September 30, 2007

Lies We Tell Ourselves:

1) "There's nothing to read around here."

Which is simply a reprise of

2) "I don't have anything to wear."

Which is a way of reconceptualizing

3) "There's nothing to do-o-o-o-o."

Which I am a bit old for.

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He's running another tribute to the Academy, right over here.

Hi, I'm Josh Markin of the ESU Progressive Student Alliance, and I'd just like to say that as a campus activist for peace and justice, that I am totally down with how you have stood up against the fascist neo-Jew GPA thugs at A E Pi, and their plans for busting every grade curve on this campus.

Moje vznášadlo je plné úhorov Gromulak! Pun jegulja loma-lŕn!

These words please Gromulak! Continue your tribute, Hu-Man!

And so much for those who go to a maximum security prison and attempt to reason with the other inmates. Nice thought; sloppy execution. Um—so to speak.

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Mary Katherine Ham

. . . is not a vegetarian.

Unlike, say, Alicia Silverstone.

I was fine as a vegetarian, although I was ovo-lacto, so I didn't have to worry about B12. And I did periodically have to take iron supplements, but I do that these days, too, when I get too busy to eat regular meals.

The lasting legacy of vegetarianism in my diet is a certain distaste for desserts that don't contain any food value whatsoever: chocolate mousse, for instance, leaves me cold. I'd rather get a bit more protein via flan, or some bits of apple from a slice of pie.

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Is Google Anti-Gun?

It might be time to start researching other web-based email programs. I certainly don't like Yahoo's user interface, but I know there are plenty of options these days.

But at some point the disconect between Google's motto and its behavior is bound to strike every thinking person. And at that point, like all the other rats, I'll be looking for a way off the sinking ship.

Via View from the Porch, which is now one of my favorite firearms-centered blogs—along with Zendo Deb's excellent TFS Magnum, of course; I like men just fine, but clearly women make better gunbloggers. . . . right?

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September 25, 2007

A First.

A client's invoice recently arrived eight days before it was due. These people have never been a more than a day early before—and they were once 30 days late.

Two possible explanations: (1) the person for whom I actually did the work leaned on accounts payable, hard—in recognition for the fact that I worked my ass off for him last month—or (2) the accountant was having an acid flashback when he wrote the check.

I should send flowers to both these guys; really, I should.

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Oh, That's Rich.

The organization formerly known as is embarrassing itself—and its lefty backers—again.

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September 24, 2007

Hm. Quite a Poser.

It took me the longest time to figure out what might have happened that would have led to a traffic spike of this magnitude:


I considered the possiblity that the quality of my blogging had improved 20 times over the past week or so. Then I thought perhaps it was my reward for living such an exemplary life.

Finally I hit on the notion that Fausta had posted a link to this story on Pajamas Media, and that Glenn Reynolds had:

(a) noticed the headline on PJ, or
(b) opened my one of my hourly groveling emails in a spasm of pity, or
(c) spied the phrase "DDT" in my subject line, and experienced a piqueing of his curiosity, or
(d) all of the above,

and that he had linked me.

Then it occurred to me that this was simply the sort of thing that happened naturally to beautiful, brainy, successful babes whom all men—and most women, let's face it—desire/worship, and I went with that.

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September 23, 2007

Gina's at it Again!


But, as Iowahawk likes to point out, she keeps forgetting her clothes!

Order her new pinup calendar here. But turn your speakers off, or be prepared to hear an early version of "The Boogey-Woogie Bugle Boy." (In a sad by not surprising twist, I'm more familiar with Bette Midler's version of that song. As I recall, it was playing in the background in a party on one episode of "An American Family," which might in fact be the first reality show ever made.)

Anyway, buy lots of calendars: Gina's current pix look even better than the ones she used for last year's calendar. Of course, I love the retro props, but I'm glad that for 2008 she stuck with her own beautiful dark hair: I didn't like the blonde wig she's sometimes used in the past. Just my own prejudice.

