Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The update

It seems like it's been a while since I made a substantial update. Probably because of that whole finals thing. I took my time -- a week per paper -- and it was, kind of nice. Granted, I could have cut this down to one week, but then I would have needed to work fairly constantly, isolated myself in the disgusting germy library, etc... So instead, I wrote around 4-5 pages a day (after a day or two of research/outlining). And I took copious breaks, during which I patroled ebay, kept up with the feminist & leftie blogosphere, watched the Daily Show online, and watched some really horrible daytime tv. The only worthwhile thing I gained from watching tv was a recipe involving squash. And as everyone in frequent contact with me knows, winter squash is my new favorite food. Anyway, it was a recipe claiming to combine nutrition w/ taste (specifically for people with conditions/infections that prevent being able to taste very well, so eating veggies is, apparently, even less palatable a task). So it's simple, too: sauteed kale w/ cranberries and a dash of salt in winter squash. I used swiss chard instead. And it was good.

I hardly remember what I last did a major update about... I had people over for a nostalgic evening of Rudolph claymation (I feel like I said this already? probably)... And EM & L. hosted a game night -- probably the first time I've stayed up till 3 am playing Taboo, charades, & scattergories. I acted out "I love big butts and I cannot lie" -- luckily my teammates were incredibly intuitive and connected a song with 8 words, my pointing to myself, making a grandiose gesture, and slapping my ass, before the point at which I would have reached desperation and attempted the wiggle dance.

The next morning I was a bit, you know, late in getting up. But it was too depressing to skip the farmer's market again, so I biked over in record time. Beautiful & sunny day. And going to the market late has its own perks: like extra root vegetables for the same price, & discounted broccoli... I'm determined to better know the difference between these mysterious tubers. So I'm going to make a veggie stew -- so when Andrew arrives tomorrow I can like, feed him real food. Because I don't want him eating whatever the airports are dishing out.

Last night, in celebration of having my paper actually written, I took a trip to the shopping plaza. I've been wanting something to put in my bathroom. The thing is freaking huge. I could seriously fit an armchair in there. So something needed to be done, preferably something that would hold the towels that don't fit on the racks. Ross to the rescue: with yet another wicker basket. Maybe someday I'll replace it with a little table.

Then I headed to TJ's. Where I stocked up on baking supplies, dairy, etc... The entertaining part came when I needed to make a quick decision about what kind of alcohol to buy for the eggnog. I thought Mom used rum in the past, so I was ready to get the dark variety and call it a night. But then I thought I should ask someone: because if rum wasn't such a hot idea, I would be left with a large jug of "Whaler's Rum" sitting on top of my fridge. Which is cool and all, if you're Ishmael. So the first guy I asked wasn't sure, but thought perhaps bourbon. He asked another employee, who suggested brandy would be festive. I went for brandy because at least I've had it in something before, and it could be useful if I ever feel motivated to make sangria (right). At which decision the THIRD consulted checker agreed, and said it was a good brand. This is a good thing, since it'll likely be sitting on top of my fridge till summer.

Well -- now I feel up to date. I can now begin afresh when Andrew arrives.

Further adventures in caffeine

I need to edit this paper *today.* Because Andrew is arriving tomorrow night, and before then I must: clean house, do tons of laundry, make an amazing root vegetable stew, wrap presents, etc.

So now that it's 2 pm, and time for the daily loading of stimulants, I decided to make my own "eggnog latte." Yes, with eggnog. Sounds kind of gross? But it isn't.

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Experiment

How many shots of espresso will I need to drink before I actually write the first sentence to this paper?

(Hint: more than the tally so far of 4)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Getting in the holiday spirit... & stuff

Christmas is, as they say, just around the corner. And somehow I've managed to do a number of holiday get togethers. Megan's party in the city (complete with real tree & psychadelic Our Lady of Guadalupe clock), the CA holiday party (at which another CA was nice enough to exchange gifts for me so I'd have a baking set -- which I know what to do with -- instead of an electronic sudoku machine), the department holiday party (cheesecake bites & "the night before Christmas" & a story about coyote talking to his poo?), & last night having friends over for Rudolph (yes, the Claymation special from back in the day). My tree has yet to be decorated, but I'm getting to it.

In the mean time, I've got papers. At the moment I'm procrastinating, as I need to edit & conclude my paper on Lamb... then I can get to my paper on Self-Help.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Those who got it right

Krugman of the NYT is freaking amazing. He's got an op-ed piece up right now acknowleding those who rightly questioned the Iraq war:

And so it was with those who warned against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper's account of the debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing the Iraq war -- a resolution opposed by a majority of the Democrats -- gave no coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem prescient.

At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says that it "deeply regrets its early support for this war." Does it also deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of "abject pacifism?"

Yeah, great. They're sorry. That means a whole hell of a lot next to thousands of lost lives & at least a trillion dollars that should have gone toward *actual* terror-prevention & domestic programs.

Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called "the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" deserve some credit.

Woo-hoo! Like Al Gore himself. And our new Democratic Speaker of the House. And Feingold & Dean. Maybe other right wing publications/pundits will take note & treat with respect these people who were brave enough to voice concerns despite McCarthy-ism revamped accusations of working with the terrorists, emboldening the terrorists, being unAmerican and unpatriotic, etc. Or, more likely, everyone will just blame Bush & ignore the fact that there *were* people who knew their s*&# (like, ahem, the major ethnic breakdown of Iraq) and predicted that this war was an unspeakably grave mistake.

Al Gore, September 2002: "I am deeply concerned that the course of action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new century."

Check, & check. Why the hell aren't you president, again?

Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: "I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002: "When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could be unlimited."

Wow. Again, right on both counts.

Howard Dean, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, February 2003: "I firmly believe that the president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms."

In this tiny passage, Dean has managed to pack more information about Iraq's divided nature than Bush knew when he decided to invade. Kind of depressing. Such a simple thing, to do a little research on the country you're attacking. But Bush & Co., not into doing that.

We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should also ask why anyone who didn't raise questions about the war -- or, at any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly -- should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national security.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Al Gore in GQ

I was reading this interview from GQ over at Shakespeare's Sister, & couldn't resist posting Gore's response to thinking about what would have been different if he were president in 2001. If only we had done away with the electoral college before 2000...

Do you feel that we would be safer today if you had been president on that day?
Well, no one can say that the 9-11 attack wouldn’t have occurred whoever was president.

Really? How about all the warnings?
That’s a separate question. And it’s almost too easy to say, “I would have heeded the warnings.” In fact, I think I would have, I know I would have. We had several instances when the CIA’s alarm bells went off, and what we did when that happened was, we had emergency meetings and called everybody together and made sure that all systems were go and every agency was hitting on all cylinders, and we made them bring more information, and go into the second and third and fourth level of detail. And made suggestions on how we could respond in a more coordinated, more effective way. It is inconceivable to me that Bush would read a warning as stark and as clear [voice angry now] as the one he received on August 6th of 2001, and, according to some of the new histories, he turned to the briefer and said, “Well, you’ve covered your ass.” And never called a follow up meeting. Never made an inquiry. Never asked a single question. To this day, I don’t understand it. And, I think it’s fair to say that he personally does in fact bear a measure of blame for not doing his job at a time when we really needed him to do his job. And now the Woodward book has this episode that has been confirmed by the record that George Tenet, who was much abused by this administration, went over to the White House for the purpose of calling an emergency meeting and warning as clearly as possible about the extremely dangerous situation with Osama bin Laden, and was brushed off! And I don’t know why—honestly—I mean, I understand how horrible this Congressman Foley situation with the instant messaging is, okay? I understand that. But, why didn’t these kinds of things produce a similar outrage? And you know, I’m even reluctant to talk about it in these terms because it’s so easy for people to hear this or read this as sort of cheap political game-playing. I understand how it could sound that way. [Practically screaming now] But dammit, whatever happened to the concept of accountability for catastrophic failure? This administration has been by far the most incompetent, inept, and with more moral cowardice, and obsequiousness to their wealthy contributors, and obliviousness to the public interest of any administration in modern history, and probably in the entire history of the country!

But how do you really feel?
(cracks up)
I heart Gore.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sassy cat's fluff

A recent picture of Sassy cat. I've begun calling her Sasquatch because she's fluffy & has big feet. In this pose, she's more of a sea anemone though: presenting her temptying belly fluff to the world, and readying herself to pounce.

Psychotic voters prefer Bush

No, really. According to this study, covered by the New Haven Advocate, and via Crooks & Liars.

A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.

Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.

“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.’”

“Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry,” the study says.

