Thursday, September 30, 2004

Theory of Arguments

There is always someone trying to convince us of something. Buy this, watch this, vote this way, stop at red lights, and on and on. Other than the 1% of the time, where there is some meat on the intellectual bone, I find a need to entertain myself while the blowhard winds rush by. To fill this need in part, I developed my Theory of Arguments. Just listen for the following phrases as a helpful guide to who is winning an argument.

1. "This is America"
Long used by politicians, this stance has broadened so much that it can now be used in virtually any situation. Witness my interaction at the U-Haul when I returned a pickup truck. I walked past a long line of people waiting to rent a truck, and realizing that my truck had to be processed very likely for one of the people waiting, and not wanting to be seen as cutting the line, I was as obvious as I could be about handing the keys to the attendant and then standing to the side. One tall wiry mulletted man of indeterminate age toward the back of the line decided to "call me on it" right then & there.

"Some people think they're entitled!" he said.

I ignored him.

"Some people think they are better than everyone!" He was really warming up now.

"Y'know, this is America and in AMERICA we wait in line!"

Oooh! He did it, right there in the U-Haul. By not waiting in line I had become a Commie bastard.

2. "Think of the children"
"Think of the children" supercedes "this is America." Every country in the world has children. Even people who dislike America probably like at least some children, plus of course, we were each a child once. As good social monkeys, aren't we all supposed to "think of the children?" Remember the song how children are our future? Remember all the late night infomercials pleading for just pennies a day to give some kid with nothing but low grade mud to eat some rice or something. Cue the violins.

Politician #1: You can't keep that in the budget! These cutbacks were voted in and this is America!

Politician #2: But this money funds a shelter for homeless one-eyed kids with bowl haircuts. Think of the children!

You see my point.

3. "For the love of G-d"
Lately, "for the love of G-d" seems to trump "think of the children" and "this is America." It may just be part of the weird religiosity that seems to pervade everything these days. It might be fear of upsetting an omnipotent being. Even atheists like to hedge their bets.

Returning to the U-Haul in example #1, if I had had this Theory of Arguments in place at that time, I could have decimated Mr. Mullet.

"This is America, and in AMERICA, we wait in line!" he said.

This time, I turn to face him and say, "Hey, you know, there are kids in here!"

Mr. Mullet looks up & down the line, embarrassed to be caught setting a bad example for the youth of today. If he were a smarter guy than he looked, he might have tried to co-opt my argument:

"Those kids need to learn that we take turns in America!" he says, cleverly incorporating "think of the children" right into his "this is America" position. Since we have both stated we are, in fact, thinking of the children, he is winning based on the remaining strength of "this is America." It's time for me to pull out the big guns.

"For the love of G-d!" I sigh, combining the world-weary eye roll with the small apologetic smile to the others on line. G-d is bigger than America, bigger than all the children lumped together, and may even be watching this very argument to see who sides with Him and who is a devil worshipping fashion faux pas. Victory is mine.

Finally, if you are using my Theory of Arguments to enhance your enjoyment of the political debates, remember to give extra points if the phrases themselves are used. Most often the arguments are hinted at or skirted around, but now that you know them I am sure you will recognize them. And remember to vote (#1). You are shaping the future of our country (#2). There is no more sacred mission (#3)!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mt. St. Helens Cam

Having watched the news reports over the last few days, hearing about the steam, the bits of ash, the rumblings, the grumblings, at first I was alarmed that there seemed to be no image whatsoever on the famed Mount St. Helens live cam.

It's night.

Heh heh heh. Oh-wa Tagoo Siam. :)

Monday, September 20, 2004

Rare and strange portents

Hear me, my little grasshoppers, we must all be on the alert, day and night, because something strange is coming down the pike. Perhaps I should stop by Edge of the Circle Books and cast some runes, or stop by UW and gaze at the stars through the big telescope, I don't know. Here is the evidence so far:

Portent #1: As I ran around town doing my errands and avoiding the drunken Oktoberfest masses, which were awkwardly positioned on my route to pretty much everywhere, I looked down and right there was a twenty dollar bill! Not only does this sort of thing virtually never happen to me, but a very similar moment earned a place in family lore. My grandmother, born on a Friday the 13th, was a very lucky person. One day as she was walking with my Mom in autumn and the leaves were kicking up in the wind, and swirling around their legs, Grandma looked down to find a $20 bill had blown up against her leg. Coincidence?

Best of all was when I got home and S asked how much the dinner I picked up had cost. I told him, all things considered we were $7 ahead!

