Saturday, January 31, 2009

We only had two--imagine 14,000

Despite Sarah Palin's delusion otherwise, we had only two choices in November: Obama or McCain. (I'm not counting the libertarian candidate, sorry).

The elections in Iraq wrapped up without "major" violence today. They had 14,000 candidates running for 440 council seats all over Iraq. A full 1/4 of the candidates were women, too. In case you missed the news last night:

There was a skirmish over whether or not a voter could bring a cell phone into a polling place. I guess it isn't that outrageous considering cell phones are many Iraqis' only means of communication and when you think about teenagers getting shot for their Air Jordans not that long ago.

A few bombs were disarmed, some mortars exploded near a polling place (no casualties). I suppose that could be categorized as no "major" violence.

And here we thought long lines and under-staffed poling places were bad?

The preliminary results won't be in until Tuesday. Then we'll see what happens in terms of how they cope with outcomes (think Coleman vs Franken only with lots and lots of AK47s).

I'm grateful they had elections and hope that things turn out well.

In our own world of politics

Seems the GOP has a new leader. He's got a bit of an identity crisis, which apparently the GOP is willing to overlook. Only two years ago in his Senatorial campaign he used the word "Republican" only twice, and even distributed signs that read simply: "Steele: Democrat". So, it appears as though the GOP has its first African American Leader (who also happens to be a closeted Democrat). I don't know how much you know about this guy, but I think he's an ass. But then again, look who his chums are.

I cannot wait to get online today and read the uproar in the right-wing-nutteries.

It's a good day, this Saturday January 31.

Hope it's good for you all, too.


Friday, January 30, 2009

A post written with both hands

Yes, I confess. I am a Lefty.

I am one of five children, all of whom displayed an early tendancy for the left appendage.

My grandmother (paternal) told my Dad: "Left-handed people have a hard time getting along in a right-handed world."

So, every time any of my three sisters or brother started picking up a crayon, fork, ball, with their left hands, my parents would gently admonish them, and they "encouraged" use of their right hands. I now have four right-handed siblings.

I'm the only hold-out. But as a result of all my parents' valiant efforts to save me from a life of left-handed misery, I am pretty much ambidextrous.

Some things you "rightys" out there might not even think about:

  • Most door knobs and locks are on the right side of any door.
  • People give oaths raising their right hand.
  • Musical instruments are all made for right-handed people (even the piano; the majority of the scale is played with the right hand).
  • People shake hands with the right hand.
  • Mouse(s) for computers are geared (and in some cases molded) toward right-handed use.
  • Good things are done by the "Right Hand of God".
  • To be seated to the right of someone in power is considered a compliment.
  • Scissors are (generally) made for right-handed people; as the only left-handed child in my grade school class, there was only one pair of left-handed scissors and they went in a separate box :( .
  • Spiral bound notebooks are made for right-handed people.
  • Power buttons tend to be on the right side of things with a power button.
  • Light switches in rooms tend to be on the right side in the door (as you face out of a room).

I'm not asking for pity; but do one thing.

Try to use your mouse with your left hand (if you're right-handed).

That's how the world feels to me every day (but I'm used to it by age 37).

I wonder if the whole right-brain, left brain thing is true? Check it out; it's pretty cool.

I wonder what it means for someone like me who's ambidextrous?

Happy Friday


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Imagine weighing less than 1/5 of 1 ounce...

... and on your first excursion, you fly 2,000 miles to a place you've never seen.

I saw the most incredible Nova on Tuesday on the flight of the Monarch Butterfly.

These are amazing creatures. I had to post on them because they really got to me.

Here's why.

The first generation is hatched on a remote mountainside in eastern Mexico, south of Texas. This generation flies north to the southern US, lives for one month, shedding it's skin five times (the fifth time it turns into a butterfly), breeds, then dies.

The second generation flies north to the middle of the US, about as far north as southern Illinois. The same pattern happens. They live for one month, shedding their skin five times. After emerging from their chrysalis as a butterfly they mate, lay eggs, and die.

Repeat for the third generation, but this group flies north into Canada.

The fourth generation lives longer. And does something miraculous.

After they emerge as butterflies, they fly 2,000 miles south back to Mexico to the SAME PLACE where the first generation was hatched. And I'm not talking about a scattered incident. These creatures simultaneously synchronize their migration from all over Canada, make an unimaginable flight over lakes, rivers, some survive fierce mid-west summer storms, to arrive on that mountainside in Mexico on the SAME day!

I was balling. Yes, I cried like a baby, with my mouth hanging open.

(A bit of PMS).

But, I think it was more than that.

Think about it.

A feather-light, delicate creature undertakes an Odyssey to a place it's never seen, on a flight longer than they've ever taken. All to spend the winter in Mexico before breeding in March and dying.

They fly to the same endangered forest and cling to the trees for warmth for five months; festooning the branches and limbs in orange and black and white:

Click on the image above: those trees are COVERED in butterflies.

It made me think; if a tiny, fragile creature can accomplish that incredible feat, what are the possibilities for a human being? Limitless...

PS: I don't know how to link music here (or if I even have the ability with my version of Windows on a PC), but this makes me think of Sting's song "Fragile". As humans we are so vulnerable and so amazing at the same time. We are the universe looking at itself.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Warning: DO NOT drink a beverage while reading this

First, something serious.
If you want to do something about Flush Limberger, there's an online petition to sign here.

Tom sent me this link yesterday right before he had to teach. (We got loads of snow and I was hoping like a third grader they would cancel class so he'd get home before 10:30PM-- he's teaching Astronomy again this semester so they have to hold class at night. Stupid stars keeping my husband out so late :)

According to his email subject line (and I quote directly): "Funniest sh*t I've read in a while"

I love Tom.


Council and housing association complaints

The following are real extracts from actual complaint letters sent to various councils and housing associations throughout the UK.

I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage, and their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was bad wind the other night that blew them off.

My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand.

I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant. We are getting married in September and we would like it in the garden before we move into the house.

I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.

50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and the rest are plain filthy.

I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.

The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

Would you please send a man to repair my spout. I am an old age pensioner and need it badly.

I want to complain about the farmer across the road; every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up, and its now getting too much for me.

The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man I have on top of me every night.

Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

I have had the clerk of the works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.

This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broken and we can’t get BBC2.

My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it,

… and he’s got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.

... that is his excuse for dogs mess that I find hard to swallow.

Happy, Happy Hump Day

PS: As if we needed another reason to be proud of our new prez, The Equal Pay for Equal Work bill will pass today. Tomorrow, it will be the first bill signed by our new president. It is indeed a new day in America!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Local food pantry donation boxes vandalized

I live near Indianapolis and recently there has been an outbreak of food donation box vandalism.

This is scary. And sad.

I mean, come on. How low do you have to go to STEAL FOOD from POOR PEOPLE?

Those donations usually go to people at homeless shelters. Talk about kicking someone when they're down.

1.37 million of the total homeless population in USA are children under the age of 18. 40% are families with children, 41% are single males, 14% are single females. Source: International Journal of Psychosocial Research, 2008.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 23 and 40% of those homeless people are Veterans.

Let that sink in a moment.

I recall when I lived in Boston a friend of mine took in a homeless woman.

Yes, took her into her dorm room.

She gave her food from the dining hall, clean clothes, blankets and even tried (can't remember if she succeeded) to let her use her mailing address so she could get a job.

The way things look in this country right now, this problem is not going away anytime soon.

I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but today we have a balmy high of 20.

Thought for the day: Show your gratitude for the bounty in your life by donating personal hygiene products, non-perishable food, and or clothes (jackets, gloves, etc.) to your local homeless shelter.

