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Dizzying Intellect » 2008» October

Happy Halloween!

It wouldn’t be Halloween without pooch pictures, right?

(Click for full size)

I know. I know. But I only do it once a year, I stop when he gets exasperated, and he loves the attention. (Also? Over 100 pounds and perfectly capable of expressing annoyance.) He’s fine with it.

And I never use embarrassing costumes. You will never see him dressed as an insect or a snack food. Never. It’s ok as long as he looks cool, dammit.

Update: Previous years, since my archive pictures are still hosed (still looking for 2000):

(Click for full size)


What an odd and amazing thing…

On a Whim, Woman Buys Foreclosed Home and Gives It Back to Owner

Marilyn Mock said she was acting on instinct on Saturday when she decided to buy a house she had never seen for a woman she had never met. Mock was at the foreclosure auction to help her 27-year-old son bid on a house when she struck up a conversation with Orr, who was crying about losing her home.

Orr had bought the house for $80,000 in 2004 but fell behind on the payments. She lost her job a month after taking out the loan, and earlier this year she lost the house. On the spot, Mock decided to buy it, eventually bidding $30,000.

“She didn’t even know if I had a job or was a nut case,” Orr said in a story for Wednesday’s online edition of The Dallas Morning News. “She didn’t even see a picture of the house.”

Mock told a crying Orr she could stay in the house, making payments to her instead of a bank.

I can’t even imagine trusting a stranger that much (even if I had $30k lying around, which I don’t.), and not thinking, as Orr says, that she must be a nut case. Which, I mean, says a lot about me, I guess, but I hardly think I’m in the minority here.

What an amazing person Marilyn Mock must be. I hope her judgment of character is as flawless as her kindness.


And That Other Guy

I’m not, as I’ve mentioned in the past, a huge John McCain fan. I’ve mellowed to him, obviously, but I’m very glad that he has Sarah Palin — more conservative than he is — to keep him in check, a little.

My issue with him is not that I think he’s a bully. I don’t. I have issues with his Amnesty policies, particularly when they drift toward allowing illegals citizenship before the people who have waited patiently, legally in line — some for years. And his concept of the Constitution. He sees it as a little more flexible than I do, and that makes me… tense. I think he’s by far our best option right now, but I wasn’t going to bother writing about him. Then this article on his Best Argument fell in my lap, and it spoke to me. Especially this part:

There is something special about this country. The United States is exceptional. We are blessed by the good Lord, and in turn we have done more, far more, than any other people to spread freedom across the globe, and prosperity across the globe, and human rights across this great good Earth. We are a particularly good people — and John McCain understands all this and believes it with every fiber of his being, down to his very marrow, in a way that is deeply spiritual in nature. There is nothing fake about McCain’s belief in American Exceptionalism. His belief in this is as genuine, and as deeply felt, as is a son’s love for his father. He will defend this country, fight for this country, with every last breath in his body.

I love this country in a way that I’m not sure is possible without leaving it. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant — I don’t consider my extensive travel something that makes me better than anyone else, but it gives me a different perspective.

Visiting a foreign country gives you a very specific view of their lives, and it’s a completely false one. You see beautiful tourist attractions, meet lovely people who deal with tourists all day and speak English, eat at glamorous restaurants or interesting street food stalls — and you think you’re seeing the real thing.

But until you put down roots, you have no idea what it’s really like. Once you have to shop in the market, and make do without the things you can’t find; carry your groceries home and cook them yourself; find antibiotics when you get sick, or a dentist when you have a toothache; figure out how to get to work when you miss the train; wonder if that big demonstration against the local government is going to get out of hand, and how do you get to the Embassy again, if it does? and do all of this in a foreign language, because the folks who don’t work with tourists don’t speak English (though many of them, kindly, try) — well, you start to appreciate America, frankly.

It sounds selfish, and it is. We take the sheer amazingness of this country for granted. Our reliable electricity, and our two-car households, and our great doctors. To say nothing of our ability to speak our minds and rally loudly for the politician we like, and against the one we don’t, without fear of reprisal. And believe in whatever god we prefer, or none at all. And rely on our capable, caring local police forces, but protect ourselves from bad guys if they don’t arrive in time.

When a tsunami hit countries half a world away, our government sent $350 million dollars to help them. And that’s a lot of money. But individuals, 99% of whom will never see these countries, and who knew no one there, gave $1.8 billion. That’s the kind of country we live in, and the inherent generosity of spirit that comes from living here. And it exists, to this extreme degree, nowhere else on Earth. With help from our loyal allies, who get who we are, and appreciate that, we freed the Jews from Hitler and the Iraqis from Hussein, and helped dozens of countries and cultures in between.

It’s sappy and unpopular to be a proud American. I know that, and in a way, I can understand it. It’s old-fashioned and dusty, and something our grandparents would do. And I have to tell you, Russia was a really interesting place when I lived there. It was going through the biggest changes in nearly a century, and it was exciting. I still have soviet souvenirs that kids today would kill for. London was beautiful and smart and cultural, and crammed with Indian food, and my flat was gorgeous. But the most important thing I learned and experienced, in the years that I lived overseas, was how great I had it at home.

