Tuesday, July 27, 2004

'nuther warnin'

I'm going through a website consolidation as the Husband and I sort through business and personal webstuff and divide it up.  Since this means lots of stuff on this site will be moving, things might look weird at any given moment, in particular archival stuff.  Eventually I will get it all in the right spot again.

You have been warned.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Fat Stuff

I"m fat. Have I mentioned I'm fat? Oh yes, I'm fat. Plump. Rounded. Overweight. A Big Girl. I was a chubby baby. I had a short stint between 2 and 7 when I was sort of skinny, but I made up for it. All my life I've heard how fat I am, even when I look back at pictures and can SEE I was not. Fat people are evil, you know? Morally weak, selfish, greedy, all that.

And now obesity is a national epidemic. You read about it, I'm sure, and suddenly everything you could eat that wasn't celery was going to kill you.

Now someone is putting these ideas up for debate. Oh, I don't deny that I'd be happier -- at least I'm told and I believe it -- if I conformed more closely to our culture's ideas of feminine beauty. Yes, I'm sure that dropping 50 pounds would change my life, one way or another.

Then there'sKirsty Alley and her new show. Yes, that lumbering whale of a woman spread across tabloid pages all across the grocery store is going to be on TV again. (One tabloid had taken "sneak" pictures of her eating in her car. They had a whole collection of such pictures, perportedly all taken on the same day. Somehow, they didn't look right, and I was disgusted that they would think this report worthy). Yay to Kirsty. For this I will forgive you NOT repeating the role of Savik.

I'm a believer

'Hoax-Busting' Science Center Expands

I must admit, I'm not a big fan of "The Skeptical Inquirer". I think there are things that even scientists take on faith alone (although they will have some sort of equation to explain it). However, I'm all for anythng that gets people thinking.

There have been many a story about scientific distopias, about worlds and ways of life drained dry of creativity, imagination and joy by rigid insistance on demonstrable fact and conrete reality. Equally, there are many images of lives run by superstition and the strait-jacket of tradition.

It's that middle ground where things happen, you know, that place where science is used, not to automatically gainsay and shout down all the soft and vulnerable parts of the human experience, but to expand and explore and understand in more clear and repeatable terms those things that, up to know, might be known by other means.

I watched today a program on Discovery that discussed advances in using electricity to treat or compensate for medical conditions caused by malfuctions in the body's electrical system aka the nervous system. One of the segments discussed Japanese research into the nature of "chi" or "ki", an Eastern term meaning roughly "life force". Perhaps because, for many Asian people, "chi" is a reality, it is not automatically dismissed as religious hokum. While the studies have not determined what chi is, they are demonstrating it exists -- at least, that's how the data they are collecting is being interpreted.

And I resent that Harry Potter remark -- I wonder where science would be without science fiction and fantasy? I keep looking at my cell phone and wanting to say "Beam me up, Scotty."

The Hard Life

I am living a little bit (ok, a LOT) like I did in the summer as a kid.  Back then, with both parents working all day, my summer was all about staying in the house.  I'd read, watching TV, play piano, write, draw, play with my dog or my cat, watch more TV, and read more.  My sleep schedule would almost completely reverse, which my mother liked, I think, because it meant when she wasn't home, I was asleep, and thus not likely to get into trouble.

Life is like that now.  I really didn't like it all that much as a kid -- summers didn't mean much to me, as at the most I'd have a week or two when we'd go somewhere or I'd be sent somewhere.  Other than that. it was all about the house, being alone, and reading.  If I'd had a computer then and the Internet existed, I'd have...been about like I am now.

What has really changed since I was 14, 15, 16?  The changes are, I suppose, large enough, but aside from being better able to judge what I should and should not get upset about and what really requires my attention, I'm still just as prey to the demons of my mind, still just as unwilling to go outside, as I was then.

Now, however, I have more books and more cats.  And a computer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

and

I am not pregnant. 

It's definate.

Phew...and.....shucks.

Life may now continue.

So far

not pregnant --according to the home pregnancy tests I got.  Very definately not pregnant.  Last time I got a "No idea" response from the home pregnancy test.  And I'm told they give false negatives more often than false positives.
 
Still no appearance from Aunt Flo, though.  I'm going to wait a day or so more.  I hate doctor visits, and I hate going to the doctor to be told "Nothing's wrong" even more.  Mostly because it costs money, but there's an embarrassment factor, too.  Maybe I miscounted days.  Maybe I'm just off.  Maybe I'll find a giant cabbage growing in the back yard and that will solve everything.  Sex is great, but why bring baby-making into it, for pete's sake? 
 
