Mircea. "This Bush, we don't trust him. Only Reagan was good for us."

At the mention of "Reagan," everyone around the wooden table--the mayor's wife, the man in suspenders, Mircea, Ioanna--all stopped eating and nodded their heads in a sort of approving benediction. . . .

"The 'evil empire,' I remember hearing Reagan's speech on the VOA Romanian broadcast," Mircea said. . . . "He was the only one of your presidents to speak the truth. But this Bush, ah, just another Roosevelt. You watch, Romania will be sold out again. We always are."

Now that would have made for a fascinating cross-blog conversation, whatever your beliefs about the subject.

Posted by Ilyka at 05:46 PM | Comments (1)

Continuing the Python Theme

Maybe I'll just declare it Monty Python week around here until everyone agrees to settle down. This is irresistible:


EXPECTANT MEDIA: 'Ere, he says he's not dead.

WORLD: Yes he is.



WORLD: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.

I pretty much operate on the assumption that of course you get the reference because of course you memorized all your Monty Python sketches years ago, in much the way that one used to assume that of course people knew their Latin--anyway, if that isn't the case, the source is here.

Something about the whole Yasser thing must jibe naturally with Python sketches; here's Dr. DNA assuring the world that Arafat's just pining for the fjords.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:22 PM | Comments (1)

As a Set of Grandparents Used to Say . . .

. . . "Oh, bless her heart." Margi's, I mean. Because if a Monty Python quiz can't unite us, I'm telling you, nothing can. Want to see what Monty Python sketch character I am?--Click the extended entry. But first, see if you can guess it from my answers:

You walk into a restaurant and eat a HUGE meal. The waiter asks if you want dessert. You say: I'll ask the questions here!

After dessert, it's time to pay the check. You tell the waiter: I have to go to the lavatory.

From the following, choose your favourite song: SPAAAAM! Wonderful SPAAAAAM!

And your favorite colour? Green. (Editor's note: First pick, purple, not listed.)

You feel most comfortable when wearing: Whatever I damn well please, you stupid bastard!

Choose the phrase that YOU would be most likely to use: NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Which movie(s) would you find most interesting? Suspect. (Editor's note: I found none of the titles interesting. Suspect just happened to be the only one I'd actually seen.)

In your spare time, you can be found: Shouting obscenities at strangers. (Editor's note: Isn't that what having a blog is all about?)

What's your dream job? Food critic.

And finally, after a long hard day at your dream job, you just can't wait to: Go home and swear at the cat. (Editor's note: I don't even have the dream job, yet this still happens EVERY DAY.)

So what creature am I in the Pythonverse? Oh, just humor me and pretend you care.

You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others into trouble, even if you have to make up lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!
You are a cardinal! You love to try & get others
into trouble, even if you have to make up
lies...NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition!

What Monty Python Sketch Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

People, that is just so freakin' Catholic I could cry.

Posted by Ilyka at 08:59 AM | Comments (2)

November 08, 2004

I've Got This Great Idea for a Monday

I know! Let's play a fun game where the entire right end of the blogiverse gets all bent out of shape about something a guy who's been industrial-strength crazy for months now wrote about evangelicals.

I might as well make myself plain here, before I forget my manners and tell a particular commenter who's been aggravating the bejesus (whoops!) out of me to get in line behind Angela: I'm a Catholic who was raised Mormon. Do you know what that means? That means born-agains give me a monstrous pain in the ass. Years of being "witnessed to" by them, of being told you're not a "real" Christian, will do that to a person.

I know that I should be tolerant of these people, but without a divine intervention that tolerance ain't materializing in me anytime soon. Rosaries only get you so far. And the tolerance ain't happening for the purely secular reason that I don't like suggestive selling, which is precisely the activity evangelicals feel "called" to do. As I said to this woman once in an email, if I had wanted a side of Jesus with that, I'd have ordered Him.

And actually, I'm not even sure it's the witnessing I mind as much as the inevitable moaning and wailing and loud-ass lamentation about how persecuted Christians are when a cranky old bitch like myself points them to the "no soliciting" sign. Or when someone says, you know, maybe the 10 Commandments don't need to be in the courthouse. Or you know, maybe creationism doesn't have any place in the classroom. Or you know, maybe Florence King had a point about the pledge sounding better without the God stuff in it. Or when anyone says anything against them, why, EVER.

It's an awfully thin-skinned version of Christianity in my book. You know, the guy Christians claim to follow put up with a good deal worse than playground-grade insults from Bob Herbert and Derango-Man. So suck it up. Let's have a little stiff upper lip about the faith, or is that too Anglican a concept? Maybe a quiz would help clarify my point a little:

Christians were last free from persecution:

(a) . . . in Jesus' day
(b) . . . during the 12th century
(c) . . . during the Reformation
(d) . . .

People don't like it when you force your beliefs on them. They don't like it when you get in their faces and try to save them--yes, even when you say "please" and "thank you" while you're doing it.

And they get nervous when they hear rumors that the President believes he's been called by God, because . . . because you're supposed to get nervous about that. Because what if, and I know it's a radical concept, but what if you're an American citizen who's NOT among the chosen and maybe even, GASP, doesn't ever want to be?

Is Layne overreacting? Shit, people, do fish swim? The overreacting is sort of his schtick anymore, I don't know if you noticed. But it's not the left I'm finding nearly as obnoxious on this score as it is the defensive, whining, we-don't-want-to-convert-you-we-just-want-to-CONVERT-you faux Christians on the right.

Sorry, but you people will definitely not be admitted into the confederacy of fun. You can stand just outside the gates and witness to each other instead.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:14 PM | Comments (1)

November 07, 2004


I haven't been rabidly political all my life, you know; I don't even think I'm rabidly political now. I care, but I don't care a lot. I find politics more interesting than I used to, but I also quickly reach an overload point where I just need to tune it all out.

For some reason, one thing people who've found themselves drifting rightward over the years cannot resist doing is chronicling the drift, trying to pinpoint where it all began, laughing at where they used to be Before, before they did that thing they never, ever thought they'd do and Actually Voted for a Republican, Can You Believe It?

If you think I'm kidding, check out this old comment thread at Tim Blair's. For every one guy who posts, "Gee, I've always been conservative," (the first few comments in the thread are mainly that) there are 19 others derisively but good-naturedly recalling their days with the Green Party.

