Saturday, June 29, 2002
Something Else Wrong With This Picture

You've probably heard about this already:

MIAMI, June 26 — A Muslim woman who says the state is violating her religious rights in demanding that she remove her veil for a driver's license photograph will be in court this week to try to regain her driving privileges.

I'm no expert on Muslim customs but going by everything I've always read on the subject, in those countries where women are required to cover their faces they are also not allowed to drive. Apparently this woman likes some religious beliefs more than others. I don't see what all the fuss is about anyway. Most drivers license photos are so bad no one could possibly recognize the person in them so all of us might as well be veiled when they're taken. I'm going to watch and see how this one comes out. If she wins I'm going to demand to be allowed to wear a veil when I have my driver's license photo taken. They have no right to discriminate against me based on my lack of religious beliefs.

Still More on You Know What

Every time I swear to myself that I'm going to drop the Pledge of Allegiance issue and move on I discover that someone else has written something that I must comment on. N.Z. Bear has a lengthy commentary on the subject which I think is amoung the most sensible so far. This line in particular got my attention:

Personally, I think this is just another sign that Christians have abdicated being an influence on their society with a fortress mentality.

Yes! Exactly! What ever happened to "Render unto Ceaser" and "My kingdom is not of this world"? When I was growing up religion was a bigger part of most people's lives and yet rarely, if ever, mixed with worldly affairs. Activist Christians have dirtied religion by bringing it down to a worldly level. Religion once helped people rise above worldly things. Spirituality was of primary importance. The world was there and often evil but religion helped people to deal with it and keep their faith in spite of the challenges the world presented. If Christians tried to change the world it was through the actions of individuals doing whatever they could do personally to make their corner of the world a little bit better. Politics is a dirty business and by getting involved in it, religious people do not clean up government; they dirty religion.

Friday, June 28, 2002
Almost Missed It

Today is Richard Rogers' birthdate. If it wasn't so late at night after a busy day I'd probably have more to say.

Clearing up the Pledge Controversy Once and For All

We have all been so wrong! Thanks to Chris Puzak.

From the Recently Updated List

Culture Blog - Pop culture and politics. I'm not sure yet what I think of this one.

Chronicles of a Poet-Warrior - Excellent blog, from what little I've seen. I'll probably add this one to my permanent list.

Title Subject to Change - Possibly interesting. Good comments on the Pledge of Allegiance controversy. A few "life in general" posts.

Don't Poke the Bear - Gutsy commentary. (I like the name too.) This one might be another keeper.

Distorting the Medium - Another one worth looking into.

A lot of good bloggers in action today. I could sit here doing this all afternoon but I need to tear myself away from this machine and get some things done.

Thursday, June 27, 2002
Threat to Morality That Has Been Ignored for Over a Century

From an article in Smithsonian about the first ice-making machine, which was patented in 1851.

But the notion that humans could create ice bordered on blasphemy. In the New York Globe, one writer complained of a "crank" down in Florida "that thinks he can make ice by his machine as good as God Almighty."

The "crank," Dr. John Gorrie, never achieved success with his invention. Investors withdrew their support because of the continued widespread ridicule of Gorrie and his ice machine. Gorrie died in 1855 at age 51.

All Worked Up About Big Little Things

Looks like the whole blogosphere is heating up over this Pledge of Allegiance issue. I've left comments here and there. (and here)

I said before that people are getting too worked up over just two little words. In one sense it is unimportant. In the big picture, it makes almost no difference whether the words "under God" are in the Pledge of Alegiance or not. With or without those words, life would go on pretty much as it always has. But in another sense, it is important. It's important because people feel that it's important, and no matter how this thing comes out a lot of people are going to feel that they have lost something important.

I am guilty of getting all worked up about people getting all worked up about this issue. That's because extremists scare me whether they're on the Left or the Right. They both get way too much attention and politicians pander to both extremes while ignoring the moderate majority. When election day comes around we're left without any real choice, and when the election is over we're left without any real representation. We have too many stupid laws that the majority do not want at all, passed in response to the wailing and whining of a handful of extremists.

The words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. They should never have been added, but the person who brought the suit was just stupid. He had to know what kind of reaction there would be, and just hearing the words isn't going to change anyone's religion. Our kids hear a lot of stuff we as parents don't approve of. We can't ban everything we don't want our kids to hear. The best we can do is to just set a good example - be the kind of person we want our kids to grow up to be. Even that doesn't always work because kids have minds of their own, and that's the way it should be. Maybe we need to get over the notion that our kids are ours to mold into whatever we think they should be.

I expect that the court's decision on this issue will be overturned and if it's not it will be ignored. Though I don't exactly like that outcome I won't be too upset about it either. I'm far more concerned about the school vouchers decision. Our tax dollars can now go to religious schools. I feel we are headed somewhere I really don't want to go.

Addendum to Much Ado About a Three-Letter Word

There's quite a little war going on over this topic at VodkaPundit. Look everyone - Having the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance does not in any way force anyone to believe in God, join a church or vote Republican. NOT having the word "God" in it would not deny anyone the right practice their religion and in fact would not affect religion in America in any way. Everyone just get a freakin' grip already!

Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Hey! Them's Fightin' Woids!

Here's a brand new blog with the title Blogs Suck. I wasn't expecting much with a title like that but I clicked on it anyway and was pleasantly surprised. This guy writes well and I think he's going to fit right into the warblogging community. Check it out.

Much Ado About a Three-Letter Word

A court has decided that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional because it contains the word "God" and everyone is in an uproar about it. Well, I'm sorry but I agree that it is inappropriate if not actually unconstitutional. The words "under God" weren't even in the original Pledge and have no business being there. The sensible thing to do would be to just take those words out and go back to saying the original Pledge of Allegiance. But of course that wouldn't make anyone happy either. All the church folks would be in an uproar about it and the politically correct folks would probably decide that patriotism was unconstitutional and start whining about that.

On the other hand, having the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance isn't actually hurting anyone or forcing religion on anyone so if it makes some people happy, why not? And if you really don't believe in God then the word is meaningless isn't it? Why should you be bothered by a meaningless three-letter word? I can think of two possible answers to this. 1) They are afraid God really does exist and just don't want to be reminded of Him. or 2) Beliefs don't have anything to do with it. The politically correct crowd just simply like to whine and get on TV and be the center of attention.

Internet Radio Blog - Aural Delight

Jesus of Lakeview

Here's an interesting story. There are no permalinks. See 6.25.2002.

Words That Will Haunt You Forever

A while back when the "World Wrestling Federation" changed its name to "World Wrestling Entertainment" I couldn't resist gloating about the fact that they now have the word "entertainment" in their name. There have been many times when I've heard wrestling fans get seriously hot under the collar when someone dared to say that wrestling is "entertainment" rather than sport, so of course this was just too much to pass up. Well, that short post (which I'm not going to bother to look up) has been haunting me ever since. Every day my referrers include one or more Google searches for "wrestling" or "WWE" along with other interesting words. I've had searches for "massive muscle female wrestlers," "nude wrestling," "does anyone in the wwwe has any children," and this morning "jewish wwe wrestlers." (I guess I'm stereotyping but I've always thought of Jewish people as being too dignified for pro wrestling.) Here's the prizewinner so far, if I happened to be giving prizes for empty-headed perverted nonsense: "how to interact with wwe women and have interactive sex with them?" And this was the first site on the list!

I know that posting this is only going to increase the number of hits from that kind of search, but I just had to say this to anyone who happens to find this site while searching for wrestling stuff: Oh WOW are you ever on the wrong page! But you're welcome here anyway. Stick around, come back to visit often and learn what else life has to offer.

A Hovhaness Morning

I have two CDs by Alan Hovhaness. One has Mysterious Mountain and several short pieces. The other, the Mt. St. Helen's and City of Light symphonies. I've had people tell me that one Hovhaness CD is all you need because everything he wrote sounds alike. Well, there is something to that. He does have a recognizable style. So did a lot of other composers. That's how you can recognize that a piece of music is by Mozart or Bach or Beethoven even if you've never heard that particular piece before. Being recognizable has become something of a sin in modern classical music. It seems like a composer is expected to re-invent music every time he writes something.

Having a recognizable style does not mean that it all literally sounds the same. To someone who is unfamiliar with it, it may all sound the same. That's true of any kind of music. If you don't listen to jazz all jazz sounds alike; if you don't listen to country all country sounds alike; if you don't listen to pop all pop sounds alike...(oh wait...all pop does sound alike) Anyway, seriously...the magic is in the details and in most music there are plenty of details there for anyone who's willing to listen attentively.

