Thursday, January 29, 2009

now was that so hard?

Why couldnt the U.S. Congress have done as much?

You Maniac! You sold it out! Ah, damn you! God damn you to hell! Here's a thought: It's not really a secret that Rod Blagojevich likes money by whatever means it comes to him. And I dont think, judging by his behavior, that he's too worried about the good of the Democratic Party. So, is it possible, you think, that the Republican Party is paying him to stay in the spotlight, acting, as it were, like an complete ass, and thereby embarrassing the Democrats? What has Blago got to lose, after all? I dont think there's much he can do to explain away those tapes, so he may be thinking, "well, they will pay me. I mean, I cant just give away my downfall".


do you know how hard it is to find an image that properly conveys space and desolation without being beautiful also?Is anybody there?

I can tell when I've been blogging too much, because it starts to seem like nobody else is, when in reality I've just gone into overdrive or something

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

bringing meming to my life

because PIE is the nutritious one

Here's a meme that I just made up. I'm going to answer it, and, because I "belong" to the anti-tagging league (though I think I may be the only one in it, since I may have dreamed the Omnipotent Poobah's creation of it), I'm not going to ask anyone else to do it. If you choose to do so, then please let me know in the comments.

Name 5 things that are not true, but that you wouldnt mind if people thought they were:

  1. I am a world-class chess master.

  2. I am the illegitimate son of Edward Weston*.

  3. I would kill you for a cheeseburger.

  4. I did all the Wookie voices in Star Wars: the Clone Wars

  5. When I was 23, I won a small Parisian cooking contest with my Pasta de Bif et Fromage. I did not tell them it was just Hamburger Helper with corn and ranch beans.
That's it, I'm done. Feel free to join in, but I create no obligations.

* Sorry, mom.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Our Protectors are still around

First, this description of how people behave:

A "normal distribution curve" can be used to describe the behavior of people. People normally fall into one of three categories, according to the behavior they exhibit.

1. Protective behaviors (20%):
Protective people spend most of their time complaining or rationalizing to protect themselves. They’re good at explaining, rationalizing, or even lying to justify their position. By complaining, rationalizing, or putting others down, they avoid doing what is expected of them, and they divert your thoughts from the task at hand. If anyone tries to do something positive, they are convinced that the only reason is to make them look bad or create more work for everyone. They’re easy to spot – they spend more time in the teacher lounge than others and can be heard complaining and moaning about everything on the school grounds.
Protective people form their own group at school, although they will deny it. They can usually be found sitting in the back row of meetings, in the lounge complaining, or at association meetings filing grievances.
Protective people are self-defeating people. Because their behavior can spread, they can cause an organization to defeat itself also.
Typical comments: "The kids can’t read." "The administration is not supportive." "The young (old) teachers don’t know anything." "In-services are boring, they’re a waste of time." "The new program will never work. I tried it years ago." "Where does it say that in the contract." "Do I have to do this."
2. Maintenance behaviors (60%):
Maintenance people spend most of their time coping and hoping that life and work will improve. They are good survivors. The don’t complain, rationalize, lie or put people down most of the time. They cope and survive. They hope to win the lottery one day. They are primarily concerned with themselves and their own survival, safety, health, and welfare. Maintenance people are the hardworking backbone of society. The do a lot of wishing (new car, new husband etc.) but because they are maintainers and survivors, they do nothing to rock the boat ("Go with the flow").
The most vulnerable people on the staff are the maintenance people, the middle 60 percent of the curve. They know that they should be enhancing lives, first their own and then those of the people they teach. They know that they should work cooperatively with the enhancement people of the staff. But at faculty meetings, the protective people stand up and start to shout about the pay, the conditions, the parents, the students, and the crummy administrators. The needs of the people with a maintenance behavior to survive are so great that they decide to follow the protectors. Because maintainers do not choose, they go through life vacillating, one day deciding to follow the enhancers and the next day deciding to follow the protectors.
Maintenance people are coping people. The don’t destroy an organization like protective people do, but it is necessary to light a bonfire under these people to get them to contribute to and be a part of an organization.
Typical comments: "If only I could make it through the week." "I need a raise, newer materials, less work, more help…" "I wish I had a different principal, different coworkers…" "I wish I had the materials to follow this program properly." "People don’t understand or appreciate me." "I’ll just go with the flow and do what the group wants to do."
3. Enhancement behaviors (20%):
Enhancement people spend most of their time participating, learning, and growing. People who use enhancement behaviors are "we" people. They enjoy participating, so they go to conferences, conventions, and meetings. These are the people the protectors and maintainers wish would just sit down, rest, and smell the roses. People who use enhancement behaviors are leaders and professionals. They are the active people at school and in the community. They get the work done, and they make contributions to society. They are achievement oriented and have vision. They enhance the lives of the people around them.
Typical comments: "May I share this article with you?" What can I do to contribute?" "I volunteer." "Let’s work on this project together." "Tell me about your new idea." "We need to constantly strive for excellence." "I want to learn."
If you're wondering about the heavy presence of teachers in the above, it's because this comes from Harry and Rosemary Wong's book "The First Days of School". The quote below comes from the same source.
"The Most Vulnerable people on the staff are the Mainenance people, [from] the middle 60% of the curve. They know that that they should be enhancing lives, first their own and then those of the people they teach. They know that they should work cooperatively with the Enhancement people on the staff.
But at the Faculty meetings, the protective people stand up and start to shout about the pay, the conditions, the parents, the publishers, and the crummy administrators (remember, protective people need to blame others to protect themselves). The needs of the people with the Maintenance behavior to survive are so great that they decide to follow the Protectors.
Because Maintainers do not choose, they go through life vacillating, one day with deciding to follow the Enhancers and the nest day deciding to follow the Protectors.
Now, forget for a moment that all this is refering to Teachers, and instead apply it to America. Does this sound familiar?
We seem to have switched over to following an Enhancer for now, but for how long will it this last?