I don't really know why right-leaners find this activity so fun. I do think it shores up the assertion that people on the right are made, not born.

Here is one of my Defining Political Moments or whatever, as nearly as I can recall it. If I'm disciplined enough this next week, I'll write about more of them and make it a series.

No promises.


I am in the seventh grade at a junior high school in Cupertino, California, during an election year: 1980. I don't know anything about any of the candidates, but I do know I'm a Goldilocks sort of person who wants the bed neither too soft nor too hard, so I figure that probably if I could vote, I'd vote for John Anderson, the independent. In the addled reasoning of my 11 year-old brain, his being neither a Democrat nor a Republican must mean that he is Just Right.

Many of my classmates are very political and there's a lot of discussion going on and lots of surveys being taken on Who We'd Vote For, If We Could Vote. When I get corralled into one of these I give my stock answer of "Anderson" and it usually registers no more than "hmm, okay," in reply. This is fine with me because I'm not interested in this nearly as much as I'm interested in getting the attention of a boy in my English class.

One day a strident, obnoxious girl I'm not fond of asks me who I would vote for. You know, in case 11 year-olds ever get the vote and all.

"Anderson, I guess."

"Anderson? That's throwing your vote away."

"Well, I can't vote anyway so I guess it doesn't matter."

"Of course it matters. Why wouldn't you vote for Carter?"

"I dunno. I just like Anderson better."

"Well, who are your parents voting for, then?"

Oh, good. I actually know the answer to this one. "Reagan," I tell her.

The girl literally sprays me with spit. "REAGAN?!?"

"Man, Debbie--say it, don't spray it."

"How could they vote for Reagan? Did you know Reagan wants to take away old people's Social Security?"

"What's that?"

"It's the money they get from the government after they retire! Without it they'd all STARVE!"

"That's terrible."

"Of COURSE it's terrible! Your parents are INSANE!"

Wow. I have never actually considered that my parents might be mental before. I don't always get along with them, but this is the first time someone's suggested that might be due to insanity on their part.

It sure sounds crazy, to vote for a guy who'd be so mean to old people like this. "I don't know why they would vote for someone who'd do something awful like that," I apologize to Debbie. "But maybe they don't know about this."

"Well, TELL them. And then ask them how they could vote for a MONSTER like Reagan."

"I will. I'll ask 'em tonight."

Debbie shakes her head disgustedly and moves on to the next student.

That night I ask my mother how she could vote for a mean guy like Ronald Reagan who wants to starve old people. Old people are the very nicest people I know. My grandparents are old people and they are wonderful to me. Why does my mother want to starve them?

My mother sighs. "Who told you that?"

"This girl at school."

"A friend of yours?"

"Not really."

My mother asks, "Do you know how Social Security works?"

"No," I admit. "I didn't even know what it was."

"Social Security is like a retirement program managed by the government."

"Okay," I say, "What's wrong with that?"

"In theory, nothing's wrong with that. It's a nice idea. In theory, you put money in while you're working and take it out when you retire."

"Like a bank?"

"Not exactly. What actually happens is the government takes the money out of your paycheck as a tax and puts it into a program called Social Security."

"But you pay taxes in April."

"You do. We do. This money for Social Security comes out automatically before that, though. The money we pay in taxes on April 15 goes to other things."

"Okay." I'm still not seeing why Debbie was so upset. And what about the old people? My mother goes on:

"The problem is the way it's set up. The way it's set up, there's not enough money when you retire, when you start to collect Social Security, to make up for what you put in while you were working."

"So we should put more money in?"

"That's one . . . look, do you know what a pyramid scheme is?"


"Okay," my mother sighs again. "I'll try to explain it to you. In a pyramid scheme, there's a large base of people at the bottom who are putting just a little money into something, some investment. They're the bottom of the pyramid. And because there are so many of them, they don't have to put in very much individually to create a large sum all together. Are you following this so far?"

"Kind of . . . ."

"If you have 100 people each contributing $1, you wind up with $100 total. But if you have only 20 people contributing, they would each need to kick in $5 to get $100 total."


"At the top of the pyramid, you have a very small portion of people collecting and drawing off the money contributed by the people at the base of the pyramid. The theory of a pyramid scheme is that people start at at the base of the pyramid contributing small amounts, migrating over time to the top of the pyramid, where they take out large amounts. Or rather, that's not how a pyramid scheme actually works, but it's how the people on the bottom think it will work. In reality, the people at the top stay right where they are, collecting all the money. That's why pyramid schemes are illegal."

"But then--"

"Hold on. Don't interrupt. I'm not saying Social Security is exactly like a pyramid scheme, but the operation of it depends on something like it. It depends on a large pool of current workers putting money in, so that the relatively small pool of retired workers at the top will have plenty of money to take out."

"Why don't they just take out the money they put in? Why do they take out money put in by the other people?" I'm not following this at all. They take out other people's money?

"What happened to the money they put in?" I want to know.

"It's still there. But over time, it doesn't buy as much as it used to, because it hasn't been invested well and isn't earning enough interest to make up for inflation. It doesn't have the value that it used to and won't buy them what they need. You've heard your dad talk about what candy bars used to cost when he was little? They cost more now, don't they? They cost more, and they're smaller."

That's true, I think, although I have sometimes wondered if my dad was making this up. A nickel for a candy bar?

And I think I kind of know what inflation is. I hear about it on the news a lot. Apparently it's bad. My parents have been complaining about it.

Interest I am less sure about. "What's interest?"

"Interest is--interest is something you'll understand better when you have your own bank account. For now . . . if you put your allowance in the piggy bank, what happens to it?"

This seems like an awfully dumb question to me. "It stays there."

"Right. But if you were to put that money in a real bank, like your father and I do, it would stay there and earn interest. Interest is money the bank pays you based on how much you have in your bank account, more or less."


"We'll talk about that some other time. To get back to Social Security, what's happening is--is several things. For one thing, people aren't having as many babies as they used to, so there will eventually be fewer new workers to enter the base of the pyramid, and that base will shrink. Remember what I said about how much each worker needs to contribute to make $100?"

"Uh . . . ."

"Pay attention," she admonishes. "You're smart enough to understand this if you try. The fewer workers at the base of the pyramid, the more each worker has to pay into it for the people at the top to collect enough money. That's one problem with the Social Security system. The base is shrinking. That means more money comes out of each worker's paycheck."

