Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lamest sex scandal ever.

I just can't get too excited about Larry Craig being arrested for trying to get laid. I also can't exactly get behind the accusations of hypocrisy - sure, he's voted against gay rights, but he's also basically lived (and his career has died) by those unfair and bigoted rules so far. He's married to a woman, and he's going to lose his job because he's gay after all. He was in a position of enough power that he could make a double life work for decades, which isn't a luxury most of us can afford, and it reflects very poorly on his character that he didn't seem to notice or care. This is exactly what often goes very wrong when those who can buy their way into being exceptions make the rules, and I can only hope that Craig's crash and burn will make it clearer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We can handle the truth redux

When I posted "We can handle the truth," last week, I was aware that it would be difficult to articulate what I meant without seeming like a total jerk. And as it turns out, I wasn't completely successful in my attempt to not sound like a jerk.

I've had a while to think about the various responses, though, and a little bit of of news that has proven to be a good example with which to demonstrate what I'm trying to get at.

In response to my post wherein I downplayed the importance of the "finding" that women prefer pink, Amanda Marcotte says today:
I think the logic goes something like this: Armchair evolutionary psychologists are always trying to argue that women were born to wear aprons and abhor shoes and book-learning. Which we all know is silly. But if they can establish in people’s minds the idea that women are born preferring pink, then it’s easy to start convincing people that other, less arbitrary and more oppressive markers of femininity are also innate.
What she's saying here is that if "they" can convince people of one essentially biological thing about women, then they can convince them of anything. I like to think that people are a little smarter than that, and I think we have some good proof that they are. People are pretty well-convinced that women can be pregnant and men cannot, but they don't seem to be all that convinced that a woman can't be President but a man can.

There was a time in America when people believed otherwise, though, but not all of our understanding of women has changed since then. Women have not dispensed with pregnancy or convinced anyone they have. Women have, through hard work and defiance and legal breakthroughs, forced many people to understand their ability to do things other than bear and raise children.

We have plenty of empirical evidence that women can be full and productive participants in society. The empirical evidence is the easy part, though. The pink study did show a preference amongst women for a different range of colors than the ones men preferred. I don't have much reason to question what was found. The thing about it being encoded into our genes? Not exactly supported by the study. The even-further-removed idea that if human ancestors employed a sexual division of labor we ought to? Not even a matter of science.

We can pick the nits of these studies all we want, but we're going to be doing it into eternity if we can't convince people that the presence of ovaries or testicles in their bodies do not determine what course their lives should lead. To a yet-to-be-determined extent the orgns do affect how we live our lives, but there's a difference between "do," and "should."

In a lot of ways, it's hard to convince people that feminism makes sense in a world where men and women are actually different from each other. We don't have the whole picture of the generalized biological differences between men and women. Even if we did have that, we wouldn't be able to use those generalities to make assumptions about individuals. And, if we went ahead and made those assumptions, they still wouldn't be able to begin to address the moral value of any human being.

We could have ended up in a Universe that couldn't support equal treatment of men and women. The human species could have ended up with the males having vastly superior mental capacities to females'. Or we could have ended up like the anglerfish, the male's biomass being almost entirely made up of testicles, with little capacity beyond sperm production. I'm glad to say we didn't. Even with the huge amount of attention and money and time spent on discerning the Big Differences between XY and XX, the best they're coming up with is that girls tend to like pinkish purple.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Pink is for girls, so it must be bad?

I've never been bothered by the pink-is-for-girls, blue-is-for-boys thing. It's utterly arbitrary. The way it's used to enforce gender roles is irksome, but a world where the colors had the same gendered associations but people weren't expected to necessarily lead such gendered lives - that would be fine by me. If that association were somehow tied to biology? Fine, whatever. So when I see a Feministing post disparaging a study that purports* to show an innate preference for pink in women, my first thought is, "Who cares?"

*weakly

It all fits!

