Don't be afraid of people with mental illness. Be afraid of what you are likely to do to people with mental illness, if you don't control your "normal" ass. A recent University of Southern California study found that adults suffering from schizophrenia are 14 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than to be arrested for one. Danish researchers found that schizophrenics and those with psychotic symptoms are at far greater risk of becoming homicide victims than other citizens. Only drug users and alcoholics face greater risk.

If you know Melinda or follow her exploits around the world wide web, you probably know how she polices websites and message boards to remind people when they're talking crap about mental illness. Some jerk on a message board yesterday accused someone else of having a personality disorder, and suggested that he should seek help and get some medication for it. Melinda pointed out that personality disorders aren't treated by medication, so the guy has no idea what he's talking about.

I suggested that she start calling these people "phytopaths", because their knowledge of psychology is about as thorough as their knowledge of plant diseases.


Some kind of Republican convention party at Sotheby's in New York is trying to co-opt the name of Johnny Cash. Protesting outside will be the Man-In-Black Bloc.


Iranian Defense Minister threatens to follow the Bush Doctrine (launch a preemptive strike against US forces in the region to prevent an attack on its nuclear facilities). Damn.


Bible Porn by Erik Hanson, from
"...Because I didn't really want anybody to have a conversion experience, I went to be a counselor at CHIC [Covenant High Congress] to save the children from being saved."

(Not as sacreligious as it sounds. And there are fries involved in the happy ending, so Melinda might like it too!)


"Some people have wacky ideas," the new Republican campaign ad alleges. "Like taxing gasoline more so people drive less. That's John Kerry." Cut to a shot of men in suits riding bicycles.

Sadly, the accusation is false. Kerry has been demanding that the price of oil be held down. He wants George Bush to release supplies from the strategic reserve and persuade Saudi Arabia to increase production. He has been warning the American people that if the president doesn't act soon, he and Dick Cheney will have to share a car to work. Men riding bicycles and sharing cars? Is there no end to this madness?

Like the fuel protests that rose and receded in Britain last week, these exchanges are both moronic and entirely rational. The price of oil has been rising because demand for a finite resource is growing faster than supply. Holding the price down means that this resource will be depleted more quickly, with the result that the dreadful prospect of men sharing cars and riding bicycles comes ever closer. Perhaps the presidential candidates will start campaigning next against the passage of time. ...

-- from Break Out The Bicycles in The Guardian, 8 June 2004, George Monbiot


Deidzoeb and Basketcase proudly announce
the latest addition to their family, of unknown age, hailing from parts unknown:

Mitchigan Eddie Burns
Lansing Gao Hong Lonnie
Larry Chomsky Harper's Lawry's

Primarily known as
"Eddie," the puss is a domestic shorthair, mix of gray and
brown and black spotty tiger stripes, ears a little longer than Lucky's but
maybe he'll grow into them. We're guessing by his size that he's under a year
old, but what do we know? His voice is raspy but he's very loving (for now) and doesn't seem scared of anything.

The removal of Eddie's testicles is
planned for Tuesday, August 17th. In lieu of flowers, Eddie's testicles request that you send donations to
NOCIRC (Natl Organization of
Circumcision Information Resource Centers).

Explication of Eddie's full name: beginning with Lozie Ocarina Okratina Patches, we established a naming convention whereby all names suggested become part of the animal's full name. Then one name gets used more than others, just like in human naming. The afternoon before getting Eddie, we had gone to the Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing, where we saw Eddie Burns and Gao Hong and ate at a place called Harper's. When I was younger, my family had a cat whose tiger stripes formed an M on its forehead, so my dad had named it Mitchigan. I didn't want to settle on that name because the M isn't very clear on Eddie's forehead, and he has this freaky jaguar-like pattern, not as much of a traditional tiger stripe. He has something more like a paw traced on his forehead, including dots for the little footpads. Later that night after bringing him home, we brainstormed names while waiting for some pork steaks to finish on the grill. Melinda's suggestions mostly involved names starting with L and ending with an "ee" sound, just like Lucky and Lozie. That's how she came up with Larry and Lonnie and Lawry's (the brand name of seasoned salt we used on the pork). I suggested Chomsky, but only half-heartedly because I know that Noam dislikes the cult of personality that has developed around him.

Ironically, after I had made acceptance of the cat conditional on my getting to name him, I think it was Melinda who suggested that we name him after a person or event that we had seen that day, and the first one she said was Eddie Burns.

