Friday, December 30, 2005

Too funny, eh?

For all of my dear Canadian friends--I post this in your honor. :- )

Can they do that?

This sounds awfully fishy to me. Has anybody else heard of this? It seems to my (legally uneducated) social conscience that there ought to be something Constitutionally wrong here, but I can't put my finger on it...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What would you do?

Take a look at what landed in my husband's inbox today.

Is chivalry indeed dead? How can this poor woman not get anyone to help her? is so hard.

From Nadia Arafat
202, Kamel El Shennawi street, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt.

Attention dear,

In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Aselamu Aleikum.

Forgive my indignation to contact you through this medium without prior notice. I am Mrs Nadia Arafat, the wife of late Fathi Arafat brother to Yasser Arafat) who just died on  Wednesday 1st December, 2004. In military hosptal cairo egypt.

It did not take more than 48hours after his demise when I was contacted by his security firm in Asia as his next of kin. Before his death, he entrusted many documents to me and told me to let things be since he knew that he would die considering his cancer ailment. One of those documents bore certificate of deposit from the said security firm that contacted me in London.

Hence I`m requested to correspond with them in the shortest possible time to avoid the demurrages that will accrue following the death of my husband as nobody except me can attend to such transaction. Thus I`m contacting you so that you can help me to retrieve this clasified deposit from the security firm and for safe keeping pending when it will be convienient for me to travel out of Egypt. All eyes are on me now and as such I will not like to attract any attention now either by monetary transactions or by international travel.

As a result, I request you to reply to me as soon as possible so that we shall know the way forward and how to streamline issues and procedures towards the successful retrieval of this clasified deposit which bear the sum of US$ 25.5 Million,  I`m quite convinced that  this classified deposit is enough for any investment of ones choice in a life`s time.

Endeavour to keep this mail very secret even if you are not keen to cooperate with me as I beseeched you.

Please send your reply to my private e-mail address


Mrs Nadia


Amidst all of the admittedly important but usually depressing and rather over-reported news, here is something that is worth blogging about.

I must admit that I appreciate the ire directed at Barbie dolls. There'll be none of that kind in my house, let me tell you. I had them growing up, and while I did have all the pampering accoutrements, usually they were getting driven around in army trucks or thrown at each other as missiles across the playroom. Or they rode My Little Ponies off the edges of steep cliffs. :-) That one was especially fun.

So while I know that Mattel isn't producing American Girl dolls out of any altruistic longing for a less neurotic girlhood, I'm still glad to see this kind of toy available. The only thing that I find mildly disturbing is the presupposition that "innocence, playfulness, and imagination," as the author puts it, are assumed to be limited to children. OK--so sometimes life stinks, and often it's really hard, but that doesn't mean that it's a jaded from here on out. The ability to simply enjoy life and all that is has to offer doesn't have to end with age, and it ought not vanish with the coming of experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hello Again

It's been sooooo long since I've posted, that I suppose I ought to begin by posting my sincerest apologies.

OK, with that out of the way, here's a funny piece of news for the day. I was picking the the NY Times yesterday, and I came across this.

Read it all the way through to the end, and tell me if you don't think his plan is backfiring. :-) Personally, I think they should follow Mr. Mousawi's plan.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Word of the Day

Sorry, Becca, I couldn't find "insanity" in The Devil's Dictionary, but I'm sure that Bierce would have approved of your definition. I hope that you will accept as a satisfactory substitution...

Lawyer, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Now, to get the fuller picture, we must turn to his definition of...

Law, n.
    Once Law was sitting on the bench,
    And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
    "Clear out!" he cried, "disordered wench!"
     Nor come before me creeping.
    Upon your knees if you appear,
    'Tis plain you have no standing here.

    Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
    "Your status?--devil seize you!"
    "Amica curiae," she replied--
    "Friend of the court, so please you."
    "Begone!" he shouted--"there's the door--
    I never saw your face before!"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Word of the Day

As contributed by Chris:

Manna, n. A food miraculously given to the Israelites in the wilderness. When it was no longer supplied to them they settled down and tilled the soil, fertilizing it, as a rule, with the bodies of the original occupants.

(Ambrose Bierce,The Devil's Dictionary)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Word of the Day

In an effort to be of general use to the populace and provide a pedagogical influence to deter the Disneyfication of our day-to-day routines, I've decided to begin posting a Word of the Day.

And also, I just got a copy of The Devil's Dictionary, and I think it's hilariously funny. :- )

So, without further ado, the Word of the Day is...Absurdity, n. A statement of belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.

Bonus thought

I was listening to President Bush's speech at the Naval Academy yesterday on the radio while I was on my way to work, and it occurred to me...

