Max, blissfully unaware of all this,
continues to eat his head off and he's still convinced that my head is the
most delightful kitten toy ever devised. As a result, Max has learned what
the squirt bottle is for, although that only deters him slightly. He's young
yet. I'm sure he'll learn to stop pouncing on my cranium, eventually. I
can't fault the boy's effort, though. If I'm standing, his best jump firmly
plants his claws on the waistband of my jeans, which inspires him to try to
climb up my shirt until gravity defeats him. Fortunately, he's getting heavy
enough that my shirt is no longer an adequate climbing surface - but he's
getting bigger, too, which means higher jumps. I've got a feeling this is a
situation that I'm not going to win...
I'll take pictures one of these days. He weighs about three pounds, now, and is a good double-handful of cat. Needless to say, he is as cute as the dickens.
Oh bliss! Oh rapture! Within hours of Buffy: The Musical airing, one could find all the songs as MP3s. That'll do until the CD gets released...
Alex stomped his foot and seized the control of last week's CAST game from Mr. Gaiser. MG has been whining about wanting to be 'just a player' for a time or two, so Alex whipped up a cool plotline - with some evil crunchies courtesy of yours truly - and refused to tell MG any more than the bare minimum he needed to know as a GM.
It was easily the most energetic game that has happened in weeks. The premise was simple, if a bit silly: the entire troupe got dumped into a shared dream, whilst being unwillingly (and unwittingly) transported to Tundress - a magickal island that is a huge plot point for the next game... So, as in most people's dreams, people could do things that they couldn't in real life, or sometimes strange and nonsensical things would occur. Later into the game, everything started getting a little darker (literally, as I ran around closing curtains and unplugging light fixtures) and things become rather nightmarish for everyone. Alex spent a lot of time running around to players, whispering things in their ears like "You're human, but no-one else can see that." or "You suddenly think Character X is totally revolting and want to avoid him at all costs.", etc. Just as things were getting utterly crazy - Bone had just convinced Trish and Gideon to join the Sabbat and Jean-Michel was turning into a Follower of Set, etc. - the group awoke on the beach of Tundress and the game ended.
Judging by post-game reaction, the players had a blast. I had a great time thinking up everyone's dream/nightmare scenario, and Alex even tried to throw a couple of surprises at me, so I wasn't aware of everything going on. I particularly enjoyed the 'no consequences' setting. For a variety of reasons, Patricia knew that the group was dreaming by about halfway through the game (gotta love being a Malkavian) and so she realized that she could quite likely say and do some outrageous things and get away with them. But the fact that the setting was actually a dream put her into a quandary. Trish would march up to a PC, intending to gut them like a fish, then - to the PC's bemusement - say "Oh, what's the point? This isn't real and you wouldn't really feel it, so I may as well not bother." and then stomp off. She also said a few things that she might or might not deny vigorously when things return to 'normal'. Like her long-winded whine at Jean-Michel about looking for something to belong to...
I just hope that the Tundress game itself is that satisfying for the players.
I finished the
Forbidden Kingdoms bit for Dave, barely. The deadline was pushed back until
the 16th, but that didn't really mean anything, as Dave was breathing down my
neck for the piece every day since Saturday. I was at that frustrating
"Just this bit and I'm done" stage for two days. At least I noticed
that I had forgotten to write about the current state of the United Kingdom before
I sent it off to him.
Compared to the stunning section that Jen Wick produced - she handled 1890 - 1900 - I'm wallowing in feelings of inadequacy but, hell, a person has to start somewhere. Once I'm working again, I'll have to drop her a line and ask if she knows of any other small shops I could go after for work. Although I'm in no rush to crank out 14,000 words in ten days again! If it hadn't been for my unemployment, I never would have finished. So, a minor silver lining, I guess. A shame I won't get paid for this work until at least February. And by the time Uncle Sam takes his bite out of it, there won't be much left. About $300, I think. Maybe I'll get lucky and I'll be paid in time for DunDraCon.
I was also momentarily distracted by someone else's domestic crisis. It's all a bit sticky, but the practical upshot was that after I got over my initial fit of anger and disbelief that a friend of mine - whom I had previously thought to be the last fidelious (is that a word? If not, substitute 'faithful') guy on earth turned out to have feet of clay. In hindsight, I really shouldn't have been so surprised, but I guess I had built that friend up quite a bit, without realizing it. In fact, there are several people involved with the incident towards whom I am directing feelings of disappointment but, heck, I'll get over it... It's not like Alex was fooling around, fer goodness' sake.
question: Can you date this pattern
book? I need the season/year, not a guesstimate. I've already guessed it's
1969 - 72, but I want to peg it down to the correct year. Unfortunately, the
chaps at Simplicity were totally useless, so now I'm hoping that maybe someone
out in the big wide web possesses the arcane knowledge I need. I've also
posted a request on alt.sewing and a couple of other newsgroups.
