Cast of Characters:

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I just finished reading the TOR mass market paperback edition of Ivanhoe (ISBN 0812565657). I must say that there were typos to distraction.

It was an amusing little story; doesn't have much to do with Ivanhoe, though. *shrugs*

I really don't get the animosity expressed towards the Jews. Just don't get it. Talk about ignorant! How can you see someone as less than human, just because of race or religion? I was never raised to hate or despise anyone. Sure, I have the prejudices common to the region, but I would never consciously act on any of them to be cruel to someone for no reason other than their race or religion.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ratboy Napping

pic 1) That's it! I'm done! I'll go no further!

pic 2) Cozy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sicko reprise

I got this link from

Employers grab accident victims' cash

Wal-Mart's health plan sued an ex-worker, brain-damaged in a crash, to collect money from a settlement she'd received. It's part of a trend in which companies aggressively try to recoup insurance costs.

A collision with a tractor-trailer seven years ago left 52-year-old Deborah Shank permanently brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. Her husband, Jim, and three sons found a small source of solace: a $700,000 accident settlement from the trucking company involved.

After legal fees and other expenses, the remaining $417,000 was put in a special trust. It was to be used for Deborah Shank's care.

Instead, all of it is now slated to go to Deborah's former employer, Wal-Mart Stores.

The woman stocked shelves for a few months and because of signing on to the health care plan, she's lost out on all of the settlement money that was meant to go towards her continued care.

Well, that is just one more reason for needing some variety of universal health care! I'd rather be paying more in taxes and be assured that I will be taken care of, should something horrible happen, than be paying insurance premiums to an insurance company that will do everything in its power to avoid paying out, and then seek reimbursement after the fact!

And more: Walmart takes out life-insurance on its employees.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm definitely tired...

I decided to put on the classic White Christmas to run in the background and keep down the monotony of counting prepositions.

I must be tired! I started getting all teary-eyed at the scene where all the old soldiers have come together to honor the old general. I'm usually not so sentimental!

I highly recommend this movie for those looking for a simple musical comedy, without any sex or violence (except for when the guy's are smacking each other with the feather fans).

On a side note, I'm in just such a mood as to feel sad that the folks all young, alive and well in that film are all either old or dead now. They live on in the film, but are never to be known in person again. Such is life.

OK...back to working on my paper...which movie shall I put in now?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wrestling with the squeaky toy

Chaos was rather energetic today. We spent a good ten minutes running (well...I walked, he ran) back and forth in the building hall. We got back to my apartment door and he sniffed at it, so I opened it and took off the leash. The little brat ran back down the hallway. I caught him at the first doormat that he stopped to investigate and put the leash back on him. He ran until he was done, and then he lay down in the middle of the hall, determined not to move a paw further. I carried him back to my apartment and fed him. When I went out to visit my neighbor, Chaos was ready to run back out into the hall again.

Most recently, he has been teaching the squeaky toy a thing or two about who's boss.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just what happened to Izzy

Well, it wasn't just that she go wedged between the wall and the bookcase. It was one of those self-assemble bookcases with the paperboard back on it. The books on the bottom shelf were pushed back in such as way as to pop out the bottom corner of the back. She got stuck on that and it worked like a barb, preventing her from going forward or back.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Izzy died

I'd been having to force feed her the last few days. Then she got caught between the wall and the bookshelf and went into hypothermia, likely from low blood sugar and the draft from the window. I took her to the vet and he tried to save her. He gave her glucose and subcutaneous fluids. He also wedged her between a couple of socks full of microwaved dry rice to try to get her temperature up again. She started to warm up and it looked like she was coming back. Her heartbeat got stronger. And then she stopped breathing at about 7:30, about an hour and 45 minutes after bringing her in.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sicko neighbor and I are watching Sicko. Our country sucks. Even 9-11 rescue workers aren't getting covered.

If Canada, Britain, and France and CUBA can pull it off to cover everyone, why can't we???


Let's hear it for socialized health care now!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

On Ferrets in Arabic

This is my Arabic presentation. Exciting, isn't it??? There are probably some mistakes in it, but I think it's pretty good for only having known any Arabic since the summer.

Step 1 to cut energy consumption: Cut the Christmas lights!

So, there's all the stuff about being environmentally aware. People drive the Prius in droves now. They turn off the light in the hall when done and even shut down their computers at night. However, many can't part with their Christmas lights. And Christmas is coming earlier and earlier, so lights are on longer and longer. The next time you think about giving back to the world during the holidays, switch off your Christmas lights. Some people don't even have electricity to heat or light their homes!

Does anyone out there have figures on how much electricity could be saved if everyone turned off their Christmas lights for a day?

I'm not saying that folks should completely give up the lights; that just isn't likely. However, how about waiting to turn them on until mid December, instead of a month or two before?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Izzy and Chaos are playing!

They're playing! Yay! Chaos isn't afraid to play anymore!

WTF??? When you're done bleeding , we want that money back.

The Pentagon is apparently demanding back signing bonuses from injured soldiers, because they didn't serve out their tour, even though they were wounded in battle.

I'm sorry, but if someone gets shot because they're fighting in the military, then the military shouldn't be able to take back any money. It would be different if the guys had just up and left, but they were wounded! What more could they have done to fulfill their obligation???

I've also heard that widow(er)s don't receive nearly enough money.

If you're going to ask someone to go to war, then you should provide for their orphans and widow(er)s!

Uncannily like Fuzzball.

Izzy likes carrying around balls of cotton string just like Fuzzball, and sleeping in the blankets by the litter box (though Fuzzball concentrated on the ones by the fridge and Izzy prefers the front hall)

Unlike Fuzzball, Izzy took the stringball into the cage and up a level.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


When I got out of the shower this morning, Chaos and Izzy were wrestling! Yay!

You're in America! Speak English!

Señora Gomez* hobbled into the social security office in Arecebo, Puerto Rico, supporting herself on her grandson's arm.

She is an elderly middle-class woman, born and raised on the island. She's done her best to do right by everyone and has slowly sold off her land to cover her daughter's expenses and to pay for her grandson's education in the continental United States.

Upon approaching the window, she was informed by Juan Gonzales*, speaking in heavily accented English, that all official business of the United States Social Security Administration will be conducted in English.

Is there really any good reason for a Spanish speaker to demand that a Spanish speaker speak English, in order to get her Social Security check, which she's contributed to all her working life?

Puerto Ricans are often informed that they are in America and should speak English. However, what the Anglophones tend to ignore, is that the Puerto Rican's were speaking Spanish before the island was obtained by the United States and that most generations since then have been born, raised, and died with their native Spanish language. Why should they have to change?

