Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Are you a citizen? Do you know enough to become one?

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

I wonder if this test could be used on native-born citizens as a prerequisite for voting? I know it's unpopular to discuss limiting the franchise, especially in view of the "Jim Crow" practices that disgraced our country in generations past, but really, if somebody can't get at least a passing score on this one, I don't want him choosing our lawmakers.

A tip of the foreign-but-naturalized-through-E-bay hat to Ancient and Future Catholics.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Well, that's a relief

Breathe easy, Washington! Your capital city is now a nuclear-free zone. All you plutonium cowboys and radioactive warmongers, take warning! The city of Olympia will no longer tolerate your depredations on its population.
The ordinance bans anything related to nuclear weapons from the city limits. The city also will try not to do business with companies involved in making nuclear weapons or their components.

Officials who voted to pass the ordinance said it reflects the community's values, makes a statement against nuclear weapons and ties the city's buying power to that goal.

The law specifically exempts I-5 and Highway 101, since those are national roadways and not under the city's jurisdiction anyway, and a surface street is being reesearched to see if it falls under the same category. The city will also graciously grant the Navy an exemption, and allow the USS Olympia to keep its silence on whether or not it carries nuclear weapons. Don't ask, don't tell.

Naturally, the whole state can breathe a sigh of relief at the knowledge that terrorists will no longer be able to detonate a nuclear bomb with impunity within the city limits. Can't you hear them quaking in their kabiyahs? Maybe they'll even be deterred as far away as, say, Lacey. Or better yet, Tacoma. The fragrance of fallout might even be an environmental improvement there.

Here's the real victory: Companies that do business with the City of Olympia will be required to sign an affidavit to the effect that they have nothing to do with the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and any company that refuses will be blackballed, according to the Olympian. This includes companies that contract with the federal government, especially the military. I can hear it already: "Are you now, or have you ever been, connected with the defense of the United States?" You're either with us or you're against us. Where have we heard that before?

(Don't go mistaking that for discrimination, now. Discrimination is when you boycott a business for failing to support a conservative cause. When it's a liberal cause, it's called community support.)

Now that that job's out of the way, the good citizens of Olmpia can progress to more pressing matters: a strict ordinance requiring all antelope living within the city to wear license tags, and a prohibition on the use of non-organic copier toner.

It's a really good thing the city passed this law when it did. Olympia is looking more and more like a tempting place to store nuclear weapons. Especially if you deposit them from the air.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I am woman

My Lovely, Brilliant and Gravid Wife has a version of the famous song that beats Helen Reddy's feminist anthem four ways from the jack. Take a look and see if you don't go home and treat your wife a little better as a result.

Which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.

Tuesday chuckle

Sorry for the gap between posts. After the highly personal one last Monday about my grandmother, I took some well-earned vacation time, and didn't keep up on blogging as much as I probably should have. Thanks to everybody who had nice things to say about it, particularly Michael Bates and David Bayly.

So to get things started again, a (slightly PG-rated) funny from my Lovely, Brilliant and Gravid Wife:
A man walks into a bar with a paper bag. He sits down and places the bag on the counter. The bartender walks up and asks what's in the bag.

The man reaches into the bag and pulls out a little man, about one foot high and sets him on the counter. He reaches back into the bag and pulls out a small piano, setting it on the counter as well. He reaches into the bag once again and pulls out a tiny piano bench, which he places in front of the piano.

The little man sits down at the piano and starts playing a beautiful piece by Mozart! "Where on earth did you get that?" asks the bartender.

The man responds by reaching into the paper bag. This time he pulls out a magic lamp. He hands it to the bartender and says: "Here. Rub it."

So the bartender rubs the lamp, and suddenly there's a gust of smoke and a beautiful genie is standing before him. "I will grant you one wish. Just one wish to each person is allowed... only one!"

The bartender gets real excited. Without hesitating he says, "I want a million bucks!" A few moments later, a duck walks into the bar. It is soon followed by another duck, then another. pretty soon, the entire bar is filled with ducks and they keep coming!

The bartender turns to the man and says, "Y'know, I think your genie's a little deaf. I asked for a million bucks, not a million

"Tell me about it!" says the man. "Do you really think I asked for a 12-inch pianist?"