See, I need to know whether or not the book is from the 60's because, if it is, I can include it over at The Electric Swinging Pussycat Lounge - Um, Closet, which has been the other task that has kept me amused during the past few days. Given that over half the traffic that comes to this site is looking for costuming references, I saw a need and since I had bought some groovy pattern books on e-bay... What's the harm? I regret only having to use Tripod.com - those blasted popups! - but the site is 35MB, so far, and I didn't want to eat up my remaining space on Skaro.com with a fluff project like this.
Ummm. Not much to say, really. Inspired by the utterly enjoyable Buffy: The Musical eps, Alex and I have been prodding players to suggest songs for their own characters and the other PCs, with some interesting results. One player suggested Natalie Imbruglia's "Leave Me Alone" for Patricia, which I had never heard before. Once I listed to it, I had to admit that it was extremely fitting. In fact, I've DL'd a fair bit of Natalie Imbruglia in the past few days and realized that I was missing a good thing.
Once the CD burner has been vacuumed - it's taken to making a nasty grinding noise and I'm hoping it's dust - Alex and I will burn the "CAST Soundtrack" with everyone's suggestions. We'll probably include some extra goodies - since we have the room and all - and hand it out to the players for a buck a pop as a cheap game-souvenir.
I'm planning to join
Dave & Rob's Aberrant game on Saturday. I'm not entirely sure how I got
sucked into it. It went from a discussion in the pub about a hypothetical
character that I might want to play in that game setting to
"game's next week, okay?". Ah well, it might be interesting, as
there are a couple of people in the group that I don't game with regularly. If
it stinks, I'll quit.
Did the family thing
with my parents on Thanksgiving, which made a change from the past two years
which had been spent with the family of sister-in-law's husband. In fact, the
sister-in-law and her husband were invited over as well, along with some
friends of my mom's, so there was a cozy little gang assembled. Susan cooked
up the usual feast and the wine was put away in startling quantities - too
much holiday spirit and then some. I'm ashamed to admit that I definitely had
a little too much, but it didn't really pounce all over me until I got home -
thank heavens! Anyways, it was nice to get together with friends and family,
even if if it's not so much fun to watch my mom totally stress out over every
detail for a week beforehand...
Then again, I'm one to complain. I do the exact same thing, but I just stress over different events. God help the innocent bystanders if my LARP isn't just perfect...
Obligatory photo of the family gathering.
Otherwise, drama has been swirling around my social circle, and I'm being an utterly selfish curmudgeonly bitch about the entire thing. During less-stressful times, I might happily let myself get sucked into a bit of vicarious melodrama but, at the moment, I've got more important things on my mind. At the moment, the melting-down of an eight month relationship that I believe started on the wrong foot anyways isn't too high on my list of things to pay attention to. In fact, very few things are on my list to pay attention to, beyond house-cleaning, job-hunting and occasional mucking-about online. I hate being this cranky and self-serving but the current situation encourages it...
I'm bummed because
my Christmas plans are all messed up. I think I'm going to have to write off
giving gifts this year, aside from anything I can make out of my fabric stash.
Dice bags for all my friends! Meanwhile, I'm just gonna ask my buddies for
rolls of duct tape and bags of fiberfill. I've picked up these very detailed
instructions on how to make a duct-tape fitting dummy, you see, but it
requires about $50 of materials... Still, $50 is cheaper than the $300 a
custom-made form would cost, and even then, I'm told those dam' things
sometimes shrink over time.
If I could afford a new pattern (and fabric) right now, it would probably be the Past Patterns Simple Victorian Day Dress, because I would love to make it in a gray taffeta or peachskin for Fear Stalks Whitechapel and GBACG's Edward Gorey Tea. Although, if I managed to attend the tea in January, I would have to make a plushie "Doubtful Guest" to bring along... As it is, I've dug up some old dress fabric I bought last summer and I'm going to make a decent going-to-interviews skirt out of it from a 1930s Folkwear pattern.
Oh yeah, I finished uploading and tinkering with The Electric Swinging Pussycat Lounge. It's all late 60s fashion, which isn't my primary interest, but I had the material, so I figured what the heck. Once I have enough mid-60s material to create a new site - and I find the mid-60s far more entertaining - I'll do so.