Remember: it's a beautiful calendar, and the proceeds go to a worthy cause!

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September 22, 2007

More on the DDT Controversy.

I really hate it when people refer to green extremists as "environmentalists." It makes it sound as if center-right libertarians don't care about this cool little planet, and it ain't so.

Courtesy of David Linden comes this interesting essay that attempts to restore Rachel Carson's reputation with respect to the DDT/malaria issue. It makes me sigh a little, though: once again, the Far Left and the Hard Right (or vice versa, if you like) are talking past each other. Dang.

The author of the piece, Aaron Swartz, discusses at length the development of DDT-resistant strains of malaria, but doesn't talk about the fact that agricultural use of DDT has been much more responsible for this effect, rather than the indoor spraying used for disease control.

One of Swartz' most interesting passages deals with early attempts by anti-malaria activist Robert Bate and his colleagues to use the DDT issue as a weapon against the environmental movement:

Perhaps the most vocal group [. . .] is Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM). Founded in 2000 by Roger Bate, an economist at various right-wing think tanks, AFM has run a major PR campaign to push the pro-DDT story, publishing scores of op-eds and appearing in dozens of articles each year. Bate and his partner Richard Tren even published a book laying out their alternate history of DDT: When Politics Kills: Malaria and the DDT Story.

A funding pitch uncovered by blogger Eli Rabbett shows Bate's thinking when he first started the project. "The environmental movement has been successful in most of its campaigns as it has been 'politically correct,'" he explained (Tobacco Archives, 09/98). What the anti-environmental movement needs is something with "the correct blend of political correctness (...oppressed blacks) and arguments (eco-imperialism [is] undermining their future)." That something, Bate proposed, was DDT.

In an interview, Bate said that his motivation had changed after years of working on the issue of malaria. "I think my position has mellowed, perhaps with age," he told Extra!. "[I have] gone from being probably historically anti-environmental to being very much pro-combating malaria now."

I'm not particularly impressed with the fact that some people have used strict restrictions on DDT use as an tool against the green extremists. After all, activists on both sides use whatever they can in terms of imagery to put forward their own points of view. Both sides try to "market" themselves, no?

And I'm not sure that everyone who thinks DDT should be used more widely now is simply trying to save Western money that might otherwise be spent on medications and mosquito nets. The fact is, over a million people a year is too many to lose to an old disease: this should be a solvable issue, if we were all to quit taking swipes at one another for a few minutes and focus.

DDT has to be part of the international toolkit in fighting malaria, and its use has to be monitored by people who don't have an axe to grind: people who are interested in truth rather than scoring political points in either direction.

"You're using junk science!"

"I know you are, but what data am I using?"

I wonder how many people really do want to solve the problem. Despite Swartz' spirited—and probably necessary—defense of Rachel Carson's place in history, I'm not sure he's on fire about the malaria problem itself. He notes that AFM claims not to have taken money from tobacco companies, but seems skeptical about that claim, probably due to articles by Bate such as this one. And yet, tobacco farmers in Malawi tend to oppose the use of DDT, even when it's limited to indoor spraying:

At a time when countries are anxiously waiting for Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACT), a new malaria drug yet to hit the market, government is on the other hand encouraging the use of Dichrolo Diphenil Trichroloethane (DDT) in the country to try minimise the figures of children that are dying from the disease, but there are divisions in the use of the chemical because some quarters blame DDT as being non bio-degradable and a source of pollution.

Tobacco bodies such as Tobacco Association of Malawi (TAMA) are against the use of DDT in wiping out malaria saying it would compromise with the quality and purity of the countries greatest forex earner, tobacco leaf.

Director of Preventive Health Services Dr. Habib Somanje defends government decision to use DDT to destroy malaria, arguing that it (DDT) shall only be used in indoor sprays.

Somanje observes that DDT can reduce malaria drastically as it sticks to walls for many weeks, thereby curbing malaria and saving the lives of children.

