Saturday, April 03, 2010

Pay The Writer

(Just a friendly reminder- the subscription button is up and to the left)

This video brought to you via the awesome peeps at But I Did Everything Right

Friday, April 02, 2010

A Quick and Dirty Primer on the Economics of Kyriarchy

First- are you all enjoying the quick and dirty primers? I'm not getting a ton of comments on them but I do like writing them.

Feedback peeps, Mama needs feedback.

(I spent an extraordinary amount of time drawing this in Word because I can't install photoshop on this compy. Be a love and if you use this image link back to this post)

When we talk about the kyriarchy, we are talking about a system of oppressions that places people in a heirarchy shaped like a pyramid. But that is only half the story. Oppression has a practical function. It changes the way we allocate resources. If you look at the whole picture, it's a diagonally cut square, with resources on one side and people on the other.

Now you can divide that further into classes. I'm using the US as an example, and have divided the classes into 5, or 20% of the population. It is not an accident that the shading on the class side gets darker the lower you get.

How your class is determined is where the system of oppression steps in. The very first condition that establishes your class is:

What is your parent's class/ income?

That is how poverty and wealth become generational situations. If you have wealthy parents you will have better access to food, education, healthcare, and the connections necessary to create your own wealth. You will also have an inheritance, left over money from your parents.

If you have poor parents, you will have less or no access to food, education, healthcare and connections. You will also not be receiving an inheritance but you may end up going into debt upon your parents death in order to pay for funeral costs.

This is why African American women have a grand total of $5 in assets.

After the wealth of your parents, there are conditions that move you up or down the pyramid. The more positives you have, the higher you go. The more negatives, the lower. But none of these traits are earned, so to speak. Hard work doesn't factor into it. Intelligence doesn't factor into it. Not even ambition factors into it.

Things that move you up are: being male, white, hetero, cis, able bodied, citizen, with wealthy parents who could afford to give you a decent education and a wife who performs traditional household and child rearing tasks while you earn money.

Things that move you down: being female, non-white, non-het, trans, having a disability, non-citizen, with poor parents and little access to education, and being a single mother.

So on the kyriarchy scale I have +white, +citizen, + het, +cis, - female, - disability, -poor parents, - single mother.

That should make me break even, if all these things were weighted the same. But they aren't. The kyriarchy weights negatives more than positives. Its purpose is to push more people to the bottom.

Why might it need more people at the bottom?

Go back and look at the graph. Resources and classes go together for a reason, and resources are on top because they are gained on the backs of others. The more people at the bottom, the more resources at the top. It is a feature of the system, not a bug.

This is how a socialist system MIGHT look. Notice that there are still elites, but they are at the top now based on political and not economic power
That little turquoise triangle is the entire reason for groups such as the teabaggers and why middle class white men fight so hard to keep their privilege. That's all just a small triangle of resources that is going to disappear anyways. We are very quickly heading towards a society that looks like this

Art Blogging: The Awesome that is Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos- The Bride

The other day, Other Cousin sent me this link to one of the wedding blogs she frequents (yes, both cousins are engaged and taking part in the Wedding Industrial Complex. Yes, I will be a bridesmaid (2x), If I didn't love these 2 women with my whole heart there is no way I'd put on a fancy dress and help them pee while they are wearing their own fancy dresses)

What you are seeing above is a chandelier made entirely out of OB tampons. I oh'd and awed over it when Other Cousin sent it, but it was not the first time I had oh'd and awed over Vasconcelos' work. She is brill, peeps. She is more than just a second coming of Judy Chicago (and that's saying a lot because I lurve me some Chicago). She focuses on the way we see femininity and then blows it apart. Take the tampon chandelier. Here is a beautiful (and giant) piece of art made from the little bits of hygienic cotton that are supposed to keep our disgusting lady parts clogged up while we are "on the rag".

But long before I ever saw the tampon sculpture, I fell in love with with her crocheted skulls

Now lemme tell you a little something about art history and women. If you make something that is both pretty and usable and you are a girl, it's called decorative arts and the "real" artists of the world will look down on you as a hobbyist. Do you make quilts? Or paint china? Or crochet or make lace? You are not a "real" artiste. This is why Chicago's Dinner Party is so successful at subverting the women aren't real artists meme, it's not only a pretty representations of famous women's vulvas, it's dinner plates, a decorative art.

