Tuesday, December 21, 2004

On the importance of adhering to gender stereotypes

Or, you go on a date with the gender roles that you have, not the gender roles that you might want or wish to have.

Okay, so every couple of years, a new theory is born on men and women and how they should or should not relate to each other. A few years ago, the big deal was The Rules - quite literally a rulebook for women, an instruction manual to teach them how to take back the power in their interaction with men, pretty much by playing hard-to-get. When to call, when not to call, how far in advance to set dates, how long to wait before sleeping with a guy - Rules. And it was a big deal. And some women thought it was a great idea, and some thought it was a lousy idea, but most people had something to say.

Now, the newest and biggest is He's Just Not That Into You, a phrase which "Sex and the City" viewers will recognize from that show because the book was written by the writers of, well, that show. The idea behind this book is that women always make excuses for guys, why they don't call, why they're inattentive, when, for the most part, he's just not that into her. It's refreshing, really, kind of a strong cup of coffee for women who try to relate to men the way they relate to other women. It doesn't ask anyone to change their ways for someone else; it just requires men to be men and women to accept that. And I can accept that.


Except that men aren't always men. Sometimes, men are just as womany as women are. Despite the fact that men are supposed to be predictably and penis-centric and generally mannish, some men will insist on being multifaceted and multilayered and on playing little mind games. And while everyone has the right to be only as straightforward as they choose to be, it really confuses the hell out of everyone when some crazy rebel man chooses to reject the stereotype and play mind games. Or, for that matter, when a woman chooses to reject the stereotype and be straightforward and upfront (and guys, don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about).

So here's my pledge to men: I promise to be the girliest damn girl out there. I promise to never really tell you what's on my mind. I promise that if you ask what's wrong and I say "nothing," there really is something wrong. I promise never to remind you in advance of special occasions, and then to get my feelings hurt when you forget. I promise to take two hours to get ready for a date, to have the chef prepare my entire meal without butter, and to drag you only to movies with a John Williams score and actors far hotter than you. I promise to get offended when you don't call, to smother you with affection in front of your tough-guy friends, and to smack you publicly for checking out a perfectly attractive girl in a short skirt. I promise to push for girlfriend status two weeks into the relationship, to keep a toothbrush at your place, and to give you cutesy stuffed animals at every gift-giving occasion.

In return, I ask you to be mannish. Not manly - mannish. You must always speak your mind, even when tact would tell you to shut up. You must wear jeans to nice restaurants, and ripped jeans on more casual outings. You must ignore me whenever you work on your car - and you must spend at least two hours a day working on your car. You must call me up only when you're looking for tail. You must show affection with a firm slap on the ass, never commit to a date more than two hours in the future, and blow off dinner and a movie if one of your friends just bought a new firearm. You must tell wild stories to your friends about what a firecracker I am in the sack so that they leer at me whenever they see me. When I start talking to you, your eyes must glaze over a minute and a half into the conversation.

It's not pretty, but it's consistent.

Now, you might ask, wouldn't it just be easier to be straightforward? Would the world truly implode if a woman said what was really on her mind, instead of trying to figure out in advance what his reaction might be and adjust her statement accordingly and then complain because he doesn't know the real her and she just isn't being fulfilled? Could the apocalypse really come of a guy telling a girl that he's not interested in her romantically but would love to get a beer sometime - or, alternately, that he's interested in her only sexually and that she should expect attention from him only when he's trying to get some?

Well, uh, yeah.

Friday, December 10, 2004

On going to war with the Army you have

Okay, so Donald Rumsfeld has a message for American troops stationed in Iraq: Go home and die.

Okay, well, not really, but he got pretty close to it in Wednesday's "town hall"-style meeting at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. Spc. Thomas Wilson had the testicular fortitude to stand up at said meeting and ask, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"

Good question, really. And Rumsfeld's answer, after he hemmed and hawwed and had the question repeated like a contestant in the national spelling bee, came up with a peach of an answer: screw you. "You go to war with the Army you have," he said, "not the Army you might want or wish to have," then went on to explain that "you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can (still) be blown up."

Wow, that's profound and comforting. And not at all negligent of his responsibilities to the soldiers and Marines that, as Secretary of freaking Defense, he is personally sending into battle. How the man can be so blase about the issue of properly arming and protecting his troops is beyond me. Or maybe it's not. I mean, if you think about it, Rummy isn't in any danger. Outside of his occasional Iraqi field trips, in which he tries to raise troop morale by telling them that he needn't bother arming them 'cause they could just die anyway, he splits his time between the Pentagon and the White House. The man's idea of body armor is having the right kind of cup on when he plays squash on Thursday. The thought of actually having someone shoot anything harder than a marshmallow at him is beyond his ken. Which is why when the troops actually wanted his support, it was "you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can still be blown up," but when he needed to save face and look like a team player, "we must prevail" and "we must win."

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I will point out the recent discovery that the National Guardsman posing the question in question was actually coached by a reporter. Embedded reporter Edward Lee Pitts, upon hearing that troops and only troops would be allowed to ask questions at the meeting, got together with a couple of guardsmen beforehand to make sure his question was asked. In a further completely boneheaded move, considering that things like this always come out in the end, Pitts failed to mention his own role in the proceedings when he filed his story that evening.

As a journalist (such as I am), I'm kind of pissed at this guy. With all of the recent controversy over the role of embedded reporters in the War on Terra, this Pitts guy certainly isn't making us look any better. The general sentiment from much of the military is that the media is sneaking around, looking for all kinds of underhanded ways to nail them, and as good as Pitts's intentions might have been, that's kind of what he did here.

None of that, however, changes the question that was asked and the answer that was given. It doesn't change the fact that our troops are scrounging in junkyards to ghetto-rig armor for their Humvees, it doesn't change the fact that families are saving their pennies in order to send body armor to their sons and daughters in Iraq, and it doesn't change the fact that, when faced with all of this head-on, Rummy threw up his hands and said, "Wow, that wacky war! What can you do, huh?" Here's a thought, Rummy: you're driving around downtown D.C. when you hit the brakes, fail to stop and slide right into the back end of a van full of special-needs children on their way to the Washington Zoo. When you hit the OnStar button to chew out Keith on the other end, he's unsympathetic. "Listen, Mr. Rumsfeld," he says, "you drive that Cadillac with the brakes you have, not the brakes you might want to have."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

On liberals in academia

Okay, so Steven Lubet responds to conservatives who cry discrimination in higher education:
Beyond the ivy walls, there are many professions that are dominated by Republicans. You will find very few Democrats (and still fewer outright liberals) among the ranks of corporate CEOs, military officers or professional football coaches. Yet no one complains about these imbalances, and conservatives will explain that the seeming disparities are the result of market forces.

And they are probably right.

It is entirely rational for conservatives to flock to jobs that reward competition, aggression, self-interest and victory. So it should not be surprising that liberals gravitate to professions - such as academics, journalism, social work and the arts - that emphasize inquiry, objectivity and the free exchange of ideas.

Uh, I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

Friday, December 03, 2004

On catching up, and on morals

Okay, so in the hustle and bustle of all the hustling and bustling I've had to do lately, I've gotten a little behind in my slinging of snark and airing of the world's dirty laundry. I've got some time to catch up now, and I'll start at the top with the A's: from Atrios comes some interesting news about morals and voters, and who really cares about what. Says Frank Rich of the New York Times:

It's beginning to look a lot like "Groundhog Day." Ever since 22 percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about "moral values," opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant F.C.C. and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks. Seizing on a single overhyped poll result, they exaggerate their clout, hoping to grab power over the culture.

It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).

So let me take a beat to get this entirely straight: in 1996, when 40% of Americans had morals on the brain, they chose to re-elect lyin', cheatin', Big-Mac-eatin', b.j.-in-the-Oval-Office-gettin' President Bill Clinton. Eight years later, Bush gets re-elected with just over half of that "morality vote," just over half of the popular vote, and suddenly he has a mandate. Not to mention the fact that every Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson is now demanding that Bush kowtow to the supposedly ubermoral conservative majority by appointing conservative Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and pushing for a federal gay marriage amendment.

Now, I actually have conservative friends (as a matter of fact, two out of three conservatives declare me "too cool to be a liberal," which may or may not be a good thing), and none of them are the hyperreligious wingnut types that are currently pushing for the Jesusland concept of America. And they - even the religious ones - all view morals completely differently from the extremist Evangelical Jesus-pimps who are currently taking credit for Bush's slim victory and who won't rest until every school teaches creationist science, every sex education program is abstinence-only, and every single American citizen is as judgmental as they are.

I want to make something clear: I have nothing against Christians. I am one. I like it a lot; it's a good train. I have Evangelical friends and family members who are lovely and loving and generally peachy. But I, as well as the aforementioned religious friends/family, have nothing in common with the Religious Right nutcases who give Christianity a bad name. We're reading the same book and getting two completely different stories. And if that's what it takes to be "moral" in America today, I guess I don't want to be right. But it's sure looking like the numbers are in my favor.

