when the status quo frustrates.

Figure Out What This Guy’s Standard for Real Masculinity in Movie Actors Actually Is and I’ll Give You $5

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

I’ve read the article twice now and it appears to be a mishmash of confusion and bitter longing for he knows not what, except that it has something to do with erect penises. Help me out here..!

The sorry state of masculinity in American movies

Don’t feel like you gotta be subtle, man, just tell us how you really feel.

The appearance of Jason Segel’s genitalia in the romcom Forgetting Sarah Marshall had American critics crowing about how the film has courageously broken one of the last taboos in mainstream cinema. Yet Segel’s flaccid member looks pathetic and laughable, especially because it’s attached to a body that is doughy and pallid. It can’t seriously be accused of being capable of anything, let alone of breaking a taboo. So obviously devoid of sexual intent, it symbolises not so much his character’s abject emotional condition at his girlfriend’s rejection of him, but the sorry state of masculinity in American movies today.

Goodness. What little we women know about what it is to be a man. So, do you guys have to shoot by the bathroom mirror in a flat-out sprint on your way to the shower every morning so you don’t catch a glimpse of your pitiful limp wanker? Is every time you hit the urinal like a knife through the heart, having to touch that sluggish tube of flesh? Do you ever scream YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUSLY ACCUSED OF BEING CAPABLE OF AAAAANYTHING!! at it in a paroxysm of shame and bitter mockery? Do you ever give it a few points for at least being the conduit of pee from your body?

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Welcome to the center of the universe, population: You.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I saw this in the aisle at Sunflower market, an organic grocery store that operates around this here parts (this, at an organic grocery store? shock!).

“Guess what’s at the center of the universe? It’s you! Also, let’s talk about Deepak Chopra and those wacky atheists, eh?”

I have, on occasion, the urge to bonk people with frying pans (lightly).

I didn’t have a lot of time to read the article, but what I got from it… well, it didn’t exactly support the cover picture. They had one scientist talking about her work on dark matter, and how she’s developing “wacky ideas,” like the notion that elementary particles might be multi-dimensional manifolds in spatial dimensions too small to perturb the ordinary world. Whatever you think of string theorists, they hardly suggest that consciousness (and, specifically, human consciousness) has a privileged place in the realm of physical laws.

The reason that I want to bop people making these arguments with a frying pan isn’t that I think that their fundamental beliefs are stupid—I actually buy a lot of these same beliefs. It’s that I think that appealing to psuedo-science is fundamentally flawed. It’s that I don’t think you need to twist quantum mechanics to support your spiritual beliefs. Because when you do that, you aren’t making arguments about anything quantum mechanics, or string theory, or any physical theory actually says, you’re trying to support your unrelated beliefs with that authority.

If you want to argue that belief is fundamental and important, make that argument. If you want to argue knowing-the-world is the most potent force of change or self-actualization, make that argument. But don’t say, “Well, this is true because quantum mechanics sez so!” Because then you’re just making a mockery of yourself, and anyone who might otherwise be inclined to agree with you.

Poker Tales, v1.0

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I played in two cash games this past weekend, one on Friday night and one on Saturday night. At the game Friday night, not only did I lose the entirety of my original buy-in, I bought in AGAIN, lost all that and then bought in a THIRD TIME (I managed to break even on that buy-in). My humiliation the next day knew no bounds, even though I was patted and hugged repeatedly by my fellow player and reassured that yes, I am still lovable even when I sucked the hairy butt cheese at poker.

Never say I can’t learn from my mistakes, though! Saturday night, not only did I not buy in after my original chip purchase that night, by the time we left the game, I had tripled up. Self-esteem was RESTORED!

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win ben stein’s dignity.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

how does he sleep at night?

Blind Prejudice

Monday, April 28th, 2008

blindfold

The funny thing is, I’m not white.

But I am white.

I’m white because I was raised by whites. My parents split up when I was three; as a child I visited my father, the source of my unwhiteness, twice a year for a week at a time at the most, til I was thirteen, and save for one very unpleasant weekend jaunt at age sixteen, I have not seen him since. But even if I had spent a significant amount of time with him, his father, the source of his nonwhiteness, left his family when he was just a kid–he was raised by his white mother and her white family. So he too, despite his biracial heritage, was pretty white. In short, in the home, I was automatically treated as white by everyone I lived with.

I’m white because I look like my mother. I don’t just sort of resemble my mother; I look so much like the mother I remember from my middle childhood years it’s creepy. There are a few differences–translated into me, her golden hair shifted to a ashier, cooler blonde; her skin so fair it was nearly colorless acquired an olive tinge. Her long delicate facial features shortened a little and became more prominent, stronger, higher in the cheekbones, nose, jawline. But these shifts from the northern European are subtle. I was a light-haired fair-skinned baby, girl, woman. In short, outside the home, I was automatically treated as white by everyone I met.