Via Gawker, a Tennessee state representative puts all the pieces of liberal hypocrisy together, spurred by the case of Michael Vick:
But does anyone besides me see the hypocrisy of some on the left who go nuts about Michael Vick and the whole dog fighting thing and yet are the same people who don't care about the loss of human life caused by illegal aliens or are the same people who fight for the right to kill unborn babies?
...
My friend Lee Frank made a comment to me after the radio show "Lets talk Frank" I was on this afternoon. He said.....

"If Terry Schiavo was a dolphin or a dog (or a wale)she would still be alive today"

I found it hard to disagree.I started to think.
How many dogs have been killed in dog fights versus how many babies have been killed in abortion clinics or by illegal immigrants. I bet dog deaths pale by comparison. But what do we see on TV every day on about every news channel?

Dog fighting is cruel and inhumane. But if Vick could have figured out a way to pit two unborn babies against each other in a fight to the death, maybe we'd outlaw killing children as quickly as we rushed to enhance penalties for crimes involving our pets.
If there were ever a cause that could unite the fragmented liberal interest groups, it's fetus deathmatches. Though I'm not really sure where the baby-killing immigrants fit in. Stay tuned to Rep. Stacy Campfield's blog for clarification.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Correcting an Oversight

Did you know that South Idaho political activist Jim Hansen has a blog? You probably did, because I'm apparently the last person to know. It wasn't until sitting down with him at a special session of Drinking Liberally on Thursday that I was finally introduced to the fact. It was kind of embarrassing to admit I didn't know, but I guess finding out late is better than not finding out at all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Judy Blume Updated

I don't have much to add, I just thought it was cool that Judy Blume's books Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, and Forever have been updated to do away with outdated information and reflect current sexual health precautions. From Reproductive Health Reality Check:

While making the text accessible to adolescents, the update wasn’t without controversy; some ardent fans decried the changes as tampering with a classic. Blume justified the change as a minimal loss with great benefit of better communicating with today’s readers.

“No one uses belts any more,” Blume told The Providence Phoenix in 1998 “Half the mothers haven't used them. [Contemporary readers] have to go to their grandmothers.”

Forever is another Blume novel touched with up-to-date health information—and its stakes are older than simple clarity.

Aimed for an older audience than Margaret, Forever was written as Blume’s response to her daughter’s simple request: she wanted to see a story about teenagers who had sex without being punished by grisly abortions, miscarriages, or deaths.

“I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly,” Blume writes on her website.

Forever’s Katherine and Michael seriously talk about their decision before they have sex, and after a visit to a health clinic, Katherine receives a birth control prescription.

It’s that scene that Blume refers to in a one-page preface added to recent editions of the book.

She writes:

“The seventies were a time when sexual responsibility meant preventing unwanted pregnancy. Today, sexual responsibility also means preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. In this book Katherine visits a clinic and is given a prescription for The Pill. Today, she would be told it is essential to use a condom along with any other method of birth control. If you’re going to become sexually active, then you have to take responsibility for your own actions. So get the facts first.”

Cross-posted on Feministe

Congressman Sali: I oughta get me backhoe. Can't dig very fast with this shovel.

UPDATE: Sali has apologized to Keith Ellison, a House representative who is Muslim. I'm wondering whether he plans on extending that to his constituents of different faiths who don't fancy being told their participation in government is not welcome.

Bill Sali decided to clarify his position on the fundamental right for people of all faiths to full citizenship in America in a newspaper editorial today, and unfortunately for him, he succeeded.


Religious freedom,
Christian faith important to future

By U.S. Rep. Bill Sali
Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I want to thank the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board for its kind words in Sunday’s editorial. I am reminded of the fact that the Press-Tribune was skeptical (to say the least) about me last year, and to have it refer to me as a “thoughtful, effective statesman” now is quite a turnaround. Thank you for that expression of confidence.

