Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The mystery of the economics pie

The pie metaphor is a favorite with economists. "The pie is only so big" they say.

They mean there is only so much of a resource. We can't give away something that doesn't exist.

But that metaphor fails to answer some super key questions.

1) Who made the damn pie? Certainly it wasn't economists or bankers or rich folks or professors or politicians out there breaking their backs to harvest the wheat that made the crust or the fruit that makes the filing. They've never gotten their hands dirty making the actual fucking pie, now have they? Sure, they've pushed around papers. But that is the pie eating equivalent of tucking their napkin into their shirt, not making the pie.

2) Humans are remarkably good at making the pie bigger when they need to. In darwinian speak this is called adaptation. When we run out of one kind of pie, we make another kind. Oh look, it's winter and there are no fricken berries for a pie, I guess I'll make pumpkin instead. Adaptation is why we have things like clothing and houses and the internet and language after all. But we can't make pies that feed everyone? We deserve extinction if we really are that stupid.

3) Why does the pie get divided unevenly to begin with? Who fucking cuts a pie like that? It is easier and way more efficient to cut the pie into equal sized pieces than it is to cut out a tiny slice for the poor folks and hand the rest of the pie over to the rich.

4) What if you hate pie? I hate pie. I am on team cake. You know the thing about cake- you can make way bigger than you can pies. At least I think so.

This ridiculous little exercise has been meant to show you that 1) economists are mostly self righteous asswipes who don't understand the value of cake, 2) question everything, just because a bunch of douchenozzles has been saying the same thing for 300 years doesn't make them right, 3) the longer I am away from the internet the less respect I have for the learned class.

Next time you might get a super bitchy screed on how the "creative class" is made up of a bunch of fauxgressive fucksticks who wouldn't know how to creatively problem solve their way out of a paper bag.

Shoplifters of the World

unite and take a bow.

In honor of this post at StumpLane I was going to post a video of the fabulous Smith's song.

But the fricken rural library thinks Youtube is the work of the devil and has blocked access. They also hate chat programs and small kittens, so I am told.

So here's a link instead. Go get the song stuck in your head and then head out to your nearest big box store and steal me something useful. Like internet access that doesn't suck or an easy to use commenting platform or a laptop that I don't have to liberate (i/e steal) from an equally poverty ridden relative. Or even just dinner. I am dying to make my world famous chicken wings, or tuna salad, or something.

While I was out....

We have always been at war with east no west no all of Asia. And now we are bombing Yemen and independent reports say that there is no way to get out of Afghanistan in 18 months.

A dude without a passport, whose own dad has warned the authorities that his son is a danger, tries to blow up a plane over Detroit (really- like the Motor city doesn't have enough problems)and only fails because of dumb fucking luck. Seriously folks?

I won't even get into the debacle that is health care reform, except to say that every word in "health care reform" is a misnomer.

I did read a really good mystery novel called "Origin". And I had a good dream last night for the first time in forever. Of course then I got up and trekked with Wonder to the Anti-social Insecurity office at the crack of ass after Other Cousin used ALL the fricken hot water for her shower. 80 gallon hot water tank, people, and I'm taking a cold shower.

So I stole Other Cousin's lappy and made for the free library wi-fi to figure out this
whole comment change over bruhahah. And fuckles my friends.

First- Echo won't even open comments on the library wifi. So I can't really go installing a platform that I- blog mistress extrodinaire, cannot use.

So maybe Disqus or IntenseDebate will work? But both require a serious commitment to internet time (like an entire days worth) and some code monkeying in order to import comments from haloscan.

And I have like 2 days to figure out wtf I am going to do now. Seriously- I need a code monkey. Usually I crunch through this shit on my own but I simply do not have the kind of computer access I need to be doing major blog overhauls at the moment. Help me code monkeys, you're my only hope?


So my little chicadees, what's news with you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Talk Amongst Yourselves

So the compy that i have been boring from my so gracious relatives is blue screening. I've reinstalled and reinstalled and reinstalled the evil operating system that shall not be named. Still I am thwarted.

So here I am, on the PUBLIC library computer with a big scary countdown clock telling me I have only 43 minutes remaining of compy time. I cannot write like this.

If I had been able to lug ye olde laptop of doom into the free wifi space - you all would have gotten a bit of writing about the importance of action over ideas and how we will never get meaningful reform of anything without serious threat of revolution. It just never happens without the PTB having the shit scared out of them by the rioting pitchforkers.

But I am not Jack Bowers. I do not do my best work with a fricken clock counting down the minutes to certain destruction.

So enjoy the holidays. Maybe the terrifying god Santa and his vicious Claws will see fit to grant me the ability to install the drivers and applications that are missing on ye old laptop. Maybe Windows will suddenly become sentient and realize that for it to survive it must keep it's hosts (humans) from attacking it's habitat with an axe?


Or maybe I am going to decide that coconut rum and coke slushies (yes- slushies) are the only way to get through anything.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Like I said in comments

and previously on Twitter*

People don't like it when poor people write about poverty. We can't possibly be the experts on our own lives.

It's not the same thing, having poor people write about their condition, as it is having women write about feminism or POC writing about racism or PWD writing about abelism.

I think the reason for this is that everyone likes to think they KNOW what poverty feels like. Everyone except the highest ups has had that period where money was tight and Mac and Cheese was the only thing on the menu (or Top Ramen cause milk and butter for Mac and Cheese is expensive).

But this is generally a temporary situation while in school or between jobs or just after divorce. There is still hope of better things to come. There is a way out, sooner or later.

Real poverty is hopeless. It is the elimination of choices. It is being the stupid rat in a maze without a door to the cheese. It is a pit of despair with no way out.

So I ask myself, when reading other people who write about poverty, does this person know what the fuck they are talking about? Are they coming from a place of privilege, oblivious to the realities but trying desperately to sound like they care, or do they know, they way I do, what it feels like to have the Welfare office question your living arrangements to make sure you aren't hiding a boyfriend with a paycheck so you can get food stamps for your kid?

This doesn't mean the non-poor can't be allies, but it does mean that they should sit down, shut up and listen real hard when an actual poor person tells them they're wrong. Just like with all the other isms. It's an oppression folks, and the people who understand it best are the oppressed.

*You trying writing several thousand posts over the course of many years and see if you don't become a fricken broken record.

In the end

all that will be left of health care reform is a mandate to buy health insurance.

No single payer, no public option, no medicare expansion. No affordability, or price controls, or end to cherry picking.

Just a mandate to buy a flawed product from corrupt companies that have no interest in health or care.

There's some change for ya. I never thought I'd say it, but at least Bushco didn't want to charge those of us without health insurance for the privilege of not having to deal with the insurance companies.

Techie Help Por Favor

So Haloscan is going away. I have 13 days to either pay the 10 bucks to keep my comments and transfer them to something called echo or find another free comment plugin that will let me import all the old haloscan comments. Not having internet access means I can't spend the required hours searching the interwebs and reading reviews and playing with the template to find a new platform.

So peeps- advice, suggestions? Do you use a free commenting service that you like? Anyone using Echo? Is it worth the $10 (please remember that my income this month is about $100 - so $10 is ALOT of fricken money).

Things I like about haloscan- the power of the edit. I like being able to replace dickweed's misogynist comments with songs about their tiny penii. I like that when the internet is gone away I can check haloscan comments on my phone (though i can't comment back on my phone)so even when I'm lost in space I can see what you all are saying.

Things I don't like- the totes anonymous nature of it. No screen name required, no email required.

Friday, December 11, 2009

w00t w00t!

You darling peeps and your vote clicking got me the 3rd highest number o'votes in the 3 Quarks Daily best political writing contest.

And fan girl me is all "OMG- Tariq Ali is gonna read my post!" (Well maybe- 3Quarks Daily is picking 6 to 9 posts of the top 20 to forward to him, but I gotta hope that the voting influences it a wee bit.)

You peeps rock the casbah. Many many many thanks.

The Spectacle Buries The Lead

So here in the land of no internet I have had to resort to such old fashioned methods as newspaper reading and talking head watching to get the news.

In the local paper the there were 2 stories recently.

Story 1: (not local) a man lies in an emergency room waiting room for 90 minutes. During that time 3 homeless people steal his watch. The man dies.

Story 2: (local) A police car pulls up to a a car wash late one night to find 3 kids (a 15 year old boy, a 13 year old boy, and a 12 year old girl) trying to rip off a vending machine. The police officer chases them, and tries to TASER the 15 year old and the girl runs to where her mom is parked.

The mom is single.

The family is black.

They are poor and the mom is unemployed.

The entire family is arrested and charged with grand larceny, including the mother. Yes, they are charging a 12 year old with grand larceny.

What is the purpose of these stories? It is to reinforce the idea that stealing is bad. Common sense right- stealing bad, not stealing good.

Common sense for who though?

For the 3 homeless people who stole the watch, common sense is finding a way to eat that night. A dying man's watch might provide it.

