24 October 2006

Updates to the Flatland Almanack: "The time of year that thou may now in me behold."

Goldenstar23lm In Florida, the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness is the season of clear indigo skies, golden light, and beautiful coral-colored sunsets, streaked with vermilion. 

But autumn is autumnal everywhere, and you can't help feeling at least slightly sad, or slightly nostalgic.  And this feeling has been greatly enhanced by the death of a dear aunt I always thought I'd see again and my autumn dreams of childhood.  It wasn't even a particularly happy childhood, in many respects.  And I didn't like the town I grew up in when I was living there.  But I also don't like knowing I can't go back there. 

All changed, all gone. 


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23 October 2006

Update to the Flatland Chronicles for 24 October 2006. Steven King, Gordon Ramsay, and my old pal Robert J.

Enamelblue2lm_1 Is it wrong that I love Gordon Ramsay so much?  It probably is wrong.  And I do try to resist.  I find myself squirming in protest when I watch any show that he's in---and I watch every show that he's in----because I so dislike being lured in by his mere personal charisma.  He says and does many things I don't quite approve of.  But I cannot resist a man, and particularly an English man, who shows such a passionate commitment to something beyond himself and even beyond his family. 

The F Word with Gordon Ramsay was a fascinating show.  For one thing, we got to see the charming Missus and the adorable Ramsay brood, not to mention a boatload of (allegedly) ill-fated turkeys that he has given to his children to raise).  It was a terrifically attractive domestic scene, though apparently no one ever told GR that if you give your kids livestock to raise, it's generally a mistake to encourage them to call your future entrees by name.   

The show is also educational.  If I had any intention of ever cooking anything, or of ever eating foie gras, I could have learned a great deal from watching him prepare foie gras.  I could also have learned to make a bread pudding.  Actually I could have learned to make two:  the one Ramsay made and the one that the food tasters he hand-picked himself actually chose.  True story, and another reason this show rocks.  (For the record, I'm certain I'd have preferred his).

But I do rather envy the lavishly beautiful Martine McCutcheon her particular Ramsay encounter.  That's all I'm saying. I'll leave it there.

My enthusiasm for Steven King is more grudging.  I agree with him---because this seems to be an issue with him---that he is a fine writer; I'd just qualify it by saying that all of his best writing happened a long time ago.  Since then, he's been running in place and the themes and characters have become progressively flatter and more shopworn. 

But he sent out a letter to MoveOn.org members and I can't help admiring fabulously wealthy Democrats who put their names behind an effort to get out the progressive vote.

As for Robert, he is much as he was when I saw him 20 years ago.


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Update to The Heretic's Handbook for 23 October 2006.


At the Huffington Post, there's a blog by Richard Dawkins of The Blind Watchmaker fame.  I loved that book and I like him, but I do wish he'd give up arguing that tbe truth of natural selection somehow disproves the existence of God.  It doesn't.  It only proves that God didn't literally create the earth in the exact manner described in Genesis (which only exceptionally uneducated fundamentalists now believe). 

I don't agree with him (obviously) but I don't have the time at the moment to take his argument apart the way it needs to be.  But it doesn't matter because none of the people he is apparently trying to persuade (if only by providing those who might hypothetically wish to persuade them with ammunition) are persuadable by appeals to reason.  Their beliefs might be flat-out wrong, but you won't get anywhere by trying to move them from the position "There is a personal God who created the world 6000 years ago" to "There is NO God."

It wouldn't be kind to do that if you could.  If the objective is to get them to understand that science has ruled out certain theories of how creation came about, then you first have to show them how to believe science AND retain their belief in God.  Other atheists may read Dawkins' blog and say, "Yes!  It's all so CLEAR!  How can anyone doubt this?" but he's not going to persuade anyone whose views are based on faith.

What he fails to understand is that MOST Americans have some form of religious faith.  It just isn't (usually) the crazy-ass sort that was able to hi-jack Congress after the GOP decided to pander to them specifically.  Some very intelligent people are believers.  The smartest ones take only the sayings of Christ literally and ignore everything else.

But thanks for trying, Richard Dawkins.  JUMP TO THE HERETIC'S HANDBOOK

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21 October 2006

Update to Just Eat the Damn Peach for 20 October 2006. I recap "The Office."

auroraborealiss  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

I'm on a recapping roll, though it would definitely be easier if I had TIVO.  Someday, perhaps.

It was a good episode, but it had a sort of transitional feel.  It consisted mainly of vignettes that provided more insight into the characters and what makes them tick.  Jim/Pam "shippers" probably ended up banging their heads against the wall in frustration, since they finally make phone contact at the end of the episode, and actually start to show tentative signs of reforming their bond.  But then, due to a truly stupid misunderstanding, they end up awkwardly hanging up. 

There was some truly bitter tension between Michael and Jan and he definitely crossed a line with her.  She was one righteously pissed off boss.

The rest of the episode was Dwight's "initiation" of Ryan into the mysteries of sales, which I found touching but a little tedious---it just went on too long, though it was fun to see the beet farm and cousin Mose----and the aftermath of "Pretzel Day."  Stanley and Angela were cute; Michael was a jerk, but came through once again for the company once again; and Dwight made me slightly sad.  The interaction at the Stamford branch and the Saga of Karen's Squeaky Chair was entertaining, but I hope they're not going to turn Jim and Karen into another drawn-out Jim/Pam thing.   

I think I know where the story arc is taking us, so my recap includes some speculation as well as my interpretation.  I'm recapping "the inner office," looking at subtext that may or may not be there.  If that's not what you want, I can at least point you to websites where you can find it.

For those who want more, I've provided links to other relevant sites.


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19 October 2006

Update to Versus Reversus. The GOP: Everything is (Still) Clinton's Fault

Radiantmandala2lm How long do they think they can keep making Clinton the whipping boy for every unfortunate development?  It's so absurd.

Fortunately for the GOP, a certain number of knee-jerk Republican voters are exactly as gullible as the Republican Party assumes.  And many of them have a Pavolovian tooth-grinding response to the sound of Clinton's name.

But they can only pull this excuse out of their bag of tricks so many times before even their constituents start to realize---if only unconsciously---that somewhere along the line, the Bush Administration has had the opportunity (if not the obligation) to address any misguided or failed policies. 

As always, Joe Conason nails it.  JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS for further discussion and the link. 

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17 October 2006

Update to Versus/Reversus for 17 October 2006. Andrew Sullivan interviewed at Salon.


I found an excellent piece at Salon about Andrew Sullivan, the pundit whose pro-war stance so annoyed me in the past, but who---like other Republicans for whom I feel a respect---is capable of thinking outside the party line. 

For me, the proof that the wind is changing is that intelligent Republicans are removing themselves from the cheering section.  They are no longer chanting the same message. 

It doesn't matter to me that they and I still don't agree; I am just relieved that the terrifying unity of the right (which may never have been as much of a fact as it seemed) is beginning to break down.

Too much unity on either side of the political fence is really never a good thing, according to me.  I know progressives have decried the tensions and dissensions within the Democratic party; but that's what I like about it.  One reason I started swinging centerward again is that I was freaked out by hearing too much agreement on the left.  People who all agree with one another tend to believe that their beliefs are---or ought to be---self-evident and to feel okay about forcing other people to do things their way (because it's clearly the right way).  I've had enough of that. 

In the meantime, it's good to see people like Andrew Sullivan step away from what for a long time seemed to be a vast right-wing chorus.  The article at Salon.com is well worth reading (and you can see it if you just look for a few seconds at an ad or---like me---join Salon Premium).  And you can see my thoughts about Sullivan and the article in Versus/Reversus.

JUMP TO  "Conscientious Punditry: Reflections on "Sullivan's Travels" at Salon.com." in  VERSUS/REVERSUS.

In addition, I stopped to reflect on the whole Air America thing and why it is that conservatives rule Talk Radio.  To me, the reasons seem self evident.


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16 October 2006

Update to Versus/Reversus for 16 October 2006. Real Time with Bill Maher (Episode 85)


This week's Real Time with Bill Maher (episode 85) was honestly one of the best ever.  Senator John Danforth and Richard Branson were the interviews; the panel---a very rowdy one---consisted of Ben Affleck, Lou Dobbs, and Danielle Pletka.  And there was an excellent closing monologue.


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Update to The Flatland Chronicles for 16 October 2006.


In today's Chronicles, some of the sort of news that proves the world is still a big and mysterious place.  An ancient city under the sea, a carnivorous mouse-eating plant, electrons with free will, and a teenager who plays video games with his mind. 


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15 October 2006

Update to The Digital Artwork Gallery for 9-14 October 2006. Additions to my Clipart Gallery!


Here are the most recent updates to my clipart gallery.  These images work really well, incidentally, as "digital tile" for backgrounds on a web page.  Each one comes in three sizes (and I am going to add some smaller versions in a few weeks).  I really think that with over 420 different pictures, there's probably something for everyone.

ANTIQUE  [click to see all]

  • Antique gold.
  • Old gold and black.
  • Jewelled mosaic.
  • Turquoise and gold mosaic.
  • Gold butterfly mosaic.
  • Antique button in white and gold.

