March 31, 2005

Abortion prevention and Democrats

I found this post, about tolerance for abortion among Catholics, quite heartening. Until this, at least

The Prevention First Initiative coupled with a position on prohibiting late term abortions except when required by the health of the mother neutralizes GOP attack lines .... [my emphasis]

Bullshit. Better sex ed and easier access to contraception for teenagers? Great. Working harder to prevent rape? Fantastic. Acting as though anyone knows better than a pregnant woman whether to continue her pregnancy or not? Completely unacceptable.

The Democratic party needs to stay the hell away from any restrictions on abortion rights if they don't want to marginalize feminists.

March 30, 2005

Halo New

This is mostly a test post to prove to Dan that Blogger actually works, but as long as I'm typing I might as well tell y'all that Bungie is releasing a Halo 2 map pack for $20 in stores and $16 if you download it through Live. The bonus to buying the actual retail disc is that you get a physical copy of the maps as well as getting some bonus movies and stuff to make it a little more interesting.

March 29, 2005


Go sign

We have very disturbing news to report - some Democratic leaders are actively recruiting anti-abortion candidates and forcing out pro-choice Democrats!

Feminists and progressives must speak out to stop the Democratic Party from becoming "Republican-lite" on women's issues and undermining its own women candidates.

Barbara Hafer is a strong advocate for reproductive rights and was the frontrunner to take on extremist Republican incumbent Rick Santorum in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate. She has just been forced out of the race by Democratic leaders and consultants in favor of an anti-abortion candidate they recruited.

Who did top Democrats pick to run against Santorum, one of the leading anti-abortion, anti-women's rights and anti-gay senators?

Top Democrats recruited Robert P. Casey Jr., a staunch abortion opponent in the mold of his father, the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr. You may recognize his name from the 1992 Supreme Court case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, in which the senior Casey defended Pennsylvania's Abortion Control Act, which was so extreme that the Supreme Court struck it down.

Unless, of course, you don't care *glares*

March 27, 2005

Terri Schiavo Commentary

Long time, no post, I'm back.

Seeing as how we are now entering the tenth day without the feeding tube, it's probably safe to say that Terri Schiavo will probably pass in the next day or so, and according to MSNBC the parent's have finally resigned themselves to the situation.

I, like most of America it seems, have been following this case. At least it's made us all more aware of the importance of having a living will. What bothers me most is the sensationalism that the right has used to portray this as a "Democrats support Death" rally. Of course, none of us really thought they wouldn't at least try, but when Rush Limbaugh keeps asking his listeners why the liberals want to kill Terri Schiavo, it just makes me shake me head at the idiocy.

Some pearls from the MSNBC article above, apparently the Schindlers claim that Terri tried to speak to them yesterday, to vocalize that she knew she was dying and that she didn't want to die. Call me crazy, but that sounds a little over the top when she hasn't uttered a single coherent word since her brain died 15 years ago.


Cute little snake!

March 26, 2005


An interesting essay, via BitchPhD, on depression -- the post-partum sort in particular, but there are still some good points on depression and mental illness in general.

All of our feelings are biological. To attempt to invalidate some of them as 'less real' or somehow less important because they're hormonal or biochemical or whatever--that would invalidate all of them. The deepest, most profound feeling you have is biological. Hormonal. Biochemical. To say, 'When my boyfriend gives me flowers that makes me feel happy, that's good. But when I don't have the money to pay the utilities and they get shut off again and I feel sad and hopeless and like my life will never change, that's bad, and not only that, but it's actually a biochemical imbalance in my brain that needs to be corrected by drugs,' just doesn't make any sense.

Individual people have to find ways to cope with their individual situations, and often a medication is the best answer. But it is **not** the **societally** best answer **when there are clear social and economic reasons for this mental illness.** Yes, absolutely, if you're a woman and you're depressed and you can't cope, meds can be very helpful. But when that's society's only answer, I have a big problem with it. We don't need drugs as a long-term solution. We need social change.

What do you do

to help a friend get over a bout of depression, when you agree all the things she's depressed over are horrifying tragedies, worth being depressed over?

Brooks is a tool, part seven billion and five

In direct contrast to the political opportunism they have demonstrated on this exact issue in the past, David Brooks claims social conservatives think

The value of a life doesn't depend upon what a person can physically do, experience or achieve. The life of a comatose person or a fetus has the same dignity and worth as the life of a fully functioning adult.

Social conservatives go on to say that if we make distinctions about the value of different lives, if we downgrade those who are physically alive but mentally incapacitated, if we say that some people can be more easily moved toward death than others, then the strong will prey upon the helpless, and the dignity of all our lives will be diminished.


