22 February 2009

Neighborhood fauna.

There is a variety of wildlife in my neighborhood. Besides the battalions of squirrels and birds, there are rabbits, a raccoon that lives in the storm sewer at the end of the street, a cute feral cat, and my favorites: the resident opossum and chipmunk.
With those guys in mind, I have a habit of leaving certain viable food scraps like leftover popcorn, rice, cornbread, broccoli stems, and grapes out on the driveway — everybody's gotta eat. It's kinda interesting to see what's popular and what isn't.
The other day I made a pot of miso soup and had a quantity of canned bamboo shoots left. Those also went on the driveway.
We were talking about the arrival of the spring birds this morning, and I told Beloved that the bamboo shoots had been surprisingly popular. 
She looked at me and said, "Oooooo! We must have Pandas!"

13 February 2009

My Crusty Valentine.

Call me daddy.

It happened like this: Bea first became besotted with Rachel Maddow during the election season, and kept shushing us when she was on the television machine. But his efforts weren't altogether successful. 
In an attempt to be helpful, I said quite loudly, "Shut UP! Daddy's talking."
Like an epiphany, we all realized that Rachel Maddow is like...totally a daddy. So the nickname stuck.
We've decided to take this national. Your help is appreciated.

Lies, lies, lies.

Ring...ring
What's up?
Sweetie, a light came on in my car!
What's it look like?
It's red, and it's in the speedometer.
What's it say?
It's got a picture of...something square. It's got a thing on top and another thing on the side.
Um, okaaaayyyy. I have no idea what that means. Take a picture and send it to me. How's it running? Does it smell funny?
It runs okay. It doesn't smell.
Does it have oil?
[pause]  I think so.
Yeah. Why don't you go check?
[really long pause] Um...how would I do that?
"How would I do that?" Are you kidding me? All those times I asked you whether you checked you oil you were lying to me?
Yes.
Honey! Dammit.

11 February 2009

Happy Birthday, Beloved!

Beloved sends me: Put this up. It can be your bday present to me.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Okay, baby. You got it. 

I wish it was more accurate. They're not getting divorced. They don't get the decency of a legal dissolution and fair division of assets. They're being nullified. Everything they did, planned, and invested...never happened. They were never more than legal strangers. It's shockingly mean-spirited.

Your religion isn't mine.

As America debated abolition, Christians were on both sides. 
The pro-slavery Christians had the easier argument because the Bible supported their position. The abolitionists had to make the more difficult argument that slavery was just wrong regardless of what the Bible says.
In the ensuing decades, the abolitionist's argument has become so completely integrated into the collective modern psyche, that scarcely any American today believes that God wants some people to own other people. 
Yet there remains plenty of Christians who believe the Bible can't be wrong. Candidly, it amuses me when a black Christian makes the "literal Bible" argument. A friend of mine used to drop by and talk religion. She is a member of one of those churches. One day I asked her what her church's position on slavery was, since slavery is endorsed in the infallible Bible. She said she couldn't answer, but would ask her pastor. She quit dropping by. Oops.
The current iteration of this debate regards marriage equality. Christians are found on both sides. Once again, the anti-equality Christians use the Bible to support their position, and their churches have decided that their doctrines should govern not only the members of their congregations, but the rest of us as well.
Unfortunately, it's the nature of all individuals and institutions that presume to "know what's best" to continuously try to impose their ways on the rest of us who imagine that we know how to manage our own affairs. The First Amendment and the principle of Separation of Church & State are supposed to shield us from being governed by clergy on behalf of a dogma.
The arguments against marriage equality are, in my experience, almost exclusively religious. Because of that, they cannot be imposed or enforced by the state. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment says the state shall not promote any religious belief, or endorse any religious position. The state may, for example, ban the consumption of alcoholic beverages for health and safety reasons, but not on the basis that the Koran forbids it. It may criminalize murder on the basis that it harms society, but not on the basis that the Torah forbids it. It may void certain marriages for want of legal capacity, but not on the basis that the Bible forbids it. 
Further, the state cannot enforce the religious beliefs of the majority upon the minority. To do so would make the state the enforcement arm of the religious majority.
Ken Starr, on behalf of the anti-equality forces, must recognize that such religious arguments that endorse discrimination aren't going to work on California Supreme Court justices. He's framing the argument thus:
"What is being argued before the California Supreme Court is: Do the people have power under the California constitution to amend the constitution so as to overturn a specific decision of the California Supreme Court? It's a very important but nonetheless different issue than the underlying constitutional issue of the right to marry someone of the same sex."
Starr inquires, "is there a constitutional right to marry someone of the same sex?" 
Not specifically. Nor is there a specific constitutional right to marry a lefty. The right to marry generally is fundamental (not in the Constitution), and Loving v. Virginia said that the right meant the ability to marry the partner of one's choice, not to be limited by physical characteristic.
Starr inquires, "can the plebiscite overturn the Supreme Court?"
Where the court is not making a determination of constitutionality, perhaps. The Supreme Court's purpose is to interpret the constitution after poring over detailed adversarial briefs, doing independent research, listening oral arguments, and engaging in debate with other jurists. Having the public read a few sentences and vote based on how they "feel" is no substitute for an appellate court's process. Frankly, it's an insult to the judicial system, and not a question that the justices are likely to answer in the affirmative.
They should lose. Doesn't mean that they will.