  • Silver flying saucer.
  • Pink and silver mosaic.
  • Alien sculpture.
  • Ancient sorceries.
  • Blue enamel with gold leaf details.
  • Aquamarine and white star cube.
  • Force field.
  • Gold under glass.
  • Green striped purple pebble (2 images).
  • Force Field 2.
  • The Mystery.
  • A Map of the Temple (2 Versions).
  • "M" Cube.
  • ARTSY.  [click to see all]

  • Neutral with neon.
  • Strange art forms 2 (red and white).
  • Butterflies (blue and yellow).
  • Blue waves, red satin roses.
  • The Lost Arts 2.
  • Wheel in silver and gold.
  • Garnet, silver, and platinum.
  • Seascape (2 images).
  • Neon Blue with amethyst beads.
  • CRAFTSY [click to see all].

  • Pink candle.
  • Wax tulips.
  • Tiles.
  • Carved Lapis ornament.
  • Paper star and antique lace.
  • Detail from Mosaic.
  • Multi-colored porcelain.
  • Blue clay.
  • Blue tile with gold and amethyst inlaid.
  • Sculpted mosaic tile.
  • CROSSES [click to see all].

  • Gold cactus flower cross.
  • Cross with inlaid sapphires.
  • Antique silver cross with rubies.
  • Green and silver stone cross.
  • Gold and silver cross.
  • Carved cross in lavender slate.
  • Blue embossed cross (five shades of blue).
  • Pink enamelled cross.
  • Stone crosses, southwestern colors.
  • Grey stone cross with red and white flowers.
  • Ancient cross in red and gold.
  • Platinum cross.
  • Blue flower cross.
  • Magdalene cross.
  • Red and purple cross.
  • CUTE.  [click to see all]

  • Cute cactus.
  • Alien pizza.
  • Nuns eating melons/folded petals.
  • Burgundy and silver globe.
  • FABRIC. [click to see all]

  • Embroidered sunburst.
  • Silver and garnet satin.
  • Satin detail (silver, pewter, and bronze).
  • White rose in leather.
  • Golden satin sachet.
  • Blue sun (leather).
  • Looking southwest.
  • GLASS.

  • Blue and silver mosaics.
  • Shining pink glass.
  • Glass flower.
  • Oriel window in stained glass.
  • Bronze and silver glass mosaic stars.
  • Glass ornament.
  • Glass tulips.
  • Iridescent teal cut glass.
  • Iridescent violet cut glass.
  • Glass sculpture over metallic silk.
  • Patterned glass bead.
  • Multi-colored rainbow glass.
  • Floating boxes.
  • Prismatic lights (2 images).
  • Cut glass (2 images).
  • Beaded glass (emerald).

  • Peacock Pendant Number 1.
  • Peacock Pendant Number 2 (with silver).
  • Violet pendant.
  • Cyan brooch with diamond.
  • Pigeon's blood diamonds with pearls.
  • Enamelled pendant.
  • Empress bead.
  • Flower pendant.
  • Flower bead.

  • Paper frills.
  • Velvet frills.
  • Flower mandala.
  • Stone mandala 2.
  • Flower mandala 2.
  • Flower mandala 3.
  • Primitive mandala.
  • Blue and white ribbon mandala.
  • Silvered leather.
  • Flower mandala 4.

  • Molten gold.
  • Neon columns.
  • Radiance (blue and green).
  • Radiance (blue green and red).
  • Green links.
  • Emergent sphere (red and gold).
  • Enamelled grid (rose, purple, and gold).
  • Modern mosaic.
  • Inlaid cabachoned emeralds.
  • Inlaid cabachoned aquamarines.
  • Pink neon, blue water.
  • Burgundy tile.
  • Mosaic in onyx and pale blue.
  • Emergent sphere 2 (purple and orchid).
  • Green fields.
  • Rough gradations.
  • Tie pattern.
  • Insouciant Stripes.

  • Satin stars.
  • Perelandra.
  • Sun.
  • Star and wheel.
  • Green mosaic star.
  • The dark side of the moon.
  • Strange shadows.
  • View through the porthole.
  • Paper star.
  • Blue metallic star.
  • Starflower.
  • Satin sunburst.
  • Green star.
  • Planet and matrix.
  • Starburst in golden wire.
  • Green star 2 (in yellow and green stone).
  • It's still a planet to me.
  • Jelly bean star.

  • Brocade ribbon crosses.
  • Carved silver flower.
  • Purple clay flower.
  • Narcissus blossoms & fire lilies.
  • Purple and white paper flower.
  • Bronze and silver flower.
  • Sunflower talisman.
  • Extraterrestrial flower.
  • 18 carat gold sunflower.

  • Neon blue rosette.
  • Cobalt blue rosette.
  • Jewelled weave.
  • Persimmons on silk.
  • Multi-colored silk ribbons.
  • Leather ribbons weave (bronze and blue).
  • Ribbon art (blue green leather) [2 images]
  • Universal mind.
  • Purple and indigo ribbons art.
  • SCARY.

  • Screamers.
  • Snake garden/garden snake.
  • Stars and masks.
  • Masks.

  • Stoned soul picnic.
  • The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion.
  • China Cat Sunflower.
  • The Golden Road 2.
  • Hippie Butterflies (in red, fuschia, and blue).
  • Flower child flower.
  • Feathered sunburst.
  • Floating gemstones.
  • Pink lemonade sunburst.
  • Flower child flower.
  • Tie-dyed mixed media picture.
  • Luminous lamp (2 images).
  • Love bead.

  • Star sapphire.
  • Floating orchid pearl.
  • Floating blue-white diamond.

  • Flying saucery.
  • Jewelled weave.
  • Rainbow butterflies.
  • Rainbow stars, hearts, and leaves.
  • Rainbow pebble.
  • Prismatic wheels.
  • Rainbow corona.
  • Rainbow ceramic flower.
  • Prismatic keyholes.
  • Prismatic mosaic.
  • Continue reading "Update to The Digital Artwork Gallery for 9-14 October 2006. Additions to my Clipart Gallery!" »

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    14 October 2006

    Update to Just Eat the Damn Peach for 14 October 2006. I recap "The Office"! My first.


    I decided I would try reviewing/recapping my current favorite show, NBC's The Office.  Well, I say "recap", but it includes a lot of interpretation by me, along with the recap part.  There's lots of depth in this show, and especially in the particular episode, "Grief Counseling" which aired on Thursday, October 12.  I've seen other recaps of "The Office" that are probably better recaps, but they don't have the critical interpretive part.  I linked to them right at the beginning of my note so somebody who doesn't want the critical interpretive part can go elsewhere. 

    For those who do read it, I hope it will inspire them to watch.  This is a multi-levelled comedy and all the laughs are based on the subtext.  You can't get really get at the laughs from the subtext, though maybe you can get at some of the deeper meanings.  In this show, the funny moments happen in the spaces. 

    Please, if you haven't watched this show, watch it.  I started out believing that it could never live up to the original; and this is one of my (many many) settled opinions that turned out to have been built on a foundation of quicksand.  It's brilliant and it's like no other show on TV.

    Before you read my take on this episode, check out this short poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins!  Believe me, it's germane.


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    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 13-14 October 2006. The appalling Foley aftermath: The Gay Republican non-gay Witchhunt.


    To be honest, I am feeling a bit fed up with politics at the moment.  I know that the Dems are giddily riding the wave of the Foley tide that they think might have turned things in their favor.  I guess I'm not as happy for them/us as I might have expected.

    It's not the issue I'd want us to win on.  For us to win on that issue requires us to play on the homophobia of conservative Christians and of the American public generally. 

    The Kolbe camping trip hysteria in particular is worrying me---not that I wouldn't think he deserved censure if he covered up for Foley, but because of the implication that every openly gay man in Congress secretly preys, or wishes to prey, on teenage boys.  I'm not excusing him for covering up the Foley thing (if he did), but even if he did, it certainly doesn't mean that he endorsed Foley's actions or that he's a predator himself.  GOD.  As in, "God help us all; this is getting totally out of hand." 

    Should Democrats be concerned?  Do Democrats secretly believe that every gay man on earth is a secret predator?   And if not, why are we not rushing to defend the idea that gay people have as much right as anyone else to participate in the system?  Here's an out-of-context quote from Arianna Huffington's blog that I didn't much like even IN context:

    [quote begins from Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, Republicans are Whistling Past the Foley Graveyard]

    But anything that makes voters feel -- rationally or not -- that things are going to hell in a hand basket (or in an IM message) intensifies the longing for change.

    Mark Foley -- and the GOP's see no buggery, hear no buggery, speak no buggery handling of him -- is one more "sign of how sick the system is."

    And, this time around, the only way you get change is to vote Democrat.

    [quote ends (emphasis mine)]

    Now I know she doesn't think the way the italicized text sounds, and that the subject is the irrational feelings that often influence the voters, but God....It's almost more than I can bear.  If you didn't love Arianna like I love Arianna, and if you read the rest of the article, you would still come out of it believing that a gay Congressman = a predatory Congressman. 

    I take back what I said, by the way, about gay Republican staffers getting what they deserve now that the mud is flying.  I've been baffled and infuriated by them for a long time; but the Lord knows the Republican party doesn't need to get any more crazily homophobic than it already is, even if the end result inures to the benefit of Democrats.  I'm afraid that's what is going to happen and I'm not happy about it.  But please see this blog by Max Blumenthal at The Huffington Post, "Is a Gay Republican Purge Coming?

