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    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Weekend Homework

    1. Hungry? zp teaches cheap and easy scones! Yummy!

    2. Rian Johnson's high school take on Dashiell Hammett, Brick, is getting surprisingly good reviews. Regardless, it's a high school take on Dashiell Hammett, people. Dunno if it's playing everywhere, or just NY. And it'll keep you from seeing this Basic Instinct 2 crap just because it's "bisexual" - be strong.

    3. Subscribe yourself to The Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day email here. But, if you don't, don't worry - EL's got you on the poems for National Poetry Month! My Amusement Park will be celebrating all month long!

    4. Sarah Waters's new book, The Night Watch is in stores. Buy it, or stroke it on the shelf if you're waiting for library or paperback.

    New Yorkers:

    5. Besides being National Poetry Month, it's also Jazz Appreciation Month! Jazz at Lincoln Center and XM Radio offer a day of free jazz at Lincoln Center- and it's family friendly. More info here.

    I Hate Prudence

    Prudence is screwy today!

    Dear Prudence,
    For the past few years, I've been dating a man in a significantly different socioeconomic class from mine. Between the two of us, this isn't much of a problem because his wealthy parents raised him with humility and social awareness, but among some of his friends, I often feel horrified by their entitled attitudes. They complain about having three weeks in Italy this summer and how boring that will get. They turn to me and ask which is my favorite thing about France, the city or the countryside? When I politely remind them of my status, which includes having been really hungry with nothing to fall back on, never having traveled to Europe, and paying for my own education, they say, "Oh, how lovely to have had that experience! You should write a novel about it!" How can a poor person politely explain to a wealthy one that their bourgeois dilemmas are hurtful to hear about, and that having one's painful experiences ironically aestheticized is no favor?

    —Ex-Redneck Grad Student

    Dear Ex,
    Maybe you've been watching too much Masterpiece Theatre—these people aren't viscounts and duchesses and you're not the scullery maid, they just grew up with more money than you. You made it out from poverty and are putting yourself through graduate school, where you can flaunt your vocabulary—"ironically aestheticized" indeed. Yes, it is obnoxious to assume everyone's traveled to France. But in response to your self-pitying tale, suggesting you write a novel was certainly more polite than pointing out that the chip on your shoulder is the size of the Appalachians. Spending the evening referring to your financial status makes you a bore—and that's true whether you're rich or poor. If you can't find more congenial topics to discuss when you're with these people, at least you can have some laughs with your boyfriend later about their cruel fate at having to spend three weeks in Italy.


    You know what makes me so mad about this? Referring to one's travels is not considered "referring to your financial status" though referring to one's lack of travels upon being asked! is somehow a sign of "a chip on her/his shoulder the size of the Appalachians" (so cute)!?

    This is entitlement: the sense that whatever you want to do or were already doing is just fine and dandy and, if anyone has a problem with it, it's their "chip on their shoulder" rather than your sickening myopia and insensitivity.

    I am so sick of being asked about my (as it turns out, nonexistant) travels abroad. I am so sick of the assumptions rich people get to make and then the rest of us have to respond either with honesty and pride (chip on our shoulder) or with shame.

    Also, why shouldn't this person write as s/he writes? Why critique her/his style: if s/he came from a humble background, she shouldn't be allowed to use "ironically aestheticized" as if it belongs to her? S/he's in fucking grad school- I imagine s/he might just be using the language that, at this point, comes to her/him naturally, rather than "flaunting her/his vocabulary".

    Something about Prudie's response kinda makes you think maybe she's one of those people complaining about three weeks in Italy and doesn't want to feel bad about it.

    Now, I don't think the cool thing to do is to go into her/his sob story every time someone whips out a complaint about Europe, but certainly these people need a reminder that the world they inhabit is not, strictly speaking, the world at large.


    Dear Prudence,
    My elderly father has a history of holding unreasonable grudges against family members. About six years ago, he decided he had been slighted by my husband, and no amount of apology or pleading that it was a misunderstanding would change his mind. I was hurt, but took my children to visit him sans husband because he is their grandfather. My kids don't know about the rift—they were always told Daddy couldn't come to Grandpa's because he had to work. Last fall, my beloved husband died after an accident. My father has been supportive, and we are visiting him in a few weeks. But the resentment that was simmering over the whole issue is now eating me alive. My husband was a wonderful man, as witnessed by the fact that there were hundreds of people at his funeral and articles about his life and accomplishments. I know my father isn't going to change his mind, but I feel that he owes me an apology for the way he treated my husband. If I don't get it, I'm afraid I will explode at him and say something to destroy what's left of our relationship. His health is failing and he probably won't be around much longer, but this anger is just killing me.


    Dear Bereaved,
    It's understandable that your father's cruelty toward your husband would feel so corrosive right now. But the father you describe does not sound like a man who will recognize the wrong he did or apologize for it. You were mature enough to keep up a civil relationship with your father. Because of that he has a good relationship with your children and they will probably cling to him. You mention that he's quite ill, so his death will be another blow to them. Since you already know you will not get the thing you need—and deserve—from your father, you must figure out how to see him without letting it tear you up. Could you write a letter before you go, explaining what an apology would mean to you and give it to him when you leave? Can you let your children spend a lot of time with him, while you spend as little as possible? If you decide you simply can't stand not saying something, can you save it until you are departing? Be proud that you and your husband always behaved well toward your father, despite his provocations. Remembering that might help you get through this visit. Then, when you're back home consider seeing a grief counselor. Not just because of this issue, but because you have been through a terrible trauma, and you should do anything for yourself that will bring comfort.


    You know what bugs me here? This line: "You were mature enough to keep up a civil relationship with your father." Is that really maturity? Is letting your father jerk everyone around and act like an absolute asshat just because he's your dad actually mature or is it the kind of thing we do our whole childhoods and early adulthoods until we endow our parents with human agency and go, "Listen Dad, this is ridiculous. Get a grip." And then, "Be proud that you and your husband always behaved well toward your father," meaning "Be proud that you let your dad trample over your partner." I don't think anyone should have to put up with that kind of crap from an "in-law" (or in-law-type-person) because their partner should stand up for them. Why is Prudie patting this lady on the back for being spineless? I mean, isn't that spinelessness and immaturity exactly what makes her feel so crazy now?

    The Advice Blender takes on the same column, but apparently likes the new Prudie, whom I can't stand.

    Plath Or Sexton?!

    Squishy Sexy says:

    *You're either a Plath girl or a Sexton girl, the way you're either a Pearl Jam person or a Nirvana person.

    Is this true? I agree on the Nirvana-Pearl Jam thing (and I am sooooooooo a Nirvana person), but must one choose between Sexton and Plath? And, if so, does one ever heal?

    I, unusually perhaps, got into Sexton first and thought myself a "Sexton girl" until one furtive, late-night encounter with Ariel.
    A taste of each:

    Burning the Letters
    By Sylvia Plath

    I made a fire; being tired
    Of the white fists of old
    Letters and their death rattle
    When I came too close to the wastebasket.
    What did they know that I didn't?
    Grain by grain, they unrolled
    Sands where a dream of clear water
    Grinned like a getaway car.
    I am not subtle
    Love, love, and well, I was tired
    Of cardboard cartons the color of cement or a dog pack
    Holding in its hate
    Dully, under a pack of men in red jackets,
    And the eyes and times of the postmarks.

    This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless:
    A glass case
    My fingers would enter although
    They melt and sag, they are told
    Do not touch.
    And here is an end to the writing,
    The spry hooks that bend and cringe and the smiles, the smiles
    And at least it will be a good place now, the attic.
    At least I won't be strung just under the surface,
    Dumb fish
    With one tin eye,
    Watching for glints,
    Riding my Arctic
    Between this wish and that wish.

    So, I poke at the carbon birds in my housedress.
    They are more beautiful than my bodiless owl,
    They console me--
    Rising and flying, but blinded.
    They would flutter off, black and glittering, they would be coal angels
    Only they have nothing to say to anybody.
    I have seen to that.
    With the butt of a rake
    I flake up papers that breathe like people,
    I fan them out
    Between the yellow lettuces and the German cabbage
    Involved in its weird blue dreams,
    Involved in a foetus.
    And a name with black edges

    Wilts at my foot,
    Sinuous orchis
    In a nest of root-hairs and boredom--
    Pale eyes, patent-leather gutturals!
    Warm rain greases my hair, extinguishes nothing.
    My veins glow like trees.
    The dogs are tearing a fox. This is what it is like--
    A red burst and a cry
    That splits from its ripped bag and does not stop
    With the dead eye
    And the stuffed expression, but goes on
    Dyeing the air,
    Telling the particles of the clouds, the leaves, the water
    What immortality is. That it is immortal

    Wanting to Die
    by Anne Sexton

    Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
    I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
    Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

    Even then I have nothing against life.
    I know well the grass blades you mention,
    the furniture you have placed under the sun.

