Sunday, September 30, 2007

Those Darn Generals

According to Think Progress:
In an opinion column posted on Foxnews.com, Fox News analyst Col. David Hunt, a frequent guest on The O’Reilly Factor, declares that “Our generals are betraying our soldiers … again.” Hunt claims that “our generals put their careers over their men’s lives” and that “we should be putting these generals on trial.”
I guess Fox News can get away with stuff like that, but not MoveOn.org.

Beware the Ceiling Cat

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rush Windbag

Oh, so Rush "Windbag" Limbaugh says that any Iraqi veteran who is critical of the war in Iraq is a "phony" soldier. He should know what a phony soldier is for sure, having never donned a uniform in his entire life. Well, here's one of those phony soldiers with an answer for ole Rushie Poo. And here's another.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bush Makes Surprise Visit To Work

The Onion

Bush Makes Surprise Visit To Work

WASHINGTON, DC— Dressed in a special suit-and-tie uniform, Bush entered the East Room at about 3:30 p.m. and greeted an enthusiastic crowd of staff members.

Survivor: China

Oh, it ain't right! Dey done kicked off my Ashley already!

Oh, well. Dave's days are numbered. Now that his punching bag Ashley is gone, he'll have to choose someone else to pick on or else the rest of the group will have to take his orders without question. I can't see that happening since several of the group seem to already be tiring of him. That's the problem with hopping up to the "leader" plate at your first at bat. I think the thing that irritated me most about him was his refusing to let the group make even a small fire, just a temporary flame, to cook some rice so they'd have food in their bellies and strength for the reward challenge that afternoon. Nope. He wouldn't let 'em. So they lost. And then how pathetic was he during the immunity challenge? He totally tanked, dropped the pole, lost the challenge for them.

Ironies abound. I found myself feeling a little sorry for the Christian Talk Show Radio Host, Leslie, this week. This is because she chose to ally herself with Todd, the little gay boy (huh? Is she blind? Or truly open-minded?) when he already had an alliance and has absolutely zero intention of being loyal to her. He'd just love to see her get the boot because then he'd be the only one to know about the hidden immunity idol! Talk about picking the wrong ally--he'll probably marshall his troops to have her kicked off first chance he gets. And then there's poor Leslie, thanking the good Lord for His providence by having her be the one chosen to be told about the hidden immunity idol in the first place, when the real reason she was told was that she was perceived by Jaime (of the opposing team) to be the team's weakest link. Jaime admits she gave Leslie the idol to increase Leslie's chances of staying in the game, thereby wrecking things for Leslie's team. Arrrgh! The irony of that ... and then add that to last week's scene in which Leslie refused to "bow down to a false idol," and ... it's so perfect it's almost poetic.

Courtney needs to eat some food; she entered the game scrawny as it was. I'm seeing bone sticking out all over already, and they're only in the first week. I don't understand people who enter this game underweight. If I were competing on Survivor, I'd do like Gretchen did in the first season and try and put on as much bodyfat as I could prior to the start (without getting obese) so I'd have some fat reserves to burn rather than eating up all my own muscle. It's really hard, especially for a woman, to put muscle back on once it's gone.

Speaking of muscle, James is seriously a big, buff dude. Then again, I suppose being a gravedigger is hard work. Leslie would've been wiser to tell him about the immunity idol, not Todd.

I'm liking Frosti, too. He's quite gung-ho and steps up for his team in all the challenges, which is impressive for the youngest Survivor to compete ever. Then again, I did read that he is a practioner of free-running and Parkour. (According to the Survivor webpage at CBS.com, Parkour is essentially making the environment into an obstacle course. Through running, jumping, or climbing, all obstacles can be overcome and all destinations are reachable. Free-running takes the movements of Parkour and adds style and flair. Think along the lines of urban gymnastics and building break dancing). Well. That explains why he literally threw himself--I wouldn't even say leaped--at the wall during the challenge last week. He looks pretty fearless.

Another Republican Misstep

Well, well. U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California (gasp! MY state) is trying to push forward legislation that would penalize Columbia University for inviting Iranian Preznit Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at that college this week. Specifically, he wishes to prohibit Federal grants or contracts being given to the college, 'cause, apparently, he thinks giving Ahmadinejad a forum to express his views was a bad, bad thing. (Never mind that Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, rebuked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rather soundly in his introductory remarks, which made for one of the rudest and oddest introductions to a speaker I've ever heard. "This man's a real nutjob! Ladies and gents, I give you ... Crazymeister Mahmoud! Hear him and cringe! Hear him and boo! Hear him and laugh! Step right up and see the crazy Iranian!" Kinda like that.)

