when the status quo frustrates.

Why I’m Really Sorry To Hear You’re Having a Girl

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Seriously, I do not understand these type of women. It’s like they were never girls themselves, they have such a horror of them–I would really understand a man writing some crap like this much better, because at least one could stretch one’s imagination to encompass the idea that females might seem like a dreaded alien species to a man. It’s really hard to understand why a female might seem like one to another female.

Let the pukefest begin!

Why I didn’t want a girl
by some twit named Amy Wilson

In an elevator, in line at the grocery store, waiting for the bus, it always goes like this: Strangers’ eyes zero in on my belly first. Then they dart furtively to my face, as if to make sure I’m not a mutant, just visibly pregnant.

After this, they ask, “Is this your first?”

“My third,” I answer. “I have two boys at home.”

And for the kicker, they unfailingly give me a sideways grin, and say: “Going for your girl?”

“Nooo, just going for a baby,” I reply, gritting my teeth a little. “Another boy would be fine with us.”

I know these people are just making conversation. But this constant assumption leaves me a little offended. What’s wrong with boys? Why wouldn’t I want another one? It bothers me that people assume I feel incomplete without a daughter, let alone that it’s my motivation for being pregnant with a third child in the first place.

In spite of the ick-inspiring title, you see that the article itself didn’t start out too badly. I have two boys myself, and I’m quite happy with them–as I’ve told them several times in the past, if I could have gone back in time and picked my two babies out of a designer baby catalogue, I’d have picked exactly them, down to the last little detail. (It’s true, I swear. They’re so awesome. Excuse me while I go goo over their pictures for a sec–okay, back on task!) I would be annoyed if people harassed me about one of ‘em not being a girl. (It hasn’t happened, to be honest. But it would be annoying if it ever did.)

But yeah, anybody that whipped up that title can’t possibly continue down such a reasonable path.

To these people, I say, “I actually hope it’s another boy. I like boys better.”

She seriously likes some people better than others based solely on gender, without having any other information about them. She specifically applies this to her own children. Gahhh!

And lest you think she’s exaggerating a wee trifle–oh, no. She’s not, and she’s quite happy to tell you why.

I love what I have, and I have what I love: boys. I understand them. I understand the clothes, the toys, and the Matchbox-car skids on my wallpaper.

Not that having two boys is easy — their physical interaction can be, shall we say, overwhelming. But I love even that, because when I say I am the mother of two boys less than two years apart, I get a respectful nod or even a big thumbs-up for having that much testosterone in my daily life.

The night we found out I was pregnant again, my husband, David, said, “Odds are it’s another boy. How do you feel about that?”

I thought for a moment, and answered honestly, “I feel good about that.” He patted my hand. “That’s how I feel, too,” he replied, and we both drifted off to sleep. It was more than good; we were relieved.

Girls’ clothes–ugh! Clearly wildly different from boys’ clothes, so different that it would take seriously thought and practice to even get the little bitch dressed at all that first time. Girls’ toys–ugh! SO different from boys’ toys that never the twain shall meet, much less overlap in the slightest, especially in babyhood–doesn’t everyone know that’s the case, huh? And baby girls don’t destroy wallpaper and she loves her destroyed wallpap–yeah, I know, at this point I was so weirded out I almost quit reading any further. The question begins to arise…has the author ever been around, on the most casual basis, anything other than a male child? Was the author herself actually a male child…? Given that she is pregnant as an adult, it seems unlikely, but it would help explain her bizarre, fantastic ideas about female children.

Then, two weeks later, I called to schedule my next appointment. “Hi, Amy! Your amnio looked great, and it’s a girl! How nice for you,” the receptionist blurted.

For a moment I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then I realized what she had just revealed and I almost dropped the phone. “Wha-what? ” I said. The receptionist heard the bewilderment in my voice. “You knew, right?” she said. “The doctor told me you knew.”

“I didn’t know,” I said, my head spinning. “I’m sorry…I’ll have to call back.”

I sat there in a daze. This child I was just starting to feel stir inside me was a girl? I waited for the excitement to wash over me. It didn’t come. Not only was I not thrilled — I was disappointed.