Pictures of Max!
|looking to pounce on an unsuspecting Tigger....||No, really, they're playing!||The only way I can get him to stay still for a photo is to pick him up, and even then, he wriggles...|
The pictures are over a week old, unfortunately, because I couldn't find the dratted flash-disk interface thingummy, but they're cute nonetheless. Max is now allowed out into the house a few hours every day and it's driving Tigger mad. As Max gets backer, Tigger's safe retreats are becoming less and less safe. However, there are still some places - windowsills and such - where he can sit and pull faces at Max's attempts to reach him. One of these days, Tigger is going to get an unpleasant surprise...
CAST: Tundress is over! Yippee! I hated that plot from start to end, but it was one of Gaiser's babies, so there was no talking him out of it. To my immense surprise, the final Tundress game actually went over very well with the playership, and there was only one ugly incident when an unpopular player stopped by to 'visit' and totally disrupted proceedings by knocking everyone out of character. I'm happy that the players seemed to enjoy the game, but I'm far happier that it's over. This is the third time Gaiser has tried to run the Tundress idea in a game of his, and I've made him promise that this will be the last. A GM has their darlings, I know, but when your usual cadre of players are rolling their eyes and saying "This again?", it's time to let the idea go.
I've been talked
into trying Rob and Dave's Aberrant game, so I attended my first
session last week. So far, so good. The setting is pretty neat - neither too
cartoony, nor too angsty - and the system is easy to learn. The game itself
started a bit rough - some IC and OOC friction had to be dealt with - and the
whole thing has a strong smell of "The Rob and Dave Show", but I had
a good enough time to commit to the next game. The fact that it only happens
once every four or five weeks is a big plus. And, admittedly, The Rob and Dave
Show can be pretty amusing at times...
Whilst the character concept was almost entirely created by the GMs - the first time I learn a game, I tell the GM to create a character for me, as that saves a lot of time - I recycled one of my favorite character names/archetypes in the name of saving time. Jane Mallory rides again - although she never had a six-meter prehensile tongue in her previous incarnations. Right now, I'm having far too much fun picking out her 'favorite' faces. She's a humanoid shapeshifter, so I'm not limited to just one actor for her likeness. I'm also having fun thinking about the long-term psychological ramifications of all that shapeshifting, although it will depend upon what she does and how long she has to do it for, I think. I'm hoping it will be fun finding out...
Alex has revived his
old Star Wars game, and he cajoled me into joining. Jennifer, Bob and I
are all playing our characters from the Lambient Five chronicles, but
the rest of the PCs and NPCs have gone by the wayside. The group is now
formally with the Rebellion - yeah, Yahnna
finally got knocked off the fence - and we immediately got into trouble with a
search-and-rescue mission. Alex, damn him, has decided to pull something out
of Yahnna's past that is now biting her on the ass. A nasty Thracian
crime-boss that she tangled with - and got one over on - has popped up with a
few things she needs and I can tell already that it's going to end badly...
But fun, definitely fun.
Howard is talking about running a Star Wars game, too, set in just-about the same universe as Alex's campaign and Jennifer's old SW game. Oh dear, I've just realized that we're building a shared universe... That always means complications and really grandiose silliness... Anyways, I'm only so-so on the idea of joining another game - my resolution to take a break from gaming seems to be crumbling - but Howard is trying to lure me in with the offer of an Imperial Jedi. That sounds awfully interesting...
My big achievement for the day. I finally got my
knack back for six-in-one chainmail.
Last night, Beyer
called and he, I and Alex headed down to Nerdvana - aka Dave & Buster's in
Milpitas. It really is a video-game mecca: high end video sim-games,
Battletech, pool and three different bars. Alex loved it. Of course, it's not
cheap, but I looked at the bank account and decided that we could afford a little
fun. Besides, Alex really likes Battletech. After two games of being reduced
to shrapnel, I went off and played skee-ball until my eyes spun. Skee-ball is
a lot cheaper than Battletech, so it all worked out. I understand that
Beyer and Alex had great fun blasting the snot out of each other... Meanwhile,
I think I've got almost enough tickets for a stick of gum. You know how it is
Where I really risk my soul is at those little token-push games. Y'know, you drop a token onto an arrangement of ramps and moving steps, in the hopes of winning more tokens? I can lose waaaay too much money to those things. I don't know if it's the shiny tokens, or the totally random (well, not totally) physics of the things, or what, but I'm always drawn to those blasted sucker-bets... And at Dave & Buster's, they ain't as cheap as the ol' Penny Push I used to find so alluring at the Palace Pier arcade...
