Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A note

What is happening in Gaza is not a war. When you have a population that is packed, wall to wall in one of the smallest strips of land in the world, minimal resources for basic necessities like food, water and medial supplies, and you react to their tossing outdated explosives at one spot in your large, rich country by sending in one of the most well-fed, well-equipped, and well-trained militaries to kill everyone, militants and civilians alike, that is not war. That is a fucking massacre.

Israel blames Hamas for primitive homemade rocket attacks on the nearby Israeli city of Sederot. In 2001-2008, these rockets killed about 15 Israelis and injured 433, and they have damaged property. In the same period, Gazan mortar attacks on Israel have killed 8 Israelis.

Since the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Israelis have killed nearly 5000 Palestinians, nearly a thousand of them minors. Since fall of 2007, Israel has kept the 1.5 million Gazans under a blockade, interdicting food, fuel and medical supplies to one degree or another. Wreaking collective punishment on civilian populations such as hospital patients denied needed electricity is a crime of war.

The Israelis on Saturday killed 5% of all the Palestinians they have killed since the beginning of 2001! 230 people were slaughtered in a day, over 70 of them innocent civilians. In contrast, from the ceasefire Hamas announced in June, 2008 until Saturday, no Israelis had been killed by Hamas. The infliction of this sort of death toll is known in the law of war as a disproportionate response, and it is a war crime.

from Juan Cole's website

I can't believe that I have to state something that bleeding obvious.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gaza Update

The body count in Gaza has climbed to 348 Palestinians and 4 Israelis.

Israel has rejected international attempts at truce.

Israeli officials said the military blitz against Hamas targets is just the "first of several stages" of military action.

Medical officials in Gaza have also put the number of wounded at about 800. Considering the lack of medical supplies that are allowed to enter Gaza, which is little better than a walled in prison, those wounded are unlikely to survive.


What crime have these people committed that they deserve being dehumanized like this? Voting for Hamas? little light makes a point about this particular argument that I find difficult to disagree with:

Tell me what you would do! Tell me! Who do you believe, who do you listen to, who do you rely on? You are walled into a prison with guns pointed at you all the time. Food is not allowed in, fuel is not allowed in, medical supplies are not allowed in. You lose count of family members violently dead or maimed. Your schools and hospitals and places of worship are destroyed, your neighborhood is full of rubble with few buildings intact, and you cannot expect to live to thirty. And you don't know any of the people on the other side of that wall.

Who do you listen to as a reliable source? The guys with the guns pointed at you, who took the food away and tell you you deserve to have nothing, but who the outside world tells you are decent folks acting justly? Or the people you're told are evil scumbags, but who provide you food, medicine, a little pride, a little order, and the promise to fight for you? Who among you, looking at your hungry, sick child, is going to listen to the person telling you that you shouldn't be allowed to care for them over the person handing you bread and antibiotics and a little civil infrastructure? Do you listen to the asshole who gives you food, or the asshole who takes it away? When you have nothing, no dignity, no hope, when you've got nothing to lose, who do you listen to? What do you think you would do differently? Do you honestly think that, with a gun pointed at your family, you wouldn't be grateful for even a vile human being who tells you you don't deserve it and points a weapon right back?

I don't think I'm that saint. I don't think you're that saint. You want to say you'd know better?

I really don't care what anyone says. Inflicting this level of suffering on a group of people with as few resources as the Palestinians in Gaza have is NOT justifiable. Inflicting this kind of suffering on any group of people is NOT justifiable.

I have heard argument after argument that the Palestinians started it and therefore deserve this. Bullshit. The Palestinians are living in some of the most resource deprived, most densely populated places in the world. There are people who have been living in refugee camps for half a fucking decade. They get angry and toss some rickety rockets over the wall at the people making their lives hell, and we rush to justify their oppressors sending one of the most well-funded and equipped militaries in the world back at them.

Living in fear because your government insists on treating another group of human beings like animals DOES NOT justify the taking of lives, especially on this scale.

To add a disclaimer: No, I do not think that the violence perpetrated by Hamas is right, as it clearly leads to continuing the cycle of violence. However, Israel has the power to stop these cycles before they start, and the Palestinians do not.

To quote Melissa McEwan over at Shakesville, "...sometimes, at a certain point, being right becomes less important than doing the right thing."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Israel...I Just Can't...

Gaza body count: Palestinians-271 Israelis-1


From the linked article:

Israeli jets have launched a second day of airstrikes against the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Despite international condemnation over what is being called a disproportional response, Israel is not excluding a ground offensive. According to Palestinian officials, 271 Palestinians have been killed so far for only one victim in Israel.

Israel is reponding to rocket attacks perpetrated by Hamas which killed one Israeli. I will repeat that, because it bears repeating. Israel's government and military is killing almost three hundred Palestinians including children in response to the death of one Israeli.

Let me put this out there right now: any violent death is a tragedy regardless of how many are killed. HOWEVER, 300 to 1 is disproportionate force. Especially considering that it is widely known that Hamas, a paramilitary organization, is responsible for the single Israeli death.

And of course, while most of the world is decrying the extraneous violence of this situation, the US is blaming Hamas.

"The message from the United States is that Hamas is a terrorist organization that is firing rockets into Israel and they fired them onto their own people as well," Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said.

"The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible for breaking the cease-fire and for the renewal of violence in Gaza," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

Even the Dutch government, who tends towards virulent anti-Arab and Islamophobic policies and positions is calling Israel's actions almost a war-crime. I am so very sick of the "arab=agressor" stance of our government. Just because Israel is our friend, this does NOT put them above reproach. It doesn't change the facts. And this ignoring of the facts mainly serves to make the US look like anti-arab assholes once again. The next time someone tells me that the arab world needs to fix its anti-American sentiment before we can work with them, I might just bite their damn heads off.

Julie from Modern Mitzvoh has this to say:

If you can’t figure out why this is unacceptable - if you insist on an eye-for-an-eye mentality, in which one Israeli eye is worth an infinite number of Palestinian eyes - then quite frankly, you’re a privileged fuck with no concept of how violence is perpetuated or what the phrase “human rights” actually means.

I could not have said it better.

ETA: Anonymous comments will be rejected. If you want to engage in discussion, at least have the intestinal fortitude to post with a username.

Veiled Contempt - Introduction ( aka The "Why I Opened This Can o' Worms" Edition)

I seriously doubt that this is a concept that has not been spoken of before, but I have never talked about it here, so it is new in one way at least.


When Islam and women in Islam are discussed in Western classrooms, or at dinner tables, or even in foreign policy discussions, what are the first things that are mentioned?

Usually, its one of two things: Hijab(often mistakenly called Burqa and generally falsely conflated with Saudi or Iranian forced dress codes) and "honor" killings. Both are pointed out as examples of exotic otherness and supposed Muslim/Arab (another false conflation, but I digress) savagery in comparison with supposed Western "liberal" attitudes towards women, gender "equality" and moral superiority. "Well, WE don't treat OUR women like THAT." Generally, much nodding of heads back patting and ego fellating ensues.