    If it does happen, guys?  Please....be Democrats.  At heart, we're on the side of treating all Americans with dignity and on assuming that adults, whatever their sexual preferences, will refrain from preying on teenagers. Though the tone and tenor of the Kilroy/Pryce campaign might fool you...

    And I'm really alarmed at the "guilt by association" tone of a lot of what I'm reading.  There is the distinct odor of witches burning in the autumn air.  It scares me, even though I'm a heterosexual Christian woman. 

    Though this---discovered the Huff Post---is choice (David Gregory on Bush on Leno.)


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    12 October 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 12 October 2006. Sydney Blumenthal at Salon on Bob Woodward.


    At Salon, I recommend the Sydney Blumenthal on Bob Woodward ("Whose State of Denial?").  It's consoling to those of us who are as hacked off with Bob Woodward as the Bush Administration and whose annoyance has been of much longer standing.  JUMP HERE TO VERSUS/REVERSUS FOR THE LINK AND FOR MY COMMENT.

    Believe it or not, I have more praise for Arnold....  Inspired by another Salon article, this one by Chris Thompson ("Arnold's Comeback), I---speaking for centrists and aspiring centrists everywhere--- give him big props for getting itJUMP HERE TO VERSUS/REVERSUS FOR THE LINK AND FOR MY COMMENT

    Has the Terminator become the Accommodator (in a good way)? 

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    11 October 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 11 October 2006. Bad days for the President.


    So anyway, it seems that these are dark days for President Bush.  His loose-lipped former aides sold him out to Bob Woodward; North Korea defied him; and the House Republicans let him down big-time with the Foley cover-up.  It's nice to know that for once, he and I have had exactly the same reactions to the same people. 


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    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 11 October 2006. First the bad news, then the bad news; then some mitigating schadenfreude.

    azureandsilver2LMS  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

    There is really more news than I can digest or comment on (in Versus/Reversus), but some of it definitely has seized my attention (pretty uncomfortably, at that).  Among the things that have disturbed and distracted me are: 

    1. the newest and even more horrifying study by a group from Johns Hopkins of civilian casualties in Iraq; 
    2. in addition to weapons testing in North Korea, John McCain blaming the Clinton Administration for weapons testing in North Korea;
    3. Bill O'Reilly stating that North Korea's weapons testing is timed to influence midterm elections because North Koreans hate Bush (when the average American teenager not currently in a civics class probably wouldn't understand the connection; and
    4. the Katherine Harris campaign assuming on the basis of a straw poll in LAKELAND that she will defeat Bill Nelson.

    FOR  the full and acidic burn, jump to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES/REALITY BITES here.

    But the good news is that the world marches on; human progress continues in other fields of endeavor; and billionaires still continue to consider a woman's attractiveness (or lack thereof) the one aspect of her being that truly defines her.  In other news, Katie Couric interviews the erring Mel Gibson about certain remarks we all know all about; and Chris Wallace proves he is Chris Wallace.

    For proof that the world says "Whatever" and continues in its course, jump to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES/QUIDDITIES AND ODDITIES here.

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    10 October 2006

    Update to Just Eat the Damn Peach & Anglo-Saxon Attitudes for 10 October 2006.


    It was more than time for me to acknowledge how much I've come to love the American version of The Office.  Several years ago, while visiting my friend Rumcove in England, I first saw the original version featuring Ricky Gervais as David Brent and was totally pulled in by it.  Since then I've watched all the episodes dozens of times.  It's one of my all-time favorite shows.

    I was afraid (like all die-hard fans) that it would be ruined by American TV (laugh tracks, stilted posturing, sitcom-style delivery of lines), but it wasn't; Gervais and Merchant passed on the torch to people like Greg Daniels who respected the original as much as I did.  Unfortunately, the first season (featuring a Brit-style mere six episodes) stuck too close for my liking to the British version.  My feeling about it was that it was good, but not necessary.  I thought that what it was doing had (mainly) already been done, plus I didn't care for Carrell's version of the boss.

    The second season changed all that.  It's more than time that I give The Office (US) all the love that it deserves (and there'll be more on the way, as I may start doing recaps). 

    So:  I posted this note in "Just Eat the Damn Peach", my blog of things to do.  And I also posted an update in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes:  the Anglophile's File, where I had also posted my tepid reaction to the first season. 

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    09 October 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 9 October 2006. Born to be a Democrat.


    I am really trying very hard these days to get back to the middle of the political spectrum.  I want to get back to the place where I can be a Democrat and still hear what the other side is saying.  I want to be able to listen to the other side, but learning to do that again is a process.  I've had years---going all the way back to Reagan---of not liking much of what they were saying, and since the Clinton impeachment, I've been more and more inclined to stick my fingers in my ears and sing loudly whenever I encountered any of them.

    I still can't be alone in a room with Fox News, and I don't see that changing.  But I really want to be able to listen to what the Republicans are saying.   I mean, what if they turn out to be right (and not just, you know, Right) about some issue of vast importance?  Bill Maher was so right when he said the two parties need to start listening to each other. 

    But I'm doing it in slow stages.  It's not something I can do overnight; the habit is too firmly entrenched.   First, I have to start looking more critically at people on my side of the fence.  In the drive for solidarity and unity with other fed up or angry Americans, it's too easy to fall into the habit of endorsing every stance of people whose views are close to mine.  So I'm working first on trying to articulate the ways in which my views differ from those of some people on my own team.

    And I have found that I can take my fingers out of my ears if I get the other side's position filtered through my team's view of them, if that makes any sense.  In other words:  I start with The Huffington Post, NPR.com, Think Progress, and other very liberal sites and try to work around to the more conservative view.  Bill Maher is a tremendous help with this, since he always provides a token conservative and sometimes some very powerful and likable ones, such as P.J. O'ROURKE (whom I have adored since the days when I too was a Republican).  I even managed to feel well-disposed toward Pat Buchanan during Maher interview, mainly by focusing on how like Gene Hackman he sounded.  So a little of what he was saying about immigration got through my force field and so at some future point I'll try to give it head room. 

    So, you know, I am trying.  I'm nowhere near ready to talk politics with friends or share my views with people I have to work with, but I'm getting a bit less truculent every day.  And I no longer identify myself with the many angry Democrats.  No, I've realized after a lot of hard thinking that I'm much more hurt and disillusioned than angry.

    All together now:  Can't we all just get along? 


    No matter what, I can't see ever being anything but a Democrat, no matter how close to the center I eventually draw. Which is why I was inspired to write this in Versus/Reversus, even though it is very late/or extremely early:  Notes from an aspiring centrist:  Why I am still--and will always be--- a Democrat.  A liberal must always at heart be liberal. 

    Blogs along these lines are, I imagine, part of the process of coming to terms with where I've been (an angry place I didn't like), where I am now, and where I'm trying to go. 

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    08 October 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus. Real Time, Scientists and Engineers Unite, and Much Else.



    The most recent Real Time had (in addition to my hero Bill Maher) Chris Matthews AND Richard Clarke AND John Kerry AND Lincoln Chafee.  Yes, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (who---for a Republican who won't get off the talking points--- I quite like).  Unfortunately, it also had Robin Williams.

    It could have been so great.  As it was it was just really pretty good.  As a would-be centrist coming from the progressive end of the party, I was really pleased to hear from a Republican I truly respect. 

    Scientists have organized to push for a presidency that properly values science.

    The press continues to dwell on Foley---who seems to have unleashed the whirlwind for a fact---and, more to the purpose, various Republicans who knew about his smarmy and rather wistfully pathetic flirtations. 

    Gay Republicans are feeling the blowback.  Let 'em.  I have no sympathy for people who enable those who reject them.  10.14.06.   Okay, but it's getting out of hand.  I hate what's happening, now that it's happening.  But gay people have no business in today's GOP.

    Arianna Huffington pointed out that Bob Woodward's book, though well-timed (thanks, Bob!), isn't exactly news to progressives. 

    Katherine Harris attacks fellow Christian Bill Nelson for not being Christian enough.  In contrast to this feebly transparent and cynical attempt to court the most ignorant practitioners of the religion of Christ for political, the Amish demonstrate hardcore Christianity---the sort that requires you to mourn the death of the fallen sinner who wrecked your life.

    Finally, Jeb Bush flees protesters at a Santorum rally; and ends up hiding in a closet.  Hee.

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    05 October 2006

    Updates to the Digital Artwork Gallery for 4 October 2006. Pretty clip art!


    I make clipart when I'm feeling stressed, and life's been full lately of stress, so I've been cranking out the clipart whenever I take a break.  I'm up to over 400 different images in all different sizes.  Good for webpages, emails, or blogs (personal use only, obviously).  I don't feel up to listing them all, so if you want to see what's new under each of the categories, click on the links below, or go to the homepage here.


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    03 October 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 3 October 2006.

    universalmindLSM  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

    To cheer myself up, I checked out some of my favorite resources (Digg.com being one) to see what exciting new discoveries have recently added to the universe's "creative advance into novelty," as my old philosophy professor (Alfred N. Whitehead expert) used to say. 

