Villains Vanquished is pleased to announce a new little contest ('cause we're supremely bored). We will be having a beauty pageant here. We are not discriminatory, so both men and women shall be eligible. However, because we are not sleazoids, there will be no valuation for appearances whatsoever. This will strictly be based on non-typical beauty pageant things that do not require vaseline, wax, duct tape, or any other petroleum-based adhesives.
Details will be forthcoming. If you are interested in participating, either as a contestant or a judge, leave a comment, please.
Somewhere along the way, this post really got off track
I have never liked Jane Fonda. She creeps me out…reminds me of the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Whenever I see her, I hear her saying in my head, “I’ll get you my pretty! You and your little dog, too!” All of this followed by a maniacally creepy cackle. Is it just me?
I believe it completely possible to be a conservative, be pro-choice, and still be honest with yourself. Sometimes death is a relief, and after 15 years…well, I’d be falling into that category. But, as I have expressed to many on this subject, it is a matter for her family to decide. They chose to drag her through the courts, tugging on her like she was a fifth-grade tug-o-war match, the media get involved and it becomes a tug-o-war-in-the-mud. It is not dignified! And even now, on the day of her death, they are too busy slinging mud and reloading to even bother to act upset. I hope she is at peace now.
Ted Koppel? Who? Never heard of ‘im.
If cops ever approach me in my car, guns drawn, after I have given birth by propping one of my legs over the steering wheel while parked at a gas station…let’s just say that they are NEVER going to hear the end of it.
106 Days to Book 6
Clearly it is high time I begin stage two of my plans for complete and total world domination. Where is my atomic spider ray gun again?
My Dad reads my blog. What a hoot. He thinks it is good. I think that is funny! He thinks I’m better than the other blogs he has stumbled across. Dads are great that way.
When I am the Supreme Empress of the World, in a blatant act of nepotism, I will appoint my father as Chief Wordsmyth, Head Muckety-Muck of the Baby Ducks, and High Curmudgeon of the entire Armed Forces.
‘Cause the man likes toys that go boom.
And I am, after all, his daughter.
Who, I ask you, is going to call the Supreme Empress on her nepotism? That’s what I thought.
It is days like this that I really miss my favorite spy.
If you are wondering what is with the list…blame it on the cold medicines. I’m freebasing/mainlining/snorting Halls Fruit Breezers and Kleenex.
What do I know about drug stuff? I’m a nice girl. I don’t even know if I used those terms correctly, that’s how good I am. Call it poetic license, I don’t care.
Was ALIAS cool last night, or what? Marshall got to cut out a man’s eye ball! With a spork! That’s just good tv, right there.
I drove my Chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.
‘cause we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl
She wore a raspberry beret
but if that mockingbird don’t sing, he’s gonna buy me a diamond ring
I took one, one, one cause you left me and two, two, two for my family
Just like every night has it’s dawn
Sorry, I was hijacked there for a minute. Not to worry, I’m back in control.
What was that you said?
“Hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut.”
Why, yes, that does describe Kansas Wheat Harvest perfectly.
Every year I get a letter from E. Bunny. This year it came on letterhead. I have recreated the letter for you below.
March 22, 2005
Dear Phoenix and Prince Charming:
It is with sad regret that I must inform you that your Easter delivery will be late. There has been an upset at Easter Enterprises (read hostile takeover- rebellion stifled). It had become quite obvious that the lower-wing types were attempting a violent coo. Yes. It is too true. Though I was still under orders to relax from the strain of the last few years - bad case of bunny bunions, word came to me in time.
Although my faithful friend Mugafu stepped in to assist with the last few years, it has become increasingly obvious that it has brought out his more violent tendencies. I have tried repeatedly to explain to him that the entire annihilation of all chickens would occur if he kept up with his intention of turning all eggs into deviled eggs. His opinion is the best egg is a deviled one. Unfortunately, when he started shouting this opinion at barnyard gatherings, many of the hens, chickens that they are, became quite skittish about being part of our Easter celebrations. There has also been a scurrilous division in the ranks due to the extra work load now put upon the rest of the fuzzy bunnies.
Quite obviously, something has...er...had to be done -- immediately...
OhMYGAWD! Was that a gun shot? Back in a minute...
"IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"
"CHILL OUT YOU WILD BASTARD!"
"IF I CATCH YOU..."
Uh, where was I? Oh, yes. Mugafu, needing a bit of time to tranquilize...er...calm...er...de-stress has left to foment unrest and quell rebellions elsewhere. Somewhere around the greasy Zambeezi, I believe the address label...er...ticket said.
"WILBERFORCE! GET AWAY FROM THAT..."
Rest assured that with renewed vigor and hope we will be able to make deliveries on time. If not, they'll be late. Postcards and letters to Mugafu, as always, will be forwarded....
Maybe the third time will be the charm on this post.
Kathy, the blog mama, has gotten involved in another meme. This time though, I volunteered. She has posed 5 questions that I will be answering below. But first, I must impart the rules of said meme.
The rules, according to the blog mama, are as follows:
Leave me a comment saying “interview me”. The first five commenters will be the participants. I will respond by asking you five questions. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)
That bit of business being done, I will now attempt to answer these questions for the third time. Don't ask.
K: You, Phoenix, are a midwestern girl. Born and bred in the heartland. Explain for the folks on the coasts (and around the world) what it's like to live here. Detail the pros and cons for them.
No softball questions, I see.
Living in the Midwest is fantastic! "Flyover country" as it is often called, has much to recommend it. Personally, I like the fact that it isn't completely paved over, that there are wide expanses of green. You can see the stars at night, as they are not obscured by city lights. The air is clean and the people are friendly. Traffic is not usually a big issue, in many locales you can drive miles without meeting another car on the highway. The people do not live one on top of another, crammed in like sardines. There is plenty of elbow room to be found. The people of the Midwest are... real. They tend to be honest hard-working sorts who will tell you what they think. There is a real sense of community in the Midwest too. If a farmer dies, his neighbors will come together to get the widow's crops in, oftentimes before they attend to their own. If there is a prairie fire, farmers and ranchers from miles around come together to fight the fire. It is just the way it is. They don't stand and gawk, they work to fix the problem. The Midwest is home. I can be at home in any small town in the Midwest because the people are generally accepting and want to be neighborly. It is a place where you know your neighbors and their children. It is a place where we watch over our neighborhoods with the pride of a mother lion.
There are drawbacks to living here in Mid-America, I suppose. Where I am from, you have to drive 4 hours (and two states away) to get to the mall. Think about that for a minute. The nearest convenience mart is 25 miles and the nearest decent grocery store is 1 hour away. It is something you learn to deal with early on. There is no popping out to pick something up. You have to plan your trips. You spend a lot of time in the car, but this leads to good discussions and lots of reading. You also have to suffer the imperfect supply of specialty items. For example, the grocery store is not likely to have every possible ingredient for some ethnic dishes, unless of course it is a prominent local ethnicity. It means I have to call Marshall Field's to order my Chanel makeup instead of just picking it up after work. I do a great deal of shopping online and this helps the issue immensely. All in all, I have to say I much prefer living in the Midwest where the traffic and the crime rates are usually lesser.
K: Your work has something to do with Agribusiness, which some people consider to be a dirty word. Give me an example of one common misconception you run up against in regard to the field you work in. Lavish us with the details of what you would say to these people if you didn't have to worry about being rude.
The most common misconception that a woman in Agriculture faces daily is that, if she's a woman in Ag...she must be same-sex oriented. It has always been a good ol' boy's club. As such, it can be tough to be the new girl on the block. I've been asked "Who did you sleep with to get that new truck?" by a co-worker. I've heard it all. You are either a lesbian or too dumb and too young to actually know anything. These good ol' boys are resistant to change and some react defensively when pushed into accepting a female as an equal. You'd think we were past this, but oh, no. One time I left a client a message on his home answering machine. His girlfriend threw such a hissy fit over a woman calling his home (however legitimate and professionally motivated) that she called my boss and requested that I not call anymore. I, of course, had to explain that I needed spray records. My boss agreed to call them from then on. Ridiculous! And all because I don't have that other equipment. Furthermore, because my name is somewhat gender-vague, I am often mistaken for my own secretary. A woman is answering the phone: it must be a secretary.