This attitude amuses me (and by "amuses me," I mean it makes me want to repeatedly bash my head into a wall) because of one underlying flaw in the rush to promote ourselves as superior whiteness/Westerness, namely that Western women are treated very similarly, the only difference being the exact way that sexism is expressed. The underlying attitudes, about a woman's place, her function, what she should look like, her responsibility for participating in the public sphere, and her punishment for violating the patriarchal demands placed upon her, are almost exactly the same and differ mainly in degree of severity. The only other major difference is the form of support that our judicial systems grant these actions. Again, the rationalizations are eerily similar, and the only difference in support is whether it is tacit, or open. Even in the law, the only differences become a matter of degree.

So, I decided that I had too much to say (no surprise there) about all of these subjects, so I would start a series. At this moment, its only this introductory post and two subsequent posts, but I'm flexible. I will be drawing from a variety of sources, including blogs like Muslimah Media Watch, news sites, feminist theory, and my own observations in both the Middle East and the US. My intention is to make clear that when it comes to sexism and treatment of women, no one has the moral high ground. This can end up opening into an on going series if the information is available.

So, be on the lookout for my first post, probably sometime next week.


Saturday, December 27, 2008


H/T to Womanist Musings and Feministing


We are often told that we are living in a mans world, and this culture no image represents power more than the phallic symbol and if the penis equal power then I am illegally armed. My body full of freckles and curves is like a stealth bomber, I fly just under everyone's radar, but only because they choose not to see me. Only because no one wants to believe that a sweet petite green eyed girl like me could ever possibly be packing heat. They say it's not the size of the wand but the magic that it does. Well after many months on estrogen my penis is pretty darn small, but she has supernatural powers. She is like some pissed off ancient Greek goddess. My penis changes the meanings of everything, and because of her every single one of my ex heterosexual girlfriends has slept with a lesbian, and every guy who hits on me these days could be accused of being gay. Because my penis bends everyone who is straight and she can make the most entitled catcallers and womanisers scurry away with their balls between their legs. All because of six small words, I used to be a man. And being a transsexual I realize that most people see my femaleness as a fa├žade, as an elaborate hoax, but I am more real than any of them could ever hope to be. I am real because unlike them my gender is not based upon what other people think of me and that may make me an object of ridicule but I am not the butt of anyone's joke, because I know that people make fun of trannies because we are the one thing that they fear the most. I am more badass than any gangster, more dangerous than any marine core , my penis is more powerful than the cocks of a million alpha males all put together. Because when a man is defined as that which is not female and a woman is defined as that which is not male, then I am the loose thread that unravels the gender of everyone around me. They say it's not the size of the boat but the motion of the ocean, well my penis gives most people sea sickness. It makes people dizzy because most people are not secure enough in their own masculinity or femininity to serve a night in the sack with me. My penis turns simple sexual pleasures into political acts. She turns biological impossibilities into cold hard facts. My penis is the curiosity that you have been told will kill your cat. See, my penis can be deadly, especially to me, and I have hear d almost every true story about what frightened macho boys do to trannies; every bludgeoning and mutilation, bodies beaten beyond recognition and I have imagined it all happening to me first person. Everytime I get up in front of a crow to perform one of my outspoken word pieces, I can feel myself morph into a slow moving target. After the show when I walk back to my car I will be holding my breathe half expecting that inevitable blow to the back of the head. Sometimes I wonder why it hasn't happened yet, and sometimes I wonder why they just don't get it over with and sometimes I just wish I was dead, I wish I was dead. You see I never wanted to be dangerous and I spent most of my life wishing that I didn't have a penis. I used to hate my body for not making any sense to me and these days I often hate it for being so in between. Some mornings I can hardly get out of bed because my body is so weighed down with ugly meanings that my culture has dumped all over me. You see I have made to feel shame and self loathing so that everyone else can take comfort in what their bodies mean. And if I seem a bit cocky it is because I refuse to make apologies for my body anymore. I am though being the human sacrifice offered up to appease other people's gender issues. Some women have a penis, some men don't and the rest of the world is just going to have to get the fuck over it. If I am destined to be the loose thread that unravels the gender of everyone around me then I am going to pull and pull and pull and pull and pull until everyone is exposed, till they all finally see that all along that they were merely wearing the emperor's new clothes . I know that people don't like it when I turn the tables on them but what the hell else am I supposed to do, play a hand from a deck of cards that was stacked against me? If I seem a bit cocky, it's because I have spent my entire life being backed into a corner and like a frightened animal packed full of adrenaline and sick of hunger and hiding I am finally desperate enough to come out fighting.

In Memoriam...

One year ago today, Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to lead a Muslim nation, was assassinated.


She faced massive hurdles in her rise to power, and subsequent loss of it, and as soon as I learned who she was, I knew I had found a true hero and role model. Her death, two days before my wedding, shocked and pained me more than I can possibly explain. It had been clear for a long time that if there was anyone who could start to restore sanity to the tense situation that is Pakistan, it was her. Her death sent the whole area into chaos that it is still recovering from.

She continues to inspire me, even today.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oy Vey

My apologies for the recent lack of posts to all those out in the interwebs that read us. Holiday time is nuts when you work retail, know what I mean?

I'll Never Let You Go


One question I hear at work, every day, without fail:

"Is there a Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts or any kind of coffee place in here?"

The answer to both variations of the first part of this question is a resounding "No." There are no Starbucks in the airport at all, and the Dunkin' Donuts is two terminals over. You have to exit and re-enter security to get to it. As for the second part, all it takes for someone to see the only coffee place in this terminal when they are standing and talking to me is for them to do a 180 degree turn and it is right there, large as life, with a huge, bright orange, purple and green sign. This indicates one of a few possible issues for the person in question.

One possible issue is that their eyesight is failing them. Always possible, and there really is no way for me to tell if this is the case. That is an understandable reason to ask about the "popular" places, actually, as I assume their logos could be easily recognizable for someone with vision issues.

Another possible issue is just obliviousness. We see examples of that all the time here. People asking where the bathrooms are when there are simple signs everywhere indicating this, or asking how to get to baggage claim when the biggest signs in the terminal give this information in 5 inch tall letters and arrows. We used to get the same issue at the movie theatre I worked at for years. Some people can't be bothered to read signs and they figure that anyone with an airport badge or in an employees uniform is here to do nothing more than answer their questions, no matter how inane. To be fair, at the movie threatre that was the case. Not so much at the airport, but I digress.

However, the most likely reason for ignoring the obvious coffee shop in favor of asking me where the well known national chains are is, I suspect, training. We are trained, by the constant exposure to commercials and the ubiquitous presence of these places, that if we want coffee and pastry, then Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts is the place to go. You know the country runs on Dunkin'. We are taught through branding and advertisement practices, (which are becoming subtler and subtler) that these are the places you go for these products because only they do them "right."

