Saturday, January 01, 2005

From the Annals of the Weird

Another activist judge doing his thing:

A Spokane woman trying to divorce her estranged husband two years after he was jailed for beating her has been told by a judge she can't get out of the marriage while she's pregnant.
The case pits a first-year attorney who argues that state law allows any couple to divorce if neither spouse chal-lenges it against a longtime family law judge who asserts that the rights of the unborn child in this type of case trump a woman's right to divorce.
"There's a lot of case law that says it is important in this state that children not be illegitamized," Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine told The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
Further complicating things, Shawnna Hughes claims her husband is not the child's father.
The bottom line, says Hughes' attorney, Terri Sloyer, is that there's nothing in state law that says a mother can't get a divorce if she's pregnant.
"We don't live in 15th century England," Sloyer said. "I am absolutely dumbfounded by it."
Hughes' husband, Carlos, was convicted in 2002 of beating her. She separated from him after the attack and filed for divorce last April. She later became pregnant by another man and is due in March.
Her husband never contested the divorce, and Court Commissioner Pro Tem Julia Pelc approved it in late October.
However, the approved divorce papers didn't note that Hughes was pregnant. Sloyer filed amended papers to correct the omission, and the next day, she spoke with Bastine by phone. Bastine said he planned to rescind the divorce and then did so following a Nov. 4 hearing.
"It's not the child's fault that mom got pregnant," Bastine said. "The answer is, you don't go around doing that when you're not divorced."

This is such a shining example of the idiocy one arrives at when institutions are adulated while the individuals in them are totally scorned.
Via Democratic Underground.

Some Poetry on American Street

The American Street is a blog where I talk on Saturdays, like today. But the reason to go there today is not my writing, but the wonderful poetry that has just been posted there. It's a result of a poetry competition about Donald Rumsfeld's famous statement: "You go to war with what you have."

All the entries are published and they are very good (scroll down, there are seven posts of poems on the page). They show the enormous talent amongst the liberal-progressive blogosphere.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

This time is ruled by the two-faced god Janus, the god of portals. We are standing on the cusp; in the "now-and-here", and just by turning our heads we can look backwards and see history, or we can look forwards and see...what exactly? None of us can tell. All we can do is try our very best to make 2005 the year when the liberal and progressive ethics grew to blossom, when the mad race towards the European Middle Ages was stopped and when the environment was saved from the incessant needs of short-term greedy thinking. We can work for these goals and I for one will. That's my New Year's resolution. That and never bedding another Republican...

I wish you a happy new year. I wish you many wonderful moments in your life, good friends and satisfactory work, health and peace of mind. I wish you dancing in the streets and toasts with loved ones. I wish you wisdom and understanding and the realization of your heart's deepest desires. And of course I wish that you remain enslaved by this blog for at least another year!

Every Sperm is Sacred...

The title I got from David Ehrenstein on Eschaton. It's originally from Monty Python, and it is relevant for the topic of this post, which is this:

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued its first-ever medical guidelines for treating sexual-assault victims - without any mention of emergency contraception, the standard precaution against pregnancy after rape.
The omission of the so-called morning-after pill has frustrated and angered victims' advocates and medical professionals who have long worked to improve victims' care.
Gail Burns-Smith, one of several dozen experts who vetted the protocol during its three-year development by Justice's Office on Violence Against Women, said emergency contraception was included in an early draft, and she does not know of anyone who opposed it.

The likely reason for not mentioning emergency contraception, which consists of a larger-than-usual dose of the contraceptive pill, is the wingnut belief that the contraceptive pill can prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg to the lining of the uterus. As I mentioned in an earlier post on the contraceptive pill, there is no scientific evidence to support this belief, but the wingnuts don't care. Or rather, what they really are after is the banning of all contraception and this is the first step in that campaign.

I'm a Goddess in Her Wrath about this. Have you ever held a woman who has just been raped? Who has had someone urinate on her face afterwards? Who is covered with cuts and bruises? Who is so scared that she mewls when a male medic walks by?
Who will never again be the same woman she was just a few hours earlier? And now perhaps, just perhaps, she might not be told about a pill that can stop her hell from continuing, a pill that doesn't cause abortions. That's empathy for you, I guess. Or pro-life. Whatever.

Not that rape victims have always been informed about emergency contraception anyway:

One of the most inconsistent aspects of care is the morning-after pill. A 2002 analysis of national emergency-room data by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found that only 21 percent of sexual-assault victims received it. In a 1998 survey of urban Catholic hospitals, a University of Pennsylvania study found that 12 of 27 centers had rules against informing rape victims about the method.
The risk of pregnancy after rape is small — less than 5 percent — but the vulnerable group is large. Of 333,000 sexual assaults and rapes reported in 1998, about 25,000 resulted in pregnancies — of which 22,000 could have been prevented, a Princeton University population researcher estimated.

