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

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from December 2003

Nice clear choice in November 2004

December 31st, 2003 · 2 Comments

The neocon hawks pushed Bush to invade Iraq because

  1. Saddam had WMD,*
  2. Iraq was closely tied to terror attacks on the US,** and
  3. Grateful Iraqis would welcome our intervention. (three asterisks)

None of the above turned out to be true, but that’s OK, because Saddam was an evil man who killed and tortured any who dared to oppose him.

The good news from the neocons is that they don’t insist that we bomb and invade all the many other countries whose governments kill and torture dissidents. Phew, because that would be a long list.

No, all the
latest right-wing agenda demands is that Bush should prepare for war against Syria, Iran, North Korea, with an option for future action against Saudi Arabia and France.


I feel very sorry for the soldiers who just found out that the Army can unilaterally extend their term of service. (four asterisks)

And I’ll be surprised if the Republicans are as eager to get all the military absentee ballots they can, in 2004.

* Bzzt, wrong. Maybe they were thinking of North Korea?

** Bzzt, wrong again. Maybe they were thinking of Saudi Arabia?

(three asterisks) Bzzt, half right. A lot of Iraqis are glad to be rid of Saddam. Unfortunately, not many are happy with the chaos and violence that threaten to engulf them, and probably will when US forces leave.

(four asterisks) Washington Post headline: “Army Stops Many Solidiers From Quitting.”

Through a series of stop-loss orders, the Army alone has blocked the possible retirements and departures of more than 40,000 soldiers, about 16,000 of them National Guard and reserve members who were eligible to leave the service this year.

Tags: Invisible primary

While we watched Saddam’s capture: Patriot II

December 28th, 2003 · 3 Comments

On December 13, President George W. Bush signed a big chunk of Patriot II into law–but the “major media” were focused on Saddam’s spider hole.

Coincidental timing? Bush hasn’t signed a bill on Saturday since–more than a year ago–the government would have shut down Monday if he didn’t, according to the San Antonio Current.

Patriot I freed the FBI from pesky Fourth Amendment restraints (like probable cause) in its dealings with “financial institutions.”

The new law (US 108-177) extends the definition of a “financial institution” to include car dealers, airlines, jewelry stores, and any other business “whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters.”

Public furor after details of the Patriot Act II leaked led to a change in the plan–but not what we hoped for. Instead,

Ashcroft and Co. disassembled Patriot Act II, then reassembled its parts into other legislation. By attaching the redefinition of “financial institution” to an Intelligence Authorization Act, the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies avoided public hearings and floor debates for the expansion of the Patriot Act.

Look, I’m in favor of fighting terrorism–but if this bill is needed then why is Bush working so hard to sneak it in under the radar? Why isn’t he instead telling the world about how and why it’s important?

I’m hoping my fellow-bloggers will join me in reminding our national representatives and media that this event deserves to be noticed, not tamely forgotten.

Or, if you’re too busy, maybe I could interest you in buying a nice tshirt that says “I Wasn’t Using My Civil Rights Anyway“.

Thanks to John Battelle’s excellent SearchBlog for this story.

Tags: Invisible primary

Halley and Howard? I don’t want to miss that!

December 26th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Halley is having a house party for Dean! I am sooooo there.

Not only do I want to get in on the Dean conference call at 9:30, I am also dying to meet MakeOutCity’s Jay McCarthy, not to mention Sooz.

How about you? Here’s Halley’s RSVP page.

Tags: Invisible primary

Resources for young women in science

December 26th, 2003 · Comments Off on Resources for young women in science


Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Night before Christmas

December 24th, 2003 · 6 Comments

OK, phew. The tree is up, the family traditional Christmas-Eve dinner of Chinese food has been eaten. (Judging by the crowd outside Cheng Sho when we left, that’s a popular tradition here in Cambridge.)

OK, stockings full.

OK, making hard sauce. No sherry so we use cream and a little brandy. A vote for brown sugar turns into a vote for dark brown sugar because I don’t have light brown sugar. A vote for salted rather than unsalted butter means the result tastes a bit like popcorn. I’m not sure a normal family would accept the result as hard sauce, but a normal family also might not accept our background music choice of “Codfish Ball,” Bert and Ernie singing the L song.

Now the CD has ended. The kids drove home with their stockings–they’ll come back tomorrow at 9 to open “real” presents. I sit here blogging and resting my tired feet.

Isaiah’s promise sounds pretty good to me now: “They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk, and not be faint.”

But I’d settle for “They shall blog, and not fall asleep at the keyboard….”

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Last minute gift? Give someone you love a blog

December 24th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Give somebody a blog–it’s the ultimate last-minute gift. You’re giving a gift of respect and encouragement, plus the offer of more of your time to help set things up. One size fits all. No shipping and handling. Your mileage may vary.

Biz Stone has been writing a series of creative help-pieces for new bloggers, and his latest is an excellent tutorial on setting up a “gift” blog.

Biz works for Google/Blogger (say that three times fast!), so his advice assumes you’ll be using their software. But you can use his advice, with minor modifications, to set up a new blog using your own favorite blogware.

I’m not sure I’d go the whole distance Biz suggests of creating a popup card with the Blogger logo–a red ribbon on the keyboard is enough marthastewart for me.

Despite these quibbles, “Biz Stone, Genius” was the obvious right pick for Feedster’s Christmas Eve “Blog of the Day.”

Tags: Metablogging

Too many damn ghost Betsys of Christmas present

December 23rd, 2003 · 3 Comments

Help, I’m channeling too damn many Betsys! And now every one of them wants to write in my blog! (About time too–my blog has been neglected for a week.)