"Then it gets a little complicated" my mother continues, "but basically, what with the shrinking base, the effects of inflation, and the poor interest, the people at the top are not able to collect as much as they should. Over time, they put a lot of money in while they were working. Now, the only way for them to get sufficient money out is for the workers at the base to contribute more."

"Then the workers should contribute more. It's not fair to the old people!"

"It's also not fair," my mother says gently, "to the workers. They're trying to raise families and feed their children, and they could use that money themselves. Worst of all, when they eventually reach the top of the pyramid, the very same thing is going to happen to them: There won't be enough money for them to live on. Do you think that's fair?"

"No," I admit. "But--"

"The other problem is at the top of the pyramid," my mother goes on, "The problem at the top is that people are living longer. That's a good thing, a very good thing, but it causes a problem in a pyramid scheme. When Social Security first started, it assumed people wouldn't live long after they retired, and therefore, they wouldn't spend nearly as much time at the top of the pyramid taking out, as they did lower down in the pyramid putting in. It assumed there would always be plenty of money available, that more would be going in than would be coming out."

"The reason your father and I would like to see changes made to Social Security," she continues, "is that we don't want to be hungry and poor when we retire. If we could have some of the money we put into Social Security and put some of it into our own savings, we could make sure there would be enough money for us once we quit working. But we can't do that, because the government takes that money automatically. What it amounts to is that we're paying for a service we may never receive, or that won't be much good if we do. Now your friend--"

"She's NOT my friend," I interrupt. I have never really liked Debbie.

"Well, this girl at school is right to be concerned about Social Security benefits. No one wants seniors to go hungry, to be poor after all those years of working. But she's wrong about the best way to prevent that from happening. She may not understand Social Security any better than you did," my mother concludes, "so if she asks you about this again, maybe you should try to explain it to her."


The next day at school Debbie corners me right after PE. "Well?" she sneers. "What did your parents say about Reagan?" She says "Reagan" like it's a cuss.

"They don't want to starve old people," I tell her. "But they don't think Social Security does what it's supposed to do. See, it's like a pyramid, and what's happening is--"

The forecast for Debbie today must have read, "Partly salivary with an 80% chance of spittle."

"OHHHHHH!" she says sprays, actually stamping her foot, "That is such right-wing PROPAGANDA!"

"Listen! You didn't let me finish--"

"I don't need to LET YOU FINISH!" she rages. "I've already heard this pathetic excuse and it's BULLSHIT!"

"But I'm not surprised," she sneers, before I can get a word in. "Coming from a bunch of MORMONS, I'm not surprised AT ALL."

And before I can puzzle out what my family's religion has to do with any of this, she turns around and walks away.

Eventually I quit telling classmates I would vote for Anderson. I start saying "Reagan" instead.

Sometimes I don't like my mother at all, but I think she is probably smarter than Debbie.

And she definitely spits at me less.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:44 PM | Comments (4)

Thread Collection

A short list of open threads, necessarily incomplete. There are too many to keep up with, but here a few focusing mainly on the election aftermath:

  • Open thread to define liberal morals, culture of life, and values. If your first response to that is, "liberals have morals?" I'm going to disrespectfully request that you go do that thing you do with the Jergen's and the front cover of Treason instead because hey, what's one more time at this point? Otherwise, enjoy.

  • Open thread on all things election-related here as well, which Ace periodically bumps to the top to encourage participation. This one leans the other direction from the thread above; may contain gloating.

  • A certifiably Evil open thread that asks readers what the Democrats need to do to win the next one.

  • This didn't start out as an open thread, but it's generated some quality discussion nonetheless. I'm also pathetically hopeful my response to this will catapult "Angela? Go f--- yourself" to a national catchphrase, eventually rivaling that Big Lebowski quote in popularity. What? I can dream, can't I?

  • Finally, a no-topic-required open thread because, let's face it, at some point you're bound to reach a saturation point on the election. This one's just tawk, no big whoop. Oh, and here's who I should have voted for, but I didn't even know she was running. You see what happens when you don't make a conscious effort to stay informed?

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)
  • Blackie Lawless, Gorditas, MATCHBOX 20 (The Truth is Out There)

    Via Pixy Misa, it's . . . look, just read it:

    DAN RATHER: I did my best. I'm a Texas newsman, Mr. Trump, and I go to where the story is, no matter who might be angry about. Not the White House, not political partisans on the Internet--

    TRUMP: Dan, I've gotta be honest. Those were some really bad forgeries. They were ridiculous.

    RATHER: We put them through the most intense fact-checking possible--

    TRUMP: Dan, one of them was scribbled on the front of a Taco Bell tray-liner. It said that George Bush was to be suspended for flying for failing to complete a required gordita. And it gave the name of his Air National Guard unit as "Extra Spicy." I've seen better work, Dan.

    The Riptide leitmotif is really the glue that holds everything together here . . . and if that makes no sense to you, it's because you didn't follow instructions to go read the whole thing.

    Pixy's blog is nearly overloaded with good bits lately; I think he should start crediting some of the entries to mysterious guest bloggers before anyone starts getting the idea he's actually good at this. Think about it: Hangar 18, Matchbox 20--coincidence? I don't think so. I may not be sure exactly what the connection is between the two, but I know something fishy is going on with each. You will not keep the truth from me. It is out there, and I will find it.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

    Sixteen Months and What Do You Get?

    Am I the only one who thinks that's a pretty lenient sentence to levy against a guy who stole the identity of a terminal cancer patient? Double it. Then take that number, and double it again. Then take that number, and double it again. Then take that number . . . .

    I think I'd go 10 years if it were up to me. I know, I know, all that time in prison won't do anything to rehabilitate him, blah blah blah . . . but I don't see any rational basis for believing that people who prey on the weak like that are likely to be rehabilitated in any case. Nor do I see any hope for the perpetrators in this case here. If that makes me a law-and-order wingnut, great, I can live with that.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:26 AM | Comments (3)

    November 06, 2004

    I Don't Think You Really Want My Vote

    In some ways lately--oh, to hell with it. I can't stand to listen to myself whine anymore. I'm going to say this once. I'm going to try to keep it short although as we all know by now, that is not my forte. I'm going to say it as carefully as I possibly can:

    The Democratic Party has two choices, and only two, in the wake of their defeat this year: They can ask what's wrong with them, or they can ask what's wrong with the people who didn't vote for them.