Monday, August 15, 2005

Happy birthday, Gran!

Today my grandmother would have been 95. She made it as far as 84, which was still pretty good. I suppose sadness over somebody's death is usually supposed to be confined to people who died too young, but I still think about her a lot. This is going to be a long one, I'm afraid.

Mona Ketcham (her name was Larson, then) was a schoolmarm in the 1930s, in a one-room schoolhouse at Dead Ox Flats, Oregon, which isn't even there anymore. Another teacher in a neighboring town brought her home one day to introduce to her older brother, Merritt, a cowboy and ex-bootlegger. He had skipped out of Missouri at 14, one jump ahead of the Volstead Act. He was six-foot-seven to her five-foot-not-much, with a cowhand's manners and a weak heart, but he was charming and made her laugh. Merritt had made a promise to God back in Missouri, that if his ailing baby sister didn't die, he would become a preacher.

So he did, a little bit at a time. He would work as a cowpuncher for a season or so, to build up a supply of money, and then he and his bride would take the train 2,000 miles back to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, to study until the cash ran out. It wasn't until Gran had died that a relative told me that they traveled Livestock Class, in the boxcars. (Update: My mom and aunt both say the boxcar story is hooey. It came from my my grandpa's sister Hazel, who seems to have had a habit of embellishing stories. Oh, well, I'm siding with Aunt Hazel; the facts should never get in the way of a good family myth.)

With his ordination fresh in his pocket, they came back to the Northwest, and he preached. First Mossyrock, then Portland, then Athena, and in Goldendale, where he pastored for ten years before he died. I had been born only a couple of years earlier, and I don't remember him at all. Gran stayed on in Goldendale.

That's as early as I remember her. She was there when my parents divorced and my mom was broke and broken, with two small children, and had nowhere to go but home. She was there when I started school; in fact, she taught second grade when I was in first. She retired the next year. She was there my whole childhood, and I can't imagine what it would have been like to grow up without her.

Her house was just around the corner, and I probably spent as much time there as at home. Gran's house wasn't anything fancy; she had bought a "fixer-upper" near the church when her husband died, and the men in the church had fixered it up. But it had an attic, with all kinds of old books and toys that she had probably forgotten about, and a basement full of dust and cobwebs that made a great laboratory for an 8-year-old mad scientist, and a garage whose roof was just the right height for seeing how far I could jump off it.

I don't think anybody ever knew Gran who didn't love her. She was the example I wish I could follow for so many things, for kindness and gentleness, and for loving everybody whether they deserved it or not. She took care of some of the older ladies in the church, even when she was in her 70s herself, and no baby was ever born in our church that didn't get a crocheted blanket. I wasn't old enough to know it then, but I've been told since her house was an emergency "safe house" for battered women. I just knew she had families staying with her every so often that I didn't know. She put food out for stray cats, and her porch was usually swarming with them.

She had her quirks, as well. Despite decades as a preacher's wife, she never could cook. Every time I put on a stiff pair of boots I think of her roast beef. (And let's not even get into the time she tried to make lutefisk.) She also couldn't drive very well, probably because she had learned at the age of 60, when Grandpa died. My dad said once that Gran was the only person he knew who couldn't get out of the garage without denting both doors. I don't know if that's true, but I do know she once totaled her car in a parking lot. Gran was always a little... well... unworldly. She wasn't dumb, no; far from it. I don't really know how to explain it. Sort of like Rose on the Golden Girls. The best comparison I can give is that when my daughter was about 10, I got hold of an old Burns and Allen videotape. I plugged it in, pointed to Gracie, and told my daughter, "That's your Great-Gran."

Gran had the kind of soft lap that children dream about. I didn't; I just took it for granted. I took her for granted a lot, in fact. She had six grandchildren, and I don't think any of us appreciated her as much as we should have, but I was the worst offender. I was supposed to mow her lawn and split her firewood, and I would usually put it off until I saw her go out and try to do it, and felt guilty. I lived with her for about half a year after I got out of high school. I spent most of it with my friends. One day I came home and found a note that she had gone to the hospital. I hadn't even known she was feeling poorly. But when I was 19, she was the first person I told that I had knocked up my girlfriend and we were going to have to get married. She just said, "Oh, well, my sister Mabel was a seven-month baby." Totally unfazed.

