Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Don't Stay In Touch

Uh oh! California's scorned pageant princess is p-p-pissed!
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Miss California Carrie Prejean, who declared her opposition to same-sex marriage during the Miss USA pageant, will star in a new $1.5 million ad campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage.

The organization has scheduled a press conference with Prejean in Washington on Thursday to unveil the new ad, called "No Offense."

Prejean was roasted by same-sex marriage advocates after she stood up for what she called "opposite marriage" (marriage between a man and a woman) when responding to a question from celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton.

Prejean has also become a fresh-faced standard-bearer for the same-sex marriage opponents, who have rallied to her defense.

"She is attacked viciously for having the courage to speak up for her truth and her values," the National Organization for Marriage said in a press release. "But Carrie's courage inspired a whole nation and a whole generation of young people because she chose to risk the Miss USA crown rather than be silent about her deepest moral values."

According to the group, the ad will call "gay marriage advocates to account for their unwillingness to debate the real issue: gay marriage has consequences."

Indeed - gay marriage does have consequences. One day, you're dancing in the lesbian bar, minding your own gay business. You knock back a few drinks, take home a hot chick, wake up and count how many fingers you're holding up. Next thing you know, she's like all, "Baby, baby, baby, we're gonna have a baby," and you're all, "I'm smoke, I'm history, I'm Casper." No wait, that's those icky straight people. I can't even think about them having sex! Ewww!

I'm an unabashed advocate of same-sex marriage rights. I won't debate it because there's nothing to debate. There is no compromise position. I should have the right to marry a man or a woman. I should have the right to enter into this contract with the person of my choosing, as long as that person chooses me too; the same rights, for everyone, without exception. But Carrie Prejean, the sum of whose life experience can be charitably described as more limited than a veal cow's, thinks she knows better.

Huh. Take it away, Lily Allen -


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Know You're Full Of Wish

Photo: Yale Joel. Life Magazine. 1962.

I'm at a bit of a loss for words today. Fortunately, Minstrel Boy said everything yesterday. These words should haunt you:
It's easy to tell yourself that "it's not my job or my business," or, "It's more important to move forward, this isn't the time for looking back."

I always have to look back. Too much of what I see I don't like. We cannot afford to make our national memory like mine.

Investigate the crimes. Bring the criminals to account. Give them the fair treatment and trial that they denied to so many. If convicted give them a just punishment under the law. Then give them a decent incarceration. Fuck dude, go fucking nuts and pardon some of the bastards. I won't care. Pardon means that they have been made to accept that they broke the law and did wrong.

The price of doing nothing is too fucking high.

In light so bright, it's easy to feel the sun in one's eyes.


Monday, April 27, 2009

And At Keeping Things Vague

Photo of bathroom in darkness, as seen by leaping pussycats whose cameras have a flash.

Last night, an unusual noise woke Pete from a sound sleep. He sat up in a panic, muttering, "What? What?" Then his head cleared and he realized one of the cats had flushed the toilet. We suspect Topaz, whom we often spy figuring out how some contraption contrapts - or maybe the giant kitten made a sloppy leap for the window sill from the toilet tank.

This morning, I'd taken the day of from work to transplant lettuces and tomatoes, to get some rest and bask in the sunshine. During my drive to physical therapy at 7:15 a.m, Matt Pinfield played Guns N' Roses' Used To Love Her. I said, "Fuck you, Matt," and shut off the radio. Just after 9, Pete and I drove to the eye doctor's office in our home town and Matt played Under My Thumb. I said, "Fuck you, Matt, we get it. You hate women. Women get the message." When he lived here, I used to meet Matt Pinfield in that grocery store four blocks from my current house. If I ever see him there again, I will personally fling the first cream pie.

My grandparents had a cat that potty-trained himself. His name was Gato, and he was a genius. He could open doors with his paws. One day, my grandfather opened the bathroom door and found Gato reading the paper and smoking a Lucky. I'm kidding, of course. Gato was doing a crossword.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Take Some Of These Knives Out My Back

Most days, I sit down to blog with an idea of what I want to say or a thought that's bugging me. I don't know what the weather's like where you are but in Central New Jersey today the sunlight has turned that summer yellow, the breeze smelled fresh and the temperature hovered around 85 at midday. I can't think when the weather turns, I am too busy feeling the wonder of being alive on a glorious day. So yeah, when spring turns summery I can be pretty stupid.

