Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Well, that went as well as could be expected

I took that quiz everyone's been taking. And look how nicely it turned out:

Pure Nerd
56% Nerd, 34% Geek, 21% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Retro rockin' reveries

For this meme, you go to here to find the Top 100 songs from the year you graduated from high school, and list them on your site. You're supposed to highlight the ones you like and cross out the ones you hate; underline your favorite, and ignore the ones to which you're kind of indifferent.

Well, 1984 was such a doozy of a year, I have to change the format a little. I used bold for the songs I loved back in 1984 and, dammit, still like (plus an asterisk if I bought the album). Italics are for the songs I love to hate (I know they're awful but have a ridiculous weak spot for them—I just can’t help it). The songs I don't remember or have no feelings for or against, those are in plain text. The single instance of strikethrough is for the one song I hate and do not secretly love (Laura Branigan’s oeuvre is worthless). As for a single favorite song, how can I choose? Culture Club, The Police, Prince, Peabo, Huey Lewis—these are all my precious children.

Too much bold? Too much italics? Nonsense. 1984 was a grand year. Play any of the bold or italic songs on the car radio, and I’ll be instantly transported to age 17, and you won’t be able to stop me from singing along and massacring the lyrics.

Looking on the bright side, I more or less stopped following pop music after 1984. A list of the top 100 songs from any subsequent year wouldn’t resonate with me, but 1984? Forget about it. I mean, who could forget? (For bonus enjoyment, envision the MTV video when you start singing to yourself. Maybe even act it out. You know you can.)

1. When Doves Cry, Prince *
2. What's Love Got To Do With It, Tina Turner
3. Say Say Say, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
4. Footloose, Kenny Loggins
5. Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), Phil Collins
6. Jump, Van Halen
7. Hello, Lionel Richie
8. Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Yes
9. Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.
10. Karma Chameleon, Culture Club *
11. Missing You, John Waite
12. All Night Long (All Night), Lionel Richie
13. Let's Hear It For The Boy, Deniece Williams
14. Dancing In The Dark, Bruce Springsteen *
15. Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper *
16. The Reflex, Duran Duran
17. Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper *
18. Jump (For My Love), Pointer Sisters
19. Talking In Your Sleep, Romantics
20. Self Control, Laura Branigan
21. Let's Go Crazy, Prince and The Revolution *
22. Say It Isn't So, Daryl Hall and John Oates
23. Hold Me Now, Thompson Twins *
24. Joanna, Kool and The Gang
25. I Just Called To Say I Love You, Stevie Wonder
26. Somebody's Watching Me, Rockwell
27. Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder
28. 99 Luftballons, Nena
29. I Can Dream About You, Dan Hartman
30. The Glamorous Life, Sheila E.
31. Oh Sherrie, Steve Perry
32. Stuck On You, Lionel Richie
33. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Elton John
34. She Bop, Cyndi Lauper *
35. Borderline, Madonna
36. Sunglasses At Night, Corey Hart
37. Eyes Without A Face, Billy Idol
38. Here Comes The Rain Again, Eurythmics
39. Uptown Girl, Billy Joel *
40. Sister Christian, Night Ranger
41. Drive, Cars *
42. Twist Of Fate, Olivia Newton-John
43. Union Of The Snake, Duran Duran
44. The Heart Of Rock 'N' Roll, Huey Lewis and The News *
45. Hard Habit To Break, Chicago
46. The Warrior, Scandal
47. If Ever You're In My Arms Again, Peabo Bryson
48. Automatic, Pointer Sisters
49. Let The Music Play, Shannon
50. To All The Girls I've Loved Before, Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson
51. Caribbean Queen, Billy Ocean
52. That's All, Genesis *
53. Running With The Night, Lionel Richie
54. Sad Songs (Say So Much), Elton John
55. I Want A New Drug, Huey Lewis and The News *
56. Islands In The Stream, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
57. Love Is A Battlefield, Pat Benatar
58. Infatuation, Rod Stewart
59. Almost Paradise, Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
60. Legs, ZZ Top
61. State Of Shock, Jacksons
62. Love Somebody, Rick Springfield
63. Miss Me Blind, Culture Club *
64. If This Is It, Huey Lewis and The News *
65. You Might Think, Cars *
66. Lucky Star, Madonna
67. Cover Me, Bruce Springsteen *
68. Cum On Feel The Noize, Quiet Riot
69. Breakdance, Irene Cara
70. Adult Education, Daryl Hall and John Oates
71. They Don't Know, Tracy Ullman
72. An Innocent Man, Billy Joel *
73. Cruel Summer, Bananarama
74. Dance Hall Days, Wang Chung
75. Give It Up, K.C.
76. I'm So Excited, Pointer Sisters
77. I Still Can't Get Over Loving You, Ray Parker Jr.
78. Thriller, Michael Jackson
79. Holiday, Madonna
80. Breakin'... There's No Stopping Us, Ollie And Jerry
81. Nobody Told Me, John Lennon
82. Church Of The Poison Mind, Culture Club *
83. Think Of Laura, Christopher Cross
84. Time Will Reveal, Debarge
85. Wrapped Around Your Finger, Police *
86. Pink Houses, John Cougar Mellencamp *
87. Round And Round, Ratt
88. Head Over Heels, Go-Go's
89. The Longest Time, Billy Joel *
90. Tonight, Kool and The Gang
91. Got A Hold On Me, Christine McVie
92. Dancing In The Sheets, Shalamar
93. Undercover Of The Night, Rolling Stones
94. On The Dark Side, John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band
95. New Moon On Monday, Duran Duran
96. Major Tom (Coming Home), Peter Schilling *
97. Magic, Cars *
98. When You Close Your Eyes, Night Ranger
99. Rock Me Tonite, Billy Squier
100. Yah Mo B There, James Ingram and Michael McDonald

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A thousand pardons

Yes, I know I've been a bad blogger and haven't posted anything for a few days. My mind has been elsewhere, so the rest of you will have to fill in for another day or two. Head over to the comments and tell us what book or movie you've enjoyed the most this summer.

I've read Francis Heaney's Holy Tango of Literature and laughed all the way through it, but that is the only book I've actually finished this summer. (I'm part way through three others.) The movies I enjoyed the most were Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Aristocrats.

What are you recommending these days?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

How to write up your vacation

Literature professor Michael Bérubé spent a week on the Outer Banks and all I got was this entertaining write-up. It's got it all: meteorology, astronomy, attempted mathematics, a touch of anthropology, and boogie-board slapstick, from a guy who says he "don’t know nothing about no aspect of the natural world." Really a great read.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Catching up with Salon

I don't click over to Salon as often as I should—that whole "spend a minute with an ad to access our content for free" thing is just a tremendous bother for a busy woman like me. (Hah!) Anyway, here are three articles I recommend.

First, for sociological and cosmetological amusement, we have Melena Z. Ryzik's "Divine secrets of the combover brotherhood," a long-overdue investigation into the age-old question, "How could he possibly think that looks anything other than ridiculous?"

