Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Good Bloggers Gone Bad... Gone Good!

You think you've found someone who understands your views. You find their blog witty and funny and put them on your blogroll. But then they go and fuck it up by posting something you find incredibly offensive. To whit, a picture of a nearly naked woman passed out amidst the empty beer bottles used to illustrate some totally unrelated point about the threat of terrorists using beer coolers. Especially given recent events in California (mistrial declared in a case of a 16 yr old girl being gangraped while unconscious). I'd leave a comment if there was a comment sections, but alas.... there are none. I don't want to come off like a humorless hairy-legged feminist harpy and demand he take it down (like I would if it were a commercial website). It's a blog. He's entitled to express his views in whatever sexist, degrading, juvenile manner he likes. But I don't have to like it and I can say so. Just like when PETA used naked women to advance their political agenda; and the anti-genetic engineering folks used a naked woman to advance theirs. Prostituting women's bodies in the name of a good cause is still prostitution.

UPDATE: My faith is restored! The HD Skeptic has removed the offending photo from his site. Please reverse any hairy-legged hexes you may have prepared and send gynoblessings his way instead. Thank you, the Mgmt.

Buy a diamond, support terrorism

Hezbollah Profiting From African Diamonds Hezbollah, in turn funds other militant Islamic groups like Al-Queda. Snips:

KOIDU, Sierra Leone - Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrilla movement is siphoning profits from West Africa's diamond trade, in part by threatening Lebanese diamond merchants, U.S. diplomats charge.

The allegations, supported by independent analysts, describe more pervasive, organized and coercive Hezbollah profiteering from West Africa's diamond trade than most U.S. officials have previously acknowledged.

"One thing that's incontrovertible is the financing of Hezbollah. It's not even an open secret; there is no secret," said Larry Andre, deputy chief of mission for the U.S. Embassy in diamond-rich Sierra Leone.

Many in the State Department and officials at U.S. embassies in West Africa have long played down any West Africa conduits to Hezbollah, saying any contributions to Hezbollah appeared to be voluntary donations by individuals.

Alex Yearsley, of London-based Global Witness, alleges that the CIA (news - web sites) and FBI long had tried to publicly minimize links between conflict diamonds and Islamic militant groups, including al-Qaida.

The U.S. security agents feared exposure of their own longtime links with Charles Taylor, the ousted Liberian leader who played a main role in West Africa's insurgencies and blood diamond trade, Yearsley said. Taylor received CIA payments until January 2001, Yearsley claimed in a telephone interview.

Here's a thought. In other wars, folks on the homefront have traditionally made personal sacrifices to support the war. Many people disappointed with how Bush is fighting the War on Terror (i.e. shanghai-ing our troops and resources to conquer Iraq) feel helpless, and victimized and would like very much to get personally involved in some way. So why not start with a boycott of diamonds? Hit 'em in the pocketbook, right where it counts! Now granted, many diamonds that hit our market are supposedly certified as "conflict free" and bloodless, but the truth is, overall consumer demand for diamonds (regardless of origin) bolsters the market value of conflict diamonds right along with the "safe" ones. So do your part! Quit buying diamonds!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

So this is "Victory" in Afghanistan?

They're supposed to have their first democratic elections this fall. Here's what's happening to folks who are trying to register to vote:
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Taliban fighters killed up to 16 men after learning they had registered for Afghanistan U.S.-backed national elections, the deadliest attack yet in a campaign aimed at sabotaging the nation's first free vote, officials said Sunday.
This is a day after the Taliban (who Bush claims we've "defeated") bombed a bus full of female election workers and children outside Jalalabad trying to register women to vote. Two were killed.

Per Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11, we've only got 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, compared to 140,000 in Iraq. That's less than the entire police force of New York City and they're supposed to be making an entire country just slightly smaller than the state of Texas, and which is still full of Taliban, Al Queda (and Bin Laden oh by the way... who is supposed to be Enemy #1) and other fundamentalist militia, safe for democracy.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Fuck you, Mr. Schwarzenegger.....

Schwarzenegger backs speedier killing of strays
Friday, June 25, 2004 Posted: 11:34 AM EDT (1534 GMT)

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to repeal a state law that requires animal shelters to hold stray dogs and cats for up to six days before killing them.

Instead, there would be a three-day requirement for strays. Other animals, including birds, hamsters, potbellied pigs, rabbits, snakes and turtles, could be killed immediately.

One more reason I'm glad I'm not a Californian.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The living room tableau was back last night so this morning I grabbed the camera on the way to work. "Emergency Broadcast System" was scrawled on the TV screen in grease pencil. The book on the sidetable is Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Posted by Hello

The screen is covered in deep thoughts like this. I think the whole piece is called "The Unexamined Life".  Posted by Hello

The power of Pets

Friendly Dog Prevents Killing Spree. Snip: TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian man, driving a car packed with weapons and ammunition, was intent on killing as many people as possible in a Toronto neighbourhood but gave up the plan at the last minute when he encountered a friendly dog, police say...He had set himself up in an east-end park to load his weapons and then planned to drive around shooting. He later told police that a dog then approached and started playing with him.