Under these circumstances, I thought I might watch a bit of public television.
This is the second time I've tried to watch an episode of The Secret Files of the Inquisition, and I won't try it again. This is disappointing, because I studied Medieval and Renaissance history with an autodidact's focus on the Catholic Church, and I love this. I guess I learned the hard way that it's one thing to read about it but quite another to put a face to the affliction. Tonight, I had to change the channel in a big freaking hurry when a Jewish ceremony was observed by a Catholic neighbor in 1478 Spain, because I had a very good idea of what would come next, and I didn't have the courage to bear witness to it. Also: how could anyone? How could anyone do that to another human being? Any living thing?

I don't know, but a lot of people on TV are talking about how torture is useful, and it is freaking me out. Via Crooks & Liars, a transcript I'm having trouble believing I've just read.
[Joan] WALSH: You know, I couldn't disagree more with my friend Chris [Cilizza]. This is not a "he said/she said" situation. This is torture. Torture is illegal. We don't sit here, Howie, and say he said murder is illegal, but she said, well, sometimes murder's not so bad. These are clear matters of law.

Ronald Reagan signed the 1988 U.N. Convention Against Torture where we committed ourselves to prosecuting people who torture. It's the law. It's super clear. It's not a partisan witch hunt or a "she said/he said" situation.

[Howard] KURTZ: David Frum.

FRUM: It's not super clear, because the key piece of information people need, most people need to make a decision, is missing. Look, there's a hard core of civil libertarians who will say, I don't care whether this contributed to the defense of the country. Forget it, we won't do it, even if it means Americans die. And then there are some people who say, I support the president no matter what.

But most people want to know, did this contribute to the nation's safety? If so, we'll come to one judgment. If it was wasteful, as it's sometimes alleged, and achieved nothing, then we all condemn it. That's the thing we need to know, and that's the thing we don't know. That's the missing piece in all the reportage.


WALSH: No, it's illegal, whether it works or not. It's illegal whether it works or not, David.

FRUM: Well, as I said, there's a small minority who would feel like Joan does.

WALSH: Oh, really?

FRUM: Most people want to know, did it -- and that is the missing or the contradicted piece. We don't have a clear answer to that question.

WALSH: It doesn't matter.

CILLIZZA: Howie, I just want to...

KURTZ: Chris.

CILLIZZA: Joan, just real quickly, I just want to point out, in our poll that came our this morning, 49 percent of people said no torture under any circumstances; 48 percent, in some special circumstances, depending on the information. That's not my opinion.


WALSH: But Chris, the point is it's illegal. In what instance does it matter that 80 percent of Americans would like to murder Dick Cheney? Does that -- would that make it legal? It's not a matter of opinion. It's law.

Talking about torture in conversational tones isn't rational, it is monstrous. Nothing can be said in defense of Frum and Cilizza that isn't monstrous. Nothing. They should be seen for what they are and shunned by decent people. This is not even to mention what should happen to the people whose acts they themselves defend.

I'd like to make a joke about a Brothers Grimm ending for media douchebags defending atrocity but it's too soon and this shit isn't funny. The best I can do is say these villains should avoid anyone with a clear idea of justice and a magic wand.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

When I Could Wear A Sunset

She stands in the doorway of my cubicle, beaming. Her diabetic husband, who's had his second heart attack in three weeks, is out of the hospital.

Kim: Chocolate?
Tata: Love it.
Kim: Lava cake?
Tata: Food of the Gods, man,
Kim: Want a recipe?
Tata: Fiercely.

Sometimes we learn a little more about our friends than about food in an office email.

Chocolate Lava Cake (Hungry Girl style)

Breaking Ooze!
We've whipped up a cake SO chocolatey and decadent, your head may ACTUALLY explode. (Consider yourself warned - we're not going to be responsible for sweeping up the mess.) You'll need four baking ramekins (about 4 inches in diameter) for this recipe. Enjoy!


For Cake
1 cup moist-style chocolate cake mix (1/4 of an 18.25-oz. box)
One 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix
1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1 tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
2 dashes salt (omitted)

For Filling
One-half Jell-O Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding Snack (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. fat-free liquid creamer (like Coffee-mate Fat Free Original)
1/2 tsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread (like Brummel & Brown)

Place the chocolate chips for the filling in a glass and set aside. Pour the creamer in a microwave-safe bowl with the butter, and heat in the microwave for about 15 seconds, until butter has melted and mixture is very hot. Pour the mixture over the chocolate chips and stir until they have dissolved. Allow to cool for several minutes. Add the pudding to the mixture and stir well. Spoon the chocolate mixture into four evenly spaced mounds on a plate. Place in the freezer for 25 minutes. (Don't over-freeze -- the mounds could stick to the plate.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start making the cake when the 25 minutes are up for freezing the middles.