For the family? I can think of several reasons those kids might have been out trying to steal from a vending machine, one not terribly noble but common one. I was a kid once, what kid hasn't tried to rip off a vending machine or tried to shoplift a lipstick. Kids are kids because they don't have the fully functional brains of adults.

The other reason is tragic.They are poor. Their mother isn't working. They are hungry, or the lights have been shut off, or the rent is due, and the easy money from a vending machine seems like temporary relief.

But the spectacle says "Stealing is bad".

What is stealing? Stealing is about property rights, ownership, control of resources. If you steal a little, common sense says you are bad, not deserving of human rights. You are a scared black teenager who deserves to be tasered for committing a horrible crime on an inanimate object.

Nature disagrees. Nature tells us to survive. However you can, you must survive.

We ignore the human issues. We ignore that a man lay dying in an emergency room for 90 minutes while havering a heart attack and being ignored by the doctors and nurses. We ignore that because his property rights are more important than his life. Should we ask him? Would you trade that watch sir, in exchange for life?

We ignore the poor hungry family, the violence of an officer of the state against a child committing a crime so small that most of us did something similar. A crime that hurt not a single living being. We ignore that those kids whose lives were awful before the vending machine incident have now lost each other, and their mother, and their freedom.

This is common sense. Stealing is bad. Well stealing small things like a watch, change from a vending machine, a couple hundred bucks from a convenience store is bad. Steal big, extort a couple hundred billion from the federal government or a pension plan, or electricity customers and you get bonuses. Property rights before human rights. Property rights for only those who own enough property.

This is the spectacle. This is not real.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

We have always been at war with East Asia

The thing about Afghanistan is that it's damn near impossible for an outside force to take it. India gave up on it long ago. You know what the name of the mountain range Hindu Kush means? Killer of Hinuds. The Brits couldn't do it at the height of empire. The Soviets failed.

Now I may be skipping the Roman empire- I don't know that they even tried for it, but the only successful occupation of Afghanistan that I know of was Persia under Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes and that was because of the fundy Zoroastrians in Bactria.

So forgive me if I am just a wee bit skeptical that this whole increase troops to decrease troops strategy will work, or the idea that to save Pakistan we have to conquer Afghanistan I mean the Taliban.

History is on my side, after all.

What I would do, if I was queen for a day- would be to pay for every girl between the ages of 8 and 18 to go to boarding schools where they would learn practical skills like medicine, engineering, etc. I would pay their families for the loss of their manual labor. I would send the boys to school too, but I wouldn't send them to a boarding school(boys don't need to worry about acid attacks to the face just for learning how to read).

Within a generation you would have educated women with earning power and the ability to choose a husband with liberal ideas or support herself and her family without a husband. Those men who hold dear to ideas of honor killings and child brides will find themselves without anyone to marry, and without anyone to marry they have no sons and no power.

That's how you kill the Taliban and other fundy, extremest religions (works for the polygamists in Utah too). Not with guns, but with school.

And if you want to save Pakistan- I suggest the same methods there.


Did that sound bitchy and demanding-oops.

Being off the intertubes- I couldn't tell you all to GO VOTE FOR ME at 3 Quarks Daily. Voting ends tomorrow December 9th. I could so use the 1000 bucks, see post below.

See the list of nominees here and go vote- vote early, vote often. Baby needs new shoes and all that.

It's that most bleggiful time of the year

You may (or may not) have noticed my recent disappearance from the intertubes (again).

My lovely family has been footing the entire cost of housing and feeding us for the last 3 months. We are not a cost neutral addition to an already pinched household.And the internet is an expense they didn't have before we got here. They've already got a house they are trying to save from foreclosure (think predatory lending + one of the few homes that isn't upside in a mortgage in the state of Florida and you can understand why a bank might be keen to get it from them)and more out of pocket medial expenses than you can shake a stick at. It's bad, but they took us in anyways.

I need help, to buy groceries, to pay the internet bill and get it turned back on, to play Santa Claus for the kid and for these people who took us when we had no where else to go. I also need the internet back on so I can find work. There isn't a lot of it out there, but what I am qualified for requires me to apply online.

So if you've got some spare kibble- please throw it in the donation box.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Coining words-assistance please

The other day the Auntie was talking about the movie The Burning Bed. I have not seen it, but it made me think of In the Bedroom which was a great but horrible movie.

I am a big fan of the great but horrible movies, they are probably my favorite genre. These are movies that you NEED to see, that have important messages or give a concrete image to something horrific, that make you think and squirm and feel uncomfortable, but are well crafted, excellently acted and just incredible. Movies like Sophie Scholl: The Last Days or 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

We need a word or a phrase for the great but horrible movies. Help me out people? And please feel free to leave your favorite great but horrible movies in the comments.

On that note- I just watched The Last Enemy on Hulu last night and thought it was pretty good.

Monday, November 30, 2009

But you're not one of THOSE types

I'm still working on figuring out the structure of oppression. Once you can see the structure, you can break the structure. You can find it's weak points.

Today I am thinking about stereotypes and exceptionalism. Every group has its negative stereotypes AND an idealized form attached to it. For PWD it's the scam artist who is just trying to take our tax dollars vs the super crip who does everything perfectly well while still maintaining a demeanor of irrepressible optimism and cheer. For moms it's the Welfare queen with her 6 baby daddies vs SuperMom (now only available in hot bikini version).

Pick a marginalized group- any marginalized group. Think about it for a bit and you'll find the dichotomy. Be this, or be that.

This is part of the spectacle. For those of us who don't fall under default personhood (i.e white, cis, het, TAB, educated, wealthy and male)we have the choice of striving for the best we can do without those qualities- i/e the ideal form of SuperMom or Super Crip, or Articulate Black Man, or we become part of the stereotype.

Here's the thing though, we can never be the ideal. (See recent edition of bikini ready hot bod for new moms to the prereqs for SuperMomhood). And maybe we even fit some of the "negative" stereotypes of our group. I am, after all, a hairy legged feminist. I am a poor woman who would have had children by several different men if it weren't for the awesomeness that is abortion access. I have been and will probably be again soon on welfare.

Even for those born into the super privileged class, there is an impossible to meet ideal that changes just as soon people figure out the easiest way to obtain it. (See the rise in beauty products marketed to men). It is how the spectacle/kyriarchy keeps us working to "improve" ourselves instead of taking a good look around and working to fix our fucked up system.

But the negative stereotype is just as false. Even though we may embrace some aspects of the stereotype(like WTF is wrong with black folks like watermelon and fried chicken? Why does it matter to anyone if I shave my legs? )I have yet to meet an actual walking, breathing, fully realized negative stereotype. I have not met a caddy driving Welfare queen, and I have sat in many many welfare offices. I have seen PWD who receive Social Security from a system they paid into with hard work and people who should totally be able to receive it but can't because their disabilities are invisible. I've never met a TAB person who was getting a check for a non-existent disability, but if I did, by definition they wouldn't count as a PWD (being TAB and all) but as an asshole.

This system of positive and negative that we live within is false. It doesn't exist, even though occasional examples may fall onto one side or the other. What we have is a system of images pressed into our minds that have little relation to reality, but where every single slight dip into stereotype is used as proof to reinforce the spectacle and make us ignore the reality in front of us.

The title of this post comes from a sentence I've heard spoken to me over and over and over. "You're not one of those types of single mom, poor person, feminist" whatever. And it's funny because each of us can think of examples of people we like that don't fall into "those types". The gay man who loves football more than interior design, the lipstick lesbian in high heels, the PWD who isn't faking for attention or cash, the Asian who is bad at math and good at driving, the feminists who love men.

It is just one more way we divide ourselves up into deserving or other, in or out, right or wrong. But it's not real.

(ETA- this post was written at 8am. I have not yet been to sleep. Any unclear sentiments or typos should be blamed squarely on the gods of insomnia. Good night)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

That's it- I'm moving to Denmark

FTR- I can't stand Oprah's OMG you don't believe in religion schtick, or her belief that positive thinking is all it takes to get what you want. So it's kinda nice to see her brain boggled by a bunch of civilized socialists.

Here's a radical thought

Remember when I told you all that Wonder and I had been talking and I couldn't think of a single grown woman I know who doesn't have some depression/anxiety problem?

Perhaps that is just the natural consequence of our brains having too many synaptic fires while trying to hold onto the idea of the spectacle while also being confronted daily with it's falseness.

If depression is not pessimism but realism, then depression is what happens when we see the world for what it is and realize how utterly powerless we are to change it for ourselves (meaning in each individual case, not that the world is unchangeable).

I know that is a huge part of it for me. I know I have enough education and thoughtfulness and understanding to see how the world works, but that also means that I see how utterly powerless I am to make it better for me and the Kid. (I have joked that I have enough education to see the system and how it all works, but not enough education to make any of that knowledge profitable). I can write here, and hopefully sometimes it makes it better or easier for someone out there to see it too, or at least to feel less alone as a hunk of meat in the ever churning sausage factory that is the modern world. That is good, great even, but doesn't do anything to stop the daily fear of how are we just going to survive, put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads.

