Saturday, June 13, 2009

And The Climax Of Teh Cute

Doug's Sasha taking a nap.

Night Thoughts

While looking for a particular Finnish song on YouTube (the song will be found at the bottom of this post) I noticed that the YouTube comments in Finnish contain lots of woman-loathing. A mild example:

Tosi ihana! Kaunis ääni, ja ihanaa että kerranki joku miespuolinenki laittaa näitä omia tulkintojaan tänne...? Ja hieno kappale! En oikee perusta noista "me singing"-videoista missä tytöt kiekuu millon kuinkaki karmeesti bändien biisejä ja tää on siis erinomaista vaihtelua sellasille! :D

Rough translation:

Truly fine! A beautiful voice, and it's great that for once someone of the male sex puts his own interpretations here...? And a fine piece! I don't really like those "me singing" videos where girls cock-a-doodle however horribly the songs of bands and this is therefore an excellent change from that!

The particular song this was attached to is available on You Tube sung by three men and two women (based on my quick count), and I'm 100% convinced that there are more songs by men than by women on You Tube overall.

I noticed that comment because right before that one I saw a comment telling us that it was MEN (capitalized) who died for Finland in WWII and thus deserve to be the top dogs, and I immediately started thinking about how it was also men who attacked from the other side and men who decided on that war in the first place and how this particular man (born 1959) had nothing to do with the war but still wants to be revered for it.

In any case, none of this is terribly important. But it's a fact that there are very few places where I can go on the net without being prepared for expressions of anger aimed at my group. The same must be doubly true for women of color.

For another example of these sudden ugly encounters, I was reading a biography of Bertrand Russell, to relax, and learned that his book On Marriage And Morals argued that women are, on average, stupider than men and that blacks are, on average, inferior to whites. He refused to remove the statement about women, saying that it's not a good idea to flatter women, but he did later remove the statement about blacks and whites. The Wikipedia tells me the latter though it fails to mention his comment about stupid women altogether and naturally therefore also whether it was ever removed.

Here's the song I was looking for: "On Suuri Sun Rantas Autius"

It's great background music for sobbing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Degrees of privilege (by Suzie)

Last week, a reader wondered how I could see value in the concept of privilege in general terms if I saw problems in the particulars. Let me illustrate my reasoning with the idea that whites have racial privilege in regard to the accumulation of wealth because their race hasn’t prevented them from buying homes. Houses and land have greatly appreciated in value, for the most part, so that children could inherit from their parents. That’s important to understand when you look at disproportionate poverty among people of color. But this does not explain the circumstances of every individual, of course.

On my father’s side, the family had little or no property in Russia, at least in part because of discrimination against Jews, and my father inherited no money. Thus, my grandparents showed up in the U.S. with less white privilege packed away in their knapsack than did other whites.

In Russia, as elsewhere in Christian countries, Jews faced discrimination as foreigners and infidels before people invented racial classifications. Scholar Robert Coles says race prejudice began in Russia around the time of the birth of Alexander Pushkin, the acclaimed poet born in 1799, whose great-grandfather was born in Africa.

Many people now consider Jews (like my father) to be white, but white supremacists don’t. Anyone who forgot that got a reminder this week when the nut attacked a Holocaust museum, killing a guard.

ETA: Thanks to the anonymous reader who just corrected me. I added in the phrase "like my father" to clarify. Of course, Jews can come from any ethnic background and be any skin color. Here's an interesting article at Kos.

Culture and privilege (by Suzie)

