Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cakewrecks and Kwanzaa



I don't know if you ever read the blog cakewrecks, but it's the gofugyourself of the pastry world, and they recently had an entry about a "Kwanzaa cake" that had been featured on Sandra Lee's (just awful) Food Network show. It took me a few readings to understand what exactly it was, but the cake had been created by Lee out of a storebought angel food cake, frosted with chocolate cinnamon icing, and decorated with popcorn, corn nuts, pumpkin seeds, and canned apple pie filling.

Gee-ross, right?

Until I read all the text in the post, I assumed it was some kind of racist joke with a "black people are tacky" punchline the blog author was making. The possibility remains it could have been a slur of that type on the part of Lee and her producers, and Wrecks was just reporting the carnage. The Food Network has long been criticized for excluding people of color, so I wouldn't put it past 'em.

Anyone familiar with Lee's show won't be surprised that she could take a wreck so far, but if it's too much for you to believe, YouTube has the clip


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TVA Disaster

I first heard about it on blogs/facebook, but from what I hear that's the only way a person is going to get much information about the gigantic environmental disaster that's occurred in Tennessee. I don't think it's a stretch to think of it as a Katrina-scale disaster, right down to a completely inept governmental response/prevention. The conspiracy-theory-turning wheels in my head blame the media blackout on coal industry sponsorship calling the shots of manistream media coverage.

At first, reports said that Arsenic and Mercury levels in drinking water in affected areas were safe, and there was a call to boil water (wouldn't that just concentrate the toxins that are now admitted to be present?).

If Bush really doesn't want to be remembered as the guy who bungled Katrina, he'd do well to get on this thing as soon as possible. Who else gets the chance to create and then try to mitigate this many disasters in eight years in office?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Project for Tomorrow

I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, but the new HHS conscience rules have finally convinced me to go for it: I'm going to call the different pharmacies in the Moscow-Pullman area and ask whether they provide service to those seeking contraception (emergency or otherwise). I've never had occasion to look for Plan B, so I don't know whether the pharmacy I use will sell it. They have gotten a lot of business from me this year, and I'm hoping they won't lose it tomorrow.

It's now the responsibility of any woman wishing to use prescription contraception to find out whether her medical providers will actually write or fill prescriptions for it. A few weeks ago, I saw someone somewhere suggest that Planned Parenthood get into the pharmacy business, and how fantastic it would be if they had pharmacies across the country that could be relied upon to serve customers' reproductive health needs. PP does already distribute birth control pills and Plan B, but a chain of pharmacies separate from clinics would surely be easier to maintain and a good revenue source. There's no PP clinic in Moscow, but I'd be happy to patronize a pharmacy if they operated one here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Procrastinator

Bush's legacy rehab program seems like something he should have started on, say, 8 years ago, instead of now.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Energy conservation in the West

I heard something on the radio the other day about the impact things like leaving lights on in rooms you're not using has on the environment, and it got me thinking about what my usage of power is causing to happen. In the Western US, most of our power is derived from salmonicidal dams, but they're there whether I leave my lights on or not. So I doubt that my conservation of energy could be translated into a number of salmon saved from a gruesome fate deep in the turbines.

Breaching dams or not is a pretty controversial subject in this area, but my feeling from what I've learned on the subject is that fish hatchery programs haven't worked, and even if we breached all the dams and tried heavy fish hatchery programs, we probably wouldn't see salmon runs return to anything but a pale shadow of their former existence. So if we don't get salmon back, what's the point of losing these green energy/economy-boosting resources?

So, who's up for a trip to the Hoover Dam?

Monday, December 15, 2008

"You're cute when you're angry," as a compliment

I've been watching the series Friday Night Lights, and I now have a gigantic crush on Coach Taylor. I was watching a scene where he gets really upset at a referee in a game, and I thought, "Aw, he's cute when he's angry," and realized why people think that could ever not be an insult. When you love someone, you love seeing them pursue their passions, and seeing them angry presents the opportunity to see what endears you to them emerge in full force. In eight years of monogamy, I've learned how good it is for Andy and I to go out with lots of people, since we both have and enjoy the instinct to try and "win the cocktail party," and get to see each other show off in ways we've already used up between ourselves. His kid with a retainer voice makes me laugh every time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hypothesis: There are fewer women in science because their brains aren't suited to hostile work environments

I hadn't looked into the story of the (male) biology professor who was demoted for refusing to take part in a sexual harassment seminar, thinking I could safely ignore yet another conservative whiner who can't deal with being implicated in the problems he perpetuates. The "Sexism is terrible and pervasive, and how dare you imply I am part of the problem when obviously I hate sexism more than anyone ever!" hand-waving isn't fooling anyone. From the article:
McPherson maintains that his refusal has little to do with sexual harassment and much to do with individual dignity.
Uh huh, sure, because sexual harassment doesn't harm any individual's dignity, so we can ignore it in favor of some dude who doesn't want to feel like he's ever contributed to the problem. Professor McPherson's feelings are hurt, so let's stop paying attention to the people whose careers are derailed by ignorant jerks and make an exception for him and his illusions.

Refusing to learn anything new about sexual harassment isn't making McPherson look like the expert on the issue he must be if he is so far beyond the problem that it is an insult to try and give him new information about it. If he were really worried about individuals' dignity, he would put some effort into helping maintain it, instead of derailing the efforts others are making. It's just not possible to make this kind of stink in good faith, because if the University feels the need to inoculate itself against the risk of sexual harassment by taking a shotgun approach, it must rely on a certain amount of ignorance to be perpetuated. If McPherson is so knowledgeable on the subject, he should know this, and accept help in being proactive about informing the pockets of ignorance that exist in anyone's understanding of the world. I don't think he doesn't know this stuff, but I think he doesn't care if he's perpetuating the problem. Precautions aren't punishments. People are fallible, and need to anticipate when their weak areas will be pressed beyond what their own sense of decency can withstand.

I will admit that I don't think I, as an entry-level female who has a fair amount of experience thinking about these things, would learn a heck of a lot at this kind of seminar, but a potential victim's ignorance is not as dangerous as a potential perpetrator's. When you're a man in a position of power in a field that tends to exclude women from positions of power, and you exercise bad judgement, you ARE perpetuating the status quo. Losing the privilege that the status quo awards you feels random and unfair, but never having access to it feels that way too.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What a brave man

Gregory Berns, director of the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory University is cleverly and courageously doing his job (i.e. taking on research projects) in the face of an uncertain (no - bad) economy. We stupid rats in boxes get nervous when our savings disappear, and don't have the capacity to add the current buzzprefix "neuro" to our job titles. If I got paid to annoy people stuck in MRI scanners, I'd be daring, too.

I DON'T care what your business is, but if you think it will eventually come back to what it was — your brain is in the grips of the fear-based endowment effect. What I am doing is looking for new opportunities. This means applying neuroscience discovery to realms where it hasn't been used before.

I have teamed up with anthropologists to apply brain imaging to understand the biological roots of political conflict. I am starting another project to use brain imaging to predict which teenagers are likely to make fatally bad judgments and, hopefully, train them to make better decisions.

This strategy keeps the exploratory system of my brain active. And right now there are incredible opportunities to do something differently. Yes, they're risky, and some will fail. But while others wait for the storm to pass, I'm busy expanding into new areas. If I wait for money to start flowing again, the opportunities will have passed.

I've moved on, but that doesn't change what happened

I have to admit that I found it via Fark, but this is an interesting article about people advocating on the behalf of sex offenders whose crimes exist within the range of at least icky and illegal, but in the minds of many, are not especially criminal.

My understanding is that in some states, sex offenders are registered at different levels, according to the severity of the original crime and the likelihood of reoffense. This makes perfect sense to me: rape is rape, but victims are always different, as are circumstances of the crime. The article goes out of its way to excuse statutory rape as not that bad. From where I sit, it seems like the tendency to commit such a crime is something a perpetrator would be likely to mature past, especially after being punished for it. A 23-year-old may think they have a lot in common with a 16-year-old, but they're probably not going to feel that way when they're thirty (because they don't). I was most alarmed by the work of one Jan Fewell, who looks up sex crime victims and calls them to try and recruit them to her offender's advocacy group and defend their own perpetrators by asking that they be treated leniently in light of the specific circumstances of the crimes they committed.