    I lost a job once. I had two choices, and only two, then: I could ask what had been wrong with my performance, or I could ask what had been wrong with my employer.

    There was, and is, no Door #3. I'm sorry. It would be nice if there were.

    It is not indulging in rhetorical "tricks" to note that choosing Door #2, ask what's wrong with the people who rejected you, is both the strategy most likely to make you feel better and the strategy least likely to actually get you better. Believe me, I spent innumerable hours choosing Door #2 and it never, ever got me new employment.

    I sure did feel better about myself, though! Those bastards, those assholes, those dimwits, there were so many ways, countless ways, in which they were so clearly, stunningly wrong for letting me go! And if they were so clearly, stunningly wrong then obviously, I was clearly and stunningly right! I'm better off without them! The way they tried to drag me down with them, to sabotage me, why, it's just--oh, look, it's the unemployment check finally come! Oh happy day! Oh, I'm so--wow, unemployment really doesn't pay for shit anymore, does it?

    I'm sorry, but I'm touchy about this rhetorical tricks deal, and I got it in a comment thread recently, and . . . and I'm not seeing the trickery, rhetorical or otherwise; I'm seeing it as bleeding obvious. You want to complain to me for being patronizing by pointing it out, now yes, that complaint you got some ground for. I will totally cop to being patronizing.

    The joke in all this is that the Democrats don't even need to choose Door #1. They don't need to ask themselves what's wrong with them. They have people volunteering to tell them in droves:

    Lastly, and I hope this doesn't hurt anyone feelings, because my objective is to make you think, not emote: I don't think you really want my vote. I actively sought out your perspective. I tuned in regularly, for months, to your biggest media project, your serious effort to get your message out: Air America Radio. I listened all day on Good Friday as host after host mocked people like me for believing in Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. I listened as Janeane Garofalo, who was one of my favorite comedians for years, expressed hatred and disgust for Bush voters so vile that I ended my live stream feeling assaulted, as if I'd been vomited on. I listened the night that Mike Malloy told a young Republican to hang up the phone and go open a vein.
    This is usually the point at which someone snarls at me that oh, who cares, she's obviously not a real true-believing Democrat anyway, we were never gonna get her vote so to hell with her, and screw that Michael Totten fellow too, that poseur, that faker, because I know what side he's REALLY on! You charlatans and shills don't fool ME, hear? Incidentally, have I told you lately that BUSH VOTERS ARE STUPID?

    Yeah, you have, thanks. And yeah, I hear you. I can totally understand why you don't want the vote of this person. I mean, just look at her, it's disgraceful:

    I have gay friends who are closeted and gay friends who couldn't be more open if they had QUEER tattooed across their foreheads, and I think they should be allowed to get married if they want to. I read The Onion, Dilbert, Dan Savage's sex advice,, and quite a few blogs. The local librarians know me on sight. I waited in line until midnight when the fifth Harry Potter book came out. I can't wait to see the new Chucky movie. I will probably shack up before I get married, but I won't be proud of it. I wouldn't buy an SUV, even if I could pay cash for one. I recycle. I shop at Wal-mart, but I feel guilty about it, and if they unionized, I would never cross the picket line. I think FOX News is about as fair and balanced as a seesaw with a gorilla on one end.
    Enough sarcasm: Either you get people like this back on board or it's gonna be "meet Fred Peete, professional loser" four years from now.

    And if that happens, then by that time, people like me will have lost all patience with the notion of common ground. "Common ground" will be the punchline to every joke ever told by then. People like me will be laughing 'til the tears run down our faces. We'll all be drunk as lords, even the Baptists, and yea verily that party shall know NO end, because every time someone gets in danger of sobering up, one of the others will say, LOSERS! and the gleeful hysterics will explode throughout the room all over again.

    UPDATE: I forgot to credit the link above. It's via Instapundit. Which means IT'S ALL REPUBLICAN LIIIIIIIES, of course.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:20 PM | Comments (4)

    Shorter Unsolicited Advice

    Why'd I write all that crap anyhow? Look how easy it is to trim the verbiage:

    Righties, people don't like it when you call them traitors, moonbats, and appeasers--unless it's demonstrably true that they are, in which case, who cares what they think. (See: Rall, Ted.)

    Lefties, people don't like it when you call them stupid, bigoted, and homophobic--unless it's demonstrably true that they are, in which case, who cares what they think. (See: Duke, David.)

    There. Was that so hard? Good night. I ought to edit myself more often.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:34 AM | Comments (3)

    November 05, 2004

    I Had a Very Bad Spanish Teacher

    A-ha! I knew it all along, probably before he told me my family was Portuguese, but a woman at Cal Tech has proved it beyond doubt, because I was never taught this distinction (from the comments here):

    . . . comprender indicates understanding something you've learned or something you've been told, where as entender is somehow more innate, like conceptual understanding, so Comprende is much more correct contextually than Entiende.
    Not related in any way, beyond my wanting to give her a link, but I had a boss once who used the expression that forms her blog title constantly, usually in reference to DCOM arcana. Very annoying guy. Not to imply that CalTechGirl's blog is annoying, though. I only meant--oh, forget it.
    Posted by Ilyka at 09:37 PM | Comments (1)

    White Males Talking

    So I'm reading the Newsweek postmortem on the various campaigns, and the passage below leaps out at me:

    Campaign manager Jordan had worked for Kerry for five years, serving as staff director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee when Kerry was its chairman. A soft-spoken but hard-nosed operative from North Carolina, Jordan admired Kerry, but he was weary of his indecisiveness. "The world around Kerry is a lot of white males talking," he groused. Every time Jordan decided something, the person who lost out went behind his back to appeal to Kerry, who spent inordinate amounts of time on his cell phone not resolving various disputes. Kerry was known for being deliberative—he was proud of it—but Jordan despaired that Kerry had been turned into a caricature of the U.S. Senate.
    So tell me, is it "fearful" to find that pattern of behavior undesirable in a president? I don't happen to think so. Against jihadists, I do not want a guy who spends "inordinate amounts of time on his cell phone not resolving various disputes."

    (Via Tim Blair, who includes in his excerpts from Newsweek the line, "That idea's so f---ing bad it sounds like something Rove came up with," which seems an awfully uppity thing for a puppet to say on its own.)