Dont count the Republicans out yet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

heard mentality

Just joined Facebook. Interesting so far how many people there are that I know, and I suspect there're a lot more. The interface seems clunky as hell, but maybe I'm just used to blogger. If anyone out there would like to search for me there, I share a name with the latest American Eye-doll winner.

Resistance is futile,
You will be assimilated

Or at least bent roughly over the back of a limosine, gang-raped by a herd of really rich people, then forced to watch on Single-Viewpoint News as some perfectly quaffed drone describes you as the bad person in that encounter.

No, not literally. Yet.

But it might as well be.

A bit of explaination: I found this post while digging around in my old drafts. It kind of relates to a discussion I was having with Billy Bob Gisher and Holster over the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine, and even though Bush is gone, still applies today. See, it doesnt matter which side the media supports, what matters is to be sure that it doesnt support just one. The fewer owners of the media, the larger those owners are, the more the rest of us lose. Corporations dont grow larger to increase profits, they grow larger to increase power.

See, the Bush Administration, apparently sensing that it, and its criminal Party cohorts were about to be out of a job (despite the best Democratic efforts to the contrary), made sure that they will not be "out of power" for too long by ensuring that the number of voices you hear telling you what's good and what's bad in America are as few as possible.

Click on the below graphic to enlarge, look it over, then remind yourself that this is how it was before Bush and his corporate enablers came to town.
While we've all been distracted by things like War and Terrorism and Drugs and Gay Marriage, the true takeover in this country has been quietly proceeding apace as a smaller and smaller number of people take over the ways in which you get your news. Information is the one commodity which can be easily manufactured, but is difficult to distribute. And the tighter the control on that distribution, the more power it gives the distributor.
Why else do you think that newpapers, television and radio stations, which "experts" tell us are losing more readers, viewers, listeners (and presumably money) every day, still keep being sold for record amounts of money? It's not because Charles Foster Murdock, or any other of his ilk feel sorry for those old family-owned media outlets. It's because control of information is the key to control of everything else. That is always, first and foremost, the business of any secret police, and it is why no dictatorship is complete without a coerced, censored or outright crushed press.
Now that the FCC has made it okay for one or two companies to control everything you hear, read and see in your town, guess where the last bastion of freedom is in America? Yep, it's right here, on the Internet. You, dear reader, and me, and every other blogger out there.
Watch, in the next year there will be attempts, probably successful considering the enabling pussies that are the Democratic Party (or the weasley co-conspirators that are the Democratic Party - you decide), attempts to limit, legislate, and increase the liability of websites. Watch for civil lawsuits, pundit attacks and a fierce new wave of conservative blogging. I'm calling it - you'll see.

