when the status quo frustrates.

Heroic embryo-rights firefighters make me so hot

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Not counting the comments in this old thread over the last two days, I have written exactly zero on the subject of reproductive rights. In my life. Guess I just figured other people had it covered. What a spineless coward I’ve been. Time to get out there and knock some heads! As I’m an RR noob, please forgive me if I come out swinging on an argument that has only been definitively kiboshed about a zillion times, namely the whole “life begins at conception” thing.

I won’t rehash what’s gone on so far in the thread, but suffice it to say that my right hand has been busy, and thus All Your Uteri Are Belong To Us (“us” being me and my gametes).

In one corner: me and Antigone (who kindly reminded me as to the difference between a gamete and a zygote).

In the other corner: Neil, a biblical literalist who in the last week has not only blogged a response to Lisa’s nearly year-old post, but also noted how gay pride parades are God-mockery and helpfully pointed out that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett just might now be in hell (pretty classy, Neil!); and Theobromophile, a regular at Neil’s site. Neil’s blog seems to get decent traffic, so we may get some other new visitors too, but what the heck, I’m in the mood to add a few more kleenex to the pile.

The fight: Can the “rights” of a single-celled organism trump the “rights” of a woman? (I’d like to point out the first set of scare quotes are mine, and the second set Neil’s.)

Taking off from the last current comment on Lisa’s thread, by Theobromophile:

The scientific fact is that gametes are not human beings the way that zygotes, blastocysts, and embryos are. There is no right to life of a gamete, no more than your dandruff has a right to life.

However, conception changes all of that. From the moment of fertilisation, the egg changes; it develops a hard outer shell to keep out other sperm; DNA from the parents’ gametes mixes; and cell division begins. (Scientists can examine two-celled blastocysts and determine where the head will be.) The result is a complete human being at the earliest stage of life.

There is a tremendous amount of intellectual dishonesty required to pretend that foetuses (or embryos) are not living human beings. While I fully understand why most anti-lifers do not acknowledge this point – as to do so would be to admit that some humans in our society have a right to life, but the smallest, most vulnerable, and unwanted ones do not – it is, nevertheless, antagonistic towards basic biology.

Theo, considering you would apparently gladly risk the life of a real woman with a lifetime of experiences just as deep as your own for the sake of a non-sentient single celled organism that happens to have a hard outer shell, you really oughtta reconsider who you want to call “anti-life” here.

Wanna argue with me about about late term abortions, sure, we’ll still disagree, but at least I’ll feel like we might be able to have something approaching a rational conversation. Arguing in favor of a single cell is pure kookiness. Now you can claim “INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY!111!!” all you want, but you’re not actually demonstrating exactly how I am supposedly being so. Let me instead show you your own.

You and Neil and others like you make the argument that because the scientific establishment classifies a certain parisitic single-celled organism as “human”, this somehow also proves, scientifically, your faith-based ethical belief that this non-sentient microscopic life form is morally equal to (or perhaps higher than) the life of the host human off of whom it is currently leeching. What we have here is a (yes) human single cell which has precisely as much awareness as a monkey zygote or a cat zygote or a mouse zygote or a gamete or an amoeba or a rice krispy. Your position seems to be that since a human zygote has a chance of growing into a self-aware homo sapiens at some much later date, it has already got some magic quality which makes its worth equal (or better) than the life of an adult woman who has it. But… why? Unfortunately, you guys are missing any kind of middle steps in your intended chain of logic.

This is intellectual dishonesty. Though I’ll give y’all the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re being just as intellectual dishonest with yourself as you are with me. I really can’t understand why anyone would hold your point of view, except with the theory that you are only getting so hot and bothered over this issue because believing this confers on you moral superiority and thus the right to control other people. Like, women.

Speaking of hot and bothered, here’s a challenge to Neil, Theobromophile, and to any other pro-zygote anti-woman’s “rights” lurkers out there. (Remember, that’s Neil’s scare quotes, not mine.)

Let me pose you a simple question. A variation on one I’ve read somewhere before, wish I could remember where. Anyway, please answer directly, as it may clarify a lot for all of us.

First, imagine that you are a heroic firefighter. (Who knows, maybe you really are one.) 

You’re passing by a fertility clinic when you notice it’s burning down. Being the brave and plucky embryonic-rights crusader you are, you leap into the fray to save as many frozen embryos as you can. You’re just lumbering out of a burning lab, loaded down with a refrigerator full of potentially hundreds of frozen blastocysts, when you suddenly notice a child whimpering in the corner, trapped behind a fallen timber which you are sure that you, with your rock hard pecs, can easily move.

Now, you might be able to leave and then come back for which/whoever you left behind; but the fire’s raging pretty badly. You also might not. Do you…

(1) …drop the refrigerator to save the child, and take the chance that the blaze might destroy the hundreds of frozen blastocysts before you can return?
(2) …keep on going with the refrigerator, and take the chance that the fire might kill or maim the child before you can return?

