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

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from June 2004

New Dead Sea scroll reveals Republican Jesus

June 29th, 2004 · 2 Comments

DATELINE: AMARNA 29 JUNE 2004 00:12:13 GMT

This just in: lost teachings of Jesus reveal an obsession with “sinful” sexual acts. He denounced
birth control, encouraged people to stone an adulteress, and had Mary Magdalen jailed for soliciting. He threw homosexuals–not money-changers–out of the Temple.

That’s the message of a new Dead Sea
scroll, being hailed as genuine by conservative Christians from many denominations.

“Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John clearly missed much essential material,” said
Archbishop Archibald Albecore of Chicago. “This is much closer to what Jesus should have said.”

The new improved version of Matthew’s

  1. And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain:
  2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
  3. Cursed are they who have sex when they are not married.
  4. Cursed are they who attempt to pledge their love to each other in marriage, unless one of them is a man and the other a woman, for yea verily if we permit unworthy ones to marry, then the marriages of all others will be defiled.
  5. Cursed are they who do not work strongly enough against abortion–let them be shamed beyond all other kinds of sinners….
  6. Cursed are sexual sinners of every kind, and this is the heart of the
    teaching I would bring you, for wanton unmarried sex is something I
    think about night and day.

the new scroll is genuine, then the Religious Right will have been
following Jesus’s teaching much more closely than we realized.

Tags: Not what it seems...

Time’s list would be better if it included Feedster…

June 28th, 2004 · Comments Off on Time’s list would be better if it included Feedster…

Time magazine online lists “50 Coolest Websites“, a pleasing
combination of old friends who deserve even more recognition and new
stuff I hadn’t tried yet.

No time for 50? Here are five from their list that were pretty new to me:
Campaign ads and speeches everywhere–many hot-air-filled
trial balloons get punctured by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (U
Fun and temptation for iPod addicts with product reviews, accessories, and more.
Flashy (I mean that in a good way) resource for indie filmmakers and those who love them.
News trivia game with three levels, kinda fun.
Internet clothes shopping–I wonder if the catsuit of jewel-studded
chainlinks comes in my size…of course, if it costs as much as the
Armani blazer, I’m not really interested.

Thanks to Tara Calishain and ResearchBuzz for the link–and congrats to Tara (co-author with Rael Dornfest of
Google Hacks) for a recipe Google-hack that made Time’s list.

Tags: Feedster

Let’s all add this category to our blogs!

June 27th, 2004 · Comments Off on Let’s all add this category to our blogs!

Inspirational Sunday morning reading: Dooce’s bloglist of How to Annoy Me, going all the way back to May, 2001. A few favorites:

  • 09 April 2003 Suggest that we shouldn’t let the dog sip the $39.00 Herradura tequila. You know he’s totally worth it.
  • 13 March 2003 Doubt that my mother really is the Avon World Sales Leader. She will totally crush you.
  • 08 August 2001Crank up the air conditioner in the office so high that every woman’s chest is its own PowerPoint presentation.

I needed a laugh this morning, so thanks to Liz Lawley aka mamamusings for her “roundup of blog posts that made me laugh this week. ” And in (surprisingly) related news, thanks to Joi Ito for pointing me to Loic LeMur stealth discoing Liz at SuperNova.

Tags: Metablogging

Mean lady who doesn’t like panhandlers

June 25th, 2004 · Comments Off on Mean lady who doesn’t like panhandlers

That didn’t used to be me. In my youth, I was happy to lend what I saw
as a helping hand to the few people who asked me for spare change on
the rare occasions I visited a big city.

Harvard Square, contrary to its liberal reputation, has soured me on
the whole panhandling scene. You can’t walk through it without getting
hit up by three or four large, able-bodied, aggressive regulars. These
are not homeless, jobless, needy people–these are successful
businessmen whose business is embarassing tourists and shy young
couples with their shouted “requests.”

Last summer, there was a beggar who kept a dog chained on top of a
supermarket cart, with a cardboard sign saying, “Please, we need to
eat.” It didn’t seem like much of a life for the dog, but I figured it
would be a cruel world that took away some guy’s pet because he was

Today, I saw him again–I don’t know if he was somehow un-homeless when
the weather was bad or whether begging is just some kind of a summer
hobby. Last year’s dog is gone–the man has upgraded to two pets, a
puppy and an old cat.

What irks me the most about all this is that Harvard Square makes
homelessness look cozy, cuddly, and safe to young people like Io Nachtwey, murdered in 2001 by 6 “friends” she met there. Teens
from the suburbs hang out in the “Pit”, begging for spare change when
they run out of cigarettes, and every summer a few of them decide to
shed the hassles of home for an exciting lifestyle under the

Cambridge officials reject the idea of shooing kids away from the Pit
because they would then go somewhere even less safe. On the other hand,
the Cambridge officials have no way to keep the Pit kids safe there, or
to deter unsavory types from preying on them.

Isn’t there some middle ground possible here? I don’t want to
criminalize homelessness or begging–but couldn’t we do something about
the guy with the dog and the cat? And maybe, next to the Pit, a
memorial to Io Nachtwey would remind kids that the “freedom” of
homelessness can have real costs.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Open-source software: Eeevil in so many ways

June 23rd, 2004 · Comments Off on Open-source software: Eeevil in so many ways

That’s the opinion of a whole bunch of “independent” think tanks, including the Alexis De Tocqueville Institute (ADTI).