A meatier piece is Debra Dickerson's thoughtful article on race relations and black women's constrained place in our society, "I want you to want me." It's funny and tremendously sad at the same time. Go read it.

There's also an Ayelet Waldman column on sanctimonious parents, often adherents of attachment parenting, slinging the mud of their enlightenment at parents who don't follow the same precepts. If you're a mother and you haven't experienced this (as either a slinger or slingee), you probably stayed in the house or off the internet too much. "Breast is best!" the slingers may squawk, regardless of whether another woman's breast function is any of their business.

Waldman talked to Julie, whose blog (A Little Pregnant) is on my daily reading list. When Julie wrote about trying to regain some semblance of balance in her life by letting her baby boy learn to put himself to sleep, she was derided by strangers who were certain she was scarring her child's psyche for life or dangerously leaving him to wallow in his own vomit for hours. (The "discussion" really got ugly.)

Waldman also interviewed Ginger Ogle, director of a large online parenting community. Ogle's perspective is that people who strongly identify with the attachment-parenting ethic have a set of beliefs that nearly constitute a religion. Ogle says, "Some of these parents sincerely believe in attachment parenting, homeopathy, cloth diapers, breast-feeding, baby wearing, not vaccinating, etc., in exactly the same way that Southern Baptists sincerely believe in the death penalty, a strong military, the right to life, heterosexuality, and the Bible as the Word of God." Either kind of strict worldview brooks no dissent. The same degree of fervor you might see in, say, Operation Rescue adherents can also be found in the organic-food-eating, baby-sling-wearing contingent. I don't know how thoroughly I agree with Ogle's theory, but clearly there is heat and fury in many discussions of parents' choices.

Three good things

1. Having a 5-year-old kid who likes to cuddle and giggle, and who thrives on hugs and kisses. I know the time will come when he pushes Mommy away and can't bear the embarrassment of displays of maternal affection. But for now, I've got a kid who dispenses bonus hugs when he's dropped off at day camp. The hug, followed by the bear hug, followed by racing into the hall after me for a bonus hug. Sure, he drives me nuts plenty of the time, but he's sweet and funny, and he adores his mom. I hardly deserve him.

2. Peapod groceries, ordered online and delivered up the front stairs. I've been going stir-crazy all week, stuck home with a kid doubling as a viral reservoir (he's largely recovered now) and running out of provisions. Burly Peapod driver to the rescue! I now have all the Diet Coke (my caffeine source of choice) and Leinenkugel's Red Lager (currently my favorite domestic brew) I need. Oberweis chocolate ice cream, locally made (we'll forget the company's owner is an anti-immigration wannabe politician who fizzled in the primaries and enjoy the creamy goodness). Not to mention...

3. Chips. The variety pack with teeny bags of all the finest crap. You've got your Cheetos, your Fritos, your Doritos, and two kinds of potato chips. Yes, you pay a lot more for the variety pack. But there are advantages. First, variety! No need to get burned out on potato chips. Have a dalliance with Cheetos. Second, teeny bags! Small enough to enjoy some crap without overindulging, and no risk of eating half of a giant bag in one sitting. Third, multi-chipping! You open a bag of Fritos, the kid has some Cheetos, and you can share.

First the five freebies, now the three good things. What should I list four of?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Number Five

My friend who likes the "sexy mind" guys like Richard Holbrooke gave me a hard time yesterday for my freebie list. "Those guys are just good-looking!" she gasped in shock. Where's the intellectual beef? Because there absolutely is something to be said for a sexy mind, I have now chosen a number five who is not merely a pretty boy.

I considered Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker (another sexy mind who has rotated through my friend's list). His column about intelligent design and the White House's rejection of science in last week's issue was especially funny. Anyone who can turn a phrase like "albeit with a whiff of the risible" is all right in my book. However, I've seen photographs, and...Hendrik just doesn't do it for me.

Who else is ferociously smart but has enough charisma to offset a lack of traditional matinee-idol handsomeness? Bill Clinton. Facts in his favor: He went to Yale for law school. He was a Rhodes Scholar. He is known as a voracious reader. Hillary Rodham found him to be a worthy life partner. He's articulate. And—this is key—he digs crossword puzzles. Added to that are tremendous amounts of charm, warmth, compassion, passion, and humor.

So there you have it: Wong, Willis, Clooney, Pitt, and Clinton. The Five Temptations.

Update: Wait, do I need to jettison one of the pretty boys in favor of someone really funny? Laughing is good. Who's so damn funny that he's hot?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Freebie People

A while back, one of my favorite bloggers, Mona, presented her list of five freebie lays—famous people whom she feels would merit special dispensation from her spouse’s monogamy expectations. (This concept was also discussed on Friends, if anyone remembers that program.) Such lists are highly hypothetical: What are the odds Mona will actually meet Colin Firth and have the opportunity for mind-blowing sex with him? Probably slim. (Sorry, honey. The truth hurts.) For starters, he lives in the wrong country.

So I got to thinking about my hypothetical quintet of freebies. (Not all at once! Get your minds out of the gutter, people.) Could I settle on five? For inspiration, I asked Mr. Tangerine who was on his list. (Secretly, I think Mona’s on it, but she doesn’t count because she’s famous only in anonymous blogland.) He couldn’t come up with anyone. I know, I know—he obviously has chosen his list but is sparing me the pain of hearing which famous women who are completely unlike me are actually much hotter than me.

A good friend of mine populates her informal list with men whose minds she deems sexiest—for example, Richard Holbrooke and Paul Krugman, Charlie Rose and Harold Varmus. This approach, while completely valid, is not for me.

Number one on the Orange Tangerine fresh-squeezed list is Brad Pitt. Funny, smart, well-dressed, and totally hot in Mr. and Mrs. Smith Loose and funny in The Mexican and Ocean’s Eleven. Too beautiful for words in A River Runs Through It and Legends of the Fall. And showing a lot of skin and sinew in Thelma and Louise. He loses me when he goes all scruffy with beards and whatnot in real life and in his skanky-leaning films, but he definitely has potential.

Number two, Bruce Willis, with the lights off. He’s not bad looking, and he’s doing all right with the hair loss. Though the Planet Hollywood thing was silly, he gets major points for accepting his ex-wife’s relationship with a 20-something hottie with such genial equanimity and self-assurance. But let’s turn the lights off and focus on that soothing, raspy, irresistible voice, shall we?

I haven’t seen any of George Clooney’s work since Ocean’s Eleven, but I still like him. The puppy-dog eyes combined with smarts and an unabashed liberal streak? Hot! He also seems to always be pulled together—none of those tabloid shots looking sloppy, no embarrassing high-profile relationship flame-outs. Definitely a worthy number three.