Bah. 

Monday, July 19, 2004

Again

I might be pregnant.
 
Now, lemme back up a touch here.  I was pregnant last July, although I didn't really know it.  I had a miscarriage in August.  That was the big push to start this weblog.
 
Thus, being pregnant is not just a casual event.
 
At the moment, I'm fairly indifferent to the actuality of pregnancy.  What I find worrisome is going to the OB/GYN,  and possibly miscarrying again.  I opted out of surgery for my fibroids for a number of reasons I think I've enumerated here in numbing detail.  But man, I hate going to doctors.  I hate it.  Viciously.  Fervently.  Mister and Miss Medical Person, I don't like you.  Nothing personal.
 
But I have to.  I'm late and this time I MIGHT avoid the Miscarriage.  No desire to repeat that, all though my chances are high.  So I have to.  But man I don't want to.
 
The idea of being pregnant with braces on is just making me roll my eyes.  If I AM, I'll be getting the braces OFF just in time to go into labor.....*sigh*
 
everything feels complicated.

Friday, July 16, 2004

The News from Florida

I am rolling my eyes over this Woman Who Offered Pig as Tiger Bait Faces Charge story.

First, I'm sorry the tiger was killed. Tigers are big and can be dangerous and I'm sure the deputy felt scared and threatened when he shot the tiger. He felt he was protecting himself and it's hard to accuse that. The actions of the cat are subject o interpretation -- it could have been just as scared and threatened. It was being chased around by a bunch of strangers, it wasn't in home territory, and its actions were unpredictable. That it managed to get out at all is sad -- I don't blame the owner, because apparently he kept it safe and confined for many years. Cats are, to put it mildly, highly curious about what ever it is you don't want them to be highly curious about. They are also smarter than we give credit for. I've got a little Houdini of a cat (small size) myself who, despite best efforts, occasionally runs the neighborhood causing me a restless evening until he shows up at home again.

Now, the pig. I'm not buying the air conditioned Cadillac trunk story...my dad was very fond of the particular make of car and owned them for years. Not one that I can recall had an air conditioned trunk. Of course, this was some years ago and things change, but I still can't picture the need. In a technical sense, my Mazda, which has the fold down rear seats that open directly into the trunk, can be said to have an air conditioned trunk because the trunk compartment can be opened and is directly a part of the main passenger compartment. I still don't want to ride around in it.

Ok, the pig is being raised for food, and thus isn't a pet. Don't put it in the trunk. Put it in a live animal cargo carrier on a trailer, like you are SUPPOSED to.

Ok, the pig was offered as bait. As for using it to make the "real, authentic tiger tempting squealy noise", ok, that isn't all THAT crazy. Animals don't respond to recordings as if they were real much of the time. Since someone would have to be holding the pig, it wasn't being put in a pit trap or anything. This isn't really "cruel" so much as just a little wierd, but there's some evidence to indicate it might have worked.

I'm an animal lover. I have many pets, all of whom I consider my responsibility, all of whom I consider to have as much right to life and happiness as I do. No, I'm not nuts about this. I know they are animals. I eat meat (so do they) and I don't feel guilty about it. But I try to treat them with at least as much respect as I conjure up for humans, or rather, I try to treat most humans at least as well as I treat my animals. They should be so deserving. ;>

It's stories like this, by the way, that make living in Florida such an interesting experience. Ah, my home state.

When Big Brains Bet

Hawking Changes His Mind on Black Holes

What I know aout astrophysics would not fill a coffee cup, but it interest me all the same, especially the big sounding words. I've heard about this particular bet before (after all, I *do* watch the Science channel). It's sort of amazing that a mind like Hawkings not only has solved a problem, but that he changed his thinking -- and possibly lost the bet.

I won't understand this either, but I'll read all the big words.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Redesign Du Jour

Yeah, I like the new layout (although the old one is saved should I be overcome with nostalgia). My only frustrations are

1) I can't get a space between the top of the weblog and the ad banner and that looks bad
2) I CANNOT eliminate the border around the title picture and that bothers me. It only shows when viewing the loaded page
3) Cannot, cannot, CANNOT get the archive list to line up neatly. Never could, actually, and that is a constant irritant.

Been a while since I did a website and mostly I fiddle with the skeleton B-squared gave to me (the lovely man) because it works. I've considered doing the banner style across the top, but I never find a picture that suits me or the weblog. Bah. I'm not a web designer.

