Monday, August 31, 2009

We Live in Conservative Times?

Despite the fact that he's right regarding the failures of conservativism in general, Sam Tenenhaus, the author of The Death of Conservatism, hangs his pragmatic hat on conservatives' inability to limit their remarks to money, and foolish penchant to evoke principles.

Hear the NPR seven minute interview here.

We need the conservatives to ask the tough questions: to be very skeptical about the idea of an ever- growing welfare state, not because it isn’t a virtue in and of itself, but because it can get out of control. That if we have a government that promises us too much, then maybe all the different conflicting demands we have will clash in a way that creates trouble for us. Conservatives should be using this moment to ask in a very reasoned, detailed, logical way, where are the policies of the present administration going to take us? Not are they evil. Not are they socialistic. Not will they deprive us of our freedom, but what will the costs be?
Surely, even Mr. Tanenhaus understands that a policy which deprives us of our freedom is much too high a price to pay. He mentions that the conservatives of old would support using the government to protect the rights of ordinary citizens. That is, in fact, is the only proper function of government. He derides the conservatives for questioning the American-ness of extending health care to a broad mass of citizens.

The crux of the matter is that the government (and not just this administration, but the previous one as well), in funding bail outs for certain industries, creating unwarranted emergency laws with details to be worked out later, and claiming needs as rights, is consistently violating our individual rights with every piece of paper Washington generates.

No matter how much I want something, I do not have the right to take it from you. When a government forces you through taxation or debt spending to provide me with my desire, it has violated your individual rights. This is evil and socialistic and deprives us of our freedom and deserves to be called such. Claiming that the greatest American progress was made in consensus, as Mr. Tenenhaus does, ignores the very issue that is at the heart of the matter: men can no longer own other men in this country.

That triumph of freedom over tyranny came about as the result of a revolutionary war and an horrific civil war. There must never again be a consensus on the amount of slavery we would be willing to accept – unless it is none.

Iliac Furrow

“What,” you may ask, “is an iliac furrow?”

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I’m going to try to describe it for you before I show you. An iliac furrow, alternatively known as Apollo’s belt or the Adonis belt, is the indented line on the human body that runs from the hip bone (aka the iliac crest) to the pubic bone on either side of the abdomen. Can you picture it?

“Why do you care about this?”

For years it has been my second favorite part of a male body (hands first), but until this weekend, I never knew what it was called. Why this weekend? After seeing a stunning sketch of a basically naked male torso, I knew that a line so prominently featured in most beautiful human forms had to have a name, so I went looking for it.

While Henry Grey says the iliac furrow is most pronounced in “fat subjects”, the fact that the more poetic terms are used in art history to describe the area on paragons of the human form makes perfect sense.

The fashion of low slung jeans may well be filling the world with unsightly images of muffin tops, coin slots, and plumber’s cracks, but an unexpected glimpse at the beginnings of well defined iliac furrow can quickly wash all that ugliness away.

This is clearly NOT the stunning sketch (to which someday I hope to provide a link), but a slice of Ruddy & Sallow, an oil painting I did some years ago as an exercise attempting to recreate skin tones. (As you can see, it is difficult to not muddy the colors.)

My favorite iliac furrow is modeled here by my ruddy husband.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In Which I Find Myself Quite Amusing...

but my daughter does not.

Searching one of my three desks (that could be the problem right there) yesterday morning, I blurted out, “I don’t even know where the checkbook for that account is.” Seeing the quizzical look on my daughter’s face, I added, “Oh, I’m just talking to myself.”

“You’re talking pretty loud for someone who’s talking to herself.”

“I’m deaf."

Then I proceeded to laugh hysterically. She, however, did not find me nearly as amusing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Loch Lomond

(Scottish, traditional)

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond
Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

O you'll take the high road and I'll take the low road
And I'll be in Scotland afore ye
For me and my true love will ne-er meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen
On the steep, steep sides o' Ben Lomond
Where deep in purple hue, the hieland hills we view
And the moon comin' out in the gloamin'.