Hovhaness is addictive. As I said, I have only 2 CDs of his music and every time I listen to one I have to listen to the other, and then I always want more. My favorites are Mysterious Mountain, Prayer of St. Gregory and Celestial Fantasy, all from the same CD. One piece I don't like at all is And God Created Great Whales. He used actual recorded whale "songs" in that one. That seems too much like a gimmik, but even if it weren't for the whale sounds the music itself just doesn't appeal to me. Mt. St. Helen's....hmmm...not sure about that one yet. I must get more Hovhaness though. I'll probably get some of his vocal music next.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
Mad Woman Rants

No not me, silly. This woman. Just saw this in the Most Recently Updated list. Funny coincidence...I thought I used to work for the anti-Christ, except we called her the Dragon Lady. That was wrong, of course....insulting to dragons.

The True Nature of Islam?

I have been very interested in Eric Raymond's series on Islam and now Eric Olsen of Tres Producers has responded with a few observations. I instinctively agree with Raymond's assesment that Islam is a warlike and bloody religion. Despite the reassurances that "Islam means peace," I have seen little real evidence that Islam is anything but warlike and bloody. Still, I have been so conditioned by the pervasive political correctness of the past decade that I have to ask myself if I'm really agreeing only because he has put my fears into words.

Raymond also mentioned similar tendencies in Christian ideology and this is one of the first things that came to my mind right after September 11 when everyone started singing "God Bless America" and churches were suddenly filled with people who hadn't been in them in years. The mindset is the same, only the methods are different. I do believe that there are Christians who are happy to live and let live without having a compelling drive to convert the rest of the world, but they passively support the extremists. The situation in the Islamic world must be similar. If there are any moderates they will support the extremists, at least passively. Even if they publicly denounce acts of terrorism they still agree with the terrorists' goals and even consider them heros of a sort.

I'm often guilty of using the word "fundamentalist" to refer to religious extremists. I realize that it is inaccurate and unfair to paint all fundamentalists with the same brush. The Amish could certainly be described as "fundamentalist" but they are content to live the kind of life they prefer without trying to impose that lifestyle on others. When I talk about "fundamentalism" I think what I'm really talking about is "evangelism" or something related. Islamists use terrorism in an attempt to accomplish their goals. Christian extremists proselytize to gain converts and lobby congress to make their beliefs law. Convert the non-believers or murder the non-believers, the mindset is the same - there must ultimately be no non-believers.


I had a very vivid dream this morning. Compared to some of my dreams there was nothing weird or very unusual about it. Many of my dreams would make excellent sci-fi movies. This one, except for being unusually vivid, was rather ordinary. I dreamed that we had just moved into a new house. Actually it was an old house that needed a lot of fixing up, but it was large and had an interesting floor plan - strange angles, weird shaped rooms.

One thing that is weird is that I would have a dream about moving at all unless it was a nightmare, which this wasn't. I do not want to move. I love this place. However I hate this house. It's not really too small although I would like to have a small room just for the computer instead of having it in the corner of the dining room. But it's just a plain house that's not very well arranged. The living room is too long and narrow. There aren't enough windows. The kitchen is poorly arranged. (There's enough space that it could be redone though) We had a terrible time trying to find a house. Most of the places we looked at had at least one thing we loved about it and several things that were absolutely unacceptable. When we found this we were just tired and didn't want to search anymore. I do love the property - the trees, the wildlife. The location could be better but it's not bad. We think about building another house but it's never really going to happen.

I have hated every house I've ever lived in. That's one of the things that really nags at me when I'm in a mood for feeling sorry for myself. I used to buy a lot of decorating and architectural magazines and daydream about the wonderful house I was going to have someday. It never happened, never will, but I try to focus on the positive - at least now I have trees and best of all I don't live on some tiny lot in a suburban neighborhood where everyone is so close I hate to go in my yard because I know someone is always looking at me and watching everything I do.

Back to the dream though... In the dream we had just moved in I guess but there was none of our stuff in the house yet. My guys went somewhere, and right after they left a bunch of people showed up. I'm not sure who they were, just friends who had shown up to help, but I didn't want them there. I had been looking forward to having the house to myself for a while so I could just look around and become familiar with it, decide where I wanted to put things. It ended....I'm not sure how. It was all very real, but at some point I realized it was a dream. I was disappointed because I wasn't really going to have this wonderful house but relieved because I'm glad I'm not moving even if I am stuck with this house. Then at some point I just woke up.

I started thinking this morning about how often my dreams involve unwelcome visitors. Some people get nostalgic about old-fashioned neighborhoods where everyone knew each other and dropped by to visit often, as if that was a good thing. I would hate being in a situation where people were all the time dropping by unexpectedly. My home is my sanctuary. I put great value on solitude. I'm not a hermit. I like visiting friends and relatives and I even wish I could have a few backyard parties at my place but we live so far out in the woods people will rarely come out. But I don't want my solitude interrupted unexpectedly. I wouldn't even mind an occasional drop in, just not every day or even every week and I'm glad I live where that's not a worry.

Monday, June 24, 2002
Technology is so cool!

Doc linked to this article about Shazam a mobile phone service in the UK that can identify a song in 20 seconds.

If you're in a bar and you hear something that you like, you dial a four-figure number (it's not public yet) on your mobile and hold it up to the speaker for 20 seconds. In 15 seconds, you'll get a text message that tells you the name of the song. Last week, those testing it found it identified different Ramones tracks (not easy) and Elvis doing cover versions. You would have to be a music obsessive to do it yourself.

That is pretty cool but can Shazam tell the difference between Stockhausen and a helicopter landing on the roof of the bar during a hurricane?

From the Recently Updated List

Diary blogs usually don't interest me so I probably won't be keeping up with this one but there's just something about it that made me want to link to it just once, and maybe I'll check it again once in a while to see what this intelligent young lady getting ready for college has to say. (Love that template)


A link at Tres Producers led me to A Dog's Life and (oh joy!) what is the first thing I see there? These comments about an evening at the opera. I've been hoping to find a few bloggers who are interested in classical music. Scrolling down I see that Gregory is also interested in dogs (as in purebred show dogs) and the same current events that most of us are interested in right now. Lately I have been finding a new, interesting blog almost every day. Where am I ever going to find the time?

Going back to music, I envy people who can write so effortlessly about music. When it comes to music I feel like I'm a stranger in a foreign country, where I understand the language but can't speak it well enough to join the conversation. Most of my writing (or talking) about music is limited to lame, amateurish gushing - beautiful, glorious, sweet, intimate, intense - lots of adjectives that express feelings but don't say a lot about the music itself. I often think about writing something about music but I can't come up with the right words. It's all here in my head but when I write it down it's never what I really wanted to say.

It's lonely not being able to share something that means a lot to you. Once in a while I run into someone and something will just click. Though I might not be able to say exactly what I want to say I just get a feeling that the other person understands anyway. Sometimes because he says exactly what I would have said if I could find the words and other times something more vague - a feeling that, to be honest, could be just all in my head. Sadly, the people I knew like that have mostly moved on or drifted away for one reason or another.

I've noticed some despair here and there in the blogosphere. When I read stuff like this and this I realize that I have absolutely nothing to whine about. Some people out there are dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. It sort of makes me feel guilty for feeling down about some of the petty stuff I worry about like not having anyone to talk with about music, and missing old friends who are getting on with their lives, as they should.

But how much control do we have over how we feel? Most of the time I am a pretty upbeat, optimistic person. I usually stay focused on the best case senario while others around me are looking at the worst case senario and expecting it to happen any day. I get annoyed at people who always seem to be in a gloomy, negative frame of mind and yet people who are too perky (I mean all the time) annoy me even more. There's something wrong with someone who never feels any pain.

Well, I don't know where I'm going next with all this rambling so I guess I should just stop. I seem to have written myself into a corner. Time to get away from the computer, have a cup of tea, listen to some music and gaze out the window at the birds flitting back and forth through the trees.

Civilization vs. History

"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river."

--Will Durant

No Big Surprise

I finally took that World's Smallest Political Quiz that several other bloggers have written about. I'm a Libertarian, close to the center and on the left. That's pretty close to where I thought I would be although I'm just a little surprised at how far to the left I am on the diagram. I always thought I was just slightly left of center and lately have been worried that I might have moved over to the right.