The encounter melted the man's heart, and he then went in search of police to give himself up, police said. "He happens to be a pet lover, and decided that since there was such a nice dog in the area, that people were too nice and he wasn't going to carry out his plan," Detective Nick Ashley told reporters.

**sniff** Take that you heartless animal haters!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Got Milk?

Curt & I were discussing possible reality with baby the other day and got on the subject of breastfeeding. I mentioned that I plan to breastfeed but for some reason it still seems kind of odd to me, even though in my mind I know it's the most natural thing in the world. I guess the thought of life actually sustaining itself via "the girls" is kind of weird. Maybe because I wasn't breastfed as a child? Curt wasn't either. I then recalled my friend E. telling me how her 6 mo. old son took to it right away, and still will only accept a bottle if he's totally starving, whereas her daughter K. (now almost 3) basically weaned herself by 6 mos and didn't take to it well at all right away. I speculated that perhaps boys just have a boob fetish from day one and never get over it?? Anyway, as we were discussing the various specific health benefits of breastmilk Curt wondered if anybody had ever studied what would happen if an adult partook of it on a regular basis.

At first I thought "What a nightmare! That's all we need.. one more way for women to sell their bodies. I can see it now, breastmilk bars replacing oxygen bars as the new kooky trend. At best you'd have women making anonymous donations by breastpump... but at worst? I don't even want to think about *that*! The whole time I'm thinking, no worries - there are no self-respecting scientist who would even venture down that path.

But it appears I'm wrong. Swedish doctors have developed "A cream made from human breast milk and nicknamed Hamlet that can dramatically reduce, and often eliminate, stubborn common warts." So now I have visions of that controversial anti-genetic engineering billboard from last year becoming reality. Ugh. You know, say I'm a cynic but I can see where this is going. Before the resurgence of breastfeeding in the middle and upper classes in the last 25 years or so, and before baby Formula was widespread... wetnursing was a time honored profession. Poor, rural, and especially ethnic mothers would farm their mammaries out to desperate mothers, childrens' hospitals and orphanages. Your garment industry has their sweatshops.... how soon do you think it will be before pharmaceutical companies set up milkshops in the 3rd world?

Random Thoughts

I’ve been kicking myself lately for going the cheapo route when we got new cellphones and not forking out a little extra dough to get the one that came with the digital camera function. If I’d had one, here are some of the picts I would have taken the last two days for your blogviewing pleasure:

1) A strange little livingroom tableau some intrepid artist/prankster set up on a scrap piece of plywood in some greenspace next to Hwy 99E in Milwaukie overlooking the river this weekend. There was the requisite nasty 70’s era recliner (orange flowers and all); cheesy clunky lamp with oversized cylindrical shade; old TV of the rabbit-eared, knob-turning variety on a cheap faux-wood TV stand and assorted other clutter I didn’t get a clear look at as I drove past on my way to work. By this morning, it was gone.

2) Timeless raindrops literally captured by small spider webs in the ivy along the river trail at lunch today that made the green hillside look like Martha Stewart faeries had come along and nestled crystal bowls in the greenery. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all to see floating candles, too.

3) Goslings on the patio at the swanky office down the river trail where I ate my lunch today. There’ve been two Canadian Geese couples in the river below my office raising their youngins this spring – they’ve got about 18 babes between them. They’ve reached the awkward adolescent phase where they’re molting and their adult coloration & markings are beginning to show through the cute fuzzy yellow and black down. They’re about ¾ the size of Mom & Dad, on average with the exception of one adorable little runt who is still about half the size of his siblings. I sat out on the wrought iron table overlooking the green willows and sweep of the river, eating my sandwich. They were all busy stripping the grass and other landscaping of assorted grubs and slugs. It was kind of amazing.

Geese can be so damned aggressive & protective with their young. I was surprised the parents brought them right here in the midst of humans. But when a man walked over eating a bag of chips and the goslings all rushed him at the sound of the crinkling, I realized they were on a mission to mooch, and Mom & Dad were showing them how. I tried for quite awhile to resist the urge to feed but then another woman started and yes, I’m a little ashamed to admit… I gave in to the corruptive influence and started targeting my little runt with gently tossed handouts of crust and lettuce. It was quite a challenge, too – his brothers & sisters were determined to cut him out but my little buddy was quick! Then Mom & Dad (very BIG and kind of scary) decided to horn in on the action, and after seeing how one overeager gosling had pecked my fellow philanthropist when she didn’t produce fast enough, I made a break for it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Gmail swap for RAWA drive continues!

