I spy astroturf

This is not to say that libraries closing is a good thing. But see what you make of this memo. The name of the company has been redacted to prevent me from being dooced.

"Dear [Company that markets to libraries] Michigan Employees:

"As you may have seen in the news, Michigan library funding is at significant risk. Governor Granholm issued an Executive Order Monday, July 13 calling for the elimination of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). At particular risk are the MeLibrary, MeLCat and MeL Tests and Tutorials – all resources used for research, educational purposes, job seeking and job preparation... [And some of those resources include our products, which we'd stop profiting from if they were closed.]

"[Company that markets to libraries] is sponsoring buses to take up to 200 employees to the State Capital on September 10 for a rally that kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Our buses will proudly proclaim "[Company that markets to libraries] for Michigan Libraries." Subject to manager approval, the first 200 employees to sign up to attend the rally will board the buses on September 10! ... Rally participants are asked to wear red and [Company that markets to libraries] will provide signs to help express our commitment to libraries."


Phishing spam via

I received this phishing spam from a surprising source:
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To control which emails you receive on Kid Rock Official Community, go to:


Worst Radio Theme Music

On The Media from NPR, written by bassist/composer Ben Allison. I listen to the podcast every week. That "music" sounds like something to scare birds and animals away, including humans.


Frodo's Run: Logan warns the Hobbits

With these characters, use of magic or proximity to it seems to come at a cost to their spirit or some resource. Gandalf casts spells and is some kind of immortal non-human. The immortal elves have magic in them. Frodo seems drained of his "youthful spirit" just from carrying The Ring for so long. A little like the system in the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game where using spells or magic-items gradually depletes your sanity.

The bit where young Frodo departs Middle Earth to Valinor, the "land beyond the sea", has always bugged the piss out of me. Let's get clear whether this is analogous with Heaven.

1. They're going away and they can never come back.
2. People who live there are immortal.
3. Gandalf says that some of them have to go because they're so old.
4. If I remember correctly, they use the expression "passing on" to the West more than once in the original canonical material.
5. Consider the existing watery afterlife symbols of other traditions: Greeks crossed the River Styx to the afterlife. In ancient Egyptian and other mythologies, East represents birth because that's where the sun comes up, and West represents death because that's where the sun goes down.

So it's not a heavily veiled metaphor.

I realize Frodo and his crew are not exactly committing suicide. They're being rewarded with an early flight to paradise for services rendered, similar to the way Elijah and other Bible characters are supposed to have ascended to the afterlife without dying.

But if it's wrong to commit suicide, is it less wrong to request cutting in line to Heaven this way? If some creator intended humans to live and die on Earth according to some intelligent design, as a test or punishment or learning process or whatever, wouldn't it be wicked for Frodo to avoid the tests and suffering and learning that everyone else has to do? He even tries to convince the other young Hobbits, at least in this clip, that they shouldn't want to leave Middle Earth because they have great things to look forward to in their remaining years -- wives, families, smoking. Nice images, except they aren't enough to persuade Frodo himself that living a mundane life and eventual mundane death would be worthwhile.

I guess if you have a regular trauma in your life that's difficult to deal with, then you're immoral to end your life and cut short the daily remembered suffering. If you have a magical, fantastical trauma in your life, like carrying the burden of an evil ring and sacrificing a finger to save the world, then ending your daily remembered suffering by escaping from the mundane world is not only moral, it's your reward.

Maybe I'm just being selective in my suspension of disbelief. I can suspend disbelief when it comes to dragons and rings of invisibility, but I don't believe we have a magical afterlife in reality, so why should they get one in fantasy stories? Even better than the early trip to paradise, why not fantasize about characters who magically feel less traumatized and have magically adequate coping mechanisms to live out their lives on Earth?

I still enjoy life, even though I know there's bound to be more suffering in it. To me, it's a sad ending that they banish themselves instead of recovering from their traumas and living normally in the mundane world, then dying normally in the mundane world.


Why Ford? Why Bud Dry?

My friends ask me, Mike, why Ford? Why now?

I'm paraphrasing that commercial because I'm too lazy to look up the actual words. Dude is walking through a Ford showroom as if he's the most laidback salesman on staff, or a customer who loves Ford so much that you don't have to pay him to be a spokesman. His delivery has a little bit of Shatner in it, pausing in odd places.

His response to his friends who ask "Why Ford, why now?" is that you can get a rebate in the government subsidized Cash for Clunkers program. But the program isn't unique to Ford. You can get that at any car company now, for a few more minutes. That answers why now, but not why Ford.

After the explanation, he repeats as if in summary, "Why Ford? Why now? [Answer:] Why not?"

