Nic, Bupkis and Nichevo

About Nothing, by Nothing, with German-flavored cleavage occasionally thrown in for local color.

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

You can email me at NicBupkusNichevo at aol dot com. Aren't you excited?

Monday, February 28, 2005

And another one bites the dust!

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Lebanon's pro-Syrian prime minister has announced his resignation and that of his government amid protests over the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri, who criticized Syria's presence in the country.

Now, let's see how long it takes to schedule elections. Yo, Assad's Baby Boy, you payin' attention over there???

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I made less than $20,000 last year. Gee, I don't have a digital camera...

Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine posts a group of lists of what he and others consider "vanishing Americana". Setting aside the snotty insults he tossed around in his own comments section (normally beneath him), I think these lists serve far better as examples of class and money differences than "disappearing Americana". As I responded to his post,

"And now a comment on the list from the rest of us who aren't fortunate enough to have a bazillion gadgets (people who make less than $25,000/yr) and/or work in a corporate office that does (you know, those of us who work for smaller manufacturers, in the service industry, etc):

Newspapers and magazines on paper? Great if you're lucky enough to afford a high speed connection and not be stuck on dialup. The vast majority of us down here on earth, however, still get ink on our fingers, and while magazines dedicated to news and politics might be just as easily read online, everything else (food and hobby magazines spring readily to mind) are so far better available and more easily read in paper format.

USPS is still cheaper than UPS and FedEx. To those of us in the groundlings corps, such things matter.

Switching to all-DVD music is great - if you can find it, and you can afford to make the transition (again, there's that pesky money issue).

Yeah, those of us who can't afford TiVO usually have remotes, but flicking channells during commercials is a bit too ADD for most of us.

Floppy disks vs online backup? Great, if you've got a place to do the backup, can afford it, have the connection, etc. Again, it's a money issue.

"Water cooler" shows go in cycles. Don't write them off yet because there'll be another one coming down the pike soon enough (if "Desperate Housewives" already hasn't).

So many of these things you and your commenters are slamming as obsolete (Christmas cards, knobs on washroom sinks, ice cube trays, cameras that use film, 411, etc) come down to $$$$. Those of you who have it (or work someplace that does), great. But those of us out here in the Great Unwashed won't be giving these things up anytime soon. You've hit on a class issue, Mr. Jarvis, and I really think it should be acknowledged as such. I am appalled to read that you and some of your commenters seem to think that because things are changing for *you* up on the financial Mt Olympus, it must be for the rest of us. Come down and hang on the broke side of town for a while."

Cross-posted to my LJ because yes, I am that cranky about it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Establishment has discovered the existence of Emo!

Michelle Malkin, in a remarkably out-of-step post, sounds an alarm over a "new" youth craze called - brace yourself - cutting.

Wow...didn't know cutting was so shocking and so new. Oh, and apparently Emo helps encourage it. Next thing you know those crazy kids with their jazz will turn into hopheads and race their jalopies to Hell!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

But seriously, folks, cutting's been around for decades, primarily in the mental illness "community" as a form of externally focusing internal pain. With the rise of the Goth scene, the fascination with blood (especially one's own) moved out of the realm of the bipolar and borderline and into the more general young adult population. Now it's being done by teenagers and pre-teens as a matter of course. Malkin quotes actress Christina Ricci's bubblehead reasons for self-mutilation, but if you parse the airhead babble it comes down to the same thing: externalization of internal discomfort and pain. The thing I find most striking in the last few years with the "growth" (I don't think it's grown, but instead become more open thanks to the Internet - as have so many other things) of cutting is the shift from a purely private form of coping on the part of the truly mentally ill to an apparently very public show of attention demands on those far less clinical. Using it as a form of self-punishment, as I unfortunately have done on occasion, is common to both groups. I've even used it as a way to stave off further self harm, such as a suicide attempt (not always successfully).