    UPDATE: Turd blossom?!

    UPDATE THE NEXT: But why stop there, Newsweek person? You were on such a roll describing that Republican base:

    From the moment he walked into the White House in 2001, he had been building the Republican base, the vast Red State army of evangelicals; flag-waving small-town and rural American Dreamers; '60s-hating, pro-death-penalty, anti-gay-marriage social conservatives; Big Donors
    It's like the author ran out of steam or something! I'll help: puppy kickers, guys who give away movie endings, mullet wearers, incontinent people, Billy Ray Cyrus fans, halitosis sufferers, macarena dancers, careless farters, line cutters, tax cheaters, Pinto drivers, Partridge Family members, Tony Danza . . . .
    Posted by Ilyka at 09:19 PM | Comments (2)

    Yeah, I Don't Care Who Gloats Over This

    Gloat freely, gloat exultantly . . . I wasn't going to bring up Arafat's exit from the world until he was in the ground mainly to avoid falling back on the "der, he was brain-dead already, hork hork!" bit that's irresistible to so many . . . but I foolishly forgot about all the fun one can have with the tombstone generator.

    Also, for reasons I'm not quite clear on, this headline is reminding me of that scene in Kindergarten Cop where Arnold insists angrily to the kid that it's NOT a tumor. It's not a tumor. At all.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)

    The Screws at the Back of the Tongue (Or, There Will Be Some Changes Around Here)

    The screws, they have been loosened--not by alcohol, nor by illicit substances, nor by four horsemen, nor by necessity. Certainly not that last--there is no shortage of people who say it better than I do, and thus no need for my tongue to be loosened. Some people need the tongue loosened, but I cannot charitably count myself among them. Is there a market for tongue tightening?--I need THAT.

    No, the screws have been loosened because it's about time, is all. We have a no-more-terms president, and if I can't say what I want to now, then I never can. Es todo, comprende?

    (And yes, I am using the polite form of the verb. I basically use the polite form of the verb unless you know my underwear size. This is not what I was taught in Spanish, but I find that as a rule of thumb, it works--especially when you've been years out of Spanish and can't remember anything.)

    Also, if someone can tell me why comprender es preferido as the infinitive form of the verb "understand" en Norteamérica, when entender means the same thing, and to my ear sounds much better, that is like double bonus, where bonus, sadly, equals zero. And you know what zero times any other number always equals, right?

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:03 PM | Comments (3)

    Ritorna Me

    Yeah, YOU. So people are pedantic nitpickers. So people fill up your inbox with trivialities and bitchery. Yes, and? You want a pass on that? Nobody gets a pass on that. There's Jane's Law, and then there's my law, which is shorter:

    People are assholes.

    Tidy, isn't it? Now quit seeking special dispensation from it and write some shit--besides about anime. I love you, you engineers, but God could grant me immortality and it would not be long enough to figure out the appeal of anime to you people. And if someone could explain to me that guy in freshman CS who used his heaps of brains to read all the Star Wars novels, that would be nice, too.

    So color me clueless on the anime score. Oh--oh--clueless--what does that remind me of? Yes, I believe it is part of the name of what used to be an invaluable blog that I was often lazy about reading. But like the guy who made the art gallery comparison, I loved my five percent. And I would like it back. Which is a lot to ask, yes, and cheeky of me, I know, but desperation will do that to a girl. Also, you saved me from having to rely on primary sources, while at the same time encouraging me to seek out a few that I would otherwise have dismissed as "boring," and did I mention the laziness?--Because I wasn't kidding about that.


    Posted by Ilyka at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)

    Energized Versus Expanded

    I have a feeling it will be a long time before the dust settles on this debate: Did Bush win by energizing his base, or by expanding it? Jesse Taylor drew some fire for asserting the former:

    Incidentally, I really do believe Bush's win is based on getting out the homophobic votes for the same-sex marriage amendments across the nation. I get the feeling he won't get denounced for relying on homophobes to get him into the White House.
    I'm willing to skirt the edges of fair use to include his later clarification because, well, people can be dumb, and clarifications are an attempt to head that dumbness off at the pass, and I am all for that action:
    For the blindingly stupid - no, not everyone who voted against same-sex marriage was a homophobe. But every homophobe voted against same-sex marriage, and the vast majority of them supported Bush and were energized because of these issues.
    Considering the Bush campaign made a point of trumpeting that it had successfully "energized the base," and that the largest block of voters in CNN's exit poll cited "moral issues" as their main concern, I didn't think at the time that this was an entirely unfair supposition. After all, 80% of that largest block had voted for Bush.

    But then you look at the largest block using, God help us, the raw data, and find it depends how you categorize and tabulate the "largest single block:"

    In the first place, "largest single block" turns out to mean 22%, meaning 78% of voters -- including two-thirds of Bush voters -- named some other issue. Second, the pollsters only managed to elevated [sic] "moral values" to number one by dividing up the other issues into subcategories. Thus "Iraq" and "Terrorism" are treated as separate issues, though grouped together as, say, "national security" they would have claimed the top spot, with 34% of the total. Likewise "taxes" and "economy" were named by a combined 25% of voters. Had "moral values" been split into "abortion" and "gay marriage," the spin would have been rather different.
    I can see separating "Iraq" from "terrorism;" while it's commonly believed on the right that the two are indirectly related (I'm in that camp myself), it is not a belief shared by all. What I don't see is the sense in separating "taxes" and "economy." Adjusting the tax rate and steering the appropriation of tax revenue are the primary means by which a president influences the economy (other tinkering such as raising or lowering the prime rate being left to the Federal Reserve). Separating the two into distinct categories, however, makes them specific and exclusive. Either taxes or the economy is your issue; you can't pick both.

    By contrast, "moral issues" is vague--and as such it was guaranteed to garner the lion's share of respondents.

    Look, I freely admit that I failed statistics, but even I can figure this out, and without math. If I ask you whether you prefer fame to riches, you can probably give me a clear answer after only a moment or two. But if I ask you to choose either (1) being hounded by autograph seekers, or (2) having your photograph on the cover of TIME magazine, or (3) receiving "riches," you're probably going to say "riches." (Though if you're shrewd, you'll first ask me to name a figure and currency, thereby narrowing the general category to a specific one, which puts all the choices at more or less equal weight again. Hey, what if I'm talking about riches in pesos?).

