Wednesday, November 29, 2006

People for Intelligent Treatment of Facts

Apparently PETA has a standard letter of condemnation they send to organizations that do "Living Nativity Scenes" (ie, those with real poeple and/or animals).

According to reports, they mistakenly sent one to a church that does theirs with live people, but no animals.

I especially liked a couple of excerpts...

Jackie Vergerio, PETA's captive animals in entertainment specialist, said ..."Those animals are subject to all sorts of terrible fates in some cases," ... "Animals have been stolen and slaughtered, they've been raped, they've escaped from the nativity scenes and have been struck by cars and killed. Just really unfathomable things have happened to them."

Now, I'm assuming Vergerio is correct about what's happened. But I fail to make a terribly strong connection between nativity scenes per se and those sad occurrences. That type of thing happens to animals -- it's happening right now, in fact -- and it doesn't have that much to do with Xmas creches, except where you're bringing untrained farm animals into a busy city area.
And the rape part? C'mon -- when that kind of stuff happens, it's because pet-type human-animal contact* is going to occasionally result in weird and bad stuff for the animals (and incidentally, probably just as often bad stuff for the humans.)
It has nothing to do with nativity scenes -- I have a hard time imagining that Xmas time churches around North America are full of pastors and parishioners interfering with the holiday donkey.

The thing about PETA is that they do a lot of good stuff, and who can argue with treating animals ethically? But what I see here is that -- as usual -- PETA values animal life and animal welfare far above that of humans. And the no live nativity scene policy reveals their official-but-seldom-loudly-stated agenda to eventually do away with pet ownership entirely.

In my opinion, they lack a fundamental understanding of the nature of life. They want to create a world that has never existed, and will never exist -- one where animals have lives of peace, contentment, and inasmuch as they can experience it -- happiness. No hunger, no discomfort, no death -- all of which are apparently caused by meddling humans.

But the reality is that without human intervention, most animals get eaten by other animals, and as often as not the getting-eaten process starts while the eatee is still alive.
You hear dumb things like "Humans are the only animals who kill for sport" and other such nonsense (ever watched a cat with a mouse/bird/any animal that moves? ever watched a lion play with a baby gazelle?)
Nature is brutal and cruel; life in the wild is short and usually ends painfully; being a pet in a caring household is a far better life than most animals could ever hope for in any other configuration.

In other news, I also thought it was kind of cute what the pastor said:
"No one's come by protesting or thrown bloodstained fur at us or anything," Armstrong said. "We even use a plastic baby."
Maybe somebody should explain that PETA doesn't bring the fur -- they just bring the paint to throw on *your* furs.
But the plastic baby policy is nice, and it makes me smile, not sure why...

*Let us acknowledge that animals-as-food has a pretty consistent negative outcome for the animal. As the bumper sticker says: Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty, murder.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

more about dreams

You've probably heard people say that you shouldn't wake kids up when they're in the middle of a nightmare. People say this because they are stupid.

The usual reason given is that kids need to work through dreams themselves, or some such crap; apparently, if you wake them up you interrupt the child's process of resolving the nightmare on their own.

As if nightmares resolve themselves. As if someone did a study where they waited till kids had nightmares, and then woke up half of them in the middle and let half of them sleep, and kept track of how many turned out to be Jeffrey Dahmer.

I *can* see how someone came up with this: we probably have a certain number of nightmares that we don't remember the next day, so someone said "Hey, if we dont' wake up in the middle, we're happier because we don't remember the nightmare in the morning!" And from there was born the idea the waking people up from a nightmare is bad.

But I can tell you I've had plenty of nightmares I wish someone had woken me up from. I see absolutely no value in letting a child cry and sweat and thrash and whimper in fear when by waking them up you can
a) stop the nightmare, and
b) offer comfort.

I don't believe that nightmares "resolve themselves". I think it's unhealthy for any number of reasons to let sleep be a time of fear for kids. I think the sooner you can stop a nightmare and replace it with hugs, the better.

Any other opinion on this subject is of no value. ;-)

Friday, November 17, 2006

And speaking of stereotypes...

You've probably seen these before, but there are some new (to me) entries in this version...

Political Science for Dummies

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.So?

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.It is expensive and sour.

You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

You have two cows.
Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows.
You are surprised when one cow drops dead.
You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

You have all the cows in Afghanistan , which are two.
You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.
You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.

You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.

You have two bulls.
Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.

You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.

You have millions of cows.
They make real California cheese.
Only five speak English.
Most are illegal.
Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

dreamin' my life away

You know how one of the most boring things in the world is to listen to a person drone on about a dream they had? How they leverage in unnecessary details that have no bearing on the actual story, and at the end you have wasted 10 minutes listening to something irrelevant to your life, the whole time wanting to poke yourself -- or the other person -- in the eye with a fork?

Well, because I'm incredibly self-absorbed I thought you might want to hear about my dream last night...

Outside after a fashion show, one of the models -- a tall, thin (imagine that) young black woman -- gave me a doll to hold.

A car approached, and somehow removing the doll's hair was what was necessary in order to open a gate to let the car through.

