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Evidence the LDS church lied about contributions to support Proposition 8 [Jan. 17th, 2009|11:42 am]
cactuswren
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Courtesy of American News Project:


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Mmmm. Doughnuts. [Jan. 16th, 2009|04:47 pm]
cactuswren

Do you have a Krispy Kreme in your neighborhood?  On Inauguration Day, all Krispy Kremes are offering every customer one free doughnut

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet 'free' can be.
 

I don't care if it's six points, I'm having one.

Some people aren't.  Judie Brown, of the American Life League, has bizarrely labeled these tasty morsels of sugary glazed chocolate-topped goodness "abortion doughnuts", apparently on the grounds that anything labeled with the word "choice" must be evil: 

The unfortunate reality of a post Roe v. Wade America is that 'choice' is synonymous with abortion access, and celebration of 'freedom of choice' is a tacit endorsement of abortion rights on demand.

President-elect Barack Obama promises to be the most virulently pro-abortion president in history. Millions more children will be endangered by his radical abortion agenda.

Celebrating his inauguration with 'Freedom of Choice' doughnuts - only two days before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to decriminalize abortion - is not only extremely tacky, it's disrespectful and insensitive and makes a mockery of a national tragedy.
 
No, the "unfortunate reality" is that choice is a good thing, that Judie Brown doesn't get to revise the dictionary to suit herself, and that I'm getting me a free chocolate-iced cruller.

ETA Keith Olbermann's pithy characterization of Judie Brown:

"She is a loon."
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I don't even LIKE turkey. [Nov. 28th, 2008|04:07 am]
cactuswren
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[music |Cats Laughing, "See How The Sparrow Flies"]

A chronicle of my personal worst Thanksgiving.

This one happened some years ago, but has engraved itself on my brain.  At that time I was living alone, so my friend Dar asked me to come over to her place for Thanksgiving.  Actually, since I had no other plans (and no car), she suggested that she come over and pick me up on Wednesday so I could help her with the shopping;  I would stay over at her place, and we could make the preparations that afternoon and dinner the next day.


Should have lied.  When she asked me if I had plans, I should have lied.   For  various reasons I have no particular emotional attachment to the Thanksgiving holiday and no problem with spending it alone, and spending that Thanksgiving alone would have been infinitely preferable to spending it with Dar.  I should have lied ...


Anyway.  She showed up at my place on Wednesday and off we went to Fry’s Supermarket.  Where I witnessed such an orgy of shopping as I have not seen since.  Example:  The rule I’ve run across most often for choosing a turkey is “two pounds per diner”.  There were to be six at table: Dar, her husband Jerry, their two teenaged nephews whom they were raising, me and one other guest.


So naturally Dar bought a twenty-six-pound turkey.  Because she couldn’t find anything larger.  Fresh, so we could cook it the next day.


And everything else was bought in proportion.  Six loaves of bread for the stuffing.  Three pie crusts and three cans of pumpkin.  Three dozen eggs.  Two huge things of celery.  Four pounds of butter.  With Dar sorting through all the butter and egg cartons in the refrigerator section, searching carefully for the very freshest unsalted butter (because unsalted butter is fresher than salted, she said) and the very freshest brown eggs (because brown eggs are “better” than white).  She bought enough food to feed fifteen people.


We had to hit two supermarkets:  Fry’s for most stuff, the Bashas’ nearest Dar’s place (now a Food City) for produce.  I bought apples and walnuts to make Waldorf salad because my mother always made Waldorf salad at Thanksgiving.


Then we headed back to Dar’s, put everything into the refrigeratorS ...


and proceeded to sit around for the entire afternoon and evening.


Dar drank and talked about how expert she was at cooking Thanksgiving dinners, and then just drank and talked.  Finally, around eleven at night, I tried to make a contribution and actually turn this into a conversation:  she’d just finished a long and convoluted and utterly pointless anecdote which I’d heard six times before, and I chimed in with, “That reminds me of something I read once.”


That’s as far as I got, because at that point Dar jumped to her feet with an excited, “Well, yeah, but we don’t have any time for idle chitchat.  We’ve got to get some of this stuff made.”


Which should give you an idea of the sort of person Dar is.  She can drunkenly repeat a story a dozen times, undisturbed by multiple assurances that you’ve heard this story before.  But anyone else’s contribution to the conversation, any interruption of her monologue, is “idle chitchat”.


So, we made a few loaves of bread and finally conked out around two in the morning.  And when we arose was when things got interesting.


At that time, Dar had two refrigerators:  one in the kitchen, one outside on the back patio.  Most of the groceries from the Thankgiving shopping ordeal had gone into the outside fridge.  And that was a very cold winter.


We woke up to find that all the groceries in the outside fridge, including the fresh turkey, had frozen.


