when the status quo frustrates.

Fear and Hatred of the Other

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

I don’t understand it. Part of me doesn’t want to understand it, either; as with exploring the motives of pedophiles, it leaves me queasy and shaken in any kind of belief in the basic goodness of mankind. However, I should understand it in order to better combat it…I suppose…meh…it’s really hard to work up enthusiasm for plunging your hands into untreated sewage, you know?

Two news items today: One is Sarah Palin’s admittedly very funny Twitter debacle, where she confuses “not knowing what existing words mean” with “inventing new words.” Is she too stupid to be embarrassed? But aside from the vocabulary funzies, this was the sentiment:

Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.

I feel unprovoked and unstabbed. Really. Now, the case could be made that I am not a New Yorker and therefore, perhaps, am missing some special degree of angst that would make this all explicable; however, Sarah Palin’s not one either. And in my case, I was actually within some geographical proximity of 9/11 events. Anybody remember this..?


(The US Pentagon, 9/11)
…or this?


(Near miss of the US Capitol–in rural Pennsylvania about 20 minutes from DC)

There are lots of terrorists out there. I remember learning in the 5th grade that while all squares are rectangles, not all rectangles are squares. And in this case, it can’t even be claimed that well yes I’m sure not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists ARE Muslim, you know..! Neither Ted Kaczynski nor Timothy McVeigh were Muslims, for example. Since 1977, 41 abortion clinics have been bombed–forty-one!–and to the best of my knowledge, none of the bombers were even remotely Muslim. Among these were an abortion clinic and two physicians’ offices in Pensacola, Florida were bombed in the early morning of Christmas Day, 1984, by a quartet of young people (Matt Goldsby, Jimmy Simmons, Kathy Simmons, Kaye Wiggins) who later called the bombings “a gift to Jesus on his birthday.”

I’ve also heard the argument that the Koran encourages Muslims to kill unbelievers. Gee, now there’s a point. I mean, just listen to these!

Suppose you hear in one of the towns that God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.

If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.

Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.

They entered into a covenant to seek the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord their God was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

Oops, wait!…those are from the Bible.

This, and the ongoing furor over illegal immigrants, has really led me down a depressing path. “Several states” (reported variously as nine, ten or twelve depending on where I’m looking) are supposedly following Arizona’s lead in obsessing about their undocumented worker populations. Why the obsession..? I’ve heard it variously and defensively described as “Well they’re breaking the LAW don’t you CARE about the LAW?” (frequently put forth by people who regularly speed, jaywalk, cheat on their taxes and smoke weed–a rather selective reverence towards the LAW)

or

“Well they’re costing us MONEY WELFARE!” (Nevermind the fact that in 2008, the percentage of Arizona’s state budget going towards welfare was 12%…not exactly the lion’s share…and presumably even that isn’t somehow all being distributed to illegal aliens–how could it be?)

or

“Well they’re taking all our JOBS!” (FactCheck.org doesn’t agree.)

I’m pretty sure it all really boils down to one thing, and for that one thing, see the title of this post.

RacIsm

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

I’ve blogged less about racism than I have about sexism. This isn’t because I think racism is a less important issue than sexism; I don’t. It’s because I am steeped, like strong coffee, in my white privilege. In other words, I don’t blog about racism as much because I don’t think about racism as much because I don’t have to think about it as much because I personally am not confronted by it as much. For this we can thank my blue eyes, blonde hair and reasonably fair skin.

But today, for some reason, I am finding myself reading about racism at every turn. I shouldn’t say for some reason; one obvious reason is the passage of Arizona’s SB-1070, otherwise known as the Fuck All You Mexican-Looking Motherfuckers!!11! law. It’s having unsurprising fallout already even outside Arizona’s borders, and what’s really been boggling the mind (mine, anyway) is how supportive the Libertarian contingent has been about it. (The reason I’m aware of it is that my housemate, a self-identified Libertarian, is completely horrified by the evidence piling up daily that a lot of other, so-called Libertarians favor this law. He can’t understand that dynamic at all; to him it’s a clear-cut massive governmental infringement of citizen rights along the lines of the Patriot Act as well as a blatant crossing of the line between states’ rights and the constitutional jurisdiction of the federal government, though admittedly in the opposite direction of the usual infringement. Poor baby.)

