Thursday, August 30, 2007

Biz-zay

I am busy. But there are several interesting things going on in old blogtopia that I'd like to record for posterity.

All these posts that Ren links to (in reference to the Feministe thread referenced a few posts down) are good, and hell, I'll probably add some of these bloggers to my blogroll if I ever get around to updating it again.

Some interesting conversation has begun here at Belle's, in regards to some wankery in the comment thread of a post by someone rhyming with "Shminshmar," which in turn is referenced here.

Kactus calls us all on our bullshit here whilst cracking me up here.

And, tangenitally related to the whole above brouhaha, let's see how this thread at Feministe turns out.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Well, it's true because the internet quiz says so.

You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.


So there. Via Belledame.

Now I will return to not posting for weeks.

Hrm...

You Are 56% Feminine, 44% Masculine

You are in touch with both your feminine and masculine sides.
You're sensitive at the right times, but you don't let your emotions overwhelm you.
You're not a eunuch, just the best of both genders.


Does this mean the mean old radfems won't want to take my vibrator away?

Kidding! Kidding!

Via Daisy.

Other Bloggers Have More Time Than Me!

Or, two posts I wish I had written.

Firstly, Renegade Evolution, who is one of my blog heroes and has great taste in men, broaches this question while guest blogging at Feministe.
There is also the thought that a woman should not be judged or mocked for her appearance, and while her choices with regards to how she presents herself or what she may or may not do to modify her natural body can be questioned, she should not be judged or made fun of or disregarded because of those choices. One can ask why (or why not) a woman wears make up, or gets body waxes, or gets tattoos, works out or diets, gets piercings, dyes her hair or gets a nose job, exploration into the “whys” is…acceptable…but I’ve often seen feminists say that a woman, no matter who she is or how she looks or what beauty rituals she does, or does not, engage in, well, she should not be judged, mocked, or made fun of.

But that happens, even amid feminist circles. And rarely is the woman who does not shave, or diet, or wear make up who is mocked, it is the woman who does. Often times being thin, via nature or diet or time in a gym is thought of something horrible. The intelligence of women who wear make up or get any sort of cosmetic surgery is guestioned, and often they are made fun of. Women who enage in any sort of “Patriarchy Approved” grooming or body ritual, well, when they admit it, they appologize for it. They are appologetic or ashamed of being thin, or wearing eyeliner, or having blonde hair.

And I wonder why.
Me too.

Look, I'm a nearly 300 lb 5' 10" woman of color. I don't fit any patriarchal standard. However, I love my long hair. I love makeup. I'd consider some plastic surgery to remove some of the extra skin around my abdomen after childbirth. I usually wear dresses. I'm married with a child. I was a stay-at-home mom over the summer. None of this makes me any less of a feminist.

I like my long hair because it's a striking statement about my ethnic identity. Also, It's easier to care for, less poofy and all over the place, and requires less products to deal with when it's longer. I don't do it to attract men. I love makeup, mostly as a holdover from my punk days when I used to wear green glittery lipstick. I don't wear it to attract men. Ever since childbirth I have this hanging flap of skin around my abdomen that's hot and uncomfortable. I wouldn't remove it to make myself more attractive to men. I wear dresses because it's hard to find pants that fit my body type (my waist, despite the aforementioned skin flap, is narrower than my hips, so if I get pants that fit my hips they either fall off my waist or ride up my crotch). I don't wear them to attract men or to conform to the patriarchy. My husband and I got married for the tax breaks. Selfish, I guess, but more a pragmatic move than a wish to conform to the patriarchy. I had a child...well, right now she's screaming for me to put Elmo's World back on the TiVo, so I'm not sure why I had a child. Sigh.

The thing I've heard time and time again from radfems is that they want women to examine their choices. Well guess what, I have. None of the 'sparklepony,' or whatever the cutesy word for it is, things I do are to conform to patriarchal standards. Don't assume a woman is a mindless patriarchal tool just because she looks different or wants to look different or acts different or wants to act different than you.

And also, something that kind of bugs me on an academic level, there's nothing inherent about any cultural artifact or practice. Marriage is not inherently oppressive to women, BDSM is not inherently oppressive to women, porn is not inherently oppressive to women. These things and many others can and are usually practiced in a way that is oppressive to women. But there's nothing inherent about it. Study Cultural Anthropology for about five seconds and you see that calling anything inherently, universally oppressive is hard to support with cross-cultural data.

