Seven Degrees from Normal

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The children are our future

Plan would bar Ohio adoptions by GOP
By Carl Chancellor
Beacon Journal staff writer

If a Youngstown lawmaker's proposal becomes Ohio law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I passed 8th grade math!

Nine out of ten correct answers.

Can you pass 8th grade math?

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Well now, that's good news

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fun Saturday web site

Friday, February 24, 2006


Here is an average of durable goods orders. We average them because collectively they give a good overall picture of what's up with the economy.

Oh dear, the average fell by 10.2 percent last month. That's bad.

But, if we remove the goods that did worst from the average, the average is much better.

Whew! What a relief!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Well, he should know

DeLay says Bush making mistake on port sale

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said Wednesday that President Bush is making a big mistake backing a sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

The former Republican majority leader said the administration's approval of the deal is "pretty outrageous." DeLay made the remarks during a campaign event with Houston real estate executives.

I dunno about this port thing; there's the xenophobia issue, the global-markets-uber-alles issue, the national security isse, and the administrative incompetence thing (even if it isn't a bad idea, they have handled it with supreme clumsiness). Dennis the Peasant has done some homework on the national security angle, and since he's a nice conservative boy, I'm inclined to agree with him that the security issue is a non-starter.

And really, the way this administration has been protecting us, we might be better off with someone else in charge of our ports.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Work-related income is for losers

You know, my family could be exactly the kind of good, conservative, stay-at-home-mom kind of family Rick Santorum extols, if we had our own personal slush fund:

“In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might find they don’t both need to.”

-- U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, in his 2005 book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

The Santorums bought their oversized Shenstone “estate” even though his financial disclosure forms since 2001 have shown little family income beyond his Senate salary, now $162,100, and he admits that life hasn’t been financially easy. The senator made a startling remark to The New York Times Magazine last spring: “We live paycheck to paycheck, absolutely.” But he explained that his parents help out. “They’re by no means wealthy -- they’re two retired VA [Veterans Administration] employees -- but they’ll send a check every now and then,” he said.

The Prospect decided to heed Santorum’s advice by taking “an honest look at the family budget” -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings. Santorum’s PAC -- a “leadership PAC,” whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

The rest of the piece in Tapped only gets better. Or worse, depending on how jaded you are.

Apparently Santorum also siphons funds off of a non-registered charity he runs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Remaking history

With your tax dollars:
U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.
The only real surprise here is that it started before Bush took office. Of course, "It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Toad is up

This is probably redundent now that both this site and Toad have rss feeds, but we are posting pretty regularly on Mondays now.

Jay Mathews is a goon

I mean.
So why do we still talk about how terrible it is to teach to the test? I think it comes from our fear of the unknown. Those of us who are not teachers don't know what is going on in our children's classrooms. And teachers don't know what harm might come to them from the test results, as interpreted by often-wrongheaded people such as principals, superintendents, politicians and, particularly, parents.
Tomorrow, my son takes his first NCLB test: the 3rd grade reading TAKS. According to the powers behind this test, there are two kinds of reading: creative and technical. Creative reading uses deductive and inductive reasoning, while technical writing only uses deductive reasoning. Making connections between a text and real life is "creative reading." Creative reading isn't tested on the TAKS. Only technical reading is. But the test-makers will try to "trick" children (the teacher's words) into using inductive reasoning, by putting things into the reading samples that children may make associations with (like "my grandmother"). These associations will pull them away from the "correct," technical reading answers. In other words, inductive reasoning and personal connections with texts are, for the purposes of the TAKS, wrong.

When they explained this to me Thursday night at "TAKS Night," I suddenly realized why my son had not brought home a library book in six months. And why his teacher doesn't read to the class anymore. Creative reading is a habit that must be broken if all the kids are going to do well on the TAKS.

When I was in third grade, my teacher read us "Charlotte's Web." In George Bush's America, that's a dangerous text.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Famous people I know, Part I

If I haven't already raved to you about it, let me recommend Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. It's written by a guy I knew in graduate school. You can read a good chunk of the first chapter online.

Mike also has a web site, wherein you can read about how he taught his cat to watch t.v. and other stuff.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Fun Saturday website

Because we didn't have enough fun on Friday: Word cloud T-shirts:

Have you a blog? Make a word cloud from it.

Or, get a shirt with a word cloud from your favorite author. The Book of Revelation is pretty cool.

Via Barry at The Big Picture.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fun Friday website

What do lynch, hygiene, fuchsia, dunce, erotic, draconian, doggerel, cravat, derrick, assassin, zany, stentorian, poinsettia, and praline have in common?

Answer here.

Cracks in the dam

Hey look, Cuban Americans have figured out Bush lies to them:

At least one influential Cuban, Pepe Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), said it might be time for the Cubans to do the unthinkable -- reconsider their unwavering loyalty to Republican candidates.

That's how hegemony falls apart: too many people start to see your conflicts of interest. And I have to say this administration is good at hiding secrets, but very poor at misdirecting people about their aims, which I suspect is more important for politicians (the former is more important for criminals, though).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Aggies are we!