So while Dar and the nephews (whom I shall call Elder and Younger) cut up bread and chopped freezer-burned celery, I got the joyful task of thawing out the turkey.  Hauling this enormous dead frozen corpse of a bird around and around in a sinkful of warm water, flexing its joints and waiting for Dar to finally give her official ruling that it was sufficiently thawed to start work.


It had to be Dar’s decision, because all the decisions were hers.  You see, Dar hat this entire erroneous notion that she could cook.  (Hint:  Dar once told me that a cast iron pan was not properly "seasoned" unless you scrubbed it inside with soap and steel wool after every use.)


Finally, she gave the turkey legs a few bends and ruled the Monster cookable.  We hauled it over to the kitchen table, dried it with two bathtowels, and then Dar salted and peppered it and rubbed it all over with a thick layer of Crisco.


Not butter, or even margarine.  Crisco.  A thick layer.  That turkey looked as if it had been frosted like a cake.


And then the stuffing process began.  Dar had cut up six loaves of bread, seasoned them, added chicken broth and onion and celery and melted butter ... and at least a dozen raw eggs.  The stuffing was not merely “moist”, it was wet.  Soupy wet.


Okay, “stuffing” as noun was done with;  next, “stuffing” as verb.  Now, every cookbook I’ve ever seen, every “roast turkey and dressing” recipe I’ve ever read, states very specifically and explicitly:  spoon the dressing lightly into the turkey.  Always.  Invariably.  And usually in those exact words: spoon the dressing lightly into the turkey.


So Dar proceeded to RRRAM the dressing into the turkey with all the strength in her body.


She sewed the engorged, distended turkey shut at both ends … and it was at this point she discovered (!) that she didn’t have a roasting pan quite big enough for an overstuffed twenty-six-pound turkey.  She put the turkey into the largest pan she had, slightly overhanging on all sides, and tucked the extra dressing (and there was a lot of extra dressing) into the pan’s edges around the bird.  Somehow she fitted this ... object into the oven, along with pans of sweet potatoes and greenbean casserole and everything else.


This was three o’clock in the afternoon.


At this point it occurred to Dar to find out exactly how long a turkey that size needed to cook.


She checked a couple of her cookbooks and found numbers based on the USDA’s old turkey-roasting guidelines.  They all said that a turkey that size needed to roast for twenty minutes per pound.


Eight hours and forty minutes.


Okay, so at least it gave us a chance to rest for a while.  And me a chance to converse with Other Guest for as long as I could stand it, OG being a right-wing asshole Limbaugh fan.  Fiiiinally we took the turkey out of the oven.


As I said, Dar had packed dressing into the edges of the pan surrounding the turkey.  You’ve cooked rice, haven’t you?  You know how it forms a flat surface pocked with holes, where steam has bubbled up through?


That’s how those piles of dressing looked.  Pocked with holes, where GREASE had bubbled up through.  All the liquid that dripped out of the turkey, that a real cook would have basted the bird with and then made gravy out of, had been absorbed.  Including the Crisco I mentioned earlier.


You could squeeze a handful of that stuff and it would drip. 


So, dinner hit the table sometime after midnight.  The turkey breast was as dry as you’d expect after nearly nine hours in the oven, the dark meat little better, the exterior dressing was like a wet sponge, the interior stuffing ... it was as if the turkey had swallowed a bowling ball.


Only four of us dined:  me, Jerry, OG, and Elder nephew.  Younger had passed out sometime around ten, and Dar herself ... well, nothing adds to the appeal of a meal quite so much as having your cook murmuring as she puts your plate in front of you, “I’m not gonna eat anything, I really feel like throwin’ up just about now.”


Dar and Jerry had seven dogs.  Even the DOGS wouldn’t eat that goddamn turkey.


Everyone liked my Waldorf salad, though.

I haven't eaten at Dar's since.

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Whining works, the world won’t end after all [Oct. 7th, 2008|10:53 am]
cactuswren
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[music |Soundtrack from "Porco Rosso"]

A few weeks ago, a couple in California refused to fill out their marriage license, stamping their feet and wailing that the state was “discriminating” against them as a heterosexual couple. Rachel Bird and Gideon Codding were apparently convinced that the world would fly out of its orbit and crash into the sun if they were “forced” to identify themselves as “Party A” and “Party B” rather than “bride” and “groom”. “Waaa! Waaaaa!” they wailed. “The state is discriminating against us by treating us just like any other couple!”

Well, their tantrum worked.

California state officials, saying they had heard from residents all over the state who would like to be identified as "bride" and "groom" on their marriage license, announced Monday that state forms will be changed. Again.

