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Archive for April, 2009

April 30th, 2009

The International Putting Food That Simply Doesn’t Belong In A Can In A Can Race Proceeds Apace…

Germany seriously challenged America’s dominance in the Preserved Food You Can’t Imagine Ever Taking Off The Shelf Even In Your Most Desperate Moments category with their mighty Cheeseburger In A Can…


Well I’m here to tell you we Americans, the people who gave the world SPAM, Individually Wrapped Slices Of Fake Cheese, Fake Potato Chips In A Can (we call them Pringles on this side of the pond) and Cheese Puffs, the snack food you can put in your will, just couldn’t stand idly by and let some other country desecrate the joy of eating better then we can.  Well I’m happy to say that good old fashioned American Know-How has risen to the challenge with (drumroll…)…

Chicken In A Can!


Just the thing for that swine flu shelter you’re going to be building this weekend…

Top thAT Deutschen…


by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Don’t Panic. Just…Er…Be Very, Very Worried…

Jonathan Golob over at SLOG has some good bullet points about the emerging Swine Flu epidemic.  I’ll try to paraphrase:

Q: But thousands of people die every year from the flu.  Why is this one any different?

A: It’s killing younger healthier people is why.  This is not your normal seasonal flu that brings down older, or already very ill people.

Q: So we’re all going to die?

A: Not unless the Plague comes out from retirement too.  Even the horrible Spanish Flu of the early 1900s only killed 2 percent of the people it infected.  But considering how infectious flu is, 2 percent if this thing really takes off is still going to be a huge number of fatalities.  Just like it was back then.

Q: So why close the schools if we’re not all going to die?

A: (I love Jonathan’s answer here so I’m going to steal it verbatim) Because kids are second only to mosquitoes as vectors for disease transmission. 

It’s not just that we love the little dears, although we do, and want to keep them out of harms way.  It just seems to be hard to get it into their little heads that they shouldn’t wipe their little runny noses with their little fingers and then pick up a toy or open a door or share a cookie…

Q: What should we do?

A: Everything you usually do to avoid catching the flu, only more of it.  Wash hands often.  Especially after coming inside, and extra especially before touching your face and eyes.  Avoid confined enclosed spaces with other people, or keep at least three feet away.  Surgical masks won’t protect you from it.  Gloves won’t do any better if you forget and rub your eyes when you have them on.  Good hygiene is the best defense. 

It’s unlikely to happen, but keep enough food and stuff at home that you can sit it out for a few days should that ever become necessary.  This is good advice in any case.  Natural disasters, power grid failures, the unexpected localized calamity, can make being outdoors, driving anywhere or getting food a problem.  Just ask the folks in Tornado Ally, any earthquake zone, or anywhere an ice storm has massively brought down power lines.  You don’t have to go all urban survivalist…just be sensibly prepared. Like this little guy…

Right now we are advising all our clients to put everything
they’ve got into canned food and shotguns…

Don’t panic.  Just stay aware and informed.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Don’t Panic. Just…Er…Be Very, Very Worried…

Why We Fight…(continued)

Via Sullivan, relating a reader’s comment on John Derbyshire’s try at making a secular case for denying same-sex couples the right to marry…

Gay man says he was forced out of partner’s room at OHSU

The domestic partner of a man who appeared to be near death was reportedly ordered to leave the room when it was time to make some major decisions about the patient.

This all started with a hospital visit. The patient, who only wanted to go by his first name of Christopher, was having trouble breathing. So his partner, Patrick took him to OHSU.

As Christopher was laying close to death, Patrick was told he had to leave the room and couldn’t believe what the nurse was telling him.

"The nurse said, ‘Christopher is very ill. There are some life and death decisions that have to be made and now is not the time for friends to be in the room.’ I’m like, ‘we don’t have any friends in the room,’" recalled Patrick.

Under Oregon law, Patrick had the right to stay in the room because the pair had been legal domestic partners for nine months. Patrick found a lawyer who made a call to the hospital and after two and a half hours, he was allowed back inside. 

