Sunday, November 29, 2009

One. More. Day.

I hit 50,000 last night.

I have one more day of writing, one more chapter and an epilogue to publish. I have one more day of banging my head on the wall and then I'm done. Done! DONE!

I'd say that I'm sick of this project, but I passed that a week and a half ago. Right now I'm somewhere between uncontrolled drooling and an out-of-body experience.

EXCELSIOR!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hockey stick!

I've been holding off posting on the whole Climategate hoo-ha because I couldn't find a single source that summed it all up to my satisfaction, and I didn't want to inflict a link-dump on my readers right before a holiday. Luckily, a column at Real Clear Politics seems to fill the proper niche quite nicely. Read it! You will learn! Also there's a t-shirt! I'd wear it.

The update quotes at the t-shirt post are a little alarming, though (no pun intended). It seems many of the powers that be are determined to go ahead with climate change legislation, like that to be discussed in Copenhagen, regardless of what the actual data may say. After all, only the "forces of darkness" (read the link; I'm not making that up!) would oppose their efforts! It's for the poor! And needy! And why can't you see the truth? That data isn't truth! Gaia is truth! They'd argue longer, but the Gulfstream is waiting on the flight line and they hate to keep the stripp-- uh, flight attendants, waiting.

Michael Crichton's running victory laps in heaven.

UPDATE: Pajamas Media also has a good blow-by-blow analysis.

What's with all the sauerkraut, part II

Via Uncle Jay, a day in the life of an ObamaCare patient. Read it!

Worth mentioning: The part about the swipe card being damaged is a perfect example of why I don't trust any system without an analog backup.

NaNo Status Update

For those of you who were wondering, Sunday Night Recipes will resume on Dec. 6th, the first Sunday after NaNoWriMo. If you haven't been reading along over here, now is when you'll want to get caught up. And if you're planning to go back and read it all once the complete story is posted, don't wait too long -- I'm taking down all but the prologue and first two chapters on Dec. 12.

Also there will be no chapter published on Thursday, because that's Thanksgiving and nobody will be on their computers anyway. Go hang out/put up with your families! The regular schedule resumes Friday, Nov. 27, and concludes Dec. 1.

That's as may be, it's still a frog.*

Quote of the day (emphasis mine):

Political correctness is without doubt one of the most effective weapons in the real unacknowledged war that is being waged today, the war of self-subversion. It relies on the strategy of specialized euphemism to avoid naming things or events honestly and directly, gutting the vocabulary in order to avoid giving offense or to dodge the labor and inconvenience of confronting unsettling circumstances. What one recoils from naming, one cannot identify and adequately combat. Political correctness is different from what we might call “ordinary lying,” from misrepresenting, exaggerating, or omitting facts to promote our perceived advantage. It is a form of lying to ourselves with the surreptitious purpose of either flattering our presumed righteousness or evading the need to respond to menacing developments with vigor and courage. Political correctness is the lingua franca of what editor Beryl Wajsman calls “an ungracious age filled with inelegant self-absorption.” It is the idiom of cowards who, by refusing to name things candidly and unequivocally, will ironically bring upon themselves precisely what they wish to escape. For to call a thorn by the name of “rose” will not stop the bleeding when we pluck it.
And he even gets in a Transformers reference, if you can believe it. Read the whole thing.


* Title reference explained here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mmmm, j-school.

Friday morning, I had a conversation with a coworker -- who is a bright, intelligent woman and a veteran -- about the media and how they cover certain topics. She was absolutely flabbergasted -- full-on wide-eyed flabbergasted -- that stories about, say, H1N1 might be overblown to increase ratings. I had to literally explain step-by-step that a) news organizations are there primarily to make money, b) higher ratings means more money, and c) scary, overblown stories means higher ratings. I then had to explain that it wasn't a conspiracy in terms of men in waistcoats sitting in dark, smoky rooms and sipping brandy; it was just the way the industry works. My end thought was that if everyone on TV is freaking out about something, it's probably a lot less of a problem then they're making out. But if no one's freaking out -- if it's not getting any attention or being passed off as boring and not worth mentioning -- for the love of God, do some research. I also explained why I like blogs for getting news (experts instead of j-school grads, copious back-linking and instant fact-checking), and she asked me to send her the Web sites where I get my news.

