Saturday, May 9, 2009

SNL Alert

There's usually no good reason to watch anymore. It's past my bedtime (heh-I stayed up all night last night, but still) because the primaries are over and there are only so many Obama/Biden moments worth seeing satirized. But tonight it's going to be the Mr. Mustard moment, no doubt, maybe the correspondents' dinner, which I guess CSpan may try to tempt me with.
Even all that wouldn't get me to tune in, because Huffpo almost always puts up clips the next day.
But tonight Justin Timberlake is hosting. Next to The Rock, Alec Baldwin and Christopher Walken, he's the top, and those guys always put on a good show. Timberlake's one of those entertainers that gives old cranks like myself hope for the younger generation.
I think the writers and cast try harder with these people, probably because they're inspired by talent.

Single Payer Health Reform

I don't know much, but I know what I like. And frankly, I don't think single-payer has a chance in hell this year, and this year is going to see some sort of health care reform.
Nevertheless, we can't just sit here and shake our heads.
The blogs are all aflame over Montana Sen. Max Baucus' decision to exclude any single payer advocates from his hearing last week and, when they protested, had them thrown out. These aren't the pinkies, they were health professionals there to make a point.
You can register your disapproval of Baucus, and his documented ownership by Big Pharma and other big campaign donors, by calling or faxing his office.
I personally believe a fax works better, and you can FAX for free right from your computer. Yeah, that thing in front of your face as we speak.
Just tell them you want single-payer advocates included in the hearings. Next one is May 12, Tuesday.

Washington D.C.
511 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2651(Office)

(202) 224-9412 (Fax)

Friday, May 8, 2009

By The Numbers

Um, about those unemployment numbers, the ones they're bombarding you with today.
(NPR inviting "analysts" to opine about how this may be "better.")
The problem with this methodology is that it does not include millions of Americans who are not working full-time who ought to be. Those, in the bureau's words, who are "marginally attached to the labor force."
Those numbered an additional 2.1 million Americans in the first quarter of this year, the bureau said. Alarmingly, that number was up 35 percent from the first quarter of 2008.
Of this number, the bureau categorized 717,000 as "discouraged" workers, or those that have simply given up looking for work for any number of reasons. That number was up 70 percent from the first quarter of 2008.

BTW, it's "journalists" who do this digging. Sure, there may be bloggers out there saying the same thing, but they don't carry the weight, or the audience.
Down off the soapbox now.


Hamburgers without ketchup are as American as, um, oh, you know, that state where the governor wants to secede. I'm goin' with Mr. Mustard from here on out.
Oh, and Pelosi said "no, I diiin't," but nobody — least of all Andrew Sullivan — listens because she doesn't tweet.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kabuki, I Tells Ya, Kabuki

The politics of D.C. is not the obvious, but the not so obvious.
First there was a leak, an apparent attempt to smear Jane Harman with an alleged wiretap of an Israeli agent lobbying her to intervene in a prosecution. Fingers pointing at disgraced former CIA guy Porter Goss, who had a grudge or something.
Now, ABC is out with a leaked memo implicating Nancy Pelosi as being in the loop on torture.
Andrew Sullivan buys in completely, ignoring the caveat. He's been saying she was in on it for weeks, but I never saw a citation.
Today, he doesn't mention this:
and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened.

Do I think Nancy knew and didn't speak out against it? I don't know. Neither does ABC, nor Andrew Sullivan. News at 11.

R.I.P. Marilyn French

I never read Friedan, or Steinem or deBouvior (sp? wrong, I know, this is a blog) but I did read The Women's Room and internalized it along with Confessions of a High School Prom Queen and Fear of Flying.
In fact, I made my teenage daughter read a chapter from one of her books and synopsize it for me as punishment for something or other unrelated to feminism.
Now, fair warning, the following quote is harsh. We don't talk this way anymore. Why not, I'm not sure. Cuz we have to fit in, even with ourselves I guess.
But I've never forgotten it. Nor, disagreed with it.

She was called anti-male after a character in the novel says: "All men are rapists, and that's all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes."

"Those words came from a character, and she was not a man-hater, and never said that in her personal life," Jenkins said. "But she wanted men to accept their part in the domination of women."

I did read Brownmiller and lots of others, in my own defense. Literally, my own defense.
Here's the NYT on French.

