Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Sunday, 2020.07.12
Being ugly isn't illegal. Yet.


Unbearable Cuteness

God’s Holy Trousers! Not again!

Allahpundit at Hot Air reports: Lethally adorable baby polar bear marked for death

By, um, animal rights activists. The zookeepers are domesticating him, which means he might have trouble interacting with other polar bears later, which naturally means it’s better that he die.

I’m not unsympathetic to their position. Cuteness at moderate levels is productive and useful, but cuteness this highly enriched could cause mass shock, seizures, and uncontrollable cooing. If it were ever to fall into the wrong hands…

Let’s just pray that day never comes.

I lived through the massive cuteness release here in Denver when the twin polar bear cubs, Klondike and Snow, were unleashed upon the world. It’s been 12 years and the effects can still be seen and felt – people smiling with fond memories, brisk souvenir sales of bear cub stuffed toys, bumper stickers.

I toughed it out, like any resident to their hometown would. You hunker down and endure. But like so many others, I felt compelled, obligated even, to visit ground 0 X 2. So I did and was overwhelmed. I’m not ashamed to admit I smiled at their playfulness, their delightful curiosity, their innocence.

Alas, the animal rights activists have a solution different from that found for Klondike and Snow.


[Edit History]


But wait! Knut lives! Reckless, it is, for those zookeepers to be handling such a critter without cute tongs and anti-cuddle suits. Mark my words, they’ll regret it.


Run for the shelters, folks! Run! (H/T Allahpundit)


Blog Haiku #17

Taunting sock puppets.
Fulfilling vilification.
Did you not see the frog?


Blog Haiku #16

Raging news feeds.
Stepping in,
I still know nothing.


Blog Haiku #15

Tracks in the log file.
Left by machines
Driven by minds.


Marcotte, McEwan, Darwin And The Blogosphere

Since the Marcotte-McEwan-Edwards ménage à trois, there has been a lot of comment from both the left and the right in favor of Edwards retaining his two miscreant bloggers. The argument generally went along the lines of how firing them would make it difficult for bloggers in the future to find similar work. Somehow, the entire pool of bloggers would be discredited. There is merit to the argument. But I believe it takes the short view.

To be sure, placing such inept writers in such a prominent position has splashed a measure of slime on all bloggers. But taking the long view, I believe the disgraced departure of Marcotte and McEwan from the Edwards campaign will be a good thing. Blogging is a relatively young medium for expression and has yet to be exposed to the kind of fire which can temper it into a quality medium of expression. The flames fed by the manure cakes packed by the likes of Marcotte and McEwan can help the rest of us forge blogs of substance. The offensive wet noodles with which Marcotte and McEwan charge into battle serve to accentuate the power inherent in well crafted and persuasive argument. The wreckage they leave is our call to craft such arguments which hold an edge in battle.

Marcotte and McEwan swam in relatively small and protected pools. By jumping into the much larger pool of a presidential campaign, they exposed themselves to an entirely different set of rules, a different set of dangers and fish much bigger and hungrier then they are. In short, they became subject to the Darwinian rules of survival applied to a political context.

Humorously, they attempted to adapt, to change their stripes, by offering non-apology apologies and changing the character of their usual writing style. They made a pathetic attempt to become hyenas in lamb’s clothing. Fortunately, they failed.

Marcotte, McEwan and, particularly, Edwards, have made it more difficult for bloggers to establish credibility. But I believe that is a good thing. They have helped set the stage for the fittest bloggers to survive, and even thrive, while the bottom feeding bloggers will be forced to recede further into the blogosphere muck.


Amanda Marcotte: Near-Earth Object From Deep Left Space


Amanda Marcotte: Near-Earth Object From Deep Left Space

A lot has been said about presidential candidate John Edwards’ selection of Amanda Marcotte as his campaign blogmaster. As contentious and divisive as her “writing” is, I’m surprised she hasn’t been dropped by now like a wad of cash from Jack Abramoff. Alas, Captain Marcotte is still at the helm of Spaceship Edwards. Edwards’ sluggish response is a clear indication he is short on change. So here’s my 2¢…

Ms. Marcotte’s writing is bad. So bad, it’s worse than mine. Nice to know I’m no longer at the absolute bottom of the heap. I read 4 or 5 things she wrote and stopped after suffering through a piece she wrote for the Earth Island Journal in June, 2006: “You want guys with that?

The article begins with a laborious recitation of a storyline for some fast food commercial (I don’t watch TV and haven’t seen the commercial, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of her plot summary.) She then springs to:

What I find interesting about this is that the consumption of meat as a way of homosocial bonding through the disdain of women fits really neatly into other media portrayals of how men are supposed to bond – generally by a shared loathing and/or objectification of women.

Kierkegaard would be amused to see such a divine leap in a secular context. Relax, kid. It’s a commercial. Perhaps it would be helpful for Ms. Marcotte to reacquaint herself with the concept of “shallow.” But perhaps that’s a bit like explaining water to a fish. She continues…

It’s a nasty trick to play on men, trying to persuade them that the path to manhood requires consuming great quantities of artery-clogging beef, especially since men are more prone to heart disease than women in the first place.