I’m white because I’m not black. I knew my father’s racial heritage, but I didn’t grow up anywhere near a reservation. I suspect it’s different if you do, but I know from experience in places you don’t, the folks thereabouts think that Native Americans are downright romantical. Noble savages! Ever read any mainstream historical romances set in the old West? Half the studly heroes were either raised by Injuns or are half-Injun themselves. Ever see one where the hero was raised by slaves or was half-African..? It occasionally came up during my childhood and adolescence that racial descent was hauled out and displayed for the herd. The response to mine was always Oh, how cool…I wish I was part..! In the town I grew up in we had very few citizens of African descent, but there was a girl in my elementary school who had a black father and a white mother. I never once heard anyone say to her Oh how cool I wish I was..!

Least important is that I’m white because three out of four of my biological grandparents were white. Seriously, that doesn’t even really compute. Barack Obama, for instance, is black. He’s not more black than white based upon the racial strains of his grandparents, is he? No. I have to say that the actual percentage composition matters not at all. It’s who raises you, what they think they are, what they tell you you are, and what society perceives you to be based upon incredibly arbitrary facial and coloring templates and stereotypes about cultures not its own.

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Love is the only true radicalizing force.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

The question is: how to love?

You don’t know a thing unless you are perceiving it. This isn’t an epistemological statement—you are not meant to take this and run round-and-round in the solipsist death spiral. “My perceptions are necessarily imperfect,” you are not supposed to say, “ergo I cannot know anything.”

This is a statement about all those things that you actually do know, and act on, and use to make your self. It is a fact about those things.

When someone asks, “do you love me?” and you do, you don’t say, “I believe so.” Love isn’t a thing you believe, so it’s never a thing whose existence you can assert or prove. Love is a verb. It is a thing we do. It is a thing we have to build every day, with our words and with our tongues. It is not an easy thing, and it is fragile. This fragility is not the opposite of strength; like all fragile things, love is unbelievably strong.

I have hurt everyone I loved, some way, some how. And I have been hurt by them. These are the best relationships, the absolute strongest ones I hold. The love there is palpable, perceived, known.

You will hurt people; you will be hurt. I have hurt people; I have been hurt; I have hurt myself. These are words to hold onto, because without exception they are true.

~

Pause for a moment. Enter this place: You’re sitting in a stranger’s living room. You don’t know anyone else there, and they’re talking, and you can’t understand their words. You were not invited here—perhaps you are a ghost. The question is: what do you do?

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Writing on the skin, and below.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I have some experience with rejecting self-taken identity. I have some experience with leaving communities. I have some experience with realizing that a thing you thought was good—and maybe it once was—is no longer a thing you can be part of.

I get this. In a really fundamental way. It is catastrophic to me that this shit happens, that it has to happen in this way, with so much damage, but it does. Communities become damaged; masks no longer fit. The preceding trauma looks like the cause, but it isn’t. It isn’t even the last straw. It’s more the light that flips on and shows you that the thing you thought was a camel’s back isn’t, and the thing you thought you were dealing with isn’t what you were dealing with at all.

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The Medicalization of Childbirth

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Last week, I finished watching “The Business of Being Born“. Ricki Lake did this documentary to highlight the differences in treatment she had with her two children. One was done at the hospital, and ended up as a Cesarean. One was at home, with a midwife, and it was videotaped.

Interspaced between this was some history of childbirth, particularly in the United States. Starting at around the turn of the century, births shifted from something that was at home, to something that was done at a hospital. This shift was not because medical science was particularly good at childbearing (or really, because it was even as midwifery) but because an interesting intersection that we all know and love: capitalism, sexism, and racism. Doctors at the time went on a massive advertising campaign, aimed at telling women that other women were not as good at delivering babies as they were. That these Russian, German, and other immigrant women just wanted your money, and you were a bad mother if you didn’t go to the hospital to get a delivery done there. Interestingly enough; it was not actually safer to go to the hospital, if you were in labor. Midwifery had been around for awhile, women knew how to deliver babies. They, at the very least, knew that you washed your hands before you went to the next birth, something that doctors at the time considered immaterial. Midwifes also knew to listen to a pregnant women when she was in labor, as opposed to putting up a sheet and ignoring her. They also knew that squatting, or in water, was an easier and safer way to give birth then lying on one’s back, where you have to not only have to work against your body, but gravity (but hey, with your legs like that, it was easier for the doctor).

