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Friday, March 28, 2008

Sabrina Harman

This is Sabrina Harman. She is the rather infamous US Army Specialist that was court martialed (along with others) for her conduct at the Abu Ghraib prison. A coworker showed me some of her photos recently appearing in the New Yorker. This one is haunting me... I guess because she looks like a smiling, optimistic, all-American Rosie the Riveter. And, devoid of any sophisticated artistic intentions, she is being juxtaposed here next to the disgusting rotting body of a murdered Iraqi prisoner of war. Somehow these military idiots armed with a cheap digital camera concocted the most chilling and deplorable symbol of American foreign policy that I can imagine. If I were an Iraqi, this (not our "freedom") is why I would hate America.*

* Since I'm not an Iraqi, and my interaction with America is much more layered than this... I don't hate America. I am very sad about where we are right now as a nation. And images like this reinforce why I voted against Bush, and why I'll vote against McCain. I know McCain is no fan of military torture, but he'll continue a warmongering foreign policy that is doomed to recreate situations like this and worse.


Friday Afternoon at Work

Yesterday, though it was bitter cold and windy, the sun shone through my office window from 4:30 to 5:00 causing me to actually put my head down on my desk and get all catnappy at the end of my workday.

Today, I'm watching wet snowflakes dump against a cold grey sky over the tops of barren spindly trees.

I rotate and water my african violet. And sip my cup of decaf. Life is good.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh Yeah, I Still Have a Blog

Sorry about the lack of content lately. I've been all wrapped up in playing fantasy baseball. This is something that I've avoided for the last three years because of how addictive it is. I used to spend my afternoons refreshing ESPN.com updates on every game being played, looking at how all of my players were doing. It was worse than crack. So I walked away and vowed never to return.

But a funny thing happened this year. I started getting very involved with a blog called Lookout Landing. We actually get together and play softball, whiffleball and football year round. We meet up at the bar occasionally to drink beer and have developed some nice friendships. Some of those guys invited all the Lookout Landing regulars to play in a fantasy baseball league. Next thing I knew, I was signed up for three different teams!

So... the official baseball season actually began two days ago. The Oakland Athletics and the Boston Redsox opened the season by playing a two-game series in Japan. The rest of the regular season doesn't start for another week or so. This was just an exhibition thing. Guess who was up at 3:00am this morning to catch some of the game live (I had to see how Rich Harden was pitching, since he's on two of my fantasy baseball teams.)

Luckily, I'm fully aware of how cracked out this behavior is (and OMG I'm tired today.) I'm hoping that no intervention is necessary. If I decide to completely abandon Stave It Off, or start only writing about fantasy baseball, someone please punch me. Mebbe I can chalk it up to how much I just love baseball.

BTW, Olaiya is playing on my softball team this year! That totally rocks. I always wanted to date a softball player.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Coolest Video Game Evah?


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Reverend's Right

Fox News is spreading a fear campaign... and the people are biting. Obama has had to publicly distance himself from the "controversial" comments of his pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It would be great if Obama could stand up and translate what the Reverend is saying so that white people wouldn't be so afraid. Since Barak has to tread the middle path, I'll try.

The reverend is VERY concerned about the day-to-day racism that poor black citizens have to deal with in today's America.

The reverend is NOT saying that Jesus was literally black. He is comparing the plight of the Jewish people in a land ruled by the Roman empire to that of black people in white America. I'm sure half of America freaked out when they heard a "crazed militant negro" saying that Jesus was black. Listen harder you Fox News loving idiots.

The reverend IS suggesting that Jesus would have cared about the plight of poor black people.

The reverend IS saying that most American presidents (and even candidates) have been rich white men. I'm not sure why this is controversial. This seems unequivocally true.

The reverend IS saying that Hillary (even though a woman) fits the mold of rich, white privilege.

The reverend is addressing a black church audience. The people running up to him and "hitting him on the back" or standing up and shouting are not being disrespectful or assaultive. They are actually encouraging/agreeing with the speaker.

The reverend NEVER actually attacks the white race... but he does extol the character of Obama as a champion of the underprivileged, essentially comparing Obama's path to that of his lord Jesus Christ. He even draws the parallel that Obama is being betrayed (as Jesus was) by his own people. He IS excoriating black America for claiming that Obama is not "black enough" by comparing them to the Jews that betrayed Jesus.

The reverend is clearly suggesting that America, which IS currently run by rich white men, is not the best environment for black people, and that black voters ought to support Obama over Clinton because she will never truly understand their experience.

I do not understand how this is being construed as hate speech. This is an emotional sermon from a black person to a black audience about his belief that there is ONE candidate that truly understands them. Would anyone complain if a Planned Parenthood representative spoke out that Hillary is the only candidate that can really empathize with the female perspective on reproductive rights issues? No. What if she spoke passionately about the persecution suffered by young women unable to choose whether or not they carry a child... about a history of back-alley medical mishaps and family disownment? Still no. You would nod your head and judge just how relevant that information is to you. And that's exactly how white America should respond to Reverend Wright.