I have some Facebook friends who are generally all about individual freedoms, but they’ve pretty much all also come out in support of Arizona. One even declared boldly that the opposition to the new immigration law makes him want to go visit there even MORE (this was in response to a link I posted about the RNC deciding against having their convention there, which is some tangy irony if there ever was any). As I pointed out in response, with his own mop of blonde hair and white skin, making such a, er, radical and rebellious trip into ShowMeYourPapers!OrIArrestYourAss!Land isn’t all that impresionante.

I do understand when people hold differing views from me, and under certain and specific conditions I have no difficulty respecting said differing views and even seeing quite clearly where they are coming from and generating a reasonable amount of empathy. However, there are those conditions…the one that is being massively and regularly violated for me now is the consistency condition. I have encountered this issue before–for instance, in the everlasting abortion debate. If you tell me, for instance, that you truly believe that developing human cells in utero are morally equivalent to a born human being and this is why you violently oppose abortion, I can absolutely comprehend where you are coming from…as long as you don’t also display stances ranging from total indifference to wild-eyed enthusiasm about killing off those living outside the womb, for instance, via state-administered executions or foreign war initiatives. I am sorry, but when your concern about the rights of citizens being egregriously violated by the government suddenly becomes gung-ho eagerness to jump right in and help the government do it if said citizens happen to have brown skin or speak English as a second language, my contempt begins to uncontrollably sprout up between us.

I admit, when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, while I wasn’t such a mooncalf as to even remotely credit the whole we’re now living in a post-racial America! meme, I did hope it was at least a small and permanent swipe at the underpinnings of white racism. However, I am becoming more and more convinced that the existence of a self-identified African-American President is actually acting like fertilizer on the apparently-unkillable weed infestation that is racism in America. Because of this

and this
and this
and this
and this
and this
and this

I didn’t necessarily think Obama’s presidency would make racism go away, but I didn’t think it would make it worse. (Was that the blindness of my white privilege again..?) Not that there are more racists now–ha! but that they’re all losing whatever it was that was preventing them from being utterly and unapologetically aggressive about it previously.

Is that a good thing? Now that it’s so much out in the open, will that make it easier to kill? Maybe–but, like the Arizona’s new laws, how many people are going to get really hurt in the process? And what if there’s not even an end that’s justifying these means?

Please, folks, stop doing this. Is it really that horrible to you that we have a black President? Is it..?

Luckily for Ann, speech rife with hypocrisy is TOTALLY protected by the First Amendment

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Normally I ignore Ann Coulter completely, but this is just too priceless to pass up. See, it appears that Ann is terribly, terribly upset by the evil deeds of the Westboro Baptist Church.

…[The Westboro Baptist Church is a] Kansas-based cult, consisting mostly of members of a single family, traveled to Maryland in order to stand outside Matthew’s funeral with placards saying things like, “God Loves Dead Soldiers,” “God Hates You,” “You’re Going to Hell,” “Semper Fi Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “Thank God for IEDs” and “God Hates Fags.

..Unlike many legal concepts, the tort of IIED is not an obscure legal doctrine written in pig Latin. It means what it says: speech or conduct specifically intended to inflict emotional distress. The usual description of the tort of IIED is that a reasonable man viewing the conduct would react by saying, “That’s outrageous!”

The Second Restatement of Torts (1965) defines IIED as conduct “so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”

…Thanks to idiot lawyers, who think it makes them sound smart to say “Black is white” and “Up is down,” one of the biggest problems in society today is the refusal to draw lines. Here’s a nice bright line: Holding malevolent signs outside the funeral of an American serviceman who died defending his country constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress.

(…excuse me, I’m having a wft?! moment..?)

This from the woman who has stated publicly, several times, that four specific women whose husbands died horrible deaths as firefighters trying to save the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack, areself-obsessed witches who enjoyed their husbands’ deaths?

