Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Rats

I'm sorry, can I have the cake instead?

Vijay Prakash, the Principal Secretary of the Welfare Department of the Indian state of Bihar says that his proposal that the government popularize rodentophagia among the poor will reduce consumption of grain by pests. Presumably, they have more poor people than cats in Bihar.

Hey, once they've filled up on rats, the poor won't eat as much of the grain either, so bang, zoom! Double prizes!

Because they have "almost no bones", Vijay says, rats will be a tasty and nutritious protein-packed delicacy for the poverty-stricken. The problem, it seems, is that poor people just didn't have the right recipes. Luckily, he's on the case, and he envisions a day when his scrumptious Rat Vindaloo will be so popular that they will have to resort to rat farming to keep up with demand.

His next plan for the poor? Encouraging them to catch venomous snakes. I wish I were kidding. Hey, didn't he work for the Regan administration?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Wait, There Were Witnesses?

I know that I get biblical allusions and racial slurs mixed up all the time, so it seems to me like Emil Jones came up with a perfectly reasonable explanation for the lastest clusterfuffle. Right? That happens to other people? No? Hm. While we're on the subject of mythological fiction, I'm nearly positive that there's a relevant biblical quote for all of the Obama supporters who have been accusing Clinton supporters of racism, but I'm a recovering fundie (Hi, Mom!), so I can't recall. Something about motes and beams? Surely someone holier than I will remember.

What the hell, Emil? You're a state senator from Illinois. You've clawed your way to the top of the state senate... the Illinois state senate. Shouldn't you be better at this lying thing by now? "Doubting Thomas"? Really? That's the best you could come up with? What are you, some kind of amateur?

If any Obama supporters can hear me all the way up there on their high horse, they may want to listen carefully to the next four words.

Shut. The hell. Up.

Just button it for the next three months, and if we beat Oldy McMoneybags, then you can show us all what total asshats you are, and it'll all be coolies because, hey, we won and they're stuck with us for four years. Right now? Your behavior is costing us votes and last time I checked, the polls weren't looking so great. If you could avoid losing the election for us, that would be just spiffing. If you fuck things up for us now, we're only going to live in a free society with civil liberties and affordable health care if we can score at least 67 points.

Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of assholes to go around in this sad story. At least the victim took the high road and... who am I kidding? She went straight to the Sun-Times and called Emil an Uncle Tom right back. Ah, very clever: the Rubber And Glue Defense. Only the You've Got Cooties Riposte could possibly defeat that. I'm so glad to see that we've raised the rhetoric in the great race debate to grade school playground level. More importantly, for those swing voters keeping track at home, we've clarified that you're an Uncle Tom whether you support a white sentator from New York (from Illinois) or a white governor from Illinois. So there's one thing that Obamacistas and Clintonistas can agree on, anyway: As long as you get along with white folk, you're an Uncle Tom. So maybe we can't solve our problems with race, but at least we're making excellent progress on the party unity thing. With any luck, maybe by November we can all go down together.

Maybe you didn't get the memo. You won the nomination. Golf claps all around. Mondale won the nomination. Dukakis won the nomination. Winning the nomination doesn't mean dick. You're still just one dopey tank ride away from being a footnote, and frankly, another rich old white guy becoming president? Not such a historic moment. All of the stuff you care about only happens if you win the general election. Perhaps you could focus on that.

Three months. That's all I'm asking. Get your shit together.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Making The Cut

I've mentioned before that I coached my son's soccer team, and that I'd be handing him over to the high school coaches this fall.

Lex was anxious about tryouts. All summer long, he's been making us add "hopefully" to any sentence that involved him and the soccer team. Our high school soccer team is fairly competitive, and our park district team was not. He wasn't sure that he wanted to commit that much time to soccer (despite the fact that he spends many of his waking hours playing, watching, or otherwise thinking about soccer). Some of the most obnoxious players from the club system were trying out, the club system he'd avoided because he saw the kind of assholes that played in it.