Were I to have the chance to speak candidly to these good ol' boys, sans ramifications, I would say something like this:
Look, Honey, I may not have a pe%is, but that doesn't mean I don't have a brain. As a matter of fact, statistics would suggest that my mind is on my job more often than my male counterparts can claim. It must be so pesky thinking about sex all the time. My breasts do not get in the way of me doing my job. You may not be able to see past them, but I assure you, I have absolutely no problem doing so. Furthermore, you trust your wife with aspects of your business; are you just playing fast and loose with your business health, or are you willing to submit to the idea that a woman can do this job? I realize Agronomy is in large part about Math and Science, but I assure you that lack of a dangling sexual organ will not impede me. As a matter of fact, I passed the CCA exams in my first sitting, something very few men (the predominant test takers) can claim. I will not be stereotyped to fit into your box of expectations. Either give me a chance to prove myself, or go live out your fantasies with your cows and goats.
K: You enjoy baking. What has been your most spectacular success in this field, and conversely, what didn't work out so well?
I love to bake! Actually, I enjoy all cooking. My cookies are my greatest success. They are loved by many and have earned me a bit of acclaim. As a matter of fact, my extra large Christmas Cookie Tins, I’ve been told, are worth $60 on the retail gourmet cookie market. I am really good at all desserts, with my pies coming in a close second to my cookies.
The biggest failure I ever had was when my Prince and I first started cohabitating. I wanted to make him this potato dish that is baked in a cream sauce. I followed the recipe faithfully and labored over the sauce lovingly. Despite the fact that the recipe called for 45 minutes of bake time, two hours in the oven still left those potatoes hard and crunchy, not at all soft as you would expect them to be. Then I tried to microwave them. 20 minutes of that was equally fruitless. What else could I do? I cried. My Prince was naturally confused. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. So, the dish failed. In my mind though, it spoke of my future failings as a wife and mother. In the end, he agreed to be more sensitive, I agreed to not take cooking so seriously, and we both agreed that that recipe would never be attempted again. The Amazing Un-cook-able Potato hit the trash can. I never looked back.
K: You're an anonymous blogger. Why did you choose to blog anonymously? Do you feel it gives you more leeway to write certain things than if you attached your name to your work? Do you ever feel the compulsion to fib to your readers, knowing full well that they'd have no idea if you were telling the truth or not?
I blog anonymously for one reason and one reason alone: SAFETY. You see, in real life I have been stalked by one psycho and nearly raped by another. I don’t want to be the first victim of a google search, hence my anonymity. As a “citizen journalist” I lack the bodyguard and the ability to pay one. My personal protection comes down to me and my Walther PPK. So, I don’t put my name on my blog.
Anonymity does lend an amazing amount of freedom. It allows me to call ‘em like I see ‘em. I can be free to say whatever I like without the self-censoring worries about ramifications. Anonymity allows me to be very honest. I would not ever consider fibbing to my readers. I don’t want to lose the credibility, or get caught in some stupid lie. Now, that doesn’t mean that I always tell the whole truth either. I withhold some things as a way to preserve my anonymity and because there are private things that I don’t want to share. I think this is my prerogative.
K: How did Prince Charming propose?
Prince Charming and I had been dating long distance for 5 years in a haphazard manner. He wasn’t very attentive and I was getting sick of us never making any time for each other. One day I delivered an ultimatum: make an effort, or I’m outa here.
About three months later, I noticed a marked change in his behavior. He made the effort to call several times each week and we started seeing each other more often. Six months into this new leaf, he called me up late one night and said, “I’m in trouble.”
I, Miss Fixit that I was, wanted to help in anyway that I could. But every woman out there knows what conclusion I jumped to when he claimed to be in trouble. He was insistent, so I agreed to meet him last minute for the coming weekend. But until we actually got together, I had a nonstop four-day headache. I was dreading whatever the news was, sure it was going to put an end to my happiness.
When I arrived in the hotel room, he was asleep so I took some Tylenol before waking him. I asked him to tell me what was up. I felt very fragile, expecting the coming end of our relationship.
He said, “This isn’t really working anymore. What would you think of us living together? You can move to Madison or I can move down there, either way.”
“Umm…okay,” I said. I’m still holding my breath waiting for the bad news.
“Well,” he said, “if you think that is a good idea, what would you think of us getting married?” He whipped out the ring.
I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? “Okay. Yes.”
“You don’t seem very excited.”
“I want you to tell me the bad news already! It doesn’t matter what it is, just tell me.”
“There isn’t any bad news.”
“You said you were in trouble,” I said.
“Well, it wasn’t something bad. I’ve just had this on my mind.”
So, eventually I got over the anxiety and realized that he was just an idiot. I swear, to this day, that has been the most nervous I’ve ever been. The proposal was a complete surprise. I didn’t cry, mostly because I was annoyed. I thought he was confusing the issue and just wanted him to spill the news already. I have a real knack for working myself into a state, I guess.
That’s it. If you want to be interviewed next, leave a comment.
The So Cal Lawyer at the So Cal Law Blogreports that Rep. John Conyers of Michigan wants to confer upon bloggers the same rights as those afforded by the MSM. See this post by Mr. Conyers.
But, as I said in the comments over at SoCalLawyer, I am concerned with the way Conyer's post reads. It seems to indicate that he wants to give us a right. I object to this because, well…, I feel the right is already mine under the Constitutional protection of Free Speech. I am a citizen of the United States, after all.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
It seems to me that ANY legislation on this issue would be unconstitutional as it would abridge the freedom of speech because it would ipso facto diminish the rights of nonbloggers. You are the lawyer, what do you think? Bloggers should not have a protected status, except for that ensured as citizens who are free to speak at will. To me, it is a slippery slope. The Constitution guarantees the right. I am concerned that if Congress feels it has the right to give…it has the right to taketh away. And THAT is very disconcerting!
Now, I'm no lawyer, but I have read the Constitution. What do YOU think?
Burmaster, the Superintendant of the Dept. of Public Instruction here in Wisconsin, feels that the role of parents should be limited in their children's education. According to her brief, parents should make
sure the child has a well-lighted place to work, a regular time for homework and adequate supplies.
Nowhere, however, is the parent directed to deliver the lesson in the first instance, review concepts, oversee testing, evaluate test answers and make judgments about their sufficiency, incorporate additional curricular materials or any of the myriad other tasks that WIVA’s responsible adults perform daily.
Once again, big brother feels that I am incapable. I despise this nanny state. By these definitions, my parents have committed gross misconduct when it comes to my education. But you know what? I'm glad that they did.
It is so ridiculous! There are more things to learn out in the big wide world than exist between the pages of the state curriculum. More to the point, it is the parent's responsibility to make sure that any bias delivered by the "professionals" is countered and balanced.
KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations secretary-general, is said to be struggling with depression and considering his future. Colleagues have reported concerns about Annan ahead of an official report this week that will examine his son Kojo’s connection to the controversial Iraqi oil for food scheme.
Depending on the findings of the report, by a team led by the former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, Annan may have to choose between the secretary-generalship and loyalty to his son.
American congressional critics of the UN are already pressing him to resign over the mismanagement of the oil for food programme, and even his supporters have been dismayed by the scandals on his watch, including the sexual abuse of children by UN peacekeepers in Congo.
I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Mine was chock-full of goodness.
I chilled out on Friday. It was so nice to not have anything I had to do. Saturday I had an appointment for a mani and a pedi. Now I feel pretty! Oh so pretty! Saturday afternoon I ran errands then caught up with Prince Charming. We went out to see a movie. We saw the Vin Diesel vehicle The Pacifier.
I know what you are thinking. "Vin Diesel? In a comedy?" Well, it worked! It was funny and we enjoyed it. It was nice and light and took my mind off of things.
Also on Saturday I received another phone call regarding that thing I can't talk about yet. I can say that things are shaping up though. I may have something to actually report soon.
Hey, how about those Illini, huh? I thought they were going to choke there for a minute. But I'm glad that they pulled it out. I think they are due, and I'm not just saying that because Illinois is my alma mater.
Saturday night, we had steak and king crab legs for dinner. Yummy!
Sunday was my day to attend to my housewifely duties. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.
And now? Now I've got this horrendous cold that is making me dizzy. Current symptoms include a headache and a deep hacking cough.
You know you are failing to satisfy your readers when they send you a request to cover a particular topic.
So, Codename: Islander, this one is for you.
