Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from June 2003

Troops don’t want to B.O.G.U. for Bush

June 30th, 2003 · 3 Comments

Oops–the Army Times just caught on that Republican talk about “standing behind our troops” was a thin cover-up for doing the dirty to soldiers and their families.

In recent months, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have missed no opportunity to heap richly deserved praise on the military. But talk is cheap — and getting cheaper by the day, judging from the nickel-and-dime treatment the troops are getting lately.

For example, the White House griped that various pay-and-benefits incentives added to the 2004 defense budget by Congress are wasteful and unnecessary — including a modest proposal to double the $6,000 gratuity paid to families of troops who die on active duty. This comes at a time when Americans continue to die in Iraq at a rate of about one a day.

Similarly, the administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones….

Army Times, June 30 editorial “Lip Service”

[rant]Grrrrr–this makes me (Betsy) so angry! I’m not pro-military, but I am pro-working-class-kids, and that’s what our army is mostly made up of these days. These kids signed up for a dirty dangerous job and were promised a lot of benefits in return. Now a lot of those kids are still getting shot at and killed–and the Bushies are shutting down VA hospitals and letting military bases deteriorate to save money for fat-cat tax breaks and stupid imaginary super-weapons. [endrant]

Who had this story weeks before Army Times? The Onion did:

NORFOLK, VA—With more than 5,400 jubilant Marines and sailors cheering him on, President Bush landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Harry S Truman in a Navy jet Monday to preside over a historic veterans’-benefits-cutting ceremony.

…After congratulating the soldiers on their victory over Saddam Hussein, Bush announced that the new budget passed by the Senate includes a $14.6 billion reduction in veterans’ benefits. He then held aloft a pair of oversized scissors and snipped a ribbon bearing the words “Veteran’s Benefits.”

The Onion, June 4 story on “Dramatic Veterans’-Benefits-Cutting Ceremony”

I’m hoping the kids will get their benefits back once Karl Rove reminds Bush just where those absentee military ballots come from.

Thanks to Oliver Willis for the Army Times link–thanks to Dave Winer for the naughty acronym!

Tags: Invisible primary

Homeland Insecurity

June 30th, 2003 · 3 Comments

Almost two years after 9/11, the United States is still “Dangerously Unprepared and Underfunded for a Catastrophic Terrorist Attack“, says a report just released yesterday by a blue-ribbon panel of former military officials, business leaders and Nobel laureates.

The report details $98.4 billion dollars badly needed to fund port security and local first responders.

The Department of Homeland Security gave this unnerving response

The Department of Homeland Security took exception to the findings. A spokesman said critics could just as easily have focused on what has been accomplished since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

What has been accomplished? Homeland Security dollars are being doled out to cash-starved states–with enormous fanfare. New York State got the most–$321 million–of the mere $3 billion given out so far. On a per capita basis, however, Republican states like Texas and Wyoming are getting many more dollars than New York.

Ohio hopes to use some of its Homeland Security windfall to fight zebra mussels in the Great Lakes. Just goes to show the Bush team can be trusted to frustrate terrorists.

More proof if you need it that Google isn’t God: None of this made the front page of Google News.
You can see real (but short) news reports at NYT , CNN, and USAToday.

Tags: Invisible primary

Hey, damn it!

June 29th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Hey, look what just happened to one of my favorite weblogs!

Disclosure, not only do I read Dave Winer’s blog but I really like him. And I am very annoyed with the guys out there in blogworld who think they’re sooooo cool when they jerk his chain.

No scripting news–that really sucks. Robert Scoble thinks so too. Patrick Logan thinks so too. Ken of Digital Common Sense thinks so too. If you think so too, please blog it.

Tags: Metablogging

July 5 walking tours of Cambridge, MA

June 29th, 2003 · Comments Off on July 5 walking tours of Cambridge, MA

Walk in the footsteps of George Washington or Tip O’Neill. Experience the grim Colonial graveyard near Harvard Square or the marbled Victorian vistas of Mount Auburn Cemetery. You can visit Brattle Street’s elegant Tory Row or some really, really ugly modern architecture.

For even more options, and to make reservations, get the pdf you can link to from the Cambridge city page.

I sure hope it doesn’t rain here on July 5.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

But what if Hermione wants to blog?

June 28th, 2003 · Comments Off on But what if Hermione wants to blog?

If you read Harry Potter–and don’t you?–I’m Hermione. The most exciting stuff I have to say is nerdy or fun stuff I learned and what I thought of it.

That’s why I’m scared as well as inspired by Halley on “life and death bloggers.” I care about the real lives of bloggers I read–but my real life is not what I blog about.

If I blog about good stuff going on in my life, I worry that I sound boastful.
If I blog about stuff that makes me unhappy, I worry that I am whining. If I offer advice–won’t I just sound smug? If I refrain from offering advice, I feel guilty because I’m not trying to help. What a worry wart!

I’m Hermione and I’m also New England. I know lots of people who hug and kiss-kiss their friends, and I really like it when friends do it to me, but I also worry about if I’m doing it right, which probably means I’m not.

I really like kissing my two kids and my husband. I don’t worry if I’m doing it right with them. And I used to like kissing my mother hello and goodbye–she liked it too–but the gesture was so untraditional, so un-New-England, that her dog would start barking fiercely whenever I did it.

And, if you want to know something personal about me, I really, really, really miss my mother, who died just a little bit more than two years ago.

Tags: Metablogging

Guardian outs irony, cynicism

June 28th, 2003 · 5 Comments

Last month I claimed that NH had made me irony-deficient. Today, Zoe Williams in the Guardian has the real dish on irony, dissecting its postmodern use

“ lance a boil of duplicity, but rather to undermine sincerity altogether, to beggar the mere possibility of a meaningful moral position.”