I think that explains why women, and particularly poor women, suffer from mental illness at higher rates than men. Having that oppression check on the kyriarchy means that we start seeing the truth from the lie very early and have to come up with ever more elaborate ruses to trick ourselves into disbelief. From the first time we're catcalled (I was 10 I think) or groped (6 or 7) we realize that being a good girl has nothing to do with whether or not you'll be bothered by men.

Or maybe it's just me who is depressed not because of anything particularly personal but because THE ENTIRE WORLD SUCKS ASS!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Happy Thanksgiving Thought

Many of us are uncomfortable with the whole Indians and Pilgrims made nicey nice and had a big festive party to celebrate coming together meme of Thanksgiving. Hell, I haven't called Thanksgiving "Thanksgiving" for years. It's Carb-Fest to me.

It's hard to maintain the illusion when you think about genocide and small pox blankets.

But I am a slightly vengeful person. Little acts of payback make me cheerful. I know, I should be a better person blah blah blah. Wevs.

So in the spirit of cheerful bits of revenge, think about this: while Europeans brought us Natives small pox, it is highly possible that in exchange for murdering us and raping us and stealing from us, we gave them syphilis.

It's a really poignant form of revenge, only inflicted on rapists and after many many years it turns their brains to swiss cheese. It's not enough revenge to make it fair, but it does make my cold dark heart a little warmer.

I could really use $1000 bucks

3 Quarks Daily is having a best political writing contest. I want to submit, but I need some feedback on what post you all think is good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people love it enough.

My first choice is Middle Class Values Don't Solve Poverty but I am open to suggestions.

(I am also totes down if someone wants to go nominate me- I am not above shameless blegging).

Also- How About You Economists Do Some Fucking Math Instead is good, but perhaps a bit too, uhm flowery with the language.

Feminism and housework

Not actually all that different in other parts of the world (right down to the trolls)

Wonder and I were just talking about this the other day. My mom- seriously scary clean freak, would not let us leave the house if it was messy in some way. It was as if a perfectly clean house could mask all the horrible crap like poverty and life Could.Not.Continue if the carpet wasn't vacuumed properly.

Me- total slobby slob. Though every now and then I get weird twinges where I worry people will judge me on my slobby slobness, I try to think of it as the ultimate feminist punk rock act. Fuck you patriarchy and your insistence that I scrub floors. If I was a single dude who was as messy as I am, people would just tell me that I need to get a wife or a girlfriend.

(Also please note that when sharing a home with other adults, I do my part to keep the common areas clean. But my room is basically a floordrobe)

Here's the thing- no one ever says to the perpetually tidy "oh your house looks so clean" or "nice job on the dusting", but they may say something if you are messy. Don't apologize. Tell them it's the first step in the revolution and the dust bunnies are being drafted.

And then try to remember this: you are worth more than a closet full of clean laundry, worth more than sparkling bathroom tiles, worth more than a well organized fridge. Your value as a human being isn't in how many tedious household tasks you can/will do for free.

Another edition of things I wish existed

A commercial where a woman eats a giant, fatty fat, meaty burger with no mention of how "bad" she's being.

A romantic comedy where a woman has to choose between 2 guys, the boring but handsome dream dude and the obnoxious dude-bro frenemy who really gets her. She decides her life is better without either and adopts a bunch of cats instead.

A law and order/csi type show where the women investigators aren't all required to poke at dead bodies at crime scenes or chase down bad guys in full make-up, fake nails, and 4 inch stilettos.

Any version of Law and Order Criminal Intent that doesn't include brilliant/damaged brooding dude detective and the woman detective who nods agreeably when needed. (Almost had it when Annabella Sciorra was on, but alas.....)

A female Doctor Who who won't have her brain explode by seeing the time/space vortex.

PWD played by actors with disabilities. Also, black women played by black women (I'm looking at you Tyler Perry and Eddie Murphy).

And because I am pervy and like looking at pretty men- more gay men kissing on regular tv.

RQ Cooks- well not exactly

This is the first time in many many years that I am not hosting carb-fest. Ruth is off at grad school, friends are all in Seattle, and I am here with family and decidedly not in charge of any carb-fest planning. It's weird. Who will eat an entire plate of deviled eggs? Or fix yummy alcoholic beverages? Or worry that something might not be vegan (despite the fact almost everything I make at Thanksgiving-except the turkey, deviled eggs and last years sausage stuffing- has been vegan for years)!

But I've got recipes for you peeps anyways.

(vegan) Smokey green beans

Get a large mess of fresh green beans.
Snap off ends.
Blanche (quickly dip green beans in a pot of boiling water- count to 30, then plunge green beans into ice water. Yes, this is a pain in the ass but you can and should do this part ahead of time)
Dry green beans on a paper towel- this is important.If they don't dry all the way you get those nasty soggy green beans that no one likes.

Right before serving in a large skillet-
toast almond slices over mediumish heat. You just want to heat them until you can smell them, and they burn fast. Remove from pan and set aside.

Put a wee bit of olive oil in the pan, heat to high. Throw in green beans and drizzle liberally with liquid smoke and salt. The liquid smoke will get very smokey.

Cook for just a few minutes until the liquid smoke is evaporated and the beans have a few smokey brown patches on them. They should still be firmish- not limp. Mix with almonds and serve.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes (can be vegan if you use soy milk and fake butter)

Wash sweet potatoes, rub with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and bake at 450 until fork tender. I usually do one large sweet potato for two people, but these are really good so you may want to do more.

When fork tender- unwrap the foil and then skin the hot potatoes. Put mushy potato stuff in a large bowl. Just like with mashy potatoes, add a bit of milk and a lot of butter. Also add in a good large glunk (RQ technical term for a fistful) of brown sugar. You can now either mash with a potato masher or whip with a beater. Once smooth, do a taste check. It may need more brown sugar. And a little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg wouldn't hurt either. If you want to be real fancy, you can mix in some pralines, but I like this better than the marshmallow fluff sweet potato casserole version.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Okay- I admit it

I am obsessed with Stump Lane and the spectacle idea. I think it's the perfect explanation of one of my other favorite philosophers- Gramsci. It explains something that Marx missed, why capitalism is so very very seductive..

Yep- this is another of those rambly posts that no one will comment on cause it's thinky instead of ranty. But right now you either get thinky or you get despondent and hopeless from me. Thinky is my attempt to subvert depression.

I've written before about Gramsci's cultural hegemony and common sense. I only know about it because of an obscure reference in poly sci text book that was brushed off by my conservative poly sci proff. So of course- rabbit hole and books are bought and there ya go.(Dear old poly sci proff- this is why you had to use my papers to lecture from when it came to progressive philosophies).

So common sense, (not to be confused with Cartesian common sense- I think therefore I am) says things like women should be careful to avoid rape. That is an example of "common sense" reinforcing the values of the dominant class. Rapists aren't responsible for rape, women are. Common sense says that hard work will get you the American dream, but hard work really just gets cheap labor from the non-elites to provide the elites with more wealth. It's "common sense" that women want to be thin and attractive to men that keeps women too focused on food and starvation to realize that they are paid less and do more actual work (including unpaid labor) than men do (and totes ignores the women who don't want to sleep with men).

These examples are mostly from a feminist perpsective, but you can find similar examples of "common sense" for any marginalized group.

So where does the idea of spectacle come in? Think about those three examples, single woman walking alone at night, the American dream, the thin, attractive woman. I bet that just those examples brought pretty specific images into your head. Those images don't come from the ether, they are culturally reinforced ideas that we are shown images of over and over and over. Some of them are positive (you can have this, be this, if you just believe in it hard enough) and some are negative (if you don't follow the approved narrative- you will be this).

Let's look at the American dream, because the image of that is so generic that jokes are made about white picket fences. It starts with the house. Now as a homeless person, lemme tell you that the idea of a safe, secure place that is all you own is better than any sex fantasy. Shit, since I was a little kid I've been drawing house plans when I am stressed. I can, with no trouble at all, call up the exact images of my dream home in my head, right down to the baseboards and the window styles. Now everyone has different tastes when it comes to home, but the idea of owning a place that can never be taken from you is a huge one.

So what else goes with that American dream? Oh yeah, a car or two. Again, people have different tastes (if I won the lottery tomorrow I'd own a Volvo c70 hardtop convertible) but cars mean freedom, the ability to go where you want, when you want. That's why access to transportation is a reoccurring problem in domestic violence. I owned 4 cars before I was ever "allowed" to drive one regularly.

Oh yeah, and the American dream comes complete with spouse (of the opposite sex) and children. Love, sex, procreation. Women are taught from childhood to dream of marshmallow dresses and Ken doll husbands and trained to see childcare and housework as fun with dolls and toy kitchens. Any grown woman with a hubby and/or kids will tell you that reality is hard work. Dolls don't projectile vomit red Gatorade on you and you never worry about hunger in a toy kitchen. Men always have jobs that pay at least living wage for a family of 4. Etc, etc, etc.

