We Made Wikipedia!

I saw this on the front page of Wikipedia.  A proud moment for Tennessee.  My two favorite parts?

Thomas J. FitzGerald, the director of the environmental group Kentucky Resources Council and an expert on coal waste, told The New York Times that the ash should have been buried in lined landfills to prevent toxins leaching into the soil and groundwater (as recommended in a 2006 EPA report), and stated that “I find it difficult to comprehend that the State of Tennessee would have approved that as a permanent disposal site.”

and

The power plant continues to operate, with waste being sent to one of the two remaining intact containment ponds.

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh to keep from crying.

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Warren et al

I’ve been trying for a long time to come up with a good post on my ever-evolving thoughts on Warren and I just can’t help but still feel that what is happening right now is exactly right.  People should be pissed off.  They should be vocally pissed off.

But I’m not convinced that that means Warren’s invitation should be rescinded.

In the long term, what’s going to be best for all of America is for people like Warren to get their heads out of their butts.  And I don’t think that isolating him helps remove butts from heads.  It just reaffirms their sense of martyrdom and persecution.

What we need to have happen is that we need people to see that, even though they believe themselves to be good people, they do stuff that really hurts people.  In the past, those “good” people have been sheltered from that knowledge because gay people stayed in the closet or they fled to the cities or they were otherwise invisible to those good people.  So, deciding that opposing stuff that really hurts gay people is easier than it should be for “good” people, because they don’t have to face the repercussions of their actions.  Gay people are just not on their radar.

And now!  Now, if perchance some good person does start to get a little nervous or weirded out about how gay people are treated, well, the answer is not for you to worry about the deep and vile hypocrisy of your church or its leaders preaching love but advancing pain and suffering; it’s for the gay people to go to treatment and get “de-gayed.”

Just think about this.  Someone is causing you pain and suffering.  You do all you can to avoid them.  You don’t go to their church.  You move out of their town.  You don’t make too big a deal about yourself so as to try to escape their notice.  And yet… and yet they still do what they can to hurt you.  And their answer is “Just change and I’ll stop hurting you.”

Let me say that again–“Just change and I’ll stop hurting you.”

That’s the “Christian” message towards gay people.  Simple as that; that’s what it boils down to.  Oh, sure, they have a million excuses and justifications for why it’s okay, nay practically their duty to hurt gay people who won’t change.  But, in the end, it boils down to “You’re making me hurt you.”

And folks, it doesn’t take a genius to see that for the abusive nonsense it is.

If you hurt people who have not hurt you, you are doing wrong.

They gay community has been in a tough spot because of this “you’re making me hurt you” nonsense.  On the one hand, sometimes you can stop that kind of nonsense by swinging back a couple of times.  But sometimes fighting back will get you killed.  Sometimes it seems like leaving those kinds of jackasses behind is the safest response, but what if they come after you?

So, there’s no one right response for the gay community to have.

But it is on all people of good-will to demand an end to blaming gays for the troubles certain streaks of Christians cause them.  And part of the way to do that is to call out Warren and the Mormons and their ilk publicly.

And if they aren’t in the public eye, how do we do that?

What GoldenI Said

Go read.

That was my opinion, too, that both candidates left me feeling like, “Oh, okay, good.  Whoever gets this position seems to understand the magnitude of the problem and has some ideas for how to solve them.”  Mack’s right that Forrester seemed a little more platitudy than Bone, but the man was on vacation and on speakerphone and so I cut him some slack.

But yeah, I do feel good about both candidates.

So, I went from an uninformed “whatever” to an informed “whichever.”

We were talking some, too, about the… genius… and I use that word reluctantly… of what the TNGOP does.  About how they made a commitment to have someone who would get out there and pound their message and keep their base informed.  I was joking yesterday about how every dumbass thing that goes on in the country seems to have some tie to some Tennessee Republican.

