when the status quo frustrates.

Outer Space is So Awesome

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Titan seen from outer space

Surface of Titan

NASA says liquid confirmed on Saturn’s moon Titan

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — At least one of many large, lake-like features on Saturn’s moon Titan studied by the international Cassini spacecraft contains liquid hydrocarbons, making it the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to have liquid on its surface, NASA said Wednesday.

Scientists positively identified the presence of ethane, according to a statement from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which manages the Cassini mission exploring Saturn, its rings and moons.

Mars seen from outer space

Surface of Mars

NASA probe confirms water on Mars

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — NASA scientists said Thursday the Phoenix lander exploring Mars had confirmed water on the planet after analysis of a soil sample from the Red planet’s surface.

The discovery was made after the lander’s robotic arm delivered a sample this week to an instrument onboard the lander that identifies vapors through heating samples.

“We have water,” said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the lander’s “oven” Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA.

“We’ve seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted.”

Busy Life

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Two personal updates I would like to share with all you Punkassers.

First, I have been formally accepted into law school, I start on the 18th of August. I already have about 200 pages to read for the first day of class :) .

Second, there is a new addition to mine and Hubby’s little family. Yes, I’ve finally taken the plunge, and taken the feminist pet of choice*: a kitty cat. She’s a sweet calico, who we decided to name “Merow”. Our friend, Foreigner, caught her and her siblings abandoned near our creek.

The Details of Desire

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Bowflex Boy! Oh, my God, I hadn’t thought about him in YEARS..!

(insert shriek, squeal and giggle)

It all started when I saw this post title on Hugo’s blog: ““Bowflex Boy” and Kristy McNichol: desire, celebrity, and the sexiness of earthy reality.” I didn’t immediately cotton onto the meaning of “Bowflex Boy,” and I think Hugo and I must be separated in age by at least a few years ’cause Kristy McNichol is a very vague childhood memory of mine. But further down in the post, Hugo says:

If you remember the ’80s, you remember the ad. I’ve done a Google image search, and can’t find it, but the picture is indelibly carved on my brain. A young, dark-haired man is pulling off his white t-shirt, lifting his arms over his shoulders. His body beneath is tanned and spectacularly toned.

(this is where the shriek, squeal and giggle came in)

Oh hell yes, I remember Bowflex Boy! Now, I had no idea that poster was some kind of nationwide sensation, not at the time nor at any point since–as a matter of fact, all my little friends had their walls plastered with big hair band icons–I was the only girl I knew who had, of all things, a home gym equipment advertisement on my wall.

Hugo goes on to talk about how insecure Bowflex Boy’s amazing abs made him feel when hanging over his head as he was naked in college and trying to make out with some chick and (I think) by extension how this makes him empathize with women who feel stressed by the nonstop avalanche of perfect female bodies plastered on every available wall, billboard and media device. (I say I think because I had a hard time focusing on the rest of his post–I kept getting lost in fond reveries of Bowflex Boy.) I did manage to gather, though, that another of his points was that, while perfect bodies cause us to feel lustful, we shouldn’t trouble ourselves because we can and do feel as much or more lust for the imperfect bodies of the real people we find ourselves in bed with.

The thing about Bowflex Boy, though, was that it actually wasn’t his aforementioned awesome abs, or pecs, or biceps, that made me fall in lust with his poster at age sixteen. They were very nice, but honestly, Bowflex Boy wasn’t THAT muscular. He was well-defined, but actually on the slim side, and you could tell from his proportions that he probably wasn’t a particularly tall guy either. What got me going, and has definitely been a trend ever since, was the subtlety of the sexuality presented.

(Oh, yeah, SUBTLETY! Some dude taking his shirt off is SUBTLE?)

Yeah, really. This is what I remember of the poster: The lighting is dim–not dark or fuzzy, just a low quiet illumination. His shirt is halfway over his head, hiding his eyes and most of his nose. His head is inclined down and his mouth is relaxed, neither smiling nor frowning–just calm. Motion is implied, but smooth and gentle motion, without aggression or haste, but without production, either.

(Warning: The rest of this post may contain Too Much Information. Proceed at your own risk.)


Letting the Purple Smoke Out: DIY Computers I

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

My computer recently died. I pouted, and then, I moved on.

And by “moved on,” I mean, “started to build a new one.”

So! I’m going to do a series of posts about diagnosing a problem with my computer and building a new one. I think this is a pretty Punkass thing, but if you don’t want to read hardware geeky stuff, feel free to skip these posts.

Part one: why won’t my computer start?


Mass graves

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

50 comments and still going strong! I don’t normally get that many comments on anything I post here, so I’m happy to see a lively debate. (That’s not sarcasm. It’s pretty cool that the discussion remained relatively civil, too.)

Anyway, new PunkAssReaders, I hope you’re still reading, because now that I have your attention, I’d like to draw it to something that I care far, far more about than who gets to carry guns in the U.S. That something is the grotesque case of denial that my country has about the violence on which it was founded, the history that makes one poverty-stricken Third World nation for the people who were here first, and another, relatively safe and secure and prosperous country for mostly everyone else. Sure, our government recently said its sorries to the indigenous people, but they stopped short of naming the crime: genocide.