He'd gone to some of the soccer practice sessions over the summer, but his plan to start running with all of his friends never really came together. The siren call of chilling and just kicking it around the park (or playing FIFA on the Playstation) had been too strong.

By the time tryouts came arrived, he was just about ready to can the whole idea. He'd been playing against the varsity players over the summer, and I think his confidence was a little shaken. He also tends to be a little anxious about getting into new things, even things he enjoys once they've started. We told him that he was going to have to make a major time commitment to something this year and it might as well be something he loved, and we reminded him that his friends were also trying out. He agreed to do this season and see how it went.

Tryouts started with two-a-days for the first week: long morning and afternoon practices. Lex woke feeling queasy, the result, we thought, of too much popcorn and coke at the movies the night before. It turns out that we were wrong. He barely made it through the first of the two practices and back to our house before he started barfing. He was too sick to make it back to the afternoon practice. He was too sick to make it to the Tuesday and Wednesday practices, but by Wednesday night he was starting to feel a little better except for a sore throat.

On Thursday, he got to practice to find that they'd already made the first round of cuts. Luckily, the coaches must have seen enough of him over the summer to have some idea of how he plays, because he was still in the running. He made it through practices and came home completely wiped out. On Friday, there were a few more cuts, but encouragingly, the coaches asked him what number he wanted. On Saturday, he brought his uniform home and we could finally stop using the word hopefully.

He asked for Zoe's number, but there was another kid on the team that really wanted it so he gave him the number. Lex flipped the digits in the number she'd originally wanted and brought home the 31 jersey. It's just a little huge on him right now. It's scary to think that if he keeps that number, he's going to grow into the uniform.

I was relieved for other, purely selfish, reasons as well. I think I mentioned that our team was sort of the Bad News Bears of the local soccer scene. We had a lot of kids who liked playing soccer but weren't natural athletes. As high school drew near, I knew that most of the kids would stop playing, but I started to worry that maybe I hadn't prepared the others well enough to make the jump to the high school team. I wondered if I was doing them a disservice by not making the practices tougher, by not being more competitive, by not pushing them harder. Even though I knew that I was coaching the way I should be coaching for the park district league, I had this nagging worry that by trying to keep all of the kids in the park district program that I might be keeping some of them out of the high school program.

In the end, some good players were cut, including at least one really talented individual player who could never make the transition to play as part of a team, but four of my boys made the team. All of the players from last season that I thought would probably make it did. Later today, they'll all take the field for the Tiger preview game and they'll officially be high schoolers before classes even start.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Red Carpet

Is it awards season again already?

Thank you very much. That makes up for the strip-search.

(What? Anybody can riff on Sally Field.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Salsa y Ketchup

"So far, so good. You don't seem to be annoying, anyway."

That's how Flan (of Prone to Whimsy fame) once summed up my blog, and I've always tried to live up to that standard because it seems like the kind of standard that's low enough for me to handle without having to set down my beer and really play.

Recently, however, she raised the bar on me by sending me one of these in all of its jpeggy goodness:

According to the designer of this award, "This prize has arisen from the daily visits that I dedicate to many blogs which nourish me and enrich me with creativity. In them, I see dedication, creativity, care, comradeship, but mainly, ART, much art. I want to share this prize with all those bloggers that entertain me day to day and to share this prize with those who enrich me every day."

So, here are the rules:

1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award through creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.

(DS: Shouldn't that be "up to 5 blogs"? Otherwise you end up with a sort of Ponzi award that ends up going to blogs like, well, mine. Oh, well. It's your award. You can dilute the brand if you so choose...)

