Thursday, September 06, 2007

As Beautiful, As Soothing, As Kind, As Fleeting.

For a large part of my growing up, I dreamed of being an opera singer. I sang all the time, listened voraciously to classical music, watched what opera I could catch on Public Television, and tried composing my own music for the keyboard. I've tended to, recently, keep my love of the Opera under wraps...afterall, I've long since come to the realization that one does not become an opera singer without training since a wee age and afterall, I do not like all opera. The difference in quality between one opera singer and another can be so profound that to me their work sounds, at best, like two wholy different genres. But to listen to those who truly love what they do and who are not masters of the music but synonymous with it...The transformative quality of Pavarotti, Caruso, and Jose van Dam's voices have been called ethereal. However, I appreciate them more for their ability to ground make me feel at peace with the earth. On a warm autumn day, I like to come back from the library, clean from top to bottom (okay, mostly just the bottom), fling open the windows so my mix and match lace white curtains billow in the breeze, put on a recording of Nessun Dorma and sit out on the front steps with a book. While we still have his recordings...I'll miss Pavarotti's presence in this shared universe of ours. He was an amazingly beautiful person, transforming the world (and not just the privileged) with his golden voice.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why Bush should be the new Miss South Carolina

I'm going to assume everyone has seen Miss Teen South Carolina attempt to answer a question about why Americans can't find their own country on a map. She gave a really really really excellent answer in my opinion. They always say to teachers, "show, don't tell." Well, she was just demonstrating to the audience how Americans think or...don't think. Americans, she informed us, are just dumb.

Anyway, here is why I think Bush should be crowned the new Miss South Carolina...

That's right. He's got just the right amount of intelligence for the job. But how does he look in a swimsuit? *shudder*

On Senator Craig

I just wanted to put out there what the media isn't bothering to say: It doesn't matter whether he is gay or not. While the nightly news, newspapers, the Senator himself, and others are sounding more homophobic than ever in pursuing the question of whether he is or not, I don't give a hoot. It is completely irrelevant to whether he was propositioning people in a public bathroom or participating in any other lewd behavior in the same location. Being gay is not a federal offense, nor is it lewd and had he done the same thing in a women's bathroom to a female officer then we would not be discussing his heterosexuality, as if this was the problem.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Adult ADHD

If you like me, have ADHD then you'll appreciate how much harder it is to get information about this than getting information about childhood ADHD. There is a great deal more information now than ever before, books and such, but it was nice nevertheless to find this dated video on the subject.

Posted Feb 19, 2007

ADHD in adults and other important information

Saturday, August 18, 2007

FedEx Sucks

This is just the second time that I've ordered something that was supposed to come via FedEx. The first time, I changed the address I wanted it delivered too shortly after placing the order and while the computer said that they had this information and it would be delivered by the end of the week to that location, the driver instead tried delivering it to the old address and then took two more days to figure out what the correct address was...the address I had given them a week before and which they had in their computers.

This second time, I was impressed that they deliver on Saturday since UPS doesn't and was happily awaiting my package at home. About 2pm and still no package so I decide to track it online. It says it was delivered to my front door not 15 minutes before (signature service not requested)! Now, there are several people here and none of us saw FedEx even drive by. I check the front door, no package. I consider asking the neighbors if they got it but going out and taking a walk up and down the street I see no package at anyone else's front door. So, I call FedEx and tell the lady who says yeah the driver said he delivered it to your address. So My 200 dollar package is AWOL but like before they say they will tell my local FedEx facility (who I was told customers I not allowed to call themselves) and they will talk to the driver and eventually, days later I should get my package. FedEx sucks.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wise Words

I was watching the inspirational speaker, Dr. Wayne Dyer, tonight. A quote from him: "It makes just about as much sense to me to have a smoking section in a restaurant as it does to have a peeing section in a swimming pool."

And from someone he quoted: "Wisdom is knowing I am nothing. Love is knowing I am everything. And in between the two, my life moves."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Pinker the Better

That last video was Pink. So is this one. An artist who sees the world with open eyes...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dear Mr. President,

TwoCrows posted this on her blog and I love it so much that I'm posting it here.


I have something over 200 books in one small space...they always surround me but I like it that way. I've always dreamed of having a proper library or of living in a library, getting locked in a library, etc., etc. Anyway, these hundreds of books were more numerous in the past and I had to (painfully) pack some away because of allergies, etc. Books do unfortunately hold a great deal of dust and other allergens (incl. mold if there is enough humidity in the air) because they are made from organic material. Luckily, we live in a digital age and many of those books that I might have bought in a used bookstore, along with all the requisite nostalgia causing mustiness, I now own in electronic form. With a large enough screen and good backlighting, I have found reading text in electronic form to be quite rewarding. Recently, Sony came out with a nice reader just for this purpose. This may be a little reminiscent of those flat pads the crew used to read from on Star Trek: TNG but, even without being a fan of new technology, anything that allows me to carry around an entire library of books in my pocket is a winner with me. Note: I carry about 180 titles on my PDA and have had no difficulty reading from it, even in dimly lit environments.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I can't remember if I recommended it already or not but the Korean movie, Kim Ki-duk's film "Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring", is a very good (Buddhist) tale. I think of it often. Was thinking of it while listening to an episode of Chinesepod today about monks (the movie is about a monk and his son/disciple and so is the children's story in the ChinesePod episode). I also highly recommend Chinesepod (did this already on my other blog, Yinyangwriter, last year.

Taking a Writing Break...

