Thursday, January 31, 2008

What a political blog post is NOT supposed to be.

Some thoughts:

Somebody DO something!

So we've got a lame duck president, who continues to sign bills into law and comment that he won't follow them, who wants MORE surveillance powers and thinks lawsuits against his pals should be ex post facto taken off the books, and now I hear on NPR that he's making treaties with Iraq that he won't call treaties and building permanent bases that he won't call permanent, because if he calls them something else, apparently that makes it so the un-permanent bases are legal and the un-treaties, while binding, don't need ratification.

Take the craven Republican congress away, and his truly despotic nature came to the fore -- in the face of the craven Democratic congress.

I am furious! This administration is a blight and he STILL keeps coming up with new and worse wrongs to commit and nobody's DOING anything to stop him!

I don't want to advocate violent upheaval and active dissent and passive resistance and civil disobedience, but come on! What do I do inside the rules that ends the flagrant horror?

So, it's all waterboarding under the bridge?

Before he was confirmed, Mukasey wouldn't say whether waterboarding was torture because he didn't have the information. So now?

He won't say if waterboarding is torture because the CIA doesn't do it (or at least, it isn't policy) and they're not planning to do it. Never mind that they unquestionably DID it. And why is he not going to look into whether it WAS torture? Because if he "second-guesses" his predecessors, that sends the wrong message. It tells the interrogators that they if they get told to do it and later it "turns out" to be torture, then they might get in trouble just for following orders. And that's the wrong message because...um...

Seriously, the only way to finish that sentence is "because they won't do what they know is torture if we tell them to." Anyone care to argue that would be "the wrong message"?

Luckily for us, this isn't the only vile fume issuing from Mukasey's mouth. He also put forth the position that whether
waterboarding (or whatever) "shocks the conscience" depends on the circumstances. Like, if the information that might result from the "interrogation" would save lives, then it might not be torture.

I _had_ thought that all this absolutism about torture was just unserious. I mean, it's _only_ torture; obviously _sometimes_ it's not so bad. If it was wrong all the time, you'd call it something else, like, uh...

The snark in me assumes the Republican position would be that sentence ends in "homosexuality", but more seriously, isn't the whole friggin' point of banning TORTURE is that "even in extremis, when lives are at stake, we DON'T DO THIS?" What moral high ground are you claiming with "we don't torture, but we do exactly things that in other circumstances would be torture if it's really important"?

I'm not accusing Mukasey of dissembling and hypocrisy at orders unthinkable. I'm writing words that in other contexts could assert that he's an unthinkably hypocritical liar, but given the dire circumstances and horrific scenarios that could result if he ISN'T called an unthinkably hypocritical liar, the potential benefits of this action preclude labeling it an accusation.

Granfaloons

So, I had a touch of an epiphany during a conversation with my wife's uncle. He talked about grand jury duty, and I found that he used words to mean something I would use the antonym to mean. Kind of like "flammable" and "inflammable". For example, he said he was a conservative, so he thought you needed to have some evidence to indict someone. Or similarly, that busting someone for drug possession and drug paraphernelia possession because the weed was in a baggie, he didn't think that was right. He didn't know if I would agree, since you know, I might be liberal, but that was his opinion. A different uncle assumed I wouldn't like his thoughts about health care at all -- when he expounded those ideas, they sounded exactly like the Australian system.

The first realization is that we attribute our virtues to political designations even when they don't deserve it -- there's nothing "conservative" about "innocent until proven guilty" and rejecting sneaky end-arounds by DA's to try to rack up felony counts. But there's nothing "liberal" about that either. In many real ways, we are not politically divided at all.

The second realization, after reading Ronald Reagan's rejection of "Trust me" government and John Ashcroft's demands to preserve privacy rights (?!) (see Glenn Greenwald), was that the labels were just teams: the Republicans spend like "Liberals" when they're in power, and the Democrats serve big business when they're in power. It's very 1984ish.

Politically speaking, the party in power tries to extend and calcify the reach of government generally and their hold on the reins, and the party out of power tries to limit (executive) government control and promote opportunity -- for them to wrest control.

