Archive for September, 2005

How desperate a subspecies of human do you have to be to cheat on an online strategy game?

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It’s Friday officially and I’ve turned in the rough draft of my latest objet d’art so I’m free to junk up my blog with one of those things where you post useless facts about yourself as though you were someone important on the world stage. Like Gore Vidal.

I’ve made this one up. I’m calling it

Ten Questions To Your Inner Gore Vidal

1. Which Historical Figure do you think is probably not gay but would make for great gossip if they were?
Answer: Adam Smith. Gives a whole new spin on the Stock Exchange.

2. Why was plaid ever fashionable outside of the Scottish Highlands?
Answer: Built-in obsolescence in the upholstery trade.

3. Would you buy used underwear?
Answer: Depends on what it was used for. I definitely wouldn’t care for it if it were like those old cloth diapers my mom used to polish furniture. They smell lemony and are shiny.

4. Is the consumption of Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream sometimes really just like eating lard?
Answer: So what if it is? It’s darn good lard. Have YOU ever had lard that tasted like cake batter? That’s some fine use of science, my friend.

5. Who was your favourite teacher and why?
Answer: Pai Mei from Kill Bill Vol. 2 because he totally made Uma Thurman look like crap and eat her rice like a dog. And the way he smacked up Daryl Hannah totally made Jackson Browne look like a bitch.

6. What is your dream?
Answer: That I go to a mexican restaurant and they have to seat us in the courtyard because of a Hustle contest going on in the main dining area. They then seat two foreigners at our table who proceed to whip out the arms of a small child and snack on them. The waitress then apologises and offers to bring us our fajitas for free. I want to leave but my companion only wants the free fajitas. What does it all mean?

7. What is the funniest word you know?
Answer: Drambouie. I can’t say it without laughing like I’m already drunk on the stuff.

8. Why do you have a crush on Abraham Lincoln?
Answer: Because he’s extremely tall, smart and funny. He has a good work ethic and was fully able to be married to a crazy woman for decades. I’d look dandy compared to Mary Todd.

9. Socks or pantyhose?
Answer: Both. Nothing says “frumpy lady resting between morning and evening church” like that fashion statement.

10. What, besides the Gay History and Abraham Lincoln questions, did this have to do with Gore Vidal?
Answer: Absolutely nothing. It’s just that his name makes me laugh as hard as ‘drambouie’. It sounds like a sequel to the Chucky movies, yet he’s a serious scholar and author. That’s funny. To me. At 1:00 in the morning.

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So, when you go to dinner with other bloggers, that’s what everyone is wondering. Are we? Aren’t we?

Should I say something witty that I hope the other person will blog or will it come out so excruciatingly embarassing that I’ll dread to see it print? When the restaurant doesn’t serve any wine, you know your chances of either are option are reduced exponentially.

When you get there first you avoid the Fredo Corleone Chair of Honor. You also get to scope out the exits. There were no ground rules, because even though one of us tried to impose them, I politely reminded one and all that as Libertarian no one makes rules for me. Yeah. I’m just that cool…like Fonzie I refuse to submit to the basic structures of society.

We had much good food, much good conversation. We are all completely miffed at Lost for shoving 10 minutes of TV into two hours. We are all completely in love with Les Dames de Gilmore, which does not in any way reflect on anyone’s sexual preference. We all got confused by hearing the real names for the online people, places and things that the others had concocted. Tales of merry days of yore abounded. We all left happy. But my happiness wouldn’t last long. Because Ben & Jerry’s was totally frigging out of the Wavy Gravy Ice Cream–after I braved the Gucci Ghetto to go to their store.

So I blogged it, but not really. All the participants, save me are quasi-anonymous. And at no point in this post did I bring up the issue of Paul McCartney’s Wife’s Leg and The Resultant Logistical Amenities.

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Nashville Is Talking links to my favourite story of the day. The sad tale of the poor put-upon Pro-Choice movement, and their saviours at the ACLU.