...that is, a break to do some writing. So, I'm back to blogging here every now and then (rather than daily) and will focus my blogging energies on Yinyangwriter as a complement to the actual writing of the novel. At Yinyang, you can even track my progress on the novel with the wordmeter. Hopefully, I truly do have something to say and I'm not just wasting my time ...writer's anxiety, writer's anxiety. I don't care so much that this particular book is published/successful. I think I just need to get it out of my system so that I can finally write something more commercial. I've learned a lot about writing already that I didn't know when I started, so this is certainly a learning experience. As everyone says...the only way to become a writer is to write. I'm considering simultaneously outlining something commercial...I have some ideas when it comes to the structure (and the symbolism to use, etc.) but not the plot itself so much. Or rather I seem to be drawn to ideas that require fairly extensive research and I don't want to go down that path with the next book either. Researching rather than writing is sometimes just plain annoying.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Irrelevant Nonsense

I am so busy again...writing my novel and typing in another for revision and potential publication. Here's something amusing a fellow writer had on his blog. Apparently, I had the word "kill" on my blog 3 times too many and 1 "dead", thus the rating. Oooooooo...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Happy Harry Potter Day, Muggles, Witches, and Warlocks!

Word of Caution: I make some very controversial and somewhat uneducated guesses about what will happen in book 7 at the end of this post. I have not read, not to mention laid eyes on, a single copy of book 7.

Well, not sure what to call today but Harry Potter is apparently more important even than one's own birthday. "That's a minor event. Harry Potter is a major event, " Little One tells me. So, we're waiting for the package to arrive...maybe by apparition, maybe by that magical bus that they send for wizards and witches in need, and maybe by UPS...but I'm hoping that the story strand about eliminating slavery was not eliminated itself but was in fact further developed and is crucial to the plot in this final volume of the series. Hermione seemed to lose interest or steam or else was working completely behind the scenes in Book 6 whereas in Book 5 her campaign was in full throttle. I say Free the House Elves and all similarly employed adult and child muggles in sweatshops around the world now or risk finding that you are complicit in something more evil than he-who-must-not-be-named!

My Prophecy (aka silly guess as to what happens):
Snape saves Harry, in an unexpected and crucial moment coming in to save the day and clearly choosing good over evil...and then Snape himself is killed (perhaps he had to sacrifice himself to save Harry) and then we all go for Kleenex. And I would hypothesize also that Snape or Voldemort is Harry's real father but this has already been debunked by Lady Rowling so I won't go there. Afterall, it's a children's book aaaand that plotline is a bit played out already since Star Wars, etc. :-) Have fun reading everyone!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hook a Canuck: Courtesy of Michael Moore

I just saw Sicko (finally)! I want to leave this country so bad. Or let us all lead mass demonstrations in the street for healthcare. Else, what's the point? A lot of the time, it seems you tell Americans they are getting screwed and they nod and go back to work. Did everyone else already visit Here's the video from the website.

Ducttape Your Windows: An Atmosphere of Fear

Monday, July 16, 2007

Don't Judge a Woman by Her Cover?

Haha, this video made me laugh...and that's a good thing.

"We Think a Brother did This."

I believe it was 60 minutes that I was watching last night where they had a story on how crime often runs in families and were making the claim that this was a genetic connection between relatives. Unfortunately, this was just one more case where the writers/producers of a story failed to work through an argument logically. Their argument is that because the children of convicted criminals often become criminals themselves, the family carries some sort of criminal DNA. Of course since many of the people we have convicted and imprisoned are african-american, this was really the old story claiming that black people are genetically criminal. Wow, how we have progressed as a society! Not. But, what is wrong with this argument? Surely, I can't disagree that there is some connection, given the statistics...afterall, I'm a mathematician. It is not, however, the statistics that I am questioning. It's the logic of the argument, the conclusions they are drawing from that data. Given the same information, it is very easy to make a completely different and not unreasonable argument about why some criminals have "criminal families." First, consider who most convicted criminals are, where they come from. Never was white-collar crime discussed in the story. We weren't apparently talking about Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby. And most prisoners in our society do come from disadvantaged, low-income communities with terrible school systems (which I have taught in). If you live in Crenshaw, CA or Camden, NJ, drug use and violence are familiar parts of your life. Okay, so here is where the crime is coming from and it didn't require any nascent criminal tendencies. When people have very little to look forward to in their lives and few positive role models in their community, it's easy to get pulled in by the bad crowd. Just go talk to any group of teenagers if you doubt that.

But then, once imprisoned, surely we cannot expect their children to be attending ivy league schools and starting fortune 500 companies or otherwise being well on the way to completing their American dream? By looking at the children or even the siblings of convicted criminals, we are immediately narrowing our focus to those people who are also living in an environment that has demonstrated itself to be conducive to criminal behavior. If your father is in prison, then you are growing up in a single-parent household and thus your mother is working her butt off to support you all the time and therefore likely not around, as much as she might like, to keep you from giving in to the temptations of the neighborhood. It's a well documented fact of psychology that people often unconsciously copy the behavior of "lost" parents, no matter how abusive. These kids are disadvantaged and abandoned because their parents are in jail. What's to stop them from following in daddy or mommy's footsteps? I think the producers of that story are focusing entirely on nature and neglecting to look at how "nuture" or environment plays a role in the opportunities that people have in life. And the truth is, it's not always a 'bruther' that did it.

Furthermore, where was the positive side of this? Knowing that relatives are more likely to commit offenses, why don't we use this to enact preventative programs...why not focus all the more on educating those children of our most lost members of society. Believe me, the children aren't lost. They are not doomed by DNA. On the contrary, they need us more than anyone.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Seitan is Damn Good

I mentioned seitan in my last post and I wanted to explain what it is for anyone who isn't already familiar with this delicious and versatile food. Seitan is the same as wheat gluten and if you've had chinese food then you've probably eaten seitan before as it's often used in various savory dishes there. Seitan has a dense, chewy texture and has a long history as the perfect meat substitute. I have served it to meat-eating relatives many times and gotten the response, "I thought you were vegetarian?" It is so like meat that some vegetarians won't eat it because it bothers them. I think that's a little silly but that's just me. Seitan absorbs flavor in much the same way that meat does as well. Seitan roasts are deeeeelicious. It's also great for sandwiches and really basically any dish that traditionally includes meat. The easiest way to make the basic seitan is by making a "dough" from vital wheat gluten (you can get this in boxes or bulk at your local health food store) and a broth of Bragg's Amino Acids (tastes like soy sauce but is much healthier), ginger and garlic powder, and water. You knead this dough, let it rest a little, then simmer pieces in broth for up to an hour. Then you can eat it as is, fry it so the outside is crispy, bake it with sauce in the oven or use it in whatever other recipes you can find. And there are a multitude of wonderful recipes for Seitan online! For more specific instructions on how to make it, here's a recipe from the vegetarian resource group

Quick Homemade Gluten
(Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds or 2 to 2-1/2 cups)

This is the basic recipe for gluten.

