Saturday, October 20, 2007

Whoever drives the machine...

Everyone is going on about who the nominees from each party are going to be for president.

I have my favorites, but the truth is I don't care which one ends up driving the party machine as long as the machine that wins is the one less likely to kill people. (Meaning the Dems of course)

Since I am a hopeful person, I want to think about the things that a Democratic legislature should push through ASAP after electing a Democratic president. It makes me happy (I know- current milquetoast crop of Dems- I'm talking to you Harry Reid!- probably can't find their ass with both hands, let alone show some fucking gumption - but without hope we are nothing)

Here's my off the top of my head list
  1. Get us out of Iraq as quickly and painlessly as possible
  2. Lift the Global Gag Rule
  3. Universal healthcare
  4. NIH funding of stem cell research
  5. Repeal the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy
  6. Repeal the Hyde amendment
  7. Protect net neutrality
  8. Clearly define torture and re-commit to being a country that does not use it
  9. Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine
  10. Repeal the Patriot act and any other measures that have been used to limit our constitutional rights under BushCo.
Like I said- this is just a quick list. Feel free to include anything else that might be missing in comments.

Also, since the republicans have been very good at framing arguments through the use of doublespeak- I am going to take a cue from them.

I will not be referring to the current war in Iraq as the Iraq War any longer. While it is a true technical name- I think we should all start calling it the Bush War. He started it, he wants to keep us in it, he wants it to be his great legacy, I think he should own it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fun with feminst history!

Emilie du Chatelet is who I want to be when I grow up.

She was brilliant, I mean scary off the charts brilliant as well as being a bit of a party girl. She was Voltaire's lover and they clashed over they way that energy is measured. Voltaire believed in Newton's method, du Chatelet believed in Leibniz. Eventually, du Chatelet set up an experiment to prove that Leibniz was correct (if you read Candide there are several references to Leibniz as Voltaire played out the disagreement on paper).

She spoke 5 languages. She sang opera. She threw fab theater parties. She studied math and philosophy and wrote books on physics. She took many lovers. She wrote the definitive French translation of Newton. She fenced and danced and gambled.

She died at 42 after giving birth, a birth that she was sure would kill her. If only they had birth control, who knows what else she could have done.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

But what about the families! The nuclear families!

Over on the Shakesville MRA thread that will never die is a lot of whining about how us evil feminists are DESTROYING THE FAMILY!

Wev. My family, for as many generations as I can count back, doesn't do too much of the nuclear family thing (with the exception of my Auntie Cate and Uncle Jim- but they are both pretty progressive egalitarian types). Maybe we're just big fat failures at the nuclear family thing, or maybe the Cherokee in us makes us more of a matrilineal family.

What I had always heard from my mom was that us Cherokee women got the house and the property. When you were done with a man, you sat his stuff on the steps and sent him back to his mama. I don't know how much of that is true, but it sure does seem like that's how we things (minus the whole owning property thing- we've been poor for a couple of generations).

Most of my family is still in North Carolina, which is a pretty big accomplishment considering the Trail of Tears marched so many people out to Oklahoma. From what I can tell through genealogy stuff, the Cherokee men just kinda disappeared off the family tree while the Cherokee women married Europeans. (Rumor is that the men went and lived in caves, but again these are just the stories I've heard). I can't fault them for using whatever survival methods they needed, but I do wonder if that is what pushed us throughly into poverty. Going from property owners and family leaders to property of husbands and baby machines is bound to have a cost, especially in a capitalist society where inheritance is the main force of social mobility.

So all this whining about the destruction of the "traditional" family leaves me a little bored. We went through the destruction of our type of traditional family over a century ago. I have no interest in a traditional marriage, though every now and then enough societal pressure builds up and I loose my head over a guy for a while, but I always come back to earth realizing how incredibly stupid a combination of me and marriage would be. It's like mixing ammonia and bleach.

The only benefit I can see in traditional marriage is financial. But I don't think that the price I would have to pay in loss of autonomy makes up for the financial gain (and I don't generally date poor or dumb unless they are really hot, so the financial gain would be considerable).

I guess what I'm trying to say is- who cares if the traditional family structure doesn't work? Other structures may work better.