Not On My Tombstone

For Journophiles Only Dept.
The eminent Walter Pincus — "grizzled yet spry" — tells us what's wrong. I think David Simon has been sitting at his knee. For those of you looking for someone to deflate Pincus' right-on analysis, read down in comments to "young" Bill Dedman's take. Then a little further to learn that "computer assisted" guru Dedman needs to go back to his calculator. I'm betting Dedman's put all his eggs in the Internet basket and it's not paying off, is it?
Where's all that advertising money go now, anyway?
Somebody answer that one.

Mr. Spicy Mustard

Look, I really, really like Obama. But this is politics, folks, and it's dirtaaay, dirty I say. We all know that even though we like to be fooled into believing we don't have to worry, don't have to be vigilant any longer because the good guys are in charge now.
And much as I hate the major media (Sean Hannity yesterday made fun of Obama for asking for mustard on his burger and that's news today because, basically, there isn't any) even my gods let me down.
Today some NPR reporter was obviously just phoning it in on her report of singe-payer advocates protesting at in-the-pocket-of-insurance-companies Max Baucus' health care hearings.
Similarly, nowhere in Talking Points Memo's brief update that Rove will testify next month does it mention that he's protected to the gills. So don't get too excited as the date draws near because you will hear...crickets.
It was only in the comments section that I learned Rove will be behind closed doors, not under oath and all kinds of other caveats so you know nothing will come of the AG firing scandal. At least not yet. It's not only dirty, it's Kabuki.
In the meantime, another "citizen journalist" tells me more than I wanted to know about South Carolina lion Jim Clyburn's daughter. South Carolina. South Carolina. Chew on it.
I love Clyburn, I really do. I will never forget the TV interview in which he asked a few years back if Obama might be the first black president. "Well, maybe not the first," he joked.
(What was he thinking, Jesse Jackson, Jr.? Nah, he was just fucking with 'em.)
Anyway, the FCC seems to have a deliberately designated spot for adult children of people to whom political debt is owed. Think former chair Michael Powell. Yeah, that Powell.
Anyway, along comes Mignon Clyburn, in all her glory.
This is just a blog, but I will caution you that net neutrality is a very big deal that anyone who uses the intertubes needs to be aware of. I'll leave it to you to Google it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quote O' Teh Day

It's not fair to quote people out of context, but Contrarienne has never promised to be fair. Even if she had, she would have been lying.
Anyway, up pops the email awhile back and I am transported to another planet or plane of existence or something because it's as if it's written in Greek.
Here it is:

Have you tried the frozen kong treat? Stuff it with canned pumpkin and freeze it. Yummy goodness that takes some time to lick clean. For a special one, use a pupperoni like a little fuse in the small end of the kong - intermittant reinforcement keeps Bella occupied for a long time.
Blogspot people get copies of all comments via email, so just sit back and consider what you would have thought. Another plane of existence, right? I mean, frozen pumpkin? Kong treat? Pupperoni like a little fuse? At first, I thought it was some intertube porn sent to me by mistake.

But no, it's actually Mardie telling me how to deal with Shorty's personality under restriction, which I actually wrote about more than a day ago and have completely forgotten.
Or maybe it's because I just finished watching Lost, which is as undeciferable as ever and therefore very enjoyable.
Thanks, Mardie.

Desi at Don's

The lunch counter at Don's Pharmacy in Port Townsend, WA, is one of the last of its type. I can get a chocolate malt there made the old-fashioned was with real malt powder and spun in one of those old green mixers. And the cook actually makes her own soup and stuff.
But there's no guarantee Desiree will be there.
I took more and better pictures of her with her parents' permission, but my camera is being weird. I think it's the batteries.

Gens X And Y Opting Out On Organized Religion

What Andrew Sullivan calls the Christianists seem to have screwed themselves.
  Historically, the percentage of Americans who said they had no religious affiliation (pollsters refer to this group as the "nones") has been very small -- hovering between 5 percent and 10 percent. However, Putnam says the percentage of "nones" has now skyrocketed to between 30 percent and 40 percent among younger Americans.

Yesterday I listened carefully to Michael Chabon's wife describe to Terri Gross in detail her agonized choice to abort a wanted child (would have been No.3) after learning the high risk of severe damage, and her account of her first abortion as a young woman who basically saw no other choice.
To the Christianists, she is a murderer.
Gens X and Y don't see it that way. Neither do they regard same-sex marriage as a direct threat to their way of life. And their racial sensibilities are definitely not Nixonland.
And then, there's always this:

POTUSburgers: Day II

I do this because I can. Dopamine and opioids, mmm. Thanks, YouTube.
Biden had Swiss cheese and...wait for it...jalapeno PEPPERS!
Obama, ever the pragmatist, took a plain cheddar burger, lettuce and tomato. But spicy mustard.