The core belief that social liberals bring to cases like Ms. Schiavo's is that the quality of life is a fundamental human value. They don't emphasize the bright line between life and death; they describe a continuum between a fully lived life and a life that, by the sort of incapacity Terri Schiavo has suffered, is mere existence....

The central weakness of the liberal case is that it is morally thin. Once you say that it is up to individuals or families to draw their own lines separating life from existence, and reasonable people will differ, then you are taking a fundamental issue out of the realm of morality and into the realm of relativism and mere taste.

You see, if we think it's right that individuals should decide for themselves whether to remain on life support, we simply no longer understand the meaning of the words 'right' and 'wrong'. Because, I guess, David Brooks has decided such things are clearly wrong.

Of course, all of this crap only indirectly applies to the Schiavo case because the bill passed by social conservatives in Congress simply said that the Federal court system should decide whether Ms. Schiavo had expressed a desire to be taken off life support in situations such as this. It didn't try to outlaw removing life support from patients in this particular or more general cases; it simply claimed a new area of Federal jurisdiction, and hence debate over the bill should have boiled down to precisely the procedural issues Bobo mocks non-social conservatives for bringing up. The fact that social conservatives didn't debate this on procedural grounds shows how much this bill was intended to stir up the anti-abortion vote (and if you don't see the connection you haven't been reading enough Pandagon lately).

March 25, 2005

I Got The Whole Word/ On My Computer

I'm not sure if I already blogged about this when it first came out but I don't even care because it's the coolest thing ever. Nasa has developed a program that puts together satilite images from several different satilites orbiting the globe into a cohesive map of the globe. You can start completely zoomed out and then take yourself further in to anywhere you want. So far I've looked at downtown Tokyo and Mt. Fuji, Disney Land and World, downtown Philly, and found my house in New Jersey and my parent's house (I could even see the pool and some trees) in Washington. Yeah, it's a little creepy, but really damn cool.

What makes it less creepy is that given the size of the globe the pictures are mostly not new. The ones of Philly are at least several years old because certain things (like stadiums) are missing.

March 24, 2005

Nice To Know

Ezra's pointing us to this article in the Washington Post which shows that Osama Bin Laden was in fact in Tora Bora for a while. Remember when General Tommy Franks made that big deal about how Kerry didn't know what he was talking about and that we didn't really know where Osama was? We Kerry was right and either Tommy Franks was lying/told to lie, or our generals are horribly out of the loop.

Oscar Romero

Not that long ago, there were prominent religious figures who were known for other than trying to deny women reproductive autonomy:

While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years, it is even more important to observe the reason for the persecution . . . The persecution comes about because of the Church's defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor.

Abortion: Net Zero Effect?

Jesse makes an argument I gave a while ago (go find the link yourself, I'm on break and lazy)

If pregnancy is truly this life-altering process, why do anti-choice advocates simply treat it as if it's a factory line? (Because they don't give a damn about the woman or the fact that children exist after the umbilical cord is cut, but bear with me.) If children are little more than plugins to industrial womb variables - this woman shall bear us nine, with optimal utilization - and the argument against abortion is that it doesn't provide enough foot soldiers, a simple X and Y argument, it cheapens the lives of everyone, it cheapens the decision to abort a fetus. It's a slap in the face to anyone who believes that an individual can accomplish or achieve, to anyone who truly thinks that each life has value. If you're a mass, a lump in a clump of lumps waiting to be shaped by forces beyond anyone's control - what's the difference between abortion and pregnancy? It's a tick in an attendance book, and if you don't show up, you just get someone else to make another tick somewhere else.

By reducing a pregnant woman to an incubator, a broad range of anti-choice arguments undermine the significance of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood.

Oscar Romero

Not that long ago, there were prominent religious figures who were known for other than trying to deny women reproductive autonomy:

While it is clear that our Church has been the victim of persecution during the last three years, it is even more important to observe the reason for the persecution . . . The persecution comes about because of the Church's defense of the poor, for assuming the destiny of the poor.

Xbox In Short Supply, But Not For Next Gen

VE's got word that given the rush on Xboxes lately stores are starting to run out. Supposedly MS is on top of this enviable problem and will rectify it soon.

In similar news a source at a major publisher is saying that the next iteration of the Xbox will launch with a million units in Europe. At first this may not sound enormous, but I believe at last count there were something in the neighborhood of 15 million Xboxes sold thus far so if they sold 2 million units worldwide in the first month or so after launch they'd be in a pretty good position to do a lot better than this generation; and be in a really good position for Sony's launch of the PS3.

Office (Air) Space

I know a few people interested in all thing Bri-ish, so here's a review of the American remake of the BBC's cult favorite, The Office. Seems like they think it's about par for the course for American remakes of BBC hits, funnier than most shows conceived here but not as good as the original.

