Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

If it's not one thing

This week we've been dealing with my son's strep throat, our new puppy, and a leaky air conditioner that is trying to warp our floors, plus various city inspectors who won't pass our new construction until we turn a junction box 90 degrees, and cut round holes in a series of boards instead of square slots, and so on. Life.

The good news is that my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two-week-old baby did make it out of New Orleans just ahead of Katrina. They are in Beaumont at her uncle's house. Chris, who is an E.R. doc, is heading back into the city today with the medical group (he has a signed pass from the governor! Whoo-hoo!) and hopes to check on their house when he gets a chance. They are on South Carrollton, by the river, which is one of the highest places in the city but that ain't saying much. But they have flood insurance, which probably puts them ahead of 90% of New Orleans, and as a doctor, it looks like he'll have plenty of work. If he's able to send us any photos I'll try to post them. I have never posted photos before because I use a Mac and Blogger has a problem with that.

I hear they are turning Tony Burger Center, near our house here in Austin, into a hurricane relief shelter. With 450,000 people displaced, they are having to spread around a bit I guess. Makes me grateful that our house is just being toyed with by inspectors. At least it's not underwater.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Ah yes, we are a day late, but there is new material up at Toad. Things have been a little out of whack since my writing partner broke her foot and her ankle, one on each leg. I still don't know quite how she managed that, though I hear a box of donuts was involved, which always explains a lot.

Today's piece reminds me I've been meaning to write up a theory of Intelligent Grammar, positing that rules of syntax are actually evidence of a single, superior intelligence. It's as good a theory as anything else I've heard.

The convert

I would like to star in a reality TV show wherein seven or eight representatives of various faiths try to persuade me to join their religion. I could ask them anything I wanted, and they would have to answer honestly, in accordance with the tenets of their faith. Their goal would be to convince me I should be Episcopalian, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, etc. And they would compete directly against each other too, so they'd have to defend the superiority of their own faith over others as we went along. And at the end of each show I'd get to cast one of them out, like Donald Trump. Who would be left in the end?

I might even watch something like that.

Monday, August 15, 2005

An odd ring

Is it just me, or do Bush's idiotic comments to the press corps about why he's avoiding Cindy Sheehan and riding his bike instead sound more than a little . . . canned?

Bush defends decision not to meet with anti-war mom

Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say.

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

Now, take this together with an admittedly somewhat wild-eyed piece in Capitol Hill Blue today:
Is Bush Out of Control?
Aug 15, 2005

Buy beleaguered, overworked White House aides enough drinks and they tell a sordid tale of an administration under siege, beset by bitter staff infighting and led by a man whose mood swings suggest paranoia bordering on schizophrenia.

They describe a President whose public persona masks an angry, obscenity-spouting man who berates staff, unleashes tirades against those who disagree with him and ends meetings in the Oval Office with “get out of here!”

In fact, George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.

Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.

“There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently.

I think they've got monkey-boy talking to a therapist. Not the cut-the-shit, get your life in order, stop being a narcissistic asshole kind of therapist, but the vent-your-feelings, rationalize your behavior, keep the president from pushing the button in a fit of puerile rage kind.

Just a guess.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The mind reels with sarcastic replies

U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning."
I wonder how Andrew Sullivan, and the other dogs of war who have since adopted a "the policy was good, the execution was bad" stance, will make of this.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's official

Smilin' Jack receives his first indictment:
Abramoff Indicted in Fraud Case
Washington Lobbyist is Key Figure in DeLay Ethics Probe
By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 11, 2005; 3:21 PM
MIAMI, Aug. 11 -- Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday and federal agents were searching for him as part of a wide-ranging wire fraud case stemming from the purchase of a Florida casino cruise line from a businessman later murdered in Fort Lauderdale, sources close to the case said.
I like the mention of DeLay in the sub-head. They're looking for Abramoff in southern California at the moment. This indictment (if you don't have your scorecards out, you'd better get them handy) is for the Florida stuff ONLY; not related to the Indian Casino lobbying scandals being investigated by the Senate.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Two Iraq veterans committ suicide near Fort Hood

Two young Fort Hood soldiers who served in the Iraq war have killed themselves in separate incidents in Killeen since the weekend, post officials said Wednesday.

Sgt. Robert Decouteaux, 24, of Rosedale, N.Y., died Saturday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been airlifted from his home to a Temple hospital for emergency surgery, but he died while doctors tried to save his life.

And on Monday morning, Spc. Robert Hunt, 22, of Houston, was found dead in his apartment by Killeen police, who were alerted after members of his unit tried to contact him when he failed to report to work.

Carol Smith, a Killeen police spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Hunt's cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Intelligent design

OK, I am supposed to be working tonight but Giblets has a very important message for the President:

Last week Giblets was reclining on the grassy banks of an elysian river when he made an alarming scientific discovery: clouds aren't shaped like clouds, they're shaped like stuff. Look! That one looks like a moose, that one's a monkey, and that one is exactly the spitting and glorious image of Giblets rendered in living cloudflesh! "I dunno," says Fafnir. "That cloud looks like a cloud." Amazing, what are the odds! Conventional meteorology is useless in the face of these amazing stuffological anomalies. The only explanation that makes ANY SENSE AT ALL is that these clouds were designed - INTELLIGENTLY designed - by some intelligent cloud-shaper in the sky!
I, for one, am convinced.