Thursday, May 27, 2010

Geek Week Highlight

And now, a bit of sunshine. I will most likely never get on the Maddow show, but at least now I can say I know somebody who did, and he rocked it. Or pooped it, whatever.

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

And While We're Discussing the Catholic Church in Arizona

Remember the nun who got booted from the Mother Church for having the audacity to value a woman's life to the extent of authorizing an abortion to end a pregnancy that was virtually guaranteed to kill both the woman and her 11-week-old embryo? Nothing new to report except that a pro-life group in Virginia is asking people to send letters of support to fucktard Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmstead.

Olmsted has come under criticism for his swift excommunication of Sister Margaret Mary McBride, a longtime administrator at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix after she authorized an abortion for a 27-year-old woman.

McBride apparently had learned that the pregnancy would be fatal to both the woman and the baby if carried to term. The woman was 11 weeks pregnant. The abortion occurred in December 2009.

Critics have noted that none of the Roman Catholic priests in Arizona who have been disciplined and/or defrocked for sexual abuse (including rape) have been excommunicated.

I got nuthin' else to add. Oh, except that the Arizona Daily Star has some of the most vile commenters on the planet. Almost as vile as the Church's apologists.

"The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic," the Population Research letter says.

The Catholic Physicians Guild of Phoenix is also backing Olmsted's decision.

In a question and answer press release distributed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, diocese officials say abortion is never permitted "as an end or as a means."

Sister McBride, "automatically excommunicated herself from the church," Phoenix diocese officials say.
Can the rest of us would-be escapees get in on that action?

And Here We Go

Not sure how this slipped past me the first time, but, um, pardon me; are you one of the people who thinks physician and pharmacist conscience clauses aren't a big deal because you can just go to some other pharmacy, some other hospital? Yeah, sometimes the Catholic Church takes over the only hospital in town, as it did in Sierra Vista, Arizona, and it suddenly becomes a very big deal.

Southern Arizona's Carondelet Health Network is about to join forces with Sierra Vista Regional Health Center.

The two health-care providers will execute an "integrative network agreement" April 17, which will allow them to share resources, officials from both say.

Trustees with Sierra Vista Regional Health Center say one of the major concerns has been a prohibition on sterilization procedures that will occur at the hospital as a result of the agreement. They say the prohibition is part of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services used by Carondelet, a Catholic, nonprofit network.

And there you have it. Well, maybe it's not all that bad, right?.

On Sunday, the Sierra Vista hospital ran an advertisement in the Sierra Vista Herald that says the only services that will be discontinued are direct sterilization procedures and IUD insertion, except for directly therapeutic purposes.

The hospital will continue to treat ectopic pregnancies and will still use Plan B (the morning-after pill) for rape victims, says the advertisement, which was signed by hospital President and CEO Margaret Hepburn and board of trustees chair Larry Kope.

Abortion for ectopics and Plan B for rape is great, although I'm not sure why I should be turning handsprings for legal procedures and medications remaining accessible to women who need them, but abortion and emergency contraception for people in different circumstances? It's difficult to conclude otherwise that the level of specificity in the hospital's statement is intentionally exclusive. And that's just fabulous news for the women of Sierra Vista who don't have the means or time to drive the hour and a half to Tucson.

It's a two-year agreement. Maybe the economy will improve enough in that time to allow the Sierra Vista hospital to get back on its own feet and go back to operating under a general humanist code of ethics, not one dictated by the Catholic Church./p>

Archaeology Interlude

Sometimes there are no more compelling explanations for chronological trends.

Click to embiggen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Geek Week Is Upon Us

And here we go!

Other highlights of “Geek Week” include: Robert Wallace, a former CIA agent who reveals the secrets of a once-classified CIA manual written by a former magician; a tour of the Iwo Jima helicopter carrier in honor of Fleet Week here in New York City; a geek-level tour of the massive rebuilding project underway at Ground Zero; geek-rapper Baba Brinkman, whose most recent project is “The Rap Guide to Evolution”; Infrastructure! - a trip underground with the sandhogs to tour the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, an infrastructure project more than 50 years behind schedule; and Dr. Jim Mead of East Tennessee State University, who oversees the largest collection of prehistoric dung in the world.

