Saturday, February 25, 2006

You have to see this...

Okay. I was going to post something intelligent and insightful.

Then, out surfing late one night, I was poking around author's sites on SFF.net, and at this site, I came across a link to a collection of Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974.

You have to go look. Really.

Take the tour.

Read the text, too.

Put down your beverage, first.

I'll try for intelligent and insightful when I can stop laughing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marching toward Gilead, redux

From Salon, today:

February 23,2006 | PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota moved closer to imposing some of the strictest limits on abortion in the nation as the state Senate approved legislation that would ban the procedure except when the woman's life is in danger.

The bill, designed to spark a courtroom showdown over the legality of abortion, passed 23-12 Wednesday. On Thursday, it was headed back to the House, where lawmakers already approved similar legislation.

Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, a longtime abortion opponent, has said he would "look favorably" on an abortion ban if it would "save life."

Under the measure, doctors in South Dakota would face up to five years in prison for performing an abortion. The only exception would be for women who need abortions to save their lives.

"In my opinion, it is the time for the South Dakota Legislature to deal with this issue and protect the lives and rights of unborn children," said Sen. Julie Bartling, a Democrat and the bill's main sponsor.


The bill makes no exceptions for incest, rape, or the health of the mother.

South Dakota has tried to do this before, and the ban has always failed. Bitch, PhD has some powerful things to say about it--I'll warn my more conservative readers that she's fiercely pro-choice, and is much more passionate and vigorous in her arguments about the issue than I am.

Look, I understand what the anti-abortion contingent is about--I understand that women who advocate state control of women's reproductive decisions think that this is about saving a human life, albeit nestled inside a clump of cells that weighs around an ounce, about the size of my thumb, still without a complete and functioning central nervous system--a life the evil abortion-mongers want to snuff like a tadpole.

That really is not what access to safe and legal abortion is about, though.

It's just not.

Access to safe and legal abortions is about, in at least small measure, protecting the lives and health of women for whom pregnancy is simply untenable. Because, anti-choice propaganda aside, only someone deeply disturbed perceives abortion as a desirable birth-control strategy. This is very much part of a pervasive and misogynistic view of female sexuality that includes keeping birth control restricted and stigmatized; and keeping adolescent women uninformed and largely defenseless--only further increasing male control over female bodies.

Now, I do know I've more than one reader who feels very strongly about this--and we can talk about it, if you'd like. I also know that this is a hot button issue for people, but y'all have always shown yourselves to be intelligent and thoughtful, even when we disagree on something important. So I'll trust us to be kind to one another. I'll also promise to listen.

If this is the wave of the future for our country, I fear greatly for the women whose lives will be tragically affected by this trend.

A wire coat hanger in someone's basement is a really lousy alternative for everyone involved.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snowboarders

I've been watching the snowboarders at the Olympics. I'm not a big sports fan, but I'm a long time snowboarder.

I keep hearing everyone scream about Lindsey Jacobellis hotdogging at the last minute and blowing her gold medal snowboard cross run. She's getting ripped a new one, by the press. Here's a pretty representative example:

BARDONECCHIA, Italy -- Lindsey Jacobellis had gold in her reach. Then she reached for her snowboard instead.

She had a chance to step on top of the medal stand, wrap herself in an American flag and hear "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Then she went for one last roar from the crowd, stupidly trying a flashy trick when all she needed to do was slide down the hill.


These guys don't know thing one about boarding.

I've been boarding nearly as long as this poor kid has been alive. My first board was one of the big Burtons that looked like a surfboard without the fin, with one flat end. Look down at the pic. See that 1989 board on the far right? Yep. My first board.

Image hosting by Photobucket I've boarded a long time. I'm definitely not Olympic class, and never was. When I started, it was damned hard to find ski areas that even let boarders ride the chairs up the mountain. We perversely took pride in that.

So when I tell you what I'm about to tell you, understand that it's because I've loved this sport since its beginnings.

I respect Lindsay Jacobellis' attitude toward snowboarding much, much MORE--not less--for doing what came naturally and grabbing that edge, in the air, at the end of a terrific run. That right there gave her away as truly a boarder's boarder.