Fewell calls a victim and asks whether they were the victim of rape or if they'd had consensual sex. Leaving the two choices that stark seems a little manipulative to me, since a sex crime is prosecuted not for how a victim eventually comes to feel about it, but for the transgression itself.

I don't think sex offender registries do what they're supposed to do: they are said to exist to protect the communities in which sex offenders reside and work, but I think this is disingenuous. These registries exist to shame sex offenders and expose them to the vigilantism that can fit within the bounds of the law, like social stigma and employment and housing discrimination.

So a level III sex offender moves in next door. What am I supposed to do about it?

It's shameful to commit a sex offense, but I don't think forcing sex offenders into isolation and poverty really protects anyone. It might feel to most like a fitting punishment, but punishment doesn't undo or prevent crimes. Whatever a sex offender takes from a victim doesn't ever get paid back. Suffering is non-transferable.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Corner Bait

I've been only barely entertaining myself over the weekend, and I kind of randomly decided to rent The Golden Compass to keep me amused while I wait around for Andy to finish up some schoolwork.

I would love to be in the room with a time-traveling Republican from 2005 who turned this disc on. Not only is this a children's movie at the beginning of a book series where the progtagonists kill God, but nestled amongst the previews was an advertisement for the World Wildlife Fund's advocacy for the polar bear in the face of global warming.

I have a hard time believing that this double-affront on Republican orthodoxies was an accident.

Even if the WWF wasn't consciously trying to get the goat of Republicans (hopefully) past, they couldn't pass up the PR opportunity that a neat-looking armored polar bear in a hugely-hyped and expensive children's movie presented.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Winning Thanksgiving

I think I'm about to do it with chili-garlic sweet potato latkes that I made my husband do most of the prep work for. We've never really worked out the exact recipe, but it's a combination of grated sweet potatoes, chili garlic sauce, sliced green onions and egg and AP flour, made into little thin patties and fried in peanut oil.

Take that, turkey!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The GOP has finally convinced us of its uselessness

"Raising taxes is about killing jobs and hurting small businesses and making things worse."

- Sarah Palin


Via DailyKos, Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute is arguing that if Obama proves the conservative idea that government doesn't do anything of value wrong, then people are going to quit paying Republicans to go to congress and complain about congress' existence.

Sucks to be on the wrong side of reality, but that's how it goes when you're a Republican in 2008.

Cannon gets all of this right, except he tries to hide this argument about principle in one about optics, by calling Obama's approach to health care "socialized," and insisting that the word magically means we need to avoid it. This doesn't make sense after he admits that a good health program would drive current Republicans away from the right by actually helping them access medical care.

It gets weird when Cannon worries that a single-payer system would trap people into liberalism by "making citizens dependent on the government for their medical care."

Like when conservatives panic about care being rationed under a socialized system, he forgets that this is already the status quo: healthcare is rationed according to income rather than need. Access to health care doesn't create the need for it. Millions of Americans already do not get the care they need, and they won't be any more needy when they've had a taste of access to care through the government. Those without insurance don't have anything to depend on currently. Need for health care is a constant, regardless of ease of access. Many Americans are currently dependent on luck to stay alive and healthy, but augmenting it with real health care doesn't mean that people will not have needed the luck in the beginning. It's not like people haven't figured out that their needs are not being met and that they'll only realize they need to treat their diabetes once they realize how much better they feel when their condition is treated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bigots can't handle democracy

Let's get something straight: people across the country registering their displeasure with the passage of Proposition 8 in California are not acting against democracy. If I think that something a majority of people have voted for is unkind and unnecessary, I'm entitled to let them know, just as millions across our country did today by rallying against the passage of Prop 8. According to Bryan Fisher of the Idaho Values Alliance, this means that I "actually hate democracy," because it "keeps getting in the way of [my] radical agenda."

Puh-leaze. Accepting but protesting majority rule is about as in-line with democracy as I can imagine people acting. Fisher is free to whine about people thinking he's a creepy dinosaur, and we're free to say that he is one. As it stands, I have to let Californians keep (or possibly break) families apart, but I don't have to like it.

Sounds like democracy all around to me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Prejudice

I've been getting an inordinate amount of friend requests on Facebook from middle-aged men I've never heard of lately. I'm usually a somewhat promiscuous with my befriending habits on Facebook, but when a strange guy who graduated from college the year I was born wants to be my "friend," I'm pretty turned off. I have only ever gotten a handful of these, because I think my relationshp status of "married" is actually a pretty good filter. But as it turns out a bad profile picture isn't - I just changed mine from the one at right to a more recent one that is out of focus and depicts me and my now crazy hair absent-mindedly nomming on a cocktail straw.

Maybe it's time that I admit that I absolutely love Facebook and want to be your friend! It's been my primary social outlet since March, so I'm happily hooked.

So if these requests are coming from readers, be aware that a woman in her twenties looks askance at social networking connections from men who are old enough to be her father and have no discernable reason for contacting me. So let me know in the request if you'd just like to get in contact because you like reading my blog, and I won't heartlessly ignore your request.

Friday, November 07, 2008

When I grow up

I keep saying I want a PhD in biochemistry, and it's actually true. I like science and am perfectly functional in it, despite the fact it's not really where my talents lie.* I always assumed I wasn't interested in medicine, but now that I have some fascinating medical problems, I may have changed my mind. I've been thinking lately about how I would probably enjoy epidemiology.

If I'm going to play to my strengths, I really am interested in quantitative aspects of political science, in the same way that I'm interested in how "Wash your hands!" posters actually affect virus transmission rates.

*I'm good at writing and passionate about politics, neither of which dispose one to being really good at titrating things.

Blogging Anonymously

I've always felt proud that I put my full name next to my blog posts, but I kind of have a built-in dodge in that my name is so common that I could be any of a number of Sara E Andersons that live in my town or work at the institution where I do. Friends and relatives read my blog, so I'm not exactly hiding under what functionally amounts to a pseudonym. The Portly Dyke, AKA Carol Steinel, recently wrote about how covering up her real identity had been an obstacle to some good blogging, and I thought, "It's pretty nice that I never had to deal with that." I don't think I'd be able to keep up a long-term, elaborate cover for my identity, but I had a friend once, who'd known me for a year, to whom I tried to explain that I am a bad liar, and she said, "You never lie!" So I thought I must be a pretty good liar if she thinks that.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

No man is an island

I really liked digby's post about how it is in the self-interest of even rich people to help foot the bill for creating a stable and comfortable society. I'd really be taking it in the shorts if I started out with enough wealth to think health insurance wasn't necessary.

I've been thinking a lot about the value of spreading costs around, given how much I've had to rely on insurance this year, and how much better an investment health insurance turned out to be for me than just keeping/saving/investing my money. I was an unusually risk-averse 21-year-old. I'd be absolutely buried under debt now if I didn't buy health and disability insurance years ago. You really don't want the kind of return on your investment in health and disability insurance that I got, but I knew that beforehand.

I'm an exception (one in thirty million is the incidence of the condition I ended up with), but I'm sure glad that I've got 29,999,999 others to help pay for a freak health incident. Looking back, it's nice to know that my insurance premiums during my years of perfectly good health were helping defray these kinds of costs for others.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Culture Wars' Diminishing Returns

If gay marriage and insane impositions on women's rights don't have the coattails to get Republicans into office, I just don't see how they'll even be brought up anymore. If you're not going to turn a profit by pushing social issues, you might as well put your funds into an actual campaign for office.

For some reason, when it was brought up, I never imagined that Prop 8 would even come close to passing. I didn't count on the Mormon Church flying their hate flag so high and expensively. One can only hope that those who are currently married will be grandfathered in and not lose the rights they already had.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I admit it

I haven't done a damn thing today except drink the coffee Starbucks gave me, and I don't think I'm gonna.

Idaho Democratic Uncoordinated Campaign

I just got two calls at the same time from the Idaho Democratic Coordinated campaign urging me to vote today - one caller left a message while the other one was speaking to me. I still haven't gotten my act together to do anything useful today, but I've decided against my original plan to check out the Dem headquarters, since this doesn't speak very well for their effectiveness.

Sigh.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Watch closely

I was positive I'd be back at work by now when I was asked to help keep an eye on polling places in Moscow in case there's Republican voter suppression in the works. Turns out I'm free tomorrow, so I think I'll go check out the dome and the fairgrounds in case I can be of any help. From what I hear, UI college Republicans are going to be "verifying" voters tomorrow, so I might be using my time wisely.

