January 31, 2006

Bush health care policy

I like Amanda's summary:

Bush expects you to save thousands of dollars if you ever want to see a doctor

Who thinks this is going to die faster than Social Security Privatization did?

So We Lost

Over at Kos I ran into this good, but very long, post by digby on why we shouldn't necessarily feel horrible about how we did with Alito. I think he, purposefully, doesn't dwell on the practical effects that Alito on the Court will create as much as I'm inclined to. Really though, anyone that thought Alito wasn't going to be confirmed was maybe a bit delusional. As digby points out, it's hard enough to kill a nomination when you have a majority, the possibility that the Dems were going to actually pull it off was pretty small. The more important thing to accomplish was getting the big wigs in the party to pay attention to the wishes of the party loyal and make a stand. Looking at the Dems that actually supported filibuster, it's a pretty impressive group considering how they've acted in the past.

"You want a part of me / You want the whole thing / You want to feel something more than I could ever bring"

More Hardball

Bob Shrum absolutely crushes Pat Buchanan in this segment and Chris Mathews actually asks some good questions. Is he impartial? Not as much as I'd like from a moderator, but he did a lot better than when he insinuated that Ted Kennedy molested Mrs. Alito. Despite a few statements that took sides a bit (referring to Kennedy's "amazing performance" was just a bit over the line for me), mostly this is what I expect when I think of what a show named Hardball should be like. Asking whether or not the Bill of Rights would pass today isn't a partisan question, it's just a tough one and I'm sure glad somebody asked it. Also, big ups to Pat Buchanan for being honest.

"I said "You gotta make it for the fams" / "Damn," he said "I didn't make the ghetto, / The ghetto made the man"

January 30, 2006

Fuck (while you have the chance)

Fucking Democrats:

The Senate voted, 72 to 25, to shut off debate and hold a vote on confirmation Tuesday morning. Sixty votes are needed to shut off debate, and 41 to keep one going, so opponents of the nominee fell far short this afternoon.

You've got to hand it to the senators from Massachusetts -- at least they tried. I'm wondering which nineteen Dems caved. Can someone PLEASE run against them ASAP, using this as a campaign issue?

Edit: Amanda has dug up the record of votes. States with Dems who voted for closure, ie, voted Yea to block the filibuster:

Arkansas: Lincoln (D-AR), Yea Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Colorado: Allard (R-CO), Yea Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Connecticut: Dodd (D-CT), Nay Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Delaware: Biden (D-DE), Nay Carper (D-DE), Yea
Florida: Martinez (R-FL), Yea Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Hawaii: Akaka (D-HI), Yea Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Louisiana: Landrieu (D-LA), Yea Vitter (R-LA), Yea
Montana: Baucus (D-MT), Yea Burns (R-MT), Yea
New Mexico: Bingaman (D-NM), Yea Domenici (R-NM), Yea
North Dakota: Conrad (D-ND), Yea Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
South Dakota: Johnson (D-SD), Yea Thune (R-SD), Yea
Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Yea Murray (D-WA), Nay
West Virginia: Byrd (D-WV), Yea Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Wisconsin: Feingold (D-WI), Nay Kohl (D-WI), Yea

The Dating Game

I was browsing Shirazi's blogs (thanks for posting in our comments, and stick around!) and found this post about what men and women from around the world look for in mates. Useful information for those of us in the single world. Unfortunately, ability to quote movies doesn't appear to be a major factor in any country, though I'm pretty sure this study is underreporting the importance of familiarity with Strange Brew in the Canadian dating scene.

Does My Dwarf Have A Sexual Identity?

For those that aren't aware, the hottest Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (MMORPG) around right now is Blizzard's World of Warcraft. While games of this sort have generally require lots of action and adventure in playing them, the defining characteristic of the genre is the social nature implied by the "massively multiplayer" part of the genre's name. These games have numerous locales where players congregate to form adventuring groups as well as to simply socialize. Most games also include some kind of guilding mechanism whereby players can solidify their groups as a means to pool resources and build their own mini in-game community.

Recently, a player in World of Warcraft decided to form a GLBT friendly guild. Evidently Blizzard has a policy, which is supposedly designed to protect players from sex related discrimination, of not allowing sex-related guilds and the player's guild was not allowed to form. Thinking this had to be some kind of mistake, the player appealed this decision to higher level of customer relations, but the decision was upheld.

So, whaddya think? Read the article and post your thoughts. This situation is obviously still developing, and I'll keep my eyes open for any new news.

January 29, 2006

A note on metaphysics

I interpret Kant's work in the first Critique as an extremely strong metaphysical agnosticism: not only the objects of sensuous experience, but also the objects of thought, are conditioned by the cognitive constitution of the subject in question. That is, not just the forms of space and time, but also the pure categories, serve as restrictions on our ability to 'do metaphysics'. The smartass way to put this is that all we know is that we cannot know.

The practical philosophy -- the Groundwork, second Critique, and Metaphysics of Morals -- and, a century later, Brouwer's Intuitionism, improve things a little. In ethics and mathematics, the object of knowledge is not given, but rather the spontaneous creation of an autonomous subject, so knowledge is possible here, unlike (pre-Critical) metaphysics.

This post was apropos nothing.

Men on marriage

There's a great interview over at Salon with an author who interviewed a number of men on the state of marriage today:

Were you at all worried that there's a danger in saying, Wait a minute, why are we devaluing this male style? -- that you might be cutting into the gains that feminism has made?

I came of age in the late '60s and early '70s, which is right at the time that things were changing radically, and I never felt feminism to be a threat. Now, I know there were some angry people, angry women in particular, who I thought were sometimes wielding a broad brush by saying that you can't trust any man, that all men want is sex, or that they are uniformly dangerous and abusive, but I never really felt angered by that because I believed that, in the bigger picture, both men and women stood to gain from the larger feminist goals of equality and removing biology as destiny.

I've seen that in my own life. I married somebody who has her own career, who's very good at what she does. She also supports me at times as I'm chasing my dream of writing books. So my philosophy is that we can be pro-female and pro-male and pro-relationship if we are reasonable with each other. And I sense that women, even very strongly feminist-oriented women, are open to hearing what men have to say.

January 28, 2006

Academic freedom

Michael Berube provides the text of a great essay he delivered the other day, on the attacks on academic freedom by movement conservatives. It shouldn't be too surprising that this bit stood out for me:

What animates the radical right, in other words, is not so much a specific liberal belief about stem-cell research here or gay civil unions there; on an abstract level, it’s not about any specific liberal issues at all. Rather, it’s about the very existence of areas of political and intellectual independence that do not answer directly and favorably to the state.

Yet again, more support for my theory that conservatives have a deeply Hobbesian view of the role of the state.

January 27, 2006

Something To Entertain You While I'm Out

Before I'm out for the evening, here's a game that reader Dan sent my way. Also, here's Young Chuck Norris again, because I can't stop singing it.

"Remember yesterday - walking hand in hand / Love letters in the sand"

That's My Dawgs!

Washington State has passed a gay rights bill. I've tried to track down some commentary on it to see how it's being received, but nobody's really talking about it. Atrios linked to the PI article with no real commentary, but that's all I could find. Still, good for Washington. Sen. Bill Finkbeiner of Kirkland was the deciding vote, having voted against this measure when it failed by a single vote. His statement really struck me as the key issue in this type of legislation,

"What we are really talking about here is...whether or not it's OK to be gay or homosexual in this state. On whether or not it's appropriate to be discriminating against or to discriminate against someone because of that."

Forget gay marriage. Forget adoption rights. Forget rights in medical emergencies. Every person that brings those "this takes us down a slippery slope" arguments to the table is either being dishonest or hasn't thought it out. If there is such a slope, with no rights being the top and unlimited entitlement at the bottom then every right you give people is a step towards the "bottom".

