Thursday, April 30, 2009


I was linked to this shitpile of an article from Shakespeare's Sister. They used the term "shitpile and I think they're right. This is whence it's earned:

Even before I had sons, I worried about having a daughter. I could handle boys, with their cut-and-dried needs, but girls were so much more complicated. Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements. They whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate.

Now, granted, I'm the mother of a girl. But I know a whole bunch of parents of boys and it certainly doesn't feel like their jobs are any easier than mine. Kids are hard. And, sheesh, all kids whine and mope and manipulate. I believe what we got going on in that there pull quote is a fair amount of misogynistic projection.

But, it did make me think about Laney. When we decided to adopt, I told Don I wanted a girl. Don didn't care either way and was fine with checking the "girl" box on the adoption form.

I battled guilt. It felt like we were getting this enormous gift from Russia and I shouldn't be picky in any way, shape or form about what we were getting.

I talk a good game about how I decided it was OK to request a girl since there was so little we could control about the child who'd become ours. But, really, in my heart of heart, I just wanted a daughter.

And if I couldn't get pregnant, I could get this. I could get my daughter.

And I have her. And regret nothing. Laney is (to steal from a Shaker comment) made of awesome.

If we'd had the finances to do it again, we'd have been non-specific about gender. And, if we'd gone to Russia again, this would probably have meant a boy. I'd have liked a boy too. I love to cuddle my nephew (who is a big old bucket of cute, to be fair), and when I do I think how much I'd like to be the mother of a son too.

But, you know, this is what we have. And I wouldn't trade a drop of Laney for all the stars in the skies.

- an incoherent blogpost, my friends, but I've had a lot of wine. I blame the triple overtime Bulls game - Go Bulls!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Question Nine


Question Nine: You say that America’s treatment of terror suspects will cause terrorists to treat their captives, especially Americans, more cruelly. On what grounds do you assert this? Did America’s far more moral treatment of Japanese prisoners than Japan’s treatment of American prisoners in World War II have any impact on how the Japanese treated American and other prisoners of war? Do you think that evil people care how morally pure America is?

Answer Nine: Dude, this isn't about other people. This is about America. I don't want MY country torturing. But, if you want to talk about Japan, I hardly think dropping a bomb on them that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians makes us exactly morally pure.

Question Eight

Almost there, kids, almost...

Question Eight: Would you agree to releasing the photos of the treatment of Islamic terrorists only if accompanied by photos of what their terror has done to thousands of innocent people around the world? Would you agree to photos -- or at least photo re-enactments -- of, let us say, Iraqi children whose faces were torn off with piano wire by Islamists in Iraq? If not, why not? Isn’t context of some significance here?

Answer Eight: Dennis, free and open society here. I don't favor suppressing any photographs at all. But, more to the point, WHAT? I just googled this and the only thing I can find about kids having their faces torn off with piano wire is from YOUR blogpost. Did you just make that up? God.


Oh, he thinks he's got me on this one:

Question Seven: Will you seek to prosecute members of Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who were made aware of the waterboarding of high-level suspects and voiced no objections?

Answer Seven: Yes. Dennis, this is NOT a partisan issue. And, it's sort of gross that you seem to think it is.


Oh lordy.

Question Six: Many members of the intelligence community now feel betrayed and believe that the intelligence community will be weakened in their ability to fight the most vicious organized groups in the world. As reported in the Washington Post, former intelligence officer “(Mark) Lowenthal said that fear has paralyzed agents on the ground. Apparently, many of those in the know are certain that life-saving information was gleaned from high level terror suspects who were waterboarded. As Mike Scheuer, former head of the CIA unit in charge of tracking Osama bin Laden, said, ”We were very certain that the interrogation procedures procured information that was worth having.” If, then, the intelligence community has been adversely affected, do you believe it can still do the work necessary to protect tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people from death and maiming?

Question Six: Yes I do. Also, no one is talking about prosecuting CIA agents.


Motoring, now, cause this one is easy:

Question Five. Presumably you would acknowledge that the release of the classified reports on the handling of high-level, post-Sept. 11 terror suspects would inflame passions in many parts of the Muslim world. If innocents were murdered because nonviolent cartoons of Muhammad were published in a Danish newspaper, presumably far more innocents will be tortured and murdered with the release of these reports and photos. Do you accept any moral responsibility for any ensuing violence against American and other civilians?