If Republicans are going to have such fits about voter registration, they're going to be able to see very clearly how much they lost by this year. No accusations of your victory being stolen when you're out there disenfranchising people, please.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Whore to Madonna in just four weeks

I just saw an ad for a reality show called "My Bare Lady," which is a fish-out-of-water reality show where four female "adult stars"* are given a go at careers in business, the central point being that they take their dishonorable jobs that they would only have taken because they're constitutionally drawn to them, and shove them so that they may try, and fail hilariously, to live like normal, honorable people. I see that this is a sequel to a previous iteration of the show. You can already hear the "Whaaaa?" record scratch in the opening sequence of the show.

I know I'd have a hard time setting up a whole new career in four weeks, and if my resume were mostly full of jobs about which there are lots of unflattering stereotypes, I'd resent being set up for failure in this whore-to-madonna contest. I'm not on the show, but I already resent the tone in its setup.

*It seems to me that the bar for stardom is set pretty low when it comes to pornography. Perform in an adult film, and you're a "porn star." I think of the "star" of a film to be an actor playing one of the main roles, one of the people whose name is included on the trailer as an enticement to see the movie.

***

I just watched the show, and I think my inexperience with reality TV is showing because I was surprised at how many lame double entendres there were, not only referencing sex, but also referencing the supposed uselessness of these women as people.

Pleasantly, the business coach has a monologue where he discusses the idiotic preconceptions that drive the premise of the show.

The objectification doesn't just hinge on sexism, but also racism, with nonwhite participants being exoticized constantly.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Got the vote out

I thought it was too late to register for early voting, but I registered and voted today with my dad. The line was pretty long when we got there around noon, but we went out for lunch and came back to a much smaller line. Now I won't have to wait around in an even longer line on e-day before getting to the Drinking Liberally par-tay! (If you're in/near Moscow on election day, email or call me for details)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Restraint

In the past four or five years, if it's this close to Halloween, I've usually read six or seven editorials about how kids these days wear slutty halloween costumes and need to cover their shame - always illustrated by a woman wearing an extremely small costume. I'm impressed that I haven't seen the normal deluge of this titillation masquerading as opinion this year.

Pop culture synchronicity

Funny how they reach the Cuban Missle Crisis on Mad Men the weekend before Fallout 3 comes out.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leverage

Kevin, M.D. is concerned that single-payer healthcare plans dictate the prices of medical procedures to providers.

But that's exactly the point, Kevin. If providers don't like the contracts they've negotiated with insurers, they need better negotiators, or to find ways to cut the costs of procedures. It costs a heck of a lot more to get an MRI in the US than in Japan, and this isn't merely because the technology is more available in Japan.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The rule about liberals

They never actually feel what they say they do - they repress and obfuscate so that they can live in the miserable world where women have control over their bodies and it is absurd to spend more than a hundred thousand dollars on clothes in the space of two months that saw millions lost from Americans' retirement savings.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Words mean things.

Sarah Palin doesn't know whether Americans who bomb abortion clinics to intimidate their patients and staff are terrorists. It's not terrorism until it threatens the elites in the federal government. Regular American women and their doctors, sure, go get 'em. Don't you worry about going to Guantanamo.

PALIN: (Sigh). There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.
(Sigh) is right. Plus, I think, (eyeroll).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Takes one to know one

I got an email from a panicky-sounding Bill Sali today (Subject: Help keep Sali TV Ads on the Air), concerned about "out of state liberal interest groups [who] are spending millions of dollars trying to defeat [him]." Maybe recent poll numbers have spooked him?

So it's not okay when Democrats work together nationwide to win congressional seats, but it is totally sensible to drain millions of dollars from the Club for Growth, an out-of-state special interest group, into a race a competent campaigner could easily win for Republicans?

Stimulating the economy and eliminating wasteful government spending at the same time!

...that's what we can count on Sarah for.

Is it just me or is Republican hypocrisy getting less hilarious all the time? We've heard this one. It was funny the first four hundred or so times, but it's getting kind of old by now. There seems to be something flawed about the concept of trying to live as a symbol of your beliefs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

With enemies like these...

Some Republicans think that McCain's campaign "suspension" works beyond the level of a cheap trick, and are trying to paint Obama as a careless partier for having carried on his campaign instead of heading back to Washington to join the headless chickens trying to pass a doomed financial fix. Oh no, please please please do not throw Obama in that briar patch! If it's so important to bring your leadership to Washington, Sen. McCain, why not keep working to get yourself elected? If anyone is to believe that you're as scared at the prospect of an Obama presidency as your ads say you should be, they're going to need some sign that you're not just going through the motions because President is the next logical step in your life story.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Just take it out of your vocabulary if you don't kow how to use it

Back in the day when my fears about my weight were actually delusional, I found it enormously empowering to stop using the word "fat," because it was not a word I knew how to use as anything other than a bludgeon. Sorority Delta Delta Delta is promoting a "fat talk free" week, whose official celebration I missed out on last week.

In case you're ever tempted to call me a foodie...

Know that I ate a Big Mac for dinner last night, and that I bought a chili cheese corn dog today on the same trip when I bought $16-worth of dried morels. It's diseheartening when you go to one store to do the bulk of your shopping for a big meal, and you make a supplemental stop at the place where they have the stuff you actually wanted and spend the same amount of money. (First trip to Winco = beef short ribs, veggies and other produce. Second trip to Rosauers = dried mushrooms and wine and junk food to tide us over until dinner). I'll put up recipes and pictures later, but the prep and cooking are going to take some time. We're attending a French-themed dinner tonight to which we're bringing zinfandel-braised short ribs with roasted mashed parsnips - Andy made this recipe up in May or so and picked up the next month's edition of Bon Appetit to find almost his exact recipe in it - and a cardamom-pear upside-down cake.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recovery update

I hadn't posted on my recovery blog in quite a while until today. If a run-down of my medical month interests you, check it out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A template for a voice message that is actually useful

I've been playing phone tag with various people lately, and it occured to me that I am part of the problem because I leave terrible, wandering voice messages. This makes me a huge hypocrite, because I am constantly telling my family not to leave me voice mail that says, "Hi, it's me [your sister, mom, or dad], call me back!" If I don't have a specific message to leave, I hang up before the message is recorded. I thought maybe Google would be able to help me out in this situation, and I discovered this advice. The author, Jason Sherrill, gives this as an example of the perfect voice mail.
"Jason, this is John Doe at XYZ Company. It's Thursday, August 17th at 10:30 a.m. My phone number is (555) 555-1212. I need to send you an inventory export from our new database system, but I am not sure what format you'd prefer. We can export in CSV, Excel or XML format. I am leaving for a long weekend today at 4:00 p.m., so if you could call me back at (555) 555-1212 by 3:30 p.m. today, I would appreciate it. You can also email me your response at john.doe@xyzcompany.com, that's j o h n dot d o e @ x y z c o m p a n y dot com. If you get this message after 3:30 p.m. today, call my assistant Jane at the same number."
From now on, I'm going to fill in the details of what I'm trying to communicate before I pick up the phone, and use this for a script template.

Friday, October 10, 2008

YOUR WELCOME.

My mom got this note on her windshield a few days ago, and I must say I was shocked to learn she is so ignorant.She has a bumper sticker that says "Gas was $1.46 a gallon when Bush came into office," if you're wondering what prompted the lecture.

I'm inspired. I might start printing out my blog posts and sticking them to the windshields of people whose bumper stickers I don't like.

What's the point of contacting voters in Moscow?

Sometimes it feels a little futile to bother with political activism in my fairly liberal town. A food co-op is one of the centerpieces of downtown, and most of our local elected officials are Democrats. This isn't Darkest, Idaho.

It really doesn't matter whether I vote for President, as long as I'm voting in Idaho. I am going to be honored to vote for America's first African-American President, however, and might as well get that historical thrill.

A column at Slate by Bill Bishop explains why it's voters like me and the people I can drag to the polls who can deliver the red-state upsets like John Tester and Claire McCaskill - these candidates were successful by driving up their numbers in the more-urban areas of their districts. Moscow is nothing, population-wise, compared to Boise or Meridian, so there's only so much influence our area can have on this trend. I have absolutely no feel for how well Obama is doing down South, though when I was at the convention this summer, I got the impression that there was unprecedented excitement throughout the state.