It's issues like this where Republicans really lose their economic conservatism cred. They're trying to tell us, though we all need and benefit from a healthy economy, we should tolerate employers firing perfectly good workers on the basis of some prejudice. I want the most qualified and efficient workers to get the jobs they are qualified to have and I don't need the economy I rely on to be slowed down by some manager that hates gays.

I really wish we had a contingent of conservatives on the site because I've got plenty more to say but don't want it to become any more of a rant than it already is.

"Fiona's got him on the phone / And she's trying not to moan / It's a three-way call and he knows nothing / nothing"

Germans Love David Hasselhoff

Thanks to Ezra, we have what may be the music video of the year.

"Just like every cowboy sings a sad sad song"

What's It Worth?

So it's looking almost certain that Judge Alito will be confirmed to the Supreme Court without having a filibuster raised against him by Democratic opponents. Three Democrats have crossed party lines to vote for his confirmation, including Robert Byrd of West Virginia who made quite the caustic speech about Alito during the debate and is usually quite a firebrand. Evidently he has been contacted by constituents that believe the questioning of Alito was too harsh and think he should be confirmed. I don't know if that's a cop out, but it sure smells like one. Additionally, Democratic big names like Harry Reid and Joe Biden have essentially said they are opposed to a filibuster. So, with confirmation all but, uh, confirmed, and filibuster almost certainly off the table, John Kerry is calling Democrats calling for the filibuster.

There's actually more below the flip!

The Times makes a pretty cynical aside that this is posturing for the '08 nomination, but we here at the Blog Of Record think that's a question best left to the readers. What kind of credit does Kerry get for this move? It's almost certainly going to be popular with his MA-lectorate, so it could be an attempt to solidify himself in his seat, though I doubt he was in any real danger of getting ousted from the Senate. It is true that this could be a move to position himself for another run for President. It's also true that the guy just really thinks there should be a filibuster and is going to be publically whipping people until the vote happens.

I don't know where I come down on what to make of Kerry, but I do know one thing, Democrats made a really really shitty deal that put some really really shitty people in several Federal Appellate Courts on lifetime appointments in exchange for keeping the option of filibustering Supreme Court candidates open. Anyone remember that? That whole "nuclear option" thing? That time the Democrats actually almost took a stand on judicial nominations but then made a deal so that they could make their stand on the eventual nominations to the Supreme Court that everyone knew was coming? Do people expect there to be more nominations soon? Bush does have two years and change left, so it's possible, I guess. Maybe that's what the Democrats are waiting for because otherwise it sure looks like they traded the cow for some beans. Regular beans, like to make a soup with.

"I feel it in my fingers / I feel it in my toes / Christmas is all around me / So let the feeling grow"

Internet explorer problems and link dump

Apparently, IE has problems parsing many of my posts, and this problem is tied into the only way we know of to keep the 'But Wait, There's More!' line from showing up when there is not, in fact, more to read. Now, my inclination is to say that no-one should be using IE in the first place -- Firefox is far superior and far safer, and has no problems with the site -- and we should just attach a disclaimer saying the site doesn't work with IE. Two other possibilities involve changing the way 'There's More!' works -- something neither MosBen nor I know how to do right now -- and me going back and fixing however many of my posts by hand. I thought I would ask you, our readers, for your thoughts.

While you're mulling that over, here's some reading.
A powerful NYT editorial. They're about as fond of Alito as I am, and, like me, think the Democrats have a duty to filibuster Alito.
Excerpts from an essay on the connection between lack of opportunity and conservatism among the lower middle class and working poor.
Amanda highlights a story that illustrates just how big a sense of entitlement certain upper middle class white guys develop.

January 26, 2006

Wage gap

Echidne's wage gap series, now up in its entirety. Enjoy!

Weekend Post

That's right kids, my classes got cancelled today so I'm officially on the weekend already!

First up we've got a study that claims that more than half of Britons don't believe in evolution and 40% believe ID or some alternative should be taught in schools. Now, it's possible this study isn't accurate, but those are some pretty surprising numbers, at least to me.

Next, Nintendo will be releasing a redesigned version of their Nintendo DS. I dunno, the new design doesn't really grab me.

Finally, we've got a /. post about a development company that's thinking about trying to resurect Firefly. Of course, the first reaction of fans is to go crazy with euphoria, but it does seem likely that this is just a fancy internet petition, which almost never go anywhere. Still, though it seems unlikely that we'll ever see the show get new TV episodes, and based on the box office take of the feature film sequels seem unlikely, it is entirely possible that we could get some kind of straight to DVD or OnDemand type release. According to these numbers, it looks like the Serenity DVD and Firefly Boxset are still selling pretty damn well. Finally, here's a Firefly fan in a rediculous Jayne hat. Oh fandom......

"Warm skin / Wolf grin / And where were you?"

January 25, 2006

You Tube Blog Dump

You all know You Tube, right? That's the site everyone went to for the clip of "Lazy Sunday" from SNL. Well they've made it really easy for me to have a new feature here that's easy to do. See, I'll just comb through some of their stuff and post links to the funniest things I come across.

This time was pretty damned productive. First off we have an SNL clip about Young Chuck Norris. Then we have a remake of "Lazy Sunday" by some little kids. Then I started to notice quite a few Andy Samberg clips and realized that, according to this Letterman interview, he and his friends got hired by SNL after they filmed a bunch of their own stuff and made a website called The Lonely Island. On there you can find various clips and pilots that they made when they were trying to get noticed. The pilot for Awesome Town was pretty good, particularly the first episode of their version of Laguna Beach, "The 'Bu", which features Scrubs' Sarah Chalke.

Something (Truly) Awful

Drew alerted me to a controversy I had no idea was going on, so I thought I'd pass that on to you guys. Evidently the popular site Ebaum's World has made a practice of stealing content from other sites (the Numa Numa video comes to mind) and then branding it with and Ebaum's World logo in the bottom corner. Now, it's not like I haven't posted a picture on the site without giving credit from time to time, but Ebaum's World has evidently generated quite a bit of money in advertising revenue for Eric Bauman, the site's owner and most of the content he takes is evidently from other sites which are being operated for profit so he's taking money right out of the pockets of the original sites. If that wasn't bad enough, evidently when he was asked to remove the stolen content from his site by Something Awful's Richard "Lowtax" Kyanka he not only refused, but also added code to his site which stole bandwidth from Something Awful every time someone loaded Ebaum's World.

The Wikipedia entries for Something Awful and YTMND both have more complete stories. There's also a site dedicated to the controversy which has a funny flash animation too. Something Awful also has a good news post about it.

1st Period: Numa Numa

The state of West Virginia has entered into a three year agreement with Konomi to bring Dance Dance Revolution to over seven hundred schools as part of their phys-ed programs. I mean, it can't be any less effective at keeping kids fit than badminten and floor hockey and if it actually helps kids get a little more active then it seems like a decent enough idea to me. On the other hand, it just means there will be that many more kids out there that can make me look really really stupid at the arcade.

January 24, 2006

Feminism and academia

This is a discussion thread, a new host for the off-topic discussion here.

Video Games Stuff

Well, I'm still boycotting EA's games, at least I'm not buying them new and thus denying them my money, but at least they've decided to actually use the ESPN license that they swiped away from Sega/2K Games. Real time scores isn't a super mind blowing feature, but it's cool.

Looks like the end of E3 "Booth Babes" might be upon us. Horny teenage nerds weep, but it's probably better for the industry as a whole I guess.

Looks like the game all the 1337 gamers like bag on is getting its second sequel. Hey, as long as I can create new ways to humiliate and kill my little people I'm excited.

