Thursday, April 28, 2005

Gee, I wonder why there's a controversy

The Virginia state legislature is at it again. They are up in arms over a health fair at George Mason University. To be fair, the fair is poorly named. 'Sextravaganza' is a health fair that is intended to teach students about reproductive health, date rape, contraception and ABSTINENCE. The name of the fair may conjure up different images, but the stated goals carry important messages that college age students should hear. The problem is, they don't have an agenda. They are allowing all sides to present, and that has upset the social conservatives. Are you sure Virginia is not part of the South?

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Government Teat

Yet another story about how the government is offerning handouts to poor working class people. Oh, wait. I forgot. That doesn't happen. This is about writing off $100k SUVs for your "business". Thanks, George.

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Okay, maybe phone cameras aren't stupid

At least a certain chef in England doesn't think so. He was bitten by a large spider that had stowed away in a shipment of food to his pub. Twice. After it bit him, it fell into the freezer, stunning it. He thought it was dead so he took a picture of it with his camera phone because he didn't think his mates would believe him. That's when he started to feel sick. Long story short, the spider was a Brazilian Wandering Spider, one of the most poisonous arachnids in the world. He nearly died because the doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. The sent the picture to a zoo and got the care information they needed to save his life. Moral of the story: If anything bites you, get a picture of it.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Did he just say what I think he said?

Last weekend, we went met up with our friends Laura and her daughter Justice. Justice brought along her friend Mirage. (Don't I know people with the coolest names?) We decided to go out for Mexican food and then take in a comedy show. There's a really good improv group down here called National Comedy Theater". They had a 7:30 show and are very family friendly. Laura has taken Justice many times before. As an added bonus, there was a special event going on as well. The Lifetime Channel, you know, "Television for Women", was going to be there filming something for a documentary they are doing about an engaged couple. The future in-laws have never seen their future son-in-law's stand-up routine, so he is going to be doing it in front of them for the first time. Sweet! Improv AND Stand Up...

I was pretty pumped for a fun evening. Dinner was good. The kids were reasonably well behaved, and the club looked like it was going to have a good crowd. The Lifetime folks were filming some of the people in the front row waiting for things to get started. Then a comic came out and starting doing a routine. He was pretty funny and we thought we were in for a treat. Turns out, he's just the emcee. So, he only did five minutes before explaining what was going on here. He gave a brief run down on what the comic has been doing lately and then asked us to give it up for TK.

I'm not sure why he decided that TK was a good name for a comic. Then I thought to myself, "If you're funny, why do you need a gimmick name?" It didn't take long to get the answer. He came out riffing on a variety of topics and wasn't getting much response. There were chuckles here and there, but not the kind of laughter you expect from a headliner. He asked if anyone was from Boston and we cheered. He did a bit on how "hot the Boston women were". Yeah, I know. Family, show, huh? He continued, "until they open their mouths. Then they all sound like Cliff Clavin from Cheers." Ok, fine, he wanted to do a Cliff Clavin impersonation. Plenty of more clever run-ups to it, but whatever. It got better. He started to talk about this group of hot chicks that came up to him and some of the other comics after a show in Boston and he invited them back to the suite for some beers. Cue the Cliff voice "Yeah. Let me go check back with Diane and Carla and maybe we'll come back to the hotel and suck your c*cks."

Blink. Blink. I turned to Laura because I couldn't have heard what I thought I heard. She looked back at me as we both recognized for certain the term "c*cksucker" coming from the stage. Laura turned to the children with a bright and cheery look on her face and said, "Who wants to go to the concession stand and get popcorn?" I grabbed my kids, she grabbed hers, and we headed for the lobby. My poor wife was left to endure his material to save our seats.

I do have to give the Lifetime folks a little credit, though. The producer met us in the lobby and apologized profusely. She bought popcorn and bottled water for the kids. We could still hear the show from the lobby, so we waited out on the patio and she promised to get us when it was all over. She didn't think it would be more than fifteen minutes.

That said, I don't want to give too much credit. I mean, there are any number of ways that things could have been handled differently. They knew TK's material and they saw us walk in. The theater is not that big. And even if it were, we were sitting in the second row. TK had to have seen us. This was being taped. All he would have had to do is ask them to cut for a minute and warn the people sitting in front of him with the four year old that his material might not be right for them. Failing that, they could have looked at NCT's promotional materials. They specifically say they are a family show. Their gimmick is competitive improv. The emcee is a referee and he calls fouls during the evening. One foul is specifically for off-color material. Hello? You'd think they had read that and realized this was the wrong venue for them.

Hey, wouldn't it be cool if us walking out on his act made it to the show?