Rented a couple of mindless movies last night: Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame (oh, spare me your grief) and Heathers. Later in the evening, as I was tossing margarita mix and limes into the shopping basket, Alex gets a rather nervous look upon his face and mutters "Margaritas and Heathers... I think I'll lock myself inside the den tonight." Silly boy. Even I know better than to drink and watch a movie like that. God knows I'm glad enough I didn't see that film until way after high school. If I had seen that flick before graduation, I would have gone to class with an axe and a bad gleam in my eye...
I am not going to go overboard with this Aberrant game. I'm not! I'm not! Just because I added two more faces to Arachne's gallery and outlined a prelude story does not mean I'm overdoing things. Yet.
Although I don't know if I'll bother writing the actual prelude. Rob has the gist of it, now, and I'm thinking that the writing of the full-length tale might be a pointless expenditure of energy. Y'know, an adoring audience of just myself doesn't cut it, any more. And my writing isn't precisely setting the masses on fire just yet... ;)
Imbrugila rocks. Why did it take me so long to hear "One More
Addiction", "Big Mistake" and "Leave Me Alone"? Oh
yeah, because I'm tragically unhip.
More Max Pictures!
|The only way to get him to hold still is to encourage him to pounce on things - usually me!||In a desperate attempt to get some peace whilst on the computer, I tied a bunch of socks to a door handle as a kitten-lure. It didn't work.|
|Max contemplating his reflection before burrowing under the scratching board...|
And in response to those who were wondering, yes, I made the chain mail featured in the previous entry. I bought the cut links - I didn't turn the wire, I'm not that masochistic - but I 'knitted' them together myself. Last night, I sat down and got my knack for four-in-one back, too. I don't know why, but I've always had an easier time with the tighter weave of six-in-one, whereas my four-in-one often tangles up on itself and the links end up lying every which way if I'm not careful. When I've made the choker, I'll probably scan a picture of that, too.
I'm thinking about
going out on another 'photo safari' in the city on Friday, if the weather
cooperates. I had a lot fun doing it last
year. Maybe this time I'll head up to the Presidio and the Golden Gate
Bridge. I haven't been over that way for years. For one mad moment, I
contemplated grabbing a ferry over to Marin, but the ferry landings aren't
anywhere particularly interesting, and the ferry would be another expense, on
top of BART - and I've still got a few bucks on my BART ticket, so that's
money that has already been spent.
This is one of those times that I wish I had a five mega-pixel camera. I love my 3.1 megapix Olympus, I do, but there are times when the pictures are a bit obviously digital. Anyways, I'm going to keep an eye on the weather and the job-hunt and, if both are looking clear on Friday, I think I'll head out. I enjoy tromping around the city by myself, anyways. Anything to get me off the dratted Apathy Wall that unemployment engenders.
I've been told by my buddy Greg that my place in geek fandom has been assured. Some of my interview with Josh (details) last year did make it to the final cut of The Matrix Revisited. Apparently I'm the token 'sane and lucid' fan, and I'm sort of glad for that. Of course, being associated with the I-named-my-kid-Neo fandom ain't so hot but, aw, what the heck...Fun's fun. I'll have to get a screencap from the DVD for my online photo album. Heh. Another thing to embarrass my future children with. Or be embarrassed about, I'm not sure.
I'm glad I didn't start writing up that story idea for Arachne last night, as it totally re-wrote itself this morning. I'm a fan of in-media-res beginnings, but my subconscious decided to totally cut to the chase... I might have to doodle down an outline, now, as I'm getting curious as to how it would shape up.
Meanwhile, in other gamer writing, Trish and the twins are giving me grief again. I've got a vignette featuring the trio that has been stalled for about six months. It was a case of having a 'darling' scene that didn't have much point and didn't go anywhere but, damn, I couldn't shake the sense that it could go somewhere. So I just let it lie fallow for a while - the joys of not having any deadlines but my own, and damn few of those.
Last month, the kids woke up and starting giving me ideas again. I finally had the strength to kill off the worst of the 'darling' aspect of the tale, and Bev and Eli managed to surprise me with some ideas. I've got the ideas jotted down, but I'm still not sure how to end it. It's a bit blah at the moment. It needs more life in it, but something that doesn't involve the characters having a temper tantrum... I'm going to prod at it over the next couple of days and see what happens...
This game is totally addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you. Pure geeky bliss. To a child of the 80s such as myself, the phrase 'beam splitter' always evokes images of the "Tanning Invitational" from Real Genius.