    I also visited Cute Overload---a surefire cure for dysphoria.  And, naturally, I re-watched the Clinton film.  This time, a bored Bill Clinton filching Kevin Spacey's Oscar in order to pretend-accept an academy award in front of his mirror was my favorite bit.  Spacey doesn't say a word.  He's Kevin Spacy.  He doesn't need to.  (My favorite Kevin Spacey moment in film history is in a film that Pacino made where he indulged his own desire to play Richard III.  Spacey was Buckingham.  His smirk when Margaret grabbed him by the shoulders was the best smirk in the history of smirks; he didn't even have to roll his eyes the way a lesser actor would have had to do).

    These fragments I have shored against my ruin.  Check them out.


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    02 October 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 2 October 2006.

    PEACHANDBLACK2LMS  SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE LATEST---THE LATEST---SCHOOL SHOOTINGS.  The facts are really too horrible to process, but then---in different ways---all of them have been.  I didn't say a great deal because there really isn't a great deal to say.  I think it's instructive and perhaps even essential to compare American attitudes toward guns to British ones.  Clearly, something needs to be done.  But I am not holding my breath.

    For more, jump to The Flatland Chronicles.


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    01 October 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 1 October 2006.


    So I really didn't think I'd have time to blog today, but then I made the mistake of checking out Digg.com and The Huff Post, and it was too much for me. 

    Listen, I'm not ashamed of being from South Carolina, but if you're from there you get used to certain things that you wouldn't necessarily have to deal with in other parts of the country.  One of them is the Man Sounding Off, using extreme (and often ugly) hyperbole.  So thanks, Larry Shirley of Charleston, for reminding me why I decided years ago I wasn't likely to thrive there.

    Speaking of Florida, not that I was, we've got the Foley thing to deal with here.  (I'm not from his district, though.)  Anyway, that's another one for the Dems, now that they've learned so well from the Republicans how to exploit a scandal.  So I gathered up as many links as I could find to that story.   I don't agree with exploiting that sort of event for political gain, but it's the fault of whoever allowed it to be swept under the carpet a year ago.  Who remembers what happened a year ago?  People barely even remember Katrina. 


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    30 September 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 30 September 2006.


    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!  I provided a link to Bill Clinton's You Tube video at The Flatland Chronicles and some brief commentary.  Today is my birthday and this was one of the highlights.  In the darkest hours of my life that are yet to come, let me remember the sight of Bill Clinton morosely watching his laundry spin. 


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    29 September 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 29 September 2006.

    wrappedblueandgold1LMS  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

    Brief commentary on a multiplicity of issues---it's so hard to stay caught up with things when I never have time to blog properly during the week. 

    • A blurb about Bill O'Reilly's demo of typical neocon debating tactics.
    • The Washington Times: a commemt on Max Blumenthal's article in The Nation and George Archibald's blog at The HuffPost.
    • George Soros writes about the "war on terror" as a false metaphor; not exactly unique, but better than most.
    • Rumsfeld's surprise at "the strength of the insurgency" in Iraq and his comment that no one anticipated it (though even I did).
    • C.C. Goldwater on how the G.O.P. has changed.

    Did I ever mention that I cast my first vote ever for Gerald Ford?  It's true.  And I still don't like Jimmy Carter, however good a person he may be.  He made a crap president and was the impetus for the Moral Majority which morphed at some point Christian Right.  That was back in the days when the Republican Party was still the party that believed in individual rights of privacy, of course, before Ronald Reagan decided to get in bed with the Moral Majority (okay, there ought to be a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not up to finding it) and show them where they really belonged.

    I didn't like Barry Goldwater, even though I was well under 10 years old.  I didn't like him because we had African-American nannies, and they didn't like him.  What they didn't like, I didn't because when I was very young, I was closer to these amazing women who were paid very little to spend all day looking after me than I was to my parents (or anyone else, including God). 

    So my first political argument ever with my parents was over Barry Goldwater when I was in elementary school, and I've been arguing ever since, even though I signed on temporarily with the GOP when I first started voting because I didn't like Jimmy Carter.  I still don't much, though of course I honor his humanitarian and diplomatic undertakings.      

    But now Barry G. is looking pretty good.

    Anyway, this round up demonstrates why I am no longer a Republican and doubt I could ever vote Republican again, unless of course Goldwater comes back from the dead to lead us back to the source.


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    27 September 2006

    Updates to "The Flatland Chronicles" for 26 September 2006.


    Cutting edge comedy?  In Studio 60 last night, the crack team of comedy writers decided that the opening skit should be based on a reworking of Gilbert and Sullivan's "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General."  I am not sure a G&S song that was featured in an episode of Frazier years ago---and that was parodied very effectively by the Animaniacs sometime in the 1990's---qualifies as "cutting edge."

    Actually I liked the episode fine, especially whenever Perry or Whitford, or Perry and Whitford, were front and center.    A note on Studio 60, here.


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    25 September 2006

    Updates to Floridiana Gloriana for 25 September 2006.


    I've taken lots of photographs of Florida landscapes, especially North Florida landscapes.  I have always tried to take photographs of non-obvious things, but of course there's a point at which anything you would consider photographing is, in that sense, obvious.

    But I have always been attracted to old houses and I think I know why.  When I was a child, my parents had one of those New Yorker collections with cartoons and covers in it.  I don't know when this particular collection was published, but I'm guessing sometime in the Sixties. 

    My parents kept it in the living room (which might as well have been roped off) which contained very old family furniture too fragile to sit in and various breakable objects we weren't supposed to breathe on.  I wasn't meant to look at The New Yorker, I remember, and---unusually---it was my father who laid down this injunction; I suppose because it was expensive and he didn't want me to get my grubby little chocolate-covered paws on it.  They weren't bothered about my reading things that might corrupt my childish mind as they took the enlightened position that if I was old enough to read it, I was old enough to read it.  Neither had the heart to stop me reading The New Yorker so I spent many fascinating hours sitting on the living room floor with their New Yorker compendium.   

    I liked the cartoons, but I loved those covers.  I was 10 or 11 at the time and I didn't understand a lot of the cartoons, but I loved looking at the pictures.  Especially this one (the cover by Roger Duvoisin for the October 23, 1954 issue).  That cover painting fascinated me as much as any picture has ever done.  I used to sneak the book into my room, prop it up on my dresser, and leave it open so I could look at it while I was doing my homework.

    Oddly enough, the feeling it evoked, though I was only 10 years old, was one I didn't know how to name at the time:  nostalgia. Specifically, it reminded me of a beach trip I barely remembered to a cottage we'd only visited once, on Edisto Island, South Carolina.  I remembered digging a hole near the ocean with the green shovel that came with my green and blue tin bucket; at some point, a blimp appeared in the overhead sky.   I don't remember seeing it at all till it was directly overhead.  I was frightened, but I remember my father explaining to me that it was a blimp.  It didn't mean a thing to me, but I was duly impressed and rather frightened.

    Then later, when we walked up to the house, leading the body of water I believed was called "The Atlanta Koshen" behind, I also left the green shovel behind.  Later, when my mother asked me where it was, I remembered.  "Well, it's gone now," she said sternly.  Which was the first time anyone ever explained to me about tides.  I felt terrible---for the shovel.  I didn't cry or anything, I don't think, but I remember feeling very empty inside, reflecting on this lost shovel.  Where would it end up?   

    So when I was ten---that is, at least twice the age I'd been on the blimp/shovel day---the sight of that particular cover brought it all back.  I didn't know then why it seemed so significant any more than I do now.  But I sat there wishing I could step into that picture.  I went back over and over and just sat on the living room floor, gazing at it.   I remember telling myself that when I grew up I would live year round in a house like that (which has not come to pass, or not yet).

    I think my feeling for the mysterious attraction of weathered old houses, particularly if abandoned or boarded up started then.  When I started doing photography in the mid-nineties, I took dozens of photographs of derelict houses, including two that had been gutted by fire.  And I have always been drawn to the type of Florida painting that features a broken down Cracker House with an upended canoe in the yard, a glimpse of the swamps, and a red sky. 

    I also liked houses that weren't derelict but just old and honorably and---to me---attractively raffish and faded.   For example, this and this.   A friend of mine who was an artist once told me that this reflects a decadent streak, though perhaps he was just making a pun.

    The two photographs I posted today fit into the category I call "old houses photographed in the late afternoon light.  These are two of my favorites:  two completely different old houses on two completely different afternoons. 


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    24 September 2006

    Updates to "Versus/Reversus" for 24 September 2006.

    blueandsilvermosaic2XLLMS IMAGE HOSTING--AS ALWAYS---BY FLICKR.

    So first I read the article in The New York Times about the National Intelligence Estimates, which didn't surprise me, but which made unpleasant reading anyway.  Having your worst fears confirmed by credible evidence isn't quite the same as just having the fears with no confirmatory evidence, is it?

    Anyway, I don't have much to say about it---as my latin-loving lawyer friend says, "Res ipsa loquitur!"---but I wanted to record the information in Versus/Reversus for future reference and for future mulling over.  (After all, this IS an almanack.)  So I posted this.

