Saturday, October 23, 2004

Less Spam?

It's about time. I don't need any of the things people are trying to sell me, especially the Viagra or the hair growing goop or the "lose-50lbs-while-snacking-on-chocolates-every-day". If you count up the seconds per day you spend erasing this crap and then multiply the time with the number of days you spend at your keyboard it adds up to a lot of lost life. Life that you could have used by reading my immortal words, for example (never ignore a chance to advertize!).

The reason for all the spam and spyware is twofold: the cheap price for advertizers and the absence of proper laws and legal enforcement of any that exist. If an advertizer sends a million Viagra e-mails and one person buys the product the costs of the campaing are probably covered. This ignores the costs to all the other 999,999 people who get angry and who have to spend time erasing the messages, who then go home with achy fingers and yell at their partners or children or dogs, who then eat too fast and get an ulcer and end up costing all of us millions in intensive care. It could happen.

That's why I was pleased to read that at least one spyware company has been taken to court:

U.S. District Judge Joseph DiClerico issued a temporary restraining order Thursday against Stanford Wallace and his companies, Inc. of Richboro, Pa., and Seismic Entertainment Productions Inc. of Rochester. SmartBot's principal place of business is Barrington.
Prosecutors sought the injunction on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission, which targeted Wallace in its first anti-spyware action.
The judge ordered Wallace to remove software code that exploits security holes in computer operating systems and Web browsers, then tracks people's Internet use to bombard them with pop-up ads.
Wallace also is accused of trying to sell computer users $30 remedies called "Spy Wiper" and "Spy Deleter" that the FTC says don't work.

This is not strong enough. Wallace needs to come and clean my computer every day. While he is at it he could also do the dishes and walk the dogs. Then he can do the same to you, and to you, and to you. And so on.

Today's Funnies

Courtesy of Tom deLay, who is facing ethics complaints:

"I've never had a campaign where the entire nation has tried to destroy my name," DeLay said. "They are going after me in the most personal and vindictive way. It's gutter politics."

Funny. Verrry funny.

Voter Suppression, Anyone?

Ohio would be a good place to go if you'd like to try your hand in some. Here's an example of how it's done:

The caller interrupting a North Side couple's dinner earlier this week said he was from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
He told the elderly woman that her voting site had changed and that on Nov. 2 she and her husband should cast their ballots at a South Side precinct. The caller even left the phone number of the board.
Her husband, who didn't want their names published out of fear of retribution, called the board, sat through a long menu of automated options and finally spoke with an employee.
"They said there was no way in the world they would make such a call," he said. "I think it's hankypanky and somebody in the election is trying to kill some votes."

The Election Officer's office has received a dozen similar calls from voters who were given similar instructions. The important question is how many voters just wrote down the "new" polling site instructions and never called anybody.

A slightly different threat is presented by the election monitors. Election monitoring is perfectly legal, but it is easy to see how a large number of stern observers questioning a voter about his or her right to be at the voting place could work to suppress votes. Who wants to walk through a gauntlet just to press a button or pull a lever?

The Republicans are employing election monitors in large numbers in Ohio:

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.
Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.
Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.

I don't like the sound of this at all. Especially the "suspect" bit. What exactly are the monitors going to use as a sign of being suspicious? Race? Social class?

A Dog Story for Saturday

This is a lovely story. A young chocolate Labrador called Marshall was overcome by a kitchen fire while his owners were on vacation. He stopped breathing. But the firefighters found him and saved him by mouth-to-snout resuscitation and by pushing on his chest to restart his heart. Marshall came back to life!
A curmudgeony postscript:
It's not recommended to leave a dog alone like this, however, even if someone looks in ever so often (like in this case). Dogs are pack animals and pine when left alone. Marshall would have been safer and happier in a kennel or in the neighbor's house.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ann Coulter Faces Al Pieda

No comment on this story... Or on the video (choose the Ann Coulter Pelted with Pies from the list)

Friday's Bird Blogging

I love birds. Some time ago I left a window open in my study, and a bird flew in carrying in its beak a lens arrangement for a camera. I kid you not. After a while the bird left through the window (safely), but I still have the lens circle. It may be a message from some higher-up divinities. Too bad I can't decipher it.

In other birdy news, a fossil of an ancient bird was found in China quite recently. The chick died right before hatching, and the fossil shows evidence of formidable claws and feathers. Today's songbirds are not born with feathers, and the theory is that the kinds of birds who take care of their young are a later evolutionary developments. The prehistoric birds were all grown-up once they were hatched and able to take care of themselves. I bet many parents would argue that evolution got this one backwards.

Prehistoric birds probably also couldn't imitate an alarm clock. I had a mocking bird or something similar do that to me at all sorts of odd hours of the day and night. It was my alarm clock sound, so the confusion was considerable. I bet the bird enjoyed it all.

Women in Combat?