This commenter on Derbyshire’s post sums it up pretty well…

This is from a week ago. A woman in Florida, carrying documents, was kept out of the room while her partner of 18 years died. While their children stood by, no less. Why do people continually bury their heads in the sands about these things? “Oh, I can’t believe that people are so cruel!” It happens. We know it happens. We have documentation that it does. You know what stops it? The universally-understood bond of marriage.

The other major flaw with your argument is you never explain why extending marriage rights to gay couples will “mess” (with), “redefine” “overturn” or “overhaul” marriage. You simply assume your argument throughout.

When marriage changed from a property arrangement between a father a prospective husband, when women were changed from essentially chattel to equal partners, when marriage was changed from multiple wives to one – all of these did far more to change marriage then changing the gender of the two people involved in today’s civil marriage laws.

Last – "people who want to marry their ponies, their sisters, or their soccer team?" I thought equating homosexuality with bestiality and incest was limited to the religiously motivated. Disgusting. As for polygamy – marriage used to be that way in many cultures. Perhaps you had better ask historians why we changed away from it rather than ask the gays why they should have to preemptively defend against something for which they’re not asking.

Emphasis mine.  A case against same-sex marriage is not made by making a case against something else.  That said, you have to believe as Orson Scott Card does, that the bond between a same-sex couple simply does not exist…or that ripping it asunder is no crime against their humanity.

Why do people continually bury their heads in the sand?  They’re not.  Not at this stage of it.  The one’s doing that now aren’t burying their heads in the sand, they’re looking the other way.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

April 29th, 2009

There Is No Morality That Stands On A Bedrock Of Lies

Via Dan Savage… I’ve been railing online since the early 1990s about how essentially immoral the anti-gay religious right is. How the scorched earth take no prisoners war they’ve been waging against gay people demands absolute renunciation of everything fine and decent a human being can possibly be, systematically strips away any human nobility they might have possessed, any aspiration to honor and justice and truth, any higher emotion then simple, relentless, pure as venom hate. The culture war leaches out of them anything decent they might ever have been, leaving behind a pathetic caricature of a human being, whose only purpose in life is hating someone a little more today then they did yesterday.

The Moral Majority. Family Values. Traditional Values. Christian. God Fearing. Bible Believing. I grew up in that milieu, and the people waving those flags today have utterly no relation to any of that. None. Morality, virtue, values, these are not things they aspire to, they are masks they hide behind. Time and again back in the Usenet days, I would find myself arguing with a bigot who told me with easy confidence that I didn’t want to get into an argument about morality, so thoroughly had they co-opted the meaning behind the words. Time and again I would beat them over their pathetic heads with their own cheapshit failures of moral character. I was raised in a Baptist household, and I know how fire and brimstone are done. Often I wished that I could see others doing the same, rather then conceding the moral argument to a bunch of gutter crawling louts. Listening to James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, William Bennett, Lou Sheldon, et. al., yap, yap, yapping about morality is like listening to Al Capon bellyaching about crime.

These are not moral people. They are thieves in the house of human virtue, leaching off the efforts of better men and women who have tried over the ages to lift humanity from the caves to the stars. They steal from those of us who love life, and love humanity, and love this good earth and want to leave it a little better for our having walked upon it, the tools we have uncovered over the centuries for testing right from wrong, true from false, good from evil, and turn them against us, to drag us down into their gutter, so that they will shine. They have preached for so long that they are the keepers of civilization’s essential virtues that many of us have come to believe it. They are vampires, feeding on them, never to be nourished by them.

If I’m grateful for anything, it’s that I lived long enough to see the moral crusade being brought right back to them. Here’s a video from YouTube user robtish that shows in neon lights how horribly warped the moral compass is over at the Traditional Values Coalition. What do you call a people who claim FBI statistics show only a small number of violent crimes were committed against homosexuals in 2007, while omitting, among other violent crimes, the category of murder from the tally? Moral? Virtuous? Christian?

This is what the culture war does to its soldiers. It strips them of everything within them that could have been fine and noble and decent. No higher virtue then hating the enemy is allowed to live within you. Not honor, not reason, not any sense of right and wrong is allowed. Hate does not share power with anything else a human heart might be capable of. You let it in, and it will consume you. There is the evidence…right there, laughing in your face.

by Bruce | Link | React! (3)

Today In Deeply Held Religious Beliefs…

Dan Savage over at SLOG reports thusly

Married conservative Catholic—married arch-conservative Catholic—Mel Gibson hits the red carpet with his new girlfriend.

