Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Warren Piece

Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is to deliver Convocation at the Presidential Inagueration.
He has stated on the church website that unrepentant homosexuals are not welcome at his church. He supported California's Proposition 8 which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to wed.

Maybe the government shouldn't be in the marriage business.
Any maybe religious prayers should not be said at state functions.

But given that the government is in the marriage business, and given that prayers are said at state functions, I think that the views held by those who deliver prayers at state functions can sometimes matter, and in this case, they do.

When a religious figure presides at a state function, he plays a certain symbolic role, and is accorded a certain status. He is speaking as spiritual leader, or moral authority. Perhaps you don't consider him your spiritual leader, and you do not recognize his moral authority. But by picking Warren for this role Obama has in effect asked the American people to see him as a spiritual leader and a moral authority, or at least communicated the idea that he sees Warren as an appropriate fit for that role. It is an expression of respect for his spiritual and moral leadership.

If a religious leader speaks at a state function, and the speaker is known for regarding, treating, and arguing that other people should treat some members of the citizenry as undeserving of the full rights and privileges granted to other citizens, then that view is implicitly sanctioned as at least tolerable by those who are responsible for putting him in the role of spiritual and moral authority at the state function. Imagine having a preacher that has spoken out against interracial marriage at the inauguration. What kind of message would that send?

There are those who think that Warren's views are tolerable and even commendable. I don't agree, but we can have that argument another day. What troubles me is those who say they disagree with Warren about same-sex marriage, but think having him speak at the inauguration is not a problem.

Some of the arguments of the apologists:
  • Obama said he would talk to leaders of Iran and North Korea, and that was supposed to be OK. Rick Warren is not nearly as bad as those guys, so this should be OK too.
I'd have no problem with Obama talking to Rick Warren. Even without pre-conditions. I'd be happy for them to negotiate if they had something to negotiate about. But you wouldn't put Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong-il up there to sanction this big important national event. Why not? I'm not saying Warren is part of the axis of evil, but whatever reason you would have for not wanting a bad guy to cloud your big day should apply to Warren as well.
  • Obama is "reaching across the aisle" just like he said he would.
But Warren isn't a Republican congressman that liberals need to negotiate with in order to get legislation passed or something. Political negotiations among lawmakers on various sides of the same-sex marriage issue is probably a good and necessary thing, pragmatically. Perhaps reaching out to their constituents, the evangelicals and the like, is part of that process. But putting someone in what is considered a position of honor is not a matter of being willing to talk and negotiate with them. Its symbolic meaning is much more than that.
  • We can disagree about policy without being disagreeable.
It's not like we're disagreeing about a gas tax holiday. We're disagreeing about the permissibility of some people being denied rights that other citizens have, of treating some people as second-class citizens, of denying some committed monogamous couples privileges and benefits granted to others merely on the basis of their genders. I can't blame gays, lesbians, and allies for being a tad disagreeable at the moment.

And I'm not saying Obama should be disagreeable to Warren. If you discuss same-sex marriage, or any other controversial issue with Warren, by all means, behave like a perfect gentleman. But if you find your opponent's views morally problematic, don't put him up on a pedestal and ask for his blessing.
  • In the long run, this will do more good than harm for gays and lesbians.
Well, that's a prediction, and a counterfactual. (We'll never be able to compare the world where Warren spoke at the inauguration to the one where he didn't.) But apart from existential doubts about possible worlds, I don't know why we should think that's true. What can be accomplished for gays and lesbians that is less likely to happen without an anti-gay marriage minister speaking at the inauguration? Is it placating the opponents? or galvanizing them? Is it mobilizing the supporters? Or were they already mobilized after passage of Proposition 8?

And furthermore, it's a crassly consequentialist argument. I'm not saying consequentialism is crass, but consider this analogy. After Jessica Lunsford was abducted and murdered, her father became an activist and got Jessica's Law passed in many states, and (suppose for the sake of argument) numerous would-be victims of child molesters and predators are better off as a result of this course of events.

...and therefore there was nothing wrong with John Couey abducting, raping, and burying Jessica alive?

