when the status quo frustrates.

Transgender

Friday, August 28th, 2009

In sitting down seriously and trying to analyze the concept of transgender, I realized that I didn’t really know exactly what the word even meant. My automatic, knee-jerk idea of the definition was person who feels and/or may or may not present the appearance of a gender different from birth gender* but I realized that I wasn’t really comfortable with that definition. For instance, what is birth gender? The presence or absence of a Y chromosome? The gender the medical personnel present at your birth assigned you based on their five-second visual inspection of your genitalia? Something else, either more medically abstruse or more societally programmed? And further back in the definition, is feeling that you are a different gender than your “birth gender” enough to make you transgendered, or is presenting yourself to the world as that different gender also necessary? And frankly–this is the one that really got me thinking–what does it mean to feel that you are a different gender, anyway..?

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Why Am I Not Surprised

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

…yep, everybody’s got an opinion about the feminism or lack thereof of the facial cum shot. 346 comments since noon today, for reals. I’m just sayin’, you don’t see this kinda action on a blog post about tort reform, for instance.

Advice From the Peanut Gallery

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

I have not been enjoying my work at Goodwill much. It is boring, repetitive, and doesn’t pay very much. So I’ve been sending out emails again, trying to see if I can get something better.

I got a bite back. They want me to be a canvasser for a progressive canvassing group, and right now, they want me to canvass for health care reform. This would be a real opportunity for me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and take a job that has the ability to make tangible changes for the better. It also was heavily hinted at that they want me for a management job, if I work out.

Here’s the catch- it’s also a fund-raising job, and my paycheck will be dependent on how much I can fund-raise. The last time I worked in sales I was a Girl Scout. So, I’m not actually sure if I’m going to be any good at this, and there are bills to pay.

Hubby is supportive- he’s willing to take the risk if I am. But, I’m hesitant…my stint as severely underemployed and then moderately underemployed have depleted anything looking like “savings”. My student loans are going to come do soon, and we’ve got all the other fun things that make life worth living (shelter, electricity, cell phone) to be concerned about. Yet, I’d really like to see if I could do this.

What does everyone think? Should I take the risk, come what may, or is this one of those things that is a needless gamble?

Equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states–it’s the 21st century, don’t you think it’s about time?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I haven’t marched on the Mall since 2004–you know I’m gonna be there! Let’s have a show of support, folks!

Michelle Obama is a Hot 100 Girl of Maxim

Monday, August 24th, 2009

So, I stumbled across this yesterday, and my brain is still having difficulty actually processing it as a concept:

2009 Hot 100 Girls of Maxim
At long last the stimulus package America really needs: The eyeball-searing, fantasy-fulfilling, brain-exploding return of the Hot 100!

93. Michelle Obama
He may be dealing with two wars, an economic meltdown, and a rapidly graying dome, but at least our Commander in Chief gets to come home to the hottest First Lady in the history of these United States.

My reactions, in chronological sequence:

1. That’s a very nice picture of Mrs. Obama.
2. Maxim is a really stupid magazine.
3. No, I’m not being sexist, it’s the exact same kind of stupid as Cosmopolitan–hey, equal-opportunity stupidity! How often do you get to see that in the real world–
4. Is that really the President’s wife on a Hot 100 Maxim Girl list?!
5. Oh my God, Maxim is such a stupid magazine!
6. She is pretty hot, actually. I don’t think I look that good now.
7. I wonder what the comments say…?
8. Okay, now I’m sorry I looked at the comments.
9. To really analyze this, I should look at the other 99 Hot Maxim Girls–
10. No, I just can’t do it. Not even for the blog!
11. Not only do Democrats get all the good musicians at their convention, now they get to have the hot first lady too–do you think Republicans ever get jealous of all this effortless cool..?
12. Maxim is really the stupidest, most sexist while simultaneously being the most brainlessly trivial magazine, ever. Gah!

Monogamy what?

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I was chatting on the phone with the kids’ dad this evening and he was complaining that said kids don’t open up emotionally and/or about their personal lives outside the home to him as much as they do to me. (Lemme make this clear, though–they hardly treat me like “Dear Abby!” What he meant was, they occasionally cough up a detail in my direction of their own accord as opposed to never coughing any up in his.) I pointed out to him (as delicately as possible) that my demeanor was perhaps more open-minded and nonjudgmental than his was, which he grudgingly admitted was likely true. However, he stated mulishly, you can’t give them advice on how to be a MAN, you know!