Answer Five: No. I don't think it's the government's job to keep secrets from us in order to keep us safe from lunatics. Look, in a nutshell, there's a price we pay to live in a free abd open society and part of it is that our safety cannot be guaranteed.


Halfway there, kids!

Question Four: If lawyers will be prosecuted for giving legal advice to an administration that you consider immoral and illegal, do you concede that this might inhibit lawyers in the future from giving unpopular but sincerely argued advice to the government in any sensitive area? They will, after all, know that if the next administration disapproves of their work, they will be vilified by the media and prosecuted by the government

Question Five: Dennis, I love the way your mind works. This is not about what I "think" is illegal. This is not about Obama "disapproving" of the lawyer's work. Honey, this is about straight up illegality. So, yeah, if these lawyers are prosecuted I hope it DOES stop future lawyers from abetting their clients' criminal activities.

Third Question


Question Three:. Is any maltreatment of anyone at any time -- even a high-level terrorist with knowledge that would likely save innocents’ lives -- wrong? If there is no question about the identity of a terror suspect , and he can provide information on al-Qaida -- for the sake of clarity, let us imagine that Osama Bin Laden himself were captured -- could America do any form of enhanced interrogation involving pain and/or deprivation to him that you would consider moral and therefore support?

Answer Three: 24 is a television show and Dick Cheney is a liar.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Question Two

Here's Dennis' second question:

Question 2. Are all forms of painful pressure equally morally objectionable? In other words, are you willing to acknowledge that there are gradations of torture as, for example, there are gradations of burns, with a third-degree burn considerably more injurious and painful than a first-degree burn? Or is all painful treatment to be considered torture? Just as you, correctly, ask proponents of waterboarding where they draw their line, you, too, must explain where you draw your line.

Answer 2: All torture is "morally objectionable." It's furthermore not my job to determine what forms of "painful treatment" should be classified as torture. We have a system of laws for that. Waterboarding, for example, has been illegal since 1947.

Tweeting Torture

So, I keyed "torture" into a twitter search to see where the twitterverse was at, which is mostly anti-torture and pro-prosecution of the Bush era policy makers. But one fellow did post this Dennis Prager article titled Nine Questions the Left Needs to Answer About Torture. Pretty much his goal here is to take the moral high road by saying, "ka DUH, torture is bad, but The Left are still a bunch of big, stinky hypocrites and I'm going to out them as such, cunningly, with these nine questions."

Well, I'm not THE left, but I am, er, A left, so I thought I'd try and respond. Let's take the first one today.

Question One: Given how much you rightly hate torture, why did you oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein, whose prisons engaged in far more hideous tortures, on thousands of times more people, than America did -- all of whom, moreover, were individuals and families who either did nothing or simply opposed tyranny? One assumes, furthermore, that all those Iraqi innocents Saddam had put into shredding machines or whose tongues were cut out and other hideous tortures would have begged to be waterboarded.

Answer One: Leaving aside the obvious (we didn't invade Iraq because Saddam was a torturer), this question is a total non sequitur. We lefties abhor lots of things without thinking we ought to invade and then (incompetently) occupy countries who engage in them. And, while Saddam may have tortured more people than the CIA, call us crazy, but we lefties don't think Saddam gets to set the bar. We are not, despite your best efforts to paint us as such, moral relativists. Torture, in any capacity, in any amount, is wrong. And we will not stand for it to be done by our country in our name.


So, I haven't eaten meat in many many many years. But even in the days when I liked to get my cow on, I didn't care for shrimp. But, most people love them some shrimp.

And yet, here's my question: does this actually look appetizing to the meat-eating, shrimp lovers out there:

Because it's been on my Yahoo home page since yesterday and it's grossing me out. Looks like a big old plate full of Jabba the Hut's fingers. Or skinned bugs. Yuk.

Friday, April 24, 2009

This Week's Laney Quote

As usual, from the car:

Laney: Mommy, will you live to be one hundred fifty thousand million fifty years?
Me: Probably not
Laney: You know, it's OK that you're 40, you look the same as before.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest non-sequitur ever.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


It's no secret that I thought little of the Bush administration. I thought it was, at its core, corrupt, incurious, entitled, incompetent, and rotten. But, hand to God (metaphorically), I was surprised to find out about torture with the goal of extracting false confessions to gin up rationale for war in Iraq.

As bad as I thought they were, I never thought they were that bad.