Gotta love them deeply held religious beliefs.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

Bigot Outburst

Many people are going to remember yesterday as the day Arlen Specter switched parties, and it became painfully clear to most Americans how fast the republican party was collapsing into a political black hole of insular nativism and bigotry. But I will remember it as the day I watched, slack-jawed, this article on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I am 55 years old. I still remember the Nixon years as if they were yesterday. I remember Agnew spitting on four dead students at Kent State. I remember Ronald Reagan’s indifference to the growing AIDS epidemic. I remember him laughing at Bob Hope’s sick AIDS joke during the re-dedication of The Statue of Liberty…

I told one of my students that the most memorable Reagan AIDS moment for me was at the 1986 centenary rededication of the Statue of Liberty. The Reagans were there sitting next to French President Francois Mitterand and his wife, Danielle. Bob Hope was on stage entertaining the all-star audience. In the middle of a series of one-liners Hope quipped, “I just heard that the Statue of Liberty has AIDS but she doesn’t know if she got it from the mouth of the Hudson or the Staten Island Fairy.” As the television camera panned the audience, the Mitterands looked appalled. The Reagans were laughing. By the end of 1989 and the Reagan years, 115,786 women and men had been diagnosed with AIDS in the United States, and more than 70,000 of them had died.

I will go to my grave remembering how the republicans cynically incited anti-gay hatred in one election after another in order to win votes. I have watched them grow meaner, smaller and cheaper year after year after year and I cannot begin to describe how sickening it feels to think I’d seen them finally hit bottom, only to realize that there is no bottom. Last night on Olbermann Chris Matthews was blunt in the wake of Specter’s defection, that the republicans had made two deals with the devil that they were paying for in spades now. First, they embraced Nixon’s racist “southern strategy” to peel southern states and white working class democrats away from the party. Second, they embraced the culture war of the religious right. Now, after the Bush economic and military debacles, what had been the republican’s only two marketable strengths, national security and the economy, have withered away, leaving decent people to finally, Finally see the Devil’s Deal…the stinking rotten core that has been animating the party ever since Goldwater lost. And they’re flinching away. In droves.

I am 55 years old. I’ve watched all this happen in my lifetime. And watching the Republican Noise Machine on Fox News trying to whip up the swine deadly flu outbreak into a brown-skinned people hatefest still managed to leave me completely dumbfounded. It really is the party of hate now.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Bigot Outburst

April 28th, 2009

There Is No Such Thing As A Filibuster Proof Democratic Majority

Atrios on Arlen Specter switching parties:

I hope this works out better than I expect, but 60 nominal Ds doesn’t equal 60 votes.

Right.  And Specter isn’t the only D who, as Harry Reid said of Specter, is "with us except when we need him".  Whenever I hear republicans fear mongering about a democratic super majority it always puts me in mind of what Will Rogers said: "I am not a member of any organized party – I am a Democrat".  There could be just one republican left on Capital Hill, just one lonely republican in the House of Representatives, and there would be enough democrats willing to vote with him, that he could get his way on just about anything.

Democrats don’t like playing hardball.  Republicans think bipartisanship is when democrats give them what they want.  Until we get more democrats willing to fight for democratic principles (you know…that "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity" stuff…), it won’t matter how many democrats there are in congress, the republicans will still control the agenda.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on There Is No Such Thing As A Filibuster Proof Democratic Majority

Flu Is A Liberal Consperacy…


In case you’re wondering what the head of the Republican Party thinks about the flu outbreak, here is his statement:

After the break, Rush attacked the UN for issuing a warning for a worldwide flu pandemic, claiming that it is "by design" to get people to respond to government orders. The media fall right in line with this stuff, Rush said, amplifying the nature of the crisis. Rush — in his capacity as public health expert — added that "the flu’s a common thing."

This makes perfect sense. If you are a conservative you can’t believe that something like an epidemic or a pandemic could even exist or you would have to grant that the necessity for public health — a government function. Indeed, you even have to grant that a pandemic requires that people are going to be forced to behave in ways that explicitly explicitly define their own personal survival with the common good.

