Monthly Archives: July 2008

QOTD

From a post over at Ezra Klein’s joint:

The media hates crusaders. They’re constantly on the lookout to point out their hypocrisy or corruption or preening arrogance. I’ve always assumed this stems from a deep-seated discomfort about having chosen a life of observation over one of action, but whatever the reason, they’re far less offended by power that seeks to further its own interests than power that betrays its class and argues for social change.”

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Turning The Tide

We made our own laundry soap.  It has 20 mules in it.  Tea tree oil.  It works great.  Cost per load: .01

We’ve already stopped using many common household cleaners, as vinegar, baking soda and warm water seems to clean damn near everything.  If I can get my small engines around here to run on tap water….

EDITED TO ADD THIS FOR MY JEALOUS READERS:  Teh recipe for Coyote Creek Homemade Laundry Goop.

Water, borax, washing soda, Ivory soap.  Mix well.  (Just kidding)

Get a large bucket, set it aside.

Now, grate an entire bar of Ivory soap (or 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha) and place in saucepan.  Add 5-6 cups of water, heat until the soap melts.  Dissolve 1 cup washing soda (available from kroger) and 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax (you can use 10 mule team, but your clothes will only get half as clean) into your soap/water mixture.  Remove from heat.

Go get your large bucket (2-5 gallon) and put in about a half gallon of water, add your goopy mixture and stir.  Add 1 3/4 gallon of water and stir again.

Go do something for around 24 hours, let it gel.  (it doesn’t really “gel” uniformly), it kinda looks gross, and doesn’t produce suds when you wash in it, but let not your heart be troubled, it WILL clean your clothes, and there are no phosphates from this.  We added tea tree oil for scent but you can use almost any essential or non-essential oil.  Those of you that enjoy musicals and home decor may add lavender. (about 1 oz)

It works great, saves money, and cuts back on plastic containers.  This appeals to me.  I’ll be along to sniff y’all in short order.  Be ready.

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Dinosaurs

I’ll admit to being way behind the technology curve.  I don’t Tweet, I rarely if ever text, and I don’t use my cell phone to buy stock, adjust the thermostat in my home, or help me locate the nearest half-caf double chocolate latte with sprinkles.  If it ain’t wysiwyg, (check me on the spelling) chances are I cannot do it.  HTML might as well be Greek.  This, probably, has me slated for extinction.  Perhaps rightly so.

But I have to say, in my defense, that I am not a CEO, or a Mayor, or, like this man, a Director of a large Police Dept.  If I was, and still only possessed the I.T. skills of a 6 yr old, I would have at least run it by Supermousey before filing suit against a blog critical of my Department. She would have told me that by doing so, I have now elevated an obscure, poorly written, and largely irrelevant web site to National Martyr status.  Bloggers, lawyers, and journalists will swarm all over this story, and, instead of 30 people a day reading the site, there could be 3000 or more.

I have no opinion on Memphis politics, except to say that I have brushed up against it and it left an ugly stain.  The site could be politically motivated, or just a place for disgruntled city employees to vent.  Doesn’t matter, if they haven’t broken the law by intentionally posting something false with the intent to cause harm.  (my take on libel and slander laws, your mileage may vary).

I’ll be watching this story develop, and so will hundreds of other people, who, save for the egg-headed decision to attempt to force AOL to release the identity behind an email address, would have no clue that  blog existed.

It kinda tickles me that I know more than the head of a large para-military group.  Can I be in charge of something now?

Edited to add- A disturbing new trend?

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Outrage Fatigue

People with Liberal philosophies, like myself, are being adressed by a couple of local bloggers this week.  Christian Grantham over at NiT is calling us out over our perceived silence about the abuses of eminent domain.  Ms. Ginger, while not necessarily targeting Liberals, is wondering how so many people of Faith feel removed from what is happening to our immigrant neighbors.  I thought S-Town Mike did a great job of explaining why some of us choose to focus on human rights issues as opposed to property rights issues.

But even S-Town Mike has, in the past, wondered aloud about why certain Progressive bloggers don’t engage on hyper-local issues, like zoning.  I cannot tell you how many times I sat down to my own keyboard, full of righteous indignation, intending to take everyone to task for not being as outraged as I am over one issue or another.  Iraq.  Peak Oil.  Global warming.  Sweatshops and child labor.  Immigration.  FISA.  Voter fraud.  Graft and corruption both in the private and public sector.  The list is endless.