We waited outside but it was a little chilly. I had to go back in for the kids' jackets. I was back in for maybe thirty seconds and heard the N-word four times. Here is a rough quote. "When a black guy says ni**a, he's just talking about one of his friend's. 'That's my ni**a!'. When a white guy says ni**a, he's taking inventory."* I left quickly with the jackets, pausing only to apologize to my wife.

Back outside, I saw that we had been joined by the people sitting behind us. The three of them were on a field trip together. The parents of the two early teens had bin on this night out with their teacher during their school fundraiser. Their CHRISTIAN school fundraiser. Yes. The teacher comes to the show regularly and can name most of the performers. So, she assured the parents that it was wholesome. I commended the teacher, both for donating the evening and for walking out on it. We had a very nice chat whilst waiting.

While we were waiting for the interminable fifteen minutes to end, one of the guys from NCT came out to talk to us. He apologized far more profusely and looked miserable. He was clearly upset by this turn of events. He was taking this hit to their reputation very personally. He explained that the home office had set this event up and that nobody bothered to check on the material because it was Lifetime. They figured Lifetime knew what NCT was all about and chose them for that reason.

I told him that it wasn't his fault and that we don't think less of NCT for it. It seemed like an honest disconnect in communications. He apologized again and gave us eight free passes to come back and four to the other group. To me, that was above and beyond the call of duty and I thanked him. He chatted with us for a bit and then the doors opened and we were able to go back in. The improv show kicked serious butt and we had a blast. I'll post about that later.

My wife caught us up on the rest of the material. "It was all pretty much racist. When he wasn't being racist he was actually kind of funny." If only Lifetime had interviewed her like they were interviewing the future in-laws outside. My wife's theory is that they gave him this material on purpose to try for some artificial tension in their reality TV. If this was Fox, I'd agree, but Lifetime? I wish I knew the name of the show, because I am curious enough to watch it, just to see if it was contrived.

So, in conclusion:

National Comedy Theater - Class act. Two thumbs WAYYYYY up!
Lifetime TV for Women - Lukewarm, but needs a new slogan
TK - Stands for Total Kretin. Terrible Komic? Titanic Kotex?

* This quoted shite is the sole property of TK. If I knew his full name, I'd give him the credit he deserves.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Dancing fool

This week's work on "Pajama Game" has been particularly grueling. The rehearsal schedule is pretty much a bear to begin with. We rehearse three hours a night, Sunday through Thursday. If you aren't needed that night, you don't have to come. However, I've only ended up having one night off thus far. I'm not the lead, but I'm a principal. That means the story isn't about me, but I'm a major side character. If this was the Oscars, I guess I'd be a supporting actor. But I digress. The think that made this week such a challenge was that it was all dance rehearsals...

That's right. Two to three hours of dance every night for the last five nights. I've tangoed, soft-shoed, hoe-downed, and done other basic dance moves until my legs were, and are, ready to fall off. But, I am loving it! I'm having so much fun with this I may seriously consider taking a dance class when it is all over. I'm more flexible than I have been in years and I am certainly getting more fit. I not only know what is meant by kick-ball-change or hitch-kick, I can actually execute these moves.

The most fun has been the tango. I'm enjoying that one because I've been told I have a good "upper body carriage". I know how to support the women when doing dips and such. As a result, everyone wants to dance with me. And while I'm not harboring any adulterous thoughts, it feels pretty good when a cute twenty-five year old wants to be your dance partner. I plan to practice tangoing at home with my wife. We are learning the Argentine variety, which apparently is more sensual. Definitely no room for the holy spirit in this dance. A lot of very close contact, dips, and leg hooks. The part that has been hard to do gracefully is the tango drag. That's where the woman hangs in a graceful pose from the man's neck and he does the tango step backward while supporting her weight.Sadly, I won't get to dance the tango in the show. It doesn't fit the plot as I am supposed to be drunk and raving at the bowling alley while this number is going on. :( Regardless, I'm still enjoying learning and helping to teach others.

The rest of my dancing calls for me to be "a cartoon character". They keep telling me to be rubber legs. So, I do a lot of big and silly moves. Dance kicks like Michigan J. Bullfrog in the "Hello my Honey" cartoon. Knee steps. Maybe even a bell kick if I can pull it off. There's even a hoe-down part where I do those high side kicks.

So, what I'm trying to say is, dancing is cool. Go out and do some.

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Elementary school science taking it to the next level

It looks like at least one elementary school is trying to prepare students for science in the real world. Check out this article on fifth graders doing peer reviews on each others' papers.

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Phunny Pharmaceutical Phlogging

This little animation is on the JibJab home page, but they didn't write it and don't necessarily endorse it's point-of-view. B.O.B., don't get too offended by The Drugs I Need. To paraphrase the folks at JibJab, I'm not posting it because I agree or disagree. I'm posting it because it's FUNNY!