Place chocolate chips for the cake in a tall glass (a measuring cup will do) along with the contents of the cocoa packet. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and stir until chips and cocoa have dissolved. Add 1/2 cup cold water and stir well. Pour the contents of the glass into a mixing bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients for the cake (cake mix, egg substitute, Splenda) to the mixing bowl, and whip batter with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes.

Once the chocolate mounds in the freezer are a little firm, spray four baking ramekins (each about 4 inches in diameter) with nonstick spray. Evenly spoon the cake batter (which will be a little thin, but don't worry!) into the ramekins. Remove chocolate mounds from the freezer, and place one in the center of each batter-filled ramekin. Push the mounds down so the batter goes over top of them. Put the ramekins in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Cakes will look shiny when done.

Carefully remove each ramekin from the oven. You can eat the cake right out of the ramekin (while the center is still gooey!), but make sure to let it cool a little bit, because the ramekin will be hot. Or you can wait until it has cooled completely and plate the cake by running a knife along the edges and flipping it upside down. (Then just pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to heat it back up.) Enjoy!


Serving Size: 1 individual lava cake
Calories: 182
Fat: 4.5g
Sodium: 433mg - 82 = 351
Carbs: 32g
Fiber: 1.5g
Sugars: 18g
Protein: 4g
WW points = 4

Are you kidding me? Other than the salt, there isn't a single ingredient in there that doesn't have its own highly questionable ingredient list. I can't make this recipe. I'd have to picket my own kitchen!

If you can believe it, I kept my mouth shut and thought long and hard about sending fruit baskets.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Just the Power To Charm

Perhaps you've been reading Poor Impulse Control for a while or perhaps you're an indoor wild animal sleeping on someone's keyboard - in which case: Meow. Howdy! Meow. Aren't the giant bald cats hilarious? If you're a person, and you've been hanging around these parts, you may have noticed a slight change in topic. For instance, we've started planting seeds. That's good and all. What about recycled and natural products? What about green transportation? Are we gonna cook or what? Am I going to get out and take pictures of trees again?

The sports medicine dude and the physical therapist agree: I can start walking to work again next week, and only if it feels okay. Hooray! Next week, I'm out and about in the fresh air again. Yay! I'm relieved, because I'm an indoor-outdoor pet and being indoors all the time has made me cranky. I am not at all sharpening my nails on your couch. Next week, I promise to purr when you pour me a saucer of milk.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Get Back Home Sleep Pretty

Outside, we have fog and mist this morning. My hair is angry and rebels against the bond of the ponytail holder. A barrette gave up long ago. It writes when it can but its letters are filled with regret.

Last night, we shopped for groceries while outside a downpour carved new paths in tentative landscapes to the creeks and down to the river. We brought in our grocery bags as lightning flashed and thunder rumbled distantly. Soon after, the downpour turned torrential, so we counted ourselves lucky to be home and snug indoors. I examined the register tape like tea leaves for portents of success or failure. It was only then I noticed I'd forgotten, alas, orange juice.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm the Only Bee In Your Bonnet

Last night, Pete and I went out to dinner with Sharkey and old friends from that bar where we all lived. Pete recognized most of the faces from another bar half a mile away from the first, where we also all lived. There were third, fourth and fifth bars where we all lived and a dozen more in New York, but several of us are still in denial and some of us still get the shakes when we hear the magic words: Are you with the band? In any case, I brought up gardening.

Pete's been planting up a storm in trays in the basement complete with grow lights, while I've been waiting for a visit from Homeland Security where I explain no one has as yet outlawed herbes de Provence. They'll listen to me. I'm a little old lady with a clean rap sheet and a filthy blog. So we're going to need an excellent lawyer if we don't in fact get to transplant the tomatoes that are growing in one of these contraptions (left). Tomorrow, I'm going to transplant a mesclun mix into a window box, also in the mini greenhouse, if I am not unfortunately incarcerated for growing salad. In any case, I described this outdoor furniture thingy as like shelving wrapped in the pelts of plastic sofa slipcovers. Everyone looked confused. I switched to horticulture jokes.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The News I Need From the Weather Report

Outside, the day is bright, clear and warm. The avenue has been by turns thronged and empty. Decorative pear trees began today to shed their blossoms, so everywhere fragrant petals drift through open doors. Fortunately, last night, the family stores cleaned their carpets. Some people who resemble my sisters are going to have conniptions tomorrow.