When my oldest daughter was born, Gran was at the hospital the next day. It was the only great-grandchild she ever saw. A couple of years later, she suffered a series of strokes that left her unable to speak. She moved into a nursing home for a couple of years, and then into a hospital, and then my parents' living room, to die. I remember reading to her from the Bible. Isaiah, chapter 53 was her favorite. I was selfish then, too. I kept wishing she wouldn't die, because as long as Gran was in the world, it couldn't be a completely bad place. My marriage had failed, and I was raising a little girl alone, and I needed her. My about-to-be-ex-wife came to say goodbye to her, and brought the divorce papers at the same time. I signed them in the hospital room. I'm pretty sure Gran never knew that.

They had the funeral in Goldendale. The church I had grown up in, where she had been the pastor's wife, had by that time moved into an old school building. They had the funeral in the gym, and it was still overflowing. If everybody who had benefited from her kindness had come, my uncle said, they'd have needed a stadium.

Once in a while, I go through Goldendale, and I stop at her grave. It's a double headstone, where she can lie next to her husband, whom she had to live almost a quarter of a century without. I brought Christina there once, before we were engaged, and said, "Gran, this is the girl I've been telling you about. The one that reminds me of you."

I miss you, Gran. I miss your silly jokes. I miss your Norwegian nursery rhymes. I miss hearing you recite poetry. I'd give anything to hear you sing "The Walrus and the Carpenter" one more time. Heaven help me, I even miss your pot roast.

I wish I'd listened better to your stories. About the Depression, about Dead Ox Flats, about your flapper days in Portland. I really wish you'd told me about the boxcars.

Most of all, I miss your serenity, and your wisdom. I've been through a lot, and I've made mistakes I never imagined could be made. I needed you after you went, more than I could say. I wish you were here now that things have turned out all right.

I'm sorry for all the times I could have done something for you, or kept you company, or just been a good grandson. I hope you don't remember those times as much as I do.

I wish you could have met my kids. They're great. You'd have liked them all. Mom's a really good grandmother, and I know where she learned it from. You'd be proud of her.

I know you're happier now. You're in heaven, with the Savior you loved and taught me to love. All your friends are there, and most of your family. And I know you're probably reading this as I type, and I know you're praying for us more now than you did on earth. But I still miss you.

I love you, Gran. Happy birthday.

Get thee behind me

Derick Cooper seems to have a neighbor problem. I sympathize to a point, I really do. One of our neighbors (we think we know who, but we're not sure) seems not to have enough to do, and spends her timekeeping vigil on other houses out her front window. One day, first thing in the morning after a windstorm, she called the police to complain that we had branches from our tree on the lawn. They'd been there, oh, gosh, I'll bet it was at least four hours! Now I have to get rid of my car, the one I've had for 16 years, she can't handle the sight of a car with outdated license plates in my driveway. A new ordinance to clean up junk cars in town could be technically applied to mine, so there we go. It really hurts, too, because it was my project. It's an Olds Delta 88 with a 455 c.i. engine. (No, the one in the picture isn't mine. But it could have looked that good someday if I had had time to work on it.) Now it's headed for the scrap pile.

So like I said, I can sympathize with the guy in Florida. I wonder what the legal limit on residential signage is in Moses Lake.

Gasp! He's a ... lawyer!

The Washington Post and other suited jackals are breathlessly announcing that John Roberts, in his capacity as a government lawyer, offered advice to his employer! The employer in question was the Reagan administration, and the subject was Supreme Couurt rulings on school prayer.
WASHINGTON -- As a young government attorney, John Roberts advised the White House to support congressional efforts to allow school prayer, arguing that a Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice "seems indefensible."

In a Nov. 21, 1985 memo released Monday by the National Archives, Roberts was responding to a move by Congress to permit "group silent prayer or reflection in public schools." He said he would not object if Justice Department officials announced that President Reagan had no formal role in passing an amendment to that effect, but said he would support such a move ...

