Saturday, April 22, 2006

More on It Can't Happen Here

Because I, of course, Blame The Patriarchy I thought I'd pass on this from Planned Parenthood via Twisty Faster.

An Indiana mother recently accompanied her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend to one of Indiana’s Planned Parenthood clinics, but they unwittingly walked into
a“crisis pregnancy center” run by an anti-abortion group — one that shared a
parking lot with the real Planned Parenthood clinic, and was designed
expressly to lure Planned Parenthood patients and deceive them.

The group took down the girl’s confidential personal information and told her to come back for her appointment, which they said would be in their “other office” (the real Planned Parenthood office nearby). When she arrived for her appointment, not only did the Planned Parenthood staff have no record of her, but the police were there — the “crisis pregnancy center” had called them, claiming that a minor was being forced to have an abortion against her will.

The “crisis pregnancy center” staff then proceeded to wage a campaign of intimidation and harassment over the following days, showing up at the girl’s home and calling her father’s workplace. Our clinic director reports that she was “scared to death to leave her house.” They even went to her school and urged classmates to pressure her not to have an abortion.

Behind the Story: The anti-choice movement is setting up so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” across the country. Some of them have neutral-sounding names and run ads that falsely promise the full range of reproductive health services, but dispense anti-choice propaganda and intimidation instead. And according to The New York Times, there are currently more of these centers in the U.S. than there are actual abortion providers! What’s more, these centers have received $60 million of government grants.They’re being funded by our tax dollars

On a side note, Dilettante has asked that I include something on shared household/childrearing duties from a feminist perspective. First, it's hard to be too worried over whose turn it is to do the dishes when you can't control your own body. Secondly I am probably the wrong person to talk about this because until recently I have had very little interest in sharing a household with anyone. I am the Red Queen after all- I don't like to share authority with anyone, but with that comes a certain expectation of responsibility. When I have had another adult around - things become fairly egalitarian though. For instance, my current partner and I are both fabulous cooks, so we trade off cooking responsibilities and Kid is learning how to wash dishes, so everyone contributes.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday Songlist

Just cause it's Friday and I had a professor love a paper so much that he wants a copy for himself (a paper that was mostly a cut and paste job of something I wrote here- how I love to plagerize myself). Since I am amused, I thought I would give y'all a songlist for your amusement. Feel free to post what you're listening to in comments.

  1. Elliot Smith: Son of Sam
  2. Gang of Four: To Hell with Poverty
  3. Death Cab for Cutie: Crooked Teeth
  4. Calexico: Crystal Frontier
  5. Arctic Monkeys: Fake Tales of San Fransisco
  6. White Stripes: Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine
  7. XTC: I'm the Man Who Murdered Love
  8. Julieta Venegas: Casa Abandonada
  9. Death Cab (again, I know, but Plans is a fantastic album) MArching Bands of Manhattan
  10. Cab Calloway: Congo

Baby Got Book

Follow the link above for a video that amused me a great deal. I don't know what's more fucked up...the video, or the fact that these people are serious.

The tragedy that followed Hillary Clinton's bombing of Iran in 2009

There's a kind of creepy future history/speculation in the Guardian.

"In retaliation, suicide bombers trained by Tehran massacred civilians in Tel Aviv, London and New York… Total casualties were estimated at around 10,000 dead and many more wounded. The attacks, which included the explosion of a so-called dirty bomb in London, were orchestrated by a Tehran-based organisation for "martyrdom-seeking operations" established in 2004.

Dr Patrick Smith of the Washington-based Committee for a Better World, which had long advocated bombing Iran, demanded of the critics: "What was your alternative?"

“Testing, testing?” Tap microphone, blow the dust off…

So the RQ has been doing all the heavy lifting of late, & I’ve been a slacker (shame on me). In any event, there is a great article in the NYT on Google & China with lots of interesting consideration of the new cult of technology in China, details the government’s approach to censorship, highlights some of the cultural differences, etc.

“Given how flexible computer code is, there are plenty of ways to distort the universe — to make its omissions more or less visible.”

Belatedly Fursday

Texas A&M College Republicans apparently saw no Irony in using this photo on their webpage...

