when the status quo frustrates.

Polanski arrest worse than Nazi aid

Monday, September 28th, 2009

A woman named Joan Z. Shore from Belgium founded an organization called Women Overseas for Equality. Sounds like a good thing, right? I mean, I tend to be for equality whether or not you and I are separated by large bodies of water, but unless she’s straight-up old-school colonialist about it, I can endorse being concerned about the combination of Women, Equality, and Oversea-ness.

Now, last I checked, America was overseas from Belgium. And it has women in it. And sometimes those women are raped by famous movie directors who flee the country when a judge catches that person acting like an a-hole after making a plea deal that will get him off scot free.

Now, I could be completely hammer-to-the-head insane, but doesn’t it seem like “equality” is meant as a synonym for “justice,” and that justice for a woman who is raped is, at the very least, to see her attacker brought to justice? I realize Polanski’s victim just wants the case gone, but there’s also the question of the broader social implication of just letting rape go if you’re famous and rich enough to evade the law for a couple decades. That doesn’t seem like much equality to me.

Apparently Joan Z. Shore disagrees. But before we get into that, let’s be clear about something: The Swiss used to be cool.

I used to admire [The Swiss] — their clean, orderly, decorous way of life. Their stubborn independence and self-reliance. I forgave them for the years they never joined the United Nations, and even now, not joining the European Union.

I always love talking about a nation’s people like they’re identical beings popped right off the national assembly line. Who doesn’t love the Borg?

There was so much affection wafting from Shore towards the Swiss that she even waived the Wand of Dismissal o’er the Swiss collaboration with Nazi Germany:

When I learned, years ago, that they had blithely allowed German military trains to transit their country during the Second World War, while claiming Swiss “neutrality,” I was shocked, but tried to excuse them on grounds that they were protecting their country from invasion and armed warfare.

But now? This Roman Polanski extradition is, objectively, the most heinous act in the history of the multiverse.

Arresting Roman Polanski the other day in Zurich, where he was to receive an honorary award at a film festival, was disgraceful and unjustifiable. Polanski, now 76, has been living in France for over thirty years, and has been traveling and working in Europe unhindered, but the Swiss acted on an old extradition treaty with the U.S. and seized him!

So, we have understandable Nazi compliance, but “disgusting and unjustifiable” extradition of an admitted rapist escaping punishment. This seems like a clear-headed view of the situation.

Making this an even more sensitive equivocation by Ms. Shore, Polanski was a Holocaust refugee. I wonder what he’d say if you put this question to Polanski himself: is it easier to forgive a country for turning over a wanted criminal or for letting the Nazis ship troops and supplies on its railways?

I won’t answer for him, but I will say this: Switzerland may be brought to their knees by Shore’s uber-classy, enlightened call to action.

I suggest, in the finest American tradition, we protest this absurd and deplorable act by smashing our cuckoo clocks, pawning our Swiss watches, and banning Swiss cheese and chocolate.

And let them yodel all they like.

Sounds like a person totally invested in equality to me.


Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

…I was hoping this wouldn’t happen for a LOT longer…

…yes, it’s true. I actually feel the faintest of desires to have sex.

(Warning: TMI)


Sonia Sotomayor’s judgement and the Duke Lacrosse case

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor at Princeton in the early 1970′s.

Not that these two things ever directly interacted, to the best of my knowledge–but I found myself musing on the latter while reading this article about the former this morning.

Way back in 2006, when the Duke Lacrosse case hit the fan and subsequently spread outwards into the media, I was coming to the end of a period of a year or two where I’d been fairly active posting on an MRA (men’s rights activists) message board. What the heck was I doing there, you might ask..? No, I wasn’t trolling, thank you!–I had simply encountered a few of them on another message board, a feminist message board, that I had been posting on since 2002 or so, and having never heard of any such animal, I was quite interested in the meaning of their existence and what on earth they thought they stood for. I mean, men’s rights activists? Did I miss the period in history where the gender male was actively and specifically legislated against..? The best notion I could come up with on my own was that they objected to Selective Service registration. (As it turns out, that’s not something most of them care very much about, though it does come up periodically.) One of the MRAs on the feminist message board, upon discovering my interest, invited me to an MRA message board that he participated on–I followed him over, and spent the next two years being enlightened on the subject.

At any rate, as one of the very few (I believe only, at that time) resident feminists on the board, I was immediately harassed for my opinion on the case. My opinion was that I didn’t have one–I had no details other than the bare minimum, that a woman of color working as as stripper had accused one or more members of the Duke university lacrosse team of raping her. I had no knowledge of the truth or lack thereof of the accusations, the denials, the claims of evidence, or anything at all, really. My opinion was that that’s what we have a police force and a judicial system for.

