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Archive for May, 2010

Thank you.

Posted by Lissa on May 31, 2010

We who are left how shall we look again

Happily on the sun or feel the rain

Without remembering how they who went

Ungrudgingly and spent

Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?

– Wilfred Wilson Gibson

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. — Joseph Campbell

Cover them over with beautiful flowers,

Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,

Lying so silent by night and by day

Sleeping the years of their manhood away.

Give them the meed they have won in the past;

Give them the honors their future forcast;

Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;

Give them the laurels they lost with their life.

– Will Carleton

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Happy Caturday!

Posted by Lissa on May 30, 2010

Today’s Caturday is brought to you by a blissful Rajah:

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Bill Whittle and the Second Amendment

Posted by Lissa on May 28, 2010

Good morning all!  Happy Friday!  Are you looking forward to a three-day weekend?  Are you planning a barbecue?  A trip to a cemetery?  Both?

I was watching/listening to a TRIFECTA podcast on my way home yesterday — first podcast on the iPhone, yay! — and it made me dig out my copy of Silent America.  I wouldn’t necessarily say this book changed my life, but it was certainly an eye-opener; it was written by a person who loved America, was proud of America without being blind to her faults, and who thought it was stupid and unnecessary to be ashamed of loving America.

Picking up his book for the first time in a few years, my eyes widened at this passage in his “FREEDOM” essay:

But back to the undeniable domestic cost: When confronted with the idea of banning handguns to reduce this horrible toll, many handgun defenders are tempted to point to the numbers killed on the highways each year — perhaps four times that number — and ask why we don’t ban cars as well.

The logical response is that bans on travel – cars, airplanes, etc. – are a false analogy compared to banning guns because cars have a clear benefit while guns don’t do anything other than kill what they are aimed at.

While that is exactly true, I think it misses the point, which to me is simply this: We’d never ban car travel to avoid thousands of highway deaths. It’s clearly not worth it in both economic and personal freedom terms. We chose, reluctantly, and with many a lost loved one in mind, to keep on driving.

I couldn’t believe it.  BILL WHITTLE has missed the point, which is simply this:

That’s right, guns don’t do anything other than kill what they aim at.  (Okay, fine, they also facilitate personal responsibility, self-control, camaraderie, self-reliance, the public safety, etc. etc., but shut up, we’re talking about other stuff right now.) Guns are supposed to kill what they aim at.  That IS the point.

Ask those two Chicago octogenarians how they feel about their gun killing what it was aimed at.  Ask their 13-year-old son grandson [oops] how he feels, too.

Don’t worry, though; Bill Whittle DOES get it, though you may not be able to tell from that one cherry-picked paragraph.  Here are some of the following paragraphs that prove he gets it:

But understand this: 11,000 handgun deaths a year, over four years is very roughly 50,000 killed. In Nazi Germany, an unarmed population was unable to resist the abduction and murder of 6,000,000 people in a similar period: a number 120 times higher. Throw in the midnight murders of the Soviets, the Chinese, the various and sundry African and South American genocides and purges and political assassinations and that number grows to many hundreds, if not several thousand times more killings in unarmed populations.

Visualize this to fully appreciate the point. Imagine the Superbowl. Every player on the field is a handgun victim. All the people in the stands are the victims who were unable to resist with handguns. Those are historical facts. [snip]

The history of civilization shows time and time again how decent, sophisticated city dwellers amass wealth through cooperation and the division of labor – only to be victimized by ruthless gangs of raping, looting cutthroats who couldn’t make a fruit basket, sweeping down on them, murdering them and carting away the loot, to return a few years later, forever, ad infinitum. Vikings, Mongols, desperadoes of every stripe – they are a cancer on humanity but there they are and there they have always been.

If civilization is worth having (and I believe it is) then it has to be defended, because the restraining virtues of justice, compassion and respect for laws are products of that civilizing force and completely unknown to those who would do it harm.

He even gets into the “I am the only one professional enough” meme!

You may argue that only the police should be allowed to carry guns. Consider this carefully. Do we really want to create an unelected subculture that views itself as so elite and virtuous as to be the only ones worthy of such power, trust and authority? Have we not clearly seen the type of people drawn to such exclusive positions of authority, and the attitudes and arrogance it promotes?

Furthermore, I can’t see any moral distinction between a policeman and a law-abiding citizen. Policemen are drawn from the ranks of law-abiding citizens. They are not bred in hydroponics tanks. They are expected to show restraint and use their weapon as a last resort. Millions upon millions of citizens, a crowd more vast than entire armies of police, do exactly this every day.

If all of these horrors had sprung up as a result of the invention of the handgun I’d be right there beside those calling for their destruction.

