Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Even CNN has picked up on this threat to internet freedom

"( -- What if the Internet were like cable television, with Web sites grouped like channels into either basic or premium offerings? What if a few big companies decided which sites loaded quickly and which ones slowly, or not at all, on your computer?"

Read all about it here:

Then go here:

Gays responsible for deaths in Iraq

Well, we've heard it before and will certainly hear it again. Members of the religious-right were protesting at a funeral and saying that God is punishing America by killing the soldiers for America's sins; the tolerance of gays among others (video: per

Well, if God were punishing America for its sins, then the whole nation should have long ceased to exist! Just like some other nations on earth, and more so than most, the United States has been responsible for murder and other sins from its inception.

There's nothing that can justify interrupting a family's funeral, even if you think that you are in the moral right. The grief of a family is sacred and should be left to the family and their God.

Also, placing blame on Gays can only lead to domestic hate crimes.

Born in the USA

My dad took me to a little vintage diner for breakfast this morning. While there, I was thinking that I should take my German visitor there in August when he comes to visit, since it's a part of America that foreign tourists usually don't see.

Americans tend to be rather ignorant of other countries and they generally acknowledge their ignorance.

Despite what they may think, Europeans (OK, my experience is primarily with Germans, so my generalizations will be colored by that) tend to be ignorant of the United States too, however, they don't acknowledge it, not even to themselves. It's been my experience that many Europeans come here (or sometimes they stay home) and are sure that they know everything about America before they even get here. What makes them think this? Well, they've seen all the American movies, and everyone knows that if it's on TV, it must be real! I talked to one guy, who was studying in Mad.ison, WI, and he said that before coming to America, he had decided that he was going to carry a can of mace, because everyone knows that America is so dangerous (with shootouts happening every minute and muggings on every corner - this part is a bit of explanatory embellishment from me). Of course, he realized that it wasn't an issue in a town like Madison. Another person I talked to is a woman who came to the USA from Austria as a student and is now an American citizen. Whenever she goes home, people there tell her all about America, based on what they've read and seen on the news. When she tries to explain the reality to them, they say that she has been corrupted too much by the American system and just can't recognize the truth.

There are also a lot of stereotypes that just kinda annoy me, because similar behavior exists on both sides of the ocean, but is judged differently if it happens here or there. For example, I had some German students over for supper and they insisted that Americans always eat fast food. I, for one, hardly ever eat at a McDonalds or Burger King, although I have both within a block of where I live, and they're all over campus. However, these German students lived on campus, so they were surrounded by students, a group of people much more likely to eat burgers and pizza than just about any other. Of course, I had to mention to the Germans that McDonalds and Burger King and Pizza Hut wouldn't have franchises in Germany if no one ate there. Also, I know a married couple (American woman, German man), in which the woman now goes for fast food more often than she did ever before, because her GERMAN husband wants fast food. The Germans of course commented that not that many Germans eat fast food. Then I asked them about their Döner (like a Gyro), pizza, and bratwurst consumption, to which one immediately responded, "but that's tradition!" Yeah. Germans, especially students, eat junk food too. Don't let them pull that Americans and their fast food line on you.

I live in the middle of dairy country, and I actually had a German student, who had been here, staying with my family for three months tell me that I ‘didn’t even know where milk came from, and thought it came from a bottle’. There’s just this idea that Americans have no connections with nature or non-processed reality. (We didn’t get it straight from the cow at her place in Germany either; they sell it in tetra paks so that you can keep it on the shelf.)

Germans also get uppity about the average American driving everywhere. When I was in Germany, I used a lot of public transit. Things were also very close together (think medieval foot traffic), so getting on a bus or a train usually gets you somewhere in a reasonable amount of time. In America, things are built so far apart that it can take forever to get across town. Also, in Germany, the shops are small and close together, so you can easily walk from one shop to the other. In America, you practically need a taxi (just a bit of exaggeration) to get from Home Depot at one end of the shopping center, past Office Depot, Rainbow Foods, PetSmart, and The Party Supply Store to Target. The individual stores themselves here tend to be built as big as many German town squares. Sorry…you just can’t walk or bike everywhere here. The cities are built around the freeways and everything is designed for cars, so even if you choose to be environmentally friendly and to walk, ride bike, or take a bus, it just isn’t always possible, unless you have all day to get where you’re going and back (assuming you’re in a large enough city to have a bus system). You can walk for hours and never get out of the industrial park. On the other hand, there are also some really nice parks and stuff for recreation. So, yes it's a societal flaw that we allow our cities to be built in such a manner, but there's not much that the individual can do about it.