Lohse says the trend isn’t unique to Bush: A 1977 study by Frumkin & Ibrahim found psychiatric patients preferred Nixon over McGovern in the 1972 election.

So psychotic, ill-informed, and mixed up voters choose Bush... great.

Of course, these sorts of studies aren't new. I've also heard of some recent efforts to track personality types and voting tendencies. These usually break down along similar lines: those who prefer authoritarian, conservative candidates, and those who are more embracing of change. That's why they call us "progressives," I suppose. I find it hilarious when Fox news uses the term "progressive" as if it were derogatory.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Update

Ahh Thanksgiving Break has been too good. I'm not exactly looking forward to returning to Stanford... to presentations & papers.

I'm trying to keep straight what we did each day...

Friday: Woke up before the sun rose (around a quarter to 5) to take a shuttle to the airport. Very busy place, the San Jose airport the Friday before Thanksgiving. Sat there for a very long time, during which interval the alarm on a door went off. No one working there bothered to turn it off, so I moved as far away as possible from the screeching.

Short plane ride -- was in Oregon before noon, and Mum & I eventually found the car in the parking lot and headed to the mall. Wanted to stop by The Body Shop and enjoy not having a sales tax. At home, I think we took a walk along the ditch & I helped with dinner...

Saturday: Big breakfast. Mum & I hiked up in the gorge -- Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Falls, & Triple Falls. Many people with dogs that we kept running into! The highway sounded rather like the ocean from afar. The hiking justified the Jello Pudding Pie later.

Sunday: Walked along the ditch with Mum. Watched The Hours -- Mum & I enjoyed it. I especially loved tracing Mrs. Dalloway in the plotlines... This is the payoff post-quals.

Monday: Dentist appointment early. All went well, and they gave me a new pink toothbrush. Stopped by Grammy's after, chatted and stayed for a very healthy lunch (cottage cheese & pear & whole wheat bread & peanut butter & home-baked energy bars -- wasn't hungry till dinner). Then we had our Thanksgiving shopping to do... ended up at Safeway for an organic free-range turkey. Made a walnut pie with Mum & an apple dumpling. Dinner of cod.

Tuesday: At the last minute, I had reservations about going to Corvallis to meet up with Merrie and drive back during the Weds. holiday madness. After starting to pack, we called and figured things out... I went on a hike up on the old logging trails for a view of the (foggy) upper valley. I kept hoping to find an antler to give Merrie, and hoping we'd made the right decision. I explored around at the top, climbed up higher to scope things out. Saw a deer on my way down, which (unwisely) hung around to get a glimpse of me.

Weds: Much preparation before Mer arrived. Went to town for last minute things (like more chai & apple cider & spinach & Rasmussen's for squash). Rosauer's was swamped. Had to wait for parking spots amidst honking and confusion, then had to wait for someone to return a shopping cart. Met up with Shannon, who confirmed that everything was a crisis and they were out of French onions. Might have taken a walk once home again -- hard to remember now. Baked apple dumplings and a pumpkin/cheesecake. I made dinner for Mer (we had squash and lentil pilaf and spinach), and we caught up. Rainy. She had a pretty hectic drive, took around an hour and a half longer than it should have due to traffic. Watched Medium: quite exciting with the Groundhog Day-style dream repetition.

Thurs: Thanksgiving! Mom had the turkey in the oven as Mer & I were waking up. We went on a walk up on "dead elk way" (newly dubbed branch of logging trail that we had previously called "you know when you turn left at the top of the hill"). Climbed until we got to a hill we didn't want to tackle. And then Merrie led the way straight down the hill, since it's never much fun backtracking. Hit some brush on the way down and got a bit muddy. Made it home in time to help with the last minute madness. Boiling sweet potatoes, mashing potatoes, compiling stuffing, heating up green beans & cranberries, heating up rolls, making gravy, etc... We had an early dinner (2:30 pm), and then I helped de-meat the turkey. It was interesting to eat turkey, Mer and I sampled and agreed "it's good!"

A bit after 4, we headed over to Scott & Linda's to see family. We checked out Scott's latest antlers, talked around the fire, and were entertained by the kids. MacKenzie got us started on a game of telephone, and she proceeded to make up things like "Princess dancing" and "Pony in the fire" and "bubble gum." Then she recruited me for a game of hide-the-my-little-pony. Come to find out, she's pretty good at hiding things.

Back home, we had our desserts... we'd now acquired an assortment of pies & dumplings & ice cream.

Friday: Went hiking with Mum & Mer up Gilhouley in the rain. It was rainy and misty, but made for some beautiful views as the fog moved around the upper valley. Snow level was down into the hills. Mer and I were walking ahead of Mum at some point, and a deer suddenly bounded across our path. We looked at each other, and then realized Mum had missed it. At the top, ran into a recently used logging road w/ cut trees. Sat and snacked on desserts till we were too cold to sit still any longer. Going down the hill was much faster than going up it.

Thanksgiving dinner part 2.

Watched The Family Stone -- surprisingly I think we all enjoyed it (even though it meant not re-watching The Family Man on TV).

Saturday: After breakfast, we headed up into the hills till we reached snow. We made it beyond Lola Pass, but had to stop before reaching Lost Lake. We explored a side trail, which let out onto the old road that's now blocked, but leads to the other side of the lake. Mer, Andrew, & I hiked along the other end of it over the summer. We didn't make it up too far, but I climbed a hill for a bit of a better view of the mountain while Mer, Mum, & Tim investigated a little dead-ending trail. On the way down met another family which delayed us, but still made it home at a decent hour... Then Mer and I headed into Hood River. Hung out with Audrey & Jess at Andrew's Pizza & Dog River Coffee. Gingerbread lattes are perfect. Mer joined us after buying a headlight. Sat around talking high school, current romances, school, jobs, etc.

After, Mer & I took a stop by Rosauer's for cupcakes & flowers, and met up with Mum & Tim at the Mesquitery for Mum's birthday dinner. I'd never been there, but the food is great. Plenty of pesca-flexi-tarian options. But I ended up ordering the exact same thing as Mer. And exchanged bits with Mum. After dinner we made it home first... and set up gifts & flowers on the coffee table. Tim walked in and saw, and then Mum came in, and marvelled that we made it home first (even though she heard us honk at them as we passed them just getting into their car). Anyway, she wandered around the living room asking "am I missing something?" as Mer & I laughed and confirmed that indeed, she was. Of course she didn't miss it for much longer, and we then enjoyed cupcakes over a game of Yahtzee. Come to find out, I'm horrible at Yahtzee. Except for full houses. Then Mer & I watched SNL and had popcorn... I napped on the bed with Sassy cat while Mer figured out her schedule for next quarter.

Today: It snowed! Started sometime I think between 3 or 4 am and 7 am, kept piling up on the skylight in my room. Sassy cat watched from my window. Big breakfast for Mum's birthday and a "Christmas at Yellowstone" special on PBS. Then Mer left early. Sadness. Just as I was getting back to my room wondering "well what the hell now," Linda & Scott arrived for Mum's birthday. So that was good. Then Mum & I went on a short walk in the newly fallen snow, and I had the afternoon to leisurely look for stuff for my PWR class and my sample lesson plan for Weds.

Thanksgiving dinner part 3.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reason #107 not to eat red meat

Because -- surprise, surprise -- it appears as though it increases the risk of developing a common type of breast cancer.

I'll let the WaPo speak for itself:

Younger women who regularly eat red meat appear to face an increased risk for a common form of breast cancer, according to a large, well-known Harvard study of women's health.

The study of more than 90,000 women found that the more red meat the women consumed in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the greater their risk for developing breast cancer fueled by hormones in the next 12 years. Those who consumed the most red meat had nearly twice the risk of those who ate red meat infrequently...

Although more research is needed to confirm the association and explore the possible reasons for it, researchers said the findings provide another motivation to limit consumption of red meat, which is already known to increase the risk of colon cancer...

Cho added that the findings could be particularly important because the type of breast cancer the study associated with red meat consumption has been increasing. Eating less red meat may help counter that trend...

Why red meat might increase the risk for breast cancer remains unknown, but previous research has suggested several possible reasons: Substances produced by cooking meat may be carcinogenic, naturally occurring substances in meat may mimic the action of hormones, or growth hormones that farmers feed cows could fuel breast cancer in women who consume meat from the animals.

Pandagon has a great discussion on this article, relating it to the problems of feedlots and factory farming in general. And something that's been bothering me a lot lately: the way in which companies slap a pink ribbon on its products as a quick PR trick, rather than actually evaluating how their products affect women's health. And, you know, changing things based upon that evaluation.