Oh, but she does anticipate this. She, you know, only participated in the exact same outrageous, extreme, atrocious behavior while “publishing [her] views in a magazine, announcing them on a…radio program, proclaiming them on…”Countdown With Keith Olbermann”. Which makes it perfectly okay; the reason the Westboro Baptist Church should be slammed by the forces of Justice but she should be allowed to drip venom without so much as a hiccup is because, you know, the Westboro protesters were standing outside the soldier’s funeral doing it. All she did was list her targets’ names on national TV, public radio and in published print…over and over and over again…which is clearly much less specifically and personally directed with intent to inflict emotional distress!

Sorry, Ann. I can’t tell the difference between you and the Westboro Baptist Church, frankly. But maybe you could genuinely help the rest of us stop their insane, disgusting behavior–if you could tell us what would stop yours, then maybe we could put that information to good use shutting them up, too.

I’m all ears.

Not All The Whackadoodles Are Republican, Really!

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I WAS going to write a followup today on “Fun Feminism,” since I didn’t really get a chance to finish exploring the assumptions about monogamy and sexual self-control I brought up in the original post, but after yesterday’s exciting and informative trip to the MVA* I couldn’t resist blogging about this instead!

Photobucket

What the heck is that, you might ask? (And more pertinently, what is it doing on state property..? I shot them an email this morning asking that exact question–if I get an answer, I’ll definitely share it.) So I decided to take a closer look:

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Notice the awesome “Obama as Hitler” headshot on the far left!…so at this point I’m thinking “Teabaggers…I mean TeaPARTIERS**…oh sigh” but then I started to really look at the rest of the pictures…is that Franklin Roosevelt there perched on top of Obamahitler’s head..? And whattheheck is that map of the world with “New Bretton Woods” inked across it..? And–

While I was staring bemusedly at the table, one of the two guys manning it approached me. “We’re ready to kick Obama out of office!” he said enthusiastically. “How about you?”

“Er,” I said. “Um, so, who are you guys..?”

“We’re supporters of Lyndon LaRouche. We just got a representative elected in Texas…! Did you know that Obama’s conspiring to shut down NASA?” he demanded.

“Um, no–”

He didn’t object to me taking pictures, he said, but didn’t let me escape til I agreed to take the handouts he pressed upon me and give serious consideration to the merits of Lyndon LaRouche (I didn’t have the nerve to tell him I’d never heard of Lyndon LaRouche before in my whole life; dude was pretty wild-eyed at that point).

So who is Lyndon LaRouche? According to Wikipedia:

Lyndon Hermyle LaRouche, Jr. (pronounced /ləˈruːʃ/; born September 8, 1922) is an American self-styled economist, political activist, and the founder of several political organizations known collectively as the LaRouche movement. He has been a perennial candidate for President of the United States, having run in eight elections since 1976, once as a U.S. Labor Party candidate and seven times as a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. He is the founder and contributing editor of the Executive Intelligence Review, and has written prolifically on economic, scientific, and political topics, as well as on history, philosophy, and psychoanalysis.

Okay…

He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations, but continued his political activities from behind bars until his release in 1994 on parole. His defenders believe the prosecution was a politically motivated conspiracy involving government officials and a mass-media brainwashing campaign.[1] His appellate attorney, Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. Attorney General, argued that the case represented an unprecedented abuse of power by the U.S. government in an effort to destroy the LaRouche movement.[2]

LaRouche provokes sharply contrasting views. His supporters see him as a political leader in the tradition of Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr., and a brilliant thinker who has been unfairly persecuted, while critics regard him as a cult leader, a conspiracy theorist, a fascist, and an anti-Semite.[3] Norman Bailey, formerly with the National Security Council, described LaRouche’s staff in 1984 as one of the best private intelligence services in the world, while the Heritage Foundation has said that he leads “what may well be one of the strangest political groups in American history.”[4]

Indeed! So what would a LaRouche presidency strive to bring us..?

