Saturday, December 31, 2005

oh happy, oh joy!

i appear to have my pluck back, but how could i not?

my friends' cat Zane is hanging tight in spite of an epic transfusion reaction and is headed home to hopefully finish getting better, my friends gave me the 6th season of South Park as a Christmas present, and i scored cross-country skis and boots at the REI garage sale for supercheap. tonight i am headed to what is guaranteed to be a fabulous party-complete with pianist, female impersonater and instructions to 'wear bling'. (i will try to remember to take pictures.)

not recovering my insouciance and verve would be positively aberrant, ungrateful, and might indicate actual death.

be well, be safe, be happy! i will see you in the New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

WARNING: this is beyond sickening

and Bush and Cheney think it is okay, actually fought to keep it legal for US forces to be able to 'do it themselves':

From Jesus General:

The story.

What Our Leader hath wrought (caution: graphic photos of the result of our outsourced interrogation work).

Karimov, Our Leader, His manservant Colin, and that old, curmudgeonly exterminator at DOD hanging out at the Memory Hole.

The Documents (mirrored)

Telegrams

Legal Advice to the British Foreign Office.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

hodge podge


my Christmas Coat
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
i had hoped this to be a light bit of fluff before getting down to the business of catching up on politics but no luck. i do enclose this picture though because it pleased my mother to take it and pleases me to see it. this is my Christmas coat: i wear it every year at Christmastime. it reminds me of snow, Danny Kaye and family.

i also can report that i am now the proud aunt of another little girl. she was born right before Christmas (12/18) and is a lovely little bundle. Mom and Rol will be heading up to Minneapolis on New Year's Eve to cuddle and coo and hopefully email me many many photos of Caroline Ingrid. this will also mark another Mom milestone as it will be her first flight since the accident!

the rest of my news is less merry. while in the thick of personal health issues, my dear friends' cat Zane has been struck ill. it is terrible timing but they are getting along as best they can. well wishes zoom through the ether and will hopefully provide some comfort. (in addition, they are hopefully easing the strain by taking their pain pills and recommended glasses of wine respectively!)

today i received word that my cousin's wife has been diagnosed with a frontal lobe tumor. it is quite a shock, as she had only gone to the hospital for dizziness. i would ask you to keep them and their two little ones in your prayers as the situation unfolds. i will try and keep you updated as i learn more.

otherwise, i entreat you all to be well, be safe and be with loved ones as we begin what is shaking up to be another challenging year. with tenderness,

jackie chris

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas cheer

Merry Christmas to you all!

today was truly a red letter day, actually as was yesterday. three days of baking aside, we still had cookies to bake yesterday so we started early, nagging the Grandma and negotiating her down from an arrival time of 4pm to 12:45pm. while waiting for her, we knocked out the sugar cookies (4 c of flour worth). Grandma arrived and it was time for the pecan puffs. there is no explaining it-the puffs are always better when she makes them. we managed to finish the puffs by 3:30pm and had time for a small rest before dressing for church.

after lengthy discussion we had decided to attend the 5 o'clock service at Westminster Presbyterian over the late Eve service or the Christmas Day service. Westminster is a delightful church with a spectacular music program and a progressive minister. [sad that it has to come to this but they have gone so far as to state explicitly in the program that all are welcome, regardless of denomination, race, nationality or sexual orientation.] the service was charming and given the year we have had, we all found ourselves reduced to tears at one point or another.

from church it was off to renew another tradition-Christmas eve dinner at the Chinese place. (more accurately, it is the Chinese Garden I but we have never referred to it as such.) several years have passed since we ate there and many more since we spent Christmas Eve there. they immediately recognized us, scolded us for our long absence and pampered us shamelessly. we dropped Grandma off at her place and returned home to wallow in one middling quality Christmas movie after another.

this morning we woke leisurely. Grandma arrived about 9:30am and we made mimosas, scrambled eggs and biscuits for breakfast. afterward, we started the turkey and opened presents. Santa still brings us stockings (with a lot of help from various family members)! after opening gifts for each other, it was time for our 4th annual Great Cookie Drop.

the Great Cookie Drop is probably my favorite part of the day-a perfect melange of family, thanksgiving, surprise and love. after a weeklong baking frenzy, we take the cookies to those who serve and safeguard our society instead of being with their own families on the holiday. this year, we baked 5 lb of butter worth of cookies: Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies and pecan puffs. the cookies are bundled into wrapped boxes, weight varying according to anticipated head count. this year we expanded for a total of two fire stations, the enormous central police station, and both arms of TSA screening at the airport.

the first couple years, we were greeted with confusion and surprise, though never suspicion. although we always have to break into the police station, TSA used to be my greatest concern. who knows what they might think we intend? we half expected to get arrested the first year we went to the airport. these days, there is no concern. there is little confusion at our visits and much, much joy. sure, we still have to break into the police station-no one is ever at the front and the back is closed off by automated fences-but they are always glad to see us. once we made our cookie drops, we headed home to finish the turkey and dine quite well.

after supper, it was time for our annual viewing of A Child's Christmas in Wales. the evocative words, the beautiful imagery-just stunning. (don't worry, we did not forget our other favorite. we watched the original 1952 version of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors with Bill and Kelly before they left for Ireland. we hate being away from them, but Joanie McCarthy deserves special Christmas visitors as well.) after the movie, we enjoyed a festive carpool to take Grandma home. once home again, we watched the end of a few Christmas movies and the last of the Vikings/Ravens game. finally, there were hugs and general agreement that THIS was the best Christmas to date before everyone trundled off to bed.

peace to all and to all a good night!

second service

we have been quite busy enjoying the holiday so it has taken a few days to post this but we thought you would all like to know about the following.

in the early (and late!) days after the accident, Mom received an incredible number of teddy bears and other stuffed animals, cards and we all received more support than one would think possible. as she has continued to heal, we had debated what to do with all the bears. they are all very dear to us, Mom especially, and have provided incredible comfort but the time has come to move on. after great discussion, Mom decided that we should take the majority of the bears to a local shelter. to that end, we searched online and eventually discovered Safe Haven.

Safe Haven is an amazing place. it is one of only two shelters in Tennessee that keeps the family together. they work to get people back on track and back in a home of their own. when we arrived, there were no adults in view but we were greeted by three sunny children who guided us to the right place. it turned out that one of the kids belonged to Bruce Newport, the executive director, and frequently came to play with the kids leaving at the shelter. Bruce gave Mom and i a nice tour, completely unphased by our alternate crying and joy. the toys will be given to children living in the shelter and to children of local indigent families. children for whom Santa would otherwise not come.

here we attach a picture of the many bears and their friends under Safe Haven's tree for your enjoyment.

it was a very gratifying experience and a true opportunity to share some of our blessings with those less fortunate. we hope you share our joy in passing on your gifts of love and hope to those truly in need.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

timing is everything

as you may recall from previous posts, there has been some question over the lengthy delay of the NYT in breaking the wiretap story. it now appears that said questioning is escalating to a teatime tempest as critics from all sides review the timeline. just as it did during the first phase of Fitzmas, NPR has an informative take worth reading.

::

as i am now on Tennessee soil, i fear i had best sign off without further ado. my IQ and rationality are palpably draining from me as i type... in the interim, at dinner tonight i was reminded of the story of Mary's thumb, linked here for your enjoyment.

[sadly, given all the kerfuffle and alleged W on C, i feel i need state that the following applies regardless of your religion, race or sexual orientation...]

in case i haven't another chance before Christmas, love and peace to you and yours from me and mine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FSM is not science

sadly, FSM-ers will no longer be able to proselytize, ahem I mean 'educate,' in Pennsylvania as Judge Jones has chosen not to skirt the ID issue in Dover and has issued his ruling. i was going to excerpt only the top bit but the whole passage is such a delightful read that i just cannot help myself (italics and bolding mine):

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants’ actions.


it is hard to say whose eagerly anticipated legal deicion was more elegantly worded: Judge Jones' or SP Fitzpatrick's.

the Shrub lying... again...