Atrios linked to this piece of news in the 'honorable and unbiased' Washington Times:

The Army is negotiating with civilian leaders about eliminating a women-in-combat ban so it can place mixed-sex support companies within warfighting units, starting with a division going to Iraq in January.
Despite the legal prohibition, Army plans already have included such collocation of women-men units in blueprints for a lighter force of 10 active divisions, according to Defense Department sources.
An Army spokesman yesterday, in response to questions from The Washington Times, said the Army is now in discussions with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's staff to see whether the 10-year-old ban in this one area should be lifted. The ban prohibits the Army from putting women in units that "collocate" with ground combatants.
"When that policy was made up, there was a different threat," said Lt. Col. Chris Rodney, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. "We imagined a more linear combat environment. Now, with the nature of asymmetrical threats, we have to relook at that policy."
Col. Rodney cited the fighting in Iraq as typifying the new threat whereby all soldiers, support or combat, face attack by rockets, mortars, roadside bombs and ambushes.
"Everybody faces a similar threat," he said. "There is no front-line threat right now."
Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the Army has suffered 793 combat deaths, including 24 female soldiers.

The ban is not going to be lifted in direct combat units. What it really means is that women could face the same risk of death but still be denied the greater promotion possibilities that come with being allowed to engage in direct combat.

My opinions on women in the military are both very complicated and very simple: I believe that women should not be barred from fighting and killing and getting killed if men are not barred, but I also believe that nobody should be fighting wars unless there is absolutely no other alternative. There are many women who would not be suited for this task, but there are also many unsuited men. The arguments that crop up about physical power and courage and menstruation and the problem of wild sex among the military have a lot more to do with deeply hidden emotions about sex and misogyny and what it means to be a man than the actual requirements of warfare. Modern warfare does not have much to do with physical power of the explosive sort, for example, and even when it does it's only useful in one-to-one combat which is not that common. Courage is not something only men can show, and the menstruation argument is just plain silly (women have successfully menstruated through all kinds of horrors in history, and if that doesn't reassure the critics, the contraceptive pill can be used to stop menstruation altogether).

What really underlies most of the hesitation about women in combat roles is all these feelings we might have about what it means to be a man, and to a lesser extent, what it means to be a woman. If someone truly believes that boys become men only by going to war, for example, then having women in the military is a bit of a letdown, isn't it? And if someone wants women to carry only nurturing qualities and men to be the protectors of women, a coed military force appears downright blasphemous.

That wars are about killing and getting killed, whatever the sex of the combatants, that wars are horrible and should not be engaged in lightly, that wars are not really over even when peace arrive, these are all more important aspects to consider than whether women should have direct combat roles. And those who quail when thinking about a motherless child of a female soldier killed in combat should think about the fatherless children of all the male soldiers also killed in combat, or perhaps even more to the point, the parentless children of all the civilians, many of them women, who get destroyed as a side-effect of all these splendid wars.

More on the Contraceptive Pill

A new study of 162,000 American women suggests that taking the contraceptive pill, especially early, may have long-term health benefits:

Dr Rahi Victory, the lead researcher, said that overall there was an 8 per cent risk reduction of ever having cardiovascular disease among women who had taken the Pill. "If you use oral contraceptives early on, you're probably going to be protected later in life," he said.
Women on birth control pills also had a 7 per cent lower risk of developing any form of cancer, a small benefit that increased with length of use, Dr Victory said.
Women who took the Pill for four years or more had a 42-per cent lower risk of ovarian cancer and were 30 per cent less likely to develop uterine cancer. No effect was seen on the risk of breast, colon or bladder cancer - but even that was seen as good news because of previous studies suggesting that Pill use made breast cancer more likely.

The benefits were only seen in women who took the pill for at least a year, and the benefits increased the longer the pill was taken. The study subjects were between fifty and seventy years of age, which means that many of them took the early contraceptive pill which was higher in hormones than the current one. This could mean that the current pill will not have equal effects, though it could also mean that even the high hormonal contents of the older pill did not increase breast cancer risk as used to be thought.

I have not seen the original study, but it is a large, randomised trial which is good. Large studies have their own funny statistical problems, of course, but so far this looks quite decent.

It's nice to hear something reassuring from the medical establishment with respect to women's health. This is not such a common event as to deserve no accolades. Now countless women can stop worrying about an increased breast cancer risk from taking the pill.

On the other hand, the results of this study, if verified, will cast a different light to the recent pro-life trend of arguing that the birth control pill causes abortions and that all pro-life physicians and pharmacists should refuse it to women. If the pill also has long-term health benefits, denying the pill will also deny these benefits.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Is This A Choice?

In Darfur, Sudan, women in the refugee camps must often choose between rape and survival. Pamela Shifman's diary on the UNICEF website contains this:

"We spent some time asking women and girls about their lives in the camps and about the problems they are facing. Their first answer was: We need security, we are not safe.