I doubt that I'm
going to go to the city tomorrow. The weather looks dicey and there is still a
slim chance I'll get called for an interview... And if my mom comes over with
the steam cleaner, I really should work on the carpets instead. I used some
carpet goop on a Max stain in the living room, saw the result and thought
"Oh my god, I've bleached the carpet. Panic!" Then I realized it had
simply returned the carpet to its original color - which evoked a panic all
it's own. The carpet is filthy. Hence the call to Susan to borrow the
steam cleaner. The dratted thing is clunky and has more buttons than a nuclear
reactor, but it's free.
More Max Pictures!
||This is Max's "Fortress of Solitude" aka, a blanket I was hanging over a chair to dry. He utterly loved pouncing on me from his hiding place as I walked past it in the hallway.|
|Max having a scritch in front of the mirror.|
His Mewjesty has been quite hyperactive these past couple of days, which I attribute to the fact that he seems to be developing certain, um, distinctive tom cattin' characteristics, if you know what I mean. In other words, it's not going to be too long before I call up the low-cost neuter clinic and book Max in for a Certain Operation. We may be broke, but some things Must Be Done.
Ooooh, I really shouldn't join Howard's game. Maybe I'll get lucky and it won't get off the ground. But I really shouldn't join any more games just now... Maybe it'll hold off until after Xmas. It's bad enough that I joined the Aberrant game in defiance of my 'no new games' rule.
Speaking of the Aberrant game, it's been quite a while since I've had a GM nag me for character background, so the harassment I'm getting from Rob is quite a change. I decided I didn't really want to write the full prelude I had in mind for Arachne. It would have taken a lot of time and, in all likelihood, not be worth the effort. But Rob got all puppy-eyed on me saying that he really wanted some more background information on my character and I can't refuse him much when he does that to me, damn him. So I wrote up a three-page outline with the necessary names and dates, and sent that his way. Hopefully that will satisfy his requirements and get me off the hook for writing any more.
From Johanna. This is a rant. This is not reasonable, and I expect to be flamed to a crispy critter by at least three people I know for doing this, but I was listening to Ashcroft's press conference last night, and the between-the-lines aspect of it scared me badly. My usual reaction to fright is to rave and gibber, so here it is.
However, before y'all start warming up the flamethrowers, let me just get this out in the open: Yes, anyone who knows anything about terror activities - or even thinks they do - should go to the FBI and tell all. Yes, such information should be rewarded and there are different rewards for different people.
But I dunno, there must have been a better way to phrase and announce this scheme. I simply can't shake the notion of "Come forward, get a visa. Don't come forward - even if it's because you simply don't understand enough English to know that there's a valid reward being offered - and we'll send you and your family back to where you came from."
course, let's see if I'm allowed to keep my green card after this little
diatribe. As a resident of the U.S., I am protected by The Constitution, but
I'm wondering for how long is the U.S government going to remember that?
The text below is from Ashcroft's press conference of 11/29. It was copied from the offiical U.S. Attorney website, so if there's been a misquote, it's their fault, not mine. I have only removed the portion of the conference that referred to Waagner and the anthrax hoaxing. I have not altered or removed a single word of Ashcroft's transcript regarding the "Cooperation Program", so I cannot be accused of quoting out of context. My bile-laden comments are in italics. Rant on!
ASHCROFT: Good afternoon. This afternoon I am announcing a Department of Justice initiative to reach out to freedom-loving people of all nations in the war against terrorism. The title of this initiative is the Responsible Cooperators Program.
y'know, "Scaring the Shit Out of Immigrants" just didn't fly by the
this new initiative, the Department of Justice will provide immigration
benefits to non-citizens who furnish information to help us apprehend
terrorists or to stop terrorist attacks. We are asking all non-U.S. citizens
who are present in the United States or who seek to enter our country to come
forward to the FBI with any valuable information they have to aid in the war
return for this information, the Department of Justice will assist nonresident
aliens in obtaining what are called S visas, which are available when the
information provided is critical and reliable and the person is placed in
danger as a result of sharing that information. S visa holders may remain in
the United States for up to three years, and during that period visa holders
may apply to become permanent residents and ultimately to become United States
who provide useful and reliable information but are not technically eligible
for S visas will receive assistance in seeking either parole or deferred
action status, which would allow them to reside legally within the United
States. They may then apply for a work authorization, permanent residence and
eventually citizenship under the normal immigration rules.
The United States will be grateful to responsible cooperators who help us protect American lives.