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Can you hear me now? Too freakin' bad!

So, Ivan Seidenberg, the CEO of Verizon, is upset. Apparently, we as customers have become too demanding. Apparently, he wishes people would stop with their pie-in-the sky dreams of having a cell phone that works in their house. And Wi-Fi? Don't even think about it! My favorite quote from the article, though, is:

"Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?" he asked. "The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator, they want it to work in the basement."
Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Verizon have their "Can You Hear Me Now?" guy in an elevator during a commercial? Wonder where we needy customers get our ideas?

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My name in lights!

Ok, it's just the internet, but the cast page is finally up for Pajama Game. I expect some photo pages as well before too long. I'll post them as soon as they are available. Rehearsals are going well and I've been getting comments like "you're such a cartoon character". There will definitely be a DVD of the production available. I'm even going to throw in some DVD extras. :)

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Josh's new thing

Well, it's not actually all that new. He's been doing it for a few months now. But before now, it was a kind of self-contained game. Now, it has continuity. The way it works is he tells you that you have a present. It's got imaginary wrapping and is centered around him. You open it up and he holds his hands in front of him like paws and starts barking. Then he says, "You got a dog!" Now, these are special, Scooby-Doo style talking dogs. They don't speak clearly, but they do speak. Usually, he is the same dog, Mimi. Mimi is a boy, by the way. One Saturday, he was twenty or so different dogs, each with their own names. Maya and I were out, so Mom got that special treat. I usually just get Mimi. Yesterday, we added Remo to my dog collection.

Now, the reason I say he has added continuity is that sometimes Mimi goes places and Josh tells me that he misses him. Then we play an elaborate game that involves Mimi's return. The part of the game to watch out for is when he licks you!

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

I wish SHE was in Dixie...

For those of you who missed it, a while back, I posted a story about a co-worker of mine. I dubbed her Karma so as to protect the innocent. Or the guilty. Oh, heck. I just didn't want her to find it. At any rate, I have managed to accumulate several more in the time I have been here. Bear in mind, she is from Texas and has a slight twang. In the last story, I had ingratiated myself to the point of being her confidante. Well, thanks largely to my intolerance of stupidity, I have alienated myself out of that role. I think the turning point was when I called her ignorant and arrogant. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Read on for a story that ranges all over the map. It's a long story as this was a long argument. You will learn of the interconnectedness of:

  • Racism
  • Dictionaries
  • Sexism
  • Southern Baptists
  • Swastikas
  • Texas
  • And More!

Several nights last quarter, I had to come to work after hours to get work done. I had been coming in after hours so that I could have access to the laser. Karma's work was deemed higher priority, but I still had deadlines to meet. Solution? I worked when noone was there. Karma was wrapping up her usage of the laser while I waited patiently. After I took over, she decided to strike up a conversation instead of going home. For some reason, the topic of racism arose. In retrospect, I realize that she was probably trying to waste my time so I wouldn't complete my work, but at the time I was tired and distracted and took the bait like a shark on chum.

So, racism was the topic at hand and I made what I thought was a fairly safe statement. "Racism is more prevalent in the South than the North." This offended her greatly. Apparently, I had a lot of nerve spouting what passes for conventional wisdom these days. "How can you say that?" I thought for only a second and then said, "Because it's true?"

She refused to be swayed by my clever retort and pointed out, "The North is far more racist than the South." Ooooooh, look! A bloody chunk of fish! "And what is your basis for that statement?" Her well reasoned response? "The only times I have ever seen racism first hand were in the North. "

"And what racism did you see there?"

"Well, one time, I was in Chicago with a guy I was dating. And a friend of his came up. They saw a black guy and said 'We should go beat up that ni**er.' We were just standing on a street corner." I tried not to be amused over the fact that she whispered "black guy".

"Ok. So you dated a racist in Chicago. That's one."

"Well, I broke up with him after that!"

"Ok. Sure. Whatever. What else have you got?"

"I mean. I'm not going to date someone like that."

"Uh-huh. Fine. What other racism was there?"

"One time, I was in New Yourk with this *Indian Guy*", the racial identifier was whispered again, "And we went over and got in line in this food court in the mall. Well, there was a *black guy* there in a wheel chair and he was kind of near the line, but we didn't think he was IN the line. So, we went by him. So, then he wheels right up to me and starts cussing me out for cutting him in line."

"Was he using racial slurs?"

"Well, no. But he went up to me and ignored my friend."

"How is that racism?"

"I'm white and my friend is Indian."

"But Indian and black aren't the same thing. They are different races."

"But he's a minority. The *black guy* wouldn't have anything against him."

"Because all those minorities have to stick together."

"No, no. You know what I'm saying."

"Not really. I am having a hard time seeing the racism in that example. The guy sounds more crazy to me than anything else."

