September 30, 2008

But on a more cheerful note

Here's Baby Biff at 27 weeks. Click on any image for a larger version.

Posted by Shelby at 11:42 PM | Comments (3)

September 29, 2008


So I finally realized that Movable Type (my blogging software) has stopped notifying me when people leave me comments. It used to send me an email and now it doesn't. Sad! But rest assured, I have now read your very valued comments--thank you!!

Strange thing number 2--it won't let me comment on my own entries. I get a message that my comment is held for moderation, except in my Movable Type software it doesn't show up for moderation so I can't approve my own comments. WTF? Maybe I spammed myself too often. We're working on it.

So back on my post on truthiness, my first comment was from my dad:

As always there are two sides to every story.

And my response that my software won't let me post is this--I understand that there are two sides to every story. However, in my entry, I was very careful to cite only sources that were independent and not related to either campaign (PolitiFact, FactCheck, newspapers, etc.). I deliberately did not use either candidate's websites as sources for precisely the reason that both candidates engage in spin.

Additionally, the article linked has to do with the McCain/Rick Davis/Freddie Mac thing, and the main thrust of the article seems to be that the New York Times is out to get McCain and distort the truth. First of all, I just don't buy the "Big Bad Liberal Media" argument any more than I bought the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" argument a decade ago in the Clinton Administration. But secondly, if the NYT is out to get McCain, it looks like Newsweek is in on it too. This article from Sep. 27th has further information on McCain/Rick Davis ties.

Also on the truthiness entry, fellow blogger Suzanne asks:

Hi Shelby,

I agree that there is a serious lack of truthfulness visible in our society, and in the campaigns. I respectfully ask, what do you make of this?


The "this" in question was a hyperlink to a Youtube video. Unfortunately, when I click on the link, I get an error from Youtube that the video has been removed. Suzanne, do you have another source for this, or a transcript of what was on the video? As Suzanne and I have very different political leanings, I would really like to see and comment on it. Thanks!

Posted by Shelby at 12:23 AM | Comments (2)

September 24, 2008

Please vote for the smart guy

Posted by Shelby at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2008

A Campaign Based On Truthiness

A couple of years ago, Stephen Colbert coined the phrase "Truthiness" to describe something a person "knows" to be true based on intuition and gut-feeling rather than facts, logic, or intellectual examination. Truthiness is, in essence, the quality of something being true simply because you want it to be true or that you say it's true, regardless of whether or not it's actually, you know, true.

It's a cute word until you base a Presidential campaign on it.

This opinion piece in the New York Times
got me thinking about truthiness and its role in this election, and I found myself nodding vehemently with the author's assertion:

A [Karl] Rovian political strategy by definition means all slime, all the time. But the more crucial Rove game plan is to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness. All campaigns, Obama’s included, engage in false attacks. But McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it.

And that's what a truthiness-based campaign is all about. It doesn't matter whether or not something is actually true. What matters is that you believe it to be true, and then you repeat it over and over until everyone else believes it to be true as well. With truthiness, you create an alternative reality so strong that even the actual truth does not change people's minds.

8 years of George W. Bush has shown us just how powerful and insidious truthiness is*, and McCain has clearly adopted truthiness as his main political strategy. That's just really sad.

A classic example of Bush truthiness is the justification for going to war in Iraq. In September 2003, fully 70% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was involved or responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the result of which was an American public who firmly supported the invasion of Iraq. The fact is, there never was any evidence that Hussein was linked to the 9/11 attacks--not then and not now. So why did so many people buy it? Because the Bush Administration simply kept linking the two by mentioning them in the same sentence over and over again. Americans were bombarded with "9/11" and "Saddam Hussein" in close proximity so often that Bush created a reality in people's minds that Hussein was involved in the attacks. Even while a small portion of the media clearly reported there was no link, the truth was not enough to overcome the truthiness. Even when the Bush Administration themselves came out and said there was no link, people still believed it. It wasn't until the war dragged on, became more bloody, and became clear that things were not turning out the way we thought they would did the facade start to crumble on that truthiness. Of course, by then it was too late, and we're still stuck there.

It is the power of truthiness that McCain is harvesting in his campaign. Let's look at some examples.