Culture of Death, Culture of Life

Echidne and Amanda are pissed.

Unlearning From The Past

Thomas Freedman seems to think there's something wrong with the fact that 26 prisoners of war taken by US troops since 2002 in Iraq and Afghanistan have been killed while in custody in what appears to have been acts of torture. Crazy liberals!

March 23, 2005

PS3 Revealed? Or Someone Photoshopped Their Digital Camera?

Given that this isn't official, take the following picture of the PS3 with a grain of salt. Every generation fans Photoshop what they would like the next machine to look like, but then again, every generation an image or two of the machine gets leaked. So here they are.

What? No Celts?!

I could *NEVER* do anything productive in the Age of Empires games. I'd try a million different strategies, but my guys just got slaughtered every time. Be that as it may, I have always loved the series, and check the fuck out of these hot pics for Age of Empires 3.

We are the champions of the world!

It turns we're the first hit when you do a Google search for Staff of Ra.

New Social Security Trustees Report

Ezra does all the hard work, so go read his stuff. The short story is that the report lowered the trouble time for Social Security by a year which gives the bad guys something to crow about, but it's not much. So really, not that big a deal since it's really Medicare that we should be worried about.


The 11th Circuit agrees, Terri Schiavo's parents have no case. The Supreme Court is the last option, and I'm really curious if they'll even want to touch this one. On the other hand, I'd really like to see what they have to say about the constitutionality of Congress' actions in this case.

You can find the actual opinon through Kos above, or here too.

March 22, 2005

THWIPP! Round 3

Thomas Hayden Church, of Wings and more recently Sideways fame, has been announced as the new villain for Spiderman 3, though his character is still shrouded in secrecy. The movie is set to release in May of 2007 (closer than you might think at first).

Now that all the press release stuff is out of the way it's time to get my geek on. Who's he going to play you ask? Here are some options, ranked by likelihood:

10. Hydroman. Ok, do we really need to talk about this one much? He's kinda like Sandman, but less cool and made of water. Add in that he'd be a fortune in special effects, even for a movie like Spiderman 3, all for a pay off of one shitty ass character.

9. Manwolf. This one is a little more than what you might think. He's John Jameson, the son of J. Jonah Jameson, Peter's Spiderman-hating boss at the Daily Planet. Basically he picks up a magic rock on a moon landing and gets turned into werewolf. Sure, sounds pretty lame, and in fact that's the death knell for this one. In actuallity they introduced the character in Spidey 2, there's some connection to Mary Jane, and the interplay between J. Jonah, Peter, and John could be interesting. Still, Spidey v. Wolfman isn't exactly going to play well with a non-comicbook audience and as a character he's not that easy to control, which I'll explain later.

8. Hammerhead/Tombstone. These guys are exactly the bonehead thugs you think they are. The problems are many and varied with these guys. First, Thomas Hayden Church doesn't have the body for thugs like these guys. Second, they're just not interesting characters. I mean, Hammerhead bashes things with his head, and they both typically work for the mob. Not what we're looking for exactly, move along people!

7. Jackel. He's actually a really cool character. Sort of a super scientist with a penchant for manipulation and long term plans. But therein is the problem; he's a little too big of a character for the third movie in a trilogy. There's no way they could really do any kind of justice to the character and the character isn't really the type we're looking for here. Plus, he looks too much like The Green Goblin.

6. The Lizard. The first and biggest problem; they already have a Dr. Conners (who turns into the Lizard) in the last movie. Granted, it wasn't a big part, and they could probably just recast the part and nobody would notice/care, but it's an obstacle. Plus, Lizard is a ton of special effects and almost no acting for Church. This wouldn't be the first minor cameo by a star, but there's just not much for Church to do, he doesn't seem like a scientist to me, and Lizard, again, isn't what we need for the third movie.

5. Kraven the Hunter. Church could probably pull this guy off, but he's not without problems. I think Kraven's a bit too aristocratic for what I'm imagining is going on and isn't likely to "work well with others". And actually, unlike so many of the others on this list, Kraven doesn't really lend himself to *enough* special effects. He doesn't fly, he doesn't shoot lazers. All he's got is slightly higher than normal human abilities and a knife.

4. Venom. The old alien symbiote meets rival news man. There have been a few hints dropped in the last two films about a possible Eddie Brock/Venom apparance, and the fanboys crap their pants every time the topic comes up. He'd also be perfect for both the movie and Church. I think they could pretty easily simplify his background enough to fit him into feature film. Unfortunately, I don't think they've set enough up for a Venom appearance in this one. A few more hints dropped and it might have happened, but I think you'd need major introductions in the other two films that just isn't there.