        A lot of interesting comments were made on an earlier thread about bullfighting, and I encourage you to go back and read it if you’re interested in the concept of privilege. One suggestion was that someone who is not part of a culture should take care to discuss it in the terms preferred by people who live in that culture.
        I have mixed feelings. I understand that people are more likely to listen to me if I speak their language. If I’m talking to a woman who has no problem with “female circumcision,” for example, I may offend her by calling it “female genital mutilation.” On the other hand, calling it “female circumcision” may encourage an inaccurate comparison to male circumcision, both in the effects and the reasons for the procedures.
        A couple of readers suggested that an outsider who refused to use terms commonly employed in their culture was exercising his own cultural privilege. But I don’t see how that jibes with the definition of privilege from critical race theory.
        Is this a way of saying: Because you don’t live here, you have the privilege of not needing to understand my culture? If someone in Brazil used her own terms to critique something in Mexico, would she be exercising Brazilian privilege? Or, does it only apply if one culture has advantages, or is widely perceived to have advantages, over another?
        A reader who accused the writer of privilege called this an Anglo-American blog, perhaps because it is an English-language blog in the U.S. or because Echidne is a non-Hispanic white who lives in America. Echidne is Finnish, and I don’t know how she feels about the word “Anglo,” but I dislike it because I know of no English ancestors, and my mother’s mother was staunchly Irish. I feel like others outside of Irish culture have imposed “Anglo” on us with no concern for our colonial history.
         The reader suggested Northern Europeans have privilege over Southern Europeans. That makes me wonder how we judge privilege in this case. If we judge privilege by per-capita income, Northern Europe does win out.
         Sometimes people recount history when talking about privilege, noting how one group colonized and/or enslaved another. In European history, however, people in the South (i.e., Romans) conquered people in the North. Greece, Spain and Portugal also established dominion over other lands.
        Perhaps cultural privilege relates to stereotypes used against Southern Europeans. But it's not like Northern Europeans aren't stereotyped as well. Think of the stereotype of the feisty Irish redhead.
        I'm interested in your thoughts, as this series on privilege continues.

The Court of the Patriarchs (by Suzie)

This is from Zion National Park in Utah. Patriarchs have presided over courts -- royal and judicial -- for so long that it's such a pleasure when a woman can be seated in one. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Widget, Sasha and Socks

This is Widget, Sasha's new big brother. Widget is still a puppy, too, though in that long-legged stage. Both Widget and Sasha belong to Doug whom we have to thank for the pics.

And here's Sasha meeting a sock.


Remember this article by Frances Kissling I linked to in an earlier post? It's about the woman Obama appointed to head the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and still well worth a read.

Now Kissling has gotten a response on a Catholic blog. What fascinates me about that response is how it ends:

Of course, none of this is Kissling's concern. She merely wants to takedown a pro-life Democrat who represents a new generation of women, a generation tired of the "Stay away from my ovaries!" pro-choice shouting that Kissling made famous. The good news is that the President is evidently listening to Kelley not Kissling. The bishops who are about to meet in San Antonio should note that fact. And, we pro-life Democrats should make sure the White House knows that we applaud the selection of Kelley for such an important and sensitive position.

It's that idea of feminism as old, outdated, stuffy shit. BOOOOORRRIIINNG! This is a very common argument from the anti-feminists, and so is painting pictures of feminists as out-of-touch, ugly, desperate and no longer fashionable.

The reason I find it so fascinating is that the argument is totally superficial and really shouldn't work. Who cares if feminists are ugly as hell if they improve women's lifetime earnings by reducing discrimination in the labor markets? Who cares if they shout as long as women themselves get to keep the right to determine their own fertility patterns? Who cares what was in fashion and wasn't in fashion? Would you say that breast cancer treatment is so old-hat, so yawn-inducing, so not worth discussing, just because it and the disease it tries to cure have been around for a long time? That these arguments are used against feminism really only shows one thing to me: Women's rights are still seen as something silly, something flippant, something that can be easily stigmatized as man-hating or as not being in fashion and so on.

You can see this best by reversing the argument in the above quote: Would pro-life Democratic women really ask everyone to please poke around in their ovaries? Would they invite us all to do so provided we stop shouting?


Women And Politics In Iran

The Iranian elections have made several newspapers write about the role of women's rights in Iran. Such pieces are not enough to make an uninformed reader into an informed one. Discussing the obligatory dress code for women may stand as short-hand for the lack of women's rights, of course. But I would have liked to read a piece which discusses the unequal treatment of women in families, in law, at work and in education more than these articles allowed. This is because I have learned that many in the West are not informed on those questions.

Here are some quotes from the articles, to get us going. First the Wall Street Journal:

In this election, the three candidates challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose tenure has included a crackdown on women's-rights activists, have tried to set themselves apart from the incumbent by focusing on female voters.