Several women told us of enduring horrible violence when they were forced to flee. They told stories of rape and beating and killing--many had lost family members and had witnessed rape and killing in front of their eyes.
And then they told us that in the camps they now must call home, they are still not safe. So many women told the same story: they are terrified to leave to get firewood. Firewood is absolutely necessary for their survival and the survival of their children. And the nearly all day trip to collect the wood is fraught with danger. Soldiers prey on women and girls along the path to collect firewood. And the cruel part is, the women and the girls have no choice but to take that dangerous path for their very survival.

People in Darfur have experienced hell on earth. Isn't it time to let them be safe, at least for a little while?

No Halo Today

Isn't that clever? Haloscan has been down today, I have been told, but it should be back up now. So you can add your immortal words in the most ephemeral of all media: the blogs.

Blogging is like doing the dishes: you work and work and then you do it all over again. Sniff.

The October Surprise - Rumors, Rumors

The Rovian surprise for October might be a trip to Iraq by our fearless leader. If it can be arranged safely, of course. This is what upyernoz heard from some legitimate source a couple of days ago, and archy blogged more about it today. Then it was picked up by Atrios. So it has good lefty legs, for a rumor.

I'm not sure if Bush's rectangular box would let him go, assuming it's either his conscience, his instructions or his medical treatment. But this is very mean-spirited and I must shut up.

Michelle the Malicious

Michelle Malkin is a very beautiful wingnut. She writes about the importance of using preventive concentration camps in the war against terror, and in general has decided that most money and fame is in finding those forgotten viewpoints that Attila the Hun thought too right-wing.

She has now directed her unusual mind to the task of chewing up the women who support Kerry in the presidential campaign. She calls them "hysterical" (this has a lot of anti-woman history, Michelle), a disgrace to a nation at war and Sniveling Sallies. This is a pun about the Rosie the Riveter concept of the second world war. Michelle really likes feminists who are safely no longer active. This is common among the wingnut gals, by the way, and a way for them to seem not as extremist as they are. But they would have been opposed to Riveter Rosies and the suffragists and all the other old-time feminists. I happen to know this.

Anyway, Michelle thinks that we should all be Riveter Rosies: we must do as the president tells us without any whining or complaining:

During World War II, young Rose Will Monroe was the face of American women in adversity: strong, supportive and resolute against the enemy forces that threatened our existence. Tens of thousands like Rosie rolled up their sleeves, gritted their teeth, and flexed their muscles in factories and shipyards and arsenals across the country.
They made rockets and rifles and bombs and boats. They painted and drilled and welded. When they got home to their kids, they cooked and cleaned and collapsed in bed after praying for their husbands and brothers and uncles on the battlefield. Rosie and her sisters in arms didn't have the luxury of complaining about their lack of "me time." There was a war to be won. And so, as this presidential campaign season has constantly reminded us, there is today.

I'm glad that Michelle is out there making airplanes and then going home and collapsing after praying for her husband. She knows what's what, obviously. This war is no different from the WW II!

I'm a little tired about addressing people who live in some different place from reality, and it's no longer even that fun. What can you write about someone who believes that being a Democrat is akin to treason? That women who want better treatment in the labor force are shameful at the time of this war? That we should use preventive concentration camps against Muslims?

Malkin should be ignored by all sane people. The problem with this approach is that it leaves her voice clear and audible to all who might not be noticing her insanity.

Red Sox Won!

The American League. This is about baseball for those of you who read this in some other country. Baseball is one of those American games which are hard to understand without life-long exposure, but the basic idea is the exact opposite of most games: instead of trying for a lot of movement you try to have nothing whatsoever happen except for one player throwing a ball over and over.

Now I'm going to be lynched by all the baseball fans. You would think that you get into the worst possible debates on the net about religion or politics or feminism, but no. The worst debates I ever got mired in were about baseball, and the trick was to say that baseball players are not real athletes. Try it if your life doesn't have enough drama.

But I'm very happy for the Sox! I am! And I swear I had nothing to do with their coming back from 3-0 in this impressive way, nothing at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


You may not have seen this one before, though I doubt it. I can't think of anything else to post tonight, so this must do:

'How many Bush administration officials does it take to change a light bulb?'

None. There’s nothing wrong with that light bulb. There is no need to change anything. We made the right decision and nothing has happened to change our minds. People who criticize this light bulb now, just because it doesn’t work anymore, supported us when we first screwed it in, and when these flip-floppers insist on saying that it is burned out, they are merely giving aid and encouragement to the Forces of Darkness.

-- John Cleese

John Cleese invented the ministry of walks, didn't he? I spent hours trying to learn to walk funnier than he did. I never managed it, but I can turn my eyes up so that nothing shows but the white eyeballs!

Skirts in the Navy

This is about skirts, actually:

Women serving in the United States Navy are no longer required to wear skirts as part of their uniform, due to changes to the Navy's uniform dress code issued earlier this month. Previously, women were required to wear skirts for formal events, as well as pack them for sea duty. The changes affect the more than 54,000 women in the Navy, and were recommended after 40,000 sailors were surveyed, the Associated Press reports.