One of these segments involves a dear member of la familia Bolt. Living vicariously FTW!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

At the End of the Day

When I am woman king of the universe, utterances of the phrase "at the end of the day" will bring a $1000 fine for the first offense, with Fibonacci-ally increasing fines for each subsequent use when the speaker is not talking about about something that is actually going to happen at the end of the current day.

Let's review.

At the end of the day, we will stop by the bar for a beer and then go home. ==> dandy.

At the end of the day, it will come down to who wants it more. ==> $1000, please, plus $50 for "who wants it more" because I don't like that either.

At the end of the day, I decided I had to stand up for the people of Pennsylvania, the working families... yes, I stood up to the party establishment when I thought they were wrong for you, and I just want to re-emphasize, at the end of the day, I'm like all Pennsylvanians, pretty independent-minded. ==> that will be $3000, Rep. Sestak, since you've been warned and the first thousand is just assumed to kick-start the fine escalation.

Drives me fucking insane. At the start of the day, and in the middle, and even at the end. Of the day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You have GOT to be Fucking Kidding Me

Okay. If you're a semi-regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed that I have a mild fixation on someone who may or may not be named Rachel Maddow. Just search for posts tagged "squeeee" and you'll get the picture. I have so many things to offer, so many brilliant insights, and she's never called me! Not even once!

So my girlfriend did call me this afternoon, and told me she'd gotten an e-mail from her ex. That in itself is no more unusual than the sun coming up in the east; they're still very close and I consider him my brother-in-law, in some weird lesbian extended-family sense. He's a scientist with a fairly significant reputation, rightfully so, and elements of his research have landed him in Popular Science and on the National Geographic channel from time to time. No stranger to the media, this one; Nature Valley Granola even considered using him in a commercial that scheduling conflicts nixed.

Anyway, the e-mail. It seems he'd been contacted by some TV producers for the Geek Week segment their boss wants to run. They're showing up in his town with a live remote crew next week. So he can be interviewed.

By. Rachel. Maddow.

Excuse me while I go shoot myself now.

It's the dung. He has amassed the world's preeminent collection of ancient dung, and Rachel wants to talk to him about it. My son asked me what the chances are that she might want to talk to me sometime, and I said, zero. But aren't you the world's leading expert on some archaeology thing, he asked? Yeah, I said, but nobody cares about Empire points. They care about giant sloth dung. Huh, he said, so that means your work isn't worth shit?

Ha. Ha ha. He'll be here all week, folks; don't forget to tip your waitress.

The Boltgirl Typing Primer

I did not take typing in high school. I'm not even sure if they offered typing at my high school. So I hunted and pecked well into grad school, and even though I (mostly) type now without having to peek at the keyboard, certain words just refuse to come out right every goddamn time. Especially archaeology words, which is troublesome given that archaeology is necessarily the number one subject in my work writing.

Here is a handy translation guide, should you ever find yourself editing one of my chapters.

1. steon. This actually is supposed to be "stone," and since my specialty is stone tools, it's a problem.

2. Cieneha. Looks plausibly Southwestern, but should be Cienega. It is the name of one of the more significant time periods I study--lots of fascinating steon tools going on, of course--so, again, needs some help.

3. poitn. Uh, "point." As in projectile points, which, alas, were typically made of steon, and there were shit-tons of them in the Cieneha phase.

4. preshitoric. Need I say more?

So apparently the left hemisphere of my brain is rebelling against my career choice. I'm amazed sometimes to get to the office and find that they haven't changed the locks overnight.

Monday, May 17, 2010

As Previously Reported

Arizona joined several other states in collectively punching women in the ladybits when Governor Brewer signed SB1305 (previously noted here).

An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes. "We don't consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don't think it's a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it," said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states.

Not content to be bandwagon-jumping posers, our legislature managed to set us apart by not including the usual sops to what passes for reason--you know, the holy triumvirate of exemptions (rape, incest, mother's life) that let the misogynists behind this tripe convince themselves they're not being total bastards about things. Those exemptions are for pussies, apparently, and Arizona's not having it.

Exceptions are made only under extreme circumstances in which the procedure saves the life of the woman or will "avert substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman."

