Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guess the Missing Letter with Glenn Beck!

Oh, but you'll be wrong. Grievously wrong.

Andrew Sullivan posted this without comment, and I don't know what else I can add beyond an only slightly more incoherent than whatever the fuck that just was whaaaaa?

Jam-Packed Saturday Extravaganza

Unfortunately, it is packed with panic-button archaeology writing (journal article due Tuesday; why did I agree to do this, again?) interspersed with grocery shopping and, hopefully, some zoning out in front of an EPL game or two. I do not know why Arsenal's diving exhibition against Celtic this week pissed me off so much, but I firmly despise the Arsenal now. Just play football, boys, and leave the dramatics and triple flips with a half-twist to the thespians and Olympians.

This will leave precious little time for blogging. Maybe if I pretend the journal article is just another ten-page blog post with lots of photos, it will go quicker. I'm sure it will read just fine and it will be very easy for me to not say fuck fuck fuck every other sentence.

Science, onward!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today in Weird Sonoran Desert Biology

Conjoined rattlesnakes! Complete with mildly disturbing video!

The snakes will be surgically separated despite Mother Nature's clear intent to keep them superglued together at the head, since they apparently can't exactly agree on which direction to slither or what to bite, and will be live out their days in luxury at the Desert Museum in Tucson. Where they will never have to share snacks again. Stop by and say hi, hi when you get the chance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Giving Credit Where Due

John McCain surely knows the bed he made, and I have to give him props for lying in from time to time.

Keep making me proud to live in Arizona, elderly Arizonans! By which, of course, I mean the exact opposite of "proud." I do wish McCain had asked the lady which part of the Constitution the president getting by with all this money refers to, but, possibly wishing to avoid another SNL Crazy McCain Campaign Lady, he pretended not to hear that part of the question and dove straight into the meaty issue of whether President Obama remembers that the Constitution exists. And the seniors in Sun City didn't disappoint, booing lustily each time McCain alluded to Obama retaining his mental faculties and even being a sincere man.

How hard was John McCain gritting his teeth through this? Probably hard enough to be glad he has a good dental plan. If only someone had asked him about Obama's foreskin, the afternoon would have been complete.

Literally the Most Important Post Ever.

Thank you to the intrepid blogger behind this. Because it's very hard not to literally tear the throats out of people who say "literally" when they mean "totally" because they think "literally" sounds more erudite.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Caution: Archaeologist at Work

I knew all this blogging would come in handy for work someday. I am writing a journal article about some extensive collections a guy made west of Phoenix in the 1940s when he noticed that several large Hohokam sites were going to be damaged by irrigation and hydroelectric (I think) work along the Gila River. Almost all of the stuff--buckets and bucket and buckets of stuff, mind-boggling in both sheer numbers and the superhuman quality of workmanship--is from mortuary contexts, cremations to be exact, and while a few people have dipped into the collection over the years to write dissertations and master's theses, it's never been comprehensively presented to the public.

So that's my job, at least for the arrowheads, and until this afternoon I had no real idea what to say beyond holy shit will you look at all these amazing things. A lot of the arrow points that were included as offerings in various cremations are stunningly well made, on the order of 10 cm long and yet no more than 2 or 3 millimeters thick, but there's an equal number of offertory points that were clearly intended to be of the same design as the big showpieces, but whose workmanship falls far short. Even accounting for the warping and twisting incurred in the intense heat of the crematory fire, they are asymmetrical, unevenly serrated, thick in the middle. Why? What social mechanism was at work here?

I don't know for sure. Nobody does. But! This afternoon, as I was thinking about mortuary rituals and grave furnishings, I remembered the field trip I took last summer to a tiny cemetery in the limestone country of southwestern Indiana, which I wrote about here. These completely unrelated cultural settings provide my favorite kinds of analogies, the sorts of parallels I best like to draw between in attempting to understand the human forces behind the extinct technology I study for a living because the initial apparent absurdity strips somehow strips away the superfluous and lays intrinsic processes bare (ask me sometime about 17th-century European gunflint industries and arrowhead manufacture in the US Southwest circa A.D. 900). Cultural parallels between central Arizona in the year 1000 and southwestern Indiana in the year 1880 are pretty much nonexistent, but in both places and times people had to deal with the deaths of friends and family, and had to send them off with the requisite ritual and grave furnishings.