Honestly? I have never gotten a coffee or a pastry from either of these franchises that tastes significantly "better" or "more right" than anywhere else, including when my spouse brews coffee for us in the morning. Every cup of coffee tastes different depending on who brewed it, how clean their instruments are, the quality of the water, and a hundred other factors that can change just by walking across the street to the other Starbucks. We have been convinced that because we got a product at a specific location then it must be right regardless of the actual flavor, consistency, etc. We are so well trained that we will be faithful to brands for brand-names sake, ignoring actual quality in the process. We will memorize a brand-specific menu and think that we can get these things the same anywhere without actually knowing what we are putting into our bodies. "Frappaccino"... "Dunkaccino"... Do you even know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino or what a macchiato is? Do you even need to know?

What I want to know is why. Why in the world do we trust big brand names? There are constant examples of criminal greed, fraud and indifference to public good...YOUR the corporate world, generally from some of the biggest names. Why the hell do we trust them? In a small local store, the owner and employees are responsible for the business and business practices. It is not hard, should something happen as a result of this business' actions, to figure out who is responsible and who shoulders the penalty. In the corporations, the business itself is a singular entity for the purpose of public relations, taxes, and our relationship to them, but when something happens as a result of how the business is run, suddenly there is no single person who is actually responsible for how this business functions. We have seen this again and again. We continue to see it now as the economy is forcing the corporate world to eat their own.

And yet, we continue to cling to this idea that a big recognizable name means we can TRUST them, or even that we OWE them something and therefore must remain exclusive customers. This sounds like an abusive relationship to me. I for one am going to start working on a shelter for victims of economic violence, where we learn that corporate logos can't love you back, and that you don't need them to survive.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Defining Sexism

A comment on this entry at Shakesville really tweaked my interest. First, the comment:

"A little off topic, but I just wanted to jump up and down a little waving my arms in frantic protest over [another poster]'s insistence that various "isms" - sexism, racism, what have you - are monodirectional.

For one thing, it's problematic because this isn't the way the vast majority of people use these words. For just about everyone (not to mention every dictionary under the sun) racism (to choose an example) is prejudice or discrimination based on race, full stop. Limiting the word to institutional prejudice or discrimination against specific racial groups in specific cultural contexts creates all kind of confusion - not least because not all the world is made up of the kind of neat binary hierarchies of oppression this kind of definition demands.

For another, society is not a monolith. Even if racism is by definition cultural and institutional, the idea that every institution and sub-culture within a society shares the same biases isn't really tenable.

To return to sexism, far simpler to say (as the OED does, actually) that it is sex-based prejudice and discrimination almost always directed against women."

This poster isn't the first to make this spurious argument and zie won't be the last.

Disagree however you want, but the prejudice+power definition of -isms are sociological in nature and correct. The "vast majority" of people can use a technical term however they want, that doesn't mean they are using it correctly. Perfect example: paradigm shift. This is a technical term, used in scientific disciplines to indicate a sudden and complete change in how the world is viewed by a sub-group of humanity, and in Western culture, can be applied directly to inventions of mass media and mass communication and the effect this had on how the culture as a whole related to the world. In popular lexicon, we use it to indicate a change in how we behave personally, akin to "changing gears" or changing the flow of our lives. It has also been appropriated by motivational speakers for large corporations as a term to get corporate teams to expand their way of working. If one compares the two usages, they seem to have the same basic meaning, but one is technically correct within the context that spawned it, and one is popular misconception and appropriation of the first.

By referencing "every dictionary under the sun", I assume that means zie has read every dictionary under the sun. I doubt this, mainly because if zie had, zie would have noticed that most regular dictionaries are mainly catalogs of common usage in a specific arena, and do not mean the be-all end-all of a word. There is a reason that we have medical and legal dictionaries, as well as dictionaries for different disciplines. These dictionaries may have a word that is spelled the same in each of them, but based on the context, has a differing meaning. Hell, the meaning of a word can differ across languages. Some words don't translate directly from language to language, and some languages have words that others do not. Does this mean that the basic concept does not exist from culture to culture? No, it means that the concepts are viewed differently through different cultural lenses.

Suggesting that your preferred definition of isms is inherently more correct at all times is intellectually dishonest.

In actuality, you can indeed see the binary hierarchies almost world-wide, with adjustments of the standard to the specific group. Example: racial binary, between "white" and "non-white" does exist in most places that I have studied or visited. White in some areas may not look quite like it looks here, but it plays the same role. It can be found echoed through out most institutions and sub-cultures to a greater or lesser degree. The binary hierarchy of sex is also present world wide to differing degrees, even with differences in the definition of masculine v. feminine.

This poster seems to desire the simpler explanation at the expense of dismissing actual intellectual effort on hir part to challenge hir own small view of how the world works.

Sexism is not in the eye of the beholder

Let it be assumed for the purposes of this space, that the definition of -isms are the power+prejudice equation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


(h/t to almost every progressive blog I read)


I saw this last week and had to take a second to put my jaw back in place. Christ. How fucking EDGY is The Advocate! Conflating the black civil rights movement with the LGBTQI movement and it's oh-so-important fight for marriage equality.

Look, I'm queer. As queer as a $3 bill. HOWEVER, I am not so arrogant as to believe that my relatively privileged fight for the right to marry someone of the same legal sex as myself is the last great civil rights issue! Not when institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia (to name only a few) are issues that are causing people to live in poverty, face threats of and actual physical and sexual assault from not only other individuals but from law enforcement officers, face court battles to even have their victimizers recognized as such, yeah! FUCKING DEATH!

Don't get me wrong. I would love it if people like me could just hang up our activist badges and go home, if there really was something that was really the last civil rights struggle ever ever ever. However, as pointed out above, this is patently untrue.

Suggesting that "Gay is the new Black" ignores the existence of queers who are also of color, who have to face racism, homophobia and sexism. It also ignores the fact that a good deal of the queer community is not served by the fight for marriage equality, and effectively disappear their members who are in need of things that are more essential than marriage.

This cover implies that all other civil rights movements are over and unimportant. The only purpose something like this will serve will be to alienate members of the POC community as well as any other groups that are not served by the marriage fight. It doesn't help that the article that this cover is in reference to is actually a decent article. This cover is a disservice to the author, and to the queer movement as a whole.

In short, fuck whoever at The Advocate thought this would be a good idea. Nice breakin' it "hero."

Friday, December 05, 2008


With the horrors of the siege in Mumbai finally over, media outlets seem to be focused on one thing: sensationalizing every aspect for consumption.

All I'm seeing is blow by blow accounts of how the gunmen were smiling, the piles of corpses that started it, pictures of people wailing in fear and terror. The whole thing is making me quite ill.