The Navy is regarded as a path-breaker in this sense. What's even more exciting is that the new code allows women to run:

All skirts that are part of the Navy uniform will now also have kick pleats, allowing the wearer to break out into a run.

Imagine someone wearing the previous types of skirts trying to run after a terrorist! Or away from one. Sometimes I think that our priorites are a little upside down.

Kick pleats, by the way, are one of the most interesting sewing projects. Their design requires the use of intricate spatial thinking. I once made a skirt with a beautiful kick pleat. The pleat worked perfectly, I could make it flare out with a tiny flamenco style kick. But the waist line of the skirt was far too large for me so the whole construct fell to the floor after the kick. I still have the skirt if anybody needs one like that.

Shhh! Don't Mention This One!

(Written in a very quiet voice): The CIA names names in its new report about 9/11. It tells who actually should be blamed for failing to take proper action to prevent this mass murder. Isn't that interesting?(End quiet voice.)

The problem is that the report will not be published before the presidential elections in the United States:

It is shocking: The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago.

Why is nobody allowed to see this document? Could it be that national security would be threatened by all its revelations? Nah:

By law, the only legitimate reason the CIA director has for holding back such a report is national security. Yet neither Goss nor McLaughlin has invoked national security as an explanation for not delivering the report to Congress.

"It surely does not involve issues of national security," said the intelligence official.

"The agency directorate is basically sitting on the report until after the election," the official continued. "No previous director of CIA has ever tried to stop the inspector general from releasing a report to the Congress, in this case a report requested by Congress."

What to think?

Learning to Blog in Boston

The Center for New Words is running a weekend course in blogging for girls and women who want to start their own revolutions this way. The course is taught by our own Natalie from the Liberal Coalition! If you know anyone in the area (like you or your baby sister or your mom or your best friend or the love of your life) who would really like this course, tell them that the deadline to sign up is this Friday! Then everybody can be just like me...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Is This Class War?

Something George Bush has said several times in his stump speeches has not attracted very much attention in the media, if any. Today several people are discussing it on one the Eschaton comments threads, and though I should save this post for tomorrow (what will I write about tomorrow if I don't hoard this: my philosophical problem concerning why our biggest toes are on the inside rather than on the outside of the feet?), it's too interesting to abstain. The usual problem with abstinence. Sorry about the babbling.

Anyway, George keeps repeating this remark:

THE PRESIDENT: That $2.2 trillion is a lot even for a Senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.) So they said, how are you going to pay for it? How are you going to pay for this new spending? He said, we're going to tax the rich. Now, you've heard that before, haven't you? Here's the problem with that. You can't raise enough money by taxing the rich to pay for $2.2 trillion. There's a tax gap. And guess who always gets stuck with the bill? I'll tell you something else about that language, tax the rich. The rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason, so you get stuck with the bill. We're not going to let John Kerry tax you, because we're going to carry Pennsylvania and win in November. (Applause.)

Here's another version:

Let me tell you one other problem he has with that. He says, oh, I'm just going to tax the rich. Well, the rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason -- that's to stick you with the tab. But we're not going to let him tax you, we're going to carry Iowa and the country in November. (Applause.)

The sitting president of the United States is openly admitting that he doesn't care enough about taxing the rich to enforce the tax laws that these rich people evade, or to make the tax laws fairer if they now allow the rich to escape taxes legally. And this is not commented on the Fox News? That George Bush has given up on any attempts to make the rich pay taxes? That George Bush actually thinks this idea is so good that it should be shared with all the faithful of the Republican party?

He's making this statement as if he's talking about the inevitability of the sun rising in the morning. It's a law of nature that the rich can avoid paying taxes, and the only realistic response to it is to urge other income classes to refuse any new taxes as these would just be rolled onto their backs. Talk about a class war! Well, nobody's talking about a class war except for me, and I don't count.

I would think that the rational approach to the rich not paying their taxes would be to a) work on better enforcement of existing tax laws and b) close the gaps that allow the rich to take their investments to offshore establishments in order to avoid taxes.
The least rational answer is the one that George Bush is advocating: let's not tax anyone because the rich will make sure that everybody else will pay but they will not, and this is fine and dandy with the president of the country.

It's almost like saying that we should have no laws against homicide because very wealthy defendants can buy the best lawyers and get their freedoms that way whether they're innocent of the crime or not.

That we hear nothing about this from the SCLM is a sign of something. I don't even want to think about what that might be.

Iran Endorses Bush!

This is getting to be so enjoyable:

The head of Iran's security council said on Tuesday the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.
Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran's top security decision-making body.
"We haven't seen anything good from Democrats," Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.
"We should not forget that most sanctions and economic pressures were imposed on Iran during the time of Clinton," Rowhani said of the former Democratic president. "And we should not forget that during Bush's era - despite his hard-line and baseless rhetoric against Iran - he didn't take, in practical terms, any dangerous action against Iran."