Slightly off-topic: New Practically Harmless hanger-on and conservative bass fisherman Ryan points out that the blog seems to view all Bush voters as naive little toddler types who have been tragically misled by the President of the United States. As a person who watches the news and researches issues thoroughly before taking a political position, he objects to this. Reasonable and open-minded as I am, I agree to make the following concession: While many Bush voters are, in fact, tragically misinformed and led astray by the administration, a good many take a great interest in the issues and voted for Bush with all of the facts firmly in place, which makes them merely stupid.*

Note: This statement was made completely tongue-in-cheek, in a sense of fun and joking. Recent family conflicts and a particular post on GWBWYPGN?! have called attention to the fact that since the election, Democrats have consistently stereotyped Bush voters as stupid for voting as they did. While in some ways, this is only fair, as Republicans consistently stereotype Kerry voters as immoral, it's also a huge and inaccurate generalization. The management of Practically Harmless recognizes that both parties are resplendent with brilliant minds, and that in light of that, those brilliant minds need to get a sense of humor. I kid because I love. So choke on it.

On good deeds

Okay, so many of you have wondered why I haven't been updating in the past couple of weeks. Or, rather, I'm sure you've been wondering, and it's only the fact that you're paralyzed with worry over my wellbeing that has prevented you from at least checking up on me or something.

Anyway. The answer is basically that I've been hella busy with work and whatnot, the majority of the "whatnot" being preparations for the holidays (shopping, decorating, selling my kidneys on E-bay to afford the whole thing). And actually, that's something that you, my darling reader(s), can help me with - I'm looking for charitable swag. Check out Doug's post on the subject at GWBWYPGN?! for the full poop, but basically, we're not doing the usual Christmastime Parade of Useless and Unwanted Crap in the Practically Harmless household this year. Instead, we're taking the money that would have been spent on presents that would, in all likelihood, go unused and/or unappreciated and just take up space in an already cluttered world, and donate that money to a worthy charity.

I'm breaking the rules a litle this year - darling brother pointed out that "don't buy me anything for Christmas" is kind of this family's "please oh please don't throw me in that briar patch," and besides, everyone likes opening up stuff at Christmas, even if it's not a lot of stuff. So here's your assignment: coe up with worthy charities that offer swag. I'm compiling a list of those that I've already found, but as you come across spiffy items whose proceeds go to a charity, throw me a note under Comments, and I'll give you appropriate props. And of course we can't ignore those good causes that don't offer swag - there are multitudes of folks out there who are, in whatever way and for whatever reason, less fortunate than I/you/we are.

Peace. Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah, joyous Ramadan, perky Kwanzaa.

Charities with merchandise:
Until There's a Cure - $25 gets you a silver-plated cuff bracelet with raised AIDS ribbon; feel free to go crazy and drop $400 on the same in 14k gold. Both fashionable and socially conscious, the bracelets have raised over $6,000,000 for HIV/AIDS charities
America's Second Harvest - $25 buys you a pack of five holiday cards that are, in fact, kind of cute - even to me, and I abhor cuteness. And the money goes to feed the homeless.
Miracle Ties from Jos. A. Bank - $49.50 gets you a silk necktie designed by pediatric oncology patients at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. 100% of the profits go to benefit the Children's Center.

Charities that are way worthy anyway:
Wounded Warrior Project (from Ryan) - $99 will buy a backpack filled with clothes, toiletries and "comfort items" for a soldier wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. If that's a bit pricey for you, smaller donations are happily accepted.
American Red Cross - Accepts donations of not only money but also stock, spare change, "in-kind" products, and even airline miles.
Books for Soldiers (from B) - Accepts donations of new and used books and DVDs to hand out to bored soldiers - those deployed and those in VA hospitals. B points out that shipping has actually stopped until after the holidays, but I see that as the perfect opportunity to make a rather important point - chartiy doesn't have to stop just because the dried-out carcass of the Christmas tree is sitting on the curb. Poor people are still hungry, homeless people are still cold, shut-ins are still lonely, troops are still bored, and injured people still need blood, even when it's not a holiday. Bookmark this one for future reference.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

On Christmas wishes

Okay, so I'm busy-busy today and all you're getting from me is a quickie. From comments on this post at World O'Crap:
Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is incontrvertable proof that George is banging Condi. You can forget the pony and Donald Rumsfeld's fingerprints on the Plame case. Thanks.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

On the coming of the apocalypse

Okay, so posting might be slow the next couple of days as I recover from the alcohol poisoning from which I plan to suffer tonight. Why, you ask? Lemme see:

Packers over Redskins, 28-14
Bush over Kerry, 286-252
Miami over Virginia, 30-21
Auburn over Georgia, 24-6

and we earned every point scored against us.


Update: Bengals over Redskins, 17-10. Why do I bother? Why do I freaking bother?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On becoming randomly and spontaneously safe

Okay, so Attorney General John Ashcroft resigned on Tuesday.

In other news, a wolf at Zoo Atlanta was observed lying down with a lamb; leopards were seen lying down with kids at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, as well as a calf, young lion, and fatling together; and several witnesses reported that a little child was leading them.
"In a five-page handwritten letter of resignation, Ashcroft, who made headlines by periodically placing the country on high alert for terrorism, asserted that the task of safeguarding the country against terrorist strikes 'has been achieved.'" [Emphasis mine]

Well, it looks like the Bushies were right after all. They said that the only way to protect the country from the threat of terror was to re-elect Dubya. And look! It worked! I can't believe I didn't have faith in them before. I'm even on the record as saying that you can't win a war against an abstract concept like terror or poverty, and that we can't give up our liberties in the interest of security - and here it looks like all of our objectives have "been achieved" and we're safe now. Now if someone could hand me a washcloth to get this egg off of my face.

But really, John, this is just great. Just great. So our guys are coming home, then? 'Cause I can put together a welcome-home party like that. You just let me know when. I can get munchies, a band, everything. And I guess we're going to drop the terror warning level to green, since we're safe from terrorists now, right? Right? John?


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

On an unexpectedly crappy day

Okay, so by now you've figured out that what happened with last night's election is what I really, really, really really didn't want to happen. I'm not pleased with the results, not even a litle bit. I think the biggest disappointment for me - well, okay, obviously the biggest one is the re-election of the man whom I firmly believe will be the downfall of our country - but a great big disappointment, one of the top three, is Georgia's passage of Amendment One, which outlaws not only gay marriage but also civil unions and many same-sex domestic partner benefits. Living in Atlanta, within the protective embrace of the Perimeter, it's easy to forget that the vast majority of the state consists of backwards, homophobic redneck hicks who would be perfectly happy to bring back lynching because Jesus tells them so. Think I sounds elitist and judmental? I care.

I'm having a really hard time dealing with a lot of Bush supporters this morning. Most of the Bushies in my office have been really decent (as decent as I hope I'd be in their shoes), but there have been some that I just wanted to thump on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. One in particular was updating us with election results via e-mail all night last night, crowing over each new state and signing each e-mail with "Go W!" "Go W!"? Because this is some sort of a football game? Because all that matters is that her team gets the trophy, and then they all get to celebrate over malteds at the Dine-O-Mat?

I really think that a lot of Republicans have missed the gravity of this election, and it makes sense that they might. For so many Bush supporters, their entire policy knowledge base comes from what Bush himself told them. They don't think that our economy is in trouble, or that the war in Iraq was a bad idea, or that his education plan is ineffective at best, because he told them that things are just peachy, and they believed him without question. They think that Bush is the best choice because he's the candidate that Jesus would chose. That attitude is astounding to anyone who has any grasp of the current situation both at home and abroad and realizes that the wrong choice on November 2 could - and I don't mean to overdramatize here, but it really could - result in chaos in the Middle East, economic collapse or near-collapse, and the appointment of our country's most conservative Supreme Court ever (and all that accompanies it).

I've got to quote some poor, sad woman who tried to look earnest and intelligent as she gazed into the TV camera outside of her hurricane-ravaged home and said, "I do not know what have happen, but something have got to be did." And indeed it do. At this point, I have no idea what that something might be. I'm still in the recovery stage, sifting through my options, trying to decide whether to fight against the inevitable or just close my eyes for the next four years and let it all run over me.

Had a discussion with my dad the other day re: the upcoming election. He shared with me some trends and projections that made me less-than-comfortable about Kerry's chances and the discussion turned to what we would do if, God forbid, Bush should get re-elected. I pulled out the comment about making a run for it, leaving the country, going to Canada. Daddy said that he wasn't about to do that. He said that he was an American before all else, that this was his country, right or wrong, and he wasn't going to leave it. I made the point that watching Bush lead the US for the next four years would be like watching intruders rape your wife in front of you while you sat bound and helpless .