Law In Media

In case you don't read Drew's blawg normally, well you should. But here's something specifically that you should check out. I'm sure this is true of any technical profession that gets covered by the media, but I'm particularly aware of how poorly the media covers legal issues. Now, like Drew I don't feel like I know everything I would need to in order to make an informed decision about the sentence. My trouble with this situation is the widely held belief that disliking the outcome of a case means that the case was decided incorrectly. In a system of fixed (or largely fixed) rules or laws you're going to get cases that don't sit well with your gut, but if you just go with your gut you're not going to produce any kind of cognizable rules. Needless to say, not everyone's got the same gut instincts, so I think we're better off sticking with a neutral set of rules, even if we don't always like or understand some of the outcomes.

No comment necessary

Via Pandagon.

Incidentally, no crosses on the ND quad the past two days. Why? No clue.

January 23, 2006

Monday link dump

Mondays (and Wednesdays) will be somewhat hellish this semester -- eight hours of class, broken up with just two one-hour breaks -- so here's some reading to keep you people with real jobs occupied.

Ampersand provides some statistics and very basic economic analysis of some anti-choice arguments.
Part of Blogging for Choice, a personal account of one woman's experience with abortion.
And another, a bit more upbeat:

We were just four women who believed that what we were doing was the right thing and it was nothing to be ashamed of. The room wasn't filled with the scent of vigiliant martyrdom, of people hell bent on making a political statement about feminism and women's rights. It was a room that smelled of women who just were: this is what we do. We choose to give birth or not and we talk about our underwear, doable men, whether we like our jobs, the latest forms of birth control, the weather, and if the ex was every really any good in bed and why did we put up with it for so long.

Jedmunds doesn't think much of Kos' book, or valueless 'progressive' movements in general.
And, last but certainly not least, part two of Echidne's wage gap series.


Amandagon gives us a hilarious fisking of an editorial so over the top with patriarchal whining you would've thought it was satire if it wasn't in the Guardian:

That last sentence gave me a mental image of a woman sitting at a table with a baby in a high chair on one side and her husband on the other and she’s spoon-feeding them both, but making sure always to feed her husband first lest he squall and throw the bowl of cereal to the ground. This article would work well as a way to convince men to embrace feminism, I think, since it’s such an appealing alternative to looking like a big ass like Morris here comes across as.

January 22, 2006

Dear Senator

Dear Senator Durbin,

I am writing to you today as a former Illinois resident, one who voted for both you and Senator Obama before my reluctant move to Indiana. I doubt my Senators here would consider my words with the weight you will.

I read today in the Chicago Sun-Times that you feel the Democratic party may have the votes to successfully filibuster Alito. I strongly encourage you to follow through on this, and begin a filibuster as soon as his nomination moves to the floor of the Senate. Alito poses a strong danger to all Americans, and threatens to be instrumental in curtailing the privacy rights Americans enjoy every day of our lives and the system of checks and balances in favour of a nearly authoritarian executive branch. While he has a fine legal mind, it is clear from his record that he twists the law to fit a radical conservative agenda out of synch with mainstream Americans. He is thus completely unacceptable for such an important position as the deciding vote on the Supreme Court.

Dan Hicks

Dear Senator Obama,

I am writing to you today as a former Illinois resident, one who voted for both you and Senator Durbin before my reluctant move to Indiana. I doubt my Senators here would consider my words with the weight you will.

I read today in the Chicago Sun-Times that you are waiting to meet with Justice Alito before deciding how to vote on his confirmation to the Supreme Court. I strongly encourage you to vote against confirmation, and to participate in a Democratic filibuster against Alito. While he has a fine legal mind, it is clear from his record that he twists the law to fit a radical conservative agenda out of synch with mainstream Americans. He is thus completely unacceptable for such an important position as the deciding vote on the Supreme Court.

Dan Hicks

Where are the women?

I am Blogging for Choice today, the 33rd anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Last Fall, an array of twelve-inch crosses was set up for about 48 hours in the South Quad, one of the frequently-trafficked green areas in the middle of Notre Dame's campus. The array was accompanied by a large painted piece of board, explaining that each cross represented so many thousand abortions performed in the US in the last thirty years -- however many 'babies murdered' since the landmark decision was announced. (It's likely to be up now; check this webcam if it's daytime, and I'll try to get a photo tomorrow.)

But there was no mention of the women who chose to undergo those abortions. Whether you want to think of them as naifs, tragically brainwashed by liberals (that's a third of all American women; no wonder anti-choice types think us feminists have such a stranglehold on the minds of women!), degenerate whores cackling maliciously as the flush away this gift from God, or moral agents who, after weighing their options carefully, are exercising their inherent right to reproductive autonomy, there was at least one full person involved who felt this invasive surgical procedure was for the best. And they simply weren't there, in this faux graveyard. It was as though the crosses mourned children who, magically forming out of midair, were immediately executed.

This isn't surprising, of course. Opponents of choice are precisely that -- opponents of choice. They refuse to admit any sort of moral ambiguity here, the possibility of particular circumstances that require someone intimately involved -- indeed, the only person intimately involved -- to weigh all factors and make up their own mind as responsible individuals.

Behind each cross is so many thousands of stories, intimate little dramas of shame, guilt, love and dreams for the future. Maybe there's a scared teenage girl; or a mother, with three children already, who just can't start over with one more; or a twenty-five-year-old and her husband, anxiously awaiting their new baby until the sonogram turns up debilitating and undescribably painful neurological defects. Stories that vanish twice over: once into two pieces of white wood, stapled together and shoved into the ground by a member of Notre Dame Right to Life as he trades stories of Saturday night conquests with his friends in the chill of a January night; and secondly into the foetus, the bundle of cells given status as the sole object of value whenever it appears as a possibility.

The debate over choice is a debate over the status of women as moral agents, as I've argued before. This is a debate most anti-choice rhetoric refuses to engage in, preferring to disappear the woman and establish a junta of the foetus in her place.

For more Blogging for Choice, I recommend perusing feministblogs.org.

January 21, 2006

Just Popping In

Wow, you're saying. Ben's posting something? Well don't get too excited there slappy, I don't really have a lot to talk about. Honestly there just isn't a lot of stuff I'm following right now that I just need to talk about. I'm putting together something that I should post tomorrow, so that will be nice, for me at least. Now that I'm settled into my classes a bit I should hopefully get a little better about posting things, though, or at least that's the plan.

Anyway, this isn't new exactly, but Maureen reminded me of it today and it's a good excuse for posting something. You'll want to click the "Watch this movie" link on the right side of the page.

Comments on feminist epistemology

I was going to respond to some of the things commenters Mr Bad and alexander say in this thread, but I stumbled across a paper that says most everything I was going to say anyways. Long, definitely a piece by and for philosophers, but hopefully still interesting and fairly accessible to the non-specialist. I want to add just a few points.

Mr Bad makes the same intellectually dishonest move Larry Summers did -- ignoring feminist critiques of the science they use to denounce feminist concerns and projects. I fail to see how these conclusions can be supported without falling into severe question-begging: "feminists are wrong about discrimination in the academy because this science says they are; we don't need to pay attention to feminist critiques of this science because the critiques are wrongly motivated to combat (nonexistent) discrimination". This is a longstanding backlash trend: some of the thoroughly ignored criticisms (eg, Fausto Sterling's criticisms of brain difference studies) go back more than two decades!

Beating a dead horse shows up in the Anderson paper several times, too, and this was one of my major criticisms of the O'Beirne interview in Salon: O'Beirne was proud to admit she was refusing to engage contemporary feminism, in favour of resuscitating controversies that -- if they were ever actual controversies -- feminism dealt with internally thirty years ago.

Taken together, these two points indicate a peculiar form of intellectual dishonesty. Anti-feminists refuse to engage the ideas of their contemporaries, preferring instead to attack (caricatures of) feminists of three decades ago. They regard their opponents not as dynamic people and movements, but instead as static words, dehumanized bundles of talking points. This might be appropriate if one is working on a historical figure -- we have to engage Kant's corpus, not Kant himself, or even Andrea Dworkin's corpus rather than Dworkin herself -- but downright intellectually dishonest (not to mention immoral) when it comes to living intellectuals.