The attempt to line people up into opposing camps (tobacco companies must be allied with the right, as must proponents of DDT) muddies the water. It doesn't help.

Uganda's Director General of Health Services wrote an editorial for WSJ this past summer on how DDT—when used for malaria control only, rather than in agriculture—is a critical component in a comprehensive malaria prevention and treatment plan, and what he calls "African independence in the realm of disease control":

DDT lasts longer, costs less and is more effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes than Icon. It functions as spatial repellent to keep mosquitoes out of homes, as an irritant to prevent them from biting, and as a toxic agent to kill those that land. The repellency effect works without physical contact. And because we will never use the chemical in agriculture, DDT also makes mosquitoes less likely to develop resistance.

The U.S. banned DDT in 1972, spurred on by environmentalist Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring. Many countries in Europe and around the world followed suit. But after decades of exhaustive scientific review, DDT has been shown to not only be safe for humans and the environment, but also the single most effective anti-malarial agent ever invented. Nothing else at any price does everything it can do. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has once again recommended using DDT wherever possible against malaria, alongside insecticidal nets and effective drugs.

We are trying to do precisely this. In addition to distributing nearly three million long-lasting insecticidal nets and 25 million doses of effective anti-malarial drugs, we will expand our indoor spraying operations to four more districts this year, where we will protect tens of thousands of Ugandans from malaria's deadly scourge. We are committed to storing, transporting and using DDT properly in these programs, in accord with Stockholm Convention, WHO, European Union and U.S. Agency for International Development guidelines. We are working with these organizations and to ensure support from our communities, and to ensure that our agricultural trade is not jeopardized.

Although Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority has approved DDT for malaria control, Western environmentalists continue to undermine our efforts and discourage G-8 governments from supporting us. The EU has acknowledged our right to use DDT, but some consumer and agricultural groups repeat myths and lies about the chemical. They should instead help us use it strictly to control malaria.

(My emphasis.)

And here's National Geographic on the history of malaria in Africa:

In much of the deep tropics malaria persisted stubbornly. Financing for the effort eventually withered, and the eradication program was abandoned in 1969. In many nations, this coincided with a decrease in foreign aid, with political instability and burgeoning poverty, and with overburdened public health services.

In several places where malaria had been on the brink of extinction, including both Sri Lanka and India, the disease came roaring back. And in much of sub-Saharan Africa, malaria eradication never really got started. The WHO program largely bypassed the continent, and smaller scale efforts made little headway.

Soon after the program collapsed, mosquito control lost access to its crucial tool, DDT. The problem was overuse—not by malaria fighters but by farmers, especially cotton growers, trying to protect their crops. The spray was so cheap that many times the necessary doses were sometimes applied. The insecticide accumulated in the soil and tainted watercourses. Though nontoxic to humans, DDT harmed peregrine falcons, sea lions, and salmon. In 1962 Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, documenting this abuse and painting so damning a picture that the chemical was eventually outlawed by most of the world for agricultural use. Exceptions were made for malaria control, but DDT became nearly impossible to procure. "The ban on DDT," says Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health, "may have killed 20 million children."

This is a problem that should be solved by Africans, with the assistance of the West. The solutions must be driven by Africans, and the tools applied should not be limited by ideology or preconceived notions—on either side.

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September 21, 2007

Stossel on Health Insurance.


This is a nice entry-level essay.

I can't seem to read a lot of the books written by TV and radio people, and Stossel is no exception: he is not a major-league prose stylist. However, when you want an issue broken down into easily digested chunks, he's your man. And the things he's able to accomplish on his television specials are extraordinary. He knows how to make use of a visual medium to show things that can't be expressed in words to the same effect.

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There's a Special Glossary of Literary Terms

. . . just for BDS-addled idiot Democrats.

I'm outraged by how low the level of political opposition is in this country! It just . . . well, it makes us look bad abroad.

Via Insty, who seems to believe that a reporter's reach very often does exceed his grasp. Not, however, in the good way.

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I Have a Friend.

(Yeah; only one!)