2 cups gluten flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons lite tamari, Braggs liquid amino acids, or soy sauce
1-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (optional)

Add garlic powder and ginger to flour and stir. Mix liquids together and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix vigorously with a fork. When it forms a stiff dough knead it 10 to 15 times.

Let the dough rest 2 to 5 minutes, then knead it a few more times. Let it rest another 15 minutes before proceeding.

Cut gluten into 6 to 8 pieces and stretch into thin cutlets. Simmer in broth for 30 to 60 minutes.

4 cups water
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3-inch piece of kombu (a type of seaweed)
3-4 slices ginger (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring broth to a boil. Add cutlets one at a time. Reduce heat to barely simmer when saucepan is covered. Seitan may be used, refrigerated, or frozen at this point.

Total Calories per 4 oz. Serving: 77
Fat: 0 grams

...and for photos of what this delicious food looks like, take a look at the very cool blog, Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan. So, call me Seitan's little helper but I love to cook it and love to eat it too! :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Animal Products in my Wine?

I don't drink alcohol. It's a personal decision that could very well change since I have nothing against drinking in true moderation. However, "Western" culture pushes people to drink "socially" far too much in my opinion and I will only drink alcohol if it is something I personally want to do and if I come to that decision on my own, without pressures.

But we do use wine occasionally for cooking (the alcohol evaporates and leaves only flavor). When we have guests, or just get a hankering for a fancy meal, nothing does it quite like Mushroom and Seitan Bourguignon, Baked Yams with Ginger and Orange, Crown Bread, and Lemon-Garlic Broccoli. I never considered however that there might be animal products in our wine. And while I suppose we were okay since we bought organic wine which seems exempt from these worries, as a vegetarian (a compassionate person) I find the very idea revolting. Well, at (which I dislike, but that's another post), this article talks about just that, what animal products can be found in both wine and beer.

If I'm vegan, can I drink beer and wine?

...if you're a dedicated vegan and are choosing to rid your diet of animal foods, have you thought about what goes into the alcohol you drink? Many beers and wines are refined using a product called isinglass, which comes from fish, or may be filtered with bone char. While it may be easy to spot the worm in a bottle of tequila, determining which beers and wines are strictly vegan is another chore! In general, organic wines are usually vegan, and beers made in Germany, where there are strict laws regarding ingredients [being] vegan-friendly.
They also provide a link for this guide to vegetarian and vegan wines, beers and liquors.

Data on Nuclear Armaments

From HÉCTOR CORVALÁN, an English Professor from Buenos Aires, comes this data...
Countries with nuclear weapons:

Rusia: 1587 Megatons (nuclear power)
EE.UU: 1299 Mts
China: 273 Mts
Francia: 46,8 Mts
United Kingdom: 14,4 Mts
Israel: 1,6 Mts
Paquistan: 0,7 Mts
India: 0,6 Mts
North Korea: 0,01 Mts

The total (3000 Mts) is equivalent to 238.748 atomic bombs as the Hiroshima bomb.

Data: Newsweek Argentina (11-7-2007) ...thus the spelling. Note that, second on the list, EE.UU or los Estados Unidos is the United States.

So, while the "West" is complaining about Iran and North Korea, they have a buttload of nuclear arsenals themselves (far more than these other countries) and we have of course supplied Israel with its own supply of nuclear weapons to 'protect our interests' in the area.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Do You Know What's in Your Shampoo?

I feel like I've hit gold. The website, Skin Deep, just (re)started two months ago(less than) and it rates a gazillion household products based on the safety of the ingredients in them. From toothpaste to babywipes, from deodorant to sunscreen, they seem to have covered most everything. Someone has needed to do this kind of product testing for a long time. Finally here it is and, sadly but not surprisingly, coming not from our regulatory commissioners but from a nonprofit organization, The Enivironmental Working Group. The government is, afterall, clearly more than a little bit influenced by corporate lobbyists. I have pasted below the entire press release for Skin Deep.

*********Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics:*********
Skin Deep 3.0 Reveals Ingredients in 25,000 Products Site Gives Consumers Brand-by-Brand Safety Ratings for Quarter of all Personal Care Products on market

Washington, DC — Most people think that the ingredients in personal care and cosmetic products are safety tested before they are sold. But there is no such requirement in federal law.

To help consumers make informed decisions about their products, Environmental Working Group (EWG) is re-launching its popular Skin Deep website, the only online source for assessing and comparing the safety of personal care products. Skin Deep, first launched 3 years ago by the EWG, generates more than 1 million unique page visits a month. Skin Deep 3.0 is a dramatic upgrade of the database, both in the number of products assessed and the sophistication of EWG's safety reviews. This newest version evaluates the safety of nearly one-fourth of all personal care products on the market.

Skin Deep fills the information gaps left by an industry that markets thousands of products with ingredients that have not been assessed for safety by either industry or government health experts. By law, the government cannot mandate safety studies of cosmetics products or their ingredients, and only 13 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been reviewed for safety by the cosmetic industry's own review panel. For virtually every product on the market, safety decisions are made behind closed doors, guided by an industry-funded panel, without the benefit of peer-review or independent pre-market safety testing.