But clearly, this is not the case. In our cowboy past we used to say that “God created Man, but Sam Colt made them equal.” This is simple enough to understand. It means that a villager, let’s say a schoolteacher, can defeat a human predator who may have spent his entire life practicing the art of war. Firearms are what tipped the balance toward civilization by eliminating a lifetime spent studying swordplay or spear play or pointed-stick play. The bad guys have always used weapons and they always will. The simple truth about guns is that they are damn effective and even easier to operate. They level the playing field to the point where a woman has a chance against a gang of thugs or a police officer can control a brawl.


Looking for another book to keep in your bathroom?  Pick up a copy of Silent America today.

Oh, and Happy Friday!

UPDATE: P.S., It’s Borepatch’s 22nd anniversary.  Go on over and wish him a congrats!

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“My name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my father; prepare to die.”

Posted by Lissa on May 27, 2010

All hail the Princess Bride!

P.S. Mike had a professor at Ye Olde Business School who once gave the following as a bonus question on a test:

“What is the most famous of the classic blunders?”

Shamefully, I got it wrong; I guessed it was going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.  (Mike made the same incorrect guess and felt a little better that I did too.)  That is, of course, only slightly less well-known than the most famous one.  Bad Lissa!

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Workout Wednesday

Posted by Lissa on May 26, 2010

Good morning everyone!  Well, I solved the chalky-chunky problem of the protein powder; you just have to add it gradually and use a mini-mixer.  I usually don’t bother on days that I run; on lifting days I make a smoothie with about six frozen strawberries, 1/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt, and enough Soy Milk Light to make it blend.  Once it’s nicely pureed I keep the blender going and tap in the powder.  You get a thick, delicious, fruity-vanilla-y shake that’s really tasty!

I’m stalling, folks.  I’m due to run Week 3, Day 3, today, and I woke up with a killer headache from grinding my teeth last night.  And quite frankly I’m scared of Week 4.  It’s still a struggle for me to run for 3 minutes without stopping; I think 5 minutes is going to kick my ass.  *whimper*  Guess I’ll have to redo my music mix before I tackle that bad boy!

If you’re curious, I’m taking my lifting workouts from this book.  It’s hard for me to give up my Barbie weights (as they derisively term the 2 or 3 pounders), but Mike PROMISES me I’m not going to bulk up by lifting heavier weights.  I’ve decided I’m never going to have super-skinny arms — never have, never will — so instead I’m concentrating on getting strong(er)!  Wish our little gym had a chin-up bar, and wish they had a squat rack, but I haven’t had to do chin-ups yet and I’m making do with free-weights.

On to the songs!  Here’s what’s lighting up my iPod this week; do you have any new songs for me?

  1. Axel F by Crazy Frog.  I *LOVE* this song — it’s a ridiculous techno adaptation of the Beverly Hills Cop theme and it’s my absolute number one go-to when my ass is dragging.
  2. Going Under by Evanescence
  3. Down Rodeo by Rage Against the Machine
  4. Shut Up and Drive by Rihanna
  5. Pump It by Black Eyed Peas – it’s the Pulp Fiction theme!

Happy Exercising!

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SEIU shenanigans

Posted by Lissa on May 25, 2010

In case you missed it — as several major papers seemed to do — Nina Easton wrote a story last week about the SEIU pouring in to intimidate her neighbor Greg Baer, who is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America.  They didn’t organize a letter-campaign, or a bumper-sticker onslought, oh no; they poured onto his lawn and front porch while his 14-year-old son was home alone.

Used to be that this sort of bile was reserved for bigwigs like John Yoo.  (Who, BTW, wasn’t enough of a “bigwig” to actually meet Pres. Bush.)

Now, Ye Olde Financial Company has a Legal department.  (Duh.)  I’m not sure we have someone with a “deputy general counsel” title, but I’ve met folks that fill that role.  They advise what’s legal for YOFC and what steps must be taken to be in compliance with financial law.  They negotiate with the SEC to make sure that they’re okay with how YOFC is conducting business.

They’re not at the top of the chain of command.

Not even close.

So why in hell would 14 busloads of purple-shirted protesters trek down to this guy’s house to make a statement?  What good did they think it would do? How did they justify it?

While Easton’s coverage was very sympathetic to her neighbor, which I found unsurprising, I took note of her concluding paragraphs:

Of course, HuffPost readers responding to the coverage assumed that Baer was an evil former Bush official. He’s not. A lifelong Democrat, Baer worked for the Clinton Treasury Department, and his wife, Shirley Sagawa, author of the book The American Way to Change and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, is a prominent national service advocate.