Mostly, I just hope her daughter never stumbles across this, and wow, do I already feel sorry for that poor kid. And I only got sorrier–

I could handle boys, with their cut-and-dried needs, but girls were so much more complicated. Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements. They whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate. How was I going to deal with that?

Girls don’t have hairstyle requirements any more than boys do, not for more than a decade really, unless you deliberately choose to inject them into your girl’s life and you don’t even get the option to do that til they’ve actually grown some hair to style, which takes a couple of years after birth. And I’m sorry, I can’t swallow the notion that her sons did not regularly whine, mope, and manipulate as babies, toddlers and small children. Whining, moping and manipulating are what babies and kids do, regardless of gender. Let me repeat–I am the mother of two of that glorious Y-marked gender–and I had a sister who was younger than me–and I’ve babysat enough kids to fill up a small school–yes, all kids, even the Sacred Male brand! whine. And mope. And manipulate. All the time. Is she even raising her own current kids..? Are they drugged to the gills or something?

My sons sneer at all things princess, and so do I. We love to pore over the Birthday Express catalog so the boys can plan the themes of their parties through 2013. My role in this is to gasp, “Oh, I think you should have a pink-poodle party!” “YUCK!! That’s for GIRLS!!” they shriek, and I laugh along with them. What will I do when I have someone who wants a pink-poodle party?

…having already had two children, I’ve learned that you can’t control their hardwiring. If she wants to be a princess, that’s what she’ll be.

Was your misogyny hardwired, lady? Was your sons’ misogyny hardwired, or have you spent years gleefully teaching it to them? What a way to bond with your sons–to put down your own gender! Or have you made it clear that MAMA is special, not like all those other disgusting, creepy females? And yes, I agree–what will you do when your daughter is born, since you’ve taught your sons so thoroughly to despise girls..? God, your poor, poor, poor daughter.

I was hoping that my husband’s reaction to the news would make me feel better about all of this. When I got him alone, I told him that the receptionist had screwed up, and that I knew. He hid his face in his hands. “Well, don’t tell me!” he said. “I don’t want to know!”

That was four months ago. I’ve got three weeks left, and two of my closest friends know I’m having a girl, but my husband still doesn’t.

“Will you be happy either way?” I ask David. “Of course, honey,” he says, and I can tell by his voice he thinks I’m carrying the third boy he wants more anyway. “Three sons would be amazing.”

It’s enough to make you want to cry for that poor little girl. That poor, despised, unwanted little girl–already.

My best friend took her father out to dinner for Father’s Day a few years ago. She’s the fourth of four girls, and of five children–her parents had her brother about five years after she was born. Her father was reminiscing about the past with her, and mentioned in passing that he and my friend’s mother had never really intended to have five children–they had originally meant to only have two. My friend knew this already–it was a long-standing family joke. However, she wasn’t too prepared for what followed:

“Yeah, but we didn’t,” her father commented. “If I could go back and only pick two of you–well, I’d pick my son, of course–I don’t know which of you girls I’d choose.”

My friend was in her early thirties when she got to hear this, but it still made her cry after she got home. But who cares–? She was probably just using her tears to whine, mope and manipulate–! Or at least practice those feminine techniques, since her father wasn’t around to see her tears.

One of my friends who knows the secret thinks a girl will be great for me. “You deserve a girl!” she said, after watching me separate my two fighting boys. “Just think, she’ll be quiet. Calm. Easy.” It’s true: Even inside me, she’s different. When my boys would kick, I’d press against their little feet, and they’d kick back, harder. This baby? If she kicks and I press back, she goes completely still.

Oh, well, that’s all there is to it then! The fact that my older son, as a fetus, was quiet and lazy in utero must have meant that he was really a female fetus. And when my sister and I used to regularly duke it out? Clearly we were really boys! That goes double for my best friend and her three sisters, who spent a large portion of their childhood in intersibling brawls complete with screaming, limbs and handy objects flying. How we all magically managed to change gender once these behaviors ended has got to be the medical mystery of the century.

Maybe this broad is just so stupid that her daughter won’t take her mother’s inanity and senseless cruelty to heart, realizing early on that one must always consider the source. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually how it works out with kids. I wish she’d been sterilized after kid no. 2, and I’m really sorry that she’s even raising the boys she has–they’re either going to grow up to be flaming sexist assholes or they’re going to have a rough row to hoe weeding that bullshit out of themselves as adults. Most of all, I’m sorry I ever stumbled across this article at all.