Number four is Russell Wong, whom I haven’t seen in anything in ages. His character in The Joy Luck Club was heartbreakingly cruel, and yet his hotness steadfastly refused to be overpowered by the character’s brutality. A tasty morsel, indeed.

Last, we have Bill O’Reilly. I kid! I kid. I’ve only got four people and I’m drawing a blank on number five, but any good list of freebies must by law contain five names. I now open the floor for nominations.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hey, I did it!

I passed the 10,000-visit mark (that's since I installed Site Meter, which was I-don't-know-when) this morning, thanks in no small part to today's influx of spambots. Thank you, spambots!

(We won't discuss the fact that Bitch Ph.D. could hit that mark every 48 hours. The few, the proud, the Orange Tangerine readers. An elite group.)

That's so...Christian

Pat Robertson is emphasizing an odd aspect of his religious faith, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on his show, "The 700 Club." Seriously, I'm not making this up. Something to do with Venezuela trying to become "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism." Yeah, whatever, Pat. But assassination is a swell approach. WWJD? Call for political assassinations, clearly.

The AP article mentions some of Pat's other insightful remarks, such as the 2003 highlight that feminism pushes women to "kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Although I'm a diehard feminist, I have yet to kill my child (or anyone else's for that matter—this probably casts my feminist credentials into doubt). I haven't done the witchcraft thing, but I enjoy Halloween and liked Willow's spellcasting on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Destroy capitalism? Sadly, I have failed there, too. I am an American consumer and I haven't invited Castro or any Maoists to overtake the American government. Become a lesbian? I'll pass. But some of my best friends, as they say, lean that way. Can I still be in The Feminist Club? Please don't kick me out. I don't think The 700 Club would have me.

Evolution, intelligent design, and the President

The daily Borowitz Report (by Andy Borowitz) hasn't been that funny lately, but today's outing made me giggle. The headline is EVOLUTION, INTELLIGENT DESIGN FAIL TO EXPLAIN BUSH: Scientists in Oslo Debate Origin of President. Excerpts, without further ado:

“There are some here who firmly believe that the theory of evolution explains President Bush, since he shares many characteristics in common with the chimpanzee,” said Mr. Kyosuke, one of the world’s leading zoologists. “And yet, if you put him and a chimp side by side, it is hard to say with any confidence that Mr. Bush has evolved.”

Similarly, supporters of the intelligent design theory have been frustrated in their attempts to apply that theory to President Bush, Mr. Kyosuke said.

“Most efforts to call Mr. Bush the result of intelligent design crumble to dust the moment he opens his mouth,” Mr. Kyosuke said. “So we’re really back to square one.”

As for Mr. Bush’s refusal to speak to antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, Mr. Kyosuke said that he has developed a new theory to explain this phenomenon.

“I believe that President Bush is like ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’” Mr. Kyosuke said. “He’s afraid to talk to a woman.”

Monday, August 22, 2005

And what is this, anyway?

Hey, you! Yes, you, sitting before your glowing monitor, reading these scintillating words. Occasionally somebody asks me what my blog is about. What the hell is my overall topic here? Indiscriminate brain-dump? If you can describe my blog in 25 words or less, please do so in the comments. Thank you for your kind assistance!

Why screening tests often aren't helpful

We all know about the medical screening tests that are widely recommended. The annual (or biannual) Pap smear for women, baseline mammogram between 35 and 40 and regularly every couple years thereafter, the annual prostate check for men over 40, cholesterol screening, colonoscopy after 50, etc. We also hear a lot about how serious diseases like cancer are so much more treatable when they're caught early, so there's temptation to screen more broadly. We even witnessed the trend of full-body scanning that people paid for out-of-pocket (often identifying mysterious spots in the body that were causing no trouble but now required a full work-up to diagnose).

The standard assortment of broadly recommended tests have been shown by the preponderance of research to produce more good than harm. You do run the risk of a false-positive test creating unnecessary worry and resulting in unnecessary follow-up procedures, but on balance, widespread use of the standard tests is believed to benefit the population.

With Peter Jennings' recent death and Dana Reeve's diagnosis of lung cancer, the worried well may be tempted to ask their physicians for a screening CT scan. In today's NYT, a group of Dartmouth researchers explain why this is a bad idea at present. It's a too little involved to excerpt it here, so go read the op-ed if you're interested in grasping the connotations of unnecessary early screening.

Sweet Home Chibloggo

Bitch Ph.D. came to town for some last hurrahs before the fall semester and set up a lunch party for her local homegirls. She and Flea motored in from Suburban Heck to join Sarah from Chicago, Sarah's pal Roni, Screed's Ding, and me at a Mexican restaurant, where the margaritas flowed freely in many flavors and in ginormous glasses. The conversation also flowed as we chatted about the usual: the blog world, children who like to run about the house in a state of déshabillé, bloggers, crazy mothers (the previous generation, of course, not us, for heaven's sake), race relations, blogs, how delighted we are to see our boys heading off to kindergarten, our neighborhoods, the shoddy quality of American kiwi fruit, and whatnot. And, of course, blogs. Then we walked to the El (undoubtedly looking very "Reservoir Dogs" gone femme) and took the train to shop on Southport, where we did not purchase any shoes or bras.

That's the great thing about blogging, isn't it? Like-minded people can get acquainted through one another's writings, and then when you actually meet for the first time, you're old friends already. None of that awkward-silence nonsense. It's been the same experience when I've gotten together with the Feral Mom and JT. I hope all of you participating in the blog party get the chance to meet up with your tribe, too.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Things that entertain the language snobs among us

Yes, it's fun to mock celebrities at Go Fug Yourself, but you know what's even more fun sometimes? If you're a word geek? Language Log. Here are a few recent posts that amused me this evening.

First, I deplore inventive spelling. Spelling is spelling is spelling; getting jiggy with spelling is just plain wrong. All those future adults named Maddisen and Makayla and Jordyn—just wrong. Another case in point: The people who market that upright wheelie thing that George Bush fell off, the Segway. They took a perfectly good word, segue, and got jiggy with it. Now, increasing numbers of people seem to think the word that means transition is spelled "segway." Read more here, in "The birth of an eggcorn." (An eggcorn is a word or phrase that the listener/writer has gotten almost but not quite right: e.g., eggcorn instead of acorn, bear-faced lie, butt naked, cease the day, dashboard stomach. A longer list of eggcorns is available here.)

In this post, linguist Mark Liberman investigates the use of the Germanic-sounding verb onpass, as in "Unfortunately, those myths have been onpassed to current generations." The word seems to have become established in the finance arena. Liberman can't resist coining his own words in that vein, such as upturn, throughslip, uplook, and outcheck. Outcheck it! Start using these words yourself and upkick your language a notch.