The sunlight on my skin feels like my reward for surviving the winter. Last night, I told Pete that when one day I can't climb stairs anymore I want the stair lift to play the Bewitched! theme. Today, sunlight alone makes me blissfully happy.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Better Free Your Mind Instead

Last night, Pete and I were sitting on the couch talking over our day when the TV switched to a tease for the CBS 11:00 news featuring a bit about New York's new archbishop.

Tata: I wish they would stop talking about this. I just don't care.
Pete: It matters to a lot of people.
Tata: Is the news just for Catholics?
Pete: This is kind of a big deal.
Tata: It's not general news. I don't care whose religion is having a change of the top oppressor. Maybe mention it and move on, but no. This morning's news was devoted to this bullshit, and I don't care.
Pete: Well, a lot of people would say this matters to them.
Tata: I'd like to hear something detailed about the economy because that matters to EVERYONE.

You might say I'm in something of a mood about the assumptions and distortions of the newscasts on WNBC while I'm bicycling half-asleep first thing in the morning. Today's thoughtlessly repeated beauty was that the tea party protests were a grassroots movement, which is simply a lie. The tea parties were organized and funded by Republican operatives and promoted by Fox News. That's the exact opposite of grassroots which word you will see misused in connection with these events. Putting that aside for the moment, it was delightful to see a report about NY Governor Paterson's proposal for a bill recognizing same-sex marriage.
Gov. David A. Paterson on Thursday will announce plans to introduce legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, according to people with knowledge of the governor’s plans.

Mr. Paterson’s move, which he first signaled last week after Vermont became the fourth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, reflects the governor’s desire to press the issue with lawmakers in Albany as other states move ahead with efforts to grant more civil rights to homosexuals.

The action in Vermont, where state legislators overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’s veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, came less than a week after the Iowa Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry.

HOORAY! We are on the road to equal protection under the law. Yippee! Enlightenment makes a comeback! But as if on cue, the new archbishop closes the segment with a promise to send us all back to the Dark Ages.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan today promised to oppose Gov. Paterson's same-sex marriage, just one day before it will hit the floor of the Legislature.

"You can bet I would be active and present and, I hope, articulate in this particular position," Dolan told reporters.

The question - one of many the new archbishop took from reporters at his first news conference in Midtown - came as state lawmakers prepared to begin debating the controversial issue.

"The topic you raise - other topics that are controversial that the church has a message to give - you'll find that I don't shy away from those things and I wouldn't sidestep them," said Dolan.

If he's got a political opinion he's invited to speak it as a private citizen, but if he's marshalling his flock his church should lose its tax exempt status. I'd love to see that, actually. I don't believe anyone will move to strip the Catholic Church of its tax exemption, which is sad. It would provide a great example for those fucking megachurches which have royally screwed with our separation of church and state. If this is now a fight between Paterson and the Archbishop, and not a civil rights issue for the people of the State of New York, I'd like to see it called for what it is.

This is why the archbishop's arrival shouldn't take up a half an hour on the morning news: the Catholic Church shouldn't get this kind of influence over the lives of people who do not choose to follow its teachings.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All My Friends Are Skeletons

Pete and I play an exciting game. No, it doesn't involve handcuffs. But it could. I guess. Anyway, it goes like this: Pete is talking about something, then says something out of the blue. The other day it was "That's what I can do with the frozen flounder."

Tata: Wait, what will you do with the frozen flounder?
Pete: Quesadillas. Red pepper. Sharp cheese.

The game is now ON.

Tata: When, my dear, can I eat that?

I love this game because the rules are so flexible.

Pete: Restaurants serve brunches to get rid of leftovers. That's what they're made of, you should avoid those.
Tata: I should? I didn't realize!
Pete: Yep, I can't tell you what I've put into a walk-in on Saturday night, knowing it was going out on the buffet Sunday morning.
Tata: You know, there's no need to go to brunch. You could put brunch on a pizza.
Pete: I don't know...
Tata: Sure, you could. Peppers, onion, turkey sausage, a layer of herbed ricotta on whole wheat crust, perhaps a post-oven drizzle of hollandaise. That's breakfast, baby!
Pete: You're glad I thought of it, smartypants?
Tata: Exactly: when can I eat that?