Sunday, June 23, 2002

I've added one more category to my links, "Points of Interest" for websites other than blogs. Thoughts Worth Thinking is a site worth reading. It's not a blog but it's very blog-like. Amoung other worthwhile quotes and essays, there's my number one favorite rant of all time.

Positive Outlook

Doc has responded to my gloomy predictions for the future that I posted earlier today. He's more optimistic than I am, but I hope he's right and I'm wrong. Sometimes it's hard to keep a stiff upper lip with everything happening in the world right now. Revolutions are always nasty and many times they just end in establishing another dictatorship, but I'll be happy to join you for that tea party, Doc.

Gotta Love the Guys

I wasn't going to mention this anymore but I thought I should make it clear that I did know the Men's Rules thing was a joke. I didn't intend to go on for so long but you get me started....well, you see what happens. Anyway here is a whole list of humorous lists about men. I especially like Why Computers Must Be Male, Guy Talk and Things a Man Should Never Say Out Loud in Victoria's Secret. Enjoy. :-)

The Future Looks a Lot Like the Past

Doc Searls has comments on the DMCA, RIAA, CRAP...oops I mean CARP...and that whole dismal nonsense. Reading all these weblogs written by intelligent and insightful individuals, I'm often encouraged to think that there's a movement going on - that the future belongs to these sensible bloggers. But after a few seconds I always come back to my senses. The future belongs to those who have the money to buy congressmen.

I have heard music lovers of nearly every genre of music - classical, rock, metal - complain bitterly about how bad radio stations suck, but unfortunately these people are a very small minority. Most people, as Sir Thomas Beecham once said of British audiences, "don't like music; they just like the noise it makes." Most people don't really listen to music; they just want some unobtrusive background noise - nothing too involving or challenging. Those are the people that broadcast radio caters to. The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to hear the kind of music they want to hear. But the new fees are going insure that the only choices will be more of the same bland mush offerred by broadcast radio.

Control freak corporations aided by power mad, money grubbing politicians are going to turn the U.S. into the kind of nation none of us wants to live in. Not only diversity in entertainment, but advancement in science, thanks to religious fanatics, will move overseas. While corporations wipe out small business, and fundamentalists crush medical and scientific advancement, other nations will continue to offer diversity over the Internet and to advance scientifically. America will no longer be the most scientifically advanced nation on Earth, nor the most free. We will be merely a military giant that the whole world fears and hates.

I would like to believe it is possible to change all of this. Rally round the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace and force the giant corporations and established authorities to accept it, like it or not. Believe that [they] have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear. Defy CARP and the RIAA and continue to play music and refuse to pay their ridiculous fees. Link to whatever the hell you want and publish whatever the hell you want in spite of lawsuits, and if they sue and you lose (as you certainly will) refuse to pay and just keep on doing your thing. Preserve the beautiful anarchy of cyberspace.

Well, that's my fantasy anyway. In reality, it could happen if that's what the majority wanted, but as more and more people get connected to the Internet it will be less and less possible. Most people value order over diversity. They want choices - or at least think they do - but they want choices presented on a nice easy menu and they don't want to be presented with any choices that will require them to have to actually think about making their choice. They will be happy to pay for this lack of diversity and the corporations are happy to sell it to them. Perhaps Internet radio will thrive outside the U.S. but I look for the control freaks in this country to do everything in their power to influence what goes on in other countries or to limit access somehow. They're not going to give up until they control the whole world.

Not Gonna Go There

Acidman Mars at Gut Rumbles has a long list of "Men's Rules." I thought about answering each one of these individually and I could probably get a lot of extra hits if I started another battle in the never-ending War Between the Sexes, but then I thought - "Why bother?" But I do have to say this: Being an insensitive jerk is not an essential characteristic of manliness; in fact, it's not manly at all. Some "men" seem to take these things as a matter of pride, but fortunately not all men are like that. My man does remember important dates; he likes my hair short; he comments on my clothes when I've gone to the trouble to get dressed up; he never complains about going shopping; he asks for directions and yes he puts the toilet seat down!

I will admit that some women do play childish games, trying to trap guys into screwing up but you have no more right to put all women in that category than I would have to say "all men are scum." Perhaps women shouldn't ask a question if we already know what we want the answer to be but on the other hand, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what a woman wants to hear when she asks "How do I look?" - and yes you do know whether you think a pair of shoes looks good or not. Being dumb is not a characteristic of manliness either.

As for crying, if a woman is trying to use emotional blackmail on a guy, of course crying is going to be part of the stategy, but most of the time when a woman cries it's for real. It's because we are unhappy for some reason. It might be something you've done or said, or it might have nothing to do with you at all. But whichever it is don't try to toss it off as some kind of game. Sometimes we cry. Deal with it.

Men and women are different. Deal with that too. Not understanding us is no big crime. Using "I'll never understand women" as an excuse to dimiss anything a woman says or does as unimportant is not acceptable. You don't have to understand why something is important to us; just understand that it is important to us.

Lecture over. Feel free to have the last word. I'm movin' on.


Thanks to JB and Goddezz Bidch For pointing me to this site. Here's another one that word lovers will enjoy.

Saturday, June 22, 2002
Lebrecht is an Idiot

I'm not the first to say that. In fact, a number of times I have found myself in the midst of a wild Lebrecht bashing party seriously considering taking the risk of publicly admiting that I agreed with something he wrote. But now he has gone too far! To be fair he did show signs of sanity at the end of his rant but it hardly makes up for "Exposure to an excess of Mozart is one of the more refined forms of water torture: the victim knows the next blob is about to drop on his skull, then another, but he is a prisoner in Row H and cannot move until set free by applause." Oh the humanity!

I must try to write something more coherent on this topic in a few days. It's difficult to write while one is sputtering with indignation.

Friday, June 21, 2002
Oh goody! A Grammar War

Well...not quite a war yet but I can always hope. I first saw this at Beers Across America which led me to Dr. Weevil. (Where have you been all my life, Doc? Should I add you to "Artists, Librarians & Philosophers" or "Geeks, Aliens & Other Superior Lifeforms"?)

The way I see it, there is a grammar spectrum much like the political spectrum. On one side (I'll let you decide whether it's left or right) you have the grammar snobs, the prissy old schoolmarm types who insist that we all must follow every grammatical rule no matter how archaic, and are constantly ready to pounce on the tiniest slip-up. On the other side you have the grammar slobs who believe it's their God-given right to break all the rules even if it means their writing is totally unreadable. Just like the two ends of the political spectrum, people at these two extremes tend to believe that everyone else is at the opposite extreme, even those who are fairly close to their postion, only slightly less extreme. (but I digress) The grammar snobs believe that everyone with less than perfect grammar (by their standards) is a slob bent on bringing about the destruction of the English language, while the slobs believe that anyone who dares to suggest that punctuation and a passing familiarity with the correct spelling of common everyday words might make what they write more readable is a snob and a fascist.

Okay, now....how many mistakes did you find in that?

Googled (I swear I'm not making this up)

does any of the wrestlers on the wwe has any children

No Words Required

A friend directed me to this interesting site.

Strangers and yet....

I have to start with a free plug for one of my favorite online stores but keep reading because that's not all this is about. Well over a year ago someone on a message board recommended Porto Rico Importing, which is in New York. They sell coffee, tea and related accessories. I decided to give them a try and was pleased with the product and the service so I've kept on ordering from them.

A few days after September 11 I was making a cup of tea. I was using loose tea still in the reclosable bag from Porto Rico Importing and happened to notice the address: 201 Bleecker St. It's been about 20 years since I was in NY but I thought I remembered seeing Bleecker St. downtown somewhere. Even though I did not know them at all I suddenly felt an attachment to the people at PRI and an intense concern for their well being. I thought of sending an email but immediately dismissed the idea. If no one responded it could just mean that they were too busy to answer or the power was out, and I still would not have known if they were okay or not.

Fortunately after a couple of weeks I received one of their regular advertisements and felt very relieved. I still thought about sending an email. I felt a need to say something, but I did know what. I kept thinking about it and putting it off and now it's more than nine months later. I guess it doesn't matter any more but it bothers me that I never sent that email. It's sort of strange. I don't know these people at all. I know a couple of names - Peter and Alex. Alex sends out the order confirmations that always say: "Thank you for your order :)" For all I know they could be sent by a computer but that little smiley has the same effect as a real smile. I smile back.

