Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming out of the closet

No, not like that.

For the last few years I've been a reader of cop blogs. They often post infrequently, and a lot of times they disappear without warning as their superiors figure out who they are, but while they're there, they're an invaluable window into the world that most of us never have to deal with directly.

We hear griping and dark conspiracy talk about cops a lot, but when we need them, they always show up anyway. These people take not just physical danger, but an enormous amount of verbal crap, on our behalf.

Most of their readers are other cops. I'm well aware that I'm an outsider in their sphere. That's why I don't often say anything about reading their stuff. But these guys (and the occasional lady) need to know that we appreciate them.

You'll find a few of my favorites in the sidebar under "Read With Your Hat Off." Mine sure is.

(Six Year Med obviously isn't a cop, but she's well worth reading with the same reverence. She's a hospital pediatrician who has to deal with the sort of emotional trauma that would leave me a hopeless drunk inside a week if I had to do her job. She makes me humble.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The season 'tis, my lovely lambs

That's right! It's time for Cheesy Christmas Movies!

Every so often, as the fit takes me, I'll post a movie that makes Christmas feel by turns tawdry, silly, maudlin or just plumb sentimental. There'll even be a couple of awesome flicks tossed in. Most of them come from the Internet Archive's stash of public domain film. (Some of them, the public probably should have turned down.)

The first offering comes under "sentimental." I posted it once before, but I'll re-up the commentary for the benefit of new readers:

Beyond Tomorrow is the sort of movie you simply don't see anymore. Three elderly bachelors who both live and do business together set up a little test to see what kind of people are walking outside their window. They each toss a wallet with ten dollars and a business card inside, and wait to see who returns the money. Naturally, it's a man and a woman, both single and lonely, and both at loose ends for the holiday. The bachelors invite them to Christmas dinner, and the result is what you'd expect, either in 1940 or today.

It all takes a different turn when (a) the three men are killed in a plane crash and (b) the young man finds himself being led astray by a woman of easy virtue. From here on out, it's chock-full of the sort of thing that Hollywood would roll its collective eyes at today, even for a hokey Christmas flick.

For starters, the theology is a bit clear-cut for a modern film, even though for people who take their religion seriously it's kind of facile. The afterlife is presented without self-consciousness or wisecracks. Good is good, and evil is evil, and there is forgiveness for the repentant. It's a morality tale, pure and simple. If you don't like moral absolutes, you won't get this one.

Besides that, the acting is really good for such a low-budgeter, and there's a nifty little background/subplot thing with two Russian servants, refugees with Romanov connections. Maria Ouspenskaya is the sort of treasure that belonged in a museum; to see her in this B-flick is like seeing Olivier in a soap commercial. So get the hankies out and skip the cliche repellant:

Update three years later: I always knew Jean Parker was wonderful, and this film just reaffirms it. I'm also very struck by the treatment of George's afterlife. Allan is met by his family and taken to heaven, and Michael remains Topper-like to help his friends. But George... George takes a route seldom seen in movies.

It's clear that he has some dark sin in his past, though we're never told what it is. When he steps off into his dark, ominous destination, it's very foreboding. But foreboding of what, exactly? Is that Hell he's going to? Is it Purgatory? That he goes without a fight suggests the latter, but there's no actual identification made of it and the rest of the film implies kind of a generic pseudo-Protestant heaven-and-hell-and-nothing-else. Still, he emerges after repenting and is admitted to Heaven. Very intriguing. (On re-watching the ending, no. It's very Catholic in its treatment of the afterlife. Not only does George describe Purgatory to a T, but Michael is also interceded for by his mother, which is a completely Catholic take on the Communion of Saints. I looked up both the writers, and they appear to have been solidly Catholic. It makes sense.)

So what did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

An Angelina Jolie two-fer

She can be pretentious and ungrateful at the same time! Is there no limit to her talents?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yes, it's true. We're teapots.

Last November I made a bet with Pastor Paul (who's basically a good guy apart from his revolting UW loyalties) on the outcome of the Apple Cup game. Well, the Huskies came, they saw, they defiled us like a fire hydrant.

So a year later, I'm paying up as promised.

From the left, that's Covarr, Long Drink and me with Visigoth in front. (And Octopus Boy occasionally popping in in the lower right corner.)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pope changes his mind. Well, not really.

So the pope reiterates the Church's position on condom use, expands on it a little, and the media hear a complete reversal of position. (Must resist bawdy pun. Must resist...)

Look, the basic Church teaching on sex is still the same. Intentional artificial contraception is a sin. Period. So is any sexual activity outside of a sacramental marriage. Period. So (by extension) is all homosexual activity. Period.

None of that means that the same devices that can act as contraceptives are forbidden for other purposes. I have a friend (not Catholic but maintaining Christian chastity) who asked me once if my Church considered it a sin for her to take birth control pills for the purpose of regulating her womanly schedule. It's fine.

In the case the pope was commenting on, the sin is already taking place in the form of homosexual activity. The additional sin of contraception is irrelevant; the male prostitute isn't going to get knocked up this side of the Weekly World News. The condom isn't the sin; the buggery is.

Basically, Papa Ratzi said exactly what he's said all along, that nobody paid attention to. Now all of a sudden, they hear what he's saying and think it's the opposite of his previous position. No it's not; it's the opposite of their distortion of his earlier statements.

And they have the effrontery to call journalism a profession.

Oh, but this could never happen!

Death panels are merely the product of Sarah Palin's delusions. Liberals would never dream of such a thing.

Remember, our children are going to pay the taxes that support people like Krugman.