So I installed Haloscan

And all of the comments have been eaten. Oops.

That kinda sucked.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

There are these phrases I keep thinking about, things that should mean what they are but end up being ways of silencing people by narrowing the frame of an argument.

Everybody knows that......

We can all agree that......

It's just common sense that......

One of my favorite political thinkers was Antonio Gramsci who came up with the theory of cultural hegemony. A shorthand explanation for it is that what is considered "common sense" is actually only common sense to the oppressing class but those ideas spread to everyone and serve to keep the oppressed quiet- you wouldn't want to look like some fool with no common sense by questioning something that is so well known. Really obvious examples are trickle down economics, raising the minimum wage reduces the number of jobs, outlawing abortions reduces the number of abortions.

It's that last one that has been making it's way around the internets since the Guttmacher study came out showing that making abortion illegal does not change the number of abortions sought, it just changes the safety of the abortions performed. Several big boys of the blogosphere have cried fowl because it doesn't conform with their idea of common sense. Why would women risk their life, health and freedom to have an abortion in a place where it's illegal? It does not compute for them. But then again, they have never been pregnant or even feared being pregnant themselves, so they cannot understand that the desire to not be pregnant is strong enough to outweigh the risks.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty tired of being told that my reality isn't based on common sense. My Cartesian common sense calls shenanigans on anyone who uses those phrases to frame an argument. In the Guttmacher study, it is pretty obvious that they did a gold standard investigation to deduce actual numbers instead of trying to gather numbers that conform with perception.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ra Ra Ra!

Sometimes I dream about moving somewhere like New York or London or Buenos Aires. And then I remember the Kid, and that part of the reason we live here is that Seattle (and Washington state) is fairly progressive and compared to cost of New York or London affordable.

Recently there's been a national brouhaha over whether to include trans people in LGBT anti-discrimination efforts. My opinion is that there is no such thing as too much inclusiveness. the more people we've got coming to the table, the better.

So today I read this story. Basic jist of the story is this- A kid wants to try out for the cheerleading squad which is open to both boys and girls, but the kid is listed as a boy on the birth certificate and wants to cheer as a girl. After a letter from the ACLU and a few other questions about transgendered athletes, and WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association) decides a policy needs to be adopted to include transgendered youth.

The good points: YAY! Trying to figure out an acceptable policy to include kids in sports who don't fit into the traditional gender binary! I hope Jai makes the squad this year.

(Disclaimer- I was a cheerleader, a bad-girl cheerleader who smoked and showed up to competitions still partly drunk. But I loved getting to dance and do gymnastic type stuff without having to starve myself into tininess like ballerinas or gymnasts. Oh and my squad was competitive and more highly ranked than the football team we cheered for- so all the haters that think it's not a sport can kiss my ass).

The bad points: these are children, not adults. Most have not had surgery because they are children. Using the Olympics rules seems like too high of a hurdle for kids.

I was also not fond of the pronoun use in the article itself. If Jai identifies as a girl- shouldn't she be called a she? I want to give Seattle Weekly the benefit of the doubt and I will hope that they asked Jai what pronoun to use, but I could be wrong.

But overall- yay for WA state for becoming the first state to decide that an inclusive policy is needed now. I don't have a transgendered kid, but I am happier knowing he goes to school in a place where beings trans is ok.

From this morning's press conference

Shorter Bush: Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. Democrats are slow. Won't give me what I want. Terrorism. We don't torture. This is a bully (pulpit).

Dammit- blogger is not letting me upload pics. Wah.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crap Email From A Dude

I so love this series at Jezebel!

I have been on the receiving end of oh-so-many of these. I should develop a standard response template.

Dear ____:

I am sorry you feel hurt. I do not return your feelings. I thought that by telling you that before and then never ever returning your emails, phone calls, text messages, etc. that you would get the point that I'm not in love with you.

You are now bordering on creepy stalker type behavior. Please stop.


Research papers

I have 2 research papers due this quarter. One is about the increasing rates of arrest of victim-defendants in domestic abuse situations. Not a fun paper to write- especially since it is supposed to include a synthesis of an event or situation in my own life. Digging that crap up and putting it on paper for a favorite professor to read has not been easy.

