the minor premise

the minor premise

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

On the status of women

In honor of Mothers' Day, Catholic Relief Services' current newsletter includes a collection of stories on the condition of women in areas serviced by that organization. They are well worth the read:
Link to CWS
Also profiled are a number of women around the world who are working to improve the lives of women and children around them.

On birds & words

D. reported seeing what he thought was a juvenile cardinal at the front yard feeder this morning. (Guess I'll make a naturalist outta that city boy yet!) There's been a pair in residence there since early spring--the male, at least, has been very much in evidence. It's nice to see the young'uns starting out in the big world.

On an etymological note, today a dyed-in-the-wool Carolina Girl friend gave me the best explanation I've heard yet of the difference between voodoo and hoodoo. (Who knew they weren't the same thing?) Voodoo, as we all know, is practiced in New Orleans and frequently employs statuettes of the Virgin Mary. Cahhhnvussly (please imagine your thickest Charlestonese drawl heah) Hoodoo, practiced primarily in the lowcountry of Cahaliinah, eschews Mary but occasionally substitutes statuettes of Jesus in its practice. Theahfoah, Hoodoo is merely Protestant Voodoo.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Painting: Edges taped. Primer: this week, whenever.

Harvest: Bibb lettuce--tender and tasty! Provided our nature observation for the day; namely, that it is possible to subject a small garden slug (subcl. Pulmonata)to moderate refrigeration for two to three days without causing it noticeable distress. Of course, it does need a few minutes' thawing before regaining mobility. Needless to say, wash lettuce with great care.

Knitting: Baby gift temporarily on back burner while sock class in session. Making pale pink variegated w/ pastel trekking socks, either for me or for one of the girls (Likely Baby, if I get too frustrated and decide to end before I get to my size. On the other hand, they'd look so feminine with my hiking shoes!) Working on 5 size 1 dpns, one sock at a time. I need to study up on more efficient technique--I am excruciatingly slow! Friday a friend gave me a really nifty demonstration of knitting socks two at a time on paired circular needles. Fast, efficient, and no second sock syndrome! Have found instructions on the 'net--will have to study this before my next pair! Also found excellent stepwise photo album, with two colors of yarn for better understanding, on the twisted German cast-on (great for sock & mitten cuffs.)

Parish Library: Books shelved in groups by topic. Printed up large assortment of topic labels, color-coded. Have begun labelling phase, one evening/week. Card catalog revamp coming this summer.

Reading: Mother Angelica's Answers, Not Promises.

Culinary: Thawed 2C pumpkin from freezer. Muffins must be baked tomorrow.

What I'll actually be doing: Proctoring standardized test for 3rd grade homeschoolers. Chrono at the ready.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Squirrel Report

Junior Squirrel, unfortunately, did not survive. I was more than a bit concerned about K.'s friend's ability to render proper care, but raising young wildlife is an iffy proposition to begin with so who can say?
I was heartened yesterday to observe a young squirrel, who looked to be of comparable age to Junior, on the trunk of what I think was the nesting tree. Perhaps they weren't all lost!
My neighbors cut down most of their trees and I think as a result we have become a squirrel (and bird) ghetto--our yard is especially busy this year.
No hummers yet, though my nectar feeder is at the ready, but the cardinals, chickadees, wrens, and Carolina sparrows are busy and make frequent feeder visits. I hear woodpeckers in the morning, but haven't gotten a glimpse to ID them. Hairies and/or Downies are common, and we briefly had some red-bellieds in a snag in the neighbors yard two years back (that had to go--it was ready to fall over.)Robins and mourning doves frequent the grassy spots, and our usual contingent of thrashers, towhees, and mockingbirds haunts the shrubbery. Fledglings are beginning to grow bold--a thrasher chick got grounded yesterday and was taken out by Bud--I am going to have to be really careful for the next few months.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Ultimate Catch-22

A medievalists' joke holds that the difference between a "lady" and a "wench" is that "a lady carries a knife." Without spending too much time musing about what that meant for any poor female whose misfortune it was to be born into the "wench" category, let us turn to one of the few holdouts of medievalism remaining today: Iran.