When will he hear whom Osama bin Laden endorses?

On Fear and Pockets of Distress

The military calls this "psyops", ways to wage the war using psychological tricks. The Republicans call it something different, but the idea is the same. Dick Cheney has come out with the clearest statement yet of how fear is employed by the current Bush reselection campaign:

Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday evoked the possibility of terrorists bombing U.S. cities with nuclear weapons and questioned whether Sen. John Kerry could combat such a threat, which the vice president called a concept "you've got to get your mind around."
"The biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever before been used against us — biological agents or a nuclear weapon or a chemical weapon of some kind to be able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans," Cheney said.
"That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that's capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept," Cheney said.

Cheney, speaking to an invitation-only crowd as he began a bus tour through Republican strongholds in Ohio, said Kerry is trying to convince voters he would be the same type of "tough, aggressive" leader as President Bush in the fight against terrorism.
"I don't believe it," the vice president said. "I don't think there's any evidence to support the proposition that he would, in fact, do it."

Fear has a useful role in human survival terms, but its use in an election campaign in this way is not useful, particularly when the Bush administration has no obvious plan to protect us against such an attack. For example, most of the freight coming into this country by sea is still totally uninspected. So is the freight that is sent by air.

Compared to that, the question of Kerry's decisiveness is just psyops. The fear is here to stay, and I'd rather have Kerry at the reins than also be scared of what Bush might do in one of his temper tantrums.

In other news, Alan Greenspan, the calm, kind and mysterious head of the Federal Reserves has called the rising trend of bankruptcies "pockets of distress". Or so my radio tells me right now (too lazy to go for link-hunting, and it's raining). I like the idea of pockets of distress, maybe even pants and jackets of distress. Or shoes. And "pockets" also reminds us of all the good stuff we can put in them like money.

Here the idea is to minimize fear, to make it sound something trivial and almost good. Imagine if we called the site of a terrorist attack a pocket of distress...

In A Subway Train

It was so hot. Though the weather was cold and rainy, something had happened to the heating system of the train and the heat rose, stop by stop. It awakened the dormant smells in the dust in the air and in the bodies of the people, packed tight into a too small space, grabbing hard onto the hard metal bars. On every stop more people streamed in, less stagnant air left and the pressure increased. The fat man across the aisle was slowly shrinking away into a puddle of sweat, the woman sitting spreadlegged on two seats kept unwrapping another layer of her manicolored garments. Small children screamed out of heat and lack of oxygen and the press of alien bodies against them. A man in an expensive suit carefully wiped the sweat off his neck before it dyed the white collar of his shirt yellow.

The young woman was standing next to me, unable to reach more than a little finger's worth of the metal bar. She looked pale, almost translucent with the sweat running down her face. She was holding her stomach with one hand and clinging on to the bar with the other. I estimated her about seven months pregnant. Every bump of the train, every screech of its brakes seemed to signal directly into her body, and I edged away to give her more of the metal bar. But soon she needed both her hands just to avoid the bodies that were swung against her when the train took a curve, and all I could do was to cushion her against the sharp edges of the car walls.

Then someone got up from a seat and the pregnant woman started slowly to move towards the freed seat. I pushed a young teenager away to keep it free for her, but someone else got the seat in the meantime. Now the woman's old place had been lost in a rearranged sea of umbrellas, bags and newspapers, and she was left standing in the middle of the crowded corridor with nothing to hold onto. I couldn't reach her anymore, and my requests to a young man who was sitting near her, deep immersed in his newspapers, were not heard.

All the time the heat was increasing, the air turned into a hot, smelly custard and nobody left on any of the stops where yet more people tried to squeeze their bodies into the tightness. When I left, the pale woman was still standing, still supporting her stomach in grim determination, and the air was as impenetrable as before.

"W" Wages War Against Women

That may be a little strong, but I always want to find titles that make you want to read more. I'm an unethical, self-centered goddess, after all. So what's Bush's excuse?

Here are some snippets from the unreported invasion of the country sometimes called "women's bodies", and how the administration is faring there:

A recent review of ten state evaluations on the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education has found that the programs, which forbid discussion of contraception except to highlight failure rates, have shown no long-term success in impacting the sexual behavior of teens. Specifically, the review released by Advocates for Youth (AFY) demonstrated that programs do not have a long-term effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity among teens or in reducing their risk-taking sexual behavior. Debra Hauser, author of the report, concluded that "Some of the evaluations indicate that abstinence-only programs may have a negative impact on young people's willingness to use contraception or condoms once they do become sexually active."

Did you know that the House has already passed a 49% increase in abstinence-only programs for 2005? But as Suskind said in his recent important article, reality is not a very important concern when your marching orders are directly from God, and Bush appears to believe that this is the case.