Of course, that, "they" is convenient. Because it wasn't Dick Cheney locking people in small boxes with insects. It wasn't Condeleeza Rice waterboarding someone 186 times. It wasn't George Bush forcing people to stay awake for eight days and then throwing them against walls, slapping them, humiliating them. It was America. We're all guilty as hell.

I can't see anyway to redeem ourselves of our toxic complicity in this rotten evil mess outside of prosecution. I don't know how you do it. Congressional hearings, special prosecutor, just shipping the motherfuckers off to The Hague? I do know this: we can't just walk away.

Name Calling

... It has been pointed out to me that name calling is not effective. That's mostly true (I maintain it IS helpful when the dude in the Escalade parks over two spaces to avoid scratches on his car because he IS a douchebag and that must be noted). So, in the interest of avoiding any more name calling, I'll leave it with this open question:

Is it fair to force people who don't share your faith or, for that matter, your moral code to adhere to it?

The thing about our democracy is that it has two functions: to enforce the will of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority.

I maintain, and will continue to do so, that as long as the government is in the business of bestowing legal status on couples by way of marriage, and as long as this legal status is denied to the millions of gay Americans representing the minority, the government has failed in its second function. And while that second function is the hard one, it's also the part that's made this American experiment with democracy so great.

With that I'll consider my position stated and may stop harping. May. I sort of doubt it. But, shoot, anything is possible.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hey! I'm Just Being Honest

I was linked to this CNN article earlier today (which resulted in a rather cantakerous FB discussion), defending Miss California, after her disastrous response to the gay marriage issue during some pageant of some sort. Ahem:

A lot of folks are always saying they like to keep it real, that they want authenticity and straight talk. Yet when someone actually does it, there is hell to pay.

Of all the ridiculous, leotarded (this is a new Dan Savage expression) defenses for saying something indefensible, "I was just being honest" is the most ridiculous and leotarded of them all.

Being honest about being a bigot does not mitigate your bigotry. It just makes you socially retarded.


Blood and TIme

So, I haven't given blood in months and feel really guilty about it. Do you guys give blood? If you you don't suffer from blood or needle phobias, it's absolutely the easiest way out there to feel virtuous. Basically, you get to lie down and read a magazine for 10 or so minutes and no one will interrupt you. And then when it's over, they give you juice and cookies!

So, I had every intention today of walking over to the State of Illinois Building (or whatever it's called these days) to do a lunchtime donation. But, then it occurred to me that my period is impending* and that + my vegetarianism = not enough iron in the blood for donation.

All of which leads me to the following question/quandary: when did I lose all my time? It feels like the days just rush past me in a frenzy of activity, stuff to plan and prepare for, stuff to do, stuff to clean up after. And I can't seem to make the time for the things I want to do... like read poetry and give blood.

I suspect that won't end until Laney is all done growed up.

When I was visiting my mother last week I was struck by the amount of leisure time she and her fellow have. Their house always looks so nice, the garden is tended and ready to burst, the books they read and TV shows they watch! Retirement sounds so nice, doesn't it?

Too bad none of us will be able to afford it.

* If any dudes out there got skeeved out by my mention of my period, get over it. You Penis-Americans have been hocking up loogies on sidewalks and farting with impunity for my entire life. You are so much grosser than us. You don't get to go all prissy when we talk about our biological functions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heat and Light and God

When I was visiting family week before last, I got into a talk with my brother, sister-in-law and mother about religion. As is my wont, I argued my point with more heat than light and, in so doing, failed to make my point entirely.

Let me try to do it better here.

I think religions are conceived for two reasons: on the one hand, they explain the world to people, help societies function civilly, define a place in the universe for its adherents, and are often really beautiful; on the other hand, they are powerful colonial forces, where god is an expedient way to force people to submit.

Obviously, the vast majority of religious folks are not closet colonialists. On the other hand, Pat Buchanon keeps showing up on my teevee in all his cynical company man glory.

And then there's me, and the lots like me, who just don't believe in god.

From where I sit, If God makes you happy, if he enriches your life and gives it meaning, I'll never try to sway you to my way of thinking. Shoot, I don't care how happy religion makes you or doesn't make you. I save all my evangelizing for Battlestar Galactica.

But, when those faith systems assert themselves obnoxiously into the public forum? That's a horse of a different color. When the pope says that condoms make AIDS worse, or the Church of Latter Day Saints tells us to be afraid of letting the homos wed or Christian groups assert that America is a Christian nation (thus, I am not really American), it chaps my hide.