I love this song and was reminded of it this evening by a post on HBL on the singer Deanna Durbin, seen below.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

By Invitation Only

My youngest daughter has her own "by invitation only" blog. She goes through periods where she can't get enough of it, and those when she forgets all about it.

When she does post, she also comments profusely on those posts - immediately after publishing. This may be due to the fact that she has only five readers, and among those, only two of whom read it regularly. Clearly, she thinks comments are the best present ever, even if they are from her.

I think she's very funny (but don't tell her I said that - it'll go straight to her head).

Recently, she's been posting little intelligence tests. Yesterday, I took one of them, regarding animals and bananas, with the results: "You are a moron."

(little Bourque) said...
It's a funny test. I hope you didn't fall for it, though I wouldn't think you were hopelessly stupid. Well, if it was my mum, it'd be close.

August 26, 2009 11:54 AM

LB said...
I'm a moron. This is not something I say lightly. And what the heck do you mean by that last comment?

August 26, 2009 12:35 PM

(little Bourque) said...
Well... I expect a lot from you...

August 26,
2009 1:14 PM

Touché, and thanks for the reminder, kid.

Whatcha doin' on your back?

I seriously had no idea that's what they were saying. The internet is a fabulous place.

This video is only made better by the addition of the youngest Gibb brother, Andy. He was my first major crush. I mean, look at him. Can you blame me?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Online

As it has been too hot for me to go outside lately, I’ve been hanging out on my computer and wanted to share some of the interesting applications of morality to politics I’ve recently read or watched online.

The Good:

On the Peak Oil Malthusian Dilemma (NYT OpEd – I don’t remember what directed me here, but it’s a good refutation of that crisis);

An excellent essay regarding collectivism vs. individualism and Misconstruing the Cause of Waste (found at Pajamas Media);

A moving personal essay on the unseen costs of socialized medicine My Father and Socialized Medicine (found at The New Clarion);

Here is a twenty-four minutes interview with Peter Schiff which I found quite worth my time. His views on the economy and government intervention are not only a breath of fresh air, but terribly exciting when one considers that he is a potential candidate for the CT Senate (also found at The New Clarion, and for the record, I did disagree with two minor points he made).

The Bad:

More waves in the scary Sea of Green threaten to crash on us in Oxygen Depletion and Water Footprints (both via – you guessed it – The New Clarion).

The Ugly:

I mentioned this in a comment on Stephen’s blog post on the same, but you have to watch the obscenity of the sheer destruction of value under the Cash for Clunkers in action.

And how does one judge what is good, bad, or ugly in the realm of politics? I recommend starting with Ayn Rand’s essays on “Man’s Rights” and “The Nature of Government” and go from there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bleeding to Death: The Price of Doing Business

In a startlingly accurate description of the reason for business failure, today’s Boston Globe reports on the demise of Biopure, a Massachusetts biotech company working on a substitute for human blood. The article reports that the company “could never clear regulatory hurdles that would have turned the substitute into a mainstream medical product.”

Hemopure showed many benefits compared with real blood: a three-year shelf life, the ability to be used by patients of any blood type, and freedom from diseases and pathogens that could be transmitted by human blood.

The path to Food and Drug Administration approval, however, was rocky. Although the Navy was interested in using the experimental product to treat military personnel wounded in battle, the FDA consistently rejected efforts by Biopure and the Navy to test it in clinical trials, citing safety worries and other concerns. [emphasis mine]
I’m glad the FDA was on the case because without their power to stop experimentation with the substitute, we may have been unsafe or had some other concerns.

Now we can all just sit here and safely bleed to death without concern.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Stand Alone

(via Facebook friend)

New to Me

I wanted to share this sculpture, Serenity, by Gwen Marcus who is new to me from a blog that is also new to me, art, love, & philosophy.