Bilingualism is a tool for success. Ideally, everyone would be bilingual, but this is not possible, at least not at this time. Even if all of the children in school are taught, and learn, sufficient English, the older people would not be able to change, due to age related issues. Using the language as a barrier to services is reminiscent of the literacy tests imposed in the Deep South after the Civil War.

Also, if we take an example from Russian education in the Eastern Bloc countries, we can see that although all of the school children were required to take Russian, most hated it because of it being the language of the colonizer and never learned it well. Who are we to impose our language on others?

English Only is a bad idea.

*These are not really their names.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

USA not founded on Christianity

This just in at Northern Sun:

If you can't see the picture, it's a portrait of George Washington on a T-shirt, with a quote:
"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." George Washington

That's pretty definitive; he would know.

If you are in Minneapolis, you could swing by their store on Lake to pick it up, or just order it online.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More on the Writer's Guild strike

Let's all support the Writer's Guild. It sounds like a good cause. Here's a page on how:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reminiscent of Kafka's The Trial

This experience of a Minnesota woman reminded me of Kafka's The Trial (Der Prozeß).

Is anyone regulating the TSA?

For more info on proposed rules requiring having to ask the TSA for permission to fly ANYWHERE to, from, through, or over the United States, read here:

And here is a link to the Justia Regulation Tracker.

Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968)

I haven't heard this message from any of the front-runners lately.

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio April 5, 1968

Mr Chairmen,Ladies And Gentlemen

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lost their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

- Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925 – June 6, 1968)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Screenwriters going on strike

Screenwriters are scheduled to be on strike starting on Monday.

Per NPR:
All Things Considered, November 2, 2007 · Unless Hollywood writers and studios reach a deal over the weekend, the Writers Guild of America will strike just after midnight next Monday. That could mean many TV shows will have to revert to re-runs.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ghost Rider - review

James and I watched Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes this evening. Our recommendation: Run, save yourself!

We give this movie a cheese factor of 373 out of 100. Contributors to this rating include: The goat-like shadow cast by the devil in human form, the use of the Johnny Cash melody "Ghost Riders in the Sky", the judgments of "you guilty!!! innocent., the wild west opening sequence, the wild west closing sequence, the kiss of the doomed lovers at the end of the film by the same tree that they'd kissed under as kids, the whistling for the bike, the morphing of the chopper into a demon bike, the flashes of skeletal jawbones, etc...

Pretty chic. Stupid movie.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Danger in rechargeable batteries?

There is a warning on my new Weazel Ball that says "Do Not Use Rechargeable Batteries". Why is that? The only thing that I can think of is that rechargeables aren't meant to be jostled around vigorously. Does anyone know anything about this?

Monday, October 08, 2007

A dollar, eh?

The US dollar now is valued the same as the Canadian dollar. Remember all of those Canadian pennies you were disappointed to get back in change? Well, start saving them! tells us the following:

1.00 USD


0.706890 EUR

United States Dollars
1 USD = 0.706890 EUR
1 EUR = 1.41465 USD

1.00 USD


0.980897 CAD

United States Dollars
Canada Dollars
1 USD = 0.980897 CAD
1 CAD = 1.01948 USD

1.00 EUR


0.692830 GBP

United Kingdom Pounds
1 EUR = 0.692830 GBP
1 GBP = 1.44336 EUR

1.00 USD


7.63645 BOB

United States Dollars Bolivia Bolivianos
1 USD = 7.63645 BOB 1 BOB = 0.130951 USD

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Has anyone else noticed that recalls seem to be becoming more and more frequent? Is it just me? Is it just that I never paid attention before?

Are products really less safe? Are we just more picky?

What's going on???

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thank you, James!

James got me stuff! Really nice stuff! He got me dark Godiva chocolate, a T-shirt with a poem, and a new mortar and pestle. I had a ceramic mortar and pestle from IKEA, but I accidentally knocked it onto the floor, and it shattered. This one is really pretty and made of marble. I guess that it will hold the oils from the spices that I grind, but that's OK, since I'll probably only grind Grandma's secret spice with it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Population shift happens

Get over it! People have been moving since the dawn of time!

Cal Thomas is whining in a piece called "Vanishing England" about all the foreigners moving to England and all the English moving away. He also complains about Britons having abortions and immigrants having lots of babies.

He neglects to note that the Angles and the Saxons came from somewhere else...specifically northern Europe a long time ago and were not always Britons. Not to mention the Normans of 1066. What is his take on the Celts? They didn't originally live on the British Isles either. They came from somewhere else, though no one is really sure from where.

Also, being a colonial power, (historically) trading in slaves and goods from all over the world kinda makes it ridiculous to try to want an insular England. If you tell them that they're British, they probably would feel that they have every right to go to England. Brown skinned people are nothing new. With all the white Britons spread all over the globe, it's only natural that other people would go to Britain.

Migrations of people are ongoing. Establishing borders and trying to keep people in or out is just unnatural. Get over it. The character of the country will change. I agree. That's life.

It's kinda like all the children and grandchildren of immigrants, who were essentially squatters on Native American land, bitching about the most recent waves of immigrants.

And don't even get me started on language policy as it relates to immigrants!

Just stop being so xenophobic and get to know "them" as individuals. You'll find that people are people, regardless of their skin color, religion or language!

Choosing a major in high school

Phyllis Schlafly is all freaked out about a new trend in schools, in which students are required to choose a high school major. Let me quote a bit from her article "The Latest "Major" Fad in Public Schools."

Freshmen at Dwight Morrow High School in New Jersey, starting this fall, must declare a major, and they must take at least one course in that subject every trimester for four years. The major will be noted on their diplomas.

She complains that this is bad, because kids change their minds about everything a lot. She writes:

Most teens are not ready to lock into a lifetime career so early; they need to explore and investigate options and opportunities. Anyway, there are magnet schools for those who are ready for specialization.

See, I would argue that the major path would be an exploration of an option. I think that kids in high school are already required to take a number of classes that they might not enjoy, but at least if they are taking career oriented classes, they can see how what they have been learning might (or might not) fit in to actual future education/employment. I guess an important question to ask might be how this is fit into the rest of their schedules. Which courses are there besides the major track? How many are required and how many are elective? As far as magnet schools, I would argue that not all kids have the opportunity to go to magnet schools.

Another thing to consider, is that it is common in Europe for university bound students to have already selected a major, or at least a track in literature or science, for example, before they are able to graduate high school. Their high school exit exam (often named something very close to "Bachelors") is geared towards that field.

