Friday, November 28, 2008

Free the YPMB!

The Game (always capitalized) between Yale and hahvud has a long and storied history, albeit most of the stories involve alcohol. Shortly after this past Saturday's Game, the YPMB alum network lit up with a rapid fire of emails. Tom Duffy, the director of Bands at Yale, had suspended the YPMB (Yale Precision Marching Band). The reason given was that one of the props used in the Yale halftime show at The Game, a replica of the Berlin wall, had numerous obscenities painted on it, notably "fuck harvard."

OK, it's rude. It's juvenile. But it's also something that Mr. Duffy should have checked prior to the actual show! If he had seen the prop and said "paint over the swear words," then he would have had a reason to punish the Band members, at least those who made the props, when they appeared in the show. However, punishing the entire Band for the work of a few is wrong, particularly when no warning was given. Also, by suspending the winter season, the actual people who made the props are not the ones being punished! The Band does not use props at the basketball and hockey games that Mr. Duffy is cancelling. Not one of the people being punished is responsible for the problem.

The other point I want to make about this is that I only know about this problem because Mr. Duffy got so upset. I'm in frikin' Istanbul! As far as I can tell from talking to friends who were there and from reading the YDN and New Haven Register articles, no one in the stands saw the obscene words. The only person complaining is Mr. Duffy himself; the first that any of us heard about this was in his own email. And what he's complaining about is language that can be seen on t-shirts throughout the stadium itself. This story apparently made the front page of the New Haven Register (as one person commented, it must have been a slow news day).

I care about this because I am a YPMB alum. I love the Band; it was a fantastic part of my Yale experience, and I am still friends with many of my fellow Bandies. Tom Duffy, please let it go.

For something that will cheer you up after this, please see:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prop 8 -Everybody Settle Down!

Hi folks,

Like most progressives, I am disappointed that Prop 8 passed in California on Tuesday, banning gay marriage. I have been a supporter of full civil rights for the LGBT community for years, primarily through Lambda Legal, and this is a discouraging setback. However, I am further disheartened to see all of the HATE in the blogs, facebook sites, and rallies, particularly toward the Mormons.

Yes, you have valid feelings. Yes, you have the right to express them. However, these nasty attacks to NOT help the cause! Look at the successful civil rights movements in history. Obama is president-elect today because Martin Luther King was NOT hateful and violent! His inspiring example shamed white Americans into acting in accord with the best aspects of their characters and up to their high ideals. Ghandi did the same in India; the British public could not stomach being on the morally wrong side of the conflict. I believe that a separate Palestinian state would have come into being decades ago if Hamas had used non-violent measures.

Focus on the positive; don't frighten those who oppose you; it will only harden their opinions against you and scare others into joinig them. Use cold, hard legal action to deal with those who try to hurt you; if the LDS church has been acting as a political entity, take them to court and have their non-profit status revoked. Use advertising to sway opinions, and let every public action taken in the name of this cause reflect the best of our ideals.

The cause of gay marriage is the same as interracial marriage four decades ago, when that was illegal in half the states in the US. Basically, it comes down to this; who is the better judge of who can and cannot marry; the individual or the government? While there will be setbacks along the way, take comfort in the fact that this cause will eventually succeed, and future generations will look at the current situation with the same indignant sense of "why was that allowed?" that we share for the "back of the bus" days of segregation. Time is on our side; the younger generations of Americans are far more accepting of GLBT rights than their parents and grandparents, and more and more of them are voting every year. President Obama may have the opportunity to appoint up to three new Supreme Court justices in his first term alone, and the Democratic Congress will almost certainly approve his choices, who will likely be left-of-center, brillant, and extremely well-qualified.

So, take a deep breath, and let's behave intelligently, responsibly, and persuasively. It will all work out OK in the end.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thinking about politics again

I think the reason that a significant portion of Americans still believe Sarah Palin is qualified to be president if something happens to McCain is simply that they do not realize the depth of her ignorance. That is because they share it.

If you personally cannot name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade, then you do not realize that it is a big deal that she cannot, either.

If you do not know the name of a single foreign leader (many Americans can't name a single one), then you do not realize that the president needs to know them, as well as the structure of their governments, the timing and methods of their transfers of power (e.g., elections or successions), the names of the leading opposition figures, and their lead diplomats such as foreign ministers and ambassadors.

If you do not know the difference between Sunni and Shia, Hamas and Hesbollah, or even the difference between Muslim and Arab, then you do not even know the basic information that is required to understand our foreign policy in the Middle East, let alone create it.