This is why Barack Obama got elected.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I ... guess it's a milestone?

I've had comment spam before, always in the "Wow, I'm really interested in what you have to say. I'm only commenting so I can leave a link to my Web site." vein. I always delete it out of hand; I have no patience for shameless self-whoring. But this morning, I found I had a comment where someone was whoring ... actual whores. That's right; I had my first porn spammer. It's like I finally arrived!

Now where's the chemical shower?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Taking a stand, for good or ill.

While I would love to see this ...

[Sen. Tom Coburn] has threatened to invoke parliamentary rules to force the Senate clerk (or more likely, a team of clerks) to read the massive bill before the full Senate begins formal debate on the legislation.

The move is strictly according to Senate rules, which say any senator can demand a bill be read in its entirety before debate begins.
... I think it's far more likely Reid's 2,074-page bill will not be read. And that's a bad thing, for more reasons than I have space or patience to list, but the one that stands out to me the most right now is this:
[A] monthly abortion premium will be charged of all enrollees in the government-run health plan. It’s right there beginning on line 11, page 122, section 1303, under “Actuarial Value of Optional Service Coverage.” The premium will be paid into a U.S. Treasury account – and these federal funds will be used to pay for the abortion services.

Section 1303(a)(2)(C) describes the process in which the Health Benefits Commissioner is to assess the monthly premiums that will be used to pay for elective abortions under the government-run health plan and for those who are given an affordability credit to purchase insurance coverage that includes abortion through the Exchange. The Commissioner must charge at a minimum $1 per enrollee per month.
No.

If this passes, there's a good chance my employer will drop its coverage of its U.S. employees -- it's a Canadian company, and it will probably be glad we finally climbed on the universal healthcare bandwagon. One less thing for them to worry about in Toronto or wherever. But if when I can't afford the requisite personal coverage on my own, the only other option will be a government-subsidized plan -- and I would sooner go to jail than sign up for that. Not just because I believe it's a soul-sucking intrusion into personal liberty, but because I refuse to let my money subsidize the murder of infants in their mothers' wombs. I will not now, nor will I ever, willingly participate in such a program.

Molon labe, if you will.

UPDATE: This is a slightly edited version of this post; I had some rough language that I removed because it cheapened and distracted from my point.

Quote (and Rant) of the Day

"If your grandfather had been alive to see [Obama's bow to the Japanese emperor], he would have put a shoe through the TV." -- My mom

My grandpa did not spend three years blowing stuff up in the Pacific theatre so our president -- OUR PRESIDENT -- could bow before the monarch of a foreign country. Now, given that it is Japan, and a certain form of bow is their equivalent to our handshake, I would have had no problem had Obama bowed in that way. HOWEVER, he did not. It was a groveling, disgusting display of obsequiousness and sycophantic grubbing for approval; not the straight-backed forward lean of the formal Japanese greeting but the hunched stoop of a serial bootlicker. It was revolting. I quite literally recoiled when I saw the footage of the incident.

I am an American. That means I am equal to all, above no one, below no one. I make no bow to leaders, foreign or domestic; I look them in the eye and I offer them the same respect I offer to everyone else. I kneel only to my God. Before all others, I stand. And I will not put up with my president, the man who represents my interests at home and abroad, making a mockery of that spirit that makes us as a nation unique in history. I. Will. Not. Obama spit in the eye of every immigrant who came here to get away from that sort of foolishness, and he showed his contempt for our hard-earned freedom from the oppression of "divine" rulership. He is a craven, malignant narcissist, and when he's served his purpose his masters are going to step back and let him crash and fall. I just hope and pray that when he does, he doesn't take us with him.