    Anyway, it somehow set me thinking about the whole Iraq debate and how when I listened to Sandy Rios discussing it the other night during Real Time with Bill Maher I had the same feeling I always have:  that people who are "pro" and the people who are "con" are talking about completely different things. They sound as if they are talking to each other and they may even appear (occasionally) to hear what the other one says, but it doesn't matter, because they are talking about COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

    So then I wrote this as well, discussing why they don't listen and what they are talking about when they talk about the war that's different from what the other side is talking about.  And hey, I think I've cracked it, Bill!

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    23 September 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus from 23 September 2006.

    wheelgreengold123  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

    Since I'm not able to blog much during the week anymore, there's always way too much catching up to do on the weekends. 


    So...the magnificently principled stand by a trio of Republican Senators ends in....this.  For someone who is desperate to see someone take a nonpartisan position for the long-term good of the country----with due reference to its international reputation----this is a letdown to say the least.  As for the Democrats?  The bloggers at The HuffPost are busy ripping the party a new one for sitting the whole thing out and assenting to the outcome.  If I correctly understand the meaning of the accord,  I have to say it's not what I was hoping for.

    But on the plus side, here's a comment on Bill Clinton's interview with Fox News, where he rips them a new one.  Bonus link to the full transcript, published at "Think Progressive."  Being a centrist, not a true progressive, I still love BC, so I was happy....

    Finally, I hate to have to call out my own dear husband, but I couldn't let his "Reality Check" blog stand without comment.  I disagree with him about racial profiling, even when airport secuity inconveniences his beloved J.K. Rowling.


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    Updates to The Flatland Chronicles for 22 September 2006.


    I keep intending to turn the "Chronicles" into a "slice of life" journal sort of blog and then imagining some person I don't know well who might not particularly like me---harmless as I am---finding out about it through some well-intentioned well-wisher of mine.  And reading it.


    Real writers can't afford to worry about that sort of thing, but bloggers who view blogging as a fun and fulfilling hobby had damn well better worry about it.  There are some things I'm just not prepared to put on the line.  But I wish I had the freedom (and the courage).

    Partly I'm inhibited by the views of Nick and some of my other friends about what one of my friends refers to as "self-referential bloggers."  One friend is fond of reading aloud in a sneering tone from two or three blogs she's targed as particularly egregious examples of this. And while I shouldn't let this deter me, it does, it does. 

    Anyway, some thoughts on this subject and on blogging generally in The Flatland Chronicles.  I manage to tie it all in to Laurie Anderson and William S. Burroughs, which I think is pretty good going. 


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    Updates to the Digital Art Gallery for 22 September 2006.

    goldensilverstone12LMS  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

    Floating moons, antique cufflinks, candles, strange artifacts, wax flowers, stained glass, digital jewelry....  When I have a spare moment, or am feeling particularly stress, I spend some time with paintshop pro and my digital art.  Then I post the pieces I like best in the "Blog Art" blog.  I have faith that someday, someone will find these pieces and find a use for them!


    I decided I won't keep listing individual pieces here because it's too time-consuming and doesn't really give an idea what it's all about anyway.  But if you click on these links, you'll see the most recent pieces, along with all the rest. 

    I still find it really fulfilling in some right-brained unarticulable way to do this.  I've talked before about the joy of making things, even trivial things, and how that can be an end in itself.  Look at the homepage to see all the most recent additions (I'm now almost up to 300 images) or check out the categories below....

    There have been updates to all these categories this week.  In addition---though there haven't been very recent updates, you might check out:


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    22 September 2006

    Updates to The Disquieting Damozel for 22 September 2006.



    For quite awhile, I've been thinking about writing up my experiences last year with the panic disorder that seemed to come out of nowhere to disrupt my life.  It lasted for months, until I at last became miserable and hopeless enough to admit that it wasn't something that I could control or that would go away on its own.  Finally, after months of misery---for me and my husband---I finally allowed myself to be put on medication to control my anxiety and magically, it went away. 

    Though life goes on being uncertain (as adult life is) and riddled with pitfalls and the potential for disappointment and unhappiness (as all life is), I now feel that I can cope with the troughs and enjoy the crests.  I no longer yearn for mere stability and I'm able to enjoy a certain amount of uncertainty.  The thought of having to deal with change doesn't overwhelm me as it used to----and that, for me, was the basis for my panic attacks.

    My problem was (probably) caused by my sudden withdrawal from the estrogen therapy I'd been on for the years following a complete hysterectomy.  But there can be other causes.  And---I've noticed just from observing my friends---the disorder tends to creep up on you. 

    The people I've known who have suffered were all people who had coped with loss, illness, or bereavement really well, according to observers.   One of them, a man, had accepted with initial fury and then silent indifference the marriage of a woman he'd dumped and was no longer in love with but still relied on; the panic attacks started half a year later when he decided to quit his job and make other major life changes.  Another, a woman, had stoically endured treatment for cancer without telling anyone and had spent the two years that followed mediating between other family members who relied on her for her patience, kindness, and support.  Another was a remarkable young man who had been in a relationship with the same woman since high school; when she decided to end their life together, she ended the only life he'd known since adulthood.  And so on.  The one thing they had in common with each other and with me was that after long months and years of endurance the attacks seemed to come out of nowhere.

    What brought it on?  Suppressed rage?  Unacknowledged grief?  Who knows?  And really, who cares?  If panic is just the symptom and not the disease, it's the part that hurts the most. 

    It took me a long time to admit that I had a problem that was different from the problem that I was used to coping with (epilepsy) and that I had long ago publicly acknowledged.  I wanted the symptoms of panic disorder to be epilepsy because everyone already knew about that----a fact I already found sufficiently humiliating----and I didn't feel I could cope with having yet another disabling problem.

    In the end, the solution for me was simple:  [1] Admit I couldn't cope; and [2] Take medication.  The fact is, the transformation from panic to nonpanic felt like a magical transformation.  But first I had to admit that I had a problem that was different from my previous problem and that I couldn't cope with it. 

    I wrote this note so other people who are going through panic attacks (or any other form of anxiety disorder) will be assured that what they are going through is normal (for people with anxiety disorders, anyway) and that it is, or is becoming, fairly common.  In my immediate circle are many solid citizens who have silently endured months of misery because they saw their problem as a sign of some sort of character defect.

    For anyone in the same boat, it really does take finding out that waking up in the morning in a cold sweat feeling as if you are going to die of fear isn't a unique experience or a sign of incipient psychosis before they are usually willing to seek help.  Or at least that's my experience.

    So I wrote about my experiences here, in my anxiety blog.  If you know what I'm talking about, please check it out.

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    20 September 2006

    Updates to Just Eat the Damn Peach for 19 September 2006.


    Having watched and rather liked Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I propose a much more problematic venture for the really good together Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. I mean, it's a good show for the networks and so on, but if you've watched The West Wing, nothing that happens on this show will surprise you except, perhaps, for the saintly network president played by Amanda Peet.  Really?  A saintly network president who sweeps in on her first day and sets everything to rights over the objections and trepidations of the stock corporate weasel who hired her? 

    She's a female Hollywood version of Jeb Bartlett only of course---as she is a woman--- much younger and comelier and free of crustiness and so on.  What was that line from the old Dorothy Parker review (of The Admirable Crichton, not that it matters).  "You can practically see the stigmata."  You can't see any stigmata on this glossy creature; she doesn't look as if she'd bleed if you cut her; but you can practically see wings and a halo.  I like her character because how could you not?  Which is one problem I had with the pilot.

    We've all seen this character before, as well as all the others that populate this very well-written and engaging show.  I'm not saying I won't watch it, because I quite like it, but it's Perry and Whitford who made it credible (to the extent it was). 

    See my further thoughts here.


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    19 September 2006

    Updates to The Flatland Chronices for 19 September 2006.

    ruby2a Go, Al! Thoughts on Al Gore, who was always underrated and a link to his speech at NYU, which effectively responds to his critics.   Keep it going, Al!  Bonus:  link to a nice note by Donny Fowler at The Huffington Post.   


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    18 September 2006

    Updates to "The Heretic's Handbook" for 18 September 2006.

    metallicgreencrosssm2 The inspiration for this posting was something I found on YouTube, courtesy of Reddit:  "Camp Jesus." 

    I think religion is important and that children should be given exposure to it, but this particular clip was really distressing.  For one thing, it makes a mockery (in my opinion) by some of Christianity's deepest mysteries---e.g., the Pentecost.  For another, it teaches children to overvalue---directly to contrary to Christ's teaching----the outward manifestations of righteousness. 

    Apparently Evangelicals are divided over this film, which at least shows that they are not all necessarily cut from the same piece of cloth.  But it ought to make anyone shudder to hear these wild-eyed but---apparently---intellectually blank pre-adolescents go on about being soldiers in a war prepared to bring the nation back to Jesus.  I'm assuming they mean, "Whether it wants to go or not." 

    Man, St. Paul has a lot to answer for, for a guy who never even met Jesus while he was alive.  I blame him for everything that's wrong with Christianity, you know.   If the afterlife is like these people believe and not like I do, I hope he's made to spend all his time listening to evangelicals "witnessing" and pentecostals "testifying" and "speaking in tongues." 


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    Updates to The Flatland Chronicles for 18 September 2006.

    balloonartblues_2 Surrogate Overachievers.  You've got to feel sorry for kids today. 