Oh, and might I add, Google isnt exactly slacking off in the media acquisition game, so it might be a good idea to have a new blog site ready and waiting somewhere, just in case.

props to Spiiderweb on the story
Props also to Truth In Our Time for the graphics.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

sunday dinner

Okay, I've been grazing in the kitchen before finally going to bed, and just have to share this recipe. It's for an amazing roast chicken, of the melt in your mouth variety. Of the you'll save the broth for something special variety. Of the it's too bad I choked to death eating it too fast because it was so delicious and now I wont be able to finish it variety. Really, it's that good. Normally I worry about overstating how good something is and setting my listener or reader up for disappointment, but not this time.

4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon white pepper 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 onions, quartered
2 (4 pound) whole chickens

1. In a small bowl, mix together salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Remove and discard giblets from chicken. Rinse chicken cavity, and pat dry with paper towel. Rub each chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Place 1 onion into the cavity of each chicken. Place chickens in a resealable bag or double wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 to 6 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C).
3. Place chickens in a roasting pan. Bake uncovered for 5 hours, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Let the chickens stand for 10 minutes before carving.

The recipe comes from, and there is a version for turkey somewhere there that was so good that our family actually ate the whole bird before it spoiled.

Friday, January 23, 2009

the Toyota game

The other day I was listening to some radio story about the auto industry, and I was thinking about Toyota and its dominance of the car market. Wondering just what the extent of the situation was, I decided to call out the name "Toyota" every time I saw one. Turns out there are a lot of Toyotas on the road here in Dallas. If you'd like to try it yourself, remember that a Lexus is a Toyota, as is a Scion (they are, in fact, sold as Toyotas in some parts of the world), as is the Pontiac Vibe and the Geo/Chevrolet Prism. To get a real feel for the market, try a different brand each day for a week on your commute. Do Fords one day (include Lincoln, Mercury and if your feel like it, Mazda). Then do GM (Chevy, Olds, Buick, Cadillac, Pontiac, Saturn and GMC). Chrysler includes Dodge, Plymouth and Jeep. Nissan includes Infinity. BMW includes Mini.
It may be safest if you play this game while you're a passenger, though.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

glad that's over

Well, now that we have a responsible person in the White House who actually seems to capable of leading the country in an adult manner and treating its citizens as if they matter, maybe I can get back to what's really important - sleeping!
Bush is gone! Things are good now, just that easily.Hooray! Time for rainbows and daffodils!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

quote for the next four to eight years

now that I look at it posted here, even I dont get the image... what was I thinking?

Almost anyone can stand adversity, but to test a person's character, give them power.

Abraham Lincoln, via John Wooden

Since Obama used the Bearded One's bible to take the oath of office, it seems appropriate to use a quote from him for the occassion.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

vote often. then vote some more.

Okay, here's another internet poll about what kind of a job Dubya's done as president. This one doesnt seem to have a anti-stuffing mechanism, so obviously the True Believers are stuffing the ballot because it currently showing 45% for horrible job and 42% for excellent job (a ballot seems to be cast about once every second, as far as I can tell). So, vote, and vote again, and then vote yet again, keep voting as long as you think Bush is a lousy son of a bitch, because the country deserves to not give that train wreck of a president any kind of credit, even if it's in a crappy, worthless, repeatable yahoo poll.
Addendum: Since yesterday when I posted this, the poll has actually shifted in favor of George Bush. There must be a few dozen wing-nuts furiously clicking to keep back the tide, because there is no fucking way that 43% of Americans think that "he's done an excellent job despite many challenges."

free at last!




In response to Pryme's comment to the above post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

a quote for Dubya, on his last day, as the PR machine spins on

Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

John Wooden

Friday, January 16, 2009

vote early, vote often

Okay, so, MSNBC's got this poll* where you get to grade Bush's presidency, from A to F. As of a minute ago, 13% gave Bush an "A", and 17% gave him a "B", which, to me anyway, adds up to a 30% approval rating. That's pretty bad, and it's worse than this poll, but there's no reason not to go there yourself and kick him as he goes out the door. Sure, as polls go, it's meaningless, but that's no reason not to answer it.

Do it, do it 'cause it feels good.