I heard flu vaccines are linked to autism, so to be safe from “swine flu” I’m trying to lick an autistic kid.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

(Hat tipped to Aaron.)

Now don’t get me wrong. Influenza, whatever ithe specific strain, totally sucks. Nobody wants to catch it. People can and do die of it. H-o-w-e-v-e-r, I think we may be losing our perspective a little, en masse, on the subject of the ZOMG SWINE FLU PANDEMIC!!!!!!

Just a few items of note to keep in mind, my fellow Americans, before you succumb to panic, panic, panic!

WaPo:

British officials confirmed three new cases of swine flu on Thursday, bringing the nation’s total to eight.

Two of those infected live in London, and one lives in the northern city of Newcastle. Officials at Britain’s Health Protection Agency said the three “have mild symptoms and are responding to treatment at home.”

The agency, in a statement, said all eight British cases involve people who had recently traveled to Mexico.

Let me repeat the salient points: “Swine flu” is not a magic disease that teleports itself around the globe deliberately infecting people without any hint of why it would be choosing those particular people. “Swine flu” in no way resembles the Ebola virus in terms of virulency. It resembles, well, pretty much any other strain of flu in terms of virulency.

NYTimes:

On Thursday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 109 confirmed cases from 11 states, up from 91 cases in 10 states on Wednesday.

So, the incidence by population has gone from 0.00003 percent of the population of the United States on Wednesday to 0.00004 percent of the population on Thursday. Chances are, nobody anywhere near you personally has it. Seriously, you personally are probably All Good, especially if you don’t live in New York City.

New York City’s total of confirmed cases is at 49, and the probable cases at 5. All have links to Mexico or St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where the virus first surfaced in New York, health officials said.

Again–it is not the Evil Juju of diseases, lying in wait for you ready to pounce without warning, cause or pattern.

Thus far, the epidemic has resulted in mild illness in many of those infected, and claimed only a confirmed eight lives in Mexico and one — a 23-month-old child from Mexico — in the United States.

And if you do somehow get it, unless you’re in the high-risk category of death from any other kind of flu–you’re very young, very old or you have other serious health problems–you are going to feel like crap for several days and then you’re going to recover and get on with your life.

Of course, you could just barricade yourself in your house and stress yourself to death. If you did, would that count as a “flu-related death?” ’cause we might see a serious jump in mortality numbers if it does.

Nice

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Today:

After a nearly decade-long effort, the National Congress of Black Women on Tuesday honored Sojourner Truth by making her the first African-American woman to have a memorial bust in the U.S. Capitol.

I’ve always, always loved that speech.

The speech was recorded by Frances Gage, feminist activist and one of the authors of the huge compendium of materials of the first wave, The History of Woman Suffrage. Gage, who was presiding at the meeting, describes the event:

The leaders of the movement trembled on seeing a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet, march deliberately into the church, walk with the air of a queen up the aisle, and take her seat upon the pulpit steps. A buzz of disapprobation was heard all over the house, and there fell on the listening ear, ‘An abolition affair!” “Woman’s rights and niggers!” “I told you so!” “Go it, darkey!” . . .

The second day the work waxed warm. Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Universalist minister came in to hear and discuss the resolutions presented. One claimed superior rights and privileges for man, on the ground of “superior intellect”; another, because of the “manhood of Christ; if God had desired the equality of woman, He would have given some token of His will through the birth, life, and death of the Saviour.” Another gave us a theological view of the “sin of our first mother.”

She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced, “Sojourner Truth,” and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.

The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows.

“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the Negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head…what’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

The Passion of Ayn Rand

Monday, April 27th, 2009

That is the title of her biography, written by one of her ex-adherents who also happened to be the wife of a man Ayn had a long-term affair with–given all that, one would expect the tone of the book to be rather more unsympathetic than otherwise. However, that’s not really the case. I read it over a decade ago for a college class–the one and only women studies course I ever took required us to choose and write an in-depth paper about an influential woman of the first half of the twentieth century. I chose Ayn Rand, for three reasons: first, because she fit the criteria as presented; second, because I have a rebellious streak and knew full well that we were expected to choose a feminist, regardless of what the criteria explicitly stated; and third, because I was genuinely interested in the woman behind Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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WTF Ponies?