"Under federal law, companies can put virtually anything they wish into personal care products, and many of them do. Mercury, lead, and placenta extract — all of these and many other hazardous materials are in products that millions of Americans, including children, use every day," said Jane Houlihan, Vice President of Research at EWG. "Mothers shouldn't have to worry about what is in the baby lotion they use, and now they don't have to. The new Skin Deep database provides information on nearly 25,000 personal care products so people can find out for themselves which products are the best choices for them and their families."

EWG's scientists and programmers built Skin Deep to be a one-of-a-kind resource, coupling our in-house collection of cosmetics and personal care product ingredient listings with more than 50 integrated toxicity and regulatory databases — the largest public, product-safety database in existence.

Consumers can also use Skin Deep to create customized shopping lists — products free of fragrances or carcinogens, for instance — while manufacturers can construct one-of-a-kind safety assessments, rating all their product ingredients at once to aid in reformulation plans to make their products safer.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. The new database can be found at and is also located from EWG's home page at

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Two Matters

One, I want to say how honored I am at receiving a Thinking Blogger Award/Nomination from 2 Crows the magnificent. I will, of course, do my duty as an award holder and, now that I've looked up meme,...Pay It Forward to five other worthy bloggers. I already have at least one blogger in mind but need 4 more so I'll keep thinking about it. hehe

Two, Water is Heavenly. That's it. Just wanted to let everybody know. Peace.

The Movie

Okay, I won't give anything away but this latest Harry Potter movie is, by all reports, excellent. That's from a group of Harry Potterites who had nothing at all good to say about the last movie, #4. Both were PG-13 but there wasn't much to worry about in the latest...just a lot of great storytelling and compelling action. Of course, Harry was also involved in a little smooching. Next week, the book!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000

I just read this Washington Post article giving the numbers from Lancet on the civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion. Awful data...even more shocking, this article is from October. Since then, many more civilians have died.

Both this and the earlier study are the only ones to estimate mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. The technique, called "cluster sampling," is used to estimate mortality in famines and after natural disasters.

The government response?
"The Department of Defense always regrets the loss of any innocent life in Iraq or anywhere else," said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros. "The coalition takes enormous precautions to prevent civilian deaths and injuries."

They love to make up new words for things though..."Excess" death? Like gee, I shouldn't have eaten that one extra slice of really put me over the top...not gee, I just murdered 650,000 people. These are dead people, not slight "boo-boos".

Monday, July 09, 2007

Argh! Can I Light a Fire Under Some Democratic Butt?

I am not just disappointed in Pelosi...I am really disappointed in the Democratic party as a whole. As I see it, they have been really apathetic or otherwise completely inept at taking action where the republicans run around doing whatever they want and taking away our civil liberties one chip at a time. And this coming election...what the hell? Right now, they have at least one more viable candidates than all of those on the democrats side. There is just no way middle America is voting for Barack Hussein "Osama" (as the news media keeps accidentally calling him) or for a woman who many so called liberal voters themselves don't even like. Why do the republicans always find actors and other people who know how to play to a crowd and talk to people and the democrats put up wooden people like Kerry? Lets stop dreaming that everyone in the country is so freaking open-minded and will elect pretty-boy Edwards, B**** Hillary (their words, not mine), or Muslim B.Osama with the wrong color skin. Lets get our heads out of the sand and figure out whats really important. Do we really want to risk the republicans getting into office again and pushing us further back toward Jim Crow days? We have people locked up in prisons indefinitely without having charged them with any crime. We have to have permission from the Federal Government (aka a passport) before we are allowed to leave the country. People are being encouraged to turn each other in (remain vigilant) and discriminate based on ethnicity and religion ("I won't go on that plane with him!") How far do we have to go before we are in a police state? And how close is to close? Lets put on the brakes now, while we can. Be active and speak your mind. Talk to people about what is happening offline and online.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

My Dreams are Riddles, Riddled with Math

A question on YA: "There are 120 customers in a store, 80 purchased at least 1 item. If 4 people are randomly selected, what's the probability all will buy at least 1 item?"

My Answer: The probability of any one customer having purchased an item is 80 out of 120 or 2/3. So if we are looking at parts of a whole, that represent all the possible combinations of events that could have occurred, then the part of this whole, where the first of the 4 people purchased an item, is 2/3 of the whole. Then the probability of finding a second person from the remaining crowd that also bought at least one item is 79 (because we already found one) out of 119 (again, because we have one less person to choose from in the crowd). The probability for the third person is found in a similar would be 78/118 and 77/117 for the fourth person. We are each time finding an even smaller fraction of the whole that represents the final probability. If the probability for each was the same (independent events) then we could see that the area was decreasing exponentially (something I was never explicitly taught in school). To find the probability of all 4 people having bought at least 1 item, you need to find the product of the probabilities for each person. The answer then is 2/3 x 79/119 x 78/118 x 77/117 = approximately 19.25%.

It's Harry Potter Month!

That's right. Only...what...2 days till the movie and 12 days till the book? Yikes! A certain little one in my life has gotten me hooked. I'm taking her to the library tomorrow for the first day of a whole week of HP activities there. 25 dollars a child. Guess I ought to get my sleep now so I can rise in the morning. "We should get there early so we can sign-up." She stated very maturely tonight. Indeed.

I've had the same bloody end of the day headache for about three days but I think that is mainly from not drinking enough water. Its the only effective way my body has found so far of telling me I'm dehydrated. I wish it would do so earlier in the day...I end up drinking tons before bed (doesn't make for continuous sleep) and not drinking much at all during the day. I've just got a million other things on my mind most of the time. Will try and do better. Sleep and water = health and beauty, right?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Domain!