You'll be glad you did.


No, No, Citigroup

One more reason to be proud that we have a president that gives a sh*t what happens with the TARP funds.

On Monday after the news of the outrageous Citigroup purchase of a $50 million private jet, the Obama administration called Citigroup CEOs and told them to "fix it".

I wonder if they're going to re-hire all those folks they laid off in order to secure funds for the jet?

Probably not, but think of the good PR...


Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm a goin' home

Yes, today's the day I go back home.

I feel bad for Rocky (the dog I am sitting). He has really missed his mommy. I don't give him food off my plate or give him as much love as she does. He's a bit OCD: LICKS non-stop. And I'm not just talking himself. Couch. Carpet. Walls. Chairs. At this very moment he's concentrating intently on a small patch of carpet between his front paws that he's just spent the last 10 minutes licking non-stop.

So it seems not much is new in the world.

Economy is still in the shitter.

Blagojevich will not go away.

The banks are still spending OUR money on outrageous things. Citi just spent $50,000,000 on a corporate jet; me and numbers:

$50,000,000.00 (fifty MILLION)

Out of the already:

$45,000,000,000.00 (forty-five BILLION)

we've already thrown at them.

It's disgusting.

I'm no economist, but I'll bet they'd spend less on flying commercial; think of all those airline tickets the airlines WON'T sell because Citi decided they needed a


corporate jet to fly their greedy asses wherever it is they wish to go.

Where does your income fit into that number? Mine (really my hubby's since I am unemployed at the moment) barely clears five figures (not including the cents).

My sister-in-law lost her job with them right before X-Mas. No notice. Sorry, Jenn. Citi needed a jet more than it needed you.

Just goes to show you where their priorities are. Who cares about people and their jobs and livelihoods which pay for boring stuff like food, and mortgage, and doctor bills with two little boys? We need a big fancy jet to fly to the Bahamas to make a little deposit.

You know those private jets aren't subject to customs, right?

Sure they have to tell the airport who's on the plane, but who's going to take time to look at the suitcases full of cash in the hold? Rich people get their asses kissed everywhere they go. This will be no different. Heck, Paulson said the government didn't need to oversee the banks with any formal commission. The banks can regulate themselves. Isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place? That's right, the banks DO NOT have to tell the government what they are spending the money on BEFORE they spend it.

When are we going to stop being such suckers!?

I just made myself so sick I'm off to write to my congress-people yet again.

They aren't hearing us. Anyone up for a protest in DC to stop the blank check going to our banking institutions?


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dancing with Sheeple

Sheeple: People who follow along with a group think mentality without questioning--anything.

My husband surprised me yesterday evening by driving down to where I am house sitting. It was very sweet. We had a great dinner and watched Burn After Reading. Soooo not what I expected (the movie and, well, Tom, too), but good.

The title for this post was provided by Tom. He and I spent hours last night talking about the state of our country, the internet and how information and meaning are made and shared online. The technical term for it in my field is "epistemology" but the medium of the internet and the personnas people adopt when online has complicated things a bit.

See, I've come across quite a few people online lately that:

1. Think intellectualism=elitism.

2. Liberal=dirty, bad, evil, devil-worshippers

3. Science=Satan

The fact that so many people now have access to information online has changed people's perceptions of it. Notice, I used the word "information".

Information does not equal knowledge or truth.

Knowledge is not something that is locatable. It is sometimes found in books, or in online, peer-reviewed journals, but knowledge is a very personal process. And an active one at that.

Meaning has changed quite a bit, too.

But what Tom and I discussed until 2AM was how rigid some people are in their thinking, how LITERAL.

Point, skyewriter, get to the point. (Sorry, I'm on a bit of a tear today.)

Okay, so what it comes down to is this: I don't tend to hang out a lot with people who don't look at the world the way I do. I think people should have freedom of speech. They are entitled to own a gun (with proper licensing and background checks). People are allowed to believe/not believe in a higher being in whatever way they fancy. Everyone is created equal and therefore under our Constitution should be afforded each and every civil liberty regardless of faith, sexual orientation, gender, or race. If someone wants to have consensual, greased hog chasing in the privacy of their own home, they are allowed. If people want to have nekkid poker parties in the privacy of their own home, they are allowed. If someone wants to put their kitchen table in the living room instead of in their kitchen, by gum, they are allowed to do it. And in the last (almost) three months since I started this blog I have met many people who see the world very similarly to me.

However, I have also met many who see the world so differently I think they must be living on another planet. Academia is a space of debate and discussion. People are okay when they disagree.

Yet, my online experiences recently have confronted me with people with whom I cannot have a reasoned argument without them spouting scripture at me. In my mind, that's the cue, "Let's dance. It's on. You've been served."

And man, do they get pissed when you don't agree.

I find at times it's hard to be civil to folks who attack me; I'm learning, but it's a challenge when someone's every response is:

"It's in the Bible." ....................."It's in the Bible."................. "It's in the Bible."

Hey, guess what, there's lots of homosexuals in this country who live completely fulfilling and productive lives and nope; that's not in the Bible, but neither are the internet, cell phones, or x-ray machines. And the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. People have rocks and stuff like fossils to prove it.

I am very unused to this, because in most every field, the Bible is not taken as a reliable source for knowledge. I can point them to journal articles or books to verify my position, but time and time again I find sheeple retreating behind the Bible as if it is some mystical trump card over every other position in an argument.

Too, these folks aren't even OPEN to the notion that there is truth outside that book that really contradicts it. Empirically and everything.

So, what's so bad about this?

Well, there is a growing "movement" in this country where fundies and literalists are talking about HOLY WAR. Yes, you read that right. On blogs and websites using SOLELY the Bible as the means for their rationale, people are talking about gathering troops, joining the resistance, buying all the guns you can, and the organizations are looking more and more militant.

Staunch fundamentalists (Tom found a recent study and as soon as he emails the citation to me I'll post it here) are unable to think abstractly. They would rather be told what to do by someone who is like them, than to have to think for themselves (i.e., sheeple). This is what I think I've been witnessing on a scale I've never seen before. And frankly, it scares the crap out of me. I'm worried we have in our midst crackpots along the lines of Tim McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski, or David Koresh who are plotting terrible things against their fellow citizens and their country.

I don't think everyone has to have a college education to be smart. I don't think everyone with a degree in higher education is automatically a genius, either.

But I do think this is a secular society and it was founded on secular principles (Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11 for any RWFN who want to pick a fight; check out the Library of Congress American newspaper collection from that time, too. 100% governmental and social consensus).

Government is there to protect us in times of war, manage the common services and infrastructure (schools, roads, police stations, firehouses, etc.), and deliver our mail. That's it.

As far as everything else goes, the government needs to butt out.

To borrow a phrase from that gem, chocked full o' wisdom film, Dirty Dancing (yes, I'm gonna do it):

"This is my dance space.... this is your dance space."

If you don't like my dancing, don't dance with me. If you don't know how to dance stay the hell off the floor.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

How to stump an anti-abortionist with ONE question

I just had to post this. Thanks, Arlene!

Isn't logic grand?


The spa that wasn't there: Part 1

A few years ago my dearest friend's husband (Jack) wanted to do something nice for his wife for her birthday in May. My dear friend (let's call her Juanita) asked if he would splurge for us to go to a spa retreat for a long weekend. I am thinking of that time because I am currently house/dog sitting for her. There's a picture of us from that trip on the computer desk that I keep looking at and smiling.

Her generous husband obliged and soon Juanita and I were off to Guadalajara, Mexico for three days of massages, good food, and margaritas by the pool. The spa boasted about the "natural spring waters" and healing energy that dwelled there.