As is, or should be commonly known, in Iran a woman (apply whichever of the above designations you prefer; it matters little) who is raped risks (should anyone find out about it and unless certain highly improbable conditions are met,) execution as an adultress or prostitute. One might consequently be led to assume that a female who energetically and successfully defends her honor against an attacker--especially when those who should have defended her fail to do so--would be applauded. One might assume unequivocally wrong. Under Sharia it seems that if you are born female, you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

The latest benefactor of Iran's model court system is a teenage girl identified as "Nazanin." Her sentence? Hanging for murder. Her "crime?" Beset by a gang of thugs bent on raping her and her 16-year-old cousin, and abandoned by their two male companions, she pulled a knife and fatally stabbed one of her attackers. The full story here:

The sentence was decided in January. I have looked for further updates and have seen nothing to indicate it has been carried out, but if it has not, there isn't much time. Iranian "justice" is swift. A link to petition the UNHRC high commissioner in this case may be found here:

Unfortunately, I doubt there is any more promising recourse available and I have little faith in the current government of Iran's respect for international pressure. Be aware that Nazanin's case is far from unususal in Iran. A number of similar cases are mentioned at the above sources and the roster of questionable capital cases from that country would fill volumes. Moreover, Iran is a signatory to the U.N.'s charter on the rights of the child--which opposes the execution of juveniles-- yet routinely ignores that restriction. When you call for dialogue, realize that these are the people with whom you will have to dialogue.

Amnesty International, after a flood of mail, has finally found time in its busy campaign on behalf of Gitmo detainees to weigh in on a real human rights abuse: It has reminded Iran and the rest of us of its opposition to capital punishment for "juvenile offenders" (Nazanin, now 18, was 17 at the time of the attack.) Never mind that in no civilized or uncivilized country on earth except Iran is clear-cut self-defense ruled an "offense!" Thanks a bunch, Amnesty. Now you know why I've been so slow with that membership check.

Hat tip:iraqi bloggers central

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Allons, enfants de la patrie, les jours de vacances sont arrives!

According to an AP wire (Paris, Apr.8,2006) French jobs law protests may soon fizzle--courtesy not of police crackdowns or government capitulation, but of Spring Break.
Yes, that's right. Spring break starts this weekend in France, and many students--high schoolers in particular--who have already been out of school and on the streets for days, will be off on les vacances avec Maman et Papa.

"...I think the movement is going to lose steam," remarked a 15-year-old student interviewed in the story. "Most people are going on vacation with their parents." The reporter added that his subject was leaving this weekend "for a family holiday in Italy."

Tant pis pour la revolution, je m'en vais a la plage!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The revenue officer's a-comin', gonna tear yore still-house down.

According to yesterday's Augusta Chronicle, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents raided a still run by a 78-year-old south Augusta man Thursday evening. The district attorney remarked that this was his first moonshine bust and described the experience as a "throwback to the '50's and '60's." Called out of retirement to assist the proceedings was former Richmond County Sheriff Charlie Webster, who had 28 years of experience as a state revenue agent prior to his term as sheriff.
The full story can be found at
Moonshine Destroyed

Time marches on here in the South, but it continues to march at a slower pace than elsewhere in the U.S. The police blotter is no exception. We occasionally open the newspaper and read about the breakup of a cockfighting or dogfighting ring, and every so often a would-be perpetrator finds himself facing the swift justice of a personal sidearm. And apparently, a few Uncle Jesses still produce illegal duty-free corn squeezin's in smilax and kudzu-covered sheds off red-dirt backroads.

The title of this post, btw, is from the bluegrass song Darling Corey.


Friday, April 07, 2006

I am speechless

And here I thought I'd heard every story of inhumanity there was. I didn't think there was anything left in mankind's repertoire of depravity and orchestrated brutality that would just leave me cold. Well, I just got an education.

Tonight I was reading Big Pharoah's blog--he's a pro-American, pro-human rights Egyptian blogger--which I do from time to time. While scanning the comments section to his current post (on the subject of Egypt's recent criminalizing of religious defamation)I noticed a link posted by a regular commenter of his, a Coptic Christian who goes by Egypeter. Here it is:

Now Neferteeti's current posting, also on the aforementioned law, was extremely entertaining. But it was going through her earlier posts (mostly within the past year or so) that shocked me to a degree I didn't think possible.