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

I was watching the TV Guide Channel, and I must say, I miss when it was nothing but music, weather, and what shows are going to be on. Now, they keep having shows that are cheap Entertainment Tonight, which is really just cheap television tabloids.

And they were talking about Lindsey Lohan, and her recent break-ups (which are none of my business) and her relationship with the paparazzi. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I know next to nothing about Lindsey Lohan. I know she’s a fair-to-middling actress; when given good roles, she appears to excel in them, when given crappy roles, she bombs in them. I know she’s done most of her formative years in the unkind public eye. I seem to remember hearing something about her dating a girl. But other than that, I know nothing about this girl.

But, I do know, that she shouldn’t have to stay in her house to stay safe from the paparazzi.

Ms. Lohan went on the Ellen show, and said maybe she should stay away from clubs for awhile. Lohan quipped back “Should I stay home from the grocery store too? Because they follow me there and make up stories about stuff I didn’t buy”. Ellen backed off there and went to talk about something else, but the TV Guide people kept harping about how she was so dumb, and completely missed the point about Ellen’s amazingly insightful “advice”.

Fuck that. She should be able to go to whatever club she wants to go to. I don’t care if she’s a total wreck of a human being, that’s none of our business. This “Well, if you don’t go out, then you won’t have this problem” victim-blaming bullshit comes from the same place of “well, if you don’t drink, then you won’t get raped”. It erases who really is the travesty of a human being, the one stealing your rights away. The paparazzi takes away someone’s right to privacy, and right to live as him or her pleases. The rapist takes away your right to autonomy. In both cases, saying “Well, if you just wouldn’t do X” you enable the offender. When you focus on the victim, the perpetrator becomes blurry.

Let the damn girl go to the clubs in piece. Stop taking her picture. If she’s in trouble somehow, let her family and those who care about her take care of it.

Moral Clarity

Friday, April 24th, 2009

I’m going to go over this very slowly. I am doing this because I believe, purely by association, that you are intellectually capable individuals. I am doing this because I believe, purely by *faith*, that you will at some point in your lives realize that you once stood over a murdered woman’s body and argued about how much she deserved it.**
Violet (from the previous post)

This quote demonstrates beautiful, and rare, moral clarity.  In this post we examine the opposite of moral clarity.  To very briefly recap the relevant evil position responded to above: the position was put forward that disappointed sexual expectations might be a mitigating factor in the extinguishing of a human life.

I wish to proceed with all due respect to the unique qualities of the above story and to the tender political sensibilities common at a time of societal upheaval and the transition of power.  Without comparing the nature of the crimes, here are a couple of situations demonstrating the sort of sick dehumanization that Violet was reacting against–and perhaps illustrating the destination and the source of the involved proto-lawyers and their ilk.

While reiterating his belief that CIA officers who carried out so-called “enhanced interrogations” should not be prosecuted, the President said he wanted the Attorney General to make a determination on how to procede [sic] with “those who formulated those legal decisions.”  — Daily Kos on torture prosecutions

This situation is related as if it were some kind of real ethical dilemma.  How is a college educated adult to know if he is justified torturing an Asian peasant?  Hmmmm.  I guess if he’s told to by his boss, then it must be OK.

Should the guy who ordered him to torture the peasant get in trouble?  Let’s see, if the lawyers (see Violet’s post again for insight into the humanity possessed by lawyers) said it’s alright, we’ll have to check with the Attorney General.

What do you say, AG?  Weeelll, It’s unclear how we should deal with people who set up legal structures authorizing torture.  We’ll have to check into it.

I have an idea, let’s ask a fucking kindergartner if people should torture each other.  It will save alot of time and we’re far more likely to have a morally sane verdict rendered.  Actually, the relevant public school curriculum may have to change to reflect the nature of our shared social code.

“Most schools that engage in strip searches do it because they are acting in good faith,” said Francisco Negron of the National School Boards Association. “They are doing it because they feel an intense need to protect the safety of the students.” — Some Asshat defending the strip searching of a 13 year old student thought to possess advil.

