June 02, 2006

What's So Funny

The accusation from antifeminists that's easiest for me to shrug off is the accusation that I don't have a sense of humor. I doubt I have the best or the most discerning or the most-like-your-own sense of humor, but I obviously have one. It's such a nonstarter, that accusation. It's like, are you even trying? Or did you just press the big red button on your Automatic Feminist Basher and "humorless" is what it spit out first?

This came up in the comments to an old post that got linked by feminist parody site Feministing.org. Oh, wait, time out--


Why Feministing.org Doesn't Get a Link - Reasons That Do Not Apply:

  • I'm scared of them.
  • They outrage me.
  • My femynyst principles will not allow it.
  • Why Feministing.org Doesn't Get a Link - Reasons That Do Apply:

  • I'm afraid of adding to the vast number of links they've accrued already; I'm scared that my linking to them might BREAK TECHNORATI FOREVER.
  • It's just not very good at what it tries to do, and I demand quality in entertainment.
  • I know that the site is run by the guy who maintains the "Ameriskanks (Mostly) Suck" page, and I seriously think that guy has capital-p Problems. Quick quiz: Which quote is from The Nice Guy, and which quote is from aspiring cannibal Kevin Ray Underwood?
  • (1)

    But worst of all, she gave me the old "lets just stay friends" talk. I hate that thing. I've heard it so many times I know it by heart.

    I guess I'm just too nice, women all want to be friends with me. Even girls I don't like have told me what a nice guy I am, and, as if that wasn't bad enough, I've even been told that "I actually forget you're a guy, I don't even think of you as a guy, you're like one of the girls to me."


    Millions of men around the U.S. are nice guys like me. They make an effort to think of women as equals. They are attentive, faithful, kind and nurturing. While some people call us "nice guys", others (primarily women) call us "just friends," or even "wimps." We hear things like: "you are such an angel." "You are so sweet." "You are so understanding." "You say the nicest things." "You are so considerate." "I love the flowers." "You treat me better than all my old boyfriends." "We have so much in common." "I know I can rely on you when I want to whine to somebody about the guys I do sleep with." And that, friends, is when you fight the urge to hit her repeatedly upside the head with a broken bottle!

    I'm not saying poor-pitiful-me-ism causes cannibalism. I'm just asking whether we can really afford to take the chance that it might. Think, think of the children.


    Anyway, here's the thing: I don't mind misogyny in humor per se, but most misogynistic jokes are told by two kinds of people:

  • Misogynists who think they're funny.
  • Funny people who are sometimes misogynistic.
  • And obviously, for me, it makes all the difference which of those two is making the joke.

    If you're funny, you can tell any kind of joke. Nothing's off limits. That's kind of a point of this movie, isn't it? You can't be too offensive, if you're good enough. Someone who's really funny can be thoroughly, repulsively offensive because what comes across to the audience, even in the midst of offending, is a clear sense that this person does not HAVE to be offensive. They're not limited to mere offensiveness. They have more than one game going on. They're not being offensive because that's the extent of their ability (see: Clay, Andrew Dice), they're being offensive because they can be, because they feel like it, and let's face it, because sometimes it's FUN to be offensive.

    Yes, it is. Don't argue with me. Part of what makes certain jokes funny is the naughtiness of them, the sense that you're telling a truth that was supposed to be kept a secret. And the truth is sometimes offensive. Most children, for example, cannot draw worth a lick. We're not supposed to say that, because My God! They're Only Children! They're Just Learning to Express Themselves! How Can You Be So Cruel? How Can You Crush the Fragile Bloom of Their Budding Creative Expression Underfoot Like That?

    I don't know. I just know something about "Vrrroooooooooooommmmmm! F" makes me laugh. Because it's funny. That's how.

    We're also not supposed to equate the word "pussy" with "hopeless coward." That's really demeaning to women! It must stop. But we're making progress on that front, because no one I know, feminist or otherwise, ever laughs at this:

    Peter Gibbons: Lumbergh's gonna have me work on Saturday. I can tell already. I'm gonna end up doin' it, because, uh . . . because I'm a big pussy . . . which is why I work at Initech to begin with.

    Michael Bolton: Uh, yeah, well, I work at Initech and I don't consider myself a pussy, okay?

    Samir: Yes, I am also not a pussy.

    So that's why I'm just not much annoyed by Maddox: I don't get the sense that Maddox "means it," even if he did say some pretty stupid things in his interview about women, which he definitely did.

    But I'm more interested in other, tangential questions that interview brings up, like: We're seeing a small trend in books that tell dudes how to be manly; what's up with that? I kind of think that what has happened is, we've obsoleted the man-as-ultimate-provider ideal for guys anymore, and they're trying to find other ways to redefine themselves; which, great, but I'm sometimes leery of the ways they're choosing to do that.* I dunno about this "the manliest guy is the guy who guts fish with his teeth" business.

    That's what I wonder about the whole Maddox thing--if not his version of manliness, whose? Where's that gonna come from? It has to come from men, obviously. Pro-feminist men need to quit playing the More Feminist Than Thou card against each other and come up with something.

    And maybe it's just me, but it would probably go over better if it were funny.


    This is why, by the way, I stay right the hell out of feminist conversations that critique pro-feminist men. Which brings me to something else I've been wanting to vent:

    If you're a dude who's all proud of how you don't cloak yourself in the feminist label, not like those other poseurs, those guys who think they can be feminist but who really just don't have a clue, can you do me a favor? Consider. Consider that I NEED those guys you're so superior to. Not want. NEED.

    I don't care if they sometimes get shit wrong, I don't care if they sometimes forget themselves and start bossing women around, I don't care if they often step in it, I don't care if they brag about watching porn, I don't CARE. I am not exactly drowning in alternatives, did you notice?

    Right now, my chief alternative is guys like Harvey Mansfield, Tucker Max, and the Maddox readers who make the mistake of taking Maddox's shtick seriously:

    hey maddox, why shouldnt we be allowd to rape girls in the army? write about it

    So listen: When things are so golly-gee-good for women that I can afford to hold pro-feminist men to higher standards, because so many men are beating down the gates to overthrow the patriarchy, I will let you know. But I don't think we're there yet. I don't think we're remotely close. You can't even get all women to agree that feminism is beneficial right now. And you want me to smack down a guy who's up for it?

    Have you ever worked at a place where the boss hired two or three people solely to gain the luxury of terminating one? One who wasn't pulling his weight? That's where I think women are at with this. Once we bring aboard some new hires and get them set up, then . . . .

    I'll get all nitpicky about Who's Really a Troo Feminist when I can afford to get all nitpicky it. When I have nothing better to do with my time, that's when. That time ain't now. Or did I miss where it was you being interviewed for your surprisingly successful (and movingly pro-feminist) book?


    Posted by Ilyka at 12:18 PM | Comments (8)

    May 24, 2006


    Without much added commentary, Jeff at Shape of Days:

    Hear me now, Internet: I do not give a damn about government spending. I don’t give a damn about immigration. I don’t even give a damn about Iran at the moment. Right now, I can’t give a damn about any of those things. Because they’re just polishing the brass on the Titanic, man. They’re just fiddling while Rome burns all around us.

    We have to find a way out. We went down the wrong path after 9/11, and we’re still barreling down the wrong path at full speed.

    More later as I feel inclined to get into it--which I mostly don't, because it's just going to result in all kinds of aggro, huge chunks of which will be of the very exact same kind of aggro that helped drive my fat ass to this point in the first place. But, hey, we'll see.

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:22 PM

    May 22, 2006

    The Closest This Blog Will Get to a Jock Post

    Sweet, sweet conclusion to the series between the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs. I wish I could weep harder for San Antonio; they played beautifully and Tim Duncan is a total stud, I mean as a player and as a player. I love Tim Duncan.

    Still, I can't cry too much. I love Tim Duncan, but I love the Mavericks more.

    The funny thing about my watching the game is that for awhile I forgot that I don't live in Dallas anymore. If you go to a bar to watch a game in Dallas, then of course everyone's rooting for the Mavericks. If you go to a bar here to watch a game, though, pretty much the opposite applies. San Antonio fans were all around us, whooping it up. Thus my obsessive politeness kicked in whenever the Mavericks scored.

    Boyfriend: "Fuck YES!"

    Me: "SSSHHHHHH!"

    Boyfriend: "What?!? Didn't you see--"

    Me: "Yes, I saw. But hush! [lowers voice] We're in enemy territory."

    I was also reminded that my boyfriend and I have the same argument every time we watch the Mavericks: I say, they're a painful team to watch because they're too good at getting the big lead early, then blowing the big lead to smithereens and (like tonight) winding up in overtime to try to pull it out. My boyfriend says, okay, maybe, but they're better on defense than they used to be, and when they make the 3s, it's a beautiful thing. And then I say, they could hardly be worse on defense than they used to be, and I wish they'd rely less on the 3-pointers, actually--and then I get distracted by the unbearable fineness of Avery Johnson's suit and then I get all, why can't you dress like that?* Because that's the point of basketball, right? Shaming your boyfriend into dressing like Avery Johnson?

    Anyway, excellent game. I am praying they go up against the Clippers, because I retain a sentimental fondness for the Suns and a few shreds of affection for the hippy-dippy goofiness of Steve Nash, and I would rather not have my loyalties split. But it's okay! No matter what happens, there will still be well-dressed coaches to ogle! Thank you, NBA dress code! I am content.

    *Needless to say, this never happened when Nelson was coach. So this is a fairly recent addition to The Argument, though one I applaud with great fervor.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:42 PM | Comments (3)

    April 21, 2006


    So my Spanish class had its Colombian Night Wednesday. It was . . . interesting. Made me rethink some things. Here are some of my "rethink" moments:

  • While the event was still being set up, a film about Colombia played, narrated in Spanish. I was trying to follow along as best I could when one student's mother sitting near me stage-whispered to her daughter, "I feel so bad for that country. Those poor people." My professor, proudly wearing a Colombian soccer team shirt, was busy assembling decorations on the other side of the room and did not hear her.

  • The first presentation of the evening was done by one of the students using PowerPoint. Here is what I learned about Colombia, going strictly off his slides: Colombia achieved independence from Spain in 1810. Then, they started selling the rest of the world drugs. Then, Pablo Escobar rose to prominence as a drug lord. Then Escobar was killed. This was presented as an overview of Colombian history en total.

  • My professor was helped in setting up this event by another Spanish professor, a very charming and frankly pretty sexy gentleman who is a native of New Mexico, of Mexican-American descent. He leaned down and said to me, "You know, somehow I think there might be more to that country than las drogas." I smiled and told him I thought he might be right. My own professor wore a blank expression that could not really be described. Wait, yes it could: "Poker face." With a dash, only a dash, of disappointment.

  • One student's food offering for the night: A bag of Tostitos and salsa.

  • Another student's food offering: Fettucine Alfredo.

  • I made sobrebarrigas, in case you were wondering; I started with the recipe on this page (scroll down) and then tricked it up just a little bit, based on other variants I found online. I'm going to make it again, because it was fantástico and the ingredients are muy baratos, and we need more food like that in this house.

  • The student's mother who "felt so bad" for Colombia struck again, this time at the other professor, the frankly sexy gentleman from New Mexico. "So she's from Colombia," chirped Señora Pie en Boca, "but where are you from?" "From here," he replied, smiling. "I know, but where are you from?" The smile faded. "From here," more grimly. "Yes, but--" "MEXICO," the other professor said shortly. "Oh!" beamed la señora, but the other professor had already turned away from her.

    This was a simple "cultural activity" for a simple class of about 25 college students. It had been planned for nearly a month. It took place within 100 miles of the Mexican-American border. The participants were largely natives of this area. They grew up here, including the student's mother with a fondness for the sweet sweet taste of her own foot (of course I asked her; did you really think I wouldn't?).

    Never tell me what a dread specter of oppression "multiculturalism" is in this country again, or I will smack you in the face with a bag of authentic Colombian Tostitos.

    UPDATE: The boyfriend reminded me of one I'd forgot. I can't believe I forgot this; with any luck you'll understand why I can't believe I forgot it in a moment:

    A student we'll call "Tim," originally from Lauren's home state, stood up to give his presentation. This is his presentation in its entirety, verbatim:

    "I can't really cook anything, so I drew this picture. It's an Indian, and he's sportin' some coffee."

    So. Maybe I forgot that one because subconsciously, I kind of wanted to forget it?

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:56 PM | Comments (18)
  • April 13, 2006

    In Which a Lifetime Codependent Mourns the Missed

    Am I the only blogger who frets over missed searches?

    I don't mean fretting over search terms that have obviously missed. One I get all the time is, and I quote, "Lindsay Lohan nipple slip." I have one response to that:

    HEY! WRONG BLOG! You want The Superficial! Now fuck the fuck off!

    No, I mean the near misses. I mean those instances in which someone types in something that you recognize as being vaguely on a subject you once broached, but not exactly dealing with it.

    Am I the only one who wants to reach out over the internets and scream, "Wait! WAIT! I know I didn't deliver exactly what you you were Googling for, but actually, your original and very-clever search term has given me new ideas that I'm ready to discuss now?"

    Am I the only one who does this?

    I am?


    Posted by Ilyka at 02:51 AM | Comments (3)

    April 04, 2006

    In Which I Alienate Whatever Remains of My Conservative Readership

    . . . which I think is down to about two, maybe. Unless Ith has already read me this week; then it's one.

    Oh, well, what the hell. Listen:

    If I read one more self-righteous back-patting piece by one more pompous naturalized citizen of these United States, bragging about how THEY got into this country LEGALLY even though, yes, it was a hassle and yes, it cost them money, but by gum they saw it through and did things The Right Way blah-diddy-blah-blah-blah, I'm gonna puke.

    And then I'm gonna save up my money until I can afford to fly 'em down here, and then we're gonna take a little trip over to Juarez.

    I've never been myself, so it'll be an education for the both of us. But let me tell you, if you can look out the car window as we're zooming down I-10 and honestly tell me that if it were your misfortune to have been born there, you'd willingly stay there, and/or deal with the corrupt officials and the waiting lists and the money you don't have because you weren't born with a pot to piss in, and you'd dot all your i's and cross all your t's rather than just sneak across to feed your mama, your papa, your kids, your grandparents, YOURSELF . . . not only are you lying through your teeth, but I'm gonna have to throw you out the car for even trying to pull that one on me.

    The speed limit on I-10 going past Juarez is 60, but I'm not good with speed limits. I do about 70. Consider padded clothing.

    No way in hell am I awarding Good Citizen points to some joker immigrant, especially some joker immigrant from the British Isles or Western Europe, for coming here legally. Of COURSE you came here legally. You know why? Because you could, dumbass. Because it was possible where you came from. No corrupt official stole your application fee and then laughed at you when you tried to get it back. Nor did that application fee constitute the onliest money you had.

    I don't know what to do about the damn U.S./Mexican border, frankly. I haven't got a clue. All I'm trying to say is that people who were fortunate enough to be able to come to this country all legal-like ought to take a minute to consider why that was, and then take another minute to be grateful for it, and then take another minute to ask themselves whether their situations were really so exactly similar to the situations of the guys I see riding around in the backs of landscaping trucks every day.

    You know whose opinion I could listen to on the subject of immigration? The opinion of some guy who got here in a homemade raft. But you, the one who flew over on Lufthansa? You need to shut up and sit down, amigo.

    I'm not saying it's impossible to come here legally from Mexico. But it's damned difficult in a way you, I, and anyone else who hasn't lived it can't begin to imagine. And meanwhile, if you're impoverished and living in a Mexican border town, every day you're looking at the promised land. Every day. Tell me that wouldn't get to you. Tell me you wouldn't ever say to hell with it and just vote with your feet.

    You want to tell me you wouldn't ever even think of sneaking across that border, O Upright Naturalized Citizen?

    Let's find out.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:08 PM | Comments (17)

    March 16, 2006

    Throw Another Log on the Fire, Why Not

    Speaking of Beth, she asks, I think, a fair question:

    If “feminism” is about issues beyond abortion, what’s the point if you don’t care enough about them to involve (rather than demonize) people like me?

    Having thrown that out there, I imagine the answers will tend towards one of these two positions (note: I am blockquoting these to set them off, but they are paraphrases only):

    The issue of abortion is not "above" or "beyond" or even merely "a part of" feminism, but central to it; without acknowledgement of a woman's sole ownership of her body, women have no real equality.


    That feminists exclude pro-life women from their ranks only demonstrates how intellectually bankrupt and fraudulent feminism really is, or at least has been ever since it was hijacked by the left.

    I would hope that most opinions offered would lie somewhere in between, but this being the internet and all, I know I am not always going to get what I want. Well, we shall see.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:19 AM | Comments (8)

    March 08, 2006

    Apparently Today Is 'Blog Against Sexism' Day

    Yippee, and don't I kind of do that anyway, and isn't it sometimes a little tiresome? I think I'll just make do with a quote:

    You either think chauvinism is shit or you don't. We think it's shit.
    --Viv Albertine, guitarist for the horrendously bad punk group The Slits.
    Posted by Ilyka at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

    March 07, 2006

    What You Should Do If Asked to Feed the Hungry

    Make fun of the solicitation that came in the mail about it, of course. Because you're very hip, see, and ain't no cow so sacred that it can't be sacrified on the altar of Your Scathing Wit. It's so funny when old people hold up photos of themselves in younger days because really, who do they think they're kidding with that? We know they're elderly Jews first and human beings second, if at all.

    Besides, if they were really hungry they'd write the damn letter themselves instead of letting it be all mass-produced and fakey because, eww, that's so soulless and corporate, and like PETA, they totally never do that, nor does Greenpeace, nor the Sierra Club, nor John Kerry, nor . . . .

    Via a blog that's going right off the roll, this minute, because I am heartily sick of reading about its author's world tour to this place, that place, and the other, and how thrilled its author would be to meet a few of her readers there, provided they'll be in the swell location to which she is traveling, and also, it would be great if maybe that location's travel board paid all the expenses for her to get there? Because she's a working mom.

    Whatever. I do generally try to avoid generation-bashing, but I have to hand it to the people who came of age in the 90s: It took them to make the people who came of age in the 70s look wise and benevolent by comparison.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:30 PM | Comments (8)

    March 04, 2006

    Grand Gross-out

    The boyfriend picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for cheap somewhere a week or so ago. Now I spend all my free time sending a cartoon character voiced by Ray Liotta on random chainsaw massacres. For some reason this relaxes me.

    I am aware that this does not say good things about my character.

    Grand Theft Auto is one of those games I was always meaning to check out but never did. See, there's this game, Mafia, that's supposedly a kind of homage to GTA, and we've had Mafia for forever and have even, I'm a little embarrassed to say, replayed it on occasion. This should be like watching a horse race on video after you already know which horse won it, and yet it isn't. It's a fun little game. The Czech fellows who did it up did a terrific job.

    In Mafia, you're a little taxicab driver in the Prohibition era who gets inadvertently caught up in mob business, eventually joining the family and rising in power and influence within it until, oh no, you're stabbed in the back by another associate, and have to cooperate with the law to save your ass.

    Before that, though, you steal cars a lot, and anyone who says these games don't influence behavior in the slightest is lying, because after a few hours of playing it's impossible to walk through a shopping mall parking lot without thinking, "Ooh--that one! That car would be a good one to steal." Then you catch yourself and you go, "Wait, I don't really steal cars. That's just a game," and you feel like an idiot, and then you thank God or who- or whatever that you were born with the part of your brain that maintains a relationship with reality being in good health, fully functional, because what if you hadn't been? What if you'd been the sort whose brain just skips right over that "just a game" business? You'd probably be down at the mall stealing cars, is what would happen. And wouldn't you be surprised to learn, then, that when your getaway vehicle blows up while running from the cops in real life, you don't get an option to reload and start over.

    I don't like people who get all "slap a ratings system on it" about games, movies, music, etc. But I like even less the ones who protest that it's totally ridiculous even to think a game or a movie or a song could have any influence, because that position is both more ignorant and less honest. Listen, you can have your ultraviolent games and movies, but don't kid yourself that everyone processes them the way you do, you with your incredible maturity and intellect and reality-based existence. Some people, I don't know if you've noticed, aren't always with the rest of the group here on planet Earth, you know?

    But enough; I didn't mean to get into all that. What I wanted to say is that while a game becomes absorbing to me for many reasons, a big one is the extent to which it's able to take me on a little vacation from reality. I'm a huge escapist and a terrible day-dreamer. I'd much rather think about fictional worlds than this one, so it's the construction of these fictional worlds that interests me about gaming--and it's why I don't play a lot of shoot-this-monster, then-this-monster, then-this-OTHER-monster, dungeon-type games--because I don't want to go to those worlds. I mean, ewww, they're all dark and full of monsters; I call that my subconscious, and I don't need a joystick to go there. Yeah, I'm a little girly or whatever you want to call it about the dungeons.

    I sure do love stealing cars, though.

    So the weird thing about this Vice City game is that I think on some level I hate it. It's a convincing little world of its own, sure, but it's a convincing little world in which everyone is a total asshole. The character you play is an asshole. The characters he interacts with are all assholes. No one is remotely sympathetic or likeable. Maybe that's as it should be; it's a game about crime, after all. Maybe it's better crime not be glamorized. I'm sure it's more accurate, anyway. But it leaves me with a faintly creeped-out and depressed feeling after a couple hours of playing it. I keep getting better at driving fast cars and shooting machine guns and, oh yeah, chainsawing people, but it's hard to feel happy about this. There is no one to root for in this game and I loathe it for that.

    As for the misogyny in the game, that could be a whole 'nother post. Did you know if your character picks up a hooker and lets her entertain him, it boosts his health rating 25 points? But it also costs him money. So you know what you can do? Kill her and steal her money, of course, the rancid little slut. Needless to say I don't use this gambit, and in fairness to the game, you're not required to. You could play the whole thing and never pick up a hooker. Still, it bothers me.

    Oh, and to all those "more education will fix this problem" twits out there, a brief complaint: We have had decades now of STD-prevention education in this country, but unless you address the underlying belief some men retain that more sex = more virility = better health, you're just going to keep having problems, because the problem isn't that people don't know unsafe sex with multiple partners is risky behavior, it's that they deep-down don't believe unsafe sex with multiple partners is risky behavior. And that, my little army of Education Is Key soldiers, is where the religious moralists you so despise have the jump on you, believe it or not, because at least they know enough to define this as a belief/values problem, not a "Seriously, you really didn't know that chancre might indicate the presence of syphilis?" problem.

    Bleah. Anyway, that's what I've been doing with my spare time: Wasting it, in clear defiance of my stated goal of becoming a better person. Though, I have read a couple books also . . . novels, even. I'm trying to work up to being able to claim literacy in the English language without feeling like a liar and a fraud. More about those later if I get a chance, but tonight I'm taking a break from the computer and going out for a nice dinner. I bet you I count at least three cars I want to steal on the way.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:26 PM | Comments (6)

    February 24, 2006

    Two Sorry Pictures

    One of the ginormous diabetic cat for my brother's girlfriend (and because it's Friday):

    No time right now to correct his bad case of demon-eyes, so that one's as is.