2. Each award should have the name of the author with a link to their blog.

3. Award winners have to post the award with the name and link to the blog of the person who gave them the award.
(check, see above)

4. Please include a link to the “Arte Y Pico” blog so that everyone will know where the award came from.

5. Show these rules.
(and check)

My list of awards should come as no surprise to anyone:

Johnny Yen - Here Comes Johnny Yen Again
I've known Johnny for a long time. He's probably the smartest guy I know, and more importantly, he's wise, which is a vanishingly rare quality these days. Johnny's a big-picture kind of guy who does the right thing just because it's the right thing to do, and his blog shows it. Touching and insightful, funny and heartbreaking, his blog sets the standard to which all others should aspire. You know, or not, in which case they can join me down at the shallow end of the blogging pool.

However, because Johnny knows everybody, and because I can never do anything on time, somebody beat me to the punch. Suck it, rules! Johnny gets two.

Vikkitikkitavi - Bells On
File under Socks, Removal Of, Via Knocking. I always look forward to new posts on Vikki's fierce and funny blog. I particularly admire the well-researched way she vents her wrath upon the oh-so-deserving. When I'm reduced to incoherent apoplexy by some right wing nut job, I can count on Vikki to tear them a new one in a way that leaves me not only feeling better but smarter just for reading it.

Well, crap. She has one of these too.

Becks - The Pop Eye
Despite my dismal performance in the Firecrotch of the Month contests, I have to give one of these to Becks. The Chelsea Handler to my Chuy, Becks is always on top of a good pop culture news story. Always on point, Becks always makes sure I don't suffer from a Schadenfreude deficiency.

OK, obviously, I wrote this before I became Firecrotch of the Month. I have got to finish these posts more quickly...

Splotchy - I Splotchy
Splotchy's totally genius Adopt An Actor program has brought joy to millio... thousan... many! But most importantly, it has brought joy to me. The rest of you can find your own joy. Ever since I adopted her, I've found that I get a little warm feeling whenever I catch sight of my adoptee on TV.

No updates to this one? Let's move on before something changes.

Dale - The Passion of the Dale
Ably assisted by his supporting cast, my fellow Catherine Tate enthusiast never fails to amuse. I may have been hooked by his tales of Honeypot, the Korean Bagel Lady, and Our Elvis of the Railways, but they are only part of what keeps me coming back. His dry and urbane observations are exactly what I need to start off my uncivilized day south of the border, and his willingness to shoulder the blame makes him an ideal blogging companion. While you're there, listen to his audio posts. If I ever write a book, I'm asking him to record the audiobook. I'd make a joke about Canadian dollars here if our economy wasn't circling the drain.

...but it is.

And there we have it. Only 60% of my awards were outdated by the time I finished writing this.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Same Old Story, Same Old Song And Dance

Remember when I brought up the Red Cross thing in connection with the Betancourt rescue and how they couldn't get their story straight and it all started falling apart right from the start? Remember when I said how completely improbable the Columbian government's version of events was?

It seems the Red Cross thought so too, and now they have the video evidence to prove it.

The video, which has now been shown on Columbian TV, showed that the Red Cross logo was being used before the operation had even begun. Dominik Stillhart, the Deputy Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross said, "If authenticated, these images would clearly establish an improper use of the Red Cross emblem, which we deplore." Hmm. Maybe we could get some clarification about the validity of the video from the Columbian response to it, Dom.

The Columbian government has responded like any grade school child caught in a lie. They have grudgingly apologized and vowed to get the person who ratted them out. After claiming that the President, the government, and the Chief of the Armed Forces had no idea that the use of the logo was part of their extensive careful planing for this mission when they lied about it just being one nervous guy, the Columbian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos described the leak of the video as disloyal, corrupt, and treasonous, and promised that they would identify and punish the person responsible. Sounds like they think the video is real, Dom.

Santos also described Columbia as "the Fatherland", which gives you an idea where their heads are at.

Just to recap, the Columbian position is now that they carefully planned the mission all on their own with extensive help from the United States and totally still get all the credit for all the good stuff, and that their violation of the Geneva Convention was just the result of one nervous soldier disobeying following orders.

Oh, and that they are so sorry about all this that they are going to track down the person who proved it wasn't an accident and maybe charge them with treason a little.