Follow-up questions:

If you chose the child, why did you do so?

If you chose the refrigerator, does your answer change if you know that the refrigerator has only ten frozen blastocysts? Only one?

And finally, if you refuse to give a straight answer either way, what does this say about the strength of your convictions?

More Outer Space Coolness

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Literal coolness, given that we’re talking about a moon of Saturn. Water is amazing stuff from a chemical, physical and even biochemical standpoint–unique on multiple levels, absolutely required in liquid form to sustain any life that we could ever really recognize as such.

I’ve been a big fan of Jupiter’s moon Europa for years–looks like I have another gas giant moon to add to my list!

The Salty Waters of Saturn’s Moon Hint at Life

A Cassini spacecraft image shows icy geysers spewing from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The salt particles in the ice jets are the strongest evidence to date of a liquid ocean under the moon’s icy crust.

Sorry–I Refuse To Hate Men, And None Of You Can Make Me Do It No Matter How Hard You Try

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

“Men are dogs,” said my previous ex-husband to me, as we were driving out together to meet my current ex-husband at the bank to close our joint account.

“No, they’re not,” I said.

“Yes they are,” he said, very firmly, staring straight ahead at the road. “You need to stop thinking everyone’s like you, you know. You always do that. You did that with me, too.”

“You wouldn’t have done something like this.”

“No,” he agreed. “But I take marriage very seriously. Clearly he doesn’t.”

Obviously true and inarguable, so I let it go. But I didn’t forget that conversation, nor could I erase something my current ex-husband said to me since our parting of ways:

Him: I think your feminism may have been part of the problem.
Me: How so?
Him: When you said your divorce lawyer told you that you must have a problem with self-respect to have allowed yourself to be treated this way. That really bothered you.
Me: Don’t you want me to have self-respect?
Him: (pause) In some ways. Sometimes.

The above theme had cropped up earlier as well, in the month or two before we separated–of course, I wasn’t aware at the time what was triggering it, that his ex-wife had moved up here and they were conspiring together to get rid of me (maritally, not literally, of course!). In short, he mentioned on several occasions that what he really wanted was someone who would do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted without interference from such concepts as her own self-respect or personal desires–my efforts to please and placate were clearly underwhelming, and he just as clearly believed that such a woman was indeed out there just waiting for him. (Again, since I didn’t know about the eager availability of his ex-wife–who I should probably point out, didn’t actually consistently perform to that standard while they were married, which is why they separated repeatedly and finally divorced–I found his assurance on the subject bewildering. Not anymore, obviously.)

But the thing that troubles me is that both men do think that this sort of behavior is simply something that’s endemic to men, to the gender male of H. sapiens. Now, you’ll never find me arguing that there aren’t a large crop of asshats running around the planet at any given point in time–but I just can’t really bring myself to believe that all or even most men are secretly (or not so secretly) this particular brand of asshat. Some, sure. But so are some women–I’ve met them. And I would definitely agree that society and culture (pretty much all of ‘em, even worse in other cultures than in ours) set men up to be more likely to be this sort of entitled, domineering, sexually uncontrolled brand of asshat.

But I still can’t really believe that menarejustlikethat! I especially reject that they are like that as an inborn trait–I have no patience for that brand of evo-psych. But I also reject that they are all like that as an acquired trait, too. I reject that most of them are like that…men are people, not badly programmed sexbots. (Well, okay, except for Dennis Prager.)

But my first ex-husband and my current ex-husband aren’t the only men who’ve made these statements to me. Over the years, many many other men have made similar statements to me–about the inherent selfishness, sexual obsessiveness, immaturity, etc. that is the essence of malekind. I’ve always rejected them as blanket statements or even as reliable generalities.

So am I being stupid, to assume I know better what men are than all these other men who’ve argued with me about it? Many men have treated me with respect and consideration during the course of my life–am I to believe, as all these other men always insist, that it’s because I’m desirable and it is done solely to enhance the possibility that I might someday accidentally trip and fall on top of their waiting dicks? That it’s all an act to get me where they want me (emotionally and often, legally bound to them) so then they can reveal what they’ve really wanted all this time..? Gad, it’s all such a stereotype–must I buy into it?

Sorry–I still don’t. I still think it’s more likely that I just haven’t been careful…though I’ve gotten more and more careful with each spouse, and put up with the subsequently revealed repellent post-marriage-ceremony bullshit for shorter and shorter durations each time, clearly, I simply haven’t been careful enough in my choices.