Before everyone flees down their pre-programmed mental escape routes, let me state again that I’m am not comparing the severity of these crimes.  We, as a species need to battle through the layers of complicated exceptions, mitigating factors, and fear of apocalyptic outcomes and look at these events for what they are.  If we want to live in a better world, we must call these events, and all such events, by their proper name: crimes against humanity–and perhaps more importantly, crimes against a human.

At some point, if we are ever to evolve beyond the savage barbarism that has been the hallmark of the human experience, we will have to reach a point of moral clarity.  When is it OK to strip search a 13 year old?  Never.  When is it understandable to butcher another human being?  Never.  When can we excuse one individual for torturing or ordering torture of another individual?  Never.

A civilized society, if one is ever to exist, will require a fabric of human dignity and of an expectation of respect for persons.  This needs to replace the current and historic toxic environment of routine abuse, humiliation, degradation and inequality.

Have a lovely weekend.

My wall is covered in idiots.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

My friend’s wall, actually.

I’d link there, but linking into Facebook is an exercise in frustration.

So, instead you get to read it here! Fully imported from shit-vile.

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Allow myself to introduce . . . myself

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

I’ve got a google doc full of half-finished paragraphs here and I’m trying to tie them together.  I’m pretty good about blabbing on about any particular topic until everyone politely excuses themselves, but I’m not very comfortable talking about myself.

Here goes: I’m an over-educated, highly privileged white male.  I spent my early 20s trying to make machines think and my late 20s as a societal dropout snowboarding in Vermont.  I am married to my life’s love–a woman of whom I am not worthy.  Frequently, after agonizing for months, I will come to a position that she confidently posited at the very beginning.  She is my intellectual and emotional superior.  Her name is Alisa and she is always right.

As to where I come from belief-wise.  I’ve travelled a long road from the evangelical warmongering patriotism of my childhood, through teen-aged objectivism turned liberalism (it was mind-bending for me as well), radical environmentalism, socialism, marxism, and then several flavors of anarchism.  At some point I decided to throw everything out and start over from scratch.

To summarize, I believe in reality as it can be demonstrated to exist.  I work from the assumption that I exist.  I further assume that my senses convey to me a reasonably accurate reflection of a objective reality.  The basic tenets of logic encode basic principles of the physical world and allow us to use our reason to determine the validity of truth claims.

Besides that, I try to keep an open mind.

I am interested in reading, thinking, and talking about social structures.  I would like to see a world of peace, justice and universal human flourishing (who wouldn’t?  Put your hands down).  I’ve spent a long time exploring ethical, economic, philosophical, and social systems of thought and the institutions they give rise to.  Lately, I’ve been motivated to look around a bit more for people with similar interests.

Once such person that I bumped into is punkass Marc, if that is his real name.  I started reading punkassblog and chatting with him about the contents.  We hold similar political views, though he believes that we need a police state to protect his lunch money.  Anyhow, he kindly offered to let me cross-post relevant material from my proto-blog, creatively named jad-davis.com.

So that’s what I plan to do.  Please be gentle with me.  I have a fragile ego and require frequent and sincere praise or I’ll curl up in the fetal position until Alisa makes me go to work.

Amazon: The Funopoly!

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Hi everyone!

Amazon.com here. After the recent concern expressed here and the tweetageddon resulting from our itty bitty but totally adorable if you think about it what were we talking about again? Probably one of our awesome SALES SALES SALES where you can get all the It items your barren soul craves for way cheaper than you should.

Anysmiles, we thought we would stop by a few places where the grumperdoodles have emerged to remind everyone of all the great things about us. First of all, we have everything. Literally everything ever. From the latest Girls Gone Wild DVDs to the Shroud of Turin, you can find every item conceived or created on Earth (coming soon: Amazon Galactus!) within our virtual walls. And all of it is obscenely cheap — so cheap that it almost seems like there’s no way anyone could be making a profit on the sale, and certainly way cheaper than some fleshbag in your analog town could sell you the item. Oh, and we have free shipping on all kinds of stuff! So you get it right to your door with minimal exertion, which avoids disrupting your streak of barely moving a muscle.