Sidebar updates

I'm embarrassed to see that it's been so long since I updated my sidebar, all my kids' ages are a year short. I also got rid of a couple of blogs that look to be defunct. I left some others in place, because I hold out hope of seeing more posts from them.

Meanwhile, I've also got a couple to highlight. First is Lyme and Back Again. Kaari is my best friend's little sister, and while it's strange for me to think of her as a grown-up (I remember her being born, for heaven's sake), she does write a good blog post. I listed her under "Prods" because she and her husband pastor a Protestant church in Mexico. She's mixing her reflections on living with a chronic disease with some good insights into the Christian life.

Under "Papes" is a man who makes me want to remove my hat when I read him. He struggles to balance same-sex attraction with his Catholic faith. While there are a great many gay activists who want to see guys like him disappear altogether, I'm proud to link him. Despite what you read daily, it's not a foregone conclusion that anybody who is homosexually inclined must live out the gay lifestyle. In other words, free will doesn't stop at your willie. I'm not sure where in Washington Courageman is, but I hope I get to meet him someday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Requiem for a rogue

A friend of mine died this morning. I got the news from my boss, who also knew him, when the funeral home e-mailed the death notice. He was almost 80 and his health had been failing, but it still came as a shock.

I've been assigned to write a memorial story on him for the Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™, once all the dust settles and the family has time to talk. I sorta wish I could do a first-person one, but then, most of what I remember best I couldn't put in the paper anyway. I used to handle a lot of his correspondence and assorted office stuff, as well as editing his legal contracts and (at one point) sorting out 14 years' worth of tax receipts. I even typed a book he'd written, beginning to end, outlining a salmon-protection system he was trying to sell for the Columbia and Snake River dams.

It wasn't the first book he'd written. He also published a book on waterfowl that I think is still in print, and a couple of children's books, and a book on how to survive a Chapter Eleven bankruptcy, based on his own experiences.

The memories come back piecemeal. Among other things, some of my most colorful obscene phrases I learned from him. He was the only person I ever knew who could turn a consistent profit gambling. Until he turned 75 or so, I'd have bet there wasn't a skirt in three counties he hadn't chased. I remember ordering flowers for, oh, maybe five different women one Valentine's day on his behalf. I had to hand-create the cards to go with them, because several of them included suggestions that no florist in town would have accepted.

He could never find a lawyer who knew more than he did. He had an entire law library on the walls of his office. I know, because I moved those damn books four or five times. He used to hire a lawyer to rubber-stamp the papers he had drawn up himself by longhand, which I then typed up. The reason he had hired me to sort his tax receipts was that he was going eyeball-to-eyeball with the IRS. He did, and won back every penny they had seized. How many people can say that?

He had a stroke about five years ago, and had to be in rehab out of town for several months. He used to phone me to go over to his Moses Lake office and play his answering machine, then fax him the messages. Technology was never his strong suit. But he knew people. He had his fingers in real estate, agriculture and a hundred other enterprises. He didn't really need the money by the time I knew him; it was the fun of making it that appealed to him. He used to tip waitresses more than the cost of the bill, just for the hell of it. He didn't trust banks, but he carried a roll of hundreds for walking-around money. He always gave it away as freely as he made it, which was saying something.

When he closed the office a couple of years ago, Long Drink and I helped him pack up forty years of doodads and debris. He gave me boxes of stuff, including an obscenely-shaped glass flower vase. Long Drink and I bought flowers and put it on the mantel to see how long my wife would take to notice. Eventually she had to ask why we were snickering. She wasn't surprised; she knew where it had come from.

He was a charmer, a bastard, a rogue of the old school. He wasn't always easy to get along with, but he was always interesting. I'll miss him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If World War II were covered by today's media

If your browser is like mine, you'll have to click the little thingy in the corner to open a new tab so you can read it. You don't even have to read all the way through to get the point. Unless you want to.

Monday, October 18, 2010

North Korean emoticons

It's a couple of years old, but I just found it, so that makes it new. Well, new-ish. Sorta.
screaming out loud

mindlessly shouting praises about Dear Leader Kim Jong-il

I've been beaten so badly by the police that I can't open my eyes.

No matter what I just saw, I'm keeping my effing mouth shut!

Sometimes you have to laugh because you dare not cry.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

God blows me away sometimes

This weekend's Old Testament reading was the same as three years ago (well, duh!), and so I asked Julie for an update to this situation. It's appended at the end. Go thou and be similarly blown away!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A perfect opportunity

A global food crisis? How could that happen?

I've mostly steered clear of conspiracy theories, in order to avoid Obama Derangement Syndrome. But if food shortages accompany the government's takeover of major American industries, it won't be long before the Obama administration can decide who works and who doesn't, and who gets food and who doesn't. It may be engineered and it may not, but it's certainly a crisis that won't go to waste.

Oh, we loves you, Marse Barack! We loves you! Can we eat now?

Lost in translation

The way I learned it in Sunday School, Jesus didn't say, "Go ye therefore and be assholes unto all nations..."

Apparently they use a very different translation in Florida.

It's embarrassing that General Petraeus had to get involved at all. Do these people not realize that not only are they prompting backlashes with their silly-ass stunt, but they're also making Christ to stink among the Canaanites?

I remember back in 2006 when Pope Benedict came under fire for quoting a medieval source that was less than complimentary of Islam. When he clarified that he wasn't really being rude to Muslims, a Protestant friend of mine asked how I felt about his "backing down." I replied that I thought it was a damn good idea, considering how many of the pope's flock live under the daily threat of massacre. Is it worth their lives just to make a rhetorical point?