A person might wonder, from the singular and astounding tunnel-vision of the MSM, that this country has no bigger problems than professional atheletes and their medicine cabinets and the plight of one Florida woman.
Seriously! We have major problems with both Social Security and a Southern border that is more porous than a frat party gate is to drunk girls. We are a nation fighting a multi-fronted war, terrorists attempting everyday to bring the great infidel to it's knees, and what does our elected legislature busy itself with?
That's right! Passing emergency bills - federal bills - on the life and death of one woman. One woman. And...AND, having hearings and subpoenaing professional baseball players to testify about steroid use.
It is astounding! And Islander has every right to her outrage. I don't care where you stand on the whole Terri Schiavo drama. You can be pro-life or right-to-die, I don't wish to argue the merits. The fact of the matter is it is a personal decision. If you can't bother yourself to have a living will, well then, it is going to be up to your guardian. On the face of it, this poor woman has been suffering in this state for 15 years. 15 years. That's a long time. But, to add insult to injury, she has been turned into a political football. The media is treating it like a circus and every Tom, Dick, and Sally is finding their moment. In some cases, they have risked jail time in attempts to hydrate her. Congress meets in an all-night session, then gets the President out of bed at 1 a.m. to weigh in on the bill.
If only we could get this much media interest and Congressional Momentum on Social Security Reform!
It is the same story with Baseball-gate. For heaven's sake! Did they really need to make Mark McGwire effectively plead the fifth? What, if anything, was acheived by all of that drama? That's right! Not a damn thing! And yet, we wasted taxpayer money and valuable time. Time that perhaps would have been better spent in brainstorming ways to keep terrorists from pouring over the border with Mexico.
I'll tell you what. I don't give a rat's fuzzy ass about Terri Schiavo. To be quite blunt, my opinion doesn't matter! As it rightfully should not. Moreover, I don't care what this nation's top baseballers have been taking to enhance their performance. I have to have caffeine or I'm a zombie. They are adults. Adults make mistakes. It is not an issue for Congress, or at the very least, it belongs way way way down on the list of priorities. Just because some has-been wrote a book and wanted to provoke a few more sales with a touch of controversy...it is disgusting!
Why does Congress have to go pimping the national consciousness? I, for one, will not be a party to it! Shame on you, Congress!
I have returned f rom my 2-day seminar on Wisconsin's soils and the Nutriet Management thereof.
Yee-haw! Exciting stuff -- that is if you find two interminable days of Glacial till, nitrification, denitrification, manure, and biosolids exciting.
Let's just say, I'm glad that's over.
My super-secret spy-sistah has requested a special vanquish, and that will be coming. Other than that, things have finally slowed down a bit here. I'm so glad. I need a good cry, a day spent with my favorite Jane Austen BBC production: Pride & Prejudice, and a steady supply of Coca-Cola.
My weekend looks to be beautifully relaxing. Tomorrow I will get up late, treadmill, and then my dutiful and amazing Prince Charming will make me breakfast. I will lazily watch the news and then log on, for once not having to google the morning news for market-movers. Sigh. Then I will eventually make my way to the couch and get in my much-needed aforementioned dose of Colin Firth. Prince Charming and I will go out to eat tomorrow night to our favorite place on the other side of Lake Wisconsin: Fish Tales in Lodi. Yummy! Crab legs bigger than two heads put together!
Saturday, my loving husband has arranged for me to enjoy a pedicure and a manicure. That's "a mani and a pedi" for those divas out there. Sunday will be devoted to family, Prince Charming & me...alone. For once. Thank goodness.
So, I wish you all a wonderful, long, and relaxing holiday weekend. As soon as my annual missive from Col. E. Bunny arrives, I will post the contents of the letter.
I have a few things to add to the post below by the Vicious Thump.
First I'd like to point out the inherent patronization in Vallianatos's claims. A distinct rose-colored-glasses syndrome colors the views of this individual. Business is business. If you do not adapt, if you do not claim a niche for yourself, you shall be left behind. This is true in every business from widget manufacturing right on down to farming.
Vallianatos seems to revile the very advances that allow this country to have one of the cheapest food supplies in the world. More than merely feeding his fellow citizens, the US Farmer feeds the world, in particular, exporting democracy and goodwill when our surpluses are donated or sold on the cheap to developing countries and victims of tragedies.
Were it now for the pesticides and mechanical improvements that Vallianatos slanders in a thinly veiled manner, the US farmer would be much less efficient and have a much more difficult time making a living. The price of a bushel of corn is less than $2.50 right now. Imagine if your livlihood were dependent on the weather, foreign markets, and you only got one production cycle in a year. Can you really blame the US farmer for using technology to his benefit, to ensure the survival of his crop, and therefore his livlihood, all to keep his family fed?
Vallianatos would have us all go back to the days of 40 acres and a mule. Certainly, those methods were more ecologically sound and the number of farmers were greater. Unfortunately, nobody would want that job in today's market. The work was too hard, back-breaking even, and left little time for the other aspects of life that we hold so dear today.
Moreover, Vallianatos's claim that Agriculture should be different than all other industry rings false. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable for other industries to do things faster, cheaper, smarter, etc., by taking advantage of technological gains, but not the farmer. Not only is this unfair, but it paints in stark relief exactly how ludicrous Vallianatos's perception of the family farm is.
But most insulting is the idea that the American farmer does not care about the environment. I feel certain that I know more farmers than Vallianatos (I make this claim as a farmer's daughter and as an Agronomist in my own right). The American farmer, by and large, considers himself a steward of the land. He knows his tenure is short and that he must preserve the land for his sons and daughters after him. Moreover, in my experience, it is the folks in the cities and suburbs who are more casual and less concientious in their use and storage of pesticides. How many people out there in suburbia handspray every stray weed in their yards? The more ecologically sound thing to do would be to simply pull them, but that doesn't happen very often. Why? That would be work. You'd have to bend down, pull, bag, and cart off the offending plants. Spritz, spritz is much easier.
Ed - E.G. Vallianatos, formerly of the EPA, declares in this article in the Dodge City Globe that all of the evils in modern agriculture fall soundly at the feet of Corporate farms. The Vicious Thump respectfully dissents:
I'm sorry, but the former EPA analyst E. G. Vallianatos is only partially correct, however obviously passionate.
Vallianatos is ignorant about how Agribusiness achieved its current state and, although seeing a portion of the picture, is quite unaware of why they exist and why, in many cases, they are failing. Compounding the silliness, Vallianatos included BSE-Mad Cow disease in the article. Mad Cow disease is largely more fright than fact in the consumer's mind, and isn’t as perilous to our citizens as our declining biodiversity in farm animal genetics. If that were not bad enough, Vallianatos blames almost everything but the stain in Kofi Annan's shorts on agribusiness mis-management.
Although the article, Opening the door for disease by E.G. Vallianatos, casts a wide net, let's concentrate on what appears to be the central theme in the thesis of Vallianatos's allegations, or as close to a central theme as I could discover.
The Death of Family Farms
Many experts believe that giant Agribusiness and Corporate farming is killing the Family farm. Not so. The death tax is doing that. Death taxes, known as estate or inheritance taxes, have been wiping out family businesses, especially farms, since their inception.
When a business is a life’s work and has property/land as well as expensive equipment, it is in peril at the time of death of the property owner. At the property owner’s death the value of all of his property is assessed. If he doesn’t have enough life insurance to pay the estate taxes or his heirs enough cash to pay it, then the business property of a small business person or the land of a farmer will have to be sold. Without land, one doesn’t farm.
Who buys the land? Corporations, insurance companies, land speculators, and the wealthy purchase it. With luck the next generation of struggling farmers trying to get enough land to have a viable farm will have their land purchases paid off by the time they die. At that point, there are even fewer farmers left trying to buy land. Every time an heir has to buy back land and equipment from his parent’s estate sale he loses farm size.
Why? It is simply because the value of land and equipment is so high, and added to the yearly costs of high-dollar inputs like fuel and fertilizer, can be overwhelming. An heir might not have enough equity to swing the loan for that kind of re-purchase. He’s probably been working with dad all of his life and is now, at the age of thirty-five to forty-five, having to practically start all over again in approximately thirty years. This vicious circle keeps repeating itself, losing more independent farmers with each generation.
