Octavia Butler Dies.

Science fiction writer Octavia Butler died on Saturday at age 58. She was an amazing writer--a real storyteller who could lead you into the worst parts of gender and race without turning pedantic or bitter. She had amazing ideas. I haven't read all her books yet. I can only handle one every five years or so, because they take a long time to move through you, changing ideas in their wake.

Lee comes home from work yesterday and says that he noticed that the elevators are made by a company called "Shindler."

That's right. Shindler's Lifts.

Any suggestions on what I should do to him?
Mirror Mask.

We picked this up the other day. I guess I've come to hold anything that Neil Gaiman does (except comic books) at arm's length. Is it going to be good? Probably not as good as it should be. Will I like it? At least somewhat. That's how I felt here -- not as good as it should be, but I have to say I liked it. It feels like everyone involved has bitten off more than they can chew. It's a grand gesture, but it's not nearly as affecting as, say, Labyrinth, which this is similar to, not by a long, long, long, long, long way. There's intellect in this movie, but not really any love.


Politics or Ethics?

South Dakota's legislators are trying to pass a law to ban abortions.

Is this politics or ethics? I don't mean this as a question of individual people's consciences. I mean as a larger effort, as something that gets signed into a law. Politics or ethics?

Well...I'd say that if this law were driven by ethics, some of the hallmarks we would see would be concern that putting this law into effect wouldn't in inself cause harm, that the negative effects of this law would be counterbalanced in some way, and that perspective and farsighted thinking would be valued.


"Opponents of the bill argued that abortion should at least be allowed in cases involving rape, incest and a threat to a women's health.

'If a woman who is raped becomes pregnant, the rapist would have the same rights to the child as the mother,' said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault."

Nope, nope, and nope. Politics it is. Ethical people don't force agreement; ethical people anticipate the consequences of their actions; ethical people don't see the world in black and white, because they see things from other people's points of view.

Political people push for disagreement and dissent; they make for "us" vs. "them" games. Nobody wants to see dead fetuses. But by passing this law without changing any of the causes that drive women to seek abortions, we're just going to see more of the negative effects that not having abortions brings.

What if you (or your daughter or sister) were raped and got pregnant? What if that person were then forced to marry their rapist, because the rapist didn't want to allow the baby to be adopted and you didn't want your child solely raised by a rapist? What if more babies of drug addicts were born? What if more babies were born that killed their mothers? What if you were born into a family where you weren't wanted? Yah. Twenty years down the road the anti-abortionists are going to be shocked and appalled over the terrible state of education, child abuse, drug use, crime, etc., and they're going to say..."But it's not my fault!"

But it is. Abortion is a bad solution to women who have unwanted pregnancies in a society that looks down on unmarried women who have sex, or at least who get pregnant. But getting rid of what solution exists without coming up with something better means that you're responsible for the consequences.

The ends don't justify the means--that works ways in this situation. The next time you hear about a woman who left her newborn to die in a dumpster, understand where that leads back to, because you fought to end abortion, not to change society to make it a place where all children are welcome, whether or not their mothers wanted them.


The butler did it!

Looking to build secret passageways in your house? Try looking here.

(via BoingBoing.)
Big Damn Parents.

Lee and I were over at Doyce's house to set up an RPG based on Firefly with Jackie, Stan, and Dave when it was decided to start drinking the wine. Lee and Jackie, being the bitter, contentious people they are, don't like anything that doesn't taste like cough medicine, so they opened a bottle of raspberry/grape confectionery called "Booty Call."

"What's it called?"
"'Booty Call.'"
Slowly, everyone in the room catches on to the fact that Ray is chanting the phrase over and over again. "Booty call, booty call, booty call, booty call..."

Considering the other inappropriate phrases she could have picked up on last night, it could have been worse. Ah, well. One of the big truths of parenting that well-adjusted children can be somewhat embarrassing, and you just have to live with it.


Pinyin Dictionary.

Need to translate English in to roman-character Chinese (called pinyin) or vice versa? Try this.


A Terrible Idea.

I just had a terrible idea.

This is Picasso's Guernica. Imagine this as a jigsaw puzzle. Okay, that's been done before, actually. A daunting task, maybe, but not a terrible idea.