Go read the whole post, although I recommend avoiding the now 500-plus comment thread, where people are stomping their feet and holding their breath until they turn blue and pretty much acting like babies.

Secondly, Blue Milk, a blogger I've just recently discovered, writes this about non-parents criticizing the actions of parents.
Oh I love a pious non-parent’s thoughts on parenting. Blah, blah, blah, I’d never do this, and all you need to do is that, and why can’t she see it, when I’m around her kids I just do this and they always co-operate, she is just making problems for herself, stupid parents.

Hey, I’m not going to judge you too harshly for your judging, non-parents. I did a bit of that judging myself before I was a parent and truth be told I still do from time to time. But when we do, you should know that you and I are speaking out of our arses. Really, out of our arses. Becoming a parent is a humbling experience, I’m sure there are other ways to be taken down a peg or two but few with such rapid results spring to mind.
Yes, I've also encountered this attitude amongst supposed allies in the feminist blogosphere - the idea that people without children (or, as they rather loadedly refer to themselves, the "childfree" - might as well say "cootiefree") know so much better who to deal with crazy children having temper tantrums in public, or whatever mild annoyance they have had to face.

The first thing to go out the window when you bring a baby home is everything you thought you knew. Things like scooping a kid up and taking them out of the store the minute they start to squeal might seem like the right thing to do when you don't have kids. But it might not be in that situation. You might not want to teach the child that if they want to leave the store, all they have to do is scream. You might not want to teach the child that if they want your attention, all they have to do is scream. And you know what, making sure my daughter knows that screaming won't get her what she wants is more important to me than you not having to be mildly annoyed for five minutes. I am her caretaker, not yours.

Another phenomenon that happens when people with no children encounter children in public is that they have no idea how children look when they're a certain age. When Abbie was 10 months a woman at Target thought she was 2 years. Now a 10 month old is not capable of the same level of behavior as a 2 year old, so that may also be fueling some of the disapproving tsk-tsking of the "childfree."

Go read that post too. And wish me luck on my Russian quiz next week.

Friday, August 17, 2007

First Post!

In honor of my 6th Blogiversary today, I'm re-posting my very first post.
I hate Ann Coulter

Okay, so the above statement is a little harsh. I don't know Ann Coulter. I'll make the assumption that she's a very nice person to her friends and family. But she is definitely, without a doubt, the most insipid pseudo-celebrity this side of Darva Congers.

I'd never even heard of this woman (I don't watch Fox "News", or MSNBC, just like I never watched "A Current Affair") before her appearance on "The Daily Show" (which, recently, has given less sensationalist reporting to the news that anything I've seen on TV. Now whether that's saying something good about "The Daily Show" or something bad about the rest of mainstream news, I'm not sure). I don't believe she's real. I think she's really Andy Kaufman come back from the grave to play tricks on us again. It's the only possible explanation. The woman is so unfaceted that if she were a character in a book she'd be flat and badly written. You'd have to try hard to make up stuff like this.

Here's a few quotes, taken from Anti-Coulter:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

Funny, that's the same thing the terrorists say when they kill civilians. Another gem:

"The only beef Enron employees have with top management is that management did not inform employees of the collapse in time to allow them to get in on the swindle. If Enron executives had shouted, "Head for the hills!" the employees might have had time to sucker other Americans into buying wildly over-inflated Enron stock. Just because your boss is a criminal doesn't make you a hero."

Why is the person who says she loves working-class Americans playing Devil's Advocate for the Corporate Executives who ruined their retirement funds? I bet if Ken Lay were best friends with Al Gore instead of George W. Bush, she'd be singing a different tune.

Here's an older quote that, I sincerely hope, raises eyebrows.

"I think we had enough laws about the turn-of-the-century. We don't need any more." Asked how far back would she go to repeal laws, she replied, "Well, before the New Deal...[The Emancipation Proclamation] would be a good start."

Wow. That one speaks for itself. This one, though, is my personal favorite. On a recent new York Times article asking the "man on the street" about their opinions on a possible invasion of Iraq:

"...the New York Times managed to locate the only eight people in America opposed to attacking Iraq? (By "America," I obviously mean to exclude newsrooms, college campuses, Manhattan [...my emphasis...] and Los Angeles)."

How dare she!?! This made me so mad when I read it I was literally shaking. Look, either the attacks on September 11th were an attack on real Americans, many of them liberal, many of them Muslim, many of them even (to use a favorite phrase of hers) "swarthly males", or it wasn't. You can't say that the country that you're faithful to was attacked and then turn around and say that the place that was attacked wasn't really America. Make up your mind, Ann. Either you love freedom, or you don't.

