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My great-great grandfather enlisted at 16 just in time for the siege of Richmond. My father heard stories from him and his sisters about the war when he was a small boy. (Ltc. Custer used the family farm as a base for a little while, too.) My family goes back to 1613 in Virginia. I went to boarding school in Richmond, and I think Monument Avenue is lovely.

These statues must go.

That's it. Whatever romantic notion of some grand civilization destroyed by manufacturing tradesmen from the north that you're hanging onto must go, too. The reality is that the South fired the first shots. The stated reasons for the war in the individual states' articles of secession included slavery, very often as the chief motive for seceding.

Our ancestors were racist. It's sad, but it's true. The best thing we can do is stop reinforcing this racism with public monuments to individuals who violated their oaths as officers in the Army of the United States. Too many southerners try to say the War was about honor. If that's true, why are we celebrating oath breakers?

(Adapted from a comment I made at Slate)

Be aware

Aug. 15th, 2017 11:05 am
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I am not seeing this covered as thoroughly as it might be. The Department of Justice has requested information on over 1.3m people who visited disruptj20.org. Gizmodo and The Verge seem to have the most coverage at the moment, but, in some ways, this is as disturbing as Charlottesville. The only reason to look at this site is because it is anti-Trump and organized protests for his inauguration. Asking to see information about the people who were arrested or seen near the violence would be a reasonable limitation on the warrant, but that's not what's happening. The DoJ want information on anyone who used the site, ever.

I can't swear that I never followed a link and ended up there by accident, even if I know I never went there deliberately. Can you?

Please be careful.
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is having her first novel published on August 1. There's going to be a reading at One More Page in Arlington, VA on September 14. For my Boston/Cambridge/Somerville friends, she'll be at Harvard Coop on August 9 at 7 pm.

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April of 2010 I started having violent vomiting, etc., to the point that I called for an ambulance. After a couple of weeks on the BRAT/BOAT diet, I found that eating red meat always caused me to vomit. Here's more about the cause.



Jun. 14th, 2017 09:30 am
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Last week, as I was going to work, I fell.

There was a motorcade, and, as I've told anyone who's asked, I have to learn to stop rather than continue to walk in those cases. The lights and noise mildly disoriented me. So, I tripped over a crack in the sidewalk. Being a good little local politician, I immediately (okay, two hours later) reported the issue. The response was a polite "Thank you" and "it will take 270 days to get this repaired." The list of broken sidewalks is so long that it takes 270 days to get it fixed.

After 5 days of bed rest, I'm doing better. The left ankle is still puffy and, more importantly, still hurts, so I'm back on a cane. I could weep. The right knee is still slightly painful and one spot still has a little swelling. The left hip hurts, too. I really love the muscle relaxants which are helping me sleep. Otherwise, I'm taking no extra medication.

I just can't believe how long sidewalk repair takes.
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One of the minor miracles of my time in California last month was not one but two pleasant 5-hour drives with my mother. On the way up to Lodi, we mostly listened to old radio shows on Sirius, including a Colloquy from the 1950s led by a professor. He interviewed Shakespeare with a view to establishing who'd actually written the plays. Kit Marlowe interrupts. Then someone mentions Bacon (who's appalled that he's considered a possible contender, bless him). Edward de Vere wanders in, claiming it's all his, before Richard Burbage points out that none of it matters without actors. I think, in some ways, Mom enjoyed my reactions to it as much or more as the actual discussion. Over lunch, we talked about why I'd laughed so hard when de Vere swanned in, and how I'd known it was Burbage before he said his name.

On the way back, the radio plays weren't particularly interesting so I scanned through and immediately found Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. We ended up listening to classical all the way to Los Angeles. The real discovery was violinist Nichola Benedetti. She played Bruch's Scottish Fantasy and as soon as I got home I needed to buy the whole album (also called Scottish Fantasy). I finally got to listen to the whole thing today, and it's beautiful. I'm usually more of a cello or viola girl, but there's something plangent about her tone that captivates me. Even her rendition of Loch Lomond was lovely. But, other than the Bruch, the two following were my favorites.

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Look, protesters, I love you. The guy in the White House deserves to be yelled at on a regular basis until he starts behaving like a real human being. Also, I know many of our fine hotels and restaurants appreciate your patronage. I can even handle some of the issues your presence creates around the Metro (meaning the subway only in this instance), although with our SafeTrack project continuing, you are adding a degree of difficulty.

Here's the problem: The people of the District are paying for everything.

This isn't coming out of your Federal taxes (as of last week's science march) because Congress CUT their contribution to handle protests. They gave us less money for the inauguration, which, barring all the jokes, had a lot of people, than the cities which held the conventions got even though the convention crowds were smaller.

As of the Climate March this past Saturday, every hour of police overtime, every penny of the cleanup (National Mall may have some funding left through the National Park Service), every bus line rerouted (and believe me we're coming back to that one), and every car needing to be towed so you can take the walk between the White House and Congress is being paid for by the people of the District of Columbia because Congress has decided not to fund it.