Full disclosure: I'm acquainted with, and have taken courses from, Janet Kourany and Lynn Hankinson-Nelson, two feminist philosophers of science given favourable mention in this piece.

January 20, 2006



My avocado tree, newly sprouted, in the window of my apartment two years ago. The tree's now around 2 1/2 feet tall, and nowhere near as cute. But hardy! I don't know how it's put up with all the abuse and neglect I've showered on it since then -- being moved to a new place at least once a year, long stretches without being watered, northern Great Plains winters it was definitely not adapted for, even bug attacks.

I miss this apartment. Roomy and cheap, right across the street from the El, a short bike ride from Northwestern and Whole Foods, and just a few blocks from the lake. The neighborhood itself was about as exciting as the SB, but more popular areas of town were less than fifteen minutes away by El.
 Posted by Picasa

Echidne's wage gap series

Part I, laying out the basic terminology of the wage gap and running through a handful of basic theoretical explanations, is up. Long by blog standards (on the order of 6-7 pages if in normal paper form, I'd say), but extremely well-written, engaging, and informative.

January 19, 2006

Updated (as though you cared)

My webpage has been updated, with the seminar papers from last month. If you're interested in arguments for and against the existence of God, I'd recommend 'A new refutation of Anselm's ontological argument'.

Choice and the Embodied Mind

This one will be long.

I. The Embodied Mind

We are embodied minds, free-willed intellects intimately involved in the affairs of our material surroundings. Heidegger used the word Dasein for our existence and our 'nature' or 'essence' (Wesen), which can be broken into da, `there', and Sein, 'being. Being-there. We are minds, rational intellects, but always-already oriented towards the affairs of the world. This same theme of the embodied mind also plays critical roles in Nietzsche (a predecessor of Heidegger) and Foucault and Dworkin (and other feminist and queer theorists of our own lifetimes, intellectual heirs of Heidegger). Even Descartes or a mainstream Christian, with a substance dualist ontology and a strict divide between body and soul, where only the soul is the 'true' self, the Self-in-itself, must recognize that mind and body are closely woven together, at least temporarily. Feeling hungry or satiated, chilled or warm, or otherwise comfortable or uncomfortable, can influence the quality of our thinking; and we can 'psych' ourselves into better or worse physical performances. Thus, in thinking about the self, in contemplating personal identity, we can neglect neither the body nor the mind.

II. The Body

One's body is not merely a thing associated with the Self-in-itself (ie, the mind or soul), or even just another one of one's possessions, like one's bed or one's cat. The body is part of the Self-in-itself, at least in 'this life' or 'this world', if one believes in some flavour or another of metempsychosis. Our personal identity is as much tied into our bodies -- what we look like, how attractive we are, what physical activities we enjoy or dislike -- as our minds -- our spiritual and moral beliefs, our ideological affiliations, or intellectual pursuits. In Kantian terms, we are not just noumenal selves or minds, appearing as bodies in the phenomenal world of our surroundings. The noumenal and phenomenal 'selves' are two aspects of one 'thing', two ways of regarding the unitary Self-in-itself. This is true even if our phenomenal aspect is temporal and temporary but our noumenal self is eternal: at least for now, we ARE our bodies, as much as we ARE our minds.

Hence, bodily integrity is as sacrosanct as mental integrity. The right to autonomy, the founding principle of our legal and moral systems, must cover both body and mind equally. Freedom of speech -- autonomy of thought -- is on the same level as autonomy of body -- the right to choose what to do with one's body. This is not to be mistaken for the right to dispose of one's property as one sees fit, however. The state has the authority to regulate that right, or seize one's property by eminent domain. Rather, this is the higher right to autonomously determine one's own identity.

The state can regulate, forbid, or force the disposition of property when such regulation (&c.) proves to be in the overwhelming interest of society as a whole. The question of where to draw the line that establishes when 'society as a whole' has an 'overwhelming interest' is a crucial one, of course, but it is not at issue here. Only when one person's efforts at self-determination attempt to override another's do we recognize a legitimate role for the state in this arena.

(Despite my language, I am, as usual, not speaking from a legal perspective, but rather a foundational one.)

III. Choice

Access to safe and legal abortion intersects, in our society, a long list of determinations about one's identity. Just a few:
Shall I be a mother?
Shall I be a wife?
Where shall I live?
What career shall I pursue?
How ambitious shall I be?
What people shall I associate with?
What shall my love life be like?
What shall my family look like?
Shall I conform to traditional feminine norms?
Shall I conform to traditional norms of my race/ethnicity?
Shall I conform to traditional norms of my class?

The determination to abort, or to carry the pregnancy to term and put the child up for adoption, or to raise the child, does not set answers to these in stone. But each determination in one area informs the possiblities for others. Thus, limitations on abortion, like limitations on who one can marry or what clothes one can wear or what careers one can puruse, impose broad limitations on one's right to determine one's identity autonomously. As an embodied mind, a woman's options for reproduction play a crucial role in her determination of Herself-in-herself (sich an sich).

An artificial limitation on these options must therefore rise to meet the highest standard. A utilitarian argument -- that the state has an interest in regulating and requiring reproduction in the interest of maintaining the population, for example, or to increase the supply of babies for adoptive parents -- completely fails to meet this standard. Such an argument -- call it an 'eminent domain' argument -- views (female) bodies as property, baby-making machines whose disposition can be legally regulated, rather than as aspects of autonomous persons.

Eminent domain arguments therefore make use of at least one of two intellectually and morally bankrupt premises:
  1. Persons are minds only, not bodies.
  2. Women are not persons.

When Do You Stop Being a “Teen Mother”?

Excellent post at Feministe:

When people congratulate me for all I’ve done despite my circumstances I am reminded that I’ve only done what I would have been expected to do regardless considering my family history, class, and educational status. Sure, it was difficult. Sometimes it is still difficult, but I know no other kind of adult life. I had no other expectations for myself than to move through the college experience and get a degree — maybe another — and planned on doing so as long as I had the resources necessary to get me here.

Action alert

Here is a convenient form to look up your senators' DC phone numbers. Call today and encourage your senator to oppose the Alito confirmation.

Conservative paradoxes

Echidne talks about some common paradoxes, used by conservatives, to smear liberals, leftists, and other 'moonbats'. This one has always been my favourite:

The second has to do with the right's hatred of educated people and of intelligence. Hence, liberals are called ivory-tower professors and the academia is portrayed as one vast gigantic worm factory; the nest from which all liberals slither outwards. It's a bad thing to be smart in this country. This is where the Republican party funnels the subconscious hatred based on class: not against the true powers of the society, the corporations, but against those scruffy academics. How dare they make fifty thousand a year teaching! How dare they! And the wingnut answer is to destroy the universities and to replace them with trade schools where students will not be upset by anything they learn.

But at the same time liberals are really, really stupid. That is why they are liberals! I keep getting this one from trolls all the time, but even Tom deLay agreed with this idea in a radio interview I heard. Liberals are thick. They just don't get it that human nature is unalterably whatever the current conservative powers believe it should be and that only the few worthy ones can rule the masses which will be held down with religion.

January 18, 2006

New Carnival of Feminists is up

Feministe - Carnival of the Feminists 7
Features several articles apiece on video games, film, comics, and other sectors of the popular culture.

January 16, 2006

Sophistry. Nothing but a parade of sophistry.

Salon: My lunch with an antifeminist pundit. Okay, maybe it's not sophistry if she believes it, but then what is she? Delusional enough to fight the battles that roiled feminism internally three decades ago? (This will be long, so check out below the fold.)

I was surprised that so much of your book was about Gloria Feldt, Ellie Smeal, Catharine MacKinnon. Only at the very end do you mention someone like Rebecca Walker.