It's simply beautiful.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It All Adds Up to One Good Morning

3 friends
2 wheels each
15 miles
75 degrees F
95% humidity
1 flat tire
-75 cents
35 other riders
16 walkers
11 dogs
1 suicidal chipmunk
¾ mile with no hands
+ 3 iced coffees with extra cream
One Good Morning

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Quick Video on Open Immigration

While this isn't perfect (for instance, Sweet Caroline is the only Neil Diamond song I find inspirational, and then only at a Red Sox game), I think this is a good video touching on the importance of immigration and the morality of a more open policy based on individual rights.

(via Facebook friend)

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Shackles of Altruism

You want to protect the world from the impacts of man,
You want to give the unfortunate all manner of things,
You want life to be fair, and you think you have a plan.
Your giving requires taking and all that that brings.
You need me to behave in accordance with your will.
You need me to produce and give others what I own.
You need my compliance for your plan to work, and still,
Your giving requires taking, this must be better known.
You compel me to work for the benefit of others.
You compel me to meet law after specious law.
You compel me to replace your will for my druthers,
Your compulsion takes my freedom, but to you, this is no flaw.
You feast on false premises: promoting welfare means giving;
I starve for secured liberty: my fundamental right of living.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nice Shorts

On leaving the hotel room to go to breakfast this morning my youngest daughter said to me, "Nice shorts."

Being a little self-conscious about the whole short-wearing thing, knowing that my shorts were old, but still fit fine, I was pleasantly surprised by the compliment. "Really? You think so?" I asked.

"Yeah. I didn't know the rodeo was in town."

It seems that the closer I get to becoming Miss Patty, my youngest is turning into Emily Gilmore.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bugs, Sweat, & Tears

I just returned from a women's outdoor adventure weekend.

I know what you're thinking: LB, say it ain’t so! You HATE the outdoors! There are bugs, and it’s hot in the summertime, and that makes you crazy (not to mention everyone around you by extension)!

Well, despite your valid concerns, I thought it high time to exorcise my very old demons against outdoor exercise and get better acquainted with a few strategic large muscle groups in my body – bugs, sweat, and tears be damned! So I went.

When I signed up for the weekend, I did not understand the magnitude or implications of the big ‘W’ women’s, little ‘a’ adventure. As time to leave for the weekend drew nearer, I grew increasingly uncomfortable with the unfolding flavor of spiritual self-improvement and female bonding the weekend was to hold – not because those things are bad, but because neither of them really interests me as an organized activity. (I think I may be more like a man in that respect, but that exploration is for another time.) However, as one of the terrific co-organizers of the weekend so wisely said, “This is like a buffet. Take what you want and leave the rest.” I did, and thank you Kathryn and Christine, and the rest of my fun and fabulous Shapleigh bunkhouse roommates for a great weekend.

On to the particulars: Saturday’s hike was 4.3 miles and yielded two really nice waterfalls, Ripley Falls and Arethusa Falls (second highest and highest in the White Mountains, respectively), a ground nest of angry, angry bees (two in our party were stung – happily for all, I was not among them), and the reason hiking boots, as opposed to the thickly lugged summer trekkers, are important. Note to self: any good-soled footwear works on the way up, but the boots tend to better stop your toes from jamming into the front of your shoe on the way down.

I'd be lying if I said that the fact the AMC trail book classified this trail as “difficult” did not send my hand flying to my own back in self-congratulations. Of course, the slap caused tons of sweat magically pooled on that vertical surface to come flying off, so I stopped it immediately. Also, I am aware that the trail to Frankenstein Cliffs may be why it was classified as difficult and we didn’t take that extra 1.6 mile excursion, but that in no way detracts from my personal assessment of satisfaction and well-deserved, if self-sponsored, slap on the back.

Yesterday’s hike was much easier (moderate in the book) and shorter (3.2 miles round-trip), but the payoff was bigger.

This is the view of Crawford Notch from the top of the Mount Willard Trail (usually without me in my stylish fishing hat in the way, but so much more interesting with). Unfortunately it was a hazy day, but the view was nonetheless spectacular in person.