There’s a fascinating analysis over at Deltoid,
which quotes a bunch of colorful* and varied attacks on open-source
software from tax-exempt foundations that turn out to be getting major
grants from…Microsoft! 

Many of these same “independent” think tanks have also provided
“independent” assessments for other corporate clients–often without
disclosing their corporate funding.

In 1995, the ADTI got $75,000 from Phillip Morris for a “public awareness campaign” others might think of as  pro-tobacco astroturfing.

According to Deltoid, ADTI also got funding from Exxon–and according
to Disinfopedia, ADTI is also a proud member of the anti-global warming
group Cooler Heads Coalition.

I wonder what Alexis De Tocqueville would think of the “Institute”
named after him. And I wonder why my tax dollars are subsidizing the
profits of major corporations by giving these tax-exempt think tanks a
tax-free ride.

* “Linux is a leprosy” has to be my favorite.

Tags: Not what it seems...

Books with embarassing titles

June 20th, 2004 · 2 Comments

I want to blog about my summer reading list, but before I do….

Have you ever noticed that some books have really embarassing titles? Three examples, two from my past and one from my future:

Liberated Parents, Liberated Children by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Sounds like a road map for ultra-PC families who roast tofu marshmallows over a nightly bonfire of burning bras–in fact, it’s good-humored, fiction-ified practicalia based on Haim Ginott’s theories.
Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
Conjures up–I don’t really want to say. This sci-fi-fantasy classic would be a non-stop page-turner–but not in public places, not with that title.
What Should I Do With My Life by Po Bronson
It’s on my summer list, but I’m planning to tote it around in a plain brown wrapper. Po Bronson interviewed a ton of people with interesting stories based on that question, and I’m looking forward to reading it, okay?

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything

Travel broadens the…something

June 15th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Does travel broaden the mind?

Or does it just expand other bits of you, during the timeless flow of meals in restaurants?

I like the way travel shakes up my preconceptions–the smalltown illusion that my country, my town, my neighborhood, and my Mom do things just the right way and those who do otherwise are stupid, barbaric, lazy, or just plain rude.

It’s easy to spot someone else’s intolerance–like the English acquaintance who sneers at American overuse of salt as she pours a teaspoon of sugar on her tomato.

Wandering through the streets of Geneva, I wonder how the world looks through local eyes. How does it change the boss-employee relationship when you greet each other with good-morning kisses? How does it affect the day of a sales clerk when a polite greeting and a cheerful farewell form part of each transaction?  What must it be like to live in a small city where clean, fast, reliable trams run every seven minutes and nobody ‘needs’ a car to get to work?

I like the way travel disrupts my usual habits by making hard things easy and easy things hard. Somebody else cooks my meals and washes my sheets–but figuring out how to get from A to B can take half an hour.

Time I might spend at home on chores gets spent in museums or reading guide books, a perspective that takes in centuries of time, and looks at the world with a focus that doesn’t center on any of my normal preoccupations. For example, the most important part of World War II is the activity of Charles DeGaulle–when you look at the war from a Parisian perspective.

I don’t want to shed my own skin and wear someone else’s. I think my own country, my hometown, and my Mom have many virtues as well as some limitations. And I’ll be glad to get home, hopefully not too broadened by French sauces and Swiss cheeses…

Tags: Pilgrimages

Geneva, international city

June 14th, 2004 · Comments Off on Geneva, international city

Rousseau was born here but left. Voltaire lived here by choice. The first baptism under the seven golden domes of the Russian church was Dostoevsky’s daughter.

Caesar paused in his Gallic wars to stop by Geneva and burn down its only bridge-it got a whole paragraph when he wrote his memoirs. Napoleon dropped by to steal all the city’s cannons.

Geneva has it all, including one, count it one, Internet cafe. More of a video game cafe, or a smoking parlor cafe, or an echo chamber for loud rock music cafe, with 10 extremely slow Internet connections. One of them, at this moment, is me.

If the International Red Cross–headquartered in Geneva–knew how I suffer from Internet deprivation, they’d surely do something about this.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Paris is worth a mess

June 9th, 2004 · 4 Comments

“Paris is worth a Mass,” said Henri of Navarre, who became France’s Henri IV at the cost of converting to Catholicism. Well, that’s what the translators claim, but I prefer my own translation of  his “Paris vaut une Messe.”

Even the hotel coffee is delicious. Even the coffee at the conference where Frank is speaking is delicious. Even the 80 plus degree sunshine is delicious. Even the six-hour time difference that means that my body thinks I’m typing these remarks at 5:30 a.m. is delicious.

No, wait, maybe I mean that I’m delirious. I’m going back to bed now, see you later…

Tags: Pilgrimages

Upside down couches and bagged mattresses

June 6th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Forgive the light blogging, my real life has been so topsy-turvy recently.

On May 27, I had two daughters going to school and living in apartments and a tidy garage with space for my car inside.


On May 31, I had a garage full of plywood, cinderblocks, and two
apartments worth of furniture plus two daughters who just graduated and
moved and were busily getting packed to go biking in France.

Two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts helped us endorphinate during the move
itself.  But now–the girls are both gone–Frank and I are packing
to join them.

Meanwhile, there’s something eerie about seeing the normal equipment of
daily life–sofas, sweaters, dishes–uprooted from “permanence” and lugged
outdoors into a UHaul van. And there’s something uncanny about going out to
the garage to get my gardening gloves and seeing the ghostly shapes of
familiar stuff unfamiliarly stacked up on top of other stuff.

So, if I’m still vibrating, that’s probably why.

Tags: Life, the universe, and everything