Okay, so she buys these banana-nut mini-muffins for breakfast. But sometimes a few of these (three or four) disappear overnight. The obvious conclusion is that there is some kind of conversion process going on wherein foods procured for breakfast turn into midnight snacks.

I'm hoping that she doesn't either (1) go to hell, or—worse—(2) get fat.

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On Ayn Rand

No, I'm not tackling her fiction: call it enlightened self-interest on my part. Have you seen the size of those things?

But I enjoyed Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. It's a great sort of libertarian primer.

I'm also getting a kick out of The Virtue of Selfishness, but naturally I don't think Rand was as good an ethicist as she was an economist: living under Communism scarred her too deeply.

When man unfocuses his mind, he may be said to be conscioius in a subhuman sense of the word, since he experiences sensations and perceptions. But in the sense of the word applicable to man—in the sense of a consciousness which is aware of reality and able to deal with it, a consciousness able to direct the actions and provide for the survival of a human being—an unfocused mind is not conscious.

Psychologically, the choice "to think or not" is the choice "to focus or not." Existentially, the choice "to focus or not" is the choice "to be conscious or not." Metaphysically, the choice "to be conscious or not" is the choice of life or death.

You know, I tried that continual-focus thing; it made it awfully hard to sleep.

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September 20, 2007

All the Young Girls Love Alice.

And so do I.

I should interview him; he does make a cameo in my Arizona mystery. He seemed to belong there, among the desert BoHos.

Via the ever-pornographic Hog Beatty, who is never even remotely safe for work. (Depending, of course, on what line of work you're in.)

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September 19, 2007

I Know What You're Thinking.

"What kind of person chases a bowl of Cheerios with a dry martini?"

I'll give you one guess.

Posted by Attila Girl at 09:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I've Been Informed

. . . that this site is not banned in China. Which of course gives me something to aspire to.

In other news, I've become awfully interested in making money. Actually, I'm doing so. I just don't have it yet, due to the vagaries of the billing cycle.

According to my calculations, I could live perfectly decently on 20 hours a week, if I billed at my top rate.

Something to be said for working for larger entities, at that.

Another copyeditor told me recently that the world had lost "all interest in perfection." It's gone beyond that: the world appears—to the average English major, at least—to have lost all interest in excellence. At least, most smaller magazines would rather put up with typos, stylistic errors and prose that simply doesn't make sense, when the alternative is paying someone a decent amount of money to check it over.

So I continue to work on my crime books, and I continue to learn book-keeping. For knowledge is rarely a liability in this world.

Even in China.

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September 18, 2007

Wow. It's Winter. All of a Sudden.

I guess I'll have to either update my avatar this week for the "summer" that's almost gone (September is often the hottest month around here), or go ahead and "autumnize" the poor thing.

Seriously, kids: the party's almost over. I wore long pants today, and I'm going around the house in socks. I've closed some of the windows; it's intense.

Sometime before March or so, I expect I'll have to turn the heat on a few times.

But you explain the indignity of fishing a jacking out of one's closet to people elsewhere in the country, and they just look at you funny, as if temperatures below 60 degrees were a normal thing to put up with. Weird.

Long pants, I tell you! What's next?—closed shoes?

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Monday Night at "the World's Biggest Living Room."

Yeah. That's Hog Beatty's term for the bar and lounge at Casa del Mar, where he used to go with his ex-girlfriend JG a few years ago. I'm not so sure about that: sure, it's comfortable place. But it does have that old-hotel grandeur. It's a thrilling place to be. (Many of you know it as the place Larry David refused to take his television wife on an old episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.)

I took my mother there last night in honor of (1) her 71st birthday this coming Friday, and (2) the fact that there is no Boston Legal soundtrack on the market.