It would make more sense for citizens to identify as "pro-incumbent" or "pro-opposition", rather than R or D. That the politicians would switch party titles when they switch roles would be more honest hypocrisy than what we have now -- an endless redefining of liberal and conservative and neoliberal (which means conservative) and neoconservative (which means fascist, which Jonah Goldberg tells me means liberal) to fit the exigencies of the moment, resulting in a cascade of political identifications that, though more confusingly used, are in fact rather less meaningful than "Bloods" and "Crips".

I'm mostly curmudgeonly, bitter, pessimistic, etc. But there's a small silvery lining here: despite the similarly disingenuous use of the word "bipartisanship", there really are (potentially) swaths of stuff that government could do (or get out of) that "liberals" and "conservatives" alike could agree on, if they didn't vilify it by association with the other camp. I don't know that this is true of the politicians claiming to be the heads of those two groups, but the actual people on the ground are a different story.

Death in Georgia

The New Yorker has an excellent article about the prosecution of Brian Nichols for the 2005 courthouse shooting spree in Atlanta. It focuses on the challenges of defending the indigent. One of the main characters is Stephen B. Bright, the senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights.

He is my hero. I saw him on a panel at the New School's conference on punishment in the U.S. Everyone was complaining about the piling on of post-release punishments for sex offenders when someone said something like, "The problem is, who is going to take on the incredibly unpopular role of the defender of sex offenders' rights." Bright raised his hand, "I am."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Charitable Giving and Your Tax Rebate

I received an email from TrueMajority today that caught my eye. The subject line was, "Can part of your rebate save the economy?" Reading further it asked me to donate 10% of the six hundred dollar tax rebate check that is my part of the economic stimulus package to TrueMajority.
This touches on a debate I have been trying to foment among my peers about alumni giving. Specifically, if you have a limited budget for charitable giving why would you give it to, say, for example, a school with a billion dollar endowment, instead of, say, people in actual need?
It also touches on a basic problem I have with these economic band-aid refund checks. I want the troops to have proper equipment. I want poor people around the country to have access to healthy food. I want public schools to educate children about more than "be sure to fill in a bubble on every line because you're not penalized for guessing." So should I oppose the $600 rebate checks? Or should I donate my share to charity? If so, which charities? Who do you send the check to for, "properly equip our troops"? Who do you send the check to for, "teach children in public schools"? Who do you send the check to for, "save WIC and food stamps and make the application process easier"?
While you contemplate the answers to these questions, be sure to play FreeRice.

Edited 5/12/2008 to add:
Check out Brad DeLong's post, tangentially on the subject of irrational alumni giving to schools with excessively large endowments.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Prisons and Politics

If you asked me in 1988 who I would vote for in the Democratic primary in 2008 (because I knew in 1988 that I would be voting in the Democratic primary in 2008, don't all 14 year olds strongly identify with a political party?) and you told me my options, I would probably have voted for Hillary Clinton.

But then I went to law school and learned about the criminal justice system and now I cannot possibly vote for someone who opposes crack guideline retroactivity and who justifies this irrational position by citing Giuliani's apparently similar position. For those not in the sentencing know, back in the heyday of crack paranoia, the U.S. Sentencing Commission established sentencing guidelines which punished offenses related to crack 100 times longer than offenses related to powder cocaine. This has long been held up as an example of institutionalized racism in sentencing. Whether the U.S.S.C. was being racist or whether it was succumbing to the media frenzy, the result was bad law. The U.S.S.C. recently issued new guidelines which reduce this 100:1 disparity and recommended that they apply retroactively.

Clinton and the Bush Administration oppose the effort to make this change retroactive. This is the first evidence I've seen that Hillary is taking the same "tough on crime"/ irrational sentencing stance as her husband. While Bill Clinton was great for this country in many ways, he undermined the rights of the accused arguably more than any president in history. I expected better from Hillary. I am now officially disappointed. Therefore, I am not going to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Criminal justice reform is the new civil rights movement. And the Clintons are moving in the wrong direction.

Edit: It has recently been brought to my attention that in all fairness I should post all of the candidates' positions on retroactivity. Obama and Edwards support retroactivity. Clinton and Giuliani oppose retroactivity. I can't find Romney's or McCain's positions, though given Romney's attempts to be tough on crime in Massachusetts, I'd bet he's opposed. I emailed both of their campaigns to ask what their position on crack retroactivity is. I'll update if I hear anything.

