March 26, 2005

The News Annoys Me, Part I Don't Even Know

It was the drugs! No, it was the films! That's what made the poor kid murder nine people--the films! No, wait, the drugs! No, neither--it was the blogs! The blogs and the chat! It was the internet!

Here's a thought: Maybe it was the crazy. Pardon the lack of a technical term, but I'm hardly qualified to diagnose Jeff Weise beyond that.

Can we just for once admit we don't know everything there is to know, not even a tiny fraction of what we need to know, about the crazy? We're as bad as people in the Middle Ages were about the plague. Maybe someday the crazy will also turn out to be caused by something as simple as bacteria; I kind of doubt that, but I'm not ruling it out.

My point is, we're only a tiny step up from sending for the parish priest to perform an exorcism; we still have largely no idea how to fix this level of crazy, the "pardon me I have to go shoot my grandad now" sort of crazy. We have counselors and psychiatrists and psychologists and evaluation teams and social workers and medications and treatment plans and rehabilitation centers--but even with all that, every so often the crazy wins one. And it's always tragic when it does, but scapegoating Prozac, bad films, and chat rooms doesn't get us any closer to fixing the crazy.

The older I get, the more I think Vonnegut had it right in Breakfast of Champions--these tragedies arise from just the right combination of bad ideas and bad chemicals. What I don't think Vonnegut did say (but it's been years since I've read that one, so be nice if I'm wrong) was that the two are related by a variant of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: The more precisely you identify the bad ideas, the less you know about the bad chemicals, and vice versa.

Oh, how I wish the journalistas could be cured of their lust for "the angle." Just write the sad truth: We have no idea why Weise did this and no idea how to prevent anyone else from doing this. Or does that not sell papers or something?

Posted by Ilyka at 12:37 PM | Comments (5)

March 25, 2005

The Fourth Biggest Problem in This Country

I don't know, actually, but apparently it isn't Ralph Nader after all, so rule that one out. Hey, and really sorry there, Green Party people, if I ever said mean things about your homeboy in the past.

Unless I said them while drunk. Everyone makes fun of Nader when drunk.

(Via fellow refugee Ith.)

Posted by Ilyka at 06:44 AM | Comments (2)

The Third Biggest Problem in This Country

Water. Let's get rid of it and revert to our natural state:

Next is the "blood sweats" phase, involving "a progressive mummification of the initially living body." The tongue swells to such proportions that it squeezes past the jaws. The eyelids crack and the eyeballs begin to weep tears of blood. The throat is so swollen that breathing becomes difficult, creating an incongruous yet terrifying sense of drowning.
(Via Andrea.)

Oh, but it's different, because now we have nebulizers and Chapstick and diazepam. Yay, medicine.

I'm tired of this; tired, tired, tired. Tired in bones and soul, tired of being aware that such tiredness is a small thing compared to whatever it is that Schiavo may or may not be experiencing, about which she may or may not be aware.

I'm tired of the pretzel logic. In fact, let's be honest: I'm growing to despise most of my fellow human beings, more than I do usually, even.

I'm tired of this go-round: "Would you let a dog die this way?" "Oh, no." "Would you let a relative die this way?" "Oh, yes. In fact, I have." "Was your relative a plump, reasonably healthy 41 year-old at the time?" "Oh, no, grandma was in her 90s and suffered from hypertension, CHF, and diabetes. And she'd just had a massive stroke." "I'm sorry to hear that." "Thanks." "Well, listen--would you want to die this way?" "Oh, no." "Would you want a criminal to die this way?" "Oh, no." "Then--" "Oh, but it's different in this case, because the courts have found repeatedly that Terri would have wanted to die this way, or at least she would not have wanted to live as she has been, so same difference really, and anyway federalism is super important, and we have to trust the rule of law on this and quit interfering in a private family matter--"

STOP. Just stop. How do you listen to yourself and not hear duckspeak? Quack, quack, quack. Not to wallow in melodrama, but it's to the point I'm ready to die now. Put me out of my misery. I assure you it's what I want, and that's more assurance than you, I, or anyone is getting from Terri.

Posted by Ilyka at 03:40 AM

March 24, 2005

The Second-Biggest Problem in This Country

After magnets? Christian conservatives. Definitely.

(Judith, again. Look, if you haven't figured out by now that you should be reading Kesher Talk regularly, I just don't know what we're going to do with you. Maybe deprive you of the ability to swallow and then pull your feeding tube? Hey, don't get upset! They say it's perfectly painless once they shove a couple Aleve up your ass.)

Posted by Ilyka at 05:36 PM | Comments (9)

Without (Much) Commentary

Nice one, MIT.

Someone remind me of this the next time I catch some boob complaining about "those stupid magnets" that just "advertise Rethuglican hypocrisy" and "don't really mean anything" and may even actually be "fucking evil."

Yes, that's what's wrong with this country. Magnets.

(Via Baldilocks.)

Posted by Ilyka at 04:47 PM | Comments (11)


The word of the day is compromise. This nation was founded on it, blah blah blah . . . compromise!

Schiavo acknowledges that some might find the test to be excessive. "Hey, I know it's a lot of food. It's still a lot cheaper than an MRI. If I can't finish it all, I'll box up the rest to take it home for my girlfriend."
Posted by Ilyka at 04:10 PM | Comments (6)

Track Ones

Songs I like in the springtime:

The Girl Stands Up To Me Now - Jonathan Richman

Nothing Was Exchanged - Jules Shear

Precious - The Pretenders

(Links suffer from accelerated decay. Right-click, save-as to preserve.)