Rush is right to be a little bit nervous about this, though. Public health crises tend to focus the public on the usefulness of things like science, international cooperation, government coordination. You know, the sort of thing that liberals think are necessary. Something like that simply doesn’t fit into the conservative worldview.

The magic hand of the free market is suppose to prevent pandemics.  Somehow.  Actually, they don’t give a rat’s ass about any of that.  In the rarefied gated communities and resorts of the fabulously well to do, communicable diseases don’t matter unless they somehow manage to get inside.  And once there, these are people who really do have access to that "best health care system in the world" thing that the rest of us here in the U.S. only rhetorically do.

Meanwhile, back in the republic of Texas

Less than two weeks after raising the prospect of seceding from the union, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling on the federal government to come to his state’s aid in the midst of the swine flu outbreak.

Repeat after me: Goverment is the problem, not the solution… Goverment is the problem, not the solution… Goverment is the problem, not the solution…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Flu Is A Liberal Consperacy…

April 25th, 2009

You Are Not Being Silenced, So Shut Up…

Fred Clark writes about the persecution complex behind the NOM ads…

We’ve seen how this plays out on the national scene two, three times a month. Some pious dignitary remarks that homosexuality is just like pedophilia or bestiality — a statement regarded within the hegemony of the sect as wholly innocent and inoffensive. Someone outside the sect will reply, accurately, that this is an offensive lie, a vicious slander. That response will be perceived, within the sect, as "religious persecution." The response — any response other than "thank you, sir, may I have another?" — implicitly rejects the legitimacy of the hegemony and rebels against the privilege enjoyed by the sect. (A big part of that privilege, it turns out, is the expectation that one can say offensive things without others taking or expressing offense. This has become far more important as a hallmark of American evangelicalism than, say, Sabbath-keeping.)

I’d say this isn’t just a religious right phenomena.  You see culture warriors on the right holding the same two mutually contradictory positions that Fred points out in certain American evangelical circles.  On the one hand, we represent the Great American Heartland…the Common Folk…The Moral Majority…The Silent Majority…  And so on…  But on the other, we are oppressed.  Our values and our way of life are in danger of becoming extinct. 

Your gay and lesbian neighbors have been hearing a version of this self contradicting complaint for decades now.  On the one hand, gay people are a teeny-tiny minuscule minority, whose claims of oppression don’t even merit a laugh, let alone any serious thought.  On the other, we are a vast and powerful conspiracy that will soon extinguish any trace of American values.  On the one hand we are contemptible, weak, easily frightened swishing faggots.  On the other hand we are dangerous militants.  Huh?

The thought police are always out to get them.  Political Correctness is always taking away their right to express their deeply held beliefs.  Whenever someone is called out for their cheap bar stool prejudices, they complain that they are being silenced.  It isn’t that people find their knuckle dragging bigotries disgusting.  It’s that a vast liberal socialist communist homosexual conspiracy is out to get them.  When Mrs California endorsed cutting off the ring fingers of all the gay citizens of California, and promptly fell out of favor with the Mrs America judges, a great wail arose from the kook pews, clamoring that she was the victim of political correctness, and that people who opposed the gay agenda were being silenced.

Silenced.  Let me show you silenced…

Ex-Louisiana KKK chief arrested in Prague: police

PRAGUE (AFP) — A former US Ku Klux Klan chief was arrested Friday in a Prague restaurant while he was on a speaking tour here, Czech police said.

Former Grand Wizard of the Louisiana-founded Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, was arrested on suspicion of promoting movements seeking the suppression of human rights, police spokesman Jan Mikulovsky told local media.