I think of Porto Rico Importing as a friendly little neighborhood store. It's more likely that they are big store since they are selling tea to far away places like Oklahoma, (and getting it here pretty darn fast too) but I have this image of them in my head: a friendly little neighborhood store and when I was worrying about them after September 11 they might as well have been just down the street from me.

Give them a try, and if you like green tea try the Japan Pan-fired Green. It's wonderful. And if anyone reading this is in NY and decides to stop in at Porto Rico Importing, please email me and tell me about it.

A to Z

Rich at Brain Squeezings posted this questionnaire. I think I can answer most of these.

A - Animals/Pets: Two cats, two kids, one husband. (well...the kids are grown up so make that two cats and three guys)
B - Best Friends: I have to say my husband in case he reads this.
C - Cohabitants:See "A"
D - Desire(s): To be able to eat all the Ben & Jerry's I want without gaining a pound.
E - Eye Color: Brown
F - Favorite Food(s): Almost anything with cheese on it.(except ice cream...I haven't tried cheese on ice cream yet)
G - Games: Was once addicted to Mah Jongg but don't play games very often since getting addicted to the Internet.
H - Habit(s):Spending too much time on the Internet.
I - Interests: umm...The Internet, classical music, sci-fi....various other stuff that most people think is boring.
J - Job: Currently a housewife.
K - Kitchen (Wonder or Blunder?): Too small. Reasonably clean but I'm not a fanatic about it.
L - Languages: English. High school Spanish but forgot most of it.
M - Most Valued Possession(s) (an item, not people/pets): Not sure. Either my CD collection or my computer.
N - Name (Named after?): Just Lynn for now. I'm still trying to decide whether to come out with the rest of it.
O - Outfit You Love: Most of the time, knit pants and a long t-shirt but I do like to get dressed up once in a while.
P - Pizza Toppings:Lots of peperoni, onions, peppers.
Q - Question Asked To You the Most: Probably "How's it going?"
R - Relationship/Partner: Nearing 25th anniversary.
S - Sport: Football (American) Packers Rule!
T - Television Show(s): Star Trek (original and Next Gen.) Star Gate SG-1, Andromeda, PBS science and nature documentaries.
U - Unsavory characteristic(s):Spend too much time on the Internet, (did I mention that already?) possibly a little too full of myself (hey why not? I'm a great person, and humble too.) ...Geez, I don't know. Ask someone who has to live with me.
V - Video (Favorites): Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Excaliber, Warner Bros. cartoons, lots more. Too many to list.
W - Webpage (Favorite--not your own):Not sure. Lots of favorites.
X - Xylophone (or other Instrument?): none, though I have made feeble attempts.
Y - Year Born: 1958
Z - Zodiac Sign: Taurus. (OMG! I'm the same sign as Rich! What does that mean?)

Japanese Art

Read this. Okay, soon as you're done rolling around in the floor laughing.....

Remember the "pet rock" fad back in....when was that? The 70s? Now don't you wish you had thought of it first?

Via Intelligent Life.

Thursday, June 20, 2002
Responding to "Notes of Despair"

I'm afraid I'm not very good at dealing with people who are sad or depressed. I always want to fix things...quickly. Is that just a "mom" thing? Come, let me kiss it and make it all better. Generally, I'm an optimist. That doesn't mean I think everything is always peachy or that tomorrow everything will be just fine. I worry about the future and I do get the blues sometimes so maybe "optimist" isn't exactly the right word. What do you call someone who simply chooses to put aside fears about the future and focus on something pleasant?

See, that could be my problem. When I see someone else with a case of the blues I want to talk them out of it and get them to do what I do - forget it and focus on something else. But when it's my own blues I know I wouldn't respond to someone else trying to do the same for me. I have to work through it on my own. It never takes me very long. I usually snap out of bad moods quickly, but I still have to do it on my own.

John wrote about depressing songs. I have an advantage there in that "sad" classical music has a strange way of being devastatingly tragic and yet tremendously uplifting at the same time. Until the early 90's I listened to nothing but pop and rock and roll. I remember some songs being sad and others happy but neither kind had much of an effect on my moods, except that happy songs could be annoying when I was in a bad mood. I hope John finds the right song to help him "snap out of it." I want to say more but I suppose maybe this is a one of those times when less is more.

The Word Police (that's me) on the Prowl Again

Sorry...I know I'm in danger of becoming seriously annoying where this topic is concerned but this is too funny to resist. Check out this list of Words to Hate. Notice the word "illicit" in the title. By the way, finesse, lugubrious, myriad, and plethora are some of my favorite words.
Via Out of Order.


As I've said before I know very little about painting and painters. Until a few minutes ago I had never heard of J.M.W. Turner. The Tate Museum has digitized the entire Turner Collection of nearly 300 paintings and approximately 30,000 sketches. These paintings are fantastic - such gorgeous color! This for example, and this, and this.

May I have the envelope, please?

Arts & Letters Daily won a Webby. And I haven't been able to get more than the header to load since they announced it.

I Am Becoming My Grandmother

I was eighteen the last time my grandmother came to visit. We lived in a small town in Arkansas, right on the Oklahoma state line. It’s a lovely little town with lots of large old trees. There were two trees close outside one window of our house and squirrels would play in those trees and on the ground underneath. Granny spent most of her last days sitting in a chair by that window. Her eyes would light up like a small child’s and she would excitedly call me over to the window to watch. But I was eighteen. I was used to seeing the squirrels every day. I thought it was nice that we could see them up close but it was common and therefore no big deal. Instead of stopping to enjoy the show I wasted breath trying to convince my grandmother that she was making too big a deal out of it all.

Now, twenty-six years later, I live far out in the woods of Oklahoma. The squirrels here are much more elusive, but possums and raccoons come onto the back porch and look at us through the glass doors. Deer cross the yard frequently. There are more species of birds here than I’ve ever seen in one place before. It’s like living in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary.

This year there has been a rabbit population explosion. In past years we rarely saw any but now any time I look out a window there’s a better than fifty-fifty chance that I will see at least one rabbit. Our two cats chase them and sometimes catch them but so far haven’t deterred them from coming near the house. I actually think our cats have indirectly been good for the wildlife population. When we first moved in there were many stray and feral cats in the area, but our senior cat won’t tolerate strange cats anywhere near her humans so now they rarely come onto our place anymore.

I wish my grandmother could see this place. She would love it. I love it. I’m 44 now and I have a two and a half year old grandson. He’s still at that age when everything is fascinating – rabbits, birds, cats, whatever. But he’s beginning to be drawn more to cars, trucks, trains, airplanes and other macho stuff, enthusiastically encouraged in these interests by his dad, uncles and grandfathers. I can see the day coming when he won’t be able to understand why his silly old grandmother is so fascinated with birds.

Why is it that we waste so many years being “grown-up” before we rediscover the wisdom we were born with. When we’re little kids we know that birds and squirrels and rabbits are beautiful and fun to watch and that dandelions are flowers too, but somewhere on the way to adulthood we lose interest in enjoying beauty for its own sake. Then we spend most of our adult lives chasing after happiness, a perfectly green, carpet-like lawn and a patio free of bird crap, sometimes pausing to ask ourselves what it all means. Some people turn to religion to find meaning in life. Some of us anesthetize ourselves with popular entertainments – whatever the tube is offering this week. But we don’t really need any of that. We already knew as much as anyone needs to know about the meaning of life when we were toddlers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
The Changes

The new name:When I checked a minute ago the old title still showed at the top of the page but the edit page shows the new title so I'm assuming (hoping) the problem will correct itself soon. Poet and Peasant is an exciting overture by Franz von Suppe, originally the overture to a play which has been all but forgotten. Aside from the classical music connection I chose it because the words are perfect to represent the two sides of me. I'm neither a poet nor a peasant. The "Poet" represents my intellectual cravings and the "Peasant" represents my more ordinary, down-to-earth side.

About the "Blogroll": I came up with three very loosely defined categories for organizing my links. Artists, Librarians & Philosopers includes art blogs, book blogs, and any others that seem to me somewhat intellectual in nature, such as long essays on various topics.
Hawks, Doves & Other Winged Creatures includes warbloggers, rantbloggers, heavy linkers and any others that are primarily focused on current events.
Geeks, Aliens & Other Superior Lifeforms is my miscellaneous category. Anything that doesn't quite fit in the other categories goes here, as well as any blogs that I haven't been reading long enough to figure out where they belong and blogs I link to because they linked to me.
I have a few more to add and for some reason Intricate Plot isn't showing up in the list even though it is in the template. Something else that, hopefully, will fix itself.