So, all I am saying is that people who aren't from here should avoid making their generalizations of America based on movies (that generally don't represent reality, which is way too boring) and limited experience in just one town. America is so big that you have to travel extensively to really have a good idea of how things are “in America” and not just “in New York” or “in Miami” or “in Chicago” or “in Los Angeles” (because America doesn’t have anywhere else worth visiting, if anyone is keeping track).

Helping with the dishes -or- a new way to take a bath

What can I say? He's just a helpful little boy.

(This is his first and last time in the dishwasher! I don't even own one, but Mom does, and he climbed in while she was unloading hers.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Central heating/cooling

They say back in the days before central heating, people used to huddle in the kitchen in the winter because it was the only warm place in the house because of the stove.

Well, in my parents' house in the summer, the only warm place in the house is the study, because it isn't serviced by the central air. I find myself spending a lot of time in the study. Sure...part of it is for the computer...OK, a lot of it is for the computer, but part of it is certainly for the warmth!

Evo Morales y Bolivia

I was just chatting with a friend of mine who teaches at a university in Bolivia. She said that things are changing there. Her husband has gotten a job in the local government. There is a new socialist president there, Evo Morales. He was voted in by the many poor of Bolivia. We are both concerned that the United States government will topple his regime as has happened so many times in the past in Central and South America. Please urge your elected officials to speak out against such an end to a democratically elected administration! We don't need anymore pro-US dictators at the cost of the democratic process becoming meaningless in Latin America.

Ferrets meet Gerbils

My parents have three gerbils; Harry, Maude and Raven. I have two ferrets; Chaos and Fuzzball. Put them together and amusing things happen. The gerbils didn't seem to realize that they were potential snacks for the ferrets. Fuzzball seemed happy just following them around. Chaos tried to claw his way into the balls. On the whole, everyone seemed fine afterwards.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Where were you between the hours of 10 and 11pm last night?

I was flipping over furniture with my dad trying to find Fuzzball. We checked all her usual haunts, but couldn't find her. Dad asked if maybe she could be under the cabinet that the gerbils sit on. I looked, but the gap under it was only 1 inch, much too small for even Fuzzball to fit under. We upended the couches again and looked under and around everything in the bedroom, livingroom, bathroom, study and kitchen. Nothing. I finally went to bed and called James to tell him that Fuzzball was missing.

I had all kinds of images floating through my head of Fuzzball somehow being mangled in the easy chair parts or having slipped outside and getting lost.

At about 11:15, Dad knocked on my door. He'd found her. Sure she couldn't fit under the gap in the front of the cabinet, but she'd gotten behind it, where there was a nice 3.5" gap. She got under there and was taking a nice nap. I shined a flashlight on her. She glanced up at me and put her head back down to continue her nap. Little rat!

Well, this morning, she was wide awake. I took her out of her cage and asked "are you well rested? Well, you're the only one!"

The Ferret Bag (tm)

I decided that I wanted to have a backpack with ventilation in it so that I could carry my ferrets around when biking or walking. I bought an old backpack at Goodwill and cut out some panels, used them as patterns and cut out double layers of mesh from a mesh laundry bag that I got at the dollar store. I edged all the open edges with double wide quilt binding so that nothing would fray and so that everything would be reinforced.

(The little pink stars were put there by the previous owner of the backpack, so I guess I can't take credit for them.)

It's not quite even, but the ferrets seem not to mind. In fact, when I took them for a test ride from the basement to the livingroom, they didn't want to climb out right away when I opened the bag and put it on the floor.

Chaos particularly seems to enjoy it.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

ferret noses

So...ferrets spend their lives exploring their worlds with their noses no more than an inch from the ground, often lower. Yet, they very rarely sneeze. How is this possible? What's different about their respiratory tract? Just wondering.

The Great Outdoors

Mom is making supper and we realized that sweet potatoes would be really yummy with the roast that she was cooking. Since we live about 5 blocks from the grocery store, I decided to walk.