But, you know, I was a feminist! And the definition of feminist is woman who instantly believes every word that ever comes out of any woman’s mouth on any subject whatsoever if the persons disputing that word are men, right? …well, no. I am a feminist, and happy to acknowledge that, but I will point you to the dictionary for the definition of that word and subsequently, the definition of what I, a feminist, am.

I was reminded of all this when I read this excerpt from today’s LA Times article, called The Two Sides of Sonia Sotomayor:

After Princeton, at Yale Law School, as a prosecutor and a corporate lawyer in New York, and while serving as a federal judge for 17 years, Sotomayor continued to display a passion for minority rights. She was active on the board of directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund when it sued New York City over alleged discrimination in police hiring and the drawing of voting districts, as well as when it challenged New York state’s death penalty law.

Eight years ago, while sitting on the federal appeals court in New York on which she still serves, Sotomayor said it was “shocking” that there were not more minority women on the federal bench.

But little of that activist sentiment is revealed in the hundreds of cases Sotomayor has decided in her 11 years on the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, raising the question of which jurist will present herself if she is given the lifetime tenure and complete independence of a Supreme Court seat.

Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer with a Supreme Court specialty, said last week that he had reviewed 50 appeals involving race in which Sotomayor participated. In 45 of those cases, a three-judge panel rejected the discrimination claim — and Sotomayor never once dissented, he said.

“This is a judge who does not see it as her job to fix all the social ills in the world,” said Kevin Russell, a Washington appellate lawyer who also has analyzed Sotomayor’s opinions.

But in her 1974 letter to the student newspaper–

Whoa, horsies! In the letter she wrote…35 years ago, when she was nineteen years old..? This has, excuse me, what relevance to her today? What were you doing when you were nineteen years old, and for your sake I hope it isn’t really a good and accurate snapshot of your activities now in your mid-fifties..?

But beyond the patent absurdity of such a side-by-side comparison, the deeper issue that I find unpleasant to see as such a widespread issue is that it is not possible to have philosophical beliefs in general and yet be unable to reason logically in any given specific situation. I’m not sure if this is a sexist or racist issue–is it impossible for people to believe that a woman, or a person of color, can be rational about any issue that even remotely touches on gender or race? However, I’m inclined to think it isn’t even that–I’m inclined to think that it is a human issue, because most people find themselves quite unable to formulate a rational, logical opinion on a specific incident that touches closely upon any general philosophical belief that they hold. And because they themselves can’t do it, they both assume that nobody else can, either, and they are subsequently terrified of anyone whose philosophical beliefs don’t agree with their own having any position of power or arbitration whatsoever in their society.

There’s certainly a great deal of evidence for this. Witness the unending struggle in multiple school districts to essentially ban the accurate teaching of the academic subject biology by people who are passionately committed to a religion with a creation story, for instance. And, to present another and more pertinent to this post example, witness the large number of self-professed feminists who quite eagerly first convicted the Duke lacrosse players without knowing a single fact of the case and then, as more facts did come to light, went even further off the deep end by simply flatly denying they could be true, at all. So, clearly many people, indeed, cannot function rationally if the situation in question touches upon their personal philosophical beliefs.

But really, I think it’s amazing to make a general assumption that just because you can’t do it, nobody can. History also abounds with examples of people who can do so and have done so. Harking back to the the evolution vs. creation debacle, most scientists do have spiritual beliefs of some description, and still function quite successfully in their work in unlocking the secrets of life on earth. Interestingly enough, though, these same scientist are far less likely than the general population to hold fundamentalist spiritual beliefs–ie, their belief system is specifically flexible. It seems reasonable to suppose that people in the judicial profession are similarly less likely to hold fundamentalist-style beliefs–or they wouldn’t be in such a profession in the first place, where the search for the genuine and accurate truth of any given situation regardless of preconceived notions is a core part of the profession.

Sonia Sotomayor, from her judicial record, would appear to be a person whose philosophical beliefs do not unduly influence her rational judgement. Will she be credited for that, or is that simply too impossible for those who are hopelessly enslaved to their own dogma to swallow? It’ll be interesting to watch the progress of her confirmation.

Socrates Nosferatu

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

This story is not about vampires.


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.



Monday, January 19th, 2009

I like helping people. So, in the spirit of liking to help people, I thought I would help Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va), the new Republican Whip, with his recent CNN Commentary entitled, “Big Risk in Obama’s Stimulus Plan.” He clearly means to Set the Tone of His Whipness Early On, By God! with that Daring, Aggressive Commentary Title! or should that be his “whiphood,” or perhaps his “whipdom,” or maybe even his “whipshiz,” which bears a remarkable resemblance to the word “dipshit” but I’m sure that’s a total coincidence. Given that the entire thing is a masterful exercise in passive-aggression, one might end up being entirely unable to decipher whom it is, exactly, that he thinks will be the source of the “Big Risk”…but, here I am to the rescue! The PunkAssPolitoPictoralTranslator! is at your service! Ready…set…go!