Regardless of how low in the human cesspool Duke is, that charge sent a little chill down my spine.  It was pure reflex, most likely born of having spent my entire life swaddled in American culture.  But there it was.  David Duke is lower then spit in a urinal in my book, but I am much less afraid of anything David Duke might say, then I am of the charge he was arrested under.  …suspicion of promoting movements seeking the suppression of human rights…   What the hell does that mean?  Suspicion of promoting movements…?  Seeking the suppression…?  What is the fucking criminal act here?  It could be anything.  Today that might mean talking about suppressing the rights of black people.  Tomorrow it might mean arguing against it, thereby suppressing the right of white people to keep black people in their place.  It could be anything.  Totalitarian states love that kind of thing.  It’s the kind of law that can be whatever they want it to be, whenever they want it to be that.  And you don’t have to actually Do Anything to break that law.  Just talk about doing something.  Maybe with one person.  Maybe with a whole roomful of people.  It doesn’t matter.  You open your trap, say the wrong thing, and you’re toast.  And you can never be sure what the wrong thing to say is.  It’s whatever the state wants it to be.  Probably just right then, in order to arrest you and make it all seem legal.  Giving police the power to arrest someone for speaking their mind just greases the skids for fascism. 

Mrs Proposition 8 California and her fans aren’t being silenced.  Critics of same sex marriage aren’t being silenced.  Their freedom to dispense horseshit about morality, religion, family values and same sex marriage does not trump other people’s freedom to call their cheapshit prejudices for what they are, and regard them with disgust.  If you can’t tell the difference between loosing a crown or loosing a tax break and going to jail then go get yourself arrested in some foreign land for opening your trap at the wrong time in the wrong place and find out.

You are not being silenced.  So shut the fuck up.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 23rd, 2009

Those Homosexuals Masters and Johnson Said They Cured Back In 1979? Yeah…Guess What…

Scientific American finds the usual void of actual data behind the claim of successful ex-gay therapy

Back in 1979, on Meet The Press and countless other TV appearances, Masters and Johnson touted their book, Homosexuality in Perspective—a 14-year study of more than 300 homosexual men and women…The results seemed impressive: Of the 67 male and female patients with "homosexual dissatisfaction," only 14 failed in the initial two-week "conversion" or "reversion" treatment…During five years of follow-up, their success rate for both groups was better than 70 percent.

Not bad.  However…there was just one wee problem…

Prior to the book’s publication, doubts arose about the validity of their case studies. Most staffers never met any of the conversion cases during the study period of 1968 through 1977, according to research I’ve done for my new book Masters of Sex.  Clinic staffer Lynn Strenkofsky, who organized patient schedules during this period, says she never dealt with any conversion cases. Marshall and Peggy Shearer, perhaps the clinic’s most experienced therapy team in the early 1970s, says they never treated homosexuals and heard virtually nothing about conversion therapy.

When the clinic’s top associate, Robert Kolodny, asked to see the files and to hear the tape-recordings of these "storybook" cases, Masters refused to show them to him…

Kolodny began to suspect Masters had, at best created "composite" cases out of many individual ones at best, or at worst had committed outright fraud.  Virginia Johnson apparently had similar misgivings about Master’s conversion successes, but never spoke publicly about them.  She later regretted that the book had gone to the publisher in the form it had, saying, "That was a bad book."  She feared that "Bill was being creative in those days" in compiling the conversion case studies.

Masters insisted right up to his death in 2001 that his work had been based on "…10 years of work with five years of follow-up—and it works."  But he never showed anyone the actual data, and few who worked with him can saw any of the patients, let alone the work with them actually taking place.  Given how reliably such therapy fails to work for everyone else, it isn’t hard to figure why Masters never showed anyone the data.  He had the same reason Exodus, Love In Action, and a host of other conversion therapy quacks have.  The data doesn’t exist.  The human consciousness isn’t a blackboard anyone can scribble their will on.  It doesn’t work that way.  You can’t talk someone out of being homosexual any more then you can talk them out of being left handed, or having blue eyes.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Those Homosexuals Masters and Johnson Said They Cured Back In 1979? Yeah…Guess What…

It’s All The Fault Of Teh Gays…

Via Dispatches From The Culture Wars

From Pat Robertson, speaking about the DHS report on right wing extremists:

"It shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question. But it’s that kind of thing, somebody who doesn’t think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It’s outrageous."

Peter LaBarbera, responding to criticism from Glenn Sacks

 Are you a homosexual, Glenn?

And then there’s good old Scott Lively wandering around the globe telling people that genocide is caused by homosexuals When I was a kid, it was the Communists who were secretly behind every hidden plot the lunatic right was babbling on about.  Now it’s Teh Gays. 

