Cast of Characters:

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

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gratuitous ferret photos

Here are some pictures of my babies.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Man's best friend

Thanks to In the Headlights for posting this.

It seems a lot of us have heard this on A Prairie Home Companion.

The Revenant by Billy Collins

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you--not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and--greatest of insults--shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner--
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.


Illustration from Crawley Creatures

Saturday, March 24, 2007

On "Airport Insecurity"

So, yeah, what's the deal with airport security these days? It seems like all sorts of little rules have been established to make it look like something is being done, but in reality, I wonder how much is actually being achieved, except for a big headache for all concerned.

Here is an excerpt from "Airport Insecurity" by Burt Prelutsky.


What was not provided at either airport was an explanation. If toothpaste and deodorant in the wrong hands somehow form a dangerous combination, what possible difference does the size of the container make? And why is it important to place them in plastic? Are Islamic terrorists reporting back to Osama bin Laden that the Great Satan has stymied their sabotage efforts with the baggy defense?

I'd also like to know who's making all the money providing the airlines with these millions of plastic baggies. Call me a cynic, but I'm smelling political pay-offs.


So...if toothpaste and deodorant are dangerous in large quantities, but you can carry on small quantities, what is to prevent would be terrorists from all taking the same flight and combining their otherwise insufficient quantities of toiletries into a super bomb? Also, as long as we're on the subject, maybe these toiletries should be banned from high school locker rooms too. If there's a way to make a bomb out of it, some punk kid will try it. Maybe these toiletries should be confiscated at the doors to all public buildings, just to be safe.

On the Treatment of Veterans

I think that it is safe to say that most Americans, whether they believe in war in general (or the current wars in particular) or not think that returning veterans deserve better treatment than what they are getting.

I was just reading "Returning Veterans Need Real Assistance" by Paul Weyrich, and found out that although there is a law protecting reservists rights to get their old jobs back upon return from duty, complaints are funneled through the Pentagon and the Department of Labor, rather than through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

There is so much rhetoric about supporting the troops, but when it comes right down to it, they are treated as expendable and provided with substandard access to medical treatment and job security upon their return. Also, what excuse can be offered for the high number of military families on welfare???

Let's really support the troops, not just in word but in deed.

On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- for the Devout"

Well, I think that I need to take Debra's point on this one. Everyone is entitled to express their opinion. The important thing, in my opinion, is to consider what the political and human fallout of such an expression might be. I still think that public figures need to be very aware of what they say on camera, but they still have the right to say it. The news media is the filter deciding whether we hear about it or even care that it was said.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- for the Devout
By Debra J. Saunders


It will be a sad day in America if tolerance for gays is won because intolerance of devout Christians, whose faith tells them homosexuality is a sin, prevails. You want tolerance? Exercise it. Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, issued this how-dare-they statement: "What is immoral is to weaken our national security because of personal prejudices. Gen. Pace's comments were irresponsible, offensive and a slap in the face to the gay men and women who are currently serving their country with honor and bravery."

Translation: You can't call us immoral. If you do, you have to apologize. But we can call you immoral, secure in the knowledge that no one in the media will ask us to apologize.


Be it noted, Pace, a Catholic, also supported military sanctions against adulterers, whose behavior he also called "immoral." Because there is no politically powerful lobby for adulterers, there have been no calls for Pace to apologize. Before I continue, let me mention that I don't like "don't ask, don't tell." It's a wrong-headed policy that hurts America's national security by keeping good people who want to serve their country out of the military. A federal audit found that "don't ask, don't tell" has cost the military some 10,000 troops, including professionals with important skill sets -- most notably 322 linguists and 54 Arabic specialists -- since President Bill Clinton promoted the policy in 1993.

Just as important, a caring country does not marginalize people who, I believe, came into this world gay or lesbian. America is strong precisely because it offers opportunities to all, just as San Francisco has a unique flavor because of its history as a haven for homosexuals. I also like how some of the same people who lament that President Bush did not listen to dissenting voices on the Iraq war now argue that Pace should not voice his personal opinions. They are advocating a de-facto "don't ask, don't tell" policy -- but for traditional Catholics.


It's especially hard for some groups of Christians not to speak out about their beliefs on homosexuality and other perceived sins, since many feel called by Christ to make a witness to all and sundry. For them, asking them not to speak in public about their views is asking them to deny themselves, in a similar way as asking gays to hide their sexuality.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

half a cube of ferret gruel

I found that the ferrets will lap up half an (ice) cube worth of gruel with a couple tablespoons of water. I defrost the half-cube for 25 seconds in the microwave, squish it with a fork, and then blend in cold water with the fork. I've been cutting the cubes in half with a sharp knife and saving the other half for later in the freezer. That way, I don't have to throw half of it away, since they don't seem to like it after it has sat in the fridge all day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On acceptable bigotry

Here are I shall refer to the following column at

Acceptable bigotry?
By Carol Platt Liebau

Two major news stories last week had unsettling implications for the status of religion – and freedom of conscience – in the United States. First, a USA Today poll reported that while 94% of Americans said they would vote for a qualified presidential nominee who was black – and 88% said they would vote for a woman – only 72% would vote for a Mormon. Only days later, General Peter Pace ignited a firestorm by commenting that homosexual behavior – like adultery – is immoral.

