Monday, May 16, 2005

So much to look forward to

Snippets of our dinner conversation tonight, on observing an elderly lady at a nearby table thoroughly enjoying herself:
me: I think senility must be often confused with a lack of inihibition.

husband: Ayup. I'm looking forward to it. ...And so, for that matter, is your dad.
Anyone who has ever met my father or my husband can attest that the next 60 years or so could get really interesting...

JP, Saint

CBC online is running an in-depth article on the Catholic Church's process to declare a new saint. Hidden away in the article was this nugget:
"The move to have the late Pope John Paul II canonized quickly got an early boost from his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, who waived the five-year waiting period that would traditionally be required before the formal launch of proceedings."

[Emphasis added]
I was curious about this eventuality when news coverage on the pope's funeral proceedings mentioned in passing the noticable absense of decay of the body on display...

Pope John Paul II declared war on women, declared war on the victims of AIDS, declared open season on homosexuals, shut down South America's liberation theologiests, and turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children in the church.

If that's what it takes to be a saint, I can do without saints, thank you very much.

Who wants to bet that Ratzinger makess ure the cannonization process, which normally "can often take decades or even centuries," gets seriously fast-tracked for JP?

Rat Bastards.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Fairfax County Democratic Committee (FCDC) is hiring

FCDC is looking to hire a a staffer to maintain the FCDC office during its office hours, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 3 pm, and train new volunteers in FCDC operations.

Requirements for the position are:

  • Maintain the FCDC HQ and train new volunteers
  • Must be computer literate, but need not write any software programs:
    • Be able to receive emails, send email to individuals and group lists;
    • Maintain email lists;
    • Maintain address file on computer (for subscriptions to The Democrat);
    • Maintain financial e-files;
    • Extract reports from existing database;
    • Enter/delete data to update various files;
  • Additional responsibilities
    • Be able to accept directions/instructions from the FCDC Chair and translate them into action.
    • Be able to run and do minor trouble shooting of office equipment such as copier, fax machine, etc.
    • Maintain membership file and update various hard copy files and e-mail membership list.
    • Receive and take care of incoming US mail. Write correspondence when needed.
    • Be aware of FCDC activities, processes, procedures and participate in those activities.
    • Be able to locate, read various manuals to find out answers to questions regarding FCDC operations.

FCDC is a campaign office open to the public. Therefore, the Operations Coordinator is expected to dress accordingly, be polite, smile, help generate a good image for the Committee, and be welcoming to all who come to volunteer.

To apply for this position, send your resume to FCDC Chair, Ginny Peters, at the address or fax number below, or email


Friday, May 13, 2005

Bolton Spin Roundup

What is the political impact of how the Senate Committee handled John Bolton's nomination to the UN today?

It all depends on who you ask...

US Media
  • ABC says: Panel Sends Bolton Nomination to Senate

  • CNN says: Bolton Nomination Heads to Senate

  • CBS says: Panel Sends Bolton to Full Senate

  • Fox says: Split Panel Sends Bolton Vote to Senate

  • MSNBC says: Nomination of Bolton Heads to Full Senate
  • On the whole, my impression from reading these headlines (not the articles, mind you, simply the headlines) is that the Bolton nomination is making progress, moving forward, steamrolling ahead, proceeding according to (Bush's) plan. Only Fox's headline, oddly, hints that there may be a fly in the ointment. Otherwise, the impression is that the nomination juggernaut is bulldozing onwards.

    But what does the international press have to say?
  • Canada's CBC says: Bush suffers blow on choice of UN Envoy

  • The UK's BBC offers *three* articles (plus a none-too-flattering Profile on John Bolton):
  • 1. Bush Pressured to Drop UN Choice
    2. Bush Bruised by Bolton Controversy
    3. Pundits See Bolton Row Escalating
  • And, the UK Guardian offers a delightful one-two punch:
    1. Rebuff for Bush on UN Envoy
    2. And, calling it like it is: Bush Donor Set to be Envoy to UN
  • Bear in mind that the reason headlines are important are that most people will never read the articles. He who writes the headlines controls the spin. (I use "he" advisedely, since most people writing headlines today are, still, men.)