"Then why did he come right to me and ignore my friend?"

"You're short? You're a woman? You're short AND a woman? Maybe he perceived you as easier prey. Sorry. I don't see that as racism. What else you got?"

She started to get a bit angry now. "It WAS racism. I KNOW." She probably concluded this from her vast experience with racism. After all, she had seen racism twice. Counting the questionable time. She trotted out a third dubious example as well. I scoffed a little, further raising her hackles. "Well, how much racism have YOU seen?"

"Me, persoanlly? Not much. But I didn't spend much time in the South. And personal experiences are generally not as reliable as a controlled study."

"So, if you've never seen it, how do you KNOW it's prevalent in the South?"

"I've never seen gravity, but I know it makes things fall. How do I know that? I read. I study. I pay attention to events in the world around me."

"Ok. Give me one example of racism in the South?"

"You mean besides slavery?"

"I mean current stuff. I'm not interested in the past. I'm just talking about the current culture of the South."

"Ok. Fine. What about the Confedrate Flag? That's still flown proudly on government buildings down there."

"I knew you were going to bring that up. The Confederate Flag is not racist."

"Really? Then what is it?"

"It's a symbol of pride. We're proud to be from Texas."

"So, wave the Texas flag."

"Well, we do THAT as a symbol of Texas pride. But we're also proud to be part of something bigger. We're proud to be part of The South."

"I'm fuzzy on history. Was Texas part of the Confederacy?"

"It's got nothing to do with the Confederacy! It's about Southern unity and pride!"

"Yeah. Unity on the issue of owning slaves."

"That's ancient history. We're talking about the present."

"Well, at the present, the NAACP and african american community in general view the flag as a divisive symbol of hate and slavery."

"Well, they're wrong. I know people who have the Confederate Flag hanging on their wall, and they don't feel superior to other races."

"That doesn't mean it's not a symbol of racism."

"Sure it does. You can't have racism without a feeling of superiority."

"Sure you can. Racism can just be a hatred of someone for being a different color."

"No. That's prejudice. Prejudice is always a PART of racism. But you can't be a racist unless you feel superior to other races."

"Yes you can. Look at the word. Race-ism. Basically 'defined by race'."

"That's not the definition of racism."

"So, hating minorities for coming here and taking away jobs, even though they are low wage jobs is not racism? Hating someone simply because they are Hispanic, regardless of whether you feel Hispanics are inferior is not racism?!?"

"No. I told you. That's just prejudice."

"Sorry to burst your bubble, but the definition of racism is prejudice based on race."

"Based on SUPERIORITY to another race. Look it up! Go to"


A few mouse clicks and keystrokes later, we arrived at And both of our definitions for racism were there. "See," I said, "both definitions are valid."

"Well, that's just THAT dictionary."

Before she could go further I had typed in This time there were two references. One for WordNet and one for the AmericanHeritage dictionary. Once again, both definitions were there. "Satisfied?"

"Well, my definition is MORE valid," she persisited. "You have to take into account the history of the word. And the word racism was coined in response to slavery. And slavery was based on feelings of superiority."

"I thought we were dealing with the present and not history."

"Well, for a word, you need to understand where it came from. Besides, I've never heard that definition before."

"Congratulations! You learned something new today."

"The word racism originated as a result of the feeling of superiority that whites felt over blacks. That's why they didn't think it was wrong to own them as slaves. So, racism can't exist without a feeling of superiority."

"What about Nazi Germany? The Jews were targeted by Hitler not because he felt he was superior to them, but because they were so prosperous when the average German was not. He needed a scapegoat so he chose a successful minority. He and his brain trust later whipped the populace into a frenzy over the Master Race. But the basis of his racism was that there was not enough prosperity to go around and he wanted it for his race."

"Look. It's not racist, ok? My brother has the flag on his wall and he isn't a racist. He has no ill feelings toward anyone of another race."

"Look. Just because he doesn't believe it is a symbol of racism doesn't mean it isn't one. Let's take the swastika as an example. It was originally a symbol of good luck. Then the nazis coopted it. Now, it is synonymous with naziism. Sometimes, a symbol takes on a meaning so strong, that it will always be associated with that symbol. That's the case with the flag. It was a symbol of the Southern states' secession over a number of issues, including slavery. If it is viewed as a symbol of Southern unity, then it will always be viewed in the context of unity under a racist ideal. No matter what your intention, you cannot divorce the symbol from that meaning."

"That's not the same thing at all!"

"How is it not the same?"

Karma paused, and then began speaking as if to an idiot child. "Sometimes," she said in a kind of sing-song way, "a symbol EVOLVES over time."

"I can buy that, if the symbol does not have such emotionally charged meaning in the first place. And maybe in a thousand years, the meaning will be different, but not right now. Right now, it's still a symbol of slavery and racism."