3. Mysterio. Also a good one for Church, though he might not play as well with audiences. Mysterio's a special effects/hallucinogenics expert that succeeds through confusion and obfuscation. He works well and plays well with others, which is what I need for what I'm thinking. The special effects stuff could make for some good scenes. The only real problem is that he's not too cool, as compared to, say, something like Venom. In fact, some people might say he's a little, um, gay, but I think with a really good costume redesign it could be possible.

2. Sandman. We started with Hydroman and threw him out because he's both a rip off of Sandman and because he's lame. Well, Sandman's not. He's a thug type of character so he can work with other characters, but interesting instead of just plain stupid. Plus, it'd be fucking cool special effects wise.

1. Electro/Shocker. Why're they number 1? More importantly, why are they sharing the top spot? Well, they're sharing because they might as well be the same character, powers wise which is important for a special effects movie. These guys can take just enough of the plot to make them interesting without making the audience feel like there's something the movie's not telling them/pissing off the fans. They're both powerful enough to give Spidey a run for his money on their own and can work in teams to really make life hell for our neighborhood wall crawler. Both wear costumes, so it's something Church can do without getting lost in constant special effects, and both of them are of roughly normal build. Also, in teams these guys are dumb enough that they can be bullied by a strong, intelligent leader. Also, my bet is on Electro because Shocker sounds lamer from a marketing perspective.

The reason I've been harping on this "working with other characters" bit is that I think it's pretty obvious at the end of Spidey 2 that Harry Osborne is going to take up the mantle his father left behind. Sure, Sam Raimi has said in interviews that he doesn't feel tied to making Harry become his father, but from a story arc perspective of the trilogy, it just makes more sense for Harry to see his father's failure as the Green Goblin and take up the glider with a much better plan; use a recently arrived somewhat minor villain to either team up with or manipulate into fighting Spiderman. Either in a one-two attack or a full on simultaneous assault the two of them will try to pound on Spiderman until one of them can kill him. Who knows, maybe Harry will realize his mistake just in time and go good at the end. It'd certainly be true to the comic character.

Who knows, maybe I'm totally off base, but I think given the options this seems most likely.

Judicial Activism

After the Republicans moved the Terri Schiavo case to federal court, where had no place to begin with, the federal judge denied Schiavo's parents' request to reinsert the feeding tube. As Drew points out in his updates, the judge didn't even address the Constitutionality of the issue because on its face the parents' case was without foundation.

Here's the case made simple. Ideally, if a person has a living will and it says that they don't want to be kept alive like this you just consult the will and pull the damn plug. Schaivo didn't have a living will. In that case the spouse can say that it was the express wish of the patient to die. Now, as we see here other parties, like parents, can try to intervene and show that it was not the wish of the patient to die by showing evidence to the contrary. In this case *several* courts have found that Terri Schaivo's parent's have no proof. I can understand why they wouldn't want their daughter to die, but they simply have no case for showing that this isn't what she wanted.

Brooks Gone Wild

Everyone's posting about David Brook's new piece, so I might as well too. It's not quite as broadly condemning of Republicans as some of the sites made me believe, but it *is* rather impressive that he made it an entire column without some attempt at faux balance by bringing up some slight the Dems have done.

Bush Goes Into Matrix To Save Terri Shiavo

Bush has, for the very first time ever in his presidency, come back early from a vacation in Crawford, to address the Terri Shiavo case. I'd hate to think that this was a baldly political reach around to the fundies, but then I remember all the rest of the shit that has happened in the last four years that didn't warrant coming back to work early. And yet, people think Bush is all about values. The only answer is that he can remake the Matrix as he sees fit and will some day soon lead us to the real world.

In the mean time, life in the Congo still sucks more than anything should suck and we're spending national attention and over $80,000 a year to keep a woman alive that stopped living life when "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants was brand new and Apartheid was still in effect. Here are some other things that happened in 1990 other than Terri Shiavo dying.

Thanks to Ezra for the tip.

Edit: Drew from Terminus found some hot pics of Terri's brain. I don't think any of us need an MD to seek how fucked up that is.

Re-Edit: Look at the pics linked above, then read this quote from Tom DeLay: ""She talks and she laughs and she expresses likes and discomforts," he said Sunday evening. "It won't take a miracle to help Terri Schiavo. It will only take the medical care and therapy that patients require." Tom DeLay is a fucking liar, yet it doesn't seem like anyone has seriously called him on it, at least, not yet.

Omega Edit: Ok, here's a conservative voice for our debate, though it focus' on Terri's husband. Of course, James Taranto is completely wrong and is either being purposefully deceptive or is so simply foolish that it'd be amusing if the issue weren't so infuriating. Several courts have found that Terri Schiavo expressed a wish to die if she were in this type of situation. To me, that's all I need to know.