This post relates the things people say when they learn someone is a linguist. "Oh, so William Safire must be the bigwig in your field, right?" Or when meeting a philosopher. "Oh! What are some of your sayings?" There's also a cute quote: "At this point in the conversation, I was presented with a dilemma. In social situations, I don't like to act like that guy—�you know, the guy who has to be right all the time and rubs your face in it? (Note that I say I don't want to 'act like' him, because I am in fact that guy, but I try to keep a lid on it.)" Can you relate to that? Just a little? C'mon, admit it.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Intelligent design redux

A few months ago, Bill Frist was in the running for Scumbag of the Month over at the Un-Apologetic Atheist's site. Frist certainly had many compelling factors in his favor, but I believe he was edged out by an even more unworthy candidate. (Aww...Better luck next time, Senator!)

I admit I was a little suspicious when Frist came out in favor of embryonic stem-cell research. After all, it hadn't been so long since he added a little long-distance neurology to his medical practice, diagnosing Terri Schiavo's condition.

And now, Frist demonstrates that his stance on stem cells (designed to reach the masses who support it, but sure to piss off the conservative Christian "base") doesn't mean he's gone to The Side of Evil. Why, he agrees that so-called intelligent design should be taught along side evolution in the public schools. Doing so "doesn't force any particular theory on anyone," says Frist; "I think in a pluralistic society that is the fairest way to go about education and training people for the future."

Doesn't force any particular theory on anyone? Let's examine that. How would I have felt, as an atheist kid, if my science teachers told me that either Darwin was right or it was all God's doing? Pissed and marginalized. Kids can get that "information" from their parents or any church their parents choose to take them to. But in the public schools? No. I felt excluded enough with the pro forma recitation of "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Stand up, put your hand over your heart, and...recite words that you don't believe in? Great way to instill patriotism, really. Exclude some based on religious beliefs, and then see if the rest of pledge inspires them.

(There was that one movie my freshman-year biology teacher had us watch one day when he had something else he had to do during class. It showed all the beauty and elegance of nature—mountains, trees, animals—lots of great nature photography. Then the picture changed to sunbeams shining down through puffy white clouds, and the booming-voiced narrator concluded, "Could this all be just an accident?" Yep, you heard that right. I suspect the teacher hadn't actually seen the movie, because the rest of the curriculum was actual science. But my friend C. and I were both stunned to have been presented with that dreck in our high-school biology class.)

A bigger issue here is Frist's statement about "education and training people for the future." Is anyone impressed with how well American kids are learning science compared with kids from other developed nations? No? I didn't think so. Just a hunch, but I bet China and India aren't teaching intelligent design any more than the schools in Europe are. So let's make more time for religion and less time for science in our science curriculum, shall we? That should help train future generations of American scientists to be prepared to compete in the global marketplace of ideas. This country is heading in the wrong direction, and I don't like it.

I am helpless to resist your pleas, O Spammer

I can't help it. I enjoy the crazy names that appear to be sending me spammer e-mail. I don't generally want to write a novel, but the potential character names offered by spam are so tempting.

Garland Mocco awoke one morning with hazy thoughts of lovv-priced medicines, rubbing his eyes. He rolled out of bed and shuffled to the john to see to pee and check on the size of his member. "No changes yet," he mused aloud. "Better increase my dosage today. Maybe three pi11s tonight?"
After a quick shovver, Mocco got dressed and drove to the coffee shop to meet his contact. He didn't dare arrive late: Numbers Bohley is not a man to fuck around with.

Mocco slid into a booth with a view of the parking lot and waited.

"What can I get you, hon?" the waitress asked.

"Coffee, black. Is Alvera your real name? Did I say that right? It's pretty."

"Yeah, thanks. You want some eggs, toast?"

"Just the coffee, thanks."
Numbers Bohley slammed into the booth when Mocco's coffee had already grown cold.

"Listen up, Mocco. There's a dame we need you to take care of. Name's Leola Courtney. It would mean a lot to Mr. Bost if you could help Leola out wid her vacation plans. She wants ta go ta da seashore, and I hear you know some good places she could stay."

"M-mister Bost?" Mocco stammered. "Arnulfo Bost? Uh, yeah, okay, I can find her a nice place right on the water. I hear it's real pretty this time of year."

"This Leola dame? She ain't some low-class broad. She comes from money. So you're gonna need to use a classy name. Something like, Harlan Spotwood. Here's where you can find her."

Mocco looked at the slip of paper Numbers had shoved toward him.

"Awright, I'm on it, boss."

Numbers Bohley left as quickly as he had come. And Mocco felt an unfamiliar tingling.
Garland Mocco left five bucks on the table for Alvera and locked himself in the bathroom near the diner's entrance. Shaking, he unzipped his pants. He pulled out his johnson and was astonished to see that it was a good three inches longer than it had been earlier that morning. The all-natural member-embiggening formula actually worked! He manipulated his oversized member back into his pants, took a deep breath, and zipped up.

Leaving the bathroom, Mocco walked back toward Alvera. "'Scuse me, Alvera, would you please have dinner with me tonight?"

While he waited for her answer, Garland Mocco knew. He knew he was through with being a hired killer. He was through answering to men like Numbers Bohley. He knew he was through being lonely. He knew he could please Alvera if she gave him the chance; he could please any woman. He knew his johnson was finally big enough.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mister President

(Picture me doing my very best Marilyn Monroe impression.)

Yes, today is Bill Clinton's 59th birthday. "How best to celebrate the occasion?" I asked Fireangel of Ms. AngelPants. She had a few suggestions: "I think it would be appropriate to smoke a cigar if you like cigars. Or, you can make a purchase at the Gap—get a dress, not a skirt. How about spending the day getting primped? Maybe you can order a Monica Lewinsky purse online. Here's an idea that the whole family can participate in—a trip to McDonald's in your jogging outfit."

I'm all for shopping, primping, and eating food I don't have to prepare myself. But I'll have to pass on the cigar.

How might one mark Dubya's birthday? Let's see. We could all get together (on the early side—bedtime is at 9:00) and enjoy a bowl of pretzels. Maybe go for a bike ride and try not to crash. Cover our ears and go "LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" for eight years. How about a petulant pouting session? That's always fun as a group activity. And then there could be reminiscing about the wild ol' days of decadence. Then we'll all concoct crazy nicknames for each other, and they'll feel just a little...hurtful.

Happy Birthday, Bill!

Tyrannosaurus Elton

If you've browsed at Go Fug Yourself, you enjoy the mockery of celebrities. And you will also like this collection of pictures of Elton John aroar at Manolo's Shoe Blog. I just saw part of Jurassic Park III, so it's especially entertaining.

You want a good cry?

Go read the birth story at Chez Miscarriage. Everybody's birth story is a little different, but Getupgrrl's story features the background of years of heartbreak and disappointment (DES damage producing infertility and miscarriages), followed by a tense pregnancy by means of a gestational surrogate (complete with the sadness of losing one twin), followed by an extraordinarily uncomplicated birth with a beautiful happy ending. Got your Puffs handy? Okay, then you're ready to read of the birth of Gefilte Boy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Medical breakthrough? Political hot potato

This is amazing: A team of Swiss doctors used a single sample of skin taken from an aborted fetus to help children with second- and third-degree burns. The fetal cells grow so well that one piece of fetal tissue can be used to generate enough skin bandages to treat thousands of burn patients.