It reminds me of the pointless but more poetic marketing catchphrase: "Why ask why? Try Bud Dry." Each word is one syllable, with an ABA, ACA rhyme scheme (if you count each word for its rhyming potential instead of the word at the end of each line).

They can't give a solid reason, because there is hardly anything substantial to distinguish one toxic drink brand from another. You should try it because we thought of a clever rhyme. Try it because people who ask "why" are people who think too much.

Ford isn't very poetic in their case, but they've nailed the pointlessness. Who is going to be convinced by "Why not?" The other weird thing is that after the spokesman finishes speaking, they flash to a screen showing the tagline repeated. This time it's spelled out "Why Ford. Why Now." Without the question marks, it seems like a title, as if they have explained at length why you should buy Ford now. They didn't even try. Maybe it's supposed to be forceful or manly to have a lot of "hard stops" in the middle of your tagline, similar to the Shatner-tastic way he talks. It looks more like a grammatical error.

Here's another rant about the commercials from a columnist at 'Perhaps its just me who drew this conclusion, but do you really want the guy from "Dirty Jobs" [Mike Rowe] next job to be representing your product? To me, it says, "We couldn't get anyone else and he was literally the only person willing to do such an apparently terrible task." Now, Mike Rowe is likeable and a believable spokesperson -- certainly better than Howie Long -- I'm just not sure about the potential subliminal message it says.'

I wouldn't say being a spokesman for Ford in general is a horrible task. They haven't gone bankrupt lately or accepted massive bailouts like some others. And this columnist praises Ford in the rest of his article, making a much better case for why you should buy Ford than just "why not?" The reason it's a dirty job no one else would want to do is that the ad copy sucks so bad.

Health care spin phrases endorsed by Deidzoeb

Here are a few expressions I've heard lately that put a better spin on health care "reform". You've certainly heard "Death Panel", which is the idea of government bureaucrats who might determine that some procedures are too expensive to try on people who are too old or unlikely to live, as if we don't have a kind of health care rationing right now. (Read Peter Singer's Why We Must Ration Health Care, not only for solid reasons why, but for a reality check pointing out that rationing is done now, why it will always be necessary in a pre-Singularity universe of humans with limited time and resources.)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart joked about the "death panel" idea, but coined another expression to put it into perspective. "Private death panel" is the idea of bureaucrats who work for companies, deciding how to ration health care, which people will live or die. That's not a fantasy scenario about what might happen if politicians screw up health care policies. That's the current system we are all in now, one with private death panels. At least with government "death panels" and rationing, the bureaucrats would be distantly accountable to voters, instead of being accountable to corporate shareholders.

Ralph Nader called the status quo a "pay-or-die system that has plagued this country for decades, a system that takes 20,000 lives a year, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences." (From his appearance today on Democracy Now.)

Please use those slanted, in my opinion accurate, shorthand terms when you're stuck talking with people who think the status quo is awesome, or tolerable, or preferable to single-payer universal health care.

PS - A few more.

* Just the headline in this one (taken from a demonstrator's sign) should get people thinking: Who Would Jesus Insure?

* "Kindergarten Insurance" mentioned by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston on Democracy Now back in February.

"I mean, why do we need to have health insurance? Do we have kindergarten insurance? Do we have police insurance? Do we have road insurance? . . .

". . . Our competitors, the Canadians, the Europeans, the Japanese, the Australians, etc., in all other modern countries, the costs of healthcare are on the books of society, and you don’t insure for that, because this isn’t a risk you’re insuring for; it’s a cost. You know what it will be every year from the size and age of the population. . . .

"And they don’t have doctors devoting hours and hours to cost accounting. We don’t make kindergarten teachers do cost accounting, or police officers or prosecutors. Why do we have doctors doing cost accounting? Because a narrow band of people have become fabulously, unbelievably fabulously wealthy off of this enormously inefficient system we have in America, which doesn’t fit with the principles of capitalism."

Also think about fire departments. You might have insurance to cover the cost of your home or car or valuables if they're destroyed in a fire, but the local police department doesn't ask for your insurance info before fighting the fire, or bill your insurance for it. Why is one of these widely accepted by the US public as a necessary service that the government should regulate and pay for, but the other has to be kept out of government hands because they'd screw it up? If they screw up health care so badly, shouldn't we take the fire department, police and military out of government control and let private companies do it? I don't want to reductio ad absurdam, but at least reduce it to a consistent policy.


Crochet hats by Deidzoeb for sale now

Rasta tam in green, gray and black by robThese hats are for sale if you act fast at or just look up "deidzoeb" on It's too late to hire Billy Mays to yell-sell these things, but there are several hundred sensitive, mental health activist, Oprah-tastic subscribers to Melinda's youtube channel who have been clamoring for my crochet products for weeks already. (Is it "crocheted" or just "crochet"? I keep seeing it without -ed.) I even have a waitlist for projects I'm making for them. I made a video announcing to them that my hats are for sale, so the floodgates are open. Don't miss out.