We have what can only be described as happy accidents. Pete made a turkey meatloaf. Everyone since Betty Crocker looks at those and thinks about ketchup. I thought about cranberries. So while I was leaving the meatloaf in the oven twenty minutes longer than Pete instructed, I put a sauce pan on the stove, minced a chipotle pepper and tossed in a tablespoon of the adobo sauce, and poured in some orange juice. They simmered with a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar and a mess o' dried, sweetened cranberries. When, to our surprise, the tater tots needed another few minutes - dude, I'm old enough to vote twice, I can eat some tater tots now and then if I hanker for 'em - I added a little more orange juice. This reduced sauce, ladled coyly over really moist turkey meatloaf, made me jealous later that I wasn't eating that.

I love this game.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Solve A Problem Like Maria

The only difference between my today and my any other day is you can see the dancing people too.

As you were -


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sina Mali, Sina Deni

Sometimes, you watch and listen for a very long time, then suddenly you know how to fix exactly what's wrong, and how to do it. Watch this:
...the Obama administration is shaping up to be robot-friendly. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released yesterday his proposed cuts to a variety of military technology programs, and it looks like good news for unmanned systems.

While some high-profile programs like the F-22 Raptor are being scaled back, and the manned vehicles that are part of the Army's Future Combat Systems program are going to be re-bid, Gates specifically left funding for "robotic sensors" and unmanned vehicles like the Predator. He also suggested increasing the initial fleet of Littoral Combat Ships - the LCS is designed to carry a number of mission modules to be deployed in the littoral area of the ocean (relatively shallow water, near shore, where most mines are deployed), and among those modules are AUV systems.

Okay okay okay, now take this trip down Recent Memory Lane:
This is an ingredient-driven outbreak; that is, potentially contaminated ingredients affected many different products that were distributed through various channels and consumed in various settings. The recalled products made by PCA, such as peanut butter and peanut paste, are common ingredients in cookies, crackers, cereal, candy, ice cream, pet treats, and other foods. Consumers are advised to discard and not eat products that have been recalled. To help consumers identify affected products, FDA has initiated a searchable database of recalled products that is updated daily or as additional recalls are identified. To date, more than 2,100 products in 17 categories have been voluntarily recalled by more than 200 companies, and the list continues to grow.

In January, the recall list was expanded to include some pet-food products that contain peanut paste made by PCA. Salmonella can affect animals, and humans who handle contaminated pet-food products also are at risk. It is important for people to wash their hands – and to make sure children wash their hands – with hot water and soap before and, especially, after handling pet-food products and utensils.

Any management consultant will tell you you should never tailor a job to the employee, and I fear we've tailored our governing to the governors. No, no, no. Maybe that worked during the cold war, but after a while everything gets stuffy and our needs as a people and employers have changed. So here is my brilliant idea: let's put the American Wehrmacht in the hands of the scientists, social workers and bureaucrats. What? you ask. Isn't it? It is not. Obviously, underfunded environmental nerds will wage eco-friendly war, when they're done eating their free-range tofu pops, and social workers know how to wring $1.50 out of a buck. They're old hands with compassion and bake sales. This, I truly believe, is the way to wage war: cheaply or not at all. Scientists are used to having their funding yanked the moment they discover something promising, which would really motivate them to either commit genocide economically or force them to quit it and invent something useful. And that would be good for everyone.

The really brilliant part of my brilliant plan: put the Pentagon in change of Healthcare, the EPA and Education. The generals have proven they can deliver - um - something. We need little children trained to read? Send in the Army Corps of Engineers. Those children will be reading in no time. We need healthcare for everyone, shore to shore, in America? Dude, who sees the big picture like the Pentagon! What do we need like a global war on polluters? The Pentagon has proven it can handle the gazillions of dollars we're dumping into it at a rate that year after year exceeds the military budgets of the whole rest of the planet combined. Let the Pentagon keep its literally unimaginably ginormous budget and give us what we as employers really need: laser-like focus. Think of it: Pentagon hospitals, nursing homes, organic co-ops and animal shelters. Suddenly mission creep might mean sexay-sexay expanded Social Security, Unemployment and Welfare. I'm telling you it's a match made in Heaven, and it would be brilliantly good for everyone.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Take Only What You Need