What we need is wider access to emergency contraception for rape victims, not guidelines which forget to mention it because of the wingnut pressure on this administration. Without the emergency contraception more abortions will be performed. Is this what the pro-life culture demands?
Original link via Atrios.

Today's Action Alert

Today's Action is courtesy of Phoenix Woman at Eschaton:

United Arab Emirates: Two women sentenced to flogging for becoming pregnant outside marriage .
Rad Zemah Sinyai Mohammed and Wasini bint Sarjan have been sentenced to flogging for becoming pregnant outside marriage by a Shari’a (Islamic law) court in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah. Amnesty International considers the punishment of flogging to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to torture.Click here to take action ( for taking today's action.


At the end of one year and the beginning of another is a good time to ask whether we will get raptured in 2005. According to at least one rapture-website, this is quite likely! I'm looking forward to the day of Rapture, because it will let me refurbish my wardrobe and my vehicle fleet without committing any crimes whatsoever.
For surely I will be left behind on earth, even if everybody else will be vacuumed up by the heavenly housecleaning.

But more seriously, the whole Rapture-phenomenom is scary. Why did something that was first discussed in the nineteenth century become a part of the established belief system of so many fundamentalist Christians? And when exactly did fundamentalist Christianity shrink into a subgroup of wingnuttery as a part of the Republican base? Republicans are not highly known as the ones who care for the poor and the oppressed, rather the reverse, and neither are they known for peace-loving policies. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke incessantly about the poor and the oppressed and about the need to build peace. He didn't say a single word about gays or abortions; yet that's what the fundamentalist Christians appear to think being a Christian entails: one must hate gays and babykillers. I don't understand it, but of course I've always had trouble with understanding some parts of humankind.

But suppose that Rapture in fact was going to happen in 2005. Would those who have been preparing for it for years be the ones who'd be snapped up? I doubt it. Humans are not supposed to manipulate God's commands in such a way. Those who have their bags already packed will be left behind, for sure, as will those who make up indices for measuring the likelihood of Rapture. Only the totally unprepared will be among the chosen, especially if they are right then working hard to help people suffering more than they are.

Even in this version of the Rapture I'll be left behind. I'm quite happy with that as I prefer this planet to the other alternatives, and goddesses don't go to Heaven anyway. At least not in the patriarchal religions.

A Generous People, A Stingy Administration

That's how it looks to me right now. The American people are doing the right thing in giving money to the relief of the disasters caused by the tsunamis. The U.S. Red Cross alone received 25 million dollars in pledges during the first three days, and other organizations are also receiving many donations. But the U.S. administration does look stingy:

Powell, reacting to the critique by some Democratic lawmakers and humanitarian officials, insisted the $35 million pledged by the United States in emergency aid was "just a beginning" and that more would be offered once the full scope of the damage was assessed.
President Bush's offers to help coordinate relief efforts and to dispatch U.S. warships to the region have not satisfied critics, who believe the administration missed a chance to improve America's image abroad with a quick and robust response to the crisis.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., led the criticism of the White House by noting that the $35 million in emergency aid was equivalent to what the United States spends in seven hours on military operations in Iraq.
"I thought we gave the wrong impression to the rest of the world when it came out for the first couple days that we were willing to spend $35 million to help the people who had been devastated by the tsunami," Leahy told CNN Thursday. "That is about half what the country of Spain is spending."

It doesn't help things to tell that the $35 million doesn't cover everything, such as planes or warships coming to help with the relief efforts. The same would be true of other countries' contributions. No, the U.S. government does look stingy, though the American people do not.

Just compare the American official figures to what other countries are pledging:

Foreign critics have pointed out that the U.S. aid pledge is less than those of several European nations. Britain has pledged $95 million in aid, Sweden has committed $75.5 million, Spain is offering $68 million, and France plans to spend $57 million.
Other nations pledging aid include Japan ($40 million), the Netherlands ($36 million), Canada ($32.8 million), Germany ($27 million), Australia ($27 million), Portugal ($11 million), Saudi Arabia ($10 million) and Qatar ($10 million).
French newspaper Le Figaro commented in an editorial that the United States' initial pledge of $15 million in aid was "completely ridiculous given the magnitude of the catastrophe," adding that the sum was equivalent to half the price of a new F-16 fighter jet or "half the daily sales of dog and cat food in the United States."