Urged to disavow Reverend Wright by various groups, Barak Obama had this to say... and it's pretty awesome:

"Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way. But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man.

"The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS... Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

"And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe. These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love."


Saturday, March 15, 2008

People More Talented Than I

Irish Molly's step-da Greg has posted a very stylish little website showing off his drawerings. Click on the sample to load up his page, then click on "The Daily Drawings" to be wowed. So far, he's talking about printing a book, but I have no idea if he's selling anything.

Meanwhile, Olaiya's almost step-da Brian is sharing his art on his own new blog,
The Art of Being Brian. Both are inspiring.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Return of the Queen Party

Carole "Sachet" Vacher just flew back to Seattle for a long weekend vacation... the perfect excuse to host a big ol' party at my apartment. I invited all the old crew to come fete Carole and hear about life in Montreal. A few people made up excuses about being out of town, but we wound up with a rollicking crowd of 13, and I think Carole felt very honored.

Diane and Courtney generously offered to come over early and help me get ready.

Courtney made a smashing kale and chickpea soup to go along with my lasagna and some appetisers. Nedrita brought some lovely sharp Spanish cheese and chutney to go with Tall Grass bread. Then the beautiful and talented Emily showed up with an amazing arroz con pollo y camarones dish.

I think that Carole really just came back to surround herself in the company of good looking men. Here she is lapping up the attention. ;-)


Friday, March 07, 2008

In Memoriam

As Soapy pointed out yesterday, a legend has passed away. Gary Gygax is commemorated, in cartoon form, here. Nice to see the Order of the Stick make room for a Gygax appearance, and wax sentimental for a minute. Tucked away in my closet, I too have a little box filled with mysterious red translucent dice.

I tend to plot people (especially politicians) on the alignment graph that is integral to Dungeons and Dragons. The graph works a lot like the Pirate/Ninja, Monkey/Robot meme. But in this case, one axis represents the continuum from Good (usually defined as self-sacrificing or concerned for the well-being of the downtrodden) to Evil (usually defined as greedy/cruel.) The second axis spans the range from Chaotic (random, unpredictable) to Lawful (planned, organized and systematic.) The grid looks like this:

The most effective villains in D&D were Lawful Evil... they were the Dick Cheneys of the land... ruthless robber barons and devils of the Nine Hells. Lawful Good characters were usually prissy paladin types like John Edwards. John McCain is Neutral Good. He isn't quite lawful, but clearly isn't chaotic either. His limp "maverick" status places him in neutral-land. And while some would argue that he's more evil than good... that's only because you're missing one of the true shortfalls of "Good" types. In D&D terms, Good spends an awful lot of time smiting Evil. McCain's willingness to engage in perpetual war doesn't make him evil... just slightly deluded.

Barack is Lawful Neutral. Neutrality on the Good/Evil continuum often comes with perspective and wisdom... so this is not a bad thing. Hillary is more true neutral. She's much like Obama, but probably willing to bend the rules a bit more, sliding her from Lawful into the Neutral zone.

Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are Chaotic Evil. They don't care who they hurt. They are all about self-aggrandisement. They have no true allegiances, only temporary alliances with those that will help them line their pockets. They are the random monsters most often found on the end of a paladin's spear. They are the trolls/goblins/kobolds/bugbears of the world.

Gygax and company also introduced another brilliant grid... this time juxtaposing Race and Class. Existing in the Tolkien high fantasy realm, race could mean Human, Gnome, Dwarf, Hobbit (called Halflings), or Elf... and, since the game has evolved into dizzying levels of complexity, you also get to choose whether you are wood elf, a high elf, a dark elf, etc. Class refers to your occupation. Are you a grunt: a dimwitted barbarian with a big axe like Conan? Are you an aspiring mage like Harry Potter? Or perhaps a sneaky shadowy type like the Gray Mouser. It's harder to pinpoint the race and class of various politicians. But I'm going to call McCain a dwarven fighter (high constitution, sense of honor, general thickheadedness... although real dwarves would mock his total lack of manly facial hair.) Huckaby is a hobbit ranger. Hillary is a human wizard (intelligent, untrustworthy, usually up to things that leave the rest of us scratching our heads.) And Obama is a high elf cleric (stiff and sanctimonious at times, but generally well-meaning.)


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not Bloody Likely

Scarlett Johansson is auctioning off a date with her to the premier of her new film this July. The proceeds benefit OxFam. Currently there are 96 bids and the total is up to $15,000.

I think if everyone just pitches in a few thousand dollars I could win this thing. If you are able to sponsor my fundraising, I'll be sure to post some great photos and myself and Scarlett at the event. If you're unable to attend a Full Belly Event, this is a great way to show support for my charitable endeavors anyway.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunshine, Lollipops, etc.

The days are gorgeous. Spring beckons, in a way that only happens after months of winter. A few images below... a remembrance of why I don't live in California.

Sunlight streaming through my dining room windows

Courtney absorbing some vitamin D

Blossoms forming on the trees right outside my windows