So this is #107 why red meat is bad for our health & bad for our environment. It doesn't seem that surprising: agribusiness feeds cattle a completely unnatural diet of grain and other animals (ahem, mad cow), while giving them hormones and antibiotics to increase profit margins. Considering the effects of bioaccumulation, and the fact that nasty stuff accumulates in fat, it seems fairly self-explanatory why eating animal flesh could be risky.

But my favorite part of this WaPo article is this, which signals the close of the essay:

But noting that earlier studies reached the opposite conclusion, Randall D. Huffman, vice president for scientific affairs at the American Meat Institute, said that research into "diet and health is known for its fluid and often contradictory conclusions. This study is a perfect example of that."
Yes, BRILLIANT idea! This is journalistic "integrity" at its finest. In the interest of "fair and balanced" reporting, who does the journalist turn to in making concluding remarks? OH YES, of course, a talking head from the American F-ing Meat Institute! Because I'm sure he's completely unbiased. It's not like his f*cking paycheck comes from the meat industry that relies upon selling a product that is bad for women's health, right?

And then this Huffman character pushes the food pyramid, which is heavily influenced by big agribusiness:

"The wisest course of action in the wake of one more contradictory study is to consume the balanced diet recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines," he said.

Really? Is this really the wisest course of action? Or would the wisest course of action be to limit one's intake of red meat, seeing as it is linked to myriad health problems?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Antifeminism & Irresponsible Breeding

I came across this incredibly scary article in The Nation . It covers the ill-thought out "Quiverfull" movement among right-wing evangelicals, which follows a return to patriarchy, 6+ children families, and terribly cliched comparisons of the nuclear family to the army. Oh, and a belief in *The Rapture* that means destroying the earth via overpopulation is hunky-dory, because God will just give us a new one! It's hard to explain the dangers of global warming and the destruction of open spaces and ecosystems and rainforests to people that insist upon believing that whatever crazy irresponsible sh*t they do, God will be there to fix it up.

These are the problems of a large segment of society following blind faith over science and, oh, REALITY.

Here's my take on some excerpts from the article. Pandagon also has a write up which deals more explicitly with the racism involved in trying to "outgrow" Muslim countries, and how this movement links up with anti-choice perspectives in general.

Though there are no exact figures for the size of the movement, the number of families that identify as Quiverfull is likely in the thousands to low tens of thousands. Its word-of-mouth growth can be traced back to conservative Protestant critiques of contraception--adherents consider all birth control, even natural family planning (the rhythm method), to be the province of prostitutes--and the growing belief among evangelicals that the decision of mainstream Protestant churches in the 1950s to approve contraception for married couples led directly to the sexual revolution and then Roe v. Wade.

Wait: contraception = an inheritance from prostitutes?! Do these people know anything about the history of contraception? Which would also be the history of civilization? As long as we've known what caused pregnancy, we've been trying to control our reproductive capacities. It's part of having the ability to think and reason. Because reasoning people have long understood that despite your belief in one or another god (or set thereof), sometimes nature just doesn't cooperate (like when one has too many kids to take care of already).

"Our bodies are meant to be a living sacrifice," write the Hesses. Or, as Mary Pride, in another of the movement's founding texts, The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, puts it, "My body is not my own." This rebuttal of the feminist health text Our Bodies, Ourselves is deliberate. Quiverfull women are more than mothers. They're domestic warriors in the battle against what they see as forty years of destruction wrought by women's liberation: contraception, women's careers, abortion, divorce, homosexuality and child abuse, in that order…

Um, what? And why is the writer not calling them out on this blatant misinformation? That whole female martyrdom thing? Been there, done that, and it wasn't so hot. "Quiverfull" martyrs may not remember this, but women wanted contraception. And they were relieved to have it. They really ought to read some of the letters to Sanger in the early 20th century. And that whole having a career thing? Also makes many women very happy. Don't change women having careers, change the society that makes it so difficult for a woman to both have a career and a family. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

As to abortion: I think South America has already provided us with plenty of examples of how criminalizing abortion hurts women. Compare Brazil's abortion rate with that of the Netherlands, for example. And divorce? Means that people aren't suffering in marriages that didn't work out. Despite popular right wing ideology, forced marriage does not a happy marriage make. Staying with something that makes you miserable, or with someone that beats you, doesn't make you a better person.

OK, homosexuality? Come on. Look at most other animal species. Read some of the ancient Greeks & Romans. Homosexuality is both natural and human. The reasoning here is very simply an intentional misreading of causality. Feminism doesn't cause homosexuality. But feminist and civil rights movements do create an atmosphere in which one is willing to claim one's humanity and own up to one's sexuality.

Child abuse? Do we even need to dignify that with an answer? A passing knowledge of human nature and child labor laws in the past 200 years would be a good place to start.

"Family planning," Pride argues, "is the mother of abortion. A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular."…

Whoa there. What indoctrination? Women wanted contraception long before it was legal to even talk about it with your nurse or doctor. And what exactly is better than "personal convenience" for deciding when to embark on a pregnancy? Should we strive to have children when we're broke, single, and too young or immature to take care of them?

Pastor Heneghan of Gospel Community Church sees the issue of population growth in more biblical terms, specifically those taken from Genesis and Revelation. "Some people think that what I'm doing--having eleven children--is wrong. I don't really get into that much. The Bible says 'be fruitful and multiply.' That's my belief system. They don't believe in God, so they think we have to conserve what we have. But in my belief system, He's going to give us a new earth." Overpopulation isn't a problem in a universe where God promises a clean global slate…

More evidence for how easy it is to pick a verse from the Bible and use it to support whatever crazy scheme you've thought up. If you're going to literally interpret "be fruitful and mutliply," then why not all those old Hebrew laws in Leviticus? Oh yeah, that's right: because those are outdated. Suppose it's ever dawned on these guys that we've already been "fruitful and multiplied" since Adam and Eve got that advice? That maybe it's time to stop taking that so literally?

And I'm sorry, you can also believe that God will pick up your dirty socks and put them in the hamper, but even the strongest faith does not change reality. Over here in the reality-based world, the human population has skyrocketed, while the environment has taken a beating. The vast majority of scientists are *very worried* about global warming and our belated and ineffectual responses to it thus far. Forests are being cut down to satisify first world markets. Our water, air, and land are so polluted with industrial chemicals and waste products that scientists (and the rest of us who are paying attention) are very worried about the impact on human health. Here's one of the latest studies, I'll just give the lead-in: "MILLIONS of children worldwide may have suffered brain damage as a direct result of industrial pollution, scientists said yesterday."

Yeah. So, about your belief system: It doesn't correlate with reality. So unless you remove yourself from the reality of the The Earth, November 2006, please start acting like a responsible citizen who has to think about his/her impact on the environment and human society. Seriously, it's what Jesus would do.

When I visited Janet and Ted Wolfson at their paintball farm in Canton, Georgia, for a planned Quiverfull picnic (one cut short by bad weather and Rachel Scott's cardinal rule that "with eight children, plans are always subject to change"), the Wolfsons and their guests were discussing the reasons for sticking with Quiverfull through the hard times. An anonymous mother had written in to the Quiverfull Digest full of despair, saying she felt she was "going to die." Her husband was older and unhelpful around the house, and she feared he would die and leave her to raise their six children alone and destitute. She wanted someone on the forum to give her a reason--besides the Bible--why one should be Quiverfull. The answers were quickand pointed: Apart from Scripture, there's no reason why one should be Quiverfull.

"If you don't invoke God's word, then there's really no reason," the Wolfsons explained. "Kids are great and all that, but in reality, it's all about the Bible."

Come again?!
These are the people trying to teach us about the proper mentality of the parent? That's frankly quite scary. "Kids are great and all"? That's it? Maybe when you're having a baby a year due to your misinterpretation of the Bible, reality starts to set in and you realize that's a helluva lot of diapers? And you realize that there's really no reason for the way you're living your life, except for this little sentence in the Bible that you've cherry picked as being the only one you're going to interpret literally?

And even sadder: can you imagine being the 13th child? Who's here because it's "all about the Bible"?

But if the Quiverfull mission is rooted in faith, the unseen, its mandate to be fruitful and multiply has tangible results as well. Namely, in Rick and Jan Hess's words, to provide "arrows for the war."