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 21st, 2009

We Can Be Frinds If You Send Me An Ambassador Who Hates Your Guts As Much As I Do

From the Science Blog’s, Dispatches From The Culture War blog, comes news that pope Ratzinger finds President Obama’s ambassadors lacking in some basic quality…

It was reported a couple weeks ago that the Vatican had rejected three possible nominees to be the next ambassador to the Holy See because the people they’d nominated were pro-choice on abortion:

The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama’s candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

Italian journalist Massimo Franco, who broke the story about the White House attempts to find a suitable ambassador to the Vatican, said papal advisers told Mr. Obama’s aides privately that the candidates failed to meet the Vatican’s most basic qualification on the abortion issue.

Okay…so this is about Abortion…right?  The pope doesn’t want President Obama slapping him in the face with a pro-choice ambassador…right?


Now the London Times identifies two of the names rejected by the Vatican: Caroline Kennedy and Doug Kmiec.

Caroline Kennedy, the Roman Catholic daughter of the assassinated President, has been rejected by the Vatican as the next US ambassador to the Holy See because of her liberal views on abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, according to Vatican insiders…

Mr Obama was said to have wanted to reward Ms Kennedy for supporting his election. The other rejected nominees reportedly included Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University and a former legal adviser to Presidents Reagan and George Bush Sr, who urged American Catholics to vote for Mr Obama.

But Kmiec is firmly anti-choice on abortion and always has been. He endorsed Obama despite disagreement over abortion. Which means the only basis for rejecting him is that he supported someone who is pro-choice. And on that basis, Obama would have to pick someone who does not support his presidency in order to satisfy the Vatican.

Kmiec was probably a worse pick then a pro-choice candidate.  Kmiec is probably a traitor in Ratzinger’s eyes.  It doesn’t matter that he opposes abortion.  He supported Obama.  Probably because he, like a lot of social conservatives who, after eight years of watching the republican party run itself into the ground, put his country before his personal views on abortion.  That is precisely the kind of thing that would have made him absolutely unpalatable to Ratzinger.  The first thing you have to abandon in the culture war, is your conscience.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

April 20th, 2009

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

[Longish post about the continuing trials and tribulations of a geeky little techno nerd trying to understand how to take care of a house of his very own.  Skip if talking about refrigerators is likely to bore the hell out of you…]

The trick to buying major household appliances like…well…the new fridge I bought last week, is to match them correctly to the scale of your life.  The problem is, at least here in Bigger-Is-Always-Better America, you need to have a life scaled to the expectations of American corporations.  Specifically, you need to have a large family living in a McMansion with a mortgage you can’t afford and two Hummers in the driveway.  Get that, and everything they want to sell you in the major appliances department…everything nice at least…will fit your lifestyle to a ‘T’.

The refrigerator problem I related last September…Here…came back last month.  I noticed frost forming yet again at the bottom corner of the freezer, which meant that the cooling coils were probably frozen up by then.  And sure enough the ice maker stopped working shortly thereafter.  Icemakers, as I discovered last time, have a thermal switch that won’t turn on until the temperature of the unit is cold enough to freeze water in a certain period of time.  I also had a thermometer mounted in the freezer this time, which allowed me to see exactly how much less efficient my freezer was getting by the day.

To get it fixed would have meant the third time since September that someone from GE has been out to fix it.  I don’t blame GE service, which at least here in the Baltimore area is very good.  But the fridge was more then 20 years old judging from the records left by the previous home owner, and had a lot of trouble when it was brand new.  Each time it was something else in the system that had failed.  First it was the thermostat.  Then the defroster timer.  Now for all I knew it was the defroster heater, or something else.  I could have had it fixed again but the fixes were starting to add up to the cost of a new one, and a new one would be much more energy efficient.  Especially if I bought one scaled more correctly to the life of a single guy.  But it was also money I really hadn’t wanted to spend just now.

I started doing some somewhat more in-depth research then I’d done last September, and quickly became shocked at the state of the art…or at least what I could see of it here in the U.S.  Fridges made in the last half decade appeared to be loud, cranky and a whole lot less efficient then advertised.  Consumer were complaining bitterly online about just about every brand, including the brands Consumer Reports says need the fewest repairs.  It took me a while to realize that those ratings were relative to each other, and not to other products.  Even U.S. made automobiles seem to be more reliable these days then refrigerators.