Or so we were led to believe by the brochure.

After we landed in Mexico and cleared customs, we got on a tour-style bus (very nice) with a group of 38 other women. The pavement disappeared and the bus started climbing higher and higher on a steep dirt road-- very slowly and bumpily.

Juanita and I kept our humor and joked about how much we would laugh looking back on this part of the trek with yummy cocktails while getting our feet done.

After seeing no signs of civilization for almost two hours, the bus pulled into a modest looking area with several low roofed buildings. We checked in at a place called the "Main Office," and got keys for our room. We also noticed a sign that said, in English, "This is a woman's only retreat." We shrugged. We weren't looking for guys. We wanted to drink tequila, eat authentic Mexican food, and get dressed up to go out dancing.

It turned out our room was the very last in a very long row in the brush at the back of the retreat (the location is important for later). It was spartan and clean with an old tile floor, twin beds and a wood burning fireplace.

I wanted a quick shower, but was quickly faced by a scorpion in the drain.

In my nekkidness, I screamed bloody murder (as I have a mortal fear of arachnids in general). Juanita rushed into the bathroom to find me standing on our toilet seat (no lid) with nothing on but a tiny wash cloth to cover me. (If you knew what I looked like this would be funnier. I'm just shy of 5'7" and the washcloth was all of 2" x 2".) Juanita bravely turned the shower on and luckily, the thing rinsed down the drain.

I didn't complain, tho'. Jack was very thoughtful for getting us there.

We decided to go check out the mess hall as it was time for lunch. The fact that they called it a mess hall should have been a red flag. The food was vegan, and I'm not talking gourmet vegan, either. I've had gourmet vegan.

This was paste with fresh parsley on top.

No alcohol. Not even ice.

Lime-aid to drink and peanuts in the shell for dessert.

Again, neither one of us said anything.

Keeping our chins up and quietly determined to have fun, we decided to go for a swim. We headed down what we came to affectionately call "The Goat Path" a dirt and mostly rock trail that snaked down the side of a steep cliff. As we got to the pool a water aerobics class was being conducted. We decided to check out the other "splash" pools. Mistake. Big Mistake.

They turned out the be cement walled cess pools, with rusty pipes and awful painted art deco fish and mermaids mocking us from every imaginable place.

"Let's go back to the pool" Juanita said cheerfully. I smiled back and did an Oscar worthy performance of enthusiasm.

We both got into the water, as far away from the class as possible.

The water was as warm as a bath, you know, one you would normally expect to have bubbles in it? It was the middle of May. In Mexico. In the middle of the desert.

And the pool was crawling with Sea Monkeys. I. am. not. kidding.

The spa didn't use chlorine because they wanted to "maintain the natural healing properties of the water". Therefore, we were swimming in a mosquito breeding pool.

We got out quickly and returned to our room. Juanita said, "Jess, I am so sorry this sucks so bad."

What could I say? "No, it doesn't Juanita. Dinner will be better, we'll go book some spa services and that will make you feel better."

After we were both showered (my third of the day) and dressed we went to the main office (no phones in the rooms) and booked massages and mud baths and facials and manicures and pedicures. It was going to be a delightful trip. Despite no liquor, no chlorine in the pool, and the scorpion in our bathroom, we were going to have fun, dammit!

Sadly, dinner was much worse than lunch. There were some games we could check out. We took Scrabble and headed back to our room. We played in silence. A few tiles were missing. Some replacements had been fashioned out of toilet paper with the letter scrawled in ink on it. I noticed a couple of long bugs skittering across the floor (they looked like earwigs).

I slept little that night.

As we awoke Juanita said, "I'm sorry, Jess." She burst into tears.

"Juanita, it's great. I'm having a good time. Aren't you having a good time?"

Juanita looked at me and stopped crying. "Jess, what's that on your face?"

My hand instinctively went to an itch on my right check. It felt like a bite. I went to the bathroom, and indeed there was a welt.


She paused.

"Jess, these three days cost him TWO THOUSAND dollars!"

I was stunned. I didn't know what to say. After all, Jack had paid for both of us. "It's not that baaaad," I said half-heartedly.

"Jess, come on!" Juanita began. "The food is disgusting, our room is a insect breeding ground, there's larva in the pool, AND THERE'S NO LIQUOR!"

"Okay," I said, "you're right." I hesitated before I said the next sentence. "I've been thinking the plane crashed and we are in Hell."

We both laughed so hard we cried.

We chatted a bit before going to breakfast (we were both ravenous) and were commenting on how many other women we kept overhearing that were saying "I LOVE this place," or "This is my tenth year coming here. I lose ten pounds every time," or "I love how simple everything is."

Huh? Juanita and I stared in disbelief as we sat down to eat beans, undercooked rice and bananas for breakfast.

Two women I recognized from the bus came over.

"May we sit here?" one asked.

"Sure" we said.

They introduced themselves as Mary and Sarah from a little town in Indiana.

It was silent as we all looked to our plates.

Mary was the first to say, "This is disgusting," pushing her plate away. "I'm not going to eat it."

"Me either," Sarah said. "I came here because I'm vegan and I wouldn't give this food to my dog."

Juanita and I gave each other a look.

She said "Should we tell them our theory?"

I nodded.

"We think the plane crashed and this is Hell."

They both burst out laughing.

"What is up with all of these women talking about how great this place is?" Mary said.

"No alcohol" Juanita offered.

"Bugs" I said simply, pointing to the growing welt on my cheek.

"That's it," Sarah said. "They offer a shopping trip to Tlaquepaque (pronounced: til-ak-i-pak-i) and we're going to buy some booze."

After "breakfast" Juanita and I fairly sprinted to get to the main office. The trip to Tlaquepaque was booked for that day, but we got on the list for the next day. The bus left at 8 AM.

The first place we went was to a bar (at 9 AM). We ordered two Coronas and a bottle of wine.

To be continued...

Tomorrow I will post more of this story, if you ever return to my blog after reading this.


Friday, January 23, 2009

I lurve our new President

Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

He. just. rocks.


The Writing Groove and the Pink Fuzzy Thing

I've lost my groove. And I suspect a lot of it has to do with a stuffed, fuzzy, pink, horned thing.

Let me explain.

Here's how the day usually goes (since I am not teaching this semester):
I wake up with Tom, eat breakfast.
I read my online newspapers and see what's happening in the world
Tom goes to the lab (or to teach)
I take my laptop to living room to work on my diss
I write for a couple of hours (sometimes longer, depending on how the groove is going)
Reward self by writing blog post just before lunch

Afternoons vary but usually they involve blogging, commenting on blogs and either revising the writing I did in the morning or writing more content for whatever chapter I'm on. I take a 40 minute break to walk on the treadmill (when I'm being good).

Mixed in with that is usually laundry and dishes and cleaning; if Emma's in the mood I play with her.

So, pretty much, I am alone all day, everyday (except Emma, who like any typical cat sleeps most of the time). Which is good for someone like me who is a writer.

Lately, though, recall as I mentioned a few days ago that I am house/dog sitting for a friend. Her computer is not my laptop. Her computer sits at a very tiny desk; my friend is barely 4"5' (or 4'5" I never know which is which), but you get the picture--she's petite.

I haven't written using a desktop keyboard in so long I have to look where the keys are. Again the backspace is my nemesis. She's got all of these great pictures all over the room that I keep looking at (tropical vacations, family, friends). I was on one of those trips with her; I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

There's an old family trunk atop which sits family chockies, a mail scale, her framed Reiki certification, and two cute, stuffed, little, gray kittens dressed in human clothes.