#colonization of the planet Mars by 2025
#the screening and quarantine of AIDS patients
#low interest rates and opposition to the Gramm-Rudman balanced-budget law
#opposition to environmentalism, health maintenance organizations, outcome-based education, gay rights, abortion, and the nuclear disarmament movement
#opposition to the legalization of recreational drugs
# opposition to the idea of man-made global warming–LaRouche proposes that cosmic ray radiation, including that from the Crab Nebula, “determines much of the climate on Earth”.
# opposition to the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
# opposition to deregulation. According to EIR, “LaRouche has consistently called for reregulation of utilities, transportation, health care (under the “Hill-Burton” standard), the financial (especially the speculative markets) and other sectors, and a return to traditional American-System practices, set aside over the past 40 years.”
# opposition to the United Nations and any other international organization
# proposal of the “Homeowners and Banks Protection Act of 2007,” which would freeze mortgage rates, ban foreclosures and put the banking system through a bankruptcy reorganization.

Wowie! …hey, at least it explains both the NASA remark and the picture of FDR proudly adorning the top of their table. Definitely NOT Republican, in spite of the hatin’ on gay people and abortion and global warming! …you learn something new every day, you know…

*That’s “Motor Vehicle Administration,” for those of you living in states that use the more traditional “DMV” appelation (Department of Motor Vehicles).

**For those of you who are under the impression that the “Tea” Party isn’t just a particularly fussy faction of the “Republican” Party but is actually an independent political party, I don’t know how else to put this to you…you’re wrong.

…but you know, it’s really kind of okay to “call a bunch of people who are retards, retards!” As long as it’s Rush Limbaugh doing it.

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Photobucket

Remember this?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rahm Emanuel called liberal activists who wanted to run ads against conservative Democrats “f—— retarded” in a closed-door meeting at the White House. On her Facebook page, Palin likened Emanuel’s “slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities” to using the “N-word,” something she deemed “unacceptable” and “heartbreaking.” Emanuel later issued an apology to Special Olympics chairman and CEO Tim Shriver.

However, Palin’s conservative cohort Rush Limbaugh took offense to people, presumably including Palin, protesting Emanuel’s remark. On his radio show, Limbaugh lamented that “our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards.” That comment caused Greg Sargent to request a reaction from Palin’s spokeswoman.

Yesterday, when asked for comment on Limbaugh’s use of the “r” word in a recent broadcast, Palin spokeswoman told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post, “Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name-calling at the expense of others is disrespectful.”

BUT!

Today, Stapleton claims the statement was meant generally and she was not specifically referring to Limbaugh.

…I mean, if he’s gonna tirelessly promote her new book after also tirelessly promoting her for Veep during the 2008 elections...it’s not like he’s some kind of nasty, sneaking D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t, after all!

Once more, I’m only shocked that everyone else is pretending to be. They ARE just pretending, right..?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Many years ago, not too long after my military enlistment ended and back when I got most of the news from actual newspapers made of paper, I was confronted with the following headline:

SEX SCANDAL AT ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS!!!

I was remembering reading the story–in case everyone’s forgotten about it, the gist was that

at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a United States Army base in Aberdeen, Maryland…the Army brought charges against 12 commissioned and non-commissioned male officers for sexual assault on female trainees under their command.

Specifically, a bunch of drill sergeants had been having sex with a bunch of female trainees, with varying degrees of consent on the parts of the trainees. Now, this did not surprise me at all, but what did was the way it was being reported–as if it was a huge shocker, unbelievable!! etc. etc.

Mostly I remember just sitting there, staring at the story, and trying to swallow the fact that anybody, anybody at all was shocked by this. Maybe, I remember trying to think charitably at the time, the reporters on this case had absolutely zero familiarity with the military..? Because boy howdy, anybody who’d ever actually served in the Army knew quite well that Army basic training was a big ol’ sex fest of male drill sergeants and female trainees, right? In my basic training unit, one of our drill sergeants was having sex with at least four of the girls that I knew of, and another was having what could most gently be described as an emotional affair with a fifth, and another drill sergeant, not in my platoon but in my company, actually got married to a sixth girl after she graduated from training.