In the 1990s, the Baers’ former bosses, Bill and Hillary Clinton, denounced the “politics of personal destruction.” Today politicians and their voters of all stripes grieve the ugly bitterness that permeates our policy debates. Now, with populist rage providing a useful cover, it appears we’ve crossed into a new era: The politics of personal intimidation.

Was Easton implying that if Baer was an “evil former Bush official” that the protest would have been acceptable? I hope not.  Perhaps she was implying that the HuffPo readership would have reacted differently if they’d known he was a Clintonite.  You be the judge.

I don’t have any kids, let alone teenagers of my own, so I can’t say I’m reacting as a parent.  But if I had to make a guess at how I’d feel if my son were marooned on an island surrounded by screaming bullhorns and waving signs, I’d think of two words:

Castle Law.

Followed quickly by two more:

Rock Salt.

P.S. Media Matters pointed out that Easton had a conflict of interest; she should have disclosed that her husband works for Stevens and Schriefer Group, a strategic communications group, one of whose clients is the Business Round Table, one of whose members is the Bank of America CEO.  Big Journalism points out in turn that the Business Round Table hasn’t been a client of SSG in a decade.

UPDATE: Borepatch and Breda weigh in

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Movie review: 2012

Posted by Lissa on May 24, 2010

Short version: Some of the special effects were cool; everything else sucked.

Longer version: Good morning, everyone!  How was your weekend?  Ours was great, thanks; I tried two new recipes (seared scallops over angel hair pasta with lemon-white-wine-shallot reduction sauce, and meatloaf), we went to the range to practice our .22 skills, I played with adorable kitties at the shelter and came away scratch-free, and I went to the gym both days.  Yay!

We watched 2012 Saturday night.  We got the Blu-Ray version and we’ve got a big TV; in other words, we gave the movie the best shot it could have outside of a real movie theater.


With the exception of Woody Harrelson (crazy backwoods conspiracy theory guy, who’s actually right) and President Danny Glover (guess we’re making a free-trade agreement with Venezuela in two years), the acting and the characters sucked. The willing-suspension-of-belief never happened; I can’t tell you how many times I screamed out, “Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?!?” while Mike hushed me, or made me stop laughing evilly.

Some of the finer points: (SPOILERS!)  (Well, kind of.  The plot was not what you would call unpredictable.)

  • Amanda Peet getting groped by her boyfriend (John Cusack’s replacement) in the grocery store, before the aisle rips apart and they scream and struggle not to fall into the massive abyss
  • This near-death traumatic OMG-I-saw-the-face-of-death results only in a “please bring the kids home early” conversation.  No hysterics needed!
  • John Cusack almost dying because he stopped to let out a triumphant yell-and-fist-pump at locating the correct map.   His trailer slides over the edge of a massive crack in the earth and they all think he’s done for . . . UNTIL A SINGLE HAND DRAMATICALLY APPEARS, followed by A HAND CLUTCHING A MAP, and he pulls himself to safety.  Yay hooray!  (Actually, I was rooting for him to fall down and die.)
  • President Chavez-loving Glover getting crushed to death by the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy.  I’m sure there’s something wonderfully pithy and ironic about this, but I was cackling too hard to identify what it would be.
  • The replacement boyfriend getting eaten by massive gears, a la JAWS motif.  I laughed.
  • John Cusack and his friends sneaking onto one of the three Arks, meant to safeguard a statistically significant remnant of humanity, but getting a big hose caught in the gears as they do so.  This keeps the door from sealing completely, and THAT keeps the engine from starting.  Because the design has an un-overwriteable fail-safe that won’t let the engine work until there’s a water-tight seal on the hull. Huh?
  • After having thus almost doomed a third of humanity to a watery grave, Cusack and his son managed to yank the hose free and the ship narrowly avoids a collision with Mt. Everest.  They’re heroes!  Yay!
  • Um, what?  The guy almost killed everyone on the ship but managed to fix it after the ship ate about 2 metric tons of seawater, and now he’s a hero?  Not court-martialed and summarily shot? He already had two kids with the Peet chick, so it’s not like they desperately needed him for the gene pool. (shaking head)
  • I haven’t recounted all the scenes of A) cars dodging rifts and fireballs, B) airliners barely taking off ahead of massive cracks in the ground, or C) airliners then barely dodging crumbling buildings.  Trust me – they were all the same, and they all sucked.

If you really have a yen for a disaster movie, go see Armageddon.  At least you’ll get some kickassery from Bruce Willis.

(You can fast-forward through the Affleck scenes.  I won’t tell anyone.)

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Happy Caturday – Dignity Edition

Posted by Lissa on May 22, 2010

Rajah says, “It’s Caturday! Let your guard down!”