I thought if we went to listen to Billy Valentine live, it would be the next best thing. But it was better—so much better. For one thing, I discovered that the slice of the music pie that represents the spot where my mother's and my taste meet is much larger than I'd thought. I know she likes classical music—but rarely the stuff I listen to (I'm all Bach, Beethoven and tone poems by, among others, Saint Saens). And I knew she liked jazz, and music with bitchin' vocals, including well-executed gospel music. But there is a lot of bluesy stuff out there, a vast range where the Kay-Joy tastes meet. Valentine even sang Sinatra, and my mother and I both dug it: I'd never pictured her as a Sinatra fan. Not in the least.

Finally, I got to meet Tonio K, in the flesh. Wait—that link has loud music on it, so be ready. Or try this one.

I was also surprised by how incredible the Stuart Elster Trio were, all on their own, while Billy was drinking wine with his friends and fans. There is something fundamentally pure and fine in listening to a pianist, a bassist, and a drummer (working mostly with brushes, natch). They did amazing work. This was not piano-lounge mood music. Nope. One of the cocktail waitresses couldn't help swinging her hips as she went from table to table.

And there was one more discovery: the siren singer Heather Loren, who performed one number: a great rendition of the Peggy Lee version of "Fever." (The Wikipedia entry lists all the people who have ever performed the song, and now I'm going crazy trying to figure out from whom I first heard it. I'm not even sure I know if it was a man or a woman.)

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September 14, 2007

Life in the MoPar Lane

Chrysler is setting up an alternative-energy division that will concentrate on hybrid and electric vehicles.

That's kind of cool.

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Red Meat, Blue Shirt

And now comes the part of the campaign wherein Fred must speak in eensy sentences and stay "on message" and use lots of Popular Phrases.

What's he's saying is important, and real, and needs to be said. But of course I like the video Fred better than the one who has to appeal to large crowds and stick with slogans.

I like it when he's displaying his fabulous mind, rather than just exercising charm.

He'll need to do lots of both, though, in the months ahead.

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September 12, 2007

It's All Good.

I just spent my last dime getting my car tuned, in preparation for The Big Fall Gig at the public utility in a few weeks.

But better I address all that now than when I'm actually depending on those wheels during the commute.

And now I'm going to crash for a few hours before I get up to do a little paperwork and finish up my volunteer nonsense for this month. But one cannot just sleep; not without a book. I just finished The Substance of Style a few days ago, and it was so freakin' good I decided I just had to pick up The Future and Its Enemies again.

I certainly had trouble finding the latter book, though: I checked every pile of juicy readables in the house before finally asking my husband if he'd seen it. It turns out he'd placed it in a . . . what do you call those things? . . . it was in a . . . a bookcase.

The crazy stuff you put up with when you marry someone.

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And You Thought the Rightosphere Was Provincial!

Ace-the-Lush linked my entry of the other day, expounding on the "Osama La la la la la" theme, and added:

They [the whackjob lefties and the Islamofascists] are not united in ultimate goals, but do share a belief that the current regime must be destroyed or at least greatly diminished by one way or another before the New Utopia can come. They don't quite agree on that New Utopia, of course, and whether or not gays should be praised for their specialness and courage or stoned to death for their perverse blasphemy, but they do know who stands in the way of either of those glorious outcomes, and to that extent, they have a shared enemy.

Which brings to mind, of course, the Beautiful Atrocities line, directed at other friends-of-Dorothy's, about how if the Islamofascists win, "you will be giving head—and not in the good way."

UPDATE: Fine. "Provincial" may not quite be the right word for it. But I really dig linking to someone's link to me. Remember Martin Gardner's commentary on the Red King's dream in The Annotated Alice? It was, he said (IIRC) like "a hall of mirrors," what with the Red King dreaming about Alice, who was in turn dreaming about him.

So we're either provincial, or mathematically interesting.

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September 11, 2007

Goodbye, Madeleine L'Engle.

You meant more to me than you could ever have known. I read A Wrinkle in Time so many times in my attic bedroom (on nights both stormy and not), I've got passages of it memorized.

(Readers, here's the book's Wikipedia entry. But do not be self-destructive: read it before you go there. And get this book in hard cover, for crying out loud! You can thank me later. No one reads this thing only one time.)