"Iranian women can be a major force and now candidates are realizing our support can deliver them victory and credibility," says Elahe Koulaee, a professor of political science at Tehran University and a former parliament member.

The top reform contender, Mir Hossein Mousavi, broke the taboo of mixing personal life with politics by campaigning with his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, an artist and scholar who has been dubbed Iran's Michelle Obama by local media.

Presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist cleric, has said he is against forcing women to wear the Islamic veil. He recently debated with his team the number of cabinet posts women should fill. Mr. Karroubi's top advisers lobbied for the foreign ministry, speculating that when relations with the U.S. normalize, the new foreign minister could shake hands with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


Last year, Mr. Ahmadinejad's government introduced two bills that would impose a tax on a woman's dowry and make it easier for a man to practice polygamy. The bills were dropped after an uproar and pressure from women's-rights activists who marched to the parliament by the tens of thousands, demanding to meet with lawmakers.

The BBC:

For women backing Mr Mousavi, or the other reformist candidate Mehdi Karroubi, they know equality has limits. It is an issue of rights: the right to study what they choose; to have a say if their husband wants to take a second wife; to do jobs they are qualified for.

"I'm a graduate from one of our country's best universities," Sara tells me in Isfahan in a quiet voice tinged with palpable frustration. "But I still can't do everything I want. I can't say everything I want."

Many young Iranians attend University and 65% of them are women.

Trained as an architect, Sara has found she is allowed to design buildings, but supervising her projects on site can be difficult, and sometimes its forbidden.

Finally, Reuters:

"Whoever comes to power has to respond to the demands of the women's rights movement," said rights campaigner Sussan Tahmasebi. "We are no longer invisible."

Activists say women in Iran are subject to discrimination that makes them second-class citizens in divorce, inheritance, child custody, legal matters and other aspects of life.

Under Ahmadinejad, there was an attempt to push women back into the "private sphere and promote them as mothers and wives," Tahmasebi said.

Iran says women in the country are better treated than in the West, where it says they are often seen as sex symbols.

Iranian women are able to hold most jobs and, unlike in Saudi Arabia across the Gulf, they can vote and drive.

But activists say dozens of campaigners have been detained since they launched a campaign in 2006 to try and collect one million signatures on a petition demanding greater women's rights. Most of them were released after a few days or weeks.

The president of Iran is of course not the ultimate holder of political power and I doubt that the Islamic clerics who do hold that power would let very large changes take place in the rights of women. It's also true that the vast majority of Iran's women are probably not in a position to even think about their general rights to a job or such, given that what happens to them is determined by the culture in their local villages and the will of their families.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And More Cute

This is like very slow sex, isn't it, this stretching out of the puppy pictures? Here's Sasha (Doug's puppy) again, this time in the jungle created by shoes. For those who are worrying, this series WILL end on Friday.

Hiding Behind Masks

Atrios posted Shepard Smith discussing the hatred he sees in his e-mail messages:

All kudos to him and the Fox News for allowing this to be aired. The validation of hatred is something I have thought about a lot. That's one bad change that the cyberspace has allowed: We walk through it masked, with a false sense of anonymity, we open our mouths and out spew all the resentment, fear and hatred we must bar in during our everyday lives. It's as if we didn't say it, after all. Some cyberspace creature did it and there's no flesh in that space, no flesh that can bleed, no bodies that die. What's perhaps worse, we may learn to take others spewing as something innocent, just a way to let off steam.

Or that's how it sometimes feels. You can find websites which specialize in White Supremacy or Male Supremacy or hatred of the Jews or of the Muslims, and those who participate there get validated in their anger and in their stereotypical beliefs, not corrected, not helped to see their grudges from a wider perspective, not made to begin the slow process of understanding.

It's not debate I want to limit or even strong feelings and language. It's the self-perpetuating enforcement mechanism which I see as dangerous, combined with more and more isolation in the sources that people use for their news, more and more of ganging up against the 'others', more and more scapegoating. The e-mails and blog comments shot into the silent space that is the news media isn't a solution to all this but perhaps part of the problem, because the masks are still on and because the lines are drawn for battle and not for debate. All that contributes to the process of 'othering' the opposition.