Please allow me to persuade you to return to your original position.
But the Press-Tribune editorial board has reservations about me advocating that Christian principles form the foundation of our great republic, and they made those reservations known Sunday. So let me be clear: I support the freedom of every person to worship according to the dictates of his or her conscience.

What he appears not to support is their equal standing in society.
The U.S. Constitution requires there “shall be no religious test” for holding public office. Last January I took my oath to uphold the Constitution, and that oath is sacred to me. I meant it then, and I mean it now. Christians and non-Christians are equally worthy to hold elected office. That’s entirely up to voters.
But only the Christian kind.

Yet the debate over my comments boils down to this: Should the future of our country rest upon the Judeo-Christian convictions of our Founding Fathers or the religious diversity advocated by the Left? I choose the Founding Fathers.

Except there is the small problem that the Founding Fathers explicitly intended to separate the business of their government from the religious membership of its citizems. Back to that voter thing, though - I guess we could always amend the Constitution.

Our nation was founded on principles that the founders took largely from Scripture. Those principles provide the basis for our form of government and are the source of the rights we enjoy as Americans.
Um, no. We can actually thank the heathen Greeks for introducing us to the concept of Democracy, which is not exactly a Biblically-ordained system of governance.

The Founding Fathers did not envision the U.S. as a theocracy. But they did envision our nation as one founded on principles derived from the Bible. As an aged John Adams wrote in a letter to his old friend Thomas Jefferson, “The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were ... the general principles of Christianity.”
The thing is, we achieved independence through that great Christian principle, war. (I kid!) Seriously, there is kind of a difference between reminiscing about how a war was won and sitting down and figuring out the nuts and bolts of a new system of government. And if the FF did not envision the U.S. a theocracy, maybe he oughtn't put words in their mouth to make it appear like they did.

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Those rights come from our creator — God — and are unalienable: They are essential to every human being. The Founding Fathers then set about — with great success — to make it government’s job to protect and respect those individual rights.
Sali, though, appears to be getting sick of a few of those rights. I mean, really, do we need ALL of them?

Our Judeo-Christian heritage is now being eroded by people who believe all claims about truth should be treated as equal. At first blush this philosophy violates the motto from our great seal, E Pluribus Unum, which translates “out of many, one.” That motto drives us to pledge we are “one nation under God.”
I think the expression Sali is searching for here is "My way or the highway."

If some on the Left have their way, our motto would seem to be E Pluribus Pluribus, or “out of many, many.” The only way to maintain “cultural diversity” and “ethnic difference” is to diminish and ultimately disregard the Judeo-Christian heritage that has long been the safeguard of our personal and national liberty.
Sali does have this partially right. The only way to maintain cultural diversity and ethnic difference is to diminish and disregard the Judeo-Christian heritage that has safeguarded the personal and national liberty of white Christian folk through genocide, imperialism and discrimination. It's an ill-advised and most would say un-Christian tradition, but it's history all the same. Most of us would like to keep it that way. Ensuring our civil liberties is an excellent way of moving society forward from such black marks on a cultural record, but Sali is apparently stuck in the past.

For example, to protect the language of every ethnic group, multiculturalists would find it hard to support English as the official language of the U.S. The Judeo-Christian heritage would protect the right of every man to know and speak as many languages as he desires, but the banner of E Pluribus Unum could restrict our official language to one, the product of our country’s origin and for 400 years the common language of the American people: English.
As many have already pointed out, "the banner of E Pluribus Unum" would have to restrict our official language to Latin, if there's only going to be one. And I hardly see how restricting the use of languages other than English (and Latin, I guess) will do more to "protect" a language than to refrain from restricting people's communication to begin with.
The Judeo-Christian principles on which our republic was founded can be embraced, defended and practiced by people of any faith. Anyone doing so will find an ally in me. But when principles outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition begin to be promoted within Congress, we should all recognize that the government given to us by the Founding Fathers will be at risk. That should give every American serious pause.
I guess it's nice of Sali to offer to ally with people who are exactly like him, but other than that, this paragraph is complete nonsense. The US government is itself designed to operate "outside the princples of the Judeo-Christian tradition," so that it can deal with things like, say, the free market, or Archimedes' principle, or any number of things that are irreligious in nature.