McCaskill won in '06, as did two other Democratic Senate candidates in traditionally "red" states: Jim Webb in Virginia and Jon Tester in Montana. It's a cool threesome. Webb packed heat. Tester sported a flattop. McCaskill could talk to hog farmers, and she looked good at a campaign event standing next to Willie Nelson. Webb dubbed the group the "redneck caucus," and the myth began.
If you're only going to be pulling off people who live within a few blocks of each other, you should consider the return you're actually getting for driving a couple of hours to the edge of your district to knock on the doors of people who just don't want to hear from a politician.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Scenes from a crazy economy

I went to the bank today to deposit a check from my disability insurance payout, and the teller asked me, "Cashing out your retirement?" Well, no, I'm only 26, and I've been in my current job for about four years, so it's not really that time yet. But it got me to thinking about it probably being a good thing that I needed to call on my disability insurance before this market crash. Not that it's ever good to need your disability insurance.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Evidence-based antiterror tactics, please.

Via tristero, CNN reports that plenty of Constitutionally-questionable antiterror strategies adopted by the United States are also of questionable utility in defending against or preventing terrorism. For a drug or particular use of a drug to be approved by the FDA, it needs to be proven safe, and effective. If you're taking a drug that doesn't fix the problem it's intended to, you're exposing yourself to potentially dangerous side-effects and still paying for the pills. It is with this attitude that the FDA has been casting a skeptical eye on the use of cold medicines in children two and under, for whom the meds are not proven to work, and are known to be misused frequently enough to send thousands of children to the ER every year, and a handful to actually die.

It was more than a handful of Americans who lost their lives on 9/11, and until we have good data on whether or not behavior detection or data mining actually do anything to keep us safe, we're risking a lot more than living with a sick kid staying up all night coughing and miserable. Making sure your child gets plenty of fluids and rest and comfort during a cold is effective at beating the cold, if not immediately so. Popping a blue pill out of a blister pack and giving it to your toddler might convince her that she's going to feel better soon, but the psychological effect is not without a cost.

Terrorism wasn't invented in 2001, and the US has been trying to prevent it for years, so we don't have to start from scratch looking at tactics that can satisfy the Constitution and a frightened public. To listen to the "Everything changed on 9/11," crowd, you'd think absolutely no one had worried about it before, so all we've got to base decisions on is our hunches.

Just like I would rather not be in the placebo group in a study of a drug that is eventually found to be effective and safe, I can understand why there are some who believe we don't have time for double-blind controlled studies on the efficacy of antiterror tactics. There are would-be Osama bin Ladens out there. I personally prefer being lucky to being crafty when all is said and done. September 11, 2001 was not when American defense was born. A terrorist attack is a bigger deal than me succumbing to a disease I already have and there is no known cure for. And if I have a headache, I can take an aspirin, even if my more serious condition is going to get me in the end.

A TSA spokesman said Tuesday the report "is not any kind of indictment of our program," adding that the TSA's behavior-detection officers do not claim to be adept at finding people with terrorist intent.
An ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure when it comes to terrorism, but for all we know, we're getting an ounce of magic beans.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hair bleg

I've resisted the temptation to bleg, because I know exactly how much traffic I get here, but hey, I need advice.  My hair is currently two and a half inches long everywhere, and it's wavy if not curly.  I have no idea what to do with it, but I'd like to someday have regular longish girl hair again (though it will be different, with the new texture).  For now, I just smooth it down when it's wet, and treat the scar like a 1/4 inch-wide part.  

Anyone ever heard advice on growing your hair back after chemo or whatever?  

Friday, October 03, 2008

McCain's plan for rural health care: walk it off, bumpkins



I'm only 26, but my middle name might as well be "preexisting condition," and finding expert care in my rural area has posed a huge challenge for me - especially since I have to be seizure-free for six months to drive in Washington. So, Mr. McCain, if my autoimmune condition confines me to a wheelchair in 10 years, how will good exercise habits keep me healthy? How will I get any kind of coverage? And if I could even buy insurance on the private market, how many hours would I be expected to travel to get medical care?

This is a problem Idaho has been trying to address for years. Programs helping pay for student loans for rural general practitioners have a lot of potential - a lot more than starting a med school from scratch in Idaho. Who's to keep students from Idaho Medical in the state after they receieve their training?

You don't say...


I saw this on CNN just now, but I'm just hoping it's not true, because it's just too depressing if it is.

Oh, is that what comedy is for?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Aggrieved crackpots agree: it's super-sad when someone gets brain cancer

I can't possibly be old enough to get* cranky when I see this stuff: someone whose expertise on the danger of a product is limited to their grief at their loved one suffering the potential consequences of its use is given an audience at a House panel hearing. I'm not one to dismiss the emotional hardship of having brain cancer, but I don't really care what this lady thinks caused her husband's brain cancer. But then my craniotomy and I might just be defensive because I gave up my land line several years ago.

* I started out cranky anyway.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The tautology of sympathy for Sarah Palin

I've been following the late upsurge of liberal sympathy for Sarah Palin, which hasn't moved me much at all: of course she's a human being - it's a little embarassing to watch liberals congratulating themselves for noticing. She pisses me off too, but I've avoided the temptation to write her off as a Rovian automaton so far.

I really loved Ta-Nehesi Coates' assessment of people who don't understand or believe in identity politics fumbling them this season:
The Palin pick was the most crassest, most bigoted decision that I've seen in national electoral politics, in my--admittedly short--lifetime. There can be no doubt that they picked Palin strictly as a stick to drum up the victimhood narrative--small town, hunters, big families and most importantly, women. Had Barack Obama picked Hillary Clinton, there simply is no way they would have picked Sarah Palin. To the McCain camp, Palin isn't important as a politician, or even as a person. Her moose-hunting, her sprawling fam, her hockey momdom, her impending grandmother status are a symbol of some vague, possibly endangered American thing, one last chance to yell from the rafters "We wuz robbed."
What McCain has done to Sarah Palin is what Rush Limbaugh thinks actually keeps Affirmative Action and the National Organization for Women in business. It doesn't make any sense, but conservatives think identity politics are just a nonsensical racket, so they can be aped to divert its spoils towards conservatives. Republicans are going to have to remain very committed to bigotry to not learn the lesson in what identity politics actually are that this debacle offers them.

When Palin was first picked, I thought to myself that if I were her, I wouldn't have accepted the invitation, because I would fail my own ambitions, but also my ideological allies througout the country. And not just them - a bad President can make life miserable for everyone, not just his supporters. God knows George Bush has shown us this.

Ambition is a good quality in the capable. Ambition is reckless in the incompetent.

It would be pretty cool to walk into an operating room and perform a lifesaving maneuver on a dying patient instead of watching the actual surgeon sneeze into his patient's chest cavity. But I know I would only hurt someone if I tried, so it would be monstrous of me to try.

In the Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama does a good job of telling how running for office constitutes a public service. I admire the personal sacrifices he has made so that his political career could be possible. If he didn't think that America needed the changes he's going to make, he'd have continued getting comfortably rich as a lawyer.

I sympathize with Sarah Palin's desire for power and respect, but I don't admire it. She is the archetype of the kind of politician John McCain is trying to cast himself as different than. With running mates like these, John McCain will never lose an election to win a war.

I hate seeing Palin validate the impostor syndrome, but I can't look at the election of a possible president as an exercise in shoring up self-esteem Sometimes it feels like you can't do anything right because you can't. This year I had the weird experience ofing a long episode of depression lead up to the revelation that things were really wrong with me. It was my demons' fantasy, and probably made my therapist feel kind of stupid. I'm disappointed I got sick, but not disappointed in myself for it. Judith Warner writes:

You don’t have to be perennially pretty in pink — and ditsy and cutesy and kinda maybe stupid — to have an inner Elle Woods. Many women do. I think of Elle every time I dress up my insecurities in a nice suit. So many of us today — balancing work and family, treading water financially — feel as if we’re in over our heads, getting by on appearances while quaking inside in anticipation of utter failure. Chick lit — think of Bridget Jones, always fumbling, never quite who she should be — and in particular the newer subgenre of mom lit are filled with this kind of sentiment.

