Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not yet a vegetarian

So we were watching "Mythbusters" on DVD, another desperation selection from the San Carlos library. I gather it's meant to get kids and juvenile adults excited about science, but the methods seem dicey to me and in any case the real point is to blow things up. So anyway they did an episode on Diet Coke and Mentos, the phenomenon that's "sweeping the Internet!" (the episodes we watched were obviously a few years old). They wanted to find out why a liter of Diet Coke will erupt when a Mentos (Mento?) candy is introduced into it. First question: why does the guy have to wear GLOVES and a RESPIRATOR when working with the ingredients in Diet Coke? That aside, I learned that an ingredient in Mentos is gelatin. Of course! To make it smooth! Turns out that shit is in everything, including the multivitamins I've been taking for years. Ah, how ignorant I was, popping that giant "horse pill"--literally--thinking I was just being extra cautious in case I was missing something in my virtuous, cruelty-free diet. Fucking Safeway. But so-called vegan multivitamins invariably seem to be megadose, as if individuals of this persuasion can also be counted on to be *psychos.* How about just a nice, normal, 100% RDA multivitamin, not made of horse, that won't make me magnetic or cause me to roll up like a potato bug in five years? Too much to ask?


I gather there's a world financial crisis or something going on, too.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Congratulations, I guess

Congrats to Bristol and Levi, who now have the world's biggest shotgun pointed at their heads: John McCain's ego.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Question of this day

Who is running the country right now?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Question of the day

Doesn't Hamid Karzai have better things to do than be a prop in the Fascist Barbie UN Play Set?

In the grip of Sarahcosis

If it takes me another two years to finish my novel, I should probably blame Sarah Palin. For the past 3+ weeks I have been unable to stop checking blogs for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. It's all I can do even to go to bed. I've played whack-a-mole with my RSS reader--staring at it till the yellow flash told me there was a brand-new post on some blog, clicking before the color had even faded. Now even that is too slow for me. I simply start with Americablog and click through the blogroll, occasionally playing a sort of "blog golf" along the way (can I get to TalkLeft from Andrew Sullivan in 2 clicks?). All of this takes time and emotional energy and contributes absolutely nothing to the cause. But I will give more money to Barack Obama today.

I couldn't sleep last night because of the Lifetime poll that said the M-P and O-B tickets were about even on "women's issues." The upshot, apparently, was that women now think McCain understands them because he has one standing beside him, hollering quasi-fascist inanities and lies. Today TalkLeft and others provide some perspective. But there is a parallel universe, separated from ours by an infinitessimal membrane, in which McCain and Palin are considered legitimate presidential candidates. And the membrane is porous.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was one of those writers I didn't even bother envying--his talent and his energy were simply on a different plane, one I could only reach by Star Trek transporter. I never read Infinite Jest, but Brief Interviews with Hideous Men has been on my bedside table for over a year. I look to it whenever I feel trapped by the conventional short-story form. I've broken too many stories by trying to force them into Freitag's triangle. Whereas Wallace would be, like, what triangle? What the hell are you talking about? He simply blows form away, turns it inside out. His stories are all voice, and for him voice is far more than enough.

Amanda Marcotte makes the interesting point that all of us are complicit in a creative person's suicide; we feed off that person's sadness (though he was willing, more than willing, to let us do so). I'm not sure how I feel about that idea. The late and equally lamented Joe Strummer once said non-smokers should be banned from enjoying any creative work done by smokers. After all (I'm interpolating a bit), they're the ones who scorched their lungs and risked cancer as part of their creative process. It's not fair that we get to have it risk-free.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ocean sunfish

Here's a photo of an ocean sunfish (mola mola), from our boat trip to the Farallon Islands:

According to Wikipedia, this mola mola is probably basking, which it needs to do frequently in order to warm up and not freeze to death. As the article says, the fish resembles a head with a tail stuck on it. We saw three of these on our trip, all doing the same thing, and have seen the much larger one at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Bottom line: there is no Intelligent Designer. I mean, what could the Smart One have been thinking? Floating like a dying goldfish, or tottering through the chilly water that threatens to kill it, this slapped-together model is, at best, a transition. Is this the pelagic Sarah Palin? Oops, we didn't have time to do the QA on this one, but the boss likes it so--it's a FISH, dammit, the best fish ever.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The language of choice

At MyDD, Natasha Chart writes an eloquent post addressing the Repub's newfound feminism. (She also makes some nice comparisons between Repub positions and the many things Jesus had to say about compassion.)

Chart points to several examples of progressive language in the R's lines about Palin. I suspect she is partly kidding when she says this: "as irritating as the zealotry of the newly converted always is, I'm glad to see that they're starting to come around."

I want to take a closer look at one statement, because I think it's not just a matter of "coming around" (no matter how hypocritically). It's also a problem of linguistic alternatives:

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby ..."

As many have noted, the language of choice is on full display here. Feminists have fought for decades so women can freely choose parenthood *if and when we want it.* But how would this sentence work if the Palins' true ideology lay beneath it?

--"We're proud that Bristol was forced to stay pregnant and give birth at age 17."
--"We're proud that we have taught Bristol that there is never a choice when it comes to pregnancy."
--"We're proud that Bristol never had a choice in this matter."

Notice how unloving the parents now sound. It's impossible to be "proud" of a girl who has no autonomy, no choice. Bristol doesn't sound like a person here, but a prisoner, a mere receptacle for sperm and her parents' tyranny. Few parents could be proud of being that cruel, that dehumanizing. In fact there's no way to make this kind of statement in anti-choice terms and come off as anything other than monsters--who, at best, kept their daughter profoundly ignorant (hence the pregnancy in the first place), or, at worst, forced her into giving birth in order to save their own reputations.

The statement shows the Palins do love their daughter--because they gave her a choice.