I had some thoughts while I was walking. The first was about how nice the weather was, now that it's cooled down a bit making the humidity bareable.

The second was that choosing to go for a walk after having cut my toe open probably wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.

The third was a contemplation of the bell shaped development of transportation. As a child, I walked or rode bike all over the neighborhood. When I was old enough to drive and had my own car, I drove everywhere. Only in the last couple of years have I decided that it is preferable to walk, even though I could drive. It's that whole health/environment awareness thing as opposed to the feeling of attainment attached to being able to drive a car. I think it's really common in our society to be confused by someone who chooses to walk rather than drive. Driving is so much faster and convenient; why would anyone want to walk in the hot, humid weather??? So, yeah, I think it's something special to prefer walking to driving (not to say that I would walk all the way across town if I actually had to accomplish anything that day or carry anything with me, but there's nothing wrong with a short walk to the store).

Friday, May 26, 2006

Punishment for Lay and Skilling

This topic was recently the topic of a blog on Mom and I were talking about this. In addition to having them work a minimum wage job, the government should treat them like dead-beat parents who won't pay child support, pulling their savings and garnishing their wages and putting the money into a pension fund for all the poor souls who lost out. Really, that is what should happen with every dollar found to be gotten through fraud. It should go into a pension fund.

What if corporations were required to pay for pensions, but rather than having their own accounts, they would have to pay into a federal account, say Social Security. Have them pay in the equivalent of 50% (or whatever a workable/beneficial percent would be) of the CEO's salary each year. That might encourage more equity in wages. That way, there could be a federal social security/pension program that would be able to take care of everyone. I would suggest this on top of the normal Social Security money taken out of wages.

H.R. 5417, the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006”

From the Save the Internet blog:

Guest post from Rep. Zoe Lofgren

May 26th, 2006 by bbyrne

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5417, the “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006,” which I introduced with Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member John Conyers and Rep. Rick Boucher last week. This is the first bill with real protections for Net Neutrality that has passed any committee in Congress, and I am proud to be a part of it.

The bill requires broadband providers to operate their networks in a non-discriminatory manner and makes sure that the phone and cable companies cannot favor or block access to the Web sites or online services that they pick instead of the consumer. It will keep the Internet an open and free marketplace of ideas and services chosen by consumers instead of big corporations. It will also guard against those who own “the pipes” gleaning profits by creating a virtual toll road.

H.R. 5417 was introduced by a bipartisan coalition from the Judiciary Committee and passed out of the Committee by a vote of 20-13. 14 Democrats and six Republicans voted in favor of it, and 12 Republicans voted against it. One Democrat voted present.

The Internet has revolutionized the way Americans communicate with one another and do business. It’s only right to keep that revolution where it belongs — in the hands of Internet users instead of the phone and cable companies.

The next hurdle for Net Neutrality is whether we will have a full vote on the House floor. If you care about the freedom that Net Neutrality protects, contact your Member of Congress and ask that H.R. 5417 be scheduled to come before the full House of Representatives as either a separate bill or an amendment. Urge them to vote for Net Neutrality protection!

Walmart is evil! (As if you didn't know already...)

Those of you who read my blog know how I feel about how bettas are kept in this country. Well, the average small betta bowl holds 2 pints of water. The cups that bettas are sold in at pet stores hold 1 pint of water.

My dad and I were just at a Walmart and we saw at least 20 bettas. The cup with the most water was just over half full (half a pint of water!). Most of them were closer to 1/2 inch full. I decided that this was ridiculous and decided to talk to a manager.

We got an associate to page a manager. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. Then another associate paged a manager. So we waited. And waited. And waited. Then yet another associate called a manager. Finally, a manager and her side-kick showed up.

I told them that the level of water in the betta cups was way too low. I pointed out that many of the fish couldn't even extend their fins. Then the managers told us that the water level was within the levels allowed by the fish company. I repeated that it was unacceptable. I also told them that if the situation wasn't remedied soon, I would write in to the newspaper and contact the animal rights people. The managers still insisted that it was plenty of water for the fish to survive. My dad mentioned that people could live without running water too, but that didn't seem to impress these managers. The lady asked me how long bettas could live out of water and wanted me to find out for her and let her know! Of all the nerve, asking me to do her homework! Anyway, somewhere in all the insistance that it wasn't a problem to have such low water levels, someone said that they would discuss the matter with the higher ups. How hard is it??? Just have an associate check the water levels once a week and fill as necessary! Also, they insisted that the levels were OK according to the fish supplier (Animal Graphics). I'm going to call them in the morning and ask just how they feel about that.