Yeah Baby! We've got our own domain name now. Look up and view the glory. That's right, we're Nice.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Taking Count

Last time I heard, 2,752 people died in the 9-11 attacks (not including the 10 hijackers). According to, 3,592 US citizens have died in Iraq. I'm a mathematician so you'd have to tie my arms to keep me from crunching these numbers... That means that the losses in Iraq are now 130% of the number of people lost in 9-11. At you can get stats on the number of soldiers lost on a monthly basis. They made a graph of the data from May 2003 to February of this year and so I made a few amateur lines of best fit which gave me at least three reasonable equations, one of which was C = 1.74M + 38, where C is the number of casualties that month and M is the number of months since May 2003. That gives an estimate of 121.52 casualties in May and 123.26 in June. The true numbers? In May, 121 US deaths were reported in Iraq. In June 98 died. That suggests that, unfortunately, there does seem to be a positive correlation between our two variables...that is, the number of soldiers killed every month generally increases with time. However, this is only an estimate and, fortunately, in many months fewer soldiers died than the equation would lead us to believe. Little solace for the loved ones of those that did. Hmmm...Now, I wonder who is tracking the number of Iraqi civilian deaths?

Ex-Senator Freddy Boy

So, I learned at Tom Cat's Blog, Politics Plus today that Fred Thompson, who I formerly only knew from television, is an attorney and big-time politician. Which means it didn't take a heck of a lot of skills to play those roles on tv, now did it?

But more importantly, this man who seems to be playing himself off as a Washington outsider, a regular really very much an insider. He was even involved in the investigating Watergate and warned Nixon that the tapes/taping system was about to be exposed. And he wrote his autobiography about it a whiles back so...maybe he isn't trying to pretend to be a Washington outsider but that's how it seems to many of us young people unfamiliar with his Washington history.

I had no idea that Freddy boy had experience dancing in political circles. He was a lobbyist in Washington for at least 18 years and is an attorney and a former Tennessee Senator! He's apparently also a recent friend or anyway strong supporter of Scooter Libby. And his Law and Order job is perhaps a reward for lobbying in favor of NBC parent company, GE, in Washington. Of course, Reagan himself was a GE spokeman and his "GE Years" are considered pivotal in his conversion from a democrat and "New Dealer to the Core" (as he called himself prior to his time with GE) " to a staunch supporter of corporate interests.
Note: Perhaps in his favor, Thompson also represented Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, that populist leader that the US went in and kidnapped.

And if you still think perhaps he's just a regular guy, driving his pick-up truck and living with the common folk...Here's the Wikipedia description of good 'ol Mclean, Virginia where he lives.
"McLean is home to many diplomats, members of Congress and high-ranking federal government officials, entrepreneurs and service businesses partially attributable to the close location to Washington, D.C. and the Central Intelligence Agency."
Just your common folk. they'd come if I invited them to a barbecue.

I Am Nothing If Not Random.

That's the title of my autobiography I think. Anyway, I posted before about a new author I'm excited about. Tao Lin wrote a story on his blog (also on blogger) called the Nearly-Severely Depressed Bird. Like I often do when friends send me poems and such, I decided to write a piece in reply, in this case a possible continuation of the story. Click reply and read the original post (not sure how to link to it directly given his set-up) and then you can read my bird addition. Here it is...

The next night, the bird lays permanently incapacitated under the claw of Jane Fonda, a languorous young cat who, following her nap, had been engaged in a series of kinesthetic exercises, when the nearly-severely depressed bird flew by. Although she is accustomed to corporate commercial enterprises and credit card machines, it has been sometime since she has been in such close proximity to a bird in flight and the cat could not recall immediately which side of her paw to swipe with. However, her hesitation was only infinitesimal and was certainly not a pause long enough for the bird to escape through before she being flattened.

It was originally assumed by interested parties that the bird had accidentally come across the cat. However, later it came to light that the bird had packed up her nest (as if expecting to be away for sometime) and had left a prescient final note in her moleskin journal which read, "Small Cat." Perhaps her nearly-severe depression had turned into severe depression and lead her to attempt suicide in this most terrible way or...perhaps, having just read Bighead, she had thought to find a kitten who might pacify her enemies and thus become her protector (especially on long flights away from the nest).

And, by the way, he just awarded me a copy of his book Eeeee Eee Eeee with pictures! Yay. Can't wait to read it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What God would Bless America?

One of my favorite bloggers, Two Crows, recently wrote a comment which echoed my own feelings about this national "holiday"...July 4th is
"a pretty hollow holiday, these days. it never _was_ one of my favorites -- I never could get behind celebrating genocide, slavery, discrimination, sexism and the general sense of 'we're better than everybody else and don't you dare forget it!"
Sometimes I don't say anything rather than venting my frustration with the state of things...of course change rarely comes from silence however. They were celebrating the troops, including the marines, etc. and this will bring to mind my student Chris (see former post, Now, I'm Angry. I cannot celebrate the fact that the marines have taken him away from those of us who care about him, about his soul (how else can I put it? The army sends home hollowed out people. There must be no mistake in the words "Hollow" and "Hallow" being so close to each other.)

What God would Bless America?

Yahya! Love the Swedes!

This commercial shows some of the true beauty of the world. Wish more companies were willing to break with the status quo.

The Chess Game: See the Whole Board

Bush is a classic fratboy and I've always been wary of those types. They are always crass, sexist, secretly or loudly racist, and don't think there is anything wrong with putting their selfish desires above the good of everyone else. Basically that means that partying and drinking his braincells away while bashing them out of others has always made a lot of sense to Bush. I couldn't dislike him more. But on the other hand, he is just a puppet leader. Especially if he is as stupid as he acts. The real power players include Cheney, Bush Sr. Mrs. Bush Sr., Karl Rove and Company (that is a real political consulting firm based in Austin, Texas), and many others in the national and international arena, whose names we may never know. They are playing a deft chess game and when they lose a pawn (Bartlett), a bishop (Wolfowitz), or even a rook (Rumsfeld), you can bet they saw it coming and thought it was worth the sacrifice. I think we (I'm always guilty of this, see previous post) need to stop focusing so much on the individual and whatever other candy they hand us and look at the goddamn big picture. Because you can medicate the pain and the patient will still die of the disease. And I see us, as a global society, bleeding in a million places right now....Vampires at our necks. Remember...Bram Stoker's Dracula was written (based on a real man)about the wealthy aristocracy exploiting the less fortunate ...No matter how much we may wish it so, it's not just fantasy horror. This game is happening right now.

