Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Friday, 30 March 2007

Grasshopper and I are spending 1/2 hour each morning listening to our Pimsleur Mandarine Chinese language tapes.  So far, we have learned how to ask someone if they speak English, and also intimate that we "know a little Mandarin".  As you probably know, in Chinese it is important which "tone" you use.  There is a rising tone, a falling tone, and a tone that falls, then rises.  Sometimes you can have a word that ends with a rising tone, followed immediatly by a word with a falling/rising tone.


It is difficult for Western ears.  We have heard the syllable "pu" in several situations.  Grasshopper (9) was trying to explain it to Adventure Boy (a newly-minted 14) on the ride to AB's traditional birthday dinner.


"Well, you see, there are several kinds of poo.  There's poo that goes up, that's weird.  There's poo that goes down, that's normal.  And then...(he pauses ominously) there's wiggely poo."


He spent the rest of the evening in off-and-on fits of giggles.

This morning, we learned a new phrase that, the first time we heard it, sounded for all the world like "poo shot out" to our unpracticed ears.

I had to pause the CD for a few minutes for Grasshopper to collect his wits about him.

At least learning Chinese is fun for him...right?

Friday, 30 March 2007 11:35:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] |  | #

This is what Grasshopper Got for Adventure Boy for his birthday.  Sure, I kicked in the money.  But it's the thought that counts...right?

After all, The Zune he got "from me" was a speaker gift that Rocky got for speaking at a convention.

Rocky gave him a new video game.

Adventure Boy has had a VERY unusually good birthday.  :-)

Friday, 30 March 2007 05:31:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Happy Birthday, Adventure Boy!

(He's going to LOVE his present from his brother.  LOVE it!)

Wednesday, 28 March 2007 06:13:32 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #
Sunday, 25 March 2007

Page that made me wonder about spoof:

Thanks to "a small penguin" for sending it to me via e-mail

Sunday, 25 March 2007 22:00:14 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [7] | #

Skeptico takes an analogy from a believer in "psychic powers" and makes it do it's little turn on the catwalk.


(Hat Tip:  Bad Astronomy)

Sunday, 25 March 2007 06:54:23 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Saturday, 24 March 2007


I was going to be done with "300" commentary from conservatives...but Karen sent me this one and I couldn't resist.

It's by Victor Davis Hanson.

It is thoughtful, measured, sensible, and doesn't invent opportunities to smear "liberals" with defamatory characatures.

Now, I promise I'm done.

Saturday, 24 March 2007 20:51:46 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
At this point, I've found the "conservative" reviews to be almost as entertaining as the movie itself. They're tying themselves into knots trying to twist and beat and cajole it into being either a political statement they can praise, or an example of our decadant popular culture that they can decry...or some monstrous hybred in between.
Saturday, 24 March 2007 19:12:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #

Meet Dr. Kenneth Poppe

He wrote a book with a picture of funny-looking DNA on the cover.

He describes, in his church newsletter, how he surreptitiously slips religion to his science students at a public school.

Someone using his name got their belligerent on in the comments section of a Pharyngula post. (No, I don’t think it was him, but it was such a cute little spoof of “Culture Warrior” posturing I thought I’d let you enjoy it too.  There are more farther down in the comment thread, as well.)

He was interviewed by Dr. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries.  Yes, THAT Dr. James Kennedy.  The one who advocates Dominionist ideas.

The Dr. James Kennedy who once said:

 "The Christian community has a golden opportunity to train an army of dedicated teachers who can invade the public school classrooms and use them to influence the nation for Christ."

He is NOT the same Ken Poppe that co-chaired the Task Force for the Episcopal Church that recommended that the EC continue to bless same-sex civil unions. (In case you were wondering)

(Hat tip: Pharyngula)

Saturday, 24 March 2007 08:12:31 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  | #
Friday, 23 March 2007

Just a reminder, women, bring your drink with you when you leave the table.


It seems like such a simple thing, but it is easy to forget that information like this, which was drummed into us older women can drop off the radar and not be passed on to the next generation.

I'm just glad that other women were observant and looking out for their fellow human kind.

Friday, 23 March 2007 08:38:15 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #
Thursday, 22 March 2007
Thursday, 22 March 2007 20:17:56 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Someone sent me this Townhall article by Ben Shapiro in my e-mail (since I still can't view their sites due to my IP address being blocked by them.  Which is certainly not because they are a bunch of weeenies who can't take mild criticism, or because they are vindictive little bitches who like the feeling of power they can get from banning IP addresses with small numbers of users.  I'm sure there is a reasonable explination.  I'll let you know what it is just as soon as they answer the e-mails I sent them asking what it is.)

Here’s a fun link to a spoof site that addresses Ben Shapiro.

Anyway, Ben Shapiro doesn’t like the movie “300”.  But he likes that he can read into it stuff that he imagines “liberals” don’t like.  And he has (I imagine) a fair amount of fun quote-mining and torturing an alleged “liberal” quote, and a quote from someone in the Ahmadinejad administration in order to produce a shadow of the “liberals agree with the terrorists” cannard.  But let’s let Mr. Shapiro speak for himself.

"300" is not a particularly good movie. The comic-book tale of the battle of Thermopylae (480 B.C.) brims over with excessive nudity and violence. The dialogue is often laughable -- lines like "This is madness! This is Sparta!" leap to mind.

