Confusticated World takes on Headcrash

Ian McLeod of the Clan McLeod is having a go at The Original Cyberpunk’s Headcrash. Ian, tell me when the review is done and I’ll post a link to it here.

Meanwhile, I’m slogging my way towards the end of my latest. 150,000 words, about 83k of which are keepers. I’m shooting for 120k to wrap it, so one more month should do it. It’s at times like this that one simply hates Charles Stross, he of the brilliant and prolific pen. I’ll tell you, though, this one is stee-range.

At least she’ll have time to polish her medal

I didn’t agree with Joseph Farah when he wanted to give this woman a medal. First, because his column pandered to the mistaken notion that male philandering is a primary cause of divorce in this country. Second, because it’s just a really, really bad idea to encourage people to kill for money, which is exactly what was going on here. The primary reason people kill instead of getting a divorce is because they can’t bear the idea of lowering their living standard, which is frequently the case for men and usually the case for women after a divorce.

Giving a murderess a medal won’t solve anything. If you want to stop divorce, make it difficult or impossible to obtain. Better yet, get the state out of the whole marriage business altogether.

HOUSTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) — A Houston jury Friday sentenced Clara Harris to 20 years in prison for murdering her husband with her car after catching him with another woman. The 45-year-old dentist and mother of two appeared to collapse in the grasp of her attorneys when the verdict was announced after six hours of deliberation. The same jury of nine women and three men Thursday convicted Harris of murder…. Harris will have to serve half of the 20-year sentence because the jury ruled Thursday that the Mercedes-Benz she used to run down her husband, David, last July outside a hotel was a “deadly weapon.” She was also fined $10,000. Harris was charged with murder after police said she drove her Mercedes-Benz over her husband three times outside the Nassau Bay Hilton Inn in suburban Friendswood. Minutes before, she had just confronted her husband and his mistress in the hotel’s lobby.

Ironically, the sentencing came on the 11th anniversary of the Harrises’ marriage. Earlier Friday, defense attorney George Parnham appealed to the jury to have mercy on his client and give her probation because of her twin sons. He said she was “a good mother, a good wife,” and she didn’t deserve prison time.

I don’t think that you can claim to be a good wife or a good mother after running over a man THREE FREAKING TIMES with your step-daughter in the car.

Mailvox: On beauty

Sarah comments: All I meant to say though is that standards for ‘beauty’ are relative…. You see, there is a continuum: Ugly (sorry for not being PC), Unattractive, Plain, Pretty, Beautiful

I disagree. While there are fads in beauty, to say that standards are relative is to destroy the concept entirely. I’d no more accept the notion here than I would with regards to morality. Nor is there any need to qualify things such as inner and outer beauty, that’s just the weasel’s way of trying to avoid what can be a prickly subject as we have a perfectly good words to use in the case of the former concept that don’t require corrupting the language. As Hayek points out with regards to social justice, any concept which requires an adjective to modify the noun is by definition something fundamentally different than the noun in its properly understood form.

While the Romans may have written odes to the character and fortitude of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, there’s a reason that oceans of ink have been spilled in praise of the exterior qualities of women throughout the ages. This isn’t to say that beauty is the only thing worth pursuing in a woman – far from it – but I despise the notion that one cannot or should not speak honestly about something that is obvious to everyone. Standards in beauty do change, but slowly, over generations. At any given point in time, I think we can speak about beauty in the same manner that we speak of anything else that is widely and well understood. This is just my opinion, but I tend to see feminine pulchritude breaking down in the following manner:

Flawless: Helen of Troy 1000-ship launching. Cheryl Tiegs, Veronika Verikova

Gorgeous: Almost perfect. Stunning. Michelle Pfeiffer, Bai Ling

Beautiful: Far above the norm. Eye-catching. Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow

Pretty: Mostly good, often one great feature. Anna Kournikova, Uma Thurmon

Cute: More good than bad. Jeanine Garofalo, Laura Bush

Plain: Nondescript. No particularly good or bad features. Kerry’s purported amorressa

Unattractive: Okay, with one bad feature. Hilllary Clinton and her Tree Trunks of Doom

Ugly: Not much good, multiple bad features. Donna Shalala. Any woman whose description contains the adjective “bulldog”.

Scary: Nothing good, mostly bad features. Janet Reno

Oh Sweet Moses, You Poor Thing: a false lead on the genetics tree. Helen Thomas of UPI

Space Bunny denies, denies, denies that she looks anything like a blonde Sandra Bullock, but that argument sank like the USS Arizona when my father, who sees about one movie per decade and knows absolutely nothing about Hollywood celebrities, came over one day and told us, “you know, your mother took me to a movie and there was this girl in it who looked exactly like you.” Sure enough, Mom had dragged him off to see Miss Congeniality.