    But suicides have a special language.
    Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
    They never ask why build.

    Twice I have so simply declared myself,
    have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
    have taken on his craft, his magic.

    In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
    warmer than oil or water,
    I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

    I did not think of my body at needle point.
    Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
    Suicides have already betrayed the body.

    Still-born, they don't always die,
    but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
    that even children would look on and smile.

    To thrust all that life under your tongue!--
    that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
    Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say,

    and yet she waits for me, year after year,
    to so delicately undo an old wound,
    to empty my breath from its bad prison.

    Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
    raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
    leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

    leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
    something unsaid, the phone off the hook
    and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

    H.B. 1212 in CO

    Colorado legislature did something way cool, but it looks like the asshat Governor's ready to wreck it:

    A bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe emergency contraception to girls and women in Colorado cleared one of its final legislative hurdles Thursday but appeared headed for a veto.

    The Senate tentatively approved House Bill 1212 by a 21-14 vote. Final approval is expected today.

    But Republican Gov. Bill Owens has "strong concerns" about the bill, particularly a provision allowing pharmacists to give the pills to minors without medical consultation, said Owens' spokesman, Dan Hopkins.

    Owens also has voiced concerns about whether it is "proper" to have pharmacists prescribe drugs, Hopkins said.

    The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Betty Boyd, said she expects Owens to veto the measure.

    Last year, he vetoed a bill that would have required health care providers to inform rape victims about emergency contraception. An attempt to override his action failed in the House.

    Colorado residents: have you called your Governor? (303) 866-2471

    The Face of Godlessness

    According to Some Guys Are Normal, our new guy in the White House, Joshua Bolten (a.k.a. Yosh) is living in sin, in an ... unmarried partnership ... with kids. Those kids are going to be scarred for life!

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    The Duke Situation

    I don't read the news for a week and lo and behold: A woman hired to dance for the Duke lacrosse team describes a night of racial slurs, growing fear and, finally, sexual violence.

    You know what though? This didn't happen this week. This happened March 13!

    Justice 4 Two Sisters is giving the "incident" the coverage it deserves. So keep checking because song4assata keeps updating.

    What makes me most angry about the situation is how this whole team of guys is keeping quiet. If I were the mother, girlfriend, wife, sister, whatever of one of those players, I'd be like this: "Either you tell everything you know or keep the fuck away from me and everyone I love." I hope to hell that every single member of the Duke Lacrosse Team is fearing for their lives right now, whether they were part of the rape or not, because by keeping quiet, they are part of it. I hope they feel the fear that their victim felt. And I hope the Duke community fosters that fear. Rachel says: On a more positive note, the student paper is reporting that about 250 students and community members have been protesting for 3 days outside of the house where the incident happened. So, that's good. That ritual shunning stuff could be well-applied here. Find names of these guys here.

    If someone on the team wasn't present and doesn't have information about the assault, the least he could fucking do is issue a statement of solidarity with the victim and an expression of shame over his teammates. The team's "wall of solidarity"- why would anyone want to be in solidarity with these guys? Maybe it seems harsh to lump the other players in, but please, grow a backbone. You're such a baby you can't stand up to your buddies?

    Rachel's Tavern has a great round-up but I encourage you to go further to check out the Comments section. If you think these rapists grew up in a pro-rape vacuum which is foreign to the rest of us, check out comments like this:

    [referring to shame heaped upon players who did not participate in the rape, but are keeping quiet]sounds like PC run amok - Drydock


    I don't know if this was business or personal, but going to a house full of drunk college men is dangerous, IMAO. She certainly didn't deserve this, but people need to think. I don't see anything good that can result in her going to this place. -Mannes

    Mannes, the woman went there to do her job. What good could come of it? Well, she hoped to return home with cash to pay for her tuition and put food on the table for her two kids. That's the good that could come of it. And now she has to go around apologizing for her job in order to even get a hearing on her brutal gang rape and assault?

    And by the way, yes, Mannes, "going to a house full of drunk college men is dangerous": do you really think this woman didn't know that? And, if she knew and did it anyway, might there be a pretty serious fucking reason why? In other words, she wasn't doing this for fun, asshole. If she had every career option in the world and still did this, there still wouldn't be any reason for her to have been raped beyond pure ... I don't even know the word for it.

    Yes, this is "blame-the-victim" despite the disclaimer. Do you know how dangerous it is to work construction? Very. And yet men line up around the block for union apprenticeships. Why? Because it pays well and not everyone can afford to take cush over cash.

    From the Captain of the Duke Lacrosse Team's "statement":

    “We also stated unequivocally that any allegation that a sexual assault or rape occurred is totally and transparently false.

    Dear Captain of Duke Lacrosse Team and all your buds,

    This woman was raped and sodomized- this is a fact. Even if you, personally, did not do it, it may be possible that a few of your 46 teammates did. You might not have seen it. Doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    Fuck you,

    Tiffany of Blackfeminism says:

    So basically — and quite typically of universities, particularly private ones — what we have is a group of unruly assholes (athletes), and a permissive campus culture that rewards their behavior both explicitly and implicitly simply because they’re athletes. They bring money and prestige to the school. And god(dess) forbid a story about what really goes on among athletes on college campuses comes to light. The PR department tries to quell the negative press. And everyone else is so busy trying to protect the program that the victims get fucked-over twice.

    I am so fucking sick of these male college athletes. Every time I turn around they're linking arms in solidarity so they can continue to rape with impunity, not to mention all kinds of other (at best) unruly and (at worst) criminal behavior. The fact that we care enough about these kids who happen to be really good at a game to allow them to make their own rules really shows what kind of a pathetic culture we have. I know I'm making serious generalizations here and there are probably really good guys who are also college athletes, but, it's true, I don't hear about them, as someone who doesn't patronize the sports industry. I mean, when are universities going to figure it out- it doesn't matter how much cash they make you if your female students (and probably many male students as well) walk around campus afraid of this small minority of students.

    I mean, you already have a bunch of rich white entitled asses at a school like Duke anyway (how many of these kids were from Long Island? Plenty, but can't remember the exact #), add sports to the equation and you truly have people who believe the world is their oyster in the sense that they should be able to stab a fork in every inch of it, scot-free.

    But how do you teach these guys that they shouldn't walk around with this sense of entitlement? How can you when the truth is that they probably will get just about everything they ever want served up to them on a silver platter and they'll be able to behave like completes and utter assholes every moment of their lives, abusing and raping everyone they meet, and they'll still end up living in some 10,000 square foot house with a beautiful, subservient wife and beautiful, bratty (but they won't have to deal with it) kids. God, I wish I could find some way to make people like this miserable for awhile so they could learn to be human.

    Ancrene Wiseass was cool enough to link to contact info for Richard H. Brodhead, the President of Duke. Make sure you let him know how this makes Duke look to you.

    Also check this out: Fiona Morgan talks to black female students at Duke. Hat tip to Sharon Cullars.

    God, I just can't get it out of my mind: "Thank your grandpa for my cotton shirt." I'd love to hang them with their cotton shirts.

    Where in the World is EL?

    I was so so so so so sick. Sicker than I've ever been in my life. I missed y'all very much and am glad to be back to blogging.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Join A Million Voices For Darfur

    Do this.

    Go here.

    I mean it. I know it seems pointless, you wonder what impact it'll actually have, but do it anyway, just in case.

    Read more about the current situation here,
    here, here, and here.

    Rabbi Mordechai Liebling on his meeting with General Bashir and his closest advisors:

    I think I now understand how privilege and denial function together—as happened in Germany. It made me reflect on my own levels of denial as a privileged person in our global society. ... These genteel, cultivated people showed me no consciousness of the rapes and murders by the janjaweed. They would not engage in any discussion of the slow genocide that keeps going on. It was a classic example of cognitive dissonance, of denial, and that is how it also happened in Germany.