Oh, I don’t know…stilted and over-blown dramatic dialogue is, after all, one of the literary hallmarks of the epic.  Beowulf's swaggering challenges to Grendel come to mind.  Although in fairness, you might have to be a public-schooled liberal in order to see that.  After all, public schools don’t teach what cultural conservatives call Judeo-Christian values, but they DO familiarize you with all those pagan Gods and Goddessses so you can understand Greek literature, as well as non-Greek epics such as Beowulf, or even “Christian” work rife with pagan imagery like the epic poetry of John Milton.  If only liberal public schools didn’t love the roots of Western Culture so much, we might all agree with Ben Shapiro, and the world would be a better place.

As for the nudity and violence, I am surprised.  I would have thought that Ben, a (presumably) red-blooded American boy would have loved it.  But as a cultural conservative, I guess he’d rather it be suppressed and sublimated as religious zeal that only occasionally expresses itself in excessive binges that can be blamed on temptation by demonic forces.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

David Wenham, who plays a Spartan soldier, narrates throughout the movie; his narration is guffaw-inducing. "Only the hard and strong may call themselves Spartans. Only the hard . Only the strong ," Wenham gravely intones. At another point, over footage of Spartans graphically slaughtering the oncoming hordes of Persian dictator Xerxes, Wenham intensely growls, "We do what we've been trained to do. We do what we've been bred to do. We do what we were born to do." There are no descriptors for this kind of purposeful anti-subtlety.

Shorter Ben Shapiro “hu-huh…he said ‘hard’ hu-huh.”

“There are no descriptors for this kind of anti-subtlety”?  Um.  Yes, there are, in fact, descriptors for it.  Literary imagery, for instance.  You might, if you were the product of the liberal public school system, have come across it while studying literature.  If you had, you would realize that those words were drawing a parallel between the mental and physical “toughness (or “hardness”) of the Spartan people as depicted in the story.  You may realize that literary imagery uses certain qualities of descriptive language that are independent of what springs into the blood-engorged, hot-throbbing brains of young conservative weenies who simper and whine about sex and violence.  I’m sure that all this has a terrible effect on your delicate constitution, Ben, but try to hold it together, buddy.

Nonetheless, "300" is drawing a crowd. It is drawing a crowd for two reasons: First, the movie is visually interesting, combining over-the-top comic-book imagery with live-action realism in the same way "Sin City" did. Second, Americans are interested in watching movies that pit good against evil.

OK, no argument there.

The Spartans of "300" are brutal. The opening scene of the movie depicts a Spartan soldier, standing on a cliff overlooking a valley of skulls, inspecting a baby to make sure it is hardy enough. If the baby is too weak, we are told, it will be left for dead. This isn't exactly civilized conduct.

It is if you are a Spartan, living in the time when the movie is set.  Oh, I’m sorry.  That’s liberal moral relativism isn’t it?  I forgot.  We are supposed to judge cultures and history by our own measure, and our own values, rather than learning to see them as they saw themselves so as to understand them and actually learn something about humanity.  Just judging them from our own perspective so we can hold up our example as elevated above the rest of human history is so much better.  That way, we can see ourselves as having some sort of divine writ of exceptionalism.  Yes.  Excuse me.  Please, go on.

But the Persian hordes make the Spartans look like members of a British tea club. Xerxes is an androgynous giant of a man with more body piercings than Christina Aguilera. His camp is full of decadent bisexual promiscuity. He seeks worldwide dictatorship and threatens Sparta with mass murder of its male citizens, rape of its female citizens, and use of women and children as slaves if Sparta fails to submit to his rule.

Ben, you ARE aware that this is an obvious conscious interpretation of how the peoples often depict their opponents?  This couldn’t possibly be the result of a tradition in nationalistic epics of depicting one side as being completely right, and depicting the opposition as being completely without merit, right?  You define what you are, and then you selectively define your enemy as that which you are not.

The Spartans, by contrast, say they are fighting for "freedom." In which case, "300" is an old-fashioned battle between the forces of freedom and the forces of oppression.

Yes.  That is one possible element of an epic story.  Having one side champion a virtue, and the other side is inherently everything that is antithetical to that virtue.

And the left doesn't like it at all. Many reviewers have panned "300" not on artistic grounds, or even on grounds of inanity, but on the grounds that the Spartans in the film are a bunch of jackbooted thugs; that the tyranny they fight is less tyrannical than Sparta; that good vs. evil is too simplistic. "His troops are like al Qaeda in adult diapers," writes Kyle Smith of the New York Post. "Keeping in mind Slate's Mickey Kaus' Hitler Rule -- never compare anything to Hitler -- it isn't a stretch to imagine Adolf's boys at a "300" screening, heil-fiving each other throughout and then lining up to see it again." A.O. Scott makes the obligatory racial point: "It may be worth pointing out that unlike their mostly black and brown foes, the Spartans and their fellow Greeks are white."

Who is this “left” of which you speak?  The last time I checked, The New York Post was one of Rupert Murdoch’s little fiefdoms.  You don’t really think that the “liberals” who work for Rupert Murdoch actually represent liberal opinion, do you?  Really?

The Iranians don't like "300," either. Javad Shamqadri, an art adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, proclaims that "300" is "part of a comprehensive U.S. psychological war aimed at Iranian culture." "Following the Islamic Revolution in Iran," explains Shamqadri, "Hollywood and cultural authorities in the U.S. initiated studies to figure out how to attack Iranian culture … certainly, the recent movie is a product of such studies."

Yeah.  Megalomaniacle nut-bags tend to see themselves reflected everywhere, view themselves as attacked and embattled where they actually are not, and tend to read far, far too much into things, while at the same time missing the actual cultural relevance of the intended references and giving inappropriate weight to incidental facts.  (shrug) What ya gonna do?