Comments are welcome. Email to lavenderrain2002@yahoo.com

Good Boss/Bad Boss

I caught part of a discussion on NPR about bosses. I didn't like the way the moderator kept trying to excuse the bad behavior of some bosses, saying that employees needed to be more understanding of the pressures that managers have to deal with. I'm sure there's some truth in that but to me it sounded a little too much like typical victim mentality. Normal rules of behavior don't apply to me because I have to deal with stuff you don't understand.

The program has inspired me to share my own good boss/bad boss story. The bad boss came first. Oh where do I begin? I worked with this woman before she became my boss and I thought of her as a generally nice, fun person. But after she was promoted she suddenly turned into Mrs. Hyde. Did you ever watch a TV show called "The Pretender"? There was a woman on that named Ms. Parker. My former boss was so much like that character it was scary. She wasn't normally a screamer. Most of the time she was just extremely overbearing. She had this elementary school principal tone of voice that sounded like she thought she was lecturing misbehaving ten year olds. She also had a really annoying habit of getting right up in your face when she was talking - I mean really close! Worst of all you couldn't go to her for help with a problem without getting berated for incompetence. To be fair, she really was under a lot of pressure but she tripled that and passed it on to the people who worked for her.

I went from that to a place where at first all the managers were the exact opposite - always courteous and willing to help. But it was soon clear that there was a negative side also. Management as a whole was very patriarchal. They treated all of us employees like kids in a kindergarten class. There were very rigid and often silly rules and all had to be cheerfully followed without complaint. Anyone with a "bad attitude" was fired. They never knew what kind of attitude I had developed by the time I decided to quit. Even friendly chatter was discouraged. Only necessary talking was allowed. Sounds horrible doesn't it? Did I say this was the "good" boss?

Actually, individually most of the managers at this second company were very good people and reasonably good bosses, and the kindergarten class environment, though demeaning, was easier to take than outright hostility. In fact most people didn't seem to mind it at all so maybe it was just me. Looking back over my work history, I have liked most of my bosses as individuals, but I wonder if it's possible at all to like a boss. My idea of the perfect boss would be one who lets me know what needs to be done and then gets out of the way, and yet is still available in case there's a problem, and to be honest I've had a few who were fairly close to that ideal. I guess we shouldn't expect bosses to be perfect when nobody else is.

(By the way, I'm deep linking NPR in protest against their ban on deep linking...nyah nyah nyah nyah...)

Just a Stupid American

I know this is not "politically correct" and it's probably "insensitive," in other words, only a stupid American would say such a thing...but I don't understand why every little group in the world thinks they need their own state. I guess it's just because I grew up in America where we have members of nearly every ethnic group on the planet living and working together. And while we don't always get along (some groups truly hate others) we can generally go about our daily lives without fear of being blown up by our neighbors.

I am what is sometimes labeled a WASP. At different times I have lived on the same street with both black and Jewish people. I get seriously pissed off at white people who think they have to move when blacks move into the neighborhood, but moving is usually the worst thing anyone does in response to the presence of other ethnic groups. Sure we have our KKK and other hate groups but the majority of our society thinks they're a bunch of crackpots. We don't make heros of our terrorists.

Having grown up in this kind of society, I can't understand why the rest of the world can't be like America. I don't mean culturally. I don't wish McDonald's on the rest of the world. And I'm not saying America is perfect. I know there's a lot of room for improvement. I just don't see why.... (I can't believe I'm about to say this) ... Why can't everyone just get along?

Much of the rest of the world seems to me like nothing more than a bunch of bratty kids who have gone too long without adult supervision, and since the U.S. is the closest thing the world has to an adult nation I don't see why we shouldn't go over there and give them all the spanking they deserve. But then, what do I know? I'm just a stupid American.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002
Piano E-Competition

The contestants were in Minnesota, but one of the judges was in Japan. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm enough of a technophile to think it's cool that they can do this sort of thing, but at the same time I'm enough of a traditionalist to be uncomfortable with it. Sometimes there's nothing else like being there.

Read today's NY Times article.

Read the June 9th Andante article.

Read the May 25th Andante article.

It's a woman thing

JB responded to my earlier comments about changing the look of this page. First of all, I mentioned that someone might have said this page was ugly just by the way, and I honestly don't know if that person was talking about me. But that doesn't really matter anyway. I've been thinking about making changes for a long time. Redecorating is just something we women have to do once in a while. (Andrea and Jodi have both made some changes recently.) I don't know if what I'll end up with will be any better but it'll be different and that's the real point.

Thanks to Andy of the World Wide Rant for suggesting that I start a test blog. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself. (I'm not a blonde, honest) This afternoon I've been playing around with color combinations. I'll probably have a white background for the main area because that's my personal preference. I'm also going to put my links in categories that I'm hoping are humorous as well as descriptive. And I've finally settled on a new name, which I think is a perfect fit, but I'm not telling any more at this time. I want it to be a surprise. ;-)


I recently started reading Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. This book is a good example of how sci-fi stories set in the too-near future may soon become alternate history. The copyright date is 1985 and though no date has been given so far the story seems to be taking place around the year 2000 or in this decade at least. The Soviet Union still exists and the Internet is conspicuously missing. I don't mean that as a criticism. I haven't gotten very far yet but it's starting out to be a good read. And the aliens haven't even shown up yet.

This Ugliness

I'm not for certain but I think someone called this page ugly. I wasn't mentioned by name but I'm pretty sure the person was referring to me. That's okay; I'm not offended because this page is ugly. That's why I'm working on it or, to be more accurate, preparing to work on it.

Almost all of Blogger.com's templates are ugly, and those that aren't are too plain. I've looked at BlogSkins and most of those aren't much better because they're based on Blogger templates. The BlogSkins template that I like best can't be used with BlogSpot because of the graphics. I'm also not sure about the color scheme. I like it but I worry that a blog with a "feminine" color scheme would be taken less seriously.

My big problem is learning HTML. I can't find a good beginners guide and I really hate to ask for help. I'm always that way. Almost everything I know I learned from reading about it and/or trying it on my own. I also do not like to have anyone looking over my shoulder while I am learning something and that's a problem here too because as soon as I try something it will be on public display.

Anyway, regular readers should be prepared to possibly see some weird, screwed up stuff here soon. Please bear with me.


We had a brief power failure a few minutes ago. They happen frequently around here and there's usually no apparent reason. Today, for example, it's sunny and currently 78 degrees farenheit. So that eliminates thunderstorms, lines downed by ice and snow, and too many air-conditioners running at once. This time it was off for about five minutes but usually it just blinks - just enough to zero out all the digital clocks in the house. Everything you buy has a digital clock these days - the answering machine, the microwave, the electric range. My VCR actually keeps its time for several hours without power. Why can't all these other appliances do the same? The most annoying one to have to re-set is the answering machine so we usually don't bother. All calls at our house come in at 12:00am.

And don't even get me started on the PC and its irritating message telling me that I didn't shut down properly! Sometimes you just wish machines were intelligent so they could hear you and be afraid when you yell at them.

Song Lyrics

SongMeanings is a little different from most song lyrics sites. It's a community where people can discuss the meanings of song lyrics. Of course I didn't recognize any of the songs featured on the front page or in the top 100, but there's a handy search engine so I just looked up one of my old favorite weird lyrics songs - Hotel California.

At least one of the people who commented on Hotel California said it's about drugs. No big surprise; rock and roll is always about drugs, right? Sure. (either that or Satan worship) Actually, he might be right, but I'll stick with my own interpretation, thank you. And when I figure out what that is I'll let you know. I've always thought it was about a dream but I haven't thought about the symbolism.

Monday, June 17, 2002
The Beauty of Chemistry

In 1977 Joseph Nagyvary caused quite a stir in the music world with his theory that the legendary sound of Stradivarius violins is the result of chemistry more than craftsmanship. For the last twenty-five years he has continued his research into the wood-preserving methods used by Antonio Stradivari and other violin makers of northern Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries. As a result, Nagyvary has been able to build modern violins that rival the sound of a Stradivarius. Read this interview in Scientific American.

Recently Discovered

Intricate Plot. Nice weblog - very cool template. No, really. Just sit there and watch it for a few minutes. I'll probably add this one to my list, along with a couple of others who have linked to me, but first I'd like to figure out how to do a few other things.

Petty Complaint of the Day

Why is it that the people who write the HTML "for beginners" guides always assume that you already know something about HTML?