It's not difficult for me to separate adherents to a faith from the often corrupt political organizations in which they're housed.

I wonder if it's as easy, or too easy, or not easy enough, or shouldn't be easy, or what for adherents to that faith.

I feel like I lost my point again. Do you know what I mean?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Five Songs I Love that I'd Never Have Heard of Without Lin Brehmer

Way back in my youth, I used to be really into 45s. The very first one I bought was Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones." I was driving down Walnut Grove in my 1979 Ford Fairmont wagon, 16 years old, and so flush with the thrill of driving that I happily ran evening grocery store errands for my Mom. The car didn't have FM radio, so I was listening to some cool AM R&B radio station (god, I AM old) and that song came on. I'd never heard it before. World: rocked. The next Saturday, I headed out to Pop Tunes on Summer Avenue and bought it on 45. From that moment forward, I became a devotee of the 45.

Buying songs from iTunes is the same concept, only much easier since you don't have to fit that wonky plastic thing into the center of the record so it'll fit on the record player (oooollllllldddddddd).

Today I was shuffling through my purchased playlist and it occurred to me how many songs on it I owe to morning drivetime radio on WXRT. Normally, I wouldn't geek out on music like this, since I'm too busy geeking out on poetry or science fiction. But I was thinking about it today, so I jotted down songs that I heard at work today while I was shuffling through the purchased list on my iTunes player. I think you'll enjoy!

1. Alejandro Escavedo "Always' a Friend". Dude, I love this guy's voice. Here he is doing the song with Bruce Springsteen... keeps good company, that guy!

2. Richard Thompson "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". I'd actually heard this song before done regular bluegrass style. But I really dig this version (writing about music and I find myself using words like "dig")

3. Guster "Amsterdam". Just a flat out AWESOME pop song.

4. Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal". I love the happy happy music and happy happy imagery and happy happy happy chorale all serving to set up the lyric "turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime." It's just fucking brilliant.

5. The Hold Steady "Sequestered in Memphis". Ahhhh, rock and roll!

6. Mike Doughty "I Hear the Bells". Mike Doughty does things to me with his sexy, sexy songs and sexy, sexy voice.

7. Ray Davies "Working Man's Cafe". When I saw him, he prefaced this song with an acknowledgement that the world is a lot better in a lot of ways. But, it's not hard to love this modern world and mourn the old ways at the same time. Globalization is kind of sad.

8. Lucinda Williams "Can't Let Go". This one is kind of a cheat since I didn't buy it on iTunes, since it came out before iTunes. But I did hear it on WXRT and it did send me to the record store. Lucinda Williams is so cool. And can't she just sing?!?

Eight's a weird number to stop at... but really, I have SO much work to do tonight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What's Up With Commercial Parents

So, I noticed this ad on the TV and was struck by it in much the same way as the blogger SKM over at Shakespeare's Sister:

And then in the car this morning I heard an ad on WXRT for something I wasn't paying attention to that included this exchange:

Daughter [in cute little kid voice]: Can I have a hot dog, daddy?
Daddy: A hot dog is seven dollars!
Daughter [yelling]:I WANT A HOT DOG
Sound Effect: Ka ching

What do you guys think, does being wildly spoiled lead to a career in advertising? Because I know a lot of parents whose reactions to both teenage boy and little girl would be considerably different (i.e., stopping just short of physical violence) than those of the parents in the ads.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some Advice to the Well-Intentioned Dude

So, via a couple of feminist websites, I learned of this article in Cosmo by Ryan Hansen (formerly Dick Casablancas of the late lamented Veronica Mars) called 10 Things Guys Wished We Knew.

At number 2, Ryan tells us that we're already beautiful and don't need all that makeup.

I'm gonna let you in on a secret, Ryan: girls with no makeup who look so pretty do so because they've applied their makeup really well. Makeup is something we ladies know more about than the fellas.; e.g., everyone looks better with a little mascara. Best to leave this kind of thing up to the experts.

Of course, the whole "you look better without makeup" thing is number two in the pantheon of "Stuff Guys Think Will Endear Them To Women, But Instead Come Off as Condescending and a Little Gross."

Number one is, of course, "I like a woman with a little meat on her bones."

Please don't refer to my body as meat. Because: yuck.

But, more importantly, you are not befriending the sisterhood by telling us how fat we can get and how much makeup we don't need to wear. In short, it's not all about you, dude. Understand?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pineapples and The Singularity

So, after a week off from almost all computer-related activities, I return to zero comments about my last post, the poem. I can only assume this means that my readership is not only small, it is culturally retarded.