Ben now ends his commentary on the movie “300”  by taking a paragraph or two to let his lips flap uselessly, making a lot of meaningless noises interspersed with specious swipes at liberals, confusions of Islam and liberalism, and spiced up with a little useless sophistry in a grumbling ramble that just sort of trials off into a feel-good re-frame of a nice-sounding platitude:

Of course, "300" is not meant to be a historically accurate portrayal of the battle of Thermopylae. It is a cartoonish movie with a simple theme -- a theme that resonates with the American public. It is no surprise that the Iranian regime -- the embodiment of evil in today's world -- objects to a movie depicting a conflict between ancient Western civilization and ancient Persian civilization as a conflict between good and evil. And it is not surprising that the left objects to any movie pitting freedom against tyranny and coming out squarely on the side of freedom.

"300" is not as morally murky as movies like "Syriana," "Babel" and "Kingdom of Heaven." The movie has many weaknesses, but its strength lies in its affirmation that there can be good, there can be evil, and that good must be willing to withstand evil's best efforts to annihilate it.


Is anyone else surprised that Ben had nothing to say about the fact that the movie also depicted the great weakness of Sparta to be a "evil" hold-over of reliance and delegation of too much power to religious leaders and superstitious mumbo-jumbo that will give it’s “spiritual” stamp of approval to the advantage of the side that gives out the biggest payday?


Or that the most slimy of all the politicians misused and abused moral principles that he himself didn’t value to silence opposition?


I suppose I could go through and point out all the "real reasons" why conservatives who hated the movie chose to hate it.  Or I could go through the movie and catalogue all the "real reasons" that the conservatives who liked the movie liked it (for instance, the hero was a despotic leader who made a unilateral decision to go to war against the advice and council of his allies and the deliberative body of his government AND, within the context of the story, was right to do so)...


...but that would just be silly.


Sorry, Ben, it’s just a story.  A re-telling of a timeless, compelling, epic story that was well told for what it was, preserving some classical elements and re-imagining others as would fit the purposes of the story-tellers (which was to entertain a modern audience that had some passing knowledge of both comic books and classical literature, a fondness for high production quality, stunning visuals and the occasional exposed breast and  death metal riff) and has no real meaning beyond that.

Thursday, 22 March 2007 09:41:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [7] | #
Wednesday, 21 March 2007

I found this blog at A Blog Around the Clock.  I think I like it.



So far, this is my favorite post: (it has pictures)

Wednesday, 21 March 2007 15:37:54 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Everything you ever never wanted to know about Michael Egnor.

I'm linking to this Google bomb rather than posting it, because I think you will actually find the posts in it informative, but I would rather not actually participate in a Google bomb designed to detract from someone. 

I'm sure Michael Egnor must have at least a very adequate reputation as a nerosurgeon, or he would not be so important a spokesman for the creationists, and it would be a shame if his career where he could actually help people was impeded (assuming he is competent and not a butcher, but in that case, someone who is googling to see if they should let him cut into their brain needs to be able to find that information).

On the other hand, I don't want my kids taught anti-science B.S. in science class, so go.  Find out about Michael Egnor.  Find out why he might be a good resource for information about neurosugical technique.  Find out why he might or might not be good for speaking out against child abuse, or whatever...and find out why so many many biologists think he's a catastrophically terrible source for information about evolutionary biology.  I just don't want to help Gogglebomb him.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007 15:22:22 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #

Just because I'm not a feminist, doesn't mean that I don't think us chicks have to stick together.  :-)

Reposted in it's entirety, stolen by permission from A Blog Around the Clock:



This is a crosspost to effect a Googlebomb, correcting an injustice against a fellow feminist blogger. Jill Filipovic, who blogs at Feministe and Ms. JD, is a NYU law student who has been the subject of cyber-obsession on a discussion board allegedly populated by law students. The discussions regarding Jill Filipovic (and many other female law students) are sexist and sexual in nature, rating the women’s physical attractiveness and fantasising about sexual contact, both consensual and non-consensual. Neither Jill Filipovic or any other of these women contributed, or gave their permission to be discussed, to the discussion board in question.

Jill Filipovic’s name and class routines etc have been regularly posted to this board, and at least one of the pseudonymous board-members claims to be Jill Filipovic’s classmate. Photos that Jill Filipovic posted (with full rights reserved) to an interent photo-storing and sharing site have also been posted to the sleazy discussion board without her permission. This is a horrendous invasion of Jill Filipovic’s privacy, a violation of copyright law, and calls the ethics and character of the alleged law-students participating in these discussions on the discussion board into question.

A major side-effect of an already nasty situation is that the sexist, objectifying cyber-obsession threads come up on the first page of internet search results on Jill Filipovic’s name. To an inexperienced user of the internet, it may even look as if Jill Filipovic and other female law students chose to compete in these Hot or Not rating competitions, instead of having their pictures posted without permission.

This post is an attempt to balance those internet results to point to the significant writings of Jill Filipovic instead, using the Googlebomb tactic and also linking this post to social networking sites (eg. del.ici.ous, Stumbleupon). Please feel free to copy any or all of what I’ve written here to your own blog in order to help change the top-ranked search engine results for Jill Filipovic. If you don’t have your own blog then please at least link to one of Jill’s post[s] listed below at your preferred social networking site and give it the tag “Filipovic” (as well as any others you think appropriate).

I have linked to these sites in this post:
Jill Filipovic’s bio page at Feministe
Jill Filipovic’s blog posts at the Ms. JD blog
Jill Filipovic’s article about these scummy lawschool sleazebags at Feministe
Jill Filipovic’s article at Ms. JD: When Law Students Attack

Tuesday, 20 March 2007 06:52:35 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Monday, 19 March 2007

Well, you don't win anything, but you DID inspire a new segment.