Oh oops, spoke too soon. I mean, can you imagine being the 13th child who's here because his/her parents want to provide plenty of Christian soldiers for the anticipated war with the Muslim world?
After arguing Scripture, the Hesses point to a number of more worldly effects that a Christian embrace of Quiverfull could bring. "When at the height of the Reagan Revolution," they write, "the conservative faction in Washington was enforced [sic] with squads of new conservative congressmen, legislators often found themselves handcuffed by lack of like-minded staff. There simply weren't enough conservatives trained to serve in Washington in the lower and middle capacities." But if just 8 million American Christian couples began supplying more "arrows for the war" by having six children or more, they propose, the Christian-right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century ("assuming Christ does not return before then"). They like to ponder the spiritual victory that such numbers could bring: both houses of Congress and the majority of state governor's mansions filled by Christians; universities that embrace creationism; sinful cities reclaimed for the faithful; and the swift blows dealt to companies that offend Christian sensibilities…

Someone should really tell these people that just because you take your child to church, doesn't mean your child is going to grow up believing everything that you believe in. There are many, many liberals who were raised by religious right wingers.

Oh, and by the by: We've already seen what happens when the head of Evangelicals, Ted Haggerd, visits the White House on a weekly basis. Things fall apart, and the Dems take both houses of Congress.

In both Carlson's writings and in the work of Mary Pride and the Hesses, this is reflected in their description of patriarchal families as the basic "cellular units of society" that form a bulwark against Communism, as well as in the military-industrial terminology they assign to biblical gender roles within such "cells": the husband described as company CEO, the wife as plant manager and the children as workers. Or, in alternate form, the titles revised to reflect the Christian church's "constant state of war" with the world: "Commander in Chief" Jesus, the husband a "commanding officer" and his wife a "private" below him. And the kids? Presumably ammunition, arrows, weapons for the war.

Someone should also tell these people that if Jesus were alive today, he'd be a hippy. (Even David Kuo admits that.) Who, exactly, would Jesus bomb?

I thought so.

And you couldn't make those analogies more hilariously ridiculous if you tried. Sometimes I wonder when I'm reading The Nation, if I'm actually reading The Onion.

Thus patriarchy, and its requirement that wives submit to their husbands, becomes a mission in itself, the inversion of a reactionary movement into a seeming revolution against modern society. As Pride writes, "Submission has a military air.... When the private is committed to winning the war, and is willing to subject his personal desires to the goal of winning, and is willing to follow the leader his Commander has put over him, that army stands a good chance of winning."…

Yuck. Nothing like blatant misogyny to make me want to vomit. Having a penis does not equal having either brains or a good plan. I think our current president perfectly illustrates this. Nor does having a Y chromosome mean you're a good leader, compassionate, or even sane. Hmmm...

Taking a long view as unsettling in its way as Pastor Bartly Heneghan's rapture talk, Longman says that no society can survive to reproduce itself without following patriarchy…

Uhh -- wait a sec. First, I assume they're talking about industrialized, capitalist societies, because there are examples of more matriarchal human groups. Secondly, do we really have enough evidence to make this statement? Call me crazy, but wouldn't we need a modern, industralized nation that: 1) is not patriarchal or 2) is not still very much shaped by patriarchy? And where, pray tell, is this society?

Oh yes, there isn't one. So I want to know why we need to follow patriarchy in order to reproduce society. Are we supposed to seriously give up on the idea of women being equally human just because some countries in Europe have low birth rates? It is quite possible and likely that birth rates simply change according to local and global conditions. Maybe women are having fewer children because the world is overpopulated, because they know that in first world countries all their children are likely to surive, and because they can. Maybe women are right to have fewer children in the modern world. Maybe all women would make this choice if they were free of religious and cultural messages to the contrary.

If that's true, then I've just solved the right-wing Evangelicals' worse fears about a coming Christian-Muslim world war. Just give Muslim women rights over their bodies and reproductive capacities.

But for the sake of argument, let's consider the other side. That the only way to reproduce modern society, and our U.S. society in particular, is through patriarchy. Then I see no way out but to seriously confront the question: If we need to coerce women into reproducing society through patriarchal control, then is it a society really worth reproducing?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Everything's turning up blue

But blue in a good way. Like blue skies, blue oceans good.

The AP is now calling the Senate for the Democrats.


This has been the most incredible day.

I woke up to gray skies, and turned on the TV for updates on the Senate races. As I got ready for class, the overcast clouds burned off to a blue sky, Nancy Pelosi was on TV, and, commentators were speculating as to what will happen with the House under Democratic control. I was in the bathroom putting on mascara when the newscasters interrupted themselves with the AP breaking news that *Rumsfeld was resigning.* Needless to say, I rushed out of the bathroom, shocked, and ended up biking like mad to get to PWR on time. Not that it mattered: everyone was late. The cohort was talking in a circle, and I (rudely) interrupted because I was bursting with this news. And then Claire found out and hugged me. And then our Prof. heard, and she described Rumsfeld as "that buffoon." To which I could only whole-heartedly agree.

And at the end of the day, I'm *hopeful* for the first time in a very long time.

In other news: The presentation is over, and I felt like I was celebrating with Meredith & Jill over dinner. I love being here.
Midterm elections - A Primer

Schoolhouse Rock, Daily Show Style.

Thank God we're seeing some change, despite the system. Looking forward to Nancy Pelosi: Yay for a woman as Speaker of the House! (Not to mention a woman *from San Francisco.*)

South Dakota's abortion-ban measure has failed. Oregon and CA appear to likewise be rejecting measures that would have required parental notification for teens seeking abortions.

Maybe politicians will get the message.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bill Maher: Democratic Talking Points

Real Time with Bill Maher -- the last before midterm elections -- included this advice to Democrats:

Here are your talking points:

1) When they say, "Democrats will raise taxes," you say, "We have to, because some asshole spent all the money in the world cutting Paris Hilton's taxes and not killing Osama bin Laden." In just six years the national debt has doubled. You can't keep spending money you don't take in, that's not even elementary economics, that's just called "Don't be Michael Jackson."

2) When they say, "The terrorists want the Democrats to win," you say, "Are you insane? George Bush has been a terrorist's wet dream, and nonpartisan commissions have confirmed that he's a recruiter's dream: theirs, not ours. And, he has exhausted our military without coming away with a win, the worst of both worlds." Bush inflames radical hatred against America and then runs on offering to protect us from it. It's like a guy throwing shit on you and then selling you relief from the flies.

3) When they say, "Cut and Run" or "Defeatocrat," you say, "Bush lost the war -- period." All this nonsense about "the violence is getting worse because they're trying to influence our election." No, it's getting worse because you drew up the postwar plans on the back of a cocktail napkin at Applebee's. And of course Democrats want to win, but that's impossible now that you've ethnically cleansed the place by making it unlivable, just like you did with New Orleans.

4) When they say that actual combat veterans like John Kerry are "denigrating" the troops, you say, "You're completely full of shit." ...

If I was a troop, the support I would want back home would mainly come in the form of people pressuring Washington to get me out of this pointless nightmare. That's how I would feel supported.

So when they say, "Democrats are obstructionists," you say, "You're welcome." Because with a bad administration that has bad ideas, obstruction is a good thing, just as it's a good thing to obstruct a drunk from getting his car keys. I would be happy to frame the debate as a fight between the Obstructionists and the Enablers. There's your talking point: "Vote Republican, and you vote to enable George Bush to keep ruling as an emperor." A retarded, child emperor, but an emperor.

Democrats, you've got two days to get out there and close. It's not about slogans this time. Although when it comes to slogans, accept no other from your opponent except this one: "The Republican Party: We're Sorry."

I like watching Bill Maher work.

Horseback riding photos

A kind soul from my trip yesterday sent me some photos that included me.

So I then passed on some of my photos to the couple of people who were riding in front of me (and who therefore ended up in every picture).

And one person replied that he didn't have pictures, but left me with something I want to call prose poetry. Here's the accompanying mental image:

"Learning to ride a horse is akin to social dancing: one has to learn how to lead, and if that fails, then quickly adapt to follow; indecision is discouraged."

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back in the Saddle

So today was my horseback riding event. I had 28 people sign up!

The ranch was good overall: the guides helped us get situated, but also treated us like adults. The horses had some rivalries, but none of the tiffs escalated to biting or kicking. My horse's name was "Volvo."

Favorite moments: Trotting on the beach!

But now, my ass is so sore.

Unfortunately, all my pictures are of the horses' butts in front of me. So I leave you with a photo my Mom sent me from a trail ride we went on about 3 years ago.
Root of All Evil 1: Ted Haggard and his ignorance of science

Frightening. American anti-science, anti-intellectualism at its worst.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Disney Halloween - Bad Moon Rising

Remember DTV Monster Hits? (Disney Halloween Treat, an '80s childhood staple?)

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just two more examples...