The dead needed certain things, and then as now the survivors were constrained somewhat by their ability to pay for the really good stuff, the highly visible status items. In Gila Bend, they wanted chalcedony arrowpoints with long, serrated blades, side notches, square shoulders, and deep basal concavities. In Needmore, they wanted a limestone grave marker inscribed with a name and dates, ideally with a bit of scripture and a decorative motif. Those who had the resources to acquire these things from a master craftsman got the long thin arrowheads, the headstones inscribed with a lengthy bible verse and topped with intricate scrolls, ferns, and flowers. Those who didn't were left to make their own uneven points with mismatched serrations and awkward humps, left to scratch names into unadorned slabs with an unsteady hand, letters backwards and dates squeezed together, scrollwork passed over in favor of a stick-figure sun.

Or maybe not. It makes a good story, though, the thread of common humanity weaving possibilities across hundreds of miles and years.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WPS Championship

The first ever WPS championship game is in the books, with the massive underdog Sky Blue FC taking down the mighty LA Sol, 1-0. The playoff system--which rewarded regular-season champ LA with a free pass into the finals--could not have tipped the table any further in the Sol's direction without spotting them a 2-0 advantage, but in the end the two-week layoff appears to have bitten them in the ass. Fresh legs were no match for the groove SBFC got themselves into by virtue of two road games on the road against higher-seeded teams in the previous seven days.

The goal came with the teams at even strength, and after that the miracle happened. No, not the straight red to Sol defender Allison Falk, but Jenn Hildreth's completely unprecedented moment of clarity and coherence in explaining the call. SBFC's Tash Kai was heading to goal with a head of steam and the ball at her feet and no intervening defenders, and Falk put her on the ground with at least a forearm to the upper back, if not an elbow to the back of the head, and it all combined to be a no-brainer for referee Kari Seitz. In the booth, Mark Rogondino tried to wax wistful about all the players coming out hoping they'd be the one to make the difference in the game, and here Kari Seitz goes and makes herself the difference in the game... and just as I had the remote cocked behind my head ready to sail through the screen, Hildreth reminded him that Seitz called what she saw, and that what she saw was what the replay showed, and that was no one's fault but Allison Falk's.

I may have passed out from shock at that point, but recovered to watch the rest of the game. Marta showed a few flashes, but without a full midfield behind her to feed cherry-picking through balls, she wasn't the impact player you might have expected in this match. Shannon Boxx actually created a few more chances for LA than Marta did, and surely worked harder tracking back on defense.

And, in the best news of all, the league managed not to fold yet and will be back next year, possibly with Germans. My Red Stars scarf will be waiting patiently, and, uh, don't tell anyone, but I can't help being really really intrigued by the Breakers and what next season may bring for them if Kelly Smith can stay healthy.

Oh, I almost forgot. Suck it, Marta! You lose again!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dinner for the Morose

Some very important food blogs found while puttering around the various Top Chef recaps from last night:

Fancy Fast Food offers step-by-step directions (with pictures!) for remastering fast food standbys into classic cuisine standbys, more or less.