    In reading these sets of headlines from two different sources, we read two significantly different narratives. In the American news version (yes, that would be the Republican-owned, corporate media), Bolton's nomination has no connection to Bush, and, it is on the whole moving along swimmingly. In the Canadian and UK versions, the story is all about Bush, about the political flack around Bush's choice, and the damage Bush is taking--as well as the rea$on$ for Bolton's nomination.

    American news porn/infotainment/GOP propaganda should not be confused with news, as the term is understood in international circles. Constant exposure to American corporate media desensitizes even astute, informed readers to the constant subtext of "Republican victory is inevitable; resistance is futile"--regardless of the actual facts of the story, or the likely outcome of the events in question.

    Let this be a reminder to add some fact-fiber to your news diet: tune out the depressing din of the Republican disinformation machine, and turn on to international news coverage when you want to know what is really going on.

    24-Carrot Blog Posts

    Melinama at Pratie Place has a spectacular post up on the secret life of carrots.

    In addition to odd carrot facts, and a debunk on the mutton-dressed-as-lamb phenonmenon of faux baby carrots, she lists strange foreign sayings about carrots, including this one from Paul Cezanne:
    "The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution."
    May Monseiur Cezanne be correct.

    Keep your eyes peeled in the produce department, and go read Melinama's whole crunchy carrot post .

    Quote of the Day

    After listening to James Dobson and his evangelical Christian colleagues talk about controlling the federal judiciary through the Republican majority in Congress—to the extent of punishing judges and defunding courts—one can’t help recalling events in 1930s Germany. The National Socialists removed judges who didn’t go along with the party program. Law became what the party said it was.

    The Christian Century Editorial
    Via Jesus Politics

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Quote of the Day

    I am telling you: evolution does not work. How do I know? Because I did not see it with my own eyes, and I was watching! Nothing ever changes. Not a little bit. Horrowitz was just as crazy 6000 years ago when he gave the apple to Adam and Eve as he is today.

    Coturnix, at Science and Politics
    Go read the whole, very informative post, on evolution, world events, and aging.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Paul Lynde in the corner for a win

    Arianna Huffington's celeb group blog, The Huffington Post, aka The Huffingblog, is now live...

    ...and, frankly, I'm disappointed.

    The lady's got clout. She could have aimed higher.

    I know that I'm not her target audience--she seems to be fighting for Oprah viewers, frankly; non-politico's who will be drawn to the star power and maybe pick up some political insight along the way.

    Or, at least, I'm giving her credit that using big names to preach outside the choir must be her strategy.

    Two big disappointments:
    1. The blog roll of celebs plus A-list bloggers is...boringly predictable, and predictably boring. Wonkette? Volokh? Puleeze. I was hoping she's send some linky love where it could do some good, and shine light on great bloggers in the trenches who deserve the attention, like abortion clinic days, Republic of T , Bag News Notes, or Latino Pundit. Even if she asked *her* bloggers to pick a favorite blog for the blogroll, that would be great. But her blogroll looks like a randsom selection of high-traffic blogs. It's like getting sports socks for Christmas.

    2. No Comments, no outbound links, no trackbacks. Quel dommage. For me, with rare exceptions, comments in particular make the blog.

      celeb posts + comments = blog

      celeb posts - comments = Hollywood Squares

      You know?

    Ah well. I suppose Ms. Huffington's latest effort will thrive even without my almighty endorsement. ;) I hope good comes of it...and I hope it gets bloggier as it goes.

    Quote of the Day

    “It’s like TV Land going to Auschwitz and proposing to erect a statue of Colonel Klink.”

    -- John Carr, a former member of the Salem Historic District Commission
    Re: TV Land's intention to "donate" a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery's tv character "Samantha" in Salem, Mass--the timing of which would "coincidentally" tie-in with promotions for the new Bewitched movie based on the 60's/70's tv series

    The Apocalyptic Historian

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    While we're talking in-group/out-group

    Can we extend this concept to gender privilege as well?
    I want to be critical of is this idea that blackness is the opposite of white privilege. Because the true opposite of white privilege is the dismantling of white privilege."
    - Adam Mansbach
    Via Ratboy's Anvil

    In case you didn't connect the dots

    The recent flurry of blog posts is thanks to the latest resurgence (insurgence?) of my insomnia.