I was graciously granted 6 more Gmail invites from the GoogleGods and have successfully swapped 2 of them so far for more donations to RAWA. This makes a grandtotal of $155 to date! Woohoo!! If anyone else is interested let me know.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Lollygagging can be hazardous to your health...

I relaxed so much this weekend I think I pulled a muscle! Laugh if you want but lollygagging requires a great deal of effort. In my case it required careful camoflouging of myself in the hammock under the pear tree, enjoying the balmy weather and light breeze, laying perfectly motionless in the hopes of enticing a chickadee to not notice me and partake of the elegant feast I'd laid out in the bird feeder, 3 feet away. It worked. Twice!! Then I think I pulled a muscle in my lower back tring to twist myself around in order to position my hands in prime belly-rubbing position for my calico kitty, who was busy napping in the grass beneath me.


I've been fighting viruses/ adware crap all day and apparently some of my innoculative efforts have also crashed my blogger uplink ability.... so this is a test

Friday, June 18, 2004

Head Scratcher of the Day

First Russian president Putin gave hope to the Bush administration today by revealing that even if the U.S. can't find credible evidence of Saddam's terrorist proclivities, they certainly had it (and passed it along). But they still don't think whatever information they gave us warranted the invasion. But now the State Dept. is saying, "you did? Funny we don't remember that..." So....if such information sharing occurred, it apparently went through non-state department channels. Curiouser and Curiouser. I mean, if this were a Tom Clancy novel the Russkies would have tipped off Jack Ryan directly but I'm at a loss as to how that situation translates into the current administration and intelligence beaurocracy. Did Bush, or Rummy or Condie get a personal phone call from the Kremlin??? If so, then why don't they just freaking *say* so??? Did they directly/indirectly "leak" information to a known CIA operative? OK then - they can blame Tenet once again. Better throw in some popcorn 'cuz I'm dying to see how this one ends....

Dueling Lie Detectors At Dawn

Here's an interesting conundrum. Joe Scarborough of the Scarborough Report picks up an accusation by Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard editor that's currently under heavy circulation in right wing media that Michael Moore totally fabricated an alleged 1988 interview he then went on to publish in his 2002 book "Stupid White Men". Right wing pundits across the board are using this to discredit Moore's upcoming Fahrenheit 9/11 movie. Michael, of course isn't backing down and posted his rebuttal where he wonders why Barnes is only *now* crying fowl when the ultra-conservative Washington Times (of Rev. Moon fame) also published his interview back in 1988. Even if Barnes himself didn't happen to pick up the Times that day, you'd think someone in the right wing journalistic circle would have seen it and informed him of it (if not someone from the Times, itself). I mean, Barnes' own Weekly Standard lists the Washington Times in their weblinks which implies that Barnes finds them a credible news organization.

I can see where less politically-minded folks would get very frustrated with all this "Liar! Liar! back and forth fingerpointing by the right and the left. I'm starting to get more than a little sick of it myself. But here's the difference I've seen lately in the wild accusation department. The left wing, like Moore (and Franken who I've been listening to a great deal) will actually back up their accusations of Liar! by going straight back to the source. They'll let the audio tape or publication speak for itself, and proves how the right wing takes that same information and takes it totally out of context (or pulled it out of thin air). The right wing, on the other hand will quote "so and so said they heard/read it on so and so... and that person surely wouldn't have run with it if they didn't think it was true". You can see exactly how this happens in Alexandra Polier's own account of how the right wing "journalists" (and yes, I use that term very, very lightly) took totally unsubstantiated rumors about her and spun it into a "known" affair with Kerry.

In this case, it doesn't look like there are any first hand sources to corroborate either of their positions. Unfortunately Moore, apparently didn't tape the interview or he'd have made the tapes available, I'm sure. Barnes, however can't be as certain the interview did *not* take place as he's leading his readers to believe or he'd have slapped Moore with a libel suit in a heartbeat. Isn't that's what you or I would do if somebody had totally made up something that we'd never said and made *us* look bad, then tried to make money off of that lie?? If you're wanting to discredit someone there's no better way than to sue their ass, right?

So that leaves us with one option as I see it. Dueling lie detector tests at dawn. You could have Rush and Franken as seconds. My bet's on Mike, though.... any takers?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I love you, you love me..we're a happy family

So we went to our first couple’s counseling session yesterday. Instead of a couch, he had two really cushy recliners. I liked Barny, our counselor though he seemed more intimidated by us at first than we him. Maybe because when I went to put my feet up in the recliner my left shoe flew off and landed in his lap. No, he wasn’t purple though after he regained his professional composure he did say “I can tell there’s a truly deep love between you two which was a "joy" for him to see. He seemed to have forgiven my militant Cinderella episode.