    I wanted a good shot of the Organ Mountains today because when it's overcast here, they look black, and they're dead ringers for Mordor, honestly. But that shot needs to be taken earlier in the day--this one was done about 5:00 p.m.--and I've found you only really get the Mordor effect when it's not actually raining in the mountains, as it unfortunately was today. The contrast isn't what I'd like it to be on this shot. Well, no matter. Someday I'll do this one up right:

    Have a great weekend, everybody!

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:56 PM | Comments (2)

    February 19, 2006

    Stuck on Sexism

    It came up in a conversation I've been having that sometimes when people get invested in an issue they begin to see everything in terms of that issue. No news there, I know, but my point is, I felt a little guilty having this conversation because I'm beginning to get that way myself, and we weren't discussing me, we were discussing someone else. So much for let he who is without sin, etc.

    How do you tell whether you're merely stuck on a pet issue, or seeing more evidence that your issue's a problem? How do you tell whether you're paranoid, or they're really out to get you? These dividing lines you have to draw for yourself. I try to make sure my lines make sense, not just to me, but to anyone I have to point them out to; but realistically I can't make sure of any such thing. They're my boundaries, and thus subjective. I can't draw a line anywhere in the material world and say, "Here. This is the border," and then produce a copy of the treaty that proves it.

    In other words, maybe it's just me. On the off-chance that it isn't, and/or that there are other just-mes out there who will be relieved to have a little company, I keep obstinately mentioning it whenever I run across something I find sexist and stupid, even if being sexist and stupid was not the main point of the thing.

    By the way, wouldn't it be nice if "sexist" and "stupid" were nearly synonyms? Or rather, if we could agree that being one implies the other? I think we're mostly clear in this country that treating a person shabbily on the basis of his skin color is stupid, but how many card-carrying sexists have I read described as "intelligent" or "insightful" or "provocative?" Do you realize I live in a country in which John Derbyshire has a job as an opinionmonger? The man loathes just over half that country's population minus, maybe, his wife and daughter. He should be getting paid to bus tables, not to pen odes to the glory of teenaged titties. The part where he does this for an ostensibly family-friendly conservative opinion journal, we will omit as too obvious an irony to be worth mentioning at all.

    Oh, look: I've gone and distracted myself from a post about my pet issue with my pet issue. Maybe it's time I took a nice vacation somewhere. Maybe to Florida!

    Or maybe not:

    I took shelter at a friend's house deep in the Florida Keys. No rain. No chill. Turquoise waters. Long bridges and longer sunsets. A half an hour north from Key West. Fish sandwiches, large flocks of snowy egrets, Tiki bars specializing in Rumrunners with a dark rum float. Hammocks and sunshine. Powerboats and new yachts and boat drinks and running up on plane past Little Palm Island and out into the Gulf Stream with twin Cats putting out a perfect wake.

    In a word, "Paradise." Right?

    Yes. If you don't track in for the close-up.

    Because, as much as the boosters of Florida want you to believe it, Florida is no longer "ready for its close-up." Florida is still pretty from the air and also in the middle-distance. But a close up examination of Florida, in the Keys or elsewhere, is like a close-up of a once beautiful woman that time is beginning to dissolve into age lines, lank hair, and too many calories in too many visible places.

    Screeeeeeech! I am so tired of wearing out my mental brakes this way but I can't help it. O conservapundits: Why? Why do you go on being so obstinately, painfully stupid? Why do you never look in the mirror and observe what 30 or 40 or 50 years on this earth have done to your own appearances? The paunches, the fleeing hairlines, the JOWLS--why? Why reach for this tired, stale-bread simile about how The Most Tragic Thing in the World is A Woman Who Used to be Highly Fuckable but Alas, Now Isn't? Really, is that truly the saddest thing? The most haunting thing? Is this the best you can do?

    I have to conclude either that it is--because it keeps happening--or that I am obsessive--because I keep seeing it happen. You see what I mean? About the lines?

    Anyway, this is why I don't read much conservative politics anymore. That includes about the war. That includes about the crazy Muslims upset about the cartoons. Objectively, I think I should care about these things, because any group that will fly planes into buildings is somewhere way out beyond the point of caring whether they kill mostly men or mostly women; but listen, you try getting through an entire piece in which your demographic is demeaned and belittled so casually throughout that it's not even remarked upon anymore, except by a few obsessed crazies like myself, who are promptly told to quit framing everything in terms of that issue. Take a vacation! And knock it off with the group identity politics that are slowly poisoning our proud democratic beacon o' freedom.

    Here is why I'm so over the Group Identity Politics are Anti-Individual argument, by the way:

    1. Women and minorities did not self-select into groups. They were put there.

    2. By white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men, primarily.

    3. Who took great pains to specify what women and minorities were and were not permitted to do.

    4. In this, our great freedom-lovin' nation.

    5. Apparently groups are Good when people in power are permitted to sort others into them, apply all the labels, and make all the rules; but Bad when those so sorted, labeled, and governed catch on to the way the game is played and start remembering little ideas like, "strength in numbers."

    I do indeed respect the autonomy of the individual. On the other hand, I'm sure, going back to the very founding of the nation, there were individual women who thought they ought to have the vote. I'm sure there were many individual slaves who thought slavery sucked. I'm sure there many individual children who didn't enjoy factory work--but women's suffrage, slave emancipation, and the end of child labor were not achieved by an individual. Sometimes to get things done you do, unfortunately, need to work in groups. I say that as someone who hates group-work.

    And now let us talk of more pleasant things! Like that this is probably the only update I'll have for awhile, because in roughly three hours I will be Dealing with My Boyfriend's Parents, who'll be here for about a week. They are very very religious, my boyfriend's parents. You're all to swear to them that my boyfriend has been sleeping on the couch every night if they ask you, okay? Come on, it's the least you can do for me. Have I ever hit you up for Paypal donations? Do I post an Amazon wish list? Right, then. Help a sister out.

    (American Digest link via who else, Andrea Harris, whose reading comprehension is not obscured by abhorrence of sexist simile like mine is, i.e., she can keep her eye on the ball long enough to grasp the man's point, which I gather is that Florida sucks. Anyway, see her post; it's better than this one.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:43 AM | Comments (10)

    February 05, 2006

    Zero Population Growth: A Cause for Those Who Just Can't Bring Themselves to Say, 'I Hate People'

    A fun exercise for the next time you meet someone who raves about the Vital Importance of the world achieving zero population growth Immediately! As in Right Now, and Yesterday Would Have Been Better:

    Take that person's city and find its population density. I'm going to use Austin, Texas. It's a nice place, right? I've never been there, but everyone says it's lovely.

    I couldn't find a nice neat figure for Austin's population density, but I did find the 2004 population for Austin/San Marcos MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), otherwise known as the greater Austin area: 1,412,271. (See also here.)

    And the "basic facts" page of the city of Austin reports a land area of 271.8 square miles, so there are approximately 5196 persons per square mile in the greater Austin area. If you think that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that the population density of Hong Kong is about 16,517 persons per square mile (using the figure of 6380 persons per square kilometer and converting to miles)--most of them packed onto Hong Kong Island, where the density shoots up over 45,000 persons per square mile.

    Austin's 5196 persons per square mile may be a little crowded, but it's nothing compared to other parts of the world. In fact, it's pretty good: 5196 persons per square mile = 5196 persons per 640 acres, which means we'd each get 0.12 acres of land to call our own, or 5227 square feet each.

    So can we conclude that we'd all be pretty comfy at Austin's current population density? Okay then. Now take the world's 6.5 billion people and divide by 5196: To house all 6.5 billion of them at that density, we'll need a land area about 1,250,962 miles square.

    That's a lot of land? Not really:

    Alaska's land area is 570,374 square miles, plus:
    Texas, 261,914, plus
    California, 155,973, plus
    Montana, 145,556, plus
    New Mexico, 121,365, equals 1,255,182 square miles.

    We even have a little left over. Of course, Alaska isn't the most hospitable place on earth. Even I don't want my armed fortress built in Alaska. Let's try something more scenic. How 'bout we sub out Alaska's 570,374 square miles for parts of Europe?

    France's land area is 545,630 square kilometers, or 210,669 square miles. Spain's is 173,569 square miles, Italy's is 113,521 square miles, and Germany's is 134,835, giving us a total land area across the Atlantic of 632,594 square miles almost, but not quite, full of Austins. There, we're done. The world is now composed solely of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Texas, California, Montana, and New Mexico. That's going to be an interesting little United Nations.

    At this point your zero population growth advocate will likely shout, "Oh, come on! I'm not claiming the problem is land area; I am claiming we can't possibly continue to feed so many people! And what about energy and resources?"

    Well? What about them? You're telling me we can't cram France full of Austins and provide them all food, shelter, transportation, etc., when we've got the whole rest of the world to harness for it, minus a few lonely mountainous states that no one was really doing much with anyway? (Sorry, California. I'm not sorry, Texas.)

    Do I need to remind you that this country pays its farmers not to produce food? And how much fuel are we going to need if the most we're ever doing is taking road trips around the American West and maybe flying over to France to perform gourmet cheese raids occasionally? Hell, we wouldn't even need to heat our homes in the winter if we subbed out Northern California and Montana for warmer climes. We could put everyone there in Northern Mexico instead. Here's the CIA factbook page for Mexico--you work out the square-kilometers-to-square-miles conversion this time*. I've done enough here, I think. Just eyeballing it, though, I'd say we've got plenty of room down there. Plenty.

    People who advocate zero population growth aren't really thinking, and they don't really care that people are starving in parts of Africa or being washed away by floods in Indonesia. They don't advocate zero population growth out of a desire to fix these things, because if what they really wanted was to fix these things, they'd run the numbers like I just did and figure out that zero population growth isn't going to fix anything. What if the world's population increases? What if it doubles? Well, go on: Run the numbers with 13,000,000,000 instead 6,500,000,000. I'm betting we still don't fill the continental United States, even at the rather comfy density of 5196 persons per square mile.

    We have plenty of stuff. Some of have more stuff than we know what to do with. The problem is that not everyone has access to all this stuff. Some people--lots and lots of people, actually--live in countries where bad farming techniques destroy arable land, or in countries where crappy coal is strip-mined by the government for no discernible reason, or in countries where flood control is virtually unheard of, or in countries where the government thinks price fixing is the solution to every problem. No one's starving for lack of food and no one's freezing for lack of heat and no one's drowning for lack of dry land. People are starving and freezing and drowning because people, especially people in power, so spectactularly fuck up on making sure the food is grown and the energy's distributed and the levees are fortified--and note that in this sample Austinization plan, no one's living in New Orleans or Bangladesh anymore, now, are they? So to hell with the levees.

    What zero population growth advocates are really saying is, "I hate people, and I wish there were fewer of them." Well, join the club! I dislike people rather intensely myself. But I draw the line at telling them that not breeding with each other will fix a problem that it won't actually fix.

    NOTE: Why, yes, astute reader; in fact I did rip this Austinization exercise off from P.J. O'Rourke's All the Trouble in the World--specifically, the chapter titled "Overpopulation: Just Enough of Me, Way Too Much of You." How clever of you to notice!

    UPDATE: I had so many numbers wrong in this, it was MORTIFYING. Thanks to my excellent host Pixy Misa for noting the errors, which have now been corrected.

    *Especially as yours is way more likely to be done CORRECTLY.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:20 PM | Comments (12)

    January 30, 2006

    That Which Vexes

  • Playtex Products, Inc., your Super Plus tampons are worthless; almost as worthless as your "feminine care" website. It is like this with the web design, douchebags: At this time of the month, THAT MUCH PINK is a killin' offense in some parts. Please take steps to depinkify the site immediately, for your own safety.

    More importantly, now--your lousy product. I know how the design is supposed to work in theory: In theory, the dainty little wad o'cotton BLOOMS! Like a FLOWER! When brought into contact with liquid! And indeed, if all you do with this product is douse it in a glass of water, this is so, more or less:

    Fig. 1: The product before deployment, discreetly sheathed in baby blue, perhaps to soothe any men accidentally exposed to the dreadful sight of it.

    Fig. 2: The product in a most unnatural state: That of being removed from its protective sheath and yet, mysteriously, not ensconced within a human vagina.

    Fig. 3: Immersed in liquid, the product opens gently, like a flower! Or . . . something.

    Although the case could be made that it does not so much bloom as grow fat. My point, however, is that the product does not really bloom or enfatten so well in the specific circumstances for which the product was intended to be used. The flower, she fails to bloom; the peasant, she fails to burst the seams of her corset.

    To say more would be indelicate and oh, heavens, we certainly wouldn't want to be indelicate, even if what we're actually talking about here is a product designed, ostensibly, to stanch the flow of menstrual blood before it exits the vagina and stains the unmentionables a color that is DEFINITELY NOT PINK.

    I am convinced a man designed this tampon, poorly, and I hate him. May he someday be consigned to a hell in which the only sustenance available comes from Playtex tampons. Used ones.

    Never again will I forsake thee, Tampax.

  • All the &%#$, *@%^ customers at the Wal-mart who would not GET OUT OF MY WAY when the poorly designed product described above underwent total mission failure a mere 87 minutes after insertion. Listen up, lowercase g's of the Wal-martiverse: I nearly had to get out my Glock to clear a path through all y'all, did you know that? And that would have resulted in only slightly less blood in the store than was gleefully thwarting the absorbent properties of [above].

    Hey! When a woman starts bleeding like a stuck pig in public, you know what that is not the time for? That is not the time for you and your girlfriend to block the aisle while you debate which is the better deal, the Clairol Nice 'n Easy or the L'Oreal Excellence Creme. Move, Wal-mart bitches! Stuck pig comin' through! Your impending bad dye job can wait!

  • Oh, you know, this whole day in general I guess. I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY. Do you suppose I could be on the rag or something?
  • UPDATE: Also vexing: Another dumb study. Or rather, this would be vexing, if I could be bothered to give a fuck, but today, for some reason, I cannot. Huh, how 'bout that.

    FURTHER VEXING: Whoever added "top-s..." with, I kid you not, the ellipsis in there like that and everything, to the mu.nu communal Moveable Type Blacklist. Here, fellow Munuvian--take this simple test before you make your next Blacklist entry:

    I am a stone cold moron:

    (__) TRUE
    (__) FALSE

    Now score yourself. It's easy: One true, no more Blacklist for you. Crikey. I get really irritable when I can't comment at my own weblog, did you know that, morons?

    ALSO VEXALICIOUS: The dipshit physician's assistant who terminated the dictation by putting the phone on hold, in which state it remained for 57 minutes, making the total length of the sound file over 60 minutes long. Thank heavens I've got DSL or I'd still be downloading 57 minutes of holdy goodness. And I guess it was only almost, rather than entirely, uninteresting to learn that my hospital's hold program promises patients "a world of healing." Imagine it: A world of healing! The clouds are made of tube gauze! They float on gentle breezes against a Betadine-tinted sky!

    Really, just kill me.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:43 PM | Comments (19)

    January 29, 2006

    Sympathy for the Desk and Miscellaneous Peeve

    Andrea loathes her behemoth of a desk. I loathe my desk also:

    What you cannot see in the photo: That this desk is put together entirely with dowels and wood glue, is 100% pressboard, and weighs roughly 37 tons. In other words, it's neither easy to move nor to dismantle. I need a team of hulking woodsmen to come over and chop it for kindling. That's what I need.

    You also can't see the wood crate into which I piled most of the detritus that covered the desk up until 2 weeks ago, when I broke down and dusted this place.

    You can, however, see some of Moebius Stripper's awesome pottery to the right of the monitor, holding about 64 writing implements, 17 of which may actually write stuff when you need them to. (It is not that she deliberately fashions pre-chipped pottery, by the way--for the damaged lip of the pencil holder we can thank, I think, the U.S. Postal Service. Have you seen the way they just chuck things around?)

    Also, the boyfriend photographed the highly-reluctant-to-be-photographed Sally again. I think he may have been mucking with the camera settings, because it's a little fuzzy. The important thing is that the cat is still furious with him over it.

    And finally, an idle question for you: Do you get annoyed when someone makes the argument that because two things are "on a continuum" with each other, their differences are of so little import as to be easily dismissed entirely?* I can't be the only person annoyed by this, especially as the "on a continuum with" argument is basically non-mathese for "two points on the same line" and come on, nobody really understands what to do with those now, do they?

    What I mean is, "gentle spring showers" are on a continuum with "Hurricane Katrina." But would you ever say, "Light rain, Hurricane Katrina, what's the diff?" Of course you wouldn't. Yet I read a sentence just today by someone I respect enormously, and that sentence was, "Bush, Hamas, what's the diff?" (I can't link it because it's since been deleted--I would like to say "because its author realized the asininity of that sentence," but in fact I don't know the real reason for it.) Anyway, this is why every time I get close to telling the Republican Party to just go shtup itself with a fistful of born-again Christian tracts I, well, don't. Because there is no more room for me on the left than there is on the right.

    I can only take so much of this continuum business before I lose all patience. Listen to me: It is not enough that things be on a continuum with each other. What matters a bit more is the distance between them on that continuum. Otherwise you're stocking up on drinking water and cleaning out the freezer every time it looks like rain.

    UPDATE: The post I cited has returned. I'd particularly like to know what Meryl thinks of this:

    What’s creepy is that Hamas isn’t philosophically all that different from the Bush administration, in terms of both godbaggery and terrorosity. Godbags-in-chief manipulate their peasantry to accept oppression by rewarding unenlightened fundamentalism and punishing iconoclasm. Bush, Hamas, what’s the diff? Godbags are godbags. It’s only a matter of degree. The US oppresses and maims and kills more people in a day than Hamas has even dreamed of oppressing and maiming and killing.

    That aside, when I said I respect the weblog author enormously, I wasn't kidding; she's a terrific writer even if I don't get down with 100% of her opinions. So don't head over there and be nasty--not that I really think you would, but you know how it is: If I don't say anything, and someone does go leave a nasty comment there, with my site as the referrer, I'm just gonna feel all kinds of crummy about it.

    UPDATE II: Now the Israeli government has been placed on the continuum with Hamas. You know something? Whatthefuckever. This is a useful reminder to me (not that I ever really forget it): Just because someone knows something about some things doesn't mean they're competent to opine on everything. It's why you don't see much macroeconomics discussion on The Superficial, nor much fashion advice in the pages Scientific American.

    Anyway, you see why I usually stick to telling you dumb stories about my dumb days. I'm only trying to write what I know here.

    *Please note: There are times the continuum argument works, I think--most often when you are not using it to imply two issues require exactly the same amount of outrage to be leveled against them. I don't mind, for example, feminists noting that both the burqa and the bikini qualify as oppressive clothing, designed to confer second-class citizen status on their wearers, provided of course they keep in mind that no woman in a democracy is ever required to put on a bikini, whereas the burqa has not always been so optional.

    I am not always against noting that two things are on a continuum, but it is important to me that they be within, say, lunching distance of each other. If instead you have to drive several days to get from one thing to the other, if you're attempting to go from spring showers to Category 5 hurricanes in the blink of an eye, then, no, I'm not really a fan of the continuum. Sorry.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:06 PM | Comments (11)

    January 22, 2006

    A Numbers Game

    Something I read on another blog recently got me thinking. It was a post that declared--and this was hardly the first time I've heard this decree--that you can't be truly a feminist if you're pro-life.

    Calm your itching fingers a minute and let me just say that I think there's honestly some merit to that position. What you're asking when you ask whether abortion should be legal or not is, "who has the ultimate decision-making authority over whether a woman continues her pregnancy?" If it's legal, the answer is "the woman who's pregnant." If it's illegal, the answer is, "the state." If it's legal in some circumstances but not in others, the answer is still "the state." Yes, the fate of the fetus or unborn baby, if you prefer, is what you're arguing about, but the two sides in the argument are nonetheless the woman, and the state.

    So I can see how some people conclude that if you permit the state to override the property rights--the most basic, intrinsic property rights--of a woman, that's not feminism.

    That said, I still think decreeing pro-life women automatically unfeminist is a stupid, stupid position to take, because feminists simply don't have the numbers to make that one work.

    How many people are strongly anti-abortion in this country? I have no idea the exact percentage and by gum, it's my day of rest and I am not spending it looking them up. Let's just grab a number, though, and say it's one-fourth of American women. I don't think that's too unreasonable an estimate, but if you do, feel free to suggest another.

    Women are 52% of the population in the U.S. So:

    0.52 x 0.25 = 0.13

    0.52 - 0.13 = 0.39

    So we're down to not quite 40% of the U.S. population being on board with feminism. But wait! I know plenty of pro-choice women who are fairly adamant that they are not feminists. Because why? Because they have other objections to it--mostly pathetic objections based on the amazing strawfeminist, sure, but nonetheless, other objections. How many of these women are there? Again, I have no idea; but it's some number, some positive number, that you then subtract from that 39%, making an already small number, uh, smaller yet.

    Of course, not just women are feminists. We could add back in some staunchly pro-feminist men and make the quantity increase again . . . maybe. I'll be blunt: I haven't run into too many pro-feminist men. Oh, they're out there; but are they enough to counteract the pro-choice (but antifeminist) women we subtracted above?

    I don't know, honestly.

    I don't see the sense, though, of lopping off however-many women right out of the gate like that. That doesn't seem to me an effective strategy for correcting basic inequities in, say, wages, health care, and justice. Why start from a position of disadvantage? Or is it that the rights of devoutly-religious and other pro-life women don't matter? It seems to me that with some feminists, that's just what it is: "You made your bed in patriarchy, cupcake--now lie in it."

    I think that's a damn shame, myself . . . but I'd be interested to know what you think, even if you think I'm wrong.

    (Remember the rules, please. Thank you.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:07 PM | Comments (14)

    January 02, 2006

    Eighty-Sixed in 2006

    So, January. That time of year. People usually either do resolutions, or lists of things they don't want to see anymore in the new year. Which, if you think about it, are also resolutions--for other people to implement.

    "Naw, I don't really feel the need to change anything about myself. I'm pretty much perfect. How about you change some shit."

    People like to take stock when one year ends and another begins. This in turn inspires other people to get all pissy about that.

    "New Year's resolutions are so stupid! It's not like any of them will have been kept after February! If you really wanted to change you'd change right now, instead of waiting until January!" Blah, blah, blah, as though seeing someone do up a list of goals for the year had really hurt them.

    You know what people who say that are really saying? They're saying they're not capable of following through on their own goals and projects. The last person to stick out in my mind as a big complainer about resolutions never finished anything. Fifty-seven projects and nothing done.

    Mind you, I never finish anything myself. I just don't see any reason to begrudge others for trying to set goals. I don't care that they all pick the same time to do it, either. You'd only look goofy doing up a list of resolutions in August.