Le Chicken McConfit (Fancy Chicken McNuggets) by Erik of Fancy Fast Food (as seen on Citysearch’s The Feedbag) Ingredients:  1 ten-piece order of Chicken McNuggets 1 large French fries 1 medium Coke 1 Fruit & Walnut Salad 1 Barbecue sauce 1 Hot Mustard sauce 1 Sweet ‘N Sour sauce 2 bottles of water organic chives (for garnish and a touch of irony)  By definition, a confit is prepared when a meat is slow-cooked in its own fat.  For this Fancy Fast Food recipe, we will consider the fattiest part of the McNugget to be its breading.  So after sorting out your ingredients, skin the McNuggets with a knife until you have a pile of McNugget skins.  Put the McSkins in a food processor with about half a bottle of water, and blend it down to a fatty-looking mush.  Pour the McMush into a non-stick skillet, add some more water, and bring it to a boil.  Once it is bubbling, simmer it down and place the McNugget meat in the skillet.  Cover and let it stew for 15-20 minutes.Meanwhile, clean out your food processor and then add the fries.  Blend it down, adding water as needed, until it all becomes a soft potato purée.  Then take some apple pieces from the Fruit & Walnut Salad and slice them into thinner slices with a knife.  By the time you’re done with that, the McConfit should be ready. Take the McMeat morsels and let them cool. Finally, mix the three sauces in a measuring cup and stir until it has a consistent color.Now, the assembly: put the potato purée in the center of a fancy white plate, then top it with a layer of apple slices.  Butterfly cut your McNuggets-turned-McConfit pieces and then place them on top of the apple slices.  Drizzle the sauce around the plate, and then garnish with some chopped walnuts.  Top it off with some slices of organic chives, and serve your soft drink in a wine glass.  It’s McNifique! Video demonstration from The Feedbag’s vimeo channel:       If you are viewing this recipe in an aggregator (like tumblr’s Dashboard), or as a reblogged post, please check out the real website at
Le Chicken McConfit, anyone?

Also, Insanewiches for inspiring photos but, regrettably, no recipes.

cubewichSolve it, eat it, whatever.

Top Chef notes from BoltLand are limited for the moment to (1) "a hot temper" and "procrastination" may be character flaws, but they are not vices; (2) all those chefs went with "heavy drinking" as their vice of choice to build a dish around since "black tar heroin" probably doesn't really bring out the flavor of scallops so well; (3) Michael I. apparently is confused and thinks he's in Gordon Ramsay's stable of douchetastically misogynistic contestants over at Hell's Kitchen rather than on Top Chef; (4) bacon doughnuts; and (5) BACON FUCKING DOUGHNUTS. WITH BEER CHOCOLATE SAUCE.

Note on Top Chef Masters, which finished up last night: please please please do this again next summer, Bravo. You don't even have to make it a competition--it was hugely satisfying to watch a group of very talented chefs get together every week and (with the exception of Michael Chiarello toward the end, and that Ludo guy) so clearly enjoy each others' company as they cooked and shared their experience with unfailing humor and grace. Just call it Top Chef Masters Cook and Drink and Shoot the Shit and I will watch that every week, maybe twice.


Now the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light... And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so.

Creationism? Not a chance. Theism of any stripe, let alone religion? Piffle. I don't believe in those things, but I include these particular Bibley bits here because little else illustrates the power of the spoken word so evocatively, and that is something I do believe in quite fervently. Verbalizing makes the intangible tangible, crystallizing concept and possibility and potential into reality with a speed that is both awesome and unsettling.

As a writer, I am eminently more comfortable churning out words in their printed form than speaking them aloud, particularly in front of groups of people. Words made material by print are securely tethered to the screen or page by pixel or ink, made harmless and theoretical by their physical status, while words pulled by breath across vocal cords are unleashed precisely by their ethereal nature and made concrete.

The incongruity is not lost on me.

It is why I can construct elaborate and perfectly rational frameworks in my head that allow me to decide that my grandfather--still quite alive, if facing an uncertain amount of time before the inevitable comes-- is probably approaching the end credits calmly and with the pragmatic mindset that saw him through the war and business ups and downs and the loss of one of his children, and not skip a beat. And it is why, when my girlfriend calls me to ask how he's doing and I speak the phrase "congestive heart failure" aloud, the words yank the breath they rode on clean out of me and push my head down to the desk and prevent any more words and any more breath from going in or out for long, long moments.

This is why I don't talk much. Material words can be wrangled. Spoken words have far too much life and intractability.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I suppose it could have been much, much worse, but the birthday balance sheet teetered a tad more to the crap side of things than I would have preferred. My aging grandfather wound up in the hospital yesterday after what was supposed to be a fairly routine artery-stenting procedure revealed that his femoral arteries have completely shut down and his kidneys aren't far behind, a condition that would have been prevented had his totally swamped old-people doctor in Mesa bothered to check the pulses in his legs a couple of years ago.