We gave him more than enough material to get an idea of our communication style. In fact, he had a hard time getting either of us to shut the fuck up, or as he put it in shrinkspeak: "I can tell you're both very hungry to be heard". We were a little disappointed he didn't start handing down the "you're right... he/she's wrong" directives on our miscellaneous issues right away. Apparently we'll get a chance to delve into the nitty gritty issues after we've learned some different communication techniques so we can do so in a constructive manner.

And while he did ask us about substance abuse, it was perfectly in context and not annoying in the slightest. After Curt's next job gets solidified we'll schedule another session.

Asministrative Note: I finally figured out how to re-instate Haloscan comments with the new template and have disabled Blogger's comments accordingly. Some people were rather annoyed at having to "sign up" for an account to use it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

We're sorry.....

Now here's an interesting tidbit: Pope John Paul apologizes for Inquisition, witch hunts, Crusades and other assorted atrocities committed in the name of the church. Though apparently I'm woefully behind the times - it looks like he originally did this back in 2000 as part of Millenium celebrations but it's taken scholars until now to fully research the depths of the Church's transgressions (for which the apology was made) and they've written a book detailing their findings. Apparently, the Inquisition "wasn't quite as bad as has been believed" when it comes to final death toll. Wherever Galileo is currently residing in space and time, I'm sure he will be so "comforted" to know that! (in the finest Shrubian sense of the word).

Atlantis Revisited

How have I missed this? A scientist says he may have found remains of the lost city of Atlantis in southern Spain. Now there's a theory I hadn't heard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Some Good News

It's not all gloom and doom on the horizon of global women's rights. Women's ENews reports this week that Saudi Arabia convened its third National Dialogue on Reform yesterday, focusing specifically on the future role and rights of women in the kingdom. They claim this is one sign of many showing the rather remarkable progress women have made in the 6 Gulf states in the last few years.

Back here on the home front, I was happy to see the AMA step up and support over the counter sales of the Morning After Pill. A rational person would think something that *prevents* abortions would be considered a good thing by the anti-choice zealots, but they'd be wrong - because it has nothing to do with rationality and everything to do with religious belief. I'd go into a rant but I'm trying very hard to focus on the positive for a few days at least.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Bear in Tennis Shoes

We had a lovely weekend. I finally put my feet in front of my mouth and did some canvassing for MoveOn on Saturday. I've never done anything like that before. For an introvert such as myself it was more than a little scary. Which was one reason I did it. Gotta face those fears & all...

There was one annoying young guy on the orientation team who reminded me, in a nutshell of everything I hated about summer camp (wherein lie the root of my irrational disdain for being any kind of a 'joiner', I swear). The sickeningly sweet & insincere attempts to build "excitement" by the fresh faced counselors in neon T-shirts; ridiculous role playing skits and lack of chairs in the meeting hall all took me back to my days at Silver Creek Falls where I had no friends and they made me sit around the campfire right next to an anthill and sing stupid songs.

But aside from that, it wasn't as annoying as I'd thought it might be. The canvassing was actually run by the League of Conservation Voters. MoveOn just provided more feet to pound the pavement. We were deployed to key swing precincts that have gone either way in the past to a) identify how voters in those precincts are leaning right now; b) find out what their top 2 issues are; and c) recruit more volunteers for Kerry. Then in the coming months, they'll go back and target undecided voters in these precincts with more direct mailings, phone calls and personal visits.

My 'buddy' was a 50+ yr old housewife from one of the more upscale bedroom communities. The last time she'd ever done anything like this was 25 some years ago in Texas when she'd manned the phone banks for Bush Sr. in his campaign against Reagan. "I was so uninformed back then...." she said. But like so many of the other regular folks I met that day (on both sides of the doorbell); she was just so pissed that she had to do something. I got 3 potential volunteers signed up and made good inroads on a couple of undecideds, I think.

By the end of the day my feet were killing me and I had mild sunstroke, I think but it was worth it. I was so wiped at the end I just dropped off my teammates and results at the meeting hall and didn't stick around for the chorus of "Cumbaya" (or whatever the post-event wrap up entailed). One thing I learned, though. There's a definite correlation between level of political enthusiasm and comfort of toes. As the latter declined throughout the day I saw a definite drop in the former. Next time around I think I might be much more effective on the phones.

But if I do agree to hit the pavement again I'll be taking my cue from that old bear in the campfire singalong who wore tennis shoes. Smart bear.

Sunday we let Grumblema take us to Chinese food for lunch. She could just fit us in before the big NBA game. We took her a jar of the yummy cherry jam Curt made while I was out agitating. If she keeps up with her "go-go-joy-joy" pill regimen (as she calls her Zoloft) we might have to come up with a new nickname for her. It is amazing what a difference it's made. The negativity factor drops by about 70%.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that California atheist Michael Newdow lacked the right to bring a constitutional challenge to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance on behalf of his daughter, since her mother has legal custody during the week when she's in school and the pledge is recited (and her Mom, a born-again Christian supports her saying the pledge).