And Vasconcelos does the same thing with her crotchet pieces. It's a big fuck you to the dominant paradigm. In addition to this gorgeous skull, she's crocheted a crab shell, an entire piano, a laptop, a mannequin and a dog and a whole list of stuff I can't even fit here.

Shoe made from pots and lids

And oh she is prolific. Which is awesome because I could look at her stuff all day.

Further reading and ogling

and just do a google image search for her name if you want to browse some artsy eye candy

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Hey are you an eco geek?

I want to find something to do with all the old lithium ion batteries we have laying around from numerous dead cell phones, cameras, etc.

I would love to find a way to turn them into solar charge holding power cells. We have mucho sun. We have ginormous electric bills. We are way too poor to afford solar panels. (For the amount of energy a 9 person family uses, we'd need about 100k for solar panels.)

Wonder thought that stripping the solar cells out of calculators and solar lights might be a way to go about it.

Suggestions? Wanna donate batteries or solar powered things? Hit me up in comments.

A Quick and Dirty Primer on Copyright

I threw a link up in reader from Corrente, but I wanted to link to the original post so that I can give you the rundown on copyright. Go read the original, then come back.

First things first:

There is no such thing as original thought.

What, you're saying. That's a load of whooey. Of course there is original thought. How would we have scientific breakthroughs or beautiful art if it weren't for original thinkers?

No person comes from nowhere. We are not found fully grown with all our thoughts and ideas developed after a childhood spent under a rock. We are social creatures. We are learning creatures. We require information from other humans from the second we enter the world, and before that we require more than just information. No one thinks in a bubble, safe from the influences of the world. Actually, feral children are less able to think and communicate ideas, that is how important other people are to our existence as humans.

We build on the ideas and solutions of others. We may take an idea a step further than it's been taken in the past, or discard it entirely, but that is always because information has come from somewhere outside ourselves and we have managed to piece together a new way of seeing things.

Lemme give you an example, Einstein would never have been able to come up with E=MC2 if it hadn't been for Emilie du Chatelet, Volatire's girlfriend and the person who proved how to measure work 200 years before Einstein started having thought experiments. Einstein is thought of, by the general population, as one of the most original thinkers in history, but he couldn't be that if it weren't for the thinking of other people before him.

So no thought comes from nowhere. Ever.

That said, we still want credit for our ideas. But credit is different than ownership.

When I was in college I had a poly sci proff who was really good at lecturing on the basics, idealism, realism blah blah blah. But he didn't really have a solid grasp of some other philosophies, namely progressive ideas. So when I heard him using my exact wording, my exact framing, my exact phrasing while giving a lecture on structuralism, I knew he got his knowledge from one of my papers.

There were several suggestions given to me by other people:
1) Complain to his boss
2) Ask him for a TA job if he was going to use me to teach anyways

Neither of these sat well with me. I was comfortable with him, and didn't have a problem taking credit. But the ideas in my paper weren't mine to begin with, they were just explanations, definitions of something that already existed. He wasn't making a profit off my ideas and he obviously learned something about a theory he didn't know much about.

In the end I got him to write me a damn fine letter of recommendation instead. It includes the phrase "most promising student I have ever had the honor to teach". That worked for me. I just wanted credit for giving him a view he hadn't had before.

Now think about those comedians. They are using the same kind of informal system to get credit for their work.

Copyright law negates that. It removes the ability to further an idea because it becomes to costly to work with ownership of the original idea. So instead of giving non-monetary credit to past idea holders by 1) acknowledging it and 2) using their past work to build on, you have to come up with a completely different idea (based not on anything original, but on things that aren't copyright protected).

Here's an example of how not having copyrights actually expands business and creativity- fashion! (Weeeeeeeeee)

You can't copyright a piece of clothing. If you could, there would be only one maker of jackets in this country. Or purses. Or shoes. All jeans would be Levis.

Since you can't copyright it, fashion can fill damn near every niche, from price to style (though they are still scared of making clothes for the fatties- I blame that on the severe malnutrition they must be suffering from). You can buy a $5 tshirt, or a $100 tshirt. You can get jeans for $18 at Walmart, or special raw denim designer jeans for $200.

But there is a stigma to straight up copying another designer. You ain't gonna get your knock off bags featured in Vogue. It's a trade off. Do you want to try for elite status and very likely fail. Lots of designers do. Or do you want to make something more likely to sell but at a much reduced price? Lots of designers do that too.

