Riba Rambles:
Musings of a Mental Magpie

About the author: Elisabeth in early 2007, photo by Todd Belf
Elisabeth "Lis" Riba is an infovore with an MLS. This is her place to share whatever's on her mind, on topics both personal and political. [more]
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Friday, February 14, 2003
Happy Valentine's Day
Posted by Lis Riba at 9:15 AM

A guy named Steve created a LiveJournal Valentine system, which send valentine e-mails only if both parties select the other person. Naturally, Ian and I exchanged valentines, and Aargh! "You were also nominated by 1 user(s) who you didn't select." who? Who? WHO? The mystery will drive me mad, MAD I say! (I'm also slightly ticked because when I first filled it out, it was limited to three valentines per person, and there were four people I wanted to send greetings to. Apparently sometime yesterday, they upped the quota to five and I didn't know. Waah.) [Added slightly later: Okay, according to the statistics, 3742 users participated, and there were only 705 matches. Now, there's a surefire way to create a whole lotta LJDrama in a single bound.]

I also sent Ian an ecard for Valentine's Day. I won't violate Darby Conley's copyright by reproducing it here, but you can see the artwork on the original site. I love my husband.

First comes love, eventually comes a baby in the baby carriage. Here's a fun science/genetics news story: Genghis Khan made out like a bandit -- literally!

And for sheer silliness, how about this list of games that are no fun? Grand Theft Amish Buggy, Frogger - the Live Action Role Playing Game, Twister for the colour-blind...

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Funny business
Posted by Lis Riba at 10:16 AM

Not much news of late. Schoolwork is picking up, and I'm focusing more on that then the wider web world. Also, the other day I printed out my main journal page (Monday, February 03 -- Monday, February 10) and I had written 24 pages, not including the two entries of additional rambles. That's a lot of writing.

Last night, the Athenaeum held a special showing of Another Thin Man. As Ian mentions in his journal, also attending was Christopher Kimball of Cook's Illustrated & America's Test Kitchen. Ian got his autograph at the end, and I imagined a very silly parody story...

After being arrested for the murder of his wife, Christopher Kimball escaped from prison to hunt down the real killer -- the one armed man. On the run from the law, Kimball still finds time to help desperate people with their kitchen condundrums:
WOMAN: Oh, no... nothing I cook is turning out and my big dinner party starts in only a few hours!
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: Here, let me help you. What you need to do is...
(later)
WOMAN: Oh, thank you kind stranger! I never would've gotten this done in time without you.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: My pleasure. Just don't forget to lower the temperature midway through.
(doorbell rings)
WOMAN (Offscreen): Lt. Gerard! I'm so glad you were able to stop by while you were in town. Let me get your coat. Dinner's almost ready.
CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL: Drat. I forgot to ask who she invited to dinner. I must get away before he finds me. (leaves through back door)
WOMAN: Where did he go?
LT. GERARD: He escaped my clutches again. But I couldn't possibly leave before I've eaten of this wonderful meal.

And this cat story made me laugh so loudly that tears came to my eyes.

The New York Times has a fun story on the evolution of the Darwin fish, along with a more serious piece on the city's refusal to allow political marches (thanks Jeremy!)

Scary article on the Bush deficit by Eleanor Clift (originally seen on History News Network):

Poring over Bush?s budget documents in his Capitol Hill townhouse one evening this week, [ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee, Kent] Conrad couldn?t believe what he was seeing: mushrooming deficits that peak just when the baby-boom generation begins to retire. That means government spending on Social Security and Medicare will increase when government debt is at its highest.
   ?It is nuts, stone-cold nuts,? Conrad said in an interview with NEWSWEEK. ?And they?re not nuts, and they?re not stupid. They?re smart people, and they know what we know, that the deficit will explode when federal expenditures peak. And that?s when I had this revelation: the only rationale for what they?re doing is that they plan to fundamentally gut Social Security and Medicare.?
...
Conrad is convinced that the debt Bush is piling up will threaten the country?s long-term economic security, and that Social Security and Medicare will not survive. Privately, Republicans say Conrad is right, but with a caveat. Social Security and Medicare cannot survive in their current form. Under the guise of reform, both programs will have to adapt to the budget realities.

And that's about all I have time to write for now. It has now been 513 days since President Bush said all we want is Osama brought to justice, dead or alive, and 312 days since American citizen Jose Padilla was placed in a military prison for an indefinite period of time without charge, trial or due process of law.

PS: Although I set the VCR for Buffy, for some reason it didn't go off and didn't tape the episode. Does anyone have a videotape of last night's Buffy that I could borrow? Pleeease! It's sweeps month!

Monday, February 10, 2003
Can't trust that day
Posted by Lis Riba at 1:16 PM

Oliver Willis found a funny one: A box of pornography addressed to Ashcroft was found at a federal courthouse on Saturday. Officers called in the bomb squad, which exploded the box. I know Ashcroft seems to get a hard-on over being a law-and-order toughguy, but isn't he carrying this fetish a little too far, especially when he's indulging in it on our dime? [I'm trying to avoid the obvious jokes about blow-up dolls, but really, wouldn't handcuffs be sufficient?]

Ooh my. Hesiod has an interesting link about the unemployment numbers. It looks like the Bush administration's fuzzy math goes beyond just budgetary shenanigans.

Daily Kos links to a Washington Post article that says Bush's upcoming push to "appear as concerned ... on the economy ... is a defensive public relations move ... [T]he White House will stage a series of speeches and events designed to show presidential sympathy..." In other words, don't be fooled. It's all an ACT!

