Monday, November 24, 2003

stupid blogger ate my stupid post...

I'm as equally pissed off as Hesiod that Senate Democrats have rolled over for the Medicare Bill, and I had written something particularly biting and pithy about it but blogger ate the stupid post...

Just read Hesiod about it instead
Snowflake, RIP

The grumpy albino gorilla at the Barcelona Zoo, the only known albino gorilla in the world, has died.

I love the fact that his name was Snowflake and he was known for having an ill temper.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Well, middle class was fun.

I tell you, you haven't lived until you've felt the exhilaration of having the power company switch your power off.

It was like, "Gee, I'm bored...I think I'll read some TV...refrigerate some food...take a hot shower....d'oh, I'm Amish now!"


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Go old people!

You really shouldn't piss old people off. Unlike my own unmotivated demographic, they actually vote.

So you know fear was struck in the heart of someone somewhere in Washington when old people started burning thier AARP cards, to protest the new perscription drug bill.

Link via Counerspin Central.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

And speaking of Taliban-style Theocracy...

George W. Bush proves that if you can't beat Osama bin Laden, you should join him.

Nov. 18, 2003 | LONDON (AP) -- President Bush criticized Tuesday's ruling by Massachusetts' highest court striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage and said he would work with Congress to "defend the sanctity of marriage."

"Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," Bush said in a statement released shortly after he arrived in London for a state visit. He said the ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court "violates this important principle."

..."I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage," he said.

Sanctity of marraige, my ass. Does that mean we'll never have to watch this crap ever again?
Gender Inequality

I'm hoping I haven't alienated my entire tiny readership by my constant absence.

Anyway, this post and this one too at Body and Soul inspired me to write something today. This post is taken from my comments there. (And spell-checked, too!)

Jeanne is writing about The Bookseller of Kabul, a controversial book by Asne Seierstad. Jeanne has a link to the firstchapterr of the book.

Reading it got me thinking.

The ethnocentricity of Westerners when looking at other cultures sometimes amazes me. We often try to eradicate sexism where it may not exist, or inadvertently make problems worse when trying to fix them.

Example: there's a group of people living in central New Guinea called the Grand Valley Dani, that had been pretty much left alone by the west until the 1950's. They had existed with stone-age technology up until pretty much the 1970s, when their culture was jolted into the 20th century.

The Dani were pretty much egalitarian between the sexes. Polygyny (having more than one wife) was practiced, but the women weren't "bought and sold" or treated as property. Husbandsrespectedd their wives. Women owned the gardens that they grew their food in. The men did hard physical labor like building houses and tilling soil, leaving women to thinks like plant potatoes or gather salt. Nobody had to work very hard and most of the day was spent sitting and gossiping.

One practice of the Dani, however, was kind of barbaric. If someone died, after the funeral some girls from the compound would have the first joint of a finger removed as a kind of sacrifice. As a result, most adult women were missing a joint on most of their fingers. They were still able to do things like weaving with their mutilated fingers, but heavy work was out of the question.

So, in come the Dutch missionaries and put a stop to this practice. Of course they do. The idea of mutilating little girl's fingers is pretty creepy to me. A generation later, almost no women have their fingers mutilated. The unintentional result of all of this is that now women do all of the work. They till the fields, build houses, tend the pigs, gather salt, do the cooking, everything. When a man needs more help with a major task, he used to gather all of the men from his neighborhood to help. Now he gets another wife.

So, ending funerary finger mutilation did not end gender inequality in the society. It seems to have made it worse.

My point is, that we can't just go into Afghanistan and take off everybody's burkas, or get rid of polygyny and expect that to solve all the problems. The burka is not the problem. Polygyny is not the problem.

Government regulations forcing you to wear a burka under threat of a beating or worse, now that was a problem.

Now they have other problems in Afghanistan that need fixing. What they're wearing doesn't seem to me to be one of them. Who they're sleeping with doesn't seem to be the problem, either.

People like the author of this book want to eradicate the traditions that offend theirsensibilitiess, but they don't want to help the women of Afghanistan gain real power in society.

Power of the type that women are still struggling to gain and keep here in America.

To quote this Salon article:

When I asked my English students what they would buy their mothers if they were given $20, burqas (more properly called chadoris) were the gift of choice; when I asked what improvements the girls sought at Balkh University, they mentioned a changing room to put on their chadoris at the end of the school day. I was surprised at my own vehemence when I suggested that they throw the chadoris out instead. Later, then-deputy women's minister Tajwar Kakar complained to me that the only topic female journalists wanted to discuss was the veil -- not education, not job-training, just the veil.