Note the date of the speech given by Bush from which this quote is taken:

"Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."


now compare with the known start date of illegal wiretaps...

snaps to Atrios for catching this one.

btw, excellent logical deduction going on over at PMI on the wiretap issue. proving this hypothesis would be tedious but not difficult. all that would be required is that an FOIA request be filed by any individual for whom the outline criteria fits (e.g., international call on new line). individuals would then report back to a central database the results of their queries...

-------------
in a gutsy move under Howard Dean's leadership, the DNP is submitting en masse FOIA requests to get to the bottom of the illegal spying scandal. please sign on!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

peculiar goings

it has been an interesting week. yes, Monday was the Prelims. it was expected to be crazy, but since then the week has remained strange.

it was my last week on clinics for the next 6 months or so. it was also my last week of missed clinics to make-up from the spring. that means, it was pretty much the last thing i had to do to 'catch up' on my responsibilities. almost like the slate is now washed clean (so that i can get it all messy again).

there have also been interesting goings-on in the world of national politics:
after continued struggles to rein in the inappropriately overreaching powers provided to the government by the Patriot Act, the issue was to come to the floor late this past week. while widely anticipated to be quite a battle, no one really expected what did happen. the night before the vote the NYT broke a story they have been sitting on over a year about illegal wiretaps authorized by President Bush. this information was utlized by Russ Feingold to mobilize the Senate to filibuster renewal of the act.

Arlen Specter, a key Senate Republican supporter of the Act, was apoplectic over Bush's actions, promising immediate hearings into this impropriety. unless renewed, the Patriot Act is set to expire at the end of this year. at this time, the act cannot be judged truly dead, but chances for revival are slimmer. you can do your part to help take down Big Brother with little effort and learn about governmental process while finding out what they are finding out about you. REMEMBER: spying is fun, kids!!

the NYT has published an elegant dissection of the underlying issue of Bush's many attempts to seize additional executive power. the WH continues to scramble unsuccessfully to provide justification of Bush's actions while Bush himself continues to dig the hole deeper by asserting he has committed no impropriety and will continue in his behavior regardless of Senate action and in spite of previous concerns by the Administration itself about the legality of the program because 'the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks'.

does the WH not realize that each successive attempt to play the terror card in times of poor opinion has fallen on less and less credulous ears?

in other news, the Administration's bloodthirst has finally bowed to strong public sentiment as well as House and Senate revolt against torture. after trying everything from intimidation to vague assertions that McCain 'ain't right in the head' as a result of his own POW experiences, the president met with McCain and conceded the battle.

one interesting fact to emerge from the battle over torture: apparently the 4th District of Colorado contains an unusually large number of black ops torture-specialist operatives. i can see no other reason why Marilyn Musgrave* would buck public opinion and the Geneva Convention to VOTE FOR TORTURE.

well, that is all i have time for for now. be well and stay plugged in.


*Please feel free to share your beliefs on this move by contacting Musgrave at her Washington, DC office:

'Representative' Musgrave
1507 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4676
(202) 225-5870 fax

overdue visual updates

now that i am mostly caught up on the life i neglected to prepare for Prelims, here is a little update on my visual world...

on ice

an island paradise? well, i guess Coronado is kind of an island...


the Hotel del Coronado
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the Hotel Del is truly spectacular with quiet grace and majesty. somehow, checking in feels like retreating to the cozy and civilized world best found in Agatha Christie novels and Dickens-style Christmases. the room was plush yet not expansive, with louvred blinds overlooking a courtyard. after a long day's travel or brainstorming, no outside treat could compare with a leisurely shower and then quiet reflection on the balcony, burrowed deep in a Hotel Del robe.



Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
there was an ice-skating rink set up on the lawn, where tennis courts used to be many many years ago. it overlooked the ocean on one side and was cossetted in all other directions by the understated luxury of the Del. the rink was not large but circling round and again, i found daily concerns slipping from my mind to skip away across the beaches, leaving me free to soak in all the Del had to offer.


me on ice
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
this photo makes me very happy. it really captures, for me, the playful spirit of my free time in San Diego. after a few days here, i was much better prepared to return and face the gauntlet of Prelims.

and on snow


hi Mom!
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
since i got back from Thanksgiving, other than studying the main thing i have carved out time for is shoesnowing...



happy ducklings
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
at Zimmerman Lake with Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers for field training,



Dennis
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
at Green Ridge Trail with Dennis,



Aaron
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
and at Sawmill Creek Trail with Aaron.


now that Prelims are past and i have completed my last week on clinics, i hope to be doing a lot more of this. if i am lucky, i may also learn nordic skiing, do a little downhill and possibly even some winter camping. it turns out i may have an early 90s Explorer at my disposal, so i hope to get up in the mountains quite a bit more.

of course, i will still be slaving, just slaving, away on my PhD research.

and Nancy Wilson has me wondering whether a cocktail party is in order... so,

what are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

she LIVES!

yes, you read me right. i PASSED! after the exam, my committee and i went to the Rio for margs. it is a bit of a tradition. by going there, i got to imagine Nicole and Jim celebrating with me as well.

home i went and crashed. humorously, i woke just after midnight in an enormous panic attack that i forgot to turn in a form for my prelim. heart rate in the 200s. took a bit to get back to sleep. i DO still have to turn a form in tomorrow in order to be done with it, but i had to wait until the Department Head signed it which couldn't happen until 5 today.

now, though heinously tired, i can breathe again. and smile again. and catch up on sleep.

thanks everyone for your well wishes and support. it really meant a lot to me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christ at Christmas

this is quite excellent [bolding mine]:

O’BRIEN: I’ve got to ask you a quick question, Bill. What if Jesus got this card? What would he do? Would he be angry about it? He’s be OK with it, wouldn’t he?

DONOHUE: Well, maybe he would, but I’ve never met him.

M. O’BRIEN: Well, you know what I mean. You follow his precepts. WWJD? He wouldn’t be angry about this. He’d say, it’s OK.

DONOHUE: I’m not going to be in the position of criticizing Jesus, but I will criticize the president, because I think that he should have followed the lead of his father. You’re getting me in a very tough situation, Miles.

M. O’BRIEN: Well, I mean, I think that’s a legitimate question. You’re talking. If it’s a Christian holiday and you as a Christian are demanding it, you have to ask what would the person who invented Christianity think about this?

...Donohue didn't answer the question.

--------------

remember, Christ was the ultimate hippie, always preaching love over hate. go celebrate the season--overlook dogma and prejudices and love a bunch of someones (though preferably not all carnally)...

Friday, December 09, 2005

set 'em up and knock 'em down

an update:

-Thursday's talk went *fine.* sure, my data doesn't make sense and the stats may still be wrong. such is the way of science. for the talk, i presented the backround, the data, the bizarrely conflicting results and my limited conclusions. off the cuff, i quoted Wernher von Braun: 'Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.' (thanks ab for the that pearl.) no one asked any questions which means it was either well explained and there wasn't much i had left unexplored about the conflicting data OR the talk was so bewildering that people tuned out. one of my committee members gave me real props because, to paraphrase, having it be 'pretty' isn't important-it is about having command of your subject, knowing your data, and understanding when things don't add up. so hopefully the former explanation is correct.

i had added a couple sound files in a giddy moment. it is possible that that threw people off, but my impression from the laughter was that they enjoyed them...

-turned the exam in early (roughly eleven last night) so i would be certain they received it. the email server has been unbelievably unstable at school, down large periods of every day, and the combination of exam parts made for a large file transfer. no error messages yet but also no confirmation that they got it. woke up at 2 am wanting to redo one of the questions. talked myself down and went back to sleep. feel really good about 2 of the answers, fairly good about 1 and not great about the last. i wanted to keep working but was too fried to trust myself so hopefully it will be good enough.

-put together the Prelim introduction presentation last night- 15 minutes of what i have accomplished thus far. now have the main grant presentation to write. hope to work hard all day today (plus/minus a climbing break), take a breather tomorrow to get outside and normalize my stress/sanity levels, and finish up the presentation and studying Sunday. Monday morning i am on service so up and at the hospital by 7am. work all day then the prelim from 3-5pm.

stockpiling things to share about the world at large once i am out from this crush and better able to tap my creative side. one pearl to keep you going:

Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?