Edit 2/12/2008: No, I haven't heard back from McCain, and I don't think Romney is taking this time off the campaign trail to respond to emails. But I did find another post over at Prof. Berman's blog that covers the candidates' positions on crime and punishment a little more thoroughly:"Where candidates stand on crime, death penalty".

Edit 3/25/2008: Still haven't heard back from McCain. But the ever wonderful Prof. Berman posted a link to The Sentencing Project's guide to the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Platforms on Criminal Justice that provides information on a range of key criminal justice issues, including sentencing policy, reentry, death penalty, and felony disenfranchisement.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Product Review - Seikisho Mask White

In the spirit of this blog's complete lack of a coherent theme, I would like to share my experience with
Seikisho Mask White. When you order stuff from Neiman Marcus online they make up for the tons of free stuff the people at their makeup counters normally throw into your bag by letting you choose three sample sized freebies from a relatively short list upon check out. I usually get whatever shampoo samples they have to take to the gym and then whatever isn't perfume. This time the whatever isn't perfume was Seikisho Mask White. If you follow the above link to the product you will see a picture of a white woman in the mask. Which is probably a good thing because I had no idea that this substance labeled "Mask White" would in fact be black. First, it is merely disconcerting to squish what looks like recently unearthed petroleum onto your fingers. Second, upon applying said mask I had a flashback to a very special episode of Gimme A Break in which Nell explains to Joey that wearing blackface while performing his tapdance routine to "Me and My Shadow" is horribly offensive. My next thought was, "Please don't let the house catch on fire for the next twenty minutes while this goo dries because I'm fairly sure that my merely exiting the house in this mask would violate someone's civil rights." What would possess a company to make such a mask? The company that makes Seikisho Mask White is Kose, which according to its website is a leading cosmetic company in Japan.
When I was a kid my mom had a tube of peel-off mask which smelled like lemon dish soap and probably was some misformulated batch of lemon dish soap repackaged and sold as a beauty product . . . like 3M developed the repositionable adhesive on the back of post-its from a failed foray into finding a more adhesive adhesive. Anywhoodles, Mom's lemon peel-off mask was clear, so you couldn't tell exactly where you'd already applied it to your face, nor how thickly you'd applied it. When it came to the fun part, peeling it off like a creature from the black, or in this case clear, lagoon, it was hard to see what patches you had failed to remove. This was particularly true around the hairline. So later that day, after your fantastic beauty routine made you feel 100% more pretty, oh so pretty, you'd be doing something you would otherwise not feel fit to attempt, like, say, talking to a cute boy. And at a particularly flirty moment you would attempt to flip your hair and your finger would get caught on what you might easily mistake for straw, but was in fact the dried, clear mask in your hair. There is no cool way to pull dried mask out of your hair. Think monkeys grooming one another. Then turn the monkey into a mortified preteen girl.
Flashforward to today: make the mask a color so you can see where you've applied it, see how thickly you've applied it, and see where it's still left on you . . . including your hair. But as Harry Chapin taught us, there are so many colors in the rainbow. Why black? Why not blue or purple or green?
Maybe someone thought, "Let's sell a product to rich white women (i.e. the consumer base of Neiman Marcus), which forces them to confront race." Ingenius. Or maybe it was just a placeholder color until someone tested it and enjoyed the moments when they looked like a racoon, a Guy Fawkes mask, Lenin, Groucho Marx. I know I certainly did.
Does my face look better? I dunno. Feels about the same. Maybe my pores are a bit more svelt. But that's not really the point, is it?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Things to Do

In the spirit of togetherness and sharing and progress that is M.L.K. Jr.'s legacy . . . O.K. or just because I told Bob that if he posted his list of things to do I would post mine . . . and that is SO not nagging. If you want nagging, I'll show you nagging. Bring it on, little man! Sorry, this post is getting away from me. Oh yes, things to do and togetherness and sharing.

  • Finish two baby quilts and start and finish two more. These kids are going to be thirty by the time I finish their baby quilts. I am contemplating telling my friends that I need to be notified before they even start trying to conceive. Every time they have unprotected sex, I should get a reminder email to get started on that quilt.
  • Make a camera obscura. This needs no explanation.
  • Affix the color tabs to my New Munsell Student Color Set.
  • Put finish on end table. I decoupaged an end table with postcards of Spanish advertisements and a tapas menu. But I don't think two layers of Mod Podge will protect it from the horrors that are life as an end table. So I've got this insane resin to cover it so it will look like the end table in the cabin on Cape Cod with the seashells and the sand all embedded over a yellowing map of the area. But without the seashells or the sand . . . or the map.