I find it odd that she ends her article with this:

Public schools should teach all first-graders to read by the time-tested phonics system, and teach all schoolchildren to know and use the fundamentals of arithmetic by the end of the third grade. This would end the shocking epidemic of illiteracy that now permits students to get into high school and even graduate without being able to read, write or calculate change at the grocery store.

Choosing a major won't solve the problem of high school dropouts who can't read, write, add, subtract, multiply, or divide. Public schools will remain a national embarrassment unless and until the fundamentals are taught in elementary classes.

How does a lack of literacy have anything to do with encouraging kids to explore career options? Yes, please teach children to read (and please do it before they reach high school!). I think that everyone would agree that this is important. However, learning to read and learning the basics about law, or physics, or literature are not mutually exclusive! In fact, if the students do find a field that they are excited about, maybe that would motivate them to hone their basic academic skills.

All that said, I think that it is important to strike a balance between letting kids be kids and helping them to find their path in life. I would advise observing the results of major based high school education, allowing some time for fine-tuning, and then decide whether it is a net positive or negative.

Civil Unions documented in medieval France

Thanks to, I have learned that there was an arrangement in medieval France, very similar to civil unions.

ScieneDaily reports on recent University of Chicago Journal article. Here is an excerpt:

For example, in late medieval France, the term affrèrement -- roughly translated as brotherment -- was used to refer to a certain type of legal contract, which also existed elsewhere in Mediterranean Europe. These documents provided the foundation for non-nuclear households of many types and shared many characteristics with marriage contracts, as legal writers at the time were well aware, according to Tulchin.

The new "brothers" pledged to live together sharing 'un pain, un vin, et une bourse' -- one bread, one wine, and one purse. As Tulchin notes, "The model for these household arrangements is that of two or more brothers who have inherited the family home on an equal basis from their parents and who will continue to live together, just as they did when they were children." But at the same time, "the affrèrement was not only for brothers," since many other people, including relatives and non-relatives, used it.

The effects of entering into an affrèrement were profound. As Tulchin explains: "All of their goods usually became the joint property of both parties, and each commonly became the other's legal heir. They also frequently testified that they entered into the contract because of their affection for one another. As with all contracts, affrèrements had to be sworn before a notary and required witnesses, commonly the friends of the affrèrés."

Tulchin argues that in cases where the affrèrés were single unrelated men, these contracts provide "considerable evidence that the affrèrés were using affrèrements to formalize same-sex loving relationships. . . . I suspect that some of these relationships were sexual, while others may not have been. It is impossible to prove either way and probably also somewhat irrelevant to understanding their way of thinking. They loved each other, and the community accepted that. What followed did not produce any documents."

He concludes: "The very existence of affrèrements shows that there was a radical shift in attitudes between the sixteenth century and the rise of modern antihomosexual legislation in the twentieth."

Here is a reference to the full article: Allan Tulchin, "Same-Sex Couples Creating Households in Old Regime France: The Uses of the Affrèrement." Journal of Modern History: September 2007.

Another book down

I just finished reading another book, Dragon and Phoenix by Joanne Bertin. This book is interesting, because it sat on my shelf for so long without getting read. It was a a birthday or Christmas present from the boyfriend that I had in 1999. I had just assumed that I had read it before, but decided to read it again anyway. The first chapter was familiar, but I guess that's only because it had been printed at the end of the previous book, The Last Dragon Lord, as a teaser and I had read it there. The further I got into it, the more I noticed that I had no idea what was going to happen. It was a pleasant surprise, since I usually remember the ending of a book that I decide to re-read about half way through.

Happiness is lounging around and reading fantasy fiction...not that that is all I did all day. I also did legitimate work, uploading worksheets and such a a lesson-share site for other teachers to work with.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Really hungry ferrets

In the past, the ferrets have been satisfied with one ice-cube worth of ferret gruel. Just this morning, they've finished off three. I'm wondering if I didn't put enough of something in the mix on this batch. I'm surprised that they're still hungry. Maybe there is too much water and not enough kibble or chicken. I guess I'll just feed them until they stop eating.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arabic and Islam - are they the same?

A couple of recent pieces on have prompted me to comment a bit on the relationship of Arabic to Islam.

Ken Connor has written to express his concerns about a new Arabic school in NYC.

Abraham Lincoln once famously observed, "The philosophy of the school room in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next."

The truth of Lincoln's observation is, no doubt, at the core of the apprehensions that New Yorkers have expressed about the Khalil Gibran International Academy scheduled to open next month in Brooklyn. Adding to their apprehensions is the fact that KGIA is just three blocks from a mosque which has a history of employing radical imams and which was frequented by one of the terrorists implicated in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

It takes a lot to rankle Gotham City dwellers, but, given their experience with radical Islam, one can sympathize with their angst. Mind you, KGIA is a public school and will be funded with public tax dollars, some of which will come from families of the victims of 9/11. World Net Daily reports that the school's curriculum "will integrate intensive Arabic language instruction and the study of Middle Eastern history and historical figures," including the life and teachings of the prophet Muhammad. WND also explains that field trips will include destinations in the Middle East and that "teacher materials will be adapted from publications supplied by the Council on Islamic Education." New York City school officials have tried to assure the public that the school will be "non-religious" and will not promote a political or religious ideology, but skepticism abounds.

He seems to be concerned about the school training terrorists. He also insists that is duplicitous to suggest that one can separate Arabic culture from the religion of Islam. That's like trying to square a circle. It can't be done. In Islam, there is no separation of church and state. Islamic fundamentalists do not draw a distinction between religion, culture and politics. The three are united under Sharia law. These religious zealots see the state as a primary vehicle for advancing Islam. Indeed, the coercive power of the state is essential to spreading the teachings of the Koran. ...
I suspect that we can't really know what the aims of this school are until its curriculum can be reviewed. I would have to agree with Connor that a public school should not teach Islam any more than a public school should teach Christianity. However, I do believe that the school should be able to teach ABOUT Islam, Christianity or any other religion in order to enable students to understand others and other religions. (Perhaps Connor would have benefited from a unit on Islam in his schooling.) The biggest problem with a curriculum about religion is determining who should teach it and what the 'truths' are that should be taught, since there is so much variation even between different denominations of the same umbrella religion. (Try asking a Roman Catholic, a Southern Baptist and a Jehovah's Witness what Christianity is, and you will get 3 very different answers once you get beyond belief in Christ as the Savior.)