So I not only survived both hikes, but also thoroughly enjoyed the entire weekend. Looking back I’d have to say this is mostly due to a few happy incidentals. My friend, whom I shall refer to as “Jan the mad hiker” (but only here, and probably not ever again) – not because she is crazy, but because she’s like a hiking machine! – set the bar incredibly high. Competition is a very good thing for me; this only furthers my need to write that why can’t a woman be more like a man post someday. My friend, Donna, whose rock collection is the envy of all who know her, kept me laughing and helped me keep things in perspective. Another good thing for me, particularly under extremely humid conditions when I tend to lose my mind at the drop of a fishing hat. And my new friend, Cindy, whose love of early morning coffee, and late afternoon happy hour just about cemented our relationship. Last, but by no means least, there was an amazing and very much appreciated-in-the-moment lack of biting bugs!

I now consider myself to be avid indoorsman with some outdoor skills. In short, I have the best of both worlds (homage to Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus intended).

So, it's off to the therapeutic icy ocean waters of Maine and some new outdoor adventures with the little women for a few days.

Life is good.

À tout à l'heure.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

One Egg is Not Un Oeuf!

Whilst I was gone on a women's adventure weekend (hopefully more on that later), one of my ladies laid an egg! I was both horrified and delighted! Horrified that I was not home for this momentous occasion, and delighted that they're starting to lay! Eggs! Yay!

Stephen found the egg on the ground (not in the lovely nesting boxes he made for them) and had no idea which of the ladies laid the egg. One look at the egg and then at the birds and it wasn't hard for this farmer's wife to tell. It was Barbie.

The eggs (oh,yes - now there are two) are a blue-green typical of an Easter Egger, and Barbie has been doing some rather strange dropping, droopy dances leaving the coop. Until I saw the eggs, I thought it was probably Starburst as she is by far the fattest bird and has taken a mother hen role in the coop. Now that she's started laying I think Barbie needs more time in the coop and less time outside.

Eggs Inthedirt is not a favorite of mine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Swing Time

The other day we were in the car listening to a program called "Swing Time" featuring songs from big bands in the 1940s. We heard a few lively tunes (yes, I'm angry that I can't remember the specific numbers) when my 11 year-old made this interesting observation:

All the old songs are about getting together and all the new songs are about breaking apart.
Clearly, this isn't true in either case, but I thought her differentiation between the upbeat sounds of swing music and the maudlin country-pop she's been listening to an excellent one.

Friday, August 14, 2009


In a child’s mind everyone around her must be at the ready;
Ready to jump into her thoughts when she chooses to give them voice.
I am barely hanging on to the threads of her imagination when,
I suddenly realize that she’s working to make the right choice.

“Then she said she wanted to go, and I was like, ‘Is it the boys?’”
“Do you think Taylor Swift is more country than pop?”
When I work to tune into her frequency, I can omit the noise,
Find the intent, and never want her searching self to stop.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Plan E?

Today we were in a Starbucks waiting for my daughter's first pair of eyeglasses to be made (the Doctor told her that she must wear them when driving the family car or sightseeing - she is 11). Suddenly, without warning or even an attempt at a segue she stated that her "Plan E" is to work at Starbucks.

Of course this prompted my question about her plans A through D.

"Plan A: Actress." I guess I knew that. It was singer until this year.

"Plan B: Writer." I was sort of hoping that this would be Plan A, but as she's 11, there's still time to change her mind.

"Plan C: Creative Writing Teacher-thingy. You know, English Teacher."

Clearly this is an inherited skill as my father, the sign painter, always said, "Words is my business." This was particularly obvious after the "North Shore Retarted Citizens" sign incident.

"Plan D: Marry a rich man."

