Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ask, Tell

Today, my country is better than it was yesterday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Speedy trials please. Without torture!

Via TNC and a few other places (originally Glenn Greenwald), we learn that Bradley Manning, the Army Private accused of leaking the war documents to Wikileaks has been detained for seven months in truly inhuman conditions (23-hour/day solitary confinement with a few of the "luxuries" normally provided prisoners withheld, like a pillow or sheets) - before he's even been convicted.  My personal and irrelevant opinion is that he probably leaked the leak, but regardless, we shouldn't even be treating convicts this way.  The US government's embarrassment and desire for revenge about Wikileaks makes me really concerned about a railroading.

Speaking of railroading, I've heard that Julian Assange has been subjected to similar treatment while he awaits trial for a (Ed: I removed the word "much right here because I hadn't done my due diligence and actually read the link.)  lesser crime, and what. the. fuck.  I don't really want to get into the whole sex crimes are prosecuted when it's convenient thing, so check out Amanda Marcotte's post about it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I don't know what Jon Stewart is trying to do, but I like it



This is a long Rachel Maddow interview of Jon Stewart, but it's worth the time.  The interview starts with Maddow trying to pin Stewart on his frequent responsibility-dodge that he's "just a comedian," but he successfully starts to pull away from it.  I absolutely believe he's trying to avoid reality with the comedy dodge.  I don't think he has an obligation to go through the other side of comedy into punditry, but he's there now and ought to acknowledge it.  I think his major contribution to politics has been the accepted point that cable news is terrible for everyone - but he's dragging it out a lot further than it will go.  I still enjoy TDS (The Daily Show) from time to time, and think hearing Stewart's voice along with other pundits' is valuable.  But he is a pundit.  He doesn't like it, and I don't blame him, but it's manipulative of him to imply he has no responsibility in news media shenanigans.  He makes a good point that comedy is synthesis, and helps resolve what is right in front of you.

The news media should add up the facts and synthesize a description of reality - but they leave it to TDS, pretending that doing the synthesis would be biased.  There's a truism that the voice of reason is never funny.  TDS disproves that.  

There's a second Yes Men film (That's a Netflix streaming link.) where they start to realize that their pranks may be hilarious, but they're not doing anyone any good.  Them being funny relies on things being VERY WRONG with the world.  So it becomes a question of how to fix things.  Stewart seems to be near that point.  It's not funny anymore; it has never really been that funny that people are being made miserable; and it's time to stop putting jokes where action is needed.  The rally was a little bit of a misfire in that direction.  I know I would have gone to it if possible, just because it seemed like a good time.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Feminism's collateral benefit


I made a comment on Jezebel/Gawker the other day that got a kind of touchy reception, and I was a little surprised. Saying "feminism is for women" doesn't mean that all feminists must be women - it's just that feminism exists to benefit women. Cool? If some collateral benefit comes to men, that''s fantastic, and not entirely unintentional. Feminism has obviated a lot of the restrictions of patriarchy, and patriarchs are stuck in the past, and seem to expect a revolution to be handled for them.

This came up in response to the crop of media discussing the ascendency of women in the professional world, and all the subsequent whining about the way that models of masculinity haven't prepared men to deal with a world where women matter. Well, duh. Fix your masculinity then. Feminists have made some inroads on this work, but it's really not up to women to change men.

Anyway, that's all I was trying to get at. I was a little blunt in my original comment, but it seems to have gotten across to people who weren't busy protecting their male feminist bona fides. (You know, by threatening to stop defending me from the mean old patriarchy. Some allies.)

UPDATE: The Good Men Project is an example of men seeing that they have plenty of catching up to do.  

Saturday, May 29, 2010

That's better

I fell out of love with my hot-mess homemade template, and thought it was time for a change.

You Know...

The phrase "sexual health" has largely been replaced with the more conservative-friendly "reproductive health." We're still too embarrassed to admit that women have sexual organs that need care even when they're not making babies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The empowerfulment concern troll

Pleasure is not a zero-sum pursuit. The skeptical reaction to the Boobquake has centered a lot on the fact (and I'm paraphrasing) that men like looking at scantily clad women, so obviously this simply perpetuates patriarchy. I see this attitude a lot when it comes to ladies who wanna be naked: Erykah Badu shouldn't have gotten naked in her video because men are titillated by her nudity. That's not her fault, and it doesn't mean she can't use her body to express herself. Not everyone will get it, but when does that ever happen? Especially with boundary-pushing?

