Thursday, June 15, 2006

Please be kind

As a miserable student of Spanish - I totally appreciate these Portuguese kids trying to make a video for their English class. But I am still gonna laugh my ass off at their mistakes.

The serious side of Fursday: Is Cute Funny?

Please read this article about cuteness in Japan. Please don't throw up when it comes to the part about "maid cafes". No wonder the their right-wing wants to crack down! Cute

Meatwad's got the gift

Apocalypse Pony! Hurrah!

Just 2 words- Robot Chicken.

Giant Virtual Cookie's got soul!

Alright kids- this is old school (even dirty old men like DeeK have a chance with this one).
One hint- he's your lover, he's your daddy. But that's in another song.

You know the deal- name the song and the artist and win the giant virtual cookie. Googling is cheating.

The aim of his role
Was to move a lot of blow
Ask him his dream
What does it mean?
He woudn't know
"Can't be like the rest"
Is the most he'll confess
But the time's running out
And there's no happiness

****Disclaimer- the cookie being an oreo this week has no cultural significance. I was just tired of smiley face cookies and there are not that many interesting cookie pics on google images*****

Fursday Funnies starts with a horrifying guilty pleasure

I am not a fan of most reality shows. I have never watched American Idol, or Survivor, or Dancing with the B-List Stars. However, the Kid has got me hooked on So You Think You Can Dance. The Kid thinks he can dance. He's still at that gawky phase where he looks more like he's being electrocuted and not moved by the music, most guys never get past that point.

So for Fursday Funnies I give you a mash up of bad dancing from So You Think You Can Dance.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Speaking of dehumanizing soldiers

I got this in my inbox today. How about we do all we can to keep this soldier from being dehumanized in a war based on lies.

Try the link in the title since the pic isn't working.

The dehumanizing force of war

I was going to write about how war dehumanizes the warriors as well as the victims. We've seen it with the photos of Abu Ghraib, the massacre at Haditha, the treatment of the Guantanamo suicides as a "publicity stunt" and now the idiotic video of a Marine singing "Hadji girl" about murdering an Iraqi family for fun.

So while I started to write this I went searching for quotes from Frederick Douglass about how slavery dehumanized white slave owners as well as slaves. I got sucked into reading A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass. And now I would rather read that than write something that is going to break my heart and disgust me about man's inhumanity to man. I know, I'm just going to read about it instead of writing about. But Frederick Douglass gives me hope. He had every reason to hate. Instead he fought injustice where ever he saw it, against blacks, against women, even against Catholics in Ireland.
I'm going to read this and see if I can arm myself with whatever it was Douglass used to keep himself from dehumanizing other people.

An Election Report from the Other Side

No, I'm not dead, nor can I reach into the nether realms and blog from there (a new blog in the making, I'm sure). No,I'm talking about those other humans, Republicans.
Here is what they think it will take to stay in control of Congress (from the Washington Post).

Okay, nothing earth shattering, but it adds information to our regular discussion about the upcoming election and returns us again to the role of the centrist voter. Please form your opinion. (Omigod, think for myself. Isnt' there someone on television who can do that for me?!).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Good news for evil smokers

Or at least ones who were blessed with non-wrinkly skin. I look exactly like Wonder's mom, my aunt. So I have a good idea what I'll look like 20 years from now and the news is good on both the wrinkle and the smoking front (she's got amazing wrinkle free skin and every time I see her I think 'damn I got the good genes'):

Middle-aged smokers with heavily lined faces have a five times higher risk of lung disease than their un-wrinkled peers, a study has suggested.

After age and the number of years someone had smoked were taken into account, smokers with lined faces were five times more likely to have COPD.

Facial wrinkling was also associated with triple the risk of more severe emphysema.

Kansas Republicans jump ship for Democrat's raft

from the LA Times
Parkinson became the third Republican politician in the last nine months to startle this red state by switching to the minority party. The other two are targeting GOP incumbents in the attorney general's office and in the state House of Representatives.
Anyone think this might be the work of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Bipartisan don't mean jack if it's doomed to fail

June 13,2006 | WASHINGTON -- In a surprise move, a House panel voted Tuesday for a hike in the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25, which would be the first increase in a decade.

First in a decade. Do you all remember how hard it was to get the last minimum wage hike passed? I don't either- it was a fuck of a long time though.

So at least they are getting the issue going in the House, but it will be stripped faster than Jeff Gannon on a porn site.

Happy mid-term election year- let's see how many more doomed to fail populist proposals get brought up and squashed.

When is a zygote a person

and does that question even have an answer? But more importantly- is it necessary to know when debating abortion? My answers are - we'll never know, probably not and no.