How can we make the world this perfect for all of you? One word: volume. We’re the middle men on so much stuff that we can move merch at razor thin profit margins. When you think of a book or a CD, your brain thinks AMAZONAMAZONAMAZON. More and more, when you think of movies or electronics or furniture or crude oil futures your brain is also thinking AMAZONAMAZONAMAZON. Why? Because we’re a funopoly!

That’s right — like Google and Microsoft and Ma Bell before us, we’re so good at what we do that you don’t need anyone else. And that means you’re subject to any of our awesome whimsies or poorly conceived fantastideas, and all you can do it shout your love of our deathgrip on literature and battery powered devices to the interwebs via blogs and twitter. Because even when you want to rank us as 1 star in your heart, you’ll still come back for that new Twilight paperback. Every fucking time.

*giggle!*

If We Have Kids, We’re Homeschooling

Friday, April 17th, 2009

When I was kid, my peers hated me. In hindsight, I imagine it was because I was unabashedly different; I like far different things than they did, I complained about the teacher going to slow (which I’m sure made the rest of the students feel just peachy), and I was socially awkward. These are crimes at which children show very little pity, and I didn’t have wealth or physical prowess to fall back on.

I spent most of my childhood hiding: from ice-balls thrown at me, from being pelted with rocks, from people trying to force me into the creek. I was also the victim of several cruel (not that it needs to be said) but untrue rumors, and horrible bait-and-switches from cruel girls of the “Do this and we’ll be your friend forever” variety.

The teachers were never any help, and the administrators, if anything, tended to be worse. The best I can say about them is I never was in trouble from retaliating* against my bullies, which I did do from time to time. I’m not terribly proud of it, but a few tears and an “They’re lying!” was enough to cover any physical retaliation I ever did, but in most cases was never an issue, because they weren’t going to say anything to teachers about me hitting them. At the end of the day, who were they going to believe? The bright, sweet-looking child who didn’t have so much as a blemish that wasn’t a missed homework or a tardy, or the kids that were always in-and-out of time-out (and later, detention) for fighting, cursing, and disturbing the class?

I never told my parents. I figured out fairly quickly that my dad respected bullies and other “strong” people; in fact he was a bully when he was in high school.

Hubby doesn’t have much of a better story.

Threads about bullying are full of people with similar stories. Sometimes the victims end up committing suicide. Sometimes they end up murdering students. Most of the time, victims figure out some sort of coping mechanism; based on my observations, I think sarcasm is probably the most common.

Now, not to bury the lead or anything, but it’s time to get back to the topic of this post. The number one reason people say that homeschooling is wrong is because children won’t get properly “socialized”.

Based on the number of people that had to live through bullying, and the complete lack of any systematic effort to stop it, I’m calling bullshit, hard. Public school does not properly socialize anyone, it teaches children to become bullies, victims, or learn the nifty trick of “not my problem”. That is not a socialization I want to give my kids at all.

My heart goes out to the 11-year old boy who probably wanted to live, but couldn’t think of away out of the daily horror that bullying does to a young mind. I think that it’s time that we re-look at our schools, and what exactly we’re teaching our students.

*With the exception of one extremely terrible teacher, who really was only teaching until she could pick up a husband. No really, she told us that, many times. She actively egged on the bullies.

**The first time, I hit a guy back, it was because he lifted up my skirt to flash everyone my underwear. I turned around a belted him one (although it was a very poor punch). A teacher saw the underwear flash, briefly, but really saw the punch. I told the truth, and was given several days of “time-out” (no recess; this was way back in elementary school), and told that I need to be able to take a joke. The boy, to my knowledge, never received a punishment. For years later, I would scream bloody murder when forced into a dress, and because of my vehemence against skirts, my peers would think it’s great fun to flash my undies every time I showed up to school in them. As a child, I thought it was “mean” and made me feel self-conscious about myself. From my adult, feminist eyes, this is “sexual assault”. From the teachers eyes, it was just “kids being kids”. After the first time, I made sure that the retaliation was away from the teachers eyes, and that I denied everything to the administrators.

Don’t put away your #amazonfail tags just yet

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Amazon wowed and amazed us this week with their stunning ability to shoot themselves right in the feet, and while I haven’t seen what the formal resolution to that problem was yet, the general consensus was that they seemed to be trying to do something only moderately shady and fucked up hardcore. On Sunday the interwebs were furious, and by Tuesday they were begging Amazon to just fix the problem and give us a plausible mea culpa so that we could go back to loving them once again.