'Nuff Said

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why I'm a feminist- and you should be too

There is this misconception about feminists that we think all men are rapists or we don't like men or sex or we're all non-shaving, anti-lipstick ugly girls who are just jealous of the pretty girls.

You all know me- I am more boy crazy than just about any girl (and most gay boys) than you'll ever meet. I'm also super-girly with a love of french perfume, high heels and red red lipstick. Though I have been accused of being a misandrist (opposite of misogynist for the vocab challenged) it is more that I recognize the benefits that white boys get and I refuse to respect them more for being born lucky.

But why I am a feminist is best summed up in this post by Blood on My Teeth

And that is why I’m a feminist. Not because I want to form some kind of gynocentric
enclave or forcibly castrate men
in retaliation for my lack of phallic power
(stupid Freud), but because I believe women. I believe women because
98% of the time we are not lying. And I know that the only thing that
separates me from a rape victim or battered wife is dumb fucking luck

I believe women too. Go read the whole post. Consider it required reading.

So you don't think it can happen here?

Ohio is looking to pass a bill that would not only make abortion a felony - but would criminalize getting one in another state. Before long, Ohio is going to require that women get written permission from husbands and fathers to travel- just like Saudi Arabia.

Bring on the burkas and arranged marriages.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Orleans+ Shanytowns= What exactly?

Alright you managed free markets, don't rebuild New Orleans folks- have you read An Economist Visits New Orleans in Slate today?

I think I'm just gonna leave y'all to read and comment. I'll jump in after I stop chewing off the insides of my cheek in frustration.

The Free Press in 1918

Wonder forwarded this article from the Times about Hilaire Belloc. The cranky little journals he writes about sure do sound like blogs to me too. Though the article's author (writing for the biggest paper in the country) is a bit biased in thinking that media nowadays has embraced the free press ideas that Belloc is talking about.

The Official Press, Belloc argues, is centralized and Capitalist (he always capitalizes Capitalist), and its owners are "the true governing power in the political machinery of the State, superior to the officials in the State, nominating ministers and dismissing them, imposing policies, and, in general, usurping sovereignty — all this secretly and without responsibility." The result "is that the mass of Englishmen have ceased to obtain, or even to expect, information upon the way they are governed."

Proof that I need to get a life

I give you videos for your enjoyment.

The first is a mash-up of the Fundie formerly known as GW and John Lennon's Imagine. It has Animal from the Muppets on drums- so you know it must be good. And be sure to play close attention to the line it's easy if you try. I nearly peed my pants on that one.

Then there's Jon Stewart on Rummy. I love Jon. I would have a hundred of his babies. Most of the straight boys I know would too- that is the size of their man-crushes.

Massachusetts Healthcare

In case y'all can't tell- I'm skipping class this morning and have been fueled by one strong pot o'coffee that The Kid made this morning. Wheeeeee- caffeine!

So it is in this hyper-fueled state of type that I give you the run down on the new Massachusetts law requiring healthcare for all. Is it a plan for actual universal coverage- absolutely not. Is it a law meant to push the state into readiness for actual universal coverage- maybe.

What the law does is penalize businesses that don't provide healthcare to employees with a fine that is much smaller than the actual cost of providing healthcare to those employees, and fines individuals who can afford health insurance but do not choose to get it (again- the fine is much lower than the actual cost of healthcare). It also provides premium subsidies to individuals who cannot afford health insurance.

The effect of this law is that businesses will quickly realize that it's cheaper to pay the fine than provide coverage and employer sponsored healthcare in Mass is going to go the way of the dinosaurs- leaving a huge pool of people without coverage. Those people who the state then deems able to afford coverage but are choosing not to be covered privately will pay fines. The winners under this law are the working poor who currently make too much to qualify for Medicaid- they will now be eligible for premium subsidies (though where the money for those subsidies is coming from is a mystery and is not clarified in the bill).

How does this push the state towards universal healthcare? All those people who used to be covered by employers but now are paying fines because their employer stopped providing insurance are gonna be the ones pushing for universal coverage that is actually universal and not tied to an employer. It does set up an expectation of coverage and a means for collecting funds to cover a universal program as well as the beginning of a sliding scale system for premium payments.

