Friday, April 10, 2009


Just got back from the courthouse finishing up a pro bono divorce. This was about my third or fourth one of these and I never know what to say to my clients after the decree is entered. "Congratulations" just doesn't seem quite right.

Adam Lambert crossing political boundaries

Michael Steele, while hosting Bill Bennett's show this morning, sang the praises of Mr. Lambert and said he immediately bought Lambert's cover of Mad World.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I beg your pardon

I had the perfect chance today to address the "beg the question" issue. A colleague at the office asked me to analyze a client's response to a question...was the reply "circular?"

I replied that yes, it was circular and thanked her because it gave me a chance to say, "it addressed a pet-peeve of mine and begged the question."

As I left her office I was surrounded by three associates who'd heard me say, "one of my pet-peeves."

"We want to hear about [Scooter's] pet-peeves. This is always fun."

Glad I could provide so much entertainment.

More Grass Roots

I posted a couple of weeks ago about an issue that has since been alleviated on gun/bullet brass resales. Finally heard from my congressman. His was the only non-robo reply. He informed me that:

Upon recent review, the Defense Logistics Agency determined that small cartridge cases could be appropriately placed in a category of government property allowing for their release for sale.

I have no idea what to think. My two senators graced me with only robo-replies and my congressman emails with an actual answer two weeks after the issue has been resolved.

Lions After Action

Your humble co-host third from the right up on the base of the statue.

Too bad the neighborly photographer took the daddy lion's head off (at least we had a great sky).


This weekend at the Texas Lions Camp I got to meet a little girl with an astounding condition that I had no idea existed. She is the daughter (maybe 3-31/2 years old) of one of my fellow Austin Downtown Lions. I met her at lunch on Saturday. I had been painting all morning with her father while her mother walked her and her sister around the camp. It was about 12:30 and she was NOT interested in the burger and fries in front of her.

As a childless 49 year old it was clear to even me that she wanted a nap and wanted it now. Still, she was cute as she could be and her father and I started to discuss her and he mentioned that when older, she would likely qualify as someone for the camp. I looked at her and said, “What do you mean?”

He replied, “She has aniridia. She has no irises.”

I looked closely and sure enough, she didn’t. At her young age and size one has to get pretty close to her to tell. Talking to her mom and dad I learned that the only treatmets today are basically opaque contacts with a fixed aperture for the pupils and in rare cases, some kind of tattooing of the pupil that I shudder to even consider.

The good news is that we are apparently very few years away from some kind of iris implants.

For more info: .

Gates following Rumsfeld’s lead?

Is it just me or does the second part of SecDef Gates’ two-part defense plan, as summarized by Austin Bay at Townhall, not echo Rumfsfeld’s, “As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

Gates' defense plan, presented this week, seeks to embed these [the first part] capabilities ["small war" capabilities, including counter-insurgency skills, local security training programs, rule of law projects, and economic and political stabilization capacities] but also [the second part explained more below] thwart the most likely current and emerging conventional threats, what he called "the security challenges posed by the military forces of other countries -- from those actively hostile to those at strategic crossroads."

"Most likely" sounds bland, but for Congress, defense industries and many military leaders, they are fighting words. Money isn't the only reason -- legitimate debate over what constitutes adequate preparation for a "war of national survival" is not only justifiable, but a duty. The reason the United States confronts terrorist threats is that America has the combat power to win conventional force-on-force fights, and that must be retained.

Gates doesn't dispute that -- he argues for balance. Budgets are limited. Procuring the expensive "perfect" may be ideal, but acquiring sufficient numbers of "the better than good enough" is more rational.

As a specific example, Gates bets that a sufficient number of F-35s assures U.S. air dominance in the coming decades, so the Pentagon can buy fewer F-22s. Now a battle over numbers flares. Gates says 187 F-22s. I estimate the right number is around 250. Hey, it's not quite thin air. It's based on attrition and operational estimates, and posits a U.S.-China clash over Taiwan.