Johnny, Poor Impulse Control's Southwest Bureau Chief, sends back this detailed communiqué from Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Yes, there is such a place. Do I know there was a television show by the same name? I do, but it's just a coincidence, like Intercourse, Pennsylvania and that North Brunswick is south of South Brunswick, New Jersey. No one is that casual about place names. That's why you go to arenas that share the same names as ginormous corporations: because names come from God. I read that somewhere. So here we are in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. It's a coincidence. Shut up.

Plainly, it's not all glamor. I was thinking the other day about the gaps between what we see and what it might be possible to see. At the height of my artistic rampagery, a photographer and I combed the rusting ramparts of shipyards and power plants for industrial stalagmites and stalactites of great scale we could use in what graduate students refer to as body art. Finding the rusted cityscapes became a hunger for us. In retrospect, it's kind of a miracle we never got arrested, which would have been an excellent career move.

You see the sign. You may see what it was supposed to be. Perhaps you make signs or grew up in a forge. If you did, I'm glad you got out, those are hot. You have insight into what was, perhaps not just at the beginning but also over time. You see the pride someone felt the first time he flipped the switch on a new sign. You see the fatigue of late nights, beer sweat and unpaid bills. You see someone turning off the sign for the last time and locking a greasy door. You feel the wind blow. All that's left is a picture of love, of this place. Once upon a time, happily ever after.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who Doesn't Notice All the Others

New York Times:
Oil Companies Loath to Follow Obama’s Green Lead

In other news: Duh.
The Obama administration wants to reduce oil consumption, increase renewable energy supplies and cut carbon dioxide emissions in the most ambitious transformation of energy policy in a generation.

But the world’s oil giants are not convinced that it will work. Even as Washington goes into a frenzy over energy, many of the oil companies are staying on the sidelines, balking at investing in new technologies favored by the president, or even straying from commitments they had already made.

Our top story tonight: Duh.
BP, a company that has spent nine years saying it was moving “beyond petroleum,” has been getting back to petroleum since 2007, paring back its renewable program. And American oil companies, which all along have been more skeptical of alternative energy than their European counterparts, are studiously ignoring the new messages coming from Washington.

Duh: film at 11.
The administration wants to spend $150 billion over the next decade to create what it calls “a clean energy future.” Its plan would aim to diversify the nation’s energy sources by encouraging more renewables, and it would reduce oil consumption and cut carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

The oil companies have frequently run advertisements expressing their interest in new forms of energy, but their actual investments have belied the marketing claims. The great bulk of their investments goes to traditional petroleum resources, including carbon-intensive energy sources like tar sands and natural gas from shale, while alternative investments account for a tiny fraction of their spending. So far, that has changed little under the Obama administration.

When we return from commercial: traffic, weather and Duh.
Perhaps not surprisingly, most investments in alternative sources of energy are coming from pockets other than those of the oil companies.

A gum-popping tween could spot the stupidity of this discussion. Oil companies have no obligation to develop anything. Nothing at all. In seventy years, they'll be out of business if they don't, but that's their problem. Our problem is what we are doing and not doing to develop clean energy sources, and by 'we' I mean you and me. We. Why doesn't the New York Times know that?


Monday, April 06, 2009

I'd Be Running Up That Hill

NEW JERSEY (AP) - Local woman Tata LongItalianName had nothing to say Monday night in what friends, relatives and acquaintances declared was a near miracle.

"Holy crap! Pour some adult beverages and put an APB out on missing bass players!" exclaimed Siobhan Pseudonym, a long-time "associate" of Ms. LongItalianName. "Those bass players didn't just get up and walk away!"

"My sister Domenica? Has nothing to say? Was she conscious?" asked Daria MarriedSomeDude. "Was she eating - because sometimes that's the only way to tell."

Ms. LongItalianName touched up paint in the attic, worked on website construction and scratched her three cats for two hours Monday night without uttering a word. Those who've known her longest expressed surprise.

"She what?" asked Kim LongItalianName, Tata's mother. "Hallelujah!"

Ms. Pseudonym hurried to assure the public there was no cause for concern. "She can't help herself. She'll be complaining again by breakfasttime."


