November 26, 2005

Why do they so not get it?

Dear Pope Benedict,

Once again, the Vatican has demonstrated that ignorance holds the day. Doesn't anybody read a dictionary? Use their brain? Think?

Since the answer is obviously 'no', allow me first to introduce some working definitions:

celibacy: abstaining from sexual relations, as due to religious vows

homosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the same sex

heterosexual: being sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex

pedophilia: an adult who is sexually attracted to children

children: immature young; applies to both males and females

If priests are to be celibate, then they are to be celibate. That means no sexual relations with men, women or children, period, regardless of sexual orientation, preference, or predilection.

A married man who engages in normal heterosexual relations with his wife, who also molests his daughters and/or step-daughters and/or any underage female child whether or not related to him, is a pedophile.

A single heterosexual man who may or may not from time engage in normal heterosexual relations with an adult female, who has a predilection for underage female children, is a pedophile.

A married man who engages in normal heterosexual relations with his wife, who also molests his sons and/or step-sons and/or any underage male child whether or not related to him, is a pedophile.

A single heterosexual man who may or may not from time engage in normal heterosexual relations with an adult female, who has a predilection for underage male children, is a pedophile.

A homosexual man, who may or may not from time to time engage in normal heterosexual relations with an adult male, who has a predilection for underage male children, is a pedophile.

A adulterer is a married man who, while still married, has heterosexual or homosexual relations with an adult man or woman.

Adulterers may be heterosexual or homosexual.

Pedophiles may be heterosexual or homosexual.

Banning homosexuals from the priesthood strictly because they are homosexual, ignores the fact that some priests have abused female children, and some have had sexual relations with adult women. It also ignores the fact that heterosexual men sexually abuse male and female children, either preferentially or indiscriminately.

Banning homosexuals will not do a damn thing to curb the abuses of priests that are assuredly still going on, nor do anything to improve the Church's or Vatican's image or relations with the young and adult survivors of priest abuse who have already come forward.

It will, however, be yet another example of the Vatican and Church turning its back on a problem rather than taking an active role in dealing appropriately with it, dragging the Church back into the Middle Ages rather than out of it.

While I have your ear, may I ask a question that has been puzzling me for some time? I understand that nuns are considered "brides of Christ", symbolically wedding Christ when they take their vows. If nuns are brides of Christ, who are priests husbands of? Or are they stand-ins for God? And why is this whole thing so creepy and smacking of misogynism and paternalism?

And, please, before you tell me "well, the bible says homosexuality is an abomination" and not to be condoned or permitted, what about all the other things proscribed in the bible? all the things we are supposed to do? Or is it acceptable for the Catholic church and fundamental Christians, like radical and fundamental Moslems, to pick and choose what they want to observe and try to force others to abide by from their respective holy books?

For instance, how about the points covered in this?

The following is from my neice, Soma. It is nice to know that, nature or nurture, some things hold true through the family tree...

November 14, 2005

Pompous bureacracy at its best: HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt

On Neil Cavuto today, Cavuto opened a segment on Medicare Part D by saying that he understood that it was very complicated, then segued into his introduction of HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, calling him the White House's point-man on Medicare Part D.

When asked if Part D was complicated, Secretary Leavitt showed that he is just as disconnected from reality as that other Federal Michael so lately in the news, FEMA's Michael Brown.

This pompous, unctuous Michael told us that "some things in life are complicated. Registering your car is complicated Signing up for cable TV is complicated." So, Medicare Part D might be a little complicated, but that's okay. All you have to do is call Medicare and let them figure it out for you, or go to the Medicare website and let the website run the numbers for you. Sure, there are a couple of choices, but it's easy and everyone will benefit!

Well, clearly here is a man who never registered a car or signed up for cable TV service, and he sure as hell never tried using the Medicare website or talked to the poor folks answering Medicare's Part D question lines. If he had registered a car or signed up for cable TV service, there is no way he could have said, with a straight face, that researching a plan approved by Medicare Part D was no more complicated.

Oh. Wait. I forgot. He was appointed by President Bush. Silly me.

Well, then, it will do no good to complain, but, what the hell!

Michael Leavitt
Secretary, Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free to DHHS: 1-877-696-6775
Please be aware that mail sent to federal offices in the Washington D.C area offices takes an additional 3-4 days to process due to changes in mail handling resulting from the Anthrax crisis of October 2001.

In California, Mr. Secretary, there are 52 plans I have to checks out to see if any cover any of the maintenance drugs I must take daily. I must also see if any of those will cover some of the drugs I am likely to be prescribed in the next 12 months, as my doctor prescribes new treatment protocols to battle my infections.