Who works the land? Many times non-farm corporations, insurance companies, land speculators, and the wealthy will rent it to farmers. The smaller farmer works much of the land for themselves as rented land or for large agribusiness corporations, which attempt to force the art of farming into the structure and principals of industry—with indifferent success.
Corporations don’t die. Therefore, they have no estate tax. Many large land-holding farming families have incorporated to help with the estate tax issue. Because they are able to pass on their farmland, equipment, and expertise to the next generation easier, they are growing, buying land when estate sales come up.
Do you want to stop the downward spiral in the number of family farms as well as other family businesses? Repeal estate taxes!
Now, as to why family farms fail? They are businesses. Like any other business they are subject to fail from the same things that takes down other businesses--not paying attention to changes in the industry. Every business has growth, maintanance, or stagnation. When maintenance tilts to stagnation and stagnation lingers too long, business death occurs. When growth is unsustainable it too implodes and a business dies. The same thing happens to family farms. Just because they are noticeable, interesting, and hit the sentimental button doesn't mean they shouldn't be treated like the businesses they are. However, farming is also an art as well as a science. When those who engage in it are lost, so also dies the art of it.
The party was a blast, the mystery was solved, and everyone had a great time. (I tried to post a pic last nite, but it wouldn't go through. I'll try again this evening.) They exclaimed over the food, once again reaffirming my status as a domestic diva. And, once again, my Crème Brulee was annointed the title "Worthy of the Gods." This time I changed things up a bit and put some framboise in with the vanilla.
Because my weekend was more stressful than my work week. Because my last few weekends away were mostly hustle and bustle and veiled animosity.
The situation that I described on Friday about my young friend is both better and worse than I thought. In the age-old cry for help she apparently attempted suicide 2 weeks ago, though in a half-measured way that makes me certain it was little more than a desperate grab at attention. I have spent much time with her over the weekend and am convinced that at least part of her problem with her home life is the symptoms of the medication her parents have her on. The good news is that her parents do not believe she is bipolar anymore than I do. The bad news is, this beautiful young lady is so desperate for a solution, she will believe anything that her doctor suggests. It is disturbing to me that her parents feel comfortable giving her the drugs for a disease they don't believe she has, but at least she isn't on the lithium yet that I can tell.
I am concerned that the drugs that she is taking may be interacting adversely. But what do I know? I'm working solely on instinct and love here.
It broke my heart listening to her. All I wanted to do is wrap her up in a perpetual hug and tell her that she is loved until I had no more voice. She thinks her parents hate her. She told me so. Why does she think so? Her parents have told her that they hate her. I am so frightened for her. And, I am ashamed of them. Yes, they are dealing with multiple stresses and yes, she is part of the problem. But, I don't think you should ever EVER speak of hating your child, not even in anger.
I can't do enough for her or them and it breaks my heart. My own sleep has been fitful and unrestful in the wake of all of this. I suspect that will continue.
A teenager that I know has been diagnosed as bipolar and has been prescribed lithium.
Those are the scariest words I've ever written. Why? After researching the disease all day, I am convinced that the diagnosis is wrong.
This is a normal, loving, teenage girl. She is going through a rebellious phase...but she isn't violent, she isn't aggressive, she simply doesn't fit the description. She is a typical teenager dealing with life pressures. High school is hell even for the popular kids. Choosing a college and a career path are scary things at that age. (Come on, that stuff still gives me the willies.)
The parenting of this individual has been...haphazard and lazy, like an afterthought. I don't know how you can expect a child to raise herself and expect perfection. I love her and am convinced that her problems stem from an untenable set of circumstances in the home. How can I be sure? If I were living there, we'd have bigger issues. I see her reactions to these forces as mild compared to how I would react. Now, by my math, this either means I'm more bipolar than she...or the diagnosis is shit.
I don't know what to do. I don't want her put on mind-altering drugs because I'm afraid it will snuff the bright little light in her. I don't want to leave the situation alone either. I know that it is a normal reaction for people to deny a mental illness, but I swear to you that this is not that.
If she is moody, it is typical teenage moodiness brought on by selfishness, lack of understanding, lack of communication, and resentment at still being treated as a child. This young woman is so loving and caring...I think she feels abandoned by her parents, even though to an adult this doesn't seem true. The fact of the matter is, that in the teenage years, perception is reality. I don't think she has ever gotten all of the attention she craves. I've spent a lot of time with her and she has never struck me as manic, bipolar, or depressed. She's simply a normal teenager.
What in the hell do I do? Seriously, I'm sick over this.
Have I said thank you lately? I love the fact that I am coming into my own with this blogging thing. I love the fact that my readers are commenting and emailing. It feels so...cozy and friendly. There are many who simply read and move on, and I respect that. Heaven knows I'm guilty of that. I don't have a lot of time when I do my morning blog surf, so I can't comment on everything I read. I wish I could!
But, this Technorati thing helps a lot! How else would I know that I've become a regular read of Nicole? Her site, The Girl Next Door, is so cute. I guess I'll be reading her now! I don't know why, but sometimes when I bring up her site I get the football girl toon pinup, and other times I get the chick at the desk. Either way, they are both adorable. (Hello, Nicole.)
And then, there is the Southern California Law Blog. I'm listed as a Right Leaning Blog. Guilty! So, I'll be checking this one out too. (Hello, So Cal Lawyer!) Holy crap! The So Cal Lawyer is a Large Mammal! I'm on the blogroll of a Large Mammal! I don't know what to say...I don't have anything prepared...but this REALLY makes my day!
Last but certainly not least, there is another Wisconsin Blogger with VV in the blogroll. One Lance Burri, no doubt a member of the Badger Blog Alliance, blogging from Baraboo. (Hiya, Lance!)
I tell you, this blogging thing has really enriched my little life. I have more friends!
Wow. What a day! First the markets decide to take a dive, meaning I actually have to work, then I had to write a thing for work (this usually takes me 45 minutes, max, but the markets being crazy meant I had to do it in 2 minute increments here and there), then I had to come home and care for the neighbor/friend's dog.
So, finally, I get to post.
Hmmm. What to say? We are having a party here Saturday night. That's right, we are attempting the murder mystery thingy again. Everybody is coming, I know, because they've all been asking me for costume ideas.
The murder takes place on 13 June 1940 on the Last Train from Paris. So, natch, the costumes will be divine! I'm playing a Princess, a royal refugee, trying to escape the advancing Nazis. I'm wearing a black velvet number, so chic, a tiara, my gloves, and my great grandmother's white beaded clutch. I'm going to do my hair in the f ashion of the era, or as close as I can come with these naturally curly locks. And...makeup will also be authentic. I've sculpted my brows to match the fashion of the time, bought a tube of horrendous red lipstick that was all the rage then, and plan to powder my face pale. And the best part? Black nylons with the seam up the back. How sexy is that?
It's like playing dress-up for adults, except I actually get to become a Princess for the evening. Candy!
I have recreated a 1940's Pullman Lounge car in my living room by arranging the furniture to emphasize the length of the room. With the two matching couches on the opposite sides of the room and vintage trunks serving as the coffee table, the effect is quite amazing. Drinks will be flowing, of course, because it will take a little liquid courage for our hubbies to get into character. For example, Prince Charming is playing the role of a "soldier of fortune". For food, we are having the following:
My highly acclaimed bierocks (made appetizer size)
An assortment of elegant cheeses with fine crackers and grapes (can a cheese be elegant?)
Baby twice baked potatoes (appetizer size)
My special Phyllo triangles
Individual Creme Brulees
Chocolate covered strawberries (served with Pink Champagne, of course)
and maybe some spinach thingees.
But, I've left out the best part! I have hired my 17-year-old sister and her best friend to come up and act as porters and pass the hors d'oeuvre. I made them matching uniforms, in the oriental style, and matching hats. I'll post a picture of them dressed up when I've snapped one.
I'm really looking forward to it. I think it is going to be hysterical! I'll post a recap to let you know how it went, I promise.
Over at the Vodkapundit's place, guest bloggers appear to be having a good time trashing the joint. Most of it is interesting. However, this post really irked me.
Face it, Kansas is a plain-Jane. It's "I Like Ike" and Bob Dole country. It reminds me of my mosted hated food - mayonnaise - pale, bland, uniform in consistency and boring. There's no ocean, no mountains and its population is hardly a model of diversity. And it's always going to be that way. A simply mediocre, generic kind of place, totally devoid of bathos, highs or lows.