If you do not understand how a short position works in a stock trade, or that sub-prime mortgages were bundled and re-sold as stock-like securities, then you are unable to understand the basics the current financial crisis, let alone find a solution.

If you think that we can pay for two wars, a huge financial emergency package or two, buy up billions of dollars of bad mortgages, pay for medicaid for the growing number of poor American families, as well as cover social security and medicare for the aging Boomer population WITHOUT RAISING TAXES, then you don't even understand basic math. That's just addition and subtraction; you don't even need to think about multiplication or fractions to understand!

Furthermore, if you think that increasing our national debt is an acceptable way to avoid that tax increase,then you don't understand that, in a very short time, PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WILL STOP BUYING DOLLARS, because the dollar will not seem a safe and reliable currency. We've been spending more than we've been taking in in taxes for nearly a decade now, and the difference is made up by selling Treasury Bills, which are LOANS to the US government. If people think that the currency will be worth less in a few years, they will stop buying them, because they want thewir investment to be worth more. They will invest in the Euro or the British Pound or just hold on to a lot of gold. My fellow Americans, we currently owe more than 10 trillion dollars! That's:


That's more than $33,000.00 for each citizen! The portion of the debt for my family of five (myself, my husband, and our three children) is more than $160,000.00.


Anyway, I started this post with the idea of sharing a funny video clip, but now I just feel like punching a few elected representatives.

Here it is anyway. Enjoy it, if you still can:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Political Stuff

My sister sent me this one; enjoy!

...let's see if I have this right:

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Willow, Trig, and Track, you're a maverick.
* Graduate from Harvard law School, you are unstable.
* Attend 6 different small colleges before graduating as a journalism major, you're well grounded.
* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 2 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a model Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Check out a video on YouTube

Have I seen it?


Do I know what it is about?


Why not?

Because the Turkish government blocks YouTube.

However, a YPMB alum made this video, so I'm sure it's worth watching. I'll check it out the next time I'm in the US. In the meantime, I hope you like it.


Monday, September 1, 2008

American Politics - What the Hell?

I do not understand the Republican party. Are they intentionally trying to destroy the United States, or is that just an accidental by-product?

Exhibit A: George W. Bush. He has been a disaster in both his foreign and domestic policies. America has been seriously harmed by his unnecessary war in Iraq. The federal deficit has damaged our financial strength and has undermined the dollar as a strong international currency. His administration has badly mismanaged several domestic crises, most notably the reaction to Hurricaine Katrina. I am very sure that he will be remembered as one of the worst presidents in American history.

Exhibit B: John McCain. He used to be a person I could respect, even if I disagreed with many of his political positions. I used to feel that he was a decent, practical man who spoke his mind and did what he thought was the right thing. His presidential campaign, however, has soured me on him. He is pandering to get votes, and his politics will hurt America.

My Take on the G.O.P.: Overall, the Republican party has two sides. One side is the pro-business, small government side (a.k.a., rich white people); the other side is the religious right (a.k.a., poorer white people). It is my strong belief that the religious people are being manipulated into voting against their best interests. The "Nascar Dads," the southern, blue-collar people who vote so solidly Republican, are not being helped by their Republican officials; they are being used by them, then forgotten until the next election. Take the abortion debate and the gay marriage debate. The conservative positions on these subjects are litmus tests for the religious voters; they will only vote for like-minded politicians. However, THE PRESIDENT CANNOT CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION! The Republicans get the religious conservatives to vote for them based on these "values issues," but the president has no power to do anything directly about these issues (although he can appoint judges, which gives him an indirect influence).

I was inspired to write this politically-themed post today by the revelation that the Republican V.P. nominee, Sarah Palin, has an unmarried, 17-year-old daughter who is 5 months pregnant. What the hell? This woman cannot keep her own daughter from making a mess of her life, what would she do to the country? Palin is AGAINST teaching sex ed in the schools; I cannot help but think that her daughter would have been better off if SOMEONE had explained the basics of reproduction to her! Palin also is in favor of teaching Christian creation myths in SCIENCE CLASSES! (At least the executive branch cannot directly change the national school curriculum; it's a small comfort). Palin has no background in political science or law. She has been a small-town mayor and a governor for less than a single term. She is NOT prepared nor qualified to be the most powerful person on the planet. McCain is too old and has had too many health problems; we must assume that the chances that his Vice President would become President are higher than average. McCain's choice is ridiculous; he went with a "pretty girl" with right-wing values, not a qualified, competent person (of either gender). He is treating her like window-dressing for the campaign. Palin is as ideologically as divisive as Hillary Clinton, but without Clinton's intelligence, experience, or overall competence. Clinton would have been an extremely capable person for the job, but I did not support her campaign, as she is a divisive political force. Palin brings the divisiveness, but lacks the competence. She was not a good pick, and she reflects poorly on McCain's judgement.