    Thanks to Quaker Agitator.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Top 100 Overlooked Films of the 1990s

    Saw it on The Countess.

    The Online Film Critics Society's Top 100 Overlooked Films of the 1990s:
    Miller's Crossing
    The Sweet Hereafter
    Lone Star
    Heavenly Creatures
    Waiting for Guffman
    The Hudsucker Proxy
    Babe: Pig in the City
    Dead Man
    Chungking Express
    The Straight Story
    Searching for Bobby Fischer
    Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai
    That Thing You Do!
    Dead Again
    Zero Effect
    The Butcher Boy
    Truly, Madly, Deeply
    In the Company of Men
    Devil in a Blue Dress
    The Red Violin
    Cemetery Man
    Welcome to the Dollhouse
    The Apostle
    Eve's Bayou
    Hard Eight
    Defending Your Life
    A Little Princess
    Bringing Out the Dead
    Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
    Jacob's Ladder
    The Spanish Prisoner
    Pump Up the Volume
    Beautiful Girls
    The Double Life of Veronique
    Very Bad Things
    Richard III
    October Sky
    Strange Days
    My Neighbor Totoro
    L.A. Story
    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
    A Bronx Tale
    The Limey
    A Perfect World
    Before Sunrise
    Bob Roberts
    Raise the Red Lantern
    One False Move
    The Ref
    Joe Versus the Volcano
    The Ice Storm
    The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
    The Winslow Boy
    Girl on the Bridge
    Bullet in the Head
    Cannibal! The Musical
    Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
    The Last Days of Disco
    Eye of God
    Flirting with Disaster
    Bottle Rocket
    Ashes of Time
    Fallen Angels
    Great Expectations
    A Midnight Clear
    Deep Cover
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    The People vs. Larry Flynt
    Quick Change
    The Secret of Roan Inish
    Big Night
    Living in Oblivion
    Jesus' Son
    Glengarry Glen Ross
    Dead Alive
    Cradle Will Rock
    The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl
    Mystery Men

    Bold= movies that are now or were once on my favorites list. Can you tell I was a teenager in the 90s?

    Weekend Homework: Hermit Weekend Edition

    As soon as I'm done with work today, I'm going home to bed to nurse my horrible virus that has made me miserable all week while I went about my regular routine, that I so wished I could jettison in favor of bed, but couldn't. So, everything on the list below can be done at home. If you don't have a home computer, some of this may need to be printed out at the library in anticipation of Hermit Weekend!

    1. Read brownfemipower's "The Irony of a Compliment" on Woman of Color Blog.

    2. Read IMMIGRATION MATTERS -- Fortress America Is Not the Solution, by Andrea Black.

    3. Too bad you can't leave the house to see V for Vendetta, but at least you can rent The Matrix and Bound, and read up on radical queer life of maker Larry Wachowski.

    4. sleep

    Girls on the Bus

    I got a little excited about this new show, Girls on the Bus, despite the name, because it stars out lesbian and former Darlene, Sara Gilbert, and Maulik Pancholy (Sanjaay on Weeds), and it's about the lives and times of a bunch of journalists following a candidate on the campaign trail.

    But then I found out Alexandra Pelosi was involved. The same Alexandra Pelosi who managed to make a film about the 2000 George W. Bush campaign about her own dating shenanigans. Then, she followed it up with another narcissistic campaign film. Now, she thinks it's time to make a TV show about herself and what she wishes she was like. Mmmmmmmmmm. No wonder it's called "Girls on the Bus".

    He's the Teacher, She's the Student

    Read it here:

    Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria wants everyone to know the truth about her and her beau. Hes got plenty of experience. Langoria told Allure magazine that between her and her significant other, NBA star Tony Parker, shes the experienced one. Several other publications took that to mean Parker wasnt a good lover, and Longoria set the record straight on the entertainment news shows last night. She appeared on both Access Hollywood and Extra, telling the latter, when the lights are out, hes the teacher, Im the student.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    New Yorker on Bill O'Reilly

    When I first heard this Fresh Air interview with Bill O'Reilly, something about it really scared me. Maybe that goes without saying. Something else really scared me. And that something else was the way that Bill O'Reilly reminded me of myself. My knee-jerk reaction was that he must be mentally ill, as I am, but was not getting the proper treatment and that he needed to medicated. And that was true I'm sure. But then, reading
    this, I realized the other piece:

    Class—that is, class resentment—is where, for O’Reilly, politics, and everything else, begins. His first best-seller, “The O’Reilly Factor,” published in 2000, asserts, “Whatever I have done or will do in this life, I’m working-class Irish American Bill O’Reilly.”

    Class resentment, class RAGE more like. And further:

    As soon as he left home—to go to Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, New York—O’Reilly had occasional encounters with members of the fortunate classes, in which, inevitably, he was put down. At Marist, he longed for the girls from nearby Vassar, but “the Ivy Leaguers up from Princeton or down from Cornell got the dates; we were treated like hired help.” By O’Reilly’s account, wealth and fame have not changed the pattern. Even now, when he wanders within range of the “swells,” which he does surprisingly often for a guy who despises them, they sneer at him, just as they would sneer at any ordinary American.

    Even if you didn't feel that poor growing up in a poor neighborhood, coming to New York City big-time and being simply "middle-class", forget working-class, can be an exercise in biting one's tongue. I can't tell you how many times I have successfully "passed" into rich Northeastern company, only to be asked the wrong question or absent-mindedly pronounce "aunt" like "ant" or some small thing, and to feel (and I don't think this is my imagination, I really don't, though I know other people think I'm exaggerating) this distance set in between me and the people around me. But what O'Reilly says about the Vassar girls is one of the parts of sexuality I find most powerful and troublesome, in myself and others, a sort of Gatsby-Daisy desire that often doesn't align with one's politics. Certainly, the class mobility issue isn't all there is to it. In the case of plenty of rich kids, it's often the poor badasses who called them "preppy" in high school who trick their desire. And how often do we hear about the Jew-shiksa phenomenon?

    Which is why Lemann's article goes in what is, to me, a most fascinating direction:

    If what you know about “The O’Reilly Factor” comes mainly from its opponents on the left—from movies like “Outfoxed” and Web sites like Media Matters—and you watch it regularly for a while, you’ll be surprised by how little of the content these days is political. “The O’Reilly Factor” is, increasingly, not a conservative show but a cop show—“O’Reilly: Special Victims Unit,” perhaps—devoted particularly to sex offenders; the host, in effect, is Shannon Michaels playing Tommy O’Malley. Once, when Howard Stern was asked to explain his success, he said that he owed it to lesbians. O’Reilly owes his to child molesters.

    And, from earlier in the article:

    Olbermann has repeatedly conferred on O’Reilly the top place in a “Worst Person in the World” competition, and, probably more to the point, when discussing O’Reilly he often finds ways to work in the word “falafel.” That is a reference to a sexual-harassment suit that a former Fox News producer named Andrea Mackris filed against O’Reilly a couple of years ago.

    I know it's a bit old hat to assume that every conservative is just trying to punish everyone else for their own sexual desires, but I think there may be something to it in this instance. After all, Ms. Mackris was an Ivy-grad.

    Of course O'Reilly is fighting incredible rage over his thwarted desires ... he was punished for attempting to act on them.

    His passion for America, a country he views as ideally blue-collar and wholesome, not blue-state, blue-blood, and oversexed, makes perfect sense. He wants to rip from the powerful the most powerful thing they have: the authority to speak for this, the most powerful country in the world. Moreover, a country he feels has been usurped and aristocracied. Either that, or he realizes that through that narrative of usurpation, he can claim something for the "working-class" (and I think there's something legitimate about his identifying that way because IT DOES shape you, even if you end up a multi-millionaire, and there is something VERY different about coming from money and earning money) that was never theirs. Like Robin Hood.

    Now, Lemann doesn't take it there. It's the New Yorker! As zp says, always liberal, but never radical. And, besides, it would mess with their project: sympathetic-ish profiles of conservatives - aren't we so "fair and balanced"?

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Sen. Rodham-Clinton Went For It

    I'm scared, as are a lot of people, that Sen. Hillary Rodham-Clinton will be the Democratic nominee in 2008. She was on the wrong side of the War in Iraq, the wrong side of the ports thing, said some iffy things about abortion, (I could go on) and is totally unelectable. But, beyond the hot list of bills she's sponsored, she also:

    Surrounded by a multicultural coalition of New York immigration advocates, Clinton blasted the House bill [on immigration] as “mean-spirited” and said it flew in the face of Republicans’ stated support for faith and values.
    “It is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures,” Clinton said, “because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself.”