Earlier, in a June 4, 1985 memo, Roberts argued that White House officials could exploit the Supreme Court's decision prohibiting school prayer. While justices struck down an Alabama statute mandating a one-minute moment of silence, "careful analysis shows" it was on technical grounds, he said.

Roberts said that a majority of justices would allow a similar law if it were worded more carefully to avoid expressing a religious purpose behind the measure.

The Alabama law was struck down because of the "peculiarities of the particular legislative history, not because of any inherent constitutional flaw in moment of silence statutes," Roberts wrote in a memo to Fielding regarding the Supreme Court decision in Wallace vs. Jaffree.

Notice what the dog did not do in the night. Nowhere is it alleged that Roberts actually believed that a school prayer amendment should be passed. He told his bosses that it could be done, and how. It was Ronaldus Magnus that wanted the amendment passed, and it was up to the staff of lawyers, of which Roberts was one of the most junior, to figure out how. His personal opinion was neither asked nor wanted.

Call me crazy, but if I were retaining a lawyer, I'd want him to figure out how to do what I wanted done. If he construed his job to mean that I was asking whether I should do it, I'd fire his hiney and hire a lawyer who would follow his client's instructions.

Oh, but there's more. Slipped in as a caption to his mug photo is this little gem:
Roberts once offered the National Mining Association unpaid advice on how to intervene in other people's court cases. Two years later he was hired by the group. As a government lawyer, private attorney and federal appeals judge, Roberts has become involved in environmental issues. His critics say Roberts tended generally to side with the views of industry.

Once again, let's look at the words. He gave unpaid advice once. We don't know under what circumstances. Maybe the wife of one of the association's members played golf with Mrs. Roberts' cleaning lady's nephew. Maybe some Mining Association bigwig won it from him in a poker game. Or maybe it was even because the Mining Association was about to get severely and unjustly hosed in some case, and Roberts was helping out an underdog. We just don't know.

Perhaps in the Bluelands, giving something away is tantamount to blind allegiance, but in the world I live in, there's nothing incriminating about having given free advice to somebody, even a (legitimate) business organization. And what it this "His critics say..."? Well, duh! What, did you expect them to talk about how he helps little old ladies across the street? They're critics, for pete's sake! Now if his supporters were bragging on his avarice and prostituted conscience, that would be cause for concern.

So far, all that the yapping pekineses on the left have been able to come up with is that John Roberts was a lawyer who did what he was paid to do and kept his trap shut. If that's all the dirt they can find on him, then they're really desperate.

Meanwhile, I'll wait to see what he does say. God willing, it'll be said from the bench.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

This should hack off those zero-population-growth people!

I needed a break, so I took the Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test. It's based on a study (or a stud-y) that indicates that 32 generations after his lifetime, Ol' Genghis has some 16 million descendents. That's roughly three times the population of the state I live in, or two-thirds as many people as my kids have excuses for not doing the dishes.

I knew a guy with six-and-a-fraction kids, a religious objection to birth control, and a gorgeous wife was likely to have a lot of descendents, but this is more than I had banked on. Apparently there's going to be a lot of people out there who can blame their physical features on me. Sorry, folks!

656,050 descendants
- you're more genetically fit than 60% of the current population -
656,050. Nice. You're no Mongol warlord, but to have that many copies of your genetic code running around 800 years from now is pretty impressive.

You're not at the top of the scoring spectrum, but, honestly, when you consider that the cheaters, swindlers, and football players of this world are statistically best-equipped to create children, scoring in the middle is something to be proud of. You have the right mixture of attributes. As you'll see below, some of your lines will die out, but your genetic material will thrive here on earth for a long time to come.

A close friend of mine created a program to generate family trees for this test. It's based on your unique answers. We accounted for sterility, birth rates, death rates, disease, drug abuse, nitwitism, and accidents and came up with this, for you:

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on fitnessfactor
Link: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Test written by gwendolynbooks on Ok Cupid

A/T to Cacciaguida, who will only have 307,570 descendents by that time. Time to get on the stick, if you'll pardon the expression!