So, the computer literate semi-geek that I am, I went to the website last week and started trying to find my way around the system.

What I found was that the website wasn't working - it was making my type in my 8 drugs each time I wanted to check out a specific plan. So, I called Medicare and got a nice, very harried man who apologized for not being able to help me, but they only got to see for one half hour a couple of weeks ago the online system those of us with computer access are supposed to be using to "run the numbers".

So, I tried it again today. This time, I only had to type in my drugs once. I was then presented with the list of 52 plans, with the Medicare Advantage ones mixed in with the prescription drug-only plans.

Now, I'm real happy Medicare wants to respect my privacy, so that the identifying information I had to type in at the beginning of the process was (supposedly) discarded once the system determined what plans to present to me. But that also means that if I get tired out or the pain got to be too much, I'd loose all that input and data, and would have to key in all that information again the next time I was able to get to the computer, including typing in all my drugs and their doses, in order to bring up that list again, because there is no way to save it with all the hyperlinked information still available.

What I did was to go into all 52 plans (well, that's a lie - I skipped the four with the highest monthly premiums), expanded all "Show Details" links, and PDFd them.

I now get to sit down and try to figure out what it all means, including terms I have yet to see defined (Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3). And try to figure out why most of the plans are not covering, or covering in Tier 2, inexpensive commonly and widely available generic muscle relaxers that I have to take every single day, drug that have no mood or mind altering side effects and are not horrendously expensive. Ditto thyroid hormones.

I will also have to go back online, input all the information again, so that I can get the same listing brought up again to look at all the information that was not printed out: notes linked under the plans' names and addresses; the lists of participating pharmacies, and other stuff available through drop-down menus I didn't take the time to figure out my first time around because, as it was, it had taken me nearly an hour just to do the input and PDF everything.

I have a much better idea, Mr. Leavitt. How about if I register your next car, and get your new cable service contract squared away, while you go through the 48 plans and my prescriptions and figure out which one both covers the most of my drugs at the best price for me. Sounds like a fair trade of services to me, given how complicated registering a car and ordering cable is…

Michael Leavitt
Secretary, Health and Human Services
200 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free to DHHS: 1-877-696-6775
Please be aware that mail sent to federal offices in the Washington D.C area offices takes an additional 3-4 days to process due to changes in mail handling resulting from the Anthrax crisis of October 2001.

November 07, 2005

Decisions are made by those who show up.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 is election day here in California. I do hope all you Californians are getting out the vote today, so as not to waste the $80 million this election is costing California taxpayers.

You can drop your voted absentee ballot (in the completed and SIGNED and sealed) at any precinct tomorrow in the county in which you are registered, or at the Registrar of Voter's office (in the county in which you are registered), from 7 AM to 8 PM. It's too late to mail it in if you haven't already done so. If you live in one county and work in another, you have to deliver your absentee ballot to a precinct in the county in which you are registered.

If you have spoiled your absentee ballot, or decided that you want to vote at the polls instead, be sure to bring your absentee ballot and the envelopes with you: you need to surrender them. If you forget to bring them, you'll have to spend a little time getting set up with a Provisional/Fail Safe ballot. Be sure to bring a couple of forms of ID and a utility bill with you to present to the precinct worker who will be helping you with this.

For those not on absentee status, the Sample Ballot booklet you received several weeks ago has the name and address of your assigned polling place printed on the back cover.

If you registered too late to receive one, you should have received a postcard with that information - be sure to bring it with you, as the folks working there will need the peel-off label stuck to it.

If you've forgotten where you put the Sample Ballot, you can look up your polling place online, at the RoV site:

Sonoma County residents: > Polling Place/Sample Ballot Lookup

All others can find a link to their county RoV through the Secretary of State's site:

Remember: If you are eligible to register and chose not to, or did but are choosing not to vote, you abrogate your right to complain. Yes, your right to complain is still covered by the First Amendment, but those of us who did vote ain't gonna listen to ya.

Viva la Collaborateurs!

You gotta love the French.

When my parents visited France for their one and only time (well, it was my dad's second, his first being when he was in the US Army, during WWII), it was during the 1967 student riots.

While they were there, the sights they came to see, like Versailles and the Louvre, the Tour Eiffel, were all closed, closely guarded by the gendarmes and military. When my parents, who had witnessed some of the riots first-hand, asked the guards why these places were closed, they were stiffly informed that they were undergoing minor maintenance or cleaning. The cops on the street insisted everything was fine, everything is normal. So did the concierges and others who whose work involved them closely with tourists.

Things got so "normal" that my parents, in order to get out of the country (Orly being closed for cleaning, apparently), finally found a taxi who decided he might as well profit from the normal situation and agreed to drive my parents to Belgium.