We shouldn't even be talking about this. We should be talking about how to give much more than anyone else is giving, simply because we have much more.

Fred Phelps on the Tsunami Victims

Via Eschaton and Raw Story:

And here are the pages after pages of photographs of the Swedish missing in the tsunamis. Note the large number of small children and babies, of whole families missing and of extended families missing. Pray that they will be found safe. If not that, perhaps we should pray that they all went together? Or should we ask Mr. Phelps what to pray for?

Happy New Year's Eve!

My apologies for no posts yesterday. I did an experiment: can goddesses sleep twenty-four hours in one go? The answer seems to be affirmative. So now I've lost one day completely and have no idea what is happening in the world. A very nice feeling.

Hibernation has many good attributes, and getting into the habit might be excellent. According to Tove Jahnson's Moomintroll books for children, all you need for a good hibernation is a tummy full of spruce needles! That's a business idea for all you lefties out there: start selling Hibernation Needles for all the Democrats who want to sleep through the next four years! Or even better: smuggle them into the foods served on that famous ranch in Texas.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


According to the Washington Post:

An international agency that monitors nuclear explosions around the world almost certainly picked up immediate signs of the underwater earthquake and tsunami in South East Asia on instruments it operates around the Indian Ocean, but it had no chance to alert governments in the region because its offices were closed for the holidays, according to a spokeswoman.
The information from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's network may yield insights into the catastrophe but would not have been critical in saving lives, because there is no functioning system capable of channeling early warnings to regions struck by the tsunami, said earthquake and tsunami experts. Still, the agency's failure to react during one of the most catastrophic seismic events in decades has proved embarrassing, officials said.
Daniela Rozgonova, spokeswoman for the Vienna-based agency, said raw data from its seismic and hydroacoustic monitoring stations in the region will be reviewed by analysts when they return from vacation on Tuesday.
She insisted that a team of about 100 analysts at the agency's International Data Center in Vienna would not have been able to get a warning to tsunami victims even if they had been at work. "The whole system has not been set up to warn for natural disasters," she said. "It's not set up for it."

The system is set up to monitor illegal nuclear tests. I guess these are guaranteed not to take place around Christmas time. This is not the only monitoring system that probably spotted the earthquake in time for at least some warnings, but none of these monitoring systems appear to have the practical purpose of providing warnings of impending earthquakes, at least internationally.

Which is heartbreaking, as well as really stupid of us humans. Surely there are easier ways to learn about international cooperation and efficient warning systems than what the earth has just given us? Or perhaps not, as we didn't listen before. Well, I hope we listen now.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

A New Threat for Murika: Education

Theresa Whitehurst has written a fascinating article on the views that wingnuts hold on higher education. She begins with this:

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to a conversation I overheard at a Starbucks in Nashville last winter. It was a cold and rainy night as I worked away at my laptop, but the comforting aroma of cappuccino kept me going. My comfort was interrupted, however, by two young men who sat down in upholstered chairs near my table. One was talking, the other listening, in what appeared to be an informal college orientation.
"The only trouble with David Lipscomb (a conservative Christian college nearby) is that old man Lipscomb apparently didn't like football. So we don't have a football team, but we have a great faculty."
"But you do have to be careful about one thing," he said more quietly, coming closer and speaking in hushed tones, "My professor-I have this great professor-told me that you have to be careful not to get too much education, because you could lose your foundation, your core values."
The neophyte nodded solemnly, his eyebrows raised with worry.
"If you get a bachelors," the seasoned student reassured, "you'll probably be okay. But my professor said that when you get a master's, and definitely if you go beyond that, you can lose your values. He said that college students have to be watchful because if you get too much education, you could turn LIBERAL. He's seen it happen to a lot of good Christians."
As the young man in Starbucks said just before he and the incoming freshman got up to leave,
"Even at Lipscomb, you have to be careful what you pay attention to. My professor said that a few faculty members might lead you astray without meaning to, by bringing in ideas that aren't biblical. He said that if you're ever taught anything that sounds questionable, you should talk about it with your minister to see if it's right."

Then Whitehurst goes on to discuss why being afraid of the liberal label would be very bad for the American higher education:

This movement pretends to be about "balancing" liberal with conservative views, but the reality is a lot uglier than that. As the conversation I overheard suggests, this movement isn't about balance, it's about censorship-or even better, self-censorship that's easily achieved by frightening students with social rejection, hellfire or both. Either way, scholarship is degraded in the process. According to the article, "many educators, while agreeing that students should never feel bullied, worry that they just want to avoid exposure to ideas that challenge their core beliefs - an essential part of education. Some also fear that teachers will shy away from sensitive topics or fend off criticism by "balancing" their syllabuses with opposing viewpoints, even if they represent inferior scholarship."