In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 51% of those polled believe that Obama will raise their taxes. The truth is that according to the independent, non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Obama's plan would cut taxes for 95% of all households. Numerous media outlets including have reported multiple times on the truth of Obama's tax plan (here's one example, and another, and another), but the truthiness remains, simply because the McCain campaign keeps repeating that Obama will raise your taxes.

Truthiness also explains why the McCain/Palin campaign continued to assert that Sarah Palin said "thanks, but no thanks" to the "Bridge to Nowhere," even after the media reported that that wasn't true. What's the truthiness aspect? The Bridge to Nowhere lie is part of a larger truthiness--building the perception that Sarah Palin rejected federal earmarks, which is a cornerstone of McCain's purported "maverick" stance in the Senate. The truth? Sarah Palin hired a lobbyist and brought in over $27 million in federal earmarks to Wasilla (population 7,000 at the time). John McCain may well be a maverick when it comes to federal earmarks--he has truth on his side. The centrist group Taxpayers for Common Sense listed Arizona dead last in federal spending per capita. Sarah Palin? Not so much. Guess which state ranked first?

More truthiness? McCain earned "Pants On Fire" ratings from on Obama calling Sarah Palin a pig, Obama wanting to increase the government by 23%, and of course, teaching sex ed to kindergarteners.

But no matter. McCain will just keep repeating lies until they become truths in peoples' minds. Look for more examples of truthiness in these upcoming weeks. I assure you, they'll be there.

*It would be inaccurate to credit Bush with the invention and mastery of truthiness. As the article says, that honor goes to Karl Rove. Which makes it all the more sad when the Master of Truthiness Himself accuses McCain of truthiness.

Posted by Shelby at 03:32 PM | Comments (3)

September 21, 2008

Baby Furniture

So yesterday we went out looking at baby furniture just to see what was out there on the market. We first stopped by our local boutique-ish store (the ish is because the store is actually pretty large, but they carry higher-end brands than Babies R Us) to look at all the matching crib and bedroom sets. We were pretty unimpressed. The quality seemed "meh" and none of the styles really caught my eye. We both noticed that the display furniture was pretty dinged up. Granted this is display furniture, but it's supposed to be in a child's room, and if it can't handle being on display in a store, how is it going to stand up to an actual child or two? I have read other reviews on the internet and this seems to be a primary complaint as well (soft wood that dings easily). Although I think my favorite part were the signs on every crib saying, "For display purposes only." I guess too many customers were just coming in and popping their babies in a random crib for a little nap while they shopped.

We then hit Ikea--one of my favorite stores. Ikea had a collection we liked, the Leksvik collection, and you can never beat the price at Ikea. I've owned a lot of Ikea furniture throughout the years and quality does vary. Ikea's solid wood products really are great products. They're very sturdy, hard to damage, and have withstood several moves. Their laminate pressboard products are less reliable. They look great, but if you ever plan to move them, you really run the risk of them falling apart (which is not a problem if they're going to stay in the same room you started them off in).

Bottom line was that we felt the quality of the Ikea Leksvik (which is solid wood) was just as good, if not better than the quality of the sets at the boutique store, at a fraction of the price. Since we weren't totally taken by any of the styles in the boutique store (and haven't found any online we liked) we figured we might as well just save ourselves the money and go with Ikea.

We didn't stop there, however. Our next thought was buying children's furniture from a regular furniture store with the idea that it would be higher quality than the "baby" furniture and would last throughout childhood. Well, we visited 4-5 other stores and only one of them even made children's furniture, so we struck out there. Then we looked at adult furniture, but all of the styles were very, well, adult. In particular, they were adult-sized, so you'd have like a dresser where the child couldn't reach the top drawer until they hit high school.

Anyway, I think Ikea is our choice. Ikea also betrayed us on our tv stand. We've been looking for a new tv stand to accomodate a larger tv, but we'd like it to match the rest of our living room set. Unfortunately, they discontinued the stain that the rest of the set is in, so while they have the perfect stand, it's in the wrong stain. On the tag in the store, it actually listed our stain, so we got all excited thinking maybe they'd brought it back. Alas, when we looked in the computer, it told us to ask a sales associate for help. We did, and the associate said it had a product number but no inventory and no indication of when it might come into stock. So the good news is that it seems that they will actually be making the stand we want. The bad news is that it's not clear when that will happen.