And yeah, the degrees of consent were variable. The time that the first drill sergeant collapsed our tent on me and a squadmate when we were out in the field and then, after I crawled out, crawled in with her and stayed there for about twenty minutes–that was absolutely consensual, to the best of my knowledge. The time I got sent back to the barracks to retrieve something or other and a girl in one of the other squads in my platoon was sitting on her bunk staring blankly at nothing..? Less so–

Me: Brady*, what are you doing here? Are you sick?
Private Brady, about five feet tall and ninety pounds soaking wet with big blue eyes and freckles, all of eighteen years old: No…I was waxing the floor, and Drill Sergeant Morris* came in, and told me that after I finished the floor I had fifteen minutes to get all the toilets in the bathroom clean enough to eat off of.
Me: Seriously?
Private Brady: I told him I didn’t think I could do it and he said I’d better do it, or I’d better learn how to fuck.
Me, only eighteen myself and totally bewildered: Oh. Wow. What did you do?
Private Brady: We fucked.
Me: Oh. …are you okay?
Private Brady: I guess so. (went back to staring blankly at nothing)

And, of course, there was graduation night, when we all got a four-hour pass to hit the base and wound up at the enlisted club, and another cycle (all male, as ours was all female–Army basic training used to be sex-segregated, the trainees anyway) that was graduating invited us to a party that two of their drill sergeants were having for them in a hotel room–I didn’t go, but some other girls did. When midnight rolled around (the expiration of our four-hour pass), two of them were missing. They did finally show up at the barracks a few hours later, though–one shoved past everyone and ran into the showers, where you could hear her screaming as she tore off her clothes and started viciously scrubbing herself, and the other one flung herself into my arms and started shaking hard enough to bruise my chin with the top of her head, though without making a single sound. The first girl managed to wash away most, though not all, of the evidence of her gang rape before the MPs showed up, but I kept a firm grip on the second girl after some advice from the cold-eyed female drill sergeant from another platoon that was first on the scene, and I heard later they got plenty of evidence off of her body.

My basic training experience was quite representative, really–so you can see why I was sitting there shocked that anybody else was shocked. I mean, everybody knew…we all knew everybody knew.

I had a similar experience last night, reading the following headline:

Uninsured trauma patients are much more likely to die

The risk of dying from traumatic injuries is 80% higher for those without any insurance, a study says. ER physicians say they’re surprised by the findings.

O RLY?

Patients who lack health insurance are more likely to die from car accidents and other traumatic injuries than people who belong to a health plan — even though emergency rooms are required to care for all comers regardless of ability to pay, according to a study published today.

The researchers also did a separate analysis of 209,702 trauma patients ages 18 to 30 because they were less likely to have chronic health conditions that might complicate recovery. Among these younger patients, the risk of death was 89% higher for the uninsured, the study found.

Rosen, now a surgical resident at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, said the group expected to find at least some disparity based on insurance status. But she said the group was surprised at the magnitude of the gap.

Dr. Frank Zwemer Jr., chief of emergency medicine for the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, Va., said he was “kind of shocked.”

“Kind of” shocked? Gee, because I’m not shocked at all.

“We don’t ask people, ‘What’s your insurance?’ before we decide whether to intubate them or put in a chest tube,” said Zwemer, who wasn’t involved in the research. “That’s not on our radar anywhere.”

Good God. Did you just spear somebody on your nose, Pinocchio? The very first thing they do when you go to an ER is admit you, and before they ever ask you what’s wrong with you (but, I admit, usually after they ask you for your name) is if you have insurance. If you are unable to speak, they ask whoever has brought you in. LONG before they offer you any medical treatment. I speak from personal experience.

Well, I guess I should be glad that they’re willing to pretend this is some kind of news flash, right? Nothing like emphasizing your dirty laundry as publicly as possible to raise the chances of someone with actual power and authority being willing to do something about it, even if everybody did really already know all about it. Let’s hear it for the pressure of public shame.