Both my dad and I were really surprised that they insisted on arguing with us about this. Usually, a manager is supposed to just placate the customer, even if they don't actually do anything about it.

If you know me and live in the same town as my folks, go into Walmart and give them hell if there isn't enough water in the betta cups!

FYI, I looked up a couple of websites on bettas to see how much water they recommend. One suggests a minimum of a 1/2 gallon. Another suggests 2 litres as the minimum (about 4 pints, or half a gallon).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Israel and Palestine

Israel is quite the hot-button. Any nation that goes around killing innocent people is bad. That includes such countries as Israel, Nazi-Germany (1933-1945), and the United States, among others. It's hard to make this comment about Israel, because any comment against this country is immediately construed by many as being anti-semitic. I assure you, I have nothing against Jews or Israelis as people, however, I can not support anyone who makes the decision to kill innocents, be that Hamas terrorists, or Israeli secret police/military. I think that there is no innocent in the current dispute between Israel and Palestine. I think that it was wrong to take land from the Palestinians for an Israeli state. However, it is also wrong of Palestinians to blow up busses of school children. Everyone has their share of blood-guilt. I don't think that Israel has any moral upper-hand when it comes to demanding terms of Palestine. Unfortunately, I don't see any good solution for this, though I can't help but reflect on a former Jewish fencing coach's statement: 'Nuke Israel/Palestine and only let non-Judeo/Christian/Muslims visit the resulting glass parking lot.'

*sigh* Actually, the only think that can make this better is individual exchanges. Palesintians need to meet Israelis as individuals and Israelis need to meet Palestinians. It's hard to want to blow someone up after you've been over for tea and shared pictures of your family.

Skilling and Lay found guilty

"On the sixth day of deliberations, a jury of eight women and four men convicted the former executives of misleading the public about the true financial health of Enron, whose collapse in late 2001 symbolized the wave of corporate fraud that swept the United States early this decade," per

It's about time. On the other hand, it was perhaps worth a delay if that's what was needed for the government to build a strong case against Skilling and Lay.

Hopefully their sentences will be sufficient.

Lack of litter

Well, it would seem that I greatly miscalculated the amount of ferret litter that I was going to need for this trip. I have already run out on day 3. Oops. Unfortunately, it seems that not that many places carry the litter that I use. It is a newspaper mulch, that can be conveniently flushed down the toilet, called Pet's Preference. It's really nice to be able to flush it, since I live in an apartment and frequent trips to the dumpster are less than appealing. So, if you live in the same place that I'm visiting and have seen a similar litter/newspaper mulch somewhere, let me know! I called the company that makes the litter to find out who their local retailers are, but they don't have anyone based in this state. *grumbles*

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

At the home of my friend

As intimated in the previous post, I am no longer there, but here. The ferrets are in a rabbit hutch in the basement bathroom, avoiding spreading their fuzziness all over Teresa's house.

When I got into town, her kids and I took the little dears to the nearby park. Both of the boys really enjoyed that, although the youngest soon lost interest in the animals and went to play with his buddies. A few kids and parents were around and wanted to pet the ferrets. This other family showed up and I asked the girl if she wanted to pet it, and her mom immediately shouted NO! and then seemed to realize that maybe she wasn't as polite as she should have been and said something like: 'No, she wouldn't want to' and quickly rushed her daughter away...gotta love that need to appear polite at all costs.

After Teresa got home from Kung Fu, we went and sat in the neighbor's hottub until I felt sufficiently boiled.

Having showered and changed back into regular clothes (or as regular as mine get), I'm noticing that I must have gotten a sunburn while at the park. Oops. Both of my arms and my chest are kinda reddish. Maybe I shouldn't have sat in the hottub afterall.

Bad day for deer and racoons

I drove from my adopted state to my home state; a trip of about 4.5 hours. I saw a whole lot of racoons, deer, and unknown roadkill along the way, not to mention at least 5 strips of road construction.