So for my second paper- I'm going with something snarky. I have decided to take a bunch of evo-psych, sociobiology crap that has been interpreted to keep women in their place (oh women prefer the color red- must be left over from those days of gathering red berries- that's why they are better grocery shoppers than men) and reinterpret it from a matriarchal view. Might almost be as good as the "8 Easy Ways to A U.S. Sponsored Coup" paper (that one was done in the style of an infomercial).

So anyone with a study they would like turned upside down in the snarkiest way possible should send me a link.

I need to stop being polite

One of the first classes I took when I went back to college was American Government. It was an easy class with a crazy-fabulous professor. He assigned us the African American History Calendar as part of our reading and was hands down the best person I have ever seen at taking down an idiot's arguments without the idiot realizing it (though everyone else did).

But all classes have problems. There was one day when a couple of Seattle police officers came to talk to the class about civil rights and explain miranda warnings. They were, as many officers are want to be, full of cock swagger and machismo. One of them asked, but never answered the question "Can you rape a whore?"

I raised my hand, but for some reason I give myself away when I'm about to tear someone a new one (might be the flaring nostrils and steam coming out of my ears). I still follow the rules of a polite society and raise my fucking hand, but I don't get called on. (This happens all the fucking time in my economics class- I think the proff knows I could tear his minimum wage arguments to bits in under 30 seconds) .

So I never got to comment on "Can you rape a whore?"

Apparently a judge in Pennsylvania has answered the question for me with a big giant NO. Even if the woman was held at gunpoint and gang raped- it's just theft of services.

I think I need a really big drink now.

Fun classroom conversations...

The scene- this evening, a group of students gearing up for our first physical anthropology exam. We are nervous. The exam review sheet is ROUGH. You know what happens when a group of people is collectively nervous?

Completely inappropriate ideas. Like instead of having a normal Halloween costume, how about a dirty, sweaty, sticky group meiosis party. Meiosis, for the non-sciencey is the technical term for cell division in sexual reproduction.

"I'm gonna come as a bitchy mitochondria diva!"

"Hey baby, can I replicate some proteins for ya?"

"Oh you naughty boy, I'm not gonna recombine my DNA with just anybody!"

And now I realize that my dorkiness is not nearly as well closeted as I imagined. What will I do if they find out I like trashy sci-fi TV shows? I am so gonna lose all my cool points.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

There is always that one guy

In every class, there is that one guy who takes over and derails the class into what he wants instead of what the class is trying to focus on. And that one guy is always always always a guy, women don't do that very often.

Ruth (a genius brainiac math major) and I were talking about that one guy the other night. The current guy driving her to distraction has been nicknamed "Hairlip" not because he has one but because she says "If you saw him, you'd understand". He likes to interrupt when other people ask questions in order to change the focus to him.

I don't have a nickname for the guy that's bugging me, but the way he derails my physical anthropology class every fucking time has started to get to me. The first night of class he made a comment about how "we all can agree that there are too many women having babies that they can't raise". Uhm - no we can't all agree on that.

As class has progressed, it's become really fucking obvious that this is a Nice GuyTM who is trying to find biological justification for why women won't fuck him. He derailed the class the other night to talk about how we are biologically programed to choose a mate and that studies have shown that women all over the world want men who are 3 to 5 years older than them and financially secure and that men want youth and beauty. The professor (god love him) tried to tell him that it might be culturally based and not biological, but the guy just kept screaming about studies in babies. I interrupted his rant. "All of those attributes are culturally determined, name one country in that study where women have greater economic power than men- name one. You can't and until women have economic power of course they are going to choose men with money over men with looks". He continued screaming about babies for a minute. Then we took a break (It's a 3 hour class).

Outside, a young woman, maybe 21 thanked me for interrupting the guy. Ruth, who interrupted Hairlip after another woman asked a question that Hairlip derailed, also got a thank you. Ruth and I both agreed that there was a sense of "fuck yeah" after finally getting the assholes to shut up for a second.

I wonder how long I can hold out until I just scream out in class that "the reason you're not getting laid is cause you're an asshole, not because of biology!" We'll see how it goes.