But I’m not willing to go along with the pretense. Of course they all knew about it already, just like we all knew already about what went on in Army training barracks. Of course they did.

Disgusting.

*Names changed. Duh.

Your elitism is showing–! Here, let me tuck that back down into your collar for you. I’m shocked your valet let you out the door like that!

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

This article is so transparent it’s hard to believe we’re expected to take it seriously, but I suspect we are–much like when John Kerry, during his failed presidential bid some years ago, movingly asked, “And who among us doesn’t like NASCAR?”*

It’s pretty much a fail from the get-go; what amazes me is that anyone bothered to write this article at all.

A Recipe for Riches
by Duncan Greenberg
Friday, October 9, 2009

Want to become a tech titan or hedge fund tycoon?

Well yes, of course, who wouldn’t? And it’s really an option for all you Joe and Jane Sixpacks too—

Up your chances by dropping out of college

!!!! See?!? Most of you already got that part covered, don’tcha?

(and in a mumble)

or going to Harvard and working at Goldman Sachs.

(Oh yeah, those too! But let’s speed rapidly on past those parts—)

(more…)

How To Take a Quote Completely Out of Context

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I haven’t written much about religion lately, mostly because I am the midst of a personal spiritual journey–saying so just like that here sounds remarkably pretentious, I can’t help but notice. :) BUT the point is, until I’m done…well, I don’t suppose I’ll ever quite be done, but…until I’m rather more settled on the precise direction of said journey, I haven’t wanted to try to tease out any coherent sentences on the topic. But I really couldn’t resist this.

As Jeff at Alas, A Blog says, it is pretty interesting to see Jesus presenting the Constitution of the United States to the admiring multitudes a la Moses and the Ten Commandments…er, what a creative idea! On so many levels. But really, my favorite part is the collection of quotes included on the page, demonstrating that no matter what somebody says, you absolutely can twist it around to mean whatever it is you really want it to mean! (Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Abraham Lincoln? Not a Founding Father. Born, as a matter of fact, 22 years after the signing of the Constitution…I guess all that ancient history just starts to blur together in the minds of idiots the zealous…)

My favorite quote is the one presented from Thomas Jefferson, to wit:

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed from their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?” — Thomas Jefferson

HA! CLEARLY Jefferson is saying that atheism is a threat to the liberties of our nation (!!11!) Believe and believe NOW, ye heathens, or the wrath of God and State shall fall upon thee..!

…um. Well. Actually…no…if you want to see the whole, entire quote:

“The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such circumstances. And with what execrations should the statesman be loaded who, permitting one half the citizens thus to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part and the amor patriae of the other. For if a slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other in preference to that in which he is born to live and labor for another: in which he must lock up the faculties of his nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual endeavors to the evanishment of the human race or entail his own miserable condition on the endless generations proceeding from him. With the morals of the people, their industry is also destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself who can make another labor for him. This is so true that, of the proprietors of slaves, a very small proportion are ever seen to labor. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure, when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?

Slavery, folks. Slavery was the threat to the liberties of our nation, and Jefferson was actually decrying the Christianity-based reasoning that far too many proponents of slavery used to justify keeping other human beings in a state of mean and miserable servitude. But context, schmontext! The word “God” is in there, dammit, and that’s good enough for us..!

Sigh.

Wow. Just…wow.

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Shorter Glenn Beck: I’m channeling Sarah Palin! though the blatant-yet-cunning racism I manage to display here may be tipping the scales on my Stupid/Evil Ratio more heavily towards the E.

(hat tip Pam)

It’s Banned Books Week!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I love Banned Books Week! Some of my favorite books of all time are banned books…I mean, check out this list of classics! Admittedly, a lot of the banning action took place decades ago, but lest anyone think we’ve relaxed our deathgrip on the minds of our children in this new millenium, here are a nice collection of more recent incidents to sneer at:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Sallinger: Removed by a Dorchester District 2 school board member in Summerville, SC (2001) because it “is a filthy, filthy book.”