* props to Pryme

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I-pod update

I've been listening to my "New Songs For Testing" playlist, where I listen to stuff I've put into the I-pod recently in order to cull out the crap (I'm not sure, but I think I have more music than space, so culling is essential. In the New Stuff list, I delete it after I've listened to it (not right then, but later on in I-tunes). In this manner I more or less avoid the oh-god-why-do-this-thing-keep-playing-that-damned-song-everytime-I-restart-it syndrome. Here are 10 songs from last night, starting at a time picked at random by my daughter:

Rain Kings, Mad At The World
Billie Holiday, My Last Affair
Robert Johnson, Stop Breakin' Down Blues
Everclear, Now That It's Over
White Stripes, You've Got Her In Your Pocket
Hootie and the Blowfish, Drowning
Johnny Cash + Willie Nelson, Night Life
REO Speedwagon, Time For Me To Fly
The Band, Volcano
The Monkees, (Theme from) The Monkees

Dont have much to say about these songs, except that none of them got the boot.
dont even think about putting Celine Dion on my i-pod

batting .500 (or less)

So George Bush says, because his lawyers assured him that the torture he wanted to use was legal, it therefore is. My question here is this: has he never watched any courtroom dramas (or, perhaps, read a newspaper)? Because in nearly every one I've ever seen, there are at least two lawyers, and one of them turns out to be wrong. And how about those cases where a lone lawyer wins against a team?


Oh, man!
Patrick McGoohan is dead.

Skippy says it better than I, though.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

na na na, na na na...

HA! HA! It's a tag!
I love this image (courtesy, again, of Jurrasic Pork). I'd make myself a stencil and leave it sprayed on surfaces all over town, but while I'm geek enough to understand it, I'm straight enough to know that few others will.

near post experience

Yesterday, I was about to write a new post, when I decided to check my e-mail. There I found an letter from God*:
While your idea for Me to turn the entire Israeli-Palestine area into a huge cage match[**] has its appeal, you might as well save your breath (fingers) because it's not going to happen. Things would go a lot smoother for you all if you'd just learn to accept people the way they are, and to share a bit more.
So, okay, what the hell. I'll keep my further thoughts to myself, aside from this one:
Neither side is the good guy here, and the only way to win is to stop fighting, and I think I speak for most of the world when I say that what we'd all really like is for both of them to just go away.

* long-time readers will know that me and God, in the immortal words of Crocodile Dundee, we be mates.

** it wasnt really a cage match, I was just going to say that if I was God I would erect a wall around the area, let anyone out who wants out, let anyone in who wants in, and let them fight it out alone until they were finally done.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

scenario 2:
give up, or die?

Okay, imagine this:

One day, some neocon or neocon supporter, let's say Charles Krauthammer, since he has a funny name, was sitting in his living room, relaxing with a nice Anne Coulter book ("So beautiful", he thinks, "so Right."). Suddenly, a mob of Angry Liberals appears, surrounding his house. They are menacing, carrying torches, pitchforks and a socialist agenda.
Charles calls 911 (Ah! 911, sweet 911. Is there anything you cant do?). The police put him on hold for a while, then tell him they'll send a squad car as soon as they can. Charles pauses to mourn the day when calling 9-11 worked so well, but alas, it's time for another tax cut. After all, if they arent protecting him, why should he pay for their operating costs? He can afford private security.
Meanwhile, outside, the crowd is becoming ugly, calling for him to change his ways.
"Neocon thinking is intellectually bankrupt!" one yells, "Along with the country!"
Through the windows, Charles can see that the crowd is trampling his flowerbeds, sitting on his car, reading his newspaper and drinking from his water hose!
This will not do.
Being a good Republican, Charles goes to a closet and grabs a shotgun, opens the front door, and shouts, "This is my property, get out of my yard, and the Devil take your Liberalism!"