You don’t have to be female to suffer from Impostor Syndrome either — I learned the phrase only recently from a male friend, who puts a darned good face forward. But I think that women today — and perhaps in particular those who once thought they could not only do it all but do it perfectly, with virtuosity — are unique in the extent to which they bond over their sense of imposture

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A solution to the great going-out-for-breakfast dilemma

"So do I want something pancakey or something bacony?" Slashfood knows, and dares us to try the bacon cinnamon roll.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Can we please retire the term "precondition?"

Seems pretty redundant to me.

The capitulation of the lusty liberal

I saw a screening of The Education of Shelby Knox today at the UI Women's Center, and it made me think about the temptation to trade on one's privilege in activism. I've had lots of time on my hands since I got sick, so I've been trying to figure out if there's any kind of local sex ed program I could volunteer with, especially now that Idaho has rejected federal funding for abstinence-only education. Having never had an unwanted pregnancy or STD, I figure I can offer good first-hand experience to kids who are trying to figure out how to begin their sexual lives. I am not the cautionary whale. I also have benefited from economic and social privileges that surely have made coming out of my early sexual life mostly unscathed a bit easier. I had fairly comprehensive sex ed in my public school, and come from an economically and emotionally stable family. I married in my very early twenties, so I didn't have a lot of time to get into trouble. Middle-class white people in the Northwest US, who, it's true, are the only people I've slept with, are relatively hard to catch HIV from. So there is the temptation to say out of one side of my mouth that here I'm a perfectly good, unsullied white married woman, and out of the other that hey, stuff happens, but not to me!

It's not by happenstance that I've avoided becoming pregnant or catching any sexually-transmitted bugs. Birth control and condoms work most of the time. Over a lifetime, abstinence fails.

I basically am living the end result that abstinence-only education seeks, but if I were a lesbian, I wouldn't ever get to be the object lesson in the way a person can be comfortingly conservative and lustfully liberal.

In the film, Shelby makes clear that she does not plan on having sex before marrying, and distances herself from teens who do decide to have sex, and aren't conservative Christians. She can make political hay out of her identity, and in doing so, undermines her case for the uselessness of the abstinent-until-married ideal. Pledging abstinence did not help the youth of Lubbock, TX, so we don't have any reason to believe it's going to help Shelby outside of the political realm. It certainly won't hurt her, but neither will knowing how a condom works.

But Shelby is looking for results in the form of fewer teen pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases amongst her classmates, not guilt-free sex for teens. As far as I can tell, she thinks - or thought - guilt and fear are fair game for sexually active teens, but teen pregnancy and STIs just aren't necessary. To the parents and school officials in Lubbock, premarital sex itself was the problem ensnaring their children, and any means, like teen pregnancy or STIs, to keep them from engaging in it were going to justify the sexually pure ends.

If I'd reserved sex for marriage, I don't think I'd have ever gotten into a serious relationship with Andy. Abstinence pushers would call my premarital sex unnecessarily risky. Me, I'd rather have gonorrhea for a couple of weeks, or decide what to do with an unexpected pregnancy than have missed out on my marriage. Not only do I value my relationship with my husband, but I also value my premarital sexual experiences. I know it's cold comfort to be smart when you've been unlucky and had a great loss. In nonreproductive areas of my life, I've learned the intimate emotional details of when the smart decision turns out to be the wrong decision. You don't care that it was unlikely that you would get pregnant while you were on the pill and taking antibiotics, you care that you did get pregnant. I don't deny or downplay the downside of risk, but I revile and live to tell the tale of the intellectual dishonesty in abstinence-only attitudes about birth control and protection from disease.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is a job for Jessica Hagy

Via Feministing I learn my alma mater is up to no good again:

Mr. Ledford, women ARE human beings, and when we are denied the rights that men are afforded, humans are denied human rights.

So what does that have to do with abortion? Men can't be pregnant, so they have no rights regarding abortion.

When we talk about women’s rights, we should consider whether they are good things or whether they are the best things, because many people treat them as the best things. Of course, I will say it is better to have women’s rights than not to have women’s rights, but the only way to put women’s rights first is if we are willing to say — which I am not — that women are better and more important than humanity as a whole.
Funny enough, you seem to be treating women's rights as "the best things," and seperable from human rights. Do I need to draw you a Venn diagram here? I see that you're trying to include the right for a fetus to develop to full term in a woman's body amongst the basic human rights, but I am getting stuck on what you are actually saying.

Yes, I will assert that women's rights are more important than fetal rights. Like it or not, women in America are endowed with the right to abort pregnancies under most conditions. It doesn't seem very "arbitrary" for you or anyone to declare the right of a fetus' development in my uterus inviolable in a society where women are shamed and punished for expressing their sexuality. It has an intentional and chilling effect on the behavior of women, which it would be very difficult not to notice.

Note that multiple commenters at the Argonaut have declared that women don't have any right to sex if they ever want to have abortions.

Not all of humanity is currently residing in a woman's uterus, so the rights of the nearly 7 billion people on the planet and the rights of the proto-people in women's uteruses are going to play out differently even if we "arbitrar[ily]" decide that women get to control who's taking residence in their body.

Thanks for simplifying things by fabricating a competition for human rights between women and the rest of humanity, and deciding that the essential conflict between a woman's right to bodily autonomy and a fetus' desire to set up shop in my body is a done deal, with my right being nonexistent and my protestations moot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What if your candidate died?

I was in the middle of a doctor's appointment today when the McCain weirdness came out, and when I heard that he had released a pre-recorded statement announcing he was too cool to campaign today, I immediately had to suspect he was hooked up to a dialysis machine in the mountains of Tora Bora.

You're getting kind of cynical when you think to suspect a presidential campaign of covering up the death or disability of their candidate.

The situation does look pretty fishy, though...

Please, CNN, having different views than your political opponents is politics, not hypocrisy

CNN has a cute/sad attempt at a gotcha on Obama and Biden having voted to support the final transportation bill that would have allowed the "Bridge to Nowhere" to go through. Sarah Palin is taking heat because she's lying about her political record with the bridge and earmarks in general, not because the transportation bill was unsupportable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Confession time

I was just cooking dinner and shaking my head at Margaret Cho's weak defense of her sexist denouncement of Sarah Palin, using some pretty not-progressive terms in my head. Believe me, I'd get kicked out of feminism if the Feminism Arbiter were in the car with me this summer when the elusive PUMA was interviewed on the radio.

Chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce with greens and couscous

I meant to write a post about/take a picture of this meal on Friday night, but stuff got in the way and I figure that three-day-old leftovers don't photograph as well as food you just made.

I've dabbled enthusiastically in vegetarianism, but am downright opposed to veganism. Even so, this nearly-vegan dish meets my criteria of 1) tasty 2) filling 3) healthy and 4) quick. I picked it up from a conversation about go-to staples on the Home Cooking boards of Chowhounds, and it's usually at the back of my mind when I'm trying to figure out a simple and satisfying dinner.

The ingredients:

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can chick peas
1/2 cup shredded spinach (or other dark, leafy green)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch cayenne (I used one birds-eye chili, which I ground with dried chiles and cumin seeds for the spice mixture)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup plain yogurt

Couscous, to serve.

Warm the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and add the diced onion and minced garlic. Allow to brown and soften, and add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to reduce for at least 10 minutes. Add the spices and oregano and tomato paste, and blend the sauce with an immersion blender, mixing in salt and pepper to taste. While the sauce is still warm, add the chickpeas and spinach and simmer until the sauce has reached a thickness you like and the spinach has a satisfying soft-but-not-slimy texture. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Once you're ready to stop cooking the sauce, stir in the yogurt.

Prepare the couscous, and serve the chickpeas and tomatoes over the pasta once it's ready to be eaten.

I'd recommend going a little crazy with the garlic - lots is really tasty in this. I've also thought that it could use a sweetening agent to tone down the acid - maybe just some plain old brown sugar.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My brain is weird

Tonight I had a grand mal seizure, but I feel good now. In all likelihood, it won't happen again, especially since I've started taking anticonvulsants again. I sat down to check internet stuff, and the next thing I knew, there were paramedics in my living room, asking me to lay down on a gurney, and explaining that I'd had a seizure. Of course, I don't remember anything, and didn't believe the guy.

This sure makes me mad; I was positive I was basically fixed up.

Effective satire returns to the media - thanks Bob!