But here's what Rep. Hunter has to say:
“By hosting President Ahmadinejad, Columbia University openly insulted the thousands of servicemen and women serving in Iraq, many of whom are direct targets of the munitions that he is sending across the border,” Hunter said. “This insult is compounded by the fact that Columbia University dissolved its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and continues to openly protest the presence of military recruiters on campus. It is troubling to see that a university such as Columbia, with a reputation as one of America’s leading universities, is more receptive to America’s adversaries than it is to the military that protects its right to free speech and assembly.”

Hullo, Reppie Hunter? Um. Because Columbia U. allowed Ahmadinejad to speak, we free American citizens got to hear him and take the measure of the man for ourselves. Trust me, he didn't come off that well: he's smug, patronizing, a religious zealot, clearly wears blinders, and is a twister-of-the-truth. It was refreshing to reach this conclusion for myself,say, rather than having to blindly take the present Administration's word for it.

George W. Bush himself had no problems with Ahmadinejad being allowed to speak, nor even being allowed into our country.

A final point, Mr. Representative: You can only be a defender of free speech (as you seem to claim to be) if you are willing to defend the right of someone to say something to which you are vehemently opposed. By suggesting Columbia overstepped by allowing the man a say, you apparently want us to have the freedom to hear only speech that you agree with. So who is really kicking sand in the faces of our soldiers?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

GAYS IN IRAN

From CBC (Canada) about the gay rights movement in Iran. Some images are horrific (hangings, beatings), so be aware that those brave souls showing their faces are heroes.

Rachel Maddow's Campaign Asylum: Values Voter Debate

Here's my hero, Rachel Maddow, reminding us that the Republican Party's aligning itself with the "kookoo for cocoa puffs" Religious Right puts Democrats at a clear advantage, 'cause those people are just scary.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Speaking of Presidents ...

Samantha Bee of The Daily Show asks this oft-repeated question, "Is America ready for a woman President?" Kim Cattrell answers deftly at the very end. Enjoy!

Another President in Denial

Click here to see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad make an idiot out of himself today in an address at Columbia University. He was asked about the treatment of homosexuals and women in his country. His utterly ridiculous answer brought shouts of laughter from the student body. Uh, Mr. Ahmadinejad? The reason you think there are no homosexuals in your country is that they stay hidden as well as they can, since you guys do things like hang and behead them.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Survivor: China

Sorry about the belated post; Friday and Saturday were busy days for me. But here's my take so far on the new season of Survivor.

THANK GOD THEY KICKED CHICKEN OFF!

He was already driving me apeshit. Fellow Virginian or not, he struck me as a petty, mean-spirited, whiny coward. When asked directly for his input on things, he refused to say--I suppose because he didn't want to take a leadership role. Perhaps that's for the best, though, since he showed profoundly poor judgement in wanting to kick off Ashley, the female wrestler, for the reason that she got sick one day and couldn't help out around camp. Good grief. She got well, and then participated in the immunity challenge just fine, and I'd say as a wrestler, she's probably one of the more fit and athletic females competing. Seriously, what's not to like:



Two other Survivors who made a poor initial impression were Courtney, the waitress from New York, and Leslie, the Christian Talk Radio Host. Courtney because she's a snot, bitching about how provincial her tribe members are when she's from the All-Great-And-Powerful New York City. And Leslie, because even though she was told the Buddhist ritual was a welcoming ceremony and not religious or devotional in nature, for walking out on the monks anyway, claiming it "felt" like worshipping another God to her. That's just rude and disrespectful. Atheists and agnostics stand quietly through prayers all the time at weddings, funerals, you name it. Athletes stand quietly through other countries' national anthems all the time; doesn't mean they're traitorous. Get over yourself, lady.

Finally, somebody needs to tell Denise to get rid of the mullet.

Phony Outrage

Is anyone else weary of this General Petraeus ad outrage on the part of the Right? Seriously, the General is a big boy, and I'm sure he can take having his views challenged without getting his own knickers in a snit. That MoveOn.org ad was tacky, to be sure, but it was just so much barking in response to all the neocon barking about the war from the likes of Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and the list of yappers goes on and on. It is rather humorous to see the likes of Rush Limbaugh pretending to be outraged, outraged I say! by somebody hurting Petraeus's feelings. Give me a break. Half of what comes out of the mouths of these Far Right mouthpieces is far more offensive than that MoveOn.org advertisement. (If you don't like it, don't read it!) But on they bleat ... in a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the fact that there's a mess over there in Iraq that, in large part, we helped orchestrate, and we have a Prez who can't admit he made a mistake, so the hole keeps getting deeper and deeper.