Neferteeti is an Egyptian Coptic Christian. She, thank goodness, does not currently live in Egypt. I say thank goodness because her people are treated horribly by the Muslim majority in Egypt--apparently with government complicity.
She chronicles many examples of this in her posts. She is particularly interested in chronicling instances of kidnapping (and forced conversion) of Coptic girls by Muslims. Local officials frequently turn a blind eye to these cases, if they are not actively abetting the perpetrators. Christian families are frequently without recourse notwithstanding that the girls in question are often minors and under the governance of their parents by Egyptian law. There are apparently hundreds of these incidents a year.

Please, find the time to read this lady's blog. A few years ago the US media put us through a sordid media circus when a Utah teenager was abducted by a religious extremist and held by him for months. Yet in Egypt this this seems to happen on an almost daily basis and we've never heard about it.

As the mother of two daughters, one of whom has been living away from home in college this past year, I am at a loss for words. I can't imagine being a Christian parent of a daughter in Egypt--every little irrational fear I've ever had the unmitigated gall to entertain, every whispered caution multiplied a hundredfold. I would quite literally not be able to let my girls out of my sight if I had to live with this level of fear.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Revenge of the Cartoonists

After weeks of rioting, vandalism, bodily harm, threats, and outright murder, Egyptian cartoonists have finally gotten around to something resembling a proportionate response to the Jyllands-Posten cartoon contest: they've published they're own set of cartoons! In the interest of promoting free speech, I'm linking to them below.
We'd periodically checked out the online Arab press for a few years before this episode and had some familiarity with Middle Eastern cartooning themes; I'd say this selection is pretty typical of the style. What is discouraging to me (aside from the prepubescent "I know you are, but what am I?" attitude displayed by most of them and the relentless antisemitism) is the real lack of recognition that there just might be another side with valid objections to their ideology. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons tended to fall into three thematic categories:
1. Neutral. This includes plain or logo-style illustrations of the Prophet devoid of recognizable political or religious messages.
2. Cartoons deploring Islam &/or the Prophet's violent reputation, some of which were a little rough though no worse than what gets published in most newspapers on an average day.
3. Cartoons on the theme that launched the competition in the first place, namely, that Western members of the media are genuinely afraid of portraying the Prophet or Islam (sometimes even in neutral or positive terms) because of possible reprisals by the mercurial Muslim populace.

You be the judge; what I saw as I skimmed these cartoons was an awful lot of wound-licking and zero introspection. The Middle Eastern press could use a little training in self-loathing from its U. S. and U. K. counterparts: it's about time somebody besides the West mulled the question, "Why don't they like us?"

The Egyptian cartoons are posted on Sandmonkey

The Jyllands-Posten cartoons for anyone who still hasn't seen them or wants a refresher are posted at Zombietime's Jyllands-Posten page in the Mohammed Image Archive

An actual log entry

Definition 5 in the dictionary: "Any record of progress or occurrences, as on a journey, in an experiment, etc." Here goes:

Approx. 5/6 of kitchen eating area painted; 1 coat primer on last section. Completed in drips & drabs over past 2 weeks. I take great pleasure in no longer having to see hideous dusty rose walls. Next, the rest of the kitchen.

Tried priming over striped wallpaper that won't come off in bedroom. Contemplated renting a steamer buit don't want expense plus I'm afraid pieces of wall may come off with. 2 coats actually seems to cover stripes pretty well; may use third for good measure so I don't have to use too dark a paint in there.

Built garden gate from scrap lumber in shed & galv. wire fencing. Only had to buy framing hardware, hinges, 1 fence stake for the latch side of the frame. Stained w/ old deck sealant we had in shed. Not a bad piece of work for a rank amateur with limited tools, if I do say so myself; pretty much completed, except for drying time, over this weekend. Used saber saw, sander, drill (w/bit & Phillips screwdriver attachment,) staple gun, needlenose pliers, and hammer. Expect it will be fully dog-proof once I add a latch. If it holds, I might try uploading a picture when Hon. Daughter #1 comes home for Easter wkend--must remind her to bring camera.

Slow progress on baby gift for the expected C.M., Jr. Working stockinette stitch but debating whether to pull it out and do whole thing in garter. Need to start dealing w/arm openings soon if I continue with current design.

D. literally working 2 jobs during transfer from one office to another. Glad he's doing it but have hardly seen him this wk to include the weekend. Just got home & is making self lunch so will sign off now & go keep company.