It then went on to talk about “twilight sleep” or “zombie sleep”. For those of you who are unfamiliar (and I certainly was before I saw this) twilight sleep was when a women came to the hospital, and then was injected with morphine and scopolamine. Now, supposedly this was to kill pain; but what it really did was put pregnant women into an alternate state of mind, so that they forgot the labor pains. They also forgot the labor. And how to control their own body. Women had to be tied down to the bed, (with sheepskin, so that they wouldn’t leave big bruises or scratches). Watching the videos were again horrific: a women, tied to a bed, thrashing about, with a curtain at her midsection, and four white guys staring intently at her uterus. For something that is normally held as one of the most feminine of experiences, it was eerily impersonal.*

The movie then continued to show the difference between medical birth and midwifery. For one thing, the births done with a midwife seemed a whole lot less painful. The midwife was there the whole time, as opposed to a doctor who showed up at the last second. The position seemed more comfortable as well; if the woman wanted to get up and walk around, she was allowed to. If she wanted to squat, she squatted. With a midwife, they listened to what the women said she wanted. With the doctors, it seemed as if the doctor told her what she wanted.

Not to say that the movie was Luddite, at all. Every midwife there said that she was grateful that there was the knowledge of obstetricians out there, for the complicated births. But they all made mention that, 9 times out of 10, women did not need to go to the doctor. That first and foremost, those doctors are surgeons, and sometimes do unnecessary cesareans out of misplaced concern, or because of time constraints, that is not actually healthy for the mother or the new baby. They compared infant mortality in the United States with other countries in Europe where it was far more common to have a midwife, and lo and behold, the US has more infant deaths then Europe. However, they never proved a causal relationship; there are a variety of reasons why that might be.

Among the problems of medicalization they talked about, one was talking about how the introduction of medicine was playing weird problems with women’s hormones. First, a women is given an epidural, for the pain. But an epidural numbs more than just pain, it also makes it more difficult to have contractions. So then, a women is given pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin (the birthing hormone). Pitocin has some major problems though: first, the contractions it causes are longer, and stronger (and therefore more painful). Also, it can constrict bloodflow to the uterus, so that the fetus has less oxygen flowing to it. So, to numb the pain, they give the women another epidural. And this starts the cycle again, until the fetus goes into distress (and the mother is also pretty distressed at this point as well). At this point, they rush the women to get a Cesarean, leaving a scar in the women, an increased risk of infection, and a now-distressed baby.

A few things struck me watching this film, in no particular order:

1) Why does any women ever (well, with Tom Beatty make that any person) ever get and stay pregnant long enough to give birth? Seriously, even with the midwife, water births, were it just seemed like a grunt and slip, and “ooo, baby” it still seemed painful, long, and full of viscera. This movie made me hug my orthotricyclin like no one’s business.

2) This movie was far too crunchy for my tastes. I can see why childbirth is a unique experience for women, because it is generally just women that can do it. But seriously, I prefer the ideas they mention at the end a lot better: where hospitals have birthing centers, where midwifes work. You can have your birth in a water way, or at the very least squatting, but you are still at the hospital if you are that 1 in 10 case that needs emergency help.

3) What is it with some guys and their seemingly uncontrollable urges to take women’s experiences and define them/ control them? First you have medical doctors saying that women don’t actually know what’s going on for pregnancy, and then you have guys making laws about when it’s okay for us to have an abortion, and guys who think that birth control is emasculating, and guys who seem to think they know what happens during PMS better than women. It’s really annoying; I don’t assume to know what it’s like to have blue balls, why should they assume they have any IDEA what it’s like to go around in a feminine fleshy meatbag?

This movie is one that I think people should definitely watch** (if you have a netflix account, it’s instantly downloadable, by the way). It shows a very interesting perception of childbirth, from women’s point of view.

*Interestingly enough, the feminists at the time held up scopolamine as a liberation. The movie made mention that at the time, childbirth was still thought as something that should be as painful as possible, for the “curse of eve”. The feminist at the time, saw this as an opportunity to not have to suffer through childbirth, and jumped on the opportunity to show that no, childbirth was painful because there wasn’t the medicine to fix it, not because of any Biblical curse. Next time an anti-choicer shows up saying that early feminists were against abortion (which they should have been, because at the time an abortion had more of a chance of killing you than childbirth), point out that they also supported drugging women during childbirth. We are all a part of the time we grew up in, bound by some of those mindsets and technologies.

**If you’re like me, you’ll watch most of this movie through slits in your fingers. Seriously, think horror movie viscera, and then imagine in that in your most sensitive parts.