Another right-winger, Doug Giles, has written to insist that "Allah" should not be used to talk about the Christian God, because he ignorantly believes that it is only used by Muslims. Giles goes so far as to personally attack a Dutch bishop, who suggested using "Allah" in Christian ceremonies. Giles writes:

Tiny Muskens, a Dutch Roman Catholic Bishop in Amsterdam, released another nifty idea this week upon his wooden shoe wearing sheep. Minister Muskens, well-known for stupidity aplenty, came up with a fresh game plan of which he said would aid the Dutch, yea, the entire world in getting along with Muslims Gone Wild. Tiny proposed “that people of all faiths refer to God as Allah to foster understanding.”


According to the Netherlands' biggest-selling newspaper, De Telegraaf, Tiny, after tabling his plan to reporters, said he had no further comment. He simply smiled, did a pirouette, stripped down to his pink boy shorts, put on a spaghetti-strapped yellow sun dress which he had in his exorcist kit and then started skipping down the cobblestone street with Boy George blaring from his iPod mini.

Well, I'm not sure where Giles gets his copy of De Telegraaf, but I read the two articles that come up on when searching for "Tiny Muskens" and "Allah" ("Muskens: 'God' vervangen door 'Allah' -" and "Bisdom: Muskens sprak niet namens bisschoppen -") and found no reference to 'no comment' (or to what Muskens might have been wearing - maybe De Telegraaf should sue for misrepresentation) and even found that some other Dutch bishops disassociated themselves with Muskens' suggestion, but noted the following:

Het bisdom wijst erop dat Allah in het Aramees, de taal die in de tijd van Jezus werd gesproken, Heer betekent. In het Arabische taalgebied is het voor zowel christenen als moslims en joden de meest gangbare naam om God aan te duiden. Oosterse christenen, vooral de kopten, gebruikten het woord Allah al, voordat de islam in de zevende eeuw ontstond.

For those who don't read Dutch, this can be translated as:

The bishopric notes that Allah in Aramaic, the language spoken in Jesus' time, means Lord. In Arabic language region, it is the most common name used to refer to God for Christians as well Muslims and Jews. Eastern Christians, especially the Copts, had already used the word Allah before the inception of Islam in the seventh century.

While it is true that many of the idioms used in Arabic are tied to the Islamic faith, it is not necessary to believe in Islam to learn Arabic. When I was learning Arabic over the summer, 'Alhamdu-llah' and 'Ensha'allah' were very common phrases that everyone picked up. They made an atheist student feel weird, because they referred to God. They made me feel weird, having grown up in a Protestant tradition, because it sounded too much like taking God in vain. However, we have the same idioms in English: 'Thank God' and 'God willing'. It's really not that you have to become indoctrinated into Islam; it's just that you need to become more comfortable with hearing 'God' frequently.

It is also important to note that the Koran is written in Arabic, so Muslims consider the Arabic language to be sacred. For a copy of the Koran to be considered legitimate, it must include the original Arabic, even if there is another language translation provided.

Not all Muslims are Arabs. Many Muslims have only a very limited knowledge of the Arabic language; just enough to read from the Koran. Sometimes, they don't even understand what they are reading; they may have just been trained in recitation. One might consider the relationship of Christianity to Latin, particularly during the Middle Ages (though this is also not the best characterization, since the Bible was not originally written in Latin).

The Bible exists in Arabic as well and is used by Christians throughout the Arab world.

So, I think that it is safe to say that Arabic is spoken by non-Muslims, and Muslims don't all speak Arabic. Therefore, there can be a distinction made between the two.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Elbow Room & Lebensraum

Has anyone watched this (School House Rock - Elbow Room) since developing social awareness??? "Manifest Destiny" is the same as the "Lebensraum" policy of Hitler as far as I can tell. How can we still glorify this mentality? No wonder we are having trouble with the rest of the world!

One thing you will discover
When you get next to one another
Is everybody needs some elbow room, elbow room.

It's nice when you're kinda cozy, but
Not when you're tangled nose
to nosey, oh,
Everybody needs some elbow, needs
a little elbow room.

That's how it was in the early days
of the U.S.A.,
The people kept coming to settle though
The east was the only place there
was to go.

The President was Thomas Jefferson
He made a deal with Napoleon.
How'd you like to sell a mile or two, (or three, or a hundred or a thousand?)
And so, in 1803 the Louisiana Territory was sold to us
Without a fuss
And gave us lots of elbow room,

Oh, elbow room, elbow room,
Got to, got to get us some elbow room.
It's the West or bust,
In God we trust.
There's a new land out there...
Lewis and Clark volunteered to go,
Good-bye, good luck, wear your overcoat!
They prepared for good times and for bad (and for bad),
They hired Sacajawea to be their guide.
She led them all across the countryside.
Reached the coast
And found the most
Elbow room we've ever had.

The way was opened up for folks with bravery.
There were plenty of fights
To win land rights,
But the West was meant to be;
It was our Manifest Destiny!

The trappers, traders, and the peddlers,
The politicians and the settlers,
They got there by any way they could (any way they could).
The Gold Rush trampled down the wilderness,
The railroads spread across from East to West,
And soon the rest was opened up for - opened up for good.

And now we jet from East to West.
Good-bye New York, hello L.A.,
But it took those early folks to open up the way.

Now we've got a lot of room to be
Growing from sea to shining sea.
Guess that we have got our elbow room (elbow room)
But if there should ever come a time
When we're crowded up together, I'm
Sure we'll find some elbow room...up on the moon!

Oh, elbow room, elbow room.
Got to, got to get us some elbow room.
It's the moon or bust,
In God we trust.
There's a new land up there!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Done with Arabic Camp


I'm at my parents' house after the 8 week experience in...I don't know...right now the memories are just calling up a sense of dread.

After the initial shock of being in control of my life again wears off, I hope to be able to write an academic article about the experience in "intensive immersion" (the exact definition and what I actually experienced might not quite jive). Other first year students in the program said that they'd be interested in co-authoring such a project. (Originally, I was thinking that I would write it and would interview my fellow students as participants/subjects in a study, but I'm having trouble getting a professor to sign off on the human subjects committee protocol, because they don't want to risk upsetting their colleagues / bad publicity for the program if the subjects report too many negative experiences.)

Right now, I can say this: I learned a lot of Arabic, but I could have learned a lot more and been a lot farther away from a mental breakdown if things had been administered differently.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

More hawk photos

Here are some pictures of a younger hawk. Unfortunately, I didn't zoom in close enough to get really good shots. This one was also a lot further away than the other one.

squirrel pictures

I like taking pictures of squirrels and stuff. Completely random, I know.

