Archive for August, 2004

extreme point-proving

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

On Pharyngula today I found a link to a story about a “scientist” who claims that Ireland is in fact the lost city of Atlantis. So far, so mad. The quote from him made me laugh, because he said “I expect to have my knockers” – I know, I’m 14 years old sometimes, imagining a Scandinavian scientist preparing for plastic surgery. His next sentence, however, made me gasp at its audacity, “But we must assume that I am right until others can prove I am wrong.” Wow. Well, we must also assume that I am 6’2″, rich and devastatingly handsome. By just reading this weblog you are incapable of proving me wrong, so therefore it must be true. There, that was easy wasn’t it?

miss, hit

Tuesday, August 17th, 2004

The front page of the Washington Post this morning claims that the USA gymnastics team won their “first fedal [sic]” in 20 years yesterday. Oops. But they make up with it on the caption for a photo in the Michael Jackson court appearance story:

Michael Jackson, flanked by sisters LaToya and Janet, who despite the dark glasses were somehow spotted by celebrity-watchers during a break in yesterday’s pretrial hearing.


Monday, August 16th, 2004

The weekend was over really quickly. I was wiped out on Friday – I’m really enjoying work right now but because I’m doing a fair bit of new stuff it’s taking a bit of a toll, what with having to use my brain in new ways. Fun though. Saturday we went to the garden center to get a few new perennials to fill in a few gaps in the front yard. Toby spent the whole time running around and pushing carts, he loved it, and was asleep less than 2 minutes after we put him in the car to go home, with a cookie in his hand, mid-snack. In the evening we went to see our friends Jim and Mary way out in the burbs for an excellent meal and good company. They served pork with a peach salsa which was a great combination, I’ll have to try that sometime.

Church on Sunday morning, then we were going to go for brunch with everyone, but Toby woke up just as we were getting out of the car at the restaurant so that put paid to that whole idea. Oh well. Then in the afternoon Lauren and Sam were dropped off so that Paul and Claire could go and see a movie and be grown-ups for a little. We had a surprisingly great time – the kids are at a good age for playing with each other, and we all had a lot of fun on the swings and things at the park down the road. Once again the kids were wiped out from playing and dancing and running and Toby fell asleep very quickly once they’d left. He’s started doing a really cute thing when he runs: he hold his arms out behind him, so he’s like SuperToby.

mad experience

Friday, August 13th, 2004

Have you ever had a phone call or a visit from someone in the middle of the night? You’d think that usually it would be bad news – one of my background fears is of being suddenly arrested for a crime I haven’t committed – but occasionally it can be something that’s just plain bizarre. Here’s a story of a man who got a late-night phone call which lead him to end up making pizza for Kim Jong-il.

another letter

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

Hopefully this is the last time that Luis Palau’s name will sully this site, but in the meantime I wrote a rebuttal to the Star Tribune editor’s clearly nonsensical response to other readers who felt the same way as I did. You can check it out on the Letters from readers page. Note that the other anti-Palau-coverage letter (from Judith Anderson) is considerably better written than mine, and the pro-Palau-coverage letter (from Chris Schonning) is banal and second-grade-standard to the point of Bushness.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004


The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates by a quarter percent. My take: this news should not give CNN the right to lead with such a prepostorous graphic:

Ridiculous graphic


Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

Just stumbled across this article in the Washington Post, about parents who use hot sauce, such as Tabasco, on their children’s tongues as a form of discipline/punishment. It notes that Tabasco themselves are somewhat alarmed at this, but it has been a practice in the South for some time, and is spreading around the country. I personally am somewhat alarmed at the fact that the article links Christians with this practice, partly because the suggestion appeared in a Christian parenting magazine a couple of years ago (it’d be interesting to know what denomination the magazine primarily appeals to). The parents who use this method say that it works, they only use it as a last resort, and there appears to be no downside but it makes me very uneasy, and some parenting experts interviewed in the article recommend strongly against it.