-Murtha on President Bush, 12/7/05, in response to Lieberman's claim that challenging Bush undermines his credibility and thus endangers the nation.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

content welcome

i am currently 'closed' while prepping for my Prelims (see blog entry 'half-truth'). prelims are 12/12 with big deadlines on 12/8 and 12/9. despair rains like kittens throughout the halls so random emails/posts with positive content are very, very welcome.

as an aside, i decided to return to my friends at Angry Alien in hopes of cheer and was greeted with their new holiday feature: the 30 second Christmas Story (as re-enacted by bunnies). it perfectly recounts my experience of the movie...

Friday, December 02, 2005

finally something to smile at

after my last post, while in an IM chat with Steinie, i received a letter from Columbia. some of you know exactly what this means. regardless, my exchange with Jen brought a much needed laugh so i enclose it here:

me: door knock
me: guess what

jen: what
me: certified letter from --
jen: oh lord
jen: this would be the perfect time for you to be
me: could be good
jen: living under a fascist regime
jen: so that your letters would be read
jen: before you got them
me: okay. that is truly LOL funny
jen: well good


as Eddie Murphy said to a family friend once, "Thanks for the laugh, lady."

---

[i have opened the letter but decided not to read it till after the 12th. i haven't the strength for it all.]

half-truth

i have a problem. it is a little problem in the grand scheme of things but is my current one so... [shrug]

Thanksgiving did not go as well as hoped. in the end, the very end, things got worked out but first there was angst and drama and so on. then i was on to San Diego, which incidentally was wicked fun in its own way.

part of the trouble is that i received the written portion of my Prelim about two days ago, and the deadline for completing it was cut from 14 days to basically 8 days. for my part, the written version of the full grant proposal was due to committee yesterday. by chance, after all the above was already scheduled, i was also scheduled (non-negotiable) to present for the college on my ongoing research the day before the written Prelim portion is due and the ongoing stuff doesn't have anything to do with anything else. i just received the stats back for the ongoing stuff on Thanksgiving so i haven't had any ability to work on the presentation before now.

so.

in the next 6 days, i have to interpret all the stats on a 3 year project and put together a Powerpoint presentation on the results. in the next 7 days, i have to answer 4 questions for my Prelim exam, each of which requires realistically 2 weeks effort. after that deadline, i will have 3 days to put together the slides for the oral portion of my Prelim which i will sit on the 12th. right now, i feel the same trepidation and hopelessness one might experience while skating on an event horizon without a helmet.

so the actual 'problem' is much smaller. see, my boss knew a bit about the impending Thanksgiving challenges. for good reason, he was worried about me but he also is currently in Sweden. i suck at disingenuity but feel like talking about this mess with him won't help. so he has been asking questions that i have been talking around. the first several exchanges were easy as he asked content points as well. i simply only replied to the content, but with a distracted air like i just hadn't time to address non-pressing things. this is a technique i have learned from him so it is not surprising that he finally changed tactics. this is what has followed:

[him] I hope you survived Thanksgiving.
[me] barely but survived.


::couple vague skirting emails::

[me] you wouldn't let this go ahead if you thought i was going to humiliate myself, would you?
[him] I am extremely proud of you and have no doubt you will do your regular oustanding job!


:: long pause in emails while i was in travel. also, didn't really have anything else to say. sent the committee-wide email that the grant was in their boxes for review::

[him] Hope you recovering. Beautiful here but cat is sick as hell.
NB: cat is his wife, not an actual cat on holiday.
[me] dammit. stop slipping her Imuran for cryin' out loud.
[him] I'll try! But are you ok? Life is good!


so the problem is that i have to reply. as you can guess from the above, i am not okay. 80% of me wants to quit and run away to Central America or back to France, but i know that is mostly the depression talking. so i am again pushing through sheerly based on willpower and, frankly, i am doubtful i can pull this out. i have almost written back "well enough" but that still seems a lie. another option is to pretend i didn't get the email since he occasionally gets that report from others.



any suggestions?

Friday, November 18, 2005

it is coming

the Republican majority in the House received a sudden death shock today as the Budget Bill failed. interestingly, this bill contained a provision to cut $8 billion dollars earmarked for protection against a flu pandemic. in other news today, China reports its first flu fatalities.

House supporters of the bill said that it provided a satisfactory level of federal support for health and education programs and that new fiscal restraint was called for, given the resources needed for the Gulf Coast hurricanes and the war in Iraq.


undeterred in applying fiscal restraint to the poor but not the wealthy, the Republican House majority managed to push through tax cuts for the rich.

though currently ticking like a time bomb across the world, the pandemic is coming. as the country soon may be reduced to cries of 'Bring out your dead,' it makes sense that the GOP seeks now more than ever to put a little cash in the pockets of the wealthy. how else will they all be able to afford islands of their own to ride out the pandemic? sure, we could take intelligent and fiscally responsible measures to develop prevention and response strategies but perhaps it will be more cost effective for major shareholders to sequester and survive, then colonize some less-fortunate country where they can truly enslave the workers...

in the meantime, Democrats seek to hold fast to the spine instilled by Harry Reid. in another move, a bipartisan coalition has written a protest regarding the Patriot Act extension. Democrats are threatening to filibuster if civil liberties protections are not strengthened. the question is whether they are really coming to play or whether they will melt at the oft-brandished threat of the 'nuclear option.' special 'snaps' to Colorado's own Salazar for his part in authorship of the letter.

finally, no blog published today would be complete without a link to the moving oration of Rep John Murtha, the strongest Dem Hawk and the man believed to 'speak for the Armed Forces', in his insistent demand that America pull out of Iraq. of course, it is his response to WH response attacks that most eloquently nails the yellow elephants to the wall:

"I like guys who got five deferments and (have) never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done," Murtha said.

the straitjacket of silence is unraveling, from all its many, many, many buckles and straps.

btw, i just love this link

the personal

though i have been kinda busy with local politics and other challenges. there have been a couple bright spots. first off, two weeks ago , i went roller skating for the first time since i was 10. the rink was a quarter of the size of the one we went to in the Midwest and felt a helluva lot smaller than that. cruising around and around, watching the kids and young adult demographic, talking smack with my companion. all very very fun. think i would rather ice skating--we have two rinks in town but they are always closed for hockey games. may try to plan that. last time i iceskated was a couple years ago in SF.


new climber
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Sunday i took up a new sport: climbing. struggled with the physics of the thing for about 4 hours on Sunday. Sunday night i read online at Rock Climbing and Monday morning picked up 'the' book: How to Rock Climb by John Long. been reading like a fiend.

Wednesday my plans fell through-my friend is certain she has the avian flu-and i figured the blisters were healed enough that they wouldn't bleed all over the wall. back and arms still sore. a bonus in my mind as it would force me to focus more on applying the better understanding i had gained from Long's book. we climbed for about 3 hours Wednesday and it went great! my hands are still not strong enough to really boulder but the improvement in technique helped a lot. loving where i am sore, i decided to commit and spent two hours yesterday buying shoes and a harness kit. will probably wait to join the gym till i get back from impending travels. was considering going back to the local rock gym today but not sure the hands can take it. plans for a group to go to a cool-looking place in Thorton tomorrow so i don't want to blow them out today. will play by ear.

Tuesday i fly hom to TN to see the fam. it has been months since i have seen everyone, strange after the spring. it will be good to catch up with Mickey (Grandma) and the Christies. of course, 24/7 Mom time is top billing. fly home early Monday morning and then straight from the airport onto another flight to San Diego for a business trip. will be staying at the Hotel Del Coronado so work will be pleasantly cushioned but i definitely have some anxiety about returning to SoCal, even if it isn't LA. i have 5-6 hours to kill on Monday and am considering surfing lessons depending on the weather. may play in the spa. any suggestions?

home Thursday and have to submit my prelim materials to my PhD committee Friday am. not that they are done yet. getting a little dicey on a couple of fronts and my advisor (who promised me some focused feedback) is currently in Sweden. still, i have faith that it will work out.

well, that is all from here on the personal front. back to politics soon enough...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

kickoff content

from Howard Dean's call:

we have done a great job so far and need to build on the success of the past election. the key to succeeding is going to be 'doors.' in order to take back America, we are going to need to engage in a national grassroots campaign, get to know our neighbors and talk issues through the year. this is the key to building a voter base. because really, there are no red states. all states are purple. and because all states are purple, we have the opportunity to swing them.