Incidentally, this sort of ties in with yesterday's post, and with this column by John Hawkins, called "The Five Terrible Cruelties of Liberalism". It all comes down to the right to stand up and run your own life, taking the consequences as they come, without deference to or interference from another imperfect party. Millions the world over have fled monarchies and dictatorships for just that chance. For an American president to betray that right is more than just mere insult. It is blasphemy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meribah

Via Og, a lesson in what people really want:

People everywhere have a reasonable fear and loathing of government gone wild with their wars and planned famines, concentration camps and exterminations, lost families and broken lives. But libertarians sometimes conclude from this that in escaping from Big Brother people are also seeking freedom.

Occasionally that’s true. A bad experience with government can leave one quite cynical about it.

But as soon as most people get away from the jackboots as often as not they miss the softer side of tyranny: the guaranteed jobs, room and board, the socialized medicine, the lowered expectations.

So if one belongs to a power elite seeking global government, the first lesson learned from the twentieth century was different strokes for different folks.
In other words, most people would rather be told what to do than decide for themselves.

A year or two ago I reread most of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. One thing that struck me, that I had never noticed as a child, was just how capable her parents were: They took their family west to several homesteads, where the father built houses with his bare hands and the mother made and preserved almost everything they needed. They relied on no one for most things, and what things they couldn't make or find themselves they paid good money for, up front. They had a horror of being "beholden" to anyone for anything. The idea of Uncle Sugar stepping in with a handout wasn't even on the table, and they would have considered the offer a grave insult, to be accepted only with deep shame if it wasn't automatically refused out of hand. Assistance in times of need was accepted from neighbors, but always with the determination that it would be repaid. It's what used to be the quintessential American spirit, the drive to do for ones' self and to make it without demanding help from anyone else. To demand help from the government, short of community defense and large-scale land management, wasn't even considered.

Unfortunately, that seems to be a trait now unique to our nation and culture. Even in this country, you can see the differences between communities: NOLA vs. Biloxi, for instance. While the former was screaming from the rooftops for someone to come and help them, the latter just rolled up their sleeves and got to work themselves. The difference, frankly, is that NOLA was/is populated by a bunch of welfare wonders, while Biloxi is not. (Yes, I said it and I put it on the Internet -- and don't give me crap about it, either. I bled helping to put that city back together.)

It's the same with Europe and Canada -- they need our military and free-market healthcare as a back-up plan for when their own crappy systems fail. We're the only thing that lets most of the rest of the world live the way it does; without us being us, the planet would be even more in the crapper. And yet the powers that currently be are determined to take us apart at the seams and sew us back together so that we're just like everybody else. And when that happens, there won't be anywhere for everyone to go.

America is and always has been the square peg in a round world. What we want is not what they want. What we dream about is not what they dream about.

But they have a problem. They need us.

Individualists are the geese laying golden eggs.

They don’t want us dead. They want us compliant.
In other words, keep acing those math tests so we keep our scores up -- but stop breaking the curve. You're making the other kids feel bad.

Besides, I can't help feeling that I've heard this story before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's back to eating my soul. Again.

Man, I am not happy with how Chapter Thirteen turned out. I was in a rush, and it shows. The second half is major weak sauce. I gotta work on that. On to Chapter Fourteen!

UPDATE: You may notice I have posted an updated version of Chapter Thirteen. I couldn't stand the crap ending and I had to rewrite it anyway to move onto the next chapter. So I did 2,700 words tonight. But I broke 30,000! Woohoo!

Mr. Gore, your yurt is ready ...

The other day at the store, I refused a bag, saying I would carry my purchase in my purse instead. The cashier (an earnest young man) commended me for thinking of the environment. Without looking up from the debit/credit pad, I replied "Screw the environment. Polar bears killed my father." (They didn't; he's alive and well. But still.) Lived on that one for a week, I did ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Writer's Block

Yeah, that's pretty much it. Luckily, I don't have it, knock on wood.