Fashion is the giant industry that it is not because everyone wears clothes, but because there are few restraints on the creative side of the process. You want cheaper drugs, greener products, better music on the radio- remove the constraints on the creative side (i/e copyright) but keep or improve restraints on the safety and or labor side (no sweatshops, fair wages, must not kill people using it or working with it).

Free marketeers will be crying when reading that passage. But but but.... You can see their bottom lips go into the pouty thing. It's funny that people who want absolutely no safety or labor restraints want to restrain people from improving on ideas. They want to compete for the worst possible positions, but get nauseous thinking that someone might outthink them.

Copyright stifles progress. It limits expansion. It keeps us stuck. There are ways of crediting past ideas without stifling future ones, and they have nothing to do with the current law. But those ways would severely undermine those who already have power. Remember, with very few exceptions (coughMetalicacough) it is the record companies and not the musicians who throw fits over file sharing. That ought to tell you something about who copyright laws actually benefit.

Oh shiny! New subscription service

Do you love snark? Do you love the bitchy, occasionally bitter rantings I post here? Do you miss me when I'm gone? Do you feel more culturally astute when you've read some art blogging? Or at least that misery loves company when I just get down on the whole political process?

Have you added phrases like virtuous foodies or meddling middling middles to your repertoire? Used an RQ Cooks recipe to make cheap and tasty food?

Then you might think of hitting that shiny subscribe button up there, to the left. Before I even contemplate buying groceries or keeping the lights on, I have to pay for the internet, phone and storage. The internet and phone are what make this site possible. To date i have exactly one very generous reader who every single month throws $20 in the donation bin. And that is the total amount of reliable income I have in the world, 20 bucks a month.

So if you can find it in your pockets, under your couch, wherever, every subscription makes a huge difference in whether or not my stomach is going to eat itself in stress this month and whether or not this site will continue to exist.

Many smooches to the generous donor, and to all the past generous donors out there. You save my ass. Seriously.

RQ Cooks! Awesome Fried Rice

My fried rice recipe has been evolving since high school. I finally have it perfect, though it is not at all traditional. But it is better than the Poverty fried rice recipe.

Trade Mark alert! When I have shared this recipe in the past I have noted that you must call this "Lizzie's Awesome Fried Rice" when you make it. Just because you are in bloglandia does not mean that my spidey senses won't know if you forget the "Lizzie's Awesome Fried Rice" tittle. I will know. And the kitchen gods will smite you for your hubris!

You need

A half pound thick cut pepper bacon (If you buy a full pound, you can make it twice)
3 or 4 carrots, diced
3 or 4 celery stalks, sliced
2 medium onion, chopped
6 to 10 Brussel sprouts, chopped into shreds or a half a small cabbage
a dash of veggie oil
cooked rice (I make this for 10 people at a time, so I make 5 cups of rice in the rice cooker or about 10 cups cooked)
a little bit of better than bullion chicken flavor (I don't know if this actually does anything, but I've been doing it every time and everyone loves this recipe so much I am loath to change it)
red pepper flakes
soy sauce

First- start your rice, use the better than bullion in the rice water

While rice is cooking, in the biggest skillet or wok you have, cook the bacon SLOWLY over medium to medium low heat. You want to render out as much fat as you can. That is why slowly.

While bacon is cooking, chop veggies. Put carrots, celery and onions together, keep sprouts or cabbage separate.

When bacon is done, remove from pan and add a dash of veggie oil.Turn heat up to high and toss in the carrot/celery onion mix.

Add a dash of red pepper flakes and some soy sauce.

Cook until the liquid is nearly gone and the onions start to brown a little

Add sprouts and another dash of soy sauce (this is a soy sauce delivery vehicle)

Cook until sprouts are browned

Chop bacon and add to pan

Add rice to pan and stir stir stir. Your arms will ache, keep stirring. Add some more soy sauce so that the rice gets a lovely carmel color and picks up all the bits of bacon fat and crumbles from the bottom of the pan.


Watch your friends and loved ones ohhhhh and ahhhhhh over magically delicious dinner.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


That's the current balance owed in child support for the Kid.

The Kid is 15, there are exactly 36 months left before he turns 18. If his dad were to try to pay all the back support before Kid turns 18, that would be $1245 per month. Enough to provide the kid with food, shelter and clothing.