That is such a long and boring trip!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ordering from the Amazon Marketplace

I just went online and ordered The Lord of Castle Black (The Viscount of Adrilankha, Book 2) * using the Amazon Marketplace. The book was priced at $2.00. The shipping was $3.49. It just seems really weird to pay more for shipping that for the book itself. On the other hand, the grand total of $5.49 was still less than the $7.99 + tax that I would have paid at a bookstore. I'm having it shipped to my folks' place, so hopefully it will be there by the time I'm done reading my current book, The Paths of the Dead, which I think I started some time before, but never finished.

*Yes...I like reading books by Steven Brust - though The Sun, the Moon and the Stars was less than exciting. I think the problem was that he tried to write something serious. I very much prefer the Vlad Taltos books.

Ferret Fun Day

The local PetSmart and ferret shelter got together and held a Ferret Fun Day. There were a bunch of other ferrets, and Fuzzball and Chaos got to know others of their kind. There were tube races and stuff too. They wore themselves out and had to stop to rest! Here are some pictures:

This is Fuzzball doing mouth play with a baby in the tube. Fuzzball is the one on the left.

There are 4 or 5 ferrets in the tube in this picture.

I met a lady originally from Germany named Cindy and her husband Jeremy. They had their babies there too: Nando (white) and Rico (sable).

I suspect that the ferrets will sleep until sometime tomorrow. They were overstimulated today, I think. I'm glad that I got the email about the get-together today. I was really wanting to do something fun with the ferrets.

Mommy! Daddy! Aren't you proud of me???

Term GPA: 4.000

Cumulative GPA: 3.912

Fuzzball is rather fuzzy



Fuzzball seems to be completely recovered from the adrenal disease! Yeah!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fuzzball seems to be feeling displaced

Fuzzball keeps trying to go under the couch and then turning around because the space it too low to be comfortable anymore. Since she couldn't get her ball of string under the couch, she settled for setting it next to the couch. Poor little dear! Now she has to find a new space of her own!

Make Babies for America!

I got this per a comment posted by Kaji on

Make Babies! per John Gibson. (White babies, that is!)

Lord knows, we don't want that Hispanic minority to become the majority! Then they might think that they have rights or something! Oh my God!

Get off it people. People are people, regardless of the color of skin. Don't have babies if you don't want babies! We don't need any more unwanted children! If you want babies, by all means have babies, just make sure that you can care for them!

Just an FYI...part of the Nazi program included a very intense baby factory program to maintain and expand the Aryan Race. This made for a lot of single mothers and orphans after the war. (Yep, I went there comparing a possible America to the Nazis...this German degree has got to be useful for something, even if it's only for seeing disturbing historical parallels.)

Universiteit zoekt speelgoed voor varkens

I subscribe to the "Word of the Day" service from the Frei Universität Berlin in Dutch. An interesting piece came over the wire today. I'll give you an English translation below.

Universiteit zoekt speelgoed voor varkens

Wetenschappers van de Wageningen Universiteit zijn op zoek naar speelgoed voor varkens. Volgens de onderzoekers van de Animal Sciences Group kan speelgoed verveling bij varkens voorkomen, vooral bij dieren die in een stal zonder stro staan. Op dit moment test de universitaire afdeling verschillende soorten ballen uit in een varkensbedrijf in Friesland, zo zegt projectleider Johan Zonderland. Hij denkt dat varkens speelgoed heel leuk vinden. Volgens hem zijn varkens ontzettend nieuwsgierig en zullen ze het speelgoed volledig uitproberen. De speeltjes moeten van robuuste kwaliteit zijn, want een varken heeft iets razendsnel gesloopt. 'Ze zijn nog erger dan honden', aldus Zonderland.
Nieuwsservice van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Editie: Nederlands Nieuws, 18 mei 2006


University searches for toys for pigs

Scientists from the Wageningen University are looking for toys for pigs. According to the researchers from the Animal Sciences Group, toy boredom can occur with pigs, especially with the animals in stalls without straw. At the moment, the university department is testing out various types of balls at a pig company in Friesland, according to the project leader Johan Zonderland. He thinks that pigs really like toys. According to him, pigs are awfully curious and they will completely test any toy. The toys need to be of robust quality, because a pig destroys things incredibly fast. 'They are even worse than dogs', according to Zonderland.