    The insomnia is now down from 4 weeks a month to roughly 10 days...which is a grand improvement.

    This month, the insomnia seems to be exacerbated by allergies (I can't sleep, and when I'm awake I have a blinding headache and light sensitivity)--very likely because Richmond, Virginia has rocketed up the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American's worst cities list from #63 to #7. (Thanks to Genia at Blogs by Women for the link.)

    So cross your fingers, and hopefully all the posting will stop soon. ;)


    Monday, May 09, 2005

    Encourage the Chix[/outgroup], please

    Via Hilde at Gender & Computing, I came across this great HowTo on encouraging women to use Linux, put together by LinuxChix.

    Forgive me for bringing up the forbidden topic, but their discussion of why there are so few women in Linux and what to do and what not to do to encourage women...sounded an awful lot like the latest round of discussion about women in blogging. (Perhaps, most particularly, the "But I don't do that! section.)

    Take a look for yourself:
    2. Why are there so few women in Linux?
    2.1. Women are less confident
    2.2. Women have fewer opportunities for friendship or mentoring
    2.3. Women are discouraged from an early age
    2.4. Computing perceived as non-social
    2.5. Lack of female role models
    2.6. Games, classes aimed towards men
    2.7. Advertising, media say computers are for men
    2.8. Life-work balance more important to women
    2.9. Reasons women avoid Linux specifically
    3. Do's and don't's of encouraging women in Linux
    3.1. Don't tell sexist jokes
    3.2. Do protest sexist jokes
    3.3. Don't call people bitches
    3.4. Do show some respect
    3.5. Don't take the keyboard away
    3.6. Do give directions and explain them clearly
    3.7. Don't make sexual advances towards women
    3.8. Do act friendly
    3.9. Don't complain about the lack of women in computing
    3.10. Do encourage women in computing
    3.11. Don't stare and point when women arrive
    3.12. Do treat new arrivals politely
    3.13. Don't treat women stereotypically
    3.14. Do treat women as normal people
    3.15. Don't criticize too much
    3.16. Do compliment
    3.17. Don't invite only male speakers
    3.18. Do ask women to speak
    3.19. Don't micro-specialize
    3.20. Do discuss broader topics
    3.21. Don't make your meetings hard to attend
    3.22. Do make meetings easy to attend
    3.23. Don't make new people feel unwelcome
    3.24. Do help new people get involved
    3.25. Don't underestimate girlfriends or wives
    3.26. Do treat girlfriends and wives as independent people
    It is a little sad that "don't stare and point" and "don't make sexual advances" needs to be pointed out...but, yes, they need to be pointed out.

    In fairness, the arguements apply quite well to encouraging women into most computer-fields, or other male-dominated field--or to any other in-group/out-group situation. In Japan I often experienced the situation, professionally and socially, of being the only out-group ethnicity in the room, and yes, "don't stare and point" would have made a big difference there, too. (As some of you may know, the word for foreigner in Japanese literally parses out as "outside-country-person," or the shorter form, "outside person." In Japan, notions of in-group and out-group are hard coded into the language.) Translate women to "outgroup" and the unspoke "men" to "ingroup" and this list makes a good starting point as a diveristy practices checklist.

    Am I a Linux Chic? [What is the singular of "chix?"] Not yet, not really, but I'd like to be. We usually have at least a couple of Linux boxen in the house at any given time, and I fiddle with them, but I haven't tackled it systematically yet. My current tech projects are writing free-hand html with Html-kit*, and learning the basics of image manipulation with The Gimp. Linux is somewhere further down the list. And I'm bookmarking the LinuxChix site for when I make it that far down the list.

    I'm curious: how many of you, male or female, recognize your own experiences with computers or blogging on this list?

    And how many of you have been the outsider at an event where the in-group made an effort reach out like the how-to list suggests?