Don't Get Caught with Your Pants Down

...or your pants up and your zipper down. Or your zipper down and staff members "helping" you get it back up. Bush is an idiot. What more can I say?

No, I'm not sure this is a genuine photo. The original poster (a DNC employee apparently) is someone familiar with Photoshop. But I ran this one by some similarly skilled friends and they said it was a darn good job if it isn't real. Apparently Bush just needs help pulling up his zipper. Lies and can't keep his pants up...sounds like he's impeachable even by the Republican party's own measure.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Now, I'm Angry.

I just realized that in all my emotional upset this May, I didn't think to blog about what was bothering me. I'm really upset that one of my former students has decided to join the Marines. He's a really nice person as far a I could tell and he will never be the same again because of this monumental decision he has made to pay for his education by joining perhaps the worst of our armed forces. I know he has always worshipped order and routine in some ways and he used to say that he wanted to be a prince but that was silly kid stuff and also him trying to deal with a hard home life. His mother is depressed and they have tons of money troubles but how awful is that to decide to escape it all by joining our murderous forces. I'm just terrified for him. He will truly never be the same again. So many local kids have already gone and either never come back or returned mentally scarred (the July 4th fireworks isn't helping anyone's PTSD, that's for sure) and physically disabled. The latest to return came back with literally no feet. I just wanted to talk him out of it and I'm sure he would have listened - he basically had had noone to talk to when I wasn't there - but he had already sworn in by the time I showed up for his graduation. I've cried and wanted to cry some more. This is all so unjust. They are truly taking some of our best and brightest and twisting them into their contorted molds. Chris got duped, like so many young people, and now there's nothing I can do about it. I've never felt more like I failed a student. History: He was a student at the first school I taught at (an awful elitist boarding school). Said school has gone only further down the tubes since I left. Everyone said I was lucky to have left after the first year.

Get 'Em Young

Monday, July 02, 2007

Deserving of a Post

Click the title of this post to read an inspiring author of today. I love how the internet has been a natural medium by which author Tao Lin communicates with his audience (in the most untraditional of ways) and, generally speaking, simply expresses himself on a day-to-day unedited way. His stories remind me the most of Kurt Vonnegut but, on the other hand, they are nothing like that. Ho Hum, Eeeee Eee Eeee. Happy Birthday, Tao Lin!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's a Small Classroom, after all...

I'm keeping track of all the countries from which hail (or have hailed) my students. The list just keeps growing every year. The additions from the just ended school year are the island of Dominica, New Zealand, and Australia. The kids from the last two countries were not even friends with each other or in the same class. It just happened that those very close countries both ended up with representatives in my classes last year. Go figure. I don't know if I could write all the rest down from memory. Cameroon is definitely on there...

Puerto Rico
New Zealand
Cape Verde
Dominican Republic
Island of Dominica (sp?)
Sri Lanka
United States

Those are the 20 that I remember. I'm sure I'll have to update this list later when I recall who I've missed. :-)

Shine Some Light on the Situation

I am attempting to construct my own lightbox. I tried to use a couple of mini-flashlights at first for lighting but of course that really didn't work at all, especially since my box is so short. The "box" is constructed of two picture frames. The top is the two sheets of glass from the frames with tissue paper sandwiched in between. I'm going to krazy glue the frames together I think. But still need to get a fluorescent bulb for the box or it won't work. Hopefully there's a small enough bulb for my 11 x 14 "box".

By Request

Figure Drawing for All Its Worth is a pretty darn good text on drawing...well, figures. I started with this text by Loomis and have supplemented it with many other texts as well. He has several including one or two focusing solely on how to draw some of the two most difficult aka interesting parts of the human body (no, that's not what I'm talking about, get your mind out of the gutter)...I mean the head and hands.

This Phillipino blogger's site is a good starting place if you want to download these books by Loomis and other worthy art teachers. I'll link to some other sites with Loomis titles soon. I meant to just upload the files since I have them myself and would like to make them as widely available as possible to do this easily on Blogger? If you know, please do tell.

The Topic of the Summer

I've considered starting a new blog with the graphic novel project as it's main focus but decided to keep it all right here. Afterall, I don't write on this blog nearly enough and maybe I'm a little superstitious...every one of the other million blogs I've made for projects and goals has sat inactive for months or years and the project/goal that inspired each has been abandoned or all but. I can't help but think that most of the time, when I think I have a great blog idea, I really just have a great post for this blog. If only there were some fast way of consolidating all my blogs! That'd be vunderful. :-)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why the Artist is Starving

So, as I said...I am learning to do graphic art. It seems that the brushes for inking drawings...well, for coloring/painting them after the outlines are already inked, are incredibly expensive. So much so that one ends up trying to decide between buying the paper, markers, paint, etc. for the traditional inked pictures and buying a graphic tablet like the Intuos 3 or even a tablet PC. Markers like the Sakura Pigma Brush Pens or the Copic Sketch Markers have these beautiful brush nibs so you can essentially paint without the hassle of painting (stretching the paper, etc.). You can even blend colors and so on but the prices are absolutely exorbitant. Of course the professional comic artists don't do their own inking at all, they do all the sketching in black and white and then send them on to another department, well ok...another person or two.

So, just wanted to register that complaint...about the exorbitant cost of doing this kind of art. If anyone has a set of Copics they would like to donate for a good cause, drop me a line. :-)

How to Draw Eyes

Some of the not so hidden potential of sites like YouTube is as an open university online, like so much of the internet, where people are sharing knowledge in new and really exciting ways. Maybe I should make videos of me solving math equations with some simlarly cool musical soundtracks. :-)

Travelling in the Twilight

A Post from Beppe Grillo.