Since I, unlike, it seems, Ann Coulter, do love freedom, I'm glad that we live in a society where she's allowed to prattle on about whatever she chooses. Because, in the America Ann Coulter and others of a like mind to hers would create, anyone as outspoken as herself would be among the first sent off to re-education camp. But then again, I never did "...appreciate the benefits of local fascism." Thanks, Ms. Coulter.

Thanks to Anti-Coulter for most of the info.
Oh man. A post about hating Ann Coulter, before it was cliche. Such innocence!

Plus, a Darva Congers reference!

Bye-bye Summer!

13 months 046

You were fun while you lasted.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Clothing weirdness

Should I be concerned that Abbie wears a 24 mos-sized shirt but a 6 or 9
mos-sized jeans?

It seems she has already started on the lifelong oddessy that is being
female and trying to find jeans that fit you. Depressing.

That look on our faces isn't confusion...

This is the best Daily Show bit I've seen in awhile.

Via Crooks and Liars.

They also interviewed Heywood Jamblome

This is pretty funny.
But hold on. Did you catch the name of the young Anbar tough who is the chief informant for the article? Abu Lwat. That's kind of an odd nom d'guerre for a tough former insurgent. See, in Arabic, "Lwat" (اللواط) means "the practice of homosexuality" or, more specifically, sodomy. As a sharp-eyed friend of mine put it, "Either the toughs of Anbar have some sense of humor with their noms due guerre or a coded message is being sent to readers who know Arabic." So.... what exactly is this young Anbar tough, chatting to an American reporter about his alignment with the American military in an interview evidently arranged by the American military, signaling by identifying himself as - with apologies for the crudity here - "father of the fag"? Or, since the luti is the giver rather than the recipient, as it were, perhaps it is "father of the guy giving it to the Americans up their posteriors"? (*) Inquiring minds would like to know... and might also want to know what the military translators who presumably set up this interview were thinking.
I think this is what happens when you fire all the good Arabic translators for being gay.

Via Cursor.

Friday, August 10, 2007

School starts...

Well my freaky darlings, it's that time of year again. I'm going to
spend my last weekend taking kiddo to the park and trying to remember
everything I learned in Russian 102 before 201 begins.

Expect little to no posting until Fall Break, then little to no posting
again until it's time to procrastinate for studying for finals.

Richard Leakey has the vapors

Someone get him a towel.
NAIROBI, Kenya - One of the world's leading paleontologists denounced Ethiopia's decision to send the Lucy skeleton on a six-year tour of the United States, warning Friday that the 3.2 million-year-old fossil will likely be damaged no matter how careful its handlers are.

..."It's a form of prostitution, it's gross exploitation of the ancestors of humanity and it should not be permitted," Leakey told The Associated Press in an interview at his office in Nairobi.
It's really easy for white people from wealthy countries to make statements like this. Kenya has a resource that could earn them lots of money, money that they could really use. If you're so worried about Kenya whoring out their fossils, how about working to ensure that they're not that ass broke in the first place?

No, it's easier to blame the Africans. Leakey has a similar obsession with shooting poachers. Now poaching is particularly odious in my opinion, and certianly a threat to Africa's endangered wildlife species. However, shooting poachers on the spot is fucked up, and bound to be much less effective than helping the native people so that they're not so poor - or have so little opportunity to do anything else - that they have to sell ivory or eat bushmeat or whatever.

It's hard not to notice that poachers are only shot on sight in countries where black people are doing the poaching.

Zozobra on TV

Every year of my adult life I've been meaning to attend the burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe, but something always comes up without fail and I wind up not being able to go.

Yes, even atheists love a good Pagan ritual.

Now, though, I'll be able to just watch it on TV.
KOB-TV 4 and the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe have reached an agreement to provide the first-ever live presentation of the Burning of Zozobra on broadcast television.
I'm kind of surprised they've never done this before. I wonder if they'll be able to capture the drunken atmosphere.

Neat!

I seriously can't wait for school to start again. All this anthro/archeo-geekery in the news lately is whetting my appetite.
Erosion on the floor of the English Channel is revealing the remains of a busy Stone Age settlement, from a time when Europe and Britain were still linked by land, a team of archaeologists says.

The site, just off the Isle of Wight, dates back 8,000 years, not long before melting glaciers filled in the Channel and likely drove the settlement's last occupants north to higher ground.