The doctors, led by Dr. Patrick Hohlfeld, thought the fetal skin might allow improvements in skin grafting, but they found that the tissue instead served as a "biological bandage that stimulated healing." The children's burned skin healed to the point that it appeared unscarred and was basically as supple as normal skin. And what do you think of when you hear about a kid with severe burns? Extended hospitalization, agonizingly painful procedures? The children in this study were treated on an outpatient basis, with no need for anesthesia, and their burns healed within about two weeks.

While burned children have a greater need for this treatment than adults—scarred and burned skin doesn't grow as a child grows, requiring multiple operations over time—imagine how this "biological bandage" could revolutionize treatment of burns and other serious skin wounds.

Now, here in America, many people work themselves into a tizzy about using cell lines from embryonic stem cells that have existed only in a laboratory, and equate it to baby-killing. I reckon they'd throw a huge fit about researchers developing treatments from fetal tissue. But I think of the children who get terrible burns and suffer so intensely during treatment. The children who must live the rest of their lives with dreadful scars that limit their dexterity or ability to smile. The children who face more rounds of painful surgery as their bodies grow but their skin does not. The children whose scars broadcast their medical history to everyone they encounter, and garner them looks of pity from strangers. Imagine the promise restored in a burned child's life when the "biological bandage" approach heals her damaged skin.

My prediction: This line of research will eventually lead to a Nobel prize in medicine for the pioneers in Switzerland, and burn victims around the world will be able to quickly shed the label of "burn victim" as their skin heals. But in America, people with burns will live their lives with disfiguring scars, as Americans are sentenced to live with third-rate burn care because too many politicians thought they'd get voted out if they didn't ban the use of fetal tissue in research and treatment.

A thing of beauty

Tonight, my cousin L. picked me up and we went to see the new Jarmusch film, Broken Flowers. We'd just gotten on Lake Shore Drive, and L. wanted to get out of the right lane. She saw a break in the next lane over and sidled over, enraging the man who was now waaay too close behind us. And lo! Mr. Old Dude in a Mercedes Convertible was filled with the rage of the road. Oh, the cursing! The angry, angry faces! The muttering that only he could hear! The gesticulating! L. gave him a "whaddaya want from me?" hand gesture and avoided accelerating to close the gap in front of us. This, of course, served to enrage Mr. Old Dude further. Now, he had to exit a mere seven blocks after we moved into his lane, so he had to get out of the lane anyway. He did his best to speed ahead in the right lane, which allowed us to see his vanity plates: some abbreviated version of ADDS AN INCH.

Yes, Mr. Old Dude apparently hews to the theory that driving a sports car effectively adds an inch to his penis. As he curved away (ooh! pun!) in the exit, he continued his pointless ranting and gesticulating at us. As the passenger, I was free to return his glance and hold up my fingers in the universal "you're tiny" hand sign, index finger and thumb an inch apart.

You might think the story ends here, but you would be so wrong. We continue on Lake Shore Drive, and a Prius pulls up next to us in the right lane. The guy in that car has witnessed all that has transpired, and he looks into L.'s car, smiling and relaying the universal "you're tiny" sign in solidarity.

Isn't it beautiful when strangers can come together to mock the unreasonable?

P.S. I think Mr. Old Dude might have been experiencing an upward fluctuation in his testosterone level this evening. At least that's my theory.

P.P.S. The movie was good; it was funny and somewhat touching. But for sheer entertainment value for your dollar, you can't beat The Aristocrats.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Excellent refutation of "intelligent design"

In a silly but serious column, Chicago Tribune writer Charlie Madigan presents a number of compelling points of evidence that argue against the half-baked theory of intelligent design.

"A perfect God setting out to make a whole universe could do a lot better, one would think," than to give humans have the useless (and occasionally dangerous) appendix, not to mention menstrual cramps and ill-timed erections in adolescent boys. "Then he said, 'Let there be bowel disorders!'"

The bizarro aspects of lower creatures, like the praying mantis's postcoital cannibalism and glow-in-the-dark lures dangling from butt-ugly deep-sea creatures, cast further doubt on intelligent design. "Why would he create so many unusual pieces, given the power to make it all perfect?"

Monday, August 15, 2005

What do you call this blog? "The Aristocrats!"

The Tangerine Man and I went on a nigh-unto-my-birthday date yesterday and saw The Aristocrats. Those of you who know me well know that I have a high tolerance for the potty talk and soforth, and this movie was hee-larious! Unspeakably foul, yes, but also an hour and a half of riproaring good fun. Not sure if this movie is for you? Well, I don't want to retell the Aristocrats joke, because that would surely garner me some Google hits I don't need. You'll have to do your own research. You can go to the ifilm site and watch clips like the South Park version of the joke. (Warning: You're not gonna wanna watch that at work or with kids in earshot.) If you recoil in disgust, The Aristocrats is not the movie for you. If you laugh and are intrigued, then find a theater near you that's willing to show the movie (i.e., not the AMC chain) or wait for the DVD. A filthy, graphic joke told by a mime? Priceless. You won't want to miss it.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Calling all preemie parents, past and future

Today's New York Times Magazine has a must-read article by Paul Raeburn, "A Second Womb." For years, there's been evidence of cognitive deficits in kids who started out as preemies or low-birth-weight infants. This article suggests that the NICU environment may be partly responsible for this. The bright lights and loud noises are so different from the experience in utero, and gravity and flat Isolette beds make it hard for preemies to curl up the way they did before birth.

Heidelise Als is a developmental psychologist at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital. She's been focusing on the NICU from a baby's standpoint: how does a tiny baby react to the stimuli? What is he missing from the womb environment? How can the NICU be made to more closely approximate the womb, easing the baby's transition to the outside world and cushioning his brain from the sensory assault?

Als has a bold but eminently logical idea for NICU design: Place each infant in his own warm, climate-controlled "womb room" where his family could stay full-time until he was ready to go home from the hospital. Of course, no hospital has the space and funding to provide womb rooms for each preemie, but it's good to have an ideal to shoot for.

The article is sobering. I read it and was sad for Ben's experience in his first 40 days on the outside. It was bright, with small windows and a bank of fluorescent lights. It was loud, with nurses, doctors, and parents talking, with other babies crying, with monitors shrieking alarms without notice. It wasn't very cozy in his Isolette or, later, in his open bed. We couldn't hold him much of the time. If he was sleeping, we usually let him be. My husband went to work in the daytime, and I had to visit the pumping room every 2 to 3 hours. We returned home each evening, so it was Ben in a box alone every night. (At least the staff dimmed the overhead lights at night.)