So far we haven’t really had to use any discipline on Toby – the biggest behavioral challenges usually are if he throws food around or puts his feet up on the dining table when he’s in his chair at mealtimes, and usually if we speak to him sternly and make it clear that we’re serious, and take actual physical corrective action such as moving his feet or taking away his fork, that seems to be enough. He typically gets the idea and will either scream for just a moment or have a rather downcast, frowny expression. The combination of talk and action seems to be the key so far, and we’ve been reading that saying thinks like “we don’t do that”, or “that’s not the rules” works too, as it means he can’t blame us specifically, and we try to be consistent – he’s never seen either of us throw our food around. However I know that there will be challenges down the road, and it’ll be interesting to see how effective time outs and things prove to be.

cat behavoir

Tuesday, August 10th, 2004

This is an amusing story. It reminds me of when we used to drive from Aberdeen to Ediburgh and back with cats in their baskets in the car. One time Herbie escaped and zoomed around the car for some time. He didn’t cause any safety concerns apart from the fact that he was very interested in the driver’s pedals, so he had to be scooped off the floor a couple of times. I think once he got used to the idea of all the things zooming by out of the windows he quite enjoyed himself.


Monday, August 9th, 2004

Toby’s doing much better after his very mild bout of chicken pox. He never seemed to be feeling particularly bad anyway, and his little pox-marks have all but gone. But Em’s taken today off with him just to be sure that he’s all set. Last night we were out getting things for his room – we’re finally putting up curtains in there to augment his blinds, and to make the room look a bit nicer. We were at Pottery Barn Kids when my dad called to say hi. When I said that Toby had chicken pox I may as well have fired a gun in there, the reaction from the other parents.

Anyway as part of his recuperation, Em’s taken Toby to the zoo today. I just had a phone call from them saying that they’d just been on a camel ride. Apparently he totally loved it. He even said “thank you ammel” and “bye bye ammel” when they were done.

more palau nonsense

Monday, August 9th, 2004

So the Luis Palau Festival thing happened at the State Capitol at the weekend, unsurprisingly with people saying “has the Lord blessed us or what?” because it was sunny, and with Bush campaign staffers visibly in attendance. There was much coverage by the local paper – contrary to them saying that they were “balanced” they were in fact gushing and not at all questioning about any of the ethics or morals of what was going on. Quite pathetic and hypocritical in my opinion.

Also in the opinion of many other people – I had a call from someone at the weekend saying how much she appreciated my letter in the paper, as well as some good comments from the people at church. Then on Saturday morning I had a call from a local news channel asking if I’d be willing to appear on camera to say what I’d said to the paper. I initially said yes, but on thinking about the distinctiveness of my name and how surprised I was that people noticed what I’d said in the paper and subsequently contacted me, I declined. I’m still in two minds about whether I did the right thing – the mindless bigotry (Palau is quoted in the paper as saying how his nephew died of AIDS but he repented before he died so Palau is sure he’s in heaven now – how incredibly repulsive) of these people just bugs me so much and is so far from my understanding of Christianity that I feel maybe I should have said more. Plus my point was in fact more about the Star Tribune’s coverage – they had a gushing six page supplement with no indication whatsoever that it was an advertising supplement. And like all the rest of Palau’s literature they made a big show of the positives (bringing people to god) and nothing whatsoever about the fundamentalist views – not even one person is noted as questioning whether the governor and his cronies should be so openly supporting this.

One other reason for saying no to the TV people was that my viewpoint takes a little bit to explain – I suffer from the usual liberal thing of not having a soundbite opinion. So for example in this festival thing I’m not saying that people should not believe this – it’s a free country after all – but hopefully you can tell why I’m unhappy about the situation. However I was sure that the TV people would take just one or two sentences from what I would say, giving a high chance of an incorrect impression of my views. Still, like I say, I’m still not 100% convinced I did the right thing in not speaking up.