I'm not saying there's anything equivalent to abduction, rape, and murder going on here.
My point is that inviting Warren speak at the inauguration could be bad in itself, even if, by some strange course of events, it turns out to have good consequences.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It is better to give than to receive

So if you really want to do something nice for someone, encourage them to give you something.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Be careful what you wish for!

Bush's "right of conscience" rule would allow those working in health-related facilities that receive federal funds to refuse treatment based on moral, rather than scientific, grounds.

Apparently, the intent of this rule is to protect those apposed to contraception and abortion from having to participate in procedures that they consider immoral.

But this would seem to cover
  • the Jehovah's Witness who refuses to facilitate blood transfusions or organ transplants
  • the Christian Scientist who regards anything but prayer therapy to be immoral
  • The Scientologist who finds fault with most mental health treatments
  • the euthanasia-ist who objects to administering life-sustaining treatment to terminally ill patients
  • the vegan working in the hospital cafeteria!
There are people who think that it's morally problematic for those in industrialized nations to expend so many resources on having their own biological children given global poverty and overpopulation. There are racial purists who think it is wrong to bring children of mixed race into the world. By the same standards, they would be justified in refusing fertility treatments, prenatal care, etc.

The lesson is, when you want moral views to get special consideration, unless you are going to dictate which moral views get special consideration, you set yourself up for giving special consideration to views that you don't agree with.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't Know Much About Economics...

But as far as I can figure...

The plan of the Trouble Asset Relief Program is that the US government borrows money from China so that they can lend it to banks so banks can lend it to consumers/taxpayers.

(China should just open up banks in the US and lend directly to consumers. Cut out the middle men! Especially ones that spend the money on spa retreats for their clients.)

So basically, the government is putting taxpayers in debt so that money can be lent to same taxpayers, with interest.

If enough taxpayers pay back the bank, the bank can pay the government, and the government can pay back China, and if there's any left over, it will "benefit the taxpayer," whatever that means.

(Another short cut: If you really want to benefit the taxpayer, reduce the amount that they have to pay on their loans now, rather than giving them a promise of a cut of the profits made off their own interest payments.)

Now, if not enough taxpayers pay their loans, the bank can't pay back the government, but the government still has to pay back China, so where will they get the money? From taxpayers!Which taxpayers? The ones who were unable or unwilling to pay their loans? Unlikely. For the others (and subsequent generations), after they're done paying back any money that they may have borrowed, they still have to pay back the money that someone else borrowed. That sounds less like being financially responsible and more like being a sucker.

Another thing...
If the Big 3 are good for the money, why can't they get regular loans?

Credit is tight, I know. But the government already gave billions to financial institutions so they could make loans. I guess the banks figure they shouldn't risk the taxpayer's money that way. That would be irresponsible!

But what do I know?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


...if you want. It doesn't really matter.
My polling place is in walking distance from my house. I arrived shortly after 8 AM. I waited in line about 1/2 hour, here in the battleground state of Nebraska. No ID required. If you know the name and address of a registered voter and beat them to the poles, you could vote instead of them. Vote early and vote often -- that's what I always say.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

I started my Ravelry account, but I had trouble posting my pics on it. I had to put my pictures on Flicker first or something, but I didn't have a Flicker account, and so I went to do that, and it crashed my computer. So I haven't really done much with my Ravelry account yet. But I will when I get some time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back to School

The Fall semester is upon us. I've been pretty busy since I got back from England. I taught a 5 week summer course and tried to tie up lots of loose ends. I didn't get it all done so I'm going to be even busier. I start teaching my fall class on Monday. I'll be teaching a seminar Wednesday which will cut into my Wednesday night knitting at B&N.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I just joined the waiting list for Ravelry. Finally! For those of you who don't know, it's a website for knit and crochet where you can talk about knit and crochet, post pictures, and much more. So, I'm going to start posting my knit and crochet pics there and leave this blog for other stuff (if there is any other stuff!) I'll post my Ravelry user name when I get on.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baby Socks