Republican absurdity has reached such extremes that we are living with something of a crisis in political humor. Luckily, we've got us some Unbearable Bob, and the supremely-easily-ridiculed Sarah Palin. Unlike him, my blogging isn't very funny, a deficit surely influenced by having turned 18 in 2000, and developed a working political consciousness during self-parodic times. Bill Maher might say, "You can't make this shit up!" which is correct in my case, but not Bob's.

When the New Yorker attempted to parody email-propagated smears of Barack Obama by illustrating them on its cover, it was widely denounced as unfunny, due to the real foothold the wholly fictional smears had taken in the public consciousness. Things played out a little differently when Bob took it upon himself to fabricate views espoused by Sarah Palin.

I think the key difference between Bob's alternate-universe Sarah Palin and Fwd: Fwd: Re: Re: MUST READ ABOUT BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA!!is that Bob didn't demonize or directly insult. He dealt only with the words of a fictional Sarah Palin that would either charm or repel, and it required synthesis, like any actual joke. "Palin's" quotes were equally ridiculous as the actually-used arguments that support her policy positions, but they were not the same ones, and can't be used in their stead. He put extremely stupid words in her mouth, but did not just call her bad and unpatriotic and stupid. The Obamas' depiction on the New Yorker showed a couple that actively undermined White American interests. The Obama emails were either sincere or non sequiturs. If I had entitled this post, Barack Obama hates America, I would only be saying something untrue, and not satirizing anything. People falling for a foolish lie is funny, but the humor is in the falling, not the lie.

Bob's Palin is the image-conscious Christian Evangelical's worst nightmare. The New Yorker's straw-Obamas were Joe and Josephine White Middle American's worst nightmares embodied, ready to step off of the page and into the White House. There's really no way to exaggerate or equivocate that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Women deserve better than shotgun marriages and teen pregnancy

I'm not a fan of the organization "Feminists" For Life, though I've long admired their slogan that says  women deserve better than abortion.  Melinda Henneberger reminded me of this when she noted on Slate's XX Factor that Bristol Palin's Facebook account lists her as Bristol Palin-Johnston, and theorized that the wedding has already gone down, alongside wishing the young couple luck in beating the poor odds of a sucessful marriage.  Henneberger says that if Bristol were "frog-marched into church on our account," she's sorry, because "like all women, she deserves better."  

Abortion sucks, but I would find it far  preferrable to rushing into a likely doomed marriage with a baby before I was ready for it.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blog issues

I'm having lots of formatting issues, so I've been republishing entries in so-far failed attempts to fix them. And while I'm at it, tidying up sentences I don't like upon further reflection, If something interesting disappears and comes back looking different, that's what's up.

Obama as a feminist ally

Via Daily Kos, Politico posted this ad, in which Obama criticizes McCain's stance on equal pay, and clearly states that the wage gap is a problem for American women and therefore American families. I have to admit that I was one of the feminists who feared explicitly feminist issues falling by the wayside after Clinton lost the nomination, but Obama appears to have stepped up to the progressive obligation to pull feminist issues out of the women's issues ghetto. It's just an ad, and I know those are easier to produce than equal pay, but I'm still excited to see his campaign talking about the wage gap as serious problem, without asking for the infamous cookie and head-pat from feminists.



Before I get too excited, I should note Obama has had a significant wage gap problem in his senatorial career. Add that with nice ad like this and you get plain old hypocrisy. To McCain's credit, this is not a problem he has. Given the opportunity to guarantee equal pay for equal work for all Americans, McCain declined to vote, spoke explicitly against the act, and Obama took time out of campaigning to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act 0f 2007, in the face of a Republican filibuster, which stymied the passage of the act for the moment.

I think we can thank Hillary Clinton for making feminism cool enough again that the McCain campaign will claim it as one of its values and use a watered-down, tokenism-based form of it to prop up their joke of a vice-presidential pick. Just like no one wants to explicitly say they're afraid of putting a black man in the white house, the fact that the Republican ticket is proudly trying to claim to be the real feminists shows that progressive values are American values. It's a testament to the ridiculousness of our political dialog that Hillary couldn't object to the sexist smears against her, but if you're not a feminist, you need to say you are. Only dogwhistles allowed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lipservice is not a social service

Sarah Palin has claimed to support rape victims, and I don't doubt that she personally sympathizes with all victims of crime. But I also know she lies a lot. She also presided over a change in policy in the Wasilla, AK police department that charged victims for the analysis of rape kits. No one's sympathy is going to make paying $300-1200 for the investigation of their own rape any less of a burden. I don't care how a politician feels, I care what they do.

Palin spokeswoman Maria Comella said in an e-mail that the governor "does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test."

"Gov. Palin's position could not be more clear," she said. "To suggest otherwise is a deliberate misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice.


Luckily for victims in the 90's, the police chief Palin later fired, Irl Stambaugh, yearly requested discretionary funds for the department and used some of them to pay for rape exams, so there were no victims who were stuck with the bill during Stambaugh's tenure. The USA Today article says:

It is not known how many rape victims in Wasilla were required to pay for some or all of the medical exams, but a legislative staffer who worked on the bill for Croft said it happened. "It was more than a couple of cases, and it was standard practice in Wasilla," Peggy Wilcox said, who now works for the Alaska Public Employees Association. "If you were raped in Wasilla, this was going to happen to you."


Stambaugh's Palin-appointed replacement, Charlie Fannon, justified cutting public funding for the investigations with a weak attempt to shift the burden onto not-yet-convicted rapists:

Fannon told the Frontiersman that the tests would cost the department up to $14,000 per year. He said he would rather force rapists to pay for the tests, not taxpayers.

I'd sure like rapists to pay for rape investigations too, but that requires conducting an investigation and convicting the perpetrator. There's also the fact that The Republican/fiscal conservative operating principle that a government sins by comission, not omission, gets good-intentioned people into trouble this way quite a lot. Palin raised funds as mayor through raising taxes, and didn't have a budget shortfall that put rape forensics on the chopping block.

I am inclined to believe what people say about what they feel. It is also quite clear that people support policies that undermine their stated beliefs.

When the McCain campaign adds together a trumped-up number of spending cuts Palin made as governor or mayor, and calls them all "wasteful spending," they can construct out of thin air a narrative about her hard road as a reformer and ally of the taxpayer. Victims are taxpayers, and before they were shoved into the middle of this budget indesrcretion, had shared the bill with the other citizens of their town.McCain's heroic campaign narrative about resisting earmarks and porkbarrel spending sound real nice in general, but when it comes down to the specifics of what happens when the money isn't there, it gets ugly.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Face it: your minions will threaten and harass people whose personal information you release


A conservative Alaskan talk radio host, Eddie Burke is claiming to be taken aback at the behavior of his listeners, who have harassed and threatened the organizers of a large anti-Sarah Palin rally in Anchorage, Alaska after being given their contact information, and being goaded with this description:  
"They're a bunch of socialist maggots, that's what I'm going to call them -- socialist maggots, that's what they are, a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots," said Burke 
Oh, and here are their phone numbers - go ahead and let them know what you think of their little rally. Burke has admitted since:
"Yesterday, I was probably a little over the top,"
Burke and anyone with any kind of observational power can't claim to have never noticed the threats and harassment that follow releasing the personal information of an ideological opponent to an audience that's treated to a denouncement of said opponent.

Obama says he doesn't think McCain doesn't care about how disastrous his policies would be, but that McCain just doesn't get it.  When we see this behavior committed by right-wing media personalities over and over, it's clear that they neither do not understand what the result always is, nor are they uninterested in whether their opponents are harassed and threatened.  Harassment and intimidation are clearly intentional results.  

The defense is always: Hey, it was in the press release.  But what local newsroom is going to receive your press release and fill your voicemail with shouts of "Babykiller!"?  Private citizens shouldn't need/don't have a secretary to field threatening and harassing phone calls when they decide to make their opinions public.    

From the article: 
Burke says he released the information across the airwaves because organizers had included their contact numbers in the press release.

Mr. Burke, the fact that contact information is listed with a press release is not an explanation for this behavior. Using the word "because" here is the hallmark of playing dumb about your real motivations. He had access to these numbers, yes, but no excuse for releasing the hounds. I know how you did it, but I don't think you've at all explained why.

All I can say is that Burke probably knew that his listeners' threats and harassment would be a little over the top.          

Friday, September 05, 2008

6 months ago today...

