Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year-end Christmas Present Special

New office decoration.

Yes, I do have the best girlfriend ever. No, not the pretend one in the poster, the real one who put the poster under the tree this year.

Year-end Pre-January 1 Bowl Games Special

The Arizona Wildcats apparently thought last night was their Holiday Bowl walk-through rather than the actual game, and came away with a 33-0 drubbing at the hands of a pissed-off Nebraska team. The highlight of the evening for the 'Cats was Ndamukong Suh's failure to behead either of the UA quarterbacks. Three of Arizona's top signees for next season picked the U over Nebraska; the incoming AD better check to see that those letters of intent are signed in blood, or carved in stone, or possibly both.

Notre Dame did not play.

The end.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year-end Abby Wambach Girlfriend Special

I think about current events and then slave away over the keyboard for full minutes, searching for just the perfect combination of words and the most apt turn of phrase, to bring my readership the most insightful commentary possible on politics and culture, occasionally baseball and soccer and food, every once in a while a heartfelt and poignant essay on life and family. And what do people want to know about? What brings them here in droves, more frequently than any other search terms?

abby wambach girlfriend.

Jesus. Fine. For the final word on "abby wambach girlfriend," head on over to the Twitter and follow Sarah Huffman and you will get all the updates you need on that particular Wombat situation.

Meanwhile, I will continue to toil in political commentary obscurity, dreaming of the day that a certain MSNBC commentator, while Googling giant lesbians on the US national team, will realize she needs a regular correspondent from this little blue corner of a big red desert. A girl can dream, no?

Year-end Terror Special

Janet Napolitano had an unfortunate little moment of idiocy a couple days back when she said the thwarted Christmas Day airliner attack showed that "the system worked," unless TSA's new super-effective security system relies on incompetent terrorists setting their nuts on fire, immobilizing them long enough for the nearest Dutchman to get them in a headlock. In which case it worked just fine.

Arizona's own esteemed junior senator, Jon Kyl (R-OhForFuck'sSake) piled on yesterday with his own little bout of idiocy.
Sen. Jon Kyl said he doesn't "feel totally safe'' with Janet Napolitano at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security, given that agency's handling of the attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.

Kyl said it was bad enough that the Nigerian got on the plane in the first place given what should have been warning signals. But in response to a question about whether he feels secure with Napolitano heading Homeland Security, he said that is only part of the problem.

Yes, the guy was dragging more red flags than the entire Pamplona running of the bulls and The Last Samurai combined and still managed to buy a ticket in Africa and get on a plane in Amsterdam. But. Unless Janet Napolitano was personally standing at the jetway door in Lagos saying come in! you fool! and waving Captain Underpants onto the plane without a passport, I'm not sure she's the one who needs to be slapped around here. Except, of course, for saying the parts of the system not involving self-immolation and alert Dutchmen worked.

Frankly, her words may have been more of an inadvertent slip than the up-is-down doublespeak/dumbassery we took them for at first. TSA security is... not thought out perhaps as well as it could be, shall we say, something I've thought ever since Richard Reid failed to ignite his Chuck Taylors and condemned the traveling public to taking off their shoes at security at the rest of forever. I said then that if I ran an al Qaeda cell I wouldn't bother trying to actually kill people, but would simply send a string of flunkies onto planes to pull off increasingly absurd failed attacks involving increasingly intimate levels of undergarments, just to see how far TSA would go with their reactionary rather than preventative rules. OMG a shoe bomber! Everybody take off your shoes! Jesus, a bra bomber! Sorry, ladies, but that's going to have to go into the bin. Holy shit, a hair bomber! Please hop into the barber chair right here at the shoe dropoff, okay?

And then aQ went and spoiled it by ramping up immediately to their underwear bomber, and the best TSA could bring themselves to do is no blankets and no laptops and no paperbacks and no wanking through your pants in the last hour of flight. Because the very first thing that went through everyone's mind when this news broke was underwear bomber = everybody flies naked now and TSA can't make that particular the-jokes-just-write-themselves joke come true. So they slap together more patchwork rules that essentially say okay, don't try THAT particular tactic again, which does pretty much zero to prevent the next new thing aQ will think up to make air travel even more annoying and possibly deadly, and I'm left with the distinct impression that the ultimate fallback system TSA is really counting on is passengers noticing something off and saying oh FUCK no and jumping the next guy who tries to blow up a plane.