    If you put specific categories against general ones, general ones usually win. Do you like food, or anchovies?

    And while I'm freely admitting that I'm lousy with math, let me also freely admit that my vested interest here is that I don't want Jesse's assertion to prove true. I don't like knowing that I voted for the same guy as John Derbyshire. (You thought I was going to link him? Really? That's so cute.)

    But the other thing is . . . the other thing is the old head-in-the-bubble phenomenon. You know, where you read a lot of like-minded people and conclude, often wrongly, that everyone's like you?

    Well, I read a lot of liberals-turned-Bush-voters; thus, it's tempting for me to assume that what made Bush's win possible was their participation, and the participation of others like-minded, at the polls. I'm aware of the caveats--that blog authors are not necessarily representative of the nation as a whole; that blog authors who fit that category of first-time Bush voters may make up only a small fraction of all blog authors--but it doesn't prevent me from thinking that if a fraction exists in the blogosphere, maybe it exists "out there" as well. A further look at the data may bear me out on this (note--emphasis added):

    About 45% of Bush's vote -- nearly half -- came from self-identified "moderates" or "liberals." (How do I get that figure? Jump about a fifth of the way down the page, where it breaks down the vote "by ideology." Liberals made up 21% of all voters, and Bush got 13% of their votes. Multiplying the two, that means 2.7% of voters were "liberals for Bush." Doing the same for moderates (45% of all voters, 45% of whom voted Bush) yields 20.3%: the number of moderate Bush voters. Adding these two tells us 23% of all voters were liberal or moderate Bushies. Those 23% represented 45% of all Bush voters, given these were 51% of the total vote.)
    You can call it spinning the data, but in general, I find it safer to trust conclusions based on number-crunching than conclusions extrapolated from one-sentence soundbites, the general innumeracy of the press being, alas, a well-documented phenomenon. And yeah, I'd like to buy it also because it fits with what I see online.

    For now, I'll just wait for someone to trackback Coyne's analysis with a post titled "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics." That much, at least, is inevitable.

    (Found via one of those liberal Bush voters. Naturally. And I'll second his urging that you read the whole thing before drawing your conclusions.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:28 AM | Comments (1)

    Cried With His Pastor?!

    Solo (I nearly typed S-Train; it's going to take me awhile to adapt, sorry) tells the left end of the blogosphere to get up, stand up. The sense of despondency in some corners was starting to depress me, if you want to know the truth, but then luckily I remembered this:

    Announcer: Fred Peete has returned to his position as Chairman of the Red Cross. But when a tornado hits your home, do you want to rely on a loser like Fred Peete for food and shelter? Mack North thinks not.

    Mack North: After he lost the election, I heard he cried with his pastor. [ laughs ] Cried with his pastor?! Meet Fred Peete, professional loser. Hey, you ate it. Now, eat me!

    Don't give the Mack Norths of the right the satisfaction, guys. Quit crying with your pastor.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:55 AM | Comments (0)

    November 04, 2004

    Blame Game

    "Bloggers said to blame for bad poll info." Because, as you know, it was bloggers who went out and collected that information--no, wait, that was the National Election Pool. But it was bloggers who went out and reported it--well, after they read it off the AP wire. But . . . but . . . but webloggers are all to blame somehow! You webloggers! You stole the election!

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:11 AM | Comments (5)

    November 03, 2004

    Unsolicited Advice

    It's not for the touchy, this one. May also contain unhealthy levels of sanctimony. You've been warned and you agree to proceed at your own risk.


    First, to the many fine bloggers on the right:

    If it's good to be gracious in defeat, it is even better to be gracious in victory. You could start (and many of you have) by acknowledging the should-be-obvious fact that not every human being who voted for Kerry--

    --hates America
    --fails to recognize the seriousness of the terror threat facing this country
    --is a Stalinist
    --is deranged
    --is amoral
    --has no shame/ethics/honor
    --wants Osama or other terrorists to teach the U.S. a lesson
    --wrote in "Saddam Hussein" for Vice President
    --insert other "I've Heard This Crap Way Too Often" denigration here

    I know some of you can't help but go looking at sites like Daily Kos, quoting lunacy like this, and saying, "See? There you go. That's just how they are," while occasionally covering your ass with, "Oh! I know that's not how they all are, but it's how a lot of them are."

    News flash: It's known left and right that there are crazies out there and that the fringes on the left attract a good many of them, not that the right has been without its share.

    And it's fair to point out when the mainstream left is downplaying, sheltering, or coddling the lunatic left.

    Still, it's the difference between going up to someone at a crowded gathering to whisper, "Pardon me; I just wanted to let you know you've got some lettuce on your teeth," and shouting to the rooftops, "WHOOOOO-EEE! Y'all see that guy right there with PARTIALLY-CHEWED FOOD IN HIS TEETH? That is NASTY!"

    My father has an expression he's fond of: "You don't have to tell someone when they've dropped the ball." That person knows already. In cases where that person might not know there's a problem, the pardon-me-I-couldn't-help-noticing approach might, just might, be less likely to provoke an angry, defensive reaction.

    Then maybe we could quit indulging in the faulty circular reasoning that takes those angry, defensive reactions and says, "See? That's just how they are on the left."

    I've seen left-leaning folks try to engage right-leaning commenters, with the left-leaner usually opening with a polite query, only to get blasted out of the water with charges that he's Obviously Brainwashed by the Liberal Media or Clearly Just Trolling or Probably a Third-Generation Communist, too many times to count. If I get some time this weekend, some blogs are coming off the roll on the left precisely because of that phenomenon. It's not the so-called "lefty trolls" I object to; it's the right-leaning asshole commenters who attack them and the right-leaning site owners who let them.

    I'm done; I can't read those sorts of threads anymore. If you make the case in your post that, say, a free Iraq is in America's national interest, and some guy wants to know why, then, there was so much emphasis in the pre-war argument placed on finding weapons of mass destruction . . . you know, do we always have to shoot that guy?!? Is that necessary? He's just asking the question, and it's a valid question.

    Now if a few people answer him politely, and he then pulls the bait-and-switch, and nothing ever, ever satisfies him, and things start getting ugly . . . okay, now maybe you have a troll. There are certainly too many commenters who don't realize that a personally-owned web site is not Metafilter, not Slashdot--not a public forum for his rhetorical fun and games. I get that.

