Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday

Laura had her baby this morning around 11am. She named him Liam. I'll have some pictures after the weekend when we go back home to visit. Kyle's dad will be in town tomorrow and Thursday on his way to visit SO THAT WILL BE FUN. For now, I'm off to crochet a few more baby favors. Yay!

Monday, September 29, 2008

House Rejects Bailout Package

The vote against the measure was 228 to 205, with 133 Republicans turning against President Bush to join 95 Democrats in opposition. The bill was backed by 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans.

Lots of finger pointing and name calling already. I'm watching the responses on C-SPAN and it's pretty much a freaking Whiney Baby Parade. Someone needs to call a WHAAAAmbulance and send it over to Capitol Hill.

Some of McCain's and Obama's comments, from this article at The Guardian:
From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Senators Obama and Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others. Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families. Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill. Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.

Emphasis mine.
It is important for the American public and for the markets to say calm because things are never smooth in congress and to understand that it will get done. That we are going to make sure an emergency package is put together because it is required for us to stabilize the markets and to make sure that when a small business-person wakes up tomorrow morning, he will be able to make payroll. ... I am confident we are going to get there but it's going to be sort of rocky. It's sort of like flying into Denver. You know you're going to land but it's not always fun going over those mountains.

It is my understanding that while this bailout would not have been soooo fun, it would have been better than nothing. I don't know enough about economics to really know how to feel about it. Kyle is spitting nails. He's convinced he won't be able to get loans for school next semester and will have to quit college. He may not be incorrect.

The Dow Industrial fell 7%. I'm going to assume that's a lot because it's being mentioned with great frequency. It really is amazing, watching C-SPAN and hearing the comments from the people actually involved in this decision, how much the Republicans are frantically trying to make sure everyone knows IT WAS THE DEMOCRATS! IT'S THEIR FAULT! and how much the Democrats are calmly talking about the next steps and trying to be honest but reassuring.

2008 will be remembered as the year the American population shit a collective brick. This has been one of the most panicky, frenzied, pearl-clutching years in recent history, AND IT AIN'T OVER YET, BABY!

Update: Video of McCain's comments. Still waiting for video of Obama's speech, WHICH IS AWESOME, BTW.

Poli Sci Essay 3

Taliban Targets Women Police Officers in Afghanistan

Malalai Kakar, head of the city of Kandahar's department of crimes against women, was shot dead outside of her home on Sunday, September 28th. Her fifteen-year-old son, who was taking her to work, was also wounded and is in critical condition. Taliban gunmen, waiting outside of Kakar’s home, opened fire on her car as she left. Kakar was shot through the head and died on the spot.

Malalai Kakar was the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan. She was regularly interviewed in international media and was known for her courage in one of Afghanistan’s most conservative provinces. Kakar was a captain in the police force and headed a team of about 10 women officers. She had reportedly received numerous death threats.

Kakar was the first women to join the Kandahar police force in 2001 after the Taliban were overthrown. She was involved in investigating crimes against women and children, and conducting house searches.

A spokesman for the Taliban took credit for the murder. The extremist group has been mounting a growing insurgency targeting government officials. Several other woman officers and officials have been gunned down by Taliban assassins.

The head of Kandahar province's women's affairs department was killed in a similar way two years ago. And in June gunmen shot dead a female police officer in the western province of Herat in what was believed to be the first assassination of a female police officer in the war-torn country. Bibi Hoor, 26, was on her way home when two armed men on motorbikes opened fire, killing her instantly. It was not clear who killed her.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying in a statement that it was an "act of cowardice" by the "enemies of the peace and welfare and reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Under the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan from 1996-2001, women were not permitted to work or leave their homes without a male relative, and were required to wear an all-covering burqa. Kandahar is known as the birthplace of the Taliban.

About 750 police officers have been killed in the past six months, both male and female, mostly in insurgency-linked violence sweeping the country. The Afghan police force numbers around 80,000 people.

Afghanistan is no stranger to denying women basic rights. While the political and cultural position of women has improved significantly since the overthrow of Taliban rule, there is obviously still a great gap in the way Afghan women should be treated, and the way they are treated, particularly in rural areas where families still restrict mothers, daughters, wives and sisters from participation in public life. They are forced into marriages and denied an even basic education. 87% of Afghan women are illiterate and numerous girls’ schools have been burned down, bombed, or otherwise attacked.

The dangers Afghan women in the public eye face are enormous and frightening. In a religiously oppressive environment, perhaps it is easier to follow unfair rules and expectations, to do as you are told and not make waves. The women who are brave enough to put themselves in increasingly dangerous positions should be lauded for their courage and memorialized for their sacrifices. They are also testament to the distance already covered in assuring women everywhere their rights as humans, but also, how far we have yet to go.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Squeaky Clean

We watched the debate last night. I don't really have anything to say about it. Not exciting, nothing all OMG-he-said-what?!? At certain point, I felt like even though they were speaking English, there was no sense to the words, they were all just tossed together. Word salad. Today, I made soap.

Peppermint Candy sugar scrub. It looks kind of gross but it feels good. I used Cocoa Butter which is way too greasy for this to be a scrub-rinse-go kind of thing, but after scrubbing and then regular soaping my skin felt SUPER soft and moisturized. Plus, very minty fresh!