Saturday, January 17th, 2009

It’s not news to anyone that PETA is completely crazy, but in case you didn’t know, there’s a hilarious little Flash game on their eyesore of a website. And it, like so much of their “shock” advertising, is entirely sexist. Hey PETA: Why can’t you put a princess dress and a biker jacket on the fish at the same time?

By PETA’s logic, all we need to do to end the attacks on Gaza is to rename the Palestinians “desert-kittens.” Couldn’t hurt, right?

Anyway, here’s mine:

Create Your Own Sea Kitten at peta.org!

(The entire site is hilarious. Check out the awesome bedtime stories. If they hadn’t been around for so long, I’d be convinced that PETA is some sort of viral marketing campaign for the meat industry.)

Oh, That Genetic Programming!

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

From some dude named Garth George in New Zealand:

…men and women are different physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It astounds me that in this age in which knowledge of the makeup of the human being is greater than at any time in history, we will not concede that men and women are genetically programmed for differing roles.*


Now, this sounds kinda familiar. What was that advice column thing I was cheerfully mocking the other day…oh yeah!

…women should never, ever pursue a man. Instead [wait] for the man to initiate and plan dates…If the woman is always the one calling, she will never know if he is really interested in her or if it’s just convenient for him. She may find herself questioning the relationship every step of the way. Men simply aren’t programmed to think like that and therefore are better suited to the chase

New rule: Nobody is allowed to use the phrase “genetic programming” or any related phrases harking back to that concept and be taken remotely seriously unless he or she can, right now (no Googling!) define for me what a gene is, and no bullshit copouts like “the basic building blocks of life!” either–if your definition can be stretched to include any other scientific and/or philosophical or theological concepts besides genes, it ain’t one. You are also required to know the definition of any and all words used in the definition, and you are not allowed to use any part or variation of the word “gene” to define a gene.


::crickets chirping::

*He has somehow managed to link this to abortion; I read his article three times and still couldn’t figure out how he got from point A to point M or N. I wish better luck to anybody else that makes the attempt.

Rarely have I read an article where a reporter from a national mainstream magazine was so blatantly creaming in his jeans over the awesomeness that is teen parenthood.

Monday, September 1st, 2008

This was hard to believe. I had to check twice to make sure it was really Time magazine and not some clever decoy, you know, like “crisis pregnancy” centers like to pull when they set up facilities next to a Planned Parenthood clinic and call themselves something like “The Planning for Parenthood Center” to fake legitimacy and trick people who are looking for actual reproductive health care into their clutches. But no, it is Time magazine, and the guy who is writing the article is named Nathan Thornburgh. Actually, I was so underwhelmed by this article that I decided to do a quick search on this guy’s name to see what else he might’ve written out there, and apparently, this is but a second of a series of articles he has produced about visiting Alaska in the light of the Palin veep announcement. The other one, entitled “Where Palin Made Her Name,” opens with the following gem:

It’s Friday night, and there have got to be 500 people packed into the Sluice Box, a beer-soaked clapboard honky-tonk at the Alaska State Fair – the state’s biggest event all year – just down the highway from Governor Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla. The legendary Hobo Jim, Alaska’s official state balladeer, the guy who has opened sessions of the legislature with a song, is onstage, working blue.

“Here’s to the girl from the great Northwest,” he sings, “with tits as hard as a hornet’s nest.” The crowd whistles its approval.

For the record, he’s not singing about Palin, though the curvature and comeliness of McCain’s surprise vice-presidential nominee pick are brought up by just about everyone here, man and woman, in a way that would make lower-48 liberals and feminists cringe.

Mmm…you know, there are certain things that people who don’t like a certain other set of people say that are red flags cluing one in on the fact that that person, indeed, does not like them. The above is a great example of that. It’s interesting that some journalists appear to believe that the spirit of the supposed ideal of journalistic neutrality is fulfilled by passive-aggression–frankly, I’d prefer that they just openly said fuck the whole ideal! and engaged in outright aggression. It’d leave less of a greasy aftertaste.

At any rate, it’s a strange article. He begins by stating that he thinks that Sarah Palin’s underaged daughter’s pregnancy is nobody’s business but her and her family’s, which makes the fact that he’s writing an article about said pregnancy in a nationally popular magazine rather odd. Would he like us better if we quit reading his article right then in solidarity? He then goes on to describe how they’re all real men in Alaska–hunting is apparently not something they do in any of those other 48 states, you know, the ones occupied by liberals and feminists, and Alaska also has people who’ve lost family members to industrial accidents and that go serve in Iraq, which again sets them quite apart from the 48 Contiguous Pussy States where that shit apparently hardly ever even comes up. The naturally flowing conclusion that he draws from all this is so that really, it is SO not a big deal to be an underaged mother. (You can almost hear him shout Isn’t this REFRESHING, readers??)