No one wants that conflict, but if it occurs sometime in the next 20 years we'll rue the day we didn't buy more F-22s. Gates, however, wins the bigger point -- America has less expensive systems that more than overmatch potential adversaries.

In hindsight Rumsfeld’s comments, which seemed so outrageous at the time in the context of the under-armored Humvees, really did merit the opening phrase, “As you know….” It comes down to economics like so much of life (and death). Bay continues:

Choices must be made, and Secretary of Defense Gates has made his. He has done so with an acute assessment of the long-term strategic benefits of assuring success in Iraq and Afghanistan complemented by a cool, intellectually defensible estimate of future requirements. His proposals now become a Washington budget warfighting document.

FBI raid on Minneapolis money transfer businesses

The Star Tribune reports that the FBI has raided several money transfer businesses in Minneapolis. No word yet on whether these raids have anything to do with the missing young Somali men.

Stratfor: Trouble Brewing in Georgia

Per Stratfor Alert:


Georgian opposition movements have planned mass protests for April 9, mostly in Tbilisi but also around the country. These protests could spell trouble for President Mikhail Saakashvili. The Western-leaning president has faced protests before, but this time the opposition is more consolidated than in the past. Furthermore, some members of the government are expected to join in the protests, and Russia has stepped up its efforts to oust Saakashvili.


Related Link Intelligence Guidance (Special Edition): April 8, 2009

Opposition parties inside Georgia are planning mass protests for April 9, mainly in the capital city of Tbilisi but also across the country. The protests are against President Mikhail Saakashvili and are expected to demand his resignation. This is not the first set of rallies against Saakashvili, who has had a rocky presidency since taking power in the pro-Western “Rose Revolution” of 2003. Anti-government protests have been held constantly over the past six years. But the upcoming rally is different: This is the first time all 17 opposition parties have consolidated enough to organize a mass movement in the country. Furthermore, many members of the government are joining the cause, and foreign powers — namely Russia — are known to be encouraging plans to oust Saakashvili.

The planned protests in Georgia have been scheduled to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Soviet crackdown on independence demonstrators in Tbilisi. The opposition movement claims that more than 100,000 people will take to the streets — an ambitious number, as the protests of the past six years have not drawn more than 15,000 people. But this time around, the Georgian people’s discontent is greatly intensified because of the blame placed on Saakashvili after the Russo-Georgian war in August 2008. Most Georgians believe Saakashvili pushed the country into a war, knowing the repercussions, and into a serious financial crisis in which unemployment has reached nearly 9 percent.

Georgia’s opposition has always been fractured and so has only managed to pull together sporadic rallies rather than a real movement. But the growing discontent in Georgia is allowing the opposition groups to finally overcome their differences and agree that Saakashvili should be removed. Even Saakashvili loyalists like former Parliament Speaker Nino Burjanadze and former Georgian Ambassador to the United Nations Irakli Alasania have joined the opposition’s cause, targeting Saakashvili personally. The problem now is that opposition members still do not agree on how to remove the president; some are calling for referendums on new elections, and some want to install a replacement government to make sure Saakashvili does not have a chance to return to power. But all 17 parties agreed to start with large-scale demonstrations in the streets and go from there.

If the movement does inspire such a large turnout, it would be equivalent to the number of protesters that hit the streets at the height of the Rose Revolution, which toppled the previous government and brought Saakashvili into power in the first place.

Saakashvili and the remainder of his supporters are prepared, however, with the military on standby outside of Tbilisi in order to counter a large movement. During a demonstration in 2007, Saakashvili deployed the military and successfully — though violently — crushed the protests. But that demonstration consisted of 15,000 protesters; it is unclear if Saakashvili and the military could withstand numbers seven times that.

(click image to enlarge)

[not really--click on link for map.]