Now imagine this as a double-sided puzzle. Yeugh.
Because I won't remember her name otherwise:

The name of the lead singer for Frou Frou is "Imogen Heap" (Irish/Gaelic for "maiden" or maybe Latin for "innocent" althogh I prefer to translate it as De-ish for "creative pile of stuff."). She has a couple of solo albums which sound like they might be even better than "Details" but of course that may take a few thousand rotations to find out.
Remind you of anyone?

(Karen Dotrice as "Jane Banks.")

So I'm watching Mary Poppins with Ray and Lee when I say to myself, "That girl looks familiar...in fact...she looks like what Jackie must have looked like as a kid."

I look at the picture of the girl now, and not so much. But there's something about her when she moves that, when I told Lee, made him laugh out loud.




My body decided today, during lunch, that it was officially spring. My tastes change with the seasons, and I walked out of the building, in 20-degree, blustery, snowy weather looking for fresh vegetables. My ears were listening for chirpy birds, robins and whatnot--

Heard 'em, too.
Days of late.

Valentine's Day: Lee bought me cough drops, the right kind. I felt much better.

Day After Valentine's Day: We played cribbage, and he beat me two games out of three. I haven't played for at least five years, and he's been playing every day over lunch break with the guys at work. It was close all three games, and I loved it.

Today: Lee watched Ray and made supper so I could work on a writing project. I didn't finish it, not even close.

Love is in the details. The details and the sparkle in the eyes.


Buffalo Soldiers.

Today, our diversity council sponsored a presntation by a living-history Buffalo Soldiers group for Black History Month. The Buffalo Soldiers were four infantry and two calvary divisions of the US army formed in 1866. The first Black regular army soldiers (the ones that fought in the Civil War were volunteers), the divisions were sent to the Western frontier to fight in the Indian Wars, since the white folks back East were a little leery of having whole divisions of armed, trained Black men in the area.

The troops built forts; guarded settlers, railroads, and even the Wells Fargo stagecoaches; drove illegal settlers out of Native American territory; and fought against the tribes in the area (although they never participated in any of the infamous massacres). They got their name from some of the tribes in the area--buffalo were the most respected of animals, with immense strength and endurance, and with a similar hairdo. The Buffalo Soldiers were some of the most decorated soldiers in the West, and they had the lowest desertion rate of anyone in the army.

One of the calvary divisions, the 10th Calvary, continues to this day (although not segregated). It was disbanded for a while, but will shortly return to Colorado Springs.

Interesting stuff.


Adventure Quest.

While Lee lived in West Lafayette, IN, he gamed with a guy named Dan Lawrence. Dan created a game system called Adventure Quest. Lee created a character who decided to make a god. The character picked a bum off the street and called him...


See page 310, but only if you're over the age of eighteen, which is also the age requirement to play one of his worshippers. With good reason.



My brother Matt got married to Erica last Saturday. It was good. On the one hand, it was good because nothing went so wrong that it couldn't be fixed. Little things went amiss, causing worry and distraction and tears, but they were soon fixed. I mean, come on. The bridesmaids all wore strapless dresses, and while they all looked good, if that wasn't a disaster waiting to happen, I don't know what would be. On the other hand, it was good because it was good. They got married. It was good.

Erica's speech at the reception started out, "I'd like to thank the people at Cover Girl for making waterproof makeup..." She'd started crying on the way up the aisle, and I think about half the women in the church started crying with her. I did. I got myself back together before I had to stand up and read, and then I almost started crying again during the readings. Silly old girls, I guess.

Ray was one of the flower girls. She and the other girl, Erica's niece Jasmine, were as good as two little giggly girls can be. They walked straight up the middle of the church and stood where they were supposed to, and we didn't even need to bribe them.

I got to see my cousin Heather, her husband Ian, their daughter Xia Mara (which means "Ready for Battle" if I remember it correctly), and Ian's son Elric, who has maraschino cherry-colored hair. I haven't seen her for at least ten years, probably more. It was good to talk to her, even though half the time we had to yell at each other and repeat ourselves. Ian is exactly the sort of man I would have picked out for her, so that's all right, too. And Elric is the kind of adolescent who can take teasing about his name with good humor, which is pretty remarkable.

There are other things I'm not saying, but, all in all, my brother is getting married. I told Mom before I left, "I feel like he's getting really married this time." He's grown into a good man, and it's good to see that he's with someone who will make him laugh and tease him as they grow old.