And even if, miraculously, nobody is actually harmed as a result of this asshattery, the only actual effect these people are going to have is to cast God in their own image, a childish, inbred yahoo.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Placing the blame where it belongs

When George Tiller was offed, all us pro-lifers were expected to share in the guilt, because, after all, it was our impassioned rhetoric that led to the crime. Will environmental protectionists and population-control advocates step up and take the same responsibility for this yahoo in Maryland?


Thought so.

Thing is, it's just as useless for pro-birth-control people to distance themselves from Lee as it was for pro-lifers to distance themselves from Roeder. We actually agree with Roeder that abortion is murder; just most of us don't think more murder is the answer. By the same token, the anti-baby crowd actually does believe that humans are a blight on the planet and people should be forcibly prevented from creating more life. They sneer at the Duggars, and watch for the disintegration of the Gosselin family, and demand more and more contraception and abortion in places where those backward brown people keep breeding like rodents. They stop short of taking over a building at gunpoint, because that's not nice. But when someone else hears their words and takes that sort of action, are their hands clean?

Next anti-birth person I hear taking any responsibility whatsoever will be the first. It's just not in their nature.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How do I mock thee?

Let me count the ways.

Naked? Check. Drunk? Check. Staggering down a public highway? Check. Leg on fire? Check.

From a journalistic angle, I question the use of the words "friends" and "victim" in this context. "Intoxicated yahoo" and "even more intoxicated yahoos" would have worked better. I also think the phrase 'dumb as fungus" needed to be employed somewhere in the report.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Today's satire, tomorrow's reality

New Hampshire Passes Law Forcing Old People To Watch Gays Marry


Just because I love this scene, and it's almost a hundred degrees outside and I wish I were picnicking with the family instead of taking a lunch break at work, and because the Duke is quintessentially awesome.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Old friend, new blog

'm a little tardy in adding Strange Spanners to the sidebar. Lazarus Lupin is a boyhood friend of mine that I reconnected with on Facebook last year. Lazarus introduced me to many of the things I still love, most notably the world of H P Lovecraft. (For which my Lovely and Brilliant Wife may never forgive him.) We became friends because we were among the few kids in Goldendale who both enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons (this was in the early 80s, when the game was new and the preachers were fulminating against it), and he invited me to an ongoing game. Both of us were overly-bright misfits; I was hyperactive and kind of immature for my age, whereas he was almost pathologically shy, rotund and self-conscious about his stutter. Up till then, I had always thought of geekiness as a bad thing. Of all the friends I wish I hadn't lost track of, Lazarus is near the top of the list.

Check out his artwork. He hasn't lost any of his creative touch over the years. Although I don't pretend to understand all of his references any more than I did thirty years ago.

Quote of the Day

From Catholic Überblogger Mark Shea:
White First World Population Planners are perpetually bent on reducing the carbon footprint of impoverished third world countries they deem to have "too many children." They have to fly all over the world on hundreds of jets every year to make sure that some guy burning a few sticks to cook his dinner in Kenya doesn’t suck up all the resources that are rightfully ours.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

An apology from Israel

Turkey is demanding an apology for that savage raid on peaceful Turkish smugglers last month. As a peace-loving citizen of the world, I couldn't agree more. In the interest of international cooperation, I've taken the liberty of drafting an apology for them. Anything to help out, and all that.

To the citizens of Turkey, the Palestinian people, the international press and the entire world, we apologize.

Turkey, we're sorry our great-grandparents pumped millions of dollars into your citizens' pockets back in the 19th century to buy up land in Palestine. It must have been very painful for the Ottoman landlords to be forced to accept money from all over the world, especially at the high prices they had to charge. Why they didn't cast that insulting cash back in those Jews' faces is beyond us. Moreover, we're sorry for expecting Turkey to uphold its end of the sale agreements. In retrospect, it should be obvious that nobody really expected us to move in and take possession. The transactions were just, well, symbolic. We see that now.

Palestinians, we're sorry that our grandfathers went and turned a perfectly lovely wasteland into nasty farmland. If we had only known what dire things were in store after the land became irrigated and productive, we would have left it the way it was. We're sorry that the lives of your people have been disrupted by things like antibiotics and indoor plumbing. We're sorry that your children live beyond infancy, that your water is clean, that your sick are cared for.

Terrorists Freedom fighters of Gaza, we're sorry that you've been forced to expend all those bombs and rockets on us. Our incessant dodging and taking shelter have made this entire business far too costly for you. No wonder you've been forced to import weapons and ammunition. In the future, we undertake to stand perfectly still and not make you waste ordnance.

Egypt, Syria and Jordan, we apologize for our occupation of some of your former territories. We know that if we had just handed them back after the Six-Day War, or even better, just let you win, then you would never have dreamed of using them against us again. We understand that Jews in areas that you control have always been treated with fairness and respect, in contrast to the way we treat Arabs, tempting them with full citizenship and civil rights. Our uppity attitudes must be very galling for you. In the future, we promise to remember our place like good dhimmis.

Finally, to the world, we apologize for all the trouble us sheenies have put you to over the centuries. We're very sorry about that whole crucifixion misunderstanding, and making matzos with Christian blood, and poisoning wells, and the Black Death, and all those things. We deeply regret the amount of expensive Zyklon-B that had to be used to fumigate us. And if you'll just point the way to the nearest gas chamber, we'll stop being such a bother to you all.

