Monday, November 22, 2004

PvP Online

w00t! PvP is now appearing in a real pen-and-ink paper. Congrats, Scott Kurtz! I have been reading PvP for years and years, ever since he had a short-lived but beloved EverQuest panel on one of my favorite gaming sites. He is also a fellow Texan, he is very talented, and he has been trying to make writing comic strips pay actual money—I know, crazy to expect people to pay for content over the Internet, right?—and has done well for himself (I want a Skull blanket!).

He is also an atheist, but he is young, and he is prayed for. :^)

"Bounce Protection"

Banks are aggressively marketing a new form of high cost credit intended to boost their fee income at the expense of the most vulnerable consumers. These products are based on overdraft protection, but are not traditional overdraft lines of credit or the occasional ad hoc practice where a bank will cover a consumer’s bounced check as a courtesy. Instead, they are deliberate, systemic attempts to hook consumers onto overdrafts as a form of high cost credit. To distinguish these products from traditional overdraft lines of credit and from the occasional, ad hoc coverage of an overdraft, we will refer to these plans as “bounce protection.”

more from the National Consumer Law Center.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Pass It On

Amy over at Good Soil has written one of the most beautiful posts I have read in a long time. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go call my mother...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

None Dare Call It Treason has linked to a recent Age article, entitled “Feminism's booby trap.” It reads in part:

In an age in which everything can be bared, from marital intimacies in The Bride Stripped Bare to spiritual epiphanies (Madonna and the Kabbalah), to political and sexual proclivities, the only thing that is off the acceptable agenda for the chattering classes is women and work.

The newspapers, it is true, are full of dissertations on the need for good child care and the continuing feminist battles for equality in the workplace, for the freedom to make good choices. But where in the public forum is the question that refuses to budge from the conscience of most middle-class working mothers: Is my working life good for my child?

How often do you hear mothers say: "It's good for them to see me work. It's good for them to know I can be a mother and a professional." I think I've said it myself, hoping against hope that in the saying of it, it will somehow come true.

Frankly, my daughter is going to grow up with the image of a woman who struggles all the time to be anything at all, who runs frantically from the computer to the kitchen, who tries to write three sentences between looking for Batman's scuba equipment in the fruit bowl and answering the phone, who is capable of falling to bits from one minute to the next with the grief of being a not good enough mother, because she wants too much to be other things as well.

I used to be angry at feminism, at the damage it had done to so many families. Nowadays I am just so very sad. I wonder at times if it isn’t a case of too little, too late when I read articles like the above.

Kevin Michael Grace has linked to a quote from director John Boorman. Speaking in the context of the “necessity” of creating a more “flexible” family, he says (in an interview originally from Salon):

I mean, what you're looking at today is disintegration of family. You can talk as much as you like about family values in a political sense, and the reason these politicians insist on this so much is because of the insecurity. Everyone's afraid of the way families are disintegrating now and nobody knows what replaces that or what they do about it. Everyone is aware of the misery and unhappiness that comes about through that, and yet it just seems to be inevitable somehow.

I think it is inevitable for anyone not working overtly to avoid this result (and more than a few of us may be torn asunder as well). I no longer think it is possible for anyone to remain neutral in this culture war.

10 Things Big Media Don't Want You to Know

or "Media Monopoly Made Simple"

Read More from the Free Press.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Break out the popcorn, kids, it’s gonna be a fun show!

Muslim children in Canada were forced to watch “gay pride” video against their parents’ wishes. (Thanks to “relapsed catholic” for the link.)

30% is the conservative estimate of the number of American Catholic priests who are homosexual.

A Tale of Two Maps” from Tech Central Station
“The statistician's perennial caveat is that "correlation is not causation." but there is little doubt that there is connection, largely unexplained, between ideology and demography. Depressingly deterministic as it is, this correlation, if it continues, may mean that future elections will be decided by immigration patterns, reproductive rates and technologies that allow more businesses and workers to locate in suburban and rural locations.”

More discussion about this over at Gene Ex

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:-
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire..."

Apparently, even on the day that Dr. Dre was to receive an award for his "Lifetime Achievement," he was unable to refrain from stabbing a man on the way to the podium.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Sunday, November 14, 2004


We received a letter from the county stating that our daughter's lead levels were perfectly normal. They were also kind enough to schedule us for another mandatory lead screening test in 12 months. Thanks, meddlesome bureaucrats! I have considered simply refusing, but at the end of the day I don't see any reason to draw the ire of under-educated and over-powered busybodies unless necessary. *sigh*

Friday, November 12, 2004

Canadian writer Kevin Michael Grace is in trouble. I don’t know the particulars—don’t want to know! as the specter of unemployment haunts us all. I do know that he and his family need prayers. Please pray for him. This is going to be a hard Christmas for his family.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It's Not Your Parents' Tax Code

Did you know that two-income married couples are the very "rich" the Left seems determined to tax to death? If you didn't, perhaps you should brush up on why Bush loves the "rich" (hint: married couples with kids put him in office). While you are there, check out when your state's Tax Freedom Day is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

This makes me want to run away screaming

"Do You Want to Lock Your Grandmother Up In A Cage And Only Interact with her via WiFi?"