I haven't figured out where I am on that now. I know I'm not going to leave any time soon. And for all I know, the future isn't nearly as bleak as it seems right now. But it does seem pretty bleak, and pretty scary, and pretty frustrating that only 49% of the US population can tell when they're being taken advantage of by the most powerful man in the world. Later on, when passions have cooled a bit and we have some idea of the changes that Bush might make in the future (God willing), I'll look at it all a bit more closely and figure out where I'm headed after this. I hope it's here; I love America, and I really do want to stay. But something have got to be did.

Update: From Wonkette, Harper's offers helpful instructions for those who decide to leave the country after all. Mary at Naked Furniture says what I'm feeling, better than I could say it. And Matt at Basket Full of Puppies says the other thing that I'm feeling, which at first glance might seem to contradict the first thing but if you read it through, actually doesn't.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Sunday, October 31, 2004

On real, visceral fear

Okay, so this morning, I've been talking with The Family about the upcoming election (or, really, the ongoing election, since early voting in Georgia started a week ago), and my father brought up the point that most incumbents who poll this well this close to the election end up back in office. That's a scary, scary prospect. Sure, most of Dubya's leads fall within the margin of error, but the same can be said for Kerry; at this point, the election really is too close to call.

It's no surprise that the prospect of another Bush presidency scares me. For one thing, it would only be confirmation to him that all of the crap that he's pulled over the past four years has been okay - not only okay, but good. Worse than more-of-same, I can see us facing four years of worse-than-same as Bush and his evil advisors take all of his past policy and multiply it by three. And then there's the Supreme Court to think about; W II could be in the position to replace three or four Supreme Court justices, with the result that, as my dad so eloquently put it, "the Christian Coalition could put their brand on the Constitution for the next twenty years."

I don't like to pray about politics or football. Both, I think, are too trivial to bother The Almighty, and I know that both sides are usually praying for a big win anyway. But this election strikes me as worthy of a rosary or two. This election affects not just our country but really the entire world. And right now, precisely fifty percent of American voters want Dubya back and the rest of the world wants him gone. I'm sure that God knows that already, Him being omniscient and all. That's not going to stop me from reminding him, though. I know where my vote is going; all I do is hope - pray - that there are legions of Eminem voters out there ready and willing to vote the same way. I have faith.

On celebrations

Okay, so obviously the good-good news of the day is UGA's righteous victory over the Gators after, like, a million years. For those poor sots who missed it, it was a really fantastic game; both teams had their rockin' moments and their suckin' moments, and both teams were in it until the very end. I'll have to attribute our victory in some part to the chicken quesadillas I cooked before the game; Georgia has never lost on a day that I ate quesadillas. Y'all can thank me later. The bad news is that I re-injured my hamstring in my ecstatic dance of celebration; those cheerleader high-kicks aren't for sissies.

In other good news, commenter Tami had the dubious honor of watching my little counter thingy turn over from 999 to 1,000. For her diligent attention to a blog not really all that worthy of diligent attention, Tami wins a pleasant sense of self-satisfaction, an Attagirl from the management, and a suggestion that she devote more of her free time to volunteer work. Way to go, Tami.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

On another one of those round numbers

Okay, so we're cruising up on one of those numbers with a comma in it. If you're fortunate and blessed enough to watch the counter turn over 1,000, put it in the comments and I'll see about getting you a t-shirt or something. Or a button and a rubber band. Or a swift kick in the ass. Whatever.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

On being smart and insightful?!

Okay, so what the crap?

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few.

Blame World O'Crap for pointing me at that little disaster.

Monday, October 25, 2004

On physical beauty

Okay, so this past weekend, my ego got stroked like a cuddly kitten. Over the course of three days, I was told that I was gorgeous/beautiful/hot etc. by probably a good half-dozen guys. Granted, a respectable number of these were trying to get into my pants, but the words were spoken.

Here's the thing: I'm pretty sure I'm not gorgeous. Don't get me wrong, I'm plenty pretty; I'm just not about to loose a thousand ships at their mooring. But with all of the exhortations that yes, I really am beautiful, and that I would look still more beautiful with my sweater in a pile on the floor, I got to wondering: what is beauty, anyway?

This isn't one of those deep philosophical questions. I'm actually curious about current standards of female beauty. Working in the industry that I do, where cadaverous runway models are held up as the gold standard, it's not unlikely that my perception has been skewed a wee bit. So all you guys who have stumbled here in a fruitless search for Michelle Malkin naked: What makes a girl hot?

We'll make it an informal survey. Forget the Gisele Bundchens and Tyra Bankses of the world; they get paid for being hot. We're talking that girl at the bar on Friday night. What about a girl makes you walk over to the end of the bar and talk to her? Conversely, what about her makes you just sit with your friends and say, "Dude, I would totally tap that," and then your buddy says, "Dude, I did tap that," and then you say, "Dude, you're so full of shit," and he says, "Dude, I'm not," and then your other friend says, "Dude, that's my sister, dude," and then you shut up and drink your PBR.

Throw your answers down in the comments section below.

On The Record

Okay, so I watched the Dick Cheney interview on the Today show this morning, and he kept telling us to check the record. Kerry as a legislator? Check the record. Kerry on terror? Check the record. Kerry as president of the US? Check the record. And while I will concede that Kerry does, in fact, lack experience at being the leader of the free world, Cheney's suggestions inspire me to actually go and check the record.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is George W. Bush: The Record.

  • Coalition troops killed in Iraq: 1,243, and counting
  • Of those, number of US troops: 1,104, and counting
  • Civilians killed in Iraq: approx. 14,000, and counting
  • Iraqi presidents involved in the 9/11 attacks: 0
  • "Most Wanted" al Qaeda leaders killed and/or captured: 3
  • Osama bin Ladens killed and/or captured: 0

    Quite a record.
  • Monday, October 18, 2004

    On big fat liars

    Okay, so lazy as I am, it being a Monday and all, I'm just going to kick you over to Kevin at Political Animal. It seems that the clever man has come up with a fairly spiffy system to qualify and quantify the lies told during last Friday's presidential debate and come up with what amounts to a Big Fat Liar Score for each candidate.

    The result? Bush was the winner with 18 lies for a total of 118 points; Kerry trailed far behind with only 10 lies and 51 points.

    And speaking of point disparities (and big fat liars, while we're at it), great big ups to Your Georgia Bulldogs, who whupped Vanderbilt 33-3 in honor of UGA's Homecoming. Sure, yeah, whupping up on Vandy isn't exactly a feat of football wonder, but considering that this is all in the face of thirteen - count 'em, thirteen - bullshit penalties, for a loss of 120 yards, I think we did fairly well. This was almost exactly the morale boost we needed after our less-than-stellar performance against Tennessee. It would have been exactly the boost we needed had the stupid refs not thrown a damn flag on a timeout.

    A timeout.

    Friday, October 15, 2004

    On the closing of debate season

    Okay, so after three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate, I can state conclusively that I'm going to vote for the guy that I was going to vote for anyway. I really do wonder if any undecided voters had their minds made up by the four largely content-free moderated games of grabass. If anyone knows of anyone who was convinced - and I'm not talking about the "I'm thinking Kerry but I'm not sure" types, I'm talking the "I seriously have no idea who should get my vote" types - let me know, because I'd really like to know what they saw and I didn't.

    I know that Bush's supporters are probably all patting themselves on the back until it hurts right now because their candidate didn't blink and pout and smack his lips like a meth addict and he didn't shout like the crazy lady down the street. It's so easy to be impressed when your candidate sets his expectations low. Regardless of Bush's performance by his own standards, I feel quite comfortable in saying that Kerry met or exceeded his own standards, which meant that he still kicked ass, even if it wasn't the overwhelming ass that he kicked in the first two debates.

    People who know me know that I really, really don't like being lied to. I don't. I would rather hear the dirty truth than a pretty half-truth. So you can imagine how pissed I was when Bush kept lying outright. Ooh, that got to me. Like that comment about how he never said that he wasn't concerned about Osama bin Laden - dude, I watched that press conference. Everybody did. It's on tape. We've had this conversation already with Dick Cheney - don't tell a lie if the public has a videotape of the truth. And the majority of his tax cuts go to the middle class? Say what?

    But what pissed me off even more than that was his assertion that everything comes down to education. Or trial lawyers. Mostly education. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all about education. I've been to good schools and crappy schools, and I can tell you for a fact that good schools are better and teachers don't get paid enough and cafeteria pizza never tastes good, ever, even if you put sausage on it. However, I don't think that a good, solid grasp of division and subtraction is what's standing between today's newly unemployed and a steady job. Somehow, Bush expects No Child Left Behind to magically retrieve tech jobs from India and re-employ the recently downsized.

    When asked what he would say to a guy who had just lost his job because it got sent over to Bangalore for half the pay, Bush basically said he would tell the guy to go to community college. What a freaking huge insult. I can't even express it. Kevin Drum did, and I thank him for it. All I can say is that my bachelor's degree (with honors, beeyatch) got me a job that just barely pays the bills. On the off chance that my job gets outsourced, a semester at Atlanta Metro and a job flipping burgers will do nothing but get me evicted for nonpayment of rent. So here's what you say to Mr. My-Tech-Job-Got-Sent-to-India, Mr. President: "Wow, sorry we don't have any job protection for you there, Mr. Master's-in-Information-Technology. Why don't you get yourself an associate's degree and work at one of the gazillion new minimum-wage jobs I've created to replace the two-million-plus jobs lost in the last four years? Sure, it won't pay the bills, but Susie didn't really need braces, now, did she?"