When they reached the French border, the French border guards were….taking a cleaning break, and so refused to exit my parents out of the country, while berating them for wanting to leave France because France is the greatest country on hearth. The Belgian border guards finally took pity on my parents, and got them across into Belgium and on their way. This was not the first such rescue by the Belgians, who had become accustomed to their French counterparts, uhm, cleaning frenzy.

What was the trigger for the current riots? A typical "let's blame anyone but those responsible" reaction. Two Muslim teens, one of whom was wanted by the police, hid from the searching officers in a power substation. One of the teens was accidentally electrocuted. So, of course, it makes perfect sense to start destroying people's cars, stores, even schools, and attack non-Muslims, including firefighters trying to contain and put out the, with baseball bats, pick axes, stones, and pellet guns. And Molotov cocktails.

Combined with the typical French reaction (clap hands firmly over the ears, squeeze shut the eyes, and sing La Marseillaise as loud as possible), one could say that this was a conflagration that was bound to happen. The only surprise thus far is that neither size has (yet) blamed Zionists, Jews, Israel, or the US (Bush specifically or the American public in general).

A short while ago on the news, I heard an American reporter say words to the effect that, while the French ignored the riots for the first week or so, they were now acknowledging there might be a problem - now that Paris itself is burning.

In a brief statement on Sunday, Day 11 of the riots, his first public statement since the beginning of the riots, Chirac indicated, "that the government intended to address the alienation, unemployment and neglect contributing to the explosion of rage in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods." Might I suggest that the French begin by examining their own role in alienating pretty much everyone else in the world?

The Dutch are facing the same problems with Muslims who ghettoized themselves in The Netherlands, as highlighted in this L.A. Times article, Shaking the Pillars of Islam, about Dutch Parliament member Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides

L'opprobre de tous les partis

November 03, 2005

Who is running the TSA???

Michael Brown? New Orleans' Mayor Nagin, perhaps? Kofi Annan?

How else to account for the TSA giving serious consideration to allowing air passengers to once again carry on board small knives, scissors, corkscrews, box cutters, and other sharp and sharpened objects whose sole purpose is to pierce or cut things?

Their reasoning? To speed up the lines because people keep forgetting and are bringing these things aboard on their person or in their hand luggage.

If people, four years after 9/11, are still forgetting that these things aren't permitted on airplanes and stupid enough to be carrying them on them or in their hand luggage, not only do they deserve to have them confiscated, but they should also be strip searched, cavity searched (on general principles) and then sent to the back of the line and get searched again. Ah, heck: send 'em home to think on the error and stupidity of their ways, before being allowed to board any public carrier.

In all the years I've flown and my family has flown, not once has any of us needed a knife, razor blade in any form, or scissors. When the men wanted to shave, they used electric shavers. Knitters have small decorative rotary cutters with no exposed sharp edges that can accidentally or on purpose cut any one (though we might be able to bore non-knitters to death talking about our projects).

The only possible excuse anyone may have for carrying any of the objects that have been confiscated by TSA since the planes started flying again after 9/11 is if they can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they've been holed up in cave somewhere without any access to any type of human contact or communication. And since the world's too damn small for that now, the only reason for anyone carrying such things is that they intend harm, or they're idiots. Neither should be allowed to fly.

Well, unless they're drugged unconscious, fully restrained, locked in a explosives-prooof box, and shipped in the cargo hold.

November 01, 2005

And now, for a humor break...

Okay, I admit it: I've been a bit rabid lately, but damn! How can anybody with half a functioning brain (let alone a fully functional one) not be rabid at the crap that goes on around here!

Before we get to the humor section of tonight's program, let me take a moment to just say these two things:

1. Grown men who still call themselves and are called by the name of Scooter should never be given high government or corporate positions.

2. I have one word for the Republicans: Karma, baby. Okay, that was two. But, still...


A few days ago, my new friend Knat posted photos of her desk area in her blog. She claims that the condition was unusual, but, well, I have my doubts. So, I took a look around, found my desk area to look pretty much the way all my desks have looked for the past 30 years or so, and thought I'd document it for posterity. Or hilarity. Or shock value. Whatever works for ya.

I used to have the typical computer work desk - as the computer and monitors got bigger, desk space got smaller and smaller. I ended up writing my Iguanas for Dummies book on my (now woefully outdated) laptop while sitting on the couch, all my books 'n things spread out around me, my feet braced against the coffee table so my back wouldn't hurt. The upshot: a completed book, severe exacerbation of carpal tunnel and ulnar impingement in both arms, bursitis in both shoulders, and a torn plantar fascia in my right foot. And the decals on the laptop keys worn off (apparently Toshiba doesn't expect people to really work on their Satellite laptops). When I got the second half of the book advance upon the publisher's receipt of an acceptable manuscript, I bought myself a new desk, a glorious U-unit with a lowered sliding keyboard tray, and a three drawer file cabinet to stash under it. Ah, bliss.

