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The diary of
Iseema bin Laden

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I was not your average little girl. I have two brothers, and I was a tomboy who hated dolls and loved to play softball and football and hang with the guys. I never considered myself a geek, which is probably an astonishing revelation in blogger society, but there you have it--I wasn't a geek growing up, I didn't get picked on, and I didn't pick on anyone else. If you left me alone, I left you alone. If you didn't leave me alone, we met at the park after school and fought it out. I never lost a fight.

I watched about half of John Stossel's "The In Crowd and Social Cruelty" last night, which was a show on kids and bullying. It pointed out that middle school is where the worst of the bullying is done. The show made me remember something that happened to me the first day I got on the bus to junior high school, which would be middle school now. My older brother was a year ahead of me in school. He was not a fighter. That first day of seventh grade, I got on the schoolbus and sat in the back with the rest of the girls. (This was during the Stone Age, when the genders were strictly separated.) After a few minutes, I noticed that a bunch of the boys were picking on my brother. It pissed me off, bigtime. I called out to them, "Leave him alone!" After a few moments of shuffling back and forth, my brother said, "Aw, they're not really bothering me. They're just fooling around." It was obvious to everyone that he was saying this under duress. So I stood up to my then-height of maybe four-foot-six and said, "I don't care if they're just fooling around. While I'm on this bus, those boys are going to leave you alone."

And they did.

For many, many years I wondered exactly why they stopped. I know I had a bit of a reputation as a tough kid; I deliberately emphasized that reputation in every town we lived, since we moved about every three years and the new kids in school had to put up with a lot of crap if they seemed like easy marks. So I used to think they were just afraid of me, and that's why they stopped picking on my brother. But after watching last night's special, I think I finally discovered the reason. It's because I spoke up. I stated in a very loud voice for all the kids to hear that those boys were being mean to my brother, and that they shouldn't do that. I embarrassed them, perhaps. Maybe even shamed a few of them. They knew it was wrong to bully, especially by a group. But because no one had ever said anything to them, they kept on picking on whomever they wanted to abuse that day.

And so I'm going to say something that will probably piss off a lot of you out there, but here it is: Bystanders who say nothing when they see bullying going on must also bear a share of the guilt. And there are many of you out there who said nothing when other kids were bullied. I understand the reasons: You didn't want the bully to shift attention to you, and maybe start picking on you. I do get that. But then you have to understand that you also bear some of the blame of bullying. It isn't all on the bad kids' shoulders. It's also on the shoulders of the silent.

Would I have said something if it hadn't been my brother they were picking on? I don't know. I'd like to think so. I can tell you that they never picked on anyone else the two years I was riding that bus. And then we moved to a new town, and I don't recall bullying ever being an issue in the high school there.

But silence? That's still an issue today, according to what I saw last night. We need to teach our children better. If they can't speak out against the bullying, at least they can be taught to go to the nearest authority figure and speak to them. I'm surprised, with all the rules I see at James' grammar school, that this is even an issue today. You'd think we'd know better by now.



Ignorance is bliss

I really like the Web Trends stats machine. It's been furnishing me no end of amusement while it tries to compile figures on how many people are reading this website. We've already discussed WebTrends' Region Un-Specified determination. Well, I've just discovered they have an even funnier nation called "Region Not Known". This is from the people who can tell me I had a visitor from Plano, Texas (Hi, y'all!), but can't figure out where Caller X came from.

Come to think of it, another thing that's been annoying me about Web Trends is that I've registered some calls from the region they say is "Sub-Saharan Africa", but then I don't see a nation or city attributed to that. Look, they can figure out Qatar is in the Middle East (damn, that's going to attract those Carnivore terrorism spiders again), howcome they can't tell me if I have a visitor from Liberia or not? (Do you know, sometimes I think that to truly live is to be able to tweak someone's nose at least once a day. If you can't laugh at other people, who can you laugh at?)