"No it isn't! It can't be if the person using the symbol doesn't have racist feelings in their heart."

"Look. If a person feels hurt by something, it's their perspective that counts. If you said something that was hurtful to a person, you don't tell them it's their own fault. You try to understand the hurt and try not to say or do whatever it was again. "

"But nobody feels hurt by it."

"I beg your pardon?"

"The only people complaining about the flag are Northerners and Californians butting in on other people's business."

"What about the NAACP? The majority of South Carolina?"

"I haven't heard any *black people* complain about it. And we have friends who are *black people*."

"Why do you keep whispering whenever you mention someone's race?"

"You have to here in California. Everyone's too PC. You can get in trouble." She then related a story where she got in trouble at a previous job for referring to a fellow coworker as 'that Asian girl'. I marveled that all she got out of the rebuke was that it's not okay to mention a race at all. It couldn't be possible that she was scolded because referring to an individual in that way when there were many other descriptive terms available is offensive? And that discussing a racial group in a non-derogatory context is fine. Before I could point any of this out, she continued onward. "Anyway, that's not the point. We are very close friends with a *black family*. They are over our house and we are over theirs all the time. They've never complained about it."

"Maybe they are just being polite."

"No! Why would they invite us into their lives if it bothered them? We are like members of the family to them and vice-versa. Clearly we can't be racist."

Now, at this point. I should have cut my losses, but I was too caught up in the heat of the discussion. I could have said something like "Well. They probably know you and feel comfortable around you. They know what's in your heart." Then I could have segued nicely into a point about people who didn't know them and knew only the symbol. But I was too fired up and missed the window. The direction I took pretty much closed the window, in fact.

"Or maybe you are too close to the situation to notice. Or maybe they are just used to the insensitivity and try not to let it bother them."

"WHAT?!? You're insane."

"Why? For suggesting that you may be too close to a situation to see it clearly?"

"You think that you know more about what's going on in the south than I do when you've never spent a day in the South!"

"I've spent time in Virginia."

"That's not the South. They just think they are part of the South."

"They're below the Mason-Dixon line..."

"It takes more than that to be part of the South."

"Like Karma's approval", I thought to myself. "Look," I said, "If you want to share personal stories of racism, I do have one. It's from rural Virginia. They talk with southern accents there. They were part of the Confederacy. It's generally regarded as the South."

"You think that YOU know more about racsim in the South than I do?"

"After this conversation? Yes. Yes, I do."

"You're crazy! I've lived my whole life in the South. I've traveled all over the South. I even traveled with a *black guy*. We went to big cities and small towns. And we never once encountered racism."

"Well. If YOU never saw it, then clearly it must not be there."

"Come on. If racism was so prevalent in the South, something would have happened to us. Someone, somewhere would have commented. I mean, a *black* guy with a *white* girl? Come on."

"So, the intimidation of black voters at the polls..."

"That's blown out of proportion by you folks in the North."

"And the 80,000 minorities who were disenfranchised in Florida by being 'mistakenly' removed from the voter rolls as felons?"

"I never heard of that happening."

"That was a HUGE story in the last election. How did you miss that?"

"Whatever. You think I don't know what racism is? They drill it into us all through school in the South."

"My wife studied racism as well. She took a lot of courses on the subject in college. And she experienced racism first hand in Virginia."

"Book knowledge does not compare to actually living there and seeing the people every day."

"What about her first hand experience?"

"I told you, Virginia is not part of the South."

"Ok. So on your map, Virginia is not part of the South. Fine. That still doesn't really resolve the Confederate flag issue. Nor do your travels with a black person"



"Don't say *black person* out loud."

"I'm not worried."

"*Beverly is still here*." She pointed to the cube diagonally opposite as she whispered. Beverly is black.

"I'm not saying anything that would offend her."

"Trust me. You haven't been in California long enough."

It's more likely that she didn't want Beverly to think she was racist, as she was the one defedning the Stars and Bars. "Whatever. Anyway, I still haven't heard a satisfactory answer to the flag."

"I gave you one," she said in a condescending tone. "Symbols evolve. Remember?"

"Yes, but I refuted that by pointing out that some symbols cannot shake their inflammatory meaning. At least not over this short a time period."

"I know you did. But I don't agree with you."

"So, if an employee here wants to hang up a swastika for good luck, you're okay with that?"

"That's not the same thing!"

"Why not?"

"You can't compare what Hitler did decades ago to what is going on now in the South."

"I'm not. I'm comparing the use of a symbol that has had more than one meaning to the use of another symbol that you claim has more than one meaning."

"Hitler was a serial killer. The Confedrates weren't serial killers."

"I'm not talking about...what?!?"

"Hitler was a serial killer. You can't compare what he did to the South."