Ok, so that's not really the NYT title. I really should be happy, I s'pose, to read such a cheery article. After all, we could just decide to up and kill our aging parents.

I'm Shocked, Shocked!

Bush revives bid to legalize illegal aliens
President Bush yesterday moved aggressively to resurrect his plan to relax rules against illegal immigration, a move bound to anger conservatives just days after they helped re-elect him.

The president met privately in the Oval Office with Sen. John McCain to discuss jump-starting a stalled White House initiative that would grant legal status to millions of immigrants who broke the law to enter the United States...

The Ten Commandments Are Racist Now?

In the Netherlands, artist Chris Ripke reacted to the murder on Theo Van Gogh by an islamic fundamentalist by painting a mural with the text "Gij zult niet doden" ("Thou Shalt Not Kill"), one of the ten commandments of the Christian religion.

But because the head of the nearby mosque complained to the police that this was 'offensive' and 'racist', the cops came and sent in city workers to sandblast the mural. A local journalist, Wim Nottroth, who wanted to protest against this by standing in front of the mural was arrested.

From Live From Brussels. Thanks to Gene Ex for the link.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

"Today we were executed. But we will rise."

9 November 2004

Today, our party, the Vlaams Blok, has been condemned to death. This afternoon, the Belgian Supreme Court upheld the verdict, issued by the Court of Appeal in Ghent on 21 April, which declared the Vlaams Blok a criminal organisation. In order to preserve our party members from prosecution, we are now forced to disband. What happened in Brussels today is unique in the Western world: never has a so-called democratic regime outlawed the country’s largest political party.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Free! It's Free!

The Wall Street Journal Online is free this week, as a way to entice subscribers.


EverQuest II Ships

You know what is sad? Paying $90 for the "Limited Collector's Edition EverQuest II DVD" doesn't seem outrageous to me. I spent 20 minutes standing in line at the grocerty store yesterday to correct a checkout error in my favor worth the princely sum of $2!

/em shakes her head

Another Derb gem

It is an odd paradox of human nature, seen in sergeants’ messes as well as boxing gyms, that there is never more ease of manner, concentration on mastering tasks and skills, and warm fellowship among men than when they have come together in a group to perform lawful acts of physical violence.

From the National Review. Read the rest of his essay, Boxing Day, here.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

White man's burden

In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history. They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of morality and force, human rights and grit. The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke. They also admire Winston Churchill and the policy pursued by Ronald Reagan. They tend to read reality in terms of the failure of the 1930s (Munich) versus the success of the 1980s (the fall of the Berlin Wall).

Are they wrong? Have they committed an act of folly in leading Washington to Baghdad? They don't think so. They continue to cling to their belief. They are still pretending that everything is more or less fine. That things will work out. Occasionally, though, they seem to break out in a cold sweat...

Read more from

Random Link

NY Tartan Day

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Jim Kalb on Faith Schools in the Modern British State

over at Majority Rights, he writes:

The practical problem is that secular multicultural education is always bad, at least on any large scale, because schools of that kind can’t have educational goals that are more sustaining than pliability on the one hand and the effective pursuit of self-interest on the other. If the moral world consists solely of the conflicting purposes of various people, then you either teach children to do what they’re told or you teach them to get what they want. The results of such an outlook when applied to education are fundamental aimlessness, aggression, manipulation, boredom, stupidity, and general bad conduct. Everybody hates everybody, and nobody learns anything.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

One Tired Biscuit

Yesterday, I took the Skeeter Eater in to have a state-ordered lead screening test. I think I must have blocked out the full horror of it all when the test was being described to me in the pediatrician’s office, because I didn’t realize until we arrived at the lab that she would be subject to a venous draw.

Our little girl was such a trooper. She loves to get out of the house, and loves to see new people. Yesterday was no exception, given that the poor child had no idea what was coming. The phlebotomist had me hold her in my lap while she checked the baby’s right arm for a good vein. Little Bit flirted and cooed at the poor woman in the most charming manner. The poor technician was already beginning to tear up as she placed the rubber tie on the infant’s arm. Finally, she stopped what she was doing to get another nurse to come in and assist. I could tell the experience was bothering her, and our girl hadn’t even started crying yet.

The first stick didn’t work and after digging around for a few seconds, the phlebotomist pulled out and went to the baby’s left arm. By then the baby was crying her poor heart out, the hurt, disappointed, “Why are you hurting me?” kind of crying that makes all adults within earshot feel as bad as the child. I could feel her hot tears fall on my hands as I held her tight to my chest, but thankfully couldn’t see her face. As bad as I felt for my baby, I felt even worse for the two women who looked like they would rather be doing anything else than trying to get blood from a pretty one year-old baby.

The second stick worked and they took a half-tube of blood from our little girl. The phlebotomist said she would probably bruise pretty well. Mr. Blessed removed the sticky tape and gauze from the crooks of both her arms this morning, but there wasn’t much bruising, thank goodness.