08 February 2009

Kultural Korner

Last night The Fun Bunch went out for bar trivia. The host was a disappointing substitute, and it took them an hour to get the microphone working. The questions were insipid, G.E.D. crap. Thank god we won. I'd have been equal parts depressed and horrified if we hadn't.
We retired back to my crapshack and ended up watching The Soup, which led us to RuPaul's Drag Race.
RuPaul's Drag Race
is not only the most colossal Hot Tranny Mess on TV, even better, it is also an unrelenting, unrepentant satire of Top America's Next Model.
Hell, I just assumed that TANM was so inherently absurd it was parody-proof. Not so. 
And it's clear that RuPaul was born to play Tyra Banks. It's still early in the show, so I'm certain the queens are pulling their punches. Even so, my new favorite dis is "regional." 
Two words: Tammie Brown. LOLWUT! Oh sweetie, when you're going for "sexy," you might want to avoid a high-necked, long-sleeved, floor-length everything.
All of this means that RPDR debuted at #25 on my TiVo Season Pass Manager, making it a contender for The Greatest Show of 2009. 
I love kulture.

06 February 2009

Taking a stand against equality.

In 1776, when we packed up England's stuff and put it on the curb, we left a note of explanation.

Dear England,

This isn't working out. Out of respect for the relationship we once had, it's only fair to tell you why. You don't treat me like your equal. But I am your equal. 

With that in mind, I'm going to focus on my own happiness. There is a litany of crap you've done to made the relationship untenable. In short, you're selfish, mean, abusive, and you don't deserve me. I warned you, but you ignored me. I'm finished warning. I realize you're probably upset. If you want to turn this into a war, fine. If you want to be friends, that's better. 

Regardless, I'm on my own now. I've changed the locks.

Your former colony

Ultimately, that's what the Declaration of Independence is — a break-up letter. It's even structured in pretty much that order. (I omitted the bit about the "merciless Indian Savages," but it'd fall under "...and I hate your friends, too." I digress.)

It was the lack of equality that really pissed the founders off. Says so in the first and second paragraphs. Equality is a no-brainer in America. Hell, equality borders on a fetish in America! 

I'm thinking about this because the lovely and talented Missouri Senator Jolie Justus (a name so awesome it sounds fictitious) reports that the assembly is again debating the Equal Rights Amendment. Her blog, freshmeat, can be found under the "crustybastard approved" list right over there ----> 

What a revolutionary idea — equality. For women! 

With this kind of radical forward-thinking from our government, can space exploration or personal computers be far behind? 

Of course there's always somebody who has to pee on the parade. Testifying against equality were Concerned Women for AmericaMissouri Family NetworkEagle ForumMissouri RoundTable for LifeMissourians United for Life, and Missouri Right to Life

Jesus, what do all these groups have in common?

05 February 2009

How crazy is this?