If Malkin really wants to know what cutting's really all about, she should take a stroll through any of the mental health communities over on Live Journal (I personally recommend the borderline personality disorder communities, as flashes of rage and psychosis so common with the disorder frequently result in cutting). Earlier this year I spent three days in the Wacky Ward, my roommate a painfully young college sophomore who had committed herself after her first act of cutting. She had become so overwhelmed by all of her responsibilities that she lashed out at the one thing she thought she could control: herself. And I really think this is far more typical of most non-psychotic cutters that you'll see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

All the subject lines I come up with are obscene.

Yoo-hoo! Admiral Milllller!

[And on a personal note, how did I not know the current Navy Chief of Staff was a crippie?]

Listening for Crickets

We could realistically find ourselves looking at a free Iraq and Lebanon and a reforming Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia not by the end of Bush’s second term but by the end of this year. A newly independent Lebanon, with its Western and Christian links, could become a cornerstone of a reforming Middle East. Perhaps Beirut once again will be the “Paris of the East.”

New Sisyphus has an extensive post about the President's speech in Brussels and his interpretation of each passage. Painfully conservative politics aside, he does have some excellent points (skip the "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" we-told-you-so-bits), including the too-short section on Lebanon and Syria. I can remember in high school watching Lebanon implode in a civil war so ugly and brutal that no one much thought it would ever come to an end. I even remember a short story (unfortunately I don't remember by who) based on the idea that Beirut eventually is taken over by the UN and turned into basically a giant playground for terrorists and other aggressors, the only place in the world where political violence still occured (mostly because no one could figure out a way to end it there, so it was co-opted). And I can most certainly remember with aching clarity the bombing of the Marine barracks in our misguided attempt to intervene.

But, lo and behold, the Druze and the Christians and the Muslims figured it out; if they kept fighting each other there would be nothing left to win (wish Israel and Palestine could have this same epiphany, but that's covered in a different portion of the President's speech). Despite Syria, despite Hezbollah, they were well on the way to reclaiming their beautiful country. And now Assad's baby boy decides he needs to prove his balls are as big as his daddy's. Baaaaaad move, buddy. May I kindly bring your attention to Kabul? Baghdad? Tripoli? Tripoli is my favorite warning, since we didn't have to do a damn thing to make Qaddafi figure out which way the wind was blowing. No, I don't think you'll see an Abrams rolling down Main Street, Damascus anytime soon; I don't think we'll need to. I *do* think that speeches such as the one in Brussels by the President (and hell, even Chirac's putting his two francs in) and anti-Syria demonstrations such as the one a few days ago attended by thousands in Beirut will bring Syria's leadership to the realization that maybe, just maybe, they done screwed the heck up.

And if that doesn't work, I'm sure we wouldn't object if the democratically-elected government of Lebanon (elections in just a few months, folks) asked us politely to drop a few Cruise missiles on the occupiers invaders of their country.

Nice choice there, Idjit.

Because what's important here isn't the fact that we're talking about FUCKING TERRORISTS TRYING TO OVERTHROW A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY but that they're just two happy gay men who want to get married.


When playing the "everyone should just marry whoever they want*" game, a pair of terrorists is probably not the demo card you want to play, mkay?

*Something I agree with whole-heartedly. But then, I think *everyone* should be required to have a civil ceremony, and then a religious one if they want. Either the State's going to be completely in charge of this marriage business, or it's going to be completely out.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Claude Rains would be so proud...

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative in Congo, William Lucy Swing, said when the abuse reports surfaced: "We are shocked, we are outraged, we are sickened by it."

Mr Annan has acknowledged that "acts of gross misconduct have taken place". Yet he seems immune to the outrage. In response on Wednesday to questions in New York about the scandal, he urged UN troops "to be careful" not to "fraternise" with these "vulnerable people".

Mr Annan previously headed the UN's peacekeeping force. Asked whether he could have done more to prevent the abuse in Congo, he said: "You never know when you send that many people out. There may be one or two bad apples."

Congolese Defence Minister Jean Pierre Ondekane has said all the UN would be remembered for in his country was "running after little girls".