    Vote for Kerry, people. Please. Eighteen days from now, we decide whether we want a president with real, viable plans for national security and domestic tranquility, or one who will lie his freaking ass off, when he's not spouting crap that he doesn't even know is untrue. Eighteen days from now, you've got the opportunity to save the world. Don't fuck up.

    Thursday, October 07, 2004

    On weapons that aren't there

    Okay, so the conclusive report has finally come out stating that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when the US came in with shock and awe and bombs bursting in air. Obviously, this comes as a huge shock to me, as I was totally convinced that Saddam was sitting on stockpiles of nuclear weapons that he was just waiting to send our way and that he cleverly flushed down the toilet when he heard SWAT breaking down the door. I mean, the Bush administration said so, they said that's why they invaded Iraq in the first place, and they wouldn't, like, lie, right?

    Yeah, I know, we're all shocked, but it looks like, per the report, Saddam Hussein hasn't had the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction, or even weapons of mass destruction-related program activities, nor was he making any "concerted efforts to restart the program," since Gulf War the First in 1991. No stockpiles. No stocks. No materials. Charles A. Duefler, personally chosen by the Bush administration to come up with something to support the invasion, came out and told a Senate panel that "we were almost all wrong" on Iraq.


    Of course, Bush and Cheney immediately apologized to the nation for sending their sons and daughters to war over weapons of mass destruction that most of us knew never existed in the first place. Facing the nation with a tear in his eye, Bush took a deep breath and said, ""There was a risk -- a real risk -- that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks. In the world after September 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take." Yes, heaven forbid that Saddam Hussein should pass on weapons that didn't exist and information that he didn't have. That would be tragic.

    But how did the rest of the world respond to the news? Sadly, No! points us to a comment by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh "pointing to evidence that Saddam was diverting money from the U.N. food-for-oil humanitarian program to buy new weapons." Thus, per Sadly, "There's evidence that Saddam was diverting money to buy weapons of which there is no evidence."

    Mr. President, feel free to leave your apologies and excuses in the comment section below. I'll just wait here until I hear from you.

    Update: German intelligence services tell us that Osama bin Laden is still alive, kicking, and leading al Qaeda with an iron fist. News just gets better and better.

    Wednesday, October 06, 2004

    On something completely unrelated to politics

    Warning: The following post is completely unrelated to politics.

    Okay, so sometimes I indulge in that self-indulgent practice of telling a story that no one cares about, just because it makes me grin. And this one does, it makes me grin. And every time I tell it, I grin a little more, so let's call this'n self-indulgence for the sake of a big grin.

    Some of my lovely readers (hi, Daddy) know that I've got an ex. To avoid revealing any sensitive details, because I'm cool like that where others might not be, I'm going to call him Farley, which is obviously a fake name because I'd never date a guy named Farley. But let's say that I did, and let's say that we were together for four and a half years and engaged at one point but no longer together because he dumped me unceremoniously for a chick named Sunny - and yes, actually, that is her real name, although in the realm of fake names, it seems to me that a guy named Farley would dump me for a girl named Sunny.

    Anyway, I've moved on (couldn't you tell?). I actually had a date today - nothing huge, just a pleasant lunch date with a guy we'll call Todd, again a fake name because I'd never date a guy named Todd (although I'd be more likely to date a Todd than a Farley). Anyway, we're going to say that Todd is a bricklayer (not his real occupation). As you know, Farley is also a bricklayer; I don't chase after bricklayers, but it has to be said that bricklayers usually fit my "type" as far as guys go.

    Anyway. I'm out with Todd, and during the course of the conversation it comes out that Farley, my ex, is also a bricklayer. And of course Todd asks where Farley lays bricks, since there aren't that many places to lay bricks in town. And when I tell him where Farley lays bricks, Todd immediately recognizes him and goes. Freaking. Nuts.

    "Oh, my God. You dated him? Oh, my God! Everyone hates him. He is such an asshole. He's the biggest asshole. Nobody likes him, because he's such an asshole. I can't believe you dated that asshole. How did you date him? I can't believe it. Oh, my God. He's just such an asshole."

    Word for word, I swear. And Todd goes on to tell me about a dozen stories about how horrible Farley is to work with, what an asshole he is, how everyone hates him, and how unfathomable it is that I ever actually dated him. And I'll tell you, the stories differ quite a bit from the hero stories that Farley used to tell, the stories where he used to deliver babies and rescue kittens and compose magnum opi between bricks and everybody just lur-hur-hurved him, and if Todd's stories are true, Farley is, in fact, a real asshole. Really, I can believe it - throughout the relationship, Farley exhibited a gracious many characteristics that, allowed to run unchecked, could rocket him into asshole territory. Todd said that next time he's at the brickyard, he intends to go on and on about how he banged this totally hot chick named ACG the other day, that she was just incredible, like some kind of jungle cat and/or Chinese gymnast, and gosh, Farley, your face is turning red.

    And that's pretty much the story, in the end. Nothing huge or earth-shattering; just a really satisfying story from a really nice guy for a girl who's still at the gosh-I'd-like-to-back-over-him-in-my-friend-Jiho's-Touareg stage of the breakup process. Did it make me a better person? Hell, no. Was it satisfying? Indubitably.

    Oh, and I didn't actually sleep with Todd. But I'm okay with him telling Farley that I did, just to hear about his reaction.

    On the Veep debate, again - post-debate AM update

    Okay, so a good night's sleep has given me time to sort through the mass of crap spewed at me by last night's debates (and to have a wholly pleasant dream involving Jason Statham and an Audi A6 - you call me, baby). And a lazy morning has given me time to sift through other bloggers' thoughts on said debates so that I can steal their ideas and blog them myself. But being the good girl that I am (snicker), I'll give credit where credit is due, 'cause I'm cool like that.

    Debate-blogger wrapup:

  • Political Animal's Kevin Drum liveblogs the debate, then follows up a little. High points: "Cheney: Americans aren't taking 90% of the casualties in Iraq, we're only taking 50% of the casualties — if you count all the Iraqis who are dying. Something tells me that's not going to fly." Also, the whole factcheck.com versus factcheck.org issue - vive la difference! Furthermore, Dick's inability to stick with the truth - I've never met John Edwards, I never said that there was a connection between Iraq and 9/11. Dick, Dick, Dick - don't lie publicly if there's videotape that contradicts you.

  • Basket Full of Puppies summarizes the debate, and it's, like, totally funny. Hee.

  • The Daily Kos gives us pictures of Dick Cheney not never having met John Edwards. Oh, Dick.

  • World O'Crap does her best to bring us the debate from the perspective of an undecided voter. High points: the hell was up with that whole "discuss your platform but don't mention your running mate by name" thing? Gwen, you lose. You just do. By WOC's calculation, it looks like Edwards beat Cheney 5.9 to -8.8. Go figure.

  • Further updates as events warrant.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004

    On the Veep debate

    Okay, so this one wasn't nearly as easy to call as Thursday's presidential debate. That was easy - Kerry came off as twenty-six and a half times smarter, more put-together, and more presidential than the current President of the United States. This one was far more even - both candidates made a good showing, if for different reasons.

    I don't think that John Edwards made as much headway with the Democratic platform as Kerry did before; he did, however, directly address a lot of the attacks that had heretofore been unaddressed. I just don't think he did it well enough. Assuming that anyone besides myself was actually watching the debate, I think we needed to see John Edwards leap out of his chair, overturn the table and come after Cheney fighting. As it was, he came across as just a little bit tame. His general attitude, though, seemed to be very open and direct and approachable, which is a nice contrast to Kerry's relative austerity. Edwards seems like the kind of guy that you could just sit down with and say, "Hey, John, what's up with Medicare?" and he'd say, "Yeah, sure, what do you want to know?"

    And I'll say that Cheney did a good job, too. Compared to Bush, I'd say he did a fantastic job. He did little to nothing more than spewing the same damn Republican talking points that were spewed on Thursday and at every opportunity before that - but he did it in an intelligent, articulate way. Dick Cheney came across as twelve and a quarter times more presidential than the current President of the United States. One of the Repub pundits made the comment that it's good to know that Cheney is just a heartbeat away from the presidency (and I know he didn't mean to sound like he wished Bush were dead) - I would agree, 'cause Cheney sounded really good, if I didn't know that he was inherently evil and will go home and eat two babies to recover from the debate.

    So I'm calling this one a draw. If anything - choke - Cheney came out a little bit on top. I don't, however, think that it's going to have a lot of effect on the polls, and it's not going to convince any swing voters, because both were really playing to their bases. But I think that Cheney regained some of the credibility that Bush seriously lost less than a week ago ("You forgot Poland," hee hee).