[some talk about Democracy bonds and a slightly scrambled reference to 'the mother of all lists']

it is going to be hard but we have to work hard if we really want to take back the country.

we will do better in 2006. we need a Democratic House and Senate. sure, we can't make the president sign our legislation but we can keep him from making America worse.

our focus points:
we need to talk about our values and principles because 'most people think we don't have any.'
1. 'bring honesty back to government'
2. we need a strong national defense system that tells the American people the truth
3. we need to focus on jobs
4. uniform, universal health insurance with a balanced budget
5. strengthen public education

when asked how to repeat the success seen in Colorado in other conservative states and maintain it in Colorado (by a CO caller), Dean said:
1. pay for organizers in all states
2. really we haven't anything to tell Colorado--you are the ones that did it. but we agree we need to get rid of Marilyn Musgrave
3. need to defend things we believe in.

we need to more succinctly define our "alternative, positive, proactive agenda," to reduce our 5 focus points to 10 word, one sentence messages. we need to build the Democratic Party, 'neighbor by neighbor, precinct by precinct.'


after Dean's call, we basically agreed America has become an embarrassing disaster and that we need to fix that. we agreed that we need to engage younger voters better and better utilize volunteers throughout the year.

the problem is, nothing was done or said that takes a concrete stab at changing anything. the only discrete actions suggested were to buy Democracy Bonds, e.g., give the DNP more money, and to print business cards that you can hand out to random people you interface with in daily life.

personally, i don't think giving the DNP more money is intelligent. so far they have done a crappy job organizing and leveraging interested volunteers, which should be the work force. before they pay more people, they need to learn to best use the people they already have willing to work for free. 'but isn't most of the money for use on ad campaigns?' i hear you query. like we really need more television ads, more junk mail, more sixth degree of separation recruitment. throwing money at the problem, instead of addressing the problem, is not a solution.

the reality is that the DNP could marshall a formidable army of volunteers of all age demographics if they could grow and maintain a spine. as for ads, there should be less ads. it is not a relative largesse of ad dollars that led to the Republican win, it was the fact that almost no one in America feels engaged and cared for by the DNP.

i can't imagine why this is so.

i mean, it is not like the DNP sold out American laborers and farmers by shoving through 'free trade' legislation that has caused more problems than good in more nations than ours. oh wait. but hey, they have stood by women's rights. oh wait. human and civil rights? umm. social programs backed by fiscal responsibility--e.g., big government but without the pork? Feingold? just Feingold?

anyone sense a trend? the DNP has sold out almost their entire party base to try and capture the centrist, 'soft' Republicans. accordingly, the only people foolish enough to believe they can be trusted are elderly loyalists 'afeard' of third party politics. everyone else just sees them as the [marginally] lesser evil.

if the DNP stopped defending the piddly square foot of plank remaining to it, reclaimed all the planks it has tossed in the compost and started aggressively challenging the opposing viewpoint, Democrats would win in a landslide. check the polls. the spread between Dems and Independents is rarely more than two points, while the Repubs often float 40-50 points away. if the Independents, whose values are similar (based on polling and less negiotiable planks like that of the Green Party), can be mobilized, the war is won. to do that, the DNP needs to believe in things, act on those beliefs (even when not immediately 'sexy' or 'hot'), and stop apologizing for having ethics. this is where the message is. not in some overpriced, underlistened 30 second TV ad. all the ads in the world won't do a lick of good as long as the 'product' for sale is rotten.

if the DNP can get a clue and do the right thing, that makes the news and the news makes history. it is by seeing the message lived in daily life, in local organizations and in the news, that voters are opened to the truth. that should have been the damn message of the phone call--content on how the DNP is going to maintain a spine and live the talk.

---------------

that said, i really should point out that i met some cool people, and that we are working on our own plans to do things better locally.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Scalito becomes more fitting

with continued conflicting information emerging on his beliefs, Alito seems more reptilian every day. his actions are cold-blooded, his beliefs clearly defined by current personal agenda, and his fitness for a Supreme Court position more questionable.

Alito claims to respect precedent regardless of his beliefs; he also claims that his comments during the Reagan administration were motivated by want of a job--leaving one to wonder what else he would 'adjust' about his 'deeply held' convictions should the price be right.* in addition, new information has surfaced that strongly suggests his respect for precedent only goes so far:

''There is no explicit textual warrant in the Constitution for a right to an abortion," the brief said. It said the doctrine of precedent should not prevent overturning Roe because ''a decision as flawed as we believe Roe v. Wade to be becomes a focus of instability, and thus is less aptly sheltered by that doctrine."

The Supreme Court rejected those arguments, saying, in part, ''We reaffirm the general principles laid down in Roe."

Alito has told some senators that he has respect for precedent, but he has not said if he would vote to overturn Roe.

One of the key questions about Alito among senators is now whether his statement that ''the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" means that he would try to overturn Roe, or whether his statements about respecting precedent mean that he would leave it intact.

Alito volunteered to work on this case, volunteered to generate arguments protecting onerous and penurious legislation, bragged about this case in a previous job application. Alito bragged about making a difficult decision just that much more horrible for women.

*curiously similar to Scalia, no? Alito has a similar history of shady ethics and failure of recusal, even in the face of written pledges to the contrary.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

ache

so i am home from the DNP Kickoff. for those who couldn't attend, i took plenty of notes on everything. unfortunately, i have been fighting a migraine since about 5pm. one of the flushed face, tight forehead, pain creeping through the temples to the brain, tempting a self-induced pithing. so the report will have to wait. i will have it for you soon.

in the meantime, i discovered another cool grassroots group: the League of Pissed Off Voters. [for those out of the loop, don't forget to check out Drinking Liberally as well.]

otherwise, talk amongst yourselves. maybe think of a question to Ask Bush or Cheney for kicks... (i think Cheney is better, possibly because there is a distinguishable difference between satire and reality.)

Monday, November 14, 2005

rearguard recovery

i have gotten horribly behind. just horribly. the white hare would be dismayed.

things i had been flagging include work to rescind habeas corpus in the Senate and House. to view your senators' positions on the first vote, click here. this is an incredibly disturbing step that will undoubtedly be regarded by our grandchildren with shame, much as President Lincoln's decision to do the same is currently considered by many a 'blemish on an otherwise noble war record.' in an interesting turn of events, some senators have been working on a compromise to the original legislation that gives detainees the ability to appeal results of a military tribunal.

the goal of the original legislation was to halt the onslaught of civil litigation currently flooding from Guantanamo Bay, while the Levin measure theoretically helps keep the country 'free.' given the huge problems with military tribunals with regard to limits on representation and lax witness standards, it seems highly unlikely to me that this attempt to skirt the issue will either 1. limit the amount of legislation the Justice Department faces or 2. help maintain the illusory fairness and freedom of the current justice system as applied to dissidents and ethnic minorities. in addition, given the cost of the appeal on top of the initial military tribunal, this system can only be anticipated to increase the financial burden of Bush's megalomanic and even schizophrenic manifest destiny.

one positive of this step is that the bipartisan group involved intends to campaign aggressively to tie the legislation to McCain's amendment regarding torture that Bush has threatened to veto. meanwhile, Cheney continues to further define himself as a villain straight from the Brothers Grimm with his rabid support of torture. astonishing that his polled favorability ratings are down to 19% and his job performance ratings down to 36%, isn't it?

in other news, the liberal blogosphere has done an excellent job dissecting information surfacing on Alito regarding his anti-choice position, right-wing minimization, and Alito's attempts to repaint himself as a tiger without stripes.

led by Charlie Bass, 22 Republicans have broken party line to force removal of off-shoring drilling and ANWR oil exploration provisions from the House version of the Budget Bill. they should be commended and you can do so here.

finally, the NYT runs an article on the report of the Government Accountability Office that convincingly documents meddling in the FDA's review and rejection of the OTC application for the day-after pill and supporting an illegal cover-up at higher adminstrative levels. will this change anything? unlikely. in spite of wide-spread recognition that the FDA review process has been strong-armed by Right-wing special interest groups, the Plan B review continues to be delayed beyond all conceivable or credible limits.

much like the unutterably slow and unmethodical Phase 2 Senate investigation into the initiation of the Iraq War. though even the Senate is finally showing signs of being fed up with the ongoing lack of an 'escape plan.'