Unfortunately, they didn’t love us enough to give us even a plausible lie, and now people like my roommate, who care not for GLTB literature but do care about getting fucked on the internet, are seeking out – and finding – new reasons to never trust any Internet business that isn’t NewEgg.com.

A careful review of your account indicates that you have required refunds on a large majority of your orders for a variety of reasons.

In the normal course of business, the occasional problem is inevitable. The rate at which such problems have occurred on your account is extraordinary, however, and cannot continue. Effective immediately, your Amazon.com account is closed and you are no longer able to shop in our store.

There are so many things wrong with this, I feel sure there must be an error:

…3) I am now unable to access archived copies of the Kindle books I’ve purchased legally, and have no other way to legally purchase DRM’ed books on the device.

4) I also have no access to videos I have purchased from Amazon.

5) Since I can’t contact customer service, I cannot get any warranty service for my current Kindle, and the email explicitly states I can’t return anything (not that I’d want to!)

I’ve never had to return anything to Amazon, because I rarely return books and so far I’ve had good luck with non-book purchases, but this would make me pause before purchasing more from them. Returning too many products makes your Kindle not work? That seems a tad harsh. After all, not all Amazon retailers are selling top-quality merchandise (it’s easy to buy crappy electronics when searching for the best deals) and Kindles are not cheap. At any rate, heavy Amazon users might be well advised to look carefully at the terms of service before deciding to stick with what they know. I know I don’t often return things, but I’ve also stopped shopping at box stores if I heard too many scare stories about excessive banning of so-called expensive customers, and I don’t see myself making an exception for the internet stores.

Updated: Shorter Michelle Malkin: “Let Me Underscore Yet Again What An Idiot I Am, As Publicly As Possible”

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Update: Check out this article: The ultimate reaping of what one sows: right-wing edition Clearly I should never have singled out just poor Michelle from amongst the teeming hordes of hypocritical right-wing idiots.

Good old Michelle. If I actually believed she was some kind of actual journalist, I’d be horrified. Luckily, she’s really more like a much lazier, Conservadroid version of the paparazzi (though she has been known to occasionally get up off her ass and go stalk people in person). I wonder if the fact that she’s so clearly not an actual journalist bothers her sometimes–her one book attempt wasn’t exactly Woodward and Bernstein, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, her latest self-inflicted adrenaline-fueled hysteria is centered around this:

Right-wing extremism may be on rise, report says

(CNN) — Right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation’s first African-American president to recruit members, a Department of Homeland Security report contends.
The Department of Homeland Security says membership in extremists groups like this may be increasing.

Though the nine-page report said it has “no specific information that domestic right-wing terrorists are currently planning acts of violence,” it said real-estate foreclosures, unemployment and tight credit “could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.”

The report, prepared in coordination with the FBI and published April 7, was distributed to federal, state and local law enforcement officials under the title “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

It compares the current climate the 1990s, “when right-wing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.”

Part of the reason she appears to be pissed off is that the DHS refused to grind to a halt in order to address her, er, concerns–they even had the unmitigated gall to act like she is less important to them than First Lady Michelle Obama. I mean, how dare they not realize that Michelle Malkin is their priority?! The other reason is that, of course, it’s all a plot against Teh Conservatives.

Michelle sez:

They were very defensive — preemptively so — in asserting that it was not a politicized document and that DHS had done reports on “leftwing extremism” in the past. I have covered DHS for many years and am quite familiar with past assessments they and the FBI have done on animal rights terrorists and environmental terrorists. But those past reports have always been very specific in identifying the exact groups, causes, and targets of domestic terrorism, i.e., the ALF, ELF, and Stop Huntingdon wackos who have engaged in physical harassment, arson, vandalism, and worse against pharmaceutical companies, farms, labs, and university researchers.

Apparently she’s not very familiar with the reports that they’ve done on “left-wing extremism” though, which is sad, considering the most recent one came out just this past January. And, of course, there’s this:

Both reports were initiated during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Darling, we didn’t even have a Department of Homeland Security before George W. Bush, remember..?

(Hat tip.)