Portent #2: Going on an urgently needed late night munchy run to the supermarket is usually a relaxing thing. It's quiet, crowd-free, and the night shift music kicks the butt of the daytime muzak. Heck, I even had S with me, and he graciously carried the plastic basket filled with milk, yogurts, muffins, ham, and (obviously, if you know me) cookies. No waiting in the checkout line, another boon of the night owl life, as the checker swept our goodies one by one over the menacing red laser eye. Then suddenly,

"Tsk, tsk! Oh, dear!"

The checker had reached the bottom of the basket and found the small pot of pansies I impulsively grabbed from the outdoor display on our way into the store. I had placed it carefully in one corner and the first few groceries went into the basket oh-so-carefully. Then more & more stuff, light stuff on top shifted around, and suddenly, we can serve ham with a side order of mashed pansies. Although the pansies looked ok, so I reached for them to take a closer look, at which point the checker said,

"You can't be trusted. Hang your head in shame!"

and handed the pansies to S. Upon inspection, the pansies were indeed ok and will take the place of honor in the planter. But it was too late for me - I had been publicly berated at the QFC!

So... put it all in a mixing bowl, stir it up, and bake at 350 for an hour, and what do we get? Late night pansy-mashers may find hidden riches? The world had an opening for pansy-mashing, grocery clerk target, and the salary was $20 for a job well done? I am open to interpretations.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

A good idea for peace


I don't intend to post much about politics. I laugh along with the rodeo clown show that is our upcoming election, watch The Daily Show, read Molly Ivans, etc. I just don't usually venture beyond my mind and my vote. Today though I read a piece that was such a different and fresh voice, topped with a good idea for helping to promote peace in Israel.

As a Jewish person, I have wondered what my responsibility is toward Israel. I traveled to Israel as a child, fell in love with the roses in Haifa, crawled through under-city catacombs, and dipped my toes in the Jordan River. Every time some asshole with a swastika tattoo makes the news for a hate crime, every time the Aryan Nation holds a parade, every time I look at the photos of family members none of us even know who never made it out of Europe, I am grateful there is another country I could run to, if that ever became necessary. As an American, I am certain my information on all topics is so warped by the time it reaches me that I have generally felt trapped, unable to do or say much on the subject for fear of doing harm through misinformation. Part of the elegance of this idea is that it only enables people to escape from harm, and in so doing reduces the tension in a conflicted region. Hard to see a downside.

This piece of writing has the ring of truth. The facts & figures check out, as do the references to other articles. I am re-posting only part of it here (without permission, but with respect), the "what you can do" portion, but the entire article is worth your time (written in 2002 but may as well have been written yesterday). I would add that this need not be Jews helping Jews, it could be any organization who wishes to promote peace:

So Here Is What You Can Do

Jews in America and world-wide should therefore use their money to support settlers who wish to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel. This should not even be a "political" issue: the settlers (and their children) are held hostage by the Israeli government, exposed to deadly violence. You do not have to be a dove to support people's right not to live in the middle of a battle-field (unless they want to). Sums and conditions can be negotiated, using as guidelines the compensations paid by Israel to the settlers evacuated from Sinai when it was returned to Egypt.

The advantages of such an initiative are numerous.
* On a human level, it respects the free and legitimate will of settlers who wish to leave.
* On a moral level, it does justice to innocent Israeli citizens who conformed to Israeli law and policy, moved to the occupied territories, and now feel abandoned, cheated and betrayed.
* On a national level, it respects the overwhelming majority in Israel that supports evacuation of settlements (without even harming the minority of settlement-supporters).
* On a regional level, it can show Arabs that Jews world-wide are supportive of peace, not of the disputed settlements. Empty settlements can then be sold to house Palestinian refugees.
* On an international level, it conforms to the international as well as American position that the settlements are illegal and form an obstacle to peace.

Now, dear United Jewish Communities of North America: you have collected $265 million in your recent "Israel Emergency Campaign". 65% of the Israelis support evacuating the settlements. Will you take 65% of the sum – $172 million – and offer it to settlers wishing to leave? Or will any other Jewish institution take up the glove? You'll find an overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians behind you, and you will enter History as the initiator of a quantum leap towards Peace in the Middle East.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Vampyra! Bwah ha haaaaa....