Thursday, November 10, 2005

i think i'm in love

fu*k. everything else is stupid...

why not go wild for a science idea?

especially one that simultaneously antagonizes the paranoid, the government, and the paranoid governmentals.

hey, since i am falling in love, i might as well go hells bells.






so sure, life has been


*complicated*


this last week for those few who know,


but hey. i am still just a human, and a woman to boot, that is trying to live one measly day at a time. wouldn't it be ironic if it was my geekdom that saved me?

how very excellent.



unlikely. but excellent.

--------------

ADDENDUM: so. ahem. more than one person interpreted the post title as actually indicating i have a beau. not so, cruel world. :) i was actually referring to the tin foil hat project. i am in love with the beauty of a scientific experiment evaluating the effect of tin foil hats on radio frequency transmission...

because i am that geeked out--


or undersocialized--


or both...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

PS2 parental control break

when reviewing log files, i recently noticed a huge number of people coming to the site based on the search criteria "The parental level of the player has been set." this revived my motivation to figure out how to kill the stupid presets for parental control. after much searching online, i found the following solution that i can vouchsafe works. the original is posted here but i have pasted it below for reader convenience.

1. Insert a DVD Movie into the PlayStation®2.
2. You should receive a message informing you that the Parental Level has been set, and asking if youĂ˝"d like to allow the disc to play. Highlight "Yes" and then press the X button.
3. A new window will appear asking you to temporarily change the Parental Control to a different level. Again, highlight "Yes", and then press the X button.
4. Another window will appear asking you to enter your Password. Above that window are numbers (0-9).
5. Do not enter your password, but instead, press the select button on your Controller. This will change the text in the window from "Enter Password" to "Delete Password".
6. Using the numbers above the window, input 7444. If successful, you will receive a message stating "Deletion Complete".
7. Press Select. You will now be asked to register a new password. Please select a four-digit code of your choosing.
8. You will be asked to confirm your password selection by inputting the same code once again. If successful, you will receive a message stating "Registration Confirmed".
9. Now you need to turn off the password altogether. The movie should of started playing by now. Press select and chose Setup. Go to the parental control "tab" and set the level to "off".
10. Now you should be able to watch any movie.


now you can go and watch on!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Limbo-tastic! UPDATED

oh joy, oh joy!

how low can they low?

for the actual breakdown, go here. or to see the figures against historic 'low-performers' Nixon and Clinton, check this out!

----------

more disturbing history on Alito. what other diseases or contagions are grounds for dismissal? if i may, i would recommend we balance this viewpoint on HIV with authorization to fire right-wing fundamendalists because their bigotry and general hatefulness may also be contagious for the uninformed...

----------

this pointed move by Earle after Perkins' removal from the DeLay case is brilliant. he is excellently showcasing the amazing offensiveness of the original decision and forcing the issue of 'stacking the judge' as a public topic.
"Prosecutors believe Schraub to be ''completely fair and impartial, with a sterling reputation of honesty and integrity,'' Earle wrote. ''However, as the recusal of Judge Perkins reflected, such is unfortunately no longer the standard in our state for the judiciary.''"

----------

depressingly, though, the Alaskan wilderness just became 'Unocal North.' ironically, the WH is threatening to veto the bill because it would hurt payouts to insurers. props to Salazar for voting to strip the Alaskan drilling clause* even though it failed and for campaigning to preserve the 'Do Not Harm' National Parks policy.

*you can check out your own Senator's vote through this link as well.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reid riot

i must admit i am thrilled by Reid's decision to shut down the Senate to force the Republicans to address the Iraq war. Frist has made a total jackass of himself with his whining and absurd allegations that he 'didn't know the Dems thought there was a problem'. if true, it only indicates how completely incompetent and unfit he is as Senate leader.

the trick is that the Dems have to continue to stand firm. if they misplace the collective spine they are finally growing, the party will never recover. for fun, check out video of Reid after the lockdown. then go to here to email Harry.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Referenda C and D

it is friggin' neck and neck with 40% in.

Page updated Tue Nov 01 20:38:55:
C- Yes: 52.6% No: 47.4%
D- Yes: 50.0% No: 50.0%

if this persists, Colorado deserves its future.

--------------

update: C passed, D failed. so probably i will still have an university to teach at and probably the kids in town will get a chance to get an education instead of turning to felonies for income.

Halloween is the bestest!


Argh, spicy pirate Jack
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
i haven't time this sec to write out a full post--i will get back to it later, but i just couldn't wait to share my favorite costume of the year. this is Pokey the pirate with his faithful 'parrot' Henny Penny.

woo hoo! go Pokey!

for the full photo collection from our annual CVMBS Halloween event, you will have to go here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Referenda C & D are no-brainers

Election day is upon us and I find myself baffled. The incredible blitz of political ad campaigns against C and D rages endlessly and op-ed pieces pour misinformation on the fire. Right now, of all times, one would think that C and D are no-brainers for Fort Collins residents. Company closures and worker attrition continue to increase the important of the university as a job provider noth directly and indirectly through student-associated business throughout town, and redistricting challenges have risen to fever pitch. Yet the futures of C and D remain murky with polls suggesting a dead heat.

Ads, financed in large part by non-Colorado funds, feature teens claiming they won't be able to go to college if C and D pass. Earnest looking actors claim they will lose thousands of dollars in refunds that would otherwise keep them afloat.

The reality is that CSU tuition is anticipated to rise 30-50% if C and D fail, and services will also have to be cut. The number of kids in the state that will not longer be able to afford a college education is astounding and the quality of that education will doubtlessly suffer. That girl who would 'otherwise be able to attend college' was apparently planning on leaving the state for a more affordable or more elite education elsewhere and needed the alleged two thousand bucks for moving expenses. Residents of Fort Collins can anticipate a drop in enrollment while those students still attending will have less expendable income. This will translate to a drop in rentors, diners and shoppers-not my idea of a healthy economy.

And what of that two-three thousand dollar 'loss'? Economists are very clear that there is NO WAY that is even possible. To achieve that, most individuals would have to qualify for every potential line-iten refund-many of which are mutually exclusive. The impact is much more likely to be to the tune of a couple hundred bucks. A couple hundred dollar investment that will maintain the local economy, the local schools and the state's infrastructure. As Jana Ley noted at the School Board Candidate Forum, there is no remaining 'low-hanging' fruit. It is your children's educations, your small businesses and your safety on the road that will pay the price if special-interest groups from Washington succeed in defeating Referendums C and D. Don't let strangers decide our future, a future they don't have to live in. Read the independent assessments and then vote for C and D.

the time has come

to be afraid, be very afraid. Alito's rulings do not support separation of Church and State, will work to overturn Roe v Wade, and will further erode civil liberties and the protection from unauthorized searches (including strip searches). the move is predictable given Bush's many problems right now and his lack of success coercing government officials to help sell the American public on his last 'credible threat' of terrorism. for a humorous synopsis of the issues, click here.

it will be essential for critics of the Shrub to oppose this nomination with vigor without losing vigilance and drive over Plamegate and the misjustification of the Iraq war. it will also be absolutely essential that this battle be fought in a bipartisan and mature manner to avoid use of the filibuster and total system failure in the Senate.

for more information on Alito-so conservative he has been nicknamed Scalito-i recommend watching DefCon, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, Think Progress, and The Times UK (less biased than mainstream US news companies on US matters) for updates. for action don't forget traditional advocacy groups like NARAL, NOW, and Planned Parenthood.

finally, don't forget the obvious: write your senator.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Fitzmas is here

i am a very happy girl today. Fitzmas has been lean so far but the ongoing nature of the investigation and Rove's continued status as a party under investigation casts a greater pall in some ways on the WH than an actual indictment might. Fitzgerald's press conference was absolutely fascinating- cogent, congenial and circumspect.*

Bush's response was pathetic and inconsistent with his position on detainees at GBay ("each person in our system is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial" versus detainees at GBay who are not afforded the protection of due process.)

the commentary and analysis is already intense and can be anticipated to only further deepen.

given profound political scrutiny and abysmal favorability and confidence ratings, the WH is under pressure to name a replacement for Miers post-haste. this selection, fascinating in its own right, is likely to provide great insight into how weak the WH perceives itself. buckle your seats folks- the next week or so is liable to get downright wacky! in the meantime, the wells are erupting with ponies.