Yes, save us easily duped guys from our own choices. Rescue us from those tricksy Madison Avenue evil doers. Ah, but there are those pesky facts in the way of her arguement.

Both men and women have heart attacks, but more women who have heart attacks die from them.The National Women’s Health Information Center

This is only half the story. Consider:

Women are 16 per cent more likely to die within 30 days of a heart attack than men, after accounting for age and other health issues. Their risk of dying after a stroke is 11 per cent higher than the risk for males.

For reasons that are not clear, Dr. [Beth] Abramson says men in every age group are more likely than women to be sent to a cardiologist after a heart attack, which raises their chance of survival by almost 50 per cent. They are also more likely to be transferred to a larger hospital and receive bypass and angioplasty treatments.

If Ms. Marcotte were interested in addressing an issue of gender bias of substance, she would be working, for example, to change the complex issues involved with how our medical professionals are trained and the outdated “traditional” attitudes prevalent in the medical industry. Such attitudes are receding, but a glacial speeds. They require a dedicated, persistent and sustained effort to change. Attacking transient 30 second commercials is easier and well suited to equally transient rants which amount to little more than spitting on the problem. Changing deep seated memes require strategy and tact – attributes I find entirely lacking in Ms. Marcotte’s writing. By extension, the same attributes are lacking from Edwards’ presidential campaign blog presence.

Back to the “commercial as science” analysis:

It’s also a terrible message about the qualities of American men, who are portrayed as stupid, destructive, greedy, and childish. If I were a man, I’d be deeply insulted. My gut feeling is that there are plenty of men who are insulted.

Hmmmmm. I’ve been slapped and praised in the same article. How persuasively polar. If you were a man? Why, I’m deeply offended that Ms. Marcotte, a woman, would presuppose to know the mind of a man. Shocked, I am. Shocked and hurt!

Ack. Ms. Marcotte’s guts are wrong. Try reading tea leaves instead. There are plenty of men who were amused. The humor pitch, something that also appeals to guys, was completely left out of Ms. Marcotte’s analysis. We like to laugh, even at ourselves. Studies suggest taking one’s self so seriously also leads to problems of the heart.

What spatters the rest of Ms. Marcotte’s article is an unconnected litany of perceived global and social problems caused by “fast food companies” – disdain of women, environmental consequences of having cows on the planet, polluted rivers and streams, depletion of the rain forests, depletion of grain resources, soil erosion and, of course, greenhouse gas emissions (gotta get the global warming in there somewhere.) This scaffolding magically collapses to her conclusion:

This commercial demonstrates [the fast food companies] are willing to resort to childish taunts about how to be a man in order to do it. So what men watching this commercial are left with is not just the message that they have to oppose women to be Real Men, but also the implication that Real Men destroy the environment.

Which leads me to conclude that Ms. Marcotte really isn’t walking on the same planet as I am. I’m not so sure she would recognize a Real Man if he opened a door for her in front of her face.

Michelle Malkin has the clearest warning for John Edwards: “Lesson for Democrat politicians: If you lay down with nutroots, it will be hard to get back up.”

How long before Edwards wakes up and sees who is in his bed? The clock is ticking…

[Edit History]


11:15 – Signs that Edwards may be stirring from his slumbers: “Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.” The second blogger, one Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister, under scrutiny for expressing anti-Catholic opinions.

14:50 – “John Edwards has fired the two controversial bloggers he recently hired to do liberal blogger outreach, Salon has learned.” Those would be Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan.


06:45 – Bryan at Hot Air shines the light nicely: “IMPORTANT ACTION ALERT: Stop taking yourselves so seriously” It echoes what I wrote above about Ms. Marcotte taking herself so seriously.

There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them. – Heisenberg

The kind of behavior described by Bryan is more prevalent among the left than the right and such behavior does more to explain why I am not a liberal than why I am a conservative/libertarian.

And it appears the firing of Marcotte and McEwan isn’t a done deal as yet. Seems Edwards has hit the snooze button. (Was tempted to type that as “schmooze” button.)

11:15 – Looks like it was the schmooze button after all: “Edwards Stands By His Bloggers


Fixed several minor grammatical errors.


The Hands of God…

…and the power of a sacrificial embrace borne from love. Nothing short of stunning.

The closer a counterfeit comes to the genuine article, the more obvious the deceit. As the murderer dressed in women’s clothes walked purposefully toward his target, there was a village man ahead. But under the guise of a simple villager was a true Martyr, and he, too, had his target in sight. The Martyr had seen through the disguise, but he had no gun. No bomb. No rocket. No stone. No time.

The Martyr walked up to the murderer and lunged into a bear hug, on the spot where we were now standing.

The blast ripped the Martyr to pieces which fell along with pieces of the enemy. Ball-bearings shot through the alley and wounded two children, but the people in the mosque were saved. The man lay in pieces on the ground, his own children having seen how his last embrace saved the people of the village.

I am continually impressed by Michael Yon’s work. He is what the MSM can only dream of becoming. And I continue to support his work. Will you?