So the American dream tells us that if we work hard enough at following the dominant narrative we will get security, freedom, love, sex. We will banish hunger and fear and loneliness. The American dream is about the ending of worry and fear.

But it doesn't just tell us, it shows us. This is where the images are so important. You can see the dream house, dream car, dream kitchen, dream spouse, wedding dress, wedding cake etc. If I posted a picture of a man carrying a woman in a white dress over the threshold of a house with a picket fence, you'd know I was referencing the American dream.

This is where that whole snow globe thing comes into play. We see this ideal life in perfect clarity. It's probably easier for you to right now imagine and describe your dream kitchen than it is to describe your actual kitchen. (Perhaps the poverty gourmand in me is projecting the idea that everyone has a dream kitchen. If so, pick your dream house vs. actual home, or dream car vs. actual car).

This ideal is fake, and impossible, for all but the already elite. You can't get it. You can buy parts of it (and that's what they are counting on- buy buy buy), but the dream house doesn't have toilets that need scrubbing or gutters that need cleaning or a mortgage that needs paying. Dream kitchens never have dirty dishes in the sink or coffee rings on the counter or stinky garbage that needs to be taken out.

That is the magic of the spectacle. We are shown that we can eliminate the very real feelings of fear and hunger and loneliness if we follow the spectacle's rules of produce and consume. Work work work, buy buy buy. We become horrible mindless blobs eating our way through our own shit (produce! consume!) spurred on by shiny flashing pictures in front of our eyes.

And we don't even know we are eating our own shit because production is so distant and specialized. A lot of us spend our lives "making copies", pushing pieces of paper around that sell or buy (produce! consume!) pieces of things that make other things.

So what happens when you can't or won't follow that dominant narrative? What happens if you can't produce because you are sick or injured? What happens if you don't have or want a husband but you already have kids? What happens if your dream spouse is the same gender as you? Or if you're not the same color as the happy (white)couple on top of the wedding cake? You might be able to make up for it (if you work twice as hard and are willing to sell out others), but mostly not following the dominant narrative leads to poverty, fear, lack of security, hunger, incarceration, violence. You know, all the things those images are supposed to replace.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

We float together or we sink apart

Corrente is trying to figure out how we get around the do nothing Democratic party, so is Violet.

The only way this can ever work is if all the marginalized factions who will makeup this party agree- we float together or we sink apart. The sinking apart thing is how they keep us down. Think about abolition and suffrage. They went together, hand in hand, in women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But when push came to shove, black men got the vote first (technically) and shoved women of all colors under the bus for the right. But Jim Crow laws made it near impossible for them to exercise that right. I wonder if Jim Crow laws would have been as easy to enact if suffrage was universal at the time?

The kyriarchy does that to marginalized groups whenever it's structure is threatened. It gives one group the appearance of gain in order to squash the demands of another group. Think about the EDNA (employment non-discrimination act) that sold out trans folks. Think about health care reform that leaves women out and punishes sick people for having a pre-existing condition with mandates and tax penalties but gives insurance companies an extra year before pre-existing conditions are made moot. And I can't even start to point out the millions of ways poor people are routinely shoved to the side for any reason. A stiff breeze is enough for people to sell the poor out.

We float together or we sink apart.

This new party, whether it's outside inside or third party or a mass sign up for the Greens, has to require us, all of us, to make a promise to each other. We will not sell out one group for the gain of another. If we don't make that promise and keep it, then this new thing is really just another flavor of the old thing and it won't work.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The snow globe

I don't even know if I can get this out of my head properly. The idea is a slippery silver scaled fish.

Corrente linked to this which linked to this and I fell down the philosophy rabbit hole.

The spectacle, the thing we watch, the thing we create, but that we aren't part of. It makes me think of a snow globe, a perfect, idealized microcosm. But in our case, we don't know that the snow isn't real or that the tiny people aren't people at all. We're like children, believing what we see but can't touch.

And then I think back to being a child and wondering how those people live in the tv? Which is actually relevant because the tv, internet, books, music, films, all manner of media reinforce the message of the spectacle.

The spectacle is the disconnect between power and the people. It creates the Overton windows and explains why what most people want from their government will be the last thing the government gives them. It's why we get distracted by celebrity. Oh shiny look over there.

It also explains the hatred of the poor. We are the furthest from that snow globe, closer to the earth, to things that are made and touched and felt as real. Real is lonely, hungry, tired, dirty, scared. The snow globe is shiny want, want of things. As if things are real. The real is not made up of shiny things.

But we are told by the snow globe that real is crisp and perfect, and you can buy your way into it. You can feel connected with the latest cell phone, you can feel less hungry with this set of pots and pans, you can feel less scared with this giant car.Feel less dirty with this body wash. Feel less tired with this kind of mattress. Feel less, be numb, that is the message of the snow globe. Dull yourself down. Feel less, want more.

Wanting is what takes reality's place. Those of us at the bottom have a problem though, we can't tune out the feelings. Can't tune out pain or hunger or fear, at least not for long.

(Dear Maude, I feel like I'm getting all zen here- is that the point? Do they have a point? Feckles)

Then I wanted to be all sanctimonious cause I own almost nothing and don't really want anything. Except I've skipped the whole needing to posses things because I have a computer and the internet and can see images of things that I want anytime. So yeah, I, poor person, suck because I am not separated from reality by stuff but by pictures of stuff.

That's what I got and I've only gone through the first chapter. Well, that and a long rant at Wonder about how I like technology and how stupid it was that BSG ended with them deciding to give up modern things like medicine so they can go "run around in the mud". And also a wee lecture on the development of societies and how surplus creates hierarchies.

See ya'll- slippery fish philosophizing.

(sadly, this is what it looks like in my head most of the time, this meandering mush. Usually I clean it up nice and pretty for you all, but what the hell, you might as well see how the sausage gets made).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The absolute worst thing that could happen

to fear mongering, foaming-mouthed, 24 torture porn enthusiast Neocons is that Khalid Shaikh Mohamed could be tried in criminal court with all the due process given to ordinary defendants and be found guilty.

Yep, you read that right. They are afraid that the justice system will work for terrorists just like it's supposed to for everyone.*

If the normal, everyday, non-extraordinary tools we use for justice work just the same for people who commit acts of terror, then all the excuses for torture and extraordinary rendition and unlawful combatants and denial of the basic rights that have been part of this country's legal system since it's infancy go out the window.

If the normal, ordinary, everyday tools of justice work for the most heinous of crimes, then how will they scare us into giving up our liberty in exchange for safety? Can a threat that is stopped by a judge in black robes and a jury and a couple of lawyers and a mountain of paperwork really be as much of a big bad as they say?

No doubt, 911 was terrifying. The threat of more terrorism is terrifying (by design, it's not called happy fun time, after all). But are they so bad that we can justify becoming a society that is less free and has less justice?


(* Understanding that justice is far from perfect in this country. Yes, a brown man with a foreign name and a religion that isn't Christian accused of terrorism is not likely to get a impartial jury, but at least he gets a jury and a judge and legal representation, which is a far cry from a waterboard).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The First Thing That Must Change

I've been thinking about what a post-revolution society would look like.

The first thing we have to do is value all lives. I know that sounds all sorts of forced pregnancy hypocritical, but it's not, really. Right now we value people based on how much money they have, what country they were born in, who they sleep with, how they look, what they produce, etc. That is not valuing life or people, that is valuing certain characteristics.

We have to value people simply because they exist, and not for any other reason. People, all people, regardless of any characteristics they may or may not possess, must be more important than money, or borders, or property, or ideas, or religion, or theory. No matter how different a person is from you, or how far from "ideal" a person's life is, they still have the exact same value as the ideal. They still have all the same rights.

Put people first, and suddenly the world will make a lot more sense.

Who we gonna hate on when all the smokers and fatties are dead?

My aunt once said (it's a day for Auntie sayings, I guess) "No social worker worth their salt will pick on a poor person for smoking and drinking coffee. They know poor parents use those things to keep them going while their kids get whatever food is available."

I am coming to have the same kind of contempt for the "Left" as I do for the Rethuglikans and Christian blow hards. I already hate the virtuous foodies bad enough that given half a chance I'd watch them choke on organic apples before I'd perform the Heimlich. Fair's fair, after all. They'd watch my family starve to death rather than see us eat "crap". (Of course they still buy their organic produce people who don't make a living wage and couldn't afford to shop in the places they work,but hypocrisy is not monopolized by the right).

You cannot backtrack on pure meanness once it is unleashed

He's right. The left has lost compassion. Worse than that even, they've lost the fucking good sense that got us out of the last Depression, the truth that Roosevelt knew was that when we all do better, we ALL do better. Call it enlightened self interest, but the constant squashing of the weakest segments of society is not healthy for any society. Maybe, like the machiladoras who only hire teenage girls because they are less likely to fight, we've let poverty become feminized and disabled in this country because they think we are less likely to fight back. But bougie left may want to check themselves, us poor girls fight dirty and I know more than a few disabled peeps whose trigger fingers still work just fine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The saddest thing about the health care debacle

From my Aunt today:

"What really pisses me off is that the health care bill is becoming the piece of crap, forced to pay but get nothing for it thing the teabaggers said it would be."