More links-
The Boston Channel
The Christian Science Monitor
PBS Newshour

And for the global warning disbelievers

Damn I wish I had Times Select. I also wish I had a subscription to Le Monde Diplomatique and the Economist, but I can read those online through my work for free. But not Times Select. So fellow bloggers you will have to be content with second hand content (but hey- we're all members of the underclass- second hand is hipster cool)

From Rox Populi

Krugman on Exxon Mobil:

A leaked memo from a 1998 meeting at the American Petroleum Institute, in which
Exxon (which hadn't yet merged with Mobil) was a participant, describes a
strategy of providing "logistical and moral support" to climate change
dissenters, "thereby raising questions about and undercutting the 'prevailing
scientific wisdom.' " And that's just what Exxon Mobil has done: lavish grants
have supported a sort of alternative intellectual universe of global warming

The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in
climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco
Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find
evidence of harmful effects.

But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics — a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil — roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.

Has Exxon Mobil's war on climate science actually changed policy for the worse? Maybe not. Although most governments have done little to curb greenhouse gases, and the Bush administration has done nothing, it's not clear that policies would have been any better even if Exxon Mobil had acted more responsibly.

But the fact is that whatever small chance there was of action to limit global warming became even smaller because Exxon Mobil chose to protect its profits by trashing good science. And that, not the paycheck, is the real scandal of Mr. Raymond's reign as Exxon Mobil's chief executive.

It ain't all bad news

From the AP: Black owned businesses grow at four times the rate of others

But because I am all about fair and balanced, The Chicago Tribune points out the the government is falling short on providing contracts to woman owned businesses.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Single Sex Classrooms?

According to this article in the Tampa Tribune, some public schools are placing boys and girls in separate classrooms.
Advocates belief single-sex classrooms help teachers to meet the needs of each more effectively because of differences in brain development and learning styles between boys and girls, or because boys and girls distract each other.
Opponents think that differences in boys' and girls' brains are overstated, and that separating the sexes amounts to discrimination.

Here's another article from Newsweek, this one's a little older.

I admit I haven't done my homework (pardon the pun) on this one... This is one where I think the "truth" may be somewhere in the middle, but I won't venture more of an opinion than that at the moment.

I would like to know if anyone out there has facts, opinions, experiences?

And Iran, Iran so far away...........

Sorry, but I had to use the punny title.

It's nice to see that not just Le Monde is reporting that Iran is enriching uranium for use in power stations, but Reuters has (mildly) as well.

The revelations came one week after Iran announced it had enriched uranium for use in power stations for the first time, stoking a diplomatic row over Western suspicions of a covert Iranian atomic bomb project. Iran says it seeks nuclear power.

Le Monde Diplomatique
went into much more detail about how signatories to the non proliferation treaty have a right to enrich uranium for nuclear power purposes (which is what Iran is doing)

First, we should note the technical details of the nuclear fuel cycle. Uranium is sold all over the world as yellowcake, which typically contains 70%-90% uranium oxide. It is then purified to obtain uranium hexafluoride. Iran already carries out these transformations under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The final stage is known as enrichment, a process that generates a sufficient amount (3%) of one isotope, uranium 235, to produce nuclear power. To be used in a weapon, the proportion has to reach 90% U-235. Article IV of the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons (better known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT) guarantees the “inalienable right of all the parties to the treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”. Signatory countries have the right to enrich uranium.