Ben's brain wiring is a tad off, as you might suspect after reading the NYT article. He needed extra time (and lots of speech therapy) to learn to communicate verbally (thankfully, he's all caught up now). The way he processes sensory input isn't quite right, and while he's essentially a normal, healthy kid, if he doesn't have his weekly occupational therapy sessions, his behavior degenerates markedly. I don't know how he'll do in the noisy kindergarten environment, and I don't know if he'll exhibit any learning disabilities (such challenges are not uncommon in kids who were born prematurely). No specific cause has been identified for the sensory issues, to my knowledge; plenty of kids who were born at term have similar problems. But I can't help suspecting that being ripped untimely from his mother's womb played a role in Ben's brain developing the way it has.

Ben's smart, curious, observant, social, and active (and has an innate talent for schmoozing). He has educated and involved parents who pay attention to his development and seek out any interventions that might help. But if the NICU had been a warmer, more soothing environment—set up per Als's recommendations—and better eased Ben's transition into the outside world, would he need those OT sessions to keep on an even keel? I wonder. I do wonder.

Approaching a milestone

Hey, Orange Tangerine is about a week away from hitting the 10,000-hit mark! (Um, that's cumulative. You people who get 2,000+ hits a day can just go bask in your fame and stew in your own juices.) While we do not have any door prizes to offer, we are excited here in Tangerine Land. I'd love to offer the 10,000th customer a free shopping spree here at the store, but there is no store here.

My birthday is nigh upon us as well (in a mere two days!). I will be delighted to accept your gracious birthday wishes. Fortunately, this birthday is not a milestone year, and I don't really want to think about that next milestone birthday. (Gifts optional.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Search terms that entice my readers

The number-one most popular search term that has brought people to Orange Tangerine is...erectionphotos. Which I mentioned back on May 17, after Esquire magazine mentioned it. Just so you know, let me go on the record: I have not posted, and will not post, erection photos. This site is really much more text-driven. (Similarly, brazilian waxing pictorial cannot be found here.)

Then there are the obligatory logical searches for orangetangerine or some version thereof, and a few people looking for finslippy (she's right over there in the blogroll).

The rest of the search terms were entered by one sad individual apiece, typically looking for something they're not going to find here. Erotic correspondence? I can't be sure—who knows what I might write in a fugue state?—but I really don't recall blogging about that. It fits right in with my text-driven nature, sure, but...I think the person who clicked over here looking for something like Penthouse Forum was probably disappointed.

Next we have "drop a couple pounds" parody. Huh? And "john roberts" combover. Does he have a combover? I really haven't been paying attention. Mother son wrestling" discussion—again? Really, I don't address that. But did I ever tell you about my college roommate who learned to wrestle? Yeah, the wrestling coach, who was also her faculty advisor, was happy to teach her to wrestle. She could practice with the men's wrestling team, but wasn't allowed to compete against wrestlers from other colleges. Long story short, despite their 44-year age difference, the wrestling coach and his protegée fell in love and got married. (He had to "retire" from his posts. It probably didn't help matters that she had rented a room in his house while she was his student, eh?) The bride's stepchildren were older than her. The groom's mother- and father-in-law were younger than him. Shockingly, this marriage founded on the basics of grappling did not last.

My absolute favorite—and I have no idea what the hell this one's about—is bibles that are orange. Welcome, Person Interested in Orange Bibles! Sorry I can't help you. I'm not much of a bible fan.

lip-liner gloss mascara Uh, sorry, nope. wacoal spokesmodel? Hey, that's me! Sorry, no photos of my new bras. Last on the list is what is the meaning of the word tangerine. Hey, I love etymology! I'm guessing it has to do with Tangiers. 'Scuse me while I look that up. Yep, tangerine (the fruit and the associated color) is named after Tangiers, Morocco, whence the first mandarin oranges were shipped to Europe in 1841.

(By the way, yes, I know this sort of post is a sign of lazy blogging. It is slightly less lazy, however, than writing nothing.)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Blogger Meetup: IHOP Edition, Volume 2

The Feral Mom and I lunched at IHOP yesterday, joined by Ben and the Feral Twins, two happy little toddlers who are so sophisticated now, they can handle slices of toast. We chatted about blog stalkers (those people who visit your blog all the time but never, ever leave comments—you know who you are, and would it kill you to leave a comment once in a while?), NICU hassles, and the unfortunate fact that the Feral Cat has not been posting his evil thoughts lately. Those of you who read Gone Completely Feral but have not laid eyes on Her Feralness yourselves, you should know that she's way hotter than her pictures. That last picture, from the NICU—you know, I bet most women look their worst when they're spending their days in a NICU. It's like coming off a 9-month bender (or a 7-month one, in my case), hungover and cotton-mouthed, saggy and lumpy, owning no clothes that fit, with no energy for luxuries like bathing. I'm never showing you my NICU pictures because I looked like a bloated nightmare. (But that's a story for another day.)

Anyway, after we finished eating, one of the Feral Twins dumped a dookie in her diaper, so mom and tot went off to the IHOP john, leaving the other twin with Ben and me. I figured the diaper change was a tough one, and I figured maybe the Feral Mom forgot that she'd picked up the check last time and it was my turn to treat. Maybe she was hiding out in the bathroom to force me to pay, like that guy on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" who always managed to be away from the table when the time came to pay the bill. (When is the next season of that show? I miss it.)

As it turns out, the lengthiness of the visit to the ladies room pertained to Turdgate '05 (if you have the stomach for it, you can read the whole story at Gone Completely Feral). It reminds me of the time Mr. Tangerine and I went to the Shedd Aquarium and witnessed a turtle in the same dire straits the Feral Mom was in. We couldn't take our eyes off the beast. Hovering in the water in his tank, he'd push a turd out, making progress...halfway there, don't give up...and then the turd retreated back inside. Push, push, push...retreat. Push, push, push...retreat. We stuck around for a good half hour (a very good one!) and witnessed no progress, only the slo-mo instant replays of push, push, push...retreat. The poor guy clearly needed a turtle poop wrangler to come along and manually disimpact him. But no one came to his aid. He was left alone in his elemental struggle with nature. Isn't that how it always is?

Free-range chicken

The New York Times tells us that the burgeoning trend in suburban/exurban pets these days is...chickens. Yes, chickens. The membership of the American Poultry Association has tripled in recent years. Many people are raising the smaller bantams, which you don't eat. Maybe you use the eggs, but mainly, you've got yourself a chicken as a pet. And then there are the shows. Who didn't love the movie Best in Show? Just substitute chickens for the dogs, and what could be more entertaining?

I have my suspicions that this chicken craze is expanding geographically. Last weekend, Mr. Tangerine and I took Ben to Navy Pier, where we rented one of those surrey bikes. We pedaled down the paths in Olive Park (Ben ably steering the vehicle) and went past Ohio Street Beach. Right across the street from Lake Point Tower (where I hear Oprah used to live), near some bushes a few feet from the path, we saw...chickens. Two roosters. One a rich reddish brown, one a mottled dark brown and white. I hopped off the bike and went toward them (am I not fearless?), and they retreated into the brush. (Ha! They're so chicken!) WTF? Does anyone know why there are free-range chickens in the heart of downtown Chicago? Anyone?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Do you fug?