Little angel statues sit on the desk shelves. A weirdly cute, hippo-faced, pink, fluffy thing with a horn covered in gold shiny fabric on its forehead, that I keep looking at, sits atop the computer desk, looking at me. I can't tell what the heck it's supposed to be. It's even got velvet pink feet and ears. I wish I had my camera; I'd take a picture and get your feedback.

I know what it's thinking. It's thinking I should just give up right now and go have a glass of wine.

I think/tell it, "I cannot, little, pink, fuzzy, horned thingy-- it's just after 8AM." My friend has some choice vino in full stock here.

Add to this that I am still on meds for my back. Goofy, fun meds if you don't need to be able to make coherent sentences or follow a thought to completion. I am so grateful I am not making as ass of myself on front of 20 freshman twice daily. At least no one can see me. I've reread some of my more recent posts and they seem alright.

I think I need to be at my own home.

I don't understand those folks who spend hours writing at Starbucks or other coffee houses. I guess they have gotten into their writing groove in their own way. I cannot write with any noise. No music, no talking. Silence.

Did I mention I am dog-sitting, too? He's adorable but demands a lot of sweaky toy throwing and petting and treats and letting out and playing tug with a pull toy. I don't feel guilty for not exercising. Rocky (the dog--a cocker-springer mix) is keeping me in shape with all of the throwing and the pulling and the fishing of his squeaky ball out of the part of the snow-covered yard where he poops (ew; took only one time for me to figure out that's not a good spot to throw the toy).

But writing for my diss? Nah.

I'm just glad she has access to the internets.

Otherwise I might just listen to that pink, fuzzy, gold-winged (I just now noticed those), thingy and go get a glass of wine.

(Oh, I think it's supposed to be a dragon?)

Then I'd be drunk blogging and we all know that can never be good. My kiver and lidneys wouldn't like it too much either. I mean, liver and kidneys.

I hope you all are having wonderful Fridays.

May no pink, little, fuzzy, horned, (and winged!) toys throw you off your A-Game today.

Talk to you manana.

PS: In case you missed it yesterday there was quite a stir in the comments section for yesterday's post. Seems I got me a troll (second one, I think).


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blog for Choice Day 2009

"Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard." Helene Cixous The Laugh of the Medusa

The right to choose protected by Roe Vs. Wade isn't just about choice. It must be made about ACCESS to pregnancy control options. We need to change the way we think about Roe V Wade and so-called "birth" control. We must insist, through our own language our OWN bodies be heard, not manipulated.

In the words of Cixous:

"I shall speak about women's writing: about what it will do. Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies -- for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. Women must put herself into the text -- as into the world and into history -- by her own movement.

The future must no longer be determined by the past. I do not deny that the effects of the past are still with us. But I refuse to strengthen them by repeating them, to confer upon them an irremovability the equivalent of destiny, to confuse the biological and the cultural. Anticipation is imperative.

I write this as a woman, towards women. When I say 'woman', I'm speaking of woman in her inevitable struggle against conventional man; and of a universal woman subject who must bring women to their senses and to their meaning in history. But first it must be said that in spite of the enormity of the repression that has kept them in the 'dark' -- that dark which people have been trying to make them accept as their attribute -- there is, at this time, no general woman, no one typical woman. What they have in common I will say. But what strikes me is the infinite richness of their individual constitutions: you can't talk about a female sexuality, uniform, homogeneous, classifiable into codes -- any more than you can talk about one unconscious resembling another. Women's imaginary is inexhaustible, like music, painting, writing: their stream of phantasms is incredible."

Celebrate today, the 36th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade.

It's not support of abortion.

It's support of female autonomy.

The celebration that ALL women have the "God given" right to self-determination. Our bodies, ourselves.

We must teach young women about their own person-hood beyond their bodies.

It is the persistent reminder of "birth" control that perpetuates the cultural attempt to distance woman from her own body, to move it beyond her own control.

Today, celebrate your womanhood, and the womanhood of others in your life. Please, check out the Center for Reproductive Rights.

We are all born with the right to determine what we do with our OWN bodies. May it be a reality for all women everywhere.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Day After

I just wanted to post a quick comment thanking all of you who visited the blog yesterday and especially those that left comments (it makes me feel loved :).

I am currently out-of-town, house/dog sitting for a friend.

But I wanted to check in; I am working on a meatier post and will hopefully get it up by tomorrow.

Is everyone else as excited as I am about Obama?

I watched the address at least five times yesterday and cried every time.

Aren't we the luckiest people in the world?

Hope all are well.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day in History

As some of you who have been with me for a while know, this day has been a long time coming. I know lots of you feel that way, too.

I am watching Fox News.

Yes, you read that right. I am watching Fox News.

Why, skyewriter, why? You may be asking yourselves.

Well, the Marine Corps band is playing and EVERY other news channel has pundits and reporters talking OVER the music.

Is anyone else as sick of Chris Matthews as I am?

But, I digress.

I wish I was in DC. I wish I could stand on the same patch of earth where our new president is taking his oath and giving the inaugural address. I wish I could be in a crowd of millions of people all there with the same hope, the same determination, the same swell of positive emotion.

It's a strange kind of feeling today. Excitement, pride, patriotic.

There's only been one other time I can recall feeling THIS American. But I won't mention that day because that was a day of sadness, of fear.

Today is a day to celebrate. A day to remember why we are this country. A day to reset the clocks and begin again.

There have been many great generations that have come before us. But I cannot imagine a more important group of Americans as those who live today--who voted for hope instead of fear. Who voted for peace and not hate. We voted for dignity over tyranny.

The inauguration of Obama is about so much more than just this day. Or the election. It is about giving Americans back a sense of UNITY, purpose, and responsibility to ourselves and ALL others.

Today, America stands and proudly says:

Yes, we did.

Yes, we can.

Yes, we will!

May freedom ring!


Monday, January 19, 2009

I was saving this for tomorrow...

But I had to share one of the smartest things I have heard in a long time.

In order for our country to heal, there is no "Right" there is no "Left" there is only FORWARD!

Thank you America for making the best choice, the right choice this time around.

If you haven't come across this Huff Post piece, it really sums up what I've been observing, thinking and witnessing all over the blogosphere and out here in the "real" world.

Happy Inauguration All!

PS: Please check out the post from earlier today of you have a moment. We must stay vigilant and no gets to sleep this time around!


Online Violence Incitement

Some of the RWFNs are griping about the cost of the inauguration.

Here's an article by a person who has actually DONE his homework on the figures.

Some are even going so far as to incite violence.

A quote from January sixteenth's The BoBo Files (sidenote, the writer's not a bad guy, but he's got some pretty extreme right-wingydings who frequent his blog):

"It’s time people to start breaking out the pitchforks and sharpening the tines!"

All you need to do is read the comments (particularly the "lock and load" one) and you'll see what this is about.

Is this neighbor against neighbor?

I know the BoBo is going to claim this is a joke, but inciting violence from an audience already keyed up for a confrontation seems irresponsible and unethical.


A Fragile Peace

In this eighth installment of my ongoing series (in case you want to catch up first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh) about the I/P and I/P conflicts, I wanted to post an update about the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

There has been a fragile truce called for the moment according to APF reports.

If you haven't taken a moment to check out Life Must Go On in Gaza and Siderot, a blog by two men on either side of the conflict, please take a moment to show your support for their plight. It is amazing that these two men are friends despite the conflict between their countries.

And they hadn't posted for a while (10 days).

I feared the worst until my rss feed updated today that a post had been made early this morning.

We live in a country free from this kind of horror. We are gearing up for a change in our country--change for the better.

In service to the world today, let them know we are listening and we know they are suffering unimaginable things.