Why is it that he is able to call us to fight a war on "terror"? What is it about Americans that makes us think that we can cut out of our lives what is a daily part of so many other countries? Why do we think we can achieve a world without terror?

Could it have anything to do with a fixation on Innocence?

Percolating away...


Well, then. I've finished the book, and had an evening to turn it over in my head. Here are some of the noteworthy passages from M. Giroux for your review. I think I've captured most of the essence of his book, although I did leave out some of the more socialistic passages, since that's not really what I want to focus on.

Innocence is one of the key issues that Giroux explores. He describes it...

"As suburban America witnesses urban violence invading its schools, homes, and neighborhoods, Disney becomes a symbol for the security and romance of the small-town America of yesteryear--a pristine never-never land in which children's fantasies come true, happiness reigns, and innocence is kept safe through the magic of pixie dust."

...And then details how Disney is using it and some problematic implications.

"Media culture has become one of the most important vehicles throgh which coporate executives like Michael Eisner invoke innocence in order to express their committment to middle-class family values, the welfare of children, and their expansions into noncommercial spheres such as public schooling. Such rhetoric represents more than the staged authenticity of the corporate swindle; it also works strategically to 'celebrate innocence over politics and other forms of critical knowledge.'"

Innocence doesn't just affect the young either...

"Disney has given new meaning to the politics of innocence as a narrative for shaping public memory and for producing a 'general body of indentifications' that promote a sanitized version of American history. Innocence also serves as a rhetorical device that cleanses the Disney image of the messiness of commerce, ideology, and power."

So why would Innocence be so important for Disney to connect with its image?

"In Disney's moral order, innocence is 'presented as the deepest truth,' which when unproblematized can be used with great force and influence to legitimate the spectacle of entertainment as escapist fantasy."

Escaping is another big theme. OK, so what if Disney is providing a way for the average American to escape? Why is that bad? It seems that the problem is not so much that it's a way to escape, but that Disney is so pervasive that escape becomes a way of life, and in that sense, ever so much more real than...well, reality.

"Far from representing a benign cultural force, Disney's theme parks offer prepackaged, sanitizecd versions of America's past, place a stong emphasis on the virtes of the individual as an essentially consuming subject, transform the work of production into the production of play, and ignore the exclusionary dynamics of class and race that permeate Disney culture."

"There are no strikes in Disneyland. no history of labor unrest. No history of attacks on immigrants. No history of slavery or segregation. No Red scare, no McCarthyism, no atom bomb. Nor will one find in Disney's rewriting of public memory any mention of corporations' abuse of labor, corporations' responsibility for acid rain, or responsibility for the effects of corporate downsizing. Not in Disney's history. Walt Disney once announced that 'Disneyland is a place where you can't get lost.' Disney's rewriting of public memory echoes that sentiment and offers its patrons a history 'without classes, conflict, or crime, a world of continuous consumption, a supermarket of fun.'"

So what? Why does it matter if we are a nation of consumers?

"Disney educates and entertains in order to create corporate identities and to define citizens primarily as consumers and spectators."

Giroux argues that a nation of consumers cannot be a nation of citizens because consumption is by definition self-centered, while citizenship carries (or ought to carry) the weight of civic duty and moral responsibility. Ultimately, the more the body politic is degraded into a nation of shoppers, the more democracy is dissovled into a group of uneducated non-participants.

"Rather than being viewed as a commercial venture innocently distributing pleasure to young people, the Disney empire must be seen as a pedagogical and policy-making enterprise actively engaged in the cultural landscaping of national identity and the 'schooling' of the minds of young children. This is not to suggest that there is something sinister behind what Disney does. It points only to the need to address the role of fantasy, desire, and innocence in securing particular ideological interest, legitimating specific social relations, and making a claim on the meaning of public memory."

"When politics is cloaked in the image of innocence, there is more at stake than simple deception. There is the issue of cultural power and how it influences public udnerstandings of the past, national coherence, and popular memory in ways that often conceal injustice, criticism, and the possibility of democratic renewal. Innocence, in Disney's world, becomes the ideological vehicle through which history is purged of its seamy side."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Who'd a thunk it?

OK, so I'm working on a more comprehensive of noteworthy quotations from The Mouse That Roared, but this one was too good to pass up.

Anybody know of any other place that sounds like this?

"It seems that Disney wanted a particular type of student to attend, as indicated in the detailed dress codes it provided for both men and women. The men were to wear a suite with a color-coordinated shirt; the suit fabric was to be one 'traditionally accepted for business.' No necklaces, bracelets, or earrings were allowed, nor were male [college] students permitted to have a mustache, beard, or hair 'beyond or covering any part of the ears.' No one was to show up with an 'extreme look, including shaving the head or eyebrows'...Women were to wear a suit, a dress, or a pants outfit...No more than two necklaces could be worn, and these were not to exceed thrity inches in length. And in case these young women missed the point, they were not to wear more than one ring per hand."