Coercion, Pleading, Caving In: Our neighbor Karen had found the kitten that morning somewhere near our backyard. She asked us to come take a look at it. For about twenty minutes or more, I sat at the table with Karen and Melinda, saying no, sorry, no, we can't take him. It will cost more money, it will increase the urine around our house (already a considerable problem with our two female cats), it will impregnate the two females! I really don't like getting animals fixed, but as soon as I started thinking of the situation as a challenge, how we could detain this cat in the basement and segregate him from our current detainees until scheduling an appointment with the vet, then somehow solving this logistical puzzle seemed more interesting than being responsible, which would have been to ignore all the pleading and coercion that Melinda and Karen had heaped on me. After I agreed that we could take the cat, Melinda started repeating, "Wait, you're going to get home and yell about how we forced you to take it."

Which is true, and which I still want to do, or else why would I have added this section? But I take full responsibility for any urine-soaked walls or magazines, newly shredded carpets (excluding the patches already torn up by Lozie), or boxes of kitty litter becoming overloaded every two days. Regardless of the stubstantial barage of unfair influence and lightly disguised name-calling, the real decision was whether to take in a third cat and all the expense and trouble that comes with it, or let him get hit by a car or hit by the Humane Society, which is what would have happened if we put him back outside.

A few months from now when Eddie is rolling around in my lap and purring, I'll be thankful that they coerced me. (I won't actually thank them, but at least I'm admitting it here. That's as good as you'll get.)


A few months back, I recommended an excellent article published in Harper's titled "The Oil We Eat" by Richard Manning. In case you have a mindless job but plenty of bandwidth and like to listen to people talking instead of music, you can listen to an mp3 of Lynn Gerry reading the article (hostess of "Unwelcome Guests"). The second hour of the show is an interview with David Holmgren talking about Peak Oil and Permaculture.


Jiminy Litcrit: that little voice that bitches at you to write more or write better or pull that novel back out of the drawer and finish it or "Stop playing around and write something marketable" or "Stop writing just to get published and write from your gut!" or "You realize your mother's going to read this sex scene."
I admit the Cheesy Bubble & Squeak did not turn out great. And even then, Melinda ate a whole patty of the stuff and said they weren't bad. (She really wouldn't lie about something like this, because we were both in a mood to happily point out each other's faults.)

Still the experience was lousy, and it's my fault. Even as I wrote that thing last night, I started quibbling at the end, trying to explain my feelings, noticing that I sounded too desperate, so I deleted that part. The thing I would probably notice if someone else had written it, is that even after denying that I would feel any pressure to impress Melinda, the whole point was still that I was trying to impress Melinda.

My first mistake was asking Melinda to make 3 cups of instant mashed potatoes to help me with the recipe. Not a strenuous or tiring task, and she buys potato flakes and makes it for herself occasionally. (It must be either her or mice using it up, cuz I never touch the stuff.) So I go upstairs for a minute and she calls up that there's an insurmountable obstacle. No, she didn't use the words "insurmountable obstacle." The directions on the potato flakes don't say how to make a certain number of cups. It only shows "servings."

I read the Nutritional Information to translate the serving size into number of cups. We're already arguing, because she could have figured it out if she thought about it. Then we're arguing about which bowl or pan to cook it in.

You'd think after writing, "See, no pressure for her to eat it, no feelings of inadequacy for me if she doesn't like it, just an added bonus if she likes it too," that I wouldn't need to argue over how to prepare instant mashed potatoes or that a potato patty falling apart in the frying pan wouldn't make me feel like putting my fist through the door of the microwave. (I didn't do it. Managed to not punch anything last night.) You'd think we would have gone through this often enough that I would have learned my lesson, but not quite. Last night her reaction to the goofy recipe name got my hopes up, or I just got my own hopes up, and simple complications brought me crashing down.

...Tonight: Swanson's!


Each night after work I get home at eleven or midnight, usually make myself some food, try to interest Melinda but she's usually already eaten by then. Sometimes if I make a big, elaborate recipe, it will catch her interest and she'll try a bowl of it. And since the only big, elaborate recipes that Melinda likes involve driving through McDonald's or Wendy's, I've given up trying to make things she'll like, and end up cooking things that appeal to me.

So I've been working my way through the more interesting recipes in this new vegetarian cookbook I got, stocking up on necessary ingredients. I told Melinda that when I get home tonight, I'll be making one of these two recipes and she's welcome to try some. (See, no pressure for her to eat it, no feelings of inadequacy for me if she doesn't like it, just an added bonus if she likes it too.) Tonight I'll either make Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougére (yeah, Melinda's going to want to eat something unpronouncable) or Cheesy Bubble & Squeak.

Kerflumpf. That's the sound of me stumbling over a gimmick that will get Melinda trying new things. All I have to do is make up names that sound like we're eating Rainbow Brite's goony forgotten sidekick, and she'll try it.

Did I say "Cauliflower and Mushroom Gougére?" What I meant was Smurf Cap Soufflé! Fried Monchichi Loaf! Wuzzle Flambé with Gummi Bear garnish!