But then I’ve been thinking about whether it’s a certain kind of branding.  If the Republican party is going to be more and more a Southern, religious, conservative party and if someone in the TNGOP doesn’t see that trend reversing, and if that person looks out over the political landscape and sees how strong the base is here in Tennessee, why not have a Tennessee Republican attached to every dumbass thing the Republicans do?

The Republican base doesn’t think those things are dumbass, for one, so it doesn’t hurt the dumbass-thing doer with the base.  In fact, it makes him or her more popular.  And second, I’m sure hearing “Tennessee Republican…”  “The Republican from Tennessee…” over and over and over again creates a sense that there’s a core group of Republican leaders in Tennessee.

And that’s obviously good for Tennessee Republicans.

But here’s my last point.  Early on in the evening someone mentioned, “I heard about the TVA disaster on CNN, just like all of you,” and I blurted out, “But we didn’t hear about it on CNN a week after it happened.  We heard about it on the internet right away.”

And I thought and think right now that, Jesus Christ, if a disaster of that magnitude can happen in our state and our elected officials have to hear about it on CNN?

I just don’t know.

I’m naive I guess, but I assume that when there’s a major catastrophe, an unprecidented disaster that has implications for every place in the state with similar holding ponds, that there’s somebody somewhere who’s job it is to alert our state leaders that it’s happened.

Two Things that Delight Me, Okay, Three

1.  There’s a Jerry Orbach way in NYC!  Is it wrong that I hope his ghost slouches along Jerry Orbach Way making witty quips and pretending to solve crimes?

2.  I was in a bathroom last night that smelled just like the Hustler store.  I even tried to figure out what in the bathroom smelled like the Hustler store.  But I couldn’t locate the source of the smell.  I don’t think it was me.  I haven’t been to the Hustler store in ages.  But you never know.

3.  So, Christian Grantham is on the phone in the elevator all “Yes, I’m on my way home now.  No, no one stabbed me in the eye with her pencil.  Oh, I know.  I was shocked too.  I’ll just get some dinner when I get home.  Love you.” and half the elevator went “Awwwww…” and Christian was all embarrassed and it tickled me.

On a Side Note

The only name that could possibly be more Illinois than “Roland Burris” is “Orion Samuelson.”  (pronounced, for those of you not from Illinois as Or-eee-on, not O-rye-en.)

Edited to add: I wonder if you could make a general rule about good Midwestern names–like one part vaguely literary or historical figure, one part seed brand, and one part Scandinavian/Polish.  Like, my name almost works because I’ve got the whole “Flag-maker” first name, the Scandinavian middle name, and a brand of gas for the last.  But, if I were really going to be midwestern, I would for sure change my last name to Burris.  Or Yoder.  Which I guess is neither Scandinavian or Polish.  But I like saying it.  Yoder, Yoder, Yoder, Yoder.

Yep, you’re for sure in the midwest when the Yoders are bringing you sweet corn.

Good Enough

So, I finally finished the Sports Illustrated story on the Vick dogs and I sobbed the whole way through it.  And I swear I’m not going to turn this blog into all anti-PETA all the time, but I’m struck by this part at the end–

Still, it’s Jasmine, lying in her kennel, who embodies the question at the heart of the Vick dogs’ story. Was it worth the time and effort to save these 47 dogs when millions languish in shelters? Charmers such as Zippy and Leo and Jonny Justice seem to provide the obvious answer, but even for these dogs any incidence of aggression, provoked or not, will play only one way in the headlines. It’s a lifelong sentence to a very short leash. PETA’s position is unchanged. “Some [of the dogs] will end up with something resembling a normal life,” Shannon says, “but the chances are very slim, and it’s not a good risk to take.”

–and to that, I say, “Fuck you, PETA.”  Why, if the people taking those risks are fully informed about them and take them on willingly, is it not a good risk to take?  Who, in fact, is to say what a “normal life” is like and who is to say that having a normal life is the only good life for a dog?