First of all, if you want the real spirit of this crazy, loving, season of fantasies about what a good job we’ll do for those we love *this* time, nobody ever says it better than Halley on most days, but she really “gets it” with her No More Santa.

In a sadder side of the year’s end, two of my favorite bloggers seem to be getting ready to fold up their URLs and fade away. Elaine and Niek, I wish you’d change your minds.

Elaine of Kalilily hasn’t blogged since December 1, when she quoted a hairdresser teaching women in Afghanistan:

If i was a reading teacher i would teach them to read. but i am a hairdresser so i teach them hair.

Meanwhile, Niek of Shutterclog has some other projects he plans to work on:

Like the invention of the wheel. Thank goodness I’m almost full circle with that one!

For a final word on both sides of this complex season–here is Steve Himmer (OnePotMeal) with the ultimate super best top card of the season.

Ho ho ho and warm wishes to all of us!

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

“Topic-centered” and “friend-centered” RSS

December 18th, 2003 · 4 Comments

You know something you want is somewhere in RSS*–but how the heck do you find it?

The blogroll model picked up by aggregators is what I call “friend-centered.” You tell the aggregator who your friends are, and it tells you when somebody on your list posts.

The Feedster** model is what I call “topic-centered.” You search for a word or phrase that interests you, and Feedster returns any posts that include your topic–often posts made within the past few minutes.

Both models are useful. Most of us have friends as well as topics of interest! And a lot of people put the two models together by treating their Feedster topic-search as a friend and subscribing to its RSS feed in their aggregator.

Now, thanks to some very hard work by Scott Johnson, you can integrate friends-and-topics in a new way, using Feedster’s new web-based aggregator. (I did some beta-testing on “myFeedster” as it was developed, and I love it.)

The myFeedster aggregator lets you add blogs and newsfeeds to your subscription list directly from the results of a Feedster search. In other words, people who care about the same topics you do can get added easily to your list of friends.

IMO, Feedster just added a very important piece to the RSS-information-finding puzzle.

* RSS (Really Simple Syndication) lets bloggers and newsfolk publish a “feed” to let readers know about updates when they happen. Readers find out that you said something new when (using a friend-centered or a topic-centered method) they’re checking the state of many feeds at once–not two weeks later, when they have leisure time for brower-surfing.

** Feedster is a web-based platform for collecting, searching, managing and delivering RSS content.

At least that’s how I describe it, though I’d probably better quote Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo! Finance here–he invented my favorite-ever blog disclaimer: “In case it’s not already obvious, I don’t speak for my employer on my personal web site. Do you know anyone who does?”

Tags: Feedster

At long last: Frank Paynter and David Weinberger

December 17th, 2003 · 2 Comments

Awesome, two of the funniest guys I know are appearing together for your metablogging delight–DRUM ROLL–I give you Frank Paynter interviewing David Weinberger!

Paynter and Weinberger, together at last! If I were religious, I’d hope for a heaven where all kinds of team-ups happen that we missed on earth:

  • Shakespeare teams up with Mozart to create the world’s funniest and yet most meaningful opera.
  • Brendan Fraser swings through the jungle with Vivien Leigh dressed as Scarlett tucked under one arm.
  • Babe Ruth rounds the bases after a homer but gets tackled by William “Refrigerator” Perry.

None of the above will happen anytime soon, but Paynter meets Weinberger is a good substitute! Check out this free (as in I just stole it, so why should I charge you?) excerpt:

Frank: Whom would you rather be seated next to at a dinner party: Martin Heidegger, Howard Dean, or Woody Allen? And why? What would you want to talk about?

David: I’d rather sit next to Howard Dean because he may well be in a position to actually change the world. Also, he’s not a Nazi or a pedophile, which are pretty much my minimum requirements for dinner companions.

Be there or be square.

Tags: Metablogging

We got Saddam: Dean says “Yay!”, Right says “Boo hoo!”

December 14th, 2003 · 7 Comments

Great news! In case you just moved here from some distant planet, the great news is we captured Saddam Hussein.

I say, “Great news!!” So does my man Howard Dean.* So does most of the world.

But the Right-Wing is so very disappointed. Not about Saddam’s capture–they agree that’s great news.

The Right is mad because this blows their story that the anti-war Left was entirely
pro-Saddam, pro-Osama**, anti-American, and pro-terror.

Andrew Sullivan begs readers to send him left-wing responses matching right-wing beliefs that anti-war was pro-Saddam. Instapundit links to a slanted round-up of far-left blog reaction, supposedly representative of all non-Republicans. Just about the only Democrat whose reaction they like is Joe Lieberman who predictably, blasts Dean for loving Saddam.

Right-wingers, I’m sorry for you, but I’m happy for us, as in all us people who rejoice when some decent results come out of the blood and treasure spent in Iraq. Especially if this means we might get back to focusing on Osama’s international terror machine.

*What Dean said:

“This is a great day for the Iraqi people, the US, and the international community.

“Our troops are to be congratulated on carrying out this mission with the skill and dedication we have come to know of them.

“This development provides an enormous opportunity to set a new course and take the American label off the war. We must do everything possible to bring the UN, NATO, and other members of the international community back into this effort.

“Now that the dictator is captured, we must also accelerate the transition from occupation to full Iraqi sovereignty.”

** Osama Bin Ladin, whose pro-Islam anti-secular terrorist organization inspired the September 11 hijackers (among many, many other civilian murders.) Saddam Husseim was a totally different, from-a-different-country, mostly-secular although ugly-bearded Middle-East guy.

Tags: Invisible primary