Nieuwsservice van Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
Edition: Nederlands Nieuws, 18 May2006

Couch ferret-proofed

I found some foam that I thought might have been coming from somewhere under the couch. Anna and I flipped the couch, but we couldn't find any holes in anything. I decided to go ahead and ferret-proof the couch anyway.

My original plan had been to use corner brackets to hold a sheet of plywood in place, but when I we flipped over the couch, we realized that the hide-a-bed extended about an inch past the bottom of the couch frame, so that idea wasn't going to work anymore. So, we took measurements and went to Home Depot to get strips of wood and a sheet of something to fix the couch. We ended up getting 2"x2" strips and a sheet of hardboard cut to my measurements. However, after it had been cut, I looked at the piece and it looked too small. I looked at my measurements again and decided that I probably under sized the piece by about 4 inches, so I had an extra 4" strip cut from the scrap. When we got back to the apartment, we found that the 4" strip was in fact the exact amount needed. Go me for catching it while still at the store! Too bad I didn't notice before the first piece was cut.

Anyway, we came back and nailed the frame-extender strips to the bottom of the frame and then put the board over top of that. For some reason, the nails kept bending on one side of the couch. I'm not sure if the wood in the couch was that much denser on that side or what, but 2 or 3 nails bent going in. I put some Gorilla Glue that I stole from James into the crack between the two strips of hardboard, though I don't know if that will help or not, but I figure it can't hurt. Then I put some newsprint over the crack to help seal it. So, it's done now. Yeah!

Unfortunately for Fuzzball, her balls of string will no longer fit under the couch. I wonder where she will start stashing them now!?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Chaos and Fuzzball (she's not fat...just fluffy...)

I weighed the ferrets yesterday. Ratboy used to be heavier than Fuzzball, but now she is heavier (though she is still smaller). She weighed in at 2.2 lbs (1 kg), and he weighed in at 2 lbs.

Chaos has taken to chewing up boxes lately. *shrugs* Whatever makes him happy.

Awww! Aren't they cute? Imagine that...sleeping again!

English Only

Recently, a bill has passed the Senate that would make English the only language of government.
"That bill says no person has a right, entitlement or claim to have the US government or any of its officials act, communicate, perform or provide services or materials in any language other than English."

I'd like to put a disclaimer here that my arguments are not very complete, but I encourage you to further research the issue.
Press Release of Senator Inhofe


Thursday, May 18, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) today, with bipartisan support, introduced his National English Amendment (S.A. 4064) to the Senate Immigration Reform Act (S. 2611) to make English the national language of the United States, except where use of another language is authorized or provided by law. Such exceptions currently include: natural disaster emergency evacuation (i.e. Hurricane Katrina) and a defendant’s right to an interpreter in U.S. Courts.

“For over twenty years they have tried to make English the national language,” Inhofe said.

“For many of those years I have listened to constituents at my town hall meetings ask, ‘why can’t we get this done?’ Well today we are going to succeed.

“This is not just about preserving our culture and heritage, but also about bettering the odds for our nation’s newest potential citizens. As the President said recently, ‘English allows newcomers to go from cleaning offices to running offices,’ I could not agree more.

“Recent polling established that a diverse majority, 84 percent of all Americans, agree with making English the national language, including 77 percent of Hispanics. Polling also concludes that 92 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats and Independents all support recognizing English as the national language.

“Under current law a naturalization candidate must demonstrate a simple, ‘understanding of the English language.’ However, the exam is not uniform and this subjective standard is both arbitrary and unfair. The Department of Homeland Security is currently reviewing the citizenship exam given to prospective citizens. My amendment offers specific goals for that redesign, focusing primarily on the applicants’ understanding of the English language and knowledge of American civics and history. By creating a uniform exam we ensure that all applicants have the same opportunity to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of English and American history, while maintaining a fair and equal standard for naturalizing new citizens.”
Widespread U.S. polling supports making English the national language with a recent Zogby poll showing 84% support overall, including 71% of Hispanics. Currently, 27 states and 51 nations have made English their official language. Furthermore, the Office of Management and Budget estimates that it costs taxpayers between $1-2 billion to provide language assistance under President Clinton’s Executive Order 13166 that created the entitlement to services provided in any language other than English.