Posted by Ilyka at 10:35 AM

March 23, 2005

Because I'm Busy and I Can't Think of Anything Original Right Now

And because this blog exists at least partly to amuse and provoke my brother, and I'm pretty sure this is a topic about which he has strong opinions:

Best rock-and-roll songwriters ever: Nominate them.

(Note to all those people in the comments who keep nominating that beaky guy from The Who: It's "Townshend" with an "h." Don't know why that one gets under my skin, but it absolutely does . . . maybe because he is one of my favorite songwriters, and therefore I think it's worthwhile to spell his name right. And not that the guy ever wrote much, beyond maybe bathroom graffiti and letters to Oui, but in case it ever comes up?--It's "Daltrey" with an "e." If it looks like "paltry," you've spelled it wrong. It's worth spelling his name right because no one in rock will ever equal that scream and, also, because he's one in a long list of Diminutive British Singers Ilyka Spent Her Youth Wishing She Were Old Enough to Bang, Being Too Dumb to Realize That Her Being Only 14 Would Probably Have Been A-OK With Them, The Filthy Rotten Pigs.

Thanks, just getting that obsessive little monkey off my back.)

Tangentially related: My brother and I used to have this conversation about whether really great songwriters were ever good-looking--if you even could be a really great songwriter if you were really good-looking; was it even possible? And then I don't think we ever came up with a good example of someone who was both handsome and a really great songwriter. Debate that here, if you like. Or don't. Knowing you people, I'm betting you pick "don't." Lazy pricks.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:54 PM | Comments (17)

Obviously the Mormon Upbringing Has Worn Off Some

Look: I'm not proud of this.

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 137 proof, with specific scores in beer (40) , wine (133), and liquor (121).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 71% on proof
You scored higher than 88% on beer index
You scored higher than 97% on wine index
You scored higher than 99% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

(Seen at Dizzy Girl's.)

Posted by Ilyka at 06:35 AM | Comments (3)

Pain Delivered Via Your Own Stupidity Does Not Hurt Any Less

If anything, it may hurt more: In addition to the physical sensation, there is the added sting of knowing you have just been incredibly dumb.

I do mean "sting," and I do mean "incredibly," and I definitely mean "dumb."

Dumb as in, you only wash your hands once after mincing a habanero pepper.

And then not as thoroughly as you should have.

And then before using the restroom.


Posted by Ilyka at 04:12 AM | Comments (7)

March 22, 2005

"Something May Be Very Wrong"

So says the doctor at CodeBlueBlog, based on his reading of one cut of a 1996 CT scan used to demonstrate Terri Schiavo's "fluid-filled" cerebral cortex:

First of all, the University of Miami's appellation for this scan is inaccurate. "Cortical regions" are not and can not be filled with spinal fluid. The sulci (spaces between cortical ribbons) are enlarged secondary to cortical atrophy and these sulci are filled with cerbrospinal fluid.

The most alarming thing about this image, however, is that there certainly is cortex left. Granted, it is severely thinned, especially for Terri's age, but I would be nonplussed if you told me that this was a 75 year old female who was somewhat senile but fully functional, and I defy a radiologist anywhere to contest that.

But you know, screw it; let's starve her anyway, the dumb bitch. Let's do it . . . for feminism. Honestly, now, doesn't feminism demand that we take the word of Terri's devoted husband over the words of her foolish, sentimental parents? Doesn't feminism tell us to treat women as the property of their husbands upon marriage? Doesn't true feminism ask us to ignore any data that might indicate abuse by that husband? Doesn't it teach us to write up a list of "myths" about Terri's condition that could have been authored by the husband himself? Of course it does. My goodness, if you can't see that I guess you're just a Bible-thumping reactionary enemy of progress or something. And I bet Betty Friedan hates you.

Anyway, my point is, it's just dumb to have any concern whatsoever regarding this woman's fate, and sure, this CodeBlue's a doctor but did you notice he is also A MAN?!? We don't listen to such creatures, my sisters. Except Michael Schiavo, we love him. But worrying whether he's about to succeed in offing his wife, well, if you're so despicable as to do that, it only proves you're one of those people who prays to Jesus for the pasta to come out al dente, the socks to come out of the dryer in pairs, the canned peaches not to be dented . . . you right-wing nutjob ZEALOT.

Oh!--but I have fantastic news: Super-hunky liberal feminist Kim du Toit totally supports us in our quest to keep the God-botherers out of Michael Schiavo's private family matters. I know! How did we ever get so lucky as to get him? You know the Clint Eastwood quote about meeting the same folks coming 'round from the left when you reach the extremes on the right? This is just like that, only in a cool way.

(CodeBlueBlog link via Kesher Talk.)

Posted by Ilyka at 03:53 PM | Comments (6)

March 21, 2005

Failing the Litmus

I think I've got to thank Judith Weiss for saving my sanity this morning with a beautiful collection of opinions, plus her own two cents, regarding Terri Schiavo. Were it not for this:

It looks like your position on the Schiavo case is also a litmus test on how you feel about government regulation of when life begins and ends.

But some of us ornery folk who make up our own minds about things don't like litmus tests. We didn't like the antiwar movement telling us that the Iraq war couldn't possibly be just if it was initiated by a Republican. We don't like social conservatives telling us that they are going to block any pro-choice candidate from being considered for the Republican presidential race.

--I, too, would need a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head*.