Way to go, Lindsey. Be proud of yourself, kiddo--I cheered when I saw you do that. I was frankly stunned and saddened that I hadn't seen a boarder do something similar until that point.
With that simple trick, you embodied what this sport is all about, and why I still love it.


Piss Off, Big Sports Media Guys. You have no idea.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Weird Things

Jill at Writes Like She Talks, and September at Midnight Writings, both tagged me for the five weird habits meme.

Since I don't follow instructions well, I've decided to put my own spin on the thing.

Also, don't we all have treasured weirdnesses? They mark our individuality in a context where conformity is rewarded, and noncomformity is idealized.

So I'll tell you guys about my weird habits, if you share, back. We can take turns.

I'll even go first: I daydream. Not just a little...I can be perfectly happy inside my own head, motionless or not, for hours and hours. On occasion, I'll daydream for days on end, taking only short breaks to answer direct questions like, "Have you eaten anything this week?"

See ya in the comments thread.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Just for fun

Because I never grew out of comic-kid geekdom. Via Writes Like She Talks--Which Superhero are you? Take the Quiz, post your answers--if you don't post here, give us a link, eh?

I'm 95% Spiderman, as it turns out:

"You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility."




Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

Changing tastes

When I was a kid, I loved fig newtons. Really, really loved 'em.

I had a fig newton tonight, and it was sort of bland. Just...there. Where on earth did that fig newton template in my memory go?

Ditto for pepperoni. Something bad is happening to my palate.

There seems to be an entire class of flavors that exists only in memory--they're now unattainable in any kind of physical reality.

That seem terribly sad.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Can o' Worms

Don't feel obliged to flame, but I'm willing to talk about it, if you guys think this is as important as I think it is. I'll trust that if we choose to discuss the issue, we can remain at least civil to each other. I'll promise to listen, as best I can, even when I disagree--as long as you do the same.

The Kansas Supreme Court blocked the State Attorney General's access to records from two abortion clinics, to protect the patients' right to privacy.

One online report tells us:

Kline spoke to reporters after details of the secret investigation, which began in October, surfaced in a legal brief filed by attorneys for two medical clinics. The clinics argued that unless the high court intervenes, women who obtained abortions could find government agents knocking at their door.

The clinics said Kline demanded their complete, unedited medical records for women who sought abortions at least 22 weeks into their pregnancies in 2003, as well as those for girls 15 and younger who sought abortions. Court papers did not identify the clinics.

The records sought include the patient's name, medical history, details of her sex life, birth control practices and psychological profile.

The clinics, which said nearly 90 women and girls would be affected, are offering to provide records with some key information, including names, edited out.

Today's Seattle PI says:

TOPEKA, Kan. -- The state's highest court on Friday temporarily stopped the state attorney general from looking at records from two abortion clinics, saying such a review could violate patient privacy.

The Kansas Supreme Court ordered a lower court judge to first make sure that Attorney General Phill Kline has the right to see the documents in his investigation of potential violations of state restrictions on abortion and suspected rapes of children.

If Judge Richard Anderson determines Kline does have that right, he must still ensure that the patients' privacy is protected, the court said.


I'm thinking about collective experiences, today. Sure, maybe we all read The DaVinci Code, but I'm not sure that counts. You know--the way communities bond, by experiencing the same things together. Do we do that any more?

I'm not quite sure how so many conservative-type folks ended up here in a blog-neighborhood somewhere near the intersection of Marxist Drive and Dogma Lane, but here we all are. I'm delighted you're here, too. You're a treasured part of the little community that this blog is growing into.

Comment thread Synchronicity

Jill said, in the comments thread:


What I would like to hear more of, and I do think some of it's getting out there, is how do Muslims around the world feel? Is this what they want Islam to be identified with by non-Muslims? I know they don't - I know that there are Muslims speaking out about how their beliefs do not support suicide bombing. But what hasn't that group taken hold? What is preventing their voice from being the dominant one inside the more radically religious and conservative Middle Eastern governments? I saw the picture on the cover of the NYT just after the election, and it was a sea of men and boys. Not a single female face. Doesn't that alone speak to scary?
In the NYT this morning, this article declares:


To a degree specialists said was new in the conservative Muslim society of the Gaza Strip, Hamas used its women to win, sending them door to door with voter lists and to polling places for last-minute campaigning.