Are you asking about [why I didn't discuss] twenty- or thirtysomething feminism?

Yes. The MacKinnon quote about how "all heterosexual intercourse is rape" is old news. There has been a whole other wave of sex-positive feminism in part in response to ideas like that.

I know you'll do me the favor of talking about the book I wrote. And "What Does the Future of Feminism Hold?" ain't my book. I've been arguing with them since the '70s. That's where I got onboard. It's been 30 years. What has feminism wrought? It's not "What will the third wave look like?" Not "What are the promising movements in feminism?" It's "What has feminism wrought over the past 30 years?"

(Technically, it's been more like 140 years, and 'what does the third wave look like'.)

She might just be an idiot.

But I think it's fair to cite the AAUW [American Association of University Women]; I think it's fair to cite NOW; [criticizing stay-at-home mothers] is what they're all about! ... I say, "You've got to make your own choices for your own family." They don't say that. They say there's one responsible choice: You're hurting your child and yourself and women more broadly if you make the choice [to stay home]. So there is no choice for feminists. They denigrate motherhood.

From NOW's website.

Homemakers' Rights

NOW actively supports full rights for homemakers and recognition of the economic value of the vital services they perform for family and society. We also support legislation and programs reflecting the reality of marriage as an equal economic partnership.

But I suppose she was talking about the NOW of thirty years ago, not NOW today. Oops, in 1979 NOW passed a resolution calling for a Homemaker's Bill of Rights, a body of policies that would have facilitated women (and, presumably, men) moving between working at a conventional job and working as homemakers. Check out the final section of the 2005 Resolutions, too.

Here's another good one:

As for public policy, I hate to be a nerd. But who pays? The majority of families with young children get by on one full-time salary. High-income couples qualify for the dependent-care tax credit. The family struggling to get by on one full-time salary is arguably subsidizing the day-care choices, the career choices, of the more affluent couples.

I can't even parse this. I know it's English, but what the hell is she talking about? High-income couples are more likely to live in a more traditional marriage where she stays home with the kids because they can afford it. The working poor can't have her stay at home while he heads off to work every morning because, duh, they're the working poor. She's completely dismissive of people in this position later on.

I find this bit personally offensive:

Fine. But why is that parent necessarily the mother? Why can't we get used to the idea that it would be just as good for kids to be home with dads?

Who wants that? Why would we do that?

I know lots of men and women who --

I think women who really want that ought to find a guy who wants it. I don't see why there's any big movement needed for this. If some woman really feels very strongly that things ought to be divvied up that way I think she ought to do what that woman [Hirshman] suggested in the American Prospect: marry a starving artist or marry a liberal. Marry the guy who feels that way and do your own thing!

But social expectations make that --

Society will never, ever, ever, ever validate it. Ever. Ever. So, next question. [Because] now we're baying at the moon: Damn, life's unfair! Damn! Life's unfair!

Life's unfair and there's no room for progress?

Room for progress is limitless! We're talking about little trade-offs.

You're accepting that society won't ever validate a man who stays home! That's a big trade-off!

But it's not my opinion! Find me one. Find me one in the history of recorded mankind. You know what's funny to me? Whatever men do, as I understand it, is the status job in that society. Like if they gathered [instead of hunted] in some damn society, then gathering would be the status job because men were doing it.

But that's exactly the problem! To say that it's been true historically without exception doesn't make it right!

They care more about [status] than we do. But that's also why they care more about paid work. And obviously I'm talking broadly here. There are women who dance circles around guys, make them look like slugs. But [there are] recent stories about women being handed keys to the executive washroom and going, "Eh, I really don't want it!"

This last paragraph is what we call begging the question: we'll always be fully immersed in traditional gender roles because society will never validate exceptions because we'll always be fully immersed in traditional gender roles!

This is even more blatantly sexist:

You quote Karl Zinsmeister as describing how men need to be "lured" and "corralled" into being nurturers, using that quote in a passage about the centrality of men in the family. If fathers are so naturally central to the family, why do they need to be lured or corralled? Isn't that a darker view of men's impulses than you argue feminists have?

No, no. Impregnating women? Really natural! Hangin' around? Not necessarily natural! That was [the woman's] job. Her job was to hang around.

So then why do we need them? Why is it so bad -- in your view -- to have fatherless households?

Because there's tons kids learn from their fathers! Look what happens to boys who don't have fathers! They become hyper-male; they don't have male role models, they're joining gangs. They bristle against the matriarchy they're in. The data is incredible about fatherless boys.

I saw all the time as a mother of sons why boys need fathers. It would ruin my day if they didn't get an invitation to a first grade party! [My husband] would be like, "Kate, lighten up, they'll be fine." They really need fathers. And fathers have to feel needed.

The interviewer doesn't come off as all that intelligent herself. This is exactly as it's presented in the article:

But you and I come from a privileged place in that we have careers you can "take time off from." There are few jobs that offer that. What about women who want to protect themselves economically but don't have jobs you can take time off from?

So then maybe they won't. But opinion data tells us that they want to.

In your chapter about divorce you write, "when the traditional values of self-sacrifice and duty lose to conflict with the feminist doctrine of self-fulfillment and personal autonomy, children pay a very steep price." Is your take that people in unhappy marriages should stay in those marriages?

Barbara Walters only wishes she could ask such hard-hitting and insightful followups.

Jesus Christ. And now I'm all pissed off and won't be able to get enough sleep before the first day of classes tomorrow. Fan-fucking-tastic.

MLK, 2006

As you enjoy your day off -- or check in from work, those of you unlucky enough to get called in by your soulless corporate overlords -- take a moment to reflect on the ways the social movements of the '60s have changed the fabric of early-twenty-first century life. And how far it has yet to go.

The SB is divided into 'good' and 'bad' neighborhoods, naturally: the first few blocks just south of Notre Dame and the old houses nestled against the river are the 'good', and the slightly dilapidated homes tucked behind aging strip malls form the 'bad'. The faces of ND, the faces in the 'good' neighborhoods, the faces you'll see if you venture into one of the big-box stores -- which are inaccessible except by car, placed north of the incorporated part of the town, where land is cheap and taxes are low -- are overwhelmingly white, in the 75% range, with another 15% asian. But a walk or bike ride through the 'bad' neighborhoods reveals that this town is probably 30% black.

ND is a cultural icon here in the SB, at least among the white folks. Why are black folks so underrepresented? Religion probably plays a part -- surveys of students find upwards of 90% of undergrads here identify as Catholic, and, while lacking evidence, I'm fairly confident that black Americans are more likely to be Protestant than Catholic. But certainly the socioeconomics of race plays a role: how many families in the 'bad' neighborhoods can afford to send their children to one of the private schools? Indiana public schools, especially out here where property values are so low, are shitholes; you'd have to be incredibly motivated to graduate from a public high school and be sufficiently prepared for a school of Notre Dame's calibre. And that's assuming your parents could afford the $30k a year in tuition.

Much the same is true of Northwestern and the University of Chicago: ridiculously expensive, extremely prestigious, and overwhelmingly white. Community and city colleges, and the Universities of Indiana and Illinois, are left to pick up the slack: affordable, accessible to more than the top 5% of high school graduates, much more ethnically diverse, and consistently underfunded by the state that supports them. Indiana, at least, is trying to find a little more money to build its community college system, thirty years late.

An excellent long quotation from MLK here; do read the whole thing, or go out a pick up a copy of his Letter. MLK was not just a political activist, he was a student of both philosophy and theology, and it shows in these passages: a public intellectual the likes we have not seen in decades.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, and that when they fail to do this they become dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is merely a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, where the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substance-filled positive peace, where all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

He is sorely missed, even by those of us who never had the chance to know his work first-hand.

January 15, 2006

Way to go, Chile!