From Congress' point of view, in the words of Neotoma, this is a feature, not a bug. The people of the District don't appreciate Congress -- in their view. Here they are trying to make our world a better place by forbidding us to use our own money to fund needle exchanges -- which cut down on the HIV transmittal rate in a city where approximately 5% of the population is HIV positive -- because all that will do is encourage HIV drug use, and do we appreciate it? No, we do not. We don't appreciate so many of the things they try to do for us, like retrocede us to Maryland (pace Jason Chaffetz) or control the way our building look (seriously, the Commission for Fine Arts has got to go) or generally treat us like whiny children for complaining that we don't have representation in their august body in spite of being required to register for the draft, fight if conscripted, serve on juries and grand juries, and paid more in federal income tax than Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, and Vermont combined ($20.5b in 2015 for the four states named, $21.2b for DC).

One solution would be to raise the hotel tax, but that would mean people who have tight budgets might not be able to come to a protest which means a great deal to them. Believe it or not, we don't want that.

I don't know the solution. The biggest issue for me, personally, and my constituents is that the protests change the bus routes drastically. This can mean no groceries or no visiting an elderly relative or helping a young mother cope or... We need our buses and as long as you're using the National Mall, the major changes to the bus routes are going to continue. (It also doesn't help that four stops are Exit only during the march and Entrance only after the march.)

The financial issue includes my fear that the money spent now on cleanup will be taken away from my local middle school's renovation. It's been promised since before the recession and is finally budgeted for 2020, but if we spend too much of our resources now on protest cleanup, the money may not be there in 2020 and our middle schoolers will get shafted again. I was at the school last Monday for the Ward 6 budget discussion. I'm pretty sure the air conditioning units are so old (no, no central air, just individual window units) they might still use freon.

Can someone more knowledgeable than I am look into setting up a charity. People who can afford to contribute to the District's cleanup could do so, and the money could go to local projects which might be impacted by the cleanup funding. I don't think there's any way to give the money to the District, but mitigating some of the impact would be a great kindness.

Also, when you call your congress critter, remind him or her that they should be paying for this or remind them that the District still needs voting representation in Congress.
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I don't know how I missed The Shrouds of the Somme commemoration, but I found it today.

Doctor Who

Mar. 24th, 2017 04:36 pm
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I'd like to see Alexander Siddig as the new Doctor. If he weren't on Timeless, I'd be rooting for Paterson Joseph, and if she weren't on Blindspot, it would be Marianne Jean-Baptiste.


Mar. 17th, 2017 09:59 am
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I've been posting at Slate about this. The below is from my comments there.

A single Air Force Bomber costs $550 million. The National Endowment for the Arts annual budget is $146 million. The National Endowment for the Humanities costs $167.5 million.

Using the annual budget of $3.1 billion which is the amount of the CDBG block grants and multiplying it by .05 to get the 5% that most jurisdictions use on Meals on Wheels, I get $155,000,000. What are we going to do with the other $81,500,000?

One plane less. When people tell you that "guns or butter" arguments don't work, remember that 1 less bomber for the Air Force would cover the above. Cutting half a squadron, 6 bombers, would cover the CDBG block grants in full and still leave enough left over to fund the National Endowment for the Humanities and have $32.5 million left to play with.

The Air Force has requested 100 bombers.
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the term "bloated plutocrat" was both out-of-date and an insult?


Yes, I have been reading about the new healthcare bill, why do you ask?

I want one

Jan. 31st, 2017 12:15 pm
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A bracelet multitool -- there's something soothing about watching creation.

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The bit I love starts around minute 4, but the whole thing's worth watching.
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Several people have asked me how they can help DC protect itself from the ravages of the current congress and administration. I have an idea.

DCist has an article about the current abortion law before congress. There's also a link to a "death with dignity" law with which congress is trying to interfere and, though there's no link, mention of a gun law which the House, especially, has already tried to overturn. They've already interfered with our decriminalization of marijuana laws, leaving us in the awkward position of not being able to regulate a trade which, through taxation, would help us immensely.

Call your congress people and Senators. I don't care if you agree with DC's law. I disagree with the "death with dignity" law and the only reason I don't disagree on abortion is that someone who doesn't have bodily autonomy isn't a full citizen in the eyes of the law. I see anything forbidding the right to choose as a slippery slope to women no longer being seen as full citizens. After all, it's been less than a hundred years since we were seen as full citizens. The point is actually more powerful if you disagree.

The point is that we have Home Rule. The point is that congress is not allowed to interfere with Boston, Denver, Oklahoma City, Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, Seattle, El Paso, or Portland, OR all of which are cities within 50,000 of our population. If the US Congress passed a law that said only the citizens of Seattle had to turn in their personal guns, everyone would rightly be up in arms (no pun intended). If they passed a law that said only the citizens of El Paso were required to have a gun on them at all times, the NRA might be happy, but the rest of us would be up in arms.