X-Man United

Matt Vaughn, who produced "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Gun Barells" and "Snatch", has been locked in to direct the third X-Men movie. Also, Hugh Jackman, getting his Hollywood money people are still hiring him, is the first principle cast member to sign on with the rest of the cast in negotiations. For those that don't remember, Halle Barry, cresting on her career, announced after the last movie that she would not return as Storm for the third movie. Given the state of her career lately though I wouldn't be too surprised if they hooked her in for another go.

March 20, 2005

Womens: They is so confusing!

To the surprise of no-one who paid attention in high school genetics, scientists have determined that the miniscule Y chromosome found only in males is much less active than the X chromosome -- which occurs twice in females and once in males. What is the inane, Feminine Mystique-esque, conclusion Maureen Dowd comes to?

As the Times science reporter Nicholas Wade, who is writing a book about human evolution and genetics, explained it to me: "Women are mosaics, one could even say chimeras, in the sense that they are made up of two different kinds of cell. Whereas men are pure and uncomplicated, being made of just a single kind of cell throughout."

This means men's generalizations about women are correct, too. Women are inscrutable, changeable, crafty, idiosyncratic, a different species.

Does Maureen Dowd have no experience interacting with actual women and men, people who exist outside of romantic comedies and sitcoms? Christ.

March 16, 2005

Think of a headline

A discussion of abortion over at the panda which has left. Amanda's point is extremely well-taken:

I've said it before, but it bears repeating--that the pro-lifers define "conception" as what makes a baby is a rhetorical device to reinstate the belief that a baby is made by a man and merely borne by a woman. There are many steps in the process of turning raw material into a baby, but only one is bandied around by pro-lifers as the point that something turns from raw material into a baby, and amazingly enough that step is the only one that involves a man. Anything pre-conception (or, with the morning after pill, pre-implantation) that prevents bearing a child isn't baby-killing, but anything after a man has planted his seed, if you will, is the moral equivalent of murder. Ejaculation has become the end-all and be-all to pro-lifers of what makes something a baby.

Prior to Roe v. Wade and the formation of the radical anti-choice movement, most women and midwives regarded quickening -- the time when the woman starts to feel the foetus moving inside her -- as the start of new life and when this thing forming inside her really becomes a baby. But religious figures, doctors, and other assholes who had a problem with women having a say in their reproduction pushed the view common among anti-choicers today that life begins at the instant sperm and egg combine.

Sortastic Pics

Here are some pics from Will Wright's Spore.

Edit: If you read the article on Spore you might have been wondering what this "Demo Scene" he talked about is. It's a group of programmers that make computer demos with music and stuff happening but with a very strict size requirement, usually 64k which is about the size of a biggish Word document. The way they do this is with all kinds of math stuff I don't understand, but it's pretty cool. Here's a site that has some demos you can check out.

An Emergent Spore

Will Wright has, as ever, come up with another of his wacky ass ideas and it

March 15, 2005

Tuesday afternoon blogging digest extravaganza!

Bitch. Ph.D
and Pandagon again.

He Was Just Helping The Sheep Over The Fence

Billy "Wicked" Wilson, creater of Voodoo Extreme and Gaming Groove game news web sites, has passed at 33.

Voodoo Extreme was the web site that made the internet useful to me. It was the first site that made me log on every day because there was actually new stuff happening every day. Magazines suddenly seemed horribly late with everything they reported and VE was able to open up the video game world in a way that no place I had ever seen before.

Man, it's weird how someone that you don't even really know dying can still unsettle you.

R.I.P. Billy, hope wherever you are you don't have to ice up the tp.

March 13, 2005

Freedom Force: The Review!

So I just finished Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich (FF2), the sequel to Freedom Force (FF), released in 2002 (possibly 2001, but I picked it up the Summer of 2002). I enjoyed Freedom Force immensely, and I've gone back and played through the single-player game several times. Both games have a similar format: In each mission, you control a squad of up to four superheroes from a third-person overhead view. As the story progresses, characters earn experience and 'character points', which allow them to purchase more spectacular powers. The game includes a 'hero builder', which allows you to create your own heroes, who can then be 'recruited' into the single-player game; with some 3D modelling experience and practice with the hero builder, a user can create just about any hero they might come up with.

The differences between the two games is largely cosmetic: FF2 uses a new graphics engine which allows for more spectacular special effects than in FF, though these aren't anything that will blow your mind. Controls are almost identical, so if you've played FF recently you'll just notice a few small streamlining touches here and there. FF2 includes several new characters, my favourite being Tombstone (whose Possession power makes the game ridiculously easy sometimes), and all of the characters from the old game show up at one point or another.