Today marks the publication of Chapter Eleven, which I feel is a wicked cliffhanger, which makes me rub my hands and laugh maniacally because I know what's going to happen next, but you suckers have to wait until Monday. Bwa ha ha ha.

*ahem*

I also direct your attention to the appearance of the Traveling Shovel of Death, which is something of a NaNoWriMo injoke that pretends to be a tradition. Legend has it that no matter what kind of story you're writing, once you hear of the shovel it finds a way to appear somewhere in your tale. I can certainly vouch for this fact, as I had no plans to include any shovels (of Death or otherwise) prior to being told of the TSoD's existence. I feel very proud of myself for having worked it in there, as well as like somewhat of fate's meat puppet -- I didn't seem to have much choice in the matter when it came down to it.

24,107 words as of last night -- I'm almost to the halfway point, and ahead of schedule! Excelsior!

Just in case you weren't depressed enough already ...

Ace nails it. An extended quote:

Socialism never attends a party without an escort of coercive state behavior. It is a historic fact -- indeed, an economic fact -- that as the state seeks to regulate and control more and more economic activity, they must, of course, control more and more human activity.

Economic activity is human activity, after all. Economics is not somehow divorced from humanity. Economic choices are not made of their own volition, passive-voice, without an actor. People make economic choices -- and socialism demands an ever-increasing control over those choices, and therefore the people who make those choices. (Or, more accurately: formerly made those choices.)

Furthermore, apart from the basic definitional aspect of socialism that requires a loss of freedom in exchange, supposedly, for economic security: Socialism has almost never worked as intended, but rather creates new problems and new poverties and new ways to exploit the system (black markets, for one); socialism therefore always requires even additional laws against once-unobjectionable and perfectly-legal behavior. In other words, not only does socialism require a small buy-in, in the form of loss of freedom, but it is always accompanied by unplanned-for (?) additional losses of freedom to "correct" for all the systematic irrationalities and distortions it creates.

And then it gets even worse after that, because it always fails, whenever it's been attempted, and the newly-empowered state will fight to survive, as any organism does, and any organism is willing to do an awful lot of violence when its very existence is threatened.
And then of course there's this. And this. And that's all for Friday, because I want to enjoy my weekend. See you 'round the bunker, friends.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh god, now it's gnawing on my frontal lobes ...

Chapter Nine is up! And it sucks eggs, because I'm sick of the whole thing and want to quit. But that happens every year at the 10-day mark, and if I can muscle through it I'll make it to the end. I've already hit the 1/3 mark for my word count, so really I just have to hold out 'til I hit 35,000 words. Once you round the horn on that one, it gets so much easier.

I also have a pile of unwashed dishes in my sink, and I've had short nights every night so far this week. I'm cranky and I deeply resent my characters for existing. I want nothing more than to throw myself on the floor and whine "Whyyyyyyyy am I doing this?" over and over for an hour, solid. I won't, but it's about that time.

NaNoWriMo is an ugly, ugly thing. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Be sure to note: Those who passed the healthcare legislation will likely never have to live under it.

In the spirit of my post about cap & trade, I present this sick-making editorial outlining some of the many nasty tidbits in the healthcare bill passed by the House on Saturday. Right off the bat, we get this gem:

• Sec. 202 (p. 91-92) of the bill requires you to enroll in a "qualified plan." If you get your insurance at work, your employer will have a "grace period" to switch you to a "qualified plan," meaning a plan designed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. If you buy your own insurance, there's no grace period. You'll have to enroll in a qualified plan as soon as any term in your contract changes, such as the co-pay, deductible or benefit.
The next two bullet points outline how much these plans have to cost (it's a good 17 percent of pretax income in all but low-income cases), and that the terms of "acceptible plans" will literally be penciled in after the fact. You have to buy in, and then they tell you what you bought.