The d20 hat is made of twenty gray triangles. Looked cooler in my imagination, but it's probably appropriate that something this geeky doesn't quite turn out as cool in practice. Oh well. Don't let me talk you out of it. Your gaming group will crap themselves and start a bidding war when you take off your hat and make the Transformers sound as you turn it inside and unfurl the flap that turns it into a complete isocahedron. Go now, quickly, and buy!

I've also made some "market bags". More coming soon. Click on any of the photos below to see larger, grainier images. Anyway, I really made these and I'm actually proud. If it makes you less fearful for the loss of my masculinity, I crocheted these while watching zombie movies and the original Taking of Pelham 123 and things like that. Let me know in comments or at if you like the looks of any of these and I'll make one to your specs. Hit me back and we'll talk colors, material, price and timeline.

d20 hat by Rob

Close-up of rasta tam by Rob

Kid's ski cap by Rob

flowery 5 square crochet hat by rob

market bag for marci


Certificate of Live Birth for G. Roberto Deidzoeb


Backburner update

These projects are all jockeying for status on the front burner, some more than others.
1. Crocheting. I'm on row 15 out of 48 (give or take) of a market bag for one of Melinda's youtube subscribers. One more person on the waitlist after that. Then I have to make Melinda a crocheted cardigan.
2. Post 5 crochet hats on my Etsy shop. (Coming soon. You'll hear about it!)
3. Music. Still need to record "Lonesome Valley (of Pterodactyls)" and post it on youtube. I need to practice the bass part, or decide to do it without instruments.
4. Brazen Hearts. A. Polish and record "The Franco-Sadie Wars." B. Write chapters 13-18, assemble and submit to publishers as a novel.
5. Rafter shelves. Nail the old "laths" from our busted out kitchen ceiling across sections of the basement rafters to make shelves for storing books. Should be low enough that Melinda can reach it.

Over the weekend, my crocheting was enhanced by watching some cool sci-fi shows that I can only see free on-demand.

Being Human. I might have ignored this if it was just about vampires and werewolves, but this show is about a vamp, a werewolf and a ghost trying to make a go of it as roommates. It sounded like an interesting combination. I'm glad I gave it a try. They're listing it in the free on-demand section even if you don't subscribe to BBC America.

I knew Torchwood: Children of Earth was spunoff from some other BBC series, but luckily I tried and enjoyed two or three episodes before they mentioned "The Doctor", or before someone said it Welshlessly enough for me to understand it. (I was watching Season 3, Eps 1-3? "Children of Earth".) There were some silly bits where a temp in a high politician's office is given access to a top secret email account where she discovers the govt plot to kill our heroes, then takes it upon herself to contact and warn them. This happens in her first day on the job, no less. Otherwise, it's pretty good and thoughtful and makes me reconsider whether the newer Doctor Who series might be worth watching too.

SPOILER: Among all the govt conspiracy and aliens and sci-fi and investigation at the end of an episode, two co-workers in a tense situation share a passionate kiss. The tense situation is that one of them had a bomb implanted in his stomach while he was unconscious, excuse me, while he was dead. And that's two guys.

I laughed my ass off, but felt proud that sci-fi sorta broke another barrier. If I remember correctly, the first major motion picture inter-racial kiss was between Charlton Heston and Rosalind Cash(?) in The Omega Man. The first inter-racial kiss on tv was between Shatner and Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek. (Correction: Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on a tv special before the Shatner-Nichols kiss. I assume it wasn't as passionate as the one on Star Trek. Also Shatner kissed a Vietnamese actress in an earlier episode, though she was in alien drag, I mean space alien. Island in the Sun might have set the earlier precedent for big movies in 1957. Darn. My pop culture civil rights history turns out to be myth.)

I'm sure there have been boy-on-boy kisses on regular tv before. This seemed to break a weird threshold because it's not a show about relationships (like thirtysomething, first US tv show where two men were shown in bed together IIRC), or a show where one character's gayness is built into the premise of the show, ala Will & Grace or The L Word. It's not a comedy where the kiss was played for laughs like SNL. It's a sci-fi show, and lots of sci-fi stuff was happening, and then in the course of developing the characters, the two that fall in love or lust happen to be men.

I was thinking more along the lines of Sci-Fi Civil Rights pride, not Gay Pride, but take it however you want.

Finally Warehouse 13 is good enough to keep me watching. It would seem a little more realistic if there wasn't some famous person who had invented or messed with every artifact they come across. It occurred to me that there are two broad interpretations of the show. Either the artifacts they collect have powers that can't be explained by known science at this time, or magic is real in a way that can never be explained by science.