9 pairs of baby socks for Sewing for Babies.
The striped ones are made with Red Heart Strata. The solids are Caron Simply Soft.
I varied the ribbings and heel flaps a little.
The purple one is all garter stitch from the ribbing down. It makes a cute puffy little bootie.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All the Shawls

In case you didn't know, afghans for Afghans latest campaign is to collect shawls for mothers of newborns treated at a hospital in Kabul, and I've been working on them all Summer, pretty much.
Shawls are due at the a4A collection center in a week, so I'm going to stop making and start sending them now.There's 8 in all. 4 were knit with The Ultimate Sweater Machine. (It's not just for sweaters, obviously.) I crocheted borders on 3 of those, and knit a garter stitch border on the 4th. 3 are all hand crocheted and one is hand knit.
Here's Fuzzy (my other cat, not the one who had the tumor) sitting on one of the crocheted shawls before it was finished. Needless to say, all shawls come with a little cat hair.

The chest next to the chair is fill with, you guessed it, YARN!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

England pics

I didn't bring my camera to England, but I bought a disposable. The quality is not great, but better than nothing.

Guarding the entrance to Center Court at Wimbledon
Me at my 3rd row seat on Court 1.
Arnauld Clement in action.
Some of the historic architecture of Oxford

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back from England

In England, I:
went to see a men's quarter-final match at Wimbledon.
went to Liberty and bought some yarn
went to a play "In My Name"
went to art museums, including
Tate Britain
National Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
took 2 cruizes down the Thames
walked Kensington Gardens and toured Kensington Palace
toured the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge
toured Shakespeare's Globe Theater
washed down some fish and chips with a pint of Guinness
drank several Pimms with lemonade
saw the new Indiana Jones movie in Leichester Square
saw a gay pride parade
went to Oxford, toured the city, gave a paper

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Did you find everything OK?

Cashiers always ask "Did you find everything you were looking for?" or something like that.
Are they just curious?
If I wanted to be a jerk, I'd like to ask "Why do you ask? What if I didn't?"
I did a lot of shopping today. I went to several stores, Walgreens, TJ Maxx, JCPenny, you name it.
At every check-out, someone asked me that.
On every occasion, I said, quite sincerely, "No..." and went on the explain what I failed to find.
On every occasion, the cashier had absolutely no follow up, no help to offer, no suggestions.
They just shrug and say "Oh..."
Except at Walgreens. The person at the register with an assistant manager tag on showed no signs of noticing that I had answered his question.

another pet peev got his nourishment today.

Friday, June 27, 2008

cherries... CHERRIES!!!

Think "poppies... POPPIES!!!" from The Wizard of Oz.
This is a good year for cherries in Nebraska.

Life is a bowl of cherries.
And a couple of peppers too.
But these were cherry-picked.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm Tipsy!

What does this gesture mean?
Tipsarevic beat Roddick today. It was awesome.
He's been one of my favorites since his 5 set match in Australia with Federer last year.
Oh, and beauty will save the world.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I finished a few more quilts last week, but I hadn't gotten around to posting them til now.
The first is a 4-patch with Dick and Jane fabric.
The second is another Dick and Jane, modified Log Cabin block.
This is the Lincoln Knitters City Mission blanket. The squares were made by many members of the group and I crocheted them together last night. It's not quite finished.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

latest developments

Here are some irises blooming in my garden, along with lots of "uncultivated botanicals"
(a.k.a. weeds).
Here's me in a shawl I knit in Lion Brand Woolspun for afghans for Afghans "shawls for new mothers" campaign.

Here's me modeling another shawl I made for the same. It is crocheted out of odds and ends of sock and fingering weight yarn.
Oh, and check out the French manicure.
Here's what I'm most excited about -- my first ever completed quilt. I made it out of clearance novelty fabrics I found at Micheal's. If you look close, you can see bugs, soccer balls, cherries, numbers, and hand bags! Technically, it leaves a lot to be desired, but I'm still learning. It's for Sewing for Babies.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Kory is a jerk!

Kory wants the Knitty Gritty show to get canceled, and he thinks that there's no crying in baseball!

Oh, BTW, I finally got to see Ferrer play, only to LOSE!! BADLY!