    Question, though - what's the point of Spin Alley? Is anyone even a little bit surprised by the spinning done by the pundits? Karen Hughes pretended to believe that Bush won Thursday's debate; it's just more political crap identical to the political crap that we've been getting for the past year, except now they're spreading it for free.

    And a final point - NBC held up Ana Cox, Wonkette herself, as an example of a liberal blogger. Don't get me wrong - I love Wonkette, read it every day, frequently laugh out loud and/or spit coffee over my computer monitor - at work. I just wouldn't really call her a political blogger. Now, if Dick Cheney had worn, like, totally the wrong tie, or if John Edwards had slipped up and implied that he was boinking an intern, she'd be all over it; under current circumstances, I might have gone with a Kos or an Atrios. Or, y'know, a Practically Harmless. That's all.

    Friday, October 01, 2004

    On cross-dressing baseball players

    Okay, so Cleveland Indians pitcher Kyle Denney avoided serious injury after being shot in the leg late Wednesday night. What saved him? Unarguably it was the white leather go-go boots from the USC cheerleader uniform he was wearing.

    Hey, I don't judge.

    On a kickass presidential debate

    Okay, so if last night's debate was a portent of things to come, this election's in the bag. Of course I knock on wood as I say that, and of course I'm completely biased toward the Kerry camp, but I've got to say that last night Kerry came off looking intelligent and thoughtful and clever and poised and, 'kay, presidential while Bush came off looking like an petulant, eye-rolling, lip-smacking frattie who still - still - can't pronounce the word "nuclear." Kerry was concise and showed that he does, in fact, have a plan for both foreign and domestic policy; Bush spluttered, called terrorists "some folks" and couldn't remember whether we're after Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. And had this bizarre obsession with Poland.

    Moreover, though, Kerry had the opportunity to really explain his policy. Bush has an advantage in that "stay the course, even if the course is wrong" can lead to quality soundbites that fit nicely into a fifteen-second TV spot or a newspaper sidebar. The thing is, life doesn't fit into soundbites. You can't lead a country with soundbite policy. Kerry's policy is a little more complex, dare I say nuanced, and harder to fit into a ten-second quote on the evening news. Last night, he had the opportunity to say exactly what he thought was wrong with Bush's approach to the war on terror and homeland security and exactly what he would do differently. And his plans are good ones. A lot of people have been wondering why they should vote for Kerry (outside of the "anyone but Bush" meme), how he'll handle the tough issues and why he's better than Bush. There's your answer, folks.

    My fave highlights:

    Bush's "Saddam Huss - er, Osama bin Laden."
    Followed by his "[bin Laden]'s isolated. Seventy-five percent of his people have been brought to justice." Unfortunately, not the seventy-five percent in charge of kidnapping and beheading.
    Bush's "You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can." Now, it's none of my business what he and Missy do in the privacy of their own homes, but I think this just reinforces the idea that America is being screwed by the Bush administration.
    Kerry's "Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like FDR invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor."
    The whole Korea thing. Friend, editor, and slavedriver-in-chief Georgia made an interesting point this morning as we lazily stirred our coffee and tried to avoid getting to work. Why is it that we absolutely had to go into Iraq without any international cooperation, but as far as Korea is concerned, it's crucial to have a six-nation summit?
    Poland. Poland, Poland, Poland, Poland, Poland. Poland-Poland.
    Every single Bush stammer and long pause. Your president, live, unscripted, and unrehearsed. He's winging it, and it's hi-larious.

    On a sidenote - I think that if you're going to be talking to the press after a debate, it would help to actually watch the debate. Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. Giuliani. The flip-flopper label doesn't work any more, if it ever did. You can't say, "Oh, well, John Kerry said that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and then he said he wasn't a threat" - it's all on tape, he didn't say that. Kerry said that Saddam Hussein was a threat, but that Bush went about addressing the threat the wrong way. You can't say, "Oh, well, John Kerry voted for the war and then said it was wrong" - on tape, didn't say it. He voted to give the president authority to use force if necessary, and Bush abused that authority. This isn't criticism, Rudy, it's advice - before you open your mouth, make sure they can't go to the instant replay and make you look like a big fat stupe.

    Update - I'm not alone on this one. Via the Daily Kos, a whole slew of conservative bloggers who think that Bush was kind of lousy.

    Freepers agree with me. Ew. I feel all dirty now.

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    On another insignificant benchmark

    Okay, so I know this matters to absolutely no on who isn't me, but it's cool enough that I'm going to mention it anyway, because that's the whole point of having your own blog. Anyway, if you find yourself in need of thirty seconds of mindless entertainment, try this: Go to Google. Type in "practically harmless", with or without quotes. Hit "I'm feeling lucky." What page comes up? Practically Harmless, baby! Number one with a bullet. You better recognize.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    On Darrel J. Riblett

    Okay, so this was brought to us back in August by Daily Kos and revived recently by Jesus' General. From what I can tell, it was never mentioned by the national news media and certainly never by the Bush administration, because this - this, above all other things - this is what the war is doing to our soldiers, and this is how much Bush cares about our troops.

    Pfc. Darrel J. Riblett, who won the Purple Heart after being wounded by shrapnel in a November attack near Kazimiyah, Iraq, died Aug. 14 of a self- inflicted gunshot wound. He was 20.
    The Denver Post obituary tells of how, as a child, Darrel loved his blankie and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It tells stories of a four-year-old Darrel crashing his mother's car in a Costco parking lot, and a sixteen-year-old Darrel restoring a 1969 Mustang. And it tells the story of a seventeen-year-old Darrel who so admired the military service of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather that he got a waiver from his father to join the Army Reserves. In May of 2003, Darrel left Fort Riley, Kansas for Iraq; six months later, he received a shrapnel wound so serious "that later, in Germany, surgeons could remove it only by forcing the metal out through the other side."

    Darrel came home to a Purple Heart, a welcoming family, and a high school sweetheart that he married in April. And August 14, at age 20, he killed himself.

    A story was found on Darrel's computer after his death. It was about a knight "whose armor hides deep misery from his admirers," the obituary says. Darrel wrote, "A black, hardened shell is sometimes all that is seen covering the dark, withering heart once full of happiness and joy. But once again, there is hope, and despair should not rule, or will it. ..."

    Darrel wasn't the first soldier to take his own life after returning from Iraq. In January, Spc. Jeremy Seeley poisoned himself in a Kentucky hotel room. In March, Chief Warrant Officer William Howell chased his wife around their Colorado home with a revolver before shooting himself. In late August, Sgt. David Guindon killed himself the day after returning from Iraq. Two soldiers have killed themselves at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And according to the Marine Corps Times, at least 29 soldiers have committed suicide in Iraq between March of 2003 and March of 2004.

    But as far as I know, Darrel Riblett was the youngest. Darrel, who loved his blankie as a child and his Mustang as a teenager and his country enough to join the Army Reserves when he wasn't even old enough to do so without parental consent, was twenty when he died. He wasn't old enough to drink. He wasn't old enough to reserve a hotel room or rent a car. But he was old enough to go to Iraq and see things and do things and bring things back with him such that he couldn't live with it when he got home.

    I really try to avoid profanity, but what in the fucking hell are we doing to our soldiers? We send them to Iraq for some ridiculous war with a thousand different bullshit justifications, and the ones who don't get killed by guerillas or suicide bombers or roadside ambushes we abandon to the horror of thoughts and memories and experiences that no human being should be expected to handle on their own. We send 18-year-olds to Iraq to die and to watch their friends die, and we expect them to take it like men, shake it off, rub some dirt in it.

    And we do this. We do. Not just Bush, or his administration or whatever - us. Because we don't question. Those who have the power to question don't question. Bush claims to be the best thing that's ever happened to the military and it's bullshit and we don't question. He says that he's raising their pay and their benefits and making sure that everyone is getting counseling when they get home and it's bullshit and we don't question. He says that the war in Iraq is justified and that we're doing good things and that it's a "catastrophic success" and it's bullshit because young men - little boys, practically - are coming home from Iraq and killing themselves and we don't even fucking question.

    When John Kerry was asked whether he would vote again to give Bush the power to declare war, knowing what he now knows, Kerry said sure. He said that, as president, he would hope to have the same power. And at the time, it made sense to me - he wasn't voting for the war, he was voting to give the president the authority to decide if war was the best option.

    I've changed my mind, though, because I do know what I now know. What I now know is that Bush - and everyone who pulls the Bush puppet strings - is a complete and fucking moron who can't handle authority. I now know that the vote wasn't giving military authority to a rational adult, it was giving a loaded gun to a methed-out teenager. So I'm going to have to hold John Kerry responsible for Darrel Riblett's death, along with everyone else who voted to give Bush the authority. And I'll also lay the blame on everyone who voted for the legislators who voted to give Bush the authority. And I'll lay the blame on everyone who voted for Bush. But most of the blame, the overwhelming majority of the blame, goes on Bush himself. God forbid - I pray to God that He will forbid - that Bush ends up in the White House for another four years, because we're running out of twenty-year-olds with big hearts.