Couples filling out the license will now have the option of declaring themselves bride and groom, bride and bride or groom and groom. They can also leave the space blank. The new forms will be available in county offices in November.


Because calling yourself a bride isn't enough. Being called the bride at your wedding ceremony isn't enough. You have to have a little piece of paper from the state that OFFICIALLY NAMES YOU as a "bride", or you're not really a bride at all. And that's discrimination.

I wonder what Bird and Codding’s little sulking fit is costing the state of California just in having to print up new new documents?

(Via.)
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(no subject) [Oct. 1st, 2008|10:35 pm]
cactuswren
http://xkcd.com/482/

I declare this to be officially the coolest comic ever.

Boom de ya da.
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(no subject) [Sep. 6th, 2008|12:13 am]
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On the economy:  a rant                                  

Thursday evening, driving home from the Post Office, I was already thinking about doing a post on the economy, when I was driven into a frenzy of rage and disgust.  Driving down Higley Road, I saw what may be, both aesthetically and morally, the ugliest object I have ever seen in my life. 

I couldn’t get a photo, so I’m linking to a commercial image of a similar item:

 



A stretch Hummer.  This is certainly the very Platonic ideal of obscene.



Today's topic:  the economy, and the difference between ordinary people and the sort who own, or build, or even rent, stretch Hummers.

What exactly is a recession?

According to Wikipedia, the National Bureau of Economic Research defines a “recession” as “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”  Often lately, I’ve heard the “negative GDP-growth for two successive quarters” rule cited as if it were the “official definition”.  By this definition, some are arguing that the United States “may be” in or “heading into” a recession.

Paging the Clue Fairy.

The problem with the two-negative-quarters rule, and all such rules, is that they pay no attention to the real world.  It is entirely possible for GDP to be up, but the real world’s economy to be abysmal.  Such rules are entirely abstract:  they treat an economy of “ten million transactions of one thousand dollars” – the sort of transactions the middle class can afford in a truly thriving economy – as identical to an economy of “one thousand transactions of ten million dollars each”, because the same number of dollars are moving around.

In an abstract sense, perhaps.  But driving down the road, I notice that there are four classes of businesses that are thriving to a degree I’ve never seen before the past few years:  check-cashing establishments, payday lenders, dollar stores, and Wal-Mart.

All four of these have a thing in common:  they are all places people frequent because they must, not because they may.  For all of advertisers’ efforts to persuade us that the dollar store is a Fun And Sensible Place To Shop, or to make Wal-Mart look cool and classy and intriguing, the fact remains that people go there because it’s where they can afford to go.  Certainly no one goes to a casa de cambio or a payday-loan place for the fun of paying an APR of 460%.

Businesses people don’t like, that they don’t want to frequent, are thriving.

Businesses that they only frequent because that’s all they can afford.

Such businesses have been flourishing as never before for years now.

And yet, only now – now that the ten-million-dollar-transaction crowd, the stretch-Hummer crowd, are starting to be hit in the pocketbook – only now are the news media beginning to wonder, “Is the economy in trouble?”  “Are we in danger of a recession?”

Note my tags for this post.



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On Hillary Clinton [Aug. 26th, 2008|01:31 pm]
cactuswren
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Courtesy of Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville, we have Eric Boehlert's Media Matters op-ed piece: 

Hillary Clinton speaks at convention.  The press concocts a story.

Hillary Clinton is going to speak at the convention.  There is nothing strange or unusual or out of the ordinary about this.  As Boehlert reminds us, "At the Democratic National Convention in 1992, Jerry Brown, who finished a very distant second to the party's nominee, had his name placed into nomination and addressed the assembled convention.... In years past, Democratic candidates who won lots of primaries and accumulated hundreds of delegates (sorry, Howard Dean and Bill Bradley) have always been allowed to address the convention and very often place their name into nomination. It's the norm. It's expected. It's a formality."  (Emphasis mine.)

Based on previous conventions, if a candidate had accumulated as many delegates and votes as Clinton did during the primaries and then did not have her name placed into nomination, that would represent a radical departure from the convention norm.

But, boy, in 2008, an awful lot of media outlets have played dumb. When covering the August 14 announcement about Clinton's role in Denver, they miraculously forgot to make any historical reference to similar names-placed-in-nomination at previous conventions.

Instead, readers and viewers were left with the obvious impression that what was scheduled to happen in Denver was remarkable, an anomaly. And I suppose if you look at the events through a soda straw, it does look unusual. But if you include the slightest bit of context, the story changes into something normal and routine.

But that's not the story the press wants to tell ...

Exactly.  The story the press wants to tell is that Hillary Clinton is not nice.  She's not ladylike.  Boehlert includes a link to a New York Post article headlied (oops -- well, never mind, leave it) "HILLARY PUSHES WAY ONTO STAGE".