...of how FUBAR America has become under the Bush idiocy.

Case #1: Lee Raymond, former CEO of ExxonMobil who is currently rolling in oil money while thousands of lives are lost in Iraq in a war fought (let's face it) over oil interests, HAS BEEN APPOINTED BY THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO SOLVE OUR NATION'S ENERGY CRISIS. Lemme guess. The "solving" is going to look a lot like not doing anything as long as Big Oil is raking in the dough.

Isn't this, I dunno, kind of a conflict of interests? If Bush was really serious about energy independence, wouldn't he make sure someone... I dunno... QUALIFIED was in this position?

GroovyGreen via Shakespeare's Sister.

Case #2: The headline says it all: "Bush Asserts Constitutional Right To Hire Incompetent People At FEMA." Congress, for once in its history under Bush, attempted to -- I won't go so far as to say, "hold someone accountable for a major f*#$ up" -- acknowledge that cronyism is not the best way to choose a FEMA director. Congress's bill stated that the FEMA Administrator should have 5 years experience of leadership in the private or public sector, and should, you know, KNOW something about emergency management and homeland security. The suggestion seems to be, hey, maybe next time don't choose the head of the International Arabian Horse Association?

For a president that ignored a major hurricane and allowed a bad situation to get worse (while all the time claiming that only he can "protect" Americans), you'd think that this bill would be the very, very least he could do to atone for his actions/sins.

But of course, you'd be wrong. Bush, with his hubris glaring in the midday sun, rejected this request. He even stated that this would "rule out" qualified persons.

From Think Progress:

It’s unclear how requiring someone to have five years of management experience and some knowledge of emergency management “rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified.” Georgetown Law School professor Marty Lederman noted, “It’s hard to imagine a more modest and reasonable congressional response to the Michael Brown fiasco,” he said.

Nevertheless, President Bush has “asserted that he has the executive authority to disobey” the law.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Political roads... those not taken, and those to come

My favorite passages from Kristof's op-ed in the NYT on the 24th:

For every additional second we stay in Iraq, we taxpayers will end up paying an additional $6,300.

So aside from the rising body counts and all the other good reasons to adopt a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, here's another: We are spending vast sums there that would be better spent rescuing the American health care system, developing alternative forms of energy and making a serious effort to reduce global poverty.
In the run-up to the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld estimated that the overall cost would be under $50 billion. Paul Wolfowitz argued that Iraq could use its oil to "finance its own reconstruction."

But now several careful studies have attempted to tote up various costs, and they suggest that the tab will be more than $1 trillion -- perhaps more than $2 trillion. The higher sum would amount to $6,600 per American man, woman and child.

"The total costs of the war, including the budgetary, social and macroeconomic costs, are likely to exceed $2 trillion," Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia, writes in an updated new study with Linda Bilmes, a public finance specialist at Harvard. Their report has just appeared in the Milken Institute Review, as an update on a paper presented earlier this year.

Just to put that $2 trillion in perspective, it is four times the additional cost needed to provide health insurance for all uninsured Americans for the next decade. It is 1,600 times Mr. Bush's financing for his vaunted hydrogen energy project....

Of course, many of the costs are hidden and haven't even been spent yet. For example, more than 3,000 American veterans have suffered severe head injuries in Iraq, and the U.S. government will have to pay for round-the-clock care for many of them for decades. The cost ranges from $600,000 to $5 million per person.

Then there are disability payments that will continue for a half-century...

The administration didn't raise taxes to pay for the war, so we're financing it by borrowing from China and other countries. Those borrowing costs are estimated to range from $264 billion to $308 billion in interest.

The bottom line is that not only have we squandered 2,800 American lives and considerable American prestige in Iraq, but we're also paying $18,000 per household to do so.

We still face the choice of whether to remain in Iraq indefinitely or to impose a timetable and withdraw U.S. troops. These studies suggest that every additional year we keep our troops in Iraq will add $200 billion to our tax bills.

My vote would be to spend a chunk of that sum instead fighting malaria, AIDS and maternal mortality, bolstering American schools, and assuring health care for all Americans. We're spending $380,000 for every extra minute we stay in Iraq, and we can find better ways to spend that money.

This upcoming election will be interesting. I'm reminded of a recent article I read by a Repub. arguing that there needs to be a balance between Congress and the president -- that it's actually bad to have the same party holding both powers. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and all that. But I don't know how much can really be done at this point, except perhaps to hold people accountable.

Another week goes by...

Haven't updated in a while -- it's been a busy week.

Last weekend, James, Meredith, & I went hiking in the Open Space area -- mainly in Monte Bello. Beautiful sunny day, and it was lovely to be outdoors enjoying it. And no mosquitoes! On Sunday we went to the farmer's market, and I bought a bouquet of greenery for my new vase... the bouquet is currently hanging upside down to dry (I wanted something fairly permanent). Desperate Housewives was excellent, and we're expecting an even better episode this Sunday, as it seems everyone who shouldn't be sleeping together, is... Classes are interesting, I was reading Marx this week, and last night I treated myself to an evening of Middlemarch. I'm currently about halfway through, and thoroughly loving it.

I'm finding that this quarter is much more about independent reading and thinking. Perhaps after an entire summer of fairly solitary work, I'm just more invested in finding what I want to get out of my classes, reading group, etc. Or maybe it's because this is the first quarter that I'm actually doing "just for me" reading on the side. Or maybe it has something to do with developing my PWR course. Not sure, but I hope it lasts.

This week I had a presentation in my seminar on the 18th century essay form... I was looking at contexts for the debate around animal cruelty. Some Bentham (what's important in making moral decisions about another creature isn't "Can it reason?" but "Can it feel?"), some children's lit., some Hogarth prints (The 4 Stages of Cruelty), etc...

So to conclude this update on what I've been doing this week, I'm going to quote from Marx's "On the Jewish Question." Because in the margins on one page I wrote, and I quote: "Wow. Repubs & Evangelicals" and "YES!! faith-based office." Marx is discussing the problem of the imperfect state claiming religion as its basis. This is one snippet of what I felt was incredibly pertinent to U.S. politics right now, especially in the wake of David Kuo's book Tempting Faith:

"The so-called Christian state, on the other hand, has a political attitude towards religion, and a religious attitude towards politics. It reduces political institutions and religion equally to mere appearances."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Repubs advertising for terrorists

Olbermann is freaking incredible.

Here are selections from the transcript discussed at Crooks & Liars:

The commercial, you have already seen, it is a distillation of everything this administration and the party in power have tried to do these last five years and six weeks.

It is from the Republican National Committee, it shows images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It offers quotes from them, all as a clock ticks ominously in the background. It concludes with what Zawahiri may or may not have said to a Pakistani journalist as long ago as 2001, his dubious claim that he had purchased suitcase bombs. The quotation is followed by sheer coincidence, no doubt, by an image of a massive explosion. "These are the stakes" appears on the screen, quoting exactly from Lyndon Johnson's infamous nuclear scare commercial from 1964, "Vote November 7th".

There is a cheap Texas Chainsaw Massacre quality to the whole thing. It also serves to immediately call to mind the occasions when President Bush dismissed Osama bin Laden as somebody he didn't think about, except, obviously, when elections were near. Frankly, a lot of people seeing that commercial for the first time have laughed out loud, but not everyone. And therein lies the true threat to this country.

The dictionary definition of the word ‘terrorize' is simple and not open to misinterpretation: "To fill or overpower with terror; terrify; coerce by intimidation or fear." Note please that the words ‘violence' and ‘death' are missing from that definition. For the key to terrorism is not the act-but the fear of the act. That is why bin Laden and his deputies and his imitators are forever putting together videotape statements and releasing virtual infomercials with dire threats and heart-stopping warnings.

But why is the Republican Party imitating them? Bin Laden puts out what amounts to a commercial of fear; the Republicans put out what is unmistakable as a commercial of fear.

The Republicans are paying to have the messages of bin Laden and the others broadcast into your home! Only the Republicans have a bigger bankroll.


Eleven presidents ago, the chief executive reassured us that ‘we have nothing to fear, but fear itself.' His distant successor has wasted his administration, insisting there is nothing we can have but fear itself.

The Vice President, as recently as this month, was caught campaigning again with the phrase "mass death in the United States". Four years ago, it was the now Secretary of State, Dr. Rice, rationalizing Iraq with quote, "we don't want to be…the smoking gun to be the mushroom cloud." Days later, Mr. Bush himself told an audience that quote "we cannot wait the final proof, the smoking gun, that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

And now we have this cheesy commercial, complete with images of a faked mushroom cloud and implications of mass death in America.