But he won't pay that. He won't pay the $328 that is the monthly amount, expecting him to pay any of the back child support is like believing in Santa.

And what really chaps my hide is I can see that douchebag saying "well, I'd rather owe it to ya than cheat you out of it".

It's not me that he owes it too though. He's cheating his kid out of a decent life. That's inexcusable.

This has been your daily bitter rant. Please remember that 70 percent of all child support cases in this country are in arrears, and not a damn thing is being done about it.

A Tale of 2 Movies: Taken vs. The Brave One

Last night I finally got around to watching Taken (Liam Nesson-I love you) and a few nights ago I watched The Brave One .I was struck by how these two movies have basically the same theme: you hurt/killed someone I love and now I have to find something to do with all this rage, but the way the story is handled makes the difference between an action movie where you wince through everything that isn't a fight scene and a movie that is just straight up awesome without relying on played out stereotypes.

Spoilers below people. Spoilers!

Let's start with Taken. Liam Nesson. Seriously I would have watched this movie if they cut out the entire lame plot and just called it "Liam Nesson kicks ass for 93 minutes". He is, as ever, fabulous. He is understated mostly in his acting, which is good cause if he was anything else it would be Schwazenager-esq. He makes fight scenes worth watching.

And that is all the good I have to say for this movie. Mind you, Liam Nesson is a whole lot of good. But...

It doesn't pass the Bechdel test. Actually there isn't a single female character in this whole movie who is treated like a human being. We have precious virgin daughter, bitchy money grubbing ex wife, spoiled pop star, and a whole lot of rape victims who are basically ignored except for frantic camera shots from one drugged, chained, half naked girl to another.

Plus there's the whole purity angle shit. Kim, the daughter is a virgin, which means the kidnappers have extra special plans for her. Kim's friend is slutty, she jokes about sleeping with the hot french guy they just met. Kim's friend will end up dead of a drug overdose, chained half naked to a bed. Kim gets to be saved because her "certified pure" status makes her uber-valuable to rapey brown men.

Oh yeah, and every single one of the bad guys in this movie is a brown dude, except for a Frenchman or two. Seriously, it could be the blueprint for the "evil muslims want to rape our daughters!" playbook.

Now on to a movie that doesn't treat women like fuckholes or virgin angels, and treats brown people like *shock, awe* people.

In The Brave One, Jodi Foster and her boyfriend are brutally robbed and beaten. Her boyfriend is killed. To overcome her agoraphobia, she buys a gun. And then she starts using it. Terrence Howard (who in real life is a SUPER DOUCHE!) plays a cop trying to catch the "vigilante" who keeps killing criminals in the city.

First, this movie passes all the tests. Women talk to other women about things that aren't boyfriends. POC talk to POC about things that aren't racism related.

But here's what really surprised me, and made me damn near giddy. In nearly every single scene in the movie, there is a POC. And they aren't all bad guys. Actually, most of them are just going about their lives, like normal people. It's beautiful. It's not even some ham-fisted anti-racism colorblind message. It's just "these people exist in the world", you know, like they actually do exist in the world.

I'm not going to spoil much of the plot for The Brave One. Go watch it. It's good. Really really good. And then you can still watch Taken, just fast forward through every scene where Liam isn't kicking ass.

I will not

watch action movies before bed.

I will not watch action movies before bed.

I will not watch action movies before bed.

Not even if they star Liam Nesson.



I'm so not going to sleep tonight (today, it's today already)

A Dr. Phil Moment

(As a preface lemme say this-Dr. Phil is a douchebag. He has no business counseling living people. But his whole "get real" schtick is useful in political analysis)

So I have this idea, and it's only a wee bit flushed out at the moment. If you all wanna help me with the flushing, yippy. It started as a random thought while in the kitchen making Awesome Fried Rice. Why won't the administration come straight out against the right wing loonies? In Dr. Phil speak- what does it gain Democrats (capital D, TM) to have these violent folks screaming for blood?

I'm thinking about Machiavelli and the reputation of princes. A prince must be seen to have certain qualities (humane for example) while not actually having these qualities because they make for a bad leader (can't go around actually being just, fair, merciful and generous because what would your corporate sponsors think).

So how might one go about being seen as just or fair or liberal without actually being any of these things?