Fundamentalist Unity

Andy of The World Wide Rant refers to conservative Christians and Islamic Fundamentalists as "strange bedfellows." I would say not all that strange. I have been saying ever since September 11 (and even before) that both Christian fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists share the same mentality: All who do not live as we would have them live are evil/sinners. I have always been shouted down any time I made such statements when there was a conservative within earshot (isn't there always one?) and I am certain that typical fundamentalist denial and hypocrisy will not be affected in the least by this "alliance."

None of the Above

How come none of these silly multiple choice quizzes ever have answers anywhere close to what I would answer if they gave me a real choice? I could not answer any of the questions on this Deadly Sins Quiz linked by Andrea. So, in protest against silly quizzes that force me choose from a limited number of answers, I'm posting my own true answers to the questions on the Deadly Sins Test.

You spot a $100 bill on the sidewalk. You:
Pick it up of course, but I would not spend it on any of the options listed in the quiz. I probably wouldn't be thinking about what to spend it on at the time I pick it up but there's a better than 50-50 chance I would spend most of it on CDs.

Your friends invite you to go to a huge New Year's Eve party. You:
Stay home and surf the Internet of course.

You usually like what kind of person?
Intelligent, good conversationalist.

Your perfect day would consist of:
Well, the last item on the list "You win the lottery twice," would be hard to beat, but ordinarly any day I get to listen to a little music, do a little reading and don't get harrassed by anyone is close enough to perfection to suit me.

You'd never do:
There are lots of things I wouldn't do, including several things on the list but I can't think of any single "NEVER" that would top my list.

What style of clothing do you usually wear?
Well...okay, I could say "elastic is my friend" but it's not the primary consideration. Anything that's comfortable, looks good and isn't too fashionable.

What is your favorite type of music?
PLEASE! If you've been reading this weblog for more than a day or two you know the answer to that one.

Personal philosophy?
oooh...Tough one. I don't have one that I can sum up in just a few words. I guess the closest I could come to a personal philosophy would be, Be the kind of person you would like to have for a friend.

What is you best personality trait?
"Open-mindedness," the second item on the list is good. I would like to think I'm open-minded but I'm not 100% sure. I think Independent-mindedness would probably be a better description of my favorite personality trait.

Which sin is your favorite?
You mean I have to choose just one? They're all so much fun! I'll throw out anger and envy because those are the most damaging, and keep the rest to enjoy in moderation.

Well, that's it. The whole test. I wonder how I did.

Sunday, June 16, 2002
Pardon me while I redecorate

I might be fooling around with the template a lot in the next few days, or changing it completely. I don't know what I'm doing so there's no telling what you're likely find next time you visit, but don't hesitate to let me know what you think of the mess I'm making.

Losing Without a Fight

Another site succumbs to the copyright police. Detail & Pattern was a fascinatingly different site. This blogger (no name posted) posted details - a small portion of a much larger picture. You could click on the the detail to see the whole picture. Some were paintings, some photographs. In many cases I doubt copyright would be a problem since they were old paintings that must certainly be in the public domain. Now, sadly, the site is no more.

This sort of thing makes me very angry. John Perry Barlow, in his Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace said "You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear." Oh if only this were true! In reality very little enforcement is needed. Just threaten to call out the lawyers and small websites give up without even a fight. I get rebellious thoughts sometimes. I think we should take Barlow's Declaration and rally round it, just as Washington and Jefferson and others fought for American indepence. I think we should just say "enough!" and refuse to give in - keep our websites up no matter what for as long as we want to keep them up and say "screw you" to anyone who dares try to take us down or make us change our content.

Every time I see someone giving in to the threat of legal action I want to say, "Come on, don't let the bastards win! Don't give in no matter what." But if faced with that choice myself I know I would do the same as everyone else. Money always wins, dammit!

Saturday, June 15, 2002
Why don't Americans like soccer?

I've seen a few comments on this and mostly the conclusion is that we find it boring. Boring? Americans watch golf for crying out loud! No, I believe that the real reason is money. Unlike American football in which the teams typically have 3 to 5 minutes of time out for every minute of actual on the clock time, soccer continues pretty much non-stop until the game is finished, leaving no time for commercials. The big 4 TV networks exist on commercials. They might say that they only show what the public wants to watch, but if the public wants to watch something that will not make the network any money the public can be damned.

I don't know the statistics but just from personal observation it appears to me that soccer is now way ahead of little league in popularity as a youth participant sport. If the networks would ever give soccer a fair chance I bet there would be a large audience for it within two seasons. Allow enough time for a few heros to emerge and soccer will suddenly be an American craze. But it will never happen unless the networks are somehow guaranteed a big payoff to start with.

"I demand my right to a military trial!"

I'm not the least bit surprised to read that the folks on the civil liberties bandwagon jumped on without having any idea what's going on. Sgt. Stryker provides the info:

Under Article 31 of the UCMJ, a suspect is protected from self-incrimination per the V Amendment. This right was guaranteed about 16 years before Miranda. It also includes the right to counsel at no cost (12 years before the civilian world had this right.)

I am pacifist; hear me whine

These poor oppressed Americans had to go to the other side of the pond to be heard. Steven tells it like it is:

The reason that these people aren't getting a lot of press in the US isn't that they're being suppressed, it's that they're being ignored because they don't have anything convincing to contribute. Their argument is intellectually and morally empty, full of hollow rhetoric and demonstrating a complete disconnect with reality.

Here is one way we might help these mentally challenged folks to understand the error in their "thinking" should we ever be "lucky" enough to meet them in person:

What to do with a Peace Activist...

1. Listen politely while this person explains their views. Strike up a conversation if necessary and look very interested in their ideas. They will tell you how revenge is immoral, and that by attacking the people who did this to us; we will only bring on more violence. They will probably use many arguments, ranging from political to religious to humanitarian.

2. In the middle of their remarks, without any warning, punch them in the nose.

3. When the person gets up off the ground, they will be very angry and they may try to hit you so be careful.

4. Very quickly and calmly remind the person that violence only brings about more violence and remind them of their stand on this matter. Tell them if they are committed to a nonviolent approach to undeserved attacks, they will turn the other cheek and negotiate a solution. Tell them they must lead by example if they really believe what they are saying.

5. Most of them will think for a moment and then agree that you are correct.

6. As soon as they do that, hit them again. Only this time hit them much harder. Square in the nose.

7. Repeat steps 2 - 5 until the desired results are obtained and the idiot realizes how stupid of an argument he/she is making.

Friday, June 14, 2002
Applying Standards to the Blogroll

I noticed this mysterious little comment on the Long Haired Country Boy:

I guess now I am officially in blogdom. A professed lib who had me listed, dropped me from his blogroll.

JB didn't reveal who was responsible for the snub; that's why I said the comment was "mysterious." It got me to thinking about the standards we have for deciding who to link to and who not to link to. Apparently some bloggers only include people they argree with in their blogrolls. To tell you the truth I have considered dropping a blog or two that I frequently disagree with but I ended up leaving them because it seemed sort of petty. I'm supposed to link only to people whose politics I always agree with? That would be a pretty short list because I don't know of anyone I agree with all the time.

I do have some standards. I wouldn't link to anyone who regularly expresses opinions that I find offensive. I also have a real problem with excessively sloppy spelling and grammar. I don't expect anyone to be perfect and I'm willing to cut some slack for anyone from a non-English-speaking country who is trying to write in English, but I won't link to anyone who is just simply lazy about proper English. I guess some people would say that I'm being being petty about that. (especially people who don't want to bother with correct spelling and grammar)

Well, anyway...as someone else said, this whole blogging thing is about having the freedom to express yourself and have whatever kind of page you want without anyone looking over your shoulder telling you what to do. I'm all for that so I can't criticize when other people set standards that are different from mine. I disagree with the LHCB probably more often than not but he writes some pretty entertaining stuff so I'll keep linking him. If someone else chooses to drop him that's their loss.

Googled:+message+boards+that talk+about+small+vs.+big+breasts


Hate Television

Via Protein Wisdom - The Baby Face of Hate:

Yesterday morning at the National Press Club here in Washington, MEMRI held a briefing on Arabic-language media coverage of "martyrdom and suicide bombers." Along with all the usual, scrupulously documented newspaper translations, the group also screened an eye-opening videotape compilation (with English subtitles) of recent broadcasts on something called Iqraa Television. Iqraa is one of the global satellite channels packaged by the Arab Radio and Television Network (ART), a Saudi-based company with transmission facilities in Italy which describes itself as "the leading producer of premium Arabic family programming and entertainment worldwide." Iqraa is ART's effort to provide "a focused insight into the teachings of the Quran" to "intellectual, elite, and conservative Islamic markets." It is widely watched.