On a kind of funny side note, I now have an saved email archive full of ex-husbands declaring (post-divorce!) what a wonderful, special woman I am, and how sweet and kind and beautiful and caring and intelligent and strong and–! I do have a good, positive relationship with the first ex, and I may well have one with this one, too, if he chooses that. It’s very peculiar; I’ve never really witnessed the like. Either I’m really something spectacular, or they want to keep the hope alive that I might put out again someday when they’re desperate and alone–I just can’t decide which. :)

This is a news story?

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

CNN headline!

Jackson’s body moved from coroner’s office

Lest you think that there is actually some serious, exciting, unusual, even criminal! even remotely suspicious! action that is about to be breathlessly revealed:

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Michael Jackson’s body was moved from a Los Angeles, California, coroner’s office to a mortuary Friday evening, a coroner said.

Er. Yeah, I think that’s what they usually do with corpses.

Look…I understand that Michael Jackson was one of the most famous celebrities of our time…that he had a huge cultural impact on the pop music scene…that his scandals and strangenesses were even more piquant that your usual run-of-the-mill celebrity trainwrecks…

…but please. Have mercy. NOT tomorrow’s headline: “Mortician begins to pump embalming fluid through Jackson’s veins” or “Suit chosen to dress Michael’s corpse in” or–


Saturday, June 27th, 2009

As you all know, my life has been rather fraught lately–the deepest and most meaningful of analytical thought processes are still a bit beyond my grasp. Luckily for me, there are a plethora of pathetically easy targets for my currently dulled wit just lying around out there. It’s so therapeutic, too–no matter how low I’m feeling at any given moment, say, I can always look at stuff like this and think to myself, “You know, it could be so much worse–I could be one of Sarah Palin’s kids. Gaaaah!”

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is again sharply responding to the appearance of her children in the public sphere.

Palin’s latest response comes after liberal Alaskan Blogger Linda Kellen Biegel doctored a photograph of the former Republican vice presidential candidate with her 1-year-old son Trig, who suffers from Down Syndrome.

Trig, Trig, which one is he…oh yeah, he’s that life-size “Pro-Life!” dolly she glues to her suit front before every news conference. Oh now come on, she can’t be mad AGAIN that people somehow can’t avoid noticing the appearance of her children in the public sphere, I mean, all she’d have to do is stop wearing ‘em around 24/7 like tattoos, right..?

“Recently we learned of a malicious desecration of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother’s love for a special needs child,” Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapelton said in a statement provided to CNN. “The mere idea of someone doctoring the photo of a special needs baby is appalling.”

Wow, I have been out of touch. I was totally unaware that some photo some unknown individual snapped one day of Palin carting Trig around was the 21st-century version of Raphael’s Madonna and Child. When did that vote take place, and is it too late in the day for me to cast one..?

Stapelton also suggested President Obama should speak out against such behavior from liberal activists.

Can’t imagine why she would. According to the Palinator, President Obama “is someone who sees America as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country.” Unless the desecration of her holy Trig photo is a worse crime than palling around with terrorists! (It might be, too. After all, that’s like, an affront against G-O-D.)

Yep, keep ‘em coming, people! I’m not ready to have to do any real thinking yet. :D

Yet more media FAIL

Friday, June 26th, 2009

“Ryan O’Neal recently told People magazine that the sex symbol was declining”

…okay, I know I’ve been out of the loop for a while in terms of current events and suchlike, but I’m completely positive that Ryan O’Neal isn’t a sociologist, and I’m just not connecting with a scene where a reporter from People magazine asks him how his wife and her terminal cancer are doing and he replies Oh yes, the sex symbol…well, she’s declining.

Reminds me of the Somali pirate news. :)

(I promise, longer and more thoughtful blog posts will be forthcoming.)

I used to confuse them with each other when I was a little kid.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I have no idea why, as their music is completely different nor do they bear the faintest physical resemblance to one other other than both being short and male. So it’s funny to me that here they are live, in concert at last–together!* I’m just sayin’.

*Then again, maybe they play in concert together all the time–I don’t really follow either of ‘em.


Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Anybody remember back in November, when I announced I was getting married?

I bet you can guess what this blog is about…oh no! you may cry. Or you may laugh, given that all my sarcastic predictions of “looking for my next ex-husband” have indeed come to pass–only seven months after our marriage.

I thought about not mentioning it here–I mean, who really wants to read about my personal life, especially when it’s a trainwreck..? But then, I thought, eventually everybody IS going to know and this will totally spare me having to repeat it multiple times to multiple people–whoever doesn’t read this, if in future they ask me Hey, aren’t you married..? I can just hand ‘em the url and move on with my life.


I’m Not Dead Yet: Open Thread

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

To the blogging audience;

Sorry posts have not been forthcoming, but quite frankly, looking for a job has completely exhausted me and drained me of any ability to come up with even a bit of political commentary. But, thank you for the (two) people who e-mailed me, asking what is up. Everything is fine on my end, except that I’m broke and have no job :) .

Please use this thread to talk about whatever you’d like.