The squirrels in the first picture are not doing what it looks like they might be doing. Really, they had just run up about 3 feet on a 7 foot tree to escape any threat that they thought that I might pose and are climbing over each other to get out of the way.

This squirrel was shrieking at us for a long time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A new understanding of the Holy Spirit

A friend of mine just shared this anecdote with me:

She was in a high school history class that was discussing the history of Christianity. There was also a girl from Asia there, who was not familiar with many of the concepts commonly held by various groups within Christianity. Some people in the class explained to her that God sent the Holy Spirit into Mary, and Jesus was born. So the girl thought about it and says: "So, the Holy Spirit is like God's sperm?"


another wrinkle on the hijab question

Another couple of Saudi guys told me the following about why women are to cover themselves, even though men don't have to:

  • There are some things that humans should not ponder too hard. For example, in Islam, men are not supposed to wear gold. In some brands of Christianity, there is the Holy Trinity, which is also a sacred mystery, not meant to be understood.
  • A lot of the application of the women-covering rules is local tradition and not inherent to Islam per se.
  • Men are stronger at controlling their emotions than women (an example of how men and women are different; beyond physical strength and child-bearing ability).
  • Unlike women, men are unable to control their sexual urges.

I'm not one for taking things on faith. If there is a prohibition, I want some sort of answer other than "just because". Sorry, can't ask me to stop pondering.

I think that everyone is capable of controlling their sexual behavior. Period. Sure, you'll get turned on by things, but that doesn't mean that you are powerless when it comes to deciding whether to act on those urges or not.

I think that the argument that men are better able to control their emotions is an artifact of their socialization. There are men who cry because they've never been taught not to, and those who won't because they've been led to believe that it is unmanly. I don't believe that it has much to do with sex; only with gender roles.

On the other hand, the hormonal cycles are different in men than in women (or visa versa). So, maybe there is more to it that should be considered.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kids' reading list

I would like to recommend the following socially conscious Dr. Seuss books for kids:
The Butter Battle Book

The Sneetches and Other Stories

The Lorax

They are great for getting kids to engage with social issues of the "other", both at home and abroad, foreign policy, and the environment. I'm sure that there are others, but these are the ones that I really loved when I was a kid!

Update on the hijab question

I asked my Iraqi friend what he thought about the whole women covering and men not covering thing. Here's his response:

Karen: My question: In strict traditional Islam, women are required to cover (at least) their hair. This is because of the concern that the female body will incite a sexual reaction in men. So, I ask; why is it that men don't also have to cover up? Why is it that in many countries, the women wear long robes and scarves, but the men wear western dress? Why don't men cover up to avoid awakening a sexual response in women?

Jassim: well

Jassim: let me think a little lol

Karen: ok

Jassim: it looks a good issue to talk about

Jassim: breifly, men should cover themselves too, this role is for men and women equaly, but because of the rugh nature of men (I think) so they not obay roles while force women to do it,

Jassim: actually I believe that all people women and men must be modest in their cloths to avoide these unneeded desires publicly, not to over practise it like some people does, they make women in those countries like a black bag, I don't think this is necessary , it is enough to be moderate in clothing

Jassim: Islam rised in Arabic land, not in Iran, Pakistan or india , arabic women were riding horses, speaching, telling portery and fighting in battles if necessary, they were modist as well as men,

Jassim: but not over covering even the face such as what known about arabic culture, actually alot of the history is not true about arabs, many things needs to be reknown

Jassim: I hope that I answered your question dear and I'm glad to answer

Something to think about from the Western standpoint is this: Women have to cover their chest, but men don't. Why is that exactly? A man with his shirt off can be incredibly arousing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's just a question...

So, I've been spending a lot of time around Arabic speakers. There is a very high concentration of Saudi Arabian students studying here, and they come to dinner with us.

I've been asking a number of them a question that has been getting some interesting responses.

My question: In strict traditional Islam, women are required to cover (at least) their hair. This is because of the concern that the female body will incite a sexual reaction in men. So, I ask; why is it that men don't also have to cover up? Why is it that in many countries, the women wear long robes and scarves, but the men wear western dress? Why don't men cover up to avoid awakening a sexual response in women? (A couple of these Saudi guys are REALLY cute!)

The first Saudi man I asked told me that when he is in Saudi Arabia, he wears the full Thobe with head covering. He said that the Prophet covered himself more than the women did. He said that he personally only wears western dress here so that he will blend in and not get attacked as an Arab. He also explained that in his country, if a woman is raped, the men in her family will kill the offender without involving the police, so there is a certain responsibility on the part of the woman to do what she can to keep that from happening.

The second guy looked awfully uncomfortable and evaded the question. I found out later that he hates talking about religion. I probably shouldn't have asked him and might have gone about it differently if I'd known. (I'd been working under the assumption that the Saudi students were all about sharing Islam, since that's what a friend who spends a lot of time with them had told me. Apparently, this particular one wasn't one of them, unlike the first guy I'd asked.)

The third guy also seemed a bit uncomfortable, but explained that it had more to do with physical ability to rape. He said that since women are the ones who are vulnerable, they are the ones who need to be protected by the hijab.

The fourth guy also didn't know what to respond, but promised to ask a friend of his, who is more knowledgeable in such things and get back to me. I asked him a bit later if I had offended him, and he assured me that I could ask him anything I wanted and that if he didn't have an answer, he would find out. I made a point of telling him that he didn't have to answer my questions if he didn't want to. I haven't seen him since, but it's only been a day or so.

Every time I ask this question of someone, my friend (who was present for conversations 2, 3 and 4; and is Muslim to some degree, though even he is unsure at this point...really long story) berates me for asking this question. He asks me why I am not just satisfied with what the third guy said. Tonight, he asked me not to ask this question anymore in his presence.

It was this friend who told me that the Saudi students were interested in convincing people of Islam. I'd say that this is definitely true of the first guy I asked, not true of the second, perhaps true of the third and of the fourth. This same friend told me that the third and fourth guys are both very religious and that the fourth guy talks about Islam a lot. So, my thought is, that if (the rhetorical) you are going to want to convince me of your beliefs, then I want to know how this apparent double-standard is resolved. If you are going to ask me to believe, then I need to know what I am supposed to believe and why.

Also, I've asked more than one guy, because there is more than one version of Islam. Some schools of thought don't require any particular garments. Others require them to more or lesser degrees. I wanted to know what the belief is. From my experience, asking four Christians about what it takes to get to heaven will all potentially elicit very different responses, so I figured that it's probably the same with Muslims. I should note that the first guy I asked is very openly anti-Shia, so I suspect that this is indicative of such schisms.