Thank you, Zoe! That’s what I’m talking about!

For my generation, a “meaningful moral position” sounds almost oxymoronic. I couldn’t defend or define my own beliefs about right and wrong. Is morality like pornography (“I know it when I see it”)? Is it like art (“I know what I like”)? And yet, I keep trying and trying to do the right thing–whatever the heck that is.

And those smugly post-moral postmoderns tittering behind their hands annoy the bejeezus out of me.

Tags: New Hampshire!

Elaine the Fair, the Kalilily Maid

June 28th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Elaine: Elaine of Kalilily poses with Blogsisters on her computer.

Here’s Kalilily, one of blogdom’s most famous blondes, just back from a magical visit to Maine and posing next to Blogsisters.

I just (finally) read her interview with Frank Paynter. Boy, I’m glad I didn’t read it before he interviewed me–I would have been too intimidated to say yes. She is one red-hot momma.

I love the way Elaine embodies so many different people, often all in the same sentence–mother and sexpot, dreamer and doer, bookworm and witch and warrior and more–for example, when she explains the choice of her nickname:

I came up with combining Kali — for the Lilith-related goddess of death and rebirth — and lily — for Lilith, for “Elaine the fair, Elaine the pure, Elaine the Lilymaide of Astalot.”   And there’s also my affinity for Georgia O’Keefe’s calla lilies.  One of my lovers, the one with whom I went to Paris in the spring, gave me a sterling silver ring with the shape of a calla lily.  It’s the only ring I tend to wear.  So, you see, I just love it when disparate parts of my life weave together like that.  Like a web.  Like the net.

Elaine of Kalilily is much more fun than the chaste and fair maid of Astalot, but I did find a cool page of links to texts and images of Tennyson’s idyll “Lancelot and Elaine.”

Tags: Metablogging

Mormon underwear, Frank Paynter, and Dave Winer

June 28th, 2003 · Comments Off on Mormon underwear, Frank Paynter, and Dave Winer

MormonUnderwear: Photo supposedly showing two Mormons wearing special underwear.

Of course the answer to the age old question of what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt is……his shoes.

Steve MacLaughlin, in Frank Paynter’s latest interview

I love Frank Paynter’s interviews because they remind me of questions I didn’t know I had–for example, what would a Scotsman who was a Mormon wear under his kilt? While researching this topic, I learned the answer to another question: “Does a Google search on “Mormon underwear photo” turn up lots of porno?”

The answer to that one is yes.

I don’t share MacLaughlin’s scorn of bloggers-who-blog-about-blogging, but he does say some interesting stuff in the interview:

I believe that there has been less debate over Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” or “Waiting For Godot” by Samuel Beckett than there has been over what blogging is or what it means in some larger social context. History always repeats itself and blogging is the latest iteration of personal journals, which is not a new concept to say the least.

And, as always, Paynter says some really good stuff:

Some bloggers, for example Dave Winer, are unashamed blogging evangelists. Some, like Chris Locke, have extended their personal publishing into blog space. Some, like AKMA, find blogging to be an online community building opportunity….

Paynter’s insights are so unlike the heavy-handed parodies of A-list bloggers John Scoble posted on his site a while ago. To condense its long, unfunny slam at Dave Winer:

10. Print “Dave claims he invented everything.” 
20. Print “Dave thinks he’s sooooo great.” 
30. Goto 10.

It reads like a high-tech version of Limbaugh-does-Clinton. Ugh.

If somebody wanted to parody Winer’s blog, it would be a lot funnier to write something that sounds like Winer’s blog–RSS, Harvard, dinner with friends, what I said last year, how morality should shape software standards. A good parody would have short entries, lots of links, and some funny thumbnail images.

A good parody, like Winer himself, would be fun to read.

Tags: Metablogging

Sequined lust lizard is baaaaack!

June 27th, 2003 · Comments Off on Sequined lust lizard is baaaaack!

Christopher Moore just came out with a new book, and if that doesn’t stir you, let me remind you of some of Moore’s previous titles:

In addition to fine books and zingy titles, Moore wrote my favorite author’s disclaimer ever.* I can’t wait for paperback to read
Fluke : Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings.

I’m buying two hardcovers in a week? Moore and Harry Potter put a spell on me.

*”If you have come to these pages for laughter, may you find it.
If you are here to be offended, may your ire rise and your blood boil.
If you seek an adventure, may this story sing you away to blissful escape.
If you need to test or confirm your beliefs, may you reach comfortable conclusions….”

Chistopher Moore, Lamb

Tags: Learn to write funny

Learn to write bad?

June 27th, 2003 · Comments Off on Learn to write bad?

“A physicist friend of mine once said that in facing death, he drew some consolation from the reflection that he would never again have to look up the word “hermeneutics” in the dictionary.”

Steven Weinberg, “Sokal’s Hoax”, NYRB, August 8, 1996

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it’s the exact opposite.”

Paul Dirac (1902-84)

You know, POMO prose might make more sense if we thought of it as poetry. But I’m not waiting for my deathbed to figure out what the stuff I’m reading actually means.

Derived from the French word “bricoleur” (a Jack-of-all-trades or handyman). POMOs use “bricolage” for any patchwork or non-expert creation.
Theory that every statement is “really” half a dialog with some imaginary listener–and therefore impersonal, objective statements don’t exist.
the challenge of nonstandard dialects to an official language–metaphorically, challenges to any dogma.

Sadly, the POMO bricolage of buzzwords works better as an author’s job-application than it does as a reader’s source of information. Yule Heibel has some very interesting remarks on the economic basis of POMO prose in her comments on my rant yesterday.

Tags: Learn to write good