This is a completely new addition to her plans. Does this mean we have to stop watching Fiddler on the Roof, A&E's Pride & Prejudice, or The Sound of Music?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let’s Talk About Books

It’s summer. I know it’s summer because the hot (brutally humid) weather is finally here. With the hotter weather comes the incessant noise of room air conditioners for those us not fortunate enough to have central air. But don’t cry for me (because I can scarcely hear myself think let alone you crying), for while I can’t possibly watch TV amid this noise, I’ve been reading. Reading, reading.

I’ve already talked about rereading Atlas Shrugged, which, after a few bouts of narcolepsy, I’m happy to report is now progressing nicely. But I’m also reading several other books at the same time (important to note: without confusion between them).


The Food of a Younger Land, by Mark Kurlansky, © 2009.

I finally got this from the library and went straight to the recipes and anecdotes about America’s eating habits as collected during the late 1930s and early 40s. It’s a quirky and interesting collection, and I can’t help but smile at the slices of American life presented. The Automat, a fascinating subject all by itself and one that may bear more research, luncheonette slang, and Mississippi Pear Wine, among other southern libations, are just a few of the fun things you’ll find in this book.

But the biggest story is the raison d’être of the original essays: a collection of “what and how Americans ate” submitted by out-of-work writers employed under the Federal Writers Project as part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration. The 22 page introduction has been by far the most interesting part of the book. The author explains how FDR was able to finagle this project under one federal Emergency Relief Act.

But the Emergency Relief Act had also called for "assistance to eductional and clerical persons; a nation-wide program for useful employment for artists, musicians, actors, entertainers, writers..." By the summer of 1935 Federal Project Number 1, popularly known as Federal One, was under way. It included the Federal Art Project, Federal Music Project, Federal Theater Project, and Federal Writers’ project, all mandated by law in that one barely noticed phrase in the Emergency Relief Act. [emphasis mine]
Remind you of anything? Be afraid. Be very afraid. But not of this book.

The Art of Fiction, by Ayn Rand, © 2000.

Subtitled “A Guide for Writers and Readers”, this book is an edited version of lectures Miss Rand gave in her living room in 1958 (edited by Tore Boeckmann). While I don’t aspire to write fiction just now, I find merely reading the book to be a vigorous exercise in its implications for readers. I am beginning to understand the difference between the Naturalistic (man’s fate is determined: plotlessness) and Romantic (man has free will: good plot structure) schools of writing and the importance of the plot-theme.

There are two ideas that really stand out to me thus far. The first is that no matter what the author says, his premise on the nature of man will show in the structure of his writing. The second is while learning theories of writing may be important, there is no substitute for the practice of writing. She gives some tips and exercises on how to fill your subconscious mind with concretes so that you can access them when necessary to develop your critically important plot-theme.

I am reading it as part of one of my online book clubs, and discussing the ideas presented in it slowly. When I’m done with the book club analysis of it, I plan to go back and read it again. Its 176 pages of Ayn Rand’s extemporaneous lectures are that chock-full of important stuff.


Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll © 2004

I started out this summer determined to read a bodice-ripper. Many years ago – okay, decades ago – my summer project was to read a book with Fabio on the cover (same thing, really). I did and it was just awful! There was no plot to speak of, the characters were vapid, and the sex scenes putrescent. So why try again? Because I thought that with my advanced life experience and wisdom, I would be able to pick out a saucy little story that didn’t make me gag.

On the recommendation of friends, I tried Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, thinking that it would be something I could sink my teeth into. I mean, men in kilts? C’mon! How could you go wrong? Nope. I was surprised to find nothing there which interested me.

And then, from across a crowded Barnes & Noble, I laid my eyes on it. Not for the first time, either. For years I had been aware of, but successfully avoided, its kind. It just sat there, dangerously close to the original ideal, suggesting more than I could hope to ask for. I slowly made my way to the display, lightly pressing each finger purposefully onto its smooth cover, gently turning it over, and ever so casually scanning its back quietly aching to know more. Keeping it low, I ran the spine down the palm of my hand and considered the unlimited possibilities inside. Suddenly unfolding its crisp pages and revealing its promise between my thumbs, I fell prey to its intoxicating new book scent. Finally succumbing to its seduction, I took a deep breath, lifted the book with a decidedly triumphant grasp, and exhaled, “I’m so buying this!”