I’m reminded how I felt immediately after Columbine.  Terrified first, then furious, then, finally, heartsick.  By the time a lone gunman shot and killed dozens at Virginia Tech, I was numb, but not at all indifferent.  There were several mass shootings between those two incidents, and each one acted a bit like a shot of novacaine to my heart, until all I could do was utter “tsk- tsk” and go on about my day.  Clearly, we have evolved in a way that our minds find a way to process information without the need of filtering that information through our souls first, or, maybe ever.

I am constantly disappointed in human behavior, including my own.  It is perhaps the greatest challenge I face….to find perfection in everything that happens.  I’m easily spun.  Pull my coat to something seemingly outrageous and I will work myself into a frenzy in short order.  Man, I do bow-up, and right fast.  I’ll grab my shield and sword and charge, screaming at the top of my lungs…only to be crushed when I glance behind me to see that only a handful of others have joined the fray.  What to do, then?  Should I continue to plunge headlong into a hopelessly lop-sided battle, and hope, by my example, that others will take up the fight?  Thats probably what I think I do, when, truthfully, I start to look for any justification to blame others for not being where I am,  in their own heads.

I used to get pretty hot when I’d read important posts, about serious problems, and find that after someone took the time and effort to write about it, there would only be a handful of comments.  But let someone shove a beam into their boobs and post about it…and there would be 99 comments in the first hour.  (not picking on you, B, just an example, and more often than not, you are the one writing the serious, important posts)  Again, perhaps its just the way humans have of dealing with a world chock full of outrage.

I know of no answers, except for myself.  Maybe thats the best any of us can do….reconcile ourselves with the events of the world and react in a way that allows us to improve ourselves…or not.  I know that I am taking more time to just sit quietly, and breathe, and listen, and not judge.  I manage about a minute a day.  I’m shooting for much more, mind you, but its a start, right?

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Tip Of The Iceberg

It warms my heart to see so many bloggers and news organizations covering the Juana Villegas story.  There is widespread outrage, and rightly so.  Aunt B makes the point that this incident was not some anomaly, but, rather, the likely and intended result of the 287(g) program’s implementation.  The agreement between Sheriff Hall’s office and ICE, coupled with the decision to deny driver’s licenses to the undocumented, ushered in the war of attrition against “scary brown people.”

Yes, without meaningful civilian oversight, huge numbers of people will be de-humanized and suffer so we can catch the next Gustavo Reyes.  Never mind the fact that as a multiple drunk driver, he should have been in jail long before he caused that tragic accident.  I have long maintained that the Reyes case was a failure of our local court system, not our immigration system.  I have stated publicly that for every potential Gustavo Reyes the program catches, it will chew through dozens if not hundreds of families whose sole “crime” is commuting to work, church, or school.

I remember interviewing Chief Serpas about the program long before it was implemented, because I knew full well that any discretion would have to be exercised by line officers on the street.  Serpas is said to fond of stats, and he indeed assured me that systems were in place to identify any rogue officers that might, say, unfairly target a particular segment of Nashville’s population.  However, he was steadfast in his assertion that MPD has no choice but to enforce the drivers license laws, and let the chips fall where they may. I bring up the interview with Chief Serpas for another reason, though, which I will explain below.

First, indulge me while I state the obvious.  Cops are people.  As such, they bring their own personal biases and prejudices with them on patrol.  The good ones see themselves as part of the community, and hold themselves to a high standard of professionalism.  There are others, though, that see themselves at war with the community, or at least parts of it.  No doubt, the day to day interaction with people at their worst takes a toll on the most balanced and prepared officers.  The bunker mentality quickly settles in, and soon, many officers find themselves unable to bond with anyone except another officer.

There are merchants who love to exploit that rift between police officers and the general public.  They take out ads in police trade magazines, hawking their gear by making the world seem all the more unsafe for the officer caught without the latest baton, taser, firearm, night vision googles, or handcuffs.  It is, I assume, a booming business.