Then it turned out that by removing the doll's hair, I had removed the model's actual real hair. It was long and thick and shiny and I was stressing out. If you tried to come up with a person less likely to be happy about me messing with her hair, a young black woman (and a model!) is probably as far as you can go in that direction. Unless maybe it's Wolverine.

So while I'm trying to figure out how to tell the girl what I've done, the hair started turning into a dead boa constrictor in my hands.

Then I woke up.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this means I'm ready for the white jacket with extra-long sleeves. But if I have to go, at least I'll go talking about myself...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

now, was that nice?

Cindy and I had our caricatures drawn by a street artist. I'm vain enough that I wasn't flattered, but it made us both laugh, anyway...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Categorical Imperative rides again

Wanted to buy four chairs at Target; store I went to had only two in stock.

Girl brought out two boxes and said "these are ringing up wrong, not sure why. I overrode it for you." Then she gave me a list of other Target stores where I could buy the other two chairs.

Got home and opened the boxes and there are two chairs in each box, which would be why they were ringing up "wrong".

Trying to think of a way that it's okay to skip going back to Target and giving them their money, but not having much luck. The best I came up with was that if I just keep the chairs it'll go down as shrinkage, but if I go back it'll get that girl in trouble. Weak, yes. Anybody got any better ideas before I have to obey the dictates of the CI and cough up another $129?

Friday, November 10, 2006

smart stuff

These guys have brains so big I'm afraid they might pop out their nose...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

points to ponder

If I go to a public restroom and just use a stand-up urinal with no hand-level splashback, should I wash my hands?
We'll assume I didn't just pee on my hand. I just touched a part of my body that got its share -- some might say even more than its share -- of cleaning in the shower this morning.
Aren't the tap handles or paper towel crank likely to be dirtier than my hand at this point?
I just ask the questions, I leave the answers to you.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

teenager logic

Let's say you're carrying something heavy and bulky, like a mattress, down the hallway into a bedroom.
Let's say you bump open the door to the bedroom just as someone else was about to leave that bedroom.

Reaction of normal person:
1) Jump back out of the way.
2) Hold open the door.
3) Perhaps look around to see if they can clear your path in some way.

Reaction of teenager:
Attempt to squeeze past you and the mattress as you're in the act of trying to carry it through the door, placing themselves precisely in your path as if your activities are irrelevant in the face of their pressing need to be about their business.

I'm not mad, I'm just saying.

it's a barefaced lie

Shaving takes time and it rips up my face. Plus, studies have revealed that women smile at me more when I have a beard.
But Sam requested that I shave it, so for her birthday I promised her one week of barefaced Dad.
Which lasted three days, after which she asked me to grow it back...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On a lighter and more cynical note

It's Nov 7th today. Can someone please explain to me why my vote matters?

People who believe in voting can be pretty passionate about this issue.
And I agree that if 90% of the electorate voted, the country would be better served than when 40% do.
But I fail to see how this translates to any individual vote being important.

And I think we vastly underestimate the importance of being informed -- we're told to simply vote, as if that were enough. AFAIC, it would be FAR better for the country if everyone got some counseling and education than if everyone voted.

I completely identify with the apathy many voters (especially young minority voters, let's say) feel. When everyone running is repugnant, and you don't see anyone you feel would represent you, why bother?

None of the most significant social changes in our country (independence from Britian, ending slavery, women in the workplace, civil rights) came about through voting; they came about as a result of war, or of civil disobedience.

I'm tempted to think that proponents of voting have a lot of emotional security wrapped up in the idea that voting works, that things aren't irretrievably messed up, and when people (okay, me) contradict that, it makes them antsy and annoyed.

Tell me I'm wrong.

This makes me sad

...and frustrated, and a whole host of other things.

It's a woman's very candid expression of resentment and anger she has toward her husband after years covering infertility treatment, pregnancy, and birth. She freely and frequently admits that some of it is petty or irrational, yet the feelings remain. And clearly not just for her, but for nearly all of her commenters as well.

Some of it makes me annoyed with the husbands involved (hers and her commenters') -- what's up wit' dat, guys?

Some of it blows me away (to confess that is to perhaps reveal how little know about women, I don't know...) I want to say to the wives "are you actually serious?"

Most of it just makes me ask questions:
- do most women see these feelings as normal? reasonable?
- are women aware how difficult it is for a lot of men to understand these feelings?
- why aren't there classes to teach men about this stuff?
- who in the world ever dreamed up the idiotic idea that men and women are basically the same, with the difference being plumbing and a bit of socialization?
- did Hannah feel some of these things? (Note: I already know the answer to this one.)
- what are the implications of this kind of thinking WRT the institution of marriage?
- what would be the reaction of men or women to a similar list of resentments from a man's POV? (eg, "I know it's petty, but I resent her because I can't sleep with my secretary.")
- clearly, much grief could be avoided if men understood better where women are coming from; but is the converse also true?: that if women understood men's priorities and feelings better, they might not feel so resentful? or is it so much an issue of emotion that it doesn't matter what you *know*, feelings are going to be what they are?
- is it reasonable or productive for men to want women to understand their perspective on issues like the above?
- does the tremendous physical and emotional effort/sacrifice this woman has made entitle her to a little irrational rage about things?