But wait, folks, that's not all.

"Pedagogically, employees are given written quizzes on Disney rules. One pedagogical strategy includes exposing workers to an endless chant of inane Disney mottos such as "We work while others play!" "We never say no because we know the answers." And "We smile that extra jmile."

And best of all...

"'Supervisors in Tomorrowland are...famous for...hiding in the bushes above the submarine caves, timing the arrivals and departures of the supposedly fully loaded boats making the 8 1/2 minute cruise under the polar icecaps...In short, supervisors...are regarded by ride operatos as sneaks and tricksters out toget them and representative of the dark side of park life.'"

All right, so it's not entirely parallel, but the similarities are striking.

The Mouse That Roared

That's the title of one of the books I'm purusing. It's about Disney and kids and culture, and so far, I'm hooked. His basic premise runs like this: "It would be reductionist not to recognize that there is also some excellent programming that is provided to audiences, but by and large much of what is produced on television and in the big Hollywood studios panders to the lowest common denominator, defines freedom as consumer choice, and debases public discourse by reducing it to spectacle."

Now, anything that takes popular media to task for debasing public discourse makes my ears perk up, and so far, Giroux (the author) seems to be very balanced in his approach. He's recognized that Disney is not "engaged in a conspiracy to undermine American youth or deomcracy around the world," and that everbody will interpret the messages from Disney differently--"there are no passive dupes in this script." So his book is shaping up to be a good one. We'll see...

Anybody else ever run into this guy?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cruel and Unusual?

All right, my legal friends. Is this kind of sentencing allowed?

I mean, I'm all for not being unnecessarily cruel to animals, and I really despise people that are nasty to their pets. But there's something about this that makes me uneasy. Maybe it's the idea that dumping her in the woods the way she dumped the cats in the woods makes her life of no more value than theirs.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Action and Inaction

OK, here's the starter post. Since this wasn't originally my question, I'll just play host and yield to David if he wants to reframe what I put here.

I think the question (although specific in the original to birth control) was beginning to broaden out to encompass all actions, so I'll try to phrase this a couple of different ways as I understand it.

How shall we define action in relation to sin? Are sins only actions, or may motives also be sins? This references a deeper question: what is sin exatly? Given any particular action/motive, how do we figure out if it's sin or not? Are there grey things? How do we figure those out?

All right. Game's in play.

Will this never end?

Article on Padilla

So now what? I mean, really, how do we sort this kind of stuff out? I don't believe for a moment that the announcement of this indictment was to side step the Supreme Court, and despite Mr. Gonzales' protestations to the contrary, I'm just cynical enough (yes, David, you've worn off on me) to be absolutely sure that he's lying through his teeth.

But what's the deal with this guy? Did the Bush admin wait until the last second, realize that they didn't have a prayer of winning in the SC and decide to go for broke on actually charging him?

And if you broaden it out to all the people that we've picked up and are just holding, letting them rot, what do we do with them? They're basically enemy soldiers, even though they don't follow one particular enemy in the traditional sense, but they're not necessarily going to be tried as war criminals, but we can't very well just let them out. In an indefinite war, do we just hold them indefinitely? Besides the fact that it really stinks for them to be locked up forever, if we're paying to feed and house them, it's going to get pretty darn expensive pretty soon here.

So many makes my head hurt just thinking about them all...

Turkey Funnies

In light of the upcoming holiday, I thought I would post some interestingly random bits and pieces relating to Thanksgiving.

I think I had heard this one before, but it turns out that the President pardons a turkey every year only moments before it is sent off to meet the chef. Here's the link for info on this year's turkey and his alternate, you know, in case he gets car sick or something.

This seemed like a great spot to inset some choice commentary on what one person called the Chief Turkey, but since this is meant to be a happy post, I'll refrain.

Of course, no recounting of hilarity would be complete without a contribution from the esteemed Mr. Barry. Be warned--reading the following article may cause you to break out into uncontrollabel spasms of laughter, and if you're reading this during a class, you may call undue attention to yourself if you fall on the floor and stop breathing.

Just in case you don't yet have a recipe to use for your turkey, I submit this for your review.

And last but not at all least, if your family's Thanksgiving dinner is just a little bit dull, try this suggestion from

"At the Thanksgiving dinner table when everyone goes around to say what they are thankful for, say, 'I'm thankful I didn't get caught' and refuse to say anything more."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


This tickled my head.