Posted by Shelby at 11:08 PM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2008

Live from New York...

It's two of my favorite comediennes, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey!

Posted by Shelby at 01:27 PM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2008

But on a lighter note...

Here are some belly pictures. This is me at 25 and a half weeks (6 months):


Look at that beautiful subway tile on the wall behind me. Didn't Kevin do a great job?


Posted by Shelby at 11:07 PM | Comments (2)

Sarah Palin

I've been giving a lot of thought about what to post about Sarah Palin. How, for example, the Republicans can live with their own hypocrisy by playing the sexism card when delegates from the state of Indiana wore "Hoosiers for the Hot Chick" buttons to the Republican National Convention. Or the double-standard of claiming that one of the things that makes her qualified for the position is the fact that she's a working mom, but then saying that any discussion about her family is off-limits (I mean, if you bring something to the table, doesn't that mean it's on the table? You can't go and say, "I'm qualified for this office because I've been a US Senator, but you can't talk about my Congressional record--that's off-limits").

And then there are the rumors. Oh, the rumors. Might I take this opportunity to point everyone to and There is enough to dislike about Sarah Palin based in fact and reality already. There's no need to invent or distort anything to try to make her scarier. Furthermore, the rumors simply serve to distract from the real issues, and distraction from the real issues is exactly what provides a boost to the McCain/Palin campaign.

For that reason, I've been reluctant to say much about Sarah Palin--because I'd like the spotlight to get back on McCain and the issues. However, my main issue right now is McCain's lack of honesty in his advertising and statements, and Palin has been a big part of that. So here I am, about to make the following point.

I had heard some interesting things about McCain's interview on The View, a tv show that makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a sharp, pointed stick. However, the things I heard were so interesting I decided to watch the interview anyway. I then read what I thought was a very salient opinion piece entitled, "Thank God for Barbara Walters?". The article author made a point I really wanted to reiterate. Here's a clip from the View interview. Now if you hate Barbara Walters as much as I do--and believe me, my annoyance and enmity for the woman knows no bounds--I'll just let you know that the relevant point starts right around 3:50 into the clip.

Walters says that Palin states, several times, that she was chosen to be a "reformer." We've heard the word "reform" about 75 billionty times the last 2 weeks or so. Walters pressed McCain to be specific about exactly who and what Palin is there to reform. From the article:

I love how McCain thinks that by just saying they're going to reform Washington over and over again that this is somehow a sufficient explanation of his policy. Also I guess what we're supposed to glean from his defense is that Washington was just fine until two years ago, when the big bad Democrats took over and everything went straight to hell. Oh, and this is the same Democratic Congress that McCain assures us he can work with in a more effective, bipartisan way than Barack Obama. Yeah, right. But I digress...

"First of all, earmark spending, which she vetoed a half a billion dollars worth in the state of Alaska."

But she also put earmarks in, Ms. Walters noted.

"Not as governor she didn't," Mr. McCain said.

But as governor, she did. As the Anchorage Daily News among others, has reported, in Ms. Palin's first year as governor, she requested 52 earmarks valued at $256 million, and this year, her office asked the Alaska delegation in Washington to help land 31 earmarks valued at $197 million. Also, Citizens Against Government Waste ranks Alaska as having received the "most pork per capita" of all states this year.

(emphasis and links replicated from the article)

The article continues to, I believe, the crux of this issue:

Does he not know that Sarah Palin asked for and received millions of dollars worth of earmarks? Or is he just lying? It can only be one of these two possibilities and it doesn't make you a biased, flaming liberal if you force McCain to pick one.

It's true--either he doesn't fully know Palin's record, or he does and he deliberately misstated it. Either is profoundly disturbing. You either have a liar or you have someone who has demonstrated unbelievably poor judgement by selecting a running mate whose own record he doesn't know. If he knew and he lied, well, then he's a liar and there's not much more to point out about why lying is not a good quality in a President. If he was just ignorant, it's scary that not only does he lack the judgement to select someone he's familiar with, he's also willing to try to sell that choice by making claims he doesn't even know are true or not. Talk now and check the facts later? That's good judgement?