    Anyway, if you're not resolution-minded you may enjoy making resolutions for others instead. I know I do! Here are some things I want gone in the new year:

    "Do you want some cheese with that whine?" No. I don't. Stop it. I feel like I've been hearing that one for 60 years and I'm not even that old yet.

    "Hat tip: " I keep waiting for this one to go away, and it keeps not happening. I'm probably eventually going to have to fold on this one, but for right now I'm holding out for one more year.

    Custom ringtones: This is fake individuality at its finest right here. It reminds me of something Dave Foley once said: "I don't like fashion rebellion. It takes too much energy away from real rebellion." (I do have a link for that, but it's to this page that's like a horror, all black background with text in every color of the rainbow, and some of it's probably even blinking, but I didn't look that closely to say for sure. Don't make me send you there; just trust me that he said it.)

    I know you think it's really precious to make your cell phone play your favoritest song ever, but just wait until I have to give in and get one, because I'm setting it to play Andy Gibb songs and I'm never putting it on vibrate. You'll all be sorry then, won't you?

    The red-headed slut: Because it's just time. This is like every college kid's favorite shot now and have you noticed that college kids can seldom hold their liquor in public? I have. I'm tired of stepping into the restroom only to find the first two stalls covered in upchucked Jagermeister.

    Hippies: Another one I've been waiting for since, uh, birth. Perhaps if we could just eliminate the ones with a hard-on for Castro? Maybe if we try taking it in stages, we can finally do this thing.

    The we-don't-need-feminism-in-America, we-need-it-in-the-Middle-East argument: Congratulations, antifeminist cretins. You have forced me to go all Paul Anka on your asses:

    Let me ask you this: A pilot is in a plane, and he's landing. He not only looks at his instruments, but he looks at the fucking runway, to make sure it's there.

    Believe it or not, women can look at the instruments and the runway. Our eyes work almost as good as real people's. Don't pull this "writing about domestic issues means you don't care about international ones" shit. I'm talking mostly to that Muslihoon guy everyone's been giving blowjobs to lately, because he loves this one, but really anybody who trots this out is being dishonest, stupid, or both.

    Of course women in the Middle East have it worse, on average, than Western women do. No one's saying they don't. Do you like it when someone disrespects your pet domestic issues with "don't you know there's a war on?" Like somehow paying attention to one thing diminishes the other? OKAY, THEN. Quit playing retarded.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:11 AM | Comments (1)

    December 25, 2005

    Please All, Please None

    What is this?

    Do you get it? I don't get it. I first saw all those lovely pastel hues this morning while I was still half-awake and for a second, I panicked:

    "Shit, it's already Easter?"

    Please do not take this to be one of those tiresome "War on Christmas" posts. It is not. Not for one minute do I expect Google to do the logo up all red and green and jingle-bell-hell, complete with a disembodied Santa head forming one of the O's. That would be terrible.

    But you know what would have been nice?--If they'd woven in several holiday symbols. A menorah, a Kwanzaa . . . thing? Okay, I admit it: I'm ignorant on the symbols of Kwanzaa. But let's say Google isn't and they wanted to put that in there plus maybe also, if it's not too much trouble, a little something for Christmas. I guess they can just leave the teensy-tiny red and green package already included way down at the bottom right. Anything more might be oppressive.

    An enormous discussion about holiday diversity, for want of a better term, erupted in the comments here several weeks ago. I'll focus here on one point I made there: Christmas advocates--wait, let me explain that choice of term.

    I don't actually want to say "Christians" here because some of the worst offenders, some of the most "Christmas! In your FACE!" loudmouths, are more properly what I'd call "Christmas secularists." Because the holiday has no religious meaning to them, they assume it has no religious meaning to anyone else--but by gum, it's a moneymaker, isn't it? And who doesn't love lights and tinsel and parties and carols and . . . so we should make an enormous big deal over this Christmas thing, and drag the whole season out for two solid months.

    This dingbat below, who dumped a menorah from a mall's holiday display on the grounds that no religious symbols should be represented at the mall, yet kept the "holiday tree" on the grounds that it wasn't a religious symbol, is perfectly representative of what I'm talking about:

    "As for the tree, it's not religiously affiliated," Dunn said. "It's just holiday decor that's become part of the decor this time of year. Our focus is on Santa Claus, which has no religious affiliation."

    (Via Meryl.) Now, I could be here all day ticking off the ways in which that statement is stupid. But just quickly: "Santa"--that means what again? No one exactly refers to him as "Jolly old Rabbi Nick," do they?

    (By the way, the menorah was eventually put back. To which I hope your only reaction is, "GOOD." It ought never have been removed.)

    So I don't actually want to say "Christians," even though some Christians are implicated here as well, because some other Christians, including a few prominent ones, are appalled by what's happened to the holiday. It's become a monster. It's become so commercialized and secularized that there are people arguing in all seriousness that it's only a "holiday tree." And, again, it's just too omnipresent in this country and lasts way too long. Christians and Christmas secularists do not need to commandeer fully one-sixth of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

    Remember when it was only 12 days? Neither do I. It's been this two-month extravaganza ever since I can remember. Can't stuff the kid's room full of worthless crap if you don't start that shopping nice and early! If it weren't for that inconvenient pagan holiday, I honestly believe the stores would start decorating for Christmas some time after Labor Day.

    No wonder people get disgusted. No wonder there's some pushback to make this time of year more inclusive.

    On the other hand, whoever designed that logo has forgotten a teaching from Aesop's fables: Please all, and you will please none. For fear of saying the wrong thing, it says nothing at all, except perhaps that there's some winter holiday going on that is best symbolized by Easter egg colors. Which, last I looked, there isn't.

    Be inclusive, by all means--but don't become so neutral as to become meaningless.

    TANGENTIAL UPDATE: I have to get this off my chest, because it's been bugging me for some time now:

    If you're one of those people who rants endlessly about the ostensible war on Christianity, please do Christianity a favor, and shut your bossy piehole already.

    I know you think you're helping, but you're not helping. Please convert to Buddhism immediately; someone needs to keep an eye on Richard Gere. Thank you.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:58 AM | Comments (4)

    December 23, 2005

    Let Your Boone's So Shine

    ". . . do not be ashamed and hide it in a paper bag."

    Has to be read to be believed, and don't come crying to me if you laugh so hard you herniate yourself.

    Thank you, Hubris!

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:11 PM | Comments (3)

    December 10, 2005

    It's Around This Time of Year That I Actually Start to Miss You People

    And by "this time of year," I mean, "when I'm drunk." How 'bout that eggnog, huh? Give it up, everyone! Woot!

    But also, Christmas. I received this as an early Christmas present; what more could a girl want? Well, a video card that'd do it justice, for one. But there, let's not be nitpicky.

    I'd like to tell you all about the gameplay, but I can't. I can't because mostly what I do with this game is load 'er up and then stare at the main menu while the theme plays. The theme is (and you will right-click and choose "Save As," or Pixy will kill you) this.

    Nice stuff, no?

    Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukah! Peace on earth, good will to men.

    Want some eggnog?

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:18 AM | Comments (14)

    September 11, 2005

    And You'll Not Find a Better

    Sheila O'Malley's September 11 post.

    I like Sheila's writing because it isn't anything at all like I write and in fact it isn't anything at all like most webloggers write--at least, not that I've seen. Sheila will throw any damn detail in--like I was reading this and initially going, "Sheila, what does Catch-22 have to do with that day?"--but she makes it fit, she makes it work. And it has the effect of putting you right there with her.

    Somber and beautiful. If I had anything to compare to it I'd certainly post it, but I don't. So there you go.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:24 AM

    August 23, 2005

    I'm Nothing

    This, however, is something. This is the sort of woman I could work day and night to become more like without ever doing her justice.

    Just . . . daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmn.

    (Via Kesher Talk. Boy, she's not kidding with that "must-read" business!)

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 20, 2005

    Dr. Ruth I Ain't

    I'm going to regret posting this. It's about sex. That's not a topic I, ha ha, do normally.

    But tell me something: Why do people always judge a fellow's equipment by its appearance when it's not, uh, on active duty?

    I'm asking because Meryl helpfully provided a link to a picture of Jude Law's . . . you know (geez, why'd I get mad at Hubris when I thought he was calling me a prude? I am a prude! But also I do not want to be a search result for "so-and-so's wiener."). Of course, as the link is from The Superficial, one could summarize the post in which it appeared (you search it up, pervy) as "Ha, ha, Jude's willy sure is awful small."

    Maybe it's just my experience--and we're certainly not getting into the extent of that today--but what a dude looks like when he's at ease does not matter. I've seen some amazing . . . personal growth from some guys, guys you wouldn't expect it from if you only looked at the "before" shot and not the "after." Like, if the starting measurement was some number between 1 and 10 and the final measurement was also some number between 1 and 10, the start would be in the subset 1-3 and the end would be in the subset 7-. . . 9. I've never actually seen 10 except in, ah, cinema. If you've seen 10 in the flesh, for Pete's sake please keep that to yourself. Don't make the rest of us feel bad. That isn't nice.

    Also, little story: There was this guy I knew who--well, everyone knew what his package looked like, because he was fond of exposing it at any available opportunity. (Somehow I managed never to see it myself, but it wasn't for lack of trying.) Anyway, the guy really was an exhibitionist, so when people would start talking about his dick (which happened more often than you might think, actually) you could tell they knew what they were talking about because it would match all the other stories you'd heard about it. You know, it's like how if one witness says "The robber was about 6'2" with dirty-blond hair and glasses," that might be accurate--but if four other witnesses come forward and say the same thing, you've probably got a good description of the criminal.

    I don't really know how I just wound up comparing some guy's thang to a criminal. Sorry. Where were we?

    Oh, right. Well, reports from witnesses at the various scenes were that the guy was endowed . . . generously.

    Eventually this one girl ended up bedding this fellow, and then it went kinda bad later, and as women will do when things turn sour sometimes, she immediately went around providing everyone else with an erection report, which I'll just give you the abstract of here:

    "I mean, it grows maybe another inch is all--if that. I've had guys who start smaller who outsize him in bed. Seriously."

    Naturally this girl was very beloved after that by all the guys who'd ever had to pee at a urinal next to this guy, or had otherwise been exposed to his unit (I mentioned he was fond of exposing it, right?). I imagine the reaction went something like, what a relief! So it ultimately made no difference that this guy was so hung after all! Fantastic!

    So we've got my experience and some secondhand reporting from the field, so to speak. Any other ladies want to back me up on this?

    Hey, what are ya, a prude or somethin'? We're all adults here. We should totally be able to talk about a man's . . . you know . . . without embarrassment.

    ONE NERVE LEFT: AN UPDATE: What is wrong with people?

    I never said Jude was that small, yet every joker on the internet apparently thinks this is the place to discuss whether he is or he isn't and/or post links to pictures of it.

    So let me clarify: I'm not talking about Mr. Law. One might think that would be obvious from reading this post, but apparently there's an epidemic of dumb going around lately, and I'm not real super-pleased to notice some of you have come down with it. See a doctor or something! That shit can kill you!

    Now then. If you want to discuss that one famous guy's schlong, there're these websites devoted to that sort of thing. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE WEBSITES.

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

    August 19, 2005

    Revive Intolerance

    I'm jealous: That Absinthe & Cookies gal sure does get the strangest email solicitations--

    Basically a Married But Looking group, we do allow singles. If you can't keep from "preaching" to married but looking folks, please do not join.
    The hell . . . ?

    I'm sure a fine, high-minded case could be made for expanding our minds (past the point they'd continue to fit in our skulls) to revisit our traditional concept of marriage to include partners who are wholly, deeply committed to one another, yet also enjoy--

    No, screw that! Listen: THERE IS NO "MARRIED BUT LOOKING." That's just a cute little euphemism you came up with to keep from calling yourselves LYING, CHEATING WHORES AND BASTARDS.

    So obviously I can't join, right? Because no way could I keep from "preaching" to them. And we all know preaching is the very evilest thing you can do of all. It's way more eviler than preying on lonely singles when you've already got a partner at home.

    Damn me and my intolerance.

    UPDATE: I will call my counter-group RIMSHOT: Revive Intolerance of Married-Single Hookups (Obnoxious Twats). No . . . ?

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:08 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

    August 14, 2005


    I'm having this problem lately, where someone will write something I want to object to, but they'll write it on a so-called personal blog. where I know if I object to it, I'm just going to get a bunch of their fans whining "Oh my God, how could you? You are such a troll! Where do you get off criticizing Saint Personal Blogger, I mean do you have any idea what she's been through?"

    I've thought about this a lot and this is what I've decided:

    I don't mind if someone mixes the personal and the political. If you ask me that's normal. I don't equate the personal with the political, but I think expecting someone to choose one route or the other and stick to it is just dumb, and really says more about your expectations as a reader, and perhaps your inability to switch mental gears, than it does about the weblogger.

    But this is what I'm not down with: This thing where someone switches tacks into the political and the minute he or she encounters any disagreement at all, squeaks, "I'VE GOT TROLLS! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN? I THOUGHT WE HAD SUCH A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY!"

    And maybe you do have a supportive community with respect to the personal stuff. Good for you! Everyone likes a supportive community.

    But if you get into the analytical, I expect you to bring some, uh, analysis into it. That is, thinking. I'm going to laugh if your idea of expressing your political stance is sentence after sentence beginning "I just feel that . . . ." I just feel an acute pain in my posterior when you run amok just feeling everything instead of using the brain God gave you for half a minute, okay?

    I say all this because lately it seems every third site I visit is drowning in feelings, and I don't mind that so much as I mind the part where all this drowning in feelings is leading the writers to try to argue shit based on, yes, their feelings. Maybe it's just my view, but argument seems to be more effective when engaged in as dispassionately as possible. Or maybe that's not even what I mean--as I think I've mentioned numerous times before, Andrea Harris is one of my perennial favorites, yet I wouldn't say she writes dispassionately most of the time.

    I think what I mean is that strong feeling needs to infuse the thought, yes, but damnit, there must be thought. A lot of folks I'm reading lately seem to be skipping the "thought" part and just suffering emotional incontinence in HTML. Which is fine, if you're talking about personal, subjective stuff, but it just loses me when you cross into more conceptual material.

    And yeah I know I know "maybe you should read other weblogs." No kidding. I think everyone could stand to branch out more, but me especially.

    I don't know. Maybe it's the heat? Everyone hates the hell out of this time of year.

    YOU PEOPLE ARE EVEN WORSE THAN I AM: Let's just clear this up right now: It is not Helen. It is not Margi (I love that you blog about your pregnancy, Margi! Sheesh!). It is not Carol! It is none of y'all. I can't decide whether to sign you all up for confidence-building exercises or to berate myself because apparently, my reputation as something of a vicious bitch is so cemented that many of you fear I would actually dis a site I have linked.

    For future reference, everybody: If you're linked, you're cool, and I have nothing bad to say aboutcha. I read vastly more blogs than I actually provide links to and it's these other blogs, many of them very fine sites, don't get me wrong, that nonetheless sometimes give me dyspepsia.

    Again, it's not because I disagree with something I read. It's not the ideas, not the concepts--it's the delivery.

    And, it's this foolish, foolish notion that somehow a weblog is a "safe space" where everyone nods in agreement and supports you. A weblog is a lotta things, but it's not a safe space unless you make it one--which, incidentally, I am all for. If people want to lock down or password-protect their blogs, by gum that's their perfect right and hear hear, etc. If they want to implement a crush-all-dissent comments policy, go them--that's what Andrea's got and I love it.

    I believe site owners need to do whatever it takes to guard themselves. It's the only logical conclusion: Ultimately if you, the site owner, aren't happy, then what on earth was the point of your having a web site to begin with?

    I get irked, though, when people make public their varied opinions and then CRY when a few readers come along and go, "Wow, that's dumb." I'm not even talking anything that mean--I've seen blogs where if you even timidly suggest that there might be another way to look at something, it's up in flames you go. But don't cry when people call you dumb; ban the assholes! Insult them! Gang up on them! Make them wail for Mama! Send me over to them! Come on, you know I've got those anger management issues; I can always use another outlet for my rage.

    I don't care what you do, but do something besides . . . the crying thing. The putting on the victim hat, it annoys me. There are, of course, always extreme cases: If Carol had wanted to shed a tear or two in public about "Calli," I think we'd all have understood. Notice, however, that she didn't do anything of the kind. Carol's got more gumption than that.

    I think Jim Treacher was going off once on Jon Stewart's Crossfire appearance, about how while it sure was fun to see Stewart call Tucker Carlson a dick on the air (and it was, it was), on the other hand it was kind of dirty pool of Stewart to simultaneously (1) demand that his opinions be taken seriously because of the serious subject matter, yet (2) deny that his opinions could ever matter to anyone else or have any influence on public discourse whatsoever because gosh, he's just a comedian for crying out loud! "Clown nose on, clown nose off" I think Jim called it.

    That's sort of what I see some personal bloggers do. "Personal blog on, personal blog off" you could call it. When they're making their highly emotional cases, you're supposed to take it seriously because of the serious subject matter; but if you do treat it seriously and you happen to disagree with them, all of a sudden it's "Cor, why pick on me guv, I'm just an 'umble ol' personal blogger 'ere." As the Church Lady used to say, how convenient.

    Of course, that's just how I feel about all this stuff. Big deal, huh? Now repeat after me:

    I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!

    Especially me. I like you all bunches and bunches. So relax.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:11 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

    July 29, 2005

    I'm Whatever the Type Is That Forgets a Lot

    Was reminded of the Myers-Briggs tests by this, so I took a version for, what, the 46th time in my life? The 47th?

    I forget.

    Anyway, I'm only writing down what type it said because that way, the next time I fail to remember my Myers-Briggs designation, I can just look it up here.

    . . . if I remember, um, that I blogged it.

    (Oh gads. Have I done this before already? Now I'm too frightened to search it because, really, how embarrassing.)

    Partly I forget because I don't think these things have that much practical value. That's also why this part of my description cracked me up:

    ". . . most at home in the real world of solid objects that can be made and manipulated, and of real-life events that can be experienced in the here and now . . ."

    --and of course, internet personality tests are neither.

    Once I'd finished the damn thing I remembered that for the last 6 or 7 years I've come out this same way, ISTP--but I don't think I did always. Can you morph on these things a little? I think the first time I took one it came out INTP.

    If I remember correctly.

    Anyway, as I was asking the boyfriend in chat tonight, I'm not sure I buy it because supposedly this type is "the artisan," ooooh, and come on: What the hell do I craft? Lasagnas? Okay, I do make nice lasagnas, but it's not like an original recipe or anything. And I guess I do Civilization III maps and, uh, Sim houses.

    It's hardly the same as knitting you all cozy Argyle socks for winter, though, now is it?

    Do not even think of calling this site a "craft." Unless you mean like a seventh-grade, first-wood-shop-class kind of craft. In that case, yes. It is certainly craft-like, and mind the splinters.

    I think if this test is right I'm like the laziest possible version of ISTP ever.

    And the most forgetful.

    UPDATE (because my personality type is SUPER-IMPORTANT to you, the reader): This is a better description. The negative parts are all true, and I mean definitely and in spades:

    "equally difficult to understand in their need for personal space, which in turn has an impact on their relationships with others." Yes. You're occupying way too much of it.

    "they tend to become . . . inflexible . . . when someone seems to be threatening their lifestyle" Inflexible's a nice word. It beats "psychopathic."

    "communication also tends to be a key issue, since they generally express themselves non-verbally" I throw things a lot.

    "this can result in their being seen as thick-skinned or tasteless" Or as "stupid, self-loathing skank(s)," whatever.

    "they know they can get away with much smaller safety margins than other types" And if my time on the LBJ freeway is any indication, I certainly did.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:09 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

    July 28, 2005

    Verbs That Must Die

    "Infantilize." We used to say instead that we babied a person--but that just didn't sound educated enough. Now we infantilize someone.

    Stop it before I give you beatings about the head with a copy of this.

    Remember, kids: You don't sound smarter by esteeming the Latinate word over the English one. You just sound more pretentious--not that using a serial-killer-style byline for yourself wasn't doing that already.

    Don't nobody argue with me about this one, either--this constitutes my firm and final opinion. You may, however, suggest your own please-kill-'ems in the comments.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:24 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    July 19, 2005

    And Yes, She Knows There's a Log in Her Eye

    A neat, pithy response to that whole "you judged! You judged! Judger! I'm gonna tell Jesus you judged!" business always handed out so liberally (and nonjudgmentally!) to Christians:

    I want to remember that there is a hell, not so I can declare that people less holy than I am will go there, but because I want to make sure I don't go there myself. And in order to do that, I have to know the difference between Godly and ungodly behavior.
    Her observation about the difference between judgment and discernment is excellent.

    I have to remember to read Some Have Hats more often.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:05 AM | TrackBack

    July 05, 2005

    Love Letter

    July 4, 2005

    My darling--

    To answer your question: Yes, I did receive your last letter. It arrived at my residence Tuesday last.

    My delay in replying may, I fear, be taken as an indication that (notwithstanding your apology, which I do note in said letter) I remain deeply wounded by several remarks in your epistle prior.

    Beloved, know you not how my heart aches for you? How it leaps with joy at the very thought of you? How it trembles with fear at the thought of losing you?--Then why question my fealty, my devotion, my allegiance? Whence this distrust and uneasiness on your part?

    Indeed, have I ever in the course of our love--a course which has seldom run smooth, alas--given you reason to doubt my intentions? For perhaps what grieves me most is to see your beautiful eyes cloud over with wariness, fear, and doubt. My fairest angel! I cannot bear to see you in such distress and to sense--nay, to know--that you suspect me of causing it!

    Let us consider the very nature of love--its purest essence, as given voice in its most glorified expression. Is it not, in fact, akin to a prayer? For that is how my hours are spent in sweet torment, my love: praying. Praying fervently, desperately, unceasingly for you to change.

    What folly it is to equate Purest Love with unconditional adoration, my sweet! When a mere child, even a brute animal--when even an untrained puppy is capable of such crude emotion as mere acceptance--how then can it be of any value? It cannot be, my love; it cannot. I will not offer you such meager, worm-ridden fruit when my love drives me upward, to the highest boughs, in search of that exquisite reward: The most perfect You that can be envisioned by man or by God, on earth or in heaven.

    Heed me, dearest!--I note your faults only that you may work to eliminate them. I note your failures only that you may surpass them in victory. I note ever and always your deficiencies, that you may make up such shortcomings with the aid of the bounty of my love for you.

    You weep bitter tears when I say that you are grown fat, though it is but my love's dream to see you slender. You rail at me when I say that you must talk less and listen more, though it is but my love's dream to find you demure. You despair when I say that your hair has lost its luster, though it is but my love's dream to see it shine as of old.