Saturday, June 20th, 2009

Today, Ali Khamenei has ordered the killing of protesters. There are tanks rolling into Tehran right now.

Today, my aunt has decided to die.

I understand my aunt’s decision. I understand that she can’t keep fighting. I understand that the story of a survivor, a strong woman, a loved woman, beating the odds—I understand that was a fairy tale.

I will never understand the thing that makes soldiers hear an order to kill people who are speaking their hearts, and do so. I will never understand what keeps them fighting. I will never understand why those Iranian freedom fighters had to die. Why women and men asking for something as tiny as a vote had to die for it. This is a thing I cannot understand.

But they will overcome. They will win, and they will make better.

This isn’t a fairy tale. This is truth. This is inevitable. This is necessary.

There are things you—we—can do.

At the protests today in Denver, in solidarity with the protesters in Iran, a woman said that the organization, the access to information, it’s making all the difference. It’s letting Iranian activists know they aren’t alone. It’s helping them communicate and coordinate.

It is why this will succeed. It is why this is different. Information is the foundation of the revolution, she said.

Of course, that is a terrible thing, and it must be stopped. The Khamenei regime has tightened Iran’s firewalls—second only to China’s—in an attempt to prevent protest, organization, dissent, collaboration, rebuilding.

You can do something. For once, the Internet actually can actually fucking help.

I’ve set up a proxy server to run about the supreme leader’s firewalls. You can, too. You should. Here are the windows instructions. If you’re using Linux, apt-get squid and edit /etc/squid/squid.conf as the instructions say. Also add and to the ACLs so @austinheap can verify your server.

It’s a small thing. It can help.

Find out where there’s a protest near you.

It’s a small thing. It can help.

And maybe there’s more. More small things, that can help. More large things, that can help. More things that can keep more women, more activists, more people, from getting slaughtered.

Tell me.

What would it take

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Lately, I have been thinking about health insurance (probably because I have no job, and even though I’m on Hubby’s health care plan, it still makes me feel wary). I’ve been wondering why we don’t go to a government-run model: I’m convinced of it. But, I’m an easy sell on health care- access to everyone and flexibility? Give me some of that.

So I started to think: what about people who don’t have liberal values? What would it take for them to be convinced that it’s a good idea? I went and asked my conservative and libertarian friends and relatives, and this is what they said (the ones that answered; lazy people):

So How Was Your Day?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Personal anecdote time!

So, Hubby and I have moved out of the boonies, into the less boony area of Minneapolis/ St. Paul. We had a lovely housewarming party last night (wine and cheese and Firefly, oh my. I’m glad we finally had an opportunity to get rid of the leftover wine from the wedding). This morning, we had to get up in the way-too-earlies to go Washington to see my baby sister graduate.

Or at least, that was the plan. We fly stand-by, so it’s always a little hit-or-miss what time, where, or even if we’re coming in. Initially, we were supposed to fly to Seattle, but that looked as if we weren’t going to make it on time, so while we were at the airport, we switched to go to Vancouver, BC (no problem for us, because we have passports) which is actually closer to our final destination. As we’re getting on the plane, I call my family, and tell them that we need to get picked up at Vancouver. No problem, says my father, I’ll send your sister. I hang up, and turn the phone off.

3 hours later, after a nice flight, but nothing to write home about, we’re in Vancouver. We cannot find our sister, so we turn on our phones to pay the billions of dollars that international cell phone charges cost.

Sister says “Slight problem”.

“What’s that?” we ask.

“No one has any passports, and they won’t let us over the border.” Turns out, as of June 1, no one, absolutely no one gets over the border with just a driver’s license and a birth certificate. Go figure.

That is problem. So, no one can pick us up. My credit card is maxed, Hubby’s card has barely anything on it at all. We try to go rent a car. Not enough money on our cards. I get my mom’s number. They’re not taking it without her being there. Okay, we’ll take the bus. Well, to get to the Greyhound, we have to get on the city bus. The city bus costs two dollars Canadian. We don’t have an American penny between the two of us, and since we were both starving, we had to get food, and now Hubby’s card has even less on it. Not that it matters, the bus doesn’t take credit card anyway. The pizza was very good.

We’re stumped, and out of options. But there’s a flight going back to Minneapolis, but only one more that we have any chance in hell of getting on, and it leaves…..holy shit, we have to get through customs.

Canadians are very nice people. They let us skip ahead of them to get through security so we could get to the plane on time (between that, and running, we were just in time to hear the second boarding call!) The nice attendants, after hearing our tale of woe, bump us up to first class. (And let me tell you, first class is DEFINITELY the way to travel.)

So now, we are back to our apartment, exhausted, and had a very unproductive day, and I shan’t be able to see my baby sister graduate. But, we have a story to tell, and I don’t have too many of those, and we’re back where we have some staples in the fridge, and parents-in-law to mooch off of.

So how was your day?