By choosing Palin, McCain makes a hypocrite of himself whenever he criticizes Obama's lack of experience. He insults the women of America by assuming that we will vote for any ticket with a female candidate on it, even if she is ideologically unpalatible and dangerously inexperienced. America can do better. Will we? Or will 51% allow themselves to be manipulated into another four years of bad government?

Reader, you don't have to agree with me politically, but, please, do the basic research to find out what each candidate stands for. Don't let soundbites and photo ops decide for you. Pick the best person for the job! I am more convinced than ever that the right person is NOT McCain.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Jewel of Medina

Whenever someone bans a book, I find I am just that much more interested in reading it. What are they afraid of? I want to know.

I sincerely hope that another publisher will release this book. I'm tempted to contact the author and request a copy of the manuscript; I'll pay her for it! Sherry Jones could make a lot of money with a simple self-publish online; she has the publicity to make that work.

Link of the day: my grandfather's blog. He entered hospice care this week, and he has some ideas that he wants to share with the world. Please check it out, and let him know what you think at:


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wicked Funny

Long time no post!

Yes, I've been taking care of my kids solo for two weeks, so I didn't have much time to be online. However, I am now back, and I have a very, very funny clip for you. Check it out here:


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Yesterday we went to Yoros Castle and Sile (that should be spelled with a Turkish "shay," but they don't print in this system). Sile is a little seaside town only a hour away from Istanbul. Its like a Turkish version of the Jersey shore; it's a working seaport with middle-class amenities, but it's pretty and we enjoyed the visit. That oe-hour drive seems to be a good road-trip distance with three little kids. Does anyone have other suggestions for places that kids would like within an hour or two of Istanbul?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Back Online

Hi folks,

I am writing this blog again. Why? Who knows, but at least my writer's block on the new novel is over (insallah). I had an incredibly vivid dream a few nights ago that was completely unrelated to my book. However, I found that the characters in the dream were similar to the ones in my book. The book characters were standing around next to some snowmobiles, and I needed them to say something to pass the time. So, the random dream became a story that one character told the others, and the dream characters became a metaphor for the novel characters. It actually works well in the book, and it got me out of a sinkhole of writing entropy. The plot is moving again and I am excited to be writing it. Woohoo!

OK, enough about me; here is the fun link of the day:

It's a short film called "The Nose," and it was an instant films project a few months ago. If you don't know about instant films, they are short projects that are written, shot, and edited over a weekend. It's a competition: first, the writers get the topics and guidelines on Friday night; they write the script in a few hours, then give it to the directors, who shoot it Saturday. It is then edited, and the first screening is on Sunday night. The winners get camera equipment and other moviemaking stuff, and everyone involved gets new stuff for their resumes. Some of the work is really good! Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Don't feel like writing

I think my brain's power supply is faulty; nothing seems to be registering today. Anyway, for my three nonexistent readers, here is a fun site:


Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Why do I bother? No one responded to my last post. I feel like I'm flinging message-filled bottles into a vast ocean, hoping for some human contact, but instead drowning in solitude (cue mournful violin music, or sarcastic guy pretending to play a violin to mock me cruelly).

I console myself with the fact that, when I am famous, people will dig up these old, archived posts and read them then. Ha! I will be vindicated! I hope this fun link-of-the-day still works in the future:

Madlibs! 'Nuff said.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It amazes me that the President of the United States can have such a huge impact on the rest of the world, and yet, less than 5% of the world's population can vote for him or her*. As I am in that less than 5%, I will be doing my civic duty and voting by absentee ballot this fall. It's a real pain to get all of the paperwork and all, but my chances of being called for jury duty from Istanbul are pretty low.

* 300 million people out of the world's 6.2 billion are Americans, and those under 18 can't vote, so it' significantly less than 5%.

I am a lifelong Democrat. Even if I have not always been so, the past seven years would have turned me into one. Ugh. It still surprises me that there are Americans who think that George W. Bush is a good president. However, most of them are the same people who "think that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church," to paraphrase Tina Fey. And something tells me that they will not be reading my blog.