So, the scene goes on in this vein. As tensions increase, Charles throws a rock, then someone throws dog poop, pretty soon someone shoots a gun, someone shoots back, and firepower increases, largely on the crowd's side. Charles finds himself more and more besieged as the crowd yells for him to renounce neo-conservatism or get out of the neighborhood.
Slowly, Charles is forced deeper into his house, as the mob advances. His garage is destroyed, his potting shed and gazebo burned. Soon he is holed up in the utility room, in a small wing jutting from the south side of the house. Liberals occupy the rest of the house, sometimes smashing his things, sometimes using them for their own nefarious purposes.
Mostly they leave him alone, pelting his small room occasionally with dog poop, shooting at him desultorily with paintballs and shotguns, but generally settling for dishing out humiliation and keeping him "in his place". From time to time, he gets off a pot shot at the crowd, and while he isnt able to aim very well, he can tell he gets an occasional hit from the angry shouting of the crowd.
"Quit shooting at us, Charles!"
"Get out of my house, you Liberal scum-suckers!"
"Possession is nine-tenths of the law, Charles! Now behave or get out!"
"But it's my house!"
"Not any more, Charles."
After a few days, Charles is becoming very uncomfortable, and very angry. He has many small wounds, though none are going to kill him, but the indignity he is suffering, the unfairness of the mob, these things prey upon his mind, and he seethes. What right do these people have to storm his house?
"Admit your mistakes, Charles!" they shout.
"I made no mistakes, you leftist bastards!"
Sometimes they let through a delivery guy so that Charles doesnt starve, and sympathizers sometimes take advantage of this to smuggle Charles some sort of weaponry (imagine John Bolton in a tie-die T-shirt and Birkenstocks, posing as a pizza-guy and smuggling in some 20 gauge shells). Charles is trapped, but they mob stays in his house, confining him to this tiny room, shouting things like "give up Charles!" and "admit that we are all dependant on each other, Charles!"
"Never!" he screams, "The pursuit of self-interest is the only way to Greatness!" ("At least, for my greatness," he mutters.)
From time to time, the press comes, and Charles complains of the indignities he's been forced to suffer. The crowd, though, dismisses his complaints, telling the press, "He's a very bad man, you know, why are you taking what he says as true?"
As the days pass, Charles wonders, where are my friends? Sure, they send the odd bit of ammo, and Cheney said he's arranged for the chicken they've had delivered to the crowd to be tainted with botulism, but nobody's been willing to join him in this fight. The police seem powerless, many lament his situation, but no one will really help him.
He takes another potshot. A scream of pain, and the crowd roars in fury. Ahh, satisfaction. Never mind the barrage of return fire, or that it may be a couple of days before another carton of lo mein gets through. It was worth it to get a little of his own back.
this is a picture of the siege at Masada (for those of you who STILL dont get it)
Next time on Scenario:
The mob gets tired of waiting, and having decided that shooting at Charles wont make him change his mind, decide to try shooting at him a lot.

ADDENDUM: 1-15-09

Not a comment one on this post. So either it sucked, no one got the "joke", or it was just simply too long. Feh.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

na na na...

Props to Jurassic Pork


You know, if I was God, here's what I'd do about the mess in Gaza.
I'd just take them all, the Palestinians and my "Chosen" folk, and disappear them from the planet. Not only them, but all their stuff, too. Their roads, their buildings, their crops, all their possessions, including their weaponry, leaving behind a pristine wilderness where they once feuded.
Then I'd dump each group (and their stuff) on a planet of their own, stocked with plenty of fruit trees, game, and a generous supply of seed for various grains. From that point, they're on their own, and good riddance to them.

Which group would adjust quickest, do you suppose?

And which group would be better off in, say, 200 years?

And how long would it take for some developer to try and build something on the land that God Himself apparently empty out?

This kind of idea is why I'm not God, of course.

Friday, January 09, 2009

winter photo-fest no. 2

birthday boy

I used to get this kids magazine called Children's Digest, where my three favorite things were the spoonerisms, riddles and Tintin. Tomorrow is Tintin's 80th birthday, which is a long time to keep the same haircut. Oh, and apparently, he's gay.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

pop quiz


Q: The next day after a hard and productive day of work, which comment are you most likely to hear from your boss?
a) "Great job you did there!"
b) "I noticed when I came in this morning that your area is kind of a mess. Clean that up, will you?"
c) none.
For me, the usual answer is "c". I never get "a" because that would lead to awkward questions come raise-time when they tell you how inadequate an employee you are and that's why you only get a 2% pay increase. I also get "b" a lot.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

home, sour home

According to a recent poll of some sort, Dallas ranks ninth on a list of places people do not want to move to. It doesnt rank at all on the list of places people do want to move to. I say this second thing because New York City ranks number one on both.

For me, the most interesting numbers were the ones showing median income, and median home values. For Dallas, the median income was about one third the median housing price. For NYC, the median home price was twelve times the median income! Now, I ♥ NY, but, seriously, how can anyone afford to live there? On the other hand, I can afford to live in Dallas (sort of), but I dont want to, so maybe that's not a good yardstick.

Monday, January 05, 2009

fad or future?

Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist pelted U.S. President George W. Bush with a pair of brogues in Baghdad last month.
My question is this: will it last? Because as a form of protest it strikes me as both hilarious and harmless. And we could all use a bit more of that, couldnt we?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

your new Doctor

This is some guy I've never heard of named Matt Smith. But the interview looks promising, I can see him being the Doctor.