Coffee Cake bar soap. Still in the saponification process. I'll be able to unmold it tomorrow and then it'll have to cure for about a month but then, yummy vanilla latte smelling soap!

The other night Kyle and I met Mom for dinner. Hilarity ensued:

(Note: clicking the pictures will take you to the bigger Photobucket versions.)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bartlet and Obama

Aaron Sorkin wrote a guest Op-Ed for the NYT. Barack Obama meets Jed Bartlet. No, really, it's pretty much awesome:

BARTLET A huge number of Americans thought I thought I was superior to them.



OBAMA I mean, how did you overcome that?

BARTLET I won’t lie to you, being fictional was a big advantage.


OBAMA The problem is we can’t appear angry. Bush called us the angry left. Did you see anyone in Denver who was angry?

BARTLET Well ... let me think. ...We went to war against the wrong country, Osama bin Laden just celebrated his seventh anniversary of not being caught either dead or alive, my family’s less safe than it was eight years ago, we’ve lost trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, thousands of lives and we lost an entire city due to bad weather. So, you know ... I’m a little angry.

And now I have to go study the Warka Vase...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I wish I lived in a place where I didn't have to worry about packing up my computer, books, and notebooks to make a five minute trip to the restroom while in the school library. Maybe I'll just take the computer...who's going to steal my Astronomy notes?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another New Pal

These are so quick and fun to make, I might make a whole army. I sewed this one's beard on a little crooked but OH WELL, everybody has their flaws!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rollin' With My Gnome-y!

I decided to not pay attention to anything except fun stuff this weekend, so I spent the majority of it watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and crocheting my fingers off. Here's a little plushie I made today:

Here we are on the phone with Mom. Hi, Mom!

That's all for now. More to come soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Poli Sci Essay no.2

Foreclosure and Voting

In Macomb County Michigan, the Republican Party chairman has announced a plan to challenge voters whose homes have been foreclosed on in the upcoming presidential election. “We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” said James Carabelli.

State election rules allow parties to assign “election challengers” to polls to monitor the election. In addition to observing the poll workers, these volunteers can challenge the eligibility of any voter provided they “have a good reason to believe” that the person is not eligible to vote. One allowable reason is that the person is not a “true resident of the city or township.” However, if a volunteer makes a challenge, poll workers are not permitted to ask why or allow voters to make a defense.

J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department, has questioned the legality of this effort. “You can’t challenge people without a factual basis for doing so…I don’t think a foreclosure notice is sufficient basis for a challenge, because people often remain in their homes after foreclosure begins and sometimes are able to negotiate and refinance.”

The effort is not limited to Macomb County, or indeed, only to Michigan. In Ohio, Doug Preisse, director of elections in Franklin County and the chair of the local GOP, told The Columbus Dispatch that he has not ruled out challenging voters before the election due to foreclosure-related address issues.

“At a minimum what you are seeing is a fairly comprehensive effort by the Republican Party, a systematic broad-based effort to put up obstacles for people to vote,” he said. “Nobody is contending that these people are not legally registered to vote.”
Some speculation has occurred over the fact that in Macomb County, the majority of persons whose homes have been foreclosed on are African American and a great number of those vote Democrat.

In the course of researching this issue, I came across one site out of dozens carrying the article that posted an edit claiming that a party member in Michigan had contested the veracity of this story. As of writing, I have not been able to find any other source for this statement, but I felt it would be inappropriate to ignore the possibility.

While challenges may not result in barring for all voters, it does create difficulty, causing voters to have to travel to different polling places, much longer waits than many people can afford, and general hesitance to go to polling places for fear of confrontation or harassment. Causing disruptions and discouraging already disenfranchised voters on Election Day might not be illegal, but one does have to question whether it is ethical.


(See: the Rickroll)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vote Palin For President

Wow, Seriously?

I was reading BBC News online this morning and I clicked on a photo series of Sarah Palin because I wanted to see if she was smirking in every picture and I guess because I hate myself and like being infected with rage.

And then, there was this:

Ok, so, no smart pantsuit? Just this classy TV Hooker get up? Not even maybe a Wonder Woman-esque leotard? I mean, it's called the Super Hero Sarah Palin. Maybe the website selling these has other ones with better clothes. Let's just hop over there andOH OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Out. Of. Control.

Also, I suppose it doesn't even matter at this point but the people who designed the face really should have gone for a little more Condescending and a little less Tweaking. These are the dudes that got fired from Mattel for pitching Meth Bender Barbie.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy Thoughts

I'm was trying really hard not to pay attention to politics for a night because I'm feeling really discouraged and sad, but it's seems to be sort of like a bully that hides behind corners and leaps out and gives you a noogie at random because I can't get away from it.

So, I sought out the one thing that usually makes me (and most people, i think), cheerful: baby animals.