The masks in the title of this post are not necessarily bad, of course. Neither do I mean to attack Internet anonymity, for example, but the general feeling one easily gets that the voices in the cyberspace are not attached to real people, that what one says doesn't somehow matter as much as saying the same thing out in the street or in someone's living-room. Though locker-room talk is perfectly fine, for some reason.

I'm not sure if this makes any sense, and I wish to stress that my concerns are only about a small percentage of cyberspace exchanges. A much, much smaller percentage still would actually engage in violence because of the extra support they perceive from various websites. Still, talking about this is something we should do.

The Obama Effect?

From Atrios:

I didn't catch who was speaking on the phone to MSNBC, but he said this kind of violence can be attributed to what he called "the Obama effect," basically racist nutjobs being driven insane by President Obama.

I'm somewhat optimistic that there are fewer of these people than one might fear, but...

I presume that this refers to the Holocaust Museum murder, but it could equally well refer to the killing of Dr. Tiller. Cast your mind back to the nineties, if you can (if not, Google the Oklahoma bombing), and you might agree that there's a tendency of extremist aggressors to get more desperate when societal trends don't go their way. These people are not many. I sincerely hope that no talk show host or blogger or columnist tries to wind them up the way they did before the Oklahoma bombing.

More Of Teh Cute

Doug's Sasha who will grow into a very big girl. But note how perfectly she matches the floor in color? The necessary tactile contrast between her fur and the slick wood makes it perfect.

This is fun. Maybe I should start a cuteness blog? Instead of the stick-knitting-needles-in-your-eye-sockets blog I have now.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Don't Like You Anymore

A new USA Today poll suggests that Republicans are not happy with their very own party:

In thinking about the Republican Party's troubles, consider this: One-third of Republicans now say they have an unfavorable opinion of their party.

There's no such dyspepsia among Democrats. Just 4% have an unfavorable view of their party.

The findings of a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll underscore the perilous state of the GOP. Over the past three years, Republicans have lost control of the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and they're now struggling to forge a unified response to the popular new Democratic president.

What makes some Republicans so unhappy? It's hard to tell from that short summary of the findings (and I'm too lazy to look up the data). Perhaps the unhappy people would like to see their party more extreme? Perhaps they are pining for the good ole times, about six months ago, when America was strong?

Or do they want their party to be less extreme? But those folk have probably already fled the party.

This topic is related to what happens when some poll finds that people think the country is on the wrong track: Many writers feel that their particular complaints have been vindicated. Thus, progressive bloggers use these results to indicate that Americans would like to turn left and conservative bloggers use the same results to indicate that Americans would like to turn right. It would seem simple enough to add a question about the manner in which the country has gone off the track, to give us a bit more information. Of course this particular poll may have that question which would let us know more about it later, as the newspaper promises.

Brainy Echidna Proves Looks Aren't Everything

All Is Revealed! Here:

That rain also wipes away signs of echidna foraging and denning. It took Mr. Opiang months of searching before he found his first echidna. Then he discovered that if he followed trails of freshly dug nose pokes at night — the holes that echidnas made with their beaks as they foraged for earthworms — he could find a den where a sated echidna would be hiding. He learned to grab them under the stomach, where there were no spines. "If you hold them against yourself, they're friendly and they won't struggle," he said.

On the Internet nobody knows you use nose pokes...
Thanks for bk for the link.

Your Daily Overdose of Cute

Courtesy of the puppy Sasha (who's going to grow into a half-mastiff) and her human, Doug.

Every Sperm Is Sacred

That's a Monty Python song (do watch the video). Interesting how we never discuss sperm rights in the abortion debates. Or do we? Don't go that way, Echidne, this is a serious post.

So Ross Douthat has written a beautiful, almost elegiac, column on abortion, with the title "Not All Abortions Are Equal." The title is meant to make you subconsciously think that women's equality is irrelevant for this topic which is defined by Mr. Douthat and concerns the way we can save people like Dr. Tiller from getting murdered.