I've just got to get this off my chest right now: One bit of idiocy that needs to die is the ranting and raving about what an abuse of government power it is that Congress got involved**. Let's at least be clear about why Congress got involved: It's because people have been bothering the living daylights out of them. It's called representative government. The obvious complaint about representative government is that it cannot possibly represent every view, all the time.

It's great if you don't like what Congress is doing now--but then, please, call and email and fax your representatives telling them exactly that. Get off your ass and participate. Don't just whine that the Bush administration is Trampling Democracy to Promote Its Not-So-Seekrit Right-to-Life Theocracy, as though the federal government were a naughty pet that slipped its leash to go leave poop circles all over the living room carpet***. You've got a representational government; now REPRESENT.

One more peeve: Quit tying this to abortion. Please. I'm begging you. I am both pro-choice and anti-tube-pull in this case. Have the courtesy to grant that one might hold both views simultaneously without resorting to doublethink.

And keep away from me with these idiotic litmus tests. All of you.


*It is strangely soothing, actually.

**That said, I do think it's fair to debate whether this is one more nail in the coffin of federalism. You can get a little more of this argument in the comments here, if you're interested.

***Now I think of it, though, that's as good a metaphor for government as any.

Posted by Ilyka at 04:00 PM | Comments (8)

March 20, 2005


On my break from work. It's Saturday night; the ERs are stuffed to the gills with work, but what's my employer routing my way?

Discharge summaries.

I bloody hate discharge summaries. Boringest things ever. And I hate cardiology notes. And admission histories and physicals. And preoperative reports. And, well, anything non-ER, basically. Acute care can suck it as far as I'm concerned.

It's not just discharge summaries, either. It's discharge summaries dictated by all the bright, young, hopeful residents and interns and . . . subinterns? I swear I just had a report dictated by someone who announced himself as that. Didn't know they even had those.

The boyfriend wanted to know what's next: Discharge summaries by candy stripers?


Posted by Ilyka at 03:45 AM | Comments (2)

Seriously, I Want to Know

What the hell is it with Florida?

(Via TFS Magnum, who has more.)

Posted by Ilyka at 12:59 AM | Comments (3)

March 19, 2005

Everyone Hates Sitemeter

And Technorati. And The System That Shall Be Neither Named nor Linked Here. Yes, yes, but sometimes it pays to check one or the other of them anyway, just to see who's linking you.

I have no idea why this writer is linking me, for example, but I also do not care because I am in love:

Yes, if there’s one field that has evolved beyond recognition in the past quarter-century, it’s introductory calculus. Why, back when I was a tot, the area of a rectangle was length plus width, the derivative of sin x was 5, and we only had whole numbers, so whenever we needed to compute the area of a circle we had to use pi=3, AND YOU NEVER HEARD US COMPLAIN.
You want more? I want more. Let's have more!
According to one of my precalculus students, a girl apparently unacquainted with the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy, I “derive pleasure from seeing [my] students fail.” This, I am told, is a consequence of my gross narcissism, which leads me to show off in front of the class and on tests by demonstrating what a mathematical genius I am, instead of giving tests that everyone (even the students who don’t always come to class or do their homework) can do.
I think the author's a woman, but I'm not sure--anyway stuff this good could be written by a hermaphrodite for all I care. It's hysterical. Now go enjoy Tall, Dark, and Mysterious. It's lovely.
Posted by Ilyka at 12:18 AM | Comments (5)

March 18, 2005

Of the People, By the People, For the People

Oh, my aching ass and breaking heart:

"I have had no cogent reason why the (congressional) committee should intervene," Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer told attorneys in a conference call, adding that last-minute action by Congress does not invalidate years of court rulings.
I'll give you a cogent reason, Judge Greer: Because a case like this becomes something you dickless wonders like to call "precedent." Because the members of Congress are there to function as our elected representatives, and because they've apparently been hearing enough from their constituents to acknowledge that maybe this precedent isn't one the people would like to see set.

Beyond that, all I'm going to say is that you right-to-die advocates should see some of the things I wind up typing in my line of work. You should take a gander and realize how quickly that "right to die" can be invoked by someone besides yourself, whether you've signed a DNR or not. You fall into an altered level of consciousness, and the doctors obviously won't be asking YOU what your wishes are; they'll be asking whoever's financially responsible in the event you're incapacitated. And unless someone's available to stand up for you and say otherwise, they'll take the word of whoever's financially responsible nine times out of ten. Don't be surprised when that word is, "Oh, no, Darla would never want to live this way," or "Kevin always made me promise I wouldn't let him become a vegetable." You think you actually have to sign shit in order for that to happen? You don't. Don't kid yourself.

So let's get something out of the way right now: In the event of a tragedy, Ilyka wants to live. Ilyka doesn't care if she's smelly and embarrassing and covered in drool, ILYKA WANTS TO LIVE. How do you know I'm not looking forward to every scheduled feeding down the G-tube? You don't. SO JUST ASSUME I FIND IT MAGICALLY DELICIOUS. ILYKA WANTS TO LIVE.

And if I can lay my hands on something legal and binding that says exactly that, I'm going to sign the hell out of it today.

(Linked article via Drudge. Inspiration to finally get off my ass and say something about this--now that it's apparently too late, 'cause I'm a moron that way--via Andrea Harris.)

ALL ANDREA, ALL THE TIME UPDATE: I remembered this old post of hers chiefly for the title and accompanying image, but a faint memory that the post had expressed a sentiment I wanted to share here was tickling the back of my mind when I wrote this. I was right--my memory's bad, sure, but it still comes through every now and then:

I think that all this brouhaha reveals that fear of 'tards is alive and well in the twenty-first century. "Ew gross, a 'tard! Kill it!" seems to be an almost atavistic reaction to the sight of a mental defective or the thought of becoming one.