Plus, let’s talk about the 47 v. millions argument.  If Vick’s dogs had not come along, it’s not like all the money and time expended on those dogs would have gone to other, I guess, more deserving dogs.  The money and time and homes came available for those dogs and it seems utterly vile and reprehensible to suggest that, because those dogs aren’t the right kind and because their lives aren’t going to be good enough to meet PETA’s standards, they shouldn’t be able to benefit.

I normally hate conflating animal rights with human rights, because it leads to jackassery like PETA degrading and exploiting the suffering of humans in order to try to improve the lives of animals, and I say that up-front because I am about to conflate animal rights with human rights a little bit and it may turn out to be just as wrong-headed and vile, but this morning I read Michael Bérubé’s post about his discussion with Peter Singer and Singer’s nonsense about how people who have babies with Down Syndrome must come to accept that their children will just never have real rich and rewarding lives like, you know, normal people.

And I’m sitting here wondering if there’s some gross strain of animal rights thought that is hung up on privileging normalcy.  I don’t know what to make of that.

I know that, as a practical matter, every being–person or animal–cannot get the time, attention, money, and care that he or she deserves.  And it is true that there are going to be beings that get time and attention and money and care while other beings don’t.  And it is even true that it will seem (and often be true) that there are beings who get all that stuff when there are others who seem to or actually deserve it more.  In face, that stuff may have gone to the being who’s gotten it at the expense of other beings.

But often beings get time, attention, money, and care that would otherwise not exist.  Suggesting that it’s wrong to give it to the Vick dogs seems to me to overlook the fact that it’s not like that stuff would otherwise go to other dogs.  So, if people want to give them that stuff, why shouldn’t the dogs benefit?  Life isn’t fair.  They got lucky, in every sense of the word.  But so did the people who open up their hearts to those dogs.

And that seems true to me with Bérubé and his son.  Not only does Jamie have a full and rich life that has intrinsic value–though it’s not “normal”*–but Michael’s life is profoundly enriched by his son.

That’s enough.  It’s justification enough.

So what if it’s not “normal”?

It’s not like these beings are stealing the life that should have gone to a more deserving, “normal” being.  But that strikes me, reading both of these things, as an underlying current in this strain of animal rights thought–that because there’s not enough to go around, the beings capable of “normal” life should get the resources.

And that’s ugly.

————–

*Though, really, what a bullshit concept.  It’s his life.  It’s normal to him.

My Only Two Questions about the Whole Saltsman Thing

1.  Was there some Tennessee Republican summit in which a list of dumbass racist things to do or say was passed out so that they could compete to see who could pull off the most outrageous?  Like I said over at Kevin‘s, this is getting to be hilarious and embarrassing.

2.  Okay, so we have Peter Yarrow’s somewhat bizarre take on the “Barack the Magic Negro” parody.  (Puff wouldn’t like it?  A. Puff’s friend deserted him; he lost his scales; and sulks in a cave.  I’m sure that can turn a dragon mean.  B.  Puff’s not real!  C. So that song wasn’t about pot?)  But who’s going to ask Spike Lee?  Isn’t he the one who came up with the super-dooper-magical negro in the first place?

This is what I find hilarious about the whole thing–and I’m going to say up front that the humor, for me, comes in part from the fact that I’m a nerdy girl–is that listening to “Barack the Magic Negro” is about on par with watching Karl Rove put on his best hip hop persona.  Is it racist?  Yes.  But, in both cases, worse than that, it shows a complete and utter cluelessness about the very thing you’re parodying.

And there is a very funny parody to be made of white liberals hoping for that in Obama in Lee’s sense of the Magic Negro, that he will come along just when they/we need him and use his powers to fix everything for us all while wanting nothing for himself.  And now that Obama’s started to piss folks on the left off, it might even be funnier, because it would poke fun at white hopes and expectations of Obama.

But this parody is just so fucking square.  It’s like “Oh we heard this phrase and it sounds like an insult and it has the word ‘negro’ in it, so it must be something black people call each other so let’s write a song in which Al Sharpton calls Obama a magic negro.  That will be swell.”