It's a concern trolling technique that really gets to people. Oddly enough, it tends to put a lid on female sexual expression in the end. The collective clitoris will never be avenged. I just don't believe in revenge (especially when the score is spread across generations. *I* have not been oppressed for tens of thousands of years - just 27). An age of matriarchy would give women a boost, but male oppression wouldn't. Schemes of supremacy do not liberate or avenge, when all it takes to "win" is to come out the least badly.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where Have You Been All My Life Pea Soup




Yesterday I made one of those recipes that makes me feel stupid for not having invented it or even heard of. I'm not a practical cook. My repertoire of go-tos is very small. Pesto pea soup is going in that mental file. It's easy, cheap, healthy, and delicious. The recipe is so simple I hardly need to write anything. It's exactly what you think it will be: carrot, onion and celery are simmered in stock until tender, add a pound or two of frozen peas and simmer a few more minutes until it seems done, then blend the hell out of it.

I used one onion, one carrot, and one rib of celery, plus 2 lbs of frozen peas, and a quart of chicken stock (the final product had a thick texture, about the consistency of heavy cream). To this I added a quarter cup of basil pesto. The recipe calls for using more pesto to garnish the soup when you eat it, but I found the pesto I stirred in to be almost more than enough. The sweetness of the basil and peas needs to be tempered with a little salt. I prefer to leave fine-tuning like that to the diner, so keep a salt shaker handy when you sit down to eat this.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Push-polling the medical literature

I'm a person with many medical problems, none of which are doctors. As a feminist and sometimes invalid, I'm supposed to feel mistreated by the medical system. While I do have the being a freakish lady thing working against me, I also have a background in science working for me. In general, I'm a well-informed consumer of medical services, and my doctors know it. Being sick makes medicine as a subject pretty compelling, so I read a few medical blogs, including Kevin, MD. The mood around Kevin's is pretty darn anti-patient, and this post was the last straw for me. Take out the words you'd skip on a google search, and you get a title that says chronic pain patients are disobedient children. Patients with weird conditions: threat or menace? The quote from the article that really got me was


“The study of life-course influences on chronic pain is still in its infancy,” the researchers said.

This layperson is not surprised at the results, nor is she suspicious of their validity. I'll bet the researchers had a similar perspective when they put the study together. If a field is still in its infancy, why start with something you are pretty sure will make patients look bad*?

I'll give practitioners and researchers the fact that chronic pain is a sticky wicket; there are addicts out there seeking drugs from you just cuz they want 'em, and the process of sifting them out insults the people you're really trying to help. An objective diagnosis is a hard sell without blood tests or x-rays. Things get a lot simpler when you can say that the distinction isn't important to make because it's all in the "real patients'" heads. So you look for some data that support that conclusion. I respect the fact that many docs take up this challenge and treat sufferers of chronic pain, but I still feel pretty betrayed seeing this hostility laid so bare.

I don't really go in for "a few bad apples" explanations, mostly because of this talk by Dan Ariely [He talks about how almost everyone cheats a little, but there are only a few Lynndie Englands out there, so the aggregate adds up to a lot of cheating. Subtitles are available for the video]. I want a reasonably skeptical doctor. In case all this waffling doesn't make it clear, I am not willing to unequivocally condemn a whole group of medical professionals.

[I got rid of a bunch of equivocating stuff down here, because it was boring the hell out of me. Ambivalence: who cares?]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's a murder trial, not an abortion trial

I didn't really know what to think about Scott Roeder being allowed to go ahead with a really really stupid defense in his upcoming murder trial, but I think Emily Bazelon does a great job of articulating why it's going to be a horror show. She says:

Surely the Kansas appeals courts will set the judge straight if he doesn't fix this himself by the trial's end. But by then, harm will have been done. Scott Roeder will get to put on testimony about why he thought he was justified in killing Tiller. He will have a show trial in which he can present himself as a martyr to the cause of the unborn. Judge Wilbert has repeatedly insisted that he won't let this trial become a trial about abortion. But that's exactly where his ruling is taking us
I've already seen headlines referring to the upcoming trial as an "abortion trial." Abortion is LEGAL. George Tiller performed legal medical procedures and someone took his life for that.

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Year, Still Me

For some reason, I had it in my head that I wasn't going to post anything until my triumphant return to work (which I think is impending, but at a somewhat-less-triumphant level than I was hoping for). I started several posts fuming about kill-the-bill-ers, but they were just more ranting that the debate didn't need. Suffice it to say that I prefer a bill to no bill at all, and don't actually care if insurance companies remain intact and profitable. I'd prefer they crash and burn, but it's just not going to happen any time soon (and especially wasn't going to with that weak-ass excuse for a public option that was floating around).

Re: food, my spouse has been making split-pea pasties (not the kind that go on nipples), and I've been eating them before getting a photo. Ever wanted to put split-pea soup in a pie? Pasties are your chance! Plus, the Palouse is the dry pea and lentil capital of the world, so we would thank you for your support. If I can get him to write down the recipe, I'll post it ASAP. If you're not a split-pea type of person, there are a lot of variations out there.