So, I’m sitting in the lobby of Chief Serpas’s office, and I find myself flipping through one of these trade magazines while I wait.  I was floored by what I saw.  Article after article in which the undocumented are vilified and reduced to dangerous criminals.  Tasteless cartoons depicting these people as part of the Brown Horde, intent on invading YOUR community, officer, so “what will you do about it? “

With luck, we will soon see many of our soldiers returning from duty in Iraq.  Many of them will turn to law enforcement as a natural career choice.  To be sure, their knowledge of tactics, training,  and weaponry, along with the discipline a stint in the Armed Services instills, will make them attractive candidates for PDs all across the nation.  Unfortunately, some of them will bring a bunker mentality home with them, and on to their civilian jobs.  This is where civilian oversight is key…and sadly, missing from most cities and towns.

I am fearful that an anti-immigrant mindset will spread throughout our police departments and jails.  Truthfully, I fear it already has.  Clearly, the decision to shackle a woman during child delivery was rooted in loathing, or, perhaps worse, indifference to what happens “to one of them.”

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A Model For Incremental Irrelevance

I must have really pissed off my friend Ginger when I dissed both her car and Ronald Reagan in the same week.  If she wasn’t hell bent on retribution, why else would she send me a “shared item” featuring yet another painful, pitiful post by Egalia from TGW? See, I took TGW off my reader to spare myself the misery of watching an old friend experience a complete meltdown.

Actually, I don’t really disagree with her on the substance of her post; that the use of beautiful women to hawk merchandise is exploitive and potentially harmful to women.  That said, the post did include a leap of logic of Hobbsian proportions, “used cars, used women, get it?”

Whether or not the ad was over the top is debatable.  But heres the thing, even if it was blatantly, purposefully,  and intentionally harmful, she muted herself with this throw away line:

“probably an Obamanian.”

That has TGW moving from shrill to tragically stupid.  I’m beginning to wonder if Egalia did an apprenticeship with PETA.  You do not serve your cause with cheap shots or offensive stunts.  I’ll admit to enjoying watching irrelevance creep up on Ann Coulter, but I get no joy from this.

Your horse lost.  Every Primary produces a winner and a loser.  Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and remember which team you play for, ok?

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Oh My God

I actually paused my vacation (happily, since the first leg is a stop in Georgia to can vegetables in 100 degree heat) to respond to the stupidest post I think I have ever read.  Ever.

The author over at Voluntarily Conservative feels “sorry” for those of us inspired by Barack Obama.  He says he had a real hero, and links to a you tube of one of the biggest crooks in history, Ronny Reagan.

I have long been amazed at how many people were fooled by Mr. Reagan.  Sweet Mother of God, plop an actor on a horse, and the masses swoon.  History will not be kind to him, (except history written by starry eyed conservatives) and while I’ll admit we don’t know for sure what Obama will do as President, I like our odds.

If a conservative wanders by here in the near future, please explain to me what is so inauthentic about Mr. Obama.  You cannot use campaign rhetoric to back up your claim, because there isn’t a politician alive that could pass that test.

Now, back to canning and cleaning gutters.  Beats reading that screed.

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Couldn’t Be More Ready

Man.  I had some surreal conversations over the weekend. I’m so ready for a vacation I’d happily spend a week in an Alabama Days Inn just to get away…but I had to get this out before I leave. (thanks by the way, to those of you that offered to house sit while I’m gone)

I actually had it explained to me that Barack Obama’s candidacy is boosted by the fact that he is African American.  I wanted to make sure I wasn’t suffering from the effects of too much Kool Aid, so I talked to some savvy political friends…and to a man, (or woman) each has agreed that if Mr. Obama had the same positions, same height, same voice, same fiery rhetoric but was blond over blue, he’d be ahead by 20 points.  (oh, and, uh, same amount of money)

I’ve also read some stuff in my reader that has me scratching my head.  A couple of prolific bloggers are lamenting Obama’s “shift” to the center.  Really?  This caught you guys by surprise?  “But, hes supposed to be a different kind of politician!”  they cry.  No, hes supposed to be a different kind of leader.  Unfortunately, you had better be a first class politician if you seek the White House.  Barack Obama thrived in one of the nastiest political environments known to man…Chicago.  Did some of my fellow Democrats think McCain and the RNC were simply going to slink away and hide? Don’t act shocked or dismayed when Obama morphs from Liberal Savior to Safe Centrist and back again, and try to bear in mind that in any political career (with the exception of maybe Tom Delay’s) there must be an effort to find common ground, and build unity from there.