The best things to come out of Kansas were Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Newsflash to the New York Time: Kansas is still Kansas, no one is paying greater attention to the state or its population of conservative, law-abiding citizens. Don't forget, Dorothy never really left home.
... Oh, God help me, I feel a rant coming on.
I'm not sure if this is supposed to be humor or not. I suspect, since it isn't all that funny, that it is not.
What strikes me first off is the fact that, while stating an opinion that she is completely entitled to, she is over-generalizing to the point of the ridiculous. Has she ever actually been to Kansas? I doubt it. She flings this shit at the wall and then walks away, deeming it art. Well, that's just crap on a wall, sweetheart. It would be the same stereotypical and ignorant blather as if I said, "California sucks. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all of the smog, traffic, celebrities, Hollywood, earthquakes, mudslides, plastic surgery, and crazy liberals. It is the home of all of the people on Earth who are really from Mars. How else do you explain Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, and the complete lack of morality? This is a place totally devoid of reality, where marriage is like tissue paper, honor is only in the movies, and truth is a matter to be developed in the screenplay."
I could give other examples, but I don't want to demean an entire state and its population. Sweeping Generalities are Bad. California has its beauty. It has honorable, faithful, and truthful people among its citizens, and it isn't all about Hollywood either. Every state in the union has its beauties. They all have personalities and charms and they don't all appeal to everybody. That's the beauty of having 50 states. If you don't like one, you can always move.
I've made no secret that I am a Kansas girl. And, just so we are all clear, in MY opinion, there is no more beautiful state, no better place to live, and no better people. Kansas is not just the home of a President, the setting of two novels, and the location of the deepest hand-dug well.
Kansas is a place where the environment is everywhere. Kansas has not been paved over like so many other places. Where else can you still see wagon ruts from the old days running through the prairies? Where else can you still see the buffalo wallows, ages since the buffalo have gone? Where else is the American Indian heritage of the area so beautifully intertwined with the day to day? Where else can you look out your window and see in every direction for 20 miles? The air is clean. Really clean. The land is carefully stewarded by people who have a very real care for it, and not just by a bunch of johnny-come-lately "environmentalists". Where else, I ask again, are the days of the cowboys so carefully cherished and remembered.
Kansas is simply breathtaking. If you are ever lucky enough to witness a thunderstorm in Kansas in the summer, you will be humbled by man's smallness and irrelevance. Know the power of Nature, the power of God, by being completely exposed to the elements in one of these crackling storms where the very universe seems to split. You are surrounded. You are meek. You are nothing but a speck in the Brownian motion of the Universe. A tornado is another of the Kansas weather features. What destructive power, but how awe-inspiring too! The winters are cold and snowy, with the snow never stopping progress. You may not be able to get to town, but the cows will be fed and watered. Here, a horse still is a possible means of transportation.
The summers feature hot dry weather and the amazing thunderstorms, of course. The wheat waves in the wind, appearing to be a golden sea upon which men and women of the prairie make their livlihoods. The soil is rich, if alkaline, and this is the bread basket. Home to the people who feed the world. Wildlife is abundant. Pheasant, rabbit, deer, coyote, snake. A whole host of small creatures call Kansas home.
Kansas has much in common with the rest of the Midwest. If generic and mediocre are the best adjectives she can come up with, again, I must dispute her claim. Generic? You won't find a McDonald's, Subway, and Kinkos on every corner here. Here you will not find mindless masses, slavishly worshipping at the Starbucks alter. Where I'm from in Kansas you have to drive to Texas to go to the mall, and that's gonna take four hours, honey. Mediocre? Pah! Only to the jaded, constantly seeking some new inanity to occupy the vacancy in your brain and your life. There is a richness to the tapestry of Kansas that is in its history, its people, and its passion.
I have taken people to Kansas for the first time and I can tell you their reactions have been singular. People get to Kansas and feel...exposed. There aren't a lot of trees in Western Kansas, you can see forever. The sky is tremendous in its scope, painting all else smaller by comparison. For example, coming upon a town in Kansas, the first thing you will likely see is the grain elevator. These white behemoths are the only skyscrapers in these towns and the economic life's blood of Kansas's landlocked peoples. No port necessitates a well-traveled rail system that feeds the United States. You will see the elevators for miles and miles, long before you ever see the rest of the town. And, the sky makes the elevators seem small, but when in reality you get next to them..., you see the truth of their mega size. City folk feel uncomfortable in Kansas sometimes, because they don't feel penned-in. (Which is sad and really speaks to the sheeple metaphors.)
For other people, finding Kansas is a near-religious experience. The beauty is awesome and makes the grand scheme of things seem apparent. As though, this is how it was meant to be. I know for me that there is no more relaxing feeling than driving through Kansas. For one thing, traffic is almost non-existent, and when you do meet another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, the driver waves to you. Perfect strangers meeting on the road of life and generally being polite and genial. I've never seen its like in all the other places I've lived (and I've lived all over and visited far and wide).
It is easy to stereotype and say we are all hicks and cowboys, spitting in spittoons and speaking slow and in a dimwitted fashion. But, I've never met as many smart people as I've met in Kansas. These people are pioneers and innovators. They think. They question. They figure things out. They push the envelope. Local politics involve nearly everyone...because everyone cares. The schools are the backbone of the communities, bringing everyone together and driving a purpose. The people work very hard, whether in the fields or in the shops, because they must. The people are respectful and teach their children respect. It is all of the best that ever was. Our local cops...nice guys. A volunteer fire department further conceives community. There is spirit here. Spirit, fire, honor, love, and respect.
She speaks of a lack of diversity as a particular bugaboo, but this allegation too rings false. A large part of the local population is Hispanic. Spanish is spoken in lots of places. We have people from the Philippines, WASPs, and other groups. I suspect that if a person looked at percentages, Kansas would be no less homogeneous than any other state. The main entertainments in town are the cafe, the library, the swimming pool, and the local coop. We don't have a movie theater or chain restaurants. How do we lack in diversity? Hmm? We aren't all watching and reading and eating the same things as the rest of the nation...and we somehow lack in diversity? Riiiight.
She makes specific mention of Kansas's "population of conservative, law-abiding citizens." I'm sorry...is this a bad thing? I kinda sorta see that as a major selling point! I don't want to have to worry about car-jackings, serial killers, rapists, murders, armed robberies and the like. I like feeling like that guy behind me in line at Emery's drugstore is just waiting to place his order for a cherry limeade, and not planning how to abduct, hog-tie, and use me for his own purposes. I like not having to lock the car when I'm parked on Main Street. Anybody who sees a population of peaceful law-abiding citizens as a problem...I don't know how to begin to talk to this person. I think crime is a bad thing. Crime means criminals...and victims. I think we are better off without victims all the way around. True, we are unlikely to be a big terrorist target, but again, I think this is a good thing.
She calls us on our conservatism too. This one, it seems, is bad just because it isn't "liberal". I wonder, if instead of a red state, Kansas were blue...do you think she would be so derogatory? Or, instead, would we be seen as the cute little state in the middle with all of the folksy charm?
The lady is entitled to her opinion, but I dissent. Respectfully I submit that her stereotyping of the population and its environs serve no purpose but to point out her own bias and bigotry. We are not the most populous state...and we like it that way. If she chooses not to visit, that is just fine with the people of Kansas. I'd recommend Massachusetts to her, but all of that history might seem too trite to her uber-cosmopolitan tastes.
This BloggerBot thing is pretty cool! (Thanks Christina!) Obviously this is the Washington Monument as seen from the WWII Memorial. You can see some of the State pillars on each side of the picture (with the wreaths at the top). Okay, enough playing.
I am proud to announce that I have recently gained status in the TTLB Ecosystem.
That's right. I am now a Slithering Reptile.
I don't quite know what to say to this unexpected award. I will say that none of it would be possible without you, my ever patient readers, and your thirst for the rants and the vanquishing of villains.
I love you all.
The safety of relative anonymity and obscurity is nice too.
Thesefourexceptionalladies are demystifying another topic this week. They attempt to answer the Super Bowl of questions in the male-female relationship league.
What does a woman want?
The answer: She wants it all. She wants everything from herself, to be all that she can be. She wants her man to be every man.