    When I was growing up, all I had to do was go to school and come home in the afternoons.  I was allowed to take piano lessons and art lessons for as long as I wanted them (which was right up to the point that I worked out that I had no significant talent in either area), but except for random efforts by my mom to make me participate in certain group activities that for some inscrutable reason she decided I needed to be involved in, I was left pretty much to my own devices.

    When do kids today have time to do anything "just 'cause" as we used to say?  I am awed and amazed by my friends who are bringing up children; they are so involved; so devoted; so inextricably mixed up in every aspect of their children's lives.

    I would have hated it.

    For the edification of parents, an article on how parents make their children obese and another article on the hideous pressure on kids today to get into the "best college"---by which they mean, not the best for them, but the highest rated----and one dean's epiphany and advice to parents everywhere.

    Do people not really see a connection?  Maybe people DO eat too much, but that's nature taking its course:  if the food's around, we're pretty much geared to eat; our bodies haven't figured out---and wouldn't believe it if they could---that a famine isn't around the corner.

    But that isn't the root problem, I'd bet you anything.  I imagine that anxiety is at the root of a lot of obesity AND eating disorders. What in the hell can kids who aren't already on antidepressants do to alleviate anxiety EXCEPT eat?

    These are hard times to be a child.  I worried a lot when I was growing up about being killed by what was known in South Carolina as "the adam bum," but even though we had occasional civil defense exercises when we were in school----which brings up the question, why aren't there any of those NOW?----no foreign power had ever dropped a bomb on the U.S.  I can't imagine what it's like for these kids to hear "terror alerts" every other month or so. 

    You can see why they would seek out the pleasurable effects of very sweet or very salty junk foods.  When threats are constantly in the air, short-term solutions just make a lot more visceral sense.

    Anyway....check out these links here regarding parental examples and parental expectations

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    17 September 2006

    Updates for 16-17 September to "Versus/Reversus."

    necklaceflowerstarI thought a lot this weekend about the detrimental effect of party politics on decency, civilization, and television docudramas; and it all set me thinking about the ways in which the two parties are preventing the system from running the way it's meant to do.  In the course of my musing, I dipped again into The Federalist Papers(Wow, the things you can find free online these days).

    • In "Checks not Accepted/PARTY GAMES" In this extensively linked note, I bemoan the willingness of Congress to act as enablers to the executive branch rather than to fulfill their role in checking unwarranted expansions of executive power and bad policies.  Though I don't hold the briefest brief for most Congressional Republicans, the Democrats must be blamed for making the world a bit more partisan and for failing to stand on principled at certain critical points.  Party games are inimical to democratic government.  Not exactly a huge revelation, I know.  But it's been bothering me and I wanted to get it off my chest.
    • In "More Security than We can Afford," I muse a bit on Chertoff's remarks to a Senate committee: If we devote more resources to security, are we just playing into the terorrists' hands? and other such questions.  Unnerving.
    • In Real Time with Bill Maher for September 16, 2006, I talk about...guess what?  It was a pretty good episode with a lot going on it (almost too much, in fact).  Sometimes an embarrassment of riches is just embarrassing.  The panel didn't talk as much as I'd have liked about the things that interested me most, and there was a fascinating interview with Pat Buchanan about an issue that wasn't especially earth-shaking.

    It's a lot of blogging, but I'll more than make up for it by not having any time at all this week to write anything else.  Or at least that's the way it's looking now.   


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    16 September 2006

    Updates to the "Blog Art" Blog for 16 September 2006.

    jewelbluemsI posted a number of new offerings tonight, since I don't have much time anymore during the week.


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    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 14-16 September 2006.


      • A smorgasbord of useful and interesting things.  First an article on "eye floaters," which I saved mainly because my first ones scared the bejesus out of me; I thought I was going blind.  So I'm glad to see some DIGGer dug it up.  Second, the discovery of an ancient writing from the Olmec civilization.  As I'm fascinated by ancient civilizations and feel that the Egyptians, however intriguing, have been a bit overdone, I'm really excited to hear this and look forward to more.  Third, the discovery of a new kind of planet.  Finally, the general theory of relativity passes "the pulsar test" with flying colors.  Check out my links here.
      • Some undoubtedly weird lab animals;  perhaps I should be horrified, but they look perfectly happy---even the mouse with the human ear growing out his back---and seem not to know they're, you know, different.  Even the green pigs.  I'm afraid I can't resist ANY animal and these are certainly endearing.  Though I'd be most upset if they seemed to be suffering.  I trust not.   Check it out here and be sure to visit the link.


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    15 September 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 15 September 2006.

    moltenmetalboxS REPUBLICANS, DUE PROCESS, & THE AMERICAN WAY. McCain, Powell, Warner, and Graham.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I disagree with all of you on fundamental points, but I know courage when I see it and this Democrat longs to return to the day when bipartisan efforts kept the country firmly on the middle path. 

    Furthermore, it's reassuring and hopeful to see members of Congress performing one of the legislature's function:  acting as a check on the chief executive who attempts to overreach (as all of them sooner or later do, though in varying degrees).  I've said it before:  it's the role of Congress to step in on behalf of the people.  As one of those people, even though a Democrat, I am very grateful.

    I'm glad to see Colin Powell taking a stand as well.  Let's hope they prevail.  Here, in Versus/Reversus


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    Updates to The Disquieting Damozel for 15 September 2006.


    Okay, this Time Magazine article (I read it in the hard copy version) really upset me. While it merely confirms what I already strongly suspected, getting confirmation is different from just suspecting...and this is something I think is wrong, wrong, wrong, and far more threatening to the peace of mind and security of the average American than the "domestic spying" of the government for the purpose of tracking down terrorists. While I support the right of employers to monitor certain aspects of their employees' use of their resources, including paid time, I am horrified that much more intrusive surveillance is apparently more and more widely accepted. How far should an employers' power extend? And if it extends indefinitely, how can anyone whose livelihood depends on a job be considered "free"? This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "wage slaves" and I think it should be STOPPED. Fortunately, my own employer would never resort to such tactics so I, at least, am free to speak out.

    If this information doesn't make you angry, or at least very very anxious, inspect your arm for the implanted microchip. We need to draw the lines sooner rather than later. People shouldn't get used to the idea that this is "the way it is." CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE DISQUIETING DAMOZEL.


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    Updates to the "Blog Art" Blog for 15 September 2006.


    I made a number of updates to the Blog Art Blog.  To save file space, I decided I'd start using Flickr for image hosting, so my most recent "Blog Art" images are all hosted there!

    I'm working a lot more now with textures and dimensions.  I don't mean that to sound pretentious:  what I mean is that I'm focusing now on using Paintshop Pro to create images that have the appearance of solidity and of specific texture (such as the "satiny" appearance of the globe you see on the left. 

    Newest additions are:

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    Updates to Floridiana Gloriana for 15 September 2006.


    In Floridiana Gloriana, my Florida photoblog, I posted some beautiful photographs of Palatka, Florida on the St. Johns River.   Yes, I know you've never heard of it!  All the more reason to have a look; it's a sweet old southern town. The images are listed here:

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    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 15 September 2006.


    Work means a lot less blogging for Damozel.  In The Flatland Chronicles, I discussed my priorities; and I then rationalize my lack of convictions, ambition and strong opinions.  Opinions.  Who needs them, huh?


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    12 September 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 12 September 2006.


    September 10 Update to the Flatland Chronicles/Quiddities and Oddities (forgot this one!)

    Disappointing realities versus pseudoscience; a letdown over the "mysterious" Piri Reis map that an acquantance assured me was a genuine anomaly; plus a really good site. 


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    10 September 2006

    Updates to Versus/Reversus for 10 September 2006.

    goldwebs I may move my "Reality Bites" category to Versus/Reversus; otherwise, Versus/Reversus stands an excellent chance of becoming "The Book of Bill Maher."  Actually, Friday's Real Time episode was delightful, especially the panel. (P.J.!  My most beloved enemy!)  Oh yes, and the closing monologue was trenchant

    In fairness to myself, I did follow it up with a most sincere essay on my feelings about "the war on terrorism,"  war generally, and what we ought to be doing instead of actual literal war.  It's nothing that other people haven't said, especially Bill Maher. 

    The link is here.

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    Updates to the Flatland Chronicles for 10 September 2006.

    topazms_1   I have really not done much blogging for the last several days.  First and foremost, work intervened----as it does and will increasingly do----but second, blog maintenance intervened.  Furthermore, I can't see having a lot of time for it during the next week.  I thought I'd do quite a lot of it today, just to prove to myself that I'm still in the blogging game.

    Would anyone ever do anything on the internet if they realized the work involved in doing it well?   I spent a large portion of the little free time I had last week trying to sort out a problem with my code.  I don't know any HTML, but somehow---I am still not sure how---I managed.

    • Anyway:  my first posting to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES in quite awhile deals with Steve Irwin, snakes, Bill Maher, and Freud.  And believe it or not, they are all connected.   Click here to go there
    • My second, TASTES LIKE CHICKEN, is  rather bitter rant against the failure of either side to focus on fixing problems (as opposed to using every possible opportunity to slag off the opposing parties).  A BBC article about the whole nonsensical "Saddam had connections to Al-Quaeda" argument  is what got me started.  You know, sometimes you have to defer arguing about who is at fault in order to SOLVE THE PROBLEM.  Bush is there; for Democrats, the focus should be on doing everything possible to mitigate the consequences that our politics make it difficult for us to stomach.  If that's what is happening, the rhetoric and finger-pointing and invective are keeping the public from seeing exactly what's being done to make things better.  Besides, it increasingly feels as if they think I'm stupid.  That hurts, guys.

