Archive for November, 2009

The amazing world of self-medication…

November 30, 2009

…or, Hey, did you know alcohol has other uses besides getting you drunk? That’s right!

I have been in what seems like constant pain this weekend, with what I think is an impacted wisdom tooth. Started around last Wednesday and seems to have gotten progressively worse. I will be making an appointment with a dentist posthaste, but in the meantime, my dear, sweet Sabra suggested the fifth of vodka I have on hand could help with the tooth in general, with alcohol being the disinfectant that it is. So, I went a-Googling, and found this: 21 Amazing Alternate Uses for Vodka.

Several of them have supposedly been disproved, but I’m here to tell you that No. 20 — swishing a shot of vodka over an aching tooth and allowing your gums to absorb the alcohol to numb the pain — works pretty damn good. It works even when the pain awakens you from a deep sleep at 0245 hours, as happened to me today. Swished the vodka around and let it soak, then back to bed I went till 0735 or so. So not only does the alcohol keep it clean, but it works as an anesthetic of sorts. Had it not been for Sabra I might never have been alerted to that. One more reason I love that woman…

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More bloggy for you soon…

November 29, 2009

…but right now I am spending time with my baby. More posting to come soon. 😉

For once, I agree with Clarence Page…

November 27, 2009

…but perhaps not for the reasons he thinks.

Americans might need to have a candid conversation on race — but honestly, if we’re going to talk about race vis-a-vis anything, we need to talk about why it is so many folks on the left are so damn eager to throw out the “RACIST!” accusation every time some person or group comes out opposing various presidential initiatives, such as government health care, or cap-and-trade. I particularly loved (well, okay, maybe not) the way Page spun this:

In some cases, the nuances as to what’s racist or what isn’t draw distinctions without much of a significant difference. Take, for example, the anti-Obama billboard that auto dealer Phil Wolf erected recently in Wheat Ridge, Colo. In big letters it says, “BIRTH CERTIFICATE” and “PROVE IT,” a reference to the goofy movement that questions Obama’s natural-born citizenship despite overwhelming evidence. It also features two cartoonish images of Obama wearing a turban and reads, “President or Jihad?” and “Wake Up America! Remember Ft. Hood.”
In interviews, Wolf has said he’s convinced Obama is a secret Muslim, a view that Pew Research Center polls have shown about 11 percent of the population shares. Would they feel that way about a white president with Obama’s background? Frankly, it’s not hard to imagine, considering the paranoid streak in American politics that has nurtured worse myths than that about previous presidents.
Maybe that’s what my friend and MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews was thinking when he blurted out during coverage of the 1,500 people waiting for Palin in a Grand Rapids, Mich., bookstore that “They look like a white crowd to me” and “not that there’s anything wrong with it, but it is pretty monochromatic up there” and “I think there is a tribal aspect to this thing, in other words, white vs. other people.”
Conservative bloggers took umbrage at that, for all the understandable reasons of racial ambiguity that I listed above. You’re not a racist just because everybody around you happens to be of the same race as you. Yet, as political demographics take shape, there is a tribal aspect to politics. Birds of a feather flock together, social scientists tell us, and so do people.

Well, no. I would put money on the proposition that conservative (and libertarian) bloggers (and non-bloggers too!) took umbrage at that because it was a filthy slander from an Obama-fellating pansy who has nothing of substance to say in response to why there’s, well, ANY opposition at all to his Dear Leader. And if we’re going to talk about all the white folks banding together, then we need to take a good, long, hard look at the black, brown, and yellow folks doing it too. Really, though, we need to break away from Black vs. White, and move on to Pink vs. Grey, as the peerless Bill Whittle put it once upon a time. If you haven’t read that linked BW essay, I very, very highly recommend you do so, but I particularly loved this line:

“Let’s not talk about Black and White tribes… I know more pathetic, hateful, racists and more decent, capable and kind people of both colors for that to make any sense at all. Do you not? Do you not know corrupt, ignorant, violent people, both black and white, to cure you of this elementary idiocy? Have you not met and talked and laughed with people who were funny, decent, upright, honest and honorable of every shade so that the very idea of racial politics should just seem like a desperate and divisive and just plain evil tactic to hold power?”

Why yes, Bill. I know good and bad people of all colors. And yes, the very idea of racial politics IS evil. Those who engage in it are going to have much to answer for, I believe.