Personally, I want to be IT. The IT girl. I want to Look 10, Dance 10. I want to be intelligent, well-read, erudite, elegant, and well-liked. I want to be known as a great cook and an exceptional hostess. I want to be a star in my chosen profession. A leader. I want to be a fantastic mother who is always ready with a brownie and a shoulder to cry on or help with homework. I want to be a wife that is nurturing, thoughtful, supportive, and a sex kitten. I want to be Martha Stewart, Condi Rice, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and the girl next door all rolled into one. I want it all. I want the family, the career, world travel, success, and respect.
From my man? Oh, that is easy. I want strength of character and the courage of his convictions. I want a thinker but also someone who knows his own mind. I want a man to hold my hand and let me cry, but who also knows that I am perfectly capable of fighting my own battles. I want a man who can commit. I want a man to love with his whole being and reserve nothing. I want a man who will put up with my experiments and my sense of humor. I want a man who can appreciate that I am not his mother and I shall not be treated as such. I expect a man to know that I am not his keeper or his jailer, and to never suggest that I am. I expect a man to let me be me. I want him to be strong so that I don't always have to be. I want a man who can be honest. I want a man who I can trust. I want Colin Firth, Tim Allen, Mel Gibson, George W. Bush, and the typical farm boy all rolled into one.
Lucky for me, I found my man. I don't have everything I expect from myself yet, but I've got time to get that all worked out. But, the simple answer is: Women want it all.
Sly Sylvester, that incredibly rude radio "personality" has previously called Colin Powell an "Uncle Tom" and Condi Rice an "Aunt Jemimah" for what he sees as their subservient roles in the administration. I've ranted on this before. Oh, and just as a reminder, this guy tends to "apologize" when his antics get him in the media, but his "apologies" are not sincere, not apologies, and tend to be more of the same asinine stupidity, like the original offending comments.
Well, he's doing his best to stir the pot again. I don't know, maybe it is radio sweeps week or something. Recently, he suggested that Alderwoman Robbie Webber should be raped by somebody like Kobe Bryant. The jerk won't release a tape of his comments, so his exact words are unknown, but the gist is this: She refused an invitation to come on his show, so he suggested she was too uptight, and needed a little violent action over a chair. He is supposed to apologize on air, but we all know what this really means. He's going to "apologize" without any sincerity or actual real apology and turn the apology into another media feeding frenzy to garner the spotlight for himself yet again.
What is it about this guy? Does he just love being an ass? He is incredibly insensitive to those of us who have actually survived sexual violence. He's a mouth-breathing knuckle-dragging barbarian. I would suggest that he deserves a little of what he's advocating for this woman. If he'd like to try it out, I'm sure we can find a lonely convict to be his date.
To add insult to injury, with his apology he is donating $100 to the Rape Crisis Center. $100? That's chump change. That doesn't even keep this bozo in Ho-hos.
I wouldn't be surprised if this guy is just a woman-hater in his normal life. Some girl dumped him and he has never gotten over it. Why else would he advocate violence against some woman for simply not wanting to participate in his circle jerk?
It is sad really. Instead of using his powers for good, he instead works for evil. He works to lessen the horror of sexual assault by bringing it into the mainstream and suggesting that if that violence is at the hand of some celebrity, ...why, you ought to be grateful for the privelege. This is patently irresponsible!
Please excuse me if I don't buy into that particular brand of horseshit. Sexual violence...RAPE...is not something pretty. It certainly isn't funny. And, under no circumstances should anyone advocate it as a remedy for someone else's behavior simply because you think they need to relax. Let's be perfectly clear: there is NOTHING relaxing about rape. Is there anything relaxing about getting the crap beaten out of you? Same thing. The bruises on the outside may heal, but the internal emotional scars take years to correct.
This guy is little more than a hate advocate. He casually suggests violence be visited on someone. I despise this feeble-brained, ignorant, pestilential, and morally repugnant degenerate. I don't honestly know why anybody listens to him. (But then, I don't understand the appeal of Howard Stern either.)
However, I would suggest that before he go advocating remedies, he try them out himself first. Just to be clear, I'm not advocating violence against him. I'm merely suggesting he try a slice of the same pie of which he speaks so highly.
File this in the who cares category, I guess. It seems that the media won't be there for the wedding, again drawing another comparison between this union and the other.
I still don't like her, for the record, but seeing as how I'm not a British Subject...(hey, Dad, heavy emphasis on the Subject) my opinion doesn't count for much. I still say she has the face of a horse and the charm of an anchor.
Saturday, Prince Charming and I went down to the big Surprise Party for his mother's 60th birthday. Despite the fact that the party didn't start until 6:30 p.m., we had to be there at 1 p.m. I don't know why. We ended up sitting on our thumbs for the better part of 4 hours. What a waste of time. I could have been cleaning house!
So, much as I suspected, the surprise wasn't a surprise. She did a decent job of faking it though. Of course, since they told her it was a surprise party for her brother-in-law's birthday and asked her to bring the potato salad, you would have thought that they could get it done. Unfortunately, they played it up a little too much, and that was clue #1. Clue #2 is the fact that the purported recipient of the party, namely the brother-in-law, was already a surprised party at one of the previous surprise parties I mentioned before. Even in this family you don't surprise the same person twice in the same year. Clue #3 is the fact that the brother-in-law, a.k.a. the decoy, had his birthday several weeks ago. Clue #4...and this is the doozy...was when someone came up to her earlier in the week and apologized for missing her party.
Of course, my prince and I had planned to not stay overnight. We've not had much time at home lately, so we wanted to sleep in our own bed. That revelation earned us the opprobrium and censure of the whole bunch. Give me a break, people! As it was, we did the dishes for the little shindig and then drove home. We were in bed a little after midnight.
I just have a few more complaints to share. First, the food sucked. Too much salad dressing and mayonnaise present. Second, the meat that they had catered...sucked. It was over-cooked. Third, that freakin' cake I had to pick up and pay for? It was dry and cost more than my wedding cake. As it was, the children had to split the cost of the party. Which, by the way, means that based on our quarter share of the cost, the party also cost more than my wedding reception.
Ah, the things we do for love.
Note to the guilt-trippers: We might come to visit more often if you strived to make the visits more pleasant and less like an indictment.
Feisty Christina posts today about a situation involving technology-induced confusion leading her...astray. So I thought I'd share a similar story.
A long, long time ago, my sister (the secret agent) and I went to Cancun. We went on this pirate ship cruise thingy where they get you drunk on (we discovered later, much to our intestinal chagrin) watered-down drinks.
So, we were a mite bit into the wind. Typical. Anyway, we went together in search of the ladies room. We discovered the archaic facilities and availed ourselves of their use. We noticed a beautiful fountain in the foyer of this women's retiring room, and remarked what a pleasant and unusual addition it was to this sort of place. We noticed right off, though, that the water wasn't running in it and figured they must turn off the fountain by some certain hour. Coming out of the stalls, still drunk, we are alarmed at the presence of men in the lady's room. We remarked in some saucy manner that the drunken louts ought to find their own space.
Which is when they got all affronted and assured us that we were the ones in the wrong place. Hence the urinal (what we thought was a fountain) in the middle of the room. Then he showed us outside of the chamber (which had no door) that there was a long explanation written in Spanish of where to find the women's room. Like we were sober enough to figure that out! I still say, that was the fanciest urinal I've ever seen. Seriously! It looked like a fountain!
So, Christina, I know exactly where you are coming from. Only, of course, I was drunk and therefore the mortification was much less pronounced.
It is snowing here again. I am so tired of this white stuff. People see one tiny flake and they cut their usual highway speed in half, no matter what the roads are like. This morning, the roads were just fine. There was snow flying, but nothing had actually acumulated yet. Despite this, the cars in front of me decided 25 mph in a 55 mph zone was more than adequate.
We have a bicameral legislature (2-house system). We have a government consisting of three branches, Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary, for the purpose of checking each other's power. All this I know from 8th grade. Our liberal tour operator was kind enough to point out not only Larry King's office on the tour, but also his home address. He must be a fan.
Which brings me to the Fourth Estate, or the power of the press in our government. I am convinced that they weild a mighty big stick and there is absolutely no doubt any more that they have a definite agenda that they promote with that stick. More troublesome indeed, is the fact that media conglomerations lead to only one message from a particular outlet. And, what with there being few major networks/papers etc. out there, mostly run by liberals, they all agree on the message and are working together.
