Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hey, BA Passengers, Aren't You Glad They X-Rayed Your Shoes?

This is why I think that airport security is a meaningless farce. As quickly as we ban Fiji water and hand lotion from carry-on luggage, terrorists will think of new ways to freakin' kill us. I am relieved to know, though, that however they smuggled that radioactive material on the plane, it wasn't in a tube of lip balm or a bottle of hand lotion.

We can all take solace in that, right?

Look, I don't know what airport security is occupying their time with these days, but it sure as shit isn't securing air travel. It is apparent that terrorists are collectively way, way more intelligent than any organization assembled to combat them, and, thus, any effort in that area is futile. In short, if the terrorists want to kill you, you're worm food.

Watching attempts on the part of every country to do battle in the so-called "War on Terrorism," I have come to a couple of realizations that frighten me beyond the telling. Number One: The "War on Terrorism" bares much in common with the "War on Drugs" -- both are wars we are already predestined to lose because the active participants are too enthralled with the contraband (be it terrorism or drugs) to be dissuaded from their use. Any attempt on our part to "wage war" is futile and a big freakin' waste of time and resources.

Number Two: I'm beginning to subscribe to Lewis Black's* notion that we have simply lost our minds and don't know what we're doing anymore. I greatly fear that Western civilization has taken a turn for the worse and we are now devolving gradually back into amoeba. It's a slow process, one that will take millions of years. But I believe that every generation will get dumber and dumber, slowly losing our ability to operate complex machinery, to speak using multi-layered linguistic syntax structure, and to create fire. And, after that, what with airline security throwing away all our Bic lighters, we'll be totally screwed.


* My future husband, if you recall, unless we are devolving faster than expected and become paramecium sometime in the next year or so. And even then... I'm still game if he is.

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Christmas At Our House in '06

I realized this morning, in that half-waking, dream-like state one achieves on a chilly, rainy morning when one has no desire to leave the warmth of the bed, that it would be impossible to have any kind of normal Christmas this year. This is not due to the fact that I happen to be living with Ebenezer Scrooge, which I am, but that wouldn't stop me. It's not due to any financial or spiritual prohibitions which have been suffered by me in the past. No, this year, there will be no conventional Christmas in my house because we suffer from an impediment so huge, so confounding as to be utterly insurmountable.
I'm speaking, of course, of excessive kittenage.
Yes, gentlepeople, I have, living in my home, three cats, all born in 2006. And because this is so, there will be no Christmas tree, and probably, no stockings hung by the chimney with care, either. Those of you with cats know whereof I speak. Excessive kittenage makes the convention of a decorated, lit-up tree nothing more than a catastrophe waiting to happen. In my dreamy daze this morning, I saw myself, holding two boy kittens by their scruffs, preparing to bash them ever so loving together like a pair of cymbals. Not a pretty holiday sight. It is really best, I think, to avoid such a scenario altogether. So, alas, I am left to try my luck with boughs and fairylights on the mantel. But those may have to come down, if certain exceedingly clever and evil cats (that would be the eldest and only female) figure out that there is a mantel and that scaling it might be ever so much fun. ("See how high I am?")
As for stockings, I might give those a try, though I anticipate they will be nothing more than an invitation to swing like chimpanees across the face of the fireplace, from one stocking to the next. Oh, well... no matter.... as Deirdre has pointed out, I do love them (though not quite so much when they chase each other across my unshielded breasts at five o'clock in the morning. Ow.)
There are worse obstacles than excessive kittenage that a person can have to a lovely traditional Christmas. (I refer you to Ebenezer Scrooge from the first paragraph.) Still, for your own protection, I've included photos of the little miscreants below, so that you can identify them, should they somehow escape confinement and make their way to your Christmasy front lawns and eat your illuminated reindeer.

Born 3/1/06
Eyes: Grn
Fur: Blk
Whiskers: Blk
Obsessed with water and rustling plastic grocery bags; needs to sleep under the covers; holds the record for most invisible flies caught and eaten in 2006.

From left to right:
Born 7/15/06 (date approx)
Eyes: Grn
Fur: Wht/Brn Tabby
Whiskers: Wht
Purrs extremely loudly and frequently wakes from sound sleep in mid-meow; has rabbit-like fur, and can leap straight up for several feet.
Dorian (alias JD)
Born 9/29/06
Eyes: Grn
Fur: Blk/wht (tux)
Whiskers: Wht
Uses fluffballing and crabwalking as a natural defense against predators; pretends to be very large and tough; has delusions of kitten grandeur (see photograph).
If you come home from work one day, and your Christmas lights are hanging by one loose nail, and your mistletoe is torn limb from limb, and your bobbing Santa has teeth marks in his hat, circulate these photographs amongst your neighbors and see if they can make a positive ID. Once identification has been made, contact me, and I'll take it from there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Because Nothing Honors Women More Than Unplanned Pregnancy