"Hitler wasn't a serial killer. He was a charismatic and manipulative megalomaniac."

"He killed millions of people. How can you say he's not a serial killer?"

"Let's go back to the dictionary, shall we? 'Someone who murders more than three victims one at a time in a relatively short interval'."



"He murdered millions a few at a time over a number of years."

"That's really not the same thing. First, he didn't actually do the killing himself. He had others do it. Secondly, serial killers tend to have an M.O. or pattern. Third, they try to avoid being caught. Hitler created a national policy and got people to go along with it because he was smart and charismatic."

"Serial killers usually are smart people."

"I know that. That doesn't mean that because he was smart and was responsible for the deaths of millions that he was a serial killer."

"He was insane."


"Everyone knows that. Serial killers are insane."

"But he wasn't a serial killer. He may have had some megalomania, but I don't think he was insane. Not in the sense you are suggesting anyway.He was a smart, calculating man. You could even argue immoral, but I don't think he was insane."

"He was nuts! All this master race stuff? And killing all those people."

"I think you want to believe he was insane because you don't want to believe that a sane person could do what he did. It's safer to think that only crazy people do that. We're getting off track again, though. My point has nothing to do with whether or not anyone was a serial killer. My point is that the swastika is seen as a symbol of racism and hatred because it was the symbol of the nazis. The Confederate flag is seen as a symbol of racism because the Confedrates were a government formed on the principle that owning slaves was okay. Both symbols are too strongly tied to those meanings to change them any time soon."

"Nobody in the South believes in slavery anymore."

"Dunno if I agree with that..."

"They don't!"


"So, the flag can't symbolize that any more."

I was beyond frustrated. I heaved a heavy sigh. "But just because nobody believes that now doesn't mean the symbol doesn't represent that! If a large percentage of the population believes a symbol represents racism and that position is well known, then displaying that symbol and saying it is not racist is one of three things. It's either racist, ignorant, or arrogant."

"YOU'RE ignorant and arrogant. And insane!"

"Give me another possibility. I'm willing to listen."

"No you aren't. You care more about being right than you do about having a real discussion."

"No. I care more about sharing and discussing ideas. And I've already explained how I arrived at my conclusion. You haven't given me any reason to change my point of view. The person is either a racist, too arrogant to care that what they are doing is hurtful, or ignorant of the fact that people see it as a symbol of racism. Racist, ignorant, or arrogant."

"Oh, THAT'S right. Because BRIAN can only see three possibilities, there can't possibly be any more."

"No. There can be. I just haven't heard them."

"You haven't listened to a word I said."

"Sure I have. I just haven't agreed with it."

"I've been telling you that it's about unity and what people feel."

"And I told you that if people are offended and you choose to ignore that, you are ignorant or arrogant. Or ignorant and arrogant. I didn't say that people do feel racist or that they weren't trying to be united. I merely pointed out that there were less hurtful ways of showing unity."

"You people in the North really need to get over yourselves. You're always stirring up trouble."

"Why? Because we agree with the people who are being hurt?"

"No. Because you fight cause for other people whether they want you to or not. The southern blacks weren't complaining about the flag. You just imported a bunch of people to get upset about it."

"Most minority oppression causes didn't get anywhere until an outside group came along to help. Civil rights didn't get too far until whites and blacks were working side by side to do something about it. Women's rights didn't take off until men start woring side by side with the women to push it through."

"Oh, don't give me women's rights. Y'all are a bunch of chauvinists up there and here in California."

"More chauvinistic than the South?"

"Please! They treat women with respect and dignity in the South. Not like the pushy rude people in the North."

"We're pushy and rude to EVERYONE in the North. It's not bias. It's equal opportunity."

"All I know is that I've experienced more chauvinism in the North than in the South."

"What about the Southern Baptists?"

"They're a religion! They are not representative of Southern culture."

"And they are called Southern Baptists because?"

"All Baptists are like them. They all have specially defined gender roles. That whole 'Man is the head of the house' is blown way out of proportion."

"So, Southern Baptists are just another branch of the World Baptists? And all Baptists think women should be subservient to men?"

"Well, they are all part of the same organization, but that's not what they believe. The press in the North blew some comments out of proportion."

"Ah. It's the North's fault again."

"I have friends who are Baptists. One of them is here in California. She says that her husband makes the final decision on matters, but with considerable input from her. So, it's not that the men control the women. They just need someone to make the final decision and decided that it was supposed to be the man."

"Which has nothing to do with Southern culture."


"And the reason that the ones who get all the bad press are the Southern Baptists is because of the Northern media trying to cause trouble."

"Which still has us off track on this whole racism, flag thing."

"You still maintain that you know what's going on better in the South than someone who has lived there?"