And it is hair-raisingly insane. The April 25, 2002 interview with Prof. 'Adel Sadeq, head of the psychiatry faculty at 'Ein Shams University in Cairo, for example. Professor Sadeq beams with glee as he explains how Western civilization "has no concepts such as self-sacrifice and honor," which is why Americans fail to understand that the suicide bomber experiences "the height of ecstasy and happiness" just at the moment when, "ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and then he presses the button to blow himself up." Big smile.

Then there's the May 9, 2002, program on "discipline in the family," featuring one Jasem Al-Mutawah, an "expert on family matters," who patiently describes to his viewers where on her body, how severely, with what weapon, and under what circumstances a man should beat his wife.

That's bad enough but believe it or not it gets even worse. There are monsters in the world. There are sick cultures. What will it take to finally discredit all those warped ideologies of the loony far-Left? Right now I'm thinking that "Imperialism" might not be such a bad thing. Let's go take over the entire Muslim world. We can give them their freedom after we've taught them how to be human beings.

I'd say we need to start by bombing all their TV stations out of existence.

Thursday, June 13, 2002
Giving It Up For Art's Sake

A friend sent me this link a few days ago, reminding me of this fascinatingly creepy chapter of music history.

The Church is sometimes blamed for initiating the practice of castrating young boys to prevent their voices from changing but castrati actually existed centuries earlier, mostly in Eastern cultures. The Church merely embraced and perpetuated the custom because it provided a solution to the problem presented by an overly literal interpretation of passages in the Bible requiring women to be silent in church. In the early church young boys sang the soprano parts but with the introduction of more difficult music in the 1500’s stronger more mature soprano voices were required.

Castrati became popular in secular music during the Baroque era and had a significant influence on the music of that era and later because of the singers’ demands for difficult music to show off their vituosic skills. For a time castrati were immensely popular, having much the same status as modern day rock stars. Many destitute parents were eager to have their sons castrated in the hope that they would become famous and wealthy singers. Unfortunately, castration was no guarantee of adult talent even if the boy had a good voice as a child.

The castrato voice was not merely boyish or feminine. Though their voices remained high-pitched throughout their adult lives, with maturity and training castrati developed the lung capacity of full grown men. It was a unique type of voice the like of which has not been heard in modern times. The last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1922. Some recordings of his performances were made and still exist. It is important to keep in mind when listening to these samples that Moreschi was well past his prime when the recordings were made and he was never considered a very good singer in the first place. The extreme unpleasantness of his voice is due simply to lack of talent; it was not typical of castrato voices.

Here is a more in depth history.

14 Things About Me

I've seen several other bloggers do this so I thought it was time to come up with my own list.

1. Music is a relgion and Mozart is God. (other gods include Dvorak, Bach, Vivaldi….)
2. The real God will understand that #1 is a metaphor and will be amused because He is more intelligent and has a better sense of humor than His worshipers.
3. God likes weeds better than a “perfect” carpet-like lawn and so do I.
4. I don’t normally talk about God this much, in fact, people who are always mouthing off about God give me the creeps.
5. I am an omnivore. (and so are you, like it or not) Plants are living things too. All creatures, including humans, have to kill to eat. Get over it.
6. I wish I didn’t have to sleep. I could use an extra eight hours every day.
7. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to miss the seriously cool dreams I have sometimes.
8. It’s intensely irritating when people misuse “their,” “there” and “they’re.” (or misuse or misspell any common words) It’s the mental equivalent of dragging fingernails across a chalkboard. (and yes, I know that from now on everyone will be looking for mistakes in everything I write)
9. Favorite color: Yellow (most of the time but I’m getting really tired of looking at this template)
10. Favorite musical composition: This morning it’s Dvorak’s Requiem but by the time you read this it might be something else.
11. Favorite work of art: I can’t name just one but I’m mainly attracted to surrealism, impressionism and fantasy art.
12. Favorite book: The Dragonriders of Pern trilogy by Anne McCaffrey. (yeah, yeah, I know that’s three books…so sue me)
13. Phrases I never want to hear/read ever again: sue me, in actuality, slippery slope, new paradigm (that one would be okay if the people saying it had any intention of adopting new paradigms) think outside the box (same as “new paradigm…if you say it know what you’re talking about and mean it) “I was like…” or any other mis-use of the word like. (I know there are a lot more but that’s all I can think of right now)
14. I probably need to get over myself but it ain’t gonna happen so deal with it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002
Liberal vs. Conservative

A few days ago Eric Raymond published his lists of things he dislikes about Liberals and Conservatives. I agreed with most of what he said and have been thinking about responding but I haven't had time to go through the list and respond to each point like I wanted to. Now Eric Olsen has responded with, as usual, a well thought out essay.

Personally I don't think it's possible to divide everyone up into "Liberals" and "Conservatives" and "Fence straddlers." We each have our own individual set of opinions influenced by our unique life experiences. I largely blame the media for trying to force everyone into one of two camps. It stifles independent thought and encourages people to simply follow one crowd or the other. But I assume that Eric Raymond's lists refer not to all Liberals and Conservatives but only those extremists that the media loves to showcase. The majority of "liberals" and "conservatives" do not fit neatly into either box.

I used to consider myself "slightly left of center" but now I'm not so sure anymore. Have I changed my position since September 11? I'm not sure. The one difference that I'm aware of is that now the Left lunatic fringe scares me just as much as the Right lunatic fringe. Before they were merely annoying. But it's more complicated than that. The Left-Right model never worked very well for me, but now it doesn't work at all. Even the two-axis model isn't really adequate. In my opinion we should just quit labeling people and accept that every individual has a unique opinion but that's not going to happen because it would never work for either politicians or the media.

Anyway...I've rambled quite a bit and still haven't responded specifically to the items on Eric's lists. Suffice it to say that I'm anti-extremist.

The Continuing Community Debate

Eric Olsen of Tres Producers responds to Sgt. Stryker's entry on the the linking vs. non-linking battle. I like the way Eric gives a complete update on these continuing debates. He pulls everything together and makes it easy to catch up.

I see linking mainly as a courtesy issue. If you talk about someone or refer to something they've published you should also post a link to go along with it, but that does not mean that I think everyone who doesn't link is an anti-social scum-bag. It all depends on what kind of blog you want to have. Lileks doesn't link but he doesn't refer to other blogs either, at least not specifically. Because of the type of stuff he writes about I don't expect him to link. However I don't mind linking to his page. I'm not going to be all huffy about it and say 'I'm not linking to Lileks because he won't link to me.'

This linking issue is probably more important to some of us little guys because more links mean more readers. For the same reason, we're more sensitive about the high traffic bloggers like Andrew Sullivan not linking. For two days, during the height of the "bikini wars" I got about 100 hits each day, more than 3 times the usual all because of links at a couple of the higher traffic blogs. It's still high today but has tapered off quite a bit. My previous peak was around 45 a day for several days after I added a permanent list of links. That tapered off to about 25 to 30 a day but that was still higher than before. The point is, links mean visits and that's what we attention seekers want. Some bloggers may not care if they get any visits or not. They just want to write, let off a little steam, whatever. I see no problem with that either. But if you publish comments about the blogging community or other bloggers those bloggers would sure appreciate a link.

"Going There" One More Time

JB takes issue with my earlier comment "we keep religion out of government," which I posted in response to this post on Gut Rumbles. I guess I should have said I hope we can keep on keeping religion out of government. An elected or an appointed government official can belong to any religion, religious groups can lobby Washington just like anyone else and the people can vote according to their conscience, and all of that is good. I wouldn't want to change any of that but I sure hope the Supreme Court keeps on doing its job defending the Constitution from the efforts of fundamentalist nut cases who would like to turn America into a theocracy.

I don't like getting into these religious debates because it's one of those issues about which most people already have their minds made up and refuse to budge. Frankly it scares me to see people mixing religion and politics so much that I often have this urge to start my own movement to fight it, and I do have a right to do exactly that. Free country, remember. But like most movements it would probably turn extremist. Some people already practice aethism like it was a religion. I can understand their fears because I share them but really they're just another kind of fundamentalist. This thing of calling religion a disease....that's fear talking, not rational thought. Narrow-mindedness is a disease. The desire to either convert or wipe out anyone who has different beliefs is a disease. Religion brings comfort to a lot of people and that's a good thing but making other people uncomfortable for the sake of your religion is a bad thing.