I googled the title of my blog today during a slow spot at work, and while I was picking through some suggested sites, I came across one that detailed the purpose and result of a college class on media and culture. Nothing overly exciting in itself, but it sent me to read this article.

I wasn't sure what I thought of it at first, but as I read it a second and third time, I've come to rather like it. She's witty and fun to read, and she does a great job debunking the two extremes that would denigrate the movie Mulan. She makes the excellent point that girls don't require Hollywood to be inspired. True, true, true. You don't have to see something animated and sold in an action figure to dream about being able to live without being put in a box. And she makes the equally valid point that the existence of a movie that isn't wholly liberating doesn't mandate a wholesale acceptance. It is possible to be a discerning consumer, pick and choose the good from the bad.

ETA: Pursue her biography at your own risk. I definitely don't recommend everything this woman thinks and does.

Yummy :- )

In the interest of the common gastronomical good, I would like make my contribution to the culinary field. It is a high and noble calling, this urge to circulate the means to procurence of delicacies.

Besides, if I ever run out of ideas for dinner, at least I know where to find something that I know tastes good. :- )

So, without further ado, I present to you...

Speedy Lunchtime Wraps

1 Tortilla
Assorted lunchmeats
Sliced cheese
Ranch dressing (only Hidden Valley, of course

If you're not acutally into handmaking your tortillas, throw it in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make it pliable. Be sure to wrap it in a damp towel so that it doesn't dry out and get hard.

Spread the Ranch dressing (or your dressing of choice) on the tortilla. Layer on the lunch meats. Roast beef, turkey, and ham make a great combination. Top with tomatoes, sliced in thinish strips, and lettuce. Finish with cheese slices.

Rolle the tortilla up and wrap it in tin foil.

This recipe can be easily varied to produce wraps of differing ethnicities. I'll be experimenting with a mexican one soon, so watch for updates...

And for dinner...

Garden-Fresh Shepherd's Pie (kinda)

1 lb. ground beef
Worchestershire sauce
3 tblsp. ketchup
1 c. brown gravy
Green beans (cooked)
Corn (cooked)
Mushrooms (preferably fresh)
Tomatoes (again, gotta be fresh)

Brown beef in skillet with garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and a dash or two of Worchestershire sauce. Stir in ketchup to moisten. Transfer to an 8 x 8 dish so that you don't have room for the potatoes to go on the top because that would be way too much like real shepherd's pie. Pour gravy over beef. Top with green beans, corn, mushrooms, tomatoes, and cheese. Lots of cheese. :- )

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 mintues or until heated through and slightly toasty.

Cheesy potatoes
4-5 medium potatoes
1/2 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 chunk of cream cheese
2-3 heaping tblsp. sour cream
Generous handful of cheddar cheese

Peel, cube, and cook potatoes. They can be cooked to any consistency you prefer, from kinda chunky to really soft. Meanwhile, mix together remaining ingredients. Drain potatoes. Stir in sauce. Transfer to oven-safe dish and bake in a 400 degree oven about 15 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Me and my new and beloved hubby Posted by Picasa

Reality in prayer

Reading in Lamentations tonight. I was just going back through some of the passages that God has used in my life, and chapter 3 never fails to astound me. Jeremiah is so real in his prayers. No playing around or trying to sound pious or strong or anything else. Just real. He's hurting and he's not at all afraid to tell God all about it.

That pulls up intersting contrasts in my head. I guess I had always seen Jehovah of the Old Testament as somehow less like a Father than I see Him in the New Testament. As if He had more of the distance and terribleness of a mighty king--just, but ready to destroy. Good, but with a tinge of awfulness. But Jeremiah doesn't talk about Him like that. I mean, if you really thought of God--who was, by the way, talking to you out loud on a frequent basis--as the kind of God that would zap you for doubting,  you wouldn't be praying things like "My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord." Jeremiah is talking to God the way you or I might sit down and pour out all of our fears and dismays to an intimate friend, someone to whom you could say anything at all.

It's an amazing juxtapositioning. King and Father, God and Friend. Far, far beyond my comprehesion, but deserving of praise all the more for its wonder.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In the beginning...

Well, here it is. The very first post. Will it work? Hmmmm... Or perhaps the better question--will I keep it up? Bigger hmmmmm....

We shall see!

So...I'm still thinking about the title. Not real sure if I want something quite so militant. Somewhere, I ought to be able to find something that emphasizes the consoling part a little bit more.

Got it! Barbara Bush beats out Pete Hamill any day. :- )

Oh, just for kicks, here's the Pete Hamill quote that I was originally thinking of using.

He steps on stage and draws the sword of rhetoric, and when he is through, someone is lying wounded and thousands of others are either angry or consoled.

Pete Hamill

Got it off of