...I was in a coma after having a craniotomy. A few weeks later, Andy asked me if I remembered when they couldn't wake me up. Well, no, I don't. My memory from the week in the hospital is pretty fuzzy, unsurprisingly. I'd forgotten it was my 6-month anniversary for my surgery until my mom called me to congratulate me on it yesterday.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On Sarah Palin for Vice President

To get a little, shallow thing out of the way first - I am inclined to like anyone who shares my name. (There are a bunch of Saras, and even Sara E Andersons out there, let me tell you.)

As for the good, I'm of course excited to see a woman nominated to the office of Vice President. What I'd like to see follow is a national conversation about affordable child care

Regarding the bad, I'm really displeased to see such an extremely anti-choice woman pushing her agenda on the national stage. I'm also irked that she's made so much of herself by doing something she thinks should be required of any woman. Post-Roe, if you carry a fetus carrying Down Syndrome to term: ho hum.

Without Roe v Wade, carrying her last pregnancy to term would be a non-story. Her political side ought to be thanking its lucky stars for Roe.

I can be counted among those who believe she's utterly unqualified to become POTUS, should the situation arise. If I were her, I'd have declined the nomination.

Two-word verdict: not impressed.

As for her daughter being "in a family way," all I can think is "Poor dear - good thing she doesn't need to rely on the state for financial support. "

Friday, August 29, 2008

The one thing God cares about

So all you have to do to be a genuine Catholic is oppose abortion - you don't need to attend mass or even count yourself amongst Catholics, according to Priests For Life President Father Frank Pavone.

Puppy chaser

Since the photo to my last post is so yucky, I thought I'd put up this cute picture to make it all better. (Via HBO, where you can find the photo attributed to Karen Nichols of Daily Inter Lake, AP)

Heads or tails?

I was wearing shorts and got into my car only to painfully find out that there was a penny baking in the sun on the seat. I seem to have branded myself with it - ow!


So was it heads or tails? It's sure hard to get a close look at the back of your thigh, so I can't tell. Andy says it's tails.

If it's heads, what year is it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hillary's lyin' eyes

CNN has an article examining the body language during her speech at the convention last night. I don't know if I've seen a more egregious example of directing people to look at a professional, powerful woman's body in preference to listening to what she says. She says x, but she acts like she means ____.

What did Hillary Clinton's body language give away at the Democratic National Convention?

Dan Hill, a body language expert and author of "Face Time," told CNN that even while the words Clinton delivered offered an unequivocal endorsement of Barack Obama, her body language was much less affirmative.

It's entirely possible -- I think probable -- that Clinton isn't as gung-ho about Obama's candidacy as her speech says. I've long been an Obama supporter talking back to angry Clinton supporters I hear on the radio, but this "She's crying on the inside" story strikes me as intended to rub salt in Democratic Party wounds, especially Clinton supporters' wounds. Having gotten quite sick of the Clinton campaign months ago, I still think this is really uncool.

I don't think I've ever read an article that tries to triangulate a male politician's real feelings about a subject over which he must have conflicting emotions.

I'm reminded of a time when at work someone had posted a list of things women/men say vs. what they mean. I took it down, thinking propaganda encouraging the idea that women and men are so drastically different that they can't - or won't - use the same language to communicate is not very productive at all. Humorless feminist me, getting sick of the kind of sexist humor that people like to think is harmless, even as it buttresses sexism. In a workplace that includes both men and women who need to negotiate the power differential that they bring from the outside world into their jobs, this is quite counterproductive - encouraging people to think they are so clever they know what their coworker of the opposite sex is really saying, without needing to explicitly communicate their understanding of what's been said. According to jokes like these, you don't need to actually say what you mean, as long as everyone's got the decoder ring.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boys do too like girls who do comedy

I'm watching the rest of the series of videos that starts with the video I posted below with the question about birth order, and the conversation has moved to the subject of how being funny has affected these women in romance. The theory that men are intimidated by funny women is floated several times. I'll admit that I get caught up in the dynamic of trying to "win the cocktail party," which gets quite thick at Moscow's Drinking Liberally meetings, which have been mostly attended by men so far.

I am pretty goddamn funny. If I'm going to say something to a stranger, it's almost always a joke that I break the ice with. Thinking of something funny to say about the situation I and a stranger are in always emboldens me to lean over and introduce myself to whoever it is that's sitting next to me. I would say that the thing over which Andy and I are most deeply bonded is humor. We're each the funniest person the other has met.

Quit your job and sit back and watch your influence grow!

There's an article in Time about the hits Michelle Obama took to her career in service of marrying and having a family with Barack.

It makes me a little queasy that the article is titled "Michelle Obama's Savvy Sacrifice," since it implies that Michelle made a calculating and clever move, letting Barack's career take precedence over her own. But who knows, maybe she'd be the politician by now if she'd stayed on her career track.

Most women who go down this path aren't setting themselves up to be First Lady. They're setting themselves up for letting their degree waste away in a filing cabinet, and possibly financial insecurity after divorce or their husband's death.

Patterns

I noticed a while ago that most of my close friends, including my husband, are the oldest children of parents who stayed together all through their childhood (and are mostly still together, generally happily, as far as I can tell).

I thought of this after seeing this video (Via) of a conversation between female comedians who all happened to be the youngest child in their own family. So I wonder if this kind of birth-order social selection is common.

Friday, August 22, 2008

"Pro-abortion?" I know you are, but what am I?

I've got a deal for you proponents of the new HHS regulations allowing doctors to refuse to prescribe birth control on the basis of it possibly being, though not shown to be "abortion." I could stop taking my birth control pills and become pregnant before I'm ready, and then go out and have a real, honest-to-goodness abortion.

Do we have a deal then? I really don't wanna, but I suppose I'll have to if it's my only option for family planning. Who wants to give me a ride to the nearest clinic (2 hours away) where I could access such a procedure?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What if the free market doesn't care about your archaic moral strictures?

The Idaho Values Alliance has issued an "action alert" regarding a same-sex marriage card Hallmark is producing.

(Via HBO)

If Hallmark started producing a "So you're going to hell 'cause you're gay" line of cards, and lost money, wouldn't it still be accountable to its shareholders, assuming it's a public entity?

Babeland tips for making Tri-State truly Idaho's most interesting store

Local outdoorsy and home maintenence shop Tri-State uses the slogan "Idaho's Most Interesting Store." Babeland's blog points out yet another reason this is true - not only is it a great place to buy maggots and worms for fishing, as well as high-end cooking supplies - but a source for discreet sex toys. (Link goes to Babeland's blog, which may not be work-safe, depending on your workplace's attitudes about sexuality - Babeland is a feminist sex toy store, the full name being Toys in Babeland, har har)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You know you've said something truly funny when

...your partner laughs and just says, "I love you!" Andy told me from the other room that he was experiencing an incredibly strong desire to eat bacon, and then came into the room where I was sitting, and said, "Oh, that was a little wordy - I mean 'I'm awake.'"

Friday, August 15, 2008

I missed my chance

In person, years ago, I heard Bill Sali say that there are up to 40 barrels of crude oil in a tree. IT's too bad I didn't have a notebook where I could write down his words exactly to blog it, considering all the play his notions have gotten in the blogosphere this week,.

This *is* The Daily Mail, but the article isn't as misogynistic as you'd think.

I had to laugh out loud at Jessica's response to this. The actual headline:

Don't blind-drunk women who cry rape bear any responsibility for what happens to them?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where in Idaho is Jim Risch?

I realized today when I was driving behind a car with a LaRocco bumper sticker that I've never seen a bumper sticker promoting Jim Risch's campaign. Ever. Not on a car, not stuck to a telephone pole somewhere, not anywhere between Moscow and Boise.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting personal

I tend to segregate my more personal posts to my personal blog, because I figure that I don't read any livejournals or personal blogs, so why would Cogitamus readers be interested?

Reading Melissa McEwan's feminism 101 this weekend inspired a change of heart, and made me realize how easily I've swallowed the misogynist, sexist old saw about emotions being for girls and therefore boring and stupid.

It wasn't until my personal life got kind of interesting this winter that I ever wrote much about myself on my blog.


Being a rookie at the whole fat acceptance thing, I was a little nervous about posting anything reflecting my struggle with body image to the Cogitamus audience. Previous experience with writing about body image and fat has taught me that putting together a post that advocates for myself is a good exercise in aligning my emotional and intellectual positions on my value as a person and how it relates to the form my body takes.