Not a fan??? What's the matter with you? Dr. Who is a classic, one of the longest running TV shows ever, it's a touchstone for the entire country of England. What's not to love?
I'm sorry, I have to stop speaking to you now.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

a suggestion

So in response to the Israeli ground attack on Gaza, Hamas sent the following message: "Be prepared for a unique surprise, you will be either killed or kidnapped and will suffer mental illness from the horrors we will show you." I know that this will mean the inevitable, unimaginative and largely useless torture, but what if they did something different, what if captured soldiers were instead held in the hospital, watching as doctors operate on women and especially children injured and maimed by missiles and artillery, or caught in the crossfire? And hey, why restrict this to Israeli soldiers, let's extend this to both sides. After all, if killing people is what you desire, then you should see the results of your work, the better to critique yourself and your leadership.

I am so sick of this stupid stupid stupid bullshit.

Dave's 2008 booklist

Well, here it is, this year's list of all the books I read last year. As usual, the best ones are links, also, sometimes by book, sometimes by author.

Abdel-Fattah, Randa - Does My Head Look Big In This?
Aston, Elizabeth - The Darcy Connection
Austen, Jane - Persuasion
Baxter, Stephen - Vacuum Diagrams
Beaumont, Maria - 37
Belmond, C. A. - A Rather Lovely Inheritance
Berger, Thomas - Little Big Man
Bonasia, Lynn Kiele - Some Assembly Required
Bruen, Ken - Ammunition
Bunch, Chris - The Dog From Hell
Cambell, Alan - Iron Angel
Cambell, Alan - Scar Night
Carroll, Leslie - Choosing Sophie
Chiang, Doug + Card, Orson Scott - Robota
Cherryh, C. J. - Merchanter's Luck
Cohen, Tish - Town House
Coomer, Joe - A Pocketful of Names
Coupland, Douglas - Microserfs
Coupland, Douglas - The Gum Thief
Crane, Caprice - Forget About It
Crane, Caprice - Stupid and Contageous
Crusie, Jennifer + Mayer, Bob - Agnes and the Hitman
Elliott, Kate - Shadow Gate
Elliott, Kate - Spirit Gate
Gaiman, Neil - Anansi Boys
Galant, Debra - Fear and Yoga In New Jersey
Gedank, Danielle - Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him
Gerrold, David - The Man Who Folded Himself
Green, Simon R. - The Man With The Golden Torque
Haldeman, Joe - Old Twentieth
Haldeman, Joe - The Coming
Harris, Charlaine - Dead Until Dark
Helprin, Mark Freddy and Fredericka
Hine, Thomas - The Great Funk (NF)
Hodgell, P. C. - Dark of the Moon
Hodgell, P. C. - God Stalk
Hodgell, P. C. - Seeker's Mask
Hodgell, P. C. - To Ride a Rathorn
Hogan, James P. - Mission To Minerva
Hudler, Ad - All This Belongs To Me
Hudler, Ad - Southern Living
Jacobson, Howard - The Making of Henry
Jaffarian, Sue Ann - Curse of the Holy Pail
Jewell, Lisa - A Friend of the Family
Jewell, Lisa - One Hit Wonder
Jewell, Lisa - Ralph's Party
Jewell, Lisa - Roommates Wanted
Jewell, Lisa - Thirty-Nothing
Kinsella, Sophie - Remember Me?
Lehrer, Jim - Eureka
Lipman, Elinor - My Latest Grievance
Lutz, Lisa - Curse of the Spellmans
Lynn, Elizabeth A. - The Sardonyx Net
Marko, Merrill - Walking In Circles Before Lying Down
Martinez, A. Lee - The Automatic Detective
Mayle, Peter - A Good Year
Mayle, Peter - Chasing Cezanne
Mayle, Peter - Hotel Pastis
McCaffery, Anne - Dragonsinger
McCaffery, Anne - Dragonsong
McCall Smith, Alexander - Love Over Scotland
McDonald, Sandra - The Stars Down Under
Melko, Paul - Singularity's Ring
Merullo, Ronald - Breakfast With Buddha
Murdock, Catherine Gilbert - The Off Season
Nix, Garth - Superior Saturday
Park, Ed - Personal Days
Phillips, Marie - Gods Behaving Badly
Pratchett, Terry - Feet of Clay
Pratchett, Terry - Hogfather
Pratchett, Terry - Men At Arms
Pressfield, Steven - The Legend of Bagger Vance
Pretor-Pinney, Gavin - The Cloudspotters's Guide (NF)
Repcheck, Jack - Copernicus' Secret (NF)
Russo, Richard Paul - The Rosetta Codex
Sawyer, Robert J. - Flash Forward
Siegal, Nina - A Little Trouble With the Facts
Sterling, Bruce - Islands In The Net
Thompson, Kate - The New Policeman
Van Name, Mark L. - One Jump Ahead
Wallen, Amy - Moon Pies and Movie Stars
Williams, Sean - Saturn Returns
Willis, Connie - To Say Nothing of The Dog