A bit of a rant…

November 25, 2009

….inspired by my baby’s troubles with Windows Vista and downloading Service Pack 2 this morning…
You would think Microsoft would have their shit straight by now in relation to updates. You would, however, be wrong. She was downloading SP2 this morning and ran into a corrupt program file, and everything just STOPPED. I did a bit of searching for her and found out that this would require re-installation of Vista. She knew what I was probably thinking, so she went ahead and said it: “This is why you own a Mac, I know.” And indeed it is. I know Vista has been huge amounts of trouble for a lot of people, and I have a pretty good idea as to why…but one would think after, what, six versions (?) of their operating system, they’d have it to the point where updating the system wouldn’t grind the machine to a halt. Yet one more reason it’s gonna be nothin’ but Mac or Linux, or some other alternate OS, for me from now on if I can help it.

Ahhh, more great late-’90s George…

November 24, 2009

…at Prime Country, Sirius Ch. 61: “I caught you lookin’ at me when I looked at you, yes I did, ain’t that true…you won’t get embarrassed by the things I do, I just want to dance with you…”
The lead-off single from Strait’s 1998 album One Step At A Time, “I Just Want To Dance With You” spent three weeks at No. 1 in the summer of 1998. Songs like this were about as close to bubble-gum as George ever got. I’ve heard some people claim people like me have a double standard for not minding songs like this, but I don’t so much mind them if they sound halfway country, and this song had a great fiddle-and-steel arrangement that didn’t sound like it was tacked on, as many songs from the more contemporary acts do.

The reviews of One Step At A Time in general weren’t quite as positive as the ones for the two sets that preceded it, Blue Clear Sky and Carrying Your Love With Me, but in spite of that I for one thought the cd was arguably the best of those three, It had some of the best single songs of George’s career, among them the title track, “Remember the Alamo” and “Maria.”

I always thought it was pretty nifty that the album had a song with the title “Remember the Alamo,” considering it was released on April 21 — San Jacinto Day here in Texas, the day that the Texians won their independence from Mexico, with the Texian soldiers’ battle cry being “Remember the Alamo!” The gut-string-soaked ballad “Maria,” was, in a way, my introduction to the Texas music scene, as it was penned and originally recorded by Robert Earl Keen; I bought the Keen cd with the original version of that song (West Textures) a few months later, and really liked it. I really should pull those cds out and put ’em on the iPod…

I don’t get it.

November 23, 2009

I don’t fully understand why certain people are making such a big deal out of the Rhode Island Roman Catholic bishop’s decision to ask Patrick Kennedy to stop receiving Communion due to his pro-abortion stance. It seems rather cut-and-dried to me. I know some will say that the Catholic Church is being judgmental here and it’s unbecoming of them to do that, but the bishop isn’t asking Kennedy to stop taking Communion based on anything he has done. He’s asking Kennedy to stop taking it based on what he believes, which to me is clearly a fundamental difference and makes Mario Cuomo’s complaint about faith guiding one’s authority little more than a half-assed attempt at rationalizing whatever beliefs one wants to hold. But that’s just what I think…

As usual, some juicy tidbits are to be found…

November 21, 2009

…in the letters to the editor in this morning’s Chron:

Palin once stayed with her daughter at a luxury hotel for five days, which brought her grand total for travel (including air fare) to more than $3,000! It is clear that Palin is not ready for the White House after all. She is going to have to learn how to squander taxpayer money in a much bigger way if she aspires to the pinnacle of politics. When our president jets off to New York for a few hours to go on a date with the first lady for a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars on the taxpayers’ tab, that is presented as presidential good taste that Americans should appreciate.

Yep. Who says American news media don’t have one set of standards for Democratic politicians and another for Republican?
I am reminded, though, of something I heard not long ago, in regards to Palin’s book; a Palin fan was dissatisfied with Palin’s not calling the McCain people out earlier, saying that “evidently she did not have the spirit to rock the boat” then. While I can understand that opinion somewhat, I don’t necessarily think it was bad that she stayed silent then. I am absolutely certain that had she rocked the boat back then it would have been a lot worse for the Republicans, because the Democrats and their PR firms (aka the American news media) would have taken full advantage of that. It might have been a bit late, but I think it was better she call those apparatchiks out a bit late than not at all. And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Despite the relatively close margin by which McCain lost last November, he was still arguably the second-worst candidate (after NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani) that the Republicans could have chosen to be their standard bearer and had he picked almost anyone other than Sarah Palin to be his running mate, Obama’s margin of victory would have been much larger than it was. Palin deserved so much better, and so did the rest of us.

Real Americans? Real funny.