Does this ring a bell for you? It reminds me of what I see happening in much of the so-called liberal media: "Opinions on whether the earth is flat vary." "Some believe that the Holocaust never happened." It also reminds me of the wingnuts' demands to have more wingnut voices in the media, and the consequence is that we now have very little that isn't a wingnut voice. So this is what might happen in the academia, too. Or perhaps has already happened?

The initial arguments are the same in both cases: that there is bias against the conservative views, even in cases where the "bias" is in the facts and that there is a need for pro-wingnut affirmative action to provide "balance". The results might be the same, too: a deterioration of the contents of both education and the media.

I believe that education on the highest levels is bound to make students feel uncomfortable, whatever their political views might be. That's what happens when your mind is stretched as much as it can be, and it's a very good thing to happen.
It would be dangerous to attribute this discomfort to the professor's political views; it's part of the necessary learning process. If wingnuts don't want their minds stretched or fear for the frailty of their faith, they shouldn't go to university. This is a much better solution than their plan to make all universities into some sort of madrassas.

By the way, I also don't believe the conservative soundbite that universities are teeming with biased lefty professors. There are quite a few biased righty professors there, too, and the vast majority of all professors teach opposing views of their subject matter. Then they take these views and evaluate them by using both logic and external evidence. This is the part the wingnuts wish to eradicate, methinks, because knowledge is a powerful weapon.

Today's Action Alert

Today's action is simple. Call or write your senators and tell them not to confirm Gonzales for Attorney General. America doesn't need an Attorney General who looks for ways to justify torture and who believes that the president is above the law.

Thanks for taking today's action.

On the Disaster

This Guardian article presents a good overview of what is known today.

I have nothing to say about the disaster that can be said. Some things are just too big to fit into the mouth or on the page. The only way they can be fitted at all is through compassion and assistance:

Action Against Hunger 247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201 New York, NY 10018 212-967-7800

American Jewish World Service 45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor New York, NY 10018 800-889-7146

ADRA International 9-11 Fund 12501 Old Columbus Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 800-424-2372

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC Crisis Fund) 1501 Cherry Street Philadelphia, PA 215-241-7000

Catholic Relief Services PO Box 17090 Baltimore, MD 21203-7090 800-736-3467

Direct Relief International 27 South La Patera Lane Santa Barbara, CA 93117 805-964-4767

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres PO Box 2247 New York, NY 10116-2247 888-392-0392

International Medical Corps 1919 Santa Monica Boulevard Suite 300 Santa Monica CA 90404 800-481-4462

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies PO Box 372 CH-1211 Geneva 19 Switzerland 41-22-730-4222

International Orthodox Christian Charities Middle East Crisis Response PO Box 630225 Baltimore, MD 21263-0225 877-803-4622

Lutheran World Relief PO Box 17061 Baltimore MD 21298-9832 800-597-5972

MAP International 2200 Glynco Parkway PO Box 215000 Brunswick, GA 3121-5000 800-225-8550

Mercy Corps PO Box 2669 Portland, OR 97208 800-852-2100

Northwest Medical Teams PO Box 10 Portland, OR 97207-0010 503-624-1000

Operation USA 8320 Melrose Avenue, Ste. 200 Los Angles, CA 90069 800-678-7255

Oxfam America

Relief International 11965 Venice Blvd.¥405 Los Angeles, CA 90066 800-572-3332

Save the Children Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund 54 Wilton Road Westport, CT 06880 800-728-3843

US Fund for UNICEF 333 East 38th Street New York, NY 10016 800-FOR-KIDS http://www.unicefusa.or

World Concern 19303 Fremont Ave. N Seattle, WA 98133 800-755-5022

World Relief 7 E. Baltimore St. Baltimore, MD 21202 443-451-1900

World Vision PO Box 70288 Tacoma, Washington 98481-0288 888-56-CHILD
Links via Democratic Underground

Well, Finally!

This morning, three days after the earthquake, president George Bush has made a public statement:

- President Bush said Wednesday the United States, India, Australia and Japan have formed an international coalition to coordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts for the Asian region ravaged by a deadly earthquake and tsunamis.
"We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities," Bush said from his Texas ranch in his first comments on the disaster Sunday that so far has killed more than 67,000.
Bush pledged a multifaceted response from the United States that goes far beyond the $35 million initially pledged, including U.S. military manpower and damage surveillance teams in the short term and long-term rebuilding assistance. He also called on Americans to donate cash to relief organizations to augment the response.
"This has been a terrible disaster. It is beyond our comprehension," the president said.