Flip side: If we even think you're holding out on us, you'll be on the next boat out so far it makes your head spin. And in case you're wondering precisely who decides if the information provided is "useful and reliable", it's us, baby.
ASHCROFT: We are at war with a fanatical terrorist network that claims to have nuclear weapons, and wants to slaughter innocent Americans citizens. We have clear evidence that bin Laden and Al Qaeda terrorist network killed nearly 4,000 Americans on September 11.
believe Al Qaeda continues to operate within the United States. These enemy
operatives are trained to disguise their appearances, to memorize false
personal documents, to evade electronic and physical surveillance, and to
avoid trouble in their neighborhoods or at work. Al Qaeda teaches them
thoroughly how to hide from the police, and to hide from the authorities, to
lie to authorities, during any encounters using elaborate, pre-planned cover
stories. In short, law enforcement is tracking a trained enemy that poses a
deadly threat to innocent American lives.
However, terrorist activity rarely goes entirely unnoticed, and non-citizens are often ideally situated to observe the precursors to, or early stages of terrorist activity. Information of such activity is critically important to our war against terrorism.
Because, as we all know, non-citizens are a fringe element unto themselves. Of course they'll hear about subversive activities long before us clean-cut, clean-living Americans do. It's time that fringe element earns their keep - because working 50 hours a week for minimum wage and paying taxes just doesn't do it.
Some visitors may be hesitant to come forward with their information because their immigration status. They may rest assured that the United States welcomes any reliable and useful information that they can provide to help us save lives in the future. In return, we will help them make America their home.
Just remember who decides if that information is reliable and useful. Us, not you. And that 'help' we're promising? Notice we're not giving details on what that help will be. Don't be surprised if it's just a waiving of the application fee rather than an actual stamp in your passport.
We need continued help from every responsible individual within our nation's borders. People who have information about terrorist activity must make a choice: either they will come forward to save American lives, or they will remain silent against evil. The people who have the courage to make the right choice deserve to be welcomed as guests in our country, and perhaps one day to become fellow citizens.
So, if you come forward with vital information, there's only a chance that we'll welcome you in this country. Maybe.
I have had a series of meetings with representatives of Arab, Muslim, Sikh communities, over the past several weeks. On October 16, I met in my office with leaders of these communities to hear their concerns in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Hearing doesn't necessarily mean caring. My advisors insisted that I at least look like I give a rat's ass.
Most recently, on Tuesday of this week, I visited the mosque at the Islamic Center here in Washington D.C. I spoke at length with the imam, Dr. Al-Kuj (ph), and many others in my continuing dialogue with the Muslim community. And they have expressed a sincere desire to support America in the war on terrorism. And they have asked, ``How can we help additionally?'' The Responsible Cooperators Program is an important way for those who are non-citizens to assist in preventing future terrorist attacks.
ASHCROFT: Freedom-loving people everywhere in the world are our greatest allies in the war on terrorism. Today, we call on those individuals who share our love for freedom to make a contribution to defend that freedom.
America's greatest asset is the privilege of living in America and enjoying the liberties of America, and it costs us nothing to provide those to responsible individuals who would seek to help us defend this land.
I may cost us nothing, but it is priceless to the recipient. For many people, a visa that provides a pathway to American citizenship is worth its weight in gold. It provides access to the freedoms and opportunities, to the dignity and integrity that defines this culture.
Like the dignity and integrity behind this little scheme.
Our message today to people who share our love for freedom is this: If you have any information you think might assist the federal government in its efforts to fight terrorism, please contact your local FBI office; or if you're abroad, contact the nearest United States embassy. If the information that you provide is reliable and useful, we will help you obtain a visa to reside in the United States and ultimately become a United States citizen.
being a citizen of this nation is the most that anyone could want,
right? If you're already a citizen and you step forward with information,
well, maybe we'll say 'thanks' - which might be more than what the non-citizen
Thank you. QUESTION: Attorney General, when you refer to an immigration violation, the message (OFF-MIKE) since September 11 was that government would deal very harshly with you. How can you now expect those people to come forward even when there's, sort of, a bonus on the table for...
ASHCROFT: First of all, this is for any individual who is in the country, regardless of their immigration or visa status, and there are many people legally here on student statuses or on business statuses or on tourist statuses as a visa that might to have the opportunity to become permanent residents with a more lasting status.
The second item is that the instruction is to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and to the embassy offices that they're not to inquire as to the immigration status of the person bringing the information.