No rape exception here, bucko! Unfortunately, Tennessee promptly trumped Arizona by making their insurance law completely void of exemptions, meaning that if you're a Volunteer female you'll need to set up and pay for a separate rider covering the possibility not only that you'll be raped, but that a pregnancy might kill you, and since that last bit there about the potential for maternal mortality applies to every pregnancy across the board, every woman in Tennessee will need to pay extra for essential coverage that had been included in her insurance right up until this moment. Tell me again, Mary Harned, how abortion is not healthcare?

One more question, this one for Governor Brewer. Is my uterus state-owned property? No? It isn't? Then stay the fuck away from it. And everyone else's.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Graduation Day

When I learn from my son the lesson I spent his lifetime to this point trying to teach, I know I did my job.

His team went into the state volleyball semifinals on Friday as the number two seed, riding a 24-match winning streak, and five sets later exited the gym as moderate upset victims. They took the first two sets reasonably handily, but in the third fell behind early and lost their momentum, started hitting serves wide and long, started letting balls fall in bounds, failed to cover on tips. The fifth set went back and forth, with neither team pulling out more than a two-point margin, and his team fought off match point three times before finally succumbing.

Great, I thought, he's going to be a mess for a week. This is a kid who was devastated as a freshman when he missed a must-convert penalty kick and his soccer team lost a tournament championship, a kid whose confidence took a kick in the gut when he didn't make varsity volleyball as a junior, a kid who spent his entire junior season grabbing his head when he missed a hit and fighting back tears when the missed hit came on match point. He made varsity this year but didn't expect to play, and I spent the first half of the season watching him ride the bench and holding my breath the few times he got into games because I knew a mistake would mean he was (1) back on the bench, (2) with his head in his hands.

But after the halfway point stuff started to change. He wasn't hanging his head, even if he messed up, and he worked his way into the starting lineup and stayed there.When the last ball on match point fell short of the kid who dove for it in vain, they left the floor and huddled under the bleachers with the coach for a long time, and when they started trickling back to their parents I took a deep breath. And was pleasantly surprised. Despite the red eyes and the long hug, he was okay. They were all okay.

They got on the bus and headed back to Tucson, and when he got home he told me everyone got over it on the ride. He wished things had gone differently, but he was happy about specific things that had been a problem for him in the past, that he had done well in this match. He hit every one of his serves in, and returned every serve hit to him the way he wanted to. His Facebook update just said guess you can't win them all.

Acknowledge the bad and leave it behind, take the good with you and move on. He's doing it now, finally  not letting small slips morph into capital-eff Failures that keep spiraling. Finally doing as I say instead of as I do.

And in doing so, he becomes the teacher. My work here is done.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Uh, No.

Not me, Bucko. And I fucking live here.
As calls spread for an economic boycott of Arizona, the state’s governor enlisted the help of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday to defend a new law cracking down on illegal immigration.
Brewer and Palin blamed President Obama for the state law, saying the measure is Arizona’s attempt to enforce immigration laws because the federal government won’t do it.
“It’s time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say, ‘We’re all Arizonans now,’” Palin said. “And in clear unison we say, ‘Mr. President: Do your job. Secure our border.’”

And with that, the We Are All _______ meme mercifully croaked away its last breath and disappeared forever. What? A girl can dream, can't she?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Never-ending Nightmare Never Ends

Ever had a nasty 24-hour stomach bug? The kind where you feel increasingly miserable and then puke and feel much better, but then have your blissful, blessed relief cut short by another wave of nausea, and then another, until you are certain that you will be vomiting every 20 minutes for the rest of your life?

Welcome to Arizona, where the legislature and governor have just heaved our collective shoes into the bucket with a prohibition against ethnic-studies curricula that don't meet Tom "the most fun chant for me was 'drill, baby, drill' used by three separate speakers" Horne's approval.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill limiting what kind of courses schools can offer in the name of cultural diversity Tuesday.

Without comment, Brewer signed the controversial legislation, which declares students "should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.''

The law, aimed specifically at the ethnic studies program at Tucson Unified School District, is far more complex than that goal.

It makes it illegal for public schools to have any courses or classes that promote the overthrow of the United States government or promote resentment toward a race or class of people. It also bars any programs "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group."