Seriously, these are PEOPLE, not news stories. These are people who have lived through some of the worst things a person can live through. The terror and pain of real people is not fucking entertainment.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Reader

Sorry for the abbreviated nature of the reader today, but I am working like crazy and ready to fall on my face, and thinking clearly has become a struggle.
There will be more coherent posting tomorrow, most likely. While you wait, read these, because you're worth it :D

-Muslims in America.: An actual scholarly article about the diversity of the American Muslim community and the general ignorance of non-Muslim Americans re: Islam.

-An article on Syrian lingerie and the possible social/class issues that could be discussed with this as the basis. WARNING: one of the images is slightly Not Work Safe.

-Professor, What If... on reconsidering Thanksgiving, part three.

- The Mental Toll of Being a Muslim in a Post-9-11 World: Has a great discussion about being an American Muslimah hijabi and the reactions she gets.

-The War on Christmas, signaled by Atheists suggesting you can be good without God

-Muxes at The Jaded Hippy. I love the smell of deflated stereotypes in the morning :D

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Little Geek Love

This video is what inspired the name of my post about glory and heroes.

I loved this show...

The Galaxy Rangers

No Guts, No Glory

I came across this at Alas, a quote from a gentleman who blogs at Instapundit, or Instaputz as some have termed him. Behold, Glenn Reynolds:

I feel a little sorry for Martin Luther King — his enormous accomplishments got less attention than they deserved because of the cult of Malcolm X, and now he’s being eclipsed by Barack Obama. Though I suppose he’d be perfectly okay with that.
Uh huh...

Jeff Fecke proceeds his own takedown:

Now, we can go on and on about the utter stupidity of Reynolds pretending that W.E.B. Du Bois and Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are now totally unimportant thanks to Obama’s victory; indeed, we can go further and note how insane it is that Reynolds would think Du Bois, Douglas, King, Malcolm X, Tubman, and the several million other African-Americans who worked for equality through our nation’s long and bitter racial history would see Obama’s victory as anything other than a positive outcome of their work.

I do agree with Jeff, although, I thought to take it one step further...

Reynolds' perspective makes sense when you account for the fact that a good deal of people who are recipients of social privilege tend to quest for nothing more than personal gain, or for the hero-worship that we tend to bestow on figures who represent fundamental social progress (See Betty Friedan and her repudiation of the feminist movement because she did not get enough attention). Even their participation in social justice is for the recognition they will get for what they do, so there is little understanding of someone who does something for the benefit of more than just themselves, of someone who knows that they may never see the end result of the work that they do, but they do it regardless because someone needs to lay the bricks so that the next generation can move forward a little further.

I would argue that some people can't see any reason to be a visible activist besides the "glory," which is a symptom of the tendency to white-wash history and try to show it without full context.

If all you can remember of the civil rights movement is the so-called "glory" that came with being Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then there are some serious gaps in your knowledge and understanding.

Granted, it was pointed out to me that the very nature of history and historical recollection is about selective editing, and therefore has gaps by definition. I don't entirely agree. I think it is possible to be honest about history to a point. We can never escape our own perspective, and objectivity is especially difficult in the arena of social movements and trends, but we are still able, and obligated, I think, to be as honest as possible when looking back.

The American practice of making shining and pure paragons of virtue out of our historical figures has been key in helping to promote the blindness of the privileged classes in this country. We forget that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, we forget that Helen Keller was a radical feminist and socialist, we forget that Woodrow Wilson was a racist SOB...etc. We want our heroes to be moral exemplars, and forget that they were only human. It only serves to obscure the historical context and reality not only of these people, but of our own time. If we cannot honestly look at the past as something more complex than simplistic children's stories, then how can we create comprehensive solutions for the present?

I would also argue that this heroification leads to the "glory" perspective, these people did the things they did to be heroes, to get the spotlight...and it distances us from our own abilities to affect change in our world. Most "heroes" were and are ordinary people doing what they see as needing to be done at the time. I'm pretty sure Harriet Tubman wasn't risking her life for attention sake, or for recognition of her "great accomplishments". Some have the chance to come in at a time when they can get a lot of attention, some are largely ignored until decades, sometimes centuries after their deaths. When the people who pushed for change are regarded as exemplars of society, "special" if you will, then we assimilate the idea that we can change nothing because we are just "normal" people, and forget that the world is changed by normal people who choose to make a stand.

I have always wanted to be one of those people who change the world. My aunt (who was more like my big sister growing up) has always said that I have an over-developed sense of justice, and a need to fix things that strike me as wrong just because they are wrong. When I was young, I not only wanted to be one of those activists we always read about, I wanted to be the Special kind, the ones that stand in front of crowds and cause a national uproar when they are arrested...I thrived on stories of heroes, and I wanted to be one. Not a comic book or cartoon hero, but a real live historical hero.
As I got older, I realized that being that public recognizable hero is only possible when the groundwork is laid, and that I couldn't just wait for the groundwork to come to me. So I started volunteering, writing, speaking, making a stand in my small high-school student way. After a few years of this, it hit me that I may never be that hero the way I initially envisioned it, but that I had a hand in making possible for one of those heroes to come forward. I am fine with putting a few bricks in the road so that the next group coming behind me can go just a bit further than I did.

When I see my twelve-year old sister taking apart the bullshit of the world designed to break her spirit and put her in her "place", and dismissing it like an annoying fly, I feel like a cape-wearing, swishy-haired, bona-fide super hero.

And that is enough for me :D

My Body IS NOT a "Public Health Concern"

It had to happen eventually.

Yes we are going there.

This is my Fat Acceptance post.

*Warning=Comments have been turned off.*

I'm going to put this right out, right now. According to the BMI, I am obese. However, the BMI is a crock. It does not account for body fat v. muscle density, and it is no real indicator of health. In fact, fat itself is not a catch-all indicator of health. So that it is clear where I am coming from with this, I am reproducing Kate Harding's ten points about health and obesity:

1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who give a damn about critical thinking would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

2. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.

3. What’s more, those groups do not represent anomalies; no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period. And believe me, they’ve tried. (Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin, is an outstanding source for more on that point.)

4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.

5. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?

6. Most fat people have already dieted repeatedly. And sadly, it’s likely that the dieting will cause them more health problems than the fat.

7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?

9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”

10. If you scratch an article on the obesity! crisis! you will almost always find a press release from a company that’s developing a weight loss drug — or from a “research group” that’s funded by such companies.

No, I don't want to hear "the other side" of this discussion. No one has any business critiquing the personal choices of others when the only person that will be impacted by those choices is the individual making them. Period, end of story. Even if you want to use the "public health concern" shit: For anyone who cries about "teh fatties are pushing up our health insurance! BAAAAAAAW!" In actuality, obese people are less likely to seek healthcare, especially preventative care, because of how they are treated by healthcare professionals. The spread of various health problems are more closely related (as in there actually being a causal link as opposed to mere correlation) to sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition, and occur fairly equally in people of ALL sizes (as stated in point#2 above) as opposed to infectious evil lazy fat people. So no, one person's body shape and how it came to be and why it is the way it is is not your concern, and it does not affect you in the least. If you feel a need to be so damn judgmental of someone else who is not affecting you then that says more about you, doesn't it.