    What I'm saying is I'd like to see less of the automatic knee-jerk pile-on when a commenter shows up on a right-leaning blog who maybe wasn't convinced by the elegant prose of the post, and has a few questions he'd like to ask. Of course, I'd like "an ice cream pony that shat twenties," too, so I'm not holding my breath.

    Ultimately, if 49% of the electorate voted for Kerry, the only thing you can surely conclude is that 49% of the electorate preferred Kerry to Bush. Period. All else is speculation.

    The gracious thing to do would be to consider what, if anything, Bush could have done to make that number 44%, 40%, 39%; to wonder, was there a case not made? Was there an argument or a message that failed to get out? Is there a misconception we left uncorrected? And frankly: Do we have a few Michael Moores of our own we could kick once in awhile? Because nothing's more hypocritical than demanding the left denounce this, that, or the other guy while you're still linking material by someone who wishes McVeigh had hit the New York Times building.

    Or you can kick up your heels and shriek, "Fuck you, lefties, you lunatic America-haters! We won! Choke on it!" WHICH IS FINE (and if it's done tongue-in-cheek I might even enjoy it), but if you're stating that in all seriousness, if you're actually being earnest about it, don't ever expect me to have sympathy for you when you cry about The Viciousness of the Left again. Okay? Okay. Let he who is without sin, etc.


    And speaking of sin, which reminds me of religion, a note to the many fine lefty bloggers:

    It's the condescension I can't take, okay? It's the condescension that makes me click off. I don't shriek in your comment threads; I don't write you angry emails; but I do click off--and any arguments you've made to that point go right out the window.

    Knock it off with the condescension--about flyover country, about "stupid Americans," about religious people, about the right-wing "propaganda machine," about ignorant backwoods folk brainwashed by the "language of fear"--all of that. IT'S INSULTING. I can't believe I even have to point that out.

    Kill the condescension, and then ask yourselves exactly what I suggested those on the right ask themselves: Where'd we lose 'em? Where'd those 51% of American voters go? What could we have done differently?

    I like a lot of you. I read a lot of you. On many issues, I even agree with you. But the condescension! It's how I get things like a friend defending me to a left-leaning guy with the rationale that I must be a victim of "sparkly propaganda"--and she meant well, that's the kicker there. I don't even get to be mad about it 'cause the heart was in the right place . . . though the sting of it lingers. And I get things like this (emphasis added):

    It's clear that the Bush campaign used paid and unpaid media to their advantage in their ability to label Kerry, and effectively made this election one of style over substance for many.
    You know, what unpaid media are we talking about here, exactly? Because I really, really hope it isn't blogs. Rent's due today, and my check from Karl Rove still isn't here. That bastard!

    I can wholly appreciate the urge to believe it was "style over substance;" it's also known as sticking your head in the sand or, What Republicans Did During the Clinton Years. You remember: He was only a popular President because he was Slick Willie. Because he seduced people. Because he had charm, because he lied, because he had no morals, because the liberal media bronzed his baby shoes and tacked his fingerpainting on the wall for an adoring American public to collectively "awww" over . . . .

    These are all just excuses for why your candidate didn't get in. Often there's even some truth to them, but they're still excuses; and by their condescending nature, they necessarily insult the very people you're trying to excuse. Which this election, I dunno if you noticed, is only HALF THE COUNTRY.

    I'm not saying 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong, because God knows 50 million Britney Spears fans could be, and were. Obviously people can suffer an attack of mass stupidity. There's no lack of evidence for that.

    But you do live in a country where--despite Karl Rove, Rupert Murdoch, Ralph Reed, and whoever else is on the shit list this week--most people have access to hundreds of information sources; the literacy rate is quite good; education, however poorly provided to some, is still free for all--you don't live in a country where it's likely that half the population suddenly came down with the stupids. Or rather: It is more likely that half the population heard the message and either could not (due to fundamental disagreements) or would not (due to poor message delivery) be convinced by it. That is far more likely than that half the population was brainwashed by "the language of sin, evil, and American providence." See also: the principle of parsimony.

    The primary attribute of the left that I honestly don't get is this idea that the left is synonymous with progress and that progress is always good. The "enemies of progress" you can then split into two camps; they're either misguided or malicious, with the latter driving on the former.

    Progress is not always good; I know people who are making good progress at ruining their livers. I'm making terrific progress in my quest to die owing money to absolutely everybody on the planet. Despite the existence of the word "regress" in English, in common usage we describe every day the progression of bad things. No one wants to hear that his cancer is "progressive."

    If you tell me you're for a progressive future, I'm naturally going to want to know what that future looks like. And if one of your progressive ideas happens to be one I don't want in my future, yet you're not willing to do without it, well, then, I'm going to have to agree to disagree with you, and au revoir, have a nice day.

    That does not mean I am stupid, bigoted, fundamentalist, or reactionary. It means we do not agree about the value, nature, direction, and shape of progress.


    That's all really. It's just a wish list. I wish I'd never hear about feminazis on the right again, never hear about fundamentalists on the left again. Not because I want us to all sit around singing folk songs about peace and love, but because the last four years have been exhausting. I'm exhausted, is all, and I hope the next four aren't so wearing.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:50 PM | Comments (12)

    In Which I Pretty Much Lose My Shit Entirely

    John Edwards tonight: "We've waited four years for this. We can wait one more night."

    Oh GO to HELL you lawyer son of a BITCH. You guys are really going to do this all over again, aren't you?--And then whoever wins, whatever the outcome, at least I'm guaranteed four more years of hearing about how it's the Republican leadership that is dividing this nation and polarizing its people.

    You do realize that Bush would have to lose nearly all the provisional ballots outstanding in Ohio for you schmucks to get your victory, don't you? But wait: Maybe we don't have to count the actual votes. Maybe we can divine the voter intent with our fucking Magic 8 balls. ALL. OVER. AGAIN. BECAUSE IT WAS SO MAGICALLY, WONDERFULLY GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY THE FIRST TIME.

    I can't believe this. I can't believe I had moments of wanting to vote for this guy. And because someone's going to suggest it, because there always has to be that one: I'd be mortified if Bush were doing this. I'd be enraged and disgusted and ready to fuck off to a lonely island somewhere, even more than I am now.