Thanks Dems!

(Perhaps the Stupak thing is a good thing in that case, if it means pro-choice dems have an excuse not to participate in the sham that is the Affordable Health Care Act or whatever Orwellian name they are calling it by)

Medicare for all peeps, medicare for all.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spot the ridiculously overused movie plot

is one of my favorite games.

There's the white lady or brown man goes to inner city school and teaches brown and/or poor teenagers their worth. (Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, and of course the original To Sir with Love. I am fairly sure that a new one of these has to come out every few years so that "thoughtful middle class white people" can be assured that brown kids are being educated too without having those brown kids go to school with their kids.

Then there is the world is ending and my family is trapped somewhere else (Los Angles seems to bea common place, but New York too) like The Day After Tommorow, Independence Day. There's more but catastrophe action movies are my least favorite genre.

There's the most classic of all, the love triangle like Keeping the Faith, Bandits, and so many many others. But the all come from the original love triangle movies like His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story both of which were remade.

There's the sci fi memes- technology takes over (2001, Terminator, even Transformers) or Mutants as oppressed group (obviously the X Men series, but also Total Recall). And of course the aliens want to kill us all meme.

These are just a few examples. What overused plots can you spot?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

try to get a visual

I am lying on a couch in a completely darkened room trying not to move too much because my head is killing me.

But I am also bored. I am bored of the the nausea and eye watering and teeth clenching,

So I am playing on the lap top and reading the internets.

And trying not to vomit.

But the lappy screen is so bright.

So I am lying on a couch in the dark with a laptop on my chest and my gradient sunglasses on my face upside down because they are darker that way and add less pressure on my temples and the kid is making me chicken soup so that either I am less nauseous or if I do throw up it wont be dry heaves.

And this all seems quite ridiculous to me

There has to be a better term

Third world nation doesn't cut it.Neither does developing or less developed,because the countries we use that label for have all had their natural resources developed right into the pockets of rich countries and companies.

Of course any term that aptly described those countries would not be very complimentary to us in the first or developed world.

Terms used now are more than a bit similar to the way we talk about rape, actually. First we talk around the acts of plunder and we never mention a perpetrator. When we talk about a woman being raped it's as if she was walking along and tripped and fell on an invisible, nameless, faceless thing called "rapist". When we talk about poor countries it's as if they are resource-free deserts and never acknowledge that their resources are stolen by the nameless, faceless thing called "capitalism".

I read once that the terms explorers used for newly discovered (by white people) lands were all feminine. "The lush, virgin forests need to be opened up for exploration" is the erotica of colonialism.

You can't fix a thing till you can properly name it. Rape doesn't end when we call it a "sex act", so what do we call this looting of poor countries?

What Could We Do If We Were Whole

Wonder and I were having a chat the other day about panic attacks.

Wonder: Does every woman our age have some kind of anxiety issue?

Me: (Runs through list of every single woman I know) YES.

First- don't gimme that shit that depression, anxiety, psychological problems et.all
are new ways of drug companies making money. What was previously called hysteria was more likely than not the point where a woman just got so fucking fed up with the shit sandwiches that she blew her lid.

Second- Imagine how much more time and energy we would have if we didn't have to spend so much time and energy trying to heal wounds created and constantly reopened by others? Wonder is so fuckingsciencebrainysmart she could have cured cancer by now. No shit.

And I'm so fucking entrenched in the shit sandwich miasma that I don't even know what I'd do. Be an architect I guess. I've been doodling houseplans since I was a little kid. It's what I use as an escape (in place of being a WoW geek like some people we know cough*ouyangdan*cough).I'm trying to convince the family to run away to New Mexico and start and artist commune mostly so I can be the one to design the cabins (from recycled shipping containers with solar power).

I also sometimes threaten to run away to any tropical island where I could make a living selling hand painted coconut shells on the beach, but since I am in a tropical climate right now and am giddy for temperatures that drop below 70, that might not be a workable plan.

And I also sometimes dream of making soup. I don't wanna run a restaurant, I don't wanna cater fancy parties. I wanna make vats of soup and then sell them to a restaurant or fancy caterer or a deli.

So peeps- if the kyriarchy ended tomorrow and all those stupid wounds finally heeled- what else would you like to do with your time and energy?

5 things the Dems needto do ASAP to redeem themselves

1)End DADT and DOMA AND because you've been so douchey allow gays and lesbians all the same federal benefits that straight marrieds get and the gays may come back.

2)Strip the Pitts-Stupak amendment out of health care reform AND because you've been so douchey repeal they Hyde amendment and you may get women back.

3) Enact real health care reform including Medicare for all and reforms to drug pricing and you may get your liberal label back.

4) Enact real regulation of the financial industry including a temporary moratorium on foreclosures and maybe we'll get a functional economy back.

5)Throw money at the problem - JOBS JOBS JOBS. I don't care how. Pay people to stand on their heads and entertain on street corners. It doesn't matter what kind of jobs, but we need them now.

(And for good measure you could strip all anti-choice, blue dog, Joe Liebermans of all committee memberships until they remember what fucking ticket got them elected in the first place)


An Entire Group of Fucking People Who Should Have Been Reading This Blog During The Primaries But Were Overcome With Hopium Instead*. Oh and RQ.

(*I figure it's nicer just to sign for them rather than do the I Told You So dance)

At what point do we qualify as a third world nation

My friend Ms.J sent me this link and I thought it was too important to just throw in the reader.

UN investigator accuses US of shameful neglect of the homeless.

In my old, super blue, super "progressive" hometown, tent cities have been renamed "Nicholsvilles" after the mayor. There are trailers parked under interstates where homeless people live because it's one of the few places the police won't harass them. The Kid and I are just lucky we have family who could take us in. We don't have a tent or a trailer.

My aunt told me today that she heard half the school aged kids in Las Vegas are homeless because of the housing crisis.

And how many people still can't return to New Orleans after Katrina?

What does it take to wake people up, cause 8 years of Bush didn't do it and Obama seems to be just as thoughtless when it comes to the massive fucktastrophy. Do the homeless have to start pitching their tents on suburban lawns? Or better yet, right in front of the White House?

Would it even matter? I've already been proven right that Obama doesn't care about women, or real health care reform, or anybody who makes less than 100k a year. Would shoving this problem in the face of the Democratic party do anything when the Dems are so busy trying to prove their actually Republicans.

Seriously, cause I'm mad as hell but self-immolation in front of FDR's memorial on live tv seems to be the only way we might get some actual results.

This is the memorial. The sign reads "They (who) seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual this a new order. It is not new and it is not order."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Je suis le président du Burundi

This made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself.

(You all know that the only phrases I can actually say in French are Je suis Americaine and Do you speak English - which I don't know how to write in French)

You know that whole "we got out of the Great Depression because of war thing"

Yeah, not so much

And continuing on in Afghanistan and Iraq in hopes of creating more jobs at home isn't such a good idea either.

Better get moving on that new "green" economy Mr. President, or my prediction that you are the second coming of Hoover will make people flock to me like I'm the second coming of Nostradamus.

H/t to Corrente

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Quick and Simple Guide to Terrorism

There's a bunch of whinging from rethuglikans that the Ft. Hood shooting is an act of terrorism because it was perpetrated by a Muslim.

Now I know it's asking a lot for rethuglikans to use proper definitions and all,but this is an important one.

Since I've already gone over the dictionary use of the word let's get into the legal definitions.

For judicial purposes you need a perpetrator or actor, a victim, and a motive.

There are specific conditions that must be met for all three things if something is to be considered terrorism.

1) The perpetrator(s)must not be acting on behalf of a government. People who commit crimes on behalf of a government are committing acts of either espionage or war, not terrorism. Perpetrators of terrorism are generally part of a non governmental organization of some sort, though that organization can be of just one person if other conditions are right.

2) Terrorism is an act or threat of violence against civilians. You can even stretch that as far as non-combatant government employees (see Oklahoma City) but a military base does not count as non combatant.

3) The motive MUST be designed to cause or instill fear for political gain. This is vital. Without this it really is just the act of a mad man. Scott Roeder, murderer of Dr. Tiller IS a terrorist because his goal was to terrify other doctors so that they would not perform abortions. That is terrorism.

John Allen Mohammed, the DC sniper who was recently executed, was not a terrorist. His ultimate goal was to kill his ex wife, though he made it look like a terrorist act so as to hide his tracks.

We don't yet know what the Ft. Hood shooter's motive was, but the Army doesn't think it was terrorism. Being that we know he fails the test on elements 1 and 2 (he was not a non-governmental actor and he was not firing on non-combatants) his actions, though horrible, were not an act of terrorism.

That's all people. Terrorism in a nutshell.

It's tea, you fucking dipshit

So I was reading this post at Jezebel and was reminded of a "fun" moment during my pregnancy with the kid.

It was labor day, I was maybe 4 months pregnant. Our entire apartment building got together and had a huge party on the roof.