I am a fairly healthy individual, I am a vegetarian, we eat organic, whole foods whenever possible, and I exercise as often as I can. I can do 60 sit-ups a day, I can walk from one end of my city to another, and I can dance for almost an hour straight with nothing more than a quick break for a drink of water. I also have ovarian cysts, and most likely have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, which is related to insulin resistance. Until I researched that and asked my doctors to look for it, I was consistently told that my health problems, be they heart issues, excess body hair in places like my chin, or even fucking bronchitis, could be attributed to my weight, despite what I told them about my eating and exercise habits.

So no, I will not sit and be shamed into being a "good fattie" who does not eat in public because it bothers other people, because I have a "moral obligation" to be ashamed of my physique. To quote The Rotund: Good and Bad Fatties do not exist. I eat because I am hungry, there is no morality to satisfying a basic human need.

ETA: I have opened comments, but since this topic tends to be more than a little contentious, be warned that I have a low tolerance for crap about this particular subject.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Your Intrepid Explorer Risks Eye and Sanity...

okay, I did a bad thing...

I went over to Glenn Sacks' blog, mainly because it is rude and fallacious to criticize someones position without actually knowing anything about their position. I am not going to link to it, simply because its not hard to find on your own, and because the last thing I need right now is a deluge of some of the people who read those blogs. I am not in the mood to heavily moderate comments to maintain a safe-space.

When I was there, I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt, because as much as I have a serious problem with MRAs, there are inequalities that men face that I am against. I mainly disagree with the source of these inequalities, and the technique for solving them that most MRAs seem to advocate. They want to blame feminism, or feminists, which ends up turning into a fight against the very group of people with the history and experience to solve the inequalities they are being blamed for.

I only managed to really analyze one thing before the whole space started to really bother me, so I will make this a gradual thing. I will start with one, and if I can stomach spending more than a few minutes over there, I may do this again.

An ad that occurred right after the first article:
Discover how she has 'played' you. For the first time ever, a book that tells you exactly how manipulative and deceitful women win against their unsuspecting prey--and there's detailed information about what you can do about it. Read Roy Sheppard and Mary T Cleary's book "Venus: The Dark Side".
An alternate title for this book, when you follow the ad's url, is "That Bitch" (You cannot make this shit up.) It was changed because the authors wanted to reach as many people as possible with their message of "evil conniving" women who victimize "innocent" men. If Mr. Sacks and his movement are not interested in demonizing women, why have an ad for something so flagrantly anti-woman? ETA: Since it came up in the comments, when was the last time you saw a book about abusive men titled "That Asshole"? Even more than that, was it advertised on a site run by gender equality activists?

To be fair, many blog ad programs simply search keywords and post ads that match. We find that on feminists sites as well, a discussion of eating disorders or fat acceptance flanked by diet ads, a discussion of porn or sex-workers rights surrounded by ads for "free" porn sites, discussion of abortion rights bringing up ads for pro-life services. This is why a good deal of feminist bloggers have very limited ads, and tend to stick to ads that they can approve pre-posting. It is possible that this is what is happening here. Make of it what you will.

I am skeptical, mainly because all of the other ads seem directly applicable to the content of the blog.

I have heard a lot of excuses from MRA's about how they aren't anti-woman, they are just anti-feminist, or even how they aren't anti-feminist, just anti-radical misandrist feminists. I personally do not see that distinction being made here.

Keep an eye out for later posts examining the inner-workings of the MRA blogosphere...

Quick Hit: Gender games

One for the "You've got to be fucking kidding me!" file:


C'mon ladies, and girly-men, you always knew you had to leave the world domination stuff to the manly manly men, didn't you?

'Scuse me while I go barf.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Turkey Called Brotherhood

(yet another hat tip to Renee @ Womanist Musings)

This is pretty obnoxious.

Basic rundown: A pair of schools have a Thanksgiving tradition of dressing one kindergarten class up as indians and one as pilgrims. They have a parade and then go have a party together. This year, a parent who is actually native, protested this event, calling out the lie that children are being forced to believe, the lie of the peaceful coming together of white settlers with native tribes. She also protested the racist stereotypes being perpetuated by the "indian"costumes.

The thing that chaps my ass is all of these white people trying to claim that this is not offensive at ALL! That these are just CHILDREN! Enjoying a holiday TRADITION! I am so glad that these privileged asswipes can conveiniently forget that by TEACHING these children this tradition, they are continuing the myth of a benevolent white man vs the gentle savage. I really wish they would blow it right out of their asses. As the member of the group that benefits from the oppression of the other, YOU DON'T GET TO SAY WHAT IS OFFENSIVE TO THEM! This is Don't Be An Asshole 101 folks.

These white people wringing their hands about telling children the truth of their history reminds me somewhat of this clip:

I normally don't like South Park all that much, but every once in a while, they have a really good point. That IS how it actually happened. This idea that white people calmly showed brown people their "better ways" in the spirit of brotherhood and Christian Godliness is blatantly false, besides being obnoxious and racist as fuck.

And if we are really going to clutch our pearls and gasp about "THE CHILDREN," consider this: what about those native children, who learn their history from the perspective of people who think that it is okay to ignore the massive damage done to their people? They learn that their history doesn't matter, only the history of the white man matters. Renee says it very well:
It is further disgusting that children are being taught this falsehood as a method of maintaining white hegemony through the physical performance of revisionist history. The indoctrination of children with revisionist history is part of the way that racism passes from one generation to another.

Of course to a child this seems like a harmless tradition, they have no knowledge of history. They count on us as adults to be their guides and tell them the truth. This is an abdication of our responsibility to educate them.

Native culture has repeatedly been appropriated. We see it show up in the form of mascots for sporting teams as a normalized display. People seem to feel that it is their right to cheapen and demean the culture of another, while telling the oppressed community that they are being too sensitive.(go read her post Teaching The Young To Disrespect Indigenous Culture. I'll wait here)

The myth of the peaceful thanksgiving is regularly offered up in order to forget that the real beginning of this country was violent, painful and bloody. What happened to the native population of this hemisphere when Europeans came here was GENOCIDE. Nothing less.

We continue this heroification of the white people who came here and supposedly built this amazing civilization out of nothing, ignoring the rape, enslavement, murder, cannibalism and early germ warfare that made all of this possible.

These lands were not "discovered" by Europeans. You cannot "discover" a place where people are already living! Many of these colonies would not have survived if not for the work already done by tribes living there previously, if not for stealing from the tribes who were still there, if not for enslaving members of these tribes, if not for living off of the decomposing bodies of natives who were killed by epidemics spread from early European explorers, if not for slaughtering whole cultures.