*NOTE: the transcript is possibly incomplete as i remember Fitzgerald answering several more questions after the one on Harriet Miers.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

last weekend


me & Dave
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
this past weekend, i was lucky enough to 'escape' to Estes Park for a visit with two of my favorite people in the world.

i drove up Sunday after recuperated from the previous day's trauma of chores. we visited for several hours; Nancy and i took etra time to refine a couple plans we have for world domination and early admission to the Fortune 500. i must point out how well Dave tolerated us. eventually we headed into town to eat at a local Mexican joint that makes quite excellent BBQ ribs. yes, i know that doesn't make sense. what really does in Estes Park? it is a town that is best enjoyed with sturdy suspension of disbelief. next time, i think i will try the artichoke dip-ride the paradox, i say, all the way to the wall. a little tour of the local galleries and organic coffee shop and then back to the house. Dave and Nancy had arranged for me to stay at the neighbor's; it is a second home and quite a blend of antique and contemporaneous bric-a-brac.

it was still dark Monday when i woke. we had plans to head into the Park early for a nice hike and miss the traffic. the stars were spectacular, Orion's Belt heavy with tools. i must confess to some trepidation as i made my way between the houses. Dave and Nancy have regular visits from at least one somewhat pugnacious bear, a fact i remembered most clearly as i rounded the corner of the house. lucky for me, the bears were either sleeping or 'shopping' at another house.

the drive to the trailhead was peaceful, the gawpish tourists still tucked in their beds. it was brisk (~45F) when we reached the trailhead but the sun hadn't quite finished rising. we decided to brave the potential cold and quite evident winds for a chance to see Mills Lake together before the snows close it. as you can tell by my huge grin, the hike was an absolute delight.

we enjoyed a few photo ops at Alberta Falls and curved along many spectacular vistas on the way up. snow occasionally dotted the landscape and winds cut with unexpected vigor into the shadows. happily, we encountered little ice on the way. actually, the trip seemed almost no work at all in spite of being steep in spots. this i attribute to the excellent company.


Mills Lake was quite stunning and only partially frozen. impressively, as we neared the lake, the temperature plummeted from the 40s right into the 20s. there was little wind at the lake and silence settled around us as often happens in the cold. even the Keyboard of the Winds was silent. as usual, Dave and Nancy had everything under control. coffee, nuts, chocolate and camaraderie- the perfect mix to fight off a chill.

still, all things must bow before Mother Nature and eventually we were forced back down the mountain. not long before we were driven from the lake, we were joined by several endearing ragamuffins, angling for bits of our snack. good hikers that we are, we hardened our hearts and turned away. not that it hurt them any-this guy looked chubby enough to have trouble with take-off and landing!

after that, it was back to town for our reward- a delicious breakfast and thick hot coffee. then home for me in time to really put in some work on my grant. the thing is finally taking shape-perhaps i may yet end the 'perpetual student' phase of my life.

downy mildew?

the Shrub is starting to drop leaves.

indictments loom on the horizon and Miers withdrew her nomination. apparently, even cronyism isn't enough to outweigh blatant incapability for a position sometimes. it is likely there will soon be a new 'credible' terrorist threat to distract us from these issues but, like WellMuerte's latest ad campaign, the truth is getting harder and harder to hide.

Delay's lawyer was stupid enough to blatantly lie in court. although mainstream press agencies continue to present biased and misleading information in the case, it is unlikely to sway the 'court of public opinion'. in other news, the Shrub's own father sides against him in a recent New Yorker piece.

possible termination looms for Judith Miller from the new conservative mouthpiece and propaganda machine The NYT. granted, these last few years, its "all Shrub's agenda that is fit to print" unless one is reading the Op-Ed pieces. perhaps this move marks a shift back to less-biased reporting? nah, now i am just talking crazy!

finally, last night there were thousands of candlelit vigils across the US to mourn the death of the 2,000th American soldier in Iraq. mind this leaves aside the many dead contractors and mercenaries working for the US as well as the many more thousands of innocent dead Iraqis. also, lest one forget, most military experts agree that the number of persons permanently disabled or maimed is usually 10 times the number of dead. for obvious reasons, the government does not keep tallies on this subject. in this case, that would be 20,000 brave servicepersons. this probably underestimates the number of maimed and disabled given the remarkable decrease in total mortality secondary to changes in battlefield medicine protocols.

Monday, October 24, 2005

since the house is on fire, let us warm ourselves*

lucky for me, i am almost finished with classes:

"The future of student tuition hinges on what happens Nov. 1. Student tuition has increased by 15 percent this year. If C and D fail, CSU president Larry Penley estimated a 30- to 50-percent increase in tuition. College officials have said this extra student money won't even be enough to offset the reduction in funding caused by the measures' failure."

too bad we aren't 'finished' edumacating peoples yet. better pray C&D pass. offensively, the No ads imply that C&D will hurt the ability of people to go to college and lie about the costs.

well, the US media slant is no longer successfully selling many Americans on the war. i guess the armed forces are hoping that the people out there dying are less discerning and won't question the source of their news. it is a new and more horrific spin on Y2K.

the White House may continue to hope that the impending indictments may be offset by a decreased ability of the disenfrachised to vote and a decreased likelihood that our votes will actually be counted honestly. this seems unlikely to hold true, especially as the Administration has taken to diverting energies from pressing matters like Plamegate, Iraq, our violation of NAFTA and Canada's mounting interest in sanctioning us in order to try and silence one squeaky voice of satirical dissent. they have apparently forgetten that doing so is similar to cutting up starfish in the ocean; every part grows back as a separate predator to pry once more at the clam's shell. eventually the whole system will collapse...

finally, here is an easy way to help fight the invasion of ID into the science classroom. click here to write your governor. remember- the question isn't whether you believe in God, the question is whether such belief should be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.

oh. i almost forgot. Michelle Malkin distinguishes herself and her stupidity by claiming that candlelit vigils to mark the death of the 2000th soldier in Iraq are parties. damn those evil unconcerned pacifist Quakers for their callous indifference and debauched nightlife.

gack. how does such stupidity and hate-mongering continue to thrive in this age? it seems the only thing that can't evolve is humankind's collective bloodthirst.