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    Updates to the "Blog Art" Blog for 10 September 2006.

    goldontealS IS IT ART? DECIDEDLY, NO.  I posted a few images to the Blog Art Blog----from now on, they will all be linked from Flickr---but I don't think I'll be posting as much due to the time constraints.   

    And on that score, I decided to take a look at some of the "groups" on Flickr that share "artwork."  Apparently, digital art doesn't qualify you to participate in most groups that share "artwork."  "Real" artists, whatever they are (and however appalling their productions), don't take kindly to people who produce digital art referring to it as "artwork."  One wrote, "You don't create the Photoshop filters."  So?  They don't create the paints and so forth that they use.   

    I could say, It's not the filters; it's knowing what to do with them, sunshine.  But I won't. I do not think of myself as an "artist" or these images (or my photographs) as "art."   My category names alone should make it clear that I don't take my image tinkering seriously (except as a palliative for anxiety and tension).

    I just don't like people who try to draw these lines.  It's presumptuous, pretentious, and arrogant. 

    But to anyone who is that sort of person:  When I refer to "blog art" I mean "art FOR bloggers to USE in their BLOGS."  I don't plan to use "artwork" anymore as a tag, now that I've found more specific ones ("digital artwork" is better). No doubt REAL artists who are "blogging art," dismayed at having their tags cluttered up with digital images, will breathe a sigh of relief.

    This will be the last one using those particular tags, guys, I promise!

    Here's the list: 


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    07 September 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Almanack for 5-6 September 2006.


    It's been a busy week for me...but I did get around to posting some of my [heretical] thoughts as a modern-day "gnostic" christian in my modern day gnostic christian blog, "The Heretic's Handbook."  Here are some of my heretical thoughts about God, Christ, death, and hell.  I don't mean to imply that I've got it all worked out----I do not.  I often waver in my beliefs as much as in my faith.  But one of the differences between me and capital C Christians is that I think this is okay to do.  In fact, I think this is exactly how it's supposed to be.  You're supposed to be unsure. 

    I think that our life here requires the perception of being separate (from God or the cosmos generally).  Perhaps death will be a rejoining; or there may be other phases and states of existence.  I don't know. 

    But I do know this:  if human beings knew for a fact that God existed, or if they knew for a fact that death was only an end to this phase of their existence, who would stick around for the bad parts?  And if nobody did, what would be the point of it?  We're clearly not here just to enjoy ourselves; fear of death is a requirement for the survival for our species as much as any other. 

    After all, even Christ was afraid to die. 


    IN THE BLOG ART BLOG, where I deal constructively with my anxieties, I have posted the following on the homepage:

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    04 September 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Almanack for 3-4 September 2006.

    Translucentstar I spent most of yesterday setting up Nick's new typepad blog, "A Gentleman's Domain." 

    IN THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES.  I didn't really have time to write much...and then...and then...I heard that Steve Irwin, one of my few heroes had died in the sort of freak accident he was always at risk for.  (Remember the credit card commercial where he pretended to be bitten by a particularly "diddly" snake?  Oh, Steve.)   

    Everything I have to say about it just sounds selfish, since I didn't even know the man.  But I still feel it personally.  Someone who made the world different and who did extraordinary things in an extraordinary fashion is gone.  I won't say anymore because I already wrote about it here

    IN FLORIDIANA GLORIANA.  More soothing photographs of Cedar Key, showing the town by twilight.

    In the blog art blog:  Several additions:

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    02 September 2006

    Updates for September 2 2006.

    Redandgold_1 So, today. 

    FIRST, UPDATES TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES, MY NEW JOURNAL/DAILY BLOG.  I woke up thinking about Bill Maher's Friday night Real Time episode, with which I was less than captivated.  As much as I love Bill M., I do get fed up with him banging on about religion, a subject which for some reason he apparently doesn't think it's necessary for him to educate himself about before holding forth. 

    As for the panel, Penn Jillette was incredibly irritating; Berry was all right; Issa was ingratiating ["smarmy", said one of my friends] and struck me as a Republican capable of more than just the automatic kneejerk responses I'm accustomed to from beleaguered Right wingers, Harry Anderson was funny but weird, and I couldn't follow the reasoning of the apologist for the War in Iraq, though I certainly tried. 

    Anyway, my first update to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES consist of my initial reflections on Real Time.  I may live to retract all or some of them subsequently; who knows?  I was offended, frankly, by yet ANOTHER gratuitous throwing-baby-jesus-out-with-the-bathwater slam at "ignorant" Christians, but whatever.  I may be many things, but ignorant I certainly am not. 

      Here it is.

    IN FLORIDIANA GLORIANA.  I forgot to post an update from some time back, so I'm including it here.  Having posted a few suitably charming photos from the Space Coast, I felt free to return to my true love, the Nature Coast and specifically to my place of places, Cedar Key.  I've avoided it till now because I love it so much I'm afraid I won't do it justice. 


    A few new entries:

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    01 September 2006

    Update for 30 August 2006 through 1 September 2006

    Beautifulrainbowmetalrosel_2 I decided today to make this page an index/table of contents for all my other blogs and to relocate the actual content I was posting here to "The Flatland Chronicles", located here.  The main reason I decided to make the switch is that I am having problems with this particular blog; it isn't updating properly, even when I ping Technorati individually, and I have no idea what to do about it.  Anyway, the new addition to my weblog family is HERE.

    I've done a fair amount of posting in the past couple of days, as follows: 


    • CHRONICLES FOR 29 AUGUST 2006On August 29, I was in a ruminative frame of mind.  I started talking about my work and how the fact that I'm passionate about it makes me feel good about getting back into it full time; and somehow from there segued into another discussion of Gordon Ramsay and the episode of Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares we happened to be watching.  That somehow brought me to Deadwood----<SNIFF>---and how pointlessly annoyed I am with HBO for not giving us a couple more full seasons.  It's sort of a long and winding road but eventually I arrived where I was going.
    • QUIDDITIES & ODDITIES [30 AUGUST 2006]:   Believe it or not, there is a connection:  free books, Bartleby the Scrivener, the Encantadas, dinosaurs, hobbits, and the late, great Mr. Edward Gorey.  BONUS:  For fans of the macabre, I included two of Edward Gorey's remarkable limericks!  (Not recommended for the squeamish).
    • CHRONICLES FOR 1 SEPTEMBER 2006:  THE GROCERY BAG SANDALS---PART 2.  I've been meaning for days to get around to writing about the charming note I received from the maker of the original grocery bag sandals.  They got me thinking.  Then they got me making things.
    • THE BLOGCOMBER FOR 2 SEPTEMBER 2006.  REAL LIVE PREACHER---THE NATURE OF EVIL.  In my new cateogry, I respond to two fascinating essays by the author of my favorite Christian blog, "Real Live Preacher."


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    29 August 2006

    Updates for 28-29 August 2006.

    Updates to this blog ("The Flatland Almanack.")

    Updates to THE FLATLAND ALMANACK "BLOG ART" BLOG.  Lots!  I've been having fun.

    Posted August 28:

    Posted August 29:

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    27 August 2006

    Updates for 26-27 August 2006

    Goldontealplanet_1   IN THIS BLOG [THE FLATLAND ALMANACK]

    • In Reality Bites, a brief note on Katherine Harris's attempts to "clarify" the meaning of that quote about "separation of church and state" that I discussed previously; a great deal more on the subject of the city of New Orleans (inspired partly by When the Levees Broke, partly by Real Time with Bill Maher, and partly by the hurricane that's even now working its way north.  That note is here.


    • Christopher Hitchens' Middle Finger.  He really acquitted himself in true neocon style on Real Time with Bill Maher, failing completely to rise above the audience's disapproval and finally resorting to rude gestures that I would have thought he'd consider beneath him.  Heh. This is the same guest, by the way, who during his last RT appearance was rebuking Bill Maher for "lack of chivalry" toward Laura Bush.   

    IN THE BLOG ART BLOG:  A lot of new postings. I've made a lot of images and keep forgetting what I've done; it just seems like a good idea to go ahead and post them.

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    26 August 2006

    Updates for 24-25 August 2006

    Moltenjewell_1  Here's a summary of recent updates:

    In "The Flatland Almanack" (this blog):

    • In "Quiddities and Oddities," good news about tea; and some information that really ought to interest everyone (believers and non-) about why "The Veronica's Veil" is nothing at all like the shroud of Turin---an artifact which is a lot stranger than you probably imagine or than skeptics so far can explain.  24 August 2006.
    • In Reality Bites:  they're taking away Pluto.  BASTARDS. When I did a quick net check, most people are as outraged as I am.  24 August 2006. 
    • In Reality BitesI say nothing at all nasty or snide about Katherine Harris; I just let her do the talking herself.  Also:  a poll that should show Democrats AGAIN that they really need to reach out to God botherers who are serious about Christian morality.  24 August 2006.

    In The Blog Art Blog, new clipart:

    Honestly, if I do say so myself, you really should check out my free clipart.  I really am working at it, and some of my designs are pretty cool.  I've been posting a lot of new samples---several new pieces a day.