Yep, it gets even more unreal than that–don’t believe me? Here ya go:

The fact is, regardless of what you will hear over the next few days, Bristol [Palin]‘s pregnancy is not a legitimate political issue. Sarah Palin is a longterm member of a group called Feminists for Life, which is not opposed to birth control. So you probably can’t tag her for consigning young people to unwanted pregnancies.

Oh, my. You most certainly can, including that of her own daughter, unless you’re trying to stretch reality even further and claim that Bristol Palin is having a planned pregnancy. Let’s see, for instance, what Feminists for Life actually does have to say about contraception:

What is Feminists for Life’s position on contraception?
Feminists for Life’s mission is to address the unmet needs of women who are pregnant or parenting. Preconception issues including abstinence and contraception are outside of our mission.

Erm, but they DO have a stated position on, for instance, assisted suicide, which seems to be a leetle further afield from the topic of pregnancy than contraception is…come on, what’s the REAL reason—?

Some FFL members and supporters support the use of non-abortifacient contraception while others oppose contraception for a variety of reasons

Translated: not all of us have multiple kids, making indelicate questions about our contraceptive status unavoidable if we were to outright oppose it.

FFL is concerned that certain forms of contraception have had adverse health effects on women.

Translated: But if we can find a health link, no matter how dubious, we’re primed and ready to jump on that bandwagon at the slightest moment’s notice!!

But how about Sarah Palin herself?

Q. Will you support the right of parents to opt out their children from curricula, books, classes, or surveys, which parents consider privacy-invading or offensive to their religion or conscience?

Sarah Palin: Yes. Parents should have the ultimate control over what their children are taught.

Q. Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

Sarah Palin: Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.

You know, sometimes it is useful to actually get to see, so CLEARLY illustrated, where the fervent support of the above positions lands the daughters of those who practice said preachery. No theories or opinions here, folks! Real-life consequences of real-life philosophies.

And after all this, here is the conclusion that Nathan Thornburgh says he’s come to:

As for the idea — sure to be floated—that the avowedly anti-abortion Palin may have pressured her poor daughter to ruin her life by carrying an unwanted baby to term, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Is my favorite part of the above sentence the pooh-poohing of the idea that having a baby at age 17 might be quite life-altering in a negative way or that any girl forced to do so is a sarcastically pooor weeeetle thaaaaang, or is it that he thinks that it’s even possible that Bristol Palin was presented with all her choices in a rational and unbiased fashion?

(sigh) I’ll let you know when I figure that out…

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.

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.


How I Learned that the “P” in “PZ Myers” Stands for Paul

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

I’ve been following the Frackin’ Cracker story since its first appearance on the news, even before PZ’s first post on the subject. It’s turned into quite the bloody saga of PZ-hating (not to mention creative ways to desecrate a Holy Cracker) out there, with…oh, you guessed it…our bestest buddy Billdo carrying the lead torch and pitchfork to storm Pharyngula’s walls!

(First Kyso’s “ilk” and now PZ’s…wonder how many “ilks” I can associate myself with…I’m such a wannabe “ilker,” I’m ashamed, ashamed I tell you. I need to find my own person to offend.)

But anyway, PZ mentioned yesterday that there might be some mention of him in the Washington Times today. In case anyone was wondering what it would take for me to actually go online and deliberately try to find something written in the Washington Times, this is the first time that’s ever happened.

(A small side story: when I first moved to the DC area years and years ago, I bought a subscription to the Washington Post–even in Bumfuck Kansas where I grew up, I’d heard of the Post. My husband at the time remarked sniffily that I wasn’t going to get a complete unbiased picture of the news if all I did was read that bastion of blatant liberality and I should really also get a subscription to the Times as well–as I recall, he was motivated to suggest this from something some radio talk show host dude named G. Gordon Liddy said on his program. I pointed out to him that said dude might possibly have a personal reason to slam the Post, but I went ahead and bought a subscription to the Times anyway. I even tried to take the articles contained therein seriously, peppered with typos and grammatical errors as they were, but found myself unable to really swallow anything presented in such an incredibly unprofessional way regardless of the content that I gave up after a few issues. Maybe they’ve improved their print copy since then, though?)

Struck gold, too!

Professor solicits hosts to desecrate

With a super-cute picture of PZ even.

And I also now know that his first name is Paul. :)

An anti-religion Minnesota biology professor expects to receive dozens of consecrated Communion wafers in response to his public solicitation that people send him the hosts in order that he may publicly desecrate them.

They clearly pulled the wrong picture out of the archives. This one’s way more in the spirit of the story:


The University of Minnesota is coming over as pretty cool and sane, though, in spite of the obvious attempts by whomever was interviewing them to get them to say something juicy. Check it out.