Peace is a fragile thing. Let us help them to strengthen hope in it.

Quick PS: I don't know if the US national news will cover this but in case they don't, here's a snapshot of what Iraqi democracy and their own election process are shaping up to be in their first incarnations.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

We are One America

The upcoming inauguration has me thinking a lot about the dreams of happiness we have for our own lives and the efforts we make along the way to realizing those dreams.

I also have been thinking about the manner in which we treat others to get where we want to go.

Are our actions guided by love and hope or are they guided by a sense of fear and resented obligation?

I think it has to do with the nagging sense that we, as humans, are about to witness some major changes in our world as we know it. We are living in a moment of history and have means to record our place in that history as a country in ways never possible before.

I can only write about the wonder and awe I feel when I see our new President--a man who inspires people he doesn't even know to want to be better people. Inspires them to be part of their neighborhoods and communities because that's how we are supposed to be.

This is not hero worship as some in the burgeoning wingnutteries would like to believe. Those who cannot see the goodness in Obama are choosing to be blind. Are shirking any responsibility to join together with the rest of America in fixing our limping country. There's a lot of haters out there. And their speeches or rants usually start with blame or an excuse. It's never about taking personal responsibility.

As a (sometimes) reluctant optimist, I often am disappointed by what I see when I take a look out into the world. I see people hating and hurting each other over fear. Fear that comes from ignorance. Fear that comes from self-loathing. Fear that comes from not wanting to change or to be kind because that might somehow take something away from them. Fear that their "deciders" are no longer there to make their decisions for them. Fear that comes from a sense of powerlessness.

I see people trying to put others into neat boxes to keep their sense of order:

  • Democrat/Republican
  • Liberal/Conservative
  • Us/Them
  • American/Un-American
  • Smart/Stupid
  • Pro-intellectual/Anti-Intellectual
  • Capitalist/Socialist
  • Friend/Foe
  • Pro-Choice/Pro-Life
  • Pro Gun/Pro Gun-Regulation
  • Religious/Athiest
  • Christian/Non-Christian
  • Blue State/Red State
Those dichotomies never get us very far. One needs look only to history to see the danger of such binaries and the atrocities committed in the desire to make one side the "right" side.

The more I think on it, the more I realize: there's only one way we will get our collective asses through the reconstruction of America.


Perhaps instead of focusing on the things that divide us, the things that make us individuals, we should focus instead on the things we ALL share.

We need to reconceive the collective American Dream.

Here's some of my thoughts (and I welcome any responses regardless of agreement or disagreement).

The American Dream is about living life:
  • With a sense of purpose
  • Free from the fear of oppression
  • With the sense of responsibility to your fellow human beings.
  • As an example to others of tolerance, kindness, and charity.
The American Dream is about everyone--not just a select few.

I start this inauguration week with a confession and a pledge.

I admit, I was not as vocal or as participatory in my government as I should have been between 2001-2007. In some real sense, the attacks on our country fueled my fear that life was way beyond my control. That I was just one person in a sea of billions who had no power to change anything. So my sense of responsibility atrophied. I focused solely on my own personal dreams.

I lost hope in the bigger picture. I thought that every person was out only for him/herself.

I could never quite fit into that mold, no matter how hard I tried.

I noticed that kindness and compassion were things that were ridiculed. In the class I teach, students have confessed they see kindness as a sign of weakness. To be polite is to be beneath.


I hear this type of idea thrown out by the voices of dissent. "Bleeding heart" is spat an insult.

I care about you; each and every one. And that doesn't make me weak, or stupid, or liberal.

It makes me human. Just like you.

And I pledge starting this moment, to live up to the potential that Obama sees in me, in all of us.

It's not about just him. He's one person. But so am I. So are you. And together, we are one America.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thanks, Don

I just wanted to post a quick thanks to Don Smith at Creative Endeavors for the unexpected and very kind nod to my little blog.

I'm under a bit of a remodel and all of you bloggers who have been through the pitfalls of loading a new template know of which I speak.

I have a new post I am working on as Obama's train enters Washington's Union Station.

What a moment in our nation's great history.

For those here for this first time thanks to BoxCarOkie, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to browse the archive.

For my ever faithful and patient readers and friends, welcome back.

T-minus three days, all!


Friday, January 16, 2009

TGFB (Thank Goodness for Bloggers)

I have about 13 weeks to get the dissertation finished and ready to defend, so if I'm more scattered than normal, I'm ready with a bevy of excuses why.

After looking through my most recent posts, I noticed a certain turn toward the oh-so-serious (justifiably) but thought I would end this work week with a bit of a giggle.

A few things I have learned in my few months of blogging:
1. There's lots of people who share my world view. Cool people. Strong people. Smart people.

2. People from all over the world are interested in the blogosphere. I have folks visit regularly from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Greece, Finland, Egypt. Why not leave a comment, you fellow citizens of the world? I, for one, would love a comment about the state of world affairs from someone other than Wolf Blitzer, Brian Williams, Bill O'Reilly (*gag*) , and Chris Matthews. Or even a funny story if you don't want to talk geo-politics. A hi even.

3. There are some tremendous blogs out there. I love looking into the vast netscape and seeing the variety of approaches people take to make their blog THEIR blog. Some have themes, some are self-promoting, some are random (like this one, I think). What's exciting to me is the outpouring of SELF that is happening online. Perhaps we may better know ourselves and each other in this vast web experiment.

4. Committing to a blog is not as hard as I thought it would be. I have three others that I started years ago (that's why my profile member date is so old) that just didn't do it for me. In lots of ways, I am still finding my cyber voice. But, one thing I can guarantee is that the information I present here is researched and verified. And honest, no matter how hard it may be.

5. Last, but not least, laughter from a computer screen (while not a great as having a good belly acher with someone in the same room) is great for the soul.

To all my e-pals, e-friends, e-peeps.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my little wisps of thought.

How's this for a funny? (Pay no attention to the price of gas *sob*)

I wonder what the permission slip for this field trip looked like?

Words for today: If you know a good joke, tell it to a stranger today. That simple act of sharing a laugh could change someone's life.

Here's mine: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Happy Friday all

Random PS: Is it just me, or is Marie Osmond starting to look more and more like a hooker?


Thursday, January 15, 2009

RWFN: They're losing it big time

Apparently, RWFN haven't just lost an election, they are beginning collectively to lose their minds. As you read the following, ask yourself (as I did): Are we witnessing the beginning of domestic terrorist grassroots here? (More like Ass-roots, but I digress-- enjoy).

The following was written by Brandon Friedman: "Distraught Conservatives Retreating into the Realm of Fantasy" Huff Post:

"I'm not a psychologist, but this is really fascinating if you put it all together: It appears that distraught conservative pundits and bloggers are actually in the midst of collectively retreating into the world of fantasy as a psychological defense mechanism. Let's take a look at three recent exhibits that illustrate what I'm talking about.

Exhibit A: The RedState Army Strike Force

Earlier this month, the most prominent conservative blog,, began promoting what they've dubbed the RedState Army Strike Force. They've even gone so far as to design a unit crest reminiscent of an actual military insignia:

This Strike Force is apparently code for a political "field organization." And yes, it's funny. But what makes it a little odd are the periodic posts on the website that use an overabundance of military language when referencing normal political field activity. Like this excerpt from a post by founder Erick Erickson called "Soldiers on the Ground:"

In Kentucky we have only 75 members of the RedState Army of Activists. We need a surge in Kentucky -- we need an army of activists who are willing to pick up the phone and metaphorically kick Mitch McConnell in the nuts as situations warrant.