I'm not sure whether Sali thinks that the Capitol is powered by God running on a huge hamster wheel buried deep beneath Washington or what, but he's got some serious cause-and-effect issues going on here. Which I suppose explains why he gets so many other things backwards. Like whether the best thing you could do when you find yourself in a hole is to keep digging.

EDIT: I dashed this post off in a hurry, but I'd like to add that what Sali is talking about is not protecting his personal values from encroachment by others'. What he can't live without is his values butting their way into the lives of everyone else. He can't sit around and watch a Hindu prayer - he has to watch his prayer being pushed on the Hindu guy. He's working to protect Christian Supremacy, not Christian worship, and most definitely not American values.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thinking outside the bra

...but underneath the skin. Via Women's Health News, it has come to my attention that Israeli scientists have devised a technology now in testing that is, in essence, an internal bra. Internal as in underneath the skin.

CupUp


We can handle the truth.

The way the world actually is almost always is apparent to us before we know why it it is the way it is. This is pretty inconvenient, especially when deciding what we ought to be doing with the world. Lots of immigrants score low on IQ tests, boys play more sports than girls, little girls flock towards princess-themed toys. Most liberals, asked to respond to these facts, would probably begin with, "Yeah, but..." This is because we know that people are able to shape the world around them, even the people around them, and it's pretty often that we do it badly. We condition women to hate their bodies and defer to men, we construct intelligence tests that are a more reliable measure of whiteness and class than intelligence. When we're not rigging our findings, we're rigging our methods of measurement.

Still, I have a lot of faith in my socio-political understanding of the world. I think that my feelings about equality and justice and race and gender and class are borne out by reality. This is sometimes true because the reality that controls how these things affect us is entirely human-created: why would we want to use a legal system that puts men and women on unequal footing? Other times, it's empirically true: women are perfectly capable of changing the oil in their cars.

I thought about this when I read Kate Harding's post about "zombie fat" being passed on from generation to generation. Harding found a news article about a study that showed a link between any history of high weight or obesity in a mother's lifetime and high-birthweight infants. She thought it was ridiculous: some sort of fat-phobic anti-fantasy about people being forever marked - even through generations - by ever having succumbed to fat. I get why she had this reaction, but I also think it's premature: there are influences outside of the genetic code that control the interitance of traits and development of organisms. From just the top of my head, a (vague!) explanation I can think of that might contribute to this finding is that if people see changes in their metabolism over their lifetimes, and decide to diet and lose the weight anyway, the fetus they're carrying will also be affected by the same metabolic system - so if you gain 10 pounds when you look at chocolate, that might have a similar effect on what's developing in your womb. Or perhaps the hormonal effects that adipose tissue can have on the body change something about the workings of a woman's reproductive system, maybe something affecting cellular metabolism in the egg or...

Anyway, my point is that it's not completely absurd to believe that this study's findings reflect reality. But having a degree in molecular biology, I am privy to some information Harding is not. I don't mean to pick on people who don't have all the specific knowledge that I do. I know I've had more than one situation in which I've ridiculed ideas that turned out to be true. What I want to get at is that in general, I am inclined to believe that studies published in peer-reviewed journals aren't complete bunk. I wouldn't have expected zombie fat to attack my children either, but hey, if it happens, it happens. I'm not especially well-trained in statistics, and I don't know much about health beyond a few maladies that mostly afflict cows. Knowing what I do, I'm probably going to do a better job of fitting weird news into my moral universe than criticizing the methodology of a paper. Give me information in an area of my expertise, and that changes. But unlike some, for me most things do not fall under that category.