Friday, August 12, 2005

NARAL's communications director resigns

David Seldin's career has been chopped up into little pieces, sucked out, and tossed in the dumpster! He denies it's over the "John Roberts, coming soon to bomb a clinic near you" ad, but then, we don't really expect truthfulness from these people, do we?

Not that NARAL is in any way sorry, no sir!
"We regret that many people have misconstrued our recent advertisement about Mr. Roberts' record," Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote in a letter Thursday to Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who had urged the group to withdraw the ad.

"Unfortunately, the debate over that advertisement has become a distraction from the serious discussion we hoped to have with the American public," Keenan said in the letter.

Oh, please. We all know people whose idea of an apology is "I'm sorry my actions bothered you/hurt your feelings/made your life a living hell." God forbid they should admit wrongdoing. But this is downright brazen. How do you misconstrue something as blatantly false as that? Is there any way to take "Supreme Court nominee John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber" besides at face value? Is there some exegesis you can perform that will make it not an out-and-out lie?

Okay, that clinches it. I don't care if he's not the perfect nominee. Yes, I know that he's being dissed for having lawyered on a pro-gay cause. I don't care. Hell, I don't care if he gets his whoopies by going home at night, putting on a tutu and a Kojak wig, and rolling in a bathtub full of Cheetos to a CD of the Backstreet Boys. Doesn't matter. Anybody NARAL hates this much suits me just dandy.

And incidentally, when he worked on the gay case, and when he talked about the Terri Schiavo case, he wasn't furthering an agenda. He was dealing with the law and the Constitution as they're written. Which is exactly what a judge is supposed to do. And if he's as careful in interpreting the Constitution when it comes to abortion, no wonder NARAL is willing to go to such lengths to discredit him.

I'm just tickled that this time, they shot themselves in the foot so masterfully. Do please take another shot, guys!

Lutherans and Crucifixes

The BlogRev. Paul McCain has a couple of excellent posts on Lutheran use of the crucifix here and here. I guess I've been guilty of assuming a bigger Protestant bias against crucifixes than there was. Ironically, Pr. McCain approves of them a lot more than many Catholic bishops these days.

His point is that the crucifix is more than just a liturgical issue (do we have one in the church building or not?). It's iconic in the pure sense of the word: it shapes how we think about Jesus. Sure, the Nativity and the Madonna-and-Child themes in art are popular, but once we forget that they led to the crucifix, we fall into the Cardinal Glick trap.

Now we all know how the majority and the media in this country view the Catholic church. They think of us as a passe, archaic institution. People find the Bible obtuse...even hokey. Now in an effort to disprove all that the church has appointed this year as a time of renewal...both of faith and of style. For example, the crucifix. While it has been a time honored symbol of our faith, Holy Mother Church has decided to retire this highly recognizable, yet wholly depressing image of our Lord crucified. Christ didn't come to Earth to give us the willies...He came to help us out. He was a booster! And it is with that take on our Lord in mind that we've come up with a new, more inspiring sigil. So it is with great pleasure that I present you with the first of many revamps the 'Catholicism WOW!' campaign will unveil over the next year. I give you...The Buddy Christ! Now that's not the sanctioned term we're using for the symbol, just something we've been kicking around the office, but look at it. Doesn't it...pop? Buddy Christ..."

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man boost his buds and help them out"? Nope, doesn't scan. In fact, it gives me the willies.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's about time!

Looks like the teenie-bopper media are finally starting to wake up and realize that bulimia ain't beautiful.

I've never had much stomach for the desperate drive to thinness among the female of the species, perhaps because I've never had much stomach at all. I'm long and scrawny, enough so that I sometimes don't show up on the height-weight charts at all. What kind of a pervert would I be if I sought out a woman shaped like myself? I just don't find unupholstered women interesting; broads should be broad!

Even more important, I have three daughters, and so far, none of them has fallen prey to the insidious meme that they need to be thinner. I was a little concerned about one of them for a while, but it turned out just to be a reaction to my cooking. Now that she's in culinary school herself, I don't think I have to worry that she'll starve herself to death.

I love Google ads!