Bruce Schneier, whose job is to think about this stuff, thinks the same thing.

"Security theater" refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security.

Security is both a feeling and a reality. The propensity for security theater comes from the interplay between the public and its leaders.

When people are scared, they need something done that will make them feel safe, even if it doesn't truly make them safer. Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn't make any sense.

Happy traveling, America! And hey, keep your hands where I can see them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Late December

*knock knock* Is this thing on? The annual post-Christmas timewarp trek up to my family in Flagstaff always makes it feel like forever since I've been back in my regular life. My brother and cousins and I crowded up to the table and played games and got fed and managed to forget for a couple of hours that we all got started on our personal white hair farms a long time ago. My son--aghast at learning that the piece of white wire he plucked from his own head last month was not an anomaly, but instead an unavoidable genetic legacy courtesy of a grandma we suspect started coloring at an early age--joined in and confused the hell out of me for a while because he's the age now that I usually feel I am at these confabs.

We sat around the fire drinking wassail and my father joined in the games he usually swore he hated playing and stayed up 'til midnight playing and laughing instead of stomping off to bed at nine grousing at us that we'd never get up in time for breakfast if we didn't go to bed too. He carried extra logs inside and put them on the fire and asked if I wanted more to drink, didn't hassle my brother inordinately, ruffled his grandson's hair and smiled, and it was warm in the house against the single-digit wind outside and I was seventeen again or maybe ten and the world was simple and right.

Yesterday morning I got up from the twin bed I slept in as a kid, straightened the dinosaur print blankets added to the mix when my younger brothers inherited the beds for their room, loaded up the car and pointed it home. A low sky hung to the south as the ponderosa pines thinned and the rocks asserted themselves above the snow and we dropped down below the rim to rolling rangeland, the raggedy gray cloud veil standing sentry over the passing through before we were spat back out into the desert where the calendar matters.

Monday, December 21, 2009


O_o. While I was away ripping out chicken wire and catclaw and building new fences and baking the wrong cookies and half-assedly dusting, the Republican leadership officially went batshit crazy.

Wow. When did Hulk Hogan get a second job as a mouthbreathing evangelist? And where is his spandex? I was originally going to slice this up and deal with the little bits piece by piece, but it's taking longer to scrape my jaw off the floor than I thought it would. Just watch the whole thing, maybe three times, and explain to me if I'm wrong in concluding that these witnessing chowderheads have finally conclusively demonstrated that they have abandoned any pretense of rational thought. Who is the Logic: Ur Doin It Rong poster boy here? Jim DeMint (R-Leviticus)?

If we have the government making decisions about the most personal and private part of our lives, it is so naive to think that that coverage is not gonna include a number of things that cause people of faith a lot of heartburn, whether it's funding abortions... whether it's funding medical marijuana...

Or Sam Brownback (R-James Dobson's Pocket)?

The Democrat [sic] leadership wants to fund abortion in this bill. And it's real tragic, because abortion's not healthcare!

Nice effort there by Brownback, but then DeMint brings it home with the simplest and only summation you really need.

We cannot fall for this idea that we need to keep our faith in the closet and let the country go its own secular way.

Congratulations, Jimmy D, for that spectacular bit of fail. Pardon me for not sticking around to join the jesusjesusjesus mumblers around you, but I need to get shopping for a bigger hat if y'all are calling down so much wrath from heaven.

I Come to Work to Recover from My Weekends

*flump* and Boltgirl collapses into the spring-shot non-ergonomic office chair nicked from the conference room several years ago when the last hand-me-down chair stopped being tolerable, and takes a deep breath.

Our annual holiday party hit Saturday afternoon and evening, and was lovely and exhausting as ever. Despite the large group (~65 hardy souls) and significant number of children under the age of five, absolutely nothing sticky got spilled on the floor, and every last empty bottle and can made it into the recycling bin. While this considerably diminished the usual Easter morning find-the-weirdest-places-people-decided-to-leave-stuff quality of the next day's cleanup, I was impressed. The exhaustion came in large part from--in what is becoming an alarmingly annual occurrence--something large and structural deciding to fall down in the yard, requiring a major construction episode starting 48 hours before the first guests were supposed to show up.