The weaknesses of FF2 are largely the same as the weaknesses of FF, and the primary one is the fact that I got this game on Friday night and finished it Sunday night -- with Saturday and Sunday largely taken up by homework. All together, I'd say less than 20 hours to play the entire single-player game, even shorter than I remember FF being. The writing can also get more than a little cheesy at times, and there are some out-and-out plot holes.

If you, like me, are addicted to superhero games, then I recommend FF2, though not everyone will want to spend $40 on a game they can finish this quickly.


By now, I assume you've heard about the pundits paid to shill Bush administration policies. You might also remember hearing about a pro-Medicare Drug Bill 'video release' which ran on local news stations across the country but was produced by the administration. As it turns out, like it so often has lately, things are much, much more appalling: the administration has spent hundreds of billions of dollars over the past four years (twice as much so far as was spent under the Clinton administration) to produce hundreds of similar segments, most of which have been shown on local news stations throughout the country, and often modified so that the token indications that these are government productions are removed or replaced.

March 11, 2005

Eastern and Western Washington

Some state senators in that state we all know and love have floated a proposal to split Washington in two along the Cascades. We get these sorts of proposals every ten or fifteen years in California, too: people from rural parts of Northern California (everything north of Bakersfield/San Luis Obispo, including San Francisco, Sacramento, and Lake Tahoe) object to all the water that gets sent down to LA and propose cutting them off. Nothing ever happens, of course, because something like 40% of the state lives in the Santa Barbara-LA-San Diego corridor, and another 40% in the Bay Area (who, on the whole, don't care what happens to the lakes up in the mountains other than Tahoe).

March 09, 2005

Gender politics in the US of A

Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying the guest bloggers over at the panda which has left?

The problem with comments like this [that the greatest gift a husband can give his wife is the freedom to choose whether or not to work] is that men in this country are already oppressed by the American Dream, the male version, at least. As far as I know, there's no female-centered version of the American Dream. In the American Dream, our hero Ward Cleaver is a Real Man because he has a job that pays for him to have a big house, a family and a most importantly, a wife who is financially dependent on him and under his direct control. This is how masculinity is defined for so many, many men in our country. The problem is that fulfilling that dream of having a woman sequestered away at home tending to you and your children is that it's out of the financial reach of the majority of men.

Of course, what this means is that we have a population of men in this country that both believe that in order to be Real Men they have to have a wife that is both at home and subservient, but out of financial necessity, they have wives who work. And it's hard to get subservience out of someone when you can't tell them, 'Well, who makes the money around here?' There's a lot of resentment there.

In step the Republicans, who can't give these guys what they really want--jobs that pay enough to have a family with one income--but they can give them an endless list of people to scapegoat: welfare moms, illegal immigrants, disobedient women getting abortions, gays who want marriage when you can't even have the Leave It to Beaver one you wanted for yourself, and so on and so forth. Plus, the President is all too willing to be a walking phallic symbol for all sorts of masculine fantasies of power to be projected on. Maybe you can't be Ward Cleaver, conservative men of America, but at least you can pretend you're Dirty Harry.

I wonder if Jesse consciously turned his blog over to a handful of women during women's history month?

Some good advice

from some wingnut writing for Focus on the Family's magazine for teenage girls. The topic, as the topic of most such magazines, is boys, and the three 'essential' differences between boys and girls.
1. Guys are visual -- because girls just don't ogle.
2. Guys are physical -- which is a euphemism for fucking-oriented; and again, unlike girls, who are much less fucking-oriented.
3. Guys are the sexual aggressor in the male/female relationship.

That’s not really a news flash for you, is it? The fact is, guys are not only visually stimulated and physical, but they really are the sexual aggressor in any relationship. And you know why? God made them that way. That’s right. God wired guys to be sexually aggressive, just as He made you to be the caring, nurturing one in the relationship.

You know what pisses me off about abstinence-only sex ed? It's not really the fact that it doesn't work; that just makes it bad policy. What bugs me so much is how much patriarchal crap like this the wingnut abstinence cheerleaders just throw into the stuff they write. Come on, people: couldn't you just admit that most everyone (not just men) wants to fool around with the person they're dating and ogle attractive people, and most everyone (not just women) wants a deep emotional connection and worries about getting 'too involved too fast' (whatever that might mean in each particular case)? Then your textbooks wouldn't be offensive and wrong, just ineffective.

Bonus: Even more patriarchal crap from the same magazine. This piece reveals the 'eight secrets' about guys:

2. Keep a Little Mystery ...
Guys by nature are "conquerors" (just look at their interest in football, video games, rock climbing, etc.). What can guys conquer or pursue if girls reveal everything about themselves? I'm referring to how you relate to guys, but it can also apply to how you dress....
It is possible to be too open and too buddy-buddy with guys. There seems to be a fine line between treating them as brothers in the Lord and crossing over into too familiar territory. When a guy knows everything about you, it leaves nothing for him to conquer....
In our discussion, the girls drilled me about how to actually maintain some mystery. I responded by giving them questions to ask themselves.
• Who initiates most of the conversations I have with a guy?
• Who (other than adults) initiates our activities, the girls or the guys?
• Who's making the phone calls?
• Does he ask questions, or do I volunteer information?
Remember, if you're too available, you've removed the challenge.