This administration has derived benefit and power from terrorizing the very people it claims to be protecting from terror.
It may be the oldest trick in the political book: scare people into believing they are in danger and only you can save them. Lyndon Johnson used it to bury Barry Goldwater. Joe McCarthy leaped from obscurity on its back. And now the legacy has come to President George W. Bush.

Of course, the gruel of fear is getting thinner and thinner, is it not, Mr. President? And thus, more and more of it needs to be made out of less and less actual terror. After last week's embarrassing internet hoax about dirty bombs in footballs stadiums, the one your Department of Homeland Security immediately disseminated to the public, a self-described former CIA operative named Wayne Simmons cited the fiasco as quote "The, and I mean, the perfect example of the President's Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the NSA Terrorist Eavesdropping Program-how vital they are."

Frank Gaffney, once a respected Assistant Secretary of Defense and now the president of something called The Center for Security Policy added "one of the things that I hope Americans take away from this is not only that they're gunning for us. Not just in a place like Iraq, but truly worldwide."

Of course, the "they" to which Mr. Gaffney referred, turned out to be a lone 20-year-old grocery bagger from Wisconsin named Jake. A kid trying to one-up some loser in an internet game of ‘chicken.' His threat referenced seven football stadiums, at which dirty bombs were to be exploded yesterday. It began with the one in New York City, even though there isn't one in New York City and though the attacks were supposed to be simultaneous, four of the games were scheduled to start at 1:00 pm Eastern time and the others at 4:00 pm Eastern time. Moreover, the kid said that he had posted the identical message on forty websites since September. We caught him in merely about six weeks, even though the only way he could be less subtle, less stealthy and less of a threat was if he bought an advertisement on the Superbowl telecast.

Mr. Bush, this is the what–100th plot your people have revealed that turned out to be some nonsensical misunderstanding or the fabrications of somebody hoping to talk his way off a waterboard in Eastern Europe? If, Mr. President, this is the kind of crack work your new ad implies that only you, and not the Democrats, can do, you, sir, need to pull over and ask for directions. The real question, of course, Mr. Bush, is why did your Department of Homeland Security even release that information in the first place? It was never a serious threat. Even the first news accounts quoted a Homeland spokesman as admitting strong skepticism. The kind of strong skepticism which most government agencies address before telling the public, not afterwards.

So that leaves two options, Mr. President: the first option, you and your Department of Homeland Security don't have the slightest idea what you're doing here. Thus, contrary to your flip-flopping between saying, "we're safe" and saying, "but we're not safe enough", and contrary to the Vice President's swaggering pronouncements about the lack of another attack since 9/11, the last five years HAS been just an accident.

Or there's the second option: your political operatives leaked this nonsense for the same reason your political operatives put out that commercial. To scare the gullible.

Obviously, the correct answer, Mr. Bush, is: all of the above.


Setting aside the fact that your government has done nothing else for those five years but pat itself on the back about terror, while waging pointless war on the wrong enemy in Iraq and waging war on the cherished freedoms in America, just on this subject of counter-terrorism, sir, yours is the least competent government in time of crisis in this country's history.

These are the stakes indeed, Mr. President. You do not know what you are doing. And the commercial, the one about which Zawahiri might say, "hey, pretty good, we love your choice of font style," all that further needs to be said about that is to add three words to Shakespeare. Mr. President, you and that advertisement of terror are full of sound and fury, signifying–and competent at–nothing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bush has never been stay the course? Huh?

The political sidestepping -- nay, outright lying -- is beyond ridiculous. Bush says we've "never been stay the course." Um... what? As Crooks and Liars notes:

BUSH: Well, listen, we've never been "stay the course", George. We have been, "We will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics"…

BUSH: We will stay the course. [8/30/06]

BUSH: We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. [8/4/05]

BUSH: We will stay the course until the job is done, Steve. And the
temptation is to try to get the President or somebody to put a timetable on
the definition of getting the job done. We’re just going to stay the
. [12/15/03]

BUSH: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We’ll stay the course.

BUSH: And that’s why we’re going to stay the course in Iraq. And that’s
why when we say something in Iraq, we’re going to do it. [4/16/04]

BUSH: And so we’ve got tough action in Iraq. But we will stay the course. [4/5/04]

Bush, America isn't as dumb as you wish we were. We know how to type "stay the course" into a Google news search. You want to get the hell outa Iraq now that you've f-ed things up, but you don't want to say "cut and run," even though your own advisors know Iraq is now an unwinnable war. So call it what you want. A change in tactics, a change of heart, a revised plan, whatever. But don't pretend that you aren't doing exactly what Dems have been pushing for all along.

Oh, and about this:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it seems like every month we're going farther from that.

BUSH: Well, I don't know why you would say that. I mean…

STEPHANOPOULOS: The casualties are going up.

BUSH: … if that's the definition of success or failure, the number of casualties, then you're right. But that's what the enemy knows. See, they try to define success or failure.

This is ridiculous. People dying = things are not good. Success does not equal large scale death and destruction. Who is the "enemy"? Iraqis? Those crazy people saying, hey, we think 600,000 people have died as a result of this war?

STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker's a smart guy. He's got a solid group of people on that study group. But what can he come up with that you and your military commanders haven't already thought of?

BUSH: Well, why don't we wait and see? I don't — you know, we're not in collaboration with the Baker-Hamilton committee. I think this is a good idea, to get people outside to come and take a look.

That's an interesting question. I'm looking forward to seeing the answer.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot of people think we shouldn't wait, and that if a change of strategy is needed it shouldn't come after the elections, it should come now.

BUSH: Well, we're constantly changing tactics, constantly changing tactics.

WHAT?? Why aren't you in collaboration with every resource we've got? Why is change so late in coming? What the hell do you mean, let's "wait and see"?! This isn't oh, let's wait and see what the weather does. Answer old Stephanopoulos: why isn't change coming now? And what sort of change, seeing that your supposed "changing" of tactics have all failed, miserably? Your administration is broken. *Ding ding* Time for new leadership!

And the part of the transcript that isn't at Crooks and Liars, is also really interesting... in which Bush has a paranoid view of why violence is escalating, and who's behind it. You'd think it's because of Sunni-Shiite violence, right? Because of civil war, right? WRONG! It's the terrorists! It's al Quaeda! And the people behind this sectarian violence are -- NO JOKE, BUSH ACTUALLY IMPLIES THIS -- trying to influence midterm elections!! *gasp*


Nice attempt to scare the sh*# out of the few people who still have an iota of trust in what comes out of your mouth.

American Prospect on FFL

I was scrolling through Feministe, and was curious about an article by Adele M. Stan on Feminists for Life. Had to link to it, as I just covered this last week. She comes to the same conclusions: FFL adopts the rhetoric of pro-choice activists for a very anti-choice agenda. Stan is quite clear that this is a group which has whole heartedly embraced the Catholic Vatican's stance on contraception and birth control, leaving women with no choice but to sacrifice their own lives/health for whatever blastocyte might come along (whether by accident or rape). Note: they don't support any exceptions, ever.

Anyways, I'll let Adele Stan handle it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Country That Works

That's the title of Andy Stern's book. I just saw an interview with him on the news, and he was amazing. He points out that this economy -- although up and running according to the numbers -- is not working for most Americans. That we need to realize health care linked up with our labor does not make sense in a global economy. In other words, instead of paying for healthcare for workers, companies simply relocate to Canada. That we need more middle class jobs. That trickle down simply does not work. That the rich are getting richer, and the poor poorer, and the gap shows no signs of closing unless something changes. Basically, that America needs a government that works (clearly the present one isn't working). That invests those billions of dollars not in a war of choice, but in America's common good (and before you believe Iraq has anything to do with terrorism: where exactly is Bin Laden?). OK so the idea of the "common good" is coming to me from Clinton's amazing speech the other day.

Anyway, so here's Stern in an interview:

The world is changing; this is not our fathers' and grandfathers' economy. And even Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin, Warren Buffett, and yes, President Bush's new Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, acknowledge growing problems with the market not working for middle class Americans.

Second, Stephen, your one defense to show that living standards are improving for middle class Americans was the increasing number of Americans who own stock.

Wrong again: The Federal Reserve and the Economic Policy Institute report that less than half of all Americans are invested in the stock market in any fashion directly or even indirectly through mutual funds or 401(k)s.

In fact stock ownership DECLINED from 51.9% in 2001 to 48.6% in 2004. And this decreasing "Ownership Society" also has produced less stock market assets for individual households. The percentage of households with more than $5,000 in stock FELL from 40.1% to 34.9%.