I think that I should ask my Iraqi friend. Maybe he will answer. Actually...I might have already asked him once and I don't think that he had a clear answer, but I can always ask again in light of these conversations.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The vase-anorexia link

Vrouwen voelen zich dikker door dunne vaas

Vrouwen die ontevreden zijn over hun lichaam voelen zich nog dikker bij het zien van een dunne vaas. De Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) deed er onderzoek naar en maakte de resultaten dinsdag bekend.

Het onderzoek toonde aan dat vrouwen zich ook met objecten vergelijken en niet alleen met andere vrouwen. Debra Trampe onderzocht hoe vrouwen die ontevreden zijn over hunl ichaam, reageren op een dikke of een dunne vaas. 'De vrouwen die de dikke vaas te zien kregen behielden hetzelfde lichaamsbeeld', vertelt Trampe. 'De vrouwen die de dunne vaas zagen voelden zich nadien nog ontevredener.' Volgens Trampe vergelijken vrouwen zich met alle vormen waarin ze een lichaamsvorm kunnen zien.


De Standaard, webeditie, 30 mei 2007

Women feel fatter through slender vases.

Women who are dissatisfied with their bodies feel even fatter when they see a thin vase. The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) did a study about this and reported the results on Thursday.

The study demonstrated that women also compare themselves with objects and not just women. Debra Trampe studied how women, who are dissatisfied with their bodies react to a wide or narrow vase. 'The women who saw the wide vase kept the same body-image', says Trampe. 'The women who saw the slender vase felt even less satisfied afterwards.' According to Trampe, women compare themselves to all forms in which they can see a human figure.


De Standaard, web edition, 30 May 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Twenty-Fifth Hour by C. Virgil Gheorghiu

I recently finished reading The Twenty-Fifth Hour by C. Virgil Gheorghiu (as opposed to the handful of books by the same title by other authors). It had been recommended to me by Jassim, who has read it at leasts a dozen times. He said that it really describes the current situation in Iraq, even though the protagonist is a WWII era Romanian farmer, who is wrongfully imprisoned and passed from internment camp to internment camp throughout the war.

There is a review of it from TIME from 1950:

...It is the innocent helplessness of its heroes that gives The Twenty-Fifth Hour its heavy coating of irony. Men, Gheorghiu is saying, no longer think in terms of individuals or their happiness. Human life has ceased to mean anything except as a cog in some machine or pattern. Production, material results, categories, statistics—these are all that count. The criminals are not so much the Nazis and the Communists as the big-machine boys everywhere. And of all the nations in the world, says Gheorghiu, it is the U.S. that most fervently worships the twin cults of bigness and the machine. Author Gheorghiu (who steadfastly refuses to visit the U.S.) offers his novelist's proof: his heroes, sure they can count on justice from the Americans, get a heartless shake in U.S. Army P.W. camps.

Choice in Despair. Despite its European popularity, The Twenty-Fifth Hour is no literary masterpiece. Its plot is heavily propped with coincidence, the characters are undeveloped and its message is spelled out with "petitions" that bring the story to repeated full stops. Gheorghiu's villain, machine-age power, is neither an original nor a persuasive one. What gives the book its impact is its assembly of evidence of man's inhumanity to man, by no means peculiar to the machine age. ...

As stated in the TIME review, the mechanics weren't excellent, but most of the book was a compelling read and it certainly made an impact, despite the occasional sermon/manifesto-like tone interspersed throughout the narrative.

gay fetus

I saw a new (to me, anyway) question posted online:

If the fetus you save is gay, will you still fight for its rights?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Torture in Germany

I just found out a from a German friend of mine, that women who have an abortion are required to look at the aborted fetus. Apparently, they are also required to have a 'counseling session' before the abortion, in which they show how horrible a decision it is. (I don't know if this is an actual law, local practice or what, just that my German friend understands it to be widespread.)

I'm not opposed to having a counseling session, if the information is provided in a 'just the facts' way to let the woman know what potential health and psychological risks are. It's also OK to let her know what various social implications might be. However, such a session should not be aimed at convincing the woman to decide one way or the other.

I think that bombarding the woman with images of ripped apart fetuses does nothing but attack her mental well-being. I don't believe that she should be forced to not only make the difficult decision but also be tortured with having to see what remains of the fetus.

All that said, I can understand why they force women to see the fetus. It is reminiscent of the American policy at the end of WWII to march locals through the concentration camps to make them see what they allowed to happen.

I don't know. I guess it all comes down to whether you consider a fetus a living, thinking being or not. For me, I guess the line really does come down to when it becomes aware of its surroundings.

I don't think that I would personally feel comfortable with an abortion, but I wouldn't deny a woman the right to make that decision for herself.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stay the course!

That's right! Stay the course! Keep eating that dinner, even if you come to believe that it is poisoned! No flip-flopping!

Monday, June 04, 2007


I just finished writing this Email to my Iraqi friend and decided that it would make a good blog post. We had been chatting online when the power was cut there forcing him offline.

Hi Jassim,

How appropriate that our conversation about a power outage was cut short by a power outage!

You had just asked how my dad would do with only one hour of power a day. I'd imagine that it would be pretty devastating for him. Walking through my parents' home when my father has just gone out means finding the light on in every room. There are 2 televisions on the main floor, and it is quite common for them both to be on. Sometimes, the TV in the attic is also on. The stove in the kitchen is a gas stove, but it has an electric ignition, so one either needs electricity or a match to light the gas to cook.

Another reason why my dad was so upset about the power outage on Wednesday, was that my parents had bought a generator last year when the power was out, but the generator was in the garage, and the garage couldn't be opened, because the garage door opener needed electricity. Since there was no access door then (though there is now, after some choice words to the contractor), the generator was out of reach and useless until the power came back on (though Dad did figure out how to break into the garage anyway).

I think that my parents' generation is perhaps the most wasteful and the least apologetic about it. Their parents and grandparents had lived through the Great Depression and WWII and had learned to save everything. By the time the 1950s and 1960s came along, there was an overabundance of resources and consumer goods available in the United States and everyone wanted to have everything that they could have. There was the idea of "keeping up with the Joneses", which meant that you couldn't let the neighbors have more stuff than you did, so you had to keep buying things in order to keep up. Cars were big and got bigger until the 1970s, when there was an oil scare. I think that the generation of baby boomers considers it a right, or maybe even a responsibility, to live with as many things/toys as possible, because they can. There seems to be little thought of what one really needs or should do. I think that the idea is not to ask 'why' someone should have/do something, but rather 'why not?'.