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck*: Banned from the George County, Miss. schools (2002) because of profanity.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Challenged in Foley, Alabama (2000) because of the depictions of “orgies, self-flogging, suicide” and characters who show “contempt for religion, marriage, and the family.” The book was removed from the library, pending review.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: Burned in Alamagordo, N. Mex. (2001) outside Christ Community Church along with other Tolkien novels as satanic.

If you’re interested in the most up-to-date reporting on the 2008 open season on communication of unapproved ideas, the American Library Association puts out a yearly list of the books that are challenged, restricted, removed or banned–see if your favorites are on there too!

Leaving you with the bittersweet taste of irony, from January of this year. Enjoy!

*I might sympathize with an attempt to ban it from required reading lists–yes, it was on mine in high school–based on the fact that it sucks ass and there are at least one hundred more interesting and compelling novels that could immediately and happily replace it…but no, I have to defend John Steinbeck’s biggest load of crap evar based on principle. A shame, but there you have it.

Oh Poker, Thy Name is Misogyny

Monday, September 14th, 2009

I don’t think I’ve discussed that aspect of poker much in the past, though I’m sure that nobody is surprised to hear that it is a very large part of the poker culture. Of the poker professionals out there, very few are female, and those who are generally frame themselves as the sex-kitten-who-just-happens-to-play-poker–it’s a great hook and makes them a lot of dough via sponsors–generally what I think of as the Danica Patrick marketing strategy. (Jennifer Harman is one exception to that, but I honestly can’t think of any others right now.)

I am not infrequently the only woman at my table when I play poker, and even when I’m not, there’s rarely more than one other (there are usually eight to ten people at a table total). I’ve gotten spoiled, though–I’ve mostly been playing with the same pool of folks now for a couple of years, so they all know me–they know that how I play has absolutely nothing to do with any gender dynamics they might want to introduce to the situation, let’s say. However, Saturday night, I wound up making it all the way to the final table in the tourney I was in–in fact, made it to the point where there was only one other player left and me competing for the win.

I didn’t (and still don’t) know the guy’s name–he wasn’t someone I’d ever played with before. We’d just spent about forty minutes together at the final table, but we hadn’t been in any hands together (it’s not unusual not to be in any hands with me for forty minutes–I am a folding machine). I do recall, though, when he looked up from his chips and realized that there was nobody else left at the table but him and me–he fixed his gaze on mine and got the biggest, brightest smile on his face. Then he pushed out a pile of chips–a big one, about a third of his stack. “I’m betting this,” he said, grinning at me.

“Can’t,” I said. The tournament director had come over to shuffle and deal for us and was busy with the cards. “You can’t straddle* in this league.”

He ignored me. “Hey, W,” I said to the director. “No straddling, right?”

“Nope,” said the director, and flicked a glance over at my competitor. “Put ‘em back.”

Still grinning, he lazily pulled his chips back to his main pile, one and two at a time. “But that’s what I’m gonna bet,” he said.

Oh sigh. I ignored him til the cards were dealt; without so much as a glance down at his own, he tossed out a similar pile of chips–if he’d put the smirk away while I hadn’t been looking, it was back full force now, coupled with a pointed stare deep into my eyes.

I peeked under my cards. Queen-ten suited–not a monster, by any means–but–”Oh,” I said, and looked up at him, and finally grinned back at him with the biggest wattage I could muster. “Well. I’m all in.” I scooped up my entire chip stack and placed it carefully in front of my cards.

His grin vanished abruptly, just like it’d been slapped off his face (which it pretty much had). “Oh really,” he said.

“Really,” I said. I was feeling genuinely cheerful now. Slowly, he looked under his cards, then back up at me–no intently smirking stare now, one couldn’t help but notice.

“Really,” he said.

“Yep,” I said. I blinked innocently at him. “You might wanna look at your cards first, before you bet, next time…”

The girl sitting next to him watching, who hadn’t said a word all evening, suddenly grinned. “I like her,” she said.

Now, what just happened..?