I mean, for fuck's sake, the vet checks my dog's femoral pulses every time I take her in for a checkup; would this not seem to be a fairly obvious first thing to poke at on an old dude who has chronic intense leg pain and, oh, a couple siblings who have lost limbs to poor circulation?

There might be a metaphor for socialized medicine in here someplace, but probably not. He got in to see doctors without any trouble, and everything was covered through some combination of Medicare, the VA, and private insurance. But it wasn't until he left the giant senior citizen metropolis that is Mesa for the summer and called a different doctor in tiny tiny Pagosa Springs, Colorado, that the lightbulb went on next to the simplest possibility on the list. And now, despite having a mind that is still razor sharp despite pushing ninety, it would appear that his body's trashed.


Oh, and speaking of the dog, who is also aging poorly, the new med that is intended to flush excess ammonia from her system works really well. Unfortunately, it works so well that she flushed said system by shitting up and down the hall in the middle of the night. The poo trail suggests that she tried to make it to the door, but failed rather spectacularly. Happy birthday, Boltgirl!

On the plus side, I did enjoy a lovely dinner courtesy of one of the kids, good company courtesy of the whole family and a family friend, had ice cream out the wazoo, and managed to win at cards for the first time in forever. Nothing caught on fire and nobody died (not yet, anyway), so we'll call it a wash and hope for less excitement next year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One More Thing

Happy birthday to me. I am old!


Last week, former Arizonan William Costric caused a bit of a stir when he showed up to a presidential town hall in New Hampshire with a large-caliber handgun in a thigh holster. Not to be outdone by that pussy-ass shit, a current Arizonan showed up to Obama's confab in Phoenix yesterday with an AR-15 strapped to his back.

A man is shown legally carrying a rifle at a protest against President Obama on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona.
You want dick-waggling? I will give you dick-waggling.

What? I'm just exercising my constitutional right to bear arms. I always carry my assault rifle on my back when I go for a stroll around the neighborhood. Oh, the president's here? I had no idea.

In fairness, this guy wasn't the only openly armed protester strutting and posturing for the cameras; about a dozen of his fellow douchewaffles joined him in milling around with guns on display, batting their eyelashes innocently and wondering what the kerfuffle was about. And, in fairness, since they weren't encroaching on federalized space, Arizona law allows them to be armed to the teeth as long as all the weapons are in plain sight, and these guys were apparently purely interested in the photo op and out-dicking New Hampshire (link courtesy of a commenter at Pam's House Blend).

We were there AGAINST gov't take-over of healthcare,...but also to uphold standards. Arizona simply MUST keep it's place first amongst all others as the "Gun Guy State".

They even let the cops know ahead of time that they were coming, which is a lovely touch.

None of which diminishes the asshole quotient of this display one shred.

Last week it was one guy with a handgun. This week it was twelve guys with guns including one assault rifle. The protests haven't been particularly internally contentious, as far as I can tell, but as more people are emboldened to show up with more and more firepower on display, it isn't much of a stretch to suspect that sooner or later, one of these asshats will get pissed enough at a counterprotester to unholster his sidearm, you know, just to make a point or try to intimidate somebody, and, well, since as William Costric said, who'd be silly enough to carry an unloaded gun, really unfortunate mistakes will be made.

You think Obama's going to steal all your guns, and you're a self-styled uber-patriot. We got it. Leave your gat at home next time, yo.

All You Need to Know

"The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health-care reform," Obama said on Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo. "This is just one sliver of it."

Bucking a bearish Monday trend in the broader stock market, shares of health-insurance companies including UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Aetna Inc. rose after the comments by Obama as well as members of his administration over the weekend. Health insurers have fought a public plan.

Uh huh.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Meet the Press

Oh, Rachel. You're going to need a gallon bag of single-malt on a centerline drip after this lovely roundtable this morning. I'm only about ten minutes in on the DVR and already scrambling to get a screengrab of Maddow's perfect BISH PLS look while Tom Coburn claimed that all the Nazi references, Hitler references, and calls for Obama's death are a perfectly understandable reaction by people who are afraid that they've lost control of their government. Oh, here you go:

She's doing her best with Coburn and Dick Armey, but jello is damn hard to pin to the wall no matter how many nails you have. Ah, but she slaps the Blue Dogs for ceding their majority to fearmongers like Chuck Grassley, and calls out the president for not reining them in. Oh, now Armey says the health stuff is the most hostile government takeover in history. Rachel is sitting next to him trying really hard not to snicker.