Does it show the Republicans’ racism?  Yes.  But a bigger problem than that for the Republicans is that it reaffirms their inherent out-of-touch-ness.  I mean, conservatives can complain all they want about Republicans kowtowing to the Religious Right, but at least Evangelical Christianity is a vibrant culture.  Without the conservative Christians to give some liveliness and cultural relevance to the Right, it’s like they’re Omega Theta Pi.

(Ha, it’s always good to end a post with an Animal House reference.)

Mrs. Wigglebottom is an Old Fart

Yes, I said it.  My dog is an old fart.  She’s having trouble seeing in dim light (thought we’re all supposed to pretend like we don’t notice) and she barks at every little noise like “Get off my lawn, you rotten kids.”

Which, you know, would be fine.  I’m all for barking dogs as a warning to whatever bad guys that any malfiecence will be met with immediate throat-ripping-out.  But no, she just barks and then looks at me like “You’d better go check that out, hairless ape.”

I’m all “With an attitude like that, you’ll never make the cover of Sports Illustrated.”  But she doesn’t care.

Some of Plimco’s Photos of Our Afternoon

I’ll say this, it’s a good friend who somehow manages to take a bunch of pictures of you, none of which show your double chin.

Repeated for Emphasis–The TVA is Lying to Us

Via the indispensable S-town Mike:

Today’s front page KNS report says the EPA has found “very high” levels of arsenic in water samples, along with other heavy metals, one week after TVA said the water samples were fine*.It says residents should avoid contact with the fly ash sludge materials and gives instructions on what to do if they get contaminated, one week after TVA said the fly ash contained no hazardous materials.

It says area residents who get water from springs or wells should not use the water, one week after other officials told them to just boil their water.

(*TVA still says on their website as of this moment that testing of stream water is within acceptable limits, and they do not mention well or spring water testing.)

I was going to highlight the important parts, but it’s all important.  Basically, everything the TVA said is bullshit.  The water is not safe.  The fly ash contains stuff you should not even touch let alone drink and boiling your water does nothing to remove the impurities.  And it’s covering everything over there.

Edited to add: Also, do not miss Southern Beale.

Edited again to add: I hope you’re not counting on me for accuracy.  The above quote is actually S-Town Mike quoting the genius R. Neal.

Vows of Chastity Easily Broken

It’s been all over the media today that kids who take pledges to abstain from sex until they’re married don’t actually abstain from sex until they’re married.  They just have more unsafe sex than their more realistic friends.

To which I say, ha ha ha ha ha and duh.

I suspect, though, anyway, that abstainance pledges aren’t really “for” keeping kids from premarital sex.  I mean, it’s got to be clear to anyone who’s every lived through being a teenager that promising you aren’t going to have sex, even if you really, really want to keep that promise, is not going to prevent you from having sex.  So, if it’s obvious that making kids promise to not have sex is not going to keep them from having sex, then why, my friends, do we keep making kids promise that they’re not going to have sex?

I think it’s because it’s a way to indoctrinate kids into believing that what they do with their own bodies is up for public scrutiny and to reenforce the idea that it’s okay for other people to tell you what you can and can’t do with your body and that, if you fail to do with your body what they’ve proscribed for you, you are a collosal fuck up and deserve public sanction.

And that, my friends, is bullshit.

On that ‘Fiscal Stability’…

Roger says:

the lack of a state income tax is indeed a major reason for Tennessee’s relative economic strength. By the way, why is it that some of the most highly taxed states in the nation are the ones with their hands out? Check the lineup: New York, New Jersey, California…I don’t get it. They have “progressive” tax systems with income taxes. Everybody’s paying their “fair share.” Everything should be hunky-dory. What could possibly be the problem? More to the point, why is it supposedly somehow our (“our”= people who do live in those states) problem?

And I have just two points.

1.  You’re lucky Rachel isn’t here, buddy, or I’d totally have her tracking down those studies that show that places like New York put more into the federal coffers than they take out, unlike us.

2.  Relativel economic strength?  Ha, ha, ha.  Check this out.  When you’re trying to build a hill “Our hole is smaller than yours” is kind of beside the point.