    So, there's a reason to love the woman.

    Major Duckworth Won

    Read about it here:

    Tammy Duckworth, the decorated Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a grenade attack, won a close race Wednesday in her bid for the Democratic primary nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R) in Illinois's 6th Congressional District.

    Duckworth, the most prominent and best-financed of nearly a dozen veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars attempting to launch careers in Congress, was vying with Democratic rival Christine Cegelis, a computer consultant who has been running nonstop since she lost to Hyde two years ago.

    With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared the Thailand-born Duckworth the narrow winner with 44 percent, or 14,019 votes, to Cegelis' 40 percent.

    And here;

    Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth narrowly won the Democratic nomination for Congress to run against Republican state Sen. Peter Roskam for the west suburban seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde.

    With nearly all the votes counted in the three-way race in the 6th Congressional District, Duckworth, a former Illinois National Guard helicopter pilot who lost her legs in a 2004 grenade attack, had nearly 44 percent. Software engineer Christine Cegelis, who lost to Hyde in the last election, had 40.9 percent. Wheaton College professor Lindy Scott accounted for the rest.

    Cegelis conceded the election this morning in a phone call initiated by Duckworth, according to Cegelis spokesman Andy Juniewicz.

    Later, Cegelis issued a statement, in which she said in part: "I spoke with Tammy this morning and wished her luck. She's going to need it.

    Equality for Heterosexuals

    Dear Abby: My 12-year-old daughter was invited to a classmate's birthday party today. When I asked for the details of the party, she told me it was a slumber party. Here's the kicker: The classmate in question is a boy!

    I don't feel it is at all appropriate for my child, but I'm interested in what you and your readers have to say about this.

    -- Perplexed in Pennsylvania

    Dear Perplexed: It's the duty of a conscientious parent to do what is right for his or her child, even if it isn't a popular decision. By that, I mean that every family has different standards, and it's up to the parents to enforce them. The excuse, "But everyone else is doing it," does not mean that your child must.

    Remember that when the pressure is on, and it seems the whole world is going crazy. It'll keep you balanced.

    Now the straight kids can have sex in their own beds before falling asleep under their parents' roofs like queers have forever! Equal opportunity "experimentation"!

    I hope this trend continues until boys and girls are able to be equally friends throughout childhood and adolescence.

    Carnival of Feminists #11

    On Angry for a Reason. Here are some that caught my attention:

    Clare on The Ninth Wave: Sorry Ladies, but this isn't working*.

    MysticGypsy on A ramble in the park: Cold in the Earth and Fifteen Wild Decembers.

    Earlbecke on Definition: Trans Issues Are Women's Issues.

    Terry for I See Invisible People: Why Is It So Hard?

    Ann Bartow of Sivacracy: Humorless Feminism.

    Liz at Granny Gets a Vibrator: Farm Fresh Eggs and High Happy Boobs!

    Darkdaughta on One Tenacious Baby Mama: On (patriarchal) (male) "feminists"...

    KCB on Redneck Mother: Keeping America Safe.

    Meghan Townshend on Mommy Bloggers: The Good Enough Mother.

    Skylanda on Avast! Feminist Conspiracy: Out of sight, out of mind, out in the desert.

    But please go check out the other 41 entries!

    The Brilliance of our Criminal Justice System

    Iowa's Residency Rules Drive Sex Offenders Underground:

    For years a layover for budget-conscious motorists and construction crews, the motel has lately become a disquieting symbol of what has gone wrong with Iowa's crackdown on sexual offenders of children. With just 24 rooms, the motel, the Ced-Rel, was home to 26 registered sex offenders by the start of March.

    "Nobody wants to have something associated with sex offenders right beside them," said Steve Boland, a farmer and father of two who learns about his newest neighbors every few weeks when sheriff's deputies stop by with photographs of them.

    "Us showing the kids some mug shots sure wasn't going to help," Mr. Boland said. "How were they going to remember that many faces?"

    The men have flocked to the Ced-Rel and other rural motels and trailer parks because no one else will, or can, have them. A new state law barring those convicted of sex crimes involving children from living within 2,000 feet of a school or day care center has brought unintended and disturbing consequences. It has rendered some offenders homeless and left others sleeping in cars or in the cabs of their trucks.

    And the authorities say that many have simply vanished from their sight, with nearly three times as many registered sex offenders considered missing since before the law took effect in September. ...

    Some law enforcement officials say they believe that restrictions keep the most serious sexual predators away from places where they would be most likely to hurt a child again. But others argue that while such laws are politically appealing, there is little empirical evidence to suggest a connection between recidivism and proximity to schools or day care centers, and that the policies are too broad, drawing in, for example, people who as teenagers had sex with an under-age girlfriend.

    But studies for the Colorado Department of Public Safety in 2004 and the Minnesota Department of Corrections in 2003 have suggested that where an offender lives appears to have no bearing on whether he commits another sex crime on a child.

    A flurry of new legislation is being considered all over the country. More legislatures are considering joining a dozen that already use satellite tracking devices on offenders.Others, including Iowa, are considering harsher prison sentences for those who attack children. Lawmakers reason that they would not have to worry about recidivism if offenders rarely emerged from prison.

    I know this isn't a popular point of view, but, if you've served your time for your crime, you should be able to return to the world just like everyone else, even if you were a sex offender. I mean, if that's not what we want our justice system to be, then we should just go all out and open up an island like the English did with Australia, because that would be saying what we mean.

    The more estranged from general society, the less protected people feel by their government, and the more hostile they feel society is to them, the chances of recidivism and/or further criminal activity of a different sort are obviously going to be higher. We already make it hell for ex-convicts to try to re-enter the workforce- doesn't it stand to reason that, the harder it is to get a legal source of income, the more likely it is to find an illegal source of income? Now to make it so difficult for them to obtain housing is going to drive them to similar means to survive.

    And excluding these individuals from general society and basically isolating them in communities of fellow ex-cons is certainly not the best way to keep them from recidivism, is it?

    And finally, the fear of recidivism is partly because the system isn't making sure that prison inmates are getting the psychological and perhaps psychotropic drug therapies that they need and that they aren't getting the proper support upon re-entry (a term which this article proves is very misleading).

    Wednesday Reading List

    One Tenacious Baby Mama: More Masculine Than Feminine You Say.

    Carne Ross for Slate: How to be Ignored.

    Tim Harford also for Slate: Fire Grandpa! Hire Junior.

    Hugo Schwyzer: Lana Lacks Humility ": a note on sexism and letters of rec.

    Reappropriate: Buzzcut Buzzkill.

    If you don't subscribe, track down the most recent issue of Harpers, not available online, because there is an article about what's going on in the Congo that everyone should read. It makes the best case for getting out of Iraq- we'd be able to provide more US peacekeeping forces to this region and we'd be able to train them to handle things without abuse.

    Peter Bell for the Christian Science Monitor: We Have the Tools to End Global Poverty.

    Robert Kuttner for the American Prospect: Consternation Over Immigration.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    "Homophobia? Hogwash!"

    Karel on Brokeback's loss and why it's queers' fault:

    First, Brokeback burnout, and for that we are all to blame. In fact, gays are probably more to blame for Brokeback not winning than almost any other group (if there is one to blame). Why? Because we allowed it to become a national joke. Oh, sure, the parodies are funny. Oh, yeah, the jokes, including Billy Crystal and Chris Rock at the beginning of the Oscar show, got laughs. But at what expense? Simple—ours.

    Brokeback Mountain is a tragic story with a tragic ending. I have yet to hear anyone explain to me what is funny about two people who can never really admit they’re in love, a society that wouldn’t accept them if they did, and the possibility that one of them dies by fag bashing (oops, was that a spoiler?). It seemed like a laugh riot on paper, right?

    But most gays and lesbians have allowed Brokeback parodies to flourish. Where was GLAAD when all the jokes were being made and all the clips were being produced? Oh, no, it’s cool to laugh at gay people. Look how funny they are. And the thought of gay love? Hysterical! Let’s make it a joke. In fact, in 2006, “Brokeback” became the “Hollywood Word of the Year” as reported by the nonprofit Global Language Monitor group. Hey, it’s good for the box office, right?