Except that he shouldn't have stayed at the ranch. Where are his minders?

A Busy Bee...

Our president, that is. He's busy monitoring the earthquake damage from his Texas ranch:

Besides monitoring the devastating earthquake in Southeast Asia, President Bush is biking and strolling around his ranch here and pondering tax reform and other goals in his second term.
"He's clearing some brush this morning," deputy White House press secretary Trent Duffy said Tuesday, adding that the president and first lady also planned to host friends at the ranch.
"He's doing some biking and exercising as he normally does, taking walks with the first lady, and thinking about what he wants to accomplish in the second term."

There is something wrong with George Bush's social intelligence. Doesn't he realize that we are right now living through the effects of the most destructive tsunamis ever recorded? Those that still are living, of course. Even if he couldn't care less, it would be seemly for him to turn up and give a speech in the name of compassionate conservatism. Or are we being given a practical lesson on compassionate conservatism right now?

They Just Don't Get It #2

This was supposed to be a weekly series, but I forgot. The idea is to pick comments from my wonderings* around the net which show those very subtle (stroke, stroke, stroke, like a gnat in your face) ways that being a woman can still be equivalent to being excluded or stereotyped or belittled. I'm looking for all the subtle points here, not for the obviously unfair treatments or comments. And in the future I'll tell you about some of my own comments, too, so that it doesn't look like I'm blaming other people only.

Here's this week's harvest:

Ask yourself: What kind of time would you like to live in?

Would you like to live in a time with no great question, no great struggle, no great contest? I do not believe in Utopia, in a world of peace, because men are men and testosterone is addictive, and because power must always be held by someone and will therefore corrupt absolutely. But there have been times when people have only had to worry about their immediate surroundings, about their lawn or their crop or whether the King will conscript them to go fight the enemy across the sea. There is a peace in this, a peace in being absolutely powerless. Would you like to live in that time?

(Bolds mine.)

Written by an admirable writer in an admirable context, so it might seem petty to single this out. But the point of this series is to be petty, because it is the petty things, when repeated often enough, that mold us. Also, I'm not quite sure what he means by the bolded sentence, but whatever it is, it either leaves women out altogether or assumes that power will always be held by men alone. Or perhaps it assumes that only men are capable of evil?
*I decided to keep this typo in. It was a better choice than "wanderings".

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag, RIP

She died today of leukemia at the age of seventy-one. A whirlwind of a woman.
Justbetweenstrangers has a good homily, and here's one official obituary .

I found Sontag's writings challenging, both in the way they were intended to challenge, but also in some other way, having to do with different personalities, perhaps. I still have America only half-read, though I liked the Volcano Lover. Her biography fascinated me, but many of her famous short essays left me cold. Maybe it's because she was made into one of those icons which by definition must be very few and very different, and then people like Camille Paglia tried to trudge in her footsteps. I dislike the icon-building, especially with women, as the world is already a tough place for an uppity woman, and it doesn't help to be told, both implicitly and explicitly, that you must be unique to make it; only be unique just like Sontag, for example.

But none of this was Sontag's fault, of course, and it's small-minded of me to even mention that here. Sontag was not small-minded, and the world will be an emptier place without her.

Lap Pillows

The Japanese have introduced a new pillow, intended for bachelors. This is how it looks:

And this is how it is described:

One popular item for holiday shoppers is the "lap pillow," with skin-coloured polyurethene calves folded under soft thighs -- a comfy cushion for napping, reading or watching television.
The 9,429 yen ($90) pillow, which comes with one red and one black skirt, went on sale in late November and maker Trane Co Ltd says shipments have reached 3,000 in just a few weeks.
"We created this item to help tired people relax," said Makoto Igarashi, Trane's managing director.
Care was taken with details such as the softness of the thighs, panty lines on the pillow's "backside" and wrinkles in the lap of the skirt so as to make the pillow look and feel as real as possible.

The female lap pillow was preceded by a similar pillow, intended for women. It consists of a man's shoulders and one arm, the intention being that the sleeper leans on the shoulder and then wraps the arm around her own shoulder.

These pillows are supposed to work as substitutes for a real woman or man. They are explicitly intended for singles who have no-one living to use as a pillow.