As you can see, I didnt read much non-fiction this year [noted by a (NF)], or perhaps it would be better to say that I didnt finish much non-fiction this year. A few things not linked above include Lisa Lutz's book, which was good but you really need to read The Spellman Files first. Same for the Gaiman book, which was a sequal to American Gods. Both were terrific books, but both need another book to be read before you can fully enjoy them. Also, while the Kate Elliot books were good, I never should have read them because she's left series unfinished before, and I do not want to be left high and dry. Finally, the P. C. Hodgell books are great fun, but she's had a lot of trouble with publishers over the years (partially due to her own infrequent turnout), so give her (or her publisher) the financial encouragement they need to keep her books coming.

Previous Lists: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

Friday, January 02, 2009

alright people, break-time's over!

Whew, arent you glad the holiday season is over, so that we can get back to what's really important - Watching the United States sink into third-world status. To help with that idea here's something to get you in the proper, poverty-stricken state of mind: Silent Star Wars!

via Gerry Canavan

Thursday, January 01, 2009

welcome to 2009

funny how perspective makes these into the arms of the drowning, reaching for help

Well, it's a new year, finally. Last night at midnight at midnight my wife and I toasted in 2009 not with champagne, but with with a shot of Jack Daniels. It seemed appropriate. Let's hope that this year is better than last year, which wont be hard.

As for the image at right, it wasnt, was it? Aside from not sending many Republicans back to Washington, by a margine that should have been bigger and which will no doubt prove to be less than satisfying in the end.

feudin', fussin', fightin'

First, a note to the stupid: Criticizing Israel is not supporting terrorism any more than eating hummus is. People who say that they are the same should be airdropped into the middle of Baghdad so they can get a handle on what terror actually is.

Okay, I'm of two minds regarding the situation in Palestine right now.

1) I realize that the Jews were busy during WWII, what with the Holocaust and all, but they've had over sixty years since then to read the bit where Germany tried to break the will of the British People with a massive bombing campaign, and failed. And dont try to tell me that Germany was defeated by bombing. The Allied bombing of German cities was just icing on the loser cake that the Nazis were eating on two fronts. It may have "sped up" the end, but it may also have been a war crime (see the fire bombing of Dresden). Bombing doesnt win wars, it punishes civilians. It is not fighting, but vengeance.

2) I believe the standard retaliation for conquering forces is one in ten, so the problem Israel has is that they arent being brutal enough. I mean, true conquerors want the defeated to cower in fear whenever they walk past, and the Israelis dont seem to be able to commit to that level. It's the same problem America always has - no will to crush your enemy into the mud, then to shit on their heads so they'll know who are the victors, and who are the scum beneath the victor's feet. After all, since when has mercy towards your defeated enemies ever led to anything good?
The best thing about the 1-in-10 method? You can't be accused of committing genocide, because there is always ninety per cent of the population left over after you're done.

So, having stated both the obvious and the ludicrous, I feel like I ought to present a third idea (because, after all, if there's anything that gets us all in trouble, it's acting as if there are only two answers to any question, and that only one of those is the "right" one). Here's the third idea:
3) When one has decided to have themselves a war, one needs to do it with soldiers, not impersonal long-distance weapons. Yes, those weapons save soldiers lives, but they also take the lives of innocent civilians, and if you see war as being merely some kind accounting game where you win if you loose fewer of your people and the enemy loses more of theirs, then you need to not be in charge of anything having to do with people ever again. If Israel has a problem with people firing rockets at them, then they need to send soldiers over to go house to house, find the rocket operators, then kill them. To simply sit far away and send powerful, sophisticated missiles out and indiscriminately* kill "the enemy" at a ratio of 50 or 100 to 1 is not only cowardly but also immoral and criminal. Soldiers die and kill, that is their function. To pretend otherwise is lie to yourself, and if you lead a nation, to lie to your People. If you dont want soldiers to die, dont start a war. If you started a war, and your soldiers are not dying (or are dying in far fewer numbers than your enemy), then you can bet that the war you started is utterly immoral.
Good Wars may exist, but they are never started by the side with the overwhelming advantage.