The original story in The Tennesseean talks about the pending legislation that may jeopardize all specialty plates in Tennessee.

The main face-off is between Tennessee Right to Life, which sponsored the plate, and the American Civil Liberties Union and others, which say the tags are unconstitutional. They claim that because the state government chose one viewpoint over another, it violated free-speech guarantees in the Constitution.

The ACLU maintains that once the state allows drivers to put political slogans on their license plates, it cannot offer that opportunity just to one side of the political debate, said Julie Sternberg, senior staff attorney for the national ACLU. The ACLU had pushed for a “Pro-Choice” plate, but legislators did not pass it.

Yeah. Sounds pretty redneck of us Good Ol Boys in Bible Belt, Tennessee doesn’t it? Well, the side of the story you are not being told is this.

Anyone can get a specialty plate approved in Tennessee. Here’s all you have to do. Presell a set number of units, pay to have the plate designed, and then submit your forms to the legislature to be rubber stamped. That’s what everyone from Radnor Lake enthusiasts to Vols fans have done. And they’ve all got pretty plates that earn kickbacks to the charity of their choice.

That’s exactly what the Right To Life group did. Only here’s where the problem kicks in. After they made the presales, After they collected the money, After the plate was designed they submitted their paperwork to the legislature. And John Ford attached a rider to their application saying that “hey–there ought to be a Pro-Choice plate, too.” The legislature and Gov. Bredesen both said “Where are the Pro-Choice presales? Where is the Pro-Choice Plate Design? Where is the Pro-Choice Paperwork?” Well. It appears to not have existed, and thus the plate design was refused.

So, naturally the Pro-Choice groups went out, made presales, designed a plate and submitted the paperwork sued.

You can read the text of the suit here.

The ACLU does not deny that the Pro-Choice Groups failed to follow proper filing procedure. They merely insist that they should be exceptioned from proper filing procedure in order to guarantee free speech. Would it have been far more cost effective to follow proper procedure? Undoubtedly. Would it have made such good press? Undoubtedly not.


From Bruce Barry, who sits on the board of the ACLU.


On your blog post regarding the ‘choose life’ license plates and the ACLU lawsuit, you have many facts wrong.

You write: “Anyone can get a specialty plate approved in Tennessee. Here’s all you have to do. Presell a set number of units, pay to have the plate designed, and then submit your forms to the legislature to be rubber stamped.”

Not correct. One has to presell a number of units and have the design in order to have the plates produced. To get it approved, you get the legislature to pass a bill authorizing the plates. This typically happens before the presale, and there is no legal requirement anywhere that the plates be designed and presold before legislative approval.

You write about the right to life group pushing the plate: “After they made the presales, After they collected the money, After the plate was designed they submitted their paperwork to the legislature.”

Not correct. It is inaccurate to say that the pro-life plate people designed their plate and presold it before having it approved by the legislature. Quoting verbatim from the bill that was passed by the legislature authorizing the choose life plates: “The new specialty earmarked license plates provided for in this section shall contain an appropriate logo and design. Such plates shall be designed in consultation with a representative of New Life Resources.” I doubt they even could presell before legislative approval — but it doesn’t matter anyway because the statute is a legislative act independent of presales and design phases.

You write: “John Ford attached a rider to their application saying that “hey–there ought to be a Pro-Choice plate, too.” The legislature and Gov. Bredesen both said “Where are the Pro-Choice presales? Where is the Pro-Choice Plate Design? Where is the Pro-Choice Paperwork?” Well. It appears to not have existed, and thus the plate design was refused.”