'Scuse me while I vomit for a while. It gets better (for certain values of "better"): Medicare gets gutted like a fresh fish, and there are provisions to send funding to squishy "community" programs and affirmative-action crap for nursing schools. Oh, and there's a good chance you could end up with a physician's assistant instead of an actual, you know, physician as your primary healthcare provider. But it's all free! Doesn't that sound like fun?

If you're still not convinced that this is a bad thing -- if you're all for government intervention, high taxes and the requisite economic stagnation, as long as everybody gets their unicorn -- let Caleb over at Gun Nuts put you some knowledge. The problem he notes is the same I spoke of in my recent "tax things Peter Singer doesn't approve of" post. The more control government has over something, the more it can dictate what each of us does in our day-to-day lives. Only instead of the traditional jackboots and batons, this latest go-round is opting for the more subtle "put it on a high shelf and lock up the stepstool" approach. Too much freedom means that people have the options to make mistakes, you see. And we can't have that.

A couple more years of this, I'll be sitting under my table with a blanket and a baseball bat, eating beans out of the can and wondering aloud where America went. I left it right there in the backyard, I swear ...

Sunday Night Recipe: Whoops

Dangit, forgot the recipe. My sister came by for the evening and we played Scrabble, and I completely spaced it. (I regret nothing!) So I'll just put it up tonight next month then, shall I?

NaNoWriMo ate my soul!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Incidentally, Fridays are my day off my diet.

This is why I've been trying so hard to lose weight. I didn't have endometrial cancer, per se, but it was reproductive -- and if not being a fatbutt means it won't come back and I get to keep what's left of my plumbing, then bring on the rice cakes.

Incidentally, I've been getting questions about how I lost the weight. It's very simple. I put less food in my face, and I get up and move every now and then. It isn't hard. The biggest element was that I truly, deep down wanted to lose weight. A lot of people I run into say they want to lose weight, but what they really mean is they want someone else to lose it for them. It's just like any other major life change: You can take temporary measures and futz around with plans you'll never follow, because that means you don't have to examine the bedrock of the problem, or you can buckle down and really fix what needs fixin'. When that happens, then and only then will you lose the weight (or verb whatever noun you're concerned with).

Incidentally, the last 10 pounds or so are proving the hardest to get rid of, mostly because I'm down to the little fiddly bits of fine-tuning my daily calories. When I was fifty pounds overweight, I could just cut out five hundred calories a day and lose weight like mad. Fat grams and things didn't make that much difference because I was dealing with large numbers. But now I'm down to where fifty calories either way can make a big difference in how my clothes fit, and I have to pay attention to the carb to protein ratio like my jeans depend on it. The walls are painted; now it's time to put away the rollers and break out the trim brush. Wish me luck!

Oh, and never forget: In Canada, I'd be dead.

NaNo woes, and a bone to throw

I have a sneaking suspicision that Chapter Five sucks eggs; it's a stand-around-and-talk chapter, and I get the feeling it's maudlin and it drags. Then again, it might secretly be awesome, and I just think it drags because it took so long to write. I haven't read it over yet. C'est la vie; I'll gut it later. This isn't the time for editing.

And oh yeah, healthcare vote and cap-and-trade and blah blah blah. I don't really have the energy for politics right now. Everything's going into the book. Hey, unemployment is at 10.2%! That's right, kids, we're in double digits for the first time in more than two decades. Be sure to visit the link! It has a chart. Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Moo.

In the same vein as my Cap-n-Trade post the other day, I present to you an editorial by one Peter Singer, a noted, quote, "ethicist" who has some very strong feelings about eating meat:

No reasonable person would want to abolish the tax on cigarettes. Unless, perhaps, they were proposing banning cigarettes altogether – as New York City is doing with transfats served by restaurants.

A tax on sodas containing sugar has also been under consideration, by Governor Paterson among others. In view of our obesity epidemic, and the extra burden it places on our health care system – not to mention the problems it causes on a crowded New York subway when your neighbor can’t fit into a single seat – it’s a reasonable proposal.