McConnell either works for our side or he works for the Democrats. But the only people he'll really listen to are in Kentucky. Same with other Senators.

So if you haven't signed up and aren't willing to help, stop the bitching. It's time to deploy the troops and fight.

When faced with the reality that they don't have any field infrastructure remotely close to anything progressives have put together in the past two years, it's almost as if these bloggers start... fantasizing. Like kids. What their project doesn't demonstrate, however, is any in-depth knowledge of field organizing or any seeming long-term commitment to the hard work that accompanies the act of successful political organizing. It's as if, rather than facing up to their electoral failures in 2006 and 2008, they'd rather take solace in pretending to be "warriors" locked in "battle" with their Democratic enemies.

But here's where they really start to make the stampeding retreat into fantasy:

Exhibit B: Repeated References to a Fictional TV Character as a Role Model and Source for Torture Policy

Ryan Powers does the honors for ThinkProgress:

The right wing's love affair with Bauer's use of torture is rooted in fantasy. The so-called "ticking time bomb" scenarios that Bauer often finds himself in and that conservatives cite as instances where torture should be allowed rarely, if ever, occur.

Unfortunately, Powers adds:

If right wingers see Bauer as an example of how to prosecute the war on terror, they might be disheartened to learn that even the man that plays Bauer, actor Keifer Sutherland, doesn't see his character's torture techniques as effective in real life. "You torture someone and they'll basically tell you exactly what you want to hear, whether it's true or not, if you put someone in enough pain," Sutherland said last year.

But that's no matter for your average conservative talking head or blogger. To them, Bauer has become a surrogate -- a stand-in -- for the leaders they wish they had. Even a number of my conservative Facebook friends have begun updating their statuses to praise Mr. Bauer. It's catching on. Thus, while liberals and moderates rally around the upcoming inauguration of a real, actual, charismatic leader and role model, conservatives are left to soothe their scared and broken psyches by taking comfort in the efforts and tribulations of a fictional character on a TV program.

Exhibit C: Making a Regular, Blue-Collar Guy into a War Correspondent who Delivers the News They Want to Hear

Whereas most of America sees a largely incoherent plumber from Ohio wandering cluelessly around Israel with a microphone, conservatives are witnessing the reincarnation of Ernie Pyle before their very eyes. Of course, if you've heard the guy open his mouth, you know this is, indeed, fantasy. But it had to be done. When the bad news delivered by the likes of Nic Robertson, Michael Ware, and Christiane Amanpour reached a crescendo for conservatives toward the end of October, they decided to invent their own reporter. In their own minds, they pined for one who wouldn't challenge their long-held beliefs that Arabs are Muslims and Muslims are bad, that Saddam did 9/11, and that there was no way a man named Barack Hussein Obama could ever be elected as President of the United States.

That trailblazing, fearless reporter for truth became Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher -- a man who, as soon as he got there, proclaimed "the media should be abolished from reporting."

I have to say, though, that of all the recent conservative fantasies, the idea of Joe the Plumber as the voice of conservative American media is the least surprising. That's because it is a persistent belief among many on the Right that training is unnecessary, that education is for elitists, and that wishing hard enough for something can supersede those things.

And I'm okay with all this. To me, it's evolution. By retreating so deeply into this fantasy world of strike forces, pro-torture heroes, and swashbuckling, allied journalists, we're witnessing a self-induced thinning of the herd by conservatives. They're actively choosing not to participate in the reality that is present-day America, instead opting to fall back on the comforting, familiar images of handymen and handsome actors on their television sets.

So much the better for the country. We'll tackle real problems head on -- with real solutions starting next Tuesday. And we will progress without them."

This would be funny if it weren't:

A) True

B) Scary

C) True


UN Headquarters in Gaza Bombed by Israelis

I think we've got a nation going rogue here.

Seems Israel is starting to write some checks its ass can't cash (god, I love talking like I'm in a towny bar).

Olmert said: "I don't think it should have happened and I'm very sorry."


The news is watching Shrubya waving bye-bye. Washington is preparing for the Inauguration of the Millenium, getting out the fine china and linens.

All while the flames of potential WWIII are being fanned in a little strip of land just twice the size of Washington DC, where there's little merriment, food, water and medicine.

Hold onto your hats, folks. And get online for your news. The main stream media isn't touching this one and I, for one, don't want to be the last to know the loonies have finally started the end of it all.

(A bit dramatic for a Thursday, but this is serious sh*t. Seriously serious sh*t.)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bad news gets worse

It seems that Lebanon is getting in on the action in the I/P conflict. Another non-US news source reports the same.

Is anyone else as nervous about this as I am?

What's up with the media and why aren't more people talking about this obviously escalating shituation? Cabinet, schnabinet. Just when I thought the US might pull its collective head out of its ass. . .


Country first? My ASS!

How's this for sour grapes and hypocrisy?

Headline: Geithner Confirmation Hearing Postponed To Next Wednesday

Perhaps the most important of the immediate crises facing our country and the GOP is going to stonewall this appointment until AFTER the inauguration?

Selfish, stupid, ass holes.

Does the GOP have even three brain cells to share among all it's members?

That party is a mess. They can't decide which side of their mouths to talk out of. This week: not having a college degree is bad. Weeks ago: having a J.D. in Constitutional Law is bad (re: Obama). Next week: Being related to anyone who has a college degree is bad.

So much for the campaign season talkity-talk-talk BS of bipartisanship.

We're taking notes, GOP folks. And our memory will be long. We won't let you ever forget what you've done to our country and how you continue to try to keep the US in turmoil.

Country first? Not if the GOP has anything to say about it.


Our outgoing administration must be held accountable

So let me see if I get this right.

Clinton gets his knob polished in the oval office and he gets an impeachment trial.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum, invade a country based on lies, sell weapons to people on both sides of conflict, endorse torture and they get a going away party month of self-congratulatory pats on the back?

In case you missed it, here's what Bush 43 thinks about himself, his policies and his legacy:

Wow. All I can say is: wow. He really has no idea what he is talking about. The thing about other countries' unwillingness to take on prisoners from Gitmo: Germany and France both are in talks with the Obama Administration to do just that. He's not even officially commander in chief and already some foreign relationships are starting to heal.

There he goes, Bush 43: Little Lord Fauntleroy of Mediocrity and Denial.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recession, foreign relations, and a rube

According to the AP, Rhode Island now leads the country in what is being called a "Deep Recession" by some analysts. Unemployment stands at 9.3% as of last November.

What is really hitting home for lots of families is that the decline of our economy is sharpening despite all of the dollars being printed and thrown at the problem. I am starting to think the folks with the padlock combination for the bank vaults at the US Treasury really have no clue what they are doing.

It's not that surprising either, given that even big-wigs in the banking industry didn't understand the higher math (derivative calculus) that was the model for capitalism for the past eight years.

Yes, mathematicians were controlling the markets, not economists or those with an education in finance.

Sound familiar?

Think Michael Brown and the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina not that long ago.

In 2004 Bush replaced almost half of his cabinet positions, despite the promise in his acceptance speech that he would reach across the proverbial aisle. Nothing like changing horses in midstream (to horses who've never been in the water before).

Today, one of the best and brightest women in the US starts her confirmation hearing with the foreign relations committee for the Secretary of State position in Obama's cabinet. I was a bit leery of this choice (for my own personal reasons) but I am glad that she is getting a shot at the job. I think we need her steel and confidence heading into the mess created by the shoot first, ask questions later diplomacy that has become the hallmark of US foreign relations.

It is important, now more than ever, that we, as Americans put aside our beefs with each other and support our government AND criticize things we don't agree with by keeping in touch with our local and state representatives.