Well, that was a few weeks ago and so far, despite the fact that it is fan fiction and an unapologetic Edwardian bodice-ripper, it manages to remain true to the characters and perfectly fills the bill of a saucy summer read.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger © 2004

Finally, I am reading this book as part of my neighborhood book club. I wanted to read it for a while and have been quite pleased with it thus far. Fair warning: unless you are an experienced time traveler – time travel reader, that is – it can get a little confusing and may require some back and forth reading to figure out what’s going on, but that hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of it yet.

The whole temporal shift thing never seems to end well, but I really can't tell exactly where it's going. The title character meets her husband for the first time when he is a fully-formed adult and she is only six, and obviously, many times after that. Then when she is 19, she meets him in real time but he does not yet know who she is. Confused? Don’t be. The author does a much better job describing the quickly changing times by putting a date (or dates) and ages before the scene.

Even better, if I end up liking it, I get to see the movie which opens this Friday.

I usually enjoy a good novel-turned-movie.

Okay, your turn.

Monday, August 10, 2009

History Through Art

Not to be confused with Art History, History Through Art is a unique program where art is used as the tool through which to learn history. My daughter has done this on an elementary level for some years now. I know the solid connections she's made between her history class and the art work discussed.

To learn more about the program, please visit History At Our House.

I'll be there and I'm very excited about it! Hope to hear some of you there, too.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mining Daydreams

The rain has gone, and with it goes my naked soul.
The time has come to dress and stand out in the sun.
One would not eclipse the other if I were living whole;
Light now burns away what I thought to leave undone.

I mine my daydreams for bits of Truth I unearth,
For it, like me, cannot keep underground well.
While I flirt with Possibility for all it is worth,
I recognize illusion is no place for one to Dwell.

So what studied Truth has my wandering mind shown?
What exciting new path must I now define?
No more than this reminder of what I’ve always known:
No less than my one life, body and soul, is mine.

Without fear of indulging what my half-life might reveal,
You watched as I collected, both embracing what is Real.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Art by David Knowles

Found at Not PC, the art of David Knowles from New Zealand speaks to me. It's beautiful and uplifting - exactly what art should be.

To Fly

Creativity with Beauty and Joy

Check out more of his work here. And then to Not PC where I discovered Mr. Knowles' work through the post introducing Candle, one of Mr. Knowles' latest paintings. It's stunning.

Friday, August 7, 2009


In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, and at the request of Kelly Elmore at Reepicheep's Coracle, I am herein posting the only picture of myself breastfeeding that I have. I'm sorry to report that it is quite discreet, but I think the image wonderfully illustrates the beautiful bond between mother and child that breastfeeding fosters.

My husband painted it when our daughter was four months old and I get to see it every morning when I wake up. The name of the painting is the title of this post.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It Can't Happen Here

The Separation of Church and Church-State

Picking up where my post She is Not Taught by Laws regarding John Locke’s A Letter Concerning Toleration ended, I’d like present the following bit from one paragraph in that same document for your consideration:

We have already proved that the care of souls does not belong to the magistrate. Not a magisterial care, I mean (if I may so call it) which consists in prescribing by laws and compelling by punishments. But a charitable care which consists of teaching, admonishing, and persuading which cannot be denied unto any man. The care, therefore, of every man’s soul belongs unto himself, and is to be left unto himself. But what if he neglect the care of his soul? I answer: What if he neglect the care of his health or the care of his estate, which things are nearlier related to the government of the magistrate than the other? Will the magistrate provide an express law that such a one not become poor or sick?
What seemed like reductio ad absurdum to Mr. Locke has become the order of today’s absurd America. He goes on to say,

Laws provide in as much as possible that the goods and health of subjects not be injured by the fraud and violence of others; they do not guard them from the negligence or ill-husbandry of the possessors themselves. No man can be forced to be rich or healthful whether he will or no. Nay, God himself will not save men against their wills.
He expands upon this ridiculous notion by saying that then everyone must become a victualer because victualers make good money and that everyone must get his “potion” and “broth” from only a specific shop as is deemed so by law.