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    On September 13

    Okay, so I'm posting this on September 19, but it was actually written on September 13 - September 13, 2001, two days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (in case anyone has actually managed to forget what happened that day). Three years and eight days after the event, three years and six days after I jotted this down, probably while sitting in shocked two-day-old silence in front of a TV full of nothing but bad news, a lot of the feelings here are still valid. Some of this, I stil believe; some of it I don't. I'm not going to bother pointing out which is which. And I'm not going to edit it, even a little; I'm just going to post it exactly as it was written back when all of it was still fresh. Keep in mind that this was written by a college junior trying to sort through her thoughts in the wake of a completely unprecedented event, and that it was never really meant for publication. But here it is anyway: 9/13/01, Reflections on a National Tragedy:
    1. Why are people always looking for a person to blame? It's the liberals, it's George Bush, it's the CIA, it's the INS. Why can't they understand that, sometimes, there is no one person who can take the blame. Abstractions. Evil. Fear. Ignorance. Bigotry. Why do bad things happen to good people? Twelve, that's why.

    2. Why don't I feel worse about this? Everyone was almost blasé when the first plane hit, and so was I. Then it came out that the whole thing was a calculated and massive terrorist attack, and people were horrified, angered, and saddened, and so was I. Now, people are still horrified, angered, and saddened, and I’m… not so much. I feel awful for the many, many families who lost loved ones. I feel sympathy for the workers who put their lives on the line every day to dig through the rubble in a largely futile search for life. But I’m not scared. I don’t feel helpless. I don’t mourn. I’ve almost become inured to the sight of the World Trade Center bursting into flames shown over and over again on CNN. Far from standing with hands clasped and dewy face upraised as three hundred freshman sob to the strains of “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” I pin a ribbon to my shirt, plan a time to give blood when they aren’t so busy, and amble home, wishing the news would only show breaking news and end this 24-hour coverage in favor of my soaps. And Oprah, for goodness’ sake.

    I think that part of my attitude is due to the fact that, with few exceptions, I am very careful about not jumping on the grief train. I did not wear crepe to mourn the passing of either Princess Diana or Aaliyah. When Mother Teresa died, I mourned the world’s loss, not my own. I try to keep things in perspective. Unfortunately, this does not play well to a national audience. And when the tragedy is on a national scale, like it was on Tuesday, it doesn’t take me long to get pragmatic and composed, which is far from the majority reaction at this point.

    3. Why don’t I know what to do? I know what they say we all can do: give money (I’ll give what I can), give blood (give me a baggy and a needle and I’ll stick myself), show patriotism and support (I spent all day making ribbons for Flags Across America). But I feel, as I usually do, like there is something out there to contribute that I and only I can do. I just can’t figure out what it is. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

    4. Is anyone else wigged out that the World Trade Center isn’t there any more? It’s not just a sentimental, “Oh, I was there once, and now it’s gone, sob” thing, either. It’s actually more awe and disbelief, in a more “There was this huge monolith, this architectural wonder, that was there, and suddenly it’s gone, and it’s not coming back.” I find that to be just awesome (in an “unbelievable” way, not a “gnarly” way.

    5. Why do people want to bomb entire countries for the work of a few? People keep talking about bombing Afghanistan, but does that make sense when the guilty parties are few and far between? I understand that the Taliban, as the party providing shelter and assistance to Osama bin Laden, needs and deserves to get punished in a big way, but can we possibly be in the right if we kill even once innocent? I mean, the terrorists didn’t mind killing innocents, and we characterize them as “evil.”

    6. Am I the only person who thinks the people on the United flight that crashed near Pittsburgh were incredibly heroic? I mean, they knew they were going to die one way or the other, and they decided to take out the hijackers and save the lives of the people at their next target, wherever that was. Now that’s real heroism.

    7. Isn’t it wonderful how this nation has come together? In the face of crisis, the people of America – and even the world – have unified to help however they can. The Red Cross has a glut of blood, prayer groups and support groups are popping up like mushrooms, and literally thousands of people have turned up to sift the rubble for survivors. God will that we keep up this fellowship and unity after the disaster has passed.

    8. If I see the bad side of this country, does that make me a bad person? People keep talking about the wonderful things America has done for the rest of the world (which, don’t get me wrong, I acknowledge and appreciate) and the reasons for the attack given by various politicians is that America stands for freedom and goodness and right and rainbows and puppies, and raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. But the whole time, my inner devil’s advocate is thinking of all the bad things America has done and coming up with a thousand reasons why a terrorist group (especially one as crazy and brainwashed as Osama bin Laden’s) might want to blow up the country. I know that it’s wrong to express these thoughts, because people keep saying that. But does it make me a bad person even to think it? And if it does make me a bad person just to think it, how am I ever supposed to save the world?

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    On the Columbus Ledger-Inferior

    Okay, so I count myself a proud former Columbusite - proud not because I lived there, but because I don't live there any longer. Now, it isn't an entire town of morons; both my parents live there, and I still keep in touch with a few high school friends, so there might be as many as seven or eight non-morons. But the general tone of the town is one of utter moronity, recently exemplified by this fancy little tidbit from today's Ledger-Enquirer:

    Left vs. right

    With Jesse Jackson and Peggy Noonan in town this week, we asked each about today's political arena from their perspectives.

    Head here

    Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here.

    Head here

    Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here. Text goes here and here.
    Head here, you say? Text here and here? But why not here? Oh, this layout thing is so complicated.

    Thanks to World O' Crap for the link.

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    On still more Yahoo!-ing sickos

    Okay, so I've been forced to change my little blog subhead thingy from its original "intellectual masturbation for the information age" due to the overwhelming(ly disturbing) number of searches for masturbating dogs or masturbating Swift Boat veterans or masturbating Barack Obamas. I realize that I'm kind of closing the barn door after the horses have gotten out, but after getting a click-through from a google search for "Michelle Malkin on masturbation," something had to be done. I mean, ew.

    On Redskins 16, Buccaneers 10

    Okay, so newcomers to Redskins football might not realize that this score represents a fantastic accomplishment for your own Washington Redskins. This is a team that went 5-11 in the 2003 regular season, a team that couldn't convert on the third down if you had a gun to their mamas' heads, a team that couldn't get it into the end zone if a naked Charlize Theron was perched on the goalposts. Don't get me wrong, these are my boys. They're just not boys I'm going to bet money on. Or they weren't, anyway. Now, we've got Clinton Portis running it back 64 yards for a touchdown in the first series. And a nice, comfortable win in the end.

    What changed? Steve Spurrier took a damn hike, for starters. Uppity punk thought he could coach pro ball. Get your lip-flapping ass back to Florida, Steve-o. Joe Gibbs is back, and it's time to play some damn football.

    Welcome back, Joe.

    On Bulldogs 20, Gamecocks 16

    Okay, so we got a bit of a slow start, but anyone who wasn't absolutely sure that we wouldn't come back and win it cannot call him/herself a Georgia fan. I'll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day of the week, and besides, this one wasn't so very, well, ugly anyway.

    Nope. Not too ugly at all.

    Friday, September 03, 2004

    On the President's speech

    Okay, so this might just shock the poo out of some of my regular readers (and when I say "regular readers", I should really just say, "Hi, Daddy!"), but President Bush's speech last night really didn't get my panties in a wad. Why? Because I cut out near the end to watch "The Daily Show." No! Because he didn't say anything that could or should enflame anyone one way or the other. He just said basic, y'know, Republican-type campaign stuff. His campaign speech could have been shortened to, "I support bunnies, sunny days, small children in yellow rain slickers, and chocolate. If elected, I'll give everyone in America a zillion dollars and a pony." No real breakthroughs, nothing earth shattering, certainly none of the Zellfire and damnation of the night before (and, speaking of the Man Without a Country, it would appear that the Republicans are backing away from Zell just as fast as the Democrats can shove him away with both hands).

    Regardless, a couple of phrases did raise eyebrows in the Practically Harmless household (the household that consists of Nate the Fish and myself). As a service to the public, I present you with the Practically Harmless Handy Dandy Presidential Translator:

    "To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy." ... by reducing our protected national wildlands to a smoldering wasteland dotted with curiously phallic oil wells.

    "And we must protect small business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits that threaten jobs across America." ... which became desperately important to me the moment Karl told me that Edwards is a trial lawyer.

    "To stand with workers in poor communities -- and those that have lost manufacturing, textile, and other jobs -- we will create American opportunity zones." ... because an entire land of opportunity just isn't cost-efficient.

    "In a new term, we will change outdated labor laws to offer comp-time and flex-time. Our laws should never stand in the way of a more family-friendly workplace." For instance, with the money my brother saves handing out comp time instead of overtime, he can take my family on a vacation in his new boat.

    "We must strengthen Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their taxes in a personal account -- a nest egg you can call your own, and government can never take away." The only way to protect this vital government safety net is to phase it out and make people get their own damn safety nets.

