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, December 09, 2005
So cute
Posted by Lis Riba at 9:55 PM

Boopsie was asleep at the end of the bed and dreaming. I just love to watch as her paws twitch while she's in the REM state. [Yes, I've read the Sandman story.].

Ian just walked to the kitchen, which woke her. But it was adorable while it lasted...

Home safe
Posted by Lis Riba at 5:10 PM

Given the winter weather, work closed at 2:15 pm. By the time I cleared the snow off my car and got out of the parking lot, it was 2:30. I got home at 4:45. The first hour of driving was white-knuckle whiteout conditions. At 3:30, I had to pull over into a gas station because the ice had piled up so badly on my hood that the windshield wipers got stuck. I spent a few minutes re-cleaning all four sides of my car (the snow had been falling faster than my rear-window defrost could keep up with, so I had minimal visibility in the rear, too). When I got back on the road, the snow was easing up. Soon, it stopped snowing, but the road was bumper-to-bumper and barely moving.

As I said, I got home 4:45. My legs are killing me and I think I may nap...

PS (added later): Forgot to add one more harrowing aspect of the drive home. About 45 minutes into it, one of the idiot lights on the dash went on. Nothing serious; I think it indicates that one of our lights is burned out, but I have no idea which. Still, when I can barely see the taillights of the vehicle two car-lengths ahead of me, that's not a pleasant thought...

Thursday, December 08, 2005
I have committed filk
Posted by Lis Riba at 9:25 PM

Forgive me.

What's worse than an earworm? An earworm for a filk to which you'd only come up with one line*.

But ever since Elizabeth Bear quoted Kenny Loggins' "Return to Pooh Corner" I haven't been able to get it out of my head.

So naturally, I had to write the rest.

I know I'm not that talented musically. What's worse, I've never actually heard the original song.

But with the help of Ian and midi recordings of the "melody" I finally put it together.

And now I'm inflicting it on you.

So, without further ado:

Back to the days of Christopher Marlowe

Words: © 2005 by Lis Riba
Music: "Return to Pooh Corner" by Kenny Loggins


Christopher Marlowe and I walked along
In a London lit up by the moon.
Writing his stories for groundlings and lords
As his days disappeared far too soon...
But he's wandered much further today past the verge,
And I can't seem to find my way back from this dirge.

So help him if you can,
He's got to get back
To Henslowe's theatre by one.
You'd be surprised
There's so much to be done:
Write some more lines in blank verse.
Say stuff the church finds perverse.
Back to the days of Christopher Marlowe (adieu)

Barabas the Jew doesn't know what to do;
Got a nunnery in his old home.
Both Dido and Ed want a man in their bed,
And the Devil took Faust off to Rome.
So Kit went to Deptford, saw old widow Bull.
And if she doesn't help him then nobody will.

So help him if you can,
He's got to get back
To Henslowe's theatre by one.
You'd be surprised
There's so much to be done:
Write some more plays on these themes.
Chase down the papists from Rhiems.
Back to the days of Christopher Marlowe (adieu)

It's hard to explain how a man might be killed
Fighting over their shares of the bill.
That such a crowd-pleaser would end up with Frizer,
Not to mention old Poley and Skeres.
But they swore that the struggle was just self-defense,
Even though looking closely it seems all pretense.

Believe them if you can,
He's got to get back
To the Privy Council each day.
You'd be surprised
There's so much left to say:
Write some more poems and rhymes.
Dispute the slanders and slimes.
Back to the days of Christopher Marlowe...
Back to the days of Christopher Marlowe...
Back to the deja vu...

Dedicated to Elizabeth Bear and my husband.

So that's what I've accomplished this evening.
How are you?

Short, sweet, and (rarely) to the point
Posted by Lis Riba at 6:51 PM

So many things I've been meaning to write; so little time.

I've been trying to post more shorter entries rather than trying to get all articulate and thematic about things.

What do you think?

My apologies to LiveJournal readers who get the posts all in a clump. LJ used to syndicate like clockwork, but that broke around the time of last January's meltdown and they've never gotten it fixed since. Last time I sent in a support question, they replied that feed use has increased beyond expected capacity and updating hasn't been a priority. The "Next check:" on the info page is a wholly imaginary number with no basis in reality. Ideally, LJ should probably use one of the pinging services which indicate updates as a supplement to by-the-clock aggregation... But I haven't had time to write up a new support suggestion. [Please, be my guest...]

Anyway, relatively new blogger Glenn Greenwald on why blogging is harder than it looks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Last night I had the strangest dreams...
Posted by Lis Riba at 7:30 PM

Dream 1

FOX preempted House for some special, so my subconscious concocted its own new episode.

Don't remember many details, but instead of diagnosing a live patient, the team faced more of an autopsy-like situation, going through a dead man's house trying to figure out how he died. Foreman's role had been replaced by Chandler Bing/Matthew Perry, whose snarky humor actually worked well with Hugh Laurie's biting quips. I remember they found several bottles of AZT, which I thought might be a red herring, since I thought that had been supplanted as an AIDS treatment by newer medications. Oh, and Chase decided to sample some of the illegal drugs they found (and had a bad reaction), so when Cuddy showed up, the rest of the team had to hide this from her.