Incorrect. John Ford introduced an amendment to the proposed statute (not a “rider” to an “application”) authorizing the pro-life plate. There was no pro-choice design. There was no pro-life design. It doesn’t matter because design is not part of the legislation. The legislature tabled the Ford amendment, killing it, and then passed the bill. So the legislature went on record approving a pro-life plate but refusing to approve a pro-choice plate. That is classic and unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination, as federal judge Todd Campbell found in his ruling of summary judgement for ACLU (354 F. Supp. 2d 770). Quoting from that ruling:
In this case, the State of Tennessee has allowed the “Choose Life” viewpoint to the exclusion of “Pro-Choice” and other views on abortion. Even if the government can selectively fund one activity and not another, as argued by Defendants, citing Rust v. Sullivan, it is the individual citizen, not the government, who “funds” the extra costs and speech of the “Choose Life” license plate.This conclusion holds no matter what type of forum the license plate is considered to be — traditional public forum, designated public forum, or non-public forum. Because the State has established a license plate forum for the abortion debate, it cannot limit the viewpoints expressed in that forum. The type of forum that exists is relevant only if the logo or message is viewpoint-neutral. “Choose Life” is not viewpoint-neutral speech. The statute at issue makes clear that the State of Tennessee is willing to use its considerable power and resources to control private speech and to discriminate based on viewpoint. The First Amendment makes clear, however, that the State cannot do so constitutionally. The Court finds that the statute at issue, Tennessee Code Annotated, § 55-4-306, is unconstitutional because the State of Tennessee, through this statute, discriminates based upon viewpoint. The State Defendants, therefore, are hereby enjoined from enforcing the “Choose Life” statute. The result in this case would be the same if the statute authorized a “Pro-Choice” license plate instead of the “Choose Life” license plate. Either way, it is unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.

You write: “The ACLU does not deny that the Pro-Choice Groups failed to follow proper filing procedure. They merely insist that they should be exceptioned from proper filing procedure in order to guarantee free speech.”

This case has nothing to do with filing procedure. Filing procedures are not at issue in the legal complaint brought by ACLU, and they are not mentioned in the district court ruling by Judge Campbell. This case is about whether these specialty license plates are a public forum for private speech. Federal courts in multiple circuits have ruled that they are, which means that viewpoint discrimination practiced by state governments administering these plates raises clear first amendment problems.

If you are going to write about this issue, you ought to get the facts right. Instead you utterly misrepresented the basis for the ACLU’s lawsuit on this. You may not like the district court’s opinion on this, but it was a predictable one based on well established first amendment law regarding public forum speech and the first amendment.

I am copying Brittney on this note because she (at NIT) linked to Katherine’s well of misinformation. Either of you are welcome to quote from this note on your blogs if you care to.



Now Me:

Bruce, my experience with the cycling plates was that all of the paperwork had to be completed before the bill could be introduced in the legislature. Included in that paperwork were proposed designs and prepaid committments to the “Share The Road” plates. As to the procedural language (i.e. amendment vs. rider) you are correct, and I stand corrected. However, I fail to see how–barring any procedural difference–my point is inaccurate. Why did Planned Parenthood et. al. not follow the same filing procedure for their own plates? Why instead do what amounts to an end-run around the system? Should the “Share The Road” plate team sue the NASCAR people for not including their right to a dissenting viewpoint?

You say the case has nothing to do with filing procedure and you are correct. You are also agreeing with me. The legal case is all about Planned Parenthood et. al. attempting a court-based sacking of the quarterback. For the record this is what people talk about when they “whine” about activist judges. You have a group that decided they would quite literally ‘make a federal case out of it’. Just get the 1000 people to agree to buy the plates and have done with it. Then the legislature would be able to okay the Pro-Choice plate.

I get that the ACLU has a vested interest in having this be a court case, and I get why you are so in favour of continuing to bolster that image in the public eye with these grandiose shows of “fighting for the little guy”. In reality, the ACLU is playing 1000 lb. gorilla. Call it a statute, call it an amendment, call it a rider. It’s all the same thing. One team played by the rules, the other didn’t. Now the side who won’t play fair wants the ref to call the game in their favour. It stinks.