But the truly annoying thing is the colossal waste of time Congress spent mustering up a condemnation of the ad. Barack Obama was right in refusing to even be a part of the discussion. And kudos to Hillary Clinton for refusing to condemn the ad. Last thing I knew, free speech was a hallmark of our society. Remember freedom? You know, that very thing Petraeus is, ostensibly, over there in Iraq fighting for in the first place.

If you're not ever supposed to question a General, and it seems Rudy Guiliani recently suggested as much, then what kind of society of sheep does he want to be da Preznit of? Bleat! Bleat! This is a democracy. We're allowed to question our leaders. Indeed, it is our moral imperative. Given the present corrupt Administration, lately this seems even more urgent a task.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Racing to the Altar

Tomorrow, it seems, will be another big day for my partner and me. We've already "married," so to speak, having flown to Vermont for a civil union in April 2006. Alas, a Vermont civil union is recognized in only Vermont, so now that we're in California, for me to be added to her health insurance, we must pony up yet more dollars to register as domestic partners in this state. (Note to people against gay marriage: this is just one of the many ways we are discriminated against. There are over 1,000 Federal laws that heterosexuals enjoy for free without even having to think about them ... certain protections, tax breaks, privileges, the fact that your marriage in one state will be recognized by another state, and the list goes on.)

Having moved back here and into a brand new job, my partner has been swamped with work and has been, most days, putting in an average of 15 hours until she can hire an assistant. Tomorrow, though, having not had a whole day off since we moved here (and tomorrow won't count either, since she's working in the morning) she is putting her foot down! After work, she's hooking up with me to see a notary to formalize our commitment to each other yet again, and then we are going to da races, people! LOL

I am so looking forward to her company. Last night was typical; I was in bed dozing off with a book when she got home, and this morning I woke up to her kissing me good-bye. It's been a bit weird, and I'll be glad when this is over. But after all this work, she needs to unwind, to relax, and the races do that for her. We sit in our box across from the finish line, feel the sun on our faces, have a couple of beers and a hot dog, and bet a couple bucks on each race. Live racing is so much better than simulcast. You can go to the paddock and look at the horses closely if you like; you can smell the horses, the sweat, the hay, even the droppings; hear the horses snort, hear the men yelling when they put the horses in the gate; hear the track announcer call the race in real time instead of getting it on a slight delay. And we're friends with everybody at that track--in fact, tomorrow I'm taking a book to lend to Michelle, the bartender at the Paddock Bar. Who knew she was a big reader? Her favorite is William Faulkner.

After the races, I expect we'll go get dinner somewhere to celebrate our commitment to each other. Wish us luck. ;-)

P.S. I'm rooting for Like A Tiger in the 7th.

Wanda Sykes on Gay Marriage

Potty mouth alert! But she makes some valid, and hilarious, points.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Joys of Grading Essays

I missed teaching while I was in Spokane, and I am thrilled to be back in the classroom. However ... I've always said that I don't mind reading student papers, but I despise having to grade them.

So here I am tonight, taking a break from grading the first batch of essays from two sections of pre- basic college composition courses. They're not strong writers to begin with, as this is a developmental English class at the community college level. In the Bay Area, at least half of the population or more lives in a home in which English is not the language spoken. So there are always second language errors to deal with (and truly, unless you're trained in ESL, how do you explain such things as when you use "a" versus "the" or not at all?) Additionally, my second section of English appears to consist of a quarter of the football team, or it least it has seemed so this weekend. (Students could pick their own topic, so naturally the football players wrote about football. And that is as it should be--write about what you know! It's one of the oldest cliches in the book, along with "Show, don't tell.") But I swear, if I read one more football essay, I'll hang myself.

Of course I exaggerate. First essays are usually awful, and I get tired of flunking jocks, especially when they're African American athletes from Oakland, trying to get a leg up on life. One of these guys wrote an essay for me once about being in a gang and dealing drugs and getting shot by the police. It was a gripping essay, a narrative, although it earned a "D" due to the fact I hadn't assigned a narrative and, of course, it was riddled with grammatical and mechanical errors. In my end comments, I asked, "Is this true? You're quite the storyteller!" I meant it as a compliment because despite his terrible grammar and not following the assignment, he had at least hooked me. And then I proceeded to the comments about his errors and blah blah blah. He got the paper back, didn't even blink at the grade (par for the course, I guess) and called me over. He rolled up his pants leg. "Here's where they got me," he said proudly. My God. Half the boy's calf had been shot off.