"Someone has given me a book called "Viaggio nelle tenebre" {Travelling in the twilight} by the Centro Aurora, the National Centre for children who have disappeared and those who are sexually abused. I've read it. I felt sick. It's right that you too should feel sick. I will ask the publishers for permission to publish it on the blog.
It's a document on paedophilia, on organ trafficking and on Satanism. The principal actors: children. Stage: Italy

From the book:
"In Italy calculating exclusively the data on the declarations made from the year 2004 to March 2007, we see that there are 3,399 minors who have disappeared and are not yet found.
Some disappeared children will sadly be destined for organ trafficking like macabre spare parts. The estimates relating to this are to say the least chilling and they present a real table of prices…. 50,000 euro for a new born, 30,000 a liver, 15,000 the corneas
According to the Trieste District Anti-mafia Division, it is a place with a lot of traffic for the buying and selling of organs so much so that a dossier on the topic has been presented to the Ministry of the Interior. Pier Luigi Vigna, National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor has denounced that just in 2004 there have been about 30,000 victims of trafficking in human beings."

Italy is even active in imports from abroad:
"Italy is denounced by René Bridel, the UN representative of the International Association of Jurists for the Defence of Democracy, by the daily papers "La Nacion" in Buenos Aires, "O Globo" in Rio de Janeiro and "La Repubblica" in Lima: our country is defined as the biggest importer of Brazilian children, as the biggest purchaser.
Léon Schwartzenberg, euro-deputy, has stated that: "From 1988 to 1992 four thousand Brazilian children have left their country for Italy. The official reason is always adoption, but of these youngsters looking for a family only one thousand have been found alive….""

Graphic Novels, Comics, and Society

As some of you know already, I am working on producing a graphic novel this year. Therefore, a lot of my "free" time is spent researching whose shoulders I am attempting to clamber up on. The history of comic books it turns out, is really very interesting, especially as a lense through which to understand more about United States history. Well, perhaps lense is the wrong word but the history of comic books is indelibly linked to that of the country in which they were largely created and the politics of the society from which hail its writers.

In watching this documentary on comic books from the history channel, I found it particularly interesting that, during WWII, comic books were full of hyper-patriotic propoganda where the superheroes ran around beating up the enemies of America, the Nazis in particular...but they were (as they mention in the video) themselves representative of a Nazi ideal, that physically superior aryan male specimen of fantasy that dominates everyone else. This is of course not surprising given the ultra-racist dominant culture of United States itself. The writers of the comic books themselves had ended up writing those magazines of comics in the first place because they couldn't get a job writing comic strips in the respected newspaper business because they were Jewish. So the superheroes could go beat up the Nazis but mentioning that the holocaust was taking place was not going to happen and neither was demonizing the racist philosophies of the Nazis because, after all, our country shared many of the same beliefs.

Also of interest, that even when comic books have deeper storylines (like contemporary comics that question American policy surrounding the Iraq war and that would even go so far as compare the destruction of 9-11 to attacks carried out by the American Government on say...Dresden) none of that is translated to movies and other pop culture media through which those of us who don't actually read comic books on a regular basis understand who these comic book creations are. The layers are almost entirely lost in translation. However, since the essence of X-Men is it's message about bigotry, perhaps it was harder to make this more superficial or maybe its simply because in that case the original creators of the characters were involved in the development of the screenplay/movie.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Black Sheep - Movie Trailer

28 Sheep Later? This is particularly amusing if you take into account that there are at least 10 sheep for every person in New Zealand.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Torture by Any Other Name and Other Linguistic Exercises

"The arguments used to justify the administration's coercive methods can be used to justify anything," writes Steve Chapman in his article, Parsing Words About Torture.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Fuzzy Math Lesson

I looooove this! I've got to show my kids. A fabulous opening to a conversation on place value.

Human Devolution

There's a reason The Simpsons has been on for such a long time. While it can (of course) also be really dumb, it's often also "right-on". Here's a example of the kind of Simpsons humor I love. Note: Like a lot of television, I don't actually watch it regularly or basically ever...but when I have seen it, I've generally been very amused.

Things You Shouldn't Do on the Beach

..if you want lucrative corporate sponsorship from anyone other than the adult film industry, then don't do what Ronaldo's ex did...with her boyfriend...on the beach.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Alanis Morissette Does Black-Eyed Peas Spoof

I wasn't quite sure whether BEP themselves weren't spoofing their genre, the whole hip-hop obession with sex and money...explicitly sexual degrading portraits of women and ostentatious love of money and self. But, even if that's so, they don't get let off the hook in any way given that most of their young audience will not see their videos as anything more than a validation of hip-hop culture with all its -isms. So, I like Canadian Alanis Morisette all the more for showing them to be the fools that they are, for "dissin 'em", in this video.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What do you hate the most about human behavior?

Violence, Gullibility, and Apathy. There are other animals such as bears who can be very violent towards each other but we use our consciousness of self to manipulate each other more. There exists such a gross lack of compassion and such apathy. A very dangerous mix. People endure painful existences, exploited by others, because they don't believe they can change things...they are made passive by consumer culture which says work to get that next paycheck and then spend it..."Heck, why not spend your next 20 paychecks right now!"

And so people are stuck in wage labor jobs while the big guys take away more and more of what made their livelihood anything close to decent, social security in oldage, healthcare, a living wage. Passivity/Apathy, demonstrated by America's obsession with the entertainment industry, is a great evil. Informed action to change our world (our lives) for the better, couldn't be more important. As Al Gore has tried to tell people, if we don't stop being so passive, and actually do something about global warming, soon it will be too late. Humans can be beautiful. We have awesome potential but the question is, "Will we decide to reach that potential or to kill ourselves as a species?"

What is something you know you should care about but don't?

"Lots of things if you mean caring in the only way that matters...enough that you go and do something about it. I mean, I really am disgusted by the continuation of human rights violations in the present day, around the world and right at home. However, I don't directly go do much about it unfortunately. Indirectly, I imagine that my work with children does good in the world and I hope that some of my own compassionate philosophy will rub off on them...but this all seems rather too nebulous to take credit for really."