Coburn: life expectancy isn't a good indicator of healthcare quality. Medicaid is failing us in terms of neonatal mortality! Rachel comes out of her seat but Coburn shushes her--apparently he can talk without interruption, but she can't--leaving it to Tom Daschle to point out that we currently rank 19th out of 19 industrialized nations in that arena. I was not aware that Medicaid was responsible for all the neonatal mortality in this country. All the dead newborns are Medicaid babies? Because that's the only way that statement makes sense.

And I have now learned from Dick Armey that the best way to handle a question I don't really have a good answer to is to start talking about something else, while leaning forward over the table, waving my finger, and smiling disingenuously. Oh, and talking over anyone who's trying to clarify something I just said. And, finally, Medicare=tyranny! Rachel gives up and just starts laughing.

And I give up and need to eat breakfast before re-watching this and trying to understand it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just This One

Unfortunately, I could probably limit the blog to covering only right-wing hyperbole re: the black guy in the White House healthcare reform and not run out of material any time soon. Not wishing to spend the rest of forever under a totally dark cloud of depression, I'll just point you to this:

An unnamed Hagerstown resident realizes Sasha and Malia are to blame
for the government attempting to get its grubby hands on his Medicare.

If your Jesus-approved purely capitalist healthcare system has failed to provide you with regular vision checkups and the bottom of the sign is a little fuzzy, it reads "Death to Obama - Michelle & 2 stupid kids." It's entirely possible, of course, that I'm misreading this and the sign actually reads "DEATH to Obama - [signed] Michelle & 2 stupid kids," and the gentleman found it stuffed in the Hagerstown dumpster where Michelle and the girls ditched it after deciding going public with the latest family feud over Dad sneaking Kools on the back porch wouldn't be the best idea, but that just somehow doesn't feel like the right interpretation here.

"Death to Obama." And to his wife. And to his daughters.

Death to Obama's children.

And the pot simmers a little hotter day by day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

But of Course

I'm a little slow on the uptake today, so it took me this long to realize that doucherocket William "time to refresh the tree of Liberty with the blood of patriots and tyrants" Kostric, who showed up at Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire yesterday with a giant penis handgun strapped to his leg in a bitchin' Han Solo-style holster and a poster in his hand printed with an only thinly veiled threat against Obama, isn't really a New Hampsherite after all. No, he's from Arizona. Of course.

And he hearts Ron Paul and hates taxes and Social Security and President Wilson but really likes Randy Wilson--well, who among us wouldn't list a white supremacist who survived the Ruby Ridge shootout as one of our heroes on a public website, am I right, ladies?--and lurves that Second Amendment and always straps his piece on when he goes out of doors like everyone else in New Hampshire, unlike his sissy socialist new neighbors next door in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

Scottsdale, AZ apparently wasn't right-wing enough for him. And as an Arizona resident, that's a scary thought. Of course, somebody wasn't paying attention at Gaby Giffords' townhall in Douglas last week and let his gun fall clean out of his pocket, which is arguably more Wild Wild West than Mr. Kostric's securely-snapped-in-a-holster-but-still-dickish posturing, although it bespeaks maybe a little less competence with firearms, which now has me wondering if that makes me feel better or worse about Arizona.

Anyway. Kostric strikes me as little more than the malevolent little weasel kid on the playground who was always waving the biggest stick he could find just far enough away from your face for him to be able to say innocently what, I'm not doing anything to you, I'm just holding this stick, I'm not touching you I'm not touching you I'm not touching you until an adult happened to notice what he was doing. And the problem is that that kind of behavior exactly epitomizes the healthcare screamers, but now they're showing up with guns instead of sticks, and no adults are around to tell them to put those goddamn things away before someone gets hurt.