Well, if you play poker, you know. It is a very common, and honestly a very successful, strategy, to identify the weak player (or weaker players, if you’re lucky and there’s more than one) at a table and bully him (or them). A weak player is a fearful player, who unless he has the absolute nuts** can usually be frightened out of a hand by a show of aggression. There is nothing wrong with doing this; it’s part of the game.

However, you should never confuse weak with tight. A tight player will fold to a raise if he doesn’t have pot odds–and sometimes other players will misunderstand this and mistakenly think that they have scared him out of the hand, rather than it being a reasoned mathematical decision. However, it usually doesn’t take long for them to realize their mistake–all it takes is trying to push him out with bad cards on a bluff, getting called and losing chips to teach them a valuable (if sometimes painful) lesson.

Another thing you should never do, that male players often regularly attempt on any new female player until they are thrashed out of the possession of this very bad idea, is assume that a player can be intimidated by them simply because she is a woman. And it was so, so painfully obvious that was the dynamic that even our casual female spectator got quite a kick out of watching him get caught out stark naked on it.

*”Straddle” means, technically, to bet double the big blind before the cards are dealt–it’s also used more generally just to mean betting at all before the cards are dealt, though.
**”Nuts” are the best possible hand at that point in the game.

Oh, My Favorite! Yes, Please, a Double Helping of That Fatophobia Would Be SO Nice–

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Maybe I should just go back to being a hermit…

Regina Benjamin’s Country Credentials: What Rural Medicine Taught America’s Next Top Doc

Since starting her practice in 1990, Benjamin, 52, has become an advocate for patients everywhere. She became the first African-American woman to lead a state medical society and has won numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and a Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. Still, she never strayed far from her roots, and currently serves as the CEO of Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, which she founded. This week, President Obama tapped Benjamin to serve as surgeon general.

Well, that’s cool, I thought to myself. We are living in historic times…the first serious female Presidential contender…the first black man elected President…the first Latina soon to be confirmed to the Supreme Court…not that Regina Benjamin would be the first black woman to be chosen as Surgeon General, but she would be only the second one…

So I’m feeling a mild warmth towards humanity in general as I scan down the story…til I get to the very, very end:

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Member Comments
Posted By: pdskep (July 16, 2009 at 12:51 PM)

Well, it didn’t help her put down the Hagen Dazs. Should the government spokesperson for public health and healthy living be so grossly overweight?

Huh?

So I scrolled rapidly back up–I had noticed a picture of the Surgeon-General-to-be at the top of the article but had given it only a cursory glance, and honestly couldn’t remember having noticed that she weighed 1000 pounds–

OMG!! IT’S JABBA THE FUCKING HUTT!

…er, not. Well, I thought, maybe that’s a flattering picture of her and she’s somehow managing to hide the other 750 pounds below her neck. Let’s look for a whole-body shot–

…er, still not.

Aside from the fact that she’s not “grossly overweight” (hello?), why does her weight really matter, exactly..? Her weight specifically. Is the concern that the kids of America will look at her and go oooh look, the Surgeon General’s fat, that means it’s okay for me to be fat too! Yeah, because that’s what kids tend to base their eating decisions on…the Surgeon General’s weight. (Like the vast majority of kids, and adults if it comes down to that, even know who the Surgeon General is at any given moment.)

Is the concern that, because she is physically clearly not perfect, then her brain and her conscience and her dedication (which are presumably the things she was actually chosen for) are also not going to be perfect? (That raises the interesting corollary that someone whose weight is perfect, is more likely to have a perfect brain, conscience and dedication as well…oh really…?)


Because people with the magic BMI number are SO much more likely to be both smart AND saintly!

I am not the only one who has noticed this trend and commented on it–no indeed:

Since President Obama announced his pick for the nation’s Top Doc, Internet message boards have been atwitter with the observation that Dr. Regina Benjamin is fat.

Critics seem to believe it’s ironic that the nation’s top doctor would be overweight, and it’s led the most nattering of nags to conclude that she should not be picked for prom queen, er, I mean, surgeon general.

Thank God, too. C’mon, people, let’s make some noise–this is fatophobia at its most disgusting, and most ignorant as well. Spread the word.