-------------------
*Italian proverb

Sunday, October 23, 2005

lessons

today has been an epically unkarmic day.

it started unpossessing enough. woke late, the first saturday in two months where i didn't have engagements by eight, and lazed about. lazing about, for those naive and unskilled, is a wonderful state that delicately balances the basic needs like primo lattes against the risk of 'industry'. quite delicious but definitely acquired skill.

slowly, carefully, inkled my way into actual action. cleaning. lots and lots of cleaning. the last time i really cleaned was when i reclaimed my apartment 4 months ago from the gnomes of neglect. there was great sneezing, mild cursing, and confused darting of cats. a delightful trip to the basement to reclaim the humidier almost resulted in death as the 'not before marriage' neighbor's cat tried to dart into the basement. the humidifier went flying, i narrowly missed the cat's neck and the cat sought higher ground. this was followed by the enviable joy of public laundry. upside: i have learned a lot today about the latino version of WWF.

home after 8 hours chores to rest. deep breath. quiet house. out to rent movie and pick up bottle of wine. home, happy, ready to relax and enjoy my cozy abode. assembled the humidifier while previews ran. enjoyed the first ten minutes of movie (Fever Pitch- fine, i have a weakness for Drew Barrymore. who, that isn't blind, doesn't?). pop into the bedroom to put up my sweater and---

i have no ark so the cats will likely drown... a pool of water encircles the humidifier, soaks the area rug, reaches toward the intake vent for the heat. cats scatter, parts fly, i schlepp humidifer to shower and towels to floor. ugh. area rug onto chairs to dry, towels mop floor then into sinks to drain, cats on backs of furniture-they are just like that...

frenzied activity. can i get no breaks? well, the turn with the neighbor's cat apparently cracked the humidifier reservoir so no vacuum can be maintained. water will flow. and flow. and flow.

fuck. but hey, i caught it and mopped it, and at least the floor was clean when i started so i should be able to stall a repeat trip to the laundromat. all is in the shower so now i can settle back down with a glass of wine and enjoy the movie.

glass from cabinet- arcing shatter through the air, in my arm, on the sink, to the floor. WTF?!? glass exploded. must have touched something but still.

o. k.

new glass. ancient glass. hardy 60s alcoholic testament to liquor glass. rock on. ain't nuthin short of WW to break this baby.

mopped up shards- no interest in hemorrhaging cats. now settled down with wine and high-water cats for the movie. first scene fine. second scene fine. third scene, funny with the psycho bit. fourth scene suddenly close-captioned. can't escape. now spanish. now french. now german. the germans watch romantic comedy?! i thought that is what they held special elections for?

eventually eject the disk and start over. but i have a PS2. so again with "The Parental Level of the Player has been set" or something. so again with the code. watch scenes 1-3 again b/c why not. and four now seizes for reasons previously unrevealed due to funding sources... so eject the disk and clean and crabby and clean and back in and scan scenes 1-3 and now fine on four. but who really needed to see a spin class AGAIN?

the movie was fine. plenty funny. plenty both sides. in spite of all previous expectations, done with time to waste. my two channels: Cheaters and the local news as revised by Fox. hmm. so pop in a disk of MBFGW.

here is where the lessons come in. lesson 1: there are few few movies that stand repeated viewing. most fail for the same reason relationships fail if they last long enough-- the things that attracted you become kitsch and annoying and drive you away. Exceptions: The Linguini Incident ("they're in the white group."), Dave ("Was it that day in the shower?"), Princess Bride (pick your own quote- its like fish in a barrel) and My Big Fat Greek Wedding ("I came alive when I met you."). other honorable mentions: Elf, Sleepless in Seattle, Happy Texas, Raising Arizona.

"what do all these movies share?" i hear you ask.

nothing.

nothing at all except they have all survived repeated viewings under challenging circumstances. all i would buy again in a heartbeat.

lesson 1b: there is no good, fiscally prudent way to predict which movies will successfully weather life to fit in this category. unfortunately, you just have to take a chance.

after the movie, i brushed my teeth and stumbled onto lesson 2- the reason i am writing now. i have a 'jack-n-jill' bathroom which spills into my bedroom. Sonicare buzzing, i glanced into my clean clean bedroom and was struck by the lack of rug. (rug still drying in the main room over dining chairs) suddenly i remembered the way my bedroom had looked before my mother had her way with it. the comfortmeter needle lodged permanently between aesthetic and Spartan. it was all fine and was probably a decent representation of what i needed in a place to sleep.

but Mom came. saw and was displeased. there was great reconnaissance after which large sums of money, both hers and mine, were spent to civilize the space. now the curtains have color, the comforter is down and purple, throw pillows frolic with the teddy bear and a great rug fills the void of the floor.

this is my life.

a representation of my whole life.

i live it and carefully but my mother, mon amie, comes along and adds a peculiar joie de vivre. i settle into the civilized space she has created, the sanctuary she makes of my cave.

so what exactly is lesson 2?

lesson 2: life alone is fine, at least sometimes. life with my mother is Technicolor all the time and i would give an organ to have that always. easily more than one.

the take home: life without my mother is flat and insipid and Spartan and null. every day i am so unbelievably grateful for the privilege of living within her radiant circle. how cool is that?

with love,

Jackie Chris

Thursday, October 20, 2005

quibbley and cool

truth in mainstream news at last. also, think i forgot to share the ponies.

oh it is getting better and better!!

UPDATE: blech. my representatives disgust me. see this and this.

Dear Senator Salazar,

I was appalled to see you voted against the Coburn amendments. You are sending a message of fiscal irresponsibility and devotion to pork barrel over decency that is appalling. Even Senator Allard voted for the second amendment.

Continuing to be disappointed in your representation of Colorado and the Democratic party, I remain your constituent,

Jacqueline Whittemore, DVM DACVIM


for the final vote, see here:
Update II: It was easier to keep tally of the meager few "yes" votes than write in the tons of senators which put the politics of personal pork above the national interest. A $223 million bridge serving 50 people was more important to these people than rebuilding storm-battered New Orleans.

Simply unconscionable. Those who voted against these amendments have zero credibility on issues of fiscal responsibility. Zero.

alright already

so i have been back from Jen's for over 24 hours and have yet to update the world. i guess i am trying to figure where to start given the number of things that have changed!

as there is not enough time to splain, i will sum up:
Supreme Court do-over: i cannot tell you how excellent and humorous i find this given the complete audacity of selecting Miers as Supreme Court justice candidate.

Bush ratings so low that only Nixon did worse in his second term: this has led to a quite humorous run on ponies and some excellent 'gate' comparisons.

rumors mill of possible Cheney step-down: the downside is that they anticipate Condoleezza Rice as a replacement. the humorous part of this story is that conservatives are concerned because Condoleezza may be pro-choice, not because it indicates the scandal and intrigue reaches to the highest recesses of their 'moral' White House.

anti C&D ads have started running on TV. what are these people on and how do they have such a steady supply? do they not realize how catastrophically fu**ed we will be if C&D fail? higher ed, lower ed, roads, other public works--all gone or out-sourced according to the overwhelming majority of governmental, independent watchdog and outsider analyses. here at CSU VMC we have already been hit so hard and exhausted so many creative options in response to tax cuts and the recession, another cut would almost guarantee our inability to continue as a veterinary leader and center of excellence. i shudder to consider the result.

HSR is releasing a Lil Brudder t-shirt: this is of course based on a most excellent SB email.

5th publication out: yup. you read right. my 5th first author peer-reviewed scientific publication (Canine and Feline Pancreatitis) just came out Friday, continuing my tradition as an achieving machine. :)

there is more i know, but that is what comes to mind as i rush to bed. still haven't had time to expand on the flamethrowing torch, the importance of property, the socialist in the coffee shop, or the true value of a donut shop. i'll try. remind me. so, signing off from a tiny blue island in a frighteningly red state, i remain as ever,

yours

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

local politics are fun

about a week ago, i received in the mail my absentee ballot for the November election. i had requested it when i previously thought there might be reason to be out of town and, though circumstances have changed, the ballot came anyway. anyone who knows me knows i hate having things undone so i immediately set about completing it for submission. halfway through i was stopped when i came to the section for Poudre School District Board positions and discovered there was no centralized source of information on the beliefs of these individuals. heck, there was no information at all on most of them. a little digging led me to an impending forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. that forum was Tuesday.

i missed the first 10 minutes as several doors were locked and it took a bit to find the right way into the building. i admit that i do not have a photographic memory, didn't care about all the waffle and filler, and so my notes only take one so far but here are the questions they were asked and is what i learned about each of the candidates from their responses. the actual forum is being rebroadcast several times for those who care. at the end of each candidate, i have listed my impressions and a subjective score.

questions


1. what are the 3 main issues you see as most pressing should you be elected?
2. what can you bring to the challenges of 'boundary' issues, school closures and redistricting?
3. how will you address any necessary budget cuts and what areas will you target?
4. would you support teaching of intelligent design and/or creationism in the science classroom?
5. how would you handle board conflict, as it is inevitable?
6. using a scale of 1-10 with 1 being abstinence only and 10 being teaching about birth control, STDs etc, where do you believe the health education curriculum should be on the level of sexual education provided in our schools?
7. are you for or against 'school of choice'?
8. if you could start one new program, what would it be?
9. are you for or against referenda C & D?