Whoever got here via the search criteria "how to model ovulating with Trigonometry", you are a winner!

Here's a link to the search results page:

Monday, 19 March 2007 16:07:49 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Wow.  Finding the link to Max’s site inspired me to look for the names of other people I’d had friendships with in Junior High and High School.

I did a search on Lee Helgen, because I knew I would find him.  He’s a politician in St. Paul now.  Ward Five City council member in St. Paul, MN

Lee and I had a falling out over something really stupid when I was in 11th grade.  I behaved foolishly and thoughtlessly and ended up not only embarrassing myself, but also doing damage to his car (no, I wasn’t driving it).  Lee was understandably upset.  I was ham-handed in my attempts to reconcile the friendship.  Lee and I never talked again, but I have no ill-will toward him as the whole mess was all my fault.  I think I’ve mentioned being kind of screwed up when I was a kid, right?  Some people, at some points in their life, are more trouble than they are worth, and if they don’t show signs of even thinking about changing, it is perfectly moral and ethical to simply say “No more.  You will bring no more chaos to my life”.  He could have done a lot of damage to me, if he’d wanted revenge, or to exercise some kind of righteous power… but he didn’t.  He just let me know that he was done, that I should do something to rescue myself from chaos, and walked away.

Anyway, I’ve always thought of Lee as kind of a stand-up guy, but this publication is obsessed with him.

The picture that they paint would have you believe that Lee is some sort of shadowy and rutheless figure somehow under the thrall of local religious leaders and the “liberal” big Pull Tabs lobby, and the Catholic Church.

I especially liked this paragraph:

Helgen objected to a specialty drink advertised at the bar which was called “Diva’s naughty fruit”. This drink consisted of cherries, olives, and pineapple soaking in vodka. But to Helgen it might have been like the forbidden fruit that Eve offered to Adam - something that was sexually provocative. Council Member Helgen also did not like that fact that Diva’s featured a singer named “Rowdy Cowboy” on Thursday evenings. “Rowdy Cowboy”, also known as “Bo Billy”, was a Nashville recording star who sang Country and Western songs. Maybe Helgen thought that his presence at the bar incited rowdy or violent behavior. There was also an elevated platform at one end of the bar room which looked like - but was not - a place for nude dancing.

It paints Lee as some sort of anti-alcohol puritan, which is just funny to me.  Lee would have to have changed a LOT since I knew him to get to that point.  He was kind of a goofy, irreverent, sarcastic kid. You all most likly reacall how, in school, the smart, serious, thinking people often put up an armor of wise-cracking bravado.  The picture of him as an anti-alcohol puritanical crusader abusing power to wipe out booze and sexual implications just cracks me up.

I DO believe that Lee might have become more religious, as people sometimes do when they get older, but going after a bar owner because she’s Ojibwe and he doesn’t like that some of her specialties have sexy names?  I don’t buy it.  I could be wrong, because I haven’t talked to him in years, but it just doesn’t track for me.  Maybe someone else who kept in touch with him can shed more light.

Oh, and if you don’t follow any of the other links, go to this one.  There is a photo of a protest depicting Lee and Father Mike as racists and serving money, ridiculing them for their religion and politics…THEN, lower on the page, it triumphantly trumpets the victory of Michelle Bachman;  Minnesota’s favorite crazy Jesus lady, who wants creationism taught as science in schools, and thinks that the US has entered into a secret deal to split Iraq with Iran.

Good grief.  The creepy weird people are everywhere.  It’s really disappointing.

Monday, 19 March 2007 10:28:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  | #
Saturday, 17 March 2007

Meet Veljko Kadijevi.  I was introduced to him through A Blog Around the Clock, who calls him a war criminal.  So do others.  He is named as a co-conspirator in Milosivic’s indictment, so it seems a LOT of people think so.

The US government apparently doesn’t think so though.  Certainly not, or they would NEVER have used him as a military advisor in Iraq.  So, I wonder if they will extradite him to be tried for War Crimes when the request comes through?

He seems like their kind of guy, so maybe they’ll decide to keep him.

Also, I wonder if Mrs. Frankenstein knows he stole her hairstyle.

Saturday, 17 March 2007 06:16:11 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Friday, 16 March 2007

Ben at EclecticsAnonymous recently blogged about Daniel Jackson, and implied that my fan-girl mental frolics might be slightly less than purely cerebral.

Balderdash I say! (If you will excuse my language).

Nerdy less-than-physically-perfect men have been my downfall since I was very young.

My friend Barb will recall a certain spindly, large-nosed, acne-plagued actor from our highschool that nearly came between us as friends (I saw him FIRST!)  I was in the pit orchestra, he was playing “Marryin’ Sam”  in Lil’ Abner.  I learned all of his lines before HE did.

Certain friends still occasionally mock me for what they only assume must be my mental-illness induced view of Jeff Goldblum (Here's a better picture).  What can I say?  I think he's cute, and it's because of his quirky, nerdy persona.  (In my defense, I never saw The Fly…from what I hear, that would have short-circuited the Jeff Goldblum thing right out of the gate).

And come on, Jon Stewart, while he has gotten awards for sexiness, is not exactly a smoldering tower of cut –out masculinity.  Yet I find him incredibly sexy. 

Sorry Ben, it’s the brains, baby.

But I’m not ashamed to admit it...those new biceps Michael Shanks was suddenly sporting a few seasons into the show didn’t take any air out of the tires.  And there's no denying that without the nerding-up he gets to play Daniel Jackson for SG-1, Michael Shanks is classically georgous.