My lower back willing, I'm going to a peace rally for Gaza on Thursday afternoon on campus. It is being sponsored by a coalition of peace-proponents from across the spectrum:

The Lebanese International Organization,
Purdue Arab Society,
The Lafayette Area Peace Coalition (LAPC),
The Iranian Cultural Club,
The Turkish Student Association,
Amnesty International,
The Muslim Student Association.

I can't shake the disappointment that the local Hillel foundation is conspicuously absent from that list.

Our world needs more people involved who can put peace before ideology. Put hope and humanity before theology. It is only by this route, I believe, that our world will begin to heal.

If nothing else, it will give me something to think about instead of the speech Bush is planning to give on Thursday night. More and more I am starting to think about how he and Palin are cut from the same cloth.

Despite whatever tripe trips from his tongue on Thursday, this is what he's really thinking, swagger and delusional confidence aside:

Go 'way now, Georgie.

PS: Is it just me, or do any of you feel the momentum building again as we head into the final few days before the inauguration?

Thought for the day: Support our troops. We need them home. Out of harms way.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe Scarborough Has No Respect from Me

Okay, so I had to post this little gem.

I have no respect for Joe Scarborough anymore. In the past, I thought he was decent for trying to open up a dialogue between people from opposing viewpoints.


He's just a dick, too.

Two posts in one day on dicks. I'll be back with more relevant (hopefully) material soon.


Ann Coulter is a huge dick

I. cannot. stand. this. woman.

She. is. a. huge. DICK.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. EEEWW she just gives me the creeps.

Come on. How can someone like her sleep at night knowing how destructive she is to the common good will of others? I dread the times her books are getting ready for release because then she has that nasty mug all over the tv box thingy.

Why does the media give her so much horsey-face time?

From Dispatches from the Culture Wars

Category: Politics
Posted on: January 7, 2009 9:30 AM, by Ed Brayton

Would it surprise you to find out that Ann Coulter includes a bushel of lies in her new book? I would certainly hope not. Media Matters documents a whole bunch of them. And you have to listen to Sean Hannity's fawning, sycophantic interview with Coulter where her fake persecution complex is in full cry, as she claims that "liberals are always pretending that they're being victimized, oppressed by right wingers and fascists and frat boys with rich daddies" - while simultaneously pretending to be victimized by the media that ignores her AND simultaneously promoting her appearance on the CBS morning show the next day. Irony meters just aren't strong enough to withstand the blow of a woman who calls presidential candidates "faggots" and then calls the media an "attack machine" that "smears" people.

You also have to see this Worldnutdaily article where, as usual, she engages in obvious psychological projection in accusing her critics of doing exactly what she's doing:

"These people pretend to be victims in order to advance, attack, and oppress others."

Stunning, but hardly surprising. What a loathsome fraud."

Warning: This video might make you gag, throw up, give you hives, uncontrollable fits of rage, anger, and/or frothiness. Why don't Coulter and O'Reilly just bite the bullet and get hitched?

Hope you all are having good Mondays.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Words from the midst of the conflict

Thanks to Willpen for posting this blog on her website.

It can give all great insight into the human reality of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict from real people in the struggle.

Please visit it and post your support.

We are the change we wish to see in the world.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Topics from the conservative blogoshpere

Freedom of speech isn't always a good thing.

Thankfully according to a recent PEW study, left-leaning folks comprise the greatest numbers on the internet (some say as high as 95%).

But, there are still those who are living to wait for the end-times, wag their oh-so-righteous fingers at others, tell people they are going to hell, and would rather spend their average life expectancy of 75 years on this beautiful Earth spreading hate, and fear, and downright meanness.

I've written about this a lot on my little blog many times.

But when I read folks who are talking about Obama's invented shady relationships, his lack of American-ness, and those same folks are calling someone like me un-American, I just get plain old pissed.

Our government was founded on the notion that we are ALLOWED to question our government. This does NOT mean I am a proponent of any of the following:

  • monarchy
  • oligarchy
  • anarchy
  • fascism
  • communism
  • bestiality
  • pedophilia
  • polygamy
  • abortions (altho' I am Pro-CHOICE; it is no one's business what women do with their own wombs)
  • sex education to those under the age of ten (there's some wiggle room, i.e., when there's a need to talk to kids in groups who might be getting molested, I think it's important and ethically demanded)
  • US involvement in conflicts abroad where atrocities are being committed using weapons WE sold them (see current powder-keg in the Middle and Near East)
  • Tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 % who hold 95% of the wealth
  • Bailouts for companies with poor and failing business models (banks and auto-makers alike)
  • A blending of Biblical theology with civil legality

In case those in the right-wing blogosphere haven't noticed:

  • This is not Biblical times
  • Almost 2 MILLENIA have passed since the birth of Christianity
  • Humans have found rational, scientific methods that explain many supernatural phenomena
  • Intellectualism is not a bad thing nor is being educated and well-read whether in an educational context or in real world settings.
  • Evolution is NOT a theory-- its a fact. The Earth is around 4.54 billion years old. Scientists have data and everything which conform to the scientific method to prove this.
  • The human impact on climate change is NOT a grand HOAX; it is a serious topic of scholarly inquiry performed by CLIMATOLOGISTS, not some hobby for conspiracy theorists. Scholars who get published in well-established, peer reviewed journals are in 100% agreement; we are warming our planet by our greedy consumption of fossil fuels. Besides, what rational person doens't WANT them to be wrong. I wish they were. But, folks, they are onto something and we're going to be waist deep in middle Pennsylvania and West of the Rockies if we don't do something to change it now. No more Disneyland either for our grandkids and great grandkids. The earth will remain; she's endured many cataclysms. We just won't be around to point fingers at each other when we are unable to sustain our population because we will eventually extinction ourselves (yes, I used extinction as a verb; I am four months from my Ph.D. in English and I can bend a rule now and then).
  • Here's a little perspective for you rightwingers, too. Earth's size in relation to solar system planets in our size range:

    Earth's size in relation to all the others in our solar system (the Earth fits into the famous "Red Spot" on Jupiter, first named in 1878; yup, it's been around a while):

    The Sun's size in relation to its orbiting planets:

    The size of our own Sun in comparison to the some recognizable visible stars in our universe:

I like to tell folks that evolution doesn't take the notion of a "Creator" or "Creators" out of the picture. In its (their) omniscience, time flows in one direction only and we have the cerebral capacity to be curious, to investigate the natural world around us and we can still be in AWE at the miracle of that creation.

Everyday is a gift. If you waste one day in fear, or hate, or righteousness, you have no one to blame but yourself.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Warm up those keyboards: Part four?

The following is an excerpt from the most emailed article today on English Al Jazeera: [I added italicized bold to some terms in the text below]

"The US House of Representatives has voted to endorse a resolution backing Israel in its offensive in Gaza, in which at least 780 Palestinians have been killed.

The body passed Friday's resolution 'recognising Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza' by 390 votes to five.

Twenty-two members of the House voted 'present' which means that they voted neither in favour or against the resolution.

The measure also noted that the humanitarian situation in Gaza 'is becoming more acute' (page 3 of pdf linked below) but did not rebuke Israel.

Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic congressman for Ohio who voted against the bill said before the vote: 'I'm hopeful that we do not support the inhumanity that has been repeatedly expressed by the Israeli army.'

'We must take a new direction in the Middle East, and that new direction must be mindful of the inhumane conditions in Gaza.'

Washington has been Israel's closest ally since 1948, when Harry Truman, the former president, made the US the first country to recognise Israel.