    The problem is that Academy members may not have wanted to vote for a joke, and unfortunately that’s what the media, comics, and Hollywood have done—turned Brokeback into a giant joke, a comedy skit. It’s a shame, because Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry’s script is anything but funny and Heath Ledger’s and Jake Gyllenhaal’s performances are worthy of praise more than parody.

    Is she talking about this?

    I agree the film was tragic, but that's certainly no reason to diss the parodies. In fact, I would have been embarassed if GLAAD had been criticizing Brokeback to the Future and Bareback Top Gun and their ilk. Why? Because those parodies are actually pointing out the homoerotic subtext between these characters in some of our most memorable Hollywood films. And that's what queers have been doing forever! In fact, shouldn't everyone be excited that straights (or presumed straights) are getting in on the action?

    Monday, March 20, 2006


    Garance Franke-Ruta, writing for the American Prospect, asks: Is The New York Times still pro-choice?

    The past two years have seen one of the most contentious and closely watched presidential contests in 40 years, the retirement of the first female Supreme Court justice, the appointment of two new justices, and an attempted Senate filibuster against one of them specifically because of liberal concerns about how he would vote on choice issues. And during that period, not one op-ed discussing abortion on the op-ed page of the most powerful liberal paper in the nation was written by a reproductive-rights advocate, a pro-choice service-provider, or a representative of a women’s group. ...

    A Prospect examination of the authors published between late February 2004 and late February 2006 found that 90 percent of writers -- including staff columnists -- who discussed abortion on the Times op-ed page over the past two years were male. These men wrote 83 percent of the op-eds that mentioned abortion.

    Even more surprising, more op-eds that mentioned abortion in the Times were written by pro-life men than by women of any belief system.

    I think Franke-Ruta does a great job here, but what she doesn't mention (mostly because it's not within her purview in this piece) is how NYT is part of a larger trend of, as she calls it with reference to particular op-eds, "abortion-ambivalence" among pro-choice papers, politicians, and pundits.

    I heard Barack Obama on This Week with George Stephanopolous going on about how morally complex the issue is and how we all really need to recognize and admit that. If we haven't been acknowledging the "moral complexity" ad nauseam for the past ten years or more, what the fuck have we been doing? It reminded me of Kerry equivocating in the debates and of the arguments on the blogosphere and within the Democratic Party about how willing we should all be to chill out on the whole abortion thing a little bit because, it should be legal and everything but it's kinda murder, and each and every woman who chooses an abortion will go through emotional agony which will last the rest of her life, bringing her to suicidal guilt every time someone passes by her with a pram, and how we certainly wouldn't want some women to "use abortion as birth control".

    If the question is, "Should abortion be legal and available to all women regardless of where they live, their race, their age, and how much money they make?" then, to me, this issue is not particularly morally complex. I tend to be a black-and-white thinker, I guess, but seriously- this is an easy question, folks. And, honestly, it insults everyone's intelligence when pro-choice people all of a sudden start pretending this thoughtful, WWJD concern over a fetus. It's either murder or it's not. It's not soooooooo morally complex.

    I think that, if the big concern is alienating the white "red state" evangelicals (who aren't going to be voting Democrat anyway ever, face reality people!) we're better off just acting like abortion is a given, Roe is a given. Rather than blah-de-de-blahing about "moral complexity", when asked if we're pro-choice, all of us pro-choicers should say, ever-so-matter-of-fact-ly, "Of course I'm pro-choice."

    After all, the majority of Americans agree.

    I am mystified by the idea that people are going to become more pro-choice if there's no one around being out-there pro-choice, standing up for women who don't want to carry pregnancies to term.

    I know I'm not saying anything original, but, these days, with South Dakota and all this other garbage, I'm seriously feeling so mad at everyone. I mean, anti-choice asshats like State Sen. Bill Napoli can go around saying things like this about the lack of a rape exception, due to the "life of the mother" clause:

    A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

    And we go: "this is morally complex and I really have to spend some more time with my minister thinking it over, but right now I'm kind of for abortion being legal since some religious virgin might get brutally savaged some time."

    Guess what? Being open to the "complexity" doesn't win you the war here. Hell, it doesn't even win you a battle.

    As for the New York Times, I don't even know anymore. That paper has become a total joke. Times Select, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, John Tierney, terrible coverage of local politics, one *New Trend* story after another (Note: *New Trend* must have been going on for fucking years to be considered), and an obsession with online dating that just won't quit. The book reviews are so tired 9 times out of 10 I feel dead. I am trying to make myself read The Washington Post as my main paper, but I have knee-jerk, sit-down-at-computer-check-Times compulsion I need to heal.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Autum Ashante

    In the NY Post:

    A 7-year-old prodigy unleashed a firestorm when she recited a poem she wrote comparing Christopher Columbus and Charles Darwin to "pirates" and "vampires" who robbed blacks of their identities and human rights.
    Hundreds of parents of Peekskill middle- and high-school students received a recorded phone message last week apologizing for little Autum Ashante's poem, titled "White Nationalism Put U in Bondage."

    Blowing up the blogosphere: Level Head, Moonbattery, Red Guy Blue State, Ace of Spades HQ,
    Word is Bond, Gawker, One Brotha's Mind, No Dhmimmitude, Narcissistic Views on News/Politics and I saw it originally on Fluffy Dollars.

    (I don't endorse these views, I just think it's fascinating to see what people are saying.)

    I don't think this kid should have been banned or anything like that, in fact, I don't think kids' creativity should be stifled in any way unless absolutely necessary. I especially don't think it makes sense to do so publicly. That said, there's something distinctly irritating about this kid. Not because I disagree with her exactly (I mean, it's a bit shrill, but I think the underlying message is pretty true, and she's seven) but because she seems like such a precocious little brat. Her and her four languages and well-travelled-ness and smug little photo. Is that evil of me?

    Edited to add: Yeah, it kind of is evil of me. I mean, I remember being the kid who had my views censored all the time because they were feminist or queer. I have such an aversion to elitism that I pinned it on this kid, when it wad actually the press coverage that felt the need to assert her many languages, etc, just so you didn't think she was just another uppity Negro- this kid's a "prodigy"! So, rather than hating on Autum Ashante, I should be hating on the media.

    60 Minutes on The "Science" of Sexual Orientation

    I've been fuming about this for days. Here we go with some excerpts from last Sunday's 60 Minutes: The Science [sic] of Sexual Orientation:

    Leslie Stahl: Homosexuality involves more than just sexual behavior; it's physiological.

    ...This research is controversial, reinforcing the stereotypes, some say. But to Bailey, the stereotypes suggest that there's a feminizing of the brain in gay men and masculinizing in lesbians. Ironically though, when it comes to their sex lives, he says gay and straight men actually have a lot in common. Now that surprises me!

    I'm not at all surprised. After all, women of all sexual orientations are really just making themselves have sex for the love of men.

    Michael Bailey: Straight men tend to be shallow in terms of focusing on looks. Gay men are shallow too. Straight men are more interested than straight women in having casual, uncommitted sex. Gay men are like that too.

    Got that? Men are allowed to be shallow and have no-strings-attached-sex - it's like being gay- they're born that way! They can't help it!

    Lesley Stahl: One has the impression that gay men are much more inclined toward casual sex than straight men.

    One does, doesn't one? I mean, I heard there's these places called "bathhouses" which is really just fag, excuse me "gay", code for sex club and people just go in there and infect each other with AIDS. But they like that sort of thing!

    Bailey: They're just more successful at it because the people they're trying to have sex with are also interested in it.

    Lesley stahl: So the straight men can't find enough women to go along. But don't you find this interesting that the big area where gay men are more like straight men is in sex? I mean, that is both amusing and odd.

    Bailey: And it suggests that whatever causes a man to be gay doesn't make him feminine in every respect. There must be parts of the brain that can be feminized independent of each other. ...

    Mmmm. There must be. Otherwise, how could we ever explain this?

    LS: [The home life] is environment.
    B: But that's not the only environment. The other environment is what happens to us when we're in the womb.

    The "other environment is what happens to us when we're in the womb"? And that other-other environment, you know, called life.