But as Melissa says,

Making the personal public and political is serious business.
Because women's stories aren't told, it's incumbent upon female
feminists to tell their own stories, to fill that void, to be
unrepentant and loquacious raconteurs every chance we get, to talk
about our bodies, our struggles, our triumphs, our needs, our lives in
every aspect. It's our obligation to create a cacophony with our
personal narratives, until there is a constant din that translates into
equality, into balance.

I'm tired of the Weight Watchers game, let's play Hungry, Hungry Hippos

Clive Thompson, in a column at Wired, has written a column about the "fun" of the Weight Watchers points system, by analogizing it to RPGs, and comparing eating healthy, low-cal foods to "hacking" the WW system. It reminds me of when I once asked my husband if he ever has kept a running count in his head of how many calories he's consumed. I was pretty amazed when he said he'd never done it.

Until then, I had probably done it every day of my life since fifth grade. It's a really boring game after a while, Clive.

Keeping that tally in the back of my mind was an unnecessary stressor taking up thinking capacity. I got all excited when I realized what a difference I could make in my life if I devoted all that energy and number-wrangling to making myself happy, instead of pursuing weight management or loss, which was never the result of all the calorie counting.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I like summer


Here's to margaritas and This American Life after dinner!

Monday, August 04, 2008

So it's not just me

When I was a teenager, I drove a car that did not have working air conditioning, so I would roll the windows down when I drove from my town to whatever job I was working during the summer (either: lab work or foodservice). I was as bad an NPR addict then as I am now, so I would have to crank up the radio to hear anything over the air rushing in through the windows. When I'd get into town and stop at a stop light, I'd be blaring All Things Considered out my open windows, in the manner of someone playing loud music to show off their stereo system.

I had a similar experience today on my way home from work, when I stopped at a light and heard Robert Siegel echoed in the car next to me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

It really meant a lot - thanks so much to everyone for your support when I got sick

Due mostly to my misunderstanding of my disability insurance, the money everyone donated really turned out to be essential to minimizing the financial trauma of moving to a new apartment and major surgery within the space of a few months.

Thanks so very much!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"In sickness and in health"

I sure didn't expect to have that vow all sewn up* by my fourth wedding anniversary (which is today!).

* I know, I know, we're probably not done with sickness forever around my household.

We want gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military...but it's not like we're interested in extending normal civil rights to them!

I'm listening to Diane Rehm right now, and there are two military-affiliated guests discussing Don't Ask Don't Tell - one just claimed that abolishing DADT "isn't about gay rights." I can't help but think of the famous I'm not a feminist, but... I believe [explicitly feminist idea] to be true.

Given the very poor job the US military has done of integrating women safely into the service, I find my instinct to roll my eyes at the homophobia driving the policy a little thwarted. If the leadership in the US military doesn't expect itself to be mature enough to deal with potential harassment of gay servicepeople, and we have a ready example of the military dealing poorly with social change, I would be inclined to believe the claim that people would be freaked out by openly-serving gays and lesbians in a way that discipline and official policies couldn't guarantee their safety.

This is not to say that I am comfortable letting the rapists and homophobes dictate who can and cannot serve to defend this country. Though, knowing the stats about sexual assault in the military, I would definitely discourage my daughter from entering. It would sure be nice if Americans could grow up already and realize that women and homosexuals (do I need a Venn diagram here?) are currently and have always been contributing to every sector of society.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Maybe something in the water is making people paranoid...

....because I sure don't trust Mr Pro-Life to decide who or what populates my uterus.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Save us all, it's the coming of the antichrist! ...and yeah.

I thought this video was pretty amusing, since I would expect that Revelations doesn't end with an "...and yeeeah."

Monday, July 07, 2008

It's kind of tough to laud Will Saletan's sense of humor, but here goes:

Isn't it cute when he takes completely nonsensical positions on matters of grave importance to people (somewhat) different than him? Sometimes Saletan actually is funny and expresses something I've not quite been able to get at - what is it exsactly that Christian conservatives dislike about transsexuals? Where is Leviticus explicit on matters of gender identity? What would God have against a dude in a dress? (I'm looking at you, Brian Fischer - not that you're in a dress, but you complain about men in dresses quite a lot.)
If you regard Beatie's sex change as a crime against nature, it's not clear what you should propose to do about it now. He and his wife have a baby. As things stand, this girl will grow up with a mom and dad. Do you want to tell her she has no dad? Do you want her to have two mommies? Do you want to nullify her parents' marriage?

Friday, July 04, 2008

"Exposed bra straps"

If I never wore a bra, I wouldn't have to worry about offending my co-workers with my exposed bra straps in a sleeveless top. But I'd sure have to worry about offending them with my breasts. Working in a place where safety and not manners dictate the dress code has kept me basically unaware of the no bra straps rule. Thanks, CNN, for reminding me that the female body is inappropriate outside the home.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What I learned from WALL-E

It's ok if I generate enormous amounts of waste, because it will make a robot happy some day.

Monday, June 30, 2008

John McKerry: War Hero

Is it just me or is John McCain running his campaign on the same "How can you not elect a war hero?" sentiment as John Kerry did in 2004? It didn't work then, and...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Who knew Big Brother was such a perv?

I'll bet some of us could have guessed.
The Guardian's Marina Hyde discusses the rampant abuse of CCTV spy-cameras placed by local governments -- the junior G-Men who use cameras to follow women with cute butts around town.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tenessee Judge: Heller decision means it's your fault if someone attacks you

Wow.
He told a woman who had been pulled from her car and beaten in the head that she or her mother needed to "purchase a weapon, obtain a gun permit and learn to protect yourself." The woman moved back in with her mother after the May 4 incident on E. 17th Street.

Judge Moon said, "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all citizens have a right to purchase a weapon to defend themselves, their families and their homes - unless there is some disqualification that prevents them from owning a weapon."

Goodbye, invalid days

I get to start work on Monday (half-time at first, then working up to full-time over several weeks)! Woo!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I was starting to feel a little guilty about how much traffic I get via the fatosphere, considering how little I add to the conversation

We've all heard of the mythical creature the supportive strapless bra.

Since my recent conversion to Lane Bryant's line of undergarments, I've been amazed to find out that my DD cups can be made to defy gravity (and actually create cleavage) with the aid of the seamless 6-way convertible bra by Cacique. I can report with relief that it is not a long-line bra, but it is still a challenge to get the thing on.

Now I finally get why I see so many plus-sized tube tops for sale.

I'd link, but I can't find one. I'd suggest a trip to a mall to see this modern miracle work.

Idaho can tell kids not to have sex without the guidance of the federal government, thank you very much.

Great news! Idaho has rejected federal funds for abstinence-only education. It has zero effect on teens' sexual behavior, so what's the point? Our national policy towards preventing teen pregnancy is basically a tautology: telling kids not to get pregnant (not how to avoid it) and waiting for that to happen.

If there's an objective reason that feminism can't work or I should be a jerk to gay people, I'd like to know about it, personally.

Today's post at Feministing by Miriam entitled "Why I don't like scientific studies about sexuality" really demonstrated one of my pet peeves - progressives playing along with the naturalistic fallacy that some homophobic Idahoans are all too happy to use to buttress their homophobia. (Oooh, call me non-normative - I'll get you for that!)

Miriam sez:
Why do they bug me? Because the premise behind studying the why of sexual difference is unfair. When we decide to look for the cause of queer sexual orientations to me that says "here we have a problem. let's find the root cause!" Queer sexualities are not a problem, or an abnormality, or a disease that we need to cure.
Queer sexualities are a problem for science, where everything not well-understood is referred to as a problem.

As for the "abnormality" thing, let's appreciate that most people aren't queer. But so what if some people are? The chips have fallen in such an arrangement where we've got gay people all around us. In itself, this is not morally meaningful. It makes you think a little about how the term "deviant" is used in our culture, and how much importance we place on conformity.

I kinda hate to do it, but I have to refer back to a post I wrote last summer about this subject (In which, I feel complelled to explain, the "zombie fat" subject was a bit of a tangent, and not me stamping my feet and demanding everyone believe it.) I said:

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.
So when some conservative who fancies himself a rebel brings out the "dangerous truths" that liberals can't handle, I shrug so hard that people think I'm having a seizure.*

*I swear, I'm not. I just took my Keppra, thanks.