I'm not sure what to think about this all. On the one hand such pillows are just jokes, and they are pretty well made, too. On the other hand, they remind me of the various sexual tools available and somehow extending this tool idea to the alleviation of loneliness seems to cross a barrier for me. Loneliness will not be less if you lie on a pillow that resembles cut off bits of humans, and to suggest that it does is quite criminal. Then there is the feminist angle: the male pillow appears to offer protection and comfort, the female one submission and comfort. But this is probably a purely subjective reading. An even more subjective reaction is my disgust at even thinking about mutilated parts of women as a source of comfort for men. Or the other way around, of course, but the evidence on crimes being what it is, especially the first way around.

Still, the Japanese are not alone in this desire to make toys out of all sorts of human body parts. A new fad in the United States is the hanging of artificial testicles on your truck. I have been told that this is a guy thing! Rush Limbaugh might have predicted that it's the feminazis who hang testicles at the back of their sticker-covered cars, but no, it's the he-men of the truck-driving kind who do this. Maybe the testicles are supposed to belong to the man who lost the last fight with the driver?

In any case, this is how it would look should you wish to follow the same fad.

Thanks to Wyzardess for the lap pillow link, to the Original Amazon for the Bumpernuts link and to Jason for the shoulder pillow link.

Diego Garcia

Diego Garcia is an American military base on an island, right in the path of the tsunamis. It's located near the Maldives which suffered major damage. Luckily, Diego Garcia escaped the destruction totally:

A Navy support facility located near the center of the Indian Ocean was spared any damage from Sunday's devastating ocean surges.
Officials said the Diego Garcia Navy Support Facility, which houses about 1,700 military personnel and 1,500 civilian contractors, suffered no damage related to Sunday's earthquake and ensuing tsunamis.
Personnel at the facility's billeting office contacted by Stars and Stripes on Monday reported no unusual activity or problems over the weekend.
Diego Garcia, the southernmost island in the Chagos Archipelago, sits about 1,000 miles south of India and roughly 2,000 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.
But officials in Somalia, whose coast is nearly 3,000 from the earthquake's center, reported more than 100 deaths in coastal areas as a result of tidal waves.

As the highest point of Diego Garcia is only 22 ft above sealevel, the island was indeed incredibly lucky not to even notice the tsunamis.
Thanks to Deana Holmes for the link.

The Blackwellian World

Isn't that clever of me? It's a take on the Orwellian world in which we also live right now. Kenneth Blackwell is the Ohio Secretary of State and also an eager supporter of George Bush for president. This created something that to others might look a little like a conflict of interest, given that Blackwell was in charge of the elections in Ohio. Never mind. Mr. Blackwell is above the law, too:

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has requested a protective order to prevent him from being interviewed as part of an unusual court challenge of the presidential vote.
Blackwell, in a court filing, says he's not required to be interviewed by lawyers as a high-ranking public official, and accused the voters challenging the results of ``frivolous conduct'' and abusive and unnecessary requests of elections officials around the state.
Citing fraud, 37 people who voted for president Nov. 2 have challenged the election results with the Ohio Supreme Court. The voters refer to irregularities including long lines, a shortage of voting machines in minority precincts and problems with computer equipment.

Or so he hopes. Time will tell if we have gone that far into the Blackwellian world (a little repetition never hurt in creating a new frame!).

Also in Ohio, the Kerry/Edwards campaign has filed "two motions to preserve and augment evidence of alleged election fraud in Ohio". Is this important? It seems that some believe Kerry is close to unconceding the elections, whereas others argue that this means nothing at all. So take your pick. I'm sceptical about anything coming out of this, because it doesn't go with the Blackwellian world view (am I getting on your nerves yet?). Who cares if the elections were fair? What's on television?
Links via Kos.

The Gay Marriage Ban Will Take Time...

So tells us the Republican Senator John Cornyn:

Opponents of gay marriage concede victory will not be swift in their attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution, even after prevailing in all 11 states where the issue was on the ballot last month.
While the Nov. 2 election also increased the ranks of amendment supporters in both houses of Congress, the gains were relatively small.
"We're going to have to see additional court cases come down" supporting gay marriage before congressional sentiment shifts dramatically, predicted Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who supports the amendment that failed in both houses of Congress this year.

But of course it will take time! So will the abortion ban. The Republicans have no intention of actually getting these bans passed swiftly and decisively, noooh.
Because then they'd have to invent something even crazier to keep their base happy, and they are not quite ready to go there yet ("there" being the banning of all contraception, probably). Without this, the successful banning of same-sex marriage and all abortions would kill the wingnut movement in the Republican Party, and the Republicans would lose seats all over the country.