I was wandering around, mingling with peeps, when condescending neighbor girl walks up to me and starts screaming at me and trying to grab the glass of dark brown liquid out of my hand. Seriously, like I was wielding a knife or something.

She was screaming "You're pregnant, you can't fucking drink, blah blah blah."

At which point I gave her the classic raised eyebrow of doom and said "It's tea you fucking dipshit" and finished the glass.

Now for all this person's concern over the life of my future child, she never once told Kid's dad to stop drinking. He got piss faced, stupid-assed drunk and decided to jump off the roof that night. Ended up with a seriously sprained ankle. No one (besides me) said that getting high in the hospital parking lot might not be the best thing when your girlfriend is about to be wheeled into the operating room for a C-section. No one (but me) told him that driving your new baby home from the hospital should not be done while high as a fucking kite.

But I'm a girl, so throwing public hissy fits because I might not be performing the acts of sainthood required of parents mothers is ok. He's a boy, no sainthood required to be a dad.

Big toe update

For all the swelling, color changing, pain it caused me last night, the toe is in miraculously good shape.

It's just a slightly bruised tone nail after all. Hurray.

Especially since Ouyang Dan was threatening me with stories of drilling holes in toenails with needles or nails or something sharp and non-bendy.

I feel like I've writen this post before.........

Someone at Shakesville (not Liss- and I can't remember which post and I've got literally thousands of things in my reader that I've been catching up on) made an offhand comment in a post about abortion (I think) that overpopulation is what is killing the environment.

Can we please, pretty please, put an end to this racist fucking bit of trollop.

Whenever I hear some over-educated white person bitch about overpopulation, I see white robes and cone hats. They mean too many brown women in poor countries having too many babies.

Truth is, those brown babies use only a fraction of the resources over-educated white people do. A tiny, environmentally sustainable fraction.

The environment is not in trouble because brown women in other countries have babies. It's in trouble because latte drinking, car driving, plane flying white people need an exponentially increasing amount of stuff that is grown, produced and delivered in an oil based economy.

And oil is running out. But those over-educated white folks don't need to worry too long about how many brown babies are alive in the world. Those brown babies are going to be the first famine victims when the price for oil goes so high that coffee drinking becomes a luxury, and land previously used to grow staple crops for poor brown people gets turned into bio fuel instead so that coffee can still be delivered to white folks in developed countries.

It's not the brown babies people, it's the oil. Oil. Oil. Oil.

Happy Veterans Day

I don't know if happy is really the word for it. But thanks Vets. I may totally disagree with the men who give you orders, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the work you do.

And since it is your job to follow orders, it is our job as citizens to make sure you're not given senseless orders. We haven't been very good at that for the last decade or so, and I apologize.

Since I've never been one for patriotic chest thumping here's a few songs about the military that I do like.

The Decemberists- 16 Military Wives

Moxy Fruvous- The Gulf War Song (originally written for Desert Storm and Bush I)

I'll Wait

To Bill Clinton and all pass it now, fix it later Democrats.

I dropped a large, heavy, wooden umbrella stand on my big toe today. I'm limping, in massive amounts of pain. The toe is turning colors and at the very least I am going to lose a toe nail.

I have no health insurance, and can't possibly afford care in an emergency room.

I also have an as yet undiagnosed (at least by doctors) chronic pain disease. I have the arthritic hands of an 80 year old woman and I grimace at the idea of grasping things. Some days, every single step I take feels like the ligaments and tendons in feet are going to snap. My shoulders, back, neck, hips and legs always hurt and I've gotten used to it, but the hands and feet bring me to tears.

I could be helped with a medical diagnosis and pain meds. Until then I take fistfuls of Advil every day.

I am absolutely the person you are all talking about when you say we have to pass this healthcare bill, flaws and all,now now now or it won't happen.

But I'll wait. I may be in pain. I may end up with a gangrenous toe. But I can suck it up and wait and will gladly do it if it means not selling out women to forced pregnancy fuckwits. And I will gladly wait for real universal "universal health care" not this milquetoast compromise with insurance and drug companies.

I'll wait, but not forever, just until the next election rolls around. Pass real healthcare for all men AND women. Stop fucking around with compromises to shit heads who shouldn't have any say in this fight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Myth of Female Privilege And Biological Determinism

Because I must be some kind of glutton, I followed a sitemeter hit back to this post about George Sondini and the misogyny of MRAs.

And then (I blame insomnia) I read the comments. Ampersand has a much higher tolerance for the verbose and inaccurate ramblings of misogynists than I do. What keeps coming up is the idea that feminists don't acknowledge "female privilege" and that differences between men and women are because of biology and not culture.

1st let's talk biology.

Yes, women have babies and produce milk for babies. Men can't do that. That sucks and is unfair. But as a feminist I gladly support any medical or technical innovation that makes it so that men who want to be pregnant and nurse babies can. Hell,I'd even offer up my own overly fertile uterus and ovaries as a donation, though I'd prefer if they went to a transwoman or a gay man. I also support any and all advances that make it easier for both women and men who DON'T want to have babies. Bring on the male pill.

That's it. That's all there is to the biology thing. Sure, men and women get different diseases, or the same diseases elicit different symptoms in men and women. There's no privilege there. Where there is privilege is in the different ways medical society treats disease based on gender. But that is not biological, that's cultural.

All other supposed biological truths are really just cultural. The men are stronger meme relies entirely on a a very specific and narrow idea of strength lying in large muscle mass and ability to cause harm. Again, those are cultural applications to biology, not scientific truths like gravity.

And the truth is, along a spectrum, there is more biological difference between women alone or men alone than there is between men and women combined.

(*please note that yes, this portion doesn't mention a thing about issues of transness or gender queerdom. It is not meant to exclude either from the argument. I believe that like sexuality, gender is a spectrum. Some people are hardwired, regardless of genitalia, at one end of the spectrum or the other, and some people fall more in the middle.)

So culture is the thing that tells us little girls like pink and little boys like blue. I know this is a fact, because it wasn't that long ago (100 years maybe) that pink was a boy color and blue was a girl color. I know that not all women want to be nurturing caregivers and not all men want to be brave soldiers.

I also know that violence in men is a trait specifically created by the patriarchy to continue the patriarchy, and not an inherent masculine trait.

Think about that for a minute. Feminists, by acknowledging that, give men more credit than they give themselves. We allow for the idea that they can be better men and better humans than they are allowed to be now. But we're the man haters. Go figure.

But what about that female privilege thing.

From what I can gather, MRAs think women have privilege over men because

1) We don't have to pay on dates
2) We don't have to open doors for people
3) We aren't eligible for the draft or required to sign up for the Selective Service
4) We can choose to have sex anytime (except when we can't choose- that's rape) without having to pay for it.
5) We are(sometimes) believed on domestic violence claims

I will gladly pay my own way on all future dates (and most of my past ones) in exchange for never being street harassed again. Really, if the cost of not fucking up my entire day and being able to go about my business in public without the ever present fear of creepy dudes is buying my own coffee or dinner, then I'm all in.

I already hold open doors for other people, but we can make a gender neutral door opening law if we can also make equal pay for equal work a reality and not a catchy phrase.

On this, I am reminded of a line from my favorite Jane Austen novel, Persuassion, "The only privilege I can claim for my sex, and you needen't envy it," is of not being eligible for the Selective Service. I'm pretty sure there are lots of female soldiers and sailors and pilots who wish the combat restrictions were gone.I don't think anyone should have to sign up with the Selective Service, male or female.

We have more options for having sex, but only if we are willing to fuck any guy. It's not like Tahmoh Penikett is going to walk through my door wearing nothing but a smile. If I was interested in good old boy southern rednecks, I'd be golden. But I'm not.

And there is one thing that women have to fear when it comes to sex way more than men do. We fear you and the harm you can do when you don't believe in enthusiastic consent. So we may seem our to be rolling is dick and ignoring it, but mostly we are worried that our drinks may get roofied or our "No" will be ignored.

The solution to that is feminism though. Then everybody gets to choose more sex (or no sex or some sex- it's about choice)and no body has to fear rape. What MRAs see as privilege is just self preservation.

And domestic violence, sometimes women get believed by cops and judges. But really, it's only sometimes. It's no so much a privilege when you consider the rates of victims of other crimes being believed, like say murder or robbery. We domestic violence survivors actually score pretty low on that. So do rape victims.

That doesn't mean that women have no privilege. As a white women I have more privilege than a black woman. I don't ever even have to consciously act on the privilege. It's always there, whether I want it or not. But just because I don't act on it consciously doesn't mean I don't benefit from it.I knew in my old neighborhood that if someone needed to call the police in my apartment complex, it should be me as the nice white lady because I was going to get faster and fairer service from the police than my black neighbors. Same thing is true for men, just because you don't rape women doesn't mean that you don't benefit from the silencing fear it creates.

Happy Birthday Sesame Street

Sesame Street was originally designed as a way to give kids who couldn't go to preschool the same kind of counting and reading lessons so that they wouldn't fall behind in kindergarten. The original target was poor inner city kids, but now it reaches all over the world teaching kids their abcs and tolerance and kindness.