Now in surprise control of Palestinians politics, Hamas can boast that women hold 6 of the party's 74 seats in parliament — giving the women of the radical group, guided in all ways by their understanding of Islam, a new and unaccustomed public role.

Now, understand that I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, where some hard "truths" were stated pretty baldly. I clearly remember, when it came up that I was planning to pursue a college prep course in high school, one church elder bluntly said, "What on earth for? Women have absolutely no business going to college except to find a husband."

Higher education giving women all those uppity feminist ideas, after all.

I remember my mother ruthlessly repressing her own rebellious feminist urges to tell me that there was no good reason for women to vote; their husbands should speak for both of them. Don't judge her too harshly for that. She's the one who made it possible for me to leave and go to the aforementioned college. While I didn't notice at the time, she began much of the eventual deprogramming that would culminate later, after a handful of logic, philosophy and theology classes.

So I understand all too well about women participating in their own subjugation.

It does make me wonder about the moderate Christians, too. I wish they'd get a whole lot louder. They're out there, though. They are apparently Christians who struggle to reclaim their religion, and the perception of their religion, from the extremist Christian right:


I am a Christian. I also grew up in the American South. "My people" -- both Christians and Southerners, according to my friend and many Yale students -- are changing our nation with a conservative agenda. That agenda is not mine. Many Christians, like myself, strongly believe in separation of church and state; are Democrats and pro-choice; support women in ministry as preachers and teachers; and believe that God loves all people, regardless of race, creed, color or sexual orientation. It is possible for Christians to represent such God-like views and not be radical judgmentalists. It is possible for Christians to be loving, kind, conversational and respectful of persons of different faiths.

Despite my vote in the presidential election, my identity as a Christian became associated with Christian conservatism more than ever after Nov. 2. "My people" appear to be part of the Christian right because voices from the Christian left are often stifled or silenced.

I do indeed wonder about the more moderate Muslims, out there--because I'm not hearing much on either a local or an international level. Jill's question has certainly been asked before; there just aren't very many particularly loud public responses.

Turns out, according to Islam for Today, even the terminology is somewhat problematic:


American media uses the term moderate Muslim to indicate a Muslim who is either pro-western in her politics or is being self-critical in her discourse. Therefore both President Karzai of Afghanistan and Professor Kahlid Abul Fadl of UCLA wear the cap with felicity, the former for his politics the latter for his ideas.

Muslims in general do not like using the term, understanding it to indicate an individual who has politically sold out to the “other” side. In some internal intellectual debates, the term moderate Muslim is used pejoratively to indicate a Muslim who is more secular and less Islamic than the norm, which varies across communities. In America, a moderate Muslim is one who peddles a softer form of Islam – the Islam of John Esposito and Karen Arm Strong – is willing to co-exist peacefully with peoples of other faiths and is comfortable with democracy and the separation of politics and religion.
It seem like we never do hear as much from the center, though. While certainly some of that can be blamed on our own media--because it's so much sexier to report car-bombings that to report sane and reasonable people calling for peace--maybe those of us closer to the middle need to get a whole lot louder.

What about bridges between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, on a grassroots level; Christian, secular, other. . . How do we do that?

We know how war starts. Now how do we begin peace?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Think Pink

The breast cancer site has a button that leads to a page of sponsor ads. You can click the button, and the revenue from the ads goes to pay for treatment for women in need.

I'm seriously considering doing the breast cancer 3-day walk. Have any of ya'll done it?

Thus ends today's public service announcements.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This frightens me

Hamas' recent election win frightens me. I don't think it bodes well for anyone's future--not even Palestine's.

Probably because I'm currently reading Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, I'm feeling especially sensitive to the whole issue. It's almost certainly a holdover from my upbringing that I'm doggedly pro-Israel, as a default position. Certainly, as the Palestinian situation has smoldered over the years, there's been a great deal of pressure to understand and empathize with the plight of Palestine--pressure especially from the left and far-left, where I'm usually ideologically comfortable.