Some good news from South America:

Michelle Bachelet, who was elected Sunday as president of this male-dominated, prosperous and deeply religious nation of 16 million, is a woman and an agnostic, a guitar-strumming child of the 60's, a former exile who spent part of her childhood in the United States, and a physician who has never before held elective office.

Chile swung hard to the right under Pinochet and in the aftermath of the junta, and has trouble publicly acknowledging the full extent of the atrocities committed in the name of fighting off Communism.

That the Chileans elected a non-Catholic woman running under a general Socialist platform, who has three children by three different men, absolutely floors me.

Waiting for superman (a rant)

Of course, this piece deals more in sweeping declarations of general trends than quotes, so we ought to take it with a grain of salt, but the tone certainly illustrates the stupidity with which many prominent moderate Democrats have regarded the Alito nomination (and the war, and NCLB, and Bush v. Gore, and Whitewater, and the Contract with America, and supply-side economics and ...):

Even though Democrats thought from the beginning that they had little hope of defeating the nomination, they were dismayed that a nominee with such clear conservative views - in particular a written record of opposition to abortion rights - appeared to be stirring little opposition.

'Oh, if only there were someone, somewhere, who could save us from Bush packing the court with conservative ideologues! Some organization of moderates, liberals, and progressives -- like a party, only political! An organization that could work to oppose the conservative powergrab! Yes, an opposition political party, that's what we need!'

I, for one, couldn't agree more.

This is about the point where I start smacking my head against the wall, in hopes that the last ten years or so have been a dream:

Asked if he had any hope that Democrats could slow President Bush's effort to push the court to the right, [former Clinton administration official] Mr. Klain responded: "No. The only thing that will fix this is a Democratic president and more vacancies. It takes a long time to make these kinds of changes and it's going to take a long time to undo them."

In the last three elections, Bush and the Congressional Republicans have squeaked by with victories so close, there's been serious debate over who actually won. Five or six more people go with the GOP than with the Dems, and suddenly the Dems are powerless.

"You either need a Democratic president, a Democratic Senate or moderate Republicans who will break ranks when it's a conservative nominee," Mr. Schumer [D-NY, and member of the Judiciary Committee] said. "We don't have any of those three. The only tool we have is the filibuster, which is a very difficult tool to use, and with only 45 Democrats, it's harder than it was last term."

Huh? So, Monday morning, floor of the Senate, DC phone book. Or hey, better yet, start reading all the crazy-ass dissenting opinions Alito has written. The man thinks a husband ought to have the same legal authority to deny his wife medical treatment as his children, and the justice he's about to replace smacked him down specifically for that, for chrissakes.

Yes, the majority probably will try to shut you up, and will probably ultimately be successful. I'll concede that the odds have been against the Dems on this one pretty much from the beginning. But your job right now isn't to pass single-payer health care and raise the minimum wage; your job is to stop the Republicans from getting away with shit like appointing Alito to the Supremes. If you can't get the first two done, oh well, more than we could've hoped, not your fault. But if you drop the ball on the second, if you don't even try to make a serious effort and stand up for what you believe, you've failed. Failed the people you represent, failed the job they gave you, and failed morally. We're left to ask ourselves (yet again) why we should support such tragically incompetent and weak-willed representatives.

And, you know, you forgot the other tool, which I guess isn't surprising since you frittered it away this past week: confirmation hearings! Where were questions like this:

“Is your mother right when she says that you personally strongly oppose a woman’s right to choose abortion? What do you personally think of gay rights? What do you personally think of affirmative action?”

He couldn’t say, “Well, I can’t give you those answers because it will come before me.” No, no, no, no. You’ve told us that your personal views are irrelevant. We think they’re relevant, so give us the answers. I think it’s a very, very hard question for him to duck.

You wanted to pin down his personal views, expose the conservative slimeball for what he is, you make him express his conservative views. And you don't verbally meander for nine minutes first, then let him obfuscate about his wacko beliefs. 'Judge Alito, could you explain the philosophy of the 'unitary executive', and how it relates to your personal beliefs about the balance of power between the branches of government?' 'Judge Alito, in this opinion you wrote ..., which sounds an awful lot to me like saying husbands ought to have the same legal authority over their wives as they do over their children, and Justice O'Connor seems to agree when she writes .... Could you elaborate and explain this, please, for me and for my fellow Americans, who do not have your fine legal training?'

Back to the Times ...

The panel also advised them, participants said, that Democratic senators could oppose even nominees with strong credentials on the grounds that the White House was trying to push the courts in a conservative direction, a strategy that now seems to have failed the party.

A strategy only fails if you use it and it doesn't work. The Senate Democrats' strategy seems to have been 'grandstand, then roll over and cry'.

Asked how they might stop the shift, Stephanie Cutter, a senior Democratic Senate aide, sighed and responded: "Win. Win in 2006."

No-one is going to save the Congressional Democrats. 'The People' are not going to swoop down from the sky in November and give them magical powers. The leaders of the Dems are OUR superwomen and supermen, chosen to fight the conservative swell, and it is their job to do that to their utmost power with the resources they have now. The odds are against them, and they will probably lose more than win, in the short term. But that does not obviate their duty to try.

January 14, 2006

We wanted to make christmas cookies

We had never made christmas cookies before. We also didn't have that many cookie cutters.
Oh well, we tried.
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January 13, 2006

Who's the winner in the battle over health care

An interesting front seems to be developing:

The Maryland legislature passed a law Thursday that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states.

Responsible legislators realize their constituents ought to have access to decent health care. Sophists call sane single-payer health plans 'socialized medicine', so we can't even get that going in states such as Oregon or Washington yet. So the only other option is to make employers pay for health insurance. This is ultimately a problem in three ways:
  1. Small employers and self-employers (say, my mom) are either exempted (meaning employees have no health insurance) or have to struggle under the additional burden of outrageous insurance costs.
  2. Rather than eliminating the complete waste that is the HMO bureaucracy, this strategy simply enables them to run 'administrative fees' (the primary cost of skyrocketting health care costs) higher and higher.
  3. As #2 gets worse, employers find health care costs eating further and further into their bottom line.

This could develop in two ways. Either more and more employees are hired only part-time, making them ineligible for subsidized health insurance (just drawing out the conflict) or business groups realize it's in their own financial interests to join with liberal and labour organizations to lobby for single-payer health care and we see some real progress.

I'd like to be optimistic, and think that the latter will happen before too much of the former.

Dating advice for feminists

Hugo has periodically thought out loud (on paper? in aether?) about putting together a list of 'dating tips for (pro-)feminist men', but never really followed through for various reasons. The biggest reason is probably that you really only need one piece of advice:

She's a person, not a plaything. Respect her, flirt with her, let things happen, and they will.

Of course, putting together a more detailed list can be amusing for both the author and audience. I'll expand on some of the points under that link under the fold.

5) If we go out for dinner on the first date, I will not let you pay. If you really want, I will let you leave the tip, but that's all. This is not meant to imply that you can't afford to pay or that I expect something from you: it's just the gentlemanly thing to do. If you disagree with this, let's talk about it: it'll make for good dinner conversation. But I still won't let you pay.

Okay, so the guy who wrote this probably doesn't call himself (pro-)feminist. That's fine. It's clear from #6 that he respects women, wants to get to know them before getting to know their boobs, and that's really all this feminist is going to insist on (despite diatribes to the contrary).

Personally, I'd suggest that whoever picked the restaurant (or whataever the venue happens to be) pays. It just seems fair -- there's nothing 'gentlemanly' or 'ladylike' involved. But don't make this grounds for a confrontation; picking a fight usually doesn't make such a great impression. If you duck into the bathroom just after the cheque's arrived, and it's still sitting there five minutes later, go ahead and pick it up.