In later generations, though I couldn't say exactly when, they started teaching about the environment in school. America is still worlds behind Europe in environmental awareness, but it's starting to catch on. Most of the people I know recycle at least some things. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are careful to turn off lights when leaving a room. A lot choose to ride a bike or take the bus rather than driving. For my dad's generation, it's nearly impossible to understand why someone would want to walk or take a bus when one could drive. I personally prefer driving most of the time as well, but I think that this might be partially because I grew up in a small town without public transit, where everything was spread far apart.

It's really amazing to stop and think about how much power we use in this country and how many resources we just throw away. It's also important to remember that although I've framed everything in terms of generations, there are also other factors involved. For instance, about a month ago, I decided that I needed a new mouse for my computer, because the old one had stopped working reliably. I commented to my friend, who is about 20 years old, that I had had the same mouse for about 7 years. He was really shocked. He said that he didn't think he had anything that he'd had that long. He also tends to leave the water running in the sink when he is getting ready to do dishes, whether he is in the kitchen or stepped out to make a phone call or go to the bathroom.

This really is a throw-away culture. People replace things just because they feel like something new or because they are too lazy to clean or repair what they already have. Whenever I think about my time in Europe, where they could live like we do in America, but for the most part don't, or about my experience in Bolivia, where 80% of the population is lucky if they have power and water at all, or about you in Iraq with your one hour of power a day, I can't help but feel a heightened sense of responsibility to conserve resources.

On the other hand, I like my creature comforts. I'm willing to turn off extra lights and the TV, but I still have the air conditioner on. I tell myself that it is because of the ferrets, but they would survive with it a bit warmer. I could probably turn the A/C off at night without hurting them, and sometimes do, though I just as often leave it on. Scolding others for wasting power is only hypocritical when I think about how much I prefer driving to taking the bus or how often I have my computer on, even when I am not actually using it.

There is a bumper-sticker that I have seen that says "Live simply that others may simply live". I guess that this is something that we should all take to heart, even if we aren't angels ourselves.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Carrier

After getting Goldie a carrier, I found out that my ferrets were really jazzed about having a carrier. So, I went out and got the same carrier for them. As soon as I got it assembled here at home, Chaos carried out quality control.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On Pirates of the Caribbean 3

Yesterday, my family and I went to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. I really liked the first in the trilogy. I was greatly disappointed by the second one. The third one had some potential, but blew some things, I think. You can stop reading now if you haven't seen the film yet.

Probably the biggest annoyance with the whole movie is all the buildup that comes to naught. For example, take the whole Calypso subplot. She's a ticked off goddess, who is going to make everyone pay. Well, in the end, she does nothing. Not even a scorned lover's hand coming out of the ocean to pull the ship of her choice down with her. She could have either really harmed or really helped one of the causes in the tangle of intrigue, but instead harmlessly dissolves into a pile of crabs after growing to a giant on the ship and saying something incomprehensible (to me, anyway). Sure...there's the maelstrom, but really, what does that do??? The ships aren't particularly harmed by it. It just makes for some briefly interesting graphics.

There is a lot of unfulfilled lead in. Was anyone else disappointed by how easy it was to just waltz into the land of the dead and come back out? How about the ease at which Elizabeth's father Governor Swann and Norrington are killed. And then there's the Captain Sao Feng; he was there, he was a bad-ass, and then he's gone. What's up with that? I think that random deaths of lead characters is more acceptable in a more serious drama, but in a fantasy epic, it is out of place, I think, and should be a bigger deal.

OK, so now that I've harped on what I didn't like about the movie, what did I like?

Hmm...the only moments sticking out for me right now are the scene where Will and Elizabeth are married by Barbossa in the middle of a battle. (Does a marriage performed by a pirate captain carry legal weight? Today, do couples getting married at sea have to apply for a marriage license?)

The scene with the rocks/crabs was pretty cool.

Oh, and then the kiss scene between Will and Elizabeth towards the end was pretty well filmed.

Nothing else is really doing it for me. I guess there just weren't that many memorable moments. I'm not even a great fan of Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly, so it is surprising that they are the ones in the scenes that I most remember.

So, from there, did anyone stay to the end of the credits? It's a scene 10 years later, in which Elizabeth is waiting for Will (now captain of the Flying Dutchman) to return for their day together. She has a boy of approximately 10 years (probably more like 9 years and 3 months) with her. Will appears and we can only assume that he gets to meet his son before the boy gets sent away so that Will and Elizabeth can make wild passionate love.

So, now for the meta thoughts. Was anyone else struck by the fact that the heroes of the story were pirates (closely akin to terrorist with the distinction that pirates not only kill lots of innocents but also rob them in the process), and that many of the people killed by our heroes were men in uniform? I'm all for questioning authority, but that just seems a little too much. Oh wait...must suspend disbelief.

Later, my brother (age 22) and I (age 25) discussed whether we would wait for someone for 10 years as per the Will/Elizabeth arrangement. My position was no, because I need more in a relationship than 10 years of yearning with a day together each decade. He insisted that if it were true love, then one would wait. I pointed out that even Jacob in the Bible, who worked for 7 years to marry Rachel and ended up having to marry everyone else in the family first wasn't just pining away for Rachel the whole time. He had a number of wives and concubines by the time it was all over! I think that my brother is still tied into the romantic ideals from books that he reads and from movies. The fact that he is currently in a long-distance relationship with a dubious outcome probably is part of it too. I can't help but wonder if the only thing that my brother thinks is missing from the Will/Elizabeth relationship is 10 years of sex. I can't imagine that he is aware of the value of the daily interaction and support that one has in a "normal" relationship that would be missing from the Will/Elizabeth thing and still be so willing to dismiss their necessity for a long-term relationship. Also, if Elizabeth has a kid to raise, then she'd not only be worried about someone to warm her bed at night, but to help provide for the child. I think that practical considerations, both in the case of emotional/spiritual fulfillment and more economic concerns would make the 10 year wait near impossible for a normal person without a martyr complex.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ferrets are still illegal in California

And I ask, why????

I told James about ferrets being illegal in some places because they were afraid that the ferrets would go feral and eat babies and he laughed as he tried to imagine Chaos inflicting harm on an infant. Ain't gonna happen.

This isn't to say that a ferret couldn't harm a child; however, they pose no greater risk than a dog or a cat.

Of course, people in California can't learn to love ferrets through contact, because they are illegal there. There are many people who I run into whenever I take the ferrets out here, where they are legal, who don't about them, but find out after short contact that there is nothing to fear. Not only are Californians prevented from in-person ferret interaction, but they have been fed misinformation.