How about this interesting fact about the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW):

CEDAW is the most comprehensive and detailed international agreement which seeks the advancement of women. It establishes rights for women in areas not previously subject to international standards. Moreover, the Convention establishes a committee to review periodically the progress being made by its adherents. Currently, 178 countries have ratified the convention. The United States is in the company of only a handful of nations that have not ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, and Somalia.
(Bolds mine.)

We share the values of Iran, Sudan and Somalia about women's rights! Does that surprise you? Well, strictly speaking, we share the values that women should not have rights over the country called "women's bodies" with those other countries. Whether we share their other anti-women values is not clear. Yet.

And this piece of news just strengthens the feeling I have that we have two invasion forces out there, though only one of them, the one in Iraq, gets much media attention:

10/15/2004 - Over 250 global leaders have endorsed a statement that reaffirms the plan of action created ten years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo. President Bush has refused to join the 250 world leaders including 85 heads of state and governments in signing the statement that ensures the rights of women to education, health care, and to reproductive choice, the Associated Press reports. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kelly Ryan explained that Bush would not sign the world leaders' statement because it "includes the concept of 'sexual rights,' a term that has no agreed definition in the international community." The ICPD statement was signed by leaders from Mexico, Canada, all member countries of the European Union, China, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Botswana, and over a dozen other African countries, as well as 22 former world leaders including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton according to

The concept of "sexual rights" is the "right to make decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence as expressed in human rights documents." It rules out a lot of very unsavory stuff, such as sexual slavery and forced pregnancies or forced abortions. But we are too concerned with the semantics of the term to agree to support an idea that might include something we don't want to have there. Like what? The right of dominatrices to whip wingnuts tied to the bedposts? The right of women to stuff loofahs down Bill O'Reilly's throat? Nah. The administration is never that funny. No, what they are worried about is that "sexual rights" might include the right for a woman to decide whether to have an abortion or not.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Putin Endorses Bush!

It takes one to know one, I suppose:

President Vladimir Putin on Monday made his strongest endorsement yet for his friend U.S. President George W. Bush, saying "international terrorism" will claim victory over the international antiterrorism coalition if Bush loses.
"I believe that the activities of terrorists in Iraq are not as much aimed at the coalition as at President Bush personally," Putin said. "The goal of international terrorism is to prevent the election of President Bush to a second term."
"If they achieve that goal, then they will of course celebrate it as a victory ... over America and, to a certain extent, over the forces of the international antiterrorism coalition," Putin told reporters in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, after a regional cooperation conference.
Putin, however, was quick to point out that his views on the U.S.-led war on Iraq continues to differ from those of Bush and that he will "respect any choice of the American people" for president.

Not unexpected and not even that new, but still hilarious. By the way, if you click on the link to the original article, have a look at the picture. All those stern old men in power... Russia and most countries that split away from the old Soviet Union have a long way to go before there is any equality for women. In fact, even a feminist awareness is still in the future there. If it ever happens. There are days when I truly believe that I'm stark crazy to blog on the issues I do. But what can a goddess do?

The So-Called Liberal Media

Here is an example of what goes for neutral commentary in the so-called liberal media (SCLM). It is from the CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, on October 17:

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

We've got a new CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll just out right now, first time we're releasing these numbers, taken over the past few days. Among likely voters, take a look at this, 52 percent for President Bush, 44 percent for Senator Kerry, Ralph Nader at 1 percent. Registered voters, 49 percent for President Bush, 46 percent for Senator Kerry, 1 percent for Ralph Nader.

It looks good, at least those numbers. Other polls show slightly different numbers. By all accounts, though, I think you'll agree, Secretary Evans, it's going to be very close.
(Bolds mine.)

So do you think that Blitzer shows some liberal bias here, hmh?
Customer warning: This is from the early transcript which may be altered later. Original link by donkey.

Breast Cancer in the News: A RANT

Just reading the words "breast cancer" strikes a fear in many women, if not most. Here is a disease that will not only kill us if it can, it will also assault our very femininity, strike us where we are at our most vulnerable, punish us for the mere fact of being women. And what are the defenses that we can use to combat this terrible scourge? Vigilance, vigilance and vigilance. We must vigilantly probe our breasts every month, memorize each individual shape we find there and keep a mental record of any change in them. After a certain age we must vigilantly seek mammographs which produce, after a varying amount of discomfort and pain, pictures resembling snowfalls and subject to all sorts of interpretation problems. And should we find a lump we must be vigilant in getting it biopsied and studied. All this before it is too late. For early detection is the only real defense against this misogynistic killer.

No wonder that some women have elected to have bilateral mastectomy just to avoid all this fear and vigilance. It almost seems sane. What else could we do to protect our breasts against a future cancerous growth?