Whole cultures, languages, ways of life are GONE, destroyed by this idea that God gave White people dominion over the Earth.

I will be using this day to teach my children about the cultures that were here already, about what happened to them, about what their lives are like now. I do not accept this white-washing of my history.

As a kid, I always wanted to do a Weddnesday Addams when confronted with this season:

Granted, a good deal of what occurs leading up to her soliloquy is offensive as hell, which is not surprising considering it is intended to show a white privileged man's perspective of the Thanksgiving myth.

In the end, I believe we have an obligation to be honest about our history. There is no excuse for ignorance, and no excuse for degrading displays of faux "brotherhood." These myths are dangerous, despite what some may think. They allow those of us who are granted white privilege to pat ourselves on the back and escape our responsibility to end oppressions that we benefit from. They create an environment where understanding of current effects that can be traced back to these event is impossible, because without honesty in regards to our history, we have no realistic idea of the true roots of injustice. These myths create an attitude that we white western people can still charge into whatever country we want and do whatever we please because we forget that we aren't the saviors of the goddamn world. They allow us to be blind to the personhood of others, and to the actual effect we have on the world. They allow us to continue to marginalize and oppress others simply for not being one of us.

National Day of Mourning for Indigenous People

(h/t to Womanist Musings)

Following are excerpts from a statement written by Mahtowin Munro (Lakota) and Moonanum James (Wampanoag), co-leaders of United American Indians of New England. Read the entire statement at

Mahtowin Munro


Mahtowin Munro

Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.

Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?

Moonanum James

Moonanum James

Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country—and in particular in Plymouth—is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of pilgrim mythology.

According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth.

The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and -gay bigotry, jails and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod—before they even made it to Plymouth—was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry.

They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And, no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Conn., to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children and men.

About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands and never-ending repression. We are either treated as quaint relics from the past or are, to most people, virtually invisible.

When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.

National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.

Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial.

To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.

Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass 50 percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in healthcare and other necessary services.

Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?

When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them “illegal aliens” and hunt them down.

We object to the “Pilgrim Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered Indigenous ancestors.

Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latin@, Asian, and poor and working-class white people.

The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.
Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The MRA Mirror

By Sunless Nick
originally posted at Shakesville

When MRA-types can be bothered to acknowledge rape as a problem at all, they inevitably claim false accusations of rape as a comparable problem, one that happens at least as often, and one that is—unlike rape, they claim—ignored and belittled. For the record, that is not true. But I thought I'd look through that MRA mirror and see what would happen if false rape accusations were really "taken as seriously" as rape.

First, of course, depending on where he lives, the falsely charged man might have to pay for a rape kit that could bolster his case. Naturally, it would likely never be relevant, because the false report case would probably never get to court, being summarily decided instead by lawyers or the police after they determine there to be no evidence that the woman lied. (And of course, there would be a legal presumption that she is truthful and he a rapist.)

But leaving that aside... There is also the fact that false accusations would benefit from widespread apologism, and accused men would suffer from victim-blaming.

For instance, if a victim of false rape accusation was really treated like a victim of rape, then the accused man would be held responsible for it. He'd be asked why he was alone with her. He'd be lectured on everything he coulda woulda shoulda done differently, then or otherwise. He'd have his whole history dissected, looking for other women he might have annoyed, thus justifying this woman's annoyance. He'd be asked if he agreed to the rumour, or secretly liked it? He'd be pressured to drop the whole thing because it was a mistake, not really a serious allegation, she's not really the lying type (heck, she might even be called plucky), and is it really worth ruining her life over this?

And that'd be from the people who believed him and claimed they were on his side.

Otherwise of course, he'd be called a liar (or even a sinister conspirator)—and were he ever to smile or date again, it could be advanced as proof of it. And he'd be called the male equivalents of slut, whore, tease, and bitch (or would, if the male equivalents of those words weren't compliments). And he'd be asked if he can really remember what happened, and is he sure she said yes?

There would be long earnest diatribes about how men could avoid being "deservedly" accused. (Not by just by disgruntled women either; the mainstream media would weigh in on the "MRAs false-accusation fallacy"). Of course they'd include disclaimers of how, "No man deserves to be falsely accused of rape, BUT"—before going on to explain how so many case of false accusation are indeed the man's fault, and how men should ensure that they don't happen.

For instance, it might be trotted out how women are hardwired for intimacy, security, and long-term commitment, and are you sure you didn't say or do anything that implied you were willing to marry and start a family with her? No? But you had sex, and that could have been construed as a promise for those things, so her anger at you breaking that promise is quite understandable really. Did you made it clear you were only interested in a casual hookup? Well why didn't you make it clearer?

Along the way, it might be compared to property crime... say identity theft. After all, we know the stories now; we're careful about letting information about slip into other people's hands, and we know how hard it is to prove the truth if false purchases are racked up in our name. So it's not much of a stretch to parallel that to false accusations and tarnished reputations, right?

There'd be PSAs on how parents can prevent their sons getting into situations where they might be accused of rape, with the women who might do it mysteriously disappeared from the narrative.

Men would be told to take false accusations as compliment—you know, you're so hot she'd say anything to make people think you'd been together—or maybe she thinks the accusation makes you sound more manly. At the same time, they'd be told the claim must be true because they're too old or ugly to have been with a woman any other way.

We'd read posts about how false accusations are sometimes necessary; this link needs an extra trigger warning.

Kobe Bryant, saying "I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter" would be a nationwide rallying call for how all men who deny committing rape are lying dogs.

We would read news stories about falsely accused men being punished for engaging in malicious gossip. We would read about judges who even if an accusation had been proved false, would say they wish they could jail the man anyway (oh, and they might ban him from using the words "false," "lie," and "sex" in his testimony).

False accusations would be the stuff of jokes, even onstage. Men would even be expected to take direct or veiled threats as jokes. False accusations would also routinely be evoked in adverstising and used as metaphors for wit or good presentation. And you would deemed humourless if you objected to any of this.

Even when utterly blatant, false accusations would frequently be ignored or disappeared.

Saying that a false accusation is never deserved would elicit controversy, while a woman who didn't make a false accusation against a man who annoyed her would be deemed worthy of praise for her accomplishment and self-control.

I think most MRAs would much rather see their causes ignored than taken as seriously as that.

Of course on this side of the mirror, I don't see anything like that leveled at men accused of rape—including those who are genuinely accused, tried, and convicted. But rape victims face all of it. So no, I don't find the problems all that comparable. It beggars my imagination that someone can seriously believe there are as many women who voluntarily put themselves through it for no reason as there are men who decide they can get away with rape.

But that's the trouble with mirrors: They don't show us the real world, but a back to front version of it. Maybe MRAs should try the window instead.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jim Quinn Rejects Germ Theory

Is it just me, or are homophobic bigots really reaching lately?