Well, no, I agreed–I give them advice on how to be a human being, as best I can–it’s true that I never try to advise them on how-to-be-a-MAN. The conversation then shifted to giving them relationship advice, especially our seventeen-year-old, and I found us unfortunately returning to the how-to-be-a-MAN meme in the form of “–and then I told him, you know, that we’re not naturally monogamous–that it’s all religion that’s forced that on us.”

“Um,” I said, “I’m actually pretty monogamous. By nature. I mean, that’s how I’m happy. And certainly I don’t feel that way based on religion–”

“Oh, well,” said the kids’ dad. “I meant MEN. Women, you know, are programmed for serial monogamy, and men are programmed to–”

“–spread the seed, right!” we chorused together. This disconcerted him long enough for me to invent a hasty excuse to get off the phone before I either burst out laughing right in his ear or started yelling at him for attempting to imprint my precious offspring with some evo-psych bullshit that he doesn’t even understand the feeble biological underpinnings of in an attempt to justify to himself why he probably wants to screw around on his wife–! (pant, pant!) But no, they’re also his precious offspring, you know–I don’t get to interfere with whatever ideological crap he wants to feed ‘em. All I get to do is present my opposing viewpoint to them, which I made a huge mental note to do ASAP.

…but it brought back to mind a recent post on Feministe about monogamy–well, about nonmonogamy really and the consensual practice thereof. (Nonconsensual nonmonogamy is otherwise known as cheating, and I think we all already know how I feel about that, right?) I am totally on board with consensual nonmonogamy, just like I am totally on board with pretty much anything and everything emotional and/or sexual that consenting adults want to practice amongst themselves.

However, I don’t agree that nonmonogamy is somehow more feminist than monogamy, which the blogger in question was more or less contending, though I understand why someone might take that stance. As I said in comments:

I would say traditionally that relationships (between men and women) were structured specifically so that the women were monogamous and the men were nonmonogamous–the main cultural variant was whether or not the men were openly nonmonogamous or applied a thin veneer of pretend monogamy to their nonmonogamy. This relationship was clearly structured to go against feminist views, but it wasn’t the monogamy that was the problematic structure, it was that only one gender was expected/forced to practice it (and on the other end, there was often a great deal of social pressure for men to practice nonmonogamy even if it went against their personal inclinations as well).

It does lead me to try to understand better my own definite preference for a monogamous relationship, though. Firstly, do I feel the same degree of need or desire for monogamy on both an emotional and a sexual level? or am I more definitely monogamous in one of those than the other? Secondly, what is the basis for both preferences? Is it something I can really, logically define, or is it an irrational conviction that I’m unable to defend logically but am still passionately attached to? (An example of the latter would be a belief in Creationism.)

I will figure that out and post a “Part Two,” but in the meantime I’d love to hear from any of you out there: Are you by preference monogamous or non, and why? What do you think about the intersection of monogamy and feminism? Harking back to the phone conversation I had with the kids’ dad, do you believe there are any genuine, inborn differences between the genders in terms of tendencies towards or away from monogamy? Shout it out!

Whackjobs

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Really.

About 12 people were carrying guns, including at least one semi-automatic assault rifle, outside a building where President Obama was speaking today.

CNN’s Ed Henry reported seeing a second man with an assault rifle, but that has not been confirmed.

These reports come less than a week after two people brought guns to a presidential event in Portsmouth, N.H.

Another man in Portsmouth was spotted carrying a gun in a leg holster outside the school. The unconcealed weapon was legal under New Hampshire law and he was not arrested. Later, when asked why he brought the gun, he replied, “That’s not even a relevant question. The question is, why don’t people bear arms these days?”

“These days..?” What days, exactly, were those in which people routinely walked around town with a gun (or two) hanging out of their trous? Um, yeah, if you guessed that for at least the past 100 years that would be never, you are correct. As a matter of fact, the last time this was a phenomenon that could be routinely seen anywhere in the United States was in the late 1800s in the western territories, and even then, it wasn’t your standard everyday citizen who carted an arsenal along with him as part of his daily routine–it was, well, the criminals. Ie, those who intended to terrify the standard everyday citizens into doing what they wanted them to do, which generally consisted of activities that were directly in opposition to those standard, everyday citizens’ best interests.