    "No dejaremos a ningún niño atrás." That was Spanish. I'm compassionate.

    "... [T]here are some things my opponent is for -- he's proposed more than two trillion dollars in new federal spending so far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. To pay for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing taxes..." Not me. When I propose federal spending, I cut taxes way back and depend on my faith in Jesus to balance the budget.

    "And I will continue to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law." ... and who will be careful to always codify my personal opinion.

    "Members of both political parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat, and voted to authorize the use of force. " Specifically, they voted to give me the power to use force, and boy, was that a mistake.

    "Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history..." ... except, of course, for those Taliban that are still in Afghanistan blowing people up.

    "... [T]he Senator said, "I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it." Then he said he was "proud" of that vote. Then, when pressed, he said it was a "complicated" matter. There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat." Especially when you're cutting taxes and paying for the war with Jesus money.

    "During our emotional visit one of the Iraqi men used his new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a prayer for God to bless America." I tore up the prayer and set it on fire, because we don't need blessings from his evil heathen god.

    "One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them -- and whatever strengths you have, you're going to need them." I'm working hard to develop some in time for the election.

    "God bless you, and may God continue to bless America." 'Cause if I win in November, we're gonna need it.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    On Zell

    Okay, so GWBWYPGN?! has an open letter to Zell Miller in response to his speech last night at the RNC, and it's a really, really good letter. Doug really has more of a personal bone to pick; he and Zell have a history. But I can add a bit of my own perspective, just as a Democrat and a Georgian, and will do so... now.

    Zell Miller can go right to hell. I'm not going to try to debunk every single asinine statement he made in his ridiculous speech because, let's face it, not a one of them has any basis in actual fact. When has a Democrat proposed that we turn control of our foreign policy over to the United Nations? When has a Democrat said that our military are occupiers and not liberators? What the hell is up with the whole "spitballs" thing (which, by the way, was just about middle-school enough for me to roll my eyes without barfing). It's all ridiculous, written for an audience of ridiculous people. There's no arguing against it because it's just ridiculous. You can't argue the color of the sky with someone who insists that the sky doesn't exist; such a person has no basis in reality. Kind of like Zell.

    People call Zell Miller a turncoat and a traitor to the Democratic Party; I don't. I call him a Republican. I call him a Republican because I don't want him. I'm not offended or hurt by what he says because a) I know that he has no basis in reality and b) he's not one of mine. All I ask is that he stop throwing the name "Democrat" around like it still applies to him. As soon as he stops pretending to be one of us, which he obviously, obviously is not, and it's ridiculous to keep saying that he is, I won't care what he says, because it'll just be another Republican being ridiculous like Republicans so frequently are. But he needs to cut loose this whole idea that people will think that even Democrats are turning against John Kerry - it's not fooling anyone, and it just makes him look like the asshole that he really is.

    Update: Also from Doug (who posted from his home computer on his lunch hour, y'all) comes this little gem, which Doug so charmingly describes as "Zell flipped the f$#! out on 'Hardball,' getting so enraged at Chris Matthews that he effectively challenged Matthews to a duel." Check it out, and also check out Doug's comments regarding Zell and Alzheimer's - it's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the man. Actually, it might be enough. But it's a close call.

    On my cool job

    Okay, so I’m going to take a quick break from the whole political thing to say that I really, really love my job. Except for when I hate it. But I generally love it, because it sends me to Events, and I get to go for free, and I get to eat for free (when I get the chance to eat), and I am on the receiving end of quite a bit more up-sucking than many other journalists in similar positions. So it was at last night’s rainforest benefit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, where dozens of people (some important, most not; some well-dressed, most not; some sober, most not) flocked to my camera for a two-inch-square space on a far-back page in a magazine that not a one of them has ever actually read.

    My photographer and I got there sevenish, just in time for complimentary cocktails and pictures of people who were still reasonably sober. My first impression as our little pack of media persons was led through the Gardens was that the huge greenhouse looked like the setting for some James Bond movie, that at the end of the evening, Sting would appear dressed in a futuristic black suit, stroking a Persian cat and outlining our role in his plot to take over the world. That, just so you know, didn’t happen.

    Quasi-known country musician Colt Prather was rocking out onstage and doing a pretty good job of it, if you like country music, which I really don’t. I felt bad for him, though, because for all of his hard work, he was getting absolutely no attention; his “how’s everybody doing tonight?” was met with your average disinterested crowd-hum because The Man Himself had arrived and when Sting is in the same zip code, no other man exists. Sting wasn’t around for long, though; he stood, surrounded by people, just long enough for my photographer to not get an awkward half-shot of him over someone’s shoulder, and then was ushered off by a handler for, she said, “a shirt change before the event.”

    Heaven forefend that he should appear twice in the same shirt.

    ‘Sokay, though, because he’s Sting and I’ll love him always.

    Anyway, we were ushered into a banquet hall where a brief video was shown and hors d’oeuvres were distributed. The video was your average save-the-rainforests appeal, all in black and white with solemn narration, subtitled South American native types, and inspiring soundtrack courtesy of (you guessed it) Sting. No one really paid any more attention to it than they had that poor country musician, What’s-His-Name.

    India.Arie, she of the curious punctuation, was a pleasant if curious chaser to the video. Pleasant because I like her music; curious because, well, let’s face it, this wasn’t exactly the most ethnic crowd in the world. The crowd loved her take on “True Colors” (“It’s the song from the Kodak commercial!” you could hear them whisper), but her midsong pause to explain the hip-hop usage of the word “fly” only underscored the fact that not a face in the (moneyed) audience was any darker than the deep, leathery tan of a Buckhead socialite just back from a Cancun vacation. The opening chords of “Video” prompted cheers from the crowd; as Atlantans, they’re proud of this song, although they’re not quite sure why. A roomful of faux-soulful aging white folks swaying in quasi-rhythm with the song, combined with the effects of my second V&T of the night, made me just a little bit queasy.

    Ms. .Arie was followed by an actual live auction – a weekend in Tuscany, a gold watch, and a massive pair of ugly turquoise earrings went quickly at prices more than twice my monthly salary. A stylized Buddha head statue went more slowly; it was made out of recycled phone books. It finally sold for more than five thousand dollars. The crowing moment of the evening came when Sting appeared onstage himself to present what would be the biggest moneymaker of the auction: a Fender bass guitar bearing his signature, for which I would have sold my car, my brother’s car, and one or both of my kidneys had I known it was for sale. The auctioneer presented it as a “bass” guitar (pronounced like the fish), and it sold within moments for thirty-three thousand dollars, with a huge surge in the bidding when Sting took his shirt off and began stroking the guitar affectionately. My damn photographer, who had buggered off by that point, is not getting paid for last night.

    Alas, nothing can top a half-naked Sting, so the evening kind of went downhill after that. Alison Krauss, blonder than I’ve ever seen her, played serviceable bluegrass, although she skipped over my favorites and included that song about being a man of constant sorrow that would annoy me far less had I not heard it for eleven hours straight on a family car trip to Virginia. My drunken tablemate knocked her vodka rocks off the table, shattering the glass, showering my linen pants, and filling my purse with Grey Goose and lime. The finale, which was rumored to include surprise performances by both Sting and Annie Lennox, was actually just a guy, some guy, any guy, standing up to thank us for, like, caring about the environment, and stuff. The goody bags were granola-crunchy and worth probably a hundred bucks each – I don’t actually own a yoga ball, strap, wedge, or block, but if I get one, I’ve got a bag to carry it in.

    We now return you to your regularly-scheduled political tirade.

    Monday, August 30, 2004

    On shiny, brightly-colored objects

    Okay, so I know this isn't even a subtopic of the article in question, but I read this bit:
    Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., Bush's first budget director and now the GOP candidate for Indiana governor, remembered presenting Bush with a variety of spending choices, usually depicted with the elaborate charts and graphs the president seemed to like. (Emphasis mine)
    and I just get this image of President Bush running a grape-jelly-stained index finger over a pie chart of federal social program spending and intoning, "Pretty... Pretty."

    Friday, August 27, 2004

    On spiffy metaphors - and on much-needed vacations

    Okay, so I feel silly sometimes posting things that other people said without any sort of commentary beyond the occasional "Right on" or "Way to go, girlfriend," but sometimes people just say things better than I could say them. So today's Practically Harmless Quote O' the Week is going to have to go to Tony Goins, commenter over at GWBWYPGN?!, with this very illustrative metaphor:
    Al Qaida and Saddam were like Wendy's and Burger King -- they both want to see McDonald's go down, but that doesn't make them allies.
    Right on. Way to go, girlfriend.

    In other news, blogging will be slow this weekend due to a much-needed and much-deserved beach trip. But then, blogging tends to be slow, and if I didn't post for three days, no one would notice - or care, for that matter. So why mention it? Gloating, pure and simple.

    Suck it.