I told Jovial in comments that when is a zygote a person is a moot question. I should have explained it in more detail. So here goes.

When a zygote is no longer just a clump of cells doesn't matter at all in the abortion argument. It is a red herring thrown out as a distraction.

In any situation except for pregnancy, we allow people the freedom to choose to risk their own health, happiness and life in order to save the life of another. We do not force people to donate blood, or tissue, or kidneys. We do not require people to risk their lives to save another or face legal ramifications. We do not jail people who don' step in front of a bullet for someone else, or throw themselves into traffic to push someone out of the way of a speeding bus. We don't have a draft for the military (yet), or for the police force or fire department either. They are people who have chosen to risk risk their life for the benefit of others. We don't even force parents to donate blood or tissue or kidney or bone marrow to their own dying child- the parents get to choose if that is a risk they want to take.

It is up to each individual to decide if risking their life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is worth saving another person.

But not when it comes to pregnancy, though the situation is not any different than forcing someone to give a kidney to someone else. It doesn't matter if you think that it is a clump of cells or a baby from the moment the sperm hits the egg, because it is up to the person who is risking their life, liberty and happiness who gets to decide to take the risk to save a life (or carry a life in this case).

I know, this is a modern country and the risk of dying from pregnancy has been drastically reduced. But there is still a risk. There is also a risk in having an abortion. The only person who can make that choice, who can choose which risk they want to take, is the person who will suffer the effects of that choice.

Everyday a large number of women choose to take that risk and others don't. Some women have easy pregnancies. Some (me included) do not. Some women want children so badly that there is no risk they wouldn't take. Some don't want children (or more children- me included) and would rather risk the consequences of an abortion than a pregnancy and motherhood. That so many women choose to take that risk everyday does not negate the risk.

Now I know what some of you are thinking- a woman decides to have sex, if she didn't want to get pregnant she shouldn't have sex. Except that sex is a biological drive, and if women weren't meant to have sex except to reproduce, then women would only have orgasms when they are ovulating. We also have a biological urge to eat, yet when someone gets food poisoning we don't blame them for having a failure of discipline. If we eat so many times a day over the course of our lives, the likelihood of getting food poisoning at some point is pretty high. Same thing is true of sex and pregnancy, though only very lucky people get sex three times a day.

So the chances are that even with birth control, most women will get pregnant at some time in their lives. When that happens it is up to the woman to decide if risking her life, her health, her economic status and her liberty are worth the risk of having a child. When that clump of cells becomes a child is not the real issue, who gets the choice to take the risk is.

What do you know abaout a group called Grassroots Campaigns?

Well, i was browsing craigslist today in the tentative beginnings of a search for gainful employment (i clicked on the nonprofit section in the hopes that I might find something more interesting than the usual boring office jobs - or at least a boring office job for the common good) andI found this ad. Yes, I know this probably shows how incredibly ignorant i really am in all things progressive (or political for that matter - what can I say, i'm still more opinionated than informed- help me!)

Anyway what do y'all know about these folks? are they legitimate? effective?

Monday, June 12, 2006

A not so farewell to arms dealers

What kind of justice do people who sell arms to embargoed places deserve? A lot less than they actually get says this article.

Hello Ms. President?

Last Christmas I had an argument with a right wing, conservative, white, male veteran who was bemoaning that "no one represents people like me anymore, that's the problem with affirmative action" to which I responded " I think people like you have control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. What more representation do you need?"

Today there is an article in the NY Times called The Ascent of a Woman about the possibility of having a female president in the United States. The news doesn't look good and it sums up a few things that any feminist poly sci student could tell you.

1) A lot of female leaders in other countries are part of a dynasty. Their family's recognition helps voters get past the whole voting for a woman thing. Examples include Indira Gandhi and Corazon Aquino and Benazir Bhutto.

2) While we think that a female leader would be more liberal, the ones that actually get elected are considered unusually tough. Angela Merkel's father was part of the East German Stazi and Michelle Bachelet of Chile was Defense Minister. Hillary Clinton's pro-war stance may be an effort to prove she can be just as hawkish as the boys .

3) It is so much easier to get elected in a parliamentary system than a presidential one because it is the entire party that gets voted into office and then the party picks a leader. Once your party is in power passing legislation is a piece of cake compared to the American system.

4) A good pool of women with political experience just doesn't exist in this country. We are still massively under-represented in the House, Senate and Governors offices.

So Hillary may have some of these credentials- she is a Clinton and she is tough and she is a Senator who has White House experience (as First Lady) But her own party (me included) isn't really fond of her. Her run to the center appears much more like political pandering than her husband's centrist acts.