8) I will not have sex with you on the first date. It's quite likely that I won't have sex with you on the second, third, or fourth date either. Unless I trust you and feel something for you, I don't want to sleep with you, and it will take a few dates before we get to that point. For those of you who can jump into bed with a stranger right away, I don't think that you're inferior to me in any way: I'm not one of those judgmental moralizing types. In fact, I'll admit that at times I'm envious of you. But that's not how I am, and you've got to be true to yourself (or to put it more colloquially, you've gotta keep it real).

I have to side with Hugo: sex between near strangers strikes me as kind of morally sketchy. I don't think this is just a Christian hatred of the body thing; for a long time, I've felt there's something to MacKinnon and Dworkin's analysis of the erotic in patriarchy. I do believe they're wrong in one critical respect, and a straight couple can create a space in which the erotic (even with differences of power drawn along traditional gender lines) can be liberated from the patriarchal; but this can only be negotiated with a partner you know, not with a stranger.

On the other hand, if you think Dworkin and MacKinnon are full of it, I don't see any reason two consenting adults can't get it on in a cheap motel a block away from the bar where they hooked up.

12) Once we have reached the point where I can call you my girlfriend, I will try my best to rearrange my schedule so that I can spend time with you. I have some hobbies that take up quite a bit of my time, but I will make sure not to neglect you.

This goes for 15, 16, and 18, as well. Kant argues that building a relationship (he's talking about marriage and friendship, but we'll pretend he means a twenty-first century thing instead) is about intermingling two lives, taking up what the other find's important and interesting and significant as both one's own and a joint interest. Thus, I'd expect the author to be looking for a woman who's herself interested in martial arts, or a professional engineer, or who would take a couple lessons or read some books to see if she's interested, to at least 'try out' his hobbies and interests. I'd also expect him to enthusiastically try out some of hers.

Personally, I don't need a girlfriend who loves to talk philosophy, loves to cook, loves being outdoors, AND loves City of Heroes. But, without two or three of those, it's going to feel more like just fooling around than falling in love.

16) I will want you to come to temple with me at some point if we've gotten serious. I'm a practicing Reform Jew (although I'm only half-Jewish: my dad's Catholic), and Judaism is something that's important to me.

This one I want to comment on personally. I'll try not to rant. If religion is a serious thing, and there's a deep incompatibility, the relationship needs to end right there. Suppressing a fundamental gap is just going to lead to an incredibly nasty breakup.

17) If I mention to you that I think another woman is attractive, I will immediately follow that by saying that she's an ugly hag compared to you, and you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.

And some equivalent ego-stroking in the opposite direction is not unexpected, either. Plus, this shouldn't be limited to looks -- presumably the woman you're dating is not a model or porn star, and has sources of self-esteem besides her looks. Encourage her to get a photograph or two shown at a local gallery, or talk her up as she's training hard the last few weeks before the marathon, or what have you. (Ten Ra points for whoever gets the film reference in that last sentence.) Remember, she's a person, like you, and like you, she places value on things in her life besides her attractiveness.

I suspect the biggest conundrum for (pro-)feminist men is how to flirt. You can't sidle up to some scantily-clad woman in a bar, make a handful of crude comments and grope suggestively while talking to her cleavage, and honestly call yourself (pro-)feminist. For example:
(At a bar)
WRONG: 'Wow, your boobs looks great in that top!'
RIGHT: 'Wow, that top really compliments your eyes!'

(At the gym)
WRONG: 'Wow, your ass looks great in those running shorts! I couldn't take my eyes off you!'
RIGHT: 'Wow, you were really flying around the track! I couldn't take my eyes off you!'

(At work or school)
WRONG: 'Wow, you're looking HOT today! Want to get a drink after work?'
RIGHT: 'Wow, you look really lovely today. Want to get a drink after work?'

WRONG: 'Wow, your boobs drive me wild, girl.' (On or before the first date.)
RIGHT: 'Wow, your boobs drive me wild, girl.' (After her bra has been tossed across the room.)

Of course, let me encourage our female readers to comment: What have I gotten completely wrong? What have I left out?

Edit: I just remembered The Countess wrote a piece last month with some advice of her own.

January 12, 2006

Just how bad is Alito?

When the Times says Alito is 'disturbing', you know there's something really fucked up about him.

Like the fact that he called Robert Bork 'one of the most outstanding nominees' of the 20th century. No, seriously, Alito said that.

Bookstore, round I

  1. Kant, Critique of judgement
  2. Kant, Inaugural dissertation
  3. Kant, Religion within the boundaries of mere reason
  4. Goedel, Collected works, vol. 1
  5. Davis, ed, The undecidable
  6. Longino, Science as social knowledge
  7. Kourany, ed, Science as social knowledge

and, of course, because I am hopeless:
  1. Leibniz, Philosophical essays,
  2. Hochschild, The second shift
  3. Gould, Rocks of ages
  4. Boonin, A defense of abortion

Only marginally worse

Ampersand has a valid point:

Without overturning Roe, they will attempt to pass new laws that will make it in practice impossible for many or most women to get abortions. And most of these laws will be 'stealth' abortion bans, laws designed to seem moderate or reasonable on the surface (and therefore protecting Republican congressfolks from voter backlash) while actually banning a wide range of abortion procedures. (The Federal 'partial birth' abortion (PBA) ban is a classic example of a 'stealth' ban; they marketed it as applying only to a single uncommon procedure performed post-viability, but the PBA ban's text could cover a wide range of procedures, mostly pre-viability).

And if the Republicans continue to control Congress, many of those laws will happen at the federal level, meaning that even abortion-rights meccas like New York state will be subject to the new regulations. Contrary to what many people say, the destruction of Roe (whether it's actually overturned, as Amanda expects, or instead whittled down to a shell, as I expect) will not mean it'll be up to the individual states to decide.

Effectively, rather than a few abortion-legal bastions on the coast, the entire map will be red. Clinics that perform abortions will still be inaccessible to all but the wealthy -- instead of being unable to afford to drive ten hours to the next state, they'll be unable to afford a quick trip up to Canada.

It seems the difference between these two possibilities is whether or not the lower-middle-class populations of California and New York are affected in the same way as the lower-middle-class populations of the midwest. While the former populations are large, it's really just more of the same as far as the latter is concerned.

January 11, 2006

Powerful women?

A short piece on the way women are portrayed as 'powerful' in most videogames. Third of a series, evidently, though I havent' read the rest before.

Over and over again, the ads and the games they sell build up women of strength – both physical and mental – only to ascribe that power to a facet of their sexuality. It turns their power into something pornographic. Into something that will titillate the assumedly male players in order to give them the thrill of controlling a powerful woman and the aspect of a woman that supposedly makes her powerful: her sexuality.

The second part is rather interesting, as it focusses on the way women are portrayed in World of Warcraft. Interestingly, while there is no functional difference between male and female characters in City of Heroes, and certainly the culture of the game is vastly more female-friendly than WOW (at least by reputation), there are still certain respects in which things are lacking.

Little Bit More

Evidently at CES lots of PS3 talk took place and the talk is that the thing is going to be between $500-$700 when it comes out. Obviously this is all conjecture, but damn, that's a lot of money. Moreso if the 360 manages a price around the launch and the Revolution launches cheaper than both.

And on a quick note here's a preview of Galactic Civilizations II, which is the sequel to one of the best space conquest games of the last several years.

Hopped up on the C

First chance for Ra points of the new year! 10 points if you can name the reference.

Anyways, I brought a French press:

This remarkable device allows me to consume 32 ounces of high-quality tea within an hour of awaking. Tea averages around 50 mg of caffeine per 7 oz cup, which means I'm getting ~250 mg, about 2 1/2 shots of espresso. And I'm sensitive to caffeine: a medium-size latte tends to make me feel rather light-heated and anxious. My mom has heart palpatations if she drinks too much regular coffee.

This was a fantastic plan. Goodbye sleep, hello anxiety!