So a new guinea pig is needed. One who has a more ironclad case.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Thursday, June 10, 2004

It’s a modern Ethiopian love story

Boy & friends hack down front door with machete, abduct the 13 year old object of his obsession, named Woineshet - rape & beat her for two days. Police show up, girl escapes covered in blood, badly bruised. Attacker is arrested. Girl must wait 2 days for bus to clinic. Nurse wonders why the wounds are “old” and notes "She is no longer a virgin. Not sure of date of penetration, could be recently. Many bruises and scratches around vagina."

Woineshet's family comes from the Oromo tribe, Ethiopia's largest ethnic group “In the green hills of southern Ethiopia, the tribe's men hold a firm upper hand in society and women are often treated as servants. Marriage by abduction, a common practice, occurs when a man and his friends kidnap a woman or girl he has been watching, rapes her and then pressures her to sign a marriage contract…Ethiopian law absolves abductors of their crime if they marry their victims.”

Story continues: Girl goes home, judge who thinks "I don't think she was abducted or raped. The health report did not specify that she was a fresh virgin. No one wants to rape anyone who is not a virgin. Maybe they were just in love. This case has no evidence” despite many witnesses, lets her attacker go on bail. Even her state-appointed lawyer says "I think Woineshet was like, 'Please rape me.' Maybe he couldn't afford the dowry and they wanted to be together without a formal marriage," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "Culturally, no one rapes a non-virgin.”
Days later, Boy abducts girl again. This time raping and beating her for 15 days at brother’s house. She escaped again running bruised and bloody through the village and farms. Family of her attacker track her down and beat her until she signs a marriage contract. This time, kindly police officer takes her in to protect her. So she ends up in a jail cell at her own request. Case goes to trial. Attacker is somehow found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in jail, despite the bias of the judge (same as above) , who asked Woineshet, “He wants to marry you. Why are you refusing?” and remarked to the courtroom that “After 13 years, after 15 years, the lady she can be happy. She can be okay.” One month later, same judge just lets attacker out of jail, saying there were not enough witnesses and that Woineshet was most likely in love with Negussie and ready for marriage. "This family is only out for revenge," Ukie said in an interview. "Maybe they don't want her to marry him. So they accuse him of rape." Later, when he was asked about a health report showing severe abuse during the second abduction, Ukie said: "Look, a marriage contract had been signed, and I think we should find it. If she wanted to marry him, then if there was a rape that makes it legally okay."

How does this logic make any sense? If she had *wanted* to marry him, if she'd loved him, he wouldn't have had to abduct, beat and RAPE her.

Moral of the story: Kidnapping, Rape and Assault of women are all hunky dory so long as the woman is enslaved by a marriage contract after the fact. Oh, and non-virgins cannot be raped.

I used to be somewhat of a cultural relativist. I respected the culture & traditions of other cultures, and felt it would be arrogant beyond measure to impose my imperialist morals on other people. But when a culture internalizes violence against women and rejects respect for basic human rights to this extent I'm sorry, but I just can't respect it and let it go. It's not marriage, it's trafficking in sex slaves, pure & simple and really needs to be recognized by the international community on that basis. They'll boycott South Africa for denying huge segments of their population basic human rights based on race, but we do NOTHING to pressure countries that deny HALF their population basic human rights based on GENDER.

In fact, Shrub would deny these women any aid at all on the pathetic grounds that the people providing that aid might, just might talk about or god-forbid actually PROVIDE birth control or abortion. These girls are being raped with the tacit approval of their own communities and forced into abusive marriages, forced to LIVE WITH THEIR ATTACKER, be his servant, bear his children for the rest of their lives. But they call this brutal custom 'marriage' so Bush feels it's his God-given responsibility to PROTECT this institution.


And to most Americans, unbelievable. This kind of institutionalized violence, like the Rwandan genocide and Nick Berg murder is so totally alien to us that when we hear these stories, we think it MUST be an aberration. They look like normal people on TV - how could they not only allow, but tacitly encourage this kind of brutality?? So we shut it out - ignore it and go about our vanilla, safe little suburban lives where in the rare event a child is abducted by a raping stalker, there's an Amber Alert issued and the entire community moves heaven and earth to find them before it's "too late". Failing that, we move heaven and earth to track down the son of Satan that did it and make 'em fry for it. It's simply beyond mainstream America's comprehension that in other parts of the world, the opposite is true.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Fly, Monkeys....Fly