    Quote of the Day

    Via Simply Appalling:
    [To the news media]

    Your continual focus on, and reporting of, missing, young, attractive white women not only demeans your profession but is a televised slap in the face to minority mothers and parents the nation over who search for their own missing children with little or no assistance or notice from anyone.
    Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole

    No (wo)man's land

    Tokyo is now offering women-only train cars in an effort to curb, you guessed it, the groping of female passengers.

    I appreciate the good intentions at play here. More so than you might guess: I used to work in Osaka, and I have been groped on the subway, in a car that was packed so tightly I couldn't even turn around and see who the guy was. I did, however, manage to claw his hand pretty badly. (And I didn't cut my nails again for months.) I was surprised at what an invasive, upsetting experience it was.

    And yet...I am concerned about what amounts to segregation.

    It's like Tokyo is saying, we just can't manage to make these boys behave, so we'll give the ladies' "special cars" for their protection...we'll segregate them for their own good.

    Does this mean if the ladies' car is full, and a woman gets on a "mixed" car and is groped, she was "asking for it" by going on the pervert car?

    Women's lives are already segregated, in time and space. We have a defacto curfew--there are places you can not go, safely, as a woman on your own after dark. There are places you can not go safely, as a woman, ever.

    And we are told implicitly and explicitly that these are "free misogyny zones,' where the laws of the land are not enforced, do not hold sway, do not protect us--so if we wilfully transgress any of the invisible temporal and spatial boundaries that delineate "women's space" from "public space," we're in no (wo)man's land, we're on our own, we're asking for it, we'll get what we deserve.

    It feels like GOP free speech zones--a tacit admission that outside of a handful of designated spaces, your legal rights hold no weight.

    Tokyo's move to segregate women feels like a bandaid solution, like a token gesture at public safety.

    I'm frustrated that I can't quite put my finger on why this irks me, and I'm not articulating well what I'm feeling.

    But this worries me.

    Sunday, May 08, 2005

    Don't hate me because I can fly

    Via Leimodnu at Reason and Radical, I just viewed a clip of interviews with the new Superman movie FX team on FX innovations for making people fly.

    I've done it.


    I can fly.

    Back in 2003, just before we moved to Virgina, the husband and I went up to Banff for the Paddy Crean International Stage Combat Workshop--a solid week of 9 am to 10 pm, backbreaking, gut-wrenching stage combat classes with some of the top names in the industry.

    The lineup included a wirework class taught by Tim Drnec of FX West, with one session co-taught by Eric and Debbie Chen of the National Wushu Training Center. (You may not recognize their names, but you've seen Tim's spydercam work in Spiderman and Stuart Little, and you've seen Eric as Jet Li's stunt double in The One.)

    Tim rigged us up in harnesses and taught us It was amazing. Like a cross between twisting up on the chains in your swing set and then flinging yourself loose, and dreams about flying.

    And in the session with Eric and Debbie, I got to fly through the air, kicking and punching at Debbie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-style.

    The hands-down best part of the week were the teachers across the board--a spectacularly generous, down-to-earth, lethal group of people. But a very close second was learning to fly.

    If you EVER get the chance to do a wire work class, jump on it. I'm not kidding. (And if you ever get the chance to attend Paddy Crean, go--but make sure you're in good shape first. It just about killed me.)

    Flying with Tim and Eric and Debbie was one of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life. And I've had a few adventures. :)