Inhofe’s amendment requires those naturalizing to become a U.S. citizen pass a uniform English examine created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); instructs DHS as to the goals for redesigning the citizenship exam, focusing on the English language and knowledge of American civics and history.

It's really important to think about where this can go.

If the government is not required to provide any services in other languages, then there will be people, particularly in medical situations who will be underserved, and this could even be fatal. For example, if there are no interpreters, and a parent from another country; perhaps just a tourist visiting the country for a short time, or perhaps an American-born citizen; brings a child to a hospital and can't communicate the problem, the child may die. I've heard about a call to a 911 operator that only worked because the operator knew Spanish.

There are many people in the United States who are legitimately here, but are not proficient in English. While there are always some people who choose not to learn English, the vast majority try. However, old people and people who have no skill at language (remember Spanish/German/French/etc. 101? That sucked, huh?) may never become proficient in English no matter how hard they try. For these people, government documents and services in their languages are essential. A good example of this would be the Hmong population. They are in America because they helped us in Vietnam! We promised them that we would welcome them as heroes after the war. Many would have probably preferred to stay in Vietnam, but had they stayed, they would have been killed because of their collaboration with the Americans. Then the Hmong came here, as they had been promised, but rather than being welcomed as heroes, they've been treated as second-class citizens. Now people want to take away their access to government services in Hmong.

In addition to all of the immigrants who are here for whatever reason, there are also the native born Americans, particularly the Puerto Ricans who have Spanish as their first language. Why should they be forced to conduct official business in English if that is not their best language? They are legitimately American, but they have never been cultural Englishmen. How dare anyone disenfranchise them? They are AMERICAN CITIZENS!

"English Only" is a goal that can have some quite negative results. Granted, it can lead to less costs in interpreters and print costs if the government no longer has to print other language materials. However, the human costs are much higher! The initiative is meant to promote 'unity through language'; however, it can lead to more linguistic based division. It is really just another way to discriminate between those who can access government services and those who can't.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Even if I have to dig all the way to China...

Ratboy thinks he's going to be able to dig his way through the gate. Heh.

Funny sounding ferrets

So, I just got home and was locking the door and turning off the light when I heard weird sounds. I can only describe it as being somewhere in the neighborhood of whale song, sonar pings and early 1990s video game bleeps (you know, when you lob a ball or fall or something). I can only assume that it was coming from the sleeping ferrets.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sleepy babies

Aren't they cute sleeping together!

Fuzzball's string fetish

Here she is...she likes balls of string. She takes them and hides them under the couch.

The First Years All Clear Swing Gate

I finally got it. The $50 ferret gate. I got it all installed and saw that there was a sizeable gap on one side of it, but I decided to see what would happen. Chaos squeazed right through it and continued on his way. Since that really defeated the whole purpose of having a gate, I solved the problem with newsprint, lots of tape, and a healthy coating of chili-sauce.

So, now I can leave my bathroom and bedroom doors open without the kids sneaking in and wreaking havoc!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


As mentioned before, Sarah gave me her old dishes after her mom gave her new dishes. They came lovingly packed in boxes so as not to get broken on the way here. After putting the dishes away, I didn't know what to do with the boxes. Chaos did not share my lack of imagination.


There's a guy on public radio saying that he found that experts said that you should have between 8 and 12 times as much as your annual income saved up by the time you retire. He's also saying that it's probable that a lot of "wedge generation" (kids of baby-boomers with their own children) will have their parents living with them after they retire. Eep!

PBS: Can you afford to retire?

Ferrets and my backpack

I'm starting to wonder if I actually left my backpack pocket open. I just caught Fuzzball opening it. I guess I'll have to be more careful about where I leave my backpack.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cage improvement

I decided that it was a really bad thing that stuff (including ferrets) would from time to time fall from the upper floors of the cage into the litterbox below. To remedy this situation, I decided to install the petnet that used to hold my stuffed animals back at my parents' house. Now, any wayward ferret will land in the bed on the bottom floor, rather than the litterbox.

I think that Ratboy was mad at me yesterday. I had to leave before the laundry was dry, so his hammock was still in the wash when I put him back into the cage. He was all set to roll into his hammock and then stopped just short of rolling into empty space. Then he glared at me. (Maybe I was just imagining the glaring.)

Fuzzball seems to like her original hammock that came with the cage.