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    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    A Quote Only A Genre Geek Could Love

    From the Economist's review of McCain's Tuesday speech. (H/t Daily Kos)

    Addendum: OK, I lied, there's one surprise: The terrifying death rictus grin-and-snicker after every joke line. I don't know whether Americans are ready to vote for Mr McCain, but I am prepared to pay him one million dollars not to release deadly Smilex gas over the New Year's Eve crowd at midnight.

    For those wondering about the reference, go here.

    I'm Still Voting Obama, But

    I think this is a winning bumper sticker. (H/t to Pandagon)

    Monday, June 02, 2008

    The Dweeze Poetry Project: Sun and Moon

    I used to write a lot of poetry. I know, I know. Big surprise there. But I've seldom shared it with anyone.

    Anyway, tonight I was trying to explain to E why the sun could melt ice cream but the moon couldn't. As I was doing so, I realized "Hey! I wrote a poem that talked about this a long time ago. Too bad I have no place to ever publish that, and other poems." Then, after a long pause, I realized again "I could post it, and others, on the blog!" Now, I know Voltaire (I think it was Voltaire, and I'm too damned lazy to google it) once said "Beware a man who reads his poems in public, for he probably has other faults" but a: I'm not actually reading my poetry, and 2: It can't be more embarassing than some of the stuff I've put up here. So, here is the first post in the ongoing Dweeze Poetry Project. This is called "Sun and Moon," written in the mid-90s.

    The moon has no light of its own
    It can only reflect the light of the sun
    I can sympathize, for I
    I have no light of my own
    I can only reflect the light of you

    A Word Of Advice To Myself

    Dear Dweeze:

    Just because you bought a new blender, doesn't mean you have to have a double-sized chocolate malt every night.


    Dunkin Donuts, K-Mart, And The Appropriate Response

    Jolene briefly touches on the stupidest story from last week, the successful attempt by the right-wing fringe to save America by making Rachel Ray change her clothing accessories. For those that missed it, Dunkin Donuts (the clear favorite to win the 2008 Award for Corporate Cowardice) had a promotional photo with Rachel Ray wearing what some claimed was a keffiyeh (the traditional scarf worn in Middle-Eastern cultures). This was interpreted to be a shot across the bow of patriotic Amurricins everywhere, one of our biggest corporate shills wearing the Mooslim scarf of terror. Nevermind that it contained floral patterns and colors seldom found in true keffiyehs; nevermind you can see Lower Upper Class women wearing them almost anywhere you go in this country. It was a horrible thing for her to do at a time when we are at war with all of the Middle East, including those Israelis who don't agree with us, and the bold members of the lunatic fringe, led by wild-eyed howler monkey Michelle Malkin, stood up, screamed, and got Dunkin Donuts to pull the ad.

    (Jolene links to this story in the Boston Glode. A funnier version of the issue can be found, as per usual, at Sadly, No!, where you can find an even funnier post about the right-wing furry who commissions comic art of himself as a skunk fucking underage skunks who was among those leading the charge that Obama lied about his great-uncle's military service during WWII. No, really. I'm not making that up.)

    Last week also saw a very interesting article from Rick Perlstein, author of the new book Nixonland, a history of the conservative movement in the 70s. Perlstein talks about how many conservative commentators have asked him why he's the only liberal to treat the conservative movement seriously:

    First question: "It's my general sense that liberal or popular historians don't seem to be very interested in conservative history and ideology. Why are you?" In other words: why is the left--except for Perlstein!--so condescending that they refuse to take the right seriously.

    Perlstein then details how not only are many on the left taking the conservative movement seriously, but have actually used that movement as a model for today's liberal movement. He offers plenty of examples of liberals taking conservatives seriously. Others in the left blogosphere chime in, providing further examples.

    Why do I mention these two things together? Because, while it is important to respect elements of the conservative movement, it is hard, if not impossible, to take seriously people worried about Rachel Ray starting a jihad. That is, certain opinions not only call up condescension, they demand it.

    Here's an example closer to home. If you spend any time at all reading the Press-Citizen's online comment pages, you'll find a lot of barely disguised racism. Sure, it's covered in code words applicable only to Iowa City, words like "Broadway Apartments" and "Chicago transplants". Now, I've been in the area for over 30 years now, and while Iowa City isn't the "whiteville" it once was, it's a long, long way from being overrun by minorities like some at the Press-Citizen message boards claim. But when you see someone posting about how they feel unsafe going to K-Mart at any time of day because of the number of "those people" you see there, you don't know how to react. On the one hand, you want to take the concerns seriously, because this is obviously someone expressing fears they truly feel. On the other hand, it's such an idiotic fear that it's hard to take someone who would express it seriously. I go in that K-Mart every now and then on one of my area toy quests, and I've never felt the least bit threatened.

    There are no easy answers, at least none I see. It almost seems that making fun of a person who has that fear, or who fears a keffiyeh, might have a better chance of reaching them, or at least reaching someone who could possibly be swayed by them, then trying a reasoned argument. The reasoned argument is sure to fall on deaf ears. Maybe mockery won't.

    Sunday, June 01, 2008

    Best News Story Of The Week?

    Easily this one:

    North Liberty Police are investigating reports of a bear along Muddy Creek and the bike trail.

    Dispatchers with the North Liberty Police Department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office reported they received 11 calls of a black bear lurking along the CRANDIC railroad tracks and bike trail along Muddy Creek south of Zeller Street in North Liberty. Most of the reports were on Wednesday, with the latest coming in around 10 p.m. Wednesday night, North Liberty Police Chief James Warkentin said.


    Police called in the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa City Animal Control, who spent parts of Thursday searching for the bear. Tim Thompson, a biologist with the IDNR, said he investigated reports of bear tracks in North Liberty around 6 p.m. Wednesday, only to determine they came from a dog. However, he said it was likely that if a bear was loose, it was a smaller animal, about the size of a large dog, and possibly somebody’s pet. He said the publicity surrounding its sighting could bring its owner forward. He also said the bear likely would be fairly harmless unless it was provoked or cornered.

    “They’re primarily herbivores,” Thompson said. “They’ll scurry away like a raccoon. It’s probably running terrified.”

    Now, when people were first talking about this at work, I flashed back to where we used to live outside of North Liberty. It was a little development (maybe 12-15 houses total) built in a wooded area near the lake. And I do mean wooded area - in summer time, you could only see the houses right next to us and the house across the street. Everything else was surrounded by trees and hilly terrain, and a bear in that area didn't seem too unlikely. After all, I had seen deer and fox in the yard on several occasions.

    But no, the area where the "bear" was seen was not in the woods, but in a fairly open area. So the chances of it actually being a bear seem pretty remote. Unless it was one of those hobo bears that jumped a train and then jumped off there. Or a bigfoot. Bigfoot is my best guess.

    Anyway, we had a lot of fun with the idea at work, finding bear pictures online to put on our area maps. But trust me - if you Google Bear Pictures, read the results carefully before clicking on the link. You'll be glad you did.

    Not That I'm Complaining, But

    Can anyone explain to me why gas is $.10 a gallon cheaper in Williamsburg than it is in Iowa City? It's the same question that's always bothered me about Cedar Rapids, except now I can get the cheaper gas without driving someplace I wouldn't otherwise be driving. You would think that there wouldn't be any additional cost factor to delivering gas to Iowa City that doesn't also apply to delivering gas twenty miles away in Cedar Rapids or Williamsburg. So what is the difference? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?