Friday, 16 March 2007 09:59:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #
Thursday, 15 March 2007

Meet Steven Milloy

Fox News. Really likes him.

He runs

He doesn’t seem to think that second-hand smoke is a very big deal. (and Philip Morris likes him)

He doesn’t seem to believe in anthropogenic forcers for Global Climate Change. (and ExxonMobile likes him)

He says there’s “uncertainty” about macroevolution, and there’s no reliable evidence that ingesting lead is bad for waterfowl. (and the Cato Institute likes him)

He also seems to think that DDT and Asbestos got bad raps.

Thursday, 15 March 2007 23:22:22 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

It thought I would take time out from my busy day of strangleing praying school children  being a mouthy liberal doing the laundry and vacuuming to find out how to contact the Townhall people about them blocking my ability to view their webpages.

I did a whois search for, and found the name of their editor. ( a guy by the name of Jonathan Garthwaite.  I don't know if he's the guy to contact, but I bet he can tell me who can help me.  The bit didn't result in any response.  The e-mail didn't bounce back to me, so SOMEBODY has that address, but apparently they don't know what I'm talking about, don't care, or are too busy to answer.

At any rate, I will keep trying to figure out what is going on.  I'll keep you posted.

One thing I learned, they were founded by the Heritage Foundation, but are now owned by Salem Communications

Thursday, 15 March 2007 09:48:32 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Tuesday, 13 March 2007

I appear to be banned from viewing the website from this ISP.

Is it just because of the previous post on my little old blog?

I wasn't even that mean.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 21:43:05 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [14] | #

Here is some information on mercury, autism and immunizations .

Some right-wing anti-science libertarian types don’t like immunizations.  They don’t like immunizations to be mandatory, because they feel it denies them their “freedom” to not be immunized, and they suspect that “public health”, like anything that has the word “public” in front of it, is just a plot to take away their “freedom”.

Some lefty-tree-hugger anti-science –types don’t like immunizations because they are “unnatural”.

Some people are worried about mercury poisoning in general, and it is the trace amounts of mercury in the shots that worries them.

Reader, commenter, friend, and fellow blogger, Karen recently sent me a link to this article by John Stossel  at the Townhall website.  I found this article to be more interesting for what it DIDN’T say than for what it said.

First of all, Mr. Stossel starts out invoking the dreaded “Kennedy” name.  Booga booga booga.  Kennedy.  Gather the children and run for the hills.  Circle the conservative wagons.  There’s a KENNEDY involved.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is an activist against pollution in general, and has taken an interest in Mercury specifically (mercury is one or the waste products of fossel-fuel burning power plants).  I believe that he is in error where the facts are concerned when it comes to immunizations, but it is not due to an anti-industrial liberal commie plot that he’s involved in the issue.  It is not scare-mongering that brought Robert Kennedy Jr. into the fray.  It is good intentions, a real issue, and a not-so-subtle dose of mission creep.

Stossel goes on to point out that “As March of Dimes researchers put it, "Changes in diagnosis account for the observed increase in autism." Sure enough, California data show the rise in autism diagnoses almost exactly matches a decline in cases of retardation.”

As far as I know, and I'm no expert, this is true.  The advent of the Autism Spectrum model has caused a number of different diagnosis to be lumped together under the umbrella of autism.  Also, more children are being diagnosed with these disorders due to several factors.

Stossel goes on to blame one single factor: “"People that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic," Dr. Offit said, "because when you give that label of, say, autistic spectrum disorder, you allow that child then to qualify for services."

Imagine that. A trendy diagnosis being driven by government-paid services.”

Of course it is convenient for Mr. Stossel to put the entire burden down to the avarice of government schools.  I’m sure that the extra funding per child diagnosed with a learning disability is one way to help offset the cuts that cause crowded classrooms and other woes, but that isn’t the only reason there has been a jump in the rate of diagnosis for these disorders.

One factor could be an increased awareness of the problems students with learning disabilities face, and the growing awareness that their potential need not be wasted if we only give them a little specialized attention and help.  Motivation to provide that help is at an all-time high in the school systems, even to the extent that it can become egregious and over-bearing if you don’t happen to believe that your child has need of their interventions.

Another could be the fact that in schools increasingly burdened with large class sizes and (unfunded) mandated performance requirements, there is less and less tolerance in the system for children who perform in an anomalous way.  Children who don’t hit the milestones on schedule used to have time to grow and develop.  There was some latitude for children and teachers to cope with small degrees of learning difference.  That latitude is disappearing.  There is no longer time for the geeky and the nerdy to get on board with their unique approach to learning.  They must conform or be “helped “ to conform.  The very existence of their school can depend on it.

Yet another might be the effect of “parent advocacy support groups" some of which are at least partly funded by the pharmaceutical industries, encouraging parents to procure a diagnosis (and treatment) for their children.  Far from being an attack on Big Pharma, the incidence of the diagnosis of learning disabilities is quite in their favor as the profit on an immunization is realized once or at most a few times, while the cocktails of drugs needed by a child with learning disabilities can become quite a bonanza for them. (Go to the CHADD website and find a parent support forum.  Just read for a while, it won't be long before you encounter at least one parent whose child is on several medications at a time.)

But all of that is very complicated, and addressing it would make it so that the burden would not appear to fall so neatly on the shoulders of the Kennedy family and the conservative bugaboo of a liberal public school kleptocracy.

But what ABOUT mercury poisoning?  After all, there are people who actually suffer the effects of mercury poisoning, and if they aren’t getting toxic levels of mercury from immunizations; where oh where could it be coming from?  Does anyone else know of some large, highly profitable business interest that could be poisoning our environment with mercury as part of the waste production they put into the environment?