From now through November…everything is political.  Every Appearance.  Every Speech. Every photo op.  Every vote that comes before the Senate.  There will be compromises, there will be disappointments. He explained his FISA vote, go read it if you have questions.  My favorite line?  “If my vote on this is a deal-breaker, thats ok.” (slightly paraphrased)

Reaching out to Faith-based communities is smart politics, since roughly 150% of population considers themselves religious.    I’m not..but he already has my vote.  I’d like him to win over enough people of all persuasions to, you know…win.

I knew Obama was a skilled politician from the jump.  I happen to think he will become a skilled Statesman on the world stage.  Just like I think Hillary would have been, had she won.  But, you know, its been year after year of snappy slogans, clever catch-phrases and black/white up/down kind of rhetoric coming at us from the GOP.  The world, though,  is a little more nuanced.  A variation on a formerly expressed position could be pandering, triangulation, finger-in-the-air flip floppyness, OR……a reconsideration after careful thought.  Or, a shift in perspective due to new information. But, you, as a voter, should decide that, not the endless stream of vapid talking heads emanating from your radio or television. (Or computer screen, for that matter.)  ;)

When you get behind a candidate, you make up your mind what kind of person he/she is, and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Until you don’t.  Then you can go vote Libertarian….

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Already?

The Primary Wife and I shared a good laugh this morning.  See, its our 15th anniversary, and again, neither of us remembered in time to prepare anything.  Every year, it seems, one or the other remembers the day of, or the day after, and I can’t remember a time when that made either of us mad.

Part of the reason may be that it falls the day before the 4th of July.  Usually, we are on, or planning a vacation, and there are always activities around that date.  Neither of us uses those handy online calendars with any consistency, and, frankly, at our age, dates and times get lost with increasing frequency.  We are happy if we remember where we put the remote.

In honor of our anniversary, we have planned quite an exciting celebration.  She will be picking bugs off of her tomato plants, and I will spend a good part of the day cleaning the garage and barn.  But I’ve decided that I can’t just let number 15 pass without at least a quick public declaration of my feelings for her after a decade and a half together.  So:

Hey sweetie.  Like most couples, lost amidst grocery shopping, loads of laundry, dental appointments and of course, work, is the time we used to find to just “be together.”  I remember we could just jump in the pick-up and head out West on a whim…radio blaring, The Neurotic Pomeranian perched in a plastic laundry basket between us, and most of our possessions stuffed into backpacks or hand me down suitcases.  I-40 is long and hot and boring, but even that horrid stretch between Memphis and Amarillo seemed fun and exciting because you were there with me.

I remember stuffing the dog into a paper sack to sneak her into that hotel in New Orleans…only to have her paw burst through right in the middle of the lobby…I remember how sick you were after a night on Beale St, yet, you never complained that we logged over 600 miles that day.  So many great road memories…so many experiences in so many different towns.  Thanks for every one of these.

I’m sure most people would find our relationship odd, nowhere near mainstream, but really, haven’t we seen so many of our friends and acquaintence’s “normal” relationships deteriorate into needless drama and unrealistic expectations?  Perhaps because we had both been married before, and were quite a bit older when we met, but much of this has seemed effortless, like we just knew what to expect from each other.

As you know, I’m not much on public declarations, but I don’t care who knows this-You are more beautiful to me now than you have ever been.  You frequently lament the fact that age and childbearing has altered your shape or your hair color or your skin tone…and I always laugh a little to myself when you do…because I swear to God I’ve never noticed.  What I do notice, and what makes me happy inside, is when you put on certain pieces of jewelry you’ve collected through the years, because that reminds me of our many adventures.  I also still swell with pride if something I have written touches you, or when I ask you if I should embark on a new project, and you are unconditionally supportive.

I don’t think I have ever known a woman with a purer heart.  From the moment I met you, I was drawn to those things that make up your core…undescribable for the most part, but damn real and effortlessly so.  I’ve learned to appreciate so many things about life that I used to overlook.  Perhaps most importantly, I have long respected your courage.

I could write about your virtues all day, but I know there isn’t any need to do so…”comfortable in their own skin” is the perfect descriptive phrase for you.  I have been comfortable around your skin for quite some time, and I just keep getting more comfy everyday.

Thank you for hanging out with me, and for raising these beautiful children in these uncertain times, and for learning to live with my flaws without the need to point them out.

Whaddya say we hire a sitter, and hit the road for a coupla weeks?

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I Wish I Had The Money To Air This

ht:J.Lamb

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