But here is the inequality gap in black and white: The wealthiest 20 percent of all households in America own 90 percent of all stock value and the wealthiest 5 percent own 65 percent of all stock value directly or indirectly.

This is not a country growing together. A rising tide is only lifting the luxury liners.

As I write in my book, we can make this A Country That Works, but it means facing up to reality and recognizing difficulties confronting hard working Americans. Stephen Colbert intends to be funny. Stephen Moore cooking the books on TV, radio, and in print is not funny. We need a serious effort to find ways together to put America back on track – for our kids and grandkids.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

3 Years, Shmoopy

It's been three years since I met Andrew over coffee, with Dale playing chaperone, and we talked until past Andrew's dinner time, and went to Friendly's, and I couldn't finish my salad. From dating at MHC, to a summer in Boston, to vacations together in CA & WI... it's been three busy & happy years. Love you, honey!

Awkward moments at Stanford

Many people find the Stanford campus aesthetically pleasing. I get it. I even appreciate it. The arcades, the red tile, the palm trees, the fountains, the symmetry. But I'm still appalled by the sheer number of tourists. Buses come up Palm Drive, park along the Oval, and unleash their camera-toting multitudes to wreck havoc on the Main Quad. Usually I can take this in stride. Like how I deal with the fact that every time I bike to the department in my hoodie on a weekend morning to print some article or grab some last minute materials, I bike through the after shocks of a wedding. This is how things are. But sometimes, it becomes too much.

Cases in point: In the space of one week, both of the following happened to me.

1. Beautiful sunny day. I'm minding my own business, walking down the arcade parallel to Serra. Suddenly I realize that this guy walking perpendicularly to me is not manoevering to avoid me, but rather is on a crash course to intercept me. I look up. Young European-looking blond guy is handing me a camera and wants his picture taken with the sculptures and Memorial Church in the background. I do so, and he has to repeat directions on how to press the button as I try to get a pic that doesn't have too many other people in it.

2. I had just picked up the 1964 compilation of Harper's Magazine from the library, because I want to use the essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" in my PWR course. And I have this dream of inspiring students to use the library by giving them a copy of the actual magazine from 1964. Anyways. So I'm sitting at the bus stop flipping through 40 year old ads for vermeoth and vacations to Egypt -- Let me interrupt myself: While getting these old magazines, I happened to look at some mags from the mid-70's, which were advertising cars with 24 miles to the gallon. And I thought, Christ, this is depressing. Fuel efficiency hasn't improved in the last 30+ years. Imagine what technological improvements could have been initiated if big oil didn't own our government. It's not inconceivable that we could have been much less reliant on the Middle East, and could therefore have saved ourselves a few trillion dollars and many thousands of lives. But I digress.

So I'm sitting at the bus stop with my ads for scotch and typewriters, when this man and young woman approach me, camera in hand. "Can we take a picture with you?" At first I thought he was asking me to take a picture of them. But no. He sat by me, asked if I was a student ("Yes, in English"), put his arm over the back of the bench, and the lady snapped a picture of us. I smiled. He said something which I at first thought was "You should come to China," but was actually "I'm from China" (or something to that effect). Shanghai, in fact. Sounds like he's going to be a student here. To which I commented on the distance and the nice weather in CA, and to enjoy it.

What makes this even funnier, is that the same thing happened to Jessica when she visited a couple of weeks ago. She got her picture taken by a tourist in the bookstore coffee shop, despite her protests that she doesn't actually go here yet.

Who knew that Stanford students were a curiosity worthy of photo documentation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


God I love this pudding.

My only complaint: I wish they kept the cookie crumbles separate from the decadent vanilla pudding. Otherwise, during the whisking process, the two become this very drab gray conglomerate. (But it still tastes good.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Who Killed The Electric Car?

Too cute

Sweet Tired Cat

The aesthetics of cuteness.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

FFL: "F" for "Fear"

"Feminists" for Life is a particularly problematic group. And they just bought Susan B. Anthony's historical house. If you visit their website, you'll find all sorts of questionable material. The first sign of trouble should be their ambiguous stance on contraception. You'd think that a group trying to empower women and to prevent abortions would be all over this *obvious* and *effective* way to do both at the same time. But not so much. Here's their FAQ page on contraception:

Feminists for Life's mission is to address the unmet needs of women who are pregnant or parenting. Preconception issues including abstinence and contraception are outside of our mission. Some FFL members and supporters support the use of non-abortifacient contraception while others oppose contraception for a variety of reasons. FFL is concerned that certain forms of contraception have had adverse health effects on women.

Our membership enjoys a broad spectrum of opinion that reflects the diversity of opinions among the American public.

In the time of the early American feminists, sex between married couples was not always consensual. Many women bore 20 or more children, of whom only half survived. In order to affirm women’s rights within marriage, most feminist foremothers promoted “voluntary motherhood,” whereby women would have the education and right to fully participate in the decision to have sexual relations. FFL likewise supports life planning by focusing on one's education and career plans coupled with mentoring and empowering programs for teens.

God, that's tricky, right? The reason it's so vague and side-stepping is because they aren't very well going to f-ing tell us anything. But let's, you know, try to decipher this.

First point: This is a group whose mission is to prevent abortion, and they're seriously saying that contraception and abstinence stances are outside of their focus??!! This should raise, oh, a few red flags. The purpose clearly isn't to help women NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE by never having an unwanted pregnancy in the first place, but to convince women that the only right choice is to carry the unwanted pregnancy.

Second point. They don't mention any specific "non abortifacient contraception" methods. Maybe because they aren't so sure what this means. According to the medical definition, this is a straight-up oxymoron. You can't contracept (prevent pregnancy) and abort (end pregnancy) at the same time. The only way you can even imagine this, is if you change the definition of pregnancy, which anti-choice activists have attempted to do (totally ignoring that the sperm-meets-egg moment, even under ideal conditions, still has only a 50% chance of implantation under the best of circumstances). Anyways. You would think that they could at least commit to condoms, right? This should raise more red flags. They're clearly pandering to a base that buys into the idea that a "contraception mentality" is bad.

Third point: So what's going on with this disclaimer that they're concerned about "adverse health effects" of contraception on women? This is pure baloney. What types of contraception exactly are they claiming has adverse effects? They don't say because they don't know. Contraception is far, far safer than either having an abortion or giving birth. There's also the side benefits (like the pill & clearing up acne). So unless we're never going to have sex (highly unlikely), we're probably going to opt to use contraception.

Fourth point: They do, however, seem to take some stance on what happens pre-pregnancy. But this is further shrouded in ambiguity. The rhetoric here is incredible. I've bolded it for your viewing pleasure. So first they take a look back at pre-modern contraception methods of advocating that women be able to choose whether or not to engage in sexual relations. This is a "duh" moment. Then they say "FFL likewise supports..." We might well be confused. So do they only really advocate abstinence from sexual relations? Are we never to have sexual relations unless we're trying to get pregnant? Should we therefore have sex around, oh, twice in our lifetimes?

The part that should be scary, is that they don't say otherwise.

Also scary, is the fact that you can't get to many straight answers on their website. And sometimes when you do, you wish you hadn't. Example is their "medical expert" on abortion. They try to paint it as a dangerous, scary procedure, with their "right to know" page detailing anything that could possibly go wrong. They oh so conveniently overlook the fact that an abortion is SAFER than giving birth. And that contraception is safer than either. And what really pisses me off is the blatant lies:

Finally, some of you may be aware that recently there have been reports that link breast cancer with abortion. Since abortion has been legal for over 20 years, and sometimes it takes 20 to 30 years for a cancer to develop, this link is just starting to surface. More research is needed, especially since so many women have abortions every year coupled with the fact that so many women also die from breast cancer.

More baloney. The medical establishment is more than clear on this, and these sorts of lies have actually gotten many abstinence-only sex ed. groups in trouble. Because it's a lie carefully crafted to play on women's fears of breast cancer, and because it ignores all the (better and more up-to-date) studies that show no link whatsoever between abortion and breast cancer. Actually, let's do what any intelligent-person-with-a-conscience-posting info.-on-health-concerns would do before dissemeninating said info. Let's look at what the National Cancer Institute has to say about it:

The relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research beginning in the late 1950s. Until the mid-1990s, the evidence was inconsistent. Findings from some studies suggested there was no increase in risk of breast cancer among women who had had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggested there was an increased risk. Most of these studies, however, were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results. Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women’s histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their “self-report” rather than on their medical records. Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted. These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.

Well, lookey here! Should we trust the National Cancer Institute, or the one "expert" over at "Feminists" for Life?