Rivka has a great overview of the implications of the pro-torture Justice Dept. memo, but there’s one aspect I haven’t seen anybody really address yet. It appears there’s a totally different set of rules for the executive under Republican and Democratic presidents. Or maybe the difference is with executives serving during peace time and war time, I don’t know - but every time I compare the reaction Clinton got to what Bush is getting it blows me away. During Clinton’s tenure, the Supreme’s felt so strongly that the President is not above the law that they voted unanimously to allow Paula Jones’ trial to go forward while he was in office. And that was a civil suit. That ended up in his impeachment. (No, I’m not blaming the Supreme’s for Clinton’s idiotic lying under oath – I’m fully aware he did it to himself). So now Rummie & company in the Attorney General’s office are trying to say the President is *above* the law??? Were they in a drug-induced coma during the Clinton Presidency or something? Maybe that was Clinton’s mistake. Maybe if he’d declared war on Osama after the first World Trade Center attacks the Repubs wouldn’ve given him more leeway in the “executive privelege” department. Yeah right. And monkey's are currently initiating their pre-flight sequence in my colon !!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Looky-Loo Neighbors

Dear Neighbors:

I know this evening you saw Curt emerge from the HoneyPot at the construction site next door that you're building your house on, roll of personal TP in hand. No, he doesn't have some freaky portaletophilia. We are a one bathroom household and I was in the midst of a much-needed, highly anticipated bubblebath. We're pretty comfortable with one another's bodily functions but a girl's gotta draw the line somewhere. 'Nuf said.

Got your Tin Foil Hat??

Last week Pres. Bush pays a state visit to Italy ( & visits the Pope!). Today, Coalition special forces free the 3 Italian civilians held hostage in Iraq since April 12. Just in time for Bush to report "mission accomplished" when the Italian PM arrives at the G-8 summit where Bush has a chance to repair his abysmal foreign relations record before the elections.

I'm thrilled they were saved, but the timing of the operation - it is quite suspicious. But then, it seems like the Republicans have always had a knack for cashing in on hostage situations for political gain.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Trickle Down, Mr. Reagan - Trickle on Down

My sincere condolences to the Reagan family. Not just for the death, but for the what, 10 years of decline and agony of his not being able to recognize them? I wonder - did his daughter ever reconcile with her parents?

I see the obits on every station on TV and some of them are calling him one of the greatest presidents of all time - right up there with Washington and Lincoln. That's a huge stretch. But I'm trying to look at his tenure objectively, in a charitable fashion and I've been pouring over article after article summarizing his time in office in an attempt to try to see why he was so well-loved and popular. Here's what I've found.

He did help end the Cold War. I'll say Gorbachev had a hell of a lot more to do with that than Reagan did but to Reagan's credit, he wasn't so blinded by ideology that he couldn't ratchet down the "evil empire" rhetoric and give Gorby a chance to forge a genuine partnership to end the arms race. He didn't, for instance take advantage of the fall of the USSR to invade Cuba which a more gung-ho cowboy type of president might have. As offensive as his campaign rhetoric promising a conservative revolution was to the Left - in reality, he ended up not living up to that rhetoric. According to "Reagan's Liberal Legacy" (thanks to PinkDreamPoppies on Alas, A Blog) When push came to shove - he did prop up social security, expand the earned income tax credit, and appoint the first female supreme court justice. Despite all promises to the contrary, he ended up raising taxes after realizing his initial attempts to cut them were proving disastrous.

I've been doing quite a bit of soul searching and have realized that in the light of the current president, Reagan looks pretty damned good - and that's what's so scary. I came of age under Reagan. Loved to despise Reagan for his callous disregard for the plight of the working class/in poverty and those dying of AIDS; for his irrational confidence in the miraculous properties of the free market; for his high handed hamstringing of organized labor. As and rancher or farmer in the West will tell you - "trickle down" models only work so long as the folks upstream are prohibited by law from damming the water up completely or diverting it from its natural course. But mostly, I've hated Reagan for being the charismatic leader who started out a Democrat, then became the lightning rod that revitalized the Conservative movement. Without him, we wouldn't have had Bush Sr., wouldn't have had Newt & a Republican-controlled congress, which means we wouldn't have had Ken Starr, and wouldn't have the Shrub.

But you know what? I'd take him back in a heartbeat if it meant getting rid of Bush Jr. I'll take a President consulting astrologers over one who thinks he's the mouthpiece of God any day. I never questioned that Reagan understood that our constitutional right to freedom OF religion also means freedom FROM religion. I'll take a Republican President who turns mortal enemies into fast allies and not the other way around. One who admits their mistakes, learns from them, and is big enough to change their mind when the facts don't end up supporting their preconceptions.

But probably most importantly - I'd take one who, even though *I* didn't vote for him, was overwhelmingly voted for *twice* by a majority of Americans over one who, was NOT elected by the majority and with every subsequent word and deed screams "IMPOSTER!!!" to me. I didn't like Reagan, but I did respect the man. And I respected the fact that he WAS the President, was MY President by democratic process. I'll never have that confidence in the Shrub.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Reptilian Refugee Camp, Now Open for Business.