Nagging works. Once.

Here's some things I want to do:

  • Work on database design with SQL. Databases that I ought to make: commodity prices (grab daily prices and /or daily price changes), math students (course history, success as function of background), contacts (although I might use Google for this), comic books.
  • Playtest a mathy game about functions.
  • build a robot.
  • And some other devices with less electronics.
Other things as I come up with them. And, ideally, progress updates on the above.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Parenting Resources (I am not pregnant)

I know, I know, why would I compile a list of alternative parenting resources if I am not now nor in the coming year going to be a parent? Well, partly it's because the New York Times Magazine had an article Family Values in it's Consumed column that had a number of references to things that, while inapplicable now, may be applicable in the future. And when I'm wigging out about folic acid and organic everything and not sleeping and constantly nauseous, I'm thinking I won't be in the mood to ferret out cool resources like this to assuage my alternahubby's fears of impending daddiness.


And just to make this clear, I am not pregnant.

Edited on 5/4/2008 to add:
There's this really disturbing article on CNN.com about ultra posh pre-natal nonsense (which I found via OhDeeDoh, which had the even more disturbing comments implying that all this ultra posh pre-natal nonsense was O.K., e.g. "The photography session and the five-star vacation sound normal to me," which sorta makes me never want to read OhDeeDoh ever again). But perhaps the most disturbing thing was not about the ultra posh at all.
Babies cost an average of $10,600 in the first year to feed, clothe and care for, according to 2007 federal statistics.

Seriously?!? And is it wrong for me to think, "I'd kinda rather have a new car"? Maybe that's just a sign that I'm not ready yet. Which is true. I am not pregnant. I am not trying to become pregnant. I will not try to become pregnant in the next year. Just in case you weren't clear on that.

Edited on 5/13/2008 to add:
If you're one of those future parents who thinks you have to unplug all modes of media in your house once the tiny tyke arrives, apparently you can relax and let them play violent video games from like birth or something and studies show it will all be O.K.

Edited on 6/2/2008 to add:
A neat Time Magazine article on green parenting which name drops three different green parenting books:


Edited on 9/18/2008 to add:
Inhabitots posts about cloth diapering.

A friend of mine suggested the Boston Women's Health Collective, of Our Bodies Ourselves fame, as a great resource for pregnancy and childbirth information. She also suggested that What to Expect When You're Expecting is a horrible book for expecting parents as it is entirely couched in negative terms, like pregnancy is a horrible disease and birth is the cure of this affliction. The BWHC has a very thorough critique of childbearing advice books.

Edited on 9/23/2008 to add:

AskMetafilter responses to a question about parents expressing anger in response to a child's wrongdoing. Perhaps like a lot of AskMetafilter posts, the responses provide no real answer to the question posed, but provide a number of resources that might be interesting to check out.

Edited on 9/29/2008 to add:

Alice Waters on raising kids to eat right via Serious Eats.

Edited on 12/11/2008 to add:

Whip Up's elephantine list of tutorials about how to make stuff for babies and parents.

Blue Marble's post about a study that indicates obesity is linked to grandparents' diet.

Re-Nest scavenges Etsy to find an Eco-Friendly Toddler Flatware Set.

AskMetafilter on natural birth vs. medicated birth. The key to AskMeFi is to read the comments as that's where the good stuff is.

AskMetafilter on parenting issues around two kids sharing one bedroom.

Re-Nest on how to make your own baby wipes.

Edited on 1/8/2009 to add:
Serious Eats' video interview between chefs Mario Batali and Tony Bourdain about baby food.

Edited on 1/15/2009 to add:
The Kitchn (Apartment Therapy's food-centered blog) recommends a children's book: Let's Cook! by Robert Crowther. This interactive cookbook for kids includes pop-out cardboard bacon and utensils.

Edited on 1/16/2009 to add:
The hive mind of AskMeFi seriously pondered what material possessions a new baby requires. One oft-noted book I'd never heard of: Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer.

A question that is seriously taxing my husband's mind: will our relationship with our dogs change when a new baby joins the family? The AskMeFi hive mind wisely pondered this concern. A book recommended by the hive: Childproofing Your Dog: A Complete Guide to Preparing Your Dog for the Children in Your Life by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson.