I mean, I get it. They are against science as a rule. Earth is 6000 years old, and dinosaur bones were planted by scientists with the help of Satan as a test of faith and for personal profit, and all other scientists are just one huge secret cabal (with all this "Global Warming" and "melting ice caps" stuff) out to take away their God-Given American Right to drive the biggest, ugliest gas-guzzler imaginable, thereby confirming their status as gigantic assholes.

But sex producing a virus?

Haven't heard that one before.

So funny that all I can do is stare:

"[G]ay marriage doesn't produce anything that the state has an interest in. Gay sex produces AIDS, which the state doesn't have -- or should have an interest in. They should charge homosexuals more for their -- for their health insurance than they charge the rest of us."

He looks just like you!
I shall name him...Quinny.

The meme of "the Gay Plague?" It's dead, Jim.

HIV causes AIDS. It is a virus that can effect anyone that comes into contact with it in a communicable fashion, generally through body fluids. Examples: blood transfusions, infected needles, sex of ANY kind between ANY partners.

I would need to find some stats to back me up on this, but I'm pretty sure that the largest infected group of people in the US is young, straight African American women. But wait, thats science again...

Psssh, who needs proof?

World Health Organization decides the gold standard of scientific evidence is superfluous


Scientific evidence can now include “causal relationships” suggested in observational or epidemiological studies, animal and laboratory experiments, generally accepted authoritative information validated over time, and traditional knowledge and experiences of use. The acceptance of these alternative ways of knowing came after years of lobbying by the health foods and dietary supplement industry.(emphasis added)

Basically, because pesky science was getting in the way of profit margins, now there doesn't need to be scientific proof that certain foods or supplements help prevent disease, there just has to be a "credible" claim. Sandy at Junkfood Science breaks it down, and sums up:

In other words, this gives an NGO, such as a health food or supplement industry organization, the ability to can make any claim it chooses and say it’s substantiated.

Few consumers will realize when they see a health claim on the label of a food or supplement, purportedly supported by scientific evidence from the WHO, that the definition for scientific evidence has changed.

Why has this story not been widely reported in mainstream media or in professional publications reaching the scientific and medical communities? It would appear the input of scientists and doctors in health policies is not wanted, as the WHO and UN-FAO become influenced by things other than the best science.

We have enough issues with food science and knowing what is actually good, and what foods have an actual effect on health issues or are preventative, without having to worry about what scientific evidence actually consists of.

Monday Morning Fuck You

We seem to be having a problem. I regularly use google to search for this blog, to see what comes up. I don't mind people linking to the content here, or even reproducing part or all of the entries. I do have a problem with this being done without appropriate credit for the work being given.

Which brings me to the reason that I am writing this with only half a cup of coffee in my system.

When I Googled this morning, I got a hit from netRightNation which seems to be a hub for a bunch of conservative blogs. Five entries from my blog can be found there, just by searching for my blog title, but there is no visible credit, and I would rather not have my work or the work of my co-bloggers reproduced at that particular site.

I attempted to leave this comment:
Hello, this seems to be content from my website, but I see no attribution to me or any of my other contributors. I am curious how my content ended up here, and politely request that if my or the work of my co-bloggers is going to be reproduced, please give us appropriate credit, or remove our content.
Thank you.

However, their commenting system seems not to work. I was able to find no way of contacting their admin, and have officially lost my temper.


::grumbles off to kick someone::

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Narcissistic Fool Makes His Foolishness Apparent

Okay, I was gonna avoid this, simply because it has been talked about in quite a few places already, but, frankly, I'm bored. So I will be taking that out on all of you, and of course, on the poor victim of my scathing wit.

::cue evil laughter::

Anywho, there is this gentleman, a distinguished sort, who was working as a molecular biologist at UC Irvine, which is a state school. There is this lovely little law in California, Assembly Bill 1825, which mandates that state employees holding a supervisory position must take two hours of sexual harassment training every two years.

Well, he felt that this was quite wrong, and refused to take the training unless the university would issue an official document stating that he had never sexually harassed anyone. The university refused, and took away his supervisory duties due to non-compliance with the law.

Wait now...this is where the FUN starts!

He decides to write a scathing editorial for the LA Times about the sham of sexual harassment training, in which he desperately clutches his pearls about his precious academic rights and his tenured position and how it was brutally snatched away from him by, and I quote,
...a vocal political/cultural interest group promoting this silliness as part of a politically correct agenda that I don’t particularly agree with.


Hold on a minute...

There's that pesky "I'm so oppressed by the PC Thought Police!" thing again! Seriously, what is it with white privileged male "oppression"? That's right! I forgot, he is throwing a temper tantrum, not laying out substantive critique. Allow me to demonstrate, we can start with the above quote.

So, what "agenda" does he disagree with? The "agenda" that non-white/male/abled/straight /cis persons should be able to work in an environment free of harassment? Or the "agenda" of the state ensuring that supervisors receiving state funds know what the laws are and how to deal with situations that the laws are applicable to?


He disagrees with the "agenda" of:
...the state, acting through the university, is trying to coerce and bully me into doing something I find repugnant and offensive. I find it offensive not only because of the insinuations it carries and the potential stigma it implies, but also because I am being required to do it for political reasons.



He does know that these trainings are usually conducted seminar style, right? according to the initial article, he also could have taken the online version of the training, so that the only people who knew he had done so would be himself, and the bureaucrats who keep track of such things. That being understood, what stigma is he talking about exactly? What part of ALL state paid supervisors having to take this training did he miss? How does this create stigma again? Or is he suggesting that ALL state paid supervisors in the state of California are being accused of sexual harassment, since they ALL have to take this training?

That and there are a great many laws over the years have been offensive or violating, and people worked to change them, often times by violating the laws with full knowledge of the consequences.

As opposed to violating the laws and acting surprised that they didn't just accommodate you.

But then again, it is all about you, isn't it?
The imposition of training that has a political cast violates my academic freedom and my rights as a tenured professor. The university has already nullified my right to supervise my laboratory and the students I teach. It has threatened my livelihood and, ultimately, my position at the university. This for failing to submit to mock training in sexual harassment, a requirement that was never a condition of my employment at the University of California 30 years ago, nor when I came to UCI 11 years ago.

So your academic freedom hinges on you being ignorant, willfully so, of the laws regarding equal treatment in your state? wha? Your rights as a tenured professor include the right to harass? of course the university nullified your responsibility, YOU FAILED to meet the requirements that would grant you those privileges. I don't get a driver's license just because I have never run anyone over in a car, you don't get to supervise people without full knowledge of the laws that must be respected while you do your job.

Also, Professor? As opposed to 30 years ago, women are now legally people, and you are legally obligated to treat them as such, because while you seem to have missed it, society EVOLVED around you.