That way is to give in to the demands of extreme anti-abortion fanatics so that they stop killing people:

If abortion were returned to the democratic process, this landscape would change dramatically. Arguments about whether and how to restrict abortions in the second trimester — as many advanced democracies already do – would replace protests over the scope of third-trimester medical exemptions.

The result would be laws with more respect for human life, a culture less inflamed by a small number of tragic cases — and a political debate, God willing, unmarred by crimes like George Tiller's murder.

God willing, indeed. Let's apply the same arguments to the Islamic terrorists: If we only gave them what they want they would stop terrorist acts against the West! Let's do that! Surely Osama bin Laden would allow us to micromanage some parts of our own lives as women? Surely?
An update: Dr. Tiller's clinic is no more.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Me And McCaughey

Traveling is hazardous to your health because polite guest manners sometimes require that you sit silently while watching Fox News (instead of hammering the television screen to smithereens as all ethical people would do). That happened to me last Saturday evening. I was stuck listening to Betsy McCaughey frightening us to death by implying that WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE if Obama changes the U.S. health care system at all.

My blood pressure rose enough to cause bright red steam to come out of my eyes and nostrils, true, so perhaps McCaughey has a point. Her other points are biased ones, though. Here's an example:

Gigot: The Obama administration is making a kind of a core argument on health-care reform. It's saying if we insure more people, bring more people under government subsidies, we can save money. Save money--is that possible?

McCaughey:: No, it is very important that everyone has coverage. But it will not save money. Once people are insured, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, they will use about 70% more health services than they currently do. The most problematic area of this effort is this: The president wants to slow the flow of dollars into the health-care system.

Gigot: Right.

McCaughey: That's going to force cuts in hospital budgets, fewer nurses on the floor, less diagnostic equipment available, and waits for treatment.

Note Gigot's first misleading summary. Nobody argues that giving more people health insurance would reduce the costs of health care, rather the opposite. But that's what Gigot says. Once you erect a strawperson it's easy to light it with a match and that's what McCaughey does.

In fact, the Obama plan I have read (which may be changing, of course) aims to cut costs by preventive care, by better use of technology and - most importantly - by increasing competition through a public insurance alternative. These proposals may not work, true, but to confound them with the increases in access is just unethical.

Then McCaughey goes on to argue that Cuts Must Be Made And They Will Cause Your Death, without giving any evidence on that. In any case, nurses are already scarce in quite a few hospitals and waiting times for treatment can be long even in a merry capitalist market. Besides, I thought that cutting the fat is what corporations always love doing? Why is it suddenly the case that there is no fat? Note also all those uninsured people who are already kept waiting and waiting and waiting for basic health care services.

Another example of McCaughey's remarkable method of presenting evidence in a biased way is this:

Gigot: But if you talk to the Obama administration people, they say, Look, we spend 18%, almost one out of every five dollars of this whole economy, on health care. And they say, That's too much, because the costs are rising. We've got to get this under control.

McCaughey: Well, actually--

Gigot: Are you saying that's not the right direction for policy?

McCaughey: No. Americans spend more on health care than Europeans, for example, because they earn more. Ninety percent of the difference in spending is due to higher per capita incomes in the United States. And we spend more, but we also get more. For example, American women have mammograms more frequently. Their breast cancer is detected sooner and treated faster, and they have much better survival rates than in most parts of Europe.

This is fun! McCaughey got that ninety percent figure from Uwe Reinhardt's 2001 article, I think, but she doesn't explain it correctly. It's true that health care spending is correlated with income. After all, richer countries can afford to spend more. But this doesn't mean quite what McCaughey implies. Here's a more recent graph from Reinhardt:

What does it mean? This:

You'll notice that there is enormous variation in health spending per capita in different countries within the O.E.C.D. But the graph also indicates that there exists a very strong relationship between the G.D.P. per capita of these countries (roughly a measure of ability to pay) and per-capita health spending. The dark line in the graph is a so-called regression equation (whose precise mathematical form is shown in the upper left corner).

That line tells us something important about the relationship between a country's wealth and its health care spending.