In the fantasy world where I'm an awesome parent and my kids buy into my crazy parenting nonsense, we would totally do this resolutions thing Laura from Girl in a Swirl posted over at Whip Up.

Edited on 1/29/2009 to add:
The Write Start is a blog by a mom/pediatric occupational therapist/writer Jennifer Hallissy about getting young children ready to write. Via Whip Up.

Parents.com has a toy and kid gear recall finder. Via Consumerist.

Edited on 4/24/2009 to add:
A number of friends of mine who have recently had children have not found breastfeeding to be as easy as it's cracked up to be. From what I've heard that's a very common experience that a lot of women just don't talk about (I have this whole conspiracy theory involving La Leche League and the baby formula industry, but I'll save that for another day).

A friend of mine who just had a baby in October highly recommends The Nursing Mother's Companion: Revised Edition by Kathleen Huggins.

While she didn't agree with everything The Nursing Mother's Companion said, she found it very helpful for nursing. She also offered the caveat that reading it required her and her husband "gathering the ability to move past laughing hysterically at all the pictures of breasts in it." So if nothing else, you might get a laugh out of it.

Edited on 7/22/09 to add:
100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer by GeekDad Doug Cornelius over at Wired (via OhDeeDoh) includes old standbys like Colonial Williamsburg and Old Sturbridge Village and annual events like Comic-Con and the Penny Arcade Expo.

Linked through an ad on OhDeeDoh to an online store for natural toys called ChildTrek. I totally want the Kidsonroof TOTEM Tree to play with all by myself.

The Boy's Almanac is a blog by "two mothers constantly striving to maintain a wild, self-sufficient childhood for our boys and wanting to revive the old school methods of practical scouting, bypassing the modern organization and its discriminating baggage." I like that mission statement. And they're not sexist, they just don't have girls. The blog follows their adventures as they undertake the projects in The American Boy's Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It, Centennial Edition. Via OhDeeDoh (let's just call today's update The OhDeeDoh Digest).

Uncommon Goods sells Your Body Puzzle, which seems like a neat way to introduce a 3+ year old to their parts both external and internal. This puzzle is a little more cartoony and a little less Grey's Anatomy than the 3-D Muscle & Skeleton Puzzle (for 8+ year olds). I love the idea of anatomy toys for kids. I have to say, I spent hours looking through my dad's medical books, mostly for pictures of skin diseases to gross myself out. Again, via OhDeeDoh. Fat Brain Toys has a set of Human Anatomy Models for 7+ year olds that looks seriously anatomically correct AND lots of fun. Kids Toy Chest has a wide array of human anatomy toys as does another childhood favorite Edmond Scientific. Of course Dover has the Human Anatomy Coloring Book.

All that talk of human anatomy is making me hungry. Good thing OhDeeDoh found tempered glass Kidishes available at Zoe B Organic. In case you're not up on the major issues in child dining, here's a quick summary: plastic is evil. Even if it's BPA-free plastic or melamine, it's still evil if you put it in the microwave. That's where tempered glass dishes come in. They're harder to break than normal dishes, but they're just as safe to throw in the microwave as normal dishes.

Edited on 7/23/09 to add:
While I was assembling yet another piece of IKEA furniture, I got to thinking about The Boy's Almanac from the previous update. When I was a kid, messing around in my dad's workshop was so much fun. With shop classes eliminated from so many school curricula, covering at least basic hand tool skills has, yet again, become the parents' responsibility. There are a few books out there to help even novice parents meet this challenge. Woodshop for Kids by Jack McKee seems like a good one.

Edited on 7/28/09 to add:
All Things Considered had a great segment on the "MommyBlogger" phenomenon . . . and pretty much how they're all a bunch of sell outs. But then the accompanying web article has all these enticing articles that make me want to patronize nothing but sell outs . . . I mean MommyBlogs. One that sounded most entertaining from the article, but is unfortunately not linked to from the accompanying web article (it is linked to from the associated All Tech Considered blog post - which totally seems like trying to generate hits at multiple sites rather than actually providing content in a usable fashion) is DadLabs [READERS AT WORK BEWARE: DadLabs has some autoplay video that will start playing even before the rest of the page has finised loading, so mute].