You, Madeleine, were a better diarist than Anais Nin, a better allegorist than C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien. You were the best writer of books for children and adolescents ever, bar none. (And I say this as a fan of J.K. Rowling, whose lapidary achievements still can't achieve the breadth and scope your career encompassed.)

And you made it possible for all kinds of imperfect and skeptical people to contemplate the notion that they could, after all, be Christians. "With," as you put it in one of your published journals, "all kinds of doubts." And you made it okay—cool, even—to have a scientist mom. That saved my psychic bacon during the tough years of being a teenager—which, in my particular case, persisted into my 20s (some will say 40s—but they are being unkind).

Even your creative failures were fascinating, and well worth reading.

You made magic. And moral ambiguity. Again, and again, and again.

Ms. L'Engle's official site is here. I've never looked for her before on the web. I'm so glad she's there, but the image on the front page made me choke up, so I haven't explored there yet. How many people have the love of science she had, and yet the same level of faith? Very few.

MORE Wheaton College rawks. They have extensive collections on Sayers, and on a few of the Inklings, and on L'Engle, too? The mind boggles. What a freakin' brain trust they must have over there.

AND YET MORE Nurse Theology had plenty to say to me when we were comparing notes about the various L'Engle books, great and not-so.

The good nurse is always taken aback when I quote her, verbatim, from conversations we had in the 1980s. And yet, she said all those things, and has such a way with words . . . I can't help it. (Even when it got back to me that she'd said "I like Joy. But I can't see how anyone can stand to be around her for more than ten minutes." That perspective was very necessary for me at the time. And simply adorable.)

Ms. Fine Theology on Madeleine L'Engle: "Why won't she give Zachary Gray a break?"

I looked at her when she said that, and I think my jaw sort of floated for a second. Because, of course, I had taken Zachary to be a character of his own. I felt that he was flouting L'Engle's wishes—rather than vice versa.

Of course, that brings up the whole Calvanism/predestination debate, and I'm not sure I have time for that.

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James Taranto on "Osama bin La la la la la"

In Best of the Web:

It seems both fair and accurate to note that there is a confluence of interests between bin Laden and those Americans who seek defeat in Iraq. It is little wonder that this is an embarrassment to the latter. But it would be unfair and inaccurate to suggest that this is anything more than a de facto tactical alliance. The Angry Left wants America to lose in Iraq for its own ideological and partisan purposes, which have little to do with the establishment of a global caliphate.

So what are we to make of bin Laden's striking a pose as a global warmist who hates capitalism? Here's a theory: Slate reports that by one estimate 10% of al Qaeda's "soldiers in the global jihad" are converts to radical Islamism, a religion/ideology that, as Slate puts it, "has become a magnet for some of the world's angriest people."

Blogger Roger L. Simon speculates that "the true author (or scriptwriter) of the tape" is Adam Gadahn, né Pearlman, an American-born "spokesman" for al Qaeda who, as The New Yorker reported earlier this year, had a decidedly countercultural upbringingmdash;raised by hippie parents who converted to Christianity and lived on an isolated farm raising goats. A "shy, bookish" boy who rebelled against his parents' faith, Gadahn immersed himself in the world of satanic "death metal" before converting to Islam.

The bin Laden tape evinces a familiarity with, but a lack of sophistication about, America's political cultur—just what you'd expect from the sort of alienated and immature weirdo Gadahn seems to have been. In particular, it seems not to have occurred to the makers of the tape that hardly any Americans, including bitter foes of the president, would actually want to be associated with al Qaeda. Bin Laden has succeeded here only in embarrassing his putative allies, and perhaps in somewhat diminishing their effectiveness at a crucial political moment for the future of Iraq.