Something in our culture just drains the humanity out of people; how else to explain the fact that starving someone to death is considered to be kinder than just giving them an overdose of morphine, or putting a bullet in their heads. The real reason this method is preferred, of course, is that everyone can pretend that Terri Schiavo isn't being deliberately killed; they are simply "letting nature take its course." Nature -- that we have spent the last ten thousand years or so trying to thwart. Now we let it win one?

Everyone wants to specify the core issue on this case: Some say it's about honoring Terri's wishes, some say it's about honoring Michael Schiavo's rights as her lawful husband, some say it's about whether she's in a persistent vegetative state or not . . . and I don't care, frankly, what the answers are to most of these frequently-asked questions regarding Terri Schiavo.

I care that starvation is about as near to "cruel and unusual punishment" as one can get, and if we're not going to use it on death row inmates, we damn sure don't need to start using it on the merely persistently-vegetative. I can reasonably agree to disagree with someone who advocates dropping many milligrams of morphine into Terri's IV; I cannot agree that withdrawing a feeding tube constitutes a compassionate end to life. If that makes me a bleeding heart, great, I'm a bleeding heart. I knew that years ago.

THE DOCTOR IS IN UPDATE, 03/19/2005: I was wondering what the esteemed Dr. Alice thought of this case; well, wonder no more. She takes a much less dim view of withdrawing the feeding tube, and also notes that complications from prolonged immobility such as bed sores, muscle contractures and wasting, etc., are inevitable and not necessarily due to low quality of care. But before any of you who are as upset and, yes, emotional about this as I am are tempted to flame her, please do note that she's aware the circumstances of this case are not exactly usual*:

To clarify: I think the Terri Schiavo case has been mishandled. The way things are at this time I would not disconnect the feeding tube. However, if Ms. Schiavo had a PET scan and MRI which confirmed that she was in a persistent vegetative state, I would. The sad thing here is that everybody involved in the case is so busy staking out their personal battle grounds that no one is really paying attention to the patient (even though they say they are). Instead of lawmakers proposing dumbass bills for passage or subpoenaing Ms. Schiavo for testimony she can never give - my jaw dropped when I saw that, I couldn't believe someone was pulling that one - the husband and MD should have been legally compelled to get the test that would, you know, ANSWER THE QUESTION of what her clinical state actually is. But no one is interested in getting the test; the husband is afraid that it might show she isn't in PVS and the parents are afraid that it will.
I think that's a fair assessment, one partly supported by this NRO article by Reverend Robert Johansen:
The most obvious possible explanation for what would otherwise be inexplicable behavior is that Michael Schiavo, George Felos, and Judge Greer don’t want to admit any information that would upset the diagnosis they already have. Dr. Morin, when told that Michael had refused an MRI, and that Judge Greer had confirmed the decision, said: “He refused a non-invasive test? People trying to do the right thing want the best and most complete information available. We don't have that in Terri’s case.” Dr. Bell agreed with this assessment, saying, “It seems as though they’re fearful of any additional information.”
NRO link via Susan B. of LilacRose, who earlier today declared her frustration with "libertines of any stripe -- whether they call themselves libertarians, moderates, liberals, South Park conservatives or whatever." I sympathize, but, honey, don't give up on all of us yet. In-between all the cussing and the lewdness, some of us do try to do the right thing once in awhile.

*Please also note that she is something few others opining on this issue are: Board-certified in internal medicine. So show the respect.

Posted by Ilyka at 07:39 PM | Comments (13)

The Tin-Foil Hat Crowd

Admit it: You just rolled your eyes at that title. It's such a cliche. It's right up there with . . . eh, I'm too tired to think of another example. But I know, if you're critically thinking at all, that you occasionally wonder: "Does anyone actually do that? Wear tin foil on their heads. Wait: Wear aluminum foil on their heads, I mean. Hey, and why do we call it tin foil, when it's not even derived from tin anymore?"

You say "tin foil hat," and people respond, "Right, you mean the crazies. The conspiracy nuts. The black helicopter crowd." (Hey, there's another description suffering from overuse.)

But really: No one actually covers his body in aluminum foil to ward off the imaginary bad guys anymore, right? Right? Don't we have medication for this?

CHIEF COMPLAINT: Burning in head, chest, and extremities.

The patient is a 53 year-old male who presents to the emergency department complaining of a burning sensation in his scalp, face, anterior chest, and both upper and lower extremities, which he states is secondary to "being zapped by lasers from the aerial patrols." Patient states this occurs whenever he is outside. He has taken to seeking refuge in buildings, particularly on basement floors of same, and to wearing protective coverings made of aluminum foil on his person, under his clothes.

Yeah. THAT tin-foil hat crowd. And you thought people were just making that up to exaggerate.

Posted by Ilyka at 09:35 AM | Comments (6)

March 17, 2005


I don't think my limerick skills are up to this task, so I'll post my mediocrity here instead:

My grandmother mourned Bobby Sands,
And supported most Sinn Fein demands,
Well, I'm Irish too,
And I say "Fuck you,"
To murdering IRA bands.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, and a big virtual toast to the McCartney sisters.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:39 PM | Comments (7)

Me for the Nunnery

During a break in whatever NCAA game he's watching this afternoon, the boyfriend did a little channel-flipping.

That bastard left it on Oprah just long enough for me to hear Jim Carrey describe himself as being "good at sex."