Edited on 7/29/2009 to add:
Check out Playful Learning, a website (with a link to a blog) by Mariah Bruehl, an educator cum mommy. She adapts what she knows "about educational research and practice into simple, playful learning experiences that parents can easily share with their children." Via OhDeeDoh.

And edited again on 7/29/2009 to add:
My dear college roommate who had a baby about two months ago (not to be confused with my dear college roommate who had a baby about a month ago) suggested the following three resources.


And edited yet again on 7/29/2009 to add:

Urban Preschool takes a fairly abstract approach to early childhood education. It's mostly links to resources for interesting stuff for/about kids. It covers everything from art and design for kids to eco-literacy.

Edited on 8/2/2009 to add:

Organic stuff for babies seems way overpriced to me. I just saw an organic onesie for over $10. That's nuts. Get thee to Dharma Trading Comapany, a store known for its tie-dyeing paraphernalia. As of today they sell organic onesies, t-shirts, hats, and bibs. All white (see they're ready for you to tie-dye, but you don't have to). Their Lap Shoulder Organic Infant Creeper comes in four sizes: newborn, 6 mos, 12 mos, 18 mos. If you buy 11 or fewer, the price is $5.85. If you buy more than that, the price per onesie goes down. If you bought 60 or more (like if you were starting a baby factory), the price would be $4.35 per onesie. Their Lap Shoulder Organic Infant T-Shirt also comes in four sizes: newborn, 6 mos, 12 mos, 18 mos, and if you buy 11 or fewer the price is $4.60. Their Organic Infant Pull-on Cap comes only in infant size and is $3.05 for purchases of up to 11 (I mean how many hats does a baby go through?). Their Organic Cotton Baby Rib Bib, also one size fits all, also for $3.05 for purchases of up to 11 (I bet they can go through bibs faster than they go through hats).

If you're not so hung up on organic, Dharma also sells a slightly wider array of baby stuff made out of bamboo fabric. Dharma has this to say about bamboo clothing, "Bamboo fabric is enjoying a popularity boom because of it's low environmental impact, absorptive and antibacterial properties, as well as it's sublime softness." Sounds pretty good as far as baby stuff goes.

If you're not hung up on organic or bamboo, Dharma has just about everything a baby trousseau requires, so long as you want it in white and cotton.

Edited on 7/4/2009 to add:

Giver's Log made a soft mailbox out of fabric for the aspiring letter writer and receiver in your household. She provides a great tutorial so you can make one too. Sounds like this would work nicely with all of the suggestions for encouraging writing over at The Write Start. Via OhDeeDoh.

Playful Learning put together a tote full of tools for the aspiring writer. Again, I think this ties in nicely with everything The Write Start has to say. Via OhDeeDoh.

On a non-writing preparedness related note, the big debate among new parents (who do not have unlimited space) seems to be whether to invest in a swing or a bouncy chair. The bouncy chair contingent seems to swear by BabyBjorn's Babysitter Balance.

Edited on 8/11/2009 to add:

Consumer Reports has a very thorough report on baby proofing your home. You don't even need a subscription to access it. You do need a stiff drink or stiff drink analog to handle the proclamations of doom. For example, if you don't put a child-proof lock on your toilet, all babies within a 10 mile radius will die. I'm exaggerating . . . a little . . . only a 5 mile radius.

Edited on 8/12/2009 to add:

Would someone please explain to me why books and such recommend pregnant women read other women's stories about their experiences in labor and birth? As a follow up question, would someone please explain to me why women share their stories, in graphic detail, with complete strangers, so frequently? O.K. Birth story rant aside, if you're going to read any birth story, you should read Dooce's birth story, not because it's a birth story, but because it is funny as all get out.

So I am REALLY not into toy buying for children. It is almost universally done to excess. It's all plastic crap made by child slave labor under dangerous conditions. And these days it is usually stamped with some corporation's branding and/or character. But then I see this giant photorealistic inflatable globe, and I must have it for my spawn. Via OhDeeDoh.

Edited on 8/13/2009 to add:

PBS has a website for parents. It's not keyed to any particular television program that I can discern (I haven't watched television in about four years except for the occasional Law & Order binge in hotels when traveling, so I could be wrong). Not only does it have a ton of information, it also has lots of ideas for activities parents can do with their kids.