In some ways the right liberal approach to all the mad wingnuts would be to let them have what they want. That way the crash would come sooner and we could start cleaning up sooner. But it would cost real lives and that is unacceptable. So we dance this awkward jig over and over again.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Animal Thoughts of the Day

I just read somewhere on the net this comment: "What cats think about when they look at you is this:'If I only was a little bit bigger I could eat that human'."

Now I know why I have no cats. But I also realized what Henrietta is thinking when she looks at me with those claret colored almond eyes:"If I only was a little bit taller I could hump her into submission."

I'm going to buy shoes with stiletto heels.

More on the tsunamis

Death and suffering. You can help by sending donations to the International Red Cross. And by urging for an international tsunami warning system. The Indian Ocean wasn't covered by one.

Most recent efforts to help:

Aid agencies and governments around the world began pouring relief supplies into the region Monday. Japan, China, Russia and Israel were among the countries sending teams of experts.
Jasmine Whitbread, international director of the aid group Oxfam, warned that without swift action, more people could die.
"The flood waters will have contaminated drinking water and food will be scarce," she said.
Yvette Stevens, an emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations, said the widespread nature of the damage made it challenging for relief agencies to respond.
"This is unprecedented," she said. "We have not had this before."
The United Nations said it was concentrating its aid on the countries least likely to be able to help themselves, such as Sri Lanka and Maldives.
In Thailand, Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra, the army chief, said the United States has offered to send troops stationed on Japan's Okinawa island. Thailand was considering the offer.

Meanwhile, in Bulgaria

Domestic abuse appears to be a problem that still has no name:

--When doctors began compiling paperwork to release Maia from a Sofia hospital after a week's stay this past May, the battered woman panicked over the knowledge that she had no money, nowhere to go and no idea how she would get her four children back from her abusive husband.
A concerned nurse told Maia of a women's shelter run by local aid organization Animus Association that, in Bulgaria's largely patriarchal society, might be her best shot at securing a better future.
"He was killing me," said the 37-year old, who refused to give her last name out of fear for possible retribution from her husband or his family. "Always searching for harder and harder things to hit me with. I had to try and get away. But honestly, I simply didn't know how."
For almost 50 years, as Bulgaria lived under the omnipresent shadow of the Soviet Union, divorce and battery of spouses were statistically absolute non-entities with reported cases of both well below 5 percent consistently. Now, with the fall of the Soviet Union and Bulgaria's independence in 1991, Bulgaria has begun to acknowledge and address the issue of domestic violence.

The Bulgarians I have met have indicated that the problems of misogyny run deep in their culture. Things are now changing, but the country has a long way to go:

While some police officers are sympathetic to women's plights, activists lament the lack of legal redress. Even the most determined law enforcement official can do no more than to hold an accused abuser for 24 hours and make the accused promise to change the abusive behavior. Should a woman wish to bring charges against her husband, there are simply no legal provisions for her to base a case on.

It's supposed to be handled quietly, within the family. No airing of dirty laundry in public. The same pattern as in other countries, isn't it? Luckily, the next stage usually is the very airing of the dirty linen, and then change comes into the laws as well. I wish the Bulgarians goddess speed with this.

Today's Action Alert

(These alerts are a shared venture organized by several blogs. The idea is to create a counterweight to the wingnut campaigns in the media. When you see something that you can do, act! Thanks.)

Today's action: Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Explain that, especially during a time of war, it is shockingly inappropriate for Bush to spend $44 million on inaugural festivities. That money would be much better spent on armor for our troops and/or relief for the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. Instead of elaborate parties, Bush should simply take the oath of office and go to work on fixing our country's problems. Pictures of wealthy donors climbing out of limos in tuxedos and cowboy boots are inappropriate when our troops are dying and suffering terrible injuries from lack of armor and when the U.S. is unable to give necessary aid to victims of the earthquake/tsunami due to Bush's deficit.
Bush will go ahead with his inaugural plans no matter what, but turning them into a negative for him rather than a plus shouldn't be too difficult if the blogsphere works together.
Thanks for taking today's action.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

How I Wish This is a Joke

But it isn't. Though it could be; the whole website it's on sounds like something from the far side of sanity to me. Anyway, this is what Ann Coulter's blog says:

To The People Of Islam:
Just think: If we'd invaded your countries, killed your leaders and converted you to Christianity YOU'D ALL BE OPENING CHRISTMAS PRESENTS RIGHT ABOUT NOW!
Merry Christmas

I need to become much crazier than I am. Or pretend craziness better. Then I will be famous and celebrated.

