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Archive for November, 2005

Yeah, I’m on a Harry Potter kick. This always happens after a read-through, because I’ve spent so much time with the books that I’ve got a bit of a firewhiskey hangover. I must have a lot in common with other readers, because discussion groups for the books are always booming. Sometimes they’re fun. Other times they’re a really bad idea.

Connie Lane points me to the latest strange piece of literary analysis for Potterphiles.

I am always amazed at the way the books act as a prism through which everyone sees a bit of themselves. That’s probably a mark of good literature. But I really don’t see Ron pulling an Ike Turner in Book 7.

LOST SPOILER UPDATE

Ron better not hook up with anybody Kate knows. That’s for sure.

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We’ve come to a pretty pass when someone seems to think that I am in favour of TennCare.

How exactly does one be a libertarian in a country that has gone so far down the big government road? All you can do is choke on the exhaust in the certain knowledge that you have indeed missed the bus. It seems like all the modern libertarian can do is sit back, moan about Government These Days and post a “porkbusters” logo on his blog. Being a libertarian in 2005 is like being Anthony Michael Hall in 16 Candles. We just know deep down that we’re a solid hit–except we don’t actually have any girls who are interested.

Take TennCare. I think it is a bad implementation of a hideous idea. I love that it exists because it is the most fantastic cautionary tale imaginable. I love being able to say “Do you see how screwed up it is? That’s what happens when you let the Government Take Care Of You. You die because you didn’t fill out the correct form on time. Welcome to Brazil, ladies and gentlemen.”

The hardest thing for me to accept is that the seperation of Church and State is effectively dead. These things that are the bailiwick of the individual–caring for the sick and needy–are now being handled by our drunken Uncle Sam. Jesus asked His Church to do unto the least, but we’ve been happy to say “here are my taxes. You go ahead.” I’ve even had more than one Christian tell me that they count part of their taxes as their tithe, since it goes to social programs.

Let’s have a moment of silence.

Okay. We’re back. Hope none of you fell into a giggle loop. So, we’ve let the State do the Church’s job, leaving the Church free to buy used sports stadiums. And we’ve elected to allow our money to be taken from us by force. All we have left is to sit like a cranky grandmother on the porch screaming “You be careful with that!!!” as Congress burns through it all on a perpetual sugar-high.

So, what next? What do we do? Revolution is a young man’s game, and I think most of us are too worried about paying down a mortgage to think about trying to overthrow the bastards. I was gonna dump my Chai Latte in the river as a mini protest, but I don’t think that’d help.

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Kat The Knife

I killed everyone who died from TennCare cuts. Glen says so.

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News Channel 5, according to the teaser for tonight’s broadcast, is doing a story about people who have unnecessary handicapped parking permits.

Now, I know where I fall on this issue. If you use a permit that you don’t need so you can wrangle a prime spot, then you are a Grade-A piece of fossilized vomit. Handicapped parking permits are for people who are, you know, handicapped.

But what got me (keeping in mind that I’ve just seen the teaser) was the salacious glimpse of the reporter yelling at a black woman getting into her car. “What’s your handicap?!?”

Couple of things:

First off, way to show the black woman. Nice going. Reinforce that ‘welfare queen’ stereotype in any subtle way possible. Cause we all know that the only people cheating the system are those black people. [Obligatory Disclaimer: Of COURSE this is sarcasm.]

Secondly, I really think it’s very crass to assume that just because someone’s not waddling into a store on stumps that they aren’t handicapped in some way. Sure, a lot of mobility limitations are obvious. If you need a hydraulic lift to get your wheelchair out of the back of your car, then no one is going to freak out over your brief sojourn in the blue spot. But what if, say, you are a cancer patient undergoing chemo? Or a person with lupus in the middle of a flare? Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis? These are conditions that cause intense pain and limit mobility. But they are also not generally visible to a stranger in a parking lot. I’d imagine that many of the apparently-healthy people you see getting out of a car with a handicap tag are truly suffering from a non-visible, high pain ailment.

I can be pretty naive, but not so much so that I don’t get that there are people who cheat the system. Close relatives of mine continued to use their husband/father’s handicap tag for a year after he died of colon cancer just because they really liked the easy and free parking. Again–fossilized vomit. But really. I’m satisfied to let karma/fate/universal justice sort them out. I’d like to think that we as a society have better manners than to enquire about a stranger’s ailment simply because he’s parked twenty feet closer to the door of the Kroger.

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We TiVo this, and watch it in clumps. Tonight was a two-hour clump which saw Tim and Me on the couch asking the same questions we always ask. I’ll ask them outloud to see if anyone else has the answer.

1. Are They Truly Surprising The People?

When they pull up and shout “Good Morning,________ family!” everyone is always there. And dressed. And the women are all wearing makeup. I’ll be honest. If you’re pulling up outside my house on a random day, the chances are that I will be in sweats, hair in a ponytail and only Burt’s Bees Lipbalm on my face. If I haven’t lost the tube again.