* I dont care how "guided" a missile may be; if it kills anyone but the intended person it was fired at, it is indiscriminate.


Okay, so, the above was something I was working on yesterday (in terms of me writing this, not you reading it), and you know what, fuck all that. You want to know who's responsible for the Israelis killing all these Palestinians?
The United States of America, that's who.
Remember back in school, there was probably some kid who was always pulling some sort of shit, who had parents who couldnt, wouldnt, believe that their little angel was causing trouble? You probably hated that kid, didnt you? My wife is a teacher, and encounters at least one or two of those kids a year. She doesnt hate the kid, though, nearly as much as she hates the parents, because she knows who's responsible for that kids behaviour.
That "kid" is Israel; and that "parent" is us.

As long as Israel keeps the Palestinians corralled in their ghetto, restricts the flow of even staples to a trickle, then shoots at them like the fishes-in-a-barrel that they are, then Israel will continue to be one of the Bad Guys in this stupid, endless Hatfield and McCoy soap opera.
Would you like me to say that the Palestinians are Bad Guys, too? Okay, the Palestinians are bad guys, too. The excesses of the Israelis do not change the crimes of the Palestinians, but neither do the crimes of the Palestinians excuse the excesses* of the Israelis.

How about we look at it this way: One day, a bunch of new kids show up at school, and basically take over your hang-out in the school yard. Your friends ignore your plight, for the most part, and even when one of them tries to help (through violence, unfortunately), the new gang kicks their asses pretty soundly. Watching over all this is a principle who's obviously biased in favor of the new kids, and who's decided that you are a trouble-maker. Slowly the new gang make your life more and more miserable, until you find yourself unable to go to the local hangouts, and even getting into the school building is an ordeal (usually involving the loss of lunch money).
So, what do you do? Suffer nobly, hoping that one day it will all end? Curl up and die? Fight Back? If the answer is "fight back", you're going to get your ass kicked pretty soundly if you do so in a straightforward manner, arent you; so you have to come up with something sneaky, something underhanded, and probably, something considered "unfair" by the gang and their supporting Authority; is that what you choose? Are there any good choices here?

Not for Palestine, that's for sure. The Israelis arent going to back down either, at least as long as they've got those slippery-slope thought processes going on that interpret any sign of letting up on the Palestinians as the path to their immediate destruction.

America, on the other hand, has some very good choices that we simply choose not to take. Like not ignoring thier bad behavior. Or like not selling Israel any more missiles until they learn not to shoot them at people outside their country. Or like telling Israel we wont be supporting them anymore until they really try to negotiate in good faith, including the dismantling of all those illegal settlements in Palestinian territory (or better yet, getting the settlers out and leaving the settlements intact for the Palestinians - as a exchange for some of the areas they've lost, perhaps); while at the same time warning any nations who might see a "unsupported" Israel as vulnerable that while we dont like what Israel is doing, and will no longer help her, we will not tolerate any funny business towards her either.

Honestly, if the Israelis and the Palestinians want to duke it out, I dont really care. People who want to kill each other should be allowed to, so that the rest of us get on with our lives without their annoying presence. But the United States has no business taking sides, especially when taking sides comes in the form of providing overwhelming firepower and a turning of a blind eye to its use. At that point, we become a member of that extended family of hillbilly inbreds.
Which family? Does it matter, really?

* I would have prefered to use the word "crimes" here, too, but "excesses" scans better and is just as accurate.

Addendum: Unsurprisingly, someone says it better than me, this time Steel Phoenix in a comment at the Osterly Times:
...the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents. If Israel weren't recognized as a nation, Its acts would be those of terrorism. Israel doesn't recognize Palestine's right to exist, therefore, Any military action taken by Palestinians falls under the international legal definition of terrorism. Israel uses this to their advantage in ways they couldn't against another sovereign nation, which is the real reason any peace talks inevitably come to a screeching halt with each side demanding recognition as a nation.
Israel should be held accountable for every innocent death. That is what it is supposed to mean when you decide civilian losses are acceptable; that the situation is so dire that you will accept all repercussions and try to make amends, not to claim that it was Ok because there were probably terrorists in the area. The Palestinians on the other hand should be treated as individuals, since the acts are not those of a nation's military. Until we close Israel's loopholes we will see no proportionality.