Jim Carrey.


Jim Carrey.

These two concepts should never be put together. I'm mad enough they coexist in the same universe.

I swear I just felt my hymen grow back.

Posted by Ilyka at 10:32 PM | Comments (10)

Women, Work

Helen has a post up about the difficulties she's encountered working with women. It's all good stuff, naturally. One learns to expect that with Helen.

While I suspect this tale may have been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect:

I stormed into Sherie’s office. “Do you know what’s being said about me? Do you know what Debra is perpetrating? She’s telling everyone I have a sexually transmitted disease!”

Sherie looked at me, one hand deep in a economy size bag of Lay’s. “Well, as far as I’m concerned, you deserve it. You’re young, thin, pretty and smart. You had it coming.”

. . . I can't say I haven't had similar experiences. And at the risk of playing into all those Stereotypes Perpetuated by the Man, I have to say that, in general, this is how I've been able to work effectively with women:

  • When the office is virtually all-female. Throw one good-looking man into the room, though, and it's all over. "See how she just throws herself at him. Ugh. She is such a conniving little whore." "You know she wore that blouse on purpose. He can see everything." "Funny how Carla used to be happy in slacks, but now that she's working with him a lot it's nothing but miniskirts." And so on.

  • When I'm overweight and/or downplaying my looks. Being overweight, or at least concerned about one's weight and image, is a passport to female bonding in many offices. Only the most diplomatic and tactful of the thin may enter, and then usually by complaining that they just can't gain weight no matter what they do, and they're so tired of "not having any curves," etc. Being thin because you "have a high metabolism" or "inherited the skinny genes" is just barely acceptable. Throw one thin woman into the room who says, "Hey, I'm thin because I work out and watch what I eat," though, and it's all over. "It's like she thinks she's better than us." "Too bad all that working out doesn't make her any nicer." "Just wait 'til the kids come; then we'll see how thin little Miss Pilates is." And so on.

  • When I can't see the women I'm working with, and they can't see me. As a (sigh) home-based medical transcriptionist, I interact with women almost exclusively five days a week--via email. We are all largely a supportive, encouraging group, offering help and tips to each other when asked, gladly sharing in a little complaining now and then about various difficult physician dictators. We're mostly a happy bunch. Throw one woman into the (virtual) room who's a little too confident, a little too assertive, though, and it's all over. "She has 20 years' experience? With what, a chiropractor's office? I think I know more about cardiology than she does, thank you." "Well, I could have been a CMT myself, but even if I were, I wouldn't brag about it." "She's just so arrogant about everything." And so on.

    I want to stress that these are just my subjective observations.

    And I have no idea why it happens. And, guys? I probably don't want to hear your theories about why it happens--particularly not if it's another tired-ass recitation of The Influence of Evolution in Encouraging Women to Compete with Each Other to Land the Best Mate. Fool, please. I'm not ruling out that there's some influence from exactly those origins; I'm just saying it's not sufficient on its own to explain all the bitchiness.

    I even bought a book recently, Catfight, to see if I could get some clues about this. I haven't finished it yet. This is probably because about every fifth page I end up shrieking, "Oh bullshit!" and chucking it across the room. I'm bad that way when a book really pisses me off. If you want to take that as further proof of the existence of the Hysterical Female archetype, be my guest--but I really think it's just me. I'm a book-thrower. This is who I am and what I do.

    I'll tell you, too--in the end I don't really care why this happens. I care about managing my own behavior and learning not to be part of the problem so that, yes, I can be part of the solution. I know it sounds hokey, but I don't have any better ideas.

    What I do have are all the same catty instincts I often see come out when women get together. I do fight down a knee-jerk reaction to loathe perky, teeny, slender blonde women. I do fight down a knee-jerk reaction to loathe women who flirt openly in business environments. I do fight down a knee-jerk reaction to resent women in authority.

    But I think those instincts are worth fighting. In fact, I know they are. I've come a long way from being a teenage misogynist. I've come a long way from having conversations like this with my mother:

    "Haven't you any girl friends to talk to, Francie?"

    "No. I hate women."

    "That's not natural. It would do you good to talk things over with girls your own age."

    "Have you any women friends, Mama?"

    "No, I hate women," said Katie.

    And if anyone has any suggestions for further reading on this topic (something besides Catfight! Please! The boyfriend is tired of ducking!), I'd sure love to have 'em.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:31 PM | Comments (8)
  • This, That, The Other

    This is basically a post so the blog isn't an empty page. Meaning: Consider yourself warned. You're getting quantity, not quality.

  • I don't know why it works out this way, but so far, every time a grandparent of mine dies, my father and I end up driving a car back home. It's always a spur of the moment decision, and it's always on a tight schedule, and it always involves canceling a flight. The internet is great, no matter what anyone tells you, because this time we were able to reserve rooms in our destination city, as opposed to last time. Now, last time my father and I drove a car back to Dallas was 1995, when his dad died. We meant to stop in southern Pennsylvania, after leaving mid-state NY about 4:00 p.m., but it was autumn, and the rooms everywhere--from the dinkiest town to the biggest city--were full up. Reason given? "People come from everywhere to see the leaves." What leaves? The leaves on the trees. The fall colors. Yes, turns out there are people who will book a tour, a trip, a flight, a cruise, just to see what all y'all four-season-havin' folk take for granted: Leaves changing color. I KNOW. I couldn't believe it either. It was the same way through Virginia, with the added remark that for many of the colleges, it was parent visitation weekend. Great--so have the parents stay in the dorms. Wouldn't that learn 'em?