Getting rid of things like burkas or polygyny, or finger-mutilation among the Dani, make us feel good. We can see the little changes on the surface and ignore the actual problems deep beneath.

Thursday, November 13, 2003


Working on a big project for awhile. Expect even more sporadic that usual posting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Heaven help me...

First The Matrix, now I have to write a paper on Saving Private Ryan.


I think I'll put a kettle on. It'll be a late night.

Meanwhile, read this. I think it's one of the best things I've read on a blog ever. Found at Atrios.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Hee hee hee!

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Who is that, running across the mini-mall parking lot! It is Vanessa, hands clutching a vorpal blade! She cries gutterally:

"I'm going to smack you faster than the speed of sound, and sever every head in sight!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

That sounds like fun. Via Naked Furniture.

Here's another fun one.

Fight Club!

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

But that was really smashingly obvious.
Welcome to Gilead

Jeeze, I thought the partial-birth abortion (a term, by the way, that is not a medical one but was invented by the anti-abortion people to sound especially icky) was bad enough before reading this at TBogg.

The husband or the woman's parents (if she is not eighteen) can sue her for having an abortion.

Now keep in mind that the Republicans specifically kept out language regarding the health of the woman that would allow her to have the procedure for psychological reasons. Yet the husband can ask for damages for psychological injuries.

Cripes. No wonder we've given up searching for Osama Bin Laden. His spirit is alive and well in the White House!

Hope you're enjoying your ride down the slippery slope!
Well, at least someone involved has some sense.

I have a newfound respect for former POW Jessica Lynch. Like many of us, I'm sure, I've been annoyed by the way the media and the military seemed to be turning her into a peaches-and-cream heroine, a damsel in distress sort of emblem for all that is good in America. Lynch, unlike that "Let's Roll" widow, recognizes this is horrible and calls the media on their bullshit.

Initial reports portrayed the Army supply clerk, then 19, as a hero who was wounded by Iraqi gunfire but kept firing until her ammunition ran out, shooting several Iraqis.

But Lynch confirms that was not the case. She tells Sawyer she was just a soldier in the wrong place at the wrong time, whose gun jammed during the chaos. "I'm not about to take credit for something I didn't do,"

..."I don't look at myself as a hero," she adds. "My heroes are Lori [Pfc. Lori Piestewa], the soldiers that are over there, the soldiers that were in that car beside me, the ones that came and rescued me." Piestewa was one of the 11 members of Lynch's unit, the 507th Maintenance, who were killed in the ambush near the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah.

Well, at least someone is mentioning Piestewa, who I think should really be the one emerging as a hero and poster-girl.

There was also another aspect of Lynch's story here that I find disturbing. Maybe I'm just naive about how the military usually works, but you'd like to hope that they'd be fighting with reliable equipment, at the bare minimum.

She said her convoy was surrounded by Iraqi attackers: "They were coming from everywhere. We had vehicles getting stuck, vehicles running out of gas Â… our weapons were jamming."

...In the chaos of the ambush, Lynch says, she discovered that her gun was jammed and she was unable to defend herself. She was never able to fire her weapon.

Scary. But, the worst thing about this article I think is the fact that it has the tawdry headline "Jessica Lynch Says She Can't Remember Sexual Assault" and said assault is mentioned only once in the very first paragraph. The article goes on for four pages after that without mentioning sexual assault. Does the media really think the American public is so hungry to read about the rape of a soldier that they'll use it as a headline that misleading as to what the article is really about?

Worse still, is the American public actually hungry to read about the rape of a soldier? Creepy.

Sorry about the dearth of posting lately. I've been sort of busy at school. Also, the prospect of not being able to go back to school next semester has me too depressed to blog. If I were some giant blogger like Atrios I'd get a paypal account and ask for money, but since the 30 or so of you a day who wind up here are probably as hard-up for cash as I am, I won't bother.

Plus, that's kind of weird.

Anyway, sorry about the neglect.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003


I'm told that in Netscape and Mozilla the posts on this page get progressively smaller in font. But it looks fine in IE. Any ideas?

UPDATE: Never mind, thanks to the keen eye of Desert Jo, problem solved! Lesson learned, count your "small" and "span" tags.

Monday, November 03, 2003

shameless self promotion

I have a new post up at Open Source Politics. To read it is to love me.

Oh, and read all the other stuff there too. We Rock!