Can we be friends now?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Remembering the Blue Puttees

Forget Canada Day (or Dominion Day, as it used to be called back when Canada was part of something great). No offense, Canada, but the prestige you gain as the home of Gordon Lightfoot and Labatt's is countered by the whole no-free-speech thing.

July 1 is a different sort of commemoration in Newfoundland, which in 1916 had the good fortune not even to be Canadian. It was a minor backwater of the British Empire with a total population half that of Spokane today. It was poor and uneducated, sort of the Appalachia of the Atlantic. So when a thousand young men volunteered for service in the Great War, it was a large investment.

In true Newfie style, their uniforms were improvised. Where other British regiments wore khaki around their legs, the Newfoundlanders had to make do with blue scrap cloth. This led to their nickname of the Blue Puttees.

On the morning of July 1 1916, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, nearly eight hundred barely-trained soldiers, went "over the top" at Beaumont-Hamel. Half an hour later, there were sixty-eight.

My. God. In. Heaven. Think about that.

Yes, I know that the War To End All Wars set the stage for the bloodiest century in human history. Yes, I know that trench warfare was nothing but an exercise in futility. Yes, I know that world politics is still shaped by the changes ushered in by the First World War. Yes, I know that seven-hundred-odd soldiers didn't make the difference. Of the millions slaughtered, they were a drop in the bucket.

So what? Death comes only one to a customer. The waste of human life is horrific, but not the point here. Fishermen's sons die as readily, and as bravely, as kings' sons. These boys walked into the meat grinder of the Somme for a king who barely knew their island existed. The Newfoundlanders did what they were supposed to do, and they did it with gallantry that shames great nations.

Listen to this while you read about the Blue Puttees here and the action at Beaumont-Hamel here. And gentlemen, read and listen with your hats off.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Goodbye Stench-boy!

And don't let the door hit you in your worthless heinie on the way out.

I really hope he doesn't come here. My trunk isn't big enough.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Rue McClanahan, RIP

The Dixie Doxy now travels in elephants.

I never watched a lot of the Golden Girls, being, you know, male and all. But the characters were memorable and the writing was well above par.

Entertainment Weekly asked for readers' favorite Blanche quotes. Currently it's at twelve pages and I'll bet there will be more still. She was a fun character to watch, and must have been fun to play, too.

Meanwhile, here's a performance by La Rue that most people won't have seen: her guest spot on one of the most underrated shows ever, Remember WENN.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Quote of the Day

From David Harsanyi at the Denver Post:
Before boats were boarded, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, whose Jew-hating would make Himmler proud, already had said, "If ships reach Gaza — victory. If terrorized by Zionists — victory."

Using civilians as human shields, stocking weapons in schools, mosques and boats, and relying on death and martyrdom as forms of depraved propaganda is the game plan.

Yet, from the bullet-riddled environs of Time and Atlantic magazines to the crater-filled battlefields of cable news studios, courageous pundits judged that the Israeli commandos' response, which killed 10, was "disproportionate."

They should be content with disproportionate. A proportional response by Israel would have meant upscale Jewish condos on the Gaza beachfront about 40 years ago.

Darn those Jews! They keep failing to march to the gas chambers in nice, neat little lines.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm a Ketcham, you're a Ketchem, wouldn't you like to be a Ketchum too...

This is the continuation of the post below

Meanwhile, I've done something I never in a million years thought of doing. I'm helping plan a family reunion. A little background may be in order.

Some readers may know that my mother's family are Ketchams. It's a common name today, but back in the 1620s it wasn't. In fact, it belonged only to one man, a Puritan named Edward Ketcham who emigrated at that time. His name back in England had been Cheatham or something like that. From him are descended all the Ketchams, Ketchums and Ketchems in America. (Yes, even this one. In fact, he and I are about as distantly related as it's possible for two Ketchams to be. He comes from Edward's youngest son and I come from the oldest.)

My grandfather, Merritt Ketcham, came out west from Missouri in about 1921, a jump and a half ahead of the prohibition agents. See, his father had been a gandy-dancer until he lost a hand in a hunting accident, at which time he turned to moonshining. My grandfather and his older brother John made the deliveries. Well, this worked fine until Prohibition went into effect. (I'm extrapolating this part based on the dates.) All of a sudden, the moonshining business turned a lot more serious, and the boys' mother wanted them out of it. So she put them on a train to Wyoming with the clothes on their backs and a packet of sandwiches. John would have been 16 at this time and my grandfather was 14. They went to school with some relatives in Wyoming, then John went to work for the railroad and my grandfather went to punching cattle in Idaho, near the Oregon Slope. Eventually their parents and five younger siblings came out west behind them.

Fast-forward several generations, to last year when my wife finally lured me into getting set up on Facebook. It occurred to me to look up a couple of Ketcham cousins I hadn't seen in thirty years. (Response from the first one: "Wow! We always wondered what had happened to you!") Armed with a list from my mom of my grandfather's siblings and their kids, I sallied forth onto the internet in search of Ketchams.

When it was done, I had located a mess of children and grandchildren of the seven little Ketchams who had come out to the Northwest, most of whom I had never met. In fact, several of them had never even heard of any of us and were only vaguely aware that the family existed. It's been a very exciting process.

Well, to finish it up, I've been working with a cousin to set up the first-ever Northwest Ketchams Family Reunion. We're all getting together next month at Mossyrock, which coincidentally was where my grandfather first preached after his ordination. He officiated at his younger brother Oscar's wedding at Mossyrock, and Oscar's grandchildren will be there too. We're figuring on occupying some pews at that church on Sunday morning. (Note to self: call the current pastor and give him a heads-up.) Then a potlick and letting the kids run around while us geezers compare notes, photos and memories.