Anybody?  Anybody?

Or were we supposed to just conclude that mercury isn’t that big of a deal and write all mercury fears off as anti-business liberal commie fear mongering?

Who knows, but the one conclusion I've come to is that I will go just about anywhere other than for a fair and balanced treatment of any complex issue.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:32:59 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  |  | #

It's weird that I am sitting in my office at my computer, IMing with my cousin who is half-a-world away in the middle of a war zone in Iraq talking about the flood in my back yard while he plays a game of on-line tic-tack-toe with his wife's niece in Bemidji.

That just seems weird to me.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 09:41:07 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #
Monday, 12 March 2007

One of my Kung Fu friends is a guy from India.  He's just started a business where he pairs up people with master's degrees in Math with students here in the U.S. for tutoring sessions.  They work online together.  The tutor in India has the books that Adventure Boy's school uses, and she can help him with whatever chapter they are on.

Adventure Boy is getting the first of three free tutoring sessions this week.

I'm not sure what to think about this.  I like the idea of getting AB a math tutor, especially for the summer.  We could most likely not afford this level of expertise and time if we went with someone here...and there is the added benefit that it is on the computer, and it is totally interactive and he seems to be haveing an easier time paying attention than a face-to-face...

...but then there is the whole outsourcing thing.

And it's my friend's business, and I would like to give him my business because I know he's a good guy and he's a fair person...and I always prefer to deal with people I know and trust.  And if I can help a friend out by giving them my business I would rather do that if I can.

Dilemmas dilemmas.

On top of that, poor Adventure Boy had a day today.  School all day, with rehersal for the musical after school (he's in the pit orchestra of The Music Man), then he went to the gym to work out, came home and watched one half hour of TV, and then had an hour of math tutoring, and now it is after his bedtime.

Kind of a busy day for a thirteen year old.

Monday, 12 March 2007 20:56:55 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Sunday, 11 March 2007

"How barbarous, to deny men the privilage of pursuing what they imagine to be their proper concerns and interests!  Yet, in a sense, this is what you are doing when you allow your indignation to rise at their wrongdoing; for after all, they are only following their own apparent concerns and interests.  You say they are mistaken?  Why then, tell them so, and explain it to them, instead of being indignant."

                                                                           --Marcus Aurelius Book VI note 27


I realized that I had been neglecting Marcus Aurelius, and it does show in my approach to life recently.  Since I found this one instructive, I thought I'd share it.

Sunday, 11 March 2007 07:06:44 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] |  | #
Saturday, 10 March 2007

He stuck a stick into a hornet's nest, and stirred it around real good.

And now a lot of REALLY SMART hornets are all abuzz.

But I'm guessing that, instead of running away and jumping in a lake like a sensible person (even cartoon characters know that's the appropriate response to the situation), he's going to just stand there swatting ineffectually at them while they outmaneuver him at every turn.

Or maybe he'll just whine and cry about how they are oppressing him for his religion.

Saturday, 10 March 2007 13:15:43 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

I'm always happy to help out a friend when they ask that question...but I like it even better when they also offer $$$$.  And when it puts me in touch with a business that might need to hire me in the doesn't get any better than that.  :-)

Saturday, 10 March 2007 11:23:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

Frecklescassie is doing a series on children of illegal immigrants held in prison conditions with their families.

Freckles is a freshman in High School.  Her blog focuses on social justice issues.  Most notably, children's issues, soldier's issues, and Hurricane Katrina survivor's issues.

Saturday, 10 March 2007 10:39:19 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

A primer

Now, let's see if we can do something before it gets to the point where this is necessary.  As I mentioned in the comments section of another post, I like civilization.

In particular, I'd like to see us rescue science so that certain elements of our population don't resort to superstitions like vampire slaying.

Saturday, 10 March 2007 06:37:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Friday, 09 March 2007
Friday, 09 March 2007 20:38:03 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

Jason apologizes to anyone he happened to annoy by trying to convert them while he was going through a religious phase.

I also apologize to those students I went to grade school with at Horace May Elementary in Bemidji, MN.  I know I was obnoxious about it, and I am sorry.

You're just fine the way you are, you are not a vile sinner, and you are not going to hell unless you repent your evil ways.  Also, the devil isn't out to get you.  That is all.

Friday, 09 March 2007 17:30:27 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

A long long time ago, there was this college girl named Karen, who worked at a fabric store.  Karen was also Adventure Boy and Grasshopper's Spanish tutor.  Anyway, one day Karen called me up and said "Hey!  You sew, right?  I've got a car full of free fabric, you want it?"  I said "Um...yes?"  Not sure if I did, but figuring that saying "no" without more information would be foolish.

Turns out, some old lady had come by the store where Karen worked and unloaded several large boxes of scraps...a lifetimes accumulation of fabric leftovers onto Karen, who drove them to my house and unloaded them onto me.

Over the years, I tore the fabric into strips to bring up to my mom's house and weave into rugs, I donated a bunch, a few pieces at a time, to various crafts and art projects whenever the kid's teachers sent home requests for fabric.  I usually donated enough for several children.

Last spring our basement flooded, and some of the stuff was mouldy before I got to it and had to be thrown out.

I made patches, and I gave peices of fabric away to friends for projects.

I made quilts.  I just finished two quilt tops for a double-sided lap quilt made out of girly floral flannels and light denim shirting.

And I took the left-overs from THAT and I'm making some rice bags for my learning specialist assistants for my special needs Kung Fu classes.