    While we're all feeling healthy

    I just came across a great list for how to keep a healthy home from issue #230 of Resurgence magazine, p. 40., via Emily at Strangechord:
    • Get rid of your microwave oven, which can leak radiation.
    • Don't seat your children near to elecctrical sources.
    • Install a point-of-source water filter on your kitchen tap. Either we filter the contaminants in water before we use it, or our bodies will be forced to do this for us.
    • Get rid of non-stick-coated cookware, such as Teflon.
    • Switch from plastic bags to cellulose bags.
    • Avoid the use of PVC.
    • Store food in glass jars.
    • Run your tap water first thing each morning to flush out the water than has been standing in pipes overnight.
    • Get rid of synthetic detergents and cleaners, Use lemon juice, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda instead.
    • Never lay carpet in a kitchen or bathroom where mold can accumulate.
    • Unplug all electrical appliances at night.
    • Replace particle-board furniture with solid wood.
    • Open living-space windows every day.
    • Don't use fragranced personal hygiene products.
      Remove televisions, computers and other electrical appliances from bedrooms.
    • Use radiant floor heating in a closed loop, hot water system. Heat objects, not air.
    • Granite work surfaces emit radiation. Use natural stone, slate or wood instead.
    • Replace PVC floor coverings with linoleum, cork or wood.
    • Fiberglass insulation contains toxins; use wool or recycled newspaper instead.
    • Purchase only clothing and bedding that can be washed. Dry-cleaning uses toxic chemicals.
    • Use two tablespoons of baking soda in a wash cycle to soften fabric. Dry clothes naturally on a clothes line.
    • Replace PVC shower curtains with a glass screen.
    • Use non-chlorine bleached, recycled paper towels and tissues.
    • Sit a minimum of 30 inches away from your computer screen.
    • Keep houseplants in office environments to purify the air.
    Aside from the fact that living in apartments doesn't let us choose our heating, insulation, or other building materials, we stack up against this list pretty well.

    I hate plastic, and I've been working on getting it out of our kitchen for years. One of the great recent innovations that helps is our local health food store, Ellwood Thompson, uses "corntainers," biodegradable food containers made form corn.

    Being sick for so long has made me strongly chemical sensitive (think canary in a coalmine), so we've arrived here along a path of trial and error, as I've worked on diet and lifestyle management for years to avoid pharmaceutical drugs and invasive medical procedures.

    The great thing is, by and large, it has worked. And, like any diet or lifestyle change, we'd pick one or two new things, work on them until they became acquired behaviours and second nature, and then went on to learn something else. I didn't realize how many changes we'd made until I was reading through this list.

    Saturday, May 07, 2005

    What's your food philosophy?

    Reading through my blogroll tonight (yes, insomnia surfing), I came across a great article by Emma Goldman at War on Error about personal food philosphies. Emma's own philosophy boils down to:
    1. Buy local.
    2. Buy organic or "natural" food.
    3. Not eat a lot of animals,
    4. When I do eat animals, not eat animals that have been treated badly.
    5. Cook from scratch and utilize ingredients that have been minimally processed.
    6. Eat seasonally.
    Go on and read her whole food post--it is great.

    My own philosophy lines up very similarly to Emma's. I switched to a vegetarian diet when I was 15, the specifics of which have changed and evolved greatly over the years. My own day to day diet choices are therefore a little different from what Emma lists above, but what I aim for myself, and highly recommend is:

    1. Learn About It
    I am astounded at how little people often know about their own nutritional needs, the value of their food, the way their food is produced, or the health/environmental/political impact of their diet choices. Knowledge is power, folks.

    If you're looking for a good primer and fascinating read about nutrition, I highly recommend one of my favourite books (which I honestly would take to a desert island), Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. It covers food, nutrition and diet choices from both a western standpoint and from the view of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    I've been interested in food for years and years. I took becoming vegetarian seriously, but even before that, I could sit down and read and enjoy a cookbook. I'm not in the kitchen much these days (although the new apartment has a wonderful kitchen and I'm hoping to lure myself back into more cooking), but I my new interest is traditional chinese food cures, and how to incorporate TCM concepts on food and diet into what we eat.

    2. Make Conscious Choices
    To be honest, I try to apply #1 & #2 to just about everything, not just eating. Works real well with politics and voting, too.

    3. Buy the best quality food that I can.
    I don't mean "fancy" foods. I mean, what is nutritionally dense?--I buy brocolli over cauliflower as a general rule, and skip iceberg lettuce for mesclun greens, baby spinach, or romaine. Is it fresh? Is it free of chemical preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, synthetic sweeteners, and other chemicals that are going to make me sick? Is it organic? Is it free of hydrogenized fats? Is it unprocessed? Is it good quality, clean-burning fuel?