2. How Do The People Get Off Work For A Week With No Advance Notice?

Any job I’ve ever had (save freelancing, which is another story altogether), I’ve had to plan my vacation months in advance, put in a request in writing and find a replacement for my duties. If you come to my house to rebuild it without my knowing, as much as I’d love a week at the spa I don’t know that I could just up and go.

3. How Can The People Afford The New House?

Most of these people are living in near-squalor. Holes in the floor, ceilings flaking–general disarray. Many times they’re either disabled or working eleventy-seven hours a week . They can’t even pay to fix up the original place. How can they afford the 6,000 square foot McMansionette?

I’m glad for these people and I love this show. But every time I watch it, these questions bother me even more.

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It’s always a risk to go out on a limb for something you believe in.. You generally know that you’re gonna be in for it. Sometimes you don’t say anything, other times you take the risk and say something anyway. And then, when you don’t take the drubbing you expected, you feel like maybe taking that risk was an alright kinda thing to do.

But, just when you think you’re free and clear, it comes back to bite you when you least expect it. The adult part of me would really just like to pretend that I didn’t walk past the jocks table to overhear myself being mocked. But the other part of me that tries to respect everyone is just a little bit –no, a LOT–pissed off.

That’s blogging, and that’s how it goes, I suppose. But I’m not gonna pretend that it doesn’t hurt a little bit. Especially from the participant that I had previously respected counted as a good social acquaintance. I’m still glad I said something initially, even though I knew what it would cost me. But, man, if it doesn’t hurt like hell.

UPDATE

Why do I, as a libertarian care, when the credo of that philosophy is “believe that individuals should have the liberty to make their own moral choices as long as they do not use coercion to prevent others from having that same liberty”? In truth, I don’t care if every blogger in the world except me says whatever they want on their own blog. Just as I don’t care what you say in your own home, or in your own car. But, contrary to popular opinion, libertarians do believe in the formation of social contracts. If I, as a Libertarian, choose to join a shooting club that only allows rifles and excludes revolvers, I’m not turning my back on my libertarian beliefs. I’m merely saying that I know what the organization requires and agree to abide by those requirements. I might be wrong in my understanding of Nashville Is Talking, but my impression is that it is a local blog aggregator run by the Nashville ABC affiliate. It was my assumption, based on my instructions for guest-blogging, that the standards of language use implemented by broadcast networks applied also to blogging on Nashville Is Talking, hence my request. I have never at any time gone to any individual’s blog anywhere and asked them to change a single thing they had written. I am a regular reader of the blogger whose post was linked and have never at any time asked her to change a post–nor would I. That would be idiotic, and I’m generally not given to Bowdlerisation of individual works. But, as NiT is an aggregator with posting guidelines, I thought it was not an inappropriate request to make. I assumed from Brittney’s response that it was not inappropriate.
Why do Christians care when non-Christians use Jesus Christ as a profanity? Why do black people care when non-black people use the N word? I think it comes down to a basic individual desire for respect–that’s all.

UPDATE II

Further information can be had over at Chris Wage’s place

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Blessed Events

Casey over at Some Geek in TN has a new baby. Yay, Casey!

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I love Thanksgiving. A few years ago, Tim & I decided to make this holiday our family time. Both of our families live in other States, and any holiday spent with either is a logistical chore. No matter how fun it is, getting there and back is a marathon of organising, cleaning and packing. Being there is the good of family time interspersed with sleeping on foreign mattresses and sharing a bathroom with grown siblings. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is an oasis of restorative calm.
I enjoy cooking, so Thursday was spent as it always is. Cinnamon rolls from a tube for breakfast. (One of the most overlooked delicacies of the post-preservative age.) Vegetables were chopped and the bird was stuffed, with a hefty dose of Steeleye Span in the background. While the turkey roasted we read in front of a fire. Fires are good for the soul, even when it’s sunny and 60 degrees out. A crackling log in the fireplace is a definitive statement of home. The smells of the burning logs and roasting bird are as close to heaven as I hope to get for a few decades.
With two of us, even a small turkey with trimmings lasts for three days. So we were able to feast contentedly for three days with the nerdliest of books and movies. Tim rode his bike. He was able to get 80 miles of road riding done, which means fewer miles on the rollers. I got several rows done on the latest knitted Christmas present. This weekend alone is something to be thankful for.

From here on out I plan to sound very nerdly. Those of you who tire of nerdly posts can continue to drink yourselves into a sodden stupor. Oh, and SPOILERS FOR HARRY POTTER.