Remember, if you're not letting the boys decide what you're going to do, they'll dump your feminist butts.

3. Don't Mock
Guys of any age don't like being playfully mocked by a group of girls, even if the mocking comes in the form of a compliment: "nice eyes/hair/muscles/etc."...
5. Free or Flee
Guys don't like feeling manipulated, controlled or emotionally cornered by girls. Being conquerors, they naturally withdraw from those situations. My sons know they're not yet ready for relationship commitments, and the more they feel pressured by girls to make them, the more they pull away....
6. Guys vs. Girls
Guys don't like competitive "guy vs. girl" contests. It puts them in a lose-lose situation. On one hand, when guys win a contest, they're put in a male chauvinist category. If they lose, it's humiliating and creates an invisible barrier between them and the girls.
Competition locks girls into a no-win situation as well. If the girls win the contest, it forfeits the openness the guys may have felt with them. If they lose, girls usually feel some degree of humiliation, resentment or bitterness.

Got to stroke those oh-so-fragile male egos. Remember: you're here to make the boys feel good about themselves, and if you show them up they'll dump your feminist butt. Boys only like girls who stroke!

7. Guys Are "Allergic" To Silliness
Guys enjoy seeing girls have fun, but they don't like being around girls' silliness.... Rest assured, guys definitely have their own form of silliness. Do they ever! But it needs to stay among the males. Keep your silliness among yourselves as well. Guys admire girls who conduct themselves with poise in public.
8. Guys Do Notice Homemaking Skills
Believe it or not, in these days of liberation, guys still notice a girl's homemaking skills. In fact, the older my sons and their friends become, the more alert they are to the presence or lack of those skills in their female friends. Can she cook? Administrate? Is she kind to children? How does she handle her money? Does she care about learning?

So, to put it all together: if you and your boyfriend are hanging out with your friends (who, naturally, are all girls) and their boyfriends (who, naturally, are his friends), let them decide what movie to watch or game to play. Then, while they're having their fun, you girls can go in the kitchen and bake them some pies!


March 07, 2005

More PP

Panda which has left:

The woman who makes plans is pretty much always a negative stereotype in our culture. Sylvia Ann Hewlett got on all the talk shows by writing a book scolding women not to plan to have their children later in life when it was easier for them for fear that they may not be able to have them, and a great time was had by all on the shows pitying women who got their comeuppance for thinking they could exert control over their own destinies only to be left childless. Even in situations where women are doing their best to fulfill social expectations, taking control is viewed negatively. For example, we adore ourselves a blushing bride, but a woman who manages her own wedding planning is going to be labeled a Bridezilla before all is said and done.

Plans indicate control and plans also indicate desire. You make a plan because you have things you want and you need to figure out the best way to get them. Every time a woman swallows her birth control pill, there's a world of desires behind that decision and the pill is one of the tools she's using to achieve those desires--a job, an education, marriage to the man she really wants not just to the first that got her pregnant, no marriage at all, a smaller family, more income to spend on hobbies, more time to herself, you name it. There's a lot of feminist ink spilled on the discussion of how female sexual desire is demonized in our culture, but even more than that, almost all female desires are suspect, except of course the desire to serve. (One reason that fields like math and science are still underpopulated with women is that intelligent women often turn their talents to fields where service is still emphasized, like medicine.)

And from the excellent post by a blogger I'm not familiar with that the guest-blogger links to:

How fucked up is it, that a woman's ability to choose whether or not to bear a life is so incredibly fucking scary that there's an entire formal and informal institution of fear and shame set up around her body to keep her from understanding it? How fucked up is it, that when I say that out loud, or here in a public forum, that people just dismiss it, pretend talking about women's uteruses is boring and unimportant and not worth thinking or talking about? How can they say that and then spend their time passing laws that directly affect me and my pesky uterus, and heckle me when I try and take control over my body's processes? How can they say that and then tell me that not only is my body not worth discussing (so long as I'm the one discussing it), but that having this body makes me bad at math, too emotional, weak and inferior and flippant and flighty?

Pandagon: Affirmative action for theologians?