Director District C:


Jim Hayes: running unopposed.
1. boundary/redistricting, dirth of new teachers and poor teacher retention, the achievement gap.
2. recognized we can't please everyone. opposed to anti-'tree' options, any decision needs to be framed for the long-term
3. no real answer.
4. NO, not in science, can consider in religion.
5. team-building in advance; once decision made, all should stand behind.
6. a 5 on the scale. teach abstinence but open about options.
7. pro-school of choice.
8. program to help eliminate the phenomenon of 'turn off to school in junior high.'
9. pro. discussed high bipartisan support; refuted assertions by opponents of C&D.
overall: an upfront guy, stressed he is a 'layperson' on a number of the above issues but would work to get to the right answers. showed up even though uncontested in his district. my score 8.5/10.

Director District D: 2 candidates.


a shame one cannot be moved to District F as both were very strong and good choices (see below for problem with District F).

Jana Ley
1. building teamwork between members of the PSD board; supporting Dr. Wilson, the new superintendent of schools; improving communication between the PSD board and the community.
2. will keep listening.
3. talked about the committee that has handled trimming things so far. talked about the lack of 'low-hanging' fruit. was honest that, at this point, any cuts will affect the kids, regardless of where they are initially aimed. if less janitors, poorer working environment, etc.
4. NO, no in science. specifically stated ID isn't a science, is faith-based.
5. building teamwork; discussed that disparity and conflict are reflections of having a broad board that reflects the disparate needs of the community.
6. an 8-9 on the scale. spoke knowledgably about the approved curriculum and the importance of appropriately training teachers so the 10 lessons have appropriate impact.
7. pro-school of choice but pointed out there are concerns/issues with accessibility to all.
8. had difficulty because felt like a 'beggar at a feast.' if had to start with one, would go with grid busing for all community members and students to balance rising fuel costs and help level some of the inequity created by socioeconomic status on 'school of choice' participation.
9. absolutely supports. addressed the misleading assumption that Amendment 23 protects school funding and that it stipulates percentage increase or decrease but does not stipulate base. base is set by independent statistical formulas and would most certainly fall prey to the fiscal crisis created should C&D not pass.
overall: experienced but not pushy or preachy. very honest and level. a good egg. my score 9/10.

Bob Long
1. closing the achievement gap of the at-risk population, decreasing high school drop-out rates, improving communication between the PSD board and the community.
2. listen to community, get them involved. also suggested trying to form partnerships with the city board and board of realtors to find alternative solutions.
3. improve partnerships, try to leverage committee use of buildings to generate additional revenue, work more aggressively to correct the imbalance between state funding (1%) for cost of living increases and true cost (~4%) of living increases.
4. very hedgey about ID overall but firm that doesn't belong in science classroom.
5. emphasized importance of good of team over personal ego.
6. a 5-8 on the scale. we need to teach sex education issues because of the variety of personal situations and home life issues, would be 'disrespectful' of students to go to abstinence only education. also brought up the importance, now that the 10th grade curriculum has been decided, of developing junior high curriculum, quoted stats on percentages of teens that are sexual active while in junior high.
7. pro-school of choice, but stressed the need to find solutions for the inequities causes for families where the parents are financially disadvantaged.
8. increased methodology for PSD board to community interaction- email, website, increased forums etc.
9. supports both.
overall: a good guy, has obviously given this a lot of thought. proposed some new ideas and seemed like a good team player. my score 8.5/10.


District E: 3 candidates.


Ernest Cienfuegos-Baca
1. better securement of resources, redistricting, at-risk achievement gap.
2. increased community involvement, sell to charter school
3. no attempt to answer. 'should increase resources' not cut things.
4. very hedgey but would put ID in history not science.
5. my notes for his response to this were one word long: babble.
6. a 5. was familiar with the current curriculum. felt it is very diverse and comprehensive.
7. pro-school of choice. 'parents know best' the right choices for their kids; didn't address the challenges at all.
8. school of arts/magnet school.
9. supports both.
overall: talked a lot without ever saying much except that he has always been involved in the community and that his wife could vouch for that. didn't seem to have any substantive plan to help or address any issue raised. my score 5/10.

Bruce Smith
1. health issues (obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus), increasing parental involvement, boundary issues.
2. 'school of choice' fine but maintain local neighborhood schools by enriching local resources.
3. "I don't know frankly" where to start cuts. would try and work with the city to form partnership to decrease transportation costs by leveraging Transfort buses, which are underutilized, and decreasing actual school bus usage.
4. not in science. period. next question.
5. partnership, debate all they want but then, once the vote is cast, the board stands as one board.
6. a 10. next question. no wait. i mean it should be age appropriate but a 10. referenced articles and concerns re STDs, the importance of teaching intimacy and self-respect so that teens don't turn to sex for self-validation but a 10. definitely.
7. school of choice is positive because it involves parents and anything that increases parental involvement will be successful. but as gas prices rise, there is a risk of only the rich being able to transport their kids to the 'better' schools. "if we are not careful, Jim Crow will slip into town, and this town will lose its soul."
8. get all the kids public bus passes and get them in public transit. work to increase bike path usage. this decreased dependence on private transportation will: 1. aid the fight against medical issues as it will be harder for kids to leave at lunch and gorge on unhealthy foods, 2. decrease the negative impact of gas prices/income disparity on exposure to good school choice.
9. pro. passing C&D is "more important than voting for me."
overall: my favorite candidate. sure, he generated good soundbites, but he was also funny, unapologetic about his views, open to other people's input. his closing: i will speak up when i feel i have something to contribute and, when i don't, i won't. my score 10/10.

Larry Neal:
1. decreasing enrollment, achievement gap, community partnerships
2. as a rule, ' don't favor public schools but' need to balance niche needs against costs. [if he doesn't believe in public schools, what the heck is he doing here?]
3. no real answer. talked about business partnerships.
4. NOT in science class.
5. conflict is inevitable, try to shift the argument from opinion to data to defuse and refocus.
6. 'personally, i am a 1' but i recognize blah blah blah. not familiar with the current curriculum. thinks parents should be able to opt their kids out of sex ed.
7. pro-school of choice. posed the question- can we find a way to generalize the innovations of successful choice schools to all schools?
8. interchange of 'best practices' between schools, principals and teachers.
9. supports C&D but 'struggled with it'. stated that he believes TABOR is the best thing that ever happened to Colorado.
overall: started most of his answers with 'in my business experience.' doesn't believe in public schools, doesn't believe in any sex ed, doesn't see the harm that has been caused by TABOR. believes in bringing corporate into schools. scary. i guess he could have been worse and his answer to 7 was very insightful. my score 3/10.

District F:


Nancy Tellez running unopposed.
1. enrollment, diverse student needs, parent/community involvement.
2. we are 'early in fact finding,' need to remember it is about people not numbers.
3. no answer.
4. tried very hard to not answer. it isn't about my opinion, we should do whatever the community wants, dither dither dither. when pushed, YES.
5. talked about the importance of 'transparency' in the discussion process.
6. wouldn't give an answer.
7. pro-school of choice but concerned about equal access issues, also concerned about the lack of a standardized curriculum as students may go from school to school.
8. "professional learning communities"
9. strongly supports.
overall: for someone who stressed the importance of 'transparency' in her answer to almost every question, she did a very good job of not sharing anything or answering any of the questions. it was somewhere between offensive and comical that she was so 'transparent' in her intransigence. leaving aside the fact that ID is a dealbreaker for me--my score 4/10. including the ID issue, 0/10.



finally, for those who would like a more official report on the forum, click here.



overall, local politics are curious and attract a curious group of folks. i felt that, no matter what else, all of the candidates (except maybe one) were there to 'give back' to the community, not there for personal gain or agenda.

other upside: got to learn about health. my favorite 'learning issue' from the Health Curriculum, repeated almost verbatim at least once in the Purpose Section of every lesson: "Students will recognize that a decision of abstinence is an acceptable personal choice and why it is the best personal choice."

so take that, all you skanks, and take that Bill Maher.