“Relax those neck muscles; let your head droop.”


“Of course it’s dignified.  I am The Cat.”

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Why do they hate Michelle Obama?

Posted by Lissa on May 21, 2010

And by “they” I mean her fashion team.

Look – some people think Mrs. Obama is beautiful; others think she closely resembles Whorf.  Whatever. The fact is that she’s got a more toned body than most mothers in America, and the height that fashion designers love, to boot.

Why, then, does her fashion advisor stick her in god-awful medieval torso-choking belts like this?

Really? You really think this belt was a good idea, Fashion Guys?

Or ill-fitted, high-waisted, mis-shaping getups like this? (Note: that light blue is horrible with pumpkin.  Try a deep rich navy or sapphire next time.  Oh, and a bigger sweater.  And put the waist at her, y’know, waist.)

Mario Batali's orange looks better than mine. This is embarrassing.

But those fashion freaks really outside themselves this time.  Check out Mrs. Obama’s dress that she wore for the Calderon’s state visit:

Well, the color is fabulous.  And I love the shimmery fabric.  The silver-banded waist sits nicely on her frame and makes her legs appear to be a gazillion miles long.  So it’s beautiful! . . . except . . . hey, what’s that?


My inner fashionista is writhing in agony.  Why??  If they’d just made the two shoulders match — i.e. put the twisted strap on both sides — this would have been AWESOME.

Why does her fashion team hate her so???

Happy Friday, and beware of bad fashion advisors!

(h/t Bookworm Room)

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Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Posted by Lissa on May 20, 2010

This blog is usually full of happy, cheery things like kittens, workout songs, and sneering at politicians (which is both easy AND fun!).  Today, however, we take a break from our usual fluffy cheer to make a stand (well, I’m sitting) for free speech.

The original “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” was the facetious idea of Molly Norris.  Ms. Norris has since apologized, explained she didn’t intend to cause offense, suggested that everybody draw Al Gore instead, and issued the public statement: “Please, please don’t hurt me. Pretty please.”

I may have added that last part.

I understand why Ms. Norris backed down.  I wouldn’t want my name all over this thing either.

And I understand people who are arguing against Everybody Draw Mohammed Day (EDMD) because they don’t want to deliberately insult or offend devout Muslims.  Sure, it doesn’t seem that depictions of Mohammed are prohibited by the Koran . . .

The Qur’an contains absolutely nothing about depicting Mohammed. It is only the Hadith, most of which came several hundred years after Mohammed’s death, that discuss this—one of them bans all depictions of living creatures outright, and another merely says that such illustrations are not to be encouraged, but does not decree that those found guilty are to be punished. The major reason it is widely considered wrong to depict Mohammed, especially among the Sunni majority of Muslims, is that it might encourage idolatry. This might be fair enough within the Islamic world, but is clearly absurd to apply outside of it. After all, non-believers cannot make themselves any more guilty of non-belief or idolatry by drawing pictures. But if the justification behind fatwas against depicters of Mohammed is based in the Hadith, then clerics would have to issue fatwas against all those who draw pictures of living creatures—a crime which virtually every person on earth is guilty of. [that link has a few really lovely historical depictions of Mohammed — Lissa]

. . . but whether or not the prohibition is firmly grounded in their guiding book, the fact is that millions DO consider it blasphemous.

And so, I apologize.

I apologize to those who find depictions of Mohammed offensive, because I’m going to post one below.  I’m sorry that I have to commit what you consider blasphemy to make my point.

While I’m at it, I also apologize to people who believe that you should write “god” as “G-d.”  I don’t feel the need to and have never done so.

Further, I apologize to liberals, Democrats, Republicans, people of bad fashion taste, idiots who can’t use their computers, and every other kind of person that I’ve insulted or castigated on this blog.  I know it’s not blasphemy, but as long as I’m apologizing I might as well issue a blanket apology.

All done?  Great.  Now, then, let’s get to my point.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, for me, is not about provoking those Muslims who find depictions of Mohammed to be offensive.  I wish I could make my point without that.  But EDMD is a practical matter as well as a statement.  The idea is to have so many depictions of Mohammed come forth that angry vengeful offended folks can’t focus on just one person.  Or one comedy network.  Or twelve cartoonists. (Especially when the most offensive images from those cartoonists . . . were added by Danish imams to stir up offense and outrage.  They blasphemed their own religious traditions and blamed it on others.) Or one museum (did you know the Museum of Metropolitan Art quietly pulled its Mohammed images and may not include them in the re-opened exhibit in 2011?).

I can’t draw worth a damn, so I’m borrowing work from an actual artist.  Below the fold is my depiction of Mohammed:

Read the rest of this entry »

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