    Do not be foolish and fickle, my love--though I fear that also is a shortcoming you too often exhibit (please work on that). Do not be swayed by the flatterers and the sycophants, nor by the deceivers who claim that their highest expression of love for you can be found at last in that ultimate sacrifice which is Death. Oh, how I shake with rage at their chicanery! For what good can a man be to you dead, my darling? Of what use, to what end?

    Who would tell you when you err, who would guide you out of folly, who would correct you--who would, eventually and after much labor, perfect you, were I to lay down my life? Can it fairly be said that there is anyone so enamored of you as to suffer your weaknesses and foibles hour upon hour, day upon day, night upon night?

    Nay, these scoundrels would have you believe that their unsophisticated, cowardly (yes, cowardly! For it is a coward who fears to speak the truth, even when it is unkind), dog-like acceptance of who you are now, versus who you can become under my (I fancy) skillful tutelage--these shallow fools would convince you that their crude embrace of you in your present shabby state, clung to even at the moment their pitiful lives reach ignoble ends . . . is love.

    That they claim theirs is a better love, a purer love, a more worthy love than my own infuriates me no end. Indeed often, too often, I am kept awake nights by it, though as you know. I do require my rest if I am to be most effective in curing you of your many wretched habits. Such is my life's work; know always that is my only dream, my highest endeavor. In fact, I wonder that you do not praise and admire my efforts oftener (please work on that).

    I am weary now, after this evening which I have regrettably been forced to spend--again--repairing the defects in your reasoning, an activity which, though exceedingly tiresome for me, I nonetheless revel in performing, for only thus can I say with truthfulness and joy overflowing my heart:

    I love you!

    Yours ever,


    P.S. In my haste to reassure you of my love, I had nearly forgotten to beseech you, please, to cease dressing in colors that do not suit your complexion. It is vexing to me that such beauty as you have should be clothed unflatteringly in colors that bring up the bile in those members of the public unfortunate enough to come upon you wearing them. Please work on that.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:41 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    Well, That Was Different

    I'd just finished getting dressed after a nice hot bath when there was a knock at the door. Odd. You wouldn't think people would be out soliciting on the Fourth, would you?

    I looked out the peephole and saw a smiling, sweating, elderly gentleman, wearing a yarmulke and some sort of black, robe-like garment over a round white collar. Over this ensemble hung a Star of David, handsomely crafted in silver and turquoise.

    It's true you can't be too careful with strangers, I thought to myself, but this fellow doesn't look like he'd give me any trouble. Poor man must be dying of thirst out in this heat under all that clothing. I'd better at least let him in and get him a glass of water.

    "Top o' the evening t'ye, lassie!" he fairly roared when I opened the door. "And a fine Fourth O' July to you and yours as well."

    "Come in," I urged, "you look like you're halfway to heat stroke."

    "Hotter than the devil's own hindquarters it is, aye," he agreed as he bumbled through the doorway. He lowered his voice as though to share a secret with me, and asked with a wink, "Ye wouldna be against sharin' a wee nip with a poor old man like meself, now, would ye, dearie?"

    "I've only got a few fingers of peach-flavored vodka in the freezer," I apologized. "I have a bottle of cabernet, too, but I'm afraid I can't get you a glass of that as I seem to have misplaced my corkscrew. Would you care for a vodka tonic, er--"

    "Begorrah!" he shouted. "What in Hades have I done wi' me manners? 'Tis that I was so anxious to escape the heat, you see, that I've clean forgot to give ye my card," he continued, presenting me with a sweat-dampened business card that read:

    Congregation Beth El Fatima
    "Ye Are the Light of the World"
    xxxs S. Church Street
    Las Cruces, NM 88xxx
    Tel. (xxx) xxx-xxxx

    "Blessed Rabbi . . . ." I murmured, confused.

    "Aye, lassie. Be a good child and fix us a drink, now, and we'll chat a spell."

    I tucked the card absentmindedly in my back pocket as I entered the kitchen, exiting shortly afterwards with two vodka tonics and presenting him with the weaker of the two (I thought I had smelled whiskey on his breath when he greeted me. That's all I need, I'd thought, a drunk Rabbi in my living room).

    After taking a sip--more accurately, a gulp--he sighed approvingly. "She's no Bushmill's," he noted a bit sadly, "but she'll do, aye, she'll do. A humble Rabbi like meself can't be complaining, now, can he?"

    "That's a beautiful Star of David," I complimented him, still a little thrown by his mixed-up attire, but wishing to be polite.

    "Indeed it is!" he cried, beaming. "Indeed it is. A fine work of art, crafted entirely by artisans of the Jicarilla Apache Nation." His pronunciation of Jicarilla was flawless. "Still mostly a heathen lot, you understand, but we're making great strides there. Aye, great strides."

    "Is yours a reform congregation, then, Fa--er, Rabbi?" I asked.

    "Reform congregation!" he bellowed, slamming down his glass with such force it made me wince. "Reform! Miss, I'd no more have aught to do wi' Reform Judaism than I'd have to do wi' the bloody Papists!"

    "Rabbi O'Shaughnessy," I scolded him, "I'll have you know that I was confirmed in the Catholic Church two years ago." Boy, was I starting to be glad I'd slipped an extra half-ounce into my vodka tonic.

    "Oh, there, lassie, I meant no offense," he said soothingly. "Tis only that I prefer a bit more orthodoxy in religion than the Reform branch can offer. That," he added with a reflective sip of his drink, "that, and I'm bloody tired of being addressed as 'Father' where'er I go."

    "Well, the robes--" I began, only to be silenced by another outburst.

    "Aye, the robes!" he thundered. "Canna God's children see past the outward appearance? Has He not warned us of the folly of concerning ourself wi' such matters? Does Matthew 6:28 not ask, 'And why take ye thought for rainment?' Is not the lesson then--"

    "Fa--Rabbi," I interjected desperately, "Matthew's a book in the New Testament."

    "And are ye presuming to explain the Torah to me, then, miss? Thought you'd show up an old Rabbi, did you? Och, you're a spitfire, ye are, an' prone to pride as well. That's one o' yer seven deadlies, ye know." He shook his head and made a "tsk-tsk" noise at me.

    "But the Torah and the New Testament are two different things, Father--"

    "RABBI!" he shouted, enraged and enpurpled. I was starting to think it had been unwise of me to put any vodka in his drink.

    "Rabbi," I corrected myself, not wanting to upset him further. "I mean, if you look to the Torah and to the New Testament for guidance, aren't you sort of . . . I mean . . . aren't you . . . ."

    "Don't say it," he warned.


    "I've had it up to me eyeballs wi' being called Christian," he practically spat. "Me, one of the goyim! Why, 'tis to laugh, 'tis. No, the Temple Beth El Fatima is as Jewish as they come--an' a fair bit more Jewish than some synagogues I could mention, were I of a mind to engage in idle gossip, which I am not," he concluded with another belt of his drink (though I thought I heard him mumble "Temple Emanu-El" under his breath just before he swallowed it).

    "But to the purpose of me visit, now," he said more gently. "I've come today, Miss, to offer you the chance for everlasting life and salvation in the kingdom of Heaven."

    "Oh, you're sweet, Rabbi," I said, smiling, "but I've already changed religions once, you know. I think I'm about at the limit. I don't quite trust people who hop from one to the next, do you? They always seem a little flaky to me."

    I'll be damned if I could figure out why, but the Rabbi's expression of shock at my (I thought) innocuous response was unmistakeable.

    "Lassie!" he whispered, staring bug-eyed at me. "Lassie, are ye tellin' me . . . can ye be tellin' me, then, that ye've ne'er heard the Good News?"

    "The--the Good--the what?" Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't have had any of that vodka either.

    "Is it that yer no better than a plain heathen, miss? Do ye not know--'An' God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son'--"

    "Now look here," I interrupted, getting cross. "Believing that Jesus Christ was the Son of God is Christian. What are you trying to pull here? Christian. It means 'follower of Christ.' As in, not a Jew. You can wear all the Stars of David you like, Rabbi, just as I could observe hijab and call myself a Muslim, but as long as I'm believing in the divinity of Christ--"

    "There, there now, don't be so literal-minded, lassie," he urged me. "Ye'll get nowhere bein' like that. Besides," he added, "ye haven't attended rabbinical school, now, have ye?"

    "No, but--"

    "And yet you'll presume to debate theology with a graduate of Lebanon Baptist Seminary!" he crowed. "Well, then! That's settled. Ye're clearly out of yer league here, miss." He shook his glass at me. "Now ye wouldn't be havin' a bit more o' that vodka handy, would ye?"

    "I'm afraid I don't, Rabbi," I said coldly, moving to the door. "Now if you don't mind, I'd like you to go. I'll keep your card handy, of course, but I've got errands to run and you can't stay."

    "Sure, sure," he agreed, rising. "Can I put you down for a donation before I take me leave?"

    "What?--No!" I spluttered at him, before my curiosity overcame me and I asked, "A donation for what?"

    He winked at me and answered, "For remodeling o' the sacristy, lassie. She's been needin' repairs for a spell now, but the rains this last spring--"

    "You," I scowled at him, "are either insane, or a scam artist. Temple Beth El Fatima! Honestly!"

    "Peace be with you," he smiled, making the sign of the Cross as I shut the door against him.

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

    July 03, 2005

    You Pick (I Picked Last Time)

    This ought to work about as well as my begging for comments ever does--that is, poorly--but it's like this: I look over the past week, and I have really posted nothing of consequence, nothing of interest, nothing . . . Cotillion-worthy.

    Some of you email me links now and then. Well, this is your golden opportunity: Pick a subject, general or specific, that you'd like me to write about. Make sure it's at least vaguely political or current events-ish because, you know, it would be poor form for me to submit something about what detergent I use or how my diabetic cat is doing (fine, actually).

    I don't want to drag down the group, is the thing. So make it good. You don't have to provide a link--a simple "what do you think about x" or "I'd really like to see you give the business to y" would do.

    And please: No Pandagon links. We've tilled that fertile soil enough lately, I think.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:17 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    June 19, 2005

    An Idle Question Which May or May Not Be Intended to Stir up Trouble

    Hey, remember the Pajamas Media launch announcement? I know: I've been trying to erase it from my memory, too. I mean, blech: Here we take the two chief advantages of blogging--namely, the freedom of (a) not having to earn a living by our writing and (b) not having to run our dreck past an editorial board--and what do we do? Search for a nifty new way to screw all that up. Oh, but the money! Yeah, yeah, the money. Can't I just sell Avon or something?

    But whatever; some guys are into the idea. And I do mean guys, because this is what I'm wondering: Is there even one woman on that editorial board, or is this--

    An editorial board consisting of Glenn Reynolds, PowerLine, Lawrence Kudlow, Hugh Hewitt, Marc Cooper, Wretchard of the Belmont Club and Tim Blair, as well as the founders, is already in place with other bloggers in many countries having signed on as contributors.
    --still the way things stand?

    Does anyone care? How many integers between 1 and 10 do you think I can recite before someone leaves me a comment to the effect that "I thought you, as a woman on the right, of all people, would understand that obviously Pajamas Media can countenance no such reprehensible concept as affirmative action?"

    Go on, pick an integer! Because, personally, I'm betting on 3. Two, if Richard Bennett shows up.

    I mean, I don't know, I'm just wondering: Am I the only person who reads that list and thinks "Wow, look, it's a bunch of middle-aged white guys?" Because listen, middle-aged white guys, nothing against y'all, but you do realize: Those of us who are NOT middle-aged white guys have been listening to middle-aged white guys in positions of authority for, gosh, all our lives? It's getting a little old. If you're not a middle-aged white guy, it's a little like living in a world where Ed Sullivan and Walter Cronkite never go off the air. Your names change, your faces change, occasionally your thoughts even change, but the origin remains the same.

    Can we just knock it off for a minute and quit pretending backgrounds don't matter? Backgrounds matter. We like to tout the chief virtue of America, the American dream that you can come from any background and still be somebody, and in that respect I'm the loudest cheerleader of them all. This IS what's great about the United States. I'll back that up against anybody, 'specially if they're French.

    That said, backgrounds matter. You do not look at life the same way I do, middle-aged white guys, anymore than you look at life the same way Solomon does, or the same way Erica does, or the same way Meryl does. You don't, not because you're bad or sexist or racist or hegemonist or fascist or I don't even know what the epithet du jour is--but none of them are the reason.

    You don't look at life the same way because you can't, anymore than you can know what it's like to run on one leg. You can imagine, of course, but that only gets you so far. Neither can I look at life the same way you do. I know what it's like to have a dad, for example, but I don't know, will never know, can never know, what it's like to be a son to a dad. I am always and forever a daughter.

    I just know I'm going to get someone completely missing the point on this--saying, for example, that the ideals of freedom and democracy are universal. Yes, certainly, and points to you, Enlightenment Man, for recognizing the obvious, but you are being all left-brained about this at a time when I want you to be right-brained for a minute. Look: It reassures people to see people like themselves. That's all I'm saying.

    And I'm not buying any arguments to the effect that "Well, we couldn't find any talented black writers" or "Gee, no women bloggers expressed an interest." Well, no: When you keep the planning of a venture within your own intimate buddy circle composed of guys just like you, I guess that lessens the odds that someone of a different background will just magically show up to diversify the whole endeavor.

    Would it kill you to get a non-middle-aged white guy, is I guess what I'm asking, and also: Do you really, honestly not understand that having such a homogenous background makes a difference in how people perceive and respond to you? Because if you claim that, then you're asking me to believe that you're just that ignorant, and based on what I've read by most of you, I don't think you guys on the Pajamas Media editorial board are that ignorant.

    Exclusive, maybe. Cronyistic, perhaps. But not ignorant.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:50 AM | Comments (9)

    May 28, 2005

    You Know the One I Mean

    Do you ever find yourself reading a site by someone you know you hate?

    I don't mean someone you "know" personally or anything. I mean, you've read that blog before, and you've hated it, and you know when you go to read it the next time, you're going to hate it all over again.

    Then you read it anyway.

    Then you spend the next five minutes talking yourself out of writing about how much you hate that site on your own blog, because even though you'd feel so much better if even just one other person would show up and leave you a comment like "I know, I hate it too! It's just so hateable! I can't believe how much I hate that jerk!", etc. . . . even though a comment or two in support of your heretofore private hate-rave would be like having your hate-parking validated, even though it would be so welcome, you also know you'd feel like a real dick for writing a post that was nothing but a coldblooded slam on how exquisitely hateable you find another person's creative efforts.

    And then you think about the other comments that would basically say, "So don't read it, then," and you think about what sage advice that is, and how often you've given it to others in the past, and how obvious it is, and you resolve not to read that site anymore because that is clearly the only sensible course of action.

    This works for a couple of months or so, and then one night your defenses are down and you think, "Hey, I know: Seeing as I'm bored with everything else, let's go see what's happening at that site that I hate."

    See, it's been awhile, and your memories of just exactly why you hate it, exactly how much you hate it, have gone all French impressionists in your mind. Besides, you can't imagine how it could possibly have become more repellent to you in the interim, because even though you don't remember specifically how much you hated it, you're pretty sure it was A LOT.

    So surely, the only way your feelings towards it can go are towards the positive, because didn't you max out the hate for that site months ago? You had to have, right? So maybe this time you'll actually hate it less. Ooh, let's go see!


    Uh . . .

    Gaaahh . . .



    Anyway. You know that blogger, the one who writes that really wretched, vile weblog? I completely hate that blogger.

    Uh, obviously it's none of you? I mean I shouldn't even have to say that; I'm an asshole, yes, but I'm not so much of an asshole that I'd write a post like this about any of y'all. I am like 99.9% certain the person this is about (a) has no idea I read him/her and (b) has no idea who I am. And that's how it's going to stay, because I just resolved never to read that site again. I know, shut up! I mean it this time.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:26 AM | Comments (15)

    May 12, 2005

    Maximum Suck

    Of course the minute I finished typing out that title I started questioning it: Has this blog actually achieved maximum levels of suck? Maybe it could yet suck more, and given that I write it . . . yeah. So think of it as approaching maximum suck. Maximum suck in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . .

    I was actually going to tell you yesterday that the reason for the extreme suckage is that I am moving beginning of June and have thus been Very Very Busy; but that is a lie. The real reason is that I have become hooked on the JayPinkerton.com forums. The forums are . . . they're kind of . . . well, they're a little like FARK but with better quality control. A better quality-to-suck ratio.

    This is mostly due to the ceaseless efforts of Pinkerton's team of moderators, particularly his girlfriend, and as much as I'm enjoying the non-suck humor efforts of the participants on the forums, I have to admit I'm enjoying her treatment of the suck efforts almost as much, if not more. So far my favorite has been her handling of the guy who, after being hassled by a local policeman for wearing an offensive t-shirt, retaliated by calling 911 and singing verses of "Fuck tha Police" to the dispatcher.

    Read that again: Our Hero tied up the emergency line to sing the only rap lyrics white kids know by heart to an innocent third party who had nothing to do with his dumb problem. Except, he didn't know the lyrics by heart; he had them, I'm not kidding, written down in his pocket. Written down. Carried on his person. In case of emergencies just such as this one, the sort of incident which the rest of us would classify more as Definitely-Not-An-Emergency, You-Fucking-Cretinous-Pusmonger.

    And still he walks the earth a free man. There is no justice in this life.

    I do nothing more than lurk on sites like these, obviously. For one thing I don't own a copy of Photoshop and for another, more important thing, I don't own any talent.

    So that's been my latest time-waster, my way of avoiding the latest inevitable, this chore of moving. I'm not going to go into a big riff about how much moving sucks, because that would be sort of like going into a big riff about breaking up with someone or losing a job or--we've all been there, we all already know, and we've all already thought up enough funny things to say about how rotten it is. Enough.

    I'll be honest with you, I also seem to have a case of the blahs that have been going around. Lately I'm tempted not to update at all and am only driven to post by the flood of trackback and comment spam that descends on this site if I'm away from it for more than three or four days. Then I think, what I should do is email my kind host Pixy Misa and ask him to just wipe this bitch and subsume the server space back into the mu.nu collective, where it can eventually be used in the service of good instead of mediocrity. Wouldn't that really be for the best? You're as tired of looking at that Lego caricature up there as I am, admit it.

    Speaking of my good host, I do prefer his handling of that New York Times piece about blogging to any other. It's been linked all over, that NYT article, but if you haven't read it I'll summarize: The New York Times is all, "These bloggers, they're all like hassling us for not doing our jobs fact-checking, you know, like our research and stuff, and yet they're all, like, totally unprofessional and irresponsible and, you know, partisan, and it's just like, I mean, who does their fact-checking, you know?"

    Actually, it would have been shorter if I'd just summarized that with, "It quotes Wonkette as a blogging authority." Does that not tell you everything you need to know about it right there? Because if that doesn't, it should. They needed to speak with An Actual Blogger, so they called up some Denton-paid ditz, a creature whose greatest notoriety was achieved by pimping the journal of a whoring Washinton intern.

    Anyway, Pixy rebuts the New York Times beautifully. You should read it. (And thanks, Jim, for the tip.)

    Finally I am enjoying the debut of Huffington's Toast, because good parody brings a tear to my eye. What's not to love about Arianna Huffington?

    Some have complained that Arianna’s blog does not permit comments. Please do not be offended. It is just that readers would be confused to see the ignorant ravings of proles and potato-eaters, side by side with the genius of John Cusack and Paris Hilton.
    It's so moving the way she's always looking out for people. Having God on your side is nice, but having Arianna is even better.
    Posted by Ilyka at 07:00 PM | Comments (9)

    May 08, 2005

    Did You Call Your Mother Yet?

    Well? Did you?

    I can't write anything about my mother because she would kill me (and she'd really kill me if I posted her photo online). My mother would hyperventilate if she even thought I might post something about her. My mother's a very private person. So I'm going to do my best to help her out by not writing a word about her.

    But she's a fantastic, amazing, awesome mom, better than I deserve. I don't think it's giving away too much to say that.

    Call your mother if you're lucky enough to have her among the living.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:53 PM | Comments (1)

    April 13, 2005

    You Can't Eat Respect, Either

    Hey. Listen up: I've got this great idea to score me some much-needed cash. Great, I tell you.

    In fact, it's foolproof.

    How's this for simplicity: All I have to do is get myself invited over for dinner at my parents'. I'll excuse myself to go to the bathroom, then sneak into their bedroom and steal my mom's LDS temple clothing--the clothes worn solely inside the temple, now; very very sacred stuff if you believe in such things--anyway, I'm gonna smuggle it outta there and then I'm gonna sell it on eBay.

    GENIUS, right? I know. I amaze myself sometimes.

    But . . . wait. Wait a sec . . . how much do you think I could actually get for one lousy outfit?

    I mean, my mom's not really famous or anything. She's just an ordinary Mormon. She's not, you know, the head of the LDS church. She's not like the Pope.

    Ah-HA! That's it!

    I'll steal the prophet's temple clothing! How hard could that be? Oh, sure, I'll have to get myself to Salt Lake City somehow . . . and I'm guessing his house probably has a security system . . . yeah, there's definitely going to be more risk and effort involved here . . . definitely . . . but if I can pull it off, then all I have to do is . . .

    . . . wait until he dies (can't be much longer now; the guy's 95!) and then, BAM! I'm RICH! Look out, eBay--here I come!

    Oh, wait.

    Wait again. I can't sell obviously stolen goods like that on eBay. They'd never allow it.

    But what if . . . what if . . . ooh, this is good! What if I simply showed up at some services the prophet was presiding over and grabbed me some sacrament? Sure, it's just crumbled-up white bread, and the Mormons don't believe in transubstantiation or anything cuckoo like that, so I'm probably not going to fetch quite as much as the guy who held onto his consecrated host from the mass with Pope John Paul II all this time.

    Oh, and I guess I'll have to find some way to keep it from going moldy, too, huh? Sigh. Mormons!

    Maybe this isn't such a great idea after all. Unless the prophet kicks the bucket pretty quickly, I'm going to be stuck selling a crumb of moldy bread on the internet.

    Never even mind that then I'd have to actually . . . attend Mormon church again. Oh yeah, I know, it'd just be that once, but people, Mormon services are three hours long. That's a three-hour tour Ilyka don't wanna take. Now tack on another hour for mass (what? I can't miss mass! I'd have to confess that!--What do you mean, "stealing?"), and we're talking four hours of Sunday spent.

    I'm bummed now. I really thought this had such promise there for a minute.

    Other than the logistical hurdles, though, I don't see any problem, you know, morally. After all, it's not my religion anymore, is it? I'M certainly not a believer. So if a bunch of Mormons were to, uh, get upset at my little plan, and send me emails or whatever . . . no biggie, right? I got a "delete" key.

    I guess some people might think it's a little disrespectful to sell something like that, but honestly, they just need to get over it. They sell Books of Mormon, don't they? What's the difference? Why can't I get my little slice of the pie here?

    Yeah, respect. Please. Respect don't pay the bills around here. So honestly: Who needs it?