There is also concern that protests are planned in the Georgian secessionist region of Adjara, which rose up against and rejected Saakashvili’s government in 2004 after the Rose Revolution. This region was suppressed by Saakashvili once and has held a grudge ever since, looking for the perfect time to rise up again. Tbilisi especially wants to keep Adjara under its control because it is home to the large port of Batumi, and many of Georgia’s transport routes to Turkey run through it. If Adjara rises up, there are rumors in the region that its neighboring secessionist region, Samtskhe-Javakheti, will join in to help destabilize Saakashvili and the government. Georgia already officially lost its two northern secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to Russian occupation during the August 2008 war and is highly concerned with its southern regions trying to break away.

These southern regions, like the northern ones, have strong support from Russia; thus, Moscow is square in the middle of tomorrow’s activities. Russia has long backed all of Georgia’s secessionist regions, but has had difficulty penetrating the Georgian opposition groups in order to organize them against Saakashvili. Though none of the 17 opposition groups are pro-Russian, STRATFOR sources in Georgia say Russian money has been flowing into the groups in order to nudge them along in organizing the impending protests.

Russia has a vested interest in breaking the Georgian government. Russia and the West have been locked in a struggle over the small Caucasus state. That struggle led to the August 2008 Russo-Georgian war, after which Moscow felt secure in its control over Georgia. Since Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama met April 1 and disagreed over a slew of issues, including U.S. ballistic missile defense installations in Poland and NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia, Russia is not as secure and is seeking to consolidate its power in Georgia. This means first breaking the still vehemently pro-Western Saakashvili. This does not mean Russia thinks it can get a pro-Russian leader in power in Georgia; it just wants one who is not so outspoken against Moscow and so determined to invite Western influence.

The April 9 protests are the point at which all sides will try to gain — and maintain — momentum. The 2003 Rose Revolution took months to build up to, but the upcoming protests are the starting point for both the opposition and Russia — and opposition movements in Georgia have not seen this much support and organization since the 2003 revolution. April 9 will reveal whether or not things are about to get shaken up, if not completely transformed, in Georgia.

Judge OKs collecting of dead son's sperm

Hmmm. Not sure how I feel about this except generally negative (not that I want the gummint to intervene, though).

From the Austin American Statesman:

The mother of a 21-year-old assault victim who died of his injuries received permission Tuesday for his sperm to be collected post-mortem, giving her the chance to have a grandchild through a surrogate mother.

Update FWIW: I can't comment too much on this because I have a dog in this hunt.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Fan Fiction: Adam Lambert

First, if you missed it, here's the video of Adam Lambert's performance last night. (That link probably won't work for long, as Idol is rigorous about policing.)

In honor of this, and spurred by Not So Anonymous Mom, I'm writing one scene of fan fiction, though it really writes itself:

The first seven contestants had finished their performances of Songs From the Year You Were Born and were happy and relaxed as they sat piled on the cushy couches and chairs in front of a monitor in the green room to watch Adam's performance. They watched in silence and in awe. When it was over, after they'd watched Simon Cowell give Adam a standing ovation, Anoop, head in his hands, said aloud what they were all thinking, "What the hell am I doing here? Why am I even bothering?"

Update 8/15/10: For blog visitors who were directed to this post, I suspect you're looking for this post instead.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Adam Lambert's Cat O' Nine Tails and a Continuity Error

Everyone loves a good continuity error, right?  I've found one and it gives me an excuse to post some more about Adam Lambert.