Edited on 8/30/2009 to add:

Angry Chicken's post about making a poultice for her daughter's bee stings sent me down the rabbit hole of kid safe herbal remedies. First, check out the book Angry Chicken recommends: A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra. Then one of her readers recommended Walking the World in Wonder: A Children's Herbal by Ellen Evert Hopman.

Edited on 9/1/2009 to add:
While digging through eco-focused parenting blogs I stumbled across this post at Green Parenting about a little girl who always screamed like a banshee at the dentist and what the parents did about it. At the end there are links to a bunch of videos about little kids having positive experiences at the dentist.

Edited on 10/3/2009 to add:
AskMeFi had an interesting question about teaching a 9-year-old to cook, which led me to this neat website: Spatulatta. Spatulatta is primarily a series of webcasts that show two sisters, Isabella, 13, and Olivia, 11, cooking. They post the recipes used in the webcasts as well. Apparently they published a cookbook back in 2007 and won the James Beard Award. Not bad.

Edited on 11/4/2009 to add:
My mom was, among many things, a sex ed teacher. So we didn't have so much of a "talk" as an anatomically correct torso on the dining room table. Other people have distinct and often traumatic memories of the "talk" their parents had with them about sex. Time Out New York Kids has an entire issue dedicated to kids and sex including a section on how to talk to your kids about sex. One of the things I find most helpful about this article is that it starts with ages zero to three. I am pretty sure the reason I wasn't traumatized by talking about sex with my parents was that stuff like the anatomically correct names for body parts were part of the conversation from the start. Via the New York Times parenting blog Motherlode.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Political Resources

Tis the season for brushing up on your candidates. Check out these three sites for some neutral information:
FactCheck
OpenSecrects
TechPresident
Check out these sites for some less than neutral information:
The Becker/Posner Blog
The Citizens
DailyKos
edit: Bob just shared a little gem in the less than neutral category that you must read, though, I advise you as a former labor law attorney who is in no way giving you legal advice, that you might not want to read it at work because people can be sensitive about the truly funny. goodCRIMETHINK and I know reading the "About the Author" part of a blog is like the most uncool thing since global warming (sorry I've been reading a comedian's blog, so now I think I'm a comedian, and I'm really really not), you should totally read his, because it's REALLY funny. Way funnier than that crap joke I just made about global warming.
Another Bob gem this time to add to the neutral category GlassBooth

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shameless Commerce

I have a secret life as a not nearly as unsuccessful as I thought t-shirt designer. More specifically, at least 20 different people have bought a t-shirt I posted on Zazzle, my Please Don't Feed the Animals t-shirt.
Now, I must give credit where credit is due and that is to Jon Stewart. I read an article about him in some magazine, either Entertainment Weekly or Vanity Fair, since that's all I read in law school . . . I mean other than law stuff. He wore a very similar shirt in a photo in the article. It must have been VF because I was able to find that the t-shirt was from some French company. I tried to find said French company to purchase said t-shirt to no avail. So I made a knock off.
But I am not just a knock-off success. Four of my Chesty Potato Chips shirts are out in the world somewhere, well technically three of them are in Galesburg, IL, and one of them is in Baltimore, MD. And two people other than me are wearing my Guinea Pig shirt.
It's kinda freakin' me out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Listening to . . .

The soundtrack to Juno makes me want to serenade someone. I predict All I Want is You by Barry Louis Parker will be the most popular first dance song at hipster weddings in 2008. The right couple could do a mean Cajun two-step to that ditty.
Wolf Parade Apologies to Queen Mary makes me want to dance like I used to with my friend Thalia around the living room to the soundtrack to Zorba the Greek.
Spoon I don't know which albums (that damnable iPod obscures origins), possibly all of them. And I wonder where my money goes.
Jack's Mannequin Everything in Transit has very good boy-in-love songs by the vocalist/pianist Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate. He has leukemia. Though I recently discovered through the wonders of Wikipedia that this album was released only three months after his diagnosis, I had listened to it thinking he was in some sense writing about his illness. And maybe he was. Anywho, there are parts here and there that resonate with me in terms of dealing with my RA. Which is particularly embarrassing given that the lyrics are likely about twenty something angst and NOT dealing with one's body rejecting oneself.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sign from the Slow Foods Gods