Dream 2

First, the reality. A few days ago, I came across a blog post making generalizations about societal assumptions about women's sexuality, based in part upon the popularity in male porn of “lesbian” acts.
I've been arguing back that the increasing openness of male-male imagery in pornographic material by and for women, such as slash or bishonen, means we have to be even more careful about making generalizations about either gender based on porn. Separate which aspects apply solely to males from elements which may be more universal preferences.*

Anyway, in my dream, this blogger had made a new post complaining that Atrios had sent anti-feminist trolls to disrupt the discussion and linked to some of my comments. And I was trying to figure out how to defend myself. Nobody sent me here! I found the post all on my own through feministblogs.org! And why would they think Atrios is the enemy?

<shakes head>

Clearly, my subconscious needs to get out more.


*There's a research study in there somewhere, comparing and contrasting (1) female-female porn intended for male audience [XX->Y], (2) female-female porn intended for females [XX->X], (3) male-male porn intended for males [YY->Y], and (4) male-male porn intended for females [YY->X]. Possibly include some matrix for the creators' gender as well.

I suspect we'll see a lot of commonalities between groups 1 & 4 (XX->Y & YY->X). Based on women's criticism of male-oriented porn and gay male critiques of slash, I get the impression that these are less realistic and often portray the subjects with attributes associated with the audience's gender [Women in XX->Y too aggressively singlemindedly focused on sex; men in YY->X too emotional and relationship-driven.]

I'd love to see the results, but the process of compiling them doesn't interest me.

Cool use of blogs
Posted by Lis Riba at 6:02 PM

On election day 2002, the New Hampshire Republican Party hired a telemarketing firm to jam the phonelines of a Democratic get-out-the-vote operation. [Josh Marshall has been all over this case since the beginning.]

Well, the trial of James Tobin opened this week in New Hampshire, and Betsy Devine is in the courtroom and blogging it.

Talk about your eyewitness news!

[via Universal Hub]

Added later: Another eyewitness sent Marshall their observations.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
Posted by Lis Riba at 6:00 PM
YOU ARE RULE 12(b)!

While you might be a defendant's best friend, you
aren't exactly polite to others. You have
seven separate grounds on which to dismiss a
plaintiff's case. You are a bit paranoid,
since if you fail to raise your 12(b)(2,3,4, or
7) in a motion or a pleading with one of the
other 12(b) defenses or a 12(e) motion, you
waive those objections for the rest of trial.
Some might say that 12(b) is the biggest bully
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but
hey, somebody needs to keep the peace. You
might not be the most popular guy in the
office, but you're probably the most important.

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Via kightp

Of course, since I'm not actually a lawyer, I looked up Rule 12. Wikipedia had the clearest explanation (assuming it can be trusted): "Rule 12(b) describes pretrial motions that can be filed."

Any law experts care to shed a little more light on the subject, or am I right in thinking this accuses me of being overly pedantic.

Two nations divided...
Posted by Lis Riba at 5:59 PM

Another difference between the U.S. and U.K.

We put Thanksgiving in soda:

This year's Jones Soda Holiday Pack features "the traditional Turkey & Gravy Soda with 4 side dishes, Wild Herb Stuffing Soda, Brussels Sprout Soda, Cranberry Soda, and Pumpkin Pie Soda"

They put Christmas in pie:

The legendary Full Turkey Roast pie contains "[s]ucculent roast turkey, with mini roast potatoes, chipolatas, sprouts, stuffing, and juicy cranberries in delicious gravy."

Thought inspired by the Londonist, which reported on the latter.

Unusual takes on familiar stories
Posted by Lis Riba at 5:54 PM

As long as I'm posting my Bond pastiche, several friends have committed fanfic recently, which I wish to share:

• "Elusive Wisdom" is a Firefly AU, written around the premise "What if Shepherd Book were Jewish?"
[Spoilers for "Serenity (pilot)," "Jaynestown," "Objects in Space," and Serenity (the movie)]

Why they don't let Bear write comic books is fairly self-explanatory

And, well, this is neither fannish nor fiction, but a poem involving a preexisting character (from Greek mythology). I hope she won't mind being associated with these others.

"Is this the face?" by Jo Walton


And, because I just can't let it rest (everything has associations) Works in Words of One Beat. New submissions may be found in this LiveJournal post, this thread on Making Light (with lots of great adds) and now, its own dedicated LiveJournal community: [info]wordsofonebeat.

Hmm...

Come live with me and be my love,

Almost too easy...

PPS: On a similar topic, since Narnia is all over the news, may I strongly recommend finding Neil Gaiman's short story "The Problem of Susan"? Susan's fate is a particularly troublesome topic to many readers, and Gaiman handles it adroitly.
You can find it in Flights: extreme visions of fantasy and Year's best fantasy 5 (and it's well worth the latter designation).