    (Via Some Have Hats.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:30 AM | Comments (4)

    April 08, 2005

    The One Thing We All Agree On

    Make sure you draft a living will so your wishes will be known and honored accordingly:

    85 year-old Mae Margourik of LaGrange, Georgia, is currently being deprived of nutrition and hydration at the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy. Mrs. Margourik suffered an aortic dissection 2 weeks ago and was hospitalized. Though her doctors have said that she is not terminally ill, Ms. Gaddy declared that she held medical power of attorney for Mae, and had her transferred to the LaGrange Hospice. Later investigation revealed that Ms. Gaddy did not in fact have such power of attorney. Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal.
    But pay no mind; this just comes from some wacky Catholic priest on a Blogspot blog, and anyone can start a Blogspot blog. Why, he may not even be a priest at all! Could just be some kid taking a break from Halo 2.

    Though he probably is a priest, because we all know how militant those obnoxious Catholics can get about this trifling state we call Life. You know all this carping about a "culture of life" is just further evidence of a papist plot to keep women barefoot and pregnant, right? Everyone knows that. We all saw Meaning of Life. These priests--you know what they're up to when they're not fooling around with children? They're using these hospice cases to fight a stealth war against abortion rights, that's what they're doing.

    Well, sisters, they'll get control of our collective uteri only when they pry them from our cold, dead abdomens; which I guess means they'll be welcome to Mrs. Magouirk's soon enough, provided she hasn't had a prior hysterectomy.

    Via Asymmetrical Information. Incidentally, you slackers, not one of you told me that for months, I mean MONTHS, I had that on the blogroll as ASSymetrical Information. What a good thing I don't have to spell for a living!

    (There, I updated. Who's happy?)

    UPDATE: Edited to correct the spelling of Mae Magouirk's name. And a note: No, I do not know whether this has been verified beyond the report on (sigh) World Net Daily. I make no promises as to accuracy. Magouirk's nephew, Ken Mullinax, was interviewed on the Glenn Beck show, and that audio is available here (via Straight Up with Sherri).

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:33 AM | Comments (12)

    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

    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)

    March 17, 2005

    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 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)

    February 20, 2005

    Good Advices for the Internets

    Or, alternately, dumb platitudes that make one feel better--you decide.

    Things I have learned, directly or indirectly, from various family members:

    1. Pay attention to what people do, not what they say. The latter often lies, but the former seldom does.

    2. If you receive a compliment that you're 90% sure you did not fully deserve--either it's wildly out of proportion to your actual deeds, or seems to have been lobbed at you for no reason at all--odds are it's flattery.

    3. A habitual flatterer always wants something from you. The less time you spend trying to figure out what it is, the faster you can pedal away from that person.

    4. If someone continually blindsides you, either check your blind spot more often or go stand in the middle of theirs.

    5. Rule #1 holds even when rules 2-4 don't.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:51 AM | Comments (5)

    February 09, 2005

    No, Really: Save It

    Oh, never mind. I said I wouldn't discuss religion on this blog and I should stick to that.

    That said, I do humbly request that you please do not offer my god a peanut.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:23 PM

    January 21, 2005

    Minimum Wage Eating

    Listen up, internet: You people have to quit writing interesting stuff because I have things to do today. I'm late on writing thank-you letters. I have masses of laundry to be done. I have four bags of trash to take out. I need to vacuum, and I'm out of bread flour. PLEASE STOP WRITING SUCH INTERESTING STUFF.

    Thank you.

    Now, bread flour . . . that reminds me. I've been thinking about how being poor changes one's food choices for some time now, off and on, but I haven't quite known how to write about it. I suppose if I were a journalist, I would say I haven't quite found "the angle," but (a) I'm not a journalist and (b) I hate journalistic jargon like "the angle."

    When my brother came over for New Year's Eve, I made a pizza. I mean I made the dough--all right, the bread machine did that--and rolled out the crust and made the sauce and sliced the toppings--I mean I made a pizza.

    I don't really come from a cooking background. My father's relatives cook a lot, but while my mother certainly can cook, she doesn't really like to cook, and so I wasn't exposed much to the art of cooking growing up. Chocolate chip cookies, peeling potatoes, and how to brown a pot roast--that was about it. That's not meant in any way as a slam on my mother, who would probably tell you that I was also pretty lazy about wanting to help in the kitchen, which is true. I got grossed out at the sight of raw chicken or hamburger. I can remember telling her, "I could never stick my hands in that," while watching her form raw ground round into meatballs.

    I'm just saying, I didn't do a lot of cooking growing up. The first thing I ever tried to make on my own in a kitchen was stuffed peppers, and I flubbed it--it turns out it's really important to brown the meat first. Yes, I stuffed the peppers with a mixture of raw hamburger, rice, and vegetables.

    Hello, E. coli! Thank God my boyfriend at the time took one look at my pitiful efforts and said, "We're not eating that. Get dressed; we're going out."

    But back to New Year's. My brother asked, "What got you into this? What turned you into someone who makes pizza from scratch?" And in truth, there are many reasons, but the one I gave my brother is probably the primary one. I said:

    "Losing my job."

    See, I like to eat well. I love restaurants. But I can't afford to go out to restaurants. No, not even to the chains that run specials now and then. Besides, I'm a snob trapped on a proletarian budget, meaning: I hate the Olive Garden.

    I had a choice: I could learn to cook tasty things as cheaply as possible at home, or I could renew my relationship with ramen noodles. I have eaten my share of ramen noodles, people, and as God is my witness, I will do everything in my power never to make ramen noodles a mainstay of my diet again. (I still buy them, for the record. I just don't want to live on them.)

    All of this is a long-winded way (do I have any other?) of getting to two articles I've read recently about food and poverty. The first, from Serenity, is actually about much more than that, but it's the topic of food and living expenses I want to focus on here. Serenity is someone who knows the working poor experience in a way that, I'm sorry, too many Republicans remain ignorant, dismissive, or simply downright arrogant about:

    That is why so many Americans will pass up [minimum-wage jobs]. Because they can’t fricken live that way. It was extremely difficult for me and I was single, no kids; only had to worry about providing for myself. I lived in a box apartment, I had the absolute cheapest phone plan one could get, (I believe it is a necessity to have a phone as emergencies may arise. This should not be looked upon as a luxury item...and it wasn’t a cell phone), and dined on Top Ramen for much longer than I care to remember. I did not go out, I did not get my hair cut, I did not rent movies, I did not buy things whether I needed them or not. I wore clothes for 10 years despite the fact that they were falling apart from so many washings. I cut open tubes of toothpaste and lotion bottles to get every last bit of residue from them that I could. When I got paid, I would “splurge” and buy Kool-Aid, 10 for a dollar and not only did I drink it without the sugar, (too expensive), I would also keep adding water to it until all the color was gone.

    And that is how I lived when my job paid me minimum wage. This is how a lot of people live. A lot of those people have families. They have kids who need new clothes and shoes and a proper diet. So the parents work 2-3 jobs in an effort to give their kids what they need.

    I was very relieved to read this because it helped me understand why I just can't seem to lose a little chip I have on my shoulder. I try and I try and I try, but when it comes right down to it, I cannot shake the belief that if you've never had to take a calculator to the grocery store*, you have no idea what you're talking about, and you should be disqualified from all discussions about the minimum wage on that basis alone.

    Go on, flame me. Go on. I can take it. I've survived a lot worse than listening to some jackass who's never known rock-bottom living bray at me. Heeeee-haw! That's all I'm going to hear from you until you put your money where your mouth is.

    Like this family is doing:

    . . . we're tracking our grocery spending this month to see how hard it is for us to stay within the limits of USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, which allows up to $434.40 per month for a family of our size.

    For the record, I don't think this gives us a real feel for what it's like to be poor, any more than making teenagers carry around an egg or a sack of flour for a month gives them real insight into what it's like to be a parent. I know that it makes a huge difference not to really have to worry that my kids are going to go hungry if I don't leave enough money for the last week. But it's a useful consciousness raising exercise.

    A million thank-yous to feministe for the link. You should read the whole thing; as tempted as I am to give you another excerpt, it would be doing a disservice to the author to do so. Read it. For all I admire the effort, they buy some things I would never buy: Ice cream?--Instant pudding's cheaper. The boxes, of course, not the prepackaged pudding cups. And if you can make muffins and coffee cakes from scratch, graduating to actual cakes should be, uh, a piece of cake. Think how many cakes you can get out of a bag of sugar and a bag of cake flour, versus a box of Duncan Hines. Buying rolls? Buying rolls? Forget it. To someone like me, that is an enormous waste of money.

    But normally, when we're making a decent living, we all indulge in enormous wastes of money in our food choices all the time, "time" being the key word there. The tradeoff to making things from scratch, to buying whole roasting chickens instead of boneless, skinless parts, to making your own chicken stock instead of buying bouillon cubes or (shudder) canned broth--the tradeoff to all of this is TIME. What you save in dollars you spend in time. Unfortunately, a family in which one or both parents works multiple jobs doesn't have any more time than they do money. In fact, they may well have less.

    There's another article excerpted within the last one linked above that I wanted to talk about briefly. In it, a woman follows a pregnant, homeless teenager through the store as she selects items she'll pay for with food stamps. In particular, this:

    I stood, stunned, as she reached for the individual-portion cartons of juice -- with their brightly colored miniature straws -- ignoring the larger, economy-size bottles. No calculation of unit price, no can'ts or shoulds or ought-not-to's, no keen eye to the comparative ounce. By the time her stuffed cart reached the checkout line, my unease was turning into anger. Didn't she know she was poor?
    Trust me on this if on nothing else: Poor people know they're poor. What's missing here is an education about choosing food wisely. I know; I was on food stamps for several months. It took me awhile to figure out how to stretch them, because I had no education in that. (I know how tempted some of you must be right now to add, "And, you were dumb." Fine, I was dumb.) My parents had generally (that I could remember, at least) bought whatever they liked, with price being secondary.

    On one of my first outings with the stamps, I came home with a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. At the time, the stores still sold chicken breasts with the bones still in and the skin still on. Boneless and skinless breasts were about $4 a pound. Breasts with bones and skin were HALF that.

    The man I lived with at the time had not grown up like I had. The man I lived with at the time had grown up poor. And he saw the boneless, skinless chicken breasts--the package of four of them, because heaven forbid we buy the economy-size pack and save a few more cents per pound--and he pretty much lost it on me. My only defense was, "I didn't know"--because I didn't. I didn't know they listed unit prices on the price labels on the shelves. I didn't know about the time/money tradeoff you need to make when there is less money than time in the house. I didn't know, I didn't know, I didn't know, because no one had ever told me.

    But believe me, I know now. I know that the one of the most giddily happy moments of my life was the first time I realized I was making enough money to just throw things in the cart. Anything, anything at all. The store was MINE. Buffalo mozzarella at $9 a pound? Throw it in. Red bell peppers at $2.99 each? I'll take six of those. Frozen dinners? Organic butter? Steak? Throw it in, throw it in, throw it in!

    Those of you who have never known any other way to shop: All I'm asking is that you show a little sensitivity. A little gratitude for what you've got would be nice, too, but it's not necessary. Just a little sensitivity will do. You never know who you're talking to or what he or she has been through; you never know. Maybe leave some of the "that's what they get for not going to college" talk out of the discussion? A little sensitivity. That's all I ask.

    And for those of you who have at least a nodding acquaintance with the kind of living I'm talking about: What were or are some of your favorite "poor foods?" You know what I mean--the stuff that will stretch and keep and last, the stuff that was both tasty and gave you bang for the buck. (Cheese enchiladas, for example, are one of my favorites.) What do you eat when you've really got to watch what you spend on it?

    *Or had to add the dollar amounts in your head. Me, I had to use a calculator, because, I swear this is true, I can work out a triple integral for you, I can solve linear algebra matrices, and I can keep track of pointers to pointers to pointers, but I cannot add or subtract in my head. It is a slow, painful process that invariably either leaves me with the wrong answer--and I mean way off--or having to start all over again from the beginning.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:28 PM | Comments (24)

    January 08, 2005

    I Tried, Honest, I Really Did

    I have been a bad blogger, a lazy blogger, a bad lazy bad bad blogger. This is likely to continue; I always hate January and do my best to hibernate during it.

    Still, I tried several times this week not to be such a bad lazy bad bad blogger; I tried to do better, because isn't that what January is supposed to be all about, doing better?

    And it just didn't come off. Therefore I present: Things I Thought of Blogging About This Week, but Then Was All Like, "Enh:"

  • Biscuits, and the art of making good ones, and the impossibility of making good ones in my boyfriend's ultra-primitive kitchen, but then again didn't the pioneers manage it with fewer utensils than my boyfriend has? So what's wrong with me? I know in my heart that dry, crumbly biscuits never happen to Bree Van De Kamp. You could lock her in a room with one rusted fork and a thimble of milk, and come back an hour later to a five-course meal, freshly-pressed laundry, and new window treatments. Bree is like the pretend Martha Stewart, meaning she never has to go to jail unless the writers put her there and, best of all, I don't have to hate her domestic goddessness because she's not real. I am free to envy and revel and aspire.

  • The English are correct that Americans use the word "biscuit" to describe things that, well, aren't, if you're the sort to worry that "biscuit" means "twice-cooked" while American biscuits (again) aren't. Here's the sort I am: I'm the sort who wants a magic ray gun that I can use to instantly transport all the Limeys who care about this distinction back in time with me, to a little lonely campfire somewhere in the American West, so they can proceed to tell the cowboy baking biscuits over it that he's using the word "biscuit" incorrectly to describe what he's cooking. Go on, now, you weedy little porridge-gobbler: Tell the nice man WITH THE GUNS HANGING OFF HIM that he's wrong about the word "biscuit." Tell him. Please.

  • And then I worked up a good head of steam about this really nasty proposed bill in Virginia but quickly got overwhelmed with the part where it's just just, just . . . just a truly revolting idea, frankly, and so maybe someone else can find a way to get the message through to Representative Cosgrove that a miscarriage is not a crime better than I can.

  • Conservatives will be truly conservative again, at least in the sense of preserving some sort of aesthetic order, when they start demanding Kid Rock be removed from the inauguration festivities not because he uses dirty words, but because he sucks. Oh, I'm not saying he isn't a fine and decent human being; I'm just doubting his entertainment value. And please, someone remind Michelle Malkin that the last time pop music entertainers used clean language and were deemed family-friendly, it resulted in some jackass giving them a variety show, and the world suffered a lot more from that than it could ever suffer from Kid Rock.

    Finally, while I'm nagging: Don't count on people getting a super-convenient case of amnesia whenever your side spends a few years making a case for lefties as (and I think this is a phrase I'm borrowing from Tim Blair, but I'm not sure) "joy-killing funsuckers," and then later behaves like . . . a bunch of joy-killing funsuckers. Which is not to imply that Kid Rock ever gave anyone a moment's joy, or fun, or even seasons in the sun for that matter, but you know? No one outside D.C. cares about the inauguration anyway, for the love of humanity.

  • Wait, wait, I may not care about this exactly, but look, I really could have got an entire post out of this topic, because I thought of one last thing. Politics, in practice, is the art of mixing principles and pragmatism or, as that delightful Zen koan "The Gambler" teaches us, the art of knowing when to hold 'em, knowing when to fold 'em, knowing when to walk away, etc. So listen: When your average citizen can give you a better response than--

    "Uh, Bo Derek . . . and that guy, who's that guy?--Ferris Bueller, and that guy, he was like the teacher in that movie? You know the one? Ben Stinefeld? . . . and, uh . . . well Schwarzenegger still counts, right? So that's three . . . ."
    --to the question, "Name as many Republican entertainers as you can and, please! Take your time, take all day if you need it!"--look, when Americans can get beyond three in that task, THAT'S when you bludgeon them over the head with the principles. Until then: Pragmatism.

    (Thanks to Andrea Harris for the biscuits (and tea and maybe a little cake) link. Thanks to getupgrrl and Democracy for Virginia for the Cosgrove link.)

    I SUPPOSE AN UPDATE IS WARRANTED, 01/09/2005: Blogging is not like riding a bicycle; you can forget how to do it, and the first thing I usually forget is to credit, credit, credit--so belated credit to Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom for pointing me to the WorldNetDaily article about disinviting Kid Rock in the first place. Holy crumb, has that comment thread mushroomed. Like all lengthy comment threads, it eventually degenerates, but the bulk of it is still good reading. I thought a few comments were worth cherry-picking from it, so I hope Jeff doesn't mind if I excerpt one or two or three or four little things.

    First, I think Allah summarizes the social conservative argument neatly, and in his usual levelheaded fashion:

    . . . libertinism isn’t something most Republicans want to promote, particularly in conjunction with a presidential inauguration. Besides, any kids who are turned on to the GOP by seeing Kid Rock perform are in for a rude awakening the next time Santorum and co. introduce a piece of socially conservative legislation. “Wait, dude, what? I thought Republicans liked pimps.”
    And, on whether disinviting Kid Rock signals a demand from the White House that all Republicans "walk in lock-step:"
    No one’s saying he shouldn’t be allowed to perform because he supports gay marriage. We’re saying he shouldn’t be allowed to perform because he goes around calling himself a fucking pimp.
    Allah, bottle whatever it is you've got that allows you to argue in favor of things I'm against without being an arrogant, sanctimonious prick about it. It'll sell.

    Bill of INDC Journal issues a plea for perspective I'm partial to:

    I think everyone needs to unwind their panties and keep their eye on the ball of killing terrorists and cutting taxes, instead of organizing boycotts and letter-writing campaigns over stupid shit like this, which is a bid to fracture the fragile coalition of libertarians, moderates and conservatives that allow us to do the first two, vastly more important things.
    Now if only we all could get past the very natural human tendency to demand our information in bite-sized, digestible chunks of light, fluffy, trivial goodness. Sure, that'll happen.

    Bill also wants to remind people who the swing voters are, and why we need them, filthy language and all:

    The majority that voted Republican was a coalition of others beyond conservatives. And the conservatives that insist on making shit like this a big deal will overreach and swing the balance of power back to leftists one day, you watch.
    You can't eat the cake and have it too; that is, you can't spend weeks debunking "the mainstream media" and "liberals" for their bad-math observation that many voters chose "moral issues" as their deciding factor during the election . . . and then insist that "moral issues" are the deciding factor in determining whether someone's really Repbulican or not. One or the other, folks.

    Jeff himself also makes good swing-voter points:

    What the Republicans need to shed (in my opinion) is this reputation they have for being humorless moral scolds.
    My brother and I had a good conversation along those lines over New Year's. When I think "humorless moral scolds" nowadays, it tends to be directed at people who call movies like Team America "funny in parts, I guess, but ultimately so hateful." (That, unfortunately, is a paraphrase from a blog I'll likely never be able to find again, so I can't be more precise or even link it.)

    But both my brother and I are old enough to remember when the tsk-tsking came almost wholly from Republicans, while Democrats were the party of FUN! We like the fun in my family. Jeff likes the fun too, not to mention the boobies, and he reminds a social conservative which of them has more to lose if the Republican "big tent" starts a-shrinkin':

    You have more to lose than I do. Because at least under Dems I can see boobies and hear naughty words. And worship Satan.
    Unfortunately for Satan (or . . . is it?), Jeff has since decided that Pat Boone is his master.

    Read the whole thing, or most of it. What else are you going to do?

    Andrea, meanwhile, wants Republicans to be the party of adults and hire some entertainment that doesn't suck--or at least some entertainment that doesn't use the word "suck" as often as I do. As she puts it:

    This is a Republican administration, and that should mean uptight and dignified, not "just like the Democrats only pro-gun."
    As one who's guilty of wishing the Republicans sometimes were "just like the Democrats only pro-gun," (and "pro-give-me-back-my-tax-money, you bastards"), I can see her point.

    Finally, the best religious conservative argument in favor of letting Kid Rock perform comes from Baldilocks:

    It’s interesting that some conservative Christians would rather bar this man, as if he were a leper, rather than teach him, lead him and embrace him. It’s almost as though he’s been asking to be embraced by his countrymen—especially including those of us who are justified by faith--by celebrating things American rather than spitting on them as well as all things Christian.

    The guy has long been reaching out. Somebody ought to grab his hand, rather than slap it away. Besides, I doubt that he’ll sing “F*ck You Blind” at the ceremony.

    People, that is true compassionate conservatism--not to mention just plain good sense.

    Final update, not Kid-Rock-related, and aren't you the lucky reader for that! Regarding the bill proposed in Virginia by state representative John Cosgrove, requiring a woman to report all incidents of "fetal death" to law enforcement within 12 hours of same, it seems Mr. Cosgrove has responded appropriately to the outpouring of concern by women of all political backgrounds; see getupgrrl for the short version, or Democracy for Virginia for the full. Good for you, Mr. Cosgrove. Sometimes the wording of a bill is everything.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:53 PM | Comments (8)
  • December 07, 2004

    Beyond American Bandstand*

    From this choice thread at Protein Wisdom:

    Once, [bloggers] were rock and roll. Now we’re Yanni.
    I can never remember if that's better or worse than being John Tesh.

    I'm pretty sure it's better than being David Hasselhoff, but not by much. Hey, at least Hasselhoff helped end the Cold War.

    The deliciousness of that comment appearing in a thread that begins with Jeff and Allah consoling each other through their shared bitterness at not being endorsed by Meryl Yourish is . . . yeah, well, you know. You can't make this shit up.

    We don't care about these contests, except when we do, which is 99% of the time. Look at me, all pissed off about being in the 5000-6750 category because the Ecosystem uses an old link for me. I don't care, really? Except when I do, which is perhaps not all the time but is still way too much of it.

    Anyway. Divas.


    Posted by Ilyka at 11:43 PM | Comments (21)

    The Prefix I Wish Would Die

    This piece, a thorough rebuttal to the New York Times editorial in defense of Kofi "Oil for Food" Annan, has made the rounds pretty well already, and I really don't have anything to add to it other than a nitpick at the Times because . . . well, because they're the Times, of course. It's this sentence (emphasis mine):

    But before the call for his scalp gains more political momentum, it is important to disentangle the mélange of charges swirling around.
    What the hell is so wrong with this word that the NYT was compelled to turn it into the unwieldy and just plain ugly "disentangle?" Did this begin with the (equally wrong, in my view) mainstreaming of "disenfranchise?"

    Whatever; I wish it would simply stop. You've got your dis- prefix, which negates or removes from. and then you've got these jokers who want to make the meaning even harder to parse by throwing the dis- in front of an en- prefix, which empowers or adds to. It's not just bad language, it's bad math, a sort of verbal -1 + (+1) that leaves you with 0.

    Posted by Ilyka at 03:56 AM | Comments (4)

    December 02, 2004

    Those Were Different Times

    Last week or two ago, I forget exactly, Tim Blair had a thread going that invited people to share what insane, safety-last activities they had enjoyed as kids that they would never let their own kids do nowadays. If you like reading a good comment thread, I highly recommend it.