Sunday, April 05, 2009

See Them On the Beach

An hour ago, I was upstairs rowing when I felt a truck stop in front of the house, but I was rowing so I didn't get up to find out if it was selling ice cream. I immediately forgot about this truck because I have no attention span and I almost never eat ice cream. Some time later, Pete mentioned the fire trucks parked in front of our house. I have to say I was really surprised. When your house receives that kind of attention, usually you're aware of something a little different going on. The strangers with the big yellow coats are a tip off. Pete said the trucks were actually addressing an incendiary situation two doors down and their presence in front of our house was merely friendly. I wondered if we should bake something but that seemed like pandering. Every gust of fresh air carries with it an intensely chemical smell, familiar for all the wrong reasons: grease, lighter fluid and something else I'd rather not think too much about. The lights are very twinkly.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Take Off Your Watch, Your Rings And All

Photo: Bob Hosh

Yesterday, Minstrel Boy told me a story that reminded me of another about Mullah Nasrudin, the Sufis' Wise Fool. I spent a little time looking for this Nasrudin story online, but I'm not going to find it. It's from one of Idries Shah's collections, so out of print even Alibris scoffs at my search. Someone from the commune gave them to me for my birthday when I turned 13. It was quite some time before I knew how lucky that made me. Online, though, one can find some delightful stories. Wikibooks:
Who died?
A traveler was passing through town when he came upon a huge funeral procession. Nasrudin was on a corner watching the people pass by.

"Who died?" the traveler asked Nasrudin.

"I'm not sure," replied Nasrudin, "but I think it's the one in the coffin."

In this format, some stories come with the lessons spelled out.
* Language is imprecise and we can sometimes miss the context of a question.
* Speak only the truth you know.
* Once somebody is dead, it matters little who they were in life.

Fantastic! Even I might learn something!
The Nature of the Unseen
It seems that the Master of Mirth and Chief of the Dervishes, Nasrudin, was once called to pontificate on the 'Nature of Allah' in the local mosque. Present were the many Imams and Doctors of the Islamic Law. Out of courtesy and because Nasrudin could not be counted on saying anything worthwhile, these illustrious guests explained and inspired the audience with their eloquence and wisdom.

Finally it was Nasrudin's turn to explain 'the Nature of Allah'.

"Allah ...", started Nasrudin impressively "is ..."

Nasrudin removed and held up an ovoid mauve vegetable from the folds of his turban, " ... an aubergine."

There was uproar at this blasphemy. When order was finally established, Nasrudin was reluctantly asked to explain his words.

"I conclude that everyone has spoken of what they do not know or have not seen. We can all see this aubergine. Is there anyone who can deny that Allah is manifest in all things?"

Nobody could.

"Very well," said Nasrudin, "Allah is an aubergine."

I love this guy!
* Don't talk about things you don't know about.
* If you can't see god in all, you can't see god at all.
* A fool can make a fool of learned men.
* The wisdom of the lord is the folly of men, and the folly of men is the wisdom of the lord.
* People know as much about god as a chick that is still inside the egg.
* Wise men can be trumped by a vegetable.
* Religious people do not really believe the things they say and think they believe.
* No description is equivalent to the thing it describes. To do so it would have to be the thing itself. Therefore, one can demonstrate but not describe the nature of Allah.

Wise men can be trumped by a vegetable. That explains a lot, I think.
Audience with the King
Nasrudin returned to his village from the imperial capital, and the villagers gathered around to hear what had passed. "At this time," said Nasrudin, "I only want to say that the King spoke to me." All the villagers but the stupidest ran off to spread the wonderful news. The remaining villager asked, "What did the King say to you?" "What he said - and quite distinctly, for everyone to hear - was 'Get out of my way!'" The simpleton was overjoyed; he had heard words actually spoken by the King, and seen the very man they were spoken to.

Imagine the progress we might make if these stories were taught for five minutes out of every news hour. Just...imagine.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Very Small Boys Talk To Me

This is not delicious.

Often, I buy a carton of soup cans and stash them in my filing cabinet at work for those days when time and patience run short. Ya gotta eat, right? Right. So I picked up a set of Select Harvest Italian Wedding Soup cans and yesterday, I ate some soup.

Let me make a prediction: sometime in the next two or three years, a food inspector will open a simmering vat of Select Harvest Italian Wedding Soup and discover where Trenton's sewers have been mysteriously draining for the last 50 years, and spinach.