I wish I could hand that knowledge on a silver platter to every screaming demonstrator who hates this country, no strings attached. Free lesson with no need to suffer for it.

The fact that John McCain has that knowledge? Loves this country even more than I do? That makes it pretty easy to vote for him, actually, despite my issues with some of his policies.

Go read the whole thing. There’s a LOT more that I didn’t address. The author, like me, has his problems with McCain but sees the underlying, more important positives: his political and military judgment, his diplomacy toward countries that he could’ve legitimately refused (Vietnam, specifically), his genuine bipartisanship, his spending discipline, his hatred of corruption, and his record of consistently cutting taxes.

[via Hot Air]

Read more »

$25 Per Week

I started to write about this a few weeks ago, but got distracted. I’d actually be interested in trying it, if enough people are masochistic interested.

Greg Lukeman, executive director of Food Outreach, challenged his friends to eat for a week on $25.38. That’s how much a disabled Missouri resident typically would get in food stamps.

The idea: Bring awareness to the challenges poor people face when it comes to eating, as food costs continue to rise.

Lukeman persuaded Attilio D’Agostino, editor in chief of Alive magazine, state Rep. Rachel Storch and state Sen. Jeff Smith, all of St. Louis, to join him in the challenge the last week of September as part of Hunger Action Month.

Now, they’re shopping at Aldi, which is insanely, wonderfully inexpensive (and owned by the Trader Joe’s people, as I understand, which makes them practically holy). It’d be even harder to do this in a place without Aldi, as I don’t think even Walmart or Sam’s is as cheap.

The lists of what everyone bought, and their comments on the experience and what they’d do differently, are all in the sidebar. Some went the healthy route, some picked more-but-monotonous, some went minimalist but splurged on one thing.

I can’t even imagine trying to live like this full time, but I think it’d be fascinating to try it for a week. Not so much out of some warped kind of empathy (although I might actually develop some, which can’t hurt), but more out of curiosity. You’d have to really plan, I think, but it might not be too awful if you were fully prepared, and tried to think of it like Survivor or something.

Read the whole thing and let me know what you think. Could you do it? Does the mere idea horrify you?

Tumbleweeds in McDonalds

Obama Urges Voters to Take Day Off From Work to Help Campaign on Election Day

Man. It’s a good thing our economy’s in such good shape. Because otherwise, publicly requesting that 25% of the American population take the same day off from work could cause a real problem.

Really, though, Obama’s more important than the economy. (And he’s bound and determined to prove that he agrees.)

One Week Out

Most everyone who comes here knows, I’m sure, that I was a Sarah Palin supporter before McCain chose her for the VP candidate spot. I had actually supported her privately, and mentioned her to friends and colleagues for quite a while before it occurred to me to write that post. I didn’t realize that I might change some other people’s minds, because I didn’t think she had a chance.

I wrote some of my reasons for believing that she’d be a good pick, at that time.

We need a shake-up, and fresh thinking. And McCain needs someone who’s more conservative than he is, and who has the backbone to stand up to him when he does things (as he does) that piss off the base.

If you don’t believe that she has executive experience, I’m unlikely to change your mind at this point. Yes, Obama has a slightly longer record in the Senate than Palin has in the Governorship. The difference is that the US Senate is a committee. You place your vote, and you’re 1% of the final decision. No personal responsibility rests on you, no fingers are pointed, unless you happen to be a tie-breaker (which almost never happens).

As a governor, your vote is 100% of the decision. If you make a bad choice, there’s no one to be blamed but you. Alaska may not be the most densely populated state in the Union, but Palin’s decisions affected the whole state, every day. The “buck stopped” on her desk, as the saying goes. And they loved her for it.

If you don’t consider that to be executive experience, then I question how you could call Obama’s 1% responsibility “executive experience.”

Will she be ready to lead on day one, if the worst happens? If they win next week, then I think, yes, she can be up to speed by January. History and names and dates and conflicts can be learned. I’ve learned them, you’ve learned them, and we’re just bloggers. She’s got the whole executive branch ready to teach her everything she needs to know. What you can’t learn is poise and likability and confidence, and she’s already proven that she has those. Look at the international leaders that she’s met already. They love her, just like the Americans who’ve met her.

And there’s the question of McCain’s selection of her simply because she’s a woman. Obviously, that was a consideration, and I still believe it was a smart one. If he’d picked another old (or even middle aged) white guy, it would have been a mistake, frankly. The era of boring old white guys in this country has passed.

But the strength and brilliance that I see in Sarah Palin has little to do with the fact that she’s female. Otherwise, I would’ve supported Hillary Clinton, right?

She’s tough and resilient, without being bitter. She’s a rebel within her own party, fighting Republican corruption even when it hurt her reputation with them. She stands up for what she believes, even when it’s unpopular. It would have been easy for her to succumb to the corruption around her, to see how far under the radar they were, and assume that no one would be the wiser. But she took the hard road, instead. Sure, it took her a little time to start fighting after she became governor. Perhaps some people do start “kicking ass and taking names” the moment they have an opportunity, but she got her bearings first, and it made her more effective.