How often do you stop by Go Fug Yourself to join in Heather and Jessica's mocking of celebrities' misguided fashion choices? Me, I go just about every single day. Sometimes more than once a day. There's a lovely picture of Pamela Anderson with Charo, "representing what Pamela Anderson will be thirty years from now." Ouch, and yes.

Back in the day, readers could add their own snarky comments, but then too many people started referring to skankily clad actresses as sluts and things took a misogynist turn. So the posts are closed to comments, but you can still be super-snarky in your own head.

If you're bored, go make fun of famous people who should know better than to leave the house looking like that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Hail to the Coward

Yesterday, Bitch Ph.D. wrote about Cindy Sheehan, the woman who's camped out in Crawford, Texas, asking to speak to President Bush about her son, an Army specialist who was killed in Iraq last year.

Maureen Dowd is back from her leave and picks up the same issue in her column today. Dowd writes, the president's "rigidly controlled environment allows no chance encounters with anyone who disagrees. He never has to defend himself to anyone, and that is cognitively injurious. He's a populist who never meets people - an ordinary guy who clears brush, and brush is the only thing he talks to." She continues, "W.'s idea of consolation was to dispatch Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, to talk to Ms. Sheehan, underscoring the inhumane humanitarianism of his foreign policy. Mr. Hadley is just a suit, one of the hard-line Unsweet Neo Cons who helped hype America into this war."

Dowd mentions the 1,835 servicemen and women who have lost their lives in Iraq, along with 13,000+ who have been injured, many grievously. Yesterday, driving near a hospital campus, I saw a young, attractive woman in a wheelchair, missing both legs and one arm. My mother suggested that the woman may have recently returned from Iraq. I don't know if that's the case, but it's certainly plausible. How else might a young, healthy-looking woman have come to lose three limbs? A recent episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" featured an Iraq veteran, a 20-something guy using a wheelchair to get around because his legs hurt too much to walk. Then there was the memorial service in Ohio for the 14 Marines who had been based there.

As Dowd points out, all the president needs to do is invite Cindy Sheehan in for tea and speak with her face to face. Compared with the huge sacrifices so many have made for Bush's war, is it really too much to ask of him? He utterly lacks courage.

Just a note to add a link to Pat Oliphant's cartoon on the subject.

Oddball dream

This morning, I dreamed that Mr. Tangerine and I were driving around in his crack dealer's car, and I demanded to be let out. So I got out and went back home, where I was locked out but the neighbors were all very sociable. Eventually, I think the mister returned, zonked out.

After I woke up, I related this dream to Mr. Tangerine, who was gently reassuring. He wouldn't use any crack, he says. "Just black-tar heroin." (What does that even mean?)

I love a funny man, I do.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I got...nothin'

It's been a couple days, so I should really post. But what should I say? I'm drawing a ginormous blank.

Ben started the supplemental day camp (two weeks in August after the six-week camp ended) this morning and had a fantastic time. The six-week camp had been preceded by a mandatory parent meeting—did I tell y'all about that?—in which The Handbook of Rules was distributed and The Questions of Nervous Parents were addressed. (My two favorite questions from that meeting: "Will there be a clown on the first day?" and "Is there someone to help hold the kids up so they don't fall into the toilet?") The six-week camp was also beset by swarms of hyperfertile yuppies. Most of the time, I go about my business blithely unaware of my quasi-non-fertility (or whatever it's called). But these women! With their raging uteri! Escorting their preschoolers to camp, toting toddlers in strollers, and pregnant or nursing a baby to boot. It's not a neighborhood that seemed to have a lot of three-child families. I mean, this is the city! There's no parking! How can people survive, trying to pack a suburban lifestyle into a congested urban area? Sheesh.

This two-week camp is at a different Chicago Park District facility, and there are 30 kids instead of 100. I was not beset by hordes of successful breeders, so that was nice. And there was no parent meeting, nope. Drop off your kid, fill out the emergency-contact form, and go. If Ben likes it just as much as the first camp, damn, I'll sign him up for the whole summer at this facility next year. They even have an outdoor pool. ("Swim day" at the first camp involved hoses putting about seven inches of water in three wading pools. And that's what the yuppies fight to get their kids into!)

Four weeks from tomorrow, kindergarten starts. And I will be liberated! For 5 hours and 45 minutes a day. I can't wait! And Ben? Wants school to start tomorrow.

See? Like I said up front. I got nothin'. I have a couple memes I want to fill out sometime, but not right now. One-time-only offer: What do you want me to write about next? I'm taking requests. (Can't swear I'll answer the requests, but I'm taking them.)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I resent the implication

(Via After School Snack.)

Krugman on the undermining of science

Paul Krugman's column today is must reading. The 25-words-or-less summary: The SOBs on the right are trying to sow doubt about evolution just like they did with the facts of global warming, and their sneaky methods might work. Okay, so that's 28 words.

Slightly longer summary: Right-wing think tanks, funded by big business, promoted unfounded ideas like trickle-down economics in recent decades. Since then, they've mucked around with the issue of global warming so much that plenty of people think the scientific data are inconclusive, and that maybe none of this so-called global warming is actually happening. Hey, wasn't it really cold that one week in January? Those liberals are just making things up now. After attempts at pushing "creation science" flopped, the right-wingers realized they just needed to implement the same plan, inventing "intelligent design" and pretending that the issue of evolution isn't settled, that it's subject to debate. The science teachers of Kansas were hip to this, of course, and refused to join the "debates" several months back.

All of this gets obfuscated in the media, where reporters bend over backwards to demonstrate that they don't have a liberal bias. Krugman writes, "I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, 'Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth.' The headlines on many articles about the intelligent design controversy come pretty close."

If you haven't read the column yet, please do.

Ad-susceptible boy misses a beat

Today at day camp, the kids had a visit from Ronald McDonald. Ben came out of this naked attempt to cultivate young fast-food customers with a slight misperception: He said they saw Old McDonald. (No mention of a farm, or a quack quack here or there, or a string of vowels.)

Back at home, Ben's been launching various "promotions." He knows Happy Meal toys are promotional in nature, but hasn't grasped the meaning of the word. At times, he arranges a zillion stuffed animals on his bed so that they're all looking the same way with their dead, plastic eyes, and announces the event: "Mom, there's a promotion in my bedroom. Come and see!" Who can resist?

A bumper sticker

Charlie over at Shades of Grey occasionally takes pictures of vehicles sporting way too many rah-rah ribbon magnets. He can't top the van I see periodically with at least 15 or 20 magnets on the back (I so have to get a camera phone!), but he could fight back with this bumper sticker I saw on the road today. For those too busy to click that link, I'll tell you what it says: there's a red, white, and blue ribbon beside text reading, "I support patrio-fascist groupthink."