I'm sitting here trying to think of a female politician who I could vote for. My own two senators are out, Patty Murray is kinda inept and Maria Cantwell is also pro-war. Nancy Pelosi did the whole chicken-shit we won't impeach thing. Madeline Albright is tough and funny, she certainly has the international chops. But she can't run because she was born outside the US and there is that atrocious quote about the Iraq sanctions (that caused mass starvation in Iraq way before the war resulting in 500,000 Iraqi children dying) "Better 500,000 Iraqis than one American" or something to that effect.

Are there any female politicians you guys would be willing to vote into the White House? And why?

Politics and the Bible, Part II

In a recent post last week, I started a line of thought about beliefs and political ideals, noting that I have long believed God planned humanity to have a diversity of views. I didn’t think I would ever finish it, thinking nobody would care, but the topic seems to have stimulated discussion, so I’ll plug along.

I’m having second thoughts about my beliefs based on the idea that there might not be any grand theme in the Bible, and if there is, it is wrong. Not just that the Bible is not inspired in the infallible sense that fundamentalists use it to justify clinging to ancient superstitions, or that there is some great mysterious truth behind the myths, as liberals like to say -- just that it is a book created by well-meaning people trying to understand a confusing world.

I don’t want to bog down a blog billed as “cool” with theology, but it is clear reading the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) that a main theme is that God favored the Israelite people and planned to install them -- led by a prophet with the office of Messiah (Christ) -- as rulers of the earth. I imagine that thought would have comforted a people used to being attacked and forced into subservience by powerful empires.

Christianity teaches that the entire Bible was inspired, but it also teaches that the Jews were wrong because A) the Messiah is God and not a human and B) the real Kingdom is in “heaven” and not a political kingdom on earth. The problem is that the evidence inidicates that Jesus and his disciples clearly believed the Jewish ideas. Christian beliefs to the contrary can only be found by picking out odd verses from different books.

Taking the New Testament books as a whole, it is clear that Jesus and his disciples believed that they were going to be involved in the glorious return of God in their lifetime. In the beginning of the book of Acts, the resurrected Jesus teaches for 40 days about the coming kingdom, and the disciples only recorded question is “when?”

Peter said in his first book “the end is near” and Paul gave people practical tips for an ancient version of Y2K. In the books they wrote just before they died, they changed their tune. For example, in his second book, Peter said to ignore those who scoffed at the idea of the end of the world, even though such talk had been wrong. His famous explanation was that “a day with the Lord is like a thousand years,” evidence that spin is not a modern invention!

So does the Bible have any meaning today in political discourse? For all their faults, I believe fundamentalists do have a point -- if the Bible is not inspired, it is just another book produced by a bunch of Middle Easterners who reflected the culture of a primitive time. I can’t agree with their ability to explain away -- or ignore -- the mixture of slavery, polygamy, blood sacrifice, genocide, the death penalty for a wide variety of offenses such as homosexuality, oddball dietary laws and worship rituals. However, the fundamentalist view makes just as much sense as that of liberal Christians, who speak of a mystic truth behind what they see as well-written fables, but fables nonetheless.

This post is philosophical and not political -- that’s a topic for another day. Obviously, the history I provide here is very sketchy and my conclusion is thinking out loud. But maybe our task is to try and do justice and what is right for people and this planet without having to justify its adherence to the Bible.

Where to now my sweet fascist?

For a long time I had a big crush on Henry Rollins. This little clip of a letter from Henry to Ann Coulter just renewed my crush.

Today is a very good day

I just got back from a meeting with my anthropology professor and we had a damn good talk that included my making fun of the economics professor. I said something about how the econ prof was so sexist that the way he talked about his wife in class was "like she is the shiny prize he gets for being an asshole". It took the prof a good minute and a half to stop laughing, snorting really. It was great.

I also brought in a collage I made on fear as a part of American culture. He liked it enough that it is now proudly hanging on his office door. I may not be an artist who has sold anything- but at least I'm displayed somewhere.

Why the hell am I telling you all this. I have a favor to ask. Over the summer I am doing some writing for this proff on several books and a movie.. Because I am flat ass broke and saving every dollar i have so I don't have to beg on the streets of Cancun- I need 2 books. If anybody local has them to let me borrow- I will gladly trade you some of my books. Ever wanted to learn about Italian Marxists? Cultural Hegemony? Activist priests like the Berrigan Brothers? I've got some stuff on the Religious Right, the Zapatistas, lots and lots of political theory from people like Samuel Huntington and Wallerstien. Much much more!

The books I am looking for are Cruddy by Linda Barry and Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski.

Anyone- anyone?

Because Blogger Sucks

I'm posting this for Little Flower- he deserves all the credit.

