Archive for March, 2004

yogurt revalation

Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

If you live in Britain, you probably don’t know that yogurts in the United States are quite different from those made and sold in the UK – they’re generally thicker and are kind of goopy – I believe that they often add gelatins, starches and gums to thicken the yogurt which gives it, I think, a really unpleasant and unnatural texture. I’ve found a couple of brands I enjoy, but Emma refuses to eat any despite having tried a number of different brands. Last night, however, we had something of a yogurt epiphany – I got a pot of yogurt from the Wallaby Yogurt Company which was on special at the Wedge Co-op. And wow, it was good. Smooth, full of fruit, not too sweet, light – just delicious. Probably to stop me from bugging her Emma eventually tried some and was really impressed. The company’s web site says that they make the stuff to be similar to what you find in Europe and Australia (hence the name) and they’ve done an excellent job.

not just me

Friday, March 26th, 2004

So it’s not just me (and Paul, and a bunch of other people I know) who are shocked – SHOCKED! – at the bigotry and general mean-ness of Minnesota Republicans in trying to push a constitutional amendment that would codify the banning of gay marriage, even though there’s already a law on the books which does just that. Even people living in small towns (who we big-city types, I’m sorry to say, usually imagine to be reactionary rubes) are sick to the stomach of these unpleasant politicians and their self-righteous posturing. Here’s how I found out:

Just finished doing my taxes (finally) in which I realized that I’d mis-entered a value so we in fact don’t owe as much as I’d feared, in fact we may come out with almost three whole dollars. Now just need to sign everything, package it all up and mail it off. Anyway, before I shut down I thought I’d check up on the local news and was thrilled to see that a panel of the Minnesota Senate have voted down the proposed constitutional amendment. Hallelujah! (although, as Paul pointed out, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the argument of course). I saw a quote from the Republican senator who introduced this malodorous bill, Senator Michele Bachmann, saying that it will take a miracle for her bill to pass this session, but she believes in miracles. How nice for her. How sweet and endearing to suggest that a happy-bunny miracle could come about to discriminate against a whole section of the population. Sheesh. Maybe she should be thinking about sensible legislation which wouldn’t need a miracle and people would say “Yes, I actually believe that the government I voted for is doing something useful, like helping the unemployed, or helping the homeless, or improving schools, or cutting my commute time, and in fact if the ‘Christians’ who are hijacking a loving, forgiving religion were spending as much time and energy and prayer on issues of social justice and helping the poor like the Big Man suggested, rather than praying for discrimination, then the world might be a happier place and our kids might just grow up in a strong world.”

OK, calmness now. Deep breathing.

Aaaanyway. So when I googled the good Senator, there was a link to this site, a blog of a really decent sounding guy who happens to be a biology professor in a small-town campus of the University of Minnesota. He has a healthy disdain for hypocrites, bigots and creationists and a nice writing style. I plan to visit his pages often.

tube geek

Friday, March 26th, 2004

Paul messaged me a link about British chocolate biscuits this afternoon, the link being from some guy in London. I started casting around his site, and it’s mostly geeky stuff, but I was kind of horribly fascinated by his Tube Challenge pages where he documents in extreme detail his attempts to get to every tube station in the London Underground system within one day, beating the world record. The guy is clearly a geek but you have to admire his tenacity.

national level

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Further to the previous two posts, if you live in America but outside of Minnesota, you may be interested in the Human Rights Campaign, which is doing the same kinds of things as Outfront, but at the national level.

useful link

Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Further to that previous post, I just want to link to OutFront Minnesota who are working desparately hard to stop our state politicians from trying to force an amendment to the Minnesota contitution which would in effect ban gay marriage. OutFront also work to help stop discrimination against the gay population. Please take a look, and support them if that’s something you feel moved to do. Thanks.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Paul wrote a good comment on the issue of gay marriage, and the government’s involvement in the issue, and potential legislation banning it. As usual he’s thoughtful and logical – it’s worth a read. I posted quite a long reply to it, which I’ve copied here:

I think that the flaw in your thinking, as it relates to the real world anyway, is “Putting aside religious arguments…”. Unfortunately our politicians are doing no such thing – the President talking about “preserving the sanctity of marriage” etc. Let’s ignore the fact that heteros aren’t necessarily doing such a great job of that, and that government should have nothing to do with “sanctity” because it’s not their job. But what they do see is the “religious” “right” who have huge pots of cash and influence and have these politicians in their pockets.

But aside from that I agree that I don’t see how the fact that two men or two women being married is inherently worse (in the sense that it would undermine society) than one man and one woman. Again let’s ignore something – this time the offensive “What’s next?” argument: What’s next? Legalized bigamy? Bestiality?

It could of course be that a child raised with a male parent and a female parent might get better balance in some ways, from having the influence of different genders, but this doesn’t specifically follow because their mother may be more masculine or their father more feminine – who knows? So let’s not make that generalization. And again it falls into the argument of the fundamentalists that marriage is for the procreation of children, which would seem to nullify the marriage of infertile couples or older couples who are past child-bearing age, or even those who just don’t want to have kids.

So for the government to be judging the quality of a marriage and its effect on society could be fraught with problems. A man who beats his wife is obviously bad for society, but there’s no legislation saying that he can’t marry again, even if he’s in prison for what he did. Yet if you happen to be gay and in love with someone you’re treated as more of a threat to society.

You may agree that divorce is bad for society, so should the government legislate to stop people from divorcing, or to stop the marriage of people who may be likely to get divorced? It may be fair for a particular church to refuse to marry divorced people if that’s their belief but noone is suggesting that the government has a hand in legislating that. But to me, what they’re trying to do with gay marriage is just as arbitrary.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Wow, this looks tasty. I’d suggest also adding a few fennel seeds to the meatballs to give them that delicious slightly aniseed flavor.

almost liquid again

Friday, March 19th, 2004

When we bought our house a year and a half ago we managed to get a deal where we could get a mortgage for just over the value of the house. This meant that we could have our closing costs covered and keep our savings for home improvements and as an emergency fallback, which worked quite well. However because our mortgage was for more than 80% of the house’s value, it meant that we had to pay PMI – Private Mortgage Insurance. And while that article states that PMI can be up to $100 per month, we were somehow paying almost $200. Not a good deal, as this payment doesn’t really pay for anything – it doesn’t go towards the mortgage total, and unlike the mortgage interest it’s not tax deductible. So we have thought of it as just a fee for the privilege of being able to have the house.

A few weeks ago I started shopping around for a new mortgage – house prices have risen and rates have dropped, so it seemed like a good time. I used Lending Tree where I entered our requirements, which were sent to various lenders who could then vie for my business. Nice system. So far it seems to be going well, we’ve had lots of documentation to deal with but the guys we’ve been working with have been very helpful, and tell me that it should all be signed and sealed within the next couple of weeks. It seems that we’ll even be able to roll our car loan into the new financing, with the net result that we’ll be paying $tons less per month on these loans, meaning that we’ll be living within our means once again. Unless of course we go nuts with spending sprees because we’ll feel like we have loads of spare cash.


Thursday, March 18th, 2004

Following Richard’s example I just put a new link on the sidebar to GeoURL, so you can now view websites which live near to me.

wacky religious laughs

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

For our religious readers, here are some new mass media offerings to think about.