Just knowing the G.D.P. per capita of nations helps us explain about 86 percent of the variation in how much different countries pay for health care for the average person. Canada, for example, on average spent only PPP$3,678 on health care per person in 2006, which is about 55 percent of the amount the United States paid per person. But Canada's G.D.P. per capita in 2006 was also smaller than the comparable United States figure, although not that much smaller (it was 84 percent of the American level).

The line helps us estimate that roughly $1,141 of the $3,036 difference between Canadian and American health spending per capita – or 38 percent — can be explained by the underlying difference in G.D.P. per capita alone.

An additional insight from the graph, however, is that even after adjustment for differences in G.D.P. per capita, the United States in 2006 spent $1,895 more on health care than would have been predicted after such an adjustment. If G.D.P. per capita were the only factor driving the difference between United States health spending and that of other nations, the United States would be expected to have spent an average of only $4,819 per capita on health care rather than the $6,714 it actually spent.

I love this stuff, I do. What about her second point that Americans get more from their health care system than Europeans do? Some do, of course, and medical research in this country is excellent. But over forty million people have no health coverage, and the U.S. doesn't do as well in all conditions as it does for breast cancer.* Then there's that little matter of lower life expectancies in the U.S. than in the comparison countries, though of course the reasons are complicated and not only about the health care systems.

You can read through the rest of the McCaughey interview and find lots of other similar points, including the blind assumption that all technology in health care is good and useful and saves lives, however it is used and even if it only helps with diagnosis but not with the consequent treatment. Then you can have red steam coming out of your eyes, too.
*I think some of the breast cancer success story has to do with the very active publicity campaigns and political work carried out by volunteers in that field in the U.S.. Note also that a recent study compared the U.S. with several other countries in terms of disease management for a wide range of diseases. This study (which I can't find to link to right now) found that the U.S. did well in some fields, especially in breast cancer, and not so well in some other fields.

Women under-represented in clinical trials (by Suzie)

This is a news release from the University of Michigan, and I'm posting it verbatim because I think it's really interesting.
Women are under-represented in clinical cancer research published in high-impact journals, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Taking into account the incidence of particular types of cancer among women, studies included a smaller proportion of women than should be expected. The analysis looked specifically at studies of cancer types that were not gender specific, including [sarcoma,] colon cancer, oral cancers, lung cancer, brain tumors and lymphomas.
The authors looked at 661 prospective clinical studies with more than 1 million total participants. Results of this study appear online in the journal Cancer and will be published in the July 15 print issue.
“In the vast majority of individual studies we analyzed, fewer women were enrolled than we would expect given the proportion of women diagnosed with the type of cancer being studied. We’re seeing it across the board in all cancer types,” says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., assistant professor of radiation oncology at the U-M Medical School.
“It’s so important that women are appropriately represented in research. We know there are biological differences between the sexes, as well as social and cultural differences. Studies need to be able to assess whether there are differences in responses to treatment, for example, between women and men,” she adds.
The National Institutes of Health’s Revitalization Act of 1993 explicitly calls out the importance of including women in clinical research, noting that clinical trials should enroll adequate numbers of women to allow for subgroup analysis.
The U-M researchers found that studies reporting government funding did include higher numbers of women participants, but the impact was modest – 41 percent, compared to 37 percent for studies not receiving government funding.
Traditionally, researchers were told not to include people of vulnerable populations in their studies. This group included women of childbearing age. “By protecting them from research, we’re excluding them,” Jagsi notes.
Previous studies have found some barriers to clinical trial participation are lack of information, fear and a perception of interfering with personal responsibilities, such as child care.
“Sometimes participating in research studies can be time intensive. Women today are often stretched very thin trying to deal with the balance between domestic responsibilities, their cancer diagnosis, and often a career as well. They may be particularly likely to find clinical trials too burdensome. In that case, researchers should consider providing compensation to help with transportation or child care expenses,” Jagsi says.
This under-representation of women is not necessarily the result of conscious decisions, points out senior author Peter Ubel, M.D., director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine at U-M.
“Clinical researchers are not purposely trying to exclude women from their studies. All the more reason they need to consciously and earnestly revise their recruitment methods to give more women a chance to volunteer,” Ubel says.
Methodology: The researchers looked at all original clinical cancer research published in five top oncology journals and three top general medical journals in 2006. The journals included were the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Lancet, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Lancet Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer. Articles were analyzed to determine factors including the number of participants, gender of participants, type of cancer and funding source.
The percent of women was summarized in two ways: The overall percent of women from all studies; and the average percent from each study that were women. The first method gives greater weight to larger studies, while the second method allows each study to have equal weight. Women’s representation was lower than expected, based on general population incidence data, according to both analyses.