Beloved calls me today, and puts me on the phone with her friend Helen Wheels. Helen has a trip to Mexico planned and had sent away for a passport, but her application was rejected for want of proof of citizenship. Wait, what?
Helen was born in Korea in 1970, and adopted, with Sissy, by a married US-citizen couple four years later. Turns out her mother didn't bother to send in a required postcard that would have naturalized Helen and Sissy.
Oops. Nice jorb, Mrs. Wheels.
Apparently, little Helen and Sissy's green card lapsed while their Play-Doh dried, and there's now a very real question about their citizenship status...which Helen just discovered at age 39. Sissy is a bit older. Oy. I can't imagine how I'd react if somebody told me that my citizenship was in question. I'd shit the bed.
It really is a legally puzzling situation. Due to oversight or malice, during the era that Helen and Sissy were adopted, the controlling law had been revised to exclude adopted children from deriving citizenship from their parents. The law was remedied later, but doesn't apply retrospectively. 
I'd argue that any law that treats adopted children differently than biological children is unconstitutional. When an adoption is final, an adopted child is otherwise treated under the law no differently than a biological child. If Mr. and Mrs. Wheels produced a child after Helen & Sissy's adoption, that sibling is automatically a citizen. Ergo, it simply follows that when an adoption is formalized, by operation of law, any adopted children should be in the same situation as any biological children. 
Furthermore, under that idiotic law, the state is punishing the child for the failure of the parent. A minor can't realistically be expected to ensure that their government documents are in order.
Finally, what purpose is served by a law that puts some adopted American children's citizenship in question? "Helen, if you don't start picking up your room, I'm going to have you deported."
Here's another bizarre wrinkle: Helen is a widow. She was married for nearly three years. If she was cognizant that her citizenship was in question, she could have naturalized on the basis of her marriage. But not now, because she's no longer married. ::Facepalm::
I'm already plotting a crustybastard stunt. Next time Helen comes over for a party or whatnot, I'm going to stop her at the door and say (mit un German accent), "Papers, please. Schnell...SCHNELL!"

Renovation Diary Part I

About 65,000 years ago I first contemplated a bathroom renovation. That's not exactly true. I contemplate a bathroom renovation every damn time I have to go downstairs to have a pee. 
I'm getting ahead of myself. 
Years ago I hired a longtime friend, Mike, to do Renovation v.1. A poorly installed and leaky upstairs shower had damaged the ceiling of the downstairs bathroom. I shut the shower down. Instead of repairing the downstairs bathroom ceiling and then beginning the demolition of upstairs bathroom, he tore up both bathrooms at the same time. 
I would have assumed that the obstacles inherent in demolishing both bathrooms concurrently would be obvious to anyone with a bladder, an alimentary system, and at least a passing interest in hygiene. It was not apparent to Mike.
His project management didn't improve after that initial blunder. One day he told me he was going to the hardware store and needed $250 for materials. That was the last I saw of him. Years later he calls. He's in a 12 Step Program and I'm on the list of people to apologize to. Turns out I've bought at least $250 worth of crack. Hurrah.
The renovation is finally rev'd to v.2. Yes, I've hired another friend, but this one isn't a crackhead, I'm certain. And I'm being much more hands-on to minimize the weird surprises (a distressingly regular occurrence during V.1.)
Minimize doesn't mean eliminate. I've spent an insane amount of time trying to find angle stops for the bathroom faucet I bought years ago, but never installed. The faucet is totally cool, but the pre-plumbed supply connections have no relation to any known plumbing standard. Seriously, they might as well have suction cups or bicycle handlebar fringe on the ends for all the good they do.
Why would anyone manufacture a faucet that cannot be hooked up to an ordinary angle stop valve? That just does not compute! It's not like using the proper 3/8" compression nut on the end of the 3/8" supply line would be prohibitively more complicated or expensive than using the fucking random 5/8" FIP nut they selected.
It's like discovering your new car runs on liquid propane, or your new kitchen appliances are coal-fired. It's like finding out you're pre-approved for a Diner's Club card.
It takes a special kind of malice to sell nonstandard plumbing to an unsuspecting public. And I didn't buy it from some fly-by-night website, either. I bought it from Rennovator's Supply. I picked it out of a PRINTED CATALOGUE ferchrissakes. I confess it didn't occur to me to ask, "Does this faucet connect to plumbing that might be found in an ordinary North American residence? Is it rated for potable water?" 
My bad.
Anyway, if you've got a line on a 1/2" compression x 5/8" MIP angle stop, I'll take two.