Anyway, tweaking will continue. And I think the cat was paid in tuna -- at least, I'd give tuna to that face.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Warning

Yeah, I'm working on a new design. I'm feeling somewhat minimalist, so things are vanishing, until I feel acquisative again and start adding in stuff. Some things may or may not be easily readable -- Lemme know if your system doesn't show this design well.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Latest

This week I read "The Naked Sun" and "The Robots of Dawn" both by Asimov, thus completing my defense against the "Him not a robot" movie. Now I'm turning my eyes toward the Foundation series that, somehow, I didn't read in my youth. Hey, I was into Heinlein, what can I say?

I am pondering the very small differences that make something made with meat, tomato and peppers either Mexican or Italian.

I'm enjoying a few last days of Lower Jaw Tooth Freedom, as come July 30th the spacers go in for the bottom half of the braces. This will happen just in time for a trip to New Orleans with a friend, oh rapture oh joy I wonder if the Cream of Wheat tastes different when it's Cajun...

I've been promising to bake myself some brownies but too lazy to actually create highly fattening food for myself. If only I could lazy my way out of 30 pounds...

In a freak cat-induced accident a kitty toe claw pieced the bottom of my foot, on the ball under the second toe. It now hurts like blazes when I walk on it, but I can't determine why. Feels like she left the claw in there. This was about 5 days ago, and it just started hurting. Makes no sense. Freak cat-induced accident pain rarely does, and this is from a woman who's had her eyelid snagged by cat-claw TWICE.

Something from my possibly Mexican/possibly Italian dinner is stuck in my braces. Must Go Brush.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Lousy Movie Script

U.S. Mulls How to Delay Nov. Vote in Case of Attack


A nation is attacked by an outside political entity and goes to war against the countries it blames for the attacks (which happen to hold vast amounts of a particular very important natural resource). The nation also instigates various legal methods that allow it to police its citizenry, under the guise of protecting itself from that outside entities or other entities like it. The leader of that nation has issued various levels of charged rhetoric about patriotism, religion, and similar topics, usually using the idea of threats from outside to stir public emotions. AS that leader is facing a potentially risky election, the elections are postponed due to furor over more percieved threats. The election is postponed.


I've read too many science fiction novels, too many political thrillers, too many histories...if someone were to present me with that scenario, I'd tell them it would make a lousy movie. Such things don't happen. Elected leaders don't win great popular support by fomenting fear in the populace against some threat or group and then sweep into dictatorship as a reaction to violent events that are performed (or at least blamed upon) those groups...I mean, can you think of a single time when something like that actually happened?

Who's Bleepin' Who?

Afraid of Fines, PBS Bleeps Words in Dreyfuss Show

*Sigh* Yes, of course, the downfall of the so-called American Civilization will come through the use of mostly Saxon derived words refering to acts of sex and the elimination of feces.

I've had a long fascination with the idea of "bad words", words so terrible that the mere utterance of them can cause fainting, bleeding from the nose, and heavy frowns. Isn't it a rather interesting idea that some words are "bad" while other words are "good"? If we break it down, you'll find the prejudice is quite old and based on some very unlikely ideas that really hold no water these days.

The most common reason I've found dates back to William the Conquerer and his Norman Invasion of Saxon England. You see, the Normans were French speaking, and thought their Latin-derived language the height of cultural sophistication. Those Germanically derived Anglo-Saxon words that were standard fare before were now language of the peasantry, low-class, and crude. The Normans had all the land, the political power, and the backing of the Church. The Saxons, therefore, took over the cussin'. Since everyone who's anyone wants to be with the current "in" crowd, the French/Latin words for things became the rage. We derive most of our "good" words from Latin via this path. You don't "shit", you "deficate". You don't "fuck", you "copulate".

Now, let us examine our ideas a bit further.

I cannot currently think of a "bad" word that doesn't cover an act of sex or an act of elimination of bodily waste. We consider these things bad, as if there are laws against them. True, we've got a long history of sex regulation, but there are relatively few commandments about discussing where one poops. Killing, however, is in the top ten, but that word isn't considered bad. You can say, in a mixed crowd at church in front of the pastor, "This cold is killing me" and everyone will nod sympathetically. You are speaking metaphorically, of course. The cold isn't really "killing" you -- although in reality it could. Say "This cold is fucking me over", and despite the fact that you are still speaking in metaphor (and a highly unlikely metaphor given the asexual reproduction of viruses), you'll stop traffic. You MEAN the same thing, but the word "kill" is more acceptable than "fuck".