Not that it’s her only virtue, but I think she’s beautiful, anyhow.

NOTE – hey, it’s the weekend and there’s no football. Do you seriously want another raging debate on abortion, gay marriage or strict literal constructionalism?

Mailvox: Southern hospitality

Witrack asks: In all honesty…is Southern hospitality a reality? I hear stories about Southerners sometimes in this day meeting strangers and inviting them to their homes for meals, etc. That kinda stuff. Southern hospitality? Myth? Or fact?

Oh, it’s real, all right. They’re very polite too. Even the surly teenage grocery baggers will look you in the eye and say “thank you, sir”. One night after having dinner at our new pastor’s house in Florida, Space Bunny and I were both taken aback when after dessert had been finished and it was, by Northern standards, time to have coffee and then leave, when the pastor asked: “so, do you like playing games?”

We just looked at each other, both thinking, right, this is some kind of cult and now his wife is going to pop out wearing an S&M harness while he breaks out the whipped cream and mayonnaise. It turned out he meant it literally, and we ended up having a great time playing cribbage and whatnot until midnight. Southern friendliness and the hospitality is genuine, it’s just a little hard to believe at first for those of us raised in quasi-Scandinavian culture. The southerners didn’t believe it when I told them that in Minnesota, if a man is talking with another man he’s known all his life, you stand parallel to each other and look straight ahead when you talk, especially if the subject is serious. Do not touch, do not lock eyes, do not even face each other.

In my opinion, it’s Minnesota Nice that is largely a myth. It’s nice only by coastal standards, not Southern.

So, you can imagine it was a little bit of a shock when I lived in Italy, where your friends greet you with an enthusiastic “ciao bello!” and a kiss on both cheeks. This was not only unexpected, but rather alarming when it first happened.

VD: “Did he just call me beautiful?”

SB: “Oh, just be happy he didn’t grab your butt.”

I never quite reached the point that I could actually address another man that way. But Space Bunny tells me that at least I did stop visibly cringing when subjected to the treatment. Va bene. Quando a Roma, fa cosi come i Romani.

Republican principle or lack thereof

This is a must-read for every conservative Republican. It seals the deal on the notion that national Republicans are about anything but power, power, power. I don’t see how anyone can possibly believe that keeping these unprincipled whores in office is a good idea, much less argue with a straight face that it is vital to the continued health and liberty of the country.

When Congress adjourns this year, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., will retire after just one term. He’s retiring because his own party has turned on him and promised to run a primary candidate against him. That’s because this particular senator decided that while he was in office he’d be his own man and vote his own conscience. He wouldn’t be a lackey for his party, he wouldn’t vote pork home to his state, and he wouldn’t do what the special interests who run his party told him to do. And that got him into trouble. When Fitzgerald announced his retirement last April, he’d already been the scorn of his home state’s newspaper columnists and editorial boards. The Republican Party — both state and national — was elated to see him go. The Washington Times ran an editorial gloating over his departure….

Six years ago, Fitzgerald ran against troubled incumbent Democrat Carol Moseley Braun. He financed his own campaign, indicating early on that he’d be beholden to no one. The media immediately tapped him as a fringe candidate from the Christian right — an ill-informed and unfair characterization. A better label would be “principled.” Fitzgerald showed more of that rare Washington commodity in one term than most politicians show in a lifetime.

Fitzgerald’s crowning achievement in his brief career was his opposition to the federalization of a planned expansion of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Congress’ seal of approval would have ensured that the $13 billion expansion forge ahead, without any input from Illinois residents, including those who owned the hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses that would have been bulldozed to make way for the new runways. The expansion was pushed by a shady consortium of business developers, who launched a PR campaign just as its major players were making political contributions to prominent and powerful Illinois politicians. Fitzgerald’s opposition to federalizing what should have been a local issue postponed the expansion, which later fizzled when the airlines endured post-Sept. 11 financial problems.

Fitzgerald showed some admirable backbone there, too. He was the only senator in the U.S. Congress to vote against the $15 billion airline bailout, despite the fact that United Airlines is based in Illinois and American Airlines has a major hub at O’Hare. Fitzgerald next earned the wrath of fellow Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, a fellow Republican and probably the most powerful politician in Illinois, if not the country. Fitzgerald and Hastert first tangled over Fitzgerald’s refusal to support Hastert’s efforts to secure a glut of federal funding for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, located in Illinois. Hastert pulled rank to secure the money, and Fitzgerald criticized him publicly for it.

Fitzgerald then refused sign a letter written by the Illinois’ congressional delegation to President Bush, which requested the White House’s help in securing federal dollars (read: pork) for the state. Fitzgerald infuriated his colleagues when he wrote in a reply, “the mere fact that a project is located somewhere in Illinois does not mean that it is inherently meritorious and necessarily worthy of support.”