I'm going to re-print some information from the site:

The State of California says:

"The state of Massachusetts has adopted a law (with) restrictions against ferrets because... wild ferrets deciminated a population of endangered Terns."

Jack C. Parnell, Director
Memo, February 26, 1986

But others say:

"There has never been a recorded case of Tern predation by a ferret in Massachusetts. In fact, I have never heard of such a case anywhere in North America."

Thomas M. French, PhD
Assistant Director
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Letter, February 20, 1991


The State of California says:

"...ferrets prey upon... waterfowl..."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
Calif. Dept. of Fish & Game
Letter, March 25, 1994

But others say:

"The domestic Ferret is not considered a threat to waterfowl."

Ducks Unlimited
Letter, March 6, 1996

"...(we have) never heard of any problem with domestic ferrets destroying waterfowl (duck) eggs and ... we have never encountered any domestic ferrets in the fields."

Delta Waterfowl Foundation
Letter, February 11, 1997

"In the 30 year history of research conducted by Northern Prairie Science Center on nesting waterfowl, domestic ferrets have never been identified or considered as a predator of duck nests."

United States Department of the Interior
Letter, February 19, 1997


The State of California says:

"Ferrets... prey upon... poultry..."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Deptartment of Fish and Game
Letter and Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

But others say:

"Our board felt that allowing domestic ferrets to be owned as pets will not threaten or hurt the California Poultry industry."

Bill Mattos, President
California Poultry Industry Federation
Letter, February 3, 1994

"We are not opposed to AB 2497 (Bill to legalize ferrets in 1994)..."

Richard L. Matteis, Ex. VP
Pacific Egg & Poultry Assn.
Letter, March 7, 1994


The State of California says:

"Ferrets can and will survive in the wild in California."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Deptartment of Fish and Game
Letter and Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

But others say:

"... stray ferrets do not appear capable... of establishing themselves in the wild..."

Centers for Disease Control
Veterinary Public Health Notes
October 1980

"... domestic ferrets... can survive only in captivity."

United States Public Health Service
Letter, January 28, 1986


The State of California says:

"Presently a feral ferret population exists in Washington State on San Juan Island, Washington..."

California Deptartment of Health Services
December 1988

But others say:

"... there are no ferrets living in Washington that prey upon native wildlife."

Thomas C. Juelson, PhD
Department of Wildlife
State of Washington
Letter, April 14, 1988


The State of California says:

"Ferrets,... like pit bulls have been bred to be especially ferocious..."

"Pet European Ferrets..."
Pg. 17 California Deptartment of Health Services

But others say:

"... Ferrets are similar to domestic cats... their behavior is docile and cat-like..."

Centers for Disease Control
U.S. Public Health Service
October, 1980

"Ferrets are considered to be easily handled and non-dangerous..."

U.S. Department of Agriculture
March 31, 1987


The State of California says:

"Ferrets... have contributed to the extinction of 20 species of New Zealand birds and have pushed many to the brink of extinction."

Attributed to Carolyn King, author of "Immigrant Killers," by Drs. Constantine & Kizer in "Pet European Ferrets: A Hazard to Public Health, Small Livestock and Wildlife."

The above statement does not appear anywhere in "Immigrant Killers."

What does appear in "Immigrant Killers" is the following:

"There is not a single known extinction or diminution in New Zealand that can be regarded as definitely and solely due to (ferrets and other) mustelids... Overseas the story is the same: only 1 percent of 163 extinctions recorded from Islands all over the world since 1600, have been attributed to mustelids (ferrets, stoats, weasels and polecats) compared with 26% attributed to cats and 54% attributed to rats."

"Immigrant Killers"
Carolyn King, Ph.D.
Page #106
Scientific Editor
Royal Society of New Zealand


One State of California agency says:

"Feral populations (of ferrets) seem to... have developed in California in recent years."

"Pet European Ferrets: A Hazard to Public Health, Small Livestock and Wildlife."
Page #34
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

However, another State of California agency says:

"All available information to date indicates that a feral population of ferrets does not occur in California."

Henry J. Voss, Director
California Department of Food & Agriculture
June 26, 1989


The State of California says:

"stray, nonbreeding ferrets could have serious impacts on local wildlife populatons."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
Letter & Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

What others say:

"Lost ferrets are rarely found and usually die soon after escape."

State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection

"Domesticated Ferrets have become so dependent upon humans that they cannot survive without care if lost and often die within a few days."

The Encyclopedia Brittanica
Volume 4, pages 746-747

"...domestic ferrets... can survive only in captivity."

Leigh Ann Sawyer, DVM, MPH
United States Public Health Service
Letter, January 28, 1986


The State of California says:

"Rabid ferrets may occur any place at any time."

"Pet European Ferrets..." p. 24
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

What others say:

"When asked about the threat form rabies, I pointed out that it was such an unlikely scenario that unless an owner had the disease and bit his ferret, it would be difficult to imagine how a housebound and frequently cagebound animal could become exposed to the disease."

Roger Caras, President
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ASPCA
Letter, September 20, 1995


The State of California says:

"Being fearless, savage and tenacious... should make them (ferrets) exceptionally effective transmitters of rabies."

"Pet European Ferrets..." p. 36
California Department of Health Services
December 1988

What others say:

Annual Summaries of Rabies Surveillance
1984-1990---Centers for Disease Control,
United States Public Health Service

2,240 rabid dogs
2,310 rabid cats
10 rabid ferrets

There never has been a recorded transmission of rabies from a ferret to a human being.


The State of California says:

"Is there a 'proven' vaccine to prevent rabies (in ferrets)? No."

Boyd Gibbons, Director
California Department of Fish and Game
Letter & Ferret Fact Sheet
March 25, 1994

What others say:

Rhone Merieux is the manufacturer of IMRAB, a killed rabies vaccine which has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture for use in six species of animals, including ferrets..."

Donald G. Hildebrand, President
Rhone Merieux
Cease and Desist letter April 6, 1994

I really don't get why someone would go through so much trouble to create anti-ferret legislation in the first place and then fight to preserve it. Maybe someone was bit by a ferret as a child (just as they may have been by a cat or a dog or another child) and took it personally.

Another thing that has occurred to me is this: If the government of California is lying about ferret behavior, then what else are they lying about?

So, if you are a resident of California (or anywhere else that bans ferrets) or know someone who is, please do your part to inform the public about the loving nature of the domesticated ferret (which is as different from the black-footed ferret as a wolf is from the domesticated dog - actually more so, since domesticated dogs can set up packs in the wild, but domesticated ferrets just die when they wander off).