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    24 August 2006

    Updates for 21-23 August 2006

    Coppersunburstl Updates for 23 July 2006:

    In this blog:

    In The Flatland Chronicles, my initial reactions to Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke, Acts 1-2; what governments could learn from Gordon Ramsay & a kick-ass idea for a reality show. 

    In Quiddities & Oddities, some information about the homelife of whales.

    In The Blog Art Blog, some new additions:

    Get some little pieces of original artwork for your blog (free, naturally).


    Updates for 22 August 2003: 

    • In "Reality Bites,"  Reflections on Joel Stein's article in this week's Time, "Cupcake Nation"; and the imminent [FINALLY] return of Bill Maher's Real Time.
    • Many rhetorical and non-rhetorical questions, and reflections on civility, in The Flatland Chronicles.


    For 21 August 2006.

    • In Quiddities & Oddities, an article on the music of the spheres (literally!) & how Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon led to the recovery of an important moon landing tape.
    • In The Flatland Chronicles:  The Restoration of Civility---some thoughts.

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    20 August 2006

    Update for 20 August 2006.

    Broochgold_1 In ANGLO-SAXON ATTITUDES, a long posting in honor of GORDON RAMSAY, chef extraordinaire, here.  I posted the same article in JUST EAT THE DAMN PEACH here, since it's also about what I call inspirational TV programming. 

    To THE BLOG ART BLOG, I added the following:

    • Dragon's Eye Jewel, here.
    • Blue and Gold Cross, here.
    • Rainbow Weave, here.
    • Rainbow Horns/Rainbow Party Hats, here.

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    Updates to the Flatland Almanack for 19 August 2006

    Cloakpingolden Since yesterday: 



  • Bitter Bad.  Haditha.   
  • Hard to Swallow.  My fellow Dems keep cranking out the conspiracy theories.  I am trying to understand how this is productive or if it's even supposed to be. 

  • Asteroid Busters!
  • Rejuvenations & Interventions.


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    19 August 2006

    Updates for 16-19 August 2006

    OInlandgreenlace2ribbon_1 kay; I hope I remember everything.

    First, to "The Flatland Alamanack":

    Quiddities & Oddities:

    Reality Bites:

    • Sweet & sour, with a caustic aftertaste, [17 August 2006] "No hereditary kings"; silly conspiracy theories; more about Joe Lieberman, some unseemly schadenfreude over the Republicans' desertion of Katherine Harris (mean and uncalled-for).
    • The Raw Taste [18 August 2006]. Hollywood takes a stand against terrorism (yeah, that'll work); Tim Rutten on allegedly faked photographs from Lebanon and people who use them to portary Israel's recent actions as "the moral equivalent" of (I guess) terrorism; how it's possible for well-wishers to criticize Israeli policy; Israel's soldiers: "We fought for nothing", plus some other and surprising complaints from the tr0ops.

    Other blogs:



    16 August 2006

    The Flatland Almanack for 16 August 2006

    Redsilkscarf_2sm  I've got quite a number of updates to post from the last few days, since I moved most of the content from my original blog to my shiny new "sub-blogs", listed on the left.  But to start with, I want to list the genuinely new content I added today:

    In "The Blog Art Blog," six new pieces:

    • In shades of peach and gold, a pretty gold and white diaper-patterned piece, here.
    • In orange and gold, a piece that reminds me of Roman jewelry (I must have seen something somewhere).  Anyway, it's here.
    • A rainbow-patterned button in rather watery tints, here.
    • A rainbow-patterned button in deeper colors, here.
    • Blue silk scarf with gold stars, here.
    • Red silk scarf, here.

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    12 August 2006

    The Flatland Chronicles for 12 August 2006

    Neonmandala_1  I am starting to move material from my old blog to this new one (though only the postings that still seem to have relevance and that I feel strongly about).  I'll be posting links and further information in a couple of days when I'm done with it all.  It's very time-consuming. In addition, I posted a pretty extended piece in my "Reality" category (where I pull together various bits of information that I've read which seem related and to which I've had a strong reaction." 

    Today's dose:  "Spewing Out the Whole Cup of Joe."   For my inspiration, see Jon Stewart's take.  If you haven't seen it,  I recommend this link.

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    11 August 2006

    Updates to The Flatland Almanack for 11 August 2006



    For today, I  added artwork to the "gallery".  Specifically:  A pair of rather Baudelairian flowers, one of which you see right here and which is posted for downloading here.  The other has a boxy metallic look which for some reason makes me think of the weird blue box in Mulholland Drive into which "Rita" disappears right before Diane wakes up, a very shivery moment.  It doesn't really look like that box, but for me it evokes it.  Anyway.  It's here.

    I also posted a pretty silvery butterfly that showed up on my screen and an amusing flower that looks like a child's colorful summer camp project.

    Okay, right, I have a good imagination, okay?

    In addition,  I created a new category for dealing with short snippets of news called Reality Bites.  I posted commentary on an article I read discussing the relief efforts in Lebanon; and on on a blog entry by David Mamet arguing (in effect) that the negative criticism of Israel in the media is motivated by anti-semitism.  Finally, I included some brief remarks on an article from BBC Online giving the full story on Mel Gibson.  It's posted here.   

    Because there is so much material in these last couple of days, I cobbled together several articles dealing with the UK investigations and some of the ways in which the UK problem differs from ours.  I really hadn't realized.  I published that posting also in the "Reality Bites" category, here.

    Finally, I have included a comment on an interesting blog by Max Blumenthal and related article addressing the emerging "Christian Zionist" movement.  It's posted in my Versus blog, here.

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    The Flatland Chronicles for 10 August 2006

    Egypt_6 An emotional day, obviously, for everyone. 

    I am feeling very annoyed with both political parties.   I wrote a condemnatory screed, spending a lot of time at it. Later, I decided I was being unfair to my fellow Dems, and deleted it.  Sigh.

    But here's a comment on Burt Bacharach's thoughts concerning "An Inconvenient Truth." It's in Versus.  I know it seems an odd choice of subject, but it struck me.

    Finally, I posted more pieces of homemade clipart.

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    09 August 2006

    Updates to The Flatland Almanack for 6 August through 8 August

    Cloisonne_6 Here is a list of postings for the last few days:

    BEGUILING JUNK TV VS. IRRITATING JUNK TV. First, a little discussion---in the [Dame Edna Voice/]kindest possible spirit[/Dame Edna Voice]---comparing the television show I most hate to love (Footballer's Wives) and the show I am proud to hate (Desperate Housewives).  Both are completely pointless froth, and yet Footballer's Wives makes me feel engaged in the ridiculous lives of, and ludicrous plotlines concerning, the lives of British-tabloid-fodder women, whereas Desperate Housewives makes me despise women whose struggles would normally be of at least passing interest to me.  I don't think it's the acting, so I'm guessing it's something about the writing.  "That's your opinion!" said a DH fan friend of mine heatedly.  Yes, that's right.  And it---with my reasons---can be found here, in Just Eat the Damn Peach.

    I also gave rather lengthy thought to an issue that is obviously of concern to many people all the time, judging by the people who check out a certain tangentially related posting I wrote some time back (on death and dying).  This posting has to do with coping with the death of a loved one (something I went through myself when my late husband Don died).  I posted it because I too sat up late at night, searching the web for advice on how to get through.  Maybe someone who needs it will eventually find it.  It's posted, like all such uncomfortable memories, here in The Disquieting Damozel

    Finally, my category for posting/sharing some of my "artwork" from my gleeful kid-finger-painting-like experiments with Paintshop Pro.  These are very humbly submitted in case anyone else likes virtual baubles as much as I do.

    First, an admittedly rather coaster-ish looking sunburst that I derived from a photograph of a building at Jacksonville Landing taken from a water taxi one day right before sunset.  It's here.

    Second, a very pretty lavender lace-on-blue button derived from a late afternoon photograph of the pier, sand, and waves at Flagler Beach, here.  It's one of my personal favorites.

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    05 August 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Almanack for 4-5 August 2006

    Beautifulrainbowmetalrose1_2   Here are my updated postings for the last couple of days:

    Christianity, Christ, and Mel Gibson.

    Heart breaking?  Heart broken?  Some recommendations.

    Also, in my new category, "Quiddities and Oddities," some discussion of an article on the Bermuda Triangle, which sorts out fact from myth, plus a digression concerning the Brown Mountain Lights, a current scientific explanation, and my own personal encounter with a similar phenomenon.  Weird science, yay!

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    03 August 2006

    Updates to the Flatland Almanack for 3 August 2006.

    Tentacle2_2 Okay, then!

    Today's postings include:

    In my Anglo-Saxon Attitudes Blog (& imported from my previous blog), two postings:

    An Update on the Cirencester Problem; and

    English Food, American Tourists

    In Floridiana Gloriana (my Florida blog):

    Some beautiful photographs from Fort Island Gulf Beach, Florida; and

    A page showing various houses in and around North Florida that we especially liked.

    Two facinating little snippets in my new category, Quiddities and Oddities:

    A wonderful UK site called Atmospheric Optics.

    An article (mostly pictures) of unusually elaborate crop circles that recently appeared---pretty!----and a website about the people who make them.



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