It made me almost want to just keep getting the old one fixed.  But old as it was, that wasn’t likely to be a less costly choice either.  So it seemed I was stuck with getting a new one.  But at least I could take the opportunity to get one more suited to the life I live.  

I’m a single guy, living alone, in a small Baltimore rowhouse.  I just don’t need a big family sized fridge like the one that came with the house.  That fridge was almost always nearly empty, except for the freezer.  I live so close to two really nice grocery stores that I almost always buy perishables the day I am actually going to use them, and then only just enough to use right away.  If I buy more food then I am likely to use in a week I end up throwing most of it away when it spoils.  Milk, cheeses, veggies, lunch meats…it all either gets used right away or I end up having to throw it out.  So I don’t buy much at any one time.  So the fridge is mostly empty most of the time.  Figure I was spending a lot of electricity just to keep the air in it cool, which has been an annoyance.

The freezer compartment however, was another story.  Between the TV dinners, french frys, onion rings and other deep fryer treats, fish, shrimp, beef and occasional ice cream treat it was almost always packed full.  It’s not just that I like meat.  It isn’t simply that I practically live out of the deep fryer some weeks.  It’s that the stuff in the freezer, so long as it stays frozen, stays good to use for months.  I purchase on a longer time frame for the freezer then for the stuff that gets put in the fridge.  And I really wanted more space to do that.  I’d been thinking about getting a small chest freezer now for some time.

So what I really needed, I decided, was less refrigerator and more freezer.  I could buy a much smaller sized fridge, and then pair it with a small chest freezer.  I had a spot in the basement where a small chest freezer would fit nicely and have a circuit all to itself off the main box.  The previous home owner had a second refrigerator there for his club room, which I gave to a friend shortly after moving in.  There is even a water tap there for an ice maker.  A small 5 sq foot chest freezer would do nicely in that spot.

On a hunch, I looked to see if they sold refrigerator only units.  That would have been ideal.  I found some but they were all second refrigerator units, for those families even a monster sized fridge just wasn’t big enough for.  They were even larger on the inside then the fridge I was replacing.

So I decided to go with a small top freezer unit.  The fridge section would hold everything I needed without wasting energy just cooling off empty airspace and the small freezer section could hold the icemaker, and be a staging area for the kitchen.  The chest freezer would be for long term bulk storage.  Whenever I saw a sale on meats and TV dinners, I could take advantage of it.  I could buy the bulk meat and fish items at Costco and have a place for it.  On an as-needed basis, I would periodically restock the fridge freezer with items from the basement freezer.

So now I had my specs.  I began looking around for something to fit them and it was frustrating.  Last September I wrote:

I could get a good, state of the art energy saver fridge, sized just right for a single guy, for around 850 to a thousand bucks.  Or I could get a decent low tech smaller one for about 300-400.  I figured if I was going to replace the fridge I might as well buy a good one, but money for one of the good ones wasn’t in the budget.

Well I could squeeze it out of the budget now, but alas I was completely wrong about getting a good one sized for the life of a single guy.  I could get a nicely built, nicely equipped fridge, but only at a size a large family would ever need.  And mind you, what I mostly desired was something that was built well.  The built-in gadgets would be nice…oh look, an ice dispenser, oh look, a built-in wine rack…but I wanted something built well first.  I like solid things in my life.  I want to reach out and touch the shelves and they fit well into their slots and don’t feel like they’re about to come apart in my hands.  I want to slide the snack tray and the veggie bins in and out and they move smoothly and don’t feel like they’re cheap plastic that’ll crack and break and I’ll always have to be replacing them.  I see stuff like that and I wonder how well the stuff I can’t reach out and touch and see is made.

But all I could find in small, single guy sized refrigerators, was cheap plastic crap on the inside and no nice extras, except the ice maker, which I guess is considered essential now in a refrigerator.  Some of what I saw was done more nicely to the eye then others, but it was still all low quality plastic on the inside.  I wondered how they did it over in Europe, where small scale living is fairly common, even for families.  I tried looking for some European brands, and some from Japan and Korea, but it seemed the only things that got exported to the U.S. were the family sized fridges and those were hugely expensive.