In the end, the new stuff got built and the landscaping got repaired, but I ran out of time to produce two signature dessert items and ended up with the wrong ingredients leading to a substandard batch of the signature hot spiced cider, and exactly one person noticed--that would be me--all of which served to remind me that the point of the whole deal is to reconnect with old friends and share hospitality with new ones and not send anyone home poisoned. And by those most important standards, it was a rollicking success.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which We Have a Request for Santa

Random poster benefiting the American Library Association.

Want. Wantwantwant. Uh, because I'm a huge fan of reading, of course. That's the only reason. Seriously.

Monday, December 14, 2009

But a Supermajority Sounded Like Such a Good Idea at the Time

And this is how it ends. Can someone please explain to me--big words are fine--how a party can spend eight years being shit on by the majority and then, after gaining not only a majority but a veto-fucking-proof sixty seats, make their number one perpetual priority not offending the other party and caving in to their every demand? It's a classic abusive relationship, except, I suppose, for that crucial part where the abuser apologizes and makes nice for a while and promises to change, mainly because the Republicans and conservative Democrats and in-it-strictly-for-the-ego-stroking-and cash independents like Joe Lieberman face absolutely zero repercussions for their behavior and know no effort is necessary on their part to make a show of contrition that will bring the Dems crawling back with renewed hope. Seriously, fuck that sanctimonious Lieberman and every spineless Democrat who refused to call shenanigans on his bullshit and Bart Stupak's bullshit and Ben Nelson's bullshit and and the entire wad of bullshit confit in bullshit served over a bullshit puree with caramelized bullshit sauce and fennel fronds.

Teabaggers, you win. You stuck up for the insurance companies and worked against your own self-interest in working against the best interests of the nation, predictably and right on schedule, and the fucking Republicans and their pet Lieberman laugh all the way to the Aetna hospitality suite.

Yo, fierce advocate. Step it the fuck up, man.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Adventures in Reading

Sometimes old books are cool just because they're old, and sometimes they are downright MADE OF AWESOME. This one belonged to my great-uncle George.

First Reader, by Florence Rose, Heath & Co., Boston, 1904

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Time

My days of lighting the purple and pink candles in the Advent wreath are long past, and I haven't had a decent chocolate-filled calendar in years, but Chez Bolt is quietly preparing for Christmas. Oh, you'd barely notice it from the outside. Some lights are up, but we haven't gotten around to finding the extension cords yet, so they're strictly a daytime decoration so far, and the tree has yet to make an appearance, and the stuffed albino squirrel still awaits his Santa cap.

I have been killing the time between the ordinary calendar and the appearance of the aforementioned harbingers of the season by baking cookies and playing music, reaching back into the past with the muscle memory of rolling pins and puffs of flour and ancient harmonies on the vocal cords as the past reaches forward with bubbling memories of scents and reverberation, and we meet somewhere in a middle where my grandfather still hangs boughs in every room and my grandmother scurries about a warm kitchen.

The house is shuttered now, of course, my grandfather long the property of the stars and the saints and my grandmother fading in the haze of a nursing home, and a thousand miles away I cut her shapes into dough and play his chords and, for the briefest time, collapse the years and the distance and feel Christmas again.

Merrily, on high.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Weekend in Sports

The Friday in Sports, more like it, although it's effectively ended the Weekend in Sports not 20 minutes after it began. Uh, chickie pea in the pink shorts on co-ed team Should B? Yeah, you, the one who hacked me and trashed my ankle when you were already up 11-9 in players and 4-1 in goals? 20 minutes in? Yeah, fuck you. Instead of beers with my teammates I got a hot date with a cold bag of frozen peas. Fuck off with your hacky ways. I'm too old for this.

The upside is getting a jump on watching the women's College Cup on the DVR. Stanford beats UCLA on two Oh My Goodness goals resulting from rapid-fire collect-control-turn-SHOOT shots that left the Bruin keeper helpless and flat-footed. ND-UNC is up next; go Irish.