Researchers have some ideas about this. I have read the following as possible causes of breast cancer, hence on the list of things to be avoided:
-family members with breast cancer
-animal fats in diet
-having children later
-having few children
-having no children
-not breastfeeding your children
-herbicides and pesticides
-drycleaning chemicals
-early onset of menarche
-late onset of menopause

Now new research adds to this list at least the following 'causes':
-high weight at birth
-a growth spurt during the time when breasts develop
-being tall and thin as a teenager

I think that my point is becoming obvious: Women are fed the fear of breast cancer in all sorts of different ways, and this feeding doesn't really make sense. Yes, breast cancer is a serious and frightening disease. But it's not the most serious disease that women face. In 2001, twelve women died of heart disease for each woman who died of breast cancer. In the same year, three women died of cancers of lung, bronchus or trachea for every two women who died of breast cancer. In fact, the number of women who died of influenza and pneumonia was three fourths as high as the number who died of breast cancer. Only fifteen percent of all cancer deaths among women were from breast cancer, eighty-five percent died from other types of cancers. Yet we don't see the same sort of media news or campaigns about lung cancer, for example, though more women are dying from it every year.

Breast cancer shouldn't be ignored, but it should be relegated to its proper place: as one of many types of cancers that exist and as a cause of death far less significant than heart disease. Any one woman randomly drawn among Americans is more likely to die of a heart attack than breast cancer, yet we are not seeing the same campaign against heart disease in women.

Breast cancer shouldn't be ignored, but it should be relegated to its proper place: as one of many diseases whose etiology is still poorly known. Making up long lists of possible causes may be helpful in some cases, but not when practically everything women do may turn up to be one of these 'causes'. If you were not a plump baby, you probably were a skinny and tall teenager or you had an early menarche or something.

What is truly frightening to me about these most recent research projects is that at least one of the researchers in fact advocates combating future breast cancer by seeing what could be done to change teenage growth spurts! You might as well advocate that women should have many, many children very early just so that their breast cancer risks will be minimized. Never mind if they are ready for these children, if they have found a suitable father for them and if they can support all these children. (And never mind that having many children early in life may increase the risk of cervical cancer.) This turns the concepts upside down: instead of using medical care to support our lives we are expected to interfere with these lives just so that we can avoid future medical care of a particular type. And in the meantime we are quite likely to succumb to a heart attack.

For What It's Worth

This wild rumor about Osama bin Laden being in China and ready to be handed to Bush just in time for the elections here has appeared in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

I don't think that it is true, but it's an interesting example of the speculation that has been going on, and just in case it is true, well, you read it here first. Though we could then kiss goodbye to any chances of getting someone normal into the White House. So I hope that this wild rumor is exactly that.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Just a Reminder

That there is a reason for my feminist rantings and ravings. This is the message on one Christian website about the role of women in the society:

Did you know that a woman can be cursed just for making her husband jealous?

Also, if a husband becomes jealous, it is not a sin to the man for becoming jealous but it is a sin to the woman for causing jealousy. The consequences of this are at an all time high right now in the World. A woman who is guilty of this will have two common characteristics.

Her belly will swell and her hip will rot. Hip replacement surgery is at an all time high and about the "belly to swell", well this is extremely evident, especially here in America.

Equal Rights??

ISA 40:25 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Men and Women equal?

Women are made separate from man by substance, not to be equal, but to be made from the man, for the man?

Adam was made from clay. Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs. A Male and a Female.

One created from the dust, and one created from man.

One created to serve God. And one created to serve man so he can better serve God.

How did something so simple get so terribly screwed up?

A Woman and Man Equality is a dark, deaf, dumb and blind sin which causes confusion.

Why would a woman want to be equal with a man? Why not a woman be a woman, and a man be a man?

Plain and Simple.

Men are hard and women are soft. Opposite as they should be, to not be equal, but complete.

Men are Strong, Women are Weak. Not equals, but better yet, complete.

Women have Wisdom, Men have Knowledge, completed not by equality, but complete as one in the understanding thereof.

A Woman wanting to be equal with a different type of gender is shallow and is caused by confusion.

Women are not beneath men, unless of course, they are beneath them while raising them up to the Lord in Prayer.

A Man does not need a woman to be equal with him, he desperately needs her to complete him.

And no, these are not jokes. In case you haven't seen enough, here's a little bit more:

You will love your husband as though he were Jesus himself, or you will hate him the same,

yes as though he were Jesus himself.

You will love you man, or you will love your money. You cannot love both.

Who are you serving?

Are you at home serving him and the Kingdom of Heaven?

Or are you out in the world trying to be equal to man and his sin?





One might argue that this is just one rather deranged person preaching on the internet. Perhaps. But it's not very hard for me to find many, many websites with essentially the same message. A message that seems to strike a chord in the hearts of many American fundamentalists.
Thanks to ECStanton for the link.

The Civil Rights Commission Report on Bush And Women

Sorry, no salacious stuff. But the Report does condemn Bush for a mixed record on women's rights. Mixed? Well, it turns out that the Bush administration has "launched a plan to improve women's access to capital by creating a Web site for women entrepreneurs and holding related conferences". This is the plus side of his record.

The minus side:

The Bush administration closed the White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach and attempted to close the Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor. It retreated amid objections from women's groups.