I've been really getting a feel for the exuberance Ken has for digging into the family history and finding relatives.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I should really apologize that I've been going so long between posts. It's not just because Facebook sucks up all my computer time, either. (Although I now know a lot of you folks' real names that way.) There's been a whole lotta stuff happening around these parts.

First off, we finally got our house caught up. It's taken near 'bout three years to get to that point. Some of you might recall the financial difficulties we were faced with when our income dropped suddenly. (Many of you contributed, for which I thank you again.) Eventually we got behind by one payment too many and went into foreclosure, at which time the frimpin' [eliminatory orifices] refused to accept any payments at all! We tried to go through one of those relief programs, but the [person of irregular birth] who was handling our case kept deliberately misplacing the files we sent. No, I'm not just being paranoid. We wouid send him our forms and our pay stubs, he would acknowledge receipt verbally, and then a few weeks later we would get a letter that said we were going to be denied because we hadn't sent our paperwork in. This happened four times before we finally got a rejection letter because of the "missing" forms.

Finally God came through in the form of (a) a huge tax refund, more than twice as big as last year's, (b) a withdrawal from my already-battered 401)k) and (c) my Lovely and Brilliant Wife's financial aid for her Master's program. The boost came just as I was laid off from my side job, so the timing was perfect. It'll be tight, but I think we can keep up from here.

And the house has been as crowded as it's ever been. Not only are the grown kids not yet gone to college in distant places (Covarr heads off to Central in the fall), but Wharf Rat and the grandson came to stay with us for a while. (The circumstances were ugly and I probably oughtn't to get into it much.) Again God came through, and within a week and a half she had started a job and had an apartment lined up. We still have the grandson during the day - Drama Queen has been babysitting him to finance her cell phone habit - but as long as the apartment comes through, the job holds out and the restraining orders are kept in place, everything should be fine with them.

I'll have a second post up later on with some fun goings-on. I'll need a whole 'nother post for it as there's a lot of backstory.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hidey-ho, neighbor!

Or rather, hide all you like, but you know I can see you anyway!

Ordinarily, moving in next door to someone you're looking for dirt on would be considered over the line, even for a soi-disant journalist. One might even go so far as to call it "stalking."

Unless the person has been so insolent as to run for public office against The One™. Then it's perfectly justified and her own fault. Stop being such a crybaby! Who wants to see your teenage daughters naked anyway? Get over yourself, lady!

Unfortunately, if he stays on his rented property and simply spies on them, she doesn't have any legal right to part his hair with a shotgun. And with guys like that, restraining orders just make them laugh and take twice as many photos. All we can hope for is that he tries to slip into the house.

And yet journalists insist on calling what they do a "profession."

Update: I like Darleen's idea:
Besides a fence, I would suggest the Palins set up a website with a live feed from a couple of cameras trained on McGinniss’s summer home.

Let the public watch the watcher.

Pour one for me!

I remember hearing this song on the radio on Captain LockJock's "Oceans of Beautiful Music" segment back in 1983 and '84, but it took me until the other day to find a copy. It's also a chance to test out this nifty self-contained audio player.

If you're not from the Northwest, or you're under a certain age, you'll need the background information here (scroll down).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Of Aspies and normalcy

My Lovely and Brilliant Wife speaks for me in every particular.

No fair!

We boycotted you first! You don't get to do it back!
... Gary Pierce, a commissioner on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission, wrote a letter to Villaraigosa slamming his City Council's decision to boycott the Grand Canyon State -- in protest of its immigration law -- by suspending official travel there and ending future contracts with state businesses.

Noting that a quarter of Los Angeles' electricity comes from Arizona power plants, Pierce threatened to pull the plug if the City Council does not reconsider.

"Doggone it -- if you're going to boycott this candy store ... then don't come in for any of it," Pierce told

In the letter, he ridiculed Villaraigosa for saying that the point of the boycott was to "send a message" by severing the "resources and ties" they share.

"I received your message; please receive mine. As a statewide elected member of the Arizona Corporation Commission overseeing Arizona's electric and water utilities, I too am keenly aware of the 'resources and ties' we share with the city of Los Angeles," Pierce wrote.

"If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation."


"I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands," Pierce wrote. "If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy."

Moral of the story: Don't piss off the hicks. Your fancy cities will turn into post-apocalyptic nightmares without us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Haggin' out

Update on Sunday, May 2: The show on Thursday was postponed because Merle was sick, so we're seeing him tonight instead. And you're not! Neener neener!

What's better than finding out that Merle Haggard is playing in the next city? Having a friend who gets you comp tickets!

My Lovely and Brilliant Wife and I will be seeing the legend himself tomorrow night up in Wenatchee. Despite being from California, she was just a little vague on exactly who Merle was, so I obligingly inflicted one video after another on her this morning. By the time we get to Wenatchee, she'll probably be so sick of hearing The Hag that she'll cling to the doorposts screaming to be spared from going into the stadium.

In the course of looking around for videos, I ran across this little gem: a duet with Ernest Tubb (may the whiteness of his sainted Stetson never be dimmed!). Merle comes on at about 1:41.

Merle Haggard And Ernest Tubb - The best video clips are here

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Make slavery safe, legal and rare!

Ever notice that in most discussions of abortion, you could swap "property rights" for "abortion rights," "slave dealer" for "abortionist" and "abolitionist" for "anti-abortion activist," and have the exact same argument as two centuries ago? Try it with this nauseating lament and see for yourself.