I'm sorry, but this filth has been reported for months - and the UN is only NOW "shocked...outraged...sickened"? WTF? "One or two bad apples"? This is systemic, not one or two baby rapists, but an entire force willing to pay for child sex.

I need a long, hot shower.

Annan's gotta go. Bring in Havel, PLEASE!!

Service vs Greed

Citizen Smash, the Indepundit, links to a post over at Froggy Ruminations about the current standing of a lawsuit filed by seventeen Gulf War POWs filed against Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government. I don't know what else to say except to jump up and down and yell "Yeah, what he said!"

Yes, these guys went through hell. Yes, their benefits sucketh the big one*. But dear gods, what happened to honor?

One quibble: McCain has never dwelled on his POW experiences outside of his book, but I do argue with the notion that he never drew attention to them. Der. And yes, please read the book.

* While I have a problem giving these guys a billion bucks, surely some money can be coughed up from SOMEWHERE to pay for more treatment.

Susmaryjosep, or something to that effect...

So Belmont Club, one of my favorite blogs, continues to follow the story of jihadism in SE Asia (and if you think this is something relatively new, you don't know much about The Phillipines).

Waiting for my personal Tagalog expert to get back to me with his opinion. In the meantime, follow Belmont's links for more.

UPDATE: From Himself, said expert -

Short language lesson:
Kayo - you plural
Ka - you singular
Hindi kayo nag-iisa - You (plural) are not alone.
Hindi ka nag-iisa - You (singular) are not alone.
Kayo is 2nd person plural, and like in a lot of other languages, can be
aimed at a single person to show respect.

Kumusta ka - Taxi driver
Kumusta kayo - Doctor
Kumusta po kayo - The mayor
Kumusta - Close friend

Hideous weekend...

Sandra Dee, Dan O'Herlihy, Hunter S. Thompson, John Raitt, Sammi Smith...

If the Rule of Three is to be followed, we "need" one more. I'd really prefer this weekend not get any worse, thanks.

In other news, my utter inability to sleep more than a couple of hours at a time continues unabated. Nothing much is getting accomplished because my concentration is so shot. I try to get caught up on my reading, my stitching, my sewing, but my attention wanders after a few minutes. I tried taking melatonin on Firday and Saturday nights, thinking that if they really knocked me out it'd be for mornings that I wouldn't have to crawl out of bed to an alarm. No such luck, of course. I'm reasonably sure that part of it is an ongoing bout with deep depression over my other complete failure: finding a permanent job. I found out that I can get a month's worth of my Prozac for $32 or so (at 20 mg a day - though withought the mood stabilizer for the borderline personality disorder I'd likely need to go to 40 mg to keep me zonked). The trick, of course, is finding - and affording - a GP who will cut a scrip based on my word and not caring that I'm not in counselling.

Takový je život; život je pes, á jsem hydrant.

The cats are doing well. Magic is as Velcro as ever, and takes it very personally when I close the bedroom door at night to keep him from his nocturnal rounds across my pillows. Elvis is Elvis, and continues to get *very* upset when I won't immediately jump up from the computer chair to go over to the easy chair so he can sit beside me and snuggle. Elvis isn't a lap cat; he's a nex-to-your-lap cat. Considering his girth, that's probably a good thing.

Monday, February 14, 2005

In case you missed it...

Tim Blair gives a pretty good outline (complete with links) of the Eason Jordan scandal and resignation. Who is Eason Jordan? He was the head of CNN, and in front of an international audience in Davos, Switzerland (including several a US Congressman and Senator) that the US military was targetting journalists in Iraq for death.

Why might you have missed this huge story? Because unless you caught Kurtz's apologia in the Washington Post or the NYT article today blasting bloggers, no one in the mainstream media bothered to cover the story until it was over. Don't believe me? Take a look.