The big debate in Democratic circles right now is focused on the best strategy for reclaiming Congress. If Dems get control of one branch of Congress, someone could stop the Bush empire from doing too much more damage to the country and possibly uncover some of the bodies, maybe literally.

So is it wise to move to the center or energize the base? Democratic Leadership Council clones, Republicans in sheep clothing and Beltway journalists unanimously advise the former. But that’s not the formula that took the GOP into power.

Here’s former Republican operative Allen Raymond, interviewed in the Boston Globe after a three-month stint in jail for jamming Democratic phone lines during the 2002 elections, helping John Sununu win a seat in the Senate:

``A lot of people look at politics and see it as the guy who wins is the guy who
unifies the most people," he said. ``I would disagree. I would say the candidate
who wins is the candidate who polarizes the right bloc of voters. You always
want to polarize somebody."
Raymond stressed that he was making no excuses for his role in the New Hampshire case; he pleaded guilty and told the judge he had done a ``bad thing." But he said he got caught up in an ultra-aggressive atmosphere in which he initially thought the decision to jam the phones ``pushed the envelope" but was legal. He also said he had been reluctant to turn down a prominent official of the RNC, fearing that would cost him future opportunities from an organization that was becoming increasingly ruthless.

``Republicans have treated campaigns and politics as a business, and now are
treating public policy as a business, looking for the types of returns that you
get in business, passing legislation that has huge ramifications for business,"
he said. ``It is very much being monetized, and the federal government is being
monetized under Republican majorities."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I haven't been on a feminst rant for a while

So just to make sure you boys don't forget- I thought I would pass along the Male Priviledge Checklist by Barry Deutsch at Alas, A Blog.

The Male Privilege Checklist
An Unabashed Imitation of an article by Peggy McIntosh

In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. McIntosh observes that whites in the U.S. are “taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” To illustrate these invisible systems, McIntosh wrote a list of 26 invisible privileges whites benefit from.

As McIntosh points out, men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men. In the spirit of McIntosh’s essay, I thought I’d compile a list similar to McIntosh’s, focusing on the invisible privileges benefiting men.

Since I first compiled it, the list has been posted several times on internet discussion groups. Very helpfully, many people have suggested additions to the checklist. More commonly, of course, critics (usually, but not exclusively, male) have pointed out men have disadvantages too - being drafted into the army, being expected to suppress emotions, and so on. These are indeed bad things - but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes. Pointing out that men are privileged in no way denies that sometimes bad things happen to men.

In the end, however, it is men and not women who make the most money; men and not women who dominate the government and the corporate boards; men and not women who dominate virtually all of the most powerful positions of society. And it is women and not men who suffer the most from intimate violence and rape; who are the most likely to be poor; who are, on the whole, given the short end of patriarchy’s stick. As Marilyn Frye has argued, while men are harmed by patriarchy, women are oppressed by it.

Several critics have also argued that the list somehow victimizes women. I disagree; pointing out problems is not the same as perpetuating them. It is not a “victimizing” position to acknowledge that injustice exists; on the contrary, without that acknowledgement it isn’t possible to fight injustice.

An internet acquaintance of mine once wrote, “The first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight (I think one or two of those will cover most of us) can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege.” This checklist is, I hope, a step towards helping men to give up the “first big privilege.”

The Male Privilege Checklist

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex - even though that might be true. (More).

3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).

8. I am not taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).

12. If I have children and pursue a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

14. Chances are my elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more likely this is to be true.

15. I can be somewhat sure that if I ask to see “the person in charge,” I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).

17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.

19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.

21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.

22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

24. If I have sex with a lot of people, it won’t make me an object of contempt or derision.

25. If I work in an office, I have the option of wearing a relatively value-neutral uniform that does not invite speculation about my sexuality or my gender conformity. (More).

26. My wardrobe and grooming are relatively cheap and consume little time. (More).

27. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).

28. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

29. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

30. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

31. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

32. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

33. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

34. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

35. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is usually pictured as being male.

36. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

37. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).

38. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she’ll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.

39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

40. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are much rarer.

41. On average, I am under less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).

42. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).

43. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”

44. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

45. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

Continuing on with the morality thread

There's been lots of discussion about what constitutes religion or morality, but maybe we should define what a morally ideal society would include. What's the line between an individual's personal freedom and their responsibility to society as a whole? Where is the line that science shouldn't cross- if there is one?

My personal ideal is choice- that we have the resources to make our own decisions and are free to choose how to live our own lives so long as it doesn't inhibit someone else from their own choice. And I'll add to it that the choice of an already existing person takes precedence over a potentially existing person.