My 7th grade social studies teacher would be in deep shit on this one, given how his World War II lectures made me resent the hell out of the Nazis. And my son's Native American Literature teacher made the class read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee this semester, which left him feeling not that great about--gasp--the United States government! Well. That's a bit of hyperbole. Tom Horne isn't going to march in and string up teachers who might give white students a moment of pause when they consider the atrocities perpetuated by governments on this continent and in Europe, but if you get the Mexicans riled up, you're toast. Oh, and by the way, if you're trying to teach the Mexicans to speak English, make sure your accent isn't too thick. Because Arizona doesn't like that either.

You'd be perfectly justified, at this point, to ask who the fuck thinks all this is a good idea. There's an obvious and troubling answer, and now, this morning, a less obvious and possibly more troubling answer. First, the no-brainer: the white supremacists, of course, think this is all kinds of awesome. But it's more than just them, and that keeps me from my rest. Large chunks of the country are going nativist now, or at least large chunks of slightly more than a thousand registered voters with landlines who happened to answer their phones and take part in a poll are, and that should give us all pause.

A strong majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found.

A separate Pew Research Center poll on the Arizona law released Wednesday found similar sentiments.

In the McClatchy-Ipsos poll, 61 percent of Americans - and 64 percent of registered voters - said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9.

Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people's immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally.

Swell. And here's the best part:

In addition, about 69 percent of Americans said they wouldn't mind if police officers stopped them to ask for proof of their citizenship or legal rights to be in the country; about 29 percent would mind, considering it a violation of their rights, and about 3 percent were unsure.

Hell no, I wouldn't mind if a nice police officer stopped me and asked me for proof of citizenship! People who say this are people who have never been hassled by a cop in their entire lives for having the wrong skin color or wrong kind of clothes for the neighborhood they're walking in or the car they're driving. It's very, very easy to hit play and blast out the title track from Unexamined Privilege's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: If You're Not Doing Anything Wrong (You Don't Have Anything To Worry About), until the day comes when you really aren't doing anything wrong and get busted anyway. If you're white enough and not screaming in Farsi at the top of your lungs, no, you probably don't have to worry about it, and if for some unfathomable reason you were stopped and questioned and didn't have your ID or birth certificate (long form, please) on you, you could talk your way out of it. And hey, if you don't have to worry about it on a personal level, you get a pass from having to worry about it on a conceptual level. It's not just the Arizona way any more. It's the American way, bucko, and don't you forget it.

Pass the pepto, if you please. Every time I think it's got to be over, another wave comes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mid-May Panic Attack

Oh Christ. Things we are panicking about, in no particular order:

(1) Did the boy choose the right college? Should we have pushed for Gonzaga?

(2) Elena Kagan? Who's correct here, Greenwald or Lessig?

(3) Maggie Gallagher is spewing her anti-gay venom over on the west side tonight! Is asphyxiation likely if I stay in midtown? How sure are you? I am fresh out of plastic sheeting and duct tape.

(4) Cubs, 6 1/2 games back and in 5th place.

(5) The ability to string more than two archaeology-related sentences together has deserted me just in time for being over budget on the current work project.

(6) Is it payday yet? No? Crap.

Monday, May 10, 2010

NOM Descends on Tucson

Oh, this is exciting. The National Organization for Marriage's own hellhound-in-chief and all-around horrible person Maggie Gallagher is coming to Tucson tomorrow night.

What: Same-Gender Marriage and Religious Freedom: A conversation with Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance and Maggie Gallagher, founder of the National Organization for Marriage. Rev. Gaddy is the author of Same-Gender Marriage & Religious Freedom, which argues that discussion of this issue should be rooted in the Constitution rather than in scripture. Maggie Gallagher has been a longtime and vocal opponent of legalizing same-gender marriage.

When: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.

Where: Berger Performing Arts Center
1200 West Speedway Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85745
(located on the campus of the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind)

I can't go to the "conversation," unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, but my friend Homer will be there in full force, and I will be very anxious to hear about the evening and her responses to the questions he plans to ask. Gaddy should mop the floor with her, although, as I mentioned to Homer, the woman wouldn't recognize a rational thought if it bit her in the ass. And, frankly, being both deaf and blind is about the only way I would be able to spend an hour in her presence without ending up in a holding cell.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stop the Presses

Frank Antenori and I fully agree on one thing. I may need to lie down for a while.

Under current law, residents and visitors in Arizona can buy beer, wine and liquor every day beginning at 6 a.m. through 2 the following morning.