They "complain" about being stiff and sore the day after class every week, so I am going to give them these rice bags that you can heat in the microwave and place on the sore muscles for relief.

And then the gift fabric will be gone.  Fin.  End of story.

Friday, 09 March 2007 17:02:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Thursday, 08 March 2007

The Youth pastor ladys says "I believe these children made an impact in heaven.  God hears the cries of children."

I'm thinkin' if that's true, lady, may he have the mercy for your soul that you denied these children.  The pain and torture on those little faces just knocked the breath right out of me.

What a sick, sick bunch of perverts.

Speaking of sick, sick perverts, what about when Ted Haggard tells that Levi kid "Milk the cute kid thing until your thirty, and then you'll have content."

How unnerving is that?

Tha pastor lady thinks liberals will watch this movie and shake in their boots.  Not sooo much, because I know how this sort of belief burns through you, and burns itself out.  Yes, it leaves behind a lot of charred damage, but a few years of drinkin' and street fightin' and going to college classes will get you right as rain.

But on the upside, there was something terribly grimly amuseing in seeing pastor Haggard use the word "FABLULOUS!".

Thursday, 08 March 2007 20:31:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [6] | #
Wednesday, 07 March 2007
Rock ON, Shakespeare's Sister

About the important distinctions between hatefulness, obscenity and bad language.

(Via A Blog Around the Clock)

Wednesday, 07 March 2007 18:12:08 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] | #
Tuesday, 06 March 2007

Remember the Game Cops and Robbers?

I just heard about a variation that my niece was playing at her church called “Romans and Christians”.  It is a fun game that can also instill children with the expectation that they will be unjustly persecuted for their beliefs, unless they convert their “persecutors” to Christianity.  (There doesn’t appear to be a “live and  let live” option in the game).

Now, the College Republicans have come up with a new game:  Catch An Illegal Immigrant.”

I think Ann Coulter just wants to stick with “Smear the Queer” though.  Good thing she doesn’t seem to believe girls are good at anything.  She’s unlikely to ever catch the ball, although she seems to have the hands for it.

One wonders what the Republican version of “kiss or kill” will look like when they get around to developing it?

“One game, called ‘kiss or kill’, requires one player to chase another of the opposite sex, get him or her down, say ‘Kiss or Kill?’ and proceed with the kiss or the ‘strike’ as the downed player prefers.”

And they said the grown-ups would be in charge.

Tuesday, 06 March 2007 09:56:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [8] | #
a Ninja
You scored 10 Honor, 5 Justice, 6 Adventure, and 2 Individuality!
You are a soldier of the night. You rely on no more than your cunning and your repuation to strike fear in the hearts of lord and peasant alike. You've a sense of honor, but one that comes from within, not imposed from outside.

Black clothes and shuriken for you. You're gonna do just fine.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 99% on Ninjinuity
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You scored higher than 99% on Knightlyness
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You scored higher than 99% on Cowboiosity
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You scored higher than 99% on Piratical Bent
Link: The Cowboy-Ninja-Pirate-Knight Test written by fluffy71 on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Tuesday, 06 March 2007 08:56:53 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] | #
Monday, 05 March 2007
Monday, 05 March 2007 06:46:26 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [24] | #

After all, my fellow citizens, it is neither extraordinary or unexpected [sic]that the constitution offered for your consideration, should meet with opposition.  It is in the nature of man to pursue his own interest, in preference to the public good; and I do not mean to make any personal reflection, when I add, that it is in the interest of a very numerous, powerful, and respectable body to counteract and destroy the excellent work produced by the late convention.  All the offices of government, and all the appointees for the administration of justice and the collection of the public revenue, which transferred from the individual to the aggregate sovereignty of the states, will necessarily turn the stream of influence and emolument into a new channel.  Every person therefore, who either enjoys, or expects to enjoy, a place of profit under the present establishment, will object to the proposed innovation; not, in truth, because it is injurious to the liberties of his country, but because it affects his schemes of wealth  and consequence.

                                                                                                         --James Wilson, Philadelphia speech, Oct. 6 1787

Monday, 05 March 2007 06:40:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Sunday, 04 March 2007

Anne Lieberman at Boker Tov, Boulder!   wants to know why Thomas Jefferson owned a Quoran.  Imagine her wonderment if she found out that he also taught himself Arabic!

"Before long, Jefferson began teaching himself to read Arabic. He acquired some basic Arabic grammars including Rudimenta Linguae Arabicae, by Thomas Erpensius, and Simplification des Langues Orientales, the Arabic grammar prepared by his friend and correspondent, C.-F. Volney. He also obtained a copy of Heinrich Sike's edition of the infancy gospel with the text in Arabic and Latin on opposite pages. In addition, he added a copy of Euclid's Geometry in Arabic to his library (Sowerby, nos. 4744-4747). Taken together, these works show that Jefferson's systematic attempt to learn Arabic closely paralleled the procedure he had established for learning other languages during his student days. He familiarized himself with basic grammar, read a text in the new language with a parallel text in a familiar language adjacent, and then read a familiar text in the new language. Not only did Jefferson recognize the importance of learning Arabic himself, he also recognized that other Americans should have the opportunity to learn the language. Revising the laws of Virginia in the late 1770s, he drafted a bill that proposed expanding the curriculum of William and Mary to include Oriental languages (Papers 2:540)."

                                                                                -- Historian Kevin J. Hayes “How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur’an”

Sunday, 04 March 2007 11:14:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Sparring with REALLY strong guy yesterday.  He was acquiring some new skills that involved finesse.  Acquiring new skills often means a temporary decrease in control and focus expressed in the older skills.

As the swelling goes down,the bruises are beginning to appear.