"Than someone who is blinded by her association and proximity to the subject, yes."

"You're insane."

"Well, you're ignorant and arrogant. At least insanity can be helped by drugs."

The conversation devolved from there. I walked away and she followed. I kept walking and told her she'd have to chase me all the way to the lab if she wanted to continue this talk because I had work to do. Thankfully, she didn't follow me.

I felt badly about this the next day as I am supposed to be working hard at getting along with her. Or rather, we are supposed to be working hard at getting along with each other. That seems to consist of me putting up with her crap and being her pla all the while. Still, I wanted to keep the work environment as positive as possible, so I called her on my cell on the way in to work to apologize.

"Hey. I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry about last night. I think the discussion got away from both of us and we got caught in the heat of the moment. I don't think you're ignorant and arrogant." I did think she was both of those things, not to mention a touch mentally unstable, but I was trying to patch things up.

"Well," she said, "I think it's just because we have different goals. I want to get you to see reason and you just want to prove you're smarter than everyone else."

Proving I had learned nothing from the night before, I took the bait. "No. That's not true. We both want to try to get the other person to see our point of view. It's just that neither of us had an approach that worked on the other."

She hemmed and hawed, neither articulating a stance or indicating that the conversation was over.

"It doesn't sound as though I'm forgiven," I said.

"Well. It's not all that easy to forgive those statements."

"You said some harsh things to me, and I've put it behind me."

"Yeah...I guess..."

"Look. I can't make you forgive me, but I am sincerely sorry." I was. Not for calling her names. I was sincerely sorry for having the whole conversation in the first place. " I just called to apologize, and I've done that. What you do with it is up to you."

Right around then, I drove under some power lines and the call got cut off. I didn't call back. When I got to work, she accused me of hanging up on her. I explained the situation and told her it didn't make sense to call back as I was almost at work. I don't think she bought it, but I no longer care.

If you read this all the way to the end, thank you. It was a cathartic thing to write. I don't think it was meant to serve any entertainment purpose. Although she WOULD make an excellent character in a play or story. And for that, I am glad to have had dealings with her.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Let them eat bombs

My friend Jocelyn pointed me to this story in The Guardian. It is written by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, but is not especially funny. It's got some dark humor, but he is commenting on the situation of children in Iraq as a direct result of U.S. and British "aid". It's definitely a good read and deserves a wide audience.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

A Brand New Paranoid Delusion

I found this via Fark. Normally, I don't pass these along as most of the people interested check Fark regularly, but this article about Harry Potter surprised me. We've all seen the tired old "The goal of the Potter book is to recruit kids to Satanism". We've also seen the countering "No. No. No. It's just well written escapist fantasy." According to the author of the linked article, when you are given only two choices, "it always means there’s a third, or more, that they’re not telling you about". The truth is out there, you might say...

The article uses the basic principles of extra dimensions from theoretical physics to explain why the occult is real. In physics, the extra dimensions refer to the dimensions used in string theory equations that go beyond length, width, height, and time. The author takes those concepts and other "overwhelming evidence" to explain that the Potter series is a primer on the 4th dimension and its evil, controlling inhabitants.

One of the examples is the symbolism of all the numberology used in the books. There is a litany of references to the numbers 3, 7, 11, 13, and 21 as recurring and significant. Kind of reminds me of the Bible Code. What about the number 4? As in 4 Privet drive. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs were a gang of *gasp* 4! Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw make one...two...three...four! Four houses! What is Rowling trying to say here? Oh wait, four does not have special occult meaning. Disregard all THAT symbolism.

There is much more entertainment to be gleaned here. My favorite is in the further reference section. Just in case you need to learn more about the basis behind this 4d stuff. Apparently, a good resource is the book "The Illuminati Formula For Creating a Totally Undetectable Mind Control Slave". I wonder if it involves orbital lasers?

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Maya's next challenge

Maya has had another audition for children's theater. This one was with Arts Off Broadway, here in Escondido. (That link wasn't working for me in Firefox. You may have to IE it.) AOB is kind of a teaching theater for kids. You pay to participate and everyone who auditions gets cast. However, it is a true audition in that they don't make special roles to try to give everyone a speaking part. If you do not land a named role, you end up in the company. While that can be disappointing, the kids in the company still do get coached on singing, dancing, and acting during the rehearsal process. So, all the children learn and grow. And you have to pay your tuition before you are cast, to prevent kids from dropping out if they don't like their part.