We tape at least some of Idol while we're watching so that if there's anything good we can review.  So we had taped Ring of Fire and replayed it several times between Tuesday, March 17 and Thursday, March 19 when I bought the video from iTunes.  When my editor husband K saw the iTunes version, he immediately noticed that it differed a bit in shot selection from the live show.  That got us interested:  why was it different?  We compared frame by frame and realized that they'd substituted an extreme wide rear shot for a mid-range rear shot in a one spot.  Our hypothesis was that they were obscuring a salacious hip swish. 
It's common knowledge that Idol tapes the dress rehearsal and uses that footage for the wrap-up montage at the end of the show.  In the RoF video, we noted that the midrange camera is nowhere to be seen in the extreme wide shot and it would have been visible within the wide shot had the mid-range camera been where it was during the live show.  (It was circling Adam -- a ring of fire, as it were -- through the whole song.) Therefore, the inserted wide shot was clearly from dress rehearsal.
Over the weekend, I was reading some Adam Lambert fan fiction.  I'm way behind the times so this whole genre of fan fiction was new to me.  Apparently, people take celebrities and write fiction around them.  Adam has inspired a batch of it, including one bawdy series in which he and apparently-straight, married contestant Kris Allen (his roommate at the Idol mansion, for real) revisit Kris' sexual preferences.  It's unfortunate that it's pornographic and not suitable for all readers, because the stories are pretty clever, with scenes written around things that Idol fans would recognize, like the contestants going to the mall to shop for jackets, since this has been the season of everyone-wearing-jackets-all-the-time.  And of course I hate to see homosexuality equated with promiscuity.  Anyway, at one point in the fan-fic story, the writer has Fictional Kris asking Fictional Adam what the fringy thing is that Adam is wearing, and Kris learns (as did I, then) that it's a cat o' nine tails.  (In real life, Adam wore it while performing Black & White and Ring of Fire.)
Armed with this new fact, I updated my hypothesis about the edit to the video of RoF:  it was not to obscure a hip swish, but to make it harder to see that the man is sporting an S&M toy on prime-time family TV.  (Love the man.)  So I went back to the iTunes video to watch for the cat o' nine tails.  You can see it occasionally, but views are fleeting.  You can just see something fringy from the front as his hip swishes send it out to the side, but you can't get a good enough look at it to determine what it is.  And indeed, it's impossible to tell from the extreme wide shot what it is, though the midrange shot gives you a good view, so I believe that solves the mystery of why they made the edit.
But I noticed something else in the iTunes video!  The CoNT is hanging from Adam's left rear side, from a belt loop, for all of the video EXCEPT for that inserted extreme wide shot in which it's hanging from his right rear side.  This tells us that during dress rehearsal he was wearing it on the right side, took it off between dress and live, and then put it on the wrong side for the live show.
And there you go:  a fabulous premise for another story in the fan-fic series about Fictional Adam's debauchery of Fictional Kris:  what exactly was the CoNT doing during the downtime between dress rehearsal and the live show when it wasn't attached to Adam's pants?

Update 7/29/10: I just noticed something about this post that I failed to appreciate when I wrote it. I wrote "It's unfortunate that it's pornographic and not suitable for all readers..." If you're not in my head, you'd think that I meant it was a bad thing that it was pornographic. But what I meant was "Unfortunately, because it's pornographic, I can't post a link or an excerpt of this delightful story here."

In the months after writing this post, I read a LOT of Adam fan fic. Sure, there's some bad fan fic, but for the most part I was blown away by the quality of the writing. There are some seriously talented people out there. Here's a list of "Adam Lambert Fic That Doesn't Suck" compiled by yeats at

Update 9/29/10:  For even more Adam fan fiction, see glambertfiction, also at

Update 9/30/10:  A short list of high-quality Kradam fic at Ink, a fanfic recommendation site.

As long as I'm posting about the Bowie song...

Eno, and Lou Reed period, I can't forget about Iggy Pop.

RE: Under Pressure

Don't forget this, er, homage by Mr. Ice.

You be the judge. Queen’s is here and the other guy’s is here.

Great, now Stephanie has me dancing around my living room.

"Word to your mother." Manilli Vanilli would blush.

Coolest Thing about the Texas Lions Camp?

The pair of eagles that were flying around. They were too high to get a good picture and when they lit, they weren't really in good picture taking positions but I did get a few really good looks while painting.