Echidne, I hate to say this but you need to keep a closer eye out for some of your children. We got up this morning to find shed snake skin where the cats had deposited it in the night. This is good, I thought. Much better than their other recent deposits of a couple of actual, live garter snakes they'd made in the last couple of weeks. The skin is a sign from the gods of renewal and rebirth. Good luck!!!

But then when I get home tonight, I find the Kittlin terrorizing another one of your kids in the backyard. I rescued your progeny and confined the Kittlin to quarters for 30 minutes to give you kidlet time to escape. But then, THEN I head to the front yard and Ozzie is loudly announcing his capture of a pint sized sister to the snakelet I'd just rescued. I facilitated her escape to the half wild flower/weed bed in the middle of the yard which I really don't mind turning into a reptilian refugee camp. I know they've all been rudely displaced from the lovely lot next door which used to be a wondrous paradise until those nasty construction people showed up with their back hoe and destroyed all the knee high grass and snug underground warrens, where your kidlets could easily elude the ferocious felines of the neighborhood. They're welcome to all the slugs they can eat. The robins might take offense at their slithering in and helping themselves to the worms, but they're greedy gluttons anyway and I'm sure there are plenty for everyone. I doubt they'll find many frogs or salamanders, though. For those they may want to head *down* the hillside towards the river instead where I hear the amphibious population is booming. If it gets too crowded in there just let me know and I'll organize a relocation to another empty lot in the neighborhood a couple of blocks away that has a nice creek running alongside it.

But please, whatever they do tell them to stay out of sight when my mother comes to visit. It's very unfortunate but she's quite specist and doesn't take kindly to reptiles, even those as adorable as your children. She has this tendency to climb on the back of whomever is closest whenever she spies one, shrieking like a car alarm. She's not that heavy, but I'd like to save her that indignity if I can.

So please, I offer as many fruit, nuts & berries or small rodents as you'd like to please intercede on my behalf. Your children need you!

Friday Night Trivia

Ever notice how the whole breakroom/dish dynamic in offices is always so weird and awkward? Case in point: There's always a cupboard of coffee mugs in the employee kitchen, but no discernible way to determine ownership of said coffee mugs. Are you just supposed to use yours? Or is it understood that there's a general office mug 'pool' that everyone is welcome to draw from. If the former, then why is it I haven't seen my personal mug back in the cupboard since the day after I started? It's very cute - one of those Starbucksy Tuscan-style ceramic latte mugs. Kind of a sage green with light leave & flower buds entwined all over it, and a red and yellow checkerboard rim. I see my co-worker using it all the time and don't know if I should say anything about it or not? Demand it's return?

In other news Curt & I are having one of our periodic not-quite-fight "disagreements" that is resulting in the dreaded "state of the relationship" address. We've gotten much better at this, I must say. We no longer rush to take the absolute worst possible interpretation of what the other is saying (resulting in all night sobfests) but we're still not giving one another the benefit of the doubt when it comes to selfless motive. We're pretty good at identifying problems in our relationship but fall miserably short in a) agreeing on what those problems are; and b) finding ways to fix them.

I think we need a couple's coach/referee but Curt's skeptical of counselors. My only experience with the mental health industry isn't that great either. A couple of years after my parent's divorce I went to my company sponsored employee counseling service to try to work through some issues I was having that negatively affected my relationships with them. As Richard Gere said "I was very ANGRY at my father". The entire first session was devoted to answering a huge list of required questions regarding my non-existent substance abuse habit. How many times do I have to say "I am a social drinker and a second hand smoker. I do not currently, and have never taken any kind of illegal drug"??? The second session was devoted to required follow up questions about the emotional triggers and people in my life who contributed to my non-existent substance abuse habit since the previous session. I got to talk about my Dad for about 5 minutes in the context of "I've never done drugs, but I did recently discover my father occasionally smoked joints in the basement. I always thought it just smelled moldy down there. Oh, and he says one of the reasons he left my mom was because he couldn't stand making love to a woman who smelled like an ashtray". Needless to say, I didn't go back for my final, 3rd free session.

But I think an experienced couples counselor could be helpful at this point. So long as they're not "faith based" or any of that bullshit. Though it might be amusing to see what someone like Dr. Laura would do with our relationship where just about every gender-based stereotype she assumes is totally flipped in our case. Curt's the stay-at-home spouse and the one who wants to "talk about us" all the time and I'm the one who blithely sails along bringing home the bacon thinking as long as we're having sex, everything *must* be OK. I'd like to see her confronted with all the happy, successful couples whose relationships don't conform to her rigidly narrow view of "ideal" gender roles.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Note to self: Validation through Tree Killing

Don't feed the trolls, don't feed the trolls... Damn. Sometimes it's hard to tell the trolls from the people worth wasting a breath on, though. So now I've wasted all fucking day responding to people who imagine "knife wielding feminists" around every corner bent on castration (really - the only huevos they're after are those in a Spanish omelet, folks - go visit and see.) Forget dead people. "I see feminists!" is the new horror phrase in blogdome.