After Tehran agreed to implement the NPT’s additional protocol (which allows the IAEA to carry out more intrusive inspections), an IAEA report did find that Iran had failed in the past to report “nuclear material, its processing and use, as well as the declaration of facilities where such material had been processed and stored”. But subsequent IAEA reports stated that Iran had taken “corrective actions” about many of the failures, and that “good progress has been made in Iran’s correction of breaches”. The remaining unresolved issues would be “followed up as a routine safeguard implementation matter”. The Iranians blame US obstructionism for making them resort to secrecy in obtaining technology to which they were entitled under the NPT (6).
In March 2005 the New York Times reported that an intelligence review commission report to President Bush had described US intelligence on Iran as “inadequate to allow firm judgments about Iran’s weapons programs” (8). Despite almost three years of intensive inspections under the additional protocol, the IAEA has yet to find any evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran.
Iran presents a convenient opportunity to set a precedent to be used against other aspirants for nuclear power in the developing world. That is why Ahmadinejad was denounced as an uncompromising hardliner in the coverage of his UN presentation. But he did in fact suggest a compromise deal. While defending Iran’s sovereign right to produce nuclear power using indigenously enriched uranium, and enumerating the reasons why Iran cannot rely on promises of foreign-supplied reactor fuel to power its economy, he proposed to operate Iran’s enrichment programme as joint ventures with private and public sector firms from other countries, to ensure that the programme remained transparent and could not be secretly diverted for military purposes. This was no small offer. It closely resembled a proposal previously put to the IAEA by a committee of experts looking into the risk that nuclear technology developed for peaceful purposes might be diverted to non-peaceful uses (12).
Instead of discussing this proposal, or looking for any workable solution, US, Israeli and EU officials continue to insist that the only acceptable objective guarantee of non-proliferation is to close what they describe as the loophole in Article IV of the treaty. These countries want to see the article re-interpreted to deny developing nations the right to indigenous nuclear enrichment technology.

I know I'm pasting most of the damn article (can't do the whole thing without permission and the site is for those who are registered only- sorry). Really, it is worth reading to get a whole different perspective on the issue. Besides, it's nice to read real news instead of scary threat speak from the press-release readers.

What the hell?

So a guy in Ohio, Jeff Goff has been convicted in of impregnating his stepdaughter with a syringe when his wife could no longer get pregnant. In an interesting twist of fate, he was prosecuted under a law he lobbied for after the same stepdaughter was molested by someone else. The original law stated that it wasn't rape unless there was intercourse. Because he used a syringe (instead of a penis) to knock up his stepdaughter, he is now going to serve a sentence for sexual battery. That's what you get for turning your 16 year old into a baby factory. Thankfully, the girl's mother was also sentenced to 3 years for the crime, though she only served 8 months of it.

Full story here

Feminist Cred

Today, in my anthropology class, I lost some of my feminist cred. We have to pick from 3 books to have a group discussion on: Fast Food Nation (which I already own and don't want to discuss ad nauseum again), Under the Banner of Heaven(about the history of violence in the Mormon religion) and Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class.

I picked Under the Banner of Heaven and finished reading it before it was actually assigned. It was a terrifying breakdown of how fundamentalists think God's laws justify murder and violence towards those that are not on their side. It applies to all fundies, not just Mormons. But my little book report will have to come later because this is not the point of this post.

In class we had to do a show of hands about what books people wanted to read. Half went for Fast Food Nation, half to Under the Banner of Heaven, and exactly one person (girl) raised their hand for Without a Net. One person in the most liberal of disciplines in a very liberal community college full of working class kids. One. And it wasn't me.

To be honest, the topic didn't appeal to me cause I live it everyday. Like I need someone to point out to me about the feminization of poverty. But my lack of interest is not singular and at least half the class is made up of boys to whom this would be a new topic.

So how can I yell at you boys for not taking an interest in something I can't even take an interest in? I can't (sort of- I'll yell anyways just cause I like to).

The real question then is what will it take for you boys to get into the topic? This is a real question and I would love if you would post in comments why you feel ambivalent about topics that are usually seen as the domain of girls.

Come on boys- you know you wanna write.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Email forward- Iran

Subject: Help stop war with Iran

You may have seen reports in the news that the Bush administration may be planning a nuclear attack against Iran. This is alarming. A strong statement of opposition from the American public before that idea becomes credible is important. Please sign's petition against nuclear attack and then alert your friends, family and colleagues by asking them to sign the petition.


If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him! If you meet the patriarchs or the arhats on your way, kill them too... Bodhidharma was an old bearded barbarian... Nirvana and Bodhi are dead stumps to tie your donkey to. The sacred teachings are only lists of ghosts, sheets of paper fit for wiping the pus from your boils.-Lin-chi

For the haughty art types

Cat and Girl on Magritte.