Let’s try this analogy. A mother tells two kids they can go to a birthday party for their friend if they both clean their bedrooms. Suzy picks up her toys, makes her bed and hangs up her clothes. Mary does nothing. When the time comes to send the children to the party, Mother says Suzy may go but Mary may not. Mary complains to Dad that it isn’t fair for Suzy to have all the fun because parents shouldn’t favour one child over the other and sending Suzy alone is showing favourtism. It is also punishing the neighbor child who wanted to have both girls at the party. Dad agrees and says that favourtism is wrong and punishing the neighbor child is also wrong. Now, the argument to Dad has NOTHING to do with the original “filing procedure” of cleaning the room. That’s exactly what you’re saying about the courtcase. Sure it has nothing to do with the “filing procedure” yet everything about how they ended up before Dad began with the uncleaned room.

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The schedule of events is now available online. I sincerely hope to see you there.

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Don’t let the door hit you on your way out! Good grief. She called me at 8:10 this morning to tell me they’re discharging her. She sounded as bewildered as I felt upon hearing that.

She will be at home today, but will be trying to sleep. She lives in a condo that requires her to walk up two flights of stairs, which will be incredibly excruciating and exhausting. Please keep her in your prayers.

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They’re having a big sale.

The hold music is an assortment of film tunes. That I used to enjoy before 45 minutes of captivity at their mercy. If Ariel stll wants to be part of our world, she can come hold the phone up to her ear for an hour. She’ll change her mind.

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So…I saw Serenity for free. It only cost me my dignity, and since I have so little of that left, I figured it was a fair trade. If, like me, you’ve ever imagined a press screening for a movie you’ve likely had Tracey/Hepburn visions of serious-minded folk with steno pads and an air of self-satisfied education about them. Tongue studs and lack of bathing probably never even entered the picture.

The evening started off with a trip to the food court at 100 Oaks Mall. Like the rest of the second story, it’s a ghost of its former self. If you want cookies, gyros or congealed “Chinese” food, you’re in for the time of your life. Otherwise, it’s back to the Blazer and over to Wendy’s. The first hint I had that this was perhaps not a screening for the faint of heart was when I saw the motley crew of fellow attendees–and possible vampires–congregating around a several tables in an otherwise uncrowded part of the restaurant. I heard several references to “Joss” and much talk about gaming. Not the James Bond Speakeasy Gaming, but the Yo Mama’s Garage I’m-half-elf gaming that I remember so fondly. I then realized they probably weren’t packing the place out with bloggers.

At the theatre they had an armed (?) guard standing by the line. Dude. It was a Sci Fi movie. None of us are equipped to kick anyone’s arse without instructions from our multi-sided dice. Sure, we may look like a gang of Satanists–but trust me. The closest we ever get to violence is when someone leaves the wrapper off a vintage comic book and lays it next to a can of Jolt. I was a bit skeeved at the sight of the guy but was then immediately at ease when I saw a man in orange that I knew I knew. Ahhh! A Blogger! Finally, I meet one of my cyberfriends. (And was that just the loneliest sentence or what?!?!!). I made him guess who I was, which really wasn’t fair but I was still addled by the armed guy. Besides, I had a book with me. Dead giveaway. I really felt like a poseur talking to Michael because he’s very into Firefly, whereas I am not. He was already in line, and since I didn’t want to cut in front of anyone who might be inclined to eat me, I meekly moved to the back of the line in time to see Pam who nicely had agreed to meet us. She had a book, too. Good woman!!!! Except…she and Tim both ragged on my book and decided among themselves that it was the most amoral piece of trash ever conceived. Honestly, you two. Can’t a gal read a book about a woman who gets engaged to her ex-boyfriend and then tries to find a new wife for the husband she’s still married to?

Anyway…back to the folks. Pam & Michael both told me that I needed to get a pass from “the guy” before I got in line. Here was the moment I was dreading. Would they check my name off the list? Would they deny me access after my earlier snark about their intense ways? I had the email I printed and gingerly walked up to the service desk. I told her I was there as a blogger for my pass and handed her the form. She rolled her eyes, crumpled it up, threw it in the trash and handed me a pass. No list. No inquisition. Nothing. And I had really been looking forward to the cavity search, too.