    Now the divine Miss Margi has up a similar post, an email forward from her sister that begins "According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, or even maybe the early 70’s probably shouldn’t have survived."

    Some of the changes I understand. I can see why parents try to drive the kids to and from school anymore; no parent wants their child to be the subject of an Amber alert. I think it sucks for the kids--they'll never know the thrill of stealing a perfect red carnation from the mean neighbor's yard on the way to school*--but I get it. I'm not going to lecture a parent that he or she is "coddling" his or her kid because . . . well, because my general policy is not to lecture parents at all. They're doing something I know nothing about.

    But one of the things on Margi's list reminded me of something that bothers the living daylights out of me, something about which I will lecture anyway. This item:

    We ate cupcakes, bread and butter, and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing.
    First of all, that's the damn truth. I didn't even have that many friends but because I loved riding my bicycle so much, I kept in pretty good shape as a kid.

    But that's not the only thing that's different now. The other difference is the concept of the kids' menu. I say "the concept of" because it's not so much the menu itself I take issue with. It's the underlying concept that the food should appeal to the kid. In other words, Mikey should like it! Hey Mikey!

    Some restaurants had kids' menus when I was growing up; most did not. It didn't matter much either way, because unless we were on vacation or on a long road trip, my family didn't eat out. I think we used to get McDonald's at most--at most--four times a year. Happy meals? A happy meal was one in which McDonald's got my father's hamburger order correct.**

    Now I can't go into ANY food establishment without tripping over a family of kids munching chicken fingers. From the kids' menu. Served with fries. Not a single speck of green anywhere on the plate. And sometimes you'll hear a chlidless friend dining with the family (who may or may not be me) say something like, "Wow . . . uh . . . ha, ha . . . he sure does like the chicken fingers," and then you'll hear the mother give this real tired sigh as she replies, "Oh, that's the only thing Tyler will eat," as though Tyler were in imminent danger of dying from malnutrition and not, you know, a regular butterball.

    Oh! Oh! I know what you're going to say: McDonald's wasn't exactly health food either. Therefore, please refer to the part where I say we visited McDonald's no more than four times a year, number one. Number two, that leaves at the least 361 other days of the year when you betcha we had home-cooked meals. Now mind, my brother and I were extremely irritating children in the picky-eater sense, and my mother worked, and she often ran out of patience trying to get us to eat our vegetables and believe me, if you'd known how my brother and I were you'd have held her blameless for that too . . . so a lot of nights vegetables were carrots, which aren't green either, but which had the distinction of being the only vegetables my brother and I didn't automatically regurgitate right there at the table. You can't blame a hardworking mother for not wanting to clean up puke every night.

    But if I'd tried to tell my mom I wanted chicken fingers for dinner every time we went out for a meal, she'd have about fell over dead.

    "No. You have to have a vegetable."

    "But it doesn't come with vegetables!"

    "So order something that does."


    "They don't have carrots!"

    "Then I guess you're going off the Peter Cottontail diet for tonight because you ARE having a vegetable."

    If I'd pushed it much beyond that, I'd have risked coming under threat of something that not one single parent out there ever, ever, I mean EVER does anymore:

    I would have risked being taken out to the car.

    For the duration of the meal.

    Which the rest of my family would merrily eat inside the nice cozy restaurant without me.

    You understand? NO DINNER. Now you all know I like my edibles way too much to risk going without them like that. Trust me when I say I was no different as a child.

    Now I swear if one of you jokers tries to leave me a comment that you DO SO take your kids out to the car, or at least threaten them with it, I am going to go all bitchy barren-old-maid on your ass because NO, you do NOT. How do I know? Because I haven't heard a parent threaten to take his sainted angel out to the car in literally decades. It's the same old story: If you say parents have gone soft nowadays, instantly six parents pipe up with, "Not me! Not me!"

    Oh YES you. It's just like when you complain about bad drivers to your coworkers--not me, not me, I'm a good driver! Sure y'are, Joey. That's why you nearly got us all killed last time we let you drive us to lunch. Pull the other one.

    Where was I? Right: Yelling at imaginary guys named Joe. I'm starting to see what all my English teachers were on about with the stick-to-the-thesis thing.

    My point, I think, was that sure we had Hostess and Dolly Madison snacks up the wazoo--mine is the generation that led the race to perform experiments on Twinkies, remember--and that's leaving out all the home-baked goodies piled on top of those (which if you grew up Mormon as I did, you saw, and consumed, more than a few of) . . . we had full-fat everything and whole-wheat soy-protein organic NOTHING.

    But playing was something you did outside. And what you wanted for dinner had nothing to do with what you were actually going to get for dinner. I might have wanted hot dogs and french fries for dinner every night (and because my father loves those kinds of meals himself, I probably got them more often than most kids my age did) but I certainly knew better than to think I'd get them every night.

    That's all I have to say about that. We don't have a generation of fat kids because McDonald's because Globalization because Bush because Additives because Play Dates at Chuck-E-Cheese because Soccer Practice Ran Late because . . . we have a generation of fat kids because they're all eating chicken fingers and playing XBox.

    Now either you all get together and kick the kids out of doors for an hour or you're going out to the car without dinner. Because I SAID.

    *To put in one's hair, of course, if one was a girl. If one was a boy, one stole carnations just to piss that old guy off.

    **Plain. No condiments. A happy meal was free of this exchange: Is that ketchup? Sonofabitch, those jerks put ketchup on it! Didn't I say plain? Honey, didn't I tell them I wanted it plain? Yes, dear, I heard you. Maybe you can scrape it off. I guess I have to, but it's--say, do we have any hamburger buns in the breadbox? Dear, please. Well why not? I could warm it up in the oven and--by then your hamburger will be cold. Well, it's already ruined. So don't make it worse. But whadda they think "plain" means? Doesn't "plain" mean no ketchup? Those jerks! I know, dear. I know. We're never going there again. I mean it. This is the last time. [Sound of Ilyka sobbing.]

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:36 PM | Comments (6)

    December 01, 2004

    And I Want a White Picket Fence And Someone Lend Me 2.3 Kids, STAT

    UPDATE, December 29, 2005:

    Is there an Avon conference going on today or something?--I am getting search hits from all over for "Avon World Sales Leader." Anyway, that's this woman's mother. Avon and world sales are two things I have absolutely nothing to do with, and the phrase comes up in this post only incidentally, in an excerpt from one of Dooce's posts.

    You people are like a damn swarm today with this Avon business. You're scaring me, frankly.

    There was a time I could cherish the contrast between the suburbs and the city, a time when I could appreciate each nearly equally-- and that time is passing real, real, real super-fast. We can thank my most favorite class of humanity, the perpetually sanctimonious, for that:

    Suburban life is a perverted response to the perceived problems of the city, where urban unpredictability and diversity are supplanted by the Olive Garden and visits to the biggest mall in the country. Suburbanites drive downtown for work--occupying jobs that rightfully should go to city dwellers--but then they and their earnings hightail it out before sundown, presumably when the human sacrifices begins. They may return in the evening every once in the while for a showing of Riverdance, but only with the car windows rolled all the way up.
    That's merely one paragraph plucked from a mountain of idiocy and man, people, you know I hate to fisk. I don't even like using the word fisk. It's jargon, and I'm against jargon on principle; also the activity itself is overdone. Still, it's seriously hard for me to get even nine words into this, into this one paragraph, without wanting to tell the author to just grow up already.

    In other words, to hell with it. Let's fisk.

    Suburban life is a perverted response to the perceived problems of the city

    The perceived problems, not the real, tangible problems, which either don't exist or are all the fault of suburbia, you decide. Anyway, an experiment: Next time someone holds you up outside a downtown dance club with a 12-gauge--as happened once to a guy I dated--try just changing your perception about it.

    (Incidentally, seeing as how the author of the article is dead convinced that suburbanites flee the cities out of an irrational fear of the black man--don't make me quote you that part, you're grown, you can read it yourself--would I be out of line to note that the holdup victim in this instance was black himself? Would it be out of line to note that he hailed from the suburbs? Or would the author just call that guy an Uncle Tom and me a Klan apologist?--Who knows? I do know that none of this helps solve the real, tangible problems of large urban centers, like for instance the real, tangible problem that YOU COULD GET MUGGED DOWN THERE.)

    And that's just one problem I "perceive" about life in the big city. We haven't even got to the minor annoyances like shitty road quality, traffic jams, urine in all manner of places urine is simply not supposed to be--I didn't even get to things like tiny apartments that cost more than a 4-bedroom house in the suburbs, did I?

    You know, it is f-i-n-e fine with me if you don't consider these things "problems." Feel free to alter your perceptions about them, honest. If you choose to see them as part of the charm and grit of the city, if you believe with all your heart that they give the place drama and vividness and color and flair, it is totally cool with me that you take that view. It's that view that keeps New Jersey in its place as the eternal butt of jokes by New Yorkers, which is right and just.

    But screw you for making the leap from your love of grit and grime to my hatred of black people. The one does not imply the other.

    where urban unpredictability and diversity

    Your unpredictability and diversity is my missed train and eight different encounters with guys who need a couple bucks for "a bus ticket." (You know, and I give those guys the couple bucks, even when they're asking for it right outside the liquor store, so don't start on me with the heartless-Rethuglicans thing.) What I'm trying to say is for a lot of people, the "unpredictability" and the "diversity" get old after awhile.

    If the author had put even a spark of thought into this piece, she'd have realized that the suburbs versus the city is just the same old story, same old song and dance--only she's singing the wrong song and she's got two left feet. The story of the exodus to the suburbs is the story of getting old.

    You know who starts to miss the feel of grass beneath their feet, the smell of exhaust fume-free air in their nostrils, the contentment of having more than 512 square feet to call home? OLD PEOPLE, you dingbat. I don't mean seniors. Maybe I should just say "older." No, let's tell the truth here for a minute: People my age, okay? People my age have either got a couple kids already or are about to, and weirdly enough it does start to occur to them that maybe they should bring up the tots elsewhere--somewhere Crazy Freddie can't sidle up to them to see if they can spare a buck or two "for the bus." Somewhere Mommy and Daddy can afford to put away that buck or two for college later on. Somewhere Mommy won't have to explain what "XXX triple penetration hardcore!" means until Johnny's at least 10 and can find out on the internet his own self--in the privacy of his own room, not at the public library PC three seats down from Drunk Bob.

    In fact, let's see what Dooce had to say about why she and her husband moved from LA to Utah:

    . . . I present to you the following reasons why Jon and Heather need to move back to Utah: -Heather wants to have a baby and if there ever were a place on earth where people know how to have babies that place would be colonized by Mormons. - Chuck needs a backyard and the average price of a backyard in Los Angeles is $480,000. - Jon and I are down to our last couple dollars and a gallon of milk in Utah costs less than a couple dollars. - My mother, the Avon World Sales Leader, lives in Utah and can give us free shampoo. - They have weather in Utah.
    I know Her Dooceness is more liberal than I am--by miles--but those look suspiciously like the reasons my parents bailed out of New Jersey way back when. Plus, I've read her list over six times now, and I still can't find anything about fearing unpredictability or diversity. What's up with that?

    Oh hell, I didn't even make it to the end of the first sentence and look how I've rambled on. Can we skip the part about the Olive Garden? I hate the Olive Garden, for what it's worth, but I think I hate the law that all good progressives must equate a love of Olive Garden with Republicanism (and thus, evil) even more. That did get signed into law, didn't it? It must have, because they all do it. Can't you pick on Chili's for a change? Applebee's--yeah okay, I see you got some people on that one already. Never mind.

    Suburbanites drive downtown for work--occupying jobs that rightfully should go to city dwellers
    Because . . . because . . . what? Why? The hell? Because you live there, so . . . so . . . so businesses should give you preferential treatment in hiring or the government should automatically issue you a nearby job or--I mean what exactly is going on here? Because it certainly isn't actual thought.

    This is one you could attack from so many angles it's impossible to just pick one. If you say businesses should make more effort to hire locals, well, sorry, but that's discrimination, number one; number two, given two candidates of equal merit, but with one of them down the street and the other 20 miles away--look, I know who I'm hiring for that one, because now I can really justify making him work nights and weekends, and he better never be late with the excuse that he was stuck in traffic; number three (and I think I mentioned this already) but why? Why should those jobs go "rightfully" to city-dwellers?

    And how much do you think taking the nose ring out before you get to the interview might aid your hireability there, Miz City-Dweller? Businesses are notorious for loathing unpredictability, and whether they admit it or not, their view on diversity is that there is no "diversity" in "TEAM." Try actually "thinking outside the box" in a corporate environment sometime and be amazed by how much business respects diversity of viewpoint. Maybe these are the kinds of things those squares in suburbia have already figured out?

    (Hands up who's grateful I didn't try to dissect the entire article? That's what I thought.)

    but then they and their earnings hightail it out before sundown, presumably when the human sacrifices begins [sic].
    The human sacrifices, and the perceived muggings. Hey, but don't discount the appeal of human sacrifice to suburbanites. If you could work out free parking for it, I'm sure at least a few of us would show up.
    They may return in the evening every once in the while for a showing of Riverdance, but only with the car windows rolled all the way up.
    It keeps the urine out, okay?

    Look, my grandmother raised three children in a one-bedroom apartment near 144th and Washington--she lived and worked in Manhattan, and not the nicest part of it, for a long time. She loves the city. No one loves that city more.

    And yet I've never gone there with her, even once, when the first thing she said to me upon entering her beloved city wasn't "Make sure your door is locked. Is your window up?--Roll the window up."

    Because why? Because people who've really lived in the big cities--versus spoilt arty shitheads who move to them in search of vicarious thrills they couldn't find in the suburbs--don't kid themselves about how big cities are. They're noisy, they're dirty, and they're dangerous. They are no less loved for that, but the flaws are real, not perceptual. Papering over those flaws with euphemisms like "unpredictability" and "diversity" only invites one to take this author for a peabrained moonbat--which she is.

    And if you won't take my word for that, and you have some migraine medication nearby, why, just read the rest of the article. Maybe then you can see how I could get so much mileage out of one particularly bad paragraph.

    (I almost forgot: This aneurysm brought on by Swirlspice--not that there's anything wrong with that. Applebee's article link pilfered from Esmay.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:51 PM | Comments (11)

    November 16, 2004

    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)

    November 03, 2004

    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

    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)

    September 15, 2004

    This is Not a Partisan Thing

    Some guy in a comments thread today asked something like, "What about FOX News?" I think he was essentially claiming that, in order to be upset about Dan Rather and CBS and those so-obviously-fake-they-make-my-eyes-bleed documents, one first had to justify the existence of FOX News. Which only makes sense if you think about it, provided you think about it after imbibing a fifth of tequila, plus worm.

    And then there was a thread I read recently that I apologize sincerely for not being able to track down now (there have simply been too many I've been reading lately, and by the way, the first person who codes up a solid comment-tracking app is going to do booming business) in which a commenter said, paraphrasing, that the first things conservatives do when you complain about a conservative media is (1) deny that it's conservative, i.e., FOX News, or (2) deny that it's truly "media," i.e., talk radio.

    Okay, I can see the point with that. In fact, I'll concede that I find FOX News to be a little less than "fair and balanced." But then, I'm not really the best judge of it because, see, I don't watch it.

    I don't have cable, see.

    So maybe I just don't get how three networks vs. one cable-only news network equals this great imbalance in how we report the news, an imbalance so overwhelming that our lawmakers have to send letters of rebuke to FOX News and hint at legislative action against them.

    (Fairness note: I don't support a congressional investigation of CBS, either, as I said rather angrily in the update here.)

    As for talk radio not "really counting" as media, I've made that argument myself. Figure roughly how many people get their news from the wire services--AP, Reuters--and now look at the sidebar on this analysis of American listening habits:

    The most popular source of news on radio is music stations
    And you know what that means? That means most radio listeners are getting their news from the same root sources, the wire services, that eventually feed all the mainstream papers and all the network news outlets. Most of us are getting our radio news via the 5-minute wire-service reports that music stations run at the breaks, not via Rush Limbaugh.

    This is usually about the point at which someone hollers, "yeah, but the audiences for this konservative krap on our nation's airwaves are friggin' HUGE."

    Yes. Yes, as nearly as I can tell, they are. This page lists numbers from 2002, which isn't very current data; also, I'm a little wigged out by the organization providing this data. (You'll see what I mean if you hit up the home page.)

    All caveats aside, you still wind up with numbers that qualify as "huge:"

    The G. Gordon Liddy Show: 2.25 million weekly listeners

    The Rush Limbaugh Show: 14.5 million weekly visitors

    The Sean Hannity Show: 5 million weekly visitors

    So yeah. That's a lotta visitors just from that small sample.

    Here are the weekly viewers for the evening network news broadcasts in July 2003. I've added emphasis below:

    The longtime anchor of the "CBS Evening News" averaged a paltry 6.5 million viewers last week, according to Nielsen Media Research - the smallest audience for the program in at least 10 years.

    That put Rather 2.4 million viewers behind NBC's "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw," which led the race with 8.9 million.

    And Brokaw wasn't even at the anchor desk last week: Brian Williams was sitting in for him. ABC's "World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings was also far ahead of Rather, with 8.2 million viewers.

    So here we have the numbers for what is apparently one of CBS's bad weeks, and we're just slightly over the weekly numbers for three of the top talk radio hosts. 14.5 + 2.25 + 5 = 21.75 million weekly talk radio listeners. 6.5 + 8.9 + 8.2 = 23.6 million weekly network news viewers.

    So I can see why some people object that talk radio "does too" count as "media." I mean, I didn't even add in Drudge's show, or O'Reilly's, or Medved's, or . . . I'm sure if you kept on going, you'd dwarf the numbers for the nightly news broadcasts easily.

    'Course, that doesn't take into account how many people read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the L.A. Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, Time, Newsweek . . . on a weekly basis.

    Or how many viewers tune into 60 Minutes, Dateline, 20/20, or Primetime . . . .

    But most importantly, it doesn't take into account that the talk radio audience knows what it's getting into when it dials up Limbaugh or Hannity. Talk radio isn't pretending to be fair, impartial, or objective. You know you're never going to hear Limbaugh fret about vanishing reproductive rights, unless maybe it's April Fool's Day and he had the extra-strength Vicodin that morning. You know when you tune in where the host is coming from.

    This is why conservatives got the giggles so badly over Air America. Look, launching Air America was like going to a comic book convention and trying to sell Joni Mitchell albums there, all right? It's the wrong freakin' audience for that stuff. Talk radio is where conservative people go to get away from the kind of liberal insularity that they feel pervades the so-called mainstream media. Talk radio is where conservative people go to hear a story about a gun being used to save someone's life, not end it tragically. Talk radio is an outlet and a reaction to the kind of world that put Rosie O'Donnell on television (and thank God that nightmare's over).

    You don't have to like it. I don't like most of it myself, if you want to know. Talk radio is not really my thing.

    But you could quit pitching fits about it. That'd be very welcomed. Buck up, be strong, and console yourselves that at least you have virtually every other news source all sewn up. Hell, you even have something on cable to counter FOX News--it's called CNN. Conservatives used to refer to it as the Clinton News Network. Now either that was because (1) all conservatives who dislike the coverage on CNN are raving paranoid fruitcakes, or (2) maybe, just maybe, there was a little something to that.

    I don't have to justify the existence of talk radio and FOX News to note that CBS has screwed the pooch with this one. In fact, I might just point out that if I were John Kerry or one of his supporters, I'd be even more furious about this. It reflects badly on all involved. And you guys who are complaining that Memogate or Rathergate (or whatever we're calling it these days) detracts from the "real issue" of Bush's guard service?--Bingo! That is about the only thing I've seen you get right. Because it certainly does do that. It's vastly more interesting to hear about a major network plunging its news division down the toilet than it is to wonder whether the President of the United States missed a friggin' physical. That's just human nature, fellas. That's how news is.

    The sooner you acknowledge that, the sooner you could begin doing some good for your candidate and your party.

    CORRECTION, FROM THE COMMENTS: According to a fellow named Mike, only mezcal includes a worm. I found this of interest, however:

    In 25 years we have never met a palenquero who has offered a sip of his mezcal with: a Worm, a Lime or Salt. In our experience the only use of the worm besides a marketing gimmick is to mask the chemical taste of poorly produced mezcal.
    There's some history included on the site that may be of interest as well.

    Can I say "we report, you decide," now? No, you know, on second thought, I'd rather just stipulate that what I wrote was true in the larger sense.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:55 PM | Comments (2)

    September 11, 2004

    The Day of Turning Off

    Like many people who weren't in Washington, Pennsylvania, or New York that day, I did a lot of turning on the television on September 11, 2001.

    On that day and on subsequent days, I did a lot of turning off the television, too.

    Sometimes it was because something hit me too hard and I couldn't take the grief anymore. Sometimes the sight of one more person being interviewed while holding a "MISSING: " poster was too horrible.


    Sometimes it was because my amazement, my awe at how people were pulling together in the face of this destruction, was so overwhelming that I felt ashamed for not being more grateful for what I had. I felt ashamed for complaining about petty annoyances while firefighters, police officers, and volunteers--volunteers!--were working around the clock to put some order into the chaos.


    Sometimes that flaming wreck in Pennsylvania was just--


    Sometimes that enormous wound in the Pentagon just--


    At first, these were the sorts of reasons I had to turn off the television.

    Gradually it became something else.

    Gradually, it became hearing one more panel of experts urging grief counseling while omitting one key stage of the grief process: anger.

    Gradually, it became seeing the spokesperson for CAIR on, again berating the U.S. for its intolerance of Muslims, even as his organization displayed no such tolerance of Jews; even as I knew of no one not tolerating Muslims, even as I recalled that Muslims were also among the dead that day, even as phrases like "Wahabbist Islam" were entering the American collective consciousness.

    Gradually, it became watching a poignant segment on one of the victims veer suddenly into a talking head discussion of how we could, and should, move on.

    Gradually, it became listening to the neutered and spayed language all the time: We hadn't been "attacked;" we had been "challenged." We weren't "at war;" we were "victims." We weren't "trying to find answers;" we were "avoiding a rush to judgment."

    Gradually, I was getting fed up. Gradually, it got easier not to turn the damn thing on in the first place.

    The so-called "warblogs" came up at the right time for me--probably for many people. Nature abhors a vacuum. When the media refused to give people what they sought--information, however raw and personal--and devoted more and more of its time to nannying its audience to death, it was only a matter of time before--


    I feel often, and especially today, that I owe a debt of gratitude to these writers for their voluntary efforts to get the information out, whether that information was personal, political, or an inspired mixture of both. I would like to thank some of them here, but I would like to do it without accusations of link-whoring, so I advise interested parties to Google those mentioned (or simply see the blogroll at left; most of them are still around and still going strong).

    I have some ideological differences with him now, and he's often accused of not being a "real" blogger, but he was the first one I found. Through him I found all the others, and I enjoyed his writing immensely: Andrew Sullivan.