I guess the Eastern Orthodox have a better way to celebrate Easter

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Upon reading this I have two thoughts:

1. There are EIGHT TYPES of lard !!?? Lard spices?

2. It didn’t even occur to me that you could measure dill in kilograms.

Modesty by definition doesn’t call attention to itself.

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Let’s all pause for a second to ponder this graf from Sabbotabby’s MSNBC Mormon-catwalk story

And while no one would accuse the women of making a fashion statement, the pioneer-style outfits are a rare example of how in an age of overexposure, modesty, too, can give pause.

It’s not the modesty that gives pause – if merely being covered from neck to ankle made people stop and reflect on the differences between messages sent and messages received by a woman’s outfit, I’d be a featured Rebolutionary modesty blogger. A hit-generating controversial one, since I wear fun, graphic-filled t-shirts a bit too tight. My roommate says it’s because I want people to stare at my boobs, but no one can deny that since I started flaunting it, I haven’t been called “sir.”

Anyway, the point is, plenty of women run around all day and all night dressed fairly modestly. Some of us because it’s easier, some of us because it allows us to cast judgment on all those other whores, and some because we can’t all afford the time, money and effort it takes to pull off a skanky Paris-Hilton like look; tanning and waxing and personal trainers adds up. But no one is ever given any sort of pause by this because to stand around goggling over all the sensibly-dressed women you encounter who aren’t shoving their boobs in your face is sort of like standing in the rain marveling at its wetness.

So it’s not the modesty that causes people to gawk; it’s the freakshow. It’s the use of women’s bodies as a billboard for advertising how pious your community is.

Has anyone seen a picture of an FLDS guy in all this? What do they wear?

When MSNBC reads like the Onion

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

polygamy fashion
Pastel is the new black.

Please tell me that this article was written by a bored, possibly drunk AP writer having a lark and trying to see what he or she could sneak past the editor.

Prairie skirts are in fashion this season, while dusty pastels and neutrals are being introduced to offset trendy bold colors and patterns.

Long hair is also on its way back in, preparing to replace the currently fashionable bobs, Gibson says. Buns never go completely out of style, according to Gibson — he often gives celebrities a half-up-half-down ‘do, essentially what we’re seeing in the photographs coming out of Texas.

But for the most part, the looks that arise from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are likely to stay there.

On her blog, the fashion editor of glam.com wondered if the spotlight on the Texas raid would make otherwise innocuous pastels unsavory, given their dubious association with polygamists.

“Unexpected perversion? Right-wing fads?” Susan Cernek wrote. “Sounds like a good Halloween costume … or Marc Jacobs Spring ’09.”

No really. Are they serious?

Hat tip: violachic

There Must Have Been Something In The Water This Week

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Photobucket
Okay, this isn’t the real plate.

After making the massive mistake of stopping by Borders and buying I Am Legend last night, I was SO not in the mood for this today:

The Florida Legislature is considering a specialty plate with a design that includes a Christian cross, a stained-glass window and the words “I Believe.”

Rep. Edward Bullard, the plate’s sponsor, said people who “believe in their college or university” or “believe in their football team” already have license plates they can buy. The new design is a chance for others to put a tag on their cars with “something they believe in,” he said.

Approving the plate could open the state to legal challenges, according to Josie Brown, who teaches constitutional law at the University of South Carolina. And it’s not certain who would win.

“It would be an interesting close call,” Brown said.

Bullard, the plate’s sponsor, isn’t sure all groups should be able to express their preference. If atheists came up with an “I Don’t Believe” plate, for example, he would probably oppose it.

In an attempt to cheer myself up, I tried to Google the Nova documentary on the 2005 debacle in Dover, Pennsylvania over teaching evolution vs. “intelligent design” in the public high school. That documentary is awesome. It’s like..like misanthropy vaccine or something. Apparently I wasn’t specific enough in my search terms the first time round though, cause what came up instead was, among other things:

Florida Senate passes evolution challenge bill
Last Update: 4/23 8:55 pm

Plant City Senator Ronda Storms introduced the Evolution Academic Freedom Act, which permits teachers to challenge the theory of evolution in science classes.

This comes months after a state panel voted to require teaching evolution in Florida. Storms says her law would protect teachers who want to offer other theories for mankind’s existence besides evolution.

The bill passed 21-17 and now goes to the House. That chamber is considering a version of the bill that would not just permit, but require teachers to present “critical analysis” of the theory of evolution.

That’s it. No more news for me today. Or maybe til Monday. I have found my Nova documentary and I am gonna snuggle up with it for the rest of the night. The End!