At one time there were no sales before noon [on Sundays]. That was changed to 10 a.m. more than a decade ago to accommodate demands by Bill Bidwill who had brought his Cardinals football team to Arizona and wanted to be able to sell beer in the stands when games had to start early because of TV schedules.

Antenori said he doesn't buy the argument that the rules should be different on what some people believe is the Lord's Day.

"For a certain specific religion you can't carve out a special exemption,'' he said. "I don't think that's right.''

Knock me over with a feather, and then hand me an IPA if you'd be so kind. It'll be after 6 a.m.--we do not get up that early on Sundays for anything--so we're golden. I'd even think about buying Frank a beer, except that his pesky state-funded insurance plan prevents me from buying him alcohol just on principle. But hey, it was close for a second there.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Geek Orgasm

Ion fucking propulsion, bitchez!

"Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Captain Kirk barks out the order with such confidence. He knows the USS Enterprise can slip in and out of planetary orbits with ease. But it's only easy in the realm of science fiction. In the real world, such maneuvers have been impossible --until now.

Enter Dawn, NASA's cutting edge mission to the asteroid belt.

Powered with a futuristic sounding new technology called "ion propulsion," this spacecraft will perform space moves rivaling those of the Enterprise.

Ion propulsion! Woot!

(via Americablog)

Another Kind of Migrant

I can't tell you how many times I've heard anti-immigrant (read: anti-Mexican) people in Arizona complain about the immigrants' refusal to assimilate into mainstream (read: white) America. These people, they come into our country and still speak Spanish and wave their Mexican flags and eat at taco trucks and play their goddamn mariachi music full blast and have fucking picnics in graveyards and this is AMERICA goddammit so why don't they act like Americans?

I'm not from here either. Well, I am from the US, but I'm not from Arizona. I'm from the midwest, Illinois and Indiana, mostly the greater Chicago area. I spent my middle school and high school years in South Bend, Indiana, and grew up with the grandkids of Polish immigrants. When the Poles came over, they built their own parish church a block away from the existing church so they wouldn't have to go to mass with all those annoying Irish people, lived in their own neighborhood, and ran their own grocery stores and butchers, some of which were still operational enough in 1984 that if you went in and asked the butcher in Polish, you could get the quart of duck blood you wanted for soup. Now those folks have retired to Phoenix and brought as much of the midwest with them as they could cram into their Winnebagos, but since they're saying ya hey dere and flying a Packers windsock instead of si se puede and El Tricolor, no one notices a thing.

My midwestern grandparents spend the winters in one of these Phoenix-area giant senior citizens' communities, surrounded by fellow snowbirds from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin. They frequent the Hoosier Cafe, decorated with Indiana University and Purdue memorabilia, and another cafe that is named Red Mountain but might was well be U.P Michigan Central, this one plastered with Packers, Vikings, and Proud to Be a Yooper flags, and order coffee from waitresses with unmistakable upper midwest accents and look at the Michigan license plates on the wall and wonder why the Mexicans won't just try to fit in.

Meanwhile, fifteen years and counting in the desert and my wardrobe still consists mostly of t-shirts proclaiming my allegiance to various Chicago sports teams and Notre Dame. My license plate and the Cubs magnet on the back of my car scream Chicago. When I go hiking here I seek out running streamcourses that are lined with trees, and in the springtime long to hit the higher elevations of the Catalinas just so I can see some familiar wild geraniums and smell damp rock and feel, for a moment, that I'm back home. The pens on my office desk sit in an ancient beer cup from the Taste of Chicago. Steve Goodman, rest his soul, headlines my iPod; WGN News at Nine is not an infrequent visitor to my living room; about once a week you can find me clutching an Old Style at Rocco's Little Chicago in the booth under the CTA centennial poster.

For good measure, Boltgirl's office ceiling decoration.

In short, I in many ways--unconscious, conscious, sometimes downright gleeful--have stayed within the cultural milieu I grew up in instead of completely assimilating into my new home. My right-wing fellow Arizonans probably just haven't really noticed, or, if they have, haven't taken offense at my Loop-centric tastes because they aren't terribly far afield from their own. I'm allowed my trappings of home because home's on the right side of the Rio Grande. The Mexicans who want to do the same? My stars, what a terrible affront to Arizona sensibilities.