What bothers me is that in our government, the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court limit each other's power, but what check, what balance exists to temper the power of the Fourth Estate?
Is the simple fact that they have been without real competition - intellectual competition, not ratings or circulations - the reason why they have been caught with their pants down in the Memogate and Jayson Blair fiascos? I only bring this up because they have claimed this power for themselves, claim to be a part of the government and work for the people, but in reality they fall far short of this.
Are there good and balanced reporters out there? Of course! But the major media and its liberal agenda out-shouts anything a "fair and balanced" reporter might have to say. The fair and balanced goes through the major media funnel, and somehow the liberal agenda comes out first and the balancing bits get lost in the footnotes.
So, it begs the question: Who checks the Fourth Estate and keeps them honest?
So, my secret agent sister and I met in DC over the weekend. I have so much to blog about, this post will likely ramble quite a bit. I've tried to head each topic so you can skip to what interests you.
Flight Out: My flight from Madison to Detroit was remarkably uneventful. The plane was merely stopping in Detroit to pick up additional passengers, but they made me deplane anyway. Argh. At least they let me back on the plane first. So, I got to watch as all the other passengers boarded. I hate to admit it to you, but my radar picked up a strong suspicious signal. I watched two 20-something men, middle eastern in appearance, board the plane. They didn't speak to each other or anybody else. The one guy was reading a book on Islam. So, I watched him closely, poor guy. I was just being smart, I hope. Nothing happened.
In a strange series of coincidences, I was seated on the flight from Detroit to BWI between a nice man who had attended UW-Eau Claire and a young lady (currently living in Dallas) who is from Cassville, WI and likely knows my husband's family. (Small towns being what they are.) The three of us chatted like old pals and the flight flew by.
Spy Museum: On Saturday, my sister and I headed over to the International Spy Museum. We had a blast! We stayed for 5 hours and learned so much. I could have stayed another 2 hours! If you are going to be in DC, I highly recommend not missing this one. We went through the special exhibit, "The Enemy Within", and also through the regular exhibit. I particularly liked the information on the Revolutionary War and the Sisterhood of Spies. Zola's wasn't open yet, so we had a late lunch at the Brewery across the street. It was really good. From there, we went shopping in Georgetown (we had intentions of going to the Holocaust Museum, but alas, it was too late). Ladies, it appears that Purple is the new Pink. What a shame.
Monument Onslaught: On Sunday, we got up early and took the metro over to the capitol. We snapped pictures then walked down to the Washington Monument. It is currently under construction, so we couldn't get too close, but still...it was amazing! Then we hightailed it over to the new WWII memorial. It is breathtaking! It is powerful and moving and poetic. I saw people crying. My favorite part was the 4000 gold stars that represent those who gave their lives. Beneath the stars it reads, "Here we mark the price of freedom." From there, we went and took some pictures at the Jefferson Memorial, then back to the Lincoln. We wrapped up our tour by walking to the White House by way of the Vietnam Wall. Needless to say, all that walking really worked up an appetite. But that didn't stop us! No. We took the metro to Pentagon City and did the mall. Then we had lunch and shopped some more.
DC after Dark: Later that same evening, we made our way over to the Willard Hotel where we were supposed to pick up the bus to take us on the DC after Dark Tour. I had purchased the tickets online. I had actual tickets in hand that directed us to arrive at the Willard 15 minutes before the scheduled pick-up, which was listed as 7:05 pm. We arrived at 6:20 pm. So we waited on the bench next to the lit awning. We waited and waited and waited. Finally, no bus having arrived, I asked the doorman. He sent me to see the concierge, who told me "no problem." Only, 10 minutes later at 7:15 there was still no bus. So we called the tour company and they denied any knowledge of us. Some conversation ensued, but we were assured that they would send out a bus.
It seems that we were supposed to call and confirm that we needed a bus. I didn't see this important step on our tickets. Everything seemed clear cut to me. It told us where to be and when, and had a very long paragraph entitled "Important Information" that held dire warnings if you were not at the appropriate place at the appropriate time, or if you failed to bring your e-ticket. Well, it turns out that on page 2 they tell you to call and confirm 24-48 hours in advance of the tour. Gee. This seems like something that should be listed as item #1 under the "Important Information" section. I was more than a little peeved. I mean, we had a time, a destination, and a ticket. And we still need to call? List first things first, folks. The bus finally did arrive and it took us to...another bus.
This bus drove us around to all of the sights and the driver pointed out lots of buildings. He also chose to use our interest against us and proceeded to harp on and on about the plight of the homeless in Our Nation's Capitol, and what a disgrace it is. He pointed out all of the homeless hot spots. His agenda lessened my enjoyment considerably. He managed to point out the White House and gave it all of 4 seconds of his attention. Then he assured us, we were in for a real "treat". He proceeded to walk us through the FDR memorial and explain all of the symbolism in each room. I gather he is a HUGE fan of FDR...and Social Security. We spent 45 minutes at the FDR. We didn't spend that much time at the Lincoln and Jefferson combined!
Waiting on the bus for the next leg of our journey, my sister and I were trapped in the middle of a lengthy liberal tirade, party of three. Once again, our liberal-agenda'd tour guide chose to expound on Social Security reform. The two baby-boomers seated behind my sister and I joined into the Bush Bashing. "Bush is trying to destroy all that this country has built!" Shrieked one. "Privatization will bankrupt us!" Shrieked the other. My sister and I sat there...seething. These people continued to blame the President for the problems with Social Security. One member of this brain trust claimed that if he can't find time to keep track of his money market account, and took a real beating a year ago, we can't really expect other people to keep track of their retirement funds in a private account. He said that it was too difficult. My sister and I tried to distract each other from what we were being bombarded with so as to keep from going off. Here is what I would have said, had conditions been more neutral:
Look, you are a baby-boomer and it is your generation and the giant number of you that are becoming eligible for benefits that are taxing the system. You can't expect Social Security to be your saving grace. A responsible person would be investing and saving for the future, like the ant instead of the grasshopper. And, grasshopper, just because YOU can't keep track of your investments, does not mean that the rest of us are incapable of doing so. I track the value of my 401K daily, yes, DAILY, because I have absolutely no expectation that Social Security will be around when I get to be your age. As such, I am doing the responsible thing and providing for my own future. Forgive me, then, if I resent having to pay into a system that will never pay out. I resent that my children will likely pay into the system too, and will be the second generation to pay in and not benefit. Partial privatization is a good-faith thing to do. Social security makes next to no return on investment. It is little better than using your mattress. However, perhaps allowing some of us to take a part of our funds and invest them someplace with some growth-potential might go a long way toward shutting up those of us who are vocal about paying into a pyramid scheme. You are a selfish, selfish man. Yeah, yeah, "Bush lied, people died" I know. But maybe...just maybe, we all have to take a little responsibility for ourselves. The Democrats have been screaming about the need to fix Social Security for years. Bush comes up with a plan and all you have to say is "he's trying to destroy all that this country has built"? No, sir, that would be the agenda of the Terrorists. Those of us in gen-X and gen-Y would prefer you got off of your high horse and put the shoe on the other foot.
Needless to say, I said none of this. I just seethed. My sister and I agreed that this was the best path forward.
We finally escaped from the Liberal Tour. Thank heaven!
From Kathy, comes this little meme. (I'm trying to catch up on what I missed while gone).
Ten Things I've Done But You Probably Haven't
1. In Grinch fashion, I have ruined Christmas for multiple children. 2. I have ridden in the largest hot air balloon East of the Mississippi from Canada to Florida (13 passengers). 3. I've attended a George Strait concert all by myself...because none of my "super-cool" friends would go to a country concert. "Eeewww!" 4. I have attained my CCA designation, passing both exams on the first attempt (something my boss failed to do, much to her chagrin. Don't worry, she punished me for it later.) 5. I turned $5.00 into $1,600.00. A couple of years ago I bought a raffle ticket for a "Relay for Life" Cancer function. I had never won anything before, and I haven't won anything since, but that $5.00 investment won me the 2nd prize: a handmade, Cherry China Cabinet. 6. I earned the insulting sobriquet "Antichrist" from some friends for daring to suggest that my parents had sent me to college to get an education, not to participate in 8 "bible studies" per week. Chemistry and Entomology came first with me, hence, I am the Antichrist. 7. I caught step-father #2 in flagrante delicto, on Christmas Eve. 8. I organized a strike at the ripe old age of 8. The strike only lasted a couple of hours...but the protest was fruitful as our demands were met. 9. I've changed my own oil, and got so oil-soaked in the process nobody ever made me do it again. 10. I've gotten lost in a corn field. (Very ashamed of this one)
Everybody is blogging about this article, written by Declan McCullagh for cNet.