ASHCROFT: They are only to receive the information and to evaluate it. And that evaluation will be the basis upon which an individual would receive the benefit that would flow from the receipt of useful and reliable information that helps us either detect and prevent terrorist activities, or gives us the opportunity to convict those responsible for the activities.
Their immigrant status isn't an issue until after we've gotten the goods. Then we'll frighten Abdul Smith into near-catatonia over his immigration status, just to be sure we've heard everything - that'll be the big stick, with a tiny little hypothetical carrot dangling off the end.
QUESTION: On that standard, what is the criteria that would be used? Would the information have to lead to the apprehension? Would they be allowed to enter in lieu of an investigation of that information? What more can you tell us about that?
ASHCROFT: Well, the criterion is that it has to be useful information to us, and reliable information. It does not necessarily have to lead to a conviction, and it doesn't have to be comprehensive. It might be that it's a missing link in a chain of evidence that allows us to actually do something.
And so we're asking that individuals be, sort of, generous minded about how they view the information they have. They should give it a try, because frequently other people will have provided other aspects of the information.
So the criterion is useful and reliable, the judgment to be reached will be reached by those offices that receive the information in conjunction with the efforts to either disrupt the terrorist activity or to prosecute those involved in terrorism. And the recommendations then will be made to main Justice and INS.
In other words, it's us who decides. Abdul Smith might want to pack his bags before stopping by the FBI field office.
QUESTION: Mr. Attorney General, do you have any idea how many people might possibly be interested in this kind of a program? Do you think, for example, the majority might be from overseas rather than from people who were already in this country? Do you have any...
ASHCROFT: You know, I really don't. You know, we could sit here and muse about this. I think there are a lot of people who come to this country who decide having lived here that this is a worthy placed to be, because of its respect for individuals, and because of the opportunities that are seen here. I know that many who come--and I spent some years teaching before I got into politics, and that's a long time ago, but many students decided they wanted to stay here at the expiration of their visas.
They know that a student visa doesn't provide that opportunity, but an S visa would provide that opportunity, and so would the other accommodations that are built into this program.
And heck, the terrifying between-the-lines interpretation of this new program is worth the possibility that we might get some valid information (okay, Johanna sort of sees the point in this. Maybe)
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) 5,000 people that you've pinpointed for in the first round of...
JM: I would have so loved to hear the rest of that sentence. First round of...interrogation? Terror tactics? "Voluntary" interviews?
ASHCROFT: This is not limited to any population of individuals, except to non-citizens. So literally the world, except for American citizens, is offered this opportunity to be a participant in a visa which could lead to citizenship, and would provide a basis even for working in the United States prior to becoming a citizen, if they choose to be responsible and to provide reliable and valuable information in this arena.
Gee, and there's Mr. Bush trying limit immigration. What if it turns out that 20,000 people have useful information on terrorism. Are we going to give them all visas? I think we all know the answer to that question...
QUESTION: Are you hoping that this will lead to more of those 5,000 people coming forth and talking to the...
Well, obviously, we would like for all individuals who have information to
come forward. We expect Americans who have information to come forward.
Because if you don't, you're a bad, bad person - and never mind the fact that stepping forward might kill you and your entire family. Or maybe you just don't know enough English to understand that it might be beneficial for you to help us. I don't see anyone translating this in to Arabic, Farsi and Pashtu, do you? (JM really hopes that someone did take care of that)
The crimes of September 11 were not merely crimes against America, they were crimes against humanity, they were crimes against civilization. The people of 86 different nations died in the World Trade Center.
And individuals, I believe, have a responsibility as citizens coming forward. And this is just an added incentive to a population of individuals, some of whom might be situated in a way to have access, either by their capacity to understand language or by their involvement in various communities, to be able to be helpful to us. And we want to signal to them our desire to get that help.
QUESTION: It sounds almost...
ASHCROFT: Make it good, will you? This is the last one.
(LAUGHTER) QUESTION: I'll try.
ASHCROFT: I'll do my best.
QUESTION: But in a way this sounds almost desperate, Mr. Attorney General. It sounds like you're desperate for people to come forward. Does this, sort of, underscore the fact that there were massive intelligence failures?
ASHCROFT: No. The answer to that is no. This underscores the fact that we want to do everything possible to prevent further loss of American life as a result of terrorism. And we are seeking every avenue.
Including scaring the pants of immigrants. Heard the rumor that we're going to ask all Muslims to "register". Notice that we haven't denied that yet? Maybe we can make them wear a little crescent moon on their clothes, too, and perhaps move them into ghettos, just so we can keep them safe you understand... Seig heil, baby!