Finally, this quiz result should be completely unsurprising to anyone who knows me: What's your sexual appeal?

nerdslut
brought to you by Quizilla

And speaking of thirst for knowledge, I should probably head off for school. Ta for now!

Monday, Monday
Posted by Lis Riba at 7:00 AM

Is it just me, or does Condition Orange sound like a new soft drink?
As usual, Clay Bennett nails it. Yes, it is very similar to South Knox Bubba's graphic. Clay's cartoon has slightly less bite (probably in part because he's got editors to answer to), but will get much wider circulation. I congratulate him on his efforts.

But don't get too worried about that Orange alert. Thinking it through quotes from a Washington Post article: "[O]thers with access to the intelligence upon which the alert was based said it was largely an effort to make sure government officials could not be blamed for not warning Americans, as they were after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. "That's what this whole process is about," said one well-placed intelligence source. They said the information was voluminous but not specific."

Speaking of cartoons, This Modern World's Outrage overload really struck a nerve. I'm trying to maintain an even keel, but sometimes it gets hard to do so. Fortunately(?), I didn't sleep well last night, so the exhaustion is making me calmer about these news stories than I might otherwise be.

In the political news, if you haven't already heard, the organization United for Peace and Justice wants to hold an anti-war march past the United Nations next Saturday (Feb. 15). They've been planning this for a while, but the City of New York refuses to give them the appropriate permits. They're allowed to hold a rally (standing still) but not a march. Ruminate This has some good information about the case. There's also an online petition if you're into such things.[Don't get me started on that stupid New York Sun editorial!
Personally, I'm now regretting my advance purchase of Boskone membership for this weekend, as I think I'd rather go add my face/voice to the crowds.

By the way, that poison factory that Colin Powell was showing all those photos of at the U.N. last week, may not be. The New York Times has also visited the facility. DailyKos also brings up the following point:

[D]uring the press conference this morning from Iraq summing up the two-day meetings between the weapons inspectors and Iraqi officials, it came out that the Iraqis offered to have this technical discussion months ago with the UN to answer unresolved questions since the 1998 inspections ceased. According to General Al Saadi, it was the UN that rejected such face to face meetings with the Iraqis until the inspectors were readmitted; hence the meetings this week. Yet earlier on the Wolf Blitzer Late Edition program on CNN, two of his guests, former inspector David Albright and Ken Pollock, author of The Gathering Storm, said that this late-in-coming effort by Iraq to address these questions and provide documents was a reason to go to war, regardless of whether or not the Iraqis ultimately answer the questions adequately.
In essence, even if the Iraqis ultimately can prove that they have accounted for the post-1998 inventory, the fact that they took so long is enough reason to go in, notwithstanding the fact that the Iraqis just stated, with no contradiction from the inspectors, that they offered to have this technical discussions months ago but were stopped by the UN.

Though I'm trying to find the President's exact wording, Road to Surfdom quotes a CNN article which says "But President Bush, speaking at a Republican retreat in West Virginia, said a change of heart [by Iraq] was "not good enough."" Though it should surprise nobody reading this, this administration seems damned and determined to go to war, no matter what the cost or how flimsy the evidence.

But don't worry about that, the Bush administration is already prepared to capitalize upon victory. No, sorry, we're not talking about plans for ensuring a successful peace, but closer to home.
In the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne writes about Bush's budget. "Conservatives acknowledge that Bush's long-term goal is to reduce the federal government's capacity to act -- yes, to spend -- without saying so publicly. The large tax cuts the president has put on the table, conservative columnist Donald Lambro wrote candidly this week, "are, in effect, Mr. Bush's stealth initiative to curb future spending -- big time." Exactly. And if you look carefully, most of the spending cuts will be in programs for the poor and near-poor." That's unsurprising; I've said it myself.
But look at the political calculations: "Reports out of the White House indicate that the administration hopes to use a quick victory in Iraq to push through this radical agenda." Yeah, that's why we need a war -- so the President can sneak in his far-right agenda while we're either distracted or celebrating. Remember last month's quote from former Bush advisor, John DiIulio: "What you've got is everythingand I mean everythingbeing run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis" [Seen on Thinking it through]

But that's enough politics for now. Let's think happier thoughts:

Road to Surfdom makes a beautifully poetic analogy: I guess if blogging was music it'd be jazz, with its endless borrowing and quoting, riffing and improvisation. It's too loose to be formalised in the way of classical music, or even of pop or rock music, but it nonetheless is not so undiciplined that anything goes.

And Clay Shirky makes some interesting points about the social aspects of weblogging. A while back, I read Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point. I knew then that I wasn't what he calls a Connector, but believe I may be a Maven.

Constitutional law professor Jack Balkin suggests that Eldred v. Ashcroft may not be so bad in the longrun, comparing it to Bowers v. Hardwick from 1986. [Read Part 1 and Part 2.]

So, much of the weekend I spent writing. For those who just joined this journal, in early January I had an idea for a novella-length Harry Potter fanfic. Over Arisia, I outlined the general plot, and I've been gradually filling my steno pad and imagination with notes and dialog-snips and sometimes full-blown scenes. On Sunday, I revised Chapters 1 & 2, and finished off my first draft of Chapter 3. That makes nearly 10,000 words so far, plus another 3,000 or so from later scenes in the story. I feel somewhat silly acknowledging that I write Harry Potter fanfic, but this is the first major fiction I've written since my thesis twelve years ago.

By the way, I'm still trying to fix my e-mail problems. If you get errors sending me e-mails, please let me know through the comments box here. Every time I think I fixed one segment, another starts to go wrong. And if anyone reading this has a strong familiarity with DNS and MX and wants to help me out, I've got a few Delivery Failure messages I could use help deciphering.

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