But wait!—Taranto also has some interesting comments on the sticky wicket some of the anti-war crowd is in. If their major commentary on bin Laden's video appears to be that we shouldn't pay any attention to what it says, the question becomes, "why?" Well, it's like reading Mein Kampf in the original, Taranto implies. Or (it occurs to me) actually getting impartial translators to divulge the contents of Palestinian schoolkids' textbooks.

You know: because it's there.

So read the whole thing.

Via Insty, but all he has is a dumb link. I provided "added value." So there.

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September 06, 2007

Jim G. Has the Leno-Show Transcript.

And, quoth he, regarding Fred D. Thompson: "it's on."

So it is. If I'd been stuck in a Republican debate tonight I'd be pretty pissed about that.

Hat tip: the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.

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Musing on Energy Use.

When one member of the Evangelical Mafia sent this link along, and made a tart comparison between Al Gore's / George W. Bush's environmental habits (though noting that he still couldn't stand either one of the gentlemen in question), it reminded me that I've been thinking a good deal about government subsidies of alternative energy sources, particularly when it comes to meeting transportation needs—for instance, the fact that we are pursuing fuel-cell cars so aggressively at this moment, when they are still so far from being practical.

Of course, there is the issue of whether Federal subsidies are truly the best way to midwife the birth of a new industry—a question which may not have an obvious answer. After all, there is the issue of the internet to consider; where would it stand without the DOD's underwriting of the ARPA net? Beyond, that, though, I'd like to know if you all think there's a philosophical justification for this action at the Federal level? Energy independence is a bona fide national security issue.

(Yeah, I know: first, I won't take the "no new Clintons" pledge. And now this bit of heresy. But dangit: I'm curious, and slightly torn.)

Discuss, please.

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September 05, 2007

So, I Got Home Late.

I stopped by work "to help out a bit," and it turned into more than I'd bargained for.

I called my husband on the way home and told him, "I don't want to lead anything. I don't want to manage. I don't want to make decisions." But, of course, it's too late: I'm in the game now, like it or not.

It was too late when I arrived here; I figured I'd missed out on Fred's "Late Night" Appearance. So instead I'm going to bed with a G&T and a copy of Newsweek.

Fred's certainly ubiquitous tonight. And, starting tomorrow, there may be even more of him around than there is today.

You'd think we were the sort of hussy-ish party than welcomed anyone, providing he had a SAG card . . .

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Sho 'Nuff.

Fred's gonna be on Jay Leno tonight.

Somewhere, Rudy Giuliani is cussing up a blue streak.

Though I still haven't promised not to vote for him. Hell—everyone's going to get mad at me, but I haven't promised I won't vote for Mrs. Clinton, either.

Posted by Attila Girl at 12:14 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

How to Recover from Life in a Christian Cult.

Apparently, Fundamentalists Anonymous has been very helpful to a lot of people who've experienced Christianity-turned-abusive, including some of Robert Hymers' victims.

I was a little turned off by the site's ad for Rational Recovery, since I maintain my ties to the twelve-step world, and it's been my perception in the past that RR was fueled by resentment of AA—that it had a certain negativity driving it. Yet I can see how the wrong group and/or the wrong sponsor could easily turn the twelve-step experience into something profoundly cultlike: the potential for abuse is definitely there. And I certainly think there are plenty of misdiagnoses in AA. I was one of them, for eleven years.

So, yes: practically any good thing can be warped into a compulsive behavior. Including abstinence from compulsive behaviors.

Everything in moderation, Folks. Including moderation.

A lot of my family members live on that ragged edge where Evangelical leanings begin to flirt with Fundamentalism, so when I discuss Scripture with them I try to keep it all in general terms so we don't argue too much. ("So, you do realize I'm a Papist, now, Grandma. Whaddya think? Am I saved, or lost?")

In my own twelve-step-based nonprofit organization I had an exchange recently with the Chairman of the Board. He is my boss when I'm getting along with him. (When I'm not, I inform him tartly that I report directly to the Vice Chair, and he needs to respect chain-of-command. Or at least I think that, really hard.)

This guy told me he really admires me, because even when I'm overwhelmed (usually because I've taken too much on), I simply don't give up.