What's even funnier is that Region Not Known is in the table entitled "Top Geographic Regions." That's not one they taught us in geography class. If they're teaching it now, that would explain why most high schoolers can't find their own state on the map when pressed to. Although if they live in one of those square states in the midwest, I can't blame them. It's pretty easy to find, say, Florida or New Jersey. YOU try to find Arizona on a map with all the names taken off.

Now, the logical among you might be thinking, "Hey--they have Region Un-Specified and Region Not Known--what the hell is the difference between them, and why don't they just combine them?" To the logical among you I must reply: I dunno. I'm betting that it seemed like a good idea at the time. So did paisley, but it's still wrong and hideous and pleasepleaseplease make it go away.

The stats came back

My web server was down most of Monday, and my web stats were down until sometime this afternoon. You have no idea what kind of horrible effect not being able to access information about my site has on this information junkie. But finally, I can see which pages seem to be the most in demand (archives from week-before-last, I can only assume that Googlewhacking is the culprit), where you're coming from (all over! Wow!) how many visitors I'm getting (climbing steadily, and I'm extremely happy about that), and the fact that the military is, indeed, keeping an eye on me. Probably more than one, as they no doubt know by now that I'm really sneaky, because when they least expect it I'm going to throw a joke in the middle of a sentence that they thought was going to be serious. And then, I've got 'em! Next thing you know, they'll all be growing their hair long and eating brie.

The title of this blog is a takeoff of "The Cat Came Back," a song I learned in summer camp when I was a child. I liked it a lot, except for the last verse, which was decidedly dystopic. Do any of you know the song? It was about someone trying to get rid of his cat by stronger and stronger means, and the cat always came back, even in the last verse:

The A bomb fell just the other day
The H bomb fell the very same way
China gone, Russia gone, and then the USA
The human race was finished without a chance to pray

The cat came back the very next day
The cat came back, thought he was a goner
The cat came back, he just couldn't stay away

After spending some time on Google searching for the exact lyrics, I discovered that there are many versions of the song, and that it apparently was performed both on ZOOM and The Muppet Show or Sesame Street (something with Muppets in it, anyway). So I'm guessing I'm not the only one who remembers it, although I may be the only one in Weblogland to have heard those particular last-verse lyrics. Well, me and several thousand other children who went to the YM-YWHA of Newark's summer camp somewhere in northwestern NJ. Near Washington Rock, is all I remember. I wonder if it's still there, and if kids are still urging their bus drivers to go faster than the other buses on the road so they can pull in first. Nah. That's probably actionable now. Things change.



After the fire

Matthew Thomas, the guy I spit flames at just a day ago, chimes in with a couple of points. There's a definite touche on my description (nice style, Matthew, using the other person's phrasing--I do that myself, often). Two, actually, where he hoists me on my other petard, the blog where I renounce emoticons and ASCII grins. (I am so not pointing to either of those blogs; scroll down the page, you lazy bastards.) He says I take him too seriously. That I forgot to contend with the NZ-AU rivalry. (Matthew, I read your bio, hence the arrogance of youth remark, and discovered you're a New Zealander. It did not say whether or not you get annoyed when called a Kiwi. I try to write the most up-to-date and informed flames as humanly possible; if I'm going to insult you, I'm going to do it right, dammit! Actually, I was thinking about that rivalry and was going to include a paragraph on it, but then I was already running pretty long, so I didn't follow up on it. Perhaps the next time you zing Jonathon I can use it.)

In all seriousness, I'm not quite sure why Matthew's blog hit such a hot spot with me. I know I was not in the kindest of moods to begin with the last couple of days, which is another way of saying I was, well, angry about things that have nothing to do with writing blogs and the online world. And although I stand by all of the points about writing what you want in your weblog, I do think I owe Mr. Thomas an apology. (That "I'll never use CSS" might just as well have been "Neener, neener, neener!")

Matthew--may I call you Matt? Matthew, then--I'm sorry I flamed you.