Response: Exactly what I meant. If there is no action to make change, do you REALLY care?

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Sour Side of Honey

Stoat: Fluid dynamics: honey spirals

Yes, honey is beautiful. However, there is apparently more to having honey on your table than all sweetness and beauty...

Though I am a lifelong vegetarian, I was only recently made aware of the ethical dilemma of eating honey. The idea is that we are taking something from the bees that belongs to them and thus making them either work harder or do without, both potentially harmful and unethical things. That the bees try to stop you from taking the fruits of their labor is given as evidence of harm possibly being done. A beekeeper also uses smoke to tranquilize the bees, kills the queen bees on a regular basis to essentially maintain control over the hive, artificially inseminates another one, incites bees to sting out of fear and thus die, and otherwise manipulates these anthropod animals to produce the nutrient rich honey for humans while feeding the bees a pure sugar diet. This is contrary to the basic vegan philosophy that animals should not be exploited or tortured simply to provide us pleasure. Please see the source below for more details on this.

Why Honey is Not Vegan

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Most Fabulous Language Site Online Yet!

*Beware: unabashed advert follows. But I'm not being paid for this, I just found this new website and have been heavily recommending it every since to all language lovers.*

I mean, I loooove!! This site is sooooo incredible. For free, you can listen to literally hundreds of podcasts that teach you how to speak chinese in a relaxed, completely friendly setting. They break down each dialogue into small pieces and tell you exactly what it all means. And there are podcasts for every language level from absolute Newbie to seasoned aka advanced speakers...I've been listening to it, learning from it, recommending it and enjoying it for over a month now. You can even try the array of augmentary online features free for 7 days...but I think the free podcast is plenty good enough. It'll certainly keep my ears satisfied indefinitely (they post new podcasts every week). It that's not good enough for you, they are also coming out with a Spanish podcast soon enough.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Presidential Candidates

Because you asked me-

Barack Obama -

I hope he really is a good person. I like that he is starting to show some backbone. I haven't seen that before. No, I don't like him automatically because I'm a so-called "liberal"(and what's wrong with that?) and he's black. And yes, in good ol'America (where the tree limbs are still bent from the memories of so many lynchings), he is considered black by all parties despite the creation of a story by major networks saying something to the contrary...that black people don't think him black enough. This is one of those stories that they can publish without evidence at all. Think about it: If most "black" people in fact just love love love Obama, and the news media got the story wrong...who's to say? The media powers today can say practically anything they like and get away with it. Including the national networks saying that Obama is risking his life in running for president...that someone might kill him. Are they trying to suggest something to their audience? Afterall, there are lots of reasons why candidates might be assassinated (ex. Senator Robert F. Kennedy) and yet they never do say such things about other candidates.

Hillary Clinton -
I liked her and respected her plenty right up until she voted to go to Iraq. It's not like everyone did. And somehow she just doesn't seem to cut it anymore...even her excuses for having voted to give Bush that power seem paltry and leave me unsatisfied that she is the strong and more importantly moral person I would like in the office. None of that is why I am under no circumstances voting for her to be the democratic nominee...I'm just sure that there is no chance in hell that she would ever be elected president by this country over a white male unless he were some long-haired hippy and that of course rules out any republicans. Any republican would be more acceptable to the country than electing a b****(their words, not mine) like Hillary. Sorry, the country is still sexist as heck and I won't pretend otherwise like those people who pretended that Ralph Nader might get elected and voted for him, thus getting the rest of us stuck with Bush in power all this time.

Edwards and Others -
So far, the likeliest candidate I've heard of is John Edwards and I can only assume that the corporate media is just filling airtime right now with the other two until we get tired of them and then they will bring out Edwards and/or others to take over the spotlight. By the way, if we are allowed to dream...I'd like to see candidate Dennis Kucinich as president any year, but especially now.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Knights of the Star Trek Table

I love Mash-ups and this one is as smooth as any I have seen yet.

"The crew of the starship Enterprise perform a rousing rendition of the Monty Python classic in this inspired mashup."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Crusades II: See It Again for the First Time

I respected McCain a great deal for coming out strongly against the Bush Administration's/US Military's policies of torture. He was in many ways a lone voice among the Republicans and, though he was harshly criticized for it, he stood up and did the right thing. He restored in me some hope that people, on both sides of the political spectrum, might sometimes stand up for what is humane, what is right (something we see so rarely from prominent politicians of any ilk).

For this reason, I'm very disappointed now to hear that he would support sending over 21,000 more of our young and largely underprivileged sons and daughters (sisters, brothers, fathers, and mothers) to not only join the ranks of the many soldiers who have died there already, but to continue the inhumane occupation of the country and commit further acts of violence against the Iraqi people. Didn't we learn anything in Vietnam? We won't "win" against guerrilla tactics...against a community who has nothing to lose and everything to gain in fighting back against oppression.

To add salt to the wound, McCain, Lieberman, and other bedfellows, elected theoretically at the behest of the electorate but salivating over a GOP presidential nomination next year, have completely disregarded the wishes of the American People in pursuing this policy of maintaining and even drastically expanding our occupation of Iraq.

I can only hope that people speak as strongly for positive change with their vote in 2008 as they did this past November. We desperately need to move toward becoming a much more forward thinking, compassionate country if we want to survive as a nation (and as members of a viable planet).

Evolution Video

This is a interesting video on Evolution.

My Name is Yu Ming

This wonderful film is just chock full of content. It speaks to so many realities of the world today. Sad and somewhat humorous too. Have a look!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

You've heard that saying about books and their covers?

This has got to be one of the funniest videos I've seen in a while, even if slightly predictable...See LadyJane at Atomfilms.

I wish I could embed this, but no such luck...

This is a wonderful video of Death Can for Cuite's song "Summer Skin."

The Life of a Cell

Click on the title of this post to see an absolutely remarkable video depicting the myriad of processes going on inside a human cell. It is POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL. Am sending this along to my friends right away...especially the science teachers.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

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