...Despite the logistical problems of underwater archaeology, the Isle of Wight site and others like it are usually better preserved than their counterparts on land, Momber said.

When the floodwater rose slowly in the English Channel, it deposited layers of silt atop the settlement, encasing it in an oxygen-free environment that preserves even organic materials such as wood and food.

"With underwater sites, all the trappings of a society are going to remain, not just the stone," Momber said. The trade-off is an environment that can carry away the precious remains at any time—a real concern at the Isle of Wight settlement.
I find this early-ish Holocene stuff interesting. And I would love to do some underwater archeology.

Or, you know, watch a show about it on TV.

More on the skulls...

Afarensis weighs in on the recent H. habilis/H. erectus skull 'controversy.'

Am I annoyed by this?

Because I kind of don't think I am.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Governor Bill Richardson skirted a thorny debate on homosexuality during a Los Angeles forum that included six of the eight Democratic presidential contenders.

Richardson was asked Thursday whether homosexuality is a choice or biological and said he doesn’t see it as an issue of science or definition. He says he sees gays and lesbians as human beings.
The AP story makes this out as skirting a tough question, and maybe it is (I certainly don't think homosexuality is a choice). But I don't think it's an annoying or homophobic answer. I kind of had the same response to a big thread where people were debating gender identity and the whole trans thing.

Does 'choice' matter? Would it mean the people in question deserved rights and respect any less?

**added** Coincidentally, there's a post kind of about this at Pharyngula this morning, where PZ talks about some of the biological, hormonal factors of homosexuality.

Also, though, from an Ethnology student's point of view, other cultures don't really have 'gay' like we have 'gay.' In some cultures it's a life-stage thing, where young men are paired with each other, then when you're older you take a wife. In some cultures the separation of the sexes is extreme, and men have sex with women only during a special ceremony that is considered traumatic for the men. It would be interesting to see if the hormone levels or whatever in these cultures are any different, but that's all it would be - interesting. As an argument to base public policy on, it's pointless.

At least, that's the opinion of this straight cisgendered woman, if it means anything.

Happy Blogiversary!

It's my 6th year blogiversary next week.

Woot!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bring it on.

The Happyland comments are currently under attack by "Anonymous."

To which I say, bring it on. I am not afraid of you.

Jill has more here.

Added*** So, if any real comments get accidentally deleted, don't take it too personally.

Ummm...No?

Some instinct of mine tells me that this is full of crap.
The discovery by Meave Leakey, a member of a famous family of paleontologists, shows that two species of early human ancestors lived at the same time in Kenya. That pokes holes in the chief theory of man's early evolution — that one of those species evolved from the other.

...It's the equivalent of finding that your grandmother and great-grandmother were sisters rather than mother-daughter, said study co-author Fred Spoor, a professor of evolutionary anatomy at the University College in London.
Now, without going into the fact that Homo habilis, the 'great-grandmother' they're talking about here, is kind of a trash-can species, and many anthropologists (namely, my Biological Anthropology professor) argue that it may not even be a separate species, that is not what this discovery is the equivalent of. Rather, it's like finding out your grandmother and great-grandmother were alive at the same time and lived in the same house for awhile. Which I'm willing to bet they did.

The article goes on to make several references to how this proves a 'bush' theory of evolutionary development over a 'ladder' theory, with a more linear development. This seems to me to show a huge misunderstanding in the way both evolution and the fossil record works, and scientist's understanding of them. Of course human evolutionary development is more 'bushy.' That's how evolution works. No anthropologist I've ever studied under, talked to, or whatever has believed this. The evolutionary trees of modern animals are 'bushy.' Why would humans be any different?

The reason that it may seem, with the fossil specimens we have, to be 'ladderish' is because we have so few fossils. The conditions that created, say, Lucy or Turkana Boy in the first place are exceedingly rare. Then you have to consider that they went millions of years without being destroyed and that we happened upon them in the first place. The amount of fossils undiscovered, combined with the amount of fossils already destroyed and the amount of individuals that were never fossilized in the first place is probably overwhelmingly huge.

(Now this is not to say that evolutionary theory is somehow flawed - even with our sparse information, the theory stands. It's like making a map of a coastline you're exploring. Just because you have to keep adding details to the map as you find out new things doesn't mean that maps are 'wrong.')

I blame cheesy articles like this one, combined with poor science education, for the lack of understanding regarding human evolution in the general public. It's really not that complicated to not explain it stupidly.