After this ordeal, I took Miss Missy to the mall where they have a children’s play area, complete with a rice-filled “sand” box, lots of toys to spill on the floor, and slides and balls of all sizes and textures. (They also had juice boxes, which I was quite grateful for, considering that I hadn’t thought to bring any milk or other fluid.) We had never been there before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. It was wonderful! There was another little boy there who had just turn five (it was his birthday) and Little Bit followed him around, jabbering and smiling. She was able to run around and explore and touch anything she wanted. We were only there for about an hour, but she never stopped moving (and neither did I, picking up after her!).

We left the mall to go to the grocery store. We had just enough time to get the shopping done and be on time to pick Mr. Blessed up from work. The Biscuit seemed a little tired, but I didn’t think much of it, since she always perks up when we get to a new place with new sights, smells, and people to flirt with. She was completely passed out by the time we got to the grocery store, and was still asleep as I pulled her out of the car seat. I considered putting her back in and sitting in the car for a few minutes so she could take a quick “power nap,” but decided that we would be done soon enough, and she could sleep on the way to meet Daddy.

Well, I regretted that decision as soon as I put her in the shopping basket. She sat in the seat, sucking her thumb with her eyes clothes, weaving back and forward like a drunken sailor. She was so tired! She managed to wake herself up by doing this bobble-headed routine enough to start crying, so I moved the cart into the snack area, bought a soda, and sat with her while she took a nap on one of the tables.

Yes, I just laid her out on one of the tables and sat with her while she slept. I had thought about putting her over my shoulder and continuing on, but I needed to buy chicken, and I wasn’t going to hold a baby with one hand while I touched raw chicken with the other. This seemed like a recipe for disaster, so just I sat back and watched my baby sleep. The place was mostly deserted that time of day anyway, so I wasn’t in anyone’s way. The older folks who gravitate to places like this where they can drink coffee and gossip all gathered around to coo at the sleeping baby, but Little Bit didn’t stir but to twitch a foot on occasion. I guess the combination of a traumatic blood draw and running around were too much for her. I had never seen our little Energizer Bunny this tired before.

After about 30 minutes, she woke up and was ready to go. I completed our shopping as fast as I could, and was still able to pick Mr. Blessed up on time.

Dutch Filmmaker Theo Van Gogh Murdered

(see here and here)

"Nothing is known about the motive," said Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende.

I wonder what Pim Fortuyn would have to say about the motive. We can’t ask him now, of course, because he, too, is dead.

Razib at Gene Ex has blogged about this in a level-headed fashion.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Revolutionary Cooking

Sometimes I resent cooking. I have days when it feels like spend all my time either prepping to cook, cooking, or cleaning up from cooking. I cook two to three meals a day (we do tend to skip breakfast), most every day. Some days Mr. Blessed picks up something, which is wonderful, because that is one less load of dishes for me, or one hour I can spend doing something outside of the kitchen.

And there are days when nothing seems to work. Our recent running joke concerns a dish I thought would turn out pretty good but Mr. Blessed christened “Snot Noodle Casserole.” It wasn’t a mean comment, Gentle Reader; it was an accurate observation. Still, most days I manage to be the windshield, not the bug. This is due almost wholly to the Food Network show Good Eats, which has taught me the basic building blocks of food science. I understand emulsification now, and how to prepare different cuts of meat. This Texas girl was a vegetarian for many years, in no small part because I didn’t want to contend with figuring out what to braise and what to broil. Well, and because I hated plants.*

I love Alton Brown’s passion for teaching, and the way he fights the good fight for families and community against the dehumanizing and corrosive effects of outsourcing family roles, such as that of the cook:

Here’s what it comes down to kids. Ronald McDonald doesn’t give a damn about you. Neither does that little minx Wendy or any of the other icons of drivethroughdom. And you know what, they’re not supposed to. They’re businesses doing what businesses do. They don’t love you. They are not going to laugh with you on your birthdays, or hold you when you’re sick and sad. They won’t be with you when you graduate, when your children are born or when you die. You will be with you and your family and friends will be with you. And, if you’re any kind of human being, you will be there for them. And you know what, you and your family and friends are supposed to provide you with nourishment too. That’s right folks, feeding someone is an act of caring. We will always be fed best by those that care, be it ourselves or the aforementioned friends and family.

We are fat and sick and dying because we have handed a basic, fundamental and intimate function of life over to corporations. We choose to value our nourishment so little that we entrust it to strangers. We hand our lives over to big companies and then drag them to court when the deal goes bad. This is insanity.

Even on those days when nothing goes well, and I burn the chicken and undercook the potatoes, I agree that our family is doing our small part in the revolution to reclaim our humanity from MegaCorp. Liberation begins at home. As the man wrote, "He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative."

*I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. ~A. Whitney Brown

You Said It, AB

I have decided to move from the planet. I’m sorry but I simply cannot remain on a world where Paris Hilton is allowed to publish “memoirs”. The real clincher is that people will buy it, and read it…and think it wonderful and insightful and that “That poor girl just can’t find…whatever.”

I can only hope that the beams will cross and she’ll end up on Dr. Phil so that my vision of hell can become complete. Actually, for that to happen John Tesh would have to be the musical guest.

posted by Alton Brown, 6:37 PM