    Sunday, August 22, 2004

    On satisfyingly large round numbers

    Okay, so we're on the cusp of an auspicious occasion - nearly 500 people have wasted their time accidentally stumbling onto this blog in a search for dog porn. If you happen to be lucky enough to watch the numbers turn over to the big five-oh-oh, shoot me a note down in the Comments section and I might slip you a little something special. Not like that, you sick perv; like a t-shirt or something. Jesus.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2004

    On Michelle Malkin, beauty queen

    Okay, so this just about caused me to spit coffee all over my computer monitor. This one goes out to all those nutty Republicans who think that Michelle Malkin is the epitome of conservative hotness. Much thanks to Sadly, No! for the link.

    Friday, August 13, 2004

    On the next big reason to be scared

    Okay, so... Eh, I got nothing. Sigh. Link.

    "Cues from chatter" gathered around the world are raising concerns that terrorists might try to attack the domestic food and drug supply, particularly illegally imported prescription drugs, acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester M. Crawford says.

    On a little bit of Illinois snark

    Okay, so Illinois Republicans have been scrambling to find a senate nominee after Jack Ryan was forced to drop out of the race basically for being a super-perv. They finally settled on Alan Keyes, two-time loser of the presidential race and, curiously enough, Illinois non-resident. Now, apparently Democratic nominee Barack Obama agreed to six debates with Ryan, but will only agree to two or three with Keyes. Courtesy of Talking Points Memo, the snarky little exchange that reminds me, as if I needed it, why Barack Obama is my new boyfriend:

    Obama says he'll debate Keyes two or three times, not six.

    To which Keyes responded: "So let's see. Before I came on the scene, Barack Obama thought of himself as if he was in the same class as Lincoln and Douglas in the critical drama of American life. And now he realizes that he's not in that class. Well, I think that the state of Illinois remains in that class. . . . And I think that it is a disservice to the people of this state to allow him to cower in timidity, and before the real historic challenge that is before us in this campaign."

    Obama replied, pretty cleverly I thought, that the six debate offer was "a special for in-state residents."
    Oh, Barack, you scamp.

    Monday, August 09, 2004

    On the eloquent leader charged with the task of carrying us through these turbulent times

    Okay, so... eh, screw it. No comment. Link.

    Thanks to Kos for the link.

    On blogging from work

    Okay, so I'm not going to tell the whole story, 'cause it's not really my story to tell; it's Doug's (you all know Doug; hi, Doug), and he knows all of the gory details, and he tells it better anyway, so be sure to keep an eye on GWBWYPGN?! for the complete poop. And I'm also going to start with a disclaimer: blogging at work is wrong, m'kay? Doing anything at work that isn't work-related is wrong and is misuse of company assets, and you should never, ever, ever do that. And all other things aside, Doug should have known that, and was completely in the wrong (and a big ol' butthead) for doing it. Shame, shame. Eye contact. Hand.

    That having been said, though, this whole thing has been blown wildly out of proportion. What whole thing, you ask? Um, this whole thing:
    UAB editor's blog raises legal questions
    UAB to discipline Kerry volunteer for politicking at work
    UAB To Discipline Worker For Online Politicking
    Once again - yes, what he did was wrong. But come on. Read over the articles and then come the hell on.

    A bit that I liked:
    By noon Thursday, Gillett had generated and posted to the Internet more than 800 words of commentary, pictures and links to articles on his own blog and contributed almost 700 words to the running arguments on Politics 101.
    Anyone who has done any blogging knows that if you're really passionate about a topic, writing about it isn't that hard to do - that's why you have a blog. And anyone who knows Doug knows that he in particular could pound out 800 words in a matter of minutes. 800 before noon? Hell, it was probably 800 between 9:12 and 9:18.

    And let's talk about slacking, BTW. If all of this blogging is really taking time away from his work, you'd think UAB would be all over him, n'cest-pas? But, to blatantly steal from the man himself, Ooh, the card says "Moops"! The university didn't know a thing about until they got a call from a reporter, who got his tip from... an anonymous letter sent directly to him. Not at all creepy there.

    So, to recap: citizen is concerned about all of this blogging on state computers/time and goes directly to Doug's boss - whoops, sorry there, writes an anonymous letter to a reporter.

    But one might wonder why this is newsworthy at all. Doug said it himself - "I could have gotten fired for doing blow in the men's room at UAB and it wouldn't have made the paper." Too true. I'm pretty sure it comes back this other bit that I like,
    A volunteer spokesman for John Kerry's presidential campaign in Alabama will be disciplined for using a computer at his workplace — The University of Alabama at Birmingham — to post Internet messages critical of President Bush. (Emphasis mine)
    Now, if you look at the blog, it's not a Kerry blog. Parts of it actually say that it is in no way associated with the Alabama for Kerry organization. But it's too much trouble to do the research or ask the pertinent questions - besides, if we did that, we might discover the truth and then be obliged to report it. And I'll admit, if the Alabama for Kerry communications director was doing his AL for K stuff on state time at a state computer, the media would be right to pick it up.

    But it's not all that. It's one dumbass who was too stupid to think that blogging from work was a bad idea. And a dumbass isn't newsworthy. That is, if you're willing to do the research to find out that all he is is a dumbass. Dumbass.

    ACG posted this on work time at 12:02 PM.

    Thursday, August 05, 2004

    On Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

    Okay, so I wasn't there, so I wouldn't know, but it looks like an Atrios commenter was and might just:
    We had a name for guys like these Swifties for Truth: Buddy-fuckers.

    On flying the formerly friendly skies

    Okay, so maybe I feel a little bit guilty about further publicizing the indefensible paranoid wingnuttery of famed frequent flyer Annie Jacobsen, but as I'm sure that all three of my readers have heard of her already, I won't feel too terribly guilty. For whoever wandered over here in a misguided Google search for homoerotic puppy porn or the like, a quick overview of Annie's nightmare flight: Annie Jacobsen and her darling husband were flying Northwest one afternoon when a whole bunch of swarthy people dared to get on the plane with her. Throughout the course of the flight these particularly tan men committed such unforgivable sins as standing up, going to the bathroom, talking to each other, and on one terrifying occasion, glaring at her. Needless to say, Annie was traumatized to the point of pestering a flight attendant and later sharing her story with the extensive readership of Women'sWallStreet.com. Twice. Wait, no, actually four times.

    Of course Annie was vindicated by the fact that the fourteen deeply tan men actually turned out to be Syrian musicians on their way to play a casino near San Diego, and that federal air marshals actually saw her as more of a threat to the safety of the flight than a bunch of guys with a McDonald's bag. Wait, "vindicated" isn't the word I'm looking for... It should be... outed as a complete nutjob? Hmm. Wordy, I suppose, but accurate.

    Anyhoo, despite her exposure as a paranoid but persistent publicity hound, she's still gotten a lot of support from, well, her, and this guy, and of course these folks over here. But thankfully, World O'Crap has been kind enough to provide us with an update on this harrowing tale of men bold enough to disobey the "fasten seatbelt" light. My favorite part? Probably WOC's MST3K take on the story:
    Suddenly there were no terrorists, no bomb built from a Big Mac container and a disposable camera. There was nothing on the plane but the hysterical man and woman of scaredycatness who suddenly found themselves alone with shadows and darkness, their invitations to Scarborough Country and Hannity & Colmes rescinded.... The Syrian musicians were found alive, well, and of normal size some 8,000 miles away, performing at a wedding in Damascus.
    One point in Annie's defense - the men were discovered to be the backup band for a Syrian singer named Nour Mehana, frequently called "The Syrian Wayne Newton." The Syrian Wayne Newton? Terrifying.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    On Sen. Joe Lieberman (D), Connecticut, tool

    Okay, so I know this guy was our vice presidential candidate back in 2000, and I'm not going to say for a second that the country is better off with Bush/Cheney than it would have been with Gore/Lieberman - War on Terra notwithstanding. But the fact is, we'd be better with Bobo the Chimp than our current leader, and I don't think that, under a Gore administration, our national success, security, whatever you want to call it would have been because of Joe Lieberman, because the more I hear him speak, the more I realize that he is a) wholly uninspiring, in terms of physical presence and apparent intestinal fortitude, and b) a complete and utter tool.

    On CNN Sunday, there was this'n:
    LIEBERMAN: I don't think anybody who has any fairness or is in their right mind would think that the president or the secretary of Homeland Security would raise an alert level and scare people for political reasons.
    And back in January, of course, there was this'n:
    LIEBERMAN: [L]ook at Saddam's record. He has got weapons of mass destruction. ... He tried to kill President Bush's father in 1993. How much more of a terrorist act could there be?
    Gosh, let me think on that...

    But I think that in the end, it can be traced back to this'n:
    MILLER: Hey, Joe, want to come over to my place Fourth of July weekend? We're barbecuing.

    LIEBERMAN: Gosh, Zell, I don't know, I've kind of got plans for the Fourth.

    MILLER: Come on, Joe. We're serving Kool-Aid.

    LIEBERMAN: Well, I do love some Kool-Aid...
    'Course you do.