Bond Offering
Posted by Lis Riba at 5:45 PM

Last week, I shared the quote:

Dick Cheney is one persian cat short of being a James Bond villain.

In response, pleonastic piranha created this marvelous peecture:

Dick Cheney with a persian cat; click to enlarge

And that got me thinking...

Extraordinary rendition sounds like a James Bond title!

James Bond: Extraordinary Rendition...

The movie starts with Bond on the trail of an international terrorist. He stops for the obligatory dalliance with some willing miss, but when he resumes his pursuit, the suspect appears to have vanished without a trace. American agents tell him the suspect fled the country.* He contacts MI-5 asking permission to follow, but M orders him back home.

When he returns, M is accompanied in her briefing by a senior American official, an African-American woman named Candi Vice. They inform Bond that over the last year, dozens of suspected terrorists have disappeared under suspicious circumstances. They suspect that a mutual enemy regime has been recruiting these evildoers as part of some nefarious scheme. Bond is paired up with a vivacious American agent, and together they set off to uncover the plot.

Bond and his American counterpart adventure in exotic lands, but somehow things don't quite add up. Then Bond gets a little too close for comfort and is kidnapped.

When the drugs wear off, he finds out that his partner is actually working for the real villains: Heartless Dick, and his close henchwoman, Candi Vice.

Bond has to escape and destroy the villains before they unleash terror and destruction on the Earth. His former partner, a modern Elsa Schneider from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, may actually be seduced into helping him by the end.

I briefly thought Bond could seduce Candi Vice into allegiance (akin to Grace Jones in A View to a Kill) but I rather prefer the notion of giving her takedown to Judi Dench.


Fun story, but unfortunately, it would never fly. Given long Hollywood lead-times, by the time such a film could be made, Cheney's gang would hopefully be long out-of-office. Furthermore, America is too lucrative a market for the producers to risk offending, no matter how ripped from the headlines the story may be.


*Context: Kevin Drum found this news story:

In March 2003, the Italian national anti-terrorism police received an urgent message from the CIA about a radical Islamic cleric who had mysteriously vanished from Milan a few weeks before. The CIA reported that it had reliable information that the cleric, the target of an Italian criminal investigation, had fled to an unknown location in the Balkans.

In fact, according to Italian court documents and interviews with investigators, the CIA's tip was a deliberate lie, part of a ruse designed to stymie efforts by the Italian anti-terrorism police to track down the cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, an Egyptian refugee known as Abu Omar.

The strategy worked for more than a year until Italian investigators learned that Nasr had not gone to the Balkans after all. Instead, prosecutors here have charged, he was abducted off a street in Milan by a team of CIA operatives who took him to two U.S. military bases in succession and then flew him to Egypt, where he was interrogated and allegedly tortured by Egyptian security agents before being released to house arrest.
What's eating you?
Posted by Lis Riba at 12:40 PM

This comic strip is so me. Maybe not the last panel, but I've certainly pondered those questions more than once. I'm not a rules lawyer when I game (I don't tend to take games that seriously), but I... appreciate... precise instructions. Whether or not one chooses to obey, they can make life much easier.

Fortunately, the frozen meals I sometimes rely upon for lunch (the ones on sale at Costco) no longer use that wording, but simply say "Cut film cover to vent." with a nice graphic of a single slice across the center, about 2/3rds to 3/4s the container's width.

Much clearer.

BTW, the instructions conclude:

After cooking, let stand in microwave 1-2 minutes.

Who do they think they're kidding?

Have they ever looked at the microwaves in a typical office kitchen? Not only are there no clocks, but at lunch hour there's often enough of a line that you can't leave food in a microwave unattended...

I assume they want this additional cooking time to pick up any stray microwaves bouncing around the interior, but (as I just said) it's not terribly practical, and I wish they'd come up with some alternative.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Happy workiversary!
Posted by Lis Riba at 8:20 AM

One year ago today I started working at this company. I've had a title change and manager change, and helped see at least three releases out the door.

Here's to many, many more...

Sunday, December 04, 2005
We have met the enemy
Posted by Lis Riba at 12:01 PM

Today's Washington Post has a must-read article titled Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake: German Citizen Released After Months in 'Rendition' about some of the abuses committed in the name of our safety.

Hilzoy points out one of the "erroneous renditions [...] whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations" was "an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade."

And what happened to these people?

Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

I'm giving the final word to Iocaste:

[I]n case you didn't make it to the end, let me highlight the last paragraph:

Masri can find few words to explain his ordeal. "I have very bad feelings" about the United States, he said. "I think it's just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws."

Five years. It only took five years.

My husband is... wicked
Posted by Lis Riba at 11:01 AM

As if I didn't have enough on my plate, yesterday he finally introduced me to Kingdom of Loathing, a free online MMORPG.

So now I'm a fourth-level pastamancer with a mosquito-familiar named Aldrin.

Fortunately, this game limits players to only a certain number of turns per day (though many more on the first day), so hopefully this won't into too much of a timewaster.

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