Mr. Kostric, you aren't just innocently exercising your Constitutional right to bear arms and your home new state's laws on open carrying, nor your Constitutional right to free speech. You're posturing. You're trying to intimidate. You're quite possibly trying to provoke a confrontation so you can be the new poster boy of the right wing, now that the shine's worn off of Joe the Fucking Plumber and even most of your ilk are starting to see through the carnival sideshow that is Sarah Palin. It's transparent. It's pathetic.

Unfortunately, it's also likely to be pretty fucking successful, if the sidewalk outside your local Planned Parenthood for, oh, say, the last forty years or so is any indication. The right wing's tactics of intimidation and provocation have gone unchallenged enough there to allow them to keep coming back weekend after weekend, egged on by eliminationist rhetoric from their favorite commentators. We know how that ended for George Tiller. Now William Kostric has shown up outside a facility where the president was scheduled to speak, waving a poster with an incendiary message lauding political assassination, with a loaded gun strapped to his leg, and the only sanction he's suffered so far has been getting lectured by Chris Matthews on TV.

Secret Service? Your table is ready.

The Only Remaining Question
Douche of the Day, waiting for Obama in New Hampshire

So did the dick-waggling happen before or after this shot?

Wait, I guess I have a second question after all: how do I make the eye-roll emoticon, again?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Why Does Sarah Palin Hate the American Soldier?

The last time I noticed Moosepants Barbie holding forth in public, she was chastising The Media. Sing along; you know the words by now.
So how about in honor of the American soldier, ya quit makin' things up?

Because that is a job that, apparently, is Sarah Palin's and Sarah Palin's alone. Sarah Palin also wants you to leave her kids alone, and the new Alaska governor's kids alone, because no one trots out Sarah Palin's kids as cheap political props except Sarah Palin. Particularly when she's busy makin' things up that are so brazenly untrue and fear-mongering that even our jaded jaw dropped through the floor this morning upon reading her very thoughtful thoughts on healthcare reform:

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care," the former Republican vice presidential candidate wrote.

"Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote on her page, which has nearly 700,000 supporters.

I am Sarah Palin! And my children are off-limits! By the way! Did you know Obama wants to kill my special-needs baby, Trig? Yeah, that one over there. No, on the right. That's Trig, and he is special-needs! And you media goons need to stop talking about him. Why is the media always talking about him? Trig, I mean, the special-needs one. Oh, and Obama's evil, and you guys in the media like make shit up all the time, and that's why I didn't quit being governor but just decided to not be governor any more in case there might have been a lame duck thing goin' on a couple years down the long long Arctic road with cold and geese and sourdoughs. And quit talkin' about my kids, one of which is special-needs, and is named Trig, that's him over there, and Obama wants to kill him! Socialism! Shut up and leave me alone already! Would you like to be my Facebook friend?

*pant pant* Yeah, anyway, uh, no. No "death panels" or "encouraged euthanasia" are in the offing, unless by "euthanasia" you mean "Medicare coverage for end-of-life counseling when the patient desires it."

The allegation appears to be based on a provision of the House bill that would require Medicare to pay for end-of-life counseling sessions, on a voluntary basis, for beneficiaries who want the service. Medicare already covers hospice care. And legislation passed by Congress in 1990 requires that patients be asked if they have a living will.

Obama addressed the controversy during a July 28 AARP-sponsored town hall.

"Nobody is going to be forcing you to make a set of decisions on end-of-life care based on some bureaucratic law in Washington," he said.

Palin's conflation of providing information to a patient with forcing procedures on them is, of course, a complete reflection of the anti-abortion mindset that would love to prevent doctors from giving pregnant women accurate information about abortion, or from giving teenagers information about contraception. And in this instance that mindset is taken to a maniacal extreme.

A government-funded healthcare plan providing coverage for an hour or two with a counselor going over a living will and explaining all the options falling on the continuum between extreme life-maintaining measures and a DNR order? Sarah Palin has transmogrified that into a horrific scene of old folks and developmentally disabled babies shuffling up to a star chamber tribunal to plead for their lives, probably getting cricks in their necks as a result of peering up at the imposing dais, and being summarily denied and executed on the spot.