Actually, I wonder if ANYONE is reading my blog. If you are, please post a response today. Just a "hi!" will do; you can even post it anonymously. Thanks!

So, here's your link-of-the-day:

All sorts of weird gifts; just in time for Father's Day! A few years back, I ordered a robotic hamster wearing a cute Godzilla costume; it also played the song "Godzilla" when you squeezed its paw. What an amazing and completely pointless piece of machinery.

They also have a bacon-scented air-freshener. Really. And a poseable Sigmund Freud action figure. Even if you don't buy anything, it's a fun site. Only in America would you find all of these bizarre things that are made in China. Enjoy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Are you trying to publish something, too?

If you are, there's a great blog here at

Nathan runs contests and gives advice and info about publishing. He's fun to read and seems like a good guy. He also will consider your query and is very prompt at sending his rejection email back to you. I've been trying to develop a thicker skin to deal with all of these rejections. Apparently, a ton of publishers passed on the first Harry Potter. At least, that's what my husband says; I'm not sure that I believe him, unless the slush pile readers were evangelical Christians who saw the wizard theme as satanic.

But I digress.

My brother, who is a screenwriter, recommends becoming two people; one who writes the manuscript, and the other who sends out the queries. The second person can then choose not to tell the first when the rejection letters come flooding in. It's actually a pretty good idea; I've put myself into "marketing mode," rather than "writing mode." I now have a new job; my new job is to sell this book. I also have a written promotional plan, in anticipation of the next phase.

So, today is a two-fer. I gave you Nathan's link above, and here is your second fun-thing-for-the-day:

This is a series of mini-episodes that is absolutely hilarious, especially if you (like me) are recovering from a conservative, religious upbringing and have a deep-seated distrust of religious dogma. You can also find these as iTunes podcasts and on YouTube (at least in countries that don't censor the internet). Enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My new favorite publisher

Woohoo! I got a request for my complete manuscript yesterday. Milkweed Editions is now going to consider it. It has been tough trying to sell Bagastana; the first few chapters are not really indicative of the rest of the book, much like the Kansas scenes in Wizard of Oz are not much like Oz. In any case, they are going to read the whole thing. I'm so relieved!

So, here's your cool-thing-of-a-day:

You can find this and a lot of other webcomics of "romance, sarcasm, math, and language" at: Try the "random" feature; I think you'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

For Sale-Manuscript

Yes, I am trying to publish my manuscript, a young adult/fantasy novel called Bagastana. It's in great condition; its previous owner was a little old lady who only used it to read to church on Sundays.

Seriously, it's a great story. Twelve-year-old twins, Mina and Darwin, find a box with their names on it among their adopted mother's things. When they open it, they find a pendant, and, when they hold it, they enter another world, a world full of magical creatures. There are communist ants, evangelizing fish, and redneck eagles who are waging a war on tree-orists. The twins need to find their way to a portal back to their own world, but the only one is guarded by the Maker, who will destroy them if he discovers who they really are...

So, now that I've plugged my book, let me give you the cool site link-of-the-day:

The art of the Bonsai Kitten. SPCA members, relax; it's not real, OK?

Happy Randomness

Hello to the three potential readers of this post.

Why are you reading this? You probably don't know me (it would be weird if you did though; where did you go to high school?), but I want to use my English more, and when I write my Jersey accent doesn't show.

So, it's beautiful today in Istanbul,
where I live with my husband and the my three little kids (all under age three). No, I'm not a fundamentalist anything, and yes, I know how birth control works. Now.

The kids are destroying their room while I write this, but they aren't hitting, biting, or falling off anything, so I figure the damage is fixable.

Since you've read this far, I figure I should reward you. Here is your random fun site for the day:

The uncyclopedia is like wikipedia, only blatantly wrong and funny. Enjoy!

If you have a funny site you want to share, please post to this thread. I'm going to try to give an entertaining website or cool photo or something in every post, so please feel free to blatantly promote your own site, if you think that it is something people would enjoy.

I don't want to see your angst-filled student film on YouTube, though. Not only do we all have enough angst in our lives without dealing with some 20-year-old's melodramatic thoughts about death, but I live in Turkey, and currently YouTube is blocked for the whole country. Before moving here, I had no idea that a website could be blocked for a nation like that. This is the third time this has happened since we moved here last year; some jerk posted a clip about Ataturk or Cyprus or the Kurds that was offensive to the government, and now I can't watch "Cute with Chris." What happened in Toronto? Will I ever know? When?

See what I mean about the angst?