As a demonstration of his pledge to work closely with Democrats and fulfill the mandate of the American people, who sent many of the most conservative Christian senators and house members packing on November 7th, President George W. Bush has appointed as HHS deputy secretary in charge of family planning Dr. Eric Keroack. Fresh from his post at A Woman's Concern, a hyper-conservative organization that opposes not only abortion, but also sex education (except abstinence) and contraception of any kind, saying it trivializes the sex act and is demeaning to women (and who better than someone with a penis to -- yet again! -- tell us when we're being demeaned, yessiree), Dr. Keroack is being defended by the White House and HHS spokesfolks as an expert in the family-planning field, who has much experience counseling women and teens.

Unfortunately, according to his peers, he has been giving them faulty information. Dr. Keroack, it seems, tends to publish his papers with little in the way of peer review, an absolute no-no in the scientific community, for the express reason that it is only natural for one's personal beliefs and opinions to creep into one's work. Peer review, like any editorial input, is more inclined to help a scientist correctly interpret and annotate research so that it does not skew too distinctly to one side or the other without proper scientific proof.

In 2001, the earnest but idiotic Dr. Keroack published an unreviewed paper expressly for a group called (are you ready?) Abstinence Clearinghouse, stating that sex with multiple partners in adolescence somehow inhibited the ability to form lasting relationships later in life. Kerouac cited joint study results by two female psychiatrists, Dr. Rebecca Turner, of Alliant International University, and Dr. Margaret Altemus of Cornell University, to back up his theories. Unfortunately for Dr. Keroack, Drs. Turner and Altemus have both categorically denied that their research made any such point. The study, in fact, was published by Turner and Altemus as "preliminary" and had less to do with human sexuality than with the long-term effects of oxytocin on sad or positive emotions during exposure to emotionally charged discussions or evocative film clips. Not only did the study results that Keroack quoted fail to prove his point about human sexuality, the completed study results, released in 2002 by Turner and Altemus, disproved their own theory of oxytocin's effects on emotions, concluding that exposure or deprivation of oxytocin had no long-term permanent effects on emotional response.

None of this would truly upset me if it weren't for two itty-bitty little things. One, Keroack's appointment is not subject to Senate approval, which means that, no matter how unqualified he is for his post (can you say "Heckuva job, Brownie"?), he'll still get it. And, two, his post requires that he oversee an agency of the United States government whose job it is to provide access to birth control and contraception information, especially to its lowest income and poorest citizens. Furthermore, he'll be in charge of the $283 million that's earmarked to provide that assistance. If he doesn't believe in any birth control but abstinence, and he doesn't believe in any education plan that teaches anything but abstinence, then we can be pretty sure that abstinence and shame will be the HHS' two newest weapons in the war on unplanned pregnancy.

So, if there were ever a moment where anyone thought that the insanity had ended, all I can say is, hold on to your hats, kids, the next two years are going to be a bumpy flight.


Update: Please join Planned Parenthood's petition campaign to express your displeasure at this appointment. Perhap a grassroots outcry will make someone think twice. Or even once. Once would be nice, too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More Is Less

So, let me get this straight. In order to end the war in Iraq, and bring US troups home, we're going to have to send more of them over there? That seems to be the strategy du jour amongst a growing number of Congress members, high-level Pentagon officials and even (if you can believe) the New York Times editorial section.

Look, I was 17 when the last American serviceman high-tailed it out of Saigon. Much of the actual coverage of the Vietnam war -- the Gulf of Tonkin, the bombing of Cambodia, the My Lai massacre -- was lost on me. I was busy playing with Barbies at the time, and really just couldn't be bothered. But I did learn one thing. I managed, in the midst of my Josie and the Pussycats haze, to take away with me the clear, unobstructed realization that everything that the past two presidents (one Democratic, one Republican) had been saying about why escalation of the war was a necessary evil was really a crock of shit.

It didn't work. It won't work. It's not a viable strategy. Do these people never read? Do they think we never read? Is it even remotely possible that they believe that everybody who ever watched the evening news in the 60's and 70's somehow was abducted by aliens and, therefore, they can spew this unbelievable crap about how more troups equals less war -- AGAIN?

Hey, I know that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. But, c'mon, people. Is there really anyone out there who truly believes that we'll be able to stabilize Iraq? Name one country -- just ONE! -- that the US has managed to stabilize by invasion in the past thirty years. Anybody? In South America? In Southeast Asia? Anyone? No?