Anyways, I'm going to try to get some Republic blogging in later (yeah, right, like I've ever followed through on that kind of promise), and in the meantime here are some links, all in the spirit of Blogging for Choice, if not the name. We have Drew, Bitch Ph.D, Echidne, and Pseudo-Adrienne. Go forth and read, my minions!
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Misc. Links

Evidently in addition to making a really crappy movie, Dr. Uwe Boll has a distribution company that mistakenly printed 5,500 extra prints of the movie and shipped them to theaters that had not requested them and had no intention of showing the film. Evidently this little snafu will cost in the neighborhood of $27 million. And the movie made around $1 million on its opening weekend. Yikes!

Evidently Sony "showed" the PS3 at the recent CES trade show. From the looks of what they're showing at this point they will never make a spring release in Japan, which means they won't make the late summer/early fall North America release that was the previous target. It's still possible, I suppose, that they could push the release dates closer together and potentially do an early fall Japan release and a Christmas release in North America, but that could result in serious hardware shortages and probably would mean few games at launch. Still, the longer Sony waits the more time the 360 has to get anticipated games out, build a big install base of customers, and prepare themselves for a price drop to coincide with the PS3's launch. We'll really see how this is going to play out at E3 this year.

January 10, 2006

Go Indiana!

I often hate this state. Via feministing.com:

A bill filed this week in the Indiana House would make abortion illegal--even for victims of rape and incest. How lovely.

House Bill 1096, proposed by Rep. Troy A. Woodruff, would only allow for abortion if a woman’s health or life would be “permanently impaired.” The bill would make it a felony to perform any other abortions; doctors who did could face up to eight years in prison.

This is, of course, being deliberately done so that the Roberts court ('Now with new Alito flavour!') can overturn Roe. Fantastic!

I (grudgingly) <3 ebay

For one thing, it let me spend a week here:


Why? One of my dad's new brothers-in-law is rather wealthy. Venture capitalist wealthy. Venture capitalist who gave ebay a healthy chunk of its startup money wealthy. Among many houses and vehicles, they have a 7,000 square foot 'cabin' on the ski slope (you can see one of the runs in the lower right there) in Park City, Utah (near where several Olympic events were held, and, in Summers, the home of the Sundance Film Festival) and a private jet.

Frankly, it's fucking surreal.

Made even more surreal by spending 13 hours taking Southwest and a bus back to my 850 square foot ugly-ass yellow plastic siding house in South Bend, IN.

The other thing is that I bought a replacement display for my laptop for $225 including tax and shipping. Dell wanted twice that -- before tax and shipping -- for a used part that they may or may not have somewhere in their warehouse. Because the hinges broke and the warranty expired six months ago. So, saving money is good.

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Abortion saves lives


Via Pandagon

Your name is Emily and it is June, 2009. You've just finished your sophomore year of high school, one of the smartest kids in your class, and your voice teacher says you're one of the most talented young women she's worked with in her thirty years. You're looking forward to double-majoring in engineering and voice at a highly regarded university in the nearest major city in a couple years.

Except that school is Tulane, the nearest major city is New Orleans, you live in Louisiana 15 months after Alito cast the tie-breaking vote in the Supreme Court, overturning Roe, and you're three weeks late.

Your adventures continue below the fold.

A month ago your boyfriend (he's such a sweetheart, you <3 him 4evR!) took you to his junior prom, then to a hotel room for the night afterwards. Things happened, as such things will, things you were ready for and thoroughly enjoyed, except that your abstinence-only sex ed meant you'd never so much as seen a condom. He took himself out before he finished, because he didn't want either of you to get 'into trouble' (like I said, he's a decent guy in this loserville), but something seems to have gone wrong. The EPT he buys for you two towns away (that's almost an hour, each away) confirms it: you're pregnant.

You can't tell your parents. Neither of them have so much as acknowledged your older brother's existence in the three years since he was caught making out with his boyfriend in one of the bad practice rooms before school, though they did at least pay to have the broken arm your daddy inflicted on him fixed.

You can't have an abortion. Even if you could afford it, the nearest clinic that performs them is in Nashville, a twelve-hour drive away; your boyfriend would be happy to drive you there and back, but that would mean getting away from two sets of parents, secretly, for at least three days, plus the extra costs of gas, food, and a motel room.

You can keep the pregnancy, of course. But then your parents will still find out, meaning you'll neither need to give the baby up for adoption or find a way to make a living. The first option's a crap shoot, of course: who knows what kind of parents it will get, if it doesn't just spend 18 years churned through the bureaucratic grinder before being declared an 'adult' and legally emancipated from the state.

Raising the child yourself is probably the only decent option left to you. Which means dropping out of high school, 'moving' out on your own, and taking a job at either a fast food joint or Wal-Mart (there being no other jobs in your post-NAFTA small town economy), hopefully scraping enough together each month to afford all three of food, rent, and utilities. You'll get by, and you'll certainly love your child. But, every once in a while, you'll sit at the rickety card table in your kitchen after the dishes are done, sipping a cup of coffee, and wondering where you'd be if you'd gotten to go to college.

But such are the wages of sin, or so the preacher at the megachurch your parents go to every Sunday would say: what else do young women deserve for fifteen minutes of making love with their sweethearts but having their fondest dreams and desires dashed?

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January 09, 2006


Well, as much as I'm sure you all have missed me, I must say that it's always a bit depressing to come back from a very fulfilling vacation and get back into the old habits. I hope you'll be patient with me as I ease back into reading a dozen or more websites a day and distilling that into something worth, or not depending on how interesting you find me, posting. I watched some of the opening statements today in the Alito confirmation. He's certainly not a John Roberts, but he did a decent job of seeming likable, which seems to be important these days.

Anyway, the teaser for Clerks 2 is up here.

A Long, Hard Review

A Critical analysis of Fight Club, long one of my favourite films. Warning: the analysis is thoroughly steeped in Critical Theory, which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't involve large dollops of psychoanalysis, which I rank only slightly under Ayn Rand in the Offensively Bad Philosophy hierarchy (note that the author is a professor of English). I'd suggest skimming those sections, reading for the conclusions rather than the way the author gets there.

These probably aren't related

ScAlito's nomination hearings start today, and the display on my laptop has come completely disconnected, meaning using my computer right now is a pain in the ass.

January 08, 2006

Tomales point


Tomales point, CA, this past July.
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January 03, 2006

I know, I know

"Where are you, Noumena? We so miss your long-winded feminist screeds and futile, jargon-heavy attempts to wax philosophical!" is what you're all saying. Well, you're all liars. You've been busy making cookies with your mom / getting trashed with your friends / sitting at home plotting revenge against your enemies with your cat. In fact, you've probably enjoyed the time away from me.

Well, too bad. I start three days of travel (don't ask) today, and soon I will be back in Indiana, ready to force you all to read stuff like the following:
  1. Not one, but two posts on The Second Sex and the assholitry of Random House.
  2. A somewhat negative review of King Kong / the jumping up and down some sexist idiots are doing to the gender roles portrayed by a woman and a CGI ape.
  3. Something you should go and read right now. No, seriously, you'll want to read that one (via Echidne).

Prepare yoself, suckas!

January 02, 2006

Conservatism = authoritarianism

The wiretap scandal (if it's not a scandal yet, wait until civilization restarts tomorrow) and its apologists has, I think, offered a great deal of support to my earlier thesis, that contemporary conservatism has become the intellectual heir to the likes of Thomas Hobbes' authoritarianism.

The following, from Jon Carroll's gloss on the pro-wiretap arguments, is precisely the logic Hobbes uses to claim the people can never have a grievance against their sovereign. I don't know whether Carroll's more directly paraphrasing Hobbes or some wiretapping apologist, but it sounds like it could have come out of either situation.

The president was elected by the people. They chose him; therefore he represents the will of the people. The people would never act against their own interests; therefore, the president can never act against the best interests of the people.