    So that trip 10 years ago, we didn't stop until 2:00 a.m., when we finally got a room in downtown Roanoke. I don't mean to pick on Virginia, but, Virginia?--Downtown Roanoke NEEDS WORK. My dad paid $200 a night, each, for two rooms that stank of mold. That is just un-American. Also, I stand firm in my belief that any town with more than one Waffle House is desperately crying for help. HELP ROANOKE, VIRGINIA, RECOVER ITS LOST DIGNITY. Please. Thank you.

  • This time, thanks to Expedia, we had rooms reserved in a La Quinta (Spanish for "Next to Denny's!" I will so kill anyone who leaves that as a comment! I've heard that joke at least 30 times! I make it myself in weak moments! This one was next to a Harley Davidson dealership; what's the Spanish for that, I ask you?) in Pueblo, Colorado. Do you know how far Pueblo, Colorado is from Dallas, Texas? ABOUT 14 HOURS IF YOU KEEP TO A TIGHT SCHEDULE. THAT'S HOW FAR. Also, you never eat any place outside a truck stop or a drive-thru, and you pee on a timer. Also, my hatred for Oklahoma endures.* And also, my father and I nearly killed each other towards the end of it, except it seemed like such an in-bad-taste thing to do right after a funeral. You know, so tacky. Though, I do want to see this close up sometime. Shame I drove through it AT 1:30 IN THE MORNING.

  • My best friend from high school sent me a photo collection, or rather, a link to a photo collection he'd posted online. Twenty years worth of photographs, 1984-2004. I do not appear in a single one of them, nor is there a single photo from his first trip out of these United States. That would be the trip he took to London. That would be the trip he took with me. The Ozarks are represented. Los Angeles is represented. New York is represented. Washington, D.C. is represented. London, however, we seem to have suffered amnesia about. I shared a bed with this guy, damnit. He was the first guy to report to me that I snored. Granted, he was and remains divinely gay, but still, does he not know how much I treasure having been warned ahead of time that I snore? Have the memories evaporated entirely? Seriously, now. Does anyone know the etiquette for this sort of situation? Because otherwise, I am tempted to remind him that high school was a long time ago, and that he is beginning--nay, continuing--to give me a real pain in the ass. Thanks for the 84 photographs! Thanks for purging me from all of them! Now fuck off! By the way, in that photo of you with Belinda Carlisle in Detroit?--She looks so uncomfortable.

  • You never get the whole enchilada. I considered writing about this today, but chores called. All I can offer is two quotes. I'll leave it to you to decide if they mean anything:

    I am going to open a new restaurant and call it, "Your Place."

    And the menu will just be a blank piece of paper that says, "Order Whatever The Hell You Want" across the top.


    The Food Whore


    As far as the mass of the people go, the extraordinary swings of opinion which occur nowadays, the emotions which can be turned on and off like a tap, are the result of newspaper and radio hypnosis. In the intelligentsia I should say they result rather from money and mere physical safety. At a given moment they may be "pro-war" or "anti-war," but in either case they have no realistic picture of war in their minds. When they enthused over the Spanish war they knew, of course, that people were being killed and that to be killed is unpleasant, but they did feel that for a soldier in the Spanish Republican army the experience of war was somehow not degrading. Somehow the latrines stank less, discipline was less irksome. . . . We have become too civilised to grasp the obvious. For the truth is very simple. To survive you often have to fight, and to fight you have to dirty yourself. War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil.

    George Orwell, "Looking Back on the Spanish War."

    The two quotes are unrelated because I get told two unrelated things whenever I categorize myself as in the middle politically: First, I get told that I want to be able to special order everything, to have a leader who guarantees I shall have it my way--"because that is what people do, anyway." Well, no. I am adult enough to grasp the necessity and usefulness of compromise. Also? I can read a menu, and I recognize that you do not substitute shrimp for chicken and pay the same price.

    The second thing I get told is that by disagreeing with the Republican party, the party I supported in both 2000 and 2004, I am somehow wobbly. I am not to be counted on. I am not trustworthy. I am creeping towards anti-Americanism; I am selling my country short; at worst, I am lowering the morale of our soldiers. Well, again, no. And again, I am adult enough to grasp the necessity and usefulness of compromise. But really, that doesn't mean I won't occasionally complain about it. (If you think webloggers do much beyond complain about things, well, you probably read Powerline and believe every word--in which case, goodbye and good riddance.)

  • I owe thank-yous to everyone who sent condolence emails. This list would include, but not be limited to, Rob, Meryl, Liv, Margi, Jim, Ith, Roxanne, Michele, Hubris, and others to whom I'll write a proper thank-you tomorrow (as well as all linked above. No, really, I will do this.) I read every note. Thank you.

    *Because I know someone will mention it: "Wait, you mean you took I-40 from Amarillo to Oklahoma City instead of taking 287 from Amarillo to D/FW?" Yes. Yes, that is exactly what I mean. And do you know why? Because I drove from Albuquerque to Dallas once, and on the advice of more than one--what's the word I want here? JACKASS, yes--I tried taking 287. And I am here to witness before you that 287 is a deep, dark, Satanic lie. The 287 is a way for all the two-bit towns from Amarillo to Dallas--and have you seen how many of those there are? Because it's a goodly number--to make some spare change by dropping the speed limit first to 50, then to 35, then to 15. That is not a typographical error. 15. School zones in Dallas are 20 miles per hour, but that ain't good enough for the towns off 287; they need slower. They need 15 miles per hour. That's 15. FIFTEEN. I gave up counting the towns along 287 that did this after I got into double digits. FIFTEEN. MILES PER HOUR. Ilyka does a lot of different speeds willingly, but 15 miles per hour is not one of them.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:59 AM | Comments (10)
  • March 08, 2005

    Closed II

    My grandfather died.