November 20, 2009

I actually saw this column in the dead-tree edition of yesterday’s Houston Chronicle, sitting in Beason’s Park on the Colorado River just outside of Columbus with Sabra yesterday, and I will tell you the same thing I told her. Where the hell does E.J. Dionne get off talking about what Real Americans do and do not understand? He talks as if he has the slightest clue of what anyone outside the District of Columbia boundaries actually thinks, when the truth of the matter is that he proves himself to be just another insulated lefty journalism elitist every time he sits down at his keyboard. It’d be interesting to see how Dionne defines “Real American,” too. Judging from the column, I’d bet he probably defines it as “one who voted for Obama for his promise to do his best to nationalize one-seventh of the American economy,” or however much of it health care is. Going by that definition, I’d wager that less than half of the electorate comprises Real Americans. Who says modern liberals don’t know how to demonize the opposition?

On a different note in the column, I got a huge kick out of this line:

Defenders of the Senate always say the Founders envisioned it as a deliberative body that would cool the passions of the House. But Sessions unintentionally blew the whistle on how what’s happening now has nothing to do with the Founders’ design.

And I bet you money that Dionne hasn’t a clue as to why things go down so often like that in the Senate. A “deliberative body that would cool the passions of the House” is EXACTLY how the Founders envisioned the Senate, and that is exactly why they were initially not subject to popular vote. The Constitution as written specified that Senators, as representatives of the states, were to be elected by the state legislatures; it was only with the passage of the 17th Amendment in the early part of last century that they started being elected by the people, as the members of the House of Representatives are. So with that, the Senate became nothing more than a smaller version of the House, and the states as entities don’t have any representatives in Washington anymore. And I would also bet you that Dionne, being the lefty that he is, thinks this is a GOOD thing, because hey, the people know best, even the ones that, as Tam so pithily put it, think “legislation proclaiming the theme song from Friends as the national anthem or Britney Spears being voted Dictator-for-Life” is a good idea. And you’ll note, of course, that the health care bill recently passed by the thinnest of margins. Did Dionne really not think that would be at least one indicator of just how contentious the bill would be in the Senate? Or that the popular-vote-elected Senators would take advantage of the rules not repealed by the 17th Amendment? Once again, E.J. Dionne is being his typical naive and/or disingenuous self.

I also got a kick out of this howler earlier in the piece:

Republicans know one other thing: Practically nobody is noticing their delay-to-kill strategy. Who wants to discuss legislative procedure when there’s so much fun and profit in psychoanalyzing Sarah Palin?

Not to retort to third-grade-recess-level discourse, Scooter, but YOU and YOUR people started THAT shit. It’s a bit late to be bitching about it now, don’t you think?

So male culture is now to blame…

November 18, 2009

….for gang rape, apparently…

The ingredients for tragedy all were present, experts say. A bunch of men. A vulnerable young woman. Alcohol.
What happened next, authorities say, degenerated into a two-hour-long gang rape by as many as 10 males. Another 20 people allegedly watched as the victim was assaulted, beaten bloody and robbed of her jewelry but they did not stop it or call police.

“Everybody was asking why did this happen?” said Peggy Reeves Sanday, a University of Pennsylvania anthropologist who has written extensively about gang rape. “It’s very clear if you look at the male culture and the bonding culture of young males and the adventure and bravado of a social situation.”

Wow, who knew such naked bigotry disguised as legitimate scientific observation would make it into a newspaper story like this one? Honestly. Can you imagine the outcry if Ms. Sanday had said something such as, “It’s very clear if you look at the black culture and the bonding culture of young blacks”? I know well that anecdote is not the plural of data, but my buddies and I never did anything like this when we were plied with alcohol. And I very seriously doubt we are the exception here.

This sort of thing reminds me of a discussion I had with my darling Sabra not long ago. If I remember correctly, I had suggested she study anthropology; she recoiled at the suggestion, saying that the field was permeated with moral relativism, as part of being a scientist was being able to make observations free of any kind of judgment or personal bias. Sounds good in theory, but in the practice of anthropology, this sort of thing means you can’t call out things like this as the barbaric practices they are. After she pointed that out to me, I saw exactly where she was coming from. And the flip side of that is what we see here, that is, that you can get away with smearing entire races and even genders if you do it under the guise of scientific observation. It’ll be interesting to see who else picks up on what this particular anthropologist said.

A new favorite for me, from Waylon Jennings…

November 17, 2009

…at The Roadhouse, Sirius Ch. 62: “Someone called us outlaws, in some old magazine…and New York sent a posse down like I ain’t never seen…”
A hit record for Waylon in 1978, “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” was based on a true story, the one of his getting busted for possession of cocaine. I had not heard this song that much before I got Sirius, but it’s gotten to be one of my favorites. As bad as I hate to admit it, I really got familiar with the song due to James Hetfield’s recording it on the 2003 Waylon tribute I’ve Always Been Crazy, and while the Waylon original is different, it remains the best.