**Added** Quoth PZ Myers (whose grammar is much more coherent than mine):
These discoveries do not put any seriously held theories in doubt. They do nicely demonstrate that a linear progression is not to be seriously held.

Just as your mother's life most likely substantially overlapped with your own, the persistence of a parental species so that it overlaps in time with its daughter species is not a challenge to evolution at all.
What he said.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A story in 5 parts.

Mama, put this pirate doo-rag on my head, please. It matches my stopwatch necklace.

Please, put this pirate doo-rag on my head.

Eh - needs some adjustment. And no, I don't know where my other shoe is.

Needs Adjusting.

Ah! Okay! Too much adjusting!

Okay!  Too much adjusting!

Perfect.

Perfect!

Now I will ride my bike across the toy-strewn living room. Which you really should clean already.

I will now ride my bike across the toy-strewn living room.

The End.

Neat!

Hey, look, the Schmap Las Vegas online guide thingy used my photo of the New York New York casino! I am cool.

Youtubing

An odious troll at Feministe reminded me of this movie today.



Awesome. Isn't Roddy Piper oddly hot in his package-hugging ultratight 1980s Levis?

Sista Big Bones




CONGRATULATIONS!! You are a true, 100% Fat Girl. You
may be fat but your confidence, positive attitude and
beauty are what people notice about you. Celebrate by
getting your nails done - your hands will be that much
more attractive as you're taking the last chicken wing.

Take the How Much Of A Fat Girl Are You? Quiz!

Woo! Damn right. Via Butterfly Cauldron.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Presented without (much) comment.

Because what is there to say?

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - A soldier convicted of rape and murder in an attack on an Iraqi teenager and her family was sentenced Saturday to 110 years in prison.

The sentence was part of a plea agreement attorneys for Pfc. Jesse Spielman had made with prosecutors that set the number of years he could serve in prison, regardless of the jury's recommendation.

The jury had recommended life with parole, a sentence under which he would have to wait longer for the possibility of parole. He will be eligible for parole after 10 years.
Meanwhile, the family of Abeer Qassim Hamza, her father Qassim Hamza Raheem, her mother Fakhriya Taha Muhasen, and her 5-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza will not be eligible for parole from the hell they have been sentenced to in the knowledge that their family members were murdered and raped...ever.

I'm against the death penalty, but hearing about cases like this makes sticking to that conviction tough.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wow, I suck.

You can tell I'm not a film student anymore, because I didn't even notice that Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni both died on Monday.

As they say, D'oh.

Read Roger Ebert's (who has started writing reviews regularly again, yipee!) memorial write-ups on both men.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oh please. Put your clutched pearls away, Mary.

Maybe I was too much of a modern primitive in my younger days but when I hear people talk about this-and-that being 'mutilation,' my eyeballs just about roll out of their head.

Tattoos are mutilation. Piercings are mutilation. Black women straightening their hair is mutilation. Boob jobs are mutilation.

Or, sex change operations are mutilation.
Wednesday the BBC reported on a recent debate about the validity of sex change surgery organized by BBC Radio and the Royal Society of London. Opposing four experts on transsexuals, Julie Bindel, a British feminist and journalist, argued that sex reassignment surgery is an "unnecessary mutilation" based on unscientific ideas and a reactionary idea of gender. She contended that the very idea of "being trapped in the wrong body" is a homophobic diagnosis invented by psychiatrists in the 1950s and that the "highest number of sex change operations take place in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death."
Okay, can I just say upfront that a sex change operation in an oppressive theocratic culture is not going to be the same thing as a sex change operation in the US (well, not yet anyway) or the UK? The two situations wouldn't seem to compare.

The Broadsheet article goes on:
Voicing support for Bindel's controversial position was Claudia MacLean, a transsexual woman who told the audience she should never have had sex change surgery, and that she was recommended for it after a 45-minute consultation. Also interviewed for the story were a couple of other transsexual people who regret their surgery.
Okay, now I wouldn't get *any* major surgery after a mere 45-minute consultation. But this sounds like an extreme case. Anyone out there in the trans community with more information than me on this issue?

Really, though, this all sounds like the same old aghast pearl-clutching cries my punk friends and I used to get walking down the streets of Boston in the 90s. How could you mutilate your face with all those holes! How could you mutilate your skin with all those tattoos!

Hey, it's your body, and as long as you're not being forced into it by someone else, modify it however you want.

(Evil fizz also wrote about this at Feministe.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007