And 700,000 people are lapping it up on Facebook and being stirred into a frothy frenzy they're ready to unleash on their representatives and anyone who has the misfortune to show up at the same town hall meeting they do. Stirred up by lies, shrieking about euthanasia, screaming NaziNaziNazi at the tops of their lungs, doing their best to derail a reform process that can only help them and the tens of millions of other people in the country who can't afford healthcare.

Because Sarah Palin won't quit makin' stuff up.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Also, These People Are Insane.

As much as my right-wing brother rails against the goddamn hippie liberals in Boulder who can't--he says--string together three words of original thought explaining to him why they have the political beliefs they do, I have yet to hear a peep from him condemning these right-wing yahoos who flood town hall meetings with the slogans and chants supplied to them by insurance industry astroturf farmers. Or about the people who scream about "government healthcare" in between their Medicare-provided physician visits. Can I have five words of my own? These. People. Are. Fucking. Insane.

Because Predictability Is Comforting

Sonia Sotomayor sailed through the Senate confirmation, with neither help nor consequence from any but nine Republican senators (neither of which belonged to Arizona's stellar brace of senior representation), and the GOP of course immediately began crowing that this was, in fact, a victory. No, not for her--for them.
Although the 68 to 31 vote was a GOP defeat, Republicans contended that they had succeeded at framing the confirmation debate in a way that could influence Obama's future nominations throughout the federal judiciary, including to the Supreme Court if vacancies arise.

In particular, Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said that Sotomayor and Democratic senators had discarded a standard that Obama and left-leaning legal thinkers have held out: the idea that judges should be guided, in part, by empathy. If Obama nominates other people to courts who believe in that idea, Sessions said, "I don't think that would play well. . . . It could hurt this administration in other areas."

Okay, the administration is now officially On Notice that word choice will be a really important factor in future nominations, and hopefully will remember not to reference the value of a minority nom's life experience as, you know, a minority in America in crafting a court that moves just a smidgen closer to reflecting the demographics of, you know, America rather than the membership list of Augusta National circa 1972.

Anyway, perhaps as befits a double Oh Fuck No vote from our senators, the comments on the Daily Star Sotomayor story are predictably fragrant. I'll pick two from a really strong field:

I will not rest until we have a justice with Peyronie's disease on the Supreme Court, because until then, all men who suffer from painful misangulated erections will continue be victims of discrimination and hate.

Hey, it makes as much sense as saying we have to have a Latina Chick who self proclaims herself smarter than white men on the court.



Roger B. Taney and Henry Billings Brown clearly don't count as racist justices, see, because they were white men. And, as Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl and Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn definitively cleared up for us during their Judicial Committee questioning, white men have neither race nor gender, and so can't possibly have a biased bone in their bodies. Also, first guy? Leeeeeetle too much self-advertisement, there. Good luck with your Craigslist postings, and here's hoping you don't use "Onan T." as a handle over there too.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

In Which Our Productivity Falters

The breaking news e-mail from CNN rolls in, dutifully announcing Sotomayor's confirmation. My officemate wonders if John McCain indeed voted no, and I spend about a minute Googling to no avail, hampered somewhat by a slow connection and more by the assumption that this is something we probably don't need the internet to confirm. It takes a while and I get no answers. Oh, I just wondered if you'd seen the roll call yet, she apologizes, I didn't mean to interrupt your work.

My work.


I have been paralyzed for a long time now, days, at least, managing to drag a sentence here, a paragraph there out of my brain, distracted by something I can't quite catch a glimpse of except from the corner of my eye. It's an elusive ennui, sometimes taking the guise of anxiety over my son's looming adulthood and moving away, sometimes masquerading as an utter lack of confidence in my professional abilities, from time to time an aching shoulder, a sore knee, a dumpy visage in the mirror. It's all of these things and none of them. I am running uphill in sand, tethered by an elastic band that allows just enough progress to pique some hopeful interest before snapping the whole situation down to the bottom again.

I am supposed to be an expert of arcana. Vacation was supposed to rejevante me. I was supposed to be better than this. I hope my boss doesn't notice.