But in all these moves against tobacco, transfats and sodas, we’ve been ignoring the cow in the room.

That’s right, cow. We don’t eat elephants. But the reasons for a tax on beef and other meats are stronger than those for discouraging consumption of cigarettes, transfats or sugary drinks.
Catch that?

Singer's given reasons are the usual litany of leftist do-gooder talking points: We're killing the planet, animal cruelty, public health and blah blah blah. But read to the end -- scratch a little further beneath the surface -- you find what's really got him excited:

So let’s start with a 50% tax on the retail value of all meat, and see what difference that makes to present consumption habits. If it is not enough to bring about the change we need, then, like cigarette taxes, it will need to go higher.
"Here's what I think we should do. Since most people think I'm a crackpot aren't enlightened enough to make the right choice on their own, we'll make it for them through onerous and oppressive taxes that force them to do what we want. After all, people can't be allowed to just eat and do whatever they want, can they? Of course not."

I admit to having mixed feelings about cigarette taxes and public smoking bans, mostly because it's an activity that directly involves not just the user, but others. (I wonder how many smokers support ordinances about playing loud music late at night?) But the other things he mentions -- trans fats and soda pop -- fall square into the "meddling nanny state" category. Plus, in the case of eating meat, the effects of a person's actions on others are so oblique as to be absurd. Singer's condescension is particularly galling; he lays out his case like a parent explaining to a slow child why he shouldn't chase his ball into the street. His motivation is not the protection of public health or even animal welfare. It's the desire to make everyone conform to his worldview through whatever means he finds at his disposal.

I tell people that I'll stop eating meat when my incisors fall out and my eyes move to the sides of my head, like a prey animal. The human body is designed for an omnivorous diet. But even if it wasn't, that wouldn't excuse Singer's suggestion or his reasons for making it.

Incidentally, I read that when the Obamas celebrated their dog's birthday recently, the mutt received a "cake" made of quite a lot of veal. I have to wonder how that would fit into Singer's vision. Probably under the "for me, but not for thee" clause.

Woulda biked, but it was after six and dark as heck.

Ahem.

Parking in Broad Ripple sucks.

I was trying to go to the Monon Coffee Shop/House/whatever. I had to park across from La Piedad and walk. That's like five blocks away, in Broad Ripple, carrying a big purse and a laptop bag, alone, in the dark. I was not blessed.

And that's just Tuesday. I hate to think what the weekend evenings are like. And what's up with all those tiny little streets that should probably be one-way because they're so narrow, but they're not? It is not a driver-friendly part of town.

End rant and ... scene.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Go into a closet and ...

So I'm officially three days (and three installments -- read my story!) into NaNoWriMo. I have a schedule and an outline, and I'm sticking to them. There's a significant chance my story, although solid on plot, sucks eggs in execution. It's okay. It's a rough draft. It's supposed to suck eggs. I'm just trying not to get the jitters too bad before I'm even a week in. Blogging will probably be light this month due to my other obligations, so be warned. (You'll still get recipes.) Updates weekdays at noon, and twice on Mondays. Have fun putting up with me!

Now where's that coffeepot ...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday Night Recipe: Special Deluxe NaNoWriMo Edition

Measure 2 T. Columbian Supremo coffee beans into grinder and grind to a fine powder. Place grinds in a coffee filter, place filter in coffee maker and add enough water to the machine to make a full pot of coffee (machines vary; check your instruction manual). Pour 12 oz. of the resulting concoction into a mug and mix with sugar and/or milk/creamer to taste. Consume as many servings as required to meet the day's word count goal. Repeat for 30 days, or until you have a psychotic episode. (Be sure to take notes on the episode for use in next year's novel.) Enjoy!


Just as an explanatory coda, I started writing at 12:00:01 a.m. this morning. I've since hit 3,200 words out of a goal of 50,000. Click the little black box in the sidebar at noon on Nov. 2 for the first installment. Enjoy!