    Maybe I will talk about it later. Likely I will not.

    UPDATE 03/09/2005: Okay, I leave on a plane tomorrow for the services.

    This was my grandfather. It's probably in poor taste to brag on one's relatives, particularly after they've passed on, but let me crib from it a little anyway:

    He served in the U.S. Army for three years during World War II seeing action in North Africa and Italy. In 1939, he started in banking as the Custodian, later serving as President of the Bank of American Fork and retired as the Vice Chairman of the Board in 2004. He served on the American Fork City Council, two terms as Mayor of American Fork, and two terms as a State Legislator. He served as Director, Vice President, and President of the American Fork Rotary Club. Served for 14 years on the American Fork Hospital Board including a term as Chairman.
    He was the sort of man they don't much make anymore (which might partially explain why I spend a good deal of time on this blog picking on the menfolk, come to think of it). He did everything for everybody.

    You know what it doesn't say in the obituary?--He built his own house. I don't mean he hired some contractor and ran around town boasting about his "custom-built home" like all the yuppie folk do nowadays; I mean he designed and built the whole thing himself, from basement to rooftop. He worked three jobs at one point to save the money. Meanwhile his family were living in another house next door and I could be wrong about this, but I want to say he built that one too. See, this is the stuff I'd know better if I'd kept in touch more THE WAY GRANDCHILDREN ARE SUPPOSED TO. I didn't even know he'd served in the state legislature. I'm pathetic.

    Anyway, he was an amazing guy. I'll miss him a lot.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:48 AM

    March 04, 2005


    Was feeling a little down this morning, but then I found this scenes-from-Office-Space/Superfriends hybrid thing, and now I'm better. Some.

    I always thought the Green Lantern was kind of a dick anyway.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:37 PM | Comments (2)

    March 03, 2005

    Orthodoxy Left and Right

    So I had an email from my brother last night with a link to an essay he'd posted at an online forum (no, you don't get that link--he's not your brother, now, is he?), about . . . ah, whoever that moron was who proposed we extend decency standards to cable and satellite and but-I-pay-for-that-smut channels.

    Wait; it's actually a couple of morons proposing this. I'll just crib from the news link he used:

    "We need to get the Senate to take that up and pass that," Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, said in an interview on Fox News cable channel. "Then we can work on this issue of should we apply the same rules to cable and satellite."

    Barton and his counterpart, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said on Tuesday they wanted to apply decency standards on cable television and satellite-delivered television and radio.

    Barton added a caveat that he would support it as long as free speech constitutional issues could be worked out.

    Who doesn't love that last part?--"As long as free speech constitutional issues could be worked out." Hahaha! Tell me again how conservatives favor a dead Constitution, Jonah, because it sounds to me as though Barton thinks he's found a pulse on that sucker.

    I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my brother and I, we like to have the arguments and the debates and stuff, so I told him that, funnily enough, every Bush-voter I'd read yesterday was heartily against this idea. A short list would have to include:

    James Lileks

    Ace of Spades

    Jeff Goldstein

    John Cole

    Stephen Green

    And whether they chose to write about it yesterday or not, there are others I know who voted for Bush but didn't vote for decency standards to be imposed on pay-only outlets. This woman, I'm betting, would not be in favor.

    I felt I had to tell my brother this because of what he'd written:

    This is what the Republican party is. There is no revolution of "South Park Republicans"; they are NOT evolving into Libertarians. The GOP is the party of No Fun, bent on creating an entire COUNTRY that is, finally, Safe For Children -- and boring for the rest of us.
    See, I hate this: You can have half a dozen well-read right-leaning bloggers going "hey, hands off the Skinemax!" but still . . . still, there's this idea that Republicans are either in perfect agreement with each other, or--well, as he said in his email to me:
    I'm mad at every Republican voter today, especially the ones that delude themselves the GOP's becoming more libertarian.
    So: Either hopeless orthodoxy, or hopeless delusion. Some choice I've got, huh?

    Here's my question, now: I know, and can demonstrate, that there are people who are moderates on the right. Maybe they're not even willing to identify themselves as Republicans--but when it came down to it, they voted for Bush in 2004. I know, then, that there are people who are leery of those they consider "too right," though "too socially conservative" may be a better choice of term here. Shoot, wasn't Judith Weiss saying as much with that post I linked yesterday on the new silent majority?

    What I do not know, but hope I have left-leaning readers who can answer for me, is whether there are those Democrats, or at least Kerry voters, who find some candidates and policies equally deplorable for being "too left." I see left-leaning bloggers take issue with Joe Lieberman for being a "toady," for being too rightward, but I don't see many accusations that so-and-so or such-and-such is too leftward. And before you jump on me for saying that, let me admit right now that this may be because I just haven't been looking in the right places. (Er, the left places?)

    So if you identify more with Democrats than Republicans, if you voted for Kerry last November, please tell me: What Democrats or Democrat policies do you disagree with on the grounds that they're too left, too immoderate? What do you say to those on the right who characterize you as being down with people and things you don't support?

    This must happen occasionally. Doesn't it?

    Start talkin', people. I want to know.