    It's NOT the winning. It's how you play the game.

    UPDATE 11/03/2004: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Senators Kerry and Edwards. You are both made of the right stuff.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:46 AM | Comments (4)

    Too Early to Gloat

    Also, frankly, it just isn't nice. Tempting, yes. But not nice. Also, I don't need some damn nutjob yelling at me that I jinxed anything. Dude, if I had that kind of power, I wouldn't be using it to sway election results. Trust me.

    But I do want to say this: When will we all learn that the myth of the youth vote is just that--a myth? When you play Get Out the Vote, for pete's sake, don't play it with the 18-24 demographic. I was flaky at that age; you were probably flaky at that age; everyone is flaky at that age except maybe the College Republicans, and they weren't exactly the target here, now were they? The nature of being 18 is such that you're inherently unreliable.

    I'm sorry if you're 18 and you're prompt, diligent, and attentive to duty--which I imagine applies to most young people in the military, actually--but the problem is, for every one of you there are 10 other dudes who can't find the car, can't find the roach clip, can't find their favorite t-shirt, can't find their own asses without first carefully considering the design flaws of pants and finally, tentatively concluding that no, probably those don't actually go over your head and your shoulders so hey, maybe the part they were designed to cover was . . . was . . . wait, dude, wait--what was the question again? Aw dude. I so had it there for a minute, but you interrupted.

    I couldn't count on 18 year-old pals to pick me up from work when they'd promised to, but it was fine because they couldn't count on my sorry ass for anything either. Don't count on the youth vote; it maketh not the good sense. You can dress up voting however you like, you can rock it and rap it and do whatever else you want to try to make voting Sexy! And Hip! And Cool! And Whatever New Words Are You Whippersnappers Like to Toss Around These Days!, but it still involves activities like filling out forms and standing in lines and being around the real grownups, the ones with jobs that don't come with nametags, and that spelled B-U-M-M-E-R back in my day, and I refuse to believe it's changed much since, because I am just that old and that crotchety.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:26 AM | Comments (3)

    November 02, 2004

    No Salad 'Til You Finish Your French Fries

    Maybe it's true everything gives you cancer . . . in any case, fruits and vegetables don't prevent it.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

    I Think I Would Have Liked This Guy

    I'm sorry he's gone. Maybe I'll be able to check out one of his films. That ought to pay the boyfriend back for renting Fahrenheit 911.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:46 PM | Comments (1)

    If You've Ever Been Unemployed

    . . . but you have some money now, please consider helping Jim Peacock out a little. He's a good person and he deserves it.

    Jim, if I had it you'd have it. I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of paying the utility company the $300+ I owe them, or paying the rent, and not quite having enough to do either. But you fine people, my beloved half-dozen readers?--Go help the man out. Do it for the karma points.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)

    Que Sera, Sera

    On this election day, vote your conscience. That's all anyone can reasonably expect you to do. But do vote. And try not to start a riot if your candidate doesn't come out on top, okay? The rioting, it's just so '90s.

    There have been a couple bloggers who have asked that their right-leaning readers agree to support a Kerry presidency if that's what we end up with; to be polite and gracious in the face of defeat, to respect at least the office if not the man, to take the high road, etc., etc.

    I never pledge to these things because to my mind, that behavior gets filed under, "DUH." Of course you respect the office of the president, even if you're not fond of the guy holding it at the time. I have a relative who once said of Bush, "He's not my president," so I know it does happen that people can hold grudges and be, well, petty about these things . . . but that ain't how we do 'round here and I hope it isn't how you do, either.

    I will ask this: Once this election deal's all sorted out--and pray God it doesn't take as long as the last time--can we all agree that clothing the fruit of your loins in political t-shirts is reprehensible? Is that your beloved offspring you're holding there, ma'am, or a carbon-based bumper sticker receptacle? Did you have a boy, a girl, or a Volvo?

    What is wrong with you people? Did you run out of room in the front yard for signage? You wear the t-shirt, but leave the wee one out of it. That is to vomit. We have ways to personalize and politicize absolutely everything in this country, but that wasn't enough for you crack whore trainees; no, you had to sloganeer using another human being, one you obviously consider mere chattel.

    Well, when that child hits 13 or 14 and begins the long, torturous process of hating the very air you breathe, and when that child rebels by taking out a subscription to National Review and attending Bible study, you, the parent who bought that t-shirt, will have deserved it like no one has ever deserved anything before in the entire history of humankind. And I hope little Mykynzie and little Dakota join the NRA, too, and eat stem cells for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and before anyone gets wiseass with me, yes of course I would hate this just as much if they were pro-Bush t-shirts because it's just the principle of the thing, okay? Have we no principles anymore?

    Thank you. Now have a nice day, damnit.

    UPDATE: I'm not the only one saying leave the kids out of politics; Mean Mr. Mustard has a story about some foolish parents from the other side of the aisle, and see?--I told you I would hate the politicization of children no matter which side was up to it, and I wasn't kidding. Every state puzzle piece the poor kid throws out for the crime of going for Kerry, those parents should have to eat.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:39 PM | Comments (2)


    Did I not tell you all Jim Treacher was that good?--Indeed I did. There were others before me to spread the word, of course; but I did tell you. You can't say now that you didn't know.

    Well, except whoever's calling himself MartiniPundit. That guy didn't know and still doesn't know. In fact, I got two questions for that guy:

    (1) Do you feel no shame at all that years before your excursion into the heart of the internet, there was already a guy calling himself VodkaPundit and using a martini glass as his logo?

    (2) Are you stoned? Or just stupid?

    Now who's going to buy me a digital camera so I can participate in this? Oh, right; no PayPal button. And if I had one, it'd be in existence solely so y'all could help me pay the rent. Also, I figure you'd expect me to update more regularly. And then there's the bit where I figure if my boyfriend's banned me from sending money to Treacher, he'd certainly ban me sending photos. So. Nevvvvv-er mind.

    But all the rest of you hotties out there?--Do your patriotic duty and send the man a pic. Your nation calls you!

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:56 AM | Comments (3)

    Shorter Guardian Interview with Tom Wolfe

    "How can such a charming author and man of the world consider voting for the ChimpHitlerShrubCokeheadWarCriminal?"

    Brits: They're never so cute as when they're being earnestly, sincerely dumb.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:00 AM | Comments (2)