He failed my class anyway. Halfway during the semester, he stopped showing up, and God only knows where he is today. Back in jail and not dead is my hope.

The hardest papers, of course, are the ones in which students write about the death of a family member or the death of a friend or lover. Maybe this is why I give an "open topic" essay for the first essay of the semester; this way, my students can write about what's been troubling them and get that out of their systems. (Not that it would, but some students seem to think that writing an emotional, here is my arm and I-am-now-slicing-it-in-front-of-you essay is what I'm looking for. Or maybe they've never been given the opportunity to write what they feel in an English class and they believe topics such as death are the only ones worthy of "a great theme.") I try to nip this stuff in the bud and say I'm not looking for the profound. I'm looking for specificity, for clarity, for examples. You don't have to give me your heart on a platter. Does that sound harsh? I don't know; I think I seem easy-going and accepting to my students (which I am, I hope) and I am grateful they trust me, which is truly a privilege ... but they don't listen! Reading this blog post over now, I can see why. I'm ambivalent. I want them to write about what matters to them. So they do.

Imagine how it feels to have to stick a "D" or even a "C" on an essay about, say, the death of a child.

I hate grading essays.

I still love what I do. If I didn't, this kind of thing wouldn't trouble me. Honestly, it's stuff an English teacher will deal with from Day One. I suppose what astonishes me is that the scenario doesn't really change. I've taught at Penn State, in the mid-80's; I've taught in Mansfield, Ohio, in the early 90's; I've taught in the San Francisco Bay Area pretty much since 1998, with one year off. So it's amazing that, apparently, no matter where we are in this United States, or when it is, my experience teaches me that we're all pretty much the same. I've changed assignments; I've changed topics; I've changed even myself. Yet students' grammar will always stink and might be getting worse (but why shouldn't it? Computer grammar checkers and spell checkers catch much, except for subtleties, and in this global economy, communication is more important, not trivia--as long as the point is clear, what's the problem?) But the human heart remains the same. The need to spill our guts hangs on. The need to convince your English teacher that football or baseball is extraordinarily important hangs on. The need to tell me, in broken English, that an aunt died because she got hit by a bus is always there.

Why? I suppose it's because I put out an invitation to listen, to read. And it's because I have a soft heart, and I think they sense that. I hate it when that conflicts with what I know I have to do ... to sometimes fail papers that I know someone struggled to write. But it's college. There's a standard to uphold. It's not commerce, a business in which I may be asked to sell out for a client or an account because the company's profit is the bottom line. With teaching, there is integrity. This, I hang onto as I grade essays as fairly as I can.

Did I say I hate grading papers? ;-)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gov. Bill Richardson Redeems Himself

Bill Richardson will never get the Democratic nomination, and certainly not my vote after flubbing miserably in the HRC/Logo debate in which he called homosexuality a choice. (Yes, indeedy, I choose to be gay, just as my partner chooses to be left-handed!) Anyway, I digress. To the man's credit, he did say something yesterday that made me chuckle:
Democratic Presidential candidate Governor Bill Richardson, campaigning today in Iowa, issued the following statement regarding the recent “spying” incident involving the National Football League’s New England Patriots:

“The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue. You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush.”

He's got a point. Of course, apathy is also part of the problem. I still remember overhearing some guy in the San Jose Airport once totally handing over his right to privacy to whomever wants to spy on him: "Hey, I got nuffin' to hide. The only people who have a problem wid dis here domestic surveillance is people doin' she-it they shouldn't be doing."

Moron.

Bad Reporter

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Britney Spears, Tsk

I didn't catch her MTV Awards appearance, but I saw enough snippets on various news segments today that I'd agree: yup, she sucked. Her comeback came back too soon. The girl needs practice and a good dose of new confidence. However, let's be real. "Fat"? They're saying she's fat?! Honey, that girl is not fat. Sure, she's gained some weight; we're used to washboard abs on her. But she's hardly fat. Looks like some visceral fat's been added, which is common with alcohol and drug abuse, along with poor eating habits. And excuse me, even if she may be a questionable mommy, didn't she have a baby as well? It's not like she's got love handles, cellulite all over her thighs, and a jiggling, wavy ass. Most women would love to have that body. So, shut up already, catty people, unless you think you look better.

We Will Never Forget

Monday, September 10, 2007

Well, Knock Us Over with a Feather!