(I like to cast blame outward whenever possible. It's a neat trick I learned from Bill O'Reilly... if you get good at it, you can always feel like a victim no matter how much of an asshole you're being. Not only does this aid in sleep and digestion, I find it improves the quality of your skin as well).

Anyway, pineapples. It starts with this story I heard on NPR about The Singularity.

Basically, there's this super smart dude named Ray Kurzweil who's really good at predicting technology; e.g., he predicted the emergence of a world wide web 10ish years before it showed up, which is pretty extraordinary if you look back at where the intertoobz were in 1986. Here's his prediction for something he foresees popping up 2045ish which is so extraordinary, he (among others) refers to it as a singularity:

... And one thing we'll be able to do is send millions of nanobots, blood cell-sized devices, inside our bloodstream. They'll keep us healthy from inside. They'll go inside our brains and interact with our biological neurons, just the way neural implants do today, and put our brains on the Internet, make us smarter, provide full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system. And so, we will become a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence. So over time, the non-biological portion of our intelligence will predominate, and that’s basically what we mean by the singularity. When you get out to 2045, we'll have multiplied the overall intelligence of the human/machine civilization a billionfold, and that’s such a profound transformation that we call it a singularity.

How fucking cool is that?!?

I mean, we're talking a Holodeck inside your head here. Shoot, one could even extrapolate to the kind of cool technology they talk about in Old Man's War, and Battlestar Galactica, where you can download your consciousness onto a different (perhaps even Tricia Helfer-esque) body.

I want to see (have) that!

And, thus, I have foresaken a chocolatey, fatty (or, if I really had my druthers, boozey, cigarettey) mid-afternoon snack for pineapple so I can live to 76.

Seriously, we live in some amazing times.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Poem by Me: Or, Watch as I Beat A Metaphor Right to Death

When I was twelve my mother took a picture of me
Flush with timid success
After winning the Blessed Sacrament Spelling Bee
(I had a pimple right here)
She sent it to me when I was twenty-three
And called it "On the Verge."

That time between twelve and twenty is like that:
You stand on a precipice and fall
Awkward and ungainly and lovely
And you swim, surprised you stay afloat at all

But once your stroke gets strong, looking back,
The precipice lingers in the distance, beyond
An inexorable ocean, beneath expansive, luminous black
Sky. And it looks lovely and same from the middle

Where I am now, treading water
Feeling like both mother and daughter
And what's ahead seems so scary

But, I suppose at the end, when it's all old hat
(There's un-thered, time all spent)
The whole of the ocean will look like that

So rather than look ahead or look behind
Rather than linger
On all that sky above
All that water below
I'll feel the wet on my arms
The salt on my lips
The joy in the flow

And swim.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jolie Babies

I hate to be a scold, but have a tendency towards it. Take that under advisement as I attempt to lesson you minus the scolding on the nature of international adoption.

I was hanging out with my good friend, my wise, kind and dear friend, last weekend when the topic of Angelina Jolie and her many kids came up. As it does. She told me she thought it was creepy that way Angelina Jolie "collected" kids.

Now, look, if I were to pick a team I would totally be Team Aniston. (I think this is probably because when the dementia sinks in in a year or two, I'll remember my twenties as that time when I was really good looking and hung out at Central Perk with my other pretty, wiseacre friends). That said, I still get my back up at the notion that there is something rarefied or selfish or exotic about the way she's chosen to build her family.

I think this without knowing Angelina Jolie at all, who could be (as Liz Lemon would say) staunchly in support of cocoa puffs. But there's something about this theory that spills over to the more common liberal j'accuse that people who adopt from Russia or China do so because they want pretty white babies or have fetishized pretty Asian babies. International adoption becomes perceived as an act of selfishness or narcissism.

What these theories fail to recognize is that there is a child or children at the other end of them. Regardless of why the Jolie/Pitts adopted their children (and, as a profound parenthetical statement let me tell you all that you do not walk out of an orphanage the same person you walk into one and had I their resources, I'd have adopted ten without any doubt that I'd love all ten with the same passion and wholeness that I love my one), this blithe snap at international adoption forgets, cruelly, that those jokes serve to de-legitimize these kids' family. Which sucks. Because it's mean.

And I do not like mean.

End scold. I got scoldy, didn't I? Sorry. But I'm right,