    He used to race Instapundit to see who could rack up more posts in a day, and his enthusiasm and skill at weblogging were a joy to behold: Stephen Green, the Vodkapundit.

    He writes every weekday. He writes every weekday at the end of the day, after housework and child-rearing and paid work, and he does it like nobody's business, and when I found my boyfriend reading a post on another blog that disparaged him I yelled, yes YELLED, at the screen, because to my mind you don't ever knock that quality of effort when it's both consistent and free: James Lileks.

    She had the best blog ever. She put the heart and the soul into it and she took enormous grief for it and she kept coming back anyway, and she led drive after drive to help not herself, but others. When I read remarks by guys who essentially do nothing beyond linking an article in the Washington Post and tacking on a two-sentence, indifferent conclusion . . . when I read some guy opining that the "problem" with women bloggers is that they're "too emotional" or "too personal" in their writing . . . I think, She was better than you on her worst day. And I hope she comes back: Michele at A Small Victory.

    I think that, sadly, there are many blog readers out there who don't realize how this guy got to be so beloved, who don't understand why he can go three weeks without a single post, then do up a short one, and be instantly linked by the high-traffic bloggers just like that. They don't know because they weren't reading him back then and the archives are largely no longer available, thanks to the malicious insanity of one real asshole. Some people have no idea, because they don't know how grateful people were for a laugh back then--or no, maybe they do know that, but simply don't know how brilliantly this guy delivered: Jim Treacher.

    She was my primer for all things Israel and I've never seen her back down from anything, whether it was hurled at her from left or from right, and she always, always, always has her facts. You are not going to win an argument with her, so shut up; and maybe, if you're nice, you'll be blessed with a hilarious entry from the diary of Iseema bin Laden: Meryl Yourish.

    I didn't have to read about the clean-up efforts at the World Trade Center in the New York Times. I read about them from a woman who volunteered there: Megan McArdle.

    I don't remember what her blog was called back then. I only know that I follow it through all its iterations and I love it because on days when I am cranky, I can usually bet that she will be even more cranky, only it will be crankiness laid out beautifully, focused and woven into something almost elegant. It will be designer crankiness. If I am lucky, it will be crankiness directed at someone or something that's also been subtly pissing me off all this time, only I didn't know how to express it: Andrea Harris.

    These people helped me very much. These people were mouse-clicks away when I could not take the television or the radio or the papers or, hell, my you-don't-know-what-it's-like-because-you-never-lived-in-a-Muslim-country-like-I-did-although-granted-it-was-a-heavily-guarded-American-compound-and-I-didn't-really-mix-with-the-locals-much coworkers.

    When you are tempted to cynical put-downs of "big bloggers," remember that while they did not invent weblogs, they were instrumental in shaping the way political weblogs look today. And when you are tempted to blame them for the way political weblogs look today (what? Why are you looking at me like that?), try to mix some credit with the blame. And when you are tempted to sneer "link whore!" at the littler bloggers who link them, consider that maybe there's more going on there than just the desire for traffic. Maybe it's gratitude.

    That is all I have to say today. Remember September 11, 2001, in a way that works for you.

    And maybe remember those who helped you never forget, too, if you want.

    UPDATE (via Kesher Talk): This is not how to remember.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:07 PM | Comments (3)

    A Parts Story

    (NOTE: I'm doing here about the vainest thing any weblogger can do: Excerpting part of a previous post--with slight modification to make the excerpt a "standalone"--that is now badly butchered because I included information that has since been deemed erroneous. That faulty information, however, does not impact the following excerpt, which actually is the part of the post I wanted to emphasize in the first place. Like I said: It's vain of me to do this. I'm very clear on that much. Now shut up and humor me.)


    Let me explain why I don't think historical and technical arguments about typesetting ultimately matter: Because they make this a parts story.

    "But CNN is going to run it day and night," he said. "By next week, it'll be ancient history. We have to go with this story Saturday."

    "Right," she said.

    . . .

    He spun back. "Go do it."

    "Okay," she said. "Thanks, Dick."

    "You sure you can put it together in time?"

    She started collecting her notes. "Trust me."

    As she headed out through Marian's office, she heard him shout, "Just remember, Jennifer--don't come back with a parts story! I don't want a fucking parts story!"

    From Airframe, by Michael Crichton. If you've read it, you know why I think it's relevant (I hope).

    If you haven't, here's the short version: The excerpted conversation above occurs between the producer of a news-mag style show (a la "60 Minutes"), and the reporter who wants to do a story about a recent in-flight accident that has left three people dead. (The line "CNN is going to run it day and night" refers to graphic home video footage taken during the flight.)

    The producer doesn't want a parts story because he knows nothing will put people to sleep faster than a technical discussion of airplane construction and safety devices.

    (Or, say . . . fonts.)

    The producer wants what I'd call a "some heads are gonna roll" story. A story about how negligent airplane manufacturers are. A story about Terror in the Skies. A story about how You Could Be at Risk. A story about Evil Corporations and the Evil, Evil Ways in Which They Totally Neglect Your Safety for a Buck.

    I'm sure you're familiar with the type of story I'm talking about.

    All over the blogosphere, people are discussing fonts and typesetting and military style guidelines and, well, parts.

    But the aspect of this that isn't a parts story is what's frightening. That a major news organization is willing to neglect its own credibility to further an agenda is frightening. That a major news organization assigns more value and emphasis to voter intent--ack, I'm sorry; I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's intent--than the actual votes--geez, there I go again! I mean Lieutenant Colonel Killian's actual statements--that disturbs me very much.

    Gosh. Why do I keep mixing those two things up?

    Maybe it's because they come from the same thought process: One in which what should have been true trumps what is verifiably true. Voters in Florida should have voted for Gore; therefore, it's within reason to spend months analyzing ballots looking for any indication, however slight, that they meant to vote for Gore.

    Lieutenant Colonel Killian should have written that memo. He meant to write that memo. He would have written that memo, had he only found the time--oh, what the hell! He did write the memo. He wrote it in his mind, and Dan Rather divined it, and that's close enough, isn't it?

    You've probably read it 100 times already, but read this statement by Kelli Edwards, CBS spokesperson, one more time:

    CBS verified the authenticity of the documents by talking to individuals who had seen the documents at the time they were written. These individuals were close associates of Colonel Jerry Killian and confirm that the documents reflect his opinions at the time the documents were written.
    See? He meant to. He definitely thought those things. He was going to write them down. He should have written them down. Does it matter whether he really did or not? He would have; he could have. Oh, let's pretend he did. We could get away with it. We will get away with it. No one wants to read about typefaces and kerning and superscript and date formatting . . . no one will care. By Monday, anyone who does care will be thoroughly sick of discussing it anyway. The rest won't remember. Let's run with this. We can do it.

    And they did.

    And I don't care who you're voting for this November: That kind of behavior from a major news source should scare the daylights out of you.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

    September 06, 2004

    The Left and the Right, and I Don't Mean Politically

    Now this is something I can figuratively sink my teeth into:

    . . . almost everyone involved in the arts is liberal. Perhaps that's because the left, with all its hemming and nuancing, is more willing to accept imperfection and failure, which are inherent in art. Conservatives, with their definitive solutions and visions of Utopia and impeccable memories, are better at philosophy and political talk shows.
    Via Tim Blair, who takes this apart in typically-destructive right-wing fashion, partly as follows:
    (A couple of points: conservatives are perfectly willing to accept failure. Unlike the left, however, we’re unwilling to accept it two, three, or four times in a row. Socialism didn’t work out? Let’s try it again! The UN is a ruinous mess that only causes problems to become worse? More power to them! Castro still killing people? Give him another chance! And as for conservative visions of Utopia ... has Stein ever inspected the bumper-sticker dreams of the modern leftist?)
    I don't get the "visions of Utopia" bit either, but it does tell me I probably read more conservative writing than Stein does. The closest thing I can find to a Republican getting optimistic about the human condition is this quote from P.J. O'Rourke:
    Life is sweet. But you could spend a long time reading, going to the movies, and watching TV and not hear this mentioned. . . . History is on a roll, a toot, a bender.
    And even P.J. doesn't stay optimistic for long; witness the very next sentence, and what follows to close out the above paragraph:
    No doubt it will all come crashing down around our ears one day when a comet hits the earth or Sally Jessy Raphael becomes Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But, in the meantime, we should be enjoying ourselves, and we are not. Gloom enfolds the earth. Tales of woe reach us from every corner of the globe. Moans of "unfair," "unjust," and "poor me" are heard around the planet and are nowhere louder than in my own backyard.
    Some Utopian, that P.J.

    Now if Stein had described conservatives as having visions of "same shit, different day," he might have had a point. There is no shortage of grumpy old bastards on the right, and I note that as a good thing. Like it or not, the world needs grumpy old bastards. The world needs cantankerous old coots to grumble, "It'll never work," "We tried that already," "You gonna think this thang through logically or just keep talking out yer ass, son?" and that simple, perennial favorite, "NO."

    Yet for all that I can see where Stein's trying to go with his observation, however flawed. Tim Blair puts it this way:

    . . . [Stein] references a serious leftoid notion: all this hemming and nuancing proves that we are the intelligent ones! Where dull-minded conservatives simply demand solutions, the left calls for discussions on the etymology of "solution" and how that may relate to Engels, Foucault, the concept of objectivity, and the present conflict between reactionary religious forces on one side and brave anti-Bush dissenters on the other.
    One nitpick: The left wants nothing to do with the concept of objectivity. That's a left-brain/right-hand dominant thing, objectivity. There's not a lot of room for nuance in objectivity--or as David Byrne once complained:
    Facts are simple and facts are straight
    Facts are lazy and facts are late
    Facts all come with points of view
    Facts don't do what I want them to
    Yeah, the nerve of those facts.

    Anyway, where'd this notion that one hemisphere of the brain is superior to the other come about? Because I think Blair is right, and I think, underlying both the Stein piece and this hatchet job from the head shrinkers at Berkeley, is the notion that it's better to be right-brained/left-hand dominant.

    Bullshit. We have both halves of the brain because we need both halves of the brain to get along in the world. We need the holistic, visionary guy to dream of building the Golden Gate bridge, and then we need the analytical, linear-thinking guy to put the damn thing together. I've been pleased to know some very right-brained, creative, artsy people in my life, and I dig them--but I don't ever want them performing neurosurgery on me. Conversely, I don't want to attend an art exhibition of works by accountants.

    The irony is, there's nothing (to crib from the cheat-sheet website linked above) "synthetic," "holistic," or "analogic" about lauding the right brain over the left. The very traits commonly ascribed to right-brain thinkers suddenly vanish when it's time to consider the usefulness to society of the traits of the left-brain hemisphere. You know, that "abstract," "analytic," "rational" guy might dress badly and be a real downer sometimes, but I bet he'd be of some help to you balancing your checkbook, fixing your plumbing, overhauling your engine.

    I doubt conservatives will ever boast many sculptors, actors, poets, or performance artists. We're probably stuck with an artist's lineup that includes Ted Nugent and Bo Derek. Yes and so what? When's the last time a Frieda Kahlo gave us lasers, flight, air conditioning*--hell, hearts?

    See: Two can play at the which-side-is-better game. But it's a damned stupid game.

    *The air conditioning I consider critically important, and it is my personal favorite invention ever.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:49 PM | Comments (1)

    August 09, 2004

    A Quote for No Particular Reason

    From a favorite book:

    The nurse pulled up her sleeve and swabbed a spot clean on her left arm. Francie saw the white doctor coming towards her with the cruelly-poised needle. He loomed larger and larger until he seemed to blend into a great needle. She closed her eyes waiting to die. Nothing happened, she felt nothing. She opened her eyes slowly, hardly daring to hope that it was all over. She found to her agony, that the doctor was still there, poised needle and all. He was staring at her arm in distaste. Francie looked too. She saw a small white area on a dirty dark brown arm. She heard the doctor talking to the nurse.

    "Filth, filth, filth, from morning to night. I know they're poor but they could wash. Water is free and soap is cheap. Just look at that arm, nurse.

    The nurse looked and clucked in horror. Francie stood there with the hot flamepoints of shame burning her face . . . .

    The nurse was a Williamsburg girl. You could tell that by her accent. The child of poor Polish immigrants, she had been ambitious, worked days in a sweatshop and gone to school at night. Somehow she had gotten her training. She hoped some day to marry a doctor. She didn't want anyone to know she had come from the slums.

    . . .

    [Francie] looked at the nurse. To Francie, all women were mamas like her own mother and Aunt Sissy and Aunt Evy. She thought the nurse might say something like:

    "Maybe this little girl's mother works and didn't have time to wash her good this morning," or, "You know how it is, Doctor, children will play in dirt." But what the nurse actually said was, "I know. Isn't it terrible? I sympathize with you, Doctor. There is no excuse for these people living in filth.

    A person who pulls himself up from a low environment via the boot-strap route has two choices. Having risen above his environment, he can forget it; or, he can rise above it and never forget it and keep compassion and understanding in his heart for those he has left behind him in the cruel up climb. The nurse had chosen the forgetting way. Yet, as she stood there, she knew that years later she would be haunted by the sorrow in the face of that starveling child and that she would wish bitterly that she had said a comforting word then and done something towards the saving of her immortal soul. She had the knowledge that she was small but she lacked the courage to be otherwise.

    Yeah, there's a reason, even a particular one, why I thought of this, but I'm too bummed out at the moment to mention it, so make of it what you will.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:27 PM | TrackBack

    August 07, 2004

    No, YOU Tell ME

    I continue to have nothing of consequence to say, making this as fine a time as any to punt to a commenter.

    Seems one Daniel in Medford--a commenter of whom I'm most fond, I should add, because while I can't remember what post it was on or, indeed, what in fact he said about it, I have this lingering impression that the guy once said something fairly intelligent and thought-provoking in the comments so hey, go Daniel--anyway, Daniel wants to know, what's one thing women should "have to" do in a relationship. Because, you know, I said men should have to kill bugs, all the bugs, always, period end.

    So I want the men to tell me, what's the nonnegotiable? What's one thing that by God a woman should always, always do in a relationship? Is this as foolish as asking y'all to define centrists? Whatever, I need an update opportunity, this one fell in my lap (after a reminder by this gal), and I'm taking it.

    Tell me what a woman's gotta do. Come on, be a sport, I don't ask this sort of thing every day, you know I don't. And I'll probably be fairly sorry I asked this time, too.

    Posted by Ilyka at 06:42 AM | Comments (28)

    July 29, 2004

    Stuck in the Middle

    Several--okay, many--weeks ago, I asked people to supply me with definitions of the terms "moderate" and "centrist."

    I had fascinating responses, but not much consensus, which eventually led me to the "duh" realization that the lack of consensus was inevitable. I was asking people to pin the tail on the great gray indeterminate blob of people who are invested in neither the right nor the left wing of American politics.

    See? Duh.

    Also too late, I realized that there are two distinct subsets of the middle: First, let's take the middle folks who don't care very much about politics at all. They either seldom vote, or vote without giving it much thought. Maybe they vote as their parents did, or as their in-laws would like, or the way their cousins who are "really up on these things" recommend, or the way that will ensure Norm Macdonald has another four years in which to refine his Bob Dole impression, or--

    Oh, wait. That last was me in 1996.

    How time flies.

    I think it was Tucker Carlson I heard recently define a "swing voter" as someone who wasn't well-versed in the issues, who didn't really care one way or the other; he put all swing voters into the first group. I thought that was a dismissive and ignorant way to refer to people who look at Kerry, look at Bush, wince, and go, "This is it? This is the best we can do? I got Chimp and Lurch to choose from? You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding."

    Some people will always be apathetic about voting. Some people will always be bored by politics. But it seemed to me that maybe some people were bored by politics because the choices they were given were so uninspiring. Maybe the poor quality of the candidates caused the apathy, or maybe the apathy caused the poor quality of the candidates, or maybe it was a combination of both.

    I think there is another subset of the middle: People who are cognizant of the issues, but can't quite marry up with either party's full platform. And I think I'm in that subset.

    I mentioned in a comment thread the other day that I'm a lousy Republican, and this is true politically and culturally. I support gay marriage. I am pro-choice. I favor increases to the minimum wage. I am leery of faith-based initiatives. Culturally, I'm a really lousy Republican: I like political correctness. There, I said it. I prefer "Asian-American" to "Oriental," "woman" to "lady," "Native American" to "Indian." I prefer that people be addressed and referred to with as much respect and consideration and politeness as can be afforded them.

    It gets worse: While I wouldn't support laws restricting their availability in any way, I nonetheless think SUVs suck, and I think if you're a single person who doesn't live in rough terrain or regularly face severe weather and you drive one, odds are good I'd find you a pretentious asshole. I don't believe that white Christian males are now the most discriminated segment of the populace. Gun nuts sometimes make me nervous. I secretly cheered at all the Bennett-bashing and, while not without sympathy for chronic pain sufferers, more than once during the to-do about Limbaugh's drug addiction I thought, "Y'know, if ever a guy had it coming . . . ."

    As I said to my brother in an email once, to me the proof that the Democratic Party has really fucked up the last four years is that by virtue of my background and positions on the issues, they should have me all sewn up--and they don't. I'm arrogant enough to view that as their failure, not mine.

    I voted for Bush in 2000. It's likely I will vote for him again this year. But I'm a terrible disgrace as a Republican.

    And I'd be just as terrible a Democrat, but my objections in that regard are simpler and easier for me to express, and can basically be summarized in two points:

    (1) I don't believe government can be a force for good; I believe it is simply a force that can be used to make its citizens do that which they would not otherwise do, period. Thus, I prefer that it be limited.

    (2) I don't believe a world without borders is achievable or desirable, and I don't support transnational progressivism.

    And we can further simplify those two points as, "I don't like the philosophical bent of either their domestic or their foreign policy."

    As nearly as I can tell, I am truly stuck in the middle, and that's not always a happy place to be. The funny thing about doing that little informal survey--or at least, the part that surprised me--was how many people assigned negative descriptions to words like "centrist" and "moderate." Moderates were people "afraid of being cut out of the local social group by taking a stand." A centrist was someone who was "on the fence" or, as my boyfriend put it, and he meant it unflatteringly, "Sandra Day O'Connor." And then there was the crazy dude who said a centrist was "one Mommy & Daddy didn't pay enough attention to within their childhood."

    Actually, I think that may have been my favorite comment.

    So I wasn't expecting to turn up these negative reactions, and then I thought about it some more and I thought I had as good an explanation for it as I was likely to get with my limited brain power: Whether you call someone a centrist, a moderate, or a swing voter, what you're probably talking about in essence is someone who won't just order off the menu.

    And let's face it, a lot of us hate that guy. You know the one. He's the guy who cuts you off at the drive-thru so he can special order everything. He's the guy you hate going to lunch with because his order is always such a production:

    "And for you, sir?"

    "Yeah, this skillet thing here--" [points]

    "The Ranchero Skillet, sir?"

    "Yeah--what's that come with?"

    (Everything the Ranchero Skillet comes with being listed, of course, in the menu.)

    "That comes with your choice of rice, beans, tortillas, biscuit, or papas con chile."

    "Lemme get a side salad with that."

    "Er, okay, sir, I think we can substitute that for you. Would you like just our house salad, or our Caesar?"

    "Hmm. Uhhhh . . . you got any lite dressing for the Caesar?"


    "Can I get that Caesar with lite dressing."

    "Ah, well, sir, we really only have one Caesar dressing available, but we do have a lite Ranch available with the house salad--"

    "Tell you what, how 'bout you just give me the Caesar dressing on the side."

    "Oh. Oh, certainly, sir."

    "And hold the croutons."

    [Writing] "Nooooo . . . croooou-tons . . . ."

    "Yeah, and tell them to leave the jalapenos outta my skillet. They gimme heartburn. Oh, and can I get mozzarella on toppa that instead of the colby-jack? I'm tryin' to watch my fat intake."

    No one likes that guy. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that some people find moderates annoying. Why can't they just choose a platform and stick with it? Why can't they just order off the damn menu?

    How many people out there this year, I wonder, don't like the menu?

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:28 PM | Comments (11)

    July 09, 2004

    Something I Hope We Can All Agree On

    This is great news:

    A U.S. Marine who was reported missing in Iraq more than two weeks ago is alive and at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where American officials are meeting with him, authorities said Thursday.

    Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is safe and appears to be in good health, said a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    The joy his family must be feeling I cannot imagine. While it appears there are some unusual circumstances to this case, for the moment I'm just happy he's on his way home, head intact.

    This is not such good news. Not surprising, perhaps:

    The U.S. has ``credible'' evidence that al-Qaeda is planning a large-scale attack to try to ``disrupt our democratic process,'' Ridge said. The U.S. terror alert level, now at yellow indicating ``elevated'' risk, won't be raised, he said.

    ``We lack precise knowledge about time, place and method of attack,'' Ridge said. ``But along with the CIA, FBI and other agencies, we are actively working to gain that knowledge.''

    Only tangentially related, maybe, but I'm going to get this off my mind while I'm thinking about it: If there's one thing I dislike, it's conservative pundits and would-be pundits using news like this to harp on the theme that a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists. The rationale goes that because terrorists used the Madrid bombing to influence the outcome of the Spanish elections, they're now planning to use a "large-scale attack" in the U.S. to influence ours. And because it's a given that they probably wouldn't be doing this to influence more people to vote for Bush, it must mean the terrorists prefer Kerry. So a vote for Kerry . . . .

    If you're going to say something that'll make you enemies, you might as well say it bluntly, so I will: That's fucking un-American, you pricks.

    Yeah, un-American. Because in this country we don't tell people "vote such-and-such because that will keep out the terrorists" anymore than we say "be more like France because that will keep out the terrorists."

    In a democratic republic, the people are sovereign and every person eligible to vote is trusted to vote in accordance with his or her beliefs. You can hate another person's beliefs, you can argue with them, you can promote your own as superior to theirs--all that's fair game. But don't tell people they're voting for terrorists if at the end of the day you have failed to reach them and they still want to vote Kerry.

    We are not supposed to be a nation that lets thugs, despots, murderers and rogues tell us what to do. If you won't let terrorism keep you from going to D.C. or New York this fall, you shouldn't let it tell you who to vote for, either.

    (End soapbox.)

    I want to thank everybody who helped out on the centrist post today. You amaze me, all of you. I'd particularly like to thank the bloggers who linked it and pimp 'em if I may: CrabAppleLane, which recently celebrated its fourth (yes, fourth) year of weblogging goodness; Everyday Stranger, all done up in some beautiful new skins (my fave is definitely the callbox, but they're all terrifically elegant, just like the author); Feministe, where many of my favorite posts out of the past are being reposted for inclusion in the archives after a freak blogging accident; Snooze Button Dreams, whose proprietor is on limited posting duty while getting settled into his new home and whose proprietor's mama never had her name on a "D" paper; and Various Orthodoxies, where the author and wife are expecting a new arrival "any day now" (congratulations!)