Apparently Bradley Smith of the FEC says that the days of political bloggers are numbered. The first issue, apparently, is about these sites linking to campaign websites. A secondary issue has to do with email.
What a quagmire. It is clear as mud. After reading the article, I'm so pissed I can't see straight. So, skip the rest of the following rant if you want.
First, I'll damn well do as I wish. The Constitution protects my speech and that of all citizens. It is a natural right. If the KKK can peacefully march through a Jewish neighborhood advocating their thoughts, I'll be damned if they are going to prohibit me from posting my thoughts on line. Anti-war protestors can call soldiers who died in defense of this country "Baby Killers" and other horrifying things, and that is protected speech, so why not me? Merely because a few hundred people read what I write each week? That's crap! Several thousand might hear me if I did it on a soapbox in the street.
Here's another thing. I can put a sign in my yard either supporting or opposing some candidate or issue, and that is protected. I can volunteer hundreds of hours of my time to a candidate and this is not a problem. But, if I go online and call John Kerry a poseur, a flaming liberal, a liar, hypocrite, or gun-grabber, I've crossed some mysterious line.
That is bullshit!
If I were to write an editorial in the newspaper, that would be protected and alright. But not on a blog.
I do not get paid for what I write. Nobody ever asks or directs me to write on a particular subject. Nobody important even knows who I really am. Yes, I have been known to endorse a particular candidate, but that is my right as an American Citizen under the Constitution of the United States. I do not beg donations or get paid in services or favors. I am the quintessential nameless, faceless, opinionated American Woman. Nobody is required to read my site. It is the same as the people who are not required to listen to protestors on the street.
You know what? Come and get me. You will not stiffle my dissent or prevent me from voicing my opinions. I will engage in the political discourse as I see fit. If you attempt to stop me...well, you had better be wearing protective gear. You shall not stop me. I will fight this all the way to the Supreme Court, do you hear me? Do you punk? I will call politicians knuckle-draggers if I like. I will call them idiots or mouth-breathers or cowards if I like. Nothing some idiotic bureaurat dictates is going to matter to me one bit.
Sue me. Go ahead and fucking try. I am spectacular when provoked to my full extent of righteous indignation. Come and get me you cocksuckers! I am a direct descendant of the people who have sweated blood for this country. I know all about revolution. If this government does not serve us, by God, We will make us one that will.
I will not bow to some Big Brother. Come and get me. I'll be waiting for you jack-booted thugs of the FEC. I'll be wearing a pink bow in my hair...and combat boots for kicking your lily-livered asses.
I have blogged before about my own battles with Customer Service. Sarak K has a hilarious post up on this very subject. When you get done reading that, click over to my battle. It was back in my blogging infancy, when I vanquished villain #1.
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The eldest son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was plotting to overthrow his father just as US troops advanced on Baghdad in March 2003, journalist Peter Arnett claimed in Playboy Magazine.
Uday had planned to announce his seizure of the crumbling reins of power later the same day, but was thwarted when US jets bombed his Youth TV studios in Baghdad, according to Arnett.
(insert maniacal laughter here)
... According to Arnett, the oldest son of the Iraqi dictator had long been chafing under his father's iron fisted rule and blamed his father for the punishing international sanctions on the country.
"Though it has not been reported until now, Uday Hussein was the biggest proponent of regime change inside Iraq," Arnett wrote.
I think Uday would be glad to know that no longer does Iraq suffer under the "iron fisted rule" of his father, that they have had free elections, and are charting their own course to the future. Wish granted, Uday.
I, known to my family as the Younger Wordsmith scored the following:
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 66% Expert!
You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.
In Jada Pinkett-Smith's recent visit she gave a talk about relationships. Some were offended because what she had to say was too "heteronormative", or concerned male-female relationships.
Here's the problem as I see it, though. If she is going to talk about something, it should probably be something with which she has some frame of reference. Some experience. Seeing as how she seems to be hetero, this is probably a good fit for her.
“Our position is that the comments weren’t homophobic, but the content was specific to male-female relationships,” Woods said.
Suppose she had spoken on a more sweeping topic. Would they have then villified her for talking about something of which she knows nothing? So now they are taking offense where none was given and none was intended? Sheesh!
Last night in a commercial break during Alias, I saw a preview for that show where two families swap moms. The next episode features a very patriotic (Republican-looking gun-owners) family swapping with a peace-loving hippie-type lefty family big on protests.
For me, one exchange summed up why the left turns me off:
Republican Mom: You are such a teenager!
Hippie Son of Hippie Mom: YOU ARE SUCH AN IGNORANT AMERICAN!
Arthur Chrenkoffposts about this article in which the EU announces plans to move from just a political power to a military superpower, closing the gap with the US on defense technology. They want to give us a run for our money!
I don't honestly think they'll ever get it done. There appear to be too many obstacles. For one,
EU members such as Ireland and Sweden fear their traditional neutrality is being threatened, while in Britain there has been concern that the initiative will undermine NATO and its close military relationship with the US.
That used to being protected by the biggest umbrella in the land are not likely to give up that protection easily.
I have further doubts as to whether or not those peace-loving Euros are going to subsidize this grand extravaganza of goals. I have a feeling that a people who don't feel the need to work more than 34 hours a week will be disinclined to pay the taxes that this effort will require. And it won't come cheap! They don't have just a technology gap, but I suspect an infrastructure and people gap as well.
And, since this military might presupposes that the individual nations can come to an accord on foreign policy, it additionally looks bad. I don't know how a region that has been historically fraught with war, has nations that are now ready to give their sovereignty over to a committee. A common currency is one thing...but I think this is a bit much to expect, given the still young nature of the EU.
Let us not forget that these nations are not necessarily banding together because of a threat, and I think that is a critical point. A mutual external military threat would go along way toward creating consensus. But as I understand it, European nations face more internal issues from Muslim extremists that are now citizens, than they do from external forces. The EU leaders (with the notable exception of some) have recently portrayed a laissez-faire attitude to world issues, at least fixing them anyway.
What changes if they have a fleet of tanks and bombers? Nothing. They are still bleeding internally and are unable to staunch the flow for lack of funds. Back to the money. They'll be spending a lot on this new military endeavor, therefore not spending the cash on intelligence and other issues that might make more sense given current world threats and their own continuing internal problems.
I wonder if this really isn't about them feeling better about themselves. You know, sort of an incredibly expensive makeover in the image of those they wish to emulate (the USA, even though they would never admit it).
The other issue in this is that the EU wants to lift an arms embargo on China. (That would be one way to help pay for all that new stuff.) Unfortunately, the US Congress has a big problem with this.
The US Congress has warned it will consider retaliatory trade action against European countries that start selling military technology to China, a move Washington fears would threaten Taiwan and US troops in the region.
Resuming arms sales to China "is a non-starter with Congress", Joseph Biden, senior Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, said after a meeting with Mr Bush.
Republican senator Richard Lugar said that if the embargo were lifted, Congress might impose "a prohibition on a great number of technical skills and materials, or products, being available to Europeans".
The First Five Movie/TV Quotes that come into your head (must be from different movies/shows).
1. "My, my. It is hawt. Thank gawd it's not stickay. I just hate it when it's stickay. Listen ta silly me! A stickay desert! Why, that's as foolish as an intelligent woman! Gawd I miss Tara." - Casey Meadows in My Chauffeur.
2. "With all dead, all you can do is go through the pockets and look for loose change." Miracle Max in The Princess Bride.
3."Attention K-Mart Shoppers! Snow shovels are on sale..." Robin Monroe in Six Days, Seven Nights
4. "Because it reads better." Desmond in Jake Speed
5. "...you had rambled on for 18 pages. Front and back!! Oh-oh-oh, and by the way, Y-O-U-apostrophe-R-E means ‘you are,’ Y-O-U-R means ‘your!’" Ross, 1st episode of Season 4, Friends. (Kathy, this one is for you and your bugaboos.)