The Back

My computer on the far left, a little stack of storage drawers with my blood pressure machine and DSL modem on top, my printer/scanner, a stack of Win XP and MS Office books under the lamp, and a blanket I'm knitting for a friend, which is sitting atop my headsets and microphones that stopped working for some reason. Oh, I'm sure they are working just fine - just not in my computer. They did, then they didn't. FM. Grrrrrowl. On top of my computer is a blue iguana bobblehead statue designed by Joel Friesch for the Blue Iguana Recovery Program. The posters up on the wall (which, okay, you can't see) are by Charles "Chick" Lynn Bragg: Last Oasis, and City Limits. I have a couple prints of his: The Emperor Takes A Leak, and Cheyenne Scout. Chick creates beautiful things, with a heavy emphasis on the natural world. His father, also Charles Bragg, is also a prolific, often humorous artist.

And, to the Left...

Did I mention that the weight of less than half my books already broke one 7ft high bookcase, with my remaining one breaking as well? Most of my books are taking up a good portion of the living and dining room, but there are some that live between my desk and what used to be my old printer stand, but now hold more books and my phone. Along with being the place where my shredder lives, there also lives the cone of yarn feeding my friend's blanket-in-the-making, along with bags of yarn holding other projects-in-progress, including the acrylic I'm using to make blanket squares for the Valley of the Moon Children's Home. An ongoing project of the Sonoma County Knitting Guild and other local fiber groups is to create enough knit, crochet and quilted squares so that each child gets a blanket of their own to use there and take with them when they leave.

The Return

I take a lot of meds and supplements over the course of the day, so when I can find something I need to take that also comes in a chewable or sublingual form, I grab it. Hence a few things you see here. My hands also get really chapped, and I get fungal infections from blisters that form after contact with photocopy toner, newsprint and inks, and some other chemicals used in papers. Coconut oil has some natural antifungal properties (and for me works better than tea tree oil), and so that's one of my gotta-have-on-hand along with the hand lotions that do the best job on my hands.

Above the Return

Yes, this was taken on a different day, for those of you who noticed that the afternoon's glass mug has been replaced by the morning's thermal thingie. There's also a container of my currently favorite nut mix (pistachios, almonds, toasted coconut ribbons, dried cranberries and blueberries). Behind them are a couple of containers holding some more supplements. The white plastic basket holds a variety of note pads, knitted sock measurement cheat sheet, this 'n that. The white board above holds a variety of papers, a nice iguana postcard, a Junior Deputy Sheriff 'badge', some vinyl gloves that I try to remember to use so I don't have to use as much coconut oil, some yarn from a hat a friend knitted for me, a calendar, and a stack of prescriptions to be filled. Above that is one of my favorite posters. Every county has one, at least in California, but I like Marin County's the best: You BOOZE, You CRUISE, You LOSE! Avoid the Marin 13.

To the left there is my goddog's butt, from the photo I shot February 2005 at a sliver of beach on the outer spit of Bodega Bay (on the first day of crab season...mmmmm!):

Moving Right Along...

Oh! Look! A photo of my desk top Desktop. Anyway, if it does nothing, it shows that I do actually work with all this stuff so it does migrate from place to place. Here, too, you can see that my knitting stuff has insinuated itself into my computer stuff. That's because I knit at my desk. Keep moving towards the left, and you will see my knitting needles, the resistance bands in the background (used to work out some of the typing and knitting kinks), more meds ::sigh::, and the nut container, clearly more ham than nut. Well, maybe both. Oh! And there's the yarn leftover from my Halloween Worm scarf.

I cropped off the left part of this photo, because it had a big bright blur that was some guy on Fox News (hey! I also watch MSNBC and CNN, so keep your comments civil, okay?). So you're missing the stack of magazines, books awaiting BookCrossing registration before I set them free, and the pillow that apparently has taken up residence on my desk. Upon it go my feet when I lean back in my chair for my nightly knitting therapy. Or when I'm talking on the phone.

Now, I don't want to hear about "messy desks, messy minds" because my desks have always looked like this and I used to be able to think in decision trees and flowcharts. I also have a long standing interest in archaeology. Now that I can no longer go work on digs, my desk has become my surrogate excavation.

Well, now, wasn't that fun? Enjoy it while it lasts: I'm feeling the need to chew nails coming on...and I don't mean the ones on my fingers.