Monday, August 03, 2009

On, Wisconsin

A friend helpfully alerted me to goings-on in Wisconsin, a state I love for its fishing, camping, ButterburgersTM, kringle, tongue-twisting place names, and all-consuming passion for Packers and cheese, but which passed a particularly nasty marriage amendment forbidding official recognition of any same-sex marriage or approximation thereof in 2006. In response to the amendment, the state legislature passed a domestic partnership law that went into effect this morning. The full details are available here, but the highlights include inheritance from a deceased partner, certain protections against creditors, immunity from testifying against a partner, transfer of boat titles without a fee (very important in Wisconsin!), and the all-important hospital visitation, admissions, record access, and consent rights.

Predictably, the Alliance Defense Fund has their cheese curds in a knot.
"You can’t dispute that the state is creating a legal status. The state is creating an institution which is similar in its design to marriage, and that is exactly what the people of Wisconsin voted on and intended to prevent by passing the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment,” [ADF senior legal counsel Brian] Raum said.

Because gay people should die alone and afraid, and then have their blood relatives split up all their stuff. Just like Jesus wants. Or something.

Opponents say that the new domestic partnership classification offers nothing that can’t be accomplished by some other legal means. If couples want to, for instance, make sure that their property is transferred, they can create a will, Raum said.

No word on the ADF's stance on requiring all partnered couples, including straight ones, to draw up their own contracts specifying rights and responsibilities rather than forcing the state to grant them under the blanket status "married." Their argument would seem to fairly apparently boil down to forcing all people to structure the specifics of their relationships by "some other legal means" when those legal means are available. Because if they're going to shrug and tell the gays to just go off and draw up contracts covering every possible contingency, it can't be that big a deal, can it?

Tell you what, Brian--go out and hire lawyers to write and file the paperwork simulating as many of the 200 state and 1,100 federal rights and responsibilities you got the second your marriage license was notarized, and get back to me with how much that costs in money and time. I'm betting that even with the Lawyer Club discount, it's pretty steep. Then try to tell me with a straight face that a DP classification doesn't make any difference at all. No, really, go ahead. I've got all day here.

The ADF's challenge to the registry law is bobbing along in the Wisconsin Supreme Court system, possibly bumping hulls with the challenge to the original marriage amendment that is somewhere in those same waters. No idea yet on what the schedule is looking like for either one.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


It is still hotter than fuck in Tucson, but once the sun dips below the neighbor's hated salt cedars (wretched trees, but hey, they're shady), it's just barely tolerably not too hot to fire up the Char-Griller. The Char-Griller is one of the finest pieces of equipment ever invented and certainly the best thing to come out of Georgia since Jimmy Carter's post-presidential reinvention of self.

Smoke, fire, nom.

The conundrum this grill has posed for me in the 11 months I've owned it is how to efficiently exploit its, well, killer efficiency. Do up a couple steaks and a pile of chicken and a bushel of vegetables, close it up, and the damn thing is still registering at 250 a couple of hours later. Letting all those beautiful coals go to waste feels shameful. I've gotten over it in the past by wrapping up a roast in foil and setting it on the grate for a few hours, which works nicely, but tonight I found something more immediately satisfying, lack of leftovers be damned: fruit! Hot fruit! Hot grilled with just enough butter to keep it from sticking and just enough brown sugar to make it gooey fruit!

Forthwith, Boltgirl's Hot Hot Hot Fruit on Fire:

Make sure your coals are glowing at about 300-325 degrees. Locate some medium-ripe but reasonably firm bananas or peaches, preferably both. Slice in half, lengthwise for the bananas and however makes sense for the peaches. I used Saturn peaches, the little flat ones, and sliced them horizontally. Ditch the pits and banana peels, BTW. Lightly brush the cut sides with soft butter and sprinkle with brown sugar, and mush around to make a goo. Spray the grill grates with nonstick spray stuff and set the fruit on, butter-goo cut side up, and close the lid. After two minutes, flip the fruit to butter-goo side down, close the lid again, and grill two more minutes. Remove with a spatula, since the bananas will be soft, and chop and drop over vanilla ice cream.

The ice cream part is pure fantasy at this point, since I didn't have any on hand tonight, but it would have been nice. A touch of cinnamon or cardomom mixed with the sugar and butter would also be good, or maybe cayenne if you want to get all Southwesty on me.