I finished reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma last night. And today, on the community radio station there he was giving a lecture on the cornification of food. Am I the last to know that ethanol is not nature's friend? I have also resolved that in our next destination we're going to become members of a C.S.A. - not Confederate States of America, but Community Supported Agriculture. Though I feel like that handy acronym does not clearly express what it is. Am I the last to hear about CSAs? I feel so out of the loopy. Now if only I can hunt down some grass-finished beef for dinner.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Visual Inspiration

Continuing the Top 10 2007 Roundup theme, and breaking into the world of posting images, here are ten of the images I've found inspiring. Most of these I've found through dear ada or print & pattern. I'm hoping that posting these inspiring images will coax me into taking action on that inspiration. Maybe this time next year I'll be posting the Top 10 Pieces I've Completed in 2008 Based on the Top 10 Images I Found Inspiring in 2007.


This is a picture taken by my friend Mary of an art installation by Matthew and Jonathan Stemler at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.






This is a collage by Ian Pedigo. I have some Martha Negley fabric printed with vegetables that is waiting to be made into something inspired by this collage.









This is a painting by Sarajoe Friedan.











This is a print called Red Volcano by Dr. Atl, a Mexican artist. I saw this in an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Mexican prints. I haven't been able to find many resources on Dr. Atl. So if there's some great book all about him with lots of images of his amazing print work, please let me know.






I found this image on the Buy Nothing Catalog site related to Buy Nothing Christmas. Which reminds me, go see What Would Jesus Buy?






This is a painting by Alice Stevenson. It is yet another sign that I need to work on my rokkaku kite battle quilt that has been aging in my brain since the kite festival in D.C. two years ago.









This is a work by Bill Renkl. I have a palm tree quilt project that is currently occupying my design wall that needs a little inspiration from this image. I swear I only bought all three seasons of Arrested Development on DVD because the sets all have palm tree images tucked all over the place.







This is a work by Friedrich Kunath. There's some polka dotted fabric that wants to break free from its matrix every time it sees this image.










This is a painting by Mark Grotjahn.











This is one of a growing collection of images I call SimpleTrees. I don't know what I was working on that made me think "I need to come up with a better way to represent tree-ness," but I started collecting images of simple trees and now I'm up to 20 of them and I don't know why. Now I just paw through print & pattern scrambling for my next tree fix. It's disturbing.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Usurpation

I don't know if this is the manifestation of a New Year's Resolution or just a thought I've been pondering for some time, but I'm going to start blogging more and worrying about fitting in with the Gnomicon theme less. Not sure if I can sustain a post-a-day pace, but it's good to have goals and then not meet those goals and then be depressed about never meeting your goals. Well, maybe not that last part.

So the end of the year roundup that has me most freaked out: The Top Science-and-Tech Privacy Threats of 2007. The chipping I'd contemplated in the correctional context. But culling the human herd of those with the "homosexuality gene" has me totally wigged.

Now I feel compelled to round something 2007ish up. I don't watch TV in the broadcast sense. And I don't watch nearly as many movies as I should in the theater. I can't recall all the books I've read this year (maybe I should remedy that in 2008). But Netflix conveniently remembers everything I rented from them ever.

Top 10 DVDs I Netflixed in 2007
How to Draw a Bunny
Good Night and Good Luck
Heroes: Season 1
Extras: Season 2
The Departed
My linguistic background is strictly upstate New York and broadcast television. I have no reason to have any accent whatsoever. However, given immersion in any accent that truly entertains me, I will adopt it. If you want to hear my accent circa 1989, listen to Marky Mark in The Depahted.
Cold Mountain
I held off on this for a long time because it did not really seem like my cup of tea, but then I saw that Philip Seymour Hoffman was in it. And his tiny part makes it entirely worth watching.
The Devil Wears Prada
Outfoxed
Technically, I also Netflixed An Inconvenient Truth in 2007 and I did rate it 5 stars and it is a film everyone should watch. However, I was fascinated by the mode of production of Outfoxed. Watch the extras. Hear the crazy people who were assigned to watch hours and hours of Fox News and note when particular things were said. In this overly determined world, this voluntary collective process is an amazing way to filter through the noise.
Eddie Izzard: The Definite Article
Veronica Mars: Seasons 2 and 3 (I netflixed season 1 in 2006)
Arrested Development: Seasons 1 through 3