    Other bloggers commented. Here are some of their thoughts:

    The Malcontent:

    I am a straight man and have been for all of my 39 years. I too grew up with all boys, father away, raised by my mother, and still turned out to be okay.
    When I was little I played with Barbies, wore my mother's shoes, dresses, liptstick, etc. I grew up, got married, became a makeup artist, and am still fine. Oh, and still straight.
    I think people, male or female, should be able to grow up however is comfortable for them. My parents didn't exactly support the way I grew up, but that was then. We have the ability to change now. Look toward the future and don't live in the past. Embrace children and teach them to be themselves.
    I applaud the mother of those two twin boys. She teaches them that the way they are is normal and nothing to be ashamed about. She teaches them love and acceptance and this world is a better place because of it.
    Posted by: open to all people | March 14, 2006 at 02:31 PM

    Hi. When I was a little boy, I liked playing tag, soccer, power rangers, toy trucks, action figures, Transformers, pretending to be a knight and fighting other kids with sticks. I loved drawing monsters, I collected bugs. When I was a young teen I got into martial arts, track & field, I liked KoRn and moshpits, action movies, Bruce Lee, my favorite activities were snowmobiling and ATV riding. Oh, and I'm 100% gay.
    Not all of us had effeminate characteristics as kids/not all of us have them now. Maybe that section makes sense to a large number of you, but just realize, it doesn't at all to some of us. That clip conveniently seemed to leave any mention of that out...do the people who are studying this realize that not all gays are effeminate? I have to wonder when they didn't even take into account that that boy might be transgender, not necessarily "gay".
    Posted by: Zach | March 14, 2006 at 04:43 PM

    Zach and open to all people are nice to have around because they bring up two points:

    1. gay man = effeminate and vice versa is no longer an equation we make in society like 2 +2. And, if we do, we should remember other equations that we make that are a bit unseemly ... think on that, you'll come up with some. (BTW, is it bad that some gay men are effeminate - no, no, no!)

    2. Ummm, this kid they're talking about, Adam, says he wants to be a girl. Even regular-ole-straight viewers of 60 Minutes have heard the Brandon Teena story.

    Mr. Mike Lawson and I basically disagree on everything except this:

    It’s nice to know that some parents will realize that children with gender nonconformity can be taken seriously, and not balked at. It’s nice to know that some children will grow up in a world where they don’t feel like the only ones on the planet that have feelings toward the other boys on the playground, and they aren’t freaks.

    True. I'm glad Adam is allowed to wear his nail polish to school, etc. I do, however, question the parents' choice to put their kids on television in the way they did.

    Thought Press had this to say:

    Andy otto: 60 Minutes has just had a fascinating report on the science of being gay. I have gay friends that have told me it’s not a choice, that they wouldn’t choose it if they had a choice.

    Hey Andy, congratulations on your "gay friends"! And, like, say "blacks" or "women", gays have an Agenda and agree on everything. I'm glad to see your "gay friends" got their Official Agendas in the mail upon coming out (or hell, being born?).

    Sue of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspodents was more on my side:

    I was somewhat disturbed by how close Stahl danced to the line of stereotyping, such as when she tried to identify gay mannerisms in an attempt to understand how gay men are "feminized" physiologically.

    I was also somewhat disappointed that Stahl neglected to clarify sexual orientation from gender identity. One of the younger male twins is very "girly" and clearly said he is like a girl, even that he thought he was a girl in the womb but became a boy b/c his mother preferred boys.

    Lesley, wanting to be a girl is not the same thing as being gay.

    Other nuggets ...

    * Sexual orientation may be more closely connected with hormones than genetics.

    * The more older brothers a man has, the greater his chance of being gay.

    * Well, only for man who are right handed.

    Oh yeah. I forgot to tell y'all about the right-handed part. Needless to say, doesn't apply to lesbians because we kinda forgot about them. Next time mention cheerleaders and it'll come back.

    With enemies like this ...

    However, what Stahl conveniently left out of her piece and failed to tell the viewing public, is that her “expert” J. Michael Bailey has been exposed and charged for “research misconduct” concerning the research he is best known for on transexuality. Turns out Bailey received many complaints from the transsexual women he interviewed for his book The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender Bending and Transsexualism, saying that they didn’t know he was using them as research subjects and that he distorted versions of their case histories that appeared in his book.

    As a result of this, Bailey was under investigation for researcher misconduct in 2004, and ultimately resigned from his position as chairman of the Northwestern University department of psychology after being sanctioned. To this day, controversy surrounds Bailey and his associates that Stahl interviewed for her piece. With that knowledge, let’s now look at what CBS presented concerning the science of sexual orientation.

    Using Bailey as their expert, Stahl looked at studies with twins. The highlighted twins were Adam and Jared who are nine years old. Adam displays what Bailey calls childhood gender nonconformity, while Jared appears to conform to normal behaviors and likes of boys and Adam prefers things girls like.

    There's no indication that this mother is prone to raise very feminine boys because his twin is not that way," says Michael Bailey, a psychology professor at Northwestern University and a leading researcher in the field of sexual orientation.

    Bailey says he doesn't think nurture is a plausible explanation.

    Psychologists used to believe homosexuality was caused by nurture — namely overbearing mothers and distant fathers — but that theory has been disproved. Today, scientists are looking at genes, environment, brain structure and hormones. There is one area of consensus: that homosexuality involves more than just sexual behavior; it’s physiological.

    Ironically, or maybe telling is that Stahl and Bailey fail to mention anything about the father of these twins. They also fail to recognize that the environment that the mother of Adam and Jared provide is indeed part of their nurturing.

    Bailey also seems to forget that the idea of nurture being disproved is not a fact. There are many psychologists today that believe that nurture plays a part in the development of the child. Sadly, Stahl did not have on an opposing view, not because there aren’t researchers out there who don’t believe differently than Bailey, but because Stahl wasn’t apparently interested in showing both sides of the story. ...

    Afterall, if being gay is simply genetic and nurture plays no part, then once a cure is found no one will have an excuse for being gay. On the other hand, if the cause of homosexuality can be traced to nurture, environment and choice than we have an issue of morality which some are too "non-judgmental" to face.

    Who needs friends?
    California Greening for another example:

    If it is really determined by what happens in the womb, then there is no blame for being ones self.

    But being "one's self" is a terrible, horrible thing if it happens after you leave the womb.

    Nate Romano brings up the all-important point that finding a gay gene or a manner by which hormones in the womb determine sexual orientation, selective abortion and/or genetic/hormonal modifications might occur to make a child straight or gay. Which brings me to the point I always make to queers who jump on the gay-gene bandwagon: what do we do with the people having sex with people of their own sex who don't have the "gay gene"? Is it only okay for genetically gay people to have sex with people of their own sex? Does this mean bisexuals or pansexuals no longer exist? (In other words, recruitment would be way down!) Are we really cool with things only being allowed as long as they're forced upon us by nature? And is very much actually forced upon us by nature? Do we really want to say that there's no way to resist one's sexual urges? Or do we want to say that, when it's consensual, it's disgusting to make people resist these urges if they don't want to? Do we want to say that the ability of science to prove that something is "natural" is the point at which we authorize sexual (or other) conduct?

    The point I'm trying to make is that, whether or not there is some major genetic or biological component to sexual orientation (and I'm not trying to say we choose who we're attracted to), let's please think of the strategy: what do we gain by returning queerness basically back into a pathology (this time not psychological, but biological)? And do we lose some agency?

    First heard about it on my beloved Daily Dose of Queer.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006


    It was nice, wasn't it, when it seemed that all screen lesbians no longer had to be militant and not-conventionally-attractive? It was a relief somehow to see a variety of lesbians on television and in film, even if sometimes we didn't really believe that they represented "real lesbians". (Does this mean they didn't?) But now, I kind of wish that I could see a lesbian with a little edge. (These days it's only the bisexuals who get to be alterna- think The OC and the "missing the trouser snake" girlfriend on Nip/Tuck.)

    In fact, the only people who get to be lesbian teens seem to be wholesome, fresh-faced cheerleaders. See Veronica Mars and Nip/Tuck and South of Nowhere.

    So, the drama kids are still "questioning" and the cheerleaders have the spirit and the pride.

    Not that I don't love some lesbian cheerleaders. I'm just sayin.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Will Bleed For Textbooks


    Japanese researchers have harvested stem cells from human menstrual blood. These stem cells could potentially be a source of specialized heart cells, which might be used to treat failing or damaged hearts.

    Stem cells are young, undifferentiated cells that have the ability to become various specialized cells that make up the different tissues of the body.