Pathetic. Lame. And yes, scary, because there’s nothing scarier than a deadly weapon in the hands of a total flaming moron, I admit. It’s bad enough that those types are allowed to operate motor vehicles, frankly. However, scary is not the same as intimidating–intimidation only comes into play if the persons generating the scary are not simultaneously inspiring a generous helping of contempt in the bosoms of their targets. As the law enforcement personnel present on the scenes consistently say: “If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time.” (The Y-A-W-N! accompanying those statements is unspoken, but pretty damn hard to miss.)

Oh, well. These types are prime candidates for acquiring themselves Darwin Awards at a much higher rate than the rest of the population; I think we can just sit around and wait for natural selection to take its course. And hopefully they won’t accidentally blow off anyone else’s foot before inevitability catches up with them.

Conversation at Work

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Earlier this month, I finally got an entry-level position at a local non-profit. (Translation: I’m a cashier for Goodwill). Our store is not open yet, so we’re busy stocking. It is interesting to me, because I’m coming face-to-face with my own classism- the people I work with are not college educated (some aren’t even high school educated) and even the few that have aspirations of college consider it an impossible (or extremely difficult) dream. The urge to correct everyone’s grammar is occasionally overwhelming.

Today, we were talking while stocking books, and I got to listen to what everyone’s views on marriage and religion were. It was interesting, and then I ran across The Bell Curve. Submitted for your approval:

Conversation at work today-

Me: Can we not sell “The Bell Curve”? It’s racist, classist, and just flat bad science.

Manager: Yes, we have to sell it. This isn’t about personal preference, remember- it’s like the god-awful ugly sweater; someone might buy it.

Me: But this isn’t personal opinion- this book really is, objectively, racist, classist, and bad science.

Manager: That’s just your opinion.

Me: No, it’s reality. It IS, objectively, legitimately, bad science.

Manager: Fine, but we have to stock it anyway.

Me: Okay, but I’m putting it in fiction.

Manger: *smiles, rolls eyes*

I sure hope no one actually buys this book, and we can just chuck it in the garbage.

Sarah Palin Smokes Some Weed, Hallucinates Plot By Dems To Euthanize Trig

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Here she goes!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

I agree, Thomas Sowell has sort of said that, along with a lot of other crap that clearly lodged itself in Sarah’s one brain cell and is responsible for the above stoned-sounding babble. To quote his crap more precisely:

The government does not have some magic wand that can “bring down the cost of health care.” It can buy a smaller quantity or lower quality of medical care, as other countries with government-run medical care do.

It can decide not to spend as much money on the elderly as is being spent now. That can save a lot of money — if you think having a parent die earlier is a bargain.

The idea of a “duty to die” has been making some headway in recent years around the fringes of the left. It is perfectly consistent with the fundamental notion of the left, that decisions should be transferred from ordinary citizens to government elites.

To briefly address his rather astonishing claim that all other countries with government-run medical care offer either less medical care or lower quality medical care–and what metrics are we using to make this sweeping statement, one can’t help but wonder? According to the WHO, in 2000, although the U.S. spent a higher portion of its gross domestic product on its health care system than any other member country, it ranked 37 out of the 191 countries in terms of actual performance. The WHO used not just one but five performance metrics to determine its rankings:

1. overall level of population health;
2. health inequalities (or disparities) within the population;
3. overall level of health system responsiveness (a combination of patient satisfaction and how well the system acts);
4. distribution of responsiveness within the population (how well people of varying economic status find that they are served by the health system);
5. and the distribution of the health system’s financial burden within the population (who pays the costs).

One could hardly accuse the WHO of underanalyzing the situation–frankly, I suspect Sowell and Palin and the other loud objectors would consider this list far too comprehensive–after all, what do they care about no. 4? And the selfish hysteria they display in regards to no. 5 is pretty pathetic–

But aside from that, it’s the euthanasia contention that really interests me here. Specifically, what really interests me is the lovely portrait both the Palinator and Thomas Sowell appear to be painting of our current private health insurance system, where apparently everyone who has private health insurance finds that all their health care decisions, including end-of-life care, are made by the individual in concert with his loving doctor, with no other outside cost-based interference at all.

For a quick anecdotal reminder that, erm, this isn’t QUITE EXACTLY the case–I can’t be the only woman who gave birth in the early to mid-1990′s, right? And I know I’m not the only woman who got kicked out of the hospital less than 24 hours after giving birth, because the majority (if not all) of health insurance plans instituted a policy of flatly refusing to pay for longer than that, regardless of the fact that the standard postpartum stay recommended by physicians was 48-72 hours. In 1996, the federal government ended up passing legislation requiring health insurance companies to pay for a minimum of 48 hours, after the postpartum complication rate for both women and newborns abruptly began to soar. Oops!