    4. Prepare it myself, when I can.
    Prepare it from scratch, when I can.
    Do the best, when I can't.

    This one has been a big challenge while I have been sick. This winter, we've had a lot of take-out meals from the hot bar at Ellwood Thompson, the spectacular natural foods store in Richmond's Fan District. Their food is prepared daily from fresh ingredients and it is organic...we really lucked out when they put the hot bar in. We invested in a Zojirushi rice cooker this winter, so we can make congee at home instead of ordering it take-out from Full Kee--it is so easy to digest, and makes wonderfully,tasty convalescent food when I'm really low and feeling blah about food.

    5. Eat simple meals.
    A simple meal with a few ingredients is much easier for me to digest and enjoy. And then I really get to *taste* what I'm eating.

    6. Eat locally and seasonally.
    I guess I started to really learn the merits of this first hand in Japan, where central air conditioning never really caught on. Eating not just locally-produced but also indigenous foods, i.e., adding more seaweed to my diet, and seasonal foods, really helped me acclimatize as the seasons shifted. The concept is also consistent with traditional chinese medicine concepts of healthy diets.

    From an economic standpoint--it costs less to eat food that hasn't been grown in hothouses or half-way across the world. From a political standpoint, it keeps the money in the community. And from an environmental standpoint, there aren't the environmental costs of the fuel investments in growing against the weather and transporting around the globe.

    7. Eat a plant-based diet.
    Some people eat meat, some don't--I've never been on a vegetarian jihad. If you follow #1 & #2 above, and you know what you're eating and making conscious choices, that's good enough for me. But your mom was right--make sure you get some veggies in there, too. I eat so little these days (and even less when the insomnia is raging), that eating *enough* fruits and vegetables can be a real challenge. So I work on it, and I don't beat myself up.

    8. Don't beat myself up.
    Didn't want to forget that one.

    9. Listen to my body.
    When I'm eating quality foods, and paying attention, it is amazing how much my body can tell me about what I need. (I miss getting natto-maki cravings; happened all the time when I worked in Japan.) Another challenge with the insomnia is that when I get tired enough, my biofeedback shuts off, and I don't feel hungry, let alone get food cravings. But the husband is good at feeding me--after making a huge effort over the years to figure out *how.*

    When the husband and I got engaged, he was living on take-out Hunan Chicken and Hardee's Burgers (if he were awake right now he would ask me to point out that this was *before* Hardee's was bought out by Carl's Jr, a distinction that is lost on me but is very important to him). Since we got married, he's made a lot of changes in his diet to accommodate what I can eat and to help take care of me. We've now reached the point where he'll say, "You seem really stressed out. Let's give you a vitamin B and we can have some congee for dinner tonight," or, "The weather is starting to get warmer, let's go get some green vegetables for dinner tonight." (And yes, I lucked out beyond measure. I know. )

    10. Eat less, not more. Eat quality over quantity.
    Again, my current challenge ranges from eating enough to eating at all. In general, I try to eat more frequent, smaller meals, which agrees well with my health and metabolism.

    11. Eat for health.
    We eat food for a lot of wierd reasons, if you think about it: status, comfort, habit, punishment, control. I try to think of food as fuel, first. And then enjoy it greatly.

    I love the Tassajara Cookbooks by Edward Espe Browne, and they say all of what I've just tried to write with less words and more poetry.

    So, I'm really curious. How many of you *think* about what you eat? And, if you make conscious eating choices, what is your own food philosphy?

    Friday, May 06, 2005

    DC Bed Buddies: Tom Davis & Tom Delay

    Thanks to the DCCC via Zeeb, I can now find out just how tangled up Tom Delay is with Virginia politicians, on the Tom Delay House of Scandal website:
  • Thomas Davis has taken $4,520 from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC. No surprise that Davis voted with Tom DeLay 93% of the time between Jan. 1 2004 and March 31 2005.

  • Is this the kind of government-for-hire that working families deserve?

  • Thomas Davis voted to weaken the ethics rules in a move that many say served only to protect Tom DeLay.

  • Does the integrity of the House mean so little that Thomas Davis would sacrifice it to defend Tom DeLay?

  • When Democrats offered a solution to clean up the House by strengthening ethics rules, Thomas Davis voted to make sure it never even came to an up or down vote.

  • So instead of a bipartisan effort to get government working for Americans, Thomas Davis stood for cronyism and partisan politics.
    The D-trip crowd have done a really great job with this. Go check it out for yourself.

    where the girls are...