What was, perhaps, most disheartening about the USA Today poll was the silence of those who are usually most likely to publicize real or perceived instances of bigotry....


America may well be proud of the strides it has taken to ensure that neither sex nor skin color constitutes a barrier to success in the United States. Certainly, much of the impetus for greater inclusiveness has been inspired by the Judeo-Christian principles that have animated so much of American life. It would be ironic – and sad – if, having come so far in so many areas, religion became the one area where bigotry and discrimination remained socially acceptable.

So, that was the beginning and the end of this little column. Ms. Liebau has suggested that the fact that only 72% of Americans polled said that they would vote for a Mormon is a form of bigotry.

The definition of a bigotry, as offered by The Random House Unabridged Dictionary is
stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own.

Based on this definition, then refusing to elect a Mormon president for the mere fact that s/he is a Mormon could be called bigoted.

However, I think that Ms. Liebau is missing the bigger picture. It's not the fact that said candidate has the label "Mormon" that causes the problem, at least not for me. It's the likely political agenda of said hypothetical candidate.

If a Mormon were in the White House, it's possible that he would support legislation limiting the consumption of alcohol and caffeine. It's also possible that he would try to put through other laws supporting his religious agenda, not unlike a certain born-again Christian in the White House.

Now, if said hypothetical Mormon candidate were to assure me that he would not attempt to limit my freedoms in any way beyond principles supported by mainstream non-religion specific society, then I would give the guy a chance. If he seems to be a decent guy, then why not? Barring the banning of some of the most popular beverages in the country and other possible religious changes, a Mormon probably wouldn't be any worse than any one else.

So, in short; give me someone reasonable, and not a religious wacko with visions of dictatorship, and he can practice whatever religion he'd like.

So, insofar as the distaste of having a Mormon (or a woman, or a black person, or anyone else) for president is built on broad prejudicial generalizations about the entire group, then it's a problem. Each person does need to be individually qualified.

Incidentally, if you take a look at the poll itself, Mormons were singled out. I wonder how people would have responded if "Born Again Christian" had been on the poll?

It's wrong to discriminate on the basis of religion. On the other hand, the practicing of any given religion is not allowed to infringe on my rights.

As far as General Peter Pace making statements about homosexuality, he is entitled to his opinions. He is also entitled to hearing public response to them if he makes them known in public. I would suggest, that as a senior officer in the military, he should be extremely careful as to what he says, though, since it could be taken as speaking for everyone in the armed services.

Pace and this un-named Mormon candidate can believe whatever they want, as long as they follow the law and don't try to infringe upon the life, liberty, or happiness of anyone else.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"You're Beautiful" or not...

Wow...Weird Al has done it again. I think I would have to cry if someone were singing this to/about me!

"You're Pitiful"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Girls need their daddies (much more than anyone else???)

So, back at is Calling All Fathers: Save the Girls By Kathleen Parker

I started reading it and thought that the APA study sounded interesting. I even thought that the third paragraph was witty. I also think that it's pretty clear that the sexualization of girls is a problem. Of course, saying that a study is useless because it demonstrates the obvious is flawed; we can't know if the obvious is really true until it's been proven. (For example, it was certain that the earth was flat, not too long ago in the history of the world.) But anyway, the basic idea that girls shouldn't be sexualized seems legit enough.

Then I got to the end and was wondering where the link was. I'm pretty sure that it wasn't in the middle of the piece (which you are welcome to go read). I'll quote the first few and the last few paragraphs and let you decide. Then I'll comment a bit.

When it comes to figuring out what's gone wrong with our culture, we can usually rely on the American Psychological Association (APA) to catch on last.

Thus, it came to pass a few days ago that the APA released its findings that American girls are sexualized. And that's bad.

If you missed the headlines, it may be because of stiff competition from the breaking news that Anna Nicole is still dead and Britney is still disturbed.

Irony doesn't get to be ironic when it's that conspicuous.

The APA report found that girls are sexualized in nearly every medium and product -- from ads and video games to clothing, cosmetics and even dolls. Anyone who has walked down an American street the past few years has seen the effects -- little girls dressed as tartlets and teens decked in bling, while mom takes pole-dancing lessons at the gym.


Fathers, after all, are the ones who tell their little girls that they're perfect just the way they are; that they don't need to be one bit thinner; and that under no circumstances are they going out of the house dressed that way.

It can't be coincidence that girls' self-objectification -- looking for male attention in all the wrong ways -- has risen as father presence has declined. At last tally, 30 percent of fathers weren't sleeping in the same house as their biological children.

The APA is calling for more education, more research, forums, girls groups and Web zines to tackle girl sexualization. But my instinctual guess is that getting fathers back into their daughters' lives and back on the job would do more than all the forums and task forces combined.

Ultimately, it's a daddy thing.

While I won't argue the value of having a dad around, I find it hard to believe that a dad is the only person who can help a girl with self-confidence. A mother can tell a girl that she looks fine. A mother can tell a girl that she doesn't need to be thinner. Mothers can also tell their daughters that they can't leave the house dressed like a hooker.

I think that it's ridiculous to assume that the lack of a father is the determining factor. This is like linking ice cream sales to murders, since they correlate in frequency. (Hint: They both have to do with summer and not so much to do with each other.)