My impression was (and she mentions this) that it's not so much about logic, but rather about how a person feels. Which brings me to this: if it's not about A-therefore-B, how does it make sense to say "I feel rage *about* X." It feels more like she's been left with a reservior of general, non-specific rage and unhappiness, and some of the things she resents about her husband or his behaviour are simply convenient handles to hang it on.

Or maybe I'm wrong.

But I bet I'm right about this: this blog returns far too often to gender issues, and it's getting to be a bore. All I can say is: Sorry, kids. They tell you to write from your own experience, and this has been big for me for the last 15-20 yrs of my life. Maybe I'll cut it out soon, but no promises.

a few more flood pics

The water's gone down quite a bit today, but it's still raining pretty hard, so who knows what will happen next.
The really cool thing is that now if I live to be 80, I can rear back in my chair and say "Waaall, I r'member back in the flood of ought-six..." So that'll be pretty cool.

Monday, November 06, 2006

40 days and 40 nights

Much of the little town where I live flooded today. Houses sitting in little lakes, streets closed, cops going door to door evacuating people, etc.

My new rental house and Hannah's place are both fine (so far), but i drove out to our old neighborhood (thru water up to the headlights on my Dodge Dakota) and the home we just sold looks like at least the garage is flooded.

Wonder what the new owners think -- it has to suck to buy a house and have it flood two months later. The picture below is lousy, but all I had with me was my phone, sorry.

I went down to the Public Works area and helped fill & deliver sandbags for a few hours. It was raining and dirty and miserable work, but people were in good spirits. It might even be considered sort of fun, maybe by someone who had never had any actual fun before, and had only read about it or something. And if your house wasn't flooding...

T-A-R-P spells tarpaulin

I almost never talk about myself. Unless, say, I'm awake or something.

But allow me here to state that I believe myself to be really good at packing things*. Suitcases, backpacks, vehicles, storage units. I've helped a lot of people move, I worked at construction sites in college, I have a lot of experience with loads, how they shift, and how to tie that shift down. And how to put on tarps so they stay tight and don't flap themselves into rags.

Side note: It's hard to imagine how this post could be more pointless. One might hope there's an interesting story to follow; there *is* a story, but it's a bit on the so-boring-I-have-to-kill-myself-with-a-stapler side.

Anyway, I bought a dresser I saw on craigslist.

When I got to the place, the seller (a really nice young woman) also convinced me I needed to buy a futon she had.

Side note #2: while we’re discussing the price, the seller’s friend showed up, and started flirting with me. I’ve had hints before, but dang-a-lang -- I was half afraid this woman was going to take her clothes off and lie down on the futon. I have no idea why I mention this – I think maybe it’s a desperate attempt to make this story interesting. (“Not working, captain – I can’t hold her – we’re going down…”)

So aaaanyway: this being Seattle, it's naturally raining, so we have to tarp the load. Unfortunately the seller fancied herself a boy scout and insisted on telling me how to do it. More trouble than it’s worth to tell her how great I am, so I let her take over.
As always, we ended up with ropes at lame angles that made them come loose later, and tarps being held in place by friction. Within 5 miles everything was flapping, and the furniture was getting wet.

This story is almost over, I promise.

I stopped under an overpass to fix everything, and in about 10 seconds there was a cop behind me asking for my license and telling me I was a danger to myself and others. He also noticed my plates were expired. I told him I’d sent the check in a cpl wks ago, but dispatch/records told him they knew nothing of such a check. I could tell he felt sorry for me standing outside his window dripping wet, and I guess he didn’t have the heart to make life worse for me or something. He made me go get my checkbook and show him the carbon copy of the check I’d written to Dept of Licensing. He said, “I should ticket you, but just get your truck off the road at the next exit.”

Then he drove away, and this blog post mercifully came to an end.

*All you degenerates who want to make a lewd joke right now, stop it.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Anything worth doing... worth doing well. Treadmill dancing. Yay!

(Thx to Si for this link.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

happy hallowe'en

Wandered around 6th Street in downtown Austin on Tuesday...

I thot this was one of the best -- it really looked like a giant had just cut off his own head and was holding it in his hand.

This guy was totally in character. I asked "Can I take your picture?" He smiled cheesily and said in perfect Willy Wonka style, "Of COURSE you can!"

These two guys were dressed like 17th (?) century French aristocracy -- and their costumes were entirely hand-made, from newspaper.

Bobo was terrific, as if Stephen King had created him on the spot.

This Pharoah got mistaken for the pope, but he bore it stoically.

My friends.

The cop I understood, and the sexy nurse. The other guy, I wasn't sure if he was just a SWAT guy, or if he's from a movie/TV show -- Stargate? Star Wars? Anyone know?

This guy's a comic/movie character called Hellboy; he made the costume (including the gun) himself.

And as is the custom lately, every other costume was a "Sexy ____" (insert whatever you want here -- cop, nurse, pilot, nun, insane person, etc.) As Carlos Mencia said, maybe they should change the name from Halloween to "National Dress-Like-A-Whore Day"... Not that there's anything wrong with that.