US-Israel ties

The US has been repeatedly criticised by Arabs for its unstinting support of Israeli actions. The US frequently blocks United Nations resolutions critical of Israel and on Thursday abstained from a Security Council vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The House has passed similar measures in recent years by massive majorities.

In 2006, the House voted to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah for "unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel" and supported Israel's incursion into Lebanon.

In 2004, the body voted to support a statement by George Bush, the US president, that it was 'unrealistic' to expect Israel to return completely to its pre-1967 borders.

The US senate had voted on Thursday to back its own resolution offering 'unwavering commitment' to Israel.

That recognised 'its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism' and urged a ceasefire that would keep Palestinians from firing rockets at Israel.

Harry Reid, who leads the Democratic majority in the senate, said on Thursday following that vote: 'Our resolution reflects the will of the state of Israel and the will of the American people.' "

Will of the American people? Just who is this guy talking to?

Here's a pdf of the resolution (only six pages long) if you want to read it for yourself for letters to your reps in congress.

My "favorite" quote from this piece of trash:

"to lay blame both for the breaking of the 'calm' and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas;"

Nevermind the Israeli blockade in place for over a year now on the Gaza border. Or the fact the civilians are the ones who are dying from bombs, food shortages, lack of clean water, and access to civilized medical care. It seems Olmert has taken a page from the Bush doctrine on pre-emptive war.

Sick. Just sick.

Is Reid correct in his assumption that this resolution reflects the will of the American people?


Out of it

Today I am way hopped up on prescription pain medication. Saw a Sport Medicine doctor yesterday (considering I am matriculating at a Big 10 school makes me feel good about her qualifications) and she added some meds to the ones I got from the other doctor on Tuesday.

Needless to say, the backspace button has become my nemesis and I keep forgetting what I am trying to type by the time I get finished with all the deleting of the wrong consonants, vowels, random punctuation, etc.

Apologies to those whose blogs I managed to visit before the meds kicked in high gear of my comments made no sense.

I'll be in touch again soon,

Happy Firsat all (I decided to leave that one in so you could see how well my typign skills are; going to the riught general area on the keyboard but not quite hitting the right letter jey.)

PS: My little blog post about Yellowstone (1/2/09) got a line in the Yellowstone Newspaper in the opinions column. Neato.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Senate confirms: Obama is 44th president

I had to post a link here to the Chicago Tribune:,0,5577886.story

For those who don't want to read the link; the Senate confirmed the Electorial College Vote.

All you yahoo cooks and nut jobs can go away now. It's locked down, baby!

Oh, and in case you're one of those "Obama's not a citizen" whackos:
"Also on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice David Souter rejected an emergency plea to prevent Congress from certifying the electoral vote. It was the latest of at least 8 appeals to the court in recent months — all quickly dismissed — asserting that Obama is ineligible to be president because he is not a "natural-born citizen" as the Constitution requires.

Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 to an American mother and a Kenyan father. Internet-fueled theories (emphasis mine; there's never been anything BUT these ridiculous theories) contend either that Obama's birth certificate is a fake or he is ineligible because he had dual nationality when he was born. Hawaii officials have said the birth certificate is authentic." (Chicago Tribune)

I hated to interrupt the most recent installment of my current series, but this is news, too!

Can't wait for the inauguration.


Gaza and Israel: Some background and current information

After digging online, I found some interesting statistics from the CIA's World Factbook regarding the conditions folks have been living under in Gaza.

  • Size: 360 square miles: roughly twice the size of Washington D.C.
  • Poulation: 1,500,000
  • 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 343,988/female 325,856)
    15-64 years: 52.7% (male 403,855/female 386,681)
    65 years and over: 2.7% (male 16,196/female 23,626) (2008 est.)
  • Official poverty rate: 51.8%
  • Official Deep Poverty rate: 35%
These poverty rates reflect actual consumption. If remittances and food aid are excluded and poverty is based only on household income, the poverty rate in Gaza would soar to 79.4% and the Deep Poverty rates would increase to 69.9%. This illustrates the high levels of aid dependency in the West Bank and Gaza, especially when you take into account the fact that the majority of the income of government employees is financed with foreign aid.

Generally small family businesses that produce textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs; the Israelis had established some small-scale modern industries in an industrial center, but operations ceased prior to Israel's evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements.

The Closure of the Gaza Strip: Key Observations a bit of background

Since June 2007, in response to the Hamas take over of the Gaza Strip and the on-going and indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, the Government of Israel (GoI) has increased restrictions on access of goods and people to and from Gaza. These have severe consequences for the day-to-day life of the 1.48 million Gazans.

Since then:
  • More Gazans than ever need food and direct assistance
  • Fuel shortages have threatened essential services and water supply
  • Life-saving treatments are not available in Gaza’s hospitals
  • 17 per cent of patients with referrals were refused exit for treatment in Israel, East Jerusalem or overseas
  • The on-going isolation of Gaza threatens the local economy
  • Baby milk, medicines, and cooking oil are increasingly scarce
  • Hundreds of businesses have gone bankrupt due to ban on imports/exports
  • Thousands of labourers have lost their jobs due to the collapse of the building industry
  • Building projects worth US$370 million are on hold indefinitely

Lack of Food
No goods other than basic foods and medicines are being allowed into the Gaza Strip and supplies of many stocks that are not considered absolutely essential are fast running out. World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that only approximately 41% of humanitarian and commercial food import needs were met between 1 October and 4 November 2007 (statistics for more recent times are less stable). Basic items including wheat grain, vegetable oil, dairy products and baby milk are in extremely short supply.

Prices of many items have increased sharply since July 2007 as a result of shortages, although local fruit and vegetable prices have dropped dramatically due to the export freeze and the ‘dumping’ of export items by producers onto the local markets.

Poverty, unemployment and lack of cash flow have put many prices – even those for local fruit and vegetables which have decreased - out of the reach of a large section of the population. According to WFP, of the 62% of households who stated a drop in spending, 93.5% cut back on food buying overall, leading to a 98% reduction in the purchase of meat and an 86% fall in the purchase of dairy products.

Robin Lodge, spokesman for WFP stated yesterday: "There is very little food commercially available," he said. "Very few stores have any food. There is a widespread shortage of cash so commercial activities have virtually ground to a halt. As far as the bakeries are concerned, they are no longer getting supplied with flour from the mills because the mills have run out of wheat. At present, the latest idea is that only 14 out of 47 bakeries in Gaza are operating and they are operating at very reduced capacity. We are trying to help out by delivering flour to bakeries."

Incomes Down, Unemployment Up
Unemployment is above 50% in the Gaza Strip. Joblessness in the Gaza Strip stood at 37.6 % in the third quarter of 2007, compared to 32.3 % in the second quarter and overall unemployment is 12% higher in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank.

Latest figures show poverty in the Gaza Strip has already reached unprecedented levels with around eight out of ten households living below the poverty line of 2,300 NIS (US$594) per household per month (a sharp rise compared to the 2005’s rate of 63.1%). Of these, 66.7%of Gazan households are living in deep poverty, i.e. on less than 1,837 NIS or US$474 per month. Poverty levels are 30% higher in the Gaza Strip than the West Bank.

As a consequence, more Gazans than ever are almost entirely dependent on food aid and direct assistance: 80% of Gazan families currently receive humanitarian aid (compared to 63% in 2006).

Despite the 3 hour cease fire, little to no improvement could be made in such a short window of time. The human impact of this crisis is relatively absent from our news. Here's one person's account of what is going on from a daily diary entry.

More to come. The bias toward blind support of Israel must be balanced by understanding the plight of the Gazan people (and West Bank which is another issue altogether). The world is paying attention to how our media is covering this story. And our media is failing--miserably.


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