Well you might start by refusing to label right wing terrorists as terrorists. You might make yourself seem fair by giving fellow Americans the benefit of the doubt that they don't want to start a massive race war, even though they keep saying they do.

And from this small act of non-confrontation you get a shit ton of rewards.

1) The appearance of benevolence, especially after you've just thrown half the population under a bus
2) You get to corner the political market on rational discourse, because even if what you are saying isn't really beneficial to the majority of the people, at least you don't sound like the screaming bloody teabaggers
3) You get to paint the dissenters from your own party with the same crazy brush that you paint the opposition with. Either they shut up, or they get thrown into the pot with their worst enemies.
4) You can pretend bipartisianship (let's be real folks, we are governed by an Omniparty with a far right and a semi-far right corporatist bent) by making deals with the screaming crazies. Then they look more crazy when they complain, corporate sponsors are happy cause they still get what they want, and it "looks" like we have a 2 party government.

So I am not really surprised that Obama isn't calling domestic terrorism for what it is. It's not in his best interest to do so. For very little effort and risk on his part, the Teabaggers serve a useful purpose to the administration. However, for the rest of us, the teabaggers are pretty dangerous. Oklahoma City bombing didn't blow up the politicians, just clerks and secretaries and a bunch of kids in a daycare.

(FTR- I actually lean towards the Machiavelli wrote the Prince as satire camp. In his own life, he was an intensely ethical person. I think he wrote a blue print for us common folks to know what fresh new hell our government is inflicting on us)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Music

After the news today about the people arrested for plotting to kill police officers in Michigan, I thought this song was appropriate

Moxy Fruvous: Michigan Militia

And since were doing Moxy Fruvous

King of Spain

And The Gulf War Song, from the first Gulf War

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A quick and dirty primer on progressive macroeconomics

Wonder has brought to my attention that economics is a concept that a lot of people are afraid of, even smart well informed people. I think this might have something to do with the idea that economics is supposed to involve the scary MATH. But in reality, economic theory uses very little math. Specifics use math, but theory, no.

So i told Wonder and the Kid that I'd teach them a few things about economics. I am not an economist, but I know some stuff and maybe some of you all would like to see silly little sharpie drawn graphs explaining economics.
So first we are going to start with a basic macro system. It's made up of 3 parts, the people, business, and government and it looks a bit like a triangle.

Stuff flows into and out of each part. People give their labor to business in exchange for wages and their money (wages) to business in exchange for goods and services. People and business give their money to the government in the form of taxes in exchange for services.

So far that's all pretty basic econ stuff, here's where the progressive part comes in.

Only one of these three parts is real. Only one part exists without the others.

So when economists or other "learned" men talk about the inevitability of economic things, like how a free market will regulate itself, they are lying. Free markets are not like water, they do not find their own level through physics or gravity or some natural force. They are created by people and do not exist without people and will only be as "good" as the people who create them.

While I'm on the subject of "good" let me take a quick detour. Business has no morality, it is neither good nor bad. It is amoral. Its single focus is on making a profit. That these profits often come at the expense of people is not business' concern and we should stop being shocked when companies poison toothpaste or dog food with cheap fillers. Of course business will choose cheap over safe. Safe does not increase profits.

That is why we have both government and business. Government's job is to protect the people. That is the sole reason for it's existence.


In our system, government and business are trading partners (and I massively simplified the drawing). Business not only pays taxes, but pays lobbies and makes campaign donations all in an attempt to pay less taxes and receive more services or keep profit margins wide by keeping labor costs low. And it also wants to siphon off the money that we people pay into the government by providing services that the government normally handles, like military contracting instead of soldiers or charter schools instead of public schools or health insurance instead of health care.

And government isn't the reticent dance partner in this. Because neither business nor government exist without the will of the people, both parts actively work to control the people in order to gain or maintain legitimacy. A key element of this is the election process and two party system. Without business money to fuel elections, politicians don't get elected. And you can't get business backing if you are a progressive because you are a direct threat to the business/government legitimacy pipeline.

So basically this is what the triangle looks like now

This is why neither the public option nor medicare for all had any sort of a chance in the healthcare debate. They remove legitimacy from business by explicitly comparing the efficiency of a non-profit government protection system to a for-profit business service.

But remember, neither of these things are real, but we are. We are what gives them power and we can change that. But first we have to know how the current system works