I don’t think they’ve ever done a survey of how many people in Canada know that there are mass graves of children here, but I’m guessing if you randomly suggested it to strangers, all but a few would splutter and deny it. According to Hidden From History, there are possibly thousands of dead indigenous children buried at 28 different sites. While most, if not all, of the murderers and kidnappers of these children are dead, the institutions—church and state alike—responsible for this crime against humanity are still at large.

I guess I mention this now because we all have issues that drive us into a frothing frenzy and issues that we might recognize as important and might even have an opinion on but we don’t really care all that much. I can’t stand it when people ask why I don’t put the energy into pro-Tibet activism that I put into pro-Palestinian activism (there is a reason, but it probably belongs in a different post). But I really do wish more people would get into a frothing frenzy about residential schools. It’s a crime that’s gone unpunished because the only ones speaking about it are its victims.

That page I linked to has the locations of the graves, as well as the sources of information. Much of it seems quite credible. I’m not sure what to do with this information, other than keep talking about it until I’m blue in the face, because as long as we continue to deny the fact that genocide took place here, we are still perpetrating it.

For Violet and Antigone, With Love

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

And for me, and also anybody else who has a love-hate relationship with their computer. :)

I’m still trying to figure out why they even bothered writing this article.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Maybe I just don’t understand the definition of “news.”

Main Entry: news
\ˈnüz, ˈnyüz\
noun plural but singular in construction
often attributive
15th century

1 a: a report of recent events
1 b: previously unknown information
2 a: material reported in a newspaper or news periodical or on a newscast
2 b: matter that is newsworthy

I think my problem is that I tend to expect the “news” to be skewed a lot more heavily towards being 1b and 2b above, rather than 1a and 2a. Clearly having expectations is my problem!

Analysis: Obama, McCain both have lobbyist ties

How astonishing in United States senators running for President. Really! (snork!)

During this campaign, lobbyists and trade groups donated $181,000 to McCain, while Obama received $6,000, according to the New York Times.

You know, $6,000 doesn’t look too shocking when it’s sitting next to $181,000.

In all, lobbyists reported contributions of $4.7 million to Democrats and $3.3 million to Republicans, the Times reported this week.

So are we supposed to adjust each candidate’s actual numbers by some kind of percentage based on party affiliation..? If not, I’m not clear on what that snippet is doing in this article at all, purportedly specifically targeting Obama and McCain as individuals.

Still, both candidates maintain they are above the influence of lobbyists.

$181,000 is being above the influence? $6,000, maybe, but–?

The senator from Illinois also has taken in $18.8 million from lawyers and law firms, according to estimates from the Center for Responsive Politics, and some of those firms employ lobbyists for special interest clients.

Gosh, this reminds me of studying logic in high school. Let’s see how it works out!

Obama = A
money = B
laywers and law firms = C
lobbyists = D

Given facts:

A takes B from C.
C gives B to D.

..um, there is no way to link A to D there..?

“People who are not directly registered as lobbyists but perhaps working for a company, maybe working for a company in a capacity that’s tangentially related to the government affairs, can give money,” said Lisa Lerer, who covers lobbying for Politico.

I work for a company in a capacity that’s tangentially related to government affairs. Oh, wow, I’m like a LOBBYIST!

The rest the article is much the same, a whole lot of confused and impossible-to-substantiate inferences that contradict each other, though it is hard to avoid that if either candidate IS somehow tied at the hip to the lobbyist racket, it ain’t Obama.

Do they seriously get paid for this crap? Like, more than minimum wage..? If so, I’m clearly in the wrong business.

The anti-gun gun-nut

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Not bad for a gun-hater.

So. A homophobic terrorist shoots up a Unitarian Universalist church, which is pretty much the mass murdering equivalent of kicking puppies. The usual suspects on both sides come out of the woodwork to claim that more guns or fewer guns, respectively, would have prevented this tragedy from occurring.

On the NRA side, SaysUncle is on the case!

The Mrs. often asks why I carry to church. It’s because shootings keep happening at churches.

Kynn points out that politicizing tragedy and victim-blaming is kind of a shitty thing to do. Posters from SaysUncle immediately jump all over her blog. She bans them. Her blog, her prerogative, and she wasn’t looking for a debate.

SaysUncle & Co. get butthurt about it and bring up Kynn’s appearance and gender presentation, as if either are relevant.

I can’t resist an opportunity to troll, so I went over there and attempted to reason with them. After all, I’m not anti-gun; I just think that guns wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy. But they flip out, arguing that of course, they totally could have taken down the shooter without hurting anyone else.