UPDATE: Krugman and Stiglitz got roast beef prepared by White House chefs. Mmmm, I loves me some dopamine and opioids.

Foodie Alert: Dopamine And Opioids, Mmmm

Yeah, your mom put sugar in the peas to get you to eat them. And butter. Stuff not available to our ancestors in caves.
So how do we control this brain chemistry? Read the book, I guess.
You have to take the power out of the food by changing how you view the stimulus. It's food rehab. It's new learning on top of old learning—you never get rid of that old learning, those old neural circuits.
Never? Wait a minute.

Fingerpointing 101: Top 25 Sub Prime Culprits

Center for Public Integrity, taking journalism where it's supposed to go.
Money quote:
The banks that funded the subprime industry were not victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves, but enablers that bankrolled the type of lending threatening the financial system...U.S. and European banks poured huge sums into the subprime lending market due to unceasing demand for high-yield, high-risk bonds backed by home mortgages...
Oh, and 21 of them are out of business while we bail out their sugar daddies.

Headline O' Teh Day

Afghanistan's Only Known Pig Quaranteed
Afghanistan's only known pig has been locked in a room, away from visitors to Kabul zoo where it normally grazes beside deer and goats, because people are worried it could infect them with the virus popularly known as swine flu.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mystery Mormon Baptizes Obama Mom

A sincere act of charity, no doubt.
The LDS officially looks down on the practice, and have no idea how this could have happened. Unlike the Proposition 8 matter.
At the same time that Barack Obama sealed the Democratic nomination for president last year, someone in the Provo LDS Church temple was performing a baptism and temple rites for his dead mother.
The move is a serious breach of protocol for church members, who in the past have been criticized for performing such proxy baptisms for victims of the Holocaust.

Genius, Pure Genius

After reviewing Talking Points Memo's readers casting for the Jack Abramoff movie, I'm wishing for a mini-series instead. We already know Kevin Spacy will do Jack, but Chris Conner as Tom DeLay? And, and, and John Goodman and Laura Linney and, and, Aaron Ekhart...I'm breathless. A mere movie couldn't do justice to this cast — or this plot. My fave, Phillip Seymour H. as Grover Norquist.
They call it the Dream Team. Heh.

Honorary Contrarienne

How could I have forgotten Eurotrash after discovering her last year? And why isn't she on one of the blogrolls?
Because she hardly ever writes, that's why. But when she does, I hide in shame.
...and I couldn't find anyone to give me a lift and I was going to be terribly late, and I was very stressed out, so I stole a bicycle. But at least all my teeth didn't drop out, which is usually what happens at the end of my stress dreams.
Anyway, the president of Contrarienne — me — has nominated her for her wit, wisdom and anger.
The board — me — has met and unanimously approved.
Any nominations for similar positions will be gladly considered. Just remember, they must match Eurotrash's (punc?) class.
BTW, smashing recipe, too.

About This New Media Thingie

Contrarienne was absolutely flabbergasted to get 186 hits in one day after posting the vulva dress a few weeks ago.
But today has its own sweetness.
Of course, thanks to Stumbledupon, the vulva fans are still out there and trickling in.
But today we're also
hearing from Italy because of sculptor Kelly Bersheim's stunning photo of Santa Croce (and from Kelly herself, that lucky American living and working in Florence) and some of Mardie's Twitter buddies responding to her tweet about our posting of NPR's Mom Music. Most surprising are the people coming from viralvideos because apparently the video of American troops in Afghanistan plotting to pass out Bibles in direct contradiction of military policy against evangelizing is hitting the charts.
Contrarienne learned about it from Huffington Post and has since seen a headline referencing a Pentagon claim that the Bibles, produced in Afghani languages, were confiscated.
And it's only 6:21 p.m. on Tuesday. What will the rest of the week bring? Mother's Day, baby, Mother's Day, which Contrarienne will celebrate by attending a production of Gypsy at Port Townsend High School. And eating a hot dog from Dogs-A-Foot downtown.

Can't Make It Up

Who are the resident Republican fiction writers, anyway? I mean now that Updike's passed.
Oh, Bruce Willis. Right.
No, wait, Condi Rice.
Only in America Dept.
The Candies Foundation announced Tuesday it has appointed teen mom Bristol Palin as its new ambassador. The foundation, which encourages abstinence to prevent pregnancy among teenage girls, has chosen Palin to help promote National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy on May 6.