BECAUSE WE CAN'T! It doesn't work that way! Oh, my God. Even Democrats are starting to fall prey to this assinine suggestion. We just have to go. We just have to leave. We just have to start pulling troups away from the region and let the Sunni-Shiite chips fall where they may. It's going to end in disaster, no doubt. That country is going to be in a heap of a mess for decades to come. But we should have thought of that when we decided to back Saddam Hussein against the Iranians back in the 80's. A bit late for tears now. This is a mess we've been working on for nearly two and a half decades. It's time we quit creating chaos and did something that might actually end this fiasco once and for all.

I'm not saying we should have them all home by Christmas. But adding troups to Iraq has never been productive. We managed, in four short years, to accomplish two things -- prove that Saddam Hussein was telling the truth when he said he had no weapons of mass destruction, and introduce al Qaeda to Iraq. Fabulous. Wonderful. Job well done. Let's not even discuss the loss of American or Iraqi civilian lives. This is a discussion of political goals and objectives and we wouldn't want to muddy the waters by introducing the image of hundreds of thousands of families -- theirs and ours -- that have been punched full of holes and torn apart.

We're fighting insurgents now. We're fighting Iraqis. We're trying to stabilize Iraq against Iraqis. And as sure as I'm sitting here typing this, some secretary somewhere in the Pentagon is also typing -- typing a proposal at the behest of her boss that suggests that if we can just put another 25,000 troups on the ground, we can make it all go away.

Is it me? Am I the one who's crazy? I don't think I am. I really don't think so. I think it's them. And they need to be set straight. Somebody write a respresentative or a senator before I lose my mind entirely.

Thank you.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Goodbye, Old Friend

"I have studied many philosophers and many cats.
The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior."
- Hippolyte Taine -
1997 - 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wouldn't It Be Ironic?

I'm not commenting on any election results today, until all the votes have been counted, since I've been burned on that hot stove before.

But I was thinking... wouldn't it be ironic if Republicans began to claim that they lost their elections because of software and technical glitches due to electronic voting machines? The Republicans might be forced to learn the lesson that we who understand computers learned long ago.

"Diebold, shmiebold... never try to outsmart the computer fairies."


Monday, November 06, 2006

Letter to John Kerry

Dear Senator Kerry,

First off, let me just say that you are looking extremely dapper these days. The hair, the tie, the soulful, ingenuous grin -- it's all come together for you these past two years. Congratulations. You cut a fine figure in the United States Senate.

Well, as long as you don't so something wreckless and ill-advised... like... say... speak.

Two photos appear on the left of this post. One photo is of you. The other photo is of my new favorite comedian (and possibly the man I'm going to marry -- I haven't decided yet),
Lewis Black*. One of you is a United States Senator, elected by a majority of your consituents, and paid a healthy living to serve as a legislative representative in our nation's capital.

The other is paid a healthy living to be funny.

One of you is obligated to maintain a certain sense of dignity and decorum, mostly because the office to which you have been elected requires this. We can't have Bobo the Clown running around on the Hill, passing legislation on term limits or military appropriations budgets, now, can we? No, of course not. It would be unseemly and certainly not in the best interests of nation's overall welfare. (Of course, we might finally be able to get that all important Balloon Animal Protection Act out of committee at long last. That would be good.)

The other has made a career of being, well, let's face it... Bobo the Clown. A smart, irracible, hilarious, wonderfully profane Bobo the Clown. But Bobo the Clown, none the less.

Can you pick which one of these photos is of you, and which one is of Mr. Black? Very good. You're the second photo. Lewis Black is pictured in the first. Excellent. I was a little worried there for a moment when you hesitated, but you have redeemed yourself.

Here's the thing, Senator. I don't see Lewis Black on the floor of the United States Senate, introducing legislation to improve funding for higher education, or spouting off about securing women their reproductive freedom in this country (though I strongly suspect he might, if he could figure out how to do it without getting federal prison time). So how come you insist on trying to tell jokes? You can barely string together an intelligible sentence. As anyone who is genuinely funny knows, comedy is about one thing and one thing only -- timing.

And yours, quite frankly, sucks.

So, here is what I propose, Senator Kerry. From now on, you, the United States junior senator from the state of Massachusetts, will stick to doing what you do best, looking like a network television anchorman, and handling legislation as it shuffles and winds its way through the complicated process of turning officious language from bills to laws (see Schoolhouse Rock for a tutorial on this process, in case you've forgotten in all the excitement), and we out here in the big, wide world will do whatever we can to keep Lewis Black from crashing your little senatorial party by keeping him impossibly busy doing what he does best -- political humor and satire that's actually funny.

Everyone thinks they have a good sense of humor. Unfortunately, they're usually wrong. So leave the comedy to the trained professionals. Thank you for your time.


*See my Naked Voodoo Chicken Dance post on "Nerdy-Sexy" for a description of qualities I find irresistable in a man. Then you will understand why Lewis Black may very well be the man of my dreams.