Kory is really good at figuring out which women will win tennis matches. What a wussy.
(He won the women's part of the draw, but I won the men's. Now he wants to say that he won the whole thing because he won more points total. Sounds like Hilary saying she won the nomination cuz she won the popular vote!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Tennis Anyone?

Tennis Channel and ESPN2 are showing the French Open, but today, with hours and hours of coverage, they jointly managed to show the same 3 matches 3 times, but not one minute of David Ferrer's 5 set round of 16 victory. I have yet to see Ferrer play! Woe is me. Now he's in the quarter finals and they'll have to show him.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Socks and Cats

Not to be confused with Socks the cat...

I've been trying to finish up UFO's (unfinished objects) and I did manage to do the finishing on 3 pairs of socks.

I don't want to tie in any more ends on socks.

The lump on Cat's chin was cancer, but the vet thinks they removed it all.

a Barack Obama

I notice that political commentators and pundits often use the expression "a Barack Obama" -- as in the question:

"Will white working class men vote for a Barack Obama?"

I know who Barack Obama is, but I'm not sure what "a Barack Obama" is.
(Who besides Barack Obama is "a Barack Obama?
If no one, why not just say "Barack Obama"?)

Usually, such an expression turns a name into a predicate, a description.

To say someone is "a Fred Astair" would be to say he's a great dancer.
To say someone is "a Harry Houdini" is to say that he is a magician or escape artist.

It seems that when you predicate a proper name of someone, you are saying that that individual possesses the salient characteristics of the bearer of that name.
(I hope that clears things up!)

So, what does it mean to say that someone is "a Barack Obama"?
What are Obama's salient characteristics?
What other words describe "an Obama"?
"...a senator"? "...a good speaker"? "a magnetic leader"?

No pundit is going to bother to ask whether working class white men will vote for a senator, a good speaker, a magnetic leader, etc.

Given the contexts in which this expression appears, I think that "a Barack Obama" is a black guy with a funny name.

And I think that people that use that expression are raising the issue of race while trying not to be too obvious about it.

If I'm wrong, tell me what "a Barack Obama" is.

To be fair, people sometimes say "a Hillary Clinton," and even "a John McCain" once in a while.

I guess "a John McCain" is an old white Republican guy, but I'm not sure what "a Hillary Clinton" is supposed to be. Maybe a woman. "Former first lady" seems too particular.

My hunch is that, for the most part, media people started using those expressions after they started using "a Barack Obama" as a euphemism, and they do this to try to appear as if they are talking about all 3 candidates in the same way.

Though I'd have to go back and study the tapes to be sure.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Trip to the see the Sandle Crayons

My crane kicked Jan's crane's ASS!!
That's Nebraska for you.

I think I see some cranes!
Or maybe they're flying monkeys...

more pics

Here are some things I've made in the past few weeks.Baby socks.
Pink and white booties.
All the booties for Sewing for Babies.
2 afghans for Sewing for Babies made from Red Heart Strata. The pastel one is crocheted in side-saddle on the bias, and the bright one is made from 12 squares of half double crochet in 4 different color-ways. Love the stripes.
4 afghans out of Bright and Lofty (and some Homespun) for the nieces for Christmas.
Cats with his collar after his lump-ectomy.
He's doing good.
I'll find out about the biopsy next week.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Out of Touch

I haven't been on the internet much because I've had a series of computer problems. Now my main computer is in the hands of my computer repair man, and hopefully it will be all fixed soon.

My cat has a tumor under his chin and he's going to have it taken off and biopsied tomorrow.
The big sweetie is sitting on my lap right now. I'm a little worried.

I made 3 quilt tops and am not sure how to finish them.

I made several pairs of baby booties for Sewing for Babies.

I'll post pics when I get my computer back.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Earth, Wind, and Fire

...and water.

Earthquake in China
Tornados in the South and Mid-western parts of the US
Flooding in the North East
Fires in Florida
Cyclone in Burma

It's been a tough couple of weeks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Losing Your Bearings

So Obama says McCain is losing his bearings because McCain suggested that an Obama victory would be good news to Hamas. (You can see the full CNN interview here.)