I neglected to post about this at the time; there's more coming out from NASA now. But the original story is too rich. Full disclosure: my dad taught in the Physics department at A&M, and the father of one of our neighbors headed the Journalism department, which this kid said he graduated from. My dad's been a huge Bush supporter (don't get me started); I wonder if it's worth ruining Easter to ask him about this?

The greater irony is that A&M recently decided to shutter its Journalism department entirely, which is too bad, considering that its students are having such a big impact on the world:

A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA
Published: February 8, 2006

George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.

Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.

. . . .

Mr. Deutsch, 24, was offered a job as a writer and editor in NASA's public affairs office in Washington last year after working on President Bush's re-election campaign and inaugural committee, according to his résumé. No one has disputed those parts of the document.

According to his résumé, Mr. Deutsch received a "Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003."

Yesterday, officials at Texas A&M said that was not the case.

"George Carlton Deutsch III did attend Texas A&M University but has not completed the requirements for a degree," said an e-mail message from Rita Presley, assistant to the registrar at the university, responding to a query from The Times.

Repeated calls and e-mail messages to Mr. Deutsch on Tuesday were not answered.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Testing Blogger Photo

Does Blogger really let Mac users post photos now?
So it seems.
Meet Nashville, who was one of the great ones, and Abbey, who is working on it.

They shoot old people, don't they?

For some reason I find myself trying, this morning, to form a semi-comprehensive list of the Bush administration's incompetencies and other crimes. Just working off this morning's headlines and my derelict memory, I get

Started an unneccesary war
Conducted it incredibly poorly
Lied about how and why they started it
Let costs spiral out of control
Allowed soldiers to die through arrogance
Killed civilians and lied about it
Stifled domestic dissent

Bungled three hurricanes in a row
Have apprently done nothing to even organize potential response to terrorist events
Bragged about their accomplishments

Brought about theocracy in Palestine and Iraq
Single-handedly turend Iran into a nuclear threat
Earned the enmity of virtually every country in the world
Destroyed decades of diplomacy and the treaties resulting
Virtually abandoned Afghanistan

Spiked oil prices
Given oil companiesand defense contractors huge profits when ordinaryworkers have seen a net loss in wages
Turned public education into a farce

Reduce Consitutionally-protected free speech to "zones"
Arrested people for wearing T-shirts

Spied on Americans without warrants
Denied doing so
Threatened those who revealed they were doing so
Blown the cover of a CIA agent working on WMD in Iran
Denied doing so

Stolen elections
Accepted laundered campaign funds
Encouraged corruption in Congress and K Street

Given tax breaks to the rich while poor people can't get medical care
Drawn a bead on SocialSecurity
Killed any meaningful settlement from tobacco companies
Gutted the Parks service, FDA inspection and enforcement, EPA ditto
Fired government employees for dissent

Spread the clumsiest of propaganda, domestically and abroad
Hindered medical research for the basest of political motives
Pandered to religious extremists

Shot a man
Refused to tell anyone
Spun the press into calling a shotgun a "pellet gun" and a heart attack a "cardiac event"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


So dumb they deserve to lose.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Wired Toad

As promised, Toad has struggled back up on its brittle little legs. In a desperate attempt to improve site traffic, we've added an rss feed--sign up! Then you don't have to wait around for me to tell you when we're funny. Because life is too short.

Be Vewy Quiet . . .

Oops. Unfortunately, Millionaire Season doesn't open until March.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Catching up

1. I don't believe there was an actual plot to fly an airliner into the "Liberty Tower" (sic) on the West Coast. Some jihadist probably jotted the idea down on a cocktail napkin, and now Bush thinks he personally took down an entire conspiracy using nothing but his lariat and a Colt .45.

2. There are a bunch of things Muslims just need to get the hell over. Cartoons of the Prophet are one; the perception of women as second-class citizens is another. You'd be a lot harder to torture if you didn't freak out over menstrual blood, guys. Superstition makes you weak; that's how you can tell it from religion.

3. Michael Brown ratting out the White House is pretty entertaining, but even more so when you know he first had his lawyer send a whiny letter to Harriet Miers threatening to do so if he didn't get a guarantee of immunity. Screw me, screw you.

Google Ads

The Google ads I've installed at the top of the blog are a riot. It's like having my very own Talmuddic commentary going on, in real time. Sponsored by the Tandy Corp.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Let's Roll

Note the fledgling blogroll to the right . . . .


Blogging While Ill, that is. I opted not to, thus the two months of silence. It was questionable whether anyone would want to read about my strep throat and the subsequent sinus infection that outlasted two rounds of antibiotics. (Plus my daughter's ear infection following her strep.) I did not feel very entertaining.

Toad should be stirring from the mud of its winter hibernation soon, too.


Did anyone watch?

I hear we are addicted to oil and threatened by human-animal hybrids. We sound really fucked up.

Maybe the human-animal hybrids are a hallucination resulting from our oil withdrawal?