The administration withdrew Department of Education guidance on sexual harassment in schools from the Internet and ended distribution of information on workplace rights of women.

President Bush attempted to redirect Title IX enforcement, but ceased his efforts after overwhelming public expression of support for the law.

The administration abolished the Department of Labor's Equal Pay Initiative.

Bush's record on some other groups and their rights is worse than this. On the other hand, not all the anti-women acts of the administration appear to be counted by the Commission. For example, the effect that the fundamentalist base of the Republican party has exerted on the world's women via Bush's decision to cut international family planning funds to any recipients that even mention abortion as one choice is not counted in the Report.

On Group Maternity Homes

George Bush included a reference to group maternity homes in his presidential debate arguments. As he gave us nothing else specifically relevant to women in his election promises, I decided to study the potential of group maternity homes in some more detail. Will this liberate women? Help women? Make women happy?

It's hard to say. Group maternity homes are intended to be a substitute for abortions, so the intention here is not necessarily to help women but to help their fetuses. Though such homes may have been necessary in the past when pregnant single women were stigmatized and possibly kicked out of their parents' homes, it's hard to see why they would be so important today when having a child out of wedlock is not equally shameful. But maybe I am wrong, and there are large numbers of young women who really need to go to a group maternity home.

On the other hand, group maternity homes have a bad reputation. Remember the recent movie about the Magdalene Asylums, the Irish homes for unwed mothers and what happened there? Hard labor and punishment for the sin of getting pregnant? But surely Bush didn't have this in mind when he used the term? Surely such homes today would be enlightened and pleasant places for pregnant women?

I don't know. These are some of the house rules for a Christian group maternity home called His Nesting Place (a pdf file). Such an odd name to pick for a home for unwed mothers, isn't it? Anyway, the mothers at His Nesting Place are expected to act in very specific ways:

All mothers and children are expected to have a positive and willing attitude. Colossians
3:17 “Whatsoever you do in word or deed do it heartily as unto the Lord…not to be seen of
men.” Foul language, fighting, lying, hollering, gossiping, complaining, arguing, any and all
types of rebellion, sulking or any other such attitude will not be tolerated within or outside
the facility. There is a $10.00 fine for cursing. It is a mother’s responsibility to get along
with the other mothers. Mothers, who withhold information about any situation that is a
violation of any of these policies or regarding the security of the facilities, will be subject to
disciplinary action.
Mothers may visit boyfriends, relatives and other acquaintances after church services on
Wednesday evenings and Sunday’s mornings for one hour in the foyer, TV room or the
open-air courtyard, but never in the bedrooms. The only exception to this rule is mothers
and grandmothers of residents who may wish to see new babies. Permission from the
resident’s parents and/or grandparents and Pastor Al and Judy Howard is needed to
visit the facility at other times.
All chores are to always be completed by 9:15 a.m. unless prior approval has been given by
the House Manager on duty (i.e. illness). An inspection by the House Manager on duty will
be made from 9:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. If a mother needs to be released from a chore,
permission must be obtained from the House Manager on duty. All mothers are to help with
all fundraising preparation such as the monthly newsletter and pro-life weekend roses.
Mothers are expected to be neatly and properly attired. Please see Dress Rules. Mothers
should be seated quietly in the sanctuary at least ten minutes before service. Bible, pens
and notepads should be on hand. There is to be no moving around or whispering during the
service. All children should be in the Nursery or Jr. Church during the services and should
be picked up promptly after service. No babies older than one month are allowed in the
sanctuary during church service.
Devotions are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 – 10:30. Church services are
Wednesdays from 7:00 – 9:00. Attendance is mandatory.
Mothers are to be in their rooms by 10:00 p.m. Lights are to be out by 10:30 p.m. every
night except Friday. On Friday, residents are to be in their rooms by 10:30 p.m. Lights are
to be out by 11:00 p.m. Children are to be in bed by 8:30 p.m. Each mother is required to
adjust her child(ren)’s sleeping habits to fit with the schedule of HIS NESTING PLACE.7
Everyone is expected to be modestly and neatly groomed. Bras and proper undergarments
are to be worn at all times. Short shorts, tight or skimpy skirts, eccentric or outlandish attire,
excessively long fingernails and excessive make up are not allowed. Shoes must be worn
at all times. No nose rings, lip rings, tongue rings, eyebrow rings or rings other than one set
of earrings may be worn at any time. No see-through or low cut blouses or dresses. Slips
must be worn with all dresses and skirts. If a mother cannot fulfill these requirements they
should notify the House Manager and every effort will be made to assist them in meeting
these standards.

There are also rules which regulate if and when the mothers can go out and so on. This is a religious group maternity home, and the rules might not be the same in a secular one. Though whether there would be secular group maternity homes is not quite clear, given Bush's fondness for the faith-based initiative. It's hard not wonder, though, whether there indeed might be a punishment motive at work here.
Thanks to Zoe Is Short for the original link to His Nesting Place.