Oh, and before you start jumping to conclusions about this being another case of trumped-up right wing outrage, I should point out that Representative Barney Frank was present at the meeting where Jordan made his remarks, and it was Frank who pressed Jordan the hardest for clarification and evidence to back up his claims.

You can find more here at Power Line.

EDIT: Iowahawk discovered the unreleased transcript.

Who gets to decide what "marriage" is, and why?

It is time to privatize marriage. If the institution is really so sacred, it should lie beyond the withering hands of politicians and policy makers in Washington D.C. There should be no federal or state license that grants validity to love. There should be no state-run
office that peers into our bedrooms and honeymoon suites. If the church thinks divorce and homosexuality are problematic, it should initiate the real dialogue to address these problems in-house rather than relying on state-sponsored coercion to affirm doctrinal beliefs. And if tax-codes and guardianships need some classification for couples, let's revise civil union standards to reflect those needs.

My mother and I have gone 'round about this. She's an intelligent woman, wise and no-nonsense and a woman of deep faith. But there's a serious contradiction in what consitutes a true "marriage" in her eyes. When Himself and I were going to be married, we moved in together for a few months before the ceremony so that we could actually afford to be in the same state. This caused great distress on the part of the family, as we were - you guessed it - "living in sin." It got to the point that I wouldn't allow my parents to speak to Himself, because i knew they'd lay that all down on him, too, and there's no way in hell he'd have the patience for it. On 2/1/91 we married in the county courthouse in Annapolis, and so the heat was finally off. The State said we were married, so we were. No minister, no religious vows, but we were somehow no longer "in sin." Fast forward 14 years, and two pagan friends of mine are choosing to handfast. These vows are very, very serious, made before what one would think the three most important participants in any religious wedding: the couple and their Deity.

Mom doesn't see these two as married - and not just because it's a Wiccan priest they're standing before rather than a Presbyterian pastor. There's no certificate with the State's blessing, so no legal marriage. Doesn't matter that they have made soul-deep religious vows to each other; with no State-mandated ties the union of these two doesn't count. So where's the sin, Mom? Isn't a vow before God more important in terms of a sin than a vow before the State? Himself and I had no religious component in our wedding. We made no promises to God. How is the sin removed fromn that union by the State?

I'll give her credit; she's thinking about it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Last Night at Morton's, via Ben Stein

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq.
How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a "star" we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model?

Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

Read the whole thing.

Bless 'im.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Dis, Dat, Dese, Dem and Dose

Sein oder nicht sein,
Das is hier die Frage...

I've absolutely no idea why this is going through my head, but it is. For those of you who don't have any German, it's the first lines of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech. I had to memorize the speech in German for a declamation contest in high school (along with Göthe's "Der Erlkönig"), and that's pretty much all I remember. I know I don't have OCD, but once in a while - like today - I manifest OCD-like symptoms (in this case, an obsessive need to write - by hand - one phrase over and over).'d think the least my brain could do would be to focus on something a lot less full of, well, angst than that annoying Danish Prince.

Speaking of annoying, unless you are British (and I mean native, not just by descent) or are living there currently and have lived there for more than five minutes, the use of the word "whinging" rather than "whining" is nothing more than an ungodly annoying snobbish affectation on your part. STOP IT. You're impressing no one and annoying me. Yes, I'm impressed that you watch BBCA and read Harry Potter. Now take your sorry, overly-affected ass back to your child-porn-fanfic-writing corner and just stop talking, mkay?



Monday, February 07, 2005

OK, here's a new one...


So, if I (heaven forfend) get knocked up and discover my child is, say, developing without a brain or has Tay-Sachs or some other devastating disability, the UN wants to dictate that I have to bring that life to term and force it to suffer (nevermind the emotional and financial drain on me and my family)?

While I can see a slippery slope argument here - if the above examples are ok, what about being born without legs, say, or without eyes - I believe that's for individual nations (and in our country, states0 to decide, not some colossal failure of a pseudo-international organization.

Flames about Republican administrations barring federal aid to international organizations that promote birth control and abortion are not welcome, as they are a separate issue.