You are Form 9, Vampire: The Undying.
"And The Vampire was all that remained on the blood drowned creation. She attempted to regrow life from the dead. But as she was about to give the breath of life, she was consumed in the flame of The Phoenix and the cycle began again."
Some examples of the Vampire Form are Hades (Greek) and Isis (Egyptian). The Vampire is associated with the concept of death, the number 9, and the element of fire. Her sign is the eclipsed moon.
As a member of Form 9, you are a very realistic individual. You may be a little idealistic, but you are very grounded and down to earth. You realize that not everything lasts, but you savor every minute of the good times. While you may sometimes find yourself lonely, you have strong ties with people that will never be broken. Vampires are the best friends to have because they are sensible.

Which Mythological Form Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Mmm... yeah. Sensibility is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of vampires. You know, and fangs.

Supermarket 2AM

4 yogurts ...........................................................$2.40

Pepperidge Farm chocolate chunk cookies ..................... $2.00

Fridge box of coke ..................................................$4.19

Wondering what the guy in front of you has
planned with the purchase of a six pack of toilet
paper, huge bottle of hand lotion, box of
Trojen-ENZTM condoms, and a fresh pack of
camel cigarettes ................................................$Priceless

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Smart animals, stupid people

Stupid people

Smart animal

Stupid people

Smart animal

Stupid people

And the final smart animal (unable to link directly, so here goes...)

"Most Competent Animals
Koko, the famous gorilla that was taught about a thousand words in American Sign Language, had recently been telling her handlers at her apartment at the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, Calif., that her mouth hurt. It was only a toothache, but treatment would require her to be anesthetized, and the foundation decided to take advantage and give her a complete physical, with specialists volunteering to work on a "star." (Said Dr. David Liang of Stanford's medical school, "Koko is less demanding" than other celebrities.) Afterward, according to an Associated Press reporter, Koko met with her doctors and motioned one woman to come closer. The woman, awed by this brilliant animal, playfully handed Koko her business card, which Koko promptly ate. [ABC News-AP, 8-8-04]"

Friday, September 10, 2004

The World, According to Others

And now, on The World According To Me, a brief peek at the world according to others.

In case that failed to alarm you sufficiently, here is the Sixth Sign of the Apocalypse. As a friend says about green jello, this is just sick and wrong.

Lastly, to honor the back to school atmosphere, here is a quiz to test your film spoiler knowledge. I found I knew both more and less than I thought I did. Don't try to make sense of that, it will only give you a pain behind your right eye.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Twinkies everywhere

OK, this is an emergency! Twinkies going bankrupt?! Does no one recall the scientific advances made during the great twinkie experiments (my favorite being the gravitational test)? For the love of snackfood, people, go buy yourselves some twinkies! It might be your last chance. I just had my first Hostess cupcake in probably 12 years. I'll try not to let the sugar buzz take over the keyboard, but I make no promises.

Perhaps due to this unexpected snackfood stress, a random woman caused Stephan to win this week's Weird Moment of the Week. He was waiting at the corner for me to catch up to him. Out of my sight from farther down the street, I overheard a woman growl at him, "Move!" Stephan looked this way and that, clearly not understanding why she growled at him and where exactly she expected him to go. He said something like, "Well, just go around me," in that tone I recognize as Stephan trying to de-escalate someone who is dangerously close to learning he has had some martial arts training. She again snapped at him, "Move!" At this point I had reached the corner and could see that this was not any of the following scenarios:

*A meth addict who with only one word left in her mental lexicon
*A mother trying to herd many small children in the same direction
* A jogger trying to coax her muscles to go just one more mile

Nope. She was a well outfitted bicyclist, walking her bike along the sidewalk, and just felt that she wanted to go straight and Stephan's presence would have meant she had to veer a whole two feet over. I bet she is a lot of fun for whoever has to deal with her on a daily basis. Great karma there, ya freakin' twinkie!

Speaking of karma points, I am hoping I racked up a few by helping find a hamster a new home. A week or so ago, I was browsing craigslist, and stumbled across an ad looking for a home for "one righteous hamster." The switchboard operator in my head said, "Ah hah!" and connected me with the fact that my friend M has a daughter H, who I heard was interested in adopting a small furry pet but was not sure what kind. Email was sent & no more was thought about it. Then a couple of days ago I got a call that the righteous hamster is now residing with H, who is thrilled and is, herself, righteous. I can't wait to meet this hamster. You know how sometimes there is that sense of being buffeted around life by the unseen hand of fate? Well, this time I am the unseen hand of fate. I know what I would cash those karma points in for, but I don't think we get to choose.

Ugh... sugar crash... must sleep now. More twinkie induced hallucinations tomorrow.