I don't mean to skip over the fact that ideas will spread through the media, purportedly supported by science, that are in fact complete bunk. Most Feministe readers probably remember the out-and-out lies put forth in the book "The Female Brain," such as the idea that women speak 20,000 words per day to men's 7,000.

But suppose it were true. What would women talking almost three times as much as men mean to the feminist philosophy? Would it damage the notion that men and women are the same in every respect except reproductive? Yes, but that notion clearly isn't true anyway. Would it change the need for equal pay for equal work, mean that girls don't want to play baseball, or damage the moral equality between men and women? Not in the least.

One of my greatest feminist blogging pet peeves is seeing a study reported with some atrocious, stupid, or wrong-headed conclusion reacted to with "Why are we studying this anyway?" It's a nice pair with one of my greatest "I'm so un-PC" pet peeves: jerks who are sure they're telling liberals the truths liberal philosophy can't handle.

But of course they're not. The "dangerous ideas" link is full of daaaangerous questions that have answers as straightforward as any other question does, if you're willing to ignore the way they're loaded.
Are suicide terrorists well-educated, mentally healthy and morally driven?
Well, yes, often.
Were the events in the Bible fictitious -- not just the miracles, but those involving kings and empires?
Many of them, yes.
Did Native Americans engage in genocide and despoil the landscape?
Sure, depending on how you're going to define these terms.

The only reason that these questions are meant to get a rise out of the asked is because of what I was getting at in my first paragraph: the difference between the way things are and the way they ought to be. Is it ok to unnecessarily pollute because Native Americans also had an impact on their environment? Is terrorism cool because it's often committed by the well-educated?

Of course not. Making ethical decisions demands synthesis from the facts of the universe, not surrender to history.

Not everything we know fits well into a feminist philosophy. There are questions that are still hard to answer. Why does the gender pay gap persist after anti-discrimination laws have been passed? Is PMS a big deal?

The answers to these questions are complicated, and difficult to convey, and don't sound the same when you ask different feminists. A better picture of what's going on can only work to clarify feminist thinking on these issues, though. For example, I don't follow very closely the study of sexuality and the degree to which is innate. I think the answer has moral relevance - it's awfully cruel to insist people who are naturally gay that they can change their nature - but either way, it's okay if you're gay. Working out the ethical problem (I don't think it's a difficult one, but there are plenty of Americans who do) of whether homosexuality is morally acceptable is separate from working out whether or not it is innate. A 100% physical cause of homosexuality can as easily be considered a pathology as benign.

The worst-case-scenario is that we'll find something we didn't expect, like that women just aren't as good at math as men. Such a conclusion wouldn't mean that it's okay to rape or that there aren't plenty of talented female mathematicians and physicists. We've gotten good enough at asking the right questions and interpreting the answers to know that men and women (and anyone else on or off the gender continuum) have enough human potential that their gender doesn't need to dictate how they live their lives.

Finding the truth is a big hurdle, but deciding what to do with it is what's most consequential. We always have to be vigilant against bad, biased science promulgated by bad, biased media. It's out there all the time. But it's a mistake to confuse unexpected or inconvenient news for bad news or lies.

Hear ye, hear ye

I'm going to be guest-blogging at Feministe this week starting today. Woo! If it's not one of your regular reads, consider dropping by this week.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Idaho Blogging: Inaugural Edition

I've been remiss in my coverage of Idaho politics for...well, several months. So I'm going to start a new feature here, where I'll round up the Idaho blogging and news I found noteworthy, and add my commentary when I feel I've got something to say.

Without further ado...

The embarassment to Idaho known as Bill Sali has been under fire this week, making national news for complaining about including non-Christians in American public life, and predicting America's downfall as a result of religious pluralism. From TPM, here's the original quote that got Sali in trouble:
"We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers," asserts Sali.

Sali says America was built on Christian principles that were derived from scripture. He also says the only way the United States has been allowed to exist in a world that is so hostile to Christian principles is through "the protective hand of God."

"You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike," says the Idaho Republican.