I tried looking around the appliance outlet stores.  There were places you could buy factory reconditioned units, or ones that had minor cosmetic damage, for a whole lot less.  But again, most of what I saw were the big McMansion style units.  The few small, single person units I saw all looked…a bit less then factory reconditioned.  More like second-hand and a tad cruddy more often then not.

Why aren’t you married with children citizen…?

One thing I discovered, in the nick of time since I was considering buying a stainless steel unit, is that fridge magnets don’t stick to stainless steel.  My fridges always get decorated with fridge magnets, reminders, letters and cards from friends.  I still have the Christmas card my first high school crush sent me a couple years ago, tacked to the fridge with a magnet I got in Monument Valley the summer before I’d found him again.  I started pocketing one of my fridge magnets on my shopping trips, along with the tape measure.

In the meantime, I’m eating out of the old fridge and not buying any new food to put into it so I don’t have any to spoil when I make the change from the old to the new.  It takes about a day, really, for the inside temperature in a fridge to stabilize and you don’t want to be putting food in until it’s cold enough, especially lunch meats and dairy products.  The freezer, which by this point was just barely getting cold enough to freeze food, but not freeze it really hard, took the longest to empty.  The fridge section not so much.  I emptied the snack bin pretty quickly.  The only thing I kept putting back into the fridge was the daily batch of fresh ice tea.  After about two weeks of it I was eating almost exclusively from local restaurants and eating peanut butter sandwiches and I was getting desperate.

I ended up buying a Kenmore fridge and small chest freezer from Sears.  The fridge wasn’t as horribly cheap on the inside as some, but it was still less well made then I wanted.  But by now I’d given up on getting what I wanted in the size I wanted it and this fridge was just exactly the right size.  It was also inexpensive since Sears was running a sale at the time.  It is small enough that instead of having a fan that forces air through a heat exchanger coil it has the old radiator style heat exchanger mounted on the back.  Since the whole unit is smaller, it can sit in the space where the old one did and get more air circulating around the back anyway, so that older passive air cooling mechanism shouldn’t be a problem at all.  Simpler is better, when you can manage it.  Or so I’m hoping anyway.  The freezer is a very small chest model that will require manual defrosting periodically.  Interestingly enough, the freezer is quieter then the fridge.

I let the units run for a day to stabilize temperatures.  Late in the evening the icemaker in the new fridge finally began making ice, so I knew the freezer was ready to hold food.  Which meant that the fridge probably was too.

So now I have a smaller fridge, and a chest freezer now, and a better balance of food storage here at Casa del Garrett.  To this I added one more thing: A small, self contained ice maker for the bar downstairs.  By self-contained I mean it drinks from its own built-in water tank, not a hookup to the household plumbing.  More on it later, but it’s part of a master plan to improve the bar for when I have company.

by Bruce | Link | React! (4)

“Then he becomes a subversive mother.”

Mrs. California apparently doesn’t much like them thar gays…

"We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised."

You were raised to parade around in front of TV cameras in high heels and a tiny little bikini were you?  Then later, out comes this…

"It is a very touchy subject and [Perez Hilton] is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct," she added. "But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything."

and still later…

"I think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because his views are different from the views of the President and others of his kind. Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they’re too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother."

No…wait…  I’m confusing Carrie Prejean with a different Mrs. America.

by Bruce | Link | React! (2)

Freeing People From The Bondage Of Homosexuality In Uganda, One Bullet At A Time…

Via Box Turtle Bulletin…  Scott Lively and Exodus’ hard work in Uganda is paying off it seems…


Timothy Kincaid, notes that the Ugandan government is now denouncing Amnesty Internation and UNICEF the U.N.’s children’s relief fund, for promoting homosexuality (UNICEF is accused of smuggling pro-homosexuality books into Ugandian schools…) and he asks

I wonder if American anti-gay groups, including Exodus International, are proud of the part they played.


This has been another edition of Simple Answers, To Simple Questions…


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Freeing People From The Bondage Of Homosexuality In Uganda, One Bullet At A Time…

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