We made it all the way through the Rings Trilogy Extended Versions With Coblian Edits. Basically this means that we bedooped most of the Frodo/Sam/Gollum scenes from Two Towers and Return Of The King. I’m sure there’s a long line of geeks who will whip us for the sacrilege. I’ll live. Having seen all three of these movies at least four times apiece (except for the Extended ROTK, which we’ve only seen twice), I feel it is safe to say that I grow weary of the extended point A-to-point B travails of Oscar Baits A, B, and C. “Oh, look. They’re walking. Oh, look. They’re walking some more. Oh, goody. Now the naked one is going to throw a tantrum. Whee.” I didn’t mind the other umpteen times I saw the movies, and they are still as close to perfect as films can get. This time I wanted to see the big battles, the charging horses and the pus-filled Orcs. So that’s what we did.

We then watched Titanic. I’ve got to hand it to James Cameron. For a guy who can’t stay married to the same woman for more than five minutes, he tells a ripping yarn of undying love. Seriously, I do admire his ability to tell this particular story. He manages, with two characters, to craft his narrative in such a way as to show the entire event, from initial impact with the berg to the last boat returning to pull the few living from the water. It’s a great movie.

Harry Potter Spoiler
My other nerdly milestone from the weekend was finishing the second read-through of Half-Blood Prince. The first time I inhaled it. This time I savoured it, and came away with an entirely different opinion of the Snape debacle. I really think, after carefully reading the entire book, that he’s still on Dumbledore’s side. I think that’s why Dumbledore insists that Harry fetch him when they get back from the cave. I believe that Dumbledore was aware of the Unbreakable Vow Snape made to Narcissa and that Dumbledore was also aware that he was dying from the poison in the Inferi Cave. This way Snape could aquit his vow, retain his cover and continue to assist Harry in the fight against Voldemort. I’m kind of disappointed, though, because I have always hated Snape. Back in July I was so pleased to have my suspicions about his evilness confirmed that I didn’t care to think it through. Oh well. I trust JKR to give us good stories, so I’ve no doubt Book 7 will be a great ride. And I’m still assuming that Book 7 will be out on 7/7/07, because that just makes sense. If not that date, then 7/31/07 for Harry’s birthday.

And that was how I spent my weekend.

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So a couple of days ago I was complaining about kids not behaving in public. Why? Is it because I hate kids? No. It’s because when kids who aren’t taught to respect other people grow up, this crap happens. When kids are taught that they are the only important person in the room, and satisfying their desires is more worthy than their personal integrity, they grow up to trample people at the Wal-Mart.

Then again, there’s the problem of the Trample-ee. A quick read-through of her story sends my risk-management alarm bells flashing.

“I got a bruise on my arm, and I don’t bruise easily. I’m scratched up. I also got scratches on my back all from people clawing and grabbing,” said Bumpers.
Her nephew took photos with his camera phone, showing Connie being taken away by ambulance after the morning melee.

Connie’s brother did talk about the stampede. ” They allowed control to be lost and as a result, my sister was in the hospital.”

It’s easy money to bet that these people are going to be suing the Wal-Mart corporation, if Wal-Mart doesn’t settle for a chunk of change ahead of time. I hate that the woman was hurt, but her brother’s remarks sound straight out of the Bart Durham Future Millionaires Of America handbook.

Bonus points in today’s laptop fiasco go to Tim Severance of Martinsburg, W.Va. who said

“Turns out that it was only a gimmick to get people into their store.”

Mighty keen grasp of the obvious there, Mr. Severance. Am I the only one who thinks that terms like “loss-leader” and “bait-and-switch” should be taught in grade school?

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Auto De Fe-lure

My sister is okay. I was not convinced that she was fine until I talked to her for myself. I guess if she’d had wounds I would have insisted on putting my hands in them. She taught a whole school day in shock, since she was still in shock when I talked to her late that afternoon. Her twin concerns on Wednesday evening were the logistics of replacing her crumpled Alero and the mockery she’d get from our brothers for her “poor” driving. She was so afraid that Dave and Tom would be cruel to her, but she hadn’t reckoned on their love. Of car shopping.

Apparently now that we are reassured that she is intact and unconcussed, the guys have taken the opportunity (and promise of insurance money) to find her a new car. Of course, this car hunt was not complete until they dragged Tim into the conversation via speakerphone.

The first step was to determine how much insurance money she’s likely to receive for the Alero. Let me be clear that the only reason I even know she was driving an “Alero” is because it came up in the loudly-broadcast speakerphone conversation. I am carlexic and have no ability to distinguish between car brands and styles. At one point the guys were asking her to distinguish between a series of meaningless letters. (“Was at GX, a GLS or an QRSTUVW?”) When she couldn’t tell them, my very own loving husband loudly exclaimed “How can you have driven it for 5 years and not know that? You are such a girl. Did have 2 or 4 doors? Do you at least know that?”

After patiently enduring the vacuum of information coming from Miss Bee, everyone moved forward with Phase Two, which consisted of looking at other cars on the Internet. I have a feeling that our Christmas visit to Indiana will be spent on various car lots. Which for me will be somewhat like trying to decide which marshmallow is the best. Personally, I don’t think she needs to get any of those 3 guys Christmas presents. They’re having enough fun already.

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