Just to show how very affecting this little experiment was, I don't know a single person my age who wouldn't finish the line if I started singing "1,2,3,4,5"

And I still joke when I'm making a grocery list "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter"

May Sesame Street have another 40 years of of being one of the best damn things America has ever exported.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'll make the forced birthers a deal

How about this, we make all abortions illegal except for rape and health of the mother if all non-custodial parents who are even a week late with a child support payment get shipped off to work camps where their earnings are sent straight to the children they neglected.

What? Is the idea of forced labor of mostly men types in order to make them care for their children too much for you? Do you think it's a violation of their civil rights?

How is my proposal any different from forcing women to be incubators?

It even passes the forced-birther personal responsibility test, though in this case it's more pants up than legs closed.

Think of it this way, 70 percent of noncustodial parents would now be working on chain gangs, maybe more, but all the baybeezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz that would be saved would also have a guaranteed income.

What? Still squeamish about controlling a man's body because he was stupid enough to have sex?

Then STFU about controlling women's bodies you sanctimonious fuckwads.


I will learn to read posts before I hit the publish button and edit out the typos.


I will find a cure for insomnia and my family will no longer be able to joke that I am a vampire.


I'll find a job where I am neither stuck in a pink collar ghetto or forced to constantly prove myself as better than to be equal.

What will you do someday?

The Kyriarchy of Blogging

OuyangDan shared this post with me and I thought it was a perfect example of how to climb the kyriarchy pyramid on the backs of people you are supposed to "belong" to.

Now I haven't read Amanda Marcotte or the pink obamabot ghetto that is Pandagon since the racist book cover shit. See Marcotte got a feminist book published- oh ahhhh money and legitimacy for writing about one's beliefs (the blogger's dream peeps- all us bloggers have it) but she didn't get it without stepping on a few people. Namely, blacks. And once you start down that road of selling out to get ahead, it's easy as pie to keep going. Next came all us girls who called Obama out on his sexism, now it's poor sex workers (under the guise of wanting to help them- but remember agency folks- if you're trying to help by giving someone less choice then you are taking away their agency).

But Marcotte is not the only blogger who has used the backs of lessers as stepping stones to elitism. There's Markos Moulitas- go to fauxgressive for the opinion bunnies on MSNBC and head of the Big Orange Cheetoh. Kos is famous for his comments deriding the "women's studies set" as well as banning anyone from Kos who wrote critically about Obama's sexism, racism, classism, corporatism during the campaign, or who wrote enthusiastically about HRC.

And I assume you all know about the shithole that Feministing has become, a beacon of transhate and classism and abelism. Abelist Courtney is now one of the finalists to become a paid blogger for the Washington Post. Congratulations on using the broken backs of women to climb on.

Then there are the token gays- John Arovosis and Dan Savage. Both hate women, but Dan kicks it up a notch by throwing in some abelism, racism, fat hate.

These are some of your A list progressive bloggers folks, and I don't see a progressive in the bunch.

And while I love Kate Harding and think she's brill, there are more than a few fat folks with disabilities who feel stepped on by her promotion HAES (health at every size) and healthy fatties vs fatties with health problems dichotomy.

Now let's contrast that with two big, truly progressive blogs and their leaders, Shakesville and Melissa McKewan and Corrente and Lambert Strether. Neither allows their blogs to use the people on the bottom of the pyramid as stepping stones. Consequently, both have to run regular donation blegs (as do I, though my readership is much smaller). Neither have book deals or tv appearances.

That is your blogging kyriarchy at work. You can't get to the top unless you're willing to step on someone else.

For OD

She knows why.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Dear Mrs.Stupak:

(and all other political wives)

Your husband(s) has done a horrible thing for every woman in this country, regardless of political or religious views. Insurance coverage for abortion of any kind will now be non-existent in this country.

Perhaps you share your husband's views on abortion. Perhaps you think that the women who need abortions should be punished by having to pay for them out of pocket.

But I think about a dear friend who recently had an ectopic pregnancy treated with an abortion before the pregnancy either killed her or permanently ended her fertility. I think of a family member who, terminally ill and believing she was infertile, could either have an abortion asap, or both she and the baby would die. I think about myself, and how lucky both I and my son are that my old home state paid for abortions for poor women. Our lives, though hard and terrible as the are, would be exponentially worse if our little family of 2 was increased.

It is poor women and women with disabilities or traumatic pregnancies that will suffer the most under your husband's amendment. It is women who cannot pay out of pocket for medical care who will find the idea of choice is just that for them, an idea but not a reality. Their reality, our reality, my reality is one of poverty, injury or death.

So I am asking you, as a woman, as a human being, as the person probably called "your husband's better half" more times than you can count, for help.

We need you to stand up and tell your husband that women's health care needs should not be a bartering chip in the political realm.

And if you really want to get creative about it, I would suggest a bit of a Lysistrata moment. If women cannot get insurance coverage for unplanned pregnancies, perhaps you should make sure there is no opportunity for an unplanned pregnancy in your own household by refusing to perform acts that lead to pregnancy. It is, after all, the only option that 90% of women in this country will be left with if this amendment is part of the final bill.


You all remember?

During the campaign when the koolaide drinkers were yelling at us dumb girls because Obama was sooooooooooooooooo much better than the rethuglikans on reproductive rights?

You remember being told that we were just voting with our vaginas during the primaries, and then having those vaginas held hostage during the election- vote for Obama or your rights will be gone forever.

Yeah, who would have thunk that when push came to shove it would be the dems throwing women under the bus?

Oh wait- we thought that.

Everyday I am given further proof that my vote for Cynthia McKinney was the right one. I still hope to be proven wrong. I'd rather wallow in equal rights and social progress than revel in righteous foresight.

And yes- this is Obama's mess. He is the head of the country and more importantly (at least for this) the head of the party.

RQ Cooks- White trash tamale pie

Like many poor peeps, I have been known to make what I fondly call white trash pie, though you all may know it by the name on the side of the Bisquick box- impossible cheeseburger pie. At my old place I used to have to save a piece for my neighbor Karen every time I made it (I didn't exactly follow the recipe of the box, I never do). In return she brought me chicken every time she barbecued.

Well we had a mess o' leftover ground beef and some veggies needing to be used. But we wanted something a wee bit different from the old Bisquick version and were way too lazy to make tacos.

Enter Jiffy corn bread mix.

Preheat the oven to 400

In a large (biggest you've got) cast iron skillet, brown some ground beef.

Season the fuck out of it. Garlic salt, red pepper flakes, chili powder, a little cumin, some black pepper.

While the beef is browning, chop an onion or two, a bell pepper or two, a jalapeno if you've got it and that's your thing. Cook till onions are translucent. Remove from heat.

At this point I added one diced tomato that was on its way out and some fresh corn sliced off the cob. You could also add olives or a can of green chilies.

Then cheese- lots of yummy shredded cheese. We used sharp cheddar, but I'm sure a jack cheese would be fine.

Use 2 boxes of jiffy corn muffin mix and make according to the directions. Let it sit in the bowl for a minute or two to get its puffiness going.

Spread corn muffin batter over beef mixture and sprinkle with more yummy cheese.

Bake until the muffin crust is cooked and golden brown (not just the cheese being brown).

Let sit for a few minutes then dig in.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The seeds of a revolution

Or the rough ideas of a manifesto........

While I was in the land of no internet I was thinking about the kyriarchy and trying to create a visual model of it. I drew things that looked liked Wallerstein's World Systems theory and things that looked like funny spider webs and after about half a day I realized it's a pyramid with certain conditions pushing you to the bottom of the pyramid and certain conditions lifting you up the pyramid. But we are all stones in the pyramid, so every every time you move up it's on someone else's back.

Then we got the internet back and I could look up the actual definition of kyriarchy. At least my half a days labor of chicken scratch drawings wasn't in vain.

In the process I realized something. Poverty is not an oppression like sexism or racism, it's the goal of oppression.

Think of it this way- oppression is the means, control of access to resources is the ends. That's why things like having a disability, being a woman, being a single mother, being a POC, not having the ability to marry (for both lesbians and gays and black women who have fewer men to pick from and an (unfair)image of being difficult) all lead to higher rates of poverty.

The labeling, categorizing, othering, is the means of deciding who gets fewer resources.

So if you are looking at the kyriarchy pyramid, it is sectioned off by economic class. The poor make up the base- it's broad and diverse but not very tall, a thin wide band at the bottom. It's kept as diverse as possible so that the people at the bottom can't come together and change the system. The middle is not as broad but much taller and much more homogeneous. For example, you could be a disabled women in the middle class as long as you are married to a TAB white cis man. You have to have fewer points of oppression and more points of privilege to be in the middle. And the middle has multiple layers, the upper middles who act like elites, the middle middles and those middles who are on the verge of poverty (one injury and crappy insurance away from bankruptcy and poverty). With our current economic downturn and healthcare system, the bottom middle is gaining members. So is the poverty class.