Pandagon: Affirmative action for theologians?

my finger hurts, so you just get the link

The PP

Dr. B on the importance of PP:

This, of course, is the real point: abortion is only a small (but necessary) part of what women's health clinics provide. The attack on women's health clinics is, effectively, an attack on women's health; when and if anti-abortion crusaders shut down clinics, all they do is promote more, not fewer, unwanted pregnancies--by removing access to birth control, by removing respectful, affordable health care, by removing the education and support women need to learn how to take care of themselves, including planning pregnancies when and if they want them.

March 05, 2005

Bitch. Ph.D.: Spoiled students, part 3; or, what kind of student was I?

Dr. B writes about her childhood education, and then reflects:

This is one reason I want to get pseudonymous kid the hell away from whitebread smalltownia: his mom is a college professor, he's not going to have to worry about academics. What is going to be hard for him if we don't get out of here is to expand his brain beyond middle-class suburbanism. But the point isn't, 'god I hate the suburbs' (though I do): the point, educationally speaking, is that in some ways one of the things I took away from my elementary ed. was that, in the name of protecting their kids, middle-class parents seriously limit their childrens' education. The education I got was far superior to the education the honors kids--or the white flight kids whose parents moved to a different school district--received. What those kids learned, I got from books and at home. What I learned, they couldn't learn from books, or at home in their safe suburban families. Maybe some of them learned a bit of it later; I hope so. The problem, of course, is that when those kids don't learn those things, they grow up to weild power and miseducate their own children and continue to shit on the children of the underclasses. I don't want my kid to grow up to think like that, nor do I want him to grow up with the equally horrible (maybe in some ways even worse) sense of safe middle-class liberalism that the honors kids whose parents kept them in public school had, a liberalism that operates without a real understanding of the issues at hand and is still, underneath, scared and scornful of the people it tries to 'help' without in any way actually thinking about the power structure.

I have one small, impersonal comment on this, and then I'll go into a larger, more personal one.

The small comment is that the last sentence reminds me of Nietzsche's critique of a sort of patronizing liberalism and Christian charity. Nietzsche argued that these attitudes towards the 'lower' classes stemmed from a feeling he called ressentiment: anger, jealousy, and resentment.

The larger comment is that, particularly in Bush's America, the ideology of the suburbs is just as much condescending conservatism as condescending liberalism. This is actually the ideology I was surrounded by growing up in rural Northern California: throughout the community, almost nothing but contempt is shown for the small non-white population of the county, for gay people, for liberals and 'socialists', and for 'flatlanders', a term which describes the tourists who come up to the mountains from San Francisco and the Central Valley (and whose wallets bring in the cash which keeps the economy afloat there, I might add). The local paper, 'The oldest continuously published paper west of the Mississippi', publishes syndicated neo-con Charles Krauthammer's calls to invade Iran and Syria and letters to the editor which forecast the doom which will befall our bastion of decent living if, say, the 'communist-socialist plot' to put carpool lanes on a busy stretch of the major highway is implemented, or Wal*Mart isn't given the tax breaks and exemptions from road development requirements it 'needs'.

I think the only reason I didn't turn out a raging movement conservative Christian like so many of the people I went to high school with was my parents. While I'm far to the left of both of them today, they -- and especially my mom -- offered a moderate-liberal counterbalance to all the bigotry and lower-middle-class sneering that surrounded me. The church we attended until I was in junior high is by far the most liberal in the county.

If I had to choose between the condescending liberal East Bay suburb where my dad lives and the condescending conservative community where my mom lives and I grew up, I really don't know which way I would go. I don't think I could stand the people in either place.

No words

Just go. Now.

Why are you still here?

March 03, 2005

Ugh, part eleventy-thousand

Per guest-blogged Amanda over at the panda which has left, a Texas state rep. has proposed a bill which would allow pharmacists to refuse to provide birth control, including emergency contraception. I've heard about this before, but I've never encountered an argument so disigenuous, ignorant, or downright abhorrent as the one she quotes.

Arguing that a raped woman has been extremely traumatized, he concluded: "A woman has gone through a trauma; for these reasons her body may not be fertile."

I've known probably eight young women who were raped as teenagers, and most of them still have a week of nightmares every year, around the date they were attacked. Several of these young women didn't take emergency contraception because they were too scared to go to a doctor; the unsurprising end result is often a bright young women branded a slut by the community, kicked out of her parents' house, and being forced to drop out of high school instead of go to college so she can care for her child with some minor financial support from the asshole who thought he was entitled to put his penis wherever the fuck he felt like.

This is where my personal desire to castrate rapists with a golf club comes to the surface again.

March 01, 2005

But They're So Stupid!

The Supremes have made it illegal to kill kids. Drew sums it up pretty well.

Don't Panic

Here is another trailer for The Hichhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and it is good.

Savings of DOOM!

Shorter David Brooks: oh noooooes! seperate cheking accounts will destroy teh marrieges!

What a fucking inane tool.