The more conservative the state you live in, the more powerful the statement. It's primarily, though not exclusively, Republicans and conservatives who are putting their fingers in our pies. Many of them are the same Republicans who shout from the mountaintop that the Federal government shouldn't interfere in local laws -- like those "religious freedom" laws and "bathroom bills."

Call. Please call. Call often. Adapt one of the sample scripts from thesixtyfive.org. More than anything else, make certain that you say your are their constituent and that you support the District of Columbia's right to autonomy in local matters. It can also be phrased as support for the District's right to Home Rule. While you're at The Sixty-five, pick another call to make. This isn't going to be a short haul on any issue. If you call your congress critter on another issue, throw in a "and don't interfere in the District of Columbia's local laws" at the end of it.

Thank you. Spread this message any way you can.
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I wish I could tell you about all the clever turns of phrase on the word Trump used to explain where he likes to grab women.But I can’t. The following, however, are printable:

“We Shall Overcomb”

“Make America Think Again”

“Think Outside My Box”

“IKEA Has Better Cabinets”

“Did You Remember To Set Your Clocks Back 60 Years Last Night?”

“Tweet All People Kindly”

* n.b my personal favorite is the one bolded and underlined.

My friend Gileswench sent me this.

Who says the Dutch don't have a sense of humor?
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I tripped over this on YouTube last week and I've been enjoying it ever since.

The above is both hilarious (Happy ending for all them white girls.) and a good analysis. Some of the others are as good if not better. Enjoy!
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I got two gifts this year, both lovely. The first was in The LXD fandom. It's called Breathe. Stay Calm. You're gonna be OK. The other was in The Shadow fandom, Dinner with Uncle Wainwright.

I wrote 13 stories. My assignment was in Diana Wynn Jones' Fire and Hemlock 'verse for Minnabird: Gaudeamus Igitur.

The pinch hits were:
Dinner at Eight for the TV version of the Phryne Fisher stories.

End of the Vacation for Midsommer Murders

The Other Side of the Door in Hail, Caesar

Celebration at the Mill for the UK North and South series

Enter/Return for Tron, Legacy

Serial for Forever Knight

A Listening Ear in Robin of Sherwood

A Tale for a Cold Summer Night in Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion universe

Sparkling in the Now You See Me fandom

Wollaston Beach in The Departed fandom

Memory for the movie Amazing Grace


On This 'Ane Night which is a Tiffany Aching/Discworld story
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I've rolled over my membership to 2018. It was a combination of things, but the death of Elle's husband was a final straw. I need to be available for her and for my own peace of mind. I'll miss everyone.
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We all have that one friend. The problem with this week's topic is which one friend do we need to discuss. There's the one who only talks about what she's interested in, no matter what the prior topic had been or the one who only ever gossips.

In my life there's Elle, who, to use a cliche, will be late to her own funeral. The only time I ever got furious with her was when, for once in her life, she was on time, and left before I arrived, ten minutes late. The next time I saw her I reminded her of 2 hour waits in the rain or cold on my part, just knowing that she was on her way, but, once again, late. (The one real advantage I can see to cell phones is that Elle can now let me know, often before I've left the house, how late she foresees being. She's usually at least 15 minutes later than that, but at least I know I can leave later or bring a longer book to read while waiting.) Elle is also unique among my friends in that I have never, not even when sharing a hotel room with her, seen her with her make-up off.

But what of me? How many times have I been that one friend who wails my lamentations in someone's ear before asking how s/he's doing or what's happening in their lives? How many moments of selfishness have I had within friendship without even realizing that I had something for which to apologize?

That then led me to that one friend in a positive way. That one friend who said I could stay with her for a couple of weeks and let me stay for a couple of years. Or Elle, again, who volunteered to look after me after foot surgery before I could even ask. The friend who made certain I was all right after my concussion and went with me to urgent care was another "that one friend." All the friends in many cities, who have helped me clean when my depression has decompensated my apartment into a mess that needs a shovel to get from the door to the bedroom, are "one friends" and godsends.

And in that aspect, what can I take pride in as a friend? In high school, I saw the movie Auntie Mame with my best friend at the time. After it was over, she turned to me and said, "You're my Auntie Mame." Five years ago, at a high school reunion (different high school), someone came up to me and said, "I should have appreciated you more. You were the only one of us out having adventures." He then thanked me for introducing him to the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, a lifelong love that he was looking forward to sharing with his son.

I don't know that there's much I do right in this world. I try, but as Hamlet says, "I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me." I think I'm sometimes -- I hope not often -- a terrible friend. But I have adventures and I do my best to share them and share my love for testing limits.

Maybe I'm not the best person in the world, but at least I've been someone's Auntie Mame.

eta: a missing comma and a missing word
eta2 (12/8/2016 3:00 EST): I just got off the phone with the friend I'm calling Elle. Her husband went in for routine surgery yesterday and, in her words, "I'm probably going to walk out of this hospital a widow." Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.


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