But it may be said that there are a thousand ways to wealth but only one way to heaven. It is well said, indeed, especially by those that plead in compelling men into this or the other way. For if there were several ways that lead thither, there would not be so much of a pretense left for compulsion.
Is he talking about the church’s need for compulsion, or our current church-state’s need for compulsion?

The Bastardization of Our Founding Fathers

Beyond the wisdom of Locke which informed our Founding Fathers and which has all but disappeared from modern America, today I was alerted to this post from the White House Briefing Room blog (via RationalJenn on Facebook) dated yesterday:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to [emphasis mine]

Let me re-emphasize that:

These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to
Worse than reporting your neighbors for disagreeing with the President’s proposed massive government takeover of the healthcare industry euphemistically referred to as "healthcare reform" is the sickening use of the words of John Adams to put a veneer of liberty on this disgusting perversion of it: Facts are stubborn things. (Perhaps the writer of this post was inspired by Adams' passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, but that would assume a certain appreciation of the history of this country.)

My only solace in this back door attack on the freedom of speech is that facts are, indeed, stubborn things.

Feel free to send this post to the Whitehouse. Let's see what constitutes sedition today.

The Water is Wide

English (possibly Scottish) traditional

The water is wide, I cannot get o’er.
And neither have I wings to fly.
Build me a boat, that will carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

[I leaned my back up against an oak,
I thought it was a trusty tree.
But first it bent, and then it broke,
And so my love did unto me.]

There is a ship, and she sails the sea.
She’s loaded deep, as deep can be.
But not so deep, as the love I’m in.
I know not how I sink or swim.

Love is handsome, and love is fine.
And love’s a jewel when first it’s new.
But love grows old, and waxes cold,
And fades away, like morning dew.

Because it is a folksong, the words have been altered over the years and are sung at the discretion of the performer. The beauty of this piece is not in the ultimately sad story it tells, but its ability to instantly evoke pensive reflection when set to its traditional tune.

Hear it performed by James Taylor here.
Hear a guitar instrumental version here.

Since I’ve been going to James Taylor concerts since I was 15, it’s quite possible that my strong reaction to this piece is really just to the sound of his voice, but I think it’s more than that. I sang it in junior chorus when I was in eighth grade and thought it was beautiful then. (By way of contrast, we also sang Can’t Smile Without You by Barry Manilow and I didn’t love that!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Fun With Her Cell Phone

My daughter has recently discovered the art of self-portraiture using her cell phone. Not one to be satisfied with the standard images, she has begun experimenting with the filters and seemed most fond of these two macabre photos that she shared with me last night.

Using the AQUA filter, here she is representing her blue period.

Before you faint, let me assure you that her right pupil is not blown, nor is one eye larger than the other. It's just a product of funky lighting and a bad lens. Did I mention that she's a big Tim Burton fan? (But even she didn't realize how scary it was until I showed her on my computer screen.)

But this one, using the NEGATIVE filter is even scarier if possible. She calls it "An Accidental Picture of Me and Jesus" because that's exactly what it was.

Did I also mention that she has never seen The Blair Witch Project? Me neither, but this is what I imagine it to look like.

When not snapping scary self-portraits, she can usually be found blowing bubbles on the back porch, playing Vivaldi on her violin in the living room, or writing the words to Broadway songs on the whiteboard. After looking at these photos, I thought you'd want to know that.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Buffy v. Edward

My friend posted this to facebook this afternoon. It's not exactly new, but I hadn't seen it before and just can't resist posting it here. My fondness for Edward Cullen and the Twilight series having been documented elsewhere, as has my affection for the work of Joss Whedon, I found this remixed nexus between them to be hilarious.