There are a lot of arguments that one can make here, but my final one, as I was starting to get caught up in their spam filters, was that yes, certainly, I respect their right to own guns. Among the many problems with their victim-blaming line, however, is the idea that the only way to prevent gun violence is by carrying concealed firearms. To which I asked: what about kids who are too young to shoot, people with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from safely operating guns, and especially in this case, what about pacifists who don’t want to carry guns? Should they, like the original poster, carry guns to church? And if they don’t, do they deserve to get shot?

The, er, ludicrous response:

Each and every single person on Earth has the implicit right to kneel, bend their head and take a bullet in the back of the head. Each person has the right to lie supine with knees spread. Each and every person has the right to stand in abject terror with hands raised and the sure and certain knowledge that personal death is very near.

Where do these people live—Baghdad? I have a hard time imagining that violence is so rampant in the U.S. that one’s only option if one wants to be safe is to pack heat. Earlier, we were arguing about whether it’s responsible to have guns around children—I firmly believe that it is not. Their argument hinged on the infrequency of accidental child deaths caused by guns.

But random shootings, well-publicized as they are, are also quite rare. You’re more likely to die in a car accident. So I wonder at the psychology of people convinced that they need to be armed when they attend children’s plays at churches—you know, just in case. I suspect there’s some other motive at work, such as complete and utter paranoia or, possibly, tiny penises.

These guys don’t believe me that I’m not part of some sinister left-wing conspiracy to take their guns away (I’m really not, and I’m not sure why they’re so scared when the far-right has been in power in their country, content to erode all of their civil liberties besides the right to bear arms). But to be honest, it’s really hard to take the pro-gun argument seriously when the people making these arguments are so batshit that the solution to any problem becomes a testosterone-laced violent fantasy.

Anyway, apparently they’re looking for Rational DebateTM, which I guess is an invitation to wander over there and disagree with them. Just a warning: If you disagree too effectively, they start to froth at the mouth and suddenly every comment you make mysteriously gets caught in their spam filter.

Somehow, I’m sure the patriarchy is to blame.

Monday, July 28th, 2008

My computer stopped turning on over the weekend. (* cue sound of sobbing children *)

I push the power button. Nothing! I unplug her, wait a minute, plug her back in and push the power button. Nothing! I pray whilst pushing the power button. I am struck by lightning*, but my computer does not turn on.

So, until I can get a new** power supply***, posts might be a bit erratic. A bit, um, more erratic.

You have been warned.

* – The lightning had a funny, dismissive “you don’t even even mean it,” flavor.

** – I actually have two spare power supplies, but neither has the right power cord layout. Arr.

*** – At least, I hope it’s the power supply.

In the Company of Men

Monday, July 28th, 2008

When I was eighteen…

…I was an MRA.

Okay, not really. Not totally! and definitely not consciously. But I had some interesting ideas about men and women.


Pro-Life Organizations

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

After many failed attempts on trying to upload images to this blog, I’m just going to assume I have a computer competency level that rivals John McCain, and say screw it. The images that show which pro-life organizations do what is at my Teller of Truths blog, and there will be links going to the relevant graphs. I am sorry if this is somewhat unwieldy for people.

When investigating Pro-Life Organizations, I choose to focus on 6 factors: are they secular or religious, does it appear to be women leading the organization, do they support sexual education, or contraception, or welfare for new mothers, and are they violent or peaceful?

At each link, there is a brief description of how I came to where to classify each organizations. I tried to stick straight to what the organization itself said. For some organizations (like Libertarians for Life) I am sure that do not support welfare, but that organization does not address anything else besides abortion, so I left them at “does not address welfare”.

The information is not surprising for any feminist. The organizations are overwhelmingly run by men, Christian, and anti-contraceptive. Beyond that, most of them are either against comprehensive sexual education, and welfare, or do not address it at all. Thankfully, most of the organizations are not violent, but there are enough that are violent or connected to violence to have a chilling effect.

For my next few blogposts, I’d like to go into some detail to some of these organizations. I plan to cover the most popular one, the national Right to Life Committee, but I will leave up to the readers to decide which organizations they would like some more details on without actually wanting to read their sites.

“Where is that marvelous ape?”

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

So in case you haven’t heard already, a couple of weeks ago Rum, Romanism and Rebellion unearthed this joke that McCain told at a meeting of the National League of Cities and Towns in 1986:

Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”

After some uppity women at NOW made a fuss, then-McCain press aide Torie Clarke issued a weak non-denial, saying he “doesn’t recollect telling that joke”, and– despite independent verification of the story by several socially prominent witnesses– claimed it was all just the nefarious work of Democratic senate challenger Richard Kimball.

So, besides the fact that, at the ripe young age of 59, McCain thought extreme sexual violence was funny… and was happy to spread the old lie that all any woman really needs is a good raping in order to release her hidden libido… and had a penchant for jokes with dubious racial overtones… what are we to take from this incident?

For one thing, it’s more ammunition for the argument that McCain isn’t just pandering to the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club for votes; he’s a card-carrying member.

But for the in-depth analysis, let’s turn to trusted logotherapist, nail technician, and advice columnist Herr Doktor Blume.