This has been brought to you as another demonstration on "The Rhetoric of Fear."

Fights over feminist roots

I've been interested in how groups like "Feminists" for Life have coopted the early figures of the American suffrage movement. It's always struck me as strange: these were progressive women, bucking conservative dogma, and proposing radical changes. Compare them to groups like "Feminists" for Life, which try to take away rights that women have fought for (namely, safe and legal abortions and many types of contraception). To me, it's never made much sense. So you can imagine my excitement over this NY Times piece, by a Pulitizer Prize winning historian, Stacy Schiff (it's aptly titled "Desperately Seeking Susan"). I'm excerpting my favorite parts:

There is no question that she deplored the practice of abortion, as did every one of her colleagues in the suffrage movement. Feminists for Life cites an 1869 article in her newspaper denouncing “child murder,” labeling abortion “a most monstrous crime,” and advocating its end. “No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed,” blares the article. “It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death.”

What is generally not mentioned is that the essay argues against an anti-abortion law; its author did not believe legislation would resolve the issue of unwanted pregnancy. Also not mentioned is the vaporous textual trail. According to the editors of Anthony’s papers, the article is not hers.

In her personal life Anthony was clear in her conviction that women were not preordained to motherhood, that sometimes a woman and her womb might go their separate ways. A devoted aunt, she claimed to appreciate her colleagues’ offspring, some of whom even felt warmly toward her. But she had little patience for maternity. At best she was the ever-helpful friend who asks if you realize what you are in for just as you have vomited your way through your first trimester. At worst she was a ruthless scold...

Above all, the drillmaster of the suffrage movement had no patience when it came to dogma. She won few points for her free thinking but forged ahead all the same: “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” She cast her vote always for tolerance, acting from a simple conviction: “For a people is only as great, as free, as lofty, as advanced as its women are free, noble and progressive.”

The bottom line is that we cannot possibly know what Anthony would make of today’s debate. Unwanted pregnancy was for her bundled up with a different set of issues, of which only one truly mattered: rescuing women from “the Dead Sea of disfranchisement.” In the 19th century, abortion often was life-threatening, contraception primitive, and a woman as little in control of her reproductive life as of her political one. The terms do not translate, one reason time travel is a risky proposition. No amount of parsing the founding fathers will reveal what they think of the war in Iraq, just as no modern chorus of mea culpas will explain away their slave-holding. To suggest otherwise is to wind up with history worthy of those classic commercial duos, Fred Astaire and his Dirt Devil, Paula Abdul and Groucho Marx.

For what it’s worth, Anthony has ceded her place on the dollar to another steely and resourceful woman, the face of manifest destiny, who — coincidentally? — appears always with a child strapped to her back, the original rendition of backwards-and-in-heels. Sacagawea may have been a crackerjack scout, but she left no paper trail. Who knows what she thought about white men or westward expansion? She’s up for grabs, an icon without a cause. Feminists for Life may want to hurry, before the logging industry gets there first.

I love the effort to contextualize Anthony's views, especially as I agree that we can't so easily map our own terms onto these figures. I mean, OF COURSE they didn't advocate abortion: at the time it was unsafe, and it would have won them no political allies. When you're fighting for the vote, you can't very well get five steps ahead of yourself.

Next post will be on FFL.

5 day weekends

So I haven't updated in over a week. And I did do some interesting things lately:

- Namely, went into SF w/ the cohort to see a play, Travesties. I loved it. I had no idea how they would stage it, especially since one needs quite a bit of background to understand what the hell is going on. You've got Lenin, Joyce, and Tzara bouncing around during WW1, filtered through the (failing) memory of Henry Carr, organized around the structure of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. And if you don't have that play in the back of your mind, I imagine it makes very little to no sense. Anyways, the perfect play for 2nd years to see post-quals. So the production did some kitschy things to signal when Carr's memory is on replay, and the set was awesome. Moving picture frames, a library cart rolling around the stage, etc.

- Desperate Housewives nights.

- Trips to the eye vision center. Amazingly, my eyes didn't deteriorate over the summer. Now my right eye has finally caught up with the left, so I won't have to worry about keeping different prescriptions straight.

- Bar night after sexual harassment training (that is, training as to what to do about responding to concerns, not HOW to harass).

- Putting together my comp & rhetoric course for winter and spring quarters. My theme is "The Rhetoric of Fear."

- Ebaying. I decided to buy a vase. It's French shabby chic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Jersey Girls respond to Woodward's book

I found this story interesting after some recent accusations Bush has made, about Democrats being a party that "waits" for an attack without doing anything. This seems to be yet another example of the Republican administration transferring criticism they deserve to a group that doesn't deserve it (ie, some have tried to blame the pages for Foley's indiscretions, or pretended they didn't want to be seen as "hating gays" for calling Foley out. Come on, this is the party trying to ban gay marriage by inciting hatred, and suddenly they're afraid of being seen as homophobes?)

Anyways. Clinton has made it clear that he was after bin Laden, and passed on plans/suggestions that were clearly not followed by the Bush administration. We know that the administration had multiple warnings in the months and weeks leading up to the attacks. And we know that Ashcroft conveniently was told not to fly in commercial airliners. Too bad the administration didn't see fit to question whether the rest of the American public was safe.

Here's from the Jersey Girls:

Statement Regarding al Qaeda Threats
October 5, 2006

Astonishingly, five years post 9/11 the public is made aware about an urgent July 10, 2001 meeting that took place between former CIA Director George Tenet and then, National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice. This information comes from Bob Woodward's newly released book, "State of Denial".

Despite this Administration's rhetoric that they had "no warnings" leading up to 9/11, it has become abundantly clear, that key Administration officials were made aware of the vast array of Al Qaeda threats and warnings that existed in years prior, and more importantly, in the weeks leading up to September 11, 2001.

When we add the July 10, 2001 meeting to the plethora of other clear warnings that our government had, a very concise view of the al Qaeda threat emerges. Those other warnings include, but are not limited to:

* Warnings from leaders of other nations and foreign intelligence apparatus' of terrorist threats

* June 30, 2001 Senior Executive Intelligence Briefing (SEIB) entitled "bin Laden Threats Are Real"

* The threat of President Bush's assassination at the G-8 Summit by al Qaeda in July of 2001 – using aircraft to dive bomb the summit building

* July 2001 Phoenix memo, which told of potential terrorists taking flight lessons

* 52 FAA warnings – five of which mentioned al Qaeda's training for hijacking

* August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief entitled "bin Laden Determined to Strike in US"

* National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)entitled "Islamist Extremists Learn to Fly"

* Intelligence agency heads describing themselves with their "hair on fire" to characterize the imminent nature of the threats they were intercepting from Al Qaeda and their sense of urgency in relating them to the Bush Administration

* The arrest of Zacharias Moussaoui in August of 2001

* FBI Agent Harry Samit's 70 unsuccessful attempts to get a FISA Warrant to examine Moussaoui's belongings

So in conclusion: the party that waits for an attack? That'd be Bush's Republican administration.

(Oh, not to mention this new scheme for a wall on the Mexican border. Um, are we seriously worried about terrorists coming from Mexico? Seems like an expensive project with little potential payoff for preventing terrorist attacks. What about securing freight? What about securing our chemical plants? Oh yeah, Bush is waiting for an attack before he does anything about those.)

"My job is to do my job"

Jon Stewart makes everything better.

In this clip from Crooks & Liars, Stewart covers the 20 million in taxpayer dollars allotted for a celebration of "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan (more like fiasco), Bush's Biblically laden comparison of the botched job in Iraq to a "comma" in the history books, his dismal job approval rating (36%), and a delightful montage of Bush sounding, well, like Bush (i.e., dumb as a rock. Except that a rock would be a whole helluva lot less dangerous to the world).

Friday, October 06, 2006

Movie Trailer

American Blackout Trailer

This looks amazing.

"Lies...atop lies"

Keith Olbermann is incredible. Video & text from Crooks & Liars.

Why has the ferocity of your venom against the Democrats, now exceeded the ferocity of your venom against the terrorists?

Why have you chosen to go down in history as the President who made things up?

In less than one month you have gone from a flawed call to unity, to this clarion call to hatred of Americans, by Americans.

If this is not simply the most shameless example of the rhetoric of political hackery, then it would have to be the cry of a leader crumbling under the weight of his own lies.

And thank God that some people are still reporting on the Bush administration's decision that "eh, we can do without the 800+ year belief in the value of habeas corpus." Somehow, "Predatorgate" has overshadowed the further dismantling of the Constitution.