Monthly Archives: February 2004


For quite some time now, I've been trying to find a site where I could enter all my media, and maybe produce a list that I could easily transfer to my website. Mediachest is all that, plus there's an organized borrowing system, so you can invite your friends and they can borrow your movies (or CDs, or books, or games).

While it's billed as another social networking site, a key difference is that I wouldn't make all my online friends part of my network here--it would just be local people to whom I've already loaned. But they do have a trust rating system set up, so I could include other locals if I wanted to. Sounds like a great way to make new friends.

I'm excited, and I'm trotting out to get a barcode reader so I can enter my collections more quickly.

I know I haven't written a lot about this here, but I wanted all our friends to know that the green card interview went very well, and Bill should have his card as soon as the security check is done. This was our last worrisome hurdle, and we're very happy and relieved.

My compliments and thanks to the BCIS staff in Portland. They have been, well, fantastic. They give bureaucrats a good name.

Imagine living in a city about the size of Portland, and every ten days, a young woman is murdered. Every ten days. For ten years.

It seems only celebrity involvement could bring attention to the murdered in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. 370 women have been murdered over the last ten years--averaging one murder every ten days. Jane Fonda, Sally Field, and others are protesting the lack of investigation into these crimes, shining the international spotlight on a corrupt police force.

"I am rich, I am famous, I am white, I have a daughter, I have a granddaughter, and I know if they were murdered or disappeared, the authorities would work very work very hard to find out who killed them or who kidnapped them," Jane Fonda told a news conference in Ciudad Juarez.

You may or may not like Fonda, but this is as good a use of celebrity as can be had.

I'm already deeply enjoying McWhorter's Authentically Black, one essay in. As a Guilty White Liberal (GWL), McWhorter elegantly and convincingly challenges my assumptions. Mind you, I take him with a grain as I'm woefully under-informed.

Here's a question that occurs to me after reading his first essay, The New Black Double Consicousness.

In it, he argues that while privately blacks are strong, and have a "private orientation toward personal empowerment", when whites arrive on the scene the discourse changes to one of victimhood. The prevailing thought, he posits, is that white people must be "kept on the hook" and made to feel guilty lest they turn back the clock on civil rights. He believes that blacks, instead of being ready to move upward when legal doors were opened, are insisting that racism be eradicated completely before helping themselves.

He admonishes that this is self-defeating; that residual racism is a minor obstacle (though not a pleasant one) compared to decades past, and that white people are hardly intent on repealing laws of equality.

Finally, he says that because of this "public face", put forth by black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, that whites have the wrong idea about blacks--that most blacks are not poor, and accomplishments are many.

Most of this rings true enough. I invite my GWL friends to find a biography of Beyonce and see if it doesn't challenge their assumptions. But here's my problem. After all this, after admitting that white people are likely to see blacks as helpless because blacks have (even if unconsciously) given them only this to see, he excoriates the Left for programs like expanded welfare and affirmative action. Okay, so let me get this straight, Mr. McWhorter: you admit that the message blacks send to whites is "help me, because you owe me", then you get pissed off when we respond to that very message?

What McWhorter seems to prefer is the disdain of the Right, because it's "for your (blacks') own good". I think I understand the problem. If there's one thing Nancy Reagan made clear, it's that all the good psychics are on the Right. We don't have the mind readers, and are left with the inadequate solution of listening to what we hear. I suppose Democratic leadership should read McWhorter's books (well, that's true enough) and take his word over the word of the majority of blacks.

I say get us some good psychics, and we're there. Until then, it seems disingenuous to rail against a group for actually listening.

Just finished reading Michael Shermer's The Science of Good and Evil. A few chapters in, I was excited about Shermer's ideas and his clear expression. His explanation of the evolution of morality is a fascinating one that makes a lot of sense. While the concepts didn't necessarily originate with Shermer, he makes them accessible.

While he doesn't play as fast and loose with the facts as I originally thought while reading (I'd remembered a debunking of the "peaceful bonobo" story, but now can't find it), I would recommend keeping one eye open to his biases. For example, when discussing the ratio between proliferation of pornography and rape in the US v. Japan, he cites a low incidence of Japanese rape without considering vast cultural differences and a general atmosphere of misogyny. Be aware that he leans a bit, but is generally fair.

For the concepts, I highly recommend Shermer to anyone, but particularly to folks who are tired of the theist argument that morality must proceed from religion.


I was taking a quick look at my Thought archives. Most of them are unremarkable, but there are a few favorites:

March 6, 2002: I have jellybeans in my pocket.

March 9, 2002: Why am I watching dawn through a webcam??

March 12, 2002: Robert sez: "Never let a stripper cut your hair."

August 7, 2002: "An actor is someone who pretends to be somebody else. A movie star is somebody who pretends that somebody else is them."--Nicholas Meyer, Director

March 22, 2003:

March 31, 2003: The fact that you will never make the world perfect is not a convincing argument against trying to make it better. -- Greg Yoder

April 15, 2003:

April 19, 2003:

September 22, 2003: Rules exist because people are shits.

December 5, 2003: "The architectural profession gave the public 50 years of modern architecture and the public

She is sitting at the front of the bus, clutching a clear plastic bag. The bag is filled with neatly crocheted squares, in baby colors. On the front of the bag I can make out the word PATIENT. It must be some clever comment on yarn arts, I think.

As she leaves the bus, I see the other word is BELONGINGS. After a moment, I realize the bag is from a hospital. Still, crocheted squares are what I would consider a patient belonging.

Other patient belongings:

  • Slippers

  • An old dog
  • A chipped teacup
  • A wooden ruler
  • Houseplants

Impatient belongings:

  • Cars

  • Wristwatches
  • Electric can openers
  • Kleenex