Like a Kid at Christmas

The Butcher took his Christmas money and bought everyone late Christmas presents.  He bought me Civilization IV.  I’m not going to mention by name the person who stayed up all night playing it, but it wasn’t me.

The Thing About Things

The Butcher and I know jack-shit about anything and we certainly aren’t going to actually, you know, read the directions, so setting the bottle tree post in concrete was… well, it was a lot stupider than it should have been, considering we ended up doing everything wrong.  We mixed the concrete way, way too watery.  We put the concrete in the hole and then put the pole in.  Oh, did I mention that the hole kept filling up with water because we live in a bog, apparently?  And we did all this yesterday because we could not be bothered to look at a weather report.

So, about eleven or so, the wind brought the storm and I turned to my brother and he said, “Well, that was stupid of us.  But we’ll fix it tomorrow.”

Because how could something so shoddily done, held upright only by broomsticks and its own weight, stay standing in that weather?

And yet…

newtree1

newtree2

The TVA Incident

I just want to reiterate that, if you’re reading only one Nashville blog about the disaster, it should be S-Town Mike’s.  He is a one-stop shop on local, state (but not our state, of course), and national responses.

I say “but not our state” because I, like Mike, am suspicious that unless that sludge floated right into the house of an elected state official, they’re not going to see any need for reform or regulation.  We should just change our state motto to “Unless it’s gay, we’ll tolerate it, even if it kills us.”

The Bottle Tree Takes Shape Slowly

The Butcher and I decided that the easiest way to work this whole bottle tree thing was going to be to make like it’s our parents’ old Christmas tree, which was composed of a wooden stick with slightly angled holes into which you stuck what looked like bottle cleaners but which were actually the fake branches.

So the Butcher drilled me some holes in my 2×2 today and we have some 1 ft rebar to stick in those holes tomorrow after we get our hole dug and our concrete poured in.

I may have to run to the liquor store and look for some unusual colored wine bottles so I can spend the day emptying them out to put on the tree.

And not at all because I need a drink or eight.

Ha.

The Folks in Roane County

For those of you who’ve asked about the Roane County disaster, I asked R. Neal (who’s kind of the Go-To Guy in the state for all your questions you don’t know who else to ask, or I guess, that’s what I use him for) and he said that it appears that the TVA has responded appropriately and right now the individuals affected have shelter and are being taken care of.

He recommends y’all bookmark RoaneViews because that’s run by locals for locals so if and when folks need help down the road, information will probably be available there.

Here’s the NYTimes story on the spill.  Here’s a good local story.  And some good photos.

For those of you who aren’t from here, here’s a Google map to help you acclimate yourself.

Don’t You Want a Dog?

So, it turns out that the thing we saw in the neighbor’s yard wasn’t a coyote, but a young dog.  Said dog is fun and friendly and our other neighbors have taken him in until they can find a good home for him.

Might you be that good home?

I’ll just point out that he’s handsome.  And friendly.

Holiday Trees

Our Christmas Tree

christmastree08

(If you get that close, you can’t tell it’s a foot-tall rosemary bush.)

Holly

holly

And for my Wiccan readers, the holly from my side yard and the oak from my back.  Extra points to the person who can explain about the oak and holly kings.

oakandholly

Detroit Ham

We’re having “Detroit Ham” for Christmas, though my dad is disappointed that we couldn’t find regular Vernor’s Ginger Ale so we have to use Diet.  He’s convinced that the patrons at the Bordeaux Kroger are all also planning on “Detroit Ham” and that’s why we have to make do with Diet Vernor’s.

So, that should be exciting.

Ha.

We’re going over to the Hendersonville United Methodist Church for Christmas Eve, because there’s a nine o’clock service and we can drag the recalcitrant brother to it.  We’ll see if he’s really as churchy as he claims to be, that’s for sure!

Wait until you see our Christmas tree.  We decorated the rosemary and it is hilariously awesome.