And a McCain aide fires back that this was a hypocrical, ageist remark.
You can read about that here.

My question is:
What's a bearing, and what have you lost when you've lost yours?
I looked up "bearings" and found two meanings:
  • in navigation, the direction one object is from another object, especially the direction of an object from one's own vessel.
  • in mechanics, a device to permit constrained relative motion between two parts, typically rotation or linear movement.
If bearings is thought of in the mechanical sense, "losing your bearings" reminds me of losing ball bearings, which seems like "losing your marbles," which sometimes happens to people when they get old. It certainly would be quite an insult, and perhaps ageist, to say of an elderly political candidate that he has lost his marbles.

If bearings is thought of in the navigational sense, as it traditionally has been, in expressions such as "get your bearings," "find your bearings," and of course, "lose your bearings," then to say someone has lost his bearings is to say that he has lost his sense of his position relative to other people's positions.

So, if you were to implicitly criticize some one's political position, and it turns out that he holds the same political position as you do, it would be fair to say that you have lost your bearings. You're talking as if someone is a great distance from you, when actually he's at the same place as you are on this issue. Incidentally, in the next sentence after the "losing his bearings" remark, Obama stated that he and McCain have the same stance with respect to Hamas.

To say that someone has lost their sense of the political landscape is not an especially ageist remark as far as I know. So, it doesn't strike me as a "not particularly clever way" to raise the issue of age, since it's not a way to raise the issue of age at all.

...unless Obama was hoping we would be confused between ball bearings and relative position, as Leiberman seemed to be.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Latest Donations

I made 7 baby blankets and a pair of socks for afghans for Afghans Newborn Campaign. Here are some pictures...

Here's the overview. The cat will not be included, though he may try to jump in the box.

Here are two hats Shaun knit, a pair of child's knit socks, and an crocheted blanket. The Fair Isle hat was knit for me by my mother a long time ago. She made it to go with a sweater she made me that I still have, though it doesn't fit me any more. I crocheted the edging and the straps on the hat. Mom hated to crochet, so she had me finish it.
The blanket and the socks are made with Paton's Merino, which I really enjoy working with. The blanket is done in what I call "from the corner side-saddle stitch" in a blue tweed with a solid blue border. In all of the projects I tried to use as much animal fiber in green as I could. The animal fiber is for warmth, and the green is the Afghan's preferred color, so I've heard.

Here is a blanket made with various mohair and mohair blends worked in single crochet over a strand of thick and thin wool yarn, something called "Ultra". The Ultra is the dark blue you see poking through the other colors. It's thickness varies so much, I wasn't sure how to make a solid, warm blanket out of it. I decided to use mohair with it, so that fluff would fill in any spaces, and to use it as an inclusion rather than to crochet with it. The result of using various yarns in this way was a really wonky, rustic looking blanket, but I like it.

Here's a 12 patch blanket -- 12 ten inch squares of double crochet in various yarns.

This is a very scrappy blanket done with odds and ends of Lopi. I inherited the Lopi from my mother, and I guess this means that I am not going to finish the sweaters she started. Sorry Mom. It's for a good cause. It's crocheted in rows of linked trebles, which makes a very solid dense fabric. It might work better as a rug. I like the blocky way it looks, though in retrospect, I wish I had broken up that yellow.
I spent a lot of time on this one, but it was a lot of fun. It is another 12 patch, but all done in Felt It! felting yarn (but it's not felted). Each block is done in a different stitch: two are knitted -- one stockinet, the other garter stitch on the bias, one is done in afghan stitch, one is done with in "crochet on the double" with a double ended hook, and the others are various crochet stitches. I used mostly one colorway, and it was fun to see how the print looked different with each technique.
This is a crocheted ripple in Paton's Merino, blue and blue tweed again. Thanks to Michaels for putting those colors on sale.

I also made a solid olive green blanket in double crochet, also with my mom's Lopi. It came out nice, but simple and not really interesting to see.

The deadline for sending donations to this campaign is 5/19, so I guess this is it.
But Cathy was supposed to give me another hat!