Global Warming: A Useless Argument

The argument over whether or not there is Global Warming(GW)is useless. It is already here. It is not something that will appear in a few years, we'll deal with when it gets here. It is here, NOW. Katrina like hurrianes will appear regularly, not every so often. This means we need to make decisions that match reality. I brought this up in the "New Orleans" post; if you know that you will get a Category 4 or 5 every 1-5 years in an area on the coast, below sea level is rebuilding woth the investment? We face many similar circumstances on a wider scale.

Two pieces of evidence show the argument is moot, The first is the battle over dominion in the Arctic; any country who borders the area is trying to stake claims to sea-lanes. Why? Because they know the ice is melting and unnavigable areas will open up. Nations do not invest so much for a "maybe". Secondly, the co-insurers, the ones that insure the insurance companies, have already invested enough money to cover major perctange losses on the Gulf Coast and around Cape Cod. Why? Because all evidence points to these areas being lost. Again, not an "if", but a when.

So the discussion shouldn't be about solar panels and super-hybrids. Those are possibilities that may prove valuable later. What we need to address is who gets screwed when land becomes useless, water becomes undrinkable and clean air becomes regional. Katrina proved that our government performs poorly in distasters we expect, especially among the poor, how do you think they will perform when two three category 4 or 5s hit near the same time? Seeing last year's debacle, I would expect a similar result. How can we give ourselves a better chance? By realizing our situation and calling for better preparation.

Taking that information to the next step. In the who get's screwed department, in a world where rich countries already dump their problems on the poor (even in their own nations), who do think will get the short stick? Going to Africa to create jobs becomes a ridiculous comment when what the industrialized world does to the environment now diminishes Africa's ability to suppport life. That's why solving the GW problem helps everyone; no one is isolated and all contribute to it to some degree. Reducing impact improves all our chances no matter present economic inequalities.

Lastly, contention that "science was wrong on climate change before, why should we trust it now?", is nothing but whitewash. Science was wrong about eugenics. Yet similar work brought a deep knowledge of DNA to the point where it is an everyday phenomenon. Science, especially these days with its companion, computing technology, means its predicitive ability gets better all the time. Not many question what the Hubble Telescope tells us about the universe almost weekly. Climatology is under question because it is a politcal hot-potato; critics don't like the answer so they challenge the results. In the last couple of years, however, climate science keeps filling in the details, erasing doubt. At this point anyone who questions the science is not looking at the facts; they're irrefutable. As I pointed out before, the claim for Arctic sea-lanes and insurance companies' projection should spur us to move to a more meaningful discussion.

But as much as we now depend on science, it is not the answer to ending human-made impact. Lifestyle and expectation change will produce the best results. Cities and states all over the planet already recognize the problem and are slowly introducing programs and legislation to address it. Yes, many different technologies that reduce greenhouse omissions exist and may work, but a single solution to ending our effect on the atmosphere is impractical. Instead, changing how we live and what we expect will add up to the many small changes we need. Science did not, by itself, create the situation, nor will it solve it.

More on the environment

Just to move the discussion out of comments and into the main page. Regarding the argument that "The risk of overestimating climate change can hurt lots of people, who may be made waste resources on installing yet inefficient solar panels, give up cars, or live in crumpled apartments."
Wasting resources is bad- but cars and crumpled (did you mean cramped) apartments are inconveniences, not life threatening conditions. Besides, technology never advances without some original waste of resources- that's why the price of electronics comes down so fast after initial introduction to the market.
Mephistopheles mentioned an article he read about how to make hybrid cars super efficient (to the point where only a tank of gas would be needed per month) by using super-efficient batteries that actually store electricity for the power companies during off peak hours. (I'll see if I can get him to post the link- since I'm just spouting his regurgitation of the article)
If we couple that kind of battery efficiency with a switch from petroleum gas to biodiesel made from switch grass (and stopped subsidizing ethanol and the corn farmers) we end up with a system that is better for the environment and massively decreases our dependence on foreign oil. Sounds like a win all around though there is an initial cost in investment to make switch grass refining more efficient.

Happy Easter

I totally cribed this from Shakespeare's Sister- but Happy Easter anyways!