After the disappointment of not spreading my cheeks or being tasered for sass, I got back in line in time to meet Sarah who thought I was fighting with her. I truly wasn’t. But I will, if she keeps insisting that Romana is one of the better companions. She made the dreaded drive safely and spent much time talking with her lifelong friend Big Orange, while Pam and I tried to save a place in line for the largest and scariest man I have ever seen outside of the WW(insert current appropriate letter).

Inside, after a comedy of errors we met up with two more local bloggers–Pink Kitty and Elena. Of course, when we met we just assumed we were ladies who didn’t receive the all-black-and-khaki dress code memo and consequently stuck out like a throbbing thumb in our pinks and reds. About 10 minutes into the conversations about our churches someone mentioned bloggers. I said I was looking for other bloggers (Cole?! A.C.?!? Where were you guys?!?) It turned into a very Liza-Minelli-Showstopper moment when we realized that we were all bloggers and knew each other from our blogs. Whee!

Michael, having also failed to get the dress code, brought his orange shirt down to us gals as we kibitzed about BSG, Stargate and the fact that The Rock looks like a giant sized human penis–especially with his shirt off. (Okay. Michael was gone for that moment. But it still happened.)

Then the lights went down, we watched the movie and I left with more friends and a better appreciation for Joss Whedon.

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Reever Madness

Serenity Spoilers throughout.

Don’t read If you want to not be spoiled.

Basically the rag-tag oversexed pirate ship crew is led to a planet of extreme stoners by their psychic buffy pet. This planet, named after one of the Sex & The City gals, has become so stoned that 90% of them have died and the other 10% have an extreme case of the munchies.

Several key characters die. The best part of seeing the movie in the crowd I saw it with was the gasps of panic and shock when a particular fan favourite was run through like a used meal ticket. I liked the person who met their grisly end and hated to see them go to the Grimy Ship In The Sky but I had nowhere near the attachment to the character that some of the audience did. Joss Whedon sure cancelled their Christmas.

I have only seen one episode of the series, and was extremely underwhelmed. It seemed to have 15 minutes of story tightly packed into an hour. The rest of the time was spent in coy and flirtatious banter, which gets old when you’re 35, married and read a lot of Jane Austen.

Whedon’s storytelling is vastly improved by having a more limited canvas for his work. Without the endless hours to fill with his trademark sass, he gets right to the point and tells an engaging story. The movie is excellent, the pacing is excellent and the witty banter adds spice but doesn’t overpower the dish. I was not a fan of the series and saw the film for free. Yet I would pay to see it again–it’s that good.

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Banned Books

I am a pervert. I am a degenerate sicko. I’ll read anything that isn’t nailed down, and have already memorized the ingredients on my Honey Smacks box. (Disney Weebles! Yay! Except that when I was a kid they were egg shaped. Now they’re pill shaped. Way to teach kids to just say “no”.)

Everyone else has blogged about banned books and linked to the list of the most challenged books of 1991-2000. Every time I read another post about this I am further embarrassed. The only book on that list that I haven’t read is the “Mommy why is my penis changing?” book. For obvious reasons I felt that I would be fine to forego it. I like to know what makes people crazy when they read. Put Big O’s sticker on the cover of any book and I’ll walk away faster than you can say “I hate Faulkner.” Put a banned book sticker on the cover and I’ll have the spine cracked almost instantly. It’s been this way ever since a group of mothers at my school decided that Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret wasn’t suitable for 4th graders. I had never even comprehended the idea that there were books you couldn’t or shouldn’t read. I credit my mother with that. For as strict as my parents were, they let all four of us kids read anything we darn well pleased. So, of course, the fastest way to get little 4th graders interested in a book is to tell them they can’t read it. And we all traded the library’s one copy around furtively for the rest of that school year. I then went on to read every other book Judy Blume ever wrote. I still laugh when I think about boys and cologne.

I still devour anything that’s banned, because I want to know what ideas make other people crazy and why.
I just wish they’d ban some more stuff because I’m out of books to read.

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