General Petraeus says the surge is working. Dang! Did y'all see that one coming?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Study: Casual Sex Only Rewarding For First Few Decades

The Onion

Study: Casual Sex Only Rewarding For First Few Decades

ARLINGTON, VA—"Sadly, many of these promiscuous singles may never realize how miserable a lifetime of supremely pleasurable sex can make them," said Dr. Sullivan.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Oh Look! It's An Osama bin Laden Double!


By now we've all heard there's a "new" Osama bin Laden video out, with a taped message, transcripts of which are now all over the Internet. Word is voice recognition software/experts are saying it's really him. Uh-huh. If so, I especially love how he taunts the Democratic party for not listening to the American public and forcing a troop withdrawal from Iraq. I guess Osama's been reading Dailykos.

But seriously, the last thing I knew, devout and conservative Muslim men (and bin Laden would fit that description) don't trim their beards nor dye their gray hairs, just as their women don't show skin in public; they hide under their burquas. The dude in the photo above clearly fiddles with his beard. (Well ... it could be a fake beard since, perhaps, bin Laden's hacked his off in order to remain incognito. So to make the video, he applied massive amounts of steel wool to his face.)

Pardon my skepticism, but I suppose I think everything's too coincidental. Osama is here to taunt us all on the eve of September 11, and on the eve of General Petraeus's message to Congress that the surge has truly helped us kick booty in Iraq. He should know. Dubya just met with him to tell him so.

Seven Beer Wonders of the World

Anybody who knows me well knows that although I may purport to be a big ol' jock, I'm actually a big ol' lush in disguise. I like just about any kind of alcohol except for gin, and I'll even put up with that if it comes in a Long Island or a Black Opal. I'll go through certain phases, too, in much the same way I'll go through author phases (reading everything by Woolf, or Patricia Cornwell ... the sublime to the ridiculous). On tap for tonight are a couple of snakebites (that's cider and lager mixed).

For the beer lovers who read this blog, here's an article that tells of seven beer wonders of the world, including a chocolate beer, a beer brewed for dogs, a nitrous oxide beer (laughing beer), and bilk (a Japanese beer made with milk). Cheers!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Return to Trail Running and Working Out

Whoooohooooo! I never did find a good place to go trail running in Spokane unless it was somewhere along the Centennial Trail, and then I kept reading about car break-ins at the trailheads. Ix-nay on that! I'm glad to be back in the Bay Area, where trails abound and they are in deserted enough places that people leave your doggone car alone. But wow, have I lost some serious cardiovascular fitness. An @5K loop I used to run with regularity is now impossible for me to do without stopping to catch my breath. The first half mile is flat, and then the next mile is a steady uphill, so that's probably why. I've run it twice so far since I've been back, and I did markedly better the second time, so I have no doubt I'll be able to do it without stopping in no time.

As for lifting weights, it's wonderful to be back working out at my old gym with my old workout partner, T. We used to be pretty hardcore and hit the weights 6 times a week. So far I'm looking at more like 4 or maybe 5, depending on weekends (this weekend my S.O's cousin is getting married, so I will be attending that shindig in the East Bay. Aside: her family knows how to party! LOL I hope I can lift my head on Sunday, much less lift a dumbbell.) T and I used to bench about 95 lbs with regularity (my heaviest lift was 105 for 10 reps), and yesterday all we could manage was 75. So our work is cut out for us here as well. Never fear--thank the goddess for "muscle memory."

I must admit it was pretty hilarious walking into the gym with T last week during our old workout time. People kept coming up to us to say hi! They hadn't seen us in forever! (That's because T started working out in the mornings after I moved to Spokane, instead of at 5pm.) Gawd, it was almost like a reunion. And after half a dozen people came up to say hello, it dawned on me: I used to know more people in that gym alone than I ever actually met and came to know in all of Spokane. So ... was it me? Was it them? More likely, it was a mix of both.

One thing I am bummed about is that I threw my back out and couldn't do Bloomsday while I was there. Oh well, there are many race t-shirts to be had down here. Just gotta be careful I don't step on a banana slug.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Nuns Say to Impeach Bush and Cheney




According to the Winston-Salem Journal:
A progressive group of U.S. nuns has called on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney because of their roles in the war in Iraq.

“The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for ... high crimes and misdemeanors,” the group wrote in a letter written on behalf of its board members.

The letter says that impeachment is warranted for their “deceiving the public under the false pretense that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction” and “destroying” the reputation of the United States and the good will of other nations.

“The time for impeachment is now — before the example of George W. Bush’s regime is set in stone,” they wrote. “Future generations will thank you for preserving the freedom of our nation and its relation to the entire human community.”
Watch out, baby. These ladies mean bidness.