For a less anecdotal statement of fact as to why that contention is total bullshit, save me some time. For those of you who have health insurance from a non-government source, please go look at your policy. I mean really look at it, not just skim over the co-pay and how much you have to fork out a month for you, you + 1 or you + 2 or more–read the whole damn policy. And tell me what care your health insurance company–not you or your doctor–what medical decisions about your care that your health insurance company does not now control already that the government suddenly would.

I think you’ll find that there aren’t any. All you’re doing by switching from private to public, folks, is changing masters–and it’s worth a think or two that you’re changing to a master that you do at least have some elective control over, eh?

(Note to Sarah: To the best of my knowledge, dear, nobody in either the private or the public sector is recommending the euthanization of babies with Down Syndrome. So really, you can relax!)

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UPDATED: More from Salon: “The ‘death panels’ are already here”

UPDATED: Even her fellow Republicans are scrambling to distance themselves from this one.

Two Family Stories, and a Health Care Question

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Every once in awhile, I post that I don’t understand our conservative brethren- the people on the other end of the political divide one way or another. Sometime they scare me, but a lot of the time, they just cause massive amounts of cognitive dissonance. These are my friends, my family. They are generally good people, generally intelligent; but yet they seem to be so indifferent to actively hateful towards people who they don’t personally know.
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The Lonely

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Inspired by Dear Leader, who’s been sharing favorite old Twilight Zone episodes, I’m going to share one of my own. I first saw “The Lonely” when I was, I think, about twelve. I was in a phase of my adolescence where I would stay up all night long just to see what it felt like being awake the next day. Around midnight, I’d sneak downstairs and spend the hours until dawn watching old TV shows which originally aired in the 50s and 60s. To me, The Twilight Zone was by far the best of the lot, and an episode called “The Lonely” left one of the strongest marks on me of all of them.

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When the problem is not having enough money, throwing money at it is actually pretty effective.

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Here’s a curious thing I’ve experienced a few times:

  1. People start talking about healthcare reform.
  2. Someone points out that a single payer could negotiate better rates for services and medications, and thus would probably be rather cheaper than the market.
  3. Someone replies: But you can’t do that! The high prices paid in the U.S. subsidize R&D! That’ll mean no more new drugs, or vastly fewer of them, at any rate.
  4. The topic shifts to who is or is not a Cylon.
  5. (Starbuck definitely is or is not a Cylon, probably.)

You don’t get to hear this argument much on the news. The current talking point seems to be that national universal healthcare through a single-payer model—or for that matter something that bears no resemblance to such a thing unless you drop lemon juice in your eyes, squint, and chant socialismsocialismsocialism—will mean the government will be interfering in the relationship between you and your doctor!!!oneone! This is worse than when insurance companies get between you and your doctor because insurance companies are part of the capitalist market and that means they’re regulated by the invisible hand of the market and the thing about the invisible hand is that it is, after all, invisible, and so you can’t possibly notice when it tells you that you can only have Abraxane shots on the sixth Tuesday of every month, and you should be glad you get that much.

But let’s go back to (3) for a moment.

Let’s assume that we want new drugs. Let’s also assume—though there’s reason to be a bit skeptical of this—that drug companies absolutely cannot absorb any drop in income, and that all such drops will invariably and negatively affect R&D.

Well, how much money are we talking, exactly?

PhRMA says that the private pharmaceutical industry spent $60 billion on research and development in 2007. Taking them at their word, that’s a lot of money! I mean, that’s nearly 6% of the Fabulous Cash Giveaway urgently necessary federal bailout of upstanding (if currently slightly tilted) financial institutions. That’s a bit more than the government gave to AIG, or a bit less than what we gave to Bank of America, Citigroup, Freddie Mac, and General Motors. Each. That’s about the cost of the F-22 Raptor, which is as we know vitally necessary for ensuring air superiority over Afghan farmers as we bomb the fuck out of them.

So I guess I can see why increasing NIH grant appropriations and overall public funding of medical research is out of the question. It’s not like there’s an existing structure for this sort of thing—drug research at universities and public clinics is practically unheard of in this or any other country. And it’s certainly not like strengthening open, publically-funded research would reduce the incidence of, say, morally-deficient fuckers patenting genes for cancer.

Thank goodness single-payer healthcare will never become a reality in the U.S.