So let's consider it all behind us, and agree with Jonathon that we did coin a pretty neat new phrase about bloggers. Oh, screw the false modesty, I coined a great new phrase. Perhaps Jonathon can make "The Nattering Classes" a Blogsticker and pass it along.

In the beginning, there was Tig

TigType logoI found an old image from my first website the other day while searching around for a family picture. That site was a dummy site that I set up over a weekend in an attempt to get a job as a web developer (sans programming, just HTML) at Lucent. You like? It's a picture of my original Tig as a kitten--about five weeks old in the picture this grew into. Actually, what I really need to do is find the PSD file this came from. The folks at Lucent made me a present before I left. They combined the Cat Haiku (you can find it all over the Internet) with this picture and some pretty backgrounds, and made me a poster. I've got a small version of it on my fridge; the large version is in my bedroom. Some sample haiku:

You must scratch me there
Yes, above my tail! Behold,
elevator butt.

Wanna go outside.
Oh, shit! Help! I got outside!
Let me back inside!

The rule for today
Touch my tail, I shred your hand
New rule tomorrow

Someone had emailed me the Cat Haiku, but I had lost or deleted it. So I went to AltaVista (this was a long time ago) and searched for "elevator butt". I found over 100 pages with the cat haiku on them. It's still my favorite search story. How often do you get a chance to search for "elevator butt"? Alas, now that we've added some 3 billion web pages, "elevator butt" on Google brings back over 57,000 results. You have to add the word "cat" in order to get the cat haiku to come up first. (12,800 pages. My, the web has grown.)

Halfway through February, onward toward spring!

Winter has arrived at last here in New Jersey. We were hoping it would forget to come, but it's been kinda chilly the last few days. It's still nowhere near as cold as February usually gets--I'd call this December weather if I had to make a choice, with attempts toward November as it reaches the high forties.

And that, people is the only reference you will see to the 14th of February on this blog. I hate Hallmark-declared days. I will, however, be heading for those discount Hershey-et candy-filled canes on the 15th, as I love Hershey's version of M&M's, and you can't get them anywhere in north Jersey anymore. Bummer.



The nattering classes

My buddy Jonathon was given quite the talking-to by Matthew Thomas, someone I would never have heard of had Jonathon not mentioned his dressing-down on his weblog.

"Still, he's made a valid point. I might do well to stop nattering and get back to writing." Jonathon says.

Um, Jonathon--bud--must I really remind you that it's your weblog, and you have the right to write about what you want to? Mr.Thomas can fulminate about what you're doing all he wants, but in the end, if you want to write a 6,000-word essay on the virtue of nostril hairs, by God, it is your right to do so. His point is not the least bit valid. What were those words doing on your page? Writing themselves? Who the hell is he to say what's writing and what is "nattering"?

"Until now, though, unlike Jonathan, I hadn’t mentioned this process at all. Why? Because since even before CSS existed, one of my fundamental principles of Web authoring has been that the Web does not exist." quoth Mr. Thomas.

I presume the above means that the Web's workings should be transparent to the users. How nice for you to have fundamental principles. I have some, too. One of my fundamental principles of Web authoring is treating my readers like grownups. If my readers are bored by my telling them that the previous week's blogs have been archived, or mentioning that I've spent the afternoon doing site maintenance, they'll probably just skip right over that entry. Amazingly, readers have proven to be quite capable of deciding for themselves what they do and don't want to read. I tend not to go into long technical explanations, but that would be because they're unnecessary here. Jonathon and I write to different audiences. Another one of my fundamental principles is this: If a website annoys me, I stop reading it. I don't presume to tell the author what s/he should be writing.

Here's the beautiful line, the one that has all the arrogance of youth and righteous indignation thrown in: "Unless your site is specifically about Web technicalities, you shouldn’t bore your readers by discussing or exposing such technicalities."