According to Congressman Sali, the only way the U.S. can continue to survive is under that protective hand of God. He states when a Hindu prayer is offered, "that's a different god" and that it "creates problems for the longevity of this country."
It was enough to prompt the Idaho Democratic Party Chair, Richard Stallings, to call for Sali's resignation, even after Sali's handlers attempted damage control, saying that Sali was simply making a "historical observation." Nevermind that no Founding Fathers (who did not share Sali's Christian Evangelical faith, as much as he'd like to think they did) did not predict "problems for the longevity of this country" at the hands of religious freedom (or if they did, I don't know why they'd have written it into the Constitution).

Not content to let his publicist wave the problem away with distracting non-answers to the many Idahoans who do not share Sali's particular faith, the Mountain Goat brings us news that Sali does, in fact, have a problem with other faiths' (and the nonfaithful's) presence in America.
Friday, Sali said multiculturalism is in conflict with the national motto “E Pluribus Unum,” or “out of many, one.” He said multiculturalism would mean “out of the many, the many.”

“The question is, is multiculturalism good or not?” Sali said. “I don’t think the Founding Fathers were multicultural. Multiculturalism is the antithesis of (the motto).”
and
In response to his concerns about the Hindu prayer offered in the Senate in July, Sali said it is Christianity that drives many good causes in the United States.

“Christian principles work, and they show up in a lot of different areas,” Sali said. “Most of the hospitals in this country have Christian names. If you think Hindu prayer is great, where are the Hindu hospitals in this country? Go down the list. Where are the atheist hospitals in this country? They’re not equal.”
And so we see demonstrated the strong relationship between ignorance and bigotry. As Bubblehead points out, "E Pluribus Unum," is not even this country's motto (and it doesn't fit with Idaho's English-only law, for that matter - read Bubblehead's discussion to get a good picture of how fractally wrong Sali is getting this). And even if it were, if Sali can't see the basic message of creating unity from many different people in the motto, what exactly can he comprehend? A representative whose understanding of the world around him is so selfish that he can't see the strong support for religious pluralism in the Constitution is clearly only representing one thing: himself.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Note

You don't get the booby prize without being treated like the booby.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Couldn't have happened to a nicer species

Like most people, I'm saddened to hear that the Yangtze river dolphin has in all likelihood become extinct due to human activity. It's a sad commentary on industrial capitalism, etc etc.

But let's not kid ourselves. This thing was revolting.

It's nearly blind, with only rudimentary eyes. It smells like sewage (mostly because it lives in the highly-polluted Yangtze). It's not cute like Flipper - not in the least.

If I had to choose a species to obliterate, this might be it.

UPDATE II: For more debatably ugly or cute creatures, see Ugly Overload.

UPDATE: The comments have brought up some interesting ideas, and I left this response, but since it's so long and apparently not obvious (fair enough, I say), I'm going to repost it here.

It's funny how this thread has turned out, because it's actually brought up a lot of Big Interesting Questions, for which I think I have somewhat unorthodox answers with which most of you might not agree, but probably not in the way you're thinking.

Don't get me wrong, I do think it's horrible that this animal has gone extinct. It indicates trouble for the future of human existence, and it's made a bunch of people sad. But I don't place any particular moral value on the existence of any species (even humans really, but I'll get to that in a bit). I like dogs and cats and sharks and lobsters and cows and earthworms, but I don't think that their particular manifestations are important in any moral way. Some of these animals I like to hang out with and pet, some I like to eat, some I just think are cool, and others are integral to making a world that I can live in. Note that these are all pretty self-serving reasons to like biodiversity. Being as atheistic as I am, though, and looking at the universe as open-ended, I think that the only really sensible or realistic way to look at the environment is a vehichle for human survival, human pleasure and human progress. Just like I reject the idea that having an abortion is screwing with fate and murdering a human being, I reject the idea that there's any particular form our environment is supposed to take in any moral sense. Think of it this way: would the world be worse off if cows had 8 eyes instead of 2? Why?