Sunday, 04 March 2007 10:05:40 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #

Skatje had this quote up in her blog, and I liked it, so you can have it too.  Enjoy.

"Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakeable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time."
-Richard Dawkins

Sunday, 04 March 2007 09:32:13 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Saturday, 03 March 2007
Saturday, 03 March 2007 11:29:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

"By sect. 8, of the first article of the proposed plan ofgovernment, 'the Congress are to have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, but all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States.'  Now what can be more comprehensive than these words; not content by other sections of this plan, to grant all the great executive powers of a confederation, and a STANDING ARMY IN TIME OF PEACE, that grand engine of oppression, and moreover the absotute controul over the commerce of the United States and all external objects of revenue, such as unlimited imposts uponimports, &c -- they are to be vested with every species of internal taxation; -- whatever taxes, duties and excises that they may deem requisite for the general welfare, may be imposed on the citizens of these states, levied by the officers of Congress, distributed through every district of America; and the collection would be enforced by the standing army, however grievous or improper they may be.  The Congress may construe every purpose for which the state legislatures now lay taxes, to be for the general welfare, and thereby seize upon every object of revenue."

                                                                                  --Samuel Bryan "A Most Daring Attempt to Establish A Despotic Aristocracy"

                                                                                     Independant Gazetteer (Philidelphia), October 5 1787

                                                                                    (Emphasis in original)        

It's interesting that some of the people who opposed (anti-federalists)the constitution were worried about the same things as some of the people who claim to be defending it today (anti-federal "Libertarians").  I'm not sure exactly what the means, but it is interesting.  

What seems clear to me, is that the anti-federalists didn't trust "the people" to do their job as checks of government over-reach, while the Federalists counted upon it quite heavily.        

[Personal note:  I'd better watch it and stop quoteing Samuel Bryan, or the accusations will fly that I'm some sort of reincarnation of a Samuel Bryan fan-girl who wants to give birth to his clone or something)  :-)  Oh well, people WILL talk.]                

Saturday, 03 March 2007 10:16:16 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

I have been quoting Federalists as a general rule, but here is a quote from an anti-federalist, an opponant of our constitution, describing what he sees as (one of) it's weaknesses.

"A Republican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people are virtuous, and where property is pretty equally divided, in such a government the people are sovereign and their sense or opinion is the criterion of every public measure; for when this ceases to be the case, the nature of the government is changed, and an aristocracy, monarchy or despotism will rise on its ruin.  The highest responsibility is to be attained, in a simple struction of government, for the great body of the people will never steadily attend to the operations of government, and for want of due information are liable to be imposed on.  If you complicate the plan by various orders, the people will be perplexed and divided in their sentiments about the source of abuses or misconduct, some will impute it to the senate, others to the house of representatives, and so on, that the interposition of the people may be rendered imperfect or perhaps wholly abortive."

                                                                                       --Samuel Bryan "A Most Daring Attempt to Establish a Despotic Aristocracy"

                                                                                          Independant Gazetteer (Philidelphia) October 5, 1787


Mr. Bryan's solution for this issue was a unicameral legislature with short term limits.  I think his conclusion would not fix the problem, but his apprehension of the dangers was uncanny.  I don't think that  we have had an historical problem with the complexity of the legislature's composition, but instead by an apathetic populous, and a corrupt and degraded Anna Nichole Smith Ghoul Squad press.

Saturday, 03 March 2007 06:52:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Friday, 02 March 2007

Conservatives cheer when Ann Coulter calls a Presidential candidate a “Faggot”.

But break out the book-banning when a Newberry Award-winning book uses the word “scrotum”.

And THEN they are shocked that a pro-civil rights crowd doesn't balk when they quote a scientist demanding in millitant rhetoric that people stand up to them.

(thanks for the scrotum related link, Ben, I was saving it.  Unfortunatly, this entry doesn't involve Wookies, unless you count Ann Coulter)

And yes, you are all welcome for the image that very likely conjured.  :-)

If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's the backstory.

Friday, 02 March 2007 20:14:12 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #

good grief, I just heard a story on MPR that gave my ears that "not so fresh feeling".

Some Dems want to put Johnson on a committee!  This man should not be given ANY more responsibility until he is cleared of all suspicion in the Abramoff thing.

ugh.  I'm gonna research up and be writing a letter of two today.  We didn't give them a majority so they could pull bone-headed stuff like this.

Oh yeah, and now I need to irrigate my ear canals

Friday, 02 March 2007 09:04:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Thursday, 01 March 2007

I'm guessing we've had about ten inches of snow today.  Adventure Boy is crossing his fingers for a snow day.  Considering he's 14, and he's only had one snow day in his life, I hope he doesn't decide to hold his breath.  Grasshopper refuses to get his hopes up.  He's seen Adventure Boy's crushed expression too many times. 

It's still going, though.  Rocky's been out and run all over the place with the snowblower, making trails in the yard so we can get to the shed, replenish the birdfeeder, etc.  He's shoveled off the deck, but it needs it again.

Kung fu was cancelled tonight.  :-(

But I don't think we'll miss school tomorrow.  All the other districts around us closed the schools two hours early.  Not EP.  The boys feel gyped!

But on the upside, I am expecting a shipment of Mandarin language CDs soonish!  Woo Hoo!  Mandarin! 


[UPDATE: Eden Prairie schools canceled school tomorrow!  Grasshippers first snow day!  Woo Hoo!  There are already plans being made for kid gatherings here tomorrow.  We've had over a foot now, and could get as much as 22 inches of snow by tomorrow morning.]

Thursday, 01 March 2007 20:50:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
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