    At the meeting of the American College of Cardiology here, Dr. Shunichiro Miyoshi reported that he and his colleagues at Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, collected menstrual blood from six women and harvested stem cells that originated in the lining of the uterus, the endometrium.

    They were able to obtain about thirty times more stem cells from menstrual blood than from bone marrow, Miyoshi told Reuters Health.

    When the stem cells were cultured in a way to induce them to become heart cells, after five days about half of the cells contracted "spontaneously, rhythmical and synchronously, suggesting the presence of electrical communication" between the cells, Miyoshi announced. That is to say, they behaved like heart cells.

    The researcher explained that already stem cells derived from bone marrow have been shown to improve the function of the heart -- mainly by producing new blood vessels rather than new heart-muscle tissue. He emphasized that it is important that these cells be obtained from younger patients, because they would have a longer lifespan than cells harvested from older donors.

    That is really amazing. And, yes, I hope somehow I can make money here. :)

    The only problem is that, with that much blood around, we probably won't need all those fetuses!

    Via Brutal Women.

    Tuesday in the Not-Blogosphere

    Amy Andre: The Study of Sex discusses Professor Nick Baham's class on African American sexuality at Cal State.

    Nerve: Why It's a Lot More Complicated Than No Meaning No is a roundtable on rape with Lisa Carver, Jill Soloway, and Eric Swanson.

    John B. Judis: The WTO Miscalculates on the contradictions of the Doha talks.

    Mark Schmitt: Big Bad John in the American Prospect takes down My Amusement Park nemesis, John McCain.

    Alexandra Marks: Why gun dealers have dwindled on differing views of the gun sitch in The Christian Science Monitor.

    Meghan Daum: Middle School Confidential on teens, oral sex, you know the drill.

    Tuesday In the Blogosphere

    Angry Black Bitch's tour de force " The myth of the black student who stole your spot at Yale...":

    A bitch was pretty fucking pissed off when my ass showed up at a certain liberal arts college (no, not Yale...shudder and perish the thought) and realized that my ass had out tested most of the sorry assed motherfuckers raising hell about affirmative action.


    A bitch isn't trying to say my ass is wicked smart...shit, this bitch can't spell for shit...but my ass just wishes some of the assholes bitching about not getting in would look in the mirror and have a come to Jesus with their own ass about their GPA and those sorry assed SAT scores that really got them circular filed.

    A bitch only got more pissed when my ass realized that some of the dumbest motherfuckers at school…and my ass means dumb…were legacies.

    See, the dude who may have taken your spot at Yale is most likely not the brown and black students who make up less that 10% of the student body. He's that legacy admit...you know, Carter Silverspoon from Choate?... yeah, him and his forever unimpressive non-intellectual ass. College ain’t a meritocracy, but that fact is better explored through a conversation with the heir to your right and not the black chick to your left. ...

    Which brings us to this word 'fair'. Fair does not apply to college admissions. Most universities apply tons of qualifications and they don’t exactly do it fairly.

    My alma mater would have been majority Asian and international if 'fair' applied to college admissions.

    Colleges seek to have a diverse population because diversity enriches the educational experience. International students, rural students, rich students, black students and so on add to the college experience. The problem comes when some students apply a sense of entitlement to college admissions…they then latch on to the most offensive 'got into school' practice and proceed to show their natural ass on Dateline by bitching about why they didn’t get in and claiming that Keisha or Coretta or Michael took their spot.

    A healthier…dare a bitch say, more fair…rant would start with the legacies who took up 20% of the freshman class. Then you could move on down to the 50% of hyper-qualified students who didn’t get accepted because said school had ‘reached’ a certain quota…then mosey on over to the 'daddy paid for this building' admissions…oh, and the 'our sports program is a revenue generator', but don’t hold your breath on that academic scholarship admissions. The road is long and muddy as a motherfucker before you even get to the 10% that may or may not have been admitted with some racial preference...not that many are bothered by the 'may', because a bitch wishes my ass had a dollar for every ignorant assumed affirmative action comment my ass heard while 'getting schooled'.

    Creepy Lesbo: "Short (Haired) Circuit:

    You see, this is what I have a problem with.
    Everyone these days in the media tries SO hard to not have stereotypes when they show lesbians that they go overboard.
    The thing is, I REALLY like girls with short hair.
    Stupidly so.
    And yet I am constantly let down by stylists and producers desperately trying to make girls look femme. ... I tire of these television executive games.
    STOP IT, you overly PC morons! Give us a bloody stereotype can't you!!
    So what if all those whingey RnB loving lesbians who all pretend they aren't gay and don't even know their lesbian TV and film history don't like it? They can fuck off. I want boyish girls in my films and TV programmes.
    Start a revolution!
    We're here, we're queer and we've got short hair (this chant only works if you have a terribly porsh English accent - then it sounds like 'we're hear, we're quear, we've gort shawt hair').

    DTWOF: The Blog tells us that PlanetOut has decided to stop hosting the strip! WHAT IS GOING ON WITH PLANETOUT!!!!!!!!!!????????

    Fabulosa Mujer: Vegging Out:

    CNN: repeatedly saw the coverage surrounding the one year anniversary of Georgia's "26 Hours of Terror" specifically the woman's account of talking her self out from getting killed by a man who randomly walked into her home after killing three people and injuring one. Awkwardly so--there is tremendous emphasis on her story--as a white "angelic" woman saved by God who detours a black man from taking her own life. A born again Christian from the South. Had a baby at 21, stated that's what she knew her calling was: being a mom who is now very religious and happens to also be all over CNN and Fox News due to a black man walking into her home and connecting with her cuz of Jesus. Liberal media my ass.

    Also there is significant coverage about the NYC murder case of the graduate student who was raped, sodomized and killed.

    In both stories the main suspect or identified perpetrator are black men. I've been very observant of the wording to identify the people involved as Anderson referred to Imette St. Guillen, in the NYC case of the woman who was raped and killed as a Venezuelan beauty or the beautiful college student by Larry King. It's like let's concentrate on this brown woman's beauty now that she's been killed and raped--you know playing up what caused her demise.

    Other program consumption has been:
    The Actor's Studio: Interview with David Chappelle (2 hour funny ass interview)
    The Dog Whisperer (about four shows in a row)
    Lakers vs Seattle (boo. Lakers lost)
    The Boondocks (last 10 mins)
    Black.White. (30 minutes)

    In between the programs there were promotional ads about a show regarding the destruction of the sun and eventual demise of the earth by the National Geographic Channel. Speaking of catastrophies...I've also watched the MegaTsunami and the Dark Side of Elephants and was glued from beginning to end.

    Another big one that has been announced repeatedly on CNN is a program regarding the worst scenerios coming true: oil prices rising up to 8-10 dollars a gallon in the US and huge lines just to get one's tank filled, another weather induced catastrophe followed by a terrorist attack, etc, etc.

    What I got from over tv consumption--sports are a great distraction from the rampaging black men that are killing and raping women. It is a dangerous world for all women, especially young attractive women. The world is going to end soon from war and environmental destruction. {edit} heterosexual is what is normal and God is watching us closely.

    Black men are funny. Very athletic, but dangerous. Dogs have way better lives than humans. Sexism is here to stay. Finally from the Black.White. show racism is mostly in our heads. We go out into the world expecting it therefore we feel it and see it even in places where it is not.

    Mad Melancholic Feminista: What's Happiness Got to Do With It?:

    I will say once again that I have nothing against women who choose to stay home and raise their children. If you are going to have children, then what point is there in not spending any time with them, right? I get that. This is one of the most significant reasons why I don't have children. I don't know how to balance child-rearing with my career. Perhaps what is more important than my lack of creativity on the question of how to balance is that I simply don't have this burning desire to have children. I am not saying that I absolutely don't want them; I am just ambivalent.

    But now, everywhere I turn, there are articles and interviews in my face telling me that I would be much happier quitting the rat race, having children, and staying home to raise them. I am not a libertarian, so I don't think that such information has no impact on me (you know the way that libertarians argue that advertising doesn't make a consumer buy something, it just gives them useful information to make an informed decisions--pahleeze). So, yes, I find this deluge of mommy war stuff to be draining and I am a full time feminist. I am not ambivalent about the importance of treating women as human beings who are as valuable to the world as men are. But, if I am getting angry about these articles, what is the impact they are having on my students?