    UPDATE 03/08/2005: Comments closed. Do I have to write up a dorky "rules" page about the commenting?--Because I thought we were all clear that you can insult me all you like, but (a) do try to hold back when engaging other commenters, and (b) item (a) goes double when one of the other commenters is, oh, say, a relative of mine, and (c) didn't I point out both (a) and (b) in the comments here already? Why, yes. Yes, I did. That the behavior continued after I did so tells me that either someone has a reading comprehension problem, or simply can't be bothered to respect the wishes of the site owner. Just know that neither possibility speaks well of you, and have a nice day.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:30 PM | Comments (13)

    March 02, 2005


    It's hustle-up-the-rent time here at Ilyka Damen, so I got nothin' except for a handful of goodies snagged from elsewhere:

    First, via Absinthe & Cookies, it's Kathy of the Cake Eater Chronicles on that old double standard:

    . . . I'm going to play the part of the devil's advocate here and say that the reason most women do not want to partake in casual sex is because some just don't like how they feel about the whole business in the harsh, cold, raccoon-eyed, light of day.

    It's one thing to be Carrie Bradshaw at night. It's entirely another to be Carrie Bradshaw the morning after.

    Those last two sentences sum up some of my icky morning-after feelings oh, too well.

    I think this may be one of those things old Glenn Reynolds would link with the line "cats and dogs living together," or something: Trish Wilson and The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler discover common ground:

    What was amazing was that we agreed on something. The people over there discovered right-wing fathers' rights nutball Robert Lindsay Cheney, and they weren't impressed. I've known about Cheney for about ten years.

    This post, "I Don't Hate The Jews, I Hate Everyone," on Cheney's blog caught their attention. I see the guy is still a raving lunatic even ten years after I learned about him. I couldn't make heads nor tails of his ranting, which was always par for the course for him.

    (Note: Cheney's post is linked in Trish's; me, I prefer not to do so--but see, that's all the more reason why you should click to go read the whole thing.) The raving moonbats, they are the real uniters-not-dividers in this country, I swear--because most of us, most of the time, can agree on what "crazy" looks like.

    Finally, everything at Kesher Talk is good as usual, but I'll single out just a couple recent entries. First, a great post on who constitutes the new "silent majority":

    The New Silent Majority. Vodkapundit has another anecdote from a liberal hawk friend in the closet, and asks, "Could folks like us be the new Silent Majority?"

    Yes. Yes. And yes. I formed an entire social circle in NYC out of people who are hawkish neo-con liberals, who have to be in the closet around their lefty friends (which is 75% of Manhattan, especially in the arts and social services, like most of these people). We have a listserv, and go to events, and socialize together and everything. A lot of us met through campaigning for Bush. Others met through LGF comment threads. There are 50 people on this list.

    And this one that Judith kindly sent me a link to earlier in the week that features the lyrics to a Dar Williams song called "When I Was a Boy:"

    I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike,
    Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
    My neighbor come outside to say, "Get your shirt,"
    I said "No way, it's the last time, I'm not breaking any law."
    And now I'm in a clothing store,
    and the sign says less is more,
    More that's tight means more to see,
    more for them, not more for me.
    That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat
    I never felt I was a boy per se as a child, but you know something?--I totally did the topless thing. I got away with it twice: Once by wheedling a kindly uncle and the second time by irritating the living daylights out of my babysitter (it was Sacramento in the summertime, meaning 100 degrees and miserable out). The second time ended it; my brother, the babysitter and I were walking down the street when a neighbor gave me a look of horror that sent a current of shame coursing through me. I'd been all right with not having a shirt on--hey, I was seven only--up until then.

    So there you go. I think I'll go try the topless thing on the corner now and see if that doesn't help scare up the rent. What? Why are you people always looking at me like that?

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:00 PM | Comments (2)

    Heaven Help Us

    Yes, it's a March madness of a different sort: Estrogen Month. Go vote, if you are so inclined, for your favorite "gal-in waiting" from among the prospective female bloggers Elayne's selected to be included on her roll. The selection will update daily. Now that's commitment.

    (I happen to be on today's list, but I can say without false modesty that you'd be a fool to vote for me--you regular readers, you know how regularly I flake out of blogging entirely. The dependability, it is not my strong suit. Doesn't mean there aren't some great blogs featured, though--so happy voting!)

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:18 AM | Comments (2)

    March 01, 2005

    By Way of Illustration

    This is how not to make fun of one of right-wing blogging's sacred cows: Shriek repeatedly that they suck. Of course they suck. A group blog led by a middle-aged clench-cheeked WASP with anger management issues, who adopts a nom de pixel that reeks of repressed homoeroticism--that blog would need divine intervention not to suck. MFYA, I am 100% with you on the sucking, but I need a bit more than that. You've got to find some way to note the suck with a little more flair and a lot more funny.

    (You watch--whoever's running MFYA will turn out to be someone I "know" in some other blogging incarnation and they will just hate me for saying that. Though, actually, that's okay with me--just so long as they hate me in a way that's hysterical. I mean I want people literally falling out of chairs and rolling in the aisles and telling me I've been pwned. And seriously, I am hoping they'll hit their stride soon, because as a concept, this sort of blog was overdue.)

    This, now, is how you step up and bring it to the chronically uptight.

    Learn from the great ones, MFYA. May the force be with you.

    UPDATE: But what if you really do take issue with the juju berries? Well, then you calmly make your case (with footnotes), instead of blubbering about "the left's march through our institutions," as though Hollywood had been solidly Republican before last night.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:00 AM | Comments (3)