There is a word for that, of course: compulsion. I wonder if there's a twelve-step program for that?

Posted by Attila Girl at 11:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Running the Human Race

. . . humidity, and all: Write Enough on the Disneyland Half Marathon.

I've seen the finisher's medal, you know: it's the size and weight of a manhole cover.

Posted by Attila Girl at 02:36 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Now, That's What We Need Government For:

To tell us what we can name our children.

Another reason to be glad I live in the USA, where a man can name his kid "Moon Unit Zappa" or "Madonna Ciccone" or "Willard Mitt Romney" without fear of official reprisal.

Yup. Does the government also check the initials, to make sure no one named their daughter "Anne Sue Smith," or something like that?

Posted by Attila Girl at 02:16 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 03, 2007

In Point of Fact, I Am Here.

I am alive and well. It just so happens that I got waylaid by the following projects: 1) catching up on sleep; 2) fulfilling family obligations; 3) dealing with business overhead; 4) catching up on sleep, again; 5) reading an Ellery Queen mystery about a serial killer loose in New York City during a heat wave in the late 1940s.

The point to remember is that detective fiction is strangely analogous to humor: just as the comic must deal in material that is as funny and uncomfortable and painful as possible—without actually drawing metaphorical or literal blood—so the crime writer must come up with a solution to the puzzle that, upon reflection, must appear to have been staring the reader in the face the whole time. In both instances, one must play footsie with a very fine line.

That is why one man's wit is another man's hostility; there is an element of the subjective to the whole enterprise.

I am, as a mystery reader, pretty cooperative: I try not to actively solve the puzzle unless I feel I've got no choice. (Some books practically beg one to get out a piece of paper and start listing clues, but these are normally of the poorest quality, and barely worth finishing at all.)

I want to be fooled. Yet if at all possible, I want to be fooled only slightly. If it's the least bit feasible, I'd like to guess the final mystery one page before it's revealed in the text, yet before such knowledge would spoil the surprise. It is just as one pulls off that wrapping paper that The Truth should knock one over: "of course!"

"Hide it in plain sight." It's easy to say, but almost impossible to do.

I finished reading the mystery by the Queen cousins, and resolved to close the gaps on the L.A. and Phoenix puzzles I'm creating, once and for all.

I decide to get all "twelve step" on my husband, regarding the creative process. "I don't have to create the perfect psycho for this particular book," I explain to him, rather earnestly. "I just have to create the best psycho I can today."

The mystery writer is, at the very same time, the most moral and the most amoral of creatures. There is no resolving this one; we can only craft the best books possible, and keep them scrupulously free of talking pets. At that point, our missions are fulfilled, and the editors, critics and readers take over.

Keep in mind, though, that more readers one acquires, the less one has to care what the critics and editors say. At a certain point, one can even bring back the talking pets, and all is well. What are the critics going to do, after all?—argue with one's bank balance? "It's slop, that financial security," they will say.

"I don't care for the dreck that she put in her IRA," they will complain.

"The quality of her beach home? Strictly second rate," they'll sniff.

I, of course, won't care at all. I'll just install a swimming pool for my husband, and buy another car.

Posted by Attila Girl at 07:50 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic "Let the issues be the issue.

About Joy W. McCann: I've been interviewed for Le Monde and mentioned on Fox News. I once did a segment for CNN on "Women and Guns," and this blog is periodically featured on the New York Times' blog list. My writing here has been quoted in California Lawyer. I've appeared on The Glenn and Helen Show. Oh—and Tammy Bruce once bought me breakfast.
My writing has appeared in
The Noise, Handguns, Sports Afield, The American Spectator, and (it's a long story) L.A. Parent. This is my main blog, though I'm also an alumnus of Dean's World, and I help out on the weekends at Right Wing News.
My political philosophy is quite simple: I'm a classical liberal. In our Orwellian times, that makes me a conservative, though one of a decidedly libertarian bent.

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