    Next time someone in the blogosphere asks where the women are, I'm going to tell them how to find out: put up a post about episiotomies and the blood and guts stories of deliveries, sutures, tearing, and...on and on...come out of the woodwork.


    I'm thrilled at how many women have commented no the posts here and on BOP (althought I think we've scared off a lot of the boys).

    If it means that more women will feel encouraged/inspired to join in the conversation, I am very happy to write more often about the politics of women's bodies and women's health.

    And I promise for the weak of stomach to post grue warnings as appropriate. ;)

    Thursday, May 05, 2005

    May 5: Holocaust Memorial Day

    Let us remember today not only the words of Rev. Niemöller; not only the Jews, Slavs, Romany, Gays & Lesbians, religious & political dissidents, and disabled men & women who were slaughtered in the Holocaust; but also the 40 million victims of historic and ongoing genocides over the last hundred years.

    Let us learn from history.

    Let us recognize that democracy is a fragile and beautiful thing that we must fight for and protect.

    Let us do what is right, even when it is not easy or comfortable. And let us remember that we are all complicit in the eyes of history, and it is never enough to say "I just drove the train," or "I was only following orders."

    Let us speak truth to power. Let us speak out for each other. Let us speak out, while we may.
    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me—
    and there was no one left to speak out.
    --Rev. Martin Niemöller

    The Lunchroom at the RNC

    I'm not kidding...

    Isn't this exactly what the HR department puts up on the bulletin boards at the RNC lunchroom?

    And maybe little Republicans make them out of dry macaroni glued to paper plates at summer camp, too...

    Many thanks to Off-The-Cuff for the link.

    Celebrity Fly-By

    With all the time I spend writing about politics here (when I am writing, that is, and not working in politics), I was delighted to receive my first celebrity fly-by this week, when Leslie Byrne dropped by and left a comment in my post on the history of women in Virginia politics.

    Leslie points out, and rightly so, that in addition to being the first woman that Virginia ever sent to Congress, her current L.G. bid also stands to make her Virginia's first woman Lieutenant Governor.

    I have a great respect for Leslie's career, and the contributions that she and her husband Larry Byrne have made to Virginians across the Commonwealth and to the Democratic Party in Virginia.

    Best wishes on the campaign trail, Leslie! My fingers are crossed that this year, in the primary and the general, we see a lot of victories for great women democrats.

    To the Voters, To Make Much of Time

    Dear England,

    On the eve of your election, we just wanted to write and say good luck. We had an election here recently ourselves, and, as you might say, we really bollocksed it up. The rest of the world doesn't really care about swift boats, Ohio irregularities, or Florida voter roll purges: they just believe that this entire country endorsed and actively chose George Bush, his illegal war, the torture at Abu Ghraib, and the doctrine of American Imperialism.

    So, learn from our mistakes, old chaps, and rusticate Tony Blair, won't you?

    love and kisses,

    your country cousins and former subjects
    from across the puddle

    Wednesday, May 04, 2005

    The Definitive Answer

    "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

    --Article 11 of The US Treaty with Tripoli, aka the Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1796)
    The treaty was approved by President John Adams and Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and ratified by the Senate.

    [Emphasis added]

    There's something in the air...

    Tennessee Williams might call it an odor of mendacity. And Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes seems to think its the smell of the president's talks to God. But the King of Zembla calls it a shift in the terms of public discourse.

    Bright Eyes performed "When the President Talks to God" on The Tonight Show this week--the same show where Jay Leno schilled for California's recall and the election of Schwartzennegger. Could the King be right?

    [Updated] Check out a clip of the Tonight Show appearance, download the song yourself for free on iTunes or check out the lyrics below the fold. (Thanks to Dave at Seeing the Forest for the clip link.)
    When the president talks to God
    Are the conversations brief or long?
    Does he ask to rape our women's rights
    And send poor farm kids off to die?
    Does God suggest an oil hike
    When the president talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    Are the consonants all hard or soft?
    Is he resolute all down the line?
    Is every issue black or white?
    Does what God says ever change his mind
    When the president talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    Does he fake that drawl or merely nod?
    Agree which convicts should be killed?
    Where prisons should be built and filled?
    Which voter fraud must be concealed
    When the president talks to God?