Yes sir, Mr. Thomas, sir, we won't ever mention anything on our own websites that doesn't fit into what you think we should be writing about. Because, dammit, you're right. A personal weblog should keep to personal things! A technical site should stick to technical things! Jonathon Delacour should sit down right now and decide exactly what he wants his site to be, and stay on that topic for all time! And if he deviates even once, you should be there, ready to pounce on him for writing what he wants to write on his own website!

All right, perhaps I'm driving a point into the ground. But here's the thing, Jonathon, and Matthew, too: The absolute arrogance of someone having the unmitigated gall to tell the owner of a website that he should stop writing about topic A simply because he thinks it's wrong is enough to make me wish he were in the room with me so I could slap him upside the head.

And this is without even mentioning a fact that both Jonathon and I know: Many of his readers are also Radio 8 or other blogging tool users, and are waiting for the results of his CSS experiments, and therefore want to read more about his attempts.

I present Mr. Thomas' conclusion for your perusal: "Jonathan, style sheets are about separation of content from presentation. And part of doing that is not expending pages and pages of content talking about changes in your presentation. However, if your nattering leads several other Weblog authors to switch from presentational HTML to CSS, then … perhaps you can be excused."

Hm. And here all along I thought style sheets were ways of making the presentation of content easier and more standardized, partly for the readers by adding more functions to make the Web less like a computer screen and more like a printed page, with fonts and overlays and such. And they were also supposed to make things much easier for Web authors to change the appearance of content with a few simple keystrokes instead of laboriously editing dozens, if not hundreds, of pages.

Mr. Thomas and I probably agree about one thing. The vast majority of Web users don't give a damn about CSS, and don't even know what the acronym means (cascading style sheets--I knew it was driving you crazy). Most of my readers won't understand me if I tell them that my site is not validated HTML, XHTML, XML, or tableless CSS. Here's what they will understand: You can browse my pages with Netscape 3.0, or with the latest version of Mozilla, and you'll still be able to read the content.

Because that is what a website is all about: Content. Pretty sites can draw in new users, but only content will make them stay. CSS is a lot of fun to play with, but it won't write your blog for you. Unless you're Jonathon Delacour, trying to redesign your weblog so that people can read it more comfortably, and reporting on the ups and downs of the entire process because you think your readers will find it interesting.

And one last thing, Matthew. No, two last things. I won't be adopting CSS until people stop using non-CSS-capable browsers. And it's Jonathon. If my nattering leads to your learning how to spell his name correctly then ... perhaps you can be excused.

No more ASCII! No more ASCII!

From now on, I've decided to forgo emoticons and all ascii representations of grins, smiles, etc. I'm tired of using them. I've always hated them, and rarely used them in the past, but since joining the weblogging community have found myself going along with the crowd and going back to pointing out to people when I'm just kidding.

I won't be doing that any more. I've decided that you're all grown up enough to figure out sarcasm when you read it, and if you miss that it's sarcasm, well, I'll just take my chances on being flamed.

This will not be affecting at all, since I've never put an emoticon in a blog, nor have I used any phrase or sign to indicate that I am being sarcastic or (gasp!) not serious. And if I have, I was drunk while I did it, so I have a legitimate excuse.

So. To those of you who received any emoticons in email we exchanged up to February 12th, I say: No more! No more ASCII grins! No more bracketed g's! No more subtitles! You're just going to have to love me for who I am: The sarcastic pain in the ass who doesn't know when to stop.

Okay, maybe I do.

That's not all-righta

I wandered over to the Ore-Ida website earlier today to look up a few things. (An aside: You know, that picture on the home page of the little kid holding up a ketchup-covered french fry? Is it my imagination, or does it look like she's about to stick it up her nose? And what is with that necklace and hat? What, this is the Mini-Minnie Pearl?) I found some pretty hideous recipes over there. (Santa Fe Potato Pancakes? Tater Tots Romanoff? Turkey-Bean Tater Tot Casserole? All together now: Ew.)