I also want to address a side issue that JB brought up: The media has kidnapped the free speech issue, and is painfully learning via the rise in internet communications and blogs, that freedom of speech belongs to all of us. Ain't that the truth! And some of them just hate it when we exercise a right that they've been treating as their own special privilege.

Amusing Rant

My favorite rant today (so far) comes from File 13 and starts out like this:

Was he born this stupid, or did he get exposed to something during the Gulf War?

Colin Powell's office needs to be checked for lead paint chips.

What the Hell is an Interim State? What do his hummus-eating terror-monkeys have right now? Will Al'Qeada get observer status in the U.N., too? Does Arafat gets his Leader Learner's Permit? Is the Parliament going to come with training wheels?

Lots more. Enjoy.

The Music of the Web

A couple of days ago I commented on this article comparing weblogs to types of music without actually having read the entire article. (Shame on you Lynn. 50 lashes with a wet noodle) What I responded to was this: blogging : journalism :: garage bands : symphonic music. First of all, pardon me for splitting hairs but "garage bands" are a type of musical ensemble and "symphonic music" is a type of music. It's sort of a lopsided analogy. When I said that Phil had it backwards, what I had picked up on was the types of music. If you compare blogs and journalism to the types of ensembles then Phil's analogy does make sense. Both journalists and orchestra musicians have to have years of training before they can perform for the public and where you go to school matters.

This goes to show that you can use anything for an analogy depending on which characteristics you choose to concentrate on. You can compare apples and oranges - both are fruits, both can be eaten right off the tree, you can make juice from either one - and yet in spite of all these similarities we use the phrase "comparing apples and oranges" to mean comparing two things that are nothing alike.

Garage bands and symphony orchestras do have one thing in common: both are there because their members love the music. The only orchestra musicians who make a decent living from music are those in the big city orchestras. In most smaller community orchestras only the conductor and the principles of each section are paid at all. Everyone else is there on a volunteer basis. They still have to have all the years of training but they don't get paid. Does this particular comparison hold up when you're talking about journalist vs. bloggers? Probably up to a point. I'm sure most professional journalists enjoy what they do, at least when they start out.

As for professional journalism itself (not necessarily the people who do it) I agree with Andrea's comparison: As for journalism, the closest musical comparison is Top 40 MOR "lite" rock. i.e. bland conformity.

Hot Topic

There's a religious war going on at Gut Rumbles. (found via the Long Haired Country Boy) It's all in response to an editorial that appearred right after September 11 which is basically a rant against political correctness.

IMMIGRANTS, NOT AMERICANS, MUST ADAPT. I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the"politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

It continues and talks about the American culture, language, religion etc. I posted the following in the comments.

* * *

Whew! Getting warm in here isn't it?
I've seen that letter before. It was circulated a lot right after Sept. 11. I agree with it in spirit though I could argue with some of the specifics, in particular the paragraph about America being a Christian nation. Wrong, wrong, wrong! America is a SECULAR nation. And what that means boys and girls is that everybody's free to believe whatever they want to believe and practice whatever rituals their religion requires as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, but we keep religion out of government. In God We Trust is NOT an appropriate motto for a secular nation, but on the other hand, four little words aren't going to hurt anyone and if it keeps the Fundies quiet it's a small price to pay.

I believe we should tolerate everyone but bend for no one. If tolerating a minority means that the majority must change the way we live and the way we talk while those minorities are exempted from laws that the rest of us have to obey that's going too far....way way too far.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002
As if there's nothing more important going on....

Krispy Kreme opens in Tulsa. Yes, this actually made the news on all the local stations. Why? Because traffic was backed up for hours because of people lining up to get into Krispy Kreme Donuts. As you might guess from this, people in this part of the country are horribly deprived... there are no Dunkin Donuts. Obviously, since anyone who had ever tasted Dunkin Donuts wouldn't be getting this excited about Krispy Kreme.

I-40 Bridge Update

Rebuilding of the collapsed section of bridge on I-40 in eastern Oklahoma is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning and work will continue around the clock until it is finished. According to local TV news reports the new bridge might be open as early as late August. The 6-month estimate in this report seems a little more reasonable. More, including picture, eyewitnesses, Coast Guard radio transcript, lawsuits, Federal aid, imposter, etc.

Just wondering....

Why are my links in two different shades of green? The color I started out with was so light that it was unreadable so I tried to change to a darker green and ended up two different colors. I'm tempted to play with it a little more but there's no telling what I would end up with.

Never Ending Story?

Eric Olsen has a lengthy and interesting run-down on the "Bikini Wars." (Thanks for the link, Eric) Even more bloggers have joined the fun and I have some more catching up to do. I appreciate all the links and I apologize to anyone I've neglected to link to.

Lileks Goes for the Record

I don't know if anyone is actually keeping count but I want to nominate James Lileks for the Award for Using the F-word the Greatest Number of Times in a Single Paragraph, and an honorable mention for service to mankind by making a good point although I doubt anyone at HBO is listening. And finally, a personal thank you for reminding me why I refuse to pay for cable TV.

Deadly Political Correctness

Mark Steyn hits the nail on the head again.

So it's not oil, but rather that even targeting so obvious an enemy as the Saudis is simply not politically possible. Cries of "Islamophobia" and "racism" would rend the air. The Saudis discriminate against Americans all the time: American Jews are not allowed to enter the "Kingdom," nor are American Episcopalians who happen to have an Israeli stamp in their passports. But even after September 11th the West can't revoke the fluffy myth that all cultures are equally nice and so we must be equally nice to them, even if they slaughter large numbers of us and announce repeatedly their intention to slaughter more.

Oh yeah...The Nine Month Anniversary

There's not much I can add to Matthew's reflections on the nine month anniversary of September 11. I guess I'm feeling pretty much like everyone else is feeling. There are still lurking feelings of disbelief, sadness, and anger but it's hard to get really worked up about it at this point. 80% of Americans wanted a war to punish the terrorists or bring them to justice or whatever, and supposedly we are at war but it just doesn't feel like it. It's not what we expected nine months ago when we said that nothing would ever be the same. It's sort of like "business as usual" but with this thing hanging over us. We're not really and truly getting on with anything, either war or life as usual.

You know I can't resist THIS

From Doc again:

Phil Wolff says:blogging : journalism :: garage bands : symphonic music

I haven't taken the time to read Phil's article but just taking the comparison above by itself, he's got it backwards. Blogging is symphonic music. It's variety and diversity and freedom. Something tells me Phil doesn't really understand symphonic music. If you've only heard a little it's easy to think of it as "stuffy" and all sounding alike. That would be more true of traditional journalism. But symphonies, like blogs, exist in infinite variety - there are lovely, well-refined ones, there are loud in-your-face ones, there are out-of-this-world weird ones. Some may be copy-cats but the blogger, like the composer, puts some of himself into his work and he doesn't answer to either an editor or the demands of the public.

On Another Front in the Blogosphere

Sgt. Stryker responds to Doc's comments about bloggers who don't link:

It's not long until you get from "this is what a blog is" to "this is what a blog ought to be". The little flap over Andrew Sullivan's non-linkage was an example of someone telling someone else their blog was in error because it did not fit their criteria for what a blog should be doing. I find this disturbing because what I'm basically seeing is the stifling of individual creativity and expression by those who wish to impose their own vision and rules in the name of "community"....

It all sort of reminds me of:

Self appointed playground monitor:Hey, that's not how you're supposed to do it.

Annoying kid nobody can get along with:I'll do whatever I want to; you're not my mother.

I always think it's hilarious the way some people start wailing about oppression when other people disagree with them. Look folks...freedom of expression has to work both ways. Yeah, you have the right to do or say anything you want to especially here in cyberspace where what we actually have is not democracy but anarchy. But everyone else has the right to do and say whatever they want to also including talk about kids who stay to themselves and won't play with the rest of the gang. Of course, those who are being talked about also have the right to whine about being oppressed even if they're really not. Isn't this whole Freedom of Expression thing entertaining?

If you think about it, this is the way communities have always been. There are people who participate in communty activities with varying degrees of willingness and enthusiasm and there are those who shun the rest of the community, but they are just as much a part of the community as the active participants even if they like to think they're not. Like mom used to say, 'it takes all kinds.'