Then there's the top- the elites. The most homogeneous group of of them all. For the most part, the only people with any oppression points who get to this level are ones that are willing to forcefully continue the kyriarchy. (See our corporatist, women hating, anti-gay, classist president for example, or Michelle Bachman/Ann Coulter and even not so women or poor people friendly Arriana Huffington). We have a word for that cough*token*cough.

So with a little math and some basic demographics you can tell what class someone is likely to be in. What's really important to remember is that most (though not all) characteristics are going to be things people have no control over, like race, gender, financial status of their parents, and health, and the things that people do have some control over like number of children or married status or access to education are the ones that we fight about all the time (abortion, birth control, gay marriage, private school funding, college grants).

What we should want from our little revolution is to neutralize the conditions, both positive and negative, that lead to poverty and elitism. Being a het cis tab white dude with wealthy parents and a good education should not make one automatically qualified for elite status. Nor should being a single mother of color make you more qualified for poor status.

Okay so that explains our current system. How do topple something as long lasting as a pyramid? And what do we replace it with?

First- a pyramid is held up by it's base, that's us. How do we throw off the upper stones on our backs? There are the standard methods of revolt-violence and martyrdom. But those tools of revolution have only lead to a rotating of the elites and not a complete change of the system in the past.

Instead I like the idea of organization, work stoppages, "liberation" of resources, squatting, etc. We take what we need and refuse to give back to the system unless we are properly compensated for our labor. (If anyone can tell me how to set up pirate internet service- I will give you a big lip smacky kiss). I'm not saying that we should all be shoplifting from Whole Foods (wink wink) but it's not a bad start. I'm not saying that we should be publishing the names of rapists (yes- rape is one of the tools the kyriarchy uses to keep women in place)or dead beat dads, or ableist/racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic businesses but I think I'd probably throw a name or 10 on that list.

What to replace the system with is trickier. We've lived in a hierarchical system for so long, and attempts at replacing it have failed miserably (communism)that even I have a hard time seeing what a new system would look like.

But baby steps, peeps. Baby steps.

2nd class health care for 2nd class citizens

Hey ladies, wanna hear something crappy?

Democrats (you know the party that is made up of 60% women) couldn't get a health care bill through the House unless vagina americans got thrown under the bus.

Oh ladies, it's not that the men in blue suits hate your lady bits, they just don't want you to use your lady bits in any way that they find icky.

Now if we had a decent supreme court then it could easily be argued that disallowing certain medical practices that only ladies need is a form of discrimination, but we have a supreme court full of scaredy boys who think teh girls are teh icky.

Okay- I'm done with the infantlizing.

We pay for plenty of things we don't like with our taxes, things like bailouts for banksters, wars for oil, extraordinary rendition.

You may not like abortion, you may never want or need to have one yourself. I hate banksters and war and torture and would never sign up for any of them. But my dislike doesn't mean I get to ban all poor kids from military recruiting offices.

The biggest restriction on abortion access in a generation, brought to you by the democrats.

Don't you all love our 2 party system?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

How to teach your male child

The kid is learning about biological anthropology for science right now and we just got to the section on genetic drift.

Since it is a college text book we're using, he needed a little help with some examples of the definitions in the book. One definition was about sampling errors and the book used the classic 10 flipped coins as an example (since I'm not teaching the kid statistics and probability till the end of his math book- this example left him confused).

Me: So imagine you are an alien and you are trying to learn about people by watching tv shows.

Kid: Ok

Me: You know how so many things use the 2 guys and a girl set up.

Kid: Oh yeah- I hate that.

Me: Well if you were an alien you would think that men outnumbered women 2 to 1 because that is the dominant example you see on TV. But you'd be wrong,because women are actually closer to 52% of the population.

Kid: Ohhh that's a serious sampling error.

the oppression olympics is a game of"let's you and hir fight"

First- did you miss me? Cause I missed you internet land. Being without internet is a wee bit like amnesia. I know I know stuff, but without ready written evidence to back me up I feel all lost and woozy and disconnected.

But once more into the breach I am.

Wonder and I were having a discussion a while ago about the friction between feminists who hate that the burden of caring and nurturing is always put on the backs of unpaid women, and PWD who need care in order to function in the world. Both Wonder and I have experience as carers, but for personal reasons I fall more into feminist side of the argument and Wonder falls into the PWD side.

Both of us are right and the solution lies not in acquiescence on either side, but in a 3rd way.

The problem is that women are expected to be the free labor backbone of society, not just in caring for children and spouses but parents and school functions and houses and and and and. It's free labor. It's hard work. It's worth something more than we have been given (less income over the course of our life times, for example). It can wear you out. There is no vacation time from one's own family, after all.

We need caring to stop being seen as some form of biblical punishment that's been inflected on us since Eve ate that stupid apple. We need it to be seen for what it is, and immensely valuable profession that is necessary for society to continue.

And you know the thing about professions is that people get to choose them. They aren't usually forced onto folks.

On the flip side, PWD are part of society, and they deserve every bit of help they can get. Just like children shouldn't be seen as a punishment for wanton trollopy, lapses in good health should not make a person "burdensome".

We need "women's work" to be seen as valuable to society. PWD need to be seen as valuable to society. We need to cough up the money to pay for the tools and the work that it is done to keep society running.

Children need to be looked after, houses need to be cleaned, grandpa shouldn't be left alone during the day because he forgets to turn off the stove. These are valuable jobs. We should pay for them and we should pay well.

(You all know that once caring becomes a "skilled" profession with a livable wage,suddenly all sorts of men will discover their nurturing side- best antidote to the second shift problem I can think of).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Every revolution needs

a manifesto. So while I am not regularly interneted that is what I am working on.

So far I've got the Poor People's Union/Revolution or PPU/R

That's just not very catchy as a name, is it? Suggestions?

Also- for the non-poor but sympathetic (Like Blue Lion) of course you can be part of it, we always need allies. But like allies of other groups, self determination of poor people is the central idea. It's not about charity, or pity, or trying to make the middling meddling middles feel better (not the Blue has EVER done anything like that- I'm talking about the standard charity model of not really helping the poor much while at the same time making poor people feel ashamed because the system chews them up and spits them out at the bottom)

So what would you all like to see in a manifesto? I want it to be as inclusive as possible, no leaving people behind because their flavor of oppression has too many intersections to be easily summed up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm in a doing kind of mood

After reading about higher jobless rates becoming the new norm, real unemployment being about 20%, homeless families on the street while new apartment buildings sit empty, and fucking fauxgressive douchebags who wanna fat hate at the poor- I'm in the mood to do something.

I also just watched The Future Is Unwritten about Joe Strummer (who I love with the passion of a 1000 fiery suns).

It's time to get our punk rock, DIY, fuck your authority figures and the shiny horse they rode in on, on.

Nobody is gonna speak for us, the poor and ignored. Handouts and charity may feed you for a bit, but we are tired of begging for our fare share. I want to kick and break and punch and bite and scream.

And then I want to build.

I've been thinking that what we poor people need is a union. It shouldn't matter what your job is (or if you have one). We need to band together and scream for ourselves. We need the boots off our necks. We need the boots off our kid's necks. We need to be louder than the poor pitying tones of the middling middles.

It's time for a class war, is what I'm saying.

Friday, October 16, 2009

10 things that shame and punishment and restriction have never "cured"

Quickly- I am at the library with a scant few minutes of internet time before closing. Watch me type so fast my fingers flame

Here's your top ten list of things not "cured" by shame, punishment or restriction:

1) Homosexuality
2) extra-marital sex (either pre marital or adultery)
3) rape (when the shame, punishment, restriction is aimed at victims or potential victims instead of rapists)
4)disease (did shame ever cure an AIDS patient? Or a lung cancer victim?)
5) obesity (if fat shaming worked we'd all look like Ralph Lauren models)
6)mental illness
7) immigration- legal or otherwise. (go back and ask the Irish if "No Irish Allowed" kept them from immigrating 150 years ago. Ask the Chinese in San Francisco if shame kept them out?
8) poverty

Einstein famously said that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get a different result". I think it's more stupidity.

Several things above don't need to be cured at all, they are blights on society (homosexuality, extra-marital sex, immigration, obesity)

The others are illness or disease, which last I checked only got cured through medical science, and poverty.

Poverty has been a source of shame for those who live in it since forever. Punishment doesn't cure it either, whether it's Workhouses or debtors prison or Welfare to Work policies.

We've tried shame, punishment, and restriction for eons to end poverty. Perhaps it's time we tried something less stupid. Perhaps it's time we realized that poverty is not the result of personal, individual failures but of a society that refuses to provide basic living requirements to the least powerful of it's members.

(It is probably a good thing that our internet died when it did- as I was so angry at the fauxgressive, sexist, classist, fat shaming going on at that my blood pressure was seriously rising. I have no more patience for helpful wolves in sheep costume)

PPS-- I cannot type blog posts from my phone, but I can read comments and might be able to respond, so consider this an open thread. I miss you peeps.