It seems the old generation of slaveholders is beginning to die out, and the young people don't have the same enthusiasm for holding their fellow man in bondage. Who, the writer wonders, will keep the negroes on the plantation for years to come? Will the peculiar institution die out for lack of enthusiasm? Never, cries our stalwart columnist! It must not be! My darkies, my choice!

My fondest hope is that one day abortion will be as repugnant as slavery, and for the same reason - there is no excuse for one person's humanity being at the sole discretion of another. It's not a matter of "moral complexities." It's a matter of whether human rights actually mean anything at all. If a human being is either ownable or disposable, then they don't. It's the same old argument with different victims.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My grandson, my revenge

Remember how your parents always said, "I hope you have one just like you?"

It works!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boys beware!

Go ahead and watch this film. I know it's kind of offensive, but watch it anyway. You'll need it for reference.

All done? Good. Look, this film was made in 1961. As late as the 1970s I remember being warned about homosexuals and public restrooms every time we went to Portland to go shopping. Times have changed. Can we agree that this would be repudiated today?

Except in one case, and here's where you need to think back to the film. If you made this film today, and replaced the word "homosexual" with "priest," it would be acclaimed in media reviews and perhaps shown in every school in the country. Put a white collar on Ralph and nobody would question its veracity.

Want evidence? Pull up almost any news story dealing with the Catholic Church. Even on an unrelated story, look down at the reader comments and see how far down you have to read before some yahoo brings up the fondling fathers. It's worse on the actual abuse stories. Some people actually believe that the Church runs schools and orphanages for the sole purpose of keeping its priests supplied with victims. And God forbid anyone should suggest that any accusation might be exaggerated. Better to be a Nazi than a priest in today's climate.

I once asked David Clohessy, the executive director of SNAP (Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests) whether his organization had ever, under any circumstances, admitted that a given priest had been cleared of charges and deserved to be left in ministry. He didn't answer, but a look at the organization's website suggests that they not only haven't, but would consider the whole idea preposterous. An uncharged priest is just a pervert who hasn't been caught yet.

This leads into another post, which I'll put up in a bit.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

There's oldies...

...and then there's oldies.

A song by Nick Alexander that I put up with Long Drink in mind. He's taken up Latin as a hobby and I thought he'd get a kick out of it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

This one's for Ricki

Because there might be a couple of variations here that she hasn't heard a thousand times.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Swinging into the weekend

It's been a while since I've posted. Not that there's any lack of things to comment on these days. But between work and family stuff, there just hasn't been much time. (Including planning a family reunion! More about that as it unfolds.)

So just for the heck of it, a western swing song that I find darkly amusing (and unable to get out of my head) from the Sweet Violet Boys, courtesy of High-Falutin' Newton:

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Ask your doctor if it's right for you

There was a time when I wish my doctor would have said these things to me.

The dialogue in this is NSFW, which in this case stands for Not Safe For Wives. Nor for work, for that matter. A little crude. But gents, you'll appreciate it.

Via Miss C.

See what I mean?

Here's a good example of the sort of sneering I was responding to in my earlier post:
In fact, it does not matter what Wal-Mart does. We will still hate it. Because our hatred for Wal-Mart is not, in fact, based on anything the company does; it is based on what the company is. It is a big box. A big, bland, concrete warehouse. It hurts us, the very vision of it. Wal-Mart comes into town and builds an ugly box and then all the regular little stores shut down, and all that is left is a big ugly box on the outskirts of town. And inside that box are bright, harsh lights and ugly Republican people and lots of NASCAR-branded items and a pervasive atmosphere of small-town hopelessness.

I'll bet Hamilton Nolan (hereinafter referred to as "Dickhead") has never tried to support a family of nine on an annual salary under thirty grand. That's the sort of thing that only us ugly, hopeless, Republican Wal-Mart customers would do. While raising the ugly, hopeless, Republican children that will someday support his pretty, selfish, elitist ass.

A valentine to film noir

Found this over at Miss Cellania's place. I love the way it brings out the natural subconscious rhythm of the noir. The YouTube page has a list of the films used. I was surprised at how many I recognized but couldn't put a name to. I'll have to watch again and see if they jump out at me a little more.

I wish there were a way to give the maker of this video as much applause as he (she?)deserves.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Refusing to sow the seeds of prosperity

When the economy tanks, it's trendy to blame either the president in power or his predecessor, whichever one you voted against. In reality, there's dang little that a president can do to affect the economy very much, at least in our checked-and-balanced system. Little nudges here and there are the most we can - or should - expect from a chief executive.

So I don't hold either President Obama or President Bush responsible for the current recession. It was going to happen anyway, sooner or later. Later it might have been worse.

That said, I think we're inexorably headed for a crash that will make this one look like a minor slump. It will hit just as my Generation X begins to head into the later years of our lives. Already, we're the first generation since the turn of the last century to earn less money overall than our parents. And we're shaping up to be poorer than our children, too.

But that's for those of us who have children. Mark Steyn enunciates what I've been saying for years to anyone who will listen: Contraception and child-aversion are literally going to be the ruin of our country.
What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1 — or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: Ten grandparents have six kids have four grandkids — ie, the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 “lowest-low” fertility — the point from which no society has ever recovered. And, compared to Spain and Italy, Greece has the least worst fertility rate in Mediterranean Europe.

So you can’t borrow against the future because, in the most basic sense, you don’t have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around? [Emphases mine]

This is another case in which there's not a heck of a lot the government can do. It's societal attitudes that need to change, and government is notoriously bad at accomplishing that.