Michael Yon Still Fighting HFM, et al.

[Edit History]


A similar story. (H/T Bruce Schneier)


Blog Haiku #14

This here is
Your here.
And still not the same.


Blog Haiku #13

This unseen cloud
That blocks your view
Does not exist.


Blog Haiku #12

Without a pen
the keyboard
scribbles upon the blogosphere.


The Helping Hand

Normally, when eating an orange, I like to carefully peel the skin away and enjoy each perfectly portioned slice. Such was the goal when I sat down this evening to cruise a few favorite blogs and catch up on what’s been happening. What I happened to be reading as I started peeling the orange caused one of those nanosecond wince-flinches that resulted in the orange being torn near in half.


It brought forward some painful memories. I was reading one of Cathy Seipp’s posts in which she mentions a few of the ways people have endeavored to “help” her, but which have caused her to bite her tongue.

Since several years before Janet’s death, I’ve been taking notes on how a person might be helpful to someone fighting a life threating disease or injury. This will eventually be part of the book I’m writing to compliment Janet’s book. I do believe everyone means well, but for a variety of reasons, how they express their desire to help often ends up being…well, not very helpful. I made note of some to the goofy things people did in the name of “helping” as well as those things which others did that were exquisitely, even elegantly helpful. Inspired by Cathy’s post, I’d like to share a few of those notes here.

What you offer to do should save the person you are helping their most precious commodity: time. Time to spend how they see fit – alone, with family, friends – not necessarily you. If you are genuinely helpful, it will be appreciated if not always acknowledged, particularly if the one you are helping is in pain.

Think before you do. Is your help really helping? It may make you feel good to spontaneously empty the dishwasher. But when the person you were trying to help has to spend the equivalent amount of time looking for the potato peeler you stashed in a seemly logical place on the other side of the kitchen from where it normally lives, you have not helped. Worse, you have cost them valuable time and left them aggravated.

This leads to the notion of helping in a consistent manner. If the person takes the time to show you where things belong when unloading the dishwasher, then be the dishwasher helper person. Own that chore and do it consistently. The more you can be transparent in your help, the more helpful you actually are. Trust me, this will be noticed and greatly appreciated.

Do some of the unpleasant chores, like empty the trash or clean a bathroom. When ever Janet was feeling particularly bad, there was no want for people willing to rub her feet, massage her hands, read her stories and such – all things I wanted to do because they were enjoyable, things we did normally together and, most importantly, time spent with Janet. Not once did anyone ever pick up a clue and offer to pick up the dog shit in the backyard. No special skills needed for that one. There were a couple of offers to weed Janet’s rose garden. One actually followed through, the other bailed when Janet died before the promised weeding date. Er, that was helpful.

Cooking is a risky way to help someone who is ill. If you are unfamiliar with the ill person’s dietary needs, it’s almost guaranteed to be a miss. (H/T to friends Angie and Bruce who pulled this one off with perfection. But then again, they are each skilled in the ways of paying attention to the details.) If you must, bring canned or otherwise non-perishable food (i.e. it can be kept in a box in the basement for 5 years.) And make sure what you bring is high quality. It may be fancy for your tastes, but show you care enough to see they are eating good when they feel like eating. That 5 pound can of Ol’ Slim’s Genuine Campfire Stew from Costco says “doorstop” and not “I care.” Go ahead and visit that high floutin’ organic food store and buy some quality soups.

Offer to help only in ways you can complete. Leaving a chore half done is most often worse than having never started it. This also implies offering to help only with things for which you are qualified. If you think the Internet is made of tubes, keep your hands off anything electronic. If your experience with cooking doesn’t go much beyond vending machines and a can opener, stay out of the kitchen. And even if you are qualified to practice medicine, perform an aura balancing, read tea leaves, preach the gospel or exercise The Devil, keep your yap shut unless the person you wish to help specifically asks for your help in this regard. It’s near certain you will upset them on some level, even though they may be polite to your face.

If they do ask for help, be attentive to when they have had enough of what you are offering. Tune your senses to recognize when they are tired or increasingly uncomfortable. Then look for other ways to help that get you out of the way. Running errands is a good way to help. You are saving the person time and energy while staying out of their way.

That’s about it for now. Rule of Thumb: If how you are contemplating helping has you feeling a nagging sense of uncomfortable doubt, it’s best to reconsider and cast around for another, simpler way to help. “Thinking of you” cards with a personal note are a good thing.

So this post is for you, Cathy Siepp. Thinking of you and hope this helps.


Blog Haiku #11

Silent blogosphere.
A blogger posts.
Sound of nothing.


Blog Haiku #10

The light of 68 candles
Warms the room.
But not the heart.


Blog Haiku #9

The News
That is not News
Is the News


Blog Haiku #8

Piercing, sharp snow
Rides a biting wind.
Reflected in a cloudy post.

All content copyright © 1994 - Gregory Paul Engel, All Rights Reserved. The content or any portion thereof from this web site may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written consent of Gregory Paul Engel. Queries may be sent to greg dot engel at javazen dot com.

No posts for this category or search criteria.