The corrupt politicians that embarrass us, and make us cringe and ask, “Why did it have to be a Republican?” embarrass her too. But she had the opportunity to fix it, and she did. I want to see her fix more. I want to see her (and John McCain) gut the American federal government like an old house with rotten fittings but good bones, and start over.

And I do want to address her being a woman, because it does matter. As much as I hate for it to be an issue at all, it is.

As a conservative woman, I’m tired of being represented in the media by screeching, angry harpies like Ann Coulter. And I don’t want to cling to every Senate vote by Hillary Clinton or Claire McCaskill, that doesn’t reek of socialism, as a victory for female politicians “trending right.” I want the women who represent me to do it every day, not once a year, making me feel like a weak, unloved wife who clutches at every tiny act of kindness like a life preserver, as I send my groveling emails thanking them for their votes.

I don’t have kids. I might never have kids. But I’d like to tell my nieces (and daughters if I ever have them), that this is what you can do.

You can be beautiful and feminine, and still be powerful and conservative and a force to be reckoned with. You don’t have to wear pantsuits and talk like a man and act like a man. You don’t have to be bitter and angry. If you lose your womanhood in order to get ahead, how does that help anyone? How is that remarkable? The glass ceiling should be able to be shattered with a high heel, as easily as with a sensible loafer or steel-toed boot.

I’m not a particularly feminine girl. Between the guns and the St Bernard and the Bob Vila Weekends, it’s not exactly a mystery that I’m a tomboy. I don’t wear dresses or low-cut blouses, or lipstick, or get manicures. But I wear my hair long and wear high heels to work, and I’ve never tried to downplay my looks. No one’s ever going to mistake me for a man. I’ve gotten where I am in business by being knowledgeable and competent, continuing to learn the tools of my trade – and I’m notorious for jumping in to fix the problems that my male colleagues can’t solve – whether I get credit for it or not.

Sometimes being capable and keeping the system running smoothly is more important. Sarah Palin knows that, and I know she can do it.

Please don’t give up, guys. There’s still a chance that we can win this, but it can’t happen if you don’t vote. I really want to see this amazing, outside chance come to fruition.

But win or lose, it’s been an honor to have watched this election, and been witness to Palin’s conservativism, knowledge, humor, and unfailing grace under disgustingly unfair fire.

Eighties Schmeighties

I’m sure everyone’s seen the “Take On Me” flavor of this meme.

This is much better — funnier and yet less obnoxious. (And a better song in general, really.) Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels (Literal Version)

(And because I hate you — hate you ALL — The Rick Roll flavor. Sadly, it’s also hilarious. I’m sorry.)

[via Robb's comments]

*bangs head on desk*

Government Foils Skinhead Plot to Assassinate Obama


No. No no no no no.

Why will these freaks not listen to me? We do this by V-O-T-I-N-G.

And why are all the crazies coming out right now? We know, your parents didn’t love you enough. You need attention. Please, adopt a puppy or something. They’ll give you twice the attention and love you need.

I mean, I guess I should expect neo-nazi skinheads to be this brainless. The blonde has been bred into them for generations. But I wish they’d stop embarrassing me. Jeez.


Via SondraK, check out these interesting early results from California:

Although the results of early balloting have not been disclosed, of course, how many Republicans and how many Democrats have voted has been revealed.

The results are simply shocking. The polls showed Barack Obama with an 18 point lead in California just a few days ago. The results thus far are the complete opposite. In the most liberal state in the entire country, the results are that 99,000 Republicans have voted and 96,000 Democrats voted. In the mail-in balloting the results so far are that 9,000 Democrats sent in their ballots and that 5,000 Republicans did so. So with nearly 210,000 people having voted,the Democrats have only a 1,000 vote advantage !

Obama will win California, obviously, barring a miracle of Biblical proportions — but look at those numbers. If he’s winning by such a small number of votes in absentee votes, it looks like he’s hurting.

California’s got a lot of military bases, so plenty of the mail-in votes will be deployed military, but the rest of them? Considering that Obama is the candidate who’s pushing people to vote early and/or absentee, this is at least surprising, and maybe, possibly a good sign.

Of course, it could mean nothing, as far as the numbers. But at very least, it means it ain’t over. I know I’ve said it, but I’m going to keep saying it. Don’t Give Up. Vote, folks.


Oh, for the love of pete.

A Halloween decoration showing a mannequin dressed as vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin hanging by a noose from the roof of a West Hollywood home is drawing giggles from some passers-by and gasps of outrage from others.

He says “it should be seen as art, and as within the month of October. It’s Halloween, it’s time to be scary it’s time to be spooky.”


It’s Halloween, see? So it’s hilarious. No, really. Har har, get it?

Quick, somebody make a Barack Obama one. It’ll be equally hilarious, right? Nooses are a laugh riot.

Honestly, why don’t people ever think?