Heinz (Ore-Ida's owners) are the folks that gave us green and blue ketchup, and will be giving us chocolate-flavored french fries (ew!). I have to say it again: Ewewewewew.

I take great delight in the fried potato in its many shapes and kinds, but the pure fried potato, none of this extra junk added. Except for salt and pepper and onions, that is. In fact, I was reflecting on a major question today: Why do fried foods taste so good? And it's corollary: Why are they so bad for you? My answer: Don't care. French fries. Yum. Had them with dinner tonight, in fact. Made 'em from scratch. I make home-made potato chips. (And damn, they're good.) Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of chocolate-flavored french fries. I think any parent who buys them for their child should be charged with abuse and have those children removed from that home.



Spinsanity pays off

The folks over at Spinsanity have been working tirelessly (and salary-lessly) for months, unspinning the jargon and bullshit coming out of the mouths of pols. Now they're spinning for Congratulations, gents. A great big mazel tov from!

Hm. A quick look at that paragraph makes me think I have a future as a blurb writer. Ya think?


When the weather outside turns windy, it's something that just gets dealt with, and after a few "Wow, it's windy out!" comments, ceases to be the topic of conversation or even at the forefront of your mind.

But on a day like today, when it's perfectly normal, albeit cloudy, and then suddenly, from out of nowhere, a wind gust of like 40 mph hits, it, well, startles you. Especially when it sounds (again!) like your upstairs neighbor's barbecue grill is going to come crashing down on your balcony.

And so I would like to know: To whom do I complain?

Work, work, work

I've been a very busy beaver today, and when one ponders the expression "busy beaver", one wonders--what moron made that one up? And if one has a dirty mind, one wonders--never mind. Actually, I think my burst of energy is a result of being unable to have visitors to my blog yesterday, so I'm trying to get you all to come back six or seven times today. (And I know you all missed me, because my email box is just filling up today, sweeties!)

I've changed my links page, which is renamed "Portal" on the left menu but which will remain links.html because, well, broken links, dontchaknow, and maybe a spot of laziness. Dang. I'm starting to use Australian slang and Britishisms now, I have simply got to stop hanging out with those furriners.

Anyway, I added a bunch of blogs to my portal page, partly because I'm tired of trying to remember their URLs and now I can just go to my own links page and jump from there. Also because I figured, hey, we should be blog portals for our pals and others, so if I've forgotten you, email me (use that left menu link, you lazy thing!) and let me know. My rule of thumb was if I linked to it in a blog, it got on my list.

Have I mentioned yet today how absolutely glad I am to have my blog back?

Phun with phone spam

Cyber Kat's got a nice essay about spam, and a great story about dealing with telemarketing scams. It made me think of the various ways I've developed over the years to deal with telemarketers. I have Caller ID now, and rarely talk with them, but in the days that I did, I figured out some good systems--all of which are polite, none of which would blow out the telemarketer's eardrums (a loud whistle really is not the answer).

I inadvertently discovered the best trick to get a telemarketer off the phone. I was unemployed and dead broke years ago, and whenever a telemarketer called to ask me to buy something, I'd say, "I'm sorry, but I can't afford a thing right now. I got laid off X months ago and still haven't found a job." Most of the people on the other end of the phone were extremely sympathetic and supportive. They told me to hang in there, they gave me pep talks, one told me she'd been in just such a position months ago and was now working at a good job, and she just knew I would be soon, too. The worst reaction was a polite thank-you-and-goodbye, but not one of them tried to sell me after they heard I was broke.

Since I moved into this apartment more than two years ago, I've gotten telemarketing calls for myself and for the people who had my phone number before me. So I've said, "This isn't the Druckers' phone number anymore" about a thousand times, which made me realize something--why can't I use it for myself? So I started saying that for telemarketing calls for me. And what I discovered is that nothing gets you on a Do Not Call list faster than saying, "She doesn't have this number anymore." Try it yourself. It worked for me.