The same car (well, actually an SUV) also had a sticker saying that if you like religion in the schools, you should send your kid to school in Iran. Zing!

(Hi, Charlie!)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Roll call

Okay, I know I haven't been minding the store very well lately. I started up a new blog (a crossword thang) and it's cut into my Orange Tangerine time. And I've been forgetting to chat in the Comments Parlor, too. But tell me—who am I writing for? I know the handful of regular commenters, but there are a lot of you lurkers who never say "boo." Please drop a line and (1) tell me something funny, (2) describe who you are, (3) talk about the weather (boy, is it getting hot and muggy around here!), or (4) at least say "boo." Don't be shy. I won't bite.

Hearing people I voted for on the radio: sighhhh

Remember a couple months back when I heard Barack Obama on public radio and totally swooned? Today, I sat in the car for an extra 10 minutes, shushing my kid, because Bill Clinton was being interviewed. Because many of you probably missed the interview, and because it's possible some of the content will make you swoon, herewith a summary:

re: Supreme Court nominee John Roberts—Bill says he strikes him as a good guy, but (and there has to be a "but") he has some concerns about his Reagan-administration work. Apparently there were instances when Roberts was to the right of his DOJ colleagues, and that can't be good.

re: Iraq—He doesn't agree with those calling for a withdrawal date to be set. He argues that setting a date is equivalent to saying "this effort can't succeed," and that the insurgents would then just wait for that date. The elections have already taken place, and the Iraqi constitution is in the midst of being written. He'd like to see the goals met before any pull-out plans are made. (Not swooning here; not sure how I feel on the subject.)

re: mortality—Since Bill's father died before he was born, he's always been more aware of his own mortality than other people. However, he was always "healthy as a horse," so he could push hard and work hard and not worry about it. When his heart surgery and lengthy recuperation came along, he was reminded again of that mortality thing, and it strengthened his resolve to do everything he can to make sure other people don't die unnecessarily. The American Heart Association asked him to capitalize on his situation to help raise awareness of heart disease, and he has opted to focus on the issue of childhood obesity. Also in the vein of preventing deaths, he's working on AIDS in Africa; currently some effort he's involved with (anyone know the name?) provides AIDS drugs to 110,000 people, with plans to cover 300,000.

re: Hillary—Will Hillary run for president? And does he want her to? First, Bill says, she has to win reelection to the Senate; if the folks in NY don't ratify her performance in office, there'd be no point running for president. Then (here comes the swooning) he went on and on about how gifted she is, a strong leader, so wise, gifted, wise, not to mention incredibly gifted, so it would be nice for the country if she served it. But selfishly, he says, he'd love for Hillary to have more time to relax and have fun. He gave her that 1,000 Places to See Before You Die book for Christmas, and there are plenty of places left for them to see together. Awww...

The interviewer wished Bill a happy birthday, though his 59th isn't until August 19. Gotta love a fellow Leo! Plus he's articulate, and it makes me so nostalgic to remember a time when we had an articulate president. (Will swoon for articulateness.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Healthy skepticism

Remember the news story a couple months ago about the pregnant woman with undetected melanoma who was brain-dead from a cancer-related stroke? And her husband kept her body on life support so she could continue serving as an incubator? Well, that body has now undergone a C-section at roughly 26 weeks of gestation, and a baby weighing 1 lb., 13 oz. and 13.5 in. long has been born. According to a news article, "the baby appears healthy, said the girl's uncle." A lot of 26-weekers do start out on ventilators, so perhaps already the baby (named Susan after her quasi-late mother) resembles her mother. It's expected that adult Susan's life support will be turned off soon, and her widower can move his vigil from her hospital room to baby Susan's NICU. While the uncle describes the baby as "healthy," she's likely to remain hospitalized for a good 3 months or so (many preemies stay in the NICU until they are close to their original due date; those with complications may stay longer).

The idea of keeping a body nominally "alive" for months (about 3 months in this case) to gestate a fetus gives me the willies. Yes, I have sympathy for the family that has suffered a terrible tragedy, but it seems like a precariously slippery slope to walk out on without a better pair of cleats. Predictably, the National Pro-Life Action Center issued a statement last night, saying in part: "This has reaffirmed the incalculable value and sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death." If it makes sense for a woman whose brain has ceased working at 15 weeks of gestation to have others decide to use her body as an incubator (her husband says this is what she would have wanted, and that may well be), it's not that far a stretch for others to decide that a healthy woman in the early second trimester of pregnancy should also continue serving as a vessel, whether or not she wants to.

I suspect some of you think I'm completely wrong on this, but that's my two cents' worth.

The right-wingers that right-wingers love to hate

From Right Wing News comes the following list of "Least Favorite People on the Right." The voting was done by 47 bloggers on the right (number of votes in parentheses):

1) Pat Buchanan (28)
2) John McCain (21)
3) Ann Coulter (20)
4) Pat Robertson (19.5)
5) Michael Savage (17)
6) Bill O'Reilly (16)
7) Jerry Falwell (15.5)
8) Arlen Specter (10)
9) Sean Hannity (8)
9) Rick Santorum (8)
11) Tucker Carlson (7)
11) Bob Novak (7)
13) Andrew Sullivan (6)
14) Tom DeLay (5)
14) Rush Limbaugh (5)
14) George Voinovich (5)
14) Chuck Hagel (5)
18) Tom Tancredo (4)
18) Ralph Reed (4)
18) Newt Gingrich (4)
18) Lincoln Chafee (4)
18) James Dobson (4)
18) George Pataki (4)
18) Arnold Schwarzenegger (4)

Hey! Aside from the notable absence of Bush administration names, I have to say most of these are right on target for liberals, too! Except John McCain and Arlen Specter are not-so-bad Republicans, and at least Newt ("Dump Your Wife When She's Sick") Gingrich is hanging out with Hillary these days. Personally, I'd add Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Scalia, just for starters.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Rod Blagojevich may have a lousy rep

...but he sure knows how to suck up to women voters in Illinois. Gov. Rod already issued an executive order that pharmacists can't come between women and birth control pills or emergency contraception. And today, he's signed legislation to allow any nursing mother to skip jury duty if she wants to. Illinois also has a law, passed last year, that nursing mothers can't be asked to leave someplace just because they're breastfeeding. It sure is nice to have a Democratic-controlled state legislature and a Democratic governor who will have to fight for reelection.

They say women will vote for him because he has great hair; I say the hairdo is cheesy and Rod looks like a local newscaster from the late '80s. I'll vote for him if his stance on women's issues and everything else I hold dear is better than the other candidates' stances (which was the case when he first ran for governor). Though if he had a gruesome combover, it would be a lot harder to cast a vote for him, because we girls are shallow creatures.

Monday, August 01, 2005