    I'll try to get something up tomorrow on the subject. Of course, then it will be Friday, and traffic really falls off over the weekend, and . . . .

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:49 AM | Comments (6)

    July 08, 2004

    Define Centrist

    [Sticky post alert: This stays up top until I get more responses. If you have a weblog of your own, you can help me out by linking it. Thanks!]

    [Thanks, everybody. Overall quality of the responses was phenomenal.]

    This is where I really wish I ever bothered to put a proper effort into maintaining this weblog, because I wish I had the traffic to do a large-scale survey. I don't, though, so I'll just ask you fine people:

    Politically, what do you consider "moderate" or "centrist?" I mean, can you give me a sort of sample profile of a centrist? Maybe 1-3 lines describing where they'd likely be on various issues?

    I know that totally sounds like I'm trying to assign the internet homework or something, but really, I'd like to know what lots of people think about this. I'd like to know even if you yourself are happily esconced on one of the far ends of the political spectrum--you can still tell me what positions you think qualify as centrist or moderate.

    And oh please dear God do not anyone get up in my face and nitpick my framing of the question or my methodology or any of that, like some of y'all engineering types like to do. I'm just asking a damn question. If you don't like the question, don't answer it. Cool?

    I have an enormous post I'd like to write about this whole deal, but I need input. So if you'd like to, be my input. (I know, it sounds so dirty put like that.)

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:59 PM | Comments (27)

    June 27, 2004

    Your "Heh, Indeed" Moment of the Week

    Best Google search string ever to bring me a visitor: "Enough with the beheadings." I'm just gonna filch a phrase off of Helen and say "Damn straight, skippy."

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:13 AM | Comments (0)

    May 22, 2004

    Robert McNamara Is Ruining My Relationship

    So the boyfriend rented The Fog of War last night. He had the decency to watch it alone while I was working; thus was I spared excessive exposure to that carp-lipped gasbag.

    But at one point I walked through the room just as the camera had zoomed in for a closeup of the former defense secretary.

    "Uccch," I remarked.

    "What's the matter?" the boyfriend jeered, "this movie wasn't Instapundit-approved?"

    Now that was low, people. He knows I don't like Instapundit. I read him maybe twice a month at the most, and then only when I've been directed there by bloggers I like better.

    "It's not that," I said. "Don't bring politics into this. It's that face. It's threatening to consume the entire screen."

    "Well, see, he just made a startling point and the director wanted to emphasize it," he explained. "He just said that if we had lost World War II, we would be considered the war criminals. Kind of gives you something to think about, huh?"

    I looked at my boyfriend for several seconds.

    "Duh," I managed finally.

    "Well, but it's so rare to hear someone admit that. I mean we made some really indiscriminate and unwarranted attacks even before Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We wiped out entire villages, thousands of innocent civilians--"

    "Dear," I interrupted, "that is the sort of pseudo-profundity I expect to hear from a stoned undergraduate. 'Dude, check it: The whole notion of war crimes is like, subjective, you know? I mean . . . I mean, what if we hadn't won World War II? We'd be the war criminals then, man. Like Dresden, right, that was some indiscriminate bullshit.'"

    It was his turn to pause.

    "Okay," he replied eventually. "That doesn't make what we did right."

    "No, but how about maybe Japan shouldn't have brought the shit in the first place."

    Pause again. "True."

    But you know something, I don't think that really convinced him. I think there are a lot of people who believe it's always down to us to be beyond reproach, no matter what. I think there are a lot of people who believe war is bad, period, without having formulated an adequate solution to the problem of what to do when war barges in uninvited.

    It's the equivalent of trying to tell the school bully that you forgive him, that you understand him, that you're ready to reach out to him in the spirit of brotherhood--while he's slamming your head into a mud puddle and demanding you cry uncle.

    It's exhausting me. It's wearing me out--the "No, but . . . ." Because that's the nature of the answers I get when I ask questions about what our response to September 11 should have been instead. "Do you think we should have sought instead to try Osama bin Laden in the International Criminal Court?" "No, but . . . ." "Do you think it would have made more sense for us to invade Saudi Arabia, the country that houses the most holy sites in Islam?" "No, but . . . ." "Do you have any suggestions for what we could have done instead?" "No, but . . . ."

    What I'm seeing is, there is no "instead." No one has any practical solutions--just criticisms of the solutions we're pursuing now.

    I don't mind hearing the criticisms. But damnit, I have just enough engineer in me to expect that along with the criticisms, you better suggest an alternative. Otherwise those criticisms aren't worth the air you breathed to voice them.

    Michele is right: This country's split deep, and it's rapidly gettng personal:

    The last two weeks have cemented whatever line there was between the left and the right. Abu Ghraib has become the definitive dividing point and the break is irreparable. I had my first political fight with my best friend this morning. We've been friends for fourteen years and have had differing politics since day one, but we've debated, talked, and discussed and never fought. Today, we fought. We raised our voices. We had an angry edge to our words.
    Maybe it started with the 2000 election and September 11 only widened the chasm. Maybe it started even before that. But right now, I'd sum up the split this way: It's between the people who think this is Vietnam all over again, and the people who think this is World War II all over again. No wonder we can't get any common ground under our feet--we can't even figure out which war this is.

    Trying to decide which war it is merely divides us and wastes our time--and that sucks, because we know who the enemy is. Those who still weren't quite sure in the wake of September 11 had it spelled out for them:

    This is a conflict without battlefields or beachheads, a conflict with opponents who believe they are invisible. Yet, they are mistaken. They will be exposed, and they will discover what others in the past have learned: Those who make war against the United States have chosen their own destruction. Victory against terrorism will not take place in a single battle, but in a series of decisive actions against terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.
    But no, let's complain that it was only one sarin gas container (that Dick Cheney planted there anyway). Let's complain that containment was "working," where by "working" we mean "killing Kurds and Iraqis by the thousands." Let's complain that Bush didn't take al Qaeda seriously enough before September 11, even though the hard truth of the matter is that no one took al Qaeda seriously enough before September 11. Let's complain, let's complain, let's complain. Because everyone knows that complaining gets things done.

    The worst thing is that's all I'm doing here--complaining. Complaining about the complainers.

    Posted by Ilyka at 10:45 PM | Comments (14)

    May 12, 2004

    Bring Da Noise, Bring Da Hate

    So I take it we have a few--perhaps more than a few--people in this country who believe acts of terror committed against American civilians are a just punishment for the sins of American foreign policy. And why not?--It is, after all, what Osama bin Laden believes himself:

    We believe that this administration represents Israel inside America. Take the sensitive ministries such as the Ministry of Exterior and the Ministry of Defense and the CIA, you will find that the Jews have the upper hand in them. They make use of America to further their plans for the world, especially the Islamic world. American presence in the Gulf provides support to the Jews and protects their rear. And while millions of Americans are homeless and destitute and live in abject poverty, their government is busy occupying our land and building new settlements and helping Israel build new settlements in the point of departure for our Prophet's midnight journey to the seven heavens. America throws her own sons in the land of the two Holy Mosques for the sake of protecting Jewish interests. ...

    The American government is leading the country towards hell. ... We say to the Americans as people and to American mothers, if they cherish their lives and if they cherish their sons, they must elect an American patriotic government that caters to their interests not the interests of the Jews. If the present injustice continues with the wave of national consciousness, it will inevitably move the battle to American soil, just as Ramzi Yousef and others have done. This is my message to the American people. I urge them to find a serious administration that acts in their interest and does not attack people and violate their honor and pilfer their wealth.

    And I take it some people in this country believe that flushing out the current administration will get the terrorists off our backs. That if we just quit antagonizing them, they'll leave us alone.

    And I bet these people read the statement above and assume "the American government" that is "leading the country towards hell" is the one we got right now.

    Guess again.

    There's one thing we could possibly do, as a nation, to appease bin Laden and his followers: Abandon all support for Israel.

    Then again, the UN did this long ago. And last I checked, there's still a price on Kofi Annan's head.

    There is no appeasement in this war. Don't kid yourselves. Don't equate Abu Ghraib and this. They aren't equal. Our nation will receive no apologies. The perpetrators of this barbarity will receive no punishment. We will see no justice; indeed, we have yet to see any justice, any apology, any attempt to make amends to us, for September 11.

    Electing John Kerry will not make the terrorists any happier.

    They'll be happier when we're all dead or living in dhimmitude.

    Which do you prefer? Because I vote "none of the above."

    And today, I really wish our first response to September 11 had been--oh, let's haul out the handwringing journalists' favorite adjective--"disproportionate."

    I'll get past that. But I'm not going to be sidetracked anymore, off into all these petty little arguments over whether America acted "unilaterally," whether we should have done more to support the "road map," whether the conditions at Abu Ghraib were generated from the top down or the bottom up, yada yada yada . . . hey, here: Have a big cup of shut the fuck up.

    I'm sorry Zeyad's cousin died. I'm sorry we mistreated and tortured the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. I'm sorry some pro-war people go off the deep end from time to time, and holler at the very people we're trying to help. I'm sorry we sometimes stomp on the hearts and minds we're trying to win.

    But mostly, I'm sorry that America's reputation for trying to do the right thing has been exploited so often by her enemies. (Link courtesy Ghost of a Flea, via Absinthe & Cookies.)

    And I'm really sorry that so many in the Middle East fail to understand that we don't have to keep being this nice. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. We do it because we value life enough not to want to take it wantonly.

    And I'll be shedding no tears if, or when, we decide it's No More Mr. Nice Guy.

    You think Abu Ghraib was not nice? Because we can show you "not nice," boys. In fact, I seem to recall we showed the world "not nice" once already.

    UPDATE: Several people have said this better than I did; blogging remains for me a daily exercise in humility. From Little Miss Attila:

    We are not the rich spoiled people you see on television. We are not the people of the obesity epidemic, who gorge on McDonald's food and never exercise. We are not the sex addicts, the beer men who go to strip clubs for a cheap thrill on a Saturday night. We're much, much more than that, and each time the jihadists try to prove how weak we are they will be dealt another crippling blow until they have trouble finding a goddamned Western kitten to kidnap and torment.
    And Serenity:
    The issue is, there is a war on. This is a serious war. The war on terror. The war on our very way of life. We aren't taking it seriously. We're acting like a pack of imbecellic brats running around inside a burning building, refusing to let anyone out the door until we've all had a good swing at each other. All the while not realizing we are dooming oursleves in the process.

    What's it going to take? How much must we endure before we go back to a country who respectfully disagrees? How far must we go before we can stand together as a country, as one, as Americans against the...well fuck, the forces of evil?

    I think the first thing it's going to take is a widespread acknowledgement and acceptance of the existence of evil. Because there remain too many who deny that evil exists. That's "simplistic" thinking. That's "cowboy movie" thinking. That's "black and white" thinking.

    And to them I say: Every time you sit before a computer, you are looking at a product of black and white logic.

    Some things are binary. The war against islamofascist terror is one of them.

    Posted by Ilyka at 02:46 AM | Comments (2)

    May 11, 2004

    Think Happy Thoughts

    It gets harder to do every day, doesn't it?

    Nope, no escapism going on here.

    Enjoy the happy while you got it. Tomorrow I expect to blog up one big unhappy, where "tomorrow" in this usage is understood to mean "whenever I feel good and ready to do it."

    I'm sure you understand.

    UPDATE: Can I get an amen?

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:54 PM | Comments (6)

    May 08, 2004

    I Guess It Never Really Gets Old for Some People

    Apparently there's an event scheduled for Tuesday night, May 11, in Dallas, at the Adolphus Hotel Omni Hotel: A . . . discussion? Panel? Debate? Topic: "Who Killed Jesus?" They have a rabbi and a guy from some program in Semitic studies speaking.

    I think it's free, registration not required. I'd like to go, but that's a work night for me. Could I get the night off?--HAHAHAHA! Oh. Oh, my. You're good.

    And no, I don't have more information at the moment, but I'll update this once I get some. It was a commercial spot on this station, and I simply didn't catch all the details.

    My point right now is that if someone in Dallas wants to go and provide a summary of the evening, I'd sure welcome it. If you have a blog, I'll link the piece. If you don't, e-mail me and I'll credit you.

    Only very very tangentially related: Is it juvenile of me to question the thinking of the person who approved this headline?

    UPDATE 05/07/2004: The information:

    Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2004
    Time: 7:30 p.m.
    Admission: Free, open to the public
    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Director of the L'Chaim Society
    Dr. Michael Brown, New York University School of Semitic Studies
    Location: Omni Hotel, 1590 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway

    If you're thinking both the speakers sound a little . . . eccentric . . . I'd have to agree. And I still have no idea who's sponsoring this, which I think would answer a few big questions that'd help me decide whether to go.

    This might be a big nothing. Then again, I almost never call in sick to work.

    Posted by Ilyka at 01:31 AM | Comments (1)

    May 06, 2004

    Doing the Things That I Can't Do

    Yes, it's more of that "inside blogging" blogging I've promised not to do. Hit the blogroll on the left there if you're not interested.

    You know what one of my favorite comments was? It was on this post, where someone said:

    That article [this one: http://www.rightwingnews.com/archives/week_2004_04_11.PHP#001939 --ed.] pissed me off to no end and made me so angry that I couldn't even write about [it].
    So maybe I'm getting too puffed up about myself here, but I was sort of happier than ever that I'd written what I had, because I felt like I helped someone out in a sense. See, I'm so grateful when I read something that makes me see red, or reduces me to inarticulate rage and nausea, and then maybe a day or two later . . . someone else handles it. Whew! I think, thank goodness it wasn't just me.

    Wait long enough, and some other blogger will say what you wanted to say better than you could ever say it. It's a beautiful thing.

    Right now I wish someone else would say it.

    Because I can't. Said!

    It is to do with this general topic:

    We really should be more tolerant towards abusers, don't you think?

    But not specifically. For specifics, please email me.

    Or don't. I'll spend the next few hours feeling sick regardless. Not that I'm trying to guilt anyone or anything. It's just the fucking way it is.

    Posted by Ilyka at 08:29 PM

    April 29, 2004

    Obvious Observation

    It doesn't matter how often you poke it with a stick: a dead animal's still dead, and it ain't gettin' up no more.

    For something so obvious, you'd be amazed how seldom it registers.

    Posted by Ilyka at 09:51 AM | Comments (5)

    April 20, 2004

    Isolated Incidents

    I'm sure it isn't a new observation, but for all the talk about it, there are ultimately only two ways of looking at September 11:

    1. As a crime;
    2. As a declaration of war.

    If you look at it as a crime, you're likely to think hunting down Osama bin Laden is Job 1. And you're likely to be persuaded by guys like Richard Clarke who say we botched Job 1 and went into Iraq to distract from that.

    If you look at it as a declaration of war, you're likely to think it's time we quit leaving parts of the Middle East to fester in a sludge of anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, totalitarianism and theocracy, and then you're likely to formulate plans that seek to correct that.

    It's ironic to me that many of the people who wailed about "root causes" can't figure out that root causes are exactly what we're overseas trying to address.

    We just don't think "not ratifying Kyoto" counts as one of those root causes.

    I asked once whether anyone thought it was crucial that we capture bin Laden, and I said that personally, I didn't think it was. Everything I've read about al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist networks characterizes it as a loosely-networked organization, more flat than hierarchic, operating on a system of low-level rules (and in that sense sharing a characteristic of emergent systems). And if you know even the tiniest thimbleful about emergent systems, you know that such systems do not require a leader.

    It doesn't matter whether bin Laden's alive or dead. It matters as an emotional issue only, as a matter of pride: "We got bin Laden! USA! USA!"

    But it's not going to change the operation of al Qaeda one bit.

    The only thing that's going to change the operation of al Qaeda is for it to lose popular support among Muslims. And that's only going to happen if Muslims decide that blowing themselves up for the sake of jihad isn't as good a deal as staying alive is. And they're only going to decide that when their countries are as peaceful and as happy and as stable as most free Western nations are.

    Now you can argue whether George W. Bush had any business attempting to bring such conditions about in the Middle East, or whether it was a fool's dream from the beginning, or even whether it was a good idea but botched in execution; but if you do not view the events of September 11 as an isolated incident--if you view them instead as a call to arms, you can't really argue that hauling Osama before some international kangaroo court is an effective solution to the problem of radical Islamist terrorism.

    WHY I LOVE COMMENTS UPDATE 04/22/2004: In the comments below, Bernard notes a potential negative ramification of nabbing bin Laden. Feel free to disagree, of course, but it's something I hadn't considered, so I thought I'd point it out. Thanks, man.

    Posted by Ilyka at 11:28 PM | Comments (8)

    April 11, 2004

    Reason Enough

    . . . not to give up on Iraq: It would be bad strategery:

    It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", or "replace them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess to the end. Only a deluded utopian (or an idiot peace activist) would believe that Iraqis would all cosily sit down and settle down their endless disputes without AK-47's, RPG's, or mortars in the event of coalition troops abandoning Iraq. Please please don't get me wrong, I am not in the least saying that I enjoy being occupied by a foreign force, I am not a dreamer who believes that the USA is here for altruistic reasons, I am not saying that I am happy with what my bleeding country is going through, believe me when I say it tears my heart every day to witness all the bloodshed, it pains me immensely to see that we have no leaders whomsoever with the interest and well-being of Iraq as their primary goal, it kills me to see how blind and ignorant we have all become. Iraqis are dying inside every day, and we are committing suicide over and over and over. Some people call me a traitor or a collaborator for all the above and for speaking the truth as opposed to rhetorical, fiery speeches which have been our downfall.
    I don't call him a collaborator. I call Zeyad a man with no illusions. He certainly doesn't open the post with anything like optimism:
    A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores. All signs indicate that it's all spiralling out of control, and any statements by CPA and US officials suggesting otherwise are blatantly absurd.
    Goddamnit, get more troops over there, and to hell with what the New York Times will say about it. If those commission hearings this last week have taught me anything, it's that there is no "win" with the appeasement crowd. Nothing is good enough, nothing is sufficient or even barely adequate, and if anyone connected to Bush does it, it's not only not good enough, it's outrageous! and evil! and criminally negligent!

    I'm not playing those games anymore. If you expect me to believe that any attempt by the Bush administration to prevent September 11 would have been greeted with anything other than cries of horror and consternation and moans of "Oh, oh, this is terrible . . . how could we let the Supreme Court select us this RIGHT-WING WARMONGER?" you're high, and I mean, you have got some primo stuff in that pipe.

    Take your bitterness about the 2000 election, if you have any, and shove it straight up your ass. Better yet, why don't you e-mail Zeyad and try to get him to care about it?

    "Hi, Zeyad. I'm sitting in my comfy home typing this to you in your miserable circumstances just to tell you that everything would be okey-doke in your world if only Gore had become president. But don't worry. We will elect Kerry this time and he will send the troops home and your countrymen can finally really get down to business on that whole 'killing each other' thing. I guess that's more a win for me than for you, but I am scared there will be a draft, you see. Well that's all for now. Bye."

    See how far you get with that one.

    Posted by Ilyka at 12:31 AM | Comments (2)

    April 08, 2004

    Odds & Sods

    (That title is a little too too, isn't it? Oh well. You get what you get around here.)

    In between the drudgery of chores and errands I will most likely be checking in here, for the transcripts of the Condoleeza Rice testimony. And someone remind me to put up a link to the Command Post on my blogroll. Oh, and to snag that flag graphic Jim did up (in response to this). I swear I am the laziest person about site maintenance. Not good. Not good at all.

    Other things:

  • This is an apology. In fact, if ever you're in doubt about how to apologize to someone, just use that as a template. Note the brevity. Apologies need not contain the story of your childhood.

  • "Welcome to the internet (wear a cup)." Am I linking it because it arose out of an offhand comment I made in an e-mail to Jim? You bet I'm linking it because of that. But also, because I feel guilty that I can't afford to buy Jim's CafePress stuff, but maybe some of you can, and might. Anyway, the whole elegant line of items is here.

  • Don't tell S-Train which black folks to like and which to scorn. In fact, if you want my advice, you don't tell S-Train anything. That's why I love him.

  • Idle question of such shallowness and froth that I should be ashamed of it, but I'm not: is wankette.blogspot.com taken? (If the permalinks are sketchy, search out the post titled "Wonkette Accuses Republican Women of Being Lesbian; Invents Stunning New Pun on Name 'Bush'.")

  • I'm not proud of this, but I'm bad enough with numbers that I can't follow the math in this article from 09/2003. (Also, I know I snagged the link to it from somewhere this past week, but do you think I remember where I found it? Ha!) I can, however, work out the reasoning, and now I wish I'd found the damn thing earlier. So . . . do I get partial credit? No? Boy. You people aren't nearly as kind as my bus driver. He always tells me how special I am. Some day I will drive that bus myself.

    Posted by Ilyka at 07:45 PM | Comments (1)
  • April 07, 2004

    Ilyka's Law of Comments

    The dumber the post, the greater the number of comments.

    What, you doubt me?

    UPDATE 04/07/2004: And three trackbacks? Somewhere, some dude who just concluded four hours of research, drafting, editing, and posting, in an attempt to become the next God of Blogdom Foreign Policy, is crying.

    Posted by Ilyka at 05:08 AM | Comments (8)

    March 31, 2004

    Gives Me an Idea

    Look, I admit it: That whole "Bush Lied, People Died!" thing is kinda catchy in its way. Why can't we get something going on like that? What, you mean there isn't a single Republican who went into marketing out there? Not one? I don't buy that. Especially not if the marketing guys I've known are anything to go by.

    Maybe we don't need a marketing guy, in fact. I never saw that they did much other than pester the secretaries (who I understand prefer to be referred to as--oh, you know, to hell with it. You're secretaries, okay? S-e-c-r-e-t-a-r-i-e-s. Not "executive assistants.") . . . anyway, I think we can bypass the marketing people on this one. I'll start:

    Bush Peed, Iraqis Freed

    No, that's terrible. Scratch that.

    Bush Called, Saddam Falled

    And that's just plain ungrammatical, is what that is. This is harder than it looks.

    Bush Won, Qusay's Done

    Okay, that might be the first one that doesn't flat out suck, but surely we can do better.

    Bush Spoke, France is Broke

    Hmm . . . alas, not yet.

    Did I mention that this is harder than it looks?

    Bush Works, You're Jerks

    That isn't helping the spirit of debate at all, that one.

    Bush Led, Osama Fled

    Oh, like you've heard from him lately.

    Anyway. Top 'em in the comments if you get inspired. Me, I think I just learned why I never majored in marketing.

    UPDATE 03/31/2004: How come all I'm getting is Kerry-bashing? Er, not that there's anything wrong with that . . . but I wanted something to address the war from a perspective 180 degrees from "Bush Lied, People Died." Focus, people! Focus!

    Posted by Ilyka at 04:28 PM | Comments (7)