Thank You

From the bottom of my cold reptile heart! I was able to pay for my conference hotel room and my meals with the funds you sweeties donated (Washington D.C. is expensive). Those three days are the seeds which I shall now water with my tears and then awesome trees will sprout, full of apples of wisdom! If you get my meaning.

More seriously, I have lots of new ideas about the media and the blogs and what's been wrong with this blog (partial answer: lack of sexual titillation which is what draws clicks on even political blogs). Mmm.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

And Something To Muse Over

That's a suitable pastime for women, is it not? Being the muse and musing. So amusing. Yes, I'm very tired right now, almost deliciously delirious (change but one letter and the world changes! heh).

This is what happens when I can't really write for a week, so sorry.

I happened to get hold of a book on early women aviators (Women Aloft). Great stuff, and I shall write more about its contents later. But right now I want to quote from one page in the book, page 13:

When Germany's first woman flier, Melli Beese, took the test for her license in 1911, male colleagues at the flying field tried unsuccessfully to sabotage her by tampering with the plane's steering mechanism and partially emptying the gas tank; for a woman to fly, said one of them, "would take the glory away from us."

That's a deep statement. It hits right into the heart of something that we still see: Having the girls share in some endeavor cheapens the endeavor for certain types of men. Why is that the case?

The only answer I can think of is that those men think women are inferior. If women, even just a few among all women, can do something, then that 'something' must be easy and not worth doing. That's how the glory is stripped from them.
Picture of Elinor Smith

Riddle Me This

President Obama made a surprising appointment last week:

President Barack Obama's appointment of Alexia Kelley, founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, as director of the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives took the pro-choice movement by surprise. On Thursday, the day that news of the appointment leaked out, Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center and a quintessential Washington insider, told me that she "hadn't heard anything about it till today, and we are trying to get to the bottom of it."

What Greenberger and others will want to know is why the post, which includes oversight of the department's faith-based grant-making in family planning, HIV and AIDS and in small-scale research into the effect of religion and spirituality on early sexual behavior, has gone to someone who both believes abortion should be illegal and opposes contraception. That's right -- Kelley's group of self-described progressive Catholics takes a position held by only a small minority, that the Catholic church is right to prohibit birth control. Were there no qualified religious experts who hold more mainstream views on family planning and abortion, views that are consistent with those of President Obama?

What was he thinking? That's the riddle. Is this part of his attempt to tame the fundamentalist anti-women folk and turn them liberals-in-all-but-reproductive-choice? And if so, is he throwing as girlies to the wolves? The wolves being the Pope's boyz. Or is this all part of some extremely advanced chess game which will leave us all so much better off, ultimately, but which we are unable to follow with our puny little brainz? Or are we to hold the hands of the contraception foes because they care about the poor?

I don't know the answer, but recommend reading the linked article, even if it means you have to sit through an ad.

Home, Sweet Home!

I'm back at the Snakepit Inc., and managed to push the cobwebs aside enough to slink through the doorway, though the suitcases are still in the car. Your regularly scheduled programming will continue when I get my bearings and sealegs.

It's odd that the word 'home' in Finnish means that green moldy gunk. Makes one ambivalent about using it to refer to the place where you can legally lock other people out. Though perhaps not.

Nut calls other nut "a fruit" (by Suzie)

This just in, regarding Scott Roeder, accused of killing Dr. George Tiller:
Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, ... e-mailed The Associated Press, saying: "This guy is a fruit and a lunatic."
Let me get this straight: Is Newman calling Roeder gay, or just using that as a demeaning epithet? I checked Google definitions to make sure I wasn't missing something, and I'm pretty sure that Newman wasn't insinuating that Roeder is a ripened ovary.