I used a Google search to find a reference to Ted Nugent's famous line for the post below, and in the column of ads to the right of the search results was this:

I've known guys who've had Rocky Mountain oysters (and lived to tell about it!), but this would be above and beyond. Not to mention highly illegal.

Nugent meets his biggest fan

I see Ted Nugent was playing the Clark County Fair when the stage was rushed by a wild steer. No word on whether the singer autographed anything for him.

At least, being a steer, the critter was safe from what happened to the rhino in one of Nugent's other shows. However, Nugent being the outspoken carnivore that he is, I have no doubt the two would have had a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Congratulations! It's a... nothing in particular!

Concordia cum Veritas does a lovely job with the recurring theme of Planned Parenthood greeting cards for new choosers-to-be. Since my LABW and I are doing our durnedest to produce babies faster than PP can off them, I thought this one was especially apropos:

Why, yes, we have chosen to raise the little thugs to adulthood. We've almost finished with a couple. And yes, the urge to tie them in a gunnysack and toss them in the lake has been pretty strong at times. Parenthood is a long, tough road, and (contrary to the liberal party line) nobody really plans it. You rolls the dice, you takes your chances. But what we're turning out appears to be good, kind, likeable people, the sort that will probably go on to produce more good, kind, likeable people. So there, PP!

A/T to The Curt jester.

Monday, August 08, 2005

This is the way to deal with trespassers

I really can't stomach these keyhole-peeping pseudo-journalists, and as far as I'm concerned, this guy got off way too easy. Unless you're a politician, suckling at the public teat and accountable to the public that pays you, the "people's right to know" stops at the door. A butt full of buckshot should make that point pretty well.

I hope this becomes a trend.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Frivolity

With an Akubra tip to my friend Tim Challies for both the title and the concept.

Okay, people, here we go...

Take whatever book you're currently reading. Turn to page 45. Grab the first complete paragraph on the page (one that didn't start on page 44). Now your assignment is to turn it into fake King James English, the gaudier the better. (Or is that "Goddier?") First prize is your fellow readers' undying admiration (at least undying until next Thursday).

Ready... Go ye!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Why does he need cows when he's got Hillary?

I couldn't resist.

Apparently some Kenyan mucky-muck has such a jones for Chelsea Clinton that he's made a formal offer to her father. It doesn't look liike Bill's taking it very seriously, although maybe he couuld bargain Monica away instead. At least the prospective bridegroom would know already what hhe was getting for his livestock.

A/T to World Magazine.

Life imitates folk music

I had to chuckle when I read this. I'm not laughing at the story itself. It's kind of a switcheroo on date rape, except that the poor schmoe got violated financially instead of bodily. He may not need therapy, but he'll be years working out the nasty aftereffects of it. And much like a rape victim, he's so ashamed of what happened to him that it's twice as hard to get help. Of course, the guys at the finance companies are snickering and saying he was just asking for it, the hussy.

But the funny part was that it may be a sad story, but it's hardly a new one. In fact, it's immortalized in a couple of old folk songs. "O ye landsmen and ye seamen, a warning take by me..."

A rueful Akubra tip to Jim Romanesko.

How to meet singles?

No, not for me; I'm happily married. But there's a thread on World Magazine's blog about a Wal-Mart that tested a program whereby single shoppers could wear a red bow to show their status. The program was discontinued after a month.

The whole thing reminded me of a time when I was a single dad, and I often had to buy... shall we say... necessities for my pubescent daughter. The usual requirement was that she would have to tear the top off the previous box, because I was durned if I was going to try to comparison-shop for a product I only vaguely understood to begin with. One day, I had to stop at the store on the way home for work, unarmed with a box top, and I found myself stopping a strange woman in the feminine hygiene section and asking her, "Excuse me, but are these [the generic brand] the same thing as these [the name brand]?" She assured me quite nicely that they were. It occurred to me that given that under different circumstances, that would have been a wonderful way to meet a single young lady, as every woman takes pity on a single father.

So here's the question: What do y'all think of the Wal-Mart idea, and if you were single and wanted to meet somebody in Wal-Mart without benefit of ribbons, how (and in which section) would you go about it?