Here's some more opinion on the whole bad word idea

Now, back to this idea of being protected from hearing "bad words" and the selection of which "bad words" from which we, the US public, must be protected. Is this really necessary? Now, I'm perfectly happy with the idea that sometimes a good, shocking word to really express one's emotional state is a fine thing and deserving of preservation. It is rather sad, in a way, that through overexposure and overuse most of the better cursewords have lost their power and now only raise eyebrows or cause rolled eyes at most. I wish that the use of such a word, rather than being offensive, simply served as an indication of the user's strong emotion and that the emotion itself was the attention-getter. Honestly, the use of the word "fuck" as a punctuation mark or space filler (like "umm" or "errr") has been a terribly downgrading of a fine vulgar word.

I still don't feel any danger from it. I feel no more danger from hearing (or from a child hearing) "fuck" (I refuse to use the code "the f- word" -- that's just STUPID because if you know what that means, you are hearing the word in your head, and somehow that's BETTER than seeing it in print or hearing it in your ear? Ugh.) than I do from hearing or from a child hearing the word "kill". Preferably, "kill" would cause more concern. "Go fuck yourself" is, I think, a rather lesser crime than "Go kill yourself", but that's a secondary set of arguments.

And then there are euphamisms, for those times a latinate word won't do. "Poop" is preferable to "shit". Why? "Pee" or "Pee-pee" is better than "Piss", somehow. Is it the actual sound of the words, those hard final consenents being too harsh? Why do we say "make love" or "sleep with" or even "do" instead of "fuck" when we mean PRECISELY THE SAME THING? I heard my first "bad word" when I was less than 2 (and used it, according to my mother, which caused her to stop and review her own language). This was in the late 60's so I certainly didn't hear it on TV. Who is being protected? From what are they being protected? Why is this protection needed?

We still live in that Norman/Saxon world, you know. We ascribe certain kinds of language to "lower classes". We've also attempted to turn that on its head by making it (at various times) a sign of "cool" or other social credit for people from upper socio-economic strata to adopt "words of the street", and then turned right around an demonised such useage, not as crude or low class, but as posing. We've raised and lowered our estimation of such words, and of the people who commonly use them.

You know what's more interesting to me, though? Despite the bleeping, the majority of people will still know exactly what word was being used.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Randomantical

For some reason, while standing in Costco today waiting to check out, it occured to me that the word "Dietetic" was something I remember a lot from the 70's, but can't seem to find around anymore. I think, if I were to go to that little place in the grocery store where all the old fashioned sugar free stuff is (the stuff that was sugar free back before feeding a lab rat several pounds of Saccahrine gave it cancer, back when Tab had TV commercials) you can find that.

It's an awful word. Why does it haunt me?

These are the kinds of thoughts I have on Sundays when my sleep is so completely screwed up and I'm in the giant mega-land of buying overload and giant size that is Costco.

Anyone else got a word like that, a left over of another era that floats like wreckage (would it be flotsam or jetsam?) on the otherwise placid surface of your mind?

-----

I've been collecting weird word books of late. First, I was hunting around online when I found The Online Dictionary of Slan, which is not only a collection of (Mostly British) slang words, but of links to other slang dictionary. Mysify your friends, be trendy and hip with people you'll never admit to knowing in public, puzzle your parents and embarrass your kids with these weird and nifty words.

From there, I picked up The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Ever Forgotten and Altered English: Surprising Meanings of Familiar Words. There's a third book by the same author called Forgotten English but I haven't acquired it yet. Do enterprising scholars create lists like this for Italian or Lithuanian or French? I've argued with a European friend about whether English is really a very complex language. He says no, compared to such challanging tongues as Greek or Dutch, but I've heard people from Japan and Germany complain about the erratic nature of English, the multi-purpose words and the random nature of grammatical structure. I've often observed how easily English picks up words from other languages and just assigns them a new meaning without a second thought.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

MIght be the reason

Report Shows Big Drop in Reading in U.S.

Maybe this explains the callous disregard screenwriters, directors and producers feel is acceptable when translating literature to the screen. Maybe only a few of us actually DO know the difference. Of course, those of us that do are practically considered crackpots and eccentrics by movie goers.

Let me put in a qualifier. I *can* get adamant about a book translation to screen not being EXACTLY LIKE THE BOOK, but I know just enough about movie making to realize it just can't happen. Some things are particular to books. Sometimes a book is written in a certain time and place and things in that time and place no longer mean anything to us, or have been replaced with other thing. When you are reading, you can usually get passed that (although sometimes, especially in SF, they really date the work).

I don't believe it is possible to bring a book to screen EXACTLY the way the book was written. Movies are a different media. They require other techniques and skills to make them work. Things you can get away with a book using a reader's imagination are much harder to execut when they can be seen and heard. So, ok, I'm fine with that.