Posted by Shelby at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2008

Posted by Shelby at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

Physical therapy

I started physical therapy for my back problems, and I think it's helping. The final diagnosis turned out to be just what I suspected--sacroiliac joint pain. The SI joint is where your tailbone meets your pelvis:

The SI joint is normally very tight and has very little give. However, pregnancy hormones loosen all of your ligaments, and what happens is that the SI joint loosens up and everything there starts moving around. For some lucky women, the result is a great deal of pain.

So the good news is that now we know what the problem is. The less good news is that there just isn't a whole lot that can be done about it. My physical therapist is doing a lot of deep massage to try to get the muscles in the area to relax, and then we're doing stretching to try to minimize pulling on the joint. I'm also doing strengthening exercises to try to support the joint. And apparently my hips are out of alignment, so he's been readjusting my hips. That helped tremendously the first day, but since the ligaments are loose, it's likely to be an ongoing problem.

But I do think the physical therapy is helping, so that's a good thing.

Posted by Shelby at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

I made a lolcat!

For those of you not in-the-know, lolcats (lol = laughing out loud) are an internet phenomenon in which people add captions to funny pictures. It all started at I Can Has Cheezburger with the original lolcats--pictures of cats with captions. One hallmark of lolcats is that cats are essentially illiterate, so their grammar and spelling is a bit off, which is part of the joke.

Luckily for us, I Can Has Cheezburger has created an easy "caption it yourself" interface and has broadened its repertoire from cats to politics and current events. And what's more fun than politics? PunditKitchen is the source for political/current events lolcats. Browse them if you want a good laugh. Here's two of my favorites (I didn't make these):

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures


Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures
see Sarah Palin pictures

Just for fun I made a couple of my own :).

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

and one more which contains profanity, so it's in the extended entry below

funny pictures
moar funny pictures


Posted by Shelby at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

5-Minute Chocolate Cake!

To step away from politics for a second, I thought I'd share with you a very cool recipe I found on the web: 5-Minute Chocolate Cake! Yes, you can create a single serving of chocolate cake in 5 minutes right in your own kitchen, and not by buying those microwave mixes (which are good but expensive). Someone on a message board I frequent posted this recipe and I just had to try it right away. I figured I would document it Pioneer Woman-style (if you haven't read the Pioneer Woman's blog, you simply must do so now. I'll wait). Back from the Pioneer Woman? Okay, let's get started!

First off, the recipe:

4 Tablespoons cake flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
1 Mug
1 Microwave

Now the process. Presenting...the cast of characters:


I set out all of the above ingredients. Although the recipe called for an egg, we don't happen to have any in the house right now, but we did have some store-brand Egg Beaters (egg whites) so I used that instead. I also happened to have some leftover frosting sitting around, so I figured what the hay (for you camp people, I used the frosting to make Pooh Food). Also pictured, but not featured in the recipe: dishwashing liquid, jar of peanut butter, two bottles of Robitussin, and a salt shaker. Our counter tends toward the random.

First, measure out 4 Tablespoons of cake flour into your mug. My mug has beagles on it, which I am convinced made the cake that much yummier. If you don't have a beagle mug, use another mug and hope for the best.


Then add 4 Tablespoons sugar


Then add 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder. Notice the spilled cocoa powder on the counter. This part is very important, so make sure you spill some yourself.


Mix together the dry ingredients. I used a fork. THIS WAS A MISTAKE, as we will soon see. USE A SPOON.


Add your egg or egg equivalent


Add 3 Tablespoons of milk and 3 Tablespoons of oil. Stir


See that nasty lump? This is why you should use a spoon. There should be no nasty lumps, and although I thought I did a good job with the fork, about 3 minutes and 30 seconds later I learned that I didn't and should have switched to a spoon. Hey, I'm a first-timer. Live and learn.


Make sure everything is all mixed together. Again, no lumps or white spots, as they will just show up later.