As Steyn points out, each generation is eventually dependent on the generation following it to pay the taxes that will support us. The way our economy is structured now, we're dependent on generations not yet born to repay our debts. This would be possible if there were going to be enough producers to support their elders who are becoming consumers. But Americans are trying hard to ensure there won't be.

Look at the vile way the Duggar family is spoken of in liberal circles. (This attitude isn't limited to political liberals, but that does seem to be where it's strongest.) They're called creepy, brainwashed, disgusting. One assclown wrote a screed four and a half years – and three Duggars – ago that still makes me want to take a two-by-four to his skull.

How a person reacts to the Duggar family – or even to our own eight kids – says volumes about how much he cares about the future.

Now, I know people who have no children for valid reasons. I'm thinking of one blog-friend (whom I won't link because I don't want to embarrass her) who says frankly that her own upbringing was so screwed up that she doesn't think she could raise children well. Obviously there are people who have never married, or stayed married, and so aren't in a position to raise kids. And naturally there are people who simply can't produce any. So it goes. Families like ours can fill a little bit of the gap.

But what about the vast number of Americans who simply don't want to have children, or who intentionally have only one or two, because they don't want to go to the trouble? They don't want to have to shop at Wal-Mart, or pre-plan their evenings out, or work at a job that allows time for a family. That's their choice, you say? Their preference? Practicing responsible family planning? Phooey. That's selfishness. It's the equivalent of dining-and-dashing. And the party at the next table is going to be stuck with the tab.

As we see in Stein's article, the current crisis in Greece is the same thing we're gearing up for. Currently we're coasting on the fecundity of our grandparents and great-grandparents. But twenty years from now, there will be no legacy left. To quote Robert Heinlein, nobody owns his genes; he's merely their custodian. Non-breeders have no right to leave the rest of us in the lurch this way.

What we need is to stop regarding children as a hassle, or as a burden, or as a commodity. That's right, the "As God is my witness I will give birth to something that looks just like me" people - the ones who insist on fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization instead of adopting children who need parents - have the same crappy approach that the intentionally childless have. In both cases, they're treating children as something other than what they are: little people. Human beings, the same as themselves.

Now, it sounds like I'm making a contradiction here. Are children people, or are they taxpayers? The truth is, they're both. They're human beings whose existence is intrinsically a good thing. And they're also our future. They're worth having and worth investing in. A society that values them will be a society that benefits from them. A society that prevents, aborts and objectifies them is headed over the precipice. It's probably already too late.

H/T to The Paragraph Farmer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Next week on Family Guy...

Meg's new classmate is a little girl described as a "pickaninny," who says "Mah mamma is the Fuhst Lady and the President's mah daddy... Ah thinks."

Liberals expected to find this hilarious.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

'Sgen ti sws i fi? (For Wharf Rat)

Making some use of the USB turntable my Lovely and Brilliant Wife gave me as a Father's Day present last year, I transferred some hard-to-find Welsh pop from vinyl to the computer. I remember Wharf Rat singing along with this song when she wasn't much more than three or four.

The title means "Do you have a kiss for me?" It's a really cute song by an 80s pop band called Bando, sung from the POV of children on the playground. The sort of rap-esque parts are actually Welsh nursery rhymes. Wharf Rat knew those, too, as I used to read them to her. If I get time I may see if I can transcribe the words one of these days. This is the accent I learned the language in, but I've gotten so rusty it's hard to make out some of them and the lyric sheet I had for the album has long ago disappeared.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I've heard of Miller Time, but...

This wasn't even a typo or anything. It was just a really, really unfortunate juxtaposition. The news layout person here at The Greatest Newspaper in the Northwest™ can't see the ads on the screen, so she had no idea what was next to the headline. Fortunately, the realtor (whose face I've intentionally blurred) has a good sense of humor.

It reminds me of a time years ago, when we still ran our own presses, and we got a furious phone call from the owner of a restaurant. He had placed an ad for experienced cooks and was unhappy with the result. Seems back in the press room, a speck of dust had fallen on the plate and turned the second "o" into a "c." That the ad also said "References required" didn't help. That guy didn't have a sense of humor. But then, who could blame him with the calls he was probably getting?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Looking backward through a glass darkly

For our anniversary, my Lovely and Brilliant Wife gave me a VCR-Computer converter so I could put the old movies I've stored away on VHS onto my computer and thence onto DVD. Well, the first thing I converted was my dad's wedding video from 1985. Because it wasn't copyrighted, I stuck it up on the Internet Archive for the world to see.

The quality is a little grungy, either from the aged tape or from my too-wimpy computer. Mostly it will be of interest to family members, although anyone who wants to is welcome to mock the sight of me, standing up as the best man at 18 in my first grown-up suit. (I still have that jacket hanging in my closet.)

It was really strange hearing my dad's voice. See, I sound a whole lot like him, just slightly lower. But Long Drink could be a ringer for him every time he opens his mouth. I hadn't realized they were that similar. Mostly, it was good just to see my dad as I remember him, six years before he died. We had kind of a complicated relationship, my dad and I, and I wish he could have lived to see it settle into normalcy and to enjoy his tribe of grandchildren.

Monday, February 08, 2010

I thought we settled this at Yorktown

BBC: Why don't Americans vote like their betters?

Condescending gits.

Smoke this, Frank Rich!