On the Slippery Slope

And here we go again:

A man who was arrested for assaulting his pregnant girlfriend was being held on a murder charge Sunday following the death of the fetus the woman was carrying, police said.
The 25-year-old woman was 18 weeks pregnant when the male fetus was delivered dead Saturday, said San Jose Police Sgt. Steve Dixon. She was hospitalized early Saturday after she told police that her boyfriend, Clifford Beane Watkins, allegedly choked her and kicked her in the stomach at a local motel, he said.

The next stop on this slope is pretty obvious to everybody. I have many thoughts about the philosophy behind this backdoor attempt to define human beings as beginning at conception, but I'm not ready to write about them yet. Except that the conception is a totally artificial point in the process we call life, and the only reason it's picked is so that everything that will be fought over happens in a woman's body. (The birth is also an artificial point, but it has the benefit of defining life by independence from other bodies.) Women's bodies are not in general accorded much value by the pro-life movement; well, perhaps some as a basket for carrying the human life that matters. Or so it seems to me.


According to Salon, this is what Planned Parenthood does to get more donations:

Several Planned Parenthood locations across the country have hit upon a clever way to profit from the throngs of protesters who picket abortion clinics -- a fundraising drive in which the clinic receives a donation for each picketer who shows up. Under the Pledge-a-Picket program, as described in in the Planned Parenthood newsletter, supporters pledge small amounts -- a quarter to a dollar -- per anti-choice protester. "It's like sponsoring a runner in a charity marathon," the newsletter says. Despite the small pledges, the money adds up for the clinics because "the picketers never go away."

The Waco, Texas clinic of Planned Parenthood has collected $18,000 this way. The money has been used to help low-income women.

This is similar to what I do on an almost daily basis. Whenever I read or hear or see something that makes me angry, the opposite camp gets a ten dollar donation from me. Then I feel all calm and happy again. Or if I don't, I come here and rave about the cause some more. That usually does the trick.

And Even More Bad Poetry

Warning! This is quite angry and biased and don't read it if you are a nice man who never does horrible things. And my apologies, but when I wrote this someone had just shitted on my divine tresses.

A token woman is erected to be demolished.
She must be like an apple, smooth and polished,
but with an inner blemish, a lack
of masculinity that will hold her back.

She must be chosen so that she seems favored
over other women, to be savored
in all-male company as something rather neat;
like a dog that dances on its hind feet.

She must be made to understand that she
is not a member of the brotherhood.
She might be suffered but not made free
to belong. She must be always good

And quiet. And keep to her appointed place.
This makes it clear to all the rest
that the men showed willingness and grace
to admit her. But alas,
they found her second-best.

Some Bad Poetry for Today

There's always a need for bad poetry. Here's some for today. It should make you happy, because you can do better!

These days are sweet,
sugar govers the ground
between Christmas and New Year.

I have found
my childhood again. I'd like you to meet
her. She is brown
like toffee.

Her dress is red
and her shoes are black leather.
She looks ill-fed.
Her hair tastes like heather and peat.

She still sucks the corners of the sheet
at night
and counts the times the lights
of passing cars meet
the bedroom wall.

Her fingers are small
her nails are bitten.
She finds living hard
but has not yet written
of her anguish to God.

I must be good to her, and giving
this holiday season.
I have a reason
for forgiving

Terrible, heh! But the intention was good.


Link: Reuters

Over ten thousand dead after a tsunami caused by an earthquake.
I will post any ways of helping when I find them.
Here's one way to help: Either at the IFRC or at The Red Cross. Oxfam also takes donations.
As a total aside, about three weeks ago I got an e-mail warning me about the largest tsunami ever to hit my coastal region. As there are no tsunamis where I'm located, I erased it, assuming that it was part of the spam everybody gets. But now I wonder. Did anyone else receive such an e-mail?

On Boxing Day

If you're lucky, it's Boxing Day or St. Stephen's Day. If you're not lucky it's just an ordinary Sunday, though this year you could sleep in anyway. All holidays should be several days long, because those who cooked and cleaned and wrapped like mad also need a rest.

So what did you get as a present? Anything good? I got another Swiss knife, I have a large collection of them in case I ever get stuck on a deserted island with nothing but lots of canned goods for company. I also got chocolate but that is just a memory by now.

This is a rehearsal post, to get me into the groove again. I have reread all my Moomintroll books so the first real posts will probably be on the great truths that are found in children's books. Then some wingnut bashing, and for dessert something about feminism. Sounds like a menu, doesn't it? But I might stretch it over a few days unless something in the news gets my dander up. That happens a lot these days.

It's snowing outside. So beautiful, and I need to go and make some snow Echidnes first!