Here's a clip from that Milo & Otis-set-to-Sigur Ros series:

BUT WAIT! Even better, I found a clip of Otis meeting the fox from that same movie. The fox is probably one of my most favorite characters from a children's movie, which is amazing considering he only exists for one minute and three seconds. I think it's the song:

I'm going to bed now while I'm still in baby animal mode. G'night!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Mix

Here's a short playlist for your evening enjoyment. There are 8 tracks, all instrumental (mostly just piano) by Christopher O'Riley, Eluvium, the Boats, and others.

Also, check out these amazing photos of hurricanes as seen from orbit.

Have a good week!

[Edit: This is the first time I've used 8tracks and apparently track line up means NOTHING to them! Weird.]

Who's Elite?

Ever worn a $300,000 outfit? Cindy has.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

"He who fights with monsters..."

You've probably realized that I really love Shakesville. There's a post up by Pizza Diavola about "Fauxgressive" attacks on Sarah Palin's daughter:
...Yes, Gov. Palin's abstinence-only sex "education" position is reprehensible. Yes, it keeps minors uninformed and results in higher rates of STIs and teen pregnancies. Yes, it actively foments ignorance. However, these are all reasons to criticize Sarah Palin's positions and question whether or not McCain-Palin is the duo you want to see in the White House. These are not reasons to drag two minors into the fray as a means of slamming Bristol Palin and her mother.


Being anti-sexist and pro-choice means being anti-sexist and pro-choice for all people, whether or not we like them, whether or not it's convenient, whether or not they'd return the favor. There are better, more pertinent ways to criticize the McCain-Palin ticket.

(Read the rest here.)

As Melissa says, "We defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we endorse her or her politics, but because that's how feminism works."

[Note: I have a lot of time in the library today. Hence, time for posting.]

Becoming Cautiously Hopeful?

Palin raises $8 million — for Obama

Obama's coffers have been filling since Sarah Palin attacked him repeatedly in St. Paul last night.

An Obama aide confirms Drudge's report that Obama has raised about $8 million from more than 130,000 donors and is on pace to raise $10 million by the time McCain reaches the stage tonight.

UPDATE: Obama spokesman Bill Burton says, "Sarah Palin's attacks have rallied our supporters in ways we never expected. And we fully expect John McCain's attacks tonight to help us make our grass-roots organization even stronger."

via Shakesville

Half-hearted Current Events Essay for Poli Sci

Instead of having us do one big term paper to meet the Gordon Rule requirement in my Poli Sci class, Dr. Anderson is assigning several small essays relating current events to topics in the class. I did the first one last night. It's pretty low quality. I just didn't want to write about the election or candidates, or military actions, or how the country is dealing with natural disaster threats after Katrina (not so great, ac'shuly!), because honestly I'm sort of sick to death of thinking about it and feeling pissed and powerless. Also, due to this emotional component, I probably could not keep a short essay on one of these topics under a page and a half, which is the guideline. Brevity is hard when you care.

Hard Times for U.S. Schools

As a new school year begins, school systems in the United States are facing record numbers of funding difficulties and students who are homeless or living in poverty because of the soaring costs of fuel and food, and the overall downturn in the economy.

All across the nation, school systems are trying to find ways to cope with drastically slashed budgets and parents who are having difficulty providing for their children. “The big national picture is that food and fuel costs are going up and school revenues are not,” said Anne L. Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association. “We’re in a recession, and it’s having a dramatic impact on schools.” (NYT.com). Thousands of teachers, administrators, and maintenance workers have been laid off nationwide.

Many districts have reduced the number of busses in use or changed routes to lessen the number of stops, and a few districts have ended bus use either completely or for high schools. Some school boards in Maine are concerned about being able to afford heating for classrooms in the coming winter. Hundreds of districts have restricted travel for field trips to save fuel and some have raised prices on cafeteria meal in response to ballooning food costs. Some more rural systems have adopted 4-day school weeks.

Everywhere, schools are serving increasing numbers of children in poverty. Local charities giving away school supplies are severely lacking in resources to cope with the number of needy families. The number of children who qualify for reduced price or free meals has skyrocketed in the last year and administrators suspect the number will only continue to rise.

Often, during times of economic hardship and even in times of stability, it seems that the budgets for public education are some of the first to get cut. When money is tight for a whole community and schools are forced to reduce costs, it falls on parents who are already struggling to make up the difference. Many teachers must pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Children get stuck in the middle in these situations, with schools and parents unable to afford the costs of equipping them with the necessities to get a proper education.

The public school system is simply another in a series of interrelated casualties during America’s economic crisis.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Also, Sarcasm...

Scene - Grocery store, bread aisle.

Kyle: (mumble mumble)
Karlen: What? You have language skills, you know. Maybe you should use them. You know what separates people from animals?
Kyle: Irony?
Karlen: ...That was amazing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Conversation I Just Had with Rae's Away Message:

Me: did you know the song "red right hand" by nick cave was about vengeful old testament god in paradise lost?

Auto response from Rae: I am away from my computer right now.

Me: i thought it was about the devil, so now i have to listen to it and change my perception of the point
Me: i just got amazed by the concept of duality which i don't actually think about ever and had to share and i know you appreciate analysis so...
Me: hope you're having a good week!

It's a shame about modern Christianity because if it weren't for all that, some of the Bible might be kind of awesome. Like, in the literal sense.