I barely had time to finish my letter to Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer giving him props for his appearance on CSPAN yesterday during the House International Relations Committee meeting on the status of US policy in Afghanistan; and then launching into my favorite "why doesn't the administration support RAWA?" diatribe. But then, according to Matt Yglesias all of this activity doesn't "count" as any kind of interest in politics. Because you know - I don't waste my hard earned cash subscribing to worthless political periodicals. In hard copy, no less (true political junkies gotta kill those trees, you know).

One down, how many to go?

Tenet Resigns as Head of CIA

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Miss Modesty?

What's wrong with this piece? I'll give you three guesses. Give up? It's the statements by the editor at Seventeen:
"We like to call this new girl Miss Modesty," said Gigi Solif Schanen, fashion editor at Seventeen magazine. "It's such a different feeling but still very pretty and feminine and sexy. It's just a little more covered up....It's kind of like a sexy take on a librarian," she said. "I think people are tired of seeing so much skin and want to leave a little more to the imagination."

Maybe, just maybe she might be missing the point, oh... completely? Notice, if you will that the thought that perhaps a great many teen girls don't LIKE being turned into sex objects doesn't even cross her mind. Oh, no. The *obvious* conclusion is that these girls are just going for that "sexy librarian look". Yep - that's it alright!!. Their primary purpose is *still* to be the living embodiment of every hot blooded heterosexual male's sexual fantasy (phew!)- they're just changing *which* fantasy that is. Whore is out. "Hot for teacher" is in. See it here first, folks - fashion forecast for next year - plaid schoolgirl uniforms will be out, nurse and maid uniforms will be all the rage in the Junior Miss departments across America.

Why the fuck can't they just let little girls BE little girls???? Modest clothes and all?? Teen girls are naturally self-conscious about their bodies. Sure some are curious, too to see what kind of power they can wield with their newfound sexuality. But many aren't comfortable with the weird new reactions they get. Many don't like that new look in the eye they start getting from boys and men. That's what puberty is FOR - getting used to your new body. Why won't the media give them that time, and the clothes that make them comfortable in their new skins??? (Yes, that is a rhetorical question).

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Memorial Day Undercurrents

I’ve started about 3 different entries for today but as soon as I get about a paragraph in I lose all interest. I’m feeling particularly apathetic. I think it has something to do with all the war movies my step dad insisted on watching on Memorial Day. It’s just – when you’re actually in the MIDDLE of a war and people are *actually* bleeding and dying for some ridiculous reason (or no reason at all); it makes it really hard to stomach the Holloywoodified dramatizations of the same thing. In times of peace it’s just so easy to shrug all the violence off as so much make-believe; with all the realism of a video game.

(***may trigger***)

Looking back, maybe it started when the conversational subject somehow landed on the Nick Berg video. My stepdad hadn’t seen it but Curt had watched it, in full technicolor and stereo sound. This I did not know. My dear husband was smart enough not to tell me about it. I’d seen the stills and brief snips of the video (but no sound) but thought I knew, from reading other’s accounts what it entailed. A couple of local DJ’s had, in fact recently been fired because they played the audio of the tape on air, “gurgles & all”. For some reason I was under the impression that it had been a relatively quick, clean execution (not that that matters & all but for some reason it helped to think he didn’t suffer). Maybe it was the recent viewing of “Kill Bill vol. 1”. If petite women like Uma Thurman can decapitate an adversary with a single sword stroke then it should be an easy feat for a strong, burly terrorist. But as my stepdad grilled Curt for details my naivete was quickly shattered. No, it wasn’t a curved scimitar of razor-edged Syrian steel that was used (as I’d thought). But a dull knife, possibly serrated about a foot long. It wasn’t a quick stroke. They basically sawed his head off – ALIVE while he screamed with every stroke. That’s about as far as Curt got before he finally took my “that’s enough!!!) pleas seriously and cut short his narrative.

You may think I was trying to bury my head in the sand to spare myself the “unpleasantness” , but you’d be wrong. Sure, I’m one of those people who covers their eyes during the scary parts of horror movies. I have an overactive imagination as it is - I already imagine the worst so I don’t need it spelled out for me in kodachrome. But that wasn’t it. I caught a hint - just a hint of eagerness in my stepdad’s voice as he asked where he could find the video to watch himself and that did it. In that instant it suddenly clicked for me why the video was one of the top most googled items on the internet in the week following the murder. It wasn’t because so many folks are outraged - it’s a snuff film, pure and simple and people are getting a perverted voyeuristic thrill out of watching this horrendous atrocity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that wasn’t his intent at all – I think he was honestly wanting to see what all the fuss was about – to witness the “awful truth” himself, free of the censorship of the cable news networks. But in that moment it just felt so very, very wrong for us to sit there, safe & sound in the living room describing this man’s death in grisly detail.