I can't see why anyone would waste perfectly good ink on this uncultured ass-ferret.
[T]he most common last-ditch argument for preserving “don’t ask” heard last week, largely from Southern senators, is to protect “troop morale and cohesion.” Every known study says this argument is a canard, as do the real-life examples of the many armies with openly gay troops, including those of Canada, Britain and Israel. But the argument does carry a telling historical pedigree. When Harry Truman ordered the racial integration of the American military in 1948, Congressional opponents (then mainly Southern Democrats) embraced an antediluvian Army prediction from 1940 stating that such a change would threaten national defense by producing “situations destructive to morale.” History will sweep this bogus argument away now as it did then.

This from a carefully-balanced editorial called "Smoke the Bigots out of the Closet." See, in Rich's world, it's only bigotry that keeps us all from thrusting the entire U. S. military into a frenzy of fabulosity.

Now, personally, I think the whole issue is going to need to be dealt with soon, and the solution is not to keep gay people out of the service altogether. DADT was nothing more than a stopgap and I don't think anyone expected it to be. I'm glad to see that President Obama isn't trying to force the issue through himself. Frankly, I don't think he's got the chops with the military to pull it off, even as commander-in-chief. But if the push comes from senior officers who have earned respect, they may be able to work out an accommodation that doesn't alienate the vast majority of servicemen who are heterosexual.

But Rich will have none of that. He draws on his vast knowledge of military culture, gleaned from avoiding service in Vietnam, to show that John McCain actually knows nothing about the profession of arms. And clearly, Marine wife Cassandra is just ironing her sheet and soaking her cross in gasoline when she writes:
Unlike skin color, human sexuality - whether female or male, heterosexual or homosexual - is a fundamental and extremely powerful driver of human behavior. To elide past this basic truth requires an almost willful act of blindness.

My own opinions about both women and gays openly serving in the military have undergone a radical shift during the last thirty years. I began by seeing no reason why both women and gays shouldn't be able to serve anywhere they wished to. What changed my mind over the years, contrary to the bigoted assertions of close minded individuals who refuse to entertain ideas that challenge their world view, was not misogyny or fear of Teh Gay...

There are rational objections to allowing gays to serve openly and they aren't based on the assumption that homosexuals behave differently than heterosexuals. They are based on the assumption that gays are no different from you and me. How is that bigotry?

Well, to Frank Rich, "bigotry" actually translates to "ability to count to twenty-one with your fly zipped." Read the whole thing. That will put you light-years ahead of the washed-up ignoramus who edits the New York Times.

P.S.: Here's more bigotry information from Cassandra that the Times will vilify you for knowing.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

This is a vague title

I do this, at least on the rare occasions anymore that I write a long enough post. In fact, this is the two-sentence version of the same thing.

H/T to Patrick.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How is it possible...

... that these people once ruled a quarter of the globe?

I'm beginning to agree with Kathy Shaidle's assessment of modern Britain - "Dear Luftwaffe: Please come back. All is forgiven."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I can't believe how much I enjoyed this

My Lovely and Brilliant Wife said, "That must have been the second box of wine." She also pointed out with some asperity that everybody who makes this kind of video is a guy. Well, yeah.

Akubra tip to SondraK.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I don't say this about many people. I don't believe I've ever said it of President Obama, nor of Ted Kennedy, nor of any number of politicians I'd love to see out of office.

But Martha Coakley is evil. Just plumb evil. She kept a man in prison for a crime that not only was he innocent of, but that had never even occurred. She let a genuine child rapist go, one whose crimes I can't even bring myself to type, because he had political connections that might affect her. This woman is not only unfit for office, I'm inclined to think she's unfit to share a planet with mildew.

I don't know Scott Brown from Adam. But I can damn sure tell the difference between him and this despicable waste of skin.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Musical weirdness

The original song was pretty good, at least the first thousand times. Even if only for the now-classic opening riff. But everything becomes exponentially cooler when you play it on a sitar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Blonde, a Bookstore and Bogie

There is a lovely young woman I work with who occasionally wears glasses around the office. Now, superficially she doesn't resemble Dorothy Malone, but for some reason, every time I see her in glasses I get a mental picture of this scene from The Big Sleep:

I tried to explain that to my beautiful co-worker, but it's hard to describe if you don't know the film. Update: After re-watching it, I'm amazed at how much they got past the censors. I'd forgotten how... charged it is.

(For the record, she is actually very ladylike and completely unlikely to lure a shamus into a bookstore with whiskey for some stockroom boom-boom.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

I guess I know what I was doing wrong

I'm modifying this post, because my personal experience doesn't need to be a part of the equation. (Although it does fuel my resentment a great deal.) But contrast the treatment given to Lisa Miller, whose child has been handed over to her ex-girlfriend (who has tenuous legal and no biological connection to the child), with that accorded Shannon Phillips, who stole Donald Tenn's daughter with the active and passive aid of the same authorities now pursuing Lisa.

Lisa is far from innocent here. She should have complied with the court's order to allow her ex to visit with the child. I share her moral position on the woman's lifestyle, but I don't think it would have been overtly harmful to the little girl. Isabella is going to encounter family (and pseudo-family) members that her mother doesn't approve of all her life anyway. Back when I was a single dad, I often thought my ex-wife's living arrangements weren't a good influence, but that wasn't enough reason to keep Wharf Rat from seeing her. Lord knows Long Drink's mother hasn't always approved of me, but she still sent him faithfully for his time here.

But even if she hadn't, do you honestly think the state would have taken her custody away and handed it to his father? (Hollow laughter) No, but this is a special case. It's meant to prove that Lisa's failure to approve of homosexuality is so harmful for the girl that drastic measures must be taken.

Seems to me, if the gay ex wants actual equality, she should get used to being treated like a father. Which often means writing a check and staying out of the way.