The show she went out for was Annie. She didn't want to be Annie. This is only her second REAL show. So, she wanted to work her way up. She wanted the role of Molly, the littlest orphan. For those who know the show, she is the one who mimics Ms. Hannigan in "It's a Hard Knock Life". If this was a regular cast, with adults playing the adult roles, she might have had a shot at it. But for a cast where the ages range from five to eighteen, she was deemed a little old. :)

Her audition was about ten minutes. She had to go in without Lynnea. She sang a Winnie the Pooh song, though not one that she sang when she was in the show. So, she did have to do a bit of work for the audition. She wasn't sure what to expect from there. The casting team consulted and handed her a card. It was an invite to call backs on Saturday from one to five pm! Woo-hoo!

So, she went to her callback and had to do a lot of reading and some singing and dancing. She had a good time and was told that the cast list would be posted Sunday night. They were going to double cast most of the roles to maximize the experience for all the kids. Eighty kids tried out, so they wanted to spread things around as much as possible.

The results are in. For two performances, she will be in the Servant Ensemble. That means, she will have to learn "I think I'm gonna like it here" and the corresponding dance. And for the other two performances, she will be Kate! Kate is one of five named orphans who have dialog with Annie. So, she will likely have some lines as well as some featured work in "Hard Knock Life" and "Never Fully Dressed - Orphan Reprise". I believe she gets to be a miniature Boylan Sister. We are quite excited and proud of her, as you can well imagine. Some kids were only cast as Orphan Ensemble or Company. So, we told her it was a big honor to get cast as she did.

She will be Kate on the last weekend in July. If you're in the area, come see!

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

The language barrier

An interesting side effect of living in a largely Hispanic region is that there is a subset of the population that only speaks Spanish. These people often end up as low wage employees doing menial tasks. This isn't that big of a problem for most places of business as there are more than enough bilingual people to act as translators in both directions. So, they are given tasks that generally keep them out of contact with the clientele like night cleaning staff or washing dishes. Occasionally, they are in positions where they might have to interact with people they will not understand. I've found this to be problematic, but amusing, at restaraunts with salad bars.

Last night, we went to Sizzler for a quick and easy meal. My wife and I each got the salad bar. One of my favorite things from the salad bar is the fresh, warm rolls. So, I grabbed one with the tongs and found it to be surprisingly unyielding. It appeared to be a little less fresh than usual. How long does a roll have to sit in one of those closed warming dishes to dry out to its center from one side?

I talked to the first person I could find about the issue. She was restocking the chicken wings. She smiled at me as I started to talk and nodded. Then she turned back to the chicken. I hadn't finished talking, mind you. I continued to relate my tale. "The rolls," I said, "are all dry and stale." I pointed toward that end of the salad bar for emphasis. "I hate to be a pain, but could you get some fresh ones?" She turned back to me with a look of concern on her face. The concern was not for the stale bread. It was concern over the fact that I was still talking. She realized I wanted something and guided me over to someone who spoke English.

"What can I do for you, hon?" she asked me in a very motherly tone. I explained the problem while the other woman returned to her restocking. I had come to the right place. "I'll take care of it for you." Satisfied, I went to get some chicken wings while I waited. She followed me over there. Apparently, chicken wing was going to be assigned the task. Excellent, I thought. I'll pick up a bit more Spanish.

Mom addressed chicken wing. "The rolls." she said slowly. "We need more of them. Those are no good." Chicken wing looked at her with a puzzled expression. I rolled my eyes and walked away.

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We interrupt this lack of posting...

First off, I want to apologize for the dearth of posts of late. Stick with me. I'm not hanging it up. Rehearsals for Pajama Game have been pretty intense thus far. Myday is basically as follows. Get up at 6:15. Get ready for work and get there by 7:30-ish. Work until 4:30-ish eating lunch at my desk. Race home to do whatever needs my attention, eat dinner, and give the kids a little attention. Get to rehearsal for 6:45. Rehearse until 9:30 or 10:00. Go home and help Lynnea with whatever tasks she has for me. Give Lynnea a little attention. Decompress and sleep by 11:15! Whew!

And rehearsal is Sunday through Thursday. But I am loving it. It wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that I had volunteered to help a friend at the Escondido Ren Faire. She is shorthanded at her booth, so I am a fill-in sales person. Maya is helping, too. So, I get to spend a bit of time with her. But that was all day last Saturday and Sunday and will be all day this Saturday and Sunday as well. So, as you can see, there aren't many blogging opportunities. I'll do what I can.

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Get me one while you're at it...

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I believe this genius is protesting war protesters. And look, he's a Cardinals fan, too. ;)

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Monday, April 04, 2005

A Pirate Tale

Here's a little Pirate story I picked up over the weekend at Escondido Faire. Reading it in a pirate voice adds to the effect.

There we were, three against a thousand. We'd come about. We gave 'em a full broadside. We came about again. We gave 'em another full broadside. We brought the swivel guns and the small arms to bear. The ships crashed together. It was to come down to hand-to-hand combat. Three against a thousand. The battle raged for hours. Finally, we got the three sons of bitches!

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