Pop the mug into the microwave (remove your spoon, or if you're being stubborn and using a fork, remove that) and microwave it on High for 3 minutes


The cake will rise like a souffle' during cooking


But will settle down when it's done


Let the cake settle for a second, then tip it upside down onto a plate.


Oh gross! What is that nasty stuff on top??? That, my friends, is why you should use a spoon and not a fork. There were lumps at the bottom I didn't get out. Fortunately I took my handy butter knife and cut that part off. Then I added a nice dollop of frosting.


Grab yourself a fork and dig in




In summary, this was a great little cake. It actually had the texture of an English pudding rather than what we would expect from a cake, but it was really quite good. Next time I'll definitely use a spoon, and I might up the cocoa a bit more to make it more chocolatey. Maybe I'll try a dash of vanilla too. At any rate, I'll definitely be making this again when I need a sweet little snack!

Posted by Shelby at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I've been experiencing some problems with my email, so if you've sent an email to my address there's a chance that I missed it. We're working on the problem but in the meantime, feel free to send any email to my address, which is working properly (as it should, since it's web-based). Also, I upgraded to the latest version of Firefox and my blog no longer appears in two columns as it did before, but rather one long column. I don't know if anyone else is having this display problem, but we're working on that too :).

Posted by Shelby at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2008

McCain on sex eduation, Part 1

Today John McCain released an ad accusing Obama of promoting sex education for kindergarteners. First, here's the ad:

Here's the facts. McCain is referring to Illinois Senate Health and Human Services Committee S.B. 99. If you'd like to read the text of S.B. 99 itself, as I do, you're out of luck, since this bill passed committee but never became a law*, which certainly casts aspersions on McCain's assertion that this was "Obama's one accomplishment."

But sex education for kindergarteners? If this seems too strange to be true, it's because the truth is that the bill, "would have required age-appropriate information in schools. Obama has said that means warning young children about sexual predators and explaining concepts like 'good touch and bad touch.'" (according to an Associated Press article). The key phrase here would be "age-appropriate." I, for one, am 100% in favor of teaching kindergarteners that their bodies are their own and if someone touches them where their bathing suit covers, they should tell a trusted adult. For McCain to try to equate such a message with "sex education" as if radical liberals were handing out condoms to 5 year olds like candy, talking about the mechanics of intercourse and oral sex, and showing pictures of STD-stricken genitals is disgusting and shameful.

The Obama campaign agrees. Their response:

"It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

The truth about the measure is this:

The measure said schools offering sex education must include medically accurate information appropriate to the age of the students.

But does McCain's ad include this kind-of important piece of information? No, of course not. It just labels the bill "sex education" in an effort to pander to social conservatives so that they'll knee-jerk react, "Oh my gosh! Obama wants to teach my kindergartener about sex!!!" McCain also leaves out another kind-of important piece of information:

[S.B. 99] also would have allowed parents to pull their children from sex education classes if they wished.

So those social conservatives who don't want their children taught about good touch and bad touch? They could have opted out. How is it "wrong for your family" when it specifically allows my family to opt out?

But that doesn't really have the impact of "Learning about sex before learning to read?" (direct quote from the ad).

It's one thing to distort the truth in a political ad. It's another thing to take a piece of legislation designed to protect very young children from sexual abuse and totally twist it into some kind of alarmist argument against sex education. That's really, really low.

Stay tuned for Part 2 because, as usual, I have more to say on the subject in its larger context.

*Edited to add: One of my blog readers found a link to the text of the bill, available here. Thank you Jody!

Posted by Shelby at 08:41 PM | Comments (2)

September 08, 2008

Canada, Eh?

So Kevin and I are back from Canada, eh? We had a lovely vacation (except for the kidney stone, but that's over with so we're not talking about it anymore) to Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler this past week. It was our last big blow out before the baby comes and it was really fun. We mostly took things easy--with my back trouble I'm extremely limited mobility-wise which kind of sucked. On that front, I see the physical therapist tomorrow and hopefully they'll be able to help me. At any rate, it's good to be at home in our own bed again. I love my Snoogle pillow and definitely missed it. We would like to go back to Vancouver and Whistler for the Olympics in 2010 so hopefully we'll be able to make that happen! I sure do love it there.

Posted by Shelby at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)