Peter Jackson proved that you can hold true to the center of a book, to its essence and meaning, while still observing the rules of movie making. You can keep dialog, names, events, themes and relationships true to the author's intention. A good book will hold up just fine with a minimum of tinkering. The movie we see might not match up with our particular individual vision of the book, but it should be recognizable to anyone who read the book.

======================================================

I remember when "Bladerunner" first came out. Now, in case you didn't know, "Bladerunner" was a young adult SF novel written by Alan E. Norse, concerning a future world trying to control population by restricting procreation and requiring anyone who got medical treatment to be sterilized. You had so many times to see a doctor before ~snip~. This meant children, too. An underground network of doctors formed to provide "black market" medical treatment. However, to be caught with surgical tools outside the hospital was a crime, so "bladerunners" would deliver the tools and take them away. I read the book years ago and have a copy now.

If you are familiar with Philp K Dick, you know the movie was based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Not a snappy movie title, I'll admit. The producers got permission to use the Norse title (check the end credits). I saw the movie and was expecting a completely different story. I've never read the Dick story and I must admit I might never, because, once I got over the surprise, I really liked the movie. I'd hate to read the story and be dissapointed again. That would be rotten. Did the movie makers do it "right?" I dunno. Did they make a good movie? As far as I am concerned, yes.

Does this mean that if you don't read the book, any movie based on a book can do whatever the hell it wants. Maybe. But it's a nasty thought.

So why don't people read more? How many of you have read one work of fiction this year? I'm only up to 5, and that is wayyyyy below average for me, but I've been reading nonfiction a lot this year, too. What about you?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Something not to watch

I've been looking at trailers and ads and reading about the upcoming "I,Robot" movie. Now, I like a good, dumb, action film, especially if it has Will Smith in it -- an actor who is likeable, but not particularily great. He's fine with me.

But I'm not going to see "I, Robot". I'm not even posting a link to it.

Yes, I read the book. I've read most of the Robot stories by Asimov. They were, as a group, a great picture of a potential future, and "Caves of Steel" was a good detective novel. I recommend them, despite their age, as even the 1950-esque feel of the books does not interfere with the story.

Just so you know, the movie ain't the book. The script was written and didn't look too great, so Fox bought the rights to the Asimove properties and then took the name and some characters and phrases, and sprinkled them around the script. This has robots, and it's a detective story, and the robot is the prime suspect. After that, ain't nuthin' the same.

That's too bad, because the book "Caves of Steel" (which is NOT "I, Robot". That's a collection of stories) is a good book that would have made for an interesting movie. The main idea there was a human detective, uncomfortable in his highly technological, overcrowded, underground and robotically populated world, having to work with a robot detective from another culture in which it humans live very differently and view robots and each other differently.

Lije Baley and Daneel Olivaw ('R'. Daneel, actually, to denote his robot status)were fine, round, good characters. The book tells a good, engaging story, with plenty of stuff going on and lots of room for special effects. It could have been updated for modern sensibilities and made into a fine scrip (Hell, the book isn't even 200 pages long) It had everything most adventures have -- two protagonists who must work together despite great differences, a highly puzzling problem that has very wide consequences, interesting depictions of the future and how people will change and live with those changes, and, yes, there's action. Asimov was no slump. The dialog works fine. Hell, a screen writer wouldn't have to do that MUCH, really.

Oh, except read the book a few times and resist falling into cliche. Hollywood likes scary robots, robot bad guys, robots as a threat. From Metropolis to Frankenstien to Terminator, there's a lot of steroptype to draw on, which makes the movie easy. No thinking required. Robots as heros are a harder sell. Robots as just....robots, something new and similar but not the same as humans...that doesn't make it in Hollywood. Too complicated.

So I'm skipping this one. I may re-read the books, though. Just opening up Caves of Steel to check the names got me caught up in the first few pages and I had to break away to finish typing. Gotta love that. Besides, as long as I have a working imagination, no movie will ever look as good.

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Irony is Overwhelming

It's Fun for Powell at the 'YMCA'


Did I mention that I sing with the Orlando Gay Chorus? And that at the spring concert they sang "YMCA" to much hilarity? And that this had to be a moment of Karaoke Gold?

My mind reals. Either Powell is the most absolute coolest Republican possible and Rush Limbaugh hates him, or someone is standing backstage laughing his/her ass off and repeating "Oh, it was just a famous disco song -- the costumes? All American icons!"

I can't help it. I'm smirking. Mightily.