You know what, though? I find a curious blank wall in my brain, where those arguments just don't get through. I simply cannot bring myself to sympathize with people that view suicide bombing civilian targets as a viable diplomatic strategy--I don't care how goddamned desperate and hopeless they feel. At what point is doing wrong just...well, wrong? (Which is equally applicable to Israel's behavior toward civilians in the conflict, of course--but when civilians are the primary combatants, those lines become very blurry, don't they?)

From the Palestinian side of the ideological chasm:


There is no doubt that Fatah was entirely complicit in the game, to which it had become both a prisoner and an indispensable partner. Why else would the United States have desperately tried to shore Fatah up by spending millions of dollars on projects in recent months designed to buy votes, and why else would the EU have threatened to cut off aid if Palestinians voted for Hamas? Most Palestinians could see clearly that after years of negotiations and billions of dollars of foreign aid that they are poorer and less free than ever before as more of their land has been seized. It is no wonder that this kind of bribery and blackmail had no power over them and probably had the opposite effect, increasing Hamas support.


Hamas' victory pulls the rug from under the project of trying to deflect the blame for the conflict from Israeli colonization to Palestinian internal pathologies. The peace process industry will not give up easily, however, and will now urge Hamas to act "responsibly" and to "moderate" its positions -- which means in effect abandoning all forms of resistance and assuming the docile and complicit role hitherto played by Fatah.



The instant US demand that Hamas "recognize Israel" is like rewinding the clock twenty-five years to when this same demand was the pretext to ignore and exclude the PLO from peace negotiations. But as Hamas has observed, all the PLO's submission to these demands did not lead to any loosening of Israel's grip or any lessening of US support for Israel. Hamas is unlikely to do as the US demands, and even if it did, it would probably only give rise to new resistance groups responding to the worsening conditions on the ground generated by the occupation.



From the other side of the chasm, "Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:


It is a sad day for democracy when a majority of Palestinians vote for the party that employs and glorifies terrorism to achieve its aim to destroy Israel. The empowerment of Hamas puts peace in peril and dashes hopes for a viable
Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel.


History has shown time and again that extremist groups come to power by promising a better life for the people, but once governing, implement their extremist policies. As long as Hamas remains an armed terrorist group it cannot be a partner for peace or accepted as a legitimate government by the international community of nations.


What are your thoughts on this, folks? Is it something you're interested in talking about? Because even though I haven't perhaps said so, directly, I'm often stunned and grateful at the kind, smart, and reasonable discussion that results in the comments here, despite our various and deeply-held differences of opinion.

Thank you for that, all of you.

No Surprises, there

The State of the Union speech was pretty much exactly what I expected. GW said the same stuff he always says. The Republicans bounced to their feet, applauding, so often that they looked like a gallery full of jack-in-the-boxes.

The new Associate Justice, Sam Alito, doesn't look like Voldemort--actually, he looks good-humored and kind. I fervently hope he is. There's no question about his intelligence; only about his loyalty to the Executive branch, versus the Constitution and the people.

The Democrats didn't look quite like the pack of whipped pups that they often do. That's encouraging. Digby thinks the pendulum is beginning to slow, before its inevitable swing back the other way.

Cindy Sheehan got arrested for wearing an anti-war tee-shirt to the State of the Union address.

Does anyone else feel increasingly disconnected from all of this? Does it seem more and more like grand theater, designed to keep us occupied arguing with one another--while we drug our kids into submission, work our two (or three) jobs, hold our breath and clench our teeth while pay for this week's gas and groceries, and worry about whether or not we'll still have to work in our 70s else how will we live?

In point of fact, I believe we want the same things, most of us. We want the freedom to pray, when and where we choose, if we so choose. We want secure jobs, affordable health care, safe streets and schools. We want to hold our heads up and know that, as individuals and as a nation, we are behaving honorably. We are willing to work our butts off to achieve and keep those things.


Chop wood and carry water.