I'm sorry to tell you this, Professor, but for all your whinging about your precious reputation and how being asked to do something that everyone else has to do too makes you look bad, and how "you don't have to take it if you don't wanna!", the only one ruining your reputation is you.

Instead of appearing principled, you appear to be a three year old, who has thrown themselves on the ground kicking, screaming and generally causing a scene in order to cover a guilty conscience. I have a much younger sister, sir. I know the whine of "No one EVER BELIEVES ME!" and that it is an indicator of guilt.

Grow up, cause in the real world, that shit don't fly.

Bush's Environmental Legacy

It's ironic that an administration that likes to quote Theodore Roosevelt as much as the Bush administration does would have spent 8 years actively undoing the protections of the National Park System that Teddy established. One key example here is the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska. One of W.J. Clinton's final acts before leaving office was to extend protections to this nearly pristine wilderness, which was then the largest unlogged coastal temperate rainforest in the world. These protections were rolled back gradually when Bush 2.0 took office and since 2001 the Tongass has lost nearly 20% of it's old growth forest.
The Bush administration has been busy entrenching supporters in the EPA and The Federal Bureau of Land Management as well. According to the Washington Post, between March and November of 2008 the administration has made 20 political appointees in the Department of the Interior into career government bureaucrats protected from the 'whims' of the shifting political landscape. Simply put, agents of the Bush administration are being inserted into permanent positions to protect the interests of logging and mining industries in the Obama era. Still looking to make a buck for your friends at the cost of further rape of the earth, eh Georgie Boy?
Congressman Raul Grijalva (D) AZ, who is apparently under consideration for Secretary of the Interior, issued a letter on October 18, 2008 detailing many of Bush's sins against the land. This administration has ran roughshod over the Constitution, the people of several sovereign nations, and the planet. It's time for this reign of terror to end and to fade quietly into the annals of history.

Sunday reader time!

Its gonna be a quadruple espresso day...I can tell.
Okay! On to the readings!

-White People Think That People of Colour Have More Culture @Restructure! There isn't much I can say that the post doesn't say better. This is the first time I have read anything over there, but I think it will get added to the blogroll. Quote:
"White liberals* in North America often say things like, “White people have no culture.” For the overwhelming majority of white liberals, to be white is to be boring. Some white people even claim that they are “jealous” of people who are not white, as if non-white people have “culture” that white people do not, due to the sole fact they have a higher concentration of melanin in their skin, eyes, or hair.

Of course, the very definition of culture necessitates that white people have a culture." (emphasis in the original)

Go read it. I'll wait.

-Bjork turned 43 on Friday: For those of you who don't know me well, I am a pretty huge Bjork fan (plus we are both Scorpios. Woo-woo geek joy!!!) and the post I linked to has some great videos of hers as well as audio tracks. It also has a link to one of the issues she is active on at the moment, concerning environmentalism in Iceland.

-Quickhit: Lauredhel reports on some particularly egregious Aussie racism.

-Quickhit: Vatican "forgives" John Lennon. @Shakesville.

-Notorious Heterosexuals over at Pam's.
"If anyone wants to make the argument that no LGBT people should be allowed to marry because some go to circuit parties or some lose their temper when their rights are violated, I will reply with some of the most awful and vicious things heterosexuals have done and paint the speaker with the same brush.

I have had it.

If I am responsible for every gay faux pas, then every heterosexual is guilty of every awful act of every other heterosexual."

-Social institutionalization of heteronormative families: This article is written in very specific sociological language, but it is also very very good.
"It seems to me that as a society, we’d be better off supporting individuals and their decisions about the way they want to fashion their life commitments and relationships (sexual or otherwise), rather than catering to one specific template, and then blaming non-traditional families for their struggles that is actually created by their lack of support in our marriage-centric society."

-Trans Murder Apology @The Jaded Hippy about the tendency in some circles to blame transpeople for "getting themselves murdered" by "lying" about who they "really" are:
"It's not her words or her lack of words that creates this "lie", it is her very existence, and more importantly, his response to her existence. He is attracted to her, and by his definition she is not a "real" woman, but in fact a man. Thus he was attracted to a man, in his mind. If this is what he is in fact responding to, as I'm arguing, then his resulting rage is rooted in homophobia.

These responses from these men aren't about the T/I person. They are purely about themselves and their fear of what their attraction to a person with an intersex/trans history means in relation to their self identity as a heterosexual male."

(Edited to remove "feminist" upon clarification from the original author)

-God Angrily Clarifies "Don't Kill" Rule: Special press conference!
"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Kaity's Hot Cocoa

Philadelphia may not be Buffalo, NY but we have our share of cold winters and this one has gotten cold rather quickly. The other night, in keeping with fine winter tradition, I decided to make one of my favorite winter comfort foods. Hot Cocoa, oh ambrosia.... sweet nectar of the chilly gods.

Kaity's Hot Cocoa

6oz milk
4oz half & half or cream
1.5 Tbsp quality cocoa
1.5 Tbsp sugar (I like to use Sugar in the Raw for the molassesy goodness, but any will do)
1 tsp chili pepper powder
1 big fun cheerful mug

Combine milk, cocoa, sugar and chili powder in a pan and heat; stirring regularly. When the powder is mostly dissolved into the milk add the half & half or cream. Keep stirring until hot and without clumps. Do not boil:)
Adjust chili powder to taste. Personally, I really like capsaicinoids (pepper's 'spicy' compounds) so I usually double the chili powder for myself. No worries for those that don't like spicy foods, the milk fat in the cocoa will help to eliminate a lot of the 'spiciness' anyway.

Pour into mug, pad back into living room and enjoy the spicy, sweet, chocolatey goodness.

There's a good reason why both the Mayan and Aztec cultures held cacao plants in high esteem.
We now know that cacao (chocolate) is a good source of antioxidants and theobromine an alkyloid with mood enhancing effects.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Americana Under Assault by Queer Special Forces


According to the new video being circulated by the AFA, yet another reactionary group on the religious wrong fringe, the queers have invaded quiet Eureka Springs, Arkansas and are using it as a forward operating base to expand our 'gay agenda' into the heartland of America. I came across this piece of news on Feministing. No longer content to remain in our liberal bastions of the Eastern Corridor and our beloved Left Coast, we are apparently aggressively attempting to undermine the very fabric of this ultra-conservative christian nation called 'Fly-over Land' or alternatively 'The United States of Jebus'.
I can almost see the AFA's collective nightmare of a sky-blue Blackhawk helicopter with Rainbow insignia inserting a Queer Agenda Special Operations A-team to taint the city's water supply with 'the gay'. In order to ensure total compliance of the local heteronormative population, the Special Operations A-team will be supported by the 1st Transvestite Air Assault Battalion led by Eddie Izzard looking fabulous.
Meanwhile, back in reality....
The only real gay agenda is basic civil rights for every person regardless of sexual or gender identity or lack thereof.