Okay, I concede that we shouldn't expect better from the New York Post.  But I can, and do, expect better from real journalists.  And I'm not getting it.

Why does Hillary Clinton frighten these people so?
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News from the Democratic National Convention [Aug. 26th, 2008|01:49 am]
cactuswren
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At a minimum.

Georgia10 over at DailyKos reports that she and her associates had to change hotels at the last minute -- and that was before learning that the meth bust at their original hotel was apparently connected to a plot to kill Barack Obama.

According to that link, which is several hours old as I keyb this (1:55 a.m. MST), an unnamed "U.S. government official" said it was "premature to say that it was a valid threat".  More recent information is available at cbs4 in Denver, where we're told that at least four people are under arrest but that it was "not a credible threat".

DailyKos's GregMitch has more information.  Meanwhile CNN, clueless as ever, seem completely unaware that anything is going on in Denver outside the convention hall.  (Any or all of these links may be updated by the time I wake up tomorrow.)
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Lou Dobbs Tonight … and every night [Nov. 27th, 2007|06:25 pm]
cactuswren
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Transcript of a typical Lou Dobbs Tonight broadcast:

 

“Welcome to CNN.  I’m Lou Dobbs.  Tonight, fires rage again in Southern California, and in other news ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and oh, yes, there is still a war in Iraq.  AMERICA IS BEING INVADED BY IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, the Democratic candidates are to engage in a debate tonight:  will Hillary Clinton admit she WANTS TO GIVE AMNESTY AMNESTY AMNESTY TO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS?  In health news tonight, IDIOTS ON THE LEFT, IDIOTS IDIOTS IDIOTS IN WASHINGTON WANT ILLEGAL ILLEGAL ILLEGAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO COME TO THIS COUNTRY AND GIVE YOUR CHILDREN LEPROSY.  More after the break.”

 

{commercial break}

 

“In international news, the president of a foreign country made a diplomatic visit to the United States.  Unfortunately the foreign country was Mexico, so this is a MILITARY INCURSION ONTO UNITED STATES SOIL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS INVASION INVASION INVASION – here to discuss this, a person whom I carefully will not mention is a member of a white-supremacist group.  Now for tonight’s ‘Broken Borders’ segment:  There are in fact users of illegal drugs in the United States, and THEY ARE ALL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS ARE BROUGHT TO THIS COUNTRY FROM MEXICO BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS WHO WANT TO ENDANGER YOUR CHILDREN.  Public schools in many American cities are overcrowded, underfunded, and understaffed, and the sole and only reason for this is that THESE IDIOTS IN THE GOVERNMENT ARE MAKING YOUR CHILDREN GO TO SCHOOL ALONGSIDE BROWN CHILDREN OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.  Again I shall not mention that my guest tonight is here representing a group that maintains blacks and Hispanics are genetically inferior to whites.

 

“Here is tonight’s grotesquely slanted poll, about how THESE IDIOT ARE LETTING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS INVADE OUR COUNTRY.  I am now going to pretend I’m surprised to learn that people who watch my show tend to agree with me.

 

“ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS, AMNESTY LOBBY, INVASION INVASION DESTROYING OUR ECONOMY.  ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO MEXICO MEXICO MEXICO MEXICO MEXICO TAKING OVER OUR COUNTRY.

 

“And now for some of our email comments.  Send your emails to lou.dobbs@really.runs.cnn.com – if you kiss my ass enough in your email, I might read it on the air and send you a copy of my book.

 

“In economic news, Bigbox Chainstore dares to employ people who do not speak English.  THIS IS A BETRAYAL OF AMERICANS AND EVERYTHING THE FLAG STANDS FOR, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.  My guest tonight NEVER calls Mexican people ‘savages’, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, and I shall not bring up that her organization was described as a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 

“And last tonight, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ILLEGAL ILLEGAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS POROUS BORDERS.  Up next, Out in the Open – here’s Rick Sanchez, trying to pretend he doesn’t find my covert racism offensive.  Look, I can be nice to him even though his name ends in Z.  I’m Lou Dobbs.”

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Patriot Day [Sep. 11th, 2007|07:30 am]
cactuswren
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I was going to write something about the date, but Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has already said about everything I could:
So please, in recognition of the true spirit of Patriot Day, take the time to question someone's patriotism. Go talk to that colleague at work-- the one who hasn't worn his flag lapel-pin lately -- and ask him why he hates this wonderful country. Greet your co-workers with a cheerful holiday greeting -- "Love it or leave it!" -- but don't make it so cheery that they fail to appreciate this is not a hypothetical ultimatum. Play Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." over and over at your desk until someone complains, then ask them what it is they don't like about the song -- "God"? "The U.S.A.?" Or both?
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