Oh, The Horror, The Horror

He takes Michelle to Citronelle. Joe gets a Ray's Hell burger. 
On the other hand, they're 10 oz. puddles of good. Wait, Joe, a heartbeat away? Did Nancy suggest this?
But seriously, folks, did W actually ever go out to eat after he became president?

Art: Port Townsend, WA

Public, but not publicly funded. Just anon gift to the passerby.


Who will go crazy sooner, Shorty, whose carefree puppy life has been temporarily interrupted by recovery from surgery (female, e.g. fertility elimination) or her person.
We took off the collar, meant to prevent her from licking and damaging her "wound" almost immediately, convinced that a few judidicious "no" commands would prevent it. So far so good.
But a bored puppy is a wonder to behold. Her appetite for "soft," read canned, food is prodigious. And so far this morning, she has made short shrift of one brand new hardcover book and one DVD cover, dismissed all old toys as "old toys" and reverted to barking at me for attention, something that ended weeks ago.
She must not be allowed to run or play or get wet or lick herself for two weeks. I do not see this happening.
Also this morning, she used her paws to splash all the water out of her bowl, then dragged it across the rug to a spot where she could attempt to eat it. Fortunately, it is ceramic.

First Day In Florence, May 1995

I was walking along the Arno on a street lined with expensive shops and hotels when I glanced casually to my left down a short, narrow passage that wasn't even a street. There at the end were huge naked men, the marble statue reproductions in front of the Uffizi.
I was shocked.
It was the lunch hour and I was waiting for things to open up again to secure the rental car I had ordered, and the "opera' tickets for a little theater piece that turned out to have only one song, lots of artistic agonizing in Italian and an audience of Italians dressed to the nines. I remember one bella figura wearing matching turquoise leather dress and coat.
I also discoverd Santa Croce that day and returned to it again and again. Dante is buried there. But it was a painting of perhaps the Madonna or Magdelene, dressed in red with a blue mantle from which her unruly black hair seemed to billow before the turbulent winds in the hills that drew me, a spriritual experience that remains with me to this day.
She was wild with something. An untamed woman. Rapture probably.
In that spirit, as I hunt for her online, I give you Kelly Bersheim's Santa Croce. I don't think she would mind.

Mom Music

I thought it would never happen.
P.S. NPR, in my opinion one of the best Web sites on the intertubes, won 7 Webbys this week.
Maybe because they're good writers up there. Worth a bookmark.
She might be a benevolent and nurturing giver of kisses, or a coldly manipulative taskmaster, or even a clump of wire onto which you clung helplessly as part of a twisted social experiment. But chances are good that you still feel the pull of guilt and social obligation surrounding Mother's Day.So why not tell Mom you love her — without doing so directly, of course — and send her a link to this page? These four hours of motherhood-themed songs (from Smokey Robinson to Dvorak, from The Pretenders to Lucinda Williams) will give her something to listen to while she waits in vain for your phone call.
Wait, Laurie Anderson's Oh, Superman, possibly my favorite "song" of all time, is on the play list. Huh? Guess I'll have to listen now.

UPDATE: My pathetic browser, Camino, kept quitting on me on this. But it was quitting yesterday, too. Fair warning, maybe too much traffic?

UPDATE II: Yes, my browser cooperated and I'm listening. Surprise winner so far, John Lennon's Mother.
Momma, don't go. Daddy, come home

And Then There's Black Carbon

How's that wood-burning thing working out for you, huh?
And Surprise O' Teh Week (it's only Tuesday), Inhofe want's to know more.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shoppie Alert: Filene's Basement Bankrupt

Never been to any one of them myself, but even a thrift store advocate has heard of Filene's. Sign of the times.

Why We Are In Afghanistan

Something the major media are unlikely to cover.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Quote O' Teh Day

In the end,
we will conserve only what we love,
we will love only what we understand,
we will understand only what we are taught.

-Baba Dioum

Posted at the Bronx Zoo and quoted in a blog entry at Daily Kos today lamenting the closing of the nocturnal animal exhibit and the plans to ship the animals to other zoos.
Me, I hate zoos. But I understand the necessity.

Why Women Love Oxytocin

It's the orgasm, honey, it's the orgasm.
I say let's hear it for the bonobos, so sexual that their organs actually drag on the ground.
Anyway, Andrew Sullivan found this incredibly boring, highly speculative and ultimately unsatisfying academic discussion on why women have orgasms.
I read the whole thing, but do not recommend it.
Whatever the reality, it seems clear that without postulating “stories” of one sort of another, we’ll never know the truth. As it is, someday we will.
Time will tell. News at 11. Stay tuned. Or not.