    When the president talks to God
    I wonder which one plays the better cop
    We should find some jobs. the ghetto's broke
    No, they're lazy, George, I say we don't
    Just give 'em more liquor stores and dirty coke
    That's what God recommends

    When the president talks to God
    Do they drink near beer and go play golf
    While they pick which countries to invade
    Which Muslim souls still can be saved?
    I guess god just calls a spade a spade
    When the president talks to God

    When the president talks to God
    Does he ever think that maybe he's not?
    That that voice is just inside his head
    When he kneels next to the presidential bed
    Does he ever smell his own bullshit
    When the president talks to God?

    I doubt it

    I doubt it
    Is protest music back? Do network ratings now lie in Bush-bashing? Is the country waking up?

    Just what is that smell in the air?

    Stop the Slicing

    Episiotomies, a surgical incision about two to four centimetres long that is used to enlarge the vaginal opening during childbirth, are currently one of the most common surgical procedures performed on women. (Guys: to get a grasp on this that's closer to home, think of a slice that goes from the bottom of your scrotal sac down to your anus.)

    A new study shows that the procedure is harmful and offers no benefits.

    In other words, what women could have told them all along...
    The supposed benefits of episiotomies during childbirth don't, in fact, exist, a new review suggests. ... For decades, doctors assumed it was better to cut than allow spontaneous tearing during childbirth, arguing the latter damage is harder to repair. It was also thought the procedure helped women to avoid incontinence and improve their sex lives. But a new review of 26 previous studies concludes episiotomies are actually linked to a higher risk of injury, more pain, more stitches and a longer recovery time after childbirth.

    The procedure had no effect on incontinence or sexual function, Dr. Katherine Hartmann of the University of North Carolina and her colleagues reported in the May 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    ...A recent review by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality also concluded that episiotomy offers no health benefits, and routine use can be more harmful than not having one."

    [Emphasis added]

    The CBC story omits just *how* episiotomies were supposed to help "improve their sex lives." The answer?--"the husband stitch."

    The husband stitch refers to the practice where (predominantly male) doctors, typically without consulting their female patient, stitch up that incision and then helpfully keep stitching, to make the post-birth vaginal opening even smaller than it was before delivery, in order to keep things "nice and tight" for the husband. You know, the same way they do with third-world female genital mutilation practices.

    Would someone care to explain how slicing open my perineum and then over-stitching me is going to improve *my* sex life? And why haven't doctors ever decided that slicing men open would improve *their* sex lives?

    So, male doctors "assumed" they knew what was best for female patients; women were harmed and ignored; and the happy husbands weren't complaining. In other words, business as usual in the world of western "women's" medicine.

    I know of cases as recent as the 1970's where doctors in remote areas have refused women painkillers during delivery on the pretext that the pain of childbirth is God's punishment for the sin of Eve.

    Let us hope that word spreads faster on the danger of episiotomies and we can quickly file it in the overpacked archives of obsolete, misogynist medical abuses against women.


    Lest we forget

    Thirty-five years ago today, 28 Ohio National Guardsmen fired a fusillade of between 61 and 67 shots at unarmed student protestors at Kent State, killing 4 students and wounding 9.


    • Alan Canfora
    • John Cleary
    • Thomas Mark Grace
    • Dean Kahler
    • Joseph Lewis
    • Donald MacKenzie
    • James Dennis Russell
    • Robert Stamps
    • Douglas Wrentmore
    The memorial constructed in 1990 on the Kent State campus does not contain their names.

    Monday, May 02, 2005

    Did I read that correctly?

    I've been reading through the Center for American Women in Politics website this afternoon.

    If I have read their historical summary of women in Virginia politics correctly, Leslie Byrne was the first woman that Virginia ever elected to Congress.

    I'm astounded that Virginia didn't have a woman representative until 1993. Is this correct?

    But then, I'm afraid that when it comes to just how recent most of women's advances in society are...I'm astounded a lot of the time.