    It is a scare tactic. These articles are designed to scare women into giving up their quest to demand they be treated as human beings. The idea here is that if they continue on their silly feminist paths, they will wind up stressed out, pooped out, Prozaced up, and unhappy. So, give it up ladies. Just admit that its easier to stay-at-home and find a male provider.

    Maybe the real problem here is the assumption that life is about achieving happiness. I am not sure what exactly Wilcox and Nock's definition of happiness is (I am too lazy to look up their study). But, I can't think of a concept as unclear happiness. Is it the absence of pain? Is it consistent joy? Is happiness an emotion? Is it a goal-oriented behavior? What on earth is happiness?

    Am I happy? Shit, it depends on the day. Isn't that true for most people? Sometimes I have long stretches of inner calm and subsequent productivity. Then, I get sick or maybe I have a restless night and I find myself stressed out. If I don't have a lot of time to decompress, that state of stress might last for a long time. I just don't buy that we are on a life journey where if we make the right choice then we achieve happiness. I would imagine that stay-at-home mothers are as likely to worry profoundly about the well-being of their children, as much as working mothers. Perhaps even fathers actually worry about their children?

    We are such a happiness obsessed culture. We find all sorts of ways to avoid the fact that life is not always sunshine and giggles. We are going to die. We might fall victim to horrifically painful illnesses, we might have our children be murdered (something that happened in the most violent fashion to one of my students three years ago). A lot of bad things happen to good people.

    I now think the reason that mommy wars stories are so upsetting to me (and my student, for example) is that they play into this deep fear that we might live a life of suffering or regret. We idealize a sort of stress-free, sanguine existence over the far-more-common stress-laden life journey that most of us live.

    And finally, Brownfemipower googled "Women with guns" for Women of Color Blog. Here's what she found.

    Google Mars

    That's right people. Clickity.

    Thanks to Fluffy Dollars.

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    L Word Spoiler!!!!!!!!

    I really hope you weren't surprised that Dana died. I mean, come on. The episode is called "Losing the Light". But it didn't mean it wasn't sad for me. Love it or hate it (or both), I still get attached over time. And the other thing: we never get to see another Dana-drunk-dance, which was one of the show's finest moments. I did some tooling around blogland to see what others had to say:

    Lots of folks rather are upset.

    Journey of a Lost Asian American, a blog I got really excited about (queer television lover and critic- how can I resist!), gives a whole review.

    Bloodless Coup says: I just don't know if I can take it anymore. To quote someone from one of the many threads on the L-Word message boards:

    This show has become laborious to watch... Since the continuity on this show is so bad, maybe the writers will forget they killed off Dana this season and bring her back next season...

    It's gotten so bad, people are talking about dream sequences. Dream sequences, people. As if they are a good thing.

    Dreiser has my favorite reaction:

    1. Shouldn't the episode where DANA dies have more than five minutes of DANA in it?

    2. Fuck the singing flower. Seriously. Fuck.The.Singing.Flower.

    3. Having a short and cheesy and fucking devoid of any real human emotion public service announcement air after this episode does not justify this storyline. The L Word is not the fucking lesbian Mother Theresa of cable television shows because of this cancer storyline. ...

    I mean, it's like we got the Idiots Guide to Cancer with this storyline.

    I don't hate the storyline. Actually, the past few episodes have been mostly pretty low-cringe, as the show goes. I can live with Dana dying. The only thing is that I always hate cancer storylines. Whenever a show's writers don't know what to do they drop a cancer story, a new relative (usually crazy), or everyone goes on a trip. I hate death storylines too because then everything's usually really boring for awhile what with a funeral and all. I think it might be alright this time, though.

    It cracks me up, all these people saying that The L Word is going to lose a lot of viewers. This has been said so many times: if Marina left, if Bette and Tina broke up, if Tina hooked up with a man, blah, blah, blah. We're talking about lesbians here people. We're talking about a group of people so pop-culturally disenfranchised, so willing to take whatever bones and scraps, that Bar Girls was released on DVD! And everyone at The L Word knows this desperation: partly because they've lapped up the crumbs themselves, but moreso because they've been the ones churning out the garbage. I mean, if I had a dollar for every hour I've wasted on some of the worst films, television, music, etc just because they were "lesbian", I'd be able to finance a lesbian cinematic endeavor that wasn't awful. My point is: as long as The L Word is on, they can do whatever they want, and they'll have viewers.

    Pro-lifers achieve a victory they can’t handle

    Andrew Sullivan tells us the Right ain't ready for what they've done:

    The trouble they face, however, is a profound one. When you have spent the past couple of decades arguing that the abortion of a day-old zygote is morally indistinguishable from the killing of a 10-year-old child, you have essentially rejected any possibility of a compromise.

    For the Republican party the dilemma is particularly acute. Karl Rove has reconstructed the party so that its core membership is that of evangelical Christians who believe politics should be governed by religious principles. These people can brook no compromise on the abortion issue and the gay issue. So they want a total ban on all abortions, and a constitutional ban on any legal protections for gay couples.

    Most Americans, however, want something far less drastic. A large majority favours either civil unions or civil marriage for gay couples. And a big majority wants more restrictive abortion laws but not an outright ban — let alone something as draconian as South Dakota’s. In the past Karl Rove could pander to the religious base, knowing that the Supreme Court would never allow the issue to actually matter, or the laws to actually change.

    He has now been hoisted on a faith-based petard. After South Dakota, the debate is transformed from an abstract discussion of whether you’re for “life” or for “choice” into a series of very practical questions. Should a doctor be prosecuted for first-degree or second-degree murder? Should the mother be prosecuted as well? How can we enforce an exception for rape or incest when we only have the word of a woman to that effect?

    That debate itself galvanises the pro-choice Democratic voter, and freaks out the moderate Republicans as well. Gay marriage bans only ever affected a small minority, so it was hard for a backlash to the backlash to gain ground. But not on the abortion issue.

    The lesson is an obvious one: be careful what you wish for. But the good news is that Americans will now have to abandon ideology for real politics: what can be done? How do we practically lower the abortion rate? How do we enforce abortion bans of varying degrees? That debate was prematurely ended three decades ago. The religious right and the Republican party may well regret that it is now poised to resume.

    I think he's absolutely right. And, even if just for strategy, the Dems would be smart to stick to a pro-choice platform. (I personally wish it were for more than strategy, but even that would be a nice change.) I am also happy that conservatives have backed themselves into a discussion of specifics and practicalities- it's when these issues come up that even people who think they're "pro-life" get freaked.

    One of the banes of American politics in the past 25 years or so has been the domination of ideology over pragmatism in political discourse. Sometimes it is invigorating: only in America do you still have a real, lively, evenly matched debate about whether gays are inferior to straights, whether the death penalty is a moral necessity, or whether embryonic stem-cell research is an abomination.

    But for people caught in the middle — gay couples wanting some legal protections short of marriage, people with Parkinson’s needing scientific stem-cell research to save their own lives, or women dealing with an unexpected pregnancy — the polarisation offers no relief.

    The safety valve is federalism, the constitutional system that allows different states to have different laws. And so in Massachusetts gay couples enjoy real equality under law — better than the British civil partnership compromise — while in Virginia they have reduced rights even to enter into private contracts. And President Bush can prevent federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research, while California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can kick-start a massive programme designed to do exactly what the president abhors.

    This is the way it is supposed to work, and in a country that includes both San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Greenwich Village and Colorado Springs, it makes a lot of sense. In the 1960s and early 1970s abortion laws were similarly diverse, with most states moving towards a European-style compromise — allowing for legal first-trimester abortions with an array of restrictions on others.

    Then the Supreme Court stepped in, and in one of the more far-reaching cases in its history, Roe v Wade, ruled to designate abortion a constitutional right. And so, overnight, every state had to comply with the most liberal abortion regime imaginable. Even preventing the near-infanticide of late-term, partial-birth abortions became impossible. And the conservative Christian response to this piece of judicial overreach was critical to the emergence of what is now the religious right.

    I can only agree with this federalism to a point and that point is because I grew up in Colorado Springs and, only at adulthood, could I flee to Greenwich Village (okay, not exactly Greenwich Village, but the same city). I had the funds and the guts and the lack of ties or cares to move to a place that better fit my values, but a whole lot of people don't have that luxury or desire. If where one lived was exclusively tied to their politics ..., but that's simply not the case.

    And when Andy gets anti-choice, I feel so sad. I still think good queers should be good feminists. :)