My allegiences are always with people, and always against human suffering (when I'm being consistent). This is due to my admittedly limited ability to understand the moral reasoning of non-sentient beings, which has led me to a short-hand of believing that there just isn't any. If causing the extinction of all fuzzy animals would, say, end rape and have no consequences beyond a net loss in my daily experience of cuteness, I'd be all for it. This is of course not possible, any more than it is that we need to decide between human existence and the Yangtze river dolphin's. And I think it's important to err on the side of open possibilities, and preserve the things that we like for whatever reasons (spiritual, aesthetic, entertainment, medical) we come up with. This dolphin has been called a river goddess, and though I don't share in valuing it spiritually, the fact that others do is important to me and one of many reasons to (have) work(ed) for its preservation.

But, as you can see, if it were up to me, if there were a fill-in-the-blank species up on the chopping block that I had to choose, according to my values and whims and having little to do with reality, this guy is one of them. I can think of others - say, mosquitoes.

But I do realize the reasons why this is absurd, and that's where the joke part comes in. To me, one of the most compelling reasons to preserve the environment is that we don't know what the consequences will be, and as far as we've shown ourselves, they're usually pretty bad for us. There are plenty of consequences of environmental irresponsibility I'd like to avoid, but my point is that if we know the consequences of a choice, I want to err on the side of human health and happiness. And I want to know why we shouldn't if others disagree with me.

Even if we were to wreak destruction on the Earth and cause our own extinction, the world would go on living or not with no one around to care. The pain and suffering that would be experienced would be rued by all, but when it's over it's Over. (I should point out that thought it might be kinda funny to wish extinction on human beings, it's been done before, and no would be around to get the joke).

Maybe this is taking atheism further than most people are willing, but it's where it's gotten me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smoky turkey burgers with caramelized onions and spicy brown mustard

I spent some time this weekend looking through a Cooking Light magazine with a feature on burgers, and though I can't remember any specifics, I'm pretty sure this recipe is a varation on something that was in the article.

Whether or not I cheated in coming up with the recipe, I'm not sure. I am sure that the finished product was delicious. The usual complaint with turkey burgers is that they're tasteless and dry, but between the smoky cheese, the caramelized onions, and the pungent mustard, lack of flavor wasn't a worry. I'm a strong believer in the idea that all foods can be delicious if prepared correctly, and well-seasoned turkey burgers are no exception. In fact, I came to the conclusion that beef would just be too much for this burger. Try this on a hot day when you're missing the strong flavors of comfort food but not the heaviness that usually comes along with it. Take the time to let the onions caramelize slowly over medium-low heat, use a great smoked cheddar, and you won't be disappointed. (I used Tillamook's smoked black pepper white cheddar, and it was amazing!)

1 Walla Walla (or other sweet variety) onion, sliced into thin rings
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1.2 lbs ground turkey (7% fat content - any lower and the burger will be too dry)
1 shallot, finely minced
1/3 cup grated zucchini
1-2 tsp salt (err on the side of more, according to your taste)
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp black pepper
4-5 shakes hot sauce, such as Tabasco

Sliced smoked cheddar

Buns, brown mustard, mayo

Set a heavy skillet over medium-low heat and add oil. Once oil and skillet have warmed up, add onions, stir to coat with oil, and add salt and pepper. Stir onions occasionally for about an hour, more often as cooking time goes on.

In between stirring onions, mix together remaining ingredients and form into patties. Cook on hot grill until meat is done all the way through. Melt cheese slices on burgers over grill and remove.

Assemble burgers on buns with a mound of caramelized onions and dollops of mustard and mayo.

Statistics

Did you know that at least 3 out of 4 Republican state legislators have entered a public restroom to find a "stocky black guy" cop posing as a prostitute and exited without offering to perform oral sex on the cop for $20*?

I wonder - is that the "statistic" Bob Allen was afraid of becoming?