And frankly, we are delighted that to date we've been successful, but we don't want to arrest on a laurel of success to the exclusion of other items which might assist us in achieving this goal of making sure that other Americans, innocent civilians, don't die in terrorism.
What success? Oh yeah, bombing a medieval culture back into the stone age whilst calling ourselves liberators. We'll get Osama any minute now, I swear...
And so you've seen a progression of things happen. We've strengthened our security around a variety of assets in the country. We've warned and trained law enforcement. We've created task forces to integrate the efforts of law enforcement around the country. We have interviewed groups of individuals we thought might be situated in a way to help us develop information. And now we're welcoming individuals to self-select on the basis of some benefits to them their opportunity to come and assist us achieve this noble goal and objective.
ASHCROFT: And I hope that we can think of more good ideas as time goes on. The president of the United States has made it very clear to me and to, I think, the American people that this is a long-range effort to fight terrorism, and the Al Qaeda network is a very important part of that. But the president's indicated that terrorists and those who harbor terrorism should expect that we're going to be in this for the long haul.
And I expect that we'll be looking for additional ways and additional ideas. And, frankly, we'd be willing to accept them from any quarter, including those of you who might want to counsel us as to good ideas and ways that we could additionally protect the innocent lives of Americans from terrorist attacks.
sure, start sewing up those little crescents. We might use them after all...
isn't it. Wasn't a conservative administration supposed to get government off
our backs and leave us free to pursue such inalienable rights as buying guns
and beer at the drive-thru? However, scaring the pants off the citizenry (and
non-citizenry) is a duty long-enjoyed by conservative régimes.
tell ya, I'm just waiting for the Minster - uh, Secretary - of Homeland
Security to tell me that all non-citizens, particularly those from the
mid-east, are required to check in at the FBI on a regular basis, and maybe
wear a little badge and perhaps just stay home between sunset and
sunrise...Just for our own safety, of course.
me I'm being hysterical. Maybe you're right. I hope you are. In the meantime,
it's time for me to dust off my letter-writing pen and let my duly appointed
representatives know how I feel about this...this...situation.
I've done it again.
I've found another homeless cat. But after only a day of trumpet
blaring and bugging my friends, it looks like Linda F. might be willing to
take him in. Failing that, Laura and Carlos have voiced an interest. Yay! I
really want him to have a home, because he's so sweet and friendly and
it's not my neighbor's fault that he can't take the cat in - he's already got
a big dog and his wife's cat in a small house.
I guess I'm just too much of a softy, really. But heck, it's not taken too much of my time to make a few calls and drop a few e-mails here and there - the job listings today just sucked, anyways. And I think finding a new home for an orphaned kitty is a decent accomplishment...
got her Lasik surgery done today. I wonder how it will pan out? I'm glad she's
getting it done. It tells me that her self-esteem is asserting itself again
and she's feeling confident enough to feel vain. As a rampant egotist myself,
I can usually find a way to justify vanity. Heh.
I've been giving it some thought about Lasik as my 30th b-day present to myself, next year. I've given up on the nose-job, it's too dam' expensive and I guess I've finally gotten used to the damn thing. Besides, spending $600 on laser surgery for my one really-off-kilter eyeball is an economy in a way - balanced against the cost of getting new glasses every two or three years for the rest of my life. So I can just about justify it to myself. I'm expecting a phat tax refund this year (I claimed one exemption, but I've been voluntarily overpaying on my withholding) so maybe I'll get it done after tax-season. Maybe. Or maybe I'll do as Jennifer did, and make it a reward for losing weight.
Ironically enough, I tend to watch what I eat when money is tight. I don't spend so indiscriminately on snack food, although I still graze an awful lot. I've really got to find a sugar-free gum I like to keep my oral fixation under control - thank God I never took to smoking. Anyways...I'm paying more attention to the food I'm buying, and trying to stick to reasonably healthy stuff - no more Uncle Ben's Sodium Bombs - even if my primary intake is still frozen entrees. I've discovered an exceedingly tasty line of frozen Indian food featuring organic ingredients and brown rice. Taj Foods Brand or something. They're nummers! Now if I could just quit potato chips - my latest nemesis are the Lays' brand garlic and herb flavor - and cheese, I would be all set...
Damn, damn, damn. I thought I could hold Rob off with just the bare-bones of Arachne's prelude, but it seems he would like the whole thing written out. Blast! I wonder if I'll actually do it... He's trying to lure me with XP, but not enough so as to actually make the effort of writing approximately ten pages worth the effort...