The moral of the story? Intense feelings built on the the smell of edibility and an inability to read another's mind is always trumped by the kick-ass, no-nonense chick.

Don't even get me started on the sparkly skin!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rereading Atlas Shrugged

Immediately after OCON09, Stephen and I started rereading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Together. At night. Out loud. To each other.

Despite the fact that our last read-aloud endeavor, The Three Musketeers, failed miserably in that we read almost the entire novel only to abandon it in the last 25 pages due to a serious lack of interest in the characters, plot resolution, or even having the satisfaction of finishing the book, I thought rereading AS together would be great summer project. I call it Project Atlas Snugged. (Hey, I heard that groan, which is why I didn’t use that for the title of this post.)

We both love the novel, wanted to reread it, and enjoy each other’s company. But, boy, was I wrong about it being a great summer project.

First, I think we read Dumas in the winter when the house was cold and invigorating rather than warm and sticky, making all that togetherness somehow a little less enjoyable. Secondly, unless Stephen’s voice becomes suddenly less somniferous to me, and mine to him, it’s clear that we’re going to have to take a new approach if we want to get it done this year, let alone this summer.

Perhaps we shouldn’t read it in the hammock after a big dinner, or when we’ve gotten only five hours of sleep the night before, which leaves Saturday and Sunday as the only possible evenings to read without danger of someone passing out immediately. Turning in at 5:30 every night and taking vacation days for the rest of the summer to read it are not viable options.

In order to alleviate some of the minor issues early on, we moved from the fine print mass market paperback to the lovely, larger Centennial Edition, and that helped a little. And now that the Agatha Christie series on PBS has run its course, our Sunday nights are free again, so I think we need to give it another strong push forward. The real problem is that even when we’re quite awake, able to see, and attentively listening to each other, we can’t help but discuss different aspects and nuances that we hadn’t seen or considered before, thus interrupting the all important flow. That, and Stephen’s villains are all slow-talkers which makes me either laugh or want to smack him every time he reads their dialogue depending on my tolerance level for slow-talkers at that moment.

Perhaps we should listen to the book on CD, read along in our own copies of the book, and hold the discussion for between the chapters. Of course, we could read it on our own and then discuss – but anyone, anywhere can do that. So we persist.

Cool cover on the unabridged
book on CD read by Scott Brick

Darn! I wish that Mr. Gilmore had read the entire novel, rather than an abridged version. I would have liked to have heard him attempt to give voice to Dagny Taggart. I’m odd that way.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I've Been MadMenned

I often wonder about the structure of language and how standard usage expands and contracts. But this post is about how I transformed myself into a cartoon MadMen character. I’m the one in red.

Sure, I look like a cross between my grandmother and Anne Bancroft in The Graduate, but I’m good with that. I dislike the hair, but it came with the hat – and you know I had to have that hat! On the plus side, I have a fabulous furry dead thing around my neck, my legs are spectacular, and Don Draper seems to like me. Who could ask for anything more - you know- in a cartoon world?

If you’re a MadMen fan, you should go to MadMenYourself right now and get your own MadMen icon! If you’re not, I can completely understand. There are no heroes in the show (with the possible exception of Joan Holloway, the curvy office manager in the blue, and perhaps once Bertram Cooper who is now more doddering than dazzling), but it is compelling to watch nonetheless. The ubiquitous smoking, incessant drinking, routine philandering, and rigid corporate and social roles may at first seem too offensive to enjoy, but its capture and presentation of a strangely conflicted period in American cultural history is gripping.

Season 3 premieres Sunday, August 16th on AMC at 10PM. Don’t miss the at-home date night opportunity.

Speaking of strangely conflicted (and date night), here is an interesting juxtapostion of values we saw at our nearest Barnes & Noble last night: adjacent displays commemorating man's landing on the moon and his rolling in the mud.