What else... ND declined a bowl bid, thank Touchdown Jeebus. In Additional Upside News, the upside to the crap season is lots of ND gear being offered at deep discounts, so I got matching Zbikowski jerseys (or Tony Rice, or Kyle Rudolph) for myself and my brother for Christmas.

And Kevin made the finals of Top Chef. Life is good, except for this ankle.

In Which We Have the Glimmer of a Chance

I would point out, for the record, that Boltgirl is also obsessed with The Weather Channel.

Continued Moments in WTF-ery

It's cold and dark when I have to get out of bed in the morning now, which I do not want to do in general and not at all now that we put the flannel sheets and extra blankets on, making the bed more of a giant warm marshmallow wrapped in a flannelly cloud cocoon that I DO NOT WANT TO CRAWL OUT OF EVER, plus judging from the interesting odor in here something appears to have died in my office overnight and it wasn't just dreams of weddings and rings and fabulous parties in New York.


So I'm spending my smoking breaks today--since I don't smoke--finding bits of marriage-related right-wing fuckery and posting them here. No fumar aqui, pero fumo cueste lo que cueste. Forthwith, courtesy of Joe.My.God.:
In a Christian Post article about an upcoming biography of Saddleback megachurch Pastor Rick Warren, we learn that Warren freely admits that when he married his wife, he didn't love her, was not attracted to her, and had "no feelings" for her at all. But he married her anyway because the marriage had been arranged. By God.

Good for you, Rick! Congratulations on your loveless arranged marriage! Fucking hell.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Stop the Presses; Boltgirl Disagrees--Gasp--with Rachel

Oh, it was bound to happen eventually.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I don't see yesterday's escalation announcement as a new iteration of the Bush Doctrine so much as a response to the original Afghanistan situation continuing, albeit in a different venue; instead of blowing the whistle to stop the game and issue the Taliban a well-deserved red card, some cosmic referee has shouted play on as the action has spilled across the border into Pakistan. Except in this case the Taliban have grabbed the ball and taken it up into the stands and both teams are lobbing flares and batteries at each other, and we're somehow simultaneously opponent and referee, and the metaphor falls apart before our eyes. Much like the NATO coalition.

Anyway. Bad shit in Pakistan by the CIA and Blackwater Xe, drones and abduction teams and all, but even that doesn't make it a pre-emptive war by Team Obama. It's simply a new vector in an existing war, just as it's a new vector for Pakistan's ISI and a new vector for India's intelligence service, and for the warlords depending on support from one side or the other, a giant triangulated chess match that devolves into Red Rover more often than not. The Taliban are operating with impunity from Quetta, just as they operated from Kandahar before we got there. Same shit, different day, slightly different setting, same problem.

Amazingly, this has diminished my ardor for Dr. Maddow exactly not at all. Shocker!

War Footing

Argh. What to think, what to think? It was a long speech that boils down to 30,000 additional troops going to Afghanistan with the goal of stabilizing the country within 18 months and then leaving the former factional warlord-and-druglord driven shithole of corruption as a shiny new intact unified nation with a nice new transparent government and equal rights for women and people who can read and a marked lack of support for Taliban and roses instead of poppies.

No word as yet on where Obama plans to find the pod people for the replacements that will be necessary for this to work.

I am torn here. The Afghanistan adventure was doomed from the outset when Rumsfeld and his ilk decided to go in on an economy plan that was light on troops and heavy on cash payments to bribe warlords, tribal leaders, and drug dealers, with an exterminator's mindset rather than a community organizer's. The NATO alliance failed to focus on infrastructure building and thus failed to address the underlying issues creating the climate that made the Taliban such an attractive option to the populace in the first place, and whose resolution would have eliminated the conditions that allowed the Taliban to maintain a stranglehold on the people when they replaced the original despair with a newer, Sharia version of misery.

If you have not yet picked up Ahmed Rashid's Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, please do so now and spend the next week reading it, as well as hoping fervently that either Obama or someone with his ear has done the same. Eighteen months to undo decades of pure chaos and malfeasance? I hope it works. Without a parallel level of effort, money, and manpower on the part of just about every country in NATO, directed as much at infrastructure and civil affairs as military objectives, I'm not sure how this happens in eighteen months, if at all.