*I should clarify: that's an offer of paying the cop $20 for the privilege of performing oral sex on the cop. Yes, really.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The biggest mystery of all: how does he not get beat up wearing a hat like that?

Salon has a pretty amusing interview with self-anointed master of the "Venusian arts," a man named, simply, Mystery. Here he is explaining his recommended pick-up tactic of being kind of a jerk, or "negging."

The theory of "negging" is controversial. I've heard it criticized as simply veiled insults and misogynistic.
Those are the people who haven't seen it in action. The result of any "neg" is laughter.

Doesn't this kind of scheming ultimately harbor a more deep-seated sense of inadequacy in men? Don't you start to worry about having the "real you" discovered?
You've never met me in person, have you? And you wrote that question down on a piece of paper before you met me. Here is the word that I don't enjoy, "scheming" -- I'm not a schemer.

What word would you be more comfortable with?
Let's go through it again. What's the question?

OK ... would this kind of scheming create a sense of inadequacy in men - a fear of being found out?
Wow. Did you write that? Snap out of it, woman! Oh my god. Let's come up with better questions than that -- that just doesn't fit into my reality. Are there people out there who scheme? Perhaps. Are there people out there who don't like themselves? Yeah. I like myself, I'm a good person.
This is really how I see it: If you don't learn these skills, if you don't learn what knowledge already exists in the Venusian Arts, your chances of survival and replication in this life will be compromised.


Who's surprised that this is all coming from a man who looks like this:

I somehow doubt that dressing like that and treating women like programmable, interchangeable fembots in the machinery of a world that exists to get you laid is the ticket to a great sex life. But then, I don't have a lipstick mark tattooed on my neck - what do I know?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's not a movie until there's a white person in it

I liked this essay at CHUD.com (via Racialicious).
I'll admit it: I am completely incapable of understanding other cultures, races, ethnicities and creeds without a white surrogate. I am frightened by the other. They smell different. They eat loudly. They lambada.

Thankfully, Hollywood feels the same way.
Read the whole thing. What it made me think of was how when I saw previews of Apocalypto - which has been widely denounced as racist and imperialist - it occurred to me that it was the only movie I could think of that was entirely about nonwhite people. (Bear in mind that I'm a total movie dilettante, so I'm sure I'm both looking in the wrong places and can't remember most of the movies I have seen anyway.) I only later learned that the white people come at the end, so I guess I was holding out too much hope for Mel Gibson to do something interesting and, uh, not racist. As the CHUD essay mercilessly points out, it's a much more daunting task to find an American movie that has no white people than it is to find a movie that has zero nonwhite people.

Given that most people in the world aren't white, and that the medium of film allows artists to take us anywhere in the world and anywhere imagined, that's pretty pathetic.

Blueberry mufin....cake

So I don't know where my muffin tins are.


But it's not really a big deal. I used this recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes, and it makes an amazing blueberry muffin...cake. I was pretty nervous when I made the batter - it uses butter and yogurt, and it comes out the consistency of warm cream cheese frosting. I did also replace some of the yogurt with sour cream, since I ran out of yogurt. What I ended up with is very, very rich, and much sweeter than I generally like my blueberry muffins. I'd rather my blueberry muffins taste more biscuity, and less sweet like cake.

But less than 24 hours later, one of those tins is empty. I think that speaks for itself.

Take my fetus. Please.

Ohio's proposed bill giving veto power to the father of a pregnancy for which a woman is seeking abortion is a terrible idea, simply put. What's more, it's a complete misreading of what the right to abortion is.

Women have veto power in the area of whether or not to continue a pregnancy because the right to abortion is a right to control one's own body. Treating it like a right to the property or custody of the developing child is misguided; the mother has no more claim to the fetus than the father does. The mother does, however, have it implanted in her womb. That's the connection over which the mother has control, and were there a way to transfer the fetus from mother to father - or mother to incubator - more power to the parent seeking custody.