Getting the Druckers' phone calls also showed me the supreme stupidity of the average person, many of whom would ask me, "Do you know their new number?" Yeah, I was best friends with them because the phone company gave me their old phone number. Idiots.

The overly-aggressive telemarketers really piss me off, but I've found a way to deal with them, too. The favorite telemarketing offer is the "opt-out" offer. Try it free for 30 days, if you don't like it, call and cancel at the end of those 30 days. I fell for that once, years ago, and got hosed--expensively--for a month's service that I never used. I will never, ever fall for that again. So when they call to tell me about my "free" service, I ask them, "Is it an opt-out?" They try to pretend they don't know what it means, so I spell it out. "I got snagged by an opt-out service once and will never again sign up for any program that I have to opt out of in order to stop payment. Is it an opt-out?" That usually gets a "Thank you for your time" and a goodbye.

There's a new service from the phone company that completely blocks all telemarketing calls. That's the best phone spam block I can think of, but right now, I'm on a low budget so I won't pay the six bucks a month. Especially since if the phone company would simply not allow unidentifiable phone calls to come through, you wouldn't need to pay for the service. Oops, did I say that out loud? Collusion? No! Not here in America, the home of Enron and land of Ken Lay!

New Cattales

Editorial humor

How many copy editors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
I can't tell whether you mean "change a light bulb" or "have sex in a light bulb." Can we remove the ambiguity?

Eric Grevstad sent me this joke, which I had never heard before. I passed it along to a friend of mine whom I knew would appreciate it, and she told me she knew of it and thinks it's part of something that an editor we both knew put up on GEnie years ago. Well, here's the thing. I find this joke to be extremely amusing. And I'm waiting for my friend to send me the origin, as it's the same question as viewed by the author, the editor, the copy editor, the fact checker, etc.

And if you ever see the paraphrase "All typos diminish me," that was mine, which I put on the GEnie copy editing thread years ago, and let me tell you, it slayed 'em in the offices! The great Barbara snorted coffee!

Now, if you're sitting there thinking, "What an editorial geek!" here's my question for you: How many programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?


Hits? What hits?

I've added another page to the Greatest Hits section. This is not a blatant move to get more hits and page reads, and has nothing to do with the fact that was down most of yesterday and got fewer hits than Sadie Hawkins on a good day.

("Sadie who?" all the twenty-somethings are saying right now. Use the Google, my friends. The Google is with you.)

As I was saying, I added the second page because, well, all the other ones were too old. Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket. They were as old as November of last year! Talk about yesterday's news!

If I wanted a blatant move to get more hits, I'd point out to Dave Winer that I, and not Cam, was the pebble that started the avalanche that caused Jonathon Delacour to make his site readable to people with lousy eyesight.

Oh, wait, I did do that.

Well, then. I guess that was a blatant move to get more hits.



Yeah, yeah, I know.

The server was down most of the day. You know what this means, don't you? All of you are going to have to call in twice tomorrow to make up for what you missed. I'm a stats junkie.

Come to think of it, please let me know if anything's hinky about the site. I understand they had to do a complete backup and recovery on my server, so there may be some files off.

Not my soapbox

When I was twenty-one years old, I worked night shift at the Elizabeth Post Office as a mail sorter. One of my co-workers was about ten or fifteen years my senior. I liked her a lot, and we spent a fair amount of time together when the job allowed. One night, the topic in the Post Office was a very public wife abuse case that was all over the New York tabloids. I remember being unable to understand one thing, and saying this, quite loudly and full of the righteous indignation and supreme arrogance of youth: "Why didn't she just leave?"

My older coworker said quietly, "Maybe she couldn't." I insisted that had I been in that situation, I would have just left the man. My friend said that perhaps the woman had young children. Perhaps she had nowhere to go. Perhaps she had no job, no money, no car, no family, no options. It finally struck me that she was talking about herself and her own past. I didn't know exactly what to say, but blathered something about not meaning her, and thinking all the while that she still could have just left.

I remembered this story after reading an article over at Soapboxgirls about women in the sex trade. My first reaction was one of unbridled fury, intending to write a rant that would curl the author's hair enough that she'd never need to pay for a perm again. But then I started thinking. The above story somehow came to the front of my memory, when I hadn't thought about it for many years. And so I thought perhaps I wouldn't flame that twentysomething girl, after all.

Okay, so the article is a bit naive. So the author needs to do more than read a book or two before writing a treatise on how women like being prostitutes. But she'll learn. And she'll learn a lot better without someone trying to force knowledge down her throat. permalink



Short stuff

I broke a soup bowl yesterday. It's part of my good China set, the one I bought two years ago when I moved back to Montclair. The pattern has been discontinued, which will make it very difficult to replace. So it occurred to me this evening that if I have dinner for eight, I can't serve soup. But then, I almost never serve soup, I realized. But then, I countered (washing dishes my mind really does wander a lot), you'll probably want to serve salad, and then you'll only have seven salad bowls. Well then, I decided, as hostess, I would go without.

Of course, then I realized the probability of my serving dinner for eight is somewhere between slim and none.

Today, I am going to be the Anti. I have not watched the Olympics; I do not care about the Olympics. TV Guide doesn't seem to care about the Olympics, because on the cover I saw today in the store, Michelle Kwan was not twirling and spinning on the ice. She was wearing a bare-midriff blouse and standing with legs akimbo, looking very much the teenaged--Britney.

You thought I was going to say "slut", didn't you?

Sex sells.

I have not gone to the website moving quickly up the Daypop Top 40 that lets you upload pictures of yourself flipping the bird. In fact, I've decided I will no longer link to the Daypop Top 40 top links, at least until I change my mind again.

Instead, I leave you with this: Those of you who are hurrying to photograph yourselves flipping the world the bird, don't you remember what happened when you were a child and ate too much candy? Am I the only one who remembers the childhood lesson that too much of anything is not good?

Apparently so.

A lot of people are throwing the word "patriotism" around lately, some like it's a dirty word. Excuse me, folks, but there's nothing wrong with patriotism: Love of country. Am I the only one who had to take history in high school? Jingoism is the word you're looking for: "patriotic boasts, favoring aggressive, threatening, warlike foreign policies".

Oliver North is mad at Robert Altman, who has criticized our current government policies. North says Altman is a traitor because he's criticizing America. Altman served in Vietnam, and to my knowledge has broken no laws of the land. His film, M*A*S*H, is set during the Korean war but is widely considered to be a commentary on the war in Vietnam.

North served in no war and broke the laws of this nation (see Iran-Contra scandal), and then said it was okay to shred evidence and subvert the Congress' will because the President would have wanted him to, and he did it all to protect Democracy, anyway, and we should just shut up and let him continue to protect the country by shredding the Constitution.

Which is the patriot? Which is the jingoist? You decide. permalink

Eric Grevstad has just elevated himself about a thousand notches in my eyes for this wonderul bit about Al Gore and the results of the last election. About the only thing missing is the point I make every time someone else whines to me about how Dubya stole the election: Gore didn't carry his own home state of Tennessee. Had he done so, Florida's votes would not have mattered. Ralph Nader's votes would not have mattered.

Regardless of all the rest of the issues, if Al had paid attention to his own backyard, he'd be president today.

I just visited a bunch of different blogs. Far left blogs. Far right blogs. Libertarian blogs. And I've come to the conclusion that whether an opinion is screaming from the left, or screaming from the right, or screaming from the purported individual, it is screaming, nonetheless--and I want none of it. Like the Buddhist philosophers, I think I shall seek the Middle Way